Don’s Way of Living Green

I’m pretty pleased with myself ever since we moved to this new place.

The first thing that struck me was that I could have my own organic composting area. In my previous apartment, we didn’t have space at all so putting 10 pots on the balcony was simply out of the question.

Now that I have a bit of garden space, we’ve reduced the amount of rubbish we throw away each day.

We do this because we compost our organic materials.

I first learnt this technique from Don who teaches people how to recycle easily and successfully without much hassle.

When I think of traditional composting, I think of smell! It would stink to high heaven, right? And attract flies and ants. And maybe even birds!

Don rubbished my fears. He showed me his 10-pot system, a system that’s so simple yet works so beautifully it’s hard to believe! (See below for the link to the method).

So I am trying it out.

First you need a container to store your food scraps of the day. You only compost it at the end of the day so you ‘collect’ them first. I bought my clay container from a crockery shop in Carnavon Street for RM13. It is usually used to store salt (or in some hawker stalls, to store sauces for cooking) but I use mine to store food scraps (veggie peel, fruit peel, fish bones, chicken bones, anything you’ve eaten etc). Here’s how mine looks like:

A traditional Chinese salt container made of clay is used as a food scrap container

A traditional Chinese salt container made of clay is used as a food scrap container

As it has a heavy clay lid, I don’t have to worry about Margaret getting her fat paws into it or the scraps stinking all day.

This clay pot is also glazed on the inside so you can easily wash off oil and grease with soap and water. This pot is about 9 inches tall and sits next to my sink.

I toss all sorts of stuff into this – garlic skin, vegetable peel, fruit peel, stale bread, cooked leftovers, fish bones, chicken bones, lala shells, leftover rice.

Basically anything that you can eat, you can compost.

Next you need 10 pots of about 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Any cheap clay pots would do. We bought these for RM5 apiece in the local nursery as they were a bit chipped and cracked.

10 pots for composting

My 10 blue pots for composting...sue me, I

And then go here for the full instructions on how to compost. We usually compost the scraps at night, once dinner is done. So 1 pot should last you 3 days before you move on to pot #2.

In case you have a large family, go get bigger pots. (It’s only Nic and me but then again sometimes we eat a lot so we have a mountain of food scraps!)

I’m now filling up the 5th pot already. By the time I’ve filled the 10th pot, I should be able to go and dig the 1st pot and find all the food scraps disintegrated into fresh, rich soil.

Which I can use to grow the plethora of herbs I’ve been meaning to.

Which also means, my regular rubbish bin isn’t overflowing with stinky rubbish. It’s just mostly plastic wrappers which cannot be recycled.

Underneath my sink, I’ve put a collection container for recyclables such as glass bottles, plastic bottles, newspaper, cardboard and tins. These go to the nearest recycling centre every once a month. The nearest centre I go to is the SIMA Handicapped Centre just off the Jalan Tengku Kudin roundabout. Our ‘junk’ actually helps the disabled earn their living.

I always like dropping off my recyclables (they also take in usable household items like clothes and furniture) because the disabled are always so appreciative of the things you give. They light up with their innocent and generous smiles and never fail to thank you with a friendly wave.

If you have a small plot of garden, do try this system of composting. I assure you, if you follow Don’s method to the book, you won’t be smelling your food scraps.

Imagine if all of us who can do this are doing this – how much we can save in terms of landfill space and how much less leachate will seep into our rivers and seas. That’s why I say I am proud to be creating so little rubbish for the rubbish truck!

My Quiet Christmas

My external hard disk has not been repaired yet. Hence, do bear with me. The photos aren’t quite ready yet.

But, a merry Christmas to you!

I don’t celebrate Christmas the way Christians do but I’ve grown up with a Catholic best pal so we used to hang out in her house on Christmas Eve, downing glasses of Blue Nun and feeling utterly sophisticated and out-of-this-world. We’d chat and think of the future and wonder what we’ll be doing. Would we all end up doing what we want? She wanted to study Eng Lit, in the end she ended up doing Law and refusing to practise law. Lecturing is a lot more calming for her.

