Archive for September 2009

Birthday week

September 25, 2009

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I was a little sad that a few people forgot my birthday this year, but I was surprised how many actually remembered! I had a big bunch of flowers from R in the morning, along with a few cards which came in the post. My Danish friends made me a cute card using photos taken from my Facebook and some others we took almost a decade ago in Uni.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came from Em, who bought me a £50 Cath Kidston voucher. I hadn’t expected her to get me anything because she already gave me a red packet in advance when I saw her in May, but when I phoned her up, she said she totally forgot she had already given me my present earlier in the year!

It means so much to me for her to remember my birthday and I felt really touched and bad at the same time that she got me such an expensive present. As a full-time Mum to two children, it’s not like Em has lots of spare cash to throw about and I am still terribly bowled over by her thoughtfulness and generosity.

We had a small gathering at R’s sister’s place in the evening and had cake and champagne together because I happen to share my birthday with another member in her family. When we came home later that night, R made me fruit salad with Bailey’s as a special treat.

Another card arrived in the post on Wednesday; it was from my mother. When I went back to work on Thursday my colleagues gave me some chocolate and a card which everyone signed. I also got a card from the design company we work with. My boss sent me several emails to wish me Happy Birthday because he said you can never hear enough of it. On Thursday evening R took me out to the local pub for a meal. I didn’t like the food I ordered but it was nice to go on a date and spend time talking to each other during our 70-minute round trip walk to the restaurant.

My aunt’s friend who now lives in Cardiff texted me on Wednesday to say she had a present for me all the way from Singapore. My aunt had given her something to bring to me on her recent trip back to Singapore. We met today at the train station to exchange gifts. I bought her a box of chocolates to thank her for doing me the favour and she gave me the present my aunt had prepared for me. It was a crimson Longchamp bag, an unexpected surprise and I really liked it.

Tomorrow I will be treating myself to a hair cut.

Even though I would have liked more family and friends from home to have remembered and got in touch with me on my birthday, I can’t really say I had a bad one this year. I suppose it’s just, different, like any other year.

Fried Prawn Wanton

September 17, 2009

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I made fried wantons the other night. It was very easy and tasty! This is the second time I’ve made wantons. The first time I had them in soup with vegetables. But I knew that R would prefer them deep-fried so this time I tried cooking them this way. I thought the skin would fall apart in the wok but amazingly they didn’t burst and all my wantons were intact. These are perfect as canapes or snacks for those really sinful greasy days.

Ingredients (makes 30+ wantons)

200g cooked prawns

50g bamboo shoots

5 dried Chinese mushrooms (softened in water)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

A few cabbage leaves

4 crab sticks

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Wanton skins

(You can also use minced chicken or pork)

Method

1. Boil the cabbage leaves till soft and then chop them up into little pieces along with all the other ingredients.

2. In a large bowl, mix all these together and add in the minced garlic, sesame oil, fish sauce and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly.

3. Wet the four borders of the wanton skin and put a teaspoon-ful of filling into the centre. Fold it into a triangle and then secure the parcel by making folding in twice on each side of the triangle.

4. Heat the wok with oil and deep-fry.

5. Serve with chilli or mayo dip.

Red

September 15, 2009

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I nagged at R to paint our walls red to give it a bit of colour so we finally got it done last week. I’m pretty pleased with the result. I think the stairway will look nicer with black and white photos in frames dotted around the wall. What do you think of our latest DIY project?

When in doubt, pray

September 14, 2009

I think if you live with children or the elderly, you’d be equipped with all the skills you need for life. Logical and rational thinking, being calm and collected, an iron will, patience and tolerance.

I have had quite a traumatic weekend because R’s mum was suddenly taken ill and he was away at work on both days. I won’t go into the details but I was kinda badly shaken. Luckily, his sister was around to lend a hand and after observing her condition for a few hours on Sunday, we decided she would be better off receiving treatment in the hospital.

It’s never easy seeing your family members suffering or in pain. It was very emotional for R’s sister and I totally understand what she was going through since I have had similar first hand experiences with my grandmother. It’s that sense of dread and helplessness that’s so terrible to bear. And it’s always a very humbling experience for me, whenever I have to look after someone who’s poorly. We think of ourselves as superior, powerful, important beings, but we forget we are no more than flesh and blood, and life really just hangs by a thread.

When things get serious I speak slower and quieter. I appear more calm and that’s when you know something’s really bad. Sometimes when I get so desperate I surprise myself by how hard I pray, and then I get even more surprised when my pleas get answered, like they miraculously did this weekend.

I like it simple

September 14, 2009

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Just a bunch of flowers, an old bottle, a card, a strip of ribbon and some nice handwriting. You don’t need anything complicated to make it look classy and welcoming.

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Just a simple bow across the chest and a sweetheart neckline makes this such a sweet elegant dress.  I think this has to be my favourite wedding dress design so far.

At the dentist

September 11, 2009

My left wisdom tooth is trying to sprout but there isn’t any space for it to grow. The whole area has been tender but not painful but I do want to have it removed so I don’t ever have to worry about it.

So I made an appointment with the state-funded dentist to see if I could get it extracted here at a lower cost as compared to in Singapore where I paid S$500 to have my right wisdom tooth surgically removed a few years back.

The clinic was quite empty when I popped in yesterday morning and very soon I was sat on the dentist’s chair with a gaping mouth while she examined my teeth.

She said that because my wisdom tooth isn’t inflamed or causing me pain, I should just leave it. State-funded dentists will only remove wisdom teeth if the patient has experienced at least two episodes of serious inflammation where antibiotics had to be administered. And at that point it will cost £39 to get one extracted.

I was concerned mine would eventually get to that stage with it trying to push its way through but she told me that was not necessarily always the case. She also checked my teeth and told me one of my fillings dropped out but since there is no decay, I needn’t do anything about it. Apart from that, my teeth are fine and she told me to see her in 6 months.

It’s a very different experience compared to going to see dentists in Singapore. Well first, they usually would clean your teeth for you and I don’t know about yours, but mine would always find some holes or decays she needed to fill, which always led me to think my teeth were really bad. But after my experience with the British dentist, I have been thinking – hey my teeth are actually alright so were all those fillings really necessary?

I like it that over here they would only do dental work if it’s absolutely required and after a period of patient self-observation. This is of course because dental clinics have to conserve their state funds since they don’t get that much from patient payments. But which patient would want to get work done on their teeth unless it’s really really necessary?

I hated going to dentists when I was in Singapore because there would always be drilling and poking and it was so unpleasant. But now I know the truth. Some dentists find reasons to work on your teeth just for the sake of money.

Off on the train again

September 9, 2009

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Work brought me to Crosskeys today, just at the edge of the Welsh Valleys, to promote the youth website.

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How wonderful if you could open your windows and see beautiful green hills and mountains.

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These balconies look out of place. They look like they belong near a beach.

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One last look at the mountain before I head for home.