Owning a Cat, as a Self-Professed Dog Lover

In Malaysia, cats are pests. They wander the streets, get underfoot at the mamak or chinese restaurants, and are generally regarded as irritating creatures (by me, anyway). I was a die-hard dog lover. I was terrified of large dogs (phobias are irrational, alright?) but would go running to any dog with paws smaller than my hand. When cats furled their fuzzy tails around my legs at a mamak stall, I would recoil. I wasn’t past climbing onto the table to get away from the damned things!

Here I am, living in New Zealand, and a proud cat owner. Not only do I own a cat, despite being extremely allergic, but I absolutely adore her. I won’t lie – the first month was brutal. I was permanently drugged up on anti-histamines, and even then I would wake up with my eyes swollen shut and my skin itching and my nose running. We banned her from our bedroom, in the hopes that I would have a safe haven away from her sniffle inducing fur while I slept. It didn’t help. I was miserable. On top of all of this, she was (and still is, now that I think about it) in her hyper kitten phase. Which meant scratches. Lots, and lots, and lots of scratches. Along with a few bites. For a normal person, this would mean a scratch and maybe even some blood. For me, it meant scratches, a bit of blood, and instantly welted up skin that itched like crazy.

Like I said, brutal.

But then the symptoms started receding. My eyes would be slightly less swollen each day, and the scratches wouldn’t stay welted up for as long. Eventually I stopped waking up feeling like death every morning. We started letting her back into our bedroom, and I began nuzzling my face into her fur without fear. Now she sleeps with us at night (on me. All night. If I roll over, she hops off the bed and watches me, waiting until I stop moving again and then climbs right back onto me.) and it’s all a good time.

And I love her so, so much.

She has busted every preconception I ever had about cats. She isn’t standoffish, or arrogant, or anti-cuddles. In fact, she often comes up to me and meows and meows until I pick her up and give her a cuddle. She is not clean and tidy, the way people seems to insist all the time – she leaves paw marks everywhere and drags in so many leaves and bugs and has destroyed so many dishes. She’s warm and comforting, often following me around and watching me while I cook, or internet. She curls up somewhere on my person every chance she gets, and answers to her name (I think it’s the way I wriggle the treats packet at her every time I do, but still).

Every time I tell a dog lover that I own a cat, I get the inevitable ‘Oh, I’m more of a dog person, myself,’ and it confuses me so much that they don’t see how you can be both. I am both.  I love me a good puppy cuddle. I also adore cats. Look at me, multitasking like some kind of Dr. Doolittle.

So yeah. Cats. Great things. Get one. You won’t regret it. In fact, in a few months you’ll look back at today and wonder how you ever lived without your furry little bestie. I cannot imagine my life without Eevee now, and she completes our little family. ❤

 

 

The Student’s Survival Cookbook – Adaptable Fried Rice

Say you’re hungry, and you feel like you have the most mismatched ingredients in your fridge. Sausages and some wilting lettuce, for example.

Solution: chuck it into rice and you have a yummy, balanced, filling meal.

This recipe is so adaptable it’s not even a recipe. It can be made with absolutely anything and everything… or nothing at all.

Pick any number of these things and put them into the pan, and you’re good to go!

Chicken
Frozen prawns
Frozen peas/brocolli/beans/corn
Beef Strips
Bacon
Eggs
Frankfurters
Sausages (you can take the meat out and turn them into meatballs!)
Carrots
Baby Spinach
Chicken nuggets, cut into strips

Or all of the above, if you’re feeling really wild. Or really hungry.

The trick to getting fried rice is knowing the order in which you should put in the ingredients. Pro tip: Meats take longer to cook than veges, and the rice always goes in at the very end (because it’s already cooked, it can’t be in the pan too long or  it’ll dry up and harden).

For seasoning, it can be as complex or as simple as your pantry dictates. It can consist of some soy sauce and pepper if you’re really lacking options.

Another useful thing is to get a couple of fried rice seasoning packets at the supermarket – super cheap and handy to have when you’re in a bind, use it in your stir fries if you want!

I like to put Thai Tom-Yum paste in my fried rice. You can get the packets at Asian supermarkets. It’s tangy and so so yum in fried rice. Mum used to make Tom-Yum fried rice all the time when I was  younger and it used to be one of my favourite meals.

I hope this was handy! Go forth and fry that rice, young grasshopper.

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The Student’s Survival Cookbook – Mac and Cheese

Hello! I know I’ve been absent for a while now. This semester at University I took my very first Creative Writing paper, and it required a lot of creative energy. All the creative energy I had, actually. I kept a Writer’s Workbook for all my creative ponderings and work and in my spare time I worked on my final submissions for Portfolio. But now the semester is drawing to a close. My portfolio has been handed in and I am spending every day at home (attempting) to focus on my study for the final two exams of the year.

