A Short Hiatus

The fancy window decorations, the food and the crowded streets…that’s right, Christmas is around the corner and just like other businesses out there, today is my last day of ‘work’. Or rather, this will be my last post of 2016.

I re-started and re-branded my blog in September with the intention to practice my writing skills and to share the things I’m passionate or curious about with the online community. I challenged myself to maintain this blog for at least three months. I managed to fulfill the challenge but there’s more that needs to be done. However, I’m currently in a situation that requires me to take some time off to sort things out.

Have yourself a gleaming little Christmas and I’ll be back before you know it! xx

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Afrodita Emikaneko Glitter Makeup // Into The Gloss

To those of you who do read and follow my blog, thank you.

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I Was Wondering About…{Human Body // Asymmetry}

This week I find out why the human body is asymmetrical, on the inside and out.

I was cooling down from a Pilates workout when my virtual instructor said that the right side of her body is stronger and more flexible than her left. I, on the other hand, am stronger on the left side of my body (neither side is flexible though…I’m stiff as an old lady!). I prefer to use my left arm for heavy lifting, I open jars with my left hand and I balance better on my left foot. That was when I begin to wonder: why is our body asymmetrical? And why do we prefer to use one hand over the other? 

Have you ever wondered how our internal organs are arranged? It all starts at the node on the embryo’s midline. The interior of the node is lined with tiny hairs called cilia that whirl round and round in synchronized motion to push the fluid from the right to the left of the embryo. This then triggers a genetic activation on the node’s left hand rim, causing the release of calcium atoms. The surrounding cells respond by making proteins called Nodal, which lead both sides of the embryo to be chemically different.

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High magnification of the embryonic node of an 8 day-old mouse (National Institutes of Health)

While our bodies start out symmetrical, left-right asymmetry begins at around six weeks. The first organ to show asymmetry is the heart. A simple tube loops to the left and different structures start to form on each side of the heart. At the same time, other organs such as the stomach and liver begin to move clockwise away from the midline of the embryo; an appendix appears on the right side of the large intestine; the right lung grows three lobes and two on the left.

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Researchers indicate that it takes three or four hours for the left and right to be determined but there’s still limited understanding of what happens in between. Below are three other questions that require further investigation by the scientific community:

  • Apparently two cilia is enough to start an embryo on its proper development. So what is the function of the rest of the cilia?
  • How exactly does Nodal help determine the anatomy of each side of the body?
  • As most research on this topic is performed on animals such as zebra fish and mice, it’s unclear if humans develop in the same way.

 

Did you know…

1 in 20,000 people suffer from a condition known as situs inversus, whereby the internal organs are inverted left to right! (nytimes)

 

Now that we have some idea of how asymmetry happens inside the human body, let us explore the idea of lateral preference (predominant use of either side of the body for carrying out specific actions). Cognitive scientist Stephanie Braccini states that “a strengthening of individual asymmetry [may have] started as soon as early hominins assumed a habitual upright posture during tool use or foraging”. Our ancestors, Homo habilis and Homo erectus, demonstrated some evidence of right handedness through the stone tools made about 1.5 million years ago in Koobi Fora, Kenya. It wasn’t until the Homo heidelbergensis appeared (some 600,000 years ago) that a clear right handed preference emerged. For example, the wear on the preserved teeth of Homo heidelbergensis suggests that food was usually brought to the mouth with the right hand.

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The division of neurological labor has been an important feature in evolution. Both hemispheres of the brain control motor action on the opposite sides of the body, but they’re not equal in their control of different types of behaviors. This causes a bias of one hand over the other for certain tasks. The dominance of one hemisphere over the other for certain behaviors is known as cerebral lateralization. Having only one hemisphere control a response lowers competition, which enables different processes such as language and attention to function at the same time across two hemispheres. The left hemisphere may be dominant for speech but the same region also controls hand actions. Scientists conclude that this leads the majority of the human population to use their right hand for tools or gestures.

