Life's like that!

December 31, 2008

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

Mmmm... spongy and light...

After baking...

Cake batter... before baking...

Sr. Anita made this delicious cake for us on several occasions, and husband loves to eat this cake. All praise be to Allah SWT I found the recipe on YouTube.

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake or "Bolu Sarang Semut"
Note: I used half of all ingredients listed below and baked the batter in a 8x8 inch square pan for 35 minutes.


Part A
210g Granulated Sugar
240g Water
80g Butter

1. Melt sugar in small sauce pan.
2. When golden brown, add water. (Watch out for hot steam!)
3. Add cut butter into mixture and let cool completely.

Part B
6 eggs
160g Sweetened Condensed Milk

1. Beat eggs.
2. Add condensed milk. Set aside.

Part C
180g All Purpose Flour
2.5 teaspoon Baking Soda

Assembly Directions:
1. Sift Part C into egg mixture. Mix well.
2. Add caramel sugar mixture. Mix well.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
4. Pour mixture into one greased 9 inch round pan and let it set for 15 minutes.
5. Bake batter for 1 hour or skewer comes out clean.
6. Cake may be served warm or cold.


Last Updates of 2008

On Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, I prepared the sweet Chinese dessert, glutinous rice ball with peanut filling, for husband and daughter.

When I was in primary and secondary school, my mother would buy the ready made paste and boil small pink and white rice balls in sugar cane syrup.

All praise be to Allah SWT I bought this pack of glutinous rice balls that was made in Singapore and it is permissible for Muslims to consume. Is that coincidence or not?


The Wall Street Journal has been delivered to my apartment since I signed up for this free subscription from a hotel stay redeemption offer about one month ago. I love to read this type of publication because I learn so much about the current news and financial analysis from it. Every morning while daughter watches Sesame Street on PBS, I read the day's newspaper. Ah... the joy of reading...

Allah SWT willing I will be donating copies of the newspaper at the Islamic school's paper recycling program.

Last Thursday my father-in-law had a stroke at his home in Pahang, Malaysia. He was sent to the local community hospital on Friday by my sister-in-law. Then on Saturday he had another stroke at the hospital. Husband called his sister every two hours to get the update of his father's health.

Since this community hospital did not have an attending doctor, he was transferred to the larger public hospital on Saturday. Unfortunately the doctor was on vacation and will be back early this week. So the nurses note down observations of my FIL's health and on Tuesday, the doctor took a closer look at his condition.

So far my FIL has been taking a blood thinning medicine and the doctor wants to keep him in the hospital for three more days for observation. Husband has been reciting selected chapters from the Holy Qur'an for his father. Since he was on the phone in his room quite constantly, daughter was trying to get his attention by banging on his door. I'm also feeling quite stressed out by this sudden news. Allah SWT willing may my FIL recover soon.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I had three kids at my place to cook and do craft activities.

On Tuesday, Indris, Suhayla and Zayna prepared beef and veggie soup for lunch. Then they hand sewed a bean bag for themselves.

On Wednesday, Suhayla and Zayna came to prepare Salmon Burgers, bake a cake, and sewed a purse for themselves.

All praise be to Allah SWT, we had a lot of fun doing this activities together and the kids learned new skills.

Yummy Salmon Burgers

Yesterday the weather was unseasonally warm. While the rest of the United States were in the 10s , 20s and 30s degree F, the temperature here was 75 degree F. So I let daughter use a paintbrush and water to paint alphabet letters and shapes on the patio. When the water evaporated, she could 'paint' on the same spots again.
This is a really fun and costless activity for my daughter.

In secondary school we learned about this song 'Auld Lang Syne' during music lesson. I always remember the melody of this song and ponder about the meaning of the lyrics.

AULD LANG SYNE (Scottish Poem by Robert Burns, 1788)


Should old acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,and old times since ?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !And surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roaredsince auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend !And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,for auld lang syne.

(dine† - dinner time)

December 20, 2008

Calamondin Orange

This afternoon, after husband and daughter cycled at the River Legacy Park in Arlington, we drove to the Doan Nursery Inc. in Irving, Texas to look at some plants.

The Kaffir Lime trees that were on sale were about 4 meters tall, and each costs $50. Instead of getting one, we bought a calamondin orange plant which costs $35.

I remember seeing this type of plant, a miniature orange plant, at my grandmother's house in Kallang Airport in Singapore. So it brought back memories of my childhood days at my grandmother's house.

