Random Updates – 22 Jan 2020

My luck seems to be going up and down like a roller coaster. Just last week, the stars seemed to be aligned for me. I dodged two bullets, two days in a row!   On the first day, I had parked my car and was about to walk to pay at the parking machine when I saw a DBKL officer who was a few cars behind me who didn’t see me. Thank goodness I saw him, else he would have issued me a ticket when I walked to the parking machine. I quickly paced to him to tell him that I was about to pay and told him not to issue me with a ticket.  On the second day, I had double parked for less than 5 minutes right outside a pharmacy to help the mil get an item in a jiffy. When I got out, I saw a DBKL officer who was a split second away from clicking on this camera to snap a picture of my car number plate before I stopped him on the tracks 😅

But this week has been bumpy for me. Things have not been going too smoothly the way I wanted them to be. My emotions  have been running high (no thanks to some unreasonable people who keep driving me potty!) and with wires getting crossed with them. And when your emotions are in a mess, you tend to run into deeper shit with the same people, which make things all mangled up and even more shitty.  Then it struck me that I had to collect my wits and sort out my emotions rationally, take deep breaths and pray. Glad that all’s well again now and I’m looking forward to our yearly pilgrimage back to our hometown tomorrow to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family.  Bring on the traffic jam. I think I’ll need to strap on a diaper to avoid the crazy queues at the rest and relax toilets 🤫

Alycia helping grandma decorate the house. The mil hardly spends her time in KL during CNY. She’d normally be in Hong Kong and traveling to Japan. This is one of the rare years that she’s around during CNY.

This new pup at the pet shop is my latest stress buster. It’s been at the pet shop for almost a month and I want to own it so badly!  I can feel my stress melt away just by looking at this super duper adorable pup. Whenever I’m upset and stressed up, Cass would ask me to visualize this pup  😆Do you know what breed of dog it is?

We had our second loh sang of the year at Restoran Pik Wah (MABA) last Sunday, just the four of us. Alycia was out shopping with her friends and Sherilyn had to attend at PT3 seminar at University Malaya.  Hubs seems to be crazy over loh sang this year. Perhaps he’s hankering for more good fortune and moolah going into his bank accounts.🤑

Sharks fins soup

Braised herbal chicken with fried wanton. An odd and never-heard-of combo but the fried wanton goes really well with the chicken gravy.

Braised pork belly with salted fish in clay pot.

Stir-fried vegetables with garlic. We ordered takeaway fried rice for dinner and it was burnt and bitter. The entire packet of fried rice (RM25) ended up in the bin and we had to eat CNY cookies for dinner instead.  Note to self – to complain to the restaurant’s captain the next time we dine there, which will be next week!



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Philips Pressure Cooker Nian Gao (Kuih Bakul)

Mum had her first try making Nian Gao using the Philips Pressure Cooker (PPC) last Chinese New Year. It was a big success and her Gula Melaka Nian Gao are the best in the world. The girls and I heart them to bits. The Nian Gao were often polished off in a jiffy and often not enough to satiate everyone.



Yesterday we finished off the last Nian Gao that’s been in sitting in our freezer for months. I was too lazy to prep it but I had to finish off that year-old Nian Goa to make space for another batch, which mum just made yesterday (in Ipoh). I can’t wait to dig into them!

How to Prep Steamed Nian Gao The Easy Way!

Actually prepping the Nian Gao ain’t too messy and difficult. I discovered a super easy way of prepping it.

When the Nian Gao is half thawed (thus not sticky), cut it into bite size pieces. Line baking paper on the steaming plate for easy cleaning as the aftermath on the plate can be very messy and sticky without the baking paper. Place the bite size Nian Gao on the lined plate and once the water starts to boil, put it on the steaming rack and steam for 5-8 minutes.   Be careful not to over-steam the Nian Gao or it will melt and turn into a messy pile of sticky goo which is hard to pull out from the plate, not to mention looks disgusting 🤭.

Below – just out from the wok. As you can see, the Nian Gao pieces are still intact  but they are already very soft. Poke through the Nian Gao with a toothpick to check the doneness.  Coat the pieces of sticky cake with freshly grated young coconut and sprinkle a little salt (optional).

Steamed Nian Kao / Lin Ko / Kuih Bakul is my top favorite CNY snack, besides meat jerky. I do like the CNY cookies, bee hives and muruku too but now that I’m eating clean, I’ve stopped indulging excessively in these snacks. I still do give myself a treat in small quantities.  After all, what’s CNY without indulging yourself in these once-a-year treats, right?

