Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 in Review

On January 9th, this year, we were on our way home from Malaysia back to California. Denice, Duncan and I had spent 3 months in Miri with my parents. Doug had dropped us off in Malaysia in October the previous year and came again in January to fetch us home. Towards the end of the month, both kids kept saying they wanted to go back home to California. It wasn't just the kids, I too thought it was time to go home to California.

One of the things I discovered during that stay in Malaysia, yes I was home, home with my parents and my siblings, but at the same time, it was not quite home anymore. When I got married and left my family I set out to make a new home with my husband and indeed we had slowly built a home to call our own. Our very own home, and two kids to fill that home with us.

The kids went back to school after staying home for a week after our return from Malaysia. They were not quite over their jet lag, but they needed to return to routine and structure.

In March and April, I spent too much time watching American Idol! :-) On St. Patrick's Day (March 17) we invited our good friends, Kathy and Richard for corned beef dinner. They had Doug over for dinner many times while I was in Malaysia. :-)

Corned beef cooked in guiness stout.

Richard and Kathy Carr

In mid April, my good friend, Esther, came to visit us. Her visit coincided with our planned trip to Arkansas, and we bought tickets for her so she could join us. We met at the airport in Phoenix, Arizona and then we flew on to Arkansas. We had a good time visiting Little Rock, Dardenelle and Russellville. The main purposes of the visit to Arkansas were to visit Doug's relatives, and to visit his 40 acres which he inherited from his mother.

My friend, Esther, Duncan and I at the Dardenelle dam in Arkansas

Other highlights in April were Doug celebrated his 51st birthday in April and we had a little barbecue with a few friends. We also took the kids out to fly kites on Kite Day here in Galt.

Duncan flying his kite on Kite Day

In May, I spent too much time watching American Idol and blogging about it! :-) Denice celebrated her 4th birthday on 21 May. On May 31, the eve of Gawai, Doug and I toasted each other with tuak which I had brought back from Miri. :-)

In June, we enjoyed the fruits of our gardening effort, or more accurately Doug's gardening efforts! We had fenced off the front porch area to keep the geese out and there was enough space in the front for some gardening. We had squash, tomatoes, corn, radish, water melon, cantaloupe, and the fruit from our fruit trees like plum, and pears.

Plums from our backyard

In July, I succumbed to the lure of income made from Google Ads placed on my blog and the lure of income made from writing paid posts. I have not quite made a $100 from Google, but I have definitely made more than $1K from writing paid posts. :-) Duncan celebrated his 4th birthday on July 20th. We continued to enjoy the fruits of our gardening effort. We had more cantaloupe and tomatoes than we could eat.

Duncan celebrated his birthday with his school friends

On August 8th, Doug and I celebrated our eighth anniversary. Has it really been eight years? I also celebrated 2 years of blogging in August. August was also the harvesting season for the water melon that we planted in June. We had more than we could eat!

Denice simply loves water melon

The highlight of September was our trip to Nipomo/Los Osos which included an afternoon of target shooting.

Duncan got into trouble in October at school for bringing two empty cartridges. They were empty cartridges he collected from our target shooting. :-)

We had some work done to our yard in preparation for growing grass. We were not able to do the sowing in the fall because by the time all the sprinkler heads were installed it was a little late in the season for sowing grass seeds. We'll have to wait for early spring.

Our backyard

October was my busiest month for blogging. I wrote 101 posts on Puteri's Musings ( alone! Heheh, half of those posts were paid posts! But I paid dearly for writing paid posts. I totally lost my Page Rank 3 ranking on that blog. :-(

The kids had fun on Halloween night. Duncan got to ride a pony, and both kids rode on the Tea Cup carousel at our Church's Harvest Festival. It was Halloween but our Church called it Harvest Festival.

All set and ready to go to the Harvest Carnival

My in-laws came to spend Thanksgiving with us in November, and I roasted turkey using Jamie Oliver's recipe. Muaaahh! It came out perfect!

No woman could have asked for better in-laws!

In December, the day before my birthday, I decided to do a blood glucose reading an hour after dinner. The reading showed 211 mg/dl. A person with normal blood glucose would have a reading of under 160 mg/dl. That reading spooked me and I decided to take drastic action where my diet was concerned.

On Dec 27th during a visit to my doctor, my doctor diagnosed me as pre-diabetic. Along with my new diet, I am taking herbal supplements and drinking teas that are supposed to have sugar lowering properties. :-)

With regards to my parents in Malaysia, I am happy to note that my father is managing his diabetes well, and that his problem with hypertension seemed to have completely gone. He had been taking hypertension medication since his late 30s and since his diabetes related illness, and hospitalization in December last year, his blood pressure seemed to have normalized.

