October 6, 2012

Life is like a box of chocolate... or sometimes sushi...

I just had to say the standard I-was-gone-and-I-am-back phrase: Can't believe I had abandon the blog for months!

Lots had happened since I last blogged about my balsam (which are all dead now -- but they have re-seeded before their tragic death, which means I have a new batch now -- but they too are on the verge of dying.. *rolls eyes*...).

The biggest thing that has happened was my trip to Tokyo, Japan.  I've been there 2 weeks and back.

Life is really like a box of chocolate -- you really never know what you're gonna get.  It was like one minute I was saying nonchalantly to my colleagues, "Hey, we have customers in Japan.  Maybe we'll get to travel there..." and BANG! I was on a flight to Tokyo, wondering what the heck I was doing going there, alone and feeling unarmed...

Actually this felt like déjà vu .  Just like the time when I was applying for entrance into the university.  I remembered being the one who said nonchalantly (again), "Hey, there's a university at a far far away land.  I think we won't be sent there..." and BANG! I was on a flight to the far far away land -- much similar to what happened now except that one I was partially hoping that it would come true.  The other, I was hoping that it never came true.  But then again, I guess sometimes things happen for a good reason.  I must say lots of good things have came out of it.

Anyway, back to my Japan trip.  It was one heck of a hectic working trip.  Not much to say except work, work and work.  It was one eye-opening experience...

The part that I loved most was of course the food.  Dinner time is my favourite because it's the only time of the day which belongs entirely to myself -- my precious pressure-free-me-time.

I missed some of the food so much.  I'd plan for trip to Japan anytime (if I had the money to spare of course!) just to be able to return and enjoy the food there (vacation only though, no work please!).

My favourite breakfast combination: Kyoto Matcha Latte (love, love, love it!) and  bento

Yummy warm and hearty ramen: Made having dinner alone more bearable...

One of the few times I tried non-Japanese food while I was in Tokyo.  The yogurt was very pleasing to the eyes but much too sour to my liking.  The muffin was super tasty though!

Yummylicious ramen: My first weekend lunch with a company :)

Mochi stick: I just had to try it because QianNing used to have an eraser like this.   Also tried the famous Beard Papa's cream puff at the Shinjuku Station.

To-die-for-oh-my-god-uber-delicious pork belly with flavourful sesame sauce at Yoshinoya (I wonder if it's the same shop we have here in Malaysia -- I really need to go find out if they sell it here).

So good that I went back for it again... and again... and again...

I was spoiled for choice of rice balls... yumm...

The best dessert I had there, after the best dinner over the 2 weeks I was there... because M was there.  Glad to have  a friend and knowing that I was finally passing the baton on (to him :P).


The best things out of the trip: Yummy sushi that I will never ever forget.  I tried real fatty melt-in-your-mouth tuna, sea urchin and snow crab sushi for the first time!  Getting to know chirashi sushi and loving it immediately!  And all the super fresh ingredients from the fish to the roe and even the rice tasted better!  Doesn't matter that most restaurant waitresses or owners did not speak English, I had enjoyed each and every dining experience.  It was a mix between wanting to swallow everything in front of me all at once, but resisted fearing that they will be gone too soon... just heavenly! :)

July 12, 2012

My Balsam Camellia Journal

The balsam camellia has bloomed! My first ever plant from seeds which survived! *proud*


I love the various vibrant colours. And the best part is that it has been blooming continuously since it first started 2 weeks ago. The only part I'm worried about is how huge the plant will get... but seeing that I'm using small pots for them, I think it will not grow too large... Well, I hope.


The balsam started blooming about 2 months after I planted them. I wasn't too sure of how to care for this plant in a hot climate like Malaysia's so I kept them in the shade for the first 2 months. And I only managed to re-pot them to individual pots about a month after the seedlings appeared. That's a mistake I believe, because there are all these yellow spots on the leaves. I did a bit of googling and found out that this could be signs of the plants having to survive in a very challenging environment.

My bad.

I did not realize how much the balsams love the sun until I put out a few pots for trial and error. And within days, all of them were out in the sun, full-time. The new leaves after the plants went into the sun, do not seem to have the yellow spots, so I think I'm doing the right thing -- for now. I've been lightly fertilizing them roughly on a weekly basis and so far they seem to be doing well.


Another bonus: When re-potting the balsams, I reused some soil I used for germination of another plant (which failed to germinate). And guess what, some seedling actually appeared and from the look of it, it's not a balsam seedling. I'm not sure which plant is this, as I do have a few batches of germination of various seeds that failed *_* ... well, we'll see.

June 20, 2012

A sheep mother in tiger's clothing

I read the book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" recently.

I could relate so much to the author.  Not in the sense of bringing up two super successful daughters, but the need to be the control-freak Chinese mother which must be in the gene of all "traditional" Chinese women with children.

QianHui was throwing super tantrums just now, just because the dab of moisturizer that I gave her was a little bit smaller than her sister's.

