Category Archives: Inspirations

A Princess Cake for My Niece

My niece, Laura, turns 8 yesterday.

A few weeks ago, I told her I will make her a birthday cake.  What would you like?  I like a blue cake, she said.  Eh?  Blue?  I thought she may like to make it a sweeter colour like pink or purple.

The day came nearer, I only knew I was going to make her a Princess Cake or A Doll Cake.  Still clueless exactly what piping I would put on the dress, if fondant will be used etc.

Thursday came, I decided to use Peggy Porschen’s recipe for a rich chocolate cake as the “gown” for the princess.  The folding in of flour could be better done using a mixer paddle as recommended, I used a spatula and believed the end result was due to my over-folding.  But it didn’t not matter since the base needed something stable.

That night I decided that I will bake cupcakes for all, so that the princess will not be cut up to pieces upon blowing the candles.  By midnight I was flipping through a Wilton cake decorating book and decided on the letterings.  I made a batch of royal icing, yes at 2am, and started working on it.  It takes 12 hours for the icing to dry out propoerly.  By the time I was done, I was satisfied and exhausted.

Royal icing lettering

The next morning, I bought a packet of Buttermilk and started working on the cupcakes.  The recipe turns out soft, dense and vanilla flavoured cake – lovely.  It was Martha Stewart’s Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes.

Doll cake transformation

By afternoon, I still did not have an idea how the piping will turn out.  I just got everything ready, cut the cake to shape, did a batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream, tinted some fondant blue and walah, I was ready to go.  I just worked on the cake fervently.

By evening I was done, and was really happy to see the finished product.  I sent my sis-in-law a message “May you be impressed with the Blue cake she requested!”.  So blue can turn out a sweet cake indeed.

The Princess Cake Transformed

And I was so happy to see many happy faces that evening.  Enjoy the Blue Cake, and Enjoy the Princess Cake (or do you call this a Doll cake).

Working My Brain Inside-out

It has been so long since I stepped into my journal world … too long in fact, the last post was in April … now it seems I have to get used to the wordpress format all over again. 

This post is spontaneous, I just typed my blog name … not really knew the purpose, and I got in and I clicked on “new post”.  So what’s up?

Do you work?  Where are you working?  …  I got asked so many times in the last 6 months, I lost count, and now few asked again.  And I like it this way.  I knew some are genuine concerns and I will surely update these people personally without being asked.  The others?  Probers, perhaps … some friends just had time to dig information and I am not longer sure if they really care how I am doing, and I gave them answers that probably bored them that they realised I was not going to share anything in depth with them that would be newsworthy.  Many no longer contact me coz we are not in the same grapevine, perhaps.

Tai-Tai? …  Some friends used terms on me which irritated me a little, because they are my friends.  Just because I don’t work for a salary or employed, I was referred to as “Tai-Tai” or “woman of leisure”.  Few can accept I let go a good package in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue something they never thought I would, and in most cases we became friends in the same industry.  I could not provide them with any concrete ideas they could imagine and expect me to be, so some effectively thought I do nothing.  Ha.  These words from them were not malicious, just ignorance of truly what I am pursuing, despite me sharing my personal goals and dreams.  Different wavelength just because I choose not to be a salaried corporate employee, and we are not on the same corporate path.  But I know some of these friends do care for me.

My family life?  …  I am also working on starting a family.  It is no simple task, partly because the reproductive system is not at its peak.  But we believe it is in God’s will and plan that he will provide for me, for us, for our family.

My business?  …  literally, ha, it is my business indeed.  I am indeed working on a plan to start something , however small the steps are, but just start.  Recently BK said to me a phrase he read somewhere, do not remember the exact words, something to the effect – as long as we don’t stop dreaming and working on it, continue to move no matter how small the steps.  He spoke to me at a time when my mind was filled with hesitance, fear, self-doubt, and yet roaring to create our dream.  I finalised on the name and registered my business, met up and confirmed the vendor to create my website, pressured and adrenalised (I don’t think there is this word but the meaning is exactly what I need) into working the business plan and the “products”.  I enjoy every moment from the dream to the search, research and continuously researching … to the plan, and I aim towards realising it.

