Within this blog...

Interests, Pastimes & Hobbies

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Like Ellen, do you?

So, Akira happened to be at the grocery store one week upon her arrival at Seattle in May. She saw 3 magazine covers of her on the shelf. The next day, she saw her on TV at home. This lady had her own show. "Who is she? Who she    r e a l l y   is?" thought Akira. The only times she watched her on Malaysian TV  was in American Idol.

Camera was handy one afternoon and at the same time Akira was fascinated with her dancing skills. Can you believe it? She is 52! She is Ellen Degeneres.

Interested to know more, Akira found this posted at YouTube courtesy of Megami284. So, that's how her wife, Portia de Rossi (an Australian) looks like. What a beauty! In this video, her wife appeared as a guest in her talk show.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Akira Relocated


3 weeks ago, back on Sept. 11, Akira made an unexpected transfer to big state California. Akira would like to apologize for this late update and lack of blog post lately. In fact, she just realized, she hasn't made any post in this month of September! Shame on you, Akira!

She realized she'll also need to change to a new blog header as she slowly settle into her new home, new neighbourhood, new state, new HOT (113 degr F!!!) weather, new faces, new kids and new family lifestyle.

One thing for sure, she would not neglect this blog and she hopes her readers too.
Thank you for your visit and hope to see you back again.

Have a nice day!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle

Backdated in June 2010...

AkiraSabine(AS) was actually here at the Northwest Folklife Festival as she was writing this. From where she was, she could hear drum plates being hit with a rhythm not far away. Next to her, a group was playing a mixture of Indian + Middle Eastern rhythm with his special guitar and a lady singing some songs to it. In front of her sat a couple watching some youth skate boarding in the designated rink. She could smell the tantalizing food aroma lingering in the air with some curry spices form nearby food stands.

It's been a very eye opening day to be among the crowd checking out this festival. It's a HUGE turnout with all kinds of street and stage performances, participatory dances and  instruments workshops and all kinds of unfamiliar free hugs and some petition to get support to legalize Marijuana. Hmm!

The Space Needle - landmark of Seattle Downtown

Hula Hoop OOooOO La LA

Rain defying audience! Seattleittes have long agreed with the country song - Rain Is A Good Thing!

Participatory folk dance

AS sat here and they came sitting next to her and started playing a random rhythm

                              AS likes this! You too?


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Guitar - When You Say Nothing At All

Akira is currently practising this song. It's been one of her all-time favourites and she's polishing up to sound like a pro like this guy below. Singing and playing at the same time is definitely ough and she's come a long way with it ever since she started picking up the guitar. That's what she likes about the guitar. You can PICK IT UP! unlike a piano which will br ea k your bone. She could bring it everywhere she wants to especially to camps and playing a guitar of course, to her, is way more cooler!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Freestyle Flip Turn

Akira has been watching her kiddo and the swim team a lot during their practices and summer swim meets. Those many events inspire her to pick up doing the freestyle flip turn.
Hours ago was another opportunity she had with her kiddo down at the pool trying it out and he assessing.

"Nope, you're tooooo close to the wall!"
"Nope, keep your body straight"
"Your body curved down!"
"Your legs were kicking out of the water"
"Watch me, I'll do it  s l o w l y  for you."

Finally, Akira said...
"Enough for today. I'm getting drowsy!" 

Akira is scrutinizing every step on how the flip turn is done and promise herself to try it over and over again at the pool.

"I can do it! That's for sure!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Measurements In The USA

Upon arrival at Seattle 3 months back...
Akira was frustrated..

She wanted to know what all these signs meant right away! She's a little mad. "Why Americans  would not just stick to the Standard International (SI) units? Why would they not standardize baggage check-in fees across all domestic airlines? Why must Alaskan Airlines charge higher? Why must Washington state incur sales tax when neighbouring Oregon state is free from it?" *OK, Akira is drifting too far away. Cheeky smile.*  Every single measurement here is in English units which didn't strike a chord in Akira until she converts them.

30 miles/hour? --> "How fast is that?"
6 feet?             --> "How deep is the pool actually?"
50 degr F?      --> "How cold is that in terms of degr C?"
1 quart?          -->  "What?"
$3.10 / gal?  -->  "Where does this gas price stand comparing dollar to dollar with home's?" When she googled, she found out there were 2 different gallons, the US Gallon and the Imperial Gallon with slight difference in terms of factor.
80 lbs?           --> "How much has this lady lost?" she wondered while watching 'The Biggest Loser' on TV.

3 months later, today.. 
Akira is still frustrated...

