the trio

The three ingredients I can’t live without are…
chilli, garlic and onion.

For this reason, I love laksa to bits (especially when I add more scoops of those spicy stuff), curry and mee siam. Give me the hot stuff!
Garlic and onion are great for stir-frying and taste good when we use them for soup.

I can’t fit corainder in but it is my love too.
To store herbs, we can either store them in the fridge in a ziplock bag between layers of barely damp paper towels or we can store them in a bowl of water at room temperature, as we would a bouquet of flowers. Keep them in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight and change the water daily (not sure if this will work in tropical climate back home).

Steamed egg, shiitake mushrooms, minced pork and seaweed

This is an easy dish to make and you could change the ingredients according to what you prefer.

Ingredients (serves 2)
4 eggs, beaten (mom will add soy sauce, oyster sauce and pepper)
1 tsp freshly grated root ginger
2 shiitake mushroons, diced
3 tbsp amount of minced pork (marinated)
1 small spring onion, finely chopped
2 tbsps finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
A pinch of salt and ground black pepper

To garnish
2 tsp finely cut dried seaweed
Chives, finely chopped
Fried shallots

1. Mix all the ingredients except the garnish in a bowl.
2. Heat up the wok with suitable amount of water. Place the bowl on the rack that is set over the wok and steam for 15 minutes.
3. To check that the egg is cooked, run a tothpick through the egg mixture – it should come out clean.
4. Remove from the wok and garnish with seaweed, chives and fried shallots.

* To ensure the egg is smooth, you may want to add a small amount of water to the egg mixture before steaming.

Home-based culinary curriculum

After thinking it through for a while, I decided that enrolling into culinary school means digging deep into our pockets and because I am not even sure if I am going to switch profession eventually, designing my own curriculum and learning on my own through various sources is the way to go.

Bought two cookbooks which I considered my textbooks for my curriculum – Martha Stewart’s Cooking School & Essentials of Baking – although I much prefer to get hold of CIA’s cookbooks but they were not available at the Strands bookstore in NY. These would do for now; their content is comprehensible and provides step-by-step instructions.

So, there you go. I would be taking down notes from all the lessons I am going to learn from my home-based culinary lessons! And it’s gonna start next week!

Minced meat congee

I had a sudden craving for congee and also missed the bamboo shoots that we had while we were in Luchun a month back and thus I’m going to create the recipe, from memory through observing my mom’s congee back home.

The ingredients (this amount is for 2 pax):
– Ginger, cut into 4-cm stripes
– 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 6 cloves of shallots, cut into small slices
– Bamboo shoots (from can, half or 1/3 the amount)
– Coriander leaves (cilantro)
– Spring onion (scallion)
– 3/4 cup of rice
– Minced pork (rub in salt and marinate in soy sauce, sesame oil & shaoxing cooking oil with a dash of pepper)
– Minced chicken (marinated in soy sauce and sugar)

1. Put in 7 cups of water with 3/4 cup of rice in rice cooker. Allow it to boil. This will take about 45 min to 1 hour until the bubbles try to push up the cover.
2. Meanwhile, deep fry the sliced shallots. Make sure the wok is of high temperature before placing in the shallots. Once the shallots are in, reduce the temperature by a bit. Stir constantly for even browning. They are ready when the the shallots turn golden brown.

3. When the water is boiling (in the rice cooker), put in the garlic and bamboo shoots.
4. Subsequently, put in the meat and add soy sauce, salt, sesame oil and shaoxing cooking wine till the flavour is to your liking.
5. Serve the congee with corainder and scallion, with some fried shallots & oil. Add a dash of pepper if you wish. Serve immediately.

Weekly updates

I guess I should commit myself to weekly updates or my loving fans (yes, all one of them) will never hear from me.  She probably hears from me enough on a daily basis but since she asked… =)

This past week has been interesting.

I found out that New York isn’t all it’s made out to be. It’s really rather ordinary other than it being some sort of shrine to consumerism. 5th Avenue has buildings touting luxury brands all over the place, and Times Square with all the flashing lights looks like some sort of Las Vegas wannabe.  There really is a Starbucks on almost every street.

However, the place lacks feeling. Even with Central Park (which is HUGE) and The Strand (cheap books!).
It’s probably just me. *shrug*

After coming back from New York, Friday was spent running more errands and Saturday was spent bringing the wife to Le Cordon Bleu Boston.
While the wife spent 3+ hours decorating, I retired to a nearby Dunkin Doughnuts to read my book. The Man in the Mirror I think it’s called. No, it’s not about Michael Jackson.

