23 Dec 2012

Ginger Bread House

Dec has been busy, jolly and wonderful for us. It's come and will be gone way too soon. A dear friend who reads this blog reminded me that I should still take more time to rest. Thank you for the dear reminder Jen, your voice rings in my head when the days get too busy. :)

 Anyway, just a short post to wish everyone a very beautiful and blessed Christmas. Also to upload this year's Christmas craft. Last year we attempted figurines made of bread dough and ginger bread men. Well, this year we decided to try a Ginger Bread House. It certainly was a lot of work, from making the dough, to measuring and cutting out the wall and roof pieces and then making them stick together and decorating.

 Both Nel and Jo helped me throughout, coz which kid doesn't love playing with dough. :) As for the decoration, they did it on their own. Our house looks like an olden house from Bethlehem, simply coz I cut the sides wrong, and totally forgot the triangles, thus a flat roof. haha..

Decked with marshmallows, candy, chocolates, jelly beans, skittles and sprinkles of sugar.

The other side of the house

As you can see, errr....the decorations started off well...but soon they were more focused on eating the candy rather than sticking on the candy. haha... Still, a house done from scratch. :) We'll be sharing it with family and friends during thanksgiving reunion on Christmas day.

Blessed Christmas all, and a Happy New Year! :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


19 Dec 2012

Revisiting Pulau Ketam

My children read this blog nowadays because they love reminiscing stuff they've done. So this blog is really becoming more for them. 

We had an early Christmas celebration on Pulau Ketam with the locals there. We went with good friends and cousins of course. :) It was a little hard for Nel and Jo to mingle and understand most of the conversation at the party, coz people there converse in Mandarin only. After the trip, they were both  more resolved to learn the language. (Hopefully this desire continues.)

Nel just loved the colourful houses, and wished ours was just as colourful.

Bikes are modified to fit as many passengers as possible. We've seen up to 6 people on one bicycle.
 After the party we went on a short walk to do a little field trip assignment (plus for a bite of that delicious fried ice cream. ) The assignment was to observe 10 things about the island that needed improvement, and 10 reasons why living on the island is a good thing. Reasons had to be supported with photographs. Of course, Jo and cousins went running totally ignoring the assignment while Nel and Lyd took it seriously. Looking forward to the presentation and photos.
Nel taking her assignment seriously.

We looked at this junk yard and were amazed at the collection of thrown away stuff. If you look at my old post you'll see picture of an older man working in the same place, cigarette in his mouth.
We decided that this was a horrid toilet (as most of the toilets on the island are). Slanting, and all it was, was basically a hole in the ground and all poop and pee goes straight into the river.
We were fascinated by the huge mud skippers,

and birds that live on the mangrove.

 Nel, wrote that on the positive side of P Ketam, dogs here have the freedom to roam, unlike on mainland where they're hunted and shot if found roaming.

We saw local children playing and thought, "How fun!. "
And we saw them swimming but thought "No WAY! Am I swimming in that dirty water." Yet we thought, what a closely knitted community they were, because you could just holler across at your neighbour and everyone could just dive in and swim to a common spot for fun and play.
This was the reason why we wouldn't swim there. And Lyd noted in her diary "They have no swimming pool but only dirty water to swim in!"
After our lovely walk,

we headed to the local restaurant for a really scrumptious, delicious 8 course dinner with friends and family. Yummm!!
We passed by this lonely lady. But we also observed groups of elderly citizens gathering over a cup of coffee and newspaper. Some over a game of cards (gambling) and decided that the elderly citizens here have somewhat a better life, coz they have good friends to pass time with, unlike elderly folks in the city who mostly lived alone.

We had a feast for dinner, and took the night speed boat back to mainland. 
That boat ride in the middle of the dark ocean was just so exciting! 
Strong winds, and speeding boats over bumpy waves with bright stars shining in the star. What a wonderful way to end a beautiful day.
Playing with water while waiting for the speed boat to arrive.

