January 29, 2014

In Your Heart or On Its Way

Nizam & Nana :)

Last Friday my best friend, Nizam, got married to the woman he loves after 5 years of relationship. I couldn't attend the ceremony because something came up at that time, but I met Nizam to have some words, say congrats and all the best wishes. It's the least I can do. Besides, it's been a really long time we didn't meet. 

We used to be neighbors and went to same school, have been like brother and sister ever since. Actually there were 3 of us; goofed around, fought, shared problems, helped each other in studies, sang our favorite songs, spent holidays together..just like siblings. But then one of us died in 2006. Nizam drifted away and I stayed with my other friends. We lost a brother and thought we've lost everything. But friendships remain forever and we're just trying to grasp reality because the grief was too consuming. We got each other, we've moved on. The memories and friendship we have are the only reasons we keep in touch now. 

And I couldn't be happier when Nizam finally got married. I'm sure it was a beautiful, blessed wedding. :)
He waited 5 years to marry his girl, juggled with studies and different jobs, and his hard work has paid off. He got a fix job now and he grabs the chance to propose. I'm really proud of him. 

I love weddings. Absolutely love them. Whether it's a dear friend's wedding or someone I've never even met, my heart swells watching two people celebrate their never-ending love for one another. And when my best friends marry the love of their lives, holy moly..my heart would nearly jump right out of my chest with happiness.

How on earth will I keep my heart from exploding with love the day I marry the love of my life? Do they have vitamins to prevent that? Lol.

Well, congratulations again to Nizam and Nana. May they live happily ever after. :)

..and life gets more exciting with each passing day, and love is either in your heart or on its way.

January 22, 2014

A Beginning

I've always been afraid of endings. I dodge them, avoid them, find any excuse to hold on to what comes before the end. It's a habit of sorts, and I'll do just about anything to put the pieces of my life on a forever timeline. My fear feels most obvious, most tangible, in the way that I read books. I dive into a narrative headfirst, moving through the pages as quickly as I can, engrossed, only to stop at the final chapter and wait days, weeks even, until I read those final pages. I cling to the hope that's found in "what if?".

Much of my life has felt permanent. My family has stayed together since I was born, my friends has been the same since high school, etc. So much of what I know is linked, the different corners of my life connected because I've made a conscious effort to connect them. My past and my present feel blurred together, and there's comfort, I think, in those ties, in the way that they erase time, making then and now and later feel not so far apart.

In the past, rather than letting a friendship or a relationship or a phase of my life come to an end, I'd force it to shift shape and evolve into something different, more manageable, never quite willing to let it go, even when that may have been easier. And I wonder, sometimes, where that comes from, why goodbye can feel so drenched in dread. I'm grateful to love someone who embraces black-and-white endings, the finality of knowing what is and what isn't. Ifo seems fearless and sure in that way. But me, I've found that I'm most comfortable lingering in the gray area, the murky space where hope seems to live.

All this is to say that I've been wrong. Because most things in life don't belong in the world of forever, and that's a good thing. Endings, for what it's worth, can actually be quite freeing, because endings are opportunities, springboards toward something new. And so maybe, all this time, what I've really feared wasn't reaching the end, but deciding what's next: a beginning.

January 21, 2014

From Aemy's Lab: Gulai Kawah

dream kitchen

My favorite part of my house is the kitchen. Hi-5 if we have thing in common. ;)
Yep, I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen these days; not just eating, but also cooking. I'm not a great chef, I don't know all the recipes in the world, but I really love cooking. It's such a joy. I think if you're a food lover, you should love cooking too, right? I like trying new recipe and new ingredient. The kitchen is my laboratory. And I love reading food blogs, chef bloggers' especially, browsing food photos, watching Food Network (Ina Garten, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay are my favorites) and searching new recipes. Did you watch Julie And Julia? Isn't it a wonderful movie with wonderful casts?! It has inspired me so much to start blogging about cooking. I actually wanna wait until I own a house with cute kitchen. But I don't know when will that happen..so I guess I can just start blogging like Julie Powell anytime..except, I don't have Julia Child's book.

