Monday, July 24, 2006

The 'Supermom' Is Working

My husband is on leave for 1 week from his work. So I have to attend to his needs and the children's at home.

The summer holidays have just begun. My eldest is at home all day but now he has a tummy bug and a temperature. So I have to look after him and see that he takes his medicine.

My youngest has a small blister on his left foot – due to being overactive and not knowing when to rest his feet. He says ‘Oww!’ every time he remembers his ‘boo-boo’ and demands a plaster on it even though it has really healed. So I have to attend to his attention-seeking antics.

I am, therefore, not available for at least 1 week. Hope to be able to write a more interesting entry after all this is over.

Until then...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Waste of Time

My blogger friend floweRinthedesert had this personality test thing in her blog. Had to try it too and put mine here...

Your Personality Profile

You are funky, outdoorsy, and down to earth.
While you may not be a total hippie...
You're definitely one of the most free spirited people around.

You are very impulsive - every day is a new adventure.
However, you do put some thought behind all your actions.
Still, you do tend to shock and offend people from time to time!

Pah! Only 50% of that is true - lines 1, 5 and 6 and even within those, not 100%.
Never did believe in these things...

If only I had done one of those 'accurate' personality tests earlier on in my life - at school, perhaps, and if only someone had the guts to inform me that I should follow my heart and encouraged me to dream - then I would never have taken my accounting degree and could have pursued something else that I would love and enjoy.

The only reason why I took my accounting degree was because I found it so bloody easy at school and thought, 'this would be a breeze!'. AND somebody's dad was an accoutant and wrote down in one of those prying good-for-nothing forms they handed out at school that his earning was circa Rm4000 and I thought; Wow! THAT'S a lot!

How naive and young I was...and so without direction.

But one cannot determine one's fate from a silly test.

If only someone had guided me, had dared me to dream... perhaps I would have become...

exactly what I am now but with a few of my own books on the shelves of Borders and MPH and without those six wasted years spent working for my sponsors. Plus some other stuffs I'm too embarrassed to include here and only rightly belong in the land of day dreams and what could have beens..

Now, perhaps, the only thing I can do is dream...

and perhaps make sure my children don't make the same mistakes I made.

What a stupid entry. Ignore this one, guys...just me wallowing in my own regrets and self pity..and as usual, trying to blame somebody/ something else for my discrepancies...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yummy Banana Muffins

Today, a 'Fun Day' was organised at my son's school. The teachers asked for the parents' or specifically the mothers' help in donating home made food for them to sell at the event to make money for the school. I found this recipe at my favourite website and decided to try it. It turned out quite good and my sons loved it!

Here's the recipe for anyone who would like to make these. They are soft and taste nice and most importantly, very easy to make. I added the chocolate chips for an 'extra treat' for the children and used paper cups so that I didn't have to do any greasing. In my fan assisted oven, it took only 18 mins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup mashed ripe banana (3 bananas)
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs

6 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 teaspoons baking
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside. In a separate bowl cream margarine and sugar, add eggs and mix until smooth. Stir in milk and mashed banana and mix well. Fold in flour mixture into the liquid ingredients until combined.
Fill greased muffin
tins two-thirds of the way full. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Swearing And Driving

That birthday party really took out all the steam off me that I was quite unable to do anything or cook anything much in my kitchen even after three days of ‘rest’. But now, I think and hope that I’m back to normal for I am typing this quite speedily and without any breaks so I suppose that means that my mind is functioning again. Back to normal, I guess!

And perhaps also it is because of something that happened today that made me feel totally annoyed that I had to write something in this blog.

Apasal lah perempuan hitam ni semua kurang ajar??

Of course, I'm generalising. But at this moment, it does feel that way. I have refrained from writing in this blog about a previous incident I had with these people because I was afraid that people would call me a racist or even, from a different perspective, 'a pushover' because of that previous article I wrote about me being ‘bullied’ at my son’s school. But I cannot refrain myself any longer. Twice now I have been annoyed as such by them and I think I should do something about it. Yes, indeed!

