The organised chaos

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I’ve been itching for a change for a while now.

No, it’s got nothing to do with finding a new job. I mean, I am likely to remain in this position for the next couple of years since a) I have no idea what to do with myself other than teach, b) nobody would hire me, c) I need the subsidised childcare.

(Although yes, changes are a brewing in the workplace, what with the change in management. I am adopting a wait-and-see attitude, the changes may not be pretty but necessary.)

One of the changes that I have been pondering is the change in our living quarters. Back when we first got the flat, I thought we would never move. There’s so much that I love about it – the light falling through our large windows, the airy balcony, the large living room space, the central location. And these are still what holds me back from shifting.

But when the boys came along and we hired a helper, the space is slowly taken up by their things and their needs. And this space is becoming less and less…comforting. No, that’s not the right word, my home is still a great source of comfort to me. Rather, I find more and more flaws in this home. And I think that I want a clean slate to begin again, so better design a home that’s more in tune with our current needs.

And yet I can’t bear to leave this place, our first home with all its light and huge windows and amazing location. Decisions, decisions.

Once upon a time...
Once upon a time…
The organised chaos

Calling the police

Once in a while, something happening in the block that we live in scares me.

Once in a while, we would hear a man shouting so loudly that it echoes across the block. There would be sounds of things – doors, cupboards, tables – being thrown or slammed. And sometimes, there would be sounds of somebody sobbing or screaming in return.

The ruckus would go on for a bit and I would freeze in the midst of whatever I was doing – bathing my baby, or putting him down for a nap, or cooking. And then just as I resolve to do something about it, the noise dies down into a strange silence. And I am left wondering if I had imagined the entire episode.

Most of the time, it happens in the day. Sometimes, it happens at night. Each time, I would wonder what was going on.

It happened today.

The man’s voice seems louder, somehow. The crashes, too, sounded explosive. I stopped for a moment, my heart beating fast. As I tumbled into the room to ask the husband to do something, I saw that he was leaning out of the window, trying to ascertain where it was coming from.

That was it.

I told him that I was going to call the police and handed the baby to him.

“You don’t even know which floor it is,” he pointed out.

I dashed out of the room. “I don’t care. What if someone is being killed right now.”

As the shouts continued, I rang the neighbourhood police centre and a lady picked up. I explained that there seemed to be a domestic spat and I was worried. She took my name and my number, and promised to send someone over to check. As I hung up the phone, there was a sudden silence.

It was over.

I don’t know if what I did was right, I don’t know if it would help in any way. I mean, by the time the police showed up, they would have absolutely nothing to work on. Maybe I should have gone out to check, floor by floor. Maybe I should have tried to ascertain which apartment the fighting was happening in.

Oh, I don’t know. I reacted instinctively, I wasn’t thinking straight. But I knew that if we did nothing, someday, someone would get hurt.

That afternoon, Aidan asked me why I had called the police. I didn’t even realise that he had overheard our conversation. I explained that something bad was happening and I wanted the police to help. And I decided to turn it into a learning point for him.

“We need to be the people who help, if we can,” I said. “It can be simple ways. Like if your friend is crying in school, you can give him or her a hug and ask him to play with you. Or if someone is being bullied, you can step forward to help him. We help when we can.”

I don’t know how much of it went into his head but it’s a good start.

My heart is still heavy from the episode today. Whoever it happened to, I hope that he or she is fine and safe.

The organised chaos

Enjoying home

I am currently typing this while sitting with my ass half out of my chair. Because my fat cat is occupying my chair and I decided not to move her out lest she starts her caterwauling outside the bedrooms again. She does this yowling thing almost every night, it drives us bonkers because, hello, SLEEPING BABIES.

Anyway, life is pretty much tiring these days. I am doing a lot at work and coupled with the lack of sleep, my brains are pretty much fried. Seriously. I wrote “Newspapers is not dead” in my lecture slides the other day and my kids laughed at me.

AND THEN I REPEATED IT ON ANOTHER SLIDE.

In a bid to prevent my brains from atrophying further, I am going to force myself to write. Write, write, write.

Well. Just the other day, we spent pretty much most of the weekend doing nothing much. We probably hit the supermarket and a park, and that was it. The rest of the day was spent at home. We had breakfast out and then I cooked lunch and it felt pretty good.

The thing is, when Aidan was a bubs, he hardly napped. Story of my life then. The only way to get him to nap was to baby wear him. And so, we went out. Every single weekend. We went out so that we could take turns to wear him and put him to sleep. And when he woke up, he was usually a delight and we would do stuff together. It was exhausting but that was our solution.

It has become our way of life. Come weekends, we’d pack our baby bag and hit the road. Sometimes, we go to the gardens, sometimes to the museums. Or a park. Or a mall to get my eyebrows done (do you really think I’d go to a mall to shop? C’mon!). Or a playground with a sandpit. I think we have forgotten how to stay at home.

But now that Aidan doesn’t really need a nap – although he does crash in the late afternoon for a short while – and Zac is pretty good at taking naps at home, I think we need to shift our way of living a little. Stay in, enjoy our lovely home and just be. There are recipes I want to try out and my three-year-old has his imagination to tide him through the day. The littlest is perfectly happy exploring the house and the man, well, he can survive happily on a deserted island as long as it has power and wifi for his gadgets.