Christmas Day was strictly for her and her family as they’d go to church, invite a bunch of church friends over and have open house the whole day.

I’ve never much liked boisterous parties anyway (as you can see from my growing up years) so Christmas, like New Year, is often spent at home. I’m rather boring that way but I’d rather be honest and boring than get my eardrums split with loud music or liver agitated with hard liquor at the hot spots in town. Anyway, I prefer not having a splitting headache the day after.

I don’t like doing things for the sake of doing them. I like doing them because I want to. Petulant as it sounds, it’s true.

So having said that, I enjoyed a quiet Christmas Eve at home, going through some old recipe books, watching a slew of Xmassy cooking shows on AFC. When Vern came by with some tiramisu, we gobbled that down with Chinese tea and then carted our chairs into the garden for a bit of star-spotting. I thought we were looking at The Big Dipper, Vern thought it was more of The Orion.

Christmas Day was a totally relaxing day too. Not much happening as I refused to go near the laptop. I know the moment I switch it on, I get immersed. So I did my leisurely stuff while prepping my fruit salad for a family potluck dinner. (Totally simple salad you can make with success: open up a tin of lychee, a tin of peaches, a tin of nata de coco. Drain completely their sweet juices. Mix with a handful of raisins. Stir in half a cup of mayo and half a cup of evaporated milk. Chill for an hour before serving. Delightful!)

The thing about the year end is always very quiet and introspective, at least for me. I tend to journal more, recording my experiences and feelings. I often get pensive and look back at the year with wonder and amazement as again, it has flown by.

And yes, I will be studiously doing my yearly wishes or resolutions next week despite most skeptics saying it never lasts anyway. Last or not, for me it’s a new beginning and always, always a fresh hope that I can be better!

Thanks to Vern, we watched The Bucket List this afternoon while munching on her mom’s freshly baked chewy, addictive cookies.

It was a hilarious yet touching movie. A bucket list is a list of things you wish to do or achieve before you kick the bucket. It’s supposed to make you reflect and appreciate your life, and stop putting things on hold because of the kids, the dog, the circumstances, the job etc.

So yeah, now my bucket list includes “To finish watching all the movies that Vern recommends or has passed the DVD to me”.

Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it, if you care to share?

I didn’t know it was called a bucket list but I’ve been making up this kind of list for a while now. My list changes ever so often because when one is immature, lots of weird stuff ends up on the list. Now I know better!

The Big Move…Done

I kind of missed my blog when I was away, moving house.

But I am back now and though I wouldn’t say I’m totally settled in (after all, I scare myself when I look at my 3rd room and see boxes and more boxes of unpacked stuff!), I’m lots better now. Less frazzled. Less stressed.

While we loved the old apartment (we stayed there for 9 years), the new place is HOME. Yes, cornily it is. We’ve been hunting for this type of apartment for the longest time ever and we found it.

Law of Attraction? Highly likely.

Serendipity? Most probably.

What I love best about our new home is that it’s a total change from our old place. Gone are the tangerine walls. When I told Jo I had bright tangerine walls in my old place, she went “Cool!” I had a sky blue wall in my bedroom. Nic’s home office was orange and dark green! (We once lived in a room which Nic painted black and with a red door. This was in our student days. Yup, we were radical people!)

Gone are most of the knick-knacks and stuff we accumulated over the years. We sold off a lorry-load of stuff!

It’s unbelievable how much junk two people and a cat can amass.

But a move also portends lots of de-cluttering – not just physically but also mentally.

When we moved into our previous place, we were in our 20s. So the decor reflected us in our mid-20s. A bit mad, a bit adventurous, a bit brazen. I still remember the cow’s skull hanging in my living room wall. It scared off a lot of folks. Even the 8 fake plastic geckos stuck to the tangerine wall using blu-tack also freaked out most friends. Plus we had Iban war shields and a fiery parang too hanging on the wall. No wonder everyone thought Nic was not Chinese!

