Saturday, November 29, 2014

the gift of friendship

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I found it really apt for myself, and thought it would be too for many of us teenagers out there. :-)

The best gift a friend can give is the gift of unconditional friendship, where there is no hate, no judgement, no annoyance nor tolerance, but only respect, genuine interest, and mutual understanding and effort. The gift of unconditional love.
To put bluntly, I feel that as teenagers reaching our dating years, that too often we try to (too hard maybe ) to find someone that has mutual romantic interest in order to achieve such a friendship, or rather, to find someone to share our lives with.
We all ultimately have a desire in our hearts to love and be loved. But it's not always in relationships that we the love we're looking for, unconditional, wholly encompassing love. After all, a relationship becomes the condition for unconditional love.
As a result of seeking a life partner to find unconditional love, it's easy to often neglect/forget about the very people who are around us already. The friends we have, that have always been there and will be there in the future.
We neglect to develop and deepen these friendships that already exist, learn to love our friends and foster our support network. When we come to the end, we look back we feel nothing but despair and hope for the time we waste.
This may seem irrelevant to some, but to those of you to which this speaks out to clearly, I want to encourage you to start making a difference. It's easy. Just look around you and identify the friends who have always loved you. The ones that have always been there and are always with you, and for you. And start deepening your friendships. 
Talk to them, spend time with them, don't be afraid of annoying them, don't be shy, but be there for them. Be wholly accommodating, accepting, listening when appropriate, advising where possible, and comforting when needed.
It is sadly true that people who are willing to love unconditionally don't come along often, but don't let it deter you from trying. Be wise to catch them when you see them, but above that, be willing to love unconditionally first. It'll be reciprocated eventually, and even if it doesn't, it's only a matter of moving on. 
We all need a helping hand to stand by in our lives lest we go through dark times, and we have to put in the effort to developing relationships before we can reap our harvest. And true friends are one crucial area of life that we can never have enough of.
Let's bring back the magic of true friendship and learn to love the way love was meant to be shown. I believe that love is not exclusive to just our life partners, but also our friends, and the people that we call colleagues, acquaintances, or even enemies. After all, the Bible in describing love never specified that it applied just romantically, but instead to all around us. 
1 Corinthians 13:3-7 MSG[...] So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.

SNYS Performance

Performed Dvorak's New World Symphony (Finale only haha) and Handel's Music of the Royal Fireworks with the SNYS winds last Thursday! It was at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory's foyer (which had pretty bad acoustics IMO :() on a weekday afternoon, so most of the audience consisted of proud parents/friends that we invited haha.

It was my first time going to YST so I got a bit lost, mistaking the NUS Museum for YST! I was left stranded in the midst of all the construction work until Jaben came and led me to the right place hahaha it was quite bad because I was wearing a long-sleeved blouse (I came straight from work!) and it was a sweltering afternoon.

We had lunch catered by SNYO and went to a nearby restaurant to eat because hobo-ing around the foyer felt really really sad. So we found the ulu-est corner of the restaurant and sat there, hoping the staff wouldn't chase us away! After lunch, it was more or less self-practicing and run-throughs until show-time!

rehearsal

SNYS photo! Mrs Teoh was not in the frame so...

...the whole group moved a few steps forward so she would be in the frame as well, haha!

supposed fun-shot haha!


I didn't really ask my friends to come because most of them were overseas/busy/the performance was just a 15-minute or so thing...so it was sweet of Kai to take time off and come down!!! :'-) thx m8

The performance went quite badly I think hahahaha, with the most glaring thing being the general out-of-tune-ness. :-( Despite that, I did have fun playing! Maybe it's fun for the performers but not for the audience...oops.



the photographer/s wide-angle lens is so cool!!!!!!!!! I want to play with one one day hehe

After the performance (we were the first item), we went back up the the rehearsal rooms to pack up/goof around (a.k.a. take photos lol) It will be the last time I'll be seeing most of my YS friends because they've all promoted (sobblez I need to promote the next round) :((((((



Ashley and Sam, my fav NAFA kids!!! (ok they're the only NAFA kids I know haha but still)


Jaben the loser. He was complaining how we were standing so far apart HAHAHA 2bad


Took the MRT back to school with Qing Kai because we were supposed to settle some stuff for Tune In with Wei Ze! We went for an early dinner and then didn't get much done because we weren't very prepared...so basically the meeting turned into a lepak session haha! I was really tired as well but being tired with company feels slightly better I guess.


"Wait!!! Must make me look skinnier!"
"Okay why don't you turn to the side then, it makes you look slimmer in photos!"
"Like that?"

hahaha Kai you look great at all angles lah 🌚 (omg I found emojis for laptop!!!) 






sister chromatid undergoing anaphase




After Kai left, Clara became my lepak buddy haha she was practicing for RWinds rehearsal but they started an hour or so later so...

Yep that's about it! It was a rather eventful day with different groups of friends, and I did quite enjoy it :-)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chocolate Banana Molten Lava Cake


Adapted from my molten lava cake recipe, except that I added in banana to the whole mixture!

