Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tao Bao Shopping

I recently ordered a shipment from Taobao through 65daigou, so I thought I'd share my loot!

This is the 2nd time I've ordered from Taobao. The first time, I used SG Shop and it was pretty alright, just that shipping was a little expensive. So this time I tried 65daigou. I didn't calculate exactly how much shipping was, but I think it was a bit cheaper than SG Shop! The collection for 65daigou was quite convenient because there are multiple places where you can pick your parcel up around the island, for free. So instead of paying extra for delivery to my house, I opted to pick up from Dohby Xchange since I was going to be there the next day. Quite impressive that I confirmed at lunch time, and by 6pm I was there collecting the item! Very efficient.

They came in um, plastic bags though.

Here's what I got!

Yes, this married woman only gets excited about home decor stuff or household stuff nowadays. :D

Top left: Bird-themed cushion covers, $12 each. (They're square but I folded them)

Middle: Also cushion covers. Love the colours!!

I've been using the same cushion covers for my sofa for 2 years already. Thought my sofa deserved a change!

Top right: tissue box holders that double up as organizers.

Bottom: Totoro merchandise. Left side is a onesie. Right side is a 3 in 1 pillow, blanket (zipped inside) and hand warmer. The right one is a gift for someone.

Close up of the tissue box organisers. The one at the top left is different from the rest because I wanted something with a longer compartment that could fit my iPad mini/small books for my bedside table.

Before (Bedside table)
After :)
Took so long to assemble this one though! It came in a flat pack and was only $5!

Before (Coffee table)

So much neater and takes up much less space. :)

This one was about $8 each. The larger one for just the tissue (without the organizer part) was $7.

By the way, I took note of the measurements before ordering the designs. Most of the organizers come with smaller tissue compartments for some reason. So the normal cardboard tissue box size won't be able to fit. I had already been using the "soft" kind (not the cardboard boxes) so I made sure the dimensions would fit before ordering.

The 4 cushion covers ($11 each) The colours are sooo pretty! Links here and here. You can opt to buy it with the cushion inside too.

Put them in use already! :)

Hahaha cutesy stuff is not really my thing but this Totoro onesie was too good to resist!!! The best thing is that I found it for $13 only, and it's sooooo soft and comfy! They have many other designs as well. I found it quite strange though that there's a zipper at the uh, butt area, underneath the tail. I don't know what it's for, but I'm not sure I want to... O.o

Lastly, I also got this towel rack that hangs onto the edge of the cupboard door. Got sick of the tea towel sliding down all the time!

However, it doesn't fit very well because the top of my cupboard door is bevelled, so it doesn't sit nicely and is a bit loose. But still usable!

I highly recommend Taobao if you're looking for affordable household stuff or party stuff. I haven't tried the clothes before because I'm not sure of the quality, but I know of people who have bought before! My mandarin is extremely poor, so I'm not confident enough to buy from Taobao directly. These shipping agencies like SG Shop and 65daigou are great because they compile all your Taobao orders (from different merchants), combine them at the warehouse and ship them to you all together. Very simple and fuss free! It's definitely not my last time buying from them :)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Dental Updates

Hello again!

I apologize. I know I said I would be trying to update this space more regularly, but alas, life got in the way. I do update my Dayre about every alternate day though. Because it's on my mobile phone, it's a lot more convenient for updating daily happenings. So do head over if you'd like to see more current updates! My username is "eliztay". 

Anyway, some things have changed since I last posted here. I'm now more than halfway through my 4 year bond! July 2015 marked the start of yet another posting, this time at a hospital. Can't say which one due to social media rules and stuff, but it's been quite a steep learning curve!

For one, we're doing more complex procedures. For all my previous postings, I was doing simple stuff like cleaning, fillings, extractions, and treating kids. Now however, we're doing crowns, bridges, dentures, root canals, etc. And because we're in a hospital, we see more medically compromised patients, or ward patients. It's very common to see dental clearance patients too (i.e. patients who need to be dentally fit before undergoing a GA procedure/radiotherapy/chemotherapy). Not only is the complexity of cases more difficult, the patients are packed very close together and each appointment is not very long! As a result we often over run into lunch/after official working hours. :(

So, if I would have one word to describe my work now, it would be: INTENSE. I'm physically and mentally exhausted after each day! The first 2 weeks were the worst because I wasn't used to it. But it's been a month now and *hopefully* I'm getting better at handling the change. I've also been learning heaps everyday, and I'm very thankful for that!

