Tuesday, June 29, 2010

3 more days ...

... and no corporate commitments for the next 19 days!

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy what I do, the team that surrounds me is brilliant and the company that has kept me in full time employment for the last 7.5 years is wonderful. Overall, I am a very bless and lucky woman.

Like many, I enjoy the chance to break the daily grind when opportunities presents itself.  That may come in the form of a long weekend, annual holiday, weekend getaway, etc.

I fully intend to leave work behind on Thursday 1st July at 4:00pm including my iPhone (supplied and paid for by the company) and not look back. Yes, I am one of those lucky ones who does not bring 'corporate baggage' home after work or during a holiday. I have the ability to switch off the moment I step out and may I add, that comes with years of experience and the knowledge that the team back in the office is more than capable to hold the fort. Afterall, we are all dispensible.

There is still a fair bit to do on the domestic front and once again, I am grateful for the diligence of my husband who is very hands-on. He has mopped the entire house, cleaned all the bathrooms and toilets, set up automatic light timers for the various lamps around the home, bought another bag of cat food, set up three kitty litter trays, etc and has the washing machine working every 2 days - towels, bedsheets, etc. He's a miracle worker.

We are also eating out the fridge so there will not be any perishable products such as fresh fruit and vegetables when we leave on Friday morning. In the freezer, I have frozen 4 serves of '3 meat bolognaise drowned in Pinot Noir' for when we return home.

The cat will be looked after by the 11 year old next door. She did a great job last time and along with her mum, they have both agreed to feed the cat and clear the poops every second day. We are very bless and lucky to have neighbours who are willing to do that for us.

3 more days....come quickly please!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

This makes me BOIL

The following FB status update from a cousin I barely know made my blood boil:

"When one of my cousin congratulated me for being able to
secure a spot at SMU, I responded saying "It's no big deal".
After all what can SMU guarantee me.
Where's my penthouse and Audi?
To make things worse, SMU* has put me in a 40k deficit."

(*SMU = Singapore Management University)

WTF?! I read offensive statements like this from the "younger" cohort of human beings regularly and this particular one got me seething. Perhaps that's because he's my so-called cousin and it's personal somewhat.

Are they expecting life to be given to them on a silver platter? In this case, if "it's no big deal" - why then would you put yourself in a so called '40K deficit'? The arrogance and depth of impetinence offences me.

Wake up! There are no guarantees in life. Even our time on earth is not guaranteed so why would an educational institution anywhere in the world guarantee outcomes of a materialistic nature?

His attitude and objective of this undertaking is all wrong. Instead, he ought to be taken out of the comforts of his HDB home with mum and dad still looking after his daily needs  - evidently National Service didn't instill any sense into him whatsoever and neither did the values of the working class!

In fact, he should partake in volunteer work in a less fortunate country for a period of time (minimum 6 months) to gain a heathy and mature perspective on life. Forget National Service - that approach is way too soft these days.

Why do "younger" human beings have such unrealistic expectations of life? What have we as a society done to encourage this? It's no wonder employers shun from employing the "young ones" because they have no stickability whatsoever.

Instead of asking what society can give them, they should be asking what they can give to society.

I am very disappointed ...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Exactly 7 more days to go...

This time next week (current time 2:00pm QLD time), we will be in Changi Airport Terminal 3 (Singapore). I will go through the super quick electronic check in for Singapore passport holders while the husband queues up with the rest of the 'foreigners'. I take immense delight in seeing him being held up (on this occassion) while I have time to browse the Duty Free shop and even collect our bags! Yes, it does take awhile. As we push our luggage trolley towards the taxi rank, the onslaugh of humidity will knock us for six! No wonder women in Asia have good skin - they don't need moisturisers as they are perpetually in a steam room!

Since I am not there yet, I found time (yesterday) to accomplish an important task. To visit Louis Vuitton and to buy THAT BAG. Allow me to explain: I don't buy a bag for the sake of buying one. It has to rock me, it has to send my heart fluttering, it has to fulfill my practical requirements, etc. Alright, I shall stop here.

I stepped into 'heaven' for a mere 45 minutes - catching up with my SA (Sales Assistant), trying out various bags and scarfs to re-assure myself of my original choice.

Allow me to present to you: Alma MM in Epi Leather (part of the new 'Electrique' range). Photos from Louis Vuitton website. The shine on the leather makes it very difficult to photograph.