Mum’s freshly made Nian Gao, using the PPC:

 

What’s your favorite CNY snacks?



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GOLD

I received a sizable amount of gold jewelry during my wedding 20 years ago. They were mostly from my parents and relatives from both sides of the families. Some of the jewelry are thick as dog chain while some are thin as dental floss. Whatever size and thickness they are, I treasure them all. I’ve been keeping these gold jewelry in the bank safe deposit box for the last 20 years and hardly ever wore them. When we had a wedding to attend last December, I couldn’t find among the gold stash a jewelry that matched my dress. I just randomly picked a thick dual color gold necklace (yellow gold and white gold plated) to wear but my sil from Hong Kong commented that the necklace is not in fashion anymore!



Thus, I resolved to get myself some à la mode gold jewelry as we’re going to have another wedding coming up soon! Another cousin of the hubs will be getting married in December this year. Since I had the time on Monday, I went to Poh Kong along with three pieces of my decades-old gold jewelry that I decided I wouldn’t be wearing anymore to trade-in for new ones.  Poh Kong charged me a whopping 25% commission for the trade-in! No wonder I received such good service from the staff.  The jewelry shop earned almost RM2k just from the trade-in commission!

My jaw dropped when the jewelry assistant told me that the 3 items fetched a price of RM7,500 AFTER deduction of the commission! I was only expecting a sum of RM2k or 3k. I think this must be the price 20 years ago for the 3 items.  Can’t blame this aunty here who hasn’t gone to the gold jewelry shop since her wedding 20 years ago 😂


Old jewelry.


New ones.

With 3 pieces of old gold jewelry, I got 4 new pieces – a pendant, chain, one-piece auspicious necklace with flower pendant and a bracelet. I have also chosen a pair of earrings but was told that I had to top up over RM500. El cheapo me was reluctant to dig from my wallet, so I now have a credit of over RM400 at the jewelry shop. I’ll be going to the shop again soon to dispose of more old jewelry to get the earrings. I think I’ll have an excess with the new disposal and shall get another pendant  ☺️

Did you know that the price of gold has been steadily increasing over the past 2 decades?  There’s been a 468.47% increase in gold price from December 1999 – November 2019!

If you bought gold at its lowest price in 2008 and sold it off at its highest peak in 2011, you would have made a fortune. Gold prices increased by more than 100% in those three years, from RM82.97 per gram on Oct 30, 2008 to RM181.38 per gram on Sept 20, 2011.

Gold has historically been an excellent hedge against inflation, because its price tends to rise when the cost of living increases. Over the past 50 years investors have seen gold prices soar and the stock market plunge during high-inflation years.

For those of you who have that little extra money and don’t want to place it in FD (which has miserably low interest rates), why not invest in gold?

For a seasoned player who would like to diversify your portfolio, there is always the option of purchasing gold via our local banking systems. Banks like CIMB Bank, Public Bank, UOB, Maybank, Kuwait Finance House all offer a gold investment account.  These investment accounts allow you to purchase and sell gold at the bank’s set price without having any gold in its physical form factor. With most of these accounts, you can get started with as little as owning a single gram of gold.

Chinese New Year is coming soon. Perhaps you should try your new year luck and invest in gold!  If you do earn from the price hike of gold later, just drop me a note to thank me or treat me to iced milk tea 😊



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Wedding On 1.1.2020

On the first day of the new decade, everyone was up very early in the morning. We had to be at the bride’s mom’s house by 9 a.m. for the Tea Ceremony. None of us did the New Year’s countdown on the eve as we were all in bed by midnight. I could hear the thunderous fireworks let out from KLCC and Dataran Merdeka from my bedroom but I didn’t bother to get up and watch it from our living room.

Breakfast of nasi lemak, satay and Nyonya kuih were served at hubby’s aunt’s condo’s poolside at Mont Kiara (bride’s mom). Relatives from the UK and Hong Kong specifically requested for satay. Food was fantastic and had plenty of commendation from relatives from both the groom and bride’s side.  And it was catered by no other than the foodie hubby 👨🏼‍🍳👍 He’s got a fantastic Indonesian chef who can dish out yummers spicy dishes.

Hubby’s chef’s specialty – chicken rendang, beef rendang, sambal, super crunchy anchovies and peanuts, fluffy rice cooked with coconut milk, lemon grass, herbs and pandan and chicken and beef satay.

Sherilyn with her favorite grandaunt Wendy who lives 2 floors below ours.

In a traditional Chinese wedding, the tea ceremony is one of the most significant events. In China, serving tea when guests arrive is a very traditional propriety. It is a significant way to show respect. In a wedding, such an act is to show respect and gratitude to parents for all the years of love and care.

