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Creative Flavors

flavored teas

My quest for flavored teas brought me to two unusual ones.

I was intrigued when I saw the pineapple tea. When I sipped it, there was a slight taste of pineapple. On the one hand, I might prefer a stronger taste of the fruit. But on the other hand, I realize the complexity of blending pineapple flavor into tea, so that its sharp tang would not overwhelm.

Have you ever come across an odd pairing of flavors that sounds weird, but turns out to be a great combination? Well, the peppermint and English toffee tea is one such success story. (English toffee is a confection made from brown sugar and butter.)

The combination of mint and toffee creates a rich, refreshing blend.

Sun Seeker Cats

cats sunlightcat summer illustratiion

Romantic Rose

romantic roses illustration

Rosa

roses

Morning Sunlight

sunlight cats

The Artist

sharifah novel

 

Here’s an excerpt from my novel, set in Malaysia. Hope you enjoy it.

 

They walked slowly towards the house, taking in the greenery around them. The garden felt expansive. Four sturdy trees looked like sentinels guarding the house. One looked like a mango or kuini tree. The fruits were still small and green. It was hard to tell. Another was a rambutan tree. The red fruits dangled from the branches, like rubies playfully hiding away in their hideout.

Oh look at that rambutans,” Jee whispered excitedly. “We have to ask Zain if we can pluck some.”

The house came into view, and Nora saw a traditional Malay house on stilts. A wooden staircase painted cream, flanked by two brown pots of bird’s nest fern, led up to the verandah. From a large window on the right side of the house, Zain popped his head. “Glad you found your way. Welcome.” His voice rang from the higher level of the house. It sounded like an echo to Nora.

He led them pass the small verandah into to the living room. Furniture was minimal here – just a sofa, a coffee table and a small bookcase. One side of the living room was bare, but there were several Malay pandanus mats in beige and pastel pink shades spread on the floor. Two big cushions were thrown on the mat. On the wall above the mats, hung a painting, Zain’s presumably, of two stylised red flowers. The deep shades of the paintings accented the colors of the mats.

As though reading her thoughts, Zain said, “Please excuse the unconventional arrangement of the room. I like to read, rest, on the mats. More comfortable for me.”

He showed them around the house. He told them that the rumah ibu, the main section had four bedrooms. But Zain had knocked down two bedrooms and converted the area into the kitchen. He explained that the kitchen was previously on the lower level of the house, in the old style of Malay houses. “It’s called rumah dapur, the kitchen house. Interesting isn’t it, the language of our forefathers.”

They walked down a short flight of wooden steps into a huge open area. “So, the kitchen is no longer a kitchen. But has become my studio, where I work every day. Well. almost every day.” Zain said, as though expecting them to appreciate it. Nora could hear the pride, or was it joy, in his voice.

The walls were painted white and the floor was tiled with big, light cream tiles. Splashes of colors were added by the paintings hung on the walls and some stacked against a wall, as well as a variety of paints and brushes on a table.

The three of them, never having been in an artist’s studio before, didn’t really know what to say. “That’s good. You have a nice area to work in,” Jee said. She and Mak Cik walked towards the steps to go back to the main section of the house, followed by Zain.

Nora lingered, curious about an easel with a big canvas on it, situated close to a wall. Nora moved closer and saw that Zain had started just on one spot at the bottom of the canvas. They were strong strokes of blue. She tried to imagine the completed painting. She wondered what kind of painting he already had in mind. Then she realised the rest had left and she made a move to join them. As she turned towards the staircase, she noticed the wide window in the studio. Something drew her to it. She looked out and saw the merry cluster of banana trees, its leaves glistening emerald and bright.

Fish Food

fish and food cartoon

Cartoon courtesy of Woman’s World.

Bloom


hong kong orchid

The Hong Kong Orchid tree, a favorite of the hummingbirds, in full springtime bloom.

Nature

plants near water

Art/Reality

lemons painting fruits