Monday 28 February 2011

Week of treats

Is there no such thing as a free lunch?

Yesterday, Auntie Lucia treated me to lunch at Tanglin Club. Not only that, she gave me a bunch of stuff, including fish oil for my doggie! Thank you!

Last Sunday, we were treated to a sumptuous lunch paid for by my father and uncle. It was a gathering for the entire extended family. When my grandma was still around, it was an annual ritual to get together for her birthday celebration. Last Sunday's lunch was the first gathering for the clan ever since granny's demise in 2005.

A total of 90 people attended the lunch at Boon Lay Raja Restaurant. The place is rather old fashioned but the food is good.

We were tasked to take photos of the family members.

It was an 8-course lunch, eaten over two hours.

Hot and cold combo dish.

The roasted crispy duck was excellent!

Broccoli with fresh scallop.

Pork in a yam ring.

Herbal fish soup.

Fried prawns.

E fu noodles with quail eggs.

For dessert, we had the traditional Teochew dish - orh nee - sweet yam with pumpkin and ginkgo nuts. It was my late granny's favourite.

Speaking of desserts, our friends gave us a treat at Awfully Chocolate (East Coast) on Friday night.

The cakes were so good, I must have put back all the weight I've recently lost!

Cold poached chocolate topped with fresh cream and butterscotch. Highly recommended!

Super stacked chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

The pear frangipane tasted surprisingly good.

Peanut butter crumble - I have a weakness for peanut butter!

Amy also treated us to fruits and wine at her house last week. The cloudberry (lakka) liqueur put us all on cloud 9! I need to get my hands on a bottle if I travel to Scandinavian countries.

Amy's house.

Finally, CH is treating his family (us included) to steamboat dinner at Joo Chiat tonight. Another treat. I am one lucky girl!

Thursday 24 February 2011

At the yard

I think my job is quite nice. It takes me to all kinds of places, often to far flung places. Today I was at a container yard situated at the furthest end of Singapore.

The tide was low and the air was clear. Across the water, I could see the coastline of Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

I spotted a kingfisher too, sunbathing in the morning light.

Wildflowers grow in abundance.

This particular one below brings back memories of my childhood.

It produces mini-pods very similar to passion fruit. We used to suck on the sweet sticky seeds when we were kids.


The last time I had coffee was 12 days ago. It was a Monday. I had a cup of instant coffee at a client's office and another cup of strong brew at an Italian restaurant. Then nothing for the next 2 weeks. On the second day without coffee, I had a headache the whole day - part of the side effects.

Now that my body is all cleaned up, I have no more cravings for coffee.

Prior to that, my day would start humming only after drinking a hot cup of coffee. Very often, by the time lunch hour rolls around, I had to resist the urge to reach for another one. My day would be complete only after I had my coffee break at 3pm.

The thing about coffee is, the more you drink, the more your body craves for it. It's a habit and addiction. The smell of coffee is comforting and the taste fills the body with immense satisfaction.

I started drinking coffee when I began working and got hooked. As a child, we never had coffee at home. The old coffee shop at my workplace served the best coffee. I had my milky coffee cum kaya toast breakfast there every morning. The only time I quit drinking was when I was pregnant and nursing.

Can you imagine how much caffiene I had been feeding my body for the past 2 decades? I almost couldn't live without it. The first thing I do when I check into a hotel is to make myself a cup of coffee. Sometimes I even bring my own in case the supply runs out.

Coffee used to be a necessity when I'm reading the papers. This morning, I contemplated making a cup of coffee but was reluctant to do so. I was afraid I might get hooked again. I had a cup of hot cereal instead.

During the weekend, after a refreshing cup of coffee, I would find myself with plenty of energy to tackle housework. Well, let's see how I cope tomorrow.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

So detoxed!

I'm fully detoxed now and I feel great! Ironic as it may sound, I have never felt so healthy. I no longer need the 2 mandatory cups of coffee a day and I am drinking a lot more water and fresh fruit juice. These days, I sleep early and wake up feeling refreshed. My body is lighter and the clothes fit better.

