Category Archives: Home Cooking

Weekly Workout Round-Up (July 29-Aug. 4)

This was a pretty full workout week, including with a super long run on Friday.  I was coming off a weekend with a 22 mile run, as well.  Hello, intense marathon/ultra training!

Monday (July 29): Rest.

I am always tempted to get the week off to a strong start, but between heavier weekend training and a pretty busy schedule on Mondays, I’m often taking a rest day instead.  But I did manage to do some stretching and rolling, which was much appreciated by my tired legs!

Tuesday: Run (4 mi) & Spin

Oh, Tuesday.  So full of happy running enthusiasm!

Oh, Tuesday. So full of happy running enthusiasm!

Obviously there wasn’t much notable about Tuesday’s workouts.  BUT Tuesday’s dinner was pretty tasty.  I tried my hand at making baked calzones:

2 Tuesday Calzones

 

 

Fresh breadmaker bread + This stuff —>

Deliciousness.

= DELICIOUSNESS.

Best of all? We managed to devour them before the ambient humidity took all the crunch out of the crusty top of the bread!

Wednesday: Tempo Run (5.4 mi) & Spin

I had this Tempo workout on my schedule:

10-15 min EZ
20 min @ Tempo
10-15 min E

On this particular morning, KMN and I did what we call “running together-apart”: We ran our warm-up to the park together, then ran separately around/through the park for our tempo work (since we run different paces/workouts), then ran home together as a cool-down.

After the trouble I had with 2 x 10 min @ Tempo the previous week, I was a bit worried about getting this workout done.  But starting early, choosing a known course, and having KMN out with me helped tremendously – and I finished right on target!  Definitely a mental boost, for me!

Thursday: Body Pump

Post BodyPump stretch session: Knees are getting so low!  Three cheers for hip flexibility!!

Post BodyPump stretch session: Knees are getting so low! Three cheers for hip flexibility!!

I’ve been trying to normalize my work schedule a bit, and sometimes this means skipping morning or early evening gym classes.  On this day, I substituted a lunchtime BodyPump class at the gym closest to our apartment.  I usually avoid this spot because it is SUPER crowded, but at lunchtime on a weekday, I was actually able to get a spot in class – and still have space to move.  Although, I did almost get knocked out at the end of class by aunties rushing in to claim “their” spots for the next class!

KMN was out for a work event, so I made myself roasted veggie salad with balsamic vinaigrette, with a side (topper?) of freshly breaded/lightly fried chicken breast.

KMN was out all evening for a work event, so I made myself roasted veggie salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and a side (topper?) of freshly breaded/lightly fried chicken breast.

Friday: Long Run (27 mi) & Swim

This run will definitely get its own post, but in short – I am training for a marathon at the end of August and a 50K at the beginning of October.  I wanted to do at least two 26-28 mile runs as part of my 50K prep.  However, fitting both of those runs between marathon recovery (1-2 weeks, even if I take the marathon easy) and ultra marathon taper (2 weeks) didn’t leave that much time for TWO long training runs.  So I decided to do one in August, before the marathon.   [Remember this is a post from a few weeks ago – this run took place back on Aug. 2, making it 3+ weeks before my marathon.]

In short, this run was easier than expected, and in a flash, I saw all my other (shorter) runs with a different perspective.  Also, swimming after a long run is a BRILLIANT idea.  No, seriously: Brilliant.  You’ll have to stop back later for all the gory details, though. 🙂

Saturday: Run (3.4 mi) & Yin Yoga

I knew it was important to keep my legs moving, to flush any waste leftover from Friday’s long run – so when KMN went out for a run on Saturday, I joined him.  Of course, he made an entire loop around the reservoir (and then some) – I hopped off the trail and came home, for just a short, easy effort.  My legs felt shockingly good.

In the afternoon, I attended a Yin Yoga class, knowing that the extended stretching would be great for my legs.  Unfortunately, I made one crucial mistake: I forgot that the Saturday class isn’t taught by my “normal” instructor, who has apparently spoiled me.  I appreciate the way she presents yin, and talks us slowly and carefully through each pose, providing lots of options and suggestions.  For some reason, the Saturday instructor and I just don’t mesh as well.  So the stretching was good, but I didn’t exactly leave with a “zen” feeling…

BUT this Brownie a la Mode and I meshed VERY well for a Saturday evening treat at Neli's!

BUT this Brownie a la Mode and I meshed VERY well for a Saturday evening treat at NeLi’s!

Sunday: Run (5.2 mi)

Sunday night, "less-than-enthused" face.  There's a reason I usually run in the morning, folks!

Sunday night, “less-than-enthused” face. There’s a reason I usually run in the morning, folks!

As my marathon training has progressed, I’ve grown bored with all my normal routes.  Furthermore, I procrastinated this run until Sunday evening.  Dark + Bored = I chose a one mile loop near our apartment….and ran around it 5 times.  While this might earn me some odd looks from the folks at the bus stops, at least it doesn’t require much mental energy!  Chunking is easy: 1 loop at a time.  Plus, I can perform “track workout” style bribe myself: “Just one more” (and then another, and another, and another).  And somehow, it’s psychologically easier for me to be closer to home, even if I have to pass and re-pass my starting point repeatedly.

I finished with a little loop in the residential area behind our apartment.  While back there, a taxi driver slowed down and asked me for directions – a first for me, in Singapore!  [He was either really desperate, or knew that runners are good people to ask for directions.]  This amused me for the last half mile of my run.  It’s the little things!

And that was my week, in workouts and notable food.  Thanks to my super long run on Friday, my total workout time for the week came to 14 hours (exactly). Somehow, that number isn’t so hard to hit with a long run over 4 hours long!

What’s your favorite calzone filling?

Have you ever heard of “Emmental” cheese?
[This is called “Swiss cheese” in the US.  I went shopping for Swiss, couldn’t find any, thought Emmental looked about the same (color, holey-ness), and gambled that it was the right stuff for my roasted potato salad.  Subsequent research indicates that I was correct.]

And now, I’m headed out for yet ANOTHER Sunday evening run.  What is it with procrastinated Sunday runs???  Anyone else?

Views From Last Week: Workouts, Food, and Plantar Fasciitis Continues To Confuse

First order of business: Apologies to anyone who viewed my last post (on censorship) on the web.  I didn’t realize right away, but some weird coding in the links actually chopped the middle part out, resulting in an awkward and confusing topic switch smack in the middle, for about 12 hours.  But it’s fixed now.  Sorry, folks.

