Jul 31, 2014

1 'Tis the season for Lemang

It's Lemang  season. What's that, you ask? Lemang is coconut glutinous rice, cooked in a bamboo stick lined with banana leaf, over a fire. Cooking this requires a bit of patience because it involves many hours, but the wait is worth it. This fragrant rice is usually enjoyed with a dollop of dry or thick curry.

Lemang and Rendang Curry

The lemang sellers were out in full force on the second day of Raya. For me, the roadside makeshift stalls were a welcome sight versus the quietness that had consumed the city two days before the Raya celebrations.

Many Malaysians celebrating the festival had gone back to their hometowns. Some chose to make use of the long weekend with a short vacation elsewhere. Us? Machoguy and I spent our time catching up with movies and roaming the far corners of the city for something 'special' to eat. Lemang being one of it, as you can see....and McDonald's. Yep, that happened because it was the only restaurant we could find that was open for business. Don't give me that look, now.  

~~~
On one of the days, we headed into Kajang to see if there were any satay stalls open. The shops were all closed and it was eerily quiet...until we drove into a little transportation hub. The streets were full of people. It was eye-opening to see that most of them were Bangladeshis. Why here, I wondered. I could not see signs of ample job or business opportunities. Aah..perhaps I visit the wrong day.

In one corner, I saw a neat long queue for the bus. I looked on in envy.


I wish we all behaved in the same manner at ticket booths...

~~~

The holidays have come to an end. The city will be bustling again. What's in August? Our National Day celebrations! Flying the flag, yes or no?

Jul 22, 2014

14 Surprise!.....A Prize!

Remember this post - We Roll ... Into Intel's Movie Night, where I had scored a movie ticket to watch Transformers 4 for free? During the event, we were asked to complete a contest form. I don't remember exactly what it was all about, but I recall writing some sort of slogan.

Last Monday, I received a call from Intel around noon. I was still groggy from being woken up. I'd slept at 5am that day.

Oh, don't blast me for staying up so late..or is that early. It was the World Cup Finals! The man of the house sniggered at my commitment. He didn't think I'd be able to stay awake but guess what? The adrenaline rush gave me the boost I needed to keep my eyes open.

Yes, back to the story. The call was to inform me that I'd won a prize! I was really excited about it. Had no idea what I was babbling about and didn't take the address down although it was repeated to me. Then, I went back to sleep. At 4pm, haha, I dialed the number and sheepishly asked for the details again. Sorry, Justin!            

Two days later, I went to collect the prize. I took a friend along and we decided to park by the roadside along with the other cars. It was a traffic free road. Just as we alighted from the car, we got back in again. Drats those pesky DBKL officers. They zoomed in to our corner and started issuing summons. I reparked the car inside the building, before they could get to me. Phew!

Well, this is what I got, a transformers collectible valued around RM200. Probably more, if I had been given a summons *wink*

This isn't just any toy. There's a guide book included to show you how to transform Optimus into a truck. Neat, huh.

Optimus - Transformers

I did watch the movie three times. So, I guess this is reward for being such a good fan? 

 

Jul 14, 2014

8 Floria Putrajaya : The Part 2

The good news this month : DBKL has shaved off approximately a hundred ringgit from our property assessment rate. A penny saved is a penny earned! Who's happy for me?

I'm celebrating it with a post on flowers, the same ones I saw at Floria Putrajaya a month back, plus a couple of neat ideas on home decorating. Both cheerful life events.

Identifying flowers is a bit of a challenge for me. I think these little babies are Asters.
 
Aster Flowers

Below is a beautiful floral sculpture by Brightmark, depicting the green peafowl, which is an endangered bird species. It's one of the best displays at the event.

Brightmark's Green PeaFowl

Brightmark's Green PeaFowl

A row of Marigold Yellow along the way.

Marigold Yellow

The dark red flowers along the road are called Begonias, which is the theme for this year's Floria.

Begonia Red (right, on the floor)
Every corner is a flower feast!

