Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back At 2012

As we celebrate the last few days of 2012, and prepare to welcome 2013, most of us would be looking back and have a thousand and one things in our heads. Some of us would start to prepare new year resolutions, while others would be reflecting back on the past year and mulling over what has occurred. And like so many others out there, I too would be reflecting on the past year, and making plans for the new year.

The year 2012 has been one roller coaster ride for me. Never have I learnt so much about myself in all other years combined. The first half of the year especially, had marked something new for me as I was given the chance to embark on more responsibilities when it came to my work, which I enjoyed and learnt from a lot. The company I was employed in (ex-company now) was expanding, and we were making a mark in the industry by winning a couple of awards this year too, something which has been beyond our reach for some time, but now possible.

The second half the year brought upon me some very painful life lessons, one which I can never erase, but have come to accept that this is just part of life as we know it. My stress and anxiety levels were on the high, and there were days I had experience panic and anxiety attacks. I was very sad, angry, and depressed. I sunk into the blame game, and was blaming myself for what had occurred, which resulted in me not being able to see myself in better light. As a result, I isolated myself from those around me. I went through the stages of anger, denial, depression and acceptance, all within a few months.

My mental and emotional well being was truly tested at that time, and never had I felt so helpless and vulnerable. I felt lost, dejected, rejected, and simply felt not good enough. I had a huge cloud of doubt over my head everyday, doubting my actions, my decisions, even my existence. It reached a point I simply needed some time off, and decided that it was for the best.

Taking the month of December off, was truly a blessing in disguise for me. I managed to spend some good quality family time with my sister in Sabah, spend some time with my parents, and some much needed quality time for myself. I caught up on my reading, something which I had stopped for a long time, and have vowed to read more often (including genres like Fifty Shades, don't judge me). I spent some quiet time at home catching up on my TV series as well, and simply enjoying the simple things in life, which can put a smile to my face every day :)

I felt re-energized like never before. My mind has more clarity now, and I am able to really let things go, and not feel like I am letting a part of myself wilt away by letting go. Probably the crucial point was when I started to pick myself up, and I reached out to get help. I had reached out to a very very close girl friend of mine, seeking help, and she extended her loving and caring arms to me. She rescheduled her meetings, dropped whatever she was doing, just to spend a couple of hours to talk to me. And for that, I am truly grateful for her immense love for me. Thank you Eleen Wong, for being such a wonderful friend and big sister to me. Our friendship is truly a blessing God has given me, and I will treasure it always.

I have realized that I have been in some form of depression (not clinical depression) for a few years, I just didn't realize it until now . I must have made my hubby so worried as well, for he must have felt so helpless to see me like this. Thank you my love, for being my pillar of strength and support all the years. For without you, I would probably be a lost puppy that I was before I met you.

Today, I am able to stand tall, and say to myself, that I am worth all that is good in this world. Even though we may not always get what we want, what we have is more important that what we want, and for that we should always be grateful, for we are blessed with abundance already.

Here's to welcoming 2013, and looking forward to starting the new year afresh. God bless everyone :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Serai @ Paradigm Mall

This is Serai's branch here at Paradigm Mall. I've heard some good reviews about this restaurant, and decided to give it a go. Located at the boulevard area, just above Fa Ying (the modern Thai restaurant), Serai might be easy to miss if it weren't for the signages they had put up to guide patrons to the restaurant.

Serai napkin.
Once inside, I was greeted and shown to my seat next to the glass-to-ceiling windows. I had a good view of the people walking about downstairs, gives me a chance to watch the world go by. A quick scan at the menu, and I discovered that the prices at Serai was a wee bit on the high side for local cuisines i.e RM 16++ for their Nasi Lemak.

The Serai Platter - RM 25++
I decided to try their Serai Platter, which was served with white fragrant rice, ayam goreng berempah (deep fried spiced chicken), oxtail assam pedas, deep friend honey squid and some acar. I actually enjoy this dish a lot, the rice was fragrant, and I absolutely love the squid with its tangy honey. The chicken was a tad dry, and the oxtail was a little too sweet for my liking. Forgive me, but my taste buds for oxtail assam pedas has been spoilt by Hyatt Kota Kinabalu, which I still think serves the most awesome oxtail assam pedas (my opinion anyway).

