Dec 30, 2013

8 The Winter Solstice Glutinous Rice Balls : How I Cheated

Old year out, new year in! Get-togethers and marvelous meals ~ It has me wondering whether I should take it as all good or good-bad. Good because I'm bonding with family and friends. Bad, because I'm getting chubbier.

I guess I should look on the brighter side of things *wink*. I am getting "choo bee-er"! Choobee means cute in Hokkien, by the way.

December and January are my busiest months. Many festivities fall within this period. It begins with the Winter Solstice Festival, is followed by Christmas, then New Year and finally, Chinese New Year. This, not counting Birthdays and .....Valentine's Day, weeks after!

We celebrated the Winter Solstice Festival (DongZhi Festival) with the customary eating of tangyuan (glutinous rice balls). I've always wanted to make my own but never found the time. The festival falls on a date days before Christmas. Perhaps next year.

I celebrated the occasion with a small packet of ready-made ones. We usually pair the glutinous rice balls with sweet syrup boiled of honey rock sugar and ginger.This year, however, is a year of cheats.

Glutinous Rice Balls

"Holy macaroni! You're a genius!"
exclaimed excited Hubby. It's weird and funny at the same time. I don't remember hearing the same vigour in his compliment when I whip up a really drool-worthy luxurious meal. Mmm...

Anyway, I cooked the frozen glutinous rice balls as instructed on the packet and ladled it out into a pretty pink bowl.

Usually, I would boil sweet ginger syrup to go along with it (a family tradition) but I was a little lazy this year. Before I knew it, I reached out to tear open a sachet of my favourite drink. And this is the secret ~ NONA Honey Ginger Drink.

Honey Ginger Drink
I emptied the contents into a cup and added hot water as instructed. It was ready in under a minute. Then, I poured this drink over the cooked glutinous rice balls. Voila! Serve and eat.

Cheating? Hah! Shortcut!
I wonder if anyone else does this...yum stuff, the quick way!

Dec 20, 2013

8 Flenco ~ My New Best Friend

This just in and I can't believe I'm already sharing the news here today. Do I hear sniggers? Yes, I can be really irregular with my posts...often distracted, often out somewhere.

But I rarely miss any of Shirley's posts. I like visiting Luxury Haven because I love variety ~ cooking, new products, home decor, contests, travel and hotels. It is the spice of life! This is like my daily newspaper.

I joined Luxury Haven's Flenco Christmas giveaway the other day and was lucky enough to be blessed with a win. Before this, I had never heard of the brand. 

Check out the packaging. I love it a lot. The product feels great too, a skin rejuvenating body scrub. I'm impressed.

Body Shaper - Olive Dead Sea Scrub

Hah! You could say I've bookmarked Flenco for gifts and personal pampering. Can't wait to try their other products.

In case you're keen to know where I got this, this is the link to the winners list on Luxury Haven: http://www.luxuryhaven.co/2013/12/winners-of-flenco-christmas-hampers-at-luxury-haven.html

Dec 18, 2013

5 Delicious Christmassy Cake

Someone pointed out that it was Christmassy. In my excitement, I hadn't noticed. All I saw was something scrumptious to e-a-t, to ....to share. Good things are meant to be shared. I will not be piling the kilos on alone.  

I collected this cake from PJ Hilton's Caffe Cino last week. It was worth the three times I had to circle the vicinity for a parking lot. Construction, congestion! The town is brimming with development.

You can never go wrong with fresh strawberries on cake!

...how light the frosting, how moist the cake, how cream cheesy the layers...bliss.

I was really thrilled to cut a piece out. It felt like opening a present. I couldn't wait to see what was inside. It was supposed to be a 'rainbow cake' with seven different colours of layering. Instead they gave me something that reflected the season. The smudgy frosting on the cake looks rainbow-coloured. I didn't mind though.  The magic of Christmas has already rubbed off on me. I feel 'joyous'.

Yummy!

A huge piece for me!

Up close and personal with cake.

Alright, that's enough showing off for one day!

PJ Hilton's a great place to hang out. I love the ambiance and am no stranger to the hotel's restaurant, having spent many hours at the buffet corner catching up with friends.

Santa's delivered me an early Christmas / Birthday present. I take this as a countdown to my 40th Birthday which is just around the corner.


Dec 10, 2013

2 The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale - It's the World's Biggest!

It was so BIG in discounts that I was caught in an intense struggle not to overspend. Only at the beginning, that is. Seven heavy books later .... and sore arms, my desire was quelled.