Few days ago I cooked gulai kawah beef. It's like curry, but I didn't use the curry paste, instead I used a special powder mix for gulai kawah that my dad bought from his Kelantanese friend. Traditionally, this dish is cooked in a large cooking crater and usually for big feast or ceremony. But we can also cook it at home for few servings by only using a regular saucepan. So this is how Chef Aemy do it, lol (I've never wrote recipe before, so I don't have the exact measurement, I mean, I just use the ingredients as much as I please..heee..).

Beef. People commonly use tenderloin, but I use the bones because they really give distinctive flavor especially in broth.
Gulai kawah paste.
Herbs and spices (cinnamon, bunga cengkih, bunga lawang, buah pelaga, ketumbar).
Coconut milk.
Brown sugar.
Tamarind water.
Ground garlic and onions.
Chili paste.
Ground ginger.
Ground turmeric.
Ground lengkuas.
Salt and sugar.

1. Heat the saucepan, add oil and stir-fry the herbs and spices until the aroma is apparent. Add grounded ingredients and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
2. Add gulai kawah paste, chili paste and kerisik, cook until fragrant and the oil separates.
3. Put the beef meat and bones into saucepan, add plain water, and cook them until the beef get tender.
4. When the beef is tender, add coconut milk, a little bit of brown sugar and tamarind water. Adjust the taste with salt and sugar. Add potatoes.
5. Let it simmer for a while. Serve when it's ready. You can put some garnishes like some chili or parsley.

That's it! ^^

January 19, 2014

Cheating on Your Loneliness

This type of loneliness may always be in you, even if you're with someone. But you could cheat on your loneliness.

Think about how much your mother loves you.
Think about how much your father loves you.
Think about how many fires your sisters/brothers would walk through to protect your heart from being broken one more time.
Think about all the late night calls your best friends have taken and listened to you, no matter how trite.
Think about the ideas in your head.
Think about the people who have read some things you've written about and told you it made them feel a little less alone and less afraid.
Think about the people who have seen something special in you.
Think about the adventures you've had, the strangers who carried you through a tough moment on a leap of faith.
Think about the time you laughed so hard tears came out your eyes.
Think about what it feels like when you see a movie or a play or a work of art and for a minute, everything is suspended in that moment of transcendent and elusive beauty.
Think about all the stories you have.
Think about all of the stories you've yet to tell.

These things will never leave you. The space of what or who has left you only makes room for what needs to come. Thank them. And you don't have to feel lonely after all. 

January 18, 2014

The Gardeners' Daughter

tulip field in Netherlands

Yes I am. Both my parents really love planting and gardening; mostly are flowering plants, but there are also some mango, rose apple, chiku and rambutan trees. This place that I'm living in, you may call it a house in the garden. My parents' interest started with growing bougainvilleas and cactus. Yes, they're beautiful but I complained when we got many pots of bougainvilleas because watering them everyday was tiring and I had to clean the fallen flowers and leaves. Now the gardens have grown from the front to backyard and there are various of plants and flowers. I don't complain anymore, I still water the plants and clean the yards because I take that as my responsibility to help my parents. Besides, I've started to enjoy it as I love the gardens. Honestly, I don't have the knowledge and skills of gardening (I planted tomato and it died), I don't have the passion that my mom has. But I want to learn, because someday I might also want to have my own garden. 

