Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bedtime Theater @ Goodnites.com @ Venusbuzz.com


Bedtime is such a special time for parents and kids, don’t you think? After a long, hard day at school, at the office, or running around and doing chores, those quiet moments at night are truly precious. My 6-year old son and I certainly enjoy sharing books together at bedtime, and while we often read to him, we’re also big fans of audio books.

For us, nothing beats lying in bed together with the lights turned off, and listening to a good story being read on the laptop. The lively narration and those amazing sound effects truly transport you to a different world in an instant!

If you enjoy listening to audio books with your little one too, then you must check out Goodnites.com’s Bedtime theatre. They’re currently offering free downloadable bedtime stories, which I’m certain you’ll just love! The stories tell of the fantastical adventures of a boy named Iggy and his Wiggy Bed in not one, but 20 chapters.

The tales contain themes of overcoming adversity, all with fun sound effects, which will no doubt capture your child’s imagination. I find that it’s really fun for grownups to listen to as well, especially if you enjoy children stories like I do! To listen to or download the stories, just head over to this link. Don’t forget to share it with your family and friends!

Image via: Goodnites Presents Bedtime Theater

PS: You can also view the post above as it appears on Venusbuzz.com:


Hypnobirthing @ Venusbuzz.com

Have you ever heard of hypnobirthing? I think it must be quite new in Malaysia, because most of the women I've spoken to have never heard of it. I read about it online very recently, and thought I should feature it on Venusbuzz so that more women would know about it. A calmer, gentler birth is definitely something I'd like to look forward to if God bestows us with a second baby. Check it out ladies!


Kids Arts & Crafts ideas @ Looledo @ Venusbuzz.com

I recently came across a fun-tastic site called Looledo, which is great for parents who love crafting with their kids!


Image via Looledo.

Check out my feature on it at Venusbuzz.com!

a4trip's affiliate programme

My buddies at a4trip have launched their affiliate programme, which allows website and blog owners to earn money by selling their travel guidebooks :) Check out an example of their affiliate's widget, this one's for Yogyakarta:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Storage ideas for kids' art supplies

A crucial key to any artistic endeavour is accessible supplies, and for young artists, their pencil colours, paints, glue sticks, scissors and crayons need to be ready for action at a moment's notice once inspiration strikes! The problem is, it can be quite a task to keep everything in order, and in their place, so here are some ideas on how you can keep that art clutter under control in your home:

1. Reuse food containers. They're great for storing paints, stationery and other things. Just put the lids back on and stack them up afterwards.
2. Fashion a sketch book out of a4 paper secured with butterfly clips. This way, the drawings will stay together and not get scattered all over the place. It's also easy to remove and recycle drawings or add more paper.
3. Plastic toolboxes are an inexpensive way to make a fantastic mobile art studio! Since Amir's favourite colour is blue, he picked out this one at the hardware store; we got it for under RM10. Once we got it home, he personalised it with Spongebob stickers that we got for RM1.

4. There's a rustic charm to tin cans, so why not put them to good use? They make great stationery and brush holders, just make sure the inner edges aren't sharp.

Tasty tomatoes

I'm not usually very active on Flickr, but I logged in this morning to add my photo to the Earth Hour 2010 pool, and that's when I realised that someone had liked my picture of vine tomatoes enough to use it on the Quick Free Recipes website :) Check it out:
I really like this website, there's lots of simple, healthy recipes! 
You can check out my Flickr photostream here.

My high forehed @ Venusbuzz.com

It's likely that everyone has something about their appearance that they're not very secure about, and while my high forehead isn't something that particularly concerns me, I don't like it when someone points out its "flaws" to me. I recently wrote an article on Venusbuzz about a recent awkward encounter with a salesgirl, and how people like Tyra Banks and Alexis Bledel have high foreheads but rock it! Well, of course, if you look as gorgeous as they do.. no one's really paying attention to that part of your face now, are they? 

 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An hour of blissful darkness

  Amir basking in the glow of my jam jar lanterns.

It's now 10.54pm in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. My family and I have just celebrated Earth Hour 2010 :) At first, I was at a lost as to what to do in the next 60 minutes, but then I lit some candles in my jam jar lanterns and spent time with my son while my husband took a nap.

Amir and I exchanged stories and even staged a mini puppet show with his soft toys about why we had to turn the lights off. As he continued playing, I closed my eyes for a little, and took in the quiet all around us. I realised that I haven't just turned off the lights, but it seemed I had turned off my mind too. I needed it. 

