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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Spread Cheer With Cookies

I just love, love, love the holiday season! I live for the holiday season!  It's the perfect opportunity and excuse to BAKE, BAKE and BAKE cookies!

This holiday, I am participating in the Betty Crocker's #SpreadCheer campaign. Make the world a better place this Christmas when you spread cheer with the gift of cookies. Homemade gifts for Christmas is one of my favorite ways to show people I care about them.

Here's the video to share . More info here.


My first batch of cheer. I will be distributing them to my neighbours, my favourite charity organization and to Hubby's co-workers.

You can download the adorable free printable  gift tags here.

Help get the word out to inspire others to keep the celebration going.

Use #SpreadCheer, tag your friends and nominate them to keep the cheer coming.
Snowman Cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Complicated Chinese Family Tree

My newlywed neighbour, Jenny, will be visiting her in-laws in their village in China for the first time and she is frantic! That's because the Chinese kinship system is among the most complex  in the world and she is expected to address each and every member of her in-laws according to the different terms for relatives depending on whether they are younger or older than a closer relative (mother or father) and depending on whether they are maternal or paternal relatives. Calling them by their rightful titles especially the elders is a sign of proper respect and etiquette and it is a reflection of your parents. It means that you have been well brought up.

Here's a simple example.
Take my dad, for instance. He's the third child in his family of 2 elder brothers, an elder sister, 2 younger brothers and a younger sister. From young, we were taught to address Dad's  elder bothers as "pak" and his younger ones as "sook", His elder sister is "gu ma" and the younger one is "gu".

Confused already? And I haven't even started on the uncles' wives and aunts' husbands and my mom's side! Maternal aunts and uncles and their spouses and kids have different titles too! Hmmm, I wonder if that's the reason China introduced the one-child policy?!!!!  LOL! Interestingly, how does one address a gay relative and his or her partner/spouse?

This system is spot-on though. Say a friend tells you her ''sei yee cheong" is visiting, you know at once that she's referring to her 4th maternal aunt's husband.  "Sei" is the number 4, "yee" is a younger sister of your mom and "yee cheong" is the husband of your mom's younger sister. And if she tells you her "gu poh" has passed on, you would know that she's referring to a sister of her paternal grandfather.

I am wondering - how do you address the ex-husband of your mom's divorced sister? Ex-yee cheong? We never found out 'cos he passed on before my sisters and I were born!

Here's a video to share



My mind exploded after the first 10 seconds! My boys are lucky I do things the easy way out, They generally address all their aunts and uncles as Aunty and Uncle. So my younger sister is just Aunty J to them and Aunty J's husband is Uncle William! Anyway, I only have an elder and  younger sister which means my boys only have to remember "Tai Yee" (Big Aunty) and "Sai Yee" (Small Aunty). That shouldn't be too difficult!

So Good Luck to Jenny on her visit to China!

From left - Tai Pak (eldest paternal uncle), Yee Pak (second eldest paternal uncle, Sook Jai (youngest paternal uncle)!
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

POTUS

Guess who was at Josh's campus??!!!!
There were snipers on the roof top ....


K9 dogs were sniffing around and The Beast was entering the grounds!
WOW!  According to Josh,  it was just like watching a scene right out of a movie!


Yep! The President of The United States was in town and he was hosting the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall event at my son's university.

Just how cool is that !!!

This week's cookies
Polar Bear Cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nutcracker

Is it just me or do you find a nutcracker creepy?  I am referring to those evil looking wooden soldiers that seem to haunt a perfectly good Christmas as they somehow find their way to being a staple during the Yuletide season. I was told they are meant to look scary, to ward off evil spirits. Those huge teeth and angry eyes .....shudder!! My former Danish neighbours used to display a waist-high nutcracker next to their christmas tree every year and it scared the crap out of my boys when they were little. We could see it from our window.  It looked really creepy at night when the lights were out and you could still see those ginormous white teeth under the blinking christmas lights. Eeeek!

Why are they called nutcrackers and do they actually crack nuts? I googled for information and here's what I learned from Dawn @ Dawn's Scary Thoughts.

"Well, they do crack nuts and apparently nut crackers have been around since at least the Greeks and Aristotle, at least in a decorative/functional form. England’s King Henry VIII gave second wife Anne Boleyn a decorative wooden nutcracker as a gift in the 1500s. But, the colorful nutcrackers we now associate with Christmas didn’t exist until the 18th century, and were the product of German craftsmen.

