Thursday, 30 March 2017

Count Your Blessings

Hello to all


It is morning 
Is it mourning?
The sky is gray
clouds dark and heavy 
Flashes of lighting
 shining and glowing
yet frightening
And then the wind 
 not too strong blowing 
yet the branches swinging
At the crack of the mighty thunder
the rain pours
I see it all 
from the comfort and safety of indoor

How I wish the weather would change
I wish the sky would clear again
Just like yesterday when it never rained
 where things went as were planned

Should not I have shaken my fickled mind
To remind
Of leaves on trees withered and shrivelled
Of flowers drooping and dropping petals
The parched earth 
in thirst 
The heat was insane
 without the rain
And I had wished the same 
the weather to change

Now granted and it is here
What blessings do I want more!
Wouldn't it be lots of thanks that i should humbly offer?


Sunbird  


Monday, 27 March 2017

World Sparrow Day Is On 20th March.

 Hi

Do you know that 20 March is World Sparrow Day?

Today is 27 March one week past already but its not too late to celebrate the World Sparrow Day by having a post dedicated to the sparrow today.

"World Sparrow Day is a day designated to raise awareness of the house sparrow and other common birds to urban enviroments, and threats to their populations , observed on 20 March" - from Wikipedia

Here around my house at times there are lots of sparrows. Seeing them always flying around makes me think that their population is not decreasing at all. But then my area is not considered urban. Its more rural than urban.

And I am kind 😉 and never a threat to the sparrows.

The birds build their nests under the eaves of the roof. I don't mind them being there. Their noisy chirping is not really a bother in fact it gives an air of cheerfulness especially in the morning.

What bothers me is when they bring in their building  materials like dried grass dried leaves and even twigs they are not careful enough ( careless like humans!). They drop it around and through the spaces of the louver windows on to the floor inside the house.

That is not so bad actually. These birds I sometimes see fight among themselves because they are so many of them squeezing into the hollow area between the roof and the wall. They peck at each other and their feathers would drop into the house.

The worst is their droppings. You can see it on the glass panes and on the edges of the window frame. Say if you leave the house or even if you are at home but not aware of whats happening after a few days the place is a mess and of course it is not hygienic. One additional task for the woman of the house. Hmm.

Its ok ok . . . they too want a place in this world so let them . . . just clean up.

To most of us old kampung people we don't give a hoot to the little birds. It is so ordinary and you can see them everywhere. They are small dull and not colourful. You just dismiss them. May be they can only excite the very young children.

Do justice to the sparrows. They exist for a reason. They with all other birds have their roles in the ecosystem. They help to spread seeds, they help in pollination. They also help to get rid of pest (insects) in gardens and vegetable farms. Want to know more of their roles in nature you can google yourself.

Meanwhile watch them. Appreciate them. Take their photos.


Sparrow on guava tree 




Sparrow perched on a mulberry branch after catching an insect


The sparrow is quite beautiful on a closer look

There you have it the common sparrow which most of us are very familiar with. Let us be aware that
20 March is World Sparrow Day!

Happy birding . . .

Bye . . .

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Buttercream Roses On Cupcakes

Hello everyone

Lately I was bitten by this bug again and I keep thinking and planning how to address this itch. Ho ho no not talking about the sandfly again. This, this 'sweet activity' which seems to be suddenly catching up on me again. Yes I have neglected it until just lately.

Yeah you guess it right. Baking and cake decorating. My blog is about cheering up life with hobbies and pastimes so it is just appropriate that I include this in my blogging which by the way is something I love to do.  I am not turning my blog into a cookery or baking or cake decorating blog. Am not qualified. Its just that I like doing all these and I would want to share my experience with my blog readers.

Last week a friend asked if I could bake for her some cupcakes and decorate it appropritely as a hantaran. She wanted it to be simple but sweet enough for the purpose.

Of course I said yes. This is a chance for me to have another small baking project  I offered to do it for her foc. And so I did.

I only had one and a half days. I don't mean I need 36 hours to bake those little cakes. I have to reserve some time for mistakes you see. I do not want to break my promise, what if at the last moment the whole thing turn out to be a mess, something of an embarrassment. I am not a professional, just a humble homemaker. Must give allowance for mistakes.

I finished baking at nearly one in the morning.


Uneven browning, the oven's fault haa

The next morning I decorated the cake. It was difficult to decide on the colour. If possible I would like to have a colour as vibrant as this flower.


