Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A taste of Duncan Hines

So, I've been selected for the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Duncan Hines. I'm really into trying out cake mixes because that's how I get my first taste of that particular cake, and after that, when I trial and err with online recipes, I know what to change to improve on the taste to either be better than the one I got from the cake mix, or get closer to the cake mix..

I believe every household that does a little entertaining once in awhile should have boxes of cake mixes stocked up in their panty. If you have guests coming last minute and need to prepare some food to share, you can whip up a cake in minutes and share them over coffee! I mean, like really, who doesn't like CAKE?! My friend calls me a carnivore. I say, CAKIEVORE! I can't live a week without cake. *guilty*

I was really in the mood for carrot cake, with all the cold weather, and spices in winter, I think carrot cake really gets me in the mood! I took this opportunity to grab a box of Duncan Hines Classic carrot mix. It's a new and improved recipe by them, and it belonged to the decadent range, where they add in a pouch of real ingredients! Decadent. Desserts are supposed to be like that right?

After I came home, I checked out the Duncan Hines website to see what other flavours of cake mixes were available, and was surprised to find out that they had a recipe in which they tweaked the cake mix to add a few more ingredients to make it different so you never get bored or feel traditional! I chose the Carrot Cake Chewy Oatmeal bars. And quickly got to work on the recipe.

Here's whats in the box. A packet of premixed cake mix, and a separate pack of real carrots and raisins!

They're all dried up at this moment... you just have to pour in hot water.... and..... TADAH!!!! It soaks up the liquid and plumps back into yummy juiciness!

Melt the other ingredients in a pot...... Stir well to mix it all up...

Mix your dry ingredients well.

Add the egg into dry ingredients then mix in the cooked sugar mixture., till well incorporated..

Bake, and refrigerate.

Stack as many as you can on a plate and sink your teeth onto all of them.

I would recommend taking it out of the fridge 10 mins before cutting into them. As you can see I cut into mine too soon, and it was a little hard, thus, the crumbly and uneven edges. Taste wise, biting into it when it was cold made it a little too hard for my liking. But after devouring the first 2 pieces and letting the last one warm up room temperature, I would say its awesome. I love oatmeal, and have been looking for a oatmeal bar recipe for quite some time. I failed in a few before. Too hard, too raw, too sweet, too sticky.But I'm glad I finally made a pretty good tasting oatmeal bar, and am excited to experiment with other flavours and oatmeal. Try it and let me know how it goes! Meanwhile, I'll be experimenting more in my kitchen! Till then!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meal planning tips

Do you hate cooking? Does anxiety strikes when you have to cook a meal? Do you often open your fridge only to blank stare and not know what to do with the ingredients inside? Well, you're not alone. I often feel like that too!

Where I stay now, is very different from Singapore. None of the food places are within walking distance. Its quite costly to eat out. The simplest meals are a minimum of USD$10 per person, not including tax and tips. You'd still have to drive miles and miles out to reach to the town to get the better food. Sometimes, after adding all the costs and inconvenience up, its still better to cook and prepare whatever I'm craving for at home.

Having to cook all 3 meals a day, and sometimes supper too, can be quite tiresome. I have to keep looking and searching online for new ideas on what to cook for the husband. I'm quite fussy in what I put in my mouth, I need colours and variety. I hate repeating dishes so I try to find new recipes all the time to prevent that.

I find that meal planning really useful, as I have the entire list of meals I will be preparing the following week, therefore, on the weekends when I go out to get my grocery, I know what to buy. I have this weekly planner pasted on my wall that acts as a whiteboard, so I can just fill it up on weekends and see what to defrost and prepare on the night before.

Side note: Club Sycamore is what I call my house, because we throw the most "happening" parties in this area! Or at least what I try to make myself believe.

I used to print weekly planners online, and plan my meals ahead, then draft out my grocery list to bring out on my weekend grocery trips. That way, when meal times come, I won't have to tear my hair out to think of what to cook later.

I also take photos of the food I cook, and load it up to a folder on my Facebook. From there, I can see what I've cooked before, and if it turned out good, I can use it for inspiration for future meals when I run out of ideas. I will be posting my meal plans and recipes on this blog in the future as well. I figured if that help me, I'm sure it can help someone else as well. Plus, its also another way I can use as a reference when I need new ideas.

I have been trying out several recipes and writing them down to create my own recipe folder, where I experiment with new recipes and improve them to suit my own palette. Hopefully it will eventually be good enough to share on my blog. I haven't got to the stage of developing my own recipes yet, so I still do get alot of inspiration from other blogs, and my ever - growing cookbook collection.

I have alot of upcoming plans for this blog, and have been slowly changing the layout and planning out the things I want to write about and share here. Tried and tested recipes, travel tips and photos, and reviews of products I've been given to test out. I also plan to do a blogging marathon soon! There's like tons of things in my head I want to share here, and that blogging marathon will force me to post everyday. If you have a particular topic you want to hear my views on, feel free to drop me an email, or leave me a comment!

Check out my "Unfinished Biz" tabs to see my upcoming endeavors I hope to achieve.

Follow me on Twitter @natxwang to be updated on my latest posts, and my daily nonsensical ramblings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Testing the limits of the Nokia BH 905i

As with every purchase of a new gadget, I like to bring them all out for a good spin. I take pride in knowing my gadgets well, and testing them to their limits before deeming whether they are good for me, or whether I'd recommend them to my friends.

I've already talked about the physical aspects of this headset and compared it with the celebrity studded Dr Dre's Noise Cancelling headset.. So now let's talk about quality. Can the Nokia BH 905i provide?

1) Bluetooth Connection.

It connects well with my LG G2x and occasionally on my iPad 2.

When paired with LG G2X:

The music I get from my G2X is crisp clear especially with the DTS selected. The first time I heard some of my favourite old classics, I actually teared because I could hear the words so clearly.  I have tried connecting it to my phone and moving around the house and the music still maintains the quality with minimal breaking.

