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In stride with Christ..
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Date:2008-08-01 20:30
Subject:Another Bento

I remembered what the missing bento was last week; it was home made pizza with tomato and pepperoni topping. This week Tuesday was fried rice, Wednesday was chicken sandwich, Thursday was a repeat of Monday's salad. Today I made spaghetti meatballs. Gave him some salad greens and an strawberry omochi. Since it looked pretty good, I thot I'll take a picture and post it.

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Date:2008-07-28 20:56
Mood: accomplished

My husband started working night shift last Monday. I've been preparing a bento box for his "lunch break" everyday since. Nothing spectacular thus far and it normally doesn't take me long to prepare.

For the first day, he decided he should go out with his colleagues so he asked for something light so I gave him 2 pieces of whole meal bread and 2 sausages. It ended up that his colleagues forgot to ask him to go with them so for the second day he asked for a full meal, which ended up to be roast chicken sandwiches with cheese on 4 pieces of whole meal bread. Beyond the first 2 days, I can't remember the details except that I repeated the roast chicken sandwiches with cheese and one day it was fried rice.

Today, I asked if he was ok if I prepared a salad for him. At first he wasn't keen but finally agreed. Basically, I gave him golden butterhead leaves with tomatoes, roast chicken, boiled egg and buttered potatoes. Below is a picture of it. It's the prettiest bento box I've prepared for him thus far.

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Date:2008-02-02 15:55
Subject:Baking Fever
Mood: creative

I started with muffins. It gets better with each try. Used different types fruits including banana, apple and mango. Today I made my 8th batch, which is with banana and raisins. Thought I should post some photos.

Today's muffins:

I also decided to try baking bread today. Since we are on a tighter budget these days and can't afford expensive food, I figure maybe I could make my own gourmet bread. For the first attempt, I made a third of Jo's Rosemary bread. Was having lunch while it was baking and didn't watch so it turn out a bit burnt on the outside and a bit dense and moist on the inside. Taste was fantastic though. Love it but was a bit too salty especially for my husband.

So I decided to make another batch with less salt. The full recipe but divided into 2 portion. First portion I dribble some herb infused olive oil and garlic on top before baking. Baked uncovered, top & bottom grill, bottom grill and then top & bottom grill again. Top was burnt but sides almost uncooked but edible. Still taste good.

For the second portion, I baked semi-covered with the same grill mix combination. Turn out much better except that it was still a bit burnt on the uncovered part. Next time I must fully cover until the end just to brown the top.

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Date:2008-01-22 14:18
Subject:Visiting My Grandma
Mood: sad

Visited my grandma today at the Old Folks Home. She doesn't look too good - not as alert as the last time I saw her about 3 1/2 weeks ago. And she hardly ate her lunch.

When the family met during my grandfather's funeral a month ago, it was agreed that my Uncle was to bring my grandma to stay with them when they move to their new home sometime 3rd week of December. I checked with them and was told that the plans has changed as they insisted they have to wait 49 days after my grandfather's death before they can move. Now the plan is to move on 16th Feb 2008. This move has been delayed for almost 2 years since they receive the keys to the new house.

I am very concern about my grandma's well-being if they continue to postpone the move. I know its not easy to take care of a wheelchair bound elderly who is almost deaf but they promised and therefore gave my grandparents hope. But as they delay time after time with one excuse after another, I can see that my grandparents lost hope, which is the reason why I believe my grandfather passed away when he was still healthy physiologically.

It makes me sad. I don't know what else I can do. I did the best I know. I was the one who put my grandparents in the Old Folks Home as it was becoming too dangerous for both of them to be home alone without other caretakers. I was forced to do it after my grandfather fell (this was like the 4th or 5th time in that year) and if not for my brother who was then back for the weekend, there wouldn't have been anyone to help him. I was trying to preserve the length of their lives. Now I'm not sure if I did the right thing.

