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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Relaxing Sunday


A picture is worth a thousand words. Basically this is what happens on an average Sunday.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zongzi - A day of rice dumplings


In the Chinese Calendar, today is the 5th Day of the 5th month - a festival of eating rice dumplings or zongzi and celebrating Dragon Boat Festival. I love eating rice dumplings, but I cannot eat much as the glutinous rice causes gastric irritation for me. Different families uses different ingredients in their dumplings but the general ingredients like glutinous rice, nuts (any kind of nuts) and pork (except vegetarian dumplings). Like the one above is known as Jianshui zong (碱水粽) or alkaline water dumplings, its a uses plain glutinous rice (no fillings) and lye water (aqueous calcium hydroxide) to give it a distinctive yellow color and it's usually eaten as a desert dipped in palm sugar caramel (Gula Melaka or also known as Gula Merah).
In major cities, it's like any other normal day and food stalls are opened like usual. However, in small towns and villages the only food sorce for this day is - home.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Soups Helps You Loose Weight

While I was getting my regular dosage of BBC News, I came across an article about how soups can help a person loose weight. I quickly clicked the link and began reading the article. Now according to the news report, most dieters biggest problem was feeling hungry. And we feel hungry because of a particular hormone released by our stomach wall - ghrelin. When the stomach is empty, ghrelin is produced and traveled in our bloodstream to reach our brain's mother-of-hormone-processor - the hypothalamus. The when the hypothalamus receives the ghrelin, it will tell the body that the stomach is empty and it's time to find food. And when we eat, the food fills the stomach (thus stretching the stomach walls) and the ghrelin production is stopped.
So how does the soup helps? Based on the reports, solid food is retained in our stomach for digestions while water seeps through the pyloric sphincter valve at the bottom of the stomach. But when the food is blended into a broth or soup, the food and water is retained in the stomach making us feel fuller for a longer period. HOWEVER, do take note that the soup mentioned in the article is broth or cream based soups - like our Campbell mushroom soups. It is not mentioned if clear soups (like tom yam) works and especially when clear soups are common in Asian cuisines.

---Snippet from BBC News Article---

Imagine a typical lunchtime meal - say, chicken and vegetables with a glass of water.

If you eat the food and drink the water, you will feel full for a couple of hours before hunger kicks in. But if you blend the food with the water - to make soup - you will stay hunger-free for much longer, and less likely to snack through the afternoon.

How can blending the food into soup make such a difference? The answer lies in the stomach. Scientists have used ultrasound and MRI scans of people's stomachs to investigate what happens after eating solid-food-plus-water meals compared with the same food made into soup.

After you eat a meal, the pyloric sphincter valve at the bottom of your stomach holds food back so that the digestive juices can get to work.

Water, however, passes straight through the sphincter to your intestines, so drinking water does not contribute to "filling you up".

When you eat the same meal as a soup, the whole mixture remains in the stomach, because the water and food are blended together. The scientists' scans confirm that the stomach stays fuller for longer, staving off those hunger pangs.

The key to this low-tech weapon against hunger is a hormone called ghrelin. It is one of the major players in the body's appetite system.

Discovered as recently as 1999, ghrelin is released by specialised cells in the stomach wall.

These cells produce a constant stream of ghrelin whenever the stomach is empty. The ghrelin travels via the blood stream to the brain's appetite centre, an organ called the hypothalamus. As a result, the hypothalamus screams "You are hungry - find food."

But whenever the stomach wall is stretched - when the stomach is full - the cells stop producing ghrelin, and the hypothalamus responds accordingly, turning off the appetite signal. The longer the stomach remains full, the longer you feel satisfied and the less you are likely to eat.

---End---

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guest Wants Free Transport & Accomodation - another bridezilla's rantings

BridezillaImage sourced via Google.com

In my free time I have been looking into wedding websites and ideas how to manage a reasonable good wedding on a shoestring budget. As much as I look forward for a wedding to remember, I wanted to keep it simple so not to overspend unnecessarily. I know that planning for a wedding is not easy especially when you have relatives living in all four corners of the globe. Most of my relatives asked me to (if possible) plan at least one year ahead and inform them as early as possible so they can take the necessary arrangements as they are living on the other side of the planet. I find that it was a good idea to inform people early so that those who really wanted come can have enough time to save money and even plan a little holiday while here. With the right mood, I inform my relatives and friends.

Alas, not everyone was in the same wave length as I. While most of them got excited over the news and started making their own savings and planning, some boldly asked me a rather offensive (or at least I thought it was) and insensitive question – asking my husband to pay for their transportation and accommodation! Honestly, I didn’t quite know how to react to such a request because it never struck my mind on such a response. Nor were there any hint of such a possible answer could have ever come out from one’s mouth! To me, making such request was akin to having to pay people to attend your wedding. But if that’s the case, I was thinking I rather pay invite more well known people like Amber Chia (Malaysian model), Harith Iskandar (Malaysian actor / comedian) or if it’s even possible - Gurmit Singh (Singaporean actor famous for his role as Pua Chu Kang)! And that was just the basic of asking them to attend the reception dinner.