It was shocking all right. It also attracted attention. Even the postman wanted to step in and have a look around!

We did the paint job ourselves so it was messy and unkempt, and the colours were raw.

But that’s youth you see. And when you get a whole apartment to play with, you go crazy!

Over the years, we’ve realized that our style has changed a little. Gone are the raw colours. But yellow (Dulux Popcorn Yellow) still features in my all-white kitchen. Everyone who knows me know I adore yellow.

And Nic likes his red, well, red. Powerful and energetic.

And Dulux Ruby Red is on our feature wall. Red is a colour that attracts and repels. You either love it or hate it. You can either turn a house into a temple or you can turn it into a home. After all, we are Redbox Studio right? Red features in our lives a lot. So red made a splashing entrance.

In a way, we toned things down a little. But heightened it a lot with lighting. It’s amazing what lighting can do for a home. People think we splurged on major renovation but a lot of it went into de-gunking the place. Tearing down the built-in display units, old kitchen and toilets.

Starting anew with contemporary colours, a fresh new foundation. Re-wiring the place up. Replacing all the old pipes and plumbing. Putting in extra power points – this sounds mad but I go all tingly inside when I know I have 8 places I can plug in my electrical appliances in the kitchen!

Expensive? Yes.

Was it worth it? Definitely!

I’ll post up photos of our new home soon – I have to get things sorted out by unpacking first.

On our first official day here, Margaret got lost after we let her out of her pet carrier. We spent a good half hour walking about this area with a torchlight and shaking her plastic container of kibble like maniacs at 10pm. We’d read stories of cats finding their way back to their old homes thousands of miles away. Margaret could possibly find her way back to Taman Jadeview!

Fortunately for us, Nic is a cat whisperer. He finally found her crouched in a shallow drain. Margaret was a bit wet, all together frightened but no limbs missing. Once she got her bearings and sniffed enough, she was happily munching kibble and rolling over on the marble floor.

I’m still getting used to the new home. I actually have a garden right now (hurray for being on the ground floor) and I can do my 10-pot composting which Don taught.

I can hang my laundry at the back of the house now. We can (finally) park our car right in front of the house! No more going up the multi-storey car park and no more car tyres getting ruined! I can have a fun barbie at the back. Nic can do all the painting and carpentry he wants. I actually have real grass under my feet! I have my own floor to ceiling bookshelf. Oh and a kickass shower.

For some people, it’s the big things.

For us, it’s the little things which matter!

Am I Still In The Youth Category?

I wonder what is considered youth in this country. Is it a person aged 35 and below? Or 40 and below?

I stumbled on this via Twitter and thought, hey, sounds like a super cool event. Unfortunately, the contest didn’t state what youth was.

The exciting thing was – all these lovely, famous folks were coming to Putrajaya this 16 November. There’s Sir Bob Geldof, Lorraine Hahn, Biz Stone (smack yourself if you don’t know who this is), Garry Kasparov and many more top personalities of the world.

I guess we all need to act like groupies once in a while.

It’s exciting to bask in the same venue and be so close as to be able to touch these people.

They’re alive and here and in the flesh.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 17 or 70, if you come face-to-face with your idol, you go all queasy and weak and feel like a stupid, gawking teen all over again.

Anyway, if you’re living in KL, this is the best contest for you. After all, if you win, you get to rub shoulders and elbows and do the camwhoring with these people.

Deadline’s tomorrow.

All you need to do is to tell THEM (the AirAsia people), if you could change one thing in your lifetime, what would it be, and who will it be for? Yourself, your community, or your country? And how will you contribute to it?

I know. Sounds like some cheesy topic you get in your sekolah menengah essay-writing classes.

But, cheesiness aside, you might come away with some magic dust that inspires you to greater dreams in life.

