Monday, March 30, 2009

The Joy of Rain

It was raining cats and dogs when I was just coming out from my afternoon lecture class -I waited for a while in my room for the rain to stop before heading towards my car parked just behind my office block - I waited and waited - then thought "Ahh, what the heck - just get wet and enjoy it!" And I did - I ran happily giggling to myself at the sheer thought of how funny I looked with a tight skirt and long shirt carrying a bag on one hand and water bottles on the other and running under the pouring sky - and after such a long time, I realized how much I've missed getting wet in the rain and enjoying the whole experience - yeah, I got wet, but so what? I had fun!

Good Posture

According to Wikipedia, a good posture is the stance which is attained "when the joints are not bent and the spine is aligned and not twisted." In this position, a person is thus able to completely and optimally attain balance and proportion of the body mass and framework. Good posture optimizes breathing and affects the circulation of bodily fluids.

I've come to realize it has become my bad habit to slouch - and nowadays I find myself conscious of my posture. I am more aware now than ever that I've been slouching whenever I sit down - and this has always caused a severe pain on my shoulders - and I've come to realize how important good posture is to my overall well-being and also the image that I project outside.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sit back and relax

I know I’ve got a million things to do – but today has been a particularly stressful day for me – physically and emotionally. So I decided to just sit back, de-stress, relax and enjoy a good book. That was what I did most of today – reading Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice – fun and endearing book to read – setting the right mood that I needed to be in – and it helped – thanks to the author.

I’ve believed that I am not the kind of person who loves routine – I love spontaneity and variety – to spruce up my daily life – but lately I miss the routine I had and the longing to return to a normal, routine life. And I miss the attention and the pampering to being respected and acknowledged and all that - and I wanted to rant about it - it always feel better after pouring out.

Right now, I am imagining lazing on a hammock in a tropical paradise...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pizza Adventure - Part 4

Last night, I made pizza - and this time the dough is softer and easier to handle - compared to the last time. I didn't include too much flour this time when kneading the dough - I guess that must be the reason for the softer and fluffier texture of the dough. I let the dough to proof for about 3 hours - and by the time I came back the dough has more than tripled its volume. For the topping, I used tomatoes, button mushrooms, red capsicum, carrots, and halapeno peppers. Bake in a preheated 230 degrees Celcius oven for 15-20 minutes until you see the pizza crust is browning. The texture of the pizza crust was exactly how I wanted it :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Breakfast for Today - Chapati with sauteed tomatoes

This morning's breakfast menu - made chapati with tomatoes sauteed with onions. Chapati is a flat unleavened Indian bread made from whole wheat flour (made from hard wheat), also called "atta flour." (Hard wheats have a high protein content, so doughs made out of atta flour are strong and can be rolled out very thin. Breads made from atta include chapati, roti, naan, and puri. Atta is obtained from grinding complete wheat grains. It is creamy brown in colour and relatively coarse compared to other types of flour. Since nothing is removed from atta, all the constituents of the wheat grain are preserved. High bran content of atta makes it a fiber-rich food).

The chapati's recipe is from my mom - and she is known for her soft chapatis. It's a healthy and wholesome meal - a great way to start the morning - and it's delicious too - soft warm chapati served with any side dishes you prefer. Herewith is the recipe for chapati:

Makes 5 medium-sized chapatis
- 1 cup of atta flour
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of warm water (the amount of water required depends on the consistency of the flour once you mix it)
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp of olive oil

1. Place atta flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually pour in water and add in olive oil. Draw in the flour and mix into a crumbly dough.
2. If dough is too dry, add a little more water and mix until the dough binds well together. Knead the dough for 10–15 minutes until it is pliable.
3. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with a piece of damp tea towel. Leave aside to rest for at least an hour.
4. Knead the dough again by hand for 3–4 minutes then pluck out a small piece of dough, the size of a golf ball.
5. Place it on a lightly floured tabletop. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a circle (of whatever size you prefer). Dust lightly with extra flour.
6. Place a non-stick flat pan over a medium fire. Once the pan is warm, place the rolled-out dough on it.
7. When small bubbles of air pockets are seen on the surface of the dough, turn it over and cook the other side. Pat down the edges of the dough with a dry tea towel. This helps to puff the chapati up.
8. When the chapati is cooked, serve immediately with any side dishes you prefer - potatoes, or dhal curry, or tomatoes sauteed with onions, or even cheese!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake

Baked a chocolate cheesecake – from Nigella’s cookbook – I modified it a little - turned out great – with its luscious-smooth-melt-in-the-mouth texture. Drizzled some chocolate ganache on it – merely for presentation. I’ve always loved baking with cream cheese – but sometimes I run out of ideas on what to bake with cream cheese. My next venture is on tiramisu – coming soon :)

