Sunday, March 29, 2009

Books, For The Poor

My youngest daughter came back from school one day and told me that she got 11 books for $8. It was supposed to be 80 cents each, she said. Although it sounded like a great deal, naturally, to give her a hard time, I asked, "Why? You have so many books (Archie's) already?" Her answer, "They are for the poor kids..." It turned out that some group was raising fund for some poor kids by selling used books. The books are for her to keep. It's all for good cause after all....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting Better...

I am on my way to recovery, my stomach is still "funny", not ha-ha funny, but weird funny. But I am dying to get better. My body can't handle foods other than the bland ones, but my head has started imagining the fancier one. Surprisingly, I feel like having salmon sashimi. I do not know why..... Definitely, I am not having it too soon...mad I don't want to jeopardize my chance to recover. I am going to be careful. Too bad, my baby is still in pain. And too super bad that I can't even anything much on my birthday.

I have not been baking or cooking, of course, these Buttermilk Lemon Mini Cakes were made a few days ago when I was in good health.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Present From TJ - '09 Version

Got a birthday present from my younger sister TJ, any guesses?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Falling Ill....

One morning I was okay and had something that the whole body could not agree on, then I found myself spending 24 hours in agony and pain, throwing up in the middle of the night while I was in total pain and beaten down. Then continued with numerous trips to the toilet the whole night accompanied by nearly non-stop cruel stomach pain..... That was awful and completely changed my life around for once.

The bed became my best friend over the past 48 hours, as more than 90% of the time, I was there. I am now, recovering... Thanks to DH's insistence that took me to the doctor's place.

Unfortunately, one daughter is now experiencing the same symptoms this morning and now she is in deep, deep pain....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

18 Years Ago ...

It was 4AM in the morning. I woke up in my bed room, feeling very uncomfortable because of the heat. The air-con was off and it was really dark around. The was a black out in the neighborhood where we lived at that time, an area in Jakarta called Pondok Indah or translated as Beautiful Huts or Houses. Ours was a smaller one-not that beautiful-, it was a three bedroom tiny house, probably had an area around 1200sq ft. There were only two of us. My husband and I got married in Singapore, 19 months prior to that day.

I felt the wetness underneath. Lots of fluid, it was not urine. This was my water bag that broke. I never experienced it before, I had never given birth before. But I was sure that that was "IT". I did not really buy the idea that my first born would be arriving soon. It was only March 24, she was due on April 10. I thought, if she could wait for two more days, we could have the same birthday. I guessed that might not happened after all. I was still a bit sleepy... and a little bit confused.

I woke my husband up, telling him that we needed to go to the hospital. No drama whatsoever like in the movies. No panicking over it. We were all calm, got dressed and ready to go, grabbed the prepared bag and headed to the hospital in our small-company-owned Honda. We had small conversations on the way, it was a short ride to the hospital, maybe around 5-10 minutes. The traffic was good, after all it was so early in the morning.

I was taken to maternity ward in a wheel chair and DH took care of the registration and getting a room for after delivery. We had no relatives nearby or close friends that could be called at that time, not that we needed that. I was fine with a very well trained nurse and DH. I started having contractions and pain that went with them. I could not recall where DH was or what he was doing. The contractions got intense as the time went by and felt so unbearable at times.

9:40 AM on the very same day, a baby girl was born. I was officially a mother. I was happy and relieved that everyone was fine and the baby girl was in perfect health. I spoke on the phone with my mom and my sisters who were joyous of new family member. They were coming immediately from 250 km away. DH was in the room and everything else seemed blurred. My life as a mother had just begun......

It feels like just last week that it all happened, it's now 18 years later and she is ready to spread her wings and leave home in a few months. Happy Birthday P, you are officially legal now! Go and tidy up your room! Wishing you all the wonderful things and happiness in life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

To The Grandma's ....

Sunday morning and heavy rain. It's a perfect combination to stay in bed til late. Too bad that was not the case for me this time, as we were to take a road trip. To the grandma's house we go, to the grandpa's grave we visit!

