Sunday 31 May 2009

Vacation dreaming

SK's one-month school break officially begins today. We celebrated the holiday with a BBQ at best friend's house last night. She asked if we would be keen to go on a scuba diving vacation in Phuket this month. I had to decline because it clashes with my business trip to Shanghai.

This is the second year which I had not planned any trips for the kids. We used to travel during the school holidays, sometimes even squeezing in a short trip during a one-week school break. I wonder what's holding me back this time? The lack of interest, spare funds, Rusty or the aquarium? There's always a reason.

I didn't want to disappoint the kids, so I booked a holiday chalet for SK and his friends in Costa Sands Resort in mid-June. There's a swimming pool and theme park to keep them occupied. Two full days in the sun, swimming, playing and barbequing with friends should be loads of fun for a bunch of teens.

YK's holiday won't start until 8 June. I've got nothing planned for him but he's old enough to take care of his own vacation.

As for me, I'll stick around and dream about the next vacation.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Father's birthday

We celebrated my father's birthday last night. My father is not the kind who likes a big celebration and presents, so it was a quiet family affair. My sis-in-law had a hard time choosing the birthday cake.

The little ones are coughing, so chocolate cake is out. YK doesn't eat cheese, so she avoided ordering cheesecake. In the end, she bought a butter sponge with a cinnamon apple filling, topped with crushed peanuts. It was delicious!

Here's my dad surrounded by the younger grandkids. When dad was younger, he wasn't that close to his own kids. He was stern and quiet and we were in awe of him. Though he cared alot for the family, we never had that many father-and-kid conversations. Somehow, he mellowed with age, now he dotes on the grandkids.

Look at how big Ting is now! Here she is, sucking on a cherry from the cake. She has grown into Little Miss Chatterbox, very articulate and intelligent. When I look at her, she is just the spitting image of her dad who was such a chatty and bright kid, we loved him to bits!

Like her dad who loved to draw as a kid, Ting is good at drawing too. She drew little people to illustrate 'kick', 'throw', 'catch' and 'bounce' actions here. I'm so impressed!

Night under the stars

We went to the free 007 classic (GOLDFINGER) screening at the Museum last night under A National Museum of Singapore Cinematheque Programme. What was supposed to be a gathering with friends under the stars ended up as an outing for three (me, CH and Benny). It's a friday night afterall and some of our friends had to work overtime.

The movie started at 8pm sharp. We had a little picnic of McSpicy burger, french fries, cheese, nuts and chilled fruit wine. Everyone one around us brought snacks to munch on. A man sitting behind us was eating Ken Ken dried cuttlefish. Each time, he dug into the plastic bag of shredded cuttlefish, an overpowering fishy stench wafted our way, I had to stop breathing until my face turned blue. Ok, I was exaggerating but of all things to eat, he had to choose the stinkiest!

The illuminated museum at night.

I'm surprised that I still enjoy a movie that's older than I am. Indeed, I do find some parts really cheesy especially the bits where the girls fall under Bond's spell but it was fun to watch. I must say the plots of older movies are simple and easy for me to understand.

More importantly, the weather was cooperative last night. It was cool and breezy though the humidity level rose towards the end of the screening. The three of us walked to Rochor Beancurd where Benny treated me to a refreshing cup of cold beancurd milk while CH had beancurd. It was an enjoyable night!

It's Saturday evening and I've been home all day. It's my father's birthday and we're meeting at my parent's house tonight for dinner and cake.

The day has been spent doing housework as usual. For lunch today, I cooked a pasta dish for SK using Gnocchetti all'llovo pasta I bought from a gourmet shop. These cute little shells were perfectly al dente after cooking, it makes a delicious meal especially topped with minced meat sauce.

Thursday 28 May 2009


It was one of those rare nights when I had nothing to do at home. The kids were eating out, I had already fed and walked Rusty, the chores had been done and emails dealt with.

At 8pm, I settled down to read a book. Quiet reading time has become such a luxury I can no longer afford these days, so I am very selective when it comes to the books that I read. I'm not the type who reads novels or science fictions, I only read books that inspire me.

Autobiographies, success stories, business and self-improvement books, travel and health magazines, gardening and cook books are all that I have. So it's no surprise the book that I picked last night was "Secrets of self-made millionaires" by Adam Khoo.

