Sunday, July 29, 2007

Breaking & Entering

My poor sis got her apartment broken into and her laptop stolen. Bastards even had the luxury of opening her cupboard to take her laptop case to carry it in, together with her power cables and phone charger. Nothing else was taken though. Cash and jewelery still there. She's freaked as hell now. Apparently she slept fully clothed, with her shoes on and her house keys in her hand so that she could run out if anyone decided to break in again. It was made to look like they got in through her bathroom window but according to the police the dust on the sill had not been disturbed and it was more likely that it was an ex-tenant who still had the key to the place. Why she didn't change the locks when she moved in I don't know. Anyway, she's adamant about moving out of the place now.

And since we're on the topic, just spoke to T and apparently his wife's purse was stolen while they were on their honeymoon in London. Worse part was that their passports, phones, camera, etc... were all in there. So they spent the rest of the time at the embassy trying to get new passports... how sucky!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Friday, July 27, 2007

1 Week Down 3 to Go

TGIF MAN!!!! Week 1 of CELTA is OVER! Unfortunately, tonight is the only night I'm allowing myself to chill and party. Tomorrow, it's back to the assignments... sigh... I AM glad to note that despite the heavy-workload I'm actually enjoying the course. It brings a whole new light on teaching, and GRAMMAR! So much of the language is finally making sense to me now. hehehehe In celebration of our survival of the first week, course mates and I are gonna hit the town tonight, especially since it's the first time most of them have been to Shanghai. So agend: HUGE dinner at Chinese restaurant, (hey after a week of wolfing down cheap university food in 30mins... we deserve this) followed by COPIOUS amounts of alcohol and ending the night singing our lungs out at my fav karaoke place. Damn it's gonna be a good night. :D:D And DAMN I'm gonna have a bad hang over tomorrow!

"First You Scoop out the Flesh....

...of the pineapple / mango / melon, leaving the skin and t
hus creating a bowl in which you can fill with the fruite salad you're about to prepare." And that's the first step to preparing a thai fruit salad. YUMMY! Went for a thai cooking class on Sunday and had a blast! For an incredibly decent price, chef Alyssa Han of Thaifoodstation at The Melting Pot takes you through the steps of a couple of simple Thai dishes that would be a breeze to do at home, provided you have the proper ingredients. So on the agenda that Sunday were spicy Thai fruit salad followed by the main course of Massaman curry and a sweet water chestnut dessert to finish. Absolutely yummy!! My favourite part of the entire class was the fact that we could sit down and savour the fruits of our labour! Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh... AND we had leftovers that we could take home! YAY!!! C is now asking that I cook for her. I say "With pleasure!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Had a lovely Saturday afternoon on my bike exploring the city again, but this time decided to drag JJ along since he's alot more familiar with the little obscure lanes and backroads. Stopped for brunch at Embre - a quite little cafe/restaurant which is fast becoming a favourite spot with me, mainly due to their food. Their Big Breakfast ROCKS! :-)

JJ then decided to mess around a little with his camera. The Objective? Capturing the clearest image of a vehicle in motion. The Verdict? I took the best shot. MUAHAHAHA!

Attempt #1

Attempt #2

JJ's Shot

Anyway, JJ was gonna have a BBQ (SLURP!) at his place later that day so went grocery shopping (YAY!!). Not surprisingly I got overly excited and started suggesting all sorts of things to accompany the meats, including potato salad, slices of eggplant topped with mozzarella and stuffed portobello mushrooms (sour cream and bacon bits! HELLO!!!). Unfortunately, JJ had much more restraint and vetoed everything I'd suggested except the potato salad. BLEH! Anyway, with bags of food and wine (and a pot of Basil!) hanging off our handle bars, we headed back for BBQ prep! Yours truly was in charge of marinating the chicken wings, (they had gotten very good reviews the last time I made them... hehehehe), while JJ tried to make mayo for the potatoes from scratch. Interesting endeavour. It didn't come out looking or tasting anything like the mayo as we know it but after the second try, pronounced it yummy enough to use. Mixed that with lots of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives and it was fab! And then the boys came over and it was all gone in a blink of an eye... sigh. But was happy to note that chicken wings tasted even better than the last time. Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Back to School