Tea served to hubs and me by the beautiful bride, Melissa and hubby Azriel: 

The girls and cousin E writing congratulatory messages to Melissa che che at the hotel ballroom:

Cass hated to be in her blue gown, which she called ‘Alice In Wonderland gown’ felt like a fish out of water the entire night 😂



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Five Tips For The Ladies To Stay Fashionable On A Budget

Yes girls, you can be fashionable even when you’re on a budget! I’m one who does not splurge on branded apparel, yet I am quite a fashionista! 😎💃🏻

You don’t have to be famous or rich to look like a million dollars. Anyone can  look stylish and modish. All it takes is knowing a few tricks of the trade. Here’s how you can be fashionable without breaking your bank:

1.  Shop online
If you love fashion, like I do, you’ll admit that keeping up with current trends can be overwhelming and it burns a big hole in your pocket. You don’t have to walk into a glitzy boutique to get that stunning black long dress that Gigi Hadid wore at the recent Paris Fashion Week.  Some online stores have replicate of what celebrities wore at a fraction of the price and you can also find cheap clothes for women at prices you’ll be amazed with from most of these online apparel stores.

2. Shop the classics
List down the fashion items that would make up your dream wardrobe. A small closet full of quality clothes that actually fit make you look so much better than a huge closet full of old and ill-fitting items ever will.

Also, stick to classic items and embellish with the trends. For example, for a woman, a classic might be an elegant black dress, and the trend would be an infinity scarf and statement necklace. Don’t forget to put on the classic red lipstick and red nail polish to complete your dressed up look.

The classic look depends on your style. I mostly prefer to think of the classics as items that you wear all the time. Items that can last a thousand washings. Items that really pull a lot of your wardrobe together. For me, it would be my short denim skirt.

3. Shop off-season
Putting together a winter wardrobe at the beginning of winter is expensive. And summer purchases in May often lead to regrets. Avoid temptation and save your bucks when no one else is buying; buy a couple of spaghetti strap cheap long dresses in late fall and your winter coats in April. You can scoop up great deals that way.

4. Sell or swap with friends
Swapping clothes with your friends can give new life to unloved pieces and help everyone pick out new pieces to freshen up their wardrobe.

5.  Look for sales and clearance items
One of the best ways to shop with a low budget is to get your clothes from resale or outlet stores, rather than straight off the rack. Many great pieces end up in these stores due to an inability to move product, or sometimes because a store simply needed to make space for new stock, meaning you’ll find fantastic pieces at low prices in these stores.  Online stores like CallaBuy often have discounts and clearance sale.

Staying fashionable doesn’t have to be expensive. Watch out for sales, monitor your local outlets, reject stores and thrift stores and allow friends to breathe new life into your wardrobe can keep you in full feather without racking up a debt. Get creative with your wardrobe to live the fashionista life on a budget.



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KL Book Exchange

For the last one year, our avid bookworm has been pestering me to bring her to the book exchange ground at our neighborhood held on the first Sunday of each month. But I never had the time to do it. Firstly, it’s on a Sunday where the girls have Sunday School and Youth Fellowship  at the church at 11 a.m.  Secondly, it’s starts frigging early at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 10:45 a.m.  Though I’m already up by 7 a.m.,  I don’t have the luxury of a live-in maid to help with the chores. My mornings are usually spent doing chores.



Last Sunday the hubs was already up at 8:30 a.m. and took Cass to the book exchange ground. An hour later and with body drenched in sweat after being roasted by the scorching morning sun, Cass got home with 6 thick novels. She was one very, very happy camper!

 

Cass managed to stumble upon Dan Brown’s mystery thriller novel – The Da Vinci Code, a novel which she’s always wanted to buy but mom said no as it’s too expensive! She also found another old gem – a very ‘seasoned’ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,  a fantasy book written by British author J. K. Rowling and the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series. The pages are so seasoned I think they were most probably been feasted on by termites – the papers provide nutrients to the termites 😱  This book should be around 20 years old!

Thank goodness we did not donate all the girls’ old books. A few weeks ago I gave away 3 big bags of books to the Tzu Chi Recycling Center. We kept some in a box and now Cass gets to exchange them with new titles. Books make her one very, very happy girl. I wish I could say the same with her school books too 😔

If you have tons of books that you want to get rid of, bring them to the KL Book Exchange grounds. Effective February 2020, they will be in Taman Desa and Sunway Velocity Mall on the LAST Sunday of the month. Books will be exchanged on a one-for-one basis, in the same language of the book.



