Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wendy's Bistro

I read good reviews about Wendy's Bistro recently in some blogs and in a local daily and decided to check it out at dinner. It was touted to be a good non-kosher place for pork lovers. But the experience has reminded me that food reviews are usually subjective and tend to be more complimenting than critical, especially when it's not done incognito by the media, here in Malaysia at least.

The recommended dishes by the blogs and in the menu were the portabello mushrooms with cheese and bacon (appetizer), the grilled pork belly and ribs and chorizo sausages. The four of us adults concluded that while the serving was sizeably worth the price, the taste of their 'must eat' recommendations fell short of our expectations.

Between us four adults and one child (one baby stuck to his bread and applesauce), we ordered the portabello mushroom and bruschetta with cheese/tomato for appetizer/starter. Main dishes comprised grilled pork belly, grilled ribs, mixed grill of belly and ribs, and pork chop. The child had the pork bolognaise angelhair from the kid's menu which had three choices -- the angelhair, fish fingers and sausages, and mushroom soup.

Our review (as usual, the pictures are not too great due to my laziness in not bringing a proper camera and using my cameraphone, anyway they're just to give you an idea of how they look):


Angelhair pasta - the gravy didn't taste 'bolognaise' enough with a light brown colouring instead of the usual orangey-red. Caitlin who is a pasta lover gave it a 'zero' thumbs up. (She has lately come up with her own idea of rating new food/restaurants with zero, one or two thumbs up).

Mushroom soup - lacking the rich mushroomy flavour and thick, creamy texture.

Portabello mushroom - the cheese and bacon stuffing was too runny. The salad accompaniment was too wet.

Bruschetta - passable as it was a simple cheese and chopped tomato topping.

Pork chop - too dry. We felt that it was because the pork was sliced too thinly (1/2 cm thickness only) and had lost its juices during the grilling. Slathering it with the thick sauce that came with it did not help much.

Grilled pork belly - meat was tender as it was the part of the pig that had strips of fat that helped retained the meat's juices better. The marinade was well balanced although it was a bit on the sweet side.

Grilled ribs - Three chunky ribs and good-sized serving to fill a typical guy's belly to the brim with just the regular platter (they have a large one too which has an extra piece). While not too succulent, they were quite tender and well marinated. For those who like black pepper, this dish provides evidence of this spice.

All the main dishes came with coleslaw and a choice of either mash or fries.

The bottled Australian Mountain Fresh natural juice of apple and peach was good. This place also serves quite the usual beverages like iced lemon tea, tea and coffee and Esprit sparkling fruit drinks.

As for dessert, we did not have the tummy space to try but we noticed that they served some cakes and Movenpick ice cream.

The bill came up to RM164 for all that we had. Pricing wise, I would say Wendy's is comparable to the likes of Euro Deli (but the latter has better tasting food in my opinion) and other mid-range western food joints.

Space wise, it is small within one typical shoplot with the front half outdoors for smokers and an air-conditioned section inside. Their kitchen is open, partitioned by glass. Overall decor is simple, clean cut with black, red, and white.

They serve good value set lunches on weekdays. Upon leaving, I noticed a big banner above its signage outside informing the public that soon, it will be renamed "Bellygood" - "the name is changing, but not the taste of its food" or something to that effect.... I wonder why the name change and hope it's for the better, business- and especially taste-wise.

Steamed buns with red bean paste filling

Today, Caitlin and I made red bean 'pau'. I had some frozen cooked red beans leftover from red bean soup I made some time back. It was a waste to throw away what we couldn't finish so I thought I'd freeze them until I got some 'pau' flour. I had seen a pau recipe online some time back and thought it was something simple I could make.



Caitlin learnt how to use measuring spoons to measure the ingredients, scooped the ingredients and poured them into the mixing bowl. Then came the fun part of kneading the dough.



Knead, knead, knead and some time passed without her asking for the TV or bugging daddy while he did some vacuuming. Then, she set the timer to let the dough rise.

When the timer rang, she went to check on the dough and was excited to see how it had risen. She helped divide the dough into balls before I continued the rest of the job of filling the dough with the red bean paste and placing the 'pau' into the steamer.



We had them for tea.



Here's the recipe I used which I found in this blog. I managed to make 10 medium-sized buns with it.

