Thursday, 26 July 2012

Container Garden - An Update

The corn in pots!


The garden!

The cherry tomato tree!
A harvest of red okras, cherry tomatoes, red spinach and radishes!

Siu Pak Choy, Choy Sum & Nai Pak harvest!
Another corn growing!
1st time growing Zinnia from seeds!
1st corn harvested!
This beautiful butterfly dropped by for some nectar!
It noticed me and stared at the camera!
Soil-less gardening in the kitchen! Garlic chives!
Yummy cherry tomatoes!
Cherry tomatoes and okras!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Salicylate-Free Oat Crunchies


1. 500gm of organic rolled oats
2. 1/2 cup of sunflower oil
3. 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
4. 3 large eggs


1. Preheat oven at 180C.

2. Pour all ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

3. Scoop teaspoons of the mixed ingredients into small paper cups.

4. Place into oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until slightly browned.

5. Allow to cool before storing in airtight containers. They can be kept in the refrigerator for about a month.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Day I Got Off My Ass

It has been 40 1/2 months for me now.

The year 2012 has so far has been a year of new challenges, breakthroughs, taking leaps of faith, and new levels of frustrations for me. The one thing that has been constantly consistent from the month of January till today is me being continuously, faithfully, diligently, and at times psyching myself to get off my ass. Yes, getting off my ass everyday made a huge difference!

I have been continuously moving everyday. I have to drive nearly 50 kilometers every Monday to Friday. I have to cook. I have to go to the market. I have to get the laundry done. I have to maintain the garden. I have to do the grocery shopping every week. I have to be a mother and a wife everyday. On some days, my ass don't get a rest until it is time to hop into the car to go pick the little boy up from school. And then once we reach home, I'm on my feet again 'till it is time to go to bed.

Being constantly on the move was the switch that switched off the severe depression that I was in and the constant reaction to everything and anything.

I am not asking you to start by running the 20 kilometer run this weekend, be a triathlon athlete or even drive 50 kilometers everyday. If you were like me, spending most of the day sleeping away and not doing much physical activity, you can start by just walking on the inside of your house or apartment. Or even back and forth from the toilet is great news! At least you're up and out from the bed. Even 2 minutes for starters is good. And when you are comfortable, expand your territory or increase the time.

Candace Van Auken, who is the moderator of the support group which I am part of, wrote a post on her blog which is titled, 'Rethinking Exercise'. I would like to quote a few of her passages here.

'Like I said, I’m neither Jack Lalane nor Jane Fonda. I’m like you. I have some mornings where it takes me a half-hour just to sit up in bed, by which point I feel like I’m ready for a nice nap. If I sit too long in a chair, sometimes my right hip does something so ugly that it takes several agony-filled minutes for me to manage to put any weight at all on that leg. I’ve got a couple of toes on each foot that come (the morning after taking Methotrexate) and go (a few days later), and more than once I’ve been walking along and wondered how a ball of wet newspaper ended up in my shoe, only to discover that what I was feeling were my own numb toes.
So when you tell me, “I just cannot exercise.” I hear you. When you tell me, “I said it’s impossible for me to do that.” I know just how you feel.
But I would also claim that part of your problem is that, like me, when you think of exercise, you envision Jumping Jacks. Or you think of some article you read in the Reader’s Digest about a man who, having lost all of his limbs in a terrible accident caused by his congenital lisp, still manages to perform on a trapeze using only his mouth and a splendid set of abdominal muscles. And you think: “That is definitely not me.”
Well, of course not. Our situation is different, and our definition of exercise and accomplishment need to be different, too. It’s not that you cannot exercise – it’s that you cannot do what you think of as exercise. You think that walking to the refrigerator for a beverage is not exercise – exercise is running a 10K race. You think that standing up from a chair is not exercise – exercise is careening down a hillside on skis at 70 mph.
The first thing you need to change is your conception of exercise. If you have a serious chronic illness, especially one involving arthritis, arthralgia or fibromyalgia, then it’s time to create a definition of exercise as something that you can do.'
I can hear my mother's 'I told you so' when she reads this. She told me over and over again that I needed to get out of the house. That I needed to move. That I needed to push myself. If not for myself, for my son's sake. Because my son started to mimic my depression and did not want to get out of the house at all. He became afraid of leaving the house. He wanted to 'stay-in-the-house-forever' as he puts it.

I would be lying if I said that it was easy-peasy-piece-of-cake. It was exhausting. The amount of will-power+mind-power to just keep going at it everyday was enough to wear out a herd of elephants. But like a new car's engine which will run smoothly only after a period of time of being used continuously or like a new pair of shoes which would not cause any blisters on the feet IF they were worn continuously for a period of time, the body and mind would find it easier as time goes by. IF you do it continuously day after day after day. And then one day, you would suddenly realize, 'Hey! I am not struggling anymore!'

