Archive for the ‘Greetings’ Category

Sunday arrived. We had 6 guests coming at 3 pm. I had no idea how to start or what to cook or prepare as there was zero inventory in the pantry, fridge and freezer! 

Luckily, the night before, we consulted the villa owner about supermarkets in the vicinity. He was very kind and provided us with an address. Brilliant! That was a good start.

Meanwhile my girlfriend, M, was sending me updates about her contingent and going through the names of who would be coming. I have met M’s husband as well their 2 daughters and have known the girls since they were tiny tots. They have now grown to be knockout beauties!

The 2 girls brought along their schoolmates and suddenly M had to be an instant Mum to 4 lovely ladies.

M is not just a friend. She was a former colleague. We both worked at Pfizer BE in the late 90’s. We now work in different companies and we still get to meet socially when we could with 2 other former colleagues for an all ladies’ day out. Check out this post Ladies’ Day Out.

Putting my Thinking Cap on …

Thanks to the villa owner who passed us the address of the Supermarket the night before. It was definitely easier visualising what to put on the table for our guests when we were at the supermarket.

French baguettes were a life saver! And they’re in abundance where we were. Phew

To go with the baguette, there’s soup. I also made sardine dip or side dish (with chopped chillies, shallots, spring onions, fresh coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper). This went perfectly with the baguette as well.

I made a 3rd plate of the refreshing yum woon sen (my own version of the Thai vermicelli salad).

Since it’s Summer hols, we didn’t go by any dining rules. Why bother? It’s not all about food, by the way; it’s meeting and greeting and having a sense of comradeship that’re more important. Chips, nuts and what-have-you nested happily on the serving table. 

And then there were 10 of us …

Our guests arrived on the dot. 3 pm sharp! Bravo. Well done, M!

It was great meeting up with M and her family again ~ and mind you ~ in France, more than 1,000 km away from our homes. So glad that our paths crossed this Summer hols. Everyone had a fantastic time in the pool or poolside and basking in the sun and just talked, oblivious to the passage of time. 

I couldn’t remember what time M and her family left. No one kept track of the time. When they finally left, suddenly our house became so quiet…

Sunday was a fulfilled day spent with friends. Monday was a day of rest, which helped a great lot in charging our mortal batteries for the next days.

Vaison-la-Romaine

We headed for the Tuesday markets at Vaison-la-Romaine, which was 22 km away. I love going to the markets in the Provence. There is at least one or more than one village market every day in the week. Vaison-la-Romaine is just one of them. Unfortunately, it’s not my favourite village market. I’ve seen better ones at Bonieux, a hilltop village in the Luberon region of Provence.

When going to one of the village markets, we had to make sure that we left early as all markets will call it a day by 1pm. 

We bought a huge loaf of pain fermie (sourdough loaf), which lasted for 2 and half days. This was considered as fast moving and would only happen during the Summer hols. Breads back home in Belgium would often go untouched, until they get mouldy on the 5th day. Lol!

The Best Cheap Lunch Deal Ever at Beaumes de Venise!

For a complete menu of Eur 18 per person, comprising of a starter, main course and dessert, I would recommend this address: La Part des Anges at Beaumes de Venise.

We were pleasantly surprised by the excellent presentation of every single plate served for an incredibly cheap lunch menu. 

Mind you, I had one of the best starters in a long time, Tiramisu Provençal. My main course was duck meat in raspberry sauce served with French fries and salad. My dessert was the refreshingly light and tangy lime panacotta. 

The tagliatelle carbonara was my younger son’s choice of main course, by the way.

Thumbs Up for a superb lunch👍🏼

We stayed on at Beaumes de Venise a bit longer because suddenly my other half was attracted to something …

Was it something or someone? Let’s find out, so stay tuned to Part 3…

Cheers!

When my family, friends and colleagues asked me where I would be going for my summer holidays this year, I just kept quiet and hinted to them to guess. It did not take long for them to come out with, “It’s got to be the South of France, right?

Right!

But…but…but France is a vast country, you know. France is not just only Paris, the Eiffel Tower and The Moulin Rouge, for heaven’s sake! 😉

There are a million and one places and locations to discover and explore. 

The reason we chose the southern part of France for our summer getaway is simple. We love the consistently warm and sunny weather, the colours of sunflower, lavender, the endless vineyards, the smell of fresh breads, long walking trails and the crazy mistral!