Besides the busy uni schedule, I’ve also moved – I am now living in a cosy, cute little two bedroom place with Campbell. Living with my other half is so much simpler than I ever imagined it could be. The transition has been as natural as breathing. It’s like living by myself. Because Campbell usually feels (virtually, literally) like my other half. The one thing that has changed though, is cooking. When I cooked for myself I would sometimes take the lazy route and have nutella sandwiches for dinner. Now, with another human in the house  with me, I tend  to put a bit more effort into what I whip up – especially since living on our own means bills have gone up quite a bit, leaving very little for buying takeout. Campbell also has a full time job, which means he works over 40 hours a week and I’m not about to expect him to come home and cook. Meanwhile I have been on study break and so I have all day to experiment with our slow cooker or whip up cool new dishes in our cute tiny oven.

So that is what really made me decide to start this new segment on my blog. I have been living away from my mummy’s delicious home cooking for two and a half years now. In that time I have made mistakes, experimented and discovered great recipes on my own – all while trying to stick to a student budget. I’ve decided to share these on my blog, in the hopes that it helps some other homesick student discover the secret to whipping up their own versions of mum’s cooking. DSC_0200

To start us off, here is the most basic of comfort foods: Mac and Cheese! I’ll show you how to make it from scratch (making a roux is actually very easy if you don’t follow the rules) and utilize whatever random food you may have lying around in the fridge/freezer/pantry.

In this recipe I used chicken, mushroom and frozen beans. But by all means you can improvise with whatever you can find. Bacon, frozen peas, carrots, any meat you have in the fridge if you so desire. As long as you have the 4 key ingredients, the rest you can make up as you go along. Worst case scenario, you don’t have anything in the fridge to add. Pop into the dairy and grab a can of tuna! Or just eat it plain with some tabasco sauce – It’ll still fill you right up. 🙂

Ingredients

Bechamel Sauce

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  • Two tbsp butter
  • Two tbsp flour
  • One cup milk
  • One cup cheese, grated

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  • One large chicken breast, cut into small chunks
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • a handful of frozen beans

Method

  1. Cook pasta as per instructions on packet. Pro tip: one cup per person will make just the right amount. Drain pasta and coat with some olive oil while it sits and waits for its sauce to be ready.
  2. Chuck the butter into the saucepan. Keep the heat low.
  3. Pour the milk into a small bowl. Add the flour and stir stir stir until most lumps are gone.
  4. Add the milk/flour to the saucepan with the butter. Stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken.
  5. Add the cheese, again stirring continuously. Timing is pretty important here so please don’t get distracted by Spotify/Facebook notifications until after the bechamel sauce is ready.
  6. Once the cheese has melted and you have a smooth, thick sauce bubbling away merrily in the pot, chuck the pasta in and mix it up nicely, until the pasta is evenly coated with the cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
  8. This step varies with what your chosen filling is. In my case, I added the chicken into an oiled up pan, and once it was sealed (that’s when the chicken is white all over) I added the mushrooms and the beans. Knowing when chicken is cooked is tricky. With some practice you will be able to tell based on the texture and springiness of the meat. But until that day comes, don’t be afraid to just cut one of the bigger chunks of chicken open to make sure it’s white all the way through. Once the chicken is cooked, the mushrooms are chewy and the beans are thawed and hot, chuck that right in with the mac and cheese and mix it all up nicely.
  9. Eat and feel proud, and be sure to tell anyone and everyone that you know how to make Mac and Cheese… from scratch!

Let me know if you do end up trying this! I want to make this a regular segment on my blog, so hit me up with suggestions or ideas. Til next time!

The Waiting Game

With every passing second, the bleakness swelled up until it eventually swallowed her whole. It colonized all hope she had, set up shop in her brain and made her believe there was nothing left to stay for.

The clock on the wall remained monotonous, ticking away her last moments of uncertainty. Her last moments of unawareness. Her craving for both tearing her apart so surely on the inside.

Her eyes kept dragging themselves back to the corridor through which her answer lay. Was it as conflicted as she was, or was it as confident as the threat that it was?

She swallowed and the sound made her wonder if anyone could see the anxiety she felt. Her palms seemed to have permanently developed the thin sheen of sweat she kept trying to wipe away on her jeans.

The clock ticked away, blissfully unaware of the torture it was inflicting on her.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, ti-

“The oncologist will see you now.”

Visiting Napier

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It was over a month ago now, but I’ve decided to blog about my trip to Napier. I haven’t been blogging and it’s not for lack of things happening – I’ve started a new semester of University and have just got a new computer, and will be visiting Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves in a week.

