Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Kreta Ayer Wet Market

Up next in our Top Food Markets of the World Series is number 6 on National Geographic’s list – the Kreta Ayer Wet Market.

Located in Singapore’s Chinatown region, this market is said to be bursting with all sorts of eats and treats. It’s no wonder that this market is popular among locals and tourists - you are able to find everything from live frogs to standard Asian vegetables!

via Flickr by Khalzuri Yazid
The Kreta Ayer Wet Market is renowned for its fact, it’s even alluded to in the market name! “Wet Market” refers to the practice of regularly hosing down the floors. This particular market actually has a long history of being a little damp; Kreta Ayer actually refers to the oxen carts that were once used to bring water to the market!

Kreta Ayer Wet Market

Location: Chinatown, Singapore at the corner of Kreta Ayer and Keong Siak Road

Operating Hours: Daily from 6AM to 1PM

Where Should I Go?

via Flickr by yeowatzup
Begin by perusing the many fish and vegetable stalls – if you’re feeling adventurous or in the mood to cook, then definitely pick up some ingredients to get you started in the kitchen. However, if the thought of purchasing live seafood makes your stomach turn (’s not for everyone!) you might be better off visiting the food court on the upper level. This particular food court specialises in a wide variety of local dishes, so take your pick!

What Visitors Are Saying:

“A great place to observe and browse the local culture of Singapore.” – 
“Chinatown is a must do when you go to Singapore, allow plenty of time to stroll around the markets/shops/eateries.” – anthea1004 
“Don’t miss the chilli crab and Hainan chicken Rice.” – 
“Singapore’s Chinatown is a cacophony of different flavors, colors, and sounds, but in a good way. It is kept amazingly clean, and given the Singaporean obsession with cleanliness, that is a good thing.” – slaintenh 
“If you enjoy markets that are busying with colour and everything under the sun this definitely is a must. Eateries by the dozen, all serving great food at reasonable prices. [...] On the cultural side, do gaze up and admire the wonderful old buildings that are lovingly cared for.” – David T

The Bottom Line

If you feel like living life on the wild side, check out the live frogs, snakes, eels, turtles, and preserved eggs (yes, these are for cooking!). Don’t worry though, there is an abundance of more mainstream seafood and produce to choose from as well. Make sure to check out the surrounding area as well – there are many historically and culturally significant landmarks to visit, such as some of the local temples.

via Flickr by William Cho
Have you visited the Kreta Ayer Wet Market before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: 4 Projects for World Environment Day

In honour of World Environment Day on June 5th, we've decided to do a Cute, Crafty Things post with a special twist: recycling! All of the projects that we've listed in this post use primarily recycled and/or thrifted materials.

These types of re-purposing projects are awesome for helping to reduce our waste and reuse "tired" items that might still have a bit of life in them, all while upping the cute-factor of our homes, offices and closets.

Flea Market Trixie: Re-purposed Vintage Doilies and Frames

Re-purposed vintage doilies and frames make for some interesting impromptu wall art! This project comes together in minutes once you've gathered your materials...and what a unique way to display Granma's cherished doilies.

Image by Flea Market Trixie
Click here for the full tutorial.

All You: Milk Jug Desktop Organizer

Instead of tossing your next empty milk jug, why not re-purpose it into this handy-dandy supply organizer. This would be perfect on a child or adult-sized desk, or in place of the kitchen junk drawer (...I know I'm not the only one with one of those drawers!).

Image by Amy Bell, Positively Splendid
Click here for the full tutorial.

Mommypotamus: No-Sew T-Shirt Tote

Be honest. How many t-shirts do you have in your closet that haven't seen the light of day in the last year? Perhaps it's time to re-purpose one (or several) of those bad boys into something a little more useable. If you're like me, you'll like this sewing required!

Image by Mommypotamus
Click here for the full tutorial.

EPBOT: "Dew" It Yourself Jewelry Stand

And to cap it all off, a little DIY using empty bottle tops. What a cool way to display your baubles and bling. I especially like that the bottom tier is shaped so that bracelets can be hung as well!

Image by EPBOT
Click here for the full tutorial.

And there you have it! Did any of these projects inspire you to get crafty with your recycling bin? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fun Food Creations: The Portraits of Giuseppe Arcimboldo

It's been a while since we've had some fun with a foodie artist...