Perserverance?   …   I must continuous despite of fear.  Or I will never do anything great.  I believe.  I do.  I be.

When my business is realised, this will be where I shall first update.

This note felt so much like a psychological assurance to myself, but really it put down my full commitment to getting It done, getting  It right!

Keep in touch  …  with the people who care for me, with myself who got to just do it, do it.

ps:  Recently on radio, I overheard the DJ sharing some words on Life – we do not hope to win, or think we can win, but Expect To!  Cheers

My Fascination with A Simple Sponge Cake ~ Castella!

I have this fascination with a simple sponge cake I found in Japan.  It is Castella or to the Japanese, Kasutera (カステラ).  It is Portuguese in origin but the Japanese made it popular … or rather it originated from pão-de-ló, a portuguese cake.  Most of the castella cake businesses started in Nagasaki, a port town in Kyushu, and which was naturally influenced by imports from foreign ships in its early days.

~ Original Castella Cake from Fukusaya ~

~ Original Castella Cake from Fukusaya ~

 

 

In my first few weeks at CIAML, I asked Chef Sebastien about this cake.  I guess Castella is not popular outside Japan.  The other country where Castella is popular is Taiwan, since the country was previously occupied by Japanese for years in her history.  I wanted to know how the cake can be so evenly baked and cut.  I passed Chef a cd containing a pix of the cake, and a summary of some information I found on the net, and I believed he has not viewed the file on the cd yet.  Ha! 

During my recent trip to Osaka, I bought one from Fukusaya for BK and myself, and another bigger one to bring to the hotel where I was last attached to.  To many, it was just a 蛋糕,literally mean Egg cake.  Oh well, it is.  It is a sponge cake made of  sugar, flour and eggs, and starch syrup(?).  The original version is honey-flavoured.  Now it comes with Matcha flavoured and Cocoa flavoured.  Most of the pastry team at the hotel gobbled the cake before a second look, while a few appreciated the cake for the texture, taste, and simplicity.  Do you have the recipe?  The Pastry Chef asked.  I believed it is widely available on the net, it was the precision in baking resulting in a evenly flat cake and the packaging that made this cake special, at least to me.

I simply love it ~ a simple, honest and perfectly baked moist piece of art.   

 

Castella evenness

~ Castella evenness ~

It is a perfect cut!

BK and I shared half the cake over supper one night with hot milo, a local chocolate drink.  Then I got to finish the rest for breakfast over the last 2 mornings, because I got to wake up later than him to have a leisurely breakfast.  A light sugar crunch on the bottom, a subtle honey flavour, a light evenly fluffy texture, with a perfect flat brown top.

And the packaging ~ yes, you can trust the work of Japanese packaging.  Meticulously wrapped and boxed to keep the cubiod cake intact.

~ part of the packaging ~

~ part of the packaging ~

img_9716_1

~ Castella box ~

I didn’t manage to take a picture of the full packaging, I was all ready to taste a huge mouthful.  Then another.  And another.

 

~ Matcha Castella from Bunmeido ~

~ Matcha Castella from Bunmeido ~

I searched in my digital pix collection and found a pix of the full packaging of a Matcha flavoured Castella I bought last year from Narita Airport, Japan.  I was transiting at the airport enroute from California to Singapore, and found the matcha version from 文明堂, or Bunmeido.  The Bunmeido version was pre-cut, also evenly. 

It is definitely not going to be my last bite for this simple sponge cake.  It was perfect-o!  My fascination continues

Tipsy Turvy @ Chocolate Academy, Chicago

Day 1 ~  My head spun, and I had a bout of sinus and a night of throbbing headache all the way till this morning when I returned for Day 2;

Day 2 ~ My stomach couldn’t take it anymore and I sat in class stoned for the last 2 sampling.  I drank 2 bottles of mineral water.  Now it appeared I have upset my gastric and I am feeling some discomfort back in my apartment.

…  And the interesting thing is:

This could aptly describe my last 2 days in a Chocolate-Wine- Scotch pairing workshop at the Chocolate Academy by Barry Callebaut in Chicago.  For a start, I am a non-drinker;  I loved my 70% cacao dark chocolate and disliked the milk counterpart.   But I enjoyed myself, as almost always.

