Life's like that!

August 31, 2008

The Joy of Fasting

Allah SWT willing tomorrow is the first day of Ramadan, the month of fasting in the Islamic calendar.

"When there comes the month of Ramadan,
the gates of mercy are opened,
and the gates of Hell are locked
and the devils are chained.”

Narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu anhu) (Saheeh Muslim, #2361)

This year we'll be fasting about 12-13 hours per day. I'm thankful that this year I'm not working full-time so that I can prepare healthier and tastier meals for my family after a day of fasting. The difficult part of staying home with my daughter is to have double the patience when she tests her boundaries with me. I pray that Allah SWT give all Muslims good health, and grant us success in our effort to cleanse our mind, body and soul during this month. Ameen.

River Legacy Park in Arlington

Since early this week husband suggested that we find a nearby park where he can cycle for an hour or two. Lately he has been really gungho about exercising to improve his health, so I helped him to do some research. I found the River Legacy Park in Arlington and we decided to go there yesterday morning. The park has lots of open space for sport activities and good biking/running trails. There is even a Science Learning Center for kids to learn more about nature and we plan to bring our daughter there when she's older. While husband was cycling around the park with our daughter (in a child seat), I took this rare opportunity to read a book "Xiang Gang Wei Dao" (Hong Kong Tastes) given to me by my dear sister. We had fruits and snacks there before we left to buy grocery. It was a wonderful experience for us to find this oasis in the DFW metroplex. Allah SWT willing we hope to come back as often as we can.

August 27, 2008

Learning while having FUN

Yesterday I subbed for English/Language Arts classes for 6th, 7th and 8th grades. To make it a fun and exciting learning experience for the students, I played two games with them before getting them to write about a topic in their journals. Thanks to several wonderful web sites that provide tons of ideas about games for students, I decided on two. The first game was "Pass the Chicken" and the second one was "Spelling Bee".

For the first game, all students sit in a circle. The one who initially held the fake chicken must pass it to the person on the right and list 5 things before it comes back to him/her. Some of the students were quite nervous and had a time coming up with 5 countries, 5 things found in the backpack/kitchen/classroom etc. I encouraged the other students to help give clues to the one who was having trouble. I'm glad that all the students enjoyed this game while showing support for one another.

The second game was a way to help students revise some of the vocabulary words that they learned in the previous grade. Students formed into teams and compete against each other. Before and during the game, I reminded students to be supportive and positive about this game. For those who did not spelled correctly, I gave them the chance to re-spell the words so that they can have a successful experience in this game.

When I was playing the Spelling Bee game with the 7th graders, the school principal walked into the classroom. I was not aware that he'll be in my class so I was quite surprised to see him. Anyway, I invited him to join in the game and he accepted the challenge. He played two rounds with the students before he left the classroom. I'm glad that he participated enthusiastically in the game and students got to see the lighter side of him.

Prayer for Learning

Yesterday the school principal at the school where I'm subbing encouraged all teachers to learn the following prayer before starting any lessons with students.

“Allahumma infa’nii bimaa ‘allamtanii wa’allimnii maa yanfa’uunii. Allahumma inii as’aluka fahmal-nabiyyen wa hifzal mursaleen al-muqarrabeen. Allahumma ijal leesanee ‘aiman bi dhikrika wa qalbi bi khashyatika. Innaka ‘ala ma-tasha’u qadeer wa anta hasbun-allahu wa na’mal wakeel.”

(English Translation)
“Oh Allah! Make useful for me what you have taught me and teach me knowledge that will be useful to me. Oh Allah! I ask you for the understanding of the prophets and the memory of the messengers, and those nearest to you. Oh Allah! Make my tongue full of your remembrance and my heart with consciousness of you. Oh Allah! You do whatever you wish, and you are my availer and protector and best of aid.”


