Week 3 + Week 4 ✔️

Week 3:  September 12 2014

I didn’t lose much weight this week,instead I gained 1kg of lean muscle! 😱

So, now under 20% body fat, having lost 1.3% body fat, currently  standing at 19.4% in week 3.

In body-building, that’s a good thing – ‘cos for each kg of lean muscle built, one burns an extra 444 calories a day.  But I’m still living in ‘normal’ people’s worlds – entrenched in what the scales say and obsessing over lower numbers each time I on the scales! Duh!  I’m disappointed, anyway…

My training is going well – pushing hard, training 5 times a week.  Lots of squats – an exercise I’ve stopped doing for the past 4 years since I fractured my hip bone.  I’m slowly warming to squats after learning the breathing techniques, and I must say, I’m starting to enjoy it!  Good news for my booties!

Gameplan for the week ahead:  Tightening up my diet by reducing sugar free lollies, sauces to pep up my meals, diet cokes…. basically reducing eating empty hidden calories..

I’m also test-driving my new dessert treat - coconut oil mixed with nut butter (raw nuts blitzed in a high-power blender). I’m going to eat 2 tablespoons of it after dinner as a treat.

Until next week… xx

Week 4:  September 22 2014

The past week, I got a new nutritional plan so am consuming 6 meals a day!  Wowsers!  I’m constantly cooking and stuffing myself silly.  Being a glutton is NOT pleasurable at all, it’s a painful chore!!  Up to date, I’ve lost a grand total of 6.1% body fat, standing at 18.5% body fat.  Still a long way to go – like, 8%-9% body fat to cut!  My goal is 57kg at 10% body fat!

Gameplan for the week ahead:  Ditch all sugar-free fizzy drinks (am drinking 3 diet cokes per day…)

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My cheat treat on Saturday: A man-sized bag of crisp, a bottle of Pinto Gris (yes!) and some Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream

PS:  In case you are wondering if I’m doing some cheesy poolside bikini comp, here’s the epitome of the bikini athletes.  Watch the distraction here:

Quaffs: Chinese Wine – Grace Vineyard

Did you know that China is the 2nd largest grape-producing country in the world after Italy?  Come to think of it, there’s lots of sun-dried sultanas from Xinjiang Province! 😉

And for those in Hong Kong, do you remember that red wines were served with ice-cubes – yes, with ice-cubes – maybe 15 years ago??  Cringe you may, but yes, you were once country-bumpkins too!

Anywaz, I was invited to a wine tasting event organised by an investment fund company.  There were over a hundred wines and hard liquors to sample, but I was intrigued by a Chinese wine producer so decided to spend my liquor quota there.  Grace Vineyard was founded in 1997 by a Chinese man, C.K Chan together with his French friend, Sylvain Janvier in Shanxi province. Their first vintage was produced in 2001.  The wine emulates the French Bordeaux style, with the first vine cuttings imported from Bourdeaux, France.

Deep Blue is the company’s flagship wine.  Bright, clear crimson-purple with 74% cabernet sauvignon, 21% merlot and 5% cabernet franc, the wine has clear expression of red and black currant fruits.  It has been matured in French oaks – and maybe a bit tannic/oaky for some.  Light and medium-bodied, and very quaffable.

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Grace Vineyard Deep Blue

Grace Vineyard with Torres, ‘Symphony Series’ is a white wine.  It is a ‘beginner’s table-wine’.  Aromatic with melons, peaches and light floral notes; it is refreshing with crisp acidity but ‘too flat’  for me… akin to a cheap Jacob Creek’s table wine…

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Grace Vineyard with Torres, ‘Symphony Series’

Voted one of the Top Wines from China, Grace Vineyard’s Chairman’s Reserve is a lighter-styled Bourdeaux.  It has clear bright medium ruby colour.  The nose is predominately youthful plum fruits, red cherry, ripe blackcurrants with noticeable toasted oak scents. There is some herbaceous blackcurrant leaf combined with a medicinal aromas too. This wine is still developing – to be enjoyed in perhaps  4-5 years time?

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Grace Vineyard Chairman’s Reserve (HKD350)

Interested to know more?  Check out the wine interview by ‘Nicely Made In China’ with Judy Leissner, the CEO of Grace Vineyard, daughter of the owner, here.

Week 2 ✓!

