Madame Blossom's Book of Poems

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

about my money

I have this image in my mind, of a time when I was very young. My father, holding a Singapore one dollar note, told me, "This is actually gold. It represents a certain amount of gold in the reserve (maybe he didn't actually use the word reserve lah.. but something to that effect). All our money is backed by gold. Meaning, at anytime, on demand, I can go to the bank with this, and ask for a specific amount of gold."

MasyaAllah - I don't know how come I have that specific memory. It must have been in the 70s. Yes, those good old days, when our local money, was really backed by gold or foreign assets. However, in 1982, convertibility of our local currency notes and coins into gold and other foreign currencies ON DEMAND, was revoked, by the government.

The government decided to go on fiat money. Fiat money means having a piece of metal or paper that is a 'legal tender', meaning it can be used to purchase goods or services, only because the government says it can. The real value of this legal tender is very dependent on the world's confidence towards the issuing government, and on how much of that money, the government decides to distribute/circulate in the market, compared to the availability of goods and services.

What it basically means is that, my money is only worth, what it is worth at this moment. 'Worth' meaning how much goods or services I can buy with the current amount I have now. It's worth, changes daily. Next year, it's definitely worth lesser. This is called inflation - and rises steadily with fiat money. Didn't you notice? 20 years ago, 50c can get me a bowl of mee siam. Now it's$2.50 and rising..

We need to re-think about what it means, to save money for future use. We need to change our perception of what we need. It's not simply money that we need, it's the ability, the power, to purchase goods and services that we would need in the future - that is what is required. So can saving your money just like that, ensure you that you have the same purchasing power, as you do now?

This is the basis of my thoughts, that lead me to agree on getting this current property, 2 years ago. I didn't want to let my CPF money, just sit there, losing it's value. I needed to use it for what it's worth now - to get REAL commodity. Only real commodities, maintain it's real value or appreciates over time, depending on it's availability. Another real commodity I'd invest in, is gold.

p.s. 'Apa hal dekni.. cakap cakap pasal kuih.. pastu suddenly talk about economy?!?!' Reading about the US financial turmoil, triggered these thoughts actually. I feel strongly against fiat money and the role of banks.

I strongly recommend that you read 'What has the government done to your money', by Murray N Rothbard. You can find the pdf format of this book online.. just google it.

Astaghfirullah. It's a world, so full of deceit and pretence. We have to be constantly on our guard, so as not to allow ourselves to get drifted onto the constant waves of deceit, pretence and ignorance that is all around us, everyday of our lives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

baked products

MasyaAllah and alhamdulillah, the kids and I, we managed to come up with the following:

choc chip cookies - Hanaa mixed and made it herself.

my first kuih makmur

Hadi made his pizza. 1/4 with tuna.. the rest plain. They like it plain or with crabmeat, which I don't like.

then after that buat cornflakes - ni simple aje. pernah buat.

And finally, kuih tart! Tapi ni express punya.. I bought the inti from dadha's aunt. Inti dia OKAY! :) The pastry recipe that I tried is also just nice, alhamdulillah. So we may make more, because inti kuih tart dia masih berlambak.

I'm happy.

Instructions for dummies - Roasting and shelling the peanuts.

I have ever asked my aunt before, a few years back, on how to make kuih tart. She said, "Alaaa.. senang aje! Tepung, telur, mentega.. masuk masuk kan semua.. gaul-gaul da jadi.. . " ("It's easy! Just put in everything and mix.. there.."). I only managed a 'ooooh waah. cam gitu eh?' Didn't manage to do it.

The recipe given by my aunt are for experts. And most recipies on the internet are for those who are quite well versed in the kitchen.

One of the ingredients in the recipe for kuih makmur, is 100 gm peanuts roasted and shelled. Then blended or crushed.

Apparently, that one line of ingredient is the MOST tedious of the lot - and it took me about 1.5 hours and a bit of cleaning up to prepare that.

This is the instructions for roasted and shelled peanuts for kitchen dummies like me, and I also had to do some research on the internet.. Yes, that one line is blown up into this full blog entry.