Moving on: While I was all busy last week making random lists about myself and answering deep, philosophical questions about the world (or myself), I was also (gasp!) working out.  And it actually ended up to be a pretty solid week, workout-wise.

Let’s go back 2 Sundays – as I alluded to in my “Days of New” post, my plantar fascia started feeling better last week.  After deciding to treat it with things that made it feel good (support, stretching, rolling, brownies), but to otherwise stop thinking (errr…obsessing) over it, that finicky PF started making drastic improvements.

On Sunday (March 17), I went for a 6.5 mile run.  No PF pain during the run, and it felt good for the rest of the day, even though we were bopping all over the place running errands.

Post-run Treat: Banana bread with Nutella.

Post-run Treat: Banana bread with Nutella. I think this is also a reasonably good plantar fasciitis treatment.

On Monday morning, I did a spin/yoga double-header with the awesome Sherlin.  If you have to do frog pose, you might as well giggle your way through, right??  [Frog pose = groin and hip agony.  In a good way…]

After an early morning workout, I was looking forward to gobbling up these roasted potatoes, leftover from dinner a few nights ago.  When we initially made them, I kept sending KMN to put them back in the oven, because they weren't crispy enough.  Well, when I reheated them, I sure did get them crispy...

After an early morning workout, I was looking forward to gobbling up these roasted potatoes, leftover from dinner a few nights earlier. When we initially made them, I kept sending KMN to put them back in the oven, because they weren’t crispy enough. Well, when I reheated them, I certainly got them crispy “enough”…

On Tuesday, KMN and I went out for an evening run.  This isn’t our usual habit, but he worked from home that day and had a few spare minutes in the evening.  We ran about 4 miles on a sidewalk/canal path loop near our apartment.  I was anxious to get back to the trails, but didn’t want to put too much extra stress on my arch, which was feeling pretty good.  My IT bands were tight, but that was expected after Sunday’s run.  And I had a little competition when I went to break out the new foam roller that night:

I did have to wrestle the roller away from Rhino and Ellie, who agree that it's the best new toy EVER.

Rhino and Ellie think this is the best new toy EVER.

On Wednesday, I tried a pilates class at the gym: disappointing.  I think the instructor was trying to teach a class appropriate to many levels, but never once did I feel like crying during the class.  My face didn’t even contort.  And I wasn’t sore the next day.  The best part of the whole thing? I walked into the studio in bare feet (this is standard), and my plantar fascia hurt…not at all.  Whoot.  And my workout was salvaged by a good, hard spin class with Alan afterward.  That RPM new release (58, I think?) has a LOT of sprinting intervals in it. Whew!

KMN and I usually spin on Wednesday evenings.  The class we take finishes at 8:45, so I usually try to have something in the slow cooker, ready for us to eat when we get home, tired-and-ravenous, around 9:30.  On this particular day, I had chicken soup in the slow-cooker, and I’d also set up the bread machine.  In a hurry to get to class, I had grabbed my breadmaker cookbook, flipped through, and hastily picked a slightly new recipe: “Oh! French bread! That would be nice with soup!”

I started throwing ingredients in the pan on autopilot.  When everything was added, I got to the actual text of the recipe, “Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until almost stiff and soft peaks are formed.”  Where were my egg whites?  At the very bottom of the pan, already under flour, gluten, sugar, salt, yeast….  Whoops!  So I did what any busy, waste-not, want-not gal would do: Stuck the pan into the breadmaker, and started it up.

The resultant loaf may have been a bit...dense, and not too fluffy or French-y, but it still tasted pretty good!

The resultant loaf may have been a bit…dense, and not too fluffy or French-y, but it still tasted pretty good!

Especially when paired with a bowl of chicken soup and a glass of cold lime juice!

Especially when paired with a bowl of chicken soup and a glass of cold lime juice!

On Thursday, KMN and I went for another short (4.5 mile) run, on half trails/half road.  Foot looooved the trails.  Foot loved the road.  I loved the foot.   🙂   In the evening, I dragged a cranky-pants Holly to yoga, and felt considerable better for it.  This also helped me feel better:

I felt even better when the falafel I made came out...SOOOOOO tasty!!!  I could have gobbled them all up, straight from the pan.  Gonna test a few tweaks, and will post the recipe after that.  This is a GOOD one, folks.

The falafel I made came out…SOOOOOO tasty!!! I could have gobbled them all up, straight from the pan. Gonna test a few tweaks, and will post the recipe after that. This is a GOOD one, folks.

I recently discovered that Sherlin teaches spin at another nearby branch of my gym, mid-mornings on Friday.  Not a convenient time for most people – but perfect for me.  I spun for 50 minutes, then rested/rehydrated/computed for an hour (thank you, Fitness First, for your handy lounges with Wifi!), then did BodyPump.

This is how the local coffee shops do "take away" (to-go).  I repurposed my purse-hanger as a coffee-bag-holder in the study.

This is how the local coffee shops do “take away” (to-go). I repurposed my purse-hanger as a coffee-bag-holder in the study.

I really appreciate that BodyPump only has 2 (out of 9) tracks that focus on the legs.  This means that I can get in a great upper body strength workout without killing my legs.  Depending on the rest of my workout schedule, I may keep my weights super light (or go without weights entirely) on the leg tracks.  This was the option I chose on Friday, just an hour after spin, and right before a long run on Saturday morning.

After the gym, I ran a few errands, snagged a little caffeinated pick-me-up, and made it home juuuust before a big rain storm.  Good thing, too – because I hadn’t brought my umbrella.

So the take-away message here is that I had a solid workout week, and plantar fasciitis is still super confusing.  For no particular reason (that I can identify), mine experienced a dramatic improvement on Monday and Tuesday, and was basically pain free from Wednesday onward.  I wish I could tell you my secret…but alas, I have no stinkin’ clue.  If I knew, I’d be bottling it up and selling it. Or giving it away.  Because no one should have to deal with the frustration of PF.   But for the moment, I’m feeling good.  Bonding time with the foam roller and calf stretching will continue regularly, though, I can assure you!

And with that…well, with that, it’s almost time to write THIS week’s workout wrap up.  Have a good one, folks!

Drinking coffee.  From a bag.  With a straw.  I love Singapore...

