Saturday, 28 February 2009

What a morning!

I woke up to a small pile of vomit on my bed this morning. Oh, it was Rusty. In my wozzy state, I pulled out the sheets and mattress protector, rinsed in the bathroom before popping them in the washer.

On the way to the kitchen, I discovered Rusty has crapped on the rug in the living room. Oh, how can this be!!?? He has never done anything like this before and this time, it's on my precious rug! I cleaned and wiped away the poo and hurried out of the house to get to the market.

I stepped on a cold wet puddle at the main door. Rusty urinated in the house too? For some reason, he started to pee in the house this week. Again, it was something he had never done before. He had always been very disciplined.

While walking out to the patio to sun the door mat that's now soaked in urine, I managed to survey the damage last night's rain had done to my young vegetable seedlings. Two of my big tomato plants have fallen over and many young seedlings are now lying flat. At this point, I was on the verge of pulling my hair out.

The house is like a pig sty today and there are loads of housework waiting to be done. I was out all of yesterday doing my research and so forth for the new business. So, today is going to be a major house cleaning day. It is times like this that I wished I had domestic help.

While I walked to the market, SK took over the dog-walking this morning. I'm now taking a breather before embarking on my sweeping and mopping operation. The washer and dryer are humming and swirling in tandem as I write. At least the sun is starting to make an appearance and my mood is suddenly brighter.

Oh, what a night

I didn't get home until 2.30am last night but that is expected when I go out with my friend EE. Somehow we have so many things to say, time just fly by without us noticing.

CH and I went up to her beautiful office at 5.45pm. When I walked into her brightly lit office which overlooks the swimming pool and rooftop garden, I wished my office was like that too. It's right smack in the city with access to the well equipped gym, pool and jaccuzzi, I am so envious!

She presented me a nice gift, a water fountain to bring in lots of luck to our new business. She has always been so generous, treating me to dinner and drinks all these years. Last night, she insisted that she must treat us to celebrate the start of our business.

We were all starving by the time we left the office and I promptly suggested The Tapas Tree just ahead. It was a good choice because we had such a great dinner with lots of sangria, three jugs to be exact.

Before we even opened the menu, she ordered a jug of beer and sangria. I hope the waiter didn't think we were from AA!

Then we just went crazy with the tapas. We had smoked salmon with cheese served on toast.

Spicy Spanish sausage, fried calamari, spicy shrimps and oxtail stew. Everything was delicious!

As if those weren't enough, we ordered chicken croquettes.

By the time the paella arrived, we were too stuffed to finish the rice.

We drank and chatted for hours. In our inebriated state, conversation flowed freely. I had met EE through work many years ago and because we both share similar beliefs and values, we became very good friends. I've even became her daughter's god-ma.

Yesterday's night out with her and CH was amazing. I hope for more outings to come. The next one will be on me.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Make me less lamby!

k@Ye wanted to know what my Punjabi suit looks like so she can offer suggestions on how to make me look less mumsy. Well, here it is...

The colour is rather muted, so I have a hard time capturing a good image. The suit comes with a shawl and loose pants.

Here's a close-up shot.

The top, without the shawl.

To be honest, I had bought the suit because I was attracted to the pretty graphics on the shawl.

Ok, k@Ye, how are you going to make me look less lamby?

Over dose

At the dinner table last weekend, YK was lecturing me about my eating habits. "Mummy, you're becoming like Wai Por (my mum). You're eating too little and everything that goes into your mouth must be healthy, must not too oily or salty. No wonder you're always so sleepy."

When Wai Por heard that, she also started lecturing me. "You better eat more. You've been like that since young. Even your grandma used to nag and say your intestines will shrivel up if you go on like this."

Now I have 3 generations nagging at me about my diet. As far as I can remember, I was always on some kind of diet. Dad onced warned me about the consequences. His clerk used to go on medical leave because of gastric pains. Of course at that time, the advice just flew over my head. Looking good was paramount!

I indulge every now and then but generally I live on a very simple (boring) diet. I've been surviving on wholemeal bread for breakfast and lunch all week. I bought a loaf on Monday morning and I've to finish it before it expires. Nobody else eats brown bread at home, so it's all mine. I've finally finished the last slice for lunch today and won't be touching wholemeal bread for next few weeks.

It's the same scenario when I buy a pumpkin. The kids do not share my love of pumpkin, so I'll be eating steamed pumpkin all week ad nauseam. And then it's sweet potatoes. It's an endless cycle I tell you.

I can go on all day to defend my eating habits but I must agree, I do need more variety and quantity.

Mutton dressed as lamb

CH's friends are getting married next month and we're invited to an Indian themed wedding. So I was back at my parent's house, rummaging through my wardrobe in search of my Punjabi suits I bought eons ago in Little India.

It's a wonder they still fit but gosh, what was I thinking when I bought these outfits! One is in a strong green hue with silver threads while the other is a lighter shade of green. They must have been flattering at one stage but now they don't do a thing for my ego when I looked in the mirror. Mum kindly suggested I could easily find a lovelier one at the stores in Little India, at least they don't look so dated and mumsy.

But I remember Punjabi suits aren't the cheapest things around. I paid afew hundred dollars for these and I don't think I've even worn them at all. All I could recall now were the boutique ladies flocking around me cooing in unison "Ooooh, this looks so good on you. Look at how the green flatters your fair skin."