Though I have lost 3kg, nobody has noticed except for YK who is now inspired to lose some weight himself through healthy eating. For dinner last night, instead of pasta, I made him a delicious mango/tomato/mushroom and shrimp salad.

Today, I've stocked the fridge up with lots of mango, oranges, water melon, papaya, cherry tomatoes, apples and cantaloupe. The family will eat healthily from now on.

Tonight, my other two detoxed friends and I are having a little gathering at a friend's place. While many have been slamming this detox diet, it feels good to have some form of support and encouragement from them during the 8 day journey. You should see how radiant and rejuvenated they look now.

I feel that the most important thing is to listen to your own body. A detox diet that is carried out properly can be beneficial. Well, it certainly feels that way to me.

Monday 21 February 2011

Books and men

After reading Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng, I began to show more interest in the political maelstrom of China during the 20th century. Currently I am reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang.

Though these were books that I've read 10 years ago, it feels different re-reading them now. It helps me understand why the Chinese people behave they way they do today. Both books describe the violent struggles between the Kuomintang and the Communists, and the vicious cycle of purges and policies orchestrated by Chairman Mao that kept the citizens living in misery and fear.

In Wild Swans, Jung Chang's father was a high-ranking officer slavishly devoted to revolution. In 1949, while he drove 1000 miles in a jeep during a long and arduous journey to Yibin, his sick and pregnant wife walked alongside due to her rank. Despite suffering excruciating pains one night, she was denied the use of the vehicle because her husband thought it would be unfair to grant his wife special privileges. She was later found lying in a pool of blood. When he discovered that she had a miscarriage, he promised to be more attentive to her needs.

Their relationship reminds me of my parents. While my father takes good care of the family's needs, he doesn't seem to be attentive towards my mother. Until now, I still hear her lamenting that he cares more for his workers than he does for her. It is simply not his style to pander to his wife's whims or to utter words of kindness to her. I can't help but feel sorry for her, now that she is ill and needs more words of comfort than anything else.

Women are not that difficult to please. Most of us are already self-sacrificing, all we ask for is to be spoken nicely to and to feel cherished. Unfortunately this is something which many of our local men cannot deliver.

During a brief relationship with a caucasian man soon after my divorce, I discovered first-hand what it felt to hear words of encouragement and endearment from a man. While the relationship was not meant to be, I still thank him for motivating me to achieve my goals. If not for him, I might not have found the courage to start my life over in a brand new industry. He was almost like my personal coach.

Until now, whenever I feel down and out, I still hear these words "You go girl! Atta girl! You can do it! You're so beautiful. You're smart. Step up to the plate, you must up the ante!" ringing in my ears after almost a decade.

Sunday 20 February 2011

7th day and counting

After over-indulging over the Chinese New Year (2 reunion dinners, 2 seafood dinners at Jumbo, 1 BBQ, 1 Chinese restaurant lunch and tons of cookies), I felt quite sorry for my poor aging (and bloated) body.

When I saw how radiant my friends looked after going on a 10-day Master Cleanse diet, I knew I had to get started right away. This detox diet consists of drinking nothing but lemonade (fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper) all day.

It didn't sound too difficult as I usually drink coffee for breakfast and oatmeal for lunch anyway. This is not a starvation diet as the maple syrup provides the body with energy while the lemon juice supplies the necessary vitamins and potassium.

I'm already on my 7th day and the benefits are already showing. Here's my diary of the detoxification process:

Day 1 - I made a litre of lemonade (8 table spoons freshly squeezed juice, 8 table sppon Grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper) to last me throughout the day. It is recommended that you mix the lemonade just before drinking but I couldn't do it in the office. I was overly generous with the cayenne pepper (the potent Japanese type that best friend bought from Japan) and the drink became too spicy.

As the mixture wasn't too appetising, I had lots of leftover when I got home. It did feel strange to miss my morning coffee and afternoon tea. There were moments when I felt hungry, but that was quickly resolved with a few sips of lemonade.

YK texted to dissuade me from starting the diet. "It's dangerous!" he said. He threatened to tell my mum.

The day went by quickly. I didn't feel weak or listless and even managed to whip up a good dinner for the family.

