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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blossoms of Our Love

If this look very familiar to you, look no further. I like my blog template so much that I used it as a basic idea for my stitches. I stitched those stitches onto our fleece blanket. It is supposed to be a present from me to us for our anniversary. But then I changed my mind and got us a print of our picture with our love song on it, using the idea here.

My husband and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary this month, Alhamdulillah. Funny thing is I always feel like we have just got married. Most of the times when people ask when did we get married, my instant answer is 'last year'.

I am not a marriage expert but through the three years so far, I have learned few things which I believe keep the flame, romance whatever you want to call it alive.

1- Perform salat in jamaah (this include reading the Quran together as well)
~After the salat, hug each other. Let's say I'm somehow in one of my sulking moods (merajuk), the salat itself and of course the hugging help to resolve things.

2- Hugs (& kiss) each other before going out to work.

3- If there is any disagreement, I try to cool it down first before talking to him about it. You know how irrational we can be when we are angry, right? I am sort of proud to say that we've never raised our voice towards each other. 90% of the credits must go to my husband; he is very patient and collected. Myself too has become a patient person.

Anyway, if you have other tips on marriage, I would like to know it. I would love to hear it from others who have been married far longer than we are.

I'm linking this post to Tea Rose Home link party. Pay a visit to her blog and I'm very sure you'll fal in love with things she makes :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Muffin Pisang dan Cip Coklat

Saya buat muffin ni minggu lepas. Saja buat untuk makan sewaktu sarapan atau minum petang. Tak adalah setiap hari sarapan bertema roti je. Saya rujuk resepi di Epicurious. Salah satu yang menarik saya untuk merujuk resepi di laman web Epicurious ni ialah komen-komen yang jujur dari orang-orang yang pernah mencuba sesuatu resepi itu.

(Untuk 12 biji muffin)
1 1/2 cawan tepung naik sendiri (resepi asal guna tepung serbaguna, tapi saya tak ada)
2/3 cawan gula
1 1/2 sudu teh baking powder
1/4 sudu teh garam
1 cawan pisang yang telah dilenyek(saya gunakan 3 biji pisang saiz sederhana)
1 biji telur (saiz besar)
1/2 cawan mentega yang dicairkan(seeloknya unsalted butter)
1/4 cawan susu segar
1/2 cawan cip coklat(resepi menggunakan 3/4 cawan)

Cara Memasak:
1- Panaskan oven pada suhu 350F atau gas aras 4.
2- Aturkan cawan muffin ke dalam acuan.
3- Campurkan bahan-bahan kering: tepung naik sendiri, gula, garam dan baking powder dalam mangkuk besar.
4- Dalam mangkuk yang lain, gaul sebati bahan basah: lenyekan pisang, telur, mentega cair dan susu.
5- Masukkan bahan campuran bahan basah ke dalam campuran bahan kering. Kaup balik adunan hingga elok-elok je bergaul (just until blended). Masukkan dan gaul cip coklat ke dalam adunan.
6- Tuang adunan ke dalam cawan muffin hingga 3/4 penuh. Kalau lebih sikit dari 1/2 penuh pun ok jugak. Tak perlu gris.
7- Bakar selama 32 minit. Kalau dah masak, permukaan muffin akan berwarna keperangan. Cucuk dengan lidi, jika lidi yang ditarik keluar bersih dan ada melekat coklat cair, maknanya dah masaklah tu.
Selamat Mencuba :D

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My 1st year PhD evaluation

Those scribbles are the questions the panels asked during the viva.

Here in Newcastle University, some call it first year viva and some call it Panel Progression Interview. This is the definition of viva from

(in British and European universities) an oral examination; viva voce.
Origin: 1890–95; shortened form

After a year of studying and working on our research, all of us PhD students have to go through an interview session which is set up to mimic the real viva. I submitted my report on the week before the Christmas and New Year break. I was expecting for my viva to take place somewhere in January but somehow it got pushed to late February. So other tasks plus stuff to do kind of take up my priority. Of course I do not forget about the viva, it just got pushed to the back of my mind.

