Wednesday, 30 December 2009

a city of shared stories - kuala lumpur

san forwarded me a link to 2 stories submitted by her sis in this project... i find it's a great idea! this kl city... with its hustle and bustle, and faceless crowd. everyone has a story or two to tell... every corner holds a special meaning for someone.

so i've submitted 2 stories of my own:
1) a home away from home - just a story written in 5 stolen minutes
2) the journey home - summarized from something i posted in 2005. would love to submit the full post, but we're only allowed 1,600 characters!

please click on 'like' after you've finished reading! hehehe... and for those of you in or have been to kl, go submit your own stories!

oh, and here are san's sister's story:

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

more on volunteering at zoo negara...

further to my previous post, here are some photos to share...

each of us were given this sticker...

N and i, waiting for briefing... N thot this is
something really meaningful to be doing on her birthday!

our instruments of torture by the fence in the aviary section...

becoming part of the exhibit sweeping the emu enclosure...

lunch at the staff canteen...

the proud king of the jungle! (at least the zoo jungle lar...)
had a bit of time after lunch, so we took a little walk around.

more sweeping... really program menyapu daun di zoo negara!

this couple got to prepare the meat for some of the birds' meals...
not that i envy them. hehehe... i've always felt icky at handling raw meat!

we swept so much that N got blisters on her finger. luckily i was an expert in handling brooms
i did a halfhearted job in sweeping  my skin was thick enough i did not get any...

the ONLY 'up-close and personal' we had with an animal out of the whole program.
and that also, i suspect it's due to the pissed expression N and i wore for half the day!

read also:

Monday, 28 December 2009

N's birthday at Fullhouse

one thing good about being born in the month of dec is that it's the year end festive season and one can't help but feel the magic and festivities when you celebrate your birthday...

that's how lucky N is... actually this is not really to celebrate her birthday. hehehe... we just wanted to check this place out, and since it's just 2 days before her birthday, i brought along her birthday present to pass to her.

anyway, the place is called FULLHOUSE. it has just opened a new branch in jln yap kwan seng, and everyday i'll drive pass it on my way to the office... the facade is appealing enough for the always-late-for-work me to slow down to try to take a peek at the interior. hehe...

ok, will let the photos do the talking...

the main theme of the cafe is white... very colonial english style. that 'magazine' thing
is actually their menu. and no, the white ck bag is NOT part of the table deco!

menu was quite creative... got comic some more! but all in chinese, so i dunno what it's all abt...

N with her birthday pressie!

minimal packaging, to be more environmental friendly...

her first name card holder! now she won't need to use the black paper clips
to hold her name cards! opps... i think i'm not supposed to tell the whole world abt that! :P

a close up photo of the fake doves on the hedge next to our table...

now on to the food... this was N's tomato bisque with cognac. she said it's ok lar...

this is my wild mushroom cream soup. very mushroomy! and according to N, nicer than her bisque...

this is my green tea milk shake... not that great. no photo of N's drinks, coz also not that great...

this is my alfredo pasta, it's quite yummy. again, no photo of N's fish and chips, coz it came so late that
by the time it came, N was so hungry that she just wolfed it down without remembering to take a pic of it!

but the lateness of N's fish and chips resulted in me saving on cake for N! hehehe... we got a small slice of mocha cake on the house. i'm a cheapskate, i know! but hey, like what N is always saying, free thing is good thing! ;)

here's me with my hair in disarray, due to the big stand fan
that was on full blast nearby. we were sitting on the balcony, so no air-cond!

actually they have a lifestyle store upstairs, but we were rushing off to somewhere that we decided to skip going upstairs to take a look. see, we're not so shopaholic after all! :P

lastly, here's a cheapo way of wishing my best friend a very happy birthday! *muaks*

read also:
1) on turning a year older
2) amigurumi angels
3) latest project

Thursday, 24 December 2009

a season of spreading some joy!

just received word that my package to auntyjo has arrived at its destination! so now i can post this up... hehehe...

been meaning to make something for her for the longest time... in fact, i've attempted a few projects, but they all turned out either hideous or weird looking. so did not send them out. now at last, i'm able to put together a little box for her! so happy... and so glad she likes my crocheted hippo coaster! i purposely made this with auntyjo in mind, coz she loves all things purple!

other than the coaster, there's also a scented tea-light candle (not shown in the pic), a foldable shopping carrier for the environment-conscious woman, a handmade cambodian bookmark for the bookworm that she is, and a 'lil amigurumi snowman in a top hat (and a purple scarf! ok, not exactly purple. it's maroon, but close enough :P), in-line with the seasonal theme!

