“You can be unhappy.”

I recently watched a documentary series on Channel NewsAsia, “Facing Death”. It talks about the challenges critically ill patients and their caregivers face.

I could very much relate to all the stories mentioned. I saw shadows of myself within the show.

However one thing struck me the most. A consultant from Dover hospice said in her interview they need to let patients know they can feel sad, they have a right to do that. We try so hard to fight for happiness everyday, but have we forgotten sadness belongs to the other side of the coin. Everyone is trying hard to construct the ideal world of “happiness”, but what does it really mean to be happy? In the ideal world, we were told to share happiness, never sadness because it will make us look weak. Often we hear people say “never be judgemental”, but unfortunately we all start forming images in our heads with every little bit of information.  We size people up. Unfortunately, it will never be a complete picture because we will never know the complete picture. It’s not about looking beyond what is apparent, it’s about moving beyond the apparent. (On a side note, recent campaign by MCI is about not being judgemental. I personally think it’s a meaningful campaign,  and I hope it achieve good results in reminding people to have more empathy. You can look at the series of videos on their Facebook and YouTube page ➡gov. sg)

We watched the movie “Inside out”. We talked about sadness, we admired him.  But has it really changed our lives?

It is sad to think that we have to deliberately remind ourselves it is okay for one to feel sad. There is always a cycle to everything in life, and they go up and down. Nothing will stay up there forever. Did the pursuit of “a happy world” made us lose the sense of empathy?

The best way to connect with people is to show empathy. And empathy is shown by accepting and acknowledging people for who they are. It can be as simple as telling someone “it’s okay, you can be unhappy.”

I am the badass

Life is an uphill. I walked. I climbed. I stumbled and fell. Covered in bruises, cut and bled.

I continue to walk, with injuries. Limping sometimes, but I try to move whatever inch I can. Remember the times you injure your knee, and you try to take the stairs with an abrasion.

It’s a long road ahead with no end. I can’t change the path I took in the past. No magical eraser can do that. I will continue to move forward.

I missed a step recently. I may be in pain recently, but I will survive.

Call me the badass.

我哭了。

我已经很久没有收看新传媒的电视节目了。但是我知道《志在四方2》将在电视上播出,只是不知道确切日期。我很期待这部电视剧,却不知道它已启播。所以我到了Toggle网页,如果已经播出了,我会观赏随选电视。找不到。后来发现原来今晚是首播。

看着,看着。我不知不觉哭了。

我的心情是激动的。我看见了熟悉的工作环境。我看见熟悉的工作模式。我看见熟悉的场景。我看见熟悉的机器。这一切的一切,勾起了许多美丽与难忘的回忆。即使是当年发生紧急状况时的那种焦虑,现在回想起来也是甜蜜的。因为一个简单的梦想,我吃了不少苦,却也成就了许多。因为年少气盛,横冲直撞的态度也让我撞得头破血流。但很庆幸的是每一次的经验都教会了我很多东西。

我以为以前爱看电视是因为工作关系,不过今天我发现爱看电视是我的本性。我还是会目不转睛的锁定荧幕,即使是广告。我毅然决定离开电视圈,往另一个梦想迈进。这是一个很崎岖的道路,充满了荆棘。有时真的感到很疲惫,也很沮丧。不过回想起当年的闯荡电视生涯,我也挣扎了不少,但我最后还是克服所有的困难,也闯出了属于自己的一片天。我通过自己的方式,走出一条属于自己的路。以前能做到,未来也肯定能做到。这未来肯定就在眼前。

我会继续勉励自己。我的未来就掌握在自己的手里。想哭时就尽情的哭。想笑时就尽情的笑吧!

Late night baking: Hot Water (Yudane) Plain Bread

I went shopping at Cold Storage after visiting Whiskey Live at Capella today.

There is a bakery in Plaza Singapura’s Cold Storage. I saw different types of bread, plain loaf, Ciabatta, baguette etc. I couldn’t stop looking at them, but I didn’t want to get them. I’ve stopped buying breads after I’ve learnt how to make them. Not that I wouldn’t buy anymore breads, but nothing too interesting has caught my eye yet.

But the plain loaf reminded me of the one that I’ve learnt in school. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to make one for breakfast. Yes, I’ve decided it’s worth some late night baking for a delicious breakfast.

Before I had my dinner, I made Tangzhong (starter dough).

Tangzhong (Starter dough)

Tangzhong (Starter dough)

According to the recipe, I just need to let the tangzhong sit for 15 mins. However for better results, you can let it sit longer.

The plain loaf I did in ABC Cooking Studio used special flour, Kitano Kaori, and Shirakami Kodama dry yeast. I don’t have them at home, so I replaced it with normal bread flour and instant dry yeast. Kitano Kaori and Kodama dry yeast would give the bread an enhanced flavour. It is okay not to use them. These are rather hard to find ingredients, but you can always get them from Rakuten Global. They carry it in manageable sizes.

Because I had to work in a open kitchen which was quite humid, so I had to knead my dough for a longer period. For this dough, I took about an hour. The kneading time depends on your working environment and water added. I added more water today, because I was told it will make the bread softer.

