Sociable

A tranquil Christmas

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Christmas came a bit too sudden for me this year and I was caught unprepared and somewhat stuck in mid-air.  A week before Christmas, my husband had the misfortune of being involved in a car accident and having had to undergo surgery to fix his fractured ankle, he was stuck in Assunta  Hospital for a good part of the week..  The daily driving in traffic jammed roads and the constant worry  did not do much for a festive Christmas this year.

On a brighter note, however, I did manage to bake my traditional gingerbread man cookies to give to some of my students  and made sure my kids wrote their letter to Santa.  No, it is not posted to the North Pole but put into the Christmas stockings on Christmas Eve before we leave for church for Midnight Mass.  Since my husband was confined to his chair with strict instructions to minimise movement ,  the running around for everything and everywhere  was left to me. Shopping was a nightmare at Isetan, KLCC, not because of  lack of choice but rather my daughter took the longest time to choose the minimum clothes! To tell the truth,  I'm not much of a shopping person and the horrendous amount of time waiting for my daughter to try on the clothes freaked me out, so much so that my son and I made a solemn decision to not go shopping for clothes  again  with his sister/my daughter !

Lunch was a quiet affair with only the family and immediate members involved. Since I had little time for preparations this year, I only managed to bake a bread pudding with custard sauce for Christmas tea, while lunch was, as usual,  prepared by my sisters- in-law.  It was indeed a far cry from last year's celebrations, but still, the spirit of Christmas  was evident in our family, aided very much by the daily viewing of  the feel good and heart warming  Christmas movies in STAR channel.  Didn't miss even one,  from Fred Claus to the Gringe and all the re-runs in between ...... !

And you know what, the best gift this year came from my baker friend,Yati , who pleasantly  surprised me by baking for us the best ever  chocolate cake, complete with Christmas decorations of Santa on his  sleigh with Rudolf, his  Red Nosed Reindeer.

Magnifique

A small shopping stint for school

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Today,  I took a single parent and her daughter to the Giant store and bought  the little 7 yr kiddo her school uniforms and stuff.    The little kid was so excited and chatty throughout the shopping.   Her mum works as a cleaner in a firm and had asked for assistance for the child's school expenses and uniforms.  Come to think of it, the beginning of school is always a hard time for normal parents themselves,what with  the ever increasing PTA fees, school fees, magazine fees,miscellaneous fees,  sports clothes, new shoes and socks, uniforms, stationeries  and what not. Under the circumstances, it must be doubly hard for  single mums  to manage the new school year.  This doesn't even  include the school bus fee/transport expenses,etc  and the 101 things which will always find its way for added expenses.  Hmmmm,  if only I had a magic wand........

I was truly glad that I could be of some help to the little girl  and her happy face said it all.  It was raining when we left the store and after driving them home , I said a prayer of thanks to GOD , for in the process, I realised how blessed and lucky I was.

Window dressing

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My new customer, Rosemary and Ana gave me this 'ready made' window to paint on.  It comes complete with mini curtains too.  Very creative indeed.... the artist who came up with this idea, don't you think?.  Now all  you have to do is nail it to an empty wall and voila! you have a window.   It's that easy........ Anyway, since it was a window ,  and since Rosemary and company wanted roses, roses, roses, I thought  the above arrangement of  rose sprigs would be appropriate. It took me a few days to paint the two windows as it was quite quite heavy and I had to hold it at a difficult angle when painting.  The hinges  were too tightly screwed and so I couldn't unscrew them ( ha!ha!ha!)   I also painted a buttterfly and a bee on each panel of the window to give it a 'outdorsy' look.

Rosemary's Picnic Basket.

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This is one of the recent ones I did for Rosemary.  A picnic basket with bows and lace.  A similar one was also done but with a lime green background for another customer who preferred bold and strong colours.

The Busy Bee

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The past 2 weeks or so had me running up and down trying to accommodate classes  and staying late nights to finish up my projects. I think I look like a panda, with the trademark black eyes from lack of sleep .  Just the other day, I went to bed at 5 am.  Was painting like mad to meet the dateline and got to watch the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie on HBO at 3am ( can't remember the name but with a soppy happily ever after ending which I sooooo  like)  and  without being interrupted . Very late but getting a chance to see a complete  movie without any " Mummy, where is my ........., Is dinner ready ...... or  ESPN  has started so........... is such a rare occurrence for me. 

I have made new friends too.  Jackie and her mum Ivy, are two such special ladies whom I had the privilege to know and they are now my good good friends.  Such charming  mother and daughter team who run a quilt making outfit in Taman Andalas, Klang. . They also do  smocking, the old fashioned  children's  clothes hallmark, beautifully and meticulously done.  You'd wish you had a little girl of your own to try them on....  Their studio is housed in an annexe to their home surrounded by a really really beautiful English rose garden  that would take your breath away.

Back to my paintings... Of late, I have taken on extra painting projects from friends.  Remember the  school project I did as part of my community  obligation?  Well, I  did mention to the Headmistress that , if  there was any student who was in dire need of  assistance, I would like to offer whatever help I could..  I have now come to know of a  11 year old motherless  student whose guardian uncle  is unable to afford the child's upkeep. ' An intelligent but lonely child who could do with some attention, affection and a gift of proper  clothes. ' was the Headmistress's remark.    Having made my commitment to support the child without proper planning and  thinking , I was  caught in a somewhat 'difficult' situation. And then, BINGO, I received painting projects from new customers and friends!. Well, ' tis the season to be jolly, isn't it  and  God works in mysterious ways.... so now I'm keeping aside the income derived from my painting and will soon be paying a surprise visit to her and take her out for the day. 

It's sweet irony, isn't it?   Instead of  I  simply dreaming of Santa Claus , I get a small chance to be one for a little girl...   Thank you, GOD ALMIGHTY,  for this blessing.

The Christmas Tree

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After weeks of cajolling, days of coaxing and hours of threatening, I've finally managed to put up my Christmas tree, lit it... and decorated it..  in that order.  It looks beautiful, with tinsels and baubles, tinkling bells , of angels and fairies, snowflakes, shiny red and gold  ribbons and bows cascading down,  berries and crystals,...  hundreds of lights shimmering through, ... oops!  I'm getting carried away.... it's always been like that with me.  Somehow, the sight of the Christmas tree brings out a sense of warmth and cosiness, of family and crackers, of a warm fireplace with Brer Rabbit ( read too many Beatrix Potter) of angels and fairies dancing in the garden ( too many Enid Blytons and Grimms Fairy Tales )  aiyo....there I go again....I can't seem to stop...Blimey, I used to and still do tell my son to keep a glass of milk and cookies under the Christmas tree before we leave for Church , honest.  Last year, I actually heard the sound of tinkling bells after the midnight church service, only to find out in the morning that the it was the neighbour's new door bell ringing tone.   Haaiyoooo, I was soooooo angry !!! Still, I haven't given up, still waiting one day......for Santa Claus and his Red Nosed Reindeer.  Life is about hope,isn't it ? and I have truckloads of it.........

And I am not even a Christian!

To those readers who are wondering why I celebrate Deepavali and Christmas, let me explain...

I am a Hindu and my husband is a Catholic.  The way I reckon,  the God Almighty must have had a very good reason why I was born a Hindu and  not Catholic and since I know for sure that  He knows everything and I know that He knows best , who am I to change my faith that He has chosen for me ?I have implicit faith in the One God so I am not about to change or convert to another for the sake of marriage, or  parental or community pressure.  Now, t h a t  would be a real sin, wouldn't it ?  I think what happens between me and God is my own business and no one,absolutely no one, has the right to ask or force me to  pray  against my wishes.  That would be morally and spirtitually wrong.   My husband, also a devout Catholic himself, has never requested nor asked me to do likewise.  He knew how devout a Hindu I was when I first met him.  And yes, I still thank the One God Almighty, whichever faith He is, for His Grace and Love shown through my husband's understanding . I think that is the highest blessing  itself., don't you?


 For those readers wondering what is Hinduism all about, let me give you the gist of it without boring you to death, hopefully.

Hindus believe in one GOD  although on the contrary ,   you might see and think that we pray to many deities.  We believe that they are all the various manifestations of  The One True  God.. God shows Himself  in different ways to different people, the same way, a nugget of gold can be turned into various ornaments with a variety of names.  Gold earrings, gold bangles, gold rings, gold chains, gold  necklaces, etc. etc., but still it is the same gold.  One God but various names...get it ?

  We believe in the Holy Trinity (, the same as the Catholics - The Holy Father, Son and Holy Spirit -  only problem is most of us don't realise it - different names perhaps ?) In Hinduism, it is  Lord Brahma, the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the Preserver and Lord Siva, the Destroyer.  It's actually a very pragmatic and practical approach to the cycle of life(  primary science class )- beginning with birth ( Creator) living the life given ( Preserver) and death ( Destroyer)  "Elementary Science really, my dear Watson" as Sherlock Holmes would say. .

