Be awesome! Be …

Be awesome! Be a Book Nut!Dr Seuss

Something inexplicable triggered the hunger to read more, read continuously, read widely…


And 2012 saw me borrowing more books for myself than the brood (*gasp*) I joined GoodReads last year, and followed several book bloggers on Twitter.

As 2013 neared, I came across reading challenges and few more in the first week- surely a sign! Not that I need additional incentive to read but its just so fun to have reading company…

So the last weekend of 2012 saw me hauling favourite authors and books from the past to welcome 2013. Here’s the precious stash from the local library-

PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie and Alexander McCall Smith (top to bottom)


This especially made me so so happy! I had been looking forward to revisiting this timeless tale…

When I ‘remember’ to get off Twitter and other social media, I immerse myself between the pages especially when children are in school. Books are awesome company when I commute… one reason why I have been resisting smartphones. Do we really need to be that connected on the go? I rather get lost among pages of book…

So this year, I have committed to completing 30 books – a modest number but one I am very comfortable with. After all,  I need to be realistic about the time for magazines and social media ;p , among other priorities.

l will compile and post my list of to-read titles from GoodReads and elsewhere- this list is likely to have more than 30 titles. That is my way of keeping options open since I dont buy books, but mostly borrow them from the library. May look out for more on Freecycle or the local website for pre-loved books.

These are the places I will be sharing my read books-

LifeYourWay’s Weekly Reads Book Club (soon to be launched)

2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

GoodReads’ 2013 Reading Challenge – (really need to update the books I read here- my last year count of 8 books read is far from reality! 😉

Before I sign off, many wonder how I ‘find’ time to read amidst the usual ‘busy’ schedule. As they say, if its a priority and important enough, making time is not so difficult. It helps that all my children are much bigger and are in school longer. Not working full-time is another boon and commuting on public trains and buses is another blessing as I spend the traveling time reading. I now ensure my bag always has a book after a few disappointing solo and boring outings without one.

While the quote above describes me to a T, it also sets a fabulous tone for 2013. 

Hope you too make time read more…

Awesome April: Touch of Bollywood Glamour

April marks the birthday of Princess (a themed barbecue is planned ;p).

This year, we had an early dose of joyride as a childhood friend (Thanks so much, Nith for the really awesome seats! ;)) bestowed us complimentary tickets to the premiere of ‘Housefull2’- a star-studded slapstick comedy of errors! Held at Resorts World Sentosa, it was the closest our local shores graced Bollywood glam to the hilt (after an award show some years back)

Princess and I got to rub shadows with dreamy and biggest names of Bollywood- Kapoors, John Abraham, Akshay Kumar and the sweet Asin.Princess got first hand experience of mobbing fans as stars made appearance on the red carpet.

Akshay Kumar- as dreamy in person as on celluloid

Her angst was soothed as she was rewarded later (just before the movie screening) when John Abraham ‘looked (her) in the eye’ and waved to us- just as how I got the attention of Asin, screaming (and also losing my voice later) out, so untypical of a mummy ;p

The movie was hilarious despite the flimsy plot. I guess the A-list stars lifted the movie with their immense charisma, albeit predictable comic timing. The catchy soundtrack is another saving point. While the movie is the perfect antidote for our daily grind and great movie choice for a chill-out session, the entire star-struck experience is another high point for me this year!

Pictures below: courtesy of nephew


Sweetest Asin with her co-stars



The two hunks of the movies with their comic appearance



The stellar cast


The elder Kapoor



The dreamy star

Remembering to be Thankful

Despite setbacks, heartaches and what nots aka problems, I always look to what I have as consolation and to get over whatever that’s bothering me. As they say, worry only gives you something to do but nothing to solve matter at hand. And really, I have absolutely nothing to grumble or complain no matter how lacking things seem to be…

But with good life to enjoy, one does become rather complacent and indulgent, and forgetful of the good things. This happened to me a couple of times, recently. I grumbled publicly! shame on me!

eerily, cos not once but twice and very quickly, the issues I grumbled about were resolved almost immediately and with a reminder to be thankful. As I mentioned, the complaints were a tad trivial- less time with the brood, more work (but far from the hours majority of the working population puts in daily). A squashingly crowded peak hour train reminded me of a good life I have chosen for myself… I did say it was trivial.


My Productive Addiction = Pinterest

I first learnt of Pinterest through the various blogs I (used to) follow. It was originally started as a virtual pinboard where users, also known as pinners, curated ideas for various project boards.

The term ‘curated’ has been dropped and pins are now merely ‘collected’… Curate sounds so loftily appealing but the pull of Pinterest is growing stronger. While there are many gushing (“Thanks to Pinterest…/ Thankfully Pinterest…” is a common line in the blogosphere) over this visually attractive, non-reblogging version of Tumblr, I recently came across couple of posts and comments by non-fans of Pinterest. Well, there are always two sides of a coin and it was very interesting to hear from the detractors. (I need to keep an open mind as I am not too crazy about FB though I eventually jumped on the band wagon)

One description about Pinterest leapt out from the anti-pinning netizens- ‘unattainable perfection’. I had to smile. The Internet is a growing globe of information overload. Most of us by now realize the importance of being discerning when surfing the net. One does not believe everything on the Internet. I think the same principle can be applied to Pinterest which, can also serve as a attractive looking bucket list, if one is inclined to have a virtual one.

So why do I pin?

Visually attractive way of organizing my digital clutter (online bookmarks, ideas, recipes, resources etc) I realize my pinboards are reflection of numerous ideas floating in my head. Chaotic thoughts never looked this good til Pinterest came along!

Pinterest Makes My Day beautiful images, clever ideas delight and motivate me. Its a attractive reprieve from my daily grind. A mom mentioned that she has no time (very understandably) to work on the ideas from Pinterest, but my take is that- one NEED NOT! I like to marvel on others’ creations and ideas- that’s my idea of relaxing.

Melting pot of ideas that excite and inspire. Following pinners with similar interests allows ideas to be shared without intrusion (unlike FB, which is a sort of Pandora’s Box for me)

Pinterest connects kindred souls subtly– we are not alone in our battles, internal or otherwise. You are not the only one with that quirky habit or strange way of thinking.

– Its only most addictive during the honeymoon period as you keep clicking on other users’ pins and reading up about ‘every’ pin (and turn pinsaturated, as i call it;)). time can really fly by. One may point out the negative leveraging in that for those hours of pinning or looking up pins, the results may not be substantial. But the fact is that, one may have remained ignorant of the possibilities or methods if not for Pinterest at all!

Pinterest is now my central collection of ideas for cooking, teaching and my growing beauty pantry. I no longer spend time googling or catching up on my reader subscriptions (the days or 100s of unread feeds are thankfully gone!)

Bloggers have also taken step further in starting series to act on their pins- ideas becoming reality. I too pin my pinspired efforts. For a pinaddict like yours truly, Pinterest has really made the cyberworld more pleasant, inspiring and productive!

Source: Simple Organic


Am I depriving my brood?


@play and their creations



The collage above shows how my brood spend their free time when they are not glued to the TV or computer! ;o

This thought- depriving my brood- was running through my mind, thanks to a local news program. It posed the question if tween these days are too plugged into electronic gadgets and if they are too materialistic. Having two children in the tweens age group, this made me pay close attention. Adding to my thoughts was a recent discussion thread on the parenting forum that I follow.

I also asked Princess for her opinion- well more specifically what her peers had and how she felt about not having the same ‘essentials’. She was candid that at times she felt lacking but it has no effect on her happiness. She admits that she has much fun as her friends (if not more, me will protest ;p) with or without the ‘must-have’ gadgets of the little ones.

A recent column in the local papers shared my sentiments- being anti gadget or even anti toys in my situation. Knowing how to do the cycle kick on virtual world, as much difficult it is,  is hardly  something to brag about! I have been surprised to hear increasingly about how the very young ones- as early as before turning 2- can be adept at using iphone or ipod touch. Me- I am still a late adopter ;p and very happily so. I thought parents were being over indulgent til a close friend shared how she has more toddler apps on her iphone than apps for her own use. Hearing from someone very close made me understand the parents’s predicament better.

But I still believe its a matter of (parenting) choice. I accept that we cannot run away from technology. My current project requires me to work with e-books, not a personal delight. As much as it is pragmatic to embrace technology, we need to bear in mind that some time-old methods are still the best. I am still shying away from touchscreen phones (though the ipod touch new gen is very much coveted in this family ;)). These new gen phones simply  remove the tactile factor though I have friends pointing out that my fingers are just too stubby for the onscreen buttons- i begrudgingly agree ;o The present day advanced tech just brings to mind those futuristic human characters from the Disney movie: Wall-E ;p

Just as some parents are proud that their offspring have or are proficient with the latest gizmos, I am even prouder that my brood are doing very fine without them! Of course having a bigger disposable income makes it easier to splurge on ipods/ iphones, PSPs, Wiis and what not, and thats when a stronger will comes into play. I recently spoke to a father who has a modest income and he sounded proud that he was able to get his 6 year old son the ipod touch so that he does not feel deprived. Many parents and even grandparents indulge the young one to make up for their ‘loss’ during their younger days. But sometimes, exposing children to these technology so young may actually deprive them of using their imagination to the fullest. Their imagination is the most powerful tool for their entertainment now and for problem-solving later in life. Thats why Lego is the all time best toy out there! No, we have not got it cos this mummy learnt this very late and instead the brood make do with plenty of cardboard (ala the first family’s style- the recent revelation was a welcome affirmation of my hoarding habit ;))

That is not to say tech toys do not have their merits. My take is that everything has its season and time. For my brood, i rather they enjoy the outdoors, be resourceful with what they have, treasure the limited toys that come by their way. I can only hope that my brood understand my reasons and are not resentful for such choices.

I share one of the many videos I have of my brood at work/ play. This was taken before Sunshine turned 5 and he took the initiative to select the right tool and went about the job. HE was troubleshooting some bike issue, without any prompting from anyone in the family.  Mummy could only gape in amazement… tell me: does the video show you a deprived boy?


Not on FB

Recently my nephew uploaded another group picture of my teenage childhood kakis and myself. Gosh it seems so many lifetimes ago!

Apparently it brought back much nostalgia for those in the picture and others who know us.  Princess then passed him the photo above that shows the ‘entire gang’… many of us were involved in various church activities and performances. We grew up together until some of us parted ways early teens or later.

While the above picture was being tagged, Princess noted that I was the ‘only one’ without a FB account ;p I do not think it is totally true. Actually there is one more person in the picture not on FB as the dear friend has passed on.

I kinda like the fact that I am ‘the only one not on FB’ as I have been boasting to some pals ;p I was never one to be mainstream. I have always enjoyed taking the path less trodden though it has not always been the right choice.  ;> I am not a non-conformist for the sake of it, but really I believe in living the way I want for myself -mistakes and all- and not just jump on any bandwagon. Please do not mistake me for a prima donna ;o I do not expect others to accommodate my whims. I am just trying to say that I will make myself available if and when you want to get in touch, kwim ;p (Someone already commented online that ‘there is only so much (one )can do online’! My point exactly! ;D )

I have been asked many times to join FB but I always politely decline. My usual reply- gimme face to face interaction anytime. Its a great tool but not for me. I have enough online distractions, as my dear gfs can attest to- I am always bombarding their inboxes with links to blogs etc ;p

Thanks to very gracious friends and family, I still get to enjoy such pictures online. I admit I do miss out quite abit of action and news but I never feel left out. Thats because I have wonderful friends who make time to answer my calls/ text messages and even spend lunch or dinner time with me. Friends who are overseas regularly remain in touch via email or skype. Now thats what I need to thrive and friendships to grow steadily.

Sad to say, I am not in touch with majority of them in the photo above. During the online ‘discussion’, some were wondering who they were sitting/ standing next to and most of them seem to be in contact online. Great for them. There are a handful of them who remained in the community and are now married (but not within this group though- correct me if I am wrong ;)) It will be more fantastic if we most of us can get together sometime.

So a 20- year reunion anyone? Yes that picture was taken more than 20 years ago! ;D

PS- Those ‘long-lost’ friends, visiting from FB, thank you in advance for dropping by! I know I have missed alot of happeningz in your lives. Drop me a line at-{alias}gmail [dot] com. Would love to be in touch with you! ;D

PPS- A close galfren just ‘scolded’ me for being mafun w/o a FB account ;p

Food blog- preview & IamBACK!!!


I am back!!!! After an unintentional absence…

First things first- the slideshow above was beta meant for my food blog- Whimsical cook. I first got to know this slideshow site from another mother’s blog;p Since many food blogs use static images, I thought this may a cool way to be different from others- nice try if you askme ;>

So, why was I MIA so long??? Even I cannot answer truly… ironically I ‘stopped’ blogging when the helper was staying with us for a very short while. I mean that should have given me so much more free time right…sigh! Its GOOD to be back ‘D

Well, needless to say, we have been busy out and about and in the kitchen… so please do revisit some pages for updates and enjoy reading our experiences the past few months.

Princess’ birthday

Fun Day at Museum

– Transformer

What’s there to cook?