When paired with iPad 2:

When I paired it at home to watch my dramas on the iPad 2, I had no problems connecting or listening the entire hour of the show. Or rather few hours since I usually watch multiple espisodes of it. However, when I tried to connect to listen to my music library on the car, it breaks every 15 mins or so.  I'm not too sure if it was because there were too many interferences on the road, especially with the FM transmitter and radio turned on.

2) Style

I love black and I can never be the meticulous girl that keeps everything neat and clean at the same time, therefore, I bought the one in black. Also, another point to note, most electronics in white turn yellow after long term usage. Anyway, it matches my black G2X as well.

With its shiny metallic surface, it also does stand out quite abit, so I have no problems wearing it over my well blinged Ed Hardy cap to show it off. ;)

3) Battery life

Even with frequent usage of a couple of hours a day, I usually have to only charge it once a week, twice maximum. I've read it could last up to 11 hours of usage, and go on a week of standby with no problems. Of course, if you use the active noise cancelling function, its gonna suck up the battery quite a bit
4) Noise cancelling function

This is one feature I was most impressed with. When I showed the Nokia BH 905i to my friends, and they tried it on, they were shocked too. When you turn on the ANC function, you practically can't hear yourself screaming, let alone talking.

I've tried it while vacuuming the floor, and couldn't hear my super loud Bissell vacuum at all! On long road trips where the buzzing from the car, the radio, and crazy singing friends were all cramped in a vehicle, I could still enjoy the beauty of my music and not miss a beat of lyrics. I was singing to my favourite songs while the husband was Xboxing with Gears of War 3 with the 5.2 speakers and still not hear a single gun shot.

And I wasn't even on my usual noisy hiphop/RnB songs, mind you!

5) Bass/Treble Boost

There's a little button on the right side of the earphones where you press to boost your bass, or treble, or both! The boost did give a significant improvement on the song, and got me on my feet dancing! I know! A housewife dancing while vacuuming, and singing at the top of her lungs, imagine that! "Everyday I'm vacuuming!" *proceeds to do a lousy shuffling of feet*

6) Dual Voltage

Another thing to point out, its dual voltage. You can bring it to most places and all you'll need is a travel adapter, which you can easily borrow at hotels, to charge it. I was glad it was dual voltage, as it means that I can bring it back to Singapore not worry about needing to get a transformer just to use it. 

7) Ease of use

All the buttons are easily accessible and after using it for a couple of times its easy to remember where to press to navigate it to do what you want. 

8) Comfort
I've put it on for hours on long road trips, and watched drama serials on it, and still feel good to continue wearing it. No ear cramps, or aches with the head set on.


1) Old Nokia charging pinhead.

I really wished that Nokia would upgrade their chargers and change all of them to the standard usd chargers. These days everyone is up and about and traveling longer terms. When I go on roadtrips (usually 8 to 12 hr drives), I bring along my iSound external usb charger to keep my handphone and iPad 2 juices going. And I would have loved it if this headset could have been charged via that as well.

I'm very thankful that Nokia allowed me to trial this headset, as well as the mobile phone N8. I'm apologetic that I'm unable to review the mobile phone as I'm currently too dependent on the Android apps on my current G2X that I wasn't able to plug in my SIM card to trial the phone for longer usage.

But the good news is, given the trial period, I was confident enough in the BH 905i that it compliments the usage of my other gadgets, and allows me to enjoy the most mundane tasks with my favourite music. I bought it from Amazon after a week of trial!

If you notice the above photos, I still have the plastic on it! Didn't want to scratch the beautiful, shiny surface. So I do recommend the Nokia BH 905i, and if you intend to get one for yourself, you'll not regret it.

P.S. Nokia did not pay me to do this advert. I requested to trial this set on my own, wanting to justify if I should make this purchase. It ended with a happy purchase with my own money. The above is my own opinions of the headset. Feel free to post any questions and I'll try to reply them the best I could.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Learning photography

As I struggle to understand my camera and take better photos, I'm really thankful to have friends who have become great photographers themselves, guide me. Thanks to Daniel, who's doing his own wedding photography biz now. He provided me with good advice in selecting a camera and provided me info on the beginner settings in using my camera. And Ron, who gave me interesting new insights. I just realized that I could change the flash settings in my FZ35, adjusting it to make it brighter or dimmer according to the surroundings.

Have you ever taken a photo only to realize later, how the annoyingly bright flash add a eye stinging brightness to the object, making the subject's details bare visible with the bright glob of light reflecting? I just learnt we can better manage that by adjusting the flash. He also added in some useful tips on food photography.

Hopefully I'll be able to put these tips to good use on this long weekend.. Gonna pack my camera stuff and lug it all around. Hopefully coming back with some great photos to show. Till then! ;)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The quest for better music, Dr Dre Beats vs BH 905i. First impression.

I've been looking for a good headphones for quite a while now. I've seen my friends use headsets for quite sometime. Mostly to watch shows on laptops, enjoy great music, and have the privacy to immerse themselves in their own world, without disturbing others. I always chose the cheapest ear buds because I felt that these stuff will never last me more than a couple of months. I was also afraid of the comfort of having headphones, therefore, thinking earbuds are the smallest pieces to stuff in your ears, they should not be causing any discomfort at all.

However, trips to the gym and 10 hour long road trips proved me wrong. When you've had a hard bud in your ear, and running on the treadmill, and your elbow hooks onto your wires, and violently pulling it out of your ears, you'll know what I mean. Trying to sleep in the car on long road trips too. You feel your ears starting to cramp up after an hour of listening to music, and the sound of the cars disrupting your music. A lot of interferences and making the duration and cramp situation harder to bear.

