Sunday, 30 November 2008

Cooking spree

I took the afternoon off today even though my flight is a late night one. Guess what was the first thing I did when I got home? Cook!

I made a dry curry dish called Rendang using chicken instead of beef. It's probably my way of destressing but I like working or doing stuff knowing there's something bubbling away on the stove.

I used Prima Mix- the easiest way out on a busy work day. I use Prima Mix so much, they should start sending me free samples!

Soupy therapy

Last night, there was a recipe brewing in my head. To be exact, it was Jamie Oliver's chickpea and leek soup. I read the recipe before bedtime. It's one of his favourite comfort food for cold wintry nights.

The first thing I did when I woke up was head to the kitchen. I had already soaked some dried chick peas the night before. All I did was sweat some garlic and leek in olive oil, toss in potatoes, chickpeas, chicken chunks and add water. I chucked in (Jamie's favourite word) some bits of ham from making pizza yesterday and just let the soup boil. It's boiling now as I write.


Add water.


I've come to realise that cooking makes me feel accomplished. Some people paint or do yoga while other pursue their masters. Me? I simply chop up stuff in the kitchen and turn them into food. Doesn't matter if the food tastes good or not but that's my therapy.

Now that I have done my therapy for the day, I shall be heading to the office soon feeling so pleased with myself.

Big cookout

I spent alot of time in the kitchen today. I prepared boxes of cooked food so that the kids can simply heat up and eat while I am away. I panfried some teriyaki chicken steaks and made a batch of yong tau foo (meat parcels). I even boiled some chicken and pork to supplement Rusty's dried food diet.

Rusty's pack on the left and 6 boxes of yong tau foo on the right.

In the afternoon, I baked 5 pizza bases, added the toppings and popped them into the freezer so the kids can have Hawaiian pizza when the hunger pangs strike.

YK kept telling me not to worry about their meals. Of course, they can cook their own meals now or run to the food stall nearby but I just can't help it.

By the way, he made another pie this evening. An apple pie. That's what we're going to eat for dessert at my parent's place tonight.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Fish and pie

When I came home from work yesterday, two enthusiastic boys (YK and friend) greeted me in the kitchen and tried to ply me with their latest creation. Their previous attempt to bake an apple pie in our tiny toaster didn't work. Now that we have a proper oven, they got ambitious and baked a blueberry pie complete with a latticed top.

The pie was filled with loads of juicy and bursty blueberry. I liked the fruity filling and buttery crust. I think the boys are quite talented. They found the recipe online and commented that making the pie was a piece of cake. I'm impressed. Honestly I have never baked a pie in my life.

His friend stayed over last night. They got bored rather quickly, so they baked a chocolate cake late in the night. YK even garnished it with a sprig of mint from the garden and a slice of orange.

We can't possibly eat so much cake, so I made his friend bring some home today. After he left, we drove to Pasir Ris to visit some aquariums. While the boys were looking at marine fishes, I brought Rusty for a walk in area around the fish farm.

Marking his territory as usual.

Leading the way.

SK and Rusty. That's a boarding house for dogs across the fence.

The boys looking at fishes in the shop. They've always had a love for fishes and had visited fish farms since young. Looking at them now reminds me of those days when they were excited little kids.

Friday, 28 November 2008

New pets

If you still remember, I promised YK a marine tank at home. He had been longing for one for many months. Now that his exams are over, we finally went out to an aquarium all the way in West Coast to take that plunge.

The 3-ft tank finally arrived last weekend. Setting up the tank was a rather complicated process. It has an overflow system. The bottom cabinet houses the sump tank, protein skimmer, pump, additives, test kits and fish food. Don't ask me to go into details because I know nothing. This is YK's baby.

The tank was empty for several days. Then we added in 30kgs of live rocks and waited for few more days before putting in the sea creatures. We wanted to 'test water' first, so we put in the more hardy varieties like the clown fish and cardinal. SK wanted a hermit crab (cos they're so cute), so we bought a tiny one for him. YK's in love with the copperband butterfly which is quite a delicate fish to keep, so we started with one.

We bought a shrimp too (to clean the tank) but it didn't survive the night. The rest of the fishes are doing very well.

