Monday, July 30, 2012

Beijing Botanical Garden...

Hhhmmmm... what do you think you will see at the Botanical Garden during winter? Yep, you're right... bald trees with not even a single green leaf, not even a brown leaf. The entrance was 20 yuan, same as the entrance fee to the Temple of Heaven. The mad tour guide said it was a waste of money to visit the Temple of Heaven and it was equally a waste to go to the Botanical Garden as there was nothing there to see, BUT he went ahead and paid the entrance fee for everyone. None of the 23 strong group of us was interested except for mua... I have to enjoy it because there's no winter back here and our flowers are always blossoming be it spring, summer, autumn or winter. 
But frankly speaking, there was seriously nothing to see. And we were given some time to spend walking around nowhere so instead of walking around, I went floating around since it would be our last day in Beijing. Pinky and I spent some time floating around the place and we were the only two left. I guessed the rest of them have left and were waiting for us in the bus. 
There was a frozen pond down there with a private house. I think that was a private property because one of our friends went down to touch the frozen pond water but before his finger could even make contact with the ice layer, someone ran out of the house and screamed at him, telling him off, he quickly skipped up the few flight of steps to where we were standing. Should have just put up a sign to let visitors know that that's a private property or else how would we know that even the frozen pond in the public Botanical Garden belongs to someone else.
Anyway, the Botanical Garden was not as enjoyable as the Summer Palace. The river or was it the monsoon drain was completely dried up. What was those piping for? We were still hanging around there as 20 yuan had been paid so no point going off in a hurry. We were there for less than 30 minutes only. 
Can you see that blossoming tree? Yeah... see that? Good contrast... right? We walked slowly back to the bus and to our horror the bus was already halfway OUT of the parking lot, about to zoom off. ^%&^$&^^(*&(*(%^&*%^$%^&% I HATE that awful and heartless tour guide. How could he do that??? Pinky and I were actually very glad to be going home... we've been hungry for 5 days and we were looking forward to Grandma's cooking~!!! Grandma cooks very well~!!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's The Thought That Counts...

It's the thought that counts... that would not be so appropriate for this post. Should it be it's the heart that counts? I was decorating JH's cake for his friend of the opposite sex... AHEM... a normal friend he said... AHEM... I wasn't born yesterday. I will never make a cake, an ice-cream cake at that point, for a normal friend. I will bake cakes for abnormal friends, friends whom I love, friends who are dear to my heart, if I was 17. But as I remembered to the dot, at the age of 17, I have no skills to even cook instant noodles or make myself a cup of cold Milo let alone baking a cake. I'm baking now to brush up my skills...
I do have regrets teaching him how to make cakes. He's my student whom I taught Additional Maths and Modern Maths to and I wondered how both of us ended up searching for cake recipes. He baked the first cheesecake under my tutelage.... muahahahha and at that time, I haven't even started on my white chocolate cheesecake yet. So, indirectly he has given me the encouragement to take a bold step forward and make a 10-inch cake, from scratch, without any guidance from anyone. I just have a piece of printed recipe in my hand and with instructions that I couldn't understand at times. You know, I'm a quitter, that's what my hubby said I am... and indeed I am one. 
The first thing that I quit was finishing my piano until Grade 8. I'm one who relies heavily on my ability to sight-read. I realized that I can sight-read pretty well so any piano sheet that I couldn't play by sight-reading, I changed songs. The main reason why I quit was because I detest doing the Grade 6 theory. I loathe looking at it. I would memorize the whole revision book for History rather than trying to understand the theory. Thus, I quit. 
Back to decorating the cake, I only have two different types of gels for writing, a chocolate fudge writing pen and a white chocolate writing pen. When JH said the writings could either be in pink, purple or sky blue my face turned green. So I asked him the next day whether the words can be written in white which he asked why can't be coloured, I went speechless. Yesterday night after making the glaze which was suppose to be as easy as making Gracie's birthday cake because it was the same recipe, something went wrong with the glaze. It wasn't flowing as smoothly as how I did it the first time. Now, my face was turning purple and I dumped the whole cake back into the freezer as it was an ice-cream cake and it was threatening to leak from the bottom. I prepared the cream cheese icing, separated them into three bowls, mixed them with food dyes and got myself a few plastic bags where I smartly cut a small hole at the end corner of the bags. The first squeeze got the pinky creamcheese icing coming out from the little hole and the top. My hand got dirtied and I hate it when my hands were soiled. Instead of having either pink, sky blue or purple I made them all as I love colours and I love bright colours. The round icing to cover the flaw on the surface of the cake was a little bit dented as I turned the icing tube as I was doing it straight from the freezer. Oh, well... if you think it's ugly, you know people always have comments here and there like... yyyeeerrrrr, so ugly.... yyyyyeeeeerrrrrrr not nice... well, I can only say if you're so good and if you think you can be better than me, do it yourself then, no pun intended :o) 
I know I'm not a professional in decorating a cake or even baking a superlicious cake as I'm seriously not a professional. I have no one to teach me or to guide me. If I make mistakes, I will have to stand in the kitchen and face the failure on my own. I have no ideas in decorating as I have no cowsense in decorating. I have to wait for God to zap me with the ideas. I was a little impatient yesterday nite, I started sprinkling crushed walnuts and pinky sugar sparkles then the idea came. I should have just decorated the cake with the hearts. I couldn't repair the damage done or it would be just like 'tikus membaiki labu'. It's a Malay idiom and direct translation sounds like this, "Like the mice repairing the pumpkin". The more you try to repair the damage, the more damage you make. So, just let it be...

