february gloom

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Greetings again everyone! Are we still in wintry, grey February, by any chance? It is the shortest month in the year, but here in England, it seems like the longest month ever! Because Spring is round the corner (supposedly), most people here just want February to end quickly and make way to the warmer, colourful March. But such is not the case of course. February lingers on, like an annoying relative who just wouldn’t leave (just an expression, I don’t have any annoying relatives, at least, I don’t think so anyway). Oh well, you just have to find some clever ways to beat the gloom I suppose!

my son, a picture of permanent gloom, can't wait for his GCSEs to be over!

my son, a picture of permanent gloom, can’t wait for his GCSE exams to be over!

As for me, I decided to join a weekly evening yoga class (set up for women in the community). I just can’t tell you how good it felt afterwards. It’s just the thing for me right now, I love it. Having some time to yourself is extremely crucial for busy moms like me. As a home educator, I always have my children with me. Therefore it is necessary to create some ‘me’ time to avoid feeling ‘burnt out’. Apart from that, I also had the opportunity to attend the local inter-faith gathering this month (my hubby’s an active participant). It has certainly broaden my horizon in many ways, meeting many lovely people from different backgrounds but with one common goal. The aim is to foster greater peace, understanding and equality in our global society. I felt rather overwhelmed when a couple of them approached me to have a chat, they knew I was my hubby’s other half. My hubby ensured I was introduced to several of them. I hope to attend such gatherings more regularly now. I feel that it’s important to make a difference in any small meaningful way I possibly can, especially in today’s complex world, seemingly full of hatred and violence. These great words of the famous Sufi poet Rumi struck me:

Beyond our ideas of right doing and wrong doing,

There is a field. I’ll meet you there. 

When the soul lies down in that grass,

The world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, languages, even the phrase ‘each other’ 

don’t make sense any more.

My older two when small, at peace. I wonder what sort of world their future holds

My older two when small, at peace. I wonder what sort of world their future holds

I continue to home educate the younger two now that the older two are at secondary level

I continue to home educate the younger two now that the older two are at secondary level

All that aside, delicious food almost always cheer us up of course! As mentioned before, I’m not a food blogger, I don’t make it a habit to display what I cook daily. But from time to time, I guess I don’t quite mind sharing a few dishes. I cook a variety of food; mainly Indian and Western. I don’t really cook Malay cuisines that much anymore, even though I used to love them a lot. These days my big daughter is in the kitchen too; she loves baking cakes, desserts and making her very own home-made ice-creams. I’m not one for sweet dishes much, I wasn’t raised that way. We tend to focus solely on the main meal usually! But my hubby has a sweet tooth, just like the majority of the British people. So I guess it’s good that his big daughter loves preparing the last course! Okay folks, I have to end my chattering here. Hope to see you again in March, all being well! In the meantime, I shall be patient as I hang on to the last few days of February with this quote:

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. - Hal Borland

my big daughter, loves her books (like the rest) and preparing sweet treats!

my big daughter, loves her books (like the rest) and preparing sweet treats!

feb food

my curry spice pot, lamb bhuna; my big daughter’s butterfly cupcakes, raspberry tart

winter’s end

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February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March. ~J.R. Stockton

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.
~ Anne Bradstreet

The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.
~William C. Bryant

Hello everyone, how are you? Finally we are at winter’s end here, the early signs of Spring already in place. Temperature’s climbed up to almost 10c where we are, lots of rain forecasted for the next seven days though. Which is good of course as the plants can all grow again! I need to do a major garden tidy-up once Spring is official, something I look forward to. It’s rather therapeutic to be honest. Right now it’s a week’s half term break here for us. My older two are at home, so I’m extra busy. But it’s nice to have them all together, I’m the sort who loves the chaos and madness of a large family. I remember when I was young I vowed to have more children than my mom did. Well, I have 1 extra, I guess that counts! I have nothing much to blog about at the moment but I still feel like blogging! Will make up for it, I promise. I leave you with some random pictures I’ve taken recently, hope you will like them. It’s a bit difficult to snap pictures of my older two now that they’re teenagers, they’re not so willing to pose for me these days. Unlike when they were younger, how I miss them being small. Why do children grow up so fast? Anyway, will be back real soon, all being well. Take care till we met again!

I would like to wish all those celebrating Chinese New Year a fabulous time with your loved ones!

our crocuses are out, a sign that Spring's on its way!

our crocuses are out, a sign that Spring’s on its way!

my middle daughter with our local farm's  Shetland pony

my middle daughter with our local farm’s Shetland pony

my youngest loves the rabbits at the local farm

my youngest loves the rabbits at the local farm

fg

red roses on my kitchen table, I have fresh flowers in several rooms almost everyday!

my older two by Mona Lisa portrait in 20007, how I wish they were still as small!

my older two by Mona Lisa portrait in 20007, how I wish they were still as small!

longing for spring

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They say that spring is coming,

They tell me winter is through

I listen for the birds now

And dream of nightingales too

Yet still a chill comes over me

When will my heart feel like singing?

Though clouds today are winter gray

Could grass be green? Am I dreaming?

Who could say that spring is here?

