Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Fusili with Seafood & Vegetables

1. Sauté chopped carrots, celery and French beans in garlic olive oil until soft without overcooking.

2. Add sliced cuttlefish and peeled shrimp. Remember not to overcook to prevent rubbery seafood texture. 

3. Mix thoroughly with boiled and drained fusili. 

Option: Drizzle some olive oil and shake some freshly ground peppercorn, to taste. Best eaten warm, fresh off the wok.

Bon appetit!

The basic formula is 1 pasta + 1 protein + 1 vegetable. Feel free to mix and match your ingredients and experiment.

P/S: The Big School resumed today, hence this easy peasy recipe comeback, as you may have already guessed.
Monday, 23 February 2015

Gratitude: He Knows Best

Surah At-Takathur, Ayat 1 of The Holy Quran States that," The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldy things diverts you."

My file at my beloved NatOilCo has been closed after 60 months. It feels like closure in a comfortable sense. Syukur alhamdulillah

An attractive offer for partnership at a new law firm has been duly considered and declined. Thank you for the generous offer, my soul sister. It is perhaps not my rezeki just yet, as I truly practice 100% commitment when it comes to legal practice. Syukur alhamdulillah

A few family-related investment decisions that adversely affected me indirectly has reached a stage of my redha as to His Blessings. Once the thorns of envy and greed were removed through His assuring words in the Al-Quran, love and light followed. May better blessings come our way, Amin

He Knows Best, indeed. He Listens and He Answers. Sure, there were challenges and tests along the way but ultimately He has placed me in His perfect spot to serve His Purpose. Having the confidence to solely rely on Him is my lesson to learn. It took me a few painful tumbles at first but I am beginning to fully appreciate the reasons behind His Will, and He had sent me appreciation of the above quoted Surah to constantly remind myself. 

Surah At-Takathur, Ayat 5 of The Holy  Quran further states that, "Nay! If you knew with a sure knowledge (the end result of piling up, you would not have occupied yourselves in worldy things)."

I can now focus on my current portfolio and do my best without much distractions. I am happy with what is my plate, neither craving for more nor rejecting any excess on my plate. Continued professional education courses calendar for the year has been finalised too, and I am starting to reserve suitable subjects to explore for this year. Syukur alhamdulillah for personal and professional growth.

As usual, I am truly grateful for being able to work from home and have the flexibility to care for my family (young, not so young and young-at-heart all inclusive). Syukur alhamdulillah.

The highlight worth noting is the recent uplifting of depressing fog that hovered over me. It was a painful purge but the outcome is so worthy of the temporal inconvenience. Syukur alhamdulillah.

I did promise myself to be more positive this year and those baby steps are coming along. I am truly grateful for His Hidayah without which this peace in my heart would have been impossible. Syukur alhamdulillah.

Here is wishing you a happy and prosperous year, my lovelies. Also, welcome back to another fresh start, Yee Sang tosses and lion dances!

P/S: Please feel free to correct my quotation if tafseer is wrong. I am eager to learn. Thank you!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Gratitude: Garden

With such beautiful blooms in the garden at The House, we would not even complain about the 38C heat with 80% humidity. He sends us hardship, but ease comes with it too, SubhanAllah. His Greatness and Perfection in Creation is truly humbling.

Have a blessed CNY and holiday, my lovelies! Safe journey home and may you feel recharged to take on the world soon, in Sha Allah!

Easy Peasy Recipe: Pesto Sauce

We have been making our own pesto sauce for years. It is easy to prepare, stores fresh for a week in the fridge, versatile as pasta sauce or toast spread and good source of nutrients.

Personally, I love pesto sauce as an alternative to bolognese and carbonara. It is the green that attracts me! I am lucky that my family also welcomes this dish at our dinner rotation.

Occasionally, we cannot get our hands on fresh spinach so frozen spinach it is. We have also had fresh coriander, parsley, basil and kale. All deep green, and absolutely tasty. 

I would also add a dash of lemon juice, handful of grated parmesan cheese, sprig of fresh basil and some toasted pine nuts with extra virgin oil then blend until a creamy, thick and green sauce appears. The trick is to slowly add the extra virgin olive oil to obtain the right purée consistently. 

