Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Good Foundation

Andrew: One of our wedding gifts was the book 14 Secrets to a Better Marriage by Dave Earley.

Dearie and I decided to spend some of our devotional time reflecting and discussing some of the chapters of the book together so that we could start off our relationship by building a firm foundation. The first chapter of the book is, as you might have already expected, ‘Build on a Solid Foundation’, where the author identifies and elaborates on 12 foundation stones for building a good relationship. We will be sharing those that spoke particularly to us:

Andrew: The lesson that spoke to me the most was the point on complement each other. Earley writes that if we analyse the original language of the Bible, Adam’s words when he first saw Eve were a ‘joyous declaration’, because he saw in her someone that was his complement. Husbands and wives were designed to be ‘close friends and to positively complement one another as they work together side by side as equal partners and close companions’.

As I reflect on our relationship, I truly realize that Jasmine and I do complement each other in many aspects (e.g. I’m very rational, she’s more spontaneous/ I’m more logical, she’s more creative.) and in that sense – we ‘complete’ each other.

What this reminded me too is that we need to positively complement each other and not try to take over or prevent the other from doing what he/she wants to do. A simple example was for cooking this week. Being someone who likes to be in control, I kept entering the kitchen to check that all was going well, but in doing so, I was disturbing Dearie and getting in the way of her doing what she wanted to do. This was us clashing rather than complementing then. I’ve since learnt to just relax and let her do the cooking when she wants to. An important lesson indeed!

Jasmine: Another lesson that we both liked was that we cannot control draining events, but we can initiate filling events. The author suggested that every person has a love tank which can be filled by positive acts of love and kindness or drained by negative interactions. (The love tank metaphor is cheesy but the concept is quite succinct and powerful.) Andrew and I have been through many draining events in the past couple of years, such as serious illness on both sides of the family, job transitions and moving house, but to his credit, Andrew has always tried to neutralise that and keep the romance alive in our courtship by researching new cafes or exhibitions that we can go to and bringing me on lovely dates.

Another idea that the author puts forth is that men and women require different kinds of love. A man’s primary love need is respect, whilst a woman’s primary love need is affection. Even more importantly, the love that we shower our spouse with is unconditional, meaning that it is not contingent on whether our spouse gives us the time and attention that we seek. Yet interestingly enough, when I see Andrew rise up and take the leadership in our home, whether it’s taking care of our expenses, arranging flat viewings or simply suggesting that we detour to Udders for an ice-cream supper or stroll down Bedok Jetty because he "wants to spend time with [me]", it becomes easier for me to give him the respect and admiration that he needs.

We’ve discussed the different kinds of love needs in greater detail  here (https://andrewlovesjazzy.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/venus-tells-all-about-mars-the-womans-perspective/). I think that this idea of no-strings-attached love is something that runs contrary to the norms of our self-seeking, self-absorbed culture, but it is key to building and sustaining a happy and lasting marriage: esteem the needs of your mate to be higher and more important than your own.

Andrew: Reading this book and reflecting on the points together have indeed started off our marriage on a good note. We do recommend this book to all married couples – many points in the book might be obvious, but they are really good reminders. Even though the book is a Christian book, the principles drawn out contain a lot of common sense and wisdom, plus there are a lot of real life examples. Earley shares very honestly and humbly the struggles he faced with his wife, which shows that marriage is certainly not a bed of roses but with wisdom and work, it can be one of the most beautiful things in the world.

Jazzy and I have had more than our fair share of issues to work through, but it’s been a wonderful month of wedding bliss. Thank you Dear for being a wonderful wife and I’m looking forward to a lifetime of joy and love with you! 

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Simple Homecooked Meals

Andrew: Knowing that one of my greatest joys in life is eating, Dearie has been creatively whipping up many meals for me since we moved into our new home. There is greater joy now in dining because we not only get to eat together, but also shop for our food and cook together. These meals have been rather simple to prepare too!

Jasmine: Yes, and not to mention that all these homecooked meals must meet three criteria in order to satisfy Andrew:

  • healthy
  • filling
  • must have meat

We faced teething problems when I first started cooking because when I served healthy salads (see first criterion), Andrew would say they were not filling, but when I switched to pasta and rice dishes, he would say they were not healthy. Hmph!