She measures 38.5cm x 28.5 cm x 18.5cm

Very generous interior.
It comes with a special Louis Vuitton cleaning cloth and
a lock to secure the bag fully!

I am in LVOE heaven!

Home is where my Heart is

A few weekends ago, a friend asked my husband a seemingly innocent and poignant question - "where is home?" I assume most people would refer that to location of their physical home / country of residence, etc.

My husband's response completely melted my heart,
"Anywhere in the world so long as my spouse is by side."
Here is another example why I am deeply in love this man.

I have lived in this gorgeous country with abundance for 10 years and consider her to be my first (adoptive) home because I have been incredibly blessed and lucky to have been able to assimilate to her way of life, relatively easily and that's not to say that there weren't any bumps along the way. Those of us who have undertaken this journey are acutely aware of how it differs for the individual / family for a wide variety of reasons. Again, I am very bless and lucky.

Yes, the public transport network can be better however it has taught me time management and the time spent on the train / bus has enabled me to appreciate the variety of landscapes, marvel at mother nature, wake up 'properly' prior to getting into the office, calm down after an intense day in the office so that I don't bring 'work baggage' home and observe human behaviour at its best and not so desireable.

Yes, the operating hours of retail stores in the city on weekdays and sundays close at 6pm and in the suburbs, late night shopping occours on Thursdays where the shopping centres shut at 9pm. These operating hours may seem restrictive to others who live in cities which never sleeps however it has taught me that my free time should not be spent at shopping centres and the important of work/life balance involving family, friends or whatever one desires that does not include being in queues, fighting for carpark spots, etc.

Yes, it is quiet at night - no noisy neighbours (thank goodness), scarce traffic on the road (what a bonus), etc. This has taught me to slow down, breathe in and out, and the simple pleasures in life like making a cup of tea and settling down with a good book.

Yes, eating out is expensive even take away / fast food however we have great fresh produce in this country. It has taught me the importance of shopping seasonally and only once a week. Cooking is a joy as it enables me to rid my corporate life at the end of the day and bask in domestic bliss. It has also made me appreciate going out to a restaurant/ cafe once a week! In fact, it's a wonderful treat!

Here's what a typical weekday is like for me:
6:15am - Alarm goes off and one of us turns on the LCD in the bedroom
6:30am - We watch the morning news
6:40am - One of us fixes breakfast and brings it back to bed
7:00am - I am in the shower
7:15am - Grab my lunch & snacks from the fridge and drive to the train station
7:25am - Train arrives
8:20am - In my office with a big glass of water
4:15pm - Leave the office (if I don't have to work late!)
4:35pm - Train arrives
4:55pm - Train arrives at husband's office
5:00pm - We drive home
5:15pm - I start cooking dinner
5:45pm - Dinner is served
6:15pm - Kitchen gets cleaned and is closed for the night
6:30pm onwards - watch tv, read, surf the internet, on the telephone, etc
9:30pm - I am in bed reading a book
10:00pm - Lights' out and time for bedtime

Here's what a typical weekend is like for me:
6:30am - Rise and shine. One of us fixes breakfast usually Bacon & Eggs
7:30am - Shower and gets ready to drop husband off at the Aeroclub
7:45am - Husband's at the club and I drive to the supermarket
8:00am - I spend at least 45 mins doing the weekly shopping
9:00am - Put all the shopping away, starts cooking 3 meals for the following week + snacks that we bring to work and tidying of the home
12:00pm - Picks husband up from the club, heads home for lunch and do whatever we want at home / we may have friends over for lunch
5:00pm - Head out for a movie (that is worth watching) and dinner
9:00pm - Home, watch a little telly
10:30pm - Lights' out and time for bedtime

My life is simple and full - I love it the way it is.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Car Essential 101: Car Accident Emergency Kit

Car accidents can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone when they least expect it. No one ever knows how they will react immediately after an accident and this couldn't be more true for us some three weeks ago.

