Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cooker Hob + Hood

KS and I have been visiting a couple of Home Fairs that run aplenty in the Klang Valley to get ideas and inspiration. Last weekend, we went to the one at Mid Valley Megamall and decided we had to go there with a purpose since we’re running out of time.

Our goal was to buy a cooker hood and hob. While I wanted to buy an electric stove to eliminate the need for allocating a cupboard for the gas tank, an electric stove would have set us back by about RM3,000. So we decided to check out the safe brand, Fujioh.

A lower range hood and hob was on promotion for about RM4,000 but from experience, the hob doesn’t really endure heat with the beautiful silver paint around the fire would peel off to reveal an ugly metal colour beneath just after one year of frequent use. When I mentioned this to the sales guy, he pointed out it wouldn’t affect the cooking but in that case, why paint it with such poor quality?

We walked around and were struck by the design of another brand. Lebensstil. I’ve heard of it but don’t know much about this brand. A hob and hood only cost RM2,699! And since we liked the design and don’t cook much, we just went ahead and bought it!

Now as I try to find reviews on this, I can’t find any! Gulp! Ok, I’ll review it when I start using it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Great Muffins!

When it comes to making muffins, the only muffins I’ve ever made are chocolate chip ones as I don’t fancy berries of any sort. And I’ve made a bit too many choc chip muffins that I’m so sick of the recipe and it doesn’t taste as good anymore.

However, all things changed when I saw this recipe from KarenCheng on a Pear, Walnut and Maple Muffin. I liked all the ingredients and although I haven’t tried eating anything similar before, I finally decided to gather the ingredients and squeezed a bit of time over the weekend to make them.

The pure maple syrup made these muffins the most expensive I’ve ever made. Still, I do believe it made a whole load of difference. As soon as it came out of the oven, I was still skeptical and wanted to get KS to be the guinea pig. I took a bite before handing it to him and ended up having to give him his own. It was gooooood!

Even warmed up in the microwave after two days, it still tasted good. Definitely something to make again! Copied from Karen’s blog, I followed this to the t except for the pears. Even doubling the recipe required only one huge pear instead of four small ones.

Pear, Walnut and Maple Muffins
1 ½ cups self raising flour
½ teaspoon of baking power
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
60g butter, melted
½ cup of pure maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk
2 small pears, cored and diced
½ cup walnuts, chopped

1. Line a muffin pan with 10 paper cases.
2. Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a mixing bowl. Add maple syrup, butter, egg and milk, and stir until just combined.
3. Mix pear and walnuts into the mixture.
4. Spoon into prepared pans and bake in a moderate oven 180C for 25 minutes or until cooked when tested.

Try it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Earth Hour

So last weekend many folks around the world observed Earth Hour by switching off all lights. Last year, the media went wild with stories of what people were planning to do, which businesses were going to observe it. Everyone got excited, everyone wanted to “do the right thing”. The days after, the papers raved about how many lights were switched off, who did it and so on.

However, has that changed anyone’s perception towards saving the earth in general? I don’t know. I admit I’m skeptical. During the hottest days of the last couple of months, what did most people do? Go out and buy air conds to let it run the entire day for the entire house. TNB mentioned the spike in usage during those days.

It feels a bit strange to have an Earth Hour of something that should be incorporated into our daily lives. Switch off the lights when you’re not using, shut off the taps when you’re brushing your teeth (I know some people who actually let it run while they scrub their teeth). Like having a “Sleep for 8 hours Day” or a “Remember to Brush Your Teeth Day”.

I suppose it’s too much to ask for someone to install a good insulation for their houses or to start planting trees/plants (for future) to cool their houses. Most houses now do not even have a garden to plant anything. So what choice do we have?

Perhaps more awareness needs to be done on what else we need to do in our daily lives to help save the planet rather than focusing on Earth Hour alone. And also the government needs to advocate bringing in technologies that are already used in other countries to harness sunlight, wind and rain collection for home.

I’m glad we already have a solar water heater for my new place. We’re also looking into various insulations for the house. To our surprise (and suspicion), we have been quoted about RM2,000 to RM3,000 to insulate our house including installation. Maybe we should see how to collect rainwater to be used for flushing toilets and how much does it cost to install solar panels for electricity.

It costs a RM66,000 minimum to install the solar panels for electricity. The rainwater harvesting is about RM5,000 but it's horribly ugly. Doesn't seem very appealing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Extolling Our Connectivity

Being alive in this era is simply great. The internet has really helped us find and connect people whom we never knew existed (new found relatives) or friends who we have lost contact over the decades.

I’ve completed the family tree on but since it’s not very user friendly, I’m on the lookout for something less complicated. Hopefully my new found auntie is able to update more on her side of the family. With this, we hope to reconnect and meet during festivals and other celebrations.

I’ve also just reconnected with some old friends and it’s great to see how time has almost stood still for them. They still look the same and it’s great to see their families and kids now. Despite being in a different country, we can still chat and catch up with each other easily.

Anyway. Just appreciating the technology we're weaving into our lives.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Peaceful Passing

Over the last couple of months, my grandma was having health problems one after another. It came to a point that she could hardly walk or sit for too long. Because the house she lives in is rather non conducive for a wheelchair bound person, she knew she was starting to be a burden to my uncle's family as they tried to shower her and bring her to the toilet on a daily basis. So she requested to be shifted to a nearby nursing home beside a hospital.

My cousins cried and tried to make her change her mind but she was determined. They knew she would never return.

Sure enough, within a few weeks of being in the nursing home, she vomited blood last Thursday and had to be sent into surgery on Friday. She was given 6 pints of blood and we were all rallying up the cousins to see who could give blood to make the replacements. I volunteered, knowing at some point this year that I would be giving, never realizing how bittersweet this time around would be.

So yesterday, we went to the hospital where she lay in ICU. I went to say hello to her and she was quite animated, waving as I made my leave to go to the blood bank, not realizing that it would be the final goodbye. I mean, how long does a blood extraction take?

While the blood was still draining from our veins, my uncle stepped in and simply told us, "Ama has passed on". The remaining blood trickling out seemed so futile. But I just saw her and she looked fine!

Later I was told she just went very peacefully, as Jan was praying for her with my mum. She gave consent for Jan to pray for her and had her gaze fixed upon her. Her half opened eyes glazed, according to my mum, but other than that, there was no other indication until the nurse came by to administer medication. Jan didn't even realize why the nurse was gently shaking her calling, "Ah Po, Ah Po..." before other nurses rushed over with oxygen tanks and ushered Jan and mum out of the ICU. Shortly after, the doctor came to inform them that they couldn't revive her.

This grandma was the last remaining grandparent we have. She was the matriarch of the family of six children, 12 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren. Unlike my grandpa who came from China, she was born in Malaysia and apparently met my grandpa during the Japanese occupation as they escaped into the jungles. Dad says she used to help them in Maths homework and was very good at it.

My relatives who have been staying her her have been amazing. They've taken care of both my grandparents and even when my grandpa was in the nursing home in PJ during his last days, my uncle would travel all the way from KL every single day after work to sit with him. They gave their best in giving grandma all the comfort and accommodation they could. It's not easy yet they endured and gave them love until the end.

Thank you God, for a peaceful passing and that she was surrounded by loved ones.

Photo taken with Ama some time last year in July when Grace came to visit. The rest are photos I took from the funeral.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Gadget Test!

Okay, so I'm most likely not the best person to do a gadget review since I know nuts about this Nexus phone. It's the first time I've heard of an Android (and still don't know what it means!) plus I've never used a touch screen before so the transition isn't easy. But I've been loaned a unit to test it out and here are my views so far.

Firstly, I find that the screen is not so receptive. I have to press fairly firmly and with a certain timing to ensure the selection is made. It's especially difficult when I'm using one hand (while waiting at traffic lights).

The keyboard took getting used to (and I realise typing two finger on a qwerty keyboard is not easy since I'm a touch typist. I never know where the alphabets are!) but I think I'm getting there.

Then, I can't seem to find the applications. With iPhone it was so much easier to download on the Apps Store. Somehow, despite a Sim card with internet connection enabled, I wasn't even able to go into my Gmail. Oh well, maybe I just don't know how to set it up properly.

The sound and camera cannot match my Sony Ericsson. Sorry. Would I buy this? No. I'm just not tech savvy enough. But given the choice, I'd go for an iPhone or back to a Sony Ericsson if my existing one dies :)

Still, this phone has that cool factor and I'm going to be totally girl and say I like the cover with the cute robot design. Uh oh, I don't think I'll get another gadget with this kind of review!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Lazing in Langkawi

For our 5th wedding anniversary, KS organized a trip to Langkawi. The last time both of us were there was at least 12 years ago, when we still haven't met each other. So off we went via Firefly. This is the first time we're sitting on the low cost airline by MAS. The good thing about it is that it leaves from Subang Airport, which is such a relief compared to travelling an hour to KLIA.

The last time I flew from this airport was when I flew off to NZ back in 1995. They've spruced up the place and was recently relaunched. Check out the glittering lights on the ceiling! I must say it looks quite nice.

Now Firefly is not an airline for the weak at heart or for those with flying phobia. This was our plane. I think I only see these sort of planes in old movies and they're still operating commercially today.

Upon take-off, the plane wobbled causing me to grip the armrest and look worriedly at KS. However, the calm expression on the young air stewardess indicated that this was perfectly normal and that I'd make it alive.

The seats are designated, so you don't have to rush in and bag your seats like AirAsia, check in luggage is also a given and they actually served us some muffins and a drink for the hour flight! Impressed!

Anyway, enough about the flight, Langkawi is... still the same. The only addition is a cable car on the west side of the island which carries you right to the peak of over 700m above sea level. Also worth mentioning is that there's a Segway ride there for only RM17 for about 10 mins. We saw this in Paris at Versailles and no, it didn't cost RM17. So if you wanna try out Segway, this might be the cheapest place to try it out. We also bumped into Kin Hup's father at the cable car who was taking some foreign guests around, what a coincidence!

Other than that would be the duty free shopping, which, if you're not into drinking or smoking, is a terrible waste.

We stayed at Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort and was given a luxurious room in a chalet. It was really lovely and comfy. I read an entire book snuggled in bed that weekend. Bliss!

Each chalet accommodates about 4 rooms and they are scattered randomly. We had to call a buggy to pick us whenever we wanted to leave the room. The first day we thought we'd just walk around since it looked fairly close on the map. However, the little hills and valleys and us constantly getting lost since there were no signages left us calling the buggy thereafter.

Part of our package included an hour Balinese spa at their attached spa, Mandara. Very very nice...

We got a little addicted so we tried out another spa in Kuah town, Wu Senses. While Wu Senses was good, we felt a little bit exposed as we had to totally strip without any disposable underwear. So, this place is not for the shy. Either that or it was because we took the body scrub package. But still, I've been to one which did a body scrub with a disposable.

Oh, while waiting for our room to be ready, we went to one of their restaurants and had this Malaysia Pizza. When it came, it looked like a glorified karipap. And the filling was of curry chicken and potatoes. So yeah, a glorified (and pricey!) curry puff. Still, it met our immediate hunger.

For this trip, I'm so proud of KS for organizing everything. It was a relaxing weekend, comfy room unlike the backpackers we always stay in when we travel. His only request was that I was not to ask how much it cost since I like to find travel bargains. Thanks, honey! *muah*