The Bread Machine

The weekend is always dangerous. It’s especially dangerous when I find myself in the electronics section or in the kitchen appliances area. If I am in the Apple Store too long, I get tempted by the iPad 2, the MacBook Air or even the little accessories. Suddenly my iPhone feels like it needs a couple more accessories. (I already have three brand new cases waiting to be used. I’m stocking up for when iPhone 3GS cases become hard to find… :P) At the moment, the universal dock is tempting. I can charge my phone on it at night without taking up space on my bedside table and it’ll look pretty on its stand..hmm

In the kitchen appliances area, I’m drawn by all the baking materials. Yes, I enjoy being a girl and cooking although I am also a working woman. I enjoy cooking. For me its like I get to go on a little vacation and create a few things. A stir here and there, pop it in the oven and suddenly you get a new creation. At the same time, it’s also relaxing and gets your mind off things. Yes, my house is full of cooking books, and machines of all sorts. We have the yogurt maker, crepe machine, fondue set, all sorts of baking trays and cake pans. The house is overloaded with cooking materials, utensils and all sorts of machines. This past weekend’s newest addition is the bread machine.

Of course nothing beats making bread the traditional way by hand, but with so many things to do nowadays the machines are always so tempting. Here, I can just pop the ingredients into the machine and roughly three hours later, I’ll have fresh bread. How absolutely wonderful. I can use it to make pizza dough or just bread dough so that I can take it out to put in stuffings. I can make fruit breads, carrot bread, or any kind of bread. All this, without getting my hands dirty. This is exciting stuff.

I can even pre-programme the machine so that it starts later on at night. This way I can wake up to the fresh smell of bread. Ahh…what I good dream. Tonight I’m trying it out. Lets see what the results are like. So far the dough looks promising and thinking about it is giving me little bursts of joy. I’ll have fresh bread soon!

Although I love all these machines and gadgets, I have to admit that I wonder if one day I will be overwhelmed with all these machines. What do we do with all the unused items? What will this earth do with them? I still have my Palm V since the days when PDAs were the chick thing to have. The younger generation no longer know what it is. It still works wonderfully but it is mostly left to sleep in my drawer. I could throw it away, but it’s such a pity to throw something so good away. So what do you do with all your unused gadgets? Do you recycle them or keep them? What do you think?

Not to forget my bread machine, if you have a bread machine, how do you like it? ūüôā Do you have any good recipes to share?

Watch What You Carry

Health is a very important part of our lives and being in poor health can be detrimental to one’s quality of life and affect greatly our lifestyles. It can also affect our postures and our characters. Imagine someone who is constantly at pain when walking or their arms and shoulders give them continued problems. If you watch them, every now and then they’d stop walking, maybe walk crooked or suddenly rotates their shoulders in an upward movement as if some strange tick was making them move. No matter how good looking they are, or how well dressed you are, this sudden tick of the shoulder can give the person next to you some doubts to your sanity.

Shoulders used to be a big problem area for me and I realize also for my colleages. Afterall sitting at the computer ten hours a day typing and clicking away on the computer isn’t exactly what humans were designed to do. We’re supposed to be hunters and gatherers. That’s how our ancestors lived. Nowadays, we sit, eat, and sleep.

My shoulders used to be perpetually tight and whenever I go have a massage, the lady would shake her head and tell me I have to come more often. (I always wondered if this was their way of making me a regular customer, but it felt good nevertheless.)

Now massages are a great way to relieve tight shoulders and heal those aching muscles, but they are not getting to the root of the problem.

What I discovered to be my main problem was the height of my keyboard, mouse and the bag I carry. The first two I am sure you all know what I am talking about: Ergonomics. Make sure you are sitting ergonomically when you work. Keyboards should be at level where you can just drop your arms down and your shoulders are relaxed.

If you do a lot of powerpoint and excel, like me, I suggest you invest in a mouse of your own. For awhile I had lots of trouble with my hands. I didn’t have energy to write with my right hands and they felt somewhat out of place and twisted. It was awful and annoying. Luckily, Alex got me a wonderful ergonomically friendly mouse by logitech called “Trackman.” I got the cordless optical version and I have to tell you it works wonders. Your wrist stays still the entire time and I no longer have any problems with my right wrist and hand.

