Judging the book by its cover

Perhaps it is my work or that I refuse to grow up but I just love reading children's books! To be exact, I love fantasy works for teenagers or young adults. Sometimes I also go for the illustrated books for younger ones.

This fascination with children's books has got me hooked on books by Diana Wynne Jones and recently, Cornelia Funke. Of course, we do not need to mention the bestselling Harry Potter, Narnia Chronicles and Lord of The Rings.

It was the Silver Chair by C.S.Lewis that first got me hooked to fantasy in my teenage years. Even though I read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien and I liked it, it did not really spur me to pick up the Lord of The Rings. Perhaps it is the thick volume that deterred me but it was much, much later that I finally read the book. Actually, I read it just before the first movie was released.

Now, I am in the midst of Inkspell by Funke. I find her books very fun and adventurous. I first stumbled upon her works when I was browsing through a bookstore for board books for LR. The beautiful cover of Dragon Rider depicting a blue dragon caught my attention. It looked interesting enough and the storyline I gathered from the back cover convinced me into purchasing it. I absolutely loved the book and went back looking for more of her books.

That is how I found Inkheart and now the sequel Inkspell. These two books play on our imaginations of how it would be like if characters from our books actually step out of the book or that the readers actually get to step into the book! Though Inkspell is a big draggy at certain parts, I still like far. I have been taking my time reading this book that I can't even remember when I started reading it!

Sigh, if only I could get a whole free day to myself with no distractions, I would probably finish that book and start another one (of another genre) waiting to be opened.



It looks like I have neglected my blog for more than a week now... It is really amazing how time flies and how 24 hours is never enough!
I have been contemplating quitting my job and becoming a SAHM for quite a while now. Actually, it was the original plan for me to quit my job after delivering LR but somehow we have to shelve the idea, what with increasing costs of living and stacks of bills to settle.
Even as we postpone the plan of having a second child, I am now busily looking for avenues where I can be a work at home mom. Boy, it was not easy to sift through the amount of overload I get on the net.
In fact, even now, I am still sifting through all the get-rich-quick schemes which will not amount to anything but heartache and the 'work at home and earn thousands' scheme which are mostly not true. The few bona fide internet income I found to be reliable does not pay that much and I would need at least $200 weekly to be able to quit my job and not have to worry about tonnes of unsettled bills.
All this is while I try to complete my mss which is still stuck at where I left it months ago. Seriously, I need to get things going but it is giving me a massive road block at every turn.
Back to the work at home option, I just wish there is a watchdog somewhere that monitor all those so-called organisations offering work at home solutions and boasting of paying out thousands to weed out the genuine ones from the ones out to cheat unsuspecting people like me.
I am sure there must be some, just that I have not found them.
So, now excuse me while I continue my search for options to enable me to spend more time with LR instead of having to send him off to the babysitter's every day.


Thursday Thirteen #9

13 things about having a BABY

As a relatively new mom... (okay so, LR is now turning two soon but it still felt like only yesterday that I was waddling around with a huge belly)...this is what I found out in the last year and more after the joyous arrival of LR:

1) A good night's sleep is but a distant memory. Though LR stopped waking up for night feedings since he was about seven or eight months old, he is a very light sleeper and jolts awake at the slightest sound. So thanks to noisy neighbors and howling dogs, I never did get a really good night's undisturbed sleep.

2) Despite their tiny size, trust me, babies have strong lungs. They scream and cry over the tiniest thing from wet diapers to hunger to the plain fun of making bumbling confused adults even more confused and frazzled.

3) Zero social life. Having a screaming infant in your arms most of your time at home (after work) is definitely not conducive to gossiping on the phone with your girlfriends and let's not even talk about going out for drinks and dinner with friends. Maybe it's just me but having to leave LR with the babysitter most of the day when I am at work, I would feel guilty if I leave him with the babysitter's just so I could go out to meet with my friends.