Goldfish Eye

My daughter is having a skin infection area around her left eye since yesterday morning. When I saw her "goldfish eye" I thought that the swelling was due to an insect bite and she didn't seemed to be in pain. But since the left cheek is kind of puffy, I asked husband to take her to see the doctor since I had to substitute for a teacher and couldn't cancel it. The doctor prescribed an antibiotics (to be taken twice per day) and eye drop (to be applied every six hours) for our daughter.

All praise be to Allah SWT although I am supposed to sub for the rest of the week, I found another substitute teacher who can take over so that I can stay home to take care of my daughter. This morning a nurse from the doctor's office called to check on her and by afternoon the swelling has gone down. I've been giving her rice porriage and lots of fluid throughout the day. When I had the chance to skype with my dear sister (who is now in Singapore "sob.."), she was alarmed at the size of the swelling. I really miss having my sister around, and I'm just so thankful to modern technology that allows us to have videoconferencing across thousands of miles apart. Anyway, we'll bring our daughter to see the doctor if she doesn't get better by Friday. Allah SWT willing we hope that she'll get well soon.

August 23, 2008

纪录片寻找林昭的灵魂 In Search Of The Soul Of Lin Zhao

Yesterday I watched a documentary on PBS that discussed about the current political situation in China. A commentator mentioned this particular Chinese documentary "纪录片寻找林昭的灵魂 In Search Of The Soul Of Lin Zhao " on youtube, so I googled it and found the link:

林昭,本名彭令昭,苏州人。生于1932年12月16日。1954年,考入北大新闻系 。1957年被打成右派,但是拒不认罪,继续独立思考,并且批判共产风,为彭德怀鸣冤 .1960年以阴谋推翻人民民主专政罪被捕,1962年保外就医,同年再次以反革命罪 收监,判刑20年。1968年4月29日,以"现行反革命"罪在上海龙华机场附近被枪 杀。

The producer of this documentary, Hu Jie, lost his job at the Xin Hua news agency because of this film. Read more about him here:

Note: I have heard a lot about the Cultural Revolution in China, and I'm always been interested in this history since a Junior College Chinese teacher mentioned about this to us during one of the classes. She told us that during the Cultural Revolution, the famous Chinese writer, Lu Xun 魯迅 (1881-1936) was beaten by kids until the clothes on his back became embedded into his bloody skin. More information about him can be found here:


August 15, 2008

10 ways to remove rust stains

The apartment that we are living in currently is about 20+ years old. Inevitably there are several small rust stains on the basin and bath tub. After looking through several web sites, here's what other people use to get rid of this type of stain.

1. mix a lemon juice and flour paste and leave it overnight
2. leave a sponge soaked with hot white vinegar on the stain
3. gasoline or paint thinner, RUBBING IT ON WITH A DRY WASHCLOTH!!
4. Barkeeper's Friend
5. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (works very well to remove tough scum stains on the bath tub!)
6. Lime Away or CLR
7. toothpaste
8.`shampoos for oily hair
9. Mix a paste of four tablespoons of flour,four tablespoons of white vinegar and eight tablespoons of peroxide. Please use protective gloves. Apply the mixture to the staines. Leave for a couple of hours then scrub clean with a brush and cold water.
10. Magica Rust Remover Spray from True Value Hardware

I'm trying the lemon juice and flour paste because my husband can't stand strong fumes from commercial cleaning solution. We'll see if this works.


Miss my twin already :(

Yesterday my dear sister and her two kids went to Houston the meet up with her husband. They are now in San Antonio and Allah SWT willing they will be back in Hurst tomorrow afternoon. I miss my sister's presence and playing with my niece and nephew already. I can't wait to see them tomorrow. Since this weekend is Texas's Tax Free Shopping for kids' clothes and other items, my sister and I plan to go shopping. Wo Ho!

