Monday, February 27, 2006

achy breaky parts

After 4 months of infrequent gym visits and pigging out (in addition to wallowing in self-pity every few days), I've been slowly getting back into the routine of early morning workouts at the gym. I still can't do my 5km under 40 minutes, it takes me an hour these days. In time, I guess. Or maybe I'll just stick to a 10-minute jog each time and move on to another discipline like rowing or something.

Anyway, I used to do quite a bit of yoga as well before I quit my previous job and moved on to this one. The gym just 2 doors down from my old workplace had pretty good yoga instructors, and had more classes compared to the one that's downstairs my current office. After I'd moved to working outside of KL, my yoga practice had been slowly declining. The excuses were that there weren't any good instructors at the gym I usually frequent now, and it's too far to travel to the other ones. The truth is, I'd got used to a few teachers who now have their own yoga studio at Plaza Damas - Jiva Studio, just opposite of Hartamas Shopping Centre.

Sunday morning, I joined Serena for a yoga session in Vinyasa alignment (Vinyasa: a steady flow of connected yoga postures linked with breath work in a continuous movement). Usually Vincent conducts the class, but he was away on leave so Jazzamine took over for that session.

Being familiar with the basic and a few intermediate poses, I could follow the class with ease. Except... I have not been regularly stretching and practicing by myself at home, so after half an hour into the poses, I was beginning to feel tired. My thighs were screaming for rest at Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose), my arms were shaking while doing Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose). I wasn't panting, but my breathing wasn't as deep as it should be either.

Oh, but no no no... I couldn't stop there. I was so gung-ho about making sure I fully participated in class to make my visit worth while, I kept going on with the half-contortionist poses, even when my arms couldn't hold me up much anymore and I was collapsing close to the floor while doing Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose).

All that time, although I felt tired, my limbs weren't aching. I was still game enough to do Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) with a little help in getting my feet up against the wall; Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand), and Halasana (Plow Pose) towards the end of practice.

And today...

24 hours later...

My arms, chest and back are as stiff as boards! Ha-ha! I grunt and sigh almost orgasmically trying to reach behind with my hand to scratch my back. Everything that required stretching was in slow motion. It was either that, or rubbing my back against a corner of a pillar akin to a bear rubbing up against a tree.

I've packed my gym bag for an early-morning run on the treadmill tomorrow to ease up the stiff muscles. Hope I don't oversleep... *teehee*!

Pictures from Yoga Journal and Savasa.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

el cerdo

Before I begin, I must apologise to my Muslim readers, this is going to be a non-halal post. And to my vegetarian readers too. Minta maaf, ya.

For the rest, let me tell you about El Cerdo.

"Come join us for porkies on Saturday night!" invited Serena.


Ok, I'm game for a little pork for dinner.

We met up with a few other friends at El Cerdo (which means "the pig" in Spanish). I didn't know what to expect at this restaurant, I thought it was going to be just another place serving some pork chops with chips and salad.

Boy, was I wrong.

The first thing that met my eyes was this bright, red sign that boasts "El Cerdo - Pork Specialties from the West". At the bottom a cute little round sign - which I took it symbolise a pig's snout - had "Porkielicious Dishes" on it. Ah. More than just pork chops, eh?

The ambience is nice and cosy; warm lighting, walls decorated with pictures and drawings of adorable piglets, and nice, big tables with lots of elbow space. I was taken in with the place at once. I didn't snap any photos of the restaurant, however, since I didn't want people to think me as a pork-paparazzi or something.

I let my friends - Serena, Andrew, Eric and Veron - do the ordering since they'd been there before and knew what was hot and what was not. Moreover, I was distracted by a hanging ornament of carved pigs with wings, with little feathers as tails that twirled as the air-conditioner blew in their direction. If pigs could fly indeed.

I was so busy chatting with my friends, I didn't know what we had ordered until the first appetizer came along. I had snapped a portion of their menu to remind myself of the names of a few dishes, but unfortunately I didn't catch the names for these three starters:

This dish is had shredded pork that was cooked a little bit like how the Malays cook serunding (meat floss). You could opt to eat it just like that, or even better, with some bread. Tastes absolutely delicious! My mouth is watering just remembering how the saltiness of the meat tickled my taste buds.

The rolls were served with guacamole salsa, similar to how nachos are usually served, minus the sour cream.

We had another starter - yummy, spicy sausages with bacon. This one's quite garlic-ky too, but not too much until it overshadows the spicy flavour. The bacon is fried till crispy; I do so loved crunching down on them!

For the main course, we had:

- Marinated & Seasoned Pork Shoulder Steak -
Apparently, this pork shoulder is marinated for 48 hours with paprika, herbs, onions, garlic and mild dijon mustard. Very, very tasty! Not over-cooked, hence none of the toughness you might've anticipated.

- Puerco en Mole Poblano -
Pork in Mexican chilli and chocolate sauce. I know what might be running through your mind right now - chocolate sauce for cooking? I was a little sceptical at first, but was willing to give it a go. The chunks of meat were cooked till tender, and the chocolate sauce gave it a very distinct taste, not exactly sweet yet not quite salty either. Sort of savoury, chocolaty, sweet all mixed together to become a very unique flavour.

I totally forgot to take a picture of two dishes until it was all gone, ha-ha! These two were:

- Ong's Steak -
Another marinated pork shoulder steak, this time cooked with bacon, a slice of smoked ham on top, onion, garlic and baked with cheese. We asked the chef Werner J Kuhn, a German, why he called it such. He said that his friend Ong came into his restaurant one day and wanted to eat something, but didn't know exactly what to chew on. Werner then cooked up this lovely creation for his friend, thus named Ong's Steak.

- Hickory Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs -
Grilled in spices, fine herbs, chutney and rum. Nice, but somehow I prefer the ones served at the Rib Shop at Damansara Heights.

Needless to say, we were all porked-out after eating all that meat (well, at least I was). But being the gluttons we were, we just had to order dessert to finish off the meal.