Dr Dre Beats came into the market recently and promoted as having high definition music quality. At that time, I only knew HD videos, I didn't know anything about HD music. I also knew that Dr Dre Beats weren't so affordable. But when I first saw it in Best Buy, I knew I had to test it out. I plugged in my mobile phone, and played my favorite tunes. My jaw dropped, and I was in awe. I could hear crystal clear quality and the bass and the beats of the songs were awesome.

I love hiphop, pop and RnBs, typical of what you would hear in a club. My cheap earbuds allowed me to hum with the music, but the beats were always somehow distorted, and I had never enjoyed music, the way it was made in the studios, not until I tried Dr Dre Beats at Best Buy. Since then, I was on a quest to find better sound quality to allow me to enjoy my favourite tunes.

Thanks to Nokia, I had the opportunity to test out the awesome BH 905i headset, an amazing invention. If you know me, I'm quite gadget/tech crazy, and I always "want" the best gadget within my budget to fit my lifestyle. Consumers have no lack of great headsets to choose from these days, with BOSE, Sennheiser,  Dr Dre Beats, Monster, and the wallet friendly, Skullcandy thrown into the mix.

The solution to a long, tiring day.....
Pop in some good music, and lay back with some XingTea. My favorite canned drink at the moment. Not too sweet, flavorful, and healthier choice.

I think we all agree to a certain extent that, whatever music we listen to, does affect our mood a certain way at that moment. Dance music, makes us upbeat, ready to go, be it in a workout, or some physical task at hand. Classical music, allows our body to slowly wind down, and relax. Love songs, starts a beautiful night of romance. You get the meaning.

At that point in time, the Dr Dre Beats, HD Noise cancelling headset was top of my list to buy. But the price, was holding me back. And I also didn't like the fact that its wired.  My friend bought the Dr Dre Beats before my Nokia trial set came, and I had the opportunity to test it out, and compare both of them.

Headphones in the original hardcover they came with. Dr Dre Beats on the left, Nokia BH 905i on the right.

Both headphones fold, and  pack away nicely in the bag that they came with. The hardcover for both offer good protection for your headphones when you travel. I'm used to traveling with a huge tote bag to fit my camera, ipad, Isound external battery, and my charging wires all in my "handbag", so fitting in this pouches was not an issue to me. You can easily slide the bag into the glove compartment of the car on road trips. It fits nicely into the side compartment on the passenger door of my car too.

The accessories that came with the Dr Dre Beats. The neccessary wires, a separate wire with mic for connecting to handphone so you can talk with it.  And airplane attachment, so you can use your personal headset for long flights.

The accessories that came with Nokia BH 905i. Alot of different plugs and wires, for every possible situation that you might use your headset in. And it all fits into a small little pouch that fits into the protective case!

So this is my first impression of both headsets. I ended up buying one of them. And I'll be sharing with you my thought process of how I compared them, and why I bought it in the end.

Next up: Part 2 of comparison. Usage & Compatibility. Coming soon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 rules to a successful relationship

We started dating on 6th july 2002. Got married on 09 Sept 2009. As of now, we've been dating for 9 years and married for 2. I see the dating part as a part to iron out the creases of a relationship. Its common to have quarrels and fights all the time as 2 people try to unite and get to know more of each other.

Most people get together due to the fact that they find a lot of common views in each other. Be it in thoughts, in hobbies, in life. As you try to understand each other, the more you realize that you're different. I see the differences as an introduction to widening your view on life. Too many times people get too comfortable in relationships that they get lazy to continue working on it. But a relationship is a continuing process. You can't stop working on it. The day you stop working on it, is the start of your love dying off.

We've come to the stage where while we still have our differences, we hardly quarrel anymore. I don't remember the last time we had a big shouting match or argument. But each and everyday has been filled with love and happiness found in our company. Different relationships require different work. But here are my own rules to maintain mine.

While this is written with a female's point of view. I believe a male can do the same too.

Ten rules to a successful relationship:

1) Hugs & Kisses
I don't mean full on, wet, saliva dripping, tongue - action kissing. I mean a peck on the lips before you leave for work, or before you leave to go out with your friends, when you wake up, before you sleep, and any other time you feel like doing it. Its a small action that only requires a second to do, but it does bring warmth to the heart, and it does feed the love growing in you. But one thing to note, do it even if you both are on a cold war. DO NOT DEPRIVE EACH OTHER OF A KISS EVEN IF YOU'RE FIGHTING. Many times, a hug and a kiss has done lots to extinguish the fire burning in our bellies when we've been quarreling, and we're able to sit down and talk things out, rather than shout at the top of our lungs.

2) Cook when you can.
They say, "Food is the way to a man's heart." Its TRUE! There's no denying that we find comfort in food. Food brings sweet memories of family, home, and love. When you put love and care in the preparation of your food, you can taste it in every mouthful! You'll be looking forward to having home cooked food every time, rather than going out distracting yourselves with friends and the public, thus having less time for each other.

3) Clear the housework.
When bills are paid, and the house is clean and neat, it means there's nothing much on the lists of to-do, other than the ones that you both really want to do together. Again, this gives time for enjoyment together, thus feeding the love!

4) Invest in activities you can do together
If you find that you have similar interests, invest on it! Say, both of you enjoy playing games. Get a XBox 360, and buy the games that you both would enjoy playing together. This keeps both of you home, and spending time with each other. If you enjoy watching drama series/movies, get the best TV you can afford, a sound system, a super comfortable love seat sofa, and a media player. Its an investment to keep you both home, and spending time together, without boring the hell out of each other.

5) Listen, Talk. Action!
There's a time to listen, and a time to talk. Listen to each other's needs and wants. Talk about your differences, and weigh out the pros and cons and make those decisions together. When you're a couple, and you seek each other for opinions, you show respect to each other, and to come to a compromise. Nobody should be "higher" than the other.

