Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Chinese New Year! May the Horse Be With You!

May the Horse be with you!

Wishing everyone a vigorous, prosperous and hilarious lunar 2014. May the Horse be with you!
Haha, sorry, couldn't resist. I'm such a Star Wars junkie.

Wonder what the year of the horse has in store for you? Here's some entertainment reading...

http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2014/2014Zodiac.htm

http://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/joey-yap-s-horoscope-predictions-for-2014-045827159.html

http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/2014-the-year-of-the-wooden-horse-1.471432

Meanwhile, enjoy feasting and reconnecting with friends and family. Stay healthy and happy!
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chinese New Year Lo-Hei at Jiang-Nan Chun, Four Seasons Singapore

The towering yusheng is sprinkled with gold dusted rice crispies
Is everyone in the mood for CNY yet? The Year of the Horse is arriving in a matter of hours!

For the lunar new year, Jiang-Nan Chun at Four Seasons Singapore sees Chinese Chef Alan Chan rolling out auspicious and well-crafted menus that start with yusheng. Highlights include steamed "soon hock" fish with soy sauce; braised bean curd with dried oyster, black moss and "bai ling" mushrooms; braised pork trotter with six-head abalone; and stir-fried glutinous rice with preserved sausages.

The yusheng looks extra festive with gold dusted rice puffs decorating the tower. It's also laid out in the 吉 ("ji") character for luck.


Manager Mr Ng pours the various sauces onto the yusheng
Restaurant manager Mr Ng Chong Kim is wonderfully well-versed in Cantonese, Mandarin and English. I always like hearing him so fluently describe the dishes, and also lead the yusheng auspicious wishes. Here he is pouring all the requisite sauces including a pineapple paste which adds tangy interest.

Lo-hei banquet celebrations started 8 January and will continue til 14 February. Special celebration menu packages start from S$1,088++ (lunch) and S$1,208++ (dinner) per table of 10 persons.

Reunion dinners start from S$108++ per person for a six course menu (including a vegetarian option). The eight course menu runs from S$988++ per table of ten persons.


Lobster, bird's nest and salmon
Premium toppings like lobster, bird's nest, and the very popular raw salmon.


Auspiciously laid out in the "ji" character for luck
The yusheng with all ingredients assembled, ready for tossing. The higher you toss, the better your luck!


Aftermath - a beautiful mess
Oh yes, we made a beautiful mess! If this were my home, I'd pick every last bit off the table.


It's tasty too, this decadent yusheng
It not only looks good, but tastes good as well!



Duo of Dim Sum: Steamed Scallop Dumpling with Shrimp and Diced Vegetables; Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Black Moss and Dried Oyster
Duo of Dim Sum: Steamed Scallop Dumpling with Shrimp and Diced Vegetables; Deep-fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Black Moss and Dried Oyster

These are two new dim sum creations. One steamed and one fried. Both exquisitely done. The scallop dumpling is particularly succulent and sweet.



Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Fermented Black Garlic and Fish Skin
Double-boiled Chicken Soup with Fermented Black Garlic and Fish Skin
Soups at Jiang-Nan Chun always feel doubly fortifying. This chicken soup is pretty unusual with black garlic giving it a darker hue, and a thick rectangular cut of softly gelatinous fish skin. Imagine the collagen in that!


Steamed Cod Fillet with Ginseng and Cordycep Flowers
Steamed Cod Fillet with Ginseng and Cordycep Flowers
This beautifully done cod is perched atop a thin layer of steamed egg white and ladled over with divine sauce. The ginseng is nicely subtle and the fried ginger adds fragrance.


Fried Duo of Grain Rice with Assorted Seafood
Fried Duo of Grain Rice with Assorted Seafood
The rice grains are a mix of white rice and brown rice, so it's a more nutritious carbohydrate mix. It's studded with crispy strips of fried scallop, sliced baby asparagus and juicy prawn.



