Monday, 3 September 2012

[The Story of Neo - Part 1]: Meeting Neo

If you remember, i've said at the beginning when i started this blog, that i would really like to write about my experiences as a vet and the animals i've met throughout this journey.

Last Friday while i was driving home in the rain, i suddenly thought about Moose - a racehorse i met during my attachment at the Singapore Turf Club), and Neo - a Golden Retriever i met when i was still in private practice. I've met a lot of animals and i like most of them, but there are some animals i just share an inexplicable connection with. Neo is one of them, and he is a dog that has stayed at the back of my mind even though i've left private practice for a good, whole 6 years (gawd, has it been that long?), and it's often during rainy days that he comes into mind because i still remember how he loves taking walks in the rain....


I first met Neo about 7 years ago, when he and his sibling, Daisy came in for their annual vaccination. Actually i can't remember if they're from the same litter but i've always referred to Daisy as Neo's sister anyway. Neo was a 2-year-old, male Golden Retriever who was strikingly handsome. He had a nice, broad head and was of a good size with a shiny cream-coloured coat. Daisy was slightly smaller, but was also of a nice, healthy size, with the same glossy cream-coloured coat, though paler than Neo -- if i remembered correctly.

"These dogs must have good owners..." I thought to myself when i saw them walking into the consult room. 

As you probably know (or do not know) i'm not much of a Goldie person because i always thought they were too friendly for my liking. After i joined private practice, i realised, to my horror, that there were actually more ill-mannered Golden Retrievers than friendly ones. I think it's simply because people who buy Golden Retrievers think that just because dogs from this breed generally have a good temperament, they do not require any sort of obedience training -- which is of course utterly wrong.

Anyway, Neo was different. He was neither a slut for affection (Daisy was!), nor was he one of those snappy, uncooperative ones that made life difficult for their owners (and the vet). Doing a physical examination and vaccinating him was a breeze because he didn't try to lick, head-butt, paw me, or did any sort of typical GR-thing (sorry, Goldie owners!). He was friendly but didn't sought for attention excessively.

He carried himself like any dignified dog should, and maybe because of that, he left a very deep impression on me the first time i saw him....


Next up, Part 2 will be on Neo and his Human Family. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

God Is So Good...

Sang this hymn to the children 2 nights ago and after i finished, Big T looked me in the eyes and said:
"God is so good, 因为他给我一个这么好的妈妈..."

Last night, i sang this hymn aloud again when the whole family was in Big T's room before bedtime and the hubby held me and said:
"That's why i have all of you..."

I have everything to be grateful about, and nothing to complain about. Life's good and it's all because God is so good.

My yellow roses are in bloom again.


Food Review: {Dim Sum @ Tampines}

I love dim sum and my best memories of eating dim sum was when i was doing my veterinary studies in Perth. There were many Chinese restaurants there (run by Hong Kees, or Hong Kongers if you like) and a few of us would always gather during weekends to have brunch at one of these dim sum joints. Family members who visited me there were never short of praise of the quality (and price!) of dim sum there. My Papa lurrrrvvveeddd the fried squid especially (there was even once i tapao-ed it back to Singapore for him, when i came home during the semester break), and the hubby simply lurrrvvveeeddd the giant crab cakes.

I still remember my favourite dim sum restaurant was "Yummy BBQ" located along Leach Highway. Just a couple of years when i went back to Perth for a holiday with the hubby and Big T, we even brought the little boy there for some bao and cheong fun!

You know what i really dig about dim sum in Perth? It's the fresh, succulent whole prawns in their har gows/ shrimp dumplings (虾饺)! The har gows in Singapore just don't make the cut. Tak kana, we say.

The ones you get in Singapore either have prawns that are not fresh or prawns that are okay in terms of freshness but small/not succulent. The worst of the lot are the har gows with meat stuffing - these should be renamed meat dumplings (肉饺) instead!

Anyway, i digressed. This dim sum stall at Tampines which i'm reviewing in this blogpost is the hubby's favourite breakfast haunt on his off days, after he drops Little T off at his mum's. I've only been here twice, but i think the quality of food is decent and for such good food, i'd say it's really pretty cheap. The 6-dish spread (shown in picture below) costs us only $14.30!

According to the hubby and the stall auntie (who knows him because he's a regular there), the hubby only orders 2 dishes when he's here and they are the chives dumpling or 韭菜饺 (See No. 1 on picture above) and the steamed beancurd roll or 鲜竹卷 (See No. 5 on picture above). The hubby was more than happy that i was with him that morning because one more mouth means more food and more variety!