Gardening gives a creative outlet and a personal link to nature. It helps me feel attached to the earth and reminds me that I'm part of nature which tend to change. I'm thankful to have parents that love nature. And I just adore the things that they have in common, apart from love. It's soothing to see the happiness in mom's face when dad bought her new type of plant/flower, new pots, and soil, and then they would do the gardening together. Sometimes they just hang out in the garden, I can't hear the conversation, but watching them is enough to make me smile. Last year in November my dad booked flight tickets for himself and mom to visit nurseries in Selangor as a gift for their anniversary. Holy moly! Imagine how happy mom was. It's one of the sweetest thing about them!

mom at flower nursery

My dad has just retired from work, so he spends most mornings and evenings outside taking care of the plants. So recently he just finished building a hut for the plants and flowers, now we have 4 houses; orchid hut, caladium hut, plumeria hut, and herbaceous plant hut. There are many kinds that I can't name and recognize in every house, which are bought by mom and dad from many nurseries they've went to. While the bougainvilleas are scattered everywhere around our house. Told you, it's the house in the garden. It's a sanctuary, my safe haven.

I'm not sure what's the plan after mom's retirement this year. I heard they want to open a nursery business, but it's not confirmed yet. I don't know if mom could sell the flowers to people, I mean she really loves the flowers. But what I'm sure is that someday when I have enough money, I want to take my parents to any world's greatest flower fields. Like, tulip field in Netherlands, sunflower field in Italy, lavender route in France, ranunculus field in California, or at least the Flower and Garden Festival at Floria Putrajaya. It's my dream. And I hope it may come true someday. :)

caladium hut

herbaceous hut

orchid hut

plumeria hut

January 17, 2014

Time Won't Wait

It's kind of dichotomous, you know? Celebrating life and mourning death. The excitement of being together with family and friends contrasted with sadness for the circumstances that brought us there. It's been 50 days since my grandmother passed away, but the funeral day's still fresh in my mind. Although we were gathered because of her death, I realized that we're actually all there because of her life.

When's the last time you told your family/friends/lovers that you love them? Death taught me to say it now. And to say it the way you mean it with every ounce of love. It showed me how to be appreciative of someone else's time. To express a grateful heart before the moment escapes me. To stay curious. 

The thing about death is that it makes you think about how you're living, the legacy people have created with all that they leave behind, how you've spent time. And I wonder about how many times I've let an opportunity passed by to tell someone how much they mean to me while they're there, right there. I also think back how many phone calls I didn't make or pick up, the questions I didn't ask and the stories I never heard. And how many chances I've blown that one day I hope to get back. But the thing about time is that you can't go back. Just forward.  

Here's to no longer keeping things off for tomorrow. Because all we really have is today.
Do it now. Say it now. Be it now.

January 15, 2014

When it Rains

Nothing can be more of a bummer when you have your day planned for going outside and the rain pours. While it's true that nothing beats the feeling of warmth brought about by sunshine, it doesn't mean that you can't have fun being indoors. You might feel that jogging feels more refreshing; shopping's a lot more fun; and other activities seem to become more interesting when the sun's out. But there are many things that you can do when it's raining when you feel like you have no choice but to be cooped at home. I don't feel cooped at all. So what I do when it rains?

Read a book. This might seem like a cliche, but it's really fun.

Watch movies. HBO, Fox, AXN and Star World are my favorite channels. 

Watch tv series that I've recorded in PVR.

Cook a lot; from my favorite meals to the new ones with new recipes. Bake. It's fun to do experiment in the kitchen especially when it rains.

Cuddle with my cats and let them nibble on my fingers. 

Enjoy a good hot cup of coffee or tea.

Browse some fancy stuff like shawls, blouses, shirts, dresses and places to go to someday.

When creativity strikes, I make some D.I.Y projects.

Sometimes I write; short stories, poems, random unsent letters. 

Learn to play piano with my old keyboard.

Blog..like right now. 

Read biographies of famous and inspirational people. 

Listen to cool songs, mostly Paramore's. 


I don't do all of these things at one rainy day all at once. Since it's been endlessly raining for days, I do different things everyday. However, I still hope that the sun will shine again soon because I do miss going out with my friends..and I need the sun to dry my clothes. 
So what do you do at home when it's raining?

