Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last day of 2005

Laying in bed this morning, refusing to wake up. This will be the last day of the year I can sleep in. I can hardly believe it. 2005 almost over?!

Feeling rather nostalgic. The last couple of nights were spent recalling the events of 2005 - the highs and the lows, on my own. Some made me laugh, others made me cry...what a year it has been, indeed!

Started taking down all our Christmas decorations around the house in the last few days. Home is returning back to its normal mode again.

We have been hitting the shops of late. You see, I have never been to a post-christmas sale and now I realise what I have been missing out on! We make sure we shop in the evening because there aren't many shoppers around so we can browse to our hearts' content! This is what we have 'scored':
  • 1 pair of Colorado Hiking Shoes for the hubby only paid $79.90 (RRP $139.90)
  • 1 Villaroy & Boch Scandinavillian Deco Lights only paid $30.00 (RRP $58.90)
  • 1 thick square wooden chopping board only paid $27.50 (RRP $59.90)
  • 1 salad spinner only paid $25.00 (RRP 49.90)
  • 1 silicon quality basting/pastry brush that can withstand up to 350C only paid $3.95 (RRP $9.90)
  • 1 silicon quality jar opener/pot stand that can withstand up to 350C only paid $8.00 (RRP $16.80)
  • 1 Toshiba High Definition Set-Top Box only paid $140 (RRP $599.00) - NO JOKE!

Tonight, we will head to a friend's place for New Year's Eve celebrations and I will be off to Sydney next Thursday for a girls' week (hubby stays home to work and to look after the cat & fish).

Tomorrow marks a brand new year. No resolutions for me. Just to live it!


Friday, December 23, 2005

I am melting...

Today is my 2nd day of holiday.

A rude shock in the form of weather news on tv made me reach out for my air-con remote to lower the temp further! It will be 36C today.

Not only that, we have to brace ourselves for a super sweaty Christmas Day. Brisbane is in for its hottest December 25 on record.

The weather bureau expects the temperature to hit 38C and 39C further west in Ipswich. So why do people still flock to Ipswich to live, I wonder?

No, I am not going to spend the rest of the day in air-con bedroom. In fact, I have been doing housework, making 2 different kinds of christmas desserts in advance, etc etc all so in the hope that the time will pass quickly!

Time for me to fill the bath full of cold water (keeping fingers crossed that the water streaming out will be cold and not hot!) and lay in there until it is no longer cool!!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Multiple Stops...

Yesterday's highlight was definitely leaving the office at 12 noon and knowing that I will not be returning till Monday 23 January 2006.

There was a spring in my step as I headed two blocks down to Queen St Mall. I was a woman on a mission. Christmas shopping, to be exact. All the lead up to Christmas is infectiously exciting, isn't it?

First stop: BIG W
A family shopping outlet with great stuff at great prices. I have to put together a few "Santa" gifts under the tree at home. Yes, we get gifts from Santa and I am Santa in our household.

Second Stop: Polo Ralph Lauren
Got two more gifts for the hubby.

Third Stop: Dusk Candle Shop
More Christmas Candles and Christmas wreaths for the candles

Fourth Stop: Bed, Bath and Table
Christmas ornaments (the traditional wooden ones in shapes of houses, reindeers, etc etc) at 50% off so I bought 2 boxes!

Fifth and final Stop: Myer
Bought 2 jars of condiments for Christmas lunch

It was 2:30pm by that time and I have had enough of the shops, christmas music and crowds! So I lugged all my shopping and went straight for the train station. However, hot and dizzy I was from the shopping - I was well pleased with my purchases.

My holiday has just begun :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

what a year it has been...

Finally...the day has arrived! No more work after today.

2005 has been a very short year but also a long one in many respects. A year of many ups and downs, conflicting decision-making processes and a huge leap of faith that everything happens for a reason.

I am of the opinion that we are never "stuck". In fact, there are always opportunities to be explored once we give permission to look beyond the paradigm. This is the most challenging of all - looking beyond the paradigm and being out of our comfort zone.

If a positive outcome is not derived from the usual methods of application, then we have to seek creativity and the risk of doing something totally different and one that we have never explored. Make the choice of difference and allow that to unfold, you will be surprise what the doors of opportunity returns in your favour.

Today is shape by the decisions we make and tomorrow is a brand new day of exploration and opportunity. Do not let the little things get you down, instead count your little blessings every single day.

We are our worse critics - standing next to a yard stick is a dangerous thing for we are all different so don't go in pursuit of comparing apples with oranges, that is trivia and meaningless. Instead go in pursuit of living today as if it were your last for we only have one life and for some, only today to make things happen.

We are all here for a reason.

Look behind you - that is 2005. Wave and kiss it goodbye.
Look ahead of you - that is 2006. Wave and open your arms.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Bountiful Harvest = Yummy Recipe!

There are four activities I enjoy doing on my own which I classify as "me time".

They include: Cooking/Culinary Experimentation, Gardening; Taking a Bath with a good tabloid magazine; Reading in bed with the cat curled up next to me in an air-conditioned room

Last weekend, I harvested my second batch of super hot chillies for the year and I am excited!!!

All the "hard" work and tender loving care have paid off! I germinated these plants from seed so I am even prouder!

