Posted by: junehui | January 3, 2010

Ack, is it 2010 already??!!!

On the last day of 2008, I wrote a post that summed up the year. Unfortunately, I was way too busy having fun on 31 Dec 2009 at Mark’s house that I wasn’t at a computer, blogging away. (I was busy playing Twister instead.) So, off the top of my head, here are a few “big” events that marked 2009 for me.

Saw Jason Mraz live in concert (5 March).

Got my wisdom teeth removed (25 April) and got braces (26 May).

Went to Melbourne on my own, and then off to BKK with a couple of friends a week later (end July and beginning August).

Got my sexy MacBook Pro (24 August). (Next up, an iPhone when I can finally re-contract in April.)

Applied for Master’s in research for the second time. And sticking with my decision this time (application deadline was 15 November).

Got hugged by Neil Gaiman (1 November).

Changed jobs (14 December).

Char and Mark got married. (29 December).

Finally registered for Basic Theory Test (31 December).

2009 ended amidst a flurry of celebrations, what with Charkie’s wedding, and a wild, crazy party at Mark’s on New Year’s Eve. 2010 started off crazily and it’s still absolutely crazy. New year, new beginnings. This phrase has never sounded more apt.

Posted by: junehui | December 24, 2009

Slavish much?

This year, Christmas feels a little different. In fact, I hardly feel it at all.

Usually, I’ll be excited and counting down from 2 weeks before, but this time around, it hardly even registered that it’s the week of Christmas already, let alone Christmas Eve. Scratch that – actually, I’m painfully aware that it’s Christmas Eve because it’s supposed to be half day at the office today, but since my direct supervisor/boss has flown back to the US for the holidays, and because I’m sick, I have decided to play hooky and not go to work for half a day of labour.

Yes, I’m sick. Down with the flu. Second week into my new job and it’s already taken its toll on my body. I’ve been kept so busy that I have been staying back at work past the official knock-off time of 6 pm almost everyday, I haven’t had time to eat proper meals (I’ve already lost 2 kg, though the vain and shallow part of me considers that as a silver lining), and I haven’t had time to properly read my mail in my Gmail account (only reading work email), so, like the bride, I don’t really know what the plans for her are. In any case, I attribute my falling sick to a severe lack of rest and nutrition.

Truth was, I was already having a little bit of a cough on Tuesday. My current job entails going down to KKH to test newborn babies within their first 24 hours of life and Tuesday was the first time we could do so, as since I started work on 14 Dec, I have been busy running around and purchasing all the necessary equipment. When we got to the hospital, I told Anne, my boss, that I was having a cough. Given that we are going to be in close contact with tiny babies whose immune systems are not yet fully developed, I thought it was best to be honest with her. Maybe it’s just me, but I had the slightest feeling that maybe she thought I was only pretending just so I could get out of testing the babies. It didn’t help that my cough was pretty minor and I was able to suppress it all day so it appeared as if I was totally fine. Yes, I was apprehensive about testing as it’s my first time doing so and I was afraid I wouldn’t be up to the task. I didn’t want her to think that way of me though, so I hastily added that I didn’t think my cough was a precursor to any illness and that I can suppress it by taking deep breaths.

Anyway, I went ahead with testing one baby, and carrying another one, but I can honestly say that I didn’t cough at all the whole time I was in the nurseries and I washed my hands with soap and used a hand sanitizer before stepping into the wards. At the end of the day, when we were getting ready to return to our office, Anne said, “And look! You didn’t cough all day!” I smiled perfunctorily in return.

The next day, which was yesterday, I actually woke up with a fever of 38.4 degrees. My throat was sore and I was aching all over but I still dragged myself to work as it was Anne’s last day in town before she flew off for the holidays so I wanted to be there to receive any last-minute instructions from her. I arrived at work later than usual, and I explained to Anne that I woke up with a fever. She looked at me seriously and said, in that case, I shouldn’t have tested the babies yesterday. Honestly, I did feel a little maligned, but what’s more important is that the babies I came into contact with are fine. Should anything happen to them, it will be on my conscience forever. Like I said, I didn’t cough at all when I was in the nurseries so I really, really hope that I didn’t pass any germs to them.

Anyway, as I said earlier, I’ve been so busy that I don’t even have time to read non-work related emails, blog, or even tweet. It’s only because I’m sick and staying home today that I can do all these things. Seriously, how slavish am I?

