Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ten things I like to do

It has been a while since I've been invited to participate in blogging games, or is it called meme? This time I'm asked to make a list of ten things I enjoy doing. To keep the game going, I'm supposed to invite ten other bloggers to do the same. I'm inviting everyone who enjoys making lists to join in the game!

1. I love playing with dogs - big ones, small ones, young ones, old ones! A dog really makes a best friend.
2. I love gardening especially the kind that involves digging, shoving dirt and sweating like a pig.
3. I love cooking ala Nigella style (read as casual, fuss-free). She's the epitome of a kitchen goddess. If only I look half as good as her (top half please).
4. I love running at my own pace. To me a good run is invigorating. It has to be stress-free. I don't give a hoot about my timing or training for marathons. Just go out and run!
5. I love traveling to new places at my own pace, not get herded around like sheep.
6. I love to sit by the beach and do nothing. Just enjoy the breeze.
7. I love hiking and nature walks. Doesn't matter where as long as it's not the desert or anywhere with plenty of snakes.
8. I love eating desserts like cakes and ice cream, only if they are worth the calories.
9. I love watching children play. They're so imaginative and innocent.
10. I love meeting up with friends. I get a buzz that lasts all day.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


It's 10pm and I just heard SK walking in the front door. The poor boy has been doing night study in school for weeks. He is mugging for his exams next week.

He's in school by 7.15am every morning and doesn't return home until 10pm. That's alot of time spent studying!

I can't wait for his exams to be over so he can take a break. He is looking forward to upgrading his computer and fish tank. After all that hard work, how can I not approve? He's ever so thoughtful and insists on using his own savings to pay for those things.

He's a good son.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The idea that grew and grew

As you would know by now, I have been working with a bunch of young kids to transform their school yard into a little green haven. With my limited resources, I could only bring seeds, stem cuttings and seedlings for them to grow every week.

They began to develop the joy of gardening and respect for nature. Some grew up deprived of parental love and never knew what it is like to care for others. In some ways, gardening helps bring out the nurturing side in them.

Working with these kids has been a rewarding experience. It has inspired me to work harder to make the garden a more productive one. The kids get so excited when they see results. They're eagerly anticipating a good harvest of sweetcorn which they might sell to raise funds. These aspiring entrepreneurs have sold mangoes and cookies in the school canteen.

Their energy is so infectious, it has inspired me to work towards my own dreams. I began toying with the idea of combining my love for gardening and animals to create something inspiring yet practical.

Once the idea was planted in my head, it just grew and grew. Finally, the time has come to roll out the first product - The "Grow a Little Love Everyday" 2011 poster calendar.

Promotional flier.

Featuring animals, flowers, leaves (28 types, each painstakingly illustrated by a very talented artist) and heart-shaped trees, the calendar showcases nature at its whimsical best. I hope the graphics will lift one’s spirit and feed the soul, inspiring one to give a little love every day.

The A2 size full colour poster is printed on the elegant 170gsm Antalis Sensation Tradition, bright white paper stock. The dates are laid out at the bottom so that it can easily be cut off if you want to keep the print hanging after the year is over.

I'm shamelessly promoting here hoping my readers will help spread the word around. As you know, the window for selling 2011 calendar is rather short, so any help is greatly appreciated.

It makes a great Christmas gift! 'Love grows by giving' is my new mantra.

The retail price is S$10 (USD7.50) per piece. Shipping cost within Singapore is S$3 for one piece (packed in a cardboard tube) or S$3.50 if you order two pieces. I am happy to ship all over the world but the postal rate varies according to the destination. Please feel free to drop me an email or comment if you have any queries.

My aspiration is to make this new venture a success. Please keep a lookout for more new products to come. With more money in my pocket, I will be able to grow more flowers in the school garden.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

New favourite

The gula melaka pandan cake by Cedele has to be our new favourite cake. After my sis-in-law read the raving review by Posh Nosh, she ordered one for my nephew's birthday.