At the start of the development of motor skills, children may use both hands equally for simple actions such as reaching for objects. But when a complex task such as writing is performed, the specialized processing of the left hemisphere is activated. Of course, not all of us are right handed and genetics as well as personal experience both contribute to that difference. We don’t know which hand will be dominant when we’re infants, but through trial and error, we find out which one works better and is more comfortable.

There are plenty of other theories, speculations and arguments on this topic but I won’t be doing an in-depth analysis. But this is pretty interesting, don’t you agree? Also, the fact that left handers who adapt and do things with their right hand is pretty cool. My brother used to be amazed that I could operate the mouse with my right hand even though I’m left-handed. If you’re interested, here’s an interesting read: Left Preference for Sport Tasks Does Not Necessarily Indicate Left-Handedness: Sport-Specific Lateral Preferences, Relationship with Handedness and Implications for Laterality Research in Behavioural Sciences.

And before I sign off, I want those of you who identify as ambidextrous to know this – YOU ARE FREAKING AWESOME.

 

References

http://www.medicaldaily.com/human-body-anatomy-and-physiology-asymmetrical-symmetrical-embryo-371024

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141215-why-are-most-of-us-right-handed

http://www.seeker.com/hand-preference-in-humans-animals-explained-discovery-news-1765169608.html

http://theconversation.com/how-childrens-brains-develop-to-make-them-right-or-left-handed-55272

Les Nourritures // Food #112016

Food diary 2.0 and some podcast recommendations for you lovely people.

As I’m writing this, Solange’s Mad is playing on my phone.

I used to be able to sing along to every song aired on the radio. But now, I hardly know the lyrics to any popular songs. I guess it’s because I rarely listen to music anymore. I don’t plug in when I do grocery shopping, buy takeaway food, jogging etc. I only turn on the music when I’m getting ready, cooking or cleaning. Lately though, I’m more interested in podcasts than anything else.

*I know you’re expecting to see content relating to food, but bear with me as I digress*

The following are my current favorites on Spotify:

  1. The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health -Whenever I’m picking out books or articles to read, I gravitate towards Psychology. Dr. Ellen Hendriksen is, in my opinion, a great host. She’s easy to listen to and she’s funny too. All episodes are brief but you’ll learn a lot in a short amount of time. Favorite episodes: 129 How is ADHD Different for Women and Girls? and 039 How to Talk to Kids About Terrorism and Violence
  2. The Ultimate Health Podcast with Dr. Jesse Chappus and Marni Wasserman – This podcast offers a lot of interesting topics. Because the length of each episode is quite long, it’s great for road trips or when you’re commuting back home on public transport. I don’t know about you but I like experimenting with tips provided by experts just to see if they actually work for me. Favorite episode: 127 The Allergy Solution with Dr. Leo Galland
  3. Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso – I’ve heard a lot about Sophia, her book and her success story with Nasty Gal in the past but I haven’t explore any of her works. So when I came across this podcast, I thought it’s time to give her a chance. I only managed to listen to two episodes so far but I love them. Sophia interviews successful women working in various career fields and discusses how they get to where they are right now, the lessons they’ve learned and their opinions on specific issues. If you want to be inspired, have a listen to this! Favorite episode: Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief for Marie Claire

Thank you for being patient and let’s get straight to business!

 

Week 1

I planned to have dinner with R on Friday but there was a change of plans so I went to Torasan Ramen (again) without him. I was tempted to get the raw salmon dish but I went for grilled salmon with curry instead.

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I think I only had grilled salmon once or twice in my entire life. Pairing it with Japanese curry is a nice combination but be warned, Japanese curry is super mild. If you crave something spicier, this won’t cut it!

On Saturday, I decided to give Flora Indian Restaurant & Cafe a try. I didn’t feel like travelling too far so this place is perfect as it’s located in the CBD.

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I ordered a small combination meal which consists of either 1 roti or naan, 1 meat dish, 1 vegetarian dish and Daal. The naan was freshly made and it goes really well with the meat, the pumpkin and the sauces. Although they are generous with the vegetarian dish, I only got two pieces of goat meat. The bones were huge and for $10.50 AUD, I think it’s not worth it. The flavors were good but I don’t think I’ll revisit anytime soon.

