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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Knitting

I was clearing out a closet when I found a box containing several skeins of yarn and a work-in-progress sweater - a project I had abandoned when my eldest son was born. Back in those days before my boys came along, I knitted quite a bit.

 I took out the sweater from the box and thought I could just pick up where I left off.

I gave up after knitting just  a few rows. God knows how many stitches I had dropped!  All that concentration and counting was making my head spin! And I itched each time the mohair sweater came into contact with my skin. Seriously, knitting in the tropics where the temps are in the 90's is crazy! How the hell did I do it in those days!??!!

I am so done with knitting!

Ha! Then I found Sonja's video on YouTube.


Who needs yarn when you have royal icing!

Showing off my 'knit' projects!



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

I HATE reCaptcha!

Grrrrrr!  I can't believe I've wasted 15 minutes of my life clicking on the i-am-not-a-robot captcha, just to leave a comment on one of my favourite blogs.


Examples of images with annoying street signs, traffic lights, vehicles, etc that are endless and impossible to solve.
I didn't get it right.
Failed again!
Nope, unsuccessful. Seriously?
Oh, come on!
Failed again ??? 


What???? How/Why is this wrong?  Now I am seriously pissed!

I hope my blog isn't giving you the same problem!  If it is, I have no control over it. Blame Google!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Turkey Day 2018


I made this turkey cookie  for Josh's university buddy who's an exchange student from America. He was feeling a little homesick and the cookie did cheer him up a little!

Hope you'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Dot Painting

A friend of mine introduced me to dot painting recently. Making a  mandala out of dots is extremely fun and therapeutic. It really helps you to relax the mind and soul.

I thought it would be fun to try out the technique on my cookies.

Warning!  All that dotting really is addictive and I'm now seriously dotty about this art form!


Dotting the cookies was wonderfully cathartic.

It's probably easier to work with acrylic paints and dotting tools. With icing, it's hard to 'paint' uniform dots. The beauty of a dot mandala lies in the uniformly sized and perfectly aligned dots that form the fractals. I can't even get my dots to be perfectly round! Hence the haphazard, kindergarten-ish look of my cookies!

"The mandala is a template for the mind, a state of peace and order, a resolution to the chaos within."    Carl Jung

A dot mandala tutorial by my favourite artist Kristin Uhrig. Isn't she amazing!



Watching Kristin's tutorials is incredibly soothing!

Go put on some relaxing music, pour yourself a glass of wine and let your creative juices flow!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kolam 2018

November is that time of the year when colorful *kolams pop up everywhere as Hindus the world over celebrate *Deepavali aka Diwali.

Sharing photos of this year's kolams I've captured at several malls in my neck of the woods.



Starbucks kolam!!


* Deepavali/Diwali also known as the Festival of Lights is celebrated by the Hindu Community to symbolize the triumph of good over evil; the victory of light over dark.

The entrances to Hindu homes are decorated with fresh mango leaves and kolams. It is believed that Lakshmi, The Goddess of Wealth, will only enter a home that is adorned with a kolam.

* Kolam is an ancient Indian art of drawing using colored rice grains or powdered rice to form symmetrical geometric patterns on the floor. The Hindus believe that a kolam at the entrance of a house will usher prosperity and harmony to the home. It is also believed that a kolam wards off evil spirits and diseases.

Another purpose of the kolam is to invite birds and small insects like ants to a home to symbolize man’s co-existence with and consideration for other living things.

Traditionally, the ritual is performed daily by the women of a household early in the morning.

 Fun Kolam Facts

1. The lines in a kolam must be continuous and unbroken so that evil cannot enter the house via the gaps.

2. The patterns are traditionally passed on from mothers to their daughters.

3. Kolam in the Tamil language means form and beauty.

4. As the kolam erases during the course of the day by birds and insects feeding on the rice, people's foot steps and the natural elements, a new kolam is drawn again the next morning, thus repeating the cycle. It imparts the idea that life is renewed daily.


Happy Deepavali to all my Hindu pallies!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Simba

Simba was a feral cat that strayed into the condo where we live. Late one evening when my son Josh was getting out of his car after returning home from college, a bright orange kitty sprang out from behind the bushes and started to rub his body against Josh's legs. Josh said it was love at first sight.

For the next couple of weeks, the moggie would wait for Josh at the car park at the same time every day and greet him with a leg rub and headbutt when Josh returned home from college. And Josh would reciprocate with kitty treats and a belly rub. Josh named him Simba because it reminded him of Simba the lion from the movie The Lion King.

Long story but sadly, at this point of my life, we can't adopt a pet.

