The bookworm that I am

Fantasy, romance, mysteries, thrillers, children's fiction, erotica, court thrillers, women's fiction , magazines, comics, graphic novels, ebooks, blogs and the occasional autobiography.
These are the types of reading materials that used to keep me occupied for hours on end and though my tiny little library at home is packed and overflowing with books, the only thing I miss the most after having LR is having the luxury to sit down with a good book for hours.
Admittedly, my passion for books is still strong and I still continue to cram my bookcase (which is my library, by the way) with new books. Sadly, many of these books are untouched and waiting to be read.
After LR, our lives have been thrown upside down and our schedules pretty out of whack. Instead of having tonnes of time by ourselves, Steve and I now have to share our time with LR. Cute and darling as LR is, I miss those solitude times for myself. Gone are the days when I could spend a whole evening just curl up on the sofa devouring the latest book I bought.
Now, the books I read are picture books and pop-up books during bedtime for LR. Just like his mommy, LR has picked up a passion for books and though he can't read, he recognized all the animals / creatures in his books. In my books shopping sprees, I have picked up a new habit of browsing through picture books to look for beautifully and colourfully illustrated ones for LR.
Gone are the days when I am found in the fiction section of the bookstore looking for the latest Nicholas Sparks bestseller or Mary Higgins Clark's new thriller or Nora Roberts' romance books or Kay Scarpetta's new cases by Cromwell or even a John Grisham's courtroom drama.
I used to read a variety of authors ranging from detective to horror to children's fiction. I also love Enid Blyton and Diana Wynne Jones. Whatever book which I find interesting, I would buy.
Sigh..if only I have enough time. I have been reading a children's fiction book for the past few months and till today, the bookmark is stubbornly stuck in the middle of the book. I wonder when I shall ever have the time to finish that book and move on to another book. Let's not even talk about the dozens of ebooks I bought and is stored in my laptop unopened.


Simple chocolate ball recipe

I accidentally discovered how great this tasted after trying to make energy balls for LR, the finicky Mr Food Critic Number One in my house. My efforts were wasted on him and it all went straight to my hips!
Here's the wonderful, crunchy, mouth-watering recipe to satisfy the chocolate and peanut butter lovers out there!

Crunchy peanut butter
roasted peanuts, crushed
crackers, crushed
Cooking chocolate (dark or milk depending on your taste), chopped

Use a spoon to scoop out a dollop of peanut butter. Then roll it over the crushed nuts and crackers until covered and you are able to shape it into small balls. Melt the cooking chocolate by placing it in a heat-proof dish and place the dish above a boiling pan of water.
Dip the balls into the chocolate and coat it evenly. If you liked it covered in nuts, you can sprinkle some nuts around it before placing it into tiny paper cups.
You can alternatively place it on a thin sheet of baking paper on a tray before refrigerating it for several hours. Once the chocolate harden, it is ready to eat. Enjoy it cold!


Have you lost weight?

There is nothing more satisfying, especially when you are on a stringent diet, to have people coming up to you asking if you have lost weight!
I absolutely felt great and thin. It was not an easy task to finally have people asking me that as approximately six months before I started this diet, I get asked 'Are you pregnant again?' questions a lot! That was not good. It made me feel absolutely crappy and horrid. It made me feel bloated and when I looked in the mirror, my thighs looked bigger than an elephant's leg and let's not even talk about my butt!
Well, that is now all in the past. I just wish I could keep this weight off for good and then I am home free!
Before I embark on this dieting and exercising journey towards a slimmer me, I had a 'before' picture taken and had held off taking the 'after' picture for quite a while. Perhaps it is now time for me to do so.
I can just imagine the difference of both pictures. The before with me slouching, thighs thick, hips wide, arms flabby and tummy protruding. The 'after' of me would be a slender stranger with a flat tummy, slim thighs and small waist with just curvy hips. Yep, I am gonna look like a regular model, I am!
Well...ok...maybe my tummy is not so flat and my thighs not so slim but I am certain it must have shrunk since I started this diet! Darn it, all those weeks of less chocolates must account for something!
Oh well, at least, my collarbones are showing and my wedding ring is really loose. That is a good sign, no? Sigh...the loose skin on my tummy will probably be there to stay unless I have a tummy tuck but at least it is not bulging anymore. weight? It's been stuck at my threshold weight for awhile and I have decided to be satisfied with it for now. I mean, I don't want to end up too skinny. All the chocolate companies will close down if they lost one of their loyal customers, ME! Heh heh.
Gotta go. I have to find a great pose for my 'after' picture. And NO, I will not post it here. Not unless if I absolutely look like a swimsuit model or something.


