Monthly Archives: January 2012

7-Course Meal By Oliver Choi.. and Homemade Cheese Baked Rice

Since I can’t fatten myself up for CNY back home, I am doing it here instead. Oliver has oh-so-kindly hosted a Jamie Oliver themed dinner event at his last Saturday.

It was f’awsome. Period.

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Menu for the night-

Snacking: Olive-oil biscuits, baguette with olive oil and balsamic vineger
Appetizers 1: Tomato Gazpacho
Appetizers 2: Chorizo & Tomato Salad
Mains 1: Lamb Fricassee
Mains 2: Prawn stuffed in Fish with Vermicelli
Dessert 1: Red Wine Sorbet
Dessert 2: Creme Caramel w/ Roasted Nuts.
Dessert 3: Chocolate Bday Cake

These dishes were accompanied with 5 bottle of whites, 2 reds and 1 champagne (maybe a bit more). Most people were full after the Chorizo & Tomato Salad, but the food was so good that we kept on going till the last dessert!

Happy Birthday, Amresh and Xiao Yan 🙂

On a side note, I think my cooking has improved and I’m really happy with that. I was the kind of girl who couldn’t cook Maggi Mee Goreng properly, but I made my first very own Cheese Baked Rice with Pork on Sunday. Without a recipe. So proud of myself. Maybe I still have some characteristics of a housewife after all 🙂

If you are interested in trying out in 5 simple steps, here you go. I just used whatever I have in the kitchen and I don’t measure the ingredients. Just agak-agak (approximate).

Cheese Baked Rice with Pork Recipe ala Yvonne’s random creation
(pic on top)

1) Marinate pork chops with salt, soy sauce, white pepper and black pepper.
2) Cook rice. Add butter to cooked rice for taste and moisture.
3) Mix buttered rice and raw pork chop. Add mixed herbs (goes well with cheese) and cloves.
4) Microwave, 150 deg for 15 mins.
5) Add generous amount of cheese + more mixed herbs + a little bit of salt, 200 deg for 10 mins.

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Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

How many of us do that?

I did something which left me feeling rather uncomfortable today- speaking to random tourists near Big Ben and asking them to fill in a survey form (more on that later). Before leaving home, I was fairly confident, and I thought that 40 forms might be a bit too few.

I came back 40 minutes later, with only 8 forms completed. And the whole experience just made me feel.. different, weird. Not that things went wrong, it just didn’t go as planned. I expected the form to completed in 30 seconds (underestimation on my part), but it takes about 2-3 minutes excluding chatting time. And of course you have to scan though the flock of tourists to determine who will be more receptive, who will probably know English and who is rushing for time etc. You also have to face the occasional (polite) rejections along the way.

This led me to question, how often do I get out of my comfort zone and put myself out there to something different? The truth is, very rarely, because I have not felt this uncomfortable in a long time. I only do things that I am confident with, but the trick to getting the most out of life is to try out something that you are not confident in. And then own it.

This discomfort is good. Now I treat it as a challenge. I will fill in the remaining 32 forms up tomorrow.

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Too Busy To Sort Out Your Life? Outsource It!

Like AJ Jacobs! An interesting read, start only if you have the time.


It began a month ago. I was midway through The World Is Flat, the best-seller by Tom Friedman. I like Friedman, despite his puzzling decision to wear a mustache. His book is all about how outsourcing to India and China is not just for tech support and carmakers but is poised to transform every industry in America, from law to banking to accounting. CEOs are chopping up projects and sending the lower-end tasks to strangers in cubicles ten time zones away. And it’s only going to snowball; America has not yet begun to outsource.

I don’t have a corporation; I don’t even have an up-to-date business card. I’m a writer and editor working from home, usually in my boxer shorts or, if I’m feeling formal, my penguin-themed pajama bottoms. Then again, I think, why should Fortune 500 firms have all the fun? Why can’t I join in on the biggest business trend of the new century? Why can’t I outsource my low-end tasks? Why can’t I outsource my life?

