A year in two posts — Part 2

And we continue on my journey of randomness through the “lost months”, during which I disappeared off the face of the blogosphere.

(Click here for Part 1)

 

October 2012 — Thundering TVRs

One Sunday morning in October, I had to wake up at a stupid time like 2:30 in the morning to make the drive to London to take part in an event called TVR Thunder in the Tunnels, which saw something like 100 TVRs thundering through the streets (and tunnels) of London city.

 

Early morning camwhoring

 

TVRs are British-made race cars that sound like a cross between a jet ski and an earthquake.

When you’re sitting in one, and it’s racing through a tunnel together with two or three other TVRs, and you have the roof off, you’re experiencing one of the finest examples of aural abuse.

 

TVRs in row

 

TVRs in row

 

TVRs in row

 

I tried to take some action videos, but race cars are not the smoothest rides in the world so you don’t really want to be taking videos while you’re sitting in a racing TVR.

Watching the replays, which were mainly supersonic speed montages of ceiling, floor, body parts and metal, nearly gave me a seizure so I deleted them all.

 

November 2012 — Bangs

Cut my hair!

It’s been half a year since, and I’m still in two minds about it. Some days I love it and some days I hate it and wish I had my old hair back. But then I would remember that there were also days I equally hated my old hair, and that the wisest course of action would be to retreat into a Zen meditation state of chocolate bars and iPad gaming. End of story.

 

Bangs bangs bangs

 

December 2012 — Graduation

I don’t remember ever feeling so relieved about completing something as much as when I graduated Montessori College.

 

People

 

And people

 

I am now a certified Montessori Directress and my plan is to stay home and take a break forever to recuperate from the trauma of seriously the most mentally, physically and emotionally taxing course I’ve ever undergone.

It’s a good course, though. I appreciate and understand children a lot more now. I mean, I loved them before, but they were just screaming bundles of cuteness. Now I see them as proper human beings who have individual personalities just like adults, and they have valid reasons for everything they do, even throwing tantrums, so give them a break (but not a Kit Kat, it’s bad for them).

 

January 2013 — Freedom

So here’s me taking my break, doing some gaming, some cooking and, occasionally, some camwhoring.

 

Slug

 

Prawn aglio olio
Prawn aglio olio

 

So, it was January, a new year, a very special time of the year for resolutions and renewal. And I made a resolution to make no more resolutions for the rest of my life because we all know how they end.

Okay, well, the truth is that I was (still am) in a bit of a transitional period, shuttling between two countries, during which time a lot of things are out of my control. So my solution is… yes, chocolate bars and iPad gaming.

 

February 2013 — Singapore

I went back to Singapore for six weeks. It was mostly an eat fest. What else is there to do in Singapore?

I should rephrase. What else is there better to do in Singapore? Nothing, is what. This time, I didn’t have to go all over the place to eat my favourite things, which is a huge relief because I would be the happiest girl alive if I never have to take an MRT again, ever.

My dad had renovated his kitchen last year so he enjoys cooking doubly now, I think. He cooked everything I wanted. Some of the things I asked for he had never cooked before, so he Googled it and produced it and it was good.

 

In the kitchen

 

Sweet and sour pork
Sweet and sour pork

 

Fried carrot cake
Fried carrot cake

 

Kung po prawn
Kung po prawn

 

Chilli crab
Chilli crab

 

Laksa
Laksa

 

Sambal ladies fingers
Sambal ladies fingers

 

Roti prata
Roti prata

 

Char siew pork rib
Char siew pork rib

 

Tahu goreng
Tahu goreng

 

Hokkien mee
Hokkien mee

 

And that sums up my 6-week stay in Singapore.

Okay, not really.

That’s just a modest sampling of the stuff my dad cooked for me. And Piers. Piers came to visit for three weeks, lucky boy. He got to watch my dad make chinese rice wine. I love that wine.

 

March 2013 — Bangkok

When Piers was in Singapore, Nanny Wen had to make a sudden trip to Bangkok for work (she’s looking after the Nuffnang Thailand office at the moment) so we decided to follow her on a whim.

I don’t want to do a whole post on my trip there, so I’m going to try to sum it up in a sentence.

Bangkok is a repository of utility poles and power lines wound around each other 20 times over in a scary fashion admidst a hodgepodge of contradicting sights of dirty, rickety street stalls selling food covered in flies, modern shopping centres and very pretty women on billboards.

I don’t suppose that gives a very flattering picture of Bangkok, but I loved it there because people were friendly and the food was great.

Geez, you’re thinking, does this girl’s life have to revolve around food?

