Oatmeal Cookies from halfbakedharvest.com

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Just out the oven. Waiting for my teeth to sink into them.

I think I’ve made these more than ten times now, ever since I discovered the recipe at Half Baked Harvest just a couple of months ago. I’ve been meaning to make my own cookies for some time and finally got around to checking out some recipes online. I chose this one and it’s like I hit the jackpot because they are, oh my God, so good, and so fast and easy to make. I wanted a recipe I could rely on time and again, and this is just that as like I said, I’ve made them more than ten times in the space of maybe two months.

The recipe is from the mum of the blog’s writer, Tieghan Gerard, and is actually for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. But I substituted dried fruits like cranberries, dates and prunes for the chocolate chips simply because I always have the former in my kitchen (I love them as a snack) and have been using them ever since. But I really should try chocolate chips one of these days.

Like the Chicken Soup recipe from Martha Stewart I’ve noted here some time ago (and have made many times since then as well), this recipe satisfies my criteria:

  • Delicious
  • Easy to make, even for a kitchen dummy like me
  • Not too many ingredients, so it’s not expensive to make and most or all the ingredients are likely to be already stocked at home

Last minute guests? Made these cookies for them. Decided last minute to bring a small gift when visiting someone? Whipped these little babies up and presented them in a cutesy little gift pack. So fast and easy. Hmmm, my mouth is watering a little now thinking of these cookies so much I think I’ll bake a batch when I’m done with this post.

Click here for the link to the recipe ‘Mom’s Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies‘ at Half Baked Harvest.

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It’s so fast it takes only about 10 to 15 minutes for me to prepare it. First I preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. I line two cooking trays with grease paper.

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Like that

Then the ingredients.

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First there’s 2.5 cups Rolled Oats. 2 cups Flour, and 1.5 cups Brown Sugar

Also 1 teaspoon Baking Soda and 1 teaspoon Salt. Mix these dry ingredients well.

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Then add in 1 cup Canola Oil. (I’ve used Olive Oil instead as well. Turned out ok too.)

Also 2 large Eggs and 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract. Mix everything together. I tend to use a spoon or spatula initially but then switch to mixing by hand to combine well. It becomes a crumbly, dry-ish looking dough, but as long as it holds up when you shape it into little balls later, it’s okay. Otherwise you’ll need to add a tad bit more oil.

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And finally 1 cup Dried Cranberries is added here to the crumbly mix

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When I use cranberries I like to use these. I find them at Aeon supermarket (in Johor Bahru). They are delicious and not too sweet as a quick snack too. And at a great price too at only around RM7 if I remember correctly. That’s like a little over SG$2 (Rate now is around SG$1 = RM3)

Use your hands to create little balls of dough. Yields about 2 dozen.

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 Bake for around 12 minutes.
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Love at first bite. I love oatmeal, so oatmeal cookies are the best kind of cookies there are to me.

The dried cranberries turn out deliciously a little chewy. But I’ve found them a little bitter if over-baked, so keep an eye on them when in the oven and don’t let them become too brown on top. I remember when I used prunes, they turned out so delicious and even still a little moist, but handling and chopping up those sticky prunes was a tad bit more work.  The cookie itself is chewy and substantial, like a cookie ball version of an energy bar, which makes one or two of these fab for breakfast.

(“One or two“. Hahahahaha.)

 

 

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An important message for all Muslims in the world, not just in France

I was browsing through LiveLeak, and came across this video by a French Muslim, passionately calling on his Muslim countrymen to report to the authorities if they encounter anyone talking about commiting acts of terrorism, anyone even hinting in the slightest that such a thing is alright. Report them immediately to the authorities.

Click here to go to the version with English subtitles as featured on LiveLeak.

The following is the original video as featured on his Facebook and Youtube, without subtitles.

You know, what he says is such basic common sense, something all of us are supposed to already know, and don’t need reminding. And yet apparently common sense and basic decency are so sorely lacking among some people, that this video is absolutely necessary.