To roast peanuts you can either put them in the oven or you can fry them, in a frying pan, DRY, that is without any oil. I figured, if I fry it, I'll need to stand there, to move those nuts about. But putting it in the oven would be easier because u just practically shove it there and let it roast.

Well, okay, you don't really just shove it there lah. You set the oven to 180 deg Celcius, let it heat up for 5-10 mins. Spread the peanuts out on the oven tray, so that they become only a layer - in order that they'll roast evenly, THEN you shove it in that preheated oven and let it roast for about 10 - 12 mins.

Once those nuts are roasted, they'll look much more tanned, you take them out of the oven immediately. Don't leave it in there or it'll start to get burnt. Mine was.. a bit. I dilly dallied in taking them out. But alhamdulillah, I realised soon.

Now you let the peanuts cool first. Cause after that, you are going to shell it with your hands.

Shelling the peanuts.. this is the time consuming part Imagine having to shell every one of those peanuts! Of course you don't take one by one peanut, and take the shell off. You grab a whole bunch in each hand and sort of like try to crush them in your hands.. then you take the next bunch. The shells come off quite easily. When you're tired doing that, you can also rub the peanuts with both hands - like you're warming your hands. When you're tired doing that.. you can punch those nuts. Repeat until 95% of the peanuts look shelled. I think it took me about 30-45 mins.

NOW, you need to separate those empty shells from the shelled peanuts. Luckily my MIL was still at home that morning, I asked her, how? She said, it's like 'orang dulu2 tuai padi'. She took two handful of those peanut mess, put them on a small tray and start flipping them gently. You will see the very light empty shells will sort of, stay at the top and the heavier shelled peanuts go below. I did the rest. It was a bit fun. It would be more fun if you can have that it Sarimah?'s 'tuai padi' song playing. No?

After that you can sift the peanuts to get rid of more smaller shells.

After that, you sweep the floor.

So there you go.. roasted and shelled peanuts.

p.s. Pictures are at home pulak. Will upload later tonight, maybe.

Friday, September 19, 2008

limited edition

1. The other day, Hanaa baked some chocolate chip cookies at Cik Alin's. Now she wants to bake some at home for raya.
2. Then, last Thursday, Hadi, actually made us PIZZA from scratch. He made the pizza dough HIMSELF and produced quite an impressive, simple pizza. I was sick and didn't take any pics :( But he'll bake some more this saturday insyaAllah, I'll definitely try to shoot some photos - insyaAllah.
3. And Rus, who is currently back in her kampung to spend Ramadan and Eid with her family :) , also regularly makes epok2 and some other flour mixing food.
4. And I, as I have mentioned before, intend to bake some cookies or even cakes this raya.

I have justified like crazy here.....that it is therefore, worthwhile for me to get that kitchenaid mixer.

(Suddenly my thoughts are interrupted by the remembrance of that good sewing machine, and the trimming machine, sitting in the cupboard, collecting dust. I bought those when I had that sudden burning interest in sewing, many years ago. I wanted to sew my children's clothes.

And I did. Yes, I did.... for approximately a year. I made their baju kurung, and blouses and dresses with cute designs and all. I even made Hadi's cape, with a hood, so that he can pretend he is Darth Vader or something. I can make 3 sets of girls clothes all in a day. Yup... those days. Now..........uh, back to the mixer story. )

I wanted to get the metallic chrome colour, as that would go well with the fridge. But apparently, metallic chrome is a 'limited edition' colour.

What is a 'limited edition' anyway? It seems to me that it just means that they CHOOSE to produce or bring in, only a little of that colour, which they sure know, is popular - so that they can sell it at a ridiculously higher price. All the other colours available, and there are a variety, are currently selling at $779. While the 'limited edition' metallic chrome is selling at.... get this... $1299. That is $520 more for a colourless colour.

I called the company to check if there is anything special, anything at all, that makes this chrome colour better than others. Perhaps it's more durable? Is it like a precious metal? No, the girl told me, but it is a LIMITED EDITION colour.