Dough after first proofing

Dough after first proofing

If you do not have a bread proofer at home, you can always just leave your bread in a corner of your kitchen to let it ferment. For me, I find that fermentation takes place faster inside the microwave. DO NOT preheat your oven or anything. Just let your dough sit inside, and let it grow. I took about an hour for first fermentation. To check for your dough, the size would have at least doubled, and when you do the finger test, the hole remains but springs back partially, you know your dough is ready.

Second proofing

Second proofing

Each time my dough goes into proofing, I will make use of the time to do clean up, and to do some work. After about 40 mins, my bread has grown to at least 1.5 times.

After second proofing

After second proofing

I used the same recipe from school, and it’s meant for 1 loaf. However I realized my bread tin is too small, so I decided to make another smaller one. All you have to do is to split the dough after first fermentation.

After that it’s time to send the bread for baking. It can get a little tricky as different ovens have different temperatures. 2 ovens can be the same brand, same model, but the heat is different.

Hot Water (Yudane) Plain Bread

Hot Water (Yudane) Plain Bread

My loaves didn’t turn out as evenly baked as the one I baked in school. I will need to adjust the temperature of the oven accordingly. Initially I set it too high, so the top part browned too much, too quickly. I then lowered the temperature, which caused the side of the bread to be less brown.

Nonetheless, my bread still smells awesome. It’s now 1.10am, and it’s making me hungry. I can’t wait to wake up in the morning to have it for breakfast! I am sorry if you are waiting for me to share the recipe. I can’t because this is the recipe from ABC Cooking Studio. I will definitely share if it’s my own.

Now that I’ve done plain loaf at home, maybe I should move on to making sourdough next. I’ve been thinking about making sourdough at home for the past week. It’s my favourite bread, and it will be so awesome to make and eat. I am procrastinating because the whole process of making 1 bread can take up to a week, although the end result will be very worth the effort! I should sleep on this idea. I should go to bed now, and look forward to my breakfast!

 

From hello kitty, to little tiger

I was working on my script in the afternoon when an old friend messaged me. We were catching up and the topic of bread making came up.

I’ve recently tried to make Baymax bread for a friend, because that is her favorite character. I took the recipe off Little Miss Bento’s page. The bread ended up looking not too bad. 

The friend I talked to today saw the picture, and asked if I could make Hello Kitty ones. I thought to myself, it shouldn’t be too hard as I can use the same recipe. I just need to shape the bread differently. We joked about how she would buy from me if I could make them.

After dinner I decided I should try making it. I couldn’t wait. But instead of filling the bread with Nutella, I decided to use custard instead. I prefer custard over to Nutella. So I cooked some custard, and left it in the fridge while I knead my dough.

Everything was going according to plan until I had to draw the facial features. Disaster! I have the shape of a hello kitty, but facial features of a little tiger! 😓🙀 

As you can see, the first 2 pictures on the top look pretty decent. But the bottom ones just changed it completely! I guess I was being overly ambitious. I should have stuck to using edible colour ink to draw the features instead of using melted chocolate. I also wanted to add a little flavor to the bread with the chocolate.

Never mind, there is a saying, every failure is a closer step to success. 失败乃成功之母 I will have to try again until I succeed!

I bet my friends will be laughing their heads off when they see the picture. Laugh all you want guys! It’s good to laugh and be happy. I’ll do anything to bring you joy.

Instead of hello kitty, I will have little tigers for breakfast. They are still soft and fluffy with a delicious custard filling. I’ve got some leftover dough so I made a round ball with the smiley face. I’ll tried that piece of bread and it’s very nice. (是好吃的咯!)

If you have any tips on how to make a GOOD hello kitty bread, please feel free to share with me okay? To see more of my baking, you can find them on Instagram at the following hashtag: #mavcbakes

All Progress Takes Place Outside the Comfort Zone

progress and comfort zone

Image source: Canva

It’s been a while since I last met my buddy. It’s always a discovery process to talk to her, I will learn more about myself through our conversations. And the following quote is the conclusion of our meeting today:

If you find yourself stagnant, maybe it’s time to take the leap. Embrace the certainty of uncertainty.

#mavcbakes: the joy of making breads

I’ve never had much experience in making breads until May 2015. I’ve just finished shopping at Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City, and I was on my way down the escalator. I saw this place “ABC Cooking Studio“, and I was drawn to it. At first glance, I saw well-organised cooking stations in a brightly lit environment.

I walked up to the counter and saw some brochures. I saw brochures for bread, cakes and cooking lessons. I stood there for a while, looked through the brochures over and over again. I remember they were running a promotion for their trial classes, and it was the last few days to the end of the promotion. I looked at the prices of the classes, and they were rather pricey. I thought I would just take the trial class for fun, because the package was just too expensive. Since it’s the trial, maybe I should try the bread, and see if I can pick up a skill or two from this lesson.

So the day came, and I had my first bread class. My first breads at ABC Cooking Studio turned out really well, and got me interested in taking a few more lessons.

