I have been away for long, everyday I manage to make up some time to read other blogs. But I was afraid to look at mine because I haven't write anything at all. I read others and wondering how they have time to write something while I don't, then I realize if I just stop being nosy about others and use that time instead to write about mine, I'll have long list of eventful days. So, I will write starting today.
To summarize things, I've started working on the 10th October 2011 only to know a week later that I have to report for work at my current's employer. I managed to at least stay an extra two weeks at that firm, making it a full month of employment, to finish things I've supposed to finish. I reported for work on the 14th of November. Yes, I haven't been here even a month but the works are compiling and it looks like it never ends.
*I really need to find more vocabularies, sigh*
But today I don't want to talk about work.
I miss my husband. Yes, he's far away and we can only afford to meet once a week, if our wills or health permit. I hope he remembers me like I remember him.
Last Eid, I had the opportunity to tag along my husband visiting his grandmother (called Pan) in northern state of Perak. We stayed a night there and it was an amazing experience to live in suburban village. His aunt, Mak Tam as we called her who lived next to Pan, showed us around the house.
Some cows behind the house
Throughout my life, I have seen coffee trees, cocoa trees, Rambai tree, Kedondong tree and Sukun tree. But I have never seen Sentul tree with my own eyes. I knew the name, but I never knew how the fruit looks like. It looks like this.
Buah Sentul (Sentul fruit)
Like a bigger version of Langsat but with different flesh. Later, my MIL cut some for me. It was sour! I gave the rest of it to my husband to finish. Hehe.
The very tall Sentul tree
Well, I had fun learning trees and fruits I don't regularly see. Someday, I would like my own family -my kids- to live in a place like this. See things others don't normally see. Know things others don't normally know.
Sort of surviving, sort of knowing to live an average life.
Well, well, we are about to off to our parents' houses in a few hours. My parents first for a couple of days, and then his for the last of Ramadhan and first of Syawal, my parents' on the second, then, we'll see. I've done nothing much to prepare for Eid. Last year, my flatmates and I cooked the meals all by ourselves, this year, I might just be a helping hand.
My feelings are a mix of nervous and happy. Happy because this is my first time after five years of not celebrating Eid with families! I've been celebrating with friends, assignments and presentations. This year, I have 3 families (mine, my husband, and us two) plus the whole extended, big families to see. Ahh... happy..
And nervous because I am a new member to my husband's families, so, well, nervous. I don't know how to explain! There are a lot I have to learn. Suffice to say, it every women's dream to have their parents-in-law to like them.
Anyway, since I was off the kuih-raya radar for many years, I don't know what's the 'in' now. I heard the Belgium biscuits have surpassed the Almond London. Well, I don't know. I made just one, my favorite of all time because it's so simple, and so easy to make. Honey cornflakes.
Maybe I'll bake some chocolate chip cookies at my parents' place.
Baituna Jannatuna, as translated into Malay, Rumah kami, syurga kami, or English, "Our home, our haven".
It would be any couple's dream to start a family in their dream house. In Malaysia, to have a stand-alone house is tremendously expensive, especially in urban and even semi-urban areas. That's how we are left with link-house or more commonly known by the locals as terraced-house (even though like 98% of this house type are built on flat ground!), apartments, cluster houses, what else? Hmm..
Where we live now, is a moderate town. By moderate, I mean, no big hyper-supermarket (although one is underway and expected to be completed this year but we all know it will take longer than that) and cinema is two-hours drive away in either Kuala Lumpur or Kuantan. Despite all that, I was actually expecting this town to have a lot of stand-alone houses as the typical residential choices due to cheaper land. However, terraced houses are starting to rule.
I once inquired a price of one 4-bedroom bungalow (if it's a stand-alone house, then it is called bungalow, whereas, I pictured bungalow to be so much bigger, better and lavish than that!! nevermind). And to our surprise, it cost RM360K.
Then, we thought, maybe we'll just buy some land and build the house ourselves. We don't mind something remote if that's where can afford to live, in fact we love a remote place. It gives us privacy, kampung-style. Okay, safety wise, I hope the land will have adjacent neighbours. It's creepy when it's only our family.