Enchanted by the chorus of accented voices and praises, I was dizzy with joy and handed several big notes with a silly grin on my face. Thinking back, that must have been their sales tactic. They've honed their skills on unsuspecting tourists out for a cultural experience, now they've reeled in another willing customer.

Now that I'm more sensible, I wonder if it is wise for me to go out and buy another Punjabi suit to add to my collection. It's likely going to languish in the darkest corner of my wardrobe after the Indian themed wedding.

I also dug out some forgotten dresses yesterday. One's a Ralph Lauren floral dress that I wore to Mother Hen's wedding many years ago. It still looks brand new because I have only worn it twice. I proved to mum that despite it's tiny size, I could still fit into it.

So, I ended up trying a blue sundress, a black cocktail dress and a couple of sexy little outfits. They all still fit me but it's just not the same anymore. Somehow, I feel like mutton dressed as lamb. Some clothes are just meant to stay in the darkest corner of the wardrobe and never be seen on my body again.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

So Simple

I like reading biographies and non-fiction books because I like snooping into other people's life. I get my daily dose from blogs and our newspapers. Today's papers comes with Mind Your Body supplement. My favourite sections in this health supplement are the interviews with The Pro and Fit&Fab people.

Today's Pro is a civil aviation medicine specialist, Dr Jarnail Singh. When asked about the type of people he loves, his answer is very simple: I love people who are simple, open-minded and who accept change. Naturally people who get his goat are: narrow-minded ones who wear blinkers, have cotton in their ears and are bogged down by layers of bureaucracy.

Now, I like this man already because I know exactly what he's talking about. I like simple people too. I've once lived with a person who can make the simplest thing very complicated and I can smell one from miles away these days. I try to avoid them like plague now.

I choose to think I'm a rather simple person myself. I'm not overly suspicious and I can be too trusting and simple minded. I forgive easily because I don't have enough capacity in my brain to hold bad and bitter memories. I'm not the vindictive sort who bears grudges because it is too taxing for me to plot and scheme against people.

I always give people the benefit of doubt but thankfully, I have pretty good instincts and trust my gut-feel. A simple person like me sometimes have a tendency to let my guard down too much that I become too vulnerable. Then again, I constantly have people on my side because of my sincerity and integrity.

My love for simplicity stretches to other things in life too. I have simple taste in clothes and food. I prefer simple experiences and activities instead of adrenalin-charged extreme sports. Even the colours that I choose are basic neutral ones. I prefer a simple lifestyle in the countryside far away from the city. My taste in music is simple and soothing. See, there is nothing complicated about me.

Like all things in life, what we need is a balance. I cannot always be an open book or there will be no happy endings.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Taking a bow

I'm touched by the generous gestures of some friends and bloggers that I feel compelled to blog about it.

Firstly, I don't know Petunia Lee in person but I read her blog daily. She's an avid gardener like me who grows herbs and plants in her rooftop garden. I like reading about her gardening adventures and when I feel moved and inspired, I would drop a comment or two. When she found me gushing over her chamomile seedlings, she offered to give me some. What a pleasant surprise!

Then there's Amy whom I admire very much. After meeting her at a talk on her experience as an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker, we became fast friends. When she heard about my new business, she immediately placed an order. That makes her our first customer and our products are not even ready yet!

Water Learner, who has also become friends through blogging, kindly offered to give us an advertising space on her popular blog. If you notice, she is not the type who clutters up her blog with stuff, yet she has generously given me a space for free.

My friend EE is treating me to dinner to celebrate the new business. Not only that, my readers have been sending good wishes, tossing confetti, doing the lion dance and inviting VIPS to the ribbon cutting ceremony (the virtual one that is) and so forth.

Thank you everyone. I'm touched and inspired by you all. Stay healthy and green, like me and my vegetables!

Gonna be busy

Now that I'm straddling between two businesses, there's so much to do and so little time. With a business, there is no such thing as finishing your work and shutting down when you get home. Your mind is constantly thinking of how to market your products and promote the business.

Best friend is an engineer by training. Being the methodological type, she's tasked to do most of the R&D work and work processes. I'm supposed to be the one with the creative flair, so I'm in charge of A&P which means I should start working on the website, corporate identity and brand building.

I've just dug out a pile of books from my library. It's time to read them again for ideas and inspiration.

We have plans to go on roadshows and events that can help us to build our distribution network. Since we're both doing this part-time for now, I can forsee our weekends will be spent working from now on. I'll have to find more efficient ways to juggle between housework, business and personal time now.

The consolation is we're doing something that we enjoy and we both love being outdoors. If our hobby is able to bring us income, that's a happy situation to be in.

New business

It is rather uncharacteristic of me to go M.I.A on my own blog but I have a good reason for doing so.

Best friend and I took the day off work to register our new business. We picked Feb 24th because it coincides with the new moon, one which radiates good vibes and positivity. It would be wise to make use of
its energies to form a solid business partnership.

Whilst we are excited about this new business alliance, subconsciously we both share the same concerns. For the sake of our friendship, she wanted me to be major shareholder. I, on the other hand, feel that we should be equal partners because we're best friends. Afterall, we're in this together because
we share each other’s passion to bring our dream to fruition and drive the business forward.

All my life, I've always been very cautious about going into business with family or friends. We've heard of how best friends can become foes over money and business and the last thing I want is to see our 30+ years of friendship go down the drain. Even couples who were once crazily in love can fall out over time.

