Life has been a wonderful sort of hectic in the last several months- Pris and I have celebrated Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, CNY, Valentine's Day and more. We've both added another year to our tickers and had some great experiences, including an unforgettable trip to Cambodia. I would love to share all of this with you, but we've recently received some life changing news (in a good way!) that is both the cause of the delay these last several months and the likely cause of a permanent end to our updating.
Before we do put a formal close to the posting I will share this news with all our readers, but in the meantime I hope you'll all hang on with me and wait for confirmation!
Thank you so much for reading about our experiences through the short lifetime of this blog. No matter if this blog is put to an end or not, we will always be happy to chat with any of our readers, and our posts will stay up even if we will not be adding to them.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Mooncakes (also known as yue bing) are a commonly featured treat traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Last Saturday, courtesy of a deal Michi found though Groupon, the both of us got to make our very own mooncakes in a hands-on workshop conducted by Scoopy's and Cream ice cream parlour.
|They've got the cutest logo ever!|
|We were making tiny little mooncakes in this workshop, so the quantities of the ingredients are a lot lesser. For the crust: 35g of fried glutinous rice flour, 35g of icing sugar, and 10g of shortening should do the trick.|
|Sieving the icing sugar and the rice flour...|
|...then adding the shortening. Mix well.|
|Next, prepare a mixture of 40ml of water, a tablespoon/teaspoon of condensed milk.|
|Add 2 drops of the food flavoring or food coloring of your choice - I used chocolate!|
|Make a "well" in the flour/icing/shortening mix and gradually add in the flavored liquid, kneading until...|
|...you get this. It's squooshy! And kinda gross looking.|
I'm also going to say that while most modern mooncakes have a wide range of fillings - from the traditional lotus paste to coffee fillings and even the local favorite/hated durian paste - we were provided with pre-made red bean paste in the workshop. Our worksheet has instructions on how to actually cook the red bean paste yourself, but since I'm not much of a cook and Michi doesn't fancy red bean, I'm not replicating it here. (Also, too much work.) Anyway, on to actually shaping the mooncakes:
|From the kneaded dough, pinch out 28g.|
|From the red bean (or azuki, or hong dou sha, or that gross black-red thing), pinch out 24g.|
|Roll both the dough and the red bean into individual balls, then roll out the dough to a thin spread about the size of your palm.|
|Next, place the ball of red bean in the center of the dough, on top of a sheet of plastic.|
|Start wrapping it up. Twist the bag around at the top to "seal in" the red bean and...|
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
First, a quick warning. This post is about BLOOD. It also has a picture of blood in a bag. If this grosses you out, please don't put yourself through it and scroll past this post!
(they even have a mascot!)
Back when I lived in Ohio, I made it a point to donate blood as often as I felt up to. I'm blood type O+, which always seemed in critical stock in my area, and since I fit the criteria in the States it seemed a necessary evil, even though I'm actually terrified of needles. And blood. Even making this post is kind of making me queasy, but it's for a good cause! Seriously though, I'm a huge baby and cry nearly every time I go- my parents can tell horror stories about me running through doctor's offices to escape the poor nurses tasked with updating my vaccines. Fortunately, I haven't yet run from anyone at blood drives, so I consider that progress.
At any rate, since I moved to Singapore about a year and a half ago I haven't attempted to donate blood, but after seeing a site detailing the current low stocks of type O blood, thought it was about time I gathered my courage again and went for it. It looks like at the moment the stocks have been raised out of the red and into the yellow, which I'm going to attribute to my own fearless bravery
stop laughing now.
(see, be nice. jerks.)
You would think that donating blood anywhere in the world would be relatively the same, but as there are a surprising amount of different criteria and things to keep in mind, I thought making a blog post and hopefully rallying a few more people to go to their nearest blood drive might be worth it. So first, a few of the facts to keep in mind:
- You have to weigh at least 45kg to donate, which is about 100lbs. If you weigh between 45 and 50kg you'll donate a smaller amount, but as the minimum weight for donation in the US is 110lbs, it's quite a big difference.
- For most blood drives, you don't need to register. I walked in at the Pasir Ris East CC blood drive and it was so empty I was literally through in under an hour, and if I wasn't such a baby could have been through in about 30 minutes.
- You can find a listing of upcoming blood drives here or head to one of the few blood banks in the country (Bloodbank@HSA or Bloodbank@Woodlands) any time.
However, they also shorten the process by having you answer that long list of repetitive questions about your health and history yourself through checkboxes, rather than having a nurse ask you or take time answering on a computer. Locals will need to bring along their IC for identification, and although it tells foreigners to bring their passports, my EP was all I needed to get through.
