Lit up and
Only for you and as if;
Vitamins I had consumed, thus;
One of the topics of discussion with friend E was about giving in abundance. She wrote about the importance of seeing the motivation behind others. I quote from her email: Is it to make ourselves feel good? Am I focused on helping others to distract myself from my own problems?
Honestly sometimes I am guilty of that. Humans apparently have a threshold for giving, based on personal experience. Once past that limit, the motivation behind the act of giving becomes lost. There were times I got tired when I just wanted the activity to be over and done with and I became guilty and angry with myself for being self-centered and selfish.
I didn’t realise I was tired. That’s not an excuse. But rather that’s why I realised I had to stop. The act of giving which was supposed to be initiated by abundance has instead become an infliction of guilt. It felt far better to do nothing than to receive a negative feeling in return.
Hence for the first three months of this year, I tried to give more time to myself to recover my equilibrium and be more myself. Tougher than I thought but I am still trying.
Remember how I started on baking last year? The time I spent to build my patience and soothe myself brought my skills to a new level. Never in my life have I ever thought I would be good at baking. When I first baked at 13, I remembered I was rather enthralled but I never got a chance to explore further due to a equipment deficiency at home. That was that.
Fast forward to more than a decade, chocolate cake, apple cake, lemon cake, poppy seed cake, carrot cake, chocolate hazelnut torte, cookies, orange brownies, vanilla chiffon cake – I have acquired a new gift for sharing. Not a huge fan of cakes and cookies, the joy during the process of creation and distribution of outputs far surpassed anything else. Although I used to despair during chemistry practical lessons when I screw up my indicator values due to my impatience, baking – I realised does not require precision. There is a general concept behind it and being able to grasp that element enables one to produce(or even save) delicious pastries.
Not only that, I have influenced two persons to start on baking. My flatmate A who can now bake a decent lemon apple cake has recently acquired icing writing from me. After numerous occasions of witnessing me in the kitchen, she finally returned from one of her holidays back home with one cake under her belt. Last Sunday, I baked my first brownie and finally had my friend M kickstart her first baking attempt. I conclude that she has much more patience than me and is more thorough and will soon surpass me in time to come. When I saw her delight and how she enjoyed the fruits of her labour, I was certain another baker was already in the making. Recalling the numerous times when I attempted to explain how simple it was to bake a cake and she would be able to do it, she had looked at me disbelievingly and brushed off my comments.
By passing on the gift of making, I had given love in abundance because I wanted to share the colour it had brought into my life.
Orange brownies with M – tangy and refreshing taste.
A failed vanilla chiffon cake – yet tasted pretty light and fluffy.
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte without a blender – a mix of brownie, Ferraro Roche and chocolate.
Lemon Apple cake by A and a combined icing effort.
I am a Generalist. A nice word to describe will be an All-Rounder while a not so nice word to use is Jack-of-All-Trades which of course translates into the opposite of Master-of-None.
This question popped into my mind during a meet-up with E two days ago. She just casually said,” I am a Generalist and I like to do everything.” At that same instant, I realised, that’s me too!
I get bored when I engaged too much into an activity. I need to divide my time into different areas and hence I make friends from all over too – and one observation I made, the friends I make from different aspects of my life do not seem to click that well with each other. Does that mean I have split personalities? I question myself. No, I do not think so. It’s just simply I like to do abit of everything.
Music, sports, writing, reading, arts, analysis – does that not feel like a jumble of areas? That’s me! I like to listen to music and hence I like to play instruments. Do I want to go to listen to music every night? Do I want to join an orchestra(Friend B popped me this question a day ago). My answer is fairly obvious. No. That’s too much time spent for committing to listen to music every day and people who are in orchestras are crazy about music. I enjoy music but not to that much extent.
Because I like sports too! I enjoy running outside and breathing in fresh air, challenging my body to greater heights and just feel free. Joining half marathons and pushing myself on mind over body gives me great satisfaction too. Do I want to run everyday? Obviously not. Twice a week or maximum three times is very well sufficient.
As I need time for reading and writing! To express myself to use words to draw out my thoughts to create beautiful literature. I like. To read other people’s writing and be inspired by new thoughts and to encourage each other through writing. I like. Do I want to write everyday? I tried. Unfortunately not. It’s a movement of energy that I crave for and that comes to the next area – arts.
Museums(history),musicals and history interest me. I simply enjoy absorbing the years of learnings that have preceded us. To learn about evolution and how men better ourselves. Or try to. It’s fascinating to learn their thoughts and to see patterns. Which brings us to the next question – so no, not all the time.