Back on Sunday 7 Dec, I flew into Chicago for the 2 day workshop on Monday and Tuesday.  The original plan when I first signed up for this course was that I was just stopping over in Chicago en route my UA flight back to Singapore.  Yes, leaving Houston for Singapore after completing and graduating from the Culinary Institute Alain and Marie LeNotre on 21 Nov.  And Barry Callebaut had just opened the Chocolate Academy in September 2008, the first Chocolate Academy in the US, and the 12th around the world.  But alas, I confirmed the course, but could not confirm my UA flight for the Chicago-Narita leg and Narita-Singapore leg till last week.  I decided to ditch the flight plan, fly back Singapore direct from Houston on Singapore Airlines instead, which mean I will fly back to Houston after my workshop in Chicago, and fly out from Houston to Singapore the following day.

I arrived into Chicago on Sunday, the temperature was sub-zero, about -7 deg celsius.  That evening I went for a walk along the river, I was dressed warm with a layer of cashmere, a sweater, a woolen coat and a windbreaker, completed with scarf and gloves.   But my ears were freezing … BK had brought me my woollen cap that didn’t match my coat, so I refused to use it, and I didn’t bring to Chicago ;~  Hee.   That evening I slept at 8pm, accumulated sleep debt again but it was good 8 hour sleep and I was wide awake at 4am.

I arrived at the Chocolate Academy @ W Chicago, a few blocks from my hotel.  I was met by Dora, she is the business manger and coordinator at the Chocolate Academy – Dora graduated from the French Pastry School and had previously worked in a number of hotels.  Then we were introduced to the instructor for the workshop – Chef Paul Feaver from Canada.  He had flown in the day earlier as well. 

Chef Feaver’s Introduction.  Chef Feaver lives in eastern Canada, and he works as a GM and chef at a restaurant.  His professional life revolves around being a GM of a restaurant business, and chef in charge for the restaurant,  instructor and ambassador for the Chocolate Academies in Canada and Chicago, and spend time researching and developing ideas and materials for new courses – he called it crazy schedule but he clearly enjoys the adrenaline rush and like he said or he will get bored.  He is the creator of this course, and this is the first time the course was ever conducted by the Chocolate Academy, so he encouraged us to ask him loads of questions, shared with him how we want to move along etc.  Depending on response, he may be creating advance follow up to the course but that could take at least another year – pairing choc with tequila, with beer etc.  And why chocolate and wine?  It was created by fluke – like all creations and discoveries, isn’t it? – he was at a trade show and the booth next to his was serving wine, he tried some with choc – some worked, some didn’t – and this was how it all started.  Then, he has been learning wine for the last 11 years already.  In his professional life, he was blessed with a 5 month break from restaurants and kitchens … where he spent time learning, and put things together.  He never liked Maths and Chemistry but now he enjoys them in a whole different scale.  Cool!  If our education system can be taught the same way, but again we may not be ready to appreciate the depth till we discover we are ready one fine day.  Now he get paid to enjoy what he likes.

More about Chef  Feaver ~ He is from New Finland(?), the most eastern part of North America.  He is of French, Scottish, and English origin (think I missed another part to this).  He spent 22 years in Opera, and 22 years in the industry, and … by 11 Dec he will be turning 38!    He said, go do the Math.

Six of us attended the sessions:  Jill and Lori from Pair Chocolates – they are already pairing chocolate and wine in their business working for their company but were at the session to learn more;  Eric, Assistant Pastry Chef from Hyatt Orlando;  Neil – a wine enthusiast who would like to own his choc and wine business;  And Rieko – a choc business owner who previously attended the French Pastry School and now supplies luxury chocolate to airlines, corporate and  sales.  Had a chance to speak at length to some of them … inspiring indeed.

What we learnt during the 2 days?  Nosing and tasting, more nosing and tasting, and more …  The first thing in eating is nosing, as the smell goes over the tongue first, Chef Feaver said.  The hardest is getting over something we personally do not like but it is not all about Me?, it is about the consumers we are serving.  In learning, Chef Feaver reinforced there is never a failure, never a mistake if we learn from it, it is always a learning process … quoting Thomas Edison in his discovery of light bulbs – we will learn the ways not to do to make it work.  In the process of teaching, he shared that he does not know everything, he is learning continuously from his students too, so he is also a student at the same time, he will continuously learn or he will get bored.