I bought that book several years ago and gave up reading mid-way through. I can't remember the reason for not continuing and can only guess that I couldn't agree to some of his points of view then.

Somehow, when I read it again last night, it began to make more sense (to me). Recently I have been thinking about having a passive income, a constant stream of incoming money even when I'm sleeping or not working. While having a business is great, it is nice to have several streams of income.

To me, it is not about being rich per se, but about financial freedom. The day you don't have to worry about paying mortgage, education, vacation, retirement or new business ventures, you've arrived.

The path to becoming a millionaire is really all about the mindset. I've read enough success stories, from Indians to Americans, to know that if you're someone who's positive, proactive, willing to learn and take action, you're already halfway there.

I'm halfway through the book and already some ideas have ignited in my head. I'm beginning to look at things differently and I should harness the power of passion, interest and what little talent I have to make things work for me.

A good lunch!

I met EE for lunch at Mana Mana Beach Club, a new cafe along East Coast Beach this afternoon. She bought me a gift from her vacation in Perth and I wanted to buy her lunch but she insisted on paying when the bill came.

We sat in the alfresco cafe, eating, drinking and chatting from 1pm to 5pm. The weather was cool and breezy, the food was good and the company was fantastic! Thanks EE for a most enjoyable afternoon.

The entrance to Mana Mana.

The view from our table.

Fried calamari rings.

Smoked salmon salad.

Escargot in baked cheese.

Nachos served with cheese, pickled chilli and tomato salsa.

Fried chicken wings.

I'm still so stuffed, I don't need dinner tonight. Thank goodness the kids are eating out, I don't even have to step into the kitchen except to feed Rusty.

Guess what EE bought me? A beautiful piece of aboriginal art titled "Platypus in Freshwater' by Leanne Ridgeway. I love the colourful aboriginal artworks from Australia. I'm contemplating whether to spread it on my table top or to hang it on the wall.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Cooking Indian curry

YK's good friend Andrew came for dinner last night. I happened to cook Gobi Aloo (Indian Style Cauliflower with Potatoes) which YK devoured with gusto. When he asked Andrew if it tasted like an authentic Indian dish, his friend said the Gobi Aloo he eats at home tastes rather different. You see, Andrew is an Indian and he eats real Indian curry everyday.

I couldn't help but grinned at him because it is like bringing fake snow to the eskimos. While assembling the ingredients for the dish, all I had was a head of cauliflower, some potatoes and a packaged masala spice mix. I was out of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander and ghee, all very essential ingredients used in Indian cooking. So I improvised and added in tumeric and paprika powder instead.

The thing is, Andrew loves the Chinese food that I cook for him. When he comes over during the weekends, I could see how he enjoys the shrimp dumplings or the mee suah (noodles) soup presented before him. He once told YK, "You're so lucky, you get to eat char siew (barbequed pork), dumplings and sliced fish everyday."

YK was quick to reply, "Noooo! We only eat stir fried vegetables and steamed fish."

Somehow, many people have the misconception that Chinese food is all about char siew and dumplings. I have not eaten char siew in years and it's not something you can easily make at home. While we often eat different kinds of dumplings, they are mostly not the home-made variety. They are time consuming to prepare, so I often stock up on frozen ones.

To whip up a quick dinner, stir frying is still the best way to go. It takes minutes to cook a dish and washing up is easy too.

I must admit that I've been experimenting with Indian cuisine the last few days. I made dhal curry and masala chicken that day. As the boys aren't too keen on the dishes, I gave some to CH. Rusty ended up eating most of the chicken which you can imagine tasted nothing like the ones sold in Indian restaurants.

Nobody touched the dahl curry but me. There's still one pot in the fridge. Luckily I didn't serve any to Andrew last night. I bet it tastes nothing like dhal!

Chocolate treat

YK is so sweet.

"I bought you a present!" he yelled as he entered the house.
I ran out to find him holding a box of Royce dark chocolate.
He speared one piece and popped it in my mouth. Smooth, dark and bitter. Really luxurious!
How does he know I have been craving for chocolate all week?

Tuesday 26 May 2009

The lucky ones

Remember the stray dogs that were banished to that Malaysian island and left to die? The good news is, the Furry Friends Farm has managed to rescue 20 dogs from the hellish conditions. They have been treated and are now recuperating in the animal sanctuary. They are given such cute names - Cantik (beautiful), Mickey, Kipper, Goofy, Mayor, Captain, Ketchup...- it brings a smile to my face.