Daughter was pestering husband to feed her one of these small oranges when she saw the plant, but the fruit was kind of bitter and tardy. It was funny to see her sour-looking face when she tasted the fruit :)

Tonight's temperature is going to drop down to the 20s degree F, so I brought the plant inside the apartment. When Chinese New Year is around the corner, I plan to decorate this plant with Chinese paper cutting designs, Allah SWT willing.


December 18, 2008

Patio Garden Update

I've been thinking about having an environmentally sustainable hobby lately. I need a hobby to keep myself busy, not cause additional pollution and wastage to the environment but it also helps to feed us since we are now a one-income family. My common sense tells me that gardening is just the hobby that I need.

Anway, here's the update from our patio garden.

This pot of spearmint has been thriving in the hot summer and cold winter since husband planted it in 2007. Although we don't pay attention to it (i.e. irregular watering and no fertilization), all praise be to Allah SWT it just somehow survive very well on its own.

The bell pepper plants are protected from the cold temperature underneath this shower curtain.

We bought this Kaffir Lime Plant (which will eventually grow into a tree, Allah SWT willing) at a Vietnamese owned garden nursery in Irving in early 2006. People in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Burma and Cambodia use the leaves in their everyday cooking. The leaves grow in pairs and I think it is such a romantic plant! I love to shred the leaves thinly and add them to Chinese Fried Rice. Smells heavenly!

Husband planted spring onions in these pots in October 2008. These pots used to grow tomatoes but they have all gone to veggie heaven. Don't really know what will happen to these green onions since nowadays it can be freezing one day (30s degree F) and warm the next day (60s-70s degree F).


Four Things - Quotes from Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him)

Received via email from my friend Sr. Malika. Thanks a bunch!

The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him & his progeny) Said:

1) Four things that make your body sick:
a) Excessive talking
b) Excessive sleeping
c) Excessive eating and
d) Excessive meeting other people

2) Four things that destroys the body:
a) Worrying
b) Sorrow (Sadness/Grief)
c) Hunger
d) Sleeping late in the night

3) Four things that dry the face & take away its happiness:
a) Lying
b) Being disrespectful / impudent (insisting on something wrong knowingly)
c) Arguing without adequate knowledge & Information.
d) Excessive immorality (doing something wrong without fear).

4) Four things that increases the wetness of face & its happiness:
a) Piety
b) Loyalty
c) Generosity (being kind)
d) To be helpful to others without he/she asking for that.

5) Four things that stop the Rizq (sustenance) :
a) Sleeping in the morning (from Fajr to sunrise)
b) Not Performing Namaz (prayer) or Irregularity in Prayers
c) Laziness / Idleness
d) Treachery / Dishonesty

6) Four things that bring / increase the Rizq (sustenance):
a) Staying up in the night for prayers.
b) Excessive Repentance
c) Regular Charity
d) Zikr (Remembrance of Allah / God).

The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him & his progeny), also said: to communicate to others even if you listen One Verse (Ayah) & this one verse will stand on the Day of Judgment for intercession.

The Holy Prophet (SAW) said: Stop doing everything during the Azaan, even reading the Quran, the person who talks during the Azaan will not be able to say the Kalima Shahada on his/her death bed....

Allahumma- inni- ala- Zikr-ika -wa Shuk-rika wa husni-ib ad -atika

A very powerful Dua'a has been sent to you. What do you think you should do with it?

Imagine if 1000 people read it just because of you. Jazakallah. BECAUSE ONLY you will seek goodness but do not avoid this because that leads to bitter life.

Worship Allah SWT as if you see Him, and if you don't see Him, then indeed He sees you.

Indoor Herb Garden

When I got the flu two weeks ago, it was miserable for me to have to stay indoors all day and not able to see green plants. Somehow seeing green plants help to lift my spirits and cheer me up.

A few days ago I started to think about having an indoor herb garden. Husband is quite supportive of this idea since he loves to have fresh herbs in his salad. Yesterday I surfed the internet for ideas on planting herbs like rosemary, chives, lavender etc. Seems like a lot of people in North America just plant their herbs in small-medium size pots. Looking at pictures of fresh herbs and juicy tomatoes harvested from the garden really inspire me to give it a try .

This morning I brought daughter to Calloway's Nursery and Lowes to get some supplies.

At Calloway, I bought a small pot of Rosemary 'Arp' (center pot) and Lavender 'Goodwin Creek' (in green pot)for about $5.