Herewith is the recipe:

Cheesecake base:
125 gm cream crackers
60 gm butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
Cheesecake filling:
175 dark chocolate, chopped small
500 gm Philadelphia cream cheese
150 gm castor sugar
1 tbsp custard powder
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
150 ml sour cream
1/2 tsp cocoa, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
Glaze (optional):
75 gm dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp golden syrup
1. To make the cheesecake base, process the biscuits to make rough crumbs and then add the butter, sugar, and cocoa.
2. Mix with your hand until it makes damp, clumping crumbs and then press the biscuit crumbs into the bottom of the cake pan to make an even base and put into the freezer while you make the filling.
3. Preheat the oven to gas mark 180ÂșC. Put a kettle on to boil. Melt the chocolate, and set aside to cool slightly.
4. Beat the cream cheese to soften it (you should leave the cream cheese at room temperature before beating it - to prevent lumpiness in the cake), and then add the sugar and custard powder, beating again to combine. Beat in the whole eggs and then the yolks, and the sour cream. Finally add the cocoa dissolved in hot water and the melted chocolate, and mix to a smooth batter.
5. Take the cake pan out of the freezer. Pour in the cheesecake filling.
6. Sit the cake pan in a larger pan. Fill the larger pan with hot water to come about halfway up the cake tin, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but the underneath should still have a wobble to it.
7. Let the cheesecake to cool. Put in the fridge once it’s no longer hot, and leave to set, covered with clingfilm, overnight.
8. To make the chocolate glaze, very gently melt the chopped chocolate and golden syrup. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take off the heat and whisk it to a smooth sauce. Let it cool a little, and then sprinkle it over the chocolate cheesecake on its serving plate.
9. Indulge in its sinful smooth texture.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Last Saturday, I attended a colleague’s wedding dinner – after much contemplation, I decided to wear a saree – after arriving at the hotel, I realized that I might be over-dressed, haha. Had great fun – most of all, since we were seated in the same table with all the ‘same-headed’ colleagues – shared jokes and the office ‘happenings’ – laughed my heart out that night. The food was not bad – although I remember feeling stuffed after the 6th course meal.

Cancelled Trip

I cancelled my trip to Cambodia and Vietnam on 23rd March – after much contemplation, I decided not to go (due to more than few reasons) – first, I had to go for ultrasound on that day; second, because my dad and granddad will be returning from India on the 24th,; third, because of Alfred; and fourth, there’s just too many things that I needed to sort out.

We (my colleagues, Chin Lay and I – 11 of us) booked the ticket from Air Asia some time last year – which I should have realized that it’s way too long a period to wait before the travel time – I should have realized that life can be so unpredictable that it’s not practical to book flight ticket one year in advance – although it was a super-save deal.

I was really looking forward to go on this trip – first reason: I will be travelling with some fun-filled-adventure-loving-people whom I can get along with; secondly, I have always wanted to visit Cambodia and Vietnam. Chin Lay is also supposed to follow us – and because I couldn’t go, she didn’t go as well – feel bad for that. Until the end, I was almost sure that I will be going – but, at the end, because of the ultrasound that I needed to go on that day, Chin Lay advised that it’s better not to go.

Right now, part of my thoughts are with my colleague in Siem Reap – what a waste for me…


Yesterday my dad and grandpa returned safely from India – after a six-week tour, they seemed tired and worn out when we greeted them from the airport yesterday. It was so endearing to see family members embracing and shedding tears of happiness upon seeing their family members returning from a long-distance trip. I was so happy in seeing them after so long. That night, I brought my family, including my aunts and cousins for a Chinese dinner – we all had fun catching up – most of all I am thankful for the safe return of my dad and granddad. My dad had so many stories to share – and it was great sitting together as a family and talking – went to bed at 2 a.m. Now, I am so looking forward to explore India...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A new day

It's pouring outside - a beautiful morning - with the sound of the birds chirping - and the falling rain. Yesterday, I spent almost the whole day at the hospital, consulting the doctor and going for ultrasound - for a lump on my breast which I spotted (due to a pain) two weeks ago - for 1 week I was given a course of antibiotics for what was suspected an inflammation around the area - and the swelling has gone down. From yesterday's visit - after going for the ultrasound (thank God I didn't have to go for mammogram - the doctor said I am still young, hehe), the doctor said the lump may dissolve - he told me to come back after 6 months for follow-up. Right now, with so many things on my list, I am just glad that I didn't have to go for a surgery to remove the lump.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Beautiful Morning