I know for a fact that people need inspiration and inspiration in the form of your fave idol/popstar/Nobel laureate winner/web2.0 guru/media star can kick you out of your humdrum life.

Go impress them!

Bold, Big-Hearted and Bald

Update 11 Nov ’09: Nancy updated us that Penang Adventist Hospital has reached RM100k for Go Bald For Charity event.

I’m so long lost from my blog it’s ridiculous, even by my standards.

Add to that, I’ve gotten the sniffles! The weather in Penang has been rather erratic – warm like a bad oven with heat that reflects and scorches the skin in the day and then rain like pelting rocks at night. Which brings out the bad mozzies and of course, a bad case of the flu when I least need it!

Well, business has taken me away from my blogging. I suppose there’s nothing like the last 2 months of the year to get people into the mode for getting their websites done or we’ve been extremely lucky in the past year. We’ve been inundated with orders, partnership opps and then some. Wow. (Actually we’ve been very fortunate over our abundance. That is something so gratifying. Gratifying that so many fans and friends and clients have been helping us to promote us!)

Can I get some peace and quiet now to plan out next year?

I suppose not.

Well, anyway… I need to announce this before it gets to be old news.

Remember I blogged about my brave friend, Nancy, who was shaving off her hair for the Dr Earl J. Gardner Fund (Penang Adventist Hospital)?

The 1 November Adventist Makan Shiok Shiok Carnival is well and truly over. In between my packing and stuff, I had to go cheer Nancy on.

But I got another huge SURPRISE!

I knew Josephine’s husband, Andy, was working at Adventist and she did ask if I were going to be there. Josephine is one of those gal pals who makes me smile. She’s one outrageously funny hot mama. And her five year old son, Chris, is one pinchable cutie pie.

When I ended up at the Jalan DS Ramanathan field (behind Adventist Hospital) two Sundays ago, Josephine told me SHE was going bald for charity too! And not only her but her cutie pie son and her husband too (he had hardly any hair to begin with).

And that, said Josephine, was HER surprise for me!

So there you go, a family who bravely went under the electric shavers for charity.

See their cute photos in this Sun article (yes, they were swarmed by reporters! This was such a good story that they’d be blind not to write about it!).

The short ‘interview’ on stage between Chris and his dad, Andy, was a wonderfully engaging touch! In fact, Chris inspired 2 other children to go bald too.

But Josephine is going one step further with her mission.

While this story is still “hot” like pisang goreng (to borrow a phrase from good friend Tze), Josephine offers her family’s services to help promote/endorse/advertise ANY product for free, in exchange for a Tax-Exempted donation for this “Go bald for Charity 2009″.

If you are interested, all you need to do is email Nancy Ong {nancyong@pah.com.my} and she will put you in touch with Josephine and her family.

Also I’d like to take my hat off to Nancy who checked herself out of the hospital to get her head shaved. She was admitted to the ICU the night before due to some serious rashes. As she told me herself, her doctor wasn’t too happy that she went ahead with her head-shaving on 1 November.

But I understand Nancy. How could she NOT do this when she got so much support from everyone else, especially from the top management of the Adventist Hospital who also got their heads shaved? It’s about talking the talk and walking the talk.

Anyway, below is Josephine’s message to everyone who wants to help out.

=======================================
Dear Friends,

Our family shaved our heads today at Penang Adventist Hospital’s Charity Event – “Go Bald for Charity 2009″.

We hope to raise as much funds as possible for needy patients in aid of Dr. J. Earl Gardner’s Fund.

We were heartened to see two other young children shaving their heads to support this cause. They requested a on-the-spot shave after witnessing Christopher’s “demo” on the stage.

The largest amount raised by a single person in the shaving team was Mr. KC Low from Dell at a cool RM22,000. Kudos to him!!!

Thank you for your support.

