Thursday, 29 October 2009

Wedding dinner

Last night's wedding dinner was the kind where you don't know anyone else except the bride and groom. We're not exactly social butterflies, so we kept pretty much to ourselves. When it comes to social events like this, I turn into a wall flower and wish that I could get home asap.

CH may be the quieter one but he enjoys social functions much better than I do. I secretly think he enjoys dressing up too. He has more accessories than me! I simply pull on a dress and I'm ready to go.

Wedding dinner in Singapore is almost like an institution. You're expected to arrive a little earlier and hang around outside the dining hall to flip through the humongous wedding photo album, hand over the wedding angpao (a gift of money), sign in the guestbook and check which table you'll be seated at. Then you munch on mixed nuts and try to make small talk and hope you'll not be seated with so and so.

The seating arrangement either makes or breaks your night. If you're sitting amongst a bunch of fun and happy people, your night is set. You get the gist?

We were lucky to be on the same table with the bride's colleagues. It was like their company outing. The group spent the night teasing each other which was fun and entertaining to watch.

As usual, there was the dimming of lights, bridal march, (dummy) cake cutting ceremony, champagne pouring, changing of gowns, speeches and food (of course). I'm always quite amused by the routineness of it all. Why do all wedding couples go through the ritual dictated by the hotel just because?

When I told CH that those white wedding cakes on the stage were dummies and made of styrofoam, he was shocked. Yah, it's a strange 3-second cake-cutting motion that I cannot comprehend until today. There is no cake and nobody gets to eat any cake. I don't get it.

Do I sound cynical already? I'm not against weddings but I wish wedding dinners are more fun and unconventional. The dinners here are almost a pain to attend. You sit amongst people you've never met before in your life and watch everyone shifting uncomfortably in their seat and trying to eat daintily for 3 hours or so, and then leave as soon as dessert is on the way down their esophagus.

I was the first to get up and leave because it was way past my bedtime and I had to get up at the crack of dawn the next day. The bride and groom were already positioned outside the door, thanking guests for sharing their joyous moment.

We learned that they'll be off on a honeymoon this weekend. They'll be going on a round-the-world trip including a Trans-Atlantic cruise followed by another one around the Carribbean islands. Now, that, I like.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Social month

For some reason, it feels like a Friday today. It must be the wedding dinner that we're attending tonight. I usually go out on Friday nights, so that's probably why. While I haven't planned on what to wear, I have already decided on what to cook for the kids' dinner. I'm going home early to make a pot of chicken curry with lots of potatoes. Then I'll walk the dog and decide on the attire.

CH is going to show up in his tartan kilt with hose, accessories and all. If I put on my floral dress, we can be voted as the most clashing couple. I don't really mind that. I pick my clothes based on which makes me look slimmest, so we'll see...

Tomorrow night, we have a BBQ party to attend. That's another headache because CH's nieces are always dressed to the nines. We haven't even gotten his niece a birthday gift. What does she like? That's a tough one.

Next week, we have several birthdays to celebrate culminating in a Bollywood themed birthday party on Saturday. Thank goodness I have an Indian top in my wardrobe waiting patiently to be worn again. CH had gone out and bought himself an Indian shirt. We still have to look for a present for the birthday girl though.

My brother is organising a family lunch as well. All of us will gather at some restaurant for a nice meal. It's about time. We haven't done that in years.

Seems like it'll be a month of feasting. So it appears that we've made the right decision in signing up for the 4km run (Run for Hope) towards end of November. I must remind myself to put in some training sessions.

The event that I am most looking forward to must be the trip to Hanoi with my group of girlfriends on 27th November. It's all coming together now. We're flying there to meet up with an old friend and crash out at her apartment. She has already collated a list of restaurants to bring us to. We will sample the best Japanese, Vietnamese, Western and Indian cuisine in Hanoi. She has promised to bring us to the famous local food-court, seafood by the lake and really local beef-noodle and BBQ meat noodle by the road side.

It'll be a wonderful reunion. I can't wait!

The ravenous dog

I noticed a big improvement in Rusty's appetite after the vet put him on a course of antibiotics for his eye condition.

"It may make him hungry", she cautioned.

Yes, I can see that! While we were walking after dinner, I had to wrestle with him over a chunk of baguette he found on the pavement. He ran away from me with the bread between his jaws, hoping to swallow it before I could it pry it off from him. I managed to rip some off. He quickly swallowed the other half and tried going after the one in my hand. Then he looked at me with the saddest puppy eyes as I tossed it in the bin.

He shouldn't be eating rubbish that he finds along the way. It's a new habit, and an embarrassing one. The other day, he was chomping on a piece of chicken bone when my neighbour walked by. This guy, who also has a jack russell, looked at Rusty and asked, "He's having dinner?"

I was caught off guard and quickly replied, "Er no. He must be chewing on something he found."

The neighbour gave me a short lecture, saying "I would be very careful because who knows, the dog may get food poisoning."

I can't agree more but try prying a small piece of chicken wing tip from his jaws if you can! I tried explaining that Rusty wasn't always hungry like that. But this few weeks, he literally drools when he sees food. He even eats cat food that the feeders leave on the pavement for the stray cats. People will think that I'm not feeding him enough at home.

Nowadays he still looks hungry after a big dinner. He follows me around hoping I could share my food with him. Yesterday, he even ate banana cake, cheese and crackers.

Even as I write, he's licking his empty bowl like he hasn't had dinner even though he polished off a bowl of rice with minced pork and chicken an hour ago!

I know! I think I should feed him the last 2 bananas for dessert.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


While munching on banana cake for lunch, I realised I haven't blogged for more than a day. Oops. Yes, I'm still eating bananas for breakfast and lunch. There are only 6 bananas left. Thank goodness!