A bird's nest by the windowpane - accompanying us with its chirpings - and the innocence of the tiny hatchlings - so cute and endearing. This morning, we sat quietly and enjoyed the morning sun and the ensuing peace - with the sight of birds flying freely in the sky - it's a beautiful morning - exactly the things that I love about the mornings - peaceful, relaxing, and therapeutic - thankful for all the beauty that nature has to offer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Second last chemo treatment

I am at the hospital - for Alfred's second last round of chemo. As always, we pacified ourselves saying that all this is gonna be a distant dream soon - the wait is still excruciating. I dread the routine visit to the hospital - tired of the hospital environment - even more for Alfred who has to endure the havoc-wrecking chemo. Every 2 weeks for the past months - the same process of chemo treatment - altogether 8 treatments - 4 pre-op and 4 post-op - the doctors want to just make sure that if there are any remnants of the cancer cells, the ensuing rounds of chemo treatments should take care of that. Right now, it's just the wait - and also being there for each other.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Read: The Witch of Portobello

I have been a fan of Paulo Coelho's writings ever since Chin Lay introduced me to his masterpiece - The Alchemist. After that, I took interest to read his other books - Veronica Decides to Die, The Eleven Minutes (although I didn't finish reading the book - because it was just too much emotions for me to handle at that point in time), and The Zahir. With the exception of The Alchemist, I found his other books to be a little depressing at the beginning. But then, his message is profound and some of his statements ignite some thinking and realization - to look within ourselves and to find the missing link - and to live life to the fullest - pursuing the dreams we hold back in the name of societal norms and conditions. And the author always adds a twist to the story's end.

I particularly love his message advocating freedom in pursuing dreams and to enjoy the miracles of life. The Witch of Portobello is another one of his excellent writings - advocating about loving unconditionally and to embrace life with an open heart. Some of my favorite lines from the book:

~ When we step out of our normal world and leave behind us all the usual barriers and prejudices, we tend to become more adventurous ~
~ Everything is worship if your mind is focused on the present moment ~
~ Start doing what you want to do, and everything else will be revealed to you ~
~ Why do people prefer to believe in something far away and forget what is there before their eyes, a true manifestation of the miracle? ~

The statement from the author that strikes me the most - Love simply is - there is no reasoning, no judgment and no authority involved.

I've always pondered on my religious direction and as time passes, I've come to realize the distinction between religion and spirituality; that I am more inclined to explore on the spiritual plane. I've come to realize that the road towards the spirituality quest grants more freedom on what I choose to believe and how I choose to worship the divine force. Every act of mine now carries more meaning and significance than before. And every ritual that I practice now comes from my heart and have a life of its own. And as time goes by, I am learning more and more on the things that drive me forward and am convicted that I am on the right track - the path towards a spiritual journey - filled with love and contentment. I've wondered what faith or religion would I impart to my children - and as I learn more, the answer is gradually becoming clearer to me.

The 'Semi-Naked' Unit - Idaman Residence

Most of the shopping is done at Ikea - too lazy to go around furniture shops. Was just so tired and overwhelmed with cleaning and furnishing our new home. I cleaned the place for I-don't -know-how-many-trillionth-times (okay, I am exaggerating) - or at least it felt like that - my whole body is aching from the washing, scrubbing, sweeping, moping, and sweeping and moping, on and on. The electricians came in to fix all the lights on Thursday- and there again the dusts and mess to clean up - as soon as I got down from the bus from Melaka, I was thinking about the list of things to clean. I think I am turning into an obsessive-compulsive person when it comes to clean home and orderliness.

At least we are happy that there is some progress - the lights are all fixed - it looks so much better now. We had a list of priority things to buy according to our budget. We got some kitchen-counter top stools from Ikea and a pair of reading chairs - it is so comfy. During the weekend, we spent almost all our time in Ikea and also on cleaning. We got a pretty cool working table - a peanut-shaped-red-color table - quite mod - and also a working chair. We also managed to get a good deal on Ikea bed and mattress - we spend a total of RM 800++ inclusive of a bed-side table - we bought it immediately since we thought it was a good bargain.

Now, I will just dream of a Thai massage to soothe my body aches ;)

Living room
Master bedroom

Corn Muffin

On Thursday, I made delicious-luscious corn muffin - it has been a long time since I was craving for Kenny-Rogers muffin - and I searched for the recipe online - and most of the recipes suggested using cornmeal for the muffin. I practically combed through all the supermarkets in Malacca, but couldn't find cornmeal - Alfred had to get it from one of the supermarkets in Ampang.