Date:  September 5 2014

Week 2 ticked.  Not a good week at all because I only lost 1.6% body fat this past week.  Grr…very, very annoying. I shall blame it on the weather – and boredom.  I snacked on a few extra almonds and brazils nuts on top of my allowance on my nutrition plan.  Coach’s advice was to eat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or nut butter after dinner to keep the cravings away…  Anyway, the cold weather has gotten so bad that I climb into my electric blanket at 8:30pm! 😅

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9g of Macadamia nuts are in fact 3 macadamia nuts!

Good news is, tomorrow, I am allowed a cheat meal.  So I’m going to have a huge bag of chips and a cherry ripe chocolate bar after dinner!

Here’s David Jones’ Annual Spring Flower Show currently showing in the City Store.  Enjoy!

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Quaffs: Portugese Wines – Casa Ferreirinha

We celebrated a friend’s birthday a while back. The birthday gal chose a dinner party at Casa Lisboa, a Portuguese restaurant in LKF, Hong Kong.  Since this is a Portugese restaurant, the wine menu has a few pages of Portugeuse wines.  Well, for the uninitiated, Portuguese wines uses different wine varietals – so it’s not like ordering a merlot, cab sav or shiraz!

So high time to take out my wine tasting notes from my wine masterclass!

Casa Ferreirinha is the producer of the iconic Barca Velha – one of the most prestigious still wine in Portugal, as well as one of the rarest wines from the Douro Valley  (akin to Grange from Penfold’s in Oz!).

The Douro Valley in Northern Portugal is one of the most beautiful wine region in the world.   The grandiose landscape of the steep-terraced vineyards valley is upheld by the schist mountains – imagine an unpolished granite mountain rising above the majestic ribbon of water (Douro River) far below.

An interesting thing to note about Portuguese wines is that they are all blended wines from  3,4 or 7 wine varietals.  There is no single varietal.   This is to ensure the continuity of the wine production in case a vine of single varietal fails.

Casa Ferreirinha Planalto White Reserva has a bright hue with greenish hints.  Slight minerally notes with bursts of citrus and white fruits (melon and pear) which gives a clean, refreshing palate in a long delicate finish.

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Planalto White Reserva

CF Vinha Grande White also has a bright yellow hue with greenish hints.  There is a prevalence of white fruits such as pear and melon on the nose as well as a discreet french oak bouquet with floral tea accents.  A white of fine acidity and structure, finishing long and complex.

Best with: Bigger more flavoursome dishes e.g. Fish Bacalao or Chicken with cream

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Vinha Grande White

Vinho Tinto =  Red Wine (in Portuguese) 😉

The main varietal in CF Esteva Tinto is Tempranillo with 35% Tinta Roriz.  

It is a fruity raspberry plum wine with a nose of floral violets.  It is a popular wine and can be found everywhere in Portugal.  It is best drunk young.  I love the gentle attack on the palate and especially its nose.  Of lower price point but without compromising on fine structure and quality tannins.  This is definitely a highly recommended quaff! 👍

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Esteva

CF Vinha Grande Tinto was first released in 1960s.  It has 35% Touriga Franca.

Deep ruby hue with an intense bouquet of mulberry and red currant.  It has floral notes of rock rose supported by cedar and tobacco.  This is a plummy wine with discreet oak.  It has undergone stainless steel fermentation then aged in French oak for 12 months ensuring a lively acidity and long firm finish.  Ready to drink in 4-5 years and can be cellared for up to 10 years.

Best with: Meat, cheese, flavoursome pasta

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Vinha Grande

In 1997, the company introduced a new wine into the market : CF Quinta da Leda Tinto.  It is made from 50% Touriga Nacional (the best varietal in Portugal), 10% Tinta Roriz for structure, 40% Franca. It has an intense ruby hue with a palate of ripe red fruits of strawberries and raspberries.  The complex bouquet has a prevalence of floral notes especially violet.  Obvious oaky tannins ensuring a long harmonious finish and longetivy.

Best with: Duck

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Quinta da Leda

Hiking: Chilling Out @ Tai O Infinity Pool

Date Of Visit:  June 26 2014

The Tai O Infinity Pool used to be one of the best kept secret in Hong Kong until recently.  I was extremely appalled to read from online news feed that the pool is now officially a ‘garbage pool’ littered by selfish hikers and campers!  This is totally outrageous – hikers should leave no traces of their visits to the natural environment - so take away your rubbish, please!

Tai O is an old fishing village in Hong Kong,  and often referred to as ‘Venice of the East’.

