Monthly Archives: October 2008

Celebrate Birthday Away from Home

On Saturday morning, I suddenly recalled it was David’s birthday as the familiar date popped out from the laptop calendar I was looking at.  Garren and I decided to celebrate for him that evening.

Garren, David and I are fellow Singaporeans ~ no matter that David was from Ipoh, Malaysia but now his family lives in Singapore.  David has been in States for last 4 years, having completed his University education at Michigan State last year, and now working in Houston.  Garren just arrived into Houston end June this year, on a 6 month stint with a corporate company in the Energy sector.  Both of them met virtually via Overseas Singaporean forum.  Garren found me through my blog and linked me with David and a couple others from Singapore.  It is so amazing that we formed a trusting friendship quickly away from home, while we may never know each other back home.  I had met both of them for the first time post Ike.

When I first came to Houston, I had not thought of meeting anyone from home.  I did not make any effort to find people, except to locate Cafe Singapore for Singapore National Day.  I prepped myself that since I am only here for 20 weeks or slightly more, I would focus only on school and anything pastry.  Even now, very much so.  They knew that I don’t go out on weekdays as I reserve my energy only for school.  So that I have no form of excuse, whatsoever.  Most of the time during weekdays, I am comfortable spending time reading, surfing, writing, dreaming and napping.  It is so unreal, a luxury.  On weekends, I enjoy reading and drinking coffee at a bakery cafe … these are the times my mind will be working most actively ~ ideating.  Sunday is very much my recovery day – wake up late and do whatever I wish. 

We did not decide on a place to go – Garren picked me about 7 and we were on our way to pick David from his apartment along beltway 8.  Garren suggested Nonya Grill at Sugarland as he recalled David loved the food there the last time a group of Singaporeans met there 2 weeks ago.  I did not join then as I was hibernating… ha.  The drive to Sugarland felt like a short one, though it looked further on the map.  Nonya Grill serves Malaysia and Singapore cuisine, the dishes from the 2 neighbouring countries are pretty close but vary in taste.  Nonya means Peranakan or Straits Chinese ~ forming a unique and colourful culture of its own from inter-racial marriages of the past.

The food at Nonya Grill was yummy indeed.  Very flavourful.  My fav were Oyster Egg Omelette and Hot Plate Tou-fu.  I love egg in all forms, it adds a sweet flavour to the food, as well as a thickened consistency.  Eating out with these 2 guys means no vegetable dishes.  The business was brisk at the restaurant, the servers were mostly from Malaysia, I think.  During our dinner, we were entertained by an African-American who sang Chinese pop songs, he was just helping out as a resident singer for the time-being, he told us he can sing about 50 Chinese songs… and he sounded pretty good indeed.  We had a hearty celebration dinner with close-to-home-hawker-fare indeed.  On the way out, we met Keetha at another table, with her husband Brett and 3 other Singaporean friends and another friend.  It was my first time meeting her.  Garren was introduced to Keetha by Linda and George, the Singaporean couple I had met 3 weekends ago at the Hawker Fare organised by Malaysian Singapore Association.  In fact, we found out that Linda and George were supposed to be at Nonya Grill last night if George had not fallen ill.  Keetha pointed to another table, a big group of all ladies – she said they were a Singaporean party too.  There is a sizable community of Malaysians and Singaporeans in Houston, most are energy industry related, I believe.

We dropped by Hong Kong Market along Bellaire, my first time there.  I do not miss any Asian food or ingredients as I could get the basic stuff easily at H.E.B., Kroger, or Central Market, and I don’t really need to visit an Asian supermarket in particular, so I seldom visit Bellaire.  But I was zooming in on a bunch of leaves, and I read that these can only be found at Hong Kong Market.  Mission accomplished.

Next we let David choose the next destination since it was his birthday.  I suggested a place to drink, David was quick to direct us to The British Pub for a beer … I really meant a cafe to drink coffee, hee.  It was a cool evening to sit outside, not chilly.  There was a live band.  We were entertained by a post-wedding party, the group has a couple of pretty strong vocals.  The groom offered us 4 large pieces of his wedding cake … much appreciated but we were too full to eat, I tasted – the cake was soaked with syrup which made the cake moist.

