Monday, December 18, 2006

Its the season...

Many of you are wondering by now what I'm up to these days as I'm not rambling anything new these past few weeks (of may be months?). I think its the season of being busy to get things going before the end of the year and perhaps to begin a new year with a new project, etc?

Since we're about a weekend away from Christmas (YIKES! Its THIS weekend!), I've been browsing the shops with hubs for the past few weekends. Its forever lots of people busy with their Christmas shopping lists, some as along as an A4 sheet of paper (both sides). I can't help but wonder, do they really need to buy gifts to EVERYONE on the lists? May be they have a big family and loads of really close friends?

Any way, there's this particular day as I was rushing off to get to the post office when I saw something that really puts me off. A child was making a scene on one of the toy shops in a department store. The mother was at wits end in trying to clam her child and explaining at the same time why she won't buy a particular toy for Christmas. But the kid won in the end. What amazes me is that kids these days seems to "demand" something particular just because every kid in town/class got them during Christmas or birthdays. I mean come on! Even though at such a young age of consumerism, I still feel that parents have the right to say NO to their demands, right? Why do they give in? It is because when as kids, adults did not get what they wanted so in turn they promised to give EVERYTHING to their kids? But I thought parents knows what's best?....
There's once when I was working, a teenager actually snubbed at a gift (apparently a box of high ended chocolate) from his grandmother given to him on his birthday! And get this, the teenagers' parents didn't even said a word! Now that was not nice at all and in fact how very strange.... Whatever happened to respecting your elders, receiving gifts (no matter how trivial it is) with gratitude and "its the thoughts that counts"?
May be its the age of commercialisation of festivities. There's no secret that companies now make huge profits from consumers come every holiday (or non holiday) season. Shops and major shopping centres will all be light and or gear up for Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas, Valentine Day, Easter, Mother's day, Father's day etc minimum a month or two ahead of the actual dates of such festivities. I bet right after Christmas this weekend, Chinese New Year songs, red deco and other goodies will be all line in and light up every where. And then we consumers will be once again busy lining up the shops not gifts but to buy Mandarin oranges, soft drinks, biscuits, new clothing etc.
Man.... We are forever buying and having headaches of what to buy! Why of course, its just the season to spend and spend, even if we don't have the years end bonus (those who have them, LUCKY YOU!). For this, I have only one wish for everyone: I wish that people will spend within their means to enjoy the spirit of the holiday season. No matter how much big or small your salary is, its always the thought that REALLY counts when buying gifts for people you love. When receiving, please receive them with gratitude for it might be the last gift that person is going to give you.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Memories of family holidays

Have you ever talked or think back on your family holidays taken a what it seems like not that long time ago, either during your childhood or teen years? Recent conversation with my mum over the phone some how lead to us back to memory lane on our family holiday trips we've taken during our school holidays.

I remembered the time before we took that 5th (or was it the 6th?) trip to Tioman Island.... I was going on and on about why we shouldn't take that trip to the same place (again) and that we should be going to places anywhere besides the beach! Back then, my dad loves the sea (and still do) so hence our holidays photo albums will be full of pictures either on a fishing boat, in the sea swimming or on the beach building sand castles (looked more like sand huts to me). But we did make that trip any ways, despite my complaining, we did had fun and that's just coz we had other kids to play with. I still can not imagine a 9 year old kid would sit still for hours, waiting for the fishing rod to move..... Hmmmm still can't do that now! But I did catch my first fish with my dad on one of our Tioman trips and I remembered how I puked after that on the smallish fishing boat we rented... YUCK! Not a pretty sight for those fishes looking up from below, I know. Still get seasick now.

Then there was trips to Kota Tinggi, Taman Negara, Kenyir Dam, Redang Island etc.... I can still remember there's this place called Mimaland or was it Minaland? Then there was this driving trip to Penang with my dad's friend and his family in our Toyota station wagon. The trip was a long one as we stop by at various places namely Cameron Highlands, Ipoh, Maxwell Hill etc before reaching Penang. It was especially long one for 4 adults rather than the 4 kids! Back then, the back seat belts did not exists yet and road safety rules aren't that strict. But then again, road safety rules still isn't that strict in Malaysia coz we still see kids jumping up and down on the back seat and mums holding their babies in the front seat!! Call me a safety fanatics if you will, but just look at the way people are driving these days and plus with their selfish attitude on the road, no wonder road accidents are on the rise these few years.

Now where was I? Ah yes, family holidays. I remembered the look on my sisters' face when she saw pacat for the first time when we're on the Taman Negara trip! hehehehe... Lucky never run around screaming like gila.... Otherwise it'll be difficult to look for her amongst the tress and bushes, jot to mentioned tigers and gibbons! We hiked up and down hills, trekked in the jungle, crawled into a cave (Gua Telinga) and swam in the rivers. It was so much fun running for shelter before the rain could reach us even though we're soaked through in the end and were shivering from cold! I never knew the jungle belalang and even nyamuk was much bigger than town varieties.... That trip we took taught me the importance nature, to respect it and to protect it. It somehow changed me; from the products I buy/use to deciding if walking 2 blocks to the shops would be a better idea than driving.