We just had a downpour at the office. Good thing I'm not visiting the container yard this morning or my new shoes (pretty denim espadrilles) will be soaked.

Talking about shoes, I found a brand new pair of stilettos at my parent's house yesterday. It's still in the shoe box. I must have bought it years ago. While tottering around in it for 5 seconds or so, I put it back into the cupboard again. Even though it makes my legs looks wonderfully elongated, I don't think I can last an hour in those killer heels!

Rummaging deeper into the wardrobe, I found a brand new Ferragamo bag. It was a gift from my ex many many years ago. I had refused to use it then but now that my bag is looking quite worn out, I've decided to throw all bitterness out of the window and not let a good product go to waste. I remember he bought two but I only found one yesterday.

Now I remember how he likes buying stuff. While I've always been a prudent buyer, he was the one who bought me expensive watches, bags, shoes, limited edition fountain pens and all kinds of collectibles. Some of the Chinese brush paintings stored in my parent's outdoor storage shed have since been destroyed by rodents. Oh well. I don't really care but on hindsight, I should have auctioned them off for a decent sum of money.

It's strange I can talk about this now. In the past, I loathed seeing anything that reminded me of him. Well, I've moved on.

Monday, 26 October 2009


I googled for 'easy banana cake recipe' and found a perfect one with raving reviews. I gathered everything I needed and started working.

Not enough butter at home? No problem, just add some sunflower oil. No self-raising flour? Mix some baking powder. No caster sugar? No worries. Icing and granulated sugar will do just fine. Within minutes, the batter was mixed.

Into the oven it goes.

Then we have cake.

Ah, that was cake walk. I like fuss-free recipes like this. It is now cooling on the rack. I wonder if it'll taste alright.

Ok, here's the verdict:

The cake turned out moist with generous bits of banana inside. The crust is slightly chewy with a nice bite. The kids love it!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Gone bananas!

I brought Rusty out for a walk so early today that the sky was dark and the entire neighbourhood was still asleep. I needed some small change for SK's pocket money. All I had was a $50 note, so we were heading to the ATM machine to withdraw smaller notes.

What a surprise to see the fruit stall already opened at 5.50am. What joy! I could break my note there instead of walking all the way to the ATM.

Seeing the fruit stall owner so bright and cheery put me in a buying mood. I didn't feel good about giving him a big note first thing in the morning, so I picked the biggest bunch of bananas hanging in his shop.

"Are you sure you want this BIG bunch?", he asked.

I nodded and quickly hurried home with my purchase.

It was only when I got home then I realised how big the bunch is. What was I thinking? The kids do not fancy bananas, looks like I'll have to eat the entire bunch. There must be more than 30 bananas and they're quite perishable too. It's going to be bananas for breakfast and lunch over the next 3 days. Gawd!

Fun Saturday

I had lots of fun on Saturday. Enroute to my parent's farm, we stopped by Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve for a walk. For an hour or so, the shady park provided some respite from the scorching heat outside.

SK taking a closer look at some bugs.

CH checking out some birds.

A colourful bug.

Mangrove crab creeping out of its home.

A huge monitor lizard ambling across the trail.

We hurried to the farm to meet my god-daughter who came by to play with my nieces. The sun was setting and the air was cooler, the yard became a huge playground. It was fun watching the three girls running about.

Did you notice the human organs on their t-shirts? Aren't they cute?

Thursday, 22 October 2009


This morning, a radio DJ asked on air "Have you done anything significant or out of the ordinary during the last ten months?"

I thought really hard and nothing memorable came to my mind. I haven't been to any new places or done any marathons this year. There are no breakthroughs unless you count the launch of our gardening business. I guess life has just been humming along.

There were days when I get restless, but having new responsibilities means I cannot simply pack up and leave like before. This week, my group of old classmates have started talking about an escapade to Hanoi where one of them is currently based. I seem to be the most excited one. It's a reunion of some sort. Years ago, we traveled to Kuala Lumpur to visit a friend, and managed to squeeze in lots of shopping cum eating in 2 days. An all-girl affair like this can be really fun!

Back then, I was the only one with young kids. Now that many of them are in the same boat, it's tough to get everyone together within short notice. Someone suggested going next year but I can't wait that long! I'm impatient like that.

Anyway, it's Friday already. Best friend is traveling to USA again. We managed to roll out an order before she flies out tonight. I wish I could hop on a plane with her too. She can go for meetings while I go sightseeing. Yah right!

EE send me a list of wise sayings this morning. I'll share some of my favourite ones here:
  • Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.

  • Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
  • If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there with ya.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
  • Don't worry about bitin' off more 'n you can chew; your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
  • Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.

  • If it don't seem like it's worth the effort, it probably ain't.
  • Meanness don't jest happen overnight.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to git dirty.
Have a good weekend!

Not amused

My Martian muse is not amused. Like I've said, he's a man of few words, so what do I expect? To be fair, he has always been supportive in his own ways. Like the way he makes appreciative noises when he eats what I cook. Doesn't matter if it's delicious or not. So I am treating him to Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup) for dinner tonight. He can be my kitchen muse.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

My muse

I get inspired easily and can conjure up several new ideas in a week. Granted, some ideas may be flighty but others can sometimes turn out to be pretty well conceived. Of course I wouldn't know until I ask around.

There are a couple of people I always share my ideas with. One is from Venus and the other is from Mars. In my excitement, I'll email them drafts or drawings and ask for their opinions. Then I'll sit by the computer and wait with bated breath for their feedback.

The Martian, being a man of few words, often leave me hanging in the air with a monosyllabic feedback like "cute". Er, ok. Thank you very much. But what does that mean? Will it work? Can it be improved? Should I even think of the next step?