At the very instant that she started it, I knew I *had to* win the battle this round.  Of late, she has been so used to getting her ways, her tantrum episodes can only get worse over time.

I resorted to screaming, yelling, threatening her and at some point begging that she say "sorry" for what she did.

But all she did was just continued crying and crying and turning her back on me (challenging me further), with not even the tiniest bit of signs of her backing off.

She was as determined to win the battle as I was.

Not a good thing. Really.

After nearly 15 mins of tug-of-war, she finally gave in (I think)... between sobs and complaints that I caused her to cry so much she couldn't say things properly, I think she said "sorry mommy".

I wasn't sure whether I heard it correctly.

She refused to say it a second time.  That is how stubborn this little girl is.  I wonder from which side of the family that she inherited the genes from.

I wanted to push further (to confirm that she did apologize and she did not get away this time), but deep inside me I wished to end this as soon as possible too.  So I let her off and put her to bed.

Surprisingly, about 30 mins later, after QianHui has calmed down.  She suddenly said in her I-am-the-nicest-daughter-in-the-world-voice, "Sorry mommy, I won't cry like that again next time".

Parenting is really an amazing job.  Everyday is an enlightening experience.  Every child is a mystery.

June 13, 2012

Ranting of a modern slave

Just one of those days when I feel very strongly about something... something I can't really describe but desperately need to let out.

Being a modern slave for exactly 10 years 1 month and 11 days now, I am definitely a better person than I was when I first ventured into the working world. Along the way, I've built my own working ethic which is now sort of the principles of my working life.

Hubby always say that I put my work first before anything else. I'm not sure if that's true. If it is, my employer is definitely one lucky company. I just believe that whatever that I need to do in my work, I have to put my 100% (well, at least 100% as measured by *my* ruler). I know sometimes I do slack here and there, but that's because I know I have that buffer and luxury to slack.

Rising above a worker ant role, I start to feel the difficulty of things. When I was just a worker ant, all I need to answer to was just to my superior. But now, being at both ends of receiving and giving instructions, it is so not easy to find the delicate balance between being understanding and being demanding, such that work still gets done without putting people off...

I think they should have a course just to study on this subject. I swear people in roles like mine would be so very grateful.

But as they say, you can't please everyone.

Oh well...

May 7, 2012

15mins to faux bokeh background!

Okay, it probably should have taken a little longer if I had spent a little bit more (quality) time cropping the background, but I just wanted to quickly try out the tutorial which I found here.

One of the photos I liked most from the bird park trip is this:


I really love how the peacock was displaying a sense of arrogance here.  However, as I was just snapping photos all over the place as a beginner in photography would, I don't think I have done the peacock justice with my photography skill.  

I had hoped that the peacock would stand out more from the background.  

And this is where Photoshop can become the saviour!  

Following the steps from this excellent tutorial, I managed to create a faux bokeh effect on the background.  It's not perfect yet but but that's just because I rushed through the process of cropping the background, I'm sure the photo would be more than perfect if I had paid more attention there! :P


May 6, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

Took a trip to the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park today.  Claimed to be the "World's Largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary", it offers tons of photography opportunity for those who are into it.

The only problem I had was that it was a rainy day and I have 2 little kids towing along. OK, that's 2 problems actually.

But all in all, it's still a good experience and the kids were extremely excited, especially when they came to the Parrots World, and saw some of the birds which looked similar to the ones in the cartoon, Rio.  Most of the birds are behind cages though, only some like peacocks and a few types which I can't identify (since I'm no ornithologist) roam the park freely -- which gives you more freedom to get good close-up photos.

The entrance fees for MyKad/MyKid holders are reasonable, but since we got our vouchers from Groupon, our tickets were 50% cheaper than the normal rates. The park has pretty good facilities, clean toilets and rubbish bins all over the place which I think is cool.  It opens daily from 9am to 6pm.


























April 22, 2012

The gallery wall, finally!

If I hadn't looked at the date of my last entry, I wouldn't have believed that it has been another 2 months where I had abandoned my blog... And to think that the excitement I had in my previous post only managed to pushed me into action after 2 months. Well, better late than never. Presenting our gallery wall:

Our very own gallery wall which we have been dreaming of having for years (we had finally gathered enough courage to drill all those holes into our wall *gasp!*)

I have been following this blog and saw this post which has so many tips that really helped a lot while we were working on our gallery wall.

On a separate note, I'm back to spending more time in gardening (yeah, I've abandoned that too since the last 2 months *guilt-ridden*). The bad news was that all my seedlings that I planted back then have died. Partially because of an evil cat that chose to poop in my flower pots and partially because I was (and still am) an inexperienced gardener. Anyway, I've gathered a few lessons learnt from my previous gardening episode and decided to venture into it again (perhaps at 5% wiser?).

Balsam camellia seedlings, I hope these survive better than their predecessor...