So, I continued my "Dream House" dream. And sketched some ideas and translated it into simple Sketchup model. We want it simple. I quite like open-space concept, and some traditional elements of the Malay house. I know my husband would like it to be minimal and small. My initial sketch was quite big, oooops. He loves secret spaces, and he prefers them underground! Well, basement does not sound bad, but with the tropical rain, flood whatsoever... I have to research on how to tackle that.
Then, I am also inspired by the modular-size space used in traditional Malay house. The Japanese also apply this method by their tatami mat. So, by having same space dimension, the construction can be simplified. Perhaps, cheaper?
I like our house to have many windows for better air-ventilation and exposure to nature. But more windows means extra cost on curtains. Another thing I learnt from the traditional Malay house is it's ability to expand concept for future modification. Like perhaps, start with one-bedroom first and add walls as the family grows or when the finance permits. This way, we can control how much space we actually need at particular time.
There are so many possibilities. I am going to sketch more plans and find more inspiration.
This also means, my sketchbook has been abandoned for weeks!
Many have seen Wordless Wednesday being trend among personal bloggers. To some other bloggers who focus on home-making/improvement, crafts or budgeting, Thrifty Saturday has become quite a phenomenon. I love the idea of making pretty-but-cheap purchases, but I don't want to oblige myself to make thrift purchases every Saturday. I might end up not needing the items at all in the first place, but I buy them because I have to buy something every Saturday?
Okay, maybe Thrifty Saturday does not work as 'buying something every Saturday' but 'posting cheap things we bought during the week on Saturday just to streamline the post-entry system'. Silly me.
Anyway, I want to create of series of me "Being Thrifty", just to record the things I purchased, the places which sell quality items in reasonable price, occasional SALES by big retailers, perhaps online shops. All to actually achieve our family's financial budget. Reasonable price and the purchase's objective, are of course, vary among different people. My husband for example, may find RM0.50 mug is really a good bargain, because he doesn't mind at all about color coordinating, a mug is all he needs to drink hot coffee from.
While me on the other hand, obsessed with white dishes or porcelains, and my objective is to ONLY find white cup, mug, plates, vases, plastic containers with lowest price possible. My bigger objective is to achieve this dreamy kitchens without finding myself straying in mixed colored/patterns of plates-mugs collections.
I figured out I must start from the start. It is quite hard to convince my husband of this concept at first. But I am taking my time, and I do not make unnecessary purchases just because I like the pieces too much (I think, except a few purchases huhuhu). I guess he figured out my intention already. Hehe.
Anyway, back to Being Thrifty, are these two purchases we made last Saturday (a coincidence, huh?). While looking for some fabrics to buy for my mother's baju kurung in Kamdar, I found this fabric tucked in lowest shelf with 70% off. My eyes went bling bling, I have always wanted to buy this fabric since early this year. I don't know it's type, but it feels like a soft canvas.
I have ideas running in my head what to make from this; table runners, blinds, pillow cases, baby's pants etc and I even thought of buying several meters each color since it is on ridiculous sale (to me), but I haven't got my sewing machine yet (sob sob) so I asked for only a meter each. 70% off from RM12.90 per meter = RM3.87/m. Loss: RM3.87x4 = RM15.48
Another purchase is these vases for RM2 each because I am dreaming of having white-and green garden. Or maybe as storage containers for stuffs at the moment because I can't start gardening now when both of us will be out of home for a month next month. And I will feel guilty if I have to rely too much on our neighbours to water our plants everyday, like last time. Now I know why most people with garden/orchards seldomly travel, because they don't want to leave behind their hard-worked-at greenery! Loss = RM8
Other purchase without picture is Toyogo Storage Container to keep my homemade kuih raya to be given out to my mother and mother-in-law. Because it's RM2 each, I bought five! Loss = RM10
So the total loss for my first Being Thrifty series is RM33.48.
When I was studying, my friends and I each chose a theme of our souvenir collections. Y chose to collect spoon, M collects snow globes and fridge magnet while I chose to collect postcards and pins. Our reasons behind the theme was to be focused (and not mesmerized by everything in the souvenir shops - which of course we were, just not to buy everything that looks nice).
