Monday, November 1, 2010

A delicious treat on a hot day! 小小冻品

My young son complained he was very thirsty and would like to have a bowl of delicious chilled dessert to quench his thirst.
“Mommy, why don’t we made the honeydew and sago dessert again?” he asked.
“Of course, and it is easy to make. I think it is time for me to teach both you and your younger sister to make this dessert. Let’s do it together now since we have all the ingredients at hand.”
My son started to cut the honeydew into two halves and removed the thick skin and scooped out the seeds. Next, he cut the first half into small cubes and put them in a bowl. Then he proceeded to cut the other half into slices and put them into the fruit blender to blend with some low fat milk. No, I do not use coconut milk. You can also use soya milk to substitute the coconut milk if you like.
On the other hand, my daughter boiled some water in a saucepan and cooked the sago until they turned transparent. Then, after sieving the sago from the hot water, she ran them under the cold tap water to keep the cooked sago separated. This will prevent them from lumping together.
We took out a big bowl and mixed everything together- the blended honeydew juice, the honeydew cubes and cooked sago and viola, our dessert was ready! For better taste, keep it chilled in the refrigerator.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Having fun with alphabet biscuits 英文字母

When my two children were very young, I used to buy them alphabet biscuits from the market or sundry shop. Kids loved to play with these biscuits and eat them.
I used these biscuits to introduce the English alphabets to my children. It was very simple. What I did was to arrange the alphabets, pointed at them and read them out loudly and clearly. My kids just followed. After reading each alphabet correctly, they popped that alphabet into their mouths!
Last week, my hubby saw these biscuits and bought some again for the kids. Now, they knew what to do without my supervision! They used the biscuits to spell out their names and even took the pictures of their work!
I am A L E X A N D R A and I am N I C H O L A S
 We R  A L E X I S and N I C K
Hahahaha…..My kids have definitely grown up!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My little chef cum photographer 小小廚師的廚艺

Last weekend, my 11 years old daughter offered to make lunch for the family. She choose a western dish. I bought some chicken ham, omega eggs and salad for her. Before long she managed to come up with this. Fried eggs and ham with lettuce and tomatoes. Hmm, not bad for a young girl her age. She also took the photos too. Well done, my girl!

Monday, September 13, 2010

When I first set my eyes on you 第一眼

It was almost 20 years ago. My colleagues and I went up to the penthouse of Hotel Malaya to sign up for aerobic class. After a month, the instructors told us that they were moving over to another building several blocks away. They were offering social ballroom dancing too, which really got us interested.

One evening after work, we went to the new place as we were keen to learn how to cha- cha and tango. When I pushed back the door, the first person I saw was you. You were busy collecting fees from other students and issuing receipts to them before class started.

My first impressions of you were that you looked kind and honest. It was a face I have been waiting to meet all my life and it was here before me at last. You wore a long sleeved white shirt and long black pants. You were there to help out and it was a joy to dance with you although you looked so cool.

After several months and many classes, we were still total strangers although I really wish to get to know you better. I was disappointed that you remained distant. When my colleagues decided to stop going, I just followed too because I thought we were not meant for each other.

But Fate has other plans and a year later………..

Friday, August 20, 2010

Can you just leave us alone, my friend ?

Yes, can you just respect and accept us, and then leave us alone? Is that too much to ask from you? If you cannot respect or accept us, at least leave us alone in peace, okay?

All these years, I have respected and accepted you for who you are. Is it so difficult to do the same for me and my family?

Just because you think and felt that you have found your ideal faith does not mean we have to blindly follow your footsteps too.

You are you. We are we. We were all different.

What is good for you is not necessarily good for us too.

Have you heard the phase, “One man’s medicine is another’s poison”?

If I wanted to follow your faith, I would have done so a long long time ago. I don’t have to wait for you to ‘discover’ it and then lead me into it! Remember, growing up in a mission school, I was ‘exposed’ to such environment long before you even give this thing a thought.

