January 16, 2017

Four-O on a Blue Monday

Today is the day.

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Source: Google Image

On the Bluest Monday ever as indicated by the formula above, I turned 40. Yep, I hit the big Four-O alright!

That’s all of me as an 18-year old with 22 years of life experience; old enough to recognise mistakes all life’s stupidity I have made since the coming of age, yet still young enough to brew some more mayhem before I turn vintage! I’m a retro and I call it the art of learning. 

Still. What the hell is Blue Monday?!

Swear to God, it’s a term I have never heard of until today. It only became known to me when Silver Bullet translated what the Radio DJ said about today being the gloomiest day ever.

In the office, Blue Monday which occurs typically on the 3rd Monday of January for countries in the Northern Hemisphere became the main topic of the day. It’s a term used for the prediction of the gloomiest day when unhappiness peaked due to post Christmas bills, debts and the wearing off of the holiday buzz.

The term was coined by a Dr Cliff Arnall back in 2005 by using the above equation. This year, it happened to fall on January 16 and it is considered the gloomiest, bluest and most depressing of all the other Blue Mondays with the added factors of Brexit, Trump as well as the deaths of celebrities and childhood heroes. 

Hmmmmm. See! I’m still learning and as blue as this Monday had been coined to be, I am far from depressed.

In fact, this Capricornian Fire Dragon albeit feeling a little aged and tired, is still feeling sharp, fine and full of spirit. Step on my piddly-little dragon tail and I’ll bloody whip-lash your ass off. It’s true.

And it has to to be. My birth month and my horoscope say so. Especially since Facebook has been hounding me with ads since about a month ago, following me around and trying to entice me to click on T-Shirts that scream “ME”:

capjan

Source: Facebook Feed

 My birthdays have always been a low key affair. I’m not so big on the entire hoolabaloos; dinner with family and a small gathering with friends are just sufficient.

With none of my friends to celebrate with this year, we kept it really simple; a home-made cake from Silver Bullet, lots of kisses from the kids and a visit from my in laws. 

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Living on hugs and kisses
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A home-made birthday cake by Silver Bullet

Every year, I always make sure that it is the day that I stay away from work. Not this year. 

Unlike my previous employers, organisations in the Netherlands do not grant an additional birthday leave. So this year, I went to work.  Already last week, my colleagues who keep yab of the team’s birthday, reminded me that I’ll need to celebrate it the Dutch Style.

That means, like every other Dutch person celebrating their birthdays, I have to bring my own birthday cake or little treats (traktatie) for my own party for my colleagues.

Not that I would mind but having lived in Asia for all of my life when I get pampered on my birthday with people buying me lunch, dinner, birthday cakes and treats, this was new to me. 

But , take heed. It’s the Dutch culture.

Here, the birthday person is expected to bring something lekker. Buy or make, it doesn’t matter. Then expect that you (and your family members) are going to get congratulated the hell out by (almost) everyone accompanied by the famous 3 Dutch kisses.

The Dutch are big on birthdays. Not celebrating it is practically unheard of and today, I had my first taste of yet another Dutch hospitality in the office. Not only because it was my birthday, but for the fact that the big four-o is considered to be special:

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Popping Confetti!
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The state of my desk!
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The works by thoughtful colleagues!

All I did was go to the bathroom for 10 minutes and within that time, my team mates bombarded my desk with what you see above. They also stuffed balloons into my bag and presented me with a sashay with the big Four-O on it along with a bunch of flowers as well as presents.

What a treat! Especially since I still consider myself as a newbie in the organisation. 

So. Blue(st) Monday? Nah! That Arnall guy and his formula, is (excuse me) just BS.

What this is really is the true meaning of the real life, Dutch Style. I guess this is where life begins – at the end of your comfort zone. 

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January 15, 2017

Sunday Humour: Idiotitis

Category: Entertainment

This epidemic has been going on for as long as we know with no known cure except death of the host:

 

idiotitis

Source Image: Google Image

 

I’ve met plenty in my lifetime but so far, couldn’t bring myself to get to the defense. Instead, I grin. Big grins.  And my guess is,  that was just an allergic reaction to idiotitis.

One thing is clear – there a difference of actually carrying this disease AND being one and then having to act like one  due to allergies caused by proximity.

I do not mind the latter. Therefore, I grin. ;D

Wishing you all the grins you can have for the week. Happy Sunday!

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January 13, 2017

Fabulous Friday Flavour: Recipe Showdown- Gorgonzola Cheese

If you love cooking, fun, and a challenge, this free recipe and cooking game is for you!

Recipe Showdown - All that's Jas

Credit: Jas @ All That’s Jas

So says my lovely, multi-talented culinary dynamo friend Jas Brechtl. She’s got me contemplating a commitment for a while now when she recently announced that she’ll be hosting Recipe Showdown from January 2017. 