There will come a time when you love the sun again, you will love the flowers; but right now you may love the mist, the rain and the passing of time. Because it reminds you most of yourself, it reminds you of the uncertainty of the future and the loss of the pass. And that's okay, because you're learning to love those little parts of yourself that can be so easily forgotten in the glow and warmth of the sun. One day though, you will dance in the rays of afternoon and you will bask in the hope of restoration. But until then, know that you're allowed to love those silent moments of your life.

January 14, 2014

Dust on His Path

"There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often."
Surah Al-Ahzab (33:21)

The salvation of humanity and every individual lies in following the blessed sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), who has been sent by Allah (swt) as a role model for us until qiamat. But some people think that sunnah is only restricted to prayers, fasting and several others. Instead, there are sunnah for all the activities we do everyday. In Islam, the Arabic word 'sunnah' has come to denote the way Rasulullah (saw), the Messenger of Allah, lived his life. And following the sunnah of Rasulullah (saw) in all aspects of life will bring blessings of Allah to us. 

Here's a few sunnah of Rasulullah (saw):

1. Sunnah of eating

  • recite bismillah and du'a before eating
  • start with fruits if any
  • use right hand, 3 fingers if possible
  • don't drink while eating
  • eat before hungry, stop before full 

2. Sunnah of sleeping
  • clean and take wudhu before going to bed
  • recite ayat al-Kursi before sleeping
  • sleep on right hand side with right palm under right cheek
  • keep knees slightly bent

3. Sunnah on anger management
  • when you're angry while standing, sit
  • when you're angry while siting, lie down
  • when you're angry while lying down, take wudhu 
  • never let anger control you, control the anger

4. Sunnah on favorite sports
  • archery, riding horse and swimming

5. Sunnah on favorite food
  • barley, dates, figs, olives, grapes, honey, watermelon, milk, mushroom, pomegranate, and plain water 

There are more and you can find them in many sources. Happy Maulidur Rasul. :)

I am the servant of the Qur'an as long as I have life. I am the dust on the path of Muhammad, the Chosen One. - Rumi

January 12, 2014

Week of Celebration

It's been a great week!!
8th January marks the 24th birthday of a friend of mine and Ifo, Jasper Olsen Francis. As requested by his girlfriend, Fenny, who's currently working in peninsular, we threw a party for him. I probably know how it feels to be in long distant relationship, ones would want their partner to have a special moment on birthday even though they're away from each other. So we ordered cheese cake and celebrated at Tanjung Aru's SugarBun. It's not really a surprise party because we didn't have enough time to set it up. We gave Jasper a superhero mask as a gift, since he looks like Aaron Taylor-Johnson and we called him KickAss. It's not even a KickAss mask, but it still made him look like one. I think it's time to introduce The Baks members to you (I'll do this on each birthday). Jasper is a pharmacist, has been Ifo's friend since high school and I met him at matriculation. He's a very nice guy to hangout with, you can never be bored when he's around because he's very friendly and talkative. What we like about him is that he's an informative, adventurous, easy-going and open-minded person. He's someone that will always be there for friends in good and bad times. When you share your problems with him, he'd come up with the best advice and solutions. And he's multitalented; karate kid, pianist, athlete. We're glad to have him as a friend. :)

On Friday, me with Ifo and my sister went back to Papar to help preparing for tahlil feast that was held on the next day. Since we couldn't attend it, we came a day earlier to help in preparation. Ifo also gave some helps in the kitchen, he's good at it and I was glad that he got along very well with my relatives; aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors. They all love him. 

