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Friday, March 17, 2017

Another Bird Nest

We found another bird nest in the garden. This time, it is an even tinier bird with a nest not larger than my finger. So thrilled! Now I have 5 pet birds.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Our Zebra Doves

There was a Papa Bird and a Mama Bird. Two zebra doves had staked out my 2nd floor balcony as their territory. They foraged for food in my garden and then, they built a nest (the size of my palm). Then, they laid eggs (the size of my thumb's first phalange). 

Shortly after the chicks hatched, one of the parents died. It had flown into one of our large glass doors and knocked itself out. Milo picked it up and tried to revive it. His way of doing so was to hold the poor bird in his mouth and shake it. Not surprisingly, it died. I came home to a living room littered with feathers and a puzzled Milo.

We were all devastated. I even cried. Seeing me in tears, The Husband googled material for me to read and learn about how to feed nestlings and squabs. That is his way of comforting me. You know, not take me in his arms and wipe away the tears gently with a soft silk handkerchief... like in the movies. The Hub points to the computer screen and says, "Nah! Here, read this pdf file and watch this youtube. You will feel better when you know how to help the birds."

I guess it worked because I wiped away my tears, got in touch with a bird expert friend and figured out how to keep the birds alive. Fortunately, one of the parents is still alive and so all I had to do was to rig up a bird feeder next to the nest. The parent did the rest.

We are not sure if it is a Mama or a Papa bird. The literature says that the males are more likely to incubate in the day and the females incubate at night. Now that one is dead, there is no parent at the nest at night. So the one left must be a Papa bird? I can't tell because I can't see any ahems dangling anywhere.

2 eggs.

Papa and Mama Bird.

Dead Mama bird.

We took out the babies to clean the nest.

Nice clean nest.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

PE Tuition Teacher

I wish I could tell you that I engaged Tracy Tay to be my personal trainer because I wanted to get stronger and healthier. Unfortunately, the real reason why I engaged her was that I really wanted to lose weight. 

My thyroid issues predisposed me to weight gain. Losing weight was next to impossible. I would cycle 2 hours a day and see no improvement on the weighing scales nor in my girth.

I engaged Tracy with some amount of trepidation. The stereotype of a personal trainer is this hard driving and yelling fitness freak who will inflict pain on the unsuspecting in ways the unsuspecting do not suspect but very much fear.

Tracy is not like that at all. "My oldest client is 79," said she. I looked down at my fat figure and silently jubilated. I was quite confident I could keep up with a 79 year old. Tracy has a degree in Sports Science and she knows my body better than I do. She knows the names of all the muscles and she knows what exercises I should do to target which group of muscles. She is adept at modifying exercises to fit my fitness level. When I started with her, I could barely manage 2 push-ups. With some modifications and a lot of patience, I can now do 20.

My backaches are gone because she has helped me to strengthen my core muscles. I feel much more energetic than before, more flexible and a lot more agile. I can climb up and down stairs without breaking a sweat.

Best of all, I lost 4 inches around the hips, 2 inches around the waist but only 1 kg off the weighing scales.

WMF Pressure Cookers

Pressure cookers have been around for umpteen years. The only problem was that I was deathly afraid of them. The old pressure cookers had no safety mechanisms and were quite capable of exploding. Then, I came across rave reviews of the Instant Pot. 

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker which has built-in sensors and automated cooking programmes. See HERE for a demo. This thing will not explode (at least, if it were functioning well, it shouldn't) because it will reduce pressure automatically before explosion. This thing does a beef pot roast in 45 minutes. Such a roast normally requires 3 hours in the oven.

The oven is not exactly the most energy efficient piece of kitchen equipment. 3 hours in it sends the electricity bills sky high.

There is no local retailer for the Instant Pot. Locally, the only electric pressure cooker available, is the Philips. I refused to buy it because it has non stick coating on the cooking pot. Non stick coatings slough off after some time and it is not good for health if ingested.

So, I started to look around a little more. I finally settled for the WMF stove top pressure cooker. I liked the stainless steel. I liked the fact that I needed to learn to control time and pressure for each recipe. Best of all, I liked that this pot will wail loudly when pressure gets too high. It is so loud that I can hear it from anywhere in the house.

No danger of explosion then. See HERE for demo.

This pressure cooker brings down my electricity bills considerably and I can turn around meals a lot faster too. It cooks carrots in 2 minutes. It does my pot roasts in 30 minutes. The best thing is the risotto. That gets done in 7 minutes and it comes out perfect, with creamy starch and al dente rice grains.

Normally, risottos require 45 minutes of patience at the stove, adding soup stock ladle by ladle and stirring. Even then I often don't get it right. Too soft, too hard, too dry. In the pressure cooker, it comes out PERFECTLY each time.

After I bought the WMF Pressure Cooker, I found the Tefal Clipso Plus HERE. It is ever so pretty and has a detachable timer. By that time, I had already bought my 2nd WMF pressure cooker. Else, I would have got me the Tefal Clipso Plus.

I used to make rice in the thermal pot without realising that higher heat is required to release the oils in rice responsible for its fragrance. My mother-in-law used to complain that my rice (from the thermal pot) was not fragrant. I ignored her simply because that is what daughters-in-law tend to do, right? 

Now though, I know what she means. Rice done in a pressure cooker is amazingly al dente and fragrant. 

I wish I had found these new style pressure cookers before I had bought my Le Creuset pots. They are so practical and cook so fast that I now use them every day. The Le Creuset pots are good when guests come and I want to take time to cook things low and slow. Taste wise, one cannot beat the Le Creuset pots but for daily convenience... man... I love my 2 WMF pressure cookers.

I love them so much that I bought 2!

Perfect risotto in 7 minutes.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Landing Point, The Fullerton Bay Hotel

This gluten free high tea can be booked 2 days in advance. No one can believe it is gluten free but it is. I ate it and nothing happened to my tummy.

Huge sofas to drown in.

Huge selection of teas.

The high tea.

My coffee.

My favourite bite.

The other favourite bite.

Half of the 3rd favourite bite. Haha!

Pim Pam by FOC

It is very hard to get safe Western food for celiacs in Singapore. So, when you find one, you spread the word to all other people who get sick from eating gluten. No fear! Pim Pam is here!

Egg, iberico ham and some sort of potato millefeuille which was like a cross between a croissant and a potato chip.

Galician octopus on a bed of mashed potato.

Scallop and pork rib paella.

Gluten free "kit kat" dessert. Crispy from the peanut bar, chocolatey from the white chocolate and creamy from the vanilla ice cream.

The service staff are extraordinary too. Friendly and helpful. I mean truly friendly. They interacted with me like I was a friend and truly cared about my dining experience. Not all pricey places do that. I tried to book La Brasserie at The Fullerton Bay (after I tried out the wonderful High Tea at The Landing Point) and they made me feel like I probably could not afford to eat there.

Oh well... I could afford it if I wanted to, but now I cannot afford it anymore. They would have to pay me to eat there.