Drinking coffee. From a bag. With a straw. I love Singapore…

Are you one of those people who hates when bloggers post all about their workouts and their food?  Ooops…better remove me from your Reader, then….  😉

Which of these foods looks tastiest to you, RIGHT NOW?

Ever drink a warm beverage through a straw?  Does it feel weird to you?  (It does to me.)

How To Make a Really Delicious Roast Chicken (E-A-S-Y!)

So after having a little plantar fasciitis pity party here and here, I think it’s time for something a bit lighter.  So I’ll write about one of my (new) favorite pastimes: Roasting a chicken.  [This is also healthier than the ice cream habit mentioned in the above posts.]

My Dad jumped on this bandwagon a few years ago, and I distinctly remember my mother noting, “I love that he cooks.  And the chicken is good.  But we’ve had roasted chicken for dinner every single week this winter!”  I think KMN might lodge the same complaint soon.  [Not really. He’s amazing about eating anything I cook, pretty much without complaint, and pretty much always with gratitude and compliments. And I’m probably on the “roasting every-other-week” schedule these days.]

I would occasionally roast a chicken while living alone during grad school, but that always felt like a production, and a race to use all the meat before it went bad.  But now, I’m cooking for two people – so once we settled in Singapore, I decided it was time to get really good at chicken roasting.  Why?  Well, I don’t really like to cook meat all that much.  But a roast chicken is a foundation for a healthy meal.  And if I cook it early in the week, then the leftover meat can make its way into dinner for another night or two with any extra handling of raw meat.  Plus, I can boil the carcass to make chicken broth for soup at the end of the week.  With a little planning, one roast chicken is actually more like three meals, for us.  WIN.

So, in order to raost a chicken, we must first buy a chicken.  And in a new country, everything is an adventure: Even buying a chicken.  In a US supermarket, my choices are (basically) Butterball versus Perdue (or the farmer’s market).  At our local Fairprice in Singapore, I can choose from Fresh Pasar Chickens, Halal Chickens, Spring Chickens, Jumbo Chickens, Black Chickens, and Halal Fresh Pasar Chickens.  The first few times, I randomly grabbed whichever one looked good at the moment off the shelf.   Eventually, I remembered to ask my mother-in-law for help.  Here’s a quick translation of the local lingo (since this won’t matter for…well, for pretty much any of you, but just in case…):

Pasar Fresh: “Regular” chicken
Halal: Killed and processed in a way that is Halal, but otherwise exactly the same as Pasar
Kampong: The local version of “free range” – usually scrawnier, but some people think it tastes better.  Keep in mind that “kampong” isn’t especially standardized, so I’m not exactly convinced that I’m getting a more ethically raised chicken.
Spring: Young chicken. Some people think these more tender.
Jumbo: Duh.  If the name didn’t give it away, one look at them would’ve.
Black: Yep, they’re black: Skin, flesh, bones.  Interestingly, their plumage is white.  Black chicken is popular in Chinese medicine and especially herbal soups.  In my experience, the taste is basically the same as any other chicken – although some people claim it’s tougher.

I usually go for a Pasar or Kampong chicken, but not every option is available every time I go to the supermarket, so I’m flexible.  And although I’m not 100% clear on the regulations and origins of the chicken we eat (sorry, clean eating folks, sorry…I’m trying, but in a new place, this is a real challenge) – I suspect these chickens aren’t quite as bred/injected/modified as their US counterparts.  For one thing, they are smaller.  For another, they look more properly proportioned, if you know what I mean. I’m still learning about the food supply chains out here, but I’m already inclined to trust the standard supermarket chicken out here to be somewhat less chemical-filled, food-stuffed, and breast-heavy.

Furthermore, the chickens are slaughtered locally, and are offered “fresh”.  However, I should note that the day I actually took these photos was the third or fourth day of Chinese New Year – and all the chickens were labeled “Fresh”, with a second label slapped on that said, “Previously frozen.  Thawed on (date).”  Apparently use of the word “Fresh” isn’t strictly regulated, at least not over the holiday period.

Now, don’t expect that your chicken will come in a hermetically sealed package.  These small birds are plopped onto a styrofoam tray, covered in a thin sheet of plastic wrap, and put onto the shelf.  It’s pretty common that the wings poke through the plastic, or the plastic on top tears a bit, or the plastic simply starts to come unwrapped.  Hint: Remember to grab a plastic bag from the fresh fish section.  You can put your chicken in this bag, to keep the rest of your groceries clean.  And watch out – because there’s always a chance that your chicken will drip bloody raw chicken liquid on your list, shoes, and floor – if you aren’t careful:

Yes, I'm a spoiled American. Yes, I think this is rather yucky.  Yes, I smile, bag that chicken, and keep on moving.

Look closely and you’ll see the dark spots on my sneakers, too.  Yes, I’m a spoiled American. Yes, I think this is rather yucky. Yes, I smile anyway, get the chicken into the bag, pretend everything is normal, and keep on moving.

Doing this is exactly as hard as it looks, even for a biologist.

Doing this is exactly as hard as it looks, even for a biologist.

And don’t forget (friends from the USA) that once you bring your little Spring/Kampong/Fresh/Halal chicken home, you still have to remove the feet and head.  These parts are tucked into the bird’s body cavity for “display”, but they’re definitely still attached.  I debated whether or not to include this picture, but it’s part of my real-life experience.  So I included it, but I made it nice and small.  Don’t look if you’re squeamish.  If you’re curious, click for a nice big version.  😉  Regardless on your feelings about the chicken photo, I will share with you two truths:

1. This experience will bring you closer to your food.

2. A cleaver is a valuable tool.

But enough talk.  Let’s get this bird into the oven.  Speaking of ovens, pre-heat yours to 400°F (200°C).  Line your baking pan with foil (this saves much clean-up effort).  Then, rinse the chicken thoroughly  (remove the giblets, if included) and pat her dry, inside and out.  This is pretty important: If there’s too much excess water around, the bird will actually steam in the oven, rather than roast.

All right.  Are you ready for the hard part?  This preparation is really complex.  So complex, in fact, that these days, I do the chicken-touching parts with just one hand, so I have one “clean” hand to touch/move other things, and one “contaminated” hand for the chicken. (<– Paranoid biologist)

1. Mix ~1 Tbsp salt + pepper to taste [I use a lot of pepper; you can use less – remember that not a lot gets onto/into the meat, so no worries about spice.]
2. Rub mixture into body cavity.
3. Squeeze half a lemon into body cavity.  Stuff lemon half in there for good measure. (Don’t ask me why this doesn’t cause a “steaming” problem. It just doesn’t.)
4. Encrust the outside with salt or salt/pepper mix.  Be generous.  You should actually be able to see the salt.  This helps keep the bird moist.  Magic!