As the saying goes, 'It's the thought that counts'. As how I see it, it's the thought that counts, from a simple thought, something great comes out from the heart. It's the willingness of the heart that creates wonderful things for those whom we care about. I hope the lucky girl who got this cake would appreciate it. You can hardly find any guy who will make you a cake on your birthday. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

That Crystal Shop and the Best Egg Wrapz in Beijing...

The evil tour guide, after he took us to the Summer Palace where we were all hyped up, he decided to take us to a place where he could suck everyone's blood sweat money. Very sad to say, he didn't get anything. Everyone saw through his moves at the very last day. Pinky and I were two brilliant ladies :D *thank you for the silent compliment* He took us to a place where I have no idea where we were and I didn't even bother to ask but the moment he said everyone must listen and pay attention and everyone must get out of the bus, I knew he was taking us to some place where he could suck us dry like a dracula hungry for blood money. Right until today, I cannot read those four Chinese words and I won't want to ask anyone for the translation as well. Let it be...
The moment we stepped into the place, all of us went 'Whoa~! Whoa~!' That's huge. It was very huge, man-made crystal, looked like the Mars planet. The inhouse sales rep was crapping about something which I have no recollection of at all of what he said about the crystal. The price of that crystal was equivalent to 20 years of my electricity bill. And if I have that, I could not bring it to TNB to tell them that since I have no cash neither do I have credit, can I pay with that large crystal and get my electricity bill waived until the day I breathe my last?
We were ushered into a door where we were led to watch a short clips about the making of crystals... was that what we watched? I couldn't remember as well because I was thinking when was this gonna end. After that, we were shooed in like a flock of sheep to the next arena. It was a huge place with lots and lots of crystals. Even if you give it to me for free I would not want to put such a big piece of decoration in my new house. I prefer decorating my house with useful equipment and not with a round crystal where you think you can look into your future and stalk on others using the crystal ball.
Pinky and I have a habit of clearing our bowels in the morning. We woke up very early that day and did not have the chance to heat the toilet seat with our beautiful round ass so all of a sudden both of us were looking for washrooms / restrooms or easier said... we were looking for toilets. We asked for the direction but before we could even place our hand on the door to exit the place as the toilet was right in front where we came from, our conniving tour guide saw us and asked us in a rude manner where we were going. I wanted to reply him in English that we were both gonna go do some shit business in the shit bowl. But of course we politely told him that we need to go to the toilet. It sounded more like we were back in schools where we had to ask for the teacher's permission to go to the loo. He looked at his watch, said that it was still early and we should come back immediately after going to the loo. Hah~! 
After an hour plus, and since nobody bought anything, the tour guide finally said that we could go. Along the pathway of the shop, there were people selling the local delicacies which Pinky and I have no interest in even looking. Suddenly, we found a stall at the end of the tunnel shop's compound. I smelt egg and it was one overpowering fragrance that I cold not resist. Do you know that I am capable of influencing people regardless of nationality, race, age and gender? I am of good influence, not bad, don't worry...
I don't really care what the lady was selling but whatever it was, it smelt really nice... nice smell of food is just delicious. You'll need to capture my nose before you are able to capture my attention. 
After looking at the pan, I knew that the lady must be selling egg wraps... Pinky and I were the only people  from the group who dared to venture out of the territory. Before long, the whole bunch of people from our group came running towards us. At first, the lady didn't have much business as there was only one customer before me. Suddenly, we were swarming around her small humble stall like bees looking to feed on nectar. 
That was mine~! It was finally done, ready to be wrapped and I couldn't wait to swallow it. Pinky had her sweet potato so I have the egg. We shared as it was quite a large and thick piece of egg wrapz. 
My appetite was made complete with that delicious and perfect egg wraps. The lady should be rewarded for  uplifting the name of Beijing. After a string of lousy food, other than the sweet potato, this was the best.
*nom nom nom nom* See, if you've read the whole of my post, you would have known that I wasn't concentrating on the crystal shop. The crystal shop was just an introduction on how we got to the wraps. It was really a great experience being in Beijing. That lady manning the stall should be given an award for saving the country's face  from getting itself known as the state with the lousiest food... 