The purple Mona Lavender

This garden showcase (a horse amongst the orchids) was designed by Lawrence Sun from China, who breeds tropical orchids for a living. He is the Standing Vice Chairman of the Hainan Orchid Association and Standing Trustee of Orchid Branch, China Flower Association. What do you think? Neat?

Garden Showcase by Lawrence Sun

See the shutterbugs below? It's very challenging to snap photos during the weekends because of the crowd. That's why it's advisable to visit Floria during the week days.

The sun was really hot that afternoon. So, I moved along faster than I should instead of patiently photographing close-up pictures of flowers.

The Floria Shutterbugs

This white curtained passageway is great for a romantic stroll.

Theme : Romance

I picked up some ideas to decorate my home - Light hanging glassware that can be used to hold small plants. I have the plants, 4 succulents in hand. Now, to find these glasses.

Light Hanging Glassware

Hah! These wooden crates have been recycled to hold flower pots. I don't have wooden crates but I do know what colours I intend to have in my garden.

Recycled Wooden Crates

That's the end of my Floria post, until next year, that is.

Jul 7, 2014

12 We Roll ... Into Intel's Movie Night

We were treated to a movie by Intel Malaysia. It was a token of appreciation for their Facebook fans. How neat is that, but it was limited to the first 200 people who registered for the event. I was one of the blessed few, along with two loved ones.

Each ticket comes with one popcorn and two drinks!

The movie? Transformers : Age of Extinction. It was my third time watching it. Thursday night, Friday morning, Sunday morning! You must think I'm crazy but there is no feeling of boredom when one is in good company.

It all started the week before when my girl friend and I decided to go on a movie date. I informed the man that I was going to watch Transformers with said friend on Friday. Friday, because it was the day Citibank offers a Buy1-Free-1 ticket to all their Clear Card members.

"Sure...." an incredulous look followed, typical of my drama king. I thought nothing further of it.

Within the next instant, however, he was scouring the internet for tickets a day earlier than my date with friend.

"There's no way you girls are watching this movie first! "

Okayyyy...he got one for me too. I was too amused to decline.

The early bird gets the best seat!

That's a little about how I landed myself with three screenings, which I enjoyed thoroughly I must add. It was a lighthearted movie that had me tickled in many instances. The only seat cringing moments would be the scenes that include the teen stars - mostly cheesy. But hey, that's just my personal thoughts on it.

As funny as it sounds, I look out for gems of wisdom in every movie I watch. It's become a habit. I share two lines from the movie here.  

You gotta have faith. Maybe not in who we are, but who we can be.

A quiet man today can be an eloquent leader tomorrow, yes?

There are mysteries to the universe we were never meant to solve, but who we are and why we are here, are not among them. Those answers, we carry inside.


It carries some weight.
 
For the Intel movie event, our tickets came with popcorn, two drinks and a small souvenir (photo below). I was really touched by their generosity and look forward to attending more of their events. It was well organised, from seat allocation to distribution of tickets and goodies.

A fridge magnet that can be lighted up

The free popcorn, sealed in an airtight plastic bag

Well, that ends my Transformers movie run. It was an interesting week!

Jul 1, 2014

18 Flower Power at Floria Putrajaya 2014

I was adamant about making it to the event this year after having missed the last two. This well-known line rings true:

"When you want something badly enough, nothing can stop you...!"

There were many occasions that gave me reason to miss it - visiting-friends, work, the heat wave, an outstation trip for a wedding. But I kept a steady eye on the goal, as with many things in life.

The 'don't-stop-believing' side of gleeful me has fueled a number of achievements that I have, at first, perceived to be unobtainable. As I write this, I laugh at my silly optimism. All this, over a flower fair!

Floria Putrajaya, a flower and garden festival, is a week-long event which is held annually in Malaysia. It showcases international and local talents in floral arrangements, landscaping and art pieces. The activities are organised to ignite a love for plants. This is also a great place to stalk for special plants to buy I'm told, but I really can't tell as I sit under level 'newbie'.