When I started reading about keeping marine fishes, this was what I found:
word of warning: starting and keeping a marine tank cause a serious change in human behavioural patterns - looking dreamy eyed at your tank for hours on end; phoning your loved ones (or anyone!) in the middle of the night to tell them about a new polyp, worm, glowing thingy about 1mm long, ... which you have just discovered; not buying new clothes, furniture etc. because your tank REALLY needs that new light, filter, ROCK, etc.... Oh well, maybe you won't get hooked so badly.

I can see it happening already, not with me but the boys. They sit in front of the tank for hours, spotting polyps and little thingy in the rocks, and insist I must come look at their discoveries.

Last night, they were dreamy eyed and so in love with the adorable pair of clown fishes. I think Rusty is no longer the blue-eyed boy in the house.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Falling apart

We're still reeling over the shocking Mumbai attacks that killed hundreds of innocent people. I often have romanticised visions of traveling across India on rail. Sadly the lure and charm of Bollywood could be tarnished from now on.

What about Thailand, the land of friendly smiles? There's chaos in Bangkok right now with protestors stomping over the international airports, forcing air traffic to ground to a halt. My brother and his family's holiday plans to Chiang Mai is no longer possible. I can imagine the kids' disappointment.

Last year, we cancelled our booking to Turkey after the bomb attack in Istanbul and lost a big chunk of money because we couldn't get a refund. One year, just as we were planning our vacation in Bali, there were three bomb attacks in the popular tourist areas. Till now, we have not been there.

The world is falling apart and reading about these things really sends a chill down the spine.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Hole in the pocket

I should have studied harder and become a dentist. I am $315 poorer after visiting the dentist today. Due to over zealous brushing, I have a bad case of toothbrush abrasion. The dentist had to restore not one but several teeth. Compared to mum's dental treatment which runs into 5 figures, $315 is peanuts. Still, that amount of money for 15 minutes of work in a little shophouse sounds like a good job to me.

Or I should have been a vet. Rusty's recent treatment cost almost $300. Each visit to the vet would set me back by several hundred dollars and there's always a line at the vet.

At the hospital yesterday, mum's doctor was unusually busy. We waited for almost an hour and barely spent 10 minutes with him. He had another 10 patients waiting to see him in the next hour. The nurse explained that the surge was due to the fact that most doctors are going away for vacation in December.

If I am earning like the doctors, I can afford to go on a long vacation too.

Million Dollar smile!

That's me in the million dollar cellar. If you have one like this, you would be smiling like me too! It's a study, probably the size of my master bedroom, converted into a dark and chilly cellar. The labels in the vast collection are impressive, and some bottles are huge! I have never seen such huge champagne or wine bottles in my life. Thanks Amy, for the tour!

Ok now, back to reality. I have a dental appointment this morning. Nothing serious, just a half yearly checkup. I need a good set of teeth so that I can continue to flash that dazzling smile. Who knows I could be sitting in a million dollar limousine tomorrow? Dream on Blur Ting!

Quickie meal

I came home late and decided to make a quick dinner using the fastest way I know how. I quickly marinated some chicken wings with tomato sauce, soy sauce, sugar, salt and some herbs and chucked the tray into the oven while I prepare the ingredients for an Asian style paella.

Here are the marinated wings.

The cooked version below. I was trying to achieve the sweet and spicy wings sold at Pizza Hut and this is a pretty good version. I love it!

For the mixed rice dish, I stir-fried some shallots, vegetables and seafood in the pan before tossing everything into the rice cooker.

Into the rice cooker below.

We were tucking into a delicious and hot dinner 20 minutes later. Yummy!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The day so far

Mum had her regular hospital appointment this morning. She wasn't feeling so well today. Her head was spinning so much but we still went ahead with the appointment. As usual, the doctor could only prescribe more medication and suggested she sees a ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor about her dizziness. I guess mum's not keen to see any more doctors. She has another dental appointment tomorrow morning. Her life already revolves around doctors.

The morning immediately became brighter with the arrival of Amy. She met us at the hospital so she could visit our orchid garden to select some flowers for her family's Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

An orchid lover, she enjoyed herself thoroughly at the farm. We went round harvesting flowers in colours that matched the Thanksgiving theme. We even drove to our neighbour's farm to buy some orange and yellow ones. Though she claims that she knows nothing about growing orchids, she knows all the orchid growers in Singapore because of her previous involvement in the Singapore garden shows.

