Category Archives: Day to Day

A Blessed 2009 to Everyone …

Yes, my wish for the New Year  is that everyone will live a blessed and fulfilling life!

As always, things happen for great reasons … so a blessed life to me does not mean that only good things happen and everything goes smoothly – it means to me that we learn and grow from small hiccups and face greater tasks with confidence & gusto and lead a progressive life mentally & emotionally … spiritually, I have to work at  it (I will give “physically” a definite miss).

I did not and will not make any new year resolution.  Since beginning of 2008, I have set my mission and vision in my life.  Every steps along the way, I remind mindful that my actions contributed to my life vision.  I became happier … that said, I have always been easy go lucky, I have always been pretty happy.  Think my name helps, my Dad gave me the name and he forgot about my Chinese name.

In 2008, a major breakthrough was that I learnt to let go of negative energies – things and persons that bogged me down, however infrequent.  Some things really bothered me but I didn’t know then how to release, they just popped up along the way in my lives.  I still remembered it just happened when I was in the bus on the way to the culinary institute in August, … as usual I was day dreaming, and I just felt ready to move on and live my life.  That was when I shared my journal entries and my life moves on.  When things happen and bothered me, I learnt to “whoosh” it off – somehow it helped and it worked.  Simply that.

For the new year, I am just going to live life … continuously learn and grow as an individual, as a partner in my blessed marriage, as a family with my loving parents, sis & David, bro & Pei San and the 6 beautiful children … as a worthy friend to worthy friends.

Laugh, Love & Live Life.


“I am coming home, aren’t you happy? … hmm” – Pix added

I thought the following email to my family in the wee hours of 1 Dec 2008 should be a worthy entry documenting my days post graduation …  Gosh, now everything I wrote looked like a blog entry, might as well.

Warning:  This entry documents 22 days of my life, it may take you forever to read, live and  understand how things work, don’t bother and don’t question, it is just about … My Life.

Remark:  Some information were altered or modified for clarity since I last wrote to my family, some information (in fact, a lot) were updated, some information which was shared with my family I prefer to keep Privy & Confy on this journal entry , some information were elaborated for my memories. 

Pix will be added coz it tells a story of my journey… (will be uploaded post Orlando trip).


From: Joys <>
Date: Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 2:28 AM
Subject: I am coming home, aren’t you happy? … hmm
To: “Choo, Beng Kuan” <…>, “Lawrence. Sim” <…>, Pei San Lim <…>, “owd…” <…>, Eileen gmail <…>


My dear husband

My dear sis and bro-in-law

My dear bro and sis-in-law



I am coming home 😉  Please let Dad and Mum know my flight details, it just got confirmed.


I graduated on 21 Nov …  but I wasn’t bumming around … my detailed itinerary is as follows: (gosh I wrote like I was updating my blog entry, later I will just cut and paste into my blog ;p)



22-23 Nov, Sat/Sun.  Spent most of 22 & 23 sleeping (a little end-of-school-term feel, a little jet-lag feel). BK and I were at a neighbour‘s home for chat and wine till 1.30am after we had a Malaysian/Singaporean dinner at Nonya Grill in Missouri City, about 45 min outside Houston.  A celebration of friendship … and my graduation!  


~ French Bread with 2 Sunny-side Up ~

~ French Bread with 2 Sunny-side Up ~

We woke up early for breakfast at our fav French Riviera Bakery Cafe – French baguette with 2 sunny sides up and a cup of coffee.  Then I napped through most of Sat and Sun morn, missing BK’s call before he boarded the flight to Singapore.  By the time I was alert on Sun, BK was close to reaching Singapore.  



Joined my last Houston Dessert Meetup session at Le Petit Paris Bakery in Spring, arranged to meet my secondary classmate Vivian there after 20 long years since we were 16.  Nice!


24-26 Nov, Mon-Wed.  Back at the culinary institute for extra sessions, since the Chefs had to forego their 1 week hols.  The sessions were meant to make up lost hours due to hurricane, my class already completed the required hours as Chef Philippe arranged for class to start 45min earlier than normal everyday for a couple of wks. 


~ 24 Nov ~ Farewell lunch with Jennie and Rafaella before Rafa left for Brazil.


~ With Jennie & Rafaella ~

~ With Jennie & Rafaella ~

~ 25 Nov ~ Farewell lunch with my classmates – 6 of us showed up.  Beers and margaritas for all, except for Elizabeth who is underage at 18. 

