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Happy Birthday to me!

Another year folks! I’m getting older minute by minute. I’m finally 23 years young and am proud of every minute of it.

What can I say? The day began just like any other day. It started at 5:40am. I woke up, had breakfast, did quiet time, prayed, changed and went to uni. Yup, the usual. Research work, contacting potential participants, preparing for tutorial tomorrow, formating diaries, entering references..etc etc. Just another busy day.

The emails came in wishing me happy birthday, then the smses, the phone calls..Cat came into the office singing.. yes, it’s reality. I AM 23 years young.

Mr Ar booked me for a facial and massage on saturday (2 months in advance apparently). He said I will never be able to find time to do it so he might as well just book me in and ‘escorted’ me to the doorstep of the beauty salon. Saturday was extra special as it wasnt just an early celebration of my birthday but it was about us too. 🙂

Dinner was at the Holiday Inn

Macademia Crusted Pork- Mr Ar’s choice.

Lamb rack with cousous- My choice! The picture is blurred but the meal was EXCELLENT.

Coming back to today…

Yup. Just coffee and sweets with the girls at Club Murdoch. Catherine insisted that I have to choose a tart/cake. I moved into the office about 2 months ago and finally a session where we get to sit down and chat.

The highlight of my day in the office was….The filling cabinet with a LOCK arrived in the office. ;p

Anyway, I returned home and made dinner. Mr Ar helped of course..

Grilled Salmon with Pesto on sweet potato mash. Aspargus was served with lemon butter sauce.

Yup! That’s me!! Haz indeed bought me 2 tops and 3 packets of Ritter Sport chocolates. I swear, this lady is trying to fatten me up! The flowers…..were from dear BEN!!!!!! *HUGS* The ever so sweet guy ‘pretended’ not to wish me happy birthday via our mass emails but sent flowers instead. I arrived home and saw those lovely tulips sitting outside the door. Mum gave me the jewellery (express mail) + the body shop stuff. I dig the cosmestic bag. Thanks mum!! Love you lots. The day spa voucher by Mr Ar, photo frame and lindt chocolates by MW + Cailing. There is also a bracelet from grandma. The Crispy Creme donuts (Mei’en wanted me to try them) are only available in Sydney but Mei’en shared them with me. They are VERY SWEET! Too sweet for my liking.. I only took one small bite and put it back in the fridge. How sinful are they?

The cake of course.. Delicious sinful cake…filled with rum and dark chocolate. Just the way I like it. Thanks Mr Ar for the effort of bring the cake back from the city- not to mention the bus broke down and he had to wait for the next bus with the cake!

Thanks also to Ruth, Velda, Peggy, Ben, Min, Ting, Haz, MW + Cailing, Irene, Ryan, Catherine, Lone, Mei’en, Cath, Sian, Claire, Mum, Dad and Grandma and to all my friends who remembered. Not all of you guys read this blog but still.. Big thank yous! Thanks for remembering and loving me the way I am (with all my flaws too). Thanks for making this birthday beautiful.

I’m blessed. Thank you Lord for bringing me gorgeous friends and family-for people who stood by me through the times. For everyone who stood by me despite my decision to continue studying, allowing me to whinge and cry when the tough gets going. Thanks to my partner who love me despite my shortcomings.

Thanks for being you.


A week of odds and ends

I arrived home last Thursday, surprised to see a parcel outside the door. I turned the parcel over and… saw Haz’s name on it and it’s all the way from Germany!

Now, my friends will know that when it comes to letters and parcels, i do not bother opening them gently. However, I didn’t this time. That girl wrote “DO NOT OPEN TILL YOUR BIRTHDAY” in bold red letters at the back of the parcel.

Grrrrr… the suspense is killing me. It feels soft, with a box in the middle… so i’m guessing… a shirt with a box of chocolates? mmmm… hahaha.. Dear MW and Cailing came over yesterday and handed me a birthday present. He said since he has always been late in giving me a present, it might be a fresh change and give it to me early instead. He left with the same instructions “DO NOT OPEN TILL YOUR BIRTHDAY”….. grrrr… It’s definitely a box of chocolates because they didnt wrap it and it’s LINDT! mmmmm….. but there is another box as well, so we shall seeeee……………..

Mr Ar asked me what are my birthday wishes this year. I said
1) Health for my dad and grandma. Their blood pressure rose as the haze increases its intensity.

2) 5-8 more participants with rosacea who will be willing to participate in my study this year.

3) More hours in a day (PS-this wish may be answered since there r talks about introducing daylight savings in Perth late this year).

4) Locating all my missing earrings. Alot of my earrings lost their “partners”. Probably due to me running around like a mad chicken in Uni and when on placement. Or perhaps just me pulling my hair out of frustration when marking assignments and they got caught in my hair and fell out.

5) Phase 2 and 3 of my study will turn out beautifully.

6) My thesis will write itself.

7) A copy of Donna Hay’s Classics 2 cookbook.

8) New bakeware. I fulfilled this wish myself as Myers was having 30% off all bakeware. I redeemed ColesMyers giftcards a few weeks ago from FlyBuys points so I spurge Aus$16 on a biscuit and muffin tray! BAKERS SECRETS! They are sooo durable! I wish I can afford those new sillcon ones but hey, these will do. Frankly, I just dig having to walk out of the store knowing that they are FREE! Gift vouchers are great to redeeem!

9) A food processor and/or a proper cake mixer. Not that there is anything wrong with my trusty handheld. Maybe one day.. just one day… (when I redeemed MORE vouchers!).

10) Clothes that I look smart in. Perhaps nice clothes will make me look nicer! :p I’m in need of a sweater that I can run in. Where thou art are all the sales? (vouchers again!)

11) With clothes, there should be a good workbag/handbags right?

12) And with clothes and bags there should be shoes right? (Vincci, here I come in jan!)

13) BOOKS-Too many to list. Top of my list now “For one more day” by Mitch Albom and “the boy in stripped pjs.” Dont even ask for my psych books list. Recipe books.. mmmm… with “Jamie Oliver” on it will be terrific too. (Kino and borders, you know you are irresistible to me)

I think I should stop… I’m getting greedy. It’s amazing how I feel quite contented with life and suddenly “BOOM” crap.. i do have things that I want to get. I blame it on the media cult (and myself for being hooked to them!). So another week to go before I turn the ripe old age of 23. Why do I feel so much older?
Tosca cake. This is SO EASY and YUMMY. It’s simple and classy. You dont even need a mixer for it. Nat and I had such a good chat over this cake. She was amused seeing me taking a few pictures of my baking. *OOPS* *BLUSHED*

125g margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cupmilk
2 cups plain flour
4 teaspoon baking powder
50gram margarine
1/4cup sugar
100grm sliced almonds
2 tablesoons milk
1) Preheat oven at 180 C. Lined 19inch round cake tin with baking paper.

2)Place margarine and sugar in a saucepan large enough to mix all the ingrediants. Melt and stir till combined. Remove from heat

3)Beat eggs and milk in a jug/bowl.

4) Add to saucepan with sifted flour and baking powder. Mix with wooden spoon to combined.

5) Pour mixture into cake tin. Bake for 30 mins.

6) Meanwhile, place topping ingrediants in a saucepan. Heat, stirring till sugar melts. Add milk. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 mins.

7) Spread topping over cake (at the end of 30 mins). Bake for another 15 mins or until cake is cooked.

8) Leave in tin for 10 mins. SLICE AND SERVE.

Weight Issues

Did anyone read the articles on Straits Times regarding skinny models? In the same edition, they feature other models who are supposingly “curvy”- yeah right. The “curvy” models’ BMI ranged from 16.5-16.9. Given that they “healthy” BMI ranges from 18.5-23.5 by Singapore standards, NO way can they be considered as “normal size”. Or perhaps “normal size” in Singapore means a BMI of 16-17?

Close friends around me know that I have been working hard over the past 4-5 years or so to reduce my BMI from a scary 30 to 19. Regardless, whenever it turns October, I begin to fear the impending visit back in Singapore in Dec when the ever gosspy aunties and relatives start harping about how a girl should look like. I lost weight due to health reasons and because my enrolment of Hons, Masters and current degree means that evitably, weight will be lost (serious, I should write a book on this shouldnt I? “key to losing weight-enrol in a postgraduate degree”).