Double-boiled Chinese Pear with Ginseng
Double-boiled Chinese Pear with Ginseng
A lovely and light dessert that is perfect on the palate. This dessert isn't just delicious, but helps to nourish the system as well.

Chef Chan's execution of classic dishes given an innovative twist also include roast chicken with truffles, braised egg noodles with Kurobuta pork belly in XO chili sauce, and steamed Boston lobster with minced garlic. You can see some dishes that he has done in the past in this previous post.

To ring in the new year, there will be a pair of lion dancers greeting guests and sparking good fortune in the air at noon on 31 January. Come join in the festivities!


JIANG-NAN CHUN
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Second floor
190 Orchard Road
Singapore 248646
Tel: +65 6831-7220
Open daily

For the lunar new year period (until 14 Feb 2014), dining hours are:
Mon-Sat
Lunch 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sunday
Lunch (first seating) 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Lunch (second seating) 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Dinner 6:00 pm - 10 pm



Many thanks to Four Seasons Singapore for the invite.
All photos taken with the Canon 100D kindly loaned by Canon Singapore.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

SunnyHills Pineapple Cakes: Japanese Edition with Echire Butter

Sunnyhills Pineapple Cakes
SunnyHills pineapple cakes are still my favourite when it comes to pineapple tarts or pastries. These fragrant golden nuggets are made with quality ingredients you can taste - flour from Japan, butter from New Zealand, and pineapples from Nantou, Taiwan. They never leave a heavy feeling afterwards.

Now there is a limited Japanese edition using the most premium of butters - Echire butter! I got to try an early production version and found the crust is lighter, more delicate and crumbly. It's also more expensive, of course, at S$32 per box of 10 (original is S$25 per box of 10).

I kinda like the original one, as I'm partial to the more dense and moist texture. But the Echire butter ones are flying off the shelves! They get sold out same day they arrive instore! Gosh, maybe makes sense to call and reserve if you want any!

I also like that the cakes are individually wrapped, and come in nice gift boxes. But you don't have to wait for Chinese New Year to enjoy the SunnyHills cakes. They are available all year round.

Check them out at their lovely shop (see photos in previous post here) at Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade #03-05, 328 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 189673. Tel: +65 8522-9605 
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Giveaway: Thye Moh Chan Pineapple Pastries for Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year is almost here! Have you bought all your favourite snacks and tidbits? I have learned over the years that I cannot buy them too early, simply because we will have scarfed them well before reunion dinner.

For this festive season, Thye Moh Chan has rolled out pineapple pastries in two new flavours - walnut and longan. I have not tried these pineapple pastries, but they supposedly melt in your mouth. One box of eight pieces (S$22.80) contains four original, two walnut and two longan pastries.

Thye Moh Chan is famous for their signature handcrafted tau sar piah with the flaky skin. This year they will introduce prune and longan flavours too. Look out also for their egg rolls, peanut candies and assorted crisps. Find them at Parkway Parade, Chinatown Point and Vivocity.

They are kindly giving away three boxes of the pineapple pastries, so I'm holding a Facebook giveaway.

Here's how to win one:

1. Share this Facebook post with the words, "Huat ah!"
2. Make sure that link is public, so I can see it and include you in the lucky draw.
3. Be on standby to give me your mailing address when I contact you via Facebook.

Sharing deadline: noon, 26 Jan 2014. I will pick three winners on Sunday and contact you immediately then, as CNY is fast approaching!

Happy feasting!
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Western Menus!



It's Chinese New Year! Let's break tradition. If you're looking to celebrate with a difference, here are five hot Western eateries that offer CNY dishes and treats.

Full details in my story on Yahoo! Makanation, and Makansutra



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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Giveaway: Horrible Histories "Awful Egyptians" Live Show Tickets From Discovery Kids



How many of you love the Horrible Histories series? It's a gripping way to learn history for sure, in all its unvarnished glory. Now it's coming to you in a live show format, packed to the brim with fascinating facts, silly songs, popular pastiches and gruesome gags for kids and adults alike. It promises to be an energetic, surprising and unconventional take on history’s most unpleasant yet funniest moments.