I’ve always felt it rather strange how God chooses to speak to us and I think He had a message for us this weekend.  On Saturday, He convinced me, through the book, to examine my life more closely.  On Sunday, He spoke to Lynn to convince her that we should spend more time on the word.  As I listened to her after service, I couldn’t help but feel that He is preparing us for something.  I’ve no doubt we should listen closely lest we be caught unprepared when the time comes….

In other news, we’re still tying up loose ends. Probably gonna get a Skype account to facilitate calling Singapore from the comfort of home. The coming week will be filled with orientation activities.  Pray for us.

The magic wok

This cast-iron wok, together with the wok cover and Chinese spatula found a new owner yesterday!

I grew up with this set of equipment, watching mom use it day in and out. She could whip out marvelicious cuisine with them and naturally I’m influenced and need to get hold of them, now that I’m on my own.

Continue reading

Blessed Sunday!

Blessed is the one who picked up furniture during a run and had a cupcake after that.
I was due for my 12-15km run today (which is running late for my marathon training but what the heck) and it was a fruitful run indeed!


beautiful scenery along the way

Into my 11km, I ran into the nearby neighbourhood and guess what I saw? A trash bin and a coffee table which I knew the hubs would need. We have been scouting for a table from the thriftstore but could not find anything suitable and there before my eyes was the table. So I ran back to our apartment and got him to go back to the exact location again, half crossing my fingers that no one would be there before us.
And so, we had our bin and table and they saved us a bit. Sorry that I sound very auntie-ish but we are very much conscious of the fact that we would not be staying here forever and thus we shouldn’t buy unnecessarily. A colleague who had been here before us had told us that she had done so and such incidents had saved her heaps.

So you see, running is good for health and for your pockets, if you do not mind second-hand stuff!

We are blessed by such provision. Indeed the Lord is good!

Minced meat congee for lunch

Park Street Church

missing…

One of the few things that you miss when you are away is the company of friends and family members. At times, the excitement of being in a new place and the opportunity to pursue your own interest can’t beat the laughters and tears shared with the loved ones.

Thankfully, my dear colleagues have been in touch with us by sending us random emails updating their lives and today as I opened my mailbox, I was greeted by a long awaited letter. Yes, ZM, I’m waiting for this email!

I’m posting the pics of JJ and JL when they were younger (JL should look the same as the pic still?) even though the mommy is so protective of the photos. Anyway, only loved ones have access to this blog and so I took the liberty! Mommy, ok? Btw, the sister looks gorgeous! Really!

Bro & sis…

LCB Chef's Series – Cake Decorating

I signed up for this class about a month ago primarily because I am really hopeless in decorating cakes, biscuits, what have you. Well, it’s also a good chance for me to get around the LCB campus and have a feel of how it would be like in the kitchen.

Since this is a cake decorating class, we did not have the chance to bake. First up, Chef taught us how to make a rose decoration out of marzipan and then it’s off to the chiffon cake in which we had to slice it and then masked it with buttercream icing. Oooo…..the icing! The serrated bread knife was SHARP! I had a small cut just by touching it; it’s that sharp! I had a fun time masking the icing between the layers and all around the cake. Chef reminded us not to be a perfectionist when it comes to the icing bit. It takes experience. Sometimes, the more we try to make it better, the result worsens.

                      

It was a fun class, no doubt and every one was very much focused on their tasks. Obviously so since it was only 3 hours and we had to try to come up with the finished product. At the end of the day, we received good and friendly instructions from Chef and her helpers (current LCB students), an apron (nice!), a certificate, drinks, cakes for testing and a rich experience.

I wouldn’t say this has changed my perspective for cake decorating (I don’t really like it) but it has proved to be rather satisfying when you get the hang of it. =)

satisfied!

The secret to a woman’s heart, according to yours truly, is a good kitchen because in this sacred place, she finds both joy and pain but most importantly, fulfilment in her toils.


And today, satisfied was I. I was to go for my cake decorating class at Le Cordon Bleu, Boston and had an enjoyable and enriching time (read the entry here). The hubs went with me to look for the place and waited for me till my class was over. Touched! In exchange, I gave him some leftover cheesecake and cupcake for him to savour (definitely a bad barter trade).

On to the Goodwill store and HK supermarket again. I have been visiting these 2 outlets for consecutive days; I think they should give me some best supporter’s award =p. I was constantly on the lookout for baking stuff and I am proud to announce that I have added measuring cup, ramekins, vegetable peeler and mixing bowls to my growing collection. In no time at all, the kitchen would be adequately equipped!


