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Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Zhap Gou Meh Feast
This entry is rather late, but well, better late than never!

If you are Chinese, you'll probably know what Zhap Gou Meh means. It means the fifteen day of the lunar calendar. Normally, the Chinese will get together on the last day of Chinese New Year. For us Singaporeans, it means getting together to feast. At least for my family and some of my church friends.

Well, my dad decided to organise a get-together for some close church friends. I guess he must have many close friends for he invited 30+ people. Anyway, it was fortunate that he made it potluck style, otherwise my mum, maid and I would never be able to cook up a storm.

Anyway, Mama Poh brought along an 8.9kg orange-peel ham. Don't ask me what that is. All I know is that the citron gave the ham a tangy taste. I guess the picture actually speaks for itself. For your information, the slices of ham virtually melted upon contact. Haha that's how delicious it is!

Mama Poh's 8.9 kg ham

Mama Poh's garlic spread also put the ones at Pizza Hut to shame. The bread was spread with a generous serving of garlic spread before they were popped into the oven. Not long after, the tantalising aroma of garlic soon drifted into the kitchen. After the bread was ready, they were cooled for a further 5 mins before they were popped into the oven once more. This time round, the bread turned crispy and golden brown.

Mama Poh's garlic bread

Auntie Irene volunteered to cook her signature dish - Mee Siam. It was delicious even without the gravy.

Auntie Irene's Mee Siam

Ma spent the whole Saturday afternoon rolling her famous Ngoh Hiang (Minced pork and Prawns encased in beancurd sheets). The recipe for Ngoh Hiang was passed down from my grandmother. The ingredients had to be minced before mixing them altogether and placing them on carefully cut beancurd sheets. They had to be steamed. For better taste, my family normally cuts them up and deep fry them till they turned brown.

Ma's Ngoh Hiang

Oh, I helped out in this. My job for that day was to shred chickens. I shredded 1 whole chicken and 4 breasts. After the experience, I never wanted to look at another chicken again. ROTFL. However, I was complimented by Mama Poh for the detailed shredding.

Chicken macaroni

An auntie (Edna) I think brought a Kueh Lapis.

Kueh Lapis

Carved Ham

Another auntie brought a box filled with mangoes. Auntie Mary brought a huge plate of Yu Sheng. We brewed 2 jugs of fresh coffee.

It’s crazy just looking at the amount of food there was.


Bro and I made fruit punch and added a special dash in the name of Vodka. For dessert, we had a concoction of Ching Chao and ice-cream.


At the end of the day, we were stuffed. I guess this will be a great year since our Zhap Gou Meh was food-ful!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Testing Testing...
I have decided that I would blog more often. Looking back at my posts, blogging is definitely something that helps keep my mind sane.
Therefore, I shall persevere because I have tons of new stuff to blog about.

I was rather disappointed with a group of students yesterday because they didn't turn up for CCA as they wanted to study for their common tests. Frankly speaking, there's nothing wrong with studying for common tests. I was a student once and I can perfectly understand their anxiety to perform well.

Perhaps I was like them once. Equally fervent, equally anxious.

Now that I am an adult, my views have altered quite significantly. Indeed, the common tests do push these students to revise their topics and stretch their ability to be more consistent. It’s definitely of great benefit to these angels.

When I see these angels struggling so hard to do well in their tests, somehow I paused to think: Are we preparing these angels for a life of tests or the test of life? These 2 mean very different things to me. A life of tests would probably mean preparing for 1 test after another but preparing them for the test of life would mean that we equip them with the necessary skills and attitudes for them to overcome and resolve any problems they have by adaptation.

Frankly speaking, I don’t feel adequate to answer the question that I myself have put forth. However, I do believe that the latter would bring these angels further in their journey in education. After all, how much can an A1 in a subject speak of a person? Can it tell the person’s attitude, personality or even work performance?

I doubt so.

Rather, I have seen people with great attitudes with mediocre grades achieve more success in life. Somehow, a piece of paper can only bring you a certain distance. To go a greater distance, attitude plays a more solid role.

An acquaintance passed away on Monday. When I first got to know her, she was a student from the same secondary school. Later that year, I realized that she was also a distant cousin of mine when she came to my house for CNY visitation. I never had a chance to get to know her better. For me, it was always ‘hi’ and ‘bye’, accompanied by a shy smile on my face. I have heard much about her, her vibrant personality, her bubbly character, and sense of optimism, her quick-wittedness and so much more. Even when we met each other again in NUS, we remained as mere acquaintances.

The day before, I received news from my father that Z had passed away. The minute I heard it, I recoiled in shock before I stammered in asking my dad for confirmation. Obviously, it was a piece of news I was unprepared in receiving. For Z was in her prime. The last time I saw her in NUS, she was an attractive and vivacious young woman who was outgoing yet enthusiastic about the subjects she took. I later heard that after graduation, she became an air-stewardess but quit due to poor health. She soon joined a coffee company. What I never expected that she was struck by cancer of the lymph nodes.

Yesterday, I caught a news report of Z in the Chinese newspaper, proclaiming her zeal and zest for life even though she was struck by a disease which would have rendered many wallowing in depression. She fought hard against the virus in her body; to the extent of having to shave her head bald for chemotherapy.

I cannot imagine having to shave my head bald. Yet, she did it without any resistance.

In her illness, she continued to work even harder, for she knew she didn’t have much time left. Because of her zest for work, she was awarded with certifications for excellence in service despite her illness.