5. Roast for ~50-60 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. If the breast starts getting brown, fold some foil into a triangle and make a small shield to cover the breast (sounds very medieval, no?).  This helps keep the meat moist.  When I think it’s just about done, I use a meat thermometer in the thigh (should read 165°F) to confirm.
6. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes.
7. Carve: Remove legs and slice all the breast meat off in one slice per side (you can sub-slice these after removal).  Pick remaining meat off by hand.
8. Enjoy.  Trust me, it’s delicious.

Chicken breast slice, potatoes, and salad.  An unusually "meat and potatoes" meal for this household!

Chicken breast slice, potatoes, and salad. An unusually “meat and potatoes” meal for this household!

Another iteration: Chicken, stuffing, and carrots.  Also very "Meat and Starch".

Another iteration: Chicken, stuffing, and carrots. Also very “meat and potatoes”, but with stuffing, instead of potatoes. If that even makes sense.

These photos were compiled from several recent chicken-cooking escapades – including last night! Tonight, I’m on my own for dinner, so will certainly be enjoying some leftovers.  And I already have a nice container of stock sitting in the refrigerator.  Oh…the possibilities!

Do you have any special chicken-roasting secrets?

I’m still resting my foot, so I have to live vicariously through your running workout today.  Tell me allllllll about it!

This Week’s Workouts, and Life Lessons From Yoga

Ever since Sunday’s race, things have been pretty quiet over here, folks.  Mostly just workin’ and workin’ out.  As I consider the latter, it strikes me that yoga this week has been conspiring to try to teach me a thing or two.

On Monday, I went for an easy 2 km swim and took a Hot Yoga class.

Lesson #1 (Monday): Just try, and have fun with it.

I’ve been doing different kinds of yoga in various studios and at home for many years.  I find yoga to be many things: Centering? Yes. Calming? Usually. Challenging? Absolutely. Rewarding?  Mostly.  It’s also been a pretty serious face activity, for me.  The instructors are serious, the participants are serious – everyone is dedicated and intentional – and very, very serious.

Enter Sherlin.  She’s an instructor at the gym I attend, and about a month ago, I started going to a Hot Flow Yoga class she teaches.  Honestly, it’s really more of a Yin Yoga style class – lots of stretching, long holds, relaxing deeply into poses, etc. We don’t really flow that much.  But I appreciate the stretching, the timing is convenient (right after BodyPump), and Sherlin doesn’t take herself too seriously.  If you want a deeply meditative class, this isn’t the right one for you.  Sherlin passes the time in the long holds by helping us steady our breathing, by reminding us to stay strong…and by telling stories and jokes.  I must laugh out loud at least three times every class.  This is so different from most other yoga classes I’ve attended, where even cracking my knee too loudly, or clearing my throat, seemed to draw unnecessary attention to myself.

So in class on Monday, we were working on a complicated balancing pose.  She was talking us through the steps to get into it, and just before the release to balancing, lots of people were hesitating.  She kept talking us through it, encouraging, prodding – and eventually she said, “Guys! It’s OK!  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  You might fall forward (safely).  But try!  Just have fun with it, and try!!!!!”

Fun?  Yoga?  To be honest, this was a new idea me.  The thought has stuck with me throughout the week: Treat your practice seriously, but don’t get carried away.  Enjoy moderation, take a few risks, and have a little fun!  Not a bad life lesson, either, eh?

Mud on the hat increase my trail runner cred, right?

Mud on the hat increase my trail runner cred, right?

On Tuesday morning, KMN and I did one round of MacRitchie Reservoir (7.2 miles, to-and-from our front door).  We got out pretty early for our run, and I really enjoyed it – legs felt pretty good, despite Sunday’s race.  We were stalled briefly by a tree that had fallen on top of a swamp-surrounded “boardwalk” section of the path.  Eventually, we got down on our hands and knees and slithered under the trunk, getting cozy with some of the branches.  In the evening, I went to BodyPump, which was a pretty standard class.  However, I do think it’s about time to bump up some of my weights (chest, back, biceps)…  Encouraging, but a little scary!  I thought about tacking on a yoga class, but had some work to finish – and didn’t want to have a bad practice, just because I went in already wiped out from run/Pump.  One thing I wasn’t too wiped out for?  Cooking up some delicious shrimp for dinner, as an accompaniment to my quinoa salad:

The recipe is simple: Heat oil.  Saute garlic ~ 1 min. Add shrimp, cook ~2 min. Flip shrimp and pour in ~2 glugs of white wine. Cover and let reduce for ~2 min. CHeck color to make sure shrimp are fully cooked. Enjoy!

The recipe is simple: Rinse and dry shrimp. Heat oil. Saute chopped garlic ~ 1 min. Add shrimp, cook ~2 min. Flip shrimp and pour in ~2 glugs of white wine. Cover and let reduce for ~2 min. Check for done-ness. DEVOUR.

On Wednesday evening, I did a “real” Hot Flow class (not with Sherlin) and followed it up with a spin class.  Man, Hot Yoga + Spin is a ridiculously sweaty combination.  Extra training for running in the tropics, I guess!

Lesson #2 (Wednesday): Be flexible, in all aspects of your practice.

Our instructor began by reminding us that yoga is about flexibility – of the body and the mind.  It’s also about the element of surprise – and being ready and able to adapt to whatever poses the instructor chooses on a given day.  This was an important reminder for me, too: Don’t get ahead of yourself (or the instructor).  Relax, open your ears, and work through whatever is asked of you.  True in yoga, true in life.

KMN was stuck working late that night…so I enjoyed an egg salad sandwich on homemade (bread maker) bread, and a tangy coleslaw salad, with Mr. Lenovo:

Between the dressing on the closeslaw, and the pickles on the sandwich - I certainly got my vinegar hit for the night!

Between the dressing on the coleslaw, and the pickles on the sandwich – I certainly got my vinegar hit for the night! And yes, those are Wednesday’s leftover shrimp making a second appearance on the coleslaw!

