WARM LEMON WATER

If there are 3 habits that I am certain I can keep for the rest of my life, it will be warm lemon water, oats and Straits Times.

Every morning, I spend 30 minutes of my morning to sip my warm lemon water slowly while reading Straits Times on my ipad then make my oats that will be drank slowly for another 20 minutes. This minimalist one hour breakfast has nursed back my gastric to pretty good health.

Why warm lemon water?

It all started from an old friends’ gathering 3 months back whereby someone shared that her client paid a few thousands for a machine that can process the tap water into alkaline water, and how it has cured his kids’ constipation issue. I went to google for a alkaline food chart and found out that lemon deserves a +9.9 (contrary to our usual understanding, see some articles here, here and here.) I agree with the thinking that it is alkalising inside the body. Before this, I had read somewhere that an overall acidic body condition ages you, OK I confess that was the initial motivating factor. But, a deeper dive brings much even much more benefits in drinking lemon water, you can get plenty of materials with a quick search on google. But personally, I have experienced the below

  1. Boost in immunity and reduction in phlegm – usually by this time of the year, I would have already come down with flu or chronic cough at least 2-3 times but I am all cleared this year as of now.
  2. Clearer skin – I am blessed with decent skin condition save for those bumpy blemishes on my forehead, last check shows that they are gone. I think this is the effect of the liver detox that was one of the benefits mentioned.
  3. Reduction in digestive problems – I used to experience acid reflux and bloatness in my tummy, this always lead to dizzy spells then nausea then vomitting. Occurence has reduced greatly and so far nil vomitting. My irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has also greatly improved!

A lemon costs 65 cents from NTUC Fairprice, and because these are usually larger, I only squeeze in juice of 1/6 wedge for each cup of water for moderation sake. I think 1/2 a lemon is really too much. Anyway, so that’s 10 cents each morning. Once in a blue moon, I do get organic ones, that costs up to $1.80 each, and they are also smaller, so I probably use a quarter, so that’s 45 cents per serving. For organic juice, I will place the squeezed lemon wedge into the warm water for the lemon oils within the skin to be released. I find this 10 cents spent good value for health since I can save on supplements or posible medication costs.

Please read also why overly acidic body conditions are bad for you here and here. Oh, do go through those articles I linked, several tips include drinking the lemon water warm, avoid adding honey (it turns the water acidic!) And do not let the lemon sit in the water for a prolonged period; freshly squeezed is the best.

Keep being healthy, I will probably talk about the oats next time.

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GETTING OLDER BETTER

I know, I have been writing quite a fair bit on retirement, and now I am going to blog about getting older (bah bah bah… ). Well, finances and physical well being are essential as part of the retirement plans, but another equally important area is the emotions. I am turning Big 3 not too far away, I don’t exactly pound on the table and lament about life swishing past, but once in a while, the group of us old friends do exclaim in a small shock – sheesh, cannot believe next year we have to tick 30-34 in this survery form etc etc. You know what I mean. Then what about turn 60? I’m sure it isn’t easier, with a larger share of uncertainty and insecurities? So,  I would love to try ease my parents better into their golden age too. It also means spending more time with them.

Recently, I picked up Getting Older Better by Pamela D.Blair, who is a life coach, therapist and counselor. Unlike the usual finance retirement talk, the author touches on other areas such as self image, emotions, fears, spiritual self, creative self and even living spaces. Some of these areas are probably things I wish to share with my parents, and just let them develop in their own way, or get excited about it. I was reading the book in a haste because I would need to return it to the library so I am likely to borrow it again. But there is a part that I like and would like to share:

JOURNALING THE DAYS

Another reason for writing in your diary is to discover that the ideas in which you are an inexhaustible fountain. – Brenda Ueland

Author Annie Dillard once said, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Inspired by this quote, I’ve decided to be more intentional in my journaling, to explore just how I’m spending my days. Like currency, am I spending too much on the minutiae or the irrelevant? And I spending well past my limit? Creating too much metaphorical debt and not reinburising myself? Every so often, I hear someone say, “I just don’t know where today went!” I’m reminded that the days are numbered – just so much left in the account.

Journaling is a way to keep track of how we spend our days. It can be a spiritual or personal balance sheet. Tuesday, I spent too much too time in contemplation and not enough time getting work done. On Thursday, I spent too much time getting mundane done and not enough time in reflection. Journaling has taught me the fine art of balance and the discipline has helped me become more aware of who I am, what my passions are and how I relate to spirit.