More updates and photos here.

Now, why didn't I think of that?

Today I read about Mr Moh, who is a very successful wet towel businessman. Fifteen years ago, he was bumming around doing odd jobs, today his company supplies wet towels to restaurants, hospitals and hotels spanning over 30 countries.

From a simple low-end disposable product, he has managed to repackage it into a presentable product fit for the dining tables of high-end restaurants. Simple idea isn't it? Now, why didn't I think of that?

Then there's the Choe family who packages tomato ketchup and chilli sauce into little satchets and supplies them to fast food restaurants. From a mum-and-pop operation, they've grown so big that they have their own R&D facilities and an innovative line of products today. Damn, why didn't I think of that?

A company in Japan is selling a horror story printed on toilet paper. Each roll carries several copies of a new nine-chapter novel written by Koji Suzuki, the Japanese author of the horror story "Ring". Such a great idea! I should have thought of that too.

Maybe I can print math worksheets on toilet paper so kids can practise math while doing their business. Kids will probably start avoiding the loo. Then they will start having constipation and oh, parents will boycott my toilet paper or worse still, bring me to court! Ah, better flush that idea down the toilet.

Today I also read a quote from comedienne Joan Rivers:
"There's nothing nice about getting older. You do not get wiser. You just forget how stupid you are."
Gee, was she talking about me?

Business lunch

I had a site meeting with my customers this morning. The sky was onimous when I drove into the yard. By the time they arrived, the light drizzle had given way to a heavy downpour.

They were inspecting some containers we were modifying. This project has been giving me a headache from day one and I was hoping that the bad weather wouldn't dampen our spirits. We stood in the open yard under our umbrellas, scrutinising the joints and paintwork. They finally approved! I heaved a sigh of relief and suggested a celebratory lunch.

The yard is located in an awkward corner of Singapore, right at the fringe of the countryside to be exact. I know the area as it's close to where I grew up. While I like the rustic farm cafes nearby, a proper lunch is in order since I'm buying. We ended up at the Kranji Sanctuary Golf Course.

The golf terrace cafe overlooking the gorgeous 18-hole course was swarming with golfers who were forced to break for an early lunch because of bad weather. There must be a hundred male but only one lady golfer present. That goes to show that men really know how to enjoy life (skive)!

We must be the only 3 non-golfers in the restaurant. While chatting with my customers, I discovered that the rotund one is a foodie while the other loves growing orchids. Throughout lunch, the foodie couldn't stop recommending famous food places in Singapore. Now I know where to find the best rojak, ayam penget and fish head steamboat!

Maybe because the guys are chatty, we had a really enjoyable session. I must admit that it is not in my nature to take customers out. While other industry players organise regular drinking sessions with customers, I don't want to make it an unhealthy and toxic habit.

Business lunches and the occasional dinner can be ideal for forging relationships but I also value my family time and personal space. Inevitably, conversations veer towards topics outside of work and I used to dread questions about my personal life.

Questions like "What does your husband do?"used to get me flustered and tongue-tied but they don't bother me anymore. Recently, someone mentioned, "Your husband must be so proud of you!" I just smiled in merriment.

I've also come to realise that ocassions like this allow people to indulge in idle chatter, we don't have to take everything so seriously all the time, do we?

Monday 25 May 2009

If you build it...

It's funny how an old friend stumbled upon my blog while researching on bauhinias (a kind of plant). He wasn't too surprised of course, given my farming background.

On the other hand, I was surprised to find him scouting around for information on plants. As it turns out, he has taken a fascination to gardening and is in the process of making over the garden in his new home.

My friend is also known as the Road Boss. He runs a successful company that organises driving holidays and adventure tours. I've always known him to be the fun-loving, nature-loving and thrill seeking kind of guy. It's good to know he's now a fellow gardener too.

That brings me to another point. A blog is like Disneyland - If you build it, they will come. I've met old friends, new friends and all sorts of people through the blog. The difference between a blog (like mine) and Disneyland is, mine has no gates. So, you never quite know who's visiting, even if it is an old friend.

Sunday 24 May 2009

It's Monday already?