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Chinese New Year Preparation

Chinese New Year is only 2 weeks away! Can you believe it?  It feels like CNY was  over not too long ago and it’s here again, less than 12 months later.  We celebrated the last day of Christmas (12th day) last Sunday and now we’re ready to welcome the next major festival.  This gives us only two weeks of preparation. Thankfully I don’t have to bake any cookies or make Chinese sausages like what my parents and late maternal grandmother used to do.  What I need to do are to get ready the red cute clothing for the girls to wear on the first two days of CNY, shop for cookies, prep the red packets and of course spring clean the house.

Last year I got the girls same tees with the Chinese Animal Zodiac printed,  which is a pig in gold color.  I like to buy the girls cheap tees with fanciful Chinese New Year motifs printed on them.   They usually cost no more than twenty Ringgit each. The girls usually don’t wear them anymore the following year.  For myself, I like getting a couple of red trendy tops and dresses that I can ‘recycle’ for the next Chinese New Year.

Shopping for new clothes and shoes for the lunar new year can be quite chaotic and makes you feel hurried as the shopping malls will be jam packed with shoppers. There will be long queues  starting from the car park to the fitting rooms to the check out counters. I like to start doing my CNY clothes shopping a few months earlier.

If you still haven’t bought any CNY clothes yet and the thought of going to the crowded shopping mall turns you off, fret not. There are thousands of online stores like Nina Cloak where you can shop for your clothes and shoes without leaving the comforts of your home. But don’t wait till the eleventh hour to shop for them as you’ll need to allow some time for shipping.

How’s your CNY prep coming along?

 

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Daddy’s Girls

This was what happened last night at a Japanese restaurant when hubs’ sushi platter arrived. He was replying to a customer’s message on his phone and wasn’t free to eat his food yet . The second the sushi platter was placed on the table, the girls’ reflex actions were hilarious. The three of them put their phones and book down instantaneously and gravitated towards the platter in front of them in synchrony, chopsticks ready on their hands, grinning and deciding which one to attack first, oblivious to the fact that it’s their dad’s food.

And what’s left for hubs were just 3 miserable pieces of sushi and had I not stopped them, they would have walloped them as well. And their dad wasn’t even annoyed with them! I think he’s even secretly enjoying this moment with his girls before they leave the nest.

#gluttony #eatpoordad #facepalm



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Men’s Shopping Habits

A 2013 survey of 2,000 British people conducted found that men become bored after only 26 minutes of shopping, while it took the female counterparts a full two hours. The survey found that 80 percent of men didn’t like shopping with their partners and that 45 percent avoided doing so at all costs.  If men were to shop for shirts or formal shoes, they’d get it done within an hour and leave while most women would browse from shop to shop, examining the items and looking for the best deals.  At the end of the shopping trip, the women would return home laden with a handful of shopping bags! Well, that’s how it goes with my hubby and me.

Men Leather Splicing Non-slip Large Size Business Casual Formal Shoes

My husband is one who will get bored to the bones when going shopping.   He hates the crowd and queues, not to mention wasting time trying to find a parking spot at the car park.  I remember that during our courting days, he used to dozed off at the seats of the mall while waiting for me to shop. 😴🤭   Even if he needed to shop for a pair of men’s vintage boots, he could grab the item within half an hour.   Thus, I now hardly ever ask him to go shopping with me, besides groceries shopping.

If you have a hubby who dreads going shopping, introduce him to online shopping. He may transform into a new male power shopper in no time when he discovers how convenient and easy it is to shop online.   My younger brother has recently jumped into the online shopping bandwagon and now buys clothes, mens fur lined boots , household items and other stuff online. I like to go to New Chic to browse for women’s fashion. The men’s section is pretty complete too, ranging from apparel to sports wear, watches, shoes and much more.

Men Wool Fleece Fur Lining Side Zipper Soft Ankle Casual Boots

With the rise of online shopping, men are looking decidedly more handsome!

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Updates On Last Week of 2019 And First Day of 2020

Hey peeps, I am back after a week of busyness in the last week of the last decade.  Almost the entire Yap family from near and far came together and had over a week of celebration and merriment – from Christmas to Boxing Day to pre-wedding dinner to the church wedding,  hubby’s birthday and finally the culmination of all the excitement on the first day of 2020 – the Yap’s first wedding of the new decade, the wedding of hubby’s cousin, Melissa.