Please, for the love of God, for the love of our religion and the love of all our fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike, please report anyone you come across who you suspect of being involved with terrorist activities. The great majority of us will be fortunate enough to never come across such people in our lifetime, but for those who do, anyone who speaks of commiting murder and other crimes must be reported. No ifs and buts. I don’t see how any of us can look at ourselves in the mirror again and not feel like a heinous criminal ourselves if we come across such people, yet keep quiet for whatever reason.

In case you’re reading this but you’re not going to watch the video (I really hope you will, plus it’s less than 3 minutes) here are the English subtitles that was part of the video on LiveLeak (I think courtesy of the person who posted the video there, Denidorm). I took the bother to type it out because his message is so important.

Peace be upon you

 

I’m making this video because I’m sick of it

I’m sick of all these attacks

I’m sick to see it going to shit like that

This way we’re gonna end up with a civil war

An idealogical war

and it can get very ugly

 

So I say to all Muslims of France

protect our beautiful religion

let’s track these imposters down

who pass for Muslims and kill people

It’s not the government that’s gonna do the work

Not state security or the intelligence services or all that

It’s us, us Muslims who go to the mosque

Us Muslims who share the values of the republic

It’s up to us to do the work

To track these sons of bitches down

To inform the authorities at the slightest

 

That doesn’t make you a snitch, the opposite

Because with that mentality

tomorrow they’ll blow you up

Or your mother or sister will be there

 

So it’s up to us, Muslims of France

who have our religion in our hearts

the values and principles of Islam,

religion of peace and sharing

It’s up to us to fuck up

the shit that’s inside our religion

 

The people who don’t frequent the mosque

don’t succeed cause it’s a never ending job

So rise up, rise up and show who we are

Even if we don’t have to justify anything,

because the smart know

that’s not what Islam stands for

 

But it’s up to us, to fuck them up,

wherever we or they are

If they come to talk and try to brainwash you,

track them down and break their jaws

 

Because the solution can only come from us Muslims, from inside

Because these people, sadly, they come to the same places of worship as us

 

So I repeat, it’s up to us, us Muslims of France

who share the values of the republic

who share the values of Islam

It’s up to us to track them down

and bring them before the competent authority

Even if we have to beat them down with our fists, we will beat them down with our fists

 

Enough with these cunt pseudo-Muslims

who incriminate 2 billion Muslims

 

Because whether you like it or not,

they will lump us together, every day

A brother will put in his resume, he has a beard? They will put it aside

There’s so many examples of that

It’s up to us to not stay silent, deaf and blind

Hit them hard

The solution will come from us, French Muslims

 

Peace be upon you

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Related:

 

 

No need to put others down to love ourselves

I came across the following meme quote or whatever you call it on someone’s social media account.

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As if it’s not enough some of us have to tackle prejudice from some straight people. So let’s turn on each other to spice life up further? So silly.

Except for the Madonna part (because I love her) I would say the description in the image would fit me to a T. I find the poster stupid, though. It’s supposed to be a joke, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but that’s how something more serious starts. With a joke about other people, spreading the idea that they are inferior or undesirable in some way.

Or the occasional off-hand or snide remark thrown by an acquaintance, or disappointingly, someone closer like a friend? Buh-bye. Thanks for revealing what an asshole you actually are. I now know to avoid you from now on, because I value my time and my peace of mind.

It should have ended with “I just happen to be a man who likes men, but just as capable of being a hissy bitchy queen as any other gay man including those I just dismissed as a fucking cliche.

But yeah, okay, that would be too long and just not as sassy LOL.

Around The World by Daft Punk

I don’t celebrate Halloween. I think in Singapore it’s mainly a party thing, another theme for the nightclubs to provide more fun and variety in entertainment to their patrons. Last night though I was watching Daft Punk‘s music video for their song Around The World and I thought it would be nice to put it here today. It’s a tad spooky and lots of fun, just like what I think of Halloween. I think it’s so cool that the video is almost twenty years old and still awesome!

