Friday, June 17, 2011

A house is not a home, True or False?

Make your own home

Yes, a house is not a home unless we make it "our own" by giving it an identity and love. It does not mean having to buy a house physically. Sounds vague? But you know what I mean.

Just an object

If we just throw in all the furniture and use the house as an object, it will remain an object, devoid of warmth and security. All the padlocks and bolts cannot keep us safe as only Allah SWT can protect us from any harm.

Home Sweet Home

We can make our home secure in the sense that our home can provide emotional security for us, especially after a long and hard day's work, driving home and diving into our favourite chair and finally relaxing every muscle in our bodies. Well, maybe not as dramatic as that ,but it sure feels good to be home. Nowhere can be better than home. Right or wrong?

So I decided to move all my worldly belongings to a new and strange place, and planning to call it home. MMmmmm... Working hard at it as just a few days ago it was an empty space, full of dust and what have you... unmentionables in case your are having your lunch in front of the PC. Smile...I really dislike lizards! We can actually kill them off but I feel sorry for these cold blooded things - they too want to survive.

Moving is no fun

Sent a lorry load of important stuff like cupboards and beds and my pots and pans. Had been to and fro by car daily, carrying fragile items like glassware, porcelain, clothes. The movers forgot some of the shelves so now almost everything is on the floor, and I thought I had it so well planned. Forgot that human beings do not always co operate or listen to instructions though they all want to get paid. Allah is the best planner.

Casa Cafe

Discovered the Casa Cafe was open only last month. What a shame! The lady cooks delicious food and I only knew 2 weeks before I have to leave. Maybe I will be back more often to enjoy food by the poolside. I used to see people walk round and round the condo and the nice walkway next to the stream but I never had the interest to join them. Not too social sometimes as I like peace and quiet.

I never touched the swimming pool and gym throughout my stay here. No privacy and no fun exercising alone. In fact my friend has a gym and I never even exercised there except once.

Lost weight without going to the gym

Anyway, I already lost over 8 lbs in a 6 weeks (not that much , as my weight control program is aimed at turning fat into muscle which can be heavy too). A friend of mine who started a week before me lost much more as she was very serious and determined to be healthy again. She looks much smaller these days. All my new clothes are loose and I am wearing back all my old favourites which I had almost given away.

Losing weight for the right reasons

Lose weight to gain health. Lose for the right reasons. Vanity and the wish to regain lost figures may be a strong 2nd factor. Who does not want to feel lighter and healthier? Who would seriously claim its great to have a thick neck, bulging tummy and flabby arms? No one, I am quite sure.

When I was young I took my slim figure for granted. I ate anything I wished and never had any problems with weight. With childbirth the body may change. Anyway, the ounces and pounds would just creep up upon us. Suddenly we we were 10 pounds heavier! Some people gained 20 pounds in 10 years , its gradual so we may not notice. Others can tell you how hard it is to lose just 2 pounds. Time to eat well and eat correctly. Its a reminder for myself too.

I feel good. Some of my friends tell me
they want to be healthier too

Today I really feel good about this and feel much healthier. Its not a strict regiment and I get to have my usual breakfast (half boiled eggs and toast etc) and just a lighter lunch with less rice or carbohydrates. As much of protein and vegetables and fruits as I like though we have to be reasonable and not use it as an excuse to keep on eating.

Low fat nutri shake is healthy alternative for a change

Only a trimshake at night though I do not follow too strictly as I do eat out a lot. Just be more selective and take the special herbal supplements. Easy and no heavy exercise to burn fat. Just burning it naturally and scientifically. High tech diet that gives results.

Alhamdulillah! I never dreamt changing my eating habits and lifestyle for 3 months could be so pleasant and effective. Naturally we should eat sensibly even after the 3 month cycle is completed. No binging and nasi lemak, oily goreng pisang and keropok lekor and fried koey teow daily.

I forgot the new me!

Really amazed and sometimes I forgot I am much slimmer now. :) Miracles do happen! Hee Hee. I mean I was only 140 lbs before I started this program but in less than 2 months everything is falling into place. Maybe the feeling of achievement and getting the results. SubhanAllah! It used to take me a whole year to reduce 5 lbs and that was only possible during Ramadhan. Only to gain it back slowly ;( .

In fact it could have been worse. It helps when we make sure we complete all our replacement and the special 6 day optional fasting in Shawal itself . Its a way to discipline ourselves so we do not get carried away with all the multiple open house invitations. It certainly defeats the purpose of fasting in Ramadhan when we can just lose control and overeat at every occasion.

Healthy Heart

So now I am really happy as I can wear a smaller size and feel fitter than ever. My health was not too bad though I had a few small joint problems. I know sometimes putting on a few pounds can lead to more if we are careless. Sometimes we cannot resist some favourite foods and often the worst offenders are the most delicious!