4) You have morphed into one of those irritating 'proud parents' who would gush non-stop about their precious little baby to anyone who has the misfortune to ask 'so, how is the baby?'.

5) Smooth skin and a sexy bikini figure is but an airbrush away (or alternatively, a lot of hard work involving exercise, diet and possibly plastic surgery) as pregnancy means stretch marks and unwanted weight gain which is not easy to get rid of.

6) No more 'travelling light' when going anywhere as I have learned the hard way when LR decides to mess up his shirt by spitting out his food, then proceeded to smear it everywhere, then poop and then, make a huge fuss. A trip to the mall with him means having to lug a backpack along (complete with spare diapers, tons of wet tissues, a few change of clothing, insect repellent, toiletries, toys, etc) and a stroller for when he refused to walk. LR needs a big luggage to himself whenever we go for a short two to three days' holiday elsewhere.

7) Baby spit and poop is no longer gross. Perhaps it's all those months of going around with baby spit on my clothes or the early months of having to change LR every hour because he was breastfed and has very loose stools. I am now immune to whatever gross stuff that comes out of a baby.

8) Worships the person who created wet wipes. Seriously, these are most probably the best thing ever created since sliced bread. Anyone with a drooling, spitting, pooping baby would understand the usefulness of wet wipes.

9) Everything revolves around the baby. As in, all plans from dinner parties to meetings to work obligations revolves around the baby's schedule (e.g. nap time, meal time, play time, etc).

10) Third party in our marriage. We are no longer two but three so our holidays are no longer like our honeymoon but are more like family vacations complete with screaming kid and frantic moments finding fun stuffs to distract the kid.

11) Realization that you are responsible for caring, nurturing and shaping the future of the tiny little person you brought into this world. Suddenly, you are no longer carefree with no responsibilities, everything you do have direct implications and impact on your child.

12) Having to cut down on swear words and bad habits so that baby do not pick it up. I have now started using 'shiish' or 'shooosh' or 'fishes' or 'dalmations' for a variety of safer, milder swear words ever since LR started repeating every word we say.

13) Inundated with unwanted nosy advises. Every nosy relative (especially grandparents) would give you a gadzillion of unwanted advises on how to raise the kid. My response: thanks but he's my son so I will raise him the way I think fit and not your way.

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Stuck in a rut due to a strike

It has been a few weeks since I last touch my work-in-progress, a romance novel in the making. This is due to a strike my hero and heroine has decided to stage in order to get their lives back.
Seems like they refused to follow the paths I have charted for them and decided to lead their lives their way. Hummpphh! The nerve!

It is not as if I do not listen to them. I do. I seriously, honestly do listen to their gadzillion grouses and complaints. I also provide the best of working conditions anyone could ever dream of. I mean, hello, who wouldn't want to meet an absolutely dashing handsome stranger (or gorgeous woman), fall in love and to find that there is a possibility of a happily ever after together?

But, no. Not these two. They are not satisfied about being introduced to each other (by me, no less!) but insist on doing things their way. What next? Demand for a higher salary, perks and a union? Honestly, some characters are just way too pampered. It is not as if I practically forced them to fall in love. Or that I had purposely placed some obstacles for them to overcome before they could actually be together. They fell in love in their own accord, much as the hero likes to deny it (that's Mr Macho for you) and the obstacles, well, it is their own making!

They have refused to go the way I want them to unless I meet their demands. I will not give in to them. No way. It would create a precedent and other characters may decide to follow suit.

Yep, I am not going to be a great pushover this time.

They will definitely follow the storyline I have charted and no, it is absolutely not negotiable. I mean, I am the writer, not them. They should be listening to me. Sheesshhh.

This just goes to prove how some characters can get grandiose ideas into their heads if we give them too much freedom. I must be more careful next time.

Now, I better go and think of a way to get across this rut. There must be a way....


About Blogrush

I joined Blogrush a few weeks ago with just a vague idea of what it actually was for. Supposedly, the widget will flash recently updated blogs of similar topics with my blog which I could visit while my blog will be similarly flashed elsewhere. Or something like that.