I have three sets of four Category 1 tickets (best seats in the house!) worth S$248 (for four tickets) to the Horrible Histories "Awful Egyptians" show on 8 Feb 2014 at DBS Arts Centre.

Show description:

From the fascinating Pharaohs to the power of the pyramids, join the HORRIBLE HISTORIES team on a sixty minute adventure in awful Egypt! Discover the foul facts of death and decay with the meanest mummies in town - find out why they made their mummies and how they did it! Learn how you enter through the Gates of the Afterlife and what you need to avoid being eaten by Apophis!

The tickets are courtesy of Discovery Kids which is the official partner of KidsFest 2014.

How to enter:
1. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter.
2. Email me your shared link (make sure it's public) with the title "Horrible Histories Giveaway" to camemberu@gmail.com
3. Be on standby to send me your mailing address for the tickets, if I contact you as a winner. Winners will be drawn by random selection, so everyone has a fair chance.

Contest deadline: noon, Sat 25 Jan 2014.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Montigo Resorts, Nongsa - Five-Star Luxury Villas and Spa on Batam Island, Indonesia


What a happy and chirpy sight that awaits you at Montigo Resorts, Nongsa!

Meet TILO, the adorable chick prince who is the mascot at this luxury all-villa resort. Montigo Resorts is the first five-star stay on Batam, Indonesia. It's just 30 minutes away from Singapore by ferry.

I know the year has just started but I feel like going on holiday already!

Yes, some of you may be looking for a tranquil escape for the lunar new year, and this is one self-contained place with everything you need and more. Oh and they have a special offer going on for the festive season too.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Giveaway: Norwegian Salmon Majestic Harvest Yu Sheng by Tung Lok, for Lo-Hei at Home!


If you're planning a reunion dinner at home, and want to include a lo-hei element, Tung Lok has a special takeaway Norwegian Salmon Majestic Harvest Yu Sheng (pictured above). Each box (worth S$78 before GST) can cater for 10 persons.

It's a medley of fresh vegetables, mushrooms, yam and sweet potato shreds and most importantly, Norwegian salmon, which gives you a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids (helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases), proteins, essential amino acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine and selenium.

Most (88%, so huat!) of the salmon we get in Singapore is from Norway, where salmon thrives in the pristine, clear and cold waters. There are also strict regulations to ensure holistic and sustainable practices in the aquaculture industry.

The vibrant colour of salmon also adds to the festive look. Drizzle the special plum sauce on this, and you'll be ready to toss to good health and bountiful fortune!

I have five of these yusheng packs to give away.

Here's how to win one:


1. Share this post on your Facebook with the message "I love Norwegian salmon!"

2. Email me the shared FB link(s) at camemberu@gmail.com with the title "Norwegian Salmon Yusheng Giveaway", so I can contact you if chosen.

3. Be on standby to give me your mailing address when I contact you, as we will need to mail you a redemption card to collect the item at one of the centrally located Tung Lok restaurants (where the yusheng can be kept chilled and fresh).

Contest ends noon on Saturday, 18 Jan 2014. Winners will be chosen by random draw, so everyone has a fair chance. I'll also be posting this on the Facebook fan page, so you can share that too, for a bonus chance at winning (just make sure the post is public, so that I can see it).

Good luck and happy tossing!


Many thanks to the Norwegian Seafood Council for sponsoring the prizes.


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Monday, January 13, 2014

Li Bai's Chinese New Year 2014 Set Menu Dishes, And Turbot Fish Yusheng for Lo-Hei

Turbot Fish “Yu Sheng Loh Hei” Platter ($68/$128, available for takeaway)
Brace yourself. The lo-hei marathon is coming.