The sale runs on a 24-hour schedule. I admire people who work the graveyard shift. I find it mentally challenging. Mr. Sandman always comes a-calling. Sometimes, he isn't very nice. He makes me snort and snore with all that sand stuck in my nose.

This is the scene at Mines Exhibition Centre, 8am, Sunday. 

The early bird catches the worm

I woke up earlier than usual to beat the crowd and was blessed with a good two-hour of peaceful book hunting. Man was left to his devices. I didn't want to bore him too much by following me around. You see, there was no hint of enthusiasm for this Sunday outing since the night before, when it was made known to him.

I had to laugh when I saw him with a box full of books, twice my load! He was so engrossed that he didn't even notice that his mobile had rung five times!

Books and more books!

The other thing that amused me was when I saw a luggage seller setting up booth just outside the hall. I thought a travel fair was on too but I understood instantly when I walked in to see people pulling bags along the aisle. It's a convenient way for bookworms to carry it all.

I wasn't buying a lot so the light shoulder bag I had brought along suited me well - made it easier to navigate around busy areas.

There is no need to worry too much about it though. The Big Bad Wolf team has it sorted out for customers. They have boxes that you can use to carry your books around. There's also a storage station where you can leave your books.

The loud speaker came on and the voice of a very sleepy announcer blared through the hall.

"Don't leave your boxes on the floor. Keep the aisles clear!"

"Do not bring books you do not wish to purchase to the cashier counter!"


Getting crowded and it isn't even 10am yet!

I left before 11am. There were no long queues at the cashier yet. All in, I had a glorious time.

The entrance..how cool!
I walked away with the best bargains. Just to give you an idea how much I saved ~ I paid RM20 for Nigella Christmas . It costs RM109.90 at my regular book store.

In our car boot:

My stash and ..ahem, Man's stash *roll eyes*

Four for me, three are presents for the family

The sale ends this Sunday!
It's a 24-hour thing, but only for a week. Hurry now!
BBW website : www.bigbadwolfbooks.com

Dec 7, 2013

5 Christmas Tree .... s

I know it looks like I've really gotten carried away this year ...

My Collection of Christmas Trees

At the RM5 store.

Man : Gonna get this for the office. (Picks up small undecorated tree and walks off).

Wife picks out pretty purple tree for the guest room... thinks man should have purchased one with all the baubles on but did not interfere with man's tree quest. She thinks it would be hilarious to see him decorating the tree since he's always Mr. Reluctant at home.

We walked out of the store happily.

An hour later, Man came to his senses. Another small tree with gold baubles was purchased.

And that's how I landed myself with an extra Christmas tree! It would have been a waste to put it away so I dressed it simply with pine cones, a bit of gold and left it as a centerpiece on the dining table.

Before
Today!
This 6ft Christmas tree, on the other hand, has been with us for almost decade. I make little changes to how I decorate the tree year by year. I added two purple masks in 2012. That cost me about seven ringgit. This year, I forked out ten ringgit for two boxes of pink baubles.

I've been dreaming of a pink Christmas for ages but I didn't want to spend a whole lot of money just to change the entire theme of the tree. So I did it in stages...or you could say, in years.

The tree started out with blue and silver decorations. Over the period, purple was added and now pink. I finally have enough to do away with the blue baubles completely.

Dream realised. Mission accomplished. What's next? Gold, I guess *wink*

Nov 28, 2013

13 Sungai Buloh : The Nurseries and Growing Passion for Plants

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
~ Hans Christian Andersen


And he is right. It's food for the soul. The Sungai Buloh Nurseries is a great place to "stop and smell the flowers". I enjoy journeying into this floral wonderland, which I take as a form of meditation by the way.

Meet Mr. Gnome. "Hi!", greets he.

Welcome to Happy Land!

See why this place is a haven for gardeners? The plants are enthusiastically green. The flowers look like they're singing in chorus. Lush! As a friend always puts it.

Rows of green!

If this be my garden, I'd be ecstatic!

These purple flowers are called "Mona Lavender". From personal experience, easy to maintain. All it takes is a bit of watering and trimming. I've had mine for two months and it's flourishing. In fact, it's flowering again, just weeks after the first blooms went!

A pot of mona lavender costs between RM5-RM8 at the nurseries.