While eating, I couldn't help but overhear the table next to me and their dispute. One of the patrons had discovered a strand of hair in her bowl and quickly informed the waiter/waitress about it. Seems there were some hesitance at first, and the patron and family members were not pleased with how the service crew handled their complaint. Some of the more senior patrons kept complaining and comparing service, saying something along the line of "good service means you give me a discount immediately and don't question."

I was told the pavlova is good too, but I was too stuffed to try their desserts. Perhaps another time...

Miraku Japanese Restaurant @ Paradigm Mall

On Christmas Day, I made plans with my mum ad brought her to the neighbourhood mall for some mother-daughter time :) Since she likes Japanese food and doesn't get the chance to have them much (because my dad is not a fan of Japanese food at all, he thinks it's stupid food), I treated her to a nice lunch at Miraku Japanese Restaurant.


Miraku is located on the boulevard area of Paradigm Mall. If you know where Starbucks is in Paradigm Mall, just walk out to the boulevard area where the office blocks are. Miraku is located next to Chilli's, and opposite Seoul Garden.

Miraku lunch menu.
The setting of the restaurant was simple and cosy, quite typical use of birch wood all over the place. Here we have their lunch menu, which consist of the bento sets for customers to choose from. They also have their Special Menu and Grand Menu, with a variety of options available. Their pricing is competitive to places like Rakuzen and Hanazen. My mum and I decided to share their Miraku Bento set, a Spider Roll (soft shell crab roll), and a serving of Hotate Mayo (grilled scallops with Japanese mayonnaise).

Some appetizers to start.

Spider Roll - RM 23
Here's the Spider Roll. The portions were quite generous, and because of the width, it was kinda hard to pick them up using the chopsticks without the rice slowly breaking apart. Or my chopsticks holding skills is just bad la. Love the crunchy sweetness of the crabs.

Hotate Mayo (grilled scallops in Japanese mayonnaise) - RM 24
The scallops were nice and juice, 3 on each side of the shell. A little salty base because of the mayonnaise, something my mum felt was a bit overpowering.

The Miraku bento set - RM 36
The Miraku set looks so lovely and complete. It comes with sashimi, a grilled mackerel, an assortment of tempura, and the usual combination of rice, chawan mushi, miso soup and fruits. We ate and talked and had a fun girl day out, just mother and daughter :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Watercress Soup

We have a slow cooker at home, and it's under used really. So having taken the month off to chillax on my own, I decided to utilize the slow cooker and make some soup. Watercress soup is one of the easiet to make, and the simplicity in the flavour makes it one of my favourite soup.

Hot soup for the soul.
Ingredients:
About 700 grams of watercress (for 2 pax).
Some pork bones (get those with some flesh to chew on, in Cantonese it's called "bou tong guat"). Or you could opt for an old chicken.
10 red dates
1 to 2 pcs chicken or duck gizzard (optional)
Water
Salt to taste

First, blanch the watercress in hot water for a couple of minutes. Blanching it would remove the bitterness, if you skip this step, your soup is going to have a bitter taste, and you don't want that. Next, blanch the pork bones to get rid of the musky smell.

Because I'm using a slow cooker, it is wise to pour in boiling water into the pot, instead of room temperature water. Otherwise, the slow cooker is going to take forever to boil. Fill the slow cooker pot with water until it reaches half, then add all the other ingredients inside the pot. Switch to high for at least 20-30 minutes, this is part of the soup making process to ensure all the flavours come out. After that, you can switch the setting to Auto, and let the slow cooker run its course. You will have a lovely soup by evening, good for those who are working during the day and looking forward to have a nice warm soup in the evening. In my case, I left the slow cooker on Auto for about 4 hours, switched it off (took the pork out), and switched it back on High later in the evening when we wanted to drink the soup (adding salt to taste, and adding the pork back in). I didn't want the pork to constantly be boiling, it would make the meat tough.