But we did enjoy al of our trips together as family despite the arguments at times before, during and after those trips... Now when I look back I really think that its not the destination that matters most, but its the company that make that trip special. I really think that its great to be able to bond with them and be able to see them in a different light, away from day to day stressful situations. Now my hope and wish is that, I am able to revive those special moments with my children. To teach them the importance of being a family, of respecting places/people they visit and protecting them. But then again, will my future children able to see real life pacat in the jungle still?....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The lousy bit

Its been a week since my last visit to my gyne. Here I'm proud to present the very first picture of our little one. He/she measures only 14mm!! So tiny!!!

My tiny angle....

At the moment, I'm just feeling ok at times and hungry all the time. Being pregnant is currently giving me hormone imbalance. I could cry, get angry or even laugh at the slightest thing. Like today, we were on our way to the garden centre after grocery shopping and I told him I was hungry (I get hungry quite often now). But since we're in France (its like Singaporeans going to Johor), we haven't got any Euros with us (grocery shopping was paid by card). Stopped by a pastry/bakery shop after getting his maple tree plant, and realised that they only accept card with a 10 Euro purchase. So I said nevermind, we'll just go back and find something in Swiss, which was to my mind a 20 mins ride back from where we are. But in the car he started to tell me off, "You know eating sweet stuff would just make you grow fat! And besides its better to eat a balanced diet". I was like, "Hello! I am GOING to be fat anyways! And besides wasn't it you that offered me chips a moment ago? And now you're lecturing me about eating a balanced diet?!" All I wanted was a strawberry tart (ok, may be two tarts), or anything as long as its proper food (rather than chips!!) to keep me from having dizziness.

I was so angry then I decided to have a 20 mins shut eye while he drove us back. I knew that we'll pass by a drive-in McDonald' and yet he did not even wake me and asks me if I wanted an apple pie or even a Fillet-O-Fish!!! I was really angry when I woke up and found out that we indeed have passed by. Right there and then I just started to raise my voice, asking him why didn't he wake me, etc. Apparently I have the last word and started to cry.... EEEIIKKKSSSS!!! What the hell is happening? I do not cry that easily, well except at soapy romantic/dramas on TV or at the movies.

Now I get emotional more than I normally do. Now is it just me or does most pregnant women feel the same way as well? I know that women whose reaching menopause gets emotional at times; got that experienced from bickering over the phone with my mum 2 years back. Called to all the way just say hi and got f#%ked by her instead! Learned my lesson, NEVER EVER cari pasal with women on the way to menopause or those who are hungry while pregnant!! I think the man of the house has learnt his lesson. Said sorry while I was making dinner. Well I guess I'll give him a break for now. Seriously, I hope he reads this for men are really clueless most of time.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The beginning of a new life

Remember the no mood and tired spells on my earlier post I was having? We went to get our blood tests done last week and this week I have my generalist calling to congratulate us! He was going on and on about its a gift from God etc, then reality suddenly sank in was I put the receiver down. OMG!! We're pregnant!

Now the reason why I've not notice anything sooner was, its been normal for me to miss a period or two. But then again it doesn't really explains why I was having mood swings, sudden increase and loss of appetite and getting tired often even if I've not done anything that takes that much energy! Silly me, should have suspected something there....

Called my mum after calling hubs (who was equally stunned), and let me tell you about a "gila" nenek to-be. She was really excited (more than yours truly who is letting reality sinking in S-L-O-W-L-Y) and was going on and on about us leaving our precious one over in KL for a few months of the year etc, etc.... I was like "Woah! We're talking about a foetus now and NOT a full grown (and born) baby!!" Apparently she's been planning this for quite a while now... Sneaky mum!

When hubs got home, he has this silly smile on his face and kept on asking me, "When? Sure or not?" while looking stunned. Now hubs is a guy who is a normally rational guy, who thinks rather like Dr. Spocks at time and by all means logical (as all men claimed they are). I can not understand why is he asking these questions now, when he knows that all this while we've been trying. So why when I break the news to him, it seems like all Martian to him? Hmmmm.... Could be the way of how I broke the news to him online on my MSN, "you're going to be a papa". He kept on going "Sure or not? Is it really affirmative or not? Do the test again tonight".... At this point, I'm surprised he didn't ask me "How did that happend?" Why do they do that, I mean asking us silly questions when they know unprotected sex leads to pregnancy sooner or later.... No wonder they say men comes from Mars and women from Venus, we speak in totally different meaning! Unless of course if the sentence meaning is clearly outlined by us!!

So I'm feeling a little crummy at the moment. Let's just hope that this crummy feeling will go away soon, as I do not like the feeling of tiredness, gumpiness, indigestion (which produce loads of gas for me. Malunya when I go out!) and the frequent trips to the loo (not for nausea though, THANK GOD!). Friends told me (those who had had babies) that being pregnant is the most wonderful experience a woman could ever have. Well I'm yet to see the "wonderful" part yet. The idea of having stretch marks doesn't really appeals to me further into my pregnancy, which reminds me, need to get a new swim suit to "cover-up" them up! As I said before women will always be vain, no matter how old or what shape they're in....

