Thursday, August 30, 2012

gardening - progress!

Remember my last posting about Al and myself doing a spot of garden a week before Raya? well, we came back from a week at the cottage to see the onion that Al planted has grown!

Al was so excited ...and he now knows that if you put an onion in some soil, it will grow :-) I was thinking of doing more onion planting with him soon ....after all, we use quite a lot of spring onions in our cooking
plus, it is ORGANIC ....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sunday breakfast - nasi lemak with the family

Last Sunday everyone was in the house is quite rare for all of us to be in the house together on Sunday morning ..usually mom and dad would left the house early for their weekly jaunt to the markets, or Dom will be on his never-ending fishing trip ..or with Jane and the kids for breakfast at their fav cafes, when i woke up on Sunday and saw everyone there, I told them that Iwould cook nasi lemak for breakfast if they are interested ...and to that they said Yes, please hahahahaha

I seldom cook ...i mean there is no point in cooking breakfast if there is no one to eat it - right? so, it was quick ...cook 2 cups of rice, with coconut milk ...and it was special coz I added pandan leaves ...hehehe usually, I did not put pandan leaves as there always no stock round the house.

while the rice is cooking away in the rice cooker, i started to make its accompaniment ....

sambal bilis

hard-boiled eggs

fried egg sunny side

fried salted fish

then I realised we dont have any cucumber left in the fridge ...Dom nipped out to the corner shop and get us some. In the meantime, another look inside the fridge and I saw a leftover dish of rendang beef .,, had that heated up and served with the nasi lemak as well ...

the verdict: all was gone ...nothing goes to waste and everyone had second helpings even said that we should have breakfast at home together more often ..and look at  me as if saying I should do the cooking???

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Read for me please Aki ....

that is one of the frequently uttered requests from Al to my dad ...he wants my dad to read for him ...his fav is his Thomas and Friends Series - the part where Percy got stuck in the flood ....

taken from my mobile - hence the blurry image :-)

Al and adik love to browse through books ...looking at the pictures and bright colours ...and since going to Kindy, Al started to learn how to read ... he would ask one of us - nenek, mama, mummy and daddy - to read but his favourite reader is Aki hahahaha ...even to a point that he would wake my dad up from his nap just to read for him! And he would make sure that aki's reading glasses is nearby so that aki doesn't have an excuse of saying that he can't read coz he can't see the small prints :-)

One thing I notice is that Al is starting to memorise the stories that he and aki read ..he learns to read and spell the words ..and when he is alone he will try to read on him own! It was so sweet boy is growing up .... and he is going through his books one by one ...adik and al had an extensive collections of books - especially the Thomas and Friends series. I always get them books as presents for nearly every occassion ...hehehe talk about efforts to encourage them to read!

Note to self: need to go to Popular Bookstore to get them more books ...and might bring Al with me so that he can choose his own book ...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gardening with Alistair

Last weekend, I was feeling energetic ...decided to replant and re-pot some of my shrubs. So, I went to the nursery along 4th Miles mum bought some shrubs and orchid seedlings for the cottage while I bought some top soil, planters and pottery ....

Al was excited to help me with the planting ...told him to wear the surgical gloves so that he can keep his hand clean ....he enjoyed playing with the gardening mini tools - he scooped top soil and fill the planters ..he helped me to pull the weeds and so on .....and he was tired ...that night he slept early and very soundly!

we pulled the weeds and cleaned the flower pots ...

this was my dad's bonsai pottery ..hence the chinese characters ...but bonsai was gone (hahaha - long story) so, instead of leaving it empty, I decided to use it to replant these pokok lidah jin (a.k.a sansevieria) here planning to use it to create a garden in front of the house once it has grown beautifully :-) fingers crossed

another pot of lidah jin ...this one is to be placed near the front door ...I used to have a huge pot of lidah jin for the entrance but it died coz it dont not have any more space in the pot to grow! So, am replanting a new one for that space!

the day after the planting, I put the planters outside our gate ....Al is so proud of his work that he will stop to water the plant before he goes to school!

