Life is a jigsaw puzzle. Every segment of the puzzle is formed by different elements of life. I cherish all my felicity elements, what about you?

Monday, June 26, 2006


Previously, busy packing.

Yesterday, busy moving.

Now, busy unpacking, amidst the hectic work schedule.

Additionally, I don't have internet connection at home for now. That implies of minimal online activity.

I miss everyone.

Be good.

Friday, June 16, 2006

'Ikea is cheap! '

This certainly is one of the most significant 'culture shock' I have developed ever since I live in this continent. Yeah, you heard me right, Ikea is considered as 'cheap' here. Yes the currency rates does play a major role in this issue, but the lifestyle over here is another major determining factor that indeed "Ikea is cheap". Relatively, at least.

I remember when Ikea first opened in Malaysia in 1-Utama, it was simply phenomenal. The Ikea culture quickly become 'the most desired' lifestyle of the younger generation, and many of us desperately pursue a life that is synonymous to the styles/designs that are portrayed by Ikea. Perhaps we are tired of those 3D furniture style as easily available in Old Klang Road (of Kuala Lumpur), or maybe it is because the merchandizes that Ikea carried is more of a Western design and that brings in a refreshing scene to the home furniture world. Whatever it is, Ikea surely has captured everyone's attention.

However, nice things often come with a 'nice' price tag. Hey, aesthetic costs. While the nice Ikea reclining chair, the nice decor items, the frames, the arts, the sofas, the beds, the toys, the rugs, the cabinet, the so on and so forth are definitely some of the 'must-have' in most of the Klang Valley households back home, it is no doubt that most of the Ikea furnitures are priced on a higher price range than those that you can get from an ordinary furniture store in Malaysia.

My fiance has a cousin who resides in NYC. When I first visited his upscale apartment at the end of 2004 I was totally blown away by the interior design. Hey I have never been to any apartment that is of that standard. During one of the meal I asked him where does he normally go for his furniture shopping, and before he could answer me I promptly continued 'like Ikea, maybe?' He threw me a shock look, and uttered these 3 words that stumbled me 'Ikea is cheap!' I rationalized that it must be the exchange rate that lead to this statement. And of course, New Yorkers earning is normally higher than the general population due to the high living standard and cost of living. But to tell me Ikea is cheap? 'No way ...!' I thought.

The aforementioned happened before I reside in USA. Honestly this statement makes more sense after spending sometime living here. I realize that the demand of general American population when it comes to home furniture is very different from back home. Take mattress for example, here you will NEVER see something like thin tilam (hey I can't even find a translation for thin tilam in English) but only thick mattresses that highlights all sorts of neat features. Sleep number, firm vs softness, special coil/spring, special contour design, heat tempered, memory foam, just to name a few. At home in M'sia mine mattress was bought from pasar malam (Malay: night market), yet here you're 'forced' to get a proper mattress for aat least a few hundred bucks because you can't get anything that is of a lesser standard. Recently I have been shopping around for a sofa/loveseat/futon, and guess what, I don't see any sofa that is priced below $500, but Ikea has so much to offer when it comes to more affordable deals. This goes the same for bed frame, coffee table, etc etc etc. Now I agree that Ikea really is cheap, cheap in a more affordable way ... Quality wise, hmmm, maybe, because I think most of the furnitures here are made in this country. Guess that would lead to the high price due to the high labour fees.

When I think about this retrospectively, I hope my fiance's cousin wasn't offended by me. Hey I seriously did not have any idea about the furniture scene in USA. To make matter worse, he doesn't only go to fancy store for his furniture, he goes to SoHo (an eclectic neighbourhood in NYC that is a heaven to many artists) to buy his stuffs. How can that be synonymous to Ikea?


I took a year and a half to learn my lesson.
Hey, the next time if you ever hear this, don't say you're not warned!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Chee Cheong Fun !!

Chee Cheong Fun is THE food that I miss the most when I am away from home. I miss it fondly mostly because previously I don't get to sample this food almost at all here in North America. Sure I can get those Hong Kong style Cheong Fun from dimsum restaurant, but that won't satisfy my palate as the type of Chee Cheong Fun that captures my heart remains to be those that are sold in morning market or hawker stall in Malaysia, where you can get multiple types of different pieces like fish cakes, fish balls, yong tau foo and etc to go with the Fun (special noodles). And once you're done selecting what you want, the vendor will slice the pieces for you, and have your meal served either with special sweet sauce with chilli sauce, or curry broth. Oh, how I miss that.

In these days, however, things have changed slightly in my life. Guess what, the asian grocery store that I often visit is selling pre-made chee cheong fun! All I have to do is to steam them! What's more, I can get the flatten-fish-cake (or more commonly known as 'foo-pei' in KL, Malaysia) in the Korean grocery store in DC Washington! Yes, the special sweet sauce is no where to be found and I don't get that recipe from at all, but guess what, Hoisin Sauce is a good substitute! I liquify the sauce slightly, and voila, I have almost all my ingredients!

See the 'fun'? Oh I am so happy! ^_^

The 'foo-pei', top with crisp fried shallots. Oh, delicious!

They do look like the real deal, don't they?

Honestly, I don't miss home so much anymore ...

