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A Quiet Beginning

1 Jan

Unlike the nation and the world who ushered in 2019 with revelry, we welcomed the new year without much fanfare. In fact, no fanfare at all. It rained in the evening and spoiled the mood to go out. So we stayed home.

I decided to carved a Whale to usher in the year. Hubby has been down with a cough for several days, hence no alcohol for him, I didn’t feel like drinking or celebrating alone.

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Whale 14 in the making

Sure there were fireworks last night when the clock struck midnight which we could hear and see in the distance but I tuned them all out with my headphones and listened to Beyonce’s Listen, my favorite song.

The night before New Year felt like any other night in the week prior to midnight. And the first day of the new year is no different, a public holiday in the midst of a work week but kinda like a Sunday nothing-doing feeling. A quiet beginning is what it is for us.

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Goodbye 2018

31 Dec

What a year it has been! At the beginning 2018, never did it cross my mind that I would be facing many ups and downs, making it a truly eventful year. Top on the up trend has been my musings and followers, and my carvings for Gigglesville and Gnomie-wood. The cumulative number of 273 pieces carved consists of Citizens, Big Citizens, Monuments, Whales, Ocean friends, Apeach, Dinky the dinosaur, Gnomes and their homes. But there were no increase in the Superheroes count.

And worthy to mention also is my chase on Candy Crush Soda to reach 1000 Days on my iPad. To me, the daily launch just to get the Daily Bonus is an up trend to achieve that number. I just hope the device don’t die on me as I inch closer to my target.

On the home front, my two girls are all grown up with M1 in her Senior year at University and M2 ready for the next exciting chapter in her life, college-bound having completed high school. Time goes by so fast. Too fast I feel sometimes.

On the down trend, there were notable events too that could almost rival the good ones. These are mostly health-related issues and I must say are pretty life changing.

I was diagnosed with Infectious Colitis in February after a Colonoscopy and Endometriosis in April after a Laparoscopic surgery. Not good so I had to change my diet and lifestyle to deal with these issues. I gave up coffee, eggs, cheese and avoid certain food groups but alcohol and chocolate are still hard to resist. I lost weight as a result from this change which was good until recently, I added some back. Oh well…

However my physical problems didn’t end there…

My sports injury exacerbated and the diagnosis turned out to be a Wrist Tendonitis problem due to my constant carving besides golf. When you think about it, subjecting the wrist to the constant swinging of the clubs and hitting the ball is actually too much to bear upon impact with a weakened wrist. And golf is a non-stop 4.5 hours or thereabouts, thus aggravating the problem acutely. Whereas for carving, the time spent on it can be controlled. I can carve for less than an hour or sometimes three to six hours at a pace without pain that can aggravate the wrist.

So I stopped playing golf for ten weeks to rest the wrist, and did treatment and therapy which helped. Carving continued though but only as and when I have time.

An even bigger down trend is my iPhone5S. It is dying. I thought it would at least last until my birthday next year but the situation does not look good at all. The battery drain issue is just so bad, I find myself using the phone lesser and lesser. One charge can only last a quarter of a day if I even use it a little bit. Perhaps in retrospect, this is a good thing to be less device-dependent? Then again, I suspect this less device-dependency will change once I get a new phone. We shall see.

But I should not focus on the down trends to say life was not good in 2018. There were many up trends as well which I should be thankful for. And I have my friends to make me laugh and be happy, my carving to keep me occupied and contented, and my health is actually much better after those two main episodes.

So as I bid 2018 goodbye, I brace myself for 2019 to be an even more exciting year as there will be major changes, positive ones to look forward to. Thank you 2018, another year to remember by and to 2019, I welcome you with open arms.

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

Every year we celebrate Christmas on the Eve with a sumptuous home dinner spread.

Everything on the table was home-made except for the Honey Glazed Ham and dinner buns. There’s the turkey, the main star, and the supporting salad, creamy baked cauliflower, baked potatoes with bacon bits, spaghetti bolognese and dinner buns. And of course, the ham.

After being stuffed to the brim, the first dessert came out – fruits in sweetened syrup. Then before we knew it, the second dessert was served – home-made cheesecake accompanied by coffee. Burp!

The family sans M1 who did not come home this year, had a really good time eating, drinking, chatting and merry-making. Exchanging and opening presents was entertaining and always appreciated.

Here’s wishing all my readers out there, friends and family a wonderful Merry Christmas! Peace, love and joy to all.

My Friends Can Cook, Part 2

21 Dec

Friends are the best thing next to family. Friends who can cook for you are even better! It was a simple Moroccan Chicken Stew, home-cooked that was just heavenly. Coupled with the wine I brought, catching up with friends in the comforts of the home is good for the heart and soul. There were fruits after the meal to sweeten the chatter and laughter.

I could get used to this – more catch up sessions with girlfriends from yesteryears. Perhaps the coming new year will be apt to continue this.

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A sweet combination of longan, strawberries and persimmons

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Cab choice blended well with the chicken!

My Friends Can Cook

20 Dec

Recently a girlfriend cooked Chicken and Lamb Briyani Rice for us, complete with side dishes and lovely garnishing. Hubby and I really enjoyed the meal and the company. It has been awhile since we had this dish, what more home-cooked. And this brought back memories of my first encounter with Basmathi rice when I was at college, the rice being the trigger here.

Over the Summer during the dinosaur era, I had a Pakistani housemate who took over the room from my previous housemates. It was a tad complicated as we were in between housemates but eventually, the living arrangements worked out.