A brief rundown of what i think of the 6 dishes we ordered that day:

1. Chives Dumpling (韭菜饺): I usually eat this depending on my mood and i don't particularly like or dislike this. I thought this was not too bad and the good thing about it was they didn't use too much fatty meat which would otherwise have made this a very jelat dish.

2. Shrimp Dumplings with Salted Egg Yolk (咸蛋虾饺): The hubby and I loved this! He's never ever noticed this on the menu but he swore that this will become his staple for future visits. They used whole shrimps (not shrimp paste and not mixed with meat, yay!) and the shrimps were fresh and firm, not too big though but i can deal with that on the account of the salted egg yolk. Heh.

3. Siew Mai (烧卖): I'm not usually a siew mai person because i find that many stalls use meat that is wayyyy too fatty! This was a pleasant surprise though because like the chives dumpling, i think they chose to use leaner meat, which doesn't make me sick and is definitely a much healthier choice!

4. Chicken Glutinous Rice/Lor Mai Gai (糯米鸡): Don't like this because of the mushy texture. I think it's because it's been left in the steamer for too long and because of the condensation process, water droplets on the surface of the lotus leaves have seeped inside and caused the rice to become too soggy. I'd rather eat Khong Guan's Lor Mai Gai in the aluminium-foil container any day!

5. Steamed Bean Curd Roll (鲜竹卷): This is the hubby's favourite dim sum dish and i really like this too! As with the other dishes, leaner meat was used - when i scrutinised the ingredients after i took a bite, i could actually see bits of chicken meat and it was not just minced-meat-that-you-can't-tell-what-animal-or-what-part-it-came-from. Nice!

6. Deep Fried Bean Curd Roll (腐皮卷): This was good too (and you can see from the picture that both of us had already devoured most of it by the time the picture was taken). Definitely a must-order the next time i come here.

Another thing worth mentioning was the 2 aunties at the stall were really chatty and friendly. The older auntie who served us, after realising on her own accord that she forgot to bring us the mayo for the 腐皮卷, apologised and immediately went back to the stall to get us some. I thought that was a nice gesture which sets her apart from the usual grumpy kopitiam aunties who would snap at you like you owe them money.

After the meal, i went back to the stall to take a picture because i wanted to post it on my blog. Told the two aunties my intention, asked both of them to smile for the camera, but the older one ran away and half-covered her face, saying, "不要啦!不要啦!". The younger auntie was also shy but continued to do her work while consciously making sure she was not facing my camera. Haha!

If you live in the Tampines or if you just want to indulge in cheap but much better than average dim sum, this is the place to go. It's located at Block 828, Tampines Street 81, New Century Coffee Shop. Go try and let me know what you think!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Food Review: {Hide Yamamoto @ MBS}

The hubby and I are foodies and we're always out on a hunt for the best food in Singapore.

For our 5th anniversary (which was also 1 day before the hubby's 35th birthday), we had an agreement that i would buy him a nice (read: expensive) dinner. I know he loves a good steak anytime, and since we were going for a staycation at MBS, i thought Cut by Wolfgang Puck would be a good place to go.

I did some research online (scoured through forums and asked friends on Facbook) and everyone said Cut was a good choice. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for my bank account), we had late lunch that day at Carnivore and couldn't bear to eat another piece of meat for the rest of the days, so our plan to go to Cut for dinner was shelved.

Then, i remembered a friend suggesting Hide Yamamato and since both of us love Japanese food and preferred something lighter, why not try this place?

So after lunch and some window shopping, we ventured up to Level 2 to check out the place and to make dinner reservations. Okay, i must admit i found the location a bit strange (it's just not where i would expect a restaurant to be at) - if you look down from Level 2, you see a huge atrium which is basically where the casino is. From here, you can get a  bird's eye view of the whole den, the gambling tables and slot machines...

Quite impressive lah, except that i had already been to Las Vegas when i was young, so this was really 小儿科 (child's play)!

Anyway, moving on to the restaurant. First look - it was rather small and dingy, not a place i would associate with fine dining. A secondary-school-kid lookalike asked us whether he could help us and after ding-donging back and forth, he finally got a more senior staff to attend to us. First impression of the place wasn't fantastic, but we made our reservation for 830pm that night in the end, and left the place feeling a little apprehensive.


