Friday, 9 December 2011

Thanksgiving in the Highlands

The fourth Thursday of November is my all time most favoritest day of the whole year. It even tops the 25th of December in my book. Don't hate y'all :). This year I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with people whom I am super grateful for aaaand we stayed in the middle of mountains where every morning and afternoon stunning views sat beyond every window in the house. What what!! How flippin awesome is that?! It's okay, if I were you I'd be jealous, too ;). Anyyyyywho. The drive up was rather turny-swervy-curvy. All the way to the top...

So to give our stomachs a break, we stopped at a pretty waterfall surrounded by tall tall trees of the rainforest. Ahh, step out of the car to be greeted by a breath of crisp, cool, and fresh mountain air. Not much tops that my frann. It seems rainforest mountain air even temporarily cures car sickness. Well for me at least...not so much for Zayah. Poor little guy.

Food. Food. Food. Oh how I love food. I'm fairly sure that one of my biggest struggles is between a love for food and fear of becoming extremely obese.

^^Above is a dish called Banana Leaf^^ (as if the banana leaf plate didn't already give it away;) To be honest I cant even tell you what those different piles of food are, but man are they ever so delicious! With maybe the exception of that reddish pile on the end...a tad bit too spicy for these taste buds.

Isaac getting a head start and putting on his Om Nom Nom face for a thanksgiving feast...

And we all know that the bigger the meal, the bigger the mess is that will be made by Isaiah the Destructionator. Might as well go ahead a try to save the carpet by laying out a towel...

Later on that week we took a trip to the Boh Tea Plantations, grabbed a bite to eat there, and this was our balcony view (I am referring to the rolling green hilly mini mountains of tea plants, not so much the random people who kept walking in front of my camera, so I just snapped the picture anyways)...

1.384 seconds before this picture was snapped, Immanuelle was probably looking directly at the camera wearing a big smile. But then again, probably not. She's sneaky like that. :o)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Cake for a king!

It's 4:00am. Eyes wide open. Being awake at this absurd hour for the third night in a row must be a sure sign that I need to post a blog, eh? So heeeeere it goes!

Okay, so our "Cupcake Neighbor" is quite a genius when it comes to baking and decorating cakes (as you are about to see). When we spent the day celebrating Hari Raya with her family, she asked if I wanted to learn how to make kek lapis, to which my reply was a big ole heck to the YEEEEES! Kek lapis is a cake made of a bunch of thin layers. Some are chocolate, some are blueberry, and some are pineapple, but all keke lapis (that I've tasted so far) are Uh-maze-ingly scrumptious! See all the teeny tiny layers?

We set a date and and I was informed to show up at her house at eleven o'clock and we would spend all day baking kek lapis. Weel, at ten o'clock that morning she showed up at our house with an excited twinkle in her eye. "Sorry Keylee, I must cancel kek lapis today. I have make birthday cake for Sultan and his nephew!" Helllllooooo...That. Is. HUGE!! Ya see, it's kind of a big deal when it's the State Sultan's birthday, and actually considered a state holiday. Downtown is decorated in lights and certain stores and offices are closed for the day. Like I said, big deal.

A nephew of the Sultan was turning one year old as well. So we got started on that cake first. Theme being Elmo/Sesame Street...

Mix mix mix mix. This is not your ordinary mixer, all heavy duty and professional and such. And apparently NOT intended to be ran by yours truly. It's still a mystery how I managed to sling chocolate cake batter all over the wall. Leave it to the white girl :)

(oh by the way, this picture was taken before I choco-fied the wall;)

Th two silver pot looking things below are the ovens. People here typically don't have ovens at all, they mostly cook on a griddle or stove top. Even though there were two ovens, each only held one 12x12 inch cake at a time which had to bake for an hour...

With 8 cakes having to be baked for Elmo's base, we had a lot of waiting before it could actually be put together. So we got to work on the details of the cake...

DING! Finally all the cakes were out of the oven and ready to be put together. Then came the fondant, airbrushing, big letters, little letters, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, lots of rearranging, and at last Elmo. Viola!