It really puzzles me that when we invite someone to be at our wedding, is it required that we pay for the guest's transportation and accommodation? Shouldn't it be the guest themselves pay for it? Especially noting the fact that the bridal couple will be spending quite a huge sum for everything else and adding their (guest) tab into the bridal couple's financial burden just doesn't make any sense at all. However things will be different if I'm married to a tycoon. I don't think that would even be a problem in the first place! Probably then I can even get a chartered plane to fly my guest or have a sunset reception dinner in Jimbaran Bay (Bali) instead? And wouldn't it be more obvious when the bride informs her guest 365 days in advance is a sign that she expects them to be prepared to pay for their own trip? After all, if one can start saving MYR2.00 (approx. USD0.60 cents) a day, by the time the wedding day arrives, you could have about MYR730.00! That's more than enough to pay for a return bus ticket (return first class coach (the most expensive among all buses companies) is priced at MYR120.00 from KL to Penang), two nights hotel stay (average hotel prices are MYR200.00 a night, but you can pay half if you share your room with another friend), and based on traditional Chinese customs, invited guest do not bring presents for the bridal couple but give red packets instead which usually is up to the guest to decide the amount (common amount is MYR20 per person in rural areas while people in big cities usually fork out MYR50 as it is known that banquet dinners in the city cost at least MYR60 per pax). So even after deducting the hotel stay, bus transport AND red packet there is still extra money left! Oh well, I guess by asking for my husband to pay for their transport and accommodation is their sign of saying 'I can't come'

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sparrow forced moved

Recently a sparrow couple made nest on the air conditioner's out door unit. The house Sparrow or in Chinese it's known as ma que zi (麻雀子) where in Cantonese speaking community pronounce it as 'mah jiok zhai' which sounds like the mahjong game. I got used to the chirping sound it made every morning. But the droppings and mess it leaves on the floor below the unit was driving me nuts!

So my hubby decided to move the nest elsewhere. Chasing the parents out was very easy - just put a stool under the unit and give it a few taps. Then it came to removing the nest and babies (two of them). There was two little birds, but one was obviously bigger than the other in size. The big one was quite hard to grab hold because it was begining to learn to fly and it wouldn't stay still. The younger one was 'half naked' as the underbelly had no feather yet and it was clinging very hard on the nest.
For safety, I wore gloves and placed the birds and the nest in a bucket while my hubby starts to look for a suitable place to rehouse the birds. The parents were sitting on a fence nearby chirping their little lungs out hoping that we will not harm their little ones.
The nest was nothing more but dried leaves and grass. What's unique is that there was human hair weaved at the bottom of the nest! It was as though it was threaded to keep the bottom tied together. And there was this one part where a few strands of hair tightly 'sewn' the nest to the aircond wiring I had to use some force to yank it out.

Anyway, my hubby decided we should put the nest at the shady bamboo plant outside our room.
After the move, it was rather nosiy with all the extra chirpings in the morning. But at least I've got one lesser chore to do every day - sweeping bird poop from our tiled flooring!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Same Trick Over Used

"Little Miss A, age 7 from Some-Where-Out-There has being diagnosed with leukemia. Her father Mr B, needs $200,000.00 for her operations. All local telco companies has agreed to pay $0.10 for every 10 people you forward this message to. So please send as many as you can."

Have anyone received such short message (SMS) on their mobile phone before? Well, I know I have and it just sounds all too familiar. Not too long ago, there were emails circulating on the Internet about kids or babies with illness. The receiver of the email is requested to forward to as many people as possible so email service provider companies like MSN, Yahoo or Google will donate a certain sum. See the similarities? When I received the SMS, I showed it to my hubby and he too burst into laughter. Whether or not Little Miss A from Some-Where-Out-There DOES have the stated illness is not known. But the very idea of sending as many sms to as many people as possible so the network service provider will donate accordingly is just absurd!
Anyway, over the years the email version has seems to evolved. They have included a line that sounds something like this - Once you have forwarded to the list of contacts, don't forget to CC a copy to admin@email.com! Perhaps in due time, you'll receive an sms that says don't forget to forward to the company's accountant at 012-3456789 so he can keep track of the numbers!

Something FishyImage Source: http://www.joe-ks.com/archives_nov2006/SomethingFishy.htm

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Living near the jungles (more bug photos)

Living in rural area require courage... lots of them. I was outside taking in clothes last night when I found something crawling on my hubby's shirt. Anyway, it's not the first time I've seen weird looking creatures taking a stroll on our clothes. Our worse case scenario? Bird poop on our garments (occasionally we do find lizard poop also). Since this little creature is a little different from the regular six-legged buggies, I've decided to take a picture of it as part of my bug picture collection. My hubby says it's a kind of jumping spider.
When taking pictures of insects and flowers, it's best to use macro shots. Again, I've used my Sony Ericsson W810i's light to shine on the bug. As you can see from the photo, the light is shown from the left side to the right. No flash was used in this shot.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Making Simple Pillow Cases

Okay. So here is my first project - making a simple pillow cases. We've bought a few throw pillows (45cm x 45cm) for the living room some time back but being fussy people, we couldn't decide on a proper pattern for our pillow cases. So when we were in MF-Mart (yes that place again) some time back, he saw a this design but it was already sewn into a curtain. I volunteer to be his little seamstress and try to make six pillow cases from two pieces of curtains measuring 150cm x 200cm.