Keep trim in order to have a healthy heart, insha' Allah. In the end it is Allah who decides how and when we will go. However we have the responsibility to make the effort so we do not blame anyone for our illness and suffering. At least we tried.

Lose Some, Gain Some

Some people want to lose weight and others want to gain weight. Gaining weight with protein and healthy fats would be better than eating only desserts.

Some oils are better than others.

Olive oil, flaxseed oil, santan (not coconut oil as that does not make us fat) and eating high calories fruits and perhaps grain bread, meat and some protein shake may help us gain weight. Make hummus with virgin olive oil, tahina and lemon. We can cook with olive oil and santan may help too.

Delicious creamy ice cream and cream puffs?Egg tarts and fruit tarts? Tiramisu and carrot cake with cream cheese topping? Wow! Those who want to gain weight sure have a lot of fun following the doctor's orders!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Moving House ? Not Again!

Fear of Moving but Move, I will

No body likes to move house. Why? Its too much work and expensive to hire lorries and people to help with the packing and unpacking. We cannot do it alone and it is cheaper for us to pay someone to do the menial and repetitive tasks of cleaning, wrapping, packing, stacking etc The downside is somethings may be broken as people may not be sentimental about our old and treasured momentos and prized purchases.

Do not be attached to Duniya

I learnt not to love the worldly goods too much though they do add some value and culture to our otherwise mundane life. Many times the helpers have broken some prized momento and casually tossed them into the garden or the bin, without a single apology. To them its all junk and perhaps it is. Expensive junk. :)

New way of looking at life

A new home and new location gives an entirely new perspective to things and we get out of the comfort zone (which I think is more appropriately called the rut) to look at life in a different way. We also get to love or hate our new situation and learn patience and humility when we realise we have not much choice but to tolerate and accept the inevitable.

Testing every day, every way

With every decision comes some consequences. Its a way to test our patience and humility, our ability to find good out of every difficult situation. So now I can only say Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah!

Sweet melodies from our feathered friends

I got used to the bird sounds at Tropicana but at my new home I get to experience a different group of birds. I have not observed them yet due to my over exhaustion and late hours but am thrilled to hear sweet singing of a varying range of sounds. Very different singing and very refreshing. And I get to see so many cats! I named one Small Lion - mixed pedigree with long fur and a bushy mane and sweeping tail.

Cats are calming?

I love cats - will write about them another day. They are really calming and fun until some tom cat decides he wants to be king and leader of the pack. They fight for territory and for their mates. Not an easy life always. Anyway that is their fitrah so we should not really be upset too much. Just be glad we are not cats.

Really busy trying to record all the new prices for the new collection but my printer is not cooperating....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time to Move On & Dates for Sale in Ramadhan

Shall I go or shall I stay?

I try to block my mind to the fact that I shall be moving out of my lovely sanctuary before the end of this month. How I will miss the rain and the rising streamlet. The beautiful flight of the large birds and the sweet songs every morning. The lightning blue kingfisher and ripples in the water. Mr Biawak and junior biawak - large monitors. I did hesitate about giving my notice to the landlord but I know I must move on.

Detached, perhaps to prepare myself to leave

Strangely enough, I do not feel much attachment to the apartment itself though I really appreciate the fresh air, so cool that I sometimes need to use a light blanket at night. And the air con is not even on! I used to switch on the air conditioner from 7pm right up to morning because of the hot weather in Subang. At Tropicana, its really COOL. I think I must have used the air conditioner maximum 7 times for the whole year.

What happens when trees are felled?

It really shows that when we cut down all trees and leave everything covered in concrete we will experience local weather change. If we cut down a whole hill, what do we expect?

Why am I saying goodbye?

So why am I saying goodbye to all this? Not much choice, really. I have to be practical as moving on means we save a lot of time on the road and that means saving a great deal on petrol, toll, wear and tear of the vehicles and also less stress insha'Allah.

It certainly is nicer to drive 15 minutes to class instead of spending 45 minutes minimum each trip. I do not even have to drive, I can just walk to work. In the end, the most important thing I will save is TIME. It is invaluable and cannot be captured ever again.

Boxes, boxes everywhere

Coming back to moving house, I am getting used to the ever growing number of boxes in every room of the apartment. This time I am going to move in stages. Monday one lorry load and the following week, another lorry will send the rest of the items.

Somethings gotta go...

This way I will not fill the house with too many boxes and furniture all at once. I find it difficult to part with my collection of books. To make up for that I gave away a few bags of clothes, bed linens, cooking utensils and equipment etc. Somethings have to go....

Blank Upstairs

My mind is quite blank and I have not decided where to position the furniture or where to store the kitchen stuff. I am not the kind who enjoys housekeeping. Moving house is very challenging. Stressed for weeks and after moving stressed for even more, as it takes forever to put things in order again.