Andrew: Here are the highlights of our home-cooked meals over the past week:

1. Caesar’s Salad with Rock Deli Chips CaesarSalad

Andrew: We were still rather ill-equipped to cook at this point, so we cheated on this one and bought a pre-packed Caesar’s salad mix from the supermarket. Boiled an egg and some pasta and this was our first fuss-free, healthy lunch 🙂

Chips compliments of my department retreat – what would a meal with Jazzy be without potato chips? Heh.

Jasmine: I managed to hardboil an egg without burning the house down! (Refer to our wedding montage for the inside joke)

2. Smoked Duck Salad with Dragonfruit

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Andrew: This meal was cooked after Jasmine went for a long grocery shopping trip with her mum, which significantly stocked up our fridge.

She bought salad dressings – goma sauce and citrus yuzu sauce and got the smoked duck at a good deal – just 1.95 for a portion that was sufficient to serve 2! I haven’t really tried goma sauce before, but it went really really well with the smoked duck!

Jasmine: The Japanese goma dressing was recommended to Mum and I by my cousin Adeline! The smoked duck was super cheap too… It was a pity we didn’t have coarse black pepper then, else I would have crusted the duck skin with black pepper for more flavour and crunch. The dragonfruit we found in the fridge and decided to use it!

3. Lemon Pepper Grilled Fish with Mango Salad

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Jasmine: This was the first meat that I actually cooked. I marinated the cream snapper with lemon pepper overnight and baked it in the oven. I chose lighter accents for the salad, such as citrus yuzu sauce, so that it wouldn’t overwhelm the delicate taste and texture of the fish.

In addition, this was a dish made possible by my mum, who donated the sweet mango and lemon pepper (hard to get hold of in Singapore).

Andrew: This dish was quite a success. The mango and fish went together extremely well. To be more accurate, the fish wasn’t grilled but microwaved.

4. Apple Salad served with Cheese Baked Rice

BakedriceAppleyuzusaladAndrew: As you can see, we became increasingly more equipped – we cooked this after we were blessed with a rice cooker and a small oven from my mum. Also, at this point, I gave Dearie some ‘constructive feedback’ that I needed more filling meals. Heh. Marriage’s all about adjustment, isn’t it!

Baked rice was simple enough – Boil rice with garlic butter, stir-fry some mushrooms. Put the rice and mushrooms in a bowl, top it with cheese and place it in the oven until the cheese melts nicely.

The salad on the side was an apple salad with citrus yuzu sauce. It was light, refreshing and crunchy – a lovely complement to the heavier main of baked rice.

Jasmine: Yes, and on the side we have Collagen Yakult- our splurge for the week!

I’m quite glad that we invested in the goma and yuzu citrus dressings. From our experimenting, they’re both different in consistency and pair well with different meats- the yuzu citrus is lighter and zestier and goes well with fish and fruit, while the goma has a heady taste of sesame and imparts a smoky flavour to red meats.

5. Sausage Carbonara and Garlic Bread

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Andrew: This was dinner on the same night that we prepared the previous dish in. Dearie prepared this based on her mum’s fool-proof recipe – pour the sauce in the pot and stir. Being amateur cooks, we tried adding in milk and water into the sauce, which created varying consistencies that we had to endlessly adjust.

We used Leggo’s Carbonara sauce (recommended by Jasmine’s mum too) and threw in some mushrooms and sausages. The sausages were also bought on offer from NTUC and were pretty good!

Dearie then put a generous sprinkling of various herbs on top of the pasta. She also toasted some garlic bread on the side, but as we were still figuring out how to operate our oven, we charred the bottom of the bread. Heh. Yes, you do notice that the meals are being more carbohydrate heavy.

Jasmine: Yes, meat is so expensive that we usually just end up buying whatever’s on offer at the rotisserie, like the smoked duck and these chicken frankfurters, which were juicy and meaty!

6. ‘Shroom Garlic Butter Rice

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Andrew: Butter rice – simply boil the rice with garlic butter and milk, then add in raisins. Boil some mushrooms and toss a simple salad with goma sauce and you have another healthy yet filling meal.

