Archive for March 2011

Things to be happy about…

March 29, 2011

1. We are going on little holidays! First just one-night in the Welsh countryside with my mother and Lucien, and then on our own for a short break to Bangkok in June.

2. My mother’s here! No need to eat toast everyday for lunch.

3. The weather’s been brilliantly sunny and warm.

4. I love my job.

5. We have a new old car.

6. Spring! Lambs! Cherry blossom! Daffodils!

 

Chunky mushroom soup

March 21, 2011

Last week I had my first go at making mushroom soup. For some reason I always thought mushroom soups were very hard to make and that was why I never bothered. But I am so wrong! This is one of the simplest, yet most delicious soups I’ve made so far, and you don’t even need a blender. Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1 box of white button mushrooms

1 box of brown chestnut mushrooms (if you can’t find this, just use two boxes of white button mushrooms)

1 box of fresh shitake mushrooms

A few handful of dried Chinese shitake mushrooms

150ml full-cream milk

2 cloves of garlic

1 white onion

Dried mixed herbs

Vegetable stock cube

Half a lemon

30g plain flour

METHOD

1. Soak the dried Chinese mushrooms in hot water, slice them when they are soft

2. Wash and slice the fresh mushrooms

3. In a hot wok, add olive oil, salt, pepper, dried herbs, garlic and onion. Stir-fry this for a few minutes and then add all the mushrooms

4. Stir-fry the mushrooms till they are soft and liquid is drying up

5. Add the juice of half a small lemon

6. Add 150ml of full-cream milk

7. Dissolve the stock cube in 300ml of hot water and add this in

8. Cover the wok and let it come to the boil

9. To thicken the soup, slowly add the flour while stirring the bubbling soup continuously. Make sure the flour dissolves completely before you decide if you need to add more.

10. Once you are happy with the consistency and taste of the soup, serve with toast or crusty bread.

More Marley & Me

March 13, 2011

Sometimes I feel this movie is my story, except that I have 2 kids and 1 dog less, which should technically make me feel a lot less stressed.

——————

Jenny: No one tells you how hard this is all gonna be.

John: Which part?

Jenny: All of it: marriage, being a parent. It’s the hardest job in the world and nobody prepares you for that. Nobody tells you how much you have to give up.

John: I feel like they do tell you, but you don’t listen…or you think, ‘Ah, they’re just miserable.’

Jenny: I’ve given up so much of what made me who I am. But I can’t say that because…I’m a very bad person if I say that. But I feel it. I really do. I feel it sometimes. I just- I just want you to know that.

John: I do know that. And you can say it. I say it.

Jenny: But I did make a choice. I made a choice, and even if it’s harder than I thought… I don’t regret it.

John: Are you sure?

Jenny: I am very sure.

Working mum

March 13, 2011

A number of you have been asking me how it has been like going back to work so I shall update here in detail.

To summarise, it’s pretty tough. It’s harder than I’d imagined it to be. I mean, it’s already hard enough being a full-time mum but having to do another 35-hour week on top of that really takes it out of me. But being a housewife or working part-time isn’t really an option as we need the money, and paying an astronomical sum to have strangers look after Lucien just doesn’t make sense.

Though we are both pretty flat out by the end of the day, the best thing about this arrangement is that we get to look after the kid ourselves. He’s not left all day with maid, a babysitter or in a nursery.

If I am at the office, he’d be at home with his father and I don’t have to worry if he’s been cared for properly. By the same token, if R is at work, I’ll be taking care of Lucien. Although taking turns to be with Lucien means we don’t get to see each other very much, at least this ensures that the boy is always with one of his parents. This is very tiring of course, but what’s the point of having kids if you haven’t got time to be with them and they have to be left with others?

I stuck with this arrangement for two weeks and thought, honestly, this may not be working as well as I’d have liked. I’m constantly on the go, the house is a mess, I haven’t got time and energy to cook and I don’t get to see my husband.

Something’s gotta give.

We thought about getting a babysitter for a few hours a week, cutting back my hours at work, hiring a cleaner. All the above has an effect on the bottom line, and it’s about working out a best compromise that will not leave us either physically or financially drained.

This week, I sat down with my boss to discuss my options. I definitely need to reduce my hours, but even giving up just one day a week means a pretty significant 20% pay cut. Although we are extremely careful spenders, we are also not huge earners. There is the mortgage, household and credit card bills, food and transport, trips to Singapore (which we will be cutting back because it costs the three of us £2500 each time) and other miscellaneous costs, and working just four days will stretch us financially.

Because most of us have young children in the organisation, my boss has always had a very pro-family outlook. He was very patient as we tried to work out the best arrangement for me, and after discussing our finances and looking at the bottom line once again with R, we decided to try out a 32-hour week for me. I’ll be alternating between 4-5 day weeks. The pay cut isn’t significant and the extra day off every other week will come in handy if we want to do something as a family.

Trying to achieve work-life balance is so hard and it’s no wonder people tend to choose either or. Things just get terribly messy when kids get into the picture. But we’re very lucky we are in a country and in jobs where flexible working is an option and where family life, not productivity (real or fake) is viewed as a priority.

Marley & Me

March 10, 2011

Jenny: Honey, I think I have to quit my job.

John: You don’t have to do that. We can get some help.

Jenny: I don’t want any help. I really don’t. I just- I don’t want to be one of those people…that sees their child for an hour at night. I don’t.

John: I know, but you love your work and-

Jenny: I love my work, honey. But this is killing me. When I’m at the office, I just wanna be here. And when I’m here, I am constantly thinking about work. And I just know that I’m doing both jobs halfway.

John: Well, you’re not doing them halfway.

Jenny: If I have to give up something…I do not- I do not want to give up this.

———

I feel like Jenny in Marley & Me at the moment. To be continued…

Sam-Oooooh-sas

March 7, 2011

If I wasn’t already married I would marry this man. The fact that he makes and sells orgasmic samosas at a roadside cart in Penang is such a turn-on.

We chanced upon him while on our way to check out a vegetarian restaurant, which by the way sold delicious food but then again aren’t ALL food in Penang just glorious? So anyway, I thought his golden triangles looked so irresistibly appealing and I decided I was going to try them. I wasn’t disappointed. They were crispy on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside with a generous amount of filling. It was by far the tastiest samosas I’ve had. And the best part? It was only RM0.50 for one! I felt guilty for paying such a ridiculously small amount for something that tasted so good!

Like all travellers, I was initially worried about cleanliness and hygiene and eating roadside food and whatnot but what they say is true. The dirtiest food is often the yummiest, and screw food poisoning, these samosas were seriously worth dying for.

Sorry this is a seriously delayed update about our holiday to Penang in January but I had only recently remembered I hadn’t written anything about it. To summarise, we had a really good few days’ rest that we badly needed. On the first night, we slept so soundly that we woke up just in time before hotel’s restaurant stopped serving breakfast.I sat there eating my omelette and toast in glasses and huge bed-hair.

When we went last year, I was 5 months pregnant and walking in the heat just didn’t agree with me. But this time I felt great! We explored Georgetown everyday to discover new things and places, bought amazingly cheap and cute baby clothes, watched movies for S$3, ate delicious and affordable food.

We had a whale of a time. And oh, please don’t get me started again on the samosas. You’ll catch me doing a Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

CNY Open House

March 3, 2011

A cute note Hannah left for her Daddy so he doesn’t open the box of cookies they bought for us as a gift.

This is a card Heather made for me. I am pushing my wok pram.

Ah… This year’s Chinese New Year was good.