I was going to blog about other stuff that makes this Christmas feels different, such as me not having a party at my house, that over the weekend I’ll be slaving away again, but at the oven this time, helping Char and Mark bake for their solemnization on Tuesday, but this post has been much longer than I expected, so I’m signing off for now. Man, who knows when I’ll next have the time to update my blog again?

Slavish. *painful, phlegmy cough*

Oh yeah, and here’s wishing all a very Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year!

Posted by: junehui | December 11, 2009

Two wtf airhead moments

It is drizzling, and I am walking towards Buona Vista MRT station to meet Char to go for dinner. She is already on the platform when I reach, and the train has not arrived, so I take a seat and proceed to clean off, with a piece of tissue, the muddy water streaks left on my legs and feet while walking. I’m a little taken aback at, and disgusted by how filthy my feet are, with so many dark streaks on my foot. I’m about to wipe them away when I realise that those “dark streaks” are my toe cracks peeping out from above my covered flats. I tell Char, and she calls me “dumbass”.

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I’m brushing my teeth, and I see a speck of black pepper stuck between two teeth that was probably left behind from the cajun chicken I had for dinner earlier. I continue to clean my teeth with an inter-dental brush, and I suddenly see that the “speck of black pepper” is actually the gap between said two teeth. I think to myself that I’m a dumbass.

And when the muffin tray you just bought costs $8, you do what it can to make it work.

And if by “worked”, you mean “tastes good”, then worked it did, despite the fact that your friend did not realise that the measuring cup she used was of a 2-cup capacity instead of 1, and therefore inadvertently doubled the ingredients.

Posted by: junehui | November 30, 2009

A story involving A, B, C, X, and a lot of crying on my part

Something’s been troubling me for the past two weeks, same something that caused me much anxiety, guilt, and of course, my favourite – tears.

The gist of the story is this:

Person A asked me to do something. I did it without telling persons B and C, who will be affected, cos I’m a naive, stupid, idiot. Then thing X happened. And person B found out. I freaked out, tried to explain myself through email, but B did not reply. I thought he was angry with me. I cried. I went to talk to A. I cried again, and felt really embarrassed and ashamed over my proneness to tears, as I always do after every time I cry in front of A. I gave myself a break over the long weekend and did not want to think about this whole fiasco. Then today, I decided it was time for me to man up. I talked to C first, and everything turned out fine. Later in the afternoon, I went to talk to person B. Turns out, he wasn’t angry with me after all.

I learned a huge lesson from this: If I had just talked to persons B and C in the first place, or at least, immediately after I did that something, I would have saved myself from feeling so goddamn horrible, and a hell lot of tears. I can only say that I was too much of a coward, that i didn’t know what the hell I was thinking, but I honestly did not mean to do what I did behind B and C’s backs. Also, I gave B and C too little credit. I should have known that they are really nice, reasonable people, and would have supported what I did had I told them in the first place.

I’m just glad that everything turned out okay. So it seems like thing X is going to happen soon. I’ll be starting something new again.

Posted by: junehui | November 26, 2009

How would you feel, if

… you walk past someone with BO – mixed with the smell of cigarettes – so bad, that your breakfast threatens to come up your esophagus?

… you’re asked to come in to work to help with an experiment – on a public holiday?

Closest I could find.

… a weird, middle-aged man, also an ex-Borders coworker, takes the liberty of downloading a picture of you and your friends from one of said friends’ Facebook, photoshops it, and then uploads photoshopped picture on his own Facebook, with the following comments?

Edmund Ho

The Wet & Gorgeous Babes of Borders when Red was not yet incorporated.
Today at 9:16pm
Edmund Ho

If I have a shop, how can it not prosper with these delectable sidekicks around!
Today at 9:17pm
How would you feel?
Posted by: junehui | November 22, 2009

Baking is tiring work.

Which explains why I haven’t done any in a loooong time. The last time I did was probably a year ago and that was using ready muffin mix.

For some reason, I wanted to make this for Charkie though. I mentioned in my last post that it was a recipe from the fabulous Pioneer Woman, and the equally awesome Bakerella has made it as well. If you’re interested in the back story, I stumbled upon Bakerella’s blog sometime back. She’s so famous, she even got invited to the Martha Stewart Show. Anyway, I was feeling bored one day, and I remembered Bakerella, so I checked out her blog, and that day’s entry happened to be the one about the Pioneer Woman (henceforth referred to as PW). So I checked out PW’s blog, and bam! Just like that, I was hooked ever since. She is just amazing. Her life on a ranch is simply fascinating, and I have just about run out of adjectives to gush about her.