My friend is the sensible type while I can be very emotional and she knows that. The good thing is, she is very good at managing people and handling challenging situations. So we have a good match here.

We met very early this morning and couldn't stop gushing about our latest venture. Her hubby, who joined us for breakfast to give moral support, quipped "You two aunties are in business!"

We walked to the business registry and emerged 20 minutes later as business partners. It's a first for my friend and her excitement was infectious, we were in high spirits all day. I remember feeling that way when I registered my container business 8 years ago.

We set up a bank account and visited several vendors in the morning. Her hubby joined us for lunch again since his office is nearby. I'm sure CH would be most happy to meet us if his office is in town. Even though he's my biggest supporter, I wouldn't make him travel all the way there just to give moral support.

We went to my parent's farm after lunch. The drizzle didn't deter us from visiting our little plot of land. Armed with umbrellas, we inspected the barren site and dreamed of a fruitful business. We could almost hear our cash registers going kaching!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Best mom award

I received the Best Mom Award by Janice. There are some rules to this game.
1. Show the award logo in your post.

2. Pick a picture you have with your kiddos.
This is where I realise I don't have a recent photo with the kids. This photo was taken almost 3 years ago while we were on vacation. I guess we're currently at that camera-shy phase which explains the lack of family photos. Teenage boys aren't too eager to have their picture taken with their sibling or mum. I'm not exactly keen on having my photos taken these days too.

3. Best experience as a Mom.
I don't think there is a single best experience being a mother. Motherhood gives you a wealth of experience which snowballs from the day you become a mother until your very last breath. It's a lifelong experience. Every mother hopes to bring her children up well and seeing them healthy, happy, grateful, appreciative and coping well in life makes a mother proud.

I think single mothers take the role of motherhood very seriously. When my kids were younger, they relied on me for everything, from emotional support to providing answers to their wacky questions. I knew I couldn't simply tell them to 'go ask daddy'.

Kids may not like to hear this very much but I sincerely believe that a mother will try not to let her own child down. It breaks a mother's heart to see the kids suffer or miserable. Kids learn that very early in life and know when to push the right buttons.

Kids may not notice this but their mother always cooks them their favourite food and leave the best parts (of the meat or dessert) for them.

Some mothers can be temperamental or strict while others can be indulgent or lenient, but all mothers mean well. A mother's love for her child is unconditional and she can never stay angry for too long. When she says "It's for your own good", she really means it from the bottom of her heart.

What kids don't often realise is when they break the law or get themselves into trouble, their mother is often the first to blame herself for not teaching them the right values or bringing them up properly.

That said, being a mother has its rewards. It never fails to bring a smile to my face when I hear kids speaking fondly of their mother. Sometimes my kids wonder if Rusty misses his own mother. Poor little Rusty was separated from his mom in Australia after birth and ended up in a pet store in Singapore. We bought him when he was 6 weeks old. I tell them, "I doubt it. Rusty thinks I'm his mother."

In many ways, don't you think I'm like Rusty's mother too? Afterall, he doesn't look at himself in the mirror and wouldn't know what his mom is like either.

4. Nominate other blogger moms out there that you consider the best mom.
In my opinion, every mother I personally know and come across deserves this award.

Life is good!

Look at Rusty! He's a happy dog. Life is good to him.

When I woke up this morning, he was still fast asleep in my bed. When I came home from the market, he was in the kitchen waiting for his breakfast. For a change, I roasted some fresh chicken in the oven. He ate everything up on his plate and stood at the door waiting to be brought out for his walk.

After putting the vegetables and fish away in the fridge, I took him out. My coffee, breakfast and Sunday papers can wait. I came home to deal with loads of housework while he headed to the rug for a nap.

He gets to go places with us too. In the afternoon, we went to the fish farm to look at marine fishes. The ground was wet from a heavy downpour, so Rusty stayed in the car. Here he is, looking out of the window.

And this is his view....

A pet hostel called Paws & Mittens.

Soon, we'll be going back to my parent's place for dinner. Rusty will come along too. He'll get to see his friend Cookie and be cuddled by my niece and nephew.

Life is good, Rusty!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Weekend joys

CH and I went to watch the movie Slumdog Millionaire last night. It was awesome. The actors, especially the endearing child actors, were brilliant, we walked out of the cinema moved by the storyline, music and acting. This is one of the best shows I have seen in a long time.

Now, it's almost 4pm on a Saturday. It's been a lovely day so far and I've finally finished all my chores. I'm having coffee and Chinese pastries from a vegetarian confectionery. I like traditional pastries like tao sar piah (flaky bean paste pastry) and chewy peanut candy. Yah, I haven't learned my lesson. My ulcers are almost completely healed and I'm eating 'heaty' stuff again. Oh well. It's the weekend afterall. I should do and eat what I like.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Lucky girl

My friend called me last night. "Aiya, why you keep blogging about depressing things?"

I couldn't help it really. When you're in pain, all you think about is misery. I promised her she will have something more upbeat to read about today. True enough, I don't even have to try very hard.

My ulcer is healing and is no longer such a big pain in the butt. While getting dressed in the morning, I thought I could see my ribs again. See, something good did come out of the painful experience. I have lost some weight!

When I was at the petrol station yesterday, the cheerful pump attendant greeted me with a big smile, "Just in time madam. Petrol prices went down by 3 cents one minute ago."