Once I've written about it here, somebody will know, at least, of what I feel.

As if that might help...

It was raining heavily. My husband ran to our car while my sons and I waited at the entrance of the supermarket with a trolley overflowing with bags of our weekly shopping. My eldest was hungry. It was 6 pm and he always takes his dinner at half past five and he’s starting to act up a bit – he usually does that when he’s tired and need to refill his tank after a tiring day at school.

After a while my husband came up to the front of the entrance but too many cars were also there to pick up their family members and friends who were also waiting, like us, to load their shopping into their cars without getting too wet. Thus, my husband had to move on further to the side of the supermarket where there was some space for him to park and the awning of the entrance still stretched that far so we could still safely load our kids and shopping without getting wet.

Only, there was a small car blocking the threshold between the entrance doors and the side of the supermarket where our car was parked.

Obviously, the people in that car was also trying to load their stuff without getting wet and their small car fitted quite nicely there while they loaded their stuff. That’s fine with us, of course, after all we could very well understand their need to do such a thing – who could not in such a weather? But then they went inside their car and 5 minutes later, the car was still parked there.

Blocking our way. Specifically, blocking our trolley’s way – all of us could have passed through beside the car without any problems at all but our trolley needed a few more inches of space to be pushed through without scratching that car. My husband got out of the car and was handling the children who, as I said, were not exactly behaving themselves and so it was I who had to ask that woman to move her car just a few inches forward so that we can push our trolley through.

My knuckles rapped at her window screen once, twice, softly and when she didn’t react, I rapped very loudly a few more times. The women lowered her window screen and I said, politely and a little apologetically, “ Sorry, could you move your car just a little bit so that we can push our trolley through?” I said, motioning with my thumb and forefinger to stress ‘a little bit.’

And how did she respond?

She screamed at me: “What’s the matter with you?! Can’t you wait? I just started my f***ing car!”
“I just need you to move your car about 3 inches forward!” I said, my voiced raised a little. I was tired too and stressed, as I always would be when my children are crying and acting up.
“Can’t you just f***ing wait for 1 minute?!!” she said and went on about something and something else, rudely, of course, adding the F word here and there, the word that the people here seem to be so fond of using, before lifting up her window screen once again, saving herself from any moisture from the rain.

I couldn’t listen to her rudeness anymore so I just went back to where my husband and children were standing, just behind her car and told my husband about her rude response.

And my husband was very annoyed. He couldn’t understand what the problem was and so he went there rapping again at that window screen, his expression normal and pleasant. The rain was still pouring away like it was the monsoon season in England complete with the thunder and lightning all in the package. I couldn’t hear their conversation but after a few minutes my forever patient husband’s face turned black as the thunder that was rumbling overhead when I heard him say;

“Shut up you f***ing bitch!”


And a few seconds later that car was gone. I didn’t even bother to try and catch what other insults my husband coughed out for the benefit of that woman’s ears. I busied myself with the children carrying one to the car and leaving the other at the trolley unguarded, but with my husband nearby and with everyone else around us looking on curiously. I wondered then, is that the only way to deal with these people? My husband is normally a patient man, but did he understand what I did not - that you must fight the fire that came out of that dragon's mouth equally with fire?

The truth was, she needed to smoke a fag first before driving - she was trying to light a cigarette when I rapped at her screen. But can’t she move her car just a little bit forward so that other people can get to their cars too – for goodness sake? And why, why, why can’t these people respond politely to politely made requests?

And then there was this other incident today when in an underground parking lot, my husband overtook a car in front of us which stopped in the middle of a slow moving line of cars queuing to find parking. My husband thought that the car in front stopped because they’ve spotted a soon to be vacant parking space and they wanted to take that parking spot. Rightly enough, that was the case, but little did both that car's driver (a black woman) and my husband know that actually 2 cars were competing for that same spot and when the woman driver in front of us realised that there’s another car waiting for the same spot, she wanted to move to the right and overtake that waiting car. (Compris?) Too late, my husband has already driven around her car and when we were side by side, I heard that woman screamed; “What the f*** do you think you’re doing??!” At the time of course, we just realised that there was another car already waiting for that spot, so I responded truthfully, “ We didn’t see the other car.” – meaning we thought they were indeed taking that spot so that’s why we overtook them. But nonetheless she screamed, “F*** you!” To which we just kept silent, drove on and I saw the white male driver who was leaving the coveted parking spot chuckling at her furious face.