PS. I'm very sleepy so there's always errors here and there... Nitez...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pinky and Her Sweet Potato...

This was when we were walking towards the main entrance of the Summer Palace. Oh, Pinky~! Did you see what I see? Did you see that~!!!!
YESH~!! YESH~!!! YESH YESH~!!! Uncle, one sweet potato please... How much? If you've never experience hunger, you will never know what is it like to have your stomach filled. I have had my large sausage the previous night and Pinky has been hungry for the fifth day. Today is *was* her day. Pinky chose the largest sweet potato. Lord, please don't let the uncle overcharged us...
With that kind of manual weighing scales, both of us didn't even know how to use it let alone read the weight stated somewhere along the metal rod. Lastly after a few minutes of silence, the uncle said the sweet potato cost only 5yuan. With a whopping cry of delight, Pinky handed him the crumpled note.... aahhh... sweet...
Looks like next time if we go to Beijing together, I will bring a whole sack of sweet potatoes so both of can survive on this for the whole time that we are there. Most of the food that we have tasted was so lousy, the sweet potato became the champion of dishes. 
You see, the evil tour guide was hurrying us but we couldn't be bothered. I must let Pinky enjoy her sweet potato or else she might faint out of hunger. We were both busy taking photos and she needed an extra hand for her sweet potato. Sweet potatoes ain't for the poor, it was so costly only the rich can afford to eat a sweet potato.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Summer Palace...

This ain't good... ain't good at all... why so? Pinky, what's the temperature now? It was freaking cold and the wind was blowing. Where's the sun? We need the sun shine but the sun ain't helping as well. It was still very cold. We should have worn the whole luggage of clothes on our body. 
That was terrible... a negative 6 and we were asked to stand in the middle of nowhere. Why were we standing there like a bunch of numbskulls? Oh... the rich man who always treated us to extra food went to McDonald's to get him and his girlfriend two cups of hot coffee as they did not enjoy their breakfast. Remind us of our breakfast... Pinky and I didn't take any and it has been five days since we had a really good and decent meal. I miss Gardenia and Massimo bread. 
We were both so cold that we had to huddle together but it was still so cold. The rich man returned a quarter of an hour later. That was really a long wait. The tour guide wouldn't even wait for both of us for less than a minute. What a mean person he was. 
The Summer Palace and we were here during the winter season. I heard that the empress would stay in the summer palace during summer as the place was surrounded by the man-made huge lake to ease the discomfort from the dry heat during summer. If I was not mistaken, the summer palace was four times larger than the Forbidden City or was it four times smaller than the Forbidden City? I wasn't paying much attention to the facts as I was more engrossed in photo taking. 
Oh, just look at that frozen river. Of course I've never seen one in real life so this was the moment that I wouldn't mind standing there in the cold just staring at the frozen river. 
Oh... more ice... I LOVE IT~! And what was the tour guide hurrying us for? Has he no cow sense that I will never be able to catch this moment again? I stopped bothering about the tour guide hurrying us. We were left far far behind and I wouldn't be bothered. Let's enjoy the scenery... I know it's summer now and it's hot and stuffy but let's just enjoy the coolness of winter for a moment.