The second reason is the price. For instance, Y chose spoon because generally the spoon costs her $3 - $4 each all over the country. Fridge magnets and snow globes are relatively cheap (around $2-$4) while postcards are super cheap (50cent - $1.50 according to sizes). Can you see I'm being thrifty here? With the same $3, my friend gets one spoon while I can get six 50cent postcards.
The third reason is weight. While travelling, the luggage weight, especially our sling bag/handbag's weight is a big concern. Souvenirs should not be heavy to carry around. And fragile is a big NO to me. So, when I was considering collecting small glasses as souvenir, I always thought that it would be bulky, heavy and fragile in my luggage. Whereas, postcards are super thin and lightweight. When I had extra dollars in my purse, I sent myself a postcard from the place I traveled because I wanted to have the stamp and date-stamp. That too, sometimes solved I-don't-want-to-carry-these-around-in-my-bag-so-how problem.
My other reason is its visual memoir of places I went. Generally, souvenirs would have something carved, written or stamped about the place, usually being the name of the town or city. To me, postcards show things I am unable to capture. For instance - during sunrise, celebration or past history.
So, while looking around Central Market, I was stopped by the collection of postcards in Dan's Village. I bought this Traditional Malay Costume notecard (for RM1.50) because I am now obsessed with traditional Malay women. Don't you think it's a sweet coincidence because we went to KL to find myself a traditional Malay costume?
And these small Glimpes of The Past postcards (RM0.30 each). I love this mixed media postcards for their colors and details. It is quite hard for me to continue my postcard collection during my local trips because not many places sell postcards of small hometown. So to find something less than a ringgit each made me overjoyed.
Therefore, by being focused, I hope that my collection then can carry out a same display theme. Yes, I chose postcards because I want to do this.
However, my five-year postcard collection up to June 2010 were only up to this, and I'd say it's not growing any larger than this. Can you see this hobby takes time - and money because to be able to collect postcard, I have to travel.
I have to start back my collection. Because I am not an avid traveler now, maybe I have to resort to an alternative option, which is either to join a postcard community, or buy bulk from e-bay and such. Hmmm
Although the title suggests shopping, none of the pictures portrays the activity (my eyes were busy looking for good sales, hence the camera safely tucked in the handbag hehe). We went to Kuala Lumpur for another unplanned trip yesterday. Initially I wanted to find a baju kurung in the local town to wear during Raya, but nothing are attractive enough. Well, some did, but the price is totally not within my budget - so, not attractive. Maybe it was just me being thrifty, but how could such a moderate kurung be priced at RM100. I could make one at half the price if I have a sewing machine.
Thinking that perhaps we could have more choices in Kuala Lumpur, we went through a couple hours of journey last Sunday, stopping by at Lentang Mosque for jama' Zuhr and Asr prayers. Because I could't pray, I stayed in the car and took some pictures around and enjoyed the greenery.
Then we made our way through Kampung Bukit Tinggi, Bentong and Karak. Saw some durian stalls selling Musang King durian along the way (but didn't take pictures of the stalls - my husband was saying that my text is not tally with the pictures - he actually scrolled down to see pictures of the durian stalls but didn't find any). Fine, I was just explaining my journey.
Being back on track, yes I did enjoy our drive. In fact, I always do. To me, this part of Malaysia is really beautiful. The green hills and mountains behind, the sky. During our way back at night, the temperature dropped low because of the rain, so the fog appeared. Very misty and beautiful.
And sometimes a bit eerie to me. Maybe I've heard too much of Karak myth.
When we reached KL, we found a scarce of parking availability, duh, what we were thinking, shopping in KL during weekends? Stopped by at the National Mosque. Okay, we thought that perhaps we could park in National Mosque because parking in shopping complexes like Sogo could cost us hefty sum of money. My husband performed Sunnat Tahiyyatul Masjid prayer while I walked around and took some pictures. It was my first time coming to this mosque, and I was glad this first time was with my husband. There was quite a number of foreign tourists, all wearing purple robes prepared by the mosque's management to cover their body parts in accordance to the Islamic rules.
