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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mermaid Tales

Back in 2009, rumours of a mermaid that was washed ashore on a Malaysian island spread like wildfire across the nation. There was even a short video clip of the mermaid lying dead on a beach.

Be warned that the mermaid in the following video doesn't look quite like Ariel. You may find the image disturbing.

Turned out, the purported mermaid was a sculpture by artist Juan Cabana. Quite frankly, I was a little disappointed. I had wanted to believe that mermaids were real and one was discovered at long last.

And why not? The existence of merpeople  really is quite plausible for 2 reasons.

1.  Mermaid tales have existed across all cultures since time immemorial, long before the different cultures interacted with one another. Paintings, poems and sculptures of these amphibious maidens sometimes found in Indian temples are evident that such creatures are more than just a figment of the imagination.
Growing up, my first mermaid tale was the one Grandma used to tell before tucking us to bed. According to Chinese mythology, sailors loved to trap mermaids to sniff out their tails. Simple minded though beautiful, they were easy to snare. Their tails were naturally purple and smelled of happiness but would turn to red and smell of sadness when they were unhappy. Mermaids in Chinese literally translates as 'beautiful human fish'.

2.The ocean covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contains 97 percent of the planet's water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored. Who really knows what's down there in those bottomless mid-ocean trenches? After all, two new whale species were discovered only in recent years.

If mermaids were real, I believe they aren't the alluring beautiful creatures we grew up imagining and would probably look more like monsters than Ariel. Baby boomers, remember the black and white photograph of a 'reverse mermaid' that made quite a splash circa 1973? I was in fifth grade when a classmate brought the picture to school. The creature in the photo had a fish’s head and the hips and legs of a fully-developed woman. For a very long time, I never knew for sure if the mysterious entity was fake. It did look kinda fishy! It was only until recently that I googled and learned the reverse mermaid was indeed a hoax that originated in or around Yemen during the early 1970s.  The story behind the hoax until today is still undisclosed.
image credit - http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2011/03/rene-magritte-and-reverse-mermaid-very.html
I believe or rather I choose to believe that mermaids along with dragons, unicorns, werewolves, vampires, fairies.... exist simply because they represent the unknown, the mystical, the supernatural. Maybe they are not what we have in mind but they are definitely out there, elusive, lurking in the twilight place between land and sea.

What about you? Do you think mermaids are real?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Snail Slime

Lately, my odd sleeping hours, bad eating habits and sun damage caused by my disregard for sunscreens (they make my eyes itchy) are showing on my face. A friend who has skin to die for revealed that her secret is snail slime.

Would I put snail slime on my face  in the name of beauty?
My initial reaction was HECK NO! I'd rather die ugly than putting slug mucous on my face! Eeeewwww!

But I so desperately want to slow down the ageing process to a snail's pace. Well, desperate needs call for desperate measures! After overcoming the initial cringe factor, I googled for more info. Looks like snail creams have indeed been crawling into the beauty world. Katy Holmes swears by it!

After much thought, I've decided to give it a go. It can't be any worse that the last gross product I used. It contained avian collagen derived from the connective tissues from chickens. Long story but I have a strong aversion to chickens. I don't even eat them!

Anyway, as I was saying, the snail slime used in the face creams is mixed with other ingredients to mask its smell. Besides, no snails are harmed in the process.

I did it! I bought myself a jar of snail cream from a shop that sells Korean face products. The cream smells and feels just like any ordinary moisturizers. I have used ones that smelled worse. This even costs less than my regular face cream.

Keeping my fingers crossed and  hoping for a miracle....

Have you tried a snail cream before? Would you? What other gross products have you tried?
When I gave these snail cookies to a little neighbour boy, the first thing he asked was, "I think you got it wrong. Aren't a snail's eyes on its tentacles?"  LOL!

Just a thought -  Would I brave a snail facial next?  I was told that snails tend to perch on top of your nose as they love to climb. A faceless slug eyeballing me with its tentacles? Uuuuugggghhhh!

Therapeutic? I think not!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Aunty M

A couple of days ago, Josh asked me if I could help him write a letter to an old lady who's dying of cancer. His classmate, C, is trying to get as many people as possible to write to Aunty M, an inmate in a nursing home who is facing her final days alone. Her family has abandoned her. C visits her everyday.

I'm not one who's good with words so I suggested giving Aunty M a cookie with a short message.

Here's what Rodney wrote.

Dear Aunty M,

Hope this cookie will brighten your day. :)

Your new friend,
Rodney

Rodney came home from school today with the following reply from Aunty M. The letter was written in Chinese but neither one of us can read Chinese so we got a neighbour to translate for us .

Dear Rodney,

Thank you for the lovely cookie. How sweet of you!  I am so touched by the kindness you have shown even though you hardly know me. You certainly have made my day!

I will pray for you always.

God Bless!