As humans we are attached to the physical, emotional and material aspects of the world and thus are not ready  to realise the One  God Almighty nor have we attained the purity and spirituality of mind    needed to see Him. That would take many evolutions of birth and death for as  mere mortals, we are tied to the daily grind of the physical, emotional and material world. We have to go through our karma of past and existing  deeds,- in short , payback time for whatever good and bad deeds we have done . " You reap what you sow" is the best maxim I can think of.  Have you ever wondered why our grannies to parents to the elders keep telling us to do good-  it's because we will be  rewarded accordingly, the good with the good and the bad with the bad. Until such a time that we have no more  physical,  emotional and material attachments of any kind., and we have negated all our karma, will be able to see the  One  True God.  Till then, we will see Him differently from our coloured lens.  Some see through green coloured lens, some in red, some in yellow, according to our communal  beliefs, yet,  GOD is still the same from time immemorial.  Anyone heard of an official change? No. I rest my case. We cannot see him in our impure state  because that would be like exposing our  naked human eye to a zillion volt bulb. It would be too much too soon, and would  blind us,  for we are not ready . Unless we become sprititualy pure with no baggage of any kind   only then can we attain the kingdom of God and see Him as One.


Thus,in Hinduism, to be born as a human is already a blessing for we are the highest in the hierachy of all GOD's creation.   Animals have 5 senses - sense of  sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing.  Only humans have 6 senses -the extra sense being the  the power to reason between right and wrong, so that we may correct our mistakes and atone for whatever misdeeds done. ( To the Dumb and Dumbers, animals can think but can't differenciate between good and bad!)

 We humans are such a bunch of convoluted marbles that even the Alliens would have difficulty understanding us.  We  share the same red blood the world over  and yet some think they have blue,   we breath the same air  and yet we have kosher and unclean edibles, we believe in God the All Merciful and yet we kill each other in HIS name, We do the mistakes and yet we blame HIM for our actions...

Enough said..  It's way pass by bedtime and Santa might come in my dreams today.....

A cool school stool at SRJK Tamil Ladang Ebor,

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THE ' AFTER' LOOK


This is what a fresh coat of paint and a rose did.  I  deliberately  choose a bright  background colour to hold the students attention. Youngsters can live with any colours and the base colour reflects  the brightness and boldness of their lives.  I wish I can paint all the chairs for them and add some colour to thier lives too.. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some volunteers to help me achieve this.... It will be a nice start to the next school year in January 2010  .  Volunteers  can email  me at :luckylaksh11@gmail.com.   Would be glad of any assistance in this matter

By the way,  I wish all my muslim friends " Selamat Hari Raya Haji" and God Bless

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THE 'BEFORE' LOOK

This is one of the stools from the school that I had taken for a make-over  to show the students the wonders of decorative painting.

Baking adventure in school

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I recently undertook to teach a bunch of 30 school kids who had just finished their Standard 6 exams, on the intricacies of baking cookies. As the exams were over and there were no specific lessons being conducted, I had volunteered myself to conduct the baking class at a small and quaint Tamil school in Batu Tiga (SRJK Ladang Ebor)I also roped in my son, Arvind, to entertain the Standard 1 and 2 children with his violin.. I thought he should start somewhere too....

My first impression of the school,( actually my first visit to a Tamil school, unbelievable, but true)was its size! SMALL , very small by mainstream national schools standards, but very very clean and very well maintained. Lots of potted plants everywhere, a small but well manicured field, a water fountain courtesy of some generous parents' contribution and an equally small canteen of Lilliputan size. The classrooms, were of course, you guessed it, small ... The distinct feeling of being in a 60's time zone was evident.Worn out wooden desks and chairs, mismatched stools donated by caring individuals, shoes neatly arranged outside the library ( imagine that!)and the icing on the cake, no screams and shrieks from students and teachers alike. In fact, the clean surroundings, the crisp cool air and the quietness of the surrounding took me by surprise! Ha, this is not the case in my kid's national school environment... everytime I leave my son at his school, I can hear the high pitch shrieks of the principal/ teachers admonishing the students , over the loudspeaker/PA system, no less, all the way to the main road !.
Curiosity got the better of me and upon further enquiries from the HM about the school's size ( naturally!), it was made known that as the school was not situated on government land,only the administrative salaries came under the Education Ministry's purview while funding for the school was left entirely to the PTA and private donors, hence the corresponding size.... Sad, isn't it? Despite our 50 years of independence as a multi-national nation, we're still under such archaic and lopsided rules in education for our country's best asset, the young children.

Obviously, I volunteered to buy all the baking stuff of flour, sugar, butter, rolled oats, nuts, raisins, eggs and peanut butter for my baking do. Brought along my baking trays, whisk, bowls and my portable oven too. I then proceeded to divide the kids in two groups and gave each group the measured ingredients to mix it themselves. I wanted a 'hands on' approach by the students instead of a lone ranger demo . Some of the boys had the ' I'm the man and I don't do kitchen work' attitude ( sigh, typical male 'mental' syndrome, ) Had great fun bringing them down a peg or two, how? I made them clean up the mess . Served them right, I say! Everyone was given a chance to mix and shape the dough and from their squeals, chatter and laughter, I knew they had fun . Baking was a bit slow as I only had one oven running but the smell of the baking cookies was wafting in the air as some of the teachers found their way to my class to 'help'.

I managed to finish the class by noon and having distributed the cookies to the students and giving them the recipe to try it at home, I packed up all my stuff, dumped them into my car in the ensuing rain and headed straight home to cook lunch for my dear husband and kids..

Despite being caught in the heavy rain and feeling cold with water dripping over our heads, my heart was lighter and an indescribable feeling of happiness enveloped me. I dare say, it was for my son too.

Community Service

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For some time now, I have been trying to reach out to various segments of our society and introduce to them the beautiful world of painting. To this end, I have given demos in schools, single parent associations, ladies clubs, retirees associations, and to school children.

Today, as part of my community service outreach programmes, I conducted a simple workshop cum art class for a group of primary students. The boys ( presumably brought in by near exhausted parents needing a break from them !) just painted whatever they felt like it .. with splotches and blobs everywhere , punctuated by laughter and funny faces, which I thought was a good thing... Ah, the girls, they were the complete antithesis of the boys... seated in their seats and diligently trying to follow my instructions, with a few giggles in between. How sweet and predictable they were. The timid ones got bolder after the first hour or so and the boys, despite their short lived interest ( that was predictable too..!) did make some effort to paint something that looked like a daisy, was like a daisy but was not a daisy!!

Those Who Enter Must Wear A Smile

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I got this interesting choice of words from one of the craft magazines and thought it was most apt for my home,instead of the usual ' Welcome ' signage. This is part of my Trash 2 Treasure features and as before, I painted this in similar fashion as my previous one, on an old window frame. The old frame was lying idly in my house for sometime and as the prospective customer showed no interest in confirming her requirements, I took it upon myself to paint it. Only the flower alignment differs. Also this was done in an 'arty' and carefree manner, with slip slap strokes for both flowers and foliage. I didn't want to make it prim and proper and perfect....

Me thinks it look pretty good, don't you?

Welcome to Tanah Aina

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Sometime ago I wrote about my hillarious trip to Raub in Pahang with Puan Sri Sabrina and friends. The 5 intergrated and beautifully maintained farmstead, named after her 5 children, Tanah Aina Farrah Soraya, Tanah Aina Farhana, Tanah Aina Fareena, Tanah Aina Farouq and Tanah Aina Azareena are now open for bookings or reservations for day and weekend trips. All five farmsteads are beautifully landscaped within the parameters of environmental friendly conditions and each of them is nestled among the natural charms of the forest and river. You have to see to believe it. To add to the charms are orchards of durians, mangosteens, langsat, rambutans, etc. For example,at Tanah Aina Azareena, the dining and lounge area on the ground floor opens to a crystal clear stream... A personal chef and staff member is part of the package and you can even specify your own personal menu specifications. It's a beautiful retreat for a family, for sure!

I have been to all 5 so you can take my word for it. It is an experience you won't forget, at least I didn't! And no, I'm not getting anything of monetary value for writing this article going goo-goo gaga over the farms, lest you think I am! I just want to share with my readers my personal experience. For anyone interested, there's a special promotion going on from now till 31st December 2009. Please call Ms Mary Heng at 012-6713823 for further details.

Dinner at Villa Mae

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I recently had the privilege of attending a birthday dinner at a private and exclusive establishment in Shah Alam.

Located in Section 7, Shah Alam, the private residence turned fine-dining establishment oozes understated elegance and and ambience . The owners have indeed taken great pains and put in much thought and effort in designing and decorating the villa. The entire decor reflects the personality of the owner, whom I was told was a prominent Puan Sri . She has presumably used her vast collection of collectibles from her many travels all over the world to create a beautiful and elegant ambience of European taste. No walk-ins please. Patrons have to make prior reservation for lunch, tea or dinner . The Chef only cooks for the exact number of reservations made, so everything is done on a 'made to order' and personal basis. Because of the select nature and exclusiveness, the main entrance gates are locked when the last patron enters. Well dressed waiters hover discreetly for personalised service and bow out when finished. Huh, am I dreaming or what ?! Exquisite designer cutlery and crockery are put in service and the elaborate but refined table arrangements lends an air of olde world charm of days yonder. For our dinner, the decor colour theme was of soft turquoise, silver and aqua . Beautiful crystal butterflies with tiny light bulbs flickered on the elaborately set up dining table. It was like being in a fairy tale. My feet didn't seem to touch the ground, I think I was sort of ,floating in the air(?) throughout the dinner. We were the only patrons that night, all 6 of us, and we had the entire beautiful dining room to ourselves. Would you believe if I told you that the elaborate table set up was just for us and us alone? Talk about exclusivity!