6) Love his family/friends as your own.
 There's nothing more important to a man than his family and his friends. Don't degrade or disrespect any of them. Love and care for them as if they are your own, and he'll treat you as his treasure. And I don't mean to fake it out. People do feel it. Open your heart and learn to accept them with real love.

7) Put him as your top priority in your life. 
When you give more, you take more. When you put him as the king of your palace, and he feels like that prince, trust me, he will return the favor. People need constant reassurances to know that they're being loved, and that we're there for them all the time. This does means some sacrifices in your lifestyles, but trust me, small sacrifices to have a loving relationship for life, is totally worth it.

 8) Sex & Seduction. (for the married couples only)
There's a reason why every men's survey shows they ideally want sex 3 times a week! BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GETTING IT! Pleasure is an addiction, and no one should be denied of it. Humans are made this way to reproduce. Sex is not dirty, neither is seducing your man. If you're not enjoying making love, find out why? Try to find ways to get turned on. Find out what rocks your world, what makes your mind spin, and what makes you want more. If you need toys or props to get turned on, GET THEM! Getting a vibrator does not make you a slut, you just happen know what you want. Men will work hardest to make sure their woman enjoy it as much as them. Trust me, its turns them on much more when the woman they are in bed with, climax and are having as much fun as they are. Seduce them, make them feel wanted, and show much much you crave for their attention. Don't worry about the flaws on your body, that will be the last thing they notice when they see you getting your SEXY on.

9) Give him his space, and get your own.
 There's bound to be some things that each of you enjoy doing but not the other. Take some time off to indulge in your own stuff, while he does his "things". My husband enjoys snowboarding in winter, and gaming on his PC/Xbox. I take the time when he is away to do what I like. Play with my gadgets and stuff.. Sometimes he has to go away on his work attachments. And these trips could take almost a month. I used to not be able to handle being alone, since we've lived together for all the time we've been together. But over time, I've started to enjoy time off for myself, and doing things I enjoy, like baking, reading, and photography.

10) Never belittle each other.
"Do not do onto others, what you would not do onto yourselves." Respect each other as you would want people to respect you. Don't call each other degrading terms. Be encouraging. Be open to ideas, and push away any negative thoughts you have of each other. Support each other. Even if you think his ideas are not going to work, give it a try, because you never know!

With that said, love is always growing. And like every growth, you need to feed it. Keep on feeding the love, keep on feeling the LOVE. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Falling into fall...

A blink of an eye, and summer is over. We're going into autumn, known as one of the most beautiful seasons of the whole year. The day starts chilly in the mornings, comfortably warm in the afternoons, and shiveringly cold at night. I would love it more, if not for the stark reminder that after autumn comes winter, and being one that hates cold, it sucks.

Winter here is crazy.  We've experienced temperatures here that has dropped way below, -18 degrees Celsius to be exact. Even layering the thickest clothes wouldn't help if you had the slightest bit of skin exposed. My nose and ears hurt with the slightest wind. Skin cracking and bleeding were a common sight. Lips were dry, and peeling constantly. If it was snowing, the water from the melted snow would seep into the shoes and my toes would hurt from frostbite. I hate winter, and I can't emphasize it enough.

The hubs is looking forward to it though. It means he could go out onto the mountains and snowboard and play all he could, and his wife couldn't follow him, 'cause she was too afraid of the cold, and the speed and adrenaline rush was really not for her.

I wonder what winter would bring this time around. Would we break last year's record snowfall? We'll see.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I can't wait!!!! Nokia product review coming up!

OMG! Time flies! And it flies so very fast! Since the Border's closing down sale, I've been stuck on reading my books, trying new recipes, and playing with my gadgets.. How do people update their blogs like everyday??? I do have lots of photos, but the thought of loading them up one by one, kills! I'm a LAZY blogger, get used to it! But hey, I'm trying! Give me some more time!! I'll eventually post all my pics up!

I've been wanting to get into doing product reviews. And I'm glad to say Nokia has accepted my request! I'm so excited that my items have shipped out, and I get to play with them for 2 weeks. Excited to know what is coming up? I'll take pics of the unboxing and share with you my experience. 

Meanwhile, I have plenty of reviews I'd like to do. Mainly with my self purchased new gadgets and new games. Trying to organise my life alittle right now, and hopefully, you'll get more regular posts, with photos! ;)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new house a new beginning

The last 2 months have been a breeze. I could hardly keep up. We had 2 weeks to move out of our place and move in a new home, we had a long weekend that we wanted to take advantage of and hit to roads to some places we had not visited, and we had to settle in our new home and prepare for the daily routines.

We hit up the usual Las Vegas on the first stopover in this road trip. We were lucky enough to get free room stay for 2 nights in a suite. And then it was off to San Diego, and lastly Los Angeles. We covered slot of new places this time round. Places that needed slot of time to cover. Mainly, Seaworld, Disneyland California, and Universal Studios. Yes, pictures will be coming up soon.

Settling into this new beautiful home, I'm quite satisfied with it. Initially had high expectations, wanted 2 toilets and 3 rooms. So I could have a guest toilet and a store room. But it worked out pretty great. Bigger kitchens, single toilet to share, and had an remote controlled garage which we also used to store our stuff. We also have a beautiful backyard, where I'm sitting down now to enjoy the summer, while typing out this blog post. I'm loving this home, and trying to maintain it in it's best condition that I can.

I've been happily experimenting in the kitchen as we finally have an open concept kitchen with a counter top where I can display and design my baking experiments. So you can really expect more food posts to come up, as well as tips on how to keep your homes in the best conditions, since that is what i've been reading up on mostly these days.

So, stay tuned!!