While we usually feature contemporary food artists, we came across a series of interesting portraits painted by renaissance painter, Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593). Instead of using food as his medium of choice, Arcimboldo actually painted portraits re-imagined by incorporating images of fruits and vegetables, as well as flowers, birds, and other various items.

He was definitely ahead of his time in terms of artistic conception and inventiveness! Many twentieth century surrealist painters (including Salvidor Dali) are said to have admired Arcimboldo's work.

Here are two of our favourites:

Spring (1573)
Summer (1573)
Interesting paintings, right? And to think that these paintings are almost 450 years old!

All images via

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Artsy Afternoons in Scotland: A Sampling of Galleries

What better way to spend an afternoon than in an art gallery! And since we’re in the midst of our virtual tour of Scotland, we’ve done some digging to find you the best galleries in the country. Of course, we couldn’t choose just you get three!

via Flickr by Moyan Brenn

National Galleries of Scotland

Visiting Information: Open Daily

The National Galleries of Scotland is actually made up of three galleries located in Edinburgh as well as two partner galleries located outside the city. You will find the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art within Edinburgh; Paxton House located in Berwickshire and Duff House in Banff are the National Galleries’ two partnering galleries. The National Galleries primary purpose is to present a vivid picture of Scotland’s art from the turn of the sixteenth century to present day.

via Flickr by Spencer Means
Right now the National Galleries have a selection of interesting temporary exhibits which include a portrait series focused on the relationship between Roland Penrose, Lee Miller, and Pablo Picasso, a newly assembled grouping of works by American artist Roy Lichtenstein, as well as a display of highly celebrated Scottish painter David Roberts. The National Galleries show their selections from the Scottish collections “within a wider international context,” so they often have visiting international exhibits.

Perth Museum & Art Gallery

Visiting Information: Open Tuesday through Sunday

The Perth Museum & Art Gallery holds a recognized collection of national significance, which can be further divided into the art gallery, social history, and the national history. This gallery is home to many permanent collections, including a diverse natural history collection, a photographic collection surrounding life in Perth and Perthshire, and an archaeology collection that spans over 10,000 years of history.

This museum and art gallery has a history spanning almost 200 years! This Marshall Monument is one of the oldest purpose-built museum buildings in the United Kingdom, and was first opened by the Antiquarian Society of Perth in 1824 as a museum and library. In 1915 the Society gifted the building to the city with the understanding that it would remain a public museum and library.

via Flickr by John Lord
At present, the Perth Museum & Art Gallery is housing a number of interesting temporary exhibits, which include a collection of artwork from Perth nursery, primary and secondary school students, an exploration of medieval “bling,” and an in-depth look at the ways in which clay was used to shape many Scottish buildings and artifacts.

The McManus

Visiting Information: Open Daily

Located in Dundee, the McManus Museum & Art Gallery has been the hub of the arts and culture scene in the city since 1867. The McManus collection finds its home in an impressive Gothic Revival-style building and totals approximately 150,000 items of all different shapes and sizes.

via Flickr by MolybdenuM 91
The McManus permanent collection includes artifacts which detail the local community’s history, decorative arts and crafts (including a variety of ceramics, porcelain and art glass), and a wide array of fine art. Of significant importance is the exceptional selection of nineteenth and twentieth century Scottish art, and especially the work of notable Dundee artists, John Duncan and James McIntosh Patrick. 

Do you have a favourite Scottish art gallery? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: The Creative Kiddo Edition

This is another post for the little ones! There's something so magical about getting kids involved in artsy, crafty creative projects. They're little learning sponges and this superpower usually translates into some pretty interesting artistic works.

via Flickr by Philippe Put
After our previous kiddo post, Doodles to Dramatic Art, we just couldn't resist doing an entire round-up of awesome kid-friendly art projects that you can proudly display in your home for all to see. The main trick is to help in the initial "inspirational" phase, then step back and watch the magic happen.

Today we've got three awesome art projects for you and your kiddos. Keep in mind that the posted ages are only suggestions; with a little extra assistance these projects can easily be tackled by younger children!

Geometric Abstract Painting

Ages: 4+

This is an interesting mix of geometric and abstract ideas. This project by Robin Egg View takes a little bit of initial set-up time, especially if you're working with a really young child. But once you've got all of the tape in place you just let your kiddo go to work. Depending on how old your child is, this project might take a little bit more involvement...but that really just makes it more fun for both of you!

via Robin Egg View
Click here for the full tutorial.