The 5 Primary Elements of Tastes.  1.  Sweet.  2.  Salty.  3.  Bitter.  4.  Sour.  5.  … and he excluded Rieko and me from the question he posed to the class as Asians has the taste in our culture.  Huh?  The 5th basic taste is Umami– a Japanese term – a fresh, cleansing taste … Chef Feaver said it is a clarifying taste, the process of blending things together, a negative spice …  To me, I have always accepted as part of our cooking and I never thought it was unique to Asians and I must have heard of this term but I don’t remember it.  Now I do.  He gave us a secret ingredient – a negative spice – to neutralize the taste if we add too much of one component in our recipe (so it shall remain a secret here!  I am not telling unless you are my worthy friend ;p).  Like Rieko, I enjoy and will continue to experiment with pairing Asian ingredients to the basic recipes I have learnt.  It is fun.

Day 1.  After a morning of theory on Chocolate and profiles of specific grapes … Chef Feaver said “Let’s go for lunch now, before we come back and … drink!”  To laughter.  And it was the beginning of more laughter the whole afternoon through and a hilarious session.  For choc-wine pairing, we were to pair both choc and wine profile that balance and equalise.

“Nose the wine, nose the choc, then eliminate, then tasting them, it will be more accurate” … ‘Don’t make it too complex in taste” … “Always pick choc, then pick the wine” … “First sip to cleanse, second sip to taste” … “2 ways to clear and refresh your senses – 1. coffee beans.  2. … smell yourself” (oh!! … Reason being that our body smell is something we are used to and is neutral to us, so when we smell ourselves, it makes the mind go blank and relax, which numbs and clears our senses from other smells … interesting!) … “if you are serving a flight of wine for tasting, always starts from mildest to heaviest … if you put champagne, that is the first thing to taste”…

By 5th testing of white wine, and 1 more to go … I was sniffling.  Chef Feaver said the wine must have set off my histamines and my sinuses started acting up.  I was feeling cold, my face flushed.  “You ok?”  Chef Feaver asked, and the class laughed.  Neil, seated next to me, asked me to drink more water.  In getting our response to a question he asked, the Chef said to the class, “What did you see in front of me?”  I see *Stars!… to more laughter, he was expecting us to say “chocolate”.  Then we have 3 red wine tasting to go, the first one must have set off an allergic reaction – my skin showed red pores, and my skin started to itch.  Chef Feaver identified that I may be allergic to the sulfide, the preservative which is not present in white wine or melalactic acid, which is present in red wine.  Other than these differences, the white has no stem, no seed, and no skin added.  

For someone who doesn’t like milk chocolates, you are doing pretty well.”  I think my mind is confused, chef… more laughter.  He explained that our concept of milk chocolate come from candies … he would let children eat directly from a bag of chocolate anytime – will not set off any hyperactive reactions etc, choc being 10x more antioxidants to red wine and berries.  During the pairing session, I tried 3 types of milk chocolate – Ghana Milk (Cacao Barry 40.5%), Arriba (Callebaut 39%), Java (Callebaut 32%), still can’t say I like them on its own compared to the dark chocolate but I do like specific wine and milk chocolate pairing.  I actually enjoy them.

By the end of the session on Day 1 … “Chef, I can’t hear you…” … “Chef, whatever you say, can you say it again?” … I was no longer thinking … and I guessed I repeated the requests a couple of times, to more laughter.  I will, and next time I’ll record it, referring to the sames classes he will be conducting again twice in April.  Jill joked that she wished she could put me on candid camera or YouTube.

Then I noticed that other than the 6 + 3 + 1 wine glasses we each had a set and used, there was a carafe left untouched at the end of the session.  I asked “Chef, why did you give us a carafe?” … It is meant for you to spit in it!Huh? None of us did, we had tasted and drank the wine.  Referring the the Choc-Scotch session we would be having the next day – “I would need to repeat more times for tomorrow“, more laughter.  Chef, I would not be here tomorrow though I will be physically here… again more laughter.  As Chef Feaver does this as part of his job – wine tasting and pairing, he usually noses the wine and chocolate for pairing elimination and decision before he actually tastes the wine and chocolate for confirmation. 