I felt so lucky, I promptly went into the store and spent money on drinks and useless things. I get another 10% discount on my fuel if I charge it to my credit card. With the savings, I always end up buying magazines and things that I don't need. Sometimes I wonder if I'm better off without the discount.

Maybe I'm just too deprived. I have stopped hitting the malls for months now. Clothes or shoes don't tempt me anymore. Instead, I spend more money buying groceries, detergent and garden supplies. If I'm happy, I grab a bottle of wine or gourmet food.

I'm rather glad that nobody cares about how I spend my money. As a matter of fact, I'm in a position where I control how the kids spend theirs. It's good to know that I don't have to deal with domestic squabbles like who's paying the bills or not paying them on time. I read about that in people's blogs and go, "I'm a lucky girl!"

Then again, I'm not sure which part of me is really lucky. I get to pay ALL the bills around the house. To be honest, I prefer to pay the bills than have someone control my life. Freedom is priceless.

Buy my pie

After reading about this pie shop near my place, I decided to eat one during tea break on Monday. That was just the day before my ulcers acted up. In case you're wondering maybe it was too heaty for me and my sore mouth, I don't think so because CH and I shared a small one that afternoon.

We ordered the black pepper chicken pie and it was baked on the spot. It arrived at our table piping hot and delicious! The business concept is very simple. There are only 4 flavours to choose from: chicken, black pepper chicken, minced beef and black pepper beef; available in individual ($3.90 each) or family size.

I don't know how successful this business is but I could see several delivery guys waiting around for the next delivery order. Apparently more people call up to order than turn up at the little shop. Sometimes you don't need a very complicated product to make loads of money.

I'll be happy to spend my golden years baking and selling pies from a little hole-in-the-wall shop some day. You must come buy my pie ok?

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dog tired

Yesterday I wrote about growing old and how nothing much has changed. Actually I need to take it all back. Something has changed. Why do I feel so darn tired all the time? Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with my health.

I'm like a zombie this morning. I am so lifeless and drained that all I can think of is to drive straight home and plop onto my bed. Yah, it's that bad. But I can't just do that, I have work to do. Besides, SK will be having tuition here after school which mean I can't leave the office until 4pm. I have almost 6 more hours to go...

High flyer

I have no more meetings today. My colleague leaves on the 11.30am flight to South Korea. Even then, he has managed to squeeze in two morning meetings before his flight out. After Seoul, he'll adjourn to Shanghai, then Hong Kong before returning to the UK. He's a hard worker and I've never seen him take time off to shop or relax on his whirlwind tours. He's the partner of the firm afterall, one who calls himself a dinosaur in our industry.

Still, his hectic schedule is nothing compared to our customer, the boss of a large shipping line who is known to fly to Shanghai just to attend a business dinner and then back on the same night. Traveling to far flung locations via several flight connections to attend business meetings is part and parcel of his job. He has no time to waste.

In case of domestic flight delays, plan B kicks in. The contingency plan is an elaborate logistics nightmare involving 8 hour drives from one province to another and a change of drivers and cars along the way. Just listening to this makes me feel totally drained. I can't even last a day living a life like that!

So you see, being rich and famous is hard work. I've seen how many of them work and I'm not envious at all. For all the work they do and the risk they're exposed to, they really deserve all that salary.

When I was small...

When I was younger, I used to wonder if I would become a different person as I age. By that I mean would I change the way I dress, veer away from the bohemian kind of clothes that I adore, style my hair differently or change my behavoir in my golden years?

In other words, would I end up with the curly auntie hairdo (like a hair perm gone wrong) and wear loose floral shirts and samfu pants like the granny next door? Would I still be funny and goofy? Will I have problem communicating with the young or be hampered by generation gap? Will I become naggy and bitter?

As I age gradually, I realise I'm still the same old person with the same old preferences and tastes. I still won't date men with skinny legs (ok, ok, maybe I will if he has a really nice personality) or have an afro. I'm still a boho chick (an older one no doubt) though I am no longer comfortable wearing anything too gaudy or revealing.

My taste in music hasn't changed and I do enjoy the same kind of songs the kids listen to. While I'm older and wiser now, I still behave like a child sometimes. Whilst my body is no longer as agile and energetic as before, I am still game for a good run or hike up the hills.

Yah, I realise I'm pretty much the same old person albeit one with alot more life experiences behind me. As a result, I am less impulsive and more aware of the consequences of my actions.

So for the younger ones out there who wonder about what old foggies like us are thinking... well, I hope I've solved your mystery.

What the fish?

My workday is almost over and I'm not even rejoicing. In fact, I am suffering from inflammed ulcers, I have no mood to do anything at all. Besides the broken lips, several new ulcers have popped up under my tongue, now I have a swollen tongue to match. My mouth is on fire!

What have I done to deserve this? I suppose you can't imagine how few little ulcers can bring so much pain and misery. Let's just say you can't even tempt me with the most expensive dish of foie gras topped with caviar and truffle shavings now. No wonder they say health is wealth.

Apart from the pain, my day was rather ordinary. We had four meetings and thankfully didn't run into any more competition in the form of sweet young things. Lunch today was a rather simple affair at a hotel cafe. I ordered fish fillet soup. When the bowl of steaming soup arrived, I kept fishing around but managed to haul up only rice noodles and green vegetables. Finally I summoned the waiter over and asked "Where's the fish?"