Jasmine: As you can see, I’ve customised both plates to our liking. The plate in the foreground was prepared for Andrew. To meet his requests for healthy yet satisfying meals, I served up rocket with goma sauce on the side and heaped on top a ton of mushrooms that I had sauteed with garlic butter.

The plate in the background is for me: It has a smaller portion size but is far unhealthier- I’ve thrown in two chicken sausages and a hardboiled egg for good measure.

And on weekends we tend to indulge ourselves! Behold our Saturday brunch:

7. Waffle Stack, Served with Acacia Honey, Bananas and Blueberries

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Jasmine: This supposed indulgence was actually the invention of necessity. The acacia honey and blueberries were donated by Andrew’s mother, whilst our bananas were fast turning mouldy, hence I decided to make use of them in a nice chunky stack of waffles. (The height does look quite impressive, if I do say so myself- we had to pump up the volume with lots of bananas!)

We however scrimped on blueberries and placed them on the top layer only!

Andrew: This was extremely yummy! After we took the photo, I added in much more acacia honey such that the waffles were drowning in them, then I mopped up the remaining honey with the last bits of waffle. We’ll try ice-cream next time!

And today’s Sunday lunch:

8. Pesto, Herb and Chicken Ham Pasta

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Jasmine: Pesto is one of my favourite ingredients (if it can even be called that) because it hardly requires any preparation. Our store-bought pesto tasted a little bland, so I decided to spice it up with freshly-chopped lettuce, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, basil, oregano and ground black pepper. Oh, and I made my very first lemon vinaigrette and drizzled it over the pasta for added zing! (The leftover lemon vinaigrette was mixed into the orange salad, and blended well with the goma sauce.)

Andrew: This simple meal was perfect to balance out the very meat-heavy dinner we’ll be having later. I actually really liked the salad with orange – great blend of sweetness from the raisins, sour, juiciness of the orange and crunchiness of the lettuce. The goma sauce scores once again with its winning blend of sweet and savouriness.

These are our groceries for the week ahead.

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Our luxury item for the week – bacon bits!

Am looking forward to next week’s menu – club sandwich and cod!

Thanks Dearie for preparing all the wonderful meals over the past week! I couldn’t have asked for a better wife.

Pre-Wedding Pictures

Jasmine: As today is the eve of our wedding, we have a special surprise for you- we would like to share with you some of our favourite pictures from our pre-wedding photoshoot! (Yes, this time, these are the ones that did make it into the album.)

Photo 1

Jasmine: I’d say about 85% of our shots were candid, and this was one of them. Taking our pre-wedding pictures at Botanic Gardens held special meaning for me, as this was where my parents took theirs, some 27 years ago.

Andrew: While Jasmine says that this shot was ‘candid’, it did require a lot of work from the photographers too. They had to throw up the veil and then run out of the shot while it was falling down so as to create that feel of the veil billowing in the wind. Oops – have I spoilt the magic of that picture? Heh. What I love about this picture is how prominent we are against the backdrop and how natural (as in our pose) looks.

Jasmine: “Throw up the veil”- great image evoked there 😛

Photo 2

Jasmine: Actually, this is Andrew’s favourite picture. While I like the aerial composition, I’m not so fond of my somewhat awkward posture. Andrew, interestingly enough, looks more relaxed than me! In order to achieve the high angle shot, our photographers “illegally” borrowed a bench and carried it all the way up the hill! You can also see all the props we put together for our photo shoot, ranging from pop-up books to cake stands to a bird cage.

Andrew: Yes, this is my favourite shot because of how casual and relaxed we look in it, both in terms of dressing and pose. I had much difficulty ‘posing’ during the process of the photo-shoot, but this was one shot where I felt I didn’t have to pose and could just be myself. It was a memorable shot indeed. Jasmine’s cocktail dress also really pops in this shot – in fact, you could say that it’s really the star of the show.