Sunburst Paintings

Ages: 6+

This fun project from guest blogger Bar over at Small for Big provides a great outlet for a creative math inspired project. This project is easily adaptable to suit the materials you have on hand and is a definite upgrade from regular hum-drum colouring books.

via Small for Big
Click here for the full tutorial.

Winter Birch Trees

Ages: 8+

This is a great way to mix it up by using tape and watercolours to create a really beautiful, frame-worthy piece of art. Kathy of Art Projects for Kids dreamed up this beauty, and has so many more fantastic art projects that are sorted by age for navigational ease.

via Art Projects for Kids
Click here for the full tutorial.

Do you have a favourite kid-friendly artsy project that you and your little one(s) absolutely love? Share it with us in the comments below! 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Market Round-Up: June 6th & 7th

Saturday, June 6th

Arts & Crafts Fair
9AM-4PM, Caloundra Arts Centre, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Craft Party at NGV
11AM-3PM, The Ian Potter Centre, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Sunbury Craft and Family Market
8AM-1PM, Sunbury Neighbourhood House & Community Centre, Sunbury, VIC, Australia

The Olive Tree Market
9AM-3PM, Civic Park, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire
10AM-6PM, PNE Forum, Vancouver, BC, Canada

via Flickr by Orin Zebest

Sunday, June 7th

Arts & Crafts Fair
9AM-3PM, Caloundra Arts Centre, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Blackwood Craft Market
10AM-4PM, Blackwood Memorial Hall, Blackwood, South Australia, Australia

Market Republic
11AM-4PM, Newton Shopping Centre, Newton, South Australia, Australia

Salisbury Craft and Hobby Fair
10AM-4PM, The Gardens Recreation Centre, Salisbury, South Australia, Australia

Vancouver Mini Maker Faire
10AM-6PM, PNE Forum, Vancouver, BC, Canada

via Flickr by crabchick
Are you planning on visiting any craft markets this weekend? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can add them to our list.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Market Round-Up: May 30th-31st

via Flickr by Orin Zebest
This time around we've got a very wide selection of Australian markets; the temperatures may be dropping as we head into Winter, but there are still a lot of craft and farmers' markets to take in. Lace up your comfiest walking shoes and hit the road!

Saturday, May 30th

Burleigh Farmers' Market
7AM-12PM, Burleigh Heads State School, Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia

Craft Alive - Shepparton
10AM-5PM, Mcintosh Centre, Shepparton, VIC, Australia

Fernie Spring Craft Fair
10AM-4PM, Fernie Community Centre, Fernie, BC, Canada

Handmade Harvest Spring 2015
9AM-4PM, Bell Sensplex, Kanata, ON, Canada

Moe Art & Craft Market
9AM-2:30PM, Gippsland Heritage Park, Moe, VIC, Australia

Sunday, May 31st

Craft Alive - Shepparton
10AM-5PM, Mcintosh Centre, Shepparton, VIC, Australia

via Flickr by barockschloss
Handmade Harvest Spring 2015
10AM-3PM, Bell Sensplex, Kanata, ON, Canada

Lake Macquarie Art Bazaar
10AM-3PM, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Market on the Mountain
10AM-2PM, Olinda Hall, Olinda, VIC, Australia

Pall Mall Art & Craft Market
9AM-3:30PM, Pall Mall, Bendigo, VIC, Australia

Are you planning on visiting any craft markets this weekend? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can add them to our list.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: Colourful Crocheted Rug

All right...this is a bigger project than some of our other cute, crafty things. But look at how cool this rug looks! And even cooler is the fact that it's made out of recycled jersey t-shirt yarn.

This project kills two birds with one stone: 1) you get an awesome new rug for your bedroom/office/living room/etc. and 2) you use up those old neglected t-shirts in the back of your dresser. This is what most people would call 'winning.'

Photo by ludivineem
The original post by ludivineem is in French but you'll get the general idea from her fantastic photos. If you're worried about the crocheting, don't. Crocheting is not overly challenging and you're basically just working in rows for this project so that makes it even easier!

Click here for the original post.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Mercado Central

We’re off to Chile next for round five of our Top Food Markets of the World Series! Next stop – Mercado Central.

via Flickr by BruceW.
Nestled right in the heart of Santiago, the Mercado Central first opened its doors in 1872. It originated as a replacement to the Plaza del Abasto, which was destroyed by a fire in 1864. Since opening, the Mercado Central has become a common stop for the country's top restaurateurs, locals, and (of course) tourists. While you can find some produce, deli-ware, bakeries and pharmacy items, the main reason to visit this particular market is for the vast selection of seafood.

