Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, as far as Texas goes, that is.

woke up this morning to below-freezing temperatures and scenes like THIS. Some schools have been delayed and some have closed altogether with the sleet and rain from last night and snowfall from this morning making the roads slicker than us hot-weather Abileneans are used to.

The cats are enthralled, peering out the window at all the falling snow and the whiteness outside. Heck, I'M enthralled. The dogs were pretty curious as I brought them out for their morning "rounds" but the biting wind wasn't as bad for them as it was for me, so we quickly retreated back into the house.

So, as usual, I go over to the computer and start monitoring the weather radars, once again, something I NEVER did in Malaysia.

For more snow pictures from this morning, click on Mr. Snow Cactus

For some short videos, click HERE


City Sidewalks Christmas Parade 2006

It was a good thing it wasn't today

or we would have been freezing our er.. ears off. It was mild enough yesterday to be out during the parade without a jacket on, and David was even sweating as we walked on over to the Civic Center for the tree lighting by the Mayor.

This afternoon, the temperature plummeted 30 degrees in the span of half an hour, and there's a chance of SNOW tonight/tomorrow! W00t! Not fun if you have to be working outside, but always exciting for someone from the tropics.

For more Parade Pictures, click on the guy in his John Deere

For more Tree Lighting Ceremony Pictures, click on the Christmas Tree

Hope everyone is snuggly warm this season.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I was hoping for rain

because it had been such a dry hot summer,

and now a dry fall season, with the total annual rainfall till today, still in the red,

but didn't realise it is going to be shot down from the sky at me in pellet form!! *sigh* I guess I'll take any form of moisture I can get.

Plus the winds out here are atrocious at times ( there is a large windmill farm project just a few miles away from us ) and so the wind chill has to be taken into account. ( think frostbite - time to get out those earmuffs )

On our part, David and I are making a list and checking it twice before the weather comes - a list of the 3 P's, that is - PIPES, PETS and PLANTS.

I think I'll add one more P to that. PETROL. Last winter there were a couple of times when the truck wouldn't start because it hadn't been "winterized", but I guess we now know better.

Oh well, maybe this will be the perfect time to go ice skating over at the new skating rink ( where proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity ) at Nelson Park which had to close for a few days because the ice was melting!! w00t!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

BBQ by moonlight in Autumn

David got us matching BBQ grills..

a while back when he was at an auction - a little "mummy" grill and a big "daddy" grill, both of which use coal/wood. I'm sure one day we'll have one of those top of the line fancy-schmancy propane-driven-with-umpteen-bells-and-whistles grills, but for now we've really enjoyed our mesquite ( m-skt, or for us non dictionary-inclined types, "me'skeet" ) smoked food, which is yummiliciouso!

Plus, we're in Texas, so there's an abundance of mesquite wood on our 5 acre property. I had not had the chance to sample much "smoked" meat back in Malaysia, let alone having seen a real smoker or BBQ grill set thingy, that it was all pretty neat. My first introduction to it was when David smoked some salmon for us a little over 3 years ago, but that's a story for another time. You can read more about mesquite HERE on Wikipedia.

So, anyway, last night, the weather was cool and not too windy, and so I thought, well, this would be a good time to fire up the mummy grill for some mesquite smoked/BBQ'd chicken. David prepared some mesquite coals for me and I happily put the marinaded meat on, and waited.

What had slipped my mind was that now, with winter approaching, and the weather turning, that the DAYS were also SHORTER. In other words, it got DARK on me real fast. Meaning, I had to go run to David for some McGyvering for me to see enough to continue "cooking" in the dark.

It was a lot of fun, though, listening to Christmas music on the radio and smelling the food cooking, listening to all the sizzling on the hot coals and the cool night breeze.

We even had enough for another meal today. wOOt!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Just like Grandma and Mother used to make

I may not receive the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for this..

but I did try my best to make some desserts that David wanted and had missed, for Thanksgiving, namely, Mincemeat Pie "like mother used to make" and Fried Apricot/Peach Pies "like Grandma used to make". And I'm not a big pastry baking person, nor have I ever attempted these before, so it was very rewarding when they were liked by everyone - well, maybe not so much the mincemeat pie, which is something that's of the "acquired taste" category.

The Mincemeat Pie

David and his mom would be the only ones who would eat any of this when she made it in his childhood. Started off with a jar of NoneSuch ( whoever came up with THAT marketing name, I wonder... I'll have to look it up.) mincemeat filling, and a couple of pie shells from Walmart , and at first it seemed like it would be pretty straight forward - pour the Jar of Mincemeat filling into the pie shell and flatten out another pie shell to cover it.

Till David suggested a basket weave/ latticed top. Google Images very quickly became my cooking tutor for THAT. ( courtesy of Pillsbury)


Er.. not TOO bad for a first attempt at some very tricky dough weaving

Fried Pies

This one, although pretty straight forward, was kinda time consuming/tedious, but it was all well worth it, to bring back one of the family's treasured traditions.