After all these months, I'm FINALLY doing the CELTA course. And damn it's more intensive than anything I've ever done. I mean 2 assignments given today and due tomorrow? heh... It's only Day 2 and I'm already doubting the fact that I'll make it through the rest of the 18 days. But perseverance it will have to be, I guess and until then, there would probably be very minimal blogging for me... :p

Friday, July 20, 2007

Transformers... Robots in Disguise

OMG!!! Watched Transformers yesterday and it was AMAZING!!! My childhood heroes on the big screen man! I mean watching Blackout and Frenzy in action was thrilling enough but
to watch Optimus Prime transform... I thought my heart had stopped! From then on I was just bolted to my seat, my eyes trained at nothing but the big screen. I was rendered breathless on more occasions than one and had goose pimples all over during the final fight scene!! OH! And not to mention the brand-spanking new Bumblebee!!! Admittedly I felt very cheated when he turned out to be a Camaro rather than his original Beetle but what the hell, he's beautiful just the same!

Awestriking scenes:

1. The first transformation of Blackout (heart thumping, jaw dropped!)
2. Optimus Prime driving up to Sam & Mikaela
2. Bone Crusher skating down the freeway
3. Scorponok flying through the air in pursuit of the survivors of Qatar base
4. Ironhide charging through the city, cannons a blazing
5. The Decepticons & Autobots transforming from robot to vehicle in mid-stride ARRRRGHHH!! How hot was that?!

OK, gushing aside... of course there were parts that didn't go down as smoothly with everyone. Chatted with a buddy and we both agreed that:

1. Bumblebee was the ultimate hero! He put up a better fight compared to the rest of the autobots. Or should I say, not enough screen time was given to the rest of them, Optimus Prime not including.
2. Optimus Prime was "too much of a pussy" - going down after being thrown around a little bit by Megatron
3. Ironhide's weapon abilities were grossly underplayed. Blackout displayed a much more impressive use of his weapons in the opening scene.
4. Producers shouldn't have sold out to General Motors. But I guess that was inevitable.

Anyway... must watch it again!! I'm gonna go watch 'Transformers: The Movie' now...

Blueberry Morning!

Made blueberry pancakes this morning with real blueberries! DELISH!!

I'm going to fly my brand new super-duper stunt kite tomorrow! WOOHOO!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

'Tis the Season to be Peachy

Spring was beautiful with all those shiny red, juicy strawberries. It was all i ate... I'd put them in desserts, eat them whole, blend them into my banana smoothies... and then summer came along and kicked spring out, sending the strawberries after it. I thought, that's it... I'm gonna be stuck with bananas, oranges, apples and watermelons. Not that I have anything against these fruits, I just want something that I can't get back home for really cheap. And then I tried the peaches and there's been no turning back. (I have to thank my fruit guy for that first experience) They're firm to the touch but when you bite into it, your teeth just cleave cleanly through the flesh sending rivulets of juice down your arm and smearing the sides of your mouth, leaving you a sticky sticky mess. But it's ABSOLUTELY gorgeous!! Sweet and juicy! I LOVE IT!!! Munching on one right now :D SLURP!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Mean to Be Gross but...

*Warning: bloody pic at the end*

I had a stupid wart sitting on my thumb for ages and finally decided to get it removed. I would've preferred the less painful way of getting it out (cream with salicylic acid) even if it did take longer to remove, but doc wouldn't hear of it. He stabbed the sucker with liquid nitrogen and successfully blitzed the surrounding healthy tissue as well (which was unavoidable). I was then told that a big ass blister would form by the next day and that I should prick it and remove the skin. The wart SHOULD be at the apex of the blister and come away with the rest of the skin. So yesterday afternoon I performed a little mini surgery on my thumb, taking care to use alcohol swabs and a 'sterile' pair of scissors (since I didn't have a needle). The result looked pretty erm... bad. The wart did come off but instead of a thin layer new skin that I was expecting to see under the blister, I saw this... And you know what!! I think the root broke off and is still in my thumb!