Kind regards,
Jo Teh

=======================================

Yes, the event may be over but you can still donate to the hospital. Please make cheques payable to:
Adventist Hospital & Clinic Services (M)

and send them to:
Nancy Ong Ai Hua
Development Manager
Penang Adventist Hospital
465 Jalan Burma
10350 Penang, Malaysia

To donate by other means, please contact Nancy at Tel: (+60 4) 222 7603 or E-mail: nancyong@pah.com.my

Maya’s note: My personal thanks to fellow blogger friends who helped promote this event, especially Chen Chow!

If I Had A Magic Wand…

I started off wanting to fill my Saturday with a hatful of projects – some undone, some halfway through, some just biting at my ankles for want of getting started.

Then I decided, to heck with it. I will reclaim my Saturday.

I will give myself a break today. I’ve been working really hard. I’ve had my fingers in too many pots I believe. So much so I am promising myself to take it easy for 2010.

I’m not grumbling.

This year has been exceptional for me. I’ve done many things, accomplished much and put my whole heart and soul out there.

But sometimes, people take advantage of the kind and nurturing Piscean that I am. And then, this amiable woman gets really mad. When I am cross, I am not a Piscean. I turn into my Chinese zodiac, a Tiger. I can growl, I can hiss and I can definitely play hardball if I need to. Just don’t let the Tiger flash her stripes. It’s not a beautiful thing.

I’ve also become a lot more attuned to what I truly want. I suppose that comes with growing older. One starts to reflect on oneself a lot more. Next year, I will be 36. It’s not even frightening anymore. I thought I would rebel at Age, spit at it even with each impending birthday. But I don’t.

Oh sure, I get my share of white hair (whoever gets grey hair???), I think I see some wrinkles here and there on my face (horrors) and I keep slathering body lotion all over just to keep my skin smooth like taufufah.

BUT.

But I would never turn back the clock. Knowing what I know now, I know that the process or the journey is just as crucial as the destination. Sure, I’ve had strange battles with my family at some point in my life. Sure, I’ve done madly. I’ve had to go through some odd phases in my life.

But would I have done it any differently if I had a magic wand and could go back and change my history?

No.

Not one bit.

Not ever.

Because all those experiences, bitter, happy, joyful, exhilarating, traumatic, made me. It made me into who I am today. Someone who is deeply contented and often grateful for the beauty that Life serves her.

Someone who is able to look at life a lot more squarely in the eye now.

Someone who is able to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Someone who is able to appreciate that her own unique journey is hers and hers to hold close to her heart.

Someone who can watch and learn at any point in time and put away the stubborn ego (yes, I can be quite stubborn if I chose to be).

I believe I write best when I am most relaxed, most at peace. When I struggle to write, it means I have conflicts unresolved.

In many ways, I started this blog to chronicle my personal journeys. I started this to remind myself to write. I didn’t start this to blog for money. None of that rubbish. It’s a sacred space for me to pour my thoughts into, allow them to crystallize and allow me to smile at them with genuine love once in a while as I re-read them.

If you’ve come by and read what I wrote and it made you THINK, then that would have been the accolade I’ve deserved. We all try to change the world in our own ways and my way is through the pen and now through the keyboard – to a blog.

If you could help change someone’s life for the better, do it. Do it in a way that makes you happy too. I know I am happiest when I am writing and my writing has lifted, helped, assuaged or even provoked someone to change for the better.

That is why for 2010 I am focusing on using my writing for better ends. What about you? What are you planning for 2010? Incidentally it is the Year of the Tiger.

My year.

Remembering To Seize The Day

I’m supposed to be working but I’m feeling a bit too happy to do that right now. I had to blog about this. So yes, I’m stealing some time out to record this before I totally forget. (And yes, Izad, I recorded it in my abundance notebook too!)

I’m as pleased as a cat with her paw in a bowl of kibble.

Li Jin and I go way back.