The other friend from Venus will think through the idea for one whole day, brainstorm with her husband, analyse from various angles, then give her sincere comments, amend or edit the text (if any) and even do some market research to support her views. She becomes just as inspired and upbeat if the idea is good so I know I'm on the right track. She is not afraid to point out if the idea is not worthy so I can trash it and move on. She does all this despite a really busy schedule. I really appreciate that. She's like my muse.

I used to wonder why many creative people have a muse to inspire them. Now I can see why the muse is often from Venus, like mine.

Monday, 19 October 2009

So hot!

It's another scorching day and I'm melting from the heat. I just came back after lunch with CH at Sushi Tei by the beach. Before we got there, I even thought we could sit under the trees and enjoy the breeze after lunch. But the heat was too oppressive, I couldn't even stand walking to the car, let alone stroll to the beach. Now I'm back in the cool office, suffering from lethargy in the first degree.

What's wrong with our weather? It's insufferable! I bet all the plants in my patio must be wilting from the heat. I always return home to find them half dead only to be revived again after dousing with lots of water.

As you can see, I have nothing better to blog about today. Any ideas would have vapourised under the sun. I do have an exciting new project coming up. It's for the kid's market. Here's a preview of one of my happy characters.

Hi, we're your lungs!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

What the vet said

I brought Rusty back to the vet this morning. The blood in his eye has cleared up, allowing her to peek behind the cornea.

While it is still inflammed, the situation has improved, thanks to the medication. However, the bad news is his right eye is totally gone. It's not because of trauma or injury or negligence on our part, but his is a case of luxated lens, a genetic disorder common amongst Jack Russells.

Primary lens luxation is assumed to be autosomal recessive. That is, each parent must at least be a carrier of the disorder. According to the vet, Jack Russells from Australia are highly susceptible to this disorder. During her working stint in Melbourme (where Rusty came from), she had attended to many such cases and almost all were Jack Russells.

In Rusty's case, the lens had detached entirely causing massive bleeding in the retina. The displaced lens is pulling the retina, causing the blood vessels in there to burst. Stronger medication is prescribed and we'll have to bring him back again in 2 weeks.

Now that he's totally blind in one eye, we must be very vigilant in observing the good eye. If we see any change in his eye colour or sense any discomfort, we should bring him to the vet right away. While googling about this condition, I am sad to learn that there is a possibility that his other eye may get luxated. I don't think I want to keep another Jack Russell again. It's too sad.

Again she was all praise for Rusty, whom he calls "Sweet Darling Boy" because he's so quiet and cooperative compared to other jack russells (she calls them jack rascals) that come into the clinic. She said, "If only all jack russells are so good like Rusty, people will like them more."

That's just about the best thing I've heard all morning.

The morning after

It's the morning after the party and gee, do I feel like going to work? No! Some people have the day off to make up for the Deepavali holiday last Saturday. The schools are closed today but YK's new semester starts today.

Anyway, here are some photos from last night's party.

With CH.

With SK.

Birthday boy with his friends.


Ivan's cousin spent the night feeding kois.

What's for lunch?

Just about everybody knows that I don't eat a proper lunch. At work, lunch is a hot cup of oats or a small sweet potato. If I buy a loaf of bread on Monday, I would eat it for breakfast and lunch all week until I get sick of it.

For the weekend, I cook pasta, laksa or mee siam for the kids, but I hardly eat any. Instead, I eat things that I fancy, usually things that people eat as snack or dessert.

I can be very choosy because I don't like to waste calories on food that I don't enjoy. That doesn't mean I'm a food snob. Some of my favourite foods are natural food like steamed yam, pumpkin and sweet potato. But I won't compromise on the quality. If the yam turns out chewy instead of fluffy, I won't eat it.

For lunch today, I had one curry puff from Old Chang Kee. When it comes to something fattening like curry puff, I'm even fussier. So far, OCK's curry puff has never disappointed me. I like everything about it, from the buttery fragrant skin to the moist curry potato filling. It's packed with goodness, there's even egg and chicken pieces in the puff. It tastes best when it's freshly cooked.

Then I had roasted groundnuts after lunch. After eating nuts that I've roasted myself, I'm no longer satisfied with ready packed ones. I chanced upon fresh whole groundnuts from the supermarket one day and decided to buy some home. At first, I steamed them for an hour or so, and the nuts still tasted hard and crunchy. I decided to roast them and bingo, they turned out crunchy and sweet. In fact, they taste so much fresher than the prepacked ones. And they're healthier because they're not salted.

For dinner, we're heading to best friend's place for a BBQ party. It's her son's birthday. I heard there'll be plenty of food.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Movie night

Anyone who loves to eat, cook and blog should watch Julie & Julia. Well, I enjoyed every minute of it. Meryl Streep is simply adorable as Julia Child. She throws herself into the role wholeheartedly, she's such a joy to watch. Her humour had me roaring with laughter at times, it made me wish I could live life with such panache and passion as her.

Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, makes me see a bit of myself as one who's always trying to find balance between cooking, work and family. I found myself gasping in the scene where she was fighting with her husband who said she had turned into a self-centered and narcissistic blogger. Woops...

I could empathise with her meltdowns as well. On days when everything falls apart, you wonder why you're punishing yourself with the regime. The scene of her sprawled on the kitchen floor, bawling her heart out was poignant. Then just as suddenly, she picked herself up and pulled herself together to answer an important phone call from an editor of a magazine. It's quite a story of my life too.

At some point, it made me go "Gee, I should have thought of that too!" You know, like how Julie started a blog that chronicles her journey as she cooks every recipe in the first cookbook Julia Child co-authored. The blog sort of helped her fulfill her dream as a writer.