August 13, 2008

Braised Whole Chicken in Homemade Sauce

My dear sister prepared this delicious meal for us and we loved it! The chicken meat was tender and juicy, and the homemade sauce was just mind-blowing! I am inspired to prepare this dish for my family at least once a week :)


Part A.
Chicken giblets (scrubbed with salt, washed and dry; cut into bite size parts)
Goat/Beef Tribe (washed and sliced thinly)
Chinese Mushroom (soaked in hot water)
Chinese Chestnuts
Ginger, sliced
Chinese Clove
Black Soy Sauce
Black Pepper
Granulated Sugar
Salt to taste

Part B.
One whole chicken
Ginger, sliced

1. Bring one pot of water to boil. Add Part A ingredients. Bring back to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours.
2. Scoop out all the ingredients and set aside.
3. Bring sauce to boil and add Part B ingredients. Uncover the pot and bring to boil. Lower the heat to simmer.
4. Baste the chicken with sauce if liquid is not enough to cover it (Do NOT add water).
5. Turn the chicken upside down after 10 minutes. Continute basting the chicken.
6. After 15 minutes set the chicken on a plate.
7. Serve with rice after chicken rested for 5 minutes.


I Love Kimchee!

Ever since my dear sister introduced Korean dramas to me, I have been trying to understand this culture more. Last week we went to the largest Korean supermarket in "Shoppers Alley" along Harry Hines Blvd in Dallas, and I bought the traditional Korean soup bowl, spoon and chopsticks. I also bought the hot pepper paste to eat with radish kimchee and Korean noddles. Since Korean food is so spicy like Singapore food, my sister and I enjoy cooking and eating this delicious dish. Even my niece and nephew keep asking to try this "hot! hot!" food because it looks so yummy. I am not surprise when my sister told me that kimchee is listed as one of the top 10 most healthy food in the world. All the more reason for me to indulge in this yummy food!


Chinese Steam Buns

This morning my dear sister and I made delicious Bao (Chinese steam buns) with crab meat, hard boiled eggs and minced spring onions for lunch. It took only 15 minutes to prep the buns, and 10 minutes to steam them in the wok (12 " Chinese skillet). Everyone enjoyed this yummy lunch and asked for more!


August 10, 2008

Tracing the roots of my heritage

Ever since my dear sister came to visit, she has been imparting her knowledge about our ancestors' culinary history. She helped me to understand that in order to restore balance to my body and health, I need to stick to the kind of food that our ancesters ate since the beginning of time. For this, I am eternally grateful because I can impart this knowledge to my daughter who is after all half Chinese.

I tried to search Amazon to see if there are any Hakka cook books for sale. Unfortunately only one is in print but it also includes other Southeast Asia recipes. Several other titles are out of print so it is almost impossible to get them.

According to the Council for Hakka Affairs Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan) (, here are some information about the culinary history.

(2. History of Hakka Cuisine)

(一)自然地理條件決定當地物產,因山區稻米產量有限,故以雜糧為主,如:蕃薯、芋頭、蕨根、山藥、大薯為主。又以紅薯 、南瓜、芋頭、大豆做成點心及「粄」或「糕」等,大豆作成豆腐等加工品。
1. Main agriculture: sweet potato, Chinese golden pumpkin, taro, soy bean, tofu etc.

2. Due to poor soil condition, most veggies are dried, salted, waxed and made into sauces to be stored for future consumption.

(三)在烹調方法上食物多用蒸、煮及用油、炸、烤及油爆多,他們認為多吃油膩,才能補充大量勞動所需熱量,也是物質缺乏時代,較粗糙食物的最佳潤滑劑,又因刀工粗獷、菜色樸實無華為其特色。3. Primary cooking methods include steaming, stir-fry, deep fried and roasting due to the need to replenish energy for labor work.

4. With regards to flavoring, Hakka cuisine focuses on freshness and original tastes.

5. Veggies include dried winter gourd, bitter gourd, napa cabbage, ginger, string beans etc.

(3. Basic Characteristics of Hakka Culinary )


(English Translation)
(4) Focus on harmony in culinary
The aim of eating and drinking is on the original taste. Focus heavily on pairing warm and cool, heat and cold food combinations. E.g. duck simmered with lotus seed is considered cool food combination while lamb meat should be consumed towards the end of winter.