What made me happiest was that the hubs showed his support for the Kuali/wok by agreeing to the purchase of it and it looks (almost) and feels just like the one what I used at home! (Be warned. Constant use of it could lead to probable wrist injury =p). It’s difficult to stir-fry in non-stick skillet; something is just amiss. Of course, the wok saw its opening with a dish from me and I must say the sound made when the metallic spatula interacted with the wok made one think of home. Hmm….and with stir-frying, you have to clean up the whole kitchen once you are done with the cooking. It’s a good workout if you want to eat and at the same time, stay trim. Join the wok club!

Potato salad

What do you do when you have a bag of potatoes, apples, carrots and eggs?
Potato salad of course!

So we have 2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 carrots cut into cubes, 2 apples cut into cubes and 3 potatoes (boiled and cut into cubes). Sprinkle a dash of ground black pepper to it. To add some sweetness to the salad, mix 1 tbsp of honey and condensed milk with hot water and mix throughout the salad.

Simple dish for breakfast.

The kitchen

This entry is dedicated to marmie whom I have learnt so much over the years when she worked about in the kitchen. The kitchen has always been her territory and she will watch you like a hawk when you cook in that area. Then she will point out what could be improved and gave some advice (or nagging, if that could really express the state of what she was doing).

Nearer to the period when we were to set off to this ang mo country, she would ask me to watch when she was cooking, scrubbing the toilet bowls, washing and bleaching clothes and of course, cleaning the whole kitchen. And today, I have my own little kitchen and many of her words stay with me.

I am thankful to have a mother who can work in the kitchen and that would definitely include cooking. The kitchen that we have back home is still very new because of how she cleans it (too bad for the many items that clutter). Before we left, she set aside a few set of cloth for us, saying, “You wil need them to clean up!” I had to force myself then to put them into the luggage but you know what? They were the first few things I used when we got hold of our house key. CLEAN UP time! Mom is always so picky about spick and span kitchen that the first few things she did when she went over to my sis’ place or my bro’s place in SH was to pick up the cloth and clean them! Oh no…it should be before that she examined the area. My sis could vouch for it.

So, dear sis, please translate the above to her when you next see her. Tell her also that:
1) I try to save whenever I can now and recycle any materials, just like what she has always done.
2) I make it a point to buy fresh produce and only those that I want to cook for the day.

3) I can cook gourmet not ‘chapalan’ food. I can do it because she has done so throughout our growing-up years and in some ways, she has motivated me to cook as well.
4) I may not care a lot at home but now having a home of my own, I am very particular about cleanliness in my home.
5) I washed the toilet bowl this morning, with my bare hands but I will follow her way soon (forgot to buy scrub).
6) Tell her this kitchen is my territory! =p
7) I appreciate her giving me of the cloth cos they were really great help.
8) Oh! Show her the food that I have cooked/baked from my food blog. She would be surprised how far I have gone! =)


Show her the pics too.

Overview of my kitchen, even got pink bin man!

Tell mom that it’s not my fault that the sink looks dirty. I scrubbed but the dirt didn’t come off. Maybe I should use bleach.

These are what I work with now..but can you ask her to send the chinese wok to me! =p

My library

Dinner for today: Teriyaki Chicken Rice with Egg & Onion.

3 days in NYC


The 3-day trip is purely a recee trip for the November NY Marathon (which I’m starting to feel very much edgy about) and I had 2 main objectives – 1) find out the time needed to get from hostel to South Ferry Station & 2) how to get to Staten Island which is the starting point of the race.
 
So, from Boston’s South Station, we took the 4-hour ride coach to NY. It was a smooth ride, no loud songs being played nor people’s chattering (unlike the China’s coaches). We reached NY at noon and started walking from downtown to uptown, passing through Central Park (must see how long…& it was darn long; from 59th to 110 Street!). By the time we finally reached our hostel, we were so tired that we dropped dead onto the creaky bed.
 
And for the rest of the journey, the hubs had kindly took over the planning. I managed to get 2 cookbooks which will be my textbooks for my own culinary curriculum from Strands bookstore (much cheaper!) and he got his StarWars book as well! Of course, what’s NY without cupcakes? So to Magnolia bakery we went too! And to Century21 for designer items at civilians’ prices. Bought a running tights with compression fabrics for about 5/8 the price. Awesome!
 

 

NY..is a concrete jungle. High rise buildings everywhere, esp downtown.

 

Do you think I will meet the Trumps if I stay long enough?

 

Apple cult. There’s a beeline of people waiting to get in…and it does resemble the Louvre.

