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.


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.

May 14, 2014

14 Putrajaya : Sightseeing

Millennium Monument
The Millennium Monument is an interesting structure. It is the first national monument to be built in Putrajaya.

Some of the things that make this place special:

- Our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir, buried a time capsule at the base of this tower. It will be unearthed in year 2020.

- The structure is designed to look like Malaysia's national flower, the hibiscus, when viewed from the top.

- It acts like a lighthouse at night. Sweeping light across the area, it serves as a guide for cruise boats as well.

- The glass panel along the railing is engraved with a little of our history.

Putra Mosque

Putra Mosque is a sight to behold. The minaret is one of the highest in the district with five tiers, a representation of the Five Pillars of Islam.

There are many beautiful buildings in Putrajaya. The mosque is just one of it.

Marina Putrajaya

We made a stop at Marina Putrajaya out of curiosity. Marina Putrajaya is a water-sports facility. There's waterskiing, wakeboarding, yachting, a swimming pool and even 'Flyboard-ing'. Until recent, I've never heard of a 'Flyboard'. It's something for thrill seekers, I soon found out. 

More photos of what I saw from this spot:

Marina Putrajaya Stadium

Ministry Buildings at Dataran Gemilang

From left: Attorney General Chambers,
Ministry of Rural and Regional Development,
Ministry of Communication and Multimedia,
Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government,
Ministry of Women, Family and Community

Fresh hanging flowers along the floating dock

Driving around Putrajaya is always peaceful. There aren't many cars on the road. The streets are quiet on weekends. Here's another beautiful building we saw - the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

In 2012, it won the award for Best Congress & Convention Centre in Asia - Business Destinations (Travel Awards).

A little about the number one in front of the flag poles. This is the symbol of the 1Malaysia slogan, which is often blasted on our radio and TV. It is an initiative by our current Prime Minister calling for national unity and efficient governance.

Putrajaya International Convention Centre

Moving on, Putrajaya has many beautiful bridges. I blogged about it here. This is the Seri Wawasan Bridge.

Seri Wawasan Bridge

If you have noticed, many of Putrajaya's iconic buildings and scenic spots surround a huge lake. It is very well maintained. There are several parks in the area. There are also little huts, like the one below, and benches for people to sit and enjoy the view.

Every time I see this photo, I envision myself sitting on a red-checkered picnic mat, weaved basket beside, sandwich in hand, wearing a wide hat, book, fluffy pillow...nah, that's not even possible until late evening, not even under this hut! Hot and humid weather it is until rain clouds appear. If it were cool and sunny here, I'd be hanging outdoors all day. How nice that would be.

I found a picnic spot!

Well, that's just a small taste of Putrajaya. I have yet to visit the botanical garden, the wetland park, agriculture park, empangan park.... phew! That many!


May 7, 2014

22 Instant Kampua Mee from Sibu!

This is it, Kampua Mee. Not just any kampua mee but 'the' one from Sibu.

I first heard about Kampua Mee from Rose of Rose' World, who mentioned it on her blog. It looked so good that I was itching for a taste. The other reason? I just love trying out new stuff.

Anyone can walk up to me and say that something's not delicious, but it will never thwart my plans to try it for myself. For me, taste is a personal thing. Some will like it, some will not.

Anyway, back to this delightful kampua mee which Rose was kind enough to send over so that I could have a taste. Thank you, Rose! ;)

Bang, bang, bang! The postman knocked loudly on my door late one evening, while I was mulling over what to cook for dinner. I was really excited to see the package. I had no idea what was inside, of course and tore it open as soon as I had signed off the mailing slip.

Look what I got:

Sibu Instant Kampua!

Isn't it lovely? Each packet of noodle comes with two packs of seasoning. One of soy sauce and one of lard. read right. And that's what makes this instant noodle so special. Well that, and the fact that this mee is sundried and free from preservatives.

Kampua Mee seasoning - soy sauce (left), lard (right)

I decided at that moment that this would be dinner. It's really simple to make. Boil the noodles in water until it is softened/cooked. Drain and stir in the seasoning. I added some extra ingredients, topping the noodles with fried minced pork and garlic. Then, it was garnished with slices of chili and spring onions. Makes it a little more vibrant.

Ingredients to top my kampua mee

Voila! Nice? Yes, hubs asked for more...more! I found it yummy and very different from the regular instant noodles we find in supermarkets. 

Kampua Mee with minced pork, chopped spring onion and chili

If you're keen to try some for yourself, contact Rose. I'm just kidding!

You should really contact 'thekitchensibu' on Facebook. I believe they've worked something out for those residing in KL/Selangor. 

May 5, 2014

16 On Chocolate Malt and Packers Best

I get the feeling that people are proud to be associated with coffee. It is almost always mentioned everywhere and it sounds classy. No one ever says, "Chocolate malt or tea?". I've watched enough shows with that overworked line, "Here's your coffee, Hun,"  followed with a scene of the husband rushing off to work. Oh, the banality of it all.

I'm a chocolate malt kinda girl. It's what I need to start my morning and what I have before bedtime. If I were a character in a book, I would probably sound uncool.

She stepped out onto the verandah with a steaming cup of chocolate malt in hand.

She winced at the chocolate malt stain on her coat.

She spilled chocolate malt on the table.

You get the point.

I've been through many brands of chocolate malt drink. Some powdery fine, most lacking punch. For those on a tighter budget, Milo is a luxury. I've always wondered if there was an alternative. This drove me to explore what was out there.

I've put up with long periods of 'tongue-blekkking'  moments. This whole chocolate malt adventure is a journey that has spanned several years.

Just a month ago, Hubs stumbled across Tesco's Packers Best. The price was good - only RM22 for a 2kg pack. I've been through a lot. There was little spark left to be too excited.

But by golly, did we hit the jackpot this time! It is the closest thing to milo that I have ever tasted. The texture is similar too - not too powdery, has some 'body' to it. Today, I tear open my second packet. I am so proud of this discovery. You'll have to excuse my excitement.

I think I'll just buy myself a ribbon sash to sling over my shoulder, like how beauty queens do it, and appoint myself 'Packers Best Chocolate Malt' ambassador. Friends will say I've gone bonkers.

Packers Best - Milo alternative!

Last week, whilst shopping in Tesco, I bumped into a guy snapping pics of milo on his phone. In me, was a strong urge to lean over and whisper, "Try Packers, it's good." I didn't want to creep the young man out. That's what sales promoters do! So I walked away, grinning that I had kept myself in check.

Anyway, if you're looking out for an alternative, this is it - as close as it gets and ten ringgit less. Give it a try and lets have your thoughts on it.

May 2, 2014

12 Penang - The Reclining Buddha at Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Wat Chaiyamangalaram houses one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the world. Several sources on the web (I am unable to verify the accuracy) state that this Thai Buddhist temple was constructed in 1900. It sealed itself as one of Penang's most visited places when the reclining Buddha was built in the late 1960s.

Although this marks as my second visit, I found it as interesting as before. Left to my own devices with like-minded friend in tow, it's easy to be in high spirits.

I was only a child when I first visited the place and often referred to the statue as 'The Sleeping Buddha'.

Jen and I made our way to the temple armed with a simple map and empty energetic chatter. Our day's adventure kicked off from Evergreen Laurel Hotel, where we had spent the night. The walk along Jalan Kelawei was a pleasant experience thanks to slightly gloomy weather and shade provided by trees. A turning led us to the temple. Souvenir peddlers hogged the area around the entrance.

We walked in, awed by the view before us. Statues of mystical dragon serpents and giant warriors guard the door to the main shrine.

Wat Chaiyamangalaram

The golden Pagoda at the back lent an air of ancientness :

Wat Chaiyamangalaram

It began to drizzle. We rushed towards the main shrine where the reclining Buddha rests. The 108-foot long gold plated sculpture was surrounded by adoring looks from many tourists. It's beautiful ...but  my enthusiasm was a little marred by concern about losing my shoes. Haha..that! I could not shake the icky thought of walking barefoot on rain drenched roads.

Visitors are asked to remove their shoes before entering the area. A signboard hanging above the steel rack warned us of shoe thieves. My carefree spirit took a small dive when the temple assistant politely informed me to keep close watch of my Nike pair. I wanted to thank his helpfulness as much as I wanted to 'un-thank' his advice - if only such a word exists!

"Unthank you for your advice, Sir! My calm spirit is now lost..lost with worry!"

The reclining Buddha of Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Another angle of the reclining Buddha of Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Smaller statues were stationed along walls around the reclining Buddha. This was one of my favourites (below). It carries a serenity I cannot explain. It is estimated that thirty thousand embossed Buddha images cover the walls.

At peace

An animal sign from the the Chinese zodiac has been carved onto the pedestal of some of these statues. I guess those born in the year snake will put their donation into the red collection container where the pedestal bears the same symbol, and so forth. Behind, are urns containing ashes of devotees in niches set in walls.

The 12 Chinese zodiac signs

I recognise only the Goddess of Mercy (second from right) in this picture :

More statues at Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Here, candles in the shape of a lotus flower is used for prayer. I have been told that in Buddhism, the lotus flower is a symbol of spiritual enlightenment or an awakening.

Lit lotus candles

We passed the sea of serpents again on our way out :

Serpents guard Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Going in, going out, the gateway!

The gate to Wat Chaiyamangalaram

Before leaving, Jen and I 'quenched our thirst' on Thai coconut ice cream, which we purchased from an ice cream vendor near the gateway. Can ice cream be a thirst quencher? This was light enough to feel like a yummy drink. In humid weather, I say yes!

That covers my visit to Wat Chaiyamangalaram. I hope to be back a third time!


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