I like to be organized and prepared, I am also very disciplined, in some certain areas. Like when my alarm went off at 5:05, I woke up immediately. I understand the danger of attempting to buy more sleeping time. It's a no-no-no for me. I got up and started my day on the dot. I baked some bread for breakfast and for the trip for myself, because I could not make myself eat so early, but I still needed to fill my stomach up anyway. I cleared up the kitchen for the two bigger kids that were not joining us. I packed some drinks and snacks, the camera, my pashmina and coat and some reading materials. IPod and mobile phone too, all set. That was just for a day trip. Blushing 6

The road was quiet, we were one of the few insane people that were out in the rain on Sunday morning, there was barely no-one at both immigration check-points. All processes were done quite fast and efficient. We continued our trip well and the little sleeping beauty was fast asleep and listening to her iPod at the same time. I, to this day, never understand the point of listening to the songs while sleeping. Do explain, I am all ears!

It was great to see my super healthy 82-year mother in law that was visibly delighted to us and I could see a little surprise on her face and appreciation, which I totally did not deserve, that I came all the way to visit her husband's grave. The thanking me for coming was spoken in Hokkian and I am so proud to have understood that bit.....Giggle 3 [a pat on my back]...... We are ashamed that this is our first time around for the Qing Ming Festival, including for DH. DH always had something-something and I am a pure taggingalong-person. But we made it this time, it's what mattered.

Pictures of grave are rather depressing. The pictures of flowers that I put in this post here were taken around in her house, they should be more uplifting. Have a good week.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Quick Fish Soup

I took me a very long time to start liking some of the local foods here. Back circa 1990, when we lived here for a short couple of years, I could not really fancy most of them., I am not sure why. This time around , I am able to like some better, not all. Out of so many, I only fell in sort of love, with a few dishes.

I did not grow up eating fish soup, the idea of having fish in the soup sounded so - eeekkk - fishy! I saw DH being fond of the dish and so is my vegetarian sister. I can't remember when I had it for the first time, but I thought it was not too bad. From time to time, especially on my meatless Fridays, I have some too. Once in a while I make them a home too, but the kids, being super psychics as they are, are not willing to try before even giving them a chance.

I had some vegetable stocks in the freezer that I could use, I went for groceries and got some fish fillet, silken tofu, a pack of leafy vegetables and I had some tomatoes in the fridge. That's pretty much it. Cook them together and I had a quick healthy lunch.

My favorite is though, to add dried seaweed and sliced red chili to the soup .... Eat

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thanks, Mobile Phone...

I have to admit that I put a reminder on my mobile phone for myself the night before I go to bed when I get some ideas for breakfasts. I actually feel better if it is for rather important matters. But breakfast? It's kind of lame. But it's legit. A reminder is a reminder. Breakfast is important too, the experts have said that it is the most important meal of the day. My memory chip is nearly full that I sometimes forget things that I plan to do, that's when mobile phone with an alarm become handy. Writing it down on a piece of paper or my diary does not help me too much. I either can't find the paper or do not open my diary until days later. Paper and diary do not produce alarming sound as well. Thank goodness for the invention of mobile phone with alarm.

It has been a while since we had waffles for breakfast, I was craving for them last night, just when I was about to fall asleep. Strange, I know. I, of course, had to typed it on my mobile phone just in case my memory failed me. When I woke up this morning, I still remembered it and made my moves to make it happen. Coincidentally, my youngest girl told me that she thought about waffles too last night.... Hmmmmm..... what do they say... Great minds think alike! Melodramatic
You Go Girl

Friday, March 20, 2009

If A Clothes Stand Could Cry....

When I found this clothes stand in on of the shops here, I was really excited. It was exactly something that I had been looking for a long time. I paid for it in a heartbeat and had it by the main door for while until I saw someone else's need for it. It was meant only for a week or two, maybe a month or so. Temporary, that's the word for it.

Years have gone by since and sadly, it has not been used the way it was intended to be used. In fact, I feel sad when I look at it being loaded with too many things. It's kind of abusive. It lost its beauty.

And if you think that I have not told this person to treat my clothes stand better, you are so completely wrong. I have communicated it too many times that I probably could age so much faster than any normal human beings if I keep on doing it. I am ignored, cause she is neither deaf nor blind. She listens and looks selectively. I am just like a piece of paper that falls on the floor and some tissue papers that are crumpled and tossed to the corner of the room and some dirty clothes that miss the big laundry basket there.

