So random

on Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Jambalaya for two.
Morning time

Another epic fruit bowl
I ended up with a massive amount of fresh herbs this week.  I froze them into ice cubes to easily throw them into dishes later.   Hooray for sage, rosemary and thyme!

My mother brought a massive amount of Peeps with her from several different holiday seasons.  I naturally started with what I thought to be the oldest ones, and that is why I had a snowman peep in my hot chocolate last night.  Oh, for comforts from home!


on Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Yes, I am officially obsessed with coconut.  Much to my delight last week, I found some popsicle molds at the morning market.  So much potential in those guys!  I was thinking the other day about how Dreyer's frozen coconut bars are, so I decided to try to recreate them.  It seems easy enough, just coconut milk, some shredded coconut flesh, and sugar.  I added some mango because we had some that needed to be used up.  Whip it in the blender, pour in molds, and freeze!  So delicious.  So refreshing.  There are many of these (and adaptations of them) in my future.

I'll take two, please

They taste a bit different than the original bars I buy in the store, but I can't complain when my coconut products come fresh from the coconut lady at the market rather than from a can.

This lady knows me well by now.  That machine is the coconut 'shredder'.
Oh yes, and I made these coconut lime bars last week.  "Brilliant!" as the British would say.

Sunday vegetarian

on Saturday, May 26, 2012
Our church recently moved to a new location, and along with the move we've adopted a new tradition.  There's a fantastic vegetarian restaurant just down the street that we've eaten lunch at every week.  I can't get enough of it!

"Deceptively low key"

The endless rows of food are serve-yourself, buffet style, so you can pile your plate with as much of whatever you want, and you pay for what you take. 

Decisions, decisions
Everything is, of course, vegetarian, but they're very sneaky.  They have dishes that look exactly like a fish fillet (how do they do that?), chicken, beef, bbq pork, and whatever I would most likely miss if I was indeed a true vegetarian.  I am not, and I daresay this is even better.   

If this isn't a chicken drumstick, I don't know what is!

Unlike other restaurants, they serve brown rice and (shockingly for Malaysia) their food isn't overly oily or salty.  I spend pretty much all week craving Sundays now!


I am completely fed up with my hair.  I've given up hope in the baking soda/ACV method because I am loosing too much hair.   Handfuls every day.  Pantene Pro V it is!   I feel like I'm a 5 year old again when I fight through the tangles after I wash it.  Maybe it's because I desperately need a hair cut.  Maybe it's because it's so long that my ponytail becomes a sweaty rats nest every time I go for a run (baking soda cuts through a lot of things, but not that!)  Maybe it's the chlorine from the pool.  Whatever it is, this has to stop immediately.  It's so long and spindly and gross that I have been wearing it up for the past few months by tying it into a bun, no hair-tie needed!  (Little did I know I was completely on trend with the "wet bun" look!)

I'm going to cut my hair.  I don't care about it being long anymore, because at the rate that my hair is falling out, I won't have any in a few months' time anyway.  I'm not going to go super short, because I still need to put it up when I run.  I think I'll go with shoulder-length, or something around there.

"Short" -  I envy Natalie Portman's hair.  But who am I kidding?  My hair will NEVER, ever look like this.  
"Medium" - What is it about Jennifer Aniston's hair, anyway?
"Long" - maybe too long?

I dream of having cute hair, but refuse to blow-dry, use product, or (heaven-forbid) a curling iron.  How lazy am I!

Now there's the issue of where I will cut my hair.  Is Asian hair that different that I need to go to someone who knows how to work with my hair?  If I am remembering correctly, I've only gotten my hair cut here once (I know, I know....I don't cut my hair often enough!  Perhaps that it the reason behind my present hair crisis!) and it turned out ok, nothing traumatically awful.  I don't remember, however, who I went to before.  Oops!

Hold on, I'm not done ranting yet

on Monday, May 21, 2012
If you think you're too good to watch American Idol, think again.
How could someone like Josh Ledet not win?  All those teen girls with those lightning-fast texting fingers are too hasty to make their 50 votes for Phillip that they don't stop and use their brains first.

This was one of 3 songs that Josh Ledet got eliminated for last week.  I'm still shaking my head thinking, Why, America, why?  Thus ends my rant, but do yourself a favor today and watch it!

Another list

on Sunday, May 20, 2012
I have a school break coming up.  While the American school year is winding down, Malaysian schools are at their half-way point (the school year starts in January - no "summer break" here).  I have two weeks off!  I've been making a mental check-list of what I want to do with that time, mostly for my own sanity so that I could get through these past few weeks.  I'm going to be making some major changes in LifeBridge's literacy program when I get back, so I have to do some planning but I also need to recharge myself.  Here's a few things I'm hoping to accomplish:

1)  Join a gym, or at least do a trial week.  I've been wanting to do this for a long time!  All I really want to do are the classes, but unfortunately here you cannot pay per class but have to do the monthly membership thing.  I want to see if it would be worth it.