I have an admission to make...

*Head hanging, feet shuffling, eyes downcast*
Ok, ok, I admit it. I am a farce.
I know nothing about blogging and the hows and whats and wheres of blogging. Nothing. Nada. Zilch!
I do not even know what the heck is a feed, how to use html and whatever applications with strange looking initials. It is a struggle for me to do something simple such as customising my own blog. It took me weeks to finally get the hang of it and that is just to do minor changes. I wanted to create my own template but obviously that is much too advance for me!
Then there is the html, javascript, css and whatnots. These are nothing short of foreign language to me. Oh is back to surfing the net to find out how to do this or that!
However, thanks to some really savvy bloggers with even one of them giving step by step tips on how to do this or that, I have learned quite a few tricks but some things are just way too complicated for me to understand!
To think I am on the web every day to do research (and blog) but I do not know simple things such as feed url and widgets and such.
Better get back to the drawing board...I am still trying to figure out some things. So look out for really weird changes to this blog over time, that is if I ever get the hang of all those foreign initials.

TT # 7 of quotes I like

Thirteen quotes I like

On friendship:

1) The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

2) True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost.
- Charles Caleb Colton

On love:

3) Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It isn't something you get. It's something you do. It's the way you love your partner every day.
- Barbara de Angelis

On life:

4) Be not afraid of life. Believe that life IS worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
- James Truslow Adams

5) There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.
- Maya Angelou

On happiness:

6) Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
- Guillaume Apollinaire

7) Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.
- Democritus

On death:

8) It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
- Marcus Aurelius

9) Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself.
- Henry Ellis

On success:

10) I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.
- George Burns

11) Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
- David Frost

On dreams:

12) Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.
- Langston Hughes

On character:

13) Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.
- Anne Frank

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Fresh new image!

I got bored with the old template for this blog and decided to change it. I initially intended to create my own template but since work is still piling up to rival the tallest tower on earth, I decided to just use any available template in blogger.
This one looks pretty simple and I kinda like its design so here it is. There has been some changes in my life and I guess I have long since come to terms with it and go with the flow.
There were moments of darkness, regrets and deep pain but it is now all in the past. There is a silver lining in every stormy cloud, I am sure of it. I have already glimpsed the silver lining and hopefully it won't be long before I actually felt it!
Anyhow, despite changes in the way my life is heading and the workload, things are working out quite fine for me.
But I cannot say the same for the rest of the world as is testified by the daily front-page news of carnage, evil, murder, rapes, violence, cruelty...sigh. I never liked reading the newspapers when I was young (because it was boring to a teenager) but even as I grow up and started working (in the media line, no less!) I still detested reading the newspapers for an entirely different set of reasons.
The daily news of human's cruelty against their own kind is not what I call great fun reading. It was downright depressing. If I had any choice at all, I would never pick up another newspaper ever again except to browse the comics section. But I don't have a choice. A journalist must always be ahead of the news and that includes reading the major newspapers here.


I have food critics living with me!