Now during that time, the grad student would cook the one and only thing he knew, Basmathi rice and Curry Chicken. He had great skills cooking the Basmathi rice in a pot over the stove, with the rice always coming out fluffy and not burnt, and very yummy after tossing it in butter. But it’s the preparation of the chicken that I can still remember vividly until today.

He would cut the whole chicken to just eight pieces, no more no less. I asked why and he reasoned that it has to last him four days because he simply does not have the time to cook daily with his busy Summer schedule. With the chunky pieces rationed to one piece per meal for two meals a day, I thought it was the most convenient planning ever!

Compare that method to the preparation taken by the girlfriend on the meal she cooked for us, everything was bite size, flavored with exotic spices and very detailed in presentation. I’m not complaining but just marvelling at the efforts taken by her to ensure that the end results are perfect.

Whether the meal was cooked in simplicity for a hectic Summer schedule or meticulously for an afternoon leisurely lunch, both methods resulted in awesome tastes and I feel privileged to have friends who can cook for me.

Tonight another girlfriend will be cooking for me and I am so looking forward to the occasion and catching up with her on life.

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The final presentation complete with raisins, nuts and quail eggs

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Vege side dish

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Raita side dish

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Papadum side dish

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Dhal with lamb side dish

One Last Taste and Sight

16 Dec

We checked out and left Golden Sands Resort way before noon and much earlier than we normally would from a resort. For a change, it felt good not to rush.

We then detoured to visit hubby’s sister before we all made our way to Batu Lanchang Food Market. Finally we had our Char Kueh Teow along with other local fare (more Pasembur, Carrot Cake, Roast Pork, Otak-Otak and Fried Oysters).

After brunch, a quick visit to the Wet Market to buy fruits and experience some sights and smell before we bid Penang goodbye.

I pointed out to M2 the conventional way of how coconut milk is extracted, something teenagers these days do not get to see. I was equally amazed at the fruit stall selling bananas. So many variants!

By 2.00pm, we hit the new bridge and were on our way home.

Know Your Breakfast Hours, Part 2

16 Dec

Today is our last day in Penang. Despite saying the night before that we will wake up early to have breakfast and a final round of sun and swim, we changed our minds this morning. As it is, the sky looked gloomy when we woke up. So we went back to sleep! But the sun did come out when we finally woke up. Oh well.

I think breakfast at this point is not important, doing what you like is better, which is to sleep in and not be in a hurry. Also I don’t think we can get an extension for a late check out if time was not on our side.

Imagine breakfast during the heavy traffic sector, I wouldn’t relax and might probably end up with an indigestion. There might not even be a table available and we would waste precious time waiting for one. Then getting a sun tan can’t get any faster because you can’t hurry the sun to burn you quicker. You know what I mean?

With the Resort’s occupancy at full capacity, they would want us to check out by noon and get the room ready for their next guest. Can’t blame them, it’s the holiday season.

So we took our time to pack, and will be having brunch instead at Batu Lanchang savoring local street food delicacies.

Goodbye Golden Sands, we had a good time. It will be some time before we come back again to experience your hospitality.

Where Shall We Eat?

15 Dec

We all felt so lazy after the rain and just lazed in bed in the room until dinner time. And when it was time to go out, we decided to venture to the same area across the road from the resort opting for Chinese food this time.

It was simple choices of Assam Prawns, Mixed Vege, Sweet & Sour Pork and Steamed Clams. Sounds a lot for us with four dishes when we would normally order just three but I must say the portions were small.

The Clams had a tomyum oomph to it, laden with chili padi and enough flavors to tickle the tastebuds. And it was so strong that it overpowered the rest of the choices. Perhaps we ordered the others wrongly?

We were surprised to discover after the meal that the restaurant has Trip Advisor certificates! The certs were displayed proudly on the pillar in the middle of the place.

Put it this way, I certainly wasn’t impressed with the 30 minutes wait before our food was served. Hmm… we will have to give it another chance the next time I guess. Until then this experience aside, I must say we have had a fun and relaxing time this trip.

A Lovely Morning

15 Dec

It was indeed a lovely morning after breakfast. The sun was bright and hot and I got toasted a wee bit while working on Codewords on the book instead of the phone, my dying iPhone5S.

An occasional dip in the sea then the pool, we couldn’t ask for more. By lunchtime, automatically our tummies were rumbling and we opted for sandwiches and a Tandoori pizza by the poolside.

Unfortunately, the beer that I intended to drink did not materialized as the mocktail Margarita concoction on the menu sounded very tempting, so we had a jug of it. It was very good and refreshing.

Feeling contented and with a light breeze blowing, the setup was perfect for a snooze! And we almost did but decided to go for another dip in the sea after resting long enough for the food to digest.

Soon after, our Penang friends dropped by the resort to catch up with us and it was nice to see them again. Amidst our chatter, the sky turned dark and cloudy again. Yes it rained.

Thank goodness I managed to work on my tan earlier in the morning. Let’s hope tomorrow, being our last day (how quickly time went by), I can still catch a bit more sun in the morning before we check out and leave for home.

Know Your Breakfast Hours

15 Dec

I saw the signage the day before and decided that we should all wake up earlier than normal for an early breakfast before the crowd. It wasn’t easy because being on holiday, the tendency to sleep in is very strong.

We got there slightly before 8.30am and managed to get a table for a leisurely paced breakfast despite the noise and people building up. And the best part, the sun is out! Yay.

Needless to say, we will be lounging and doing nothing for the next few hours… I love Penang.