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Date:2008-01-21 09:44
Mood: happy

Not sure why lately I started having this desire to bake. I never liked baking, mainly because dessert isn't particularly my favourite dish (although it is my husband's, who has a separate compartment in his stomach for dessert). Personally I think its because I have been cooking a lot lately, and especially more proper cooking since we've been hosting friends. (I counted, including last night's guests, we have had 6 groups of family/friends/neighbours over for meals since 29th Dec.

Anyway, I decided I shall start with muffins since my friend said its about the easiest thing to bake. I looked for recipes on the internet specifically looking for those where feedback said its moist (I don't like dry ones). Found this Banana Crumb Muffin. Did it twice. First time, top was a little burnt by the time insides were cooked enough. Second time, bottom was burnt (black) by the time the insides were cooked enough. This is mainly because I am using the grill function of my microwave oven. I'm planning a third try today which some variations to the ingredient. Hopefully this time round it will bake properly without burning any parts of the muffins.

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Date:2008-01-09 10:45
Subject:Blessing Others
Mood: surprised

Recently a friend of mine and I discussed about how we should view finances as Christians. She forwarded me a devotional message today with a testimony of how God multiplied the person's finances when we seek God and trust in Him. As I was pondering upon the testimony, it occurred to me how God has allowed my hubby and myself to bless others even more when we are financially tighter than before.

My hubby quit his work with his family business in Oct 2007 as he intended to pursue a career that is more in-line with his interest and God-given gifts. Initially, we weren't sure what that will be. When we decided after much prayer that he should pursue a Master degree while working as a Research Assistant, he has already missed the application dateline. This means he could only start in July 2008. This means that we have been surviving on my salary alone since Oct 2007.

Our most major concern about this is whether we can fit all our mandatory expenses, for e.g., loans, tithes, offerings, etc. A couple of things had to be thrown out of the budget but we decided that we will continue to support World Vision and give as much as we can to mission via church. Another of my concern is whether we can continue to bless others by treating them to meals. Its obvious that we will not be able to afford to eat out as often, even for ourselves (we used to eat out at moderately expensive restaurants for 80% of our dinners), not to mention giving treats to friends when we eat out.

So we decided that we should eat at home as much as possible and on most days use only 70% of our daily food budget so that we can bless others with the extra. Since we decided to do this, we have been able to host many friends for meals, way more than we ever treat friends when we had two income. Its amazing how God helps us stretch what we have and give wisdom to cook good meals with relatively small budget!

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Date:2008-01-08 10:24
Mood: loved

This morning I woke up to the smell of pancake. My dear hubby woke up earlier to make them so when I came out of the bedroom still groggy, I was served with warm pancakes and freshly brewed coffee. So blessed!

(My hubby was so proud that he could do this for me... )

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Date:2006-04-20 18:34
Mood: happy

Last Sunday, my sister gave birth to a cute baby boy. Now I'm officially an Aunt. He's such a cute baby and by brother say he looks like a doll! Indeed he does!

Image hosting by Photobucket

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Date:2006-03-11 18:25
Subject:When Love Takes You In
Mood: ecstatic

When Love Takes You In - Steven Curtis Chapman

I know you’ve heard the stories
But they all sound too good to be true
You’ve heard about a place called home
But there doesn’t seem to be one for you
So one more night you cry yourself to sleep
And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go
There is nothing that could ever cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in

For a long time, I felt like the first verse of this song. I never thought that the remaining parts will apply to me.... but it did! Only God can make something like this happen.

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Date:2005-12-05 19:14
Mood: stressed

Been extremely busy. Work in IBM is heavy - managing 5 projects and starting a new one with some pre-sales work is no joke. Thankfully, my partner is taking the full-load of the cafe responsibility. Otherwise I don't know how to handle.

I've been sick quite a lot lately. I used to boast that I only fall sick at most once a year. In the past 6 months, I've been sick at least 4 times. *sigh* I attribute it to stress and lack of exercise. Don't know how I can overcome this when time is not on my side.