All that is left to do for a quick and easy meal is to grill some chicken breasts marinated in olive oil, dash of sea salt and pepper. Mix the pesto sauce thoroughly into boiled and drained fettuccine - et voilà

Fettuccine with pesto nest garnished with fresh basil tips, sliced grilled chicken on the side is our usual plating style. (I should be more disciplined with food shots before they are eaten!).
How do you prepare your signature pesto sauce? How do you serve them? Please do share!

Bon appetit!

Update as of 15.10.15:
JC made this, using this recipe. So proud of her!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Gratitude: Birthday Budget

Today I am grateful for awesome PIL who let me choose my own birthday presents. 
They had been busy and grounded at The House due to a bathroom remodelling recently and going to shop for my "complicated" taste naturally had to be shelved. They got me a lovely card and a budget on top of a sumptuous lunch at B.Bap!

I love budgets! It gives me a free hand to choose what I really need, which is a win-win! Got my Dior Skincare replenished today. I am one happy DIL/wife/mum.

Dior Skincare and I have a long history. The first time I owned anything from its cosmetics and skincare range was an eyebrow pencil and shaper in dark brown. It came with its own sharpener and the even the metallic blue shavings were pretty in their own right. I was still reading law in my undergraduate years and that was probably the most luxurious eye brow pencil I had. Now, the brow pencil is a twist without having to sharpen and styler brush is capped neatly. Innovation.

The violet mascara, oh how I loved how they perked up my post-LASIK peepers back in 2001! I had hidden behind thick glasses for about 14 years before so can you just imagine my excitement then and now?

Over the years, I added sunblock, lipstick, tinted lip balm but the turning point was when I left Clinique and SKII for Dior after pregnancy hormones whacked my skin. Broken sleep to breastfeed started showing on my face, inevitably. Ageing gracefully, yes?

Thanks to Dior, my skin has survived 5 years without facial! The secrets are no secret: drink lots of water and try to sleep as sufficiently as possible. I love fruits and vegetables, I believe this grazing habit helps with my skin too. Regiment of sleeping only with clean and hydrated skin is the bottom line.

When The Little Girl was a toddler, she used to watch BabyTV while I "put my face on". That is code phrase for wash, tone, serum, moisturiser sunblock, powder, eyebrow pencil and lip balm. 

She would occasionally leave the TV to come and peep at me getting ready and willingly let me rub some of her sunblock onto her cheeks. Sweet memories now when I reminisce. The hairdryer would occasionally be directed at her duck tails which guaranteed chuckles as she got ready to escape the ticklish sensation.

"Take my face off" still means eye makeup removal, wash, tone, serum and night cream/midnight recovery oil in our household. The Other Half knows to keep the children at bay, good on him!

Despite that, when I put my face on before going out or take it off in the evening, I can hear pitter patter feet coming my way and I would try to finish up as fast as I can so that I can lift Bean up to kiss his cheeks and squeeze a happy smile from him. Sometimes I forget my face cream after being interrupted *gasp* 

I believe these skincare memories are worth noting down. I can live happily with good skin and happy children who see their mum trying to take good care of herself. Whilst I can never get back my baby smooth skin, I can try taking good care of what I still have.

My personal strive is to work on my inner beauty. The light/Nur one derives from a beautiful soul and face already washed with ablution is best. May Allah Grant me His Light, Amin!

To my ever kind PIL, thank you. I love the birthday presents! I love you both! JazakAllah khairan for another year. 

Blessed Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year and happy holidays, my lovelies!

We would like to wish you safe journeys and joyous reunion. May your year be filled with health, wealth and abundance of His blessings.

P/S: Bean turns 20 months, alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Al-Fatihah, Mama

Today, I miss my Mama more than ever. 

In fact, as I turn a year older every year, I think of her sacrifices and how challenging her life and journey must have been. Just so that I get a better chance at mine. Love is a wonderful feeling because it keeps going long after she has returned to Him. 

I miss you, Mama. Al-Fatihah. May Allah swt forgive all your sins, accept all your good deeds and place you amongst the best of His Believers. Amin!

Note: My late Mama was not a Muslimah,  but I offer her supplications and Al-Fatihah anyways because of my belief in Allah swt as the One and Only God. To Him, she returned, and none other.
Monday, 16 February 2015

Gratitude: Retail Therapy

I rest my case.

I do not always get "me-time" to shop brick and mortar so I quite often desperately resort to shopping online when breastfeeding and putting Bean to sleep.