 

The oasis – Central Park

  The New-York- thing- to- do (hubs said): Hot dogs/ sandwiches from the food cart/truck. Cheap and nice but not necessarily healthy. 

Yellow school bus. Oh! Where are all the students?

  World Trade Centre reduced to a construction site. They’re building a memorial centre to be open on 9.11.11
  

Magnolia cupakes cult. Long queue.

Quaint booktore in the film ‘You’ve got mail!’

 Hubs and I having heart-to-heart talk in this cupcake cafe in the bookstore.
  

@ the end of the day, I still prefer Boston. New York is too busy and people do not care less about others (my feel).

Proverbs 3:5-6

The weather changed without warning and since Sunday, it has been raining with frequent strong wind. I was in lament and Ken reminded me, “It’s just rain. We have rain in Singapore and the temperature drops too!” Erm, yes but still, it’s cold! Honestly, I don’t know what to expect in winter. I dread it.
It has since been almost a week in Boston and I must say we have quite an adventure. We missed the conveniences in Singapore mostly and where most terms are so evident and clear to us. Over here, things are less explicit and because we are aliens here, it makes things more frustrating for us. Honestly, if I were to come here alone and study, I would have broken down. Thankfully we have each other and we can only say that we need to take things one step at a time and not be too vexed over those issues. It is indeed a learning process.
My greatest worry as of now is perhaps New York Marathon. Not too much about the distance really but more the weather. You see, the cut-off time is 6.30pm (start time is 10.30am) and I reckon I won’t use up 8 hours no matter how much pain I would encounter during the race. Having experienced marathon before helps a lot but the situation is different now. I have NEVER run in cold conditions until very recently. By November, temperature in NY would drop to below 10 C. How on earth would I be able to withstand that??? As of now, I don’t even know how I should be clad in. I thought of cancelling the race which would give me direct entry into next year’s race. However, the fee is non-refundable and to fork out another $300 for the race is too much. I have to press on.
Yesterday, we visited Park Street Church and I was reminded that I should not be focusing on my weakness and circumstances but to allow God to work in and through me. Was thankful really. I need that sort of encouragement. It is truly in my weakness that His glory is magnified. Ken and I decided that we continue to worship in this church since we are okay with the doctrine and that it is a very Word-based and evangelical church. Hopefully, we would be able to find a CG soon.
And today, the wind was even stronger. I decided to test out my wind-breaker to see how well it could protect me from the cold. Our stock was also running low and decided to go for The Upper Crust Pizzeria for lunch and also to stop by the Goodwill store nearby. Basically this store stocks up donated goods and the proceeds help fund Goodwill’s education, training and job placement programmes for people with disabilities and other barriers. We really found good buys there and really, we should have visited this store right from the beginning; we could have saved a lot! This time round, we spent mainly on bakeware. They amounted to US$9 for a set of baking trays which otherwise I would have to fork out US$49.99 for the same things. Among them was a Wilton square tin and it cost US$2.99! Whoah!They are not new definitely and with some dirt but with cleaning, they are okay to be used again! I helped save a fair bit; I’m elated! And I got a pair of leather loafers for US$6.49. How’s that? It’s quite ironical that in Singapore I donated a lot of my stuff to people and now I have to buy donated items. Hah! I learnt to appreciate what I have now. Definitely a good thing for me!
We are going off to New York tomorrow to recee the marathon route and to familiarise ourselves with the transport for race day. No rain pls!
 
And you know, at the end of the day, after all these experiences, we have to always bear in mind Proverbs 3:5-6.

Begedil

It’s been rather long since I last cooked/baked. The reason? I have just relocated to Boston as the hubs will be there to study for a while. So these days, we have been busy with setting up our new place and now the kitchen’s almost done. We just lack baking stuff and after that, we are off to another series of adventure in the kitchen!

Just a few days ago, I read tha Bernie’s hubs has made Begedil and this was timely; it was a recipe that I wanted to try out a few weeks’ back. Since I am craving for Asian food, this would obviously be inviting. Begedils or spicy potato patties originated in Indonesia and are excellent as a side dish. I got the following recipe from Appetite magazine.

2 cloves garlic, minced
150 g red onion, diced
100 g chicken, finely diced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 red chilli finely chopped or 1 tsp dried
chilli flakes
500 g new potatoes, boiled till soft and mashed with skin on
100 g coriander, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 eggs, beaten for eggwash
300 ml oil for frying

1. In a sauté pan with a little oil, brown garlic and onion over high heat before adding chicken. Stir well and add turmeric and cumin powder. Stir-fry for 5 – 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

2. Add chilli, potatoes and coriander, mix well and turn off the heat. Allow mixture to cool before forming them into patties of about 2 inches across.