Baked with freshly squeezed pandan leaves, organic unrefined sugar and grapeseed oil, sandwiched with kaya and frosted with unrefined gula melaka cream cheese, it is really to-die-for.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

My friend Dan

I'm meeting an old friend Dan for coffee today. It's funny how he found me via Facebook. He's a friend of a friend of CH.

Anyway, I met Dan some 25 years ago through my ex. They were in the army together. Now he has found me through my current beau. Isn't life full of ironies?

Dan is one of the nicest guys you can find. He is the kind who can put up with all kinds of shit. As a person, he's easy going and gets along well with everyone. When it comes to work, he's able to withstand the toughest conditions. He's a commercial diver, you see.

He travels across the world on deep sea missions, so he's always armed with lots of stories to tell. Yah, he earns good money but is away from his wife and family a large part of the year. Living on an oil rig for months, in the middle of the ocean with a bunch of burly men can drive any man insane, yet Dan has this zen-like calmness about him.

I can never forget the year he returned to Singapore with his guts spilling out after a missile hit the ship he was in. I believe they were involved in a salvage mission during the Iraq war. Some of the crew were instantly killed, others were badly injured.

The blast ripped open his stomach, leaving a gaping hole. He waited for a long time for help to arrive, clutching his stomach with his bare hands to prevent intestines from spilling onto the deck. Drifting in and out of consciousness, he willed himself to survive.

He was sent to the nearest hospital in the war torn country, which was already packed with soldiers with severe injuries and missing limbs. There, doctors and medical supplies were seriously lacking. As a foreigner, he was cast aside and left to die.

Luckily his employer arranged for him to fly back to Singapore in the nick of time. He probably made medical history here as our doctors had never seen or treated a war victim before.

When he arrived in Singapore, he was as scrawny as a stick. We couldn't recognise him. Our muscular and solidly built friend was so shrunken and sickly, it pained our hearts.

After he was properly stitched up, his road to recovery was not an easy one. The memories of his dead colleagues remained fresh in his mind. With his determination and discipline, he trained hard and was back diving again. He also married his sweetheart, who is a nurse (I suspect they met while he was in the hospital).

Looking at him now, you can never tell the kind of trauma he had been through, unless he shows you the long scar running across his belly. Dan is da man!

Mid-autumn Festival

It's mid-autumn festival where the moon is supposed to be at its brightest. We don't really care about the different legends surrounding this auspicious date, we just want to sit outside and admire the moon.

So I brought mooncake and wine to the patio. Rusty tagged along to beg for food.

CH cannot live without his laptop, so he did some work under the moonlight.

Growing up in the kampong, we had so much fun carrying lanterns and playing with candles. Kids these days have completely no interest in such traditions. Sad.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The backpack

YK is so passionate about his reef hobby that he reads only marine reef journals for leisure. He's quite happy to spend his weekends and holidays helping out at the fish farm (the same one he patronises) without getting paid. The lady boss treats him like her own son.

I think it's great that he's gaining experience while doing something that he enjoys. Dealing with suppliers, colleagues and customers has enriched his life in so many ways. These are life lessons that he can't learn while sitting at home, watching TV or playing games.

Last night, he was at the airport with the boss to send a worker off. The worker's 2-year contract has ended, so he had to return to China.

YK felt particularly sorry to see him leave. "Can you imagine he didn't have any luggage with him?"

"He came to Singapore and left without a suitcase. All his belongings were packed in carton boxes. So poor thing."

As it turns out, he had one carton too many and didn't want to pay for the excess baggage charge of US$200. So he opened up the box and gave away bottles of liquor and birdnest (presents meant for his family back home). All that remained were some of his old clothes.

"I gave him my backpack. Hope you don't mind", YK said.

"The Victorinox one that you bring to school everyday?!" I asked.

"Yes. So he could put his clothes in and board the plane." he replied.

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not, but deep inside, I'm secretly happy that my son has a good heart.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Letting go

Two of my girlfriends have been brought up by single mothers. Even though they are already in their 30s, their mums are still excessively protective over them.

One of them, B, is dying to move out to live on her own. Her mum thinks she's being rebellious and wants to hear nothing of it. My friend ends up feeling resentful and frustrated.