~ 6 of us kept to the appointment ~

~ 6 of us kept to the appointment ~




~ 26 Nov ~ A special lunch for the students cooked by the Chefs … Serviced style.  Really nice, but I preferred to have them lunch with us. 


Dinner with some Singaporean/Malaysian friends I got to know in Houston at Guoming’s apartment, the guys bought the ingredients and Guoming prep steamboat for us, they bought durians for desserts [not too late for them to find out then I do not eat durian], I made assorted cookies.

~ Having Fun at Our Thanksgiving Eve Gathering, Our Way ~

~ Having Fun at Our Thanksgiving Eve Gathering, Our Way ~



27 Nov, Thur (Thanksgiving).  Returned to my apt about 4am after playing a fun card game Bonanza – all about beans.  I found out for the past 3 nights I drove without turning on the head lamp fully unknowingly (so much for an experienced driver, ha)?? 


Woke up about 11, Bella had invited me to her home for Thanksgiving.  I was served Puerto Rican food ~ Turkey with tomato rice, mashed potatoes with corn and berry sauce cooked by her mum Sally, with pumpkin pie and pecan pie from Flyer Saucer.


~ With Alexandra and Her Mom Sally ~

~ With Alexandra and Her Mom Sally ~



Planned to meet David and Garren for dinner but knocked out before 6.  Woke up at 10pm, shortly Sarah called, she was in the Heights vicinity with her boyfriend Charles and invited me to join them for a drink.  We would not have many other opportunities to meet after.  I was introduced to Oatmeal Cookie cocktail … nice, and had a few sips of Bud Light.  Charles helped me with the rest.  He showed me some bar tricks so I won’t be fooled.  We chatted till past 3.  Told Sarah, I am lucky I knew her late in my mid-life or I will be drinking my nights away …  Slept at 5+am.


~ An "Oatmeal Cookie" and A Beer Later ~

~ An "Oatmeal Cookie" and A Beer Later ~



28 Nov (Black Friday).  Received sms from Garren at 5.50am asking if I was joining them for shopping.  Nope, I wasn’t ready to forgo sleep for cheaper deals.  I found out later in the day they had not slept that night.  About noon, I drove to Katy Mills… more coz I haven’t been there.  Wasn’t in the mood to shop, spent some time reading in Book-A-Million, bought a few books even with no deals… bought some bake wares … Better at supermarket shopping, was at HEB megastore at Gessner till 10 … I spent quite a bit [and happy] ;p


29 Nov, Sat.  Updated blog on Graduation, a week overdue.  I found it difficult to catch up with past entries.  So said, be present.  I had planned to drive to San Antonio, but I didn’t feel like it then. 


Drove to RAO’s Bakery in Spring, it was part of Houston Dessert Meetup agenda in Jan09, but I will not be here so I checked it out first.  Spent afternoon reading till about 3.  Arranged with Jennifer to visit Phoenicia for the first time ~ she was funny, like a tourist at home.  We had dinner at House of Bowls, spent half hour lost in BW 8/1-10 connection, turned back to Westheimer and took 610N/E instead.


30 Nov, Sun.  Woke up at 2+am, guessed it was too cold.  Couldn’t sleep, again surfed online resources, also listed international shipping contact details as my international shipping was not arranged yet, put up To-Do list.  10am, I was exhausted.  Slept till 1pm.


SQ flight back to Singapore was confirmed.  Confirmed with Chef in Singapore about our appointment on 13 Dec.  Printed some pix, wrote some cards … sad, distracted.  Procrastinated to study Servsafe.  Couldn’t sleep, again slept at 4.


1 Dec, Mon.  Met Chef Kris at about 11am for career plan discussion, … one fine lesson learnt from him ~ plan and be objective-driven.  My vision and objectives remained unchanged, though I need to understand the Singapore market better.  I am clear that family holds an important place in the plan.  We chatted.  Side track – I believe he can be an authority in sous vide if he wants to, I researched the topic a while back coz he spoke about it passionately a couple of times.  Chef Kris set up Servsafe for me to complete at home the next day, free & easy


Chef Philippe handed me the Letter and copies he had prepared for me.  I am thankful for every word he put on my letter, the rest is up to me to live up to and exceed expectations.  Again, never to disappoint or I never did  Forwarded my career plan to Chef, he returned with a list of places I can consider in future for extra lessons to upgrade my skills, which was listed as one of the key objectives in my career plan.  Thank you, Chef!


