Goodbye 2011

2011 had been great, if not, one of the best years thus far. That’s mostly because of the people God has blessed us with who helped us to grow so much in our faith. Being able to pursue our interests helped to make 2011 a wonderful year indeed. So overall, 2011 was awesome.

We ended 2011 with the meeting up of our ex-colleagues at Fengshan Market, treating ourselves to delicious local food.

 Courtesy of D.

And of course, we got our keys to our new apartment. Hooray! That is a great gift from the Lord and we did not waste time in meeting up with our ID. Hopefully we could move in latest by April.

So, the summary of my 2011 to-do list:

1. Drive in Boston at least once on an outing Completed!
I’ve driven to Wrentham Premium Outlets and Plymoth when the family came in June! It’s fun!

2. Clock 800km mileage by end 2011 Not met!
I’ve clocked the least mileage this year. I guess it all boils own to discipline. =/

3. Food/photography trip to NYC Completed!
An invitation from S, it was euphoria initially until it developed into apprehension. After all, since knowing and getting together with Ken, the thought of not being with him even for a few days sounds gloomy. But when I thought about those trips I had with my gfs, I thought ‘why not?’.

4. Plan tour of Boston for family Completed!

5. Bake 10 different cupcakes Not met
Macarons have taken over cupcakes and I was so intrigued by macarons that cupcakes were ignored. Sorry!

6. Bake 10 macarons of different flavor Completed!
What an adventure! Though I have attempted 10 different flavours, I will still bake more! I’m hooked!

7. Go for baking class  Completed!
No culinary education doesn’t mean the end of the world. I have signed up for an advanced baking course that spans over 5 sessions from The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and also other classes by Master Pastry Chef Delphin. Love these classes and I certainly hope we will have such classes in Singapore.

8. Teach baking of any item Completed!

9. Complete and write short reviews of 30 50 books Completed!
This is highly achievable since I have time here as compared to working life. I get most of my culinary information through such means and am so loving it! See my progress here! As of end Oct, I have read 55 books! What an achievement! =D

10. Half-marathon on/near wedding anniversary. Completed.
Ran the Boston half-marathon on 9 October.

11. Attend nutcracker in Boston. Completed!
It’s a tradition! Since I’m here, why not?

12. Attend a symphony in Boston. Completed!
Attended on 9 Dec compliments of the folks at PSIF! Thank you so much!

13. Go for pilates class and practice pilates Completed!
I know I have a weak back and I hope to strengthen it through such means.

14. 10 different types of sandwiches! Completed!
No evidence to show though. =(

15. Reread NT again I believe we have completed.
I’m doing various BS from NT and I realised over the years that I know so little about the Bible. There is so much to learn about the Almighty and while I would not be able to know everything, it does no harm in wanting to know more since His word is living and gives us life!

16. Visit apple farm in Autumn and bake one dessert from the picked apples!Completed!
It remains as one of the best outings I have had in New England.

17. Complete the tutorial on Pastries Completed!
Look for the tab ‘pastries’.

18. Do a tutorial for brioche Completed!
Look for the tab ‘brioche’.

19. Learn elementary French Japanese Not started at all. 
I guess this is not a priority at all.

20. Complete my home-based culinary programme Will always be work-in -progress…
I suppose this is an unrealistic goal because you can never learn enough. It’s always a work-in-progress and the more you read, the more you discover that you have so much more to learn! It’s just like reading the Bible. You can never say, “I know it all”. So this goal, I  conclude, is a badly crafted one.

TGIF

I’m thankful for weekends! And I believe I would be constantly looking forward to these days.

After four full days of meetings, I think I have had enough. Too much information downloading. So I’m thankful that I could leave earlier today to…get the keys to our new apartment! Yay!

It’s not brand new though and the apartment is in need of renovation. It’s a good start nonetheless.

Meeting up with ID tomorrow. Another step!

 

Busy bees

Since coming back, both K and I have been kept busy with work, meeting up with family and friends, viewing our flat (at last!) and meeting up with prospective IDs for our apartment.

Thankfully, we didn’t suffer too badly from jetlag. At most, we just woke up automatically at 2am and then went back to sleep. Apart from that, the days have been fine and we were able to go through the day without much trouble. Thank God!

It feels good to be back at BBTC though we didn’t manage to catch up with our cell group members since they went for a different session. There will always be opportunities!

Finally managed to see my dear nephew and he’s such a big boy now! The last time I saw him, he still needed someone to support his walking but now, he can manage on his own and can communicate with others. He’s such a nice boy and it’s a delight to be with him!