Of course it is Monday already! I got out of bed reluctantly, went through the same old routine of steaming Japanese sweet potato (my breakfast) and chicken breast (Rusty's), load the laundry in the washer, shower, make an omelette (SK's), wake SK and take Rusty out for a walk.

When we got back, I found SK still lying in bed and we were supposed to leave the house in 5 minutes! He sprung out of bed and dashed to the bathroom. As SK and Rusty were gobbling down breakfast, I hung the clothes out to dry and watered my plants. It's amazing we still got to school on time.

That's why it pays to be 'kiasu' like me. Kiasu literally means 'fear of losing'. Well, in this case, it means leaving the house earlier in case of traffic jams. The kids cannot tolerate my kiasu behaviour but I always defend myself. It can often work in our favour as long as I don't go overboard or be a nuisance to anyone. I'm not that kiasu anyway.

They should thank me for always getting them to school early. SK had never been late in the last 6 years except for once when we were stuck in a jam on the highway for more than an hour.

Well, Monday is typically a slow day at work. I plan to leave the office earlier so I can get some stuff done at home. There is always something to do at home if you ask me.

I'm attending another wake tonight. This time it is the demise of a friend's father. It's really sad to see this happening but it's an inevitable part of our life cycle, so we have to come to terms with that.

Sunday's flying by

While walking Rusty this morning, a kind elderly gentleman stopped his bicycle as we were crossing the narrow path above the big canal so that Rusty and I could walk safely. He smiled and said in Mandarin, "You dog's very good looking. So adorable too."

I grinned and said "Thank you!" I must agree Rusty's a nice looking dog, thanks to a good diet of natural food, plenty of fresh air, exercise and beauty sleep, as well as tender loving care from his owners and friends.

As we continued walking along the pavement, a cyclist snuck up on us without any warning, shocking me as he zipped past and almost grazed my shoulders. I let out a little gasp only to find him glaring at me with angry eyes. We were on a pavement for goodness sakes, he had no right to be mad at us!

Naturally, my happy mood was ruined for a moment. My heart was beating wildly from the close shave while he just carried on cycling without a care in the world. How annoying!

It was a hot morning. Rusty went straight for his water bowl when we got home while I headed to the bathroom. What began as a shower ended up as a bathroom scrubbing session.

I remember while growing up, I used to be seized with a sudden impluse to redecorate the living room or dive into some house improvement projects on my own. My brothers didn't seem to have any moments like this, only me.

I wonder if it's a girl thing because I don't see any thing like this happening now at home. The kids are hopeless when it comes to home improvement projects or household chores. Why can't they be as motivated? Perhaps we had less distractions and more time on our hands back then.

Sunday flies by really quickly when you're doing mundane stuff. It's almost 4pm and the day has been rather uneventful. The good news is, we're going back to my parent's place for dinner. That means, no more cooking and cleaning for the rest of the day.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Old fashioned cake

I had lunch with best friend at a famous Italian restaurant yesterday. I really looked forward to the tiramisu, said to be the best in Singapore by some bloggers. When we dug into the dessert, I didn't feel the kick. I'm not that difficult to please when it comes to cakes but somehow that one didn't do anything for me. We shared one portion and even had some leftovers.

This morning I woke up with a huge craving for the good old butter cake. Before fancy cakes were in vogue, there were only butter cakes with real butter icing in the cake shops. They were usually decorated with pretty patterns and colours, and whatever flavours they were, I loved them all.

The good thing is, such cakes are still available in some cake shops. The best thing is, the confectionary near my place makes really good ones, at only S$1 each. I bought 3 slices.

After working out in the garden all morning, I treated myself to one for lunch. The cake is really tender and moist, and the icing simply heavenly. YK thinks it is too oily but it's still my favourite. Anytime better than the fancy cheesecakes at $7 a piece!

The shop is very generous with the butter cream.

Friday 22 May 2009

Dinner at Pu Tien

CH suggested dinner at Pu Tien which proved to be a very wise move. Pu Tien is well known for its Fujian cuisine which revolves around the use of very fresh seafood. We don't frequent Chinese restaurants on Friday nights unless we have company. That way, we can sample more dishes without feeling stuffed.