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If you live in Melbourne, you’re bound to come across Bakers Delight. I got curious so I decided to pop in and sample their products. I got myself an almond custard scroll for $2.5 AUD (if I’m not mistaken) and it was actually pretty good. I would prefer that they skip the cream beneath the almonds though.

 

Week 2

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I was craving for my mum’s sweet and sour chicken dish, so I decided to try and make it myself. I didn’t ask my mum for the recipe or search the internet. I just improvised and went with what feels right.

I marinated the chicken with some soy sauce, dipped them in corn flour and pan fried them in olive oil. The frying process takes time and be prepared to clean up after. I cut up some cucumbers, tomatoes and capsicum and stir fried them for 2-3 minutes. I then added some water and a tiny bit of brown sugar to the mix and tossed them for another 2-3 minutes. To make the gravy thicker, add in some corn flour.

Once it’s done, get yourself a bowl of rice, add some chicken and top it off with the vegetable mix and voila! I’m really happy with the final result and I had this for lunch for the entire week. What better way to satisfy a craving?

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For dinner, I made tofu with shitake and enoki mushrooms (I LOVE mushrooms!!) as well as stir fried kale and tomatoes. I love a good tofu dish! Tofu is not only a good source of protein but it can provide some benefit to people with high cholesterol (like me).

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Random breakfast shot. I wanted to get my own matcha powder for a while now so when it was on sale at Chemist Warehouse, I snapped one up. I add one teaspoon of matcha powder to my oatmeal when I feel like it but I use cinnamon powder more often. Now that I’m about to finish the rest of my apple cider vinegar (I add this to warm water and drink it first thing in the morning), I plan to use matcha powder for my morning “tonic” in the future. 

I remember it was a sunny Saturday and I was craving for a burger. So I did what most people with cravings would do. I walked to New York Minute and got the Hell’s Kitchen Chili Beef Burger! I expected it to be spicy but it turned out to be like any other normal burger. I understand that most Australians cannot handle spicy food, but this is below the mild standard. If the burger is named as Hell’s Kitchen Chili Beef Burger, might as well go all in and make it spicy! But overall, it was still pretty good.

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Week 3

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Quick and easy snack on a Monday before lunch. 

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This week I made stir fried long beans and chicken for lunch. Since I have some leftover bread, I decided to have avocado toast as well.

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I saw this recipe on jenny mustard’s YouTube channel and I knew I had to give it a go. Firstly, I haven’t made congee on my own before; secondly, I was craving for something comforting and finally, I’ve never had congee that’s sour or soup based.

Jenny used shiitake mushrooms, lentils, spring onion, coriander, ginger (and all the other stuff) in her recipe but I substituted shiitake with button mushrooms and I omitted the rest. I have to say, I really like her take on this! The combination of sour and salty (from the Miso) together with all those vegetables and mushrooms…perfect! If you want to give it a try, click here.

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To switch things up, I sometimes add half a tablespoon of chocolate powder to my oatmeal. I’m trying to use up my cheap chocolate powder so I can get the real deal (aka 100% cocoa with no sugar added). 

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On Saturday, I had lunch with some of my high school friends. We haven’t seen each other for more than 3 months and we only meet twice a year: during the midterm break and after the final exams. Even if that’s the case, we have a lot to talk about and we always have a great time together.

I suggested that we lunch at Fat Oma because it was on my TO TRY list. My friends haven’t tried it either, so it was a win-win situation for us. I got Iga Balado (beef ribs with chunky sambal sauce, tofu and tempeh) and went with the spicy option. I thought I could handle it but I was wrong.

The spiciness builds up over time and as I reach the end of my meal, I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. Having something so spicy numbs the tongue and I couldn’t really taste the meat. Also, the bones were big and I got a big piece of fat. That said, those were the only negatives. Otherwise, I like what I had.