I'm also germinating Five Spot and Zinnia Pompom (leftover seeds from experiment #1). And I bought some more seeds from Iris Seeds(this time targetting specifically the plants meant for beginners :P). So far my Alyssum White and Alyssum Purple have germinated and showing some very tiny seedlings. I'm still praying for the oregano, sage and Viola Tri-color (this one was meant for experienced gardeners but the flowers are so beautiful that I've decided to give it a try... hoping for some beginner's luck! ^_^)

February 11, 2012

Still alive... and kicking!

Can't believe it's been more than 2 months since my last update! I can't remember the last time I left this blog unattended for this long...

Anyway, things have been keeping me busy.

We painted a huge part of the house (yay!) and have been busy with CNY and all.

Hubby and I (with the help of the maid) repainted our living room, the stairwell, and the main door. It was one heck of a hard work but it was a partial dream come true. I'm saying partial because the makeover is not complete yet...

Giving the living room a face-lift right before CNY, it has transformed from this:


To this (we have also repainted the wall-shelf from red to white):


We had always wanted the apple green and white combination for our living room. And after 4 years plus staying here, we've finally taken that one step forward to make it a reality. The apple green was a little too bright to me at first (especially when viewed at night under the fluorescent lamp -- just like above). But after the first afternoon, I was totally in love with it! The shadow from our window grill matched with the yellowish ambience from our yellow curtains... it was everything I could have ever wanted...


I'm currently in the process of creating a gallery wall right next to our dining table. With all white photo frames... against the apple green wall, the remaining of our dream living hall... coming true...

*excitement*

:)

November 26, 2011

An unforgettable family day

My only Zinnia Pompon plant died after too much exposure to the sun.

The cat pooped into the 2 pots of new plants I sowed and destroyed everything. The damn cat also buried my one and only Arctic Fire seedling which I just saved and praying hard that it could survive this catastrophe!

But amidst all these gardening mishaps, today is a perfect day to celebrate!

Because we won a 46" Samsung LED TV from my company's family day event.

We won the grand prize in the lucky draw!


Unbelievable!

Now -- 8 hours later, it still feels rather surreal... for we never had such luck in lucky draws. The only 2 times I won something from a lucky draw was during my secondary school day where I got a new reference book on geography. And another was during one of my first job's annual dinner where I won a water filter worth about RM100+. Hubby's record was even worse.

But this time, it's a TV!

A flat screen TV!

And a 46" too!

Wow!

Initially we only decided to attend the family day event because it took place at the zoo and we had wanted to bring the kids to the zoo. And it so happened that this event cropped up and we thought why not, since it's FOC and we get to save on the ticket fees! :P

Knowing that there would be a lucky draw event, we did not harbour much hope because during last year's family day event, we did not even get any gifts from the lucky draw.

Today, while they were picking winners for the smaller prizes I was envying the lucky lot. When they came to the top three prizes I had partially given up hope. When the third prize was announced, hubby even joked about throwing away our tickets!

QianHui wanted to go to the washroom to poop when they were about to announce the grand prize winner. I got up and was about to leave, when I heard them announce the first 2 digits '05' which matched ours!

I was feeling blank inside as they announced the third digit '8' which matched ours too! Hubby who was already super excited, stood up and shouted to the Country HR Manager, K, who was announcing the result, asking loudly "7, 8 or 9?!". K showed a blank expression, probably partially surprised that hubby shouted the correct number... then he softly said "8".

I was holding my breath, did he just announced the fourth digit or did he just repeat the third digit???... Then, he announced the full number "0588" and I did not know what happened next...

Somewhere in between, hubby dashed down to claim our lucky prize. And amidst chaos, hubby was back at my side with the TV. Friends came over to congratulate us and I suddenly remembered that QianHui wanted to poop! So I rushed to the washroom with her in tow! :P

On the way back, hubby and I kept telling each other how surreal this is. For the 2 of us who never had much luck in lucky draws, this is like a super breakthrough!

Hope this will be the first of many to come! ^_^

November 4, 2011

Arctic Fire Dianthus has finally sprouted!

It sprouted 13 days after sowing. But it is one damn lonely plant. This is the only survivor from the 10 seeds that I sowed.

A lonely Arctic Fire Dianthus (16 days old)


Oh well, better than none I guess. But it's very risky now that all my eggs are in this one tiny little "basket"...

Even the batch of Canterbury Bells which I've given the "stratification" treatment (3 days in the fridge -- not sure if it's the correct way though) have sprouted.

Canterbury Bells seedlings from direct sowing at normal temperature (16 days old)


Canterbury Bells seedlings after 3 days of cold treatment then moved to room temperature (16 days old). But this one sprouted later than the batch above...


Another lonely plant: the Zinnia Pompon (14 days old). But I still have more seeds for second attempt at germination...


The Balsam Camellia (14 days old)... looks like this is the healthiest of the lot! Time to transplant to other pots though... only if I can find the time.