I’ve loved this video since I first came across it only a few years ago. Love how original it is for a music video, and love its choregraphy, costumes, stage design, everything else about it. From Wikipedia I found out that the choreographer of the video’s hypnotic and highly entertaining dance is Bianca Li, and that its director is Michel Gondry, the guy who directed the gorgeous Jim Carrey movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as one of the writers.

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo. Around The World is from their debut album Homework. Both were released in 1997. More recently they also achieved great success with the excellent song Get Lucky, a collaboration with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers. The album which the song came from, Random Access Memories, won Album of The Year and more at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Oh here’s a cute Lego version too.

Supercute and supercool dancing bear in all of his fabulosity

I’ve been meaning to post this.

Last Friday night was Fap Friday Night, and my trusty go-to is Tumblr, where I came across this guy and his moves. I must have watched it twenty times in a row. I was hypnotized. He’s so incredibly adorable, in every way, but especially with that sweet, joyous smile right at the end. So cute.

What’s even better is that he has his own tumblr site. In the video below he has briefs on, but please note the website itself (j-mobear), which the link below leads to, contains nudity and is therefore NSFW.

Get ready to get hit by some gloriously fabulous moves.

If I have half his talent, I’d probably be confident enough to hit the dancefloor. I haven’t danced in years. I’m a terrible dancer, haha!

I can’t seem to find his name on his site, but here’s a cute photo of him. Cat person! Yay.

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Update 29 October 2015: It just occured to me I forgot to credit the Divine Miss M for teaching me the word ‘fabulosity’, which I first heard from her 1999 song ‘I’m Beautiful’.

The Tiny House as an option for refugees

The best option of course is to have the bleeding stopped at its source. Western powers and other armies of the world coming together in a cohesive force and wiping out ISIS once and for all. European Union countries despatching humanitarian contingents with aid to the various countries (whether in Middle East or North Africa, et al.)  from where most of the refugees have come in a endless stream, to try stem some of the flow by working together with the governments of those countries.

If I accidentally cut myself and find myself bleeding away profusely, I don’t get busy trying to endlessly mop up the mess of blood pooling around my legs, because I’d eventually lose too much blood and then faint and die. I would try to bandage the wound first. But of course that makes me an idealist.

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By now the refugee crisis in Europe have reached a staggering level, with Germany alone expected to receive 800,000 asylum applications this year, representing 1% of its population. As if that’s not bad enough, recent albeit unofficial reports put the arrivals at a higher figure. And then consider that, whatever the figure for Germany or other European countries, it still pales on a global basis because Europe apparently hosts around only 16% of refugees. It is developing countries that are hosting about 4 out of 5 refugees, according to a UN report I came across. Therefore the vast majority of refugees are suffering horribly in camps because the majority of countries generously hosting them are poor themselves and not providing adequate care to their own citizens. From this report, I read that the top 5 countries hosting the most refugees are Ethiopia at No.5 with 236,000 refugees in 2014 alone, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey at No.1 with 1.2 million refugees admitted in 2014 alone.

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I wonder if a Tiny House is a feasible option to consider for some of the refugees, for the countries that can afford to arrange this. I’ve always thought they were a great idea for the homeless in any city in the world, but I wonder if the Tiny House model could be applied on a much bigger scale for refugees now residing in tents and other camps. I got to thinking about this after watching a news segment about how the ones already in Europe are struggling to cope with the cold weather and a fast approaching winter.