Josh would frequently bring Simba up to our unit and we would first give Simba a bath and then fuss over him. But Simba would only humour us for just a little while before he headed for the door, purring very loudly, demanding to go back down to the ground floor where he would wander off to God knows where. You can't find him, he finds you!

Then one day, when Josh returned home at the usual hour, there was no stripy orange cat to greet him. No Simba the next day. Nor the days after. Josh was heartbroken. He combed the entire condo grounds looking for the kitty but he was nowhere to be found. As mysteriously as he appeared, he vanished.
Simba - The feral kitty that strayed into our hearts
Perhaps he would find Josh again someday.

A sweet cat video to share.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Halloween Cookies 2018

I woke up this morning and felt like baking, something I haven't done in a while.

When inspiration strikes....

Boo!

Chinese folklore dictates that if a pregnant black cat jumps over a coffin, it will pass on one of its 9 lives to the corpse and bring him/her back to life as a vampire!


Like my Halloween cookies?
🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Of Ghosts and Bananas

Know what this is?
It's a banana heart!

Also known as banana blossom, this purplish flower of the banana plant hangs at the end of the stem holding a cluster of bananas.

The flower is edible and common in Southeast Asian cuisines.

When we were little, we were forbidden to hang around banana trees as our elders believed that these trees harboured ghosts!

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the banana ghost folktales I grew up on.

Hantu Pisang (Malaysian)
According to the Mah Meri (an indigenous tribe of Peninsular Malaysia), the banana heart transforms into a beautiful young woman when it is pierced with a nail attached to a thread. She seduces men and then takes away their souls!

Ba Jiao Jing (Chinese)
A wailing female spirit who appears under a banana tree at night, sometimes carrying a baby.  It is believed that gamblers can summon the spirit to ask for “lucky numbers” in the hope of striking the lottery.
A red string is tied to the banana heart and the other end of the string is tied to the bed of the person invoking the spirit. At night, the banana spirit will visit  her captor and begs to be freed. In return, she will bestow them a set of winning numbers. A horrible fate awaits those who fail to release the spirit after winning!

Nang Tani (Thai)
A lady ghost who dwells in wild banana tree groves. She is supposedly very beautiful and wears a green traditional Thai costume. Hiding in the day, she will only appear at night when the moon is full. Generally, the Nang Tani is not malevolent and will only harm bad men who mistreat women.

Men who cheat on their wives, BEWARE!

In Thailand, it is not uncommon to see banana trees tied with colorful satin cloths — an indication that the trees are inhabited by Nang Tani. Cutting down these trees will incur her wrath.
A clump of wild banana trees tied with colorful cloths
 image source - https://thaivillage72.wordpress.com/

A late cousin of mine  was told that if she smeared her blood onto a banana heart, she would be able to see a banana ghost/spirit. A very curious teenager then, she conducted the experiment. Nope, she did not see the banana ghost/spirit but she was never the same again after the incident. She fell into a deep depression, turned to drugs and alcohol and attempted suicide a couple of times. She died of cancer at the age of 43. She was diagnosed with bipolar by several doctors but our elders believed that she was cursed by the banana ghost/spirit she invoked. Really, who's to say?

When I was in college, I stayed in a rented house with 3 other tenants. And yes, there was a banana tree in the yard. One of the tenants claimed  he heard a female voice singing at ungodly hours on several occasions. Yes, the sound came from the direction of the banana tree! The rest of us didn't hear anything though.

We never knew for sure if he was just pulling our legs but he did move out in a hurry!

BOO!



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Happy Hour

Reminding you to spend at least an hour each day doing something that makes you happy.

My Happy Hour today — cupcake and English breakfast tea.

What is yours?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Murmuration

Question: What is a huge flock of starlings called?

Answer: A murmuration.

I was fascinated by this cool hanging sculpture inspired by starlings in murmuration at a community mall aptly named The Starling.

365 individually crafted birds were used in the installation to represent each day of the year.

An extra special 366th bird was added to symbolize the leap year the mall was constructed in.

A murmuration video to share. Uncanny. Almost extraterrestrial, don't you agree?



God's screensaver!
image credit - Daniel Biber

When starlings flock together before dusk to roost, they often swoop in murmuration — a  phenomenon that results when the birds shape shift in the sky as if  they were a single ginormous, gyrating entity.

But the spectacular aerial display isn't for fun.The presence of a predator like a hawk or peregrine falcon often triggers the behavior and the flock's synchronized motion is based on evasive maneuvers. The swarming and complex twisting movements are a defense mechanism to help protect the flock by confusing the predator. He can't lock on to a single target. Safety in numbers!!