Consider keeping two journals – one for everyday contemplation and reporting and another titled “Things I Love”, starting each line or paragraph with the words I love. . . My first entry says, I love writing with a fountain pen. My second entry says, I love the way my adult son kisses me on the forehead. Another says, I love the first buds of spring on the maple trees in my yard. Glue in pictures from magazine or photos you love. Whichever method you choose, a journal will help you explore who you are by identifying what you love and how you spend your days.

How are you spending the currency of your days?

The small extract above by the author expresed partly why I started this blog. I don’t wish to see my years slip past without having some awareness of what happened. It became quite applicable to myself, that I have decided I may well create a section ‘Things I Love’ to remind myself of how great life is and how many lovely things there are in my life. I can just start early! Of course, I am thinking how I can incorporate this for my parents in an easier fashion, maybe I can teach them how to instagram or even pinterest (ok this is tough)? There are still many ongoing thoughts on this. . . will keep jotting things here.

Don’t Forget How Fortunate We Really Are

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Image Source Credits Here

I will never forget the impact that was left on me when I saw the same lines a few years ago. Quite obviously, I still remember to look for them today. Sometimes we get too swamped with day to day trivials or issues that we forget that there are less fortunate people around us who need our help, however little or trivial we may want to think of it.

Since I started working, I have donated a small amount of money to community chest monthly from part of my salary. Now that my salary has discontinued since I am on a break, I have been looking for new avenues to donate a small sum to – legitimate, meaningful and more importantly impactful. Months ago, I saw this TV programme of a Singaporean mother fostering a baby, despite having 3 or 4 children of her own. During the interview, the mother said something along this line that left a strong impression on me, ‘Of course we understand we will not keeping this baby with us forever, but since we are able to, we would want to help give this baby a good start in life so that he/she can develop better in his/her own way.” By the way, they are just an average working couple living in a HDB flat, I will never forget how noble they are. Henceforth, I have decided that the first organisation W & I will donate to this year is the Children’s Society, it only makes so much sense.

Then a few months later, I chanced upon OCBC Today Children’s Fund whereby OCBC will match every $2 of our donation with $1. This is double the joy, because the donation gets enlarged by 50% more from a bank so why not? Harness the money spinning power of these financial institutions!

W & I have a Little Blue Man Fund, it is basically some coin bank pictured below. Every time we have some small change, we will feed Little Blue Man. In fact, W is the one who started this habit. Previously, once the coin bank is full, he will pass it to any organisation of his choice. I suggested to him that the coin bank is probably a clutter/liability for the organisation (seriously, if everyone does that, what use do they have for this), they are probably better off with just the donation. Hence, this time round, we deposited the coins then made the donation via the OCBC Today Children’s Fund website which accepts a few modes of payment, including credit card.

 Little Blue Man FundThe donation is only $85 based on the coins we have collated, but thanks to OCBC 50% matching, it will translate into $127.50. I read more and found that this amount is still $27.50 short of the cost of a week’s of therapy programmes for a child. To me, what matters is the thought and the community effort. Do remember how fortunate we really are and share something, even if it is $10 or $20. I guess you can only feel better.

The Favourite Question – got enough money to retire?

These few weeks, months, years, whichever, we constantly get blasted by news/articles from all areas that it is not easy to retire, or rather it may be impossible etc etc etc. I have seen so many that I think you can just google them up, tons and tons and tons, not going to link them up for now. Yawn.

So, it was inevitable that my Pa started saying rather strange things like, “I think I will work until I am so old, cham“, “I think I can only retire if I have $500,000“. May I say he can get overly influenced by all the hearsay? He has not even look at his own numbers in totality and do some check and balance. But like what I mentioned before, my Pa did not go through much formal schooling and is unable to understand much English, so I don’t blame him for being not so savvy about this. This is when I can put my very basic financial knowledge to some good use. After all, it is finally time to repay him and my Ma for the efforts put in to raise me and put me through university. I know under about me, my life apsirations sound very airy fairy, but I am actually a business graduate and I was working for a good number of years to know how to use excel spreadsheet and calculator. Hah!