Photo 3

Jasmine: I love the composition of this shot and the post-processing really helped to enhance that dreamy, whimsical feel. Shot on location at one of our all-time favourite haunts, the National Museum, I liked how the photographer seems to have caught us off-guard having a “moment”.  When we first arrived, I was skeptical about the red balloon installation, but it seems to work beautifully here, providing a vibrant burst of colour in a museum that tends to look rather muted in photos (photos of other people’s wedding shoots that we unearthed during our research phase) due to the abundance of grey and white walls.

Andrew: I’ll be honest with you – this shot didn’t quite do it for me initially. I am more ‘conventional’ in my interest and prefer shots where you can actually see the couples’ face and expressions. My view was changed though when I saw the photo in our photobook and also on the montage. When rendered in clear definition and on a big screen, it is really quite a well-composed shot and you can see our expressions. Heh.

This is just a sneak preview! We really do love our wedding album very much as it really represents who we are 🙂 Looking forward to meeting everyone at the wedding this weekend!

Our Custom Wedding Bands

Jasmine: Andrew and I decided to custom-make our wedding bands and we chose eClarity after reading good reviews about their customer service, professionalism and affordability.

Given that we have such different personalities, we didn’t really want matchy rings but opted instead for wedding bands that would complement our individual styles and yet still be versatile enough for everyday usage.

You remember our engagement ring, the Soleste cushion-cut from Tiffany & Co:

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And these are our wedding bands plus engagement ring:

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Jasmine: For myself, I chose a fairly classic style- the half-pave diamond eternity band. In laymen’s terms, that’s when half the ring is set with tiny diamonds. The practical benefit of going with a half-pave band is that you can resize it without losing any diamonds. I am planning to wear it stacked below my engagement ring, so the style benefit is that it complements my Tiffany ring, which is also a half-pave, without upstaging it.

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Andrew: Wearing a ring is something which I’ve felt is rather functional for a married man and isn’t quite a fashion statement in any form – but looking at the whole range of rings on offer at e-Clarity really changed my opinion! As usual, I was overwhelmed by the amount of choices and variation offered, so I will let Jasmine will tell the rest of the story.

Jasmine: Interestingly enough, it was with Andrew’s wedding band that we decided to take some fashion risks. Andrew wanted something decidedly masculine, so we opted for a modern combination of black gold and matte gold, spiced up by the intersection of two triangles. (Amanda, the gemologist, explained that the touching of the two triangles was significant as it represented the connection between the couple.)

Verdict: I thought service was prompt and they delivered our custom rings in three weeks instead of the stated two months, but I’m not impressed with the quality of the diamonds. It’s not an issue of carat size but rather brilliance i.e. the bling factor. I felt that the micro diamonds on the eClarity ring were far less brilliant than microdiamonds on the Tiffany’s, although that’s probably an unfair comparison to make as both retailers belong to different pricing leagues.

But of course, I must be a very lucky girl because my engagement ring and our wedding bands got a photoshoot each! That’s two photoshoots 🙂

You may remember these "famous" engagement ring photos that made a splash on Facebook some three months ago. They were taken by Ee Ee on the spur of the moment- we improvised by using the red rose bouquet as a backdrop!

This time round, my auntie and uncle travelled all the way from Choa Chu Kang to Sengkang (just because they’ve both got a "kang" in it doesn’t mean they’re near) with their tripods, multiple backdrop cloths and a flash diffuser which Ee Ee told us Uncle William had bought "specially for your wedding".

Here are some of their shots:

Using wedding-related crafts as backdrop

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Using their black velvet backdrop (one of several they brought with them that day!)

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Using a Jane Austen book (which I have strategically positioned at the very potent line, "I am, dear Madam, your most obedient, humble servant". Andrew be warned.)

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Jasmine: If you look carefully, you’ll see that the shadow of the ring is heart-shaped. This was the only of the three rings that was hefty and thick enough to "sit" up on its own. Heh.

Using a whole bunch of books

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And using Jasmine’s father’s Concordance Bible:

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Jasmine: Ee Ee even conscientiously asked me to flip the Bible open to my favourite verse for added significance, but that plan was quickly nixed after we realised we had to keep the Bible open somewhere in the centre of all the pages- hence, this is either Psalms, Proverbs or maybe Song of Songs. Heh.

Thanks Ee Ee and Uncle William for the tremendous effort and the great engagement and wedding band photographs!