Check out our Baked Apple with Cream Caramel. The apple's not too sweet, baked till soft, divine with ice cream.

And an absolute must-have: Chocolate Terrine, served with vanilla sauce and mint ice cream. Imagine this - a nice chocolate slice, more firm than mousse yet softer than a block of chocolate, instantly melts in your mouth, and together with the mint ice cream it's almost like eating after-dinner mint chocs. Except a hundred times better!

I'd recommend this place to any of my non-Muslim, non-vegetarian friends & readers. The meat is never tough, always tender, and doesn't have any of that "sou mei" (overly meaty taste). If you're not a fan of pork, they do serve other meat like lamb. Call them for reservations, they're really, really packed!

52 Jalan Tengkat Tong Shin, Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2145 0511

Babe in the City also did a review on El Cerdo. Read about it here!



Saturday, February 25, 2006

lemon poppy seed muffins

Do you know the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man
O do you know the Muffin Man who lives in Drury Lane?

Baker May strikes again! I bought these pack of poppy seeds awhile back, thinking I could bake some bagels and use these seeds as a garnish. I didn't have much time to spend on baking today, and bagels take at least 3 hours to get done. Well then, what else could I do with poppy seeds?

I remember eating delicious lemon poppy seed muffins from Muffin Break while I was in Sydney. Oh, the craving's back! Ok then, today we'll make some lemon poppy seed muffins. A quick search on the Internet, and I found one from Recipe Source (visit this page for the original).

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons rated lemon rind

For the syrup:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
  2. In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  3. In large bowl, beat oil with sugar, eggs, buttermilk or yogurt, poppy seeds and lemon peel.
  4. Add dry ingredients to large bowl and combine just until moistened.
  5. Spoon batter into 12 large non-stick, lightly oiled or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in preheated 400F/200C oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, bring lemon juice and sugar to boil. Cool for a few minutes.
  7. When muffins come out of oven, prick in a few places with toothpick. Spoon syrup over top and allow to soak into muffins. Cool and remove muffins from pan.
The batter can also be baked in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (2L loaf pan) for 45 to 50 minutes.

Tangy, yummy muffins! The poppy seeds give them a slight crunch, and unlike strawberry & raspberry seeds, they don't stick between your teeth. I couldn't find buttermilk in any supermarket, so I opted for the low-fat yoghurt. They're kind of spongy and springy, not really cake-like compared to store-bought muffins. I wonder if the yoghurt had anything to do with the different texture?

I used the mid-sized, 12-muffin tray instead of the jumbo 6-muffin tray. Instead of making 12 like what the recipe indicated, I was able to make 20 mid-sized muffins. Maybe it's because I only filled each hole with 1/2 to 3/4 batter. If you want those with a little spillover crust all around, then fill the holes up to the brim. Watch them overflow in the oven!

A little side-note on the muffin trays:
I couldn't find these non-stick muffin trays in a lot of local supermarkets which stock the regular tin tart trays. I finally made a trip to Ikea and bought mine for RM29 each. Chan Tung sells the same kind for less than RM24 (haiya, should've bought from them instead!). Giant Supermarket at Klang Parade also sells these muffin trays for about the same price.

Oh yes, you might find that you'll have a lot of the lemon syrup left after drizzling a good amount of it over your muffins. Add some of it to a glass of cold water or two, and... ta-dahhh! You've got yourself some good ol' zesty lemonade... *winks*!

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Friday, February 24, 2006

almost famous

Simple American made his first tag on me with this meme.

Here is how the meme works. Let’s say you are in an alternate universe. One almost exactly like this one, except perhaps you NEVER ever met your significant other. You are a single guy or gal without a any current relationship, and you have just published a New York Times bestseller. A movie studio brought you to Hollywood to talk about a movie deal for three days, and as part of the wooing process they offer to host a one-on-one dinner each night with the celebrity of your choice. Who would you pick? It could be a star you want to have a shot at “hooking up” with, or it could just be someone you admire.

Day One:
Steven Spielberg. If I'm gonna get someone to direct my movie, it'd better be an Oscar-winning director, right? I'd ask him to spiff it up where a little on-screen magic is required, with all those special effects his production team could whip up. Even if my story doesn't need any of those fancy-schmancy stuff. A bit of glitter won't hurt. Oh, and E.T. could make a special guest appearance in my movie too.

Day Two:
Angelina Jolie. Because she a total babe and she rocks! Oh, and maybe I could ask for her to bring along her supposedly-other-half Brad Pitt too, so that'd be killing 2 stars with one dinner, wouldn't it? Not cheating. Fair is fair, the invitation's extended to the other half*. Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

* Terms & Conditions apply. They both have to be superstars. And good-looking. And... whatever.

Day Three:
Orlando Bloom**. If I could be a famous writer in this parallel world, then he'll be my swashbuckling hubby. He can prance around in tights, bows and arrows for all I care (re: Legolas), and no matter what people say, he's a better curly brunette than he is a straight-haired blonde. Look at those eyes! The charm! The smile! Swoon... Muah muah muah!

**I would've picked Heath Ledger, but too bad that guy's already taken. With a baby too.

And whom would you choose for your dinner party?


Thursday, February 23, 2006

the highs and lows

The Highs
They say that by exercising, the body produces endorphins, which are like painkillers, thus "numbing" the brain, and gives the exerciser a natural high. This in turn has the effects of a general boost in mood and happiness.

The right kind of music could elevate one's mood. No need for any kind of research for everyone to agree on this fact.

Current research indicates that chocolate is a weak stimulant because of its content of theobromine, which includes the similar compounds theophylline and caffeine. Theobromine is a mild, lasting stimulant with a mood improving effect. Consuming chocolates supposedly trigger dopamine release in the brain's reinforcement systems – an effect, albeit a legal one, similar to that of opium.