I completed writing my cards to the individuals ~ each with a personal note.  Each card was specially chosen for the individual, I got a card for CIAML too – a card printed with a message I want to convey to everyone.  Communicated my final thank and hugs for the individuals at the institute.  I decided that it is going to be the last time … The last time.


~ With Sandra @ House of Bowl ~

~ With Sandra @ House of Bowl ~

Had dinner with Sandra at House of Bowls – she preferred to have noodles and we had beef hor fun (rice noodles), egg plants which we both liked, and I must introduce her to the pepper scallion chicken wings which I always enjoyed.  Had Hong Kong milk tea too.




Back in the apartment, received confirmation email from Chef in Orlando that I can drop by the school for a visit and a chat on 3 Dec.  I decided to make a day trip on Southwest Airline, had to pay more for the last minute change for return leg so that I can have a free day on Thursday to do some packing for shipping.  Confirmed flight to Chicago for Sun too, had to pay double for the flight.  Just 2 days early, I would only have to pay $240, couldn’t do so earlier as I was waiting for the Orlando trip to be confirmed, as unused Southwest Airline tickets can be used for future purchase but not cancelled.  Whoosh it, decided not to let it bother me.  


2 Dec, Tues.  Met Jennie for breakfast at French Riviera Bakery.  We had a good chat, decided to meet up again during the week when we have the chance to.  Will miss her.  She is the big sister that constantly watched over me and made sure things worked for me in Houston.  She told me, I will see you next year … I went, oh you are visiting Indonesia soon?  She said No, I have no passport.  We will meet in the US ;~  Was that a request or was that a prophecy … ha.  Love the 3 mice, hopefully not 3 blind mice 😉  She told me it signified the friendship between her, Rafa and me, sweet.


My Last Lesson … I knew she did a lot of homework, lots.  I am definitely going to miss my first French teacher lots.  With her as a baseline ~ Who can I find in Singapore who will conscientiously pour over recipe book to help me understand words … Who will positively reinforce my learning with Tres bien when I pronounced a word rightly or constructed a sentence correctly … Who will watch and listen to how I pronounced words and encouragingly said I can hear it, when I wasn’t even confident of what I just uttered …  Only Sandra.  The word that got my tongue all twisted: ~ûler .. brû~ … brûler.  Got a vocab and verb book each … it will be fun to recognise and read paragraphs in bits and pieces and get the gist, even if I cannot read the sense out of every word.  Je l’aime!  Soon I am going to roam


Still waiting for inspiration to do servsafe test … ha.  Time: 11.31pm… now 2.32am… 


3 Dec, Wed.  This feels so crazy but I am going to do it. 


On my Facebook, I updated my status last midnight Joycelyn has decided to fly to Orlando, for a couple of hours and back… Yes, all in a day.  A friend commented on my FB:  Disney World?   My response:  I am not so crazy … more purposeful than that ;p  Yes, I am going to visit a shop, meet a person I was told to meet, ask whatever I got ready to ask and watch a sugar class in action.


That is how it is going to work for me to fit it all in a day:  

To & Fro Orlando

Arrive in ORLANDO INTL (MCO) at 1:35 PM, 

Depart ORLANDO INTL (MCO) at 7:30 PM.


Chef Charles Carroll wrote, “…I often hear many things from many students but the difference with you is you’re a “doer”  You do what you say you’re going to do...”.  I just realized it myself, doing what I said I am going to do ~ my commitment.  Or more that it is him – like all individuals I look up to – I trust his recommendation and words, and I have no excuses not to pursue great advice.


4 Dec, Thur.  I have better to start packing and know what goes into shipping, what goes into my luggage, what goes into someone else’s home, what goes into the trash.  Indeed, I have mainly books, bake stuff.  My gosh, my fridge is still loaded.  Possibly have to steal some time to meet Vivian too before I leave.


5 Dec, Fri.  Will be visiting Linda & George and little Aaron at Pearland, and of course passionate Scottie for the last time before I leave.   Amongst the exchange of emails, Linda wrote “… and who wants to come walk Scottie?  …”;  Garren enthusiastically went, “… I volunteer Joys to go walk Scottie, since Scottie likes her. Kekeke”;   Then George added, “And in return for the walk, Scottie will give Joy a Big Wet Slurping Kiss….lol.”  Scottie is a 2 year old? schnauzer – a cutie, a smartie and a real charmer.  I never really like dogs, coz they can get too passionate and overwhelming, but he is a sweet, real sweet.  He actually can read my expression when I pouted my lips and he leaned forward to kiss me?  BK loves dogs, but Scottie only likes ladies, ha.


