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Escape From Locked Toilet

April 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

When I picked Zaria up from her enrichment class, she told me she went to the toilet middle of her class and locked herself in the cubicle.

Not able to open the door, she shouted for help and no one came, guess what this survivor did?

She climbed over to the next cubicle (stepping on the toilet bowl, water tank) and got out!

This is her own account of the incident.

What a cool calm girl she is at times like this.

Houston 2015 – January

April 3, 2015 at 2:16 pm

In January, I went to Houston for a work trip for a week (10th Jan to 18th Jan). Making this my 3rd trip to Houston, the 1st was in 2008, the 2nd in 2013. It was a pretty last minute trip, so I didn’t have much planning done.

Flying to East of USA is a pain. The flight time is looong, 13hrs from KL to Amsterdam, transit for 4hrs, and then another 10.5hrs from Amsterdam to Houston, worse still if you go with an airline like KLM, which I did, where the seats are smaller, and the space between rows of seats are narrower. It was quite torturous in my opinion. Luckily the food served was pretty decent, and they have quite good in flight entertainment.

These are just some photos captured during the trip for memory keep sake.

♥Amsterdam Airport Schiphol♥
(photos are all taken from mobile, hence the quality is not as good)

It’s a nice airport, with lots of cafes, but I like the Dutch Kitchen the best.

The Gevulde Koeken, which is an Almond Paste filled Cookie was so delicious, I had it again on my transit to go back home.

The are quite a number of shops there to keep me occupied; and of course, most of the souvenir shops sell cheeses. I didn’t buy any, didn’t know what was good.

I was attracted to the Meditation Centre, and went there to check out, I think it was meant to be a surau (Muslim prayer room), so I saw some people praying there, but also a few taking a nap in the quiet room.

4hours transit isn’t that bad.

♥Houston Shopping♥

When in the US, of course, we have to do some shopping. I really really love the variety of items available there.

At Sports Authority.

At REI.

Of course, can’t miss a visit to the Outlets.

I was so tempted to get the Samsonite Cosmolite (check out the price!), but buying it would mean incurring additional baggage charge on the KLM flight, which only allows 1x23kg checked suitcase. Sigh.

I always love to visit supermarkets wherever I am. And I just realised on this trip, there’s a Wholefoods Market just near the office.

The variety of organic and natural product is just amazing. This is where I purchased my very first set of natural skin care product from, many many years ago, in the Wholefoods Market in California.

Hilton Garden Inn
This is the hotel we always stay in when we’re in Houston. Nice room, but electrical appliances in my room were noisy, so I had to turn off the air-condition (heater actually since it was winter), pull out the plug for the fridge before I could have a good sleep.

Breakfast was included, and they were pretty delicious although not many choices to choose from.

For dinner, usually we went out in a group, only a couple of times I had to eat on my own.

At PF Changs near the hotel, having a romantic dinner all by myself.

At BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.

I managed to meet up with my Texas BFF Jerry, who drove 45mins to meet up with me at a Vietnamese Restaurant, Mekong Grill. Food wasn’t great, and we joked about how authentic a Pho can be if it’s served with crab sticks, but it was nice to just have a catch up with him.

The best dinner I’d had on this trip is at Mia Bella. This is another restaurant that our colleagues like to frequent, as the food is always so delicious. I had a Pan Seared Sesame Crusted Salmon, it was heavenly. The sesame gave the salmon a nice flavourful crunch. Oh boy, if I were to go to Houston again, I have to go back to this restaurant for another of this heavenly dish.
It really really tasted nicer than it looked.

My favourite meal of the day is lunch, as I love the variety of delicious food served in the company’s cafe.
Check out the Asian section – pot stickers, sushi, Vietnamese rice rolls.

The Italian Station have super delicious looking pizzas, and flat bread pizzas.

The salad bar has such nice raw vegetable and delicious toppings that I actually have salad for lunch for a couple of days.

My lunches.
Salad with over the top toppings.

Chicken Pot Stickers, so yummy.

Turkey Burger, which was so juicy and well grilled.

After a week in Houston, I put on weight, of course.

I drove in Houston to get to the office and to go to the shops. Actually, you rarely see people walking. I did walk to restaurants a couple of times with my colleagues, and we can see that Houston roads are not meant for pedestrians. There is no pavement for one. And the roads were so wide you have to do a hundred meters dash every time you cross a road.

While driving, I have to remind myself to keep the right all the time, just so I don’t make any mistakes, since in Malaysia we drive on the left.