Our friend Chris and EY arrived ahead of us, so they did the ordering while waiting for us to arrive. I must say parking at Kitchener Road is a nightmare due to the busy streets and lack of parking space. When I discovered Pu Tien has a valet service, I was more than pleased to hand over my car. Besides the good food at this restaurant, the service here is excellent.

The manager, an affable gentleman, promptly made us felt at home and introduced us to the fine art of drinking Chinese tea. We ordered the 'ti kuan yin' tea which was very light and aromatic. The tea came in a lovely tea cup too.

For starters, we had the famous drunken cockle. I don't normally eat cockles as they can look very bloody but this was very tastefully done and smothered with a thick layer of minced garlic, shallot and chilli dressing. The cockles were crunchy with a nice bite. Very nice indeed especially when eaten with a generous heap of garlic and the tangy sauce.

When the bamboo prawn was served, EY couldn't help but comment that the prawns looked like they were taking a bath. Indeed, they (2 pieces each per serving) were soaking in a hot tub of soup. The clear looking broth was very flavourful with a nice dong gui (Chinese herb) scent. They must have used live prawns because they tasted so fresh!

The homemade tofu was one of the best dishes of the night. Again, don't be fooled by this simple looking dish. The tofu was extremely soft and smooth, and covered in a fragrantly delicious gravy. I kept wondering about the secret ingredient used for the sauce.

The 'deep fried duck with yam' dish was also lovely. I like anything with yam in it, so this worked for me.

Though this is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes, I felt that the fried mee suah (noodle) dish was a little bland. The stock was as uninspiring as the colour of the noodles. For some reason, the clams didn't really do much to lift the flavour of the dish.

The deep fried fish was served on a bed of light soy sauce and shredded spring onions that gave the dish a nice fragrant lift. The fish used was also very fresh making it a delight to eat.

The other fried noodle (very fine bee hoon) was much better than the mee suah dish. Somehow, the noodles managed to absorb the flavours of the ingredients (prawns, sliced pork and mushrooms) so that every strand was tasty.

Finally, the dessert - pumpkin cream with ice cream. We were told it is one of the most popular desserts here, and they were not kidding. Everything, from the pumpkin cream to the coconut ice cream and dollop of pulot hitam (glutinuous black rice) on top, was yummy. I love how the sweet milky ice cream contrasts against the light pumpkin sauce, I almost wanted to lick the bowl.

Thursday 21 May 2009

No more surprise

My kids, especially YK, can't keep any secrets from me. I know all about what they're planning to do or what they have been up to. I even seem to know their friends even though I have not met most of them.

Well, I know where that 'can't-keep-a-secret' genes come from. From me of course!

You see, I stumbled upon a wine shop yesterday and there before me were bottles and bottles of French cider. I felt like I had entered Aladdin's Cave! When a wine connoisseur enters a wine shop, he only has eyes for the real treasures. For me, I can spot a bottle of cider from a mile away.

I've had Australian, English, Swedish and American ciders but French? That I should certainly try. With an alcohol content of 2%, I wondered if it will taste like apple juice instead of cider. But at knocked down prices (more than 60% discount!), I grabbed 4 bottles to bring home to try. At least I know I could share these with the kids.

The other thing that crossed my mind was I could give Petunia a bottle too. She has invited me over for lunch next week. She's an excitable one like me, so I already know what's on the menu:

I'll make us a salad and prawn aglio oglio with spring onion and chilli? Then we'll have french apple tart with vanilla yoghurt?

I've gotten her excited about cider too. When I started reading about French cider, I have gained alot of respect for this French speciality. If you read this article, you would too.

Anyway, I had wanted to bring a bottle to surprise her when I show up for lunch but I couldn't contain my excitement, so I sent her the writeup "In France, the cider sparkles" and told her all about my surprise. See, Petunia grew up in France and she often writes with nostalgia about the French farmers in her blog.

So naturaly, I know she would appreciate a heavenly drink from France that can only be described as a champagne of the apple. At 2 percent alcohol, it can be imbibed before, during and after meals with jolly abandon. The best part it, her kids can enjoy it too.

Oh my knees

We had a downpour during dinner time and poor Rusty couldn't go for his walk until hours later. The trouble with a small dog with short legs is, the entire body gets wet and dirty after trampling on puddles.

So I gave him a warm shower and blow-dried him thoroughly so he wouldn't catch a cold. If he's going to share my bed, he had better be clean and dry!