Ah hah, now for the dinner. The first course was a delicious light Caesar Salad, followed by a super-duper delicious full bodied Wild Mushroom Soup with thin slices and I mean, dainty thin slices of buttered crusty baguette ( which kept melting in my mouth and they kept replenishing). It was the best mushroom soup I have had so far and it certainly didn't taste like a remix of Campbells!) My main course was Roast Leg of Chicken with a very nice mushroom sauce , mashed potato, vegetables and a dainty Cheese and Onion Quiche on the side(I think it's a safety precaution in case diners were still hungry !) The last serving was, of course, dainty portions of dessert consisting of fruit, pudding, pastries and local cakes, all served in tiny individual plates placed beautifully on a large plate, which in turn was placed on another platter. We finished off with coffee, of course. Now,that's what I call fine dining with a capital S for service! What an experience, what a feeling...

Goodness gracious!! I forgot to mention the birthday girl whose birthday brought about my invitation in the first place! Aiyo,got carried away as usual la.. That honour belonged to Mary Heng. Celebrating her 60th birthday, the super slim and petite lady who can put all of us to shame with her vigour and zest, defies logic and buzzes about like a busy bee on a sunny day. Dedicated, trustworthy and committed to her vocation as a PA, this sprighty lady is indeed a worthy and invaluable asset to her boss, who in turn, showed her appreciation by lavishing such a fine dining experience for Mary Heng and her friends, which thankfully included yours truly... ! Now, I can't wait to see who else in my circle of friends will be turning 60, hello, anyone I forgot ? .......!

Ps:
Photographs will be put up after requesting permission from the Birthday Gal and her Boss.

The Festival of Lights

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Started the day at dawn and found myself making tosai after tosai, vadai, chicken curry, ... generally slaving over the stove. The soft approach of waking up the kids with sweet whispers didn't seem to work ( the late night Klang town effect, I guess),so started screaming into their ears and they work up like a jack-in-the-box. The traditional oil bath over, (for those not in the know, smearing gingelly oil, which is made from pure sesame seeds,on their heads and body is a symbolic way of cleansing the body and mind for the start of the auspicious day) a herbal powder called 'shikakai' which is akin to the qualities of the shampoo (it lathers into a soapy foam and leaves just the right amount of moisture in the hair )is used to wash off the oil. Donning on their new clothes -it's a case of out with the old and in with the new - we went to our Section 11 temple for prayers.

Guests started trickling in at around 11am. Since this was a 1 woman show ( okay la, my kids did help) I had to downsize my guest list to only a few close friends and family members and even that was exhausting. The constant rush between the serving, replenishing, washing, entertaining and greetings made we realise thatI was no spring chicken after all... a case of the mind is willing but the flesh is weak . It was exhilarating and joyous to have guests of other faiths joining the Deepavali celebrations but thank God it's only a once in a year affair!

I was spared cooking the evening dinner as one of my sister-in-law's birthday happened to fall on Deepavali too, so we all had dinner at the Zen Korean Restaurant in Bangsar. Being a vegetarian for the day and being quite exhausted, I had a small variety of pickles and kimchi with miso soup whilst the others had barbequed lamb,chicken, prawns, squids....the whole works.

It was sweet revenge when all of them groaned and moaned about a bloated stomach after stuffing themselves whilst I felt quite fine and dandy with just a little.

Prelude to Deepavali

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Deepavali eve was spent baking cakes after cakes. The problem with me is that once I start something, I can't seem to stop until I am doggone tired. And so it was on baking day - I baked a Cinnamon and Coffee Bundt Cake which turned out pretty impressive,3 Almond Butter cakes, a moist carrot cake ( would you believe if the cake was actually called 'To die for carrot cake'?)a batch of blueberry muffins,a sugee cake, mango pudding abd sago with coconut milk and black sugar syrup (gula melaka). I did prepare a sweet pastry for the apple pie but I had put it the 'fridge to chill and completely forgot about it.

Afternoon was spent cleaning,cleaning and cleaning. Period.

The best part was towards the late evening. Our annual trips to Klang Town's 'Little India' was something we looked forward to. Driving and parking was,of course,a nightmare but it's on these rare occasions I'm pretty grateful for my Kancil.

Now, imagine this scene - streets filled with a sea of people, milling and jostling about, each trying to do last minute purchases with hardly any space for breathing, the heady scent of jasmine and rose permeating the air, stall holders and pedlars selling a plethora of costumes,accessories, flower garlands, a cornucopia of traditional sweetmeats, cakes and cookies fighting for space among huge bags of murruku, shopkeepers screaming into their microphones trying to auction off their stocks amidst loud music blarring from the speakers, drowning all conversations, makeshift booths providing henna hand decorating service,florist trying to dispose off their flowers in bundles ...the list is not exhaustive ..and this frenzied atmosphere was all part and parcel of the exuberance of Deepavali. To the uninitiated, it might look like a town gone mad but to the celebrants, it was a once a year 'feel good' time.

The highlight and real reason for our jaunt was to see the spectacular display of fireworks at the stroke of midnight, ushering in the Festival of Lights with a big bang right up to the heavens. The whole street and sky was a riot of breathtaking and vibrant display of fireworks with a myriad of colours and shapes. It was like the stars were raining down on you. 'Oh my God, oh my God' was all I could keep saying while straining to see all of them from all angles, so much so that I had a bad neck pain. What a sight to behold and how thoroughly appropriate to start Deepavali, the Festival of Lights indeed.. By now, I was fully invigorated with the Deepavali mood but with two tired kids in tow and having a full day ahead,we finally trudged back to our car.

Driving into Shah Alam was a breeze. The town was as quiet as a churchmouse and as dead as a doornail.

Armchair Makeover

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I had recently re-arranged my living hall and decided to include an armchair. It was part of the new look for Deepavali... Not wanting to buy an expensive one ( it costs about $400 and above and they don't sell in singles) I scouted around for a second-hand one. My friend, Coral, whom I had the good fortune to know through my art lessons, was kind enough to drive me around Puchong. Several zig-zags later, we managed to get a single armchair with green upholstery to match my green sofa. Perfect. From a price of $260 I managed to bring it down to $160 with a little guidance from Coral. I thought it was a good bargain and Coral thought so too. Although the chair frame had a few scratches and the colour was an awful red, I could see its potential.

Back home, I stripped and sanded and sealed the frame, covered the upholster and primed it with several basecoats. The tedious part over, the fun part began. After attempting several test colours and using my cinnammon red wall and my existing furnishing as my colour guide, I then repainted it .

I think it looks great now, sort of blends with my surroundings and I'm very happy that I can now do it my own way, without costing and arm and a leg!

If you're reading this, Coral, my sincere appreciation and thanks for showing me Puchong town and that's the first time I had been to that part of town!!

Deepavali deeds

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I had so much to write but simply couldn't find the time these past weeks. Before I could even say bye to the Hari Raya feastings, it was time to clean up my home for Deepavali, the Festival of Lights. Let me see....

I sewed a new set of cream coloured curtains with matching cushion covers, re-upholstered my sofa ( yes,you heard right),repainted my dining hall and added a feature wall of biscuit yellow and cinnamon red ala sponging method. That not being enough, I got carried away, as usual, by painting my stairs too. That was the hardest part, a very laborious job indeed and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The walls looked clean and the sponged wall looked like it was wall-pappered. That's what my guests said... ha ha.. I must have done an excellent job, no? Anyway, it did look very nice. Oh, for the accent, I sewed a few small cushion covers in velvet red. Added an armchair ( arm chair story later ) for good measure and voila, I was mighty pleased with the result.

A feeling of comfort, cosiness and warmth permeates my heart when I sit in my sofa with my kids and have a tumble with them. It's actually a simple double-storey terrace house, but through my passion for painting, I have covered my entire home with my personal touch and that makes it extra special for me and my family.

I simply love my home

4 o'clock tea

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It's close to Deepavali and I've been busy painting away on everything I lay my hands on. I have just painted my old and unusable chinese wok with a lovely tea-pot, cup and saucer motive. Having a cup of tea from a beautiful teapot is just, well, a simple but beautiful act by itself and since I am a great fan of the 4 o'clock tea syndrome, I thought I should honour my tea-time with a painting. It took me a full day to turn the rusty wok to what you see now. A good part of my time was taken to cleaning off the rust and coating it with a primer A few coats of basecoat ( since it was oxidised metal, it took a longer time )gave it a good coverage. The painting of the tea-pot, cup and saucer and cakes was relatively easy. The words were from Rudyard Kipling " Teach us delight in simple things ". How appropriate.....

Trash to Treasures

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For some time now, I have been vigorously focussing my attention into transforming
trash from garage sales and flea markets to treasures. It gives me immense pleasure when I see the transformation, both on the trash and on the face of my trash collector!

Some of my neighbours and friends are now busy poking their heads into their attics and storeroom, looking for the odd table or chair, the aluminium rice pot and the old fashioned metal pail that they don't use anymore( the ones with the tiny holes which can't be used anymore but, oh, so 'sayang' to throw it kind!), old sturdy boxes , wooden chest used by our grandparents...

It's more fun and challenging when re-painting and decorating used items like these. The results are simply amazing and I can't seem to contain the ideas flowing out of my head when I think of ways to re-use the discarded and unwanted stuff.