4 years ago, we were at Saint Rémy-de-Provence. We were back there again the year after.  We loved the location and the holiday home and had wanted to go back there this summer. Fortunately or unfortunately, the villa was taken during the weeks we had wanted to book. So we ended up at Lagarde-Paréol, a new location and discovery for us. It’s a small commune but a fabulous locus connecting to nearby cities, such as Orange, Avignon, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Carpentras, Le Mont Ventoux, St Rémy de Provence and Arles to name but a few.

A week before our planned summer hols, hubby said he would like to leave at 3 am. Very ambitious of him, I thought. Anyway, I knew why he wanted to leave that early: it’s cooler and definitely less cars on the roads. After all, we’re taking his car and he was the driver *wink*

Since I had to work the entire week before we left on Saturday morning at the crazy hour my other half was suggesting, I was rushing through my packing checklist on Friday evening making sure not to miss anything out.

I finally finished packing our “brunch bags” at 1.20am on Saturday morning!  And gosh, I was not even sleepy. Definitely a carry over of my hoot owl shift biological clock😳


I tried to hit the sack at 1.30 am on the morning of our supposed departure at 3 am, but only to get up at 4 am!! I noticed the guys were still in bed!

Oh-oh… there goes our ambitious ETD at 3 am! Lol!

I guess the noise I made in the bathroom woke the guys up.

And we finally left at 5.30 am …

Just Another Black Saturday

Although the Saturday we left was not a Black Saturday, but we definitely felt like it. The first traffic jam started at midday at Lyon but luckily that lasted for only half an hour. The subsequent traffic jam lasted for 2 hours starting from Bourg-Les Valence at almost 3 pm. 

We had been travelling for almost 1k km and the traffic jam on the highway coupled with the scorching sun did not do justice. It was not a pretty sight either, especially when we had to drive bumper-to-bumper at most instances. I felt choked surrounded by cars, mobile homes, trailers and jeeps from holiday-makers from neighbouring European countries and the U.K. 

I wished we had reached our ultimate destination …

At almost 5 pm, we noticed a huge transformation of sceneries and backdrops. 

There were miles and miles of vineyards and the narrow road leading to our holiday home was breathtakingly beautiful. We spotted the majestic Le Mont Ventoux immediately.

Our ultimate stop and destination was a sight to behold; just as they appeared on the website. Peace and tranquility, and the spacious swimming pool and al fresco dining area with a bar, bbq and cooking area. OMG! What more can I say? It was picture perfect!

The 2-hour traffic jam was immediately ancient history. 

As if there’s no tomorrow, the boys headed for the pool as soon as we arrived. It was a cool dip for them after being trapped in the heat all afternoon long.

By the way, my older son’s bedroom overlooks the majestic Le Mont Ventoux. I had wanted that room, but it’s not a master bedroom. Too bad … 😦

A Transformed Meal

It was a Saturday evening when we arrived. I had carried with me 4 Aiki noodles cups, some left-over veg, onions, shallots, chillies, ginger, curry powder and a packet of smoked Polish sausage some 1,000 km from Belgium to France, and transformed a student’s instant noodle meal into a more appetising and substantial meal. 

Et voila!


That evening, I received messages on my whatsApp from a girlfriend. She and her family were staying at Arles and she wanted to visit us after touring Avignon.

And here’s what she wrote …

Just back from concert & dinner. If it’s OK with you, we would arrive around 15:00. We will visit Avignon first and bring along some saucissons secs from Lyon, tapenades, rillettes and flammekuches from Arles & wine  from Avignon (& bikinis) 😀. I will have no internet on the way. So sms would be the cheapest way to connect. See you tomorrow. P/S there will be 6 of us.”.

Golly gosh… We had nothing in the fridge, and neither, the pantry!!!  

And tomorrow’s Sunday!!!

Now, could I manage to accommodate 6 guests with zero level inventory in the kitchen, fridge and freezer?

Stay tuned to Part 2 …

Cheers!

I was at an Asian store recently with my younger son, and was browsing the shelves in great detail, much to his chagrin.

C’mon, Mama! Don’t take too long. It’s so boring here. Let’s go…

Shhh!! I’m busy here…

 Pfff!