Day 2 - The lemonade tasted better today with less cayenne pepper. But it was propably the most difficult day as I had a headache all day. Apparently this is a natural side effect, likely withdrawal symptoms from lack of coffee. The day before I started the diet, I had two cups of strong Italian coffee at Prego, so I was feeling the effects now.

I was hungry and feverish and almost wanted to give up. I went back early to rest and felt better in the evening. Maybe I wasn't in the mood, I made pasta for the kids which YK said tasted terrible. I went to bed early that night.

Day 3 - I went to work bright and early. The headache had completely disappeared and I had no more hunger pangs. My colleague asked about the flask of lemonade on my desk and we discussed about this topic for a while. As part of her yoga practice, she goes on a water cleanse diet (drink 2 litres of water in the morning and then throw it all up) which I felt was something I couldn't bring myself to do. "You can't imagine the gunk that comes out from the stomach each morning!", she exclaimed.

As part of the Master Cleanse diet, we're supposed to drink a saline solution first thing in the morning to cleanse the stomach. You would be running to the loo several times within the hour. I skipped this entire process altogether. It's too drastic.

By now, I wasn't feeling hungry anymore. Plus I was getting better at managing the diet. I drank several cups of water a day. I have never drank that much water in my life!

I could see my belly shrinking though the kids said I still looked the same. My movements have gone slower due to the lack of food. The lemonade diet provides about 650 calories a day.

Day 4 - This was supposed to be our Friday night out but I had to turn down an invitation to dinner. CH suggested going to the movies instead after his dinner.

On the way home from work, my car engine developed trouble. I was afraid it might break down on the highway, so I swung by the workshop and had to leave the car behind for a couple of days. It was pouring when I left. I couldn't get a taxi, so I took a bus home and had to take a 15-minute slow uphill walk to my house.

After all the running around, I was already feeling quite weak but we had a movie to go to. It was another agonising 15-minute walk to the train station. Let's just say I wasn't in the best mood. The good news was, I was already feeling slimmer and was wearing a recently discovered tight fit t-shirt which had been languishing in the wardrobe for years.

CH said he didn't notice any change in my figure which didn't do anything to help my already foul mood. Then he casually asked if I were going to participate in any marathons this year (because I told him I had pasted the entire list on my workdesk to keep me motivated).

"Are you being sarcastic?" I shot back.

Well, we went home immediately after the movie. By the time I conquered the hill, I was too weak to walk Rusty. CH kindly offered to walk him instead while I went to bed.

Day 5 - I called mum to tell her not to expect us for dinner. I can imagine being lectured if I were to turn up and not eat anything at the dinner table. My parents do not approve dieting of any kind. I have been on various kinds of diet since i was a teenager.

I didn't feel hungry all day. Saturday is reserved for doing housework, so despite feeling weak, I did my chores and rewarded myself with a cup of ice cold lemonade. I was envious that CH managed to go jogging in the morning.

I made a nice pasta dinner for the family and for once, began to feel resentful that I was cooking something that I couldn't eat.

Day 6 - I had lost quite alot of weight and my tummy was flat enough for the kids to take notice. Sunday, being marketing day, was quite a challenge. Lugging bags of fresh vegetables, seafood and meat up the hill proved to be more difficult in my weakened state. I walked really slowly like an old lady.

I usually bring Rusty out for a run on Sundays but this time, we could only manage a slow walk around the estate. I was dozing off while reading in bed when CH text to say he had just completed a 10km run. Envious as hell, I said "Good for you. I am sleeping." Than I made a face.

We went to visit my parents in the afternoon. YK told my mum I had not eaten in 6 days. Mum asked, "Are you on the Cambridge diet? No wonder you look haggard. You're hunching!"

After I had explained it was a detox diet, she said, "Maybe our maid should go on the diet too." You see, our maid is overweight, yet very vain.

After days of feeding the family crappy food, I made them a sumptuous dinner last night. The thought of eating proper food again made me happy.

Day 7 - Today is the 7th day and I feel good. I've done very well so far and am getting so used to this diet that I think I can go on for many more days. I have no yearning for coffee or food. I feel fine and energetic. My face is slimmer and I am wearing my 'skinny' dress with a belt.