Oh but the fun didn't stop there! More and more cakes went into the oven. You thought 8 cakes was a lot for the Elmo cake? Oh no no, 24, 12x12inch cakes. TWENTY FOUR. Mr. Sultan was planning on a big party turn out and lots of cake hungry guests I suppose. We actually started icing the cake at 12:30am...

We worked on that cake through night. and day, and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year, to where only the wild things are. Okay, not reeeeeeally. Hour, after hour, after hour past and we finally finished. My camera died, so I have no pictures of the work in progress. But here is a picture of the finished product!

I wish there were a better picture showing the how huge this 60kg (132lb) cake really was. We got the cake finished a whole 30 minutes before our 6:00am deadline! I arrived back home at 5:45am, got cleaned up, threw some (warm) clothes in a bag, and we hit the road to the Highlands for Thanksgiving! Talk about being sleepy, whew. But worth it all, nonetheless. :)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Well you see what had happened was...

Here it is the 17th of November and I have not posted my - what seems to have become - monthly blog update. You may be wondering if I have an explanation for lack of updates here. And as a matter of fact, I have a darn good excuse! Just been too busy, as you can clearly see...;)

While October was quite a happening month for us, the truth is I am just a terrible blogger. When we visit a new place or eat at cultural restaurants, I always say to myself "Kaylee, this is awesome. I should write up a blog and post this amazing picture. Tonight". But alas, that just doesn't happen. There is always something that comes across for me to read instead and further contribute to my blogging-procrastination syndrome. So I am attempting to catch it all up, no worries ;) Anywho, all that to say I apologize (especially to my Mother) for not showing and telling about all of the going-ons 'round here.

At the beginning of October we hit the road to the capital. We squeezed in a few "touristy" adventures before Immanuelle arrived. First, we drove by the pink mosque. I'm sure it has a more formal name, but I don't know what it is. And I haven't seen too many mosques that are pink around here, so it's distinct enough not to get confused with another pink mosque. ;)

Some (very important) dood donated a couple few (hundred) acres for most of the federal buildings, so in return they built him a gigantonormus castle. Pretty good trade if you ask me...

We visited the park across from the two tall towers and a bridge where Isaac made some new friends. They played "trains" like this nearly the whole time we were there! So stinkin' precious...

Go-Karting! I know I know, it looks like we are straight off the set of Top-Gun...

Part one of this blogpost is brought to you by a hot cup of liquid brain power (aka coffee) and a cool rainy afternoon. To be continued...;)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Oh yeah, we did that last day!

Whats in a day? 86,400 seconds, of course. Lately, there have been several people who have asked what a typical day consists of for me. Shoot, as I thought about it I had to laugh because our adventures couldn't be considered no no, we have wayy too much fun around here to have all of our excursions shoved and stored into a "typical" folder in some file cabinet. I could sit here and explain some of our outings and everyday adventures, but that would probably be too much to read. So here is a few pictures showing some of the different ways we have spent our daily 86,400 seconds. :)

See those rocks behind Isaiah? We spend a lot of time playing in those rocks. Isaac says "ayy, Kak-Kaylee, 'bout choo play in tha rocks wiff me!". So that's what we do. We spell out our names, create trains, and pick out all of the pretty rainbow colored ones (which Isaac considers ALL of them pretty;).

Slide a little sliiide

Smile a little smile

Form a little fort

Wear a little watermelon

Splish a little splash

and take a smallish nap...

...or two

Both Isaac and Isaiah each capture a piece of my heart every single day. Despite the fighting and fussing with each other, they are two of the sweetest little guys around. I am quite confident that they are both Big-Bro capable and completely ready to warmly welcome baby sister, Immanuelle, when she arrives. :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Selamat Hari Raya!!

Hari Raya is a huge holiday here where the month long, sun up to sun down fasting session is broken. Of course, if I were to fast for a whole month, I would require one heck of a huge celebration, including piles upon piles of my favorite foods, too. Our neighbors invited us to travel around with them and celebrate for the first day of Raya. So we got all dressed up in our blue baju's and hit the road!