Dates for Ramadhan

I got my new order for a carton of Lyna fresh dates from Tunisia today. In July there will be more orders. Some dates will be sent to customer's relatives overseas. I sell dates every Ramadhan as it gives me a chance to earn a little extra income and my customers get their dates at a reasonable price instead of paying more at the shops.

Is it fun? Mmmm ...Not exactly

Its actually hard work and I have to carry the heavy cartons everywhere. Whenever I collect, when I remove them from the car to store in a cool place in the house, then some have to be in the fridge. Finally I have to place them all again into the car for delivery. And that means carrying the heavy cartons from the car which may be far away, to the customer's home. Sometimes they are not in and I have to visit them again to collect what they owe. Phew!!! Does that sound fun? Certainly not. Every year I tell myself that's the last time I would ever sell the dates. Yet each year I end up doing it again.

Why do I want to sell dates again?

Why? I really appreciate my friends who make effort to order the dates from me. They can buy them from anywhere they like, maybe at a cheaper price. Of course seldom the same quality. I keep my prices fairly low to keep my customers satisfied. They never ask for discount but I know people spend a lot on everything in Ramadhan. Its good to give a reasonable price so they can do more ibadah.

Customer Satisfaction

And I feel happy when I see they are pleased with the products. That is job satisfaction - when my customers thank me and express their appreciation. When I manage to deliver the items on time though many of them order at the last minute. That means making so many calls.fighting for the last carton, making extra trips and getting caught in traffic jams because the timing is unexpected.

Flying Dates

Sometimes they suddenly need to order extra to send to their relatives abroad. That means extra business for me. :D The dates are flying everywhere!

No wonder my friends are so enthusiastic about selling dates!

Actually some friends are selling the same items at RM2 more per box and that means extra profit of RM24 per carton. I sell Lyna fresh dates with stalks at only RM14 but my friends are selling them by the hundreds of boxes, between RM15 to RM16 per box. Some shops sell exactly the same dates at RM18. I still sell them at RM 14 this year.

Other varieties - everyone has different taste

It also gets a little complicated as I also sell several other qualities like Mariami, Bam, Ajwa and Medjool. Sometimes I need to weigh and repack them into smaller bags for distribution to the end source, usually orphans and needy. This activity is quite relaxing and rewarding though I need to sacrifice my time.

Not right to make too much profit for dates

I just feel its not right to make too much profit for such an essential item in Ramadhan. Making it affordable means more people can get their rewards from Allah when they buy and distribute their dates to friends and strangers alike. Yes, we all want to share in order to obtain some of their rewards too. Allah is so Generous, we can benefit from other people's efforts so easily. Alhamdulillah!

How to resist a win win situation?

I consider it an ibadah to provide customers with quality affordable dates. I also get to donate a lot of dates for breaking of fast because I get them at a discount. That is fringe benefit. Win Win situation that is hard to resist.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sharing Meals together is more enjoyable

Tasty Yong Tow Foo at Last!

Alhamdulillah! (All Praise be to Allah) today I had the pleasure of a very nice lunch with 2 dear sisters. They knew I had been missing good quality yong tow foo for some time. Just did not have the time to go look for a halal one. Heard there is one near Ampang Point but they just mentioned maybe it is not halal. Perhaps it is now since its been some time they patronised the place. Anyway, just look out for the halal sign.

We ate at Homeland Yong Tow Foo, a simple halal shop in Wangsa Maju, near the MRR2 flyover. Food was served quickly and the fish tasted like real fish. You know what I mean.

Cost of Living going up, even yong tow foo has shrunken in size

Price is reasonable, around 80 sen a piece but the portion is not too large. I guess 7 pieces for an average eater is maybe not enough because it is very light. We shared a small bowl of rice and resisted the asam fish, ginger chicken and veggies etc. Wanted to have just yong tow foo for a light meal.

Have to do some baking as my customers need chocolate cakes tomorrow. I cannot procrastinate any longer. Had to take a hot mug of coffee just to keep awake.

Take turns to share

Jazakillahu khairan sis Nor Aini who insisted on giving us a treat. Sis Farah has insisted on paying for the next round so my turn will be last. Its nice to give a treat as we will get the chance to feed some people and get some reward of sharing and caring.

If we go Dutch it is less meaningful but it depends. If the meal is costly then we will not be able to invite so many to join us because of our limited budget.

Spanish Buffet

This Sunday we plan to have Spanish buffet. Its Dutch all the way as RM29 net though very reasonable, is a hefty sum for one person to handle.

Many bros and sis are thinking of the delicious fragrant traditional dumplings (chang) lately.

Chang Making Session, anyone?