And then…. bingo! I was bewitched by one particular item on the shelf.

This!

  
I was beaming when I saw the familiar looking cookies and my son was delighted I finally found something after striding around for ages on end. Phew! While at the cash counter to pay for my items, the cashier looked up at me and smiled broadly 😃

He said, “You must be a Malaysian, right?”

Huh? How can you tell?” I asked

Because only Malaysians buy the pineapple jam cookies“, he replied with a huge smile on his face 😃

Store-bought vs Homemade

While home, I had a closer look at the plastic case and noticed the Malaysian flag on it. Ah…. that’s why!
 

  

By the way, I did not buy the jam tart because of the flag. I was, infact, as blind as a bat when I reached for the cookies at the time. Now the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

First thing’s first, the tart was crumbly from the first bite. It sort of of melt-in-the-mouth, but there was an unpleasant flavour. It must be the E-number artificial food colouring. No wonder, the pastry was too yellow for my liking. The pineapple paste filling was the stingiest I have ever seen. I could not remember how it tasted like at all, because there was almost nothing filled inside the pastry to draw a taste test. I tasted only the crumbly artificially-buttered-and-coloured pastry, which was quite off-putting, if you ask me.  On the contrary, I must admit that the shape and linear pattern on the cookies were rather impressive. 

  

 
With a lot of effort, we finally finished the store-bought pineapple tarts for more than a week. Then I challenged myself to make my own pineapple tarts from scratch. BUT, I was pampered by a blogger friend, Miss B, when she came to my house last year to pass me a packet of 500g of Redman Pineapple Paste all the way from Singapore (thanks, Miss B). Honestly, that was the best pineapple paste I have tasted ala store-bought. It was not too sweet with natural pineapple flavour and perfect consistency for making pineapple tarts. By the way, I tweaked the paste by spicing it up with some cinnamon and clove powders. Not a lot but just enough to enhance the Nyonya-ness of the paste. LOL!

Here were the results of the store-bought vs homemade pineapple tarts.

I was definitely feeling Goliath-ish that day 🙂

   
  

I have made pineapple tarts before and had always used the same recipe, however, this time, I used another recipe from a friend because I had half a kilogram of pineapple paste! I tweaked her recipe according to personal preference and availability of ingredients

Ingredients

  • 550g plain flour ( I reduced to 450g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 350g butter (I used 250g cold butter because that’s what I had left in the fridge!)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp castor sugar – fine (I reduced to 1.5 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (I did not use)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp hot water (I did not use)
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring (I definitely did NOT use)
  • 500g Redman Pineapple paste (I added freshly ground cloves and a pinch of cinnamon powder and wore rubber gloves to knead the mixed spices into the paste)

Glazing/ Egg wash

  • Mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp condensed milk

Method (how I usually prep and assemble my tarts without using any flashy tart moulds)
The night or day before: Make equal size pineapple balls using a measuring spoon of 1/2 Tbsp each. Place onto a clean flat plate/ dish and cover with a cling film once done, and let rest in the fridge overnight or until ready to be used
   

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl

2. Knead cold rock solid butter into flour with finger tips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Add in egg yolks and continue kneading until a pastry is formed. It does not take long at all

  
4. Rest the pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

5. Use a measuring spoon of 1 Tbsp to scoop the pastry and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Place the ball-shape pineapple paste in the centre of the flattened pastry. Close it up and form shapes to your preference. I shaped mine in a slightly rectangular form to represent the shape of a pineapple.

  

 6. Brush each tart top surface with the prepared glazing mixture

7. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 18 minutes and apply the egg wash for a second time. Continue baking for 5 minutes.

   
 8. Done!

   
    

Verdict: One thing’s for sure, store-bought pineapple tarts cannot beat homemade ones. The freshly baked cookies with the subtle aroma of the spiced up paste smelt amazing coming out from the oven. With the ‘new’ recipe I have used, it’s not as crumbly as the store-bought tarts. The baked pastry was mildly crispy on the outside but crumbly in the inside. BUT, the filling was top notch generous! In hindsight, I should have used the ingredients which I have used in my original recipe, with icing sugar, less egg yolks plus a bit of egg white and I noted that the percentage of butter to flour should be in the region of 60% or more. Only then I can shout out that I have made 99.9% melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts! For now, it’s 90% melt-in-the-mouth. But hey, who’s complaining? There are 4 pineapple cookie jar monsters in the house. The tarts gone in a jiffy!