Desert rose 
Or how about this more subdued colour of nature

Flower (name?) in my garden

I tried experimenting with the colours but I didn't like it too dull for the occasion.

Dull coloured 'flower'
 I have only a few food colors in my keeping. So I settled for something brighter and sweet though I wish I had other choice.

Bright colours, no more


So here's my masterpiece . . .



Buttercream roses piped using the russian piping tips

A box of cupcakes anyone?
Pheww . . ,what a relief. All done and ready for delivery.

And today I am getting a free lunch hehe.

Ok will be with you in my next entry . . . 

Bye . . .

Monday, 20 March 2017

Just Thinking

 Hi all

The weekend is over and its Monday again today.

In my old working days I never would welcome mondays with enthusiasm. In fact several hours before that it was really the sunday night blues. And I nonsensically wished that there were more days to a weekend.

On anticipating a weekend I welcomed friday with gladness and envisioned a happy weekend with the family, eating dining jalan jalan and do recreation together as what a family should enjoy.

But  most weekends for me was a time to settle all the week long backlog of house work and you know what those were. Very seldom you get what you wish to do because the precious hours were robbed away by the chores.

Indeed I felt saturdays passed too fast. The only day the mind was free from thinking about work or about going to work. Don't you know the traffic snarls in the morning? Ever experience getting stuck in a traffic jam? Have seen the husbands fidgety fingers on the steering wheels (?) as the wifes next to them applying lipstick in gusto ha ha. Everybody was so edgy as the clock ticked away and you were no where near your office.

Sunday morning would be occupied by marketing and buying and preparing provisions. Half of the day would be wasted on this. I wonder why I took so much time doing what I did. Lembap? ha ha. May be like most working women I was only trying to be organised.

Sunday afternoon would be a pay back time . . . for sleep. You need that. But on waking up it hit on you . . .  the fear of the monday. Through the night you would be thinking about tomorrow . . .hence the sunday night blues.

I notice people now have different attitude. As busy as they are they juggle their home, work and play easily so it seemed. The weekend is time of joy. A time to refresh.

Perhaps the situation is different now. Advanced communication and technology enable life not to be so manual like my life was. You can even order your breakfast lunch or dinner online. When you come back from a movie the delivery boy is there at your door step bearing your food. What a good life . . . if you are not thinking about the cost . . .

Anyway I don't grudge anybody or anything . Just thinking. As an old timer I try to fit in and go with the flow and try not to miss on anything good in this new world hehe.


Never too old to enjoy this

Happy(?) Monday to all . . .

Bye . . .


Friday, 17 March 2017

Itchy


Hi friends

Have you ever been bitten by sandfly?

Me, yes. I have got a few episodes . Why? Because I like walking barefoot along the beach in the morning. Those nasty flies live there in the sand.

They hide in the damp the dark and wet sand and soil brought by the tides. They also live in the crevises in the rocks and on dead tree trunk stranded on the beach. Usually we cannot see those insects.

They are around when the sun is not yet high more so when the tide is low and the day is not windy. Thats my observation.

Its bite is many times worst than the mosquito bite. The fact is that you are not aware when it is coming near to you unlike the mosquito. With the mosquito you can get ready to slap as it is buzzing and zooming on to you.

The sand fly does not make any sound if there is we might not hear it. You don't realise their presence.

The insect is very tiny.

What I can notice the abdomen is whitish.  I think I can only see that because as it digs into your skin thats the only part easily visible. You may not be aware when  that fellow is digging into you and won't let go until you feel the bite and your reflex is to tenyeh as hard as you can at the spot.

Sometimes you don't feel the sting at the moment it occurs.  You only knew you were stung by the sandfly when you are in the shower later.

They also can fly high because I have  experienced been bitten on the face and neck and even in the scalp not only on the legs. They can go under your clothing and into your hair.

Usually after you tenyeh or scratch at the spot the irritation may go off. You may just dismiss it, just a little itchiness right?

Don't be fooled by this insect. The next day redness and bumps will start to show. and oh the itchiness . . .

Eagle are you itchy?
Another half day there will be more redness and swelling and intense itching and burning sensation and you will feel feverish at the height of your body reaction to the sandfly bites.

My experience is the reaction lasted for several days. Its horrible especially at night you can't sleep even if you already applied soothing ointment on the affected part and the surrounding skin. You may even scratch until it bleeds if you are not careful. Thats how intense the itch is.

