Sunday, 31 January 2010
We enjoyed the opera despite overhearing a group of students behind us complaining, "It's so freaking boring!" Three people sitting next to CH disappeared after the first interval. They brought their body warmth with them because the theatre got progressively colder after that.
As much as we enjoyed the performance, it was a relief when we finally walked out of the theatre after 2.5 hours. I was starving by then, so we stopped by Glutton's Corner for a plate of char kway teow (fried noodles) and hot teh tarik (milk tea).
It was close to midnight by the time we got home and I promptly fell asleep after that.
I woke up on Sunday morning to find Rusty's vomit on the shaggy rug. Fedup of the disgusting condition the rug was in, I made a hasty decision to wash it, hoping that the weather would stay sunny all day.
The super shaggy rug was soon soaked in so much soapy water, it must have weighed a ton. I worked up such a sweat scrubbing the thick woollen pile. Finally I rinsed with a fragrant fabric softener before dragging it to the sunniest part of the patio. Flipping a wet rug was such a mammoth task!
Needless to say, I spent all day watching the weather like a hawk. Even after an entire day under the hot sun, some areas of the rug did not dry completely.
My advice is don't try this at home. A stunt like this would not only make the manufacturer howl in despair, the rug may end up smelling like a drenched rat if you don't dry it properly. It may even end up in the trash.
Thank goodness my rug smells and feels so nice and woolly now. I'm sure Rusty shares the same sentiment. With him around, I'm not sure how long it will stay this way.
Thursday, 28 January 2010
The morning tea session with the ladies was so nice, we should make it a regular affair. 4 women, 3 cakes, 2 bottles of apple cider and 1 beautiful house. How can we not have fun?
Knowing that we'll have plenty to eat, Petunia, OKC and I arrived at Leah's place with an empty tummy. The talented OKC even found time to bake a blueberry/cherry galette in the morning.
I felt like I've entered my dream house. It has everything I have always wanted - a spacious and airy kitchen, an outdoor cooking and dining area, a gorgeous airwell and a lush garden. As we sat laughing and munching, I couldn't help but gush at the loveliness of it all.
It's almost like a scene out of Desperate Housewives except that we're nowhere close to desperate. Nor do we have any skeletons in our closets. We're just a bunch of ladies who've met through the blog and became friends. It's strange how we bonded so quickly and easily the moment we met. We never run out of things to talk about. Even with our diverse backgrounds, there is never an awkward moment. Instead, we happily share our knowledge on shopping, cooking, gardening and mothering.
It makes me rethink about friendship. Well, I used to think that we stop making good friends as we get older but that is simply rubbish. Some of my new found friends have become really great pals. This goes to show that we will always be forging meaningful friendships as long as we're alive.
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
I have something else to rejoice about too. CH is treating me to La bohème, an opera by Giamoco Puccini tomorrow! When I told him how I've enjoyed the opera Madama Butterfly when I visited Lucca, the town that Puccini grew up in, he saved that bit of trivia in his memory bank.
Puccini's statue in Lucca.
So when he heard that La bohème will be staged in Singapore, he quickly went out and got a pair of tickets. I'm not sure if he likes opera but he knows I do. He is sweet like that!
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
I rolled up my sleeves and was prepared to camp out at the packing station for several days. Thankfully, we have a good system in place, I managed to complete the job in less than a day. It has been years since I've worked under such pressure.
When I was in the design consultancy, we were rushing against time everyday. Every project had a deadline and my life revolved around a 'to-do list'. It was mentally-stimulating and exciting, there was no time to sit and stare. Clients expected me to conjure ideas instantly even though I wasn't trained in design. Some of our designers became temperamental under pressure, so flare-ups were common too. Needless to say, life was stressful then.
I only began to discover life outside of work after I left the creative circle. Slowly, the to-do list disappeared and I was no longer at the client's beck and call. I wasn't chained to my desk, I could travel at a moment's notice and still conduct my business from anywhere in the world. It was liberating.
If there is one thing I miss, then it must be the adrenalin rush. Without the brainstorming sessions and creative ideas coursing through my veins, I can feel my brain cells dying very quickly.
Yet, I must admit that over time, I have grown too accustomed to this relaxed lifestyle, I doubt I can ever survive in the corporate jungle again.