  

  

Bonus

500g of pineapple paste was a LOT! There were 30 orphaned and naked pineapple balls left. Lol!

With no pastry left, the smart alec in me bought a roll of store-bought puff pastry and made 30 round-shape and 30 star-shape dough. I placed each pineapple paste on the round disc shape dough and topped it up with the star cap. They looked stunning, just like mini edible Terracotta Army . Ha ha ha..! I was so excited with my creative self.

  
 

Then I baked them in the oven….. BUT… I was in for a rude shock!!

Ring-a-ring o’ roses

A pocket full of posies

A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down…

  
 

The puff pastry really puffed up and toppled every pineapple ball.

The poor fallen warriors. Lol!

And then the determined me quickly put them back together, while they were still hot.

   
  

Now, don’t they look pretty together?

Verdict: With not enough pastry to encase the paste, the taste of the tart was chewier when baked because there was more pineapple paste to chew on. Guess what, I crazily LOVED the taste and texture, and so did my 3 guys. Not the real McCoy, but it was only a quick fix to make use of everything. Waste not, want not 😜

The pineapple tart is one of the many favourites of all cookies served during Festive occasions in Malaysia and Singapore. Its definitely one of my favourites. With Chinese New Year round the corner, I am linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: Chinese New Year 2016 hosted by Yen from GoodyFoodies, Diana from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids 

  
Have a fantastic weekend!

Cheers!
 
 

 

 

 

 

It is amazing how time has flown by with the wink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday when I reflected on 2014. Now, exactly a year ago, I started my reflections with this phrase… Every one receives a blank 365-page book each New Year. We are being “tested” for each single day. What and how we fill each page-day is totally up to us. Has it been a good day, bad and horrid day, memorable and magical? Sometimes people forget how much 365 days actually bring to their lives.

Reflections … 2015

My last 365 days were a mix of bullish and bearish emotions – among others – excitement, anxiety, worry, sadness, joy, happiness, disappointment, panic, hope, jubilation, relief, love, elation…There was one page or pages, rather, that were filled with endless trickles of excitement, joy, love and happiness. My family of 4 from Belgium met up with my family of 19 from Kuching, KL, Sibu and Edmonton. We converged where the VIP aka Mum lives. It was a blessing to meet everyone after 7 long years! There were abundance of catching ups AND lots of eating frenzy !!

  

  
    

Looking back at how much I have done and indulged in my favourite banquet with my loved ones in such a short span of time was a fairly tall order. I am glad I have filled my year book with moments I could cherish for a long time.

FAMILY, like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one (author unknown)

Just 10 short days of acquaintance!

Oh yes, I was glad to be introduced to a new friend of the family during my summer hols in August. He was my youngest sister’s best pal. His name was Nicky. He had the most lovely pair of brown eyes that could melt anyone’s heart.  He succeeded in melting mine, by the way.

Introducing Nicky …

    

For 10 days, I’ve seen Nicky lovingly purring at our feet under the table, in the living room and eating his meals at almost predictable hours. Then one morning, he never turned up for his breakfast, and neither for his lunch.  And then one of my sisters received a phone call. It was the saddest news ever. No words could describe how crushed my family were upon hearing the news. Nicky’s gone! 

My youngest sister’s best pal was gone… Forever! She was there when Nicky was born. She was there when Nicky grew up. In that 10 days I was in Kuching, I sensed a huge bond between my sister and Nicky. It was the saddest moment in my year book to feel the pain and sadness my sister went through. To seal the pain, she made a collage of her pal, capturing the times she had with her true furry friend. He was too young to die. He was only an 8-month old kitten (equivalent to 15 human years) 

May he rest in peace! 

  

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

It was strange but true; Nicky’s mum was pregnant! She was a stray cat when my family took her in while she was carrying Nicky and looking for a shelter to deliver her only kitten then. Now she’s a part of the family. With Nicky’s death, the vacuum was almost immediately filled with triple joy! 