6 Dec, Sat.  My last weekend in Houston. Going to “chiong” (Chinese dialect, loosely translated as party but doesn’t sound right, so maybe hangout) at my fav bakery cafe and read.  Possibly go Museum District and drive round Texas Medical District.  I don’t know, so far, I have never been to where I plan to go except bakery cafes.


That evening, I will have my last dinner date with a great couple I got to know in Houston.  Looking forward to it.


7 Dec, Sun.  Flight to Chicago.  Was supposed to stop over in Chicago en-route home but couldn’t confirm UA flight Chicago-Narita-Singapore.  Completing a 2 Day Choc-Wine Pairing Workshop on 8-9 Dec. I am flying back to Houston instead to take a direct flight back to Singapore.


To Chicago

Sun/Dec 07   Depart HOUSTON HOBBY (HOU) at 12:15 PM 

8-9 Dec, Mon-Tues.  Choc-Wine Pairing Workshop at Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy.   Chef Kris said to check out Alinea if there is one place I want to go – experience and understand the business philosophy.


10 Dec, Wed. 

Fro Chicago

 Arrive in HOUSTON HOBBY (HOU) at 11:45 AM


If all my stuff are in order, then I can have a relaxing day … err.


11 Dec, Thur.  Goodbye Houston! 


To my dearest friends, I will miss ya all! 

To my loved ones in Singapore, I’ll be home in next 24h. 


To Singapore

SQ Flight at 16:50h. 


13 Dec, Sat.  05:30h arrive in Singapore.  Appointment with Chef later in the morning.  Family hours.


~  Home Sweet Home ~



———- Forwarded message ———-
From: <>
Date: Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 12:26 AM
Subject: Redemption Booking Confirmation
To: xxx

Dear Ms xxx Joysxxx,

You have made a redemption booking with Singapore Airlines for the following trip:
Booking Reference Number: xxx

KrisFlyer Number: xxx

Passenger Name(s): MS JOYS xxx
E-Ticket Number: xxx

You are confirmed on the following flight(s):-
Flight No. : SQ61
Aircraft   : B777-300ER
From       : Houston(IAH – Intercontinental)
To         : Moscow(DME – Domodedovo Intl)
Date       : 11 December 2008
Departure  : 16:50

Flight No. : SQ61
From       : Moscow(DME – Domodedovo Intl)
To         : Singapore(SIN – Changi Intl)
Date       : 12 December 2008
Departure  : 14:25


What Will Happen to My Journal Entries?

Interesting question … I was asked this Q a couple of times today.  By Chef Kris, by Jean-Luc, by Mr LeNotre…  I have never given myself a conclusion.

I gave myself an official last day to be at the Culinary Institute ~ I guess today was the last time I bid farewell to Mr & Mrs LeNotre, my Chefs, most friends and individuals at the culinary institute.  Each time I stepped into the Culinary Institute, my emotion got complex … these are the familiarities I grew so accustomed to for the past 20+ weeks in Houston which gave me a sense of belonging and comfort, these are the friends and individuals I have come to know halfway round the globe and may never see for some years to come.  The emotion itself is not something I want to deal with openly.

When Chef Kris asked me the Q this morning, …

I told him I am unlikely to continue my entries.  I was never a natural writer before Houston, I started this journal as a platform for me to park my thoughts and document my precious moments in Houston, for my family and friends to reach out to my inner space without me repeating myself.  So when I leave for Singapore, is Baking Joys In Houston still relevant?

As I thought more about it now, I start to have conflicting thoughts.  This really happens because my mind is cluttered and unavailable to process clearly.  Relevance?  Yes, because it continues to document my Baking & Pastry Art journey from where I began ~ in Houston  … now the journal entry serves as a platform to update the individuals in Houston who care about me  and my journey in Singapore post Houston – these individuals become my adopted family I am leaving for my family back home in Singapore.  It was exactly why the journal entry started in the first place – to update my family and friends in Singapore when I left for CIAML on 30 June.  Oh, has my thought become clearer?  Seems so … Or should the Baking Joys be uprooted and be planted in Singapore instead?  Goodness, why am I going in circles again.

Chef Kris believed I can write, and I can write simple and strike a connection.  His belief in me is stronger than mine of me – I judged myself to be limited in vocab and thus the use of simple expressions.  He repetitively drumed the belief in me, much better than my year 1 GP (General Paper) tutor ever did for me.