Thus, this blog has been very much neglected. There's so much to write that I blank out which to write. The cafe has it's ups and downs too. There are days that business is so good and other days it's so quiet. We don't understand why. Everyday we pray for God's providence. We claim His promise that He will bless us abundantly. Right now we are also praying against our enemy. We recently found out that our neighbour told someone that our food is not good. It's weird as he used to order food from us all the time. So we concluded that Passion Cafe is indeed blessing people and our enemy is trying to put a stop to it. So we are now praying against the works of the enemy. Do pray with me too.

There has been some turbulence in the family scene too. Hopefully things are settled.

Things to look forward to:

1. Making a trip to Perth on 11 Dec and coming back 19 Dec. Basically it's to attend my cousin's wedding on 17 Dec. It will be good break.

2. Spending Christmas with my friends in Singapore. Still have to buy their Christmas gifts.

3. Spending New Year with my family at home.

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Date:2005-10-28 12:13
Subject:Another Year
Mood: melancholy

Older! Sigh! Can't pass for 21 anymore. :p

Not sure if it's because of the number or just the stage in my life, but this year's birthday feels rather different from pass ones... it does not hold as much meaning to it and I don't feel excited about celebrating it like past years. Maybe it's really an age thing.

My first celebration was with the iBridge group people. It was originally meant to celebrate Carmen's & Chooi Li's birthday but they included me last minute. I was rather surprised cos it was at Passion Cafe and I didn't expect them to remember since I've been the one reminding everyone of everyone's birthday. It was nice to know they remember mine. It was also a good gathering because it's been a long time since everyone in the group can make it. It's really nice seeing everyone again.

Surprise Birthday Celebration with iBridge Friends

Celebrated 2 weeks early with my family as it was then my brother came back from Penang. They bought me a cake and we had seafood lunch. Told them, next year onwards, don't need cake. Just go out for a meal is enough. Age thing again!

Next was with a friend over dinner at Mandarin Oriental Japanese Restaurant. Food isn't fantastic for the price we paid and it was just like any other dinner with a friend. Nothing to shout about.

My CG wanted to celebrate for me too. They asked me if I want to have it in Passion Cafe. I said since I don't have enough staff at the moment, if we had it in Passion Cafe, I'll end up serving them. Not much of a celebration then. Siew Lim asked me what I've not eaten for a long time and would like to have for my birthday day. I said, "Bak Kut Teh". So we went to Klang on Sunday morning for Dry & Soup Bak Kut Teh. I like it and truly enjoyed the time especially since I don't get to join the CG for a lot of things.

Special Bak Kut Teh Brunch with DV Works CG

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Date:2005-09-20 21:23
Subject:I Passed!!!
Mood: relieved

I sat for the PMI PMP Certification Exam this morning. And I passed! Only by God's grace. Why? It was an exam with 200 questions that lasted 4 hours! And the passing mark is 69%!

AND I only seriously started studying last Friday. Well, off & on I did read through PMBOK since about 3 weeks ago, only on Saturdays.... Yesterday when I was trying to do last minute cramping, I found that I did very badly in the sample exam questions. I had more wrong than correct answers! It was already 1.00 a.m. in the morning! I just couldn't go on anymore. So I prayed. I told God that I've done all that I can within the time I have. I really need to pass this exam as it is very expensive and to sit for it again will cost not only money but time, both of which I cannot afford. So it's up to Him. If I pass, all glory will be due Him.

And I did! Praise God! Only He could have given me the clarity of mind to remember what I read and the wisdom to select the correct choices. I'm glad this is now over. PHEW!

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Date:2005-09-10 21:25
Subject:Passion Cafe's New Website
Mood: accomplished

Yesterday, Thomas officially pass over Passion Cafe's new website to me. He did a great job for a minimal fee of RM250 and taught me how to update it. So I treated him to dinner and he liked the food. Another future customer.

Check out the new website www.passioncafe.com.my and come check out the new menu!