The class laughed a lot on the first day, I was not sure if we were drunk, or we were happy and enjoying the session, or we laughed in reaction to words said … a combo, I guessIt was hilarious!

At the end of the class, I was already stoned.  I had walked closer to the chef to take a closer look at his full name to research on him, I looked at his chef jacket, then I looked at it again.  He laughed, it appeared that I had to repeat my actions twice to focus.  Then I took another 10 minutes to get dressed into my warm clothes, my head throbbing.  I decided to walk back to the hotel, the cold air did some good to clear my head.

Back in my apartment, I was sneezing, my head was still throbbing.  I had wanted to update my journal entry … I couldn’t think, … my eyes were puffy from the sinus reaction.  I knocked out, sitting in front of my laptop.

~

Woke up at 5, then 6, then finally at 7 … my head was heavy, and I just felt I need to sleep more.

Day 2.  More questions.  I asked about wine as a filling in choc … use fondant with the alcohol … suspension and syrup to reduce alcohol % … ganache … buttercream … gelatin etc.  I have to read more on this, as I don’t quite get the chemistry.  Chef Feaver also introduced us to Choc-a-latte, which we can use for sorbet, cream, liquid etc – it is a thick liquid form of chocolate.

A morning on theory of Scotch.  My eyes were still having a handover from the previous day.  All Scotch are whisky, and not all whisky are Scotch, Scotch being whisky produced in Scotland, just like how champagne and cognac were named.  In US, there is an “e” in “whisky” which made it “whiskey”, identifying its origin in US.  In Canada, there is a whisky called Rye(?) – the only whisky made from 100% rye grain. … The biggest markets for whisky are China and Japan.  Hmm.

Chef Feaver demo briefly on chocolate tempering before we proceeded to have lunch.  I got to see for the first time the types of machines available in the chocolate lab at the Chocolate Academy – Tempering, enrobers, robot-coupe vacuum machine, cutter.

After lunch, more nosing and tasting of Scotch … and nosing and pairing with the “right” chocolate.  “Right” being subjective, though an ideal pairing will enhance the taste and feel and there is usually one that has the best fit.  The nosing of Scotch hit the sensory hard, some sting my nose, my eyes teared, one shot to my head … and tasting, I didn’t like the burning sensation as the liquor triggered down my throat, and literally I only tasted with the tip and my tongue and I hardly swallowed.  There were 8 Scotches but 9 whiskys, I stopped at #6 … even though I thought I did pretty well in the nosing, tasting and choc-Scotch pairing initially … my stomach was burning and I didn’t feel very well.  Ate more bread, more chocolate.

The class was very enriching with loads of information.  I have so much to learn.  At the end of the session, we were each presented with a certificate of attendance, a tour of the store, and our choice of 1 x 2.5kg pack of chocolate – nice, my choice – Togo (Callebaut 61.3%), a dark choc balanced with a light gingerbread taste and a goodie bag of more materials on chocolate, machines and molds.  Nice!

~

Before I left for the day, I had a chat with Rieko, I would have loved to visit her business and learn from her.  She spoke to me briefly about the chocolate machines she uses too – she had preferred the machines which were French made, but the after sales service were limited in the US, so she uses Italian made.  Then Dora arranged for me to have a machine intro session with Chef Jerome Landriau.  Chef Jerome is the technical advisor for the Chocolate Academy, he joined the Chocolate Academy direct from Paris.  During our brief introduction and conversation, he introduced me to the use of the machines and their applications in the chocolate business, and the best way to learn is to learn from a great confectionary shop which uses the machines to produce the chocolates in quantities and possibly move to another for a few months, he provided me a contact to learn more about chocolate in Paris. 

When I left the Chocolate Academy, it was snowing heavily.  There was apparently a weather advisory issued for schools this afternoon.  The heavy snowing weather was a good experience for me though, yeah I was out there only for a short time since I hopped into a taxi after a 5 minute wait, couldn’t say I liked to have my head wet once the snow melted.  Got back to the hotel, rested a little to make sure my stomach was ok, and I went out to catch a quick dinner.  This time round, it appeared to be raining lightly instead.  The cold didn’t bother me much, as again I was layered comfortably except for my head.

