Sunday, October 4, 2015

AIRpocalypse When?

I woke up this morning with a bad headache, burning eyes and a sore throat - all the symptoms of breathing in bad air.

Once again, for the umpteenth year, we are engulfed by the dreaded annual haze. Schools closed for the second time this year as the API (Air Pollution Index) surpassed 200, meaning very hazardous and unhealthy air quality.

Acrid smoke billowing from agricultural fires in Indonesia is the cause of this perennial nightmare. On Saturday, as the haze worsened, an airport just outside Kuala Lumpur closed temporarily as visibility dropped to less than 400 metres. The condition is also risky to sea vessels without navigational equipment.

The haze crisis,  the worst since mid-2013 continues to choke us year after year during the dry season, when agricultural land is illegally cleared by burning in neighbouring country Indonesia.
School children donning masks against a hazy backdrop

image credit  - FreeMalaysiaToday
Image credit - Lim Huey Teng
We are told that Indonesia needs 3 years to solve the problem. Meanwhile, do we have to  hold our breath until then even if it is causing health hazards to many whilst incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses? If this goes on, people and animals would start dropping dead one by one like flies.

This week's cookies for Halloween

Monday, September 28, 2015


Bloggy buddy Betty @ is a big fan of corgis. She lost her beloved corgi, Koda, to cancer nine months ago, Koda had been blind for some time before he passed on. Betty sees another corgi in the future and I pray that the perfect one will come into this sweet lady's heart soon.

Cookiefying my corgi love .....

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Of Bats And Haunted Mansions

Bats are creepy! I haven't seen one in a long time but I can still recall being spooked by them when  I was little.
Way back in the 60s, when Mom was promoted to Head Nurse , she  was transferred to another state where she was accommodated in a supposedly haunted house. It was an old bungalow that was built during the colonial period. Dad would take us on a long road trip in his green Austin sedan to visit Mom during the weekends and school holidays. I remember looking forward to those visits as the mansion had an exciting vibe to it with its many rooms to explore, a huge compound with lots of trees and bathrooms that had bath tubs! In those days, bath tubs were a rarity as they could only be found mostly in the homes of British expatriates that were built during the colonial days and I suppose, rich people who had lived overseas before. Bath times were fun!

The mansion kinda looked  like this.
image credit - Alan Kong
At night, the mansion took on a different atmosphere. Dim lighting, creaky floorboards, cobwebs, the sound of crickets and flying bats made the place really spooky. Imagine sleeping with bats circling the ceiling right above you! It was really unnerving! Although there were many rooms, my sisters and I would huddle together in a huge four-poster bed in the room closest to where my parents were sleeping.
Once, when there was a power outage, the eerie flickering shadows in the candle light coupled with the presence of bats freaked us out big time!
It wasn't until many years later that Mom told us the place was supposedly haunted. One of the nurses who used to live there hung herself when she was jilted by her lover. According to Mom, other nurses who had also stayed in the bungalow before her claimed they had seen a floating white figure and heard weird noises like the sounds of footsteps and someone sobbing in the night!

Looking back, Mom was really brave to live in a place like that all by herself! She confessed to being scared at times but her firm Catholic faith and dedication to her vocation gave her the strength and courage to live in that bungalow until she was transferred back to our hometown several years later.

Monday, September 14, 2015

In Memory Of Grace

Grace, blogger pally Lin's beloved cat of 18 years, passed on Sunday. Although I've never met Lin @ nor Grace, I feel like a part of me is gone too. Lin and I have been bloggy buddies since 2008 and I had enjoyed reading about Grace and learning about her through Lin's blog.

I am hopeless with words and I shall express my emotions in the only way I know how - through my cookies.

This one's for you, Grace!

Rest In Peace.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Of Lightning And Roasted Ducks.

image credit - Nick Chan
Josh often regales us with stories of the ducks and geese that live in his campus. Lately, one of the ducks has been missing and there are many theories surrounding its disappearance. Word has it that it has been struck by lightning.There's also a rumour going round that students from the School of Culinary may have something to do with its disappearance. Apparently, roast duck was on their menu the day the duck vanished!
image credit - Nick Chan
There used to be 4 ducks. Now there are only three!
image credit - Dila Ariff
image credit - Nick Chan
These very friendly birds are the stars of the campus and Josh is their biggest fan . They are everywhere!

Can you spot the duck?

We hope the MIA duck will turn up soon. On the bright side, one of the geese had laid eggs and hopefully there will be new  additions to the gaggle.

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's A Girl!