Funny Huier was talking my running (or lack of) lately. Indeed, I have stopped running altogether. Well, there are several reasons (excuses). Firstly, I can't seem to find the time to run. Before Rusty came to live with us, I could manage a jog around the neighbour just before dinner.

When Rusty re-entered our lives again, my exercise comes in the form of morning and evening walks. During weekends, we take really long walks, meandering through the canal and our hilly estate.

The good thing is, all the aches and pains that I used to suffer from running have disappeared almost completely though I still experience creaky and painful knees while climbing stairs.

Just this morning, I woke up to a very strange sensation on my right knee. The entire knee cap felt like it had detached and was swimming around loosely. Though there was no pain, I was worried that my right leg would collapse when I get off my bed. But I was fine. It could be what they call a 'sloppy' kneecap.

I fear the health of my knees is deteriorating and am quite thankful I have stopped running now. All the pounding through the years have put loads of stress on my knees, ankles and soles. Cutting back on strenuous exercise will help to preserve my ligaments and tissues (or what's left of it).

For now, I'll rely on the daily walks, household chores and gardening to keep fit. Some form of exercise is better than no exercise at all.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Back to the countryside

I had a particularly stressful morning. The contractor was screwing up the project and client was fuming on the other end. We were running behind schedule, I ended up losing my temper (gasp!). Finally, we had to find someone else to do the job. I drove to the far end of Singapore to discuss the project details with my other contractor who exuded so much serenity, it bolstered my confidence.

After the meeting, I decided to cool off by driving through the Kranji countryside instead of hitting the highway to return to the office. While cruising through the tranquil roads, I felt at peace again and decided to stop by Bollywood Veggies for a leisurely lunch at their Poison Ivy Bistro.

I really think I belong to the countryside instead of the city. The moment I am surrounded by lush greenery, I feel so at home. How I wish my work revolves around plants and animals instead of people!

I like how everything is so natural and a little untamed in the garden.

They do have a sense of humour too.

Herbs and flowering plants grow happily together in the yard.

Indeed I felt so welcomed (by the plants).

Poison Ivy Bistro uses their own produce to prepare the dishes. I ordered a glass of cold home brewed lemon grass tea. It's a very refreshing drink, sans sugar, but with a nice lemon grass scent.

I also had the papaya salad made using raw green papaya from their farm, garnished with flowers from the yard and a piquant/sweet/spicy dressing and peanuts.

Enjoying the view from where I sat.

Our body talks

While some people will stubbornly claim that what you eat does not affect the body, I choose to think otherwise. I believe what goes into our body is very important.

Maybe because I'm a gardener, I can see the effects more clearly. If you feed your plants with the right food, they will flourish and show you results very quickly. If you neglect them, they will wilt before your very eyes. Weak plants tend to be disease prone like human beings.

For myself, I can tell the moment I wake up in the morning if I had eaten well the day before. If I wake up feeling energetic, chances are I had a light home-cooked dinner the night before. If I indulge in too much nuts or chocolate, I could feel the 'heatiness' in the morning. If I had a meaty dinner, I would be too sluggish to jump out of bed the next day. I usually don't feel good after dining out the day before due to the excessive use of salt, oil and flavouring in the stalls or restaurants. Alcohol, even if it is a can of beer the night before, affects my well-being in the morning too.

So you see, the body knows what's good for you. If we abuse it all year round, can you imagine the ill-effects we're bringing upon ourselves?

I had some difficulty springing out of bed this morning. It must be the cider and chicken dinner. So I'll cut back on meat today and go for lighter meals instead.

If you take a look at the people around you, those who eat and live healthily tend to look wholesome and radiant. Sometimes having good genes help but generally it is wise to listen to our body.

Home alone

My friend EY from Korea came by to visit this afternoon. She brought back some lettuce and lotus seeds for my garden. Last month, it was alfalfa seeds and wheatgerm. I sowed some alfalfa seeds last weekend which sprouted beautifully, just in time for dinner tonight.

The kids are out, so it's just Rusty and me at home at the moment. For dinner, I carved myself a big portion of roast chicken to share with Rusty who sat in the kitchen taking in the lovely smells (and drooling). Here's a cherry tomato and alfalfa salad dressed in vinaigrette, a dash of truffle vinegar and sesame oil.