for a free pattern of the purple hippo, hop on over to my craft blog!

read also:

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

korean food review: da on fine korean cuisine

been meaning to post this up, but somehow or other, other things seem to get in the way. hahaha... ok, that's procrastination, i know! :P

anyway, i had to go to pavillion last 2 weeks to pick up something for a friend. as i went there quite late after work, i was scouting for something to eat when i saw this korean restaurant, da on fine korean cuisine, on the topmost floor. it looked like a high end restaurant, so i just browsed through their menu at their door to check out their price range. their kimchi jigeh is RM28 ++, same as klcc's koryo-won. feeling rather expensive that day, i walked right in and ordered a bowl of kimchi jigeh + rice and a glass of iced korean green tea.

the food was served pretty quick, but only 4 side dishes! for the kind of price they're charging, it won't hurt for them to serve a few more! as for taste, it's ok lar. not VERY fantastic. the stew was a tad too thin but at least there weren't any 3-layered pork in it (mainly coz i think it's a halal restaurant).

food presentation was nice, though...

overall, not a really fantastic meal. i've tasted better at a cheaper price. i guess most of the price went to the ambiance! would i go there again? not likely, unless i'm really craving for korean food and can't find any korean restaurant in that vicinity!

read also:
1) on a food hunt!
2) korean cravings...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

crocheted doggie coaster

these past few weeks, i've been industriously making gifts like a busy elf in santa's workshop for a few close friends. the first gift to be given out was a crocheted doggie coaster, to a colleague at the resort. this was originally meant to be a christmas present, but it ended up being a farewell gift! :(

the idea for this coaster came when i saw this on the net. so i thought i'd create some animal coasters of my own! and i'd like to share the patterns with everyone, for free!

since i'm beginning to write up some patterns of my own, i've created a separate blog specially for patterns, which will feature some free crochet patterns, as well as share some of the interesting patterns that i find on the web. sort of like giving back to the crafting community, after getting all those patterns off the net for free! hehehe... so everyone, here's the link: crocheted doggie coaster

you can also find the link to my craft blog at the sidebar. more patterns will be posted up in the coming days, so feel free to drop by once in a while to see what's new. and of course, feedbacks and comments are always welcome! ;)

Monday, 21 December 2009

zoo negara volunteer

participated in a volunteer program at our national zoo yesterday, organized by one of the facebook groups, M.O.B (my outdoor buddy). here's a copy of a letter i wrote to the organizer... enough said.

Dear xxx,

Thanks for organising the Volunteer Program with Zoo Negara yesterday. I feel that this is a good initiative on the part of Zoo Negara to come up with this program. But there are some issues that I'd like to highlight.

As per my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, the objective of this program is:
1) For the participants to gain some awareness and hands-on experience in the workings of our national zoo.
2) For the participants to get up close and personal to some of the animals and expose and enhance our understanding and knowledge to the characteristics of wild animals.
3) To offer assistance to the zoo keepers in carrying out their day-to-day zoo keeping activities.

In view of these objectives, my friend and I were not under the delusion that this will be a fun field trip to the zoo. We know it will involve a lot of dirty work, such as cleaning of animal excrement, sweeping up the animal compound, preparing animals' food etc. and we were fully prepared to get our hands dirty. We are also aware that we were not to be picky with the sections that we were posted to, because we are here to give our services to the animals. But think the program has failed miserably yesterday, at least in the Aviary Section that my friend and I were posted to.

Everything was fine in the morning, where we were sent to sweep the emus' compound. After the break, the few of us were asked to sweep the compound of a large kangaroo. But soon everyone in our group began to go into the compound to sweep the ground. It was then that one of the keepers standing outside the compound began pointing at us randomly and shouting rather rudely, "you, you, you, and the one in the yellow shirt! OUT!" At first I thought maybe there were too many of us in the compound and it will provoke the kangaroo to come after us, because the one of the keepers did caution us not to go too close to it. But when the 4 of us went out of the compound, we were brought to a small strip of land behind the birds' holding area that has a few trees and were told to sweep up the leaves there. We were puzzled, as that area was not for animals' use nor a walkway or anything.

We all felt that it was a pointless job, something like being told to take a broom into the jungle to sweep up the leaves there, or to sweep up the sand on the beach. We began to get the impression that we were being used to do all the 'dirty work' that is not related to zoo keeping, as well as just simply being given any work to do, just to get us out of the way! But we still went ahead to do it, despite feeling used for free labour on something totally pointless.

After lunch, we went back to the aviary, only to be told to sweep up the leaves of another part of the back area. Another totally pointless work!

