the third day of the month blues

blues pl n

1. a state of depression or melancholy

2. a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness

I recently observed that I am in a state of depression or melancholy every third day of the month. It has happened without fail for three consecutive months, so I’m convinced it’s a thing. Terrible things will happen to you every third day of the month.

Exceptionally, 3rd January 2014 went by smoothly. This affliction started with 3rd February 2014. It was the day I was to have my first mediation session at the Family Courts. I could make or break a person’s day (sort of). I had to actually make submissions (sort of) before a judge. I’m not good at public speaking stuff and needless to say, I was terrified. And sleep deprived. This was also the Monday right after my trip to Penang over the CNY weekend, where I had barely nine hours of sleep over three-and-a-half days. On top of everything else, I was fighting holiday withdrawal symptoms while trying to adequately prepare for the mediation session. Of course, it was no surprise that I was depressed that day. The mediation was fairly successful however (I was deeply grateful that there were no emotional scenes), but I returned to the office to get told off by my boss on another matter. She must either have been in a bad mood that day or simply pissed off at me because she could not stop calling me that day to scold me on several other matters. Obviously, it didn’t help that I was still facing holiday withdrawal symptoms and sleep deprived. Talk about feeling the blues that day. Since too many things had happened to make it a memorable lousy day, I didn’t think the blues had anything to do with the fact that it was the 3rd of the month.

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we’ve had pretty sky days recently

Before I knew it, February was over and I was overwhelmed with work on 3rd March 2014 (thanks to irritating clients who instruct us at the last minute), managed to piss of my boss (again, I’m really good at this apparently) and naturally, I was depressed. Melancholic. In a state of deep unhappiness. Surprisingly, I was perfectly fine the next morning. Perhaps all my whining (to whoever I could get hold off) helped. Or maybe it was because the sun had set and rose in the east again and the date on the calendar changed from the 3rd to the 4th. Whatever it was, I was flooded with work (to be fair, everyone was flooded with work, and there isn’t a public holiday in March. We officially hate March) but despite all of that, I was happy that month.

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shophouses and skyscrapers

I thought I was (finally) getting the hang of things, but 3rd April 2014 had to come along and the pattern repeated itself. AGAIN. Such that I am convinced the third day of every month is guaranteed to be a bluesy day. A depressing one. Things will happen that will make you pissed off at yourself (I mean, myself) and the entire world in general. You will lose your patience at the slightest thing, and also lose your appetite (which is really sad. I love food.) I hate being depressed. And I dislike crying, though I know I do it often enough that people can’t help but think otherwise. Come 3rd May, I’m more than sure a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness would overtake me. It’s unavoidable.

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Now that we know this is a guaranteed affliction, we need to be prepared. Such as by having some form of chocolate within easy reach, so that you can stuff your face when the blues hit you. Even if you lose your appetite, chocolate will still be welcome (If even chocolate doesn’t help, it’s too serious and professional help is likely needed.) Since I only just discovered this condition, I didn’t have anything at hand to ward off the blues on Thursday (the evil 3rd day of the month). Friday went by smoothly enough, but I still needed comfort, so today, I treated myself to a single serving chocolate lava cake. Which turned out beautifully melty. I’M SO HAPPY NOW.

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I added a toblerone triangle in the centre of the ramekin to up the melty factor – it worked!

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I was so glad it turned out beautifully. A failed attempt might have been too much for me to take. By the way, the recipe for this gorgeous creation is found in the inaugural post. By gorgeous, I mean the recipe/innovation is a thing of beauty. Not my work.

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Can I have more, please?

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avocado pudding / smoothie

I have neglected this space for quite some time. It makes me sad. That I have not been able to keep up with my baking pursuits and sharing them here. It’s impossible to do anything apart from work and the other necessaries (shower, eat, sleep) during the weekdays and 48 hours during the weekend is hardly sufficient for you to make up for sleep deprivation, get some exercise, complete work that is due on Monday and/or during the weekend itself, catch up with your family and keep up with social commitments, much less indulge in your hobbies. By “you”, of course I mean me, myself and I. (Although I believe I’m not the only one who thinks 48 hours of weekend is hardly sufficient to accomplish all that a weekend is meant for?)