When I saw Z in the coffin, my heart went out to her. For I no longer saw a slim and vivacious Z I once knew. Her bloated face spoke volumes of the suffering she had undergone for 2 years. However, the endless stream of relatives, friends and colleagues told me a greater story of the wonderful legacy that she had left behind. The legacy of a warrior and a fighter. Despite the fact that the cancer had taken over her body, she had left behind something more.

I wonder what I would have done if I were in her shoes.

Dear angels, in life, create a legacy that extends beyond a piece of paper. For it would be this ability to conquer the test of life that would be far more valuable than a life of tests. Do well in your studies but don't make studies your only purpose in life.

For life is so much more than that.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Puzzling Puzzles?
I promised new posts this week so here's a fresh one.

Anyway, I happened to pass by this shop in Marine Parade a few weeks ago and found some steals there. These puzzles were retailing at only $1 each, regardless of shape or size. If you have bought these Mathematical puzzles before at shopping centres, you'll probably realise that $1 for a puzzle is a great buy in comparison to the usual $8-10 one pays. They are ultra-portable and I bring them when I go out sometimes.

Anyway, here're some of the Mathematical puzzles I bought:

Puzzle 1

The Task - These green and pine wooden cubes are strung on a string. Using your spatial sense, try to fix the string of cubes into a 3x3x3 cube.


Puzzle 2

The Task - This 3-D star consists of 6 symmetrical pieces. Disassemble the star and assemble it again with the pieces held firmly against each other.

*Solved by Wen and I picked up the solution too*

Puzzle 3

The Task - Disassemble the puzzle and assemble it again with the pieces held firmly against each other. This time round, ensure that the wooden ball is placed in the centre before closing the gaps.

Puzzle 4

Woah, this looks complicated but basically we have to disassemble and reassemble it, with the pieces held firmly together.

Puzzle 5

This looks simple but I have yet to find out how to remove the pieces.


Tangrams are used to form specific shapes. It tests creativity and thinking skills since all the pieces are required to form a particular pattern.

The Whole Lot

I love puzzles but I shall put the other puzzles on hold for the time being.

- A puzzled-by-puzzle Nana signing off -

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Creative Experience
I have so much to blog about what has happened over a span of 2 weeks.

I feel much better now. To all the angels who have expressed their concern and encouragement, thank you so very much. I feel uplifted by your smiles, your words of encouragement and of course giving me time to get over this very difficult time.

Anyway, I’m going to have a few interesting posts this weekend so watch out for them.


If you remember, I bought a Creative Zen sometime a year back. One year later, the Zen has malfunctioned twice. The first time was due to a phonejack issue and the second time, I suspect, is the same problem.

On Saturday afternoon, after my CO practice, I headed down to Jurong East with my Bro to get the device fixed. It was a mad rush as CO ended at around 5.15 and Creative closes at 7pm.

Anyway, little did we expect the journey to be an adventure in itself.

I have pictures to show. So here's why:

Bro reading the papers while waiting for the MRT

After the 40 minute ride on the MRT, we decided to take a shortcut to Creative. Since we could visibly view the Creative Building from where we were, we figured things couldn't go very wrong. It appeared to be pretty nearby, perhaps a 5-minute walk or so.

How wrong we were.

The Creative Building

It took us 30 minutes to make our way there and it was a rough hike amidst the slippery wet ground. My white Birkenstocks were all splattered and caked with unsightly mud. The dirt track we walked on initially actually morphed into a mud track in no time at all. Obviously it was then we regretted taking the short cut but sensing that we had walked quite a distance, we were reluctant to backtrack.

Lesson 1: Never ever take short-cuts.

The Mud Track

Gooey-Icky cakes of Mud

My Bro's feet during the 'hike'

Anyway, the mud track was only the beginning. We soon had this close encounter with a dog along the way. We soon realised that we had stumbled into his territory and he wasn't too happy about it! Common sense told us we needed to walk as inconspiciously as possible. So we doubled our paced and this action probably managed to appease the dog, for he was no longer hot on our heels.

Lesson 2: Never ever take short-cuts, especially when there are dogs around.

Panting madly, we realised that the Creative Building was within reach.

As with all good narrative stories, there had to be complications and climax.

We soon realised that from where we were, there was a huge drain separating us from the building. A steep slope provided us with another hurdle.

Looking grimly at my Bro, I told him, "Let's do it!" Under normal circumstances, I would have chickened out. However, since Creative was just another 5 minutes away and it was already 6.25pm, I decided to take the slope.

Lesson 3: Never ever take short-cuts, and regret later. Stay true to the path you have chosen.

A mini-slope

Thereafter, we had to cross three shaky planks which were the only means across the dreaded drain. At that time, my Bro was complaining like mad already.

The mini drawbridge

Finally, we reached Creative at 6.35pm, with time to spare. We spoke to the CSO till 7.25 pm.

Anyway, I spent 2 weeks trying to persuade the Creative staff to get my Zen fixed without me having to pay a single cent. And I did! It was tedious though but my stand was firm: I want my Zen to be fixed no matter what. Of course, the fact that I had good vocabulary and the gift of persuasion helped!

Lesson 4: Good English helps anytime.

Anyway, after the whole Creative experience, Bro and I went over to IMM where we spotted this weird invention- Cotton buds for giants.

Weird, isn't it? I wonder where the Japanese use it on.

A Weird Find Posted by Picasa