I often wonder if I would behave the same way if I had daughters. Perhaps with girls, it is tougher to loosen the apron strings. We don't want them to marry the wrong man and end up like us.

Single mothers may also worry about dating again. Some choose to remain single for life. With daughters in tow, there is always the fear of abusive or exploitive stepfathers. It's something we often read about in the papers.

In a way, I'm glad both my kids are boys. When I brought my niece out last month, I watched over her like a hawk. Suddenly every man in the street looked suspicious. I grabbed her hand tightly and warned her not to speak to strangers.

On one hand, I urge B to just do it. Over time, her mum will surely come to terms with the daughter's decision. I have done it in the past. My mum wasn't happy at first but got used to it soon. We're best friends now.

Yet, on the other hand, I feel a little sorry for her mum. After struggling for 30 years to raise her only child, she is back to being alone again. Still, she must learn to let go.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

When I'm driving

It's strange how ideas flow so freely when I am driving. It's like my mind is moving in tandem with the four wheels. As I cruise along the highway, exciting ideas bounce around inside my head.

When I park and walk away, I seem to leave my brain behind. But I can't be driving all day long, can I?

Errant fathers

When I am driving the kids around, I often update them with interesting news that I've read in the papers.

Yesterday, I told them about the proposed changes to the Women's Charter to have tougher rules against men who fail to pay maintenance to their children and former wives.

When I saw the statistics, I realised that their father is not the only errant one. One divorcee said her husband has already skipped payment for 3 months and she's running out of money to raise her child. The monthly allowance of $4,500 is set to increase to $5,000 a month as the child gets older.

Gosh, my kids' father is only expected to pay a total sum of $1,200 a month and he has not done so for five or six years. I've lost count actually. The paltry sum is barely enough for the kids' pocket money. What was I thinking then?

I already knew I would be in for serious disappointment if I had to depend on him to support the kids. People divorce for a reason, and this is only one of them. It says alot about a person's character or lack of.

The kids thought it was really unfair to me. "Why don't you go to court?", they asked.

I share the same sentiment as the woman mentioned above. "Why waste time going to court when you know you can't recover any money despite incurring legal fees. I would rather spend quality time with the kids."

Yes, a big waste of time and energy.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Perfect score!

It has been a hectic week for CH. He's working on an important project and his days are swamped with endless meetings and business lunches. When he told me about the fine dining experience at Les Amis and other fancy restaurants, I said, "You keep telling me, why don't you bring me there?"

Yesterday he sprung a wonderful birthday surprise. He made dinner reservations at Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar, which is incidentally, the winner of the 2009 World Gourmet Summit Awards Of Excellence Indoguna Restaurant of the Year.

Garibaldi is often referred to as the best Italian restaurant in Singapore, and is known to bring in fresh ingredients directly from Italy. Yesterday, I was so excited porcini mushroom is in season. The aroma and texture of lightly grilled porcini still lingers in my mind. The white asparagus and sweet Italian tomatoes are also to die for, and these were just the garnishings that arrived with the main dishes.

For appetizers, the Hokkaido Scallop with US Green Asparagus and Truffle Emulsion was really delicious while the Garlic Snails with Sauté Baby Spinach and Chick Peas Purée were the best I had ever eaten!

For the main meal, I had
Homemade Spinach Noodles with Braised Chalon Duck while CH went for the highly recommended grilled lamb served with mashed potato and Porcini Mushrooms. I'm never a big fan of lamb but the ones at Garibaldi were tender, succulent and not at all gamey. Simply excellent.

We were so stuffed, I almost wanted to forgo dessert but CH insisted that we should enjoy our drinks and relax for a bit. I picked molten lava chocolate cake with hazelnut gelato.

Moments later, a waiter brought out a piece of tiramisu, elegantly garnished with fresh mixed berries and a candle. CH had it all planned out days ago, I was touched beyond words.

He has really outdone himself this time. Besides the expensive dinner, he also bought me a lovely necklace (to go with all my black dresses) and flowers.

He's so cute, he got me a pot of gloxinia instead of a bouquet of flowers. He knows that it will keep giving me flowers for years. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Note: Sorry for the lack of photos. The dining room is so posh, it's simply impolite to whip out my camera and start clicking away. I was thoroughly impressed with the attentive and professional service. In fact, most of the staff wished me Happy Birthday on my way out. We had one of the best dining experience.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A happy day!

Maybe I'm at that age, I don't make a fuss over my birthday anymore. The best present I had ever received was 16 years ago, when SK arrived into this world just hours before my birthday. I spent that birthday in the ward gazing at his adorable face and teeny weeny fingers and toes.

Nowadays, I am blessed to have friends and family who remember my birthday. The celebrations began last weekend when my sis-in-law bought me a black forest cake and presents.

When a parcel arrived two days ago, I was surprised.

Huier is so sweet. She sends me such thoughtful gifts every year. This time, it's a French music CD and an Italian handmade card holder. She knows how I love these things. I am so grateful to have friends like her.

Today, a dear friend surprised me with a strawberry shortcake from The Patissier which makes the most elegant and delectable cakes. Needless to say, I was extremely touched.

She insisted that I make several wishes before blowing out the candle. The cake was absolutely delicious!

She treated me to lunch at Barracks which is currently my favourite restaurant. We had the warm pumpkin salad and Ahi Taki pizza.

The pumpkin was a little too hard for our liking but the pizza was absolutely perfect. The crust was thin and light, and generously topped with seared fresh tuna, port-wine soaked raisins, pistachios, avocado slices, and roasted tomatoes. It was a joy to eat.

The celebration didn't end at Barracks. I arrived for my weekly gardening session at the school to find a student celebrating his birthday today. Here he is, very serious about making his birthday wish.

Before I left, the kids presented me with a box of mooncakes they made yesterday. These 9-year old kids never fail to impress me!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Birthday boys

SK and Rusty, 7 years ago.

My little boy turns 16 today! I know I say this every year but I must say it again, "How time flies!"

The tiny baby (only 2.8kg at birth) is now a tall and muscular young man, with a good head on his shoulders. He has proven to be diligent and quietly ambitious. On the way to school today, he asked, "What's a bachelor's pad?"

Then he wanted to know what kind of salary he has to earn and save before he can buy his own house. Maybe he thinks the process is too slow because he asked, "Is it easy to set up a business?"

That's my boy! He had asked the right question! After giving him a summary, I asked if it all sounds interesting to him. He said "No."

Ah, he's still young. Happy birthday SK!

Incidentally, Rusty just turned 7 this year, that's 49 in human years. The little dog is officially the oldest member in the family!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Blackie Eight gathering

Five members of the Blackie Eight met up and spent the afternoon poring over old photographs. Amidst the giggling and reminiscing, eating and drinking, we feel so blessed that the bond is still strong after all these years.

May Ling and I at Taman Negara, Malaysia in 2001.

Year 2010.

Viv, May Ling and I at Taman Negara in 2001.

Year 2010.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Little admirers

As you can see, Rusty is quite popular with the little kids in our estate.

"Can we touch him?"
"He's so cute!"

Rusty doesn't really care. He just wants to escape and go for his walk.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


The lunch date with my friend was very enjoyable, even more so because we share much in common. After being apart for more than ten years, we had lots of catching up to do.

Naturally our conversations veered towards the tumultuous years of marriage and betrayal, denial, loneliness, overcoming adversities and raising the kids.

She had traveled the world, lived overseas for some years and is now back here. It's strange how our lives end up uncanningly similar after our own colourful journeys. Now that we've found each other again, it's comforting to know that there's someone who shares the same fears, anxiety, hardship and joys of bringing up our children.

She understands why I'm fiercely protective of my children and how much it means to provide them with a normal childhood and be there for them 100% of the time. Because we are all they have for now.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Blackie Eight

I can't help feeling a little depressed today even though an old friend is treating me to lunch. Like me, she's a single mum struggling to bring her son up all by herself.

She wanted me to choose the restaurant, I thought of Barracks right away because I love the food and ambience. Yesterday I found out that she is saving money to bring her son to Japan this December. She had flatly refused my offer to split the bill or pay for lunch, so here I am thinking of another place that's easier on her pocket.

We're born exactly 2 days apart and we've been looking forward to this celebration for sometime now. In fact, all our Blackie Eight members are planning to meet this Friday to eat and chat.

Today, one emailed to say her mum had a heart attack and is critically ill in the hospital. Another one can't join us because she had to visit her mum on the same day. Yet another one is keeping vigil by her father's side as he lies comatose in the hospital.

Today, a friend on FaceBook talked about his mum's final days as cancer ravages through her body. According to him, she's at peace and the family's enjoying a laugh amidst the tears.

Yesterday, I devoted my afternoon bringing mum for her TCM consultation. She was determined to see the Chinese doctor despite the long 3-hour wait. We reached home at 8.30pm, hungry and tired but hopeful that her condition will improve for the better.

Looking around me, I can only say that hitting this milestone is not an easy one. On one hand, we're happy to see our little ones grow up yet on the other hand, it's painful to see the older ones decline.

Monday, 6 September 2010


I didn't have a very good day at work yesterday, so I went home early. It was just after lunch hour and knowing that YK was at home, I called to ask if he needed lunch. He didn't pick up his phone, so I texted him. He didn't reply either.

When I got home, he came running to the door. "Did you buy lunch?"

By the time I saw unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink, I was in a foul mood. I must have yelled, "No! I kept calling and calling but you didn't answer!"

If there's one thing that he hates, it is being yelled at. His first retort was, "I put my phone to silent because I was studying for my test."

He checked his phone, "You're exaggerating. There's only 1 missed call!"

By then, I was feeling terrible and told him I had a bad day. "That doesn't mean you can take it out on me!" he stormed off to his room.

I realised he had canned mushroom soup for breakfast and canned squid for lunch. I rustled up his favourite pasta in double quick time. By the time it was ready, he was back at his desk, scribbling notes for his science test. He ate the hot lunch gratefully and we stopped getting mad at each other.

When he came down with a bad stomachache in the evening, I suspected it had everything to do with the cold canned squid. I had told the kids a million times that canned food must be heated up first before consumption. I guess he just got lazy.

Whilst he can make a mean plate of pasta, he had chosen to make a quick meal out of canned food. This happens when you leave them alone at home.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

A wet Yellow Ribbon Run

Looking at the miserable state of my garden yesterday, I had asked for rain. The plants always perk up after a heavy downpour. The rain gods must have heard because I woke up to a wet morning.

Argh! Of all days! We went for the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run anyway. The rain didn't let up even when we were waiting for the flag off. At 8.30am, we set off in our ponchos.

A superhero?

Might as well grin and bear it.

The run took us through a scenic route (with several inclines) outside the prison walls. Due to my lack of training, it felt longer than 6km. Thanks to the cool weather, I didn't feel exhausted at all.

The kilt-wearing members of the Singapore Women Police Pipes & Drums were there too.

I must say the event was very well organised. We received a bag full of goodies (banana, orange, muffin and drinks) and a lovely Finisher 'key' but where was the elusive ice cream?

It was too cold for ice cream anyway, so CH and I went for roti prata and teh halia (ginger milk tea) instead.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Almost famous

You would know by now that CH is an ardent fan of kilts. He has seven different ones, from camouflage (below) to the tartan for formal occasions. With him walking around town in his kilt, it is only a matter of time before someone from the media notices.

About a week ago, a radio DJ from FM100.3 saw him at an ice cream parlour and requested for CH to appear on his 'people with special interests' segment.

At the recording studio yesterday, RazorTV and Sin Min Daily also wanted to do a feature on him.

So CH will be on air (FM100.3) tonight at 7pm. Will keep you all posted about the video on RazorTv and writeup in the papers.

Yes, CH is (almost) famous now. If you want his autograph, I can help pull some strings. You must know who to bribe of course (ahem!).