P.s. Book reviews coming soon. Some new purchases:

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Pregnancy Scare

I'm on a recent binge eating spree. I have no idea why. I've put on 4lbs over the last weekend alone. Then again it might be due to the birthday celebration of my buddy, which I organised at my house. I did home made Portuguese Egg Tarts, and a boobie birthday cake for him. He's almost like a younger brother to me, and while our friendship did not start up quite right, I guess over the course of one year, we have grown so much closer, probably due to the fact he's pretty close with my hubs, we've been going on a whole lot of roadtrips together, and has been staying over at my place almost every weekend. We've been so accustomed to each other's habits and such.

That said, finally my stress is over. I actually thought I'm pregnant. My period was late for 2 weeks and together with all these weight gain, and cravings for food, I was freaking out. I kept having the urge to puke, and was feeling nauseous at some point. I was feeling tired all the time for the past few days. To the extent, I actually used a pregnancy test kit on Sunday just to be sure.
My friend even commented my double chin is coming out again, and so was my ever bloated tummy.

My period finally came today, with a whoop for joy from me when I went to the toilet to pee. Don't get me wrong, if it turns out that I'm pregnant, the hubs and me are more than willing to keep and have a baby of our own. We're ready to complete our family, yet at the same time, we don't have any idea when is a good time to start "making babies" to prepare for that long 9 month discomfort. Plus, I have no idea how many month old does the baby have to be in order to get on the plane to fly back to Singapore in due time. I'm also worried as hell about the care of a baby since its one of my biggest fear to carry that fragile little creature, or how to give comfort to that crying beast.

We have been discussing about having kids pretty much recently. The hubs is worried that if we have one too late, health problems might arise for me, as well as the kid. We did think about having kids when we first came, and I stopped my contraceptive pills for that. I've been taking them for the past so many years, to control my menstrual flow and my cycles, due to my low blood pressure, I tend to feel faint during my period. However, seeing other families and their raging kids scares the hell out of me, and I made the hubs wear the rubber when we came around to having our bedroom workout.

I just wasn't ready for it. I don't know when will I ever be. I often wonder how other parents handle these. Hubs say, often, the skills will come naturally when it comes to you. I'm still fearful, and I feel the need to read and learn more about it before we conceive. But who am I to control the fate of nature? I guess in due time, we'll take away the rubber, and let nature decide.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My 165 rep sandbag workout today

I saw the 365 rep workout on bodyrock and decided to try it out, but I modified it as its 12am in the middle of the night when I did the workout, plus I'm still not in that much of a good shape, yet.

So instead of doing 30 each, I did 15 reps of each exercise.. And again, I modified it to suit the equipment I have. I used a 12lb "sandbag" which is actually a duffel bag I filled with pebbles.

The workout:
-Sandbag squat  backward lunge - 15 reps
-Triple knee tuck- 15 reps
-Sandbag combo - full body - 15 reps
-Forward & backward lunge w/ sandbag - 15 reps
-Sit ups - 15 reps
-Sandbag squat - 15 reps
-Plank side jumps - 15 reps
-Dips with legs straight - 15 reps
-Pendulum - 15 reps
-Push up - 15 reps
-Mountain Climbers -15 reps

Time taken: 15 mins 18 seconds.

I ended the workout with HIIT high knees. 4 mins of 20 second work, 10 second rest.

Super sweaty! But feeling oh so good! Did some ME time today, have u?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Falling off the bandwagon.

I've been saying that I want to go on this 100 day fitness streak started off my Sparkpeople, and I've tried it twice, each time only to fall short of 20 days, and fall off the bandwagon. Have you ever fallen off your fitness routine, how did you overcome it?

I found it hard to stick to it on weekends. While I know, I'm active on weekends window shopping, and gymming on Sundays, but I always feel I'm not worked out enough! Therefore, making me feel ashamed of not being disciplined enough to give myself 15 mins out of a 24 hour day. Have you ever felt this way? Feeling that you're not giving yourself enough? I like how my body is slowly toning up while I was stuck onto my routine, but once we hit a long weekend with a good 2 days of PH, and we get on a road trip, all that fitness flies out of the window.

Firstly, while on the road trip, I'm in the car sleeping half the time, 2ndly, I'm not alone in the room, we share with others, and its kinda hard to workout in shorts and sports bra while getting into awkward positions with another guy, other than my husband, in the room. I don't even workout at home, when my husband is around.

I don't think looking all wet and sweaty, with my specs about to fall off looks attractive. Plus, its hard to focus on yourself, when you're trying to avoid awkwardness with someone else staring at you. Especially not when, you have a layer of tummy flab all around you. Don't get me wrong, I love myself, and I'm not one of those obsessed with my physical appearances that I need to workout day in day out to get skinny till I look like a skeleton. As much as I hate that flab around my tummy, I'm not about to go on a crazy diet just to lose my weight.

I workout to feel good internally. To get rid of those pent up frustrations. To get stronger, so I get do more around the house than to wait for some handsome, kind, young soul, to come help me out with it. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that it takes ages to get him up and moving to get a task done. I have to nag probably 20 times to make myself feel like an old grandma, before he lifts a finger.

Given that my husband leaves me from time to time for work, each time weeks to months long, I guess its a good start for me to get myself stronger. Why do YOU workout? What keeps YOU sticking to your fitness routine?

I do need to get some sweat going, hopefully to release some frustrations of being lazy this week. I only squeezed in 1 workout this week, and its not making me feel any better.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AA - App-aholic Anonymous

I need help. I'm App-aholic. What does it mean? Yah, I self created it. Basically, if you're like me, constantly downloading new apps, checking them out on Itunes or Android Market, and you get more Apps than clothes, that's App-aholic behavior. You spend hours and hours on your gadgets, and the juice in them can never last an entire day without charging.

I haven't blogged for like almost a month, and if you do follow me on Twitter (@natxwang), you would have found out about my recent purchases. The new LG G2x Android phone, and the ultra sold out, Ipad 2.

