Monday, April 30, 2012

Have You Forgotten To Have Fun Recently?

To most people, I am more of a serious person than a fun person. I spend more time cleaning the house, doing work, running errands than having fun. To most people, these are hardly fun activities. 

       These days, I hardly have weekends away from the computer doing work. I think I have genuinely forgotten how to have fun? And that is pretty contradictory to my advice in my blog post below on stressing less? 


       I am having more fun than ever in my life doing the most mundane (to most people anyway) things. 

       When I clean the house, I see it as exercise for the day and working off the unwanted calories. I see it as beneficial for my health and well being. 

       When I do work, I do it with passion and excitement. I work long hours but I love the thrill of satisfaction. 

       When I run errands, I do that in between meeting friends I have not met up with for a long time. Or I choose to run errands together with my husband. So I get to hang out with him as I am checking off my list of errands. 

       What I am trying to get at is: make your own definitions on life. Have your own rules. Don't need to always listen in entirety to other people's "noise" and what they think is right or wrong, good or bad, fun or not fun.
       You may choose to listen but tweak it in accordance with your own rules. If you work on pleasing everyone, you will not please anyone. So just please yourself for now.

       You will then start having fun. Doing even what most people deem as mundane affairs. 

       Play by your own rules, today. 


How To Have A Positive Attitude Everyday

I am in Beijing now with husband for work. It is starting to get warmer in Beijing and I notice that people are more outgoing more smiley and more colourful in their dressing. 

        There is definitely more positive glow on everyone's faces as we move into better weather period. Everyone just seems to have a more positive attitude generally. It must be the better weather and the anticipation of more outdoor activities like picnics and hikes, which have brought on general positivity and beautiful colours. Anticipation of better days gives positive glow. 

        Which got me thinking. How does a person always bear anticipation of better days no matter how sucky life can be at times? 

This is a list I have created especially for you: 

1.     Start each day with a positive smile. No matter what happens. If you start each day with a positive attitude, you will anticipate a better day ahead. You will thus work on creating a better day for yourself. 

2.     End each day with a positive smile. No matter what happens. If you end each day with a positive attitude, you will anticipate a better day tomorrow. You will thus psyche yourself up to creating a better day for yourself tomorrow. 

3.     Always try to finish off the most important things you have to do for the day (keep this at a list of 7) and save the remaining ones for the next day. You can never ever finish everything in a day so why stress over it. 

4.     If you really must do more than 7 important things a day, don't try to finish them all in one go. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, have a nice cup of tea. Sooth your nerves before you do a task. 

5.     Make a long-term life plan for your personal development and growth as a human being. Give yourself 5 goals for now. Don't be too hard on yourself for a start. For example, if you want to become a better guitar player, work on it. Don't just talk about it and keep it as a project on the shelf. Practise on your guitar for an hour everyday. You will get better. If you want to do charity work, work on it. Go look for a charity whose mission you share a belief in. And start doing volunteer work one day every other week. 
       If you smile more, stress less and have a life plan to work towards, I think you are off to a good start in having a positive glow everyday. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Self-Control and Self-Consciousness

If you've been on dialysis for as long as I have, pretty soon, you'll start to get sick of the routine and start to get some sort of a death wish.

      I'm not saying all dialysis patients have a death wish but I certainly did. I started drinking water, tea, coffee, juice, soups whenever I wanted too, without care of how much fluid I was ingesting.
      After years of tight fluid control, suddenly, I began thinking in a "Damned if I do and damned if I don't" kind of way. In other words, I started getting sick of watching normal people chug down ice-cold drinks and the like and started feeling this way : "Why can't I do it too?!".

      Of course, as a dialysis patient, the cardinal rule is : watch your fluid intake, keep it down to less than 500ml if you can! But after doing this for so long, I guess I began to rebel. I started thinking : "Must I go through life thirsty and longing to drink more?".

      Bad idea! Pretty soon, my pulse started racing and my blood pressure started dropping towards the 3rd hour of dialysis every time. And I mean every time! It got so bad that my blood pressure would even drop to 60/20ish! Now, that's bad! I mean,

      I was literally courting death. I felt bad too, when this happened. At these times, I was extracting 3 to 4kgs per treatment. Sometimes, I didn't even manage to extract all that I should because I felt so unwell.

      My friends, the nurses, were justifiably worried about me. They warned me that if I continued this way, my fistula (the part of my arm that enables dialysis) could stop working altogether or my heart could eventually fail. I could even die but what happens if I don't die but keep dying. I would suffer an agonizingly slow death.

       If my fistula failed, I might have to go on to CAPD and that's really bad news. I've heard that patients on CAPD can never shower again but have to clean themselves with a damp cloth to avoid getting the stomach area wet (to avoid serious infections) and I can't even stomach that (pun intended).