I've always wondered about the science behind the murmuration and a recent video I watched hypothesizes that a starling in the flock just has to follow 3 simple rules!

1. As you fly, stay towards each other
2. If any of your seven neighbours turn, you turn
3. Don't crowd each other

When millions of birds do it in unison and at a speed that's 10 times faster than any human pilot, the results are astounding!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Thit Heo Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemon Grass Pork Chops)

I love lemon grass. It's lemony, zingy but doesn't quite have the tartness of a lemon. Chop it up, toss into a food processor with a few other ingredients and you have the best BBQ marinade ever. Perfect for your summer cookouts!

The first time I made my Lemon Grass Pork Chops, I almost set my kitchen on fire! I attempted to grill them over an open charcoal stove indoor, inside my mere 1208 sq ft apartment! The closet-sized kitchen was smoking like a chimney! Sparks were flying everywhere!

What was I thinking? Hubby rushed into the kitchen and doused the stove with water. Needless to say, the chops were ruined!

The cleaning up was a nightmare. There was soot everywhere.

I wised up after that incident and learned that firing up the grill indoor really isn't  an option.

I now broil my chops in the oven instead. I don't get that coveted smoky flavour but  the chops still taste amazing.



Thit Heo Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemon Grass Pork Chops)

Ingredients
5pcs thin-cut pork chops, preferably blade end, with plenty of fat and marbling

Ingredients A
3 stalks lemon grass, sliced
1 tbsp sliced shallots
1 tbsp chopped garlic

Ingredients B
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
2-3 tbsp sugar
ground pepper

Directions

1. Place Ingredients A in a food processor. Blend to a fine paste.
2. Combine the paste with Ingredients B and mix well to form the marinade.
3. Marinate the chops for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
4. Grill/broil/pan fry  the pork chops.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

10th Blogaversary


A decade ago, when I started this blog, I didn't have the faintest idea what I was doing or where it would take me.

I still don't! Haha!

When I hit the  publish button on that first post back in 2008, I never thought that ten years later, I'd be blogging still! That post, along with many of the earlier posts, was deleted in a fit of  panic, when I freaked out at the thought that people whom I know outside my virtual world might be able to find my blog! I think I might have deleted a third of my posts! Very stupid of me, I know and I have regretted since.

Whoa! 10 years is a long time in blogosphere! It feels like a blink + a lifetime all in one. However, I did disappear from blogosphere in 2017 for about 8 months when life was bombarding me with lemons. I had too much to deal with and blogging was the last thing on my mind. When I came back, I didn't know what to expect and thought that my bloggy buddies would probably have forgotten about me.

Thank you, pallies, for sticking with me. Mwaaaaaaaaah!!! ❤️❤️❤️

The blogging landscape has certainly changed with much less commenting and even much less posting on blogs as most bloggers have ditched their blogs for Instagram. Many of my favourite blogs have now been in hibernation for a long, long time; some gone private and a couple of bloggy pallies had even passed on. But others have popped up in their place.
It is foreseen that traditional blogging will eventually die a natural death, no thanks to mobile devices. But as long as Blogger isn't retiring its service, I will continue to blog until I drop!

So why am I still blogging?

I GET TO WRITE
I love to write. Having a place where I can write my heart out without judgement is like I have finally found my voice. The process of my thoughts translating into words and leaping off my fingers onto the keyboard when I write a post feels like  magic!  Empowering, if you will.

I GET TO CONNECT WITH  BLOGGERS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE AND ALL OVER THE WORLD.
Interacting with bloggers from so many diverse backgrounds has been awesome. I've forged friendships with people whom I would have never known. I've learned about cultures I would have never understood, and have virtually visited places I never knew existed. Blogging has opened a portal to a whole new world.

MY BLOG IS MY OUTLET, MY JOURNAL, MY SECRET SANCTUM...
This blog is an outlet for my creativity and all the things I want to share. I'd like to think that my blog is a legacy to my sons. And if I should croak suddenly, my blog could be a place my boys would find solace. They would know exactly what I was thinking and feeling watching them grow up. I've chronicled their milestones. I've posted photos of them when they were little. I've paid tributes to their beloved pets who had passed. And I have and will continue to post recipes of their favorite dishes on my blog.
Perhaps my future grand kids would want to take a peek one day and read about their crazy grandma and her one-time obsession for cookie decorating.

Someone said that some of the only things that give life value are the things that take sustained effort over long periods of time. This blog is one of those things for me.

To those who have been with me since the early days, I THANK YOU! You have all been amazing bloggy pallies. I hope we will get to meet in person someday.

To those of you who are newer to this party, you are loved here in this bloggihood.