I did mention that getting the Ipad 2 will help me blog more often from everywhere, but who am I lying to? There's so many things to do on that thing, and plus the new phone, I hardly have enough of the Itunes, and the Android Market. ARGH!

I'll probably put up some reviews on Applications for both markets that I really like. I have like 80 - 100 Apps on my Ipad 2 and counting, and probably another 50 on my Android phone. I've been trying to rearrange all my short cuts, my scrolling is endless, and I have 100+ of podcasts and almost 20 magazines that need my attention. Yikes!

I love that I'm hardly bored, or idle. I'm a gadget girl. I can do without my Guccis and Louis Vuittons, I don't own any of them. But I can't do without my gadgets. And, I really do look after them very well. They are like my babies. My camera - a Panasonic FZ35, my Ipad 2, my Asus gaming laptop, my 1tb portable drive, my phone, and me. And they go with me everywhere, on every roadtrip, holiday and all.

You can imagine how many chargers I have to remember to pack, how many batteries I need to make sure are well charged before I set off. Not forgetting all the backups. And, most importantly, the accessories. Camera lenses, cleaning kits, tripods, mouse, blah blah blah. The list goes on and on, yeah its heavy, but I really can't do without them, can't do without a small handbag either, need to fit my camera and Ipad 2 at the same time!

Sigh, I'm excited about the upcoming summer road trips. My ipad and phone is all loaded and power packed with entertainment, and ready to go! New lenses are coming today for my camera! Just ordered another 16,000 mAh external battery pack that can provide an extra 30 hours usage to my ipad 2 and g2x. I'll drop a review for both gadgets soon, and what accessories you need to buy. Any app-aholic anonymous meetings for me?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Getting fit & making smart choices.

As I've said before, I'm going on a fitness streak. I haven't stopped of given myself any slack at all. Its probably one of the craziest things I've committed myself into. And trust me, I have plenty of excuses reasons not to workout on any day. However, due to this commitment that I made to myself, 100 days of 15 mins of fitness each day, I need to do it. Hopefully, its going to turn into a habit, and it will do good for as long as I can hold onto it.

I've been trying to push the hubby to workout more, and he's been trying to get himself to go to the gym to workout more often. Starting his time at the treadmill. ;) I'm really happy, and to encourage him, I go with him, and we run side by side. He's actually a pretty good runner! He started at 6.5 after warm up, and till now, the max I can go is still 6 only. :(

But so far, he managed to go gym once this week only, and every Sunday, he would go for badminton. Let's see if I can push him for 2 times a week of gym, and 1 badminton session on Sunday. I miss his slimmer days. He's almost overweight now. I guess its my fault for cooking all those food for him.

Yesterday night, after his work, he was hungry, and asked me to fix for him supper. I told him I didn't have any food defrosted except salad. And I went ahead and fixed him a salad with some turkey ham, and hard boiled eggs. Topped with dried pear, Crasins, and walnuts. This was my dinner without the eggs.

 Maybe its our first step to healthy living. I hope its here to stay. I may be pushing my buttons, but its going the way I want it. Now, I need to educate myself more on fitness and nutrition. I take it upon my duty as his wife to allow him to live a better life, by encouraging him to take on healthy choices. I want to be that Savvy Wife, who knows how to be her husband's personal trainer / nutritionist in the home. Its a choice you have to make.

Updates on the workout I've been doing:

26 Apr 2011 

Rev Abs - Total Strength & Mercy Abs 63 mins

27 Apr 2011

1.5 mile walk / jog on treadmill 20 mins
20 mins doing strength training on machines with focus on arms

28 Apr 2011

Rev Abs - Rev up your Abs 45 mins

29 Apr 2011

RevAbs - Power Intervals 1 25 mins

I will do reviews of the dvds I've been doing, so if you're keen, you may purchase it for your own use. I'm not a Beachbody Coach, and I'm not paid or sponsored by them. Although I'd love too. =)

I also mix other DVDS in my workout, and I'm currently crazy about, Biggest Loser workouts, Jillian Michaels, and Bob Harper, as well as, this RevAbs series. I like to keep switching things around so that I don't get bored. I'm always on the lookout for new workout DVDs as well, so if you have any to recommend, just leave me a comment, or drop me an email. Preferably, with minimal workout equipment and doable in a small space at home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Fitness Streak

My food's now back to the average, aside from the slight disappointment the husband shows when its alittle on the bland side. He kinda told me off today, that the food was a little boring, and he didn't want to share it with his friends. Oh well, his way of telling me to buck up on my cooking. Yeah, thanks! I'm trying hard alright!

So, I've been saying how much I needed to workout, and how much I haven't been working out. I let my body laze for 1 entire month straight. All along, just feeling guilty but not doing anything about it.

I've been using Sparkpeople, to log my workout minutes for quite sometime. I love that its free, and they have articles on nutrition, meal plans, and they count calories for you too. They have a forum, and members blogs, which they share their stories and motivate each other. I'm kind of a quiet lurker, but I love it there. Just logging my own time.

So I came across Sparkguy's blog, and he mentioned that he's going to go on a 1000 day fitness streak. Whereby, each day, he had to do 10 mins of activity, and log it, until he hit 1000 days. So that strike a spark (pun intended) in me, to get into a 100 day fitness spark. I haven't been active for that long before, and I wanted to get my fitness on track, without scaring myself off. So now, I'm on Day 5 and still on track with drinking 8 glasses of water a day, and a minimum of 15 mins of fitness activity a day.

Here's what I've been doing:

20 Apr 2011

Biggest Loser Cardio Max Lvl 1 and 2 (35 mins)

21 Apr 2011

2 mile walk (30 mins)

22 Apr 2011

1 mile walk ( 15 mins)

23 Apr 2011

1 hour walk around Boise Farmer's Market

24 Apr 2011

Jillian Michaels Biggest Winner Cardio Kickboxing (30 mins)

25 Apr 2011

Chalean Extreme Day 1 Burn 1

Care to join me in my fitness route? Are u doing something to keep yourself active everyday?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Worst meal I ever cooked!

