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Showing posts from December, 2009

Chez Naranek's year-end newsletter

Life After Work be taking a blogging break until 2010 rolls around.

2010 by ilco
In the meantime, here is chez Naranek's first-ever year-end newsletter that we just sent out to those on our snail mail list, so *SPOILER ALERT* for those who (think they) are going to be receiving something from us, because I'm sharing it with my dear blog readers (including those who read this via Facebook!) ... just please excuse the [revised / redacted parts], k?

Names and locations have been changed to protect the not-too-innocent :)

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Seasons Greetings from Springfield, IL!

The past several years have been quite tumultuous for [chez Naranek], and we have sorta lost touch with many of you – so we are caving-in and sending out our first attempt at a “year-end newsletter” to bring y’all up to speed and (re-) establish contact.

As many of you know, we have recently relocated after about three years in Chicago. [Kosh] had begun surgery residency at [a hospital in Chicago], while Lynne jumped…

Springfield, IL: Land of the Horseshoe!

MS Office clip art The weekend after Thanksgiving, a friend from college (you may remember some references to a KTN?) and her bf visited us here in Springfield. She had indicated they'd like to take us out for dinner, to a place that was typical of or uniquely Springfield.

I tapped the power of Twitter for ideas, and received a few great suggestions, which you can see in Springfield, IL: What's for dinner?; in the end we decided to go to D'Arcy's Pint for the horseshoe.

No, not the u-shaped metal that gets nailed to a horse's foot... the specialty of Springfield:
Above is what Kosh ordered: The Supreme Seasoned ground beef on Texas Toast, covered in french fries, smothered in spicy cheese sauce, with a sprinkling of tomatoes and scallions, and spicy tabasco-like dipping sauce on the side. I thought it was okay, but missing something (probably the bacon!). I totally loved mine, tho, which you can see below:
They all look the same, don't they? So take my word for …

Custom Header & Button Giveaway!

So on Monday I highlighted my efforts in revamping (for the better!) my friend's new business blog. In a similar vein, today's post is about @taraSG's Custom Header & Button Giveaway I'm eying: did you know that the first blogiversary of a malaysian abroad passed by recently with a barely a whimper?

To kinda make up for it, I'm itching to revamp the site for the new year, and I wonder if winning Tara's giveaway will help fast-track this goal :D After all, I'm also itching to revamp two other sites of mine, and to give Life After Work itself a much-needed finalisation: that's a lot to be tackling, especially when I might be away for the last 10 days of the year!

So here's hoping I'll win Tara's giveaway, that'll be half of one site tackled, LoL!

But if you want to throw your hat into the ring, go right ahead! You have until midnight (I assume it's CST, about -6 GMT) on 31st December 2009 to enter, via a comment on Tara's …

My first blog make-over!

Yes, yes, yes, I've made-over my own blog many times, but today I spent almost all day helping out a friend of mine, Rima Rashidi, who, together with her buddy Siti Hajar, has started her own business: Studio Vocal Siti Hajar!

You see, they had established a blog for the business, but had chosen the cookie-cutter harbor template which pained me so to look at for a business site, and me being me, I offered to jazz it up a bit to the best of my limited abilities...

I had all these fancy ideas for the header, but have very basic photoediting software and skills, so decided to go with black plus basic colors. Blue is a color associated with communication, so I decided to make that the main color. The rest of the day was spent tweaking all those friggin' colors... here's what I handed over to them:

... if you notice, this blog has yet to be properly "completed" in terms of color-tweaking, precisely because I'd get fed up trying to figure out the best combo! But hey,…

21 days to 2010: Foody Friday: turkey/soy flaxseed meatloaf!

I've shared my meatloaf adventures before (not to be confused with my Meat Loaf adventures, LoL!), but today I'd like to highlight my most recent experiment: turkey/soy flaxseed meatloaf.  Yeah try saying that three times fast:

. . turkey/soy flaxseed meatloaf!
. . . turkey/soy flaxseed meatloaf!
. . . . turkey/soy flaxseed meatloaf!

The soy part was, as usual, a pack of fake ground beef soy crumbles from MorningStar Farms.

The turkey was a roll of 97/3 Honeysuckle White.

But I was out of breadcrumbs!! fyi, breadcrumbs are used to add bulk and moisture, and to kinda hold things together, so I couldn't just leave it out... So I looked for a substitute ... Found a suggestion to use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, and another suggested flaxseed.

Seeing as I had recently bought us a box of Milled Flax Seed, I figured this would be a good way to sneak in some Omega-3 oils into the dish, especially considering the previous box took years to get finished!