We took the kids to visit the home of a quilting friend who passed away in March. Her home had always been a big attraction at Christmas time with all the colorful Christmas lights and decorations. I was happy to see her family carry on the tradition, and her absence was keenly felt this year.

Christmas decorations at the late Judy Sassman's home

One of the biggest highlights of the year, is the new friendships I have made through blogging. Blogging has become more than about sharing your thoughts, your life, or your rants, but it has become an enjoyable past time with the renewing of old friendships and the making of new ones.

I hope the new year brings all of you, my dear friends, prosperity, good health, and much to write about on your blogs! :-)

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Greetings

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lust, Caution: Two reviews

I think Ang Lee is a very talented director. I just heard of his latest movie called Lust, Caution from U. Lee. The movie has a NC-17 rating because of sexually explicit content.

The following reviewer gave the movie a 4 star rating. The review, or should I say impression of the movie, immediately after this, is by none other than our friend, U.Lee, story teller extra-ordinaire.

Tell me if you do not want to rush off to the next theater where the movie is showing to watch it for yourself? I am sorry for Zawi, because he will never be able to get the movie uncensored in Malaysia unless of course, he manages to get hold of a bootleg version! :-)

By COLIN COVERT - Minneapolis Star Tribune

The locales for Ang Lee’s stately, sublime “Lust, Caution” are World War II Shanghai and Hong Kong, but its roots are as much in Hitchcock as in Chinese history. Set in affluent, Westernized districts with cafes, cinemas and European fashions that recall wartime London or Paris, it begins as the kind of elegant spy romance that could have starred Ingrid Bergman.

A simmering tension builds as a spy (the exquisite Tang Wei) weaves a seductive web to trap a powerful collaborator (cool, calculating Tony Leung). Then, when we’ve been lulled by its refined tone and languid pace, Lee pulls the rug out from under us with brutal, bloody murder and ferocious scenes of explicit sadomasochistic sex. Even more surprisingly, Lee handles those lurid sequences with impeccable artistic integrity. Like the martial arts battles in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” they are essential to our understanding of the characters.

Tang makes a stunning debut as Wang Chia Chi, an actress whose patriotic student troupe moves its opposition to the Japanese occupation off the stage and into real life. They make an assassination target of the Chinese collaborationist government’s spy chief, Mr. Yee (Leung, a George Clooney-size superstar in Asia).

Acting the part of a wealthy merchant’s wife, Wang enters Mrs. Yee’s social circle, where gossip about official power plays and trade blockades circulates during afternoons of shopping and mah-jongg. When Yee drops by the parlor to pay his respects, Wang begins to turn his head. She pursues Yee, who trusts no one, on and off for three years. In the meantime, she witnesses the student actors blundering their way through a horrific killing that tests her convictions. When she finally meets Yee in a barren love nest, he lashes her with his belt as if he were brutalizing a suspect. Are her gasps and post-coital smile genuine or part of a performance? He can’t tell; nor can we, nor possibly she.

Their physical intimacy acts as a catalyst toward love, while patriotism, ideology and morality become irrelevant. Yee repeatedly slips away from his bodyguards, exposing himself to danger to be alone with her. Wang confesses to the menacing Communist agent who becomes her controller that while she yearns for Yee’s death, he has wormed his way into her heart. We are left to decide who is more cruel to Wang: Yee, a traitor whose savage lovemaking is shot through with moments of tenderness, or the resistance fighters who pushed her into his arms.

The following review is written in Manglish, so begging your pardon if you are a non-Manglish speaker.

By U.Lee - [A]nyway, my wife dragged me to go see Ang Lee's latest, 'Love and lust' or something saying I will like it as a war drama. My foot! War drama?

Both of us even brought along an unmarried friend, not sure she still virgin or not, but HOLY SMOKE!

Puteri...I am not one easily shocked if a woman strips naked in front of me, or whatever, unless Zawi's sarong accidentally drops...but this movie... where got war? There were about 6 sex scenes, each about 15 minutes long, and I tell you, Tony Leung and that new Chinese actress must both have a 4th Dan Black belt in sexual positions whatever and drank Tongkat Ali past 58 days before this movie...and Puteri, NO HOLLYWOOD MOVIE can beat this movie, believe you me.

They were actually going into it like the charge of the light brigade, take no prisoners! You name it, you see it, they did it, what with the sensurround sounds to add Hyenas about to buka puasa.

HOLY SMOKE Puteri...and me now presently behaving like about to do my thesis for a Bangkok Monastry in chantings...they were having sex in every which way. Can see ahemmm, everything, and I mean including the kitchen sink!