The concept of Recipe Showdown is pretty similar to our Monthly Mystery Munchies (started in 2015) where the host site for a particular month sets the key ingredient/food product that participants must use.

The key difference is that this is properly rooted to a game that exists in the region of former Yugoslavia on the blog called Kuvarigrice.  

While our Monthly Mystery Munchies is a small yet fun affair between just Gen @Eat, Play, Clove and myself done on the 1st Friday of every month, Recipe Showdown will be a larger affair to anyone who wants to participate. It is a month-long participation with official rules and the host will announce the winner on the first of the following month who would then be the next host. 

Another great way to push my culinary boundaries! That sorts of seal the deal to join in the fun and I thought I would do that by complementing one of my weekly Fabulous Friday Flavours with Recipe Showdown. 

Jas kicked off January with an ingredient which I don’t quite like to eat and never used for my cooking: Gorgonzola Cheese!

That’s blue cheese, mind you. The kind with a taste that bites and to me, smells like feet! It would be one of those cheese I would say Thanks and NO THANKS to and please get that vile, viney, mouldy thing out of my face.

But I did say I’d rise up to push my culinary boundaries. So, with Pinterest as my source of inspiration, we bought the milder Gorgonzola for my experiment. I then covered my nose and gagged my way through while making my batch of Savoury Thyme-Blue Cheese-Fig Cookies.

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Prepping, Cooking Fig Jam and Shaping the cookies
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Out of the oven

This was such a pleasure and surprising easy to make: From dumping flour, butter and Gorgonzola all dumped into a food processor before mixing with thyme and then knead to form a dough… to that satisfying feeling of making your very own fig-cinnamon jam to pair with the savoury blue cheese base.

Whatever ill-feeling I had of the dreaded Gorgonzola before dissipated when I took my very first bite of the cookies when it came out of the oven. It was soft, crumbly, saltish yet sweet and fruity all at the same time. It had a little “bite” which I can’t quite explain.

My only gripe is the not-so-uniformed size of the dough and how messy each cookie looked after I splatted the jam on it. There’s definitely going to be another round of this and next time, I’m going to work on the shape and the mess!

Thanks to Jas, this is a keeper.  While I would still NOT eat blue cheese just like that, this is a classic case of without this challenge, I would still be your ardent nay-sayer of Blue Cheese in whatever shape and/or form. 

 

Savoury Thyme-Blue Cheese-Fig Cookies
Yields 30
A deliciously buttery, crumbly cookies made with thyme and blue cheese topped with home-made fig jam bursting with flavours of lemon, honey and cinnamon
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
1 hr
For the Cookies
  1. 1 cup self raising flour
  2. 115g butter, room temperature
  3. 115g Gorgonzola Cheese, cubed and crumbled
  4. Ground Black Pepper
  5. 2 tspn thyme
For the Jam
  1. 250g dried figs
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. Half cup water
  4. 1 quarter cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. Half tspn honey
  6. 1 tspn vanilla extract
  7. 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Pre heat oven to 180 degree Celsius
  2. Mix flour, blue cheese, butter and pepper in a food processor
  3. Once the dough is mixed well, transfer to a bowl. The dough will be very sticky at this stage
  4. Add in thyme and knead to a ball. Use more flour if necessary. It should be a little sticky, but not too sticky
  5. Roll up into a long cylindrical shape and wrap with baking paper
  6. Leave it in the fridge to cool for about 10-15 minutes
  7. While the dough is cooling, heat up a deep pan and mix fig, water, sugar, lemon juce, honey, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract.
  8. Mix well, caramelise the mixture till it is reduced down to a sticky, qooey, jam-like liquid.
  9. Add more water if it gets too thick and let it reduce down again. Watch that the caramel don't burn or you'll end up with a very bitter jam.
  10. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes; Let it cool once you are happy with the texture and consistency
  11. While simmering the jam, remove the cooled dough from the fridge. Cut rounds of the dough. Place them on a baking tray
  12. Then cut the into circular pieces
  13. Using the back of a spoon, make an indentation in each cookie to place the jam
  14. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes
  15. Remove and cool completely
Notes
  1. The thyme is optional. You can replace it with Rosemary if you like or not use any herbs at all. Using honey for the jam may dilute the taste of the figs, so do not overuse it and you can omit it if you like.
Grubbs n Critters http://grubbsncritters.com/
The rules of the game “Recipe Showdown”

    1. The host site for a particular month sets the key ingredient/food product that participants must use. The ingredient is given on the 1st of the month. (The first game will start here on January 1st)   
    2. Any time during that month, participants make a dish with the given ingredient and publish the recipe on internet with a link to the homepage of the game (this page), and a link to the post in which ingredient is given (host site). 
      • The participant who has already published a recipe with a given ingredient, regardless of the date, can use it to share, following the same rules (link to the host site and the game homepage).
      • Participants have to e-mail the host page the following information:

               – Name
               – URL of the page where the recipe was published
               – Photo of the finished dish

    3. The host site will publish all submissions with links in a post at the end of that month and select a winner/new host site for the next month. The host site can, if they wish, send a small gift to the winner.
    4. The host site will share the post on their social media.
    5. Re-entering the same recipe and repeating the host site is allowed after 2 years (subject to change).