Unfortunately, this trip was so last minute and short for any sight seeing. This was the scenery I saw daily, while walking to the car to get to the office. This one was on a day when it got really foggy.

Temper Cancer

April 2, 2015 at 10:50 am

The little one has been extremely difficult, even though she gave us her promise, she still has tantrums and fit of anger triggered by the smallest thing.

Me: You know, you really should control your temper.
Zaria : I try to ma, but sometimes I cannot control it
Me: What you have is like a temper cancer you know. We try to help you but if it doesn’t work, we’ll have to send you to Monfort Boy School, they are like a hospital for all the temper cancer patient
Zaria : Then when can I come back?
Me: Until you are fully healed from temper cancer, and you can control your temper so you don’t get angry so easily
Zaria : But cancer cannot be cured right?
o.O”

Anyone has any suggestion on how to cure Temper Cancer?

We try to speak to her nicely, it doesn’t work.
Taking away privileges, it doesn’t work.
Punishing her, it doesn’t work.
We kept telling her we all love her, she knows it, and starts feeling sorry and sobs, but then it’s easily forgotten, and next day, the cycle repeats.
She’s only like this at home, at school, she’s always conceding, no teachers have ever complained about her except that she day dreams sometimes.

I just hope this is a phase she’s going through, and it’ll be over soon.

My Promise – By Zaria

March 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Zaria has been extremely difficult the last week, using foul language, spiting in her sister’s tea just because her sister made tea without telling her (they always brew tea together), using her sharp tongue to talk back, sometimes even telling us she wished we weren’t her family, she wished she was an orphan etc etc.

This little sweetie pie has a sweet sweet sugary filling, but sometimes her temper gets the better of her. After a few ‘counselling’ sessions we had with her, she decided to write us her promise or her ode to her family.

(She even signed it in red to indicate she’s serious).

Sweet Sweet Zaria, we all love you very much, and hope you will be able to control your temper, and outgrown this episode in life, and we hope you will keep all these promises you made to your family.

Homemade Sandwich Bread Loaf

March 17, 2015 at 11:37 pm

I have bought these bread tins from Penang for more than a year and never tried using them before. Few days back, the girls requested for sandwiches for school lunch so I thought why not made a sandwich bread loaf. The girls don’t like sweet bread unless it’s cinnamon buns, so I tweaked the recipe I found in this recipe book, using only 1/3 of the sugar listed on the recipe.

It takes a long time to make produce the loaf because of the ferment, but using a ferment creates a nicer flavour and softer bread, which to me, is worth the wait.

♥Recipe adapted from Carol

Ingredients:
For the ferment:
200g strong white flour
135g water
1/2 tsp yeast

For the dough:
210g strong white flour
90g cake flour
1/4 tsp yeast
20g sugar
3/4 tsp salt
60g extra virgin olive oil
145g water
1 egg

Method :
For the ferment :
1) Mix ingredients for the ferment together (I use hand) for about 5mins until you have a rough dough.
2) Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave it to rest 4hrs~6hrs.

For the dough:
1) Put the flour in a mixing bowl and add in the yeast. Scoop the ferment into the bowl, then add the egg, water, oil, sugar and salt, mixing well until all combined; knead for 4-5mins (I use the Thermomix and knead for 4mins; but you can use hand or a mixer with dough hoook). (Step 1, 2 at the below pix)
2) Remove the dough, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, forming it to a ball, cover
3) Leave it to rest for 1.5hrs or until double in size. (Step 4 at the below pix)
4) Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and turn the dough out in one piece, deflate the dough slightly. Divide the dough equally into 2 portion (it’s very soft but supple). Roll them into balls, cover and let it rest for 15mins. (Step 5 at the below pix)
5) Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into long flat strips, and then roll each of the strip up into logs. Once again, roll the dough out into long flat strips with the rolling pin, and roll them up again into logs. (Step 6 to 10 at the below pix)
6) Place the 2 pieces of roll up dough in the bread tin. Allow it to proof for an hour. (Step 11 at the below pix)
7) Mean while preheat the oven to 210C. When the rolls are ready (should rise to almost 90% covering the bread tin), place the lid on and put the bread tin into the oven. (Step 12, 13 at the below pix)
8) Bake for 40mins.
9) Once baked, remove the bread from the tin and let it cool on the rack.

Book page from Carol’s 2nd book

And viola, a nice loaf of sandwich bread.

It has a strong crust which holds its shape, and the bread itself is airy and soft.