I believe if you have a genuine friendship with someone, you wouldn’t feel strange or uncomfortable with the friend even if you could only manage to meet up once in a blue moon. That happened to my friend, YL and I. On Tuesday, while running some errands, I casually msg her if she would be around the area. There was an enthusiastic reply and we met up, just like the good old times. The only difference is, we are no longer the gawky, bespectacled schoolgirls that we used to be. We have both blossomed into fine ladies! Ahem! =p

Work has been slow but not without stress. Being away from school for about four years can be daunting. Many things would have changed and there’s much reading up to do. Thankfully, I have wonderful colleagues who are supportive and bosses who are encouraging. The familiar aunties who welcomed me back warmly really made me feel much at home again. And with such colleagues come nice treats too. I could only say that I’m blessed. =)

Counting my blessings.

Home Sweet Home.

It’s feels good to be back.

After a tiring 24-hour’s flight, we finally stepped on familiar ground. Thank God for safety.

The few days before we departed from Boston, we were trying to meet up with as many friends as we could, on top of packing and giving away the stuff that still occupied the kitchen space. Thankfully friends chipped in to help and all were done by Thursday.

On Thursday evening itself, Ken and I attended PSS’ Christmas Party at Brownstone, Back Bay, and we finally experienced what Americans do at a party such as that. Yup, after 1.25 years in Boston!

When we returned to S and K’s place after that, we were pleasantly surprised by our dear friends who have come admist their busy schedules to give us a surprise farewell. I was touched. If there should be anything that makes me think fondly of my time in Boston, it would be these God-given friends who have been so encouraging and supportive to both of us. As we sang songs and prayed, there was a great sense of gratitude, coming from the Father. This family that He has granted us, will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Would I miss Boston? I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I have been longing to come home since the beginning. There is no doubt the very sweet memories and wonderful friends that I have made but home is still here.

And a new chapter begins.

3 more days

We were treated to lunch by J at Bon Chon. The last Saturday, we had wanted to visit this eatery but it was already full when we got there and had to wait for 40 minutes for a table. This time round, we decided that lunch would be less crowded and indeed it is!

Bon Chon didn’t disappoint us. We had their famous chicken in both soy garlic and hot sauce, crispy salmon salad and spicy pork bibimbap and all these for about US$30. Decent prices.

Bon Chon
123 Brighton Ave
(between Linden St & Harvard Ave)
Boston, MA 02134

In the evening before we headed for the Christmas must-do in Boston, we had Japanese at Toro Japanese and Korean Grill. We wouldn’t have gone for it if not for the fact that I had purchased some vouchers from restaurant.com and had chosen this restaurant to redeem one of the vouchers. I must remind myself that I shouldn’t go for such offers especially when there is a catch – you need to spend a certain amount before you can use the discount coupon. It didn’t help us save in the end. =( Food was average. Sashimi wasn’t excellent. Bleh.

Toro Sushi and Grill
1245 Commonwealth Ave
Allston, MA 02134

And it’s off to Boston Ballet Company‘s Nutcracker next @ the Boston Opera House!! Love the grand interior design. This completes our holiday season in Boston. =p

TGIF

9 Dec is one of the most memorable moments in 2011. Needless to say, this day was spent with many precious friends and of course, the hubs.

The morning was spent transporting the beloved standmixer and some other baking and kitchen stuff to VBH. We have decided that the good folks at VBH would be the best new owners for the standmixer and decided to let it go. Packing it into the box, there was no doubt a tinge of sadness that swept over me. After all, it is my first standmixer and one which the hubs so readily bought for me upon our first few months into Boston to encourage me to pursue my interest. Bidding goodbye to this faithful friend is difficult but I’m sure it will serve greater purposes in future.

Having been in Boston for over a year and this day, we finally made our way to the Symphony Hall to catch Boston Pops in action. The tickets were gifts from our small group in PSIF and sweet A wanted to help me fulfill one of my 30 to-do items and it was completed this day! The 2-hour performance was better than expected and the hubs and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Evening. It was our last session with our beloved small group. Looking back, we have had very good memories with them. Somehow, this group has an unexplainable attraction and I believe it has to come from the good Lord. Love and a constant desire to know God. That’s what it is. And this day, dear Nat celebrated my birthday by teaching me how to play the ukelele and bought a cheesecake for me! I’m soooo touched!

Blessed =)

Bamboo Thai Restaurant

Tucked along 1616 Commonwealth Ave, you would miss the restaurant if you are not observant enough. I passed by this eatery many times on my way to Whole Foods but realised its presence only until I bought a voucher from Restaurant.com. 

We invited N Chan along since she is a Thai and would be able to determine if the food is authentically Thai and delicious. I must say we were not disappointed! We were served by very friendly waitresses and having N Chan with us is an advantage since she could use her native language to communicate with them and to recommend some of the local food to us. I especially like tod mun and crispy tamarind duck. Worth visiting!

Thai Ice Tea. Very sweet!

Tod Mun

krathong thong

All the starters and soup

Crispy Tamarind Duck and the happy gals

Fried ice-cream. Coconut and Vanilla.

Bamboo Thai Restaurant
1616 Commonwealth Ave, Brighton, MA

While waiting…

..for the hubs to finish his class and then to head out for dinner with N chan, allow me to list the things I need/want to do when I reach my sunny island.