Another thing that's different: we have to do stay-in calls. What this means is that every day, one of us Dental Officers has to be "On Call". We have to stay overnight in the hospital in case of any emergencies from the A&E department. Now don't be mistaken - this is not for regular toothaches or wisdom teeth. It's for legitimate emergencies like road traffic accidents or children's accidents where the patient has fractured teeth, fracture jaw bones, lacerated lips, etc. Currently, I'm rostered to do about 3 calls a month.

We have a Call Room to sleep in, which is pretty nice. There are very decent toilet and shower facilities too.

Oh and working in a hospital means that we wear scrubs every day! It's good and bad though.

- You don't have to think of what to wear everyday
- Don't even need to iron them (or at least I don't bother). Just wear them straight out of the dryer haha.
- They're comfy!

- I kind of miss wearing my normal clothes! I don't even get a chance to wear the new clothes I buy except on weekends. Some are still sitting in their original packaging.
- We only get 4 sets of scrubs (and we work at least 5 days a week), so that means I have to do the laundry quite often to have a fresh pair of scrubs every day.

Recently, I also went down to visit the NUS Dentistry float. It's orientation period now, and the annual Rag and Flag day is coming up, so all the freshmen and Year 2s are involved. The float period always brings back lots of memories for me - fond or not! I think I mentioned a long time ago (when I was still in dental school) that there are certain "traditions" every year - and this includes the freshies singing the Dental Anthem and the Goodnight Song. While it may seem like a very serious thing when you're actually doing it, when you look back it's actually just all in good fun!

When I went down to visit, I was lucky enough to come at the time when they were singing the songs. Man, I feel old! Can't believe it's been 6 years since I was a freshman.

I'm aware that a few dental students/applicants have come across my blog. Some who emailed me for help regarding the MDT and interview this year updated me to say that they did get accepted. Maybe you might spot your face here? Haha.

Whoops, 1st guy in red singlet got distorted because he was moving when I was taking the panorama shot.

Met some girls from the Year 2 class who have read my blog (thanks if you still do!) and they made my day! It was great chatting with them and it was comforting to know that they found some of my old blog posts helpful. They requested to take a photo after that, so if you're reading, hello! :)
The most popular thing that people come to my blog for is the MDT, and I understand that this year some of the components were different. If any of you students are reading this, I would really appreciate if you could email me a photo of how the wire figure and soap carving look like, so that I can update my posts for the benefit of future applicants. I'll be sure to credit you! :)

Looking back, dental school was tough, but ultimately if you work hard and persevere, you'll get through it. When I was in school, I always had to remind myself that while I have to be a responsible student, there's more to life than just grades and competencies, and who is faster than who. At the end of the day, everyone who passes graduates with the same status as each other; and whether you passed your whichever competency on the first/second/third try really doesn't matter! 

For me personally, even as I work now, I am reminded of the truth that I am a Christian who happens to be a dentist; not a dentist who happens to be a Christian. And my identity shapes my priorities, which shapes how I choose to spend my time, energy, and money. This means that I'm not particularly concerned/interested about "career advancement". Not that I am irresponsible at work, but that when I'm not working, I put my interests in other more valuable things, like going for bible study, deepening relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, etc. I know this may not be a popular concept in today's materialistic society and may not sit well with some people. But that is how I'm trying to live, in the light of God's big picture. 

Wow, I don't know how a simple update turned into these few paragraphs! But I hope this has been an encouragement to some, or even just thought provoking to others. Till next time. :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I bought a Philips Airfryer!

So at the start of this month, I finally bought an airfryer. I say "finally" because I had actually been thinking about it for awhile and I had been looking at reviews online as well.