My OB/Gyn told me not too long ago that teenagers' brain are confused, like my confused brain that mess up my hormones when I am under a lot of stress. The literature that I read indicated that the developmental pieces of a teenager aren’t necessarily in sync. There are physical development, the cognitive development and the social development to consider that vary in ages within one teenager. This does not make me necessarily more understanding of the situation. It drives me nutzzz...... In a fancy language, let me say that in teens the prefrontal cortex is still developing and making connections to other parts of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible to make judgment. There you go, you have just learn why teenagers are confusing.

Let this be the case, in two years and 4 days she'll be 20 years old and the brain should be, hopefully, confused no more. Pray for me, please !

Better Looking One

Another morning with cinnamon rolls for breakfast, they tasted very similar with the ones that I made a few days earlier, but I thought they are better looking because they did not look too dry. I cheated a bit with some light corn syrup on top. It's nowhere near the wetness of sticky buns, but I think they looked more appealing. Whatdayathink?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cool & Sweet Wednesday

Growing up, my mom always bought bananas in bunches. There were a lot of us that eat them with no problem, I don't recall any struggle finishing off or having to throw away the rotten uneaten ones. In my household these days when we buy bananas, we only get two or three of them only and still have difficulties in clearing them up. I had two or three that I stored in the freezer for future smoothies should that be in demand. Sometimes I could not help but tossing them to the bin. Occasionally, I bake some banana cakes or muffins.

Yesterday, with one banana left and the designated banana eater left the country for a few days, I decided to make fruit crisp. I had two pears in the fridge that I cut into wedges and cooked them on a skillet with sugar and lime juice. One large banana was sliced and the pieces were arranged on the ramekins with the cooked pears. To finish it, I sprinkled the crisp made from oatmeal, flower, cinnamon, butter and sugar. Continued with baking them until tops turn brown for about 20 minutes. Scooped out and served with vanilla ice cream.... Just the best for a hot afternoon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Hot Day....

It turned to be a very hot day. Too hot that my head hurt. There might not be connection but I still put them together anyway. I must admit, it's quite comfortable inside the house, thanks to the air-con that is working hard and well-maintained.

I have a stack of paper to file and some data inputting to do, but I have been setting them aside. for a later time. A queen of procrastination I am indeed ..... I needed to rearrange the schedule for next week, moving my appointment from Tuesday to Monday, the Monday one was moved to Thursday. On Tuesday, I will be chaperoning someone at the hospital. Everything is set now, with one exception. I still need to reply to an invite for dinner on Thursday which we can't attend. Also, we are on the waiting list for our flight and we have not booked the hotel yet for our holiday. I guess, we are not quite set yet.........

I kept on telling my kids how fortunate they are that they could have freshly baked breakfast in the morning, I wish my mom had done the same thing for me. Actually, I can't really remember what I usually had for breakfast when I was small. Our school started at 7AM or before, so it was wayyyy... early...

I baked cinnamon twists yesterday, for breakfast and I was requested to baked cinnamon rolls this morning. The order always come the night before. Since I made only two rolls, I put them on small individual pans. They turned out really cute, I thought. wink

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Diving Down, A Bit....

To have the temperature during the day dropped to 25C was wonderful, as it does not happen very often here. It is normally above 30C and humid, nearly all year long. It rained quite heavily around lunch time yesterday, as we were driving home from lunch.

I was practically dragged to this noodle place somewhere in east coast of the island, supposedly has the best fish ball noodles in the country, rated by God knows who. I gave up unwillingly, because of the non stop talk of the place. On Sunday, he managed to take two of our daughters there and reportedly, they cleaned up the food they ordered, so they must be great, or the kids were awfully hungry! I, subsequently, was constantly urged to try. Probably out of love or something else, or simply, he did not want me to miss out.

After what he said to be 20 minute drive, but turned out to be 30 minute one, of course, the food stall that we headed to was closed!!!!!!! hah We had to head elsewhere to get something to eat, without being too picky of we would eat, because we were too hungry by then. 45 minutes of driving later.... I still did not get to try the best mee pok here. sedih

Saturday, March 14, 2009

One Saturday Morning ...