We met in 2000 when I was a women’s portal content editor, a job I landed when I decided to veer from my copywriter position in an ad firm. She was trying her hand at writing for our women’s portal. The payment was measly but still she contributed.

She’s one of those women I have come to admire because this woman has the courage to live a large life. I call her my soul sister as we both share the same passion for writing and travel. She loves trying new things, never lets life take her down and never ever says no can do.

Is it any wonder that I’ve been enriched by our friendship?

From contributing to our women’s portal, she has gone on to much bigger things in life. She’s done very well for herself and I watch her every step, feeling so utterly proud of her achievements. Mind you, she’s a mother to 4 growing children with a husband to boot.

Yet she has done fabulously – she now writes for so many famous publications I’ve lost count. She’s a prolific writer. She’s warm, friendly, funny and honest. You don’t get many writers like that anymore. She’s also indifferent to society norms – she does what she wants to, when she wants to.

Plus she’s taken my advice seriously too – she’s been travelling with girl pals, travelling with freedom and gusto across Asia over the past few years. Sans family and kids. She’s been good to herself to which I toast completely. No woman should ever blame others for not being able to accomplish her own dreams, married or not.

She has, in her own words, been “travelling more than I probably should and poking my nose in the unlikeliest of places. But then again, why not and why not now, ya?”

Yes, Jin. Why not? Why not live life as fully as possible when you can?

Our friendship has had its own hurricanes and floods. There was a time when we both got mad at each other. When we were both fuming, it was hard as we knew inside it wasn’t anyone’s fault but our pride kept us from apologizing and making the first move. It was such a relief when we started talking again. It’s tough to be mad at one’s soul sister. It’s like you’re mad at yourself.

The pleasure of a splendid friendship means we watch out for each other, encouraging each other to dream big and dream onwards. In a world when so many people are bitchy or plain nasty, it’s heart-chokingly beautiful when we have this understanding that no matter what happens, we can pick up the phone and pour our hearts out to each other.

Yeah, a husband is a husband and he’s probably your bestest friend for all I care but nothing beats having a girlfriend you can sob/cry/high-five every once in a while. I believe that is why women live longer – we have a much better support system!

And both of us have never stopped dreaming. And with each milestone in our lives, we keep each other updated.

We’ve never forgotten to seize the day.

And so when she emailed to tell me that she’s getting her dream home, I was so pleased for her. Some 5 years ago, we stood at the balcony of a semi-detached show unit and like all people, we were ogling at the house.

Yes, Jin, I remember that day clearly.

But I cannot remember if I said this to her but she says I did. Apparently I told her that if she wanted a house just like that, if she dreamt of owning one like it, why not? Dreams do come true.

And finally it has. I could see every diamond of happiness in her email.

And how strange is it that we both found our dream homes?

Whatever your big audacious goal is, if you dream big enough, if you want it bad enough, it can happen. Jin is one successful example of ‘carpe diem’ -ing her way to more delicious moments in life.

Girl, I am so proud of you! I’m so darn proud I’m your friend!

Pine Nut Fetish

I don’t watch Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef cooking series for a few reasons.

One, I cringe at his lisping. Or else, he’s got a damn huge tongue that won’t fit his mouth.

Two, Nic hates his guts – says Jamie disrespects food. More specifically, Jamie disrespects his ingredients by simply whacking them to tatters. Which is abominably true when you look at how Jamie throws, yes, literally throws ingredients into a pot or a pan.

Third, the cameraman makes me dizzy with the quick shots – from food, to Jamie, from Jamie to food again. So pening!

But one night while channelsurfing Astro, I chanced upon Jamie Oliver.

Oh, we all do that, don’t we (the channel-surfing)? Admit it that there’s really nothing new on Astro anymore. I’ve watched the same Oprah reruns so frequently that it’s getting downright ridiculous.

Which is also why I’m terribly tempted to disconnect our Astro subscription when we move to our new apartment. Why spend good money on reruns when I can turn off the idiot box and spend time reading? Hear that, Astro?

