Two of Us

This one’s for you

When those nosy aunts and uncles bug you to get married, they fail to mention the fact that marriage is hard work. And why shouldn’t it be? Like all relationships, a marriage certainly needs all the work it can get in order to be wonderful, brilliant and alive. Beyond the starry-eyed fascination of the oh my God we are married! stage lies a terrain that is yours and yours alone to mould. How it develops is up to your own hands and how much effort you want to put in.

Sometimes, I lose track of all these things. I forget that as much effort as I am putting into this marriage, he is putting in just as much. It’s so easy to let things slide and let my worst side emerge. But he’s never complained and he always sees the good in me.

This one is for my love. Happy 11th anniversary!

  1. Thanks for giving in to me on most things, especially when it came to adopting the cats.
  2. Thanks for making breakfast for me everyday, without fail, so that I can sleep in.
  3. Thanks for sweeping and mopping the floor every weekend, and leaving me free to potter around in the kitchen.
  4. Thanks for spooning the food into your mouth stoically even when the food is less than delicious.
  5. Thanks for making me laugh every single day.
  6. Thanks for always believing in me and my talents.
  7. Thanks for getting along so well with my sisters.
  8. Thanks for not complaining about the disproportionate proportions of the closet and the shoe cabinet.
  9. Thanks for loving the cats as much as I do.
  10. Thanks for getting me all the music, movies and TV shows that I want.
  11. Thanks for getting all the wired/wireless stuff sorted out so that I can surf the net in bed or play music wirelessly from the iPad on the speakers in the bedroom.

All photos taken by the very talented Al the Awesome.

Foodnotes

Happy meal #27: Just jamin’

I’ve been meaning to whip up my own home-made jam for the longest time, after seeing how Jamie Oliver did it on his show. And then I had the brightest idea: instead of buying gifts for our friends this Christmas, why don’t we make them something?

And thus, Project Christmas Jamming was born.

I started in November, testing with a small batch first. We ate some and gave some to our family, who promptly gave us positive reviews. Mr Thick loved it too, and we finished our little jar pretty quickly.

Because I started canning the jam so early in the game, I decided that sterilizing and vacuum sealing the jars were necessary for the jam to last, especially in our humid weather. Basically, it involves dunking the jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes and sticking them into a warm oven as you prepare the jam. Once you have poured the finished jam into the jars, leaving a 0.5-inch gap at the top, put them back into rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes. Let cool overnight – you’ll find that the centre of the lid should be slightly dented.

The actual process is NOT difficult but the preparation work can be tiring. I was standing at the sink hulling strawberries for what felt like forever. Standing over the hot stove stirring and stirring was not fun at all – not when you multiply it by three or four Sundays.

Turthfully, it wasn’t the most cost-efficient gift, what with buying the strawberries, sugar and jars. And it truly is a labour of love because it involves hours of standing on your feet. I started out not realising how much I had bitten off. But then, when I saw the finished product at the end of it all, the quiet satisfaction made all the hard work worth it. And that was what defined this Christmas for me – putting in effort and love into something useful, instead of buying meaningless gifts.

What you need:
(Makes about five 0.15l jars)

  • 1kg strawberries, hulled
  • 250g blueberries, washed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Directions

Fire up the oven and place two small plates into the freezer. Put the sterilized jars into the oven over a clean tea towel, face down.

Put on an apron if you don’t want strange pink splotches on your clothes.

Mash up the strawberries and blueberries. (The first time round, I did it by hand but subsequently dumped the berries into a blender.) Be careful not to over-mash it though, you want some texture. This should give you about 4 cups of berries.

Pour the mashed up berries, sugar and lemon juice into a sturdy and deep pot over a gentle fire. You need a pretty big pot because everything will bubble up and trust me, strawberry jam on your stove is a bitch to clean up. (I used my biggest WMF pot.) Stir until the sugar dissolves completely.

Push the flames up to medium-high and stir. (I didn’t dare to put it on high because I was afraid it would bubble out of my pot!) Stir. Stir somemore. Keep stirring! You don’t want your jam to burn at this moment. Stir for about 20 minutes. Once the mixture appears thickened like a gel, turn off the heat.

Put a small dollop onto one of the plates that was in the freezer and return it to the freezer. After a few minutes, take it out and push it gently with your finger. It should appear wrinkly. If it doesn’t, put the jam back onto the fire and cook it for a few minutes more and then try the gelling test again.

Once it’s done, ladle into your warm jars, close the lid and proceed with water bath for canning.

**********

You can’t really skim on the sugar because it acts as a preservative. The lemon juice adds a nice tangy taste to the jam and does double duty as pectin, which holds the jam together. I tried using powdered pectin but I couldn’t seem to get it right and just abandoned it altogether.

We stored the jars in the fridge until it was Christmas time and then took them out to be packaged. This time round, husband got his hands dirty and helped to prettify them.

I may be biased but I thought they were pretty dang tasty and cute. Heh.

Now, what can I make for next Christmas?

Letters to

Balls of steel

Dear Tiny Human to be,

Yes, as you can see, I have changed your name. Sooner or later, I hope to be able to remove the “to be” in your name. Sooner please, of course. I’m not sure my bank account can handle any more of the “to be” status.

(Note to husband: Good sperm, hello! GOOD SPERM!)

After this whirlwind ride of the past six months, I have come to the sombre conclusion: infertility is not for the faint-hearted. Hence the title of the post.

Over the course of this period of time, I have undergone five IUIs, been jabbed half that number of times, had ultrasound wands stuck up my hoo-ha twice that number of times and taken countless hormone pills. I’ve had people stare up my hoo-ha in great interest and detail. I’ve also shoved medications up my hoo-ha, just like you would a tampon.