When I was younger, I don't like to cook. In fact, I never stepped foot into the kitchen and the only time I do so was to forage for food.
So, if my younger self were to meet me now, I'd probably be so shell-shocked and speechless at my sudden (ahem!) prowess in the kitchen which does not only involve stuffing my face with all sorts of junk food and chocolate-y food there.
This transformation was actually a result of having to survive on fast food, stale bread and far from healthy junkfood all those years before I decide to become healthier by cooking and eating healthy meals.
But I digress. I don't intend to go into the long story of my many 'adventures' in the kitchen (I'll reserve that for another post) but more on the food critics living in my house.
First, my husband is a self-proclaimed food critic who will crinkle his nose at anything that is even slightly off or not to his taste. One of the conversations went like this:
"Sniff...sniff...that smells weird. What's that?" combined with a disdainful down-his-nose look and a tentative poke at the 'weird' food with his fork.
This will result in a killing-glare from the chef (me) and he would suddenly realize his little slip and tried to make amends.
"Err...I mean. That...err...chicken looks interesting," he improvised with a 'please don't bash me over the head with the frying pan' look.
"It's not chicken but a monitor lizard our neighbour killed while backing out of his driveway and didn't want to waste so he skinned it and gave me a recipe to cook it with. He said it is very tasty, just like chicken," this is said with a dead-pan look.
By now, his face had turned a particular shade of green and purple.
"Did you say lizard?"
"Ya, the type that always make you jump up and scream like a girl. The type with a long tail, scaly skin and flicking tongue," I paused, "Though this one is no longer able to flick its tongue so it shouldn't be so scary to you,"
"Err...I'm not hungry anymore..." he pushed away his plate and inched away from the so-called lizard.
"Too bad. I cooked it the way you loved best. With lots of spices and chilli," I shrugged and nonchalantly picked up the dish to head to the kitchen.
"So, what else is for dinner?" he ventured tentatively after a few minutes, with me trying hard to laugh silently in the kitchen.
I coolly brought out the same dish and plonk it on the table.
"Chicken stew with potatoes simmered on low fire for two hours so that the chicken is tender and soft, with spices and a dash of chilli to add some zest into it," I said with a flourish.
He did a double take, stared at the dish suspiciously and then turned to me, blazing me with a narrowed eye look.
At that point, I burst out laughing and it took me another few minutes of almost rolling on the floor with laughter before I could talk coherently. My laughter must have been contagious as he, too, joined in.
Needless to say, that is the last time he wrinkled his nose over any of my cooking before tasting it. Oh, don't worry. He finished the stew and asked for seconds after I managed to convince him that it was really chicken and not lizard.
The other critic is Little Ray. This one is a little hard to tackle as this little guy found a way to make himself throw up if he does not like something. Fortunately, he loves vegetables (shocking, I know, but true!) and the only problem is with any sort of meat that is not tender enough to melt in his mouth.
He has a problem with any soft food that requires a lot of chewing but loves crunchy vegetables such as carrots and almost raw broccoli. Oh, he has this thing for tomatoes and could eat four or five cherry tomatoes in one sitting as a snack.
His number one enemy is milk. At the sight of his 'Milk Milk Cup' he would make gagging sounds and immediately go into hiding.
How I wish I could just feed him carrots and broccoli all day but too bad, he's not a rabbit and he needs his healthy carbs, dairy and protein to grow up. Besides, this little food critic does not like to have the same type of food everyday, meaning, if he had carrots and chicken for lunch today, he better don't find the same thing cooked in the same way tomorrow!
Hmm...and I thought my boss was demanding!


I will live through this!

Having lived with a dream for most of my life, it is simply devastating to have it dashed and trampled into smithereens within mere seconds.

I did not expect it.

If I had been given the power of foresight I would do anything possible to salvage whatever I could is not to be. Some would say it is just not my destiny, not my fate, not mine. There is this saying 'what is yours will be yours but what isn't yours, will never be' that pops to mind, reminding me the bitterness of being forced to let go a lifelong dream.

Despite that, I still have a tiny thread of hope, a thin transparent string of tenacity to hold on to that dream. Yes, it is already crushed into a million pieces, but I still cling to the shards, gathering it, ignoring the tiny cuts, keeping them close to me.

It is a dream I had as a kid and by hook or by crook, I will not let it go just like that. Not without a fight. Not without attempting to piece together the jagged million-piece puzzle my dream had become. Not without begging on my knees and pleading for a chance. A tiny little chance. It does not matter that I may not be able to achieve the dream as I envisioned it but at least, give me something. Even a fraction of it is good enough.

