Chinese Dumpling Festival

I love being Chinese because we’ve got a tonne of festivals where we get to celebrate with food and snacks and other yummy delicacies. Any way, the zhang or chinese dumpling festival is back again.
Chinese bak zhang for Duan Wu Festival
I love zhang! I love it in all its incarnations. From kee zhang (lye water dumpling) to bak zhang (meat dumpling), I’m mad over these glutinuous rice dumplings.
And to think it was inspired to save a Chinese poet from being eaten by fish in the river! The zhang or Duan Wu festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This year it falls on 28 May, Thursday.
I’m no bak zhang expert maker so I leave this to my aunt who makes the most scrumptious zhang ever. Of course as age catches up with her, she makes fewer and fewer. A short supply always makes this festival much anticipated – I look forward to this festival with relish and a growling tummy.
Not all zhang is full of glutinuous rice containing fatty pork meat, chinese mushrooms, salted duck yolk, chestnut, dried oyster and dried prawn (hae bee).
There are those with very little ingredients (some just filled with beans) but they taste just as good. Then there are the zhang made with lye water which has nothing at all. But eaten with rich, eggy kaya or melted gula melaka, hmmm…..heaven!
While most zhang are triangular in shape, my Grandma used to make pillow shaped zhang, a larger zhang which could feed more than 2 persons happily. Sadly she does not make them anymore!
But if you are like me and can’t wrap a zhang properly, you can buy them. Every street corner in Penang seems to sell the zhang during this time.
And if you’re feeling particularly healthy, how about vegetarian zhang? Not made by me. Made by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Society.
A friend who volunteers at the society writes:
“Yes, it’s that time of the year again and we are now starting to take orders for the famous Tzu Chi vegetarian dumplings for this year. If you have any friends or colleagues who would like to buy from us, it would be great if you can help to consolidate the order and send to me. The sales of dumplings will start from 22 May 2009 onwards at RM5 each. Please let me know the date you need to have the dumplings delivered and where so that I can make the necessary arrangement. If you are not into eating dumplings, you may want to consider donating to the ingredients for the making of these dumplings.”
If you want to order, you can email Swee Yong at sycheok at gmail dot com or call 012-423 8700.
So you see, there ARE more ways than one to get your zhang if you’re not adept at wrapping them yourself!
More zhang links to feast on:
Making your own zhang – nah, too tedious for me but you may try it if you’re adventurous.
Another one but with video of step-by-step process of wrapping the zhang.
Or take a look at the recipe for peasant zhang.

Face to Face With A Storyteller

I just got back yesterday from my KL trip – it was short and sweet and inspiring. In fact, it happened so fast that I needed to catch my breath a bit.
Robin Sharma in action
Meeting personal development coach/trainer/speaker/author Robin Sharma was a dream. I’m usually quite all right and calm but I was nervous before going up to the man and asking him to sign his book “The Greatness Guide” which I had bought earlier. There I was in a line of people at the end of the full day “Lead Without Title” seminar cum workshop and thinking, wow, I’m so blessed to be here.
Robin's a great storyteller!
Beside a full day of learning and getting inspired at the “High Performance Leadership in Turbulent Times” seminar, I had met new friends too. I knew this was going to be a corporate thingy but little did I know how CORPORATE it was going to be! Everyone was either a vice-president or manager of some multinational company or listed company.
Krista & Robin Sharma - cool yeah?
(Apparently, Tiara Jacquelina was there, so were a group of Datuk-datuk, Datin-datin and high profile CEOs. At RM3600 per ticket, I would assume only the top level people would be privy to such intimate coaching! Not that I saw Tiara. The hall was so packed with people anyway.)
But no matter what you are, you’re still human and it felt great to connect to people who enjoyed being inspired. In fact, I liked going alone to these type of events as it literally forces me to go and mingle with strangers and turn them into acquaintances and later into friends!
I always think, if you can, DO NOT go with colleagues or partners. You will stick to each other and not make new friends at all. What a waste of a prefect opportunity to truly engage with others in different fields and industries.
I liked Robin’s easygoing, modest and approachable style of communicating. He did not have a bunch of slides to show; he only showed 1 slide throughout the whole day and that was just a picture of Oseala McCarty. (Ya, you go find out who this woman is. I’m not telling you because it would spoil the surprise.)
But we did have a lot of partnering work – stand up, face your partner and ask or answer a bunch of questions. Or raise our hands if we agreed. Or clap if we felt we learnt something valuable.
So what did I learn from Robin Sharma?
A lot!
A lot of good stuff which helped me re-define what I want from life, for instance. How to cull the stuff from my life and say no ruthlessly to unnecessary stuff and focus (fiercely focus) on what I really want to do. How to be a personal CEO of my own life. How to shine as a human being. (Strangely, I was also reading the Lotus Sutra before this and it said the same thing although in Buddhist lingo.)
I bought this book so he could autograph it for me!
I’ll let you enjoy the photos while I write more on this tomorrow. (Ya, the only thing which annoyed me to no end was the guy who helped me snap a pic while I was with Robin. It turned out blur! I need some CSI level Photoshop version 20 to help me recover that beautiful moment. Dang!)
P/S: Robin has his own social networking site called Success Nation. Do check it out.