Trust me when I wrote in my previous blog (titled 'I have an admission to make..') that despite using the internet and computers on a daily basis for my work, I am practically clueless when it comes to the nitty gritty details of blogging and URLs and all the alien sounding initials. So it is the same when I sign up for things like Blogrush, Technorati and PayPerPost.

Maybe it's because I am too lazy to read through all the explanations and whatnots - not to mention short of time since I am mostly doing this at work... but I am beginning to wonder what's the point?

It is not as if I need to generate an income from my blog (though it would be an added bonus if I do get any) . So, does Blogrush actually drive traffic to my blog? Your guess is as good as mine. Sure I can check the figures with Blogrush but figures are just that, numbers and stats. Does it really reflect the actual readers instead of those flitting past on their way to find something interesting?

Oh well, if you really want to try it out, you can click here.

Alternatively, you can just Google blogrush and you will find it.

Finding the perfect recipe

Okay, so the title is extremely misleading. There is no such thing as a perfect recipe. There are tons of different recipes for main dishes, starters, salads, soups and desserts but no ONE perfect recipe for a complete wholesome meal.

Unless of course we are talking about baby food here.

LR is a really finicky food critic who expresses his dissatisfaction with any food presented to him with a simple sound, ***gag*** bleaaggghhh!. Then he would throw it all up. So, to satisfy his extremely choosy palate, I try to prepare meals which would not elicit the gagging and vomiting response.

Cooking for LR is actually much simpler than it sounded. LR has a thing about textures especially that of any kinds of meat (because it is considered too stringy for him no matter how tender it is to us adults) but he loves vegetables.

Before I go on, let me explain that we are not vegetarians but we do eat a lot of fresh vegies and fruits on a daily basis. So, the moment LR turned six months old, the first few things I introduced to him are vegies and fruits. Perhaps it is early exposure to these vitamin rich, high fibre foods but till now, LR will immediately sit and wait at the dining table the moment he sees me cutting up cooked vegies for him.

He also loves soft and easy to swallow food such as porridge, congee and boiled potatoes. And each meal must be accompanied by a clear broth of any choice or he will certainly make his demand very clear.

So, I came up with a combination of all that he loved and used to make it on days when I do not feel like preparing three to four different dishes although all of us eat the same food. Yep, mummy and daddy sometimes eat baby food too just because mummy do not want to cook separate meals for two adults and a toddler.

But I digress. Here is the recipe I came up with for the little gourmet at home.

Chicken and vegetable rice congee

1 cup washed rice
3 cups water
Minced chicken
2 carrots, chopped
Broccoli, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
2 small potatoes, skinned and finely chopped
Some garlic, diced

First, season the minced chicken with some salt and pepper so that it would not be too bland. Then, place all of the ingredients (except the broccoli ) into a slow cooker or rice cooker and press start. Let it cook. Check on it occasionally (if using rice cooker) and if it appeared too dry (the amount of water needed depended on the cooker you use), add hot water but if it appeared okay, then let it be. It should be ready within an hour. Just before you serve, microwave the broccoli till tender and sprinkle it on top. Add a few drops of soya sauce for taste.
You can also use the 'cook congee' function if you prefer to use the microwave to cook this dish.
That’s all. Simple, easy and healthy. For the health conscious, just replace white rice with brown rice and replace chicken with fish. If using brown rice, more water is needed.

I usually add a lot of water because I use brown rice and LR prefers it watery and smooth. The measurements I mentioned are just estimates as I often cook by instinct and rarely measured the stuff I cook. So, feel free to experiment with the portions until you get the perfect combination.