You can read more about Floria at the official website : http://floriaputrajaya.com.my

Check out some of the photos I took on the last day of the event. The place was a flurry of photographing activities - selfies, wefies, groufies. You get the picture.

I love these colourful umbrellas. It provides partial shade from the scorching afternoon sun and adds liveliness to the atmosphere, don't you think?

Pretty shade of umbrellas

The walking path is lined with beautiful fresh flowers.

The purple flower that is Mona Lavender

This garden of pinwheel flowers, its petals swirling at the gust of a wind, is another popular photo-taking spot.

Picture pretty

Smile!

Behold! A ship in a man-made pond with live ducks, and bubbling water for that bit of realistic-ness.

Real ducks in a man-made pond

A majestic entrance for the royal themed park.

Taman DiRaja

As you can tell by now, this is one outing where you should really bring a camera along, but if you do forget to, there's always a photographer nearby for that souvenir shot.

Photographer on duty

I like this piece, but can't tell if it's part of Floria or if it has been there all along. It lists the names of all the parks that are located in Putrajaya. I intend to visit each one!

A Globe listing all of the parks in Putrajaya

I had an exciting day at the Floria festival and hope to return next year. Hopefully, on the first day to witness the grand opening, and preferably stay until late night to see the firework display and catch the lighted floral floats.

This visit spurs me to improve my gardening skills. If they can grow nice flowers and plants in this impossibly hot and smoke-hazy weather, so can I! I paid RM10, went home with four succulents. 


Jun 21, 2014

14 Confessions Of A Frog Who Took A Peek Outside

Katak di bawah tempurung (Frog under coconut shell) is a popular Malay proverb which describes a person who lives in a small world, someone with limited knowledge of what's beyond.

"On the rocks, ma'am? " asked the waiter when I ordered a Bailey's.

"Huh?"  the only word that left my lips as grey stones and brown pebbles flashed through my mind. I wrinkled my nose slowly.

"I mean, with ice, ma'am. "

"Ohhhhh.....! "

Well, that's embarrassing!

Do you recall first moments in your life? Your first bite of a Famous Amos cookie , that time you grazed your car, the first time your guy held your hand? What happened above was one of my firsts. I laugh at myself every time I think about it and go, "Gosh, did that really happen? "

This is me walking down memory lane.

Where I come from (which is a little island far, far away), coffee is a fuss-free drink that has no airs. It is simply served black or with milk. That's as easy as it gets.

The 'coffee queen' is a title reserved for someone who loves drinking black coffee more than once a day. Sorry about that, but there is no glory in being a white-coffee drinker here! Aah...life was uncomplicated then. We were happy just gathering around, sipping our drink, no thoughts on the correctness of coffee preparation or where it came from.

It was only when I moved to the city that I was slapped with the likes of Espresso, Cappuccino, Mocha, Latte. Gone were the days I could just walk in and say, "Kopi-O, satu!" (Black coffee, one!) without sounding like an unpolished old auntie in a regular coffee shop.

So, the first time I walked into Starbucks, I was in a daze and just asked for coffee.

"Which one? "

"AAaaaannnnyyyyy  one....." My eyes darted across the menu. Oh, help me God! It looks like I'm latte when it comes to jumping on the coffee bandwagon. It's an americano thing, no? I'm sure mocha is not a call to buy more cars and espresso is not telling me to be quick in my decision. Macchiato has nothing to do with the mafia, surely!   

If you have been following my blog, you'll know that I'm not big on coffee. While I feel that I've come a long way since my first Frappucino, I long for the good old days when camaraderie took front stage and coffee knowledge stayed a far distance behind.

For the anti-Starbucks folks, there's the more gourmet Illy brand and if you can't afford that, then there's a host of 3-in-1 or 2-in-1 coffee packs sold in supermarkets. Many Malaysians have great love for coffee, whatever kind I believe, and they try to outdo each other too.