I need time for analysis. I enjoy dabbling with data – to find out solutions, to see patterns to dig around to find insights. To solve problems – that’s my other interest area too. But everyday? Errmm..
Zoos, parks and picnics – I love them too! The outdoor element – the freshness and the vitamins from the sun – the activity feels me with optimisim and hope. They are recharging environments – something that I need after all the digging.
And yes, as we see a glaring pattern by now(pun intended), there’s an element of me which seems to want to absorb everything and also there’s the element of creation and discovery process(which I have left out baking and trying out new receipes – more of that process rather than the outputs). It makes me feel good about myself – and I happen to discover unhidden potential in myself – the ability to pick out learnings in one area and apply to another. It’s the flow of qi – I would like to put it artistically. The left to right; up to down; basically it’s just exploring the world through different method. It energises me and makes me happy.
I would love to specialise in an area but somehow I seem to miss out something whenever I do that. Incompleteness I would say. So having figured out the answer after my weekly Wednesday run with the running club, I can proudly announce to everyone(special thanks to E for inspiring me) – I am a Generalist and I am a darn good one.
Try to beat that!
After baking around 20 cakes in the second half of last year, I was wondering if I should continue baking. I was getting a little tired of the rapid intensive production and my interest was waning. I am not even fond of cakes but rather just the creation process. The idea of learning the basics and ability to put in raw ingredients to produce something edible and also the skills of amending and “saving” the cake when things goes awry makes me happy. Problem solving is the word I was looking for.
Without a structural syllabus, my baking learning process seems to have come to a standstill. Shall I continue baking in 2013? I asked myself. Apparently I have not stopped yet. I have grown tired of the old cakes I have baked but the “new receipes” needs more effort as I have not mastered them yet. Hence I have struggled with this dilemma for the last two months.
However, there was a push factor for Christmas to bake a cake – an activity with a friend and also to celebrate the spirit of giving. So we did bake a marble cake – which my friend C did most of the mixing while I supervised her. Nonetheless she tutored me to create icing on the cake – writing with chocolate icing as you can see from the picture above. It kept the baking fire going. My cakes which I baked specially for friends’ birthdays and parties – the only reason why I even baked in the first place-will be a much improved version than before! How exciting!
Baking comes from the heart and producing something with your hands shows the sincerity in giving – that’s how I feel. And the activity of baking calms me and the product makes people around me happy – the way I see it, I am spreading happiness around.
The first cake of the year – the new receipe – is the apple cake. It looks not that fantastic but the white icing which I wrote the three lines of well-wishes – indicating “Happy Birthday”, “Good Health”, “Happiness Everyday” – not only made my friend M happy but also myself as I was pleased that somehow, things have moved up a notch unknowingly.
Another great start to the year. Happy New Year everyone!
I like personal challenges and I find myself constantly doing what a normal person would not do.
Running to the tube station to catch the tube even when I woke up 1 hour earlier than my departure time. I nearly missed my train – but I like to think of that as my warm up part one and warm up part two was trying to get to the park before the run started. I completed all that tasks successfully albeit stressful.
I like to better my timing – which I did shave off around 98s second down to 24min 49s for a 5km run. Excellent job – nicely executed by me considering that it has been just six days after my last half marathon which I will share in another post, I could possibly create another personal best for the upcoming half marathon in November!
I seem to enjoy tiring myself out – an early park run, teaching English at an advanced level and carrot cake/cookies baking thereafter. As a result, in contrast to my flatmates enjoying a lovely chat in the living room at the moment, I am hiding in the room due to a headache from an early morning and an overdose of “over-talking”.
It started with chocolate chip cookies last year. I baked that nearly every month or tried to and brought to the office to make friends. The English seem to like home-made stuff – they tend to get more touched or express more enthusiasm when hearing the words “home-made” or so I feel. In Singapore, people seldom bake stuff or at least the people in my office(near me) don’t. One can buy a cake more easily than baking. If you know someone who bakes, I would imagine you are quite lucky. The culture of baking is not that. Hence I suppose that’s why the bakeries flourish.
Well, you can be quite certain – they will be getting no business from me when I return for holidays in November. I am now a fairly accomplished beginner baker! I know a couple of techniques – though I am not certain how the techniques differentiation impacts the cake yet. From baking cookies, I learnt that sieving is important if you want it to be crunchy rather than clumps.