Some background, my Pa is 58 years old while my Ma is 56 years old. I also have an elder Sis who is married. We are both financially independent (obviously right, at this age?). My Pa plans to retire end of this year i.e. start retiring from Jan 2015. And we stay in a 4-room flat. My parents are both very simple and down to earth people, so it really helps in their retirement planning, especially in the financial sense.

1. I estimated my parents’ monthly expenses together with them

My Ma is a simple stay at home housewife, while my Pa is just a simple driver who started doing some dangerous job requiring manual labour like painting ship in shipyards in the early 80s. Then, in mid 80s, he took up this driver job (it’s a specialist driver job), and started working for a pay of $1,000. His pay has raised slow and steady,although still lower than the median income in Singapore, he has paid up for the 4 room HDB flat we are staying in with his CPF. Hence, cash outlay for a monthly house mortage repayment is not required (I’m really proud of them in this matter!). Based on current dollars, we estimate their joint expenses amount to about $1,500.

Food/Eating out – $500 (my parents prefer homecooked food, so eating out is usually with us siblings, which we split the bill)
Transport – $200 (based on public transport $3.50 each round trip x 20 times x 2 person = $140, $60 for taxis, my brother in law drives so my Pa can borrow a car in times of need. When they turn 60, they can even apply for monthly concession pass for senior citizens at $60 )
Mobile Phone/Phone Line – $100
Travel – $400 (I spreaded travel expenses across 12 months for easy calculation, this will provide $2,400 for each per year. It’s not a great amount, but our whole family take a trip once a year within Asia, furthest Australia because they are not able to withstand long flights beyond 7 hours. Usually my Sis and I top up part of the holiday expenses for them too)
Misc (anybaos, token $ for my grandma, clinic visit, clothes etc) – $300
Utilities – $0 (it is about $150 now so we siblings are likely to split it)

2. I used a simple excel spreadsheet and input yearly cash/CPF inflow and outflow (taking into consideration inflation in expenses)

At the bottom of the page, I worked out their monthly expenses with 4% inflation adjusted, i.e. $1500 x 12 = $18,000 is 2014 dollars. By 2015, the same things must be bought with $18,000 * 104% = $18,720. This continues for every year, in fact the sum of the total expenses (inflation adjusted) comes up to a whopping $731,626 by the time my Pa is 82 and my Ma is 80! But, this doesn’t mean my Pa cannot retire, what matters more is the yearly cash outflow.

Every month, my Sis and I contributed to the family allowance (amount A), plus once my Pa turn 65, he will be getting the CPF Life payout of about $550 (B). My Ma is a housewife so she has very minimal CPF, below the limit that she don’t even has to set aside the CPF Minimum Sum. Hence, I have decided to make an effort to top up her CPF Retirement Account with $200 every month, with a 5% interest for the next 8 years. With a small existing lump sum, this can grow into a nice small money nest that she can continously draw down $250 (C) per month until she is about 81. The total of $800 may not sound alot, but it plays a good part in reducing their cash outflow. I worked in the CPF life payout here for easier computation.

Retirement Expenses adjusted for inflation

Then, at the top of the page, I created a simple cash flow table, for every year from now until my Pa turns 80 years old. There was a small CPF lump sum that he withdrew when he turned 55 (as x in table below), and they have since kept it as emergency funds. My Pa continued working so some portion remained, so he will only start drawing out the monies from his CPF account when that has been drawn down, obviously because the bank pays much lower interest versus CPF. Below is just a sample cash flow table, I assumed someone earning about $2,800 a month and had continued working after a lump sum CPF withdrawal at 55 years old. CPF Medisave Account Minimum Sum will also be met. I used my Pa’s plans as part of the life eventing planning, for example, he currently has a car to make monthly payment for until end of the year, and he still has some insurance to pay for in cash, but for this year, as a broad assumption, both the expenses can be covered by his income for now. Next year onwards, these can cause a cash outflow.

Retirement Cash Flow

My Pa has some insurance that will mature when he turns 60, so when that happens the final amount will go back to his CPF OA. It will stay there until cash in bank runs out, to clock up more interest! Hence, I will add in this as an addition under CPF OA for him. Then when his cash in bank runs low, he can start his withdrawal from the CPF account. Basically help your parents track the major inflow and outflow for both cash and CPF.