"Ah Pek coffee ah, very nice! Drink before? "

"Have you tried this? The latest in the market! Great stuff! " which really translates to "I discovered it first! Hah!"

I have often felt the urge to hand them a trophy for 'Unpaid Employee Of The Month'. Haha-ing that thought!

How this post strayed so much into coffee, I'll never know...slurp. I'm ending this with a little something for coffee newbies. Caf-ay lah-tey, anyone?

An Illustrated Guide to Coffee Drinks
Source: http://visual.ly/illustrated-guide-coffee-drinks

This frog has jumped a step forward.

Jun 12, 2014

10 Penang : The Golden Pagoda Bell Tower

The Golden Pagoda Bell Tower
The Golden Pagoda Bell Tower - there's a feeling of grandeur in its name and this is further reflected in the intricate gold-painted carvings that surround the building.

The tower is located within the vicinity of Dhammikarama, a Burmese Temple founded in 1803, along Jalan Burma.

I had a lot of fun exploring this place. The temple site is well maintained, housing several beautiful religious structures and sculptures, some really small, some huge! The bell tower is a fairly new addition and an interesting one. 

I must warn you that this place draws large tourist crowds, by the way. The best time to visit? When you don't see buses around. It's the best advice I can give, if you know what it's like to have large groups of people circling around, going ooh and aah around you.

And don't get me started on my photo-taking experience. I have occasionally bumped into natural photobombers, the ones who don't even realise their uncanny talent of appearing out of nowhere. Here I am ready to take my shot of this amazing sculpture. My finger is halfway down and poof! I see a family in my snap.

The smiling wife is halfway towards me, "Hello there, would you mind helping us?" whilst handing out her camera.

"Uhh, sure...." I smiled in return. What! No! Yes, I do mind! Grrr, be nice now.

The 4-storey Golden Pagoda Bell Tower was built in 2011 to house marble replicas of ancient Buddhist shrines from 22 countries.

This is what it looks like inside (photo below). At the top of the gold pillar, the word 'ANONYMOUS' is inscribed, for a donor who doesn't want to be named. I've always found that a little weird and if given the opportunity, I would rename 'ANONYMOUS' to 'A Friend '. 

There's a lift at the end. This makes it very convenient for visitors. Penang's humid weather makes taking the stairs a challenge. On a cool day, I wouldn't complain.

Ground Floor - The Golden Pagoda Bell Tower

The marble replicas, an ambitious idea by the chief monk, are displayed in the first two floors. I have a close-up of one.

Marble

The work of Burmese artisans. An amazing piece.

Marble-carved

The view at the top is great. This corner overlooks the temple grounds.

The temple grounds of Dhammikarama

I bet this crow feels on top of the world. It stood confident against the wind and threat of rain.

Aah, a crow

The higher floors of the bell tower hold various religious sculptures.

Kassapa Buddha

Akasind Deva

Statue in front of the tower (left), Kakusanda (on the right)
A little note on the Golden Pagoda Bell Tower.

About Penang's Golden Pagoda Bell Tower


I enjoyed walking around this wonderful place, so this is one stop I would recommend to anyone visiting Penang, especially if they're into religious history.


Jun 6, 2014

12 At the Preview of Avens Residence, Southville City, Bangi

1st June 2014, an SMS about a project preview on the only link homes in Southville City reached me. A dramatic line that called out to my curiosity. We (hubs and I) decided to join the Mah Sing fanfare.

The place is a little difficult to find but nothing that Sara couldn't handle. Sara's what we call our Google Map GPS navigation phone app, by the way.

It was drizzling when we arrived. This did not deter us from exploring the park, which was designed with several water fountains. The garden is gorgeous. Typically designed, but no less a joy to wander.

Water Fountain at Southville City Show Gallery

I waited for the water gushing from this fountain (pictured below) to reach as high as it could before I took this shot. A jogging track surrounds the pond. That's always a plus for me....in case I decide to move out of my sedentary lifestyle and take up running. My friends will go, "Yeah, right," on this one.

