Eve Of Hari Raya And First Day Of Hari Raya 2017

On the eve of Hari Raya, we had lemang sold by an Indon lady by the roadside.

Lemang is a traditional food made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and salt, cooked in a hollowed bamboo stick lined with banana leaves in order to prevent the rice from sticking to the bamboo. It is commonly found in maritime Southeast Asian countries, especially Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.  Some lemang recipes add corn and some use a mix of white and black glutinous rice. Lemang is usually eaten with chicken curry or beef rendang and sometimes with grilled fish, durian or tapai. Lemang can be found throughout Malaysia especially during the popular Muslim festival of Hari Raya Adilfitri. You can easily notice lemang stalls along the road during during Hari Raya.

I can’t remember when the last time was that we ate lemang.  I had a sudden crave to indulge in lemang when I passed by the stall and saw the familiar Indon makcik tending to her lemang at the fireplace. I made a U-turn and stopped at the stall to get some after the girls concurred with my whimp.  At RM13 for the short bamboo and RM15 for the long one, the lemang that I bought was scrumptious.  The glutinous rice was santany, creamy, slightly salty and the texture of the glutinous was soft and chewy. The rice has a hint of smoky taste coz at the time when we bought the lemang, the lemang-filled bamboos were still being cooked at the fireplace.  Such affordable street food could taste like a thousand dollars. For someone who doesn’t like rice, I kept popping the addictive lemang into my mouth, while being corroded with guilt!

This is how the lemang looks like inside the bamboo, which the seller chopped into half and got it wrapped in newspapers for us to bring back.

I also bought 2 portions of Indonesian style chicken rendang at RM5 a portion to go with the lemang. Alycia who doesn’t like spicy food ate the lemang with my papa’s homemade pandan kaya.

On the first day of Hari Raya, we left the house at 10 a.m. and only got home after 9 p.m.  We were out gallivanting the entire day  with our usual group of buddies and their kids.

We first had dim sum at Jaya Palace, PJ and then adjourned to Sunway Pyramid for a day of shopping, beer and sausages.

I spent hours shopping at H&M with the 2 older girls and here, you see two very happy campers.

Dinner was at a ‘tai chow’ restaurant at PJ State.

Best friends forever – our 3 girls and this group of 5 other kids have been friends with each other since birth. Same age group with similar background. They’ve traveled near and far together umpteen times. May their friendship last forever, just like their parents with the hubs and me, of which we have known each other since we were teenagers.

Grilled stingray fish with sambal and onion dip.

Clockwise: Claypot pork belly with salted fish, braised pork belly with ‘mui choy’, ‘choy po’ omelette and deep fried fish.

Clockwise: Grilled ‘kai yue’ (chicken fish), braised bitter gourd with canned black bean fish and fruit rojak (swoon!).

When we got home at 9-ish p.m., the girls helped to clean up the house whilst I did the laundry. We had to finish all the chores coz we were to meet this same group of friends again at Sunway Pyramid (again!) for ice-skating at 8.30 a.m. the next morning (what, SO early on a holiday!). We were set for another full day jaunting around the next day. The girls couldn’t be happier to spend yet another day with their besties.

 

Why Some People Consider Condominiums Over HDB

Condominiums are a luxury in Singapore and that might be the main reason why people who can afford prefer them to HDB. Even though the properties in Singapore are among the most expensive worldwide, the country has a higher ownership percentage that exceeds 90%. What does that mean? Singaporeans are rich, right? That may be the first assumption considering that the resale HDBs or public housing hit the S$1 million mark recently. Actually, we can attribute the high home-ownership percentage to brilliant retirement-saving systems in the country known as the CPF. The purpose of the systems is to allow Singaporeans become homeowners before their retirement age. The government also offers generous grants.

Homeownership is an aspiration for most Singaporeans. However, they always encounter a dilemma when deciding on whether to buy a HDB or a condominium. To make the best buying decision, you have to consider several factors such as whether you would like to sell the property in the future, the possibility of property appreciation, eligibility, and your lifestyle choice. But why do most Singaporeans prefer condo properties to HDB?

Why some people consider condominiums over HDB?
There is a bigger divide between the private and public housing in Singapore. Around 80% of people renting properties in Singapore live in HDB flats. Therefore, living in a condominium should set you apart from experiencing life in the country as a local. What’s more, the trade-offs are beneficial.