I think what they really mean is bringing a child into the world that is really wonderful. But then again the idea of delivery pain really scares me now.... Or may be I should not be thinking too much for the moment, but just to savour it as it comes; no real diet but a balanced one (I could have pizzas at night!), shopping for new clothing and baby stuff, looking for names and having extra attention from hubs! Ah.... Better savour it while it lasts...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A long weekend trip...

The camera woman with a giant fussball....

I have been in a stitching down side for the past few weeks. Just don't feel like stitching and I don't know why! Haven't been doing much lately but I still feel so tired.... So hubs and I took a long weekend trip to see his sisters in Paris. We got there just in time for the Automobile show, one of the biggest show held only once every 2 years.

My eldest SIL (& family) whose living in Rochefort (a great for holiday spot) drove 4 hours for 3 days stay in Paris, just so that our nephew got to go to the car show. Now this little guy is only 4 years old (although he's small for his age), but ask him anything about a Volvo or a BMW he'll you which model is which and has what!! He'll even tell you which car is sportive and which is not... All that from a kid who hasn't start reading yet...

The car with the Bling-Bling!

The exhibition centre at Porte de Versaille, Paris is vast. We started walking at 12:30pm till about 6:30pm, and we only did hall 1 to 5, which is not bad considering that we wanted to see the highlights. There's still hall 6 to 8 to go. I really wonder if they ever held any expo on knitting, patchwork, cross stitching here? I think it would take me at least the whole day to walk from hall 1 till 8.... And yes, I would consider going there if its not too much trouble for my SIL with my stash from the expo! And no, I would not drag hubs there knowing that he'll grumble the whole day, unless of course there's a bonsai expo that comes with it!! :)

Hubs busy waiting for his turn getting into...and out of the BMW M6 Cabriolet

Anyways, you may be wondering why on earth I went for a car show. Well I'm camera woman for the guys (hubs, our nephew and his dad a.k.a our BIL). While they were busy looking at the specs, opening and closing what ever there's a handle to it i.e doors and hoods, I was busy either clicking away at their command, holding their fliers/brochures or "cuci mata" around an all male (well 80%) event. hehehehe.... Well I'm just looking and I believe that's what men do all the time, so why not us girls when we get the chance to do so huh? But then again just looking and not b***hing seems like something is missing.... Well looking will do then.

The menacing look of Benz SLR

The cars exhibited were most of them "concept" cars, which means cars that not not ready to be mass produced just yet. Many reasons why most concept cars end up not being mass produced include, the costs and also the problems not yet resolved that exists on the current prototype. At the "American" corner (consists of GM groups) there were not many people around. May be because "American" cars are deemed to be "muscle" cars, therefore consume more petrol/diesel, are either too big (as in HUGE) or wide for Parisian parking and costs more than others. Its true that we have less and less space in the city or suburbs for parking and to get around in as land is precious now. So why buy something that one could never find parking space big enough for? We saw made-in-China cars as well this time, but quality wise is not so good as yet eventhough it really cheap. One model go by the name of "Hover", which reminds me of the vacuum cleaner and the other is called "Wingle"!

The men busy checking out the goods...

The youngest of the pack checking out the safety features!

When we got back to my SIL's place, elder SIL threw me some surprise. She brought some of her maternity clothing for youngest SIL and me. It seems like she's trying to put some pressure (implicitly) on us to get pregnant soon! She was telling me that since both of us are about the same size, the clothing will fit me better. Well, its true that we're both almost the same size. BUT I remember the last time she gave me some of her clothing to try out. Its always either to small on the shoulders and butt area (yes, I do have a NICE ass!) or the style/colour is not me at all. Its not that I don't appreciate her gesture at all. I've worn hand-me-downs since I was a kid (at times till now) and to me its a great way to save some $$$. But sometimes "pressuring" people to take your old stuff is just too much no? In the past I've said no and this time I've said no as well coz, I just simply find her old stuff (eventhough its from ZARA etc) is too depressing in colour!

I wonder why pregnant women would want to wear dark colours all the time? Let's face it, when one's pregnant, we put on extra pounds every where! I seriously don't think that by wearing too much dark colours will slim down our silhouette especially to an already horizontally challenged figure plus added tummy and all round "air-bag". I believe that women when pregnant are beautiful, just that we need to wear clothing that suits us; make us look better, comfortable and have confidence on ourselves. I for one may not be in position to give advice on how pregnant women should dress but, wearing too much black/dark blue etc is just depressing eventhough black and the like colours are making their come back this fall/winter.

Then another cousin of his, brought a book that's called "Les plus beau prénom originaux" (the most beautiful original first names). After browsing through for 15 mins, the names are really too "special"/original to be translated into chinese. Now being born a chinese (will always stay Chinesese), my parents (and his side) would want Chinesese name for our future offspringgs. So I guess we'll have to stick to our brains to come up with a 3 in 1 name; Chinese, English and French!! Heck, guess we'll just have to come up with 1 name every week to choose from... I really wonder how on earth did our parents came up with our names then? There were no books on baby names then. Or may be they went to "tukang tilik" to choose the names?... hmmm...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Of chicken rice, kaya pau and mango tree

Yummy chicken rice, complete with taugeh!

