Friday, January 30, 2009

It has been a week

It has been a week since we arrived in Malaysia. We got a hard time trying to access to the wireless connection, and the ADSL didn't work on my computer.

We just got back from a 3 days trip in Hatyai Thailand. It was a massage heaven.

Anyway, just want to wish you all a very happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Out of the blogsphere autoreply

On est en vacances (We are on vacation)
On est en vacances (We are on vacation)
On est on est on est en vacances (We are we are we are on vacation)

I will be out of the blogsphere for 3 weeks. I might not be able to update the blog as much as I want. In case of boredom, please visit other blogs listed on my blog list.


Side note: We woke out this morning, feeling totally thrilled and content. The weather was not cooperating but well, we are going to have abundant of sun in 25 hours. We are taking the train to the CDG airport and will have a lay over time of 6.5 hours before the departure. Anyway, what I hope is no strike, no cancel flight due to the bad weather. Hubby packed the luggages and I hope they will arrive in good shape. Ok, we are off!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What I'm bring home

My family gave me a list of things to bring home from France. Since their last visit, they know exactly what French products that they appreciate.

My mother's favorite sesame baguette stick. I bought 10 of them as I have 5 families to distribute. My sisters are informed about the organic salt and they said that Brittany produces excellent salt that even the discovery channel features about this product. Ok, 1kg salt for them.

I couldn't resist Yves Rocher's parfum so I bought some for my sisters.

My in laws bought us 6 boxes of galettes de Bretagne, the famous butter cookies to give to my family members. A total of 3kg here!

Look at all the French products that I'm bringing home! They are at least 10kg here. My family is totally in love with the Brittany cider but since we are limited to 1 liter of alcohol per person, we simply can't bring much. I still need to buy the Eiffer Tower VSOP cognac from the airport. I have no idea what to bring for the kids so some chocolates should do the job.

How can we miss the French wine? Due to the quota we are only bringing one. It will be something from our collections.

Hope they are going to like all these!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Speed ticket and la carte de vitale (healthcard)

Note: This is not the real speed ticket, who could have driven at 348km/h!

I have finally received the speed ticket. In fact I was driving at 117km/h, 7km/h above the speed limit. After some technical adjustment, I was being fined for exceeding 1km/h over the allowed speed. Talk about luck! They are nice enough to give you a discount price at 45 euros if you pay within 30 days through internet.

On the other hand, I was overjoyed with this new healthcard (la carte vitale). Since the arrival in France, I was always holding a card with hubby's social security number. The fact that we have been living together for more than 2 years entitled me to have health care access like everyone else. However if we separate, I would have lost this right. Now that I'm working, I get to have the card on my own social security number, which means I'm eligible for the healthcare system in total independent from hubby. I feel like a grown up now, not having to depend on anyone else anymore.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shopped till shops closed

I had my third attempt for the sale with some friends. We shopped for 3-4 hours till shops closed but I still haven't finished everything I wanted to buy for my family. Almost all shops in down town close at 7pm even on a Saturday. Since they are closed on Sunday there is no way that I can go back to check them out before going back to Malaysia.

Anyway, we were having a lot of fun chatting non stop while checking out good deals. At one point I felt like those girls in Sex and the City, have lunch talk about guys then do shopping together. I got so many tips from my girlfriends that I felt like a newbies in this arena. Free gifts in Yves Rocher, cheap shampoos and bathroom products in Saga, winter coat in Pimky and Camaieu, cosmetics in Sephora and etc... so much to learn as these brands were unknown to me before moving to France.

I bought this winter coat. It was not love at the first sight kind of impulse purchase but rather I was tired of looking and trying. I wanted ideally a red coat but I couldn't find any that goes well with me. So I settle with this for now.

I wanted so bad to continue the shopping so even after the shops were closed, I still browsed through their windows one by one. When I saw this red coat, I almost scream and just hope that they let me in and try it out! Well, a woman is never satisfied I guess.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Me and one of my coworkers are getting really excited as our vacation is just around the corner. I will be gone for 3 weeks and she would be off right after my return for 2,5 weeks.

My trip was planned 3 months ago and it was easily approved by my superior. It is one of the advantages to live in France, as people here respect highly the right to be on vacation. I have seen a guy getting a month off to stay in the mountain.

In Malaysia, it is very hard for a non managerial position employee to get more than one week off. Blogger Kee Yit is having hard time getting her two days Chinese New Year leaves approved. Of course there are always exception especially in the small and medium enterprises, but most likely people will be taking unpaid leaves as most Malaysians only get 2 weeks annual leave, compared to 5-6 weeks in France.