I’d planned for a run today (Thursday), but my heel was feeling a bit sore this morning (Jeano, if you gave me your Foot Thing, then mine had better fix itself just as fast as yours did…).  So instead, I spent some time with ice and my tennis ball, and by tonight, it felt well enough to handle Body Pump and Sherlin-Style Hot Flow.  So, I headed for the gym.

Lesson #3 (Thursday): You thought you got the hang of Lessons #1 & #2?  HAHAHAHA!!  Try again!!!

Based on my experience on Tuesday, I increased some of my upper body weights for BodyPump, and thoroughly lifted my muscles to jello.  Sweet!  Then, I walked into yoga…and Sherlin wasn’t there.  We had a substitute instructor.  And he really wanted to flow.  We planked, and chaturanga-ed, and upward/downward dogged, and lunged…all while my exhausted muscled protested.  I didn’t want this challenging practice.  I wanted a nice, simple, hip/hamstring stretch session.  I was tired.  And although he seemed like a pretty nice guy, I got mad at the instructor (in my head).

Then, I remembered Wednesday’s lesson: Be flexible.  And I remembered Monday’s lesson:  Just try, and have a little fun.

So I worked on relaxing.  I tried to embrace my shaking legs, to breath through the tiredness, and to accept my practice where it was on this particular evening.  I tried to give the poses my best, to not be afraid, and to have fun.  I did the first two, although the third may have been a stretch (ha, ha) tonight.  But as class closed, I realized that my body was feeling good – tired, but light, limber, and stretched.  That’s some yoga magic right there, folks.

And finally…I love this shirt.  Thank you, Rozzy!

Please ignore the serious face.  A self-portrait this good requires lots of concentration, apparently.

Please ignore the serious face. A self-portrait this good requires lots of concentration, apparently.

Have your workouts taught you anything important lately?

Do you eat approximately 75% of your meals out of a bowl??
[I do, apparently.]

Chinese New Year, Days 8-15 and Cooking A Whole Fish

“The Jade Emperor is like the big poobah of Heaven.  The Kitchen God is like the snitch.”  -KMN

That pretty much sums it up, folks.  In traditional Chinese religions, the Jade Emperor is the ruler of Heaven, and the Kitchen God…well, the Kitchen God sits in the kitchen (surprise!) and watches over the daily activities of the family.  Each year, he reports to the Jade Emperor, who then decides whether the family should be rewarded or punished in the coming year.

The eighth day of the Chinese New Year is the eve of the Jade Emperor’s birthday.  At midnight  on this day (going into the ninth day), many people celebrate by burning incense and offerings to the Jade Emperor.  KMN and I live across the street from a large housing estate, and on this particular night, we saw at least 10 different groups of people in the small parking lot outside, lighting fires and burning incense and offerings.  Celebrations of the Jade Emperor’s birthday continue through the ninth and tenth days (details depend on heritage and religion), but in Singapore, they pass without much public recognition.

Apparently, on the thirteenth day of the new year, people eat vegetarian food, to cleanse their stomachs after nearly two weeks of eating and celebrating.  However, this isn’t a practice that I know from experience – it’s one that I read about during my CNY research, and I don’t think we actually ate vegetarian that day.  Ooops?

The holiday draws to a close with the celebration of Chap Goh Mei (literally, “the fifteen night”) on – you guessed it – the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year.  So maybe I lied when I said it was a two week holiday….it’s actually two weeks + 1 day.  Chap Goh Mei is also called a Lantern Festival (there is a different Lantern Festival in the fall), when people parade with lanterns, and hang them outside their homes to help guide wayward spirits home.

I'm married, though - so no phone number on this one...

I’m married, though – so no phone number on this one…

In some places -particularly Malaysia and Singapore, Chap Goh Mei is considered a kind of Chinese Valentine’s Day.  Apparently, long ago, this was the one time that young maidens were permitted to dress up and walk outside their homes (with chaperones).  Today, (supposedly) single women write their phone number on mandarin oranges, and throw them in a river or lake, while single men fish them out and eat them.  I don’t know what they do with the number.  I haven’t actually seen this happen in Singapore – and I somehow think that people would get arrested for littering, if they were caught throwing oranges into the Singapore River – but heck, Singaporeans, correct me if I’m wrong!

Sometimes, one branch of KMN’s family celebrates Chap Goh Mei with a big family dinner, but that didn’t happen this year.  Instead, KMN and I participated in URun 2013 in the early morning, did church/errands in the late morning, then relaxed and worked in the afternoon.   Then, KMN prepared us a two-person Chap Goh Mei dinner (not really, it was just regular dinner).

The smallest pomfret we could find.

The smallest pomfret we could find. You wouldn’t even know this guy is missing his innards (but he is). Just remember that the fish on display at the Fairprice fish counter aren’t gutted – but ask, and they’ll do it for you.

For weeks now, KMN has been talking about cooking a fish.  Like, not a pretty little fillet, but a genuine whole fish.  Now, I have no problem eating a whole steamed fish – this is a common preparation/serving style here.  I’ll discuss how to tackle that in another post one day.  But I’ll admit that I was feeling a bit leery of actually cooking a whole fish.  Growing up, my Mom cooked fillets.  But KMN’s Mom cooked a whole fish.  So I let him take charge – with a little help from Irene Kuo’s The Key to Chinese Cooking (which I’ve written about before, here).

In a pan large enough to fit the fish – good thing we got a small fish (Note to self: Buy bigger pan!) – he brought some water to a boil, and added fresh ginger and a chopped onion.  Once the water reached a solid boil, he slid the fish in:

The pan and pomfret are the same color, so not too much interesting to see, except the pomfret fit popped up as soon as it hit the water.  Do you see it?!?  The biologist was intrigued by this phenomenon.  More research will be required!

The pan and pomfret are the same color, so there’s not too much interesting to see, except the way that the pomfret’s fin popped up as soon as it hit the water. Do you see it?!? The biologist was intrigued by this phenomenon. More research will be required!

He immediately turned the flame as low as it would go and covered the pan.  We let the fish cook for about 15-20 minutes (Kuo suggests cooking until a knife “goes in easily and no pinkish liquid seeps out”), then slid it onto a serving plate.  KMN served the fish with rice and blanched greens, and a selection of dipping sauces: soy sauce, chili sauce, and vinegar.

The fish came out really, really well – very soft and tender.  Pomfret isn’t a very fishy-tasting fish, and admittedly – most of the flavoring came from the sauces.  But this was an incredibly simple and nutritious way to prepare fish – I’m glad KMN headed the effort to try it.  I’ll definitely be preparing fish for us this way again soon!