The Housing Development Board (HDB) provides subsidized flats for the Singaporeans. Perhaps, you already know that the renting prices under this category are very high. To get a condominium, you actually need more than SGD1 million. Nevertheless, you should not think that HDB properties in the country are closer to slums or ghetto. Some of the HDB properties are in line with the quality of private condominiums.

A quick example: some HDB flats in the country fall under Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS). Therefore, their interiors match the quality of private condominiums. Executive Condominium (ECs) fall under the “sandwich” HDB flats class but when building them, the private developers ensure that they have amenities associated with private condominiums. You should never assume that life in a HDB is similar to pauper life. Some other factors that influence people when making a choice include:

Convenience to guests
Security in condominiums is closer to that you should expect in airports – you will actually note that at the first time you get into a condominium as a guest. Condominiums developers in the country like installing complex security measures. To access your floor in some condominiums, you will require a key card. People without a key card have to use a specific lift for the unlocking purposes. It can be hard to get into an apartment. Some guests will climb over 22 flights of stairs primarily because they cannot figure out the way to work lifts.

Guests who have to pass the guardhouse should expect harassment with many questions or demand for identification. However, in HDB flats guests can come to your door at any time and knock. Some people do not like guests. If you are one of them, you should make a wise decision.

Accessibility issues
All HDB flats are closer to train stations or bus stops. However, some private condominiums are better accessibility, too. Due to their exclusivity, private developers prefer building condominiums in the lesser busy areas. What’s more, some developers believe that people who can afford to buy condominiums can also afford to drive. It might be hard to understand that because  most people will not be able to afford a vehicle immediately after buying their first property. As a tenant, remember that you might get a living space that is hard to access. If you do not intend to rent vehicles, check the distance between the property you intend to buy and the nearest point for public transport.

Cost factors
Generally, condominiums in Singapore are more expensive than the HDB properties. However, there are exceptions. Some flats in the mature estates have higher rent that matches the non-centrally situated condominiums. People on tighter budgets choose to rent rooms in the HDB flats instead of the condominiums.

Access to the available private facilities
Private condominiums boast pools, private gyms, and spas situated downstairs. Some HDB flats feature the facilities but in public form – for example, pools open to a neighborhood. If you would like to use such amenities, condominiums are a better choice. You should not go for the best air-conditioned gym if you rarely workout. If such facilities are part of your life, you might find it hard to share the facilities in HDB areas.

Exposure to the local culture
Class issues exist in Singapore. Including individuals who grew up in condominiums have different lifestyles and attitudes compared to individuals who grew up in the HDB flats. By staying in any of the two for a particular period, you should understand why. The purpose of HDB flats in Singapore is to encourage communal living. An empty ground floor should not be a big surprise to you. The ground floors have efficiently promoted neighborhood bonding. Furthermore, Singapore has quotas on the number of foreigners may cluster in a HDB area. That is with an aim of breaking up foreigners’ enclave formation.

Actually, HDB flats have facilitated mingling and integration of Singaporeans. Within a few months, you will have developed some local habits including playing caroms or chess, eating in a coffee shop and complaining about anything wrong. If your job requires building stronger networks among the locals or you would like to experience the local culture, HDB flats are a better choice.

On the other side, life in condominiums is different from the traditional life of Singaporeans. Most Singaporeans consider upgrading from HDB flats to condominiums later in their life. In other words, you will not be very detached when living in a condominium. However, when living in a condominium, you will possibly rub shoulders with expatriates and better-heeled Singaporeans. In some condominiums, you will find managers who conduct the communal activities. Tight knit communities in most condominiums will help you mingle with locals.

Real property buyers desire to live a good and more comfortable life. That is why they mostly opt for condominiums in Singapore. You might also need to consider that when making your purchase decision.

Voracious Reader

The other day, Cass and I were discussing an English quiz  question that her English teacher in school gave the class. It was about how a frog died and the pupils had to read a given passage to answer.  The answer from her teacher was: the frog drown.

Cass was very agitated that her answer was wrong and her teacher’s answer that the frog died as it had drown was the correct one. She asked me how could a frog drown when it could live under water. Well, maybe one of these days when I am absolutely free, I’d drop by the school to ask her English teacher. 😬

Me – yes, a frog could live underwater.  How could it die? It’s an amphibia”

Cass – BIAN!!  B I A N!!