We came back to the restaurant again at 830pm sharp and were ushered to a table right at the corner of the Ramen & Dining area. The restaurant is actually divided into 5 areas with five different concept - Sushi, Teppanyaki, Robata, Ramen & Dining, Sake Bar. I didn't know what "Robata" was but from the menu, it was supposed to be "Petrified wood charcoal grill, emphasizing fine meat, poultry and vegetables in the purist form". Okaaaaaay.

We had great fun looking through the menu and deciding what we wanted to eat. Just so you know, the hubby is very particular about "wasting space" (according to him, my salad was a waste of space when we went to Carnivore earlier in the day), and since we were still not terribly hungry, we decided to forgo the ramen and try abit of everything instead.
First up, sushi! The hubby ordered the Premium 5 Kinds of Sushi.

Honestly, i really love this even though it looks pretty normal. The rice came in the right amount and the sashimi was perfect. I loved that it was served at room temperature because then, you can taste the sashimi at its finest. 

Next, my "Chawan Mushi" with Black Truffle Flan and Sea Urchin.

First mouthful and i had the classic "幸福的感觉"! You can tell i love my eggs!

The steamed egg had "substance"and packed a heavier, more custardy texture (i don't think "custard" is an appropriate word since chanwan mushi IS custard anyway) rather than the kind i'm used to, the kind that just disintegrates in your mouth the moment you eat it. The broth which sits on top of the chawanmushi was really yummy - tasty but light. This is the first time i'm eating sea urchin though (first was 5 minutes ago when i ate the sushi!) but being a seafoodie who indulges in hum and all, i love how it just melts in your mouth! The bits of black truffle were at the bottom of the bowl - i didn't think this was the most perfect thing to go along with the lovely chawanmushi but that's okay, the rest of this more than made up for it. 

Then, the hubby had his Saikyo Miso Foie Gras with Crispy Rice. This was cooked the Robata way.

For obvious reasons, i'm not a fan of Foie Gras but the hubby said it was delectable! As he was eating this, i went on and on about how geese or ducks were forced fed and it made him disgusted for a few minutes i think. He managed to get me to eat a small slice but i shuddered as i swallowed it. Cruelty aside, it was too jelat for me! Pass!

Another Robata dish - Grilled Squid Stuffed with Cod Mousse in Light Clam Butter Sauce.

If the other dishes before this were great, this one was heavenly! The squid tubes were tender and cooked to perfection. Be careful though, when you sink your teeth into the squid, the smooth codfish paste oozes out from both ends! (P.S Before i came here, my friend Angeline told me i had to try the codfish sperm (?!?!?). Can't find that anywhere on the menu and in restrospection, i'm wondering if this "codfish mousse" is actually the codfish jism?!)

Oh, and i forgot to mention the sauce was oh-so-yummy too! Although it's a "butter" sauce, it didn't have a heavy texture and was so so so flavourful.

Last but not least, we had the Teppanyaki Japanese Wagyu Sirloin Beef!

This gave me the "幸福的感觉" again! What else do i need to say - it's wagyu beef.

The yellowish bits in the middle (that look like almond slices) are actually deep fried garlic chips. Innovative, and it goes well with the beef. As we all know, wagyu beef is the premium cut of beef and is so good because of the marbling in the meat. The ah beng at the next table obviously didn't think so because he called the manager to his table and started complaining crassly that the beef was too fatty (?!?!). I mean, like seriously, isn't the fat flecks in the meat the best part?

Anyway, to sum it all up, it was a fabulous dining experience. The food was scrumptious, the company was excellent as always, nevermind the lack of ambience even though it would be really nice to have a lomantic anniversary dinner. Oh, best part was the hubby decided to pick up the tab (i knew he would never let me pay!) and for the quality of food, the damage done was considered reasonable.

I would definitely go back again and the next time round, i want to try their Ramen!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

1. Kiddy Palace!

So i brought Big T to Kiddy Palace (and whipped potato before that) and as you can see, he was mighty pleased!

He saw all the new Fisher-Price Thomas trains and went into a frenzy checking all of them out - that's him (in the first picture) fiddling with Sir Tottem Hatt's musical caboose which plays the Thomas theme song everytime you press the button on top. I can so imagine Big T pressing this a kazillion times just to make Little T boogie (she loves the Thomas theme song and will shake her lil' booty everytime she hears it!). Just last Saturday, Little T was sleeping soundly in her cot when she heard this tune because Big T was watching Thomas and Friends on the telly. To my utter amusement, she got up from her belly down position into a kneeling position and started to shake her body (with her eyes half-closed some more)! The moment the tune ended, she just plopped right back into her sleeping position to continue her slumber!

