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Monday, April 25, 2016

Old Wives' Tales, Taboos, Superstitions....

When we were kids, Mom used to remind us to eat up every grain of rice that was left on our plates or we would end up with husbands with pock-marked faces. Hubby and both my brothers-in-law have smooth complexions so I guess Mom was right!

In a multi-racial country like Malaysia, I grew up with many old wives' tales, taboos and superstitions from our diverse cultures. While some are just downright silly, made up to frighten silly kids into obedience, some are not to be scoffed at, I've learnt.

Here's a list to share

* Uncultured pearls, worn as a necklace will cure hyperthyroidism
* Condensed milk treats scalds, relieves the searing pain and prevents blisters from forming (I swear by this home remedy- works every time!)
* Wearing a black ring made of thread on the ring finger cures sty. (Trust me, this works too)
* Cutting the ends of a cucumber and rubbing them will draw out the bitterness.
* Fruits on a tree will turn bad when touched by a pregnant woman.
* Singing while cooking will land you an old man for a husband
* To predict the sex of a baby: Suspend a wedding band held by a piece of thread over the palm of the pregnant lady. If the ring swings in an oval or circular motion the baby will be female. If the ring swings in a straight line the baby will be male.
* Dressing a baby with his/her shirt back to front will sooth an inconsolable crying baby and ensure that he/she will sleep peacefully through the night.
* Wiping a dog's tears on your eyes will enable you to see ghosts/spirits.
* The third consecutive cry of a crow is a harbinger of death.
* It's bad luck to have three people in a photograph. The person in the middle will be the first to die.
* The presence of a praying mantis in the house after dark is a harbinger of evil. It is sent by the person casting a spell on you.
* Clipping your nails at night brings bad luck.
* Stabbing a pair of chopsticks into a bowl of rice is bad luck.
* Owls and tortoises/turtles bring back luck (according to the Indians). The Chinese, however, believe that tortoises/turtles bring good luck.
* A suicide victim dressed in red will return to avenge his/her death.
* If a dead person's eyes are left open, he/she did not go willingly.
* Opening an umbrella inside the house will invite snakes into the house.
* Trees will sprout in your stomach if seeds are swallowed
* A pinching crab will only release its grip at the sound of thunder
* Eating crabs during pregnancy will cause your child to walk sideways.
* Consuming soy sauce will darken the scar when one has a wound.
* Consuming excessive fried foods will cause canker sores
* Hanging out clothes after dark brings bad luck.
* Getting crapped on by a bird is good luck.(How is that lucky?)
* Males consuming stale hard-boiled eggs will end up with swollen testicles. LOL, I've never met one who took the challenge.
* Eating live ants will give you perfect eyesight
* Placing a piece of wet paper on your forehead can cure hiccups
* Swallowing a live, newborn mouse cures Asthma
* Chicken saliva can be used to treat scorpion stings

Do you have any to share?
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sheet Masks

Did you already know that sheet masks are a staple in Asian skin care? I didn't!  Apparently, they are a Korean beauty favourite. I am always so behind when it comes to beauty stuff.

To the uninitiated, a sheet mask is exactly that; cloth or paper with handy cut-outs for your nose, eyes and mouth drenched in skin-pampering ingredients that are left over your face for 10-15 minutes so your skin can marinate in the good stuff.

I was window shopping with a friend when she suddenly dashed into a Korean beauty shop that was buzzing with shoppers. I ran after her, not having the slightest clue what the hooplah was all about. "Quick! Grab as many sheet masks as you can before they are sold out," she said excitedly. "What the hell are sheet masks?", I asked. She rolled her eyes at me as she pointed to all the customers in the shop who were each carrying armloads of colorful packets. There was a 70% discount on sheets masks while stocks lasted. The normal price was RM4,20(USD1.07) per packet which meant the masks were going at RM2.90 (about US70 cents) per piece and that was a steal! Following her, I grabbed as many as I could without the slightest inkling what they were for!

My haul!
The packaging looks so attractive and yummy with all sorts of scents, ingredients, vitamins and essences to luxuriate in. From ginseng to green tea, to mulberries to snail slime - they have it all!

Note to self - Warn my son Josh that these are not edible when he sees them in the fridge. That guy eats anything that looks remotely edible. Once, he tried to eat my DIY coffee mask!
I tried my first -  Pomegranate & Collagen Lifting Silky Mask. My face looked hydrated, brighter and slightly firmer after 20 minutes of use.  Sheet masks are so refreshingly perfect for our hot and skin-parching tropical climate. This is life changing!