And that, my friends, is the end of the Chinese New Year series of posts.  If you missed the earlier ones, click to read about Chinese New Year PreparationsReunion Dinner, Visiting Days 1 and 2, Chinese New Year Treats, and Chinese New Year Days 3-7.  And with that, we’ll return to non-CNY posting.  But don’t worry, I have plenty to share.  [I know you were really nervous about that, right?]

Have you ever thrown a mandarin orange into a body of water on Chap Goh Mei?

Have you ever cooked a whole fish?  How?

Good Mornings For a Tuesday (Feb. 26)

*A few things from the last few weeks that didn’t fit into any other posts…Enjoy!

0 Shadow Play

Shadow Play
A rare afternoon of sunshine.
Allegedly, we’re moving into hot, dry season – but it’s pouring rain right now!
And I can’t argue with the breeze that’s blowing…

 1 Personal Capital Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas to Us!  Love, Our Investment Firm
I’m pretty sure the postage to get this here cost more than the mugs.
Hope they’re doing a more responsible job with our money…

2 Slow-Cooker Granola Failure

Slow-Cooker Granola
Another not-so-successful adventure with the slow-cooker.
This appliance has a lower success rate than any other I’ve ever owned.
But I keep trying – because it has the potential to be really, really useful!

3 Ramen Monster Note To Self: Remember to go here one day.
We’re still on the prowl for the Best Ramen in Singapore.
So far, our favorite is Santouka.

5 Peanut Butter

Peanut butter mixing success!!
I’m a huge peanut butter snob, and only eat all-natural varieties.
But of course, getting a brand new jar mixed up is a major pain.
New Method (inspired by Duane B.):
Let jar sit upside down overnight. Shake vigorously. Open. Stir as necessary.

6 Lots of Garlic

There is no such thing as “garlic in moderation” here.
This is the smallest amount I can buy at the grocery store.
I think we have to start roasting more garlic…

7 Library Trip

A mixture of work and play…
I love a trip to the library!
Obviously, my reading selections are rather eclectic these days.
And that’s about all I have for you right now.
Have a great day (or night)!!  🙂

Locals: Where do we get good Ramen?
Anyone: What are you reading these days? Do you recommend it?

[I usually read books on science, running, training, thriller/mystery fiction, travel,
and pretty much anything else that’s well-written and not too stuffy.]

Friends and Fellow Bloggers To The Rescue (aka I actually read all of your Comments!)

I started blogging as a way to share a little bit about what’s going on in my life with my family and a few really tolerant and supportive friends (Hi Sarah!) – and maybe add a tiny drop of insight and/or inspiration in the already crowded world of athlete bloggers.  What I didn’t realize – but soon learned – is that I could *also* use it to tap into the collective knowledge of my smart and generous readers.  I think about you guys every day now.  Let’s just take a peek into this past Wednesday…

Friends Can Teach You How To Disguise Your Bleach Mishaps:
Earlier this week, I added a photo of a favorite pair of pants-turned-capris to this post, and asked if you all ever modified ruined clothing so that it could be worn again.  Two fellow biology/chemistry folks (we spend a lot of time in proximity to bleach) informed me that bleach spots on black clothes can be fixed with a Sharpie. !!!!!  I’ve done this on black dress shoes before, but never even *thought* to use the same trick on clothes.  Thanks to fellow Drewids Elena & Meg for that handy little tip!

Fellow Bloggers Can Recommend EXACTLY The Product You Need:
Thanks to an all-day outdoors adventure this past weekend (more on that to come), I was nursing a beautiful collection of bug bites earlier this week.  Some of you may recall that, a few weeks ago, I unsuccessfully tried to find an anti-itch product in the grocery store.  Again – you all responded.  Heather suggested meat tenderizer (which I have to admit still makes me feel like a steak), and Kim (a third Drewid! Drewids ROCK!) suggested Smith’s Menthol and Eucalyptus Balm as the only anti-itch ointment that works for her.  She even generously offered to send me a tub from the US.

Then Jules, who blogs over at Sweaty Escapades, piped up.  She used to live in Southeast Asia, and recommended a product called Mopiko.  And what do I stumble upon a week later, while looking around the drugstore for tweezers?  Why, Mopiko, of course!

Mokipo

Mopiko!

The price of a small tube of Mopiko was just $3 SGD, so I figured it was worth a shot.  Especially since…Do you know what the active ingredients are?  Menthol and camphor!  Kim, it sounds like a local version of your favored balm!  So far, it’s done a pretty good job on my newest batch of itchy bites.  Win!

Food-Loving, Slow-Cooking Friends Can Share Their Recipes:
Awhile back, I solicited your favorite slow cooker recipes.  I intend to try them all, in time, but just happened to start with a chicken soup recipe that Elena suggested.  First of all, let’s just agree that the slow cooker and breadmaker are a great pair:

Am I a great matchmaker, or what?

Am I a great matchmaker, or what?

Now, Elena posted a good – but approximate – recipe.  Which I followed – approximately.  The best suggestion – for which I can’t thank her enough – was to put balsamic vinegar in the soup before cooking.  This might not be for everyone, but I’m a vinegar lover, so to me, this was a genius idea.  In fact, she suggested that vinegar + soy sauce + water could replace chicken broth.  I tried it.  It worked!

Chicken and veggies over pasta, with parmasean, and a side of fresh bread.

Chicken and veggies over pasta, with parmesan, and a side of fresh bread.

However, thanks to approximations of approximations, the final product was good, but not amazing.  The fault for that is all mine, though, not hers.  I made a few substitutions that weren’t the best, and I definitely didn’t use enough liquid at the start.  I’m still learning how much liquid to add, and how much liquid my veggies will release, so that I end up with the correct amount of liquid at the end.  But I’m still learning this, and this time, I totally under-estimated the liquid needed.  So we actually ate chicken and veggies with a little broth, rather than chicken soup.  Next time, more water!  And when I get the recipe ironed out, I do promise to share.  But most of the credit (just not the measurements) will go to Elena.