Indulge me while I set the scene for you:

  • I was not driving instead I was being driven this particular morning to the train station by the husband
  • This is our very first accident and husband has never ever lost any points on his licence nor has he made any car insurance claims
  • It was a clear cool morning - no fog, no rain, etc
  • We were at the entrance of the parking area and there was a huge 4WD in front of us. We patiently waited for the driver in that car to get her spot. Her reverse lights came on and we couldn't reverse back because there was traffic. She persisted with her reverse and husband honked several times to get her attention but to no avail
  • 'Bang!' We got out of the cars, no visible damage on her 4WD and there was damage to our front bumper
  • This is what really pissed me off: Husband who self-proclaims to be a 'organised virgo' cannot locate any paper / business card or pen to write down this driver's details. He opened every single compartment of his car and got more flustered by the second, I on the other hand remained very calm (we are good like that - we really balance each other in tense situations)
  • I got out of the car and took 2 photos on my iphone  - the first with the woman standing next to her car which clearly captures the model and licence plate and the second with the damage on our front bumper
  • Husband finally found some scrap paper and a pen that was not dried up and got her to write down her details. This woman remained calm and apologetic. After details were exchanged, we all went out separate ways
  • When I got to the office, I emailed the photos to the husband for his records
Fast forward 3 weeks, insurance company can't locate her and the contact numbers provided led nowhere either. In fact, they rang me yesterday and asked if I were the driver(?!) so I told them very clearly and curtly that I am not and that if they so desired photographic evidence, I will willingly provide. They apologised and we hung up. 

Husband undertook some investigative work to see if he can find alternative contact details - Google, Facebook, etc ...

This woman has a very unique name - so unique to the point where no one can pronounce it except her family, we think. Anyhow, there might be a break through, she may be working at a 'company' that I am familiar with and have a good working relationship with the boss. I have left a message for the boss and hope that she will be able to verify for me if this person is indeed an employee and that she drives this particular model of car which carries this particular number plate(I have no intention of dragging the boss into the picture now do I want to speak with this woman). We will then provide the phone number of this 'company' to the insurance company for their follow-up.

What has this taught me?
It's time to put together a Car Emergency Accident Kit (besides the ones that comes with the car like a spare tyre, tools to change one, first aid, etc):

A small canvas bag
Take a small canvas bag that is durable that can stay inside your vehicle at all times. Fill it with the items that will be listed below. Once you have filled it, find a permanent place in your vehicle where you can keep it so you will be ready in the event of an accident.

The checklist is one of the most important things you will keep in your kit. Write down the most important things you need to check or ask immediately after an accident. 1) Check for injuries, call 000 if necessary; 2) Look at vehicle damage and determine whether it is a safe area to stay; 3) Take pictures of the accident scene before moving either vehicle 4) Don't say anything to the other driver (other than exchange of information) until police arrive; 5) Ask for driver's license, insurance and vehicle information. This checklist will provide a guideline to keeping your cool during a very stressful and sometimes scary time.

Basic Stationery that works!
Keep a pad of paper, a capped pen and a pencil in your bag at all times. Have the list of necessary information already filled out, with blanks next to them to be completed. Write down the following for the other party: Name, Driver's License Number, Address, Phone Number, Date of Birth, Their Insurance Name, Their Insurance Policy Number, Their Insurance Phone Number, License Plate Number, Make Model and Year of Vehicle, Color of Vehicle. Having this filled out in advance will save time and will keep you from forgetting all of the information you might need.

Take photographs
Take lots of pictures. A picture is really worth a thousand words in any accident. Try to take pictures before you leave the immediate area of the accident- take photos from the front, rear and both sides of each vehicle, as well as any pictures of the road in relation to the vehicles or any landmarks that stick out and make the exact point of impact easy to recognize. Also take pictures of street signs and lights from your vehicle's point of view as well as the other vehicle's point of view. This can help determine fault if the question ever comes up at a later time. Once you move your vehicles, take more pictures of the damages that were done, as well as of any injuries.

Keep a flashlight in your emergency kit just in case the accident happens at night. You want to be able to see if anything is leaking from your vehicle to determine whether or not it is a hazard to stay close, also you want to be able to examine yourself, passengers or others involved for injuries. Keep the flashlight in your first aid kit so you can have easy access to all emergency supplies that may also be necessary.

Emergency Contact Numbers
Keep a list of emergency phone numbers in your cell phone, in your glove compartment and in your emergency kit. You never know if part of your vehicle will be demolished, and you may not be able to tell people who to call in case of emergency. Keep a list of phone numbers including loved ones to be contacted, personal physician information and health insurance information (if you have insurance).