Don't let the size of those "devils" deceive you. Though they are big, they are super spicy just like chilli padi and we love it! We enjoy our spicy food and I would struggle in the marriage if hubby wasn't as keen on them as I am. I have come up with a recipe utilising these "devils", try it one day esp on a hot summer's day!

Beef Vermicelli Salad
serves 4
1 pkt vermicelli noodles, soaked in hot water and drained
400g rump steak, cut into strips
Mixture of Salad Vegetables
1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
1 yellow capsicum, sliced into strips
1 green capsicum, sliced into strips
1/2 red spanish onion, sliced finely into strips
2 handfuls of bean sprouts, top and tail removed
2 handfuls of snow peas, sliced into strips
4 white button mushrooms, sliced finely
Marinate and dressing:
4 tbsps sesame oil
8 tbsps fish sauce
1 spicy chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 tbsps brown sugar
4 tbsps rice wine vinegar
1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

2 handfuls of salteded cashew nuts, lightly bashed
juice of 2 limes

1. In a deep bowl, place strips of rump steak and half the marinate. Mix well and set aside for 30 mins.
2. In another deep bowl, place drained vermicelli noodles, all the vegetables and the remainder of the marinate. Mix well and set aside.
3. In a wok, cook the marinated beef strips thoroughly till well-done. Once cooked, place cooked meat and juice in wok into bowl in step 2.
4. To serve, place beef vermicelli salad onto plate, top with cashew nuts and juice of lime.
Tip: this dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Very tasty served cold.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Adventures onboard the train

Monday. Today marks the last work Monday for the year. Hooray!!!

Hubby told me on Sunday that he would like to take me out on a breakfast date on Monday (today) and I thought, what a fantastic idea and way to mark the last work Monday for the year.

We woke up at the normal time and took a train into the city instead of car for practical reasons. The train trip alone was an adventure in itself. Got on the train and tried looking for a 2 seater. We spotted a 2-seater which faces another 2-seater with a man sitting on one of the 2-seater.

There was a large sports bag placed across the other 2-seater, we approached the man passenger opposite and asked him to remove his bag. His response was, "Oh...the Melbourne Train guys are sitting there. You can't sit there." Huh?! Melbourne? But we are here in Brisbane. In the croweded train, hubby told that man passenger that he was a WACKO and I quickly pulled him along in search of other seats. Don't want to create a scene.

Finally found a seat but not together. A woman passenger in the opposite isle told us that the "wacko" guy has been wacko for the last couple of weeks. That explains.

Anyway, the man passenger next to me was doing Sudoku. My favourite puzzle so I decided to chat with him, briefly. He responded and it was evident that he wanted to be left alone. Hubby sat next to a buy who was studying biblical scriptures for his exams and hubby, being a biblical buff tried making conversation but again, it was evident that he too wanted to be left alone. Must be Monday Blues...

When we got off the train, hubby told me that the passenger studying biblical scriptures was going through all the scriptures on death! No wonder, he didn't want to talk! My goodnesss..what a thing to read on Monday!

We got off at our Station and went to the Hilton Hotel for a most scrumptious breakfast! What a fantastic way to start Monday.

Hubby then walked me to the post office for me to collect mail (my colleague has been on leave since Friday) and then walked me to work, said Hi to my boss and went on his merry way into the city.

He will come by again at about 2:30pm and we'll take the train home together. Ahhh....what a romantic and adventure filled day!
There are 3 blog entries today. Keep reading...

The True Meaning of Christmas

Before we left mum-in-law's home on Saturday, she asked if we had a nativity scene at our home. I told her that we planned to buy one this year but have yet done so.

She then led me to the space under the stairs and handed me a huge bag of very well-presevered family heirloom: The Nativity Scene. The stable constructed by hubby's father and the figurines bought overseas many moons ago.

We feel most honored to have the Nativity Scene on loan for the next 2 years while mum-in-law is away on her adventures.

The first thing when we got home was put the Nativity Scene on our coffee table. Hubby went to the garden and gathered wood chips to give it a more authentic feel inside the stable. He then spent the rest of the afternoon putting it altogether. It brought back many beautiful Christmas (childhood) memories for him.

The True Meaning of Christmas
In today's day and time,
it's easy to lose sight,
of the true meaning of Christmas,
and one special night.
When we go shopping,
we say "how much will it cost?"
Then the true meaning of Christmas,
somehow becomes lost.
Amidst the tinsel, glitter
and ribbons of gold,
we forget about the child,
born on a night so cold.
The children look for Santa,
in his big, red sleigh
Never thinking about the baby,
whose bed is made of hay.
In reality when we look into the night sky,
we don't see a sleigh
but a star burning bright and high.
A faithful reminder,
of that night so long ago
And of the child we call Jesus,
whose love, the world would know.

Off to Beaudesert on Saturday

Saturday saw us driving to Beaudesert. About an hour west of Brisbane. This was our last trip to Beaudesert to catch up with mum-in-law.

You see, she is heading off to Singapore this Thursday (22 Dec 05) for a two year posting as an english teacher to toddlers and kindergarten children at a private school in the eastern region of the island. We will most certainly miss her and know that she will have a fantastic time working and traveling!