However, the few she knows now are

1 mile = 1.6 km  (got it stucked to her head with them popping everywhere in the American driving licensing knowledge book)
1 ft    = 30 cm
1 lb    = 600 g
1 degr F = 1 degr C x 1.8 +32 (NOT directly proportional like she used to think)

What is travelling without feeling foreign? 
What is travelling without the culture shock? 
NO FUN and definitely no blog updates here!
Ambiguous, huh?

Akira's first impression of it - "$315  9/10  for how much of petrol?"

"$2.99/kg.. hmm not cheap. Opps, no...$2.99/lb.. double not cheap"

Sunday, August 1, 2010

As a Kid in USA

My 10 year old kiddo: Soccer ball, guitars with amplifier, Wii, dozens of board games, tennis racquet, swimming gears, airsoft guns, bullet guns, rifles, gameboy, etc.

My kiddo's 8 year old cousin: Soccer ball, basketball pole,  XBox, PS2, guitar with amplifier, keyboard, creative toys, inflated pool, TV in bedroom, etc..

Observation of our neighbours: basketball poles, skateboards, scooters, and probably many other cool stuffs in the house.

School's summer break:

About 3 months and summer break is not the only break throughout the school year.

A typical schedule during school days:

9 till 3.45 pm      : at school
4 till 4.30 pm      : homeworks
4.30 till 7.30 pm : playtime outside with neighbours/ friends
7.30 till 9.30pm : dinner, shower, read and sleep

 Weekends schedule:

Play the whole day or go out for movies with eventual possible sleepover at friend's house.

Now, Akira wishes to turn back time and grow up as a kid here...

 While waiting to pick up kiddo and friends outside the cinema, Akira was happy to discover this.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Utilities in American Homes

Things Akira finds new in homes here at Seattle..

- Instead of air conditioners in Malaysian's home, we have heaters with centralized automatic control.

- The built-in dish washer under the kitchen counter reminds her of the CIP(Clean In Place) system she was familiar with at her dairy manufacturing work place.

 - Wooden built-up houses with every steps or water flow upstairs could be heard from downstairs or vice versa.

- Americans really do take recycling seriously with cleaning the recycled items and separating them into dedicated bins. Evey house has at least one of each green (yard waste), blue (recycle) and grey (garbage) bins.(Akira has never identified them this well before, seriously!)

- Contrary to back home, there are no traps in kitchen sinks here. Perishable items are allowed to drain down the sink into the  mechanical  food waste disposal unit.

- Gas to homes are supplied through centralized underground piping. Akira found out from her host mom when she couldn't find the familiar cylinder tank in the kitchen.

- It's safe to drink from the tap at home. Just fill your glass at the tap. There's not even a water filter installed.

- A toaster and microwave seems to be very useful to prepare the simplest meal - all kinds of sandwiches and burritos!

- With actual sunlight and heat available only for a quarter of the year, it comes to  no surprise to Akira that her home has a washing machine and a laundry dryer which she normally see at laundry shops in Malaysia.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Adventure in The Kitchen

Has Akira told you she once cooked for herself quite often? Well, not very good actually because the best food is the most sinful food one does not do it often enough to feed herself or others. She reckons that whatever food would taste good so long something gives the smoothest and creamiest texture (sour cream, mayonnaise, butter, cream cheese, oil, lard ) or cheeezy flavour (cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, basically all sorts of cheese) or some crunchy deep fried food. To feed herself, she tries to eat food as close to its natural state as possible except with non-sinful seasonings as specified above. Not many appreciate her way of food preparation though but it's alright.

But first of all, Akira had to know what's in store for her to mix and match. This would mean rummaging the kitchen to familiarize with where the ingredients are placed, regardless they're dry or wet materials and how the available sauces, spices and seasonings tasted like.With these in hand, she'd be able to work more efficiently around the kitchen and she'd know what to add to food for that particular taste. Don't you agree?

"Pictures, oh pictures... where are you? Please show up! Didn't Akira remember taking a few of you?"

Sorry guys, Akira couldn't seem to find them. Probably she didn't take any of them after all while she had her hands and taste buds on the sauces.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer arrived at Seattle

Back in May 2010...

The sun was nowhere to be seen but yet the sky wasn’t dark. It felt like 6.30pm in Malaysia when in fact it was already 8,30pm. The kiddo would have to retire at 9.30pm. AS’s biological clock said she should not wash up until the sun sets. She didn’t feel the urge to get ready to sleep yet, it’s still 6.30 pm! I was still in office at this time of the day in Malaysia!