The Lows
I went to the gym this morning, did a 10-minute run and another 12 minutes on rowing. I didn't quite get the happy buzz that expectedly kicks in after exercising. Instead, 10 minutes on the treadmill felt like torture; I'd lost the stamina I had built up over the last year in just 3 months of irregular gym visits. In fact, it was as if I couldn't wait to give up, get off that machine and hide in the shower.

I started the day listening to upbeat music whilst driving to the office / gym. The radio had the regular hits on, but my mind tuned out in just 5 minutes into the programme. My iPod filled my ears with sounds of Iron & Wine later after lunch, and though I'd let it play through all the available tracks, my fingers automatically searched the menu and selected a more sombre Damien Rice towards evening. So much for happy tunes.

During lunch break I popped by Giant to get a bulb replacement for the fused one in my table lamp. My legs took me to the snacks section where I picked up a box of Lemon Cheesecake Kit Kat, and two varieties of Ritter Sport. I consumed two sticks of Kit Kat, and 4 squares each of Ritter Sport Yogurt and Dark Chocolate. I settled down to wait for that high. Nope... didn't quite arrive.

The day was a little mundane, normal, nothing out of the ordinary. It could even be said that it was pretty good, considering that there wasn't any urgent work to be done; no need for a late night at the desk.

Yet somehow... something's missing.

JoMel wrote, "It's when you are giddy with too much laughter, yet being hugely aware of the feeling of hollowness within."

Well, this was one of those days for me.

It was raining when I was driving home in my car. Both outside and in.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

all hail the tooth


After much uninstalling, reinstalling, restarting and configuring the settings on BlueSoleil as well as the latest version of the Nokia PC Suite (V6.7), I finally have connection between my phone and my laptop, thanks to a very patient, very far away iJun via instant messenger.

I am humbled by his step-by-step analysis of the problem at hand, trying everything possible and making it work 100%. I would've thrown it out a long time ago, ha-ha! By midnight I could browse most of the data on the phone with the exception of Contacts and Sync. Some tweaking I had to do which called for a restart (for the 8th time), so I left it till this morning. After that tweaking and all, I'm happy to report that I can now Sync as well as edit my Contacts list on my laptop... *big grin*

Ok ok, I'll spare you all those tech details which would just bore you to tears. Instead, I'll post up some pictures which I’ve snapped with my phone these couple of days. So nice, can download and share with all of you! (Not very clear, but who cares...)

This one's for Jimbo... My boots! See them peekin' out from under my jeans?

At my workplace...
  • Top left: Tinkering around with the Nokia PC Suite
  • Top right: The two monsters I picked up in London, taking care of my unconsumed Bintang Zero from Bali
  • Bottom left: Had an English muffin with butter for breakfast yesterday!
  • Bottom right: A rose for Valentine's day

* * *

Now, maybe I should consider synchronising my PDA data via Bluetooth as well... (I foresee another headache up ahead! Eeks!)

p.s. Thank you, iJun korkor! I lap you!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

where's my tooth?

I recently bought over iJun's less than 1-year old Nokia 6230i to replace my working-but-getting-cranky Nokia 8250 (nicknamed the Butterfly phone with the first blue screen). It has pretty nifty functions - 1.3megapixel camera, bluetooth, IR, radio, oh all those things that they've built inside but I probably wouldn't use 80% of the time.

Eager to do some file transfers like photos and cute wallpapers to my "new" phone (oh yea, and do some data backup too), I picked up a USB Bluetooth dongle from Mid Valley Megamall yesterday. Being the cheapskate that I am (sometimes), I settled for a RM50, "Tiny Tech" branded dongle that looked like it could do the job. Made in China. Then again, everything's made in China these days. After all, it's just an additional antenna that connects all the other devices, right?


Took me a couple of hours installing the driver from the little CD that came with the dongle. It kept prompting that the software wasn't Windows XP security something or other approved, and I kept clicking "Install Anyway". Oh, get on with it now!

Finally after all that clicking and rebooting, I tried connecting to my phone. Uik? Hmmmm... Sometimes the dongle could detect the phone, sometimes it couldn't. And when it did, it couldn't quite connect to my ring-ring. Even after pairing. Even after typing in a passkey. Even after checking and re-checking all the configuration on both the phone, the Nokia PC Suite, and re-installing the supposedly BlueSoleil application for the Bluetooth dongle (the dongle's not a BlueSoleil product, though).


Ok, ok... maybe it's my phone. I tried to connect to my colleague Julie's SonyEricsson phone to see if the dongle would work with hers instead. *click click click*... Still can't! Phone to phone, yes. Phone to my PDA, yes. PDA to my phone, yes. Anything to my PC / dongle... No.


Serves me right for picking up a lauyah no-name dongle. I think I'll pop by the shop again and see if I could exchange it for a so-called better one tomorrow evening after work. Would've done the exchange today but I didn't bring the receipt with me... duh. Pray that they'll be kind enough to allow the exchange, otherwise, there goes RM50 down the drain. I'll definitely pick up a so-called better one next time, like Belkin (a whopping RM199!) or Billionton (checking price on Low Yat's site... RM50 for the 100M dongle! Same price as this no-name dongle! I feel so cheated...). Any other recommendations? Bright ideas? Help me troubleshoot?

I could almost hear my Tech Admin say...
"It's not a PC / device problem, it's a user problem..."

Gee, thanks.

*grumble grumble*

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

unanswered questions part IV

Here's the fourth and final set of answers to...

...questions from Jane Sunshine:

1. What is your one biggest indulgence and why?
I have quite few moderate indulgences, not quite one that's absolutely the biggest. I'll name 5:
- Coffee (I absolutely love the bittersweet taste, with sugar & milk of course.)
- Shoes (I can always wear them even if I've put on weight, unlike clothes! I just bought a pair of Nine West boots today... *teehee*!)
- Music (I have many, many CDs burned with my mp3 files.)
- Photography (I take pictures of everything that piques my interest with my handy Nikon 5200.)
- Internet (Of all things! Shocking, but true. I can't help being wired, it somehow makes me feel closer to the world where everything's just a few clicks away.)

2. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with the money and why?
Give 100k (or more, if that's not enough) to my mum to spend on anything she wants. She had sacrificed so much for me, and though I know money is never enough a payment, at least she could freely indulge in things she never could before. Oh yes... my brothers and dad gets some, too!

Donate to animal welfare and NPOs like WWF, orphanages and old folks' homes.

Buy nice a cosy little home, lovely gifts for friends, a cute zippy car like the Mini Cooper (although it's really too overpriced here), travel more.

Invest the rest of it for a rainy day while letting it earn high interest for me, so I won't ever have to slave away at a job for a high salary to fund for my expensive hobbies. I'd still have a job, of course, but something that'll give me more time to myself.

3. Would you choose a guy for money or looks? If so, why?
If I were bold enough, I'd say money, because then he would be able to spend it on plastic surgery and beauty products to make himself look good! Ha-ha! Oh, that was so superficial and naughty of me.

Ok ok, on a more serious note... Now, which is the lesser of two evils? Let's see... I'd say it doesn't matter as long as we love each other. We can always earn more money if we need it, and it's the inner-beauty that I value more than a beautiful facade.

4. You meet the perfect guy. He is funny, kind and loves you from the bottom of his heart. The problem is that he wants you to move with him to Botswana. Would you?
I'd say, "When are we moving, honey?" I think I should be able to make a few sacrifices. I've never been to Botswana, so I can't pass judgement of it until I've lived there for awhile. As long as there's Internet connection! And if I find I don't like it there, I should be able to convince him to move back to KL or a place of my choice. He is, after all, the perfect guy... so he should be willing to do anything for me! *cheeky grin*

5. You meet the perfect guy (again!). He turns out to be your boyfriend's best friend. What would do?
This is a hard one. I can only give a hypothetical answer, since I've not been caught in this sort of situation before. Ahem...

Out of respect, I'd try to work things out with Mr Boyfriend, and not pursue Mr Best Friend. I'm sure I would've had my reasons for being with Mr Boyfriend in the first place. I'd hate to be caught between two good friends, and put a friendship at stake.

BUT! If the feeling's mutual and Mr Best Friend fairly contests for my affections with Mr Boyfriend, then may the best man win. Of course, since Mr Best Friend is the perfect guy, guess who's going to be the triumphant winner? I know inevitably that someone's going to get hurt, and though I wouldn't that to happen, it can't be helped. Sigh!

Hmmmm... does that make me sound selfish? Oh dear. I hope I'll never be caught in this sort of dilemma!

* * *

And that concludes our Q&A session. Thank you for participating, see you soon!


unanswered questions part III

Here's the third set of answers to...

...questions from Nine3Nine4:

Why 9394 call you SW?
Because 9394 thinks I climb the rocks the way Spider-Man goes up the walls. And since I'm not a man, I'd have to be called Spider-Woman (SW, lah)!

Why Rock Climbing?
I never thought I'd go into rock climbing as a sport about 10 years ago. It wasn't until this guy, whom I dated for a couple of months in Uni, introduced me to it. He's a great rock climber himself and taught me to appreciate the sport. There are various degrees of difficulty, and you do the best of your abilities. No time limit, no finish line, no one to compete with but yourself (unless you're into competitions).

Which place you dream you like to rock climb?
Yosemite in US, and Arapiles in Australia.

Why biking?
I've always wanted to be able to ride a bike. It looked so easy when Lance Armstrong was doing it! Since I was game in learning how to ride, why not take it further and go off-road biking? It's a very different and far more interesting scene when you're riding downhill on a pebbly or muddy track, dodging big stones and tree roots along the way. Sure beats dodging traffic in town. And it gives me a sense of accomplishment ("I burnt 300 calories on that uphill!").

Why Blog?
I wanted a way to express how I felt and what I was going through if and when something happens in my life. More often than not, when we meet up with people, they always ask, "So how have you been? What've you been up to?" If I didn't have a blog, I'd go, "Oh, nothing much..."

But now that I have one and some of my friends actually read it, they ask me different questions - What happened there? Why did you do this / that? - and it sort of helps fill in the blanks which I usually don't elaborate in an ordinary conversation.

Why you join in the singing in LinPeh CNY blogger sing song?
Because Lin Peh put my name big-big on his blog, saying that he was expecting some of us (me included) to send in our recordings but didn't! I felt bad, so I thought I'd do what I could to help him out.

...questions from Kat:

1. When did you start baking?
I can't remember if I've ever baked as a child. I definitely did help make cookies during CNY once in awhile, but I started baking cakes, bread and what not sometime in November 2005 because I had a craving for bagels. From there, I just started looking for more recipes which were interesting enough to satisfy my taste buds.

2. What was the first thing you ever baked?
Sticky date pudding. I wanted to try out something easy before diving into complicated bagel-making.

3. What was the first SUCCESSFUL thing you ever baked?
That would have to be the sticky date pudding as well. I first had a taste of sticky date pudding many, many years ago, made by my friend's mother. It's different from what I remembered it to be, but that's probably because she had a different recipe altogether.

4. What was the most special thing you baked and why?
Zucchini brownies. Because I've never heard of using zucchini to make brownies, ha-ha! Oh, and bagels too - because it reminds me of my trip to London where I had packed bagel sandwiches for lunch almost every day.

5. What thing do you want to bake but haven't due to high level of difficulty?
Oh, lots! English muffins, crumpets and pretzels are part of the list. Looking at the amount of effort, it just makes me put it off for another day when I feel gung-ho about making something different. For now I'll just go to the nearest bakery or supermarket for some instant gratification.

6. What drives you to bake? Other than hunger, obviously!!
Honestly? I don't know! I just feel like making something with my hands. And I like feeding people with my goodies, if they turned out ok, that is. Makes me happy seeing them enjoying something I made.