My mum was very supportive of Earth Hour, and seemed genuinely appalled that some of our neighbours didn't join in. Alas, the hour of bliss came and went, and at 9.30, we turned a light back on. My husband continued sleeping and I made myself a quick vegetable stir-fry dinner. Amir loved Earth Hour. So did I.

How did you spend your Earth Hour?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Amir loves painting

It seems like such a long time ago now, but I used to spend my weekends teaching arts and crafts to the children in my neighbourhood. I did it for a couple of years, but then things got really hectic when I was completing my Masters Degree, and I decided to concentrate on freelance writing instead.

Also, as my son Amir had started preschool, I wanted to spend my weekends playing with him, helping him with his school work and giving him one-on-one art lessons. And so, once in a while, we would break out the paints and brushes, and Amir would paint up a storm! Here are some pictures of the artist at work. I took them during our last painting session.

Amir usually paints at the dining table, as it's near the window.

He loves dinosaurs, which is what this painting is about. Just look at those vibrant colours and that strong sense of symmetry! Oops, the art critic in me just got out!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tiger Blogfest 2010

Hey peeps, let's gear up for the Tiger Blogfest 2010, shall we? The Planet of the Monyets are calling for blogger participation, and so far the response has been good, but it can be better with your help. Sign up for it now folks! Together, we can help save the Malaysian tiger from extinction!

Also, I wrote a little something on the Tiger Blogfest for Venusbuzz, in the hopes that more people will join. Check it out!


PS: I'm still thinking about what to write or do for the Tiger Blogfest thingy! Where on earth have I put all my ideas?!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Playhouse Disney Dinner Party for bloggers @ Bijou

A few weeks ago, I received an online invitation to a dinner Party by Playhouse Disney at Bjiou. I had never received such an invitation before (from someone I didn't know), so I was a bit wary. I later discovered that Best Buds magazine's editor had told the organisers about me, and so with that sorted out, I looked forward to the evening of March 19th.

I made my way to Bijou from work by taxi, and was one of the early ones to arrive. Like me, I think most of the mummy bloggers there had apprehensions about the event, but that quickly dissipated the moment we met the lovely people from IN.Deed Communications and Playhouse Disney.

With goody bags in hand, we took our seats at the table and started to get to know each other. As we had our main course, Mai from Playhouse Disney gave us a presentation on the channel's brand name, promise, personality and key attributes, as well as the show formats.

Check out the pictures:

Playhouse Disney everywhere!

On the placemats...

On the beverages...

On the napkins...

Why, if it isn't Ms Daisy Duck!

The buttons strewn across the pinewood table was cute :)

The menu.

The main course.

Mai from Playhouse Disney Singapore giving a presentation.

Dessert :) Boy, that espresso packed a punch!

Bloggers hanging out at Bijou.

Incidentally, Bijou restaurant is co-owned by Debbra Lee, founder of Fit For 2 studio. I wrote an article about her and her studio for Mother & Baby magazine back in March 2009!

It was a wonderful evening and I met lots of wonderful people, including Merryn of Crafty Crafted Studio, Zaid Mohamad of SmartParents and Hanz of The Honey Bunch. Please do check out their blogs :) Thanks very much to the organisers for inviting us! It was fabulous!

PS: I'll be writing about Playhouse Disney, Bijou restaurant and my fellow bloggers on Writing by Moonlight and Venusbuzz.com soon, stay tuned for that! Cheers!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Telepuk: Bold Impression in Gold @ Essenze magazine

I received the latest issue of Essenze magazine a few days ago and it features my article on telepuk, a traditional Malay textile decoration technique with gold leaf stamping.

Essenze magazine Vol 17-09

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fermented foods 1 & 2 @ Venusbuzz.com

My latest articles on Venusbuzz are on fermented foods - Yummy! Here's Part 1:

And here's Part 2, which features local fermented goodies:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I had the pleasure of watching Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland with my family last weekend, and it was the first time I watched a movie in 3D, so it was quite a treat. As expected, the movie was visually stunning, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Almost.

This was a movie that I had been dying to see, as I love Tim Burton's work and I love fantasy. I must say that the movie did not disappoint, but it did leave me wanting. But first, let's focus on its merits. I loved the clothes on Alice (Mia Wasikowska) , they were stunning. The long tunic she wore during her stay with the White Queen was especially lovely.

Mia herself outshone her clothes. Looking like a younger and prettier Mona Lisa, she was a likeable heroine. I also enjoyed Anne Hathaway's performance as the White Queen. Her hands held airily to her sides in almost every frame, gagging now and again, she was charming.

It was also nice to see Crispin Glover act again. His Knaves of Hearts was good, though I felt that they could have given him a better eye patch.