It’s not been the easiest of rides, I tell you. And not the most comfortable either.

And why am I telling you all these horrifyingly private details that will change the way you look at your parents forever? Because I want to ensure that you will be FOREVER GRATEFUL to us. For giving you the gift of life at such high personal expense.

Also, we have been saving up the receipts of our treatments for the day you turn 21. That’s when you need to pay us back every single cent for giving you the gift of life. Time to start saving!

(See, we are such great parents that we teach you the value of saving when you are not yet born.)

We’ve switched doctors and so far, he’s been great. On Christmas Eve, we did an IUI with him and the prognosis looks good, although he did mention that your Dad’s boys were a tad lazy, JUST LIKE HIM. (I added in that last bit myself. Good, eh?) But if you, the intended result, do not materialise, then I’m off to the operating table to get my plumbing checked. It’s also an indication that Santa Claus, contrary to popular notion, does not exist.

Did I mention that the surgery is going to cost me $5,000 or more? No worries, this will be going into that stack of receipts you will be receiving on your 21st birthday.

Because all these expenses have caused your Dad and I to be skint, we have decided that you will not be receiving birthday and Christmas gifts until you are 21. On your 21st birthday, you will get a beautifully decorated box full of receipts from us as your very first gift.

No need to worry so much, just, for the love of all things beautiful and Miu Miu, BE CREATED!

Love,
Your doting Mom

Geek Girl, Little Miss Shopaholic

Epiphanie Lola

After three months of drama and immense frustration at Borderlinx, the Epiphanie Lola camera bag that I had ordered finally arrived!

I had placed an order for it in early September but it was backordered all the way till end October. Which was perfectly fine with me because I wasn’t looking to getting a new camera anytime soon. I had it arranged to be shipped via Borderlinx and what ensued was a whole month of drama that made me tear my hair out and swear off Borderlinx.

(If you want the story, let me know and I will share it with you.)

Anyway, thanks to Joel’s recommendation, I managed to get the package re-directed to the very sweet and helpful Rachel, who promptly shipped it to me with much less fanfare and stress. Phew. She even kindly waived her service charges for shipping the Lola to me after hearing about my harrowing Borderlinx experience.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I had gotten me a new Canon 60D? I got it at a sweet price, thanks to a well-connected friend and it’s been a smooth ride so far. Loving it!

This was delivered to my doorstep one afternoon as I was working from home:

Fished this out from the dusty box:

They have this in black and turquoise but I couldn’t resist the fire engine red:

The interior of the bag:

The bag is padded on the inside, ensuring that my precious camera is safe and snug. It also comes with velcro inserts that allow you to configure the compartments for your personal stuff, the body as well as the different lenses that you are bringing along.

The icing on the cake for a vainpot like me? Why, it’s this cute little bag charm:

I took it out on Christmas day and it was fab. There was space for the 60D with the Tammy 17-50mm lens attached, the 50mm prime lens, as well as my own things. It doesn’t hurt that the Lola in no way resembles a camera bag. I know, I could have gotten a Crumpler or something similar at a lower price but come on, isn’t this bag a thing of beauty?

Think I’m going to be bringing out the camera a whole lot more often!

The organised chaos

Blessed Christmas

We’ve spent most of this Christmas with the friends away from the madding crowds. It’s been lovely – spending time with everybody, exchanging gifts and just sitting down at Starbucks having coffee and a bit of a natter.

Well, we nattered while husband tried to populate his Smurf town. Tsk.

I’ve always loved Christmas but this year, the enjoyment has shifted from wide-eyed fascination to a quiet appreciation. Husband and I have gone through a lot over the past six months and it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a roller-coaster ride and I’m just happy to sit back and chill. Instead of buying presents, I decided to gift our loved ones with something handmade and home made. I can’t craft for nuts so I turned to the one thing that I was decent at: cooking.

(But more of that in a later post.)

This time of the year has always been about reflections, hope, love and friendship. We’ve certainly had a lot of each.

Merry Christmas to you wherever you are!

Much love from Yann & Jimmy.

Photography

Universal Studios Singapore

When the theme park first opened, husband and I were adamant that we would not visit it. Our humid and sweltering climate would make queueing up for rides extremely uncomfortable. Plus, after getting our hearts enchanted by Disneyland in Tokyo, how could anything else from tiny Universal Studios Singapore come close?

As fate would have it, the cuz managed to get us some tickets for her company’s Family Day. (Sidenote: everyone needs cousins like mine, they are super awesome!) Thanks cuz and yay for husband and I! I mean, we didn’t pay for the tickets so technically, we weren’t going back on our words, right?

I have to admit, it was challenging going with a group that comprises of the matriarchs and a little man, who is a teeny weeny bit fearful of scary rides. I, on the other hand, am all LET’S TRY! I suspect that Mr Thick was secretly glad that the Battlestar Galactica rides were closed because I would have asked him to go for it with me and his queasy stomach would not have held. Don’t let his big frame fool you, the man has a fear of heights and gets all pukey when we take the bus facing backward.

We went mad at the Battlestar Galactica section though. To see our favourite TV show come to life – well, sort of – was nothing short of amazing. Bought a bunch of merchandise, yes, we were touristy suckers but suckers who LOVE Battlestar Galactica.

It was a tiny park and the rides were fun but I think it lacks a certain je nais se quoi. A bit of charm and personality, perhaps?

Kept the 30D home and brought my little plastic cameras out with me instead. Fab idea, really.