Yes, I’m afraid.

But it was a good holiday and here are some photos to prove it.

 

Back of my head

 

Indeed, a picture of the back of my head is excellent proof that we had a good holiday in Bangkok.

Nanny Wen did my hair, you see.

You know how girls are stupid over things like hair.

 

Okay, here we are in Chinatown, at a street restaurant where the tables are literally on the pavement of a busy one-way road. The tables also go into the alleyways between buildings, so as to make full use of every inch of real estate in the area.

 

Chinatown

 

Chinatown

 

Chinatown

 

And there’s a “Western Street” full of bars that promise not to check your ID while giving you very strong cocktails, push carts with large varieties of skewered fried insects which you have to pay money to photograph, and countless stalls offering fake ID services. You can get any ID for anything in the world in Bangkok.

 

Bar

 

There’s a nice chill-out place for eating, shopping and partying called Asiatique, which is accessible by a free ferry service if you’re on the wrong side of the island or don’t want to drive because, trust me, you don’t want to get caught in a traffic jam in Bangkok.

We took a ferry in but then followed Nanny Wen’s friends out by car. We were stuck in the car park for about an hour and a half because everyone was trying to get out of the car park and the road outside was also jammed.

 

Asiatique

 

There’s a really good restaurant called Somboon Seafood which I would highly recommend. The curry crab is really good.

 

Curry crab

 

And here’s a group photo to round up my Bangkok trip.

 

Group photo

 

You can see the boys in the mirror, lol. On the right is Piers, taking the photograph, and on the left is Nanny Wen’s business partner, who drove us around to nice eateries in Bangkok.

 

April 2013 — Leeds

Once again, Piers’ company annual dinner and dance happened in Leeds because that’s where the head office is. The event was held in a ballroom at the Royal Armouries Museum, which is a nice touristy place to visit.

 

My name

 

After the party

 

I didn’t take many photos because I didn’t like the way I looked. Haha. That is a completely valid reason to put away the camera all night. Yes, it’s one of those stupid girl things you will never understand if you’re not a girl, that is, a vainish one.

And that ends Part 2 of my year in two posts.

From here on, it is my plan that I will update frequently rather than wait until next year to lump another entire year in two posts.

That, I think, is a rather good plan if I may say so myself.

How to lose your appetite fast

A few months ago, I started experiencing a loss of appetite and it has been really disconcerting.

If you have been following my blog over the years, you might have concluded that I was an irredeemable glutton, such was my penchant to share endless gastronomical conquests, replete with mouthwatering photos.

 

Noms

 

I have loved food, especially unhealthy junk food, all my life. Barring the occasional loss of appetite due to temporal sickness, depression or jetlag, I’ve always lived to eat and looked forward to every meal with hungry impatience, always dreaming of all sorts of savoury delights rolling around my taste buds.

And then, all of that suddenly gone. Almost overnight.

I woke up one day and found no urge to eat. No food excited me, not even my favourite things, and I have many of those, trust me. One day rolled into two days, which rolled into one month, two months.

Piers would ask me, “If you could have anything to eat right now, anything at all, what would it be?” And I would say, “Nothing at all!”

Putting something into my mouth to chew and swallow started seeming a bit like a chore, even when I was hungry. I did still occasionally enjoy tasty food, but the enjoyment would be at about 30% of what it should have been.

“O.M.G. I’ve died and gone to heaven” became “Okay, this is quite tasty so it’s less of a chore to eat”.

 

Om nom nom

 

At first I thought it was because I was sick of the food in England, since the variety there is quite limited, and I’ve always craved variety. I thought my appetite would go back to normal once I was back in Singapore and I looked forward to eating all the food I missed.

But I came back to Singapore and nothing changed. Faced with all the best food you could find in the whole wide world, my appetite remain unmoved.

It has been two weeks since I’ve returned to Singapore and I have woken up with dismay every day, no urge to eat, thinking of each day wasted that I’m not scarfing down chwee kueh for breakfast, chicken rice for lunch and chilli crab for dinner. I’m only in Singapore for six weeks.

But I just have no interest in eating, whatsoever.

My mind ruminated all the possible reasons. Prolonged jetlag? General malaise from having finished my course and undecided on my next step? Old age? I did use to wonder as a kid why adults never seemed to want to eat tidbits all day, even when they had all the money and freedom to do so.

 

Let there be bread

 

And then, today, I suddenly put two and two together and discovered the culprit of my malediction. It is the stupid Omega 3 fish oil capsules I’ve been taking daily since Novemeber last year!