Overall, I liked this revamp, as it is a fantasy with a female protagonist that isn't necessarily for girls. But, clearly, it did have a strong feminist element to it. You get a true sense of the escapism that Alice experiences, as she tears away from her Victorian corsets.

Sadly, the much anticipated performance by Johnny Depp was a little marred. Mr Depp, I feel, has played too many oddball characters for his own good. By now, we're confused as to who and what he's supposed to be. Some say his portrayal of the Mad Hatter was like a cross between Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka. I sensed a bit of Sweeney Todd too. Still, he's Johnny Depp... we love him anyway.

I couldn't stand Helena Bonham Carter, which , means she did admirably as the brash Red Queen. I wished we could have experienced more of Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry, and, of all the voices Matt Lucas is capable of doing, why on earth did he settle for his Ting Tong Macadangdang one for the Tweedles?

Some say the movie is dark, as is expected of Tim Burton, but to me, it wasn't dark enough.

I also have issues with watching 3D when I wear thick, nerdy glasses. Glasses on glasses aren't comfy. But I will, most likely, revisit the experience nevertheless.

* Update 16 March 2010: Here's a little something I wrote for Venusbuzz on watching movies in 3D with nerdy glasses.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Best Buds February 2010

Look what arrived in the mail yesterday! The editor of Best Buds magazine sent me not one, but two complimentary copies of February's Best Buds!

Check out the cheerful cover.


And it came with a sweet note from the editor!


My first article, "How's that for love," was written for Valentine's day. It's about the Taj Mahal, one of my most favourite historical sites in the world.


My second article, "The Legend of Nian," was written for Chinese New Year :)

And look! 11-year old Maheera liked the back-to-school tips that I wrote back in January! They've accepted my submission for March, so do look out for more of my articles in this month's edition :")

Friday, March 5, 2010

Too painful to bear

I don't usually post articles I've written for Venus on my blog before they are published on the website, but I simply have to share my heartbreak over the senseless deaths of children that have been reported in Malaysian newspapers in recent times, so here goes....

As I read the papers this morning, my heart fell to pieces; yet another innocent child has been lost to a despicable, violent act; and as a parent, I am left wondering what the world has come to and about the safety of my own child. I fought back tears as I read that 18-month old Hareswarra was murdered by someone his family had trusted – their former babysitter’s husband.

Why? Why on earth did this have to happen?

It seems that in the 10 minutes that the toddler was with the man, the little one was beaten and physically abused so severely that he succumbed to his injuries upon arrival at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre. Worse still, this heartbreaking news comes barely a week after the nation was shook by reports on the death of three-year-old Syafia Humairah Sahari at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. Post-mortem results revealed that like little Hareswarra, Syafia had suffered internal injuries and bleeding, as well as bruises and scratches to her body.

Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve heard of a Malaysian woman’s boyfriend murdering her child. In October 2009, a Sudanese man was accused of sexually and physically abusing, as well as murdering the three-year-old daughter of his girlfriend. The little girl died from her injuries when she was brought to Kajang Hospital after falling into a coma. Perhaps even more shockingly, the girl’s mother abetted in the murder by lodging a police report citing her domestic helper had tortured her daughter.

It would certainly seem that some women would care more deeply for their good-for-nothing boyfriends than their own flesh and blood, and this case is a painful reminder of the needless death of four-year-old Shearwey Ooi Ying Ying, who was also killed by her mother’s boyfriend. In an effort to conceal the murder, the girl’s body had been the burnt, and her bone fragments scattered in at least four different places. Shearwey’s mother, who had earlier made an impassioned plea to the public to help find her daughter, was later found to have helped her boyfriend dispose of her body.

There is simply no explanation that would make any sort of sense for such horrible acts of cruelty. Instead, we are left to grapple with the harsh reality that such irrational acts of violence against defenseless children continue to happen, and way too frequently. As a mother, I can’t help but be paranoid. It would seem that we can’t trust anyone anymore.

I also think that women need to wise up and protect their children, instead of their abusive, pathetic-excuse-for-a-human-being husbands or boyfriends. I feel that the law should actively remove children from their unfit parents. Something must be done to prevent this from happening again.

Let us pray for all the children who’ve been lost, as well as for those who loved them. May they find some form of peace, and the strength to carry on. Let us pray that we will never have to read another report on the needless death of an innocent child ever again. Let us protect all children.

* Update 16 March 2010: Here's a link to the article on Venusbuzz.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting to know Aizam at 1.my

I did a spot of proofreading for 1.my today. Just click on the image above to check it out.

Where have I been? Time for a new start....

Hi guys. I know, it's been months since I last wrote a blog post and the main reason being, I haven't had much time to sit down, ...