強調平時儉約,而至年節則較豐盛,又平民與富人之間飲食亦有階級性。平時三餐早晚吃粥,中午吃乾飯,蕃薯、芋頭是主要雜糧,家常菜多吃刈菜乾、鹹菜乾、蘿蔔乾、時令青菜、豆腐、豆豉等。重視過年春節,臘月開始辦年貨,下旬蒸年糕、打禬 粑、磨豆腐、殺雞、宰鴨做臘味等,幾乎每個地區都熱鬧非凡。

Emphasis on regularly consume plain food e.g. veggies and brans while consume rich food e.g. meat and savory during festive celebrations. Eat rice porriage for breakfast, lunch and dinner. During lunch eat sweet potato, taro etc as main grains. Common veggies include salted veggie, dried carrot, tofu, fermented black beans etc.

August 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Singapore!

Today is my home country's birthday since officially gaining independence in 1965. Here is the national anthem, thanks to

In 1986 I participated in the National Day Celebration as I was in the school choir. It was an exciting experience to watch the parades, performances and fireworks. I never felt to proud to be a Singaporean until then, and everyone there were so happy while singing, screaming and dancing at the end. By the time I got home, it was almost midnight as it was so difficult to get on public transport due to the crowd.

MAJULAH SINGAPURA (Malay: Official Language)
Mari kita rakyat Singapura
Sama-sama menuju bahagia
Cita-cita kita yang mulia
Berjaya Singapura
Marilah kita bersatu
Dengan semangat yang baru
Semua kita berseru
Majulah Singapura
Majulah Singapura

(English Translation)
We, the people of Singapore
Together march towards happiness
Our noble aspiration
To make Singapore a success
Let us all unite
In a new spirit
Together we proclaim
Onward Singapore
Onward Singapore

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.

Itchy itchy everywhere

I've been having hives breakout since early this week. According to my dear sister, this is natural due to my new diet that includes only one handful of bread and rice plus lots of veggies and a handful of meat per day. It seems that my body is purging itself of the toxic that has gathered over the last few years. And it seems that this hives breakout will last on and off for a while. I think since she went through the same diet change as me, and she survived the hives (it happened to her about twice a week for two months), I should just wait and see the end results. I'm glad that I'm not working so that I can take rest from the hives and stick to the new diet.

Here's what I found when I googled "hives":

Urticaria - Wind Eruptions - Yin Zheng - hives

Anaphylaxic response limited to the skin and subcutaneous tissues which characteristically appears and then disappears quickly. Urticaria can be either acute or chronic but in both cases when the rash disappears there is no scarring or any trace of it. Urticaria patients will usually represent themselves as non-round patches which are found locally or throughout the whole body and commonly appear or are aggravated at night or when fatigued. Severe itching, burning or a stabbing pain can be a concomitant symptom with urticaria. If the eruptions are apparent within the body the patient will experience shortness of breath, palpitations, nauseous, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain. A "skin scratch test" can be performed by scraping a nail along the effected area and if the area rises and becomes red it tests as positive.

Chinese Medicine Treatment:

Wind Cold - pale eruptions aggravated by cold and wind, ameliorated by heat (winter / spring)

Gui Zhi Tang (harmonizes ying and wei levels and expels wind cold)

Ma Huang Gui Zhi Ge Ban Tang

Wind Heat - red eruptions aggravated by heat (summer / fall)

Xiao Feng San + Ji Li, Lian Qiao

Stomach and Intestinal Heat - eruptions with abdominal pain, diarrhea/constipation, vomit,

Fang Feng Tong Shen San (treats both interior and exterior) + Wu Mei Wan
*commonly intestinal parasites found with this condition

Disharmony of Chong and Ren Meridians - dysmenorrhea, irregular menses, woman disorder

Er Xian Tang + Si Wu Tang

Er Ju Wan + Tu Si Zi, Gou Qi Zi

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San - liver Qi stagnation


Bai Bu Tang (wash), sandal wood bath (chronic)

Acupuncture may aggravate - caution should be used!