7. What is your favourite baking recipe?
Gingerbread cookies. It's simple to follow, and I just love chewy cookies.

8. If someone special wants to bake you something, what would it be and why?
I'd say, surprise me. If it were someone special baking something just for me, anything would be great... *wink*!

p.s. Jane, answers to your question in the next post, those require a little more thinking... *ahem*!

* * *

If you're wondering what this post is about, it's a follow up for an invite I did here. Feel free to ask. Q&A session closes on Sunday, 5 p.m.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

unanswered questions part II

Here's the second set of answers to...

...questions from Fantasyflier:

What are the top five countries you’ve visited?
I haven't been to many places, to be honest. If it were countries, then it'd be Australia, England, Singapore, Hong Kong, China. As for cities or towns, then it would be Kuala Lumpur (I think it deserves a spot here!), Sydney, London, Singapore, Manila.

What's your favourite place to visit more than once?
Ipoh, where I could visit my friends, eat Ipoh “hor fun”, drink "pak kopi" (white coffee), and munch on kaya on toasted hainan-style bread.

What five things do you still have, bought from the places you visited?
Pooch from Sydney,
iPod from Singapore,
Cartoon cookie tins from Phuket,
Leather coin wallet from Manila,
Muji scented candle from London.

What five places do you want to visit before you croak?
Trek up Annapurna in Nepal, see the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, enjoy the breathtaking scenery in New Zealand, maybe a visit to Brazil, and if I strike it rich, definitely Bora Bora.

What is the most memorable place you’ve ever been to, good and bad?
Good - Diving in Sipadan. Such magnificent beauty beneath the ocean is definitely the best experience so far, with those jacks, barracudas, nudibranches, turtles and so, so very much more. Of course, every other place I've visited each carry a special memory.

Bad - I haven't had a bad experience in any of my travels. Small hiccups, maybe. Nothing that I would make me vow never to go to that place again.

...questions from JoMel:

Why do you describe yourself as:
1. Cheeky?
I can be cheeky sometimes when it's least expected (and at times I surprise even myself!). I don't do it often, and only to my close friends and family where I'm able to boldly tease without getting into trouble!

2. Weird?
I think I'm a qualified weirdo since I eat durian with a spoon on a plate. And I still talk to my stuffed toys, especially my three woofs. On the most insane days, I talk to my imaginary friend whomever that may be. Sometimes it could even be the Queen of England.

3. Melancholic?
I tend to get mood swings every once in awhile. Generally an emotional person, although I try not to scare people away by (unsuccessfully) trying to hide it a bit. I'm often affected by things I see, hear or read about. Sometimes it just strikes out of the blue, that one moment where I suddenly find myself in the depths of melancholy.

...questions from Simple American:

What uni did you attend?
I attended the University of Technology, Sydney. It was a twinning programme, which meant that I did 3 semesters (1.5 years) here in a local college, and another 3 semesters in Sydney itself.

What major field of study?
I'm a Bachelor of Business graduate, with combined major in Accounting & Finance. I've forgotten how to balance the accounts now.

First job out of college?
An Associate Consultant in Computer Assurance Services for (then) Coopers & Lybrand, which subsequently merged with Price Waterhouse to become PricewaterhouseCoopers. Why did I take on something that's totally not in my field of study? I don't know. I just decided to take the jump, and haven't regretted my move. Oddly enough, I didn't know scratch about computers when I started except how to chat on IRC and send e-mails. I struggled for about 3 months trying to understand the basics - the difference between an operating system and an application, learning about security controls, what computer operations entail, etc. I still can't do any programming, but at least I'm ok in HTML.

If you could redo one thing in your life what would that be?
I don't know. Probably nothing. If I did re-do something in my life, I wouldn't be where I am now. And where I am is pretty good, a blessing compared to the less fortunate. (Ok, maybe I wouldn't have played "wheelbarrow" with my brother when I was 8, so I wouldn't have a broken front tooth followed by multiple visits to the dentist for the next 4 years.)

Why don't you smack those boys when they call you an old woman?
Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. I just need to give them the stare of death the next time I see them. They know they have it coming.

When are you coming to Texas?
Are you inviting me to stay? I wouldn't mind if a sugar daddy offers to sponsor my trip! But seriously, I'd love to visit the US someday.

* * *

If you're wondering what this post is about, it's a follow up for an invite I did here. Feel free to ask. Q&A session closes on Sunday, 5 p.m.


unanswered questions part I

Here's the first set of answers to...

...questions from LB:

Do you own your own car?
Yes, a Kancil 850. Very light lilac colour. Old but zippy.

What's your fave dish?
I have quite a few favourites, really depending on what my appetite calls for. Since the question came from you, I immediately thought of "har kau"! I love the ones they serve in the Chinese restaurants in Sydney's Chinatown.

Do you swim?
Yes, I learnt how to swim when I was about 6 years old.

Have you got a fave flower?
Gerberas and white lilies. Lately I've taken a liking to orchids because of my brother's hobby - we have a little corner full of his babies - and my friend's passion for it as well.

Where's the most romantic place in KL for you?
Almost anywhere could be the most romantic place if I'm with the person I love, despite being amidst the crowds, the noise, and the smog... *wink*! But if I absolutely must choose a spot, then it'd be... at home, cosying up. If it were in Sydney, however, it'd be either at Darling Harbour eating gelato, or at Blues Point looking out to the Harbour Bridge at night. If it were London, it'd have to be Kew Gardens on a sunny, breezy autumn day.

What expensive item would you buy first when you strike 1st prize of $1,000,000.00?
Macbook! Seriously! And for a more tasteful instant gratification, a pair of diamond earrings, because I don't have any. And something lovely for my mum.

Would you rather be in Malaysia or England?
England for the beautiful parks, Malaysia for the delicious food.

When did you first fall in love?
I suppose it would be fair to say, when I first started dating seriously, so... when I was 18.