My mother was surprised that I get to take so many weeks off. It was unthinkable for her as when she applied for vacation to visit me in the USA, the most she could get was 2 weeks, and it was already an exception. The HR personal literally told her that if they gave her a long vacation, everyone else would follow suit and that could disrupt their production line. Eventually, she has to quit so that she can stay longer in the States.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I got flashed!

I was not supposed to drive today.

Half awaken, I walked towards our garage thinking that I could continue my sweet dream while my carpooler drives. That never happened as when I saw the garage, I also saw a car parked in front of it. Right in front of it, and the only car in front of a row of garages.

I had no choice but to call hubby who later called the police. While waiting for the police to arrive, a guy walked towards the car and saw me standing in front of the garage. He realized that he was preventing me from going out so he apologized. He said he didn't know people actually park their car inside the garage in this area as he has never seen car coming out. Plus someone parked on his spot so he has to park somewhere else. After giving all the excuses, he asked me:"If there is anything I can do." Well, I couldn't think of anything he could do at that time so I let him go.

All these chaos caused me 30 minutes and my carpoolers have long gone. The solo trip was going to be a 1h 20 minutes drive so I put on my musics and fell into deep thought. Then I got this on my face:

A flash! I got caught by a mobile radar, my very first radar flash in my life! It was raining and the cop was out working? I quickly look at the odometer and it showed I was driving 10-15 km/h above the speed limit. So I'm going to receive my first PV (Speed ticket) in France.

Well if I ever see that guy again, I should ask him to pay for this. I was not supposed to drive remember? As a side note, I broke my tire on a Tuesday, and today is Tuesday as well. I probably should not drive on Tuesday from now onward. :-(

Monday, January 12, 2009

King's cake from different countries

While researching for the king's cake yesterday I found that countries that have strong catholic influence do have their own version of Christmas or New Year cake.

The galette des rois, the only one I knew and have tried is from the northern France.


I was surprised to see that the gâteau des rois is actually quite different from the gallete des rois. This one from Provence has a hole in the middle and is decorated with colorful fruits.


Huguito sent me the link to wikipedia for the Portuguese Bolo rei. "Rei" here must mean king as it is similar to the French "roi". It looks so yummy, I can probably finish one by myself. :-)


Mexican Roscón de Reyes.


Rosca de Reyes from Spain. It looks like the French baguette in round shape.


The King's cake crossed the Pacific Ocean and arrived at Louisiana. With the icing it looks so colorful but too sweet at the same time.


How I wonder why the Northern French galette des rois, the one we eat in Brittany, has no hole compare to the rest?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm the chef

If you are in France in January, you won't miss the tradition of eating la galette des rois or king's cake. This cake is associated with the festival of epiphany, where the 3 kings arrive at Bethlehem to honor the Christ's son. We won't have eaten this cake if my BIL was not coming. For me it is more a fun event for the kids, as the youngest in the family has to hide under the dining table and shout out who would be the recipient of the cake cut into several pieces. Kids are usually excited to get the trinket hidden in the cake and to be crowned as the king of the day. The trinket could be from any famous characters. I got the trinket this time and it was the fat chef character from "Ratatouille". Nice.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Converted to three columns template

I had wanted to change to three columns template but most of the templates I found were for wordpress. Finally I found a bunch here. One of the advantages about the templates provided in this site is that they are the upgrade version of the existing blogger two columns template. For example, my two columns template in green has been upgraded to the 3 columns template, still in green.

Unfortunately, these templates are not perfect and they do have many bugs. Before converting, it is wise to save a hard copy of the existing source code. I have spent hours to find out how to put back my background image as it disappeared after the conversion and it didn't appear when I switched back to the two columns one. Someone raised this issue by commenting on the site but later this person found the answer himself. Apparently you have to go to delete the header element and recreate it. To delete the header element you need to go to the HTML of the template and replace the locked='true' to 'false' in the div tag for the header. Remove the header completely then recreate it. The background image was still off and I had to readjust the photo size to make it fit.

Anyway, if you guys have problems viewing / commenting or it takes too long to load compared to last time, please let me know.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Just love this photo

Saw this photo in my photobank. Taken back in 2003, my first Christmas in France. I didn't know where I got the courage to go to Alsace to see the snow. I won't want to do it now.

The natural art in winter

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sale starts on Wednesday!