The next day I e-mail Brickwork, one of the companies Friedman mentions in his book. Brickwork–based in Bangalore, India–offers “remote executive assistants,” mostly to financial firms and health-care companies that want data processed. I explain that I’d like to hire someone to help with Esquire-related tasks–doing research, formatting memos, like that. The company’s CEO, Vivek Kulkarni, responds: “It would be a great pleasure to be talking to a person of your stature.” Already I’m liking this. I’ve never had stature before. In America, I barely command respect from a Bennigan’s maître d’, so it’s nice to know that in India I have stature.

A couple of days later, I get an e-mail from my new “remote executive assistant.”

Dear Jacobs,

My name is Honey K. Balani. I would be assisting you in your editorial and personal job. . . . I would try to adapt myself as per your requirements that would lead to desired satisfaction.

I go out to dinner with my friend Misha, who grew up in India, founded a software firm, and subsequently became nauseatingly rich. I tell him about Operation Outsource. “You should call Your Man in India,” he says. Misha explains that this is a company for Indian businessmen who have moved overseas but who still have parents back in New Delhi or Mumbai. YMII is their overseas concierge service–it buys movie tickets and cell phones and other sundries for the abandoned moms.

Perfect. This could kick my outsourcing up to a new level. I can have a nice, clean division of labor: Honey will take care of my business affairs, and YMII can attend to my personal life–pay my bills, make vacation reservations, buy stuff online. Happily, YMII likes the idea, and just like that the support team at Jacobs Inc. has doubled. And so far, I’m not going broke: I’m paying $1,000 for a month of eight-hour days from Honey (Brickwork gave me a half-off deal) and $400 for a month of four-hour days from Your Man in India.

Honey has completed her first project for me: research on the person Esquire has chosen as the Sexiest Woman Alive. (See page 232.) I’ve been assigned to write a profile of this woman, and I really don’t want to have to slog through all the heavy-breathing fan Web sites about her. When I open Honey’s file, I have this reaction: America is fucked. There are charts. There are section headers. There is a well-organized breakdown of her pets, measurements, and favorite foods (e.g., swordfish). If all Bangalorians are like Honey, I pity Americans about to graduate college. They’re up against a hungry, polite, Excel-proficient Indian army. 

I get an introductory e-mail from my personal-life outsourcer. Her name is Asha. Even though the firm’s called Your Man in India, I’ve been assigned another woman. Hmm. I suspect these outsourcers figure I’m a randy men’s-magazine editor who enjoys bossing around the ladies. I e-mail Asha a list of books I want from and a birthday gift I’d like her to buy my wife, Julie–a silicone pot holder. (Romantic, no?) Both go smoothly.

In fact, in the next few days, I outsource a whole mess of online errands to Asha: paying my bills, getting stuff from, finding my son a Tickle Me Elmo. (Actually, the store was out of Tickle Me Elmos, so Asha bought a Chicken Dance Elmo–good decision.) I had her call Cingular to ask about my cell-phone plan. I’m just guessing, but I bet her call was routed from Bangalore to New Jersey and then back to a Cingular employee in Bangalore, which makes me happy for some reason.

Every day Asha attaches an Excel chart listing the status of my many tasks. The system is working–not counting the hitch in the drugstore order: Instead of wax paper, we get wax-strip mustache removers for ladies. My wife is insulted.

It’s the fourth morning of my new, farmed-out life, and when I flip on my computer, my e-mail in-box is already filled with updates from my overseas aides. It’s a strange feeling having people work for you while you sleep. Strange, but great. I’m not wasting time while I drool on my pillow; things are getting done.

As on every morning at 8:30, I get a call from Honey. “Good morning, Jacobs.” Her accent is noticeable but not too thick, Americanized by years of voice training. She’s the single most upbeat person I’ve ever encountered. Whatever soul-deadening chore I give her, she says, “That would indeed be interesting” or “Thank you for bestowing this important task.” I have a feeling that if I asked her to count the number of semicolons in the Senate energy bill, she would be grateful for such a fascinating project.

