Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just barely 2 weeks in my new company & I'm already loaded with work. As in loaded to the brim~ =( I've never joined any company - this is probably my first - that I was expected to get settled down on the job fast. I broke down into tears as everything was becoming overwhelming. I hardly had time to breathe.

Everyone is given a laptop to work which can eventually cultivate a bad habit. Weekends are starting to become another work day & it's an unhealthy activity. What's more, I even stayed up late just to work on a weekend. I thought weekends was supposed to be lazy days or reserved for my own chores at home, as a way to unwind from all the work stress.

For the past 2 weeks, I started to doubt my choice to be so eager to join this company. No doubt getting an interview was tough to begin with. Surviving was another issue altogether. The only good thing I'm motivated is the income I get for slogging every day & the workload is more than enough to keep me occupied from unnecessary distractions ie office politics & gossips. Thank God for that! At least I have one less thing to worry.

First baking class

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I've always thought that cooking/baking classes are costly & one wonder how much you can gain within a 3 hour class. Since Groupon featured a promo for baking class specifically on mille crepe (location a pull factor too), I jumped at the opportunity.

Upon arrival at the location, it was actually a small group class conducted in a house kitchen. The chef organising the class is Nicholas Pillai. His name doesn't ring a bell? Nicholas is a food writer, recipe contributor & food stylist on various local publications. We were divided into 4 groups to work on the mille crepe based on the recipe given.

As a matter of fact, making mille crepe cake is a tedious task even though baking is not required. The chef has advised us to split the preparation into 2 days - getting the crepes ready on the 1st day & chilled overnight, then making the cream the next morning. Mille crepes are best done in the morning because the cream melts easily considering our hot Malaysian climate.

I shall not elaborate further on the recipe as it'll take too much to explain here & I don't have a lot of pictures to accompany each step. I'm willing to share some of the tips that may be useful for other recipes that you plan to experiment. During class, we all learnt how to brown butter which is then mix together with other ingredients to form the crepe batter. The chef recommended us to use Amul butter (shown in pic) for it's the purest of butter - made from pure milk fat. It's fragrant due to its pure milk fat content & slightly salted to give a savoury flavour to your food.

I do agree that Amul butter is fragrant but it's a tad too oily for my liking. We can replace with alternative brands as we please to suit our taste buds, just have to take note the outcome might taste a little different. When browning butter, the pot has to be on low fire to avoid butter from burning. The pot has to be constantly shaken gently to ensure that the butter is properly browned. There are 3 stages of bubbles to look out for during this process. Once there are signs brown colour at the sides, the butter is ready & needs to be removed from the fire.

Stage 1- The butter has melted & starts to boil & bubble up

Stage 2 - More bigger size bubbles can be seen

Stage 3 - The bubbles become foamy

Final stage - The browned butter should have a nice caramel colour.
Picture shown above is slightly burned.

When it's time to cook the crepes, the process is exhausting because we need to pour the batter to cook layer by layer. We did it in groups of 3 or 4, hence it's a breeze to complete the task. I can now imagine how tedious to accomplish this step alone. In addition, it takes practice to make the crepe perfect - thin & light but just nice to hold the cream later.

Another tip I've learnt to keep the cream as cold as possible in case my kitchen's ventilation turns nasty warm is to put the cream in an ice bath. I didn't expect it to be so easy =D

After 3 hours, our final product is ready for tasting. The chef taught us how to caramelise the top by sprinkling some brown sugar & torching it until it turns brown. I preferred to have left the mille crepe as it is because the caramel layer looks rather messy.

My group's mille crepe looks aesthetically pleasing once sliced. But our crepe was too thick so it didn't tasted as good as we hoped. Oh never mind, practice makes perfect & I'm sure I'll be able to make a better one next round.

Overall, it was a fruitful class. I'm looking forward to attending more cooking or baking classes in the near future because it sure is so much fun. =)

Men in Black 3

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It felt good to watch both Tommy Lee Jones & Will Smith make a comeback for the final installment of the Men in Black (MIB) franchise after a 10-year break. MIB was not known for its strong storytelling, imho with its predictable save-the-world theme. Despite that, I found the simple plot light-hearted & entertaining even for this 3rd movie.