What was interesting ~ for the first time, I knew non-alcoholic beer exists.  I had asked for something non-alcoholic, and the server went “which non-alcoholic beer …?” … Huh?  Non-alcoholic beer!!??  It is okay, just choose one for me.  It wouldn’t have made any difference to my taste bud.  I was served O’Doul’s, the label read “Now richer and smoother”, manufactured in Missouri, St Louis … contains 0.5% alcohol.  Anyway, the beer tasted like water with some gas in it, the verdict of a non-alcohol drinker.

As we sat chatting, we decided to meet a year from now, 25 October 2009, and most likely we would all be back in Singapore … to review our dreams we spoke about and to celebrate a friendship we forged in Houston … and of course to celebrate David’s next birthday.  Shortly after me, Garren will be returning to Singapore by end of Dec and David by January next year when his visa expires.

As we made our way back, David was happy and was singing his lung out.  I am happy he is so happy … that we made it a point to celebrate his birthday away from home.  I was reviewing a video clip I took of his singing, it was hilarious and cheerful. 

Last evening I found out – David is 24, a cycle younger than me.  Many happy returns.

Rat ~ Air Flown From Australia

No rat?

Shu has just skyped me last week, asking if I have received the rat she sent from Australia.  No.  … Then I realized I did not check my mail box often, if I received any mail, they were usually parcels delivered to my apartment or the leasing office or left outside my apartment if I am not around.

Shu and I were ex-colleague till last August.  We call her miss-shu for fun, and when it is said faster, it becomes “miss-U“.  When I left the company, she was in Vietnam then, and now she is based in Sydney office.  She had gone to Hunter Valley a couple of weeks back and she came back … with a little mouse for me.  Nice.

~We both love the old fashion bread with bean paste in it. She loves it to a higher degree, I guess.

Thursday ~ I remembered to opened the mailbox, as usual there was a pile of junk mails, my electrical and internet bills, and there it is – an envelop airmailed from Sydney, Australia.  I opened it first thing when I got back to my apartment … just realised the pile of letters and junk mails was still left untouched on my desk.

As I opened the envelop, there were a paper bag and another layer of paper before I saw the Little Mouse.  かわいい! (pronounced ka-wa-ii) … The Japanese would say cuto, and we say cute!…  On the backside of the mouse was printed “Red Gum”, indicating the type of wood it was carved from.  When Shu first skyped me, she hoped I didn’t have the same wooden mouse … What type of wood is it?  She actually emailed the gallery she bought from to check, without looking at the backside where the name of the wood would be printed.  Each addition to my rattie collection comes made with a unique material not already in my collection – I have 6 wooden rats and now another, Yeah!  And they are made from different types of wood.

In her note, she wrote “My dearest Joys, the Australian mouse as promised *smiley*, I have emailed the shop to ask what wood the mouse is made of so I hope they will reply!  I am sure life is fruitful and exciting over there in Houston and I am happy for you.  Things are starting to look rosier for me too … *smiley* … says the mouse looks like a “Marcus” … but up to you to name him.  Hee.  (heart heart, sign) miss shu“.  Oh I have never mentioned to Shu that I don’t name any of my rats … I just love to look and fuss over them.    

I recalled about 10 years back I was in a little wood specialist shop in Hahndorf, Adelaide, South Australia, I gave up a painted wooden boomerang to bring home as a souvenir for 3 wooden rats, believed one rattie was made from aromatic sandalwood and one was a cedar?.  I figured I can always find a boomerang of a design I like in future, but I may not see the same rattie again.  Each new addition never fails to make feel joyful and blessed.

[8:41:53 PM] Joy Joy says: BTW SO かわいい

[8:41:55 PM] Joy Joy says: cuto

[8:42:03 PM] shu says: eh? the mouse?

[8:42:12 PM] Joy Joy says: of course lah

[8:42:15 PM] shu says: haha

[8:42:18 PM] shu says: how i know?

[8:42:24 PM] shu says: happy u like it!

[8:42:28 PM] shu says: i love the ears

[8:42:34 PM] Joy Joy says: cheerful too. thank you :*

[8:42:38 PM] shu says: 😉

[8:42:58 PM] Joy Joy says: i love the expectant look

[8:43:30 PM] shu says: har har!

[8:43:36 PM] shu says: u are so specific

Indeed, I love to look into the eyes of each rattie, it seems to talk to me, and each time I feel so blessed.  Each reminds me of the special person I share a friendship with … or when I found them myself, it reminds me how blessed I am to travel the places over the world to find them.  Among the different animal figurines I have seen, rattie is the most uncomplicated animal – just simple lines, a tail and a pair of ears.