Every call ends the same way: I thank her, and she replies, “You are always welcome, Jacobs.” I’m starting to like her a lot.

One task for which Honey is thankful is e-mailing my colleagues. I’ve begun to refuse to communicate with them directly. Why should I? Honey can be my buffer from the unpleasant world of office politics. I’ll be aloof and mysterious, like the pope or Mark Burnett. This morning, I ask Honey to pester my boss about an idea I sent him a few days ago: an article on modern gold prospectors.

Mr. Granger,

Jacobs had mailed you about the idea of “gold prospecting.” I am sure you would have received his mail on this. It would be great if you could invest your time and patience on giving thought about his plans. Do revert and let Jacobs know about your suggestions on the same. As you know that your decision would be accepted with utmost respect.

Jacobs is awaiting your response.

Thanking you, Honey Balani


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(The Lack of) Poledancing and Action

I was asked to watch a Youtube video by a good friend today, and after surfing 34276 other videos I stumbled upon my old (4 months old) poledancing videos, you can see it here and here.

I miss it so much! I miss challenging myself with difficult moves and getting badass bruises. For those of you who don’t know, I was banned from using the pole in my gym because “insurance is not covered for personal equipments outside the gym” last December. And I haven’t poled since- I can’t do it in my apartment because it has suspended ceiling and won’t support any weight. My pole is just hanging sadly in my room for now.


However I am very determined to get back on track, so am planning to sign up with some classes again which is due to start in February. Excited much.

I have been wanting to do a lot of things, but never really gotten around to it seriously. So this quote is a reminder to myself:

“Don’t just say it, do it”

Happy Chinese New Year 2012!

Happy Dragon New Year, all! Sadly I have decided not to return to Malaysia this CNY, so while nearly all of my good friends are having the time of their life collecting Ang Paus and eating all the good food back home, I am stuck in London (which is currently freezing, this is what I call winter).

Fret not as I thankfully still have some close buddies here. Oliver invited me to celebrate CNY eve at his huge flat, and he is so hospitable that he shared CNY goodies flown from Msia with us: dried guavas, salted seaweeds, prawn crackers, almond cookies… yum! Also had a lot of chinesy dishes and most importantly, yee sang (with salmon!!) thanks to Shaku.

It is funny because our CNY party consists of 7 Msians (I know Malaysian is already a race but just to prove a point here: 4.5 Chinese, 2.5 Indians) and a Scottish. Caught up with Sue Bee and Geoffrey whom I haven’t seen in ages, met Oliver’s new partner and also hung out with 2 high school friends. I was just telling Amresh on the tube back that we knew each other since Form 1, that was 12 year ago!

All in all, a good night and the closest thing that I could have gotten for CNY over here! 🙂 Special thanks to Oliver and Sue Bee for hosting at your lovely crib.

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Also I am heading back to Malaysia on June 3rd-19th. I am well excited as by then it would be nearly 1.5 years since I have gone home, which is forever.

Can’t wait to see my beloved family and friends, to soak under the sun, to eat hawker’s food, to drive, to have my nice big bedroom, to not cook my own meals etc. Ahhhh bliss ❤

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The First Cut Is The Deepest

Breaking up is tough. The emotional roller coaster that one goes through is just.. unbearable. Feeling random pangs of sadness in the middle of the day, or when I the things he gave me, or seeing some clothes he left behind in my cupboard. Even the alert sounds from Messenger and Skype makes my heart shift. I still wait, waking up early in the morning and staying up at night.

Contradiction at it’s best. Why do I bring this to myself?

First, you wonder if the right decision was made. What if I had read Carnegie’s book earlier- I could have been more understanding or perhaps approached things in a different (read:better) manner. Would that change the dynamics of the relationship, would things have worked out then?

Secondly, if this is it (ie the end), then what did the past 42523 months together meant?  Everything experienced together will be but good memories, but what good are memories if only stubbornness and pride are keeping them as such? Suddenly all the things that used to annoy me didn’t matter anymore, and you wonder what was the fuss about.