Funny thing is, I actually love staying home. Don’t tell my kids but sometimes, I would take half day leave just to come back to an empty home while they are at daycare/grandma’s. I enjoy the quietness, the solitude, and the comfort of being, well, home.

Home is really where the heart is.

The organised chaos

The dining table

We finally sold our dining table today.

For a few reasons – space being one of them – we decided that our current table was not right for our needs and we decided that it had to go. And silly me, I sat on it for the longest time because I felt, well, sentimental.

It’s a good table. It’s a beautifully made one. We fell in love with it once we saw it and decided it was worth all that money to buy it. It’s seen us through several Christmas dinners, and New Year’s Eve dinners and birthday celebrations. We thought it was going to last us forever for it didn’t look like the sort of table that would be ruined that easily or quickly – it was sturdy, reliable and hardy.

But it had to go. And so I finally put it up for sale.

A lovely couple came by today, said they liked it and paid for it immediately. And when they left, I felt odd. Like, hey, my table was finally sold. Amid the sadness though, was also a tinge of relief. It was sold. No matter how hard it was for me to part with it, it had become dead weight, something that was dragging us down. We could not move on with our plans without it being sold, everything else was centered around it.

So yes, goodbye to my dining table. I feel a little silly writing about it but I told you I am a sentimental fool.

Everything Else

Last year’s Christmas eve…

We had some friends over for dinner and I put together a mis-matched meal for five.

I’m not terribly creative when it comes to table settings and you can so see it! The colours don’t go, nothing matches but ah well, it’s charming in its own quirky way.

And those drinking glasses – I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. My godparents used to run the snack/drinks bar at The Cathay before its current incarnation when I was a wee kid and my mom worked for them. I used to spend my Saturdays at the stall, scratching lucky draw cards and getting snuck into the cinema for a free movie.

In fact, the very first movie that I can remember watching on the big screen was The Fly, which SCARED THE SHIT OUTTA ME. The visuals of the protagonist metamorphosing into the fly was seared in my memory for the longest time.

Anyway, back to the glasses. When the owners of The Cathay decided to close the cinema, my godparents had no choice but to wind up the business and these glasses are what remained of the stall. Last year, I decided that they would belong to me and my mom was all too happy to pass them on. SCORE!

Two of Us

Christmas @ east end

This year, Christmas has come a little later to east end.

We’ve been both so busy, our weekends have been completely booked solid in November and December. It’s just madness, really. Where has the year gone?

Another reason why we are a little tardy with the tree is because we decided to do away with our fake plastic tree and get a real pine one from Ikea. The fake tree was driving us up the wall: setting up was a pain, it was dusty and disgusting from the previous year and it kept shedding even though it wasn’t alive. Gah!

The real thing only arrived in Ikea at the start of December and we had it delivered around mid-month. And then we were so swamped, we took a while to put up the decorations.

So here you go, a little slice of Christmas in our home.

Christmas has finally come home to us.

Foodnotes

Happy meal #34: Moist lemon cake

After months of not venturing into the kitchen – partly because the tyrannical Tiny Human was making me feel nauseous at EVERY SINGLE THING – I finally scratched that cooking/baking itch and made something.

I’ve forgotten how much fun it is to bake! Okay, so the washing up is a major PITA but it’s always so exciting when the warm smells waft out from the oven and your brains are going YUMMY YUMMY NOM NOM NOM. Plus, I love to use husband as my guinea pig and see his face go dinggggg when something tastes awfully nice.

Speaking of awful, I have come to realize that baking for me is not about making it look gorgeous. Unlike Rachel, Lady J and Sherie, I have neither the patience nor the ability to prettify my food and style it. Once I am done baking, I just want to eat it and then share it with others. In fact, it gives me joy to share my baking goodies with friends and family. It’s like therapy for me.

Maybe one day, I might fulfill my dream of opening up that cafe named Ugly Foods, where the cakes look a bit rough at the edges and the cupcakes have splotchy frosting. Hee.

Here’s the moist lemon cake that I baked over the Deepavali holiday. It combines two of my favorites: cake and lemon. And it’s super duper easy to make. What’s there not to love?

Easy Moist lemon cake
Adapted from Cakes (Page One)

What you’ll need:
CAKE

  • 225g all-purpose flour
  • 150g sugar (I used slightly less than that, about 125g)
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 90ml low fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

LEMON FROSTING

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice

How to make

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan (I used a round tin instead because I don’t have a square one)
  • To prepare the cake, beat the flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, lemon zest, baking powder and salt with an electric mixer at low speed until well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until pale and thick, 3-4 minutes. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan
  • Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack
  • To prepare the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Beat in enough lemon juice to make a spreadable frosting. Spread the cake with the frosting and tuck in!

The ingredients used for the frosting is only half of that listed in the book. I decided to reduce it because based on past experience, using the full amount will yield me an extra portion of unhealthy frosting. Which I will then proceed to eat STRAIGHT. FROM. THE. BOWL.

(PS Doncha love my new cake stand! Been meaning to get one for the longest time and scored this beauty at the Robinson’s Expo Sale for merely $25. Yay! Oops. Did I just show off my aunty-ness?)