We dropped the flowers off at her brother's sprawling estate where the party will be held. It was already buzzing with activity. The caterers were delivering stuff and workers were busy setting up tentage in the garden. The most exciting part was taking a peek at his $3 million cellar. Good thing I'm not a wine connoisseur or I would never leave the cellar!

Home made pizza

I think my little pizza experiment must be quite successful because everything was gobbled up before I could pack them away in the freezer.

Two cups of flour could only make 4 small pizzas afterall, so my next attempt will call for alot more flour. I used plain flour, dried yeast, pinch of salt, sugar, olive oil and oregano for the base.

The boys were very enthusiastic with the toppings, piling fresh button mushroom, pineapple chunks, shredded ham and mozzarella cheese generously on top.

We could only make one pizza at a time. So we used two trays.

I'm not really a big fan of pizza but according to the boys, these were good. Better than the ones from Pizza Hut! Flattering mum is the way to go if they want more pizzas in future!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Ku Zhong Zuo Le 苦中作樂

I was chatting with my friend this morning. We were moaning about depressed sales yet chuckling over her company's incredulous demands, urging her to sell more machines. FYI, these are wafer fabrication machines averaging US$10 million a piece. She says it is easier to make her walk on burning coals than close any sales. "Try harder. Go visit your customers." her boss pressed on.

In times like this when her semi-conductor customers are reducing production capacity, retrenching people and worrying about their finances, they can only tell her to "Come and stir coffee with us."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I tell her it is probably more exciting swatting flies than coming to work lately. In good times, opportunities abound. There were many streams of income. During the frenzied days of trading, I couldn't wait to tally up my sales for the month to gauge our performance. I even told myself I could take a break when we hit our annual sales target. In reality, now that we have all the time in the world, what we really want to do is work.

Yesterday, I learned a new Chinese phrase 苦中作樂 'ku zhong zuo le' which means making merry in bitterness. I have heard of people being laid off or waiting to be made redundant but we can't be wallowing in self pity all day long. Might as well make merry within our means.

The government is urging companies to send the employees for training during the lull. Better to stay busy and feel accomplished. I'm planning to knead dough tonight and fill the freezer with lots of pizza. Better make sure the kids don't go hungry while I make merry.

Quick brown cat

As we were walking Rusty outside the apartment, YK spotted a cat sleeping above the vending machine. As we approached with doggie in tow, it made a quick escape.

This brings to mind the pangram "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". We grew up very familiar with this sentence that contains all of the letters of the alphabet. As far back as my mum's era, it has been used to test typewriters and in other applications involving all of the letters in the English alphabet, because it is also a short coherent sentence.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Rusty's parole

I was so mad with Rusty last night, I wanted to leave him behind at the farm.

We went back for dinner at my parent's home. It was raining and the yard was muddy and wet. We kept Rusty indoors the whole night. He sat by the door, anxiously waiting to be let out. My heart went soft. Maybe he can go out for a little while, just to pee, I thought.

Despite the kids' protest, I let him out unleashed and followed behind. He bolted out and disappeared into the dark and muddy garden, together with Cookie and that black stray that often lead him astray. The garden is so huge, with rows and rows of orchids, there was no way we could go after him.

So we stayed along the side, calling out to him. We could hear them stomping through mud but he refused to heed our calls. Cookie, the more obedient one, surfaced several times to greet us before slinking back into the garden again. After a long time, Rusty ran out, showed himself and disappeared again.

It was frustrating. We shouted until we turned hoarse and decided to leave without him. At one stage, I even pretended to drive away, hoping that he would run after us but that trick didn't work.

We decided to leave with a heavy heart. His wounds are still abit raw and we were worried about infection or he might get into another fight. I told mum to bathe him and keep him indoors when he returns so that I could go pick him up on Monday morning.

I was angry with Rusty but the kids say we cannot blame him. He's a dog afterall. I should have known better. But a dog needs his friends too, I argued. CH thinks the farm must be like his parole.

