Friday, November 28, 2008

Just a short update cos it's been an eventful week... too busy to blog!

What a BUSY and TIRING week so far.. but it's also meaningful! B'coz after fiver years, I've volunteered to teach in our church's Vacation Bible School (VBS) and I can't believe it's just one more day to go!! It's not easy to teach children - especially to get them engaged with activities at the same time to part the Gospel truth to them.. now I really salute all the teachers out there..

I've taken some photos but just too tired now to upload them..

Oh, another update: I got back my own car yesterday - finally!! and it looks as good as new! ;) But this morning, got an sms that tells me the est. cost.. :(

Jelly's so pretty (and fat)

Dog-narcissist post :p

Jelly's fur was getting so long and curly and even blocking her sight.

So on Monday, I finally took her for her grooming session...

After spending a couple of hours there... Voila!!

How different she looks!! but still the same (fat) size.. :p

Sunday, November 23, 2008

AGAIN!! but this time it's not my fault!!

I hate motorcyclists!!! Especially those reckless ones!!

You won't believe that I'm so unlucky to have two accidents in one week!! While what happened on Tuesday was due my own fault, this afternoon I was just so unlucky to be hit by a motorcyclist while driving along a congested road.

Well, I later found out the jam was caused by a car accident way at the end of Jalan Cheras. So we were crawling along, and then suddenly, I heard a loud crash and felt an impact from the left back of my car! I quickly looked at the left side mirror and saw a motorcylist and his motorbike both fell on the road. Then almost immediately, he got up and jumped onto his motorbike again. I slowed down and honked at him as he passed but he didn't even look at me and just quickly sped off!!

I would have caused a even more massive jam if I stopped so I just drove on until a petrol station nearer to my house - I needed to pump petrol anyway. And then as I checked, I saw that my left back bumper knocked off, and the bottom part also broke..

trust me the damage looks worse in real than in this photo!

I really hate motorcyclists - they think they're the king of the road and not only ride recklessly but many break all the traffic rules!! Like when we were all going slowly in the congestion, they still wanted to speed as they could squeeze in between the cars. It was fortunate for that motorcyclist that he wasn't seriously hurt but then his bike caused pretty bad damage to my car and he didn't even bother but just sped off!! Such a jerk!

I was pretty shocked so didn't remember to note his plate no. but according to dad, i couldn't do anything much also.

Sigh.. I have to send the car for bodywork repair. I was told that only damage more than RM1K could claim insurance. So just my tough luck again..

Now I curse every motorcyclist that I see riding fast and reckless on the road!! They are nuisnaces and pests!!

p.s. apologies to the law-abiding motorcyclists out there.. just that you all seem to be the minority!!

Update (Sunday evening)
Since repairing the damage could cost quite a lot and we would like the insurance to cover, I ended up have to go to lodge a police report this afternoon. And since it's Sunday, I have to go back again tomorrow to get the report (but thankfully dad is helping me to do so since he would be in town..)

The police officer said if i could remember the registration no. of the motorbike, they could trace him. Ya i wished I took note too BUT that guy just rode away so fast..and i was still mildly shell-shocked at what happened...

Pastor in his sermon today questioned why we attributed things to `luck' - good luck or bad luck. But i just can't find another term to describe this incident :(

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yet another car incident!!

A friend commented that I've had so many incidents with my cars especially in the last couple of years. She is quite right :(

Less than 3 weeks after that `freak fire' incident with my car, can you imagine I had an accident with the courtesy car - bursting two tyres in one go!!

Thank God though as it was not an accident that involve collision with another car, or a pole or a tree.. rather, i very recklessly went up a stony uneven curb while doing a fast u-turn. I have done that turn (which was just in mny housing area actually) like hundreds of times but because I was in a rush and wanted to beat another slow car which was turning into that road too.. I misjudged and crashed into the curb. I tell you,m the sound of the impact was loud and I immediately knew the tyre was gone.

But one thing I didn't know was that BOTH the left front and back tyres were gone at that time..

Thankfully there was a tyre shop just 500 meters down the road so I made it till there and got them to change the spare tyre to the front left, which was completely flat and had a huge hole on the tyre itself!
I was already running late for a work assignment in Sunway. I called to inform the other party but I thought I could still make it with the few minutes of delay.. But little did I know a bigger disaster is coming..

After driving for another 10km or so on the highway, I heard some thumping noise from the left side.. At first I thought the spare tyre was faulty! But then a lady motorist honked me and pointed to the left back tyre of my car. I nodded in gratitude and by then the noise was getting louder and louder and the ride was bumpier so I just had to pull over on the Federal Highway - just after the Pantai exit.

What could I do besides calling for help for another tyre? So immediately i called Nissan and thankfully got the technician head who said he would come with a spare tyre. So I put on the hazaard light, and waited in the car stopped at the emergency lane. It was a long wait.. I wished I have a book or even my laptop with me so I didn't have to waste time..