August 08, 2008

"Only the best is good enough"

Just saw the motto of LEGO's toy maker, The Lego Group, which is translated from the Danish phrase "Det bedste er ikke for godt". (Source:

I've been thinking of getting a LEGO set for my daughter since she shows much interest in putting things together. I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old, my parents bought a set of castle LEGO set for my siblings and I to play. We had so much fun imaging scenes of knights rescuing a princess from a dragon. I think that my daughter will enjoy using her imagination with this toy.

August 07, 2008

Love will keep us together...

Tomorrow is the 6th year wedding anniversary for husband and me. Thanks to Allah SWT we have a daughter who has my husband's cute looks and my bubbly personality :)

I happen to find this folklore rhyme on the internet. I wonder about the history of this rhyme.

  • Married in January's hoar and rime, Widowed you'll be before your prime;
  • Married in February's sleepy weather, Life you'll tread in tune together;
  • Married when March winds shrill and roar, Your home will lie on a distant shore;
  • Married 'neath April's changeful skies, A chequered path before you lies;
  • Married when bees o'er May blossoms flit, Strangers around your board will sit;
  • Married in the month of Roses - June, Life will be one long honeymoon;
  • Married in July, with flowers ablaze, Bitter-sweet mem'ries in after-days;
  • Married in Augusts' heat and drowse, Lover and friend in your chosen spouse;
  • Married in September's golden glow, Smooth and serene your life will go;
  • Married when leaves in October thin, Toil and hardship for you begin;
  • Married in veils of November mist, Fortune your wedding ring has kissed;
  • Married in days of December cheer, Love's star shines brighter from year to year.


Thank God for My Sister

(Photo taken at the Indiana Children's Museum)

Nowadays my sister and I spend time watching well-written Korean and Taiwanese dramas on the internet, such as Gourmet (Korean), Fated to Love You (Taiwanese), When It's At Night (Korean), Sweet 18 or The Little Bride (Korean) and also get some of our favorite English movies and watch them together. Some of the English movies include The Lake House, The Notebook and The Wedding Singer.

It has been a blessing for me to be able to spend time with my sister this summer. We talked a lot about our habits and hobbies, and got to knew each other better when we had disagreements. I remember when we were in secondary school, I used to think of her as a nerd since she's always better than me in academics and I dislike hanging out with her because of her "nerdiness". What I didn't know is that she is a generous, loving and forgiving person since those days. Somehow I feel that our family situation during that time did not help to bond us with our siblings. I was busy trying to escape from the happiness at home and thinking that I was such as loner in this world. I wonder how much it would have been better if I had seek comfort in my sister's company. Well I'm glad that in our case, its "better late than never", and I thank Allah SWT for giving me this opportunity to know a wonderful person like my sister while I have the time.

Yummy Corn Bread

During our trip across USA, my sister and I decided to spend one day in Boston, Massachusetts. It has been about 4 years since I last went there, and I really love the city. WE brought the kids to the Boston Children's Musuem where they had so much fun exploring the 3 storey building. We then went to the Market Plaza as my sister wanted to buy things from the Hard Rock Cafe. Parking is sooo expensive in Boston. The fee for parking near the BCM is already $22.00 for the whole day, and $22 for a 3 hour parking near the HRC! (Note to self: take public transport there next time or walk!)
We visited this seafood restaurant Ye Olde Union Oyster House, called the "America's oldest restaurant 1826". As usual we ordered half a dozen fresh oysters. Their corn bread was very good, so my sister bought their corn bread mix to bake it at home. Just last Tuesday morning, Aug 5, she baked it for us and it was delicious! The wonderful smell and sweetness of the bread made us so hungry that it was gone in no time. Allah SWT willing next time when we visit Boston, I hope to drop by that restaurant and buy their corn bread mix.