So, I got the green apple colour instead.
If green apple is not a popular colour, mine would be like a limited edition too.

p.s. Oh, by the way guys.. if you want to get a present for your mum or wife - and she bakes, or wants to, you could get them this. They'll be so amazed if you do. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

status : picking up trash in dresses

Sometimes I don't know why I do what I do. Like updating my online status with something that only I myself know what it means. Or perhaps some other close ones can guess. What is the purpose?

Oh, I know.. I think it is to remind myself of this state I'm in.. but if it is not such a good state, I shouldn't be reminding myself. Or perhaps, sometimes it just sounds so.... mysteriously nice. Yes, like making the state sound nicer.. and try to feel better about it. It's like putting flowers on mud or picking up trash in dresses. Picking up trash in dresses is taken from a song - A beautiful mess. Nice song.

I'm having PMS. currently.. the 'P' stands for perpetual. P which should stand for 'pre-', I had, a few days ago. Because it was kind of early, I wondered if it was depression. Then I found out. And I was sick. And so I was moody and sick and weak and all I wanted to do was to stay home and rot. Yup, I'm having PMS.

I was planning on making some kuihs. After that thing I wrote about 'I can cook, actually', I've err... inspired myself.. haha.. to actually cook or bake. So that day, the pie. And yup, now I am planning on making some kuih for raya.. even though my hubby cried 'alamak' when I told him that. You see, he is very particular about kuih tart. kuih tat. which is the correct spelling? kalau nak spell in malay, kuih tat lah eh? oh, whatever. Kuih tart dia, mesti perfect, inti lebih2. Anyway, I'm still getting some from cik alin, as back-up plan.

So, this saturday, I was am planning on making kuih makmur. One of my favourite old school kuih. I remember helping my late grandmother when I was very young. Allah bless her soul and forgive ALL her sins, Ameen. I want to feel that atmosphere again, or let my girls feel the atmosphere.. the aroma of a kitchen in which kuih raya is made.

So, anyhow, I was looking for the recipe for this kuih, online. And guess what... (..what?). There are so many different recipies for just kuih makmur. Every one I looked up is different. Ranging from the simple tepung, ghee, kacang - to the ones having more than 10 ingredients, including putih telur, vanilla essence and what not. I think I'll try the middle range, about 5-7 ingredients. Well, pray that I succeed.... or even start.

Yes, I'm still having pms.

Oh...why don't I post pictures. I have loads.

This is more or less like what I'm feeling now..

These are the roads I pass thru to pick Aida up.. she's my new neighbour and her workplace is on the way home. So I pick her up sometimes. And I like the roads.. this one I call the enchanted forest.
the enchanted forestaida street

Then, these pics are from last week, when we iftar at Cik Nyah's place.
memberswith familymacam janjiattacking fries

I like this.. it's banana in something very sweet... i forgot what it's called.. salak lepak? pisang lepak? or, the modern name we discussed, pisang spa.
pisang spa

shalin is cute. she must be very thirsty.
giant bottle

nibble, only Hadi and Eema tried. They say it's a bit ticklish at first, then it's quite nice.
nibble nibbleblack and whitehanaa

Happy fasting and happy iftaring later.

Friday, September 12, 2008

maiden pie

Yesterday, after numerous phone calls to cik alin (thank you cik alin!), I managed to make chicken pie! And it's edible!*
I think the only flaw is that, the filling was not thick enough.

I started preparing the ingredients from about 3pm onwards. By the time I finished making the pie, at about 5pm, I felt very tired and my whole body was aching (thanks to the flu). The last step was to brush the top with egg and put it in the oven.. But I felt I had no more strength to do a single thing, at that moment.

I went to rest. The thought of doing some more things, seems a bit unbearable. But to leave the chicken pie at this stage is absurd. Tinggal masuk kat oven aje.

6pm, I forced myself up to complete the task.