3. In a wok, heat oil until it is very hot (check temperature by putting in a wooden chopstick. Oil bubbles will form when oil is hot enough).

4. Dip each patty in egg before easing it into the hot oil. Fry about 4 – 5 begedils at a time, do not crowd the wok.

5. Allow 3 – 5 minutes for each side before turning. Begedils are done when they turn golden brown.

6. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

For this time, I didn’t add the chicken nor chilli as the hubs wasn’t keen on too spicy stuff. The turnout? They were good. Try it!

Running

Since we got here, we have stepped up on our running. Back home, we were either settling some stuff for the move or too tired to run.

We’ve got a nice reservoir near our apartment and of course the irritating sandflies which like to bump into you, causing you to lose sight momentarily. Sometimes they like to hide inside your nostril for some comfort..(ok, I’m not sure why I go into such details).

So today, reminded by the hubs about my coming marathon, we decided to do a 10km run. My goodness, it was tiring. We started on the opp direction from the reservoir and slopes met us. They whipped us and humiliated us. Our legs became jelly after that.

But I must say, the weather here allows for better running in terms of my breathing. I could run faster without panting and what’s better was that there were fewer cars around the area (or was it because we started real early in the morn?).

There are many who run in this part of the country. And why not? It was home to the most famed marathon in the world, the only one which requires participants to meet their qualifying time. I definitely can’t make it and thus New York would be a great option.

And of course, it was good to come home and be able to prepare brekky. Good morning, people!

his & hers

(Z.Z)

I must be still suffering from jet-lag. Been waking up at around 3 to 4am in the morning and this day, it was even worse…2am!

By the time we completed our morning jog and proceeded to Boston Public Library, I was already on the way to la-la-land. Coffee was my solution and the hubs quickly guided me to 225 Newbury Street. What’s that? It was Sweet, the cupcake store! I woke up all of a sudden upon seeing the store and came out of it satisfied with 4 minature cupcakes in our stomach and a mug of coffee each on hand. Bliss!

Came home after more purchases and was excited to make Begedil. I remember one recipe which I have read from a magazine and was pleased to be able to find it online. Made them and I was satisfied with the products! Actually I think cooking is more fun than baking since the former would require one to taste and see if it is ok and definitely allows for more creativity whereas baking does not allow for a lot of room for changes in terms of measurement. The latter is more of science than arts. So, yes, I would be cooking more now since I am in charge of health and nutrition in the household. =)

Zzzzzz…

Almost there.

You could just imagine my joy when we chanced upon Hong Kong Supermarket @ Allston (heard it just opened! Woohoo!). The building looked Chinese all right and when I entered, I was jumping for joy when I saw the all-so-familiar stuff! So you know that I am a true-blue Chi-na-pok. I told Ken to brace himself as I went down the aisle to pick up all the necessary sauces and condiments for cooking and yes, I could cook at last! The bill came up to a fair bit but for initial start-up, it was ok because in the long run, we would save more from eating out. Things here were definitely not cheap. But, well, we will made do.

 
Off to Bed Bath & Beyond @ Park Drive and bought our bedsheet and some household products. I wish we had a car then because that would mean that we did not have to make multiple trips here and there. So, at the end of the day, after dinner, I just plonked into bed. Zzzzzz…. Thankfully, Ken was always there to help. Somehow, I feel he could make a good house-husband. kekekeke.

Random pics from yesterday’s shopping. We are almost done with our home!

Donuts, anyone?

Before…

After…

Cosy corner

The rather stocked-up kitchen

Can you see some familiar bottles? Yes, I can!

I have conquered the cabinet in the bathroom. Well, I’m afterall… woman! =p

TGIF?

Well… not really. More like Thank God For Every Day!!! (TGFED!!!)

Thursday went amazingly well. Sometimes I really think God puts us in difficult situations just so we know who’s really in charge. For all my calm as we approached Boston, when we actually reached BC on Wednesday, I was flustered about the room, the bed. Everything really.

On Thursday morning, we both woke up, unable to sleep, and spent the early morning the same way we spent the previous night. Worrying about what to do about the bed. We finally gave up and spent some time in prayer before heading out to do our chores for the day.

And I guess that’s when He stepped in.

We intended to quickly finish some of my administrative duties and then set out bed-hunting.
However, for whatever reason, we somehow got distracted from our bed and ended up buying kitchenware!
And just when we arrived back home and I was thinking about another night on the couch, we saw another twin bed! So not only did we not have to spend anything on a new bed and worry about how to move it to our place, we now have two twin beds! Much larger overall as compared to the Full bed or even a Queen bed that we might have bought.