500 gm flour (super white flour or Pau flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp (6g) instant dry yeast
2 tbsp shorterning or vegetable oil
250 ml (a glass) luke warm water

Method :

- mix all the dry ingredients together (flour,baking powder,salt,sugar,yeast and shortening) in a bowl and then add in the water and mix well until it forms a dough.

- keep kneading the dough until it doesn't stick to your hands.

- divide the dough into two and knead again until the dough texture is smooth.

- leave the dough to rise double the size, covered with a wet cloth. (around 30 mins to 1 hour)

- when the dough has risen, punch the dough to let the air out. Knead the dough into small balls (half size of a baseball) and fill with your choice of fillings (e.g. red bean paste, beef or chicken curry, tuna).

- place a small piece of paper as an underlayer for each bun. (This is to prevent the buns from sticking to the steaming pot)

- leave all the buns to rise again for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile you can prepare the steaming pot.

- Steam the buns for about 10 minutes.


Red Bean paste filling

Ingredients :

250g red beans (soaked overnight)
1 cup of sugar
a pinch of salt
Water (the more the better)
2 tbsp butter

Method :

- put all the ingredients in a pot(except butter). Boil the beans till tender.

- blend the cooked beans in a blender or a food processer to form a red bean paste.

- put the paste back into the pot and cook over low heat with the butter. Stir the paste until it's creamy and thick.

- leave the filling to cool before using it. This red bean filling can be refrigerated for up to a month in a covered container.

note : steamed buns can be stored in a freezer and resteamed whenever needed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New curriculum to make learning fun and rewarding

This is an excerpt from today's news. Another attempt at righting the education system here. In theory, it sounds good. I shan't say more.

Providing an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience for pupils -- that’s the aim of the new curriculum in primary schools to be introduced in 2010....

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said on Thursday that a new curriculum would make learning more holistic and less examination-oriented.

Malaysian Examinations Syn- dicate (MES) director Dr Salbiah Ismail said the aim of having school-based assessment was to focus on the development of the individual as a whole.

“We want to be able to tell parents about their children’s achievements instead of the current emphasis on scoring As in centralised examinations,” she said.

She said pupils would be assessed using several approaches, including psychometric tests as well as achievement in extra-curricular activities and sports.


The full article can be found here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Steamed tofu with minced pork



Ingredients

1 tube white tofu
4-5 tablespoons minced pork
2 teaspoons corn flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Green peas, carrots or wolfberries for garnishing

Method

1.Cut the tofu into medallions about 1.5 cm thick.
2.Mix corn flour, salt, pepper, sesame oil and a little water with minced pork
3.Arrange tofu on a plate, put 1 heaped teaspoon of minced pork on top of each medallion, gently press down and shape them.
4.Decorate with green peas, chopped or julienned carrots or wolfberries.
5.Mix chicken stock powder with one tablespoon water and dribble along the sides of tofu, not on the pork (don't worry about it being too concentrated as the steam that evaporates during steaming will dilute it to become a light 'gravy' to flavour the bland tofu).
6. Steam for 10-15 minutes.
7.Serve hot with rice.

Appalling revelation

I just read this.

BEIJING - While China grapples with its latest tainted food crisis, the political elite are served the choicest, safest delicacies. They get hormone-free beef from the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, organic tea from the foothills of Tibet and rice watered by melted mountain snow.

Read the entire Associated Press article here.

Petrol price reduced

Effective today, petrol price in Malaysia is reduced by 10 sen to RM2.45. Global oil prices have dropped but the financial crisis, especially in the US, is not helping. In August petrol price was reduced to RM2.55 from RM2.70. RM2.70 was the price which caused an uproar as it was a 40% increase from the old price.

While this price drop helps a little, the global financial situation is worrying. Big names like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG are hogging the limelight for the wrong reasons. The billions involved in bailouts is heating up the US Presidential campaign. The local setups of AIG and AIA have sent letters to policyholders assuring them of their stability within the local context but I think they serve little to allay fears.

Meanwhile in the Malaysian backyard, the political dramas continue. While opposition state assmblyman Teresa Kok and the senior journalist have been released, blogger RPK is now sentenced to two years in the infamous Kamunting Prison under the Internal Security Act, which has been much debated for years and a contributing reason for the recent resignation of the Law Minister who faced a brick wall in pushing for law and judicial reforms. Anwar also continues to be in the news with continued 'he said, she said' regarding the forming of a new government and his alleged sodomy trial.

