Friday, December 31, 2010

Cheers to 2011!

Thank you folks for staying with Shortcake for yet another year! 2010 was amazing as it's the year we were blessed with our precious prince Lucas. We are now looking forward to 2011 as it's gonna be better than ever. Why, well in the words of Oprah Winfrey; a new year is another chance for us to get it right. And God knows there are many things I would love to do all over again differently on a clean slate ... so out with the the old and bring on the new!

Have a BLESSED NEW YEAR ahead!

Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold. - Author unknown

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Day!

I write this post with glee 
Cos after today I am free
Free to climb a tree
Or go on a shopping spree!

Today I say farewell, not only to my current job, but to a hectic and busy decade of a 10-year long marketing career. Even as I walked out of the car park and took the elevator up to the office today, I feel so free; emancipated from hours of meaningless toil and purposeless drudgery.

Many events swayed by fate and destiny has brought me to this place. In fact, the decision to take this break and be a full time mommy is not an easy choice to make, albeit temporary. I was swamped with a thousand worries and a zillion apprehensions on what will become of us if we are to do this ... How will we survive it? What about all the bills? Will I be bored outta my wits? Will I be outdated? Will my intellect deteriorate from lack of adult interaction? Will I be a naggy housewife? And the list goes on.... but thankfully the good Lord has given us the peace to move ahead.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
John 14:27 KJV

And for all the tears and pain that's worth, I thank God for the coming rest and peace and I look forward to a time to think, reflect and grow. I know this sounds really weird but something tells me God has been trying to get a hold of me to just shut up, sit down and listen instead of running around trying to make sense of my life and purpose. So let's take a breather and see what's in store for 2011 .... but for now ... GOODBYE!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (King James Version)

Here's wishing all my dear blogger friends, secret followers and precious readers a very Merry Christmas! Thank you for your visits, your comments and your support *muax* May the blessed miracle of the season bring warmth, joy and love to your heart, your life and your home ... and have a beautiful brand new start in 2011!

Oh and since it's Lucas' first Christmas, I guess I'll let him take the lead with this year's greeting, we'll feature the Krazy Koala next round :)

Virtual Scrapbook page created via Smilebox

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tom Yum Style Fried Vermicelli with Thai Omelette

Learnt another new recipe from mum; tomyum fried meehoon! Looks like having her around to help with baby has some unexpected culinary benefits too! Mum got this recipe from another relative and she’s made her modifications along the way, and here’s my version. It’s a fair bit of work and preparation but the ingredients are easy to get and it’s really worth the effort!

Tom Yum Style Fried Vermicelli with Thai Omelette

This recipe is good for 2 pax. Just multiply accordingly if you have a bigger party. I’m using ballpark measurement here as it’s a pass-down recipe.

What you will need:
1. Meehoon (Asian rice vermicelli) - soak and drain half a pack, around 200gms max
2. Garlic - a few cloves, chopped or crushed
3. Red onion - one large palm sized onion, or 2 small ones, sliced
4. Kaffir lime leaves - a handful, around 6 to 8 leaves, julienned
5. Red chilli padi - aka bird’s eye chillies, julienned, around 2 to 4pcs depends on how much heat you prefer! (do not use green chilli padi, they taste different and the color is all wrong!)
6. Dried chillies - 5 to 6 chillies, soaked and roughly chopped, this also depends on how much heat you prefer!
7. Fish cakes - 1 small bowl, sliced (can be replaced with meat/seafood or tofu for vegans)
8. Carrot - 1 medium carrot (6 t 8 inches lengthwise), finely grated
9. Cabbage - half a small cabbage, shredded
10. Lime juice - squeeze approx 6 to get half a bowl of juice, set aside 1 or 2 for garnishing
11. Thai fish sauce - approx 2 tablespoons or more depending on your taste buds
12. Pinch for taste - ketchup, spicy chilli sauce, salt, pepper
13. Cooking oil - duh
14. Coriander and slices of red chillies - optional, for garnishing (I like my food pretty!)

Raw ingredients at a glance.

Prepare everything before you start!

Ketchup and chilli padi sauce optional but the Thai fish sauce is an absolute must!

For Thai Omelette:
1. 2 eggs – beaten along with items 2 and 3
2. Thai fish sauce
3. Sugar, salt, pepper

1. Firstly make the Thai omelette, set aside to cool, pat of excess oil and slice thinly.
2. Then sauté items 2 to 6 together in hot oil till fragrant.
3. Add the fish cakes or whatever other meat you want, stir-fry till ‘browned’
4. Add carrots and cabbage and stir-fry till softened and cooked.
5. Add in softened vermicelli and stir-fry in low heat
6. Combine items 10 to 12 and pour over the vermicelli as it will get dry and soak up moisture readily.
7. Add water gradually if the vermicelli looks too dried-out (hint: it should not stick to the wok!)
8. Continue to stir-fry in low heat till vermicelli is evenly coated and tastes and feels right.
9. Serve with coriander and sliced chilli with the shredded omelette at the side.