Napier is a beautiful little city. Right by the sea, and with no shortage of cute elderly folks riding their bikes (this may have been a side effect of Art Deco weekend, however), it felt like I was visiting the New Zealand equivalent of Malaysian small town Taiping.

Campbell and I decided to make a trip down for Art Deco weekend, which also happened to coincide with the 6 month mark of our relationship.

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Take it as a good sign that we were smiling in this photo – the bus ride down took 7 hours! I got a fair bit of sleep by putting my legs up on C while he stretched his legs out to utilize the leg rest in front of my seat. It was a win-win situation.
(Until…..)

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Campbell decided to get some shut eye, and chose to use me as a huggy bolster in the process.

When we arrived that night, we were exhausted from the travel and decided to take it easy – his parents were on holiday in the South Island and weren’t due back until the day before we were due to leave, but they’d left us everything we could possibly need to cook/be comfortable.

The next day, we took Taz (the family dog) to the beach!

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Yes, believe it or not, that is a real beach, that actually exists. It’s hands down the most beautiful one I’ve ever been to! It was small but the water was clear and the view picturesque.
10995995_10152849195428264_5322548129210491505_nTaz had a serious thing for digging holes, and dug two very impressive ones at the beach. Here’s one of my favourite photos from the trip, of C and Taz at the beach.

We walked into town for Art Deco the next day, and stopped at Mr D’s for lunch.

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Just to make you a little hungry, here’s a couple of photos of the food we had. 10387317_10152849196293264_4980610142447048099_n 1623483_10152849196223264_6389488103448457816_n

Campbell had the pulled pork and I had the veal.

Everyone in Napier town was dressed up for Art Deco – these people go all out, and I felt like i’d been transported back into the 30’s. All the drop waist skirts, the headbands and swing music!

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Not forgetting the impressive show of antique cars. This one had a cute licence plate!

C’s parents got home on the sunday evening before we were to leave, and to welcome them home, we made a roast chicken for dinner.

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Attempting to roast a chicken for the first time for my boyfriend’s parents (who I hadn’t previously met) was a little risky, but it turned out perfect, thankfully.

On the morning of the day we were leaving, Mandy and Frank took us the the Te Awa vineyard. Trust yours truly to run wild taking photos of everything in sight.

10994225_10152849197123264_771211666126426478_nCampbell, looking gorgeous as usual. I just don’t understand how one person can be so photogenic. What is this sorcery?!

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The gorgeous vineyard. It was the most beautiful day. 🙂

10997379_10152849197608264_346728436314849552_nThe food was very gourmet – there were zucchini flowers and the photo above was the fish.
And then it was time to leave, and we braved a (very bad, very tumultuous, very tiring) seven hour bus ride home, where we feasted on takeout.

Napier is lovely, and I’m so glad I experienced it with C after hearing so much about it for so long. His parents were lovely people, so open and kind. Taz is the cutest, and I feel like I saw a part of C he couldn’t have told me about even if he’d tried – there is so much to learn about a person when you see where/how they grew up.

So I’ll leave you now with a photo of me Campbell took.

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Til next time!

Questions from the 20 year old child

But what does it mean to be an adult?

Is it remembering to pay the power bill, or is it knowing that oil stains wash out better with hot water, but blood stains with cold water?

Are any of us really there yet, with tears in our hearts and a constant longing for escape into childish endeavours? Are we adults if we eat two bowls of ice cream for dinner, or are we adults because of the love in our hearts that we shy away from? Because that is what adults do, right? They protect themselves because they have experienced pain.

Or are we adults because we choose to love selflessly anyway? Are we adults because we are strong enough to learn that pain is not permanent?

If being a grown up means pushing past pain, does it mean I’m already there?

Does questioning my validity as an adult completely absolve me of all rights to call myself one?

My head is spinning with questions, that I feel only my mommy can answer.

Let me tell you a story of a decision

It was inches from my face. I could taste the air as it exhaled, it was so close. So determined to shake me, to sway my solid determination. It was a decision staring me in the face, daring me to change my mind. I held firm, knowing I was safe in my knowledge of myself. I reminded myself of the warmth in my chest from the memory of what I was returning to.

The decision backed down, letting me have my happiness. I took it greedily, cradling it close and fierce. What had been mine, was mine once again.

And then the warmth in my chest disappeared. I stared at the choice I was holding on to. The dawning sense of amiss took over, the cold settling in.

The decision smirked. Swept away with it was the forgone choice, burning hot with the warmth I was back to craving.

Regret was coursing through me. I clawed at my skin to bring the bite of it to the surface, knowing the warmth would always be where I wasn’t.