At Lowes, I picked up a small pot of Ivy "Little Hermann" (the plant in the red pot) for less than $3. I also got a fluorescent lamp to help the plants grow better, Allah SWT willing.

The cactus plant on the most left was given by my mother and sister to my husband in October 2006. All praise be to Allah SWT it survived sweltering summers and harsh winters. I decided to move it indoor to see if it grows better.

Now I just have to remember to talk to the plants everyday to keep them happy :)

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Arp'
Description: a perennial that grows 3 to 5 feet tall and spreads 2 to 3 feet. It prefers full sun, and is the best rosemary for colder climates (survives to -10°F with protection of mulch and/or burlap wrap). It has an open, bushy habit, gray-green, lemony-scented leaves and blue flowers. Grow in ordinary, well-drained soil. Never let it dry out and never let it sit in water.

Lavender 'Goodwin Creek'
Description: an unusual hybrid that will thrive as a houseplant in a sunny window. It produces spikes of deep blue, pungently fragrant flowers above a lush mound of silver foliage. The plant is also hardy to Zone 7 (0 degrees F) and warmer, where it may be transplanted to the garden in spring, leaving this attractive 7-inch, blue-green ceramic pot with matching saucer for other jobs.

Ivy 'Little Hermann'
Botanic Name: Hedera helix
Plant Care: Water plant over the sink to let excess water leach out. Grows fairly well in bright indirect light. Temperature range 55-72 degree F. Keep the soil barely moist. Fertilize the plant every 3-4 months.


December 16, 2008

Freezing Temperature

Yesterday I went to see a doctor at 1:15pm. Brought daughter along since husband couldn't take time off to go to the doctor's office with us. Temperature was at 28 degree F (minus 2 degree C) and it was also quite windy.

While we waited for the doctor (took about 1 hour), daughter kept wanting to play with the medical instruments e.g. blood pressure, exam bed etc. Finally the doctor came to see me for about 5 minutes and gave me a prescription for antibiodies for sinus infection. Apparently the sinus infection was triggered by the flu. Since my body is still recovering from the flu, the sinus infection is having a good time making me miserable.

Went to Walgreens pharmacy and waited for 20 minutes to pick up my medicine. Thought of going to buy coffee beans at Super Target but decided that daughter needed a nap more than I need coffee beans. I'm so glad I made this decision because as soon as we reached home, I have never felt more relieved and warmer.

Today the temperature dropped to 26 degree F. Five people died in various car accidents in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area due to ice and sleet on roads and highways. News reporters were reporting car accidents all over North Texas and over four hundred car accidents happened in Dallas and Fort Worth area.

Yesterday I begged husband to drive the Suzuki because it has anti-lock braking system. All praise be to Allah SWT, husband is a pretty good driver but I still want him to take precaution on this type of dangerous road condition. Husband said that this morning it took him 15 minutes to scrap off ice, due to the light rain and freezing temperature, from the car's windshield and windows.

Quote from Wikipedia: "An anti-lock braking system, or ABS (from the German, Antiblockiersystem) is a safety system which prevents the wheels on a motor vehicle from locking while braking.

A rotating road wheel allows the driver to maintain steering control under heavy braking by preventing a skid and allowing the wheel to continue interacting tractively with the road surface as directed by driver steering inputs. While ABS offers improved vehicle control in some circumstances, it can also present disadvantages including increased braking distance on slippery surfaces such as ice, packed snow, gravel, steel plates and bridges, or anything other than dry pavement. ABS has also been demonstrated to create a false sense of security in drivers, who may drive more aggressively as a result."


Allah SWT willing tomorrow's weather will be dryer, although forecast says that the morning fog might cause ice to form on roads.

December 14, 2008

Agony... for my mother

Two weeks ago, my mother called me on the phone and said that she wants to see me and wants me to go back to Singapore to stay for at least 1 year. She said that if I were to decide to do so, she will provide free lodging and meal for me and daughter.

I truly miss her, and want to spend time with her. I wish I could be there to take her out sightseeing, tend to her garden, and clean her place for her. She is already 61 years old, and she misses hanging out with me.

Sigh... my heart aches at the thought that I will not be able to fulfill her wish at this time. Husband and I, although married for six years, we are still not at the stage where we want to get away from each other. In fact we could hardly stay away from each other. Also daughter is still young and I don't want her to miss her father for one whole year. Anyway husband said that if I were to go back to Singapore, daughter will stay in the US with him. (There is a limit for his undying love and attachment to me but not to daughter...)