Fountain at a pond

Here we are at the very modern-looking show gallery. I think this will make a very nice home design too.



The crowd was so-so at 1PM-ish. We walked right into Dato' Joey Yap's Feng Shui session. He was explaining the merits of owning a square home Feng Shui-wise to the crowd.

Dato' Joey Yap

Below is the show unit for Avens Residence, a 2 1/2-storey and 3-storey link development. What do you think of the facade? I think it's great. I do like balconies, even better if it doesn't face my neighbour's. I am not considering buying a unit for myself. I'm just imagining the possibilities. 

The interior is bare and basic, leaving you full potential to renovate it to your needs.

The location is hardly prime but I believe it will improve once the area is fully developed. From my calculation, that's a lot of years to wait for an old lady.

Avens Residence Show Unit

We left after an hour of checking the place out. I love this open-air archway that leads to the parking lot. It's a neat idea.

An archway with climbing plants

As larger raindrops begin to fall, we hurried to the car. I couldn't resist stopping for a quick snapshot of this artwork, just to show my friend who loves cats a lot.

Kittens

In case you're interested, Avens Residence is tagged at a lofty price close to RM900k.
Website: http://www.southville-city.com

Jun 2, 2014

14 It's Rice Dumpling Day!

Rice Dumpling

To those who are celebrating, I wish you Happy Dumpling Festival! 

It is also known as the Double Fifth Festival because it falls on the 5th day of the 5th month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Some of you may also know it as the Dragon Boat Festival. Dragon boat racing is a customary event that has been held annually for more than two thousand years on this festival day.

If you're curious to know how this event came about, click here --- > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duanwu_Festival.

I've not been to the races but I do have my fill of rice dumplings! We usually buy the ones with fillings of meat, egg yolk and mushroom. This is the first time I'm trying out red bean rice dumplings. It's not bad. Sweetish, of course.

Red Bean Rice Dumpling

Coincidentally, I've been tagged by a friend to snap five photos each day for five days, beginning today. It's a day of fives! I hope my photo skills improve a little after this exercise.... who am I kidding! This is my submission for Day 1:

Rice Dumpling Photo Challenge

Have you had any rice dumpling recently? ...It's not too late to get some! ;)

May 28, 2014

18 Growing Edibles, Gardening Jargon

The first seed of parsley, cili padi (bird's eye chili) and coriander was tenderly stuck into soil months ago. I blogged about it here.

Coriander never saw the light of day.... I'm just being funny, but I am devastated that nothing came out of those seeds because it happens to be my favourite herb. I use bunches of it!

I decided I could wait no longer and planted vegetables over the same patch. It's not that I've given up hope. I am a great believer of miracles, having watch a ton of Disney cartoons. I have faith that one day in between green foliage of pak choy, a coriander sprout will burst out of the ground and thrive like the rainforest of Borneo. And I will have a field day slashing generous bunches of fresh coriander for that pot of green curry.

In the meantime, spring onions have become my next best friend because it's the easiest to grow. I also added several other edibles to my little garden, like ginger and the white stemmed pak choy.

Here's a little peek on how some of my plants are doing.

The cili padi tree stands seven inches tall. Will I be seeing chilies soon? I'm quite sure I will!

Cili Padi

This parsley is two-and-a-half inches tall. Two other sprouts are coming along really slowly. Parsley, to me, would be a tortoise if it were an animal.

Parsley

Pak choy sprouting quickly! I still don't see any coriander. Do you?

White-stemmed Pak Choy

As I delved deeper into gardening, I learned some new words and names along the way.

Mealybug - A really tiny insect that resembles white cotton candy. I brought it home via an infected Portulaca. It first attacked my Mona Lavender. Then, it went for my ten-year-old cactus. That miffed me. I had to trim my plants bald and say goodbye to my cactus. The nerve of some insects...hmmph!