In this 3rd & final sequel (hopefully), the focus is on Agent J (Smith) going back in time to rescue his partner Agent K (Jones) from alien invasion & the risk of being erased from existence. Josh Brolin takes the role of the young Agent K, which is an almost perfect impersonation of Jones' character. Plus point! Dialogues are witty which is what I love about MIB from the beginning. However, I did notice some audiences showed lukewarm responses - either their English proficiency ain't strong enough & the subtitles didn't do justice to the jokes or the dialogues were plain lame. That I wouldn't know. *shrugs*

What's new about travelling about back in time to save the world? Gah. I'd have to admit this movie wasn't as good as the 1st movie (as always) but I was glad the nonsensical scenes were kept to minimal compared to the 2nd movie. I'm praying that this will be the last movie to end the franchise - some things are best to be left alone, but then again, you know how Hollywood filmmakers will produce the weirdest storyline in order to rake in big bucks. *sighs*

Pic courtesy of MoviePosterDB.com

Just a scratch

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Yesterday was my first time getting involved in a car accident. It happened when I was rushing to fetch WL from work in his car cuz he waited an hour for me. As I was turning right from Jalan Kemajuan into Jalan Semangat - ensuring that I stay put to my own lane, a Proton Wira suddenly swerved in front of me trying to cut into my lane.

That vehicle was already too near & yet the driver didn't seem to notice me at all. By the time I saw the vehicle right in front of me, it was already too late. The right back bumper glided across WL's car on the bottom left bumper, leaving two scratches which measured approx 10cm long. I honked so loudly & then only the driver in front realised his car had been hit.

The culprit parked the car at the road side while I drove near; took a good look at the man behind the wheels & memorised his car plate number before zooming off to pick up WL. You must be wondering why on earth I left the scene without taking the culprit's phone number. Deep inside, I feared the worst that the male driver (who looked like some drug addict) would harm me in any possible way if I ever got down from the car. Furthermore, I was already late & dreaded to see WL in an uber grumpy face.

Well, the rest was history. WL & I argued for a while but in the end, everything was back to normal. He was worried for my safety too...so even though he was upset that his car is no longer aesthetically perfect, he was very glad that I was safe & sound. Perhaps at the back of his head, he was relieved that I didn't leave the car to speak to the culprit. It's no longer safe for females who are driving alone to deal with whoever that hit her car.

Ear wax

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Last Friday, I was scheduled to do a pre-employment medical checkup for my new job. One of the tests included audiometric test to assess my hearing capabilities. Apparently, I failed the test & it seemed that I had lots of ear wax clogging up both of my ears thus impairing my hearing.

The doctor administered some ear drops for my usage over the weekend to help soften & ease the removal of the ear wax. As soon as I came back from Genting, I headed over to the clinic & had the ear wax cleared out. Oh boy, the process was quite discomforting because I literally had gushes of warm water flushing into & out of my ears. I felt like I was more deaf than ever before. =(

What's more, my ear wax was so hard that it required several rounds of ear syringing that lasted more than 30 mins. When the lumpy ear wax became more visible at the outer ear, the doctor removed it with forceps. The ears hurt a little as she pulled out a large clump of dark & hardened ear wax that had clogged my ear canals for years - surprisingly not causing any pain or infection.

All of a sudden, my auditory ability had improved tremendously. I could hear so many sounds; loud & crystal clear. But it takes some time adjusting to as sounds from the environment seemed amplified & too loud. Well, ultimately I've passed the test. I guess the loud, amplified sound is probably like a blessing in disguise to encourage me to reduce the audio volume or risk impaired hearing in the long run.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The much anticipated movie is finally here! With all the stellar casts portraying our beloved Marvel superheroes, what could go wrong? The plot is something you would have expected anyway but I felt it was nicely written. Basically, the superheroes are called to assemble & save the world from alien domination.

Director Joss Whedon is known for assembling popular casts & bringing out the best of each character in his works without any particular one sticking out like a sore thumb, overshadowing the rest who ought to shine. Every character in The Avengers had its fair share of exposure & wit, though I must admit that Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark aka Iron Man) always got the best wit of them all.

In this movie, you have two delicious looking Chris' namely Hemsworth & Evans reprising their character as Thor & Captain America respectively. Gah, I just couldn't stop staring at their beautiful faces...oohhh, just look at those biceps~ *drools* Enough said.

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk was like a breath of fresh air. He played his character well as Dr. Bruce Banner & convincingly =). Honestly, I'd have to say that it was the best portrayal compared to Eric Bana & Edward Norton. Nevertheless, if I have to make a choice between the two - Eric Bana would still be my top choice because somehow he looks more believable as the green giant. Edward Norton just seemed too sly & bad boy to be able to showcase the good guy who has hidden anger management issues.

Jeremy Renner & Scarlett Johansson were awesome, uber cool & sexy. Frankly, I couldn't imagine anyone else fitting into Hawkeye & Black Widow so perfectly. They may not possess godly powers or extraordinary strength (apart from Iron Man's suit), their skills at tactical espionage is unparalleled.

