Monday, October 27, 2008

Do I sound testy?

I have been trying very hard to keep it inside, but somehow some testiness is spilling out. And I don't like it. Perhaps its my PMS or just that its all bottled in that some spilled out.

And I don't like myself when I am testy this way. But I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Its very hard to establish boundaries and I don't want to seem inflexible or territorial. At the same time, the undercurrent power struggles and the imaginary battles just becomes apparent to me and I am fighting very hard not to take sides. Because I don't want to take sides. Its not my problem. Its not my business. And some people are very good at spinning beautiful tales embellished with beautiful yarn. And somehow my instinct tell me that I should know better than to accept lock, stock and barrel.

At the same time, I am not a confrontational person. I don't like telling people off, nor do I want to point out reality to a delusional person. But somehow this restrain is just making me so testy!

Its just so subtle how the fangs come out, with the cutest little voice and the sweetest smile. Add in a tear drop or two at the corner of the eye. I understand she feels unappreciated and wronged. But hey, that was your battle not mine. And those were your choices and I had nothing to do with it. Thanks for the heads up but no thank you for the implied.

What just bugs me is that receiving all that saccharine venom is affecting me when I don't want to be affected. And I am afraid of passing it on. I may even have actually.

I will learn to fight the battles that I want to fight and not to take up battles that are not mine. Even if the war cry is egging me on. The truth has been seen already and I didn't even say a thing. (Thank God!)

I just want to say my peace and release it out to the Universe and not keep it inside of me.

Because I am better than that.
I am not her.
I will not be her.
And I will not repeat whatever it is she says, no matter how compelling it is for me!
Because I have learnt my lesson through what she has shared with me and will not repeat them myself.

Argghhhhhh please God give me strength! I believe in paying forward with kindness and happiness!

I don't want anger, malice and bitterness! Especially those that were given to me as unwanted presents! Begone you bottled up feelings!

*sigh* I am human after all.

She wants a birthday party

I had given her her first birthday party when she was one.

And then I decided, nope, not any more. I'm not veyr good at it.

So last year we skipped the birthday party and got her a play house instead.

But it looks like I can't avoid it this year. 3 more months to go and she is already planning her own birthday party. She decided that she will have a princess cake (where did she get that idea?), party hats and lots of balloons. She even has decided who she wants to invite to the party!

In fact she has even invited some people to the party.

She knows her birthday is in December and has asked me "How do we get to December?"

She even practiced singing happy birthday to herself and had imaginary friends come to her birthday party. Just the other day she told me, "Umi, we are having a party and we're waiting for you."

I guess I am lucky that I am invited.

So here I am trying to put a birthdya party together. Found out the date I wanted was not possible for the Kindermusik practitioner. So had to move it forward. The venue I wanted was booked already so I have to book a different venue. Got to get quotes for the food because I don't think I can do it all on my own.

I was such a novice on her 1st birthday party that I did not give out party favours, so I am making sure that I will not be making the same mistake. Of course I have to strike a balance between making things myself (cost effective) vs buying everything (easier due to time constrain).

And striking a balance between what children like (candies and sweets) and what I would prefer to serve them (fruits and healthy snacks.)

My challenge as a parent is to grant her wishes but at the same time making sure that she grows to be a sensible and happy child.

My darling Little One, I hope you'll have the birthday party that you want! May your good wishes always be granted my child.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just because its not a designer handbag

Allright I have to confess. I love my bags and shoes. I know the discussion about carrying a designer handbag is a little cliche but I had to experience the difference myself when I went to a Carref0ur just now.

The guard approached me and asked to look inside my handbag. A first since a long time really. I was carrying my bright red canvas crumpler handbag when the security guard approached us and requested to inspect my handbag.

I normally prefer to sport a nice leather variety (reasons which came to me with this incident) but since I started work, my handbag gets a different treatment. I normally just placed it on the floor of the school bus and packed it will all sorts like lunchbox and/or library books. So I thought I would carry my sturdy headaitch crumpler instead.

After he took a peek, he told me that I must deposit my bag at the customer service counter. (Did I look like I might steal something to put in my bag!) Tsk tsk tsk!

But anyways, almost automatically I said with a loud "La! La! La! I have my wallet, mobile phone and money in my bag! Call your manager!" and using my pointer finger signing no as I would to a child.