Good luck, Mum! We are so very proud of you! 8-) 8-)

The drive from Brisbane to Beaudesert is very relaxing and picturesque. Here are some pics from our road trip:

As you can tell, everything is nice and green - all thanks to the summer storms! And you know you have hit town when traffic starts to build up! Welcome to Beaudesert.

That is Jared and his mum in front of her lovely home. The kangeroos? Yes, that's her backyard! Isn't that cool? Yes, she has a fence so they don't come over to her property.

We then went to the local RSL for a lovely lunch in air-con of course. It was 34C at 11am...can't imagine what it was like during lunch time at about 12noon! The lunch was fantastic! There was ample to eat, the presentation was wonderful and the food was very tasty.

It was a lovely afternoon catching up, not so much farewell. There was a tinge of sadness, naturally. But there is also a lot of hope and positive energy. We departed with no tears but with plenty of hugs and of course, the promise to record every episode of McLeod's Daughters onto DVD!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Ho! Ho! Ho!
I cannot help but be excited about Christmas. What is there not to like about Christmas? It is a most magical time of the year. Fairy lights, tress with baubles, buying presents is a legitimate excuse, eating excessively is not a crime, drinking a six pack is considered pre-dinner drinks, etc etc etc.

Another week of work but hey, that will be easy. A few emerging issues in the early part of the week, that I can handle considering I am can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to picking up my first Christmas ham (ever) next Friday and having an uncomplicated Christmas lunch with friends.

My gut feeling tells me that this will be the best Christmas. Everything's organised, the home looks very christmassy, the husband and I are very much in love, a small network of friends whom we can depend on and vice versa...just fantastic!

Despite the one family matter that plagued me earlier this week, I can say that I am happy and have no regrets on how I have conducted myself in relation to that. Yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate with friends and family but if family only complicates matter, then I'd rather have the uncomplicated version. There is enough pressues outside the home, why complicate it further and make it a miserable for those around you?

In this regard, I have most certainly grown up. I use to try my utmost in pleasing everyone around me and being at their beck and call, in essence - let them have power over me. Well, not this time. I am taking the power back - I will not permit negativity because I make it my choice not to have it. Hence, I am a happier person and do not have sleepless nights!

HO! HO! HO! Tis the Season to be Jolly, indeed.

Lazy Friday

The Christmas Spirit has well and truly dawned upon the office. We had morning coffee with home-made Christmas goodies and exchanged presents! Of course, I brought rumballs. 12 to be exact and they have all been digested into our bellies! In the next few minutes, we will be off for Christmas lunch, courtesy of the boss! Even more fantastic!

The boss bought me a New York T-shirt (of which Hubby will be "fighting" with me over), a christmassy tea light candle holder (I love this stuff) and a christmassy portpurri (love it!). I gave him a bottle of port aged 15 years. From my colleague, I received a most delicate crystal vase (simply gorgous and I love crystals). I gave her a calendar for mothers, it is magnetic, has stickers, can put every family member's name on it, etc etc...she couldn't stop flipping it and is already planning on it!

Lack of work motivation is what I would class myself under this week. Coming to work because I have to and not because I want to but at least, I enjoy being with the team - no bitchiness whatsoever. My colleagues goes on leave at the end of today and I will have mine next Friday. It will just be boss and I - lonely, lonely.

Hubby and I are looking forward to a weekend of activity (3 social appointments tomorrow) and poor hubby has to work on Sunday! Yippeee...that means I will have the home all to myself!

Opps...better get going! Time for Christmas lunch!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

~11 more days to Christmas~

Wow! 11 more days to Christmas and before we know it, it will be New Year's Eve!

The company Christmas Party was enjoyable though a little humid with much reprive from the gentle breeze. Everyone was friendly and it was a sea of smiling faces! Just fantastic. However, my feet was killing me by the end of the night! Got home and hubby had kindly bought me my requested items from the supermarket on his way home from work earlier. THANK YOU!

Yes, I am making another batch of Rumballs! They have been going like hot cakes. Despite being tired and sore, I worked on step 1 of my rumballs - gently breaking up the dark fruit cake till they resemble bread crumbs and then coating them with very generous splashes of Bundaberg Rum. Hubby who was at the other end of the house actually asked at the top of his voice "is that Rum I am smelling?" Boy, I must have added heaps of rum! Goodie!!! Then I put Gladwrap over the mixture and let it stew in the fridge until I work on them tonight.

Since I had the company digital camera last night, I thought I'd take a few pics of the Chrismassy things around the home.

Pic 1 Centrepiece on dinning table
Pic 2 Christmas Tree (it has heaps of lights on it but for some reason, didn't come up on the pic)
Pic 3 Lounge Area in Family Room - poinsettias from the boss
Pic 4 Wooden X'mas tree sits on the kitchen island, the carolers in front of the tree actually moves and sings!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas Lunch: Recipe for Tropical Christmas Ham

As part of Christmas Lunch, I will attempt to make my very first Tropical Christmas Ham. The recipe is from the Internet so if you are feeling just as adventurous as I am, give it a go!