I was warned that because we would be visiting numerous homes throughout the day - and that we would pretty much be expected to eat at each one of them - getting a full belly at the first house probably was not the wisest idea ever. "The trick is to get a little bit of everything, that way your plate LOOKS full, but in reality it's not. And you have plenty of room for the next place". Easy enough, I thought. But I thought wrong. Not so easy when there is a little man wearing a pink shirt who insists on dipping your plate for you...

The bowl was SO full by the time I got it back from him. First lesson of the day: The just-make-your-plate-look-full theory is not always fool proof. ;)

Maybe it's just me being an American, but multiple times throughout the day when we were going from house to house, I found myself thinking how similar the celebrations were between Hari Raya and several different major American holidays.

We'll start at the beginning of the calendar year: Its common for people here to say "Maaf Zahir dan Batin" to each other, basically meaning "Forgive me of the wrong I've done to you, whether physically or emotionally". Which in comparison, we do that around New Years in the States. Sometimes we get caught up in the whole "I'm going to make things right starting this year" attitude and try to seek forgiveness from each other in order to mend a broken friendship, etc. etc.

Memories of Easter came to mind for two different reasons. Mainly because of how families color coordinate their new outfits and get all dressed up for the first day of the special occasion. But secondly, just because of what we came to call the "Raya Bunny" in the mall...

Fireworks. Fireworks, fireworks, fireworks all month long. Grant it, nothing real spectacular and colorful like we typically are used to seeing on July 4th, but just as loud. That's fo sho. More than once I have been terrified slightly startled by a BANG. It's about like somebody unexpectedly pulling the trigger to a sawed off double barrel twelve gauge two feet away from you.

Now, the one and only reason why I am reminded of Halloween is simply because of kids going door to door asking for duit raya. Duit raya is usually a small amount of money given in an envelope to kids up to older teenagers who have not-yet married. The more houses that are visited, the fuller the pockets (and yes, this included me...cha-ching!;). Anywho, the particular group of neighborhood kids ringing our door bell in hopes of a little duit raya was way similar to the pesky little trick-or-treaters in America. You know the ones I'm talking about, they ring to doorbell and beat on the door consistently until you finally open's like they know that you are just sitting in your darkened living room with a huge candy stash or something.

Every Thanksgiving I always eat more food in one day than I typically do in a good 3 days or so. Everybody pretty much does though, right? I mean, how could anybody not go back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths)? In Southeast Asia, Hari Raya is the time where faces and stomachs are stuffed and leftovers are eaten on for several days. But their traditional holiday meal doesn't include turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, or pumpkin pie. Just more rice, spice, and honestly I don't know what all else. I decided early on it would probably be best if I didn't ask too many questions about the food. ;)

But I will say that for the most part, it was all pretty scrumptious. Especially the sweet goodness of chocolate blueberry kek lapis!

And then there is Christmas. I don't know how most other people spend the week of Christmas, but ours was always jammed packed with going, going, going. Going to Grandma's, going to Nana's, going to Grandmama's, going to Aunt's and Uncle's, and visiting siblings. Weel, Southeast Asians seem to have the going, going, going thing down pat here, too. Just going back to their home towns to celebrate with all of their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents they more than likely don't get to see but a few times a year. Oh, and having to pose for a billion pictures, too. It's obvious this little boy in the middle is about pictured out...

Hooray for Hari Raya!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Oh, the places you will go!

Living in Southeast Asia being one of those places? Didn't totally see that one coming, buuut here I am! :)

For the first couple of weeks upon arriving we learned as much as we could about the local culture. Eating at authentic little hole-in-the-wall restaurants every morning for breakfast was one of my favorite ways to observe and soak in the normal, everyday life that goes on for people here.
Yay! for people watching with French Toast and Kaya (some kind of sweet goodness in the form of jelly)!

One of our first days in town we toured a Sikh Temple...

...visited a Buddist Temple...

...and peeked inside of a Hindu Temple.

For the next few days we did a little bit of everything...
We ate buzzard bait durian--

Fed the monkeys a little snack--

And watched out for elephants (but never came across any)--

Spent the day in Singapore and visited the "Mer-Lion"--

Then wrapped up our week of sight-seeing with a trip to a beautiful little island surrounded by sparkling blue water--

Keep checking back in occasionally for updates of adventures with these adorable little Rivers boys! :)