I started pushing myself in November 2011 as I knew that I would be in deep, deep shit by 2012 if I did not get myself up and out of the sink hole that I was in. And then I got the mother-of-all-flus. And then I started reacting to everything and anything again! But I kept myself moving, even in sickness. I have not been sick since November for 8 months. For these 8 months, family members fell sick, Joel was sick, the neighbour was sick, friends were sick, teachers and people working in Joel's school were sick. But I never succumbed. Until July. For a person who has a very restricted diet, who has no vitamins or supplements, herbal concoctions or even medications, I think I did very well in combating viruses and even the Idiopathic Anaphylaxis. And I know being active and on the move constantly contributed to my well being.

There were days where I was too exhausted. There were days where I just slept in and only woke up after noon. There were days where I just gave up for one day or a few days and not move. But then I get up again and MOVE all over again.

Candace also wrote:

'... My point is that just because you are not able to do something the way other people (or you!) think you should, that does not mean that you cannot do it at all.
As chronically ill people, we need to define exercise as the fine art of getting our blood circulating, of quickening – even if it’s just a little – our heartbeat, of strengthening our muscles and improving our sense of balance.
Think of exercise as a chance to commune with your body and the world around you. It can be a way to encourage the release of those nifty little beta endorphins that would make you feel better. It can be an opportunity to reduce perceived pain by lubricating your joints and soothing your muscles.
If your attempts at exercise are not doing those things, then you’re not exercising in a way that is meaningful for someone who has a disabling chronic illness.
The very first thing you need to exercise, is your imagination. You need to redefine physical activity in a way that it’s something you can do.
If all you can do is get up and walk once around your living room. Do that. Set your watch or a clock to beep on the hour, and when you hear it, get up and hobble around your living room, once. Then sit down. Over time perhaps you can increase the frequency or the number of times you walk around the room.
Start small, be kind to yourself, and give yourself an “atta girl” for whatever it is that you are able to do.'

So YOU, get off your ass NOW! Even if it is for just 2 seconds. 'Cos it's a start to getting back your health and life. I am a living example.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Salicylate-Free Wholemeal Digestive Biscuits!


1. 100g organic wholemeal flour
*Alternatively, you could mix 80g organic wholemeal flour with 20g organic all-purpose flour.
2. 1 tablespoon of baking powder
3. 40gm of light, brown sugar
4. 120gm of salted butter.
5. 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk
(I did not add oats to the biscuits this round. If you prefer to add oats to them, add 100gm of fine, grounded oats.)


1. Melt the butter.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder, and brown sugar into a large bowl.

3. Add the melted butter into the dry ingredients and mix until crumbly.

4. Add the milk until a smooth dough is formed.

5. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and store it in the fridge for about 1/2 hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 180C.

7. Remove the dough from the cling wrap and roll it into a long cylinder shape. You can cut small circle shapes 0.4cm in thickness. Alternatively, you can scoop out a tablespoon size of dough and flatten it with the back of a spatula.

8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

9. Lay aside to cool.

10. Store in airtight containers. I kept mine in the fridge.

Bon appétit!

Waiting for oven to be ready.

Fresh out of the oven!

Ready to be kept in the fridge!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Moderate-Salicylate Eggstatic Dish!


1. 10 large eggs
2. 2 big onions
3. Sunflower oil
4. Sea-salt
5. Brown sugar


*Do wash all your eggs after purchasing them and store them in the fridge.

1. Break all 10 eggs in a large bowl. Add sea-salt and sugar to taste. Beat the eggs well.

2. Slice the big onions into thin slices.

3. Add the onions into the beaten eggs.

4. Heat wok.

5. Add about 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil to the heated wok.

6. Pour the beaten eggs concoction into wok and fry until eggs are fully cooked.

7. Scoop up onto serving bowl.

8. Serve warm.

Bon appétit!

I had my egg-static dish with minced chicken+potatoes and broccoli+carrots.  And RICE of course!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Plunge

BP on Thursday night was bad. It came suddenly and I felt giddy and faint and felt the whole room was spinning. I knew it was low. It was 93/57. Friday's reading was still low. Thus, dad was the driver to pick Jo up from school. Rested and slept the whole day. And I am better today. Pressure has returned to normal. :)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Low-Salicylate Fried Rice


1. 500gm of minced chicken (marinate with sea-salt)
2. 500 gm of french beans (cut into small pieces)
3. 1/2 clove of garlic (sliced thinly)
4. 6 shallots (sliced thinly)
5. 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
6. Sea-salt
7. 4 cups of sushi rice


1. Cook the sushi rice and set aside to cool.
*Alternatively, you can boil the rice on the day before and keep it in the freezer overnight.

2. Heat the wok and pour the sunflower oil into it.

3. Add the sliced garlic and shallots and stir fry until slightly brown.

4. Add the minced chicken and cook it until it is almost thoroughly cooked. Break up the chicken into fine pieces.

5. Add the french beans and stir the dish until the minced chicken is thoroughly cooked, slightly browned and the french beans slightly softened.