The muffin turned out to be almost a cloned version of the Kenny Rogers muffin. It has a great fluffy moist texture and the texture of the muffin is denser compared to the earlier versions I made (Strawberry muffins topped with crunchy streusel and Oatmeal-apple-raisin muffins) because of the cornmeal. Herewith the recipe (makes about 12 muffins):

- 1/2 cup butter
- 2/3 cup sugar (I reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup frozen yellow corn

1. Preheat oven to 204 degrees Celcius.
2. Cream together butter, sugar, honey, eggs, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add flour, cornmeal, and baking powder and mix thoroughly. Add milk while mixing.
4. Add corn to mixture and combine by hand until corn is worked in.
5. Grease muffin pan and fill each cup (till full) with batter.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins begin to turn golden brown on top.
7. Indulge!
I think the next time I will just skip the corn, and instead stick to vanilla muffin, yum!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Catching up

Sometimes I feel drowned and lost in terms of keeping up with time - some days I am super efficient, and on some days I let myself down in terms of keeping up with all the deadlines. I like keeping my time balanced in terms of family, work, research, and hobbies. But lately, I have been slacking in my research - each time I pray that my supervisor will not drop in my office - I am afraid he might give up on me, hehe. When I woke up today, I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work that I need to settle - I guess I should learn to take it one step at a time - especially now, with my plate full for the months ahead.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moving in

Day 1 (Thursday) : Got the key and we were brought on a tour around the condo - went to Tesco to buy all the cleaning stuffs - went to Jusco at night and bought an electric kettle and few pillows - applied for Jusco card - stayed a night at his parent's place.

Day 2 (Friday): Washed and cleaned the unit - nearly freaked out when we saw the marble floor was discolored when we washed it with the normal floor cleaner - after a while, we realised it was the dirt - went to Gas Malaysia to submit gas application form (the form was not accepted due to the waiting-for-approval-from-the-developer-stage) - had dinner with Alfred's family to celebrate his parent's wedding anniversary.

Day 3 (Saturday): Went to Jusco to get miscellaneous items and the marble floor cleaner - went to a lighthing shop and bought 10 sets of downlights - called over the electrician to quote the price for fixing all the lightings and fans - at night, went to Low Yat Plaza to get the Celcom broadband package (I was so happy - finally I can surf whenever and wherever I want) - bought a pair of jeans - ate Chinese food for dinner.

Day 4 (Sunday): Brainstormed on the lightings outlay and design (with occasional disagreements) - went to Ikea to get the lightings - had lunch at his parent's place - went over to Uncle Bala and Aunty Veni's house and had dinner with them.

Day 5 (Monday): The contractors dropped by in the morning to repair the master bedroom aircon unit which was leaking - went to Ikea again to get the Basisk pendant lights which was out-of-stock on Sunday - had lunch with Alred's good friend, Tat Mun and his wife at Marche's , 1 Utama- received a call from the contractor saying that they've fixed the leak in the air con and also the water heater - we were so elated that they didn't have to hack the wall for the repair work - watched Marley and Me at KLCC (which is just 10 mins walk from our condo) - had dinner at Chilli's - I enjoyed my salad to the max.

Tuesday: I took a bus back to Melaka.

I told Alfred that we should take one step at a time and not be stressed out- after all, this is the experience that we should cherish every step of the way. - will post the pictures of the vacant unit soon.

Idaman Residence

Last Thursday, we finally got the key to our apartment - after months and months of waiting. We were anticipating the day to tour around the apartment and finally the day arrived :) The Idaman Residence - located in KLCC, City Centre - is going to be our new home. The unit comes equipped with refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, waste disposal machine, air-con units, and water heater. I love the balcony - it's huge. Love the master bathroom as well. The kitchen cabinet installed is in pure white - simple and nice.

And the best part of it was that we were the first person to move in to wash and clean our unit. We brought in some lamps to 'camp' in the apartment just for the sake of it. The contractors and the management guys were smitten by our excitement and enthusiasm, hehe. They exclaimed 'Wah, going to move in already ah? How? No light and furnitures!" We just casually said "Oh, that's okay, we brought in some table lamps".

After camping-in there, we understood why they were all surprised at our moving-in-right-now-act. There were still some last-minute QC work and minor repair work to be don- the condo was not fully ready for occupancy - we learned it the hard way, haha, after the attempt of staying over there for a couple of nights. First day - the water suddenly stopped in the middle of showering - and I was standing there stark naked with shampoo on my hair and foam on my body. And I waited and waited - and it all turned out hilarious as I laughed out loud - had to use the drinking water to wash myself. And then we got stuck at the unit floor because the lift was not working - and we were on the 18th floor! The Murphy's law started executing itself. A string of funny events - to reminiscence and laugh at in the future.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Last week, I was with Alfred for his sixth cycle of chemo out of 8 - our routine since last September. There will be 2 more chemotherapies - and then the road towards recovery with prayers and good health, and all the good things to come. Thank you all for your prayers and for continuing to pray for us.