Yelly Reads

Book du jour: Taming the Queen by Philippa Gregory

I’ve finished another book!  Hurrah!  I am now catching up to my goal to read 24 books this year.  I am now just a book away from catching up!  Yay!

The book that I’m now reading is the next installment in the Tudor story beautifully written by Philippa Gregory.  She now writes about the last of King Henry VIII’s wives, the queen that survived him, Katherine Parr.

I’m about about 5 chapters in now and am quite pleased with my progress!  Here’s to more books, eh?

TamingtheQueenCan someone recommend what I should read next?  Any suggestions folks?

Yelly Eats

Brownie points

Who doesn’t like chocolate?  Apart from chocolate cake, one of my favourite chocolate consumption delivery systems is the good old chocolate brownie.  And after trying all the ways to make a brownie, looking through so many recipes, I have finally settled on my own.  Because I’ve made the brownie this way several times now and it comes out with that thin, shiny, crackly film on top, which I firmly believe is a sign of a good brownie!  Of course, other opinions are welcome.

brownie2ways

So, if y’all are interested in trying it out, my brownie recipe is written down below.

Ingredients:

  • 200g dark chocolate (at least 56%), roughly chopped
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g plain flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (350°F).  Grease and line a brownie pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a heat-proof dish and place the bowl over boiling water, making sure the boiling water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.  Melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally to make sure the butter doesn’t burn.  Once butter and chocolate are melted, take off the heat and set aside.  Allow to cool to room temperature, making sure you stir occasionally (I usually add the paste made from 1 heaping teaspoon of instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water at this point when I want to add a slightly different flavour to the chocolate).
  3. In a free-standing mixer with a paddle attachment (you can also do this by hand with a wire whisk, but it’ll take a bit longer), beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes a very pale yellow mixture (will usually take about 7-10 minutes, depending on the mixer, about 15-20 minutes by hand).
  4. Add the flour in three additions, making sure that the flour is incorporated each time.  Add the melted chocolate mixture to the batter ensuring that you scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure that everything is well-combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared brownie tin and level with a spatula.  TIP:  I place a baking tray (or cookie sheet) in the oven whilst it pre-heats and I place the brownie tin on it so that the brownie cooks evenly (raw brownie batter is lovely but bad for the tummy!).  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Brownie is baked when a crackly film forms on top and a skewer/toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Serving suggestions:

  • Plain, just sliced into squares (sized definitely according to preference)
  • Topped with caramel and salted roasted peanuts
  • More melted chocolate
  • A sprinkling of icing sugar (if you can handle even more sweetness), add a little coffee or cinnamon to add  different dimension to the taste

TIP:  Caramel cheat – in a deep saucepan, boil water and add a can of unopened condensed milk (sans paper label), yes the whole can.  Boil for 3 hours.  When you open the can (after it has cooled enough to touch), the caramel will be ready to spread on anything!

 

Yelly Snaps

A balm for the soul

There is something infinitely comforting in walking in nature.  I took this photo on a walk with Alan on Saturday.  It makes me smile to look at this photo.  Sometimes, when you need to slow down, when you need to centre yourself, a quiet walk, surrounded by nature, is the best solution.

walkinginHarwichWhen I flounder around in deep waters,
When the stresses of life take their toll,
A sudden deep hush steals upon me,
Your gentleness calms the soul.

Yelly Writes

Say them magic words!

I know that in this day and age of instant gratification, we often do without the social mores that our parents or grandparents expect us to follow.  I get that.  On my birthday, I got several (very beautiful) birthday cards (I was so touched by the amount that I posted a photo of the cards!) and I absolutely adored that.  We don’t write enough letters anymore in this day and age of emails and instant messaging.

Whilst on this soap box, I seriously believe that “please” and “thank you” are still important.  Even if you don’t mean it.  I know a lot of people will poo-poo my encouragement of insincere platitudes, but I am a firm believer that politeness is still a social requirement.  You ask someone to do something for you, you say “please.”  If someone does something for you (whether requested or not) you say “thank you.”  This applies to everything from letters to text messages.  It’s an unspoken rule: you use the magic words.

Freedom of speech is a basic human right and we can say whatever we want, however way we want to. But politeness never cost anyone anything, and it’s a sign of your humanity.

magicwords

Yelly Writes

So this is 40?

It’s my birthday!  Hurrah!

So this is how 40 feels?  I don’t really feel any different from yesterday.  Sure, there are aches and pains, creaking bones and clicking mandibles, but apart from the carpal tunnelly hands, I think I’m okay.  Oh and I’ve seen (and dealt with) a few more grey hairs!