As we were driving towards the gate, we saw him running around with the two dogs. SK opened the car door and he jumped right in, covered in mud. Cookie looked at us leaving with sad longing eyes. For the first time, I really felt sorry for Cookie. He had lost Russell, now even his best playmate Rusty is going away.

Sweet Cookie.

Weather woes

Living in the tropics, we're often at the weather's mercy. Yesterday afternoon, my brother's family came to visit in the afternoon. The weather was perfectly fine when we went downstairs for a stroll. Suddenly without any warning, the rain started pouring in buckets, we were all drenched within minutes. There was no time to dash to the shelter. Their jeans and t-shirts were soaked. At least I could change into dry clothes almost immediately whereas they had to endure the drive home. I hope none of them caught a cold.

I spent the rest of the afternoon packing for my trip. I can't believe how I'm trying to squeeze a week's clothing into a small backpack (below). Well meaning friends have been advising me to bring enough winter clothes but I'm traveling light this time.

I have a connecting flight in Heathrow, London. When I arrive in Hamburg, I have to rush to the hotel, leave my stuff and head to the convention. I don't want to stand at the baggage belt waiting for hours.

I remember that year the kids and I landed in Munich to find that our luggage were still stuck in Paris. The weather was -17 degree C. Thank goodness the kids were quite adequately dressed but I had left my winter coat in the baggage. We braved the cold and went to the city centre, trudging through a thick layer of snow and ended up spending a bomb on winter clothes. Because our baggage arrived at the hotel barely 24 hours later, we couldn't claim for delayed baggage allowance. Oh well. I have learned my lesson about connecting flights.

In France last year, we waited for our baggage to appear from the archaic baggage belt for more than an hour! If you're not traveling first class or priority, your baggage gets herded around like a flock of sheep that may sometimes stray or get lost.

So, with all these lessons in mind, I am going to hand carry this time so that I can grab a cab the moment I clear immigration. I don't like lugging a cabin bag with wheels as I will be traveling about UK on a train. It's going to be a small backpack this time. Trouble is, I wonder how I can fit everything in. And with every passing day, I find new things to bring.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Mee for lunch

I cooked Hokkien fried mee again for lunch. The first time I tried it was last weekend, after reading about it on CH's niece's blog. She's working in Las Vegas now and missed this dish so much, she tried cooking it recently. Though it is widely sold in Malaysia, I hardly ever see it at the stalls in Singapore. In actual fact, I can't remember having eaten it before.

Anyhow, using my cooking instincts, I fried up some shallots and yellow noodles, added in fish balls, lean meat, cuttlefish, sliced garoupa fish and lots of chive and kangkong vegetable. I seasoned with dark soya sauce and pepper and dished out a plate for everyone. The boys loved it! Me too.

Viva la Vida

It suddenly occured to me that I haven't really partied or let my hair down for so long now. I can understand that for the longest time, there was marriage, the kids, divorce and moving on etc getting in the way but nothing's stopping me now.

I cancelled a tea party this afternoon simply because I didn't feel like going and denied an invitation to dinner with some friends because I didn't want mum to be disappointed if we don't turn up tonight. So who's to blame? Nobody else but me. I think I'm too practical and responsible, sometimes to the point of being uptight. Yet, why do I feel a tinge of envy when I see people having a blast without me.

Even on my outings, I'm always in a hurry to go home like Cinderella, not that I have a curfew or I'm shackled to duties and demanding kids at home. Funny thing is I am only carefree when I'm away from home.

I remember carefree days spent cruising around on a motorbike in the countryside, bar flying in San Francisco, winter nights by the fireside, tasting wine and bruschettas in Florence, riding through vineyards in France, sunbathing on sandy beaches, spa baths in Mendocino and sipping pina colada by the pool in Las Vegas.

When I'm back home, I turn into a no-nonsense mother and businesswoman. I want to be that perfect person. I try to be there for everyone and I forget to let my hair down.

Maybe next week, when I'm traveling in Hamburg and UK, I can live a little again. Just for that week.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Man vs Pet

I am preparing to bring Rusty to the vet for destitching. Before I leave, I have to clear my emails, shower and change into something proper and dab on some powder and lipgloss too so that I don't look too shabby. Oh, since the weather is so good, I might as well sun the carpet and do the laundry first. While I am busying myself with the chores, Rusty is sleeping on the rug in front of the fan.

