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Balls…BALLS?!

We were lounging around in the living room, watching Heston Blumenthal work his magic on some very delightful feasts on the telly. Fans of Heston would know his penchant for creating dining experiences that are out of this world. In this particular episode, he demonstrated the creation of the meatfruit, a meat-based dish made to look like a fruit, something which I thoroughly enjoyed during M’s birthday celebration at Heston’s restaurant in London, Dinner.

Heston (on telly): To make a meatfruit, we are going to use…THIS. *holds up a bull’s neatly severed testicle whilst looking supremely smug* I am going to use a bull’s plum to make a plum.

He proceeded to squeeze the living daylights out of the testicle, and emptied its contents into a bowl of whatever.

Me: Whutttt…?! Did he just…? *mind overworking at this point, hoping that the bowl of whatever was meant to be tossed into the bin, not for consumption*

Heston mashed up the bits (pun so very intended) in the bowl and started fashioning a rather realistic-looking plum out of it.

Me (hysterical): OH-EM-GEE OH-EM-GEE, YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS AT HIS RESTAURANT? YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS?! *whimpers* But it was so good…YOU MEAN I ATE BALLS?!

M (stifling his maniacal laughter): Yah you did!

Me (all dramatic whilst pulling my hair and dragging my hands down my face): NONONONO. It can’t be! I am pretty sure it was chicken liver parfait that was stuffed inside the meatfruit. NOT BALLS! It can’t be balls…right??? WHAT THE…..

M was shaking violently with stifled laughter at this point and I was pretty traumatised.

Heston then held up a meatfruit that looks like a mandarin, just like the one I ate at Dinner, and promptly announced that it was made of chicken liver parfait.

Me (total outburst): SEEEEEEEEE!!! I TOLD YOU IT WAS CHICKEN LIVER PARFAIT! *slaps M on his back repeatedly, who was still shaking with laughter*

Moral of the story for me: It wasn’t balls that I ate.

Moral of the story for M: Please don’t mess with my head again. It was very traumatising.

Moral of the story for you: Marvel at the number of times I mentioned ‘balls’.

 

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After

Forty years of marriage, three kids and two grandchildren. Ladies and gentlemen, there IS a Happily Ever After.

What better way to celebrate than with some homemade cake?

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 1

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 2

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 3

Strawberry & Lychee Shortcake with a cake topper that I made (both of which need to be worked on for better results)

201306 Strawberry & Lychee shortcake 4

Thank you, Papa and Mama, for teaching us how to love. Happy Ruby Wedding Anniversary to you two lovebirds!

Check out what I have been baking in my kitchen.

Everything Is More Beautiful

I love to write when I am inspired. The story simply…flows. The process of stringing words together becomes so effortless, and the by-product, a memory that evokes and stirs. I may not be a wordsmith and I may not have a flawless command of the English language, but being able to pen my thoughts delights me to no end.

These days, inspiration plays hide-and-seek with me. Too busy, too tired, I often find myself psyched for that moment, only to be distracted or rudely snapped out of it. But yesterday evening, I was all alone. M was hard at work on a night shift, and little Faith was fast asleep. I didn’t realise how much I miss being by myself, until the quietude consumed me. I didn’t realise how much I miss being able to revel in nothing but my memories. I didn’t realise how much I miss being able to think. It was nice, being alone.

I found myself reaching out for my laptop and leafing through the tens of thousands of photos I have taken over the past three years. You see, I first fell in love with photography back in London and have been quite the shutterbug since, albeit a very amateurish one. Every photo brings me right back to the moment that I captured. There isn’t a single image that I couldn’t put my finger to. In a mere few hours, I took an epic tour of my life and it was, for the lack of a better phrase, pretty freakin’ awesome.

Some moments were better than others, of course. Some were good AND bad, such as the ones during our first family vacation in Perth. The three of us were just grasping the concept of FAMILY, and learning how to live with one another. Faith was barely three months old then and fell rather ill during the trip (think at least eight watery, colourless poopy diapers a day). We were worried sick and comforted her as much as we could, but we were also pissing mad whenever she screamed in the car seat. And she screamed EVERY SINGLE TIME. M and I tried to relax, but there was so much going on that we couldn’t. When the nights fell, we shuddered as we braced ourselves for hourly wakings that a sleep regression had brought upon us. Yet, there were the moments, when we felt so much love from our lovely hosts (the McLeans, who have never met us in person but generously offered to put us up and even welcomed us with our first Australian barbie), tilted our heads back with our eyes closed so the warm and inviting rays hit our faces, and held hands as we silently strolled through the campus of my father’s alma mater with his granddaughter nicely tucked into the carrier.