I'm kinda in pain now... dammit :p

My Poor Week-Old Bike...

... is making squeeky noises :(

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Adventure!

... a year from now :p My biggest travel project at this point would be a month-long backpacking trip in South America. 2 reasons: It offers loads of possibilities for an adventure holiday, and secondly, I will be completely immersed in a Spanish-rich language environment! My spanish SHOULD be pretty decent by then so my travelling there would be more to learn maybe street slang and to just enjoy the 'feel' of the language all around me! God I'm getting tingles down my arms!

Seeing how huge the continent is, I've decided to start gathering little bits of information from people who'd already been there and are therefore able to recommend places and sights. Up till now, Peru is a definite. Looking at the highlands - Cusco, doing the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, - and the Amazon. Will be pretty cold when I go but it'll also be the dry season so would make for more comfortable exploration. Average temperatures in the highlands are a high of about 20 deg C and a low of 1 deg C. Warmer in the coastal areas but not warm enough to appreciate the waters.

Slowly reading up on the country and what options i'll have. Will need to come up with a budget and therefore START SAVING!! I'll probably start buying one travel item each month instead of blowing $1000+ at one go closer to departure date. Makes it easier on the pocket :p

In addition, a possible country would be Bolivia. Seeing how the most I have is a month I might divvy it up into 2 weeks in Peru, 1 in Bolivia and hopefully 1 in Rio if J is still living there then. After 3 weeks roughing it out (as I plan to) a week in the city wouldn't be such a bad idea. EXCITED!!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Let Us In!!!

I swear I have a knack of getting myself into trouble these past few days. My little accident was just one of them. Last night C and I got ourselves locked out of our apartment!! OMG! It was hilarious and frustrating at the same time... Both of us thought the other had taken the house key and because J was over, we had no reason to lock up when we left to the pool for a swim. Of course we knew we were in trouble once we got back up and realised that J had gone over to his buddy's place. So with no phone and no cash we went to K's, (thank god she lived nearby), towels draped around our necks, with wet patches around our boobs and bums coz we still had our wet bikinis on, just so we could get some cash for a cab and go hunt J down his copy of the key. C wasn't 100% sure of the address, and because she couldn't remember J's number we weren't able to call to ask. So what did we do? Jumped into a cab and prayed that the address she gave was correct. It took us 2 cab rides to get to the right place btw. Anyway, we eventually found the place (thank go they were home!!). Wasn't sure what we would do if they weren't :p

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Busy Sunday Afternoon

Woke up early this morning and was struck by the sudden urge to cycle all the way to City Diner for breakfast (it's a fair distance away from where I live) then changed my mind and decided that since I have a bike, I should take full advantage of it by exploring all the little roads and cafes that I've always wanted to but never really got around to doing. So at 10am, armed with my restaurant guide and my map, I was out of the house and on the streets. What I really wanted to do was cafe hop - spend like an hour or so in each just to sample their wares and see if I can find one that I call my 'hangout'. Things didn't really work out that way but I still managed a couple. First stop was a tiny Viennese cafe that had a simple brunch in progress when I'd arrived.
Käsespaetzle was on the menu and I was tempted to have some but it looked too heavy for breakfast. Ended up with ham & cheese scrambled eggs instead. Wasn't too happy at the fact that the eggs didn't come with a serving of bread. I had to order it separately. Even the butter had a separate charge!! Ordered some bread anyway but to my dismay, was served vollkornbrot - wholegrain bread!! I never could bring myself to appreciate German breads. I just find them way to heavy. I had 3/4 of one slice and wolfed down my eggs. Stayed for about an hour then headed to La Perla, a cafe within a bookstore.