He took my bowl away and returned with another one topped with big chunks of tempura fish. Apparently the kitchen had forgotten to add in the fish. $12++ for a bowl of rice noodles and 2 strands of vegetables, they must be joking!

Anyway, I got my fish but could not really enjoy the meal because of my sore mouth. It's almost time for dinner and the pain is still not abating. It hurts to even think about food now.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

I made it!

Yes, I survived! I made it through a long day of meetings and a mouth full of ulcers with the help of 2 painkillers, 3 cups of coffee and a cup of tea.

Then again, I can't help but feel so old. When we were treating our important customers to lunch at a posh restaurant today, one of the guys' eyes suddenly lighted up. I turned around and saw a bevy of gorgeous ladies waving as they walked towards us. I counted 5 young ladies togged in body hugging designer clothes, flashing their beautiful smiles as they sashayed over.

As it turns out, they're our competitors in the same industry. They stopped by to say hello to our guests (who are also their customers) and moved on to their own table for lunch. I turned to my colleague (an industry veteran) and whispered, "Look at them! We've got to inject some new blood into our team!"

Seriously, our combined age is equivalent to the 5 young women added together. Lately, I'm almost convinced we're in a sunset industry but the sun seems to be shining brightly elsewhere. I hate to admit it but like a breath of fresh air, they make the future look so promising.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old lady, I actually sat through several meetings without dozing off except for the one right after lunch where I fought to stay awake. Anyway, the day's over and I'm a day older. Tomorrow is another new day. I pray that we don't run into another bunch of sweet young things again.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Broken records

Last month, we had the driest month ever in 10 years. Two days ago, we had a record high temperature of 35 degree celcius. Yesterday our air was heavy and hazy as a result of too many bush fires. Since the year started, we've had 288 cases, which is more than two-thirds the 426 cases recorded the whole of last year. I think we've just set another new record.

The deadly bush fires in Australia that claimed so many lives and wiped out entire towns as record temperatures turned the bush into a tinderbox were described as Australia's worst peacetime disaster.

Strangled by the collapse in gobal export demand, Japan's economy shrank at its fastest rate in 35 years in the fourth quarter last year. The first 3 months this year will be another horrifying quarter.

Our government is stockpiling 2.6m doses of bird flu vaccine. It's worrying to read about how lethal the bird flu pandemic can get. More than half of the 407 people who have been hit by bird flu so far have died of it. Infectious disease experts say it is a matter of time before another deadly influenza sweeps the world. I don't hope to see it happen in our lifetime.

All these 'records' were gleaned from today's headlines. Not very upbeat news stories to match my low energy morning. I woke up feeling very tired and drained today and my mouth hurts as the broken lips have turned into ulcers. It's too painful to talk. My colleague has arrived from London and my next few days are lined up with all-day meetings. I wonder how I am going to plough through my day...

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Big lips

I slammed into my glass door on Saturday night and ended up with a bruised forehead, bleeding lips, a painful elbow and knee. My lips are still a little swollen today. In fact, I look like I had silicone lip injection. I'm glad my nose didn't get hurt badly. For once, I am thankful to be blessed with a flat nose.

It's funny now when I think back but I was lucky I didn't shatter the glass or kill myself with the kitchen scissors. That night I went out to the patio with a pair of scissors to cut some vegetables. My mind was somewhere else and I had forgotten that I closed the balcony door behind me (to prevent Rusty from running out).

I was probably too excited to rush back to the kitchen clutching a bunch of chye sim that I walked through the glass door. It was dark outside whereas the living room was brightly lited. So, in a moment of distraction, the glass door became invisible.

I'm a fast walker even at home. I like dashing about from room to room and as a result, I bump into furniture all the time because my house is so small. I get nasty bruises from getting off my car too quickly or from bumping into the corner of tables and cabinets. Have I forgotten the time when I tripped and fell so hard, my toe nail got ripped off?

It's time for me to slow down. I used to get annoyed with the kids because they move too slowly but at least they don't hurt themselves or fall flat on their face like me.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

No fail noodles

After my household chores, I drove to the countryside to check out some vegetable farms. I would have adjourned to the vegetable and fruit wholesale centre if not for my rumbling tummy.

So I drove home quickly to fix lunch for myself and the boys. I made what YK would call the 'no fail noodles' because no matter how quickly or haphazardly I cook it, it always tastes good. Maybe it's the use of fresh ingredients like prawn, cuttlefish, tofu, lean pork and leafy vegetables, but it always turns out yummy.

Excuse me while I gobble up my noodles...

My father & my son

My father never fails to amaze me. I always have great respect for him but my admiration grows with every passing day. When I returned home yesterday, I found out he has been quietly organising the vegetable growing corner for me.

Over the past week, he had instructed the workers to build wooden stands with net covers so that we could grow vegetables on the raised racks and other shady plants on the ground below. The racks were ergonomically built to the right height so that we don't have to strain our backs when we work. They will be putting in new automatic sprinklers to draw water from the well too. All these thoughtful acts were carried out by my dad without any instructions from me.

I was reiterating to mum again how intelligent, motivated and diligent my dad is. She totally agreed and said, "This kind of man is hard to come by hor?" I can't agree more.

The plot that my dad selected is near the reservoir. Here is a gorgeous view of the resevoir just steps away from our farm. I'll get to enjoy this view more frequently if I spend more time there.