In Germany, nutcrackers weren’t just practical tools, they were totems said to protect families from danger. Their big wooden teeth were designed to scare away evil spirits, and their ability to crack nuts symbolized the circle of life: A tree drops a seed (nut), which becomes a tree and from the tree the wooden nutcracker is born. The nutcracker, by design, also was a form of satirical political commentary. Nutcrackers made in the image of high-ranking officials, kings and soldiers were a way to force high-status men to “serve” the people. For example, Napoleon may have won battles in Germany, but he was helpless in the hands of the German people, who made the little general’s likeness the most popular nutcracker design of its time.

In the 19th century, nutcrackers began being sold as children’s toys for Christmas. The most popular designs during this time were harlequins and soldiers. One of these soldier nutcrackers became the protagonist of E.T.A. Hoffman’s novel The Nutcracker and the King of Mice , which subsequently inspired Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suit e and The Nutcracker ballet. In America, the nutcracker as a collector’s item first gained popularity in the 1950s, when American GIs returning from Germany brought the colorful nutcrackers home with them. During the same period, The Nutcracker ballet’s popular success also sparked interest in the colorful wooden toy."

My cookified version of a nutcracker.

Nutcracker Cookies
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

And oh, my nutcrackers were featured on Sunday's Best Link-up #49 and Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party #97 !

Monday, November 16, 2015

Santa

Growing up, I always believed that our parish priest, Father W, was Santa. Father W was Irish and he looked just like the Santa depicted in my story books - jolly, round, red-faced  and lushly white-bearded. He had the kindest face I know and kids just adored him. For many years, he always played Santa in the children's Christmas parties that were organized by our church.  My parents went along with my belief and I was told that though Father W was a priest, he would magically transform into Santa during Christmas. I was convinced. I guess it bought them time before I would eventually figure out that Santa wasn't real. I was about six years old when Father W returned to his home country.Taking his place as parish priest was Father A, a priest from India.

Now, don't get me wrong - it was nothing racial but being greeted at a children's Christmas party by a brown and skinny Santa with a fake white beard made of strung up cotton wool instead of your regular picture-perfect Santa was a major bummer! One of the older kids at the party, a real meanie, squealed smugly, "It's Father A! Told ya, Santa IS NOT REAL!".

On the way home after the party, Mom explained the truth about Santa. Funny, but the revelation did not devastate me. Like the tooth fairy and Easter bunny, our culture and religion place very little emphasis on Santa. To us Christmas = Birth of Christ and Easter = Christ's Resurrection.

Frankly, I think Santa and the practice of gifting have taken away the true meaning of Christmas. I always remind my boys that Christmas is all about giving and not gifting when they don't get the gifts they request.

Interestingly, I asked my son, Rodney, how did he find out that Santa wasn't real. He answered that he never really gave it a thought and that he knew Santa wasn't real from the start! Anyway, he googled that when he was six!

Am I a bad mom?

When and how did you find out Santa isn't real?

This week's cookies
Santa Cookies

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cedric

My parents used to have a pug named Cedric. He was abandoned by his owners when they migrated to Canada.  My mom found him  in our neck of the woods when she was taking her daily evening stroll. Mom adopted Cedric. Dad lovingly nicknamed him "Ugly". Cedric was kinda ugly in a beautiful sort of way.

I hate people who dump their pets when they move. It breaks my heart. Poor Cedric! He pined for his owners ever single day. Each time Mom opened the gate, Cedric would run to the house of his previous owners and wait there until Mom called for him. He returned to the empty house daily, faithful, loyal and resolute, awaiting his master's return.

Cedric lived with my parents for a good five years before he succumbed to cancer. I dread to think what might have been if Mom hadn't rescued him. God bless my mom!

Pug Cookies
Sharing this short, poignant Hungarian film with an impactive message about abandonment.

There is a twist. The ending really hits and I had to watch it a second time before I got it. I was wondering what kind of a man could leave his child behind until I realized she was .........

Monday, November 2, 2015

Haze Update

This is the first time I'm out of the house in the open without a mask after being forced to stay indoors for more than a month because of the haze. The air quality is definitely better thanks to the monsoon season that has just started. The rain has brought some respite from the haze but experts warn the relief is temporary, as wind patterns could still turn unfavourable and bring polluted air from the fires in neighbouring Indonesia.