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Date:2005-07-08 17:07
Subject:Life Update
Mood: busy

It's been a while since I wrote about personal thoughts. I’ve been really busy. Passion Cafe is taking a lot of my non-working time and so is someone else. Not that I'm complaining. In addition, my work in IBM has also increased; currently managing 5 projects concurrently which results in endless meetings from one customer to another.

The 2004 iBridge Camp committee had not met as group for awhile. Since we had 3 of the guys celebrating their birthdays late June and early July, we decided we should take the opportunity to meet again. Chooi Li was assigned to organise the birthday celebration and we started to scheme as to how to make it a surprise. It was tough as it has been a regular thing that we celebrate each other's birthday. We tried our best including me asking Shih Chung to come to work on the day we were gathering... but in the end most weren't surprised. We had an addition... Dave brought his new found love, Grace. We had a missing person... Sarah couldn't make it as her grandfather passed away the day before. With Dave now attached and Hwok Lok and Ee Wei paired up, Elaine is closer to having all her prayers answered. Her prayers is more effective than expected and more so that what everyone perceives. What do I mean? That's for me to know and for all of you to find out. ;)

Shih Chung, Dave & Vincent's Birthday Celebration at Passion Cafe on 21 June 2005

Tuesday that just past I received an email from Adrian, a old time friend from Singapore. We had always been good friends but have not been in contact lately due to our own busy schedules. He was on the way to KL for 3 nights and was hoping that we could meet up. So I called him and we decided that I will pick him up from the hotel to visit Passion Cafe. It was good that we could catch up. He's still single. A committed Christian and a very nice guy. Anyone interested? I can make the introduction.

Adrian & me taken with Passion Cafe Bar in the back

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Date:2005-07-06 21:03
Subject:Passion Cafe Set Meals
Mood: good

Passion Cafe now serves special set meals every two days. The items are as follows:

Mon & Tue
Mango Chicken (Served with White Rice & Drink) RM7.50
Hearty Tomato Pasta (Served with Pasta of the Day & Drink) RM6.50

Mango Chicken

Wed & Thu
Kong Poh Chicken / Fish (Served with White Rice & Drink) RM7.50
Spicy Burger Stack (Served with Fries & Drink) RM6.50

Fri & Sat
Dory in Sweet & Sour Thai (Served with White Rice & Drink) RM7.50
Passion Pocket (Served with Fries & Drink) RM6.50

They are my chef's special creations and they are very nice. My personal favourites are Mango Chicken, Kong Poh Chicken, Spicy Burger Stack and Passion Pocket. Yum yum! I know I may sound biased since I'm the owner but they are really nice.

For those who have not visited Passion Cafe, our address is 15-1 Jalan PJU 8/5A, Damansara Perdana, 47820 PJ. Our opening hours are: Mon-Thu: 11.30am to 9.30pm, Fri& Sat: 11:30 to midnight.

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Date:2005-05-13 12:11
Subject:Passion Cafe Official Opening Ceremony
Mood: excited

Everyone is invited. Do come and share the excitement.

Official Opening Invitation

Check out http://www.geocitites.com/mypassioncafe

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Date:2005-04-29 02:09
Subject:Passion Cafe - Dream Coming True
Mood: grateful

Passion Cafe opens it's doors to customers on Wednesday, 27 April 2005. The first day was a little confusing and stressful as everyone is trying to find their place and understand their responsibilities. I think I was quite demanding on myself and my staff, which includes my mum and my friends. Since my chef is only coming in on 1 May, I decided not to stress my mum so its serving limited menu for now.

First day was mainly friends with one group walk-in customer which my Manager, Lee Horng managed to convinced them to come. A few groups came in and decided not to stay due to the limited menu. Hopefully they will come again when I have more items. Larrisa and her cousin and friend was the first customer. It was nice of her to drop by. Then Kelvin, Kien, Pat and Cheryl came as well. In the afternoon, my landlord decided to drop by for a cup of tea and sandwiches. In the evening, Irene came by for dinner.