Many Chinese restaurants have already started their Chinese new year (CNY) menus, and it's likely some of you have even started tossing for prosperity. But one too many and you might start dreading yet another plate of the sweetish shredded salad.

So I like to keep an eye out for more interesting yusheng options, and this one at Li Bai, Sheraton Towers Singapore, certainly stands out.

The Turbot Fish “Yu Sheng Lo Hei” Platter (S$68 or S$128, available for takeaway) features an unusual fish not often seen for lo hei purposes. Yes, turbot.


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Friday, January 10, 2014

Hakata Ikkousha Ramen Opens First Standalone Shop in Singapore

Kousuke Yoshimura, founder of Hakata Ikkousha, personally cooked the ramen for us

Hakata Ikkousha has opened its first standalone shop in Singapore at Tanjong Pagar Plaza. Most people may have heard of Ikkousha or tasted it at Ramen Champion (it won the Ultimate Ramen Champion in 2011 and 2012). But this shop is a little different - extra attention is given to ensure that the stock here is thicker than over at the Ramen Champion franchise.

The young founder of Ikkousha, Kousuke Yoshimura, came personally from Fukuoka, Japan, to officiate at the launch and to prepare ramen for us. It was quite an honour to meet the taisho (big boss) himself. He's also got a small crew of Japanese staff to help lead the local team here, so that's comforting. General Manager Kentaro Tanaka heads the Singapore operations. Store manager Hisashi Inoue speaks very decent English, so say hello to him!


The standalone shop is small but cosy
The new shop opened last December, but I thought I'd give it some time to find its footing before blogging about it. The small little space is cosy, but brightly decorated with bold hues of red against dark wood panels and furniture. It probably seats about 30 pax.

I have not been to Ramen Champion (somehow I prefer to visit individual ramen shops rather than a group of stalls), so this is my first time trying Ikkousha's famous Hakata style ramen. They focus solely on varieties of tonkotsu, the pork bone broth that is so popular with many Singaporeans.



Ikkousha's God Fire ramen
God Fire Ramen (S$13.50) is probably the hot favourite with locals. I like this one best too, and the serving bowl itself is awesome - I want bowls at home that proclaim "God Fire" too! You can choose from four levels of spiciness for the broth. They advise that no.2 is already quite spicy.


Ikkousha Tonkotsu Ramen
Tonkotsu Ramen (S$12) is their basic tonkotsu broth, but it's truly full-bodied. It's been simmered a long time to achieve this creamy consistency. The chashu at Ikkousha is deliberately thinly sliced, so you can taste the richness of the broth. The meat is also quite lean, compared to other chains.


Ikkousha Red Tonkotsu Ramen
Red Tonkotsu Ramen (S$13.50) looks even more fiery as the God Fire, but it's not spicy at all. Ikkousha's noodles are (true to Hakata tradition) white, springy and straight. They pick up the flavours of the broth well.



Ikkousha Black Tonkotsu Ramen
Black Tonkotsu Ramen (S$13.50) is darkly rich potion which will please garlic fans. I love garlic, but this was very filling.



Ikkousha Shio Tonkotsu Ramen
Shio Tonkotsu Ramen ($11.50) is pleasantly light on the palate. It's not as "porky" or rich as the basic tonkotsu. This salt-flavoured broth can be enhanced by the special ramen sauce available at the tables, if you prefer something more potent.



Founder of Hakata Ikkousha, Kousuke Yoshimura, shows us how he prepares the ramen
Here is Yoshimura-san showing us how he prepares the noodles, which he has specially designed to go with the broths. Form, texture and colour are critical, and the natural flavour of the wheat comes through to complement the pork bone soup base.



The six flavours of tonkotsu at Ikkousha Hakata Ramen Singapore
There are actually six flavours of tonkotsu altogether at Ikkousha - the last one is Miso Tonkotsu Ramen, which was not ready yet at the time of tasting.