China despite its stellar performance in the recent Beijing Olympics has captured global attention now with its tainted milk scandal. China officials who kept the problem under wraps since December last year has caused the death of four babies and stricken 53,000 others - staggering figures....

Last week, a pretty and smart 16-year-old girl was found murdered and burnt after being kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded and received ransom money after they killed her.

So in the light of all these bad news, the 10 sen reduction in petrol price is not much to shout about.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Internet downtime

The Internet broadband service I use has been cranky since last week. Sometimes I can connect, sometimes I can't, sometimes it's really slow, worse than dial-up. That's why I havent been blogging these two days.

I called their customer service about five times yesterday and as expected, customer service means answering my call, getting my name and account number (which I have memorised by now) and telling me they are still looking into it and will call me when it's solved. No, they didn't call me when it's solved. I decided to switch on my computer an hour ago to check and yes, it's solved for now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday tea break at The Gardens

(The pictures are a bit fuzzy because I took them with my limited-functions camera phone.)


Don't ask why my almost-6-year-old still needs a stroller


Caitlin loves everything pink, including donuts


The pink moustache says it all


Donuts from Big Apple Donuts & Coffee


Dried scallops porridge with 'you tiao' (crullers) from I Love Yoo!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Work hard, play hard

We have a sticker reward system to provide incentive for Caitlin to do stuff that we find challenging in getting her to accomplish, like practising her music, feeding her goldfish, eating without reading or playing at the table. Like for most kids, these 'chores' are boring stuff and hard work.

This evening, she told Eugene in the private of the bathroom after spending some time reading and daydreaming on the 'throne' that "mummy does not know one thing (sounds serious, eh?), she does not know how to take turns to relax."

I happened to step in to check on her and asked what they were chatting about. Puzzled about what she meant by 'take turns to relax', I asked her and here's the explanation.

We must take turns to relax. On the first day, mummy relaxes. The next day, it's my turn, then the next day, daddy's turn. We each get a sticker when we relax. Then when we have a dog, mummy relaxes first, then the dog (talk about animal rights!), then me and then daddy.

Sounds like relaxing is not a reward by itself for chores done but a 'chore' that will be rewarded....

The Pretty Moon

According to Caitlin, this is a story her teacher told. Here's how she retold it.

"Once upon a time, the moon was very tall and she wore a long black dress. Every night, she would shine near the river and used the reflection to put on her makeup. Then she would shine high up and looked very beautiful. One day, the moon took a walk in the forest and her long dress got caught among the branches and thorns. It became torn everywhere and when she shone, all the animals said she looked ugly.

So the moon saw some grass and used it to cover her long black dress. She shone again and the animals said she still looked ugly. Then the moon found some flowers and plucked them and stuck them to her dress. All the animals said she looked pretty. But a gust of wind came and blew all the flower petals away. The moon's dress looked tattered again.

The animals then decided to help the moon become pretty again. The moon was very tall so the animals had to use a ladder to reach up to her. The stars also came down to help. They painted on her dress and when they finished, the dress was very beautiful. It 'fit' (matched) the sky. It had shiny stars all over and all the animals said the moon looked very pretty.

That's the end of the story about the 'vain pot' moon."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Procrastination

I think procrastinators are people who cannot delay gratification. They must do or have what they like first, before they get on to doing or getting what they should. Whether it is a sensible move or not to procrastinate, they are not bothered by it and prefer to deal with the consequences when it happens. As some Chinese saying goes, these people will only "dig the hole when they need to sh*t".

Well Anna, some people are like that, so instead of getting frustrated, count to 10 and smile. Variety is the spice of life. The world will be a boring place if everyone is anal like me.

Poetry


Poetseers provides you a daily dose of poetry via subscription to their Poem of the Day. This is for Sept 16:

Eternity

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

William Blake

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I've heard recently

No prizes for guessing who said all these:

"Why do you keep making me like a maid? I'm tired of tidying up."
"Can I adopt that dog now, pleease?"
"Can I go to kung fu class?"
"I want a dalmation."
"When I grow up, I want to be a diva."
"I want a German Shepherd."
"I don't want A (best friend in class) to be my friend anymore. She always wants her way. I don't want to go to school forever and ever."
"I want a husky."
"Can you tell me the story of how you and daddy met, fell in love, got married and have a kid like me?"
"I want a long-haired dachsund."
"Marriage is forever..."
"I want an English cocker spaniel."
"I want you to look after me."
"I want an English cocker spaniel and a long-haired dachsund."
"When I grow up, I want a pink racing car."
"I want a rabbit and hamsters."
"Can I watch tv, one laaast time, please?"
"When I grow up, I want to be an ASPCA officer to rescue all the animals."
"I don't like bull terriers, they're so ugly and disgusting."