3. Further find ways to boost the moolahs

The numbers are planned for until my Pa is 80 and my Ma is 78. If so, then HOWWWW you will ask me, because the average life expectancy of Singaporean Males is 81 while that of Females is 85. That’s a shortfall of almost 7 years for my Ma. And what if medical needs arise? Based on a brief check, I feel that my parents are adequately covered by their health insurance, and my Pa’s CPF MA minimum sum, although I do note that both my parents may need to dip into my Pa’s account. I will do a deeper analysis on their possible healthcare financial costs the next round. A review is also timely in view of the new Medishield Life that will be implemented around end 2015. Meanwhile, I have been encouraging them to stay healthy and happy! That’s probably the best prevention and cure.

As for the extra boost needed to further plan for longevity like 90 or 100 years old, there are indeed some alternatives on hand:

a. The numbers were planned on the basis that my Pa being fully retired and not having any income. In actual fact, he had planned for his own retirement until 62 years old then, but his current work is too labour demanding for his age and health, so I highly encourage him to retire soon. Knowing that he may not be able to sit still at home for long (OK that’s a joke, but he really has few hobbies, his emotional well being will be another area I want to touch on), it is likely that he will take on a non labour demanding part time driver job. Even if it fetches him just $600 a month, it will minimise his cash outflow greatly and allow the some of the CPF savings to compound some more interest. This can extend his CPF draw out for another 3 years.

b. My Pa drives a modest Toyota now which he got it much cheaper back then, by early 2015 when my Pa retires, he is unlikely to need the car much so there is a possibility of selling it. That should fetch a decent $35,000 to $38,000; I made some guesswork based on used car selling prices now.

c. The allowance from my Sis and I will be giving are not adjusted for inflation periodically yet. With some adjustment, it will minimise the cash layout too.

d. Lastly, we are also considering a downgrade to a 3-room flat since I will be moving out after getting married end of the year. But there are resale fees and costs involved and I have yet to review this fully. This will be reviewed eventually.

Maybe, next year, we will do another review, but meanwhile we are quite contented with what we see. My parents are doing decently fine. After all, we can’t be pin pointing everything down to precision in life.

So, yes, they are ready for retirement.

What’s in a cataract operation?

I’m thinking whether I should create a small section call ‘Helping the Parent Retire’ or ‘The Parents’ Retirement’ to pen down some thoughts I have and any work/research I have done, but it may look strange next to the main categories and it doesn’t really fall into place nicely as a sub-category. Haha.

Anyway, my Pa recently realised he has cataract so he got a namecard from a fellow colleague who did his operation with Dr Jon Goh at The Lasik Surgery Clinic Singapore at a good price of $3,000 plus so I tried to make an appointment but was told Dr Jon Goh is no longer working at LSC. And the nurse recommended another Dr. In a summary, the services were really quite unprofessional. We were also quoted $5K. The person attending to us shared that there is indeed a price hike from last year to this. But $3,000 plus to $5,000, nice. The nurses are decently nice people but based on the encounter, I know the doc and the nurses are really not that professional, especially in comparison to the services I received in Shinagawa for my own lasik surgery 3 years back. Anyway, it was still very early stage for my Pa so we have a few months to await the cataract to better formed before the surgery can take place.

I came home, felt ill at ease and didn’t sleep well that night. Throughout the next few days, I called up Shinagawa and my Pa’s health insurer, NTUC Income and go through MOH/CPF Medisave website to check on the final costs and try to understand even more.

First thing I found out is, we had a very bad misunderstooding on the price. The fee quoted is for per eye, yes, not for both eyes. Although this article is quite outdated, it provides a good overview of the prices, I am sure there will be price adjustment upwards to account for inflation. At Singapore National Eyecare Centre (SNEC), one who gets a recommendation from polyclinics and do not choose a doctor (i.e. subsidised), per eye is about $1,300. If no recommendation i.e. private, it will range from mid $2,000 to mid $3,000. In NUH, it starts from $3,600. Based on the article, these are procedures using the standard len.

