Archive for April, 2012

splendid hibiscus

The hibiscus, a tropic plant, grows well in southern California. I like the way the bold hues energize the garden.

The hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia.

Read Full Post »

nostalgia and washing clothes

The clothes were scrubbed against the washboard to remove the stains and grime.

indigoHow nice it is to drop a load of laundry in the washing machine, then go back to the book or TV, relax, while the laundry is being done! In the days before washing machines were affordable and widespread, lots of elbow grease were required on laundry day. Here’s an except from my upcoming book “Kampung Memories”:

“In those days, laundry was done manually or completely by hand. Washing machines were not in the picture at all. Most households had a person designated to do all the laundry, or often a washer-woman offered her service to the households.

The woman would come to the house several times week to do the laundry. I remember we once had a washer-woman who was quite a fascinating character. She was a stout lady, friendly but did not talk much. She often rolled a cigarette after she had done her washing, stood with one hand on her hips and smoked while seemingly lost in her thoughts. Even as a kid, I could see that she was a tough lady, not easily intimidated or ordered around.

One of the laundry items that caught my attention and imagination as a child was nila or indigo, a product that makes white clothes whiter and brighter. At that time, not only schoolchildren wore white shirts and blouses, many men also wore white shirts to work.

Nila was sold as a blue-colored soap bar. You cut a small slice and mixed it in a pail of water. It would turn the water a bright blue, and I enjoyed waiting for that “magical” moment. The white clothes which had been washed would be dipped in the blue water for a final rinse, then hung on the clothesline to dry.”

Read Full Post »

good for you chocolates

I never thought that I would actually reach out for dark chocolate.

Sometimes, self-deception can be good for you. I mean, for small things. Like food that is supposed to be good for us.

We’ve all been encouraged to eat healthy. And something that is good for us is antioxidant, a substance or nutrient that can protect body cells from the damaging effects of oxidation. Besides fruit and vegetables, experts say that dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants.

It used to be that dark chocolate comes mainly in bars, with a taste that’s not really inspiring. But in the recent years, our favorite chocolates are also available in dark chocolate version. And they taste pretty good, too.

So now, when I reach out for that bar of Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, or a box of Dark Chocolate Raisinets, I tell myself that I’m doing something good for my health.

Read Full Post »