Cameron Highlands Tea Plantation, Malaysia

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

As the year ends, I find myself looking back at 2008 and taking account of everything that had happened. There are times when we may find ourselves facing certain upturns and downturns in our lives but that's what makes it memorable.

At the start of the New Year, it's quite the norm to make resolutions and I hope 2009 will be a better year - financially, mentally and physically. I remember vividly over some resolutions I made last year but unfortunately, I haven't been able to fulfill them. More often, my resolutions will either be broken, forgotten, or easily ignored. :D Perhaps I'll simply continue from where I left off. As everyone is also keeping an eye on the economy, the best way is to buy only the essentials, spend wisely and try to resist indulging in an expensive lifestyle. I understand that it's easier said than done for some people. If credit cards are in hand, would you care about temptations or affordability? Whatever it is, let's put our worries aside and be happy celebrating life towards the New Year.

Above all, may 2009 bring prosperity, peace, fun and a better sense in money management for all of us. To those people who are getting ready to rock and roll at countdown parties tonight, be good, be safe and take care throughout the joyous celebrations.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blog Awards Galore

Just as Christmas is a time for great cheer, as well as for giving and receiving, I believe it is also a season of awards for the blogosphere. With that in mind, I have several awards to hand out today. I apologize this has been posted thus late but it's better late than never. :D I have many wonderful inspiring blogging friends and I'm so flattered to receive the following awards from a few of them!!

This is my first ever award for this blog. Thanks to Foong

Thanks to Monica and Kriscell

Thanks again to Monica

Thanks to Kriscell

All awards are special and meaningful to me. So now, I have to pass these on to other fabulous bloggers to honour them for their truly inspiring posts that delight their readers. By chance, should any of you have already received these awards, you may keep them for your keepsake. No worries, I'll not take it personally if you have no intention to pass these awards to the others.

Eastcoastlife, Monica, Foong, Molly, Mariuca, Lina, Buzzing J, Nick Phillips, Johnny Ong, Azlan, Kriscell, Justin, Jenn, Chin Weng, Tz and Tracy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from Life Ramblings

It's Christmas eve and shopping malls, hotels and not to mention, homes of Christians are aglow with Christmas trees, lightings and colorful decorations while Santa Clauses and Santarinas are out at the malls to rope in the crowd.

Times have somehow changed this year and Christmas won't be the same. As I walked around KL, I couldn't help, if not everyone, pondered about the tough times and uncertainties ahead. Despite the bleak economy, let us try hard to enjoy this festivity with one another and embrace and reminisce the good old times. After all, life is about moving on, preparing for each day and make the most of what we have. The power is always in our hands.

With this festive season, everyone is trying to come up with the most impressive Christmas decorations.

Red Christmas at Sunway Pyramid old wing.

In the spirit of Christmas, shoppers were being entertained by the festive tunes at Sunway Pyramid

Beautifully decorated Christmas tree at Pyramid Tower Hotel

The lightings and decorations at Pavillion

Pavillion has a white sparkling mediocre Christmas tree outside their front entrance

another shot from the inside view

In honour of this joyous festival, I thought I would share one of my favourite Chrismas songs by Christina Aguilera for your pleasure.

Here's wishing all my readers and friends out there a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year. May God bless you with peace, joy and prosperity.

Wordless Wednesday - Too cute for words

For this week's Wordless Wednesday, I have my little girl in different versions of Photofunia.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tong Yuen Festival

Today is Dong Zhi, which marks the Winter Solstice, according to the chinese calender. Dong Zhi is the time for family to get together to make tong yuen. Traditionally, Tong Yuen is served on special occasions such as during weddings and the winter solstice festival about 6 weeks before the Chinese New Year. This special occasion is widely celebrated by the Chinese community all around the globe where family and relatives would gather for reunion to mark this significant festivity.

Basically, Tong yuen is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour. Just like the past, my kids and I would gather with my mom and we would make the rice balls one by one from the glutinous dough prepared. If you're too lazy to roll the rice balls, the coloured balls can be easily obtained in wet markets or hypermarkets. Despite all these conveniences, nothing beats making it from scratch, with kids gathered together and helping out to learn the art of rolling tong yuen .

The whole affair can be a joyous and fun experience that they will remember always, and hopefully pass on to another generation. They enjoy doing it but will turn the whole house upside down with small piles of flour scattered on the floor, dough on the wall, colours on each other’s faces and practically everything else in the house. LOL!

There you go, a bowl of colourful Tong Yuen or Glutinous Rice Balls in Pandan flavoured ginger syrup. Some of the common used colours are white and pink but this year my mom create multiple colours which include green (extracted from pandan leaves), blue (extracted from blue pea flowers a.k.a bunga telang) and maroon (extracted from dragon fruit).

Hurray for Dong Zhi!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

School bags are a pain in the back

How time flies! The new school semester will start in 2 weeks' time. As school begins, the perennial issue of heavy school bags crops up again. I often noticed heroic pupils on their way to and from school battling with huge overloaded school bags. The bags outsized some of the poor little children. It's total madness. That in turn puts more stress on the rest of the body, regardless they are moving or at rest.

Owing to the weight of the books, most parents are now buying bags that equipped with rollers. Even though roller bags are widely used, they are way too heavy and impractical for little ones to navigate along stairways. Can you imagine the weight the children have to carry when climbing the steps to their classrooms? At times, they would go off balance when they have to drag them over drains, steps or uneven surfaces too. How downright pathetic!