While hanging the clothes out to dry, I hear my neighbour cooing to his little infant. Funny how grown man can turn into mush when they speak to their little babies. The lady upstairs is scolding her kid. I'm guessing her kid must be quite young because we don't scold our teenagers anymore. We talk to them or sometimes, when talking doesn't work, they argue back.

Ok, I'm ready to go. I bring my purse, Rusty's appointment card and car keys. All Rusty needs to do is walk out the door, without any clothes, lip gloss or backpack. Lucky dog!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

New oven

Now that we have an oven, I cooked roast chicken and potatoes seasoned with rosemary for dinner last night. Before that, I popped in a small Hawaiian pizza topped with extra Parmesan cheese for YK. Late last night, the kids were cooking another pizza while I was dozing off in bed. I could smell it from the bedroom.

I should start making muffins, pies, pastries, garlic bread and cookies too. Oh, the possibilities are endless. I just have to start the ball rolling. Then again, I don't want to put back the 2kgs I have lost.

Friday ramblings

I went for my flu jab yesterday and was happy to discover that I had lost 2kgs when I stepped on the weighing scale. At this age, any weight loss calls for a celebration.

I'm not sure if it is due to my pumpkin and sweet potato diet (for breakfast and lunch) or from doing housework, walking Rusty or running less. I find that my leg muscles bulk up really quickly when I run alot, so that muscle loss theory is very likely. Whatever it is, I like it when my pants and skirts start to swivel round my waist.

I'm also a strong advocate of flu vaccinations. Before I got my yearly shot, I was often sick. A bad case of flu would leave me feeling like an invalid for days. By spending $30 for a flu shot, it saves me hundreds of dollars in medical bills. But I haven't convinced my kids to get theirs yet. However, they're young with good immunity, so they're not so vulnerable.

I can hardly believe a week has gone. We attended our friend's wedding last friday but it didn't seem like it has been a week yet. Now that the kids are on holiday, I begin to lose track of the days and time. We don't get up at the crack of dawn anymore. When I leave for work, they are still in bed. YK is into his 6th day of the holidays and he's already complaining of boredom. In fact, all his friend are shouting they're bored and are looking for a vacation job.

YK hopes to find a job in a laboratory so that he could mix all kinds of chemicals. I doubt they would let a 16-year-old handle anything potentially dangerous. Still, I hope he finds something interesting for the next few months. It's a tough job market and many companies are retrenching. Yesterday a teenage boy walked into our office hawking perfume, a brand I had not heard of. When we turned him down, I could hear him sigh as he walked out the door. It's a tough job and I felt sorry for him.

The COE prices has dropped to a record low of $2. To curb the car population in Singapore, anyone wishing to buy a car or motorcycle has to bid for a 10 year Certificate of Entitlement (COE). The COE is therefore a barometer of how strong the economy is. During the boom, people bid up to S$50k for the COE. With that amount of money, you can actually buy a decent car. When I bought my car, I paid almost $20k for the COE. Mind you, that just gives you the certificate to own a car! Now that COE is at an all-time low, it just shows how cautious people are.

Enough ramblings for the day. It's time for me to get back to work. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Walking Lil Rusty

Rusty and I just came back from our morning walk. He has settled down comfortably here and is eating well. I always walk him after his morning feed, just before I leave for work. He really looks forward to that and would sit by the door waiting for me to bring out the leash.

Something terrible happened to him last week at the farm. One moment he was eating in the kitchen, the next moment mum found him lying on the porch with wounds all over his body. Apparently he had ran out the gate to join in a dog fight. The neighbourhood puppies that he used to play with are all grown up now and tower over him.

Rusty behaves like Napoleon sometimes. He forgets he's a tiny dog and has a big ego. There must be at least 10 dogs involved and Rusty limped home with a deep gash on his neck and marks all over his body.

He was sent to the vet for treatment immediately and came home 2 days later with stitches and antibiotics. It was then we decided he had to leave the farm for good and come stay with us.

He's fine now. The wounds have healed and he's scheduled for destitching this weekend.