In a nutshell, the movie, which focuses on food, maybe plotless but is well executed. Here, food is also a metaphor for love and passion. Both women have a supportive husband who eats everything the wife cooks with gusto. Yes, it's charming to watch. Even CH and YK enjoyed it.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Good pooch

Having Cookie (aka Lost Dog) in my house for a couple of hours made me realise how lucky I am to have a mellow dog like Rusty.

Looking at how much effort it takes for Petunia to train a puppy makes me thankful that Rusty turned out this way despite the lack of training.

Rusty was a hyperactive puppy but luckily he grew up into a disciplined adult. During his hyperactive years, he scurried around the farm like a hare. He spent his days romping through mud and bashing through thick undergrowth, sometimes emerging with a dead bird between his jaws. Nobody taught him manners or toilet trained him because he spent all his time outdoors. He wasn't allowed inside the house because he was always filthy, so he slept out in the porch together with Cookie. He was a little farm dog.

When we moved to the apartment, we wondered how an active farm dog could adapt to life in a little flat. I didn't even know where to begin training him. Will it be easy to teach him where to pee and poo? Will he feel lonely without Cookie? Will he miss the farm life? Will he ever get used to life between four walls?

But little Rusty surprised us in so many ways. He proved that he is capable of holding his pee and poop until we bring him out for a walk. He's quiet and well behaved in the apartment, we never have to worry about annoying the neighbours. He doesn't chew up things or make a mess. He waits patiently for us to come home and greets us with such enthusiasm, it makes us love him so. He's never been up to any mischief so far. He makes our guests feel so welcomed and he doesn't get in anyone's way. He doesn't steal our food and eats from his own bowl in the kitchen.

In other words, he's polite and gracious, the kind of dog that every owner is proud to have. Like what my friend says, "He's not the kind that makes you lose face when you take him out."

I'm glad he turned out to be a good pooch.

Feels like a Monday

It's Friday but somehow it feels like a Monday. I'm a little disoriented. At the back of my mind, I know I have some business planning to do but just can't seem to get my engine started. That's probably my only gripe about being a small business owner. There's no one to push me or give me deadlines, and there's nobody to toss ideas around with.

You're pretty much on your own and if you're not self-motivated (like on some days), you'll go nowhere.

In times like this, I feel like nipping out of the office (again!) to go for a walk in the park or treat myself to a nice quiet lunch at Dempsey Hill. Or maybe escape to the peak of Labrador Hill and stare at the sea in the horizon. Or wander about at Botanic Gardens and have a cuppa amongst lush greenery. Or just walk around Arab Street or Little India for some inspiration.

It would be nice to find someone who could skive with me.

Happy ending

I can't believe my luck. Just as I was stepping out of the condo gate this evening to bring Rusty for his walk, two young ladies approached me to ask about their lost dog.

As it turns out, one of them is the owner of Lost Dog! I brought them to my neighbour's house, the one who took the dog in last night. The owner Andrea was feeling elated and quite emotional. Her dog, also called Cookie (do Cookies always end up getting lost?), is only over a year old. He has won many awards in dog shows for the jumping and tricks category. Ah, that explains his agility.

When I asked about his diet, Andrea explained that Cookie is allergic to chicken and only eats salmon. No wonder he rejected my canned chicken last night.

We arrived at the neighbour's house only to discover that they had already sent the dog to the police station nearby. They were nice enough to accompany Andrea to retrieve the dog while I continued walking Rusty.

I still can't believe how lucky I was to have met the owner even though we do not live in the same development. I brought Rusty out later than usual otherwise I would have missed her. It was really a case of being at the right place at the right time.

She just texted me to say that the police has sent Cookie to the SPCA today. She'll be heading there tomorrow morning to get him. I'm glad the ordeal is over for them both.

We all can sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

So black!

The shopping trip at Vivocity turned out to be a whirlwind one. YK and I parted ways to shop for our own stuff and within 30 minutes, he had acquired a pair of bright yellow Puma and a white high-cut Converse as well as two identical basic polo-tees cos the bundled price was very attractive. He felt he had spent too much and was done shopping.

I was paying at Marks & Spencer, the first store that I had walked in, when he called. I bought a black t-shirt with white stripes. I can't resist another nautical inspired shirt even though I already have a few at home.

I also bought two black fair trade crew neck t-shirts to replace my worn out ones at home. When I last counted, I have enough black tops to last me a month and more without repeating. I'm like Simon Cowell, I wear a black top to work every single day. Even then, there are some favourite ones that I wear over and over again.

As if not enough, I walked into Pull and Bear, a Spanish label, and bought a black fitted shirt. Just this month alone, I've bought a black dress, a black pleated skirt and a short grey skirt. My wardrobe is becoming so monochrome, nobody would notice if I'm wearing the same outfit to work all week.

While walking around with YK after lunch, we spotted a pair of Timberland boots which are to-die-for! YK agreed that this pair of leather boots, though completely impractical for our tropical climate, suits me so well. It's elegant and rugged, with a classic appeal.

We went in, fondled it, checked the price tag (a whopping S$499 or USD360) and walked out. We kept discussing about it on the way home that I decided to drop by another mall just to try it on. If it proves to be too irresistable, I'll just buy it and wear it on rainy days or when I travel.

We walked into the shop at Raffles City and spotted it gleaming on the shelf. It looked so gorgeous and inviting, I asked to try it on. Well, I don't know whether to be happy or sad but I didn't buy it in the end even though it looked good on me.

There were several things I didn't like after trying. Let's look at the description:

"It's a tall boot that converts to a short boot whenever you want it to. Change your look by unzipping the shaft of the boot and detaching the leather strap - then wrap it around the top of the shorter boot underneath to give it a whole new look. With linings made with recycled PET and rugged rubber outsoles, the natural, the new and the repurposed come together for a boot that has a story to tell."

Firstly, I want a pair of tall boots in one whole piece. I have ankle boots which I don't wear, so this convertible function doesn't add any value to me.