I know I haven't been blogging lately due to other commitments (other than stitching). So here I am back to bore anyone who has time to read... :)

The odd um cook shaped kaya pau... Beginners luck.

There are things that we tend to miss once in a blue moon. While I was home in KL, chicken rice, kaya pau and mango was not really one of the things I'd like to eat every other day. I mean come on, we've got assam laksa, char siew pau and rambutan, or any other food/fruits to replace them. But when we've got no choice, since that yours truly is living so damn far away from home, we either have to make them ourselves or substitute them with something else. For me finding subs aren't my thing when it comes to Malaysian food. I think its irreplaceable, the ingredients, the texture, the taste and the smell.

It turn out not bad no? At least got pau shape!

Yummy filling....

So one weekend I decided to make my own kaya pau and chicken rice! I didn't realise making pau and chicken rice was that easy! The only down side of it was the time it took me to make the kaya (about 2 and half hrs of stirring!!) and how oily my kitchen felt after cooking chicken rice. But after cleaning up the mess and finally sitting down to savour them, I can say that it was worth all the trouble to make them in the first place. All I need to do now is try to melt away some of the excess collected from the kaya pau....

A small sprout from a seed...

Growing stronger and taller by the day.... Shaping the young ones are easier than old!

As for the mango tree, well, hubs is into a phase called bonsaimania. So one fine day he decided to plant a mango tree from its seed and make turn it into a bonsai. I'm not sure how is he think he's going to do it but at least the mango seed did sprout an its now growing! I hope that he's not planning to grow it into a "real" tree otherwise, it'll be hell to move if ever we're moving off somewhere in the future. So now almost every weekend, he'll drag me to DIY stores, gardening centres and to IKEA several times just to either; "steal" a branch from the garden centers or the lakeside, or buy more pots and etc for plants. Seriously, I thought that us stitchers stash now and then, but I've never seen this type of stashing for gardening.... Or may be because I'm not really into bonsai and stuff.... hmmm... But I'm still glad that hubs found something that he enjoy doing. Now we have an understanding that he will not complain when I get too engrossed with my piece as he is with his "babies".

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Time I Spend Stitching...

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by ShannyKhoo

I think this piece is very challenging for my eyes! It took me the whole day to do gridding. It didn't help at all with tiny holes, me wearing glasses, the use of magnifaying lens and to top it off, the "soft" lighting we have at our place. Like EeKoon used to say, great for the eyes but shitty for pictures (and gridding)!

Hubs was like, "why are you pooking and looking at the cloth like there's a microscopic stain there?" I swear, this is the last time I'm ever going to grid (or attempt to) a 28 count Jobelan again!! Although the stitching part gets easier as I started to stitch from the top.

I didn't realise before that overdye floss is so pretty when stitched! Since its the first time I'm using them (and also the matelics), I did try to closely match the next colour when I ran out of the last one. And let me tell you, Dinky Dye has the softest floss ever! But since its made out of silk, it tends to rip easily as well.

I think I'm hooked on the beauty that the overdye floss add to the whole piece! Please click on the picture to look at some of the stitches. :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Would you like to buy my cross stitch mags?

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by ShannyKhoo

Recently someone got me a cross stitch mag which I'm not sure what to do with it since none of the motif in it appels to me. Its not that I'm ungreatful etc, its just that I don't like keeping things that I'm not going to use it anyways! It'll be so much better to find them a home that someone will appreciate them more than I do. And besides there's about 26 charts, specially on subject of babies and children; teddy bears, alphabets, grow charts, zoo animals etc.... Am willing to give away this mag but the reciever have to bear the cost of postage.

Before recieving the mag, I bought another cross stitch mag (the same mag title but different issue). The only reason why I bought it then was there's only one particular poster chart that appels to me and now I'm not sure what to do with the rest!! I was thinking of selling it but at what price? The price I bought was CHF9.50 (about RM28.-), so am willing to sell it off at CHF3.50 (about RM10.-) since I took off one of the posters. In this mag, there's about 22 charts (after minus the ones I took), the main subjects; scenery and still life.

Please be aware that the mags mentioned above is in French/Italian! I'm not sure about postage cost right now as it really depends on the weight and destination. From a smoke free home and in good condition. I accept payment via PayPal and Please email me if you're interested. Serious buyers only. Please click on the above image to go to the pictures. Sorry for the inconvience as I can't seem to post pictures at the moment.

Friday, August 11, 2006

One of the many days to remember...

Yesterday was one of the many days to remember for hubby. It was a wonderful day as well, with sunny skies and breezy weather. It was my kind of day given the sudden weather/temperature change for the past few days....

It was my birthday yesterday and I did have a great time just doing nothing during the day but stitching. No new stash this time, coz I think I've stashed enough to either keep me busy or lasts till end of the year. Unless of course I'm hardworking enough to start some of them now and put in at least 3 or 4 hours of stitching everyday. But as you know by now, I'm not that type of person to rotate between different projects (unless its pretty important piece) and do it every day. I'm also afraid that by rotating, some of the pieces might end up being UFOs! Plus I'm the type of person that want to see things get done from A to Z. Hubby (and my mum) says I'm a bit "got head no tail" type of person. So I have to prove them wrong!