At the final part of the program, after all of us were done sweeping, we were just sitting around waiting for further instructions from the keepers when we noticed 2 or 3 members of our group inside the kitchen with a keeper. It turned out one of the keepers were preparing the food for the birds. He did not call the rest of us into the kitchen, just left us sitting outside, and only entertained the questions from the 2 or 3 members who were in there. When we all went in to see what's going on, the keeper just kept on dishing out the various 'ingredients' onto the birds' food dish, ordering the volunteers standing nearest the shelf to hand him this container or that container. He did not bother to explain anything to us. It was only when a volunteer asked a question that he gave his answer, but his answers were all very vague and not very informative.

Overall, the impression my friend and I got from yesterday's program are:
1) The keepers themselves do not understand the objectives of the program, and take the volunteers as free labour
2) The keepers do not have a proper guidelines on what to do with the volunteers, so they just create whatever task they can think of to get us out of their hair
3) The keepers were very rude to the volunteers, as if we're a bunch of nuisance that they have to babysit for a whole day
4) Apart from sweeping the emu and kangaroo compound, all the other work we did were totally pointless. Even though we were dead tired by the end of the day, we feel that we have not really contributed anything to the welfare of the animals, which were our main objective in joining this program in the first place!
5) This program is more like "Program Menyapu Daun Di Zoo Negara", and we did not gain any knowledge about the animals, nor any hands on experience in terms of zoo keeping. Not educational AT ALL!

I'm sure these does not apply to the whole program, as I've heard of some good experiences from participants in other sections, as well as from your own accounts about the previous batch of participants in the Aviary Section. But after yesterday's experience, I'm still of two hearts as to whether I would join the next round of the program. And it would be very difficult for me to encourage any of my friends to take part. It seems like the experiences are not consistent and it all would have to depend on the moods and temperaments of the keepers in charge that day.

In closing, I sincerely hope that what we experienced yesterday was an isolated case. As I've mentioned, this is a really great initiative and I really hope to see this program reaching out to more members of the public for a very long time to come.

Once again, thanks for your effort!

Monday, 14 December 2009

of sentimental emotions...

was lending an ear to lotsachi last week, who was a bit down and wanted to rant her head off at the rather unfeelingly way a relative sold off her beloved piano back home. i was trying to be the rational one, telling her to stop being so sentimental. she's away from home and even if the piano wasn't sold off, she might not have the chance to lay a finger on it ever again anyway. so what's the point of just 'owning' it? might as well let the piano fulfill it's karma as a piano, and not end up as just another piece of furniture.

then lotsachi asked me, "have you ever felt this way about something?"

this made me stopped short. in fact, i had the very same experience. not that i had a piano sold off too, but the experience of having something i cherished being given away without my knowledge.

so here's the story... once upon a time, i was yearning for a barbie doll of my own (there, i said it! I WANTED A BARBIE DOLL WHEN I WAS YOUNG!). with a government servant for a dad, i wouldn't say we were poor. the recession did not affect us and we certainly had food on our table at every meal. but we weren't rich either. so even tho' we did not freeze from lack of clothes nor starve from lack of food, we did not really have any "extras" either and we certainly did not have the luxury of getting what we want.

and say what you will, but i believe every little girl will want at least a barbie doll of their own. and it's no help that nearly all the girls in my primary school class has them. imagine how one would feel always having to borrow her friend's "second best doll' during play dates.

so one year, with my birthday looming, cousin wayne who had just recently started earning a salary asked me what i would like, and i jumped at the opportunity! i want a barbie doll! i didn't know how much it cost (actually i still don't!), but as someone has volunteered to buy me something, why shouldn't it be something that i've longed for, right?

but when the date arrived, i was a tad disappointed when i saw a big box that can't possibly hold a barbie doll inside. upon opening it, i saw that cousin wayne had bought me the barbie doll's home furniture set! he explained that the dolls are very expensive and he thought the furniture is more value for money. (btw, cousin wayne is an accountant! go figures...)

so even though i still didn't have my own doll and still had to use other ppl's "second best doll", now i have the home furniture set! sometimes i can even negotiate for the use of the "best doll" with them. and i took really good care of them, keeping them nicely in the box. not a piece went missing the whole time i had them, even those small-small fruits for the fruits basket.

years later, after i've out-grown playing with dolls, i still kept it nicely in my cupboard. my parents were always suggesting that i give it away to my nieces, but i'd never hear of it. it's one of my prized possession and i guard it with my life!