A dialogue between a Brazilian theologian Dr Leonardo Boff and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the best religion in the world yielded some of the wisest quotes from the respectable spiritual leader:

1. The best religion is one that gets you closest to God. It is the one that makes you the better person.

2. Whatever makes you more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humanitarian, more responsive and more ethical. The religion that will do that for you is the best religion.

3. Take care of your thoughts because they become words; words because they become actions; actions because they become habits; habits will form your character; character will form your destiny; and your destiny will become your life.

So you see my friend, I am perfectly happy with my choice and you need not do anything to change it. It is the same too for my family. You don’t need to change a thing for us because we were happy with the way things are going.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tenses in Novel Writing

Thanks to and the writer

Article from

How to use Past Tense, Present Tense and Future Tense in Novel Writing

Past, Present, Future Tense are Important!

One of the easy ways to tell beginner writing is that the story bounces from past tense through present tense and future tense at random. Unskilled writers who don't keep a consistent tense can confuse readers about what happened when. More than that, it's easy to drift into the passive voice and bore them in the middle of the most exciting scenes.

Yet the best way to generate the rough draft of a novel is to freewrite. Just get it down any old way and worry about whether its prose is good long after the fact, when you edit. The trick is to edit it. So don't worry about tense until you reach the editing stage. Either that, or settle on past tense and stick to it.

Past tense is the storytelling tense. This stuff happened, the narrator knows how it turned out, you read along until you find out how it turned out too. This is great. Past tense -- normal past tense, not deep past tense, is invisible.

First, let's look at what these tenses are.

Past Tense:
Michael opened the basement door. Two glowing red eyes looked up at him out of the darkness. He jumped. He fell down the stairs. Becka, his Siamese cat, meowed plaintively and washed his face. Her pale blue eyes still glowed red in the reflected light from upstairs.

That's all in past tense. It's invisible. No one thinks about that. Past tense is the most effective tense for any kind of storytelling because it's taken for granted.

Yet in this article, I sometimes lapse into present tense when I'm talking about something that's the same in the past, will still be true in the future and is definitely true now.

"Past tense is invisible" is present tense. It has its place in declarations of fact because they'll always be true, so they're true now. The statement carries a little more impact in present tense. This entire paragraph is in present tense.

Present Tense:
Michael opens the basement door. Two glowing red eyes look up at him out of the darkness. He jumps. He falls down the stairs. Becka, his Siamese cat, meows plaintively and washes his face. Her pale blue eyes still glow red in the reflected light from upstairs.

Awkward -- unless you're writing this as a plot synopsis for submitting a novel. A Presentation Synopsis should be written in third person, present tense. That's just what the industry considers standard. It can sound informal like someone telling a story. Put quotes around the sample Present Tense paragraph and it just sounds like someone's voice. It doesn't work in descriptive prose because it's too informal and distracting.

There are exceptions. You can set general past tense and refer to some element in the sentence as being present (including timeless) or future tense. Let's look at that third tense now, before we get into the really tricky stuff -- tenses for time travelers.

You are with me in the moment as I write it. So present tense can be used in dialogue effectively and in some types of statements you can use it in the same sentence with past tense -- implying something that's continuously true and still true.

It doesn't work nearly as well in that sample though.

Future Tense:
Michael will open the basement door. Two glowing red eyes are going to look up at him out of the darkness. He'll jump. He'll fall down the stairs. Becka, his Siamese cat, is going to meow plaintively and wash his face. Her pale blue eyes will still glow red in the reflected light from upstairs.

Awkward, to say the least... until you do this to it.

"I locked his cat in the basement! Michael will open the basement door. Two glowing red eyes are going to look up at him out of the darkness. He'll jump. He'll fall down the stairs. Becka, his Siamese cat, is going to meow and wash his face. Her pale blue eyes'll still glow red in the light from upstairs. I'm going to laugh so hard when he screams at that goofy cat of his. They'll both be scared out of their wits." Greg laughed, rubbing his hands. "I bet he thinks it's the Devil kissing him."