I miss winter~!! I miss Pinky~!!! Planning to visit Pinky soon~! After we were done snapping all those photos, it dawned on us that we were left behind so we started running to God knows where. We ran straight ahead because that's the only way to go. 
Finally, we met them somewhere in the palace. The tour guide started to crap about the history of the whole place and his Chinese was so deep when I only have Chinese understanding as shallow as the water in the toilet bowl. I ended up taking photos at the back. And I had a great time doing so...
I have my name whipped out with a broom dipped in a pail of water on the ground. Ahhh... if only my name would stay there forever. 
We were given time to walk around the palace but looks like the tour guide will never understand the plight of a tourist from a hot country. The only thing I want to see more than anything else is the frozen lake and the frozen river. Couldn't he understand that? I have no interest in looking at the temple ground. Pinky and I sat there like two great big stones, not moving anywhere as there wasn't any place to go to and we were cold. See how unfair the tour guide was? He wouldn't even let me spend my own sweet time taking photos of the frozen lake and now he's giving us so much free time to loiter around the summer palace which looked almost like the buildings in the Forbidden City. The structure was so much alike. Rooms and more rooms. Antiques and more antiques. Pinky kept on telling me we would go to Beijing on our own next time because we have the map with us and purchasing our own entrance tickets are cheaper during the winter.

Beijing University? Tsinghua University?

I was browsing through my China trip's photos and I realized that I'm only going to start working on my memory in the 10th album. That's Xiao Mei, my new friend, showing me the spitting skill. Oh, boy do they have skills in spitting~! That morning in Beijing, we woke up early because the rounded tour guide said we would be headed to the Beijing University and Tsinghua University. Two renown universities in the country believed to have breed and bred really smart people. Pinky wasn't that excited to see the place and I was imagining how huge the place would be and how much would we be given to tour those two universities.
It was very misty and there was morning due covering the whole tour bus. That rounded tour guide was telling us to look on our left hand side, then on our right hand side but it's so hard to see anything so I quickly took out my tissue paper and started wiping the windows. The rest of them helped me by wiping their windows. In the end, I have quite a clear view thanks to everyone from the front to the back. 
Nice~! That's the morning sun slowly inching out from behind the hill. I was thinking to myself when were we gonna get down from the bus.
Look at that blurry photo~! That evil and conniving tour guide asked us to look to our right and introduced both the universities side-by-side~! My hope was dashed like the morning mist being evaporated into the heavy wintry morning. The bus zoomed off while the overweight tour guide blabbered on and on about the histories of those two universities. And the only thing that I wanted to do to him was to bash his face into orange pulp. Such a liar~! So until today I have no idea how does Beijing University look like and where is Tsinghua University actually. Was it before Beijing University or after or was it opposite the road. 

That would be the most horrible tour and it reminded me again and again never to join any tour group unless I'm the tour guide and I'm the one who arrange all trips. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

... and I Thank God For...

I have a million and one things to thank God for. Or should I say I have so many things to thank God for that some went unnoticed by my naked eyes. 

