Saturday, February 17, 2018

拜年 :: 戍歲祝福萬事順、狗年兆豐五穀香


農曆年初二是解放日咯!沒人會在乎我的行蹤,也無人要求我在某某地方按時出現,甚至夠膽吩咐我一定要笑盈盈與他人打交道。初二那種自由的滋味真爽。就是去我想去的地方,見我想見的人。今年一口氣高高興興去了四戶人家拜年。

是,家家都有本難念的經。朋友與父母親之間從小到大的故事我也略懂。就是因為他們終究不是和我一起住,摩擦根本不存在,所以我以外人身分,一年見幾十次,一點兒難度都沒有。幾時讓我上門拜年,當然由朋友決定、友誼是我們之間的信任。友誼久了,當然也得懂得什麼不該和他方父母透露。你我很清楚這種複雜懊惱巧妙的子女關係。🙃

早上我喝了瓶牛奶當早點就出門了。臉皮還真厚 — 午餐、下午茶、晚餐和宵夜都在朋友家吃了。華人傳統籍貫和娘惹東南亞風味的美食全吞進肚子。忙著吃,都忘了一一拍照。咖啡和紅酒也喝了人家幾瓶。嘻嘻。晚餐最過分,吃飽了還很不客氣地接受Aunty S 的好意,把好吃的都打包回家。😬 當然不是空手而去拜年的啦、有些莫名其妙淘氣的長輩還是會分紅包給我。我臉皮是厚,但不至於厚到離譜、有帶菊花茶葉,大紅棗,燕窩之類的小禮物孝敬長輩。能到朋友家向他們的父母拜年是福。祝可愛的父母們生體安康,家和萬事興。

Friday, February 16, 2018

年初一 :: 金雞獻瑞欽郅治、玉犬呈祥展宏猷

早上舞獅采青留下的......福。

其實每年農曆初一就是一個字,‘忍’,再‘忍’。😞 一年被逼見一次的親戚能有多親?往往都是老一輩念舊,其實大大與我無關。我對 ‘親情’ 的社會定義看得很淡很輕。我對這個節日沒好感也沒興趣。我對農曆新年多半習俗毫無認同。到了四十歲還是這樣子、做的每一件事都是儘量滿足上一輩罷了。

我從小就不是很喜歡熱鬧,也不善於和人相處。過了這麼多年,和我有接觸的他們也終於明白逼我敷衍了事是沒什麼安樂感的。我從來不會刻意去討好任何人,也不做那種無聊的巴結。他們已經領教過我是多麼不喜歡人潮,清楚我是極端不善於寒暄,也知道我最多做點門面功夫了事。誰有精力追究,就等於和我撕破臉,因為我會當眾回答交代。說起難堪,他們死要面子,不會和我鬥嘴的。平時生活裡都沒有他們的存在,所以他們也深知肚明。到了今天井水不犯河水,簡直是十分和氣。這樣不就很好咯!今年農曆新年可能是我最愉快的。✌🏻

今天只開口說了“hello”和“byeeee”,加幾句“Happy New Year”之類的祝賀了事,已經算是表現特佳了。六點正立刻閃人,跑去Manhattan Bar喝杯超級棒的金湯力。真舒服。好笑的是,我不是一個人,而是早約了六位志同道合的朋友。至少今晚有好友陪伴,我靜靜坐著不說話也無人會指責我。

Thursday, February 15, 2018

年夜飯 :: 雞去瑤池傳喜訊、犬來大地報春意

I was so glad that the gym was open today. Needed to work off aggression. 😉 (Need to think about Lent too. Oops.) Went for my first kettlebell class bravely using an 8-kg, then a HIIT class. Was a tad winded after. Nice! The muscles might probably ache soon since it was the first time I did both classes. What was even better- The Daily Cut was still open! Gobbled a happy bowl of savory salad. They’re forever out of lingonberry sauce though, tsk.