Today was an exception. An excellent pre-birthday gift of time. Something to be really grateful for, and worthy of a post.

The Other Half and The Kids went about playing with toys on display at Hamley's and ToysRUs earlier today at One Utama to allow me some time to hunt for some much needed wardrobe replenishing key items and age defying skincare. 

I was in a bubble of peace and quiet where I could hear myself think. Where I could pick, shortlist, fit on and select pieces to bring to the cashier without chatter clutter and purchase boo boos due to diaper distractions. What a luxury!

However, my age defying skincare mission failed. The Dior skincare counter at Isetan One Utama had shut. I guess it will be Isetan KLCC as usual for me then. 

In that short time at One Utama, I managed to score 2 scarves at 70% discount, a pair of slacks and top at special discount from M&S, and 3 blouses from Isetan (mostly vouchers redemption and cash payment was under RM50!). Excited and anticipating good wear out of those pieces especially for my upcoming birthday and Chinese New Year. 

Self-restraint was quickly put in place as I admired some heels and digitally printed purses at Aldo *pats self on back for not buying wardrobe white elephants*

Ended the retail therapy by checking out and paying for my loot at Poplook close to midnight. Especially love how all the long sleeved blouses are fully lined and shariah-compliant. Shame to me for missing out on the recent sale for pondering too long though. Oh well, win some lose some. It evens out, right?

Alhamdulillah! What an awesome way to end my 38th. It had been a challenging year but I am now optimistic to make my 39th more meaningful. May Allah swt increase and bless me with health, wealth and guidance. Amin!
Saturday, 14 February 2015

Gratitude: Soul Sisters

Today I am thankful for the soul sisters I have. 

One of them reminded me of an important lesson at impeccable timing. "God removes certain people from your life because they are toxic for you. Do not chase after them."

So soothing. I feel so liberated! Love is indeed in the air and I feel my heart start to heal from recent cuts and bruises. JazakAllah khairan. 
Thursday, 12 February 2015

Welcome Home, Bosch Washer!

The replacement washer arrived today at 1.45 pm. Alhamdulillah! TBM has outdone themselves again and we are really pleased with their service. They promised delivery between 2-5pm and by a slightly early delivery, we were free to carry on with the rest of our busy day. 

For a good deal of RM2717, we got ourselves a Bosch Aventixx Vario Perfect 8kg front load washer inclusive of extended warranty, free delivery and installation with free disposal of our spoiled Ariston 2-in-1 washer/dryer that often sounded like a jet was about to take off during every spin cycle. The circuit board must have broken down because it stopped working half way through a regular cycle and had The Other Half fuming from having to wait until a fresh reboot cycle complete way past his bedtime. This is not the first occurrence and our patience has really been tested.

It was a Miele or Bosch washer replacement model debate for a few hours. Our Ariston had been furnished with The Flat so we really did not have a choice for 3+ years. To be fair, it served us the best it could during its tenure but there was no "love". It was utilitarian at best.

The Miele did not get our consumer ringgit this time as the Bosch is simply more easy to purchase at our familiar electronic and electrical store for a reasonably good deal. The Miele is designed to last forever but knowing how brutal I can be with laundry, we figured a Bosch would suffice, at a fraction of the cost of Miele. 

The Other Half and I are both quite glad this replacement phase is happening before the GST kicks in. So glad are we there is no more Boeing jet noise pollution/waking everyone up at spin cycle, knowing exactly how much time a preset wash program would take, silent operation by default, eco friendly options at finger tips, less liquid detergent/softener requirement, washable/removable detergent tray to prevent scum, serviceable filter with front easy access and bigger stainless steel drum. I have yet to discover its other great features as it has only been a day of use (about 5 loads of backlog laundry). Yes, we are in love with this washer. 

We also learnt of a few new facts from this purchase. TBM had collected and sent our spoiled Ariston to their workshop to assess the damage. If it is not too costly to repair, they will carry out the repair at no cost to us then donate the as good as new washer/dryer to a charitable cause. Bravo, TBM! However, in the event the electrician finds the unit to be beyond repair, it will be sent for recycling where salvagable parts will be taken out and the rest sold for a song. We guess our former Electrolux dryer is serving someone somewhere after being repaired. Nothing goes to waste so all is good.