Other advice I took on Wednesday?  My husband’s.  After BodyPump and yoga on Monday and an intense spin class on Tuesday, I was contemplating joining him for another spin session on Wednesday night.  Knowing I had a long run my schedule for Thursday morning, he gave me a look at said, “You can do whatever you want, but what would you suggest to one of your clients in the same situation?”.  For the record, this is a very effective look.  I opted out of spin, and settled for back-to-back Hot Yoga and Yin Yoga classes.  This was definitely the right decision.  Thanks, honey.  🙂

So basically, in conclusion, I’m a lucky gal to have such smart people in my life.  Thanks, ya’ll!

If you love vinegar as much as I do, please suggest some other delicious way I can use it on my food.
[I already know that vinegar fries are the best.  Thanks, Seaside Heights and Mom, for teaching me how to eat ’em that way!]

Have you received any really good advice lately that’s worth sharing?  

Bug Collecting, Spinning ‘Til You (Almost) Cry, and Lazy Breakfast Dinner

I intended to go out for my run first thing Tuesday morning.  My good intentions were foiled when I made the mistake of opening my computer while my Garmin located its satellites (which, for some reason, takes twice as long here as it did in LA or Rochester. ?????).  An hour later, I was finally ready to hit the road.  And the trails.  So I wore my Salomon Cross-Max sneakers, which are specifically designed to handle a mixture of road and trail conditions.

I actually don't have cankles in real life, believe it or not.

I have rather normal-looking legs in real life, even though this photo suggests otherwise…

I had a 4 mile run on my schedule, so I did an out-and-back, road-and-path combo in MacRitchie.  The weather lately has been (comparatively) cool, and there was a nice breeze when I wasn’t on the actual trail sections.  I also managed to collect some “friends”:

Guess I was moving faster than I thought.  THREE bugs plastered to my forehead (my legs had some, too).

Guess I was moving faster than I thought.: No fewer than THREE bugs plastered to my sweaty forehead.

Thankfully, none went in my mouth (as far as I know).

I've got my eye on Chicago next...

Look out, Chicago!

After cooling down and cleaning up, I had a productive day of work – interrupted only for a few games of Pocket Planes.  Seriously…anyone else as addicted to that game as I am?  When KMN first started playing, I thought it was silly.  Then one day, with a few minutes to kill, I took over a game he had going on the iPad (he’d started playing on some other device anyway).  The rest is history.  I’ve built up a nice little network up and down the West Coast of the US, and am working my way into the mid-West.  Watch out, United airlines!

Somehow, relocating to a coffee shop helps me stay focused and productive, so I spent some of the afternoon working at the Starbucks at Fusionopolis.  The price tag is a little higher than I prefer for coffee, but in exchange I get a few hours of air conditioning, free WiFi, and a lot accomplished.  A decent trade-off for an occasional afternoon, I’d say.

Bonus: My evening spin class at the gym was just an elevator ride away!  This was a new class for me – an “Interval” spin class being taught by one of my preferred Hot Yoga instructors.  I’m not sure I understand the difference between “Interval” and “RPM” classes, though – We rode a recovery, then raced, then climbed, repeat – it seemed pretty similar to RPM to me.   Except WHOA – I didn’t realize how stern a task-master my yoga teacher would become in the cycling studio!  And she knows my name.  Killer class + Instructor calling me by name = Holly busting her tushie.  Or, rather, her quads.  I’m pretty sure I left more sweat on that bike than in any other spin class to-date (don’t worry, I wiped it down when I was finished).

And there were definitely a few points in class when I hit that face-squinches-up-near-tears moment.  [Dear Body: WHY?  WHY do you think that diverting energy to cry at this stage is a good idea? Do you realize how much energy that will take?  And the snot-consequences?  Can’t we just focus on pedaling? Please???]  At times like these, I have a special place I go, in my mind.  I may be spinning as hard as I can, legs burning, pushing to stay on the beat during an intense climb – but I close my eyes and envision myself in the final half mile of a hard running race, pushing to the finish line.  This is a feeling I know.  I may not like it, but I’m familiar with it, and I embrace it as part of the running experience.  So I relax my face and pretend that I’m running, running, running to the end of an intense race.  I give it all I have.  And I remind myself, repeatedly, that my hard work on the bike today will pay off during a future race moment, making it a little stronger, a little smoother, and a little faster.

After rolling out my legs – IT bands and calves, which have been rather tight lately – I headed home.  I used the subway ride to revise our dinner plan.  I’d intended to make crispy pan-fried potatoes and omelets, to use up some of the extra veggies we had hanging around.  But I was tired, and hungry.  So instead, we made a cop-out recipe that looked something like this:

1. Microwave potatoes and cut into bit pieces. Put on plate.  Add salt & pepper.
2. Scramble eggs.  Put over potatoes.
3. Saute garlic, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Put over eggs.
4. Reheat cooked chicken breast.  Put over veggies.
5. Top with pepperjack cheese.
6. INHALE.

Not pretty, but health and filling!

Not pretty, but healthy and filling!

We eat dinner pretty late around here, so by the time we ate, cleaned up, and chatted with my Dad (Hi Dad!!), I was done.  I was even too sleepy to muster one final bedtime round of Pocket Planes! Sorry, travelers – I left everything on my spin bike tonight and have no energy left to be an air traffic controller.  You’ll just have to be patient until the morning!

Are you a face-squinches-up-toward-tears athlete?  How do you fight off the feeling?

Any Les Mills trained spinners out there able to explain the differences between “Interval” and “RPM”?

Last Week’s Workout Roundup and Miscellaneous Food Photos

*Chinese New Year posts are on their way. I was so busy eating, visiting, and hosting that I didn’t have much time for blogging.  BAD BLOGGER!!  But trust me, the posts are coming.  In the meantime, a wrap-up of last week:

I was so busy talking about broken phone shenanigans, crock pot deliciousness, and preparations for Chinese New Year that working out has gotten short shrift.  I mean, I’m still working out, I just haven’t been talking about it.  Let’s take a look at what went down last week (plus some photos for those of you who aren’t so interested in the workout stuff):

Monday: Spin (Uneventful)

Fresh dough from the bread maker means homemade pizza!   Still refining for a *perfect* recipe...

Fresh dough from the bread maker means homemade pizza! Still refining for a *perfect* recipe…

Tuesday: 4 mile run (shocked when the alarm rang and KMN suggested the run!)

This photo is unedited.  Singapore has some pretty crazy sky-views sometimes!

This photo is unedited. Singapore has some pretty crazy sky-views sometimes!

Wednesday: Spin (I platonically <3 Alan at Paragon!)