 

Week 4

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Have you heard of Weet-Bix? It’s considered as ‘Australia’s No. 1 breakfast cereal’My brother introduced this to me and I’m glad that he did. Unlike the typical cereal, Weet-Bix is high in fiber, iron and Vitamins B1, 2 and 3. The best part? It’s low in sugar and fat! R says it tastes like cardboard but I beg to differ. If you eat it with just milk, obviously it’ll be bland. But when you add raisins, nuts, cinnamon powder and a small amount of natural honey, you’ll bound to have a bowl of healthy and yummy breakfast!

Besides milk, I like to eat them with yogurt. I break the bars into small pieces and then add the yogurt and all the other things I usually include in my oatmeal. If you find this in your country, give it a go! Trust me, it’s definitely the healthier option when it comes to breakfast cereal (Want proof? Compare the sugar levels!).

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I first tasted mango sticky rice when I was in Thailand about 15 years ago. I remember sharing it with my family and we all loved it. I was so excited when one of my friends mentioned that she recently had this at the Night Noodle Market. I sent a text to R and we decided to go on Thursday.

Four other friends joined us and we went on a crazy food adventure. R and I started dinner with mango sticky rice. I know, I know…we don’t do entree, main and then dessert. Anything goes!

Despite being Chinese, I have this weird love for baos. R loves them too so we got some from Wonderbao (featured photo). The buns were incredibly soft and fluffy and they come with three different filings: spicy Korean chicken, eggplant and pork belly. The last two are my favorite! Spicy Korean chicken tend to be sweet rather than spicy.

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We walked around, saw Messina and went straight for another round of dessert. Everything looks so good that we had a lot of trouble deciding. In the end, R and I went with Turron Not, which consists of deep fried banana and brown sugar gelato, wrapped in filo pastry, with Ube cream, kalamansi puree and coconut crunch. Yeah, it’s like the unicorn in the ice cream world…and it was delicious!

The last dish we had was some good old Japanese stir fried noodles. We both thought it was average. For some reason, we didn’t mix the toppings with the noodles so we started off having a really flavorful meal and was left with a really bland one at the end. Silly us.

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This is what I made for the final week of November. More stir fried beans but this time with carrots, chicken drumsticks with miso and Korean chili paste as seasoning. One of the best combinations I came up with!

That’s it! I hope you enjoy seeing and reading all about the food I’ve made and consumed last month. Until then, take care and get excited for Christmas!

Mood #112016

Take a peek at what inspired me in November! I may or may not have sneaked in a few things on my wish list.

Happy Sunday!! What are you plans for today? Will you be doing something new and exciting?

I don’t know about you but as December approaches, I tend to feel demotivated and mentally exhausted. It’s as if a year’s worth of work has finally taken its toll on me and I just want to wait until the new year rolls around to start anything new. Part of me also feel sad when the year comes to an end. It means my loved ones are getting older. There’ll be goodbyes and there’s a lot I have yet to achieve. But that was in the past.

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As I get older, my mindset changes. I feel differently about December and I make goals whenever I feel like it. I try to learn new things and challenge myself. I think about the good things in my life and count my blessings. I’ve made it my mission to treat the people close to me better because life is unpredictable and I don’t know when it’ll be the last time I see them.

And you know what? I’m learning so much about myself! But most importantly, I feel inspired and excited for the future.

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Etsy table setting// Ceramics Project by Oracle Fox

If you’ve seen my October mood board, you’ll notice that I’ve included some images that have been altered using GIMP 2.8. Those were alright but I’ve decided to step up my game (those labelled with * are those that I’ve created using the program).

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Freckles// Katharina Eisenkoeck Mirror Sculpture* 
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Flower// Nancy Lorenz Sculptor Installation*

I’m excited to see what I can create in the future. In the meantime, I want to thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy this one! And please, don’t hesitate to show me some love if you like what you see!

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Yan Yan Chan // Nicole Wermers Chair Series*
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Yan Yan Chan
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Mariel B.’s work as featured in Rookie’s November Collages.