The redness and bumbs subside after a number of  days. But the itchiness will still be there though not as bad as before. If you have dry skin around the bitten area the itchiness will not go off completely so you must always apply skin lotion.

Avoid scratching if you feel a little itch. If you start scratching then you cannot stop.

The body reaction to sandfly bites takes some time to completely heal. It will heal somehow so don't worry even the seven year itch also can heal ok  hehehe . . .just joking . . .

If the itch drag on and if you feel it's not likely to go away sooner then better go and see a doctor.

So now when I go for a stroll in the morning I would apply some kind of insect repellent. Even the ordinary skin cream would do. Or even the baby oil. If I get bitten the effect is not as bad when not covering the skin with any. And wear long pants and long sleeve and don't forget the cap.

So do not be alarmed by my entry ok. You still can enjoy the beach in early morning or late evening, just remember to take a little precaution.

Oh one more thing I'd like to add. These micropredators that bite and suck your blood are the females.

They are equipted with the right weapon to gore into your skin and suck your blood out.
(Hah . . .again . . . the females have got to do the dirty job.)

Don't get yourself bitten by insects. It can make you very uncomfortable. It can make you very restless . . .

If you cannot reach to scratch the back 




Grrrrrrrrrrrr
Take care .

Bye

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Microwave Chocolate Cake


Hi everyone

Today is Sunday again.

Everyone would be busy minding  their own affairs, visitings, weddings, shopping to stock up their supplies, entertaining the weekend children etc. So me and friends usually don't play tennis on Sunday. Anyway I had played yesterday evening, two sets of very long and tiring game.

It tickles me thinking about yesterday's game. My doubles partner was a man in his 70s. Our opponent was his wife of about the same age partnering a man also of about the same age. Heeee I was the youngest, but I think I was the weakest and slowest. When I could not take the opponent's dropshot my partner would be able to save it and while he was doing so he would shout in jest 'old man can still run . n . n . n . . .' without panting or he may hid cleverly his breathlessness. Yes we do ha ha ha.

We know we are old but we cannot stop playing, we enjoy and love tennis so much.

Today and tomorrow I must nurse my aching toes, by Tuesday I hope to play again.

When you are deep in the games food is off your mind but not when you are so free.

Today I crave for cakes.

In this entry I am going to share with you how like magic you can have a cake right in front of you so you can satisfy yourself of a sudden craving . Quick and easy.

Oh for some people they would just grab the car keys and drive to the nearest cake shop. But in some places like here there is no cake shop. You only have that bakery that sells mass produced cakes the ones that come in plastic wraps. Not the home baked type.

Bake your own cake.

You have all the neccessary kitchen equiptments use it. They are there not for show. Take the microwave oven for example, may be you are just like me the microwave oven is seldom used except just for reheating. It is made to do several functions. It can bake. Fast and quick. So if you suddenly want to eat chocolate cake then go the kitchen and bake one . Within fiteen minutes you can have a cake and eat it too.

(This recipe is not originally mine. Got the idea from the book in the picture below. Of course as an old person I am in the habit of adding a bit of this and a bit of that, a little less of this and a little less of that  . . . agak agak )



Small Microwave Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

1/2 cup soft salted butter (about)
1/2 cup castor sugar
2     eggs
1 teaspoon powdered vanilla (pure punyer)
1 cup (less 1 desertspoon) self raising flour
1 desertspoon cocoa powder + about 1 teaspoon nescafe
pinch of bicarbonate of soda


Method

Butter and line with paper a 6-inch diameter glass container ( mine is of a very thin and light material)

Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Beat on high speed one to two minutes until well mixed.

Pour into baking container.

level it. ( The batter is not so liquid)

Put in microwave oven uncovered.

Set microwave on high,








I cook first for 3 minutes. When I took out it looked so soft.I was scared it was not fully cooked. So I put it back in the oven and cook a furthur 40 seconds.

The cake was soft and delicate. But slightly, very slightly dry. I suppose I shouldn't add the 40 seconds cooking time.





It was fast. You can even see the cake rising during cooking.

At first I thought of icing it ( I have icing ready in the fridge)  but since it  was too soft it would not be suitable.

I got a small package of whipped cream. As I seldom use cream so my whipping was not perfect. It was not smooth. May be the whipping was not rightly done or it might be because I added icing sugar too soon. Anyway I will take notice of this problem and would google later what was it that I did wrongly.



Anyway I like it.