Then mid of second week of February, I received an e-mail informing me about the viva and its details. The possible outcomes of the viva are:
1-Candidate is passed for progression with no further work
2-Candidate is passed subject to completion of a further task
3-Candidate is asked to rewrite and resubmit the report for a further viva
4-Candidate is recommended to write up report for MPhil qualification rather than PhD
5-Candidate is not allowed to progress

Alright, NOT ALLOWED TO PROGRESS? That's really set my worry alarm on. To date, there have never been anyone from my school to fail. So I don't want to make history. Two days prior to my viva, I went to see my supervisor to discuss my current work and also to discuss about the viva. I let her know that I'm actually quite nervous and her advice is, "Nor, this is where you build your confidence. You know your work."

So armed with the confidence that I. KNOW.MY.WORK., I face that day with all the bravery I can mustered. I tried not to be nervous but my heart was pumping faster than usual. The viva started with self introduction by both of the panels. Then I introduced myself and talked about my research for about five minutes. Yes, you read right, 'talk'. No need for Power Point presentation whatsoever.

The worst was during the viva; I was so nervous (this is what one of the panels told me a day after the viva) to the point where I cannot recall a lot of information in order to answer the panels questions. Both of the panels are lecturers within the school and they are nice. I mean nice as in they do not look fierce or arrogant and they tried to make me feel comfortable. As they said at the start of the viva, "We will try to make this as FRIENDLY as possible." Some of their questions were answered with "I'm sorry, I cannot recall." The whole time I was wishing they asked me something I can explain. Obviously they just want to make me aware that I have to remember EVERYTHING that I wrote as they stressed this at the end of the viva. Hemm... a lesson well learnt there.

That are sort the sort of questions (which I have not prepared for because IMHO I thought they are trivial) but that are what the panels were asking.

Also, another lesson well learnt is EVERYTHING I put down in the report/thesis is subjected to questions. Meaning, not just my core work/research will be questioned. Honestly, I wasn't 100%prepared for the kind of questions they asked. I was expecting them to ask about my work but as we go page by page of my report, they asked me about equations and sentences of which I thought are just basics and not as important as my core work.

Oh! I need to mention this. My style of answering some of the questions which I was not sure about is by saying "To my knowledge..." You know, to be on the safe side. The panels adviced me not to use that phrase because that report is my work so I have to speak with authority. So that is lesson number 3. Actually it is hard to speak with authority when you are not sure because your answer may lead to another question which probably will put you in a greater danger of 'I-don't-know-the answer'.

This is one of my returned report. See all those flipped pages? OK, there's where the questions come from. I think just few pages were left unflipped.

The duration of my viva took more than 2 hours. I cannot be grateful enough when one of the panels said that we have to cut it short because he had a meeting to attend to. Truthfully, the viva should last no longer than 1 hour and 30 minutes. At the end of the viva session, the panels asked me if I have anything to say. I just said that I wish I have prepared better and I also wish they had asked me about my core work which I believe I can explain better. One of them asked me if I would like another chance so I said "Yes, if that is possible." They said "We'll see about it." So after 5 dreadful minutes of waiting (5 minutes after the viva session ended), the panels delivered the verdict of my viva. Alhamdulillah I passed but undoubtedly in preparing for my final viva later on, there are areas and things I need to improve and do.

As I walked home that evening, I start wondering and and questioning myself, "What am I doing here? Do I really know what I'm doing?" and all sort of self-doubting questions. By the time I got home I was so depressed, then I cried. Surely I am relief that I passed but I was just so tense and depressed that I need to get it out. Thanks to my husband for lending me his chest and sorry for the tear-streaked shirt.

Anyway, throughout the whole viva process, despite my nervousness and 'forgetfulness', I really think it is a good learning experience. What I like about it is the panels did not ask me questions to degrade or belittle my work. Rather they give constructive critics which will definitely help me in my final/real viva later down the road.

So now, I am already in Year 2 ( macam Darjah 2 gitu). I feel like time is running out and there are massive works to do and stacks of books and journals to read. Ya Allah, please give me the strength to follow through. Aaamin.