Conversations over a cup of tea

Status

Image from Tea Zone

Alice and I thought of sharing our hobbies, loves, work, and views on a hodgepodge of topics to the rest of the world. We thought it would be interesting to talk about things that matter to us, boggle our minds, pique our curiosities, and enhance our brain powers while discussing them from different perspectives: as a single wanderer, still searching for her purpose in life, and as a homemaker and professional, with a lovely caring family of her own.

The two of us love to discuss just about everything. During our ramblings and conversations, some topics may not be for everyone’s taste but as we talk over a virtual cup of tea and teacakes, everybody is welcome to join the party.

Eugene

Eggless Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Standard

I’m so happy how everyone who has tasted my chocolate chip cookies loved it! (Well, Alice hasn’t yet because she prefers peanut butter cookies). So I am sharing the recipe below. Originally, the recipe came from Baker Bettie. I tweaked the original one to make it vegan and lower in glycemic index by substituting the ingredients:

eggless chewy chocolate chip cookies

eggless chewy chocolate chip cookies

Eggless Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks (220 g) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup coco sugar

1 cup muscovado sugar

1 egg substitute (I used: 2 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water)

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tbsp milk

2-1/4 cups (282 g) all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp fine salt

2 cups chocolate chips

  1. In a large bowl, beat softened butter and add sugar together until well-combined.
  2. Add the egg substitute, vanilla and milk into the mixture and beat in slow speed until incorporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture gradually until well-combined.
  5. Add in the chocolate chips last, and mix well.
  6. Allow to rest for at least an hour.
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and using a large scoop, drop 5-6 dough balls.
  8. In a pre-heated oven, bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly brown at 150 degrees Celcius.
  9. As soon as they come out from the oven, slide cookies off the sheets and let cool in a cookie rack.
  10. As they cool, store in an airtight container overnight for that wonderful chewy and soft chocolate chip cookies that are slightly crispy on the edges.

Perfect as your tea time munchies but best enjoyed with a glass of milk! :)

If you tried this recipe, let me know how it turned out.

 

Eugene

On Surviving Thesis

Standard

This blog space has been on vacation for more than a couple months while Alice and I have been very busy with work.

Originally, I wanted to write an article about my Singapore-Malaysian trip last June on “Not what to do in a trip when on a tight budget” but I have been caught up with too much work during the beginning of the semester that I totally forgot and have lost my earlier excitement of writing it. I’ll probably go back to the topic of vacation trips after my Mekong Tour Part 1 (since I’ll be doing that on a very tight budget as well).

A timely topic would be something related to school…  thesis! As an undergraduate college lecturer, I handle thesis students as consultant. It’s really painful to see them doing all the wrong things most of the time and headache-inducing when you have to figure out what they want to do for their thesis as they themselves are equally confused of what they are supposed to be doing. When I did my own, I encountered many difficulties and hurdles — most of them were mental and psychological ones (but I’m not writing about those now).

I am going to share some of the things that I did, which actually worked for me when I was doing my thesis, every time I felt like giving up. So these may not work for everybody, but it might just help if you’re one of those who feel like they have been stuck. It doesn’t hurt to follow them because it might hurt even more if you don’t do anything about it:

