Saturday, May 31, 2008

Words of Wisdom

"Good friends are like stars... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there."

That's the beauty of true friendship. Some friendships are able to endure the test of time and distance. And when we meet again, we just pick up where we last left off. Thank God for good friends!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SOS - The Secret to Healthy Long Life

Let me start off by stating that I am not qualified to give the secret to long life as I have not lived a long life. This "SOS" secret was shared with me by an elderly gentleman whom I met for the first time whilst queuing this morning. Uncle T is 80 years old, highly independent, looks healthy, has good hearing and is able to drive himself in KL (and if you know KL, traffic is horrendous and roads have changed so much), and plans to travel abroad by himself to visit his daughter overseas. Wow! If I ever live to be 80 years old, I would like to be like Uncle T.

So, what's his secret of achieving a healthy long life? He says, "When you reach 40 years old, reduce:
S - Salt
O - Oil
S - Sugar"

Aahh... That explains his good health. But really, if you ask me, diet aside, his secret is that he has a passion for learning. You know the saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks?". It doesn't apply to Uncle T. A retired principal, this gentleman took up ball-room and Latin dancing 5 years ago and is still strutting dance moves today. He has also taken computer lessons from the Seniors Citizen Club. E-mail? No problem. Burn CD? No problem. Sure, it takes a while for him to learn it. But the point is, he wants to learn. He says his grandchildren have more patience to teach him than his son has. Food for thought, isn't it?

Sometimes, we younger people have little patience to teach our parents new technology. We get impatient. But we forget that when we were younger and our parents had to teach us maths (for example), they did it with patience and love. The very least we can do is to now be patient when we return the favour. Just yesterday, mum & dad came over so I could help fix dad's phone which was on vibrating mode and despite attempts to adjust the settings, it wouldn't ring. So, I did what I normally do when electronic gadgets don't work. Switch it off and on again. But, my parents who have minimal experience with computers don't know that. And so, we teach...for the umpteenth time...with patience... After all, they did that for us too.

So, what did I learn about life from my encounter with Uncle T?
1) Eat healthy
2) Live life. Always keep learning.
3) Be patient.

Proverbs 20:29
"The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friends Around The World




Start Copy HERE.
Rule:
1. Copy from ::Start Copy Here:: through ::End Copy Here::.
2. Add your blog to the list. Feel free to add all your other blogs. Just make sure to post this to each of the blog you added in the list.
3. Tag other online friends you know.You don’t need to be tag in order to join. If you want to join just post this one in your blog.
4. Let me know your blog’s name and url by leaving me a comment HERE. I will add you to the master list.That way, everyone is happy and can meet new friends too!
5. Come back once in a while to get the master list! Let’s see how this makes our Technorati and PR goes up! :D
6. DO NOT REMOVE THIS: scrap page made by Yen. Using alphas and tapes from Kate H., flowers from Ida,paper by Catrine.1. Me and Mine 2.Creative In Me 3.ChatterBin 4.Pea in a Pod 5. Sugar Magnolias 6.Because Life Is Fun 7. Piece o’Kaje 8. Mon a Bric 9. Bearandberries 10.My Journey11. Deeply In Love 12. Pink and Brown Diaries 13. Happyheart 14. Wilstop 15. FunFierceFab 16. Dancing in Midlife Tune 17. Celebrate Life 18.Little Peanut , 19. BloggingInMyPyjamas, 20. Baby Shern 21. Rainbows 22.Life is a Journey. Enjoy It!


Please feel free to join me here ........

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lessons from The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian

This second movie in the Chronicles of Narnia series sees the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy abruptly brought back to Narnia, this time via the London tube station instead of the wardrobe. The children are a year older, but in Narnia, 1300 years have passed since the children's departure from Narnia. Everything has changed. Narnia and its inhabitants are almost annihilated by the Telmarines. Those who are left have gone into hiding. Prince Caspian, the rightful heir to the Telmarine throne has been usurped by his evil uncle, Miraz and inadvertently summons the children, (who are also Kings and Queens of Narnia) back to Narnia when he blows Susan's horn for help during a pursuit by his uncle's soldiers. The children and the Narnians helps Prince Caspian defeat his uncle to win back his rightful place and there was peace among the Telmarines and the Narnians.