Most days, I dread reading the newspaper. Yet when I don't, I feel incomplete as if I have missed out on an indispensable part of my every day life. News that often hog the front page are always so depressing - plane crashes, terrorism, earthquakes, our sliding Ringgit and other horrible things.

And it's not everyday that you get to read about happy stuff like the births of pandas instead of my daily dose of dread. First it was giant panda Liang Liang and now Mei Xiang!

Liang Liang who is on loan from China to Malaysia's Zoo Negara, gave birth to a cub last Tuesday (18th August). Initially, there were concerns that Liang Liang and  her mate Xing Xing, were not hitting it off. Well, looks like they have overcome their intimacy issues.

It's a girl!
image credit -  The Star Malaysia

Let's toast to the first panda cub born on Malaysian soil! And to Mei Xiang too, for her twins who were born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C on Saturday night!

Panda Cookies

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wordish Wednesday

Oreo, our guinea pig is five years old this year. Old for a guinea pig but she sure doesn't look it!

Isn't she the cutest thing ever?
According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest guinea pig known was 14 years and 10.5 months old and was named Snowball. The average life expectancy of guinea pigs is about 4 to 7 years. We pray and hope Oreo will outlive Snowball.

This week's cookies

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Legend Of Chang-E

If, on a full moon night, you happen to see the silhouette of a lady clutching a big rabbit in the moon, you would be seeing Chang-E (嫦娥), the Chinese moon goddess. Like all legends, there are many different versions of the story of the moon lady.
Mid-autumn Festival is one of the three most important festivals in China (the other two are the Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat Festival. There are many interesting stories explaining the origin of the festival and the legend of Change-E is just one of the many.

The following tale is my favourite as told by my grandma.

The Jade Emperor, ruler of Heaven, had ten unruly sons. One day, they transformed themselves into ten suns, heartlessly scorching the earth from high up in the heavens. Unable to stop their mischief, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi, an archer renowned for his marksmanship. The emperor commanded the immortal to teach his sons a lesson.

Houyi descended to Earth and saw its suffering with his own eyes. Everything was charred and lifeless, and the people were in agony. Filled with righteous indignation, he acted. Plucking an arrow from his satchel, he took aim at the suns. First one fell down, then another. In the end, nine of the Jade Emperor’s sons were dead. Houyi left only one sun alive, to give the earth light and warmth.

Upon hearing the news, the Jade Emperor was furious. He banished Houyi and his beautiful wife Chang’e from Heaven, stripping them of their immortality. They were now forced to live on Earth as ordinary mortals.

The pair found human life hard and miserable. Though a hero to mankind, Houyi had a single wish: to avoid the death that awaited all mortals and return to heaven with his beloved wife. She, at least, did not deserve to suffer.

Fortunately, Houyi recalled that the immortal Queen Mother of the West, who lived on Earth, had a rare supply of the elixir of immortality. The hopeful archer left on an arduous journey to seek her aid.

After countless difficulties, he finally reached her palace on sacred Mount Kunlun. Learning of their plight, the merciful Queen Mother gave Houyi two things. One was the elixir; the other was a warning.

“Drinking half the elixir will grant everlasting life. The entire elixir, however, will make one ascend to heaven as a full-fledged immortal.”

Half for himself; half for his wife. It was all Houyi could have hoped for.

When Houyi reunited with Chang’e, she was thrilled over his success. Yet while her husband was resting from his journey, she could not resist peeking at the elixir he brought back. Her eagerness to become immortal tempted her into drinking the entire potion. Before long, she felt her limbs grow weightless, and she began to float into the sky against her will.

As a banished deity, she could no longer return to heaven. Earth was now beyond her grasp as well. With nowhere else to go, Chang’e drifted to the desolate Moon, where she spent the rest of her days in a lonely palace accompanied by a white rabbit who lives in the moon. She wept bitterly for her husband Houyi, who was condemned to live the rest of his days on Earth as a mortal.

source -  Shen Yun Performing Arts

Here's a video of another retelling of the folklore to share.
You may want to turn up those speakers. The music is  hauntingly beautiful!

Interestingly, did you know Chang'e was mentioned in a conversation between Houston Capcom and the Apollo 11 crew just before the first Moon landing in 1969?

Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, is one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-O has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.
Michael Collins: Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Of Birth and Death

As I was decorating these baby shower cookies for hubby's co-worker, I was thinking of the irony of life. While we're celebrating the life of a newborn, somewhere out there, someone is mourning the death of a loved one.
Just yesterday, Josh came home from college, shaken and traumatized. A college student fell to his death just a little distance from him. Josh and his buddies were feeding the ducks at the campus lakeside when they heard a loud thud. At first, they thought the sound came from the construction site nearby but upon scanning the area, they saw a body sprawled on the ground several feet from where they were standing. Their first thoughts were the victim had collapsed from heat stroke which is a common occurrence in our very hot climate but as they approached the body, it was evident that the victim had fallen from a great height. The campus' auxiliary policeman was alerted and the victim was confirmed dead. Later, college officials revealed the case was suicide.

What drove him to such a desperate measure?  Did the pain of his existence become so unbearable, there was no way out but to end his young life? Wasn't there anyone who could have made a difference? I was told that suicide survivors instantly regret their decision the second they jump. Though Josh didn't know the student, he was deeply affected by his death and wished he could have done something to prevent the tragedy. I am still reeling from the incident.

My heart breaks for his family  and I grieve for his mother. No parent should ever have to deal with this. I can't begin to imagine the pain they are going through. I want to pray for his soul and for God to give the people he had left behind the strength to brave through their sorrow. I want to hold my sons a little closer every night and remind them no matter how hopeless the situation may seem, suicide is NEVER the answer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Indian Wedding

The bride for whom I made these cookies was a flower girl at my wedding 23 years ago! Time does fly!

Did you know that a traditional Indian wedding lasts an average of three days!!!??  On the first night, a priest will perform the ganesh pooja, a ceremony that usually happens at home with only the couple, the bridal party, and close relatives in attendance.

The second day begins with a mehndi ceremony. For this, the bride and her female friends and family members will have intricate henna patterns drawn on their hands and feet. That evening, the sangeet takes place. Every wedding guest is usually invited, and it involves an introduction of the couple's families, mingling, a meal, and dances or other performances.
A mehndi party
On the third day, the main ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception take place. You may be invited to the last day of the events, or to any part of the three-day celebration. Your invitation should clearly state what you're being asked to attend.

Expect to see the groom arriving to the wedding ceremony on a decorated white horse! Over here where a white horse is nearly impossible to find, the groom makes his entrance in a fancy car instead. Guests dance around him to the beat of the dhol, an Indian drum. After that, the bride and her family greet the groom, and the couple exchanges floral garlands to wear around their necks to symbolize their acceptance of each other.

image credit -
During the ceremony, the priest, groom, bride, and bride's parents sit beneath a mandap, a canopy similar to a Jewish huppah. The ceremony starts off with the kanya daan, in which the bride's parents give away the bride. Then the couple joins hands and circles around a small, enclosed fire (the agni) in a ritual called the mangal phera.

The couple will next take the saptapadi, a seven-step ritual where each step corresponds to a vow the groom makes to the bride, and a vow the bride makes to the groom. Saptapadi is performed near a fire, which has religious significance. After each of the seven oaths to each other, the groom and bride  walk around the fire with part of each other’s clothing tied to each other.
Finally, the groom will apply a red powder to the center of the bride's forehead and tie a black beaded necklace around her neck, proclaiming that she's now a married woman.
image credit -
source -

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Have you seen the following image of  the giant rat that went viral on social media a couple of months ago? The photograph was taken at a rat catching campaign that was organised in a suburb not too far from where we live. My first thoughts were......OMG! It must be the genetically modified foods our rats have been feeding on and they mutated! Either that or our city has beome so filthy, it has pretty much become rat heaven and our rodent friends have gotten big and fat from all that partying and feasting!
Turned out, Ratzilla was just a regular sized rat and the image was either photoshopped or captured by the photographer at an angle that made it look ginormous. Apparently, a Facebook user has uploaded  the image to make a point - that the standard of cleanliness in the precinct was sub par and a breeding ground for rodents and other pests. In defense, an image was later uploaded by a spokesperson of the municipality showing the actual size of the purported rodent at a different angle. Phew! However, residents are still claiming to have seen rats the size of cats in the area!

A huge rat, nonetheless!
A scene from the movie Ratatouille
I was going to make Remy (the would-be-chef from Ratatouille) cookies but I just couldn't get the image of Ratzilla out of my head. While I have no qualms about cute talking rats who wear chef hats and know how to prepare five course meals, Ratzilla isn't that  kind of rat I want  invading my lovely neck of the woods.  Thank God, I live in a condo and the only rodent you find in our home is our big fat guinea pig!

I don't mind these invading my neighbourhood though!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blog Break

On a blogging break for the next while. Back soon.

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