Suddenly I wonder Why Rat is the first of the 12 Chinese Zodiac?  I have never thought much about zodiac, I do not believe a zodiac sign is predictive of who I am and what I can be.  Anyway, I googled, and …

There is a folk story that describes how the animals were assigned to the cycle of years. A long long time ago, the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals together to assign each of them a year. When the cat heard the news, he let his friend the rat know about it and the two animals decided to go together the next day. However, the next day the rat did not wake the cat who, being a cat and loving to nap, slept through the morning. Therefore, the cat did not make it to the assembly on time and did not get a year. This is why there is no year of the cat and this is why cats hate rats.          

The rat, on the other hand, made it first there and received the first year. He did not achieve this without trickery either. He knew that a small animal like him would not be able to compete with the others, so he begged the ox to let him ride on its head. The ox consented and they went together. Just when they were about to arrive, the rat jumped off the ox’s head and got through the finish line first. This is why the year of the rat is the first year in the cycle and the year of the ox is the second.  (http://www.logoi.com/notes/chinese_zodiac.html         

Ha.  I read further on the characteristic of persons born in the year of the Rat, according to mythology. … “The Rat is charming, imaginative, very clever and opportunistic in money. His best role is as a confidential agent to you. He loves things off the beaten track…”  As a Go-Getter, “The Rat is a go-getter. He’s active and highly strung and hard mental effort attracts him and also relieves him… The Rat respects laws but usually only his own laws, and can be the type that breaks taboos and defies the establishment. … He is also very detached, purposeful and adapts to all the changing circumstances around him. He is full of courage, industrious and hardworking and his brain is keen and alert. Rat people see the goal they want and go for it. He is unafraid of the unforeseen, so can move with whatever changes happen to him in a project or a profession.” … Who love, “Rats are anxious and sometimes aggressive; they would never win a prize for being the easiest to get on with. On the other hand, they are romantic creatures and never boring … The happy Rat is faithful and committed and will always appear to be the great advocate of sincerity. ”   (http://www.astrologycom.com/earthrat1.html)

Sounds good huhGosh, enough about Rats.  Time to live my weekend.

On A Sweet Note

Tuesday, 21 October 2008 

The pastry buffet was served during lunch today.  Within minutes that lunch was served following the presentation of the cuisine and pastries, the dessert table was almost empty.  A total of 180 dessert petit fours were prepared for the dessert buffet.  Woh ~ 

The dessert buffet was part of resource project for Pastry Arts Level 2.  I still remembered I was amazed at the Pastry Buffet which was prepared by the previous class of Jennie, Rafa, Nicole and Abigail about 10 weeks ago …  I can still vividly picture the desserts which were served – velvet spray on Jennie’s, a chocolate cup in Rafa’s, a layered cake by Abigail, and macaroon & choc mousse in a cup from Nicole.  I was in level 1 then, and with full admiration, I wondered then what would mine be, and I was defnitely cluelesscould I achieve that within weeks?  I wondered indeed.  It is sort of an incredible feeling looking at all the creations we had today … it is a definite beginning for all of us.

We started researching the project about 3 weeks back.  It all started with a visit to the resource centre, explored the links on the ciaml pastry blogspot as well as the pastry magazines Chef Philippe recommended.  The first objective was to find an idea we fancied and discussed with Chef on feasibility … and developed the ideas based on the season, the design, the temperature, texture and taste.  Chef advised that since these are petit fours which should be eaten in a few quick bites, we were to create volume to the pastries.  I enjoyed coming up with ideas within the boundaries of briefing provided by Chef.

Back then, my first thought was to experiment with Matcha (green tea), a popular Japanese flavour, and the green pastries will add a dash of colour to the pastry showcase.  I had seen a picture of a matcha opera cake from a Japanese bakery in Paris on the website.  Matcha is an acquired taste, and not many bakeries in Singapore do good matcha cakes, I have had one which I thought to have a balanced taste and it was from Sun Moulin Bakery.  My first impression of the design I fancied was approved by Chef.  I ditched the matcha idea for a safer taste – mango mousse with dark chocolate.  Last week when we submitted the plan to chef, I couldn’t decide if I should go ahead with mango or bananas with dark chocolate.  Chef’s recommendation was that bananas were more suited for plated desserts – bananas tend to become mushy when cooked, discoloured easily, and the taste on its own may not be distinct when coupled with chocolate.

I comtemplated for half a week before my final submission.  I decided to go ahead with bananas.  Chef let me make my choice.  I heard, understood and respect Chef’s advice, no doubt about it.  I decided to give bananas a go for 2 reasons – back home, bananas are in abundance and are commonly used in local nonya pastries, I like it but I don’t know how to do it … if I were to try anything, I try it now with guided help and under watchful eyes of Chef.   

What I learnt while experimenting the recipe: 

Rum.  Rum is relatively inexpensive, and can only be found in liquor store and not supermarkets which only carry beer and wine.  Liquor stores closed on Sunday, not sure if all of them do, but the 2 I visited were.  I may still need to show an ID even if I look obviously overage(?).  Jennie offered to let me try the 2 bottles she got at home – a Myer’s dark rum and a Puerto Rican Bicardi rum.

Deglazed Bananas.  The recipe book recommended deglaze caramelised bananas with rum.  I have never done it before, I only knew I need to heat up the rum.  I poured a cupful of rum into the pan, and I flambed the banana … but I also set off my apartment fire alarm at 11pm.  Oops

Rum with Tea-infused Syrup.  I like the tea infused syrup which was used in class earlier.  I wanted to find out if rum goes with the tea, and which rum would taste better with the tea.  I made a small quantity of sweet masala tea, I didn’t make a syrup, added too much rum to it, and knocked out almost immediately after I drank both.  I forgot I was supposed to taste only.

Fast forward …  Last 2 days were enjoyable.  I guess it is the only time in our life we get 2 days to fuss over 20 petit fours.  Chef let us organise and manage our own mis en place.  My conclusion is that Chef’s vision and observation power is super – we have 9 students in the class, but he managed to dish out advice or appear at our side at the right moment.  On day 1, I prepped the chocolate biscuit, on my notes taken during class, I wrote it will make me 4-5 6″ biscuit disc, alas it made me 2?  Oops I must have missed out my handwritten notes that Chef had asked for 2 recipes per team then.  I prepped a second recipe and popped into the oven.  Just then, I heard Chef said, “Joy, why are you making 6″ biscuits when you need small ones?”  He pointed me to the silpat molds which I could have used and saved me time cookie-cutting it later.  Too late, he said.  I guess he only told me after I popped my tray into oven as the result still will not mess me up big time, and to make sure I got the point.  I never thought of using silpat mold then, I was sticking to my comfort zone of following the method of instruction.  Hmm.  Day 1, everything went smoothly … prep short dough mix for next day use, chocolate biscuit, and the macaroons baked with no crack despite my initial concern (though the shape and size should be more uniform) and I left chocolate tempering to the last, was I glad I did.  Somehow the time went by me, and I was still fiddling with chocolate at noon.  Conclusion … seeding method got me to where I needed with the chocolate disc and the 2 coloured cigarette.

Today I only had to bake the short dough, soak biscuit disk with syrup, do the mousse and glazed the bananas.  What is this?  Dark chocolate mousse.  Again Chef appeared at my side at the right time, just before I piped onto my short dough.  Actually I doubted my own answer too, it looked like thick chocolate icing to me.  I had earlier asked at my table why this recipe had only 40g whipped cream which I could hardly whisk, everyone advised just follow the recipe … I guess if I follow Chef’s recipe I would not go wrong.  The recipe was done in class last week, by a different team.  Alas.  While taking down the recipes from the white board, I must have mistaken “400” that Chef wrote as “40g”.  Ha.  Next, got some help again from Chef glazing the bananas – I don’t cook with butter except in school and usually the olive oil I used barely coated the pan… after his demo I managed to deglazed a 2nd batch of bananas successfully.  Finally, I sliced the bananas and made some glazed bananas macaroon sandwich… yum

Time to plate.  I liked the final colour combination.  Topped it with the 2-choc cigarettes that Chef had done in his demo, mine was too thick to curl into a fine cigarette, but I got the point – my combing angle should be closer to the marble to achieve a thin layer of white choc.

At the end of class,  Chef’s key observations to the class – wastage – something we need to be mindful, – sanitation – clean up before prepping next recipe.  I appreciate Chef’s 1-1 feedback session with each of us after class.  His comments for me ~ good prep, end result looked good, prep order as advised – eg prep short dough day earlier and baked fresh on the day.  Areas I should improve and I will ~ Chocolate tempering to get the right temperature for chocolate to set;  Think about what size of biscuit I needed and prep accordingly;  Need to pause and clear up when I am overwhelmed;  Even if I got the wrong choc mousse recipe, I should recognize how the mousse should look;  Bananas are more suited for plated desserts.  I appreciate the specific comments from Chef so I can on the specific areas particularly.  Thank you, Chef!

My own verdict of my creation ~ I liked my colour combination, it was pretty close to what I had drawn with some modifications.  I loved the chilled banana macaroon sandwich, the taste was just enough in the mini macaroons.  Banana flavour-wise, that was about it.  For the total flavour of the base product, it tasted like dark rum flavoured dark choc mousse, the banana taste was not distinct to complement the dark choc mousse, as advised.  Mouthfeel?  I think the texture is ok, should taste better when served chilled.  

I am happy things fell in place on a sweet note.   

Ideation ~ My Level 3 Finals

I had a close to 12 hour sleep, interrupted by a call from my Dad around 1.30am.  For a moment, I thought it was a wake up call on a weekday I stared at the time hard and decided I could continue sleeping.  “Call me on the fixed line”  But I am sleeping??  I had messaged my dad earlier before I slept at about 9pm that if I wake up then I would call him, for our usual chat on a Friday night.  He was wondering why I didn’t call him so he woke me to hear a sleepy and grumpy voice.  This morning I woke up well rested, I had decided  the evening earlier, I am not going out today.  I need time for nothing-ness and inspiration.  I called Dad and Mum on skypeout for a chat.  BK called me last night, field exercise started so he should not be calling me anytime soon.  

Nothing-ness to me means uncluttered mental space.  Time for nothing-ness is a luxury.  I need time-out on my own – to dream, sometimes to read & inspire ideas, sometimes to read and understand technicalities, to do nothing till I feel like doing something, … to walk about in supermart, to read in a cafe, to write an entry in my journal.

~  On Level 3 Finals

Yesterday, before the end of class, Chef Philippe spoke with us about our level 3 finals.  I was reminded indirectly again of the week countdown before I leave Houston – when we move to level 3, that will be 4 weeks left.  He suggested we start thinking, do some research, and discuss with him if the ideas work.  I always enjoy this bit of doing research for ideas and feasibility check ~ I enjoy product development and creation… maybe I also enjoy dreaming, and searching through books or e-resources for ideas, or rather it is a fact.  My Korean ex-GM would call it Ideation… and we always joked that it was Kor-glish but I realised there is indeed such a word Ideation ~ The process of forming or conceptualising ideas.   Say I enjoy dreaming makes me too much of “building castles in the air” or idealistic, maybe say I enjoy ideation should describe me to a T.

There are 4 projects to complete for Level 3 finals. 

Pastillage.  Chef started with Pastillage and he said we can research our ideas to fit the theme.  The theme for the final is Christmas.  Then I heard “white” … Did I hear White?  My eyes brightened up.  Chef confirmed it is a White Christmas theme, and if we were to add colours, it will be light pastel.  Wow!  I was so excited.  I had earlier struggled with air-brush.  Guess this time I have no more excuse … to ideate, shape and glue the pieces together into a show piece.  We can even mold the pieces at home.  That is nice!  Krystine joked that I have no white Christmas in Singapore so we should change the theme … ha…  Indeed, always summer-ly Christmas in Singapore!  But sometimes we have white Christmas too, when Tanglin Mall, located at the beginning of Orchard Road during Christmas light-up, pumped artificial snow and transformed the place into a winter land.  The Pastillage show piece will hold 10 chocolate pieces, of defined height and base and should be transported easily.  It should not be a religious theme, but a white Christmas from a child’s eyes.  Wow wow!

In the last 10 years, most of my Christmas were spent in various parts of Japan, yes! … white, snowy Christmas at times, or just chilly Christmas.  In corporate life, most of my holidays were taken only during Christmas and New Year hols at a stretch.  I love the small towns away from the city in Japan.  My fav – white winter in Otaru, Hokkaido.

Wedding Cake.  Chef indicated that the base fondant for the cake is white.  The pre-requisites are some piping, and flowers from gum paste or sugar.  These can be in any colours.  He cautioned that a white-on-white theme usually requires a lot of details in flowers and pipings, for white to cast shadows on white…   also not to make it too complicated as long as end result is nice…  extension works can be added on.  I have been dreaming of this cake for some time, it is time to really know what I like and what I can do.  I have promised 3 friends their wedding cake while I am in Houston, but I have time to practise, the earliest commitment was for Dec 2009, while the other 2 have indefinite dates.