Tropical Christmas Ham
3.2kg ham
30g whole cloves
65g packed brown sugar
5/8 can pineapple rings in heavy syrup
65g chopped maraschino cherries
210ml lemon-lime flavoured carbonated beverage

  1. Preheat oven or hooded BBQ to 160 degree celsius
  2. Place ham in a disposable roasting pan. Score the rind of ham with a diamond pattern. Place a clove in the centre of each diamond.
  3. Drain the juice from the pineapple rings into a medium bowl, and stir in the brown sugar and lemon-lime soda. Coat the ham with this mixture. Arrange the pineapple rings over the outside of the ham. Place a maraschino cherry in the centre of each pineapple ring, secure with a toothpick.
  4. Bake uncovered for 4 hours, basting frequently with the juices, until the internal temperature of the ham is 160 degree celsius. Remove toothpicks before serving

~Christmas Party~

Today is the company's Christmas Cocktail Party.

It is amazing the number of guests in attendance when there is free drinks and canapes, isn't it?

It is events like this that I wish I can drink like a fish.

My drink of choice has always been Lemon, Lime & Bitters - very refreshing drink that never gets me drunk. I wish I can down beers and wines like the rest. For some reason, I have never acquired a taste for alcohol except for rum found in rumballs?!

Oh well, at least I will be the most sober one and since I am the organiser, it is best I stay dignified.

Just when I thought I'd finish my work day for the year this Friday, it would seem that I have to work another week just like the rest of the world. A few more important tasks to finalised...oh well, at least I will be in air-con (that's more than a bonus in itself in this heat). That means, I will have the month of January 06 off!

Enjoy the silly season and be a little silly - enjoy the last few weeks of 2005 and look forward to 2006.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Special People - Reason, Season, Lifetime

People come into your life for a Reason, for a Season, or a lifetime
When you know which one it is for a person, you will know what to do for that person
When someone is on your life for a Reason,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support,
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like God send and they are!
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What you must realise is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered, and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a Season,
because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it! It is real! But, only for a Season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons:
Things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept that lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being a part of my life!

Dedicated to my Husband

I am not an overly romantic or mushy wife by any means but on this occasion, I feel the need to thank my husband for his infinite understanding and love.

Following yesterday's incident with the mother, I rang husband who not only lent a listening ear without judgment but also conveyed his support for me. He did not put any pressure on me and didn't offer any advice starting with "you should have done this..."

It is moments like this that takes my breath away and re-affirms my love for him. Thanks Hon!

Monday, December 12, 2005

What a "Blah" day!

Today marks one of the "lowest" days this year.

It started pretty normally. A meeting that I thought would have been difficult to handle was pleasantly successful and delightful, to say the least.

What I was dealt with later in the form of an email from my mother left a bitter taste on my tongue. To be brutally honest, I am sick of it and am totally disillusioned by the manner in which it was conveyed to me.

It has to do with money. The root of most evil.

There is an age old chinese tradition - when the child grows up and is working, the child gives money to the parents as a sign of gratitude to them for bringing him/her up. The ethos behind this? Filial Piety.

I use to give mother money when I was living at home. Well, that is to be expected. I cannot expect free lodging and sponge off them once I start drawing a salary. When I migrated, I continued the money contribution or otherwise known as cyber-board. Then I stopped for various reasons and that was when the relationship slowly took a dive.

It worsened last December when mother and father came to stay for the holidays. To cut the long story short, they shortened their holiday for various reasons and I thought we had mend those fences when I rang and had a heart-to-heart indepth conversation with them a month later. All was forgiven, for awhile at least (to my knowledge).

In the last few months, this issue of filial piety more specifically in the area of money contribution started to rock the already fragile relationship. Everytime I ring on Sunday, the phone conversations would be one-sided. Mother whinging and me just making acknowledgement noises. This goes on for an hour every week. The phone conversation naturally ends with her making a point about the $ contribution. This is usualy followed-up by an email the following day.

In the last month, I have resorted to only ringing her every fortnight because I didn't want all my Sundays to be ruined by her. My compromise? To have 2 very-good sundays and 2 not-very-good sundays.

The email today topped it off. She undertook research on how much $ my cousins were contributing to their families as compared to my lack of. Naturally, I emerge the villian and them, the angels! Her friends, according to her, told her that it was a big mistake that I left Singapore because I would change.

Well...first, she cannot compare apples with oranges and second, of course I have changed.

Comparison in this case is not fair. For one, all our circumstances are different. Most of them are staying at home and don't have mortages or home-related bills to deal with wherelese, I do. Those who have mortages use their CPF and interest rates are very low as for me, my mortage is being paid off using both hubby and my monthly pay cheques and the interest rates are at 6.7%. Income tax over there is relatively low as well as compared to me i.e. 42% of my monthly salary goes to the Australian Taxation Office! I could go but what is the point. All these were made known to her, did it sink in? Obviously not!

Me having change. Yes, I have and I don't have to justify those changes. Let's just say, I have grown to be more resilient and logical in my approach. Well, I have to.

It is not easy making a life for myself outside of the only ocuntry and home I have only lived in. To survive well in a foreign country and make a mark for myself requires more than just survival. I question intent/motivation in whatever I do and am not blinded by the cloud of tradition.

Friends who know me well, would consider me as generous and open person. I willingly give up my own time and even money if the circumstances calls for it. But I do not respond well and don't think I ever will respond to demands/expectations.