So. Why didn't we repair our appliances instead of buying? 

Down time. We find it tough to manage our laundry during service. Our current appliances are conveniently just outside of warranty period (2 years being the norm) so the cost of service  is ghastly too. If you have a growing family with loads to wash on daily basis, you'd commiserate with me. 

So here is a welcome post to my new washer. Bismillah hirrahmahnirrahim and may this washer serve us well for years to come. Amin!


I simply must confess I love how my time is being used during long hours being stuck in slow moving traffic has improved. It took me awhile to tweak my airwaves preferences as I have been quite out of touch with radio broadcast in the last 5 years.

Two of my current favourite channels are BFM, and IKIM. The former feeds my mind and the latter feeds my soul. It has saved me quite a lot of time as the news updates are clear and frequent on BFM. I especially enjoy interviews with SME leaders and lesser known key managers of lower volume counters with good fundamentals worth looking at. 

On the other hand, I do hope IKIM will improve on its recording sound quality as most recorded interviews are too soft and slightly less crisp (compared to its live broadcasts) which makes following the interviews and recorded shows a tad trickier. 

The wild card channel for me is Capital. The 1-2 pm is relaxing but I have to be careful as the drone can lull me to sleep!

What are you listening to during commute time? Soundcloud? Podcasts? Please do share!
Sunday, 8 February 2015

Snippets: Surah An-Nas

"Say: Truly, my prayer and my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds." Surah Al-Annam Ayat 162 of The Holy Quran.

The Little Girl was being tucked into bed and after reciting our shahadah, Surah Al-Fatihah and Surah Al-Ikhlas, I started introducing her to Surah An-Nas. 

Just a short recitation, with short tafseer of the word King aka Malik. She could relate to this as she started to digress to her favourite topic of princesses. She also knows examples of Jin from The Blue Genie in Aladdin. Very Disney, and slightly veered off course, so I had to find another angle. 

From her facial expression, I could tell she was getting nervous about having to memorise another Surah so I promised her that this is even shorter than Al-Fatihah, which she can recite sweetly. Sure, we both need to improve on tajweed! 

"Mummy, I cannot do it. I don't think I need to pray yet, I am not 7 yet."

Oh, how my heart ached and my patience quotient rose sky high upon hearing this! She articulated every fear I have about long and complicated Solat. I fear failing as a Muslim mum! The next 2 years are vital in terms of preparation! 

But SubhanAllah my prayers were immediately answered. I found a post that reassures and guides me as how to guide my little Amanah slowly but surely.

If you are interested, or face similar challenge, do look this up:

SubhanAllah! Such a timely find. I will try to link it properly when I have access to the laptop.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Gratitude: Hope, Love, Faith

One of the social responsibility projects the elder students at The Big School recently undertook was to help clean up.

Not just ordinary clean up. Post-flood massive clean up project. This takes the prize compared to all the donation and items they have raised within limited time.

I nearly cried just looking at photos of what they have achieved in just a short span of time. SubhanAllah! 

Their social responsibility long-term projects are far-reaching, consistent and the shelters that they have adopted are important, significant and impactful. All these humanitarian and humility values are so moving. Grounding and moulding them from young to do good, give and contribute, SubhanAllah!

May Allah swt keep them all in His Protection, Mercy and Love, Amin!

Snippets: Grapheme W

We were driving past a billboard with address of a website and The Little Girl called out "Group 5 British sound, Jolly Phonics for "w" three times dot [name of company] dot com"

It took me a few seconds to process and understand what she said that day. Luckily I did so in time because the drive that day was soon filled with Q&A about physical servers, cloud computing, virtual world, social media etc. 

The topics her questions lead to are random and I must admit, I have taken for granted! Here's to brushing up my general knowledge. Big time.
Thursday, 5 February 2015

Snippets: Road Signs

We have had some interesting chitter-chatter of late, some being more notable than others.

Now that The Little Girl can read and pronounce Malay words (with her own phonics-infused slang), car rides are quite interesting whenever she calls out names of places when she reads road signs along the route we commute on.

"Johor Bahru!"
"Shah Alam!"

Then she nonchalantly asked,"When are we going on those staycations again?".

She is right! Hampshire Mummy sure could use a holiday, in sha Allah, someday soon when the rezeki arrives.

As for now, a-schooling we go!