Mercado Central

via Flickr by Nicolas de Camaret

Location: Santiago, Chile

Operating Hours: Open Daily

Where Should I Go?

If you are looking for perhaps the most varied selection of seafood and impressive butchers in South America, then look no further. You’ll find both of these at Mercado Central. The selection of sea fare is seriously impressive and much of it is completely unknown outside of Chile.

Do you fancy a quick bite instead? Mercado Central is home to many little restaurants that specialise in local Chilean cuisine, so you’re sure to find something that will satisfy everyone.

via Flickr by Alvaro_Tapia
A word of warning: be careful when perusing this market, it's said that the floors are often slippery from frequent rinsing. As usual, exercise caution and be wary of pickpockets and scalpers.

What Visitors are Saying

“Mercado central market in Santiago is mainly a fish market. One can see different varieties of shell fish and other fishes. The choice is amazing.” – Ravi K
“It does smell like fish, but that’s because there are fresh fish there. The area outside is bustling and has many tourists as well as street vendors.” – RandyKasal
“We went through the market and there was something to eat, drink, and buy at every turn!! Great selection of everything.” – mammatVancouver
“Absolutely packed with customers buying seafood but what an experience. Half the population of Santiago seemed like they were there for the biggest range of fish I think I’ve ever seen in one place. Right in the middle was a range of restaurants offering almost any seafood meal your heart could desire.” – GIL440
The fish market in Santiago is an experience. It is very crowded, crazy, colorful, and noisy. Everywhere you look there are stalls with many different kinds of fish.” – Susan U 
“We explored the market and marveled at the amazing array of fish and seafood. We decided to have lunch there but how to decide on one of the many places available? This man says his is the best, that man says his is better...we enjoyed the interactions and finally decided upon one which suited us very well.” – OntarioAmelia

The Bottom Line

There’s a good reason that this busy fish market made it on to the National Geographic’s list – the selection is second to none! Whether you’re in search or fresh ingredients or are more interested in sampling the local cuisine, you will find exactly what you’re looking for at Mercado Central. There’s nothing fishy about this market...except the fish!

via Flickr by CocombreLibre
Have you visited the Mercado Central before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Scottish Foodie Adventures: A Day of Traditional Cuisine

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a day in the shoes of a Scot? While we can’t deliver a complete “day in the life” experience, we can give you a day of traditional Scottish meals! For those of you that have yet to experience authentic Scottish cuisine, you’re in for a treat. It’s not all haggis, shortbread, fish and chips, and whisky...although that’s certainly a good portion of it!

Traditional Scottish fare does share some traditions with British and European cuisine; this is mainly due to migration and cultural exchanges during times of specific alliances. For example, during the late Middle Ages (and especially during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots) we can see French influence in Scottish cooking techniques and terminology, such as referring to a large platter as an ‘ashet’ (assiette) or boiling fowl as ‘howtowdie’ (h├ętoudeau). Viking influence can also be seen with the use of salting and smoking techniques.

via Flickr by Moyan Brenn

Of course the Scottish terrain also greatly influenced the ways in which Scots chose to prepare food. With an abundance of fertile soil and bodies of water, the Scots saw an opportunity to grow vegetables, hunt game, herd cattle and catch fresh seafood. Spices were rare and expensive; so many traditional dishes only include simple seasoning. In fact, most dishes are very simple – their primary purpose was to provide warmth, strength and energy.

Breakfast – Porridge

The Scots know that nothing sticks to your ribs quite like a good bowl of porridge. This old favourite is a little different in Scotland though – stirred with a wooden spurtle and (if you’re a real traditionalist) only including water and oats. We’re not quite as traditional as that, so go ahead and add a little milk and dried fruits!

Photo by Felicity Cloake
Click here for the full recipe.

Lunch – Cullen Skink

If you are somehow still hungry after your big bowl of porridge, you can always grab a hot bowl of Cullen skink to tide you over until dinnertime. This thick soup is full of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Sounds delicious...

Photo by The Hairy Bikers
Click here for the full recipe.