The festive season is always a time where I over-eat. But that's not too bad because these calories will be burnt off. I like food, not snacks. I never have a problem saying no to the various snacks or whatever because I don't totally fancy these Lunar New Year snacks. Not pineapple tarts, definitely not the sugary sweet items, and I'm picky even over the savory snacks.

The man's mom's side of the family always rustles up a reunion dinner. I'm glad that this dinner is usually hosted at a hotel restaurant, because I'm so fussy about food that I don't eat half the items on the menu. It's rather awkward to reject food if some aunt or uncle cooked it. Tonight's dinner was seafood-based. Perfect. No giant plates of meats. There were giant grilled prawns which I ignored. There was a strange fried rice dish of silky fowl with wolf-berries. Half the table went yucks when they realized the black bits in the fried rice weren't olives but silky fowl. Hurhurhur. I avoid chicken wherever possible. Anyway, for me, eating rice at 11pm would be just madness. So I skipped the dish.

This reunion dinner is done at the second seating at the restaurants, and never begins earlier than 9pm and often ends at 11.30pm. Zzzzzz. So I've learnt to schedule other dinners before that. Those would begin at 5.30pm or 6pm, and it'd be perfect to fill my growling tummy before sitting down to a second meal again at 9pm when I wouldn't be eating very much.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

POP Pilates Certified!


Signed up for a POP Pilates instructor training session. It’s a birthday present to myself- get myself out of the comfort zone, and do something extroverted, and something that isn’t too time-consuming. Had to brace myself for the onset of group dynamics, and basically, it's a tough thing for an introvert to do.

POP Pilates program director Jules Fultz had flown in from California to lead the master classes and the instructor-training workshop. As the lead facilitator, she was great and all bubbly, and frankly, very good at doing this. I wryly noted that she stuck to the standard workshop facilitation structure, which works well. Hurhurhur. Couldn’t help noticing it. As promised, Jules made it a safe and fun space, and everyone felt comfortable. The full-day workshop went way easier than expected.

It helped that there were familiar faces at the workshop, and I didn't feel too out of place. I mugged like hell and memorized every track of the 55-minute choreography, aside from the one I was assigned to. 😬😂 Honestly, those were easy. It’s the confidence of leading a group exercise class that I sorely lack. That could only come with time and experience.

The really convenient portion- as much as I'm not quite into the genre of music, the selected songs works for the choreography, and made it easy for everyone to follow along. It's a friendly workout. Importantly, licensing and public air-play are all sorted. Submitted the video to the evaluation panel for the final hurdle (one take, no edits); and I passed! Am certified now. Hurrah! #POPArmy

I don't have the personality to be a lead facilitator in a group session. As it is, I shy away from all lead roles at work, and in my social sphere. I have a preferred type of gym instructor; that’s why I keep going to their classes! Hahaha. But I can never be like them, because I’m not a people-person by nature. That’s my biggest hindrance to leading group classes.

I'd be quite happy to cover classes for the regular instructors. It takes quite a big leap of faith for anyone (or an organization) to put me in charge of a class when I have zero experience leading group exercises. Oof. Anyway, I've bravely signed up to co-teach with an awesome instructor. Gotta at least try it before I wimp out right? We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Chanel's 'Misia'


Opened the birthday present the dearest girlfriend bought for me. And grinned. I do like this scent that she had picked out. I was all the more tickled because the gift came with a complimentary little bag of flowers from the boutique (since it's February and she bought it close to Valentine's Day). The already harried sales executives actually bothered to pack flowers daily for their customers.

Yes, girlfriends come over to the flat, but it's not as if they go through my toiletries and cosmetics. I've very little interest to talk cosmetics and beauty stuff with them. I'm not into it. 🙃 Those perfume bottles and whatever make-up stuff aren't displayed or visible to anyone at all. So nobody knows what brands I use or what scents are preferred. But well, now that I've written this post, everyone knows. Ooof. At this moment, I favor Misia (named for Misia Sert) very much. Beige or 1932 works too, but Misia remains a top choice. The current bottle is finishing. This gift came at a perfect timing.