Thinking out loud:

  • How low can the price of a Tiny House go? Especially if the parts are ordered on a massive scale to bring the price down?
  • If one costs $5000, building 1000 will set the government back $5 million. That’s nothing in govt. spending, but hundreds of thousands of refugees are involved here. So maybe build the first 1000 Tiny Houses and see how it goes from there?
  • And if the private sector and rich individuals get involved in chipping in to help with the cost? How many thousands more can be built?
  • Each unit would ideally house four persons, so at least 1 double bed and a futon that can be unfolded to a mattress to sleep another two.
  • The refugees themselves will be the manpower to build the houses. That’s a win for the government in cutting costs, and a win for the refugees too, regaining some dignity after having to be in such a desperate situation. Win-win.
  • The Tiny House is not just temporary housing to protect the refugees and other homeless against the elements, but should be meant to be a ‘permanent solution’ for those granted asylum status. This is bearing in mind that refugee situation can stretch into years or decades. The sooner they are settled in a warm home, learn the rules and laws of the land, learn to speak and write the language, learn the required skills to work, the sooner they can be less of a burden and contribute to the country.
  • Which means the Tiny Houses would have to be durable and should have some semblance of a real home
  • Toilets. I guess waste management will be the biggest headache in terms of cost.
  • Ikea! Get Ikea and their designers to come up with designs. And design and architectural students to come up with affordable, sustainable and durable designs.
  • Areas zoned to set up ‘villages’ of these Tiny Houses, the layout carefully planned so inhabitants can have access to community centres, schools, grocery shops, public transport, etc, that are set up to serve a cluster of villages.
  • When the infrastructure of these villages and their inhabitants have settled down in the future, option-to-buy to can come into the picture. Maybe that’s too far into the future, but I’m just thinking that hopefully some years from now, the situation with the countries at war (e.g. Syria) will have improved, with the help of the European countries affected (e.g. Germany), so that some of the refugees can return home as I’m sure many want to. No one doesn’t love their country. But for those staying, the option to buy could be looked into.

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I’m more into ‘traditional’ designs as opposed to modern especially minimalist ones. But the following Tiny House looks beautiful.

This is an amazing video of this guy in China, Ma Yihe, President of Yingchuang New Materials, and his 3D printed houses. Somebody managing a refugee crisis centre in Europe and anywhere else need to check this out seriously to see if this can be applied to their centre. 10 houses in 24 hours?! Just in time for winter!

An interesting video about a guy and his family in America and their dream of building a Tiny House. They bought a camper, stripped that totally right to the base and started from there. It took a year and this is the journey from start to finish.

I have so much respect for this lady Jenine Alexander. Never again will I brag about sewing my own curtains. Armed with heaps of ingenuity and determination, and a lot of hard work, she built a house!

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I have admired the Tiny House idea ever since I came across it years ago. It’s the ultimate fantasy for me when it comes to future residence. To own a small patch of land somewhere in a country like Malaysia, Italy or New Zealand, an area just small enough to have a Tiny House and a kitchen garden to grow a bit of my own herbs and vegetables. Yeah, okay, the fact that I’m shit at gardening does dent a bit the romantic fantasy bubble in my head haha, but I can always learn to be good at it.

My dream Tiny House looks something like this black beauty below

or like this

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Related (Refugees):

Related (Tiny Houses):

Some interesting information about the Tiny House Movement in the American context, presented in this beautiful graphic from custommade.com.

My new Pinterest

Every so often I would think of how this site needs pictures of some gorgeous hunks to liven it up a bit, or sometimes I want to share some images of some interior design that I like. But to write a post around a photograph that’s not even mine (by the way, the three photos below were taken by me), well I guess it’s okay once in a while, but I think it’s better to just use another platform such as Pinterest and just put the address of the site at the sidebar here if anyone is interested.

I should mention it now so as not to waste anyone’s time: To view the things on Pinterest, you have to join it by creating an account by providing your email address and creating a password. Anyway, my site is at: www.pinterest.com/simplehal

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Thistle Hotel, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Pinterest is a photo sharing website. It had proved to be useful for my work but I mainly use it as a way to relax. It’s like being sprawled on the sofa lazily leafing through a glossy magazine, but even lazier that that. Because if you come across something nice and you want to file it for whatever reason for later, it just takes a few clicks as opposed to ripping out a page or scanning it.