My husband joked that I could maybe start a photography series of him from the back in order to keep him anonymous as well as a challenge (like what Uncle Gedek does in his Blog Begins At Forty, Natsumi Hayashi in Levitation Portrait or Roark Johnson in A Stranger A Day, awesome, right). The idea sounds really interesting, but to take pictures of him everyday, needs a story - which means he must be up to something everyday. The question is - is he up to the challenge?
Then, because I felt guilty for parking in the mosque's area (to fulfill our shopping desire - now that sounded bad, right?), I asked my husband to find other parking facility. And found parking in Dayabumi next to the Central Market very cheap - RM2.50 per entry during Sunday and public holidays.This was an important note to us because we have spent previous 5 years abroad, we knew very little about roaming and driving in KL, so in every trip, we learnt something. Next time we come to KL during weekend, this is the most convenient parking place to go, with public transport nearby (my husband and I want to travel by the LRT together superbad, because we never dated before we got married).
We went to Jalan Masjid India because I hoped to find some hijab and baju kurung for me, my mother and my mother in law there. Unfortunately, most hijab sold are shawls or awning shawls and I don't wear any shawls but the plain, old 45-inch square tudung, in plain colours, most preferably cotton. It was drizzling too. There were some awesome sales too - RM100 for three kurungs. But I am choosy (because I want to feel my money-eh-my husband's money- to be worth spent). Besides, there were too many people streaming in and out of the stalls, I couldn't make a proper evaluation.
At last, I found one at RM60 - marked down from RM69. Maybe I have saved RM9 but God knows how much it really costs since they are all mass-produced. I just hoped that I wouldn't find somebody else wearing the same kurung I have during Eid, at least not on the same day. That would be epic.
We then break our fast in Central Market food court. The last time I ate there was nine years ago when I was attending boarding school. Such a memory and transformation Central Market has gone through since then. A lot of choices for souvenirs, I also managed to grab some postcards to add to my collection. Perhaps I'll scan them later.
Central Market food court offers a range of local and foreign foods from Noodle Soup, Thailand, Asam Pedas Melaka, Nasi Penyet Indonesia, Kelantanese, Western, Claypot and Chicken Rice. My husband had noodle soup and extra meatball for RM7, fresh orange juice for RM4, soy juice RM3 while I had an awesome (like really awesome, but the spiciness is not up to my level - my spicy threshold is very high!) Grilled Fish with Penyet Rice for RM7.50 and Mocha Blended Bubble Tea for RM6.90.
Then after the prayers, had some pictures taken outside the Central Market and off we went back home.
Alhamdulillah for the cheap parking fee, baju kurung and blouse findings, good and cheap food, and most importantly safe journey back home.
These are meals that I made for breaking fast last Wednesday. They were very, very simple dishes. As my husband used to say; "everyone can cook" especially his famous lines "there is no strict rules or ingredients to cooking" (especially when I say that I need to buy some ingredients to make a specific meal). I know he meant going for simplicity and that I have to be thankful because he never complains about food. But I often see him gets seconds or thirds of his mother cooking, so I figured out I'd make him his favourite; sambal.
1. Mix the fish in tumeric, salt and coating flour. Deep fry the fish till golden (to crunchiness). Set aside.
2. Blend the onion, garlic, dried chili and ginger.
3. Heat some oil. Sautee the blended paste until oil emits. Add in ketchup and asam gelugor.
4. Add salt and sugar to taste. Add some water if the sambal is too thick.
5. Pour the cooked sambal onto the fried fish.
I topped the fish sambal with leftover mushroom, deep fried using the fish's extra mix coating.
As for the veggies, was made from the leftover veggies I could find in the refrigerator. Haha. And because I was too lazy to think about any recipes, I just pan-fried them with butter. No strict ingredients. I made it using potatoes, carrot and baby corn (all thinly sliced), topped with spring onion.