Besides pigging out every single day (though mindfully on my part) with relatives, I am so enervated from the lack of sleep the past one week.  Part way through the wedding dinner last night, hubs booked Grab for me and the girls to go home while he stayed on at the hotel until the dinner ended around midnight. We only managed to clamber onto bed at 11-ish p.m.  and I was already up at my usual school-going day time of 4:30 a.m. to get the girls ready for their first day of school after  a 6-week break.

This year will see Alycia’s last year in high school, first year of morning session for Sherilyn after 2 years of afternoon session and Cass’ last year in primary school. Cass miraculously managed to remain in the first class this year!

This morning, Alycia bugged me to chauffeur her to school instead of taking the school van as she wanted an hour extra of sleep in the morning after a late night.  So I sacrificed another day of exercise just to make my eldest happy on her first day of school.

I still managed to squeeze in 15 minutes for a quick walk on my Peace Path before rushing home to begin my Grab mum duty. This path never fails to give me the quietness and serenity I need every morning.

Now let’s talk food! Here’re what we’ve been digging into the past 8 days:

Pot-luck Christmas dinner at hubby’s aunt’s house on 25 Dec 2019:

Sumptuous Christmas lunch at Khan’s Restaurant & Cafe @ Sphere, Bangsar South after church service on Christmas day. It’s our second North India lunch in a week. The first was at Tasty Chapathi and I think I’m now hooked on North India cuisine!

After a heavy lunch, hubs dragged us to Sunbather for coffee, cakes and ice-cream, diet be damned! Another feast was awaiting us in the evening!

To be continued with more food pix in the next post  😬

Happy blessed New Year to all my readers!



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4 Hollywood Trends Worth Watching

2019 was a seemingly great year for pushing boundaries in films. Music, technology, British and female influences all took a share of the increase in popularity and the trend appears to be on the rise.

Music in the Movies
Producers like Heather Parry have been pushing through hits like A Star Is Born since 2018 and the past few years have been chock full of musical films and biopics. Director Dexter Fletcher followed up the success of Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody with Rocketman, the story of Sir Elton John. In 2020, David Bowie and Dusty Springfield can expect to receive their due with Stardust and So Much Love, respectively.

Technology
Technology continues to reinvent in seemingly unimaginable ways. Virtual and augmented realities are giving world-builders new platforms to create immersive experiences for consumers. Experimentation is generally much more welcomed and brands are using this opportunity to tell their stories and reach customers. Low-budget movie makers are taking advantage of streaming services to get exposure. Indie studios and A-list actors are skipping theaters and DVDs by launching films directly to platforms like Netflix and Amazon Originals.

British Invasion
The world seems to be in love with the English accent. Outlander, The Crown and Black Mirror are a few examples of major British productions achieving popularity in the US and around the globe. Even retro hits like Absolutely Fabulous are still alive and kicking, releasing specials as recently as 2012.

Women Directing Women
Women are continually rising both on-screen and behind-the-scenes in Hollywood, and 2019 was no exception. Box-office smash Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was co-directed by Anna Boden. Miss Bala, a Mexican crime thriller, was directed by Catherine Hardwick and cast Gina Rodriguez in the title role. Greta Gerwig, director of Lady Bird, re-envisioned Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, released on Christmas day.

Storytelling has typically been a favorite escape for many people and movie buffs can generally expect that 2020 will continue to bring new and inventive changes, enhancing the cinematic experience.

 

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What Does a Producer Do?

All kinds of things, really. It depends upon the particular project. Essentially, producers like Heather Parry are ultimately responsible for everything that goes into a film, from the initial concept to the finished product and the marketing.

Initial Stages
Before a movie or television show can be made, someone has to start the ball rolling, and that person is the producer. The first step is to arrange contractual agreements to use the source material for the original concept. Then the producer must locate and secure funding for the project. Once the financing is in place, the producer must hire writers to create a script, a director and heads of all of the crew members.

During Filming
It is the producer’s responsibility to supervise all daily operations during filming. This can involve everything from the shooting locations to the catering to watching the dailies—raw footage from that day’s filming. The buck stops at the top and successful producers know how to delegate so that everything runs smoothly.

Post-Production
After filming is over and the crew and actors are finished and on to other things, the producer shifts to overseeing post-production activities. This means working closely with the editor whose job it is to make the cuts and combine the sections into a cohesive, working film. The producer is also in touch with the composer and sound crew who add that crucial emotional impact that can make or break a film. If the film calls for special effects, the producer oversees those, as well. And as the final touches are being added before release, the producer must work closely with the folks who are marketing and distributing the movie or TV show.

If that sounds like a lot to do, that is because it is. Talented producers are worth their weight in gold—Oscar and Emmy gold, that is.



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