We're also considering getting a Smart Cooker from Buffalo. The upside of this product is, you can set the timer to boil the soup, and after it's done, it will keep the soup warm. Unlike the slow cooker which is constantly boiling (even at Auto, the temperature is on high and low), and if you accidentally left the switch on High, you risk the soup evaporating and the slow cooker boiling on empty, which can be a hazard. The Smart Cooker stops boiling and keeps the soup warm, so you don't have to worry about your soup evaporating or safety hazards. At almost RM 900, it's pretty pricey, hmmm~

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snippets of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Hubby and I took off on a one week holiday to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. We crashed at at my sister and hubby's house in town, spending quality family time, stuffing our faces with awesome seafood and local flavours, and just chillaxing... I'll let the pictures tell their story :)

Taken from Shangri-la Rasa Ria resort lobby. I fell in love immediately.

This is the life...!

Sun set at 5.45pm.

Huge oysters! Chose to steam cos if eaten raw, very jelak due to the sheer size.

Spot the Orang Utan. Taken at Nature Reserve, Shangri-la Rara Ria Resort.

Postcard view.

Kozan Teppanyaki at Shangri-la Rara Ria Resort.

This is my current wallpaper on the iPad.

Noodles tossed in pork lard. Damn yums!

Crabs!

This is one unique fish, the Mamu fish, Super smooth flesh!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ja-neh

December 6th, marked my last day at one of Malaysia's boutique digital agency - Integricity. I clocked out for the last time at around 1pm, a decision I made after much consideration. It wasn't an easy decision, in fact, it was probably one of the hardest things to do. But it was something that had to be done, at least for this moment.

The second half of 2012 has proved to be my most mentally and emotional challenging period. The result was a very emotional and mentally spent girl, whose mind and emotions were put to a test yet again. And this time, she needed a lot longer to recover. And as a result, had to push away certain things in order to find some clarity within herself.

Too many emotions running high, too many things have occurred, I had no clarity, no clear path to see. I became so disturb, on the verge of a mental breakdown. Any further, I would be spiraling into deep depression, and the darkness would consume me whole. I became a reclusive, choosing to stay away from everyone and everything. I didn't know what else to do...

My heart went out to my hubby, who was probably at a lost of how to help me. I was probably drifting away as he kept a close eye on me, and probably at one point, he felt helpless. It became clear to me that I had to do something, I had to get help, before things got irreversible.

Help came in the most unusual of form. It was actually words from another person who was not from this country, who actually helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. He didn't know me, but I knew who he was, and I borrowed his strength, his words, to lift myself up. Very slowly, I started to pick myself up. The pain was still unbearable, but somehow, I had started to accept.

Anger, denial, depression, and finally, acceptance. Going through the first three was the most painful, as it brought out the worst in me. I hated myself, I wanted to blame someone, so I blamed myself. But after seeking help, talking to the right people, listening to the right things, I began to take the first step, to forgive myself, and others. I began to realize, that we may not be able to choose our consequences, but we can choose how we respond to them. Bad things happen, it's how we deal with it that matters more.

My head was in a constant spin and blur capacity. Most of the time I would lose focus for many hours. I needed time, I needed the space. I needed clarity. My action, or rather, inaction... Had caused some folks to be very very worried of my well being. And so, I decided, to make my exit, and take the rest of the month of, to recuperate my thoughts.

My bosses and colleagues were in shocked, and probably helpless to see an employee and friend, in this state of mind. I probably made them feel very disappointed and sad, to watch me like this, but I forbid them to be on this journey with me. This is my battle, something I have to go through on my own.

I'm sorry if I'm coming across as selfish, for at this very critical time, the company is going through a corporate rebranding exercise, and the commitment from everyone at this point was truly vital. But I couldn't commit, not right now, not when my mind is at a state of constant interference.

Thank you for the seven years of memories. Thank you for being my friends, and for allowing me to be your friend. No matter what name change you guys go through, Integricity will always have a place in my heart. This is not goodbye, it is just ja-neh, for our paths will cross again in the near future. I am truly sorry for not being able to be on this journey with you guys right now, I really need to do this right now.

Ja-neh: Japanese for see you later

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shirasu

Peekaboo!

Image from msy1515's Instagram

Monday, December 3, 2012

Musang King


The epitome of desserts. Nothing beats the aroma, the texture, the taste. The Golden Fruit to rule them all!!! :D You ain't a full Malaysian until you have ingested one of these babies.