I will be putting it together this weekend while the husband attempts to put aside what he needs to bring on our holiday next week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Art of Packing and Unpacking for DINKS*

Yes the countdown - 10 more days! This is especially annoying for those who are not going on a vacation in 10 days, anticipation for those who are going sometime soon and reminisce for those who have only very recently returned from one.

I am known for being an organised person both professionally and personally. For example, after checking into my hotel room, the following is carried out:

  • Unzip my suitcase
  • Place bag of toiletries on the vanity in the bathroom
  • Hang huge draw string laundry bag made of linen behind the bathroom door
  • Remove extra hangers from my suitcase
  • Hang up all my clothes according to colours (great for early morning starts)
  • Lingerie into the top drawer (bras on one side, panties on the other)
  • PJs and my small 'pouch' of accessories on the bottom drawer
  • Remove my shoes from the shoes' bag and place them in a straight line (if possible)
  • Place empty suitcase in the wardrobe (if it fits)
  • Place my book / reading material on the bedside table
  • Plug the mobile phone charger into the wall socket and connect my iphone
  • Plug the digital camera charger into another wall socket and re-charge the camera
Once all that is out of sight and out of mind, I am able to relax with a pot of tea.

Last night while assisting Jared with the laundry, I did what I have never done before and that is, pack 11 days before our vacation!

The earliest I would pack for a vacation is 48 hours prior or at least 5 days prior (if I am going on a snow ski holiday because there's so much stuff to bring). If it were for business, it would be 12 hours prior because I have mastered the art of packing for this purpose.

It took me all of five minutes to put together everything I need for this upcoming vacation! Yes, you read correct. Five minutes.

I attribute this to the Season. It's winter down here and scorching hot summer up there. Naturally, I have not been wearing much of my summer clothes so it was a very easy exercise of removing several short summer dresses, lycra pants (don't need much ironing), a few fancy tops, resort wear attire, etc.

All of them are now laid neatly on the bed of our guest bedroom to be packed into our one GIGANTIC bag next week. We tend to bring between the both of us:
  • 1 gigantic bag - which 'houses' both our clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc
  • 1 medium size cabin bag (which we bring on the plane) - which 'houses' a smaller size cabin bag that 'houses' comfy outfits for the aeroplane, an extra set of day clothes for each of us (in the case the gigantic bag goes to a different country) and reading materials
Those cabin bags comes in very handy during our vacations and I believe you know what I am talking about - shopping!!!!!

10 more days....I shall be a woman of leisure for the duration of my vacation because I've worked hard for it! :)

*DINKS = Double Income No Kids

Sunday, June 20, 2010

12 more days to vacation

It's time for my annual vacation and it comes as no surprise to many that in 12 days, I will be heading back to the country of my birth - Singapore. Eversince I made Australia my home some 10 years ago, it comes as no surprise that there's an unspoken expectation for me to catch up with my parents face-to-face annually (+ weekly phone calls + monthly remittance + extra $ on CNY and birthdays, etc). I am grateful that the flight time is only 8 hours hence it's affordable and not energy zapping as compared to others who live on the other side of the world.

Naturally, I am looking forward to catching up with family and friends. They have the ability to nourish me with their love and acceptance that sustains me until my next trip, really.

With vacation comes the lifestyle of a woman of leisure. As all my family and friends work during the day and can only catch up in the evenings (unless they have the day off on my account), my mornings are filled with laps at the swimming pool (so that I can eat, fit into my clothes and not resort to wearing the sarong on the return trip back to Aus) followed by leisurely local breakfast before heading out for the day.

When it comes to the variety of activities to do in Singapore, there isn't much for the picking except for food and shopping. In this respect, the choices are boundless. For this trip, I look forward to checking out the following:

  • Orchard Ion
  • Mandarin Gallery
  • 313@Somerset
  • Marina Bay Sands Shopping Gallery
  • High Tea at The Fullerton
  • Buffet at the Tiffin Room, Raffles Hotel
  • Sentosa
  • Local eateries (e.g. Steamboat, Ramen, Kueh Chap, Chee Kway, Chai Tau Kway, Yong Tau Foo, dried Mee Pok with fishballs, Assam Fish Head, BBQ stingray on banana leaf, Pepper Crab, etc)
  • Mum's cooking, naturally
For now, I am happily 'eating out my fridge' so that I will not have any fresh food left in by the time we depart and I also have a few containers of meals that I have frozen when we return so that I don't have to drag myself to the supermarket on the same day as I get home.