There was another tragedy. Our other mongrel Russell, who was a stray who came and stayed with us about 5 years ago, was found dead at the garage last week. We're not sure if he died of illness or was hit by a truck that came in to deliver goods. Poor Russell. He was never that close to us and Rusty used to bully him but still, we couldn't help but feel sad.


Remember the bulky banana chair I bought for my bedroom? For months, we thought it was too big to fit into my room, so it stayed in the living room looking miserably out of place.

This morning, we decided to try moving it through the narrow hallway again and funny thing was, we could roll it sideways like a ball into my bedroom. I swear we had tried the same way before and it got stuck along the hallway. It must have shrunk!

I'm glad it is finally in my room. Of course I had to re-adjust my furniture to fit this in but oh, I can finally sit and read comfortably instead of sprawling on my bed.

Remember the Belvedere Vodka bottle I bought from the flea market?

In case you're wondering, it's now a lamp which sits on my study table. Isn't it gorgeous? The Evian bottle on its right is a limited edition designed by Christian Lacroix. I was completely charmed by the pretty lace design when I first laid eyes on it. Now I am the proud owner of one bottle!

The square frosted glass on the left is from Ikea Lighting Centre. I used the bulb and lighting element on the Vodka lamp, so all that's left now is a vase with a hole at the bottom. I placed a pretty green Umeya Plum Liquor bottle inside to serve as a vase. The red rose is a gift from CH on our last date. :-)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Maybe I had too much wine during dinner because I had an unpleasant dream last night. SK and I were on an old rickety bus heading to town, traveling via a scenic route. I ended up in a classroom with my old schoolmates. SK must have gone somewhere else.

Tension was broiling inside the classroom. My friends were avoiding me. When I confronted them, they said I have changed and grown complacent, arrogant and boastful about my success. Outside the window, ominous dark clouds were forming. A hurricane was brewing. Trees were uprooted and tossed about. Things were flying in the air. I was filled with anguish and worried sick about SK, yet trying to defend myself and convince my friends I haven't changed a bit.

I was desperately looking out for SK when I saw a group of people coming in for shelter. Maybe my son came back...but there was no ending or I had simply forgotten.

I'm not going to analyse my dream but clearly, it conveys my fear of losing my friends and loved ones.

This morning I was reading about Her Excellency Thongvanh Siphandone of Laos and gleaned some wisdom along the way. "To understand your weaknesses is to understand your strengths", she said. She experienced some of the most tumultuous periods during the Indochina war when Laos was subjected to the heaviest bombing in the history of warfare. She lost many many friends.

While the memories remain lucid, the war torn history is a thing of the past. Today she works tirelessly for the projects installed by the Lao Women's Union, a ministry that works towards the betterment of women's conditions in Laos, often visiting farming families in the countryside to give encouragement.

Her other passion is cooking. In Laos, all the genteel womenfolk can cook. It is a skill ingrained in them from childhood and has as its roots a love for family life and tradition. She started helping out in the kitchen as a six year old. "Cook with love," she advises. "Or there will be no flavour at all."

I think my dinner last night was quite a success because it was cooked with love. On workdays, I rely alot on prepackaged sauce. The Korean spicy stew was made using a soup base from the Korean supermarket. The dish was a melting pot of Asian products from Japanese miso paste to Chinese lettuce, Taiwanese Inoki mushroom, Indonesian pork and minced chicken. I also followed my Korean friend's advice of using starchy Japanese rice water for the soup.

We had panfried chicken steaks and salmon fillets seasoned with HP sauce and Teriyaki sauce. I cooked Mapo tofu (minced meat, button mushroom and beancurd) using a packaged mapo sauce. For some reason, the dish had a strong Jasmine tea scent. Must be something in the sauce. The last dish was stirfried cuttlefish with chive and spring onions.

For dessert, we had pineapple tarts EE bought in Taiwan, watermelon and rockmelon. Lots of wine too.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Mr Blue Hair

When the exams were over, YK went to the salon to colour parts of his hair blue for graduation night. His friend chose purple! The school doesn't allow them to colour their hair but now that they've graduated, they're colouring for the first time.