I guess because I was so firm and so loud that he decided to let us into the hypermarket without me having to deposit my handbag at the customer service bag deposit counter.

I can tell you that I have sported bags of equivalent size to my crumpler bag before but was not stopped by the security. The difference is that my other bags are more "stylish" or perhaps they didn't imply that I may steal a box of biscuits and hide them in my bag?

At the end of the day, I guess looks still counts. People use their sight as their first line of judgment and wearing or carrying certain things seem to potray a certain image to the person looking and judging at you.

And my husband was impress how quickly the Ar@bic seemed to come out when I was protesting and I have been here too long as I don't think I would have previously spoken to another person with my pointing finger out blazing like a weapon as I would have considered it too rude to do so.

I guess I was just exasperated! The thought of digging out my wallet, mobile phone, passports and carrying them in my hand was just too much for me to bear that my fierce protestation just came out instinctively.

Ironically, I was at the same supermarket 2 hours earlier doing my grocery shopping and nobody stopped me then!

Lesson for the day, try not to carry my crumpler bag when doing my grocery shopping.

Honey, maybe I need a new designer bag so the security guard won't ask me to leave my bag at the customer service counter?


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where did all the time go?

I am grateful that time passes by in a flash these days. It seems that I don't have enough hours in the day to do the things I want to do.

But it seems that I am able to achieve more than when I was staying at home. That, or as my friend KH suggested, I have adapted and managed my time better.

What bothers me a little these days is the changing weather. Woke up with heaviness in my chest this morning. So I tried to slow down so I don't get breatheless. When we stepped out of the house I saw some sort of a dusty fog, not quite a sandstorm, not quite a fog.

And I seem to start sneezing again. I thought I got rid of the cold. Now my Little One has cough and running nose too! Not something a working mummy want (or any mom for that matter.) But now that I am working, I cringe at the idea to have to call in sick and let alone to call in sick on the accord of my Little One being sick. SO I am bumping up my vitamin consumption. I know different studies have stated different things. Some even suggest that its useless to pop those pills. But I am trying my best to boost my immunity so I'll try any thing.

And I do struggle on somedays to keep myself centered. Its easy to get oneself distracted by the passing time and things that people say. But I am adamant to stay positive. Perhaps taking Phillipa's course is paying off.

I seriously believe that negative thinking does nothing but to bring a person down and attracts more negativity in one's life.

I had a conversation with someone who reminded me of the importance for me to keep my positive enthusiasm. I feel for her but at the same time I always believe that the only person we can control is ourselves and we're the only who can make things better for ourselves, no matter what the situation will be. Nothing comes out from slandering other people no matter how bitter you are. Just makes the listener uncomfortable and lose respect for you.

But anyways, that's my lesson for the weekend. I always believe that people are sent in my life for me to learn my lesson so I don't have to repeat them myself.

I know I will have a great week! For those of you waiting for a further update of my Turkey trip, I apologize for not updating, I promise to do so as soon as I have the time :)

PS Thank you Joy for the 12 rules to live by, I so agree with them!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Falling in love with Turkey: Part II

Pamucak Beach, Selchuk

Upon checking in at Rebetika Hotel we decided that since we have the car, we would head straight to the beach. The hotel was pleasant, the room acceptable and the owner, warm and friendly. The view from the roof, as you can see from their website, is spectacular.

Frankly, just between you and me, all I want to do is climb in bed and sleep. After all I have been awake since 7 am the previous day!! But it will be a waste to arrive all the way in Selcuk and immediately spend time sleeping! So I pulled myself up and prepared us for our adventure to Pamucak Beach.

Pamucak Beach which is near Ephesus is 7 km west of Selcuk.

Did we have a map of the area? Nope.

So how did we get to the beach? Ibrahim, the brother of the owner Suleiman gave us the direction like this. "You see this road here? You go straight until you read the main road and you turn right, then you go straight on the highway until the end when the road finishes and you will see the beach."

I have to say that I am always impressed (even now after 10 years of being married to him) that my DH has an impeccable sense of direction and has good instincts in finding his way round places. True to Ibrahim's direction we found the Pamucak beach.

There was much not at the beach, 2 snack bars and some deck chairs for hire. We decided to drive in a little bit away from the main road. The beach was empty (it was afterall Thursday afternoon) except for 2 men and a woman fishing.