The ladies from M'sia, China and the Phillipines...

It was a bit of a rush by the time it hits evening. Thank goodness we've opted for steamboat instead of bbq as it got a little too windy in the evening to eat out on our balcony. Invited some friends over for steamboat dinner, which happens to be an all girl party (except for hubby)! I think I prefer a small dinner party with friends instead of a big bash thingy. Its soo much more intimate, we can still chat and laugh rather than going around, making sure everything's in place/order/entertained and not being able to sit down for a good chitter-chat with friends.

As girls, we'll talk about anything and everything. So yesterday I'm quite surprised that hubby is able to carry a conversation about who's the most good looking actor; Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves. Of course Brad Pitt won, despite my objection. I mean how to object when you have 4 against 1 (hubby included) whom debated and voted for Brad Pitt?! Thanks hubby for being such a sport!

The cake with the "magical" touch to feel young again!

Then came the surprise cake. Surprise coz the cake hubby got me says "For your 18th birthday"! hehehehehe... Ok, Ok I'll admit, I don't want to face the fact that I'm already 28. I mean, in general, women will never admit what's their "real" age when asked right? What vain and always young at heart ladies would admit it? Then the other surprise was the girls got me "magic" candles. I kept on blowing them but they kept on re-lighting by themselves!! It was really funny!

Thanks hubs!

So I wan to say a BIG THANK YOU to hubby for making it great day for me with such a simple touch on the cake, to the girls that came to wine and dine with us and to my family and friends for the sms and email wishes that I didn't expect. Its soo sweet of you all to remember. Thank you soo much for reminding me that you care!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


My piggy family....

I finally finished my Joan Elliot "Mom Loves You" piece! Was suppose to have "report" it earlier but some how notice last minute mistakes. So had to frog and restitch on some areas... The froging done was not an enjoyable time for me. The same goes for making french knots and back stitching.... Now I can understand why some people just don't like backstitching and some would rather use a bead to replace the french knot!

Wonderfully crips on top!

So now that's finally finished, I'm going to get a frame for it! So to "celebrate", I've made my own lasagne.... Yes, yes. Me and food never go far apart! The time spent cutting and chopping the vegies and meat, not to mention the time it took, was well worth it. Its the same with stitching. We spent long hours stitching and frogging (at times), in the end the result that we get is self satisfaction and pride with the piece we've long imagine even before its finished!! So to all the ladies (and gents) that really take pride and give your all in what ever you do, give yourselves a pat on the back and say well done!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Weekend trip - Annecy France

The Alps and Annecy Lake....

Annecy (pronounced Ann-ci), is said to be one the Venice of the Apls by some. Its located on the foot of the Alps in the region of Haute-Savoie France. Close to the boarder of Switzerland, it took us about 1 and half to 2 hours ride from our place in Vevey. If one would drive from Geneva, it'll probably take about 30 to 45 mins! Along the way, the scenery of the Alps is just breath taking.

The old town area and their waterways

The town itself is nestled on the Lake of Annecy and are connected by canals that goes through it. The old town are mainly lined with cobbled streets and red roofed tiled houses, where pedestrian roam freely around the small winding streets.

On the streets of Annecy

The hotel we booked into was a small and clean 2 (or was it 3) star place strategically located next to the main sights. As parking is expensive and rare here, the hotel helped us to reduce our overnight (starting from 18:00 till check-out) parking fees! We just paid for the difference. It was a really nice gesture for them and not to mention a great publicity tool!

There's things to sell and buy here!

After checking into the hotel at noon, we went for a walk (a whole day walk, in fact) around the block. The streets were filled with tourists, street vendors and art/antique peddlers. As we arrived on a Saturday, the whole place is alive with plenty to see, buy and bargain. From our walk around town, we've discovered that the whole place is towered by a chateau which probably dates back to the 12th century.

As we stroll towards the lakeside from the town, we've pass by so many boat service operators along the way! Imagine PD or Cherating beach lined with banana boat, jet ski etc operators. The main difference is that they do boat rides, paddle and row boat rentals. The water level at the lake seems to be at their lowest this time around due to the heat wave I was talking about on my earlier posts. But it was still clean despite the alarming growth of algae in the canals.

Look how serene and peaceful it is!

It was getting pretty hot by the time we stopped for an ice-cream in town after strolling through their gardens at 3pm. It was a pretty amazing garden by the way. The trees are at least more than 10 or 20 years old as some of the branches are tied to the trunks for support. Then I spotted my favourite tree, the Weeping willow tree. This tree has been my favourite since I was a kid. There's something special about this tree. It gives a relaxed, peaceful, softer and kinda romantic mood and look to its surroundings....