Love
Aunty M
What a sweet lady!  We plan to visit her but C says Aunty M does not wish to see anyone at the moment so for now, Rodney and his classmates will just send her little messages and gifts to light up her remaining days.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

With Mother's Day just around the corner, I am thinking of my 91 year-old mom. I've always been my mom's favourite child and she is the queen of my heart.
Born in the 1920s, Mom was very different from the very traditional Asian mothers of  her time. While most women of that era were housewives who couldn't drive  and were illiterate, Mom was a nurse, had her own car and English educated. I remember beaming with pride whenever she drove me to school. And she was quite the dancer too. She could waltz and tango. She really rocked the Foxtrot! Me? I have two left feet!
Although considered very untraditional, Mom was and still is very Asian in her ways. And like many Asian families, big hugs and praises were not openly displayed and given in our family when we were growing up.

I recall the time when my cousin was leaving for college in Australia. At the airport. her conservative mom just gave her a mere handshake and wished her the best! No hugs. No kisses. Isn't that sad?

My boys, on the other hand, are complaining that I am overly demonstrative and are constantly embarrassed by my generous hugs! Such an outward display of affection is met with disapproval by my mom-in-law. "You should always love your kids from the inside or they will grow up spoiled", she reminds me every now and then.

I may be open with my boys but my sisters and I are still challenged by the awkward PDE (public display of emotion) policy with my parents.  With my parents' days numbered, I am hugging them more but still find it very uncomfortable and awkward especially with my dad.

Here's a very uplifting video on things Asian parents say/do in place of "I love you".
Ha! Like most Asians, we are very proficient in reading cryptic gestures like  mom picking the last piece of meat with her chopsticks and putting in on your plate at dinner. Or Dad staying up until the wee hours of the morning until he heard the sound of the key turning in the door, assured that you were safely home from a party before he silently went to bed. It meant "I love you"!



As blogger Cindy writes, “Chinese families know how to love fiercely. They do it through immense generosity, unwavering loyalty, and a lot of food. We love differently, not better, not worse, but definitely different.”
Happy Mother's Day, Pallies!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bake Sale

Rodney's school held a bake sale recently. Every class, society and club was required to set up a stall.
Rodney and his classmates baked emoji sugar cookies. He asked me to give their stall a boost with my decorated cookies. As it was a last minute request, I could only come up with 9 pieces. Can you spot my teddy cookies on the cupcake stand? They were sold out pretty fast!


The Science and Math Club
The  Art Club
The Japanese Language Club. Their stall raised the most money.
Rodney clowning around as he peddles the cookies
All proceeds from the sale went to their school's building fund.

This week's cookies for Mother's Day.
Forever Friends Bears

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Deng Deng

Hankering for paratha (Indian flatbread), the hubs and I hopped into a restaurant called The Paratha Kitchen. Funny, but there was no paratha on the menu!  A man who was seated next to our table complained loudly, "It's like going to a cafe named The Apple Pie that doesn't serve apple pies". Yup, I couldn't agree more.

Anyway, I ordered something unfamiliar called Beef Deng Deng.
Beef Deng Deng
Turned out, the beef was scrummy. The meat had a melt-in-the-mouth texture with just the right hint of spices in it. I learned from the waiter that Beef Deng Deng Balado is an Indonesian dish from Padang, West Sumatra.

According to Wikipedia:
Dendeng refers to thinly sliced dried meat in Indonesian cuisine. It is preserved through a mixture of sugar and spices, sun-dried, then deep-fried and simmered in a spicy sauce. It is similar to jerky. Dendeng was originally founded by the Minangkabau people. At first they made Dendeng from beef, drying it so it could be eaten for days and bringing it with them when they traveled. Balado is the sambal, a sauce made from  a mixture of cooked large bananas, red chili peppers and shallots and seasoned with salt.

Deng deng!  I thought it rang a bell !

This week's cookies

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Love-hate The Internet

I was just reading an article about the author's love-hate feelings about the internet. I share her ambivalence.
I love that the internet has connected me to so many wonderful people all over the world especially bloggy pallies and fellow cookiers. Without it, our paths would never have crossed! Used to be, "friends" were people we actually knew and saw  face-to-face and people, had, at most, a few dozen.
While I love my online friends, I kinda miss my 'real' friends who have morphed into virtual buddies. The internet has turned them into recluses.

Back in my days, "news" was something you found out about the day after it had happened, in a newspaper. When I wanted to check a fact, I had to hop into a library and hopefully find a book that might have the answer. If I wanted to research a country I was visiting, I had to buy a guidebook. If I wanted the lyrics to a song, I had to rewind the tape and play the song over and over again. Remember the song "Love in the first degree" by Bananarama? I  used to think the words were "guilty, guilty as a bumble bee" when the actual lyrics are "guilty as a girl could be"! LOL!

Like everything else in life, the internet has a dark side. I hate that it has turned people into voyeurs, exhibitionists and narcissists. It has unleashed unlimited freedom and power for haters, trolls, bullies, bigots, extremists ...  who delight in spewing evil, venom and hate as these cowards find it easier to say things like that behind the anonymity of a computer.