I haven't had a chance to weigh myself so far but I reckon I must have lost about 3kg. I might stop at the 8th day as I have a dinner appointment on Friday. The body needs a few days to adjust before it can take solids again.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Good sign

There was a cute little fruit bat hanging outside my house last night. I'm not sure if my neighbours saw it but the guys in my house were delighted. Fruit bats have a furry face, they look almost puppy like.

I told CH it's a good omen because the sound for the word bat in Chinese, Fu, also represents happiness and fortune.

One should never take happiness for granted. I have seen enough miserable people to realise this. Talking about that, I am pleased that the lives of some friends are changing for the better.

The old lady whom I have blogged about here and here, has finally found a safe haven. Together with her daughter and husband, they are now living in a rental flat paid for by her son. They were so happy when I visited 2 weeks ago. They showed me around the flat, which is spartan but sparkling clean.

Naturally they were worried about living expenses but at least they are in a safe place. Now that the troubles are behind them, the daughter can look for a job and things will fall into place somehow. With their newfound freedom, they can receive guests at home without feeling worried or guilty. They've even invited me back for dinner one day. It's really a good sign.

Monday 14 February 2011

Time flies

The Chinese New Year celebrations are finally coming to an end. We managed to squeeze in some visits over the weekend. My god daughter came by to play with Rusty too.

I also spent time with some friends from the UK who were here to attend a wedding. The weather was perfect for a walk around Botanic Gardens.

I must say the Orchid Garden is pretty impressive!

Thursday 10 February 2011


I met an impossibly hostile man at the newspaper stand on Wednesday morning. He was buying the papers as Rusty and I walked towards the stand. He looked up suddenly and got a small fright.

We were standing at least 2.5 metres away from him. I kept Rusty tightly leashed and close by my side.

Being polite, I apologised even though there was no need to. He looked at us disapprovingly and shouted, waving his arms angrily at me. "Who says you can bring your dog to this place?"

I looked askance at him. "What have I done wrong?"

"This is a food place!" his voice raised a notch. "You want me to call the police?"

We were standing outside the food centre, not inside! The newspaper vendor tried to pacify him to no avail.

I was in a hurry and didn't want to get embroiled in an argument with him, so I walked away.

What is wrong with this idiot? If he's so smart, why don't he go after real criminals instead of harrassing innocent people like me?

He really ruined my morning. I was upset all day. To think that I was treated this way by a fellow Singaporean!

Recently my friends were lamenting about our sad state of affairs. Out of the 5 million people in Singapore, only about 2.2mil are true blue (born and bred) Singaporeans. We're becoming a minority in our own country! Blinkymummy says it very well here.

No wonder my kids come home from school telling me about how the trains are packed with foreigners and how their classmates hail from all over the world. Come to think of it, half the residents in our apartment block are non-Singaporeans.

While I have nothing against foreigners, the thought of us being outnumbered in our own homeland is quite scary.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

In a nutshell

How time flies. It's already Day 7 of the Chinese New Year. According to Chinese tradition, we celebrate the birthday of 'men' on this day.

Here in Singapore, we toss and eat 'yusheng', a raw fish and vegetable salad that signifies abundance, prosperity and vigour. I've had several sessions of yusheng already and the results are showing around the waist.

Chinese New Year is all about getting together with family and friends. As usual, we gathered at my parent's house for a sumptuous reunion dinner on the eve of the new year.

Day 1 - We made our way to our parent's house in the morning, bringing mandarin oranges and well wishes for my family.

Day 2 was spent at home resting, followed by a trip to Punggol Beach in the evening.

Day 3 was reserved for meeting up with old friends and distributing hong baos (lucky money) to their kids.

Day 4 was spent receiving guests (YK and SK's friends) at home. When the kids were younger, I used to bring them around to visit older relatives. Now the time has come for me to stay at home to welcome these young visitors. I can't help but feel like an old aunty!

After the 5-day break (and non-stop eating), I am quite happy to be back at work. We have a couple more visits to do this weekend before we round up the celebrations. Then it is time to work on the jelly belly!

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...