Going to See Robin Sharma!

I know.
What luck isn’t it?
When all I wanted was a book of his when I entered the contest organised in The Star some 2 weeks ago. I was thinking, cool if I could get his book and read it (and add to my already heavy bookshelf).
But late yesterday evening, I got a call saying that I’d won a ticket worth RM2,800 to see him LIVE in action, in Sunway Resort this Monday.
You know the thing about surprises. I had to pinch myself to see if it was for real.
It was.
Then began my mad dash to figure how to get myself down to KL in time for the full-day seminar on Monday.
Luckily, I had a pile of friends I can count on, thanks to ALL my friends having relocated to KL since our college days.
It also meant cancelling some appointments but wouldn’t you cancel appointments if you had just this chance to watch leadership guru Robin Sharma live?
Anyway, it will a very short trip to KL – practically a whirlwind one just to go for the Monday event so if I don’t have time to call on friends in KL (yes, you and you and you) please forgive me. I’m not being rude. I’m squeezing time to its max for this event.
Anyway, I hop to be a groupie and wheedle a photo opp with Robin Sharma on Monday but even if I don’t, I will have lots to tell you when I get back.
PS: The power of the law of attraction is very real for me. It’s demonstrated to work very well in so many times in my life. This is one of them. When I entered the contest, I only sent in 1 entry. But I told myself “Damn if I don’t win this and see Robin live.” And damn, I did!

Left To Die On An Island And You'll Never Guess What It Is

Imagine being a castaway. On a deserted island. No food. This tropical island is never like what you see in glossy travel brochures. It is muddy, it is far from civilisation, it is full of deadly snakes, it is not livable. You get the idea.
Like some horror movie island. Where you can check in and never check out. Ever.
If you are deported here, you will die. There’s no food, nothing. There’s danger aplenty. Snakes, mud, flies.
And you cannot swim. You will drown anyway due to tiredness as it’s really far away from any other island.
And sadly, you will die.
I read something sad today and while I am normally positive and upbeat, I want to help spread this news. I tweeted about it but it needs your support.
Bloggers always rally around to help be it a missing child, someone needing blood, raising funds for a good cause. And that’s why I feel it’s time as a blogger to not only write about fun things, good things, happy things but also to write about this. It’s horrible to think that Malaysians can be so stupid but I’m a Buddhist. I believe what goes around comes around. Life’s a big karma dish.
Anyway – to cut it short – dogs are being left to die on an island near Pulau Ketam.
Stray dogs.
help save the exiled dogs of Pulau Ketam
I heard about it from Donald first this morning at his blog. Then I followed the links and went to TV Smith’s blog where he had a very touching photo essay of the rescue mission. And this is where you can get updates about the mission.
I think it’s outrageous that dogs are exiled to an island. I’ve always felt that the cruelest beings on earth have always been humans. While we have the power to do good things, we’ve also the power to do extremely horrifying things. And I consider this one of them.
So what can you do? (I hope you are a blogger and you can spread this message far and wide. If you are a flogger aka food blogger, why not blog about dogs for a change?)
1. Help by embedding the puppy poster on your blog. Get it here.
2. Any other assistance is much appreciated. Again, the email and phone numbers are listed here.
I’m just disappointed that human beings are so bloody cruel and thoughtless! And Pulau Ketam now probably will not only be famous for seafood, it will be notorious for killing dogs!
Oh yes, they’re also overcharging for the boat trips to rescue the dogs. What irony! They were the ones who put the dogs there! Perhaps we should all boycott the Pulau Ketam seafood restaurants – NOW that’s something floggers can write about!

What is Your Favourite Appliance Brand?