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All these just means my mixer and all other baking utensils have been collecting dust in their respective storage spaces. Oh wells. At least I did use my blender a few times. While baking requires setting aside at least 3 hours of my weekend, whipping up a smoothie or shake can be done on impulse.

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Such as this avocado smoothie / pudding I made last weekend. Although avocados are painfully expensive at the grocery stores this time (I have no idea why), I decided to just grab a few because it’s been too long since I enjoyed this treat. I like avocados made this Asian way, as a sweet, dessert-like concoction. I haven’t actually tried having avocado slices on toast with chilli flakes or something, which appears to be a common breakfast item, going by my Instagram feed and favourite American food blogs. I guess you can’t go wrong with avocados whichever way you choose to have them. Do try this Asian version if you haven’t – it makes you feel like you’re having a rich dessert, but without all the unhealthy fat and calories since all that creaminess is from the avocado itself.

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It was heaven in a glass when consumed cold and standing in front of the fridge past 1 am after a tiring day. Always good to end the day on a positive/tasty note.

Avocado Pudding / Smoothie 

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado

120 ml evaporated milk / cow’s milk

1 tbsp honey

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients till combined and creamy. Chill before serving/consuming.

Notes: Do add the liquid to your blender first (unless you’re using a powerful (and expensive) blender like Blendtec or something). These quantities of ingredients produce a pudding-like dessert. If you prefer a smoothie, as in you want to drink this with a straw, add more milk and blend until you get your desired consistency.

chocolate cookie crust no-bake cheesecake with berries

Hi! It’s been some time since we spoke. Kind of got caught up with everything else in my life.

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It’s also been two weeks since my birthday. For which I made this cake with the too-long name. And was very excited to share, but other things got in the way (some were really fun stuff, others not at all. both are however essential in life).

It’s really easy to eat, I mean, MAKE and addictively delicious.

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Well of course, where cream cheese is involved, the dessert would be undeniably delicious. That was one criterion for my birthday cake. It had to be delicious (duh), something my family would like, easy to put together (coz I didn’t have much time), and pretty. I voted for no bake cheesecake, coz I love cheesecake but I didn’t want to worry over a water bath making a baked cheesecake. I wanted berries because BERRIES. (And thank God there were still berries from Chile and Korea available in the grocery stores in January.) Then of course, I had to incorporate citrus into the cheesecake batter (in the form of lemon zest) and finally, I decided on a chocolate cookie crust for contrast (alliteration alert) instead of a plain old graham cracker crust.

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I drew inspiration from various sites for this cheesecake. That’s the beauty of a no bake cheesecake, it is flexible and would accommodate whatever combinations you fancy. Oh, this cheesecake does not have gelatin, so it does not get very firm regardless of how long you chill it. Since it’s harder to get neat slices, you could also serve this in tiny glasses – like cheesecake shooters – instead of assembling it like a cake.

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*I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I made and ate this!*

chewy cocoa cookies with chocolate chips

That’s a pretty long name for chocolate cookies.

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Note, these are not chocolate chip cookies, but cocoa cookies with chocolate chips. The recipe is from one of the first blogs that introduced me to the world of food blogging, the Orangette blog (Molly writes so beautifully), and I fell in love with these cookies the first time I made them. And proceeded to persuade everyone I knew to bake these asap, because I wasn’t willing to share the cookies that I had baked. I wanted them all for myself.

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This time, I was a lot more mature and brought some to share with my colleagues.

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The recipe makes a substantial number of cookies with just 57 g butter and yogurt is also part of the mix (an unusual ingredient for cookies, right?) yet each cookie is perfectly rich and chocolatey, like you would want a chocolate cookie to be. The only downside is that they’re not very photogenic, but other than that, these cookies would be anyone’s favourite! Unless you don’t like chocolate, in which case, I’m not sure if we can ever be friends …

Chewy Cocoa Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Recipe from Orangette blog 

Ingredients

1 cup AP flour

¼ tsp baking soda

⅛ tsp salt

57g unsalted butter

⅔ cup granulated sugar

⅓ cup light brown sugar

7 tbsp cocoa powder

⅓ cup plain yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

3. Melt butter. Add the sugars and sift in the cocoa (if there are lumps in your cocoa). Stir to blend well. The mixture will look pasty, like wet sand.