It looks like snow late this evening

I’m longing for that morning

when winter will give way to spring…

(Artist : Greg Erwin)

my lil ones in spring

they look forward to the warmer months!

they look forward to the warmer months, when all comes to life again

the birds shall return to our garden!

someone to love

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They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world:

someone to love, something to do, something to hope for. - Tom Bodett

Greetings everyone! I came across this headline in The Independent newspaper today, ‘Loneliness a major problem in England.’ Hmm, what can I say, a very sad predicament indeed. In this day and age, when people seem to have everything, yet there are many out there who are lonely. I think it only emphasises that money can’t buy you happiness. Material things only give you instant gratification. Happiness comes from being with others. So what about the 24/7 connection you have with others then? We live in an age of high technology, we are all connected to everyone we ever knew as well as strangers. How can one still be lonely with thousands of ‘friends’ out there? Because those people do not really matter to you. They are not there for you in your ‘real’ life. At the end of the day, in your daily existence, you need someone to love, you need someone by your side. You need a family of your own. This is part of our human makeup that cannot be denied or substituted. No point saying, I’m fine on my own! When you get to a certain age, you feel the need to settle down with that special someone. Every normal living mortal will have that urge.

me in the early days of marriage

me in the early days of marriage

Memories of my own strong feelings to settle down suddenly came flooding back. Two decades have passed by, but I still remember it all. I was alone in a foreign land, pursuing my Masters program. I was to proceed with a PhD afterwards then return to Malaysia to teach at my alma mater. But I couldn’t resist this strong inclination to accept the marriage proposal from this wonderful man who is now my husband. Should I have refused him then, perhaps finished all my studies first? Would he have waited for me? That’s not even the point though, I really felt I should tie the knot at that moment in time, I was truly ready. It felt right. Like a jigsaw puzzle, suddenly all the pieces fitted well together. I knew marriage was the best thing for me. Nothing else mattered. Call me self-centred if you wish, but I knew I was embarking upon a lifetime journey, a new episode in my life. There was no turning back. And he wasn’t ‘foreign’, he was perfect for me! It felt so good and I was over the moon when my parents finally gave me their blessings. They flew to London with both my sisters to attend the wedding, Alhamdulillah! The loneliness deep within me disappeared, I then felt complete.

my hubby, the 'foreigner' who stole my heart

my hubby, the ‘foreigner’ who stole my heart

All that seemed like a lifetime ago. Our son came along two years later, followed by our 3 daughters. I now have 4 other versions of my hubby and myself! My youngest is almost 6 now, where has the time gone? My son was just reminding me the other day that he will be off to University in a couple of years, all being well. I can’t believe it somehow. Seems only yesterday my late father was cradling him in his arms! Time goes by so quickly sometimes, it’s a bit daunting. But what keeps us going is that someone to love, who’s always there for you, no matter what. How do you find that someone? By being a special someone yourself, worthy of someone’s love and attention for the rest of their life. It doesn’t really matter if you found that person yourself, or arranged through family, as the norm with many Asian Indo-Pak families here in England. It’s your intention that matters. If you want your marriage to work, you will do what it takes to keep it going. Both parties have to give their best. Sacrifice, commitment, loyalty, some common words in your married life. Too much for you? Back to the headlines then, the dreaded word ‘loneliness’. I knew I didn’t want to stay on that path…

ret

no selfie yet at the time, just our camera on self-timer!

I fell in love with this song about the time I met my husband, I used to think how beautiful the lyrics were.

maintain summer

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February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer. ~  Shirley Jackson

Winter teaches us about detachment, numbness. But it’s a way to get through. From winter we learn silence and acceptance and the stillness thickens. ~ Gail Barison

One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter. ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

maintain summer, even in winter: my 4 babies, enjoying a hot summer's day, Winchcombe 2011

maintain summer, even in winter: my 4 babies, enjoying a hot summer’s day, Winchcombe 2011

Greetings everyone! It’s been very cold here of late, and this week it’s going to be freezing! It’s hard to imagine that Spring is around the corner, seems ages yet! To be honest with you, I don’t quite mind the cold so much. I guess I’ve got used to it after almost 2 decades in England. I find it rather refreshing when I feel the cold air brush my face (my hubby finds it amazing I cannot tolerate the blazing heat in Malaysia anymore). I just don’t like the shorter days though, the fact that by 5 p.m it’s already dark and the temperature drops further. The dull and gloom gets to me a bit. This is when I pine away for the long summer days which seem to stretch endlessly. Especially at the peak (June), when dusk is way after 9 p.m!

my son, enjoying the lazy summer by Broadsands Beach, South Devon

my son, enjoying the lazy summer by Broadsands Beach, South Devon

I guess the key in sustaining your general happiness and well-being is to maintain summer, even in the depths of winter! My younger version was a bit of a free spirit, the world was my oyster basically. I suppose that’s what youth is all about anyway. I’m not quite like that anymore now that I’ve entered the middle-age domain. But my 4 children keep me young at heart, they are happy and carefree, sometimes I wish they wouldn’t grow up so fast. When I feel bogged down by some depressing news (there’s too many these days don’t you think), my children’s antics in one form or another will distract me. There is no time really to mull much over what goes on outside my 4 walls, they keep me busy and focused.

my middle daughter, dreaming away in the soft sand at Barry Island, Wales

my middle daughter, dreaming away in the soft sand at Barry Island, Wales

Sometimes when I get too serious with life, I think of them and I lighten up. Raising 4 children without any family nearby certainly hadn’t been super easy for me. But we managed somehow (Alhamdulillah) and I now enjoy being with them more than ever. I just need to remind myself from time to time to smile, even in the depths of sorrow. For life is a constant cycle, there’s always ups and downs. Having young ones in my life (when I’m not so young anymore) helps a lot. They bring my hubby and I both chaos and cheer, and we sure need a lot of those right now. We live in an age where everything is more challenging and very trying, despite all the mod cons we seem to acquire. Anyway, enough chattering, I leave you with a feel good song that stays with me, a reminder of my carefree days. Lighten up me, stay young at heart!

Life in the 70s, 80s and early 90s was simpler yet vibrant. No gadgets/high tech but still felt on top of the world!