I recall that a few years ago, someone from church started teasing my best friend about her weight and I scolded him big time. He was very very unhappy with me (and probably still is) but can one see how teasing drive girls to take drastic measures to lose weight? Working in the mental health arena means I see girls who DO take those measures and ended up in hospital and the numbers aint small. A small survey around will reveal that most girls are trying to lose weight regardless if they are in the ‘normal’ weight range or not.

And so am I. I’m no means perfect and sometimes wonder why irrational thoughts on the fears of gaining weight still bothers me. I’m supposed to be fantastic at challenging thoughts, disputing beliefs and using behavioral tasks to change the way I feel about myself right? No, I can be a victim to how the “ideal girl” should look like as well. Not to mention the fear of going back to my old ways.

Am I in the high risk zone to have an eating disorder? Perhaps. Am I going to resort to measuring my food and make myself guilty just because I ate some pancakes? No.

so am i going to be upset since I will probably still fit into a size “L” when I go shopping in Singapore? Probably. Even if I lose another 5 kg more, I will never be the typical small asian size female (WHY dont I get your genes mum? why dads’??). I’m starting to like myself abit more each day, reminding myself that the Lord put me here for greater reasons than to worry about weight issues.

Oh ya, and the strawberries pancake stack….
So easy to make. Everyone should whip up a batch without using those instant mix.

Makes 4-5 pancakes
a) 1 cup flour
b) 1 tablespoon of caster sugar.
c) 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
d) 1 1/2 cup of low fat milk.
e) 2 eggs
f) 30 grm of low fat margarine-melted and cooled.
sliced strawberries
tablespoon of honey
sprinkle of caster sugar.
1) Mix a-c well. Whisk c-f together.
2) Pour wet mixture to dry mixture. Stir with wooden spoon till it comes together.
3) Heat non-stick pan. Spray oil. Spoon 2 tablespoon of mixture to pan. When bubbles come to surface, flip pancake over.
4) Place sliced strawberries onto each layer and sprinkle some sugar on it. Stack and repeat. Top with a tablespoon of Jarah honey (or anykind of honey).

Another healthy treat? Muesli biscuits…

I combined a oats, muesli, cornflakes with some melted margarine and sugar..and tadah. Muesli biscuits.

Oh! The Lasagna recipe…
500grams of lean beef mince
1 chopped red onion
1 can of chopped tomatoes
couple of table spoons tomato paste
BIG splash of sherry
fresh herbs (I used rosemary), you can use Italian dried herbs too.
Lasagna sheets
3 tablespoons of flour
1/2-1 cup milk.
3 tablespoons of margarine.
250grams of Chedder
sprinkle of parmesan

1) To make Bechemel sauce. Melt margarine. Add flour. Stir till golden. Add milk, stirring constantly till it becomes a nice white sauce.
2) Beef mixture- Heat pan. Add onions. Cook beef till almost done and add can of tomatoes, tomato paste, sherry, salt, pepper, sherry and herbs. Stir till done.
3) Place first layer of lasagna sheet in a oven proof pan. Spoon 1/3 beef mixture onto it. Top with bechemel sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 chedder cheese. Layer with lasagna sheet. Repeat till you get 3 layers of beef mixture with the lasagna sheet on top. Sprinkle remaining chedder and parmesna. Baked in 200 degrees C oven for 30 mins or till golden.

I think I might go for a run now….

Moody baking

Last friday was my last day on placement (this year). I “should” be relieved or even happy but NO.. i’m not! Can you believe that some part of me actually crave that hectic lifestyle in the hospital? Mr Ar has been commenting that I’m looking quite stressed and moody this weekend (NOT PMS) and I realised it’s because…… I WILL NOT BE SEEING ANY CLIENTS TILL NEXT YEAR!

Well, not exactly right, often, my participants often requires counselling. It’s different however when you do work with clients for a period of time.

Anyway, something to relieve my anxiety for not seeing clients..

Cornflake honey slice
I combined cornflakes, coconut, oats, sugar, melted margarine-low fat of course! and honey and this!

Glazed Coffee Cake

185g margarine
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup low fat light sour cream
couple of tablespoons of strong black coffee.