Since my pillow is 45cm by 45cm, I had to make sure my pillow is at least 50cm X 50cm. To get that, I cut the cloth to 55cm x 130cm (extra 5cm for the width and height for seams).

Making Simple Pillow CasesThe first picture above shows the cloth is already cut to the required length. Now the sides (indicated by the yellow line) are the sides that is 'exposed' where the threads may come loose first. So these sides are folded and given extra stitches just incase.
Making Simple Pillow CasesSome cloths do not have front or back meaning both sides of the cloth are the same. While the cloth I'm using has a front side and back side. So when I do my folding, I have to make sure the front side of the cloth is facing me. Using a measuring tape as a guide, fold the left side inward to the 50cm mark.

Making Simple Pillow CasesThen fold the right side inward. The right side is only half way is just to keep the pillow in the case and so it won't fall out. After folding the right side, sew the sides together. After sewing the sides together, unfold the pillow so the front side of the pillow is now facing out. Stuff in the pillow and now you're done!

Making Simple Pillow Cases

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pancakes for Lunch

It was supposed to be a working day for us. But due to some maintenance work required at a transformer near our factory, the entire industrial area had no electricity for the entire day forcing most factories to close for the day - which includes us.
So for lunch we had pancakes and orange juice. Well, it's not as fancy as Paddington House of Pancakes but it was a very filling meal. Oh, don't ask me for this recipe - we bought those pancakes flour that comes in boxes and just add water and an eggs before frying them in a pan. Too bad the bananas at the back of my house isn't ripe yet or it sure will add extra flavor to the dish! But do note that a box of pancake flour (250 gms I think) is enough to fill the stomach of 4 starving adults!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Night Hobbies


These days, apart from doing those regular house chores I've been trying to polish my sewing skills. In ancient traditional China (especially during the dynasty era) it's a must for all women to know how to sew. Basically back then, there were four skills all noble women must know in order to stay in the high ranks of the aristocratic society. The four skills are known as 琴棋书画 (qing qi shu hua) or in English it's translated as strings (musical instrument), chess (Chinese Chess), books (literature) and art(sewing AND painting included). Now during those times, only the rich can afford to teach their children all four skills and it is these skills young maiden are tested to show their worthiness of marrying someone of the same social ranks or higher. However today, these so called requirements have become hobbies for some people while the majority of society seems to forget them all together.
As usual, I get my cloths from that Japaneses second-hand store -MF Mart. For a brand new 1.5 feet x 32 feet 100% cotton cloth, I only paid MYR5 (about USD1.40). Based on the original labels on the cloth, it was meant for sewing a yukata or Japanese summer kimono. But instead of sewing a yukata robe, I've other plans for it which I'll post it once I'm done. I've also bought some curtains (also MYR5 each), but modify it into cushion pillow cases instead. And since my hubby had bought me a big plastic box, I can use it to store all the cloths when not in use. In the mean time, I'm borrowing my father-in-law's sewing machine and while we scout for a suitable sewing machine for our home. Most electrical stores here no longer sell sewing machines because it's not in demand. So to look for one in the first place is difficult let alone choose the style we want.
Honestly, my sewing skills isn't very good and sewing a straight line can be a daunting task for me (unless predrawn the cloth with a pencil). And silky materials like polyester and nylon just makes it all worse! So I try to stick to cotton and only sew basic items like pillow cases. While I make an effort to learn some skills it's quite sad to know that modern parents only think of sending their children from one tuition center to another tuition center just for a string of As during exams. Or some parents in the city will send their children to special classes instead of teaching themselves basic skills like changing water taps, sewing or even cooking. What's worse I've know of friends of friends who's mother still buys for them their undergarments! Anyway, with such a person who highly depends on his mother just makes it all harder for him (or her) to find a spouse...

About the photograph above, I've used macro mode, ISO-80, with small focus point (spot metering mode) and NO flash. I then point the focus onto the red-colored number 112. Extra lighting is used which I used my hand phone (Sony Ericsson's W810i) and shine onto the measuring tape.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finding Past movies

Back in the early 80s, my family used to watch a British comedy series called "Mind Your Language". It was a show about a bunch of foreigners of various nationality learning English as a foreign language. The students are being stereotyped to their individual nationalities and their misunderstanding of English just tickles our funny bones. However, the show ended abruptly and with no Internet back then, we didn't know what happened to the show.
Recently, my friend downloaded the entire 3 seasons from the Internet and I've decided to watch the show once again! After watching the show, I went online to search and see what had happened to all the actors - which sadly the lead actor Berry Evans died at an early age of 53 in 1997. And while looking through the list of characters in the show, one of the actress (Su-Li the Chinese Communist in the show played by Lim Pik Sen) in the show is actually a Malaysian from Penang!
Oh well, I've linked the first episode from YouTube just for fun!