First of all, this morning, when I went to the market, I only had a few things to buy but in the end, I bought quite aplenty such as potatoes to make my perfectly yummy mashed potatoes, two pumpkins for Thursday's soup, some fresh spinach and they turned out to be one heavy load to carry. The lady at the market was so kind to offer her help to carry those two huge plastic bags to my car but sad to say, I told her that I walked to the market. Then, a lady who was much older than I am, offered to help me carry those stuff back home. How could I let her do that? Then, the lady manning the stall asked me to pass her my other stuff in hand, she packed everything and asked me to march along. As I was walking back home, I was about to cry. It wasn't like those 'Footsteps in the Sand' but it was equally the same as Jesus helping me to carry those stuff home as I was afraid I might hurt my back again carrying heavy loads. I thanked the young lady profusely. You see, it's those little things that others did for you that you will realize that you're well taken care of in every area. And I'm forever grateful to Him. And I walked home empty handed. I was touched beyond comprehension. 
I would like to thank God for giving me talent of sorts, for blessing me with hands that are able to do wonderful things to bless others. That was the third cake that I've baked. If you've seen the first cake, the white chocolate cake that was supposed to look toffee coloured, God made that while the cake was resting in the refrigerator. That's what my precious said and I couldn't deny that. Gracie's ice-cream cake, I was praying for the Holy Spirit to come work on it as the whole cake looked like it was gonna collapse anytime soon. But in the end, the crust of the cake was stronger than the Great Wall of China. This third one was done in a great hurry. I did the cake until 3:30 a.m. as I started at 12 a.m. That's the only free time I have and to me, it came out in perfection. The glaze turned out as how I wanted it to flow. But truth be told, after making two cakes in one week, both ending around 3:30a.m. I have to take a rest from baking. I enjoy my sleep and I usually float away to dreamland by 1a.m. or 2a.m. so no baking for the time being...
.... and I thank God for the food on the table. There's always food to feed the multitude and good food at that, filling to the brim. No doubt I spent a lot on food but I enjoy doing it. It's the self-satisfaction that I enjoy when I see everyone enjoying the good food on the table. It's pure joy to give than to receive. And there's not one day that any of us lack of food. Even if I have only a dollar left in the wallet, somehow or other, there will be food coming from someone. 
Now... that car gave me a near heart attack when it changed lane all of a sudden when I was zooming past him. He came out of his own lane without even the indication light. I slammed on the brake and the car came to an abrupt halt from 80km/h to complete 0 km/h. I was very angry with this kinda driver and he didn't even dare look me in the eye as his car was only 1 mm away from mine. He should have just waved an apologetic wave instead, he drove past me and as I honked him like a trumpeting elephant he even dared to show me that he was angry. His mistake to overtake me thus, the photo as shown as above. This kinda driver ought to be reexamined by JPJ. Getting out of the lane suddenly without switching on the indicator. I thanked God that He stopped the car in time. Two Saturdays ago, my car was parked neatly in one corner only to be banged by some idiotic driver until the boot could not be shut. I was very upset and furious because that was gonna cost a lot to repair and to change the bumper. Hubby sent the car to the workshop and in less than an hour, the car was back, with the boot neatly locked and the bumper whacked into perfection. It was as good as new and the foreman, who was a stranger to us, charged us nothing... nothing at all. Again, I thank God for everything that He has done. My God is able in every way.  

And while I was slowly filling the house with large pieces of furniture... I thank God that He is in control. My own plans went haywire. My initial plan was to fill up one room at a time and to keep the kitchen last. But now, all three rooms have mattresses, the beds are coming very very soon and we got the best deal from Jelutong Furniture Supermarket. Now, the kitchen is complete and I no longer know which piece of furniture is coming next. It comes when it comes. I'm no longer planning what to buy next, I play by ear. 

.... and I have so many things to thank God for.... mi familia, mi amigas, mi casa... I do have my ups and downs with God... but He's forever faithful... He will never leave me nor forsake me... thus are His promises... Yes and Amen~!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gracie's Birthday...