Secondly, the leather upper shaft is secured to the ankle boot by a strap that goes beneath the sole. That seems like a flimsy method especially for a pair of outdoorsy shoes. I can't imagine how it will hold up after years of wearing.

Thirdly, the boots didn't feel snug enough for my liking. In fact, it felt like I was wearing a pair of rubber boots. A slimmer cutting would be better.

Lastly, the zip, straps and fastenings made it too fussy and difficult to wear. Why can't they just stick to one long zip? I want a pair of shoes I can easily slip on and run.

Enough said. Whilst I love Timberland boots (I have a pair of 10-year old hiking boots that I am wearing to death), I'm not prepared to pay so much for something that I am not 100% satisfied. There is still hope though. These boots may go on sale sooner or later. If the price is right, I may buy it simply because it looks good on me. It has to be black of course.

Then he's gone

I had the lost doggie for less than 2 hours and suddenly life at home became topsy turvy.

First, he rummaged through my dustbin, so I gave him a can of Rusty's favourite food which he refused to eat. Naturally Rusty got mad that I was giving his food away, so he started growling.

We had to keep Lost Dog in the patio and out of Rusty's way. Rusty kept barking and scratching the door to be let out. Lost Dog kept whining and scratching the door to be let in. YK was getting annoyed by the rukus. SK had to bring Rusty into the bedroom to keep him away.

I had to sit out in the patio to keep Lost Dog quiet until I almost dozed off, wondering how long I had to keep up with this. Lost Dog is hyperactive and a high jumper. He leapt over the furniture and across my knees very effortlessly. I gave him some water and dried food. He refused that as well. I brought him into the kitchen and he stuck his nose into the bin again. I brought out some boiled rice which he nibbled some.

He seemed to know the apartment very well. He ran from room to room and leapt on my bed (if only Rusty had seen that!), ran into the bathrooms and then scooted out to sit by the front door, wagging his tail furiously. The whole time, the energetic dog didn't stop moving.

I was already preparing a poster to put up around the neighbourhood in the morning. I informed the security guards to contact me if anyone asked about a lost dog. I even thought of bringing the dog to the vet or SPCA to see if they could trace the owner via the imbedded microchip.

Seeing how much the dog wanted to leave the house, I decided to bring him for a walk. Maybe the owner is out looking for him. He seemed to know his way around the development. I asked around but nobody had seen him before.

Suddenly he wandered into an apartment on the ground floor like he had finally found his home. A group of teenagers appeared with their mum. The dog doesn't belong to them but they're willing to take him in and help find the owner, even if it means going from door to door. The nice family assured me that they will do whatever they can to help the doggie.

I left knowing Lost Dog is in good hands. Suddenly I felt a sense of relief. I went home to find YK cleaning Lost Dog's pee in the living room. I could let Rusty out of the room again. And I didn't have to sit out under the stars all night.

It's a pity I can't do more this time unlike six years ago when Cookie came to us under the same circumstances. He was a lost dog without a collar and we couldn't find his owner, so we took him in. Rusty and Cookie became best pals immediately. That made things so much easier.

I hope this Lost Dog will get reunited with his owner soon. Someone who loves him is waiting anxiously for him.

Lost dog

My neighbour found a lost dog this evening and didn't know what to do with it. So it ended up in my house. Now I have custody of a hyperactive dog that doesn't quite get along with Rusty. I need to find his owner fast.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Gone shopping

I was quite surprised to discover that YK's new term is starting in 5 days' time. That means his 6-week vacation is almost over and I haven't done a thing with him. No holidays or special treats. Nada.

So how can I reject him when he called asking me to accompany him to the mall today? I'll be taking a few hours off work to go shopping at Vivocity, one of the largest malls in Singapore. It's nice to know that he wants to go out with me. You know how some teenagers are!

It's also time I get myself a new handbag and some clothes. I hope today's trip is fruitful.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Nice surprise

By the time I got home yesterday, it was already over 8pm. I was tired and hungry, so I sat down to eat my dinner right away. At that point, I wasn't looking forward to walking Rusty or doing the laundry.

Then SK walked out of his bedroom with Rusty trailing behind him. I wasn't expecting this but he had taken the initiative to feed and walk Rusty before I returned. When I walked into the bathroom later, I found that he had presoaked all the soiled clothes in soapy water so that I could just load them into the washer in the morning. What a great help he was!

During my growing up years, I often returned home after school to find mum still toiling away in the orchid garden. Knowing how tired she was, I helped her with the laundry while my brother prepared dinner. In fact, my younger brother could make his own meals when he was barely ten because mum wanted us to be independent and useful around the house. That explains why all of us are pretty proficient in the kitchen today.

In a way, SK is pretty much like me. He's the quiet one who often surprises me with his independence and maturity. He washes his dishes and cutlery after eating and fixes his own meals when I'm not around. I've even caught him washing his own clothes. I can always rely on him to bathe Rusty though he's quite reluctant to walk him.

It makes me happy to know I've brought up a sensible kid.

BT phone home

Woops, I left my mobile phone at home today. I remember placing it in my bag after I killed the alarm this morning. It must have slipped off and landed on the chair. So, I'm without a phone today. Oh well...

Three years ago, I would have driven through a snow storm to get it back but now, I'm happy to leave it at home. Anyone who really needs to get hold of me will figure out a way to do so. Everyone else can wait until I am reunited with my phone again.

I'm not saying the mobile phone is not an important fixture in my life. It wakes me up faithfully every morning. I use it to check emails when I'm out of the office. The kids call if they need me to pick them up from somewhere. I call them to find out if they're coming home for dinner. Customers call to enquire about prices. Best friend calls to discuss about our sideline. Mum calls to update me on happenings at home. My nieces call to ask for treats. The office texts me regularly. My UK principal calls in the evenings to keep me posted about things. My appointments are stored in there. Sometimes I take photos using my phone camera. I message CH before I go to bed every night.