Snow Buddies


This is a new movie by Disney released in February this year. Great fun for the family, especially those who love dogs and enjoy dog movies (like Caitlin and I). You get extremely cute, adorable (and talking of course, it's a kid's movie after all) golden retriever pups and one husky teaching you about friendship, teamwork, loyalty and good sportsmanship.

Caitlin watches it at least twice a day since getting it on Saturday and as usual, has memorised the lines from some of her favourite parts.

I must admit I've yet to get tired of watching it. Those pups are oh so, so very cute I wish I could have at least one!

Nonstick Cookware Chemicals Found in Human Breast Milk

While there are contamination risks in formula milk powder as reported recently, breast milk is also not spared:

(NaturalNews) Toxic chemicals used in nonstick coatings and stain-resistant fabrics were found in the breast milk of every woman tested in a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Researchers tested the milk from 45 different nursing mothers for two different varieties of perflourinated compounds (PFCs): perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8. PFOA is used in nonstick coatings such as Teflon, while PFOS is an ingredient in stain-resistant fabric.

PFCs were found in the milk of every woman tested, at an average concentration of 131 billionths of a gram of PFOS and 44 billionths of a gram of PFOA per liter.

The researchers said that this concentration would expose infants to PFC levels below the maximum set by the British Food Standards Agency Committee, but noted that infants may also be exposed to PFCs from other sources.

"Breast milk should be considered as an additional source of PFCs when determining a child's [total] exposure," researcher Kathleen Arcaro said.

She urged parents to keep in mind that breastfeeding still provides important nutritional and immune system benefits to infants.

The researchers also found that concentrations of PFCs in the milk of women who were nursing for the first time actually increased during the first six months of nursing.

"This may be related to increased food intake to meet the energy demands of nursing, and changes in food consumption patterns," said Arcaro. "In a Canadian study, diet was shown to contribute 61 percent of a person's total daily [PFC] intake."

PFCs are persistent organic pollutants that resist environmental breakdown and instead accumulate in the bodies of living beings, including humans. Research has linked them to cancers, birth and developmental defects and disruptions of the hormonal system. They have been found in the blood of most adults tested around the world. Prior studies have also found that unborn children may absorb PFCs through their mother's blood.

The United States has not set any regulations for exposure to PFCs.

Sources for this story include: wvgazette.com.

The Case for Music Education

For the past 10 days, I've been procrastinating research and writing for my fortnightly contribution to a local publication. I've been intending to write about why music education is good for children. Now I'm attempting to pin my butt on my chair and start writing. I've been too distracted with other stuff for too many days. I found two videos.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Babies in danger

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China said on Saturday that it believed 432 babies across the country had been made ill by contaminated milk powder which caused them to develop kidney stones.... baby formula had been contaminated with melamine, a toxin linked to the deaths and illness of thousands of pets in the United States last year.

Authorities believe suppliers of milk to Sanlu may have diluted the milk with water and then added melamine, a substance used in plastics, fertilisers and cleaning products, to make the milk's protein levels appear higher than they were.

For full report, see here.

This is a major public relations disaster for the milk manufacturer and another black mark on China's food safety (or rather food scare) record. The manufacturer is partly owned by Fonterra, New Zealand's dairy company which also makes the Fernleaf brand of milk powder if I'm not mistaken. However, I doubt that Fonterra is directly at fault since the milk is manufactured locally in China by the Sanlu Group.

But what's more worrying is the affected babies' health condition. Breast milk is best (but mother's must eat healthily too!).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

RPK, Teresa Kok and journalist detained under ISA

Prominent alternative political news blogger and editor of Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamaruddin or RPK is once again detained, under ISA. Opposition leader Teresa Kok from DAP (opposition political party) and the Sin Chew Daily journalist who reported on Bukit Bendera Ahmad Ismail's racial remark (that Chinese are 'squatters' in Malaysia) have also been detained under ISA yesterday.