Some of my considerations were -

- Doesn't use oil, so it's supposedly "healthier"
- It can make food taste like it's deep fried in minutes!
- Pan frying certain food can make the kitchen very oily sometimes. An airfryer can contain it so you have less cleaning to do.
- Much faster than using a normal oven
- Very easy to use

- Expensive, especially in the case of Philips. It can cost more than $500!
- Bulky and takes up alot of precious counter top space in the kitchen
- It can be a bit of a hassle to clean (I tackle this by placing aluminium foil under the food when I expect there to be alot of oil or "juice")

There was a Mayer roadshow near my church recently, and I think the airfryer was less than $100. I searched for reviews on it, but there were surprisingly few. All the reviews were on the Philips airfryer, which everyone seems to be raving about!

And then just a few weeks later, we stumbled on a Philips roadshow at Vivo when we were there catching a movie (I think it was Fast and Furious 7). And lo and behold, they had this airfryer on sale for $209 (U.P. $409) - that's nearly half price!!

So after seeking approval from the husband, I decided to get it, since it was such a good buy.

The model is HD 9220. It's one of the older models and uses an analogue dial for the temperature and time (so it's not as accurate), but otherwise it's exactly the same as the newer models, which use a touch screen instead.

The newer touch screen model (of the same size) was going for $399. The larger touch screen model was selling for $439.

So I reckon that $209 was quite a steal right? The touch screen model was $200 more for the same size! I was so excited about it that I thought to myself "What an aunty I've become!" lol.

Anyway, we were given a foldable mini trolley to bring the airfryer home, which was a very nice touch. A few days later, I set it up in my kitchen and started experimenting!

Here it is sitting pretty on my counter top. Managed to JUST squeeze it in next to my toaster and it's even kind of matching my Philips kettle! As you can tell, it's quite bulky, but after a month of using it, I can tell you it's totally worth it.

Here are some dishes that I've tried with the air fryer so far!

1) I'll start of with my absolute favourite recipe: Air Fried Crabstick Strips.

This is SO GOOD I tell you. The first time I made it, Wallace and I devoured the whole packet in minutes. Since then, I've made it another 2 or 3 times. It's so easy and delicious! Best of all, it doesn't use much oil.

I used a packet of Dodo chilled crabsticks that costs $2.10 from NTUC

Remove the crabsticks from their individual plastic sheaths, and unroll them and peel them into strips of about 1cm. This is the most time consuming part.

Then, toss them in 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil. This is to help them crisp up better.

Preheat the airfryer at 160 deg C for 3 minutes. Then place the strips in the airfryer (I did it in 2 batches for 1 packet of crabsticks) for 12 minutes. I will usually take them out to toss every 4 minutes to make sure they don't stick together.

And tada! Perfectly crispy crabstick strips that are sooo addictive, especially when they're fresh!

2) Spam Fries

This is about half a can worth of spam, and it was super simple. Just cut into strips, toss in the air fryer at 160 deg C, turn them halfway, and voila! Done in a jiffy. I've had 2 cans of luncheon meat sitting in the kitchen for MONTHS because I wanted to try making them. But before I got the air fryer, I was a bit hesitant to try because I knew a lot of oil had to be used. But now, not a problem! I overcooked these a little, so next time I'll reduce the cooking time to 8 mins instead of 10.

3) Black pepper chicken chop and broccoli.

I love the pre-marinated black pepper chicken from NTUC, and it's so convenient. Usually when I pan fry this, the oil splatters EVERYWHERE and I have to dodge the flying oil explosions and resort to holding my tongs with an oven mitt for added protection, while standing at arm's length. LOL. The colour of the air fried chicken chop was lighter than usual, but much less oily! The skin was still crispy, and the usual layer of fat under the skin had mostly rendered off. 

This took about 15 mins at 180 deg. The chicken is pretty oily so I'll usually put a layer of foil underneath to prevent the oil from dripping down.

The broccoli took 6 mins and was nice and crunchy. I actually liked the "chao ta" bits at the tips haha. A quick alternative to steaming/boiling cos I just dumped it in with the chicken at the same time.

4) Cheese Toast

Just shred some cheese and sprinkle black pepper over bread, and pop it into the airfryer at 200 deg for 4-5 minutes. The cheese was perfectly browned. Very fast and simple. Good idea for a quick breakfast? Gotta work on the presentation though haha. Sorry was just experimenting so didn't do a very proper job. Oh remember to put foil under the bread for this, because when the cheese melts and runs it might get a bit messy!