With this kind of weather (-6c today), one needs to have good news to get motivated. France is having it's annual sales on 7 January, and since it only happens twice a year, it usually attracts abundant of shoppers who are price conscience.

I was never too excited for sales in France because:
1. I don't know how to appreciate their fashion. Remember the hippy skirt? I didn't find it nice at all.
2. I don't like to shop when the shops are too crowded
3. I was not working so I was not proud of using someone else money to buy stuff for myself
4. Shopping during winter is not that fun. For one, if you need to try a cloth, you need to take off those layers of clothes you have on yourself, too much trouble.

This year is different, mainly I can proudly say I can afford to buy stuff if I want. I'm eyeing for a warm coat as this weather is really killing me. Most of the French wear black coat and I found it so boring. Black coat in a grey day, isn't it depressing?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My FIL's scallop recipe

I had blogged about the scallop fishing and the preparation process here. Now I shall share my FIL's recipe on how to cook the scallop.

After shucking the scallop, remove the flesh that surrounds the white meat (la noix). Some people discard the flesh completely, but my FIL only takes out the dark part and keep the rest (les barbes in French) (pink and purple color flesh).

Chop the remaining flesh and clean them carefully. Some people believe that this part of the scallop gives the best taste but it takes longer time to cook. Pan fry them for a while. Another side dish he prepared was slide carrot, pan fried.

Add in the scallop to the pan with the flesh and then pour in some cognac. As a side note, in this family cognac is only served for cooking purposes, they don't drink them like the Malaysians!

Light a match on the surface of the pan and flame it off. Let it flame for around 1 to 2 minutes.

Et voilà, the scallop is served with the carrot. Do not overdose the cognac as the dish could turn out bitter.

Enjoy your meal!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What is a "poularde"

A "poularde" is a fatty chicken that is grown in a particular way to avoid that it reaches sexual maturity. It consists of a young hen which is raised free range for the first part of its life and fed with corn, cereals and milk. Then just before it reaches sexual maturity, it is placed in a cage and maintained in the dark to be fattened for few weeks. In this way, the young hen do not reach sexual maturity, resulting in a very meaty bird (around 1.8Kg), covered of an important layer of fat, with a very tender, moist and milky flesh, but slightly on the bland side. The most famous region of production of poulardes are Le Mans and the Bresse regions of France.
Source: included a recipe on how to cook a poularde

A capon is a rooster (cockerel) whose reproductive organs have been removed at a young age (caponization). Typically, the castration is performed when the chicken is between 6 and 20 weeks old. The benefits to this process are non-aggressive males which produce ample, tender meat when butchered, and as such are a choice poultry meat in some locales.

My comment:
It is hubby's family tradition to have poularde (or capon?) as lunch on Christmas day. My favorite was actually the chestnut my FIL made to go with it. Sincerely, I don't find the meat more tender, moist and milky flesh, but it did have more meat compared to a regular chicken.

Friday, January 02, 2009

I'm disgusted

I'm disgusted. So disgusted.

Our former Prime Minister is having advertisement on his blog, and not any type of classy ad, but a lousy one.

Just imagine, you want to browse through the former French President Jacque Chiraq's blog and you see this on the banner: an ad for safe deposit box? What does it have to do with what the ex-premier going to say?


Look at the rate. It is not cheap, RM1k per day.

I felt like this who ads thing has deteriorated the image of his blog. I don't think he needs the money after governing Malaysia for 22 years? I'm not sure how rich he is but surely he has enough to survive? I really didn't expect this. I thought he was the wise man giving out his point of view after retired from the political arena. I'm simply disappointed.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's eve dinner chez L & S

Location: Rennes, France
Reservation: By invitation only
Cuisine: French with international touch
Drinks: Margaritas, white and red wines, champagne
Strong points: Creativity & presentation

This table was reserved for 7 guests.

The variety of appetizers: The purée or mashed sauce are made of avocados, liver, cauliflowers with the top decoration of red caviar, Indian mixed nuts and some shrimps.

Continued the appetizer tour: scallop with red pepper purée.

First course: la mâche (one kind of salad) with scallop, cherry tomatoes and wrapped curry shrimp.

Main course: chicken with chestnuts, potatoes and dried prunes. I was told that this was not any ordinary chicken, but a chicken that had been grown up drinking milk.

Dessert: Kiwi tiramisu

The verdict: Excellent, we almost exploded our stomach!
Wishing everyone a splendid 2009!