Coffee glaze
3/4 cup icing sugar
tablespoons of strong black coffee

1) Preheat oven 180 degrees C. Grease and line 1 slice pan.
2) Cream butter n sugar. Add eggs.
3) Sift flour, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, bicarb soda n baking powder into seperate bowl.
4) Fold into creamed mixture-alternate with sour cream. Start and end with flour mixture.
5) Transfer 1/3 of mixture into another bowl-mix coffee.
6) Spoon plain mixture into pan. Top with coffee mixture than plain again.
7) Bake 45 mins.
8) Make coffee glaze by combining all ingrediants into a heatproof bowl. Place ontop of saucepan with boiling water. Stir till glossy.
9) Pour glaze on cake. Wait at least 10 mins till the glaze sets. Slice and SERVE!

This is wonderful with a glass of Brown Brothers Crouchen Riseling.

Piglet mooncakes– Mum sent this to me. A friend made this and gave it to her. My family said since I can’t be there to celebrate it with them, they decided to take a picture of these CUTE mooncakes (with lotus filling in them) for me to drool on.

Seeing the picture makes me feel better… ahhh…

Queen’s birthday.

And so it is a public holiday in WA- although of course, it is still an uni open day.. so I’m faithfully sitting in front of the desktop, doing work but decided that I need some distraction.

I can’t believe the weekend is gone again. Last week went quickly. Presentation DID go well-better than expected. I did not succumb to my nerves at all! The person I feared will piled questions on me (whom my supervisor said likes to “show off”) supported my hypothesis and observations instead.

True to murphey’s law, we found out the meeting room was booked by “people who are more important than you” and we shifted to a smaller therapy room 2 mins before my presentation. As an end result, I DID NOT GET A CHANCE TO PRESENT ON THE BIG LCD TV!!!!!!!!! Since lunch was provided (see, making me feel important even though they kicked me out of the posh meeting room), everyone ate while listening to my talk. Probably the reason why it was well recieved (the eating I mean).

And to wrap the whole thing off? The clinic manager and I realised that the posh meeting room wasnt being used till 3pm (I presented at 12.30) so they kicked me out for nothing! grrrrr…

“Sandwich generation”- I feel like it now-except I have no kids. It’s all about role reversal however. I recalled bring home report cards as a young child.These days, my family hands me their report cards. Dad and grandma- report on ALL health checkups, blood pressure and bloodwork. Mum- needless to say report on her assignments n work. Isnt it strange when u reach a certain age and u r no longer that little girl, even though you still feel like one? I feel vulnerable in knowledge that my parents n grandma are growing older.

Anyway, some pictures here….

I made…
Stuffed capsicum with couscous and apricot chicken.

mmmm… it isnt hard to make at all. Just add water/stock to couscous (mine has tomato, spices n cheese in it), fluff it and add to grilled whole capsicum. Topped with cheese, melt it and yummm…a meal is ready.

As for the apricot chicken, it’s just seared chicken a dash of chilli powder and tumeric. Then add chicken stock, simmer for 5 mins. Add chopped dried apricots, simmer for another 5 mins and viola! cheap, quick and easy.

To be honest, I have never quite like adding fruits to my cooking-i prefer savoury than sweet most times. A dinner party that I attended a few months ago introduced me to Moroccan dishes and I was hooked by the sweet n savoury taste of the chicken dish. When my uncle and aunt came to visit, I made them a similar one and they liked it too. The last time, I added some nuts but I decided not to since I am probably going nuts by adding too many of them in my cooking and baking these days

and Mr Ar’s favourite…

I have never made this before so decided to give it a go..given Mr Ar’s love affair with meat and cheese. I probably did not make enough of the bechemal sauce but overall turned out to be edible. I didnt really follow any recipe just the way I like my lasagna to taste like-with lots of rosemary herbs from the garden, good dash of sherry and a can of chopped tomatos. I probably could have added in more tomato paste but I’m not really a big fan of that.

This is how it looked like when I dished it out————————————–>

I served it with slices of grilled eggplant, capsicum and mushrooms.

Anyway, will probably do more baking later today. I’m thinking of a honey and apple cake… mmm…