Maybe we have to organise a chang making session. I do miss my late mom Hanifah Chong as she would patiently make quite a lot for us, perhaps 80 pieces almost yearly. I do not know how to wrap properly so she ended up doing most of the work. She was diligent and was very focused. Once she made up her mind, she would go all out. She would then share some with the chang addicts. Miss you, mom.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Enjoy your life

What's the difference?

Good and Bad Days. Not every day is a good day. We are already thankful that nothing disastrous happened. That would be a bad day. So other days can be considered good actually. Make sense?

Some ways to enjoy one's life

To enjoy one's life does not mean to be happy everyday and to feel great most times. It doesn't work that way. Little acts of kindness and sacrifice, signs of goodness, beauty and calmness add towards the enjoyment of the moment.

Look for the better moments

Every moment adds up to be seconds, minutes and hours in a day. Look for for the better moments and hold it tight within your grasp, close to your heart. What we have in our hand may just be gone in the blink of an eye.

We do not own anything

Just like catching a snowflake, slurping an iceball or watching the changing colours of sunset. Everything is moving towards its own destiny. Every one of us is moving towards our final destination.

Even tyrants must submit to the will of Allah

It does not matter whether you are a believer or someone who does not even believe in the existence of Allah Almighty. Even people who do not believe in god will still have to kneel and submit to the Allah's laws of creation and death.

All things must pass

So no matter where we are, no matter if we are having a good time or experiencing great sorrow, all things must pass. All oppression and hardship must end one day, just as great moments of joy may suddenly be replaced by disappointment and anguish.

Fleeting time

Nothing can remain the same except by the will of Allah SWT. Our time here is fleeting and we are created for a purpose. Are we going to feel burdened and heavy with the responsibilities of serving Allah? We can change that attitude and learn to feel exhilaration and energy in serving Him.

Purpose of life

How do we fulfil our purpose of life? Allah is all Merciful and Wise. He never gives us a burden more than we can bear. He knows our individual capability and He sends help so often to keep us going. He comforts when we are down and heals us when we are ill.

Free air, water, oxygen

In order to be grateful for all His blessings, we need to acknowledge and appreciate all the blessings He has showered upon us. Free air, water, oxygen. Trees that absorb the carbon in the air and gives us oxygen in return. Fresh and healthy food from the land, mountains and ocean. Our ability to rationalise, to be creative and to love.

Live with energy and purpose

Allah has given us all the ingredients that promotes our well being and survival. Despite wars, terror and opression we must not allow ourselves to be overly depressed and stressed. If we want change then let us be the one to start first. Take up the challenge and live your life with energy and purpose.

Enjoy what you do

Muslims can only do their best, keep on improving their efforts and knowledge. Enjoy what we have to do since we still have to do it anyway. Truly acknowledge the bounties of our Creator. What is destined to happen will happen anyway. Just tie up our camel and learn to enjoy whatever blessings that come our way, it doesn't matter whether they are big or small.

Do not be negative

Make up our minds to enjoy our lives and not just exist day to day, expecting the worst to happen. If we keep on thinking about it and talking about it, the picture becomes larger than life. In the end some incidents actually happened because we kept dwelling on it and subconsciously allow it to happen.

Have courage and trust

In other words, face our future with courage, with trust in Allah's Mercy. Fulfil our worldly and spiritual responsibilities and have positive attitude . Ask Allah for help and depend on him only.

No one can help us

Do not for a minute think so and so, a mere creation of Allah can help us without Allah's permission. Do not think we benefitted because we believed so and so was the only one who could help us. We may forget and carelessly assume someone has the same kind of power as Allah. Its something like placing this person on the same level as Allah. We may not have meant it that way but that's what we had done.

Accept setbacks with wisdom

When we face setbacks in life, accept them with wisdom and learn from that experience. Its better to accept the changing situation and down size until things improve. There is no shame or embarassement when we sell our extra car, or move to a smaller home. Be proud that you do not need to borrow from banks or relatives. Being poor or less wealthy is not a crime or a sin.

Owing people money or making promises we cannot keep is much worse because we harm other people. We should not take away the right of others or abuse kindness of others.

We can still enjoy our lives on a lower budget when we keep working to improve our situation. Work, tawakkal and turn to Allah for help. Allah decides the end result.

Poor people have less worries

Not all poor people are miserable, they can be happier than their wealthy cousins because they appreciate every little blessing. Filthy rich people may enjoy lots of worldly belongings but we do not know whether they can even sleep well at night. They too may be worried about tomorrow; they have much to lose compared to ordinary people.

Acknowledge and enjoy all the blessings of Allah

Yes, acknowledge and enjoy all the blessings of Allah. Live your life well. We do not know when our fellow men will destroy more parts of our beautiful world and universe.There is already a lot of injustice and destruction of the environment even right now. How many hundreds of years will it take for the trees to stand tall again? These are things even the wealthy cannot guarantee for their younger generation.