Vacation, here I come!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recipe: Leek-Cauliflower-Potato Soup

After being away from home for five days and meeting with (close to) 400 people, you would be forgiven for thinking that I should be putting my feet up, cloistering myself at home and catching up on much deprived sleep! Well, that would be sensible. Since I am not that sensible, it would come as no surprise to the few of you who follow this blog that I found myself in the supermarket for my 'usual' weekly grocery shopping.

I shall not bore you with what I bought at the supermarket and instead focus on one of the positive outcomes from that visit.

Here's a soup that's so simple - even you can make it with one hand and one eye (no offence intended).

Leek-Potato-Cauliflower Soup serves 6


1 leek, sliced
1 cauliflower, cut into florets and retain the stems
3 big potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, whole
3 tbsps Chicken stock powder
300g low fat cream
Cold water, from the tap
Pepper to taste

  1. In a deep stock pot, add all the ingredients at once (except the cream). Add water till it covers 3/4 of the vegetables. Cook on high and let it boil for at least 15 minutes. Simmer for an hour. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream

  2. Using a hand held blender or food processor, blitz the soup until you are please with the consistency be it creamy or chunky. Serve hot with crusty bread or on its own
Bon Apetito!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Recipe: Moroccan Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables

I love Middle Eastern flavours, sweetness of roasted vegetables and the salty & creamy textures of a feta. Hence my creation of this meal. It's great as a weekend meal on its own or as a side with your favourite grilled meats which was what we had on the weekend with 12 friends.

Moroccan CousCous Salad with Roasted Vegetables (serves many!!!)

500g couscous, follow cooking instructions on box
2 tbsps Masselles Brand Vegetable Stock
1 big eggplant, sliced into cubes
1 big sweet potato, sliced into cubes
1/2 pumpkin, sliced into cubes
1 pkt spinach leaves
1/2 jar sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil
1 pkt of feta cheese
MasterFoods Moroccan Spices
MasterFoods Rosemary and Salt Spices
Olive Oil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 20 minutes. In a deep bowl, combine cubed eggplants - sweet potatoes - sweet potato in Olive Oil, 2 tbsps Rosemary and Salt Spices and 6 tbsps Moroccan spices.  Lay the vegetables in baking trays and roast them for 40 minutes
  2. While vegetables are being cooked in the oven, prepare couscous according with instructions on back of box + recommended liquid (add vegetable stock). Set aside
  3. In your serving bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Drizzle generously with olive oil.
Bon Apetito!


Recipe: 'Meat Falling off the Bone' Ox Tail Soup

Soups are a brilliant meal to feed a family because it's easy to prepare, fills everyone up, nutritious and only 1 pot to wash up! Here's one of my family favourites that I whip up whenever the weather cools down and / or when I am doing too many times at the one time!

'Meat Falling off the Bone' Ox Tail Soup (serves 4)


1.5kg ox tail
1 Brown Onion
3 Carrots, cut into bite size pieces
3 celery sticks, cut into bite size pieces
2 big potatoes, cut into  bite size pieces
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsps Marselles Brand Vegetable Stock
1 can of lentils
Water to adequately cover all the bones and vegetables
Pepper to taste

  1. In a deep stock pot, place all the ingredients. Cook on high for at least 20 minutes and simmer for the next 2 hours.  This meal is also suitable to be cooked in a crock pot.
Bon Apetito!

Recipe: Devilled Eggs

I have no idea why this is named 'Devilled Eggs' because it is neither spicy nor difficult to prepare. However, this is one of my trusted nibbles / canapes for entertaining and it is a winner everytime. This is great for people of all ages except those who are dairy intolerant.

Devilled Eggs (makes 24)


14 Hard boiled eggs, shelled and sliced into half
1/2 cup of egg mayonnaise
3 tbsps curry powder
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Slice all the hard boiled eggs into half, remove egg yolks into a separate deep bowl
  2. In the bowl with egg  yolks, add mayonnaise - curry powder - salt and pepper. Mix well
  3. Lay all the hard boiled egg whites on a serving platter. Using fill the cavity with the egg yolk mixture with a teaspoon or pipping bag
  4. Top the eggs with fresh chives (optional)