Mr Blue Hair had a blast at the party last night and came home with a DVD player that he won at the lucky draw. He was also given an award for his contribution as a peer leader in school. Being a sentimental guy, I'm sure he'll miss his friends as the camaraderie in an all-boys school like his is very strong.

He came home at 2am and went to my room excitedly to show me his haul. I was too sleepy, so I said I'll look at them carefully in the morning. Before I left for work, I looked at the badges, school magazine and DVD player and wrote a short note to congratulate him.

Well, how time flies. My kid has reached another milestone.

Catching up

My good friend, EE the jet setter, is on leave for two weeks. Finally, she had time to catch up over coffee without fiddling with her Blackberry or rushing home for yet another conference call. We met for lunch and what a long one it was!

We chatted and chuckled for 5 whole hours, over glasses of wine (for her) and cups of coffee and hot chocolate (for me), about everything from work and exercise to dogs and kids. We gushed about her adorable daughter (who is my god-daughter) and even shed a tear or two together when we touched on filial piety and our aging parents. In fact, we have so much more to talk about, she's coming over to my place for dinner and drinks tomorrow.

It's funny how we can simply click and never run out of things to say with some people. I met her several years ago in Los Angeles at an industry event and we became fast friends. From her stints in Shanghai to New York to San Francisco and now back in Singapore, we've never lost touch and are now closer than ever.

She reveals that this is a much needed break from her hectic traveling schedule and hopes to spend more quality time with her mother and daughter in future. This is probably the biggest dilemma every parent face in today's world - finding the right balance between work and family.

I am looking forward to having her over tomorrow night. She's going to bring a few bottles of wine. I think we will drink ourselves silly.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

A good run

I can hardly believe it has been a year since we did our first practice run with Runner's Day. Last year, when we were truly infatuated with running, we signed up for several half marathons in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and that practice run was our first 21k.

At last year's practice run.

We went for another practice run yesterday organised by Runner's Day to prepare runners for the Singapore Marathon in early December. Though we are not participating in the marathon this year, we went for the practice anyway. Due to the lack of training, we did the 10k run this time.

We arrived early to secure a parking lot and hung around the beach while waiting for the other runners to arrive, craning our neck to look for my blogging pal, Water.

CH spotted a tall and slim lady in the distance who bore some resemblance but wasn't too sure. After gawking for a while, I went up to her. When she broke into her trademark smile, we knew we had found her.

We had missed her at several running events this year and finally, we were standing before her, chatting like old friends! She turned out to be really friendly, confident and inspiring. We ran together for the first 10km and she went on to finish another 10km. She's indeed a good runner.

Water is the second blogger pal I have met in person, the first being Amel who visited Singapore recently. I'll be meeting Flying Pink Elephants in London next month and I can't wait! Isn't it amazing? Who would have thought all this was possible 10 years ago!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Funfilled Friday

I ate my way through Friday. The dim sum lunch was lovely and grandma was so happy to meet the boys, she was dressed in her colourful best. We ordered peking duck and many steaming hot bamboo trays of dumplings, rice rolls and savoury pastries.
Group photo at the restaurant with the kids' grandma and aunt.

CH and I met in the evening and we decided to go for ice cream at Swensens since we had plenty of time to spare. At a typical wedding dinner, the food will only be served at 8.30pm and we didn't want to end up with a growling tummy. We shared the Banana crumble which came on a sizzling skillet with caramelized fresh banana slices, vanilla ice cream and a drench of butterscotch cream sauce. It was YUMMY!

Dinner was also very enjoyable. The couple looked gorgeous, dressed in their finery. It was a huge gathering of friends, colleagues and relatives, all bent on sharing the joyous moments with the newly wedded couple. Both the bride and groom are photographers, so they had many photographer friends showing support with their big shooting equipment. Even their friends, the award winning Tang Quartet, played the lively number "When I'm 64" by the Beatles at the reception.

The lovely couple.

And their friends.

Our friend's adorable baby stole the limelight the entire night. She's such a little bundle of energy, her parents were chasing her around the hall throughout dinner!

Trying to wriggle out of my arms.

Her parents had to resort to all kinds of tricks just to keep her quiet for one minute! Oh, but isn't she a cutie?.