1. Have a cup of kopi kau siew tai, mee siam and kaya toast at Killiney.
2. Have a plate of Fried Carrot Cake (white pls. black later).
3. Facial (appointment made!)
4. Dental checkup (appointment made!)
5.  Trim and have hair treatment. Oh! My poor hair. You have truly been mistreated.
6. Run along my favourite ECP.
7. Have a meal of home-cooked food at mom’s.
8. See my nephews and pinch Dallen’s cheeks.
9. Eat a bowl of Bak Chor Mee at Blk 511.
10. Eat lots and lots of FISH! I’m deprived of this white meat here.
11. Eat at Miharu!
12. Get iphone 4S.
13. Reconnect with cell group members again.
14. Bring dad to Church for Chinese service.
15. Have wanton mee at my uncle’s stall. His wanton mee is the best, much like the ones in Hong Kong!
16. Have teochew fish porridge at Marine Parade Food Centre.
17. Have Katong Laksa.
18. Get my bum on my bike again!
19. Meet up with prospective IDs.
20. Swim, swim, swim at my favourite pool! I need the tan!

YAY!

The day I grew older…

We were both busy. He, with his studies and papers to write. I, with school and baking class. But what a sweet surprise I had when I went back home for a short rest before heading out for class.

The hubs was nowhere in sight (he’s in class) but his gesture filled my heart with warmth.

Spending each day with you is a sweet blessing. Looking forward to more wonderful years with you.

Overwhelmed.

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the pre-registration conference workshop organised by ASCD and I chose the session by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. The topic was on Curriculum 21: Upgrading Curriculum and Assessment.

As I entered the room, what greeted me was a scene likened to that of a Starbucks cafe in that the attendees were all equipped with their laptops and ipads. Paper is dated, as the speaker went. The session had the attendees try out the different tools mentioned by Heidi and I felt soooo lost without my laptop.

A powerful speaker she definitely is and all of us were all ears through the one-day workshop. No dozing off, no conversation too (she would point you out in front of all others!). She was on task and her high expectations for the workshop had benefitted us.

These are the tools mentioned. The work now is to explore which are the ones we could use to help us and value-add to our teaching.

– PREZI
– OOVOO
– Pininterest
– Backchannel
– wordle.net
– vocab grabber
– gapminder.org
– tag galaxy from C21’s Clearinghouse
– Ngram viewer
– museum box
– zooburst
– Livebinder.com
– timetoast.com
–  quizlet
– http://www.printwhatyoulike.com/ (recommended by PSS’ TA)
Many of the tools can be found on C21 website.

I wish I had a recorder that day. Just to record everything she had said.

Quote of the day.

Someone has said,”Education is going from an unconscious to conscious awareness of one’s ignorance.”..No one has a corner on wisdom. All the name-dropping in the world does not heighten the significance of our character. If anything, it reduces it. Our acute need is to cultivate a willingness to learn and to remain teachable.

Charles Swindoll

Farewell party with PSIF small group

It’s never easy to say goodbye especially to friends whom you have come to love so dearly. This group of friends has supported us throughout our time in Boston and we have shared much joy together. A, the party planner, has designed this English afternoon tea party with a White Elephant Gift Exchange activity and it was so much fun! A, if you are reading this, I just want to say a big thank-you to you!

English Afternoon Tea. A theme thought of by A who had recently visited UK for her honeymoon.

This picture has all my favourite people in it. They are the Changs whose company we really enjoyed (they are really funny people), the Yims who is a dynamic couple and are a blessing to so many and QT whom we have got to know these past few months and is really a gem (it’s a pity we do not have the opportunity to know her more).

This couple has been of absolute help to us. Countless help.

And a box of handmade chocolates from L.A.Burdick from A. I ❤ you so much and we really had fun during the activity. I’m so going to conduct this activity in any future party back home!

And thanks to these good fellas, K and I would be attending a symphony soon! Yay!

For your reading pleasure

I think I’m nuts. Knowing that I have only 2 more weeks to go, I’m still borrowing this amount of books. When K went to the library with me, he asked, “You know you have not much time hor?” Of course I know but these are good books and to be able to flip through the pages and read some in detail is good enough.

Summary:
Max Lucado’s books for the children are absolutely delightful. They are a reminder of your self-worth when you are chasing the wind.

Watched Eat, Pray, Love and thought it’s overrated. Many people raved about it. Is it the travelling part? The eating part? The searching of your balance? I believe many of us can be lost in different stages of our lives and would search for the ‘balance’ or identity. That’s when you drop everything and go in search of it. I can identify with that ‘lostness’ and probably have done what the author did in my 20s. So, what I love most about the movie is the portrayal of the cuisine in the three countries. =)

Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar is a good read. Like her journey into the world of baking.

Bought, Borrowed and Stolen gives you a glimpse of the food in the different countries that the author has been throughout her lives. A book to help you understand the different cultures.

Nigella Kitchen. I would like to purchase it and add to my library. Enough said?