Mona Lavender

The rose and its thorns are often talked about and inspire poetic words of wisdom. A couple come to mind ~ There's no rose without a thorn and A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Beautiful Red Roses

But if you want a plant that isn't too challenging, try a cactus. I have two which have crossed the ten-year mark and continues to grow passionately.

Cactuses and Succulents

You won't just be attracted by the plants in Sungai Buloh. There's a large variety of pots, soil, fertiliser and decorative items on sale.

Coconut shell hanging baskets

An exciting selection of flower pots!

Sneak a peek behind the road stalls. You never know what you may find. I discovered rows of .....Christmas trees! Don't mind me, I'm terrible with plant names. I've generally labeled all cone-shaped greens with pine-like features as Christmas trees.

Behind the nurseries - Christmas Trees!

There she grows. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree..

That's about it. Hope you enjoyed reading about my walkabout in plantdom.  I'll be posting more of these as my interest grows.

To get to the nurseries, just follow Jalan Hospital and look for a left turning into Jalan Lembah which is somewhere after Sungai Buloh Hospital (on your right). View in wikimapia.


Nov 25, 2013

3 Genie Wong : Limited Edition EP

My story on talented singer-songwriter Genie Wong was published earlier in the year on I.M. - Jazzing Up Borneo Airwaves - IM Magazine

Days ago, Genie released a limited edition EP in the form of a thumb drive. Cute isn't it? I ordered two for Christmas. I figured this would make a great gift for a couple of friends. It contains three of her original songs and two special editions, plus a music video. For RM25, I thought it was a steal.

Photos provided by Genie Wong

Have you heard any of Genie's songs? This is a recently released music video of Liar Liar, a cosy number that's easy to get addicted to. It's one of my favourite hums.

I chanced to talk to Genie a little about her music video. Just two questions.


What was the inspiration for your video?

Genie: Simplicity. The message I convey in my songs are simple.

What was the hardest thing you faced while recording this video?
Genie : Hahaha..I can't stop looking at the camera. It was like 'in my way' and I didn't know what to do with my hands!

Genie Wong on I.M. Magazine Jul/Aug issue - autographed copy (top-right).
She also made the Top 10 Inspirational Stories of 2013 list in the Dec issue.

If  you're keen to get your hands on the Genie Wong Limited Edition EP ..and it is "limited" with only 200 units being sold, contact her via Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Geeniee.Wong

OR

Catch her live in Penang at the 10th Penang Island Jazz Festival this 7th and 8th December. She'll be singing in the Fringe events hosted by Creative Malaysia, under the banner of "Sixth Sense". Don't be shy to approach her to get your copy of the EP and ask for her autograph as well.

Sixth Sense is scheduled to perform at these venues on these dates (visit website to view) : http://www.penangjazz.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/creative-malaysia-programme.jpg


Official Website: http://genie1978.wix.com/geniewong


Nov 20, 2013

8 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show 2013 (KLIMS)

Other than the Kia Sportage which I saw some 'long-time' ago, no other car has tickled my fancy. That probably sums up my interest in cars. I am laid back about it. I don't go looking but I do love going to motor events.

I made my way to the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show last weekend, paying RM20 for a ticket in. The place was packed like sardines because there was a power failure earlier in the day. I had a great time checking the scene out regardless.

It was a less exciting affair for my car-enthusiast man because several top motor brands were not part of the show.

These are some of the cars that were on display. I was particularly excited by the sight of Nissan's Navara which had a tent on top. Would I love to travel with that...!

Top: Honda EV-STER
Bottom, from left: Honda CR-Z Mugen RR , Nissan Navara
CR-Z Mugen RR

I did a wee bit of shopping. This GPS navigator was going for a steal at just RM199. The brand name is a little weird but apt. I guess Gogopal is subtly telling us to just keep going and never worry about ever getting lost - go, go, pal!

Gogopal GPS with accessories

There was some sort of car body design contest going on. It's cute in an overdone kind of way. I gotta hand it to these guys. They're very passionate about what they do.

Design Contest

I wouldn't mind a ride in one of these vintage cars! Imagine an Elvis song on play .. *sigh*

From top-left: Ford Thunderbird 1957, Ford Pickup 1955
Bottom-left: Corvette Stingray 1964, Chevy Master Deluxe 1938

The lucky draw prizes are extremely attractive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll win a car too.

Filling In Lucky Draw Forms to Win a Car

Finally, my favourite part of the show ... for purely narcissistic reasons. Oh, you're giggling now, aren't you? Close enough.

Sharan, Das Auto

Event Details: 15 - 24 November 2013, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) Kuala Lumpur.
Visiting Hours: Weekdays 11.00am - 10.00pm / Weekends 10.00am - 10.00pm

Nov 15, 2013

10 Barley-cious : Tom Yum Fried Barley

I've been experimenting barley with different flavours. Over the course of my cooking adventure, this is one of my yummy finds ~ Tom Yum Fried Barley. The best thing is it goes great with any meat including seafood.

A close friend of mine balks at the idea of eating barley, the savoury way. Well, I never imagined that I would one day be having my barley this way too but there's no turning back now!

Gorgeous?

Yom Yum Fried Barley

This didn't involve a lot of work nor it is the authentic way of cooking tom yum since I used bottled paste.

A little garlic saute, a dollop of tom yum paste, meat, chili and barley, stir-fried together. Then, it is garnished with chopped spring onions. That's about it.

Read about my other yummy barley shares here at www.sweethomechefs.com

Nov 12, 2013

6 The Kitchen Project : Wire Shelves

It had to happen sooner or later. My collection of spices and sauces had grown beyond the space my kitchen cabinets could offer. I was squeezing things here, there, everywhere, piling containers and canned foods as high as I 'safely' could!

"Hah! You dropped two bottles and made a huge mess on the floor!"
   < --- Enough said.

I knew that I had to do something about it so I spent days surveying for shelves - the easy, convenient kind.......and hopefully, it wouldn't cost too much too.

Just when I'd almost given up on finding something that tickled my fancy, I walked into Daiso and the matter was solved. Daiso is a popular low-priced store in Malaysia. Many items are sold at RM5 flat.

I picked out these wire shelves for my kitchen. It's quite brilliant really. The back piece is a mass of squares designed to hold multiple shelves. They were selling it in various colours and sizes. I stayed with white. It's my favourite colour. Oh, who am I kidding. A lot of colours are "my favourite colour".

Daiso shelves at RM5 per piece

I was so psyched about it that I added a few more spices and cute containers to my collection. And... spent the weekend labeling each one.

Labeling bottles and containers

Man of the house put the shelves up for me. A quick drill and screw was all that needed to be done.

I hereby present my new kitchen shelves! What do you think?

Ready for use!

These wire shelves aren't suitable for large or heavy glass bottles. Just warning anyone who's keen to set up the same.

Close-up!

Well, that's one thing I don't have to worry about anymore. Tick off to-do list!

Oct 30, 2013

8 Labuan : Layang-Layangan - Just the beach!

Layang-layangan beach, one of my favourite hangouts .... until I moved to the city. Clean, serene, with long stretches of sand ~ the perfect picnic spot? Yeap!

I've not been here for almost a decade. My trips home have always been packed with meeting the relatives, plus an unimaginable amount of time on feasting. I am not kidding when I say that it begins with an early breakfast and goes on until dinner!

So this is a very treasured 30-minute stop just to snap some shots and breathe in the beach air.

Evening beach stroll

A gloomy evening that brought the drizzle.

Sea, sky ..oh, where are you, sun?

Lots of these holes on the sand with small crabs scuttling in and out.
Ahoy! Is anyone in there?! ..

Crab hole

Small wooden boats or sampan, as we call it, tied to a pole near the shore.

The fisherman rests his boats (do you see it? there..in the distance)

Night picnickers setting up the barbeque fire.

A different kind of night life

We passed this resort-like place on our way home. Fancy fencing...

Love the coconut trees view

That's my short beach adventure. We made our way to a local cake stall nearby for late tea (almost dinner, really) after that.


Oct 25, 2013

8 Breakfast And A New Pan

Breakfast is important. Everyone knows that but mornings and me? We shake hands and that's as much love as we have for each other. No hugs! Brunch is more my thing.

The only food that  goes into me first thing in the morning is a hot cup of chocolate malt.

Chocolate Malt

Occasionally, I have eggs and baked beans...

Eggs and Baked Beans

But only because I have a fancy new pan to try out < --- "motivation"

Nah, this post is nothing about breakfast. I really, reallyYy wanted to show off the latest addition to my kitchen. Do you like it? Haha. Don't be mean now.

New Pan ~ RM9.90 from Tesco

 
 

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