It didn’t cross my mind that something like that would suppress my appetite. I started taking it a month before my exams because our psychology lecturer told us that fish oils supplements have been proven to boost brain function. After that, I continued taking it because I noticed that my skin was getting smoother, too.

I think my appetite might have started buggering off around that time. I had then stocked my snack cupboard to the ridiculous brim for the exam period, expecting it to be all gone within weeks. After my exams, the cupboard remained untouched, still stocked well enough to last me through an apocalypse and a half.

 

Snack cupboard

(I don’t have a photo of my snack cupboard in England, but it’s bigger than this one I had in Singapore about 5 years ago.)

 

After my exams, I would literally not eat until about 7 pm when Piers would get home from work and we would have dinner together. For a couple of months, there were many days in which I ate just one meal a day. (Other days, I would force myself to eat something in the day.) But dinner would be a huge meal, which made up the calories my sedentary lifestyle needed, although it was probably not too good for general health.

So, today, I woke up and I looked at the bottle of fish oil capsules on my table and something clicked in my brain. I got up and Googled “fish oil suppresses appetite” and there was my answer.

While the evidence is compelling — the articles confirm it and my timeline fits — I can’t say for sure that fish oil is the main cause of my lost appetite. I suppose I will have to stop taking it for a while to see if the good ol’ appetite comes back. I only have 3.5 weeks left to eat my fill in Singapore!

If I am right, then I have found a way for me to maintain a healthy diet while at the same time benefit from the multitudes of health benefits of this supplement. I’ve never been able to stick to a healthy diet plan for my junk food cravings always got the better of me.

So, yay?

I do miss foodgasms, though, so now I’m kinda undecided what to do.

By the way, this is not an advertorial for fish oil or a recommendation to try it or whatever. Take it at your own risk and stick with reliable brands!

Flowers and cakes

Just a quick update now cos I’ve been busy and I’m leaving England for Singapore tomorrow!

Actually, that’s all I need to say but since I’m already here, I suppose I could say a few more things.

It’s Valentine’s Day today. I’ve never really been partial to the commercialism of the whole event, not because I think it’s a scam (which it kind of is) but because I think it makes people lazy in relationships, thinking that they’ve got this one day to excessively shower their loved ones with love, and then the rest of the year they can take it easy, take the relationship for granted.

Regardless, I am not above appreciating some Valentine’s Day flowers.

 

Tulips!

 

Piers got me tulips instead of roses because he said he couldn’t find roses in colours that I like (white and champagne pink) and he wasn’t overly sure of the exact shade of pink I like, anyway, cos to him, all pinks look the same.

Which is fine because I actually prefer tulips to roses.

Flowers are relatively cheap in England and we can get pretty tulips all year round so Piers was happy to buy me a bunch every week to pretty up our apartment at the beginning of our relationship.

Eventually, though, I told him to stop because I got tired of maintaining them, having to replenish or change the water every so often. I started leaving them to wilt for weeks before I could be arsed to dump them and give the mouldy vase a good clean.

You just can’t please a girl.

But, seriously, since I’m leaving tomorrow, it means Piers has to take care of these tulips and dispose of them when they die, so that’s perfect for me. I am very pleased!

 

A few days ago, I baked this fresh cream chocolate cake because I felt like eating cake.

It was a bit of a disaster.

 

Cake

 

It started off being an 8-inch cake and ended up being a 5.5-inch one because I left it in the oven too long and the sides got rock hard so I had to cut them off. Because of that, the sides looked ugly so I decided to cover everything with fresh cream, only I didn’t have enough cream so everything just looked uneven.

If you look on the inside, you can see a hole in the middle filled up with cream:

 

Cake!!!

 

That was me gouging a hole in the middle of the cake to check if the middle was edible.

It was barely edible, tasting like stale cake because it was so overcooked.

Piers was excited when he saw it, coming home from work. He thought it was his Valentine’s Day cake because of the heart on the top. But that was just me trying to make the cake look less ugly but even then I didn’t do a great job of it.

We each had a small slice for tea and he said, “Wow, that is really delicious!”

And then he said, “Hang on, I need to have a sip of tea. It’s stuck in my throat, need to wash it down with a drink.”

On the bright side, the cream was quite tasty.

 

Well, I can’t wait to be back in Singapore where I can buy anything I want to eat, without having to try and make it myself, and poisoning my boyfriend in the bargain.

And now I’m off to spend Valentine’s Day with the boyfriend sans poison. We are eating out today.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. Hope you have or had a great one, depending on when you read this.