But Grrr…. “Damn, I’m freezing!” So, she snuggled into bed, and wrapped herself like a burrito in the comforter! “It’s cold, brrRRrr but it’s not dark yet outside! Arrgghh. Cold!

The next thing she knew, she woke up to a brand new day! The chill remained but not as cold as the evenings. She went in for the warm shower and wished to stay there forever.

“It’s cold!”

“No, it's not! ” The kiddo argued everytime! In a Tee and khaki shorts, he went out to play.

Nevertheless, it’s a lovely weather to walk when Akira hardly trickle a bead of sweat and maked an ugly sight of herself. The air is fresh(you hardly see or smell the emissions from vehicles), the flowers were blooming, the lake was pretty, the people were friendly, the dogs were happy, the aroma from Starbucks was tempting. Seattle, you're a heaven!

Now in July, after 2 months of high at 70 and low at 48 degrees, temperature for the past few days has risen and stayed at a high of 90 degrees during the day though it’s still pretty cold as the sun sets. Akira is beginning to understand why people like to soak up the sun as the temperature is a little colder unless you get direct sunlight and of your to get their tan.

Smiles on everyone's faces. Kids are competing each other in swim meets.
“Summer’s finally here!” Dressings switches to tank tops, mini shorts and flip flops, caps & sunglasses! Nice! And lets picnic down at the beach!

"Yee - haa!!!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Downtown Seattle

This is Downtown Seattle to AkiraSabine(AS). She likes what she's seen so far very much! How about you?

 View from her host mom's office at Seattle Downtown.

 Mount Rainier - tallest mountain in Washington State.

They call him 'The Hammering Man'

 Downtown get around buses hiring for 0 cost.

 View from one of the many steep streets.

 While riding in a car...

 Outside Pike Place Market...

 These street musicians were singing a song of 'Mother In Law' which actually sounded good!

Interstate football match on a Saturday afternoon, 'The Sounders' of Seattle Vs ... Akira had no idea.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Driving in USA

Whenever Akira saw this in Malaysia at 10am, she would think this person must be crazy switching on the headlights at this time of the day! Well, maybe she would think, "Oh well, he/she might have accidentally turned it on or left the headlights on overnight. " That's not until she arrived here that everyone could not be crazy or forgetful!

"Well, the next time you see headlights on, check if the driver is a foreigner." Cars in the USA are automatically set to turn the headlights on whenever they're on the road. In Canada, it's a traffic rule to turn it on when you drive.

Akira loves the fact that she's allowed to drive in the USA. However, that doesn't go without obstacles. Some little facts she needs to constantly remind herself are as follows:-

"Stay on the right side of the road!"

"Turn into the right lane!"

"Stop as in not moving at all when you arrive at the STOP sign or blinking RED light ."

"Do not overtake the school bus when it stops for the kids"

"Turn right when it's safe though the traffic light shows RED. Otherwise, impatient drivers behind you will start honking!"

"Don't turn left even if the traffic light shows GREEN. Turn only when it's safe to do so."

"Stay with the speed limit. Police and cameras are everywhere here and I really mean EVERYWHERE!" This, she has been reminded many times by different individuals. "10MPH at school area and 60 MPH at freeways. You may get a ticket for being slower than that!"

Extra controls for heaters and the stick for the windscreen wiper.

It's RED but Akira may turn right when it's safe.

Akira still wonders why...

Struggling to accustomized...

Missing what she left behind...

Still not too confident with the shared center lane. She either gets in too early or misses it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

AS's Chilly New Home in Seattle

Looking out from the dining table, it was sunny outside. AkiraSabine could see the water very clearly from her home. It was so blue and so welcoming.

Akira was having her breakfast. It felt so good enjoying the hot brewed coffee in the chilly weather. The aroma from the toast she made blended into the lingering coffee aroma. How heavenly!

As she walked her kiddo boy to the bus stop this morning, she was introduced to her neighbours, kiddos friends and parents. These would be the faces she sees every weekdays morning from now onward.

Walking in the sunny yet chilly weather felt so awesome. Not a trickle of sweat rolled down her cheeks. “Good morning, it’s a lovely day, huh?” a mom greeted her. The dog she was walking seemed to agree as well. “Hi Allison,” she was greeted from behind. Oh, it’s a young girl she met yesterday but couldn’t recall her name. Bad AkiraSabine!

“Oh wow, don’t you feel cold?”


AS was under 3 layers of tops and a jeans but her young friend was in a Tee and short skirt. “Oh well, I’ll be able to get through this later if not now. “

Salami with cheddar cheese and tortilla chips with a choice of Salsa or smooth avocado+basil leaves dip! Deeeeelicious!!!

Grilling terrace...