Thirdly, when all else fails, you wonder if you will ever be friends with your ex? Totally cutting down the ties sounds harsh, but then again what’s the point of keeping in contact?

I know I need to get a grip, but I just can’t help but succumb into these moments of weakness, sometimes.

Some really helpful quotes from friends which has been helping me through difficult times like this:

  • Once you have made a decision, never look back.
  • If you need to change who you are or make too many compromises in a relationship, then you’ll never be happy anyway.
  • You just have to ride through the wave, it gets better after a while.

I will still believe. Time will tell. Life is too short to be sad. Appreciate what is at hand.

Getting Into An Argument? Think Again..

I have learnt a very important lesson today. I want to share it with you, and hope that you find it as useful as I do. If not now, then in the future.

How many of you have disagreed with another person? If you know you are right and the other wrong, would you point it out? Must you? Is it necessary to argue just so that you can prove that you are right?

I argue a lot, I have come to realise. Yes some of you (you know who you are) might have been stating that fact, but the impact is always bigger when one discovers that though reflection and self-realization.

In conjunction with one of my 2012 “wants”  (read more), I am reading a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. He is simply brilliant.

There is only one way to get the best of an argument- and that is to avoid it.

You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it. And if you win it, you lose it. Why? Suppose you triumph over the other man and shoot his argument full of holes and prove that he is non compos mentis (not a sound mind, in case you’re wondering). Then what? You will feel fine. But you have made him feel inferior. You have hurt his pride. He will resent your triumph.

A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.

If your temper is aroused and you tell em a thing or two, you will have a fine time unloading your feelings. But what about the other person? Will he share your pleasure? Will your belligerent (hostile/aggressive) tone, your hostile attitude make it easy for him to agree with you?

I told you he is brilliant!

Perhaps I feel so strongly because I am guilty of this. And it has cost me my relationship. It’s reassuring though to know that life goes the way you steer it. Yes, I might be argumentative but I want to change. I will definitely not make the same mistake in my next relationship, or in life for that matter.

They say it’s not how nice you can be when things are going right. Everyone can be nice. The test is when things are not going your way. How you react when the going gets tough determines if you are a big person or a little person.

So I have learned today. I want to improve myself, be a better person.

What about you? As my teammates would say, Everyday’s a school day 😉

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Mid 20s Crisis + Without You by Glee

I was doing some research about volunteering work and browsing through the various volunteering websites. They always say its better to travel and do these things when you are younger because you will have less commitments. And then it dawned on me…


My heart sank a little when I reached this epiphany. Am I really nearly a quarter of a century old? There are so many things that I have yet to do, there is so much more than working for the rest of my life. And if I don’t take this chance, I will probably be too old for that.

I am thinking along the lines of traveling for the year or maybe doing some volunteering work. Something which I won’t do when I am 26-28 because that will be the turning point of one’s career, and not when I’m 30 because I will be married by then (hopefully). And then a year off seemed a bit too long and expensive (15k pounds), so perhaps I will stick to 1-3 months (2-3k pounds). I know this puts me off as super spoiled but I believe that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and that the experience will give me a different perception of things.

Let’s see how things go, for things always happen for a reason. I believe 🙂

Heard this amazing song from the latest episode of GLEE.

Without You Lyrics by GLEE

I can’t win, I can’t reign
I will never win this game
Without you, without you
I am lost, I am vain,
I will never be the same
Without you, without you

I won’t run, I won’t fly
I will never make it by
Without you, without you
I can’t rest, I can’t fight
All I need is you and I
Without you
Can’t erase, so I’ll take blame
But I can’t accept that we’re estranged

Without you, without you
I can’t quit now, this can’t be right
I can’t take one more sleepless night
Without you, without you

I won’t soar, I won’t climb
If you’re not here, I’m paralyzed
Without you, without you
I can’t look, I’m so blind
I lost my heart, I lost my mind
Without you


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Something Only House Fans Will Appreciate

Hugh Laurie FTW ❤

Season 8 Ep 9 is coming out on 23rd Jan, can’t wait!

Courtesy from 9GAG.

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