6. Add the rice and mix all the ingredients until they are well blended.

7. Add sea-salt to taste.

8. Scoop onto a large serving plate.

9. Serve while piping hot!

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Blasting the Bombarding Bugs!

I was in extremely bad shape yesterday. I really don't know how I survived. Fever the whole day, eyes that were tearing continuously till my double eye-lids disappeared and my eyes ended up swollen, runny nose, non-stop sneezing, coughing and choking and I lost my voice. It is a miracle I could function yesterday.

I boiled chicken+barley soup yesterday and had it with sushi rice. Appetite was still very bad. Three days of nothing but porridge and soup and sleepless nights had caused my weight to be at 56kg. That is 123 pounds. I knew I had to start eating.

After Joel and I came home after school yesterday, I slept after my bath at 4pm for 4 hours. I was beyond exhausted. I took a Zrytec-D and had a bit of soup and rice and went back to bed. I could definitely breathe better because of the decongestant in the Zrytec. I was able to sleep better than the previous nights even though it was still very disturbed. And I only woke up at 1pm today.

Thank god for my parents. My dad played with Joel after school yesterday. And my mom cooked for us. But she was very stressed as my brother too had caught the bug from Joel and me. He developed a fever yesterday. She did not sleep much last night or the night before. Her migraine was terrible this morning. And the readings of her blood pressure and blood sugar levels were not very 'nice'. She cooked yummy steamed salt-chicken and stir-fried french beans. It was yummy but I still couldn't eat much.

My dad was the driver today. My parents picked Joel up from school. I think I would have driven into the drain today because of the lingering effect of the Zrytec-D. I was definitely in no shape to drive.

I cooked dinner for myself as I suddenly had a severe craving for stir-fried potatoes with sunflower oil and salt. So I made some stir-fried minced chicken with potatoes. I also cooked celery with some carrots and garlic. I still could not eat much but I can say that I am getting better.

Yup, I am blasting the bombarding bugs into oblivion!

By the way, all of you were amazing in joining me at doing the 'hippo-rain-dance'. It has been pouring like crazy on a lot of days and the haze is GONE! Bravo! You guys deserve a loud applause! I will definitely look for you guys whenever we need rain! ;)

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Battling the Bombarding Bugs

After being 'bug-free' for 7 MONTHS, my immune system is now in a full-fledged war with the flu bug which was 'freely' given to me by Joel. Ever since the haze was blown over to Malaysia, people have been falling sick like dominoes.

Porridge/congee has been my diet for these past two days. Sleep is evading me as my nose is completely blocked up. And when I breathe through the mouth, I end up in a hacking cough until I gag.  And then there's that horrible sputum. The never-ending thick phlegm! The blocked ears, constantly-watery-eyes and chest pains from the cough is enough to knock an elephant flat. And the fever...

I went to the ER on Sunday afternoon as I was feeling really bad. I knew my blood pressure had dropped as I was feeling dizzy. Blood pressure was 90/68. The doctor said that this virus was spreading like wildfire all over the Klang Valley. He saw a family of six in the morning who were all coughing like barking seals. The pharmacist told me that almost all the people who worked in the hospital had succumbed to the virus last month. She said one could see it spreading from department to department.

So it is rest and try-to-eat-as-much-as-I-can for the time being. But I have improved tremendously this year compared to the first half of last year. This year I managed to remain healthy for 7 months. Thus, my next target would be 17 months! Wish me luck!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Glorious Heavens - Part 16

Rays of Light!
'There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.' - Victor Hugo

'Don't let one cloud obliterate the whole sky.' - Anais Nin
Waves in the sky!

A spectrum of colours shining through a hole from within the clouds! An awesome sight!

'Have you ever, looking up, seen a cloud like to a Centaur, a Part, or a Wolf, or a Bull?' - Aristophanes

'The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.' - Pamela Hansford Johnson

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Container Garden - An Update

The garden has been drawing all sorts of lovely bugs to it. There were a few which I have not seen before. And they are amazing!!!

The familiar Periwinkle eater!
This little one fell out of nowhere as I was watering the plants and landed right next to my feet! Imagine if it had plopped on my head! Eeeeeee.....
Another beautiful golden, brown butterfly
This bug is covered in a transparent circle film! I have never seen this bug before!

Mating cucumber bugs doing the gravity-defying-dance!

The red dragonfly
What a beautiful flower! I think it mutated very beautifully!
The dragonfly which had completed its lifespan.
Both zucchini plants died as the cucumber bugs spread the bacteria wilt to them. :( I have never had luck with cucumbers and zucchinis.
The cherry tomatoes are doing extremely well!

Pak Choy in pots!
Pumpkin seedlings

The corn plants and okras.
Red Periwinkle grown from seeds!
Sunflower seedlings
The Yellow-Banded Wasp Moths Mating!
The lemon tree is growing again after being ill for awhile. It was dropping leaves and growth was stunted. 
This caterpillar was attacking the lemon tree! It ate and ate and ate the leaves and strung webs around the leaves. A pest!!!
The beautiful Allamanda!