Many knows that trips to hair salon can sometimes be expensive. Many then opt to local barbers because simple hair cut are harmless and mostly affordable. But my husband never goes to the barbers because he can cut his own hair, nice and clean. He learnt to do this during his first year of study and had done this for more than 6 years. He saved a lot from this, especially when his hair grows at quite a fast pace.
So, because I can't and don't know how to cut my own hair, I turn to people who can cut my hair for free. My mother has been my personal hairdresser since I was small, then it was my flatmates during my university years and when I got married, done by my own MALE hairdresser. A couple of months ago, I asked him to chop (some of) my hair off because the weather became too hot and I became all sweaty under the hijab. And that was my first time my hair was cut by a man, the experience was a bit weird, yet eventful.
Thanks to him cutting his own hair in the bathroom yesterday, I finally able to capture some personal moments such as doing personal stuffs in the personal space. Rephrase: I always wanted to take photos of people doing routines (such as cleansing face, shampooing, brushing teeth, shaving etc) in bathrooms (which is very personal space) but because I used to live with female flatmates, aurat is a big concern to me, so I was never able to upload the pictures.
Back to the topic, my husband and I always talk about how can we save money. So I thought I might do some series on money saving tips done by our little family. With some pictures, of course. Enjoy.
Now you can sketch online in odosketch, with very, very pretty pastel palette. I'm falling in love with this tool at first sight hence tried my first sketch. Failed. Haha.
While the others' are amazing.
You can also save your sketches and post it on your blog. I had trouble getting the embedded link because I didn't understand the instructions (-.-'). It was actually very easy. Click on the preferred embed size, click OK. And the Ctrl-V it in the blog's draft entry.
What should I really feel, if today, on our exactly 5-month-versary as a married couple, that my husband jokingly said this when I asked whether he can buy me some nice white dishes (and other things I couldn't remember now);
"Of course, then, later if I ask you for one thing, you should give in,"
'Nothing, I was joking.."
In my mind, I thought he would say something like a baby, or perhaps someday if I can quit my job to help him around.
After much persuasion, he then said,
"Maybe you would allow me marrying the second,"
Although he then saying (for thousands times) that he was joking, my heart still hurt.
I thought I would never have to hear that sentence when I get married, even if it means a joke, even if it means nothing. I am after all, a woman. I do easily get hurt. That is my weakness.
Together with the stir fry vege, I made another local dish that I love love love to eat since my childhood, Taucu. Taucu is salted soy bean, fermented for some time. My mother used to cook me Egg Taucu, with lots of chili and onion and garlic. We are Malays, but all four of my grandparents are of Javanese descendants, so we eat a lot Javanese dishes; Tempeh, Jangan Bening, Nasi Ambeng, etc.
Sometime ago, I read that it is not recommended to frequently eat Taucu because it contains a high volume of salt hence can contribute to High Blood Pressure. But if we stop eating Taucu and still consume MSG-high-instant-noodle we might still be catching high blood pressure, so isn't it better to have Taucu once in a while and just stop eating instant noodle? Hehe.
Whole fish (I use Pelaling fish. Soft meat fish like catfish is not too recommended, I think)
3-4 table-spoon of Taucu paste
Half a yellow onion, diced
4 Garlic, diced
1-inch ginger, diced or sliced
5 to 10 bird eye chili, diced
There are several ways you can cook this dish; Wok or Steam.
I used both. Hehe. Because I wanted to do this fast, I used a microwave to cook the fish!
1. Heat some oil.
2. Sautee the onion, garlic, ginger and chili.
3. Pour in the Taucu paste. Stir for a while. Add some water depend on how much soup you want.
* Do not add in any salt. You will be killing yourself with the saltiness unless you really love salty dish.
4. Then, pour the sauce onto the fish (on a plate), before AutoCook it for 7minutes in the microwave.
If you like you fish a bit crunchier, you can fry them first and pour the sauce to the fish later.
If you want to steam the fish, do the same steps, only steam it in a steamer for a good 15minutes. At least we can make the dish a bit healthier.
My mother always add another ingredient while cooking this dish: TOMATO. I think it makes quite a different. Sweeter and thicker soup. I think I want to try adding in some tomato sauce in my next experiment.