Alhamdulillah, akhirnya jadi :)

p.s. the word *edible, reminds me of a line by Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory :
"See children? Everything in this room is edible. Even I'm edible! But that my children, is called cannibalism; and that is frowned upon in most societies">


The medication that I got from the doctor, for running nose, seems to have the effect of drying up the nostrils. It's doing such a good job, that it also dried up my throat!
It was only 8am this morning, and I was already feeling how dry my throat is.

Suddenly teringat pulak pasal padang Masyar, I wonder how thirsty we will be then. Then I also remembered The Road to Mecca, how Asad got lost in the desert for 2-3 days, without water. How he thought, he would die there. His description of extreme thirst, was very vivid, you can almost feel him.

The thirst I have, is nothing at all, in comparison.
InsyaAllah, i'll survive the throat draught sampai maghrib.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

about parenting

Hanaa came home with a book, last week. She said she read it, it's good and she insisted that I should read it too.
I looked at the book.

"How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk.", by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
I was surprised that MY CHILD is recommending ME to read a parenting book?

Since this is coming from Hanaa, and she agrees with most points brought up in the book, then I guess I'd have to read it. Afterall, there is always room for improvement, and I better do so before the girls become teenagers - a more complex situation. So, I read the book.

Thank you, Hanaa :)

For quick reference and reminders, excerpts from the book :

1. Helping Children deal with their feelings.
a. You can listen quietly and attentively.
b. You can acknowledge their feelings with a word,
"Oh.. hmm.. I see.."
c. You can give the feeling a name,
"That sounds frustrating!"
d. You can give the child his wishes in fantasy.
"I wish I could do that now"
e. All feelings can be accepted. Certain actions must be limited.
"I can see how angry you are at your brother. Tell him what you want with words, not fists"

2. To Engage a Child's Cooperation
(*only one of the following at any one time)
a. Describe what you see, or describe the problem.
"There is a wet towel on the bed."
b. Give information.
"The towel is getting my blanket wet."
c. Say it with a word, where possible. (meaning, don't nag)
"The towel!"
d. Describe what you feel.
"I don't like sleeping in a wet bed!"
e. Write a Note
(e.g. above the towel rack) : 'Please put me back so I can dry. Thanks, Your Towel'

3. Alternatives to Punishment
(Apply one which is applicable to situation)
a. Express your feelings strongly - without attacking character.
"I'm furious that my new saw was left outside to rust in the rain!"
b. State your expectations.
"I expect my tools to be returned after they've been borrowed."
c. Show the child how to make amends.
"What this saw needs now, is a little steel wool and a lot of elbow grease."
d. Give the child a choice.
"You can borrow my tools and return them, or you can give up the privelige of using them."
e. Take action.
Child : Why is the toold box locked?
Father : You tell me why.
f. Problem-solve
What can we work out, so that you can use my tools when you need them and so that I'll be sure they're there when I need them?

4. Encouraging Autonomy
a. Let children make choices.
"Are you in the mood for your grey pants today, or your red pants?"
b. Show respect for a child's struggle.
"A jar can be hard to open. Sometimes it helps if you tap the side of the lid with a spoon."
c. Don't ask too many questions.
"Glad to see you. Welcome home."
e. Don't rush to answer questions.
"That's an interesting question. What do you think?"
f. Encourage children to use souces outside the home.
"Maybe the pet show owner would have a suggestion."
e. Don't take away hope.
"So you're thinking of trying out for the play! That should be an experience."

5. Praise and Self-Esteem
a. Describe what you see.
"I see a clean floor, a smooth bed, and books neatly lined up on the shelf."
b. Describe what you feel.
"It's a pleasure to walk into this room!"
c. Sum up the child's praiseworthy behaviour with a word.
"You sorted out your pencils, crayons and pens. That's what I call organisation!"