When eating becomes a choice

Since I am blogging again and since I hardly do anything more exciting these days than play video games featuring tentacled monsters, you will be obliged to read about my cooking escapades, that is, after I’m done talking about my gaming escapades.

I believe I mentioned before that I started experimenting with cooking out of necessity. Missing the food in Singapore was propelling me towards a permanent hunger strike that led me to realising that I had to do something about it or starve to death.

The solution was to cook things that I never would in a million years have thought to cook had I still been in Singapore. Things like bak kwa, curry puffs and chicken rice. It baffles me why anyone in Singapore would make these things themselves when they can buy them really cheap and good, but they do. People just do.

I, on the other hand, have no choice but to make them because I would stop eating altogether, otherwise.

 

Tuna puffs

 

I made spicy tuna puffs once because I was tired of spending hours frying little potato cubes, but potato ones taste infinitely better.

I really miss being able to walk out to buy something good to eat, whether a snack or a full meal, and be back home within 15 minutes with something good. You can’t really get anything like that in England unless you don’t mind having McDonald’s and KFC every day.

Even if there were, it takes five minutes to dress warm enough just to pop out for 10 minutes. And then another five minutes to undress when you’re back home, the thought of which makes staying home and starving the more appealing choice.

 

Nobody knows the bother I've seen

 

The food in England is quite bland compared to Singapore fare, which is actually a good thing if you’re health conscious. People do seem to be quite health conscious here. While doing job placements at nurseries, I noticed that my co-workers always had salad for lunch, and they don’t do Thousand Island dressings or anything calorific like that. It’s usually oil and vinegar or plain. Seriously, I would rather starve, and I mean that very literally.

As a side note, I make a rather good balsamic vinaigrette so I do like salads but not as meals by themselves and never for lunch! I miss my Raffles Place lunching days of curry chicken noodles and nasi lemaks and bak chor mees.

And this, I don’t even remember what this is called anymore:

 

This is called yum.

 

I did enjoy eating in England the first year I was here but the novelty has worn thin and the blandness has quite effectively killed my appetite. Now, I would rather cook than go to a restaurant, even if money were no issue. This is a complete turnaround from when I was in Singapore, when I practically ate out every day and loved doing so.

The wonderful thing about cooking is that you can make your food taste exactly the way you want it. Include more ingredients you love and none of those you hate.

The not so wonderful thing is that sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you envision it. I enjoy making up my own recipes (based on current cravings plus inspiration from online recipes plus available inventory) so it takes a bit of trial and error to get the proportions just right. And then I never get it perfect because I tend to dole out sauces and seasonings by feel rather than measuring them out scientifically, so I can never remember how much to use the next time to make it perfect.

 

Chicken steak

 

This is my chicken steak with garlic butter mushroom sauce, with courgettes and spaghetti to make it a balanced meal.

Piers likes having balanced meals; otherwise he feels guilty. Yes, the whole country is like that. It makes me feel like a gluttonous evil alien when, like, I have KFC and skip the coleslaw.

On the healthy side, I have recently become addicted to Brussels sprouts after discovering that they make a very tasty side dish.

 

Brussels sprouts are good for you and me.

 

I roast them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a very generous sprinkling of coarse ground black pepper. It has to be really good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I have experimented with many different brands in the last two years and realised that the quality totally changes the taste in food.

Also, baby Brussels sprouts taste a lot better than “adult” ones. The baby ones are hardly bitter and taste more buttery and nutty.

On the not so healthy side, I am as klutzy as usual and always run into mishaps in the kitchen, such as dropping eggs on the floor or dropping the whole salt shaker into my cooking pot.

My most recent catastrophic incident involved me being violently attacked by an open cupboard door on my way out of the kitchen, resulting in a bruised knee and ego.

 

Bruises are not so good.

 

I know it is quite evil of me to bully your senses with such an unpalatable picture after all that food porn, but your choice of being a blog reader obliges you to endure any and all visual hazards rampant on the Internet, therefore it is okay for me to do it.

The good thing about living in England is that I hardly ever have to show my legs since it’s always too cold to, even during the summer, so my bruises are safe from public viewing (except on the Internet but you have been warned, albeit rather too late).

I actually have another bruise on the other knee but that one is quite unremarkable and undeserving of narcissism so you won’t see it. Also because I don’t even know how it got there.

Piers denies all responsibility.

And I am making no comment on that.

That kind of reminds me of a new American drama series we are watching called The Following, starring Kevin Bacon. It’s about a serial killer who fucks the mind of an ex-FBI agent by committing kills by proxy while being a death row prisoner.