The one shown here is an old oblong mooncake box with a magnetic strip. A good basecoat with blue stripes for ribbons and a free style painting of roses changed it into a beautiful gift box with my personal touch. Instead of buying fancy wrappings for my Deepavali and Christmas gifts, I'm going to put my stuff in these beautiful boxes and give them away. Neat.. huh!. I'm not only saving money, which, of course is great, but more importantly, doing my tiny bit to the environment friendly cause. Less paper to use and help save more trees. Every bit counts

Post Eid Mubarak

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This year's Eid Mubarak must have been a very very low key affair, I think. Staying in Shah Alam, it would have been expected to be a gala celebration in every nook and cranny of the town, as it had been for the past years. Not surprisingly, this year's celebration was abnormaly quiet. The trees along the roads in the town proper were not lit up with hundreds of decorative lights as it used to be, there was no feeling of gaiety in the air and the festive crowd andd mood was sorely lacking. There were hardly any 'open house' invitations from my Muslim friends, the exception being Tan Sri Syed Yusof and his lovely wife, Puan Sri Sabrina. Come rain or shine, they never fail to celebrate the festival in true open-house tradition on the first day. Replete with sumptious food and sinful desserts, the stunning couple welcomed all their friends from the 'Who's who' list ( since I was in their guest list, I have taken it upon myself to be qualified ..ha ha! that's a good one,isn't it!Deprived of other invitations (real strange that )I sat in my favourite spot, the table next to the dessert counter and gorged myself silly with cookies and cream with the occassional addition of strawberries and marshmallows dunked in the chocolate fountain..... heavenly... the sombre air surrounding the town was blisfully forgotten .....

Life's little pleasantaries

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I just celebrated my 21st wedding anniversary recently. Every year is a milestone and an accomplishment of patience, patience and more patience!. Over the years, my outlook has changed considerably, for the better, I guess! " I've no time to cry over the past and don't have enough time to plan for the future. I live for the present " a quote by Omar Shariff of Dr Zhivago fame, and that about sums up my outlook too. Why worry over the future when I don't know what's going to happen? My kids will grow up and will build lives of their own ( can't interfere too much these days, not good for my stress level!) and life has to go on for everyone, no matter pleasant or unpleasant...... so all the better reason to live our lives fully now.....

On the home front, Arvind's ( that's my son) saxophone was stolen from our home in the wee hours of the morning a week ago. The idiot/s used the mop stick drying at the side of the house to extricate the sax from the sofa near the window. The window had a grille..... Upon making the report at the local police station, they had the stupidity to ask me, get this, " Kenapa saya membuat laporan ........" Duhhh, why I made a report? I looked at them incredulously and my eyes almost popped out when I heard that..kenapa..!!! sigh.... no hope of ever setting eyes on the sax again...

Here's wishing all my Muslim artists, friends and bloggers a Happy Festival of Eid Mubarakh.....celebration

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Another delighted customer was Sharifah from Batu Tiga for whom I had painted a wrought iron garden table top with a matching set of 4 chairs. The roses were done in a soft white background with light pink roses in a semi circular arrangement. The finished piece looked extremely well that Sharifah couldn't wait to collect it even though it was almost close to 11 o'clock at night when she reached my house. The look on her face said it all . It was a very happy gal who went to bed that day

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This is the lime green distressed window panel frame that I wrote about. Would appreciate comments from readers........

Mad Cow Disease in Shah Alam

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The 'mad cow' disease has taken Shah Alam by storm and we are in the grip of madness in more ways than one, depending on whom you talk to, I guess. Some recoil in horror and some are resigned to it. From the New York Post to the Washington Times, Shah Alam has become the topic of print and conversation for all the wrong reasons . I don't want to go into the details lest this becomes a topic of contention. Suffice to say that in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, I wish all my Muslim friends 'Selamat Berbuka Puasa' and hopefully, they won't forget to call me for their celebration of Hari Raya Puasa. I simply cannot resist the mouth-watering rendang and ketupat, together with all their 'kuih muih'...

Todate, I have painted a beautiful window frame panel, which incidently, is from a salvaged wood of a'kampung' house. The first one was done in a lime green distressed background with large roses. Upon completion, I was rather pleased with the compliments I received from the happy customer, Cikgu Zaleha. I then decided to paint one for myself but with an off-white distressed background . I must say that I am mighty pleased with myself as I did it without referring to anyone or any book .

A Short Break

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The school holidays have started. Yesterday my kids and I saw a movie''UP' at the Bukit Raja Shopping Centre. It was a heartwarming and a very funny kinda movie, literally- about two kids who become friends, get married and grow old together, the wife 'goes' first and the old man is now all alone- reminiscing about their unfinished trip to Paradise Falls. ( The scene showing them growing old together was very simple but, oh so touching and heartwarming that you'd wish that it was you and your husband who'ld be like that when you're old. I cried when she died and my daughter made fun of me when we came out of the theatre !) Along comes a brownie points kid who throws himself at the old man's doorstep and together they forge a reluctant friendship which is the start of their journey on a new adventure. A memorable line I still remember is when the little kid tells the old man that its the boring things he did with his dad that he remembers and comforts him most. And it does strike a chord in us, I think. It's the boring and mundane things we'd done during our childhood days that brings back fond memories of our time with our parents. So go right ahead and faithfully do some boring stuff with your children - hopefully their memories will be happy too!

I would certainly recommend this movie to everyone- a feel good movie for the whole family. If you can't go to the theatre, get the DVD ......

Jottings of my life in progress

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August started barely a week ago (for me, that is) and before I know it, it's already towards its tail end. Everything is whizzing pass fast and furious. Along its path, I've met some interesting people and some whom I care not to meet again.... I've read the terrible news headlines which sometimes borders on the ludicrous... and come across jokes which makes me speechless in the wrong sort of way...the list goes on...

On the brighter side, I've seen and am still watching re-runs of 'The Nanny" and can still laugh every time Miss Fine speaks in her nasal twang. Hmm, how I wish I was in her place...(having a butler certainly helps, don't you think ?) I thoroughly enjoy the sitcom - the nanny in her unbelievable designer togs, although I can't fathom how any nanny can afford those, Mr Sheffield, the perfect gentleman,a wisecracking but loyal butler and of course, the adorable and wholesome kids. Miss Babcock just adds to the laughter.. ha..ha..That's about the only program I can watch on TV without my husband flipping the TV remote to ESPN..and all the sports channel together with it.. I've literally stopped watching TV programmes for the same reason. There was a time when I used to watch a good movie or two after my household chores were done for the day..but along comes my better half(?) who will switch the channel for Manchester United vs Arsenal or PGA Golf series or singles/doubles badminton matches or NBA basketball or whatever .... Being the dutiful wifey that I am, I just hand over the remote and start on my painting... no arguement and fights. How cool is that! My painting hobby has actually helped my marriage, phew! Another perfect reason why all married ladies shoud pick up this skill.

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The Horrors of Renovation

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I am just recovering from an avalanche of dust ,grime ,cement, bricks and mortar and worst of all the shrill bone shaking noise from the industrial drill. All this punishment for just redoing my bathroom. Oh, did I mention it was upstairs in the master bedroom? If it had gone any longer, I would have had a nervous breakdown and admitted myself in one of the premier ICU wards, really! Kindly imagine 2 adults and 2 kids crammed into 1 bedroom and sharing
1 bathroom for a whole month !. I think you can get the picture, no ?

With no maid to help and my husband and son feighning ignorance, seemingly oblivious to the mental breakdown I was going through, it was left to my poor daughther and I to cope with the shmuck. Why is it that women always end up doing the dirty work? Washing, mopping and cleaning the entire house from top to bottom, which included all the cooking utensils, cutlery, pictures frames, curtains, upholstery, walls, fans, eletrical equipment and gadget,4 wardrobes and their entire contents... etc, etc, etc,...was... heck, there's no word in the Englsh Language to describe it! And this was not a one time affair, it had to be done over and over for several days.... All I could say in the local lingo was "Aiyo!! it was just toooo much lah...."

It's been 2 weeks now from the horror and guess what? I can't use the bathroom because the idiots fixed in a too small water outlet that even a small tub of water down the outlet will flood it. Calls to the morons to rectify the blunder has, as usual,not been answered, since I was stupid enough to pay them (as I thought that was the only way to get them to finish the work faster and leave )Always the expert on hindsight, I guess. Now, we can't use the bathroom and I dread another messy job in the offing. Contractors are such imbeciles you know!!- especially the ones from a neighbouring country.

This is my personal experience and I mean no offence to anyone. By the way,does anyone share a similar experience or is it peculiar to me only ?

Living Life as I See It

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Is it only me or do all the over 50's feel that time is flying faster than it should? Turning 50 has made me,sort of, strange and weird.I can't seem to put a finger on it but it has certainly enlarged my vision, physically, mentally and emotionally... sad movies makes me cry even more than it normally would, to the point that even my kids make fun of me; news of someone's death, whether a friend or foe,makes me dumbstruck, reminding me of my own mortality; listening to someone's sob story makes me doubly appreciate my own family with all its warts and all and living in denial of my diabetes has finally caught up with me-now, even a tiny morsel of sweetness is like ambrosia...urgh... how terrible...