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Park Royal Hotel, Singapore

I enjoy using it as I get to file ideas, or just images that just strike me as interesting, in neat little folders. They call these folders ‘pinboards’ over there, and the images are the ‘pins’. The first time I used it was a few years ago when a friend asked me to design a shop he’s setting up. I was busy with work commitments, but still wanted to help in some way. I got the idea to start a Pinterest website to compile lots of ideas I thought would be relevant to him, and e-mailed him the address of the site so he could have a look anytime.

And then some time later when we were proposing the supply and installation of terracotta floor tiles for a client, she didn’t quite fancy what she saw in the few catalogues I had in the office. So again I turned to Pinterest to gather images to better relay to her what I think would work for her. The ideas were neatly divided into different pinboards like finish, layout, and pattern. Pinterest is useful and convenient like that.

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Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand

You can also pin images you come across on other platforms, including Tumblr, which I’ve also used on and off for some time as a way to compile images. I used to have 2 or 3 Tumblr sites at any one time. One would be for work, for example design ideas and solutions. Another would be fitness-related for example fitness tips and motivational quotes. Another would serve as inspirational eye candy (let’s just call it that). Also for things like, you know, recipes, things like that. Then it got tedious, having so many sites. I barely use my Facebook as it is.

When I started this latest Pinterest, I thought I would painstakingly bring over all the images that I had collected on my Tumblr sites and previous Pinterest sites, but I decided that would be boring and tedious (read: I’m too lazy to do it). I’d rather just spend the hours idly looking at new images and ideas.

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Related:

  • sheknows.com – Pinterest: What it is, how to use it and why you’ll be addicted

The Pickpocket Huntress

I came across a video of this unique and amazing woman, Eliana Guerrero, who volunteers her time and effort to look out for pickpockets who prowl Barcelona’s subways. Why? Simply because she loves her city so much that it bothers her how the rampant crime affects its reputation, and she thinks, “Nobody is doing anything about this. Somebody has to do something about this.” So she went out and fiercely became that somebody.

Well, she shouldn’t be ‘that’ somebody but just ‘a’ somebody. Because there really should be other somebodies joining her to help their city.

She’s really risking her life and limb, the way I see it. Even ‘petty’ criminals like pickpockets can turn violent out of resentment or desperation when confronted, and they tend to work in gangs. I hope she stays safe.

And I imagine it is a largely thankless affair. I can imagine some people are annoyed at feeling alarmed and give her dirty looks when she blows her whistle or when she reminds them to sling their handbags in front of their body where they can see it. I hope she brushes off the negativity she suffers and stay strong, and always be proud of the very noble volunteer work she’s doing for Barcelona.

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I remember how Bert stopped a crime in progress a few years ago in Penang, Malaysia. We were there because I wanted to do a marathon (my first ever full marathon). We had visited the parking lot of a mall where the organizers were distributing the runner’s bag which contained stuff like the bib number. Then we went to the bus stop in front of the mall to get back to the hotel. Naturally there was a big crowd of people at the bus stop, so when our bus arrived it was a slow process getting to the door to board it because there were maybe more than 50 other people crowding around it waiting to board. There was no queue. It was quite chaotic.

Bert saw it before anyone else. A young guy some distance in front of us who had almost reached the door, with his hand already dipping into the bag hanging from the shoulder of the guy in front of him. Bert shouted at him, “Hey, stop! Yes, you! You with your hand inside his bag!” Everyone around us fell silent, shocked and wondering what the white guy was screaming about. The surprised pickpocket glared angrily at Bert for a moment, then shrugged, deciding to pretend not to know what Bert was referring to. Now alerted, the almost-victim snatched his bag in shock and hung it from his other shoulder. “I saw you! I saw what you were doing!” Bert continued to yell at the pickpocket. He stomped off, suddenly not interested in getting on the bus.

The almost-victim never thanked Bert. Idiot. That annoys me now, thinking about it, but I wasn’t thinking about it then. I probably didn’t even notice Bert wasn’t thanked. I was busy being in awe. My man is so cool. My heart was bursting with pride for him.