Due to the heavy amount of materials my kids had to carry to school, I had to purchase two school bags each for my kids, the one with rollers and another backpack to ease their burden. When it comes to buying school bags, I often choose the ones with good qualities even if it is a little pricey. This is due to the fact that such quality bags offer better strength and durability.

In the good old days, I didn’t have to endure such heavy bags. Sadly, school bags have increased in size over the past few years as students' lives these days are more preoccupied with activities, both in and after school. And there are just way too many books in the syllabus. Some subjects, require five or six exercise books alone, excluding the textbooks. Maybe our minister thinks that if you carry more books, you are more brainy. DUH!

With the heavy loads of school bags our poor little ones have to carry to school these days, it's only a matter of time before we get a generation of hunchbacks with badly formed postures.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordful/ Wordless Wednesday - Shah Alam

A journey last week to visit my home from the past led to a trip down memory lane, reliving great moments of my wonderful childhood in Shah Alam that I grew up in. As it turned out, most of my nostalgic feelings were centered around the memories, people, experiences, life that I had and not to mention, the exotic food.

This is where we used to live before we moved out over a decade ago

The main highlight of visiting Shah Alam was to do the last bit of maintenance and upkeeping of our old house to make the home as worry free as possible. Our beautiful home is currently sitting empty. The house has been on rental market for a few days and our real estate agent has been getting a lot of inquiries. My dad actually have a few prospects of his own and someone is coming to see the house in a few days. Our delightful tenants who were so good about paying their rental, all of a sudden fell on tough times. But thank goodness, throughout all these years, it's been such a blessing our rental house made a profit. That's because it resides in a popular neighborhood for shopping, dining and conducting religious practice within the vicinity.

There are many wonderful places to explore here in Shah Alam but somehow, we only managed to visit the beautiful Blue Mosque and the captivating Lake Garden.

It is the country's biggest mosque and also the second biggest mosque in Southeast Asia after Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indones. Non-muslims are allowed to enter the compound of the mosque but not the main prayer hall.

the blue aluminium dome covered in verses from the Quran

Some pictures at the lake garden with the Blue Mosque in the background

an amazing landscape garden, this man-made lake graces the Shah Alam town. It is an ideal spot for picnics, jogging or recreational activities

this is my little girl happily striking some poses at the Lake Garden

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!

Today marks a significant day for me as it's my birthday. That's right, another year has come and gone. Another year older, but definitely not wiser. Sigh.......As I grow older, my memory fails, my reactions deteriorate and the careless mistakes that I make become more regular. hehehe.........where birthday is concerned, mine has always been celebrated in a small scale basis. I'm not a materialistic person in the first place and I have very simple tastes in life. I've always like a fairly low-key celebration but seriously, I wouldn't have it in any other way. :-) It has been such a blessing to share fun, laughter and joy with family and friends. These are the gifts I live for everyday.

Do I smell birthday cake? Yup, hubby bought this for my b-day, a day earlier but that's perfectly ok. It's a fruit cake filled with you know, GOOD STUFF. Sinfully cool but delicious.

Incidentally, this month also marks the 13th anniversary of our marriage. It's been an amazing journey so far. We've been through a lot of upturns and downturns in life, difficult circumstances that has risen within our extended families, all kinds of unexpected situations. Despite all the obstacles that we had encountered, we are very much attached and leading a blissful life. We are thankful to have 3 healthy and crazy kids who bring us so much happiness, and a joyful extended family. I believe a woman needs to be understanding and supportive to be a good wife and mother. Apart from that, motherhood has taught me patience and to be more imaginative. So, here's many more wonderful years to come and stay.

Since it's my birthday, I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs of all time to spice up the occasion. It's Level 42's Something about You. I used to love that song and I still do. Infact, the music from the 80's and 90's brought back good memories.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Buddhist Cave Temples in Ipoh

I've been to Ipoh a few times but somehow I never got to see the place. There are so many great places to explore here but due to time constraints, we only had a brief stop at Ipoh. Incase you don't know, Ipoh is the hometown of the popular international actress Michelle Yeoh and this is also the place where the movie "Anna and the King" was filmed.

She's cool and kicks ass

Anyway, let's get back to what I really want to share with you which is Ipoh's hidden treasures. Yeah, you heard me! You must be wondering what kind of hidden treasures? LOL! Mind you, it has got nothing to do with some diamonds or gold mines or any national treasures. hehe ...Let me just say, Ipoh is undoubtedly a treasure house of magnificent caves. Most of the hills around Ipoh are limestone hills, many of them with unique caves. So, some of the cave temples that I've visited include Kek Long Tong (Cavern of Ultimate Bliss), Sam Poh Tong(Cavern of the Triple Gems) and Ling Sen Tong. "Tong" literally means 'cave' in Chinese.

Kek Lok Tong is a cave temple that lies on the other side of the same limestone hill as Sam Poh Tong. It is somewhat cleaner, quieter and more cooling environment and has the awesome scenic view from the cave.
The inner part of the cave is very huge and the limestone formation is awesome.

The cave temple houses many impressive buddhist statues and deities

the exit of the cave

The landscape garden outside of the cave is really pristine and breathtaking.

This is Sam Poh Tong entrance. It is said to be the biggest cave temple in the country.

It's one of the famous caves in Ipoh

Centre of the cave

some of the great landscapes around the surrounding.

Sam Poh Tong’s popular attraction is the semi-circular tortoise pond where there are hundreds of tortoises (a symbol of longevity) of various sizes. Visitors can feed tortoises with stalks of vegetables.

The front section of the colourful temple is attractively adorned with mesmerising wonders of Buddha and deities as well as dragons and other mythical figures, which make it a wonderful place to take pictures.