Now why would anybody in their right mind want to swear and curse due to something so trivial? And they say we Malaysians are rude? I don’t know how the Brits ranked in that particular survey but personally, I think opening doors for other people is the least of one’s concern when determining rudeness. As horrible as Malaysian drivers can get i.e. honking and swearing a little bit here and there but mostly under our breaths and perhaps giving the finger, I don’t think it’s as bad as screaming and shouting the F word at other drivers. I dunno, maybe I have something against that particular word? Why do these people like to use that word, anyway, for venting anger and frustration when they enjoy doing the physical act so much? It’s quite mind-boggling.

Coming from Melaka myself, I’m very used at listening and using 'bad' words. But gone are the days when you can show that you are way more 'cool' and 'daring' if you use more swear words in one sentence and gone are also the days when you thought swearing at others can help to vent your frustration and even alleviate you in any dire situation. In other words, I have grown up and to me, using these bad words are for children and people who cannot articulate themselves better than a simple ‘F***.’ Of course, to me, there are certain words that one just cannot get away from like ‘celaka’ and indeed to many of us from Melaka, that word is almost an endearment.

It’s not just these awful incidents that made me categorise these people as rude drivers. Once in a while when you do that other driver a favour by letting them drive pass first, the least they could do is lift a hand in acknowledgement, right? It doesn’t even have to be a whole hand, it can just be a finger to tell the other driver that you appreciate him letting you pass first. But no, don’t expect that courteous gesture from any of those drivers, ever! They will just pass by like they’re doing YOU a favour instead. Indeed, common courtesy amongst those drivers does not exist at all, I am certain.

So, I ask myself,
what do I do now when faced with a ‘battle’ with one of these people? I cringe at the thought. Not because I am actually scared of them but I just hate the commotion they like to cause by screaming and swearing like that. Poor old me, I need to plan what to say during these occasions because really, I’m not good at lashing at people for such trivial matters. Do I swear back at her and say something like “F*** yourself first!” or should I talk nicely and tell her what I think about her rudeness? The latter appeals to me most, I think. What I definitely will not do again is just turn around and ask my husband to settle the matter, like what I did that first time. Yes, I’m determined to say something like, “Look, I’m asking you nicely to…so there’s no need to be rude.”

NOW, to wait for the right occasion to say those words...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Strawberry White Chocolate Tiramisu

The 'summer tiramisu' recipe, as promised:

12 ounces white chocolate
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
3-ounce package cream cheese or mascarpone, softened
36 ladyfingers
1 1/4 cups cooled espresso or strong coffee
2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, stems removed and sliced

Melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of the whipping cream in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water. Stir until smooth; cool to room temperature.
In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese or mascarpone until fluffy. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate. Whip remaining 1 1/4 cups whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold (see note) the whipped cream into the cream cheese-chocolate mixture; set aside.
Dip the ladyfingers in coffee (better to pour the coffee in a saucer) and line the sides of a 9-by-3-inch springform pan with ladyfinger halves, cut sides in. Arrange half the remaining ladyfingers on bottom of the pan. Cover with half the filling. Cover filling with half of the sliced strawberries. Repeat layers, ending with strawberries. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

Note: To fold, place the heavier mixture over the light mixture. Starting at the back of the bowl, cut vertically through the mixtures and across the bottom of the bowl. This method gently combines the mixtures.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Party's Over

The birthday party went smoothly.
My husband and I stayed up until 3 am last night to prepare the food. And continued cooking later in the morning!

I made the requested 'dinosaur cake' and added a volcano and trees for good measure.

My husband and I made chicken rice,

Summer Tiramisu,

Konyaku Jelly

and some other stuff to eat.

Later the birthday boy blew the candles and opened his presents.

And then blew bubbles with little brother and friends in the backyard.

It was fun. We had a great time!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boot Sale Love

My talkative two year old son observes me in my ‘new’ pink blouse and says ‘Wow, you look good mama!’
‘Yeah!’ he said with a grin and bright eyes, full of honesty.

And I smiled at him, touched. I cannot ask for more from my 2 year old – he ‘makes my day’ everyday with the little things he says to me. And he doesn’t care that I got that blouse from a car boot sale for a mere 50p.

It had an Uma Thurman Pulp Fiction collar and cuffs which I did not really notice when I bought it - because who would notice too much detail when spending 50p? I just saw that it was my size and my colour and looks to be in good condition and took out the 50p from my boot sale pouch, where I put all the pocket money I have including that £20 that my husband gave me to spend on whatever I want at the boot sale. Well, actually, there was only that precious £20 and an extra 75p that I picked in one of the drawers in our room. I don’t really get any pocket money.

It was extremely hot that Sunday and we rushed through the rows and rows of sellers as fast as we could because all we wanted was really to get a second-hand bicycle and a tricycle for the children. But then, I spotted some women clothing sold by a lady my size and like a true earning woman/KL ‘sale season’ shopper, I went through the clothes in a flash and bought several items.

Except that I was neither earning nor a KL shopper. And except that in total I spent only £3.50. What bliss.

And we did buy 2 bicycles – although my husband agreed that if we find something better next time, we should probably buy 1 more because one of the bicycles we bought makes such a loud and painful creaking sound when one of my sons tried to paddle in our backyard that he gave up after a few tries and just sits on it to ‘imagine’ instead and to proudly proclaim that he’s the proud owner of that piece of scrap. We only bought it because he screamed ‘That’s mine!’ the moment he saw it next to that table of used toys. How my heart aches at the sight of my son on that stationary bicycle. But it will have to do for now – we cannot yet afford a brand new bicycle for them.

My husband was happy when he looked at the plastic bags of purchases in the boot of our car.
‘Happy aku tengok kau beli baju,’ he said. (I’m happy that you bought clothes)
‘Why?’ I asked him surprised. After all, men aren’t normally happy when their wives spend money to buy clothes.
‘Yelah…’ he said simply. (Of course…)

But I know my husband, this man who cannot express himself well. He’s happy that I finally bought some clothes for myself, for he knew that I’ve been down for not being able to do so - to treat myself with new clothes. And he’s happy because I looked positively radiant when I put all those filled used plastic bags in the boot of our beaten up car. Indeed, his gladness made me even happier - because I know that he loves me enough to understand my trivial worldly needs and although he despairs at not being able to satisfy them, he tries his best to provide for me all he can. I am thankful – even when all he can do is to take me for a ‘shopping spree’ in a boot sale.

I excitedly took out the items I bought at the boot sale the moment we arrived home. The nice cream sweater was too small – although the label says my size. The wonderful and loose-cut pair of denim trousers was too tight at the waist – I have once again forgotten that my waist is no longer 28. The nice pink blouse looked horrible on me because of those cuffs and the large stiff collar and the small denim jacket did not really fit nicely at the shoulders. You don't really get to look in a mirror before buying clothes at a boot sale, you see.

And so I folded them all nicely, reminding myself that it’s really fine because I can give these away to friends and family who can wear them and then I went to the kitchen to cook dinner, not really feeling charitable at all. It wasn’t such a happy day after all. In my down mood, I prepared to cook a simple and lazy chicken soup, cutting thin strips of onions, garlic and ginger instead of blending or pounding them, but pounding that teaspoon of fennel seed anyway because the taste will never come out otherwise. And then throwing everything into the large pot with the hot oil on the stove and waiting for that familiar aroma to fill the kitchen. And that was when my eldest son came into the kitchen and said, “What’s that smell, mama? I want to eat. Smells yummy!” he said taking a long comical sniff. “Does it smell good?” I asked again unashamedly for reassurance. “Yes!” he said nodding his head vigorously. And he smiled.

And with that he lifted my spirits once more.

Do you know what it feels like to have angels for children? Yes, they can be naughty sometimes but they are still angels.

My little angels.

Oh how I love all my boys, including the man who just like his sons, wants my attention and my care whenever he’s around. My little boys want nothing from me but my love, cuddles, support and attention. They are the light in my life and they don’t care a whit if I look shabby or if I bungle. They love me for who I am as I love them for who they are, just as they are. Life was terribly hectic when I was working back in KL and when I came back home after a long day at work, all I wanted to do was rest, rest and rest. A maid was always at hand to do all my bidding even when it came to catering for the needs of my husband and children. I had money to buy nice things for myself but I did not really know my children and I was frequently stressed in the weekends because they always acted up, especially the eldest one, wanting more of me than I was able to give. My husband and I were consistently tired that we hardly had time to enjoy ourselves – the only time we spent alone was in bed, together. Sleeping. Early.

And no wet hair the next day. Not that I needed that excuse to wash my hair, of course.

So there. I have never regretted quitting my job. And I hope I never will. Money means a lot to me, yes, I do not deny it. But given a choice between a hundred million pounds and my life now with my husband and children, I would never think twice. Yes, even without them hundred millions I can say that I am quite, quite happy. Alhamdulillah. It could have gone terribly wrong after I resigned, could it not? But it hasn’t, so far. And although I sometimes whine and grumble in this blog because I find yakking to strangers irresistible, rest assured that I do count my blessings.

Everyday, you know.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Tried and Tested

Ah, yes.

I’m happy to report that I was successful in baking the cake aforementioned in my recent entry and the result was as in the pic, right.

For those of you who would like to try this cake – yes, I have been assured and reassured by the internet and a reader of my blog that the ingredient named ‘instant chocolate pudding mix’ is indeed the one that I thought it was and the product can easily be found in any of the large supermarkets.

If you’re concerned that the cake looks a little small and thin in the picture, rest assured, it’s size should be fine if you use a 10 inch bundt pan as suggested in the recipe. As you can see from the pic, left, my bundt pan is a classic affair, something that may look nice as a decorative item in one’s kitchen (perhaps a kitchen with a large hearth where one can roast a deer and armoured knights are awaiting for their meal) but it is a shallow mould, really more suitable for a fruit cake or jelly and moreover, it’s 9 inches in diameter only. For reasons unknown even to myself, however, I just had to use it for this cake and baked the rest of the batter (about 1/3 of it left) in a normal, round 9” baking pan.

The texture of the cake was good – soft and very moist and a tad spongy, and it tasted good too. It was recommended in the recipe that the cake be eaten warm (20 secs in the microwave) with some vanila ice-cream but I have to say I somewhat disagree. Vanila is good, but raspberry flavour would be even better!

Be warned however, I did not follow the recipe word by word, so results may vary. First of all, I used a chocolate fudge cake mix instead of the devil’s food cake mix – Asda and Tesco decided they didn’t want to have anything to do with the ‘devil’ (anymore) although I’m quite certain that I have seen the product before on the top shelf in Asda's flour section. Unfortunately, the cake mix I bought was 110g less than what the recipe required but I emptied the packet into my large bowl anyway, and did not add any plain flour or cocoa powder to make up for it. And I used 4 eggs instead of 5, vanila essence instead of almond and a little less than 1 cup of chocolate chips - whatever was in my refrigerator, really! But the result, I think was still good.

So, there is a high probability that I will be making it again for that birthday party. But this time, using 2 round 9” baking tins, a proper chocolate frosting instead of that chocolate sauce I made and definitely, definitely with a little more care. Afterall, I don't want to have to blame my husband again for a spoiled dessert.

As for the presentation of the cake - my son wants a dinosaur cake (again), A T-Rex one this time, he said, so help me God.