The political dramas have yet to cease since the March 8 general elections.... All I want to say is that Malaysians are not happy folk right now where this is concerned. All bloggers are being watched for what they post in their blogs, especially when it comes to political news and comments.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Upside down house

I just came across this piece of news from Associated Press featured by Yahoo!News and thought it's interesting enough to share it. It's a real house built upside down with everything inside upside down too. It's to give people an alternative view of everyday life.

AP Photo/Frank Hormann

Click here to view a short slideshow of the house.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sorry state of English language in Malaysia

Click on the pic for larger view to read

A good friend drew my attention to this advertorial published by Tun Hussein Onn University, Malaysia on August 23 in the New Straits Times, in conjunction with its convocation (or commencement in American terms). An honorary degree award was conferred on a female royalty of Perak (a state in Malaysia) and this advertorial describing her background is written in extremely bad English. Deplorable is the word. On top of the bad, bad, bad English, the person, who is female is referred to as 'son', 'his'. And in the last two paras, it switched to 'her'...

This is one instance where I feel embarrassed, not to mention what is going on in the political scene right now.

The School of Hard Knocks

Caitlin's class went on a field trip to Royal Selangor yesterday. She had a fun time with her classmates and teachers. They toured the Visitor Centre and learned how pewter ware is made and the highlight was the School of Hard Knocks where they got hands-on experience in moulding their own pewter bowl.

She came home happy with a paperbag containing her certificate, pewter bowl nicely wrapped in a box and the School's apron. She showed me her masterpiece and shared the instructions on how to make the bowl. She said among all the field trips (National Zoo, petting zoo, vegetable farm, post office, etc) she's been on, this has been the best.

This is what she used the bowl for before going to bed as Eugene was not home from work yet.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reach for the light

This is the theme song from Balto. Inspirational....sung by Steve Winwood.



Deep in the night
The winds blow cold
And in a heartbeat
The fear takes hold

Deep in the storm
There's a place that's soft and still
Where the road waits to be taken
If you only will

The voices inside you
Can lead your soul astray
Believe in what you dream
Don't turn away
Don't you turn away

Reach for the light
You might touch the sky
Stand on the mountaintop
And see yourself flying
Reach for the light
To capture a star
Come out of the darkness
And find out who you are

Somewhere in time
The truth shines through
And the spirit knows
What it has to do

Somewhere in you
There's a power with no name
It can rise to meet the moment
And burn like a flame

And you can be stronger
Than anything you know
Hold on to what you see
Don't let it go
Don't you let it go

Now, there's no turning back
When your destiny is calling
Listen to the thunder roll
And let your heart break free

Reach for the light

Balto

Caitlin is watching a cartoon titled Balto right now. This is the fourth time she is watching it in the past 24 hours since we got her the movie last night. She can't stop thinking and talking about it all day today. She watched it at breakfast, at lunch after school, this evening after returning from her drum lesson and right now after dinner, from beginning to end, and repeating selected segments that she enjoys.

She simply loves dogs and anything and everything dog-related. She has memorised some scenes and dialogue from the show by now...

The cartoon is based on a true story.

Balto at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, photo by Luke Scarano in Wikipedia

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lantern party at school

Last night, Caitlin's school held a lantern party in conjunction with the coming Mooncake Festival. This festival is also known as the Mid-autumn festival and falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. People normally celebrate it with mooncakes and lanterns.

There are many versions to the origin and legend behind this Chinese festival. One that is widely known is the story of Houyi, a powerful archer whose beautiful wife was banished to the moon. It was said that long ago, there were 10 suns which took turns to shine but one day, all 10 suns appeared simultaneously and scorched the earth. Houyi saved the earth by shooting down nine suns and became King. He turned into a tyrant and stole an elixir of life from a goddess but his wife, Chang-e discovered it. She drank the elixir and floated up to the moon. Houyi was saddened and because of his love for his wife, he did not shoot the moon down.

It drizzled last night so all the kids were disappointed they could not parade their lanterns around the neighbourhood where the school is located.

Rained in

We stayed indoors and participated in a story-telling session, family telematch (our team won!) and DIY mooncake. Caitlin made a little 'snowskin' pink mooncake with help from a teacher.

Caitlin's mooncake

'People' people, or not

Sometimes I get the feeling that there are people who are avoiding me for some reason unknown to me. Maybe I'm too self-conscious, sensitive or taking this personally but I think with globalisation, the digital age, technology, whatever you call it, people are generally a colder lot these days.