When Jean-Luc asked me the Q this afternoon, …

I told him No, the site is just going to crash without warning … My last message to all on 13 Dec 2008 will be titled Arrived Home Safe, Take Care … and the site will just vanish on Sunday, 14 Dec 2008.  Jean-Luc must have taken me seriously because he told me he needs to save some files before the site disappears, especially the last entry I wrote on My Tributes to the Important Individuals upon My Graduation.  I laughed.

I am not so crazy and irresponsible to just vanish and erase all my memories.  I always believe it is easier for me to pack and go than to stay behind and experience the missing bits and pieces.  My entries were connection to my precious times in Houston and the inspirations I travelled the world over to find and will always remain so. 

When Mr LeNotre asked me the same Q this afternoon, …

In fact, Mr LeNotre did not ask, he assumed so.  He told me to continue to update my progress updates in Singapore on my journal entry and he believed I will be successful.

Many times, I was driven by the expectations and faith important individuals placed on me, rather I was inspired to achieve or even exceed my own limit… I am not sure if it is because I do not want to disappoint or I never did, it is a blur.

The conclusion for now is that it is going to stay, as a channel or a memory bank, I do not know.

My Dear Visited Me in Houston …

(This entry was started on Sunday, 2 November… and never got completed till now … even now seems to be forever…

I wrote the above on Wed, 5 November, and now is already 8th …  This is the longest stretch I have not updated my journal entry, I have 2 other updates but let me finish my wedding cake first – it is due next Tuesday.)


2 November 2008, 10pm

BK called to say he had just arrived into the hotel in Boston, he would be in Boston for the next 2 weeks.  And he would be back for my graduation in 3 weeks time. 


How time flies … We had a chat while he was driving yesterday – even though I miss the familiarity of home and having him around, I already miss the familiar warmth and faces of the many people I met at the culinary institute whenever I thought of leaving Houston in a couple of weeks time.  The strange feeling is that for the many people I got to know in last 17 weeks, we may never meet again.  For a few others, there is always a probability our path will cross again.  I feel sad whenever this thought comes about… 

30 October 2008, 8.30pm, at the Culinary Institute

BK flew into Houston to join me on Thursday 30 October.  When he arrived late afternoon, he spent some time working on an online test which was due by midnight for his product training the following week, he was to score at least 85 points??!!  That evening, he drove me to the culinary institute and I just had to introduce him to my Chefs – both Chef Philippe and Chef Sebastien.  I guess both Chefs have huge influence on me and my work during my learning at the culinary institute.  BK remembered the 2 Chefs by sight from his last visit in July when we first arrived in Houston. 

Earlier in the morning, Chef Philippe asked if I would be attending class the following day.  Yes.  That question never crossed my mind.  That evening, Chef Philippe again told me (us) that if I were to miss class the next day, I could make up the class the following Tuesday with Jill who would miss Friday Chocolate Final with her trip home to Colorado.  I would be in class on Friday, and I was darn sure about it.  BK knew and understood I took my objectives too seriously to miss a single day of learning, and he wasn’t expecting me to take time off either – he had wanted to sleep in at the apartment as it was barely 48 hours after his return from his 2 weeks of reservist training in Australia that he boarded the flight to Houston, with his work objectives to accomplish as well.  That night, I fell asleep while waiting for him to fulfill at least 85 points for his online test by midnight.  He scored 81 and was too tired to try again.

31 October 2008, 2pm, at the Culinary Institute

Sarah asked if BK would be joining for lunch, and if they would get to meet him.  I would like him to meet my classmates too – friends I made and spent the last couple of weeks with at the culinary institute.  Indeed, he came, joined us at the lunch room, they met, we chatted and now he got to put a face to things I shared with him ~ and they were surprised I had only shared good things about each of them … but of course – somehow I view many things positively coz I strongly believe things happened for some good reasons.  BK was wondering who Krystine was – our youngest Bébé in class – and soon she popped into the Pastry Lab with a big smile.

It was BK’s 38th Birthday … and it was Chef Philippe’s 36th Birthday.  They wished each other a Happy Birthday!