On the other hand, I'm happier now than I was before, my sense of humour has heightened so much that I don't laugh anymore, I guffaw uncontrollably, even for the silliest of jokes!; my dancing shoes are seeing the light of day more often with the 60's and 70's beat and best of all, I don't have to make attempts to solve problems anymore, I just let the problems solve itself, courtesy of the ' no fuss and no mess' policy .

Goodnight and sweet dreams....

Wiser and Older Now?

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50 years have I spent on this earth and now I'm in the 'contemplating' stage and while doing just that, Michael Jackson died, aged 50 too, how about that? Life has a whole new meaning to me now. One moment happy and living life and the next minute, gone permanently; leaving only our name and whatever infinitesimal contribution we have made in our lifetime. Michael Jackson has left his name to speak for himself. The average Joe or Jane? Something to really think about, isn't it......

The days pass slowly when we are young but literally fly by as we age, at least, that's my perception and my husband, for once, seems to concur. Things seem different for me now. It's no longer just black or white, like MJ's hit, but shades of greys and neutrals have crept in larger swathes of my outlook. I've learnt to let go of a lot of emotional and physical attachments and this has left me remarkably relaxed and stress free. I mean, there's no point in working myself up in a frenzy over some mistakes or problems. They won't disappear, for sure, (however much we rant and rave) but will somehow work itself out with the passage of time, with the right mode and method presenting itself. A case of 'que sera sera, whatever will be, will be' by Doris Day. How sooo true!

On a lighter note, I took my kids to watch 'Angels and Demon' and 'Transformers' at the local cineplex, which is Klang, by the way. Both were gripping and exciting movies and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, my eyes were totally glued to the screen and my hands were literally gripping the handrest of the seat throughout. I'm beginning to enjoy going to the movies nowadays and the movies, with their non-stop action packed scenes and special sound effects, make me feel all wide-eyed and tingling with excitement! My only grouse is, there's not one theatre or any family entertainment centre in the great City of Shah Alam itself.

But being the relaxed and stress free person that I am now, it doesn't really matter! Just book the tickets online, pack the kids into the car and zoom off in my buggy... and hey presto! problem solved. No need to gripe and groan and fill up the complaint column in the papers. See, I'm practising what I preach. And,...I just thanked my daughter for cleaning up the house. Now, I'm really really relaxed to the point of insanity... what's the name of the next movie ..... and where's my bed....? Goodnight

Lost in Shah Alam

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Do you know what happens when you're given the runaround for the 3rd time - you rant and rave and let off steam in the most expressive way you can . I'm doing it right here and now and there's no stopping me...

I received an sms and attended an impromptu hurried meeting last Friday afternoon to make arrangements for setting upa craft centre of sorts. It was to exclusively cater for a large group of Singaporean tourists who would be arriving on Monday. We were told to particularly showcase Shah Alam as the City of Orchids and thus to create suitably designed crafts.The booth was to be ready by 10am. I had only 2 days to accomplish this and that included the day of Sabbath,Sunday, which was strictly family day for me. Alarm bells should have rung by now in my head, what with the two previous similar incidences, but perhaps I deliberately chose to ignore it, hoping that I would be 3rd time lucky in Kampung Shah Alam. ( read previous articles)Oh God, how did I ever get entangled in this mess again with my eyes, ears and mouth all wide open? Fool..fool...fool...Am I getting Alzheimers or senile.......I digress but back to the story...

I spent the weekend looking for beautiful orchids to paint. I traversed the internet and library but found nothing suitable for painting. Let me tell you now, even if you are a die hard orchid lover, that orchids are meant to be admired in their natural form, fresh and beguiling with their intricate colours and shapes. They can be photographed but are not, I mean NOT meant to be painted- they look stupid and silly. I tried and you wouldn't want to repeat my mistake. Thus my weekend was spent..... sigh... waste of time if I had but known what was in store..

First, I didn't know the venue had been changed. I received an unclear message from the organiser at a quarter to midnight on Sunday to go to Mawadah kiosk at 10.00am.
For the world of me, I sure didnt't know what the heck that was or where it was or what it meant.There were no directions .

I left home at 6.30am on Monday morning with my son to PJ and rushed back by 9.30am, thinking I would be late. Quickly did the cooking for my kids and rushed back to Antan whatisname restaurant,the venue, lugging all my painted works with my daughter in tow . Found no one there, rang the organiser and she tells me that its at Galeri Shah Alam. Lugged back and drove to Galeri Shah Alam. Oh God, it was a lack lustre building with a dinghy entrance and an air of mustiness prevailed everywhere. Frankly, no one was in sight. Seeing no booth or whatsoever, I dumped my bags and paintings at a corner and rushed back home to attend to my contractor, then rushed again to the Gallery, this time waiting for the organiser to set up the booth. It was 11am . The organiser set up 2 booths but there were 3 of us! After a frantic call, 3 booths were put up at the corridor. There were no one about and the whole time I was there it was like a deserted place. It took me 20 minutes to display my artwork ( I had good experience by now ) and there was nothing much to do after that but wait for the busloads of tourists with anticipation. There was only Sheeda with a few trays of costume jewellery on my right and Aisyah with even less, to my left. I was in the centre. We were a pathetic looking bunch, sitting there in the heat with no one about, waiting for the 'tourists'....We were told that they would arrive by noon and after a prepared lunch, would have ample time to browse and buy at our booths. We could pack off by 3pm.

They arrived at almost 3pm, not your usual tourists with wallets filled with money to spend but a bunch of rag tag old religious group who I think were all retired and had nothing bettter to do but jump on a bus for a free ride to Shah Alam.

We were instructed to go and greet them at the car park under the sweltering heat and I felt so conspicuous because they were all of a religious denomination,well covered from head to toe in dark colours and I was the only odd one out, in a pair of white slacks and sunflower yellow t-shirt! I think the tourists thought so too by the surprised look on their faces. I found out too late that they were not your regular tourists but a prearranged religious group who had been invited by the local authority as part of their tour in Malaysia. It also dawned on me too late in the day why the organiser put up only 2 booths. Heck, why didn't they tell me so?,why make me go through all the trouble if I was not meant to be there? Or was I only an afterthought to fill in the space because the others conveniently backed off at the last minute?

It was almost 4pm when they came to our booth. They bought a few of the $5 - $10 beadings from Sheeda and Aisyah and that was it. They walked pass my booth without even a cursory glance. Was I invisible or was it because I was not of their race and faith?. How could a large group of people ignore a person just like that? They had to pass my booth to reach Sheeda's and not one of them even bothered a 'hi'. Their nochalant attitude dented my confidence to the core and hit me cold. It was all over in a few seconds. How long had I taken the effort to prepare for this gig and waited for them in the blistering heat with no fan?

I didn't even want to think. My legs trembled and I felt a hot flush in my face. I sat there like an idiot and put on a brave smile. Even the driver threw a sympathetic glance at me and shook his head. Waves of anger and a feeling of dejection and hopelessness washed over me. I was just too overcome with emotion and disillusionment. I lowered my head and busied myself under the table. I could feel warm tears clouding my eyes and I felt like crying.

I had spent a whole day in the hot weather, been given the runaround by the authorities , set up booth to help promote Shah Alam as a craft centre and then completey ignored by the targetted group. The organisers had disappeared and I was left alone without even a word of thanks for all the effort put in. I could have used that 8 precious hours in the comfort of my home with my children and done something useful instead of being made use of on the pretext of promoting Shah Alam as a centre of craft Ha! that's a laugh, isn't it?! What started of as a promising journey turned into a wretched and heart-breaking experience for me.

Weariness has set in and personally, the rainbow has all but disappeared from my horizon in Shah Alam . I've become extremely disillusioned with what's been happening at all these bazaars and booths and I'm pretty sure I won't fall prey to another wild goose chase anymore. I don't know whether it's the town, or its peoples' mindset or faith. Or, it could be like what my well connected friend said ' it's not what you know Lakshmi, but whom you know in Shah Alam ". Maybe I'm in the wrong place .... well, it has certainly proved difficult to make a living from painting in Shah Alam. This is the last of my foray into taking booths to sell my beautifully decorated art pieces. I would rather keep them in my house and admire them or give them away as gifts to my cherished friends. My love for painting and teaching is undiminished as ever and I do so hope I will get other opportunities to teach and paint elsewhere... I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hope you will do the same for me.. Let me know please for I could sure use some encouragement and a whiff of optimisim.

I've got a load off my chest and feel much better now...

Lakshmi

PS : I mean no offence to anyone of any faith mentioned or otherwise and if anyone does, my sincere apologies to him/her.

Sabrina's Soiree in the Hills 2

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A cool and crisp air greeted me when I woke up in the wee hours of the morning at Berjaya Hills. Looking down from the large glass walls of my bedroom, I wished the morning would continue on...the mist was rising and I sat cross-legged on the bed with my hand cupping my chin. I couldn't sleep a wink, much as I tried. I wanted to savour every minute and second of my first overnight outing ever with my girl pals after 21 years of marriage! Now that's a record meant to be broken and I just did. yippee....

I skipped breakfast and donning my leggings and T-shirt, all of us trooped into the car and drove downhill to her farm . Two professional videoman and photographer were clicking away all our movements. I silently prayed that I won't turn out looking like a Bangledeshi immigrant doing hard labour.( sigh), I'm just not the photogenic type and next to Sabrina, I thought I always looked like the Beauty and the Beast..