I think it was about 45 minutes later that they finally arrived, with another spare tyre. Then, I saw how badly damage were both the tyres, and I think the underneath of the car was also hit too.. I didn't want to ask about the cost.. as i'm not sure how it would work out. They couldn't charge me for the new tyres - which I had to go to Nissan again tomorrow to get them fixed (as they needed to order one extra now), because this car is not mine. In fact, I am hoping that I get my car back soon.. hopefully in a week's time. Ya, they are STILL waiting for spare parts to arrive from Japan!

Anyway, because of this incident, I also forfeited a translation work assignment that i was to do for the first time. The pay aint a lot but I was kinda looking forward to it as a learning experience. I also inadvertantly put the moderator in a spot because I - the translator - could not turn up in the last minute! So I apologised to both she and the person who recommended me the job.. but really what could I do. I couldn't just abandon the car loaned to me in the middle of highway...

So now my courtesy car looks like this: original tyres and rims on the right, and a pair of spare tyres with no rims on the left.

Sigh. accidents happen but they're happening too often for me. And now I vow to be extra careful and no more reckless driving when I get my March back!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My baking endeavour: Walnut and Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's funny how my attempt to bake was always sparked off by a particular ingredient I have. The last time I decided to bake some brownies (but didn't blog about it) was because of a bar of imported cooking chocolate given my uncle.

This time, I had bought a packet of fresh walnuts from my trip to Yunnan in September and they have been sitting in a tightly closed jar for more than a month now..
In the back of my mind, I've wanted to bake walnut chocolate chip cookies, but procrastinated.. Until last weekend when I was at the grocery store, I suddenly remembered and bought some of the main ingredients..

For the record, I have done chocolate chip cookies before at least twice in my life! But I've lost the old recipe from secondary school cookery class!! So naturally I turned to the WWW for help. And yes, I did find quite a lot.. but can't decide which is best so copied three of them.

Then this afternoon when I chatted with
boo_licious of the famed masak-masak blog, I told her of my baking attempt and she recommended this particular recipe, which she said has been a favourite of many. After looking at the recipe, I decided to go with it!

It's simply called `My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies' and it's adapted from BAKING: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Here is the recipe I followed, found here!

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt 3/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 ouncs bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks

1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchmentor silicone mats. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well-blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a ruber spatula, mix in the chocolate and nuts. (The dough can be covered andd refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen. If you'd like, rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, ready for baking. Freeze the mounds on a lined baking sheet, then bag them when they're solid. There's no need to defrost the ough before baking-just add another minute or two to the baking time.)

Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls. Bake the cookies- one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point- for 10-12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center; they may still be a little soft in the middle, and that's just fine.

Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully, using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remainder of the dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

I went straight to it after printing out the recipe and then only realised that I needed to convert some of the measurement back to metrics - and thank goodness for the Internet again!

I would say I follow about 90 per cent of it but felt I needed to add a bit more flour as the mixture was pretty soft and wet. And since I don't have baking sheets, I used oiled-aluminium foil which I thought was ok. I also don't have an electric mixer so had to use manual labour to mix the dough.. which was also quite ok!

Anyway, I'm not a food blogger so there is no step-to-step photos to show.. I only remembered to take photos towards the end when I have the final mixture of the dough before putting them into the oven. I even forgot to take photos of the pre-baked cookies (ie small rounded dough)

Then came the slight disaster. It turned out that the baking time was actually shorter than stated. Either my oven is extra hot or I've just had it on for too long before that.. I had followed the recipe and put the timer to 11 minutes (between 10 - 12) when I put in my first tray of cookies inside. I didn't follow the rotation part but when it was about nine minutes, I took a peep and had a shocked! The cookies were already almost burned - very brown!!

But they're still edible, just that it's not the way choc-chip cookies should be!! So after that, I've reduced the baking time so the subsequent trays were ok, looked pretty normal! Phew.

Here is a mixture of the `brown' cookies and the normal ones..

Despite the boo-boo for the first tray, overall I must say the taste was more than satisfactory..(in fact the photos don't do justice to the taste! hehe) Only I hoped I've not over-baked the first batch! Dad's comment was `very good' and he ate quite a lot of it. Mom and the two helpers too! Since we had quite a lot, I brought some (the nice ones and not the burnt ones of course) to a meeting at church tonite and let some of my friends tried.. got positive feedback and all were snapped up!

Actually chocolate chip cookies are one of the easiest stuff to bake.. so shouldn't be too pleased :p Wonder if I am ambitious enough to tackle something more complicated next time. Maybe a cheesecake since mom loves it? ;)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Jojo's new phobia!