4. Add yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the dry flour mixture and stir to just combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.

5. Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to drop the dough onto the baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the tops of the cookies have crackled slightly and look set.

 

new beginnings

We moved to a new office on Friday! I was sad to leave the old place, because it had more space and privacy, but I was determined to take things positively, so I tried not to get too attached to my old room and looked forward to getting acquainted with my new one. It was also fantastic going home early (earlier than usual) on Thursday, because the server was down at around six thirty, so there was no point staying back to do work and I could leave after I was done packing. Moving has some perks!

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the old room

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I will miss such views from my window though! *insert sobs*

But! My new space is cozy and functional and I’m very grateful for it. I can’t wait to personalise it. Flowers are a must! I intend to decorate gradually, say over a week or two.

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Oh and I didn’t make any of the treats that I was dreaming of last weekend. Shame on me, I know. Well, I guess I prioritised family time and work last weekend. 48 hours was hardly sufficient for that.

view from one of the meeting rooms at the new place

view from one of the meeting rooms at the new place

This weekend was more about me-time. I watched a movie of one of my favourite actors (embarrassingly fangirl-ish), shopped (seriously need to cut down on spending, but it’s so hard!), and baked some chocolate cookies. They are my favourite cookies and because I’m kind and generous I’ll be bringing some to share with my colleagues tomorrow. HA.

I was very happy all week, for no particular reason, and while moodiness is trying to creep up on me since this morning, I have been trying to think positive thoughts, so that I can continue to be happy. Because being moody is no fun. No fun at all. It makes you look ugly, for one. Hopefully sharing the aforementioned cookies tomorrow will contribute to happiness, because kindness tends to have that effect.  I will share the recipe soon. Meanwhile, have a great week folks!

obsessions

How can it be 10th January already?! In fact the tenth day of the first month of January is coming to an end. OMG

Why is it that on Monday, time seems to go r-e-a-l-l-l-l-y slowly, but suddenly it’s Wednesday, your to-do list seems to be never ending, and 24 hours in a day is SO insufficient. I wanted to leave early today, given that it is a Friday, but before I knew it, it was suddenly 8.30 pm and I’m like whaaaattt how can it be 8.30 already!! And I r-e-a-l-l-l-y didn’t want to stay late on a Friday. So I packed up my stuff, including the file I need to work on from home, and left the office, with sympathies to my friend and a trainee who were still staying in the office. WHY is work so all-consuming!!!

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That’s a rhetorical question.

Despite all that all-consuming work though, I did spend time daydreaming about my favourite obsession, FOOD. This week, I was thinking about what I could make this weekend. I tend to have foresight when it comes to food / eating. Cookies and breakfast food turned out to be the focus of my brain this week:

1. Smitten Kitchen’s Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

2. Orangette’s Chewy Cocoa Chocolate Chip Cookies (I fell in love with these the first time I made them but for some reason, didn’t make this a regular in my household.)

3. Joy the Baker’s Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars (because I have canned pumpkin leftover from last weekend’s pumpkin cupcakes.)

4. Shutterbean’s Killer Granola and Pear Cranberry Walnut Bread (will it work with dried cranberries though?)

5. Deep Dark Flourless Chocolate Cookies (that I came across on Pinterest ages ago) 

I wonder if I will have time to bake this weekend though. Hmm, that would depend on priorities and sacrifices. But that’s too deep a topic, better dealt with another time. For now, let’s focus on the slightly frivolous stuff (since it’s Friday and my brain is exhausted). Essentially, I wanted to share a recent obsession of mine (that’s not food related) – headbands.