I left the movie theatre with 2 lessons imprinted in my mind. The first comes from Lucy, the youngest of the Pevensie siblings. She has such simple yet great faith in Aslan. It is Lucy who sees Aslan across the river and tells her brothers and sister that Aslan is calling them to come to him. But because Peter, Edmund and Susan did not see Aslan themselves, all they saw was a huge ravine that separated them and dismissed Lucy. Yet, after trudging ahead, they could not find another way to cross and had to return to the spot where Lucy had seen Aslan. Lo and behold, there was a path for them to take that will eventually take them across the ravine. It was also Lucy who saved the day when she rides off alone to bring Aslan to save Narnia during the battle scene at the end. And Lucy who had the courage to stand by herself to confront the evil Telmarine Lord at the epic river battle, before she was joined by Aslan.
I am reminded of this verse from Luke 18:16-17:
16But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

The second lesson comes from Peter, the oldest. In contrast to Lucy who believes, Peter tries to win the battle on his own strategy and strength - a strategy that backfired and caused many Narnians to lose their lives during their failed attack on Miraz's castle. Later, Peter was almost tempted to bring back the White Witch to help regain his wounded pride and defeat Miraz.
How often do we try to win life's battles by our own strength, instead of relying on God? How often are we tempted to use wordly means to achieve our goals? More often, than we would like. After all, it is human nature. Instead, let us have child-like faith that God is in control and patiently wait on Him when we don't understand our circumstances. Let us have courage to stand in the face of our own battles knowing that God is by our side.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thought for this Week

I decided to share a quote about food since I've done a bit of blogging on this topic last week.

Food is so primal, so essential a part of our lives, often the mere sharing of recipes with strangers turns them into good friends. ... Jasmine Heiler

Isn't this so true? There is an instinctive bond among foodies. This is dedicated to my food buddies!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fulfilling Dreamz


I've decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone:

1) Raise my blog profile by joining the allMalaysian Bloggers Project

2) Stand a chance to win free tickets to Dreamz, Genting - City of Entertainment’s latest extravaganza.

To do the latter, I have to answer these questions...:
Q1) Who is the professional image consultant dishing out juicy tips on how to look your best at CloveTWO.com's Lookin' Good section? Wendy Lee
Q2) Name the bloggers at the Guy and Parent blogs. Andrew William & Sharmila Rajah
Q3) At which section do you find stories on women's fashion and beauty? Style Sheet

(All answers can be found at CloveTWO portal)

...and complete a slogan

Attending Dreamz would be a dream come true for me because...a Dreamz magical experience is just what I need to spice up my life's journey.

Let's see if this dream comes true...

Vienna Sausage Wrapped With Bacon, Home-Made Onion Rings, Potato Salad

After writing my post on pizza yesterday, I was inspired to turn what would have been typical British pub fare of "bangers and mash" (ie sausage with mash potato) to a more creative dinner meal.

I was watching Scandinavian Cooking on the Asian Food Channel ("AFC") the night before and decided to try the bacon wrap on Vienna sausage. Ideally, streaky bacon would have been the best option for a wrap as the pieces are longer. However, I chose to use smoked back bacon as the meat was leaner. It was my little compromise on an otherwise not very healthy meal (but taste oh so good....).

To accompany the sausages, I experimented with home-made onion rings, again inspired by another program called Restaurant Makeover on AFC (by now you would have guessed I'm a big fan of AFC). I was looking forward to trying out the homemade version as you could only taste the batter and not the onion in the commercial frozen onion rings. I also made Tracy's yummy potato salad but had to make some adjustments as I didn't have cream in my fridge. Last, but not least, a simple salad to ease my guilty "healthy" conscience.

The Main...
Wrap 2 pieces of bacon (streaky or smoked back bacon, depending on your preference) over the sausage (take your pick - Vienna, Hungarian, Pepper, Garlic, Chorizo, etc, etc). Secure the wrap with a small toothpick. Pan fry until it is done. Serve with mustard of your choice, tabasco sauce or home-made thai style green chili sauce (something we picked up from our 18 months in Bangkok).