5) Breaded Chicken Tenders

This is a crispy healthy dish that uses minimal oil. It can be a snack or a meal on its own!

Cut up strips of chicken breast and coat them in flour (season the flour with salt and pepper first)
Next, dip them into a beaten egg.
Then coat them with  breadcrumb mixture (I used panko breadcrumbs mixed with olive oil)
They should look something like this.
Preheat the air fryer for 3 mins to 170 degC. Then place the chicken in for 10 mins. 
I managed to squeeze everything into the basket so I didn't have to cook 2 batches!
Cook until golden brown!

6) Tau Kee (fried beancurd skin)

This is also one of our favourites. It may not look like much, but once you airfry the tau kee (it comes with fish paste inside), it becomes light and cripsy and so delicious! I've only found this Bobo brand at NTUC so far. Not sure whether other supermarkets have them? They're usually found at the yong tau fu ingredients/fishball/tofu section. It's a tad pricey (1 tray has 5 pieces for $2.10) but it's too good to pass!

This was 2 trays (10 pieces) strategically placed in the airfryer haha

I've also done smoked duck breast (from frozen to cooked), fried tau gua, toast, and normal chicken breast with the airfryer. There are loads of airfryer recipes available online and there's even a free recipe book from Philips USA here. I'm aware that you can even bake with the airfryer, but I've yet to try that out. 

*Edit: To use foil or not?
I've tried with and without, and yes there is a difference! Without foil, the excess oil can drain from the basket to the tray below. The food usually ends up crispier and less oily. BUT it's also more messy and you almost always have to wash the components each time you use it. With foil, the food is sometimes not as crispy, and more oily. BUT it's much neater and you can usually get away with just wiping the air fryer with paper towels instead of washing everything (unless your foil tears and the juices leak out lol). By the way, the instruction manual says NOT to use foil because it affects the heat penetration, which I think is true.

So I normally use foil because I'm lazy to wash. I lay it on top of the mesh (not below, in the tray). Also, note that for foods which are quite light (as in weight wise), you might have to put a small metal rack over it to prevent the food and the foil from flying and getting caught in the air vents. For example, if it's just 1 piece of white bread, I find that it usually flies around, so I'll put the rack.

Something like this

Wallace and I absolutely LOVE the airfryer. It's by far our favourite kitchen appliance now and we use it exclusively every time we cook, if we can help it. It's just so fast and convenient, and clean up is minimal (if you place a foil underneath). It's really idiot proof too. Just place the food in, turn 1 knob to set the temperature (usually you can just estimate) and turn a second knob to set the time, and then you wait. It's so easy! Wallace has to settle lunch for himself when he works from home sometimes, and he is REALLY lazy when it comes to cooking for himself. Even if there's some pre-marinated meat in the fridge already, he'd be too lazy to take out a pan and fry it and would rather eat junk food/canned tuna. But after teaching him how to use the airfryer, he can prepare something simple for lunch and doesn't have to resort to junk food! Haha. At first I had to convince Wallace to let me buy the airfryer; and now he SWEARS by it. He tells me jokingly, "See, I told you we should get the airfryer!" *rolls eyes*

So, I would definitely recommend the airfryer if you have enough space in your kitchen. My only gripe is that the capacity is a bit small, so sometimes I have to cook the food in batches because it can't all fit in the tray. But that's because I bought the smaller version which was cheaper. If you bought the more expensive, bigger model, I'm sure this would be less of a problem! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Common questions when applying for NUS Dentistry

*Update (17 March 2016): This year, I've heard that the faculty is making some changes to the MDT and Interview. The MDT will be 2 hours long instead of 3 hours. Also, instead of a panel of interviewers, Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) will be conducted. According to the faculty website, "The MMIs comprise a circuit of stations which could include an interview or performance of a specific activity.  These stations aim to examine the applicants’ interest in Dentistry and if they suitably display attributes oral health care professionals should espouse."

Let me say first that I am not (and have never been) involved in the application/interview/test process in ANY way whatsoever. The information I have about this year's changes are only from the faculty website,so I'm just as clueless as you are! 