It was Gracie's birthday on the 12th of July, Thursday... the day we spend our mornings together so it was perfect timing. I decided to make Gracie a cake but after having such heavy white chocolate cheesecake for Wyn's birthday, I decided to make a different one. Gracie said cheesecake or ice cream cake also okay, since she has given me a choice to choose without realizing it, I chose ice cream cake. That would be my second cake for the month. I faced lots of stress just making the crust as it was too powdery fine and it wouldn't even stick to the wall. In the end, I freeze the whole crust for three nights because I have no time to do it after Monday. Then, when I started doing it, I have less stress because I have studied the recipe until the whole paper looked like it has been taking a swim in the washing machine. I have completely no idea how to decorate a cake and everything I see from Google, it looks like the cake decoration will take me years to finish. You will never know how hard I prayed while making the first cake and doing this. If the cake crumbles, it would be very disappointing. I decorated the cake around 3 a.m. and it took me longer than I expected. I was about to fall asleep in the kitchen when I decided that that's it. Let it be...
My Lord must have the thought that the design was hideous so He dropped me an idea. I woke up at 6:30a.m. with this idea in my head and it took me only a few minutes to do it. Wouldn't you agree that this was way better than the previous design? You might comment that the handwriting was horrible, but mind you, I write with a pen, mechanical pencil and marker pen, not with an icing tube. So, to me, it was done in perfection.... and yes, I'm a perfectionist. 
Gracie's day started accordingly with what we have planned albeit we changed a thing or two at the very last moment. Gracie was presented with the dummy birthday cake upon her arrival at mi casa. It was a marble cake but the taste wasn't as good as the ones that I've made earlier because my hands were so fast, I used the wrong method. I dumped the flour to be mixed with the butter instead of the butter being mixed until fluffy with sugar. Thus, the result wasn't as great as the previous ones. Gracie had to blow that spoof candle until the candles gave up on her and burnt themselves into ashes.
Judz brought along durians and I used all my leftover energy just to open one durian. The husk was just too thick but it was worth fighting for. The flesh was milky and sweet. Ahhh... just my type of durians. 
We treated Gracie to a dim sum breakfast after that. It was in Lip Sin, the Red Tea House and currently, this dim sum place, I have placed it as the number 1 dim sum house for the time being, followed by the other one in town, just downstairs my apartment block. The rest of the dim sum places are out of range. There were quite many people in the morning, on a weekday and I was wondering how come so many people need not work. I guess the others might have the same thought about us. We do have a job but there must always be balance in my life. There's a time for everything... or else life will just be like chasing after the wind. We were quite full with all the food mixed around in the stomach. If there's no lunch later on, I wouldn't mind sitting here for an hour or two and just keep those little platters coming. 
We went back as soon as possible because suddenly Juju has the need to deposit some gold ingots into my water cubicle (toilet bowl). I had to drive her car and made sure that I don't fly over the bumps on the road or else those gold ingots might be deposited into the wrong account. Juju is my cousin-in-law and it runs in the family where the inside of them are all full of shit. They're always looking for different water cubicles from the public ones to the private ones. I wonder how many accounts they must have had. If those gold ingots or bullions were real, they would have been the richest family in the whole universe. After Juju's depositing process completed, we proceed to the next agenda. We blind-folded the birthday girl and tied her hands with plastic bags so that she wouldn't touch here and there, we made her stand for almost an hour and we started dressing her up in toilet paper. Hey, we're artistic people and the toilet paper dress looked beautiful. Since we only used less than one roll of toilet paper, thus the dress looked like an apron.
I brought the real cake out of the freezer and the soft crust turned solid hard. If you would have thrown a piece of the crust to an innocent dog, the dog might have a concussion and need to be warded in the hospital. It was that hard, seriously until the cake was thawed for a few minutes, then it would soften. But looked like no one was interested with the crust. We ended up digging the ice cream with a spoon. 
I used 3 litres of ice cream to fill up the 10-inch spring tin. I miscalculated the amount of ice cream and I bought only 2 smalls boxes of 500ml ice cream then Judz came to my rescue with a 2-liter ice cream. Thanks Judz or the cake wouldn't look as grand anymore without your emergency ice cream supply. 
We were very blessed. Lunch was on the house... Yummy's Restaurant in Sungai Ara where we were treated with 6 different dishes. For that, I would write a food post on Yummy. As this is not a food blog, so whenever I recommend you any places of great worth to dine in, please go. Or else, I will only tell you that my kitchen is the best place to dine in. After all the relaxing and good time we've had, it came to an end :'( Suddenly I was in a big rush or I might be late for my class.  Juju was on leave so she went back to my place and dug the ice cream cake for the second time and she ended up in gym, guilty of all the food that she has taken... hahahhaha.... we went on a diet the next day.... Anyway... just wanted to say...