Sugar Art.  The theme remains underwater theme as that should allow us to explore various forms of sugar art.  I like the little lobster Chef made but don’t think that will be in our final.  The little blow fish Jennie gave me during her level 3 practice is still sitting on my table display, minus a few spikes. 

Chocolate Box.  Chef advised that the idea for chocolate piping is to stop minimum number of times to reduce the number of dots on the design.  I like oriental lattice designs, characters and knots – Chef advised against blockish designs which may make the specific piece heavy and piping should be fine – will have to find a way to weave and adapt the designs I decide on for chocolate piping.

~

Enough to dream and be excited about for some time.  Hopefully the end result will keep me as excited as the idea itself.  Believe.

To The Chefs’ Office

Thursday, 16 Oct 2008

I just burst a plastic full of air right behind Chef Philippe’s back.  Didn’t manage to scare him, but Rafaella who was talking to Chef got scared instead :~?  Jennie went with me to the break room as Chef’s work station is right next to it – she was my “accompanying person“.  Usually Rafa would be with us, but she was already in the break room and didn’t know what I was up to.  Earlier, Jill had helped me blown a plastic-full of air for my mission.  The plastic was already punctured from a previous burst??!!  Nobody agreed to be my accomplice though whoever present (names left out) readily chipped in ideas for me to execute – that was so kind?  But I was scared I scared myself instead … err … ha.  Chef Pierre walked into the lab just then, and wondered why he was involved.  Let’s just say without provocation, I would usually not initiate such plot.  But I really felt playful today.

At the end of class, I told Chef Philippe we enjoyed his class that day … “… this the first time you enjoyed my class?”  Oops … no!  Always do ~ disclaimer.  Really enjoyed the class, and I guessed I expressed it also because I was feeling light – likely the class size and what we got to do that day really made me felt so therapeutic.  For once there were only 5 of us – Sarah, Jill, Elizabeth, Quin and me – in class instead of 9 … each of us got to prep a double recipe of different kinds of bread from ingredients to kneading to first proof.   In between we prep Grand Mere Tarts, I had prep 2 recipes of apples and pears to sautee thinking April would come but she did not come to class that day.  Then croissants with bechemel sauce.  Later that morning, we had to shape the bread – flatten, weigh, rest, slap to flatten, shape.  I loved to slap down the dough ~ I guessed it was the only time in lab I can legitimately bang on the work table, and I slapped it hard indeed.  My classmates joked that I displayed signs of internal rage.  The more and the harder I slapped, the more therapeutic I felt.  It was a great way to release bottled stale energy, maybeHa!  I joked “I am feeling bitchy today“, they laughed even harder.  Apparently, my tone got too high and my pronounciation was off and sounded like “beachy”.  I loved the aroma and taste of freshly baked bread, but I haven’t thought of baking bread … maybe I should …. once a while.  And we really felt good at the end of the class.  Even though we were quiet most of the time, there was a lot of smiles, laughters and light chatters that day.  I highly recommend Dough Slapping for therapeutic purpose … and freshly baked breads come as a bonus!    

Chef Kris wants to see you in Chefs’ Office …”  For a moment, I didn’t think Chef Philippe was serious.  I had just exploded the bag and was feeling too playful to be serious.  Oh it was for real.  Chef Kris asked me to take a seat and pulled a chair next to him.  I felt like a student who was called into the Principal’s office for playing a prank on a teacher??   In fact, the scenario fitted what I just did.

Chef Kris had read my blog – about what Chef Philippe spoke with us regarding our future.  I had expressed that it was scary even though I have to confront it.  He shared with me the 10-year plan he usually got his Associate Degree students to complete, and he believed I would complete mine.  Know what I want at the end point, and the path I need to take to make it happen… research, put it down and make it happen.  If I really believe a particular place is where I believe will take me to where I want to be, I just have to make it happen – email, call, send by snail mail, fax, pack and appear in front of the door(?).  He emphasized the 10 year plan doesn’t mean it is fixed, as I progress I would make revision to chart my path.  His advice was “don’t take up any job that come along, and realise you are wasting your time“.   

It was a thoughtful 40 min consultation.  And I really appreciate that he bothered to.  I just have to do my part.

I shared with Chef Kris that the 10 year plan reminded me of the 10 year product plans I did in the past.  Due to the variables along the way, the 10 year end result usually looked totally different from the plan.  As the years went, the 10 year plan in corporate was shortened to 5 years, then to 3 and in some companies to 2. 