Dinner – Stovies

This is a traditional Monday night dinner, because it’s supposed to be made with the leftovers from the Sunday night roast. Stovies is the quintessential thick Scottish stew and is usually served up with oatcakes and pickled beetroot sides. Go ahead and make it on a Wednesday, we won’t tell!

Photo by The Greedy Girl
Click here for the full recipe.

Dessert – Cranachan

This dessert is simple and sweet. It takes advantage of Scotland’s fresh raspberries, and if you’re feeling a little adventurous you can splash some whisky over the top. We love desserts that are five ingredients or less – thank you Scotland!

via Flickr by Robert Young
Click here for the full recipe.

Sweets – Scottish Shortbread

I know that we said Scottish cuisine isn’t all haggis and shortbread...but how could we possibly leave out the shortbread? Done right, Scottish shortbread is absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious. For this one, use lots of butter and skip all the fancy alternate flavourings...simple does it for the best shortbread around!

via Flickr by storebukkebruse
Click here for the full recipe.

Do you have a favourite traditional Scottish meal? Have you ever sampled authentic haggis? We’d love to hear about it, so sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: Monsters in the House!

Reduce, reuse, recycle...and remember to feed the monsters! How sweet would these be in a little creative space for the kiddos?

These aren't exactly the most high-tech pencil holders in the world...but they're pencil holders! They don't need to be. Made from recycled shampoo bottles, these fun little guys are the perfect project mix of whimsy and resourcefulness.
Image by Bianca Barreto
Lucky for us, this particular DIY tutorial has been translated from Portuguese to English. Even so, this little project is super simple and Madame Criativa's original photo tutorial is incredibly clear and easy to follow.

Click here for the full tutorial.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Castries Market

Up next in our Top Food Markets of the World series is number 3 on National Geographic’s list – the Castries Market in St. Lucia.

via Flickr by Jorge
Located smack-bang in the capital city, the Castries Market as it stands today has been in operation for more than 100 years! What originally began in 1881 as a way to improve the town’s appearance has now become a main-stay in the St. Lucian culture. The market’s bright orange roof provides shelter to three different markets: the craft market, the farmers’ market, and the food market. The market first opened on July 2, 1894 by British colonial administrator and author, Sir Charles Bruce, and quickly became a bustling hub for locals and tourists alike.

So here we go – let’s take a closer look!

Castries Market

Location: Castries, St. Lucia

Operating Hours:

  • Monday through Saturday, all day
  • Closed on Sundays

Where Should I Go?

via Flickr by Jorge
As always, where you go depends on what you’re looking for! If you’re in search of pottery, wood carvings, hand-woven straw hats, or other small trinkets, then you should head on over to the craft market. If it’s spices that you’re after, then you should check the tables by the farmers’ market – they are brimming with almost every exotic spice that you can imagine. Visit the food market if you fancy a bite to eat and are interested in trying authentic local cuisine. And of course, if it’s fresh produce and fruits that you’re after then you need to visit the farmers’ market.

What Visitors Are Saying:

“The town was very beautiful, but the market was a let down. Imagine your worst flea market times two.”  - Pattersonrebel
“This is a great place to go to see the local markets and to walk the streets of Castries and see the cruise ships docking.” – BU88LS 
“We got jewelry, spices, vanilla, carvings and more for such reasonable prices.” – michelewelker 
“In summary, this market place is mainly a tourist trap. If you are into looking at endless T-shirts and other souvenirs, then you may like it.” – igolfCA 
“It’s worth visiting the market for your locally grown vanilla beans, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks.” – Denise M 
“We tried; but could not find anything of interest worth buying.” – Tom D 
“Castries Market is an absolute dump. It is dirty and it stinks!!!! The stallholders try to rip you off and then you get hassled by the bums. Don’t waste your time or money.” – NewcastleMarkone
As you can see, the reviews on this market are a little mixed – apparently it’s a love it/hate it situation! In fact, a local St. Lucian newspaper noted that locals were “shocked by the recognition from National Geographic. After all the Market, surrounded by the CDC buildings has been largely known for all the wrong things.”

The Bottom Line

via Flickr by Ian Gratton
Even though the final verdict is out on this market, there are enough positive first-hand accounts from visitors that I’m still interested in visiting the Castries Market. While the farmers’ market sounds pretty appealing, I think my first stop would be to the food market to try freshly made roti or some authentic fish soup. I guess I’ll just have to visit in-person to see what all the fuss is about...

Have you visited the Castries Market before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below.