Another problem that was causing me trouble was my handbag. (Yes ladies, if you are reading this, handbags can be a big problem for your shoulders.) I like to put a lot of things into my handbags and throw it on my shoulder. If I’m out walking around, I can be carrying it for hours on end. My shoulder ends up carrying all this extra weight and unknowingly, your shoulder has to lift a little to keep the handbags from falling off.

I switched to a handbag without a shoulder strap so that I won’t throw it on my shoulder. I went through my belongings and threw out things I didn’t need. Discount cards are now left in my car. Nowadays my shoulder is less tight and I feel much better. I don’t need massages as often and it feels more balanced.

To be even better would be to take up Yoga and stretch the tightness away. I keep doing it on and off, but if you can do it regularly, your body will thank you for giving it a good workout.

Now I better go stretch my shoulders..it’s been a long day infront of the screen for me. Take care everyone!!

Three Hundred Nights

Tonight is the night I break the lucky 300th post.   I therefore want to give a special note of appreciation and thanks to my dear readers.  For each and everyone of you have and continue to inspire me.  Your comments, your thoughts, and your support are an invaluable source of motivation for me to continue on writing.   I also want to thank Alex who is always there by my side prodding me along whenever I need it.  Thank you.

Without your support, Having “Me” Time would most probably¬†have been left to gather dust in a little corner and be one day labeled as “internet junk.” (Perhaps it might be¬†so¬†in the future, but not just yet. Not anytime soon.)¬† I have to admit that writing out into the abyss of the internet day-in day-out can be somewhat of a daunting task.¬† There¬†is so much out there.¬† The internet is a vast universe of its own and we occupy but tiny corner of it.¬† A nano sized speck invisible to the human eye.

For three hundred nights I have sat in front of my computer screen and for three hundred nights, I have smiled¬†upon seeing your comments and your support.¬† Thank you my readers.¬† You mean much to me and I hope that Having “Me” Time will continue to be a part of your lives.

Together we have lived through political turmoils, reflected upon lost lives, prayed for tsunami¬†victims,¬†¬†explored various¬†corners of this earth, and enjoyed the great cuisines of this earth.¬† Most importantly,¬†we¬†do all this without¬†forgetting that it is¬†essential to live healthy.¬† Life is full of such unexpected events and there is much to experience in this short life time of ours.¬† Let’s go out, have some “me” time and enjoy what this world has to offer.¬† It’s too precious to just let it pass by.

Take care and sweet dreams until tomorrow night.

Music for the Soul

When it rains, the soul gets soothed especially so if you are indoors listening to music.¬† It is even more soothing when you are indoors and playing an instrument.¬† It’s been awhile since I’ve played the piano or touched my flute, but something about the rain made me want to play the piano today and so I did.¬†¬† My soul was soothed.

Upon playing I realized that it’s been a very very long time since I’ve really just sat down and had some serious personal music time.¬† I don’t know if its the same for you, but going to college somehow ended the musical phase of my life.¬† I didn’t pursue anything musical in college, and together with classes and coursework, practicing on the piano or playing the flute was pushed aside.¬† It simply lost priority even though in highschool I was¬†in the band.¬† Oh well, I suppose that’s what happens.

Then you move, pack your musical instruments away and hardly see them again.  Then more than a decade after you start working you realize you miss that music, that part of life where you get to spend time stimulating the right side of your mind.  That little part of your brain which emphasizes creativity.  Creativity that we all need sometimes.  Afterall, with a little creativity one can solve many
problems.

Tonight I gave the right side of my brain a little exercise.¬† I felt like little sensations were running through my mind and it felt soothing, it gave a tingling sensation which is quite a wonderful feeling.¬† I imagine that’s a little of what Peter Pan must have felt like when Tinkerbell sprinkled flying powder over him.¬† Of course I might just be imagining all this, but it was fun nevertheless.

If you’ve played musical instruments in the past, are you still playing them?¬† Or is it gathering dust in a corner?¬† If so, take some time out and have a little personal music time.¬† You might rediscover how pleasurable it can be.¬† Remember, a balanced mind is a balanced soul.

The Rain Characters

If you live in Bangkok, drive, and find yourself caught in rush hour rain, then your usual simple journey back home can take on an entire new life and become an adventure of sorts.  An adventure from the seat of your car.  Today it took me two hours to arrive home.  It usually takes me half an hour.