  1. Read, read, read.
    • First, always start with a subject that you like and are interested in. Then read all literature available to you.
    • Entertain those questions that keep on nagging at the back of your head, these can eventually lead you to what you really want to study on.
    • When the topic becomes clearer, narrow down the literature and keep on reading.
  2. Ask questions to come up with “the question”.
    • After you have decided on a topic, ask if it is really worthwhile and relevant for study.
    • When things become much clearer, formulate your research questions.
  3. Brainstorm with other people.
    • We need our friends. Or even our enemies sometimes since they can provide us with a different perspective!
    • You might be able to come up with a seemingly brilliant hypothesis, but to others it may seem too shallow. So it’s better that you see it from the start from somebody else’s point of view.
    • You have to uncover all possible loopholes before moving on and other people’s insights may show you what you have not looked into earlier.
  4. Write down your thoughts as they come along.*
    • Keep a research notebook and write down or even draw your ideas.
    • You might have to go back to these doodles later on to help you organize your thoughts.
  5. Sleep on it.
    • If you still get stuck despite your most diligent efforts, then the best thing to do is sleep on it!
    • This has worked for me several times in the past. Sometimes, when my brain is too tired I just sleep on the problem hovering on my mind. And voila! I see the solution in my dreams.
    • *When this happens, I immediately write it down on my research notebook. Most people use their phones or tablets but I like writing down my thoughts on paper. That way, I’m very traditional (and low-tech) I think but I still prefer this medium because it helps me see my thoughts better.
    • So remember, keep your notebook (and pen) beside you all the time, even in bed.
  6. Hang out with friends.
    • Just like what they say about losing weight, it is always much better if you’re doing it with somebody. Yes! It helped me that Alice and I worked together. We checked each other’s calendar and progress to put a little bit of pressure on each other. And we also pushed each other to finish.
    • Along the way, it helps a lot to have someone by your side encouraging you and knowing that you both understand each others “problem”.
  7. Look forward to the future.
    • Thinking ahead, thinking of the future really helped me finish my thesis. When I was feeling that everything looked so bleak and dreary,  I just thought of the things I wanted to do after I finished it. I am a positive person (most of the time) and I always think of the things I needed to tick off my bucket list before I turn 35.
    • By looking ahead, you get motivated to finish what’s on your plate so you can move on to dessert!

There are no short cuts and it takes a lot of patience. But the rewards are always great after you finish a research work!

Yoohoo! Have your own tips from getting un-stuck when in a research slump, Alice? Care to share them? ;)

 

Eugene

A Break: Day 14 of 30 by 30

Standard

I was not surprised
Not at all
I have always known
This will be my fall

But I did feel pain
Because I did not expect
That I would be rated
Subjectively without deject

I know I am not favored
I’m not saying I’m perfect
But own the decision and tell me
And give me even a bit of respect

I gave you a high regard
I thought you are fair
And seeing you in a different light
Fills me with despair

But know I should accept
So I can move on fast
This must be the sign
That now should not last.

For Wennie: Day 13 of 30 by 30

Standard

I hope I can do justice
To describe who you are
You’re one of the people I cherish
To be with me this far

A friend that is honest
Keeping everything real
Someone that I did not expect
that fate would reveal

It brought me a beauty expert
with a razor in hand
To refine both my brows in the office
luckily we were not banned

It brought me a fashion consultant
just like my brother
who criticizes my choices
one way or another

It brought me a showbiz channel
To tell me the latest buzz
From Kris to her friends
An update of all the fuss

It brought me a nutritionist
With all her weird diet suggestions
To drink liquid and eat soup
Such anorexic ingestion!

It brought me a comedian
That makes me feel better
When my life needs laughter
tickling me like a feather

But most importantly
It brought me a sister
Who knows all my dreams and faults
But still accepts me forever.

I made this one as a gift for my friend Wennie when she celebrated her 40th birthday party. It’s kind of highschool-ish but so is her personality. Even if she’s 40, she looks 18 that’s why all of her friends tell her that it’s her debut last weekend.

A Story: Day 11 of 30 by 30

Standard

I have heard about you
From someone of esteem
I have great expectations,
A promise of enjoyment and dreams

The story you tell
Immerses me in the middle
Everything seems real
But everything still a riddle

I am always anticipating
If my guesses are right
In truth I want what is good
Ending with morals upright

I struggle to keep up
The web that you spin
I emphatize and apologize
Reacting all on a whim

In the end I feel sad
Because I would say goodbye
To a friend that I had
Closing the book with a sigh.