~ with the hibiscus bouquet borrowed from Elizabeth ~

~ with the hibiscus bouquet borrowed from Elizabeth ~


31 October 2008, after class

Of course, we have got to go Swirl for yogurt.  Asked Jennie and Rafaella to join, both couldn’t come along – Rafa had pedi-mani appointment, and Jennie said she was too full from lunch??  I don’t like ice cream but I love the taste of the refreshing yogurt (not the tart and fruit range though, except for lemon), topped with a load of palm seed and some pecan nuts … and the relaxing environment…  I just have to bring him there.  Then he went with me to Sur La Table to replace my thermometer…  then back to the apartment for an afternoon nap.  BK has severe sleep debt from last 2 weeks of reservist training.  We finally got up at 8.15pm, oops!… our dinner reservation at Rudi Lechner’s was at 8pm.  Nevermind, we were easy and arrived at 9pm.

Dinner at Rudi Lechner’s was pleasant and comfy, accompanied by live country music.  It is a wonder that the restaurant has been in operation for 33 years and still get good crowds in the evenings.  We had a chat with Chef-owner Rudi – he came out to meet us after we inquired about his tableside dessert.  He asked about my background, and recommended me a book to read for inspiration ~ Bread Alone.  We decided that the next time we visit Rudi Lechner’s, we would only savour desserts, no room for main course.  Tableside dessert will be done by Chef Rudi himself ~ at the tableside!  Order must be place 24hr in advance so that he can plan the slots.  This time, we ate too much of the main (and it was a platter for one?), and had no room for dessert.

After dinner, at the exit, we met Susy, Barry and their son Alex – they were passionate about food and recommended us a Mexican restaurant Teotihuacan and a Mexican Bakery Cafe Rustika.  They told us that even though Chef Rudi came from Austria and serves German food, his restaurant has since adapted his food to American-German since it first opened.  Hmm… the full name of the restaurant is Rudi Lechner’s German American Restaurant?  We planned to keep in contact, as 17 year old Alex may pursue his graduate course in Singapore in the future.

1 November 2008, 10am


We had just celebrated BK’s birthday with a home-made cake, yup 1 day late since I fell asleep the night earlier.  We planned to go to Matt Family Orchard, only persimmons were in season.  It was about an hour drive to Tomball.  We picked a total of 33 persimmons, and I only contributed a precious 1;p  The tool used was a long bamboo with an attached metal basket at the top end.  We were supposed to push upwards, not downwards to prevent injury to the tree  It looked easy but I left all the picking to BK after a tedious one… and a ripened fell as well and splashed me with its pulp … ha!  The weather was warm compared to the week earlier, so I wouldn’t say it was exactly comfortable picking the fruits.  But it was a great feeling picking fresh fruits.




Once done, we had intended a trip to Spring, but I could see that BK was tired and sleepy at the wheel, so we decided to return to Houston to enjoy Coco’s Crepes @ Gray Street.  We had savory crepes this time, and sat al frescoNice.  We love to nua (laze about, do nothing) at pastry cafes … rather it started that I love to do that, and he got influenced by me (I guess he chose to join me and soon grew to like the feel … and the company as well ;p) and we enjoy cafes with casual atmosphere where we can empty our mind and get inspired ;p  Back at the apartment, it was own time own target.  habaneroWe skipped dinner … not really, we replaced a cooked meal with “junk food” – Tostitos tortilla chips + Spicy Mango habenero sauce, recommended and given by Krystine… Yum!  BK said the the “junk food” recommended by Krystine was yummy!

2 November 2008, 9am

BK left for his flight to Boston at about 3pm.  That morning, he joined me at Rustika Cafe, a Mexican Bakery Cafe.  With him around, I could try more things.  He liked stronger tasting and richer food and he had a Mexican seafood lunch – the red snapper with the sauce tasted really good, the mexican rice was not the usual I like with tomato base.  I ordered mushroom tacos, it came with a nice salad.  I also tried spinach empanada – the crust was just so so.  Usually on my own, I could only try one thing and I reserve that for pastry.  I read while he was supposed to be reading his notes for his product training … but he was surfing the net for F1 updates instead :~  It is quiet time for us as usual in pastry cafe.  It is nice to have him around, the only side effect is I eat and munch too much!  The few days he was here, I deviated from my dinner of veggies for Texan cheesesteak, German meat platter etc … I told him I will cook the next time he is here, ok … at least once or twice … it is difficult for me to digest the type and portion of food when we eat out.  But it was enjoyable … I tend to munch more too! 

Before he left, he tasted the sweetness of his labour – persimmons.  Hmm, they were sweet surprisingly, just like the orchard owner Matt told us … I never liked the fruit coz I thought they have a bitter taste…



A week has passed since he left, I was too pre-occupied with finals.  See him soon in a week’s time … which also mean my graduation week … the feeling is so mixed – it is indeed possible to be happy and sad.

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!