I like involving him in gardening least it helps to make sure that he is not "scared" of being dirty lol and an excuse for me to get a "helper"

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thought of the week: Plan A?

This really cheer me up ...

 never give up, there's always Plan B ......or C ...or D hahahaha ...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

dinner @ Sharing Planet

WE have been talking about going for a meal here for quite a while now ... something always crop up when we plan to do that ...till last week. Flora, Chris and I went there on a Tuesday evening for dinner ...the other two (Bemen and Haslina cannot make it coz of family commitment) ...

here's what we had that night:

garden salad

Chris's chicken dish * forgotten the name already

Flora's lamb shoulder with English Mustard

mine - cheezy chicken

(Note: pictures are blurry coz my camera was running out of battery then )

Overall the food is good ...but the portion is HUGE!!! I guess that's why they called it Sharing Planet ...share your food people ..coz you wont be able to eat it all on your own. E.g. Flora's dish actually contains 3 pieces of lamb shoulder!!! that was huge, and so was my chicken dish ....too much for just one person ....and the price is also reasonable :-)

the garden setting was nice and cozy ..we were seated at the back gardens, away from the main dining area ..overlooking a pond. Nice and quiet ...and suitable if you want to have a group dining as it is away from the main dining area ....i love the design and setting of this place ...

Would I come to have dinner here again? Definitely ...if I can find my way ...I came here with Chris so I was not paying attention to where we were ..but  I know it is somewhere near Masterskills in Batu Kawa ...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Umang is 2 months old

Time really flies ...Umang turned two months old two days ago ....we left her when she was one month old time flies ...and two days ago, her mommy started working again ..and Umang was sent to her babysitter's place (Makcik Ros) for the very first time ...

my sister was very anxious all day that day ...she said he cant wait to be home to have a cuddle with the baby. My dad and mom were also edgy all day - the thought of their only granddaughter being sent to a babysitter is not something that they like, but have to accept as that was the best available option, they were quite relieved to hear my sister told them that Umang is ok ...just that she had to be sent to the sitter as early as 6.30am and picked up at 6.30pm, by either mummy or daddy - whoever reaches home first ....

anyway, Umang is much better now. Stll a bit collicky but always gets better once she is given the meds ...and her weight also increases dad called her "tindoh" (i.e. ulat sagu) ...something similar to a carterpiller ...coz of her shape lol ....

more pictures coming soon :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

countryside scenary

I am not sure about you guys, but I sometimes need to get away from busy urban life ..away from the traffic congestion and there is always a need to just chill ...i prefer to go to the beaches, but sometimes going to rural areas (or countryside as it is often called in the west) can also be very calming ...something like a switch from busy day-to-day life and routine to a more relax, with nothing-urgent-to-do kind of thing, if you get my drift ...

when I was in the UK, I sometimes visited Cam's place - which is outside of Newcastle ..and he and his wife often took me for a walk ...sometimes along the river, or we'll go visiting one of these historic gardens, castles and what not ...I find these walks relaxing and all the scenary are very much different from what we have here in Malaysia ...and recently, during one of his visit to Malaysia, Cam was saying something about how he love to explore the villages here and just admire the views coz is is very different from what he called "concrete jungles" of the west ...and that sort of get me thinking that we often appreciate other places more than our own places ...

Alnick Garden - one of our favourite spot for walking

 Alnick Castle - looks familiar? Scenes from Harry Potter movies were shot here :-)

That is very true in my case. I left home after Form 5 and most of my 20s and 30s were spent in Shah Alam (studying and working), Newcastle, and Shrewsbury ...and during that period, i spent most of my holidays in Europe - Amsterdam, Rome, Brussels, Luxemburg, Brugge, Ostend, Paris, Dublin - to name a few ...I glad I did that, by the way, coz now, if I were to go to these places for holiday, I'll be hugely in debt ...too expensive! anyway, upon my return in 2005, I started to get involved in fieldworks to the interior of Saarwak ..and boy, that was an eye opener for me ....I visited placed that I have not heard of, and places that I would never have visited had it not been on my fieldwork lists ...i am not saying that I fall in love with those places, but they opened my eyes to the fact that there are places out there, in my own country that I never knew sad is that!

and from the various field trip that I had been to, I actually found places which are very beautiful indeed ...and much of these are out of bound for the tourists ...and these are the places that I do fall in love with ....they are unspoilt and the views are awesome! The people are always very friendly ....

beach @ Telok Melano

view of kampung air @ Pulau Gaya, Sabah

early morning @Lundu

having said that, I am not a hypocrite ...I know I cannot survive living in these places, beautiful they maybe, for a long time ...I miss my modern comfort too much! But I vow that, one day, I will visit other places - known and unknown places - in my own country: top priority will be Mulu & Niah Cave

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pineapple Fried Rice - simple recipe

yes, simple recipe indeed ...why do I post a recipe that is so simple, one may asks ....well, I often look up a recipe, simple or otherwise, before I cook ...hehehe so, it is for the benefit of someone like me, who sometimes face huge "cooking block' (similar to writer's block) when it come to cooking ..we all have our limitations right?

 the end result

 i just use whatever i had in the fridge and kitchen cupboard for this simple dish:

(i)     Heat oil in a frying pan -add sliced beef till brown and set aside
(ii)    In the same pan, add a bit more oil, and add  chopped garlic, minced ginger and chopped onions. Till fragrant
(iii)   because i like it to be spicy, I add chillies at this stage (chopped fresh chillies or chillie paste - whatever you have), and continue to heat it up. Add vegetables - like carrots, Pak Choi and, of course, pineapples. I love to use fresh pineapples - but canned ones are also good. your choice ...
(iv)   and then add rice - preferably cold rice coz it means that the rice will be easily separated. Hot rice tend to stick together and becoming lumpy ...and stir through thoroughly to coat the rice
(v)    toss in the fried beef, season with salt and pepper ...and at the very last minute, add chopped cariander leaves ...

serve and ready to eat ....sometimes I had a side serving of fried egg to go with this ...or a side salad (lettuce, corn and tomato) i said, it's your choice :-) and what's more important is that you can make this in a jiffy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

travelling by plane with infants - the essential items to bring

It is easy when you have to travel on your own ...just pack your bags and head to your destination ...if you forget to pack some essential items, you can always (i) buy new one, or (ii) go without it ..but travelling with kids can sometimes be a nightmare ...especially travelling with tiny tots

adik at 4 months

Adik was 4 months old when I had to bring him to KL with us ...for his baptism then he was already 3 months staying with me and my parents ...we were afraid of a lot of things - what if he cries in the plane? what if he is inconsolable? and many more questions friend Elena told me to do a checklist of the things that a baby needs ...she pass me a copy of her checklist (she travels abroad a lot and her kids often travel with her) ...

here's the main item that she said a must when travelling by plane:

#1: birth cert / My card (and baby's clinic car - just in case, especially if it is a long holiday)
#2: formula, bottles etc - airlines do provide hot water for the formula, so it would be easier if you have a few bottles handy. We are ask the stewardess to help heat the bottles
#3: pacifier and comfort blanket (bantal busuk etc)
#4: fav toys or books - anything that you can use to pacify the baby when he/she is cranky
#5: spare clothing/ diapers/ etc - and also a spare cloth for yourself in case the baby puke on you!
#6: wet wipes - one of the best things ever invented!
#7: stroller - dont worry, airlines staffs will store these for you one you are at the door of the plane

What we did was to feed adik with a bottle during take off and another bottle during landing. That helps to ease his ear pressure. Apparently the sucking motion lessen the impact of ear pressure, which is said to be greater during take off and landing. The use of pacifier is also encourage in this case. Our pead, Dr Tan, told us to bring pacifier for adik when she knew we were taking him flying then.

another tip that I often get is that keep the baby up i.e. dont let the baby sleep before the flight ..this will make them tired and, hence, will sleep soundly (fingers crossed) when they are on board far, we have never encounter any problem with adik during our frequent flights KL in his early years ...he is a great baby, he might cried a bit but can be pacified using his toys, or books or by feeding him ...

and my dad is always stressing on the need to use a small bag - so that it can be stored underneath the seat! Reason, it means that you'll have easy access to the items in your bags ...convenient especially if you are travelling alone with the infant. His motto is travel light - only bring the baby's items - you can leave your cloths behind or have them checked in :-)

adik aged 2.5 years - on our trip to KK ..he was reading most of the time!

and now he is turning 4 this sept - but getting to be harder to please during the flight. The recent flight to KL saw him getting impatient when the flight was delayed mum just had to give him his bottle before we even boarded the plane ...thankfully, he did not experience any discomfort to his ear during take off :-

waiting to board the plane at 8.00am @ KLIA

Thursday, August 9, 2012

like a brother ...

The two best friends since childhood ..they are actually cousin, my dad's mom and my uncle's dad are sibling ...they grew up together and their relationship is actually more like brothers ..they are closer to each other than to their own brothers ...both have said the same thing over the years ...

I grew up being close to my Uncle K (as we called him) and his family ..we visited each other often ...have dinner together, family trips and what nots ...when they are living far away from us (on a few occasions that he was transferred to other parts of Sarawak), we always met up especially during holidays ...and that tradition continues till this very day ....we visited each other when we have the chance - and not just during festivals ...

taken last June, during our Gawai visit to Uncle K's house ...and their favourite drinks!

and both of them are happy that their kids (me and my siblings and our cousins) get along well with each other my aunty always said, we dont ask for your money, we just want you guys to visit us ..after all, we are family :-)

christmas 2007 ...during one of our visits :-)

My cousin who stands next to me in the picture is actually the same age as me ..we went to school together ... my aunty always scolded us back then, coz we were often late when it comes to getting ready for school ..we were attending afternoon classes back then ...and to make matters worse is when it was my Uncle K's turn to send us to school ...the reason: he drive REALLY REALLY slow ...and if it is his turn we were always late!!! and that habit of his still persist to this day ...he still drive very slow ... it has become a private joke in the family :-)

Now that both my uncle and my dad are retired, they dont live in the same vicinity uncle live in the village after his retirement, but often live a nomadic life - visiting his children in Sri Aman, Kapit and Miri ...whilst my dad lives with us in Kuching and going back to the villages frequently now, their meeting place is the coffeeshop at the village! Can't wait to catch up with him and his family this coming Raya holidays ....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Umang's Baptism

Two weeks ago Umang was baptised at St Mary's Cathederal in KL was exactly 2 weeks after we left KL, so none of us was there uncle suggested that Umang be baptised as soon as possible, and together with his new born grandaughter (who was 4 days older than Umang). My uncle arranges for everything - the forms, the godparents' list etc etc and my parents agreed with him ...

during the service

Umang and mummy at home ..i love her tiny hat!

my parents are sad that they are not able to attend the service, but they felt that it should go ahead without them ...and they felt ok with it as they know my sister is not completely alone without any family member attending ...that's because my uncle (mom's step brother) and his family are all there to support my sister

my cousin Ana and her baby Gisele ...Gisele is 4 days older than Umang

and my other cousin, whom we called Girl, is Umang's God Mother ...and Jane and my borther are also Umang's God parents ...

looks like we wont be seeing Umang anytime soon - my sister found a babysitter who live in the same block of flats as hers and the person has agree to take care of Umang, wait and see lah when we are going to see her next ....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

awaiting decisions - and it is killing me!

I have been having these flashbacks the lats few weeks ...flashbacks to my university days ...i was triggered by my applications to do PhD ..well, the uncertainties surrounding the applications and its lengthy process and all that ...i am still not sure where I will be by Jan next year ...this is hard coz I cannot plan any holiday, plan my work schedule etc etc is still hanging on the air ...awaiting decisions from above ...

the Monument - my fav meeting place with friends!

i am telling myself over and over again that I can do it ..i have survived before and am sure, Gods willing, will survive again is a matter of will, bring it on ...Penang or Wellington, both places have their own pros and cons ..and I am sure both will be great for me ...but nothing can take Newcastle from my heart is like a second home to me ...a place where i grew up so to speak ...spent all my 20s there and part of my 30s has a very special place in my heart, always has and always will be ...

if I go to Wellington, it would be a whole new experience so used to winder in dec but down south the winter is in June! and I have never been to that part of the  world - and spending 4 years there would be great ...on the other hand, Penang is a great place to live and study ....the food is awesome and the beach is aplenty ..and the deciding factor is that it is less than 2 hours flight to Kuching ...and direct flights are available daily, come on .....give me a decision so that I can move on with this!!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Al's Monday Blues

Had a usual Monday delaying tactics from Al today ..he is always hard to get up on Monday ...always finding excuses not to get up ..and today is worst coz Jane is on morning shift, so it was me who is supposed to get him ready for school ...the routine is that Al gets up and come to my room to wake me up (hahahaha!) and then he has his early morning bath (latest by 7.30 am) whilst daddy will be ironing his school uniform and nenek preparing his breakfast ...see, everybody is involved!!!! except adik, who is still sleeping soundly :-)

today was especially hard to get him out of the bad ...daddy manages to get him up at 7.20 after a few rounds of gentle persuasion (which failed!) and a round of slightly not so gentle persuasion ....Al was not happy hahahaha ....but we still manages to get both Al and Daddy out of the house before 8am ....

anyway, was browsing through my picture folders to get photos for my report when I came across a few of Al's photos ...enjoy!

his fav routine ..watching youtube whilst waiting from breakfast ...he is allowed to lie down if is is a t-shirt day :-)

this is funny ...he wrote his name in two lines coz his handwriting is very bad! he really hates writing ...the teacher said that he will be very slow and moody when he has to do writing exercises, but was quick and cheerful when it comes to singing, play acting and arts day ..

and he got this habit of using only ONE colour at a time everything will be coloured using that chosen colour of the day ....i have been telling him to use as many colours as suitable, and he said No, Mama ..I will do it ....not you ...huhuhu stubborn boy!

and a funny thing was that, we - the whole family- did not know that he has tests last semester ..we just sort of assumed that he is going to school to learn to read, write and make friends and all that ..hehahaha silly us! until one day he brought back his report card!

and we were shocked with the results ...OMG we have so little expectations! we just assumed there is no test coz he never mentions it ....His teacher said he did well in all subjects ....two papers with 96 and 98 marks whilst the other two papers were on the high 80s mark ..speechless for a while, before we burst out laughing ....but the only thing that is lacking is his attendance ....he is often missing classes hehehe ...

some of his works ...told him to use his ruler, but his stubborn attitude persists!

hope he'll excel in school ...mama is proud of you dear boy ....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

that's what family are for ...

just got the news that my little neice, Umang, as she is fondly known,  will be staying with us for a while ....maybe till she is 6 months old. It was decided that, due to babysitting problem, that she will be taken care of by us in Kuching ...till she is bigger ..and until my sister find a new arrangement in KL ...

we are so looking forward to having her with us ...there was no hesitation whatsoever when my sister told us of her predicament, everyone just says send her over, we'll look after her SIL went back to her mom's house this morning to get back all of adik's baby stuffs get them ready before Umang arrives on Saturday ...the house will be full of baby noises again :-)

but one person who is so excited is none other than Al ...he is asking us to go to the airport to check if Umang's flight has landed! hehehehe