I know I've posted in depth about the MDT and Interview before but that was just my own experience 5 years ago as a fellow applicant. Evidently, things have changed since then. I'm an "oldie" now so it would probably be better to talk to a current dental student who's in touch and up-to-date with all this information!

The A Level results were released recently, which means... application season for NUS Dentistry is here again! (Which explains the emails I've been getting over the past week)

If you're here looking for information about it, I assume you would have already visited the faculty's website, and you already know how the basic process is like. You apply, a few hundred are chosen for the interview and MDT, then they choose 54 people. (In my year it was 48!)

I know there's already some information on my blog about it, but let me just make a disclaimer that, to be honest, I'm not even the best person to ask because I went through the same application process as all of you and I don't know what goes behind the selection process, what the "cut-off point" is, what helps or what doesn't! I'm just a normal person who had the privilege of getting a spot, and these are just some of my observations.

So here are some common questions that I've been getting, and I hope that what you see here is helpful!

What is the cut-off point?
I'm sorry to say: I don't know. It depends on your competition fellow applicants and how well they've done. Even if you didn't get a perfect score, no harm applying right? I have classmates who didn't get all As, and they got in.

Any tips or advice on the MDT (Manual Dexterity Test)?
The test is 3 hours long, so pace yourself and give yourself enough time for each segment. You can do it in any sequence you like.

1) Wire-bending
You will be given a certain length of wire (enough for at least 2 tries) and a wire cutter. You have to bend the wire according to the shape drawn on the paper (it can be a "Z" or W" or "S" or a combination). The bending is done with your hands. One of the most important things is to keep the wire flat, such that when you place it on the table, it should sit flat (i.e. parts should not be raised off the table).

The thickness of the wire is similar to this

2) Tooth moulding
You will be given some plasticine and a model of a lower first permanent molar. You have to replicate the model with the plasticine. It should be the same size as the model (about half a fist) and it does not include the roots (just the crown). Note the anatomy - the bulges, the grooves, the "hills and valleys". It's not just a flat piece of playdough!
Please ah, this one anybody can practice at home, so please do. From all the peeking at the entries over the years, the most laughs come from the tooth moulding. Some really.. cannot make it la. If your tooth looks like a toilet bowl, I think you might want to reconsider...

View from the top
View from the side (the test does not include the roots) 

3) Carving a soap block
It used to be plaster of paris, but recently they changed it to soap instead. I can't remember whether you're given a Lecron carver or a wax knife, but whatever the case, you have to carve a "diamond within a diamond". Tips include getting your lines straight and your angles 90 degrees.

Wax Knife

Diagram of a "diamond within a diamond". Credits to my junior for this drawing.

Any advice for the interview? How can I prepare for it?
Prepare all the expected questions like: why do you want to do dentistry, what are some of your hobbies, what will you do if you don't get into NUS Dentistry, what's your second choice and why, etc. But that being said, be prepared to be thrown any type of question. Interviewing hundreds of applicants can become kind of boring for the interview panel, so sometimes they like to give random questions (e.g. philosophical or current affairs related). It would be good to know who is interviewing you too, as most of the interviewers are important faculty staff. Go to the website and get to know the important faces. Have a read through the faculty's vision statement, values, etc as well, just to be safe. When you go for the interview, obviously don't be late and dress appropriately. Be confident, but try not to cross the line of being cocky or arrogant. For example saying, "I believe I should have no problem handling the requirements of dental school.". Talk to anyone of us who have been through it. If any of us had "no problem" at all, I would kowtow to him and erect a statue in his name. Pfft. If it were such a breeze, why do you think it's so hard to get a place?

Is job shadowing/observation necessary? 
It's not compulsory, but it would be helpful. Not just to let the panel know that you're serious about it, but also for yourself - to see what a day in the life of a dentist is like and to better understand what you're signing up for.

Are leadership roles or extra-curricular achievements necessary?
Not really. I mean it certainly does look impressive on a CV, but I don't think it plays a very big factor in the final decision.

Why did you choose to be a dentist?
Updated post on Why I Chose Dentistry here.

Ok that's all I can think of for now. Do check out the faculty's FAQ page for some helpful information, or you can email them as well. All the best :)