What is life worth living for if we are not motivated and powered to move on by our very own dreams? I do not dream of riches (well, sometimes I do but then, that is silly daydreaming), I do not dream of fame, popularity or even beauty.

No, what I crave and have always wanted is to achieve something I have always wanted through sheer determination and hard work. I am not asking for handouts here. I am not asking for freebies. All I wanted is just to achieve that dream and to get that satisfaction and contentment of finally reaching that lifelong dream and goal. Is that too much to ask?

Sigh. Life is such that is it never fair. Be that as it may, I will not let this drag me down. Crushed as my dreams are, I will find a way to build it up again and I will definitely live through this.


TT # 6 of all things I love!

In light of all the negativity floating around and daily violence and sufferings reported in the news, I decided to chase away all this dark, dark things with wonderful, beautiful thoughts of things I love!

Things I absolutely love, love, love (in no particular order)!

1) Beautiful sunshiny days with blue skies, cool breezes and absolutely fresh pollution-free air. Nothing beats great weather with cool crisp refreshing air when I go for my morning walks.

2) Little Ray may not be a 'thing' but more of a person but I so do adore and absolutely love him to bits.

3) Darling Steve is the light of my life and the one who kept our apartment spick and span. How could I not love him? *g* Seriously, he is my soul mate and I do not know what I would do with myself without him in my life!

4) Generous people who do not think twice about helping out a poor soul along the way either by way of donations or some thoughtful gestures.

5) Cute furry pets from dogs to cats to hamsters...I am an animal lover who can't go through life without a pet! Now we can only keep fishes due to Little Ray's allergic problems with dog fur and though we did not get rid of my poor silky terrier, Arthur, he had to be 'relocated' to my inlaws' place.

6) Lazy quiet days at home with nary a thing to do except to lay on the sofa all day curled up with a good book and a box of choc truffles... with Little Ray around, that hardly happens but I do get some quiet moments when he is sleeping.

7) The wonderful music of nature from birds singing in the mornings to the chirping of crickets at night never fail to enthrall me with the wonders of nature.

8) Chocolates - HAH! Thought I forgot this sinful yet delightful dessert?? No way. How could I leave out the food from heaven, the source of all my salivating moments, the wonderful, mouthwatering confection of my dreams?

9) Ice cream - now, I could not mention chocolate without mentioning ice cream, could I? These cool creamy sweet creations are a favourite of mine on hot sweaty days.

10) My tiny little balcony turned into a small Balinese-style garden complete with a pond, a fountain, goldfishes and potted green plants. I never tire of admiring and enjoying my 'garden' though it is a tad unkempt nowadays with leaves everywhere....

11) Books, books and more books...I could not live without books. Seriously. I can live without TV but if you take away my books, I would probably shrivel up and die! Oh, it also includes ebooks.

12) A baby/ child's laughter...there is nothing so beautiful, so innocent and so absolutely heart-melting than to hear a young child laugh. I loved to make Little Ray laugh as his bright, bubbly laughter never failed to cheer me up.

13) A good 'wow' story which can be touching, suspenseful, sad, happy, romantic, horrific or just plain fun. This can be presented in the form of a movie, a play, a book or ebook but it has to be well told and has the factor to keep me 'gripped' till the very end.