This picture was taken when I was at Josh's campus to deliver the RAK cookies. Thankfully, the resident ducks and geese were unaffected by the haze. It was reported that chickens were dying by the millions in a month when the API (Air Pollution Index) hit dangerous levels. Chickens are more vulnerable than humans because of their complex respiratory system. Funny, you would think that mosquitoes are affected too but nope, they are not. Dang!

Finally, I can breathe easy! Good news for now until it comes back again to haunt us year after year.

This week's cookies
Peacock Cookies For Deepavali/Diwali

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

I made these cookies for Josh's RAK project.
Aren't those Mother Theresa tags adorable? You can download them from Kristie's blog @ http://kristischaos.com/category/random-acts-of-kindness/

This week's cookies
Witch Cookies

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mosquitoes Prefer Blonds!


Ever wondered why some of us are pure mozzie-baits while others escape without a scratch?

Once, when we were out camping, mosquitoes ate me alive in my tent but my friends were untouched. And they were sleeping with their tent flaps open!

There seems to be an increase in mosquitoes lately and I am certain the haze is driving them indoors. Those pesky little vampires are biting me and Josh to shreds but Hubby and Rodney are unfazed. Over here in the tropics, mozzies have always been a pain all year round but we are bugged by them more than normal these few months, no thanks to the haze.

I had always suspected that blood type had something to do with a mosquito's choice of feasting. Josh and I share the same blood type (O) and Hubby and Rodney are both type A. Curious, I googled for information. Turned out, I wasn't wrong!
Research has shown that people with Type O blood are twice as likely to get bitten than those with Type B. Type A was even less popular than Type B. Aww! This really sucks! I feel like I'm a blood donor to those little beasties!

Some interesting facts to share.

1   Blood-thirsty females can smell their dinner from up to 50 metres away!
2.  Pregnant women are more likely to be victims as they breathe out larger than normal amounts of carbon-dioxide.

3.  As adults breathe out more carbon-dioxide than children, mosquitoes prefer to munch on them.

4.  Researchers think that genetics account for around 85 % of our susceptibility to mosquito bites. So if your parents are mosquito magnets, you are more likely to be as well.

5. In 2002, a Japanese study of 13 volunteers found that those who drank a single bottle of beer were more appetizing to mosquitoes.
The researchers believed drinking beer increases body temperature and the amount of alcohol in that is in a person’s sweat.

6. Mosquitoes tend to be attracted to people of a lighter skin. Bloody racists!  LOL! And they prefer blonds too.

7. Mosquitoes will go for the most delicious item on the menu and if you are more tasty than your friends, you are likely to become the main meal of the day so choose your company accordingly, especially when you are hiking or camping.

7. Mosquitoes have been around for more than 170 million years.
Do mosquitoes love you too?

This week's cookies
Yorkies in Halloween Colours

Friday, October 9, 2015

I've Got Chills!

I teared up and got goosebumps when I heard these kids sing at a Chinese talent show.


WOW!!!!  Such powerful vocals!
"I yam strong when I yam on your shoulders"!  Too cute!

This week's cookies
Teddy Bears

Sunday, October 4, 2015

AIRpocalypse When?

I woke up this morning with a bad headache, burning eyes and a sore throat - all the symptoms of breathing in bad air.

Once again, for the umpteenth year, we are engulfed by the dreaded annual haze. Schools closed for the second time this year as the API (Air Pollution Index) surpassed 200, meaning very hazardous and unhealthy air quality.

Acrid smoke billowing from agricultural fires in Indonesia is the cause of this perennial nightmare. On Saturday, as the haze worsened, an airport just outside Kuala Lumpur closed temporarily as visibility dropped to less than 400 metres. The condition is also risky to sea vessels without navigational equipment.

The haze crisis,  the worst since mid-2013 continues to choke us year after year during the dry season, when agricultural land is illegally cleared by burning in neighbouring country Indonesia.
School children donning masks against a hazy backdrop

image credit  - FreeMalaysiaToday
Image credit - Lim Huey Teng
We are told that Indonesia needs 3 years to solve the problem. Meanwhile, do we have to  hold our breath until then even if it is causing health hazards to many whilst incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses? If this goes on, people and animals would start dropping dead one by one like flies.