Second day was rather slow. One walk-in customer for late lunch. Landlord came again for coffee and sandwiches. He's trying to give me as much support as possible. Nice guy. At night Irene came by again. Then Siew Lim drop by to bring me the fire-extinguishers for the cafe.

Hopefully more people will drop by on Friday and Saturday.

God has been good. It's amazing how He provided staff and suppliers. Of all the staff I have now, all came via recommendation. Those who responded to advertisements I put up didn't work out. The latest one was the kitchen helper. One week before opening, I was having supper with fellow RPBC classmates and one of them was asking another about rental of a cheap apartment for a hearing-impaired couple. She happen to mention that the wife is looking for a job and I asked if she was willing to work for me. It turned out that she was willing. At first, I was afraid of communication problems but interestingly, somehow we all could communicate with her and vice-versa. Of course, not extended conversation, but sufficient to give her instructions and share some laughter.

As for suppliers, I was still fretting about sachet sugar and napkins one day before opening. Somehow God provided. T-shirts for uniform only came in on the day of opening itself! Talk about timing. Of course there were also some hickups. Both the beef and turkey ham suppliers were 3 hours late so we couldn't serve pasta and turkey sandwich for lunch. They eventually came in. Also, I ordered some glasses from one of the supplier who took the effort to bring it personally to me. After that I discovered that they were too tall so I had to return them. Amazingly the supplier was willing to take it back to exchange other things for me. Such grace.

I also want to thank God especially for two friends who were willing to help me tie through this period when I'm still looking for more permanent staff. Both Vincent Cheng and Shih Chung has been God's providence to save me from insanity. They were supportive, both in terms of helping out at the cafe, and as friends. They helped me keep from getting hysterical and help me organize my thoughts and the cafe too... :) A tribute to them.

Yet, I must confess that despite all of God's providence, I am still stressed and anxious and concerned. Still many things to settle, especially logistics and publicity. Still have staff issues to settle. Still looking for permanent waiters and assistant manager. I pray that God will provide them soon.

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Date:2005-04-17 02:10
Subject:What will you do?
Mood: confused

Yesterday, after YAF combined meeting, as my friends and I were driving to our dinner destination, we noticed a man lying on the curb with his head jutting out to the traffic lane. I was driving and my friends said that he seems to be bleeding around his head area. The position that he was in was extreme precarious as a car which may not have notice him could have just run over his head.

I was at a lost as to what to do. Should I stop? I was in the lane where by the time I could filter to the side, it was rather far ahead. We all noticed that nobody was stopping to help, including us. Even those people who have stopped around the area did not seem to notice him or bothered to help. I was asking my friends if we should stop. No one answered my question. So I suggested that we call the emergency line. It took my friend 5 minutes to explain the situation to the operator and we wonder if they will actually respond.

I kept wondering if I should have stopped to help, especially since I'm not alone and was not in any major risk. I felt confused and guilty for not doing more than just making the phone call. Part of me wish that someone else had stop so that I don't have to feel that I should. My friends who were with me in the car commented that people might not even care about that person, that this man was not significant to everyone else. Yet I know that God loves this person as much as He loves my friends and me. Why then do we place less value on someone whom seem to be outcast of the society.

What would others have done? What would Jesus have done? What would you have done?

I pray that if I have not done the right thing, God help me to do the right thing next time and forgive me for being indifferent. I was to love as He loves.

"I want to care for others like Jesus cares for me..."

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Date:2005-04-14 14:59
Subject:Passions of Starting Passion Cafe
Mood: anxious

It's been more than 1 month since I got the location for the cafe. With it's opening around the corner, I've been getting a little anxious. There's still so many things to be done yet I am not sure how to get them done.

There has been exciting moments during the planning and execution of starting Passion Cafe. There has also been difficult and stressful times. It's exciting to see how God open doors and provide according to my needs in His timing. It has also been difficult for me to juggle both my job in IBM and my starting this cafe. There's just so many things to do and 24 hours a day.