2) Get a haircut.  I need one so bad.

3) Go to the dentist.  Just one of those things that I've been putting off.

4) Do an online course through Reading Rockets that covers strategies to teach reading.  I conveniently skipped over that part in my Master of Education.  I've also been thinking about doing a class through Coursera.  I'm also slowly making my way through the Revive our Hearts podcast series.  Cheers to life-long learning!

5) Get my Long Term Social Visit Pass, so that Malaysia won't kick me out of the country every three months!  My ability to stay in the country will allow us to spend the money that we normally use to go to Singapore, Thailand, etc. for my visa runs on more local travel, so that we can see more of Malaysia. There's so many places in this country we haven't been!

6) Maybe watch another season of 24.  Reuben and I are mid-way through our third season of the series.  Although I've seen some of them before, it's still as nail-biting as ever!  We borrowed 5 seasons of it from a friend.  And since we're really boring people, we normally watch one or two in every evening.

7) Mourn the finale of American Idol.  Once again, the show has disappointed me.  How could they let Josh Ledet leave?  Is America DEAF?  It shouldn't surprise me though, considering the fact that  Scotty McCreery won the show last year.  ::shudder::  As you can tell, I'm a fan of the show (but not of Scotty McCreery, obviously).  I force myself to stay up till midnight on Friday and Saturday nights (I told you, we're boring people) to watch it, since they show it so ridiculously late here.  Next week is the grand finale, but since Josh is gone I don't really care anymore.  

How exciting.  Not exactly "summer vacation," but I'll take what I can get!


on Saturday, May 19, 2012
When Reuben and I were in KL last weekend, Reuben participated in a Duathalon.  What is that, you might ask?  Triathalon = 3 events, duathalon = 2 events (in this case, run, bike, and another run).  Funny now that I think about it, because "dua" means "two" in Malay (see?  I am learning Malay!)

 The day before the race, I picked up some signboard and Sharpies and fashioned myself something to cheer him on: one side for Reuben and the other side for everyone else.  It's only reasonable to go to a RACE and expect to CHEER people on, right?

He was so glad to see me
Apparently not!  Not only was I the only one with a sign, but I was the only one doing any sort of cheering, and really the only one with any sort of positive "you-can-do-it" motivation.  Before the race, when I was standing by the start line with the "Reuben-side" of my sign, I saw people snickering (ok, I might have also been yelling out his name into the crowd to try to get his attention).  I'm pretty sure they were just jealous that the sign didn't have their name on it.

See all those people standing around doing nothing

Part-way through the race I went to the mid-way point of the bike ride and stationed myself at the bottom of a killer hill.  No one was snickering at me by then!  I started chatting with one of the race organizers while I was standing there and he mentioned casually, "I've never seen someone like you at a race before."  Really?  Malaysians have no spirit.  Except for badminton.  No wonder they suck at the Olympics.

Reuben did great in the race, considering it was wicked hot and the course was super hilly.  Nothing we're not used to here!  On the sidelines, I ended up making a pretty big fool of myself, but despite that I got a lot of positive feedback.  Some participants thanked me after the race for the motivation.  Maybe I'll start a trend and we'll see more signs at the next race.

Speaking of next races, Reuben and I are officially signed up for the Port Dickson Triathalon in July!  Now I have to find a bike.  And figure out how I am going to practice open-water swimming.

Playing favorites

on Thursday, May 17, 2012
I was thinking about a girl in my school today named Umar Hair (pronounced Hei-yer).  She's probably my favorite.  I was also thinking today about how I shouldn't have favorites, but they are the ones that make the more difficult ones....more tolerable for me.   I can go to school more eagerly knowing that Umar Hair's bright and happy face is waiting for me.

Umar Hair loves to read.   It's as if she's seeing the world for the first time on every page.  She reads out loud with a gigantic grin on her face, and after every line she looks up at you brimming with excitement.  It makes my heart melt.  Reading with children is probably one of my favorite things in life (up there with, say, eating strawberries <-- food craving alert!)

I've increased my time at the school and I've taken on additional responsibilities.  I'm now in charge of the entire literacy program.  Their future love of reading is in my hands!