So do I give mother money so that she would shut up even though it does against my principles? Isn't being a family about love without strings attached?

p.s. I know they are not financially unsound. They have been on more holidays than I have in the last two years. The last holiday for me was two years ago on our honeymoon.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The "Silly" Season has begun

Hubby and I spent the day at Carindale Shopping Centre as the weather was simply UNBEARABLE. If we stayed at home, we would be bored and bothered, doing outdoor activities would be out of the question so the next best thing is either the supermarket or the shopping centre. That was what we did.

The air-conditioned and very comfortable shopping centre only 20 mins drive from home was decked out in Christmas cheer. It was quite enjoyable browsing and stopping for a bite and a drink. Hubby and I split up briefly while he went in search for my Christmas presents while I went in search for more Christmas bits and pieces (as if I need more, so I have been told) but this is the only time of the year when being tacky is a good thing!

While having a pick-me-up snack of nachos and coffee, I realised that this is the only weekend we can catch up with hubby's father and step-mother since we won't be seeing them for Christmas. As usual, I had to make the call and sunday (as in today) is the only option. To cut the long story short, rang them and they were most happy to come by for lunch at 1pm!

Just when I thought we can have yet another quiet weekend, I create another social thing. I only have myself to blame for.

Got home at about 5pm. Wanted to go out for movie and dinner but after walking from 10:30am - 4:30pm in the shopping centre, we were absolutely buggered. So we settled for a quiet night at home. Dinner was prawn salad followed by a DVD movie on our plasma. Bliss....

Woke up at 6:30am. Damn..why can't I sleep in? The air-con is on and the block out blinds and tinted windows keeps the bedroom dark and conducive for sleeping in so why?! I was frustrated.

Phone rings at 6:45am. Hubby picked up the phone and it was his mother. She's thinking of coming by sometime in the afternoon! Oh boy! The father-in-law, step mother-in-law and mother-in-law all in the same room. The last time this happened was at our wedding and they were seated at the opposite ends of the room!

We told her what was going on in the afternoon and she was still happy to come round and told us to pretend to be surprised by her drop-in and don't tell the other parties that she will be coming by. Okie dokie...

Next thing we know, it is 1pm. Father-in-law and step mother-in-law arrived on the dot. As soon as they drove up the driveway, they reversed the car back to the road to check the number on the mail box. Then it clicked! We hadn't told them that the front windows were recently tinted and that we had also done extensive work on our front yard! Oh boy! So I quickly ran out and waved them back in.

Talk talk eat thing..."ding dong!"

Oh..I wonder who's at the door

[ME walks to the door and of course, it was mother-in-law. Opens door.]

[In a loud, excitable voicce]'s you, Mum. What a surprise! C'mon in.
[Winks to Mother-in-law]

ME walks Mother-in-law to the dinning area

Look everyone...speak of the devil!

To cut the long story short, it was a pleasant afternoon of catching up. Hubby and I listened in interest. They did all the talking. All in all, a brilliant afternoon.

We exchanged presents and father-in-law gave us a box of his Christmas trinkets that he didn't have use for. So no guesses what I did the moment they left...yes, I put them all up! It is simply fantastic!

I love the Christmas Season minus the heat and humidity.

What's on next week?
Company Christmas Party. Yours truely organised it. 120 in attendance.
Cocktail event from 4:30pm - 7:00pm

[1] 11:30am - 2:30pm Lunch with mum-in-law, uncle Ian and aunty carol in Beaudesert (about 70km from Brisbane)
[2] 3:30pm - 5:00pm Christmas Party with all the neighbours at the park next to our home must remember to bring plate of food
[3] 5:00pm - next morning Linton and Jas coming over for dinner, DVD Movie night and a possible sleep over

Friends from Singapore arrive

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Attack of the Wasps!

Came home from work on Friday and didn't particularly feel hungry because of the humidity and heat but was in a giving mood. So I went over to my neighbours with a gift of my home-made rumballs. I stayed longer than expected as the conversations rolled on.

When I got home, I found frozen vegetables scattered all over my kitchen floor. Surely, it is not the cat. How can she even open the fridge door? I looked over at the patio area and there was hubby holding a bag of frozen vegetables on the back of his neck. I went to him and he told me that while he was mowing the backyard, he got stung by wasps on his neck?! Upon inspecting the "injury", which I could bearly see..I thought best be sympathetic in this situation, not be sacarstic and let him feel sorry for himself as he went on about how the sting might have infected one of his many veins on the neck, etc etc.

Anyway, after a couple of minutes..with me picking up the frozen vegetables all over the floor...hubby got himself armoured in his work overalls (one piece button down outfit with long sleeves and long pants), towel around his head, a cap on top of it, heavy duty gloves and steel cap boots (just in case, he gets stung in the foot).

With his battle gear on, he walked gallantly over to me and asked, "Honey, where are all our fly spray cans?" I procceded to hand him two and off he went to the backyard aka battle field to face his "enemies". So this is his weapon of choice - Home Brand Fly Spray. Hmmnn...okie dokie. I quickly shut all the security screen doors, grapped the cat and watched in anticipation.

It was drop dead funny. He proceeded to the two areas with concentration and caution and when the wasps came out, he would stun them with his two fly sprays and then run backwards while looking at them... guess what, it worked! He was mighty proud of himself. He has defeated the enemy and hence, saved his neck and feet but also his beloved family.