Obviously I had not planned the menu for this week. I was frenzy packing for the weekend at Bintan and also concerned that things for school will be ready when we return. Thankfully the fridge was quite well-stocked (which is not so earth friendly when going away). When we returned, I did not even bother to plan menu. Just took a quick inventory of whats available and relied on my whimsy mood to cook what I felt like. So these were the items I had at the beginning of the week (which I tried to use up before stocking up this weekend):

Sambal base, celery, tomatoes, bitter-gourd, carrots, lemons, yoghurt, sauces, canned sardines, coconut cream, dried ikan bilis, uncooked bee hoon, frozen spinach dhal

Monday dinner: Fried rice (using the sambal base) and fried bitter-gourd (have to slice it very thin the next time)

Tuesday:  I reheated the spinach dhal from previous week and made sardine sambal 

Wednesday: Phad Thai (my version- with grated carrots, zucchini and celery. (I stocked up these veg after deciding that these veg will be my staple to toss into most dishes needing veg. More on that soon)

Thursday: Daddy was home and he made the perennial fave combo of nasi lemak with ikan bilis (anchovies) sambal and omelette with grated carrot.

Friday: Zucchini rice with sweet sour fish (I had to go get the fish of course 😉

Daddy has offered to cook over the weekend. So he has made rasam (tomato soup) which can be kept for  two days. For Saturday, its sardine sambal again (his version is so much better!) and for Sunday, I may make fishball sambal or chicken masala. Oh well… whatever my mood feels like ;p 

Meanwhile, I need to plan for next week as tomorrow (Sunday) is the best time for me to go marketing and stock up my empty fridge ;> 


Goals p.k.a Resolutions


Pssst… Let me share a secret: The entire world has a love-hate relationship with New Year’s Resolution(s) {NYR} ;p  They love to hate it so much that it will eventually be renamed and not called resolutions at all!  Actually the world population seems to be divided into faithful followers of this new year traditions or naysayers of these ‘tiresome’ resolutions ;p

Every other blog has started this year’s entries (mine included ;)) about their plans/ resolutions, or lack of,  for the new year- as you can read here, here, here and here. NYRs are dismissed cos they make people forgetful,  (cannot remember by the second day/ week/ month of the year- is a common refrain ;)) they make people feel bad for not keeping up with them and they are there- taunting you on your imperfections! ;>
Not too long ago, I was singing a similar tune- disregarding NYRs.  Then somehow, I kept to my simple resolution last year- no buying of magazines (the time when I was in hospital and the daddy bought me one, is not counted!  I did not buy it and the daddy has been ‘conditioned’ to get me mags whenever I was warded for deliveries ;;))
And of course after that small success (which I have trumpeted wherever possible ;)) it will be most silly of me not to make and keep another one! Rite!
My fave blogs have posted on reasons why NYRs are not kept and how to attain the realistic goals. And if you have time and inclination, doing an online search will yield a very long list of sites that help you meet NYRs, the ideal resolutions to keep and even sharing your resolutions with the rest of the world!

While I was pondering over a do-able resolution, i realised that because NYRs are getting so ‘unpopular’, they are now being called goals/ inspirations/ aspirations/ changes- just as how I am viewing mine as a goal (great minds think alike eh ;)). Now is there any of us who dare say we do not have any goal (in life/ for this year)…?

Now to the crux of the matter, or rather this post: my goal for this year/ I resolve to read a news article with my children daily. This is in line with the family goal of focusing on the children’s schooling this year. (Not that was any lack of focus before, we let them be and play more than study ;)) 

The goal popped into my head only two days ago as we were perusing an article on the loss of local fish farms. All 3 became curious and it occurred to me that I can use one article on 3 levels for each child: Princess can have mini vocabulary and comprehension exercises, Adorable learns to read headlines and Sunshine learns to recognise a word, with any picture included. (Oh, i also realised that obituaries are great way to form family tree diagrams. Not that I mean to be inquisitive about and insensitive to the deceased’s family, but  really inference skills are required to match the family members. Maybe my obituary can have such diagram- instead of traditional listing- if the local paper will allow ;))

There were actually more pressing goals I had in mind- paying bills on time (my frequent absent-mindedness made 2009 an unnecessarily expensive year! ;(, declutter and so many others. They will be given due attention. And as I have learnt from last year, keeping it simple and do-able is the ONLY way (for me) to meet the goal previously known athe resolution! ;D

I got listed!

I have started a couple of other blogs (this is going to be a full-time hobby ;))

One of them, soon to be a shopfront for handmade soap, is listed in a major blogging site ;D
(My blog is grouped under ‘Lifestyle’. Let’s see if you can spot my name ;p

While you are visiting the other blog, check out this link: Shop@ LE

Happy reading! ;D