But the school is hard, at least hard for me (who "suffered" in portables growing up).  It is HOT.  Or in Malaysian-speak, it is PANAS.  No air-con (or air-flow, for that matter).  I have three giant stand-fans that attempt to get some circulation going in my room, and I still sweat the entire day.  Not the glistening kind of sweat, but the drenched/embarrassing kind.  The poor girls have it even worse, they have to wear long skirts, long sleeves, and head scarves.  I can't imagine!

There's cockroaches.  I wonder every day if I'm coming home with lice.  I'm always starving.  I don't have a break.  Some kids are chronic liars.  They have also discovered how to play Pinball on the computers, much to my dismay.  The toilets don't work.  I obsessively sanitize my hands, and the kids obsessively love to give me high-fives.

But I love it.  It's one of those things that I could not do without the grace of God (which is always the best kind of thing).  Because without this school, these kids wouldn't have one.  Girls like Umar Hair would never get the chance to hold a book, wear a school uniform, or even use a computer.

Maybe, hopefully, they'll be resettled to somewhere in the U.S. or Canada.   Maybe, hopefully, they'll end up with a normal life.  Maybe they'll find me someday on Facebook.  I hope they do, because that will at least mean they learned how to read and type!

Key limes

on Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I've been trying to branch out at the market lately.  I've recently discovered collard greens (only good for frying, they recommend, but I have other plans for them), purple potatoes, and key limes.  Yes, key limes, like the Florida Keys key limes!  I was beside myself when I learned this.  I visited the Florida Keys when I was young and key lime pie is pretty much all I remember.

This is what I gleaned from some official google research:

"Key limes are also known as Mexican lime and West Indies lime. Cultivated for thousands of years in the Indo-Malayan region (that's here!!).  The Key lime made its way to North Africa and the Near East via Arabian traders, and then carried on to Palestine and Mediterranean Europe by the Crusaders (Riverside Crusaders?). Columbus is credited with bringing the Key lime to Hispaniola (now known as Haiti), where it was carried on by Spanish settlers to Florida."

Fascinating, no?

I made a-go at a key lime pie when my parents were here, but it was a total flop.  I had such high hopes for it, too.  When my parents were visiting we also had some friends from Bainbridge visiting as well.  She just graduated from culinary school.  Her visiting, plus having just watched a season of "Top Chefs - Just Desserts", made me feel ashamed of having hiding in my refrigerator. I only brought it out when said friends left.  I served it to my parents a day or two, and they praised it highly, but probably only because they're my parents and they have to do that sort of thing.  

I have another generous portion of lime juice waiting for me in the freezer.  After I get over my trust issues with so-called "tested recipes", I will make a second attempt.  Probably with an UN-tested recipe.  Key lime cheesecake, perhaps?

Higher Math

on Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I was in (re)decorating mode again last week and I had to bring back my brain power along with it.  It was exhausting, let me tell you.  
I'll start from the beginning.  I was inspired by the colors in  this board and decided that I needed some complementary colors to go along with our "cantaloupe" couches (according to the color chart below). 

I had been wanting to do something with chevron strips lately and I found a nice light blue color that would go great with "cantaloupe".  First, I had to lay out the strips with wide masking tape.  I knew this was going to be the most time-consuming part of the project, but I didn't figure I was also going to get a lesson in math by the end.   After staring at a strip of tape for a good hour or so and confused as to why my measurements and stripes I had laid out weren't looking right, I asked Reuben for help.   He rattled something off about the Pythagorean Theorem and finding the area of a triangle.  In the end, he may have solved the problem for me, but I ignored the (what us educators call) "teachable moment".  I'm old and wise enough now (I am in my LATE twenties, after all) I'd rather not strain my brain cells with algebra anymore.  
I intended to spraypaint the stripes, but that didn't work so I used acrylic paint.

THEN I saw a fantastic idea for making a pattern out of paint and potatoes.  I was going to the market that morning anyway, so that was just dandy.   But of course it wasn't quite that easy, because I first had to CUT the potato into a parallelogram.  That went alright, but after I had chopped up the potato and stamped the first row, I realized that I needed two different stamps to make the pattern.  That totally blew my mind, because isn't a parallelogram a parallelogram? 

Looking a little bit like a tire track?
In other news, I'm still scrounging around the recycling room/bins.  I picked this footstool up this weekend. I plan (eventually) to paint it and recover the cushion with fabric.  No math allowed.

So much potential.

Labor day

on Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Yesterday was International Labor Day.  While the rest of Asia seemed to holding protests for one cause or another, we celebrated the holiday American style: burgers.  
Diet Coke and burgers go so well together
I've never had to shop for hamburger buns here, so I thought I'd avoid looking to buy them by making my own buns.  Ditto for the dill pickles. 

These guys are going to be a regular in my refrigerator from now on.
I had forgotten how great a good burger can feel.