Woah, it's more important than I think. Maybe I should drive home to get it.

United nations

Today's a busy kind of day. Not hectic but the pleasant kind of busy. Rarely do I get three oversea visitors in one day. All of them are business associates I've been working with for many years and have become more like friends.

This morning, Capt came all the way from Mumbai to visit. We met for tea at Starbucks. It has been three months since I last saw him. After leaving his job in Singapore, he has moved his family back to India again. Within 2 months, he has set up a cafe in Mumbai, founded a school for special children (where his son now attends) and a freight forwarding company. I remember him vocalising his dreams then. They all have become a reality. He's someone who walks the talk.

Just as I was leaving the cafe, Mr C from Malaysia called. He was in Singapore to meet up with his bankers today. We spent the next couple of hours catching up. He has recently moved his family to Australia and is now diversifying into property development and travel business. Listening to his plans was interesting and eye-opening.

I rounded up my workday meeting up with a Vietnamese associate who is here on holiday with his family. He looked so relaxed and happy in their company, it's apparent that he's very proud of his wife and treats her with great respect. That's what I've always liked about him. Looking at his humble self, one would never imagine the extent of his wealth and how widespread his business is. He likes the sea and dreams of building holiday resorts in the secluded beaches of Vietnam. I know he'll realise his dreams very soon.

How can I not feel inspired when I am surrounded by entrepreneurs like them? To them, money is a means, not an end. And when money lands on good hearted people, only good things will happen.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Wet market

It has been two weeks since the wet market near my house closed for repainting and my weekends are never the same.

I'm so used to walking down the hill on Saturday mornings to the busy market below. First I'll wander through the makeshift stalls set up by entreprising people selling fashionable imports from Hong Kong and S.Korea. If I'm lucky, I can find interesting tops at knocked down prices. That's where I can find really comfy socks for the kids too.

On weekends, the marketplace really comes to life. All the food stalls selling hot local delicacies open as early as 6am. Wonderful smells of bread and cake drift out from the many bakeries nearby. I get some hot breakfast for the kids before heading to the crowded market where people jostle about, picking fresh vegetables, seafood and meat from the stalls.

At the wet market, I'm spoilt for choice really. I can find prawns and shellfish in all sizes and species from the many stalls. I have my pick of the freshest fish, from salmon to leather jacket and Ikan Kurau at reasonable prices. Then I buy some fresh chicken breast from the stall where the auntie always has a smile and cooking tips for me.

My favourite stop is the vegetable stall operated by a polite young man. I always leave with a huge bag of leafy greens, Japanese sweet potato, cabbage, celery and fresh mushroom. He throws in a handful of chilli and spring onions for free.

If I have space in my tote bag, I stop by the fruit stall for some mangoes or whatever's in season. I keep my eyes peeled for lychee, longan or rambutans because they are our favourite fruits. Then I take a slow trot up the hill like a laden donkey.

Now you know why I miss the market so much. For the last two weeks, I've been buying groceries at the supermarket and it's not the same. The fresh seafood packed in little trays do not entice me, I end up buying frozen cod from the freezer. And there is only one kind of prawn, the grey and small kind squashed together in little packs. The leafy vegetables don't look quite as perky and fresh, I resort to buying beans and cabbage.

At the supermarket, I get distracted easily and buy all kinds of silly other things. I return home with too little fresh groceries because I don't see many things I like. Then I end up having to return to the supermarket again during the week.

I can't wait for the wet market to open again. Another 2 more weeks to go and my weekends will be normal again.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

My lil brother

We celebrated my little brother's birthday last night. Well, he's not little any more but in my mind, he'll always be the adorable kid I grew up with. He was such a cute and bright kid, he attracted lots of attention everywhere we went. Needless to say, he was quite the charmer as a young adult too. Today, he's the father of two lovely girls.

From young, he has a penchant for collecting things, like watches. Now, he's quite the oenophile or wine connoisseur who unlike me, has a good knowledge of wine culture. Thanks to him, I get a glass of fine red wine every weekend.

He can whip up a mean meal too. He specialises in traditional Asian food not readily available outside like pork knuckle in black vinegar and bamboo shoot stew. He's a perfectionist in the kitchen and prepares everything from scratch, even mixing and blending his own curry spices for authenticity. He is the head of food and nutrition in the family.

In other words, my little brother is quite the family man now. And it was so heartwarming to see his daughters belting out "Happy birthday to Daddy!" last night.

His kids playing "teacher and student'.


I'm laughing at my silliness now. Can you remember how I was scratching my head over the coriander (cilantro) seeds that germinated into spinach? It's like chicken eggs hatching into ducklings!

Well, the mystery is solved now that the true leaves have appeared.

A gardener like me should have known that first set of leaves that appears when a seed germinates is called seed leaves. Most plants look similar at this point.

I was just being impatient and anxious of course. The fact that I sowed spinach and coriander near each other doesn't help. They both germinated with sharp seed leaves at the same time. I had expected coriander to start off with round leaves like some vegetables.

Looking at the jagged true leaf that appeared today, there is no mistake these are coriander plants.

And these are my spinach seedlings.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Shopping for rings

Thanks to the Singapore JewelFest, today's paper is splashed with diamonds and engagement rings. Luckily (for CH), diamond is not really my best friend.

My first diamond ring is of course the solitare engagement ring from eons ago. At that time, I was so not used to wearing a rock that I ended up with scratches all over my cheek. After a week, I chucked it into the drawer and it has never seen the light again.