The breeze from the Aegean sea was just so refreshing after our dry sand locked, 55 oC summer in R/yadh. The Little One wasted no time, playing with the squishy sand. Admittedly, the sand is not as white or beautiful as the sand is in Trengganu but we just found our tiredness melting away as the wind blew gently at us and the waves rolling gently.

Father and daughter bonded together trying to make a sandcastle with their bare hands. I just sat there and watched them play not wanting to get my jeans wet, but enjoying every nano second of it.

We then decided to walk along the shore of the beach and passed along the people fishing. As we walked past the lady who was fishing, we took a peek at the tub of fish she caught.

"One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish..." comes to mind.

The kind indulgent lady gestured to The Little One to put her hand in the tub. I half expected The Little One to say, "No thank you." But she surprised me and went right ahead without hesitating.

SO the Little One took one wriggling fish out of the tub. She was so brave and not at all squeamish! After much persuasion we asked The Little One to put the fish back. Our lack of Turkish, and our kind lady's lack of English limited our conversation. I wanted to ask her if she would eat the fishes she caught for dinner.

She then gestured to her phone, asking for permission to take our Little One's picture using her sleek and shiny Motorola mobile phone. I smiled to show that it was OK and encouraged the Little One to smile.

Then I asked The Little One if she wanted to give the kind lady a kiss goodbye as a thank you. Instead, she went towards the lady and offered her cheek instead. And the lady gave her a huge big kiss.

If I didn't know any better that kiss was no different as the one which The Little's One grandma would give her. I was just so touched by her warmth.

We left the beach happy with warmth in our hearts.

Until we went the beach again the following day that is ....

to be continued

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Falling in love with Turkey : Part I :

From Izmir to Selcuk

Turkey was one of the locations I pulled out of random on my wish list.

We simply asked the travel agent to give us ticket availability and cost for Amman, Istanbul, Rome and Marrakesh. From the quotes and travel dates Istanbul was the most attractive. Rome was the cheapest but we both have been there already, and Istanbul was the best compromise it seems, a midpoint from the Middle East and Europe.

With my new job and the exhaustion of Ramadhan I hardly did any research for this trip. Normally I would be the designated travel planner, pinpointing the points of interests, places I would like to go, things I would have wanted to see, try or buy. So my DH took full reign this time.

Just one day before flying off, I discovered that the weather would be colder. A kind friend sent some guide books through her driver. And I frantically tried to pack 7 days worth of clothes for the 3 of us.

We were so excited we could not sleep the night before, which was a mistake really because our flight was at 2:30 am in the morning. We arrived in Istanbul at 6:30 am and had a connecting flight to Izmir at 9:00 am, arriving at 10:05 am. After clearing customs, we waited patiently for our pick up for our ride to Selcuk, an 80 km drive.

We were greeted with a warm and friendly smile by our driver Billie. He duly apologized for waiting at the domestic hall. Even though we did embark the plane at Istanbul, we did not go through customs there and had to go through customs at Izmir.

Billie was friendly and an amicable guide. He explained to us the sights as we drove past them. He even offered to rent his car to us at YTL 60 per day. I was just exhausted and clueless. Was it a good rate? What do we plan to do anyways? I know we're going to Ephesus and we thought we were just going to take day trips tours.

Trust on my decisive DH to say Hey why not. The rate is not bad and the car would be very useful has Billie pointed out. Traveling with a 2 and a half year old has its own challenges, especially one who has been driven round with in a gas guzzling SUV.

The weather that greeted us was just glorious clear blue sky and beautiful serene landscape. Even The Little one remarked, "Blue skies make me happy Umi." Yes my child, clear blue sky makes me happy too. We have just stepped foot in the country and the charm and the serenity of the countryside has made us feel most welcomed.

As we approached the Selchuk city limits, Bille began pointing out the different sights to us. First was the Ayasuluk castle fort on top of the hill. Not open to the public as it is still being used. A straddle between Selcuk past and present.

I was getting more and more curios and excited. The views were stunning and the fresh air, just amazing. The fact that Billie's car didn't have any airconditioner didn't bother me at all.

Of course, when driving is an option, the cost of petrol does become a concern. We were amazed that petrol costs YTL3.25 a litre. Thats close to 10 r/yals, a luxury indeed since we are accustomed to paying merely 60 halala.