 
Here’s the deal:
The game homepage (this page) will keep a running list of all host sites and ingredients, hence the rule to link here (so we can keep track).

To more success from #RecipeShowdown! Don’t forget to submit your recipes to allthatsjas1@gmail.com with the subject line Recipe Showdown January 2017 and share your creations on social media using hashtags #RecipeShowdown & #allthatsjas

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January 11, 2017

Get Lucky

Category: Entertainment

We’ve come too far to give up who we are. So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars.

So here goes.

She’s up all night to the sun. I’m up all night to get some. She’s up all night for good fun. I’m up all night to get lucky.

Did something sort of sound familiar and  yet you could not quite put your finger to it when you read the above? 

Well, well! If you have not caught on yet by the 4th italised sentence, you may have thought that I’d probably lost my marbles and not quite making sense. But no, I haven’t.

It’s just that I’ve got Daft Punk’s Get Lucky song stuck in my head for several days now and I’ve just been humming it in my head. Granted, it not my regular choice of music. But! for some reason my mind has been playing this on repeat and there’s no escaping the loop.  

It’s catchy, it’s groovy and I.LIKE.IT.

And perhaps under the circumstances, there’s a lot of truth to “we’ve come too far to give up”. After all, like the legend of the phoenix, we obtain a new lease of life by arising from the ashes. And perhaps, just perhaps, we all are up for some luck this time.

So here goes nothing. Enjoy! 

 

 

Like the legend of the phoenix
All ends with beginnings
What keeps the planet spinning (uh)
The force of love beginning
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars

She’s up all night ’til the sun
I’m up all night to get some
She’s up all night for good fun
I’m up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun

We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky

The present has no ribbon
Your gift keeps on giving,
What is this I’m feeling?
If you wanna leave I’m with it (ah)

We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars

She’s up all night ’til the sun
I’m up all night to get some
She’s up all night for good fun
I’m up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun

We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky

We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars

She’s up all night ’til the sun
I’m up all night to get some

She’s up all night for good fun
I’m up all night to get lucky

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky
We’re up all night to get lucky

Songwriters: Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo / Nile Rodgers / Pharrell Williams / Thomas Bangalter. Get Lucky lyrics © Imagem Music Inc

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January 10, 2017

Predictably Unpredictable

If there’s one thing you can count on in the Netherlands is the fact that the weather here can be predictably unpredictable. 

Sometimes cloudy; sunny if you are lucky, other times rainy and recently mostly foggy with lots of wind. Like the last time we experienced the biting winter in Holland 4 years ago, snow is possible, but not always a common occurrence. That is if it ever snows at all. Just don’t bet your life on it.

But those tiny balls of cotton came by last weekend. It snowed for only a few hours in the night but that few hours were enough to (dis)colour the pavements in our neighbourhood. I don’t think we were expecting snow that day.

Just like that, the streets were transformed and littered with powdery whites till the next day.  

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Snow on the walkway

If the kids were home that night, I’d wake them up. But they weren’t as they just happened to be at their grandparents’ that day. Bummer that, for I would love to watch the expressions on their faces as they witnessed their first snow.

The crystallised confetti of nature lasted long enough for the kids to play when they got home the next day. Even the cats were amused!

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Amused Cats
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Bemused kids

My heart swelled as I watched them revel in the wonder of nature. It was cold but they had a blast playing outside with whatever leftover snow they could get their hands and paws on.

They, the kids that is, amused themselves to make minuscule snowballs and laughed to their hearts’ contents as their little feet crunched through the melting white crystals. They had no care in the world and enjoyed every minute of it.

The snow had all melted by now, but it’s looking like that we’ll be expecting snow again this weekend. The kids will be thrilled! And this time, I’ll get to wake them up if it starts snowing at night.

Oh yes, I will! Even if they are fast asleep as there’d be no way I wouldn’t.

Only because I want to see that precious look on their faces as they experience it with such innocence and I want to be able to still-frame that expressions I had miss the first time.

It’s just one of those life essentials.

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