My hubby, my hero.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm on a mission...

Yes! Yes! Yes! They are rumballs alright. I made 30 last weekend and we are already down to only 10! Yes, only 10 left and only two of us eating them. No wonder, I have been sleeping so well every night.

Off to the supermarket tonight for my weekly food shopping and will buy ingredients for rumballs again because I doubt the current ones will last us till Christmas. They are absolutely screw-up free!

If you want to curb your temptation from going overboard with your consumption, put a dozen or so in those trendy chinese take away boxes and give it to friends and family as Christmas presents. It is all about the season of giving.

If you don't want to use real rum, imitation rum is also quite acceptable! If you are serving them as a treat on the spot, best serve them straight from the freezer esp. the real rum ones because they won't be frozen hard due to the alcohol and it makes for a very refreshing and decadent treat!

I am so please that the work week is coming to an end. In the next few hours, time will be of my own choosing.

Brisbane and the greater Brisbane area experienced a huge summer storm at 5:30pm yesterday lasting for 30 minutes. But the winds were so destructive that two people died. A lady died in her home because a falling branch pierced into her window and then to her, the other was road-related. My heart goes out to their families.

More storms are predicted later this afternoon and throughout the summer season. Best to stay indoors I say. There is nothing better than staying at home during a storm and indulging in leisurely activities like making rumballs, reading a good book or simply lounge around and watch the lighting and thunder display across the sky.

Listened to a melancholic song by Celine Dion over the radio yesterday... not sure what the title of the song is but I am sure you will know it when I mention the lyrics...something like "So it is Christmas, what have you done, another year over..." made me think of my friend, Myra who mentioned about it in her blog a few weeks ago and also made me think about what I have done this year and if I had any regrets...time for the count-down!

How about you - another year over...what you have done?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rumballs = Good Night Sleep!!!

There is another very good reason why you should attempt making ME Rumballs...besides impressing your friends and relatives with them, you will also definitely get a really good night's sleep without any interruptions. The husband can fart loudly and you wouldn't even flinch! I didn't :P

You see, I have had a challenging 3 weeks at work which resulted in sleepless nights. The toss and turn, the sleeping on the other end of the bed, the counting of 100 sheeps, the breathing in and out slowly, etc etc...all didn't work for me. Work related matters consumed me no end. It was awful, I became super moody, grumpy and sleepy during the day!

For me, the light at the end of the tunnel came in the form of ME Rumballs. It is so morish. In fact, I savour 2 each evening when I return from work. Coupled with the humidity and heat, it is no wonder that by 8pm - all the alcohol would have crept up to my head, making me super sedated and quite pleasant company actually. By 10pm, I would willingly head off to bed and within 1 minute, I would be out like a light and wouldn't open my eyes till 6am the next day. Absolutely fantastic!

So what next? Well, I have to make another batch of ME Rumballs for Christmas now that supplies are getting low. It is so worth it!

Have it with coffee, baileys on the rocks, scotch on the rocks or on its own. It is simply D-I-V-I-N-E.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

9 more days of work this year

I am counting down to my annual leave. 9 more work days for the year to be exact. Looking back, I cannot begin to comprehend how quickly this year has passed.

2005 has been a character defining year for me. A year of much growth and conflict. I suppose it is better this way because that means I am moving forward as an adult as opposed to being stagnant. Here are some of my highlights:

  • The "still coming to terms" that mum and dad will always see me as their little girl as opposed to being in reality a married woman who left home at 21 and home for me is a 7.5 hours flight from them!
  • The ability to run three successful conferences across the state that was attended by over 520 delegates!
  • The capacity to negotiate with international and local speakers for mate's rates!
  • The resilience in working with 12 bosses across the State!
  • The patience to deal with politicians and their finger pointing game!
  • The tolerance in working with highly demanding commercial sponsors who want everything!
  • The tenacity to handle a turn over of half a million dollar for a non-profit organisation!
  • The creativity of producing multiple corporate communication materials in a flash!
  • The enjoyment of keeping regular contact with 1,200 school leaders across the state through my initiation of a bi-weekly email update
  • The heart-break of losing a dear friend from Chronic Depression
  • The gratefulness that he chose to spend his last day with us
  • The "coming to terms" that there was nothing more anyone could have done for dear friend
  • The convenience of air travel so that we could farewell him in Geelong, Melbourne
  • The compassion that Chronic Depression affects everyone and anyone
  • The knowledge that my husband loves me for who and what I am
  • The security that my husband will be here for me in all circumstances and tolerate my nonsenses!
  • The maturity of my love for my husband - that he is a truely remarkable person who leaves cupboard doors open and not put things back in their original spots!
  • The appreciation of the simplest things in life! e.g waking up each morning, having a job
  • The importance of a small network of very good friends!
  • The "need to learn" how and when to surrender when all else fails!
  • The significance of being a good listener, kind and considerate (as often as possible)!
  • The convenience of cyberspace - MSN messenger to keep in contact with friends from overseas and blogging to share my thoughts with others!
  • The miracle of a baby (no, I am not with child) and the privildge of parenthood (salute to Sue & Ken and Serene)
  • The mastery of the lawn mower!
  • The bliss of quiet weekends with the cat next to me, in bed
  • The warmth of a freshly brewed cup of tea accompanied by a "feel good" book
  • The desperation for some quiet times as opposed to spending 5 hours at the hair salon!
  • The luxury of good sun screen so my face will stop producing freckles in this heat!
  • The excitement of hanging up Christmas lights to enhance the spirit of the season in the neighbourhood
  • The rejuvenation of oneself through tears and self-consultation!
  • The joy of hearing our cat meowing loudly when we step in the door!
  • The fact that I am alive, well and kicking!
  • The acknowlegment that risk is the refusal to forget desire!