What is your brand of lipstick?
I use a lot of different brands - Body Shop, Revlon, Clinique among others. But for lipbalm, I love using Palmer's moisturising lip balm with their cocoa butter formula.

Why would you fall in love at first sight?
Because then I wouldn't have to play any hard-to-get games with the other person.

... a question from MK:

Do you think that blogging is a "fad" and will eventually fizzle out?
No. It's quite here to stay, at least for the next year or so. Blogging these days isn't solely just for recording one's personal reflections; a lot of large companies, politicians, advertisers, etc are moving into this method to reach out to more and more people, at a very much faster pace. Even Dilbert has a blog! We also just started a project that involves setting up a blog for our Client to post on their news and happenings more spontaneously.

... questions from Nutjob:

Who is the nicest indian guy u know?
I have my favourites. You are amongst them.

Who is the most handsome shaven (top head) guy you know?
Patrick Stewart. I'm sure he does have to shave those stray strands.

When you are drunk, if ever, which of your friends right now would you trust the most to get you home safely, even if you might throw yourself at them?
Throw myself at them? Or do you mean, throw up on them? If it's the former - I would've been too drunk to do anything, least of all "throw myself at them". Probably lying in the gutter somewhere until someone picks me up. If it's the latter - my ex-boyfriend. He's one person I still trust very much to get me safely home when I'm wasted.

Who smells like Davidoff cologne at all times and gets you all happy seeing him?
Wot, you use Davidoff?

Who is so full of crap he just writes without thinking twice in your blog, other than Ikan?
Oh, this just has to be you!

If you needed someone to drive you at very high speeds on the highway to get to a destination, who would you trust?
Michael Schumacher. He is, after all, the world F1 champion.

To be continued...

* * *

If you're wondering what this post is about, it's a follow up of an invite I did here. Feel free to ask. Q&A session closes on Sunday, 5 p.m.


Friday, February 17, 2006

q & a

Ask me (almost) anything*.

Q & A will be updated to this post a couple of times a day.

If I get enough questions, that is...

* All questions would have to be PG-rated (or close enough). I'll try to answer them as honestly as possible, however if they are in any way too sensitive or inappropriate, it'll be my discretion not to reply. Be nice, now...


Thursday, February 16, 2006

old is gold

Busy, busy, busy!

That's my week at work. I haven't had much time to really mull on what to write, so here's a filler post, sort of. Tagged by Selba, it's (almost) quite easy... Oh hang on, I still need to dig my 1980s and 1990s memory bank for the answers! And because I'm such an old fogy, I've named more than just 1 for some of them... ha-ha!

Name a(n)...

1. Actor of the Old Days that you missed the most
Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), Michael J. Fox (Family Ties), Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Houser, MD)

2. Cartoon of the Old Days
Thundercats, He-Man, She-Ra, Transformers, Care Bears, My Little Pony... (Ackkk!!! They're flooding my mind as I write this!)

3. Singer/group of the Old Days
Phil Collins, Gloria Estefan, Duran Duran, Peter Cetera, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD)

4. Band of the Old Days
Toto, Chicago, Miami Sound Machine

5.TV Series of the old days
MacGuyver (loved all that DIY moments!), Knight Rider (can't believe I found David Hasselhoff dashing at that time), The A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Airwolf (wasn't Jan Michael Vincent so, so gorgeous?), The Equalizer, Family Ties, Full House, Alf, Three's Company... haiya, the list will never end!

6. Actress of the Old Days
Justine Bateman (Family Ties). I didn't like any one else much. I'm also too lazy to think right now.

7. Fashion of the Old Days that you miss the most
Well, let's see... there were those huge shoulder pads, big frizzy hair, denim jackets, lots of cheap bling, hoop earrings... nah, don't think I'll miss any!

8. Movie of the Old Days
I didn't watch that many movies when I was young. A lot of movie-length cartoons though. Hmmmm... does Secret of Nymph count? And The Rescuers? And The Black Cauldron? And An American Tail?

9. Music Video of the Old Days
True Blue (Madonna), Rio (Duran Duran)

10. Coolest Song of the Old Days
Don't get me started. I can list out so many from my iPod playlist. But just to humour you, one from my top love songs list... "Eternal Flame" - The Bangles. And "If You Leave" - OMD. And a few hundred more.



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

cupid's theme

But of course I'll post about love songs on Valentine's Day!

Despite it being one of the most overrated and overpriced days of the year, there's still a bit of novelty in it. Nevermind if the roses cost RM10 per stalk, or if dinner for two is more than what would've been enough to feed a table of 6. It's still a great excuse to show the utmost appreciation to your beloved, be it a single bud or an entire rose garden.

LB and 5xmom have both put up their lists, and some commenters have thrown in their favourites. I have my own which, depending on the kind of mood I'm in, gets me into a dreamy, romantic state of mind. Sometimes they're the upbeat, happy tunes that put that grin on my face, other times it'll have to be a slow number to get me smiling. Going through my list, I'm surprised at how many of them are from movie soundtracks. I guess, putting them in a certain situation (albeit played by fictitious characters in a fictitious story), it just made me appreciate the songs more. There are so many out there, but only a handful made it to my Top 10.

Ok, ok...

Top 20.

In no particular order for the last 15...

And now, the top 5.

#5: It Had To Be You - Frank Sinatra
Where else but in Sleepless In Seattle? That version was by Harry Connick Jr. Rod Stewart made a pretty good cover. I'm sticking with Frankie's original.

#4: Lady In Red - Chris De Burgh
Working Girl. Melanie Griffith. Harrison Ford. I don't know why I love this song. I just do. Yes, and the movie too.

#3: The Nearness Of You - Sheena Easton
I first heard this song in the movie Indecent Proposal, when Demi Moore was dining with Robert Redford. It's sung by Sheena Easton, and though I'd much prefer her version, Norah Jones seemed to be the more known artist for it.