We were at the Jusco for the annual Members’ Day where Jusco Card members get discounts off selected items. I was actually there to buy a vacuum cleaner since my old Toshiba died on me last year (yes, people, I have not vacuumed my apartment since last year! I know. How awful. But I use the broom ok? But still, with Margaret the cat around, sweeping still won’t do a good job.)
That was why I found myself in the Home Appliance floor.
The thing with vacuum cleaners is – we have too many choices. I know some people live and die by the brands they grew up with (Nic for instance hates Pensonic products and won’t ever buy any Pensonic product – his fave brand is Panasonic). My aunt lives by Philips – anything she buys must be a Philips appliance. It must be a throwback to the days when my uncle (her brother) used to work for that Dutch company. I don’t have such a preference though I know that I’ve always had a National rice cooker and when my old rice cooker died, I went in search of a replacement and bought a National rice cooker!
So when we were hunting for a vacuum cleaner, so many brands popped up!
Electrolux, Hitachi, Toshiba….the list was endless. Plus many China brands we’d never heard of. And then there was the tough choice – bag or bagless? No wonder serious shopping trips are such a headache. So many decisions, so many risks to take!
I was thinking, let’s be environment-friendly and get a bag-less vacuum cleaner which is all the rage now.
Actually if given a choice, I’ll buy the iRobot Roomba cleaning robot but that’s a real luxury to save up for!
This little cool device is a robot that helps vacuum your floors automatically. You don’t need to lift a finger. But hey, robots don’t come cheap. So that’s on MY wish list. But really, it’s easy justifying why I need a two thousand ringgit plus vacuum cleaner. I’ll save so much of time!
Anyway, while we were discussing whether to buy a bag-less vacuum or not, we kind of detoured to the refrigerator section. My fridge is so damn old that I really need one but as consumers, again, we’re so confused by all the shapes and sizes of fridges.
A sales promoter bounced up to us when he saw me opening and closing the Panasonic fridge.
So we asked him what was a good size for a fridge say for a family of four. Besides NOT knowing the answer to that question (I was thinking maybe 355 liters is a good family size), he said we could buy whatever size we liked!
Of course we could but that’s not the answer you dummy. I mean, he could have asked questions like – do you cook? How often? Do you buy lots of fresh food to stock up? Do you have a budget? Are you looking for a green, eco-friendly fridge?
Well Nic being Nic – he gets turned off by fools easily so that day, the sales promoter could have closed a decent sale (since we were captivated by the sale price of the fridge!) but he didn’t. We walked off because we found the guy to be totally inept and untrained to focus on customers’ needs.
Anyway, if you, like me, are looking to buy an electrical appliance and don’t know how to choose, why don’t you go for something that does not guzzle electricity? It’s hard of course to decide what is really suitable but this Singaporean website gives you tips on which home appliances to buy especially if you are a greenie like me. It even has a database of registered goods for you to search for that energy consumption saver.
In the end, we bought our vacuum – a compact little thing from Hitachi. We decided on a regular vacuum with bag because I really didn’t fancy washing out the vacuum container (in the bag-less version).
By the way, what is your fave appliance brand? And more importantly, why?

Got An Old TV You Don't Need Anymore?

If you are moving home or just want to clear out old appliances, why not give them a new home?
St Nicholas Home for the Blind needs your old TVs! This is an email I got from a friend today so please pass the word around.
And while it may seem like an oxymoron (why do the blind need TVs?) it really isn’t. They want to listen to the TV.
Read below for details.
YES! We’re talking about the television set(s) that you have at home. If you wish to discard or give away your tv set, St. Nicholas’ Home, Penang dormitory is more than happy to be on the receiving end. All they are asking for are two (2) TV sets that are still in working condition.
What does ‘working condition’ mean? = still sound emitting, but not necessarily with clear vision, as they just need some mode of contact with the outside world, whereby they can listen to daily news, entertainment and songs, anything… to accompany them through day and night, ups and downs…
Wouldn’t it be nice if you can be the one to bring in music to their ears and sounds to their hearing?
Please pass this email around to your friends and families.
If you wish to donate your tv set, please contact Joyce Yeoh or Grace Ong, or deliver the tv to us, the TV Collector @ Resource Development, St. Nicholas’ Home, Penang, 4, Jalan Bagan Jermal, Penang. You may also wish to contact us at 04-229 0800 for more assistance.
Remember, the blind may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind. Let’s help bring some joy into their lives.