We stayed for a sumptuous dinner as usual. SK had been bugging me to bring him prawning, so we swung by the prawn farm at Pasir Ris for a couple of hours of prawn catching. To be honest, I never liked the idea of catching live stock and secretly hoped he wouldn't catch a single one.

At the farm, you will be given a rod with a tiny hook and a dish of bait. You sit by the pond with the rod in the water and wait until you get a bite. SK only managed to haul up 2 prawns after 2 hours.

Meanwhile, I sat around with Rusty. YK wasn't there as he was out with his friends. Rusty spent the evening playing with a black pup at the farm. I was told the pup's mother (I heard she has died) was a Jack Russell like Rusty too. No wonder they had such great connection and the pup wanted to follow us home!

When the time was up, SK brought his catch home in a bag. On the way home, he felt immensely sorry for the prawns and wanted to put them in a tank with air bubbles when he got home. He says he doesn't want to do any more prawning again. It's too cruel. My kids are soft hearted like me.

Earn new stripes

Now that I've replaced the faded cushion covers with new ones, what should I do with the old ones with broken zipper?

They can be used to dress up an old chair.

See, don't you think it looks much better now?

I'll go look for more broken things to fix around here. Pretty soon, everything around the house will be wearing stripes.

Friday, 13 February 2009

T'Was the Night Before Valentine's

I was in a mad rush yesterday evening all because I was just trying to achieve too much in too little time. I picked SK up from school at 5pm because he hurt his foot and couldn't walk properly. I started preparing dinner the moment we got home. To make things easy, I could have bought dinner but noooo, I wanted to cook Asian Paella before leaving for the play.

At 5.30pm, I started chopping Chinese sausage and shallots, soaking dried scallop, shrimps and mushroom in hot water, washing cabbage and long beans, thawing prawns and chicken breast. Everything went into the cooking pan at 6pm.

I managed to squeeze in a little walk with Rusty before I showered and changed. I thought we had plenty of time until CH told me we had to be at the theatre before 8pm. Now where did I get the idea that we had tickets to the 8.30pm show?

We got to Victoria Theatre before the show started. DARK KNUT : WELCOME TO AVENUE QUANTUM was a live parody sketch show helmed by comedy quartet Jonathan Lim, Rodney Oliveiro, Judy Ngo and Terence Tay.

The funny bunch did many song and dance numbers to mock Hollywood movie trailers and local spoof sketches, mixed with hilarious mock ads and madcap multimedia moments. Their fun, campy and often crass humour made the evening very entertaining.

All that laughing and clapping made us hungry, so we headed to Liang Seah Street for supper. At almost 11pm, most of the shops especially the dessert stalls were still packed with people, so we settled for a hot Korean meal at Mario.

We ordered seafood pancake and beef ramen. The seafood pancake was fluffy and delicious. I especially love the crispy edges. The batter was made using flour, eggs, squid, shredded carrot, cabbage and spring onions but it was so light and airy.

I know it's silly to pay $10 for a bowl of instant noodles but Korean ramen is worth every single cent. The noodles are springy and the soup was so flavourful, I could drink every drop. The meal came with generous servings of kimchi, fried anchovies and steamed egg on the side.

We left the restaurant too full to do anything else except go home and sleep. In case you're wondering, we went to our separate homes. I know, we're boring people, even on the night before Valentine's Day. :-)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

A moving cushion

When I grow up, I want to be a cushion.

A cushion that moves.

*Another vanity project brought to you by Blur Ting*

Another V-Day

It's the eve of Valentine's Day and life is normal with a capital N. We've got no grand plans or romantic getaway to escape to. In fact, it has been this way for several years now. We're just not into paying exorbitant prices for flowers, candle light dinners and big gestures.

Okay, I admit I was more into it when we first started dating. Ah, those were the heady days of love. I remember buying a gift and making a scrap book for CH and he gave me something and brought me somewhere for dinner. Gosh, that sounds so long ago. I can't even remember where we went or what we ate now. But you see the point?

At some point, we have to descend from cloud 9 and return to reality. I do agree it is an important phase of love that is powerful, intense and keeps our species procreating. But of course for practical reasons, we cannot sustain that intense emotion over a long period of time.

Can you imagine if everyone's only thinking about romance and procreation, who's going to do any work or look after the kids? Or an entire nation of the young and old are out celebrating Valentine's Day? Gee.

Still, every girl (from the young to the very old) secretly hopes to be treated with tender loving care and adoration on Valentine's Day. I always say this is nothing but a hyped-up day but I've yet to find out if I'll be so nonchalant if I were neglected by CH. So far it hasn't happened yet.

In fact, he has bought tickets for us to catch DARK KNUT : WELCOME TO AVENUE QUANTUM - parody sketches, spoof songs and countless moments of sheer comic ecstasy, delivered with a uniquely Singaporean twist and a lot of naughtiness.

We'll probably be laughing so much we forget all about Valentine's Day. Thanks CH, you're a sweetheart.

Dinner & Fat dog

Tonight's dinner was made in a hurry because I came home late and was starving. So I rustled up some dishes quickly using vegetables from my garden and other things.

Here is a simple omelette cooked using chopped spring onions (from the garden) and eggs, seasoned with a little pepper and soy sauce.

I harvested all my kang kong today and here's what the dish looks like after stir frying with garlic and oyster sauce.

Finally, I must flaunt my pretty lettuce leaves which I paired with a roast chicken picked up from the supermarket on my way home.