In Bangkok, it was 7-11 every 100 metres. In Seattle, it's this because it's born here! AS hardly see any 7-11 over here in Seattle.

Any postcard printers out there?

As AS went for a stroll....

God's creation!

Nope, we're having spring now.

Resort like neighbourhood, don't you think so?

And AS was only walking and shooting...

What's exploration without a trip in a local bus...

Awesomely A W E S O M E!! (borrowed these words from her kiddo)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Arriving at The Great States

It was May 3rd when AkiraSabine(AS) arrived at the USA. Flight chronology was as follows:-

Depart – KLIA (Kuala Lumpur) @ 2am
Arrive - Pudong Airport (Shang Hai) @ 7.30 am
Depart – Pudong Airport (Shang Hai) @ 12.30 pm
Arrive – San Francisco Airport @ 7.30 am (May 3rd) which was already 11.30pm Malaysian time
Depart - San Francisco Airport @ 10 am ( 1 am on May 4th Malaysian time)
Arrive – Newark Airport @7 pm on May 3rd (7am on May 4th Malaysian time)

Jeez! And that totalled up to 29 hours! GRRREEAAT!! That was the longest May3rd AkiraSabine had ever had in her life!

There were lotsa APs like her as she went down for breakfast the next day. Everyone looked so excited being in the USA. They were excited to meet up with their new American families and living in the new neighbourhoods.

“What would you do when a child had difficulty in breathing and couldn’t speak? “
“What would you do when you meet with a car accident?”
“What would you do when a child refuses to listen to you?”
“What would you do when the teenage girl you care for told you to keep a secret from her parents?”

Those were among the questions raised and discussed during the 3 days’ academy. In the evenings, short trips were made to catch sights of the New York city.

A bus ride from Terminal 1 to 2 @ Pudong Airport

A friendly uncle narrating his life experience in the USA

"Thank God, they served you!"

Arriving at The San Francisco Airport

Was it snow down there?

Brazillians, German, Kiwi, Malaysian - cracked their heads

The city famous with yellow cabs!

Looking out to the remains of the World Trade Centre

Sunday, May 16, 2010

This Time Last Year

This time last year, I was an office executive.
This time last year, I travelled to Bangkok once every 2 weeks.
This time last year, I stayed on my own all by myself.
Bla bla bla, I ended mails with 'krob khun mak ka' and introduced myself to many yummy Thai food.
Bla bla bla, PI, PP, SCM, Evap were my main vocabs.
Bla bla bla, morning - meetings, evening - meetings, night time - work.
... ... ... I worked with fathers and brothers and it was fun.
... ... ... I would have to ask 'what, why, how, who, where,' about the dairy processes.
... ... ... Vendors called me to make appointments for profile presentations.
... ... ... I had to know how much money we'd spent.
... ... ... I had to keep track of our assets to ensure that hey were really coming down to us which I still think it was unnecessary.
... ... ... I watched us being bullied.
... ... ... I felt myself bullied.
... ... ... I kept track of the dismantling, crating and transportation of equipments larger than I was.

That but not all made me an overwhelmed, frustrated chap.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Story of A Young Chef

Hello peeps,

AkiraSabine(AS) is right now reporting from Seattle, Washington. Woohoo! Things have been great so far and today's the 4th day she's here after her 3 days in New Jersey. Yesterday was BBQ day with the host family and the extended family. AS is impressed with her host mom. She used to be a caterer, by the way and yesterday she saw her expertise put into use. Throwing a party to her seems to be just at her fingertips. We had salami with cheese, grilled lamb ribs and steaks, Italian-style baked cod fish, chips with separate salsa and lime avocado dip, corns, salad and not forgetting wine. Talk about super yummy dummy food!

AS thought her host kid's cute but his cousins are just as cute! But hey, her kiddo is no doubt still NUMMER EINS! Guess what he did today. A nine year old boy preparing breakfast for his mom on MOTHER'S DAY! AS's like so impressed with him and no wonder he's the pride of his mom! Hash brown for breakfast! That's what we had this morning!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Mission Just Kicked Off

34 hours delayed publishing due to limited access to the internet....
AkiraSabine(AS) has arrived at New Jersey since 2 hours back and the time here is 12 hrs behind her home country's.

OK, so all packing fuss has finally come to an end. Akira's family threw a farewell BBQ bash for her yesterday and she's indeed touched with the effort. Family and friends alike attended and it was great catching up before her departure.

Today, Sunday (May 2nd, 2010) nope.. it's already Monday the 3rd. So yesterday, she did her final packing, bought a lip balm. She was advised to get one as the weather in her destination is very dry unlike what she's been experiencing in her home county, hot and humid all year round.