Then I knocked out soon after and woke up at 11pm.  Now is 4am, and I hope to catch a wink to enjoy the bed a little before I wake up in an hour to pack, have a good waffle or biscuit meat pattie & egg breakfast before I leave for the airport at 7.15pm.

I am glad I made the trip here.  Being in downtown, even though I didn’t move around much, I enjoyed the walk, the weather, and the experience here.  Trust I will be back another time to actually experience the place and the pastry business.  One negative though – the drivers here are worse than those in Houston Ha.  I am looking forward to be back in Houston, my last chance to pack everything into my baggage allowance and intended excess baggage, clear my apartment and be all ready for my flight home to Singapore.  Yes, and hopefully a relaxing breakfast date before I leave Houston for home.

Reading Life’s Journeys … (completed)

I spent most of my time reading ~ even when I am shopping, munching pastries and sipping coffee, lazing about in my apartment, waiting for BK to finish his wind-surfing during weekends while in Singapore, in between actions …

This is a simple book that caught my eyes yesterday, found it in a half price book store at Rice Village:  Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers… by Fred Rogers 

Selective phrases resonate in me –  which I strongly believe in in living my life , and some which set me thinking ~ which I will hold them dear to live my life.  These 2 I did not separate…

Foreword by Joanne Roger

1.   …  always allowed each other to have own space … but even when we were apart, we were connected ~ pp4.

2.  …  had a heart that had room for everyone, and … fascinated by other people’s journeys ~ pp5.

3.  …  “we” and “our” – … so much a part of my ongoing journey ~ pp6.

As late Fred Rogers shared:

Who You Are Right Now

1.  … that I’m more able to accept myself as I happen to be, rather than as somebody thought I should be ~ pp 13.

2.  … the discovery of “who I am” in each of us – the “who I am” in relation to all those whom I meet ~ pp 14.

3.  … we all need to feel that we can bring the whole of ourselves to the people who care about us ~ pp 16.

4.  … if we can allow ourselves to be gentle with ourselves no matter what our feeling may be, we have the chance of discovering the very deep roots of who we are ~ pp 25.

5.  … “~ (need to refer again, can’t understand what I wrote too)” Quoting Dalai Lama ~ pp 26.

6.  … “I can do almost anything, but I’m still myself, I’m still myself, I am still myself inside…” Quoting song I’m Still Myself Inside  ~  pp 28.

7.  … people can like you exactly as you are  ~ pp 29.

8.  … nobody else can live the life you live… we always have the chance to bring what’s unique about us to life  ~  pp 31.

9.  … we were never made to feel that we had to be somebody that we were not, yet we were always encouraged to choose to be the best of who we were at the moment ~ pp 35.

10. …  there’s a part of all of us that longs to know that even what’s weakest about us is still redeemable and can ultimately count for something good ~ pp 36.

11.  …  And one reason we feel shy is that we’re not sure people will like us just the way we are ~ pp 37.

12  …  It’s really easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we do is more important than what we are.  Of course, it’s the opposite that’s true:  What we are determines what we do! ~  pp 44.

13.  …  people of all ages have deep feelings, and if we have the patience to wait through the silence, it’s often astounding what people will tell us  ~  pp 45.

14.  …  some of us must have forgotten how nourishing silence can be … whatever it’s called, it’s time away form outside stimulation, during which inner turbulence can settle, and we have a chance to become familiar with ourselves  ~ pp 47.

15.  …  “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” ~ The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery  ~ pp 54.

Loving and Being Loved

1.  …  anyone who has ever been able to sustain good work has had at least one person – and often many – who have believed in him or her.  We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others  ~  pp 65.

How true.  With my persistence held strong, I made one attempt after another … I ventured new grounds ~ all ‘coz someone believed that I am better than the self I judged, all ‘coz I heard “you can do it”… Joy

2.  …  as relationship matures, you start to see that just being there for each other is the most important thing you can do …  ~ pp 68.

3.  …  the best gifts are often wrapped in the most unspectacular way … isn’t it the “heartsurprise” that lingers in your memory and serves to nourish you from year to year?  ~  pp 69.

4.  …  there is something so comforting to realize that life goes on one way or another – even when those we love are way beyond our sight  ~  pp 71.