Me – yes amphibia

Cass – mum, it’s BIAN. AM-PHI-BIAN ok? Not amphibia. Get it?

Me – oh yes, you’re right, it’s an amphibian. Smart girl! How did you know? You study Science in Chinese in school. How do you know the word amphibian?

Cass – I read it from a book.

Me- ohhhh… that’s why it’s so important to read many books. See, you’re cleverer than me now.

I almost forgot the word is amphiBIAN because I learned Science in Malay and in Malay it is called ‘amfibia’.

Cass is a voracious reader. She reads just about any book and reading material.  The other day, she foraged for old and unwanted books in a box in the storeroom and fished out a book that’s almost 3 decades old!  She is now reading The Oregon Trail and finds it very interesting.

The Oregon Trail is a book that I got as a reward from my school when I obtained 6As in my SRP (equivalent to PMR and PT3 now) when I was 15 years old. That year was 1988. I did not even read the book as I found it too insipid and the words were too small. I’ve never liked any book with super small prints.

The Oregon Trail is the gripping account of Francis Parkman’s journey west across North America in 1846. After crossing the Allegheny Mountains by coach and continuing by boat and wagon to Westport, Missouri, he set out with three companions on a horseback journey that would ultimately take him over two thousand miles.

My 9-year old girl likes stories like this. Wow!

Old is gold – my prized gift from my alma mater 💝

And my reward from my dearest papa for getting 6As was my dream mini compo 😀

She even hijacked my book on the autobiography of Olivia Newton John.

 

Cass Cooks

For the first time, Cass cooked something. It’s something that I rarely buy though everyone loves it!  She cooked instant noodles!  It’s for her dearest daddy on Father’s Day 💓 Her daddy bought the Korean noodles, which are his favorite junk food for movie nights at home, which he will indulge in whenever the moon turns blue.

After a very simple dinner at home on Father’s Day, the hubs said that he was still hungry! He asked who would cook him some instant noodles with eggs and just like a reflex action following the question, Cass sprung out from her chair and said “ME ME ME!” and then darted to the kitchen, bursting with enthusiasm to help.   With help from her daddy, she cooked the noodles and eggs. When the noodles were ready, her two sisters (though very full from dinner) scuttled to the kitchen to get bowls and helped themselves to the noodles. This happens ALL THE TIME whenever the hubs cooks instant noodles. To the girls, instant noodles are like the most rarest and tastiest food ever served to them. Instant noodles taste like a million dollars to them.  Thus, the hubs would always cook 2 packets of noodles with 5 eggs and share them with his Charlie’s Angels. Everyone would chow down every single strand of noodles and be as happy as a pig in mud, with someone looking quite like one too 😂 The sight of the four of them seated in front of the TV enjoying a movie and slurping their noodles warms the cockles of my heart.💓

Smoothie Of The Day – 16 June 2017

I have not prepped fruit smoothie for the girls for a long time.  Today I decided to make mulberry smoothie since there’s a box of organic mulberries left sitting in the fridge for almost a week.  I know that the girls will be delighted to find chilled smoothie in the fridge when they get home in a bit. I love to hear them rejoice to a “YAY!!” when they come home to find surprises awaiting them.

Mulberries are filled with nutrients that are important for our body, including iron, riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium, as well as a significant amount of dietary fiber and a wide range of organic compounds, including phytonutrients, zea-xanthin, resveratrol, anthocyanins, lutein, and various other polyphenolic compounds.

My mulberry smoothie composes of mulberries, 3 oranges, 1 pear, juice of 1 lemon, raw honey and water and all these yield 1.2 liters of smoothie.

 

Our Mid-Term School Holidays

For the first time in many years, we didn’t bring our girls anywhere for a holiday during the mid term school holidays which ended yesterday. We were supposed to join our usual group of buddies and their kids on a boat-stay at a river in Grik, Perak but had to cancel our plan because of my operation.