Secondly, my Pa is on NTUC Income Incomeshield Plan B, although my Pa is lowly educated (in the formal schooling sense), he had the responsibility to buy this plan for himself in his late 30s. I called up NTUC Income to check and found out that a claim can be made only if the hospital / clinic (participating in the Medishield scheme, I checked here for NTUC Income) e-file the claim for us. The LSC nurses were not very sure about this at all. In contrast, the Shinagawa lady, Pauline, made an effort to call me back after the clinic closing hours and explained the cost estimates involved, how they had already done claims via e-filing, and even went on to calculate the estimated cost together with me after the CPF Medisave Account (MA) deduction. This is what I call professional. So, I came out with this table below on my own after getting my understanding right:

Cataract Surgery Fee

I worked on the assumption that the cataract surgery will be a 4A surgical type (you can check on MOH website for this). The surgical table type will determine the insurance claim limit and CPF MA withdrawal. If you refer to the link, a cataract surgery can range from 4A to 6B but I just worked with 4A as the assumption for now. This means a claim limit of $3,000 and CPF MA withdrawal limit of $2,150, on per eye basis.

The surgery will cost $4,000 per eye for use of a standard len implant, and up to $6,000 per eye for a multifocal len, we are likely to opt for the former. Note that cataract surgery are performed one eye each time, about 1-2 weeks apart. In other words, there will be two day surgeries. For the first eye surgery, based on the deductible portion of the Incomeshield plan and the 10% co-payment, the insurance claim is about $450. Coupled with the CPF MA withdrawal of $2,150, we expect a cash top up $1,400. As for the second eye surgery, there is no longer the deductible portion (as long as operation is within the same policy year), so the claim is about $2,700, the remaining $1,300 will be paid off with my Pa’s CPF MA. Hence, CPF MA will pay $3,450 for the bill, while we will have a cash outlay of about $1,400.

Note that my family is not well to do, my Pa has been a driver since I was born. My Ma is an everyday housewife. We are really the HDB heartlanders you see around.

You may question, why then didn’t we consider a subsidised surgery in SNEC? There will be no cash outlay and my Pa’s CPF MA can be better preserved (we do see CPF MA money as our own for your info). I did toy with this option too, but my Pa is generally a lot more comfortable with the idea of going private for his eyes (he intends to continue working after all and he drives for a living). Considering this is within our spending means, $1,000 to $2,000 cash is a comfortable range, I would rather give him the peace of mind. I feel that it is important that the patient himself feels adequately comfortable.

The financial/insurance products’ savvy folks may then ask, isn’t there a mismatch of his insurance coverage and his medical needs then? He is on a basic Plan B, meant for restructured hospital ward B1/2, yet he is considering a private hospital/clinic treatment? There is some truth in this, but I am a believer of balance. For long term treatment or hospitalisation, my Pa is comfortable with a B1 ward, it’s a four bedder, and so far the newer ones are all air conditioned equipped. If he had opted for the Private Plan A, my Pa’s CPF MA would have been drawn down by an additional $6,600 (without considering the yearly 4% interest the CPF MA was getting).As for the add-on rider consideration, that will be discussion for another day, I have my own take on this as well.

Meanwhile I’m happy that my Pa can choose his desired treatment and feel more secure, security is a big issue at 58 years old! Just a few minutes ago, my Ma came into my room and exclaimed that her Pasar friend is going for cataract surgery at Gleneagles Hospital for a whooping $15,000! Her son who is apparently a businessman, will be able to afford to pay for the entire operation in cash. I wonder why wasn’t there even a basic healthcare plan for her, but I guess since it sounds like they can afford it, it’s fine. For the rest of us, it is still about a balance of healthcare needs, a decent coverage and of course some basic savings.

Does anyone has experience with SNEC or other good clinics, maybe you can share it with me? I would like to gather as much information on this because I was quite lost on this topic in the beginning, and with all our parents aging and cataract being a very common issue amongst the elderly, it is really for us to understand better.

What’s in my simple x green Saturday?

Like any Saturday, I wished to stay away from the weekend crowd. Hence I suggested lunch at Pasar Bella, because W & I love Le Patio mixed Seafood Paella and the iced earl grey tea. The portion is decent at $13.50, with squid, mini octopus, a big prawn, several mussels and tender chicken chunks topping the paella rice. Make it a set with my favourite ice earl grey tea for $17.50. So, two person can enjoy this Spanish delight for a good $8.75, a small indulgence at a reasonable price, you also don’t overstuff your stomach.

After a good belly patting meal, we did our usual round around the farmers’ market. And this time round, I got a small bonus, SG Organic who owned a small corner in Pasar Bella was holding summer sale promotion and I got very good organic lettuce and pumpkin for 95 cents each! I was really quite happy with my buy, a 100g organic pumpkin can cost up to $3.50, after all for the amount of work, a fair value has to be given.