When Bille asked us what we planned to do on this trip, we mentioned the beach, Ephesus, Mary's house. He suggested that the best way to the beach would be by use of a rented car. But he didn't pressure us or anything. He said we can discuss and think about it and he also needed to confirm with Suleiman, the owner of the Rebetika Hotel, his good friend, who had sent him to pick us up, was ok with the idea of us renting his car.

In the meantime I was enjoying the scenery as we drove by. Tractors are not only used in the olive fields of Selcuk but is also used as a mode of transportation of the local folk. I am just so amazed to see the people, mainly from the older generation, sitting by the side of the road, some in coffee shops, others under the olive tree, just watching the world past by them. This aspect of Selcuk reminded me of the kampung life in Malaysia, something I haven't seen very often lately.

to be continued ...

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Cooking in Istanbul

Location: Cooking Alaturka
Akbiyik Caddesi 72a, Sultanahmet, ISTANBUL

My dear husband, who knows me all too well, signed me up to a Turkish cooking class while we were in Istanbul. I had a thoroughly good time with Eveline, Chef Feyzi, Tom, Charlotte and Linda.

The 4 course menu consist of the following:

Yayla Corbasi
"Meadow Soup" or "Hot yogurt soup with dried mint"

Sorry the soup looked so appetizing that I ate it up without taking a picture! It was absolutely a different flavour for me because I am not accustomed to having yogurt in soups, yet absolutely delicious. It does stimulate different parts of my palate.

1/2 cup rice
8 cups stock
1/2 cup milk
1 cup thick yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 egg yolks
1 cup water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Wash and drain the rice, then boil until tender in the stock. Add milk.

Beat the yogurt, flour, lemon juice and egg yolks with the water in a bowl. Add salt, black pepper and cumin, mix well.

Add a little of the dried mint and red pepper flakes to the stock.

Melt the butter in a separate pot and add the rest of the dried mint and red pepper flakes. Add the butter to the stock when goldren brown coloured.

Pour a little of the hot stock into this liaison mixture and then pour back into the main pan. Stirring continuously, bring to boil over alow heat and continute cooking for another 5 minutes.

Zeytinyagli taze fasulye
Green beans in olive oil

Kabak meuveri
Zucchini patties with herbs and cheese

I am not really a beans person but the vegetables are so delicious! My daughter loves the Zucchini patties which is fairly healthy too.

Hunkar begendili kuzu
Lamb stew in tomato sauce in smoky eggplant puree

Now this is absolutely delicious! The lamb stew may look spicy but the heat does not assault you as they would in Malay cooking, but its more gentle and subtle. And I love eggplants! Just making this dish makes me appreciate the effort it takes to grills and skin the eggplants after! And I love the taste of the sweet chilli that goes with the dish.

Incir tatlisi
Walnut stuffed figs in syrup

And now I know what I can do with dried figs! Especially those which are way too dry to eat my themselves. The figs became juicy and sweet without it being too sweet.

I had a wonderful morning cooking with Eveline, Feyzi, Tom, Charlotte and Linda. As usual the conversation gets pretty interesting. Charlotte is a dancer who decided to travel while she is in between jobs. Through her I then realize that the Hamam was co-ed, not just for men.

Tom is a Doctor from Australia on holiday. We met him in the tram at a later time and he told us about his wonderful trip to the Asian side, (something we didn't plan on doing) and we went with his recommendation and had a good time.

Linda, told us a trip she took with Dr Spencer Wells on The Genographic project. That got us really interested to know about our genetic journey.

Eveline, a Dutch, who has been in Turkey for 11 years used to run a hotel until the landlord decided to sell the building off. She decided to run the restaurant and cooking class full time until she decides what else to do next. She came in the country and fell in love with the place and the culture and decided to find a way to stay, which she did.

For me, it was just amazing how in one morning, I not only learned more about Turkish cooking and cuisine but also met 5 more people who taught me about new things which I would have not known before.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I am back and down with flu

I have to say that Turkey has surpassed any sort of ideas I have about the country. I am still reeling from the experience and it seems 7 days is way too short for a country full of history, life and art.

In the meantime, I have laundry to do and pictures to sift through and hopefully some time to put my thoughts into coherent sentences to become entries.

I am tired and overjoyed and I'd have to report back to work in a day's time.