The house is full again😄

 

New and Absurdly Different

Last year I learnt a new way of ‘baking’ cakes in my no-fancy 20-year old 2-button rice cooker. I went through a learning curve improving my bakes from one use to another in my most absurd rice cooker! Now, late 2015, I was challenged with a totally new cooking technique, ie, cooking in the Thermomix! I bought the latest model, TM5, with the coolest built-in recipe chip, which I hardly used!  Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Cooking in my new thermie meant learning a new way of cooking, and complying to an electro language. To give you an idea, “Cook for 20 minutes, at 100 deg Celcius or Varoma, reverse dial at speed spoon to 1” 

Was I happy with my new “toy”? Well, the final results tell all. 

Here were some of them 😃  

 

As you can see, in just a month’s usage, my cooking became more versatile and my presentation skill has also improved by leaps and bounds. Anyway, I told my friends that it’s a sin not to use my thermie considering the fact that the “little kitchen” costs me a fortune. And no, I will not discard my conventional way of cooking. I still love the long hours of braising stewed meats in my slow cooker, AND, the traditional rice cooker is just priceless 😊 

Old habits certainly die hard and call me old-fashioned …sometimes😄

My Peaceful Moments

Honestly, I don’t have many peaceful moments. I used to read when I wanted to be in my own world, but I have not been reading a lot lately, which is a shame, therefore, I filled that gap with a paper, a pencil or pen and some colours with my right hand. I have recently relived my childish hobby… sketching, drawing and colouring! 

 

I hope to have more time to doodle my way through my new 365-day year book😜

My Wish …

I have a very simple wish. PEACE and LOVE in both micro and macro levels. Without these 2 components, fear exists. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. 

Remember the words of Master Yoda

Fear is the path to the dark side

For those I may have wronged, I ask for forgiveness. For those whom I have helped, I wish I could have done more. For those I could not help, I ask for your understanding. And for those who have helped me, I am grateful for all you did. 

So, out with the old and in with the new. As we all know, with every new year comes greater challenges and obstacles, I wish you lots of courage filled with hope and faith to overcome all of the hurdles you may face. May you have a great year and a wonderful time ahead. 

And remember, tomorrow is the start of your first blank page. You are the master of that page. Take a pen in your hand and write a beautiful story for yourself.

  
See you next year! 😜

Cheers!

The word Gawai in Iban means festival. The Dayaks are the indigenous native people of Sarawak and Kalimantan.

The Dayaks in Sarawak are made up of 3 groups of native ethnics, Iban (formerly known as Sea Dayak), Bidayuh (known as Land Dayak) and the Orang Ulu (literally translated as rural dwellers/ people), comprising Kelabit, Kayan, Kenyah, Lun Bawang, Penan, Bisaya etc.

Interestingly, Melanau does not fall under the category of “Dayak” although the Melanau are considered to be among the earliest settlers in Sarawak. Originally, the Melanau call themselves a-likou meaning “people of the river” or sea-faring people. Legend has it that the name Melanau was given by the Malays of Brunei to the inhabitants of the coastal swamp flats and riverbanks of central Sarawak which signifies “coast-dweller”.  

1st June – Ritual Greeting Day

When I was in school, my friends used to send me the ubiquitous greeting of “Selamat Hari Gawai” every 1st of June. I thanked them for their wishes and greeting but was very curious why we (my family) never celebrated Gawai Dayak. One day I asked my late Dad the question. He said Melanaus do not celebrate Gawai but Kaul Festival. Unfortunately, the Kaul Festival is not widely known by non- Melanaus as it is not celebrated on the state level but more so locally only in Mukah on the right bank of the river estuary. The festival is celebrated in the third week of the month of April.

Demographically, Ibans form the majority of the population of Sarawak with 29%, followed by Chinese with 24% and Malays with 23%. The rest are made up of Bidayuh, Melanau, Orang Ulu and others.

With Iban being the most populous native ethnic group of Dayak people in Sarawak, the Gawai greeting is recited in the Iban language. 


Selamat Ari Gawai Dayak. Gayu Guru Gerai Nyama
i which means Happy Dayak Festival. May you have long life, good health and prosperity.

Oh by the way, the Gawai festival is a symbol of unity, hope and aspiration for the Dayak community. It is a day of Thanksgiving which marks the end of a bountiful harvest and ushering the new year with a new farming season of bountiful goodness.