Long ago, meeting neighbours and having a chat over the fence was something common. These days, whether you live on a landed property or condominium, everyone just enters their house and shuts the door, do their own thing in the name of minding their own business. They don't know who their next-door neighbours are. Impromptu visits to friends' homes are no-nos, must make appointment first.

When I was young(er), our family weekends included visiting friends and family to catch up. No appointment was required. We'd just turn up in front of their doorsteps and get welcomed in, spend an hour or so talking about this and that and leave happy. If they happened to be out, it wasn't an issue. We'd just drive off and go do something else.

Now things are so different even with relatives and close friends. When we happen to bump into each other at a restaurant or mall, we'd chat briefly, say goodbye with lip-service "we should catch up one day, some day". Or when we're online, we'd rather not chat with others whom we see are online too. It's easier to just indicate "busy", go "invisible" or sign out when we see others coming online (of course, there are those who are genuinely busy). I've been guilty of these so maybe my guilt manifests in return and makes me feel like people are avoiding me! Ah....self-analysis is confusing.

Anyway, I just think people are becoming less 'people' people and more 'self' (or selfish?) people these days in general, resulting in a less caring, apathetic society. Maybe I'm wrong...or could I be right?

House Season 4

I just finished watching the final episode of House Season 4 a few minutes ago. This season, the ending is not a cliffhanger. It's rather sad in fact.... If you want to know, you can get spoilers through the Net.

I just checked the Net and it appears they're already filming Season 5. This time around, they've started filming immediately instead of the customary break in between seasons.

Although season 4 ends without a cliffhanger, I still can't wait for season 5 to begin airing....But before that, I've got to catch up on Prison Break which was also affected by the writers' strike and has now resumed!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) homework

I just ended a frustratingly hilarious (sounds contradictory right?) Bahasa Melayu (BM) homework session with Caitlin. Of course my daughter's BM sucks since we are an almost-100%-English-speaking family. Our fault for not making the effort to teach her other languages...

She is pretty advanced in speaking and reading English for her age and coming along quite well in reading Mandarin with the extra classes she goes to. As for BM, she's only exposed to it in school.

Her handwriting is the 'frustrating' part of 'frustratingly hilarious'. She is an impatient kid who can't sit still for long so although she can write properly if she focuses, she 'prefers' to write quickly (so that she can move on to more fun stuff like books, toys or TV), resulting in overly large, misshapen letters with inconsistent size and spacing. So my patience is always tested here in trying to get her to focus and write properly.

Me: Caitlin, you need to write on the line and don't write the letters too big, otherwise there's not enough space to finish the sentence.

Caitlin: Mum, do sharks eat everything? (see what I mean? I sometimes wonder what goes on in that whirring mind of hers, always 'jumping' around different thoughts)

Me (rolling my eyes and feeling @#&*?): What does your book about sharks say?

Caitlin: It says they eat everything, even shoes, rubbish...

Me: That means we must not pollute the sea. The sharks will die if they eat everything. Now, write!

Then I thought I'd get her to read and understand/explain the sentences she had written.

Caitlin: Ibu membeli dua biji durian di pasar. (Mother bought two durians from the market).

Me: What does it mean?

Caitlin: The durian is round.

Me: LOL (this is the 'hilarious' part of 'frustratingly hilarious'). It means mother bought two durians from the market....

Caitlin: Dua ekor burung sedang menyanyi (Two birds are singing)

Me: What does it mean?

Caitlin: The birds cannot sing well.

Me (trying hard not to laugh): No, the birds ARE singing. "Sedang" means they are "doing something". Why can't they sing well?

Caitlin: Because the music notes are all crooked in this picture (the picture illustrating the sentence).

Hellllp....she's going to Year One in proper school next year (read more homework!)....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Don't show off

Caitlin is a confident kid and also one who loves to be the centre of attention. Every chance she gets, she will 'show off' whatever about herself or anything she has that she thinks is good, impressive, clever, pretty, etc etc. If you pay her a compliment, she'll readily agree without batting an eyelid and thank you for it.

Caitlin (flexing her biceps): Mum, see, my muscles are getting hard right?

Me: Well, not too bad....

Caitlin: They are medium hard?

Me (trying to grab opp to 'psycho' her): Yes, if you eat healthy food and sit quietly at the table while eating, then you can get stronger. Do you want to call Daddy and tell him about your muscles?

Caitlin: No.

Me: Call lah...

Caitlin: Nooo, I don't want to show off.