6. To free children from playing roles.
a. Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of himself/herself.
"You've had that toy since you were three and it almost looks like new!"
b. Put children in situations where they can see themselves differently.
"Sara, would you take the screwdriver and tighten the pulls on these drawers?"
c. Let children overhear you say something positive about them.
"He held his arm steady even though the shot hurt."
d. Model the behaviour you'd like to see.
"It's hard to lose, but I'll try to be a sport about it."
e. Be a storehouse for your child's special moments.
"I remember the time you...."
f. When the child acts according to the old lable, state your feelings and/or your expectations.
"I don't like that. Despite your strong feelings, I expect sportsmanship from you."

Monday, September 08, 2008

getting ready for the race

Last weekend, when I was attending my company's family day at the Singapore Flyer, we saw the F1 lights and barriers being set up. Then, they were also putting up the seats, here and there along the F1 track. Those seats are not cheap at all. The 'cheapest' one, is $298, then, they have the $498 ones and the $698, $1388, and $2000 plus.

I'm amazed that they would pay hundreds of dollars to sit there somewhere along the tracks, just to watch the race-cars zoom pass them, and these would probably last as long as you say this : 'eeeeeonnnng' (something to that effect). I'm not sure if they would be able to even recognise, which car just zoomed pass, especially when a few cars zoom pass about the same time.

Then they'll wait for perhaps another 3-5 mins, for another dose of 'eeeeeeong.... eeong... eong eong eong.. .... eeeeong'. Then wait some more.. and it goes on until the race ends. Or perhaps they'd get the more expensive seats, near the bends. This may give them a chance to see a car or two, going off tracks at the bends, maybe. Then the next day, they'd be able to tell their friends, how they actually saw it with their own eyes when it happened! Of course, their friends, would probably have seen it with their own eyes too, from TV news or the newspaper that morning. Still, the 'waaahs' from friends, would probably justify the ticket price, for some people.

Oh, and most of the seats along the tracks.. have no shelter.


On another note, this month is the month of giving. And that amount of money required to see cars zoom pass, would be very much more appreciated, by those who are in NEED. THAT would be money well spent, being put into a more real cause, then just seeing flashes of car headlights.

So, let's race each other instead, in giving and in doing good, and may we all have a spiritually and mentally fruitful Ramadan. Ameen.

They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and vie with one another in doing good works: and these are among the righteous.

Al Quran, Ali Imran 3:114

Friday, September 05, 2008

I can cook, actually

I believe almost all my friends know by now, that I don't know how to cook.
So sometimes, they'd tease me and ask me, if I had cooked the nice dish being served. I'd always give them that, 'yeah, right' look.
Alhamdulillah, I have Rus, who is a natural good cook to help prepare those dishes, and a mum in law, who loves cooking too.

A few days ago, I was happy to learn that my neighbour, who is a working mother of three, can't cook either. I was not happy because she can't cook. I was happy because I found out I'm not the only wife/mother who can't.

We talked about what it is, that is stopping us from cooking. We both agreed, it's the little time we have. Plus having to get loads of ingredients only to cook once or twice and then the balance just rot away in the cupboard/freezer, waiting for us to cook again.

However she told me, she did manage to prepare a dish before, aided by constant phone calls to her mum.

And come to think of it, actually I have too! I remember having prepared dinner quite a number of times before, many years back, when Rus was not around. It's nothing fancy, but it's edible. And I'm not talking about making instant noodles, cooking rice, or frying an egg.

When I was young, I remember I made asam pedas once, at a friend's place. I have also quite successfully baked a cake or two, and I used to regularly bake scones and managed to make some very nice egg tarts too. And just two to three weeks ago, I prepared baked potatoes and steamed some vegetables.

Given instructions, and having the ingredients around - actually I CAN cook, insyaAllah.

Therefore, the reason why I usually don't cook is because, I don't need to right now. And so far, cooking and baking, has not been a natural passion for me, yet.

However, if there comes a time, when I become a full time housewife manage to work from home, and I don't have a maid, I believe I should be able to pick up the skills and improve along the way, from regular practise.

Yeap. Next time, anyone ask me, if I can cook - I'd say 'yes'. I just don't have to, for now.
This is truer than 'no'.

Unless.... the general understanding of the phrase 'can cook' means to be able to cook without any assistance whatsoever?