Had it not been for youtube and cookie forums, I could NEVER, EVER have been able to make these cookies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Stained Glass Cookies

I wanted the stained glass effect but these turned out more like mosaic.
As fellow cookier Laegwen kindly puts it - An artist does everything on purpose!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Battle Of The Messy Room

My teen son's room!


Are your kids as messy as my son? Do you just give in or do you have firm rules about how they keep their rooms?


This week's cookies

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It Is Written!

Oftentimes, when life gets rough, I need God's Word to keep me going. I know the best place to turn to is the Bible but I am clueless where to look.
Remember bloggy pally Sandra Kovacs Stein, author of Sincerely Wrong: An Improbable Journey? She has blessed me with an invaluable resource. Her new book It Is Written! helps point me to passages I don't know when I need them most.


In her preface to "It Is Written!", Sandra writes, "When I first discovered that my Bible was alive with promises and that it contained a roadmap, so to speak, of the path to follow and pitfalls to avoid if I wanted to experience the very best God had for me, I did something I never thought I would ever do to a book, I wrote in it. I underlined verses, put hearts and asterisks beside promises, and added little TPs (tried and proven) next to the ones I saw manifest in my life."

"My memory, however, does not always serve me well - especially when challenging circumstances test my faith. To help me through these difficult times, I started copying Scriptures into a little tabbed notebook, grouping them according to my various concerns. Now, when fear or depression threaten to overwhelm me, I can't think straight, or my mind goes suddenly blank, the tabbed sections make it easy to find what God's Word has to say about an issue, and I am reminded of what is truth and what isn't."

"This book is an expanded version of my little notebook. I encourage you to personalize it by filling the blank sheets and verses and categories of your own. May it bless and encourage you, and help you live a life of victory in Jesus, instead of as a victim of your circumstances."

Sandra's
Blog - At The  Foot Of The Cross
Books - http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005FNEBH0

Note: This is not a review, just a shout-out for a gift Sandra has blessed me with.

Thanks, Sandra!


Cookies I made this week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Daylight

Over here on our side of the pond, we get an average of 12 daylight hours all year round. The sun always comes out at about 7:00 AM and it gets dark only after 7:00 PM. I have lived with this comforting certainty all my life and can't imagine otherwise.

I am thinking of a very silly incident that happened when I was in Los Angeles umpteenth years ago.

It was winter and my first time away in a foreign country. I was travelling with a group of Malaysians and Singaporeans on a conducted tour. The group comprised mostly honeymoon couples and a mother and daughter pair. I was solo.

After a sleepless 18 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, I just had to crash into bed as soon as we arrived in LA and checked into a hotel. Earlier, we had been briefed by the tour leader to assemble at the hotel lobby at 6:00 PM with our luggage as we were leaving for San Diego. It was about noon when I hopped into bed.

I woke up to find the room in total darkness. In my mind, it meant only one thing-
Darkness = after 7:00 PM! 
It also meant that I had overslept and the group had left without me! I panicked big time. In those days, there were no cellphones or internet. In blind panic, I made a collect call to my parents in Malaysia. Looking back, that was a really stupid thing to do. My poor parents! They were worried sick! Long story short, Dad contacted the tour agency in Malaysia and they managed to contact our tour leader.

There was a knock on my door. Guess who? It was the tour leader who happened to be sleeping in the room next to mine. He didn't look amused having been just woken up from his slumber. Glancing at his watch, he said sarcastically, "It's only 5:00 PM and the coach isn't arriving until 6:30 PM. What is the problem?" "But it's already dark outside! I thought it was way past 7:00", I replied sheepishly. He glared at me like I was the stupidest person on the planet. "It's winter. It gets dark after 5:00 and now if you don't mind, I have to catch up with whatever sleep I had missed. I will be up all night to make bookings for accomodation and restaurants for the rest of our tour. Good Day!"

Dang! Why didn't anyone tell me it gets dark early in the winter?

And yes, I did scare the daylights out of my parents. My dad stayed up all night to say the 9 hourly St Jude's Prayer when he got that desperate call from me. St. Jude is the helper and keeper of the hopeless.


Happy Spring, pallies!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A proud mommy moment

I have some good news to share. My son, Josh, clinched 9As and 1B in the recent SPM examination. He sat for 10 papers. The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by all fifth-year secondary school students in Malaysia, equivalent to eleventh grade in American's K–12 (education). As his scholarship at the university he is currently attending was awarded based on the results of a pilot exam he sat for earlier before the actual exam, he is now entitled to a further upgrade to the scholarship which commensurates with the actual number of As a student achieves.

Well Done, son!
Josh at a laboratory session
Upon Josh's request, I made these cookies as tokens of appreciation for the teachers from his secondary school for their hard work and dedication in tutoring and mentoring him.

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