Isn't the roast chicken lovely? I chucked in a large handful of rosemary leaves (from the bush in my garden) into the cavity and stuffed some bits under the skin.

Roast chicken is one of the simplest dishes to make. Simply rub the chicken with salt and black pepper. Stuff a whole lemon, some garlic and rosemary leaves into the cavity and pop the chicken into a preheated oven. Leave it in there for 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the size of the chicken and you'll get a tender, succulent chicken that's finger licking good!

Even better if you have it with cider!

Yup, that's what I had for dinner. Yum!

Millionaire mindset?

At one stage, I was rather curious about the millionaire mindset so I bought myself a book. The author says in order to be a millionaire, you must think like one. I've forgotten most of it by now but one thing I do remember is, millionaires (or wannabes) will not order chicken at a restaurant. They order steak, not just any steak but an expensive cut of steak. Chicken is for the masses.

Oops, but I always order chicken. What's a girl to do if she doesn't like steak? Good steak, whether it is wagyu or filet mignon, is wasted on someone like me.

When I'm feeling carnivorous (which is not very often), I go for chicken. I have a craving today, so we're having rosemary roast chicken tonight. That will settle my craving for the whole month. Come to think of it, I don't think I can eat like a millionaire. The stuff that I eat are usually simple, inexpensive but nutritious. I'm now snacking on cheese, dried cranberry and pistachio instead of caviar.

Anyway, the world is changing. I believe millionaires are eating simply and healthily so that they can live longer. By eating less foie gras, their wealth can go a longer way, no? What's the point of being a sick millionaire? I would like to prove the author wrong but sadly I'm not a millionaire yet. Perhaps I should start thinking like one in order to get there.

Just like how mum commented that farming has evolved significantly over the years. In the past, farming in Asia was frowned upon. If you didn't have an education, you're tasked to toil in the family fields from dawn till dusk. Today's new breed of farmers are different. They're a cool and admirable lot. They are educated and passionate about agriculture. They harness technology to raise crop yields or find ways to improve methods and crops.

Hmmm... I wonder if farming will make me a millionaire?

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Ms D.I.Y

When YK dragged the fan from my bedroom to the living room, I knew something must be wrong. Indeed, the aircon wasn't working very well.

Yesterday evening, I finally dragged the ladder from the storeroom, climbed up to take a peek at the air-con's innards. Holy moly! The filters were covered in a layer of dust that's thicker than Rusty's furcoat. I suspect they've not been cleaned since the condo was built. I brought the filters to the bathroom to scrub away the 5 years worth of dust.

Easy peasy! Within 30 minutes, I had cleaned all the 5 units of air-con in the house. I should have done this months ago! I had always thought of it as a daunting task carried out by air-con technicians, who knew it could be that easy?

Singaporeans love to pay good money for people to come into the home to do something so simple! We're just too lazy or reluctant to learn.

Last weekend, I finally took the curtains down for washing. Again, I had procrastinated for so long because I was lazy. I admit, the thought of climbing up the ladder, removing the pins and hooks from the dusty curtain, washing, drying and putting it up again sounds like a big effort. Well, once I got started, it was pretty simple.

Now that the curtains have been washed, air con cleaned up and carpet's returning from the drycleaners tomorrow, the house should be relatively dust-free. I can finally stop scratching my head, wondering where all that dust is coming from. I can't believe it took me so long!

Monday 18 May 2009

Straight from the heart

It's funny how I was sitting here thinking of what to write when I received an email from Amy Lam. Through her blog, I've learned so many famous quotes and wise sayings. Today, she signed off her email with this:

Enjoy your blog as it comes from your heart... as the quote goes
Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.

That's so true. When you do something that comes from your heart, you won't go very wrong unless you have a bad heart or if you meet the wrong kind of people.

My friends know that I always follow my heart. Maybe that's why I've been told that I'm good with kids and dogs. I don't think it's because I have a special connection with them. If anything, it's because kids, animals and people respond well to kindness and sincerity. I don't normally analyse too much but I believe what goes around, comes around.

My easy going nature has given me the opportunity to meet lots of nice people. That said, I've come across manipulative people too but we learn how to deal with them after a while. Very often, I learn through other people's mistakes as well and know when to avoid potential pitfalls. Generally, being surrounded by good friends and family is like being buffered against the big bad world outside.