Just right after the ice-cream and some window shopping that we decided to get some shut eye back the hotel. While window shopping, we saw a small potted bonsai on a window display. It had a special shape; a ginseng shape! Hubby loves bonsai so we decide to get it. Then right after walking out from the shop, I saw a LNS shop!! I was soo excited to find it even though I wasn't really expecting to find LNS here. The place was called Au Papillon along rue de la Republique. They have stocks from Royal Paris, Marie Coeur, Lanarte etc, etc... I just wish I could stash again this time. But the stern look on my hubby says; "No time lar! You could buy next time!", that makes me think twice....

Including this ice-cream, its been my 3rd so far and will it be the last for me?

I thought that the whole place would be quite by dinner time but how wrong I was! It was even livelier than during the day time with street performers on each street corner. We had ice-cream again right after dinner as they are always selling them in almost every cafés on every street! Ice-cream sellers are doing brisk business here as almost everyone we walk past would be holding a cone or a cup topped up with different flavours. So right after dinner, we went ahead to get some more ice-cream!

The night time secene

Smelly cheese....

The next day was market day on the streets. As we walked down towards the pastry shop to get some croissant, the whole place smelt like horrible cheese! Don't get me wrong, I like cheesee but just not the type that has been moldy and well "aged" ones. The smell was so overwhelming that we almost miss the bakers place! After a fairly quick stop there, we made our way towards the chateau area and had our breakfast there. It was an amazing sight to look at while munching on an orange tart. Crooked houses with red (or moldy) roof tops that seems to be toppling over anytime soon against the massivee alps that seems to go and go.... Th escenery seems to transport me into one of Enid Blyton's stories... ahh... The day dreaming days of just doing nothing but reading! Just that, we'll have to go home after this... How sad. BUt I'm sure we'll take another short weekend trip like this soon!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Of plants and bio control

Recently after having wondering why are the plants on the balcony starting to turn yellow, I just have to find out that this whitish stuff on the leaves. After taking another closer look and checking it out over the internet, that I found out my plants are being "invaded" by insects!! And not only they are infested by 2 species of insects, my poor pandan got the 3rd species and are heavily infested as well. I did some research and found out the names of these nasty bugs. On the pandan its called Mealybugs, on the balcony; Spider mites and Oystershell Scales. Here are some of the sites if you're interested to know more about these pesky bugs:

  • Mealybug:

Picture from From Intergrated Pest Management Bulletiin - IPM of Alaska

  • Spider Mites:

From colodrado State uni - Horticulture

Virginia State Uni - Virginia Poly Tech

  • Oystershell Scale:

The waxy nests of Oystershell scale

On above and below pic: The attack on my balcony plants....

Other bugs indentification sites:

Bio control methods:

  1. Black Ladybug:
  2. Other beneficial insect control:

The use of other bio methods:,1785,HGTV_3580_1397985,00.html

You may want to ask why the sudden interest on bio control. Well first of all, there's been too much use of chemicals in our daily lives. From the food and water we consume to the clothing, make-ups etc we use every other day all contain one way or the other chemicals, harmful when used in high dosage. And mind you, I do find that we've been using too much of them in the past and even now. Its really time to do something different now, not only because of health issues but also to protect our environment.

So now since we're in the month of August, we're all ready to replanted the seeds of chilli padi. Just that I hope that it'll survive the cold winter months of Switzerland in my kitchen! The last winter saw the chilli padi plant withered away.... Now I'm more determined that ever to replanted them again. Why in I leave most of my plants in the kitchen? Its the warmest place in our 1 bedroom apartment; me forever cooking/baking and not forgetting I could close the kitchen door at night to "trap" the heat from the heater in the kitchen area.

Now at our place we have 18 pots of plants including 1 newly acquired bonsai (which I think shaped like a ginseng), the newly replanted chilli padi plant and relocated baby aloe vera. Now that we have greens everywhere and there's no blooming flowers (orchids) yet. Anyways as they say, what's a home without some lovely plants/flowers to greet us? I think the next time we take another vacation trip, I need to get someone (or even pay if necessary) to come water and air out our plants for us! :p

The new "arrivals"

Still a WIP (Work In Progress)....

Yesterday I spent the entire day labeling and wounding all my new "arrivals" from Wednesday. Yes I stash again but this time its just the extra skiens that I'm missing for the next (and the next and the next) project. Well one has to plan ahead right? And to buy in bulk adds to my pleasure of buying and saving up on the postage on eBay!

I haven't been doing a lot of stitching lately due to enemy numero uno; laziness and the heat of summer! When it gets really hot I just don't feel like sitting down to do any stitching much less reading. But I did went to the swimming pool almost everyday. In fact everyone (around my neighbourhood anyways) goes to the pool when its hot. Not to swim but to "bake" themselves! As for me, I've had enough "baking" (Malaysian mar! Who wants to get any darker wor?) and am more interested in the cool refreshing water than the hot, burning deck chair!