When I complimented the girlfriend on her excellent choice and asked her about how she ended up with Misia, she hilariously said, "Muahaha cos we are same same but different re scents, especially i know which Chanel scents you like so can kinda gauge, and i know which ones i have that you don't use so those are great for elimination". She's seriously indulging me lah. #winning My girlfriends are likely to make fairly accurate guesses about the kind of scents I avoid. This girl would know. It's not just the gift; anyone can go out and buy a bottle of perfume. It's the thought process behind it that's much appreciated and makes me feel totally spoilt.

Monday, February 12, 2018

‘The Specter of Failure’

I follow Incidental Comics and look forward to little snippets every other week. It’s created by cartoonist Grant Snider. He’s an orthodontist in his day job, and from his drawings, he certainly got plenty of inspiration from that. I think many friends are following the dude too. Quite a fair number of them keep sharing his posts. I haven’t gotten around to buying his new book ‘The Shape of Ideas’ (2017).

Last month, I giggled at that new comic ‘My Bookshelf’. Well. Haha. We’ve all been there! Although there might be new situations caused by the arrival of my first Kindle years ago. At the very least, I don’t have to worry about buying multiple copies of books. Before thinking about getting new reads in hard copies, I tend to check Kindle store, past book purchases and the local library.


That day, a new Janaury comic popped up. It’s titled ‘The Specter of Failure’. Ahhhh. Failure. This is a word I’m afraid of. It’s the specter that occasionally makes it difficult for me to fall asleep. Okay, I rarely am kept awake by anything, and least of all a new pet or newborn human. I sleep rather well. This specter haunts me in my waking hours. It lurks at the back of the mind and casts aspersions on optimism. Luckily for this specter, or unluckily, I do Plan A to Z and try, as much as possible, to plan for all unfortunate scenarios, even those outside of my control.

This year, I’m afraid of failure on many fronts. Well, basically, this is me every year, every week. Nobody likes failing. I don’t, and I certainly try to avoid that for as much as I can. As the prep for all work and personal projects slowly take shape, self-doubt has begun to creep in. I’ll have to trust my brains, my trained competencies and my uhhh talent......of winging it. Hahahahaha. I suppose I’ll manage, as I always do.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Great Tomahawk Steak Experiment


The friends rounded us up for dinner because they wanted to grill tomahawk steaks for the first time, just to see if they were worth the hype. Okaaaay. Potluck! The hosts provided the mains of beef and such delicious garlic mash. The rest of us brought seafood white beehoon in gravy, fried rice, sotong balls and curry puffs, a salad of stir-fried mushrooms and peppers with pomegranate seeds, homemade spicy grilled chicken, homemade hummus and chips.

Tomahawks are pricier than regular boneless ribeye, mainly because of its weight. The jury’s still out on whether the extra few inches of bone make a difference to the final flavors of the meat. It’s tough for the marrow to melt on the grill. It kinda works for us because everyone at the table knows what to do with them bones and leftover bits of meat. Bone broth time! Bones would certainly help with a hearty beef soup or boiled as stock for whatever congee, fried rice, etc.


Told you this is why we're happy to have friends feed us steaks at home. They can do absolute justice to the most expensive cuts of beef. The hosts trotted out not one but two types of tomahawks marinated and oven-grilled the same way. One classic Australian with the dramatic long rib bone, and the other was a shortened on-the bone American. Both were grain-fed. I won’t bore you with details of origins; the vote unanimously went to the American prime rib on-the-bone. This is probably going to be an ongoing experiment for the year. Hahahahaha. There’re many different permutations to try- grass-fed beef, different marinades, and moving them to cook on the outdoor grill with charcoal and fire. Such fun. 