There are moments I am tempted to worry too much. I had to remind myself that I must not doubt that God has directed me so clearly. There are times that even friends whom I seek support from send discouraging signals. I know they meant well but it still hurts. And there are times I get encouragement from people whom I least expect it.

As I have mentioned in my previous entry, I am not one who take major risk, especially when it involves so much money. At times, when I look at the total sum I'm spending I wonder if I made the right decision. It's a lot of money. Even now I am not sure if I have enough to pay all my suppliers. Based on my calculations, it's not enough. I'm praying that God will somehow provide. I did not feel the peace of taking up a bank loan and my mum discouraged me to do so. So I didn't but I'm short now. Significantly short. I wonder where the money will come from. Then there's staff issues. I still need at least a kitchen helper and a waitress. I worry for my mum who's helping me in the kitchen. I am worried that she can't cope and she'll get too tired.

Yet I cannot deny that God's hand is in this venture. There are so many times that He has shown me favour. Some of the suppliers that I have met are really nice people. One of my favourite is the founder and boss of Hoca, a company providing Gourmet coffee. I'm getting coffee machine and coffee beans from him. He's been very helpful and his 20 years of experience in coffee and food business comes in handy. Two Saturdays ago, he invited me to one of his retail outlets to teach me how to taste coffee. I invited a friend along. We tasted 6 to 8 types of coffee and had very nice cheese cake made by a side operation managed by his wife. He spent 3 hours with us. I am not sure how many customers get that kind of attention! Since I'm a newbie in F&B business opening a tiny cafe, I consider it God's favour.

Many people ask me how I manage it, having to work in IBM and work on this at the same time. My answer is always, "in God's strength". From man's perspective, it's not easy. But in God's eyes, this is "sub sub sui" (no big deal). So I continue to trust in Him day after day, depending on Him for guidance. It's not easy. But going against God's will is more difficult and will cause more pain. This is for His glory. His name is at stake, NOT mine (which I have to remind myself all the time.)

Come share God's venture with me. Operation will start 27 April. Official opening will be on 2 May. Look out for details.

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Date:2005-04-05 18:18
Subject:Passion Cafe - Dream Update No. 5
Mood: thankful

I finally decided on my logo. It was still Alex you gave me the font type. Thanks Alex, for coming through in the end.

Passion Cafe Logo

I've also confirmed my key staff. I was losing sleep over the chef for a while. Had food tasting with a malay chef last Saturday. I wasn't completely convinced that he's the right one so I prayed that God will cause the food he cooked to be very good if he's the right one. The verdict: NEGATIVE! I started to stress again. The other option I had was this girl whom Kien introduced. She attends FGA as well but she needs 1 month's notice. Since I've decided to start operation on 27 April (staff starts on 26 April for a day of training), she couldn't join me in time. Then I decided maybe I can just serve an Introductory menu first which minimal items before she joins us. I could do the cooking myself. So I called her and met up with her yesterday. Went to taste her cooking during lunch time and I was very satisfied.

She said that she needs time to decide and will let me know by this Friday. Today, she called me today and told me she wants to work for me! Praise God! Now I can sleep in peace.

There are many things that God has provided for the cafe. Some I can't write in public websites. But it shows God's hand upon this project. It amazes me how things work out and the favour shown to me by various suppliers. As a new venture, they had not reason to trust that I can fulfill my commitment but they allowed me to pay lower deposits and some credit terms!

Currently, I've confirmed the Manager (Lee Horng), Asst. Manager (Vincent Cheng), Chef (Chris) and Asst. Chef (my dearest mum). I still need another kitchen helper and a full-time waitress. Originally, a retiree wanted to help me in the kitchen but when I called her again today, she said that she's not interested due to incompatible working hours and low pay. It's ok. God has provided so far, I'm sure He will provide the people I need.

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