Note : The bread tin I have is 20cm x 12cm x 11cm. After the dough was rested, I could see that it has risen much bigger than the bread tin, hence I took about 100g dough out and formed them into buns (baked at same temperature for 12mins). It probably would have spilled out of the tin or making the loaf denser if I haven’t done so.

Life Rushes By

February 28, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Since the end of the year, I have been so busy, hence the long absence of new posts in this site.

The 1st few weeks of the year were spent sorting out classes the girls should attend, finding tutors for the girls etc etc and finally a routine is established.

I’m involved in 2 big global projects on top of my normal day job. Every day, besides working the regular hours, we have night calls so all regions can work together for 2 hours. Globalisation and mobility get you sucked into work 24×7 that’s what I think.

Life just rushes by the last couple of months.

Feisty Zaria

January 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

Happy New Year to everyone.

Ever since we gave Zaria the barista title, she makes coffee or tea for me daily.

Yesterday after breakfast, I asked her for my cup of coffee as usual. Zaria said later. And repeated her ‘later’ for the next 1hr and eventually did not bother to even reply when I asked about my coffee.

I lost my patience and went downstairs, to see her lying on the sofa reading.
Me : From 9 till 10:30 I asked for my coffee, and you kept saying later, and then didn’t even answer me any more! Today is my 1st day of work, you are still on holidays, and you can’t even make your mom a cup of coffee? Do you have anything to say?
Zara : Sorry ma, what do you want ma? Do you want me to make a cup of coffee or tea for you?
Zaria : ….
Me : Ok. For lunch, I’m not cooking for you, and Auntie (our helper) cannot cook for you too. You go and figure out what to eat. There’s lots of cereals and milk.
So I made my own coffee, and thinking Zaria will come over to apologise; but instead, she went to our helper and asked, “Auntie, do we still have mee sedap?”
o.O”

At 12pm, she boiled a pot of water herself, cut opened a pack of mee sedap, and made herself lunch!!
o.O”

While I was eating roast chicken sandwich, and fried button mushroom with Zara at the same table with her, I asked “You can have some if you say something to me.”
Slurping her noodle, she said, “Even if I say sorry, I don’t really mean it, so what’s the point of saying it.”
o.O”

That’s my 8 year old alright, feisty, independent, non-complying.

Johor – Kluang UK Farm 2014

December 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Continues from here

We spent 2 nights in Kluang. Stayed in a nice hotel, Hotel Merdeka, which has been refurbished recently. The family room is extremely spacious and the big beds very comfortable.

Of course when in Kluang, one must go to Kluang Rail Coffee to have breakfast. There are a few Kluang Rail Coffees in Kluang, all under the same company serving similar stuff, but the original one is located right at the Kluang KTM Station.

Honestly, there’s really nothing great about the food or drink, but it’s something you have to do when you are in Kluang.

Even after spending a full day at Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (KOREF) the day before, the girls wanted to go back there for a second visit; since they like farm visits so much, we decided to bring them to UK Farm, which is on the way from Kluang to Ayear Itam toll.

There are different packages for visitors in UK Farm, adults and children pay the same amount. We took 2 x RM30 package and 2 x RM45 package. Both include guided farm tour, but for RM45, a bottle of passion fruit drink, a muffin, an ice cream are given to the guest, but the main reason we chose this package was that it also included animal feeding.

UK Farm is a much bigger farm, we had to ride on a bus to tour the farm with a guide.

1st stop, goat pen. The girls get to feed the goats dried grass provided, and also bottle feed the goat milk.

The goats were quite fussy, the girls discovered that once the (bottle) teat has been sucked or licked by one goat, the others won’t touched it any more.

They had a chance to cuddle a baby goat too.

Next we were brought to see goats being milked. The goats with full udders were herded to the milking station, and while being fed, they had their head locked behind bars to prevent them from escaping while being milked. Their udders and teats are sterilised before being attached to pumps goat by goat to milk them. We could see the udders shrinking once the milk has been pumped out.

We were given some goat milk produced in UK Farm to try, hmmm, no one liked it, too errr muttony? If there’s such a word.

We met a group of Anqingban (安亲班)kids on a field trip at the next stop. The girls have to wait for their turn to feed the ostriches and turkeys with the feeds that were part of the RM45 farm package.

The animals at UK Farms all look pretty healthy, they must have been well taken care of.

Together with the big group of kids on field trip, we were brought to the Jakun Village next. There’s only 1 Orang Asli hired to stationed there, with a couple of houses built to look like an Orang Asli’s house, not really a village per say. The Orang Asli did a blow pipe trick to the cheers of the kids, and then we were free to enter the bare “show houses”.