There’s something about rain in Bangkok that just causes havoc.¬†¬† When it rains, it floods on certain roads.¬†¬†These floods cause cars to drive slowly.¬† Slow cars means slow traffic.¬† Then you have the crazy drivers that think they can push their cars through the traffic and end up blocking everyone else’s path, therefore causing even more road blocks.¬† Some end up causing accidents, thereby resulting in even more traffic.

I see these cars like characters in a racing game.

You have the good obedient drivers that follow the rules no matter what : the perpetually calm driver.

You have the usual obedient driver that suddenly realises following the rules results in being constantly overtaken by drivers who have no shame in breaking traffic regulations, and so they too decide to join the crowd. The obedient turned bad driver.

Then you have the completely selfish driver who totally disregards traffic regulations when caught in traffic and act like they are the only ones in a rush to get out of traffic, thereby giving them total divine right to drive however they want on the roads of Bangkok. These are the selfish drivers.

The selfish drivers open up new lanes, turn right from lanes they aren’t supposed to and try to overtake cars when there isn’t any space for them.¬† All this and in the end, they are caught in the same traffic.¬†¬† To make matters worst, they cause more traffic for others.

Then you have the little cockroaches.  (Not real ones of coruse.)  I call the little Tuk Tuks (three wheeled taxis) and motorcycles cockroaches for they squeeze in and out between cars, through cracks and holes, and any place they can squeeze through.  They are agile and flexible though they have a hard exterior.  Very cockroach- like.  Today out of the blue, a large one popped up besides me, decided to do a 90 degree turn and wriggle itself onto another lane beforing flying forth.  Amazing.

Not only are there cars and cockroaches in this adventure, there are other  characters that you must be constantly be alert of.  The out of the blue man that suddenly walks infront of your car in dark clothing.  The ever so calm ones who slowly cross the road whilst chit chatting.  The man in a rush with a hurried pace.  The grateful lady who hurries along with her child.

The characters in this adventure keep me pre-occupied, as well as my lovely iPhone and its NPR broadcasts.¬† How I love modern technology.¬†¬†Just when I’m settling in, ¬†the adventure ends.¬† You spend two hours in traffic and once you pass a certain junction, the roads are flowing as if all had been a dream.

I wish it were a dream, but now it’s drained me of¬†all¬†energy and so I shall have to go do some real dreaming of my own.¬† Happy driving and be safe!¬† Don’t be the selfish driver please!¬† Remember, others are also in a rush.

The Kitten Reminder

Tonight I am a little contemplative.¬† I think it’s perhaps because of what I first saw when I got out of the house this morning coupled with the scandals making headline news.¬†¬† Usually in my usual rush to work, the focus is about getting there on time, getting things done and ignoring all what else that might come between me and my goal.¬† I get a little frustrated when things don’t go my way.¬† So when you open the front gate and come face to face with “death” it can
be a little silent reminder on the brevity of life.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t someone by my front gate (if it were, I’d probably be in too much of a shock to write tonight.)

The “death” I saw was that of a young little kitten.¬†¬† At first glance I thought the little kitten was just having a nap by my neighbour’s house, but upon closer inspection I realized that it wasn’t moving, it wasn’t breathing and that there was dry blood not too far from the
kitten.  The little kitten was gone and lost to this world.  Its life cut short just like that.  One mistaken step out in front of a passing car. A second too soon.

This image brings me back to a particular memory that has been embedded in my mind for a couple of years now.¬† It’s like a video clip that would not erase.¬† It’s about a little puppy whose life was taken right before my eyes.¬† The worst part was that there was nothing I could do about it.¬† Playing on the pavement, this barely three month old puppy decides to play a game of hide and seek by the wheels of a car that was stuck in traffic.¬† You probably can tell what happened when the traffic lights turned green.¬† There I was witnessing all this and completely helpless in my car.¬† In the space of a minute, the puppy’s life was no more and it ceased to exist.¬† Just like that. One mistaken decision.

So the kitten and the puppy had a similar fate.  Who knows what our fate will be?

One mistaken step, one mistaken turn, one unexpected move.¬† Our lives too could be gone in a matter of seconds.¬† Sometimes when you don’t get what you want or things don’t always go your way,¬† it isn’t always necessarily a bad thing.¬† It might even be for the better.¬† As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining.