Didn't get around to checking out the cafe though. How could I with all those books around me! Managed to find a Spanish section and bought myself a short mystery novel which I'm quite glad to note, is actually part of a reading series for learners of the language. There are even questions at the end of the book to test the reader's understanding! (I'm proud to say that I got past page 3 :p) Walked out of the store with 3 purchases: my novel, a little Moleskine 18 Month Weekly Planner (set me back by 130RMB - bloody hell) and the printed version of a movie that came highly recommended - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne - that claims "you will come to know how you can have, be, or do anything you want. You will come to know who you really are." What can I say... I was intrigued.

Next stop - Taikang Lu. More precisely, Lane 248. A unique little place where trendy meets traditional and . Once you get past the middle aged men playing cards and the vegetables spread out on the road for sale, you find yourself stepping into what would closely resemble a street in Paris. The shikumen that line the lane that are slowly being restored and converted into pattiseries and cafes, make for delightful places to catch up with friends over a cappuccino or two. The boutiques are also very tempting to poke around in. I plonked myself down at Cafe Mojo and didn't move for the next 2 hours, taking my time to slurp my peach-banana smoothie, my 2 Coronas and a chocolate mousse pudding. Sigh! By the time I left it was 4pm and I was ready to call it a day. The trip home was long but totally worth it! I now have a rough idea of what roads are in the area and what shops can be found on each road. FANTASTIC!

The Strength of a Woman

For me, the thought of having a child when you're not ready is hard enough, but to have one when you're not ready AND have your boyfriend walk out on you is the absolute pits. I'm not gonna turn this into a bitch fest like I'm tempted to, instead I just want to say how much I admire the woman who accepts the responsibility of having the baby, knowing that it's going to be more than a challenge to be doing it alone, who can put aside her heartache and disbelief at the fact that her partner kicked her out of the apartment and doesn't want to have anything to do with her or the baby; I admire the woman who despite all that, still doesn't want to consider the options that could so easily make everything go away.

So this is to F, who is now the proud mother of a beautiful baby boy, and to J, whose journey is only just beginning. You gals have proved to me that even though women may be stereotyped as the weaker, more emotional sex, they can be so much stronger and braver at the times that really matter.

Accident #1

And I had my first ever biking accident in Shanghai... stupid rain! And silly me :p Going down a wet ramp and squeezing the brakes harder than is necessary is not a good idea. I think I busted my knee :(

Friday, July 06, 2007

Out and About Again

The whole 'Don't drink and drive' tagline has basically come to mean, don't drive your car after you'd downed a few. But it never really crossed my mind that the advice would extend to cycling and drinking, until today. Was introduced to a gorgeous little bar that's advertised as "The best kept secret that you want to keep" or something along those lines. A place that's so obscure and out of the way that you don't really know it's there unless a regular takes you there or you happen to live in the vicinity. It's akin to what the brits would say "our local" where they go to have a few pints, and it's just full of regulars. Conversation going nowhere? No prob, just grab one of their board games or have a round or two of gin rummy. Beer is cheap and the food palatable. But what I REALLY love about the place is the atmosphere. Rustic, cozy, familiar... despite it being my first time there. Sorry, I'm digressing. Anyway, took off from work an hour early and got there in time for Happy Hour - 1-for-1!! hehehehe. 2 beers later and I realise that I have my bike parked outside, and I didn't really know where I was. Interesting. Didn't think it would've been a great idea to attempt getting home tipsy. So reluctantly shared my third beer with colleague while she donated hers to one of the boys. Oh well. Shall think of that little issue the next time I feel like a beer. :p

Oh btw, it was bloody 36 degrees C today but because it's been overcast for the past few days, I didn't really realise just how hot it actually was. So did loadsa cycling today (in a sleeveless top) and I think I managed a sunburn. My arms are tingling the way a burn would usually make them feel and my face feels a little sensitive. :p I guess I can understand why so many local women cycle with these HUGE visors over their faces. And I mean HUGE. They look like they have on those protective face shields welders put on when they work. SERIOUS! But still cycling is fab! If you don't mind how sweaty and grossly sticky you become, that is. I should really consider getting 'cycling clothes' that I can chancge out of once i get to work... hmmmmmmm....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mah Hot New Wheels!

