Monday, December 10, 2007

After a long wait and then some, it's finally here!!!

My permanent resident card that is! As the date for us to get on that jet plane and leave for Kuala Lumpur fast approaches [3 more days!!!!], this comes just in time! Although I wasn't really thinking about it too much, this definitely reduces the hassle and hopefully makes travel a whole less cumbersome... I am not so sure how the process went for the rest of you but for me, it seemed that it took a long time... when I was first issued my green card in August 2005, it was for 2 years or 'conditional' and 3 months before the 2 years were up, you were supposed to file USCIS Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.

Forseeing my impending trip back home in December 2007, I decided that sooner was better as I didn't want to take any chances so in January of this year, I gathered all my documents and filed my petition. I received a Notice of Receipt early February and immediately scheduled to get my biometrics done and this was completed at the end of February. Then the wait began, I received a letter in March saying that my petition has been filed and the letter extended my current greencard for a year from its current expiration date. I later read that some processing centers had backlogs up to 18 months! In any case, I was not looking forward to traveling with an expired greencard despite the letter of extension because who knows what sort of delays to expect.

It took 9 months since the date of filing to receive my new green card in the mail, thankfully the next time I need to renew it is in 2017! Overall though, it wasn't too bad, everyone in the processing center were so friendly and cheerful and my only advice is to read every single thing on the form, answer all questions [mark N/A if not applicable so that they know you've addressed the question], provide as many of the requested supporting documents and I like to be organized and list everything on a cover letter and attach all supporting as appendices. That has never failed me to date as I've not gotten any forms returned for insufficient support or incomplete forms. Lastly, be HONEST!!! Honesty goes a long way and will work towards you favor in the end. For those of you who are initiating this process or awaiting for approval, good luck and don't worry too much about it, it'll take time but will come through!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Under the weather

Despite all the Airborne, Zicam, vitamin C and gallons of water, I STILL fell sick!!! I guess no running away from the typical wintery blues!

Nevertheless, I found a little cheer from one of my fellow blogger friends,
She sent me this....



Are these little cute Shar-Pei's cute or what??? More importantly is thank you to all my blogger friends out there who share their semangat muhibbah and of course allow me to share in the funny/cute antics their little ones are up to!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It is nice to come home to...

A spotless house! Dishes washed and put away, 2 loads of laundry washed and dried, the mountain of shopping from the previous day all put away, sheets washed, pillows fluffed... spotless :) And I owe this all to JJ. He had to work this weekend but went out of his way because he knew I was stressed out with all the shopping I needed to get done before we left for Malaysia.

Some of you who read this may think that the man doing housework is normal... BUT this man is a little different... he usually does his 'clean up' of his designated 'areas' but the rest, he will usually help with when I ask him to, 'ask' being the operative word so the abovementioned tasks we beyond his 'job-description'... thank you honey, that was so thoughtful and sweet!

Anyways, I am glad this weekend is over! I was dreading it to begin with but after 16 hours of braving holiday shoppers, traffic, rain and $3,000 poorer, it is DONE!!!!! We're all set to get on that plane, hopefully relax and enjoy our families!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I never thought the day will come when...

I'd say I am TIRED of shopping!!! Today was pretty much a full work day with an update event for the Firm from 8 am to 3 pm. During some down time during the update, I took the opportunity to jot down all the errands we need to complete before we leave... so far, I have 47!!!!! So I headed out and started on it.... it's 9.30pm now, bone weary with my legs propped up on the sofa, I am about ready to call it quits!!! I only managed to cross off 4 things... oh well, tomorrow is another day, nothing warm clothes, comfy shoes and a venti non-fat green tea latte from Starbucks won't fix!

Sometimes I have to sit and wonder if everyone who's in love or having a baby or getting married feels like they are the first to experience such emotions... in as much as I am freaking out about getting things ready in time, I know it'll work out in the end.

For those of you who are fighting in the throngs of crazy holiday shopping, good luck and hold on to your kids [at one of the stores earlier this evening, they announced over the PA system that 3 kids were left unattended... it amazes me to think that some parents can be so careless... especially with all the the scary things you read/watch on the news these days!]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kiam Chye Buoy Recipe

I have been asked by some friends and bloggers alike to share this simple recipe which is one of the available options when dealing with leftover roasts of any kind and being in the theme of the season, the leftover of choice used in this recipe is none other than Turkey!

Word of caution though, the proportion is strictly guess-timation since my mother was giving me instructions over the phone. Also a note for those trying, apparently you’re supposed to boil the aromatics first before putting in the carcass but I was on the way home last night and just told JJ to go ahead and fill up my stock pot with water and drop the turkey it and by the time I got home [1 ½ hours later], I had a flavorful broth going.

Side story though which just makes me shake my head and giggle… for those of you who don’t know my fiancĂ© JJ, he is as ‘white’ as you can get, his father is American and mother is English so whenever I experiment in the kitchen with my Malaysian/Asian cooking, he just scrunches up his nose and chuckles about me cooking my mumbo-jumbo ‘jungle’ cuisine… you’d think having spent a couple of years in the vast Peruvian jungles, he’d know what jungle food is! :)

Anyways, back to the funny story, I tell him to fill up the stock pot with filtered water and drop the turkey in when it starts boiling and before I hung up, I just thought that I better make sure that my instructions were clear and kind of kidded that he should remember to remove the FOIL the turkey was wrapped in… let me just say that lucky thing I said that or else I would have come home to a pot of boiled foil-wrapped carcass! Silly boy!