After the transition from cookies to cakes this year, my monthly affair has evolved into once nearly every two weeks. In fact, I am worried I may get sick of baking soon. My latest creation as seen below – the marble cake! It was not as difficult as I thought and I took a short-cut by using instant coffee instead of freshly brewed coffee as the idea of brewing fresh coffee at 8pm purely to inject two tablespoons into the cake does not make sense to me. The makings of a lazy baker.
Reason for the marble cake was to show my hospitality as I organised a learning session for colleagues tomorrow morning and I thought it would be nice to bring some cake after a bank holiday.
The two pictures below are both (easy) chocolate cake. One before the sugar-coated stars, one after. I made three of that within 3 weeks, hence I decided to give a shot at the marble cake today.
Purpose for the chocolate cake was for ” The English Farewell” and I tried baking one the week before. And the aim of the third one was of course to extend my friendly gesture in the office. I did kind of promised a couple of folks hence I made it in the spur of the moment to keep up my reliability.
With the series of attempts, I learnt to split the mixture and they expanded really well to become a double layer cake! If you want to moisturise the cake, poke in holes to ensure there are good gaps for the chocolate sauce to sink in. Apparently if you use a double light cream rather than a double cream, the cake is less rich and people could go for more!
The poppy seed lemon cake. I made three poppy seed cakes in July. Two plain and the last one with lemon. Each time around, my Italian flatmate was a great contributor and we watched a Vietnamese Youtube video to innovate from a plain one to a lemon one. The first poppy seed attempt was for my Japanese friend, the second one to fulfil a promise to a friend and the third one? To bring for some friends.
Poppy seed cake baking taught me how to fluff up the egg white prior addition rather than dumping in the entire egg. It’s apparently more spongy? Honestly I could not taste the difference. In addition, I realised icing sugar in reality is white in colour rather like powder instead of looking like sugar.
Carrot cake as seen below! The most successful attempt ever! This was the first cross-over attempt from cookies baking. I enjoyed it tremendously and it was a joint effort with my Brazilian flatmate. The purpose of the cake was for the farewell party for our Canadian flatmate. Extremely delicious and one can go for multiple slices without feeling sick.
Having seen the pictures of the wonderful cakes, I would like to emphasize that even baking the same cake at any one time, the steps I undertake variates. Sometimes I remembered to sieve the flour, sometimes I forgot. At times, I dumped in all the ingredients; on good days, I fluffed up the egg white. Once, I didnt have enough ingredients and just tried to make do with whatever I had. The butter – I never measured them – it was all estimations. I was more excited about reducing the duration of the cake-baking process than to get a better tasting cake – as they tasted nearly the same to me.
Honestly, I wouldnt be the best baker in town. If there were no occasions, I will never bake a cake and I have all the characteristics of a lazy baker. To top it up all, aside from the carrot cake – I didnt even really like the other cakes. Especially the chocolate one – when I see the amount of sugar I pour in, I equate it to the amount of exercise I have to carry out to negate the effects.
So my friends asked me, why then do I bake? Put simply for now,
1. I appear to acquire a like for creating a solid from scratch. It’s a little like chemistry laboratory class in school when you mix in all the solutions and you see the end result looking different from your initial elements. Quite cool, isn’t it?
2. For friends and making friends – there is an appreciation of a home-made cake and people tend to warm up to you more. Much easier than me trying to strike up a conversation and reading up more on football.
3. A sense of achievement – for a beginner cook starting up more than two years ago and a non-existent baker, I proved not only to myself but I realised, nothing is impossible. It’s just a matter of wanting to do it, nothing is hard as long as you find your motivational force.
4. Build up patience and creativity – I learnt to be more patient with following simple steps and adapted steps to ensure efficiency has not diminished the quality of the cake. As I knew that though it is crucial to be efficient, this must not affect the output else the efforts for the entire process will head down the drain.
Have I fallen in love with baking? No but most certainly the love of creating something for a purpose is an integral part of me.
For those of you who have read about “A Brazilian Farewell“, who got to know about how my chanced acquaintance with this English girl – A and of course how I spent an amazing time with her and her family in “Blasting off 2012” will be happy for her and at the same time a little sad for me.
Her dream came true – she is enroute to Qatar, setting off a day after the summer bank holiday, she will be teaching English as a foreign language to children! She has been trained to teach adults but though with no experience with children, she impressed her interviewers enough to engage her for the next year! How exciting for her! Not only will she have a proper job of her wish, she gets to go to the region where she has been planning of and this means her hard work over the last year has finally paid off!