Anyways, I still managed to stitch a few grids last night before my eyes goes all watery. Before embarking on this current project, I was confident that I'm going to finish it by end of July. Guess what? I'm finishing it but it just wont be the end of July. Talking about over confidence.... What was I thinking off? Ah... I remember now.... The whole piece wasn't that hard and big to stitch. And besides, I'm going to put in at least 5 hours of stitching time into it everyday (well, every weekday). Well guess that 5 hours turns into 4 and half, then 3 then 2!! I'm very (very) disappointed in myself for letting me fall into the hands of the "enemy" (laziness & heat). Let's just hope that for my next project, it won't turn into a UFO (UnFinished Object)!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In the heat of the day

Its been really really hot lately... It just seems that its never going to end! I've even cross out virtually all afternoon activities unless of course if its related to work or I'm obligated to go out. The mornings are bearable but still warm until it hits 11am! Then the whole place seems to just sizzle till late evening. Even the blowing winds seems to be hot.

These are the times when I miss having marble flooring like we do back home. Good thing is that we've got couple of fan around the house and its well aired here. But then again, whenever I sit down to do my stitching, my a** will be sweating like I'm in a sauna!! That's why whenever I sit to do some reading or stitching I'll be fidgeting and or moving from one place to another; from the sofa to the chair, from the chair to the floor and vise versa. My mum would tell me off: "Tak boleh nak duduk diam ke?". Well, which person would like to sit on their sweaty arse? Not me!

This year's heat wave reminds me about the heat wave on 2003, where we've got thousands dead caused by heat stroke or heart attack etc. This year we've got a few deaths as well but only 8 to 10 persons, mainly old people. Now don't get me wrong, I'm used to having hot temperatures all year long but this is something different. In a hot and dry weather, our bodies tend to "dry" out faster then in a hot and humid weather. By the rate that we're drinking water now, my job as the cook at home has become simpler by the day!! hehehehe... This could be a great time for me to cut back on meat products and sweat off the excess fat no? hehehehe....

Speaking about burning excess fat reserve, my arse is sweating now. Better get off this chair before it burns!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

France vacation - Part II

We'll always queue for this!! Eiffel Tower b night by JM (my BIL)

This post was suppose to be published ages ago but as usual things pop. That's life isn't it? So much more colourful with things "popping up" once in a while (or all the time for some)...

Anyways back to the topic, we didn't only had our vacation at this Centre Park but we went castle and museum visiting as well. First off we went to this newly opened museum in Paris on a Sunday (25/07). Its located on a quay called quay Branly along the Seine river in Paris. Now on this particular Sunday it was raining cats and dogs, so we decided to go to a museum since everything is closed on Sunday (shops I mean) and also to take advantage of a free entrance to this museum (since its newly open to the public).

Look at the line in front of us!!

Then behind us....

As soon as we got to the place there's about 100 or 200 meters long of queue in front of us. So we though, "ok lets wait. May be it won't take us long to get in". But boy how wrong we were!! It took 3 hours waiting in line in rainy and windy condition to get in!! Then on top of that, we've got a typical middle aged French woman behind us talking and criticising non-stop, pushing us and the others with her umbrella (thus making EVERYONE around her wet. Remember, the reason for an umbrella is to keep us a little dry?!, for 3 hours!!! So much as hubby (who's a very patient man) turn back and start giving her a piece of his mind.... But did the lady stop? NO!! So in the end, after having wait in line for almost 2 hours and 45 mins, the guards at the entrance decide to let 40 visitors each 30 mins (since its almost closing time in 2 hours). The reason being so that everyone gets a chance to go in. And when asked why do we have to wait so long? The answer; we have to get the people inside the museum to exit before letting more people in, and btw we can't chase them out. So what happens when they decide this? Remember this silly lady behind us? She starts pushing the people in front (yes us!) hard so that she'll get in as well!! What nerve!! I think the guards didn't let her in since she's the cause of the pushing and rushing everyone. Now I thought we older we are the wiser we get. From this scene we learned that this is not the case on a very typical "kiasu" middle age French women!

Finanlly got in! On the museum grounds...

So back to the museum. Its quite special as they have a showcase of different tribal from different continents, traditional man made structures/costumes/musical instruments/jewelry etc, which is pretty interesting. These artifacts mainly comes from tiny islands on the 7 oceans. But still I find it interesting to not find our Malaysian "orang asli" or hill tribes mentioned/showcased, while tribes from the Indonesia and Vietnam region was mentioned time and time again.... Ya-lah, must promote Malaysia also got tribes-mar to mat salleh! Otherwise we won't be labeled as "Malaysia truly Asia"-lah right? hehehehe...

The fairy tale like Chateau Chambord...

Ok, ok, back to topic. So the castles we went to was in a "department" called Loire-et-Cher. This place is reputed as the country of castles. Well to me, France is a country of castles and not only in 1 particular region! Anyways, we went to Chateau Chambord on 29/07. It was set on the channel and surrounded by a protected forest. In ancient times, this place was a hunting ground for royalty, and it still is until today, minus the royals. Today the entire estate belongs to the state government and they practice controlled hunting organised by the state. On all other times, the forest is guarded by mounted patrol officers and no unauthorised persons are allowed in.