I bought my next ring in Belgium, the world's largest centre of diamond trade and industry. How can I leave Belgium without a diamond ring? So I bought myself two. This time, I picked smaller diamonds set amongst pretty emerald and sapphire gemstones. They were gorgeous and great for daily wear yet they didn't stay on my fingers for long.

Whilst I like looking at rings, I guess I'm just not good at wearing them. They get in my way when I'm doing housework and gardening. Strangely, I only buy rings when I'm traveling. I've bought rings encrusted with lovely gems from an Israeli man in a beach hut in Thailand and a diamond necklace from a souk in Dubai. My last purchase was a sapphire ring from a jewelry shop in Sri Lanka.

I've acquired these pretty things yet I'm wearing none today. Sometimes I even wonder where I've placed them.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


Hmmm, it's strange that many bloggers are not updating their blogs as regularly as before. Are they tweeting or plurking instead? I click and go "ugh' when I don't see anything new. I'm sure you're giving me that because I too am slacking. What to do when there's nothing to report?

SK's exams start today and YK has received the timetable for his new semester. That means his new term is starting soon and it's time to pay school fees again. SK needs a new computer and it's about time to replace my lappy. See, when it rains, it pours!

As it turns out, we had no rain or breeze last night. While watering my plants at 5.30am, I saw my neighbour running out to the balcony to check if it was raining.

"Sorry if I had alarmed you. I'm watering the plants.", I said sheepishly. He was too sleepy to greet me.

Rusty's eye seems to be less bloody. Now he tries to run away when he sees me taking his eye drop from the fridge, and squirms when I catch him. Applying eye drop is not fun but someone has to do it.

It suddenly dawned on me that my exercise bike is turning into a white elephant. I haven't been watching telly lately, hence the cycling stopped. Last night, I made myself sit through the 1-hour programme, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" so I could do some cycling.

Well, that's how exciting my life is at the moment. I'm kinda looking forward to a friend's wedding on 29th October just to break this boring spell. She's marrying an Irish (I think)... or is he Scottish? Maybe even English?

Gosh, I don't think I'm smarter than a 5th grader!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

No surprise

It rained again last night. No surprise really, since we're right smack in the middle of monsoon season. YK just texted me about The Super Typhoon Parma hitting the Philippines tonight, sending strong winds our way too. We're bracing ourselves for another wet and windy night. I hope my plants will not be battered in the storm and that Rusty will not cower in fear.

I couldn't walk him yesterday as it was still raining when I left for work. I left a note for YK to walk him later. The kid, who detests walking the dog, surprised me by going for such a long one until Rusty was tired out. YK had to carry him home. As you would imagine, Rusty has been getting extra cuddles after his right eye turned bad.

Something surprising happened in my garden. The coriander seeds I have recently sowed have germinated into spinach seedlings. I've no luck in growing coriander until now, so naturally I was excited to see the sprouts. As ridiculous as it sounds, the winds could have carried spinach seeds from the pots nearby into this container. I'm quite sure coriander and spinach seedlings do not look identical but at less than 1cm, one can never be too sure. Before I jump to any wild conclusions, let's just wait for them to grow a little bigger.

The office is unusually quiet today. I'm holding the fort as my colleague is away on holiday. I should tell her to stay indoors tonight so she doesn't get blown away by strong winds. Don't worry about me as I'll be under the warm covers. Yah, get a life.

This is fun!

Now that we're selling gardening kits to little kids, I find myself enjoying school visits immensely. I guess the enthusiasm that the teachers exude can be quite infectious too.

Take this morning for instance. When I needed help with the heavy carton boxes, four teachers trooped to my car to lend a hand. They squealed in delight when they saw the products for the first time, and examined them like they were Prada bags.

Then the sight of happy kids skipping past made me want to join in the fun too. It's no wonder some lawyers and accountants leave their jobs to become preschool teachers.

The lady principal brought me to their backyard garden which showcases tomatoes, okra, long beans and chilli planted by little kids, with some help from the teachers. The plants are carefully tagged so the kids could learn. I was so impressed with the gardening effort, I think they're a good role model for other preschools.

When we ventured into this little business, I did not forsee the intangible benefits and the joy it would bring. Now I think it's a blessing indeed.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Poor Rusty

What's the outcome of Rusty's visit to the eye specialist? The doctor still couldn't see anything behind that thick layer of blood in his eyeball. Her suspicion is Rusty has been blind in the right eye for sometime now. As a result, he could have walked into something sharp and injured it further.

We'll have to apply eye drop and feed him steroids and wait for the blood to clear before she can examine the eye again.

Even so, the prognosis is grim. If the cataract is severe, chances of restoring his eyesight is very slim even after an operation. There's no point in discussing about it now. Until then, we just have to wait and see.

The good news is, his other eye is in excellent shape. His lifestyle will not be compromised too much except that he may hurt his bad eye again while snooping around the hedge or bushes.

The doctor had nothing but praises for lil Rusty. Not only was he quiet and well behaved, he didn't even flinch or growl when the doctor shone her torch into his eyes.

We left the clinic $70 poorer with no immediate solution in sight. We're supposed to return after 2 weeks. Poor Rusty!

As if the situation isn't bad enough, I stepped on a big pile of dog poo on the way to the car. It stank so much, I tossed the pair of Indian leather shoes in the bin. Poor mummy had to walk to the elevator without any shoes!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Compleat Angler

No matter how busy I am on a Sunday, I make it a point to read the half page article by Lee Wei Ling in The Sunday Times. I enjoy reading all her insightful stories and I'm not saying this because she's the daughter of our Mentor Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

She comes across as a compassionate person, one who is full of humility and appreciates the simple things in life despite her privileged upbringing. Needless to day, her articles always leaves me feeling positive. Yesterday's article was another delightful one.

I lighted up when I read about her father's 86th birthday celebration at The Compleat Angler on 16 September. I always remember his birthday because it is just a day after mine. When I was younger, I was full of insecurities and didn't feel all that smart. But knowing that my birthday is a day away from the most charismatic man in Singapore made me feel better. Is that a smart thought or what? LOL!

There was no news of his birthday this year because he was traveling. So when his daughter wrote about the dinner at The Compleat Angler by the River Thames, it made me sit up. She wasn't talking about his birthday per se but sitting by the Thames made her recall the ambitious plan initiated by her father in 1977 to clean up the filthy Kallang River.

Thanks to him, speedboats, dragon boats, kayaks and colourful bumboats ferrying tourists can be seen plying the clean waterways of the Kallang River today. We can't compare it with the Thames of course, but Kallang River has certainly come a long way.

By coincidence, I was standing before The Compleat Angler overlooking the idyllic Thames River last December, wishing I could spend my next summer languishing in the award-winning hotel.

We didn't eat at the restaurant that day but as I stood on the Marlow Bridge, I imagined the kinds of people who have walked through the doors of the classic 400 year old English Country House Hotel. There must have been countless celebrities and noblemen in their finery.

Now I find it easy to imagine MM Lee Kuan Yew, his daughter and entourage dining in one of their sophisticated riverside restaurants. While eating, with his eyes cast on the iconic river Thames, his mind must have drifted back to our lively Singapore River scene.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Weekend is here!

Yes, weekend is here. I don't know whether to rejoice or not because my weekends are no longer restful.

I went back to the farm really early so I could get some packing done quickly. A church kindergarten had ordered our gardening products as part of their lesson plan. It's important for children to experience the growing process so that they can learn. We're already getting feedback from some parents about how excited and impatient their kids are in seeing the seeds germinate.

We've sent emails to teachers to remind the kids not to drown the young seedlings with too much water. It has happened in one preschool. Every kid who walks by waters the plants until the poor vegetables died.

I dropped by best friend's house in the afternoon to send her some stuff and was invited to lunch with the family out in the patio. Of course, we spent more time discussing about how to improve the business more than anything else.

Then I hurried home to be with my kids who have been so understanding yet I feel are getting quite neglected during the weekends. SK has gone out to study together with his friends, and YK's easy to handle. I went to the fishfarm with him and now I'm in his good books again.

Rusty's eye ball is still blood red. Most people, even the vet, were puzzled with the condition. I guess we can only tell what's wrong after meeting the eye specialist on Monday. I forsee a huge medical bill coming. He's now hiding under the desk because he could sense a storm coming.

Pity the weather's been gloomy and cloudy all day. It's mid-autumn festival, a day where family and friends gather to admire the bright mid-autumn moon and eat mooncakes. Looking at the weather, I doubt the moon will be visible tonight but who knows, sometimes miracles do happen.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Heart stopping

YK just texted me to say that the car he was traveling in was involved in an accident. A truck had hit the passenger side, the same side that YK was sitting in, causing a dent. Any harder and YK would have been crushed. Such a close shave. It sent chills down my spine.

According to YK, the lorry was at fault but gosh, how nerve wrecking is that?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Elixir of life

For some reason, the morning so far feels weird. Maybe it is the hazy skies or the stillness of the air, or even the lack of cars on the road as I drove to work, it's like the world has stopped moving.

I remember seeing a movie like that years ago, where the entire world just froze and everyone disappeared from the face of the earth. Only the crew and passengers on a plane were spared. They landed in an air terminal with nobody in sight. It was eerie and surreal.

As I sit at my work desk, I begin to hear the sounds of traffic in the distance. The sun has started peeking through the clouds at 9.30am, sending soft morning light streaming through the glass window. Maybe that's what it is, we were missing the sunlight. The sun is indeed the exilir of life, without which I cannot survive.

Soon, my friends Steph and Fry will walk through the office door. They're coming by to vist and we'll go for lunch at the Joan Bowen Cafe nearby to celebrate Fry's new office opening. Congratulations on your opening, Fry! The sun is up at the auspicious hour. It's a good sign.


After an unusually busy day, I almost lost my temper with K, my customer from India. She called while the vet was examining Rusty*, reminding me (again) to release some containers in Mumbai to her urgently.

I told her I would see to it when I get back. She had already started pestering me hours ago and I had sent reminders to the container yard.

"Can you ask your staff to check?", she asked.

"It's almost 7pm, my dear, everyone has gone home." I answered.

I returned home to find emails from her asking the same thing. I told her to be patient and wait while the yard organises the containers.

She called again while I was cooking dinner, this time sounding frustrated. I stopped cooking and ran to check my mailbox. No replies from the yard yet.

The phone rang again while I was having dinner. This time, I couldn't help but tell her, "You've got to stop calling me every ten minutes. It's dinner time here. Please give the yard some time. I will inform you once I hear from them!"

Now, Ms K has the kind of voice that bellows. For the longest time, I had imagined her to be a big and frightening lady who could crush me like a cockroach... until I met her. She turned out to be a petite and pretty young lady with a loud, machinegun voice. While she's mostly nice, she can be extremely impatient and can come across as being very pushy and inconsiderate. Every single deal is of utmost importance and urgency!

Besides, she can be very persistent and will go on calling until she gets what she wants. Luckily the yard has replied and she can send her hauliers to pick up the containers now. Phew! At least I can sleep well tonight but I do worry for her. If she goes on like this, she'll get a heart attack one day!

*Yesterday I realised his right eyeball has turned unusually red. The condition didn't improve today, so I brought him to the vet. It's not infected or inflammed, so the vet couldn't identify the problem but she made an appointment for him to see the eye specialist next Monday. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to apply eyedrops and keep an eye on his eye. I hope it is nothing serious. It is indeed worrying.