So Friday was spent tying up even more loose ends before we headed out once again. Today, we contributed to the American economy via a HongKongSupermarket, and then again at BedBath&Beyond. More home cooked food coming up, and we now have sheets to go with our bed!

So the past few days have been hectic, but fruitful.
We settled:
– Immunization forms for Health Services
– Registration as International Student
– Bank of America Bank Account
– Kitchenware
– Registration of Fall Courses
– Cell Phones for both of us!
– Groceries!
– Bedding!

Pray for:
– All that chest x-ray stuff I need to go through because my PPD test result was boderline.
– Wife’s dependent insurance. Costs a bomb. Hoping to find cheaper alternatives…
– Good relationships with tutors, colleagues, apartment mates, new churchmates, etc.

Initial start-up

We were up at 3 plus in the AM, couldn’t sleep no longer and went to do online research…for a bed. The management had earlier emailed Ken that they would not be supplying the additional twin (looks more like a single) bed and thus we had to go buy a decent-sized one for us.

So to Craigslist, Target and Ikea we went. The first two were recommended by friends who told us that we could really find good deals in there and of course, it’s always good old Ikea we go to if we lack any furniture. Problem was the transportation. As we currently had no car, we could not transport the bed or any purchase back home. Of course the solution is to pay for movers but that cost a lot. Ikea was way too far away for us and we eventually struck it off.
 
We were on this mission for a good 3 to 4 hours until the hubs gave up and suggested a morning jog around the reservoir. Might as well. I felt the more we fussed over it, the more uptight we became. We decided that we could just go back to BC and asked the representatives for advice.

Saying a prayer, we left for BC to tidy up all the admin stuff that Ken had to do, including his health report submission, student card (hey, I’ve got one myself!), opening a bank account and the registration of the courses. It was tiring walking around the campus and having to look for the different people. I don’t recall my going to grad school as so confusing! But of course, we are talking about international students now and definitely more procedures to be made. It was fun though and as we entered the Lynch School of Education, I could feel myself wanting very much to study too! Oh, btw, I would be going for the Orientation too! (me am very kaypoh =p).


After settling most of the stuff (phew!), we decided to do some shopping at Coolidge Corner as recommended by Meghan, the rep at the International Students Office. We wanted to go there primarily to look for beds as she hinted that we could find good bargain there. However, one store captured my eyes and we basically stocked up on kitchen stuff. Now, at least we have kettle, pans (I’ve got pink ones!) and bowls and in no time at all, the kitchen would clearly be stocked up and I could cook! I am getting sick of those food out there (for the record, we only had one meal today).

And you know what? When we opened the door to our apartment, we were overjoyed! An extra bed was placed next to the previous one! They have given us another bed! We could save a lot from it! Ken later revealed that it could be the email that he wrote to them. Whatever it was, we were thankful. Thankful that we did not go ahead and purchase online in the morning. Thankful that we were distracted to buy kitchenware. Thankful to the Lord mostly for his provision. =)


Our abode for the next 1.5 years.

 

Backdated Beginning… by… the Beng

So I was supposed to inaugurate this blog, but as usual, dear wife got off to a quicker start. I can never get myself to blog for very long. This is quite possibly my fourth blog ever and I doubt if I’ve even hit a total of 10 posts in all.

Take heart however. Since wife is in on this with me, we can all expect it to last substantially longer…

It’s been only slightly more than a day since we’ve touched down at Boston and a little more than 48 hours since we left Changi Airport, so there really isn’t all that much to report on.

I guess all I can give you is my perspective on what the wife has already shared. Have no doubt however that it will be unique, witty, entertaining, and most of all… extremely quotable. It will, in a pinch, also cure cancer. Possibly.

So my take on what has happened over the past 48 hours is this.

I agree with my wife. Completely. Unreservedly. Wholeheartedly.
She isn’t even threatening me in any way while I’m typing this. Seriously.
(She probably will once she reads this though… =p)

In summary.
We arrived safely in Boston despite a rather frightful start to the flight process at Changi.
We caught ALL our connecting flights despite the first flight leaving more than an hour behind schedule, and later having to stand in line for more than an hour to clear customs in Chicago. (For every connecting flight, the gate closed within a few minutes of us getting on board the plane…)
All our luggage arrived with little incident (some spilled shampoo) despite having 3 out of the 4 bags that we checked in separated from us on the final flight. Yes, it did take longer than they initially promised, but they thankfully got it to us before we checked out of the hotel.
We managed to get a late check-out, and thus had the opportunity for ample rest between our two trips lugging our bags from the hotel down to our new place.
We met friendly people along the way who helped to point us in the right directions.
We got a room facing the back, which meant less breeze because of the other houses behind, but also quite a bit less noise since it isn’t facing the road.
Through all the challenges, wife has helped me see the positive side of things.