Mine: Day 10 of 30 by 30

Standard

When I looked into your eyes
And held your hands
I saw love amidst your cries
Trying to understand

How I can’t calculate how much,
how far, Or how deep,
The feelings to match
I just knew you’re mine to keep

I want to freeze time
to hoard these memories
Making the ordinary sublime
Everything to cherish

But I know you will soon grow up
And live life your way
Remember that ever since I had you
Every day is always the best day.

tonight I lay me down to sleep: Day 9 of 30 for 30

Standard

tonight I lay me down to sleep

if i had to make one wish tonight
hoping that it comes true, i might
wish for a long and dreamless sleep
while on my bed and sleeping deep

but if my wish shall be denied
and in my sleep the dreams won’t hide
then let me wish that i had wings
so i shall fly while birds shall sing

and if my wish within the dream
comes true alas! then it would seem
in sleep, it is still day and i’m awake
just let me die, i’m tired, for goodness’ sake

if i’d be granted one wish tonight
promise, i shall live and make it right
grant me please, a restful slumber
so come tomorrow it’d be much better

Starting Young: Day 8 of 30 for 30

Standard

Little pink girls lined up in a row
Tight buns adorned with a bow
Graceful arms sweeping at the sides
Lady like movements and bodies that glide

Little pink girls that people adore
Smiling sweetly and dancing on the floor
Perfecting form, stance, and walks
Princesses in actions and in talks

Little pink girls dreaming of tomorrow
Oblivious to hardships and sorrows
All they want is to reach the age
Of applause, recognition, and flowers onstage

This post was inspired by watching my little girl in her ballet class.

Writing Back: Day 7 of 30 for 30

Standard

I don’t like to do it
It’s not my style
Please don’t make me fit
What I haven’t done a long while

I swear I have to keep
A clear head to think
If I decide after I sleep
That we just take that drink

Can you talk to me instead
And be a dear friend
I don’t want to write
I do not want to pretend

Eugene don’t kill me! My first ever poem is what I initially felt when I had to write a poem.  I swear I’m not as artistic or as articulate as my dear friend and making a poem is really frightening for me.  But after I did this I found it fun writing words that rhyme.  This reminded me of what I had to do when I was still in elementary.  So thank you Eugene for forcing me.

A Girl’s P(h)assion: Day 6 of 30 for 30

Standard

A Girl’s P(h)assion*

Wonderful patterns, colors, and cut;
Scarfs, blouses, skirts, belts and hats!
Too many choices, my mind’s in a whirl.
But how happy I am, I was born a girl.

Super sales, oh, and fashion blogs,
I’m glad I don’t have to wear some rags.
I shop to keep up every season,
I keep a job for a good reason.

I love to wear clothes of high fashion.
Dresses, shoes and bags are my passion,
And spicing them up with lovely earrings.
Yes! Being a girl is such a great thing!

Eugene

*I did not mean to misspell passion and fashion,
just thought I can save on some letters
if I write those two words together.

Alice and I had an online tea talk about clothes. She’s raving on the Uniqlo sale and the several pieces she bought. I loved some items she chose. I would like to drop by the store this week, too!

Burger, Fries and Milk Tea: Day 3 of 30 for 30

Standard

Burger, Fries and Milk Tea

First there was the Burger Project,
where we ordered Alice* at the counter.
The designer burger was not that perfect
but enough to solve our stomach’s hunger.

We added some Chili Cheese Fries
but that too didn’t meet our taste.
Disappointing as it had a costly price,
we thought it was such a waste.

We left our plates and on we walked
down the length of Maginhawa Street.
To continue with our deep tea talk,
we needed a place where we can sit.

What would put a smile on our faces,
we thought, milk tea sounded splendid.
Simple Line was the perfect place
to satisfy our sweet tooth. Oh yes, it did!

Eugene

* Alice was the burger name we coined for an order of chicken patty, vegan bun, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, onion rings, sauteed mixed mushrooms, tomatoes, and special BRGR sauce because lately Alice prefers to have lots of vegetables and non-beef items on her meals.

Politics in the Streets: Day 2 of 30 for 30

Standard

Politics in the Streets

National election is obviously just around the corner
When everywhere you go, there are bulldozers.
Clearing roads that are in good condition
Removing and building again for no obvious reason.

Dinner parties, cocktails, and champagne
Jingles and banners for campaign
We are all tired hearing empty promises
Of those who spend more but provide the least service.

For most of us who work and pay the taxes
This hard-earned peso ends up printing faces
on papers and tarpaulin pasted along the streets,
of people always smiling but who rarely use their wit.

Eugene