I had enough batter for two molten lava cakes. One was meant for my friend, so that meant I could have the other! However, I made the stupidest mistake a baker could ever make - I forgot to add in the flour.


batter of non-floured cake!!!

batter of floured cake!!! (it does look more ~structured~)

Thank goodness I only had one ramekin, so I was able to add flour to the second batch's batter! I only realised my mistake after baking the first cake for 20 minutes and seeing it still wet! It was quite a hilarious mistake I suppose. I did try the failed cake, and it tasted pretty good! Sans the fact that it was more of banana-flavoured melted chocolate, I think the batter is a more or less successful one. :-)



My friend told me that the cake (with flour) was really good!!! So I take his word for it (even if he may just be a little biased...) and you should too! Try the recipe out and tell me how it tastes :-)))

Fudgey (and Healthy!) Avocado Brownies


With all my recent baking adventures, I felt extremely guilty, for both myself and the friends who have been eating my bakes. Ingesting tons of butter and sugar certainly does no good to anyone. Also, I wanted to bake something for my colleagues to thank them for being so welcoming to me during my internship! The firm I was interning at was an international firm (London-based) and so they were mostly expats. There is a sort of stereotype that expats tend to be more health-conscious, hence to be on the safe side, I definitely needed a healthy recipe. And so I scoured the Internet for healthy baking ideas.



This is probably the oldest trick in the book, but using avocados (a fat-busting superfood) to substitute butter (a fat-bomb)??? I'M IN!!! Another incentive was because I wanted to convince my avocado-hating friends that avocados weren't as bad as they thought it would be!!! Suffice to say that they were convinced, after trying these brownies. :-)

(though Kai said they smelt like barbecued pork...what even?!?)

These brownies were sooo rich! I had to cut them into teeny tiny pieces or else it'll be way too overwhelming! There is only a hint of avocado. The chocolate takes the stage. If you don't like your brownies fudgey, I would advise you to control the amount of cocoa powder added. It makes all the difference.


What you will need:
makes about 18 brownies


two ripe medium-sized avocados

two eggs

two teaspoons of vanilla essence

a tablespoon of water

100g of semi-sweet cooking chocolate chips

a cup and a tablespoon of cocoa powder

one-third a cup of sugar (my brownies weren't very sweet, so adjust according to your tastes)

half a teaspoon of baking soda 



Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.

2. Line your brownie pan with a sheet of baking paper.




3. Slice the avocado into small chunks. Then, in a food processor, puree your avocado.



4. Throw in the eggs, vanilla essence and water in the food processor, blending until smooth. Pour the mixture out into a large bowl




5. Melt the chocolate chips (I used a microwave and it is fool-proof!) and mix through your avocado mixture in the large bowl.



6. Add in cocoa, sugar and baking soda, mixing until just combined. If your mixture is too thick, add another tablespoon or so of water to combine.




7. Scoop your mixture out of your large bowl, into your prepared pan. Smooth out the top and make sure you spread out the mix to all of the edges! You might not want the batter to be too thick.

8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and a skewer inserted removes clean. 

9. Leave to cool before taking out of the pan and chilling in the fridge. Slice and serve chilled. The wait will be worth it!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

thoughts

Over-analyzing every single thing is incredibly tiring. There are a ton of things that I wish I had the courage to say, things I wish I had the courage to do. I convince myself it's the right thing to do, the appropriate thing to do. To keep my steely silence. To not be the first to "break". Yet there are times my resolve weakens, and I'm unsure if what I've been doing is wrong. I want this all to end. For someone to do something. Till then, I guess I'll just keep on hoping.


Blueberry Lemon Muffins


Lemon and blueberry isn't a combination that I would immediately think of. But since I had blueberries and lemons to clear...why not? I don't think I regret this yolk-decision, because the marriage of tangy lemon to sweet blueberries is amazing. Of course, who can discount the fact that the blueberry stains look gorgeous against the bed of rich yellow (that is the lemon). Yummy and pretty? I'm all in! (and you should be, too)




All lazy bakers rejoice! I was too lazy to rind and juice actual lemons, so I substituted the lemon juice for lemon extract and did away with the zest altogether. I can confidently say that there is little compromise in taste.




These were intended for a gift next week but I don't think the muffins will last till then... Oh well, another reason to bake more, then!



What you will need:
makes 7 muffins
a three-quarter cup of granulated sugar

half a cup of butter

three eggs

2 teaspoons lemon extract

one and a half cups of all-purpose flour

half a teaspoon of baking powder

a cup of fresh blueberries tossed in a pinch of all-purpose flour


 Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 176°C grease a muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add the lemon extract and beat to incorporate.



5. Combine the flour, baking powder into the wet mixture. Be sure to not over-mix!

6. Scoop the batter out into the muffin tins, filling them up only about one-third full.



7. In a separate small bowl, add the blueberries and sprinkle with a pinch of flour, tossing with your fingers to coat. Flouring the blueberries helps prevent sinking while baking. :-)




8. Evenly sprinkle half the blueberries over the batter in the muffin tins.



9. Top the tins with remaining batter.



10. Top with remaining blueberries (if there are any left, that is).

11. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center crack comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. At the 40-minute mark, I would recommend tenting the pan with a sheet of foil (loosely drape a sheet of foil over pan) to prevent the top and sides from over-browning before the center fully cooks through.




12. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes! Best enjoyed fresh from the oven. :-)