(con’t from my break…)

5.  …  coz deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves.  What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then  ~  pp 73.

I hold this close to my heart ~ I smiled when I saw the smile from her eyes from the small wins in class, I smiled wider when I knew how the wins made her day – I was happy and I scored a bigger win too.  It is definitely more satisfying than the solitude of winning all alone.  Joy

6.  …  every human being has value … through living each day as it is given to me, I’ve learned that.  It cannot be “taught”, but it can be “caught” from those who live their lives right along with us.  What a privilege to be able to look for the good in our neighbour!  ~  pp 76.

7.  …  we speak with more than our mouths.  We listen with more than our ears  ~  pp 79.

8.  …  feeling good about ourselves is essential in our being able to love others  ~  pp 86.

9.  …  it’s so great that people can be in a relationship with each other for the now and not a whole lot of baggage from their past and a whole lot of anxiety about the future to the present moment  ~  pp 90.

10.  …  there is a close relationship between truth and trust  ~  pp 93.

11.  …  where would any of  us be without teachers – without people who have passion for their art or their science or their craft and love it right in front of us?  What would any of us do without teachers passing on to us what they know is essential about life  ~  pp 94.

12.  …  the receiving in life to me is one of the greatest gifts that we give another person.  And it’s very hard.  Because when you give, you’re in much greater control.  But when you receive something – you’re vulnerable  ~  pp 97.

This is one area I need to continuously work on.  I love to give, and it is more natural to me …  By being a poor receiver, I made things awkward for the giver sometimes.  I have improved, I learnt to smile and say “thank you” for each compliment, each gift, each blessing… I learnt to let the giver know I truly appreciate the gift.  Joy

13.  …  all of us – were created by LOVE.  Love with a capital L.  And we spend our lives trying to recognize that we truly are lovable and capable of loving  ~  pp 100.

BK and I believe in living our lives with Love.  Love drives us crazy sometimes, or do we call it passion?  Love resonates in us like a rhythm, it moves up and down  … it gives the heart beat to every friendship we value, every action we took.  Joy 

14.  …  if you’re trusted, then people will allow you to share their inner garden – what greater gift!  ~  pp 101

Guided Drift

1.  …  there’s often a tendency for us to hurry through transitions.  We may feel that these transitons are "nowhere at all" compared to what’s gone before or what we anticipate is next to come.  But you are somewhere … you’re “between”  ~  pp 106.

2.  …  isn’t it mysterious how so many wonderful things in life come to us seemingly without our planning?  We start travelling down one street, and we find ourselves interested in something we never expected on a side street; and as we explore it, the side street becomes the main road for us  ~  pp 107.

I came to understand, from each present position I set my future, I only continue in my present position.  But if I start moving along and explore beyond, I find new inspirations, meet new people who share my journey, break the rules and savour the present moments.  Joy 

3.  …  “what do you think that means, ‘ the past is prologue’?” … I think it means, “Man, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”  ~  pp 110.

4.  …  when you can actually integrate what you’ve learned with your own personality – when you can actually use your education to be who you want to be, to choose out of that mixed bag of explorations what you want to call yourself.  That’s when your education adds an extra measure of excitement!  ~  pp 115.

5.  …  there is much more to independence than learning to master new skills.  One fo the most important parts of independence is learning to form new relationships with other people  ~  pp 120.

6.  …  there are time when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don’t seem to help  ~  pp 122.

7.  …  it may be that the most important mastery we achieve early on is not the mastery of a particualr skill or particular piece of knowledge, but rather the mastery of the patience and persistence that learning requires, along with the ability to expect and accept mistakes and the feelings of disappointment they may bring  ~  pp 123.

8.  …  try your best to make goodness attractive.  That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given  ~  pp 136.

9.  …  we don’t always succeed in what we try – certainly not by the world’s standards – but i think you’ll find it’s the willingness to keep trying that matters most  ~  pp 139.

10.  …  in fact, no one gets to be a graduate without the investment of other people:  people who have loved you all along the way  ~  pp 147.

I believe in living my life journey and in sharing this journey with all who trust me – I have been inspired by great individuals and in turn I seek to continuously inspire & give.  Joy