26 Jul 2012


 The picture on the left is something I briefly did using MrDoob.com. It is an  image that came to mind when I was self-searching and came across a book for mothers. The author asked "So how often have you been chopping others down with your words."

I pictured my children and husband as trees, and me, the mum who had the power of words in her tongue. My words could be used to encourage and lift my family up, or to chop them down swiftly with negative words.

Of late, I admit, I've been on the crankier side of life. Sometimes life seems to feel like me supporting a heavy blanket that will not lift off. As I get overheated under that weight, I let it out on the ones I love most. I let it out in negative words.

I'm thankful that, it's not taken me long to realise this, as I'm not comfortable with this part of me either. It is something that wasn't there before but is surfacing.,...thus the self searching. The above picture is not the original one I drew. In the original drawing with pencil, as I sketched, tears streamed down my face as I drew each broken branch, feeling the hurts that words can leave on a dear one. As I drew, I prayed, and asked that God would give me strength to use my tongue wisely.
May the words I use encourage those I love.  May I use words to build my family, that they may feel confident and proud of themselves, that they may face the world with joy, and not a downcast spirit.

I know, all this has to begin with me. But I alone cannot change, I cannot support myself. So, actually, it all boils down to me, leaning on my Rock, my Maker, my God. I know, without God, it is not possible for me to fulfill my duties of a mother, wife and teacher with joy. But I know, with Him it is possible. As a dear friend who talked with me said, "time to slow down, and seek His face...to dwell in God.."  Indeed, only in God can one find solace, comfort, peace, wisdom, joy and strength.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


20 Jul 2012

Art with Melted Crayons

I first came across art with melted crayon when I saw a friend post her beautiful work on FB. I thought I had to try it together with my children. So we headed to the shop and got three thick black poster sheets for a base, some candles and lotsa crayons/oil pastel.

The project was lots of fun! Just google it and you'll get many tutorials. Basically you can either just stick on your crayons and melt them with a hair dryer, or let the crayons melt in the sun (no control here), or melt the tip of the crayon and draw short strokes or just dab on paper to create small dots. We decided to try a combination today.

Here we started today by melting the tips of crayons/oil pastel and dabbed on paper to create patterns.

2) This here is my work, partially done (dot by dot!). I  stuck on the crayons on the top of the head, which I then melted down with a hairdryer.

3) Here's the result of the above. It is a rather long process though, and can only be done with high heat. As I  melted the crayons with the hair dryer, I controlled the direction of flow by tilting the paper, and also by controlling the direction from which I blew the hairdryer. It is also possible to blow on the flowing wax to spread it further.

4)  Hair done, I just melted the tip of crayon and coloured the inside of the eyes. And that completed the work of the day. :)

My kids.....

Jo started well... dabbing dots here and there. But being the slightly impatient person she is, she decided on free flow. So she stuck on bits of crayons/pastel here and there, and we blew these with the hair dryer.

Nel put in great effort in actually completing an entire picture. Belief me, it is hard work, doing dot after dot, plus crayons cool down very fast. She then added "splashes" of melted wax. I must say that both enjoyed the process of melting wax with hair dryer, and so did I. It's the thrill of watching it melt and flow....it's just somehow, fascinating, satisfying. :)

Here's my complete work for the day. I believe a teacher should always work with her students to motivate them, and at the same time to demonstrate stuff  and to inspire ideas. Art together is always more fun. :)

That's all. Do give it a try. Just be warned, lots of mess! and lots of time needed to complete this.
By the way, we found a weaver ant in our garden and kids decided to put it in a jar. Not a clear picture (taken through the glass), but here is the queen ant guarding her larva which will soon become worker ants for her that will start a new colony. yikes.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


18 Jul 2012

Kids making Aloo Paratha

My kids have developed a love for cooking.  Just yesterday as I was teaching in the evening they decided to cook their own dinner. I heard clinking and clanking. When I was done teaching, dinner (part dinner), was ready. They had cooked a pot of rice, and later scooped it out, mixed it with a dash of vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt and wrapped it in seaweed. Simple Korean food. Wonderful isn't it?

I believe these are important skills that allow a child  to feel empowered. Seriously, it's not always about math and science you know (although yes they are important too). Life skills enable a child to feel confident as they are able to do stuff usually done by adults, they are able to contribute to household duties and responsibilities and feel proud about it.

Ok, before the ramble gets longer, here's today. Back in the USA, I lived with a wonderful roommate who's Indian/Ceylonese. I recall days when I would cook Chinese cuisine,she would do Indian cuisine, and we'd sit down and have a feast! I wanted my children to experience making Paratha today. Something I learned back then. I know, my recipe may have been greatly warped by my failing memory *grin*....but whatever, here's close to what I remember, and what we did today. Well, actually the kids did everything, except the dhal.
1) First we boiled some potatoes, mashed them and added Indian spices and salt. We also made dough out of wheat flour, mixed with a bit of olive oil and yoghurt. Kneading is always great fun for kids, and therapeutic I think. We let the flour sit for about 15 minutes. In the mean time, I cooked some dhal. I wanted to make Chickpea curry, but the grocery shop nearby had no chickpea so we settled for dhal.

Potato balls and dough

2) Then kids took turns in rolling their own dough out. I only had one instruction for them, keep turning the dough to create a nice round shape.

3) They then added a ball of potato in the center, and pinched the dough up, adding just a touch of olive oil on the top.

4) Again, they rolled this out, so now there's a nice flat bread with potato on the inside.

5) Nel and Jo fried their own parathas on the pan....not perfect or beautiful as the ones you find on cooking sites, but I think, great achievement for them. :)

So here, above and below for lunch was our version of Aloo Paratha with home made dhal. :) This dhal recipe, I learnt by watching my friends cook (lots of tomatoes, onions, some dhal, spices, cilantro and yoghurt.)

Yup, so lunch was delicious. . :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


13 Jul 2012

Home Art

After a break from art (due to busy Fridays), we resumed home art today. During the last few classes we focused on lines and curves, and I thought it'd be nice now to move on to shading.

I got the lesson plans from http://www.drawspace.com/ , which has great lesson plans for drawing. We practiced various sorts of shading, using squiggles, hatching and cross hatching. (Forgive me if terms are not right...for I'm a musician by profession.)

1) First we practiced shading just four tones using 3 different strokes. Then we used squiggles to shade the iris of the eye.

Jo and Nel's work
a sample I drew while demonstrating to my girls

2)  Also following a lesson plan from page mentioned above, we reviewed how drawings are developed out of lines and curves. If you view the lesson plan, you'll note how the drawing of the alligator begins with just a simple oval shape and 2 circles. A step by step guide is given on the page.

 With this, we also tried drawing cartoons of other animals, just using basic shapes, and then adding details and erasing unnecessary lines. This class inspired girls to come up with their own cartoon illustration of animals. Will post pics next week perhaps.

The Children's alligator, based on instructions given on drawspace.com

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


11 Jul 2012

Kids baking potatoes, as a baby tailorbird chirps in our garden

 My children have been begging to cook again, but with daily rushing, we never get around to it. Today we did. They flipped through a few recipe books and it was decided that today Nel would get the chance to choose the dish. Since she just totally loves potatoes and cheese, of course, she picked a cheesy potato recipe.

I left them in the kitchen, and Nel and Jo worked on it. I just ate. Result of their attempt, pretty delicious. :)  :)

To summarize the recipe,
1)  basically first, whip together a can of chicken soup, mushroom soup, a cup of sour cream (we used yoghurt), green onions (sliced), half cup of milk, some pepper. Then add boiled potatoes (or hashbrowns). 
2) Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and Mozarella cheese. Bake. Simple right?

Baked creamy and cheesy potatoes ready.

On learning, a few weeks ago we trekked and bird watched in Frasers and the kids decided they'd like to learn more about birds. Jo wrote a bird story after that. While reading up on birds one day, we heard a commotion outside in our garden. We saw a pair of tailor birds, one with a worm in its mouth, chirping non stop. We searched for a nest and discovered it in our garden! HOw exciting indeed!

A few days later, we noticed the nest quiet and spotted the baby bird on the wall. It was wonderful as we got to see it take its first few flights. Sometimes it'd drop to the ground. But eventually it began to fly short spurts from branch to branch, and then across the road. :)

Also found a fantastic book about birds at the library.

  For this week, we're learning and doing experiments with eggs. For instance, do you know how an egg is formed? We also looked at the contents of an egg, and it's nutritional content. The book  contains interesting experiments and projects in it. Will be continuing on this. :)

Finally before I end this post, a watercolour to depict Hunger, and how help can come from the most unlikely source. Bird wasn't done in detail. I got tired. But this picture has been in my mind for a while now. Hoping to do a better one when I'm more relaxed.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


3 Jul 2012

Change Concert-5th and 6th July 8pm.

Last Year, StART Society held a superb concert, filled with excitement. More than 100 children from various orphanages and shelter homes around the Klang Valley, who come weekly to StART Society
for fine arts classes were given the opportunity to perform with famous artists like Liang and Jacklyn Victor.

This year, the concert is themed "Change." The children have been practicing very hard, and we're expecting another 2 days of awesome concert.
Briefly about StART Society:  (Taken from their WebPage)
StART Society is an "Arts academy that reaches out to underprivileged children
by helping them discover and nurture their hidden talents in fine arts and performing arts.
Through the healing and liberating power of the arts.
 StART provides underprivileged and at-risk children a safe format
to express and articulate emotions,
and for them to learn and grow into confident, responsible Malaysians.

StART is a charity organization dedicated
to providing the less fortunate children with opportunity
 to develop their artistic skills. StART is founded on the conviction
 that arts provide children with the capacity to express, 
find and stretch themselves and in so doing, build a better world for themselves.

 Well...if you'd like to be a part of Change in the lives of these children of shelter homes, do get a ticket and come to the concert, 5th and 6th July 8pm at PJ Civics Center. See for yourself the good work StART has done. All proceeds will help in the continuation of free music/drama/art/dance/speech lessons for these underprivileged children. This year's concert will feature  Asha Gill & Liang, Genervie Kam, Arthur Kam, Reshmonu, Vince Chong, Shawn Lee, & Emily Lim.
See you there.

For more info on the concert, visit

Choir practicing hard.
Art Piece by a StART Student. Exhibition of art work will  be held in the lobby before the concert.
 Please help us spread the word by clicking on Change Concert link HERE and invite your friends. Be an Agent of Change! :)

Finally our hosts for the concert:
@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012


2 Jul 2012

Dead Pets

I think I've mentioned before that as a child, I used to rescue strays, stray dogs and cats. I recall crawling through a half flooded monsoon once to rescue a litter of pups only to be chased by its aggresive mum. I recall bringing back a sack of 12 kittens which made my mother very mad. :)
I recall helping a stray mother cat give birth under my bed!

Then one day, my dad decided I deserved a personal pet, and we adopted a beautiful Papillon, which I named Lassie. Lassie was my best friend, closer than any human friend. Like me, she was an introvert. She was very protective, faithful, staying close to me and noone else. Whenever we went on vacation, whoever baby sat her would complain that Lassie would not eat or drink at all.

So I decided that she was to go with me on every vacation, and I would smuggle her into hotels in my backpack. But one sad day, in my college days, as I was about to go out to catch the 6am bus to school, I heard her whizzing. I sat with her, patted her gently, my heart heavy. I whispered to her "Lassie, I'll be home. Please be strong, I promise I'll be back early and get you to the vet."

When I came back, she was gone from this earth forever. Till today, I can recall the great sorrow I felt. I looked at her for the last time, stroked her, and cut off bits of her hair. Then I locked myself in the room and cried for hours, refusing to watch as my mother buried her in the garden. I snipped off locks of my hair and put it in a mini jar with Lassie's fur. For weeks I was angry at anyone who told me the words "I'm sorry for your lost." I always kept silent, but in my mind I would cry out "How can you say that when you don't even mean it, when you don't even know how it feels."

I determined then, that I would NEVER ever have another pet, for the pain of loss was too unbearable.

But they say, time heals, and it's true. It doesn't take away the fact that I miss Lassie, but it allowed space in my heart to adopt another dog when I was pregnant with Nel. Pronto was an amazing lil doggie. He was a mix between a Pomeranian and something else. People who saw him always told me "Your dog is fascinating, he has the expression of a human, as if he understood everything around him." They were right. Pronto was mischievous yet incredibly smart. He was my baby  monitor.

When Nel was born, he would lie around the outside of her room. Whenever she cried, Pronto would scratch the door gently to open it, then run to me with a gentle bark, head pointing towards the baby's room. But..(I hate buts), one day, we decided to leave Pronto in the garden for a run. He got stolen. A neighbor saw a man come by and took him away. We searched the whole town for days, shouting his name, but he was never found again. :(

Cats.....ahh....I had a very favourite pet cat too, named Dog. He was the bane in Lassie's life. This cat would wait on tables, outside doors just to pounce on the dog once. I imagine it grinning to every success. This cat of mine with the squirrel tail, dark brown body with a white belly and white cheeks would steal food, and I could always tell what it's stolen by the colour on its cheeks. Well...when I went abroad to study for a few years, apparently the fella refused to come home anymore and became a gangster out on the streets picking fights here and there. I never saw him again after I came back, but saw glimpses of him in kittens that resembled him.

Back from abroad, with no pets left at home,  one day I woke up to incessant mewing outside my window. I went out to find a very thin kitten mewing her heart out. I talked to it, and coaxed it till it trusted me. I brought milk and food for it, but it refused everything, except to sit contentedly in my lap. So I drove it to the vet, and I named my new kitten "Whisk." Whisk had the sweetest face and voice. I told the vet, please do whatever you can, it won't eat. Two days later, the vet called and said "Martha, Whisk has tangled intestines, it's best to put it down." The pain of losing Lassie came rushing back. I told the vet "put it down if you must...and please bury it." I cried all the way, driving home from work.

Just last week...without my knowledge, my children adopted an adult rabbit. I wasn't prepared for it, as we'd adopted a poodle 3 years back, and have decided that this would be the only pet I'll keep. I only adopted Camel because, I wanted my children to experience the wonderful gift of friendship a dog can bring.

Well...things were such that I didn't really have a choice, and the rabbit was dropped off at my house. The next day I noticed that it had watery stools which was unusual for a rabbit. I also noticed that it hardly ate, and wouldn't move. It was a very depressed rabbit. I guess, it really missed its owner who didn't want it anymore.

I brought it to the vet first free morning I had. The vet weighed it, tested its stools and told me it had bacteria in its gut. So we gave it medication and monitored it everyday. The runny stools stopped, but it still refused to eat. I read up like mad about rabbits and GI stasis.

I held it in my hands, rubbed it's tummy to ease the pain and wind. We pounded food to pulp and force fed it. I held it in my hands for hours.......just speaking to it.

and this morning when I woke...it was gone. Again...gone....and my heart aches. I have no conclusion to this post, except rest in peace rabbit.

Maybe just one note. If you cannot care for a pet long term, DON'T EVEN buy one. DON'T buy just because it's cute, and then give it away, just because it's become inconvenient to you. If you take a living being in, then care for it till it's last, or your last breath. Animals and humans hurt when they're moved around and given from place to place. It's heart breaking!

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2012

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