I have been thoroughly spoilt with birthday presents, flowers and birthday greetings.  People have been so kind.  I’m glad that I’ve done enough good to deserve the well-wishes.  Thank you to my church baby Nikki who wrote me a lovely message.  I wonder sometimes if I’ve become too distant, too protective of myself to do any good, to do something for other people.  I’ve been struggling with myself lately, having internal arguments about how I’m behaving.  I’m glad I am still doing something to make some people happy.  Because that’s all I ever really want, I want to make people happy.

birthday40I want this year to be the year I make improvements to myself.  I want this year to be the year I tick off some of the items on my personal to-do list.  I want this year to be the year I officially establish my real “hustle” (it’s a little something I learned from Emma Gannon‘s podcast – listen to Episode 9 where Emma interviews Paulette Perhach.  These millenials are so driven, you get energised just listening to them!) so that my current “hustle” becomes my “side-hustle” so that I can do what I really want to do!

It’s not going to be easy, because I am plagued with procrastination and I have the tendency to allow myself to be swallowed up by inertia.  I am bolstered, though, by the desire to do something else, to do something creative, to work for myself.

I am determined to do something this year.

at40I don’t look too bad for 40, do I?

Yelly Snaps

Clean desk Friday…NOT!

At work, on Fridays, we have an unspoken rule that when we leave the office at the end of the day, we leave our desk as bare as possible so that the cleaners can dust our desks.  I try to make sure most of my desk is clear so that they can spray Pledge and dust when they do our area.  Not that they actually dust.  But I live in hope.  One day, I shall come to work and my desk will have the lingering smell Pledge and I will plonk myself on my office chair and smile.

So this weekend will be my birthday…my 40th birthday.  Looking at my desk today, I think making sure I adhere to the Clean Desk Friday policy will be a bit of a challenge and will require an extra 15 minutes of clearing up!

CleanDeskFriday

Yelly Writes

Vote wisely my dear fellow Filipinos

One the eve of what is, arguably, the most divisive of Philippine elections, my thoughts turn to home.  My thoughts turn to my countrymen who are about to go to the polls to select a new leader. 

My dear fellow Filipinos

I do not intend to change your minds about who to vote for. That is your choice to make because we live in a democracy and we all have the right to choose. I ask you to vote wisely because apart from making your choice, you are also choosing for people who are not able to make the choice.

Make sure that the person you vote for has the right agenda. Make sure that the person you vote for understands that our country is no longer an archipelago of 7,107 islands but part of a global community where working relationships are important. Make sure that the person you vote for intends to implement fiscal policies that lift the country’s economy up. Make sure that the person you vote for feels that they are not only accountable to every single Filipino but that they answer to God too, that their moral compass points to the true north. Make sure that the person you are voting for is really the change that the country needs, that you’re voting not just for change’s sake. Most importantly, make sure that you vote not because there is an instant economic gain for you in exchange for that vote, but that you are putting ink to paper because you think that person is worth the vote.

And lastly, make sure that once you have voted, after all the votes have been cast and counted, you haven’t burned any bridges and severed relationships. We all have opinions and we need to expect that we all won’t necessarily agree. I pray for clean, honest and peaceful elections.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas at mabuhay ang Pilipino!

philippines-flag

Yelly Writes

Arrested development

We’ve heard it all before…the old adage that age is just a number.

I turn a year older in exactly 14 days.  It’s a milestone birthday.  But I don’t think I feel my age.  Don’t get me wrong, I know I am getting older.  My body never passes up the opportunity to let me know that I’m aging – I’m finding more gray hair, I’m seeing tiny wrinkles starting, my hair is thinning, my metabolism (darn it!) is slowing down, and I am plagued with aching joints and muscles.

The thing is, I don’t feel old.  This isn’t necessarily a good thing.  There are times when I feel underdeveloped, immature, inexperienced and juvenile.  There are spring lambs who seem to be more mature, more street smart than me.  Like I didn’t grow up quite the way I should have, like I didn’t really have the right social skills that a person of my age is expected to have.

I know, I know!  You’ll probably all say that I shouldn’t base my self-judgement on the dictates of society.  But I can’t help it!  Sometimes I feel completely inadequate.

So I’m going to start a journey of rediscovery.  It’s really been something that started a few months ago.  I was craving change.  I wanted improvement in my life and I was really annoyed myself because I knew I would be plagued with procrastination and inertia.  This is why I’ve started reading inspirational books, I’ve started paying attention to all the  articles about self-development articles that I’ve subscribed to.  I’ve started to seek inspiration because I’m determined to make some sort of change this year.

I’m consumed by this desire to change my life, to be happier, to be more successful, to be more driven, to be healthier…and not because I want to everyone to envy me (well, okay, maybe I want everyone to look at me and say, “Wow, look at her!”…maybe just a little.  I’m only human!), I want to look at my life and feel a sense of achievement, to know that I achieved the goals I set for myself.  I know I’ve had achievements, I know I’ve made a difference, but I want something else.  I can’t exactly articulate it.  But I want to be able to tick things off my list and go, “Well, there you go!  I’ve finally done it!”

The sad thing is, I don’t exactly know what it is.  I’m not completely sure what I want to be, who I want to be and it’s funny because there are times when I wonder, who I am and if I’ve lost my identity.

My ball has stopped rolling.  I am unmoving.

But this year, it will be different.  I will start identifying my want to-do’s and I will get them done!

Time to start moving again!