OK, back to Jamie. He taught a recipe called Pine Nut and Honey Tart. It caught my interest because I’m a big pine nut fan. Oh heck, I’m mad about nuts and you’ll always find a variety of nuts if you raid my fridge (walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, almonds etc). They’re for cooking and snacking.

His recipe was really fast and simple. And if you look at this recipe and this other recipe, you know I am all for simplicity! The simpler the better!

The beauty of the online world is that you can find anything you want. And I’m really good at searching/sniffing out stuff online ever since I used it extensively when I was conducting my Masters’ research back in 2004.

The big disclaimer is this: I have not tried out this tart recipe yet. I’m going to pack stuff for the Big Move these 2 weeks so I don’t have much time for cooking but I will try it once I’m cosily settled in at the new place.

You try it and let me know the results? As with all tarts, it has 2 sections. The pastry section and the filling section. It looked luscious on TV. I might even start liking Jamie a bit, if this tart turns out incredible.

Pine nut and Honey Tart
By: Jamie Oliver

Ingredients:

Pastry

4 oz butter
3 1/2 oz icing sugar
1 pinch salt
8 oz plain flour
2 egg, yolks
2 tbsp cold milk or 2 tbsp cold water

Pine nut and Honey Filling

9 oz pine nuts
9 oz butter
9 oz caster sugar
3 large eggs, preferably, organic
4 tbsp Greek fig tree honey
4 oz plain flour
1 orange, zested
lemon thyme, picked
1 pinch salt

Method:

Pastry
1. You can make the pastry by hand or in the food processor – cream together the butter, sugar and salt and then rub or pulse in the flour and egg yolks. When the mixture has come together, looking like coarse breadcrumbs, add the milk or water. Gently pat together to form a small ball of dough. Wrap and leave to rest for an hour.
2. Carefully cut thin slices of your pastry (or you can roll out if you prefer) and place in and around the bottom and sides of your 12 inch (30 centimeter) tin. Push the pastry together and level out and tidy up the sides. Cover and leave to rest in the freezer for about 1 hour.
3. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C), and bake the pastry for around 15minutes until lightly golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C).

Pine nut and Honey Filling
1. While the pastry is in the oven, toast the pinenuts under the grill.
2. Using a spatula, or a food processor, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in your pinenuts, add the eggs one at a time, then fold in the honey, flour, thyme, orange zest and salt. Spoon in to the tart shell and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
4. Add a few uncooked pinenuts to the top of the mixture for decoration.
5. Serve with caramelised figs (grilled with a little sugar), crème fraiche and a little lemon thyme.

Going Bald For Charity

Not me lah.

While I would love to say I’m THAT gutsy, I am not. I am a vainpot and love my hair a bit too much to go bald BUT hear me out.

I’ve got a gutsy friend who will be shaving off all her hair for charity come this November. I spoke to her two weeks ago and she wanted me to help her.

penang-adventist-charity-fair

So this is the email I sent out to my friends:

Dear friends

My friend, Nancy will be going bald for charity come 1 November. I know her personally and she’s one big-hearted woman, putting in lots of hours in raising funds for the sick and needy.

Nancy is the Development Manager of Penang Adventist Hospital (PAH). She will be raising funds for PAH because as you know, PAH sponsors heart patients, and those who are suffering from serious illness (cancer, chronic kidney disease, accidental head injury, tumour, major burns, major organ transplant, Parkinson’s disease, HIV, cleft palate repair and major amputation of limbs).

In a nutshell, Nancy will be going bald for charity on 1 November to collect funds for PAH.

Yes, bald.

She is shaving off all her hair in aid of charity come this 1 Nov. during the PAH organised charity food fair. This is one courageous woman!

The charity fair will feature about 85 food stalls offering vegetarian, non-vegetarian and even halal food inclusive of games store. There will also be entertainment, games, lucky draws and “Penang Greatest Shave” and many other interesting activities.