(by this point the terror was just starting to build, you can't read more than a hint of horror in my eyes)
The procedure after that is all normal. You talk to a nurse who checks out your info and makes sure you have no questions, go through the dreaded iron test (actually not bad, I had a great nurse and it didn't even sting a bit) and take a seat on the long chairs to await the donation.
Since it was seriously dead, they were pretty much waiting on me to get there and sit. Luckily it was all the same after that too, my extreme twitching and attempts to keep myself from crying even got the same response here as back in Ohio! That's when it gets different. Usually at this point in Ohio they'd stick me with a needle and I'd spend the next 5-10 minutes trying in vain to ignore the weird feeling and slight discomfort and do my best to not pass out after glancing at the slowly filling bag to my side. But Singapore is a haven for people like me, and instead they actually give you a local pain killer injection first. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you're as terrified of needles as I am, not having to feel the needle in your arm during the process is pretty much the best thing that could possibly happen.
(look, they even gave me a sticker since it was my first time in Singapore!)
I'd been really hitting the water a few days before donating, and I guess it thinned my blood a bit because my bag was almost full after about 2-3 minutes and I had to lie down to not pass out.
(serious, this was just barely more than a minute since starting)
But in the end I did make it through my first blood donation in Singapore and came out alive. I'll probably take a while to get my courage up again, but since it's a minimum 12 weeks between donations here, rather than the 56 days in the States, I've got a while.
Good luck with your donations and feel free to share any experiences giving blood in Singapore or around the world!
Monday, September 12, 2011
|I'm not much for kites and neither is Michi, but man does this site make for some pretty awesome photos!|
|And a redemption stamp to ward off the greedy folk. I'm not kidding when I say I've seen people walk away with ten bags hanging off each arm.|
The kites were, of course, the main attraction of the entire festival, and we were lucky to witness NTUC's own orange kite take to the skies. It was humongous!
|It needed two people to hold it up!|
|And up into the sky!|
|The tail was seriously long|
|My best achievement: 6 feet off the pavement for 3 seconds|
|What I should have done instead|
Saturday, August 27, 2011
August is a very special month in Singapore, with Singapore's National Day celebrated on the 9th. August 2011 is even more unique, with Hari Raya Puasa coming next Tuesday (30 Aug) and the Presidential Elections today (more on that later, Pris is actually out at her polling station right now and she'll be making a post about that).
Through the month of August, in celebration of National Day, all Singaporean citizens and PRs have free admission to the majority of museums in the country. Even better, on national holidays ALL people in Singapore are granted free admission. Pris and I have been taking advantage of this and while we haven't had much time to post about our experiences yet we have definitely been keeping ourselves busy.
Today, since I've finally got a few hours free (in between the Natas Travel Fair this morning and trip to Borders at Parkway Parade for special deals since the Wheelock Place Borders closed unexpectedly tonight) I can make the first of our museum posts- actually about the first museum we visited- Singapore Philatelic Museum.
For those who aren't in the field or involved in the area at all, philately is the study of stamps and postal history in general, and the Singapore Philatelic Museum focuses on stamps and the like produced in the Southeast Asian region, especially Singapore, as you can imagine.
Neither Pris nor I are very interested in stamps and whatnot and expected we'd likely breeze through the museum in an hour or less, but were pleasantly surprised that it was actually one of our favorites. No doubt learning the history of stamps and mailboxes can be boring, but with lots of exhibits and interactive things it made the trip much more fun. ...Actually, we were pretty childish through our visit and took advantage of their "stamp press" machines meant for the kids, where you can collect cute ink stamps on paper.
(this one was our favorite!)
There are plenty of exhibits and rooms to browse through, including a kid's room for drawing and cute stamp hopscotches on the ground, but we mostly just enjoyed the colors and look of old stamps and mailboxes.
While it's not the sort of museum I can see us stopping in to check out for each new exhibit, it's definitely worth at least one stop in if you have a bit of free time. Another benefit is that it's within short walking distance to the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum and the Peranakan Museum (yes, we also made stops at all of those!) so if you're looking for an interesting way to spend the day you can take quite a few hours between those.
There are a few other upcoming events if you haven't had a chance to visit yet. There will be free admission to all on Hari Raya Puasa (30 Aug), Deepavali (26 Oct) and a Stamp Fair held 11 Sept. Admission on days other than National Holidays is $5 for adults and $4 for children, and the museum is open 1-7pm Mondays and 9am-7pm Tuesdays-Sundays. You can easily reach by foot from City Hall MRT, Clark Quay MRT or Bras Basah MRT.
If you absolutely can't find the time to make it down but would like the see what they've got, you can take the virtual tour instead!
( but you can't see the old mailboxes unless you go in person!)