A Taste of Hong Kong At Sheng Kee

SK 1UThere’s something about a bowl of oriental dessert that is comforting to the core of our Chinese stomachs. Perhaps it’s about growing up as a Malaysian Chinese that just links all of our childhood memories to the warm bowl of sweet red bean dessert (ang dow zhui) served in the old soup bowl that mom cooked for us after dinner which spoke of her devotion and doting love for us. Perhaps it’s all in the magic of having something to enjoy which brings back the memories of different places we travelled to, their sights and sound, and certainly the distinctive flavours they are known for.

What they serve at Sheng Kee, in a gist.

What they serve at Sheng Kee, in a gist.

Because one of our relatives has moved to Hong Kong, the little pearl of the orient is by now a regular travel destination for the happiest little family. We must have been travelling there once every one to two years since 2009 when I first visited HK for work purpose and subsequently brought the kids along to enjoy its cool weather from October to December. Naturally, anyone who has been to Hong Kong has had a dim sum or Cantonese-styled noodles. And anyone who has a sweet tooth has had at least a bowl of Hong Kong styled mango desserts at some point to beat the sweltering heat of its summer months.

The reason we have not gone broke from all the air fares is because of this simple philosophy that “desperate food craving time call for desperate but cheap measures”. This translates to getting our fix locally. Yes honey, you really don’t have to fly all the way to HK just to get a taste of its authentic flavours. The answer lies in Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert @ One Utama (drumrolls, please, I feel super-smart already).

Sheng Kee Braised Pork Rice served with Mui Choy is a filling, hearty dish prepared using the freshest ingredients and slowly cooked to perfection to seal in the flavour.

Sheng Kee Braised Pork Rice served with Mui Choy is a filling, hearty dish prepared using the freshest ingredients and slowly cooked to perfection to seal in the flavour.

Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert, which has 18 successful outlets in Singapore, has opened their first outlet right here at One Utama Shopping Centre last year to introduce and create the same buzz surrounding Hong Kong snacks and desserts at its outlet located at LG Floor Oval (New Wing) here.

With more than 60 tempting items on the menu, there are plenty of choices for foodies hunting down Hong Kong style desserts, snacks as well as authentic Cantonese noodles and rice dishes prepared with quality ingredients by an authentic Cantonese chef and his dedicated local kitchen team.

Sweetened by Phillipines Mango and the tangy crunch of juicy Pomelo, this SK Mango Pomelo Sago is a summer delight.

Sweetened by Phillipines Mango and the tangy crunch of juicy Pomelo, this SK Mango Pomelo Sago is a summer delight.

Last week, this happiest little family decided to give some of the popular dishes featured at the outlet a try, because we will not be planning for a trip to HK anytime soon and the 25% Cantonese gene in me which is inherited from my maternal grandma was craving for a mango dessert somehow (blame it on the work stress but someone wise did say that desserts is stressed spelled backwards, and I was ready to prove him right).

sk food

Pumpkin Mei-Mei loves her dessert!

Unlike most food outlets on the streets of Hong Kong which are quite cramped and hushed due to the way Hongkies have made space efficiency and productivity a business priority, Sheng Kee outlet at One Utama is comfortably bright and spacious, with much room for sharing of food among family and friends, and the waiting service was satisfactory. We even find the lady supervisor who tended to us that night extremely friendly and would even explain how most of the dishes were prepared to us patiently.


SK Double combination noodle features Cha Siew amd fresh prawn dumplings that is a favourite classic at Sheng Kee.

With her recommendations, we ordered a good range of savoury and desserts for our dinner and ended the night on a pleasant note. Our favourites include the Crispy Salmon Skin With Meat Floss for starter, SK Signature Combination Noodle (a must-try if you are one who loves chasiew and dumplings served with fresh crisp egg noodles), the fluffy and delicately yummy snowy-bun

Sheng Kee's Snowy Cha Siew Bun is baked in a fluffy bun crust that is unlike any buns I have ever tasted.

Sheng Kee’s Snowy Cha Siew Bun is baked in a fluffy bun crust that is unlike any buns I have ever tasted.

and its yuan-yang paste which is a clever mix of sesame paste served in intricate balance with sweet almond paste, both known for longevity and beauty in Chinese ancient belief.

Yuan Yang Paste

Yuan Yang Paste

With all the stresses busted, we proved that HK desserts did do a good job in comforting the core of our Chinese stomachs. I know, because the SK Pomelo Mango Sago desserts that were ordered by me were finished by the 3 happiest little people in less than the time for me to say “enjoy it, kids”. I should have known. But oh well, that’s what a mother need to sacrifice for, all in the name of love.


SWEET TREATS ARE FOR SHARING! Sheng Kee is having a special promotion now just for you. Take this simple steps:

1) Like the Sheng Kee Facebook  at 


2) VISIT Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert @ One Utama and ORDER their favourite mains (try the signatures or anything else!) 

3) Get 1 FREE SK Mango Pomelo Sago with each main course ordered – tell the wait staff “Sweet treats with Sheng Kee” upon settling the bill to claim this. 

Baby B digged right into the SK Mango Pomelo Sago dessert that was supposed to be mine. :)

Baby B digged right into the SK Mango Pomelo Sago dessert that was supposed to be mine. 🙂

*This is an exclusive sweet treat just for your friends and followers! Offer expires 31 May 2015.

*To keep to the authentic Hong Kong flavour, the casual dining restaurant is presently not halal.

Notes From An Interviewer

His face got so tensed that I could tell that he was trying to fight his teeth from coming out to bite my head off my neck. “Third girl in the last 2 weeks! What can I say of you? Third girl resigned from your team in a matter of 2 weeks!” Gosh. I hate it when my boss repeat something twice in a sentence. It sounds super awful.

“That I am an inspiring leader?” I tried to lighten up the atmosphere in the boss’ room. He didn’t seem convinced. “And how is that so? Let me get this straight. One left because she found her aspiration to start writing a book after her travel to Tibet, and the second?” he asked.

“Oh she uhm… found the inspiration to start her own business after a trip to Melbourne.” I shook my head. “And the third lady?” He pressed on.

“That doesn’t even count. She is my staff but to be fair, she is from the client’s side, so technically under my team with our company… I mean your company, Sir, let’s just say that I have helped two persons discovered their passions for making a living elsewhere,” I defended. “Really, I do not think I am a horrible boss. There’s movie for it starring Jennifer Anniston but no, it’s certainly not inspired by me.”

“I am not saying that you are a horrible boss but with half of your team gone in a span of few weeks, I think that’s why you are stressed out and running thin. I don’t know how you are going to do it but my dear, you have about half a dozen projects to deliver in the next few months that I expect you get it delivered beyond my expectation. Get it? 6 projects until August. (See? He repeats serious stuff like twice, all the time!) I suggest you ask Jeannie to put up some recruitment ads to get a manager and a senior executive to assist you. Ok?” “Noted, boss.” I looked straight into his eyes and was grateful that help was on the way, at least with The Boss’s immediate instruction to the HR to get me some good staff.   960589386_09bbf2e6d8 And so I found myself sitting across the board room table from some interviewees in the last one month as I got in on the whole act of recruitment like a ball of energy mass to find my replacement team members. That was the exciting part and my story would have ended lovely here had I been more in touch with the mannerism and aspirations of some of these young job seekers. Obviously I am so out of touch that there are top six types of interviewees that absolutely drive me up the wall!

  • The Blurry

I had to run to another project site at 4.15pm. I stared at the office clock and nervously saw that it was already 3.15pm. “Jeannie, that Alice girl for the 3pm interview, is she coming or not?” I asked my colleague Jeannie, the HR Manager.

“Hmmm… Let me give her a call now and get back to you shortly.”

Five minutes later, Jeannie buzzed me from the intercom and said, “Guess what? Alice said she was so busy with her work that she had completely forgotten about the interview! She was asking if she could come see you this Saturday instead?”

I thought for a while and told Jeannie, “No, tell her that I may forget about her before the end of today!” 9227922133_c862915d95

  • The ME, ME & I King

He rattled off his success like stories from the Almanac of Successful People. “I accomplished this this and that too. It was all about me, myself and I. I led my team and achieved RM1 million in that SUPER successful case. I am so good and I am even better than the next 10 candidates you are interviewing for the rest of this week.”

Once he paused from his extremely illustrious stories, I asked him, “So is there anything else you would like to add on about your successes?”

“Yes, I am the best. The greatest. Period”. I thought to myself, Wow. And I never wanted to see him again. Period. 13771862765_03a8158ece

  • The Newbie Interviewee

What drives you?” I asked.

“I want to drive a BMW.” He replied without a slight hesitation.

Holding back my crazy laughter, I clarified politely, “I mean, what are the things that motivate you in life.”

“Oh, sorry I thought you asked me what car I wanted to drive.” 4709580506_cc6f3e0762

  • The Ambitious Sweet Young Thing

“Your goal in the next year?” I looked up to meet the eyes of the sweet young thing.

“I don’t know, may be… to be somebody in the company… like achieving the position of a director of the division by the time I am 25 years old and leading my own team of staff”

“But you have just graduated and you are only 23 years old, not trying to undermine your determination but what are the steps you will be taking to reach that goal within the next 1.5 years?”

“I don’t know but I am a quick learner. It’s like a very simple school project. I will get there irregardless.” 5228373874_056282e649

  • The Floater

“Is there any particular reasons you have jumped through 4 companies in the last 1.5 years?” I asked casually.

“Oh the first company gave me such low salary, so I left it and got 150% increment in the second job. But after 3 months I was angry that the new company gave me so much more work than the first one that I moved on to the third company. This time I thought I was lucky because work load was reduced but I got a bit bored and jumped ship again to my present company.”

“And the reason for moving on now?” I was clearly amused.

“Oh, just that I am not happy. My happiness is of utmost importance. I am looking forward to joining your company to find that happiness and fulfillment that were missing from all the bad companies that I have worked for.”

“I don’t think I can give you that. Job satisfaction comes from within yourself and if you have not been able to find that from your previous and present jobs, chances are we don’t store it in here too. Thanks for your time anyway. All the best to you as you find the ultimate happiness in your next job. Send my regards to it.” 117635854_385449ffa6

  • The Economist

“ What’s your present salary?” I glanced through his CV.

“RM4000 for basic and I have another RM500 for transportation allowance.” He replied politely.

“You are asking for RM7000 now. May I know the reason for asking such a big jump in your demand for the basic salary?”

“Oh I am planning to marry my girlfriend end of this year so my father in law asked me if I could afford to take care of his precious daughter. I told him I would find a new job that can pay for both of us so that my girlfriend could just stay home and take care of the 5 kids we plan to have.”

“Wow, that’s a very big increment in your salary and a great big plan there. Is this figure negotiable?”

“I am sorry, Miss, but I need this amount to marry my dream girl,” came the incredible reply from him.

“I am sorry, but then, this is not going to be the place to get your dream pay.” I stood up to bid my farewell to him.11901612346_36ca812923 …………………………………….

Believe it or not but I did eventually find 2 replacement out of the three vacancies that I need to fill. I tell myself that good staff are hard to come by but they are made harder when all we meet are rather strange, twilight-zone, young interviewees who make me feel like I have invaded a different planet altogether. As I continue to search for my third candidate, I keep myself sane with this mantra that…



    Photo Credit photo credit: N00/960589386″>てんつくマンとの対談 via photopin (license) photo credit: N06/9227922133″>177 // 365 – Splitting Headache // Rasender Kopfschmerz via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/5228373874″>OMG! via photopin (license) photo credit: N08/13771862765″>IMG_5217 via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/4709580506″>We had a fun day via photopin (license) photo credit: N05/11901612346″>CYMERA_20140110_114505 via photopin (license) photo credit: N00/228551283″>liwanag sa dilim via photopin (license)  

Aging Thoughts

There is a valid reason I haven’t visited my own blog for some time now. I have clocked in so many late nights at work in the last few weeks that aging and I got along famously. It used to be that I’d work a few late nights in a row and bounced right back after a cuppa but now it has been two cuppa and one nice rubdown at the soothing hands of my masseur and I still look frazzled.

As I come to the stark realisation that my body is no longer as enthusiastic as my mind and age is catching up inside, outside and everywhere, I just have to come up with my own list of…

You Know You Are Getting Older When:

1) You cut down half the amount of rice you consume at lunch but can still feel this hideous thing called FAT creepily swarm around your midsection even when you are so focused on typing on your keyboard.

2) At the drug store’s beauty shelve where you used to shop for anti-shine skincare for your skin that would break-out once a while in your 20s, you now shop DESPERATELY for anti-aging skincare for a very parched skin that just won’t shine no matter what you put on.

3) The annual visit to the Gynae is no longer about finding out about whether you are pregnant (again). He tells you bluntly that accidental pregnancy rarely happens for YOUR AGE. It’s also a necessity to go through the dreaded Mammogram and Pap Smear just to find out that you have survived another year of being disease-free.

4) You go shopping at your usual local fashions store and secretly curse the fashions buyer for having the audacity of promoting clothes meant for Kate Moss! You ask the store manager why the clothes there are getting smaller and instead of calling you Miss, she politely refers you as Ma’am and point you to a more “womanly” fashions store next to hers which you had sworn off at one point when you were younger that you would never wear THESE clothes lest you get called an Aunty. But sugar, what was once baggy, “womanly” clothes there at the “womanly” store now fit you like a glove!

5) The optician insists that your eye sight is not getting better just because you eat tonnes of carrots or goji berries everyday. You’d merely move from having near-sightedness to presbyopia.

6) You actually tune in to a local radio station that only blasts slow and easy songs from the 80s and 90s and think these are classics that come from a time when people really know what good music should sound like. You don’t really get what’s all the hypes surrounding One Direction or the song about what the fox says. Like hello, who cares what a fox says.

7) Instead of the casual, gentle and calm manner with which your doc advises you to take up an exercise AT LEAST three days a week, he suddenly sounds like a broken record that presses on the URGENCY of you doing any moderate form of exercise five days a week.

8) You put on your working pants and it feels so snug around the hips that you FINALLY believe the reading on your digital weighing scale (after complaining to your spouse that it has malfunctioned for over one year).

9) You and a bunch of younger colleagues go for a lunch date and you have almost finished chomping down half of your food when all these young earthlings ever did in the last five minutes were taking photos of their food to upload onto their Instagram and Facebook FIRST.

10) You start lecturing your kids and younger staff with these words, “When I was your age…” or, “During my time…”. Over and over again.

Not saying that I am very old or feel old all the time but I am just going to excuse myself for a little while as I need every minute from now on to get on some anti-aging secrets books and lifestyle changes to get back to my usual highs.

Ultimately laughter is the best medicine. May we live and make everyday count — let NOT our age define us. Stay healthy and jovial as always. Cheers!

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is so not for the faint-hearted (man of the house).

As we wind our way past rows after rows of fresh produce and meat stalls at our local wet market, Daddy Joe who was carrying a big heavy bag filled to the brim with our family’s one week supply of vegetables and fruits and another bag filled with chicken meats, meat balls, tofu and small pomfret fish, turned back and said to me, “Seriously, I always buy all these food for our kids but hardly get to eat them! I am starting to wonder if our food just vanished by itself while sitting inside the fridge!”

I laughed and tried to comfort my man, “Chill man, just chill, there are six of us in the house including our kakak (helper), and we eat at home every day except some weekends. OK, you sometimes eat out due to work but with three kids ranging from toddler to preteens, THESE could hardly justify the nutrition and energy they need to fuel their growth, k?”

Daddy Joe shook his head and said with great disbelief, “We must be living in an age of serious price hikes — RM60- RM80 every week, incredible! Or I must be buying food every week that can disappear from our fridge! And those chocolates I got for you during my last trip to Thailand, did you ever get to eat it? Or they too, can just disintegrate itself in the fridge?” he asked while shovelling Cheeky Koko’s favourite green beans that were dangling out of the plastic bag handles into the other bag and loaded everything into his boot.

“Yes I had some, but really darling, you should install a CCTV in the kitchen when we have some savings so that you can see it with your own eyes that Pumpkin Mei-Mei has been visiting the chocolate compartment quite regularly. Even Baby B knows how to open the fridge and grab the chocolate bars by standing tiptoe,” I explained.


Barely three days later, I came home in the evening victoriously while dragging a grocery bag full of energy-giving malt drinks, breakfast cereals, milk drinks, biscuits, wafer snacks, dried fruits and the longest bread loaf I could find from a sundry shop. As I chucked the bag onto the dining table, the kids gave me such affectionate hugs and fanfare welcome that one would have thought that it was the coronation of the Homecoming Queen in our happy land.

But the man of the house looked pale in silence. “I see we are going through some kind of severe food scarcity in this house,” he said. “Relax, dear, it’s the school holidays season! The kids will go famished very fast, so I bought a little snacks for them to munch on anytime of the day!” I said while happily stocking up my half-empty kitchen cabinets.

“I don’t think they ever feel hungry before, really, at the rate they clean up our shelves. If the wooden shelves or fridge can be eaten, they will eat them too, like termites!” Daddy Joe whispered into my ear, “…and may be this is why I am near poverty with these grocery bills!”

I laughed, thinking how wise God is to have decided that woman should always rule the heart of the home, which is the kitchen. Clearly a man’s place is in hunting or working, and NOT in grocery shopping!

Photo Credit:
photo credit: BC Gov Photos via photopin cc

A Smokey, Dusty Christmas Tale


It was not perfect but the kids saw Magic in our worn-out white Christmas tree!

I heard from the two older happiest little people that Vietnam experienced snowing a few weeks ago. “Mama, the earth is sick already, how can this part of our world experiences snowfall, what’s more in a tropical climate like ours where the sun is BIG and HOT?” The ever-perceptive Pumpkin Mei-Mei asked.

I put down the book I was reading about how to shine in one’s work place and stared out of the window thinking to myself that not just the weather of Vietnam but this Christmas is not quite right in this household too.

I was breathing dust like a vacuum cleaner the whole of last week working at a construction site from dawn to dusk, preparing the site to look reasonably good and acceptable for an event. And in the midst of buying the toilet rolls, fresheners, a water pail, sticking parking direction and signage and setting up all of the sound and light systems and acted as the emcee for the event, I had no time left to buy Christmas gifts or plan for Baby B’s 2nd birthday celebration and my anniversary with Daddy Joe.

Over the weekend, I took out my favourite baking recipe book that my sister got me for last year’s Christmas and thought I would bake some nice Christmas cakes and cookies for the little ones but oh, what a bummer! I forgot that my oven wasn’t working because just over a month ago, Pumpkin Mei-Mei had accidentally burned down my poor old oven! Our little drama started as she was pre-heating the oven when a small spark started tracing up a dangling rubber piece inside the oven which triggered a small fire that quite literally burned down the oven and shattered its tempered glasses all at once. It was absolute pandemonium for the next few minutes! After some panicky screams and dousing off the flames with water, the kids sat down laughing cleaning up the messed up kitchen which also left the entire apartment smelling of smoke as if a Thanksgiving dinner had gone overtly wrong.

We were supposed to fix the oven before Christmas but was told by the manufacturer that our unit was out of its warranty period, plus they no longer produced this model nor kept any of its parts anymore that they would gladly offer a trade-in for a new model at an additional RM1300, which Daddy Joe being the economist of the family was not willing to part with after he worked out the frequency math that his wifeythe working mom” had not touched the oven more than she had typed on the keyboard in a year which meant we would be stuck with a non-functioning oven for a while until Daddy Joe receives his great enlightening.

We wanted to get a real Christmas tree from Ikea just to deliver a magical Christmas atmosphere for the happiest little people but ended up recycling our white fake tree with really old ornaments because the working mama has barely survived a torturous working month that seemed no end to piling work and endless deadlines. Heck, I didn’t even have the time to take the small set to the mall to choose their own ornaments — a family tradition that we have observed since six, seven years ago!

So quite frankly, this is by far the lousiest Christmas I have ever had in the last 15 years of working or so. Even so, even so, I thank God for such things as a loving family that has supported me all the way through, although I have put in more efforts in decorating the work place than my own home or have had to answer to work-related phone calls more than calling home to chat with the kiddos this holiday season.

There is certainly no roasted turkey for entrée this year, no hot butter cookies in sight and the Christmas tree did not come bedecked in the most spectacular ornaments in our family room, but despite a less-than-perfect Christmas backdrop, our home is aglow with the love, joy and peace of the season. I may not be the most organised mommy out there but surely making them tree-shaped pancakes for the morning, followed by worshipping in the house of the Lord and playing Santa on Christmas Eve to make sure that each kid wakes up to his own special gift under the tree will more than make up for the other holiday traditions that are missing this Christmas.

If you are one of the guilty parents like yours truly, well fret not, you are right home with me! Cheer up, here’s a toast to all the little imperfections that make us PARENTS. 😀

Merry Christmas to you all! May the love and peace of our good Lord bring you and your loved ones everlasting joy!

Up Among The Stars


Pumpkin Mei-Mei looked into the starry night and when she found the biggest, brightest of the stars, she closed her teary eyes and whispered into the night, “Ah Ma, I really miss you, thanks for taking care of me and Koko. You are gone now but I know you will always be up there watching over us and God will take good care of you from now on.” With that, we all echoed, “Good bye, Ah Ma!” into the stars as a form of closure for all of us. Slowly, Daddy Joe drove out of the parking next to the playground we have driven to earlier for stargazing.

The rest of that night sometime in October 2008 was as silent as the grave as we rode in the car heading home, each lost in his or her own long trail of thoughts of what had been the worst 3 months we had experienced for which the word loss existed. For weeks, I couldn’t look into Daddy Joe’s eyes without feeling the sorrow that was present all over his entire presence as he lost his dear mother to the cruelty of the big C.

My late mother-in-law or Ah Ma, as Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei used to call her affectionately as grandma in Hokkien, lost her battle to colorectal cancer at the age of 69, all within a short three months from diagnosis to her last breath in 2008.

It has been five years now whereby by God’s grace, we have moved on in life with a remarkable addition and the joy of the family Baby B, who would never get to know her as the doting grandma that she was, and we have also moved on in bringing closure to that chapter by moving to a newer, though smaller place across town that we now happily call home. I guess a big part of us wanted the fresh new start after dealing with the losses we felt at that point of our lives and moving on signified a promise fulfilled to my late mother-in-law who knew that we would soldier on our lives victoriously, for God, for her and for ourselves.

Just like her own children, my mother-in-law was a woman who hardly talked about anything – not what she had just bought at the wet market, not the conversations she had with her siblings during her trip back to her hometown in Kota Bharu, nor anything about those worrying signs of ill health she was experiencing even though she was staying with us.

When several distressing signs started to show up outwardly, such as when she started getting very angry and agitated easily or becoming more and more forgetful, we thought it was all part of a natural aging process. After all, this drastic outward deterioration didn’t take place very rampantly and wasn’t obvious to anyone, not even us. She was still a doting grandmother to the kids and she still cooked together with me on the weekend and somewhere in our messy kitchen, we shared many warm exchanges of our favourite family recipes and caring words with one another.

After one too many times of helping her to recover her misplaced wallet in the fridge and in her own cupboard, we decided that we would take her to see a doctor to diagnose for suspected dementia and to check if her high blood pressure were the culprits of her change in her personality. Before we could do that, one afternoon when I was away for my part-time work, our helper called me from home to inform that mother-in-law who had been having three days of fever had tripped in our living hall and could not get herself up from the floor. Daddy Joe and I rushed home from work and sent her to the hospital when we were told that her X-Ray test was showing what seemed to be cancerous cells in her bones. A few more lab tests and diagnosis later we were informed that she was having a 4th stage colorectal cancer that had spread into her bones and brain, which explained the sudden change in her mood and personality.

It was during this critical time that our helper went back to her home country in Indonesia and much of the caregiving job of mother-in-law were shouldered by Daddy Joe and me. Being a mother as well as having a mom who was once a nurse did prepare me well enough to care for an ailing person but I was not prepared for her emotional dependence on me during her down days when she would weep and at times got angry over her own disease. Somehow I managed to crack some jokes with her and comforted her as I took on the primary caregiver role of feeding, bathing and changing her daily and somehow in that short journey, we made up some lost time and our bond grew stronger, connected by the same love we have for her son, Daddy Joe. With Daddy Joe and his brother’s help, we managed to wheel her between the dining room, bathroom and her bedroom as a way for her to enjoy the company of her grandchildren. We really tried to make every effort to make her feel normal, much as the disease nor the eventual death were not normal in every sense of the word.

Her pain came in swiftly and unbearably furious at that stage of discovery. Looking back, we are glad that it didn’t last that long for her because not being able to do anything except for giving her our support, care and love as the cancer swiftly took away her body defence and bodily function in stages rendered us a sense of helplessness and sorrow that was extremely hard to bear. In the next three months or so, she was in and out of the government hospital for more assessment and eventually a final surgery was arranged to remove part of her colon as chemotherapy and radio therapy was really not an option anymore.

She never really got well after the surgery because the surgical wound could not heal and slowly we sensed she was giving up on fighting as she slipped into partial coma about a week after the surgery. We had her moved back to our home in early October so that she could have the comfort of being surrounded by her loved ones as she made the final passage to the last stretch of her life. One night just shortly after I sang her some prayer songs and whispered to her that we all loved her and that she had nothing more to worry about because her children have all grown up, she nodded slowly and fell into a deep sleep. Few hours later, she woke up to take a good last look at all of us once more, especially her sons, and left peacefully into eternity.

That night Daddy Joe endured yet another painful departure of someone so dear to him to cancer. 20 years ago when he and I were in college, we also lost his sister aged 15 then to a relapse of childhood leukemia.

Much as sad memories such as the death of a loved one leave much pain in life, they also teach us to appreciate life more and be less critical of all the imperfections and flaws of life. Cancer also is the ultimate test of one’s personal strength in that I was privileged to have come to discover that my late mother-in-law though was silent, was a strong and resilient fighter through her last journey in life.

As for us, the big C was a painful memory and rob us of those we loved but we had to learn to move on and live stronger and help those who may be undergoing the same journey. Daddy Joe and I have since been able to bless others by praying along with them and sharing about what we know about living well, alternative cancer treatment as well as our own experience of caring and supporting our loved ones whom we lost to cancer with the help of organisations such as NCSM, AXA AFFIN and Hospis Malaysia.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the means of treating their cancers in the private hospitals, and this is where help is needed that can be provided by some of these organizations. AXA AFFIN for example, runs a cancer outreach campaign in collaboration with National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) to support cancer patients currently undergoing chemotherapy. By signing up the AXA 110 Cancer Care, AXA AFFIN offers early pay-out upon cancer diagnosis and 10 years of coverage in the event of cancer for the insured. The best part is that it will also help fund the chemotherapy daycare usage for those who can’t afford the expensive chemotherapy fight off the disease. Doing good while protecting yourself never came in a better package.

Hospis Malaysia, on the other hand, is a charitable organisation that offers professional Palliative Care to patients who are suffering from life-limiting illness, and who live within Klang Valley. Palliative care provides relief to patients suffering from a life-limiting illness, primarily through pain management and other symptom management. The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains.

I realize that everyone’s life is a line that goes on in one direction that ends in the same eventuality of meeting our Maker one day. Sometimes the journey is a bed of roses and sometimes it’s a thorny path. But life can also teach us many things when we know how to care, love and support those we came to cross paths with. In loving memory of my late mother-in-law, I pray that as you read this, you will be blessed with a life well lived, and one that always seeks to love, help and forgive others. Last but not least, if you are battling a cancer right now, do know that there is a fighter in all of us and that God loves us enough that His mercy and grace will be more than sufficient as we trust in His healing from inside out.

Love and cheers to life.

Love Is In The Flour and Salt

Sometimes I do feel that being a mother is the same like running a Corporation.

You set a target for your family for the year, perhaps a healthier resolution (that’s when you try in vain to shovel a bowl of rainbow-coloured salad topped with some hard boiled eggs and crabsticks made of fish fillet down the throat of your 9–years-old who has just listed allergy-to-greens as her newly discovered disorder), a financial goal (cutting out all the unnecessary splurge because instead of “lusting” for Prada you now buy disposable diapers that are more “lasting”) or better KPI (including ensuring that your 11 years old pre-teen’s conversation is not peppered with an annoying overdose of  “I am like…”).

Except for a few privileged ones, we are all running a very tight ship where the winners are parents who despite the limited resources, managed to bring up God-loving and respectful children who would one day chart their own course in the rough sea of life and champion the talents and inner gifts within them to good use that will help them live an independent, fulfilling and successful life.

 It is sad to note that over here in Asia, the parental pressure on their kids to achieve the BIG success is starting to look like a pressure cooker reaching its superheated  temperature where the family’s first and last dinner conversations always centre around academic achievements. Heck, even the morning embraces before the kids go to school are bantered with the usual line of “Study hard, son!” instead of a genuine, loving greeting to start off the day with a smile. The never-ending comparison between their children’s academic performance among social circles is starting to make all of the constant bickering among the reality TV stars of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills who are antagonistic to each other looks really pale in comparison.

It is not wrong to set boundaries and even a certain expectation for our children. A wise person told me years ago that children raised without discipline is akin to letting cars traversing on a highway next to a steep slope that are without any barriers — dangerous and erratic. Children thrive under the safety wings and protection of their parents. But raising up children focusing only on academic achievement based on societal definition of success will only make children function like the steam in a pressure cooker waiting to escape through the wrong means of outburst.

I am fearful of my own parenting journey because no one ever knows what becomes of our children until they reach there twenty years from here. And if there is anything I pray most often of, is that of making sure that I do not make so much mistake that they will turn out in the opposite direction of where I want them to be. I want them to be really happy, God-fearing, responsible and kind-hearted and that’s all that there is to my parenting goal. I may not be able to give them a privileged childhood but I try my best to give them richness of happy memories that hopefully can last a lifetime. Things like craft sessions, silly experiments, meals cooking, picnic, playing and even baking together are worth every second of our time instead of expensive tuition and enrichment classes.

One of the craft things we have done regularly at home is in making our very own home made salt dough for lots of kneading and imaginative fun.


You can get tonnes of such modelling dough recipes from the web, but I find the one from rainydaymum the easiest and fool-proof. To make this safe, easy-to-make dough:

1)      Prepare 1 cup general purpose flour + ½ cup salt + ½ cup water.


2)      Pour salt and flour into a mixing bowl.

3)      Add the water slowly into the mixture and knead until they are soft and pliable. Do add a bit of water if the mixture is too crumbly. If it is too sticky, add more flour instead.


4)      Have fun kneading the dough into whatever the kids fancy.

5)      My kids like the texture of soft dough and love to pretend that they are pastry chefs baking soft cookies.

As such we never take it to the next step of baking. If you want, you can also shape or cut into shape with cookie cutters to make ornaments for fridge magnets, jewelry and holiday decorative items. You can then dry it in low heat in an oven for 2 hours or within minutes in a microwave oven. Paint the creation and finish it with a coat of gloss and your little Picasso would have created their very own masterpiece that they can be proud of!


6)      We also let the older kids freeze the unused dough in a plastic bag and feel the cold, harder and dried texture after a few days. Sometimes we let them add water and other ingredients found from the kitchen and see what will happen after that. A little imagination adds that much more fun and dimension to a simple arts and craft project for the kids.


Parenting is a humbling journey because believe it or not, much as they come out from the same womb, our kids are not cookie cutters of the same kind. Some can count before they know how to talk, some are Picasso in the making. Some reach out their hands to shake that of their peers on the first day of kindergarten, and some cry through the first year. Some find instant connection with the outdoor sports and won’t hesitate to go on their first flying trapeze; some take one year to learn to ride a bicycle.

Our role as parents is to spark that imagination and the love for learning that will culminate in positive attitudes towards life. When they grow up, they may not remember what they actually learned from the classroom, but surely they will remember what joy they had playing with just flour, salt and water with their mom over those many beautiful rainy days.


Go Pink!

I haven’t been very active socially for about a month already. Not that I am anti-social in any sense. I am just inactive on my personal Facebook. Being busy with work is one, being under the weather no thanks to the repeated visit of haze is two and then there is always all the lovely weddings and the birth of a few babies among my friends in the last stretch of the year that just makes my heart filled to the brim with a kind of tender nostalgia.

But perhaps deep down there is also another reason that had just put this working mom on some kind of an emotional rollercoaster of late.

Last month an ex-colleague posted an update of her profile picture. I admire her posting an update because I am one of those lazy FB-ians who hardly ever have anything interesting to update or share on my FB and yet I find great joy in reading what others share about their lives, on a weekly basis when I am free which usually means my private me-time in the bathroom – the only place in the little apartment we live that is absolutely free of one of my kids demanding a piece of me.

Anyway, the black and white photo shows this friend in her much thinner body frame flashing a courageous smile on her beautiful face and donning a fashionable scarf on her newly bald head, holding the hand of her devoted husband who couldn’t hide a tinge of sadness from the corner of his eyes despite his loving and assuring smile

Go Pink In October!

Go Pink In October!

I didn’t want to say the wrong thing before I found out what happened but reading the first few comments from her family members and friends on FB just confirmed my fear: that she was battling a cancer. A few exchange of emails later, I discovered that she was battling breast cancer, the same type that my mother has survived and conquered a few years ago.

In spite of her circumstances, she chooses to fight tooth and nail against her cancer for the love of her kids and the faithful support and love from her husband. While her cancer is discovered at a much earlier stage than my mother, she has undergone mastectomy and is currently having chemo treatment to remove the cancerous cells once and for all.

All of these brought back a flood of memories not too long ago of how as a family we supported my mom’s battle with cancer like an army of faithful soldiers – my father slept through all the night on the hospital chair next to her bed with each hospitalization; my siblings and I scoured through all the miracle anti-cancer medicines and herbal plants that could cure her; and I was with her through most of her chemotherapy sessions at the hospital just to extend support and prayer for her as the medicines were being administered into her body.

Today mom is enjoying a clean bill of health and enjoying her life to fullest without any regrets. And as we rejoice with her celebrating the precious gift of life and love that God has since given her again, somewhere inside me there is a nagging thought that I could likely be candidate of this eventuality, because one in every 19 women in Malaysia has Breast Cancer and I have 3 breast cancer survivors within my family. May be not now but our life is in God’s hand, and sometimes God bends us in order that our lives glorify Him through healing.

All these have led me thinking of the what-ifs. Would it take a serious illness like the big C to make us take a pause from all the hectic activities we take upon in our lives? When facing a life threatening disease will we rather spend more time with our loved ones, to just make each moment count and smell the flowers along our path rather than getting upset and over-worried over our finances and politics? Would people forgive one another for angers of yesteryears or would they continue to hold on to trivial grudges? What lifestyle choice could we make now that would make us less prone to such random diseases?

While I do not have the answers to all these, I want to make each moment count with my family. I want to start make that healthy choice and take the step forward in starting my walk in the park more regularly because I could just be the one with the big C some years down the road. Much as I know that I would fight nail and tooth on it, I just don’t want to look back on these days and regret that I haven’t done anything to make each day count.

This being the month of October, let’s wear pink and donate to breast cancer foundations in support of a wider Breast Cancer Awareness in Malaysia. Beyond that, let’s live well physically, emotionally and spiritually.

May we celebrate the beauty of life and be blessed with good health always!

Poppin’ Beauty

I sat there crunching numbers for an upcoming presentation when the Finance cum HR lady appeared right in front of me holding a piece of printed schedule in her hand.

“Good morning!!!” she greeted chirpily.

“Good morning Helen (not her real name), sunny side up, eh? You look like you have had a good rest last night, my friend!” I said.

“Yes, well, with the major budgeting season FINALLY over, I can have a good sleep! I see that it’s your turn now playing with numbers, eh? Hey, can I check with you if you could train the new recruits at 3.30pm next Wednesday?” she said while pointing to the column under my name which showed a marketing training session at mid-afternoon on a mid-week for the batch of freshies the company has recently hired .

“Helen, I am good for Wednesday and at 3.30pm but just curious, why are we starting the whole training including the ones by the bosses on a Wednesday? Aren’t the newbies more energized and alive on say, a Monday? I would suggest a Friday too but alas, they will probably be imagining all the happy hours ahead of them and think I am torturing them pouring out facts rather than beer, just sayin’.” I looked at the overall training schedule pensively.

Poppin' Beauty for my phone!

Poppin’ Beauty for my phone!

“Oh, that’s because you are not in town that Monday and Tuesday,” Helen informed me. “I am NOT? And why haven’t I got a clue about that?” I asked.

“You and half of the team and the bosses are travelling to Penang for a business meeting on Monday and Tuesday. You didn’t know? Your name is on the white board for the travelling schedule!” Helen replied.

“I didn’t know! Goodness now that I am being informed, I would have to make arrangement for my kids like pre-buy groceries this weekend, pre-arrange their school schedules and transportation and do my holy grail: pre-express some breast milk for my husband to feed the baby for the night time feeding! OK I’d better prepare a check list for my husband in case he is all stressed out taking over the mommy tasks.” I said, rather distractedly, while telling myself I love my job.

“And by the way, Helen… Yep, I am good for the training session on Wednesday. Considered done!” I quickly pen down the training date on my work calendar and set about preparing what needed to be done for my impending business travel, even if it’s only but for two days.

For two days! My working mom’s heart laments: Two days of not getting the butterfly kisses from Pumpkin Mei-Mei first thing in the morning. Two nights of not hearing Cheeky Koko’s funny jokes and his shy, “private-only”, tween-thing kiss. Two days of not getting the ballyhoo of welcome-home hugs from Baby B’s chubby arms, sealed with a loud “Muah” kiss that fill a mommy’s heart with that tingling sweet devotion of love so pure.

I called Daddy Joe immediately to share my travelling plan and to my surprise, he was as unruffled as the calm surface of Tasik Chini (a famous lake in Pahang). “OK, so you are cool with getting the kids all sorted out for the morning and through the night, Hun?” I asked, feeling a tad of rejection that he is quite OK with my absence. I mean, I am supposed to be the princess queen of his life, right?

“Darling, it’s only two days and we can always call each other to chat. It’s like we will miss you for only one night but when we open our eyes the next morning and go about our work or studies, you will be home in the evening already! Come on… When you miss the kids at night, their faces are all over in your phone camera and at the back of your phone anyway!” Okaaay, move over Marry Poppins, Daddy Joe has it all figured out—Thus came the cool reassurance from husband although secretly the wifey was hoping that he would say that she was totally irreplaceable. 😦

I hung up and turned over my phone to look at my latest phone cover from Pop My Case and admired the gorgeous print of my kids that was shot by a friend.

Get your own personalised smartphone case at http://www.popmycase.com

Get your own personalised smartphone case at http://www.popmycase.com

When one of the guys behind Pop My Case dropped me an email last month to share about how personalized smartphone case is the IT thing, I was under the impression that such a thing was only for the fashionable generation X (or was it Gen Y?) to immortalize their own creative imprints and personal pictures on gadgets.

Then in the midst of a few killing work-related deadlines and all, I just hurried through the selection of the pictures I wanted


Eenie meenie miney mo… I chose the one with the 3 kids just so that I can always have all 3 of them with me when I am away for work! (Oh well, sort of…)

and emailed two photos back to the same guy (who by the way, is a really cool Malaysian dude with a triumphant vision for his products). Within a few days, got back two mock-up artworks in my email on how the cases would look like eventually, selected the one I thought was the best and voila, received my brand new phone case, all in a week’s time! The colour output of the fully-wrapped image over the case is beautifully crisp and clear— the end result which makes the photo of my happy little people comes alive fine and sharp as if it has popped right out of a laminated photo paper.

Needless to say, the sturdy phone case was a hit in my office and the fact that Pop My Case being a Malaysian company has gotten such cool and lovely line of phone cases – some of which are collaboration with homeland artists, is just simply brilliant! Of course, unless one hasn’t got a studio styled portrait (but who doesn’t have a good selfie these days?), the bestsellers remain the ones that can be customized and personalized with personal photos. Time to bring out those beautiful bridal portraits, shots of the baby’s first toothy grins or even shots of your cool Mini!

Honestly, to save us both from possible old age related heart attack, I am thinking of giving my man and myself two phone cases printed with our wedding photo to look at everyday so that when we are both semi-senile at 80 years old we won’t get entirely too shocked over who the heck is that white-haired, wrinkly creature sleeping next to us in the morning! 😀

As for the working mama here, business trip or not, it’s a definite sunshine cheer for the day just to see the little faces I love so dearly every minute of the day even if I am fighting a crisis somewhere up north in the corporate world. 🙂

Another Type of PR

I rarely ever want to talk about my work in the blogosphere.

I suppose if I were Steve Job, I would be proud to answer what I do for a living when being prompted at a social gathering, “Oh nothing much, you know, just inventing some computers and a smart tablet called an Ipad at my garage for the brand that has with the apple logo.”

Or that I deliver about a couple hundred babies a year including twins and triplets as an Ob-gyn.

How about running a successful chain of fusion restaurants at KL’s hippest spots (suddenly every type of food that is east meets west is called FUSION in KL now, I’m guessing that anything can go these days when you can even have a gelato with a Belacan flavor).

Even better, if I was a new age guru who has attained the best kept cosmic secrets to longevity— Surely that would make me the most sought after speaker for health-related workshops and fetch me a fat piggy among the rich and famous.

I’d be proud just to walk into the local wet market with any of the above feel-good who’s who descriptions, even if I only have enough cash to buy Kangkung that morning.

What significance could I possibly feel doing what I’m doing now then— planning for which newspapers to place ads and whether the press conference have reached a certain publicity mileage or if the promotion our team is planning helps achieve the sales target. I also cannot see how all these marketing tools such as advertising, promotion and the likes have anything to do with the whole gamut of human life.

Well, except for Public Relations (PR). PR is the one and only tool that is connected to the tapestry of life, of the complexity of human relationships with one another and not just with the media.

In marketing, PR is an important element to engage customers and the public harnessing the power of the media, to get a favourable angle in the news and to create ripples of desired marketing outcome.

In life, understanding the intricacy of human relations, much like public relations, helps businesses achieve long term partnership and short term gains, just because certain business owners do it right in their Personal Relationship, another PR . A coworker with great Personal Relationship skill also wins friends at the workplace— Here’s what they do:

1) It’s not just the food. At my first media lunch with some fashion editors, one of my ex bosses who is respected by many peers as a public relations doyen, taught me about the art of paying close attention to the details even when it’s just a lunch. Of course, we had a business proposition to pitch but it felt more like a happy gathering of friends than a business lunch.

Half way through the dim sum lunch and as this ex-boss was sharing a light moment with our media friends, she gently smiled at me while casting a sideway glance and quick signal of sort over the Chinese tea pot, reminding me to refill everyone’s tea cup. Oh shucks, like i’ve had an epiphany… I had completely immersed myself in the lunch and with the company so much so that I have forgotten to play a graceful host. I quickly got up and haven’t stopped observing and refilling others’ Chinese tea cups ever since!

2) Personal touch means everything. Corporate gifting is a common practice, but there’s nothing like receiving a personally signed greeting card from someone who calls you a friend. Every Chinese New Year, I receive greeting cards from business suppliers who squeeze 30 employee signatures under the printed corporate logo and no one, not the CEO nor the executive I deal with ever bothered to pen a personalized message eg “Gong Xi Fatt Choy” on the card. Are we making corporate gesture way too impersonal and too much of a business obligation? If the senders treat greeting card sending as just a business obligation, rest be assured the recipient feels it so too.

3) Thank you but no thanks. A friend has complained of her colleague who was just very tight lipped about her thank you. First of all, when she asks for a favour, she doesn’t care if you have other jobs on hand or that you have your own deadlines to chase. After you have helped her with a task such as a presentation, she would only respond with criticism and offered no thank you. It was no surprise that she never had any true friends in her work place. Regardless of one’s level of seniority and experience, a genuine thank you will always wins friends at work.

4) Don’t be late and don’t show up without an appointment. Really, unless you are my close friends or my husband that being late will be affectionately excused or a sudden show up at my office brings me an anticipated joy, in business 3pm is 3pm, no appointment made means let’s meet another day when I’m actually not rushing any critical deadlines.

5) Respect others. I have met many big shots and CEOs who walk into a room bringing the sunshine along when the whole office starts in a gloom on Monday morning. And then there are those high-level business associates who remember names of small fries like me (instead of preferring only to speak to my direct boss as if I am suddenly an invincible lamp post). Apparently you become respectable when you first respect the others.

At the next kids birthday party or friendly kiddie football league and if I ever got asked again about what I do for a living, perhaps I will just say I specialize in Public Relations for real life. Throw in all these observations and I’d be feeling like a guru.

Ms. Jessie J sings that everything comes with a price. Forget about the price tag as life lessons can be free when one observes and practices good PR skills.