On 11th, I went to my best friend's wedding reception at Permai D'Valley Ratau. I'm genuinely happy that Rafizza's finally married to her Navy man, Lt Haffiz. We came quite late, so we missed the earlier sessions like Navy parade and some traditions, but it's okay as long as I can meet the bride and groom, see the happiness and took pictures together. There were 2 pelamin, one of them is the modern pelamin, prettily decorated in purple and white, matched the bride's purple dress. Then they changed into Dusun Lotud traditional costume to sit at the other pelamin. There's quite a vibe of Sabah on the reception, I guess they wanted to introduce Sabah to the groom's family as they're from West Malaysia. Congratulations to Rafizza and Lt Haffiz, I wish they live happily ever after. ^^

And I'm happy to announce that I got a new job, it's not like an official or day-to-day job, but as a freelance writer, I call it a job. I love it. Another web project is coming soon, it's not really a big thing but I'm gearing up. On top of that, I'll be starting a temporary job as substitute teacher again soon at a primary school. Well, this is the life of an unemployed 24-year-old lady. Blissfully content. 

happy birthday Jasper!


Dusun Lotud traditional costume

congrats Rafizza and Lt Haffiz

January 7, 2014

We are Stories still Going

There are parts of stories that we wish were different, things we wish we could change, erase, forget. We get stuck in moments. Memories turn to ghosts. We try to live in the past, but it never works. And then somehow, inside the same story, there's good. There are memories that make us laugh and make us smile, relationships and conversations, dreams of jobs and families, and places that we hope to go. Even things as simple as favorite books and songs and films, the way they remind us we're alive, these things are part of our story as well. And we've come to believe that all of it matters, that all of it is significant and the opposite of small. We've come to believe that you deserve to be around people who know these parts of you, people who laugh and mourn and celebrate with you, people who remind you that you're not alone.

If you should ever get to a place where your life feels like it's not worth living, where the pain's just too great, know that it's okay to be honest and ask for help. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and it doesn't mean you're something strange or some kind of burden. It simply means you're human. May you wake to the day when life feels worth living, when joy comes back, hope shows up, love returns. 

If you're reading this, if there's air in your lungs on this day, then there's still hope for you. Your story's still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, we all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things. Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories aren't finished yet. There's still time, for things to heal, change and grow. There's still time to be surprised. We're stories still going, you and I.

Peace to you today, tomorrow and days ahead. 

January 5, 2014

On His 24th Birthday

Last night we had a mini surprise party to celebrate Ifo's 24th birthday. Jasper and I brought up the idea and planned everything without giving Ifo a hint about it. All this time, he's the one who plan activities and bring everyone together, because he's the "taicho", so this time we wanted to do the honors to set up a plan for him. So I asked him out on a date, said I wanna treat him dinner at SR, just 2 of us. While other friends were setting up the cake at SR, I pretended looking for things at Daiso, went to washroom and walked slowly just to delay him. I was actually nervous inside, worried if the plan didn't work, plus I'm bad in acting (I did well before when we set up a birthday prank for him, where I took him for a morning jog while the others were preparing pails of water to splash him). 

When we arrived and got our table, he browsed the menu and decided to order a slice of cake. I said let's order the dessert later after we eat the main course and he agreed. With my hand under the table, I was secretly texting Jasper (they're downstairs) to come up and start it now, and acting normal by talking randomly. Then Jasper showed up alone, surprised to see us and said he's there with a friend to watch movie. He suddenly sang a Happy Birthday song, along with me and the others who showed up with a cake. Surprise, surprise!

Ifo blushed a little because I know it's his 1st proper birthday surprise party at public, no evil prank this time, just lots of lies..heee. We're glad that he's happy and loving every bit. So we cut the cake, eat our dinner and enjoy the memorable moments together. We made it. ^^

Happy Birthday again, Ifo. I love you more than words could ever say. Thanks for being a wonderful man, soulmate, best friend, and thanks for being you. And thanks to The Baks for making it happen and creating another awesome memory.  

"Happy 24th Birthday Baks Taicho"

B pack

from left: Selvin, Naszreen, Jasper, me, Ifo, Mark, Desmond, and Russel

January 3, 2014

He is 24

Heeee.....he is Ifo, my man. And he turns 24 today!!!!
While you reading this post, I'm right here celebrating his special day. 24 is our favorite number. 
2gether 4ever. :)
Happy birthday, dearest Ifo. I love you. 

p.s: hopefully our time will come this year. #resolution


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