Have you tried sheet masks? If you haven't, you really should give them a shot. It's like a mini facial, but way cheaper and you don't have to leave the house. Sheet up, pallies! They are heavenSCENT!

I was told that sheet mask selfies have been inducing instagram hysteria and even among celebrities!
photo via Lady Gaga / Instagram
 Guess who?
Hello! It's me!
A cute video to share

Goodbye pricey serums!  Hello sheet masks!

This weeks's cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Monday, April 18, 2016

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 would spend the rest of her days in a lonely palace accompanied by a white rabbit who lived 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.
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Wearing Clothes Right Off The Rack

I was going to meet my friend  for lunch at a shopping mall when a pencil skirt on a mannequin behind a display window caught my eye. It was that elusive skirt I had been searching for a long, long time - denim, front-zipped, knee-length, perfect colour ....

I hopped into the shop and tried the skirt. It was a perfect fit! I have a big butt and tummy and pencil skirts don't become me but this one looked like it was made just for me.

Without hesitation, I bought the skirt and walked happily out of the store , wearing my brand new purchase as I made my way to the cafe a few metres away to meet my friend.

As soon as we were seated, I gushed about my new skirt to my friend. She gasped in horror! "Eeeek!  Take it off! NEVER wear a new clothing until it has been washed!", she cautioned me.  My friend, who's a dermatologist, then went on to share with me horror stories about the diseases her patients had picked up from wearing unwashed new clothes.

Dang! Can't wear new clothes? But that's the only time clothes aren't wrinkled!

If , like me, you don't wash new clothes before you wear them, below are 2 reasons what you should.

As Donald Belsito, a professor of dermatology, told Wall Street Journal, new clothing often contains harmful chemicals that can cause rashes and itchiness. Despite the "made-in" label on many store-bought purchases, items are often stitched, dyed, and sent out from various countries, each with different chemical use laws. Clothes containing common ingredients such as azo-aniline dyes, or formaldehyde resin can cause skin irritation — although, sending them through a wash can prevent this.

However, the ickiest clothing culprits come from the stores themselves. According to Belsito,   dressing rooms are breeding grounds for bacteria, lice, and fungus. “I have seen cases of lice that were possibly transmitted from trying on in the store, and there are certain infectious diseases that can be passed on through clothing,” he tells WSJ. There's no way to really track who's tried on the clothes before you did, so rather than take the risk of a possible allergic reaction (or worse), Belsito recommends running the washing machine, twice. After all, waiting a couple extra hours before you slip on your new outfit is a small price to pay for health and hygiene.

Strange, but no one had ever given me the heads-up before. Save for underwear,  I had been wearing clothes right off the rack all my life!

Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

This week's cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Game on, but is it Team UK or Team GB?

"Why is the British Olympic team called Team GB and not Team UK?", my son asked me. "What's the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain? Is Britain the same as Great Britain? Why is the UK a country when it is a union of countries? So, is England a country?"

If you are as clueless as I was, don't worry! I heard it can be very confusing even for the average Brit! I have asked many British pallies the difference between the UK, GB and Britain but could never get a straight answer.

Wikipedia says
"The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[nb 5] (commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe. The country includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea."

Did that get your head spinning? Hello, someone please explain to me in kindergarten terms!

Then, I found this pictorial representation in a website for Woodlands Junior School.
Finally, a clear explanation! It got me straight in a flash!

Countries within a Country - The United Kingdom
The name United Kingdom refers to the union of what were once four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (though most of Ireland is now independent, only Northern Ireland remains part of the UK).
The United Kingdom
The UK's full and official name is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

Great Britain
Great Britain comprises only England, Scotland and Wales.

Britain comprises England and Wales and does not include Scotland.

Hope that helped! You are welcome!

Back to my first question - so is it Team UK or Team GB?

According to Wikipedia
Great Britain was the name assigned to the United Kingdom team by the International Olympic Committee[citation needed] for the 1908 Summer Olympics along with the IOC country code GBR. The team is also referred to as Team GB.[4] Representatives of the devolved Northern Ireland government, however, have objected to the name, which they argue creates a perception that Northern Ireland is not part of the British Olympic team, and have called for the team to be renamed as Team UK.[3][6]
Under the terms of a long-standing settlement between the British Olympic Association and the Olympic Council of Ireland,[citation needed] athletes from Northern Ireland can elect to represent Ireland at the Olympics, as Northern Irish people are legally entitled to dual citizenship.[7]
But I still see Team GB on all the Olympics Merchandise at the malls.