I had a great start to this week, where my hubby gave me daily compliments and told me how wonderful everything was. I packed up our shoe racks, and our kitchen. It made the entry to our house less cluttered, and everything was much neater. Each compliment made me a happier wife, and gave me energy to want to do more for him. I felt so much love, I put it all into the cooking, and he was full of good words for all the dishes I made.

That was, until yesterday, the most disastrous dinner I ever made. Gosh! I can't even believe it. It's probably worse than dog food. So, this smart litte bitch in me was packing the kitchen shelves, and saw 2 cans of sardines.

I, for a fact, know that the sardines in USA have this very strong stinky smell to them, and the smell lurks into the entire home. It doesn't just go away, and after u eat them, the after taste gets stuck in your mouth. As I packed the rest of the stuff, I saw a small can of curry powder, which I've been trying to finish using, now, having the new spicier powder that I brought back from Singapore.

So, putting 1 + 1 = 2, I started googling for curried sardines, thinking that the curry could cover the fishy smell. I decided in the end, to just follow the instructions on the curry can, and cook it like how i cook curry chicken, with onions and garlic and coconut milk.

I also found a packet of pureed corn soup in the cupboard, and decided to use it as well. I warmed the soup, added potatoes and carrots, and brought it to a boil for 20 mins. My itchy hand decided that blending all the vegetables together would make it like a creamy version of the ABC soup, and that's what I did. I did do spoonfuls of tasting while cooking, and it was pretty alright.

When we sat down for dinner, I spat out the sardines after the first mouthful. It was like dog food. And while trying to wash down the after taste with spoonfuls of the soup, I realise they were like baby food, and after a few mouthfuls, my palate was bored of it. I lost my appetite and decided to fry eggs for me and hubby to eat with our coconut milk flavoured rice.

No photos, I don't want to be reminded of this terrible dinner.

Lesson learnt:

Stick to what you're familiar with, or at least, tried and tested recipes.
Stop experimenting.
I'm still not that good at cooking.
Fresh ingredients are still, always the best.
To hell with canned food.
Hell yeah to fresh food!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1 mth of MIA and my holiday in Singapore

Dear Savvy Wife,

I haven't been good. A week before my holiday, I was busy buying gifts and packing luggages for the trip. Mind you, 3 weeks of holiday and visiting back home, is a hell lot of gifts to pack. 2 luggage of gifts and a luggage of clothes for each of us, that makes 4 x 20kg each. Thank SIA for good baggage allowances. Our total:

2 x laptops
2 x hand carry
4 x 20kg luggage
1 handbag

You practically need octopus arms to carry all of them. Lucky for us, we had friends to help us. I couldn't manage to carry any of them.

We had 2 important things to cover on our trip back.

1) To see and spend time with our parents
2) To eat as much local food as we can.
3) To enjoy the sun.

We did plenty of both, and only ate in hawker centers, which, to our dismay, caused our to fall sick in the first week. The toilet runs did me no good, I actually lost 3kg due to that. The weather was hitting on us, too warm, and too sweaty. And the food from the hawkers, too oily and probably not too cleanly prepared, compared to the home cooked food I've been providing back here.

It was a good 3 week holiday back to Singapore and we had pretty much covered all the food that we missed having back here. I took lotsa food pics and made a mental note to replicate as much as I can back here in USA.

As such, you'll probably be seeing alot of my failed recipes coming up on my blog real soon. And I have yet to start my workout routine again. I've fallen off my routine after falling sick in the first week. I spent much time sleeping off the jetlag and fever/flu/cough due to the weather and food.

Now, i'm trying to get off the dizzyness I'm feeling due to my periods. I have low blood pressure, and all the loss of blood is causing me to feel dizzy, and crampy.

I'll be back soon, after I get used to the housewifey routine, and packing up the home.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leave it behind

I've been facing a tough week. Probably said some stuff in a rougher way than I intended, out of my personal issues. When I thought life was just going down and downer, and when I got personally all shagged out, its all turning back.

I went to the gym yesterday with all intention to WORK it OUT. I wanted to put all my frustrations on the machines and weights. I wanted to come out all sore and happy. And I really did.

Pushed myself on the treadmill. I'm not really a runner, and while I've been doing alittle exercising here and there, I'm not really of a healthy state. And here, I've managed to push myself to jog 1.5 miles on the treadmill. I did 3.5 incline and 3.5 speed to warm up for 5 mins. Started jogging at 5 for 2 min. Slowed to 3.5 for 1 min. Pushed to 5.5 for 1.5 mins. Slowed to 3.5 for 1 min. And pushed to 6 for almost 2 mins. Repeated until 1 hit 1.5 miles in a sweaty mess, and my heart beat was almost pounding out of my head. I had a slight pain in my head while I was pushing myself to my limits.

Headed to the weight training room, and did my usual cycle before heading back for another mile on the treadmill and leaving, knowing that I've left it all behind.

Never felt better. =)

Are you making yourself feel better?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Born This Way Workout Scores

So I've been following for quite some time now. I haven't really managed to try doing her workouts though, it looks really tough, and most of them need a sand bag or a dip station, both of which I don't have.

Recently, I did my own "sand" bag, but have still not come around to using it. Its still alittle too heavy for me. I'll post up a picture of it later on, so you guys can start doing your own sand bags at home. It seems like a good variety to add to the usual workouts, since u can use it in many different ways.

This is the workout I did  yesterday. I also started logging down my workouts and timing so I can see whether I did improve over time, and I can push myself harder to get better times.

The breakdown of the workout is here. You can modify it abit and do it according to your own fitness level.

My modifications: 
-Instead of sandbag, I did with 5 lb free weights.
-I did the plank knee touches on my elbows.
-Instead of single leg squats I did a normal squat. My glutes were burning!

My score:
Part 1:
-Sandbag Sumo Squat (left)
12, 13, 13, 15

- Plank Knee Tucks
14, 18, 17, 17

-Sandbag Sumo Squat (Right)
13, 13, 13, 10

Part 2
-Sandbag Swing (Left arm)
16, 16, 17, 16

-Plank Side to Side Jump
18, 15, 19, 13

-Sandbag Swing (Right arm)
16, 17, 16, 17

Part 3
-Squat with side kick (left)
12, 12, 10

- Squat with side kick (Right)
13, 11, 10

To make up for the slack that I had by modifying it simpler, I finished the workout with:

20 crunches
20 left side lying leg lifts
20 right side lying leg lifts
20 lying back extensions
20 oblique twists
20 seated torso twists with 5 lb weight

Have u done your workout today? What did you do today, to make yourself feel better?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weights for women?

The hubby has been away since last Thursday. With all these free time on my hands right now, I decided to put all my energy into focusing on myself, and have been heading to the gym quite often. We're looking at probably every other day. The rest of the days, I workout at home.

I've managed to incorporate a little strength training into my workouts now. My routine at the gym goes like this:

-7min warm up on the stationary bike.
-10 min on the elliptical
-Head to strength training. 3 sets of 15 reps each.
I adjust the weights (lighter or heavier) based on how I am feeling after each rep. But I usually let them burn out.
-1 - 3 miles on the treadmill depends on how exhausted I am.

Went there on Sunday, the weights room was empty so I took the chance to try out all the different machines with the lightest weights to practice the moves. But kinda regretted that I didn't push myself hard enough.

Went again yesterday, this time pushing up the weights to the maximum that I could take. I wanted to feel the burn in the muscles and the soreness. Call it torture, but I like the sweat and the exhaustion. At the same time, I feel stronger each time.

Jogged 1 mile after that, but my legs were getting a little cramped so I stopped and did a cool down, and head back for a hot bath.

I'm going to try working out at home more, with bare minimum equipment, and will start sharing them here. I did a 10 kg sand bag for myself recently, and am looking forward to use them in my routines.

Till then, Pump it up! ;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hard at work, out!

One of my resolutions was to get fitter this year. Being here, and having the chance to go for road trips around the USA, and visiting the famous national parks, but not having the endurance and breath to appreciate each park in their entire beauty sickens me.

I wanted to be able to organise hikes to go up hills and mountains to take photos of the beautiful land around us. After all, when we do go back to SG, its only gonna be bukit timah hill to climb. So this winter, I've been trying to push myself to work harder at it. Lose weight or not, I want to push myself to get a fitter body, get a leaner body with strength rather than flab.

So my workout this week, consists of Bob Harper's newest DVDs, that I got from walmart for $9.

I did the 30 min toning section from the DVD on Tuesday which gave me a good 2 days of arms, thighs, and butt soreness. I could barely walk or do anything.

Wednesday: REST and unable to do anything at all. Due to soreness in entire body.

Thursday: I attempted the 1 hr cardio in the DVD and I had to take several breaks thru the workout to survive. My lungs felt like it was gonna burst. I had to switch to lighter weights in the middle of the workout because my arms were too sore to carry the 5lbs anymore. My thighs were shaking.

Friday: REST! I woke up feeling aches in every part of my body. My lower back suffered alot from the swings and squats in the workouts in this DVD. Bob Harper seems to enjoy doing lunges, and squats. Most of his workouts seems so consists multiples of variations of lunges and squats. Its really bad on my knees and hips though. I might not be able to do this DVD as often as I would like, but its a good addition to the collection I currently have. Adding to that with my hard core cardio at the gym, I should be good.

Saturday: Walk/Jog 5km on the treadmill at the gym. Finished it in 45 minutes.. I know i'm still quite slow. But I guess I should be able to slowly work up my timing right? After all, fitness is personal, and I should be going at my own pace and improve on it without wearing myself out.

I also bought this on the sale last weekend at Walmart. And I've been using it for some additional toning moves after my workouts. Did some crunches, followed by push ups and back extensions. Will try to add more moves as I go along, still reading up on how to use it to the fullest extent. ;)

Am heading to the gym tomorrow again. Lets hope I can keep this schedule every week and I will be off for a great start to 2011. My other goal is to cook as much as possible for this year, to cut down on our expenses, hopefully to bring up our savings.

My third goal will be to complete the certifications that I want to get. Which means, I gotta start studying loads!!! Sigh.

How has your week gone?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coming soon!

I've been really getting lazy. So lazy in fact. I have alot to update. I have lotsa beautiful pictures to show. The amazing canyons and rocks that USA have to offer, a beautiful sight. But I've been so "busy" with catching up on my favourite dramas and shows, that I hardly blog. Somehow, mindlessly watching these shows do not give me anything interesting to blog about.

I haven't been doing much experimenting in the kitchen either. Well, unless u consider doing bubble tea a new twist to my kitchen repertoire. I did much baking over Christmas, and have a few interesting recipes to share. Even more upcoming bakes for the Chinese New Year. Bear in mind that where I am now, there's no Bak Kwa. And its a torture. I go through like 3kg of bak kwa every year in Singapore, by myself. I've gotta do some experimenting in the kitchen to try to get thru this MAJOR MAJOR craving of mine. Not forgetting pineapple tarts and such. I'll be back with some interesting results and more photos..

This weekend, I'll be in for a thrill ride.. We're going a little further down, to do something I'd probably would have never attempted in my life, but I do not want to regret not trying. I'll be back with some sneak peeks. Till then, please keep visiting! ;)