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! :)