To others, this may just be another holiday, with a wee bit more drama, pitstops, and a bigass diaper bag, but to me, our first family vacation taught me love, patience, endurance, strength, generosity, friendship and the faith that we can get through anything as long as we are together.

Everything was more beautiful. Even the skies were bluer.

It was lovely, being alone.

201306 Perth 5 201306 Perth 7 201306 Perth 1 201306 Perth 2 201306 Perth 4 201306 Perth 3 201306 Perth 6 201306 Perth 8

Family Portraiture: When We Were 7 Months

We did a family photoshoot with Playground Pictures slightly more than a month ago, and I cannot recommend our photographer, Ken Umehara, enough. He is very friendly and professional, and has an excellent eye for compositions. You might not be able to tell from the photos but M and I are very stiff and are the most awkward people one could ever photograph (our pre-wedding and wedding photographers can attest to this…), so it’s all props to Ken for helping us relax and capturing the candid moments perfectly. We were a little nervous about the shoot as we didn’t know what to expect with a baby (who gets really cranky when she is about to nap) in tow, but we did the shoot in an hour, and are utterly pleased with the photos!

Why Botanic Gardens, you ask? This was where we had our first date after we became a couple. Cliché but so very meaningful to us. Hey, at least we didn’t head to the very bench we sat on as we held hands, okaaay?

Right, I shall shut my trap and let the photos do the talking.

201304 Family Photoshoot 1

201304 Family Photoshoot 7

201304 Family Photoshoot 2

201304 Family Photoshoot 6

 

201304 Family Photoshoot 3

201304 Family Photoshoot 4

201304 Family Photoshoot 5

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What The Man Wants, The Man Gets

201304 M's Red Velvet Cake 1

201304 M's Red Velvet Cake 2

201304 M's Red Velvet Cake 3

201304 M's Red Velvet Cake 4

‘Red Velvet, please. And I want it tall.’

My husband, M, certainly wasn’t standing on ceremony when I asked him what cake he would like for his birthday.

Well, I love him very much, so much so that I attempted to bake my very first four-layer cake which weighed at least five kilograms when it was finally dressed in a decadent, slightly tart cream cheese frosting.

It took two days of back-breaking work to create this, the most professionally-finished cake that I’ve ever made, even if it didn’t look like it hit the gold standards of established bakeries out there. What mattered most was M loved it. He declared it my best act, and that was well-worth the effort.

Happy Birthday, love!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

For Better, For Worse

My dear husband,

Today marks all of eight years we have had with each other.

Eight years ago, you stealthily grabbed my hand as we crossed the road after our dinner date, under the pretense that you wanted to make sure I was safe from the non-existent traffic. With my hand in yours, unbeknownst to me, I was fooled into committing the very first day of our lives together to you. And then, somehow, you managed to hoodwink me into becoming your wife about three and a half years ago. You must have had plenty of tricks up your sleeve, for the world knows that we are different as chalk and cheese, and the world wonders how we are still very much in love in spite of that. I wonder too.

You and I know that we love each other in starkly contrasting ways. We have had eight long years to realise, fight over, and accept this. If anything, the difference in how we love was THE point of contention in our years together. It still is. You practise tough love. And I, ever the fragile, sheltered half, isn’t always strong enough for that. You see, I grew up knowing only tenderness and sometimes, I can’t quite grasp the affection for me that actually lurks in your nonchalance and harsh words. And my oh my, are we the worst sort of tempers put together. I am quick to anger at the slightest while you are quite the terror if you should ever blow your top. I am surprised that we are still together. But maybe, I shouldn’t be.

After all, we have given a lot to make a recalcitrant, heated, passionate relationship such as ours work. We had two honeymoon-ish years together, and we naively thought, hey it’s pretty easy to fall AND stay in love, then BAM! London hit us and well, we fought bad and almost threw in the towel before realising that WE are worth fighting for. So, we fought even harder, but this time, we fought to make it work. After getting married, I thought we had learnt what needed to be learnt about each other, that we had accepted what needed to be accepted. I mean, haven’t we gone through enough tears already? And surely, the storms would have blown over by now after so much drama during our time in London? I thought wrong.

The past 8 months have been INSANE. I remember lamenting that it was going to be tough the minute we knew we were expecting a baby. We had done everything backwards – you know, getting married while working on our second degrees, planning for a kid when we were fresh out of grad school. Friends questioned the way we lived. Strangers raised their eyebrows when they heard our stories. It was challenging to walk the path of the less travelled, but geez, I didn’t realise what ‘tough’ meant until we became parents.