When used with headscarfs, they give a rather Arabian / Middle-Eastern look, which makes it a suitable style for special occasions and also whenever one feels like being dressy (but not on an everyday basis, because trying to look Arabian on a daily basis would be rather weird and annoying in Singapore, I think).

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The first time I tried this style, I liked it so much, I started buying headbands wherever I saw one that caught my eye. Yeah I tend to get obsessed, instead of simply liking something like normal people do.

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I wish I could wear such fancy headscarf styles to work, but of course, then I will lose all hope of anyone ever taking me seriously. Which will be detrimental to my career progression and we don’t want that. So I look forward to all the special occasions this year when I can show off these 😉

Perhaps I should create a special occasion for myself this weekend. Because next week is going to be insane, so I need to steal all the fun and rest I can this weekend. Because our office is moving, and I haven’t started packing! AND I have numerous deadlines, AND we’re moving to a smaller space, so I don’t even want to think about how I’m going to fit everything into my new room. At the same time however, I’m looking forward to decorating and personalising my new space. To start, it will be lovely if I could hang this on my wall! 😀

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(It will be a great source of daily motivation!)

in 2014.

2013 was kind of a big year for me, there were several milestones, challenges, learning, failing, growing up, together with lots of fun. So, 2014 has a lot of work to do if it wants to beat that. I think I’m up for it though!

My first weekend of 2014 turned out to be pretty intense. I had promised to make pumpkin cupcakes for my cousin for his engagement on Saturday, 4 January. Since the event was in the late afternoon, I had planned to bake the cupcakes on Friday night, make the frosting Saturday morning and frost the cupcake about a couple of hours before I had to leave my house (so that the frosting doesn’t melt.)

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I had bought all the things I required a week before, but realised I had forgotten to get the main ingredient – canned pumpkin. I don’t know what’s WRONG with my brain sometimes. Oh well. I stopped by the supermarket on my way home from work and got the canned pumpkin (plus extra in case of emergency). My cousin had requested for just 25 cupcakes, but being a typical Singaporean, I anticipated the worst (what if none of my cupcakes turned out decent?) and decided to bake a lot more. So I baked a triple batch of Smitten Kitchen’s pumpkin cupcakes. Do note that a triple batch makes a huge amount of batter! I decided the mixer wasn’t going to do a good job of mixing the pumpkin at the end, so I depended on my trusty arms for that part.

Thankfully, I managed to bake all 76 cupcakes successfully and went to bed 22 hours since I had woken up Friday morning. I love going to bed feeling accomplished

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However, the frosting was kind of disappointing the next morning. Instead of maple cream cheese frosting, I made cinnamon cream cheese frosting this time. Mainly because I didn’t feel like splurging on pure maple syrup. Anyway cinnamon complements pumpkin well. I wanted to use a large frosting tip because I badly wanted to get bakery-style swirls, but my trial run with the large frosting tip didn’t result in the swirls my mind envisioned. I’m not sure if it’s the consistency of my frosting or my skills, but either way, PRACTICE is called for!

Let’s not talk about the challenge involved in transporting 48 cupcakes. Can people involved in making these things please come up with cost-effective solutions for home bakers for transporting a large number of cupcakes? I have faith in you people. Actually maybe these things do exist in the market, but I haven’t looked at the right places. Yeah, that’s probably closer to the truth.

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Despite all my complaints however, I really enjoyed the process. It was the biggest project I had undertaken recently, I did all of the work on my own (including most of the washing up), and while they were not as pretty as I had expected them to be, they tasted just fine (in my humble opinion). I must thank my cousin for requesting something from me in the first place because I don’t think I would have voluntarily undertaken such a project otherwise. I sincerely hope his and his gorgeous fiancee’s family enjoyed the cupcakes! My family and I certainly did (I had many extra cupcakes  since I baked a triple batch – worrying has its benefits for sure!)

This gave me hope, hope for incorporating baking efforts, whether simple or elaborate, into my everyday life. To go back to my trusted recipes, to try something new. To put sweet, salty, creamy, homemade stuff into my mouth on a regular basis. That’s the best part, and if we’re being honest, that’s really the goal of baking here …

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