So right now, we’ve been told that we’re not getting an extra bed, so we have a couple of options:
1) Starve ourselves so we can better fit the two of us into a single twin bed. (Why is it called a twin when there’s only one of it?!)
2) Learn to sleep sideways. Which would leave our legs hanging over the side, but at least there’ll be ample space for the both of us. And about 4-5 other visiting friends when you all come to see us.
3) Buy a new bed.

I’m sure something good will come out of this. =D

Setting up…

First impression counts and Boston gave me a good one. It is indeed a clean and green city with beautiful skyline and good-natured people (relatively).

It has been a long day as we went about getting the keys to our apartment and bringing the luggage in two batches from the hotel to the apartment. Back-breaking…=( Actually, Ken was the one who suffered more who was ever so willing to help out in every way.
Our apartment is about 15 mins’ walk from Boston College (based on our speed) or 2 train stops away. It was a nice place except that it came with a weird smell and rather stuffy. Otherwise, I thought it met my expectations. Apparently, the hubs was not that happy with what he saw as he expected a bigger place a more well-maintained one. Oh well, the place would be good in time to come!
For the next few days, we have to start looking for bed and household products. It’s so exciting to set up a home!

 

The adventures begin!

And it started when the plane was about to take off from Changi.
It became rather strange when we were stuck to our seats for a good 45 min and that all the overhead bins were open. The passenger in front of me started asking his neighbour, “What happened?” “No idea, perhaps some security issues?”

The pilot then eventually informed us,” Ladies and gentlemen, I guess it’s time to inform you what has happened. We have received news that the authorities have custody of a passenger who has tested positive for explosives. For securities’ sake, we have to search the plane thoroughly. Shortly, we will have the sniffer dog on board. I must tell you, in all my flying experience, this is the first time I have encountered this. In this time and age, anything can happen and we want to be assured that everything will be all right. We ask for your patience as we conduct the checks.”

Exciting, isn’t it? I was scared stiff because in all my flying experience as a passenger, I, too have never encountered such an issue. You could sense the apprehension on the passengers’ faces as the dog (don’t know what breed) came on board.

Finally, we were off, 1.5 hours late and many of our passengers were affected as they could not make it in time for the connecting flights. Incidentally, I saw some colleagues too, all bound for their postgraduate studies =).

It was a painful >20 hours’ flight. I believe the reason why I have not attempted to fly to this part of the world is because of the arduous long wait and being stuck to that small seat for so long. It’s not enjoyable at all! Plus, well, we do not have nice pretty stewardesses and good food =p. Food on the plane is already quite awful but this airline makes it worse. Arghh..I was shaking my head as I contemplated how they could serve such plastic-looking food and we are going to a country which gives birth to a number of great chefs?

So, in the end, we reached Boston, being informed that 3 pieces of our luggage did not make it on the same plane. Arghh.. thankfully they were able to track it and assured us that they would be on the next flight and be sent to our hotel soon.

Not that bad. Throughout this initial part of the journey, I learnt to pray. Things do not and will not go as smooth as we want it to be but we need to know and have the peace that God is in control as the hubs kept reminding me right when we had the scare on board.

So we checked into Hilton hotel @ Logan Airport, had a good swim and collapsed into bed.

The adventures have begun!

Moving…

In slightly more than 24 hours, we will be on our plane to Boston.
2 different persons with 2 suitcases, 2 backpacks and 2 carry-ons. So we intended to travel light.
A new life begins.

Last post

I believe this will be my last post for this blog. And I say this with a tinge of sadness in me. It was really not easy from the beginning when I realised from Ken that he has received his scholarship and that we would be leaving in Aug 2010. A large course of my life has changed since that piece of news and well, I must admit they are positive changes. I delayed my going back to school, extended my stay in TDD, decided to get married to a most wonderful man and then changing my focus from self to family and in the end, to leave Singapore for a while.

Change is the only constant, so they say and I’m to embrace it, but not without much difficulty. I realised I prefer the familiar and find it hard to adapt to changes. The dear hubs really had to bear with me as I go through these changes.