The usual parenting challenges, the lack of sleep, the moments when we feel like fish out of water, the resentment that grows as we hardly see each other with your unforgiving schedule at work and my relentless mothering gig, the stress and constant criticism that comes with living with others, the scrutiny we are put under as new parents, the lack of time for a social life and how much we are getting dissed by our friends for not keeping in touch…these are really doing us in. Where do I start to dissect the pressures on our marriage, when we don’t even have the time to see, let alone talk to each other?

But we soldier on. We fight, we throw our heads back and laugh without a care in the world, we long to punch the living daylights out of each other, we hug each other and cry, we cry because we fight, we kiss and make up, and we love again. We walk on, my hand in yours, across the road as we dodge a more dangerous sort of traffic this time.

I don’t know how we do it. I honestly don’t know how we survived the past 8 months. There were moments when I was convinced that we were done for. But I am glad we are alive, and that we love each other more and more, even as we find more and more things to hate about each other. It is all very odd indeed.

You told me that you were afraid that I will forget all about you once I become a mother. I never had a chance to tell you this, but the truth is, I think about you more and more after I became one. My heart has grown to love you and our beautiful daughter to my very best, so much so that I have nothing left for myself. You have to know this.

You must know this too. For better, for worse, it has been eight years.

For better, for worse, it has been the most trying eight months of our lives together.

For better, for worse, with my hand still in yours, I pray that there will be more fights, laughter, tears and kisses to come just because it is you whom I share these moments with.

For better, for worse, as long as I am with you, trying as the times ahead will surely be, I say…come what may.

Love,
Me

201304 8th Anniversary

Oh, The English Summer

201301 BBQ in London 1

How I miss the English summer.

The cloudless skies, the burning sun, the warm breeze sans the humidity. The way it snuck up on us, just as we threw our hands up in despair and protested, ‘You call this bleak piece of sh*t summer, dammit?!’.

201301 BBQ in London 3

I love the way we toiled through the bitter cold of winter and dragged our soaking wet boots through the black mush called s-n-o-w, just for one very cloudless, warm, snuggly day. I love the way that spring was practically non-existent and that everyone complained about it like they didn’t know better. Most of all, I love the way Londoners reacted to the rare burst of heat, the way every square feet of plump grass patches became precious commodity in Regents Park, Hyde Park…and the odd island at the traffic lights.

201301 BBQ in London 4

There is just something so magical about the English summer, a season that I took for granted as I was born and raised in the tropics. M and I used to celebrate those warm days with barbecue-offs on our shoebox of a balcony when we lived in London. There were a few things that had to go on the menu. Mozzarella, tomato and basil salad drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, accented with a good dash of capers and sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Homemade pork belly satay and satay sauce made with a killer secret recipe from my mother. Crisp romaine lettuce salad with pomodoro tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Sometimes, we would cheat and do cola ribs for that instant caramel-y hit. Other times, we would tuck into M’s favourite BBQ whole chicken. And we always had wine.

201301 BBQ in London 5

We often had friends over to join in the fun. But really, my favourite summer days were spent with M and M alone, as the charcoal turned amber, as we toasted marshmallows in the twilight, as we wound down for the day with the last glass of wine and idle chatter.

Yes, how I miss our English summer.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

2012: What A Year!

We welcomed 2012 in our serviced apartment in Boston. How? I, buried in all-day sickness,  M, hoisting my hair up whenever I heaved, us, watching the ball drop in Times Square and the magnificent fireworks display at the London Eye on telly. Our 6-week stay in Boston was nightmarish. I was plagued with nausea and survived on dry crackers and fish fingers. M woke up at 4.30am every day to work at MGH. We barely went anywhere as I was doing poorly. We did watch a live basketball game (Boston Celtics vs Phoenix Suns) and build a snowman when I was feeling better towards the end of our stay. That was nice.

After M’s elective at MGH, we flew back to London, met our friends for a Chinese New Year dinner, switched our bags out and I said a tearful goodbye to the city we have come to call home. We spent the rest of the New Year with our families in Singapore, our very first with them in five years. My obgyn told us we were having a girl and that she is healthy. We shared the good news with everyone who cared.

We celebrated M’s 30th in March. I baked him a strawberry and lychee shortcake after a long break from the kitchen. He was delighted to finally spend his birthday with family and friends in Singapore. A few days later, we hugged each other goodbye as M left to complete his degree in London, and I stayed in Singapore to prepare for the arrival of our baby.