Step-by-step stir-fry illustrated. 
Hint; a sturdy non-stick wok and extra long chopsticks will be great help here!

What makes this so different from the usual fried meehoon are the kaffir lime leaves, the lime juice and the fish sauce which gives it that citrusy Thai-inspired, sour, tangy flavour. I find this a really spicy and appetizing meal for any time of the day. A word of caution though, this is seriously not for those with very mild taste buds!

Kaffir lime leaves (aka daun limau purut) gives Thai food that distinctly citrusy heavenly scent!
You seriously can't do without this!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dongzhi: Winter Solstice Festival

The Dongzhi is one festival I embrace wholeheartedly simply because I love the delicacy "tangyuen" which are glutinous rice balls stuffed with sweet brown sugar. Our dear mum has been making these balls every year since we were kids. So this year, now that I've been promoted to a mummy, I've decided to create some from scratch while my mum narrated the instructions. Turns out they are really super easy to make! It's definitely a tradition I can upkeep as it's simple and yummy! In the spirit of tradition, I'm happy to share what my mum taught me today.

Here are what you will need, they are ballpark measurement as mum doesn't go with the metric system, it's all in her head!

For the balls:
  1. 1.5 bowls of glutinous rice floor (standard Chinese rice/soup bowl)
  2. 0.5 bowl of rice floor
  3. 1 cup of warm water (not cold!)
  4. Brown sugar blocks
  5. Food coloring
  6. A few drinking straws or chopsticks to dip food coloring
For the ginger soup:
  1. Pandan leaves (aka Screwpine leaves)
  2. Ginger (roughly chop and crush 4 to 6 inches depending on your desired 'heat')
  3. Sweet potatoes/yam (optional, qty depends on your preference)
  4. Rock sugar
This recipe is good for about 4 pax depending on your appetites!

Easy-breezy Steps:
  1. Get two pots ready; one for boiling plain hot water and one more for the ginger based soup.
  2. Boil the pandan leaves, rock sugar, potatoes and ginger together till fragrant.
  3. The other pot is for cooking the balls in plain boiling water.
  4. Sieve the 2 types of floor together, then gradually add warm water while kneading it with your hand till you get a bouncy dough consistency kinda like Play-Doh, it should not be too watery but hold up well on it's own. To test if it's right, make little balls with it and see if it holds up. If the dough feels too watery, add more floor to balance it out.
  5. Separate the dough into batches based on the number of colors you want to have. I have five batches here; white, pink, blue, purple and green. Then use the tip of a straw to dip color unto each dough batch and knead till color is even. Be careful to rinse your hand between each batch otherwise your colors will run everywhere!
  6. Cut the brown sugar to little cubes to be used as fillings for the balls. You can also make them plain, or use different fillings like peanuts or black sesame paste which I have no idea how to! But anyway I prefer good old simple brown sugar; sweet and fragrant!
  7. Pinch dough into mini balls, insert a piece of sugar and roll between palms to get a nice round shape.
  8. Cook the ready balls in plain boiling water, they are ready when they float to the surface.
  9. Transfer the cooked balls to individual serving bowls. Scoop ready ginger based soup over the balls and we're good to go!
Have fun trying this out and enjoy yummy "tangyuen"! You know what, you don't even have to reserve this delicacy for the festival, it's easy enough to prepare for any family dinner or just a lazy weekend at home for tea!

Prepare the ginger-based soup, boil till fragrant.

 Separate dough into batches based on the number of colors you want to have. I have five batches here; white, pink, blue, purple and green. Then use the tip of a straw to dip color unto each dough batch and knead till color is even.
 Cut the brown sugar to little cubes to be used as fillings for the balls.

 Pinch dough into mini balls, insert a piece of sugar and roll between palms to get a nice round shape.

 Cook the ready balls in plain boiling water, they are ready when they float to the surface.

 The balls will get a little bigger and look really shiny when cooked, color also become stronger and darker. Transfer the cooked balls to individual serving bowls.

Scoop ready ginger based soup over the balls and we're good to go! As you can see in this pic here we had it with some nice keropok lekor!

  Love the way the brown sugar is half-melted inside the ball, it oozes out so sweet and hot!