Does this thing - a colourful little windmill - look scary? (actually it looks bigger in this pix but the diameter is about 24cm or so)

I just can't believe Jojo is such a scatty coward!! He totally freaked out when I showed him this when I got back tonight. He already looked scared - could he have phobia with bright colours too? - when it was still.. And when I made it turn, Jojo just ran away in fear!

Later I had the back door opened when I watched TV and he didn't even enter - he would not miss chances of coming into the house normally. Well, he knew that `scary thing' was inside the house. Then I went out to look for him and he was hiding at the far end of the garage - poor thing. Hmmm.. I can be quite a sadist when it comes to things like this with Jojo. So I took the windmill with me and sure enough he ran.. but I chased after him.. and then he ran inside the house and went all the way upstairs into my room.. to hide at his `safety zone' - which is the space underneath my sink!

Argh!! once he got there, it's really hard to make him budge! I cooed him and even pretended to take Jelly for a walk but to no effect. I had to ask dad to help and finally he came out a bit but he still didn't want to leave my room door until I had to fiercely shout at him. He then ran all the way down, out of the backdoor and hid somewhere in the garden..

Maybe I wanted to `punish' him for such behaviour, so I decided to`train' him not to be afraid of that thing - Jelly was oblivious to it although if I put it moving too near, she didn't really like it either. So this time I closed the backdoor and went looking for Jojo again and he dashed inside his own kennel. I'm such a sadist.. I put that windmill at the door of his house! So Jojo just sat inside stiffly staring at it.. Minutes later, I didn't think it would do anything for him so i actually used Jelly (sorry Jelly) to lure him out and see. I put on the leash pretending to take Jelly out for a walk.. and true enough, the urge to go out surpassed his fear of that windmill and he dashed out quickly!

Ya, I'm quite a sadist but it's just quite `funny'! Can someone tell me what's so scary to a dog (a large dog even) about this windmill? I could understand still if he's scared of umbrella - he still is. But this thing? it didn't even produce noise...

Jojo, you just amaze me again.. but sorry for scaring you on purpose.. I just hope you're a little more braver - just 1/3 of Jelly's bravity will do... sigh.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Decisions and divine guidance

As we entered into the last two months of 2008 - gosh where had all the time gone - it seems my life has become even more `interesting' with some unexpected things happening. I'm just really thankful to how God has been leading me step-by-step and working in my life - in whatever circumstances.

On Monday, I was given two decisions to make from two very different appointments. The first was related to my faith and my involvement with mission field that requires me to take a leap of faith. The second was related to work - I was offered to take on my biggest freelance work project to date. The client is a multi-national company but through a freelancer designer.

Of course for the former, I didn't have to give an answer immediately.. In fact deep down I know I would do it because i already wanted to just that i didn't know when or how. But i would take time to pray and I know God will speak clearer to me even.. But for the latter I had only till today (Wed) afternoon to reply the designer. I was glad to have such an opportunity to take up an interesting and challenging project but the flip side of it is that it seems we have a mammoth task ahead and would require lots of brain power, effort and time. Deadline is tight and the job is nothing but straight forward. If I am totally free from any commitment and work these two months, i would likely to have taken up this challenge. But I have already some commitments in these two usually busy months.

So after weighing the pros and cons, and also seeking advince from sound-minded close friends, I made up my mind by Tues afternoon - I turned down the 3K job.

And I felt relief and glad. As a friend pointed out rightly, I must admit my main motivation was the money, second the rather prestigious portfolio. Not that it's wrong per se. But to me, I know myself better. One thing is, I can't handle great stress. At the same time, I know if i were to take it up, it would affect those ministires i've committed to do. I thank God i have the luxury of not taking it cos i don't really need this money (tho it's nice and useful to have more!) - in fact, the last two months I've been blessed with almost double the income I normally get!

As for the first decision. I'm less `worried' - in fact, I didn't even struggle as much as the work-related! Somehow i know God is leading me one step at a time. My mission exposure trip to Yunnan in September has not only been an eye-opener but also open up my heart.. That i somehow felt the call to be more involved in mission work - in whatever way i didn't know. But i know it was not by coincidence that when our missionary partners in Kunming found out I'm a journalist/writer, they sounded quite excited and said there's a need for people like me to help in their work - on top of that I know the language...

So what's been a seed germinated inside to return there is now gradually coming to a reality.. No, i'm not doing something drastic overnight. In fact, what has been offered and asked of me is a stepping stone to experience and know more about the actual thing. We know it's not easy to be working in the mission field, but I'm not so worried because even if I'm unsure, God knows. I can just place my trust in God's leading as He has been doing for my whole life - including thingss beyond what we can plan ourselves..

Yes, He knows what's good and right for me. And on my part, I just pray that I will be obedient to serve and to do His will.

So ya, decisions may be difficult but not so when God is helping you along the way.. :)