Even though the lettuce looks beautiful and hydrated, they were rather bitter. However, it goes very well with chicken drenched in teriyaki sauce. We ate up every single leaf.

Finally, here's my fat dog. After recovering from his recent illness, he has gained back his appetite. I'm happy he's well again. Instead of putting him on a diet, I bring him on long walks at night. That way, we both get our much needed exercise.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

To spend or not to spend?

It was quieter than usual when I went to Vivocity during lunch hour yesterday. Parking was a breeze and I didn't have to dodge any crowds when I walked within the mall. The only crowded stores were small boutiques offering huge discounts of up to 70%. Still, many office ladies just browsed without buying anything.

When CH was there for dinner with his friend, they were many empty seats at the foodcourt which is rather unusual. It used to be packed and you had to wait for seats. Even the $2 Daiso shop wasn't drawing in the crowds.

On one hand, everyone's trying to cut down on spending. Yet, on the other hand, we are supposed to spend to help the wheels of the economy turn. If people stop buying, the shops will start to close down. Factories will have to scale down their production. Banks lose confidence.

Apparently this recession is different from the past. It has been caused by a financial crisis. So, we need to start spending now to help lift the economy today. By spending, you'll help to keep people employed or create new jobs.

All this sound very sensible but what if the person is retrenched and worried about paying for the next meal? Or if he is standing on shaky grounds, he could be the next one to be axed. Would he rather spend or save?

I'm rather confused myself. I have already reduced spending since the financial crisis started. Yet on some days when I had spent too much, I feel awashed with guilt and scrutinise my purchase for the rest of the week. It's a tough one isn't it?


I was at Vivocity this afternoon to check out a restaurant where we'll be hosting a business lunch when my colleague arrives from London next week.

Since I was already there, surrounded by so many wonderful distractions, I couldn't pull myself from the boutiques and ended up with some purchases.

I had no idea why I walked into this cheongsum shop that sells oriental wear. Almost all the cheongsum tops were colourful and flowery but I spotted a silk one in black and white featuring bold and simple floral prints. I tried it on and it flatters my figure. Cheongsums have this magical power to make one look curvy and slim at the same time. It's mine now!

I've been looking for a tee shirt to replace my favourite worn-out one (below) without success.

Guess what I found today? A pretty similar one in a looser cutting. The weather's been so hot lately, this will be perfect for days when I have to visit the container yard.

Finally, I bought these cushion covers at Studio Tangs at a whopping 70% discount. These will replace the ones I have at home (which are identical and bought from the same shop last year) which are getting faded and have broken zippers.

Don't you think they look like they're cut from the same cloth as my tee-shirt? It cracks me up when I think of those comic strips where everything at home matches, from hubby's boxers and wife's dress to the curtains, sofa sets and bedsheets!

Before & after

Tonight's dinner centered around vegetables picked from the garden. Here is what the kai lan looked like before cooking:

Here it is after stir frying with minced garlic and oyster sauce. I've never tasted kai kan that is so crisp and crunchy. Even the stems snap off with every bite. I'm not saying this because I grew them but they are much better than the ones from the market which tend to be chewy and tough.

Here is my spring onion in the garden.

Here it is, after being chopped up and incorporated into the beansprout dish which was cooked with small dried scallops and fresh tomato.

I should have harvested the spinach last week. I waited too long until flowers started to grow along the stem. I had to discard the stems as they became too tough and fibrous.

The leaves were tossed into a seafood soup featuring several kinds of fish cake.

Finally, here is one dish that has nothing to do with my garden. It's a quick stirfry using fresh shrimps and mixed vegetables. Simple but nice.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A blogger in need

Yesterday, I had a pleasant surprise. A regular reader who's setting up a new business, mustered all her courage to write me an email asking for pointers in writing a business plan. Of course, I was more than happy to help. *You don't have to be afraid to ask me you know. I won't bite!*

In fact, I so want her to succeed in her new venture, I wrote back immediately. It fills me with joy to see young people taking the first steps in making their dream come true. I always admire people like that. Those with aspiration and drive will go far in life. You go girl!

I'm also pleasantly surprised that my blog has allowed me to meet many people from all walks of life. In my two years of blogging, I've fostered new friendships, received a yummy birthday cake (thanks Huier!) and gifts (thanks Karen!) as well as met fellow bloggers in person (Amel, Nikki and Karen!). All these were beyond my imagination when I first embarked on this blogging journey.

It is in my nature to help a blogger in need, if it is within my capacity. So far, I've received nothing but good feedback except for this one time when a reader from across the world (I won't mention where) asked me to ship some foodstuff to him.

I did it immediately even though it was a rather complicated exercise. Our post office does not allow shipping of foodstuff, so I contacted DHL. I highlighted the shipping cost (which is very high compared to the cheap product I was sending) to the reader who said he's willing to pay. After visiting many grocery stores to find that product (it's cheap but not easily available), I finally shipped the parcel out. Due to the weight, distance and remote location of his home, the bill came up to US$190.

It has been many months and I have not received a cent from this person. The funny thing is I was slapped with an additional US$150 surcharge by DHL for extra weight only after the parcel was shipped out. I did not even tell this guy about the additional charges. In fact, I have written off the entire US$340 as bad debt but sometimes it makes me sad to encounter people like this. In case you're wondering, he received the parcel, consumed the product, wrote to thank me and promised to send money.

Well, that's just a remote case. It won't stop me from helping other bloggers in need just because of one unpleasant experience but this time I hope I'm wise enough to suss out the genuine cases.


My god-daughter keeps asking to see my photos, so her mummy shows her my blog. Now that she knows I can be found here, she wants mummy to visit godma's blog all the time. Little EH is officially my youngest and most ardent blog reader.

It's a pity I don't see her often enough and she's growing up so quickly. Here is a photo taken more than a year back. I was babysitting her and her dog, Schee that day.

I'm sure she'll be delighted to see this when she wakes up tomorrow morning!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Lunch date

I had lunch with CH at Old Town White Cafe today. In case you're wondering, we don't meet for lunch very often, so today's rather special. As I was feeling hungry, I had to restrain myself from ordering everything on the menu. It's hard to decide when all the pictures look so glossy and tempting. Finally he ordered Old Town Nasi Rendang Ayam while I had the Curry mee.

His order arrived first and being the nice gentleman, he started tearing the chicken into smaller pieces so that I can sample some of his food. The chicken is tender and so tasty especially when eaten with sambal chilli and fragrant coconut rice.

The curry mee topped with shredded chicken, fish cake and dried bean curd wasn't that spectacular. The layer of red chilli oil is quite misleading. It didn't taste as fiery as it looked. Somehow it lacks the oomph. Halfway through the meal, I swapped my bowl with CH.

That's the beauty of eating with him, we get to taste each other's meals. I'm sure the other patrons especially the office crowd must be so envious.

While I was there, I spotted a man wolfing down his bowl of Nissin Noodle with Ham and Egg. It looks just like the instant noodles that I cook at home when I'm in a hurry. Why would anyone pay so much to eat instant noodles at a cafe, I wonder?

When I eat out, I tend to order dishes that I find difficult to replicate or are too tedious to cook at home. I doubt I would ever order instant noodles or scrambled eggs.

Old & wise club

My friend E shocked me by saying that she enjoys going to rural places and shuns crowded places now. What happened to the party girl I'm so accustomed to?

She's the one who brought me to these clandestine singing sessions in private karaoke clubs where we allowed hostesses to sit on our laps and kampai all night until we couldn't walk. She has lived in the most hip cities in the world (Shanghai, New York and San Francisco) over the last ten years.

As far as I can remember, she could not tolerate the heat and humidity when she returned to Singapore and would hesitate to venture out of the comforts of an air-conditioned room.

It seems she is a changed person. I can only say, she has arrived, just like me. It appears that she has ditched her love of designer furniture and gadgets for herbs and plants now. She loves going to the beach and farms, breathing in fresh air instead of stale cigarette smoke.

It's all good, I told her. She's growing old, just like me. We've enrolled ourselves in the association of matured and wise people who embrace a healthy lifestyle. The ones who know when to stop and smell the roses.

When I was younger, I would never go near wholemeal bread, let alone eat it. Now I only eat wholemeal bread, in fact, the more grainy, the better it is for me. Food like sweet potato, pumpkin, bitter gourd, yam and beans that I used to turn my nose up at before appeal to me now. I've stopped eating candy and junk food. I shun crowded malls and prefer a quiet day in the park or digging earth in my garden.

The kids don't understand how I can enjoy such boring food and hobbies. I was once like them. They'll get there some day.


Before I left my office this afternoon, I made a list and I checked it twice. I wanted to be sure my trip to town was a fruitful one. First I went to a shophouse in Liang Seah Street to source for packaging materials. No success.

Then I walked to Tan Quee Lan Street to look at another store. Alas, nothing suitable.

The sun was beating down on me but I decided to walk to Bras Basah Complex. I walked up and down the building, again no luck. Then I walked to National Library and borrowed two gardening books. They may not be the best but it feels good to walk out with something useful.

I went back to Bugis Junction where I parked my car. There were lots of sales going on at the boutiques and shoe stores but funny, they don't tempt me. I left the mall without any shopping bags.

I decided to give North Bridge Road a last shot because I remember seeing a store there. I slowed down and scanned at the row of shop houses...Nada. They must have moved away.

Such an unproductive afternoon. Good thing I have the books. At least I can read about farming techniques and dream about veggies tonight.

Wanton etc

For dinner tonight, I made wanton for the first time. Yesterday, I hid behind the pillar at the market to observe how the wanton mee lady did it. She was so skillful and fast, she could make them with her eyes shut.

As you would imagine, it took me quite a while to make 17 pieces. It takes deft hands to crimp the skin into a nice shape, a motorskill I'm not particularly blessed with.

Using my clumsy fingers, I enveloped the filling (minced meat/shrimp/spring onion) in the skin and crimped it tightly into a ball to ensure they don't fall apart while boiling. They turned out quite well actually.

Here they are, ready to be eaten. The chye sim vegetable is from my garden.

I stir-fried some baby pak choi which I bought from the market yesterday.

Today's the last day of the Chinese New Year, so I decided to include some leek (an auspicious vegetable) into some of the dishes. In the dish below, I used the leafy part of the leek to stirfry with bean sprouts and tofu.

Leek is featured again in the dish below. I used the thick stem to braise with leather jacket fish and fresh tomato until it is soft and delicious.

Why is leek auspicious, you may ask? Chinese Leek is called da suan, which sounds like "counting". It is served by the Teochews with other dishes to make a combination symbolising auspicious abundance. So, I hope we'll have lots of money to count this year!