Like a scene from Indiana Jones, a convoy of 4WDs were waiting to take us up the humpity bumpity hill. The ride was a nightmare to some and a jolly one for me ( I hadn't taken breakfast, you get it ?) Upon reaching the grounds,the party planner had organised a treasure hunt of sorts. I had a sinking feeling when I was given a life-jacket to wear. We trekked with our jackets on under the sweltering heat. The trek was slippery and winding and the treacherous path was a test for the braveheart. At one of the paths, the dry and brittle bamboo handbars gave away and I almost slipped and lost my balance. Praying was the order of the day, ha ha... My worst nightmare was when we reached the deep stream beyond which was a 8ft waterfall. Not knowing how to swim was already a major handicap and making a spectacle of myself shrieking and wailing for the entire forest to hear was a big boo hoo. ( aiyo, major major embarrassment for me la !) To top it all, everyone present was having a good laugh at my pathetic antics and desperate attempts at crossing the deep stream- instead of holding the rope and surging forward, I was grappling with the stupid rope and going sideways, bobbing up and down and screaming for anyone to hold my legs and arms! I was that desperate. God knows how I ever let myself into this...

In spite of all this, my team did manage to get the treasure chest simply because I was lucky to find the exact key out of a box of about 50 keys!. So I did have a streak of luck in me after all. I'm sure that streak will accompany me wherever I go henceforth.

Sabrina's Soiree in the Hills

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Ha! I had the most memorable time on my 50th birthday which fell on the same day as my good friend, Puan Sri Sabrina Syed Yusoff. The theme was 'Walk the Red Carpet' and the venue was at her Berjaya Hills Homes in Bukit Tinggi. The party was fabulous, the ladies were dressed to kill and the food, of course, was 5 star quality. Ever the gracious hostess with a heart of gold, she had prepared and organised beautifully wrapped door gifts and specially crafted plates and souveniers for all invited guests (lucky me !).From the caterers to her kitchen help, everyone went home with a quality gift. Added to the list was specially baked and iced birthday cakes by Puan Sri herself. The cake cutting ceremony included 1 for her kids, Farouq, Fareena and Azareena (all June babies, believe it or not!) another cake for all the June birthday ladies present, and, of course, another beautifully iced cake presented to her by her good friend, Dato Seri Azalina, which was cut at the stroke of midnight. The endless trays of cakes and the gastronomical food soon took their toll on me. Luckily, the band did their gig well, which made me dance away about half the loaded calories. Did you know that I took part in a last minute impromptu line dancing number to the beat of Slumdog Millionaire's Jai Ho? You have to be there to believe it!. Barely given less than a few hours to practise, my hands went east while my legs went west, kept forgetting the routine and looked as silly as a goose , prancing around clueless, all in front of the other guests! It was almost 1am when I called it quits, had a shower and came to the patio for a quiet walk. Oh my God! the music fellas were playing the sixty's rock and roll and the twist and there I was in my pyjamy twisting away. (Aiyo, couldn't control myself la !) I just pray that the video guy and cameraman didn't record a mad woman of 50 rocking away in her red pyjamas at 2am! Horrors, what would they say? ( As if I care.....ha ha )

Finally, I dragged myself away and sat myself down on a hanging rocking chair placed strategically overlooking the hills. In the solitute and quiet of the early morning, I could see the beautifuly lit fairy tale like castle of Colmar Tropicale on the highest hill amidst the lush green surroundings. It was like a scene out of Cindrella and (sigh ) a 50 year old was feeling like she was Cindrella herself. I took in every sight and smell and put it to memory lest I forget. I want to be able to retrieve it again when back at home while folding my kids unmatched socks late at night! Hey! the story doesn't end here, the next day's adventures will come in my next posting.... so stay tuned...

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This is a beautiful picture which I saw while browsing the net. It does give inspiration to any artist to paint it. Its the quintessential picture perfect home that I want to live in one day.... I'm sure you share my dreams. If anyone does paint this, please drop me a line in the shoutbox. PS: Since this gadget is user friendly,just about any Rani, Mei Lee or Siti can simply write in their thoughts without registering anywhere. Hope to see more comments this way la!

A mod make-over!

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I had the good fortune of meeting one of my bright students, Shakeel,recently and guess what he has majored in ? - something to do with computer communications/multimedia. To tell the truth, I can't differentiate between a giga and a terrabyte , so having his help in updating my blog is a real God send. Bless him. What you see now is so much better, isn't it?- and anyone can just about pen their thoughts without having to register anywhere. Now, that's simply great!!! But in the process, I'm afraid the pictures went missing and so I have to put them up again. Soon, I think....

It's the start of the holidays again and I'm back in action, having classes for my friends and students. I'm feeling great and several of my former students have rejoined for class from where they left off.... The usual moaning and groaning about how they forgot this stroke and that pull is back again. I teach with glee!

My entry to Facebook

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Unbearable, thats the word to describe the terrible heat wave . I've had to have a bath every 1 hour,literally. The weather has made me lethargic that even my painting has taken a back seat.I'm now spending most of the time in shopping complexes!, something that I have never done ,its called 'lepaking' according to my teenage son. The only drawback is, invariably, I'm drawn to making unnecessary purchases...Oh well, it comes with the territory, I think.

I'v now into Facebooking! Aha, that's a new entry for me. I haven't got the hang of it yet but it is nice to write on the 'wall' and see how many friends I've collected along the way. So far I've got 2! (sigh) Hello, it simply means that my friends are not as savvy as me in Facebooking!!, I think, probably they haven't gone into it yet.....

I've started to give art classes to some of my friends after a lapse of ,I don't know how long. As most Malaysians are not generally into crafting (of any kind!), interest in Folk Art is limited to those who go searching for it or by word of mouth from those who practise it. Even art teachers in schools are unaware of it... It's quite an uphill task to find like minded practitioners in our neighbourhood, thus limiting our exposure and interaction.

I wonder if it is because of our rat race lifestyle, running all the time to earn that extra dollar, sacrificing all others, be it family, relationships or leisure activities in the pursuit of trying to keep up with the Joneses.I really wish that we have a community like lifestyle,where like minded activites of whatever kind can be shared and enhanced, at the end of which a craft market could be set up to showcase all our craftwork. Maybe, we could have judges too to give awards for the best artwork or whatever is showcased.....It's not a bad idea, really, to start small somewhere, after all watermelon growers in US have annual competitions to pick the winner who spits the seeds the furthest!! Of course there's also a prize for the biggest and best watermelon, pumpkin, potato, tomato and all the vegetables under the sun . (I've been watching too many episodes of Travel and Living Channel 707 in Astro!)My point is, why can we do something similar here ? A feeling of camaraderie between like minded artists in a community environment is so so lacking. I really don't know .......are there any takers to start the ball rolling?

Mothers Day Do

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There was no fancy Mothers Days lunch in a swanky hotel and there was not even a cake to cut . There was no breakfast in bed and the proverbial Mothers Day gift did not arrive. Urrg, it sounds terrible, doesn't it?



Despite it, I had a rather special celebration. My husband brought home ( 'ta pau' la, in the local lingo ) my favourite food, Chicken Chop from the Supper Club and my darling little boy of a son , Arvind,( he's only 14!) took pains to choose and assemble a basket of healthy food items all by himself. Let me see, there was a bottle of cheese spread, a low fat yoghurt fruit drink, a tub of cholesterol free butter, plums, dragon fruits and lovely sweet mangoes , a large bar of Cadburys and not to forget a sprig of Baby's Breath for the soft touch. All of them my favourites . He had even washed the rattan fruit basket and dried it in the sun a day earlier. Now tell me, isn't he God's gift to me or what? You may or may not agree with me but that's the way I feel, no apologies offered.



Come to think of it, I had mentioned to him in passing, a few days prior to Mothers Day, that I was feeling all of 50 and getting a tad more tired than usual. He must have been quite concerned about my health. It touched me to the core when he presented the basket to me and I realised his intention behind the carefully selected items. All I could do was to give him a big bear hug and feel tears at the back of my eyes. My daughter, Shireen Thangam, while busy with her ongoing A level exam muggings , did not forget to buy me a loaf of delicious multi grain bread which I particularly like and which was only available at those swanky gourmet bakeries.



A lazy Mothers Day spent in the company of my children and beloved husband, accompanied by a well thought of lunch, served in a basket filled with devotion, love and happiness. What more could a mother want ? I am blessed.

Immitation is the highest form of flattery

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I just found out that my cute chicken has been copied and made into stickers by a customer .

I had been asked by a customer/dealer to paint an egg holder . So, I duly painted a fat and cute chicken sitting on a bed of straws with some eggs. ( courtesy of Sandra Mclean's Chicken Pot Pie) Coincidently, while visiting her blog to find out her address, I noticed that the same chicken was on her other 'reban ayam' or chicken coop! items. Curious, I went to her and asked her if it was my painting but she denied. I'm quite quite sure it is my painting, for wouldn't I know my own handwork? However, having no concrete evidence as I had not seen it personally but only on her blog, I can't confront her. Anyway, what can I do? I can only give a big sigh and resign myself to it. I don't think I have any options to do anything about it. If and when I do confront her, she sure isn't going to pay me any compensation. I didn't expect this from her though and it upsets me terribly. As far as I am concerned, she simply has no morals ( she sells all those China made items and boxes for painting) and I don't want anything to do with her

Here I am, struggling to make myself a better artist and there she is, plagiarising mine. Hmmm.. the only consolation is that my work is good enough to merit being copied . Now, this makes me feel better already. I just hope that I don't encounter another one of her ilk .......