Throughout the whole evening, she was in her room solving a major issue. Things she planned to bring couldn't fit into her backpack so, she unloaded her bag, went through everything, thought hard if it's an essential , get 1 or 2 items out, and reloaded the bag. She hoped it fitted this time but NO! so you can imagine the number of times she ran through this cycle.

Geez.. there must be a solution to this and of course it had to come to that. So, God bless Akira and she was ready to go. So yeah, it seems the gate has opened and she's supposed to be waiting there instead. The flight's gonna take off 30 mins from now! Ciao!

The satisfied Akira felt a self accomplished. Fuh, finally!

Engrossed in her blogging right at this spot!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

They call it Career Break!

Well, AkiraSabine(AS) shouldn't be spending her time writing here but instead doing her packing which is very critical now. She'll be at the local airport this Sunday and shall arrive at the birth place of Starbucks in more than 24 hours! This is the longest flight, no.. FLIGHTS to her so far and she can't imagine how the experience would be. Lets see if she would put them down in words in future posts.

Well, this morning she was over at the apartment she's been staying sorting out things. Now, those possible items required has been shipped, well not by ship anyway, home here at her parent's place. They're all over the floor and she's gonna get started trimming down things to fit into her backpack.

She's striving to leave in a backpack+daypack. Would it be possible? It doesn't seem likely for now. She's gonna get her creative juice flowing in order to do that. Pick out things to drop and leave back home.

Among the essential items she could think of:-
Clothings - very important! for summer/winter
Good shoes
Documents to get out and about
Camera, netbook, mobile phone, adaptors to these appliances and of course the universal travel adaptor
Pen and pad
Money, money, money!
Other minor but yet important items

Alrighty, off to take action and wish AS luck!
She'd be a very frustrated traveller if she left something behind!

Other than packing, some pending tasks in her checklist are :-
- To ensure mom has been a good student absorbing lessons well on Gmail and FB.
- To ensure dad's gentle to the Kelisa and she'd be rest assured her baby is well taken care of.
- To pay granny a visit.
- To meet up friends before her departure
- To show up on Saturdays' farewell courtesy of my family members!
- To do the pre-departure mini project as per required.
- To clear and organize things in both homes.
- To do her last 2 days of part time and get her final pay out

Wanderer is off for a longer trip this time. Adios and she hopes after this trip her wanderlust is cured and she shall stay put.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baking Day: Cotton Cheecake

AkiraSabine(AS) has thought for a long time to resume her baking. She remembered she had the cream cheese she bought last year(not even in Nov or Dec 09). She will have to use it unless she wished to see another molded cheese she'd seen in the earlier slabs. "But then again, we do have molded cheese or they call it fermented cheese in the market, don't we? The blue cheese, to be exact." AS is too lazy to look the details up. "Readers particularly those who breathe and live on cheese, your enlightenment is much appreciated!"

AS has a recipe she got from the local daily - The Star Newspaper many years back. Here's a link to the online page. She had tried this recipe many times and she thought, "Why not, this time too?!"

So, one fine day over the weekends at her family's home, with recipe in hand, she searched high and low for the equipments and gathered the ingredients she needed. The cleaning, drying and measuring took place followed by the messy egg white-yolk separation, cream beating, sieving, folding in, you name it. AS knew from experience she never can get her eggs separated perfectly. Thus, she chilled the eggs for a while in the freezer before separating and letting them to warm up to room temperature.

The oven door just shut close. The batter looked fine and the baker prayed hard!

What a mystical look and the baker noticed something wrong! "Why is the middle sinking?"

Taking a closer look, the baker told herself, "Stop scaring the hell out of yourself. Everything is under control! "

"See, isn't it? Doesn't it look perfectly professional?"

The baker poked with a fork and took it out. "Cooked to perfection," she smiled to herself. She cut her first rectangular piece. Hmm.. tastes so very NICE! The cheese.. hMMMmm! Simply love it! It's so so soft! You can see it for yourself the fluffy texture from the bits.

However, because AS is honest, she has to concede that the bottom had a thick heavy texture. That was not the first time such thing happened. There had always been a sinking layer at the bottom of the baked result. AS can tell you what it was. It's the sweetened egg white which she mixed in separately. It was frothily smooth and light when she mixed the beaten egg white in but for some reason not to AS's comprehension, it always ended up sinking at the bottom.

Anyone would like to play mentor here? Also, how do you solve the small coagulation(lumps) when you fold your flour into the yolk+cream mixture. Something you normally see when you mix milk powder into hot water.

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