If there's one thing i really, really love about my son and am really, really proud of him for, he's never ever thrown a tantrum at the toystore demanding that we buy this or that. Sure, he may hanker after a new train but when we ask him to put the toy back on the shelf and leave, he will do so no matter how disappointed he is. If we tell him he needs to wait till his 5th birthday (or Christmas) to get a new toy, he'll do just that.

Anyway, i'm glad to be able to strike one place off my list! Birdpark's on tomorrow and i'm wondering if i should make reservations for us to have lunch with the parrots...

Sunday, 3 June 2012

School's Out

...for Big T! I've applied for a couple days' leave over the next few weeks in June because i want to spend some quality time with my dear son. Even though he has his moments (and i have my moments when i just want to stuff him inside the cupboard so he would stop talking, that little chatterbox!!!), he's actually a sensitive (he's a snag alright...:)), sweet little fella and i don't think i can ask for a better son than him.

Anyway, these are the 10 things i want to do with him this holiday and i hope that by the end of the month, i can put a tick beside each of them and proudly declared i've taken the time and effort to bond with him.

1.  Go to Kiddy Palace. (I promised to bring him there yesterday when we were at Lot 1 for lunch after church but because i was rushing the kids home for their afternoon nap, i forgot. Big T reminded me in the car, with a crestfallen look on his face and it made me want to knock my own head because i pride myself as a mother that NEVER breaks the promises she makes.) :(
2. Go to the Zoo.
3. Go to the Bird Park.
4. Go kite-flying.
5. Have a barbecue. (Big T always looks on in envy when he see people having their barbecues at the poolside pit so i promised him we'll have one this holiday especially for him.)
6. Bake together. (Need to buy Thomas cookie moulds!)
7. Sandplay at West Coast (We haven't done this for a looooong time...)
8. Go to SPCA.
9. Go to Botanical Gardens/Jacob Ballas Children's Garden.
10. Go to the animal/fish farms at Lim Chu Kang/Pasir Ris Farmway.

That's him on his very first day of school. :)
Post-blogging thoughts: I just realised, with the exception of 1 and 6, everything else revolves around animals and the great outdoors! I guess that's how i want to bring up my kids - i want to make sure they soak in God's amazing creations and appreciate the wonder of it all.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Autobiography: {Prologue - Young Dreams Never Come True}

"Young dreams never come true", the lanky teenager said in a tone that almost sounded like she was mocking her pudgy younger sister who just timidly confessed she wanted to be a vet when she grew up.

Those 5 words didn't make sense to her at that time. All she knew was that she had watched her elder sister feed the stray black cat at school during recess time, a stray that her sister named Astreal after the black cat in "Smurfs". She witnessed how her elder sister picked a stray puppy up from school, brought it home in a cardboard box, only to get a earful from their concerned father and auntie because they weren't sure if the puppy was "gam chek" (had worms in its tummy). She was also fascinated by all of her elder sister's prized books on animals, especially a hardcover black book named "Dogs" that had a picture of Lassie on its cover and talked about all the wonderful dog breeds of the world. She envied how her elder sister was always so at ease with their cousins' dogs and the dogs of strangers she met on the street - playing, petting, laughing and having the time of her life.

Most of all, she knew her elder sister's ambition was to be a vet who helps animals, and she too, wanted to be kind and compassionate to all God's creatures, just like the jie jie she looked up to.

She didn't know why her elder sister said those words and what those words really mean, but she could sense the severity in the tone her elder sister used. The words left a sourish feeling inside her but strange enough, it also gave her a sense of empowerment and a sense of determination that she would some day, prove her elder sister wrong.

And who would have known, these words didn't just ring in her ears that very day; it resonated in the depths of her heart for the next 20 years....

Big T & Music

So Big T has started formal music education. Yay!

And the Tiger Mum in me has reared its ugly, striped head. Boo!

Anyway, i thought it'll be interesting to chronologise my experience so i can see how well he's progressing (or declining). I need more patience for sure, and i need to stop saying "If i can start piano at 4 years old, take my first theory exam at 6, blahblahblah, then Big T should be able to do it too!"...

More on this later.

Packing up after Staccato!