The Side Dishes...
Potato Salad
Click above to see Tracy's recipe from her Makanning blog. I substituted cream with milk as I didn't have any cream at home. To add some richness to the sauce, I added a slice of cheddar cheese into the milk. Otherwise, I followed her recipe to the T.

Onion Rings with Beer Batter
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup beer
1 egg

Whisk the ingredients until the batter is smooth. I also added the excess sauce from the potato salad to the batter. (As the taste is fairly consistent, why waste?) Slice the onions into rings. Dip the onion ring into the batter and deep-fry in hot vegetable oil. The trick is not to move the onion ring immediately after placing into the wok (I'm Chinese so I like to use the wok) or pan. This enables the batter to stick to the onion. When it is golden brown, use a chopstick or a tong to turn the onion ring over. Remove the onion ring and place on a plate with layers of paper towel to soak excess oil. Be careful not to burn the kitchen down as paper towels are flammable. I placed the plate too close to the burner and the towel caught fire when the a gust of wind blew the flame! Lesson learnt...

Simple Garden Salad (for 2)
Slice cucumber, tomato, capsicum, red onion (1 of each) and fresh basil. Combine ingredients into a salad bowl. Just before serving, toss with 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar dressing (Rule of thumb - 1 part vinegar, 3 parts oil). Season with pepper and salt.

The Results...


The plate was too full for me to find space for the potato salad. Hence 2 different pictures. Hubby, who is a huge sausage fan absolutely loved dinner last night!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick & Easy Home-Made Pizza

I found a quick shortcut to making my own pizza. As with the baby back ribs, I prefer to home-cook because of the lack of pork options in the restaurants in Malaysia. But, because I am lazy, I'm always looking for short cuts to making cooking easier and faster.

If you really wanted to make it from scratch, you could make your own pizza dough. Me, I either buy the pizza base from the baking shop or as I recently discovered, naan bread makes a great pizza base. You could get that from any supermarket. I prefer to use garlic naan. As for the topping, just use your imagination...I like to use real bacon and real sausages (translated: real = pork).

Here's my recipe:
1) 1 Pack garlic naan
2) Pork bacon & sausages - sliced (Can also vary with salami, pepperoni, you get my drift...)
3) Tomatoes - sliced (Can also vary with bottled sun-dried tomato)
4) Capsicum - sliced
5) Canned pineapple - sliced
6) Anchovies - diced (as this has very strong flavour, use sparingly)
7) Red onion - sliced
8) 1 Pack pizza cheese - Combination of Mozarella, Parmesan & Cheddar
9) Olive oil
10) Fresh basil - chopped
11) Cracked black pepper
11) 1 Can tomato paste (Can also vary with pesto sauce for a different flavour)

The Pizza...
Spread tomato paste or pesto sauce on the garlic naan. Layer the pizza with ingredients 2-7. The beauty of it is you can add any combination or all ingredients, according to your whim and fancy at that time. Finish off with a generous topping of pizza cheese, sprinke of black pepper and basil . Drizzle olive oil over the pizza.
The Tray...
Place a piece of greaseproof paper on the pizza tray. Grease the paper with butter/oil. Place pizzas on tray.

The Oven...
Preheat the oven to 200C. Bake the pizza for about 15-20 minutes.
The Finished Result...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Travel Blues

When I was a little girl, I used to stare up the night sky to catch a glimpse of a plane flying by. I loved to see the blinking lights of the plane and would wonder what exotic destination it was heading to. It was my secret wish to one day fly on a plane. When I was a teenager, I finally got the opportunity for my first flight when my siblings & I went to visit my aunt in Australia. I was estatic and was awe struck by the hugeness of the plane. Everything was so new. How do I take out the tray from the seat, where to fix the headphone for the in-flight entertainment, etc..Even visiting the toilet on-board was a learning experience.

Many years later, after dozens of take-offs and landings, flying has lost its lustre. I still love to travel... But the process of arriving at the destination is something I put up with as opposed to look forward to. Unless one can afford to fly business or first class, trying to sleep on the cramped economy class seats on a long-haul flight is a great challenge. Now with some budget airlines, you don't even get allocated seats and have to rush for seats, unless you're willing to pay for priority boarding.

Then of course, there are times when your luggage and you don't end up at the same destination at the same time. One time, my suit bag went to Japan - without me! Another time, on a Bangkok-KL flight, my suitcase didn't even leave Bangkok. It didn't help that the flight was re-routed to Penang as the plane couldn't land in KLIA due to bad weather. By the time we arrived at the KLIA, it was way past midnight. Then we waited forlornly at the conveyor belt for a suitcase that never came and watched as other passengers headed off with their luggage. By the time we finished making a report on the missing luggage, tracked the suitcase, extracted a promise that our suitcase would arrive tomorrow afternoon, we only arrived home in the wee hours in the morning.

Perhaps one of the worst experience of flying is when your flight is delayed or cancelled. I suppose it is only natural to feel upset when your travel plans are disrupted. Recently, hubby had to fly to Hong Kong for work and headed off to the airport at 2.30pm for a 5.30pm flight. At 7pm I get a call from him. I was puzzled as he should have been airborne by then and last I checked, you still can't use mobile phones onboard. Turns out that the first officer had a middle year imbalance and could not fly. Check out the very short video clip of the resulting chaos.
video
300 agitated passengers. 2 counters to deal with the flight cancellation. As it was the last flight out for the day, they could only reschedule for the next day. Passengers with connecting flights missed their connection. Tourists missed a sightseeing day. Hubby missed his morning meeting. Flights had to be re-booked. Hotels in HK had to be cancelled. Accomodation had to be found in KLIA for visitors. It was chaos. A group of China tourists were shouting and banging on the counters. Police had to be called in to restore order. That night, hubby only got home at 10.30pm. The next morning, he was up early to catch the first flight out. Poor dear!

Oh well, one has to learn to deal with these nasty surprises when we travel. That's why I always pack a good book, my Ipaq and Ipod when I have to fly. Might as well make the best of an unpleasant situation. Plus, now that I am blogging, it's an opportunity to post about it!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Words of Wisdom

This week, I picked a passage from Ecclesiastes called "Everything Has Its Time" to share on my weekly "Words of Wisdom" series. I decided that this would be my little contribution to making a positive impact on people's lives (well, at least to my readers). I hope that you will be encouraged.

Everything Has Its Time
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

Just as the seasons play a different role in the planting, watering and harvesting of a crop, the different seasons in life plays a role in making us who we are. For me, this sabbatical has been a journey of discovery. I re-discovered a passion for writing via blogging (not just writing financial reports), I expanded my computing and photography skills (due to blogging again), I ventured into the art of mosaic craft, I derived pleasure from reading my books and I found the joys of creating new culinary dishes.

There truly is a time for everything and I am blessed to have found this time.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Roast Pumpkin Soup & Mango Salsa

Roast Pumpkin Soup
Mango Salsa Dip with Corn Chips

These were the other 2 dishes we prepared at the dinner party we hosted last month. Check out the recipes at Makanning, Tracy's food website. I am grateful to Tracy for encouraging me to start blogging about my cooking...Since I didn't want to overstay my welcome as guest blogger at Tracy's site, watch for future recipes here...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Gathering

If you're married, have you ever faced the problem about Mother's Day celebration? Should you have lunch with your mum and dinner with your mother-in-law? If you have siblings, how do you coordinate it with their schedule? How do you make everyone happy?

Well, for our family, we celebrate it together. My siblings and I invite our parents and all our in-laws (including sibling-in-laws) and have one big celebration. It really is a twice-a-year (one for Father's Day as well) gathering of the in-laws. We're still targeting to have one celebration where every member of the family is present. This time round, hubby's sis and her hubby could not make it. Still, we have a pretty decent track record with close to 90% attendance every year. Last Sunday, there were 19 of us. With such a big group, eating-in is more relaxed. as everyone can mingle and there is no pressure to vacate the table quickly for the next batch of customers. So, we usually take turns to host the celebration.

The younger folks did most of the cooking. Bro-in-law's aunty also contributed 3 yummy dishes. Hubby and I prepared namtok mu (grilled pork with thai chili paste) and kai chiao mu (minced pork omelette Thai style)- a legacy of our 18 months in Bangkok. Typical Malaysian style, there were more than enough food to go around with 9 mains and 4 desserts!
Apart from the great food, it was a great time for catching up. As we have increasingly busy schedules, it is good to set aside a time for a family get-together. Coming up next, Father's Day...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Words of Wisdom

One thing leads to another...

A friend shared this thought-provoking words of wisdom with me:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Great Service at Shell

Great customer service is rare. We expect it at 5-star hotels because we pay 5-star prices. Even then, we don't always get it.

I certainly didn't expect great service at a petrol station. Ever since the petrol stations moved towards self service at the pumps, we rarely expect any service from the attendants. In fact, some attendants just stand around doing nothing and just watch when you start cleaning your windscreen. That's why I was pleasantly surprised when I went to pump petrol at the Shell station opposite the Eastin Hotel today. I don't usually patronise this station but after today, I just may.

When I drove in, the attendant guided my car to an empty slot. When I got out, he asked with a smile if I was paying by credit card. Then he offered to clean my windscreen without me asking for the service. After he had completed cleaning, he went on to the car behind me and proceeded to clean the windscreen. When I encountered a problem with the credit card receipt, he immediately acknowledged my request for help with a nod, asked his colleague to take over the cleaning and came over to assist me. This gentleman, Encik Bakar is a shining example of great customer service. I am so impressed. Well done, sir! It's good to know people with passion for their job.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Baby Back Pork Ribs

Good friend, Tracy invited me to be a guest blogger on her Makanning blog. She actually asked me months ago when I was still living in Bangkok and now I've done it. If you like baby back ribs, check out the post in Makanning. Enjoy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tribute to Mum

One of my passions is cooking. Looking back, I can trace this passion back to my mum. My mum loves to cook for her family. So, I grew up with home-cooked food on the table. When mum first got married to dad, she didn't know how to cook chilli dishes (She comes from Cantonese background). My dad, a Malacca baba, grew up eating curry and chili dishes. Mum told us that when she first fried fish, dad refused to eat coz it didn't have chilli. Today, one of mum's specialty dishes is fried fish with stuffed sambal filling! It is a testament of her love for dad. Mum continues to experiment with new recipes she's seen on TV. This goes to show that you're never too old to learn.

I have to confess that when I used to live at home, I never really enjoyed cooking. I didn't like to help out in the kitchen as it meant I had to miss out on my play time or TV time. But, mum was a believer that her children should know how to cook. When I went overseas for studies, I had no choice but to cook. Eating out was expensive and not something a student could afford to do on a regular basis. So, very often, I would call home and ask mum for a recipe.

Now that I am married, I find myself preferring to eat in most days. Even when I was working, our friends used to be amazed that I cooked dinner regularly. The dishes were simple and I used the crock pot often. Now that I'm on a sabbatical, I've had time to experiment with more complicated dishes. Plus, with my brand new Teka oven, I look forward to experimenting with more roasts and grills. Our friends loved the baby-back ribs we prepared for a dinner party.

And so, on this Mother's Day, it is apt for me to pay this tribute to my mum, and all mums out there - for all the good food you have lovingly prepared for your children and for instilling the passion for good ol' home-cooked food.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Forgiveness is really for me

At cell group last Friday, we had a discussion on the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6: 5-15). Our group focused on forgiveness.

v12 "Forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors".
v14-15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."


Wow...This is a stern warning. If we don't forgive others, God won't forgive us. We pondered. God is gracious and merciful. We reflected. God wants the best for us. Then, we concluded. Forgiveness is really for our benefit, and not so much for the person who have wronged us. Sometimes, the other person isn't even aware that he/she has offended us! Meanwhile, we allow bitterness, anger and hurt to eat us up causing us much emotional, spiritual and sometimes, physical damage. God wants us to release forgiveness so that we can be released. So you see, forgiveness is really for me.