#2: Someone Like You - Van Morrison
The song at the end of Bridget Jones's Diary. Oh, Colin Firth, my Mr. Darcy. Not all hope is lost after all.

#1: The Way You Look Tonight - Tony Bennett
The very romantic song where Rupert Everett danced with Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding. It wasn't so much of the movie, but the song itself, that's enraptured my heart. I too, hope to dance to it someday.

Happy Valentine's, love.



Sunday, February 12, 2006

bread ala jamie oliver style

Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh!

From the moment I read Jamie Oliver's recipe on banana and honey bread, and looked at that scrumptious, tantalising picture of his creation, I've been drooling non-stop and itching to try out the recipe. Despite having to work in the morning, I was still gung-ho in getting my hands and elbows dusted with flour.

It starts off with his basic bread recipe, and with a bit of variation it becomes the yummy-licious, chewy banana bread. I've combined both into a single post, and edited a bit of commentary so it wouldn't appear too long. Do visit Jamie Oliver's site for the originals.

30g/1oz fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
625ml/just over 1 pint tepid water
1kg/just over 2lb strong bread flour
30g/1oz salt
6 bananas
8 tablespoons good, runny honey
Some extra flour for dusting
optional: 1 handful of almonds, cracked or chopped


Stage 1
Peel your bananas then puree them in a liquidizer or food processor. Pour it into a measuring jug, then top up with water until you have 625ml or just over 1 pint. Dissolve the yeast in half this banana liquid to flavour your bread and make it nice and chewy.

Stage 2
On a clean surface or in a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture. With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the centre moving outwards, slowly bringing in more and more of the flour until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the other half of the banana liquid into the centre and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough. (Certain flours may need a little more water, so don't be afraid to adjust the quantities.) Also add half the honey with the nuts to the dough.

Stage 3
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. This develops the gluten and the structure of the dough. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, just rub them together with a little extra flour.

Stage 4
Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of the dough. Make it into a roundish shape and place on a baking tray. Deeply score the dough with a knife - allowing it to relax and prove with ease. Leave it to prove until it's doubled in size. Ideally you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove. This proving process improves the flavour and texture of the dough and should take around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

Stage 5
When the dough has doubled in size you need to knock the air out of it by bashing it around for a minute. Divide the dough into 10 balls. Then pack these next to each other in a flour-dusted baking tin and leave it to prove for a second time until it doubles in size again.
Stage 6
Gently place it in the preheated oven, don't slam the door. Before putting in the oven drizzle generously with the rest of the honey so that the top of the bread will caramelize, going nice and golden. Bake in your preheated oven at 190°C/ 375°F/gas 5 for 20 minutes. You can tell if your bread is cooked by tapping its bottom (if it's in a tin you'll have to take it out). If it sounds hollow it's cooked, if it doesn't then pop it back in for a little longer. Place it on a rack to cool.


My bread didn't turn out that delicious-looking compared to his picture, but it tasted pretty good! Since I don't know how the original would really taste like... I take it that it's pretty much as yummy as it is now, except maybe the texture might've been a little less compact, a little more airy, perhaps?

I noticed that while kneading, the dough's pretty dry. Do add water until it becomes nice and stretchy. I think I added too little this time around. Either way, my "guinea pigs" (mum and aunt) gave one and a half thumbs up!

Heavenly with butter!

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

my morning indulgence


Had to come into work this morning. On a Saturday! You and me both, FantasyFlier. Since it doesn't happen very often, I don't quite mind, but I still could've caught another hour of sleep, laze around in bed for awhile, checked what's on telly a towards mid-morning, maybe go shopping later...


Luckily I had good coffee stashed in my drawer for those grumpy mornings.

Now this...
Is my morning indulgence.

Starbucks Colombia Nariño Supremo whole coffee beans, grounded.
My Bodum Kenya french press.

Two tablespoons of ground coffee... some hot water...
Brew for 5 to 10 minutes...

Oooh, look at that lovely stream...

Add some milk...


(Still doesn't quite take away the fact that I'm here at the office on a Saturday.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

the best heartbreak song goes to...

There've been a lot of lovey dovey songs posted out there to set the Valentine's Day mood. But wait... what about the broken-hearted? The jilted? The dumped?

No worries, honey. There are all those sad, heartache, love lost, miserable songs we oh-so-love to hear when we're feeling the blues.

Funny how when we're down and out, we seem to listen to more sad songs about breakups and anguish to help express our situation and our emotions during those turbulent times. I have so many favourites (not that I've been dumped many times, but they just sound so good you even sympathise with someone who'd be in similar position).

Well, without further ado, these are the few songs I've come across which, to me, deserve some credit in making our miserable lives even more miserable yet give us an outlet to pour out our anguish. Oh, there's just too many out there, really; especially since I've not even listed any of the oldies down here. I might even have given the "award" out to a non-so-deserving song. Being fair, you get to throw in your few titles of what you think should be part of this list. So come now, put in your nominations!

Best goodbye, I love you song
I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish to you, joy and happiness
But above all this, I wish you love
I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston

Best goodbye, I hate you song
Cause the joke that you laid on the bed that was me
And I'm not gonna fade
As soon as you close your eyes and you know it
And every time I scratch my nails down someone else's back
I hope you feel it... well can you feel it
You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette

Best I'm in denial song
Dreams last for so long
Even after you're gone
I know you love me
And soon I know you will see
You were meant for me
And I was meant for you
You Were Meant For Me - Jewel

Best misled love song
So why do you fill my sorrow
With the words you've borrowed
From the only place you've know
And why do you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you
Why'd you sing with me at all
Delicate - Damien Rice

Best please take me back song
Take back that sad word good-bye
Bring back the joy to my life
Don't leave me here with these tears
Come and kiss this pain away
Un-break My Heart - Toni Braxton

Best Motown heartbreak song
As I walk this land with broken dreams
I have visions of many things
Love's happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion
What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted - Jimmy Ruffin