I am very excited for her, in fact – thrilled is the word. Nonetheless I am a little worried but somehow having come this far, I am confident she is equipped to handle the situation. Having been in her shoes around 2.5 years back, I know how hard it is to fight for dreams at times. It sounds impossible but actually it has been proven time and again, if you want things badly enough, it will happen because you have worked hard for it. Our friendship has slowly progressed over the past year and though we havent met up very often, the couple of times we did, we hit off well and had plenty to chat about – about life, our principles, our ideas, our experience. Everyone comes into our life for a reason and she has been a pivotal part of my life in my life here in the UK. Advice and ideas – opinions though might not be matching at 100% but it is the support and chats that has brought us here so far. Rome was not built in a day nor is a friendship. To me, our friendship represented hope and dreams. She is a resilent personality and I see characteristics in her I hope to learn from. She didn’t have things going smoothly for her but she is a fighter and she has worked hard for her progress today. I am proud of her and glad that I can proudly announce our friendship.
Unfortunately, the sad part is that I will have one less friend here in UK but hey, we have technology, isnt it? Bridges the gap and you know that you have someone who will be there to chat to when you have problems or when you are down. Hence on this hot Sunday afternoon, we arranged one of our final meet-ups at my place. I wanted to prepare a little feast for her – did my specialty – salmon baked rice and baked ribs. Knowing that she has a sweet tooth for chocolate, I practised my chocolate cake receipe once last weekend and it was a hit! Easy chocolate cake from bbc , anyone who is a beginner in baking can try this. I did mine with double light cream and it was not as rich as prescribed. Dessert, sumptuous meal and topped it off with a little gift – sun cream against the blazing sun, some of her favourite chocolates and a little farewell note.
We had a delightful time indoors – a preference instead of the outdoor heat. Chatted about our family, our friends, her new life, our updates – just a normal meet up. But it felt good, enjoyable and learned new things about each other as well. All too soon the afternoon came to an end but we had an excellent time as always and though I couldnt make any promises to visit her anytime soon, I know this has been certainly an affirmation of our friendship and I hope we will survive the test of time together.
I wish her well and I hope she will settle into her new life there. Will we meet again? I am not sure. But I know I will miss her and our girly chats at our favourite pizza haunt in Kingston.
Quoted from Jack Canfield’s How to get from where you are to where you want to be, I felt suddenly motivated again.
Having been in London for 2years, the questions I have for myself : what have I done so far? Am I where I want to be?
Things have been a little fuzzy of late and I had sleepless nights tossing and turning in bed and waking up at daybreak. Note that daybreak translates into 4am in summertime.
My manager’s feedback to me,”you need to get out of your comfort zone” struck the chord. I was bored at work. True,I was performing what I know best. People seldom challenge me and I got used to holding back my thoughts. Excellence,one might say but for me, I was not challenging my limits. In terms of self growth,it has been stagnanting. I kept thinking of things I wish to do but I haven’t set anything specific. Vague goals produce vague results. How true!
As a result of the appraisal session, I was assigned a goal. To make myself a main contributer in their business plans in less than 3 months. Possible? When posed with the question one week ago,I was hesitant. Today I was positive. I knew the answers. But I was not confident of myself,hence the unsureness.
Evidence 1: Assist every business with plans. So far, I have came up with the draft for one and I found the answers for one of the business plan discussion I had yesterday. Logic, my forte guides me to my answers.
Evidence 2: Raise at least £100 before the app expires. The Samsung Hope Relay app I downloaded 37 days before 1Jul has yielded a grand total of £83 pounds. Not far from my target of 100 quid and considering my weak left knee and my limited data plan, I have been contributing £2.90 daily!
Evidence 3: Grow a healthy plant before the year is up. My pansy as everyone is aware of, is growing rapidly and today, there are 10 flowers in full bloom. Special thanks to my flatmates for helping with care taking.
Evidence 4: Cake baking, a monthly activity I have set and diligently keeping up on, the result earlier this week- a poppy seed cake for my friend’s birthday. I have to admit I had a bit of help with the cream from my ‘talented in kitchen’ Flatmate but I realized my capacity does not lie in not able to but my lack of passion for it. My aim is not to become a whizz in the kitchen but rather someone who can take care of myself,innovative once in a while and make things for others if I would want to. In the kitchen, there is no ” I can’t”. There is only “I want not”.
The story I want to share today, everyone of us has a capacity in us we have never discovered before. Start to grow your capacity to do what you love. Have you realised your talent yet? Set specific goals today and the “how to” will kick in eventually!