My only complain about the movie is that towards the end, it got a little draggy & tiring. You know how much the superheroes are capable of - battling an army of aliens from outer space. Some of them may have godly powers but there is a limit. Might as well keep the movie slightly shorter & end it with a big bang (well, it did anyway). That aside, it was indeed the most enjoyable movie of the year for now.

Pic courtesy of MoviePosterDB.com

Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I have been waiting anxiously to get a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home (5MDH) for my DSLR but the Crumpler stores ran out of stock & this means waiting for a couple of weeks to be restocked. When the new batch arrived, I ended up buying the 5 Million Dollar Home 2012 Edition! Ta-daa~

There are a total of 3 colours to choose from & I selected the black/gunmetal version, it being the best looking one compared to the rest. The bag is designed to outlast its lifetime guarantee (as claimed by Crumpler's website), features a super strength water resistant 900D outer with flamed polypropylene webbing & triple strength S-Bend webbing attachment. It also has injection moulded velcro & bonded nylon thread with bar tack stitching on all stress point. Phew~ What a mouthful of technical jargons. My take on this is the bag is built tough to withstand all your outdoor adventures - rain or shine.

Upon grabbing hold of the bag, it felt incredibly light as a feather. In addition, lifting up the bag with the padded carry handle provided the best comfort I have ever experienced before. According to Crumpler, the carry handle is cushioned with neoprene & ergonomically designed to match the natural contours of the hand & fingers. So that explains why the handle feels firm but not rough that it would cut the skin of my palm.

There's a back compartment which is noticeable with its striking red zipper. This compartment is great for keeping your personal belongings close to you ie your phone, wallet or car keys. However, it's pretty tight therefore I wouldn't recommend stuffing in thick wallets or small but bulky items.

Inside the bag where the main compartment is, two padded nylon dividers with fold down flaps can be removed & re-attached; allowing greater flexibility in terms of configuring the space as you like. I'd have to admit that the space ain't that big but Crumpler claims it's sufficient to fit in one main body, 2 small/medium size lenses & an external flash unit.

To better illustrate what this 5MDH is capable of, I have packed in my Nikon D5100 body with 18-55mm & a 350ml stainless steel water bottle as replica of a secondary lens. The empty space on the left side does look pretty tight but I'm pretty sure it can still fit in a 35mm or 50mm prime lens quite snugly. I kinda doubt squeezing in the external flash unit as an extra item is even possible. Anyways, never try never know as I don't have a Speedlite to test & give a better judgement on this.

The front compartment with mesh pockets is very useful to store other camera essentials - extra battery, memory cards, lens cap etc - you name it.

Many existing 5MDH users complained that the velcro fastener produces very loud sounds each time the bag is opened, which can be irritating. The velcro silencer design didn't seem to function well in this case. In this new edition, the velcro silencer design has improved with just a simple flap to cover the velcro fastener in place. Opening & closing the bag with the clasp & compression strap is easy-peasy. If you prefer greater security of your gear, you can always insert the flap back into the small slit hidden behind the velcro fastener.

Lastly, the wide 50mm shoulder strap distributes the weight for the gear quite evenly & provides good balance on the shoulders. This means that petite people like me would not find carrying a camera bag with heavy gear a daunting task anymore. Price retails at RM340 at Crumpler stores in Malaysia & it sure carries a hefty price tag. But which heavily padded bags ain't pricey?

My major complaint for paying such expensive price is the lack of after-sales support in the event issues may arise. Crumpler distributor for Malaysia & Singapore only guarantees a 3-month warranty with full exchange for manufacturing defect. To enjoy the lifetime warranty, product defects exceeding the 3-month period will have to be referred to Crumpler Australia. This means sending your bag to them for QC & verification that it is indeed their manufacturing fault. Can you imagine the cost of delivery to Australia just for Crumpler team to diagnose your defective bag?

I'm generally satisfied with what I've bought. Totally love how the bag has different colour tones to add more excitement & quirk to the design. This 5MDH size is just right for aspiring amateurs like me who's starting out with very few gears, only needing a strong yet lightweight bag for my travel adventures. Really can't wait to take this new baby along with me to Bali in 2 months time! =D

Dimensions: 24.5cm (W) x 22cm (H) x 15.5cm (D)
Volume: 5L
Empty weight: 0.6kg

Info taken from Crumpler Australia

Jobless no more

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I've got great news to share. I was offered a job this morning & I couldn't express how thrilled I am! I thought I'll be jobless for a couple of months because not many people are leaving the workforce during this period as they might be staying on to enjoy their yearly bonus.

The position offered to me is quite a big leap from my previous job. In fact, I'm starting to doubt my capabilities to carry such huge responsibility. Anyhow, I took up the challenge & I'd have to deal with it no matter what. Crossing my fingers & praying hard that everything will turn out smoothly. Wish me luck, peeps~