Choose your broth variety, noodle texture, broth intensity, oil preference and then your toppings - flavoured egg S$2, spring onions S$1, bean sprouts S$1, black fungus S$1, bamboo shoots S$1.50, seaweed S$1.50, chashu (3pcs) S$4 and a special combination (S$4.50) of chashu (2pcs), flavoured egg and seaweed. Extra half portion of noodles is S$1.



Tori kara age - deep-fried chicken
There are also side dishes like fried chicken (S$5 for 3pcs). These are big, hot and juicy. Served with a flavoured salt dip, these crisp nuggets will add some tasty protein to your meal.


Gyoza side dish
There's also gyoza (S$5.50 for 5pcs; S$10 for 10pcs), the common accompaniment to ramen. The skin is thin and just lightly charred at the bottom. Pretty decent, although still not the best I've tried (oh, where has Ken's Noodle shop gone?)



Ikkousha has opened its first standalone shop in Singapore
Ikkousha's motto is to bring happiness to all people. With their smooth and creamy tonkotsu, they'll certainly be making happy bellies. I've yet to try Ikkousha in Japan (darn, missed them while I was in Fukuoka both times), but what we have here are pretty hearty bowls to satisfy tonkotsu cravings. I also suspect this standalone shop is much better than the Ramen Champion stalls, but I'll have to visit those one day to confirm.


IKKOUSHA SINGAPORE
Block 7, #01-104
Tanjong Pagar Plaza
Singapore 081007
Tel +65 6538-1880
Open daily
Mon - Sat: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm
Sun: 11:30 am - 9:00 pm


Many thanks to the lovely team at Ikkousha who hosted us. 
Photos taken with the Canon 5DMKIII kindly loaned by Canon Singapore.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Yan Ting Chinese New Year Menu Highlights Featuring Dishes from Chef Mak Kip Fu



Yan Ting at St Regis Singapore has its faithful regulars. This is where Chinese New Year (CNY) dinners for the following year are booked as soon as the ones for the current year has been had.

This year with Chef Mak Kip Fu (from the legendary three-Michelin starred Lung King Heen of Four Seasons Hong Kong, and two-Michelin starred Zi Yat Heen of Four Seasons Macau) at the helm, I'm betting the dinners are going to be booked out even earlier.

From now til 14 Feb 2014, Yan Ting's laying out (auspiciously) eight festive set menus for 2014, but there are also a la carte options should you prefer to pick your own favourites. Here are some highlights from various menus (along with a la carte prices where available).

Prosperity Yu Sheng with Norwegian Salmon (above) – S$88 (Large) and S$68 (Medium)
Salmon is a popular raw fish choice, and has Omega-3 oils to boot. The rest of the salad comprise fresh and finely shaved vegetable ingredients.


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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CP Snax Party Trays!

CP Snax Party Tray - Cocktail Shrimp
Last month, I discovered just how addictive CP Snax can be.

CP Foods is well known for their convenience foods (I blogged their fish/shrimp items as well as their chicken items some years back), but now they have little kiosks, called Snax! by CP, selling comfort fried snacks to eat on the go. Coming in handy for the festive season are the large party trays serving 10 pax. Here are the three varieties available.

The Cocktail Shrimp (above) are like giant versions of crispy, chewy sakura ebi. They are a little on the salty side, but would go so well with beer and drinks, I imagine.


CP Snax Party Tray - Chicky Chix with soy garlic and hot & spicy sauces
Chicky Chix with soy garlic and hot & spicy sauces
These are really awesome, and are fabulous eaten freshly prepared (don't let them steam too long in the covered tray). Yes, again, they are a little salty but you can't stop reaching for more. Honestly, they didn't need the sauces. Oh the spicy one really does bite, by the way!



CP Snax Party Tray - Chicken Gyoza and Seaweed Cuttlefish Ball
Chicken Gyoza and Seaweed Cuttlefish Ball
These were more muted in flavour. The gyoza can be very filling, and the cuttlefish balls are given a nice twist with seaweed. Served with mayo and sweet chili sauce.