I tell you, that fellow whats his name, ahhh yes, Incik Hugh Hefner...he would have raised both eyebrows among other things. Makes what we see on Channel 29 here at 10pm look like young girls and boys playing doctor.

Puteri...that virgin, ahhh I mean that young lady friend sitting beside me...aiyohhh, saya pun malu la, I was like a new kampong bride on honeymoon night, shy she watched both her eyes buka so big like seeing ghosts at 3am, arhaaaa ha ha.

Had to apologise to her, blame my wife, "aiyaaaa, see la! War movie"?? The virgin, I mean SYT laughed and giggled, "hey uncle, good movie, that". Huh? Ha ha ha.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cover Girl

In case you missed it, I was on the cover of Sports Illustrated's November 2007 issue. I'm sure you'll still be able to get a hold of the November issue if you call their circulation department. I was told that that issue was one of the more popular issues in the past year.

The main feature of that issue was women and guns. I tell you there were more beautiful and sexier models that Sports Illustrated could have used for their cover but instead they chose me. They wanted to write stories of real women and their guns. That means real women come in all shapes and sizes, and that also means not all possess magazine cover looks.

Lucky for me because how else would I have been able to make it to a magazine cover? You know what, I think they could have done a better job with air brushing my face. My eye bags shouldn't even be visible! You know what I mean? Well, I should be thankful they chose sepia instead of full color for the cover! :-)

What? You want to be on the cover of a magazine too? Ok, I'll tell you how you can. Heheh, go to and you can be on the cover of a magazine too! Hehehe.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bra for Lee's New Year's Eve Party

There's one other item of clothing I thought I'd like to wear to the New Year's Eve party on the Queen Mary 2 that is going to be hosted by U.Lee and his wife.

I came across the following item on the internet today and I thought it is a must have item to complete my outfit for the party.

This is a bra made of over 2,500 diamonds weighing over 100 carats, which is worth 10 million yuan (1,354,683.08 USD). I think with Ruby and J. T. wearing Harry Winston's baubles, and I wearing this diamond studded bra, Nightwing's private security team will be kept busy. Of course with my pearl handled trusted derringer firmly ensconced in my thigh strap, I will have personal backup if anything untoward should happen.

I may have to do something about that Calvin Klein strapless black number that Lee got for me. No point wearing this bra if I can't show it off! Maybe I could return the dress for something with a plunging neckline?

What say you my fellow revellers?

Photo Credits: Xinhuanet Photo

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cassia Alata

Last August I wrote a post called Can You Identify this Tree? on my other blog. I have finally found the botanical name of the tree through Zawi's Virtual Tourist site.

The tree is called Cassia Alata. It is also known as Senna alata, Herpetica alata, Cassia bracteata, and Cassia herpetica.

In Sarawak the tree is known by two names. My mother calls it the Sulok tree. The other name escapes me. There are a few Cassia Alata trees in my parents yard.

My mother would cut up a few branches of the tree and put them out to dry. When the leaves are dry she will put them over a fire to dry it even further and also to give the leaves that smoked flavour. Then the leaves are removed from the branches and stored away for boiling into a tea.

Dried cassia alata leaves

I like the flavour of the Sulok tea. It has a pleasant mild flavour. I don't know about it being a laxative but I know for sure that it works very well as a diuretic!

People in Sarawak believe that drinking Sulok tea will help lower your blood cholesterol. My uncle who has very high blood cholesterol says that his cholesterol level went down after consistently drinking the tea for a month.

I brought a small bag of the Sulok tea leaves back to California. Two days ago I boiled a kettle of the tea. I had forgotten to take my hydrochlorothiazide medication on Sunday and on Monday I took my medication as usual and drank several cups of Sulok tea. Oh boy, did the two combined made me go to the toilet often! Got rid of all the water retention in my body!

My cup of cassia alata tea

According to an article I read, cassia alata has blood sugar lowering properties. That is excellent news indeed because I am concerned about my blood sugar. It is a bit on the high side and I did suffer from gestational diabetes. My father is a diabetic and with that family history, for me it is a matter of when not if where diabetes is concerned.

Now I wished I had brought more of the leaves for my tea! The reason I brought a small amount was that I was afraid that the customs people would confiscate my tea leaves if they found I was carrying a bag of it! :-)

Some people have successfully grown the cassia alata here in the US. I might want to get the seeds and try planting it. There are companies selling the seeds and even young plants here in the U.S. It is a fast growing tree and if I plant it in a big pot I might be able to protect it from the cold during the winter months. Doug has been meaning to build a greenhouse for a long time but he has not got around to doing it. In fact he has the stuff needed to build the greenhouse already!

Who knows I might want to market the tea leaves like any herbal tea! Hey Zawi, here's another business possibility for us!!