Alright, back to the recipe;

Kiam Chye Buoy [Hot-Sour-Spicy Mustard Greens Soup]

½ turkey carcass [we don’t eat dark meat so together with half of the body, I included one drumstick and wing, probably totaled 2 pounds]

Aromatics
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
5 pieces dried tamarind slices [assam keping]
20 dried red chillies
20 cili padi split [because I like it HOT! Feel free to omit or lessen quantity]
Golf ball sized tamarind pulp mixed with 1 cup water, strained and discard seeds and pulp
1 pack preserved mustard

Vegetable
3 lbs of Chinese mustard [not sawi, sure what it’s called in Chinese, I’ll check when I get home tonight], washed thoroughly and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces.
Optional – Leftover ju-hu char [stir fried jicama with cuttlefish]
1 tomato – cut into wedges

Instructions:
1. Fill stock pot till ¾ full with filtered water, boil.
2. Add all aromatics, bring to boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. Taste to ensure sourness level is okay, if not, add more tamarind pulp water.
3. Add carcass and allow to simmer for 1 ½ hours or so.
4. Add saltiness, hotness [with bird’s eye chillies] or sourness [with tamarind pulp water]
5. Add fresh vegetables and simmer till desired tenderness.
6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Love...

This is a sentimental post, reminiscing the early days when JJ and I were still dating... this was one of the very first piece of poetry he wrote me. One of the many reasons why I love him is because he pays attention to the little things in life that makes every day so special. Mom, I bet you've never seen this side of your huh eh?? :) [He's SO going to kill me!]

The beauty of your soul
Your magnificent innocents
That child like laugh
It makes you who you are

You fill me with wonder
Until I think I will burst
My heart you have captured
You are heaven on earth

The birds, they sing a jealous tune
When you walk the land beneath the moon

The stars, they cry their yellow tears
The Lords greatest creation they know is here

The trees, they sigh when your presence is felt
For comfort they find in your endless well

How can I, a mere mortal man
Be so bold as to want your hand
So flawed and jaded from history past
I ask forgiveness and your love to last

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving this year was somewhat odd... it is the first year that it was just the both of us, last year, we had a housefull of people, with my parents and brother visiting from Malaysia and Jonathan's mother and her husband coming in from Savannah, GA... we also had several neighbors who did not have family nearby to spend Thanksgiving with, we always try to invite people who are alone over the holidays to share it with us because I can only imagine how awful it must be to not have anyone to share the holidays with!

In any case, I was not to be detered, I wanted to keep the tradition going even if it were just the two of us! As with last year, my planning/timing was horrendous, dinner was served at 6 pm! I cooked a 11 pound turkey with apple and sage sausage dressing, potato gratin and apple pie for dessert, since it was only the 2 of us, I did not bother too much with balancing the ratio of carbs/protein/fiber etc :). It all turned out yummy but since I am not a fan of turkey, we had tonnes of leftover... I already have plans to make kiam chye buoy [hot-sour soup with mustard greens] with the turkey carcass... yummy! :)



Food talk aside, Thanksgiving has always been a time of reflection and gratitude for me, a time to recap the year's events and to remind myself of the bountiful blessings I have been showered with. I am guilty of allowing the business of career and daily living to put me into auto-pilot and I sometimes forget to take the time out of life to think about all the beautiful things in life and to be thankful for them because if I did it more often, I think I would realize how fortunate I really am. I sometimes catch myself in the midst of grumbling during early morning rush hour just really notice how beautiful Nashville is, especially where we live as there is lush greenery in abundance everywhere and with the brilliant crimson/gold/bronze everything is during the autumn, it seems to be picture perfect.

I am very thankful for the love of my fiancé which in itself is so complete and all encompassingand is based on honesty, equality, intellectualism, romance and playfulness.

I am very thankful that I am able to love and that the love is returned to me.

I am very thankful that I am healthy and that the people I love are healthy.

I am very thankful that I have dreams to follow and goals to strive for.

I am very thankful for the beauty of nature - magnificent hills, the colorful leaves, the smell of jasmine in our front yard, the setting sun, the beautiful harvest moon

Everywhere I look I see the wonders of nature and I feel so proud to be a small part of it

I am very thankful for all the good people in the world

I am very thankful that I have good friends

I am very thankful to be alive in a time when we can make the world a better place to live in

Ah… life, it truly many splendid things!

I hope that each and every one of you had a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Here at last...

Warmest greetings and welcome to my brand new online haven.

I have been giving this a considerable amount of thought for a while and decided to go ahead and do this so that I can share our lives with all our family and friends who are spread out all over the country and overseas. In addition to this, I think this is an excellent means of capturing my thoughts and life experiences. Hopefully, if we're to be richly blessed, our future children will be able to look into our lives before them :)

The webpage address of choice stems from the story of my life to date and in order to capture the emotion behind it, I am going to share something I wrote during the Thanksgiving season two years ago.

"As I sit here in my little home, I look out the window and wonder what happened to the beautiful maple tree which once proudly stood there with its leaves ablazed in its magnificent crimson glory… now, it is almost bare and solitary looking, I sure wouldn’t want to be that tree, all stripped of its crowning glory and left bare to the harsh elements of the fast approaching winter season… I feel sad for it, but I know the stillness of winter holds a promise of such unimaginable abundance come spring time…

I guess that is how I see my life to be... I have to remind myself that I cannot judge the rest of my life based on only one season. Many people have asked me how do I even function after having to face such heartbreaking challenges and all that comes to mind is what someone very dear to me once said... that if I give up during the harsh winter season, that I shall miss the promise of my spring, the beauty of my summer and the fulfillment of my fall. I want to believe that the essence of who I am, the pleasure, joy and love that come from this life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up."

So here I am, with a head full of dreams, heart full of hope, soul full of faith... all excited to continue the journey of life and see what the future unfolds... to quote Shakespeare, "To unpathed waters, undreamed shores".

And so it is.

So again, welcome friends, please kick off your shoes, get comfy and let the sharing begin.