It's time for tea and I need to stuff myself now with tarts and cookies to make me feel even better!

Sorry Sunday Outing Part 2

Posted by Lakshmi
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Oops! my part 2 has been long overdue but I have the perfect foolproof answer - my streamyx was down and just when I managed to get it started, my motherboard ( that's what the computer guy called it, not me) was damaged . As the saying goes, ' it doesn't rain but it pours'. It certainly did.. my microwave went kaput, my washing machine played me out and the computer part had to be replaced - all in a matter of 2 days. Sigh......

To continue where I left off, not many of the vibrant citizens of Shah Alam were aware of our expo and subsequently, Shikin and I had to be content with talking to each other. We walked about all over the interior of the stadium, looking for something to distract us from our languishing minds. Miss Boredom, with a capital B, was with us all the time. To escape, Shikin took to having her skin analysed at the booth set up by teenagers(!), for want of nothing else to do. I guess she didn't like what they said about her skin analysis, for she came back and went into a tirade about them. ......ha .. ha...


Time : 1.05pm
A speaker came on stage to talk about the Palestinian cause. Nothing unusual. The speech became lengthy and the lady speaker became overly emotional and aggressive in her presentation. It was now all fire and brimstone. A few parents with kids in tow left. The 4 big video screens displayed gory and violent scenes of decapitated heads and body parts. The acoustics system went into high pitch and children were starring wide eyed at the screen. In the midst of these going ons, a large group of children with donation boxes went around soliciting funds from the customers . Some of the parents left and the few who were browsing around listlesslly ,( Shikin and I included) felt distinctly uncomfortable. Just as we heaved a sigh of relief when the lady left, a second speaker, continued in the same vein with a rasping voice and this time, the interpreter joined in .

This was more than I could take. This certainly was not the appropriate venue nor forum and the targetted audience was ill prepared for this. I am all for humanity and have done my fair share of helping whenever I could . I still do. I don't look at colour or creed for aren't we all Children of God ?. However, using a bazaar on a lazy Sunday afternoon to expouse about war crimes with ghastly gory scenes in the midst of parents and children was certainly inappropriate from every angle, no matter how much one wants to justify it. I was very disappointed and decided to call it a day. Not that it mattered if I had stayed longer. No one was in the mood to buy anything anyway and the listless few who were drifting about were just fidgeting as I was. I had had no breakfast, I missed my morning cuppa , had a terrible driving episode, had to bear the pain of listening to a terribly upsetting speech, there was hardly any sales and plain hunger was gnawing at my stomach. This was not my idea of a relaxing Sunday at all. All in all, I learned another lesson in patience and more patience. Sigh, part of the learning curve thingy again... I guess....

Oh, I would like to share something funny before I sign off... the lady who was demonstrating how to cook 'briyani' rice kept on saying 'beras mati' instead of 'beras basmathi'. Have a great beras mati day on me.......!!!

My Sorry Sunday Outing

Posted by Lakshmi
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Yesterday was the Sunday for which I had prepared so assiduously , painting away till the wee hours of the morning fortifying myelf with lots of my favourite Nescafe 3 in 1 and waiting to make a grand sale on the appointed day. The organizers had, after all, called it the' Inspirasi Wanita Programme' and I was certainly feeling very inspirational ....

It started straightaway with the wrong foot. First, the inner road leading to the Melawati Stadium was barred for all motorists. Not knowing this, the Inspired One ( Shikin was following me from her car ) drove smack into it, then reversed back frantically . Three cars behind me were all doing the same. I sped off to find the other access road, which, I'm sure you've guessed, were also similarly blocked. It being also a 'pasar tani' day and a full three day sale going in full swing, we went round in circles, large large circles. Those uniformed looking guys perched on the metal barricades were as clueless as they looked. They had no idea as to the directions I should take when I approached them for assistance. It was a case of me speaking in French and they talking in Swahili . Each imbecil of an officer ( serve them right!) directed us in different directions to the stadium entrance road. This, inspite of me explaining to them that we had special stickers and tags to be allowed in) Fat lot of good it did!. We got stuck in long car queues, broke several traffic rules,( like crossing double lines and making U turns when you shouldn't!) , got honked by other motorists and drove over the limit. We made 3 circles all round the stadium and it was beginning to look like the 'so near yet so far ' kind of a serial drama episode. Shikin was all this while following me as fast she could keep up. Quite surprising indeed, that she didn't holler at me to stop with all the mad driving antics going on. She was in a pretty good frame of mind, I thought and I wasn't complaining!. To cut a long drama short, we finally ended up at the back entrance of the stadium..... Aiyo.. what a feeling (sing Irene Cara)


Looking at each other despairingly and muttering even more, we realised that we had to lug all our stuff ourselves about 100 feet to the stadium door and down 3 flights of steps before reaching our booth. We both had several large bags each and seeing Shikin floundering with hers, I helped her carry hers too. I made two trips up and down the confounded stairs and long corridors and ended up looking like a hunched Olive Oyl wilting with oversized bags on each hand....

And that was just the start of my Sorry Sunday Outing..... Got to end now and will hopefully resume later in the day. It's tea time and I simply must energise myself with a cup of you know what. A tip... try it with a slice or 2 of ginger and you will feel the oomph like I do...

MBSA Carnival

Posted by Lakshmi
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I've been busy busy painting away in preparation for the upcoming MBSA / Selangor carnival which will be held at the Stadium Melawati on 22 March 2009. A booth has been given to us to promote our craft . There'll be other handicrafts and items too. Tg Shikin and I will be at the booth which starts at 9.00am and ends at about 7pm. So, I am thus trying to paint smaller items which would be more affordable to the Shah Alam crowd!. Honestly, it's a pain in the neck when people complain that our painted work of art is expensive. Tell me, please, how can we manage to sell it any less when all the stuff needed is either from Australia or US ? Goodness, even the brushes are imported! Are we that lacking in technology that we cannot source good quality brushes and paint locally? Talk about our race to be an industrialised country by 2020..heart-breaking indeed. Creativity has no price tag and coupled with the time spent and the painstaking attention to details and strokes, I find it very hard ( and I'm sure other such artists do too) to sell them on the cheap. Often times, I rather not part with my treasured craft work at all. I do admit to admiring my handiwork myself! Ha ha!!!

Just to let readers know how terrribly pleased as punch I was when the shabby chic roses which I had painted and written about earlier - it was the cutlery box with a circle of shabby chic roses - was bought almost immediately even before I had finished painting it. The buyer was oh, so so impressed that after just one look, she took it home before I could say anything. I wish to record my sincere thanks and appreciation to my sifu, Aniza, whose guidance was really instrumental in helping me achieve this. Err, sorry , I forgot to upload the picture. Will do it ASAP ......

I really hope to see other like-minded folk art enthusiasts at our booth inside the Melawati Stadium - Booth No 10- on Sunday, 22 March 2009 . Hopefully,we'll have better luck at our sales this time. Goodnight.

My trip to Raub

Posted by Lakshmi
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It was Tuesday, 3rd March and I had the most wonderful time at a true blue durian orchard in Raub, Pahang . The only long distance drive I had done was to Kajang and that to because of my art class. Imagine my excitement when I actually went to Raub, which is in Pahang. I was practically bubbling all the way. No, I didn't drive. I was driven!. By a Puan Sri, no less!



Puan Sri Sharifah Sabrina. and she is not your conventional Puan Sri, let me tell you.. You name it, she's been there and done it. From white-water rafting, mountain climbing , jungle trekking, four-wheel drive treasure hunting,( she drives the 4WD) tae-kwan-do black belt holder,aerobics instructor and trainer.... I've no idea what else she does. But I do know that she even learnt how to drive a van and a bus and has a license to prove it. Oh, did I forget to mention that she's an excellent baker and cook? In fact, I actually came to like assam laksa ( which I had previously banned it from my menu as it smelled so fishy) and also how to make a delicious one, from her. She's presently training to climb Mt Kinabalu soon....



It was an hour's journey from Shah Alam and the six of us, namely,Datin Zaleha Samsuddin, Futom Ibahim , Maggi Ehsan, P S Sabrina , Mary Heng and yours truly ( Ha, I just realised that we are a muhibbah bunch ) were in high spirits. It was a pot-luck affair and we arrived at her orchard around 1pm. Dislodging our food there, we got into her 4WD and it was off to a bumpy ride uphill through sharp corners and winding dirt path, complete with deep ravines shouldering the path. I heard someone mention that the other farm owners ( all males) refer to her as the 'Tigress of Raub' as she is often seen driving her orange and black striped 4WD up and down the bumpy roads of the orchard . P S was taking us to the stream which was located a kilometer away from the orchard proper. Futom was beginning to sweat in fear and Datin Zaleha was closing her eyes in prayers. Mary Heng was quite safely lodged in the luggage compartment- thanks to her small frame!- Maggie was bobbing up and down . P S Sabrina was the fearless driver and I was the excited babbling one.