TT # 8

The ways to refrain from causing physical harm on another person

In my line of work and also in my personal life, I have come across really annoying people whom I would like nothing better than to bash his/her face into a bloody pulp but instead, I am forced to smile and be polite to them. In order to do that (the smile and be polite part, not the bashing part), I do these:

1) Take a deep breath

2) Tuck both hands deep into my pockets (if any) to make it harder for me to raise my hands, or else link it behind me

3) Take two to three steps away from the offending person

4) Count to ten to let the anger cool

5) Think of the horrible conditions in jail and how I do not want to end up there because of the offending person in front of me

6) Solve a complex mathematical problem in my head (since I am lousy in Maths, this could take me hours and will have me forgetting how offending the person is within seconds)

7) Think of all those starving, poverty stricken people in the world (to put me in a 'softer' but sad mood)

8) Think up 100 ways to torture the offending person

9) Actually picture the 100 ways of torturing the offending person (which usually elicits a genuine smile, though it is far from a pleasant smile)

10)Imagine the offending person in a ridiculous outfit such as a macho man in a pink polka dot frilly dress (this often had me trying to suppress my laughter)

11) Update and double-check my to-do list in my head including house chores and work schedules

12) Always have a nice manicure (so that I will be less tempted to use my hands and break a nail)

13)If all else fail, abruptly walk away on the pretext of answering my cell phone.

So far, I have not inflicted harm on anybody...yet. So, these steps obviously works for me!

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I can't stand my in-laws!

There, that's so much better.
Well, not really. Hubby knows about it but I don't expect him to understand or do anything about it because they are his parents after all.
Perhaps it is the way I was raised. Or the amount of freedom I was given in my childhood. Or that my dad is more of a strict and stern disciplinarian than a nagger while my mom is more or less a free spirit who allowed me immeasurable freedom. Even the years I spent with my grandmother (whom I truly loathed but that is another story) seemed like paradise compared to the agony of having to stay with my in-laws just several years ago before we finally moved into our own place after much begging on my side. (and several cold wars between yours truly and the in-laws).
Over here in Asia, it is the norm for children to continue staying with their parents even after they are married and over here filial piety means staying with your parents until they depart this world. Since, hubby is an only child, it was assumed that we would continue living with his parents till the end of days.
Oh, it was indeed the end of days. FOR ME! I was stifled, suffocated and literally tied. I could not step out the door without having to explain the whys and wherefores. Sure, I have often been told to be a good and obedient daughter-in-law but heck, if I was never an obedient daughter from the start, how could anyone expect me, of all people, to be obedient to a pair of strangers who became relatives through marriage??
My father-in-law nags. A lot. He is worse than a fly buzzing incessantly in your ear. Much, much worse. If ever there is a mission to get a spy to talk, he will be the perfect candidate to grill the spy as I am certain the spy will definitely buckle under all that non-stop droning of his nagging.
So imagine the torture. I think I would have enjoyed tearing out all my hair, rubbing salt in the tender scalp and scalding myself with hot boiling water more. So, in light of all his nagging and negativeness (oh, he also specialises in being Mr Wet Blanket of the World as in everything will eventually turn out wrong or bad and the glass is always empty, not half empty), my seemingly normal mother-in-law seemed, well, normal.
The two of them don’t get along. If not for some archaic notion that divorce is taboo, they would probably be staying on different sides of the globe by now. But too bad, that is not the case. They would quarrel over the littlest thing and it amazes me how they managed to stay together, sleep on the same bed, for so many years!
Anyway, the mother-in-law would treat me as a confidante and complain about her good-for-nothing husband and how he never contributed anything to the household. I listened and felt like shaking her and telling her to just get a divorce but wisely I kept quiet. I thought she liked me. I even sorta liked her (after all, we sorta share the same ‘enemy‘) and tolerated her complaints about her husband and even her gossips about her relatives. Until I found out she had been complaining about me behind my back to all and sundry. Why, that insidious, obsessive compulsive witch! Hubby is the one who tipped me off. When I asked him why she couldn’t just tell me face to face instead of complaining to the whole wide world, he said she told him that she didn’t want to ‘spoil’ her relationship with me.
Fine, I tried to forgive her. The last straw was after LR was born and she all but told my other grandma (the one I simply adore and not the one I loath) to get lost. We have already moved out by then and I have arranged for my grandma to stay with us for the first two months after LR was born to help us take care of a newborn. The witch, no doubt, became green with envy. She felt that since LR carries my husband’s family name, LR is her grandchild while my grandma, who is by right the great grandmother, is considered an 'outsider'. She actually went up to my grandma and told her to get lost and stop ‘keeping’ LR to herself. My grandma was hurt and initially she did not tell me. She packed and gave some excuse that she wanted to go home. It was only later that she told me (after much badgering from me) the whole sordid truth.
My mother-in-law is no longer in her youth. She is nearing 70 for goodness sake! And my grandma is nearing 90 so couldn’t she show at least some courtesy to my grandma? What she did was unforgivable. It made me realized that she is the type of person who will not stop at anything to get her way and that includes bullying her son and back-stabbing and hurting everyone around her.
Yep, I can’t stand both my in-laws and having to call them ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ is the worst thing I was forced to do in my life. Now, I avoid them like the plague and prayed that we do not ever have to stay with them again. I would rather drink rat poison, scrape my eyeballs out with a blunt fork and slowly pull my fingernails out one by one.