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Side track a little, I do wish to have a small organic garden patch when W & I get our own house in two years’ time. Does anyone has experience in planting organic veg in HDB or small spaces? If you have any tips on how to start very small, please share!

And then it was time to catch 开心鬼! As part of Happy Ghosts’ 30 years’ anniversary, Mediacorp is broadcasting 开心鬼 I,II, III today, and next two Saturdays (12 and 19 Jul) respectively, 2.30pm on Channel. I’m a fan of nostagic hongkong movies and please don’t say go Youtube and watch lah – the feeling is just very different when you abide by the timing and then switch on the TV with a delightful squeak.

Dinner consisted of homecooked dishes by my Ma and Sis who are both excellent cooks – stir fry greens and prawns, otah omelette, steamed sambal fish, and a big pot of herbal chicken + black fungus stew. As part of my self initiated education to know more about food prices (haha I know, so lame…), I asked my Sis how much did it cost her to prepare the pot of herbal stew and the answer was $10 to $15. By the way, six of us reported for dinner! Can only say it’s really great to be able to eat together as a family. It is much more cost effective, and it is nicer to chit chat and bond in a cosy yet quieter home enviroment. Seriously, I hate to be out for dinners during the weekends in SG, it only cause me potential gastric reflux with the crowd, noise and neverending queues.

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I find my Saturday spent in a pretty simple yet enjoyable manner that didn’t have to cost a bomb. Perhaps it isn’t really that green, unless you count both of us sharing food and minimising wastage, because W actually drove to Pasar Bella (although parking is free at Grandstand). If there is one thing most un-green about us, it’s W’s darling car. And that will be a thought for another day. Meanwhile, there is also the option of the free shuttle to and fro Grandstand every hour. I will try it very soon.

 

Clothes’ Upcycling

My close friends, by now, are aware that I am quite crazy over upcycling. Upcycling is not a new term in the recent years, especially in the western countries. To me, it is a mean to extend ‘lifespan’ of an object and prevent it from being discarded into the almost full landfill in Singapore.

Amidst my busy work schedule last year, I tried to take up dressmaking classes, in hope to alter my own clothes. It was not a total success because the tutor seems to be more competent in making new clothes from scratch and I got too busy with work before we get to try that out. The inertia and fear of failing was simply too strong (humph!).

So, I thought there was very very little hope of me completing my own alteration project, until I attended a simple session hosted by the National Library! The session was called Upcycling Your Clothes by Agy. Agy went through with us the entire process of the resources required to make just a top, I used to dabble in textile related work so I was more or less aware of how crazy the whole industry was, but viewing the entire chain in a quick video format was really impactful. What truly spurred me on to start my own upcycling projects were her various works that she shared with us – it turned out that, as long as you can sew simple stitches, you will be able to hack your own clothes!

So, this is how my Project #1 started!
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This is a really pretty bridesmaid dress from one of my bestest friends. Peach pink with lace details complemented by peach pink chiffon for the bottom. However, the babydoll cut renders it really unflattering for anyone bigger than UK size 6/8. So, I thought why not separate the top and bottom then take the bottom as a skirt?

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So I begun to unpick the stitches joining the top and bottom. The lining was a separate piece so I unpick the lining too and then use a simple blanket stitch to sew the lining back to the bottom. And it became a nice and versatile fairy skirt.

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So I paired it with a blank tank top and went out with it. Oh! As for the lace portion left behind, I used part of it and made it into a necklace, with some other scrap materials. That’s story to tell for another day. It also makes a lot of sense to be keeping this piece of item (in another fashion) that is quite sentimental to me.

So, really, all you need to know is simple sewing and a love for upcycled stuff! And, I can only say, I’m really grateful to Agy and NLB for helping me recognise a hidden and almost forgotten passion.

Quick Prata & Curry Fix

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Sometimes, I am quite certain that my mum may want to get married off on my behalf, then cook on my behalf and then clean on my behalf. Because, I am just not that adequate in these areas. It is ironic that my Sis and her are very capable in domestic terms (no, I wasn’t adopted. I would like to maintain that I am just more developed in other areas like being fussy about food).