Oh never mind. I shall not dwell on that.
I can cook, actually.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


It happens at the office. On some days, I can get super sleepy in the office, at any time of the day.

Initially I thought it was because I did not have enough sleep. But I was quite frustrated when it happened again, even after I made an effort to sleep early the night before.

I observed that it's usually triggered by a drop in my brain activities during those time when I really don't have much work, or the task at hand does not need much brain power. During those times, I'd feel unbelievably sleepy - if you put a pillow in front of me, I'd be in dreamland by the next few seconds, in fact I may be in dreamland before I even put my head down.

I begin to wonder if it's even normal, when I noticed that it is happening a bit too frequently, and even when I HAVE had enough sleep the night before.

It happened in the bus this morning, and the ground was spinning a bit when I was walking out of the train station.

I have to get to the root of this. So I looked it up on the internet, 'sleep disorder, sleepiness' - and I found it.

Narcolepsy - it is the medical term for excessive daytime sleepiness. Considering other severe cases of falling asleep even while driving - I think mine is not that serious. I have two of the symptoms mentioned :

- Hypnagogic hallucinations -- pre-sleep dreams. This sometimes happen during those super sleepy periods.
- Automatic behaviors -- such as, for example, doing something "automatically" and not remembering afterwards how you did it. Yes, I've had this. I would have walked almost the whole house, to have kept some thing - and the next minute I'm trying to recall if I actually did. Or sent out an sms, then next minute checking the outbox to confirm if I actually did.

It's not a fatal condition, unless you get killed when falling asleep, while driving. Na'udzubillah. But it's becoming quite a hassle to me, affecting my productivity and causing embarassment, to look so damn sleepy in the office, at times, even in the morning!

The suggested medications are pills that improves alertness and possibly anti-depressants. But, seriously sir, I'm very sure, I am not depressed.

And, I do not want to have to rely on medications, just to keep myself awake.

Since I noticed that it's mostly triggered by a drop in brain activity - I will try to experiment if that theory is true. Everytime I am about to feel sleepy - I'll do something that is interesting to me - like writing - like now. Thinking and writing my thoughts, wakes me up, most times. But I do remember once, I was sleepy, I tried to write - but I was still sleepy. Maybe what I was writing about was not interesting to my brains. My brains need to be excited or it needs to work.

I'll see how today goes.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I need to lose some weight

Yes, perhaps I really shud shed some fats, especially around the tummy area.

Some man offered me his seat on the train just now. I'd like to think it was because he was a real gentleman, or perhaps just mesmerised by me. But I'm quite sure it was because he thinks I'm pregnant. :S


Someone recommended dear Pink, a book and we checked it out at Harris last week. Pink read a few random paragraphs aloud, which sounded to me like they are quite intellectual. So we agreed we should get the book.

eat pray love. It's a narration of the author (elizabeth gilbert)'s despairs, joys and experiences in food, religion and relationship. I'm still half way thru. I finished the Italy (eat) part - which was quite funny.

Now I'm coming to the India or religion part.

She was talking about getting closer to Jesus or krishna or buddha or yahweh or Muhammad (SAW), in one sentence. It seems to me that she thinks that Muslims worship Muhammad SAW. Now, that is a big sign that she doesn't understand Islam at all.

With this error and the emphasis on yoga as a form of her worship basically - I'm getting a bit uncomfortable reading this.

To top that up, as I was holding the book face down just now, I read the reviews on the back cover. I saw one that said "A good read. I can't get away from it. - Britney Spears, Glamour"

Britney Spears?? If I had read that at the bookshop - there is a very very very high chance that I would not have gotten the book.

Biased? yes maybe, because I just can't imagine that britney spears and I could or would have totally anything in common - even a liking for the same book.

Buuuut....since the book is already bought, I guess I'll still finish the book, during my short train rides. I may speed along on the religion part and get to the relationship part, asap. Then I'll see how it is, overall. InsyaAllah.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Have a blessed one.

And may we all be able to become full time good deed doers, this month and the months after, insyaAllah.