Of course you don’t have to shave off your hair to help – but you can contribute in your own way.

You can support PAH by:

1. Setting up food stalls
2. Sponsoring a food stall (RM500 and above)
3. Major supporters with a minimum contribution of RM5,000 will be acknowledged during the event and on the backdrop of the stage
4. Donations in form of food, lucky draw or game prizes
5. Cash or cheque donations. All cheques should be made payable towards “Adventist Hospital & Clinic Services’ for Dr J Earl Gardner Fund. Tax-exemption receipts will be issued.
6. Helping sell or buy the charity fair tickets at RM20 per booklet.

If you and your business can help, please email Nancy [ nancyong @ pah.com.my ] directly.

What’s more, help tell as many friends as you can. PAH needs all the support it can get. ;-)

In case you wanna know how Nancy looks like now, here’s the bubbly lady with her hair intact.

nancy-ong

This photo was taken the night we sat talking at her office – she is one hard worker who works late into the night, emailing people who can help her when it comes to raising funds for Penang Adventist Hospital’s much needed coffers.

adventist-charity-for-heart-patients

So please help if you can.

Most of us cannot imagine where our money goes sometimes when we give a donation. With this, you will know.

It goes towards giving another human being a chance at life.

adventist-hospital-charity

Want To Be Another Kind of Apprentice?

I found out about this programme from Fidel, a friend who is the PAPA Programme Coordinator. I’ve known her for a while now and she and her husband are very supportive of heritage arts and events of Penang. Her two children are active in Anak-anak Kota, a brilliant programme for Penang school children. In fact I know quite a few outgoing youth who used to work with Janet Pillai on her highly commendable Anak-anak Kota Programme (which also netted Janet the DIGI Award).

This is Fidel, the programme coordinator

Anyway, I had been meaning to write about this PAPA or Penang Apprenticeship Programme for Artisans for some time now. It’s a great initiative under Penang Heritage Trust to ensure that dying trades have some form on continuity. History and culture are after all intertwined. Especially in Penang.

penang apprenticeship program for artisans

To take part in this PAPA Programme, you have to dedicate a good deal of time (4 hours a day I believe) as you will be taught by the the masters themselves. Their target group is essentially people who will learn the crafts and use these newfound skills to help themselves earn a good living. It is certainly not for people like me who want to learn it as a hobby! That’s a no-no because it defeats the original purpose of the apprenticeship.

rattan baskets made by the apprentices

As some of these teachers are aging, it is a sad fact that when they pass on, their skills pass on with them too. Their skills are another kind of assets which matter a lot to our history and heritage. While I am wistful about this fact, it is heartening that PHT is taking the first step to ensure these amazing arts are not lost.

know your rattan 101 - different rattan for weaving baskets

For instance, Fidel tells me that a professional took a sabbatical from her stressful career to focus on learning how to weave baskets from rattan.

chinese carving programme is also available

You can also be an apprentice to a master carver for Chinese signboards. I am interested but I am not eligible for this programme for various reasons. As it is, I don’t read Chinese. It will be hard on me even if I am qualified to take this programme.

interested in making manik or nyonya beaded slippers?

Nyonya beading, a patient and intricate art, is also available. I’m hopeless at such delicate art and craft so this is definitely not my kind of apprenticeship.

If you are interested or know of friend who would be keen on this PAPA PHT Programme, get details, get the form and get cracking. ;-)

Or call Fidel at 012 456 5867 for details.

UPDATE (15 Oct 2009): PAPA is now housed in the quaint row of pre-war shophouses along Lebuh Acheh (look for No. 66) where the mosque is. It’s open on week days so you can pop in to buy their products or learn more about the dying arts and crafts of Penang. We bought a rattan lamp for RM40 recently as decor for our new apartment. They can also make bespoke rattan items if you wish. I’m ordering a cat basket for Margaret soon and a laundry basket for myself.