Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nicholoustach...or, as Ethan spells it, Nikolaustag -QM

This is our third year celebrating the night when children (or at least German children) set their shoes out so that St. Nicholous can fill them when he passes by, and I still need the help of Ethan AND google to spell the holiday correctly.
In past years we had nice, closed-toe church shoes with room for the candy, but these days our children prefer sandals and Sponge Bob flip-flops. Its hot here. The pile of shoes on the left are there for a reason. When Dorie heard that St. Nicholous fills shoes, she wanted to maximize this opportunity so she neatly lined up all of her shoes AND James'. She shoved them aside when Ethan told her only one pair gets filled.
After Ethan took this picture he said, "Queena, you know who you remind me of sometimes? Your Mother.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Durian -- E.


There's so much to say about this tropical fruit.  I feel guilty, however, going on and on about a treat that many of you who read this may never get to taste this side of heaven.

So I won't.

Read what Wikipedia has to say about it instead.

Oh man, they're in season right now and I am happy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

House Tour: Before and After -- E.

There was a little bit of suspense when we moved into this house back in July: would it ever feel like home?  I find it gratifying to look back at how the house looked four months ago and see how it has changed.  Don't get your hopes too high -- this is no Extreme Makeover Home Edition -- but let me show you some of the changes we've made around here.

Then.  Not so bad out here really, but the grass needed some taming.
Now.  Pay special attention to our potted plant.  I love it.

Then.  The living room already had a little furniture in it, which was nice.
Now.  Real live people do even more for a place than the furniture, don't they?

The kitchen then.
The kitchen now.  (The big gray cupboard got moved to a different room.)

Wet kitchen then.  I don't know if the sheets of metal had been put up for
privacy or to keep out the rain, but Queena and I didn't care for them.
Wet kitchen now.  So now people can see us cook (and a little
rain does get in here at times), but we enjoy the light.

Then.  I did not think that most of that grunge was going to come off.

Now.  Not all the grunge came off, but most of it did.  I now find it
easier to believe that I'm getting clean in this shower.

Hey, by the way, it has been wonderful having some of Queena's family visiting us for the last couple of weeks.  Many readers of this blog have already found more details and pictures on PollythePatchworker's excellent blog -- if you don't follow Polly's xanga weblog, may I suggest that you begin today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Flavor of the Month -- E.

I've been trying to convince myself that I like this . . .

. . . but after two weeks of yam ice cream in my freezer (most ice cream does not last that long in there), I have to admit it just doesn't taste good to me.  It's like a cold, creamy, purple yam.  And I don't like those very much.

In other food news, a friend brought us a durian -- it was our first local durian experience.  Durian is an amazing fruit (and also available as an ice cream flavor).  Unfortunately this one was overripe and not fit to eat.

You know, outside the realm of food, which is an ongoing adventure which I love every minute of, life is hard to describe in satisfying terms.  The house?  It's good.  The family?  We're all okay, but sometimes we get sick.  Language learning?  It's happening, and it makes us quite tired.  The weather?  Warm and rainy, of course.  And it makes us tired.  Here's our backyard under a nice rain shower last week.  I don't know if you can tell or not, but what is usually an alley has turned into a waterway in this photo.

And where are Dorie and James and Queena in all this?  That's a very good question.  Patience.  I wasn't going to draw attention to the fact, but I haven't blogged in a long time, and I'm just getting back into the swing of it.  Next time we'll have less ice cream and more humans, is that okay?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kuching Food Festival -- E and Q

They say Malaysians are obsessed with food.  A blunt stereotype, perhaps, but it's an easy one to believe when you're at the annual Kuching Food Festival.  It ran for about a month this summer and just recently ended -- our family went for the final evening.

Queena said it reminded her of southern Delaware's Apple Scrapple Festival (I wouldn't know, because sadly I haven't been).  Only the culinary categories are more broad here in Kuching.  If it's food, it's welcome here.  Even if it's deep fried burgers, which may not really be a food, it's welcome here.

(We met some colleagues of ours and their two children.  I just want it clear to everybody that the boy next to Dorie in all these pictures is not a random stranger.)

It's the place to be.
Ribena syrup + Sprite = sweeter than regular soda
If you get lost, just follow the signs.

I think this is Dorie's first cotton candy ever.

And there were carnival rides!

Dorie flies around the world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Feeding James -- E.

Something I like to do for fun is to see what new kinds of food my young children will eat.  There are many new foods to try in Kuching, so we'll probably be playing this game for a while.