Just checked the airline ticket price and it'll cost me US$3000 to fly back to Singapore, which is a sum of money that I rather put away for emergency use.

Agony... is such a bittersweet word....

December 11, 2008

Dango - Japanese Sweet Dumplings

Found this interesting cooking video on how to prepare a Japanese sweet dessert - dango.

Allah SWT I may try out this recipe once I recover from the flu :)

Cooking with Dog: How to Make Skewered Tofu Dango (Japanese Sweet Dumplings)

Also found this recipe from this blog

Mitarashi Dango
2 cups glutinous rice flour
3/4 to 1 cup boiling water
1 T fine sugar (optional)

1. Put flour and sugar into a bowl, pour the hot water in and stir with a pair of chopsticks till water is all absorbed. Knead with your iron hands. Add 1 0r 2 tablespoons of flour if the dough is too soft, or some water (doesn't have to be boiling) if too crumbly. It should be soft yet firm enough to hold its shape, like playdough.
2. Roll into 1 " balls and drop into a pot of boiling water.(Do not make balls too big or you'll gag because it is made of sticky rice after all.) After 2 to 3 minutes, scoop balls out when they float to the surface. Let them cool.
3. Skewer balls 3 to a stick (or leave unskewered and serve with toothpicks) and drizzle the sweet soy sauce over.

Sweet Soy Sauce (I skipped two ingredients as they may not be suitable for the Islamic diet)
2 T Kikkoman sauce
3 T fine sugar
1/2 cup water

Boil above ingredients (you can add more sugar or soy sauce, to your preference) over medium fire till almost thick (sauce will thicken further on cooling).

Happiness is the recipe for our family

Husband and I sometimes ask each other if we are happy with our marriage.

I think this is a very important question that we need to answer with total honesty.

What is happiness?

It is grinding coffee beans and brewing coffee in the morning for my husband.

It is having him taking care of daughter while I recover from the flu and needed to rest in bed for 3 days straight.

It is telling husband regularly that I love him and hearing him saying it to me.

It is eating ice cream with him when daughter is asleep (so she won't fight with us for a bite).

It is hearing him talking about politics and history of the world on road trips.

It is letting him be the Chef of the Day to prepare delicious Cambodian food for daughter and I.

It is to be thankful every day to Allah SWT that we are together as a family.

Be thankful in time of sickness

Since last Sunday I have been visited by the flu virus. The usual friends-fever, sore throat, stuffy nose, coughing. Since I am still having infection in my nasal area, I decided to stay home today and tomorrow even though school is on. Yesterday I called another substitute teacher, Sr. Rebeka, to work. All praise to Allah SWT she is available on both days.

For the last few days, while lying in bed to rest after I took Tylenol multi-symptom cold congestion, I listened to the news on National Public Radio (NPR). Although I was feeling miserable and sick, I still felt blessed with a husband to take care of me, a warm place to rest, and means to buy medicine while many people in the world are undergoing prosecution and suffering. For me it is important to remember that there are people who are less fortunate than me and that I should be thankful to Allah SWT for all the good things in my life.

Here are some updates from my work at the school and mosque library.

Last Saturday students brought models of the 3 pillars in the City of Mina, Saudi Arabia (Al-Jamarat). They were quite creative in making the paper pillars stand upright. I also gave out pencils with the customized inscription "Dar Al Huda Masjid Star Student" to those who have perfect attendance for 4 weeks. Students who got the pencils were thrilled and happy about this gift.
Two weeks ago, students made these models of the Zam Zam Well that is located in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. All praise be to Allah SWT almost everyone reused cups and tin cans to make the well. I'm really glad that my message of "Reuse, Reduce and Recycle" reached some of the students.
Students who submitted their projects received a certificate card, and got to pick either an eraser, a marble, a popping cap, or a balloon.

On Dec. 4th, the school held a Hajj simulation exercise for students from Pre-K to 11th grade. Parents were invited to witness this exercise and the whole school was filled with excitement about this event. The teacher-in-charge, Sr. Massouda, put in a lot of effort and worked very hard to make this event a success. Lots of volunteers and other teachers also pitched in. The Ka'bah model, made of wood and covered with fabric, was made by a 4th grade student's parents. It was really well made and resembles closely to the actual one in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
All praise be to Allah SWT this event was a success and well-organized.