Morphing into a pack rat

I have so many handbags and purses stashed in a storage box stuffed into an obscure corner somewhere that I no longer remember the exact number of bags inside. My bookcase is stuffed full of books, toys, bookmarks, odds and ends and some weird looking thingy that if I move anything, everything will probably come crashing down. Our spare room is a complete mess with storage boxes full of news clippings, old clothes, toys, things that ‘I may need someday’ and knick knacks I picked up while on our travels.
I have long discarded my pack rat syndrome after having to move to so many places in my younger days but alas, it is now back with a vengeance! I have been in denial of this fact for quite awhile but now I have to admit that I am a pack rat.
No, not just any pack rat. A real pack rat queen! Rummaging through the mess in our spare room made me realized how much junk I have gathered in the last two years. It is amazing how I could transform back into a pack rat within the space of only two years.
I mean, before that, I practically live out of my luggage and my boxes of books. As in, I could move anywhere by just packing my luggage and my books but now, the idea of moving boggles my mind.
How in the world did I morph into a pack rat without realizing it? Shiissshhh…and there I was, acting high and mighty, looking down my nose at my in-law’s cluttered apartment as both his parents tended to ‘keep’ things for ‘just in case’.
Still, I believe I am leagues behind them, yet, as they have a 30-year-old pot inside one of their kitchen cabinets and all my stuffs are below two years old.
You see, we will not be moving from the current place anytime in the near future. We bought this place and unless we suddenly strike it rich and could afford a bigger place, we are probably here to stay for years and years. The spare room brimming with junk is not a very good thing. In fact, it is all wrong.
Okay, so the luggage full of maternity clothes is not that wrong, after all LR will not be an only child. So, I may really need it in future. And the luggage full of pre-baby clothes (my skinny small size clothes from ‘back then when I do not have stretch marks and loose skin’), well, I am sure I can fit into some of them by now after losing most of the baby weight . It is just that I do not have the time to sort through it all and get rid of the moth eaten ones and the mid-riff baring ones. (with beautiful silvery, almost glowing in the dark, stretch marks on my tummy, I think it is not a good idea to bare it for all to see now…).
As for the news clippings, well, someone once told me that I should keep my published articles for reference in future. Since I am unsure whether that meant all of my articles or just a few really good ones, I kept all of it. Every single one of it. Hundreds of it (or is it thousands?), I dare not even go through the stacks of clippings to count, much less sort through it all to find the 'really good ones'.
The handbags and purses...well, I love accessories and well, I may just need them someday...err...I think... The toys are mostly Ty Beanie Babies with their tags intact. Hey, they are collectors items and I will not get rid of it. Even LR does not get to touch the ones that I really like.
Oh heck, I am no where near clearing out all that junk with all my excuses, am I? Well, one thing at a time. I will first throw out hubby's unwanted stuff...