On the first three days of the school holidays, our ‘staycation’ was at the hospital. But our girls didn’t complain one bit. When I asked them if this was the most unhappening and boring school holiday, Drama Queen quipped that she still enjoyed the school holidays as never in her life before did she have the opportunity to drink a total of 3 cups of frappuccino for 3 days consecutively  at Starbucks 😎 Each cup cost RM15. We don’t normally splurge on gourmet drinks and beverages on our girls, except for the occasional fruit juice and smoothies at Boost Juice.  The hospital (Sunway Medical Center) was like a luxury hotel to the girls. They had their meals at Starbucks and O’Brien Sandwich and had access to free WiFi at the hospital for 3 days.

Two weeks after my surgery, we went for a brief shopping trip at Mid Valley Megamall to get new school shoes for the girls. I did some shopping at Daiso. I had 3 personal helpers to help me carry my shopping loot 😍

On Sunday (14 days after my surgery), I am finally all better and felt very much like myself again. The three holes on my lower abdomen and the sutures have dried up. Cass was begging me to bring her down to play at the playground. She wanted to play with the two stray cats at our condo. I have not smelled fresh outdoor air for two weeks and was also raring to start exercising once again. We went for a leisurely evening walk at 7:30 p.m.. I missed my daily exercise regimen and breathing in fresh outdoor air so much.

 

For once, I really enjoyed my walk with the girls at the walking tracks. The smell of the trees, frangipani flowers, the jungle reserve next to our condo and the cool evening breeze was truly invigorating.  Today the new school term commences. I started my early morning exercise again today, albeit with only walking and nothing strenuous.  When I reconnected with nature after a 2-week absence from the walking tracks, it felt like two lovers reuniting after a long absence from each other 💕

 

Video Calls Bonding

After having my parents around for a week, Cass misses her koong koong and granny very much. Yesterday she made a Whatsapp video call to her grandparents in Ipoh and spent a whole half hour talking to them and playing the piano to entertain them.

Yesterday Cass’ piano teacher told me that Cass will be ready to sit for the Grade 1  ABRSM exam next year.  When I first sent Cass to Yamaha to learn piano 2.5 years ago, I did not have intention to let her sit for any exam.  I just wanted to instill the love of music and piano in Cass. I wanted her to play the piano as a hobby.  Practising the same exam pieces every day on end for months was such a bore for me, not to mention the anxiety of sitting for the exams. In those days, the examiners were flown in from England and I’d get really nervous talking to them.

I’m having a change of mind now.  I’ll let her Cass go through the exams leisurely at her pace with no pressure. If she has the talent, I believe that she’ll breeze through all 8 grades and hopefully even the Diploma. I think it’s good that Cass has a backup skill in life which can be a golden ticket to help her earn a living 😉

Cass at 9 years 2 months

Post Laproscopic Myomectomy Surgery

I got my period yesterday – 9 days after the laproscopic myomectomy surgery.  My surgeon had warned me that the flow will be very heavy  this time but subsequent periods will see a normal flow.  Though my Aunt Flow is quite heavy this time, it pales in comparison with the periods I’ve had during my fibroid days. There are no ‘feels like dying’ abdomen cramps and no chunks of blood clots. Thank you God! I pray that period cramps, blood clots and super heavy flows will be behind me now.

I am still pretty much holed up at home, except for brief trips to the coffee shop for breakfast and supermarket to get groceries. I have been enamored with love from my papa, mum and mil with lots of TLC and yummiest home-cooked confinement-like dishes. I am having such a cushy life now, with nice meals served to me and not having to do much of house chores.  All these will come to an end soon when the mil goes to Hawaii early next month, for a whole month. That’s when I have to take over the kitchen and the girls’ meals everyday *gasp*

The typical meals that I would have each day ever since I was discharged from the hospital 9 days ago consist of rice wine chicken with ginger and wood ear fungus (I can never get bored of this confinement dish), mugwort omelette with ginger strips, boiled red dates + black dates + tong sum tonic, double boiled chicken essence (2-3 times a week), lots of meat and lots of green vegetables. Pretty much like confinement dishes. Each time I pour out the warm red dates tonic from a flask, it reminds me of my confinement days.


Chicken cooked with rice wine and ginger wine, ginger and wood ear fungus strips, fried fish, stir-fried red spinach and blanched ladies fingers.


Sauteed young lotus root with pulled pork, char siew and roast duck.

I didn’t touch any of the duck though as it’s considered a ‘tuk’ (poisonous) food for the Chinese and I don’t fancy eating duck anyway.


White bitter gourd omelette with homegrown basil leaves and fried fish.