I'll end here. I find myself rambling today with no cohesive thoughts. Guess I'll just blame it on a dull Tuesday.

Sunday 17 May 2009


I arrived at the office to find a parcel from Cold Storage on my desk. It's from MH. She sent me a box of healthy snacks for me to munch on while drinking ice cold cider. Cold Storage has run out of cider, so I'll use my imagination. Thanks MH! Apparently cider is not so readily available here. Even Ikea has stopped bringing in the refreshing pear and apple ciders.

My reader, a kind hearted soul who runs Furry Friends Farm in Malaysia, is asking for help. As you can see from the poster below, these stray dogs that were deported to an isolated island in Malaysia need help pronto or they will face a certain death. Please read the full story and how you can send in your donations here.

These dogs deserve a better life. Every bit of contribution from my friends will help these furry friends. Maybe you can use the funds you're saving for the cute kilt, movie, handbag, killer heels or ice cream treat to save some lives instead. Me? That ice cold cider can wait.

Botanic Gardens Music Festival

Thanks to the good people at CIMB, we were treated to a free concert by The Singapore Symphony Orchestra at Botanic Gardens in celebration of SSO's 30th anniversary. The late afternoon weather was perfect though a little humid. Thank goodness there was no rain!

The SSO performed some all time favourites and great masterpieces including "An American in Paris" which I enjoyed very much, "Fantasia on Greensleeves", "A dance tribute to Irving Berlin", "Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana", "Chicago" and the grand finale, Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture, Op.49" which was played to perfection.

It was a very enjoyable evening with friends and excellent entertainment. A perfect way to end the weekend.

We had lots to eat - cheese, olives, bread and crackers, nuts and dried fruits, cookies, chestnut and salsa.

Of course, the company of funny friends made the evening even more enjoyable.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Night outings

It has been a series of night outs for me, that explains the lack of posts. You see, before I leave for my outings, I have to ensure that housework is done, dog is fed and walked, kids have something to eat etc. That's the typical life of a mum.

Friday night - I attended the wake of my business associate. It was sad, as most wakes go, but I managed to catch up with some friends including Nani and family who flew in from Indonesia for the ocassion. It was also my good fortune to be seated next to the head honcho of the leading local shipping company. We managed to chat and exchange namecard. It's impossible for me to ever secure a meeting with him, let alone chat with him on a personal level. I left the wake feeling really sad yet strangely blessed to be alive.

Saturday night's outing was a makan (eating) trip planned by Fry and my friend Steph. In view of the H1N1 epidemic, we had aborted our plan to travel to Malaysia for our food trip. When we heard of a food place operated by Malaysians, we rounded up everyone quickly for a makan session.

We ordered the most popular dishes like the 3 for $21 white pepper crabs. These smallish Sri Lankan crabs proved to be tender and succulent. Really great value for money!

The waitress urged us to try the fried brinjal (egg plant) and potato dish. She claims they're the only restaurant in Singapore serving this. It's nice too. The brinjal is fried until crispy before being stirfried with capsicum and potatoes and smothered in a flavourful gravy.

The fried bee hoon is what the restaurant is most famous for. Apparently this typical Malaysian style of cooking is not readily found in Singapore and has won lots of fans and accolades here. I know, it doesn't look very enticing but it really is quite nice. There are vegetables, pork and egg hidden beneath the pile of slightly burnt noodles.

We also tried the shrimp balls fried in a salted egg batter. Again, this is an unusual creation which is interesting and tasty.

For dessert, we walked across the road to a brightly durian stall to savour some Malaysian durians. We were told that since it is not exactly durian season, we should lower our expectations. Well, the expectations were lowered but the prices still seem to hover on the high side.

Here we are, with our tummies filled. You can read Fry's account here.

It's 3pm on Sunday and I'm sitting here reeking of onions, coriander and chilli. See, I have just made a bowl of salsa for our picnic with a bunch of friends at the Botanic gardens this evening. It's a concert in the park. Everyone's bringing some food. I'll bring steamed chestnuts, cheese, fruits and nuts as well as salsa. I think we'll have a great time. I should go shower now.

Chowmahalla Palace

During our week in Hyderabad, some of the places we visited include the Mecca Mosque, the Charminar (the icon of Hyderabad), Sufi Shrine, Bi...