Anyway anyway, being a good (overaged) girl who tries to listen mummy, I decide to make some effort once in a blue moon to learn at least a few dishes. It is all based on whatever I can find in her fridge, basically it is always too hot/humid for me to walk 5 minutes to the nearest supermarket. So so so, I saw sweet potatoes, and instant prata then somehow the dots connected. Lunch would be prata with vegetable curry. Instant food bad for health, curry also bad for health leh, but what to do, I feel like a sinner today. And basically, I only do dishes that can be cooked in a old Tiger rice cooker, fit for steaming only due to metal base defects, or our all wonder Meyer pot.

It was quite messy because I was trial and error-ing but it turned out quite yummy. So, I ran through the steps in my brain, lean six it and would like to share the below one-person recipe with all similar souls:

  1. Find sweet potatoes / potatoes, carrots, pumpkins (mixture A) in the fridge. Deskin the necessary and cut into cubes. Just some of each will do. More of sweet potato though. Same for onions / tomatoes but just some will do too.
  2. Place mixture A into steamer for about 20 minutes. Mash them up with a fork.
  3. Add 2-3 tablespoons of curry paste then stir in onions/tomatoes and return it to steaming for another 10 minutes. Add some water to your own liking.
  4. Meanwhile, on low heat in a pan, heat up the instant prata. Flip it constantly and remember low heat to avoid any chao tar situation.
  5. Add 1-2 teaspoon of yoghurt to the curry then serve together. Can squeeze some lemon/lime juice over. Lettuce tastes excellent with the curry dip, so add that in too!

For steaming in our house, we use a old Tiger rice cooker method. Rice cooker is like the best invention in the world okay. Give me that over a hair iron anytime please. For heating up the prata, we have a big Meyer pot at home so I just use that.

For instant prata, my favourite brand is Spring Home, although Sakura has rolled out a crispier and thinner version that often goes on sale now because they probably need to gain market share. Do not, do not remove the prata from freezer until pan is hot. If not, you will face sticky dough situation, literally.

For the curry paste, I found Ayam brand and A1 brand in the freezer so I just use a little of both. Oh, I intended to use some HL milk but found that we ran out so I just found the next best, some yoghurt. It works fine too. But add by teaspoon because it will make the curry too sour if you overdo it.

Lastly, if the portion ended up too big, you can cool the unfinished and then freeze it. Use the same bowl and just cover with a dish for ease of steaming and serving! I would probably use them up within 3 days, although I know some people freeze things for ages. I was thinking of using it for either fried rice, baked rice, curry bread toast or even curry noodles etc etc.

The steps are quite simple and because the curry paste already has oil mixed in, I don’t add in any oil or seasoning. Guess it’s still lesser of a sin compared to what we get outside? Now, let me go drink more water to ensure the sore throat won’t come back again…

 

 

Simple Yoga

It is absolutely hot in Singapore in recent days, and also crazily humid. It’s 9.30pm and I can sit down typing, and sweating. Yes, it gets annoying, to the extent of hateful.

But I still count my blessings, it’s the perfect weather for hot yoga. I practise yoga for the sake of only one thing, my chronic back ache that has been getting back at me for 6 years. It was a neglected sprain that was not fully treated, and further worsened from long hours of computer work fatigue. Specialist treatment has proven ineffective, and yoga is the only saviour.

Back to simple yoga. It’s a trend to pay $20-$30 for a session of hot yoga in a nice yoga palour (I call them palours because most are so classy these days), but the heat is artificial and personally I find it tad too high for our pores and body (although many love the apparent detox effect). It is not suitable for everyone. Instead, I make use of this hot and stuffy weather to do my regular yoga, without fan or aircon on, and I sweat sufficiently too. I find it a good balance, not too strenous but warm enough to help me purge out my sweat.

Of course, it’s also for people who have practised yoga previously. I have practised yoga under supervision for quite a long period of time, so I am able to do all the simple poses at home myself.

Yoga is also a way for me to recollect myself, and regain some awareness, via a short mediation session at the end. I hope, I will be able to commit to myself to keep practising yoga in this simple fashion until I am too old to move.

SAVE THE DATE

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I’m quite a lazy bride – I’m a little not so motivated to plan all the wedding trivials, BUT when it comes to a task that I can apply any sense of colours/art (however small), I will get terribly excited.

Using Rhonna Design App, while referencing around in Pinterest, I created our save the date notice that I send out to the friends right afterwards. It took about 30 minutes to choose the correct sticker, and fonts. I even use a standard Rhonna background!

Keep wedding trivials simple + fun!