This week's cookies for Halloween

Monday, September 28, 2015

Corgi

Bloggy buddy Betty @ http://viewsfrombenches.blogspot.my/ is a big fan of corgis. She lost her beloved corgi, Koda, to cancer nine months ago, Koda had been blind for some time before he passed on. Betty sees another corgi in the future and I pray that the perfect one will come into this sweet lady's heart soon.

Cookiefying my corgi love .....

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Of Bats And Haunted Mansions


Bats are creepy! I haven't seen one in a long time but I can still recall being spooked by them when  I was little.
Way back in the 60s, when Mom was promoted to Head Nurse , she  was transferred to another state where she was accommodated in a supposedly haunted house. It was an old bungalow that was built during the colonial period. Dad would take us on a long road trip in his green Austin sedan to visit Mom during the weekends and school holidays. I remember looking forward to those visits as the mansion had an exciting vibe to it with its many rooms to explore, a huge compound with lots of trees and bathrooms that had bath tubs! In those days, bath tubs were a rarity as they could only be found mostly in the homes of British expatriates that were built during the colonial days and I suppose, rich people who had lived overseas before. Bath times were fun!

The mansion kinda looked  like this.
image credit - Alan Kong
At night, the mansion took on a different atmosphere. Dim lighting, creaky floorboards, cobwebs, the sound of crickets and flying bats made the place really spooky. Imagine sleeping with bats circling the ceiling right above you! It was really unnerving! Although there were many rooms, my sisters and I would huddle together in a huge four-poster bed in the room closest to where my parents were sleeping.
Once, when there was a power outage, the eerie flickering shadows in the candle light coupled with the presence of bats freaked us out big time!
It wasn't until many years later that Mom told us the place was supposedly haunted. One of the nurses who used to live there hung herself when she was jilted by her lover. According to Mom, other nurses who had also stayed in the bungalow before her claimed they had seen a floating white figure and heard weird noises like the sounds of footsteps and someone sobbing in the night!

Looking back, Mom was really brave to live in a place like that all by herself! She confessed to being scared at times but her firm Catholic faith and dedication to her vocation gave her the strength and courage to live in that bungalow until she was transferred back to our hometown several years later.

Monday, September 14, 2015

In Memory Of Grace


Grace, blogger pally Lin's beloved cat of 18 years, passed on Sunday. Although I've never met Lin @http://www.duckandwheelwithstring.com/ nor Grace, I feel like a part of me is gone too. Lin and I have been bloggy buddies since 2008 and I had enjoyed reading about Grace and learning about her through Lin's blog.

I am hopeless with words and I shall express my emotions in the only way I know how - through my cookies.

This one's for you, Grace!

Rest In Peace.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Of Lightning And Roasted Ducks.

image credit - Nick Chan
Josh often regales us with stories of the ducks and geese that live in his campus. Lately, one of the ducks has been missing and there are many theories surrounding its disappearance. Word has it that it has been struck by lightning.There's also a rumour going round that students from the School of Culinary may have something to do with its disappearance. Apparently, roast duck was on their menu the day the duck vanished!
image credit - Nick Chan
There used to be 4 ducks. Now there are only three!
image credit - Dila Ariff
image credit - Nick Chan
These very friendly birds are the stars of the campus and Josh is their biggest fan . They are everywhere!

Can you spot the duck?

We hope the MIA duck will turn up soon. On the bright side, one of the geese had laid eggs and hopefully there will be new  additions to the gaggle.

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's A Girl!

Most days, I dread reading the newspaper. Yet when I don't, I feel incomplete as if I have missed out on an indispensable part of my every day life. News that often hog the front page are always so depressing - plane crashes, terrorism, earthquakes, our sliding Ringgit and other horrible things.

And it's not everyday that you get to read about happy stuff like the births of pandas instead of my daily dose of dread. First it was giant panda Liang Liang and now Mei Xiang!

Liang Liang who is on loan from China to Malaysia's Zoo Negara, gave birth to a cub last Tuesday (18th August). Initially, there were concerns that Liang Liang and  her mate Xing Xing, were not hitting it off. Well, looks like they have overcome their intimacy issues.

It's a girl!
image credit -  The Star Malaysia

Let's toast to the first panda cub born on Malaysian soil! And to Mei Xiang too, for her twins who were born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C on Saturday night!

Panda Cookies

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