British pallies! I'd love your answer.
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Asian Squat

I was scrolling down Facebook when I saw a tutorial  on how to do the Asian Squat. "Duh! All humans can do this!', I voiced out to my son Rodney.
"Wrong, Ma! Only 13.5% of Americans can pull it off", he corrected me.

Seriously?!! That was news to me!  Squatting with my feet flat on the ground has always been second nature to me and I have yet to meet someone who can't do that! I could squat like that for hours, thanks to the squat toilets we grew up on. As kids, we used to squat that way in the park so our tooshies didn't touch the wet ground when the benches were wet from the rain.

A video to share.

Squat Level : Asian

Can you pull off the Asian Squat?

This week's cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hungry Ghost Festival

It's that time of the year again, so I'm republishing this old post for pallies who missed it the first time round.

August ( the 7th month of the Chinese Lunar Calender) is the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival. The Taoist Chinese believe that for the entire month, the gates of Hades are open and spirits are allowed to wander the earth to seek food and avenge those who had wronged them.

Here are some 'spooky' facts to share about the festival.

The hungry ghosts will visit their loved ones and a lavish spread is prepared to welcome them.

In Penang, roadsides are lined with giant joss sticks

Prayers are offered to the deceased and joss sticks and paper offerings are burned to appease the ghosts. These offerings take the form of paper replicas of money notes, credit-cards, houses , luxury cars, designer bags, flat-screen TVs, etc ( hell, even in Hades you have to keep up with the Joneses ) because the Taoists believe that these offerings when burned will reach the ghosts and help them live comfortably in their after life

A paper car

Paper cell phones with charger included - What's the area code for hell?

Paper replicas of LV bags

Paper designer shoes

Sexy paper lingerie for the dead.

Paper booze

Just because you have expired doesn't mean the partying has to end!
There are stuff like paper viagra and paper effigies of heavily made-up female escorts too. Paper cigarettes are also available!! A male buddy said he'd go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company!

Paper Laptop

Hell Bank Notes - Only these are legal tender in Sin City!!

In Singapore and Malaysia, shows and concerts are performed on outdoor stages in some areas to entertain the ‘wandering ghosts.’

Note that the front row seats are always left empty for the 'guests'.

A 'Condominium' gift for the dead

Paper McDonald's

There are rules to observe too.

Swimming is prohibited lest you be drowned by a ghost.
Children are advised to return home early and not to wander around alone at night. This belief is due to the reason that the wandering ghosts might possess children.

15 days after the feast, the festival will be over and the ghosts return to the lower realms.

So, if you are out alone at an unearthly hour, do be careful. You might bump into someone .. er something very hungry or angry!!
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Monday, April 4, 2016

Of Heat Waves and Heat Strokes

After a cup of tea with my neighbour Dorothy in a cafe, we were on our way out to the car park when suddenly, my head started to spin and I felt sick to the stomach. I thought I was going to faint but luckily, we made it into the car where Dorothy quickly switched the air-conditioner on and turned it up to max. I felt better instantly. I dismissed the episode as a hot flash, typical of menopause. What I didn't realize until later was I had a heat stroke and had I not been in an air-conditioned environment (inside the car), I surely would have collapsed.

The temps here have been hovering around 100 °F for several months now and the heat wave is predicted to last for some time, no thanks to the El Nino phenomenon that is causing the climatic change. Schools in the northern states were closed for a couple of days due to the scorching heat.

The present heat wave  is the hottest and longest we ever had and is just the tip of the iceberg. The blame has been put on El Nino and it is hoped that its effects will be felt only once in many years. But we all know that this  may be just  a foretaste of more or worse to come.

The almost unbearable condition in recent weeks has been due to a temperature rise of several degrees Celsius. Even if that is wholly due to El Nino, the same or even greater temperature rise is predicted to take place due to climate change.

Already the world is now experiencing a 1°C increase in mean temperature, compared to pre-industrial levels.

A two-degree increase will be devastating and any rise beyond that may be catastrophic. At present rates of Greenhouse Gas emissions, we are on track for a four-degree worldwide increase.

I guess we already saw that coming and have only ourselves to blame for our blatant disregard for Mother Nature.

Sharing this spot-on, beautiful, moving tribute to Mother Nature by El Gamma Penumbra on Asia's Got Talent. As judge David Foster says, "The message is so beautifully profound".

Cookies I made for Easter
Easter Bunny Cookies
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday