Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Makan-makan Lagi

One of the things that I had to get used to when staying here in Holland is the "kehadiran" a lot of visitors. It is wonderful to have families and friends visiting us, unfortunately none of our close friends and family have yet to come here. Most of the visitors (like 95%) of them I never met or heard of in my life. Some were colleagues and friends of DH, while others were complete strangers to us !!!

To be honest, having strangers in the house makes me very uncomfortable. I feel so stressed sometimes and yet I could not unwind or put up my legs at night because the house is no longer mine. There are times when I feel that our lives here is such like a roller coaster, always eventful. Private moments at home during weekends are few and far between.

Recently, we had 9 visitors arriving from Malaysia. A family of five, a husband and wife and a mother and son. They arrived on 20th March and went back on the 26th. On the 24th March we had 3 more visitors joining us. Two were staying at a hotel (they preferred it that way :D), while the other one, we squeezed him in the small computer/solat room. Normally we never had that many visitors at any one time. We try to avoid overlapping of visitors, but this time the group of 9 had made last minute changes. Luckily they went back on Saturday and not Sunday as one of them had claimed, otherwise they had to find other alternatives because we had already planned on going for an overnight stay at Antwerp on the 26th.

No of bags... belum campur kotak2 yang dibawa lagi !!

Upon arrival.... the group of 9

A simple lunch of fried rice and omelette.

Since there were so many of them, we decided to have barbecue and satay on Friday night. We also invited DH's colleague and her family and another friend. It must be the earliest barbecue event in the area since it's not yet summer, where people normally have barbecues !!!

Barbecue - chicken and lamb

Chicken and beef satay...

Since I did not have to prepare and cook them, I totally supported the barbecue idea !!! The chicken was marinated by DH's colleague, the lamb was marinated by DH, the satay was ordered from the well known Malaysian lady here in The Hague. I did not have to do anything.... :D But I did contribute by making the fried rice....

Laden with food....

Another angle - just to show my fried rice :D

Since I was feeling generous, I made the deserts too - puding kastad (corn custard pudding), serimuka and apam gula hangus.

Apam gula hangus - steamed caramelised cake

Serimuka - traditional Malaysian sweet cake, the bottom part is made from glutinous rice.

This was my second attempt at serimuka in two weeks. I still couldn't get the right combination for the upper green layer. My late grandmother used to make it with very soft top layer. When you cut them, they sometimes did not look tidy but it was so delicious !!!

And last, we made ikan bakar specially to the Acik visitor who had high blood pressure !!! Poor Acik had to spend 2 days at the house so that she recovered from her headache. It seemed that her blood pressure had risen !!!

Ikan bakar...

I'm looking forward to April visitors.... because for the first time I have my own friends coming over.... HOOORAAAY !!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My First Tulip

This blog shall be a gardening blog for a little while.... I couldn't help it. The weather is so lovely now and we have lots of spring flowers crop up which I have no idea of their names. And I do want to write about them, but by the time I do it they are all "old and basi" stuff. Time is of the essence, and I do not seem to have them nowadays....

My knee was getting better in the last couple of weeks, so I presumed there were no side effects from the fall, but yesterday I had difficulties walking... the muscles in the calf and thigh were stiff and I started to feel backache from the uneven walking. But today, it seems better, alhamdulillah. But I really need to have it massaged, that's what people are advising me....

Let's get back to my spring flowers and in particular, to my tulips. To my surprise, one of the tulip varieties have started to bloom 10 days ago.... isn't that wonderful !!! The funny thing is the leaves are only a few inches long. I wondered whether the bulb was planted too deep in the soil. I checked, but it was not, so it must be the shorter variety afterall.

My first bloom - picture taken on 14th March

It's only as high as a crocus !!!

The second one is coming out... :D

Finding two blooms in one day was a heady experience.... but I had a nice surprise too.

A white crocus !!!

A single white crocus had appeared not far from the first tulip. Looking from afar, I thought it was a tulip....

Pure white - It has only 3 leaves

By now 4 more tulips of the same variety have bloomed. The mini keukenhof that I dream of might be a bit far-fetched and ridiculous though :D For one thing, between one tulip to another, there are space, and then I thought, more leaves will come out and the long leaves will help to cover the soil and space in between... just like the clumps of tulips that I found in the garden before, but it does not happen that way :D

Oh well.... there are still time. Somebody told me that these tulips will flower in April. Let us wait and see.... Ohhh.. by the way Keukenhof is officially opened today :D

Monday, March 21, 2011


While searching for the crocus the other day, I was delighted to find two clumps of "tulpen" at two different locations in the garden. They must have been planted there by the previous occupants of the house. In case anyone is wondering, tulpen in dutch means tulips. To my surprise they looked much bigger, greener and healthier than our grown ones !!!

I wonder what colour they will be.....

We had planted about 800 of tulip bulbs towards the end of November last year. It was our second attempt in the Netherlands, with the first attempt almost a complete failure due to ignorance and sheer stupidity :D You might want to read the story of that never to forget experience here :D Being a dreamer that I am, of course I am hoping that our tulips will grow into a Mini Keukenhof, where naturally all the Bollywood stars wannabe could have a chance to practice their sexy little zumba dance :D

It seems to be a difficult beginning for my dear tulips. Two days after the bulbs were planted, it snowed !!! For the first time in the year !!! Can you imagine that... in November !!! And it was rather a heavy snow !!! I worried the condition of our bulbs, the soil had yet to settle around them and the snow might somehow damage the precious bulbs. Sometime in early February, to my horror I found a dear blogger Ravishing In Red who was currently staying somewhere in UK, had posted an entry showing her tulip and it was already a few inches high !! Mine had yet to show their first leaf !!!

But finally, they show up :D

The soil looks a bit dry... maybe that's why they are slow in coming out hmmm...

Another section, with different type of tulips. The leaves are striped, maybe the flowers will have stripes too...

Up close

I like this one :D

All of the above pictures were taken on 11th of March. Some leaves had opened up and yet others were still tightly closed.... They seem to be a longggg way from flowering. I wonder how the tulips at Keukenhof are doing. It's been a wonderful beginning for spring, sunny and not windy and not too cold. I hope it remains that way and I sure hope my tulpen will turn out allright.


Friday, March 18, 2011


Hoorayyy.... my very own crocuses !!! Purple crocuses !!!!!

Aren't they beautiful ??

Ever since I saw the crocuses on the big roundabout (not far from DS's school) on the 5th of March, I have been anxiously looking around my house looking for any signs of them. It's not easy to locate, the leaves look just like grass. Finally, on March 11th, I found them on my doorstep (well.. practically anyway...).

Around 10 a.m. on 11th March - still tightly bloomed...

Look at the leaves... just like grass and it's only about 3/4 inches high.

On the 13th March

On the 14th, around 4 p.m.

From above

That's the only crocuses that I have in the garden. Only a single group of them.... but their bright purple colour is surely a sight for sore eyes, truly beautiful... Subhanallah

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kun Ik Take Fotos....

When is spring officially starts?

According to WikiAnswers, spring comes in between the 19th to the 23rd of March every year. It changes on a yearly basis depending on when is the (Spring) Vernal Equinox. This is when the sun is directly above the equator and considered as the first official day of spring. From one of the website, I understand that spring this year shall officially start on the 20th March.

Some people say that spring has come when you start seeing snowdrops. So I started looking for signs of snowdrops when the weather did not look like it's going to freeze again. It's not easy to find it in my area. I read that in some countries snowdrops are protected species and people are forbidden to take the bulbs from the wild.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that some clumps of small plants (slightly higher than the grass) had started flowering at a neighbour's compound. I wondered whether they were snowdrops. I couldn't really see from the road. But I was sure it must be it, even if it wasn't, it looked so nice I wanted to take pictures of it. I wonder whether I had the nerve to walk up the pathway, ring the bell and asked their permission.

Last Friday, when I slowly walked (due to my hurt knee ) DS to school, I noticed that the flowers were not as fresh as before. No wonder, I had already seen crocus blooming on the big roundabout the week before, so it must be time for the snowdrops to drop out of scene. On the way back home, I saw an old Dutchman outside the house, ahaa... this is my chance. I hesitantly approached the old man and said...

"Goede morgen, kun ik.... kun ik take fotos.... err bloemen?" (please excuse my dutch, in fact I was not sure I said it right).

The old man smiled... "Yeah" and launched into meaningless jumble of words.... "***&&&%%%$$###@@@***." From his smiling face, I thought he said yes.

Encouragingly I said "Ohh... it's lekker.... Ik live here...." pointing my finger in the general direction of my house, my mind was thinking furiously and searching for dutch words to explain to him, when he said....

"Do you speak English?"


What a relief.... I thought old Dutch people do not speak English. That's what they said, the very young and the very old Dutch do not speak English.

"Take as much as you want, they are not in their prime anymore, but go ahead", he said.

Thanking him, I slowly made my way and took some pictures. It's not easy... because I still couldn't bend my right knee :D At one time, I nearly fell.... but it was worth it.

I still couldn't be sure, but I think they are snowdrops and not their relative snowflakes.

carpets of snowdrops

From across the canal

A single clump of snowdrops

Snowdrop - picture from mr Wiki
I think they are the same - snowdrops

Life is beautiful. . . .  Subhanallah

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sudah Jatuh Ditimpa err....Basikal

Update : Ni masih cerita yang sama.....cuma tukar tajuk je (ada juga orang yang buat keje ni), TQ to mama cats :D

Ni nak cerita suatu kisah yang dah basi....

Kata orang kesusahan tu datang "bertiga" (ehh...ehh... betul ke ni, selalunya mak sebut kematian selalunya berlaku secara bertiga/berturut-turut..., pandai pulak IA menambah he...he...). Cerita ni taklah teruk pun, cuma kadang2 kita rasa seperti bertimpa2 kesusahan yang kita hadapi tu... Nak kata susah sangat pun tak juga... cuma satu pengajaran pada IA.

Selepas balik dari bercuti di Prague 2 minggu yang lalu, kami mendapati rumah kami dimasuki pencuri. Sedih tak terkata, bukan saja duit, seurat dua barang kemas yang diambil, 2 laptop dan external hard disk pun dikebasnya juga. Selain dari gambar2 kenangan manis kami di sini, dalam laptop tu ada juga repot yang IA dah mula taipkan untuk satu persatuan yang IA masuk (terpaksa masuk :D) di sini. Nampaknya terpaksalah IA menaip semula repot berkenaan bermula dari awal. Nak dijadikan cerita, selepas tetamu kami balik pada hujung minggu berkenaan, IA tak sihat, demam, selsema, sakit tekak dan sebagainya. Jadi, tertunda lagilah repot berkenaan. Bila umur menjangkau 40an ni, demam sikit pun badannya amatlah letih tak terkata... Jenuh IA minum ubat buatan sendiri berhari2, pagi dan petang agar demam dan sakit tekak cepat hilang. Walaupun sakit, tapi hati taklah risau sangat sebab repot tu cuma perlu ditaip semula. Mesyuarat yang perlu IA hadiri bersama repot berkenaan akan dibuat pada hari Jumaat, sempat lagi... Pada hari Rabu IA pun mulalah membuka komputer yang ada dan cuba menaip tapi gagal, nak "transfer" maklumat dari CD ke komputer pun tak boleh. Seharian IA cuba... tapi tak boleh juga. Rupanya komputer tu tak ada valid software dari microsoft. DH sengaja tak masukkan, sebab hanya DS yang guna komputer tu untuk main "game".

Keesokan harinya, IA cuba "download trial software" dari microsoft, tapi gagal juga. Rupanya baru2 ni, DH dah pun berbuat demikian dan tempoh percubaannya dah pun tamat. Dalam situasi berkenaan, IA cuba pinjam laptop kawan, alhamdulillah dia berjanji akan membawanya apabila kami mengambil anak masing2 dari sekolah. Dalam perjalanan ke sekolah pada petangnya, sambil mengayuh basikal tua yang IA ada, otak IA berlegar2, hati sebenarnya dah mula risau, apa jadi kalau laptop kawan ni tak dapat diguna?? Tak dapat IA nak bayangkan, terpaksa menalipon Naib Presiden persatuan berkenaan dan memberitahu repot tak sempat ditaip!!!! Dalam keadaan otak yang berserabut tu... IA perasan yang basikal tu dah termasuk ke dalam longkang (cetek je, bukan longkang dalam pun). Cuma disebabkan IA tak fokus, IA membuat kesilapan cuba mengayuh keluar dari longkang berkenaan. Sepatutnya IA berhenti dan turun !!! Tapi IA buat kerja yang tak masuk diakal ni, maka apa lagi, tayar basikal pun bergesel dengan dinding longkang yang licin tu dan KEDEBUP jatuhlah IA tersungkur. Malunya tak terkata, apa lagi depan sekolah pula. Nasib baik tak ada orang, cuma seorang parent dan seorang pakcik tua Belanda :D Setelah dibantu oleh ibu beranak dua yang perihatin tu, IA pun terjengkek-jengkek berjalan ke sekolah. Lutut kanan semakin sakit.... semakin lama berjalan, semakin sakit jadinya..... Macam tak percaya IA jatuh basikal, seingat IA, IA tak pernah jatuh basikal dengan sendirinya.... kecuali jatuh ketika dibawa oleh abang dan mak semasa IA kecil dulu. Perjalanan pulang kerumah mengambil masa hampir 45 minit berjalan kaki.... gara-gara basikal dah tak boleh dinaiki sebab lutut dah tak boleh dibengkokkan. Nak duduk kat tandas pun susah, alahai.... Tapi IA nekad, repot mesti disiapkan juga malam tu. Tepat jam 9 malam bermulalah operasi menaip repot dan ianya habis pada awal paginya (almaklum, kepantasan IA menaip adalah seperti kura-kura berjalan, dahla tu laptop tu pulak teramatlah sensitif, dengan ketiadaan tetikus lagilah ia proses yang semakin lambat.....). Tapi IA tetap bersyukur dengan kehadiran laptop yang dipinjam dari S tu :D

Esoknya pula, terpaksa pula berjalan kaki (biasanya tak sampai 10 minit pun) ke metro dan kemudian tukar naik tram dan selepas tu berjalan lagi (pun tak sampai 10 minit juga kebiasaannya) untuk menghadiri mesyuarat yang teramat penting tu. Selepas menghantar DS ke sekolah, DH terpaksa keluar kawasan jadi tak dapat nak tolong. Nak tumpang orang lain yang ada kereta, susah pula sebab IA terpaksa pergi awal nak "print" repot dan buat salinan. Jadi terpaksalah IA berjalan perlahan2 dengan lutut kanan yang sakit ni. Lutut kiri IA yang sememangnya sedikit lemah sebelum ni, terpaksa menahan berat badan dan semakin menjadi sakit terutama apabila IA menaiki tangga. Kalaulah mesyuarat tu mesyuarat bulanan yang biasa, memang IA tak akan hadir, tapi ini mesyuarat PENTING, kalau IA tak datang nanti orang kata IA sengaja nak ngelat pulak. Hai terpaksala datang juga. Tapi memang IA berharap, tak perlu pergi ke mesyuarat tu, kalau tak pergi, tentu tak dipilih memegang jawatan kan??? Dan sememangnya IA tak mahu pegang apa-apa jawatan..... Tapi nak buat macam mana... kecualilah IA terdampar kat bilik hospital... ha... barulah ada alasan untuk tidak menghadiri mesyuarat !!!!

Hujung minggu berkenaan terpaksalah IA duduk kat rumah sementara DH membawa kawan beserta anak terunanya yang datang dari Moscow pergi berjalan-jalan ke Volendam, Amsterdam dsbnya. Sedih... sebab sebenarnya IA nak "recapture" semula gambar2 yang hilang tu.

Nak dijadikan cerita DS pula dihantar pulang dari sekolah pada hari Isnin tu sebab demam, jadi duduklah kami berdua melayani demam dan sakit lutut ni hingga hari Jumaat. DS terlebih rehat dirumah sebab maknya masih sakit lutut dan tak nak berjalan bertongkatkan payung untuk menghantarnya ke sekolah he..he..he...... DH pula masa tu dah pun ke Berlin bersama kawannya yang datang dari Moscow tu untuk menghadiri urusan pejabat. Alhamdulillah, hari ni lutut dah kurang sakit, dah pun boleh berjalan ambil DS dari sekolah :D

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Robin The Bird

One of the wonderful things that I like about living in Netherlands is the existence of animals be it birds, ducks and swans that freely roam the ground looking for food and happily swimming in the canals. I am a "kampung" girl and I love nature and greens. I did not expect to find it here in Amsterdam and The Hague, but I was pleasantly surprised.

I have lived in 3 places now and even in the centre of Amsterdam, ducks and swans are easily spotted. Even the canals have fish in them. I had seen a big fish, at least a foot long and longer than the ducks, unfortunately it was a dead fish floating in the water and that was how I know how big it was, because the ducks were feeding on it. At one time, at my previous house in Amstelveen, I spotted and managed to capture a picture of a hedgehog (it had spiky things like a porcupine). Can you imagine that... it was not a wooded area at all, there was only a little bush and I walked by the place everyday to the school and to the supermarket.

Here at my current house, I like to watch for birds and wild rabbits. The birds are always there in my garden looking for food. There are red robbins, green robins and the normal brown ones. There are pigeons and also black birds with white wings. This black and white birds look like "burung gagak" to me. At one time there were a lot of bright green birds, at least 25 of them (yes I tried to count) and these birds were sitting on the tree right in front of the kitchen window. The amazing thing is I was sure they were parrots because of the beaks. I could be wrong of course, afterall what do I know about birds anyway, but they sure looked like one. I saw them for a few days, then they dissappeared, maybe they were migrating somewhere.

Red robin - picture courtesy of Mr Google

The red robins at the house are not as bright as this one though :D It is very difficult to get pictures of them, they are very wary of the slightest movement.

Yellow robin - from Mr Google

But the ones at the house look more bright green rather than yellow.
Hoping to entice them to make a nest around our house we bought this bird house a few months back and hang it on the apple tree. I have seen them going in and out but they never stay put. Every once in a while, we put leftover bread or biscuit for them.

DS putting pieces of biscuits in the bird house a few days ago, hoping to entice them to make a nest. We haven't given up yet.

The bird house

And look who has come calling today........

A white pussy cat is paying a visit !!!!

No wonder the robins do not want to stay there..... As much as I would love to get my hands on your white fur (for the right reason, mind you...), don't you dare come close to my birds again...


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam

I did some searching in the remaining computer not taken by the thief, and I was so glad that I found some pictures in there, not many, but at least it was something. Most of the photos were taken by DH but some were taken by me while there were some which were transferred from our friends' cameras. I never knew those pictures were in there, alhamdulillah I found them. But I still mourn the lost of the disk and the pictures inside :(

While going through the pictures, I found this photo taken in Amsterdam on new year day 2011.


I remember that day, we went there with the intention of bringing DS to the Nemo Museum, a science museum. Never did we realise that the museum was closed on a new year day!!! So we ended walking and taking beautiful pictures along the routes that we never did go before. My camera ran out of battery when we reached this place, and I asked DH to take this photo using his camera. That's why I still have this photo :D

This place is not alien to me. I lived in a temporary apartment about 200 meters from that castle looking building for three months. But I never knew what that building was, I searched last night for it but couldn't locate the name, somehow it is not in the map of Amsterdam, not one of the attractions anyway.

Right in front of the building is a square, every Saturday morning there will be a bio market (aka pasar tani) there. All products sold are bio products, so naturally they are more expensive. At one corner of the square (looking at the picture, it's on my right hand) is the Oriental Supermarket where I bought all my asian goodies including "tahu" and "tempe". On the same side, overlooking the canal is the Fish Market (mostly frozen), but it is more of a shop rather than a market. On another side of the square, is an Albert Heinz Supermarket, very convenient. On the left of the picture, on the opposite side of the canal from the Fish Market is a Nyonya Restaurant (Penang born owner). They serve very yummy char-koey-teow.

The place is actually located not 150 meters from the Old Church. One of the streets from behind the "castle" leads you to Chinatown, and behind the Nyonya Restaurant and the "castle", along the smaller canal is the famous Red Light District already !!! Yes, I used to live a single street away from the Red Light District and never realised it until one day we (DS and I) got lost and stumbled upon it !!!

I always like the scene from the bridge with the background of that "castle". On a calm day, the reflection of the "castle" is very clearly seen in the water, simply beautiful.... Depending on the season and the weather, you will get beautiful picture, imagine the trees with yellow and brown leaves.... aarrghh wonderful :D

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Life Moves On

As I mentioned earlier, we had a break in at our house. We found out about it as soon as we got home from a holiday on Thursday night on the 24th February. The police came that very night and they came again the following day. They mentioned that a forensic team would also come on the same day to get some marks or fingerprints left by the thief(es). They cautioned not to tamper or touch smooth surface that the thief(es) might have touched. I waited, but the forensic team never turned up....

I had visitors arriving on that Friday evening, two families staying over the weekend and in between us we had five children in the house. How to ensure the kids from touching the crime area? I had no idea. As it happenned, the team never arrived, probably would not come at all in the future. If they do, they would probably find smaller fingerprints on some of the area :D

It was a lousy weekend, for the very reason that it had been raining from Saturday morning until Sunday night. The poor kids had to play in the house, they could not even play football outside. We planned to bring them to the kids farm not very far from the house, but that too had to be cancelled. But the kids never really bothered, they still had fun in the house :D

Being couped up in the house means we ended up eating all the time. What to do? Rain, rain, cold and cold, so we eat, eat and eat !!! On Saturday we had "laksa" for lunch with "puding jagung" and "talam keladi" for dessert (both made by my visitor B). To those who are not familiar with Malaysian cooking, "laksa" is a type of rice noodle and it is eaten with gravy or soup-like dish made from fish (here we use mackerel). The gravy tastes a bit sour and also spicy due to the chilli added.

Laksa and the vegetables that goes with it...

B's husband and child tucking in the "laksa" :D

That night we had "nasi daging", acar timun and air asam for dinner and B's husband was showing his cooking expertise by making "sup tulang merah". We had a birthday celebration too, Ikhwan turned 11 that day, and we had a simple party for him. Happy birthday Ikwan, may Allah bless you always and please come again :D

Birthday boy in the middle.

Sup tulang merah...

On Sunday, we had special lunch prepared by B and her husband "nasi laha mandi"(hope I spell it right) and "roast beef". The menu was of Palestine origine I believe.

Tomato puree mixture to marinate the piece of meat

The meat stuffed with rosemary, thyme, dill and arsley(I think) , before being marinated with the mixture above.

The end result... I forgot to take picture of the roast beef before it was cut, so had to do with this one :D

And we had "kuih keria" (again made by B, thank you dear) and "masalode" or "vade" made by me for dessert. "Kuih keria" was a request from me and "masalode" was a request from B's husband :D

Kuih keria, made from sweet potato and glazed with sugar.

Masalode, made from dhal.