Snax sharing got us a photo pass!
A little unrelated bonus came out of these party trays. On our way home, we stopped by Suntec City to let the girls have a look at the Minions Invasion. We shared the food with absolute strangers (we had little kids coming up to ask us what snacks these were). And one of the moms who had to leave gave us her pass for photo-taking with the Minion characters.

Anyway, the party trays seem really useful as add-on items for any home or office party, especially if you want to avoid frying stuff yourself (and cleaning up afterwards).

Party tray prices:
1 party tray for $24.90
2 party trays for $39.90

You can find CP Snax at B2 Takashimaya Food Hall and B1-K03 of JEM Shopping Mall.
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Bochinche: A Touch of Argentina in Your Weekend Brunch


Just how do Argentinians do brunch? There are misconceptions about this far flung cuisine. Chef Diego Jacquet of Bochinche clarifies how Argentinian food isn't about chunks of meats. Here, he's come up with modern brunch selections with Argentinian influences.

I really like the food there. It's quality produce done with care, and presented in a wonderfully relaxed environment. Free range eggs with deep orange yolks, oh so pretty. Each one perfectly runny. Spicy housemade chorizo, breads and butter. Gorgeous grass-fed beef from Argentina, no less.

Full story and photos on Yahoo and Makansutra:

http://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/argentina-brunch-071744756.html

http://www.makansutra.com/stories/3/1056/ArgentinaInYourBrunch


Here are a few more photos I didn't add to the stories:

Orange and Grapefruit Juice never tasted so good!
Breakfast in Argentina is often served with a juice. You have to try their Orange and Grapefruit (S$9). It tastes so good, this was half gone before I remembered to take a shot.


Sweet Fernando - made with fernet branca, Argentina's national liquer, egg white, Manuka honey, and lime
But what is Argentina's national drink? It's fernet branca - this dark, complex and bitter potion tasting strongly of liquorice. Not surprisingly, it's a style of amaro made from 40 herbs, roots and spices. You'll feel like you're sipping Chinese herbal medicine or tincture. An acquired taste to say the least.

You can try it in Bochinche's cocktail Sweet Fernando (S$14, above) which fortunately has Manuka honey and lime to temper the liquer's herby notes.


Bloody Mary with Chimichurri Spices
Their Bloody Mary is interesting too. Comes with a small jar of chimichurri sauce that you can pour in the main drink (you can adjust how spicy you like it). Close the lid on the big jar and give it a shake.


Outdoor balcony at Bochinche
The restaurant seats about 100, and has areas carved out for different purposes. There's an outdoor balcony, a bar (they also serve Argentinian wines), the open kitchen with bar counter seats where you can take in the action, and other tables for groups at the other end. You can choose a different place each time for varying experiences.

For now, it's still fairly chill and quiet, although some nights are close to packed, probably living up to its name which seems to mean "uproar" in Argentina. I hope it doesn't get too crowded. Especially for brunch!

BOCHINCHE
22 Martin Road #02-01
Singapore
Tel: +65 6235-4990
Open daily
Tue - Thu: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm - 12:00 am
Fri: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm - 1:00 am
Sat: 11:00 am - 1:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Brunch on Sat & Sun, 11am to 3.30pm.
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014! New Year and New Look for the Blog!



Happy new year to everyone!

It's high time the blog got a fresh new look. I'm also moving to the white background for a change. Well, darker backgrounds do look better as a photo showcase. But after seven years, I am itching to change it.



So goodbye to old things that were good while they lasted. Here's to a year of embracing change! I've been too guilty of being stuck in old ruts, and not having the guts to shake things up, but sometimes turmoil is good for you. Keep your eye on the reward, not the pain.

Meanwhile, speaking of pain, please be patient with me while I do my code-diving to tidy up the template.

All the best for 2014; may the new year bring joy, wisdom, abundance and every fulfilment your heart desires.


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