We caught Bus #11 from Tung Chung Bus Terminus.  There’s a bus departing every 30minutes – and it fills up fast.  The scenic journey takes around 40minutes.

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Fishing boats and gorgeous waters

To get to the Infinity Pool, one simply has to walk along the boardwalk then turn to the right at the very end of the boardwalk, then continue walking on the path for 45 minutes.  The path is easy to walk and rather well shaded (but I still got sun-burnt! 😬 )

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Pink Boardwalk

But beware of the huge spiders, though!

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Massive Spider busy spinning its web

The Infinity Pool is an abandoned water dam.   To the delights of the hikers, the cold waters are a welcoming delight to refresh after a longish hike! But shhh…it’s not actually legal to swim in it!  😬

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Old Water Dam

The Tai O infinity Pool is also called the Man Cheung Po Infinity Pool.  The waterfall is liken to a 10,oo0 foot piece of cloth falling from the sky – literal Cantonese translation.  It’s a pretty oasis of half natural and half man-made, surrounded by waterfalls .

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Waters from the waterfall can run very fast especially after rains.

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There are 2 pools. A natural pool on the top, and a man-made pool at the bottom.

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View from the main pool, higher up

Catchment pool at the bottom aka Infinity Pool.

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During the weekends, the pool can be overly crowded with people.  But today?  It was empty.  The 3 lucky ladies had the whole pool all to ourselves!  And it was a perfectly lovely day too!

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Me

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Me again…

Let’s hope the litter situation improves… Be considerate folks!  Take away your litter!  Litterbugs are not welcomed!  Jitterbugs are! 😉

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Spring Is Coming!💃Time to Learn Photography! 📷

Date of Visit: August 31 2014

“This August has been the wettest and coldest month on record since 1998.  The average temperature is 9C (where historically it has been 17C)…” ,rattled this off the news I watched last night. 😎

Today being the last day of winter and the first time in a long while I see the sun poking out from behind the clouds, I went to Royal Botanical Gardens to do my photography assignment.  Yes, I’ve finally decided to learn photography!  3 hours per Saturday for 5 weeks.   I’ve been editing too many crappy pictures from my summer trip - extremely disappointing –  that I reckon I should learn the technical aspects of handling a camera – pronto!

Being a sunny Sunday, there were a lot people armed with huge cameras blasting away.  Weighing in with my share… tulips, tulips and more tulips…

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Grr… is it my camera or my photography skills?  I’m trying to capture the birds, by the way.

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One of our assignment was to bracket the pictures to see the different exposures… Still playing around with my camera and discovering the many hidden functions it has!  Thrills!

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Well, let’s see if my photography skills improves!  Meanwhile a toppled tree which I find very artistic -which also reminds me of the upside-down tree in our old architecture faculty building in uni…  Meanwhile, my instagrams ain’t look too shabby - check me out here!

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Dracaena from Canary Islands. It produces resin for violin varnish. This tree is over 100 year old!

Cronuts and Sweet Stuffs @Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  June 5 2014

As far as fads go, cronut is so yesterday, but I finally tried my very first cronut in Kuala Lumpur in Cafe Marco at Shangri-La Hotel (wa..aay back in June!)!

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Cronuts in Cafe Marco, Shangri-La Hotel

Cronut™ is a trademarked creation of Chef Dominique Ansel in New York, described to be a croissant-doughnut hybrid where the pastry is made by frying laminated dough in grape seed oil, which is then sugared, filled, and glazed.  Launched on May 10, 2013, it became the most virally talked about pastry in history – from New York to Hong Kong and to Australia!

As the cute pictogram shows, a Cronut = Croissant + Doughnut.  Translated: Flaky layers of pastries (i.e.croissants) but round in shape with a hole in the middle (i.e doughnuts).  This deep-fried cholesterol clogging villain is named by TIME Magazine as one of the “25 Best Inventions of 2013″ in December of 2013!

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Cafe Marco makes different flavours each day.  I tried a couple, but did not really like them.  The cronuts were very greasy, soaking through the layers with oil.   Also, not a good choice for breakfast at all… but hey, at least I’ve ticked cronuts off my list!

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Apple Pie Cronut

There’s also the Cronut Brownie… In fact, let imagination run, many flavours can be concocted!  

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Cronut Brownie

The traditional me still prefer an almond croissant anytime!

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The sugar sculptures for cake-toppers on display are very cute and pretty to look at, but I bet they cost an arm and a leg.

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Up Up Away

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Pinocchio

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Faraway Tree