Shopping malls in Kuching are beautifully decorated to symbolise the meaning of Gawai Dayak. Here’re photos  taken by my older brother. Thanks bro G!   
 

Simple Food of the Jungle

Honestly speaking, the local dishes are very pure, simple and straightforward. One of my favourites is this simple dish, the Sarawak jungle fern aka Midin. I will never be able to cook this dish in Belgium, for obvious reason due to non-availability of that special flora.

  
During my student days, I learnt to cook rice and chicken in logs or cylindrical tubes of bamboo from my Iban college-mates. I am glad this traditional cooking method is retained to this day!

Manok Pansoh meaning Chicken cooked in Bamboo  
Very simple ingredients are used in “Pansoh” cooking method. The typical ingredients in “Manok Pansoh” are Chicken, water, shallots, lemongrass, ginger (optional) and salt. Tapioca leaves are used to seal the top cavity of the bamboo and are then cooked over an open fire. 

In veneration of the simplicity of the cooking method and the ingredients used by the local people of Sarawak, I cooked a very simple dish today in the comfort of my own kitchen. No bamboo. No open fire. Just reliving good memories and sharing them with you.

Simple Warm Barley Salad   

Ingredients

  • 250g barley
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • One bunch of fresh dhill
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly milled black pepper 

Method

Cook the barley in stock water for 10 minutes. Add finely diced carrots and fresh dhill. Season with coarse sea salt and black pepper. And that’s it! 

To all my friends and relatives  celebrating the Gawai Dayak, “Selamat Ari Gawai Dayak. Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Chelap Lindap Lantang Senang Nguan Menua!” Or Happy Gawai Dayak Day. (Wishing you) long life, health and comfort, no problems, no hardship and a prosperous life! 

 

1st and 2nd June are Public Holidays in Sarawak. Enjoy the “ngabang” … But watch your limit on the “tuak“!😜
Cheers!

Every one receives a blank 365-page book each New Year. We are being “tested” for each single day. What and how we fill each page-day is totally up to us. Has it been a good day, bad and horrid day, memorable and magical? Sometimes people forget how much 365 days actually brings to their lives.

Reflections … 2014

My last 365 days had its ups and downs, but not akin to a roller coaster mode. Each leaf of the 365-day page had been mostly stable, but inspiring and illuminating at the same time. I’m blessed with being re-connected and rekindled with my family every single day via whatsApp. We exchanged silly and funny notes, awe-inspiring messages, sad and happy news, photos and videos. One video that puts a lump in my throat was the one, one of my sisters forwarded of little Shirley Temple (may she R.I.P) singing 2 Japanese songs, one of which brought sweet memories of my late Dad. Shirley Temple was his idol, a role model to every child in those days. Of all people, it was via Shirley Temple that my late Dad taught us “Kutsu ga Naru“.

My family is my pillar of strength and support. They will remain forever in my life.

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And by the way, I have made new friends via the blogosphere, whom I have not even met in real life. I have enjoyed reading their blogs, but darn, I couldn’t leave a single comment on their blogs since I started using my tiny iPhone I received as a gift from hubs in early 2014. Our PC is frustratingly cum annoyingly unmanageable with its snail speed. Arghhh…! I have a laptop but it’s a company’s laptop and personal things are out of bounds. I noticed leaving comments from WordPress to Blogger is almost impossible via my iPhone. I want my blogger friends to know and understand why I have not left a comment of appreciation and enthusiasm on their blogs. I’m truly sorry. I wish it’s technically possible, or more so, I wish I’m tech-savvy.

Although I wish I could publish a post more frequently, some pages – in fact, many – in my Year Book, did not allow me to. That’s the downside part. I wish there’re more than 24 hours in a day, but that’s not meant to be. I had to balance work-life with equilibrium, but more often than not, the scales tipped.

On a different note, I have improved my cooking and baking (yes!) skills by leaps and bounds – at least I thought so, or want to think so 😉

I’ve mastered the art of cooking cakes in my traditional single-button Rice Cooker. By the way, my grand old lady is nearing 20 years old *wink*

I have challenged myself by participating in the many themed cooking challenges hosted by fellow bloggers around the globe. I have nothing to lose; instead I have gained friendship and confidence in my cooking.

Here are some of my sweet and savoury cooks and bakes I have shared in my blog the past 365 days.