Have you ever seen white bitter gourd? It looks like an albino bitter gourd to me 😁.. but it tastes like the regular green ones. Bitter gourds / melons are superfood. They kill cancer cells, prevent gout, diabetes and have a whole lot more of health benefits.


Minced ginger (with skin) + sesame seed oil omelette and blanched ladies fingers with roast sesame seed dressing.


Steamed brinjal with fried garlic oil and soy sauce. This dish is SO easy to prepare and insanely addictive.


Onion omelette, sauteed siew yoke and roast chicken (leftover) with ginger, garlic, sugar, wine and soy sauce.

With SO MUCH ginger, wine and meat that I eat everyday with no exercise, I am surprised that I am not feeling heaty. Must be the Izumio that I am drinking that’s helping to cool down my body. The weather these days is crazy. I am sweating buckets everyday and need the ceiling fan and stand fan blowing at me at full blast and yet need at least 3 showers a day. I don’t even need to cover my body with a blanket in an air conditioned room at night.  Can’t wait to rest for another 2 weeks before I start swimming and running again!

Post Surgery Restaurant Meal

Yesterday was the first time I got out of the house to have a meal after my surgery six days ago. We had dim sum brunch at Jaya Palace.  The hubster ordered an array of 24 types of delectable dim sum.  The brunch was for a 2-in-1 occasion: farewell to my parents who were to return to Ipoh after a week’s stay in KL to nurse me back to health and a celebration for an all-clear biopsy report, YES!! 💟💝  Thank you Lord!💗

We had the usual must-have dim sum items like char siew pau, siew mai, fish balls, egg tarts, cheong fun, et al.  I was especially happy that my favorite black vinegar trotters and rice wine chicken were available and ordered a bowl each *swoon*

My health is going from strength to strength each day with my papa and mil’s nourishing dishes and my mum’s tender loving care. I am prohibited from squatting down, driving and carrying heavy things, just like a lady in confinement after the birth of a baby. I am even asked to bed-rest but for someone who is so used to a super hectic day, I would go berserk having to lie down all day for a whole freaking month like an invalid!  I feel so much more energetic supervising my kids in the chores and working at my computer vs. sleeping and laying in bed all day.  My mum is very worried that the stitches in my uterus will rupture when I exert myself as that was what happened to her after a surgery of her breast some 30+ years ago. The sutures on her breast ruptured when she sneezed and omg, it was such a bloody sight. I still remember that night very vividly. I was 12 (Drama Queen’s age now) that year.

The 2 ‘chan ka’ cooking up a storm to nurse me back to health.  

I am indeed blessed to be pampered by so many people. 💕💖

Our Saturday Morning – 3 June 2017

My parents, hubster and MIL left the house at 6:30 a.m. today for the Taman Midah, Cheras wet market. My aunt (my papa’s sister) runs a vegetarian food stall at the said wet market. Today, their mission is to try my aunt’s homemade vegetarian food.  My aunt has been making her own vegetarian food and selling them at a stall at the Taman Midah, Cheras wet market for over 20 years.

Our brunch today is a kaleidoscope of colour. I love all things colorful.


Mock meat rendang, which tastes as good as, if not even better than real meat. Yums, tastes like a million dollars!


Vegetarian ‘Suen Poon Chi’ or Hakka Yam Balls made by my aunt, who is a Hakka.

The chewy ‘Suen Poon Chi’ is another must-try dish at my aunt’s vegetarian stall; she doesn’t make this dish everyday though.

Vegetarian ‘Mee Siam’ and ‘Char Siew’.  


‘Ka Heong Jai’, braised super smooth mushrooms with mock meat and deep fried mock goose.

Vegetarian cheong fun (with turnip and carrot strips), ‘choy po ko’ and ‘mei tau’ (black eye peas) cake. My aunt makes all the dishes herself in her humble home.

Since they were already in Cheras, at my request, the hubster used Waze to find his way to the Cute Cute Angku shop to get me more cutesy handcrafted angku 😋

 


Yummy pork balls noodles soup

A big portion of pork ball noodles for lunch later

My parents will be with us for another day before they return to Ipoh. I’ll definitely miss them a lot. 💔  I’m feeling disappointed that this mid-term school holidays, we are unable to make a trip back to my lovely hometown of Ipoh 😓