This lil' food cures my homesickness. Well, just a tiny bit, but it definitely works.
YummO! =)

p/s: now I wish I have the recipe for the curry broth. Can anyone help me? Please share, ya? Thanks.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Happy Belated Duan Wu Jie.

Recent days I have been so ... hmmm, caught up with my work. At work I usually have to spend long hours starring at the PC monitor. Consequently, when I am back at home after work, opening my laptop and work on it doesn't seem to be a leisure activity to me at all. And so ... I haven't been typing any post, nor hopping to other blogs.

Anyhow, I managed to find some time to make some rice dumplings. The last time I did this was like, 2 years ago. Honestly, I like making rice dumplings. I like seeing the ingredients from scratch, and with my effort, they turned out to be something else. Something I miss with a fond heart.

The ingredients of my lovely dumplings:

Peeled mung beans. Ohh, I absolutely love this.

I managed to get some packaged, pre-cooked chestnut here from my asian grocery store. Since the chestnuts were precooked, I thought they would turn out extremely soft after 2.5 hours of cooking together with other ingredients in my rice dumplings. Surprisingly the hardness remained.

Yes, you don't usually see this in rice dumplings, but I like them. I don't like black-eyed peas, so I opted for these colourful beans instead.

Mushrooms ... how can this ingredient not to be included?

The bamboo leaves. Washed, cooked, and soaked. The strings are actually raffia strings that I bought from a local art store. You don't get these type of strings from grocery stores. I believe people here these days will use hemp strings instead.

All my side ingredients. I was contemplating whether or not to include pork as I don't cook any pork these days. Yet somehow, rice dumplings just don't seem to be complete without any pork. So, I had pork included as part of my rice dumplings. The pork was marinated overnight with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, garlic, garlic powder, and most importantly 5 spice powder.

The main ingredients, glutinous rice with dried shrimps. Glutinous rice was soaked overnight, then fried with lots of garlic, dried shrimps, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, brown sugar ( I don't use any fine sugar these days, only brown sugar) and lots of salt. The saltiness of the rice would lose a great deal during the long hours of cooking. It is okay to make the rice to be more salty at this stage.

Rice dumplings. Making-in-process. Instead of 2 leaves, I would use 3 to make them into pillow shape.

Because I don't get to have the strings to be tied as a bunch, I was not able to make my dumplings into the ordinary multi-pyramid shape. This is how I like it, pillow-shape rice dumplings. In a way, it is easier to make, and I don't run the risk of having the rice leak out from my bamboo leaves.

After making all the dumplings, I put all of them into a giant stock pot, and top it up with hot water and a few tbsp of salt. The dumplings were cooked for 2.5 hours in the pot.

I didn't take any pictures from the dumplings I made this time. Whenever I unwrapped one, I would dig in right away. The end result looked pretty much like this, except I had red & green beans this time, instead of soy beans as shown in the picture.

I really like rice dumplings, and am glad that I actually do know how to make it myself.

So, how was your Duan Wu Jie (Chinese Rice Dumpling Day) on May 31, 2006?
I look forward to sharing your stories. =)

Friday, June 02, 2006

My moments of pleasure.

Another round of tagging it seems. I know I have a bad record in submitting tags like this, so I better work on this as it seems to be rather easy. Much thanks to Mr.Egghead for this 'invitation'. =p

Name 10 of Life’s Simple Pleasures, and tag 10 other poor sods to recall theirs. The catch: Try to be original and not use things that others have already mentioned.

Oh wait, I have to be original ... ? Oh shoot, don't you know that I live a very mundane life. How would a mediocre like mine generate much originality? Aiks.

Oh well, let's see ...

Greenapple's life's simple pleasures:

1. Pay day. I am paid once a fortnight, so life is easier when it comes to maneuvering the fund for bills and etc. Every alternate Friday is the day I fondly anticipate.

2. Blog-hopping. I am not joking here. Some of my favs are Egghead, Twinsmom, Zara's mum, and MomofAshley's work. I love reading the dearly, and sometimes funny act of their lil' precious. Blogs like these always remind me of the ultimate simplest pleasure.

3. Call home and chit-chat with my mum. Have been doing this for years. I will normally do it once a week.

4. Have the time to cook and enjoy the food with Tomato. Tomato is my no.1 supporter as he would sapu everything I cook (except bitter-melon as he absolutely loathes this fresh produce!).

5. Have the time, and the money for movies with Tomato.

6. Have the time, and the energy to go study paktoh-logy with Tomato. Be forever grateful that I found my man at the age of 18, and our relationship remains to be strong-standing after 8 years of courtship.

7. To lie on the bed and be a couch potato as a way to relax.

8. Instruments at work work perfectly. No glitches. No major problems. Calibrations and QC works well. No gossips heard. No drama presented at work whatsoever ...

9. Losing weight ... (what an arduous effort)

The last but not the least:
10. A full and warm embrace by Tomato.

This is not as easy as I first thought. I am sure if I have child(ren) it will be easier to come out with a list like that as the list will probably be revolving around the lil' bundle of joy.

The blogs I read have pretty much been tagged by this assignment. Even if you haven't, I don't feel like dragging you in. Hey, I am nice, you know?

Alright, you are now free to be dismissed ... See you later! =)


Tomato & Greenapple's 8th Dating Anni.
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