I understand his point though – Set A Vision and Purposefully Work Towards It!

When I was writing this entry, I took out My Mission and Vision folder from my box for the first time in Houston.  Now I am amazed with myself – other than a few pieces of clothing and some miscellaneous, I had really brought in my 2 luggages my books, my stationery and my folder containing My Life Direction notes and my laptop – I need so little to live comfortably. I completed My Mission and Vision during a Life Direction Intensive session with T. Harv Eker in Singapore back in 31 January – 2 February 2008.  My Mission and Vision were completed on the spot then and I had never given prior thought to it.  Harv had advised feeling it in us and to identify words that inspired the energy in us to spell out My Mission.  Instead of spelling out our Vision, we drew our vision then – about My Life – as words may not accurately expressed the images in our mind.  I just re-read My Mission and it continues to hold true in my heart.  We were then supposed to work out a year, month then week calendar to purposefully live toward our Vision.  I am still procrastinating on this calendar. 

My Vision back in January 2008: (Shan’t attach my drawing here ;p)

1.  My Family Life.  Quality, Leisure Time with Financial Freedom.  My family has always been my priority.  If God is willing, we would love to have 2 beautiful children.  As a family, we have quality time together to explore continuous learning and growth as individuals, and as a family.  

2.  My Other Life.  Truth be told, I have always wanted to be an Educational Psychologist and there was a lingering regret till I came to the Culinary Institute.  I don’t think there is any connection, but that feeling had become a past for me, for now.  I went into marketing and I believe my skill is transferable.  Back in Jan 2008, I had no idea I will be attending a Baking & Pastry Arts program with the Culinary Institute, I had not planned to be in Houston – one day it just became possible, I arrived and started living life here, then at times started to find out what’s happening.  My vision then:

~~~  Worked with *Happy and Highly Motivated Associates.  Be it for my employment or my business.

~~~  Have a *High Traffic Blog to share Motivational and Inspirational stories with the World.  I imagined but was never motivated to start a blog.  I didn’t know where to start, what to write.  The only time it became a reality was when I came to Houston and I needed a place to jot down my notes of my journey, and I started writing for myself, from my heart … and it was still a procrastinating 3 weeks after I set up my blog page address before I wrote something for myself.

~~~  I will have something *Published by a Well-known Publisher to inspire Life Greatness in People … the funny thing is I never write much to others except emails and messages, … technical writing bores me.  I wrote often to myself to set aside my thoughts, my fears, my dreams, my ideas, my research … but they are often in my scribbles.  I wasn’t sure why I wrote in My Vision then I would have something published.  … During our conversation, Chef Kris suggested “food writer“.  I told him I couldn’t write well and I was so so in vocabulary, taste description etc, he said “not food critic” … he said it is the same form of writing, from my experience … from my heart.  I am not sure if I want to write with a deadline, after I read Julia Child’s journal about the years she spent on her first book Mastering the Art of French Cooking I.  Chef Kris suggested 3 titles for me to get inspiration.  I love finding inspiration from reading, research, flipping pages of books.

~~~  *Creative Development for Children – Inspire, nurture, encourage motor skill development, laughter & fun in learning & development. … I believe this will still be a reality one day, as I love training and teaching, and I can incorporate this in Baking & Pastry Arts.  

~~~  *Provide Employment to the Deserved but Disadvantaged.  This can be a reality too.  I believe in giving back to where I take from.

~~~  *Passive Income.

On my wall in my apartment, I have a Vision Board I scribbled couple of weeks ago, it was not dated.  On it includes “… aPastry & Baking Lab to accomodate 20 students (describing space more than the absolute number of people) at any one time …” … ” I start my own Pastry & Baking coaching class in my own lab!”.   

The time out to the Chefs’ Office … was a gentle reminder I have not completed my plan weeks ago to revise My Vision.  I do not have many weeks left at the Culinary Institute – 5 weeks? … it appears that each time I put up an entry it is another week gone … Chef Kris said some of his students worked on their 10 year plan over 6 months, I jokingly reminded him he was not thinking of giving me 6 months as well?   This will be sorted before I complete my program, after that there will be no one to remind me, or I can’t just step into the Chefs’ Office as I wish when I am back in Singapore.

Before I left the office, he gave me 2 examples of 10 year plan for reference.  Thank you, Chef!