On the way, P S Sabrina drove up an even steeper and curving hill to show us an exclusive private holiday home run by a Mr Felix. Called 'Casabrina', it was a one of a kind resort styled home which also offers you your own butler and cook . Only four units are available and it caters mostly to the wealthy Arabs and the rich and famous kind. Certainly not for the hoi polloi. Each 4 roomed cluster unit is fitted with the latest wi-fi internet access and state-of -the art fittings , an eternity swimming pool (don't know why it called that!) and a outdoor glasss pane-see -the sky- and- the garden- luxury bathroom . It is an ' open concept' styled with a scandinavian theme with wide french windows looking out to beautiful green hills and valley. As it is located up the hill, the view is stunning, to say the least. As only one vehicle can go up at any one time - the road width is such -and no other vehicle can drive down at the same time, privacy is assured for the bathroom user!. The tag? US 2000.00 per night, excluding food. Be my guest.

Back to the orchard. It had a beautiful running stream with clear water gushing down big boulders. It felt cold but a few splashes later, we were all screaming and frolicking in the cool clear water. Rubbing the fine sand and using it as a scrub, soon we looked like we had been to a spa. After a good hour in the stream, we drove back to the orchard proper, feeling hungry. A beautiful kampung styled wooden house greeted us. It was like I was in a holiday resort. complete with a cobbled path leading to it. I took in great gulps of pristine fresh air, unpolluted by the dust and pollution of the city slickers. And the space! I mean, it was ' good to touch the green green grass of home' like ,free of obtrusions and obstructions. Just one kampung styled house ( a beautiful one at that) in the middle of an orchard deep in Raub. How about that?

No one spoke during lunch as we were busy stuffing ourselves as fast as we could. Hunger does brings out the worst in us! The durians tasted heavenly although I could not each much. I'm not a conventional durian enthusiast and the significance of a durian feast was lost on me. I did, however, learned to eat it together with 'pulut and santan' . This tip was courtesy of P S Sabrina herself. It did taste very good but it was a tad too filling . I was practically groaning all the way to the car parked 20 feet away. By then it was almost 4pm when we dragged ourselves to the car . On the way, against our better judgement, we stopped at the famous Bentong ice-kachang shop and filled ourselves silly with the sweet liquid. Needless to say, I couldn't get up from the chair at all and had to be hoisted up!

My sincere and heartful thanks to Puan Sri Sabrina for her generosity and kindness . I admire her zest for life and her willingness to live her life to the fullest as she sees it. I, on the other hand, must start to learn how to ride a bicycle......

Last update for February

Posted by Lakshmi
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Time flies, doesn't it? Within a blink. I've managed to upload some of my art works with the help of my daughter and am getting better in the computer department.

Last week I attended class with Ms Anisa, the ' Talented One.' She's simply the best, like the Tina Turner's catchy lyrics. I simply admire her handiwork and am always in awe of her talent. If you think my work is good (it is, isn't it?) her's is undoubtedly the best, as far as I am concerned. Sigh......I'm still working on mine. Anyway, it did boost my morale tremendously when I tried my hand on the shabby chic roses and the ' Talented One' said that my roses have become chic and not just shabby! How about that huh? In fact, I was quite surprised myself too. Hopefully I'll be able to upload it soon for all to see and swoon ( wink, wink!)

I finally took home the shelf that I bought some time ago and have actually finished painting dainty roses. I'm as pleased as punch right now. I've finally ' arrived', me thinks. I'm waiting for the magic word to come from the horse's mouth aka ' the Talented One' herself. And then, I'm going to party till kingdom comes!

Today, my friend, Ms Zaleha of Banting, paid me a visit. I had requested her to display some of my painted works at her ' Darmo Cottage, Home Decor & Gift Shop 'and she had graciously accepted my request. This is the start of our continued and blossoming friendship and I sincerely thank God for this.

That's all for now I guess. I'm dozing off over the keyboard as I type...

Craft Carnival at Shah Alam

Posted by Lakshmi
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At 7.30am I set off to meet Shikin and both of us made our way to Section 7 where the MBSA was having a craft carnival. As this was my first public affair, I was truly looking forward to it, although Shikin had warned me not to expect too much. In plainspeak, she was telling me not to expect a fantastic crowd with fantastic sales. We were given a long table and put up our painted items There were also other crafters who specialised in making costume jewellery, flower ribbons, interior decorating with flowers and basket weaving using rolled magazine papers. The crowd numbering about a 100 or so trickled in slowly. We were consigned under the Folk Art category. After the Mayor had officiated the opening of the craft carnival by initialling on the plaque, ( which was painted by yours truly and which picture is shown here), we then introduced the craft to the mostly ladies' crowd. After a short and simple explanation, Shikin then conducted a demonstration on painting a rose. There were many 'oohs and ahs' and comments of ' oh, how beautiful'. And that was all it translated to!. The polite enquiries and murmurs did not translate into sales. I was quite disappointed but having been forewarned by Shikin, I took this experience as part of my learning curve. The only item which kept on moving was my calling card. I gave it to each and everyone who visited our booth . Hopefully they will come - a - calling to my home soon.

Shikin had painted some roses on T Shirts and had also brought a painted waste-paper container among some of her items. One of her friend's daughter bought one and Datin Noraini, the Organizing Committee Chairperson , bought the other. At least someone made a sale! I was really happy for her as she had come all the way from Kajang and she was the one who was instrumental in me being involved in this carnival. On the bright side, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to a wider audience of ladies present and was also able to showcase my painted items to the public myself. It was also a 'first' for my daughter, Chelam who had to skip her college day to accompany me to this outing. It was really sweet of her, for not only was it a very very hot day, she didn't put the grumbling switch on! ( which was normally on automatic mode) But kids being kids. she made me pay her for her time spent!. Aiyo!, how to save like this?

If nothing else, today's event was an eye-opener of sorts to me. Being an artist and painting in the cosy confines of my home. I was not aware of the drudgery and fortitude involved in selling the crafted items to the public at large. Or maybe, I should have opted for craft sales held at bazaars in Kuala Lumpur. I can't at the moment, envisage myself sitting behind a booth and waiting for customers the whole day. I have never done it and I'm not about to start it now either. It would be a tremendous waste of my precious time and more importantly, I'd be bored to death. I'm a Gemini and I can't sit still waiting for customers. I just have to think of some other interesting way to pay for my paints and stuff without declaring myself bankrupt to my husband!

February rumblings

Posted by Lakshmi
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What can I say for my lapse in writing... hmm. Where do I start, I wonder. I have so much in my head to write about and too little time to sit and write down my thoughts. A lot more in the discipline department is needed I guess. As I see it, albeit very very reluctantly, I get carried away once I start but can't seem to carry the momentum daily or even weekly. I really need help..............

I'm a novice in the blogosphere but an avid reader cum browser. There are so many things that I want to say and do at the same time that it sometimes frightens me when I don't do it. It's like racing against time. I look at the sufferings all around the world and it frightens me yet it makes me realise how much happiness God has bestowed upon me - to have a family, a beautiful home and good friends to share in your happiness. Dear God, I forgot to mention thanks for the creativity you have given me although it took me 40 years to realise it!

My art classes come and go according to the whims and fancies of my students. Sometimes all of them come together like they have been synchronised like precision Swiss clockwork and sometimes they don't come at all - like they have vanished like the 12 Dancing Princesses! Most times, I use the latter time to catch up on my unfinished painting as it is quite stressful not knowing they will turn up suddenly. So, the best thing I did was to cancell one of my class days . My classes are now on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Hopefully, this won't stress me again.

I have put up some of the many paintings I have done. Yes, finally. I do think they are quite beautiful. Oops! if I'm going to admire them myself, I'll be labelled 'self praising' ! but seriously, I'm quite quite , if not, very happy with my handiwork. Any comments ?.....

The latest one I have painted is for the MBSA carnival to be held on 21 February at Section 7, Shah Alam. Much thanks to Tengku Shikin , we both will be at Section 7 Community Centre at Jalan 7/15 this Saturday morning around 8am. Datin Noraini (of MBSA Corporate Division who is the organizer of this event) has very kindly given us this opportunity to showcase our (considerable !) talents to the public. The primary purpose of this event is to identify single parent/mothers and teach them a craft of their choice. There will be several handicraft booths open and participants and would be students of craft can register themselves . Underpriviledged and single parent's fees will be subsidised by MBSA . I think this is a great opportunity for everyone to come and learn what this is all about . Even if you do not, a day out in the carnival will help rejuvenate our old long ago forgottten skills. The funny thing is, crafts like knitting, crochetting, tatting, lace making, bead making and other such skills were taught in school. I don't suppose they teach these anymore now. With everyone trying to earn an extra income in these trying times, schools should roll back on the old system again, complete with the teaching skills , don't you think so too?

My horizon of friends and acquaintances is ever increasing and I do so enjoy their company. Everyone has something to share, be it their ideas, experiences ,skills or advice and it makes me realise that the world is still a wonderful place to live. Through their eyes , I have absorbed , gained painful yet poignant insights and learned to value and appreciate the life I have now. Trust me when I say life is indeed a journey of self-discovery. However, whether it is eventful, painful ,cheerful or plain boring depends on the path taken. I have consciously opted to travel on the cheerful and grateful path and I have no regrets.