Someone commented recently that it seems like we eat out a lot.  While we do eat out some, I also don't post every home-cooked meal we make.  For example, this slow-cooker chicken curry seemed very promising, but was actually very bland.  Meh.

Someone commented recently that it seems like we eat out a lot. While we do eat out some, I also don’t post every home-cooked meal we make. For example, this slow-cooker chicken curry seemed very promising, but was actually very bland. Meh.

Thursday: Body Pump + Hot Yoga (didn’t get the run in for a triple-header this week.  Boo!)

Proudly representin' Fleet Feet on the chilly subway ride home!

Proudly representin’ Fleet Feet on the chilly subway ride home!

Friday: Chinese New Year preparations (Do they count as a workout?)

KMN took the Auntie Cart to the supermarket to bring back some rations for the holiday.

KMN took the Auntie Cart to the supermarket to bring back some rations for the holiday.

Saturday: 9 mile run, as a Virtual Run for Sherry.

We shared one (very soggy) bib.  This is why you're supposed to protect it with packing tape, folks...

We shared one (very soggy) bib. This is why you’re supposed to protect it with packing tape, folks…  [I have no idea what I was watching. Obviously, not my husband with the camera….]

I momentarily stressed over the idea of using a memorial run to get to know a very new running friend – but figured that Sherry would probably approve.  So New Friend (who blogs under the misnomer Genetically Challenged Athlete – recent data suggests that she’s a perfectly legit athlete), myself, and KMN did a 6.5 mile loop of MacRitchie.  KMN and I tacked on a bit at the beginning and end, for a total of 9 miles.

With that pre-Chinese New Year calorie burn, we were ready to start celebrating. First CNY post (Reunion Dinner) is coming up soon, so stay tuned!

Any tips for getting a perfectly cooked crust from homemade pizza dough?

Any recent food flops??

Chinese New Year Preparations!

The supermarkets are packed.  Chinatown is bustling.  Offices are quiet. Everywhere you turn, you see red. Ah, yes – the biggest holiday season in Singapore is upon us: Chinese New Year.

For those who don’t know, the celebration of the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) will start this weekend.  Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally last for two weeks, during which people travel back to their hometowns, visit family and friends, eat, laugh, reminisce, and open their doors to a brand new year and (hopefully) lots of good luck.

In Singapore, where ~75% of the population is ethnically Chinese, the Lunar New Year is by far the largest and most widely celebrated holiday.  Chinese New Year is a floating holiday, with the exact dates dependent on the lunar calendar.  But typically, the two week celebration falls somewhere between the last week in January and the end of February.  This year, the New Year starts on Sunday, February 10.

The Chinese New Year celebrations have a rich cultural history, and I invite you to explore it with me over the next two weeks, as we visit, eat, and celebrate with my Singaporean Chinese family… .

..and the experience actually starts a week or two before the New Year.  Traditionally, the days leading up to the New Year are spent doing a very thorough cleaning, to rid the house of bad luck/spirits (and dirt!), and to prepare a clean and open place to welcome the new year, and good fortune.  So last Sunday after church, we fueled up with a tasty Chinese lunch at Min Jiang @ one north [5 Rochester Park Rochester Park].  The restaurant does not offer traditional, push-cart dim sum, but does have a small selection of dim sum offerings available.

They are specifically known for their Peking duck (must pre-order!).  We shared half a roast duck around our table of four.  The staff takes all the work out of eating duck (I felt quite spoiled).  First, the duck is carved, table-side:

This isn't a great photo, but can you see the duck in the background??

This isn’t a great photo, but can you see the duck in the background??

When you order Peking duck, it is usually served in two ways (you get both).  At Min Jiang, they provide a few small slices of skin to dip in sugar and eat “straight” – this tasty but oily delicacy was a bonus.  Then, they take the sliced meat + skin, shown on the platter above, and wrap it with some veggie and sauce in a thin crepe.  Min Jiang offers both a traditional style and a Szechuan style wraps.  Finally, the remaining duck meat is fried with rice and veggies and served on a lettuce leaf.

Overall, the food was very good.  Min Jiang @ one north isn’t a regular dim sum restaurant.  The selections are far fewer, and and the dining experience is more refined.  Although the price point was certainly higher, we found the food to be quite tasty (even my mother-in-law approved!).  I was also pleased to find that we didn’t overeat they way we typically would at a traditional dim sum restaurant.  Each order provided enough for everyone to try, but not gorge.  We finished feeling satisfied, but not stuffed. Good thing, too – because now that we were properly fed, it was time to tackle some cleaning!  First, we waited out a tremendous rain storm that dumped rain juuuuust as we were standing up from our table:

This downpour kept us at our table, drinking cups of tea, for at least 30 minutes...

This downpour kept us at our table, drinking cups of tea, for at least 30 minutes…

Fortunately, the rain cooled things off, and we were glad for that.  We headed back to my in-laws house and spent the afternoon washing windows, cleaning the wrought iron gates that cover the windows, polishing teak, and doing any other miscellaneous chores that require climbing, ladders, and/or wiggling into small spaces.

Inside Looking Out. Hi honey!!

Inside Looking Out. Hi honey!! On these windows, the wrought iron swings open, so you can easily clean the windows.

Outside, Looking In: I have a few choice words for whoever designed sections of wrought iron/window combinations that don't allow the window to be moved from behind the wrought iron.  This is my least favorite window to wash.

Outside, Looking In: I have a few choice words for whoever designed sections of wrought iron/window combinations that don’t allow the window to be moved from behind the wrought iron. This is my least favorite window to wash.

Between the rain, my sweat, and buckets of washing water, I was soaked – but happy.   I do believe that physical labor is good for us, and the day was a welcome break from many spent sitting at the computer.  The drizzle continued throughout the afternoon, and helped keep the air cool.

Photography Time Out

Photography Time Out

After a full afternoon of chores, Mom rewarded us with a home-cooked meal:

Mama N's Cookin': (clockwise, from top) Cashew chicken, pork meatball with veggies, and a cabbage stir fry.

Mama N’s Cookin’: (clockwise, from top) Cashew chicken, pork meatball with veggies, and a cabbage stir fry.

We headed home, tired and thankful that our crazy life journey has brought us back to Singapore for the time being.  Come back soon, because the New Year celebrations are just getting started, and I’ve got lots more fun stuff to share!

What’s your pet peeve chore?

Any guess as to how many shots it took to get the rain drop photo above?