Best can't forget you song
Your face it dances and it haunts me
Your laughter's still ringing in my ears
I still find pieces of your presence here
Even after all these years
I Just Don't Think I'll Get Over You - Colin Hay

Best wishful thinking song
There must be an angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you
But it's time to face the truth
I will never be with you
You're Beautiful - James Blunt

Best I'm moving on song
One last cry
Before I leave it all behind
I goota put you out of my mind
For the very last time
Stop living a lie
I guess I'm down to my last cry
One Last Cry - Brian McKnight

Best unrequited love song
But I was wrong, so wrong
That was just another song you wrote for another girl
And I hoped the day could be
When you'd write a song for me
But it never came
I thank you all the same
But I'll go now, so you won't know how much I...
Fallen For You - Shiela Nicholls

Oh, the special, Best heartbreak music video goes to...
Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
This one's absolutely brilliant! I can still remember the lyrics, see her face, watch the tear slide down her cheek...


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

good is good

I'm sure most of you would've read about Sheryl Crow's break up with cyclist Lance Armstrong just last week. I'm a fan of both. Good things do come to an end.

Back in November 2005 I went to Crow's concert with iJun. It was absolutely fantastic, considering I haven't been to a concert in the longest time - oh wait, there was Sting mid last year too - and if I wasn't much of a fan before that, I am now after her performance.

Listening to her songs bring back memories. Her Wildflower album would always do that. Perfect Lie sums it up very well. So does I Know Why.

Early this morning I was (and still am) plugged into my iPod, with Good is Good wafting through the earphones. I love the tune, I love the composition. Usually I just enjoy it as it is.

There was something about the song today that made me really listen to the lyrics. I did a search on the Net and checked it out. I couldn't help but feel shivers down my spine and feel a tightness in my throat. There's part of me in there.


Good is Good

Good is good and bad is bad
But you don't know which one you had
She put your books out on the sidewalk
Now they're blowing 'round
But they won't help you when you're down

Love's on your list of things to do
To bring your good luck back to you
And if you think that everything's unfair
Would you care if you're the last one standing there

And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn and run before the lightning strikes
And does it ever make you stop and wonder
If all your good times pass you by

I don't hold no mystery
But I can show you how to turn the key
'Cause all I know is where I started
So downhearted
And that's not where you want to be

And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn and run before the lightning strikes
And you could find a rock to crawl right under
And let your good times pass you by

When the day is done
And the world is sleeping
And the moon is on its way to shine
All your friends are gone
You thought were so worth keeping
You feel you don't belong
But you don't know why

And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn and run before the lightning strikes
And does it ever make you stop and wonder
If all your good times pass you by

Every time you hear the rolling thunder
And you turn and run before the lightning strikes
Well does it ever make you stop and wonder
If all your good times pass you by

When the day is done
And the world is sleeping
And the moon is on its way to shine, shine
And all your friends are gone
You thought were so worth keeping
You feel you don't belong
Neither do I

* * *


Monday, February 06, 2006

meet the "family"

Oh, wot the heck.

If LB, FantasyFlier, JoMel and Selba could show off their softer sides (literally), I think my scruffies deserve a post all for themselves too.


This is Pooch. Say hello, Pooch. *arf!*

He's been with me for the past... (counting)... 9 years. I knew I had to adopt him the moment I laid eyes on the darling canine in Granny May's (yes, there's such a store!) where I was working as a sales assistant in Sydney after completing university. His legs and bottom are laden with beans to keep him nicely grounded.

Being the oldie that he is, he gets top spot on my bed. Well actually, the bed's kinda his domain anyway, but he so generously shares it with two other woofs.

If you hold him up by his tail, he kinda flops down and looks at you with this silly smile. No matter how many times I've adoringly stared at him, turning his head this way and that, the smile never ceased to make my heart melt. It just beckons to me, "Wanna play?"

Oh. Sometimes he gets lazy and flops around like a cute retard. Now, who could resist this? (Ok, maybe it's just me.) He's shared a lot of my tears of late. I hope he hangs around long enough to share more joyous times too.

Then there's Patrick. I can't call him by any other name, since he has it sewn quite nicely on his hind paw, too. Then again, no other name would fit as well - "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." (quote from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet)

Patrick's a bit of a young 'un. He was lying low on a shelf in Memory Lane at Mid Valley Megamall last month, until I spied him at the back of the many other Patricks and brought him home with me. Why him? I dunno. Must've been his well-balanced looking nose (the others looked kinda weird and lopsided). Who could resist a red canine in the year of the Fire Dog, right?

Sometimes I do rather fancy that all these Patricks came about after they saw Pooch and wanted to be just like him. Notice the similarities in just flopping around and the cute button nose. I'm quite sure they're long lost cousins.

Ah, yes. *Ahem* This is Rolf.

Also newly acquired early this year in January at Plaza Damas. Now you must be thinking, why the name 'Rolf'? Uhhhh... With the red sweater, almost English hound-look and all, how could he not be a 'Rolf'?

He's a rather serious fellow. Look at him. Solemn look on his face, always prim and proper, never a fur out of place. If I'm crazy enough, I could almost hear him speak in his English accent, "And how are you today, miss? Rather fine weather for a walk, I must say..."

(Pssst. Don't ask him about his tail, he gets quite upset when he doesn't have one to wag with.)

I have many other softies stored away in boxes - bear-bear (a Forever Friends bear), theodore (another solemn looking fellow... err, I mean bear), elmo, piglet, many winnie-the-pooh's, tigger, more bears... oh, even a mashimaro from McD's. There's just no space on my bed for them, unfortunately. Even the three pooches have to rest on top of my bags at night; I fear kicking them when I sleep might put them into a bad mood.

I'm really loading up on dogs this year. I need all the best friends I could get.

Oh, one last little fella you must meet.

T.DOG. My guardian canine at the door. He doesn't chew on the furniture. Neat, isn't he?