Left: Cinnamon roll Right: Ham and Mayo bread

Left: Cinnamon roll
Right: Ham and Mayo bread

Me with ham and mayo bread

I first took up the bakers lover package. That consisted of 8 breads and 6 cakes lessons. As I moved on with the different lessons, I began to fall in love with making breads. I was curious in finding out the different ways on making breads. I asked a lot of questions in class, and thankfully I have had very patient instructors to explain to me. Overtime, these instructors became my friends. I am always so happy to be in the studio.

Honey Cinnamon Bread

Honey Cinnamon Bread

The curriculum is such that students must finish all the classes in the basic module, before progressing to the master module. After that, students can decide if they want to take a test to get a license.

Pari Pari Curry Bun I overloaded one of the bread with filling, so my instructor and I got creative. The pig is so cute!

Pari Pari Curry Bun
I overloaded one of the bread with filling, so my instructor and I got creative. The pig is so cute!

me with piggy pari pari

So far I have finished my basic bread classes, and I have just started on my master course. It’s been a wonderful journey with ABC Cooking Studio, although there were minor hiccups along the way. But I know the school is trying their best to meet the needs of all the students, and we need to give them a bit more time.

Practising at home: Earl Grey Bread

Practising at home: Earl Grey Bread

There are a total of 24 breads in the basic module, and it’s impossible for me to list all them here in this post. If you are interested to see what I have done, feel free to search for them on Instagram with the following hashtag: #mavcbakes. Besides bread, you can also find cakes that I’ve learnt with ABC Cooking Studio. I have also signed up for all their basic cakes, all 18 of them, however I still have a couple more to go before completion.

I am so thankful to have started on this bread making journey. I’ve not only picked up a new skill, (which I think I am quite good at!), I’ve also made many new friends.

First bread for master class; Plain Loaf

First bread for master class; Plain Loaf

I am now deeply in love with making breads, and constantly experimenting new recipes on my own. I am always looking for people to exchange recipes with, if you have a love for breads too, please connect with me! I would love to exchange tips and recipes with you!

I shall leave you with a picture to make you drool! 🙂

I made my own breakfast with the plain loaf I baked. :)

I made my own breakfast with the plain loaf I baked. 🙂

Neurogenesis: Grow new brain cells

Just a couple of days ago, I came across this very interesting Ted talk:

Neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret talked about how we can actually grow new brain cells. If we can grow new brain cells faster then the rate we use them up, it will improve our quality of life. It’s not just about becoming smarter, and cope better with greater challenges, it also makes us happier.

We are always under so much stress, that we produce so much cortisol. This is the hormone produced whenever we face stress, and they cause our fight or flight reaction. Overtime, these cortisol will damage the hippocamus part of our brain. I am not a doctor, neither am I a nurse. I just have a keen interest in finding out how our brain works, therefore I’ve read up quite abit on this area.

A little stress is good, but we feel overwhelmed when it gets too much. In worst case scenarios, we get eaten up by the stressful situation. We feel stress, and we produce cortisol. We try to fight and make the situation better, and if we failed, we produce even more cortisol. More and more cortisol gets produced, until they flood our brain. However deep down in our hearts we want to make ourselves feel better, and think of a solution to fix the problem, or even just to move on. When we see someone in distress, we will always tell the person to take it easy, go do something that makes them happy. I guess the whole reason to doing something that makes them happy is not just about producing endorphins. But it helps them to generate new brain cells, and they will help to combat the negative processes in our brains.

Sandrine has shared some very actionable advice on how we can improve on the rate of neurogenesis. If you only have time to watch 1 video this weekend, I strongly recommend that you watch this one.

 

Server Migration completed!

I am most grateful to my friend Peiyong for helping me migrate the server! (And also to allow me have my blog on his server! :p)

All the while I have been wanting to do more experiments with my blog. However due to WordPress limitations, there were much restrictions. But with this server migration, I can do much more things now! Previously I tried so hard to implement GA code on my blog, but I couldn’t do it. Unless I upgrade my WordPress account, which I refused paying for.

The downside of not using WordPress as a server anymore is you lose some of the features, such as social sharing functions etc. If you want it back on your blog, you got to insert them manually. For non techies, this can be quite a challenge. (I feel damn paiseh to ask my friend to help me on such small things, he’s done alot for me. I promise, I will bake him cakes and breads as rewards.)

Just want to say it again, THANK YOU Peiyong! 🙂

I GIVE UP!

It takes a lot of courage to say “I GIVE UP!” Sometimes it will mean that you have to open yourself up to many uncertainties. It is terrifying to think of the unknown. Have you ever come to the point of being so sick and tired of something, and you just want to give up? However you can’t bring yourself to make that decision, because you are not sure of what will happen, and you force yourself to press on? I think this is something that all of us can relate to.

As the saying goes, when one door closes, the other doors will open. When your hands are full, you cannot hold on to new things that you want. You got to let go of what’s in your hands, before you can pick other things up.

If you are feeling lost and fed up, maybe it’s time to say “I Give Up!” Give yourself a break, you will find it easier to take a step back and think through what is it that you want.

To thrive in life, you need to know when to let go of certain things. It’s tough and painful, but it’s a necessary evil. Once you let go, you can do the things YOU WANT.

Mark Twain