Both tomahawk steaks were done beautifully medium to medium rare. A meat thermometer is absolutely essential when we grill a whole fish, and definitely for huge chunks of meat. The hosts shoved them into the oven for an hour and made sure the meats hovered at 56°C before taking them out to sit for five minutes. The done-ness was perfectly distributed. The meat was seasoned simply with salt and pepper. And upon serving, only salt flakes were required. Both meats were flavorful, but tonight, the American tomahawk steak checked off all boxes and won hands down. 

There was another birthday cake, for me. 😋 Everyone’s been busy, stressed, and dealing with lots of absurdity. It was very nice to put those aside for a few hours, make a date to chill out at home, and simply enjoy one another’s company and conversation over great food and drinks. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kueh Bingka Ubi With A Candle


The dear girlfriends rustled up a birthday lunch for me at the quieter Violet Oon Bukit Timah. Lunch was unhurried and conversation was beautiful. They insisted on small gifts and a really cute tiny bear to accompany the thoughtful items.

Food was good and we ordered loads of dishes. I do enjoy the kopi-o-siu-dai here. Had two lovely cups. Cackled when they made me order dessert, and it came with a candle. All riiiight. A slab of kueh bingka ubi (or in some quarters, kueh bengkah) it was. Of all kueh, I probably only take kueh kosui and kueh bingka ubi, preferably doused with less sugar and only gula melaka.

This year, I'm doing small gatherings with the friends to mark my fortieth. There're other personal projects and things I'd be doing, of course, to mark the milestone of life, but those aren't done in a day. While blowing out candles on many birthday cakes at the various parties, all my wishes were to have the faeriefolk healthy and happy, and find strength in tears and adversity. These people who love me and bother to make time for me in various ways and in each of their unique manner — they deserve all the good and wonderful that life has to offer. At this lunch, I had hugs and wishes from these girlfriends, and the precious gift of their company- that's worth all the blue diamonds and gold in the world.

Friday, February 09, 2018

At 40, Finally!

子曰:吾,十有五,而志于学,三十而立,四十而不惑,五十而知天命,六十而耳顺,七十而从心所欲,不逾矩。

When I had to study the writings of Confucius for Higher Chinese at A'Levels and General Paper in Chinese, I truly hated the dude. While I have no aversion towards the language, my brain isn't really wired to think in Chinese lah. Neither does it like to do Shakespeare, Chaucer, Aristotle, Plato or Socrates. Today, at 40 years old, I kinda agree with this statement from Confucius in 'The Analects'. Although I currently disagree with his assessment of the fifth decade of life.

The faeriefolk and friends asked if I was doing anything else to mark my fortieth. I said, "nothing grand or fireworks-worthy". It's a choice isn't it? Some mark it with a trek or do a marathon, Ironman or Spartan Race. Others organize fund-raising activities, get on with a huge party, arrange loads of dinners, or turn that dream vacation into reality. We can! We celebrate this milestone of life however we choose to. There isn't a need to adhere to any sort of stereotypes or expectations. Make our own paths. We have the whole year to decide what we want to do with this fourth decade of life.

The birthday began at 6am with a reflection with God and my thoughts, a gorgeous view of sunrise, then a satisfying sweat session at the gym, lunch with my old folks, and a quiet dinner with lovelies which included a superb tom yam soup. For me, this is exactly how I'd like to mark my milestone year- quietly and simply. Like it's another day. Routine, mundane-ness and peace are much treasured. I'm an introvert, and I make no apologies for that. I'm incredibly lucky to be surrounded by people who love me, and remind me of it constantly. These are faeriefolk. They love this quirky me fiercely, as I do them. I've learnt to live with many consequences of decisions made in my youth. Regrets are but few. I'm grateful to have health and strength, I'm happy to be able to serve my community and old folks. I'm privileged to be blessed with plenty in life. It's such a delight to turn 40.