I just went back to past tense in the dialogue tag. It doesn't matter what tense you use in dialogue. Let that be dictated by the character's voice. Now, I trimmed the descriptions in the dialogue version because Greg could care less that it's reflected light.and his voice was a lot more casual.

Future tense is effective when you're describing plans. If you want the planner to sound more decisive, use "I-statements" like Greg did at the start. People who claim responsibility for their plans aren't afraid to carry them out or see what happens.

Where passive voice can drift in, weakening prose, is when past tense leans toward the deep past with a lot of qualifiers.

Michael had opened the basement door. Two glowing red eyes then looked up at him out of the darkness. He had to jump. He had fallen down the stairs. Becka, his Siamese cat, has meow plaintively and then washed his face. Her pale blue eyes had still glowed red in the reflected light from upstairs.

Clunky, slow, irrelevant with all those extra words thrown in, 'had' and 'has' and 'has been' and so forth. Try to chop out any words that do not add to the meaning of the sentence. Use contractions sometimes. Even in descriptive prose, contractions can work better than always spelling out 'it is."

For the best copy editing pass, try reading your novel out loud. Every time you stumble for breath, think about breaking that sentence. Every time you say it simpler than you wrote it, jot down the simpler version. Despite the beauty of some poetic descriptions, the key to real poetry is economy.

If you cram a lot of description into a very few words, that concentrated meaning is genuine poetry. If you just put in extra words, then it sounds pompous and slow. That may fit certain characters. All of these rules go out the window when you're doing dialogue. Write dialogue the way the character would say it, but try not to use dialect spelling if you can avoid it.

Word choice is a much better way to get dialogue to have an accent. So is word order.

So here's the kicker:

Tenses for Time Travelers
Absolutely, without fail, use past tense for the actual narration. Jumbled tenses can confuse a reader when characters are going back in time to affect the action in Chapter 2 and become the mysterious stranger who shoved the envelope in the mailbox or sent the Patronus across the lake to chase off the Dementors.

In writing time travel, point of view really matters. Try to keep events chronological according to the point of view character who's traveling. If more than one person is traveling, follow the point of view character's timeline within the scene. If you have to refer to time relative to someone else's travels, be very clear about it.

You don't have to become cumbersome with the 'had been' stuff but it helps to use 'then" and establish relative time between events on the narrator's timeline.

James traveled into the past. Visiting Chapter 2 for the second time, he put the envelope into the mailbox so that when his earlier self looked, the envelope would be there.

Now this does close a loop. It works very well for time travel. "Earlier self" is a construction that most readers have no trouble with, or 'younger self." They've seen way too many movies and TV shows, heard too many concise versions of how time travel works to be surprised or confused that time travel exists in your story. So you can chop it down to something tight and still get the idea across. Just be sure to mention it and when necessary, give relative chronology by a personal timeline -- narrator or speaker.

It helps to have a narrator who knows everything that happened along the various timelines, so the reader doesn't get too confused. It's vital that you, the author, don't get confused. Try writing synopsis sentences and create a timeline for each of the characters to check continuity. Try to keep the number of travels relatively few so that things don't get too snarled up.

And stick to past tense except in dialogue. These are people who did time travel. They know what they did first and what they did later. James found the envelope in the mailbox. He acted on it, found out how to time travel and went back in time to put the envelope in the mailbox. Now he can do time travel whenever he wants, as long as he listens to the advice of his older self so that he doesn't do something really stupid.

It's important to pay attention to tense in time travel stories more than any others, because it's way too easy to get confused about what happened when. If you keep the plot of the story feeling linear, the reader's happy and can follow the changes. Using a single close third person or first person point of view throughout the novel will make time travel work a lot easier for readers -- and for your keeping track of what happened when.

Charts can help too.

Enjoy! See you in November for NaNoWriMo!
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