James is more of an adventurous eater than his sister, it turns out.  He especially likes fish and seafood.  Here's what James has been putting away lately:

  • Sardines in Tomato SauceNot a local specialty, I know.  But the stove wasn't hooked up and it was just James and me at home.  So we had a low-tech man meal together.

  • CrackersI bought these on Saturday because the kids and I had just been reading about a beach in Thailand where you eat fresh barbecued squid with chili sauce.  Dorie, to her credit, tried a bite.  James had most of a cracker before deciding he didn't care for the squid bits all that much.

  • Baby OctopusThese guys were delicious!  James thought so too.  He just had to work a little to bite off a chunk.

    Dorie did not care to try this one.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Dorie's Birthday--QM

We have been without internet for a week now, and what a full week its been! We plan to do several short and picture-heavy posts this week to catch up.  This one is all about Dorie's 4th Birthday!

Dorie wanted a Tea Party with her two dear friends, Carmen and Thea, but she was going to be out of town on 08-08-12, so we celebrated a little bit early.
Here they are! Carmen, Dorie, and Thea
Instead of "pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey" we played "pin-the-handle-on-the teacup".
Don't you love the party favor? I wanted one!

Here is James on Dorie's 'real' birthday, opening a slinky from his Grandma Polly. We took the gifts with us to our orientation at Kota Kinabalu.

And here is Dorie doing her two favorite activities on her birthday--hanging out with other children and watching a movie!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The New House, Part One -- E.

One of our biggest tasks in Malaysia so far has been to find a house to live in.  The place where we've been since May was always a temporary thing.  Now it's time to move on.

So, over the next week and a half, we will be moving into this place:

Would you like to take a look around inside?  Let me show you a bit of what it looks like.  Keep in mind, we are not moved in yet!  This is how the house came to us, partly furnished.  We've got a bit of work to do before we are ready to live here.

The view as you step in the front door: a nice cozy living room, with the kitchen through that door in the back.
The kitchen.
There are three bedrooms.  I won't show you all three because they all look like this.
And another look at the outside.

Unfortunately, the house also has a bit of this...
... so we'll be giving it a lot of this.

It's nice, isn't it?  We're certainly happy with it.

So, this week, in addition to the cleaning, we'll be doing some shopping for stuff like fridge, stove, washing machine, beds, and probably an air conditioning unit or two.  And hopefully we can show you some amazing before-and-after pictures after we're moved in!  Check in on us again soon.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grandma Alene's Chicken Corn Soup--in Malaysia! --QM

Do you remember that chicken foot peeking out of the pot in the last post? The chicken was sold to me with a head too! To the shopkeepers' credit, I think they did offer to chop the 'extras' off before selling it, but I thought they were offering to chop the whole thing into bits! Time to learn some Malay, or more Chinese...
That bird inspired me! Thursday's fellowship meal was going to be at our house, and I decided to serve some of my Grandma Alene's chicken corn soup.
What to do about the ingredient list? I had seen some produce stalls selling corn-on-the-cob, so I had the fresh corn...but no limas. Fresh green beans made an adequate substitute, and I had Maggi ramen noodles for the seasoning packet Grandma usually uses. Ramen noodles are a big deal here.
 Did it pass the taste test? It wasn't quite the same--nor do  I imagine it ever will be--but our guests seemed to love it! Watch out chickens, I'm coming back for you another day!
A movie still from a clip of Grandma reading to James and Dorie just before we moved.
 Grandma, you are loved and missed across the ocean!
For those that want to attempt her soup, here is the recipe, as she gave it to me a few years ago:
Grandma Alene's Chicken Corn Soup Recipe 
(For the authoritative version, ask her!) 
onion powder and/or onions
celery salt and/or celery
ground coriander
ramen noodle seasoning packet

1/2 c. carrot, for color
Lima beans

cook in enough water to cover--simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hour
debone and deskin

Egg noodles-- add and cook at the very end

She also used some kind of chicken base, which I never figured out. Also, I always saute the seasonings in the onions and celery.

Thank you Grandma! I got sick a few days after making this, and was SO GLAD to have had leftovers!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Staying Cool -- E.

It can get warm in Kuching.  Air conditioning is available here but expensive to run.  What can you do?  We've learned a few things so far:
  1. Stay in the shade.
    It's much cooler here than in the sun.

  2. Visit the South China Sea.

  3. Have a little ice cream.
    This shop does a nice mango flavor soft serve.

  4. Use the mop bucket. 
    James figured this one out all on his own.

In other news, Queena promises to write a post soon about her amazing chicken soup.  Grandma Alene's recipe!