On our way to the next stop, the mushroom farm, we saw a herd of sheep in the big grass field, like the picture that attracted most on the UK Farm’s website.
We probably missed the sheep herding timing, the tour guide didn’t stop for us, but continued to the mushroom farm.

The mushroom farm was the last stop of our guided tour, being close to the main entrance, we were left to explore the rest of the farm on our own.

There’s a big wishing tree next to the mushroom farm with a small tree house, the girls fooled around there..

while I took a rest on the hammock.

Walking back to the entrance, we saw healthy looking horses behind horse rail.
There were more horses in the shed near by. The girls, romancing the thought of riding on a horse galloping across the meadow, asked that we let them go on one.

We paid the extra, and they went on the horses, but both claimed it was so boring since the horse they rode on was led on a reign by the horse handler.

The girls were unwilling to go home after the horse ride, so we walked around more, and found not far from the main entrance, away from the horses, was a small enclosure where chickens, guinea fowls, ducks and geese roamed freely. The girls dug out their last packs of animal feed and had a swell time feeding the birds.

Zaria found her equal here, a duck glaring at her asking for seconds.

They had fun chasing after the birds too, making them all excited/scared fluttering about.

Further in the enclosure, Zaria found this little cutie at the side of the pond.

The duckling was joined by mother duck and more ducklings when Zara tried to go near it.
However, with Zaria’s agility, she did manage to catch one of the ducklings with her hands. She was quite reluctant to release it after.

UK Farm over all is a very well run farm with healthy animals, their produce here is goats milk and passion fruit juice, but both are not found in Klang Valley.

Both girls had a great time here, and Zaria prefers UK Farm over Kahang Farm (KOREF) because of the animals found here, Zara likes the latter because she enjoyed the rafting so much.

Johor – Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (Koref) 2014

December 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Zaria and her gymnastic club went to Singapore early December for a competition and because she’s still so young, we kind of ‘accompanied’ her on this trip although we only saw her on competition day (oh well, we did sneak into her Hostel to check on her the 2nd day she was gone to make sure she was ok).

After the competition, we went to Kluang, as we were not willing to spend more in Singapore since the exchange rate is so high. Prior to making this trip, a couple of friends has already recommended some places to visit in Johor, the girls shortlisted Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm 加亨有机稻米生态农场 (Koref).

Koref is about an hours drive from Kluang. Upon arriving, we had to decide what we plan to do to pay for the relevant fee.

RM10 for a day spent there, with light refreshment provided.
RM35 for a day spent there + lunch.
RM50 for a day spent there + lunch and tea snack.
RM60 for full day spent there with lunch, tea snack and dinner provided.
(Prices of farm entry can be found here)

We decided we’ll go for the 2nd option.

The day we were there, there was only another family on a day visit and another group who’s about to check out, it wasn’t very busy, which was good for us.

Soon after we’d paid, the girls started trying their hands on rafting under the hot scorching sun!

The water is actually very shallow, the deepest end is probably just waist deep, and since the girls know how to swim, I left them rafting on their own while I stayed in the shade and walked about the farm.

Koref has farm stay too, the most luxurious ones are water chalets are built around the shallow pond with colourful wooden walking linking them.

Rooms are pretty basic, but I love the colourful deco and mural drawn on the walls of the chalets.

There are some dorms or bigger rooms for sharing as well, they are all colourfully painted.

Besides rafting, there is an obstacle course built on the pond. The girls had a go at it. Did they get wet? They did get a little wet, but didn’t fall into the pond.

However, Zaria dropped her slippers into the water crossing a path, and had to go into the water to retrieve the slipper even though she could have asked for help from the guides there. Oh well, she’s the sort who doesn’t mind getting dirty, so it was fun for her.

Lunch was served at the time we specified during registration. It was a meal of organic rice (grown in Koref itself), organic vegetable, organic eggs etc.
Besides the dishes shown here, we also have a steam Tilapia fish from their pond. Not bad actually for the price we paid.

After lunch, we had the girls walk with us to explore the farm together. Besides water activities, there are little animals around the farm roaming about freely.

The girls chased rabbits around, carried them, fed them kangkung they harvested themselves.

They found eggs in dirt pens and saw protective hens hatching eggs.
I think this hen has been conned into hatching normal eggs as the eggs we found on the dirt pens around were all white in colour, but this particular hen was hatching brown (supermarket?) eggs.

Further away, we found 2 goats in their pens. We could pat them, feed them and got really close to them.

We got so closed to the goats, we noticed the goats’ pupils were rectangle in shape instead of circle (does this apply to all goats or only the goats found here?)