Germinate - Really, this is a happy word. It means that the seeds are developing into shoots. Woots!

Compost - Decomposing organic matter used as soil fertiliser. Ugh! 

Perennial - An everlasting plant. That would be my cactus, I believe...if not for mealybugs!

Bolt - When a leafy vegetable (mostly) prematurely flowers to produce seeds before you can harvest the crop. It hasn't happened to me ...yet. I can't decide whether to look forward to this or not - it would be exciting to harvest your own seeds, right?

Growing Edibles - Growing food plants.

Right, that's all about my gardening. Now, to share about a great green initiative I discovered while surfing the net. Are you someone who's concerned about the environment and want to help? Then, the Free Tree Society Kuala Lumpur is a great place to start! Check their Facebook page and website for details.

They give out little plants on environmental days. If your home is bare of any, this really is the best thing you can do for Mother Earth. Get some and green up!


A green thumb spirit is all you need to get that garden growing!


May 20, 2014

8 The Internet Bookworm

Have you ever wondered if anyone reads your blog for real? I don't mean just popping in for a comment. I almost always do. Maybe it's because I have time on my hands. Maybe I'm an internet bookworm. Who knows.

I used to read into the wee hours of the morning. There was this unexplainable need to finish the book against good judgement. Perhaps the bags under my eyes are not tied to my genes after all. It could be a result of countless late nights dedicated by a drive to know 'what happened next' in the story.

As I grew older, my interest dimmed. I was tired from work, gym and I got caught up with being a zesty 20-something. This is good tired. I come home, zonk out and wake up with thoughts of taking over the world. I had the gojira roar.   

The internet wave hit soon after. The job? Less inspiring. I became bad tired. Lethargic. It was time to buy a house and a car. Reports and numbers were my new social life. I still read. Insurance manuals, staff memos, employment act, if that's what you call reading. Spirited life slipped away. Domino mundaneness followed... 

Fast forward today, I read blogs and news portals. It started out as a way to simply pass time but now, it's how I keep myself updated with what's going on in the world. Even books are going digital. I felt guilty about it for awhile. I asked myself if I was killing book authors out there. Will future likes of Stephen King and Jane Austen be no more? Our music collection began on a vinyl record. Now, it's on youtube, free. Aaah..I dwell on this too much!   

I love blog reading. You get to engage the author. That makes it really interesting. I feel a connection. I even read an entire fantasy series on a blog the other day. The only thing 'not fun' about blog reading is that you never know when the next story is going to be posted. I'm going to 'haha' this with a finger pointing back at me. Silly.

Sometimes, I find gems of advice, like these:

Let me be the first to say that my mom told me that if you don't have something good to say, just don't say it ~ Abbe Odenwalder (This IS How I Cook)

My dad always says, "People who don't save, live hand to mouth." ~ Izdiher

Sometimes, you need a break from your family, and travelling alone can give you time to relax and sort things out ~ Shirley Tay (Luxury Haven)

In one's journey in life, it is important to experience all sorts of things; be it sweet (and lovely), unpleasant (sour), sad (bitter) and spicy (excitement). ~ Trishie (Under Lock And Key)

But who needs those branded bags anyway. Who to judge your value based on the items you carrying or putting around your body? ~ Rose (Rose' World)

These words are born out of real experiences. The internet is a wealth of real life stories, of which many will never be printed into books.

No longer am I limited to knowledge passed down by what my ancestors have experienced either. I may have learned the basics of cooking from mom, but I learned tricks and techniques from the internet. I have quite a collection of printed recipe books. I sheepishly admit that this is most likely a burgeoning hobby like stamp collecting.

So, am I becoming an internet bookworm? I guess. My pet peeve about it - I can pick up a book and read it for two hours straight without disturbance. Try doing that on a pc without someone saying, "Get off the computer already!". Oh, the unfairness. Crossing my arms and pursing my lips on this one.

I end this post with a small quote...which I may or may not elaborate on later. Now I'm just being cheeky.





 

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