then i left home to go to university. with no one to guard my stuff, my parents had free access to my room and the stuff in my cupboard. and so one day, while cousin lilian was visiting my parents with her toddler, dad just couldn't resist the cuteness of my niece penny. wanting to lure her into letting him carry her, dad took out my barbie furniture set and gave it to her!!! what the...???

when i confronted dad, he justified it by saying that i'm too old to be playing with such toys... it doesn't matter that niece penny was just a toddler and the toy is for 6 years and up. and imagine my horror when during a visit to cousin lilian's house, i saw pieces of my beloved barbie furniture set in a big basket of toys and shrewn all over niece penny's play room! it was all i could do to keep from screaming! and my parents just can't understand my anger... they thought i'm just acting so childishly over some little kid's toy!

well, looking back, it all seemed so childish now. and i might have given up the furniture set later on... but it'll be in my own time, when i'm ready to give it up. and to someone who'll treasure and cherish it as much as i did too. definitely NOT a toddler! yes, it's just a toy. but to me, it's more than that. it's a longing, a dream from my childhood.

hmmm... aren't we all creatures of sentimental emotions?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

an (in)significant year of peeling shallots and garlic...

it's funny how sometimes, the slightest thing will call forth the most insignificant of memories from the back of our heads in vivid clarity.

last weekend, while i was preparing my guacamole... more specifically, while i was peeling the shallots for my guacamole, i was suddenly brought back to the time when i learnt to peel shallot and garlic for the first time! yes, it's so insignificant, that i spent a few moments to marvel at the complex workings of the mind!

anyway, here's the story... once upon a time, when i was in form one, mom had this sudden urge to quit her job as an accounts clerk and partner up with my aunt to start their own economy rice business in a friend's kopitiam (coffee shop).

and i hated it! well, i have nothing against this undertaking in itself. what got to me was that the schedule of our whole family had to change to suit this new venture. suddenly, the whole family had to wake up early so that all of us can leave the house in one car and dad can first drop bro at his school, then drop mom at the kopitiam, and then drop me at my school before going to his own school (where he taught).

and after school, dad would pick up me and bro to the kopitiam, where we'll have our lunch. normally we won't have much pickings in the dishes by then, coz secondary school let out at 2.05pm and that, to normal people, is considered way past lunch time! but of course, sometimes mom do remembered that there's a certain dish or two that are our favourites and kept some aside for us. then after lunch, we'll just hang around there until mom finishes before going home together.

for a sleepyhead like me, having to wake up earlier than necessary really pissed me off. not only that, i had to put off my after-school nap until after 4pm! so most of the time, i'll just mope around in the kopitiam, sitting around and doing nothing.

no, it never occurred to me to take out my books and start working on my homework on the kopitiam table. a model student, aren't i? hehe... and i seldom take out the story books borrowed from the school library to read either, coz reading at that hour will only lull me to sleep faster than anything! feeling extremely sleepy but can't put my head down and shut my eyes is the ultimate recipe for crankiness!

so after a week or two, mom decided to put my idle hands to good use by thrusting a basketful of garlic and a small knife at me with the direct order of "PEEL!" that, ladies and gentlemen, was how i learnt to peel garlic for the very first time in my entire life! the next day, it was a basketful of shallots. and god, how i hated it! the dull, repetitive and unimaginative act of never ending peeling! and more than the act of peeling, i hated the stubborn smell that lingered on my hands that just refused to go away, however much i scrubbed!

as for bro and dad, they were tasked to cut the plastic sheets and newspapers, and fold them nicely for when customers 'ta-pao' (pack to go). no, we didn't use polystyrene or plastic boxes back then.

anyway, mom's economy rice business lasted only 1 year, because the returns were similar to what mom was earning while sitting in a comfortable air-conditioned office. and no one was happier than yours truly! not only for myself, but for my whole family generally and mom specifically.

after starting this business, mom was busier than ever! not only did she need to wake up earlier, but after business hours, she'll need to prepare the ingredients for the next day. and there're no rest on off days too, coz off days were market days. then there's the headache of thinking and planning the dishes to cook for the week... so tiring! so when mom's ex-boss and colleagues came for lunch one day and casually mentioned that they had not found anyone to take mom's place and wished that mom would go back to her previous post, mom jumped at it.

and thus, ended my happy days (not!) as the garlic and shallot peeler! :)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

on an overdose of avocados!

last week, i was at the pasar malam (night market) getting dinner when i came across this vendor selling avocados at a steal! 20 avos for Rm5!!! crazy or what?

i straight away bought RM5's worth... it was only after i've arrived home that i stopped to think, "what do i do with 20 avos???" then i vaguely remembered eating tortillas with a kind of green avocado dip but for the life of me couldn't remember what it's called.