I think if making the cream is a hassle just eat it on its own  . . . and drink nescafe . . .

Or eat it with ice cream! Or yogurt!

Whatever, when you crave for cake, there in less than 15 minutes you can have it!

You should try.

Happy microwaving!

Bye . . .


Friday, 10 March 2017

A Bird In The Tree


Hi everyone,

I wanted to swim this morning but changed my plan and instead went for a walk  . . .alone. The club pool was occupied by few swimmers who were there earlier than me. It was not even eight oclock . People here are really exercise crazy. So gung ho. They, the men, should be swimming in the sea then they could have more distance. ( But actually this morning the tide was low.)

The pool has only five lanes. I better not disturb those guys though I know they would make way for me.  Anyway I have brought along my camera. I would better go snap snap. Take photos I mean.

As I walked down towards the sea shore I saw a woman was walking her dogs on the sandy beach. Three little puppies. The puppies were so agile, running here and running there and barking and the owner looked hardly able to control them. I dared not go near because if those highly active puppies come up to me I wouldn't know how to handle the situation. I am afraid even to touch cats what more the dogs. I have phobia. I dare not handle animals even the birds. I just like to photograph them.

I avoided them and went the other way and crossed the parking area to the other part of the beach where there are grass and trees along the shore line and hoping to meet up with some birds. There were birds there alright but were only could be heard but not seen. Too rich folliage on the shorter trees obstruct my view to the taller trees where birds like to perch.

I walked back to the club compound did some stretching and balancing exercises like standing on one foot while my eyes were looking out for birds in the trees outside the fence. This is really a case of tak ada kerja cari kerja. A retiree surely has no work so find some work if standing on one foot is ever a work.

My time was worth spending there anyway, at least I have done a little walking some exercise and had a polite chat with the gardener who was anytime never short of advice on gardening.

But the best of all that has happened this morning . . .  I saw a beautiful bird in the tree!

There is a bird in the tree






The colourful punai it surely is beautiful 

Ahh you may say oh no not that punai again . . .

No! This is a another punai in a different setting!


Cheers . . .

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Walking Alone


Hi friends

Some people like to go for their morning walk in groups. While walking they can chat and exchange info and news. Well . . . . it really are gossips!

How else can you make life a little interesting? Exchange the latest the funniest and the most hilarious.

So if you meet a group of women puffing and panting away don't think it was caused by their vigorous pulsating walk. Its their babbling and laughing all the way . . .

Same thing here on the tennis courts. The puffing and panting are usually from laughs and babbles . . . or sometimes from yelling out of anger, not at your friend but at yourself for hitting some foolish shots.

Joy of slapping
Group activity can be fun. There are people around to respond to your antics. You can laugh and let out screams. Feel the joy like being released.  An escape from the stress and the monotony of everyday life.

It depends on what type of person we are whether we are the gregarious type or loners.

Sometimes you like to do things alone like going for a walk. Not that you are particularly a loner but its easier this way because you don't have the time and patient to give in to the whims of others and they, may be to yours. They might not be able to keep up pace (not necessarily literally) with you and you to theirs.

When you go alone you don't have to wait on anybody who might not be punctual, nor you should expect be waited upon like a big shot if you are late to appear. On the trail you can stop where ever you want to. You can be serious, do some deep thinking and don't have to laugh at the not so funny jokes and you don't have to crack your head to reciprocate. In fact you are cutting out all the unnecessary 'noise' by being alone.

When you walk alone you yourself decide which path to take. If you happen to swerve no one will be there calling out for you to walk straight on. That is a disadvatage unfortunately. But then if you take a turn and nobody calls you back you might come up to whole new experience. Who knows.

Unless you are so timid and too scared of going alone you don't need others to show you the way and be accompanied all the time. Why let others lead you when they themselves are not free of stumbles and of taking the wrong turns. We shouldn't be like cows of the herd mentality kind. By the way some cows by themselves know where the green pastures are.

Hey what am I writing about? I have digressed.

Actually I only wanted to write simply about my morning walk which ended in bird watching. About seeing so many birds flying high but none could be captured in the photos. About the meet up once again with the scaly breasted munia.


Birds are free to fly high

Forever in the search

But down here among the grass

If you care to look and to find

And care to dig around

Are worms and flies

And insects of all kinds to feast upon

Scaly Breasted Munia 

So friends sorry for my digression. But give a thought to it  ok?

We'll meet again in the coming entry.

Till then . . .bye . . .