 

The Following

 

It’s as exciting as 24 but Kevin Bacon is no Keifer Sutherland so it is a bit disappointing in that regard and Piers keeps telling me to stop being mean to Kevin Bacon (even though he did agree with me that KB looks like a weasel) but what can I say except again that he is not Keifer Sutherland.

Still it is worth watching and I have gone off the point, so I had better give it a rest and bid you adieu.

And so I shall.

Adieu, and be wary of sneaky cupboard doors, as always.

Never take a man shopping

I’ve been thinking of getting back into running. My Nikes and Adidas fell apart a couple of years ago and I haven’t run since then.

I have been putting off getting new ones because there are so many other things I need to spend money on in England, such as warm clothing and… even warmer clothing.

But I am finally putting my feet down to have them fitted for a new pair of running shoes.

 

Now, Bournemouth (where I live now) is not a shopping paradise like Singapore is. You can’t just take a short MRT ride to Orchard Road and immediately have access to 500 sporting stores offering pretty much the same stuff but all the brands and models are represented within a 500m radius.

(That means if you don’t like the attitude in one store, you can walk 10 seconds to another store to get exactly the same thing.)

 

Adidas

 

You can even find trained consultants who professionally flirt with you and make you run on gait analysing thingies, then know exactly which pair of shoes you need to instantly improve your speed, stamina and intelligence by 300%.

 

In Bournemouth, on the other hand, you could choose to walk 10 minutes to a small sports supermarket (and I’m using the term “super” very loosely here) offering products that would make all the fashion policemen in the world vaporise from agony.

And there are two staff members in the whole place, one manning the cash register and the other bustling about pretending to be busy with stock or something.

Or you could drive an hour to a slightly bigger sports supermarket offering similary fashion-offensive products, and there are three staff members manning the cash registers or pretending to be busy.

 

I chose to go online.

 

And after a bit of looking around, this caught my eye:

 

Adidas

 

I am partial to Adidas shoes. I had a pair several years ago which were the lightest and most comfortable track shoes you’d ever wear. I almost felt like I was flying in them. Sadly, they didn’t last very long because I wore them almost every day, not just for running but for everyday use.

 

Old Adidas

 

So I’m hoping to find another pair that feels the same.

I was quite excited to find the pink and black Adidas because I love the colours and design and it’s really hard to find running shoes with nice designs. Most branded running shoes seem to me to be designed for aliens. Which makes them only marginally better than the ones in Bournemouth.

I quickly MSN’ed the link to Piers (who was at work).

 

I said, “I’m going to buy this!!!”

It took him just one second to reply, “Those trainers look ugly!”

“What?!” I said, “They don’t!”

“They do to me!”

I said, “You’re just saying that cos it’s £75!”

He said, “I am not!”

 

Then, he was silent for two seconds and came back with this:

“These ones look much nicer!”

 

Cheap running shoes

 

I said, “That’s £8!!!!!!!!!!”

“Oh! Are they?” he said, “Wow, that’s good value!”

“Yeah, right,” I told him. “Too bad, cos I need an Adidas.”

 

Then another three seconds and he sent me this:

“These look nice!”

 

Cheaper running shoes

 

I said, “Those are man shoes!!”

“And old!”

 

“Oh, yeah,” he said.

Not to be deterred, he took a few more seconds and came back with this:

“Nice!”

 

Cheapest running shoes

 

Indeed, it was time to change strategy.

“Thanks,” I said, to lull him into a sense of false security, “I love that.”

 

He doesn’t know that I have gone ahead to order the £75 Adidas. With his credit card! Mwahahaha.

I suppose he will find out when he receives the bill at the end of the month.

Or when he reads this post, which will presumably be sooner.

But that’s okay because I have suddenly and mysteriously turned into a good cook so I will distract him with some nice Chinese cooking.

 

He liked the wat tan mai fan and curry puffs I made in the last week, which is saying a lot because men’s taste buds are as good as their fashion senses are bad.

 

wat tan mai fan
Vermicelli in egg gravy

 

Curry puffs
Curry puffs

 

I don’t mean all men, of course. Just the ones who equate expensive with ugly and cheap with sublimely gorgeous.

 

Which is why I will never take a man shopping with me. The best strategy is to go online to buy anything and everything you want while the man is at work. It’s fast and convenient and when the packages arrive, you can feign ignorance. “Goodness me, where did that come from?”

Just remember not to send him any links.

Or if you must, send him eBay links of really cheap stuff to drive him into a permanent state of deep, deep security.

 

In other news, I am micro-blogging on Facebook more than updating this silly blog so I would respectfully suggest that you go to Facebook for quicker updates on my superfluous life.

Thanks!