Happy Dongzhi everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Legoland at Bangsar Village

Toys R Us is set to fulfill any kid's Lego-dream this Christmas. I'm sure most of us had some kinda Lego fantasy or other when we were kids. Hop into Bangsar Village to be transported into magical Lego-land. Hubby is a big Lego fan (aren't all boys???) so he had alot of fun just gazing and lusting at the various Lego collections on display.  I was pretty impressed with the ginormous 22-feet Christmas tree and the many fabulous Star Wars collections! Here's a sneak preview, I'm thinking it's really worthwhile to take your kids here. It's definitely not your run-of-the-mill Christmas mall decor.

 22' Lego Christmas tree!

 Lego on discount; perfect for Christmas pressies! Good thing Lucas is still so tiny, otherwise he will be bugging us for these stuff!

 It's like a Lego museum here; I think these belongs to hard-core avid collectors. The adults and older teens are more taken with these than the children.

  My favorite; an assembly of the entire Galactic Empire!

Clone troopers!

Seaside medieval castle.

Ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Play area for children.

Catch them before they are gone, from now till 2 January 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Friends in the Making!

Baby Lucas (born on 4 Sept 2010) and 
Baby Basel (born on 19 Oct 2010)

It's a momentous occasion when your childhood friend whom you've known since kindergarten gives birth almost the same as you do! We finally managed to catch up after my dear girl's confinement period is over. Here's a short clip of our little baby boys together; getting acquainted for the very first time. They will be seeing alot of each other and I hope they will find good friends in each other in the years to come. Just as their mothers did!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The End: Closing Another Chapter

I’ve been quiet awhile as it’s been quite challenging trying to juggle a new baby and going back to work in November.Anyway when I came back in November, I tendered my resignation immediately. Understandably, people get the impression that I’m leaving my job for the sake of my baby. That’s only part of the truth. I’m leaving this job because it’s like the biggest career mistake I’ve ever made. 

Why is it a mistake? Well, to begin with, there was a serious mismatched expectation vs deliverables. I believe I excelled as a marketer in many ways but I think I suck at this current role (client servicing in advertising). In my past 10 years, I’ve done and achieved things most marketers can only dream of. I’ve done the whole nine yards, one-leg-kick thing, late hours and weekends included. All that plus blood, sweat and tears, all in the name of passion for my job. Some of you who know me will know that when I’m completely on board when I believe in something, there will be no stopping me come hell or high waters! However, my dissatisfaction here has nothing to do with my clients, in fact I've met some pretty wonderful clients who are very appreciative.

Somehow I’m not able to replicate the same fabulous me here. Just to organize my thoughts, here are some of the more concrete reasons why things are not happening here:
  1. It’s not what I expected it to be; should never have left marketing to join the dark side!
  2. I don’t enjoy what I do; it’s all lacking a sense of purpose.
  3. I’m not good at this because I don’t enjoy it.
  4. Lack of direction, guidance and support; which means I’m groping in the dark half the time.
  5. Incongruent expectations on both sides.
  6.  Conflicting work styles within the department creating a lot of contention.
  7.  Poor top-down planning and conflicting directions leads to a lot of confusion on who is supposed to do what , how and when, resulting in a lot of unnecessary last-minute scrambling. I don’t understand why we have to pay dearly for someone else’s mistakes and poor time management.
  8.  I hate not being in control of my work.
  9. The department itself is fragmented.
  10. I’m not contributing in a way that changes the world (unlike in my previous place), when I don’t see myself making a difference, I feel very demotivated.
  11. I’m not growing professionally as I’m not learning what I need to.
  12. Socially it’s not happening for me either; I’ve always had wonderful workmates from my previous jobs which became lasting friends till today. God knows I’ve tried. People keep leaving anyway. Hence everyday is a lonely battle.
Don’t get me wrong, the company is an excellent employer overall and there are many satisfied long-standing staff. To be fair, as an organization they have pretty good values and principles. There will always be some weak links within any strong organization and I’m unfortunate enough to be stuck in one such division. As such I know I need to leave because another day of this would surely break me completely.  I don’t want to spend my hours picking up the pieces and fire fighting for someone who is so disorderly. My anally methodical mind cannot handle it, I have to be in control or I will totally lose it so help me God.

Having said that, do I regret leaving my previous job? No I don’t, the time was ripe there and I had to move on sooner or later. I will always cherish the moments I’ve had there. Looking back I appreciate all the trials and tribulations I went through and it made me what I am today. I especially appreciate the people who gave me the autonomy to make decisions, the room to make mistakes and the freedom to take pride in my work.

And so by the end of December I shall close the year by ending this small chapter on a bad career decision and  starting the new year as a SAHM (stay at home mum) for a while, we don’t know how long yet, perhaps until me and my baby are both ready. We need each other very much right now. 

Will I work again? Yes I believe I will, eventually, I’m not sure if I can resist the lure of the corporate madness and I don’t think I’m done with marketing yet. I’d like to have the opportunity to redeem myself as I don’t want my career life to end on such a doleful note.