Sunday, 24 January 2010
The East Coast Park was still dark when we arrived at 6.30am. There were some early birds, I mean dogs, like us too.
By the time 7am rolled around, the entire area was filled with dogs of all kinds. Doggies were busy peeing or sniffing each other's butt. Rusty was totally distracted as expected. I must say Jack Russells are inquisitive and sprightly. They like barking at other dogs. Needless to say, they're not exactly the most well-disciplined when it comes to social gatherings. Most, including Rusty, had to be restrained by the owners at the start-line.
When the whistle went off, the bigger dogs like labradors led the pack, leaving smaller ones trailing behind. As if straggling behind wasn't bad enough, Rusty was straying off to pee on a whim or checking out some sweet young things.
CH and Rusty making friends with a cocker spaniel.
Rusty only became more focused during the second half of the 3km run. Maybe he was tired or simply tired of all the distractions, he kept going until we reached the finish line, clocking in at 32 minutes.
In case you're wondering, the champion dog's timing was 16 minutes! Well, it's a big and strong dog.
The runner up - a Labrador.
I'm proud that Rusty, with the little legs, completed the run without any help. Here he is, with his first race medal!
Thursday, 21 January 2010
And why is EY visiting Chris in Singapore? They have been married for four years already but she is still living in Seoul. They visit each other very often and their relationship is fantastic; better than many married couples who are living together.
I think it's a great arrangement. It's like a honeymoon everytime they meet. Because they're not living under the same roof, they don't get on each other's nerves. Instead they cherish every minute they have together. They go on little retreats and do fun things that dating couples do. Then she flies off and each will focus on work and enjoy their personal space until they meet again.
All that will soon change when their new apartment is ready. She will probably move here for good and they'll live together like most couples do. I wonder if we'll still go out on double-dates like before...
Anyway, we went double-dating last night. First we had dinner at East Coast Food Centre. Then we strolled along the beach and stopped by the cable-ski place to watch people ski. And we had coffee and milkshake. It was nice.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
I arrived at my parent's place early this morning to do some packing for the gardening business. Cookie rushed to greet me the moment I stepped out of my car, wagging his tail vigorously as he nuzzled my hand.
My nieces came prancing out the door. They looked genuinely pleased to see me.
As I settled down to work in the garage, mum came and sat beside me, chatting about everything and nothing in particular. The words flew over my head mostly but just having her beside me was very comforting. I haven't had this feeling in a long time, especially after moving out.
Now I understand why my kids like having me around at home. They don't care if I am out pottering about in the garden or reading in my room but they're happy knowing that I am near them.
This intangible thing is what we call family warmth, it's something that many people take for granted. Sadly, most people only realise how precious it is after they have lost it.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
"15 minutes is all you need! And you can do it in the comfort of your home."
Weight training, not cardiovascular training, is what shapes and sculpts your muscles. If you increase your lean body mass, you increase your metabolic rate. And the faster your metabolism is, the more fat you'll burn all day long - even while you're sleeping!
Ok, ok. I'm convinced. He makes resistance training sound so much easier than jogging round the neighbourhood, plus he has the muscles to show for it, so I have no reason to doubt him.
The training began at 5pm yesterday. I figured by the time I finish 4 sets and 10 reps (yah, exercise jargon), I should be ready to make dinner. What good timing.
So, with Men's Health magazine spread out before me and a 4kg dumbbell in my hands, I was eager to begin. The instructions are clear but soon my thighs were burning from the squats. I had to lift the dumbbell and twist my body this way and that, I was huffing and puffing like crazy. Not only that, my exercise shorts were not stretchy enough, it kept hindering my movements.
In less than five minutes, my muscles were screaming for help. I laid on my bed and promptly fell asleep to wake up 15 minutes later feeling sore all over. I put everything away and waddled to the kitchen.
Of course, CH was eager to know how my first session went. Well, I confessed that it was very tough for me and that I fell asleep.
"Tough? And you were using 3kg dumbbell?"
Mind you, my dumbbell is 4kg! Then again, it is nothing compared to what he uses (30kg). I would probably collapse under that weight anyway and that would be the last you see of me.
I must not give up so easily just because my muscles are a little sore. DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) occurs 12-48 hours after exercise, particularly at the beginning of a new exercise program or after a dramatic increase in the duration or intensity of exercise.