Leaving P Ketam on a speed boat

For more photos on Pulau Ketam, please visit my old post right HERE.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


14 Dec 2012

Bits an pieces from Dec

A brief post. Lots have been going on here, mostly catching up with good friends and family. Though I told myself that we shall take it easy this Christmas, it looks like it's gonna be a busy one again. We kicked off this season by visiting the Hospice with the Start Children. My children were privileged that they got to come along. We spent time singing songs to the patients there, and making Christmas crafts with them. The encouragement certainly went both ways. Our songs cheered them up, while we were encouraged to see their strong positive spirits despite all they're going through.

We cut out Christmas decorations together with the patients at the Hospice. Working together in joy and sharing.

I also celebrate my birthday in December. I awoke to find this beautiful flower from hubby. He intended to get my favourite which is the Sunflower, but alas, there are no sunflowers this rainy season so this was the closest substitute :). More lovely than the flower was the touching message that came with it. I am blessed with a wonderful husband.
My children sent me on a treasure hunt and I found a new pair of sandals. Jo decided to recycleby wrapping up a bag I hardly used and presented it to me. haha...:) She also made a big Happy Birthday Banner which she stuck over my bed.

What else. Today I began spring cleaning (*atishooo!!!!*) While I was cleaning, the girls  went ahead and baked cream cheese brownie for an upcoming party. Looks a little lumpy but tasted good nevertheless. :) 

Finally to end this short post, we'd like to sing two songs. Actually...we were singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and the kids thought "Dorothy of Wizard of Oz lives on a farm, surely the song must have animal sounds." We had a good laugh mucking about with the song and decided to record it.
So here's our rendition. Hope you enjoy it. :) [p.s pardon the monkey that somehow appeared on the farm....]

Finally Merry Christmas. Forgive Jo for continuously putting animal sounds still. She couldn't get away from Dorothy and the farm. :) haha....

Till my next post, Blessed Christmas all. :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


5 Dec 2012

Jo's first written piece

Jo loves stories.  For a long time though, she was a reluctant reader, preferring to be read to (we read lots of Classics together).  The only books she would read on her own were short books about mermaids and mermaids. However, recently she decided to read some thicker books on her own. The very first non mermaid book which she read on her own was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and that's because she loves chocolate too much!

As for writing, Jo loves making cards and I receive many cards from her throughout the year. When inspired, she writes  picture stories . But apparently any other sort of writing that is longer is "tiring." :P   But today, after reading a beautifully written excerpt  by a young girl, Fara Ling, Jo was so inspired that she told me to sit at the computer. She said she had a story to tell, and I had to help her type it. So I did, and this is her very first attempt at writing a fiction. First draft below.
 By Jo, 7.

The morning sun rose from the depths of the earth.  A Nature Lady sat on her throne glaring at unsuspecting children. Her gleaming orange hair sailing in the wind, and her sunset coloured clothes shimmering with sparkles of gold.

An eagle sailed around her as she held up her fist. She cast a spell, raised her two hands and roared “Earth strike with Water,  COME!” 

And suddenly the children found themselves in the part of the sea near the mountains. There was a roaring storm with crashing waves that pounded on them. A whirling pool pulled the children inside. The children struggled to free themselves while the Nature Lady stood on her throne, her hands raised, cackling wickedly.
The Guardian of the Earth suddenly appeared in front of her. He said “Well done Nature Lady. You have completed your first task. Here is your golden medal.” Alas, this Guardian of the Earth was also a wicked guardian who's intention was to kill the children but not in a bloody way. He took her hand and they both went in behind the throne into a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a tree. On the tree, they placed her medal, and she earned her second power which was the ability to make sea volcanoes appear and sink.

In the meantime, the children struggled and managed to climb onto a rock. Suddenly a mermaid came to rescue  the children. The mermaid sprinkled scales on the ocean and said “Calm down.” The crashing and roaring waves calmed down immediately. The mermaid put the children into a deep sleep and placed them into a seashell boat and pushed them to shore.  Then the mermaid disappeared back underwater. 

 When the children woke up, there was something strange on their necks. There was a seashell necklace that was golden with sparkles. When they opened it, there was a picture of the mermaid who rescued them.