But precisely because fla…

25 days to 2010: Rachel Guerzo is "Just Friends"

I'm so proud of, and for, Rachel Guerzo! My junior from high school, Rachel always did have a great set of pipes and lungs on her, and over time has established herself as pretty much the female jazz vocalist in Kuala Lumpur. And now, Rachel is finally releasing her debut album entitled Just Friends.

Here's her official biography:
Born into Malaysia’s most influential music family the Solianos, pianist and singer Guerzo has emerged as one of the most exciting and innovative jazz musician in her own right, honing her craft and playing to discerning live audiences over the past two decades. Influenced by consummate performers such as Shirley Horn, Tania Maria, Diana Krall and Eliane Elias, she both learned from them and gradually discovered her own unique voice.

In addition to playing regularly with her father, saxophonist Salvador Guerzo, and her uncle, drummer Rizal Soliano, Rachel has worked with some very fine musicians such as Michael Veerapen, Steve Thornton, Valtinho Anast…

28 days to 2010: Foody Friday Lamb Shanks!

This week's edition of Foody Friday started a few weeks ago, actually, when I moaned on Facebook that all of a sudden I was craving the lamb shank at Secret Recipe, and wondered if I should attempt to experiment with that, especially considering I'd never ever noticed lamb shanks being sold in the supermarkets before. To my surprise I had quite a few responses from a wide spectrum of pals who essentially said "mmMmmMmmmm lamb!" and "Yes! Experiment and blog about it!"

So on Monday, I happened to pass the correct place in the dead animal section of Wal-Mart and hey whaddayaknow they had lamb shanks for sale! Each individually wrapped, going for about $7 a pop. Yes, you read that right: SEVEN bucks! That's like TWENTY-TWO RINGGIT! Each. Can you say "Ouch!"?

Lamb shanks - before the "fun" begins

Dahlah mahal... then you realise maybe a quarter of the weight is all bone, and another eighth all fat. See all that white on the "back&…

29 days to 2010: What's in my freezer?

Yes, I'm going to continue with the Food/Health topic a little while longer... today how's about a peek into my freezer?

Here's what's in the freezer door:

You may recognise a few Morningstar Farms products there: I have indicated I am trying to move Kosh and I away from dead animals, so I always have some sort of soy-substitute product at hand. Here you might see three packages of fake ground beef (one of which will probably be used in making meatloaf tonight!).

I'm not impressed with their fake breakfast sausage patties tho, and the fake italian sausage links are crumbly and meh: you might spot one open box each in there.

There's also half a box of Banquet's Heat n Serve turkey sausage links (majorly high in sodium tho, beware!), and maybe one more serving left of Tater Tots (will not be replacing this, since they aren't organic and therefore probably chockful of bad chemicals - bummer!).

And now for the main part of the freezer:
.. a little crammed, ain…

30 days to 2010: 7 foods experts won't eat

So yesterday I rambled a bit about vegetarianism vs being just plain responsible/aware about what goes on to put all those dead animals on your table, and why I'd like to win me a signed copy of Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. Today, I'd like to go over one of those many lists that appear on the Yahoo! homepage: this recent one gave me pause in a few places (marked in red): 7 foods experts won't eat.

The first advised against canned tomatoes. It seems that the acidity of the tomatoes causes bisphenol-A in the can's resin lining to leach into the contents, thus causing ingestion of dangerous amounts of the chemical when consumed. Yeah, BPA's not been getting a good rep, and I'd rather not ingest more than I already have. Of course, I happen to have like 6 cans of diced tomatoes in the cupboard: I've found them extremely handy in the kitchen, they add flavour and body to almost any dish.

The second warned against corn-fed beef. Cows are grass-ea…

31 days to 2010: Eating Animals

As 2010 approaches, my thoughts are moving more and more towards eating better, making better choices when it comes to providing the body with fuel vs satisfying the emotional side to eating.

This is why I am looking forward to Kilax's giveaway of Jonathan Safran Foer's non-fiction book on starting an informed discussion about what is being done in the name of putting food on our tables. Entitled Eating Animals, it's not a call for vegetarianism per se, but seems to nudge folks in that direction. While I wasn't impressed with his works of fiction (read one, saw the movie adaptation of another), I am quietly curious about what he has to say, and how he says it.

For those who have known me over a long period of time, you might recall I used to be a (lenient) vegetarian, sticking to fried noodles or rice with curry-without-chicken, eating eggs and cheese but consuming bits of an actual dead animal once a week or so. This came about from reading Fit for Life: it was extre…