Walking further away, we saw the padi fields, the tilapia pond, where the fish for our lunch came from.

The farm is not just a visitor farm, it’s actually a working farms, farmers or workers were toiling in the fields.

Egrets were found around the padi fields, some even taking a plunge at the tilapia pool grabbing a fish for lunch.

Of all that’s to be done and see at the farm, the girls still like the rafting the most.

By evening time, they were already experts. Even the young guides (students working during the long holidays) said they were getting really good.

I think we got our money’s worth spending such a long day there.

Taiping 2014 – The Food

December 10, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Continues from here.

Taiping has some really good food, this trip, we went out hunting for food so often Zaria actually asked if that was an Eating Trip or a Holiday.

♥Larut Matang Food Court/Medan Makan Larut Matang♥ (Jalan Panggung Wayang)
Although the food court has lots to offer, we really only like the deep fried radish cake and the tong shui (dessert) there.

The deep fried radish cake or lo bak kou is very different from the ones in KL. This one is plain white and deep fried. Yums.

No 40 dessert stall at the Larut Matang Food Court should not be missed.

Our favourite, the red bean soup and the peanut soup.

♥Restoran Kakak 家家茶室♥ (111, Jalan Pasar, Taiping)
The place is famous for its noodle, where you can pick your own topping like pork ball, fish ball, fish cake, stuffed tofu etc.

But what we came here for was really the Kakak Ping 家家冰; which is a drink made with Nescafe added into barley water. A smooth and creamy drink. They sold off the 1st day we arrived at 10am, so we went back the 2nd day.

♥Restoran Kong Xing 港星粤膳楼♥ (150, Jalan Satu, Pokok Assam 34000 Taiping)

Our friend’s husband brought us there for dinner the 1st night we arrived. It’s a proper Cantonese style air-conditioned restaurant which serves pretty refined dishes. No photos taken during dinner, but the food was really good, especially the steamed whole chicken! Zaria and I had so many pieces of chicken that night!

♥Mee Udang Mak Jah♥ (Kampung Menteri, Kuala Sepetang)

The outdoor restaurant was packed when we arrived. But seriously, I don’t know what’s the hype about. For RM11 per bowl, the noodle came with a generous amount of big prawns; to me, that’s all. Don’t like the alkaline taste of the noodle, and the starchy sauce.

♥Kuala Sepetang Curry Mee♥ (Jalan Taiping, Kuala Sepetang)

The stall is infont of the curve as you go into the town and is opened only after 3pm.

I’m a fan of curry mee, and boy, this one is goood! The soup has not much santan in it, but has a very rich prawn flavour. The prawn topping was so flavourful!

Curry Mee over the Mee Udang anytime!

♥Light House Seafood Restaurant♥ (10, Jalan Cina, 34750 Matang, Taiping)

Again no photos as we were chomping up the food so quickly. The popular dish here is the seafood porridge, and deep fried fish (Cai Yu Zhai), which were so well fried, even the bones can be eaten.

♥Simpang Fried Kuey Teow 新板华顺烟花炒粿条♥ (13, Medan Pasar, Jalan Taiping-Kuala Sepetang, 34700 Simpang. Opposite Simpang Mc Donald’s)

The Chinese name of the stall 新板华顺烟花炒粿条 is translated to Simpang Fireworks Fried Kuey Teow. The uncle who fried the kuey teow is like a performer, with each plate of kuey teow he fried, he was sending sparks flying.

See the sparks flying?

We waited for about 30mins for the first place to arrive; being with friends, we didn’t even feel it. The kuey teow was served on a heart shape leave, how pleasing.

It was wetter than the Penang ones but taste wise it was different too, but equally good.

♥Taiping Aulong Kaya Puff/Kaya Kok♥ (1106D Jalan Permaisuri/Lorong 4 Aulong, 34000 Taiping. Tel :05-8074136/0125635919)
No shop, just operating from their house, this Kaya Puff or Kaya Kok can be so popular in Taiping. We had our friend ordered them for us earlier (in case they ran out), and then we went to collect in the afternoon.

It was not easy to find. It’s actually a single story house, with the front gate closed and latched. We only realised later that the back door opens out to a lane, where regular usually picks their kaya puff from.

The Kaya Kok/Kaya Puff were nicely (and uniquely) packed, wrapped in paper glued with starch.

We find them quite nice, especially when freshly out of the oven; it doesn’t have the lard taste that we find in some kaya puffs, and the kaya is rich and fragrant.

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