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Back to Ms. Guerrero in the video. This remarkable woman is not even from Barcelona, but is an immigrant from Colombia, and yet her love for Barcelona is so strong that she and her incredible sense of civic-mindedness do some amazing and potentially dangerous work to protect this city that she had grown to love. Her city. That’s food for thought about immigrants. That they can see and appreciate what we may take for granted, and end up loving our city or country as much as or even more than we do.

Every city in the world deserves a pickpocket huntress or two hundred. The video reminds me of the subways and touristy areas in places like Rome and Milan, cities I have visited several times. The subways there can be quite unpleasant. Even Bert who is a native Italian was targeted a few times, maybe because he was with me so they thought he was a tourist too. Thankfully we were never victims. Hopefully never.

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Related:

  • The Savvy Backpacker – How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe — Tips for Outsmarting the Thieves
  • Life In Italy – A pickpocket’s tricks: How to Avoid Getting Robbed While On Vacation In Italy.
  • All Singapore Stuff – Woman’s handbag was cut and wallet stolen by thief at Ikea
  • Forbes – How to protect yourself from pickpockets and thieves when you travel (this one is a lengthy six-page article but contains an interesting and comprehensive list of tips)

No Sleeep feat. J. Cole: The Return of Ms. Jackson

I find myself going back to this time and again these past few days since I first heard it. The tune featuring her distinctive voice is catchy but very dreamy and relaxing. I love soulful slow jams like this.

This is her first single since ‘Nothing‘, which was released in 2010, so that’s a long absence especially from a megastar of her league.

I like the video for ‘No Sleeep‘ too. Especially for a ‘comeback’, it’s very laid-back. Not some outlandish epic production, but just a quietly exquisite effort that provides a good and suitable complement to the song, as what a music video should do.

It also contains a sweet tribute to her father Joe Jackson at around the 1-minute mark, with a black-and-white photograph of a much younger him posing together with baby Janet.

That sweet, famous smile is still a wonder to look at. And her wardrobe here, where she’s all covered up but still sleek and very stylish, topped with that gorgeous mane of hair, is so Janet.

I have read that she married a Muslim businessman from Qatar in 2012, and has therefore converted to Islam. But this is certainly not the first music video featuring a modestly attired Janet. One reason why her music videos that span her long career are so fascinating is her style which is always alluring and interesting, whether she’s sexily revealing or covered up. Of course it also helps that the woman is gorgeous right till today at 49. She can put on anything and still look good.

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I’m including the video for ‘Nothing‘ here since I love that last single as well. A very beautiful ballad that is a nice song to listen to right after the slow and sensuous ‘No Sleeep‘. ‘Nothing‘ is from the soundtrack for a movie called ‘Why Did I Get Married Too‘ (2010) in which she acted as well.

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Related:

 

 

Galaxy Cat

I came across this beautiful mural art at one side of Holland Village Market & Food Centre, the side that faces Haagen Dazs.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it. I find it fascinating, even as I feel a bit uneasy as I study it. It rekindles a suspicion deep inside me that I thought I had long banished.

That cats first came from outer space thousands of years ago, landing on our planet to enslave us. Cunningly working their way into our hearts with their fluffy cuteness and by pretending to be hopelessly derpy ever since. But we all know they are forever slyly plotting away in those pretty little heads of theirs on how to finally beat us into total submission. I have frequently caught my cats staring at me with a startlingly evil expression.They came close to domination with the ancient Egyptians, but all their effort backfired when they ended up being mummified along with the very masters they were seeking to destroy after seducing them. Progress has been slow ever since because they kept getting distracted into playtime by glittery things and puking out hairballs.

The designer of my keychain not only agrees with me, but thinks the situation is far more grim than I had thought.

Cats now rule the world

Anyway, back to the mural art.

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

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I am inspired by this artwork to call the next cat I adopt ‘Galaxy’. Or Gal, for short.

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Related: