28 Feb 2013

Hari Kraf Kebangsaan

Sometimes we do things on impulse. Jo for instance woke up and just craved for roti canai today. And since I was feeling just so tired (though just morning), I agreed. After a nice breakfast, we got into the car, and  I decided, heck, let's not do school today.  I saw an advert for Hari Kraf Kebangsaan (Handicraft Exhibition) just yesterday on FB, so on impulse, we went.

We're just so glad we went. It's a huge exhibition, and we spent close to 4 hours there (including lunch which consisted of delicious Malaysian delicacies. )

Just very briefly, there were the artists galleries. We really enjoyed some of the art pieces, particularly the ones by Ajis Mohamad. We just watched him painting, and he told us how images of the turtles were embedded in his mind coz he knew the structure of these gentle creatures so well.

We then went on to watch artists that crafted beautiful art out of wood. The picture of the left below is a miniature kampung house. The artist told us it take takes him between 3 to 5 days to carve a house. Sometimes he places light bulbs inside to illuminate the house. Very pretty work. The owl on the right was done by a different artist who crafted larger sculptures.

We went on to the Batik section and oohed and aahhhhed at how beautiful some of the art work was, and too bad, I just didn't bring enough cash, or my kids and I would've walked away with some really awesome batik dresses.

Near the batik area, we found a workshop area where you could try your hand at weaving rattan baskets. This workshop will only go on till the 5th of March. So if you're keen on this, you'd better hurry.
Making the base of the basket

The lady who taught us was just extremely patient and kind. She just talked to us about the whole process of weaving, patiently taught my children and I. We really enjoyed the session with her. In the end, both Nel and Jo made baskets while I made the coaster.

Other stuff we came across was the  man below using metal to create pieces of art, some including religious writings in Arabic. We admired his patience!

Also the art of making Wayang Kulit. The puppets are made out of goat/cow skin.The artists designs his puppets, places it on the hide, and hammers away the skin bit by bit till a puppet is formed. So much work goes into it! Then he paints it using artline ink.The beautiful shadow puppets he made were going for between RM35-100, depending on size.

Other stuff at the exhibition include making rings, paper craft, food making etc. Just incredible indeed, definitely worth going!.

One comment my children made after the fair was "Mum, the people here are all so kind and friendly." Truly they were. The ones we talked to were people from places such as Kedah, Pahang, Kelantan, Seremban, all non city folks. Perhaps that's the difference eh?

p.s If going, best place to park is in the large parking lot beside Prince Court MEdical Centre. Just walk across the bridge to get to the exhibition. Remember to get your parking ticket stamped at any booth that has exhibition brochures for free parking. (Otherwise it is RM8).

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


24 Feb 2013

Making Tangyuan -

Today, for the first time as a family, we made Tangyuan (glutinous rice ball in sweet soup) together. Tangyuan is usually eaten during the Winter Solstice and the 15th day of Chinese New Year. Apparently it is supposed to represent family closeness

When I mentioned that to my mother, she said that was particularly true in her younger days. In her childhood days, making Tangyuan was a village affair. Everyone would wake up as early as 4am, and come together to pound rice into rice flour. Then they would make Tangyuan together and feast together. Nowadays, flour can just be purchased at the grocery shop and Tangyuan made in a really short time.

As my children and I made these (with lots of fun), I wondered how it all started and found the answer on Wikipedia (where else.) What a touching story about the longing of a maiden to meet with her parents.

According to a legend, [2] in the Han Dynasty, there was a maid of honor who was called Yuanxiao. She missed her parents a lot but she could not leave the palace, therefore, she wept all the time and even wanted to turn to suicide. A minister knew her story and promised to help her. What Yuanxiao needed to do was to make lots of Tangyuans, which was the best cuisine she could make, in order to worship the god on 15th day of the first month in the Chinese calendar. Finally, Yuanxiao did a great job and the emperor was so contented; therefore, Yuanxiao was permitted to meet her parents, Tangyuan was named as Yuanxiao and the 15th day of the first month in the Chinese calendar was considered to be Yuanxiao Festival. (Wikipedia)

Well here's our version of Tangyuan. We decided to use natural colours. Thus we made ours out of glutinous rice flour mixed with yellow sweet potatoes, orange sweet potatoes and red dragon fruit.

We made the soup by putting gula melaka into boiling water with pandan leaves and slices of ginger.

Then we had family members over and had Tangyuan together, first time ever at our place. Perhaps this might be a good tradition to keep.

Happy Cap Goh Mei everyone,
 may God bless you and your family 
and give you family closeness throughout the year 
and in the years to come.

 @poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


13 Feb 2013

In search of a Sand Dollar, Identifying Seashells (Learning.)

Two years ago, while picking shells by the peaceful beach of Sematan, I found a beautiful Sand Dollar. I held it gently in my palm, charmed by its delicate beauty. Then while picking another shell up, a strong wave came and swept the contents of my hands away, including the beautiful sand dollar. I tried to search in vain, but it was nowhere to be found.  I scoured the beach for another but found none.

Two years passed, and Jo, while reading a book of mermaids, told me that in the mermaid realm,  sand dollars were precious for they provided magical wishes. (Of course, she knows this is fantasy. ) So this year to Kuching, we made a visit to Sematan again. Our goal was to look for a Sand Dollar. The girls prayed we'd find some, and that the clouds that threatened to rain would hold back.
 My precious family, helping me look for Sand Dollars, which incidentally, the Chinese call "Lui" meaning money too.

My dear husband, helping me look for shells. :)

Both their prayers came through. At first we only found broken Sand Dollars. We continued our search, and after picking an assortment of shells, we finally found one, small, but totally complete and beautiful. :)

Coming home, we researched on Sand Dollars and found this lovely website with information.  Lo and behold, it has finally dawned on me, that the Sand Dollar is actually a living thing, from  the starfish family! :)  What we found were the skeletons. Below is a video (found online) of a Sand Dollar moving. (Time lapse.) (Do read link above to find out more if you're interested. Both my girls and I found the information fascinating.)


We learnt that it takes patience to find something you really want. As we spent  time, walking slowly across the beach looking for Sand Dollars, we came across so many beautiful and unique shells. We read that shells are living things and will grow in size. So we made sure

-not to step on baby shells,
-and to collect only shells that had been washed ashore by the waves, which were sun dried and uninhabited.

Upon coming home, we looked through this book we got at the library, Tropical Seashells of Malaysia, and through the web to identify the shells we found. Both Nel and Jo helped sort the shells and we found some of the names. Not all were found in the book, and we'll have to look online.

Below are some of the shells we've labeled so far,

We really enjoyed the process of separating the shells by shapes and colours and searching for names.

Some shells we've not identified yet.


We also read the bookJunonia by Kevin Henkes, a book about the feelings and thoughts of a 10 year old girl, and her determination in finding that perfect Junonia Shell.

We've just found shells fascinating, and we've learned how important it is to thread carefully so as not to destroy live shells. But mostly we've discovered how unique and beautiful are God's creations. :)

UPDATE: We've learnt from a trip to Merambong  that it's not good to pick seashells. Seashells should be left so they can release calcium carbonate back into the ocean for other shells.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


3 Feb 2013

When I am sad, I pray.

A few good friends enjoying time together at a mangrove in Johor some months back. After a time of playing they turned to writing on the sand. Words like "God is Love," "I love You", "Friends Forever."

A little space away, Jo was writing something. I wondered what she had written..

She stepped away, and I saw these words, "When I am Sad,  I Pray."

How lovely those words. It is a reminder to me, that when times get tough, when things are down, I can  turn to GOD and pray, then allow God to lift me up and carry  me on.

On our way out of the mangrove, we found this lovely seed, in the shape of a heart. Beautiful isn't it. How beautiful are God's creations. :)
  Remember to love your family, 
hug your children,
 tell your spouse you love him/her,
hug your parents.
 Switch off the computer and TV and spend quality time with people who mean the most. :)

Happy Chinese New Year to all who are celebrating.  :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


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