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I have become more mindful when presenting my dishes on the plate, as we often “eat with our eyes” 🙂

These Christmas and holiday meals for examples.

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Sweet Rosy Surprise

By far the sweetest surprise of the year 2014 for me was getting reconnected with my Big Blue Marble friend. Yay!

Big Blue Marble was a half-hour children’s TV series. The name of the show referred to the appearance of Earth as a giant marble. In Malaysia we got to watch the reruns and as a pre-teen to my early teen years, that was my favourite TV series.

The best part about Big Blue Marble was the pen pal club. I wrote to BBM for a pen pal they matched me with, with whom I have been in contact for more than a decade, but sadly, we lost touch for more than two decades! It was the time when there were no such things as emails, whatsApp, Skype, or Internet! My pen pal lived thousands of miles away in a different continent and that meant putting my thoughts and stories on paper with a pen and folding the precious letter and tucked it in an envelope. And then my late Dad would drive me to the post office… and then the long waiting time. I was the happiest girl when I received my letter from the postman with the postmark “Sunnyvale, CA.” 😀

I’m glad I found my pen pal via my brother on Facebook this Summer 🙂

Words alone are not enough to express how happy I am to have found you!

Rose, definitely thumbs UP to our lost AND found friendship. I hope you had a fantastic birthday yesterday, and I wish you many happy and healthy birthdays to come! Hugs xxx

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Oh by the way, who could not forget the theme song with a strong message within.

The earth’s a big blue marble when you see it from out there . . .
Closer, getting closer..
Perspectives start to change.
Things look a little strange, as we get closer.
Closer, growing closer
No need to be afraid
Our troubles start to fade, as we get closer.
Together is a word we must learn to understand, if we ever want to get to know each other better.
Together is a word that holds tomorrow in it’s hand,
Tomorrow’s just another day to get together, and…

Get closer, closer, closer…

Isn’t that a great message? It was then and it still is! It’s simply timeless!

Precious and Treasured and for Keeps

They are like rare stones in my treasure box. They make me go bonkers and gaga one day; they shine bright like diamonds and melt my heart the next. Sometimes I felt like chucking them out of the window but they are too precious. Yep, they are my precious “Gollums”. Lol!

My Year book with these two had been very challenging and inspiring. They are no longer little tots but young teens with curious grey matter. They are my BFF *big smile*

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A Silent Moment

I would like to take a moment of silence here.

SILENCE

Complete Silence….

April 16th …R.I.P bro Ong

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2014 is the annus horribilis in the history of Aviation with Malaysia being hardest hit

March 8th => MH370 … 239 missing
July 17th => MH17 … 298 killed on board
December 27th => QZ8501 … 162 fatalities

And to all who have lost a loved one, may God give you the comfort and peace that you seek and may the soul of your loved one rest in peace.

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Let us all close our eyes, say a warm goodbye to the past 365 days. This year has come to an end and it will take away all the pain and mistakes. Thank God for everything that He has given us and ask for forgiveness for all our mistakes. Now a brand new beginning awaits us. Tomorrow is the first blank page of our 365-page book. Let’s use it wisely 😉

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

May you have a great year and a wonderful and magical time ahead!

Happy New Year!

God bless
xxx

Another year unfolds. 

It’s the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Year of the Wooden Horse, taking over from the year of the Water Snake.

1. 2014-year-of-the-horse

I made it…FINALLY!!

I cannot believe how time has flown by when you want to make the most out of it.  I have been procrastinating since time immemorial.  I am talking about making the pineapple tarts 😉

By the way, Miss B, if you are reading this, it’s for real.  I made the tarts…finally!! The pineapple paste you have given me last May is used at the most timely moment. Chinese New Year 2014! Thanks!

I was amazed with the result of the crumbly texture of the dough and how easy it was to make from start to finish.

Here are the results…

Nothing short of melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts.  Scrumptious!

2. Pineapple tart_jam balls3. Pineapple tart_melt-in-mouth dough

4. Pineapple tart_baked closed tarts15. Pineapple tart_baked closed tarts2

7. Pineapple tart_plate

6. Pineapple tart_jar

8. Year of the horse

Gong Xi Fa Cai! 

Wishing you all a good year ahead full of prosperity, wealth and health!

Cheers!