The double spiral staircase

The palace was built on a wood based foundation just like in Venice. The foundation has to be covered in water so that the top part won't topple!! According to the guide (we took a boat guided tour, which took us a few km from the palace ground), the wood will not rot if its submerged in water, which by the way is provided by the channel. And they say Venice is sinking.... The amazing thing about this place is that, there's a "special" staircase design and built (not sure by whom) where if 2 person were to go up or down the stairs, they will not cross each other! The whole area was designed and expanded based on a Greek cross. Ancient times believes, who are we to argue but to be amazed with the architecture they have left with us today? Its still hard to believe that people in the past could built such amazing, creative and beautiful structures with their bare hands and simple mechanics.

The much smaller Chateau Cheverny by Kim (my BIL)

The rich interior of the chateau....

The Chateau Cheverny, the second place we went was also a hunting chateau but a smaller one, reputed to be one of the most well furnished interiors and there's still people (the descendents) living there! Its said to have a stored the Mona Lisa and many other valuable objects of art in the orangery warehouse during WW2 situated on its grounds. Unlike the palace grounds of the UK or Versailles, this place has simple garden with a very big lawn! It feels like we're on a golf course rather than a garden actually. But of course, this is just a palace for hunting, thus has to be very minimal since the owners isn't living there half the time. Since dogs were used for hunting, there's still a number of English Foxhound found at the kennel not far from the main building.

These are real life foxound dogs!
All in all, I can say that this trip we've taken is a cultural awareness trip as a family. I've never seen soo many old paintings, tapestries, armours,"short" royal bedrooms/beds (ancient people are kinda short. Just look at thier beds!), costumes etc in 1 week! But nevertheless its been an enriching experience even with long queues, bickerings, bad and really sunny weather. Although the next time, we'll just walk away from a very long queue. Unless of course if its to the Eiffel Tower!

Monday, July 10, 2006

A family vacation part I

Haven't been meaning to be late to report on the on goings of vacation period. But I can't seem to find the right words to describe and to summarized what I saw and did throughout these 2 weeks. One thing for sure is that we went for a vacation with the rest of his side of the family minus his elder sister number 2 and family (since they're vacationing in China).

Its really no where far from France as my SIL just had her son and is in no shape to travel far. I didn't realize that there's a place called Centre Park, where its like summer camp. I thought summer camps only exist in the States!! But how wrong I was. Anyways, at this place we rented 2 cottage, each with 2 bed rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and the usual furnishing for whole place. The best part is that in each cottage, we have a whirlpool bathtub and a Turkish bath. Now how great its that! Besides this, we got our breakfast delivered to our door step every morning and a barbercue delivered as well...

Hubby enjoying a dip in the whirlpool....

We drove from Paris to Sologne, between Orleanan and Tours at the Loire Valley, which took us 2 hours to arrive. Upon arrival, the reception was packed with traveller just arriving to get check-in on a Monday. Once we're all settled into our own cottages (about 10 mins walk from the reception area) , we went to rent bicycles, which I though its really expensive for 4 and half days cost us Euro 17.- per bike. Then off we went to do some look see around the whole ground.

This place is what we called an enclosed recreationn forest, sort of like Club Med type of thing, except we're surrounded by forest. They've got a indoor water park, an indoor amusement with a bar, children's "play pen" (can we even call this big structure full of plastic balls a play pen?), an extra wing with outdoor "adventure" walk attached, a man made lake for paddle boat and canoeingg, several tennis, badmintonn and basketball courts and last but not least a small "zoo" for the "city"kids ! :) There's also a stable where kids get to ride their first horse or pony (well may be not their first). There's also a spa and wellness centre right next to the indoor water park. We could have got a baby sitter (there's a kids corner and kids club to keep them busy) for our 4 year old nephew but we though might as well have him with us for the fun.... But then again, his uncles had their own "fun" with him more often than taking care of the poor little guy! Boys will be boys won't they?

The poor guy!

I want to ride my bicycle! My bicycle!

Now yours truly is not what we call a sporty type that jogs or play sports every other day, but I managed to beat my BIL in badminton! hehehehe... Will only do or play sports when and where she feels like. Since I'm more of an adventure and thrill seeker, I'd rather go camping in the jungles, water rafting, wild animal watching (imagine safari in south Africa!), cave exploring, bungee jumping*, surf sailing*, sky diving*, paragliding* etc... *Haven't had the chance to do these yet, but I will in the future. *

We went to the water park and I can say that this water park really beat the ones back home! The tobaggon was great! They even have artificial waves, an outdoor jacuzzi and pool, a solarium, indoor rapids and cave. Basically the water temperature is about 29°c whole year round and the place is surrounded by lush greenery and a koi fish pond...

My SIL preparing our "electrical" bbq dinner.... No charcoal bbq allowed here...

Good thing is that this place has its own supermarket and restaurants, otherwise since we're about 1 hour away from the nearest civilization. No doubt prices are little bit expensive when you compare them to the nearest village or town, but when your car is jam packed with kids stuff and your own, there's no way you'll pack your own food.

Beware! This little angle in disguse has some tricks up his sleeves!

What I like about this place is that its self catering, its close to nature (well nearly close enough in terms of European forest setting) and we get to some spent time with family. Speaking about family, the little one is sure jealous of his baby brother! This little guy would scream, run around and create some naughty things to do or say just so that the adults around him will pay some attention.... The things kids do to grab your unbinding attention! :)