Anyway, back to my take on her cake. The first and also the last time I baked a cake was 5 years ago. If I remember correctly, it was a double-layer white chocolate strawberry cake , and while it didn’t look very pretty (I just can’t get the hang of spreading the icing evenly), it tasted just fine, but somehow since then, I had deemed baking cakes to be too out of my league and I semi-vowed to stick to “simple” stuff like cookies from then on. However, PW’s chocolate sheet cake (apparently also known as Texas sheet cake) seemed simple enough. So I decided to try making it this weekend as a practice run first.

Before adding the buttermilk mixture. Doesn't look... too good.

After the buttermilk mixture has been added in. Looks more like how a cake batter is supposed to be.

While making it, I remember why I stopped baking for so long. Cos it’s really hard work! Well, for me at least. Seriously, sifting flour and icing sugar is long and tedious and backbreaking work. And the disappointment when your creation just doesn’t turn out the way it’s supposed to be is really demoralizing. Case in point: I poured too much of the batter into the first pan and I didn’t realise how much the cake would rise while baking. With the cake so puffed up, I didn’t know how I could pour the already-made icing over it. I was so upset about my “failure”, I almost cried. (Yes, like you didn’t know by now, I am a crybaby with too high expectations for myself.) But I gathered myself together, proceeded to make the best of what I could with the second batch, and luckily, there was so little batter left that it barely covered the pan entirely, but because it rose while baking the cake turned out pretty much perfect. And as for the first cake, after contemplating a few options, such as lining the sides of the pan with baking paper so the icing wouldn’t drip down all over the sides, as well as carefully cutting off a layer from the top, I gave up on these ideas, and went ahead to pour the icing over the cake, puffy top and all. Good thing the icing is pretty thick and didn’t drip much, and it hardened after a while.

Umm... yummy?

Above is the first cake. Sliced off a bit for my mum and I to try.

Before the icing has been spreaded on.

Second cake. You can see it’s shallower than the first one and I could safely pour on the icing.

WIth the icing on top. Please don't ask me why there are holes.

The recipe didn’t include this, but as per some of the comments PW’s readers left on that entry, I added a tablespoon of instant coffee powder into the icing and I love it! The coffee taste was a nice departure from all that chocolate. I feel that the icing is too sweet though. Will reduce the amount of icing sugar from 2 cups to 1 1⁄2 cup next time.

The entire process took me about 3 hours. PW and Bakerella and normal people probably take only 1 hour to bake this cake, but it’s me. I just am really slow when it comes to baking. 3 hours is considered short in my book already. I used to take an entire afternoon just baking. Anyway, after getting hooked on reading Bakerella’s blog, I am kinda feeling the itch to sign up for a cake decorating class. I googled and I found a school in Singapore called Bake it Yourself. Seems like the average class cost about $250. Should I sign up for one? Anybody else keen on signing up with me?

Posted by: junehui | November 16, 2009

Work sucks. But chocolate goooddd.

This has been simmering under the surface for a while now, and today just happens to be the day that I am verbalizing it out and bringing it to my consciousness. No good will come out of it; it’ll just highlight to me how… blah I feel, but hey, it’s not like I can unthink this thought. Man, at least this long intro is sorta diluting my blahness but since I’ve started, might as well get the whole mile and end it.

Ok. I am kinda, sorta, a teensy-weensy lil’ bit not entirely glowing with happiness working for Dr Tay.

There, I said it. Phew.

Ok, honestly speaking, there’s really nothing wrong working with her. Just a few occasional grouses here and there, which is common across all jobs.

It’s just that, I wish she replies emails more often. That I can catch her in school more often. There are stuff that I need her to sign, stuff that I need for the upcoming data collection, but she will be away for the rest of November, and by the time she returns and signs those damn stuff, it’ll be too late to get them done before the data collection dates. And this data collection. I am pretty scared shitless cos I know nuts about it. Jamie, Dr Tay’s previous RA, and who I took over from, would know. She’s doing her Master’s right now in NUS and I totally understand that she’s busy with school work, and that their exams are coming soon. However, I do wish that she would try a little harder in helping me out whenever I am in doubt. I get the feeling that she’s getting rather impatient with me about bugging her with questions. If  I could google and find out the answers myself, I would, but these deal with admin and logistics stuff, stuff that she handled.

Gahh. So much for that intro. Writing the body has got me all up in a mood again.