I will no doubt enjoy kicking back during my 4 weeks annual leave.

Starting with sleeping in while hubby prepares himself for work, enjoying breakfast at a leisurely pace, hanging out with myself or with another friend from time to time, watch DVD movies till I am truely bored, marvel at the wonders of Christmas, spending a peaceful new year's eve with hubby, pack for my solo holiday to Sydney for a week to spend with cousin who got engaged and a girlfriend who will be setting off to the UK to be with her beloved...

I say, BRING IT ON, 2006! I am ready for a new year with brand new beginnings. My motto for 2006?

To have an extraordinary life...I might as well!!!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Heatwave Warnings Hit Brisbane!

Today is officially the 5th day of Summer.

This morning, i slept past my wake-up call as i was in the comforts of our air-conditioned bedroom. I walked out of the cool room and was greeted with enthusiasm by the sun who already registered a temperature of 26C at 6am! GREAT...

Summer is my least favourite time of the year despite the massive rainfalls and plants growing really well. I, on the other hand, wither away like an ice block left out on the pavement.

At noon, it is now 32.4C in the city, humidity at53%. Yes, I do become somewhat of a temperature freak during this season.

Read The Courier Mail and to my horror, the Queensland Government has today, issued a heatwave alert to avoid heat stress during the next three days as temperatures are expected to soar to 37!

Oh dear! It is only day 5...what am I going to do for the next 3.5 months of summer?!

Time to slap on thick layers of sunscreen and wear a daggy long sleeve shirt when I am out in the sun and put on my wide brim tropical hat - don't want anymore freckles on my face!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Summer Heat

After a week long of hail and storm, it would seem that the weather has decided to descend its heat upon us. Today marks the 4th day of summer.

Woke up to a hot, sticky morning. I dread the heat and cannot believe it is already beating me defenseless. Hubby decided to make himself a hot breakfast of grilled chesse and baked beans on toast. He offered to make one for me to which I declined...I cannot bring myself to introduce more heat into my already hot being. So I settled for gluten free museli with fresh cold apricots topped with soy milk - much, much better.

We lazed around, read the papers and were getting bored. Heat does "strange" things to people - makes us all irritable and bored! So where did we go? To the non air-conditioned Hardware Store?! This hardware store is also a nursery and we went there to get 21kg of mulch for our front yard, fertiliser and soil! Dragged it all home and decided it is not wise to indulge in yard work in the heat of the day. So we left our purchases on the front lawn and will work on it this evening.

Next - lunch time. I was thinking of cold cold salad. But hubby had different ideas - he wanted BBQ sausages! I surrender - can't be bothered talking sense into him. So I thawed the lamb and herb sausages and handed them the tongs and marinated onions. Off he went to the backyard - cooked the lamb and onions on the barbecue undernealth our very big umbrella for shade. Sucker for sausages, this one! To cut the long story short, he left the serving up to me while he dashed to the bathroom for a cold shower.

Lunch was over before we knew it. I have to say, it was very yummy. We downed the hot lunch with glasses of iced water.

Not doing much today - laze away at home under the fan. Keep cool and wait for the sun to set. One thing for sure - the air con in the bedroom will be turned on tonight at a low 20C! Don't care of hubby complains of the cold...he is married to a hot blooded asian woman!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Pre-Christmas Cooking Experiment

My Italian colleague brought some super duper rumballs to work this week. They were moist and divine esp. with coffee. That inspired me to indulge in some pre-christmas cooking albeit experiment last night (Friday).

I have to say, this is the single simplest delicate thing I have ever made in my limited 'dessert' culinary being. You see, I am not good at making desserts or anything remotely delicate. My definition of dessert is supermarket bought ice-cream and fresh fruit.

On the other hand, I am your savoury cook - give me a leg of lamb anyday! When it comes to precise measurements and too many steps, I am at a loss. It is as if, I cannot comprehend instructions or am simply too impatient!

Anyway, you will read very shortly why this has been of great success because (1) it only has 4 ingredients and (2) it does not too many step-by-step instructions (3) so simple to make! Here goes...

ME Rumballs
serves 30

1 dark fruit cake (supermarket variety)
1 x 250g dark cooking chocolate
50g butter/margarine
Real Rum (recommended brand: Bundaberg Rum, of course!)

Step-By-Step Instructions

1. In a deep bowl, break up dark fruit cake using fingers. Pour 1/2 cup of rum over mixture. Mix it well. Cover with cling wrap. Set aside for overnight if you can. (I was too impatient and only left it alone for 2 hours, but still GOOD!)

2. In a microwave bowl, cook the cooking chocolate in the microwave according to instructions on pack. In a seperate microwave container, melt margarine/butter in the microwave for 15 seconds.