       CAPD means having a surgical insert in your stomach lining. You then have to do some kind of fluid exchange for around 30 minutes, 4 times a day everyday! To me, this is worse than being on hemodialysis (what I'm currently on, which means : you drop into a dialysis center 3 times week for a 4 hour treatment through the fistula in your arm).

       Obviously, I was in a very bad and risky place! I realized that I have to go back to being disciplined with the  way I was ingesting fluid aka. drinking. I have a digital weighing scale at home that I constantly use to check on my current weight.

       In this way, I keep an eye on my weight so I don't go beyond 3kgs. If I was really thirsty but was approaching the danger zone, I would just suck on an ice cube, but I can't do this too often either because each ice cube was 30mls of water, so I only do this if I'm really thirsty.

       So far so good. I've been weighing in at less than 3kgs for around 2 weeks now. I've resolved to be disciplined and vigilant about my fluid intake for the rest of my life. I have no choice as I'd rather die than go on CAPD. Hemodialysis is way better. At least I still have some measure of freedom with it!

        So, this is my 'new' resolve! I did have some iced-tea earlier today but I immediately weighed myself and I'm approaching the 2kg mark, so I'll have to watch it more carefully today. Don't want to go beyond 3kgs. So, I'll keep weighing myself and trying, keep trying to keep my weight gain to below 3kgs......

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Super Excited With My New Business Venture!

I'm always cross-stitching something or other. And I have a few finished unframed pieces in my collection. Today, I decided to photograph them and post them online for sale! This is my new business venture!

Check it out here! 

I hope you will like my work and order something! I will be posting new pieces as I complete them!

Hope to see you there!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Bali Escapade

         Hunting for local food has always been an important activity during my travels. I simply refuse to dwell on food calories when I'm away.

         My eating and sleeping schedules would go haywire. But luckily, the recent trip to Bali was with just friends. So my kids were not there to witness the mommy-breaks-the-rules-so-why-can't-we activities. 
         The scenic Bali island offers Balinese specialties that are simple yet delectable. One thing I savoured most was their soto ayam (Indonesian chicken soup). That one medium-sized bowl of broth was so complete and satisfying that other foods served there seemed unappealing.

         Though I was pretty startled at first when I noticed just how much things were thrown into the soup (fried sliced potatoes, tomatoes, shredded chicken, vegetables, eggs, tofu etc), I then realized that they had actually perfected the soup.

         My friends and I could not help smiling when we saw the neat petal-shaped piece of brown paper used to serve the rice (I wonder if other customers did pay attention to these details). The pergedils (beef patties) were moist and beefy (unlike some that are totally bland and starchy).

        The vege dish was as tasty as well. One minus point came from the drinks. I found the coffee too sweet and had this funny aftertaste. 


       Okay, that is not me in the picture. But it was perfect for this shot when the sun was about to set at Jimbaran beach. Sunset-viewing in Bali is a "must-have" itinerary not only for honeymooners, but for other nature lovers as well.

       We ourselves marveled at the beautiful golden glow across the sky. A stunning view, three cups of steaming hot local coffee and a plate of crunchy salted peanuts were all that we need to celebrate this joyous reunion of good old friends.

       When the whole area was lit by oil lamps, magic and romance instantly filled the air. There are not enough words to describe such mesmerizing view. 
       Till now, I find the pleasantly pungent aroma of our coffee and the sweet smell of sea breeze still linger on!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Kitchen Juggler's Blackforest Cupcake

      Making a decadent cupcake requires just a little effort, in fact, it is pretty effortless I should say.
      These little cuppies are always able to delight the friends of my teenage daughters who regularly drop by after school. Instead of making a huge 9-inch blackforest gateau, I would opt for a dozen of these babies instead because I do not want leftovers piling up in the chiller! 
      The fastest way is to get a packet of chocolate sponge mix and just follow the directions on the packet. A 200g of sponge mix is more than enough to make a dozen of medium to large cupcakes. When you have the batter ready, fill up the cups up to two-thirds full. Bake as directed.
       Normally, the temperature I set for this cake is around 180-190C. Once the cake is done, let them cool.
        In the meantime, get the filling and topping ready. For the filling, pour a can of red cherries in a pot, and add 2  tablespoon sugar, a teaspoon of lemon or orange juice, a teaspoon of gelatin. Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes. Then heat the pot and let the liquid reduce by half.
        Remove from heat, and mashed the cherries so that the filling can pass through a large round nozzle.
        For the butter cream, mix 150g of softened butter, 100g of icing sugar, few drops of vanilla essence. Whisk until fluffy.
        Using a nozzle with a round tip or a filling nozzle to inject the cherry filling into the cupcake. Using a star nozzle (or basically any pattern that you desire) pipe some cream around the edges of the cupcake.
       Then place some cherry filling in the centre to cover the hole made earlier. Grate some chocolate (or you can use chocolate rice) and sprinkle on top of the cupcake. 
       If you're not a fan of sponge cakes, any chocolate butter cake recipe will do. Happy trying!