I've FINALLY bought myself a bike! It's 3 days old today and been out on the road twice. Seeing how it's only a 10 - 15 min ride to work, I figured, why not invest in a pair of wheels! No regrets (so far). The only con is that bikes get stolen so frequently here that I was told to count myself lucky if I still have it after 3 months :p:p Bugger! So I bought myself a super-duper chain lock and try as far as possible to secure my bike to something grounded. I'm actually PARANOID! I can't go into a store for 2 minutes without having to fight the urge to look outside and see if my bike's still there. The pros outweigh the worry though so what the hell... I LOVE MY BIKE! And the great thing is I pay more attention to road signs and my surroundings so I not only get my exercise, I also get to know my way around better. Whoppeeee!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Summertime Dinner

Co-hosted a dinner party at JJ's for a couple of his friends and it was fun!! Being in his kitchen is like being in a candy store for me!! He's got this wonderfully equipped kitchen with all these little knick knacks that I would love to have! And because he's into cooking (hence the well equipped kitchen) we were able to swap cooking tips as well. Anyway, he was in charge of the appetiser and salad while I took on the challenge of the main course and dessert. After our dinner at Finestre's JJ was excited to experiment with one of the appetizers they had on their menu - a variation of a watermelon and feta salad that is a common dish in Israel and Egypt, with tomatoes and a sprinkling of roasted pine nuts added, as well as a dash or two of chilli flakes to give it some bite. But instead of serving it chopped into bite sized cubes and mixed in a large bowl, JJ decided to get creative and dressed large slabs of watermelon with the salad and topped it off with a lemon-mustard-honey dressing. So refreshing on a hot summer evening!

Main course was white fish-fillet in lemon butter sauce. I usually use john dory but since everything here is in Chinese, I'm still not really sure what I bought. The texture turned out pretty good though so I don't really care :p Lemon-butter was the only sauce that was simple enough and that I could do from memory. Just a cup of dry white wine, lemon juice, shallots, garlic, orange juice, salt and pepper and unsalted butter. The original recipe called for about 250g of butter but the thought of all that fat just makes me cringe so I cut it down a little. It didn't turn out as pale a yellow nor as creamy as it ought to, and it definitely had a sharper tang to it, but that was neutralised once eaten with the fish. Served it up with fresh greens and buttered boiled baby potatoes.

Dessert was really simple but such a bitch to prepare! Valencian Caramel Oranges.
Since weather's been so muggy, I figured something light and fruity would be perfect, so oranges it was. The last time I did it I added strawberries to add some colour to it but seeing how we're in the middle of summer, fat chance. The tedious bit about this recipe is the fact that you have to separate the oranges into segments by removing the membranes! Arrghhh! But after that the rest is easy. Again tried doing the caramel from memory but I now realise that I'd forgotten to add water to the sugar BEFORE melting it over the fire, so when I added some during the boiling process, the caramel started crystallising and I lost about half of it to a hard shiny lump of sweetness (which i enjoyed :D) . Managed to salvage the rest and the slightly burnt taste it had complemented the oranges rather nicely. JJ had a brainwave just as I was about to dish out the oranges, and splashed a capful or Cointreau over them. A Fab idea! Went really well with the caramel. We then washed it all down with an eiswein that P brought along. Can't say I enjoyed the combination though. I mean the wine was great but I think I would've enjoyed it more if I wasn't having it with the oranges and caramel which were sweet enough.

But all in all, our guests were happy, and JJ pronounced it a success! YAY!

NEXT! BBQ on the 8th of this month!