It was Saturday morning, a morning to relax but for us, it turned out to be a busy one. The kids went back and forth to school and one went there for her language oral exam. My coffee was ready, the cheese buns were waiting for the oven to be ready. Another hectic weekend to go through....

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Something Long Overdue ....

Nearly two years ago we visited Bandung, Indonesia and had the opportunity to try "Pepes Ayam" in one of local restaurants in the city. My little girl fell in love with it and we had another dinner the next evening at the same restaurant, called "Bumbu Desa". Pepes ayam itself is a chicken dish, wrapped in banana leaf, filled also with sliced red and green chilies and other spicy ingredients.

From time to time we talked about making them at home, but never really got to make them. The recipe is do-able, it is not too hard to make but somehow I never really had everything that I needed for this dish together. The hardest thing to get for me is the banana leaves to wrap them, because they are not always available at the supermarket and I am not a wet market goer, unfortunately, where these sort of things are more widely available. I could use aluminum foil instead, but I dislike the idea of losing the aroma of banana leaf.

Until finally a couple of days ago, I asked DH who happened to be in the neighborhood of a wet market, to get some. With the leaves, I was actually still short of some of the ingredients, but still proceeded with the plan. It's almost like "now or never" thing, I had postponed it for too long. Besides, the leaves would dry out if unused. What a waste that would be!

After wrapping them with banana leaves, we need to steam the parcel for 30 minutes. They can be eaten at this point, but I love to grill them for a little bit more.

So, we finally did it! They are spicy, but delish!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guten Donnerstagmorgen!

Good Morning! It's Thursday, already! The 12th ..........

A cup of coffee and a brioche to start my morning. Let's start the day. Schönen Tag noch! Have a good day! senyum

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Trying Creme Caramel

One of our guilty pleasures is watching Take Home Chef on TV. Occasionally we get some ideas of what we want to cook or try to make. It sometimes takes me out of my comfort zone too, to make something that otherwise I would not consider trying, which I definitely welcome to. It's good to learn new things as long they are reasonable and do not involve extreme actions like bungy jumping or sky diving or unpleasant things, let's not go into details.......

Here's my latest adventure in the kitchen involving sweet and heavenly dessert, Creme Caramel. I used, of course, the recipe from Curtis Stone of Take Home Chef. Click here if you want to see the recipe. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be and I love the result.

Living Expensively

With the turmoil in the economy, we are now apparently living in the 10th costliest country in the world. Cost of living here has become higher compared to London, New York and many other cities in Europe, including Barcelona, Madrid, Munich......

I have seen increase in the prices of groceries item, mostly are imported anyway, from either faraway countries like USA or the neighborhood ones like Indonesia and Malaysia. Car prices fell too, but still higher than in other countries around due to higher tax. Property prices also dropped, but still outrageously higher as well. This is really an expensive place to live, but it offers many great things in life too. Not in any particular order, I could say, the safety and political stability of the country, the cleanliness as well as the quality of the particular international school that my kids are going to. And there are many others too.... Basically, there's no free lunch. Money pays for all these great things...

Despite higher prices, our pizza has been going thicker, the layers that we had were beefier and they definitely taste yummier..... mmmhhhh.... Here's a toast for hanging in difficult times!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Going Italian ...

Looking back at what we have been eating over the past few days here, I was quite surprised to find so much Italian elements on them. I normally have quite a good mix within a week of what we eat, there would be some rice, some noodles, and others too. I would make sure that we have a good mix of chicken, seafood, meat and vegetables. Somehow, something must have happened to my brain and I ended up with so much of Italian and giving too much unnecessary joy to my kids' tummy ....

Saturday Lasagna.....

This afternoon, my No.3 had the sudden urge to make lasagna and I worked as her assistance in the kitchen. The verdict, it was really good. I helped her tossing is some salt, pepper and herbs, but she did the bulk of the work including assembling and arranging the layers as well as what to put in there. It was super yum, the sausage that was mixed in the sauce helped improve the flavor.

Now pizza....

We also had pizza on a couple of days, the topping was all our classic favorite mix consisting of mushroom, salami, provolone, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Of course they were also super good.

Time for pasta....

Pasta with bacon, mushroom and cream sauce.... sprinkled with more cheese???? Hmmmmh.......

Life has been good, despite the chaos in the world and our waists are definitely expanding, quite rapidly.......