so i posted this up on my facebook status: "juz bought a big basketful of avocados at a steal and is wondering what to do with them! any idea anyone?" a mere ten minutes later, taty, a fellow bookcrosser, told me to make guacamole with it. guacamole! that's the word i was looking for! don't you just love facebook? hehe...

anyway, took me a few days to get all the ingredients. in the meantime, i ate a few by itself (just scooped out the creamy flesh with a spoon) and gave a few away to my colleagues in the office. even then, i was left with quite a bagful and was on a tortillas and guacamole diet the entire weekend and yesterday! 5 meals in total!

a healthy, creamy and fatty (natural avocado fat, which is
wholesome!) concoction. don't think the salty tortillas is so healthy, tho'.

anyway, i found out that there are many versions of guacamole, but here's mine.

- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 tomato
- 1 or 2 cloves of shallots
- half a lemon
- chili flakes (from dominos!)
- oregano
- salt

- remove seeds from tomato, and dice it up
- chop up shallots
- cut open avocados, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh with a spoon (see here for a cool way to do it)
- mash up the avocados slightly in a glass/ceramic bowl (not metal, coz we'll be using lime juice and a metal bowl will react to the acid)
- add in tomatoes and shallots, mix everything up, keep mashing
- shake in some oregano, chili flakes and salt, mash some more
- squeeze in lemon and stir everything together
- serve with tortillas

originally i had wanted to put in some cilantro and garlic... but can't find cilantro in cold storage that day and forgot abt the garlic! hehe... still, it was yummy! ;)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

on a food hunt!

one fine day after work, i was just thinking about what to do about dinner and feeling so sick with all my regular food hunts... when suddenly i remembered x telling me that my phone's navigator has a list of places to go that were recommendations by users themselves. so feeling a tad adventurous, i whipped out my phone, switched on garmin...

asked the phone where should i go...

asked what were my options...

told it that i'm hungry...

it asked me what kinda food i have in my mind...

after browsing thru the choices it offered me, i came to
the first korean restaurant in the list (out of only 2!)

ok, let's go and see how good is the recommendation!

seoul korea restaurant is in tmn desa... with some help from the disembodied lady voice from my phone, i found the place easy enough, tho' looking for a parking lot is really a bitch! but in the end, i managed to squeeze into a spot so tight that if i were to be driving a new car, i wouldn't even think to attempt it.

anyway, remember i used to be so obsess with bibeembab? well, i'm so over that... now, kimchi jigeh rocks big time man!! hehe... so after just a quick glance at the menu, that's what i ordered...

i can barely contain my delight when i was served 12 side dishes! yes, 12!!!
this is by far the restaurant that served the most side dishes that i've been to...

here are some of the side dishes that i'm tasting for the first time...

cucumbers fried in eggs... not a big fan of cucumbers, but i still tried it. it's ok lar...

beef! tasted like canned meat... only had one piece, coz i don't really eat beef...

some sort of meatball... beef again.
had to force myself to finish up the piece that i bit into

braised egg...

jellyfish cucumber salad... this is yummy!

the kimchi jigeh itself... well, i'm sorry to note that they served it with pork! argh!!! those 3 layered fat kinda pork some more! *screams and runs for cover* and the taste, other than the can't-be-ignored pork taste, it's kinda bland compared to the one served by the korean restaurant near my office that i always go for my korean lunch fix. ah well, we can't have everything, right?

these side dishes, i've tried before, but they were so delish that i just had to take a pic of it... i'm salivating now just looking at it! :P

fried anchovies in some kind of thick chilli sauce...

marinated oyster mushroom slices...

marinated seaweed...

well, even with the can't-be-ignored pork taste, i still enjoyed the meal imensely. i was so full in the end that i did not finish everything. what a shame to see all those good food go to waste! made a mental note to bring along someone to share next time... and not to order their full-of-pork kimchi jigeh!

after i've asked for the bill, not only did they serve me the usual
2 slices of watermellon, but also this ginger-barley and a korean mellon sweet!

and the bill? it's not expensive at all. only RM16.50 in total... cheap or wat? and imagine me paying RM28++ for the same thing (in a smaller pot and with only half the side dishes!) in klcc!

after dinner, i remembered there's a 100 yen shop in that area... so based on just my doggie sense of direction (no need navigation for this lar!) i traipse over and found the shop around the corner.

among the other stuff i bought, here's something i got for N.

with her recent interest in crochet, thought this will come in handy

read also:
1) korean cravings...