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Amusing, confusing Blogland

I have been a lurker in quite a few author and reader blogs (particularly of the romance genre) for quite a while and mostly I refrain from commenting except for one or two blogs.
Recently, reading blogs have become much like watching a drama series what with all the smearing and swearing going on! It is highly amusing and sometimes even had me laughing out loud.
Somehow, it is also quite sad. I mean, to me, blogging is just a way to express my opinions, so whoever who chanced upon my blog could just go away if they don't like my opinions and never come back. The end of story right?
Nope. Wrong. Apparently, in Blogland, some bloggers seemed to take offense over opinions by other bloggers and go all out to attack the bloggers who offended them.
I have tried to imagine how I would react if I am one of those who felt offended and still I could not understand their defensive over-reactions.
If some blogger had written something not so pleasant about me, I would have taken it in my stride to either ignore it (if it is baseless) or respond with the intention of finding out the reason behind the negative post entry about me.
As a professional journalist trained to always be careful of what I write, I would never launch into a huge diatribe against another blogger over some negative remarks about me.
It is unprofessional, distasteful and it will only serve to make me look bad in the end.
Reading these unprofessional attacks left a really bad taste in my mouth and it greatly reminded me of the world of politics.
All I ask is that what do they get out of this in the end? Politicians do it because they want to win the coveted seat / position they are after. But bloggers? What do they get?
I don't get anything from blogging except to relieve some of my working stress so even if someone do write bad stuffs about me in their blogs, so be it. Why should I bother anyway? So what if that blogger has a million readers and it may tarnish my name? If I am true to myself and confident with what I do, why should I bother about it at all?
Oh well, I guess bitchiness exists everywhere, even in Blogland. I am not really affected by it all but darn, it really makes for some entertaining read!

Caring for an active toddler

If I was not already on a diet and exercising to melt away the unwanted weight, I would probably complain endlessly on how I never get to sit down quietly for a full five minutes during the weekends when I am home alone with my active toddler.
It turns out my toddler is really good for my health. Running after him, chasing him around the house, struggling with him to get him out of the tub (he loves taking baths and always fought to stay in the tub longer), trying to cook while keeping an eye on him, taking him out for evening walks and the playground...all these activities actually do help. Before I know it, I have lost a few more inches without really trying although the weight is still stagnant at 130lbs.
Before having Ray, I never knew kids could be so full of energy and let's not get into his strong pair of lungs! Boy, he may just be a toddler and barely three feet tall but could he shout!
My poor husband lost about 20lbs without even trying after our son was born. But then, my husband is blessed with wonderfully cooperative genes which kept him slender at all times no matter what and how much he ate. He actually had to work hard to put on weight. Sigh...some people are just so lucky.
But I digress. Back to my sweet cute li'l Ray. He is growing up so fast that I could hardly believe it. I mean the stretch marks and pregnancy weight are still evident but my son is already running around and spouting words like 'airhplane', 'tiger', 'cat - meow', 'dog dog' and some such words.
It is amazing how time flies.


Sad news means bad news

In recent times, I have had to cover really sad incidents involving accidental deaths and murders.

Much as there is a misconception that journalists enjoyed harassing victims and family members of victims in such sad incidents, I would like to take a stand to say that I hated it.

I hated it with all my heart and soul. There is nothing I hate more than to intrude into a suffering or grieving person's personal space just to get a story.

Unfortunately, I do not have a say in these things. Since I have to earn a living and I have to take orders from my editors for the sake of a paycheck each month, I had no choice but to follow orders.

Though this may not make me an award-winning, great journalist, I still totally live by my own principles and standards. I feel that each grieving person have a right to privacy. They have a right to grief in their homes, out of the limelight and harsh glare of the media. They have a right to refused to entertain the media and slam the doors in their faces.

I have had countless doors slammed in my face and often, I do not take offense at all. (though I had to scramble for excuses to give my editor when I return to the office empty handed.)

Recently, there was a murder case of a little girl. Though I do not know her family, it greatly pained me to go knocking on their doors in an attempt to get a story while they are still grappling with the idea that the girl is gone. Again, it is orders from the editors and as the way it works in the company I worked for, there is no saying 'No' to the bosses.

Sometimes I just hope to God that such things won't happen at all. That little girls are safe from harm even in their own homes, that horrid accidents do not happen, that there are no humans capable of hurting others out there. It may mean less sensational stories for newspapers but hey, I'd prefer less human suffering to an award winning story on the suffering of another human being.

I may be a journalist by chance but it is not my calling in life. It is not something I loved and would die doing. It is just another job to pay the bills. So, I refused to be a vulture. I refused to feed on the suffering of others for a sensational story. It is just plain inhuman.

Note: I am not hitting out at any other journalists or pretending to represent all journalists. I am just stating my own principles and opinions.