3. Pour melted chocolate and margarine/butter into dark fruit cake and rum mixture. Mix very well.

4. Take a tablespoon of mixture and shape it with the palm of your hands until they resemble golf balls. Place each rumball into small paper cake cups to prevent each rumballs froms sticking together. Refrigerate overnight to allow the rum to infuse.

5. You may also choose to roll your rumballs in dessicated coconut or chocolate bits for texture and presentation. I left mine au natural. It is simply divine!

Tip: The rumballs keep very well because they are alcohol laden. If you love your rum, add more to the mixture. They freeze well for a long time. So make plenty now and freeze them. When friends come over, thaw them out on your kitchen benchtop and they would compliment you to no end!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Counting Down...Christmas Menu

I love Christmas - our home is decked out in lights at the front and the back. Our 6' tall Christmas tree with all his baubles has been up for a week and it is taking centrestage in our lounge room. Some of our neighbours have also emersed themselves in the Christmas mood and two families in particular have invited the entire estate to a Christmas Party by the park on the 16th! Talk about giving and sharing!

Now that the atmosphere is established, next comes the Christmas Menu. This is what we are having:
Christmas Breakfast
Home-made Egg Nog
Double Chocolate Christmas Pudding with
Brandy Custard
Christmas Lunch
Tropical Christmas Ham
Roast Lamb seared in Garlic and Rosemary
Barbecue Prawns wrapped in prosciutto
Roast Crispy Potatoes
Roast Sweet Potatoes glazed in Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce
Roast Baby Carrots with Parsley
Spanish Onions in Balsamic Vinegar Jus
Coleslaw in Honey Mustard Dressing
Crisp Summer Greens with Grapefruit
Home-Made Layered Ice-cream cake with Baileys, Rum & Raisin

Roller Coaster Ride

No, I didn't go to a theme park during the week. Rather it has been an emotional roller-coaster ride for me. For my own sanity, I have attributed part of it to my hormones at present.

Issue #1
Work-related. I am feeling rather loss with the new direction the company has decided to take on in relaation with sponsorships. As an organisation of high esteem, we are not lacking in commercial interests . Some of our sponsors have been with us for 9 years and all of them deliver high quality service and products. So what's my point? Well, there is a tendering process in place and it is not a pleasant one. Some sponsors have rang to express their disappointment (they know they will lose in the tendering process) and have been "emotionally blackmailing me" about how good they have been for the association and that it is heartless of us to put them through the tendering process. I totally understand where they are coming from and most of their feedback is also valid. Yes, I know it is business and not personal. I suppose I need to toughen myself up and not let their comments affect me because it is afterall business and not personal, right?

Issue #2
Mum. Been avoiding her. More specifically, didn't ring her last weekend so she sent me a short pissed off email about it. I cannot deal with her right now. Too much pressure from her and also her bitchy attitude. Cannot take it. I rather avoid it than face it because to be honest, I am in no mental state to deal with it. So I sent her email citing excuse of work and that I will be in contact with her this weekend. I love my mum but I hate what she is turning into - whinging, bitchy woman. My hour long weekly calls to her is always about her. She never asks how I have been. Typical. To the point, I no longer share with her my triumphs and trials because she doesn't seem interested. It hurts...

Issue #3
The execution of an Australian drug trafficker in Singapore. It has dominated the news in the last fortnight. Where do I stand on the Capital Punishment? Well, I never knew how barbaric it was until I read the gruesome step-by-step in the papers this week. I was sick to my stomach and couldn't eat. I fully understand the arguments in both camps. He is a drug trafficker and knows full well the consequences of bringing it into Asia esp. Singapore and the amount of heroine would have "satisfied" 26,000 hits! On the other hand, he did it out of desperation (unfortunately, very typical) to pay off the debts of his twin who was involved in drugs. I do not feel sorry for him at all. I feel for his mother, who escaped from Vietnam and gave birth to twin boys in a Thai Refugee Camp and then migrated to Australia to give her boys a better life! He is by no means a hero in this case...however, does two wrongs make it right? [Hanging + drug trafficking= yes?]..I don't know.

Victory #1
Our late friend, Paul Bodington who passed away in June this year has been honored at a media awards ceremony this week! He won the 2005 Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association Media Award and it's also been annouced that from 2006, this award will be named after him - Paul Bodington Media Award.

This award recognises excellence in media coverage which increases sport, recreation and fitness for people with a disability, through print, radio or television. Their work has promoted disability sport in a positive way to the wider community.

Even in his passing, he is still making the world a better place! Cheers, Bods!

Victory #2
We finally have ADSL. It has taken a long time before our new estate has been hooked up! So we have waiting for a long long time...yes, we were on dial-up. It was a real pain in the rear to say the least.

Victory #3
42" Plasma TV arrived on Wednesday. It looks fantastic and as you can imagine, we have been glued to it like bees to honey! We have since watched "Day after tomorrow", "The Gladiator", "Bridget Jones Diary I" and "Bridget Jones Diary II" on it. It is absolutely fantastic!

Victory #4
Came up with the Christmas Lunch menu and it is well-received by hubby and our friends who will be with us on Christmas Day!

In conclusion, I am just glad it is Friday. I am heading to the shops in a short moment to buy presents... as quote a fair bit of it needs to be sent overseas.