Jo's afterthought. 
Strangely the Mermaid looked like the Nature Lady. In fact, the Mermaid was actually the Nature Lady. She was good and didn't want to hurt the children, but she had to in order to earn her next power.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


30 Nov 2012

A Visit to Zoo Negara (National Zoo)

We've not been to the zoo in ages, coz it's too far, and I've always thought, it's not such a great place to visit. But Jo's been bugging me about it. The last we went, Nel was just about 3 years old and Jo a baby. So we went today.

Somehow by circumstances, it was just going to be me and my 2 girls for this field trip. At first Nel and Jo were a little disappointed, hoping that some friends might join them, but we made up our minds that we were going to enjoy this family time, just us.

Both girls had their backpacks, notebooks to jot down interesting stuff, a camera and a bottle of water. I also gave them pocket money for the day and told them that the amount would be for souvenirs or ice cream or food, and they would have to spend it wisely.

Jo was the most excited amongst us, going up to every enclosure with such excitement, taking lots of photos and asking questions like a journalist or zoo inspector. Most of the questions she asked though was about the well being of the animal.  At one point, I heard her talking loudly to this elephant.

 She said "Mr. Elephant...I'm so sorry you're stuck here. I know you're shaking your head left and right, and people think you're happy when you're actually sad. I hope one day you'll get to be free."

Missing Camera
As for Nel, she was more interested in photography. Her shots have improved and she was just enjoying it when we decided to take a break for lunch. Somehow, after lunch her camera went missing. We looked around the restaurant, in her pockets and in her bag but couldn't find it. I was upset, and so was she. We walked on with me nagging her. She began writing in her notebook, and later I noticed that she was leaving notes in random places with a message saying "If you find a missing camera please call this number...."

Finally we stopped by the lake and sat down. I decided I had to stop nagging and not spoil the day anymore. We talked about how she could get a camera again by saving up. We calculated how much money she would need to purchase a new one, how many months it would take to save up, things she could do to help her save up. I also happened to peep into her diary, and she had written "Dear Lord, help me find my camera." I prayed quietly too.

To cut a long story short, we continued happily, and three quarter ways into the trip, Nel discovered a lump in her bag, in an undiscovered corner, and shouted "My CAMERA!!!!"  Haha..such joy. And another short talk ensued about blah blah blah. I know, I just have to be a "mother." heh heh..

We  truly enjoyed our time alone, discussing things along the way like suitability of the enclosures, characteristics of the animals, food, the weather and things in general. :)

After several hours of walking in great weather,  we decided to watch the 3pm animal show. We barely sat for 5 minutes when it began to rain. We ran for shelter, and Nel said "But Mum, I want to stay, in case they restart the show." Jo replied "Mum, are you INSANE? The best thing to do now is to rush to the car before it starts to storm!"
Can you imagine, my 7 year old talking to me that way? Well, we decided to wait. The show restarted. After a short performance by a sea lion it began pouring again! this upset Jo, while Nel was willing to brave the rain in order to continue watching.

Finally I told Jo "Look, why don't I hang on to your things, you go forward and enjoy the show. Just pretend you're swimming." So she went along. We were all drenched, but Jo said "This was one of the best part of the day mum, getting wet!" haha...

There were other good lessons learnt. Nel spent her money very wisely, always calculating before spending and weighing her decisions. Jo was more rash, impulsive and regretted her expensive ice cream, coz that meant less money for a souvenir.

As for the zoo, I'd say, much can be done to improve it. I won't say much more about it, this is not a review anyway. The girls have some  favourite animals such as the tiger, giraffes, capybara, penguins (although we agreed that they looked really sad to be cooped up in the zoo), the pony and the zebras. Girls were also very fascinated by these really huge tortoises,

this very busy busy hedgehog

and these sleepy, cute Wallace Flying Frogs.

Most important lesson
To conclude, our cameras protected in waterproof bags, we walked back to the car in the rain, drenched. The girls kept saying "Thank you mum for a wonderful day."

 We learnt that we don't always need the company of friends to enjoy a field trip out, and that family time alone can be equally enjoyable and satisfying, like warm soup on a cold day. :)

Nel enjoying photography.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


18 Nov 2012

KL Bird Park

Nel had been away at camp. when Jo feeling lonely, requested for the company of Lo, who immediately, excitedly, requested to stay over for several nights. Having two young ones at home, we decided to spend a day out and headed out to the KL Bird park, "World's Largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary."

Half way on our journey there it began to rain. The kids prayed hard that the rain would stop. Meanwhile,  we decided to stop by the Planetarium for a while, since it was in the vicinity. My very first time there. I thought it was just ok, although we really enjoyed the Sun, Earth, Moon show. When the show finished, the rain had stopped, and the day was beautiful and cool! :) That provided us a lovely day for a long walk at the park.

 Jo especially was really excited. Next to being crazy about Mermaids, she loves birds. She's always wished she had wings to fly. She writes stories bout birds, and we've been on many bird watching trips.

First, we stopped by Hornbill Restaurant for lunch. We were accompanied by hungry birds who eyed our food greedily! Finally, one bird, unable to control its urge any longer, took a chance and charged at Lo's food. hahaha...

Lo' reaction was quite comical. He quickly grabbed two mouthfuls of spaghetti with his hands and stuffed them into his mouth, keeping an eye on the bird, who made several more attempts. Lunch over, we began our walk. It was really, my very first nature outing since my surgery, and I found it refreshing and lovely to  be outdoors again.

Some random photos below:

Ibis building nests

  We were attracted by this blue Indian Ringneck parakeet

Watching a Victoria Crowned Pigeon

A Milky Stork drying its wings 

  Running after Lo who was chasing birds way ahead

We saw this peacock doing a courtship dance to attract a peafowl. It kept fluttering  its wings (creating a buzzing sound), and moved after the peafowl slowly.

However, the peafowl was uninterested and moved away towards Jo who fed it. 

The peacock disappointed, closed its wings...

And walked away.

Overall, we enjoyed our day tremendously. Jo was ecstatic that she got to carry several oriental birds, and was especially happy when she got to hold an owl.  Lo, however, refused to carry any birds and was contented at chasing them.

My only regret was that I didn't bring a better camera. We'll probably visit again very soon, coz Jo has been bugging to revisit, and Nel who just got home after 5 days away, wants to go too. :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


13 Nov 2012


With holidays here, the girls have been baking/cooking more than usual.

Nel and her cousin made these delicious scones for tea last week. Well, it was a wee bit harder than the ones we've had at restaurants, but I think great for a first attempt. As soon as it was fresh out of the oven, we gobbled these warm scones down with some melted butter and raspberry jam. Jo served us some lemonade she made. Altogether it was a lovely tea time. Yumm.

Jo's been at it too. She bugged and bugged her daddy to get her to the groceries. Their intention was just to get ingredients for some pancakes, but father and daughters (Nel tagged along too) ended up buying several bags of groceries for further experiments at cooking. Will blog about it as they experiment. Items in the bag included several cartons of milk, different sorts of cheese, wild forest ham, bacon, maple syrup and all sorts of delicious goodness. "My goodness, exclaimed dear hubby upon returning from the grocery store. I didn't expect to buy so many things!" haha. But well, hubby didn't have to work hard. It was Jo, Nel and their cousin Lyd who did all the searching, running from aisle to aisle while hubby just stood in a corner with the cart (so I heard from the children.)

Well, Jo made these entirely on her own. They were golden, and simply delicious. We had these with maple syrup and some iced chocolate drink.

Just last weekend, Nel still very inspired in the art of baking, baked Savoury Parmesan Puffs. She's really happy with the outcome, and we had it over dinner together with some beef stew I made. If you love cheese, this is delicious and takes so little time to make.

The recipe is really easy and we got it from the following book which we borrowed from the library.

Although the title says The Great Big Cookie book, it contains tonnes of mouth watering stuff to make, from savoury scones and puffs to sweet brownies, and even includes baked gift ideas. Nel REALLy loves this book, and I will have to look into purchasing one, since ours is borrowed from the library.

 The recipe to this simple puff was so easy. -Basically first sprinkle baking tins with parmesan.
-Then in a separate bowl beat 2 eggs, 1 cup milk and 1Tbsp butter, add 1 cup flour and some salt till smoothly blended.
-Pour batter over the parmesan. Bake at high for 15 mins, sprinkle with more parmesan and bake further at lower temperature for about 20 mins. So simple, and really delicious.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


7 Nov 2012

Reminiscing Alsace, France

Two years ago, hubby and I won free flights to Europe. It was an exciting and memorable trip, a blessing from above. We back-packed, starting in Rome, heading northwards through quaint little towns by train, spending more time in Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre before moving on into France, Switzerland, and then departing for home via Milan. I've not blogged about the trip except for a post I wrote last year entitled Missing Cinque Terre.

Well..it's about 2 years exactly now since our trip, and I am reminiscing again, this time of our visit to dear friends in the Alsace region of France. Equipped then only with a tiny compact, these are not great shots, but looking at them brings much joyful memories to me. The best part about this leg of the trip was meeting with close friends. I cannot forget the joy of seeing Leen at the train station, and then going out into that cold air to find her family waiting in the car, the children still wide awake despite it being way past bedtime. :)  Such joy to be reunited. Anyway, there were as usual hundreds of shots...just a few basic ones below now.
Leaving Italy for France via train was a very long journey. We passed by many small Italian towns on the way.

We don't get to see this sort of scenery in Malaysia..bales of hay. I remember days of being a student in the USA...where sometimes my  friend Heather and I would trek through the quiet woods to enjoy autumn's colours, then sometimes climbing onto a bale of hay for a rest and a chat under the cool, misty sky.

The journey was so long we munched on junk food, learned and revised bits of Italian and of course sketched a couple of pictures.
It got exciting when we began passing through Switzerland. Sometimes the pressure from going into the tunnels would create a sudden pop/pressure in the ears!We later visited beautiful Switzerland with Leen, but that'll have to be a different post, perhaps next year. ;)

Reunited with Leen we spent some lovely time in her kitchen. (Me in black)

 One of the days, Leen took off from work and took us across the lovely country side, enjoying views of vineyards made bare by the constant rain and chilly air...Can't remember the name of this building though.

 Sometimes getting lost while looking for shortcuts.  haha...:)

 We visited the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle built in the 12th century, and I was just in awe of almost everything in the castle..from the paintings on the wall, to the glass windows, chandeliers, the really antique furniture etc.

 Sorry bad picture, cropped too near. But notice the use of animal's skull a part of the chandelier. Fancy having one in your house?


Hubby thought the view from the very top of the castle would have been really breath taking if not for the fog. Still for a person who comes from such a warm country, I found all that fog beautiful, and serene.

We visited a quaint little town not far off (sorry again, I've forgotten the name. I should have blogged this 2 years ago!)  I remember just loving the Christmas decorations, the smell of delicious delicacies oozing out from some of the bakeries inviting, tempting me!

I was ever so tempted to just buy tonnes of christmas decoration, but was reminded that I was back packing, and there was a limit as to what I could carry. In the end, we just got several ginger bread soft toys, a few boxes of ginger bread cookies/bread for family.

We also had a delicious lunch of veal, potatoes, salad and of course, Alsace wine, of which there are no photos coz there was much to catch up on with Leen (minus kids). What else? I got to taste a bit of Leen's life when we walked her children to school, looked at her amazing batch of huge pumpkins, and hubby helped her fix the tree house. *smile*...beautiful memories.

Finally, the above was a view from the castle we visited. I was just thinking again about that trip....how earlier in the year, I was just sighing and wishing we'd have some extra money to visit Europe. Also it had been so long since hubby and I had a trip together. And walla...the free tickets came. Truly, God looks through the window of my heart, He knows me best, and He provided for it all.

And it was also in celebration of our 10th Wedding Anniversary. What perfect timing it was. :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012

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