I was so amused that she said those words!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Domestic help

This is my semi funny take on the whys and why nots of having live-in house help, or what Malaysians refer to as 'maids'.

Why I don't have/don't want a maid

Can't afford one i.e. acquisition fees, salary, full board costs
Don't want additional person to be frustrated with
Don't want additional headcount to care for
Don't want another crybaby if she is the emotional type who can't take correction
Don't have to worry about walking around the house in my undergarments
Can go out or holiday without worrying where to park her if we don't bring her along, or if I'd return to find her (and contents of my house) missing
Don't have to worry where and when we do 'it' as long as kid is asleep (not that we are such horny beings-lah!)
My kid will not speak with Indon or Filipino accent
No worries about maid seducing hubby (LOL! but actually I've heard of such cases you know...)
Don't lose money to agent or get blacklisted by the authorities if maid runs away
Don't need to do quality control check on housework done


Why I would like a maid

Can pretend to live like 'tai tai' or designer mum
Don't have to clean meat, fish, vege after marketing
Don't have to wash, cut, chop food to prepare for cooking
Don't have to do laundry, dishes, house cleaning, ironing
I will not have hand dermatitis, instead can have manicure and pedicure everyday
Can park maid and kid at home or bookstore while I do my own shopping in peace
Can enjoy my dinner with other adults instead of sitting at the kiddies' table, or hopping between adults' and kids' tables to make sure the kid is eating and not just playing with other kids when we eat out.
Can exercise, watch TV while the housework gets done by someone else.


Looks like why I don't want a maid outweighs why I want one.... Damn! Hee hee, so I've been maid-less for two years now. Hooray...or sob sob?

Malaysian missing in Montana

Last week, I read news about a young Malaysian man who went hiking in a national park in Montana and has been reported missing. This came just a few days after I watched the movie version of Into The Wild, the book which I read and blogged about not too long ago.


Yi-Jien Hwa, 27, started his hike on August 11th and was due back a week later. Till now, he's yet to be found. He's a seminary student in Kentucky and from a family well known among the Methodist church circle back home. My heart goes out to his family as they continue to fast and pray and keep their faith and hopes up. Quite a few sites and blogs have news, sharing of thoughts and personal emails from his mum about what they're going through at this trying moment.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fish spa experience

One weekend when we visited Pavilion mall, we chanced upon the fish spa that is quite the novelty lately. It's a place where you pay to get your feet nibbled by fish for 'therapy' to remove dead skin cells, rough skin etc. Caitlin was very fascinated by it as they had a glass window display at the shopfront where shoppers walking by can see people's feet getting nibbled.

She had mentioned wanting to go try it a couple of times when something triggered her memory and finally this evening (yesterday actually since it's past midnight now), we literally took the 'plunge'. We went to their outlet in Mid Valley mall. After paying (RM38 for adults and half price for kids age 4-12 for 30 mins), we washed our feet and found one 'tank' to put our feet into. Eugene did not join us as he had tried it before during his lunch break one day.

I had read in their website that different tanks had different sized fish, the bigger ones nibbled harder while the smaller ones were recommended for first timers. Unknowingly we dipped into the one with larger fish and immediately we both felt so ticklish we burst out laughing and almost couldn't stop.

Two Japanese women who were already there were quite amused with us and pointed out the tank further away which had smaller fish. The smaller fish's nibbles were more bearable, my feet felt slightly tickled and tingled. After awhile, I got used to the sensation. Caitlin however refused to put her feet in after the initial experience with the bigger fish. Only after much persuasion (I wasn't going to let RM19 go to waste, man!), she finally found the courage to put her feet in for the last remaining 10 minutes.

My feet

Caitlin's feet

When time was up, she said she wanted to do this again, but at Pavilion the next time...

My verdict? An interesting, fun and ticklish first-time experience. The hard and dry parts of my feet feel slightly softened. I guess you need to go frequently to get the full effect. The difference between this and using feet pampering products like foot baths, scrubs, lotions, etc is that you get the additional 'tickles' and you just sit and relax with drinks/snacks (they have a small menu) and reading material (provided free)instead of having to work on your feet yourself (unless you go to a pedicure or spa).

This place also offers a range of other pampering services like reflexology, head, neck, hand, shoulder, and body massage. Certain outlets also offer full body fish spa. Imagine dipping your whole body into a tub full of fish and getting nibbled!
Kenko Reflexology and Fish Spa