This muscle pain is a normal response to unusual exertion and is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build hypertrophy.
Yah, yah... spare me the jargon, I just want to lose my spare tyre! And don't tell me to go for lipo!
Monday, 18 January 2010
Today I watched YK walk out the door dressed in his best for a presentation in school. He looked like a young working executive in a long sleeve shirt and black leather shoes. I was like his boss standing next to him.
While we were having breakfast at McDonalds, I couldn't help but marvel at how quickly the kids have grown. In no time, they will be bringing home the bacon and I can go into semi-retirement.
One question I keep asking myself is, "Do I feel old?" Well, I don't! When I was younger, I thought I would behave differently when I get to this age but the truth is, one doesn't change very much. If you had always enjoyed dancing in your youth, chances are you would still love dancing in your golden years.
The adventurous type would still crave for adventure at any age. As long as I am still capable, I would love to go hiking in Sicily or bike through the French countryside during summer. I want to do all those things that I couldn't find time to do in my youth.
So if you've ever wondered what it's like to be old, you can stop wondering. Like for me, apart from the crinkly skin and creaking bones, nothing much has really changed. I'm still the same old me.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
Maybe that explains why I was feeling lethargic yesterday. I thought I had simply eaten too much the day before at Fry's housewarming party. Or could it be too much exposure to the sun? See, I spent the morning in the sunny patio painting my old garden furniture. I've given it a new lease of life.
By evening, my head was aching, so I stayed home and watched a couple of chick flicks.
Talking about chick flicks, I made CH sit through "It's Complicated" at the cinema on Friday night. He prefers action and horror movies, so he was just being indulgent of course. By coincidence, the last 2 movies that we watched together featured Meryl Streep as the leading actress.
On hindsight, "It's Complicated" must have been a scary movie for him to watch because in it, Jane (Meryl Streep) had an affair with her ex-husband after a decade of divorce. That, to me, is very scary too. Until now, I can't even conduct a conversation with the ex without starting a fight. I think an ex should not be seen or heard unless very necessary or else life will get very complicated.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Monday, 11 January 2010
After returning from a quick errand yesterday, I found a parking ticket stuck to my windscreen. The officer was nearby, so I marched up to him and asked why I was given a ticket despite displaying parking coupons.
"You had parked in the wrong direction", the poker-faced guy said before walking away.
Come on officer, give me a break! I had parked in a proper lot but you are giving me a $50 summon for parking in the wrong direction? For a start, Telok Ayer is a very busy and narrow road. I was overjoyed to find a space when I arrived. To avoid obstructing others, I quickly pulled into the lot without further thinking.
Anyone who had driven along that street outside Amoy Food Centre would know that it is not that easy to make a 3-point turn without causing even more traffic obstruction. It's a small 2-way street flanked by cars on both sides. There are always people waiting to park or making deliveries to the food centre nearby.
Anyway to cut the story short, I am just miffed that I was slapped with a summon for breaking a law that most people didn't even know exist. In situations like this, I think the officer should exercise some flexibility since I'm not causing any hindrance to other drivers.
I have a good driving record and I always display coupons, so I couldn't believe my eyes when I received a $30 parking ticket recently.
It was unfortunate that my parking coupon had slid off the dashboard and landed on the floor, so I wrote in to appeal and it was rejected. They said it is my duty to check that the coupon is properly displayed before I leave the car. Too bad. I paid up.
But I'm not giving up on this new one. I don't expect any sympathy but I'm still going to try. $50 can buy me alot of coupons you know.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
According to his father Mr Vincent Tan, the son is a smart chap who had simply lost the motivation to study. Naturally, after the letter was published, people rushed in to comment. While some were sympathetic, there were others who are downright cruel.
I, for one, do not like to comment unless I know the scenario very well. Obviously what we have seen is a letter from a parent pleading for a second chance. We do not know what problems the son had encountered or even caused in school. Logically, he would have been counselled by the teachers and is made aware of the severity of the situation before the expulsion.
Yet as a parent of two teenage boys, I can't help but sympathise with Mr Tan and his son. While most people are quick to criticise the boy's immaturity and attitude, I'm trying to recall what first year of junior college was like for me. At 17, I was like a lost sheep.
While my friends and I were by no means stupid, we couldn't quite figure out what the lecturers were teaching. We struggled all year but thankfully the schools weren't so merciless then. Only the troublemakers got expelled from school. The rest of us made it through JC and many went on to the university.