As it turns out, those who got to work late on the fateful day of September 11 were the lucky ones.¬† So when things don’t always go your way, rather than be frustrated and use up all your energy;¬† I think the best way is to take a deep breath and be reminded of the brevity of life.¬† Enjoy each and every minute of your life for who knows what will happen next.¬† See the good things in life.¬† Be positive.

No one knows what will happen tomorrow.¬† What you do know is that when life is gone, it can never be taken back.¬† Not even for a split second.¬† Death is final. So do what you want to do and say what you want to say before you can’t.

Bangkok Dining: Buttercup @ Amari Residences

It’s been a busy few days for this writer but fear not, she has not forgotten Having “Me” Time.¬† It’s¬† has become a part of her life that can no longer be separated, for no matter how much there is to do, you must take time out to enjoy it a little, experience the moment, remember the little things in life.¬† One such way of course is to reunite with friends, chit chat, catch up on each others lives and all this while enjoying good food and good atmosphere. (Girls always like the nice ambiance)¬† Last weekend, I had the opportunity to explore this cafe and restaurant called “Buttercup.”

The name itself is so adorable it brings me back to my childhood days when you still ran around on the grass and got your hands dirty with dirt and flowers.¬†¬†¬† We’d play with buttercups (yes the real flowers) and put them under our chin to see if its beautiful shade of yellow would reflect onto our chin.¬† If it did, it was supposed to mean that your wish would come true (or something like that).¬† How wonderfully simple life was back then.

This cafe and restaurant was just as cute as it’s name.¬† I’ve always liked bright colours and this of course, to go with it’s name, this place was decorated in a beautiful shade of yellow.¬† Not too bright, not too orange, this was a nice soft yellow with a tinge of grey.¬† The minute you walk in, you feel relaxed.¬† I suppose the fact that it also borders on a beautiful lush green courtyard garden and the fact that it was raining the morning I went gave it all a more relaxed atmosphere.

There’s a table to greet with you a selection of scones, cookies and other little decorations.¬† There’s a large bookshelf cutely decorated that gives it a more homey atmosphere.¬† There are also plenty of magazines and newspapers for you to pick and choose.¬† If you want to check out the cakes, there is a large selection for you to choose from.

The seating is also quite nice.  You can sit on couches, normal dining tables as well as outdoors if you dare to brave the heat.  I suppose it would be a good place to come back in the winter months.  All the seats are comfortable so you can sit there and spend time with your friends for quite a few hours.

What’s on the¬† menu?¬† We tried chicken pot pie, spring rollls with ham and cheese, mini burgers,¬† fried chicken wings,¬† sphagetthi carbonara, spicy spaghetti with mushrooms and cake.¬† The food I thought was good and something you can come back again to.¬† It’s not out of this world delicious Michelin star level, but it’s a good everyday restaurant where you can come back again and again.¬† My favorite was the sphaghetti.¬† Both the carbonara and the spicy one were delicious.¬† Being a fan of pies and anything with puff pastry, I also liked the chicken pot pie.

Drinks and service? They had quite a selection of drinks from their own unique expresso with strawberry sauce (which my colleague tried), smoothies, and I had the green tea latte.¬† Now I’m particular about not having syrup with my drinks and always make a note to ask for it on the side.¬† In other restaurants, I might get a somewhat confused look from the waitress, but at Buttercup they understood my request.¬† A few minutes later, as desired, my green tea latte came with syrup on the side and no whip cream.¬† I have to tell you it’s a relief to not have to ask them to redo drinks.¬†¬† Service at buttercup therefore gets top marks from me.¬† Everyone was friendly, food was on the slow side, but we spent the time chit chatting way, and they got the orders all correct.

So if you are looking out for a place to catch up with friends, reunions or just somewhere to go have a relaxing brunch on the weekends, I think Buttercup is really quite a little discovery. It’s quiet and there isn’t a buzz of people everywhere.¬†¬† Oh the prices are also quite reasonable.¬† Most dishes range from around 180thb to 250thb.

Here’s their website:¬† www.buttercupbkk.com¬† They open from 9.00am to 8.00pm and their number is 02-319-9630 if you need to make a reservation.¬† Bon appetit!