Ok, think happy thoughts. Think about the “best ever chocolate sheet cake” courtesy of The Pioneer Woman that I am so going to make this weekend. That’ll be fun, right? Who’s with me?

Posted by: junehui | November 7, 2009

The now priceless Graveyard Book

Oh hey, I just saw myself in a Channel News Asia video.

Ok, to clarify, it’s a 2-part interview with Neil Gaiman, and I appear in Part 1 which has a clip taken during the signing session. I saw my name on the piece of paper where you write down whatever name you want Neil to dedicate the book to, and I was like, “Hey, that’s my name in my handwriting!”. Meanwhile, Neil was drawing the tombstone around my name, and then the camera panned out and I saw myself. (Surprisingly, I didn’t look fat. Doesn’t the camera add 5 pounds to you?)

Here’s Part 2 if you’re interested. Here is also where he talks about his relationship with Amanda Palmer.

Posted by: junehui | November 1, 2009

See Neil Gaiman in person. Checked.

I went back on my word to go out with the Borders babes yesterday claiming that I had a lot of “work” to do (Sorry girls, especially Sam!). Well, I did do some work-work (to do with my Masters programme application), but the truth was, I wanted to stay home to make a card for Neil Gaiman. Yep, fangirl here, guilty as charged. I just felt that Neil was being so nice by coming down here to Singapore and he was going to sign autographs for literally thousands of people and I just wanted to make him something to let him know that I really appreciate him doing all these for his fans.

Anyway, I spent about 6 hours yesterday making the card you see below. It only doesn’t look like there are 6 hours of work put in it, but try telling that to my aching neck.

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Buttons for Neil.

The buttons are a reference to one of his children’s books, “Coraline”. (It’s out in cinemas already. Go watch it!) And here’s what I drew on the inside to fill up the space:

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Buttons for eyes.

It’s supposed to look like this:

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"Would you like a snack, darling?"

She’s the Other Mother in Coraline, and in this other world, the characters inexplicably have buttons for eyes, and they are sinister. Anyway, as I wrote to Neil in my card, it’s been a great number of years since I last drew or coloured anything, so pardon the resemblance of my drawing to the Joker.

While I was walking towards Victoria Theatre, the venue of today’s session, I actually saw Neil Gaiman together with his girlfriend, Amanda Palmer, who’s one half of a popular indie duo. Actually, I saw Amanda Palmer first, and by the time I realised that the man whose arm she was holding was Neil Gaiman, they were already walking away.

PB010207

The theatre was about 3/4 full when I arrived and I had to sit upstairs in the circle seats. After a short while, Neil himself arrived onstage and the literary dialogue session began. He was as witty in person, and had a macabre sense of humour, as he is in his writings.

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That's Neil waving enthusiastically to his fans upstairs in the circle seats.

PB010190

PB010191

HAHA!

My brother and I left separately before the dialogue session was over so as to head over to the Arts House for the autograph session. Unfortunately, only one item could be signed and I chose The Graveyard Book which I really loved.crowd

As you can see (/edit: or probably not, now that I see the pics are tiny after I’ve published this post, but I can’t be bothered  to edit, so just take my word for it that there were a lot of people), the line stretched all the way to the river, so it was a good thing my brother left the dialogue session earlier than me to grab a spot near the front.

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We were 6th in line. :D

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My brother got one of his Sandman comics to be signed first. As Neil was signing, my brother asked him if there would be a continuation of the Sandman story. Neil didn’t give a definitive answer of course, but he was really nice and sweet about it. When it was my turn, I handed him my card first, and he said, “Ooh, buttons!” before opening it up. I apologized again for the horrid picture and he said no, not at all, and THEN, HE GAVE ME A HUG FROM ACROSS THE TABLE! And that’s all because I made something for him. *smug* He even went the extra mile by drawing a nice tombstone around my name in his autograph! Sigh. Man. That was so awesome. Too bad my brother didn’t manage to catch the hug on camera.

P1020944

See my card oh his right? :D

autographs

My handmade card made all the difference. Hehheh.

I still can hardly believed that NEIL GAIMAN HUGGED ME! Heh. Excuse me while I wear a grin to bed.

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Oh yeah, and I finally hopped onto the Twitter bandwagon. Sigh. I’ve fallen over to the dark side. And my first tweet is about… you guessed it. Being hugged by Neil. Hehheh. Now that I’ve a Twitter account, I am encouraging those who haven’t to sign up for one too. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

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