One thing I know for sure is teenage years can be very tumultous for some. Things that seem trivia may bother them alot until they have reached a level of maturity to deal with different situations. Having supportive parents and teachers around will make the transition easier.
Having said that, every child develops at his own pace. That explains why there are leaders and late-bloomers. We need all kinds to fill the society.
Like it or not, the Singapore education system is very result driven. The top schools will settle for nothing but the best, they have no room for slackers. It's a cold-hard reality. I already knew that the day my kids entered kindergarten. I also know my children's capability and personality, so I have learned to manage my expectations. I also tend to look on the bright side.
Over time, Mr Tan will come to terms with the school's decision. Though it may be the end of JC life, it's not the end of the world. Like what many people have commented, there are many other options. In fact, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Who knows?
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
- dried prunes
- dried mango
- raw groundnuts
- freeze dried bananas
- preserved ginger
Ugh! Gimme some real snacks! Now I understand why the kids say there's nothing to eat around here.
See, I had a sudden craving for curry puff, so I drove all the way to an outlet to get my fix. In my books, only Old Chang Kee's curry puff is worth the calories. For a start, the filling is the most generous I can find but more importantly, it is really delicious with chunks of chicken amidst moist curry potatoes. It never fails me everytime.
Yesterday I craved for duck after seeing the sesame duck stew recipe. I made a detour to the supermarket to grab some ingredients before hurrying home to cook. I like my duck meat really soft and tender, so while the recipe calls for 1.5 hours of cooking, I simmered mine for more than 2 hours. It was worth the effort of course. Everyone loved it so much, I'm thinking of doing this dish for our Chinese New Year reunion dinner.
I'm quite proud of the fact that I followed the recipe faithfully this time. I'm big on improvising so the end results can be quite 'off' sometimes. But yesterday I measured the portions carefully and even drove to the store again when I realised I had gotten the wrong ginger (old ginger instead of blue ginger) earlier. I know from experience that blue ginger is a MUST when it comes to stewing duck, Teochew style. I wanted my duck to be perfect.
Do I sound like a glutton already? Anyway, the sauce was so delicious, it would be a waste to throw it away. So I'll be adding taukua (firm tofu) and taukee (dried bean strips) to the stew to give it another new dimension.
I get so excited when I start talking about food. I can't believe that I've been procrastinating my runs and workouts but I'm willing to go that extra mile where food is concerned. Maybe I should just drink more green tea. I heard it promotes slimming. It's just what I need!
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Oh, I'm starting the year with a new laptop. After 6 years with the old lappy, I've finally upgraded. Not that anything is wrong with the old one, it's just a little slow unlike YK's year-old laptop which crashed last week. I wonder what kids put their computers through these days. On hindsight, I made the right move by signing up for an extended warranty.
Anyway, now that we're back to the old routine, I tend to spend more time with the kids. We go for breakfast at the coffeeshop if their classes start late. And they're home for dinner every night. I was experiencing the empty-nest syndrome during the school holidays. They were never around, I only had Rusty for company on most nights.
It's also great that CH has moved very close to our apartment. Now he walks over to join us for dinner and we take Rusty out for an after-dinner stroll.
While I'm not planning to make any resolutions this year, I must remind myself to cherish time with family and loved ones. My friends and I were shocked to see an old schoolmate in the obituaries. He was an intelligent and popular guy. When he died, he was the CEO of a large corporation.
So, for the last 2 days, we had been reminiscing about our past. It's sad to know that some people we knew in school had died or are ill with cancer in the prime of their lives. It's indeed a sobering reminder for us to live and let live.
Friday, 1 January 2010
Best friend suggested going to the beach yesterday evening. She's so lucky to live near Punggol Beach, so near that we could stroll there.
We walked and walked. It was a rather long walk, a little too long for Rusty's tiny legs.
While I was running out of the restaurant, a little girl stopped me in my tracks, "You're wearing boots too!", she exclaimed.
What a sweetie. I had to stop and ask for a photo with her of course.
I arrived at the BBQ party to find a table piled high with food. After a light vegetarian (wedding) dinner, I had room in my tummy for more food and wine. We ate and ate until the clock struck midnight. Then we lit sparklers and exchanged greetings and hugs.