And so, I’m leaving soon for Boston for a while. 1.5 years to be exact. I’m very sure things will be fine, fun even but a part of me is constantly allowing fear to creep in. The hubs who had spent 4 3 years of his life overseas for his undergraduate studies definitely had it easier, I suppose. 
Meanwhile, do take care! We leave you with these- our very local boy with his Nasi briyani and chendol!

Binge session & meet-up II

Housewarming at the Sng’s and also a farewell lunch for us, all cooked by Joanne. I have respect for this wonderful lady because I feel she has the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman – supporting the man of the household, making sure the home is in good condition and taking good care of the son. This day, she cooked carrot cake and made chendol at my request and I must say they were really marvelicious!

This one year with the CG has been great although in the beginning stage we were unsure if we could fit in. God has ben great and prompted us to stay put. They have indeed been a blessing and I hope we have been also done our part to bless them in our small ways.

     
Some of the dishes Joanne cooked

Meet up with ex-colleagues

From the bookshelf: Profiles from the kitchen

“No one thinks it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyable; but if cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet. ” ~ Julia Child.

I love the profiles mentioned in the book. Love the humble beginnings and their associations with food. They had direct contact with the kitchen and held high regard for the craft.

The life of Julia Child as depicted in the book made me believe that anyone who has a great interest in the culinary arts would be able to do well in it no matter where or how you started. She was a normal salaried worker until she met and married Paul which saw the beginnings of her interaction with cooking. Of course, her stay in Paris helped to fuel that interest and she soon saw the rapid development of her passion.

I was rather inspired by her life story and thought I could be like her too! I would be flying off to Boston and would have every opportunity to work in the kitchen! And I remember that I had the DVD of Julie & Julia which made a very enjoyable night on a perfectly normal weekday.

=)

binge session & meet-up I

Dinner with family @ ECP with my fav hawker food.

Some were nice esp the laksa but others were =(

   

On leave!

I’m officially on leave as of today! Yay!

Felt a bit lost.

Oh well, there’s a lot of packing to be done.

Over the past few years, I have seen and worked with different kinds of leaders. Thankfully, there were more whom I could look up to as compared to those who were warming their seats. I. Will. Aspire. To. Be. A. Good. Leader.

These 2 2/3 years in HQ have been precious to me. I discover that I indeed prefer teaching to deskbound job and definitely the interaction with both students and teachers. It has been fun nonetheless in STB because of the caring and loving culture; the staff really look out for one another and we became friends rather than mere colleagues.

The period when the PD review was in progress was also one of the most memorable moments that a few of us shared. We were involved in some gound-breaking initiatives developments and worked real hard, sometimes way into the night. I have never read so much research papers in that short span of time but I really enjoyed writing that particular paper (only that particular piece which was my pride and joy). We were always going back to the drawing board after some of those dreaded meetings. Oh, of course, those drawings that we each came up with! And we really had a good laugh at ZM’s. That team was the best team that I have worked with over so many years of studies and work because we drew on each other’s strengths and we worked relentlessly until the concepts were approved by the deities.

Of course, we were under great leadership. I love the two-metre tall man to bits but am ever shy when I meet him face to face. He is very experienced and look into the interests of the teachers ( I guess it helps that the wifey is a teacher herself; she must have given much feedback to him). And of course, the dear woman who is also rather anti-social. She, well, fought for our welfare when we were working real hard and was involved in the writing of those papers. I love such leaders. And together, we made a great team.

So, my stay in TDD was filled with sweet memories. I am leaving them, friends whom I have gone through ups and downs and those whom we have shared much laughter with.

And yes, I am leaving with my colleague, my best friend and as we close one chapter of our lives, we are embracing the next with great anticipation.

Au revoir.

    

2 more days…

and I got my International Driving Permit! So I learnt that if you were to go before lunch, there will be little crowd.. It was really a breeze.

I’m thankful that the hubs helped me in my packing despite having things to do on hand. So we are halfway through! Yahoo! And my dear Gynis gave me a whole list of advice for US shopping. Hmm…

And I managed to register transportation for NYC marathon’s startpoint. Thank God for FB’s reminder!

Last dessert with colleagues.
And strangely, my blog seems to be hacked….Hmm..Something’s wrong!

Meanwhile I’ve got the shock of my life when I was notified of my paycheck for Aug. It was half the amount! My eyes popped out…How could it be so low? After informing the hubs, I realised that’s because I would be on leave soon and thus the amount. Oh dear, I would not be receiving any pay from next month onwards; how am I able to survive??? I had supported myself since for more than a decade already and then suddenly I have to depend on someone else? This is really something that I need to adapt!