It was a difficult time thereafter. I was missing M terribly, and feeling sad that I was going through pregnancy alone. M was stressed out with his finals and I really wanted to be there for him. We tried to keep up with each other on FaceTime. I often watched him have lunch and even cook his dinner, whilst he squinted at the tiny movements our baby was making across my growing belly. I exercised a lot to pass time and to keep myself fit for the delivery – yoga on Fridays and cardio twice weekly. M graduated in July; I was gutted to miss the ceremony but his graduation also meant that M was finally coming home. He took very good care of me and pampered me with lots of dinner dates and outings. We were determined to make up for lost time, and to enjoy each other’s company as much as we can before our daughter’s arrival and before he started his new job. We spent lots of time reminiscing the good ol’ times we had in London. We spent lots of time getting to know each other all over again. It was wonderful to be with my best friend.

Before we knew it, our baby girl was born. Nothing quite prepared us for parenthood, let alone that in the week when M embarked on his new role as a doctor. There were lots of laughter and lots of tears. There still are.

The next months were and still are trying. Four months into parenthood and we are still trying to find our footing. It has been a steep learning curve and we evolve with our baby girl everyday. We have had to dig real deep to stick to the kind of parenting we feel is best for our daughter in the face of a constant barrage of unsolicited advice. We learnt to sleep less and love more. I didn’t think this is possible, but it is.

So….yes…

This is the year when time sped up and slowed down at the same time.

This is the year when emotions swung like a pendulum on steroids. 

This is the year when I became a mother.

This is the year when I had the most and least sleep.

This is the year when I learnt to love a little more.

This is by far, the best year of my life.

201212 Christmas Family photo

I hope 2012 has been good to you too. Here’s to a better 2013. Happy New Year, guys!

Christmas Past, Present, Future

On Christmas Day last year, we were huddled together in the emergency room of MGH in Boston, heads down in fervent prayer and hands wrung in an odd mix of hope and despair. The ER was eerily quiet. An elderly woman was waiting anxiously for her husband. I just had the nth vial of blood taken from me since we arrived in Boston three days ago. The doctor had trouble looking for a spot on my arms that wasn’t already bruised by all the blood-taking they did. But that didn’t matter as much as what the doctor was going to tell us when the bloodwork was ready.

Two hours later, the resident on-call told us that our pregnancy looked to be progressing much better than it did a few days ago, but that’s only from the bloodwork and we won’t know for sure if our baby was going to be okay until a few weeks later. I was told to return for further tests in two days’ time. We took whatever that was positive, heaved a strangled sigh of relief, and stepped into the first snowflakes that fell that winter. Better was the best gift we could ask for.

This Christmas…the tree is up, the fairy lights are twinkling and the presents are waiting to be opened. Baby Faith joins us for her first Christmas. We are delighted and beyond thankful to be her parents, to love her the way our folks love us. We take nothing for granted and we are happy. She is our gift, as with faith, which inspired her name.

201212 Happy Christmas

I don’t know what the future holds for our little family. But I know this…that I will treasure every single moment I have with my loved ones, and that I will thank the high heavens for every tomorrow.

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Happy Christmas, everyone.

Love,

Us

 

 


About The Author
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Read about my food-gasmic adventures in San Sebastian here! Also please come by and check out the prettiest cake I've made over here!
Macarons: Be Inspired
Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies
Rose & Lychee Chiffon Cake
Pan-seared scallops, jamon iberico chip, pomme puree, jamon iberico foam and chestnut
Red Velvet Cake
An English-themed Dessert Table
Chocolate & Hazelnut Salted Caramel Cake
Gula Melaka Salted Caramel Buttercream Macarons
The Ispahan Cake
The Ispahan
Sunflower Seed Macarons with Black Truffle Salted White Chocolate Ganache
Lemon Cupcakes with Lime & Ginger Whipped Cream
Portuguese Egg Tarts
Ba Zhang - Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Braised Pork Belly
The Fat Duck
Strawberry and Cream Pancakes
Pandan Souffle Roll with Toasted Coconut Whipped Cream
Red Velvet Cake
Lychee and Emperor's Seven Treasures tea-infused macarons
M's Spanish Paella
M's birthday cake - Japanese Cheesecake with Rose Whipped Cream
Lor Bak Gou - Fried Radish Cake
Pandan Chiffon Cake
Homemade Scones
Marmite & Coffee Pork Chops
Quick and Easy fried rice recipe!
Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons
Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls
Matcha, Milo and Plain Polvorons
Kampar Chicken Biscuits - A popular Malaysian snack
White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies
Hustling the Xiao Long Bao in my kitchen
Bailey's & Coffee Macarons

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