Part 1:

Mr. Ball of Dough --> Mr. Flattened ex-Ball of Dough

Part 2:

Boiled ( Dried Apricots + Dried Peaches ) + Splenda

Part 3

2 tablespoons of boiled fruit in each little flattened piece of dough, fold in half, and seal edges with a little water. Deep fry till golden brown

Part 4

Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and ground cinnamon and TADA!!

In Loving Memory of David's Mom.
We love you and miss you so much.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NOT ANOTHER Christmas Package Fiasco!

The Christmas Loot is on its way..

but not without a minor fiasco - like what else is new, but first,

the process

Now time for the fiasco part, in a nutshell :

Part I

*size limits for packages to Malaysia via US Postal Service: *

Parcel Post: Maximum length: 42 inches
Maximum length and girth combined: 79 inches
and I KNOW this.

*Mailman measures length and girth meticulously*

Mailman : "Sorry folks, it measures 80 inches. You're 1 inch over, we can't send it."

Letti & David : *Looks of bewildered amazement*

Mailman: "If you're not satisfied, I could measure it again."

Mailman measures length and girth a second time

Mailman : "Still 80 inches. Can't send it."

Letti refrains from screaming, and looks at the mailman with chinese devil woman eyes

Mailman: "Okay, we'll ask Cheryl here to measure it and see if that's right."

Cheryl proceeds to measure the length and girth

Cheryl: "70 inches. No problem."

Mailman: "..........."

Letti : *rolls eyes inwardly*

Part II

Aforementioned mailman looks with a frown at our shipping label..

Mailman: "Oh, I see you're sending this parcel to Malaysia. It's called Malaya now."

Letti : *Jaw drops for a good 10 seconds, and recovers* "Sir, Malaya's the old name. It's been Malaysia for a long time now. " ( Malaya became Malaysia in 1963, by the way )

Mailman : "Well, it's called Malaya now. That's what the computer says. In fact, it's ALSO called Malacca."

Letti: *Jaw drops for another 10 seconds* "Sir, Malacca is a STATE in Malaysia. Like Texas is a state in the United States. I'm from there, I should know."

Mailman: "I know you're from there, but the computer says 'Malacca' is what it's called."

Letti: *dumbfounded & looks over at the guy's computer screen*

Computer Screen : Malacca ( Malaysia ), Queensland (Australia), Tasmania (Australia)

Letti: "Sir, I think what that means is, they're showing the State first, and then the country it belongs to, in the brackets."

Mailman: "......."

Letti: "Try typing in 'Johor' - it's another state in Malaysia."

Computer Screen : Johor ( Malaysia )

Mailman : "Well, whaddayaknow."


Monday, November 20, 2006

I learnt a new word today!

TURDUCKEN ( noun, : er, sounds exactly as it is spelt )

So I'm going about my business, catching up on daily emails, blogs, myspaces, etc when this one word seemed to loom at me from out of nowhere, and I'm like WOARGH, that's even almost as funky as TOFURKY.

I'm sure lotsa people out there know what a Turducken is, but for us triple-fowl-recipe challenged ones, it's actually a de-boned (er, or boned, whichever school of English one subscribes to.. ) chicken stuffed in a de-boned duck, and both are then, er, stuffed in a de-boned turkey, just like the picture on the left. has a step by step guide to preparing this delicacy, and even breaks it down to the tur, duc and ken parts for easy reference. *lol* Those who prefer the gourmet flair, however, can go HERE for the Cajun Grocer's Award Winning Recipe.

Jeff-has-garu-power says that reading my blog is kinda like a mini documentary in itself, so here's the obligatory mini background on Turducken, compliments of who else, but :

A turducken ("TURkey-DUck-chiCKEN") is a de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. The cavity of the chicken and the rest of the gaps are filled with, at the very least, a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird.

Turducken is a uniquely American development and is believed to be Cajun in origin, although it may also have originated in eastern Texas or northern Louisiana

As their popularity has spread from Louisiana to the rest of the Deep South and beyond, they are also available through some specialty stores in urban areas, or even by mail order.

Read the rest HERE

Odes to the TurkeyLurkeyDuckyWuckyChickyLicky
as found on and

The duck can sense impending doom,
The chicken, she can too...
But who will warn the turkey now,
who's just escaped the zoo?
The duck has started in with quacking:
"We must get quickly to our packing!"
The chicken's in an awful state,
and lunges at the padlocked gate.
A rope, a saw, adhesive tape,
just might help them to escape.
But there won't be any more cluckin',
Once they're cooked up as TURDUCKEN!

A young turkey well fed on grass
Had grown to significant mass.
One day in November,
As you might remember,
We shoved two more birds up his a**!!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

I do not enjoy panic attacks

And there have been several,

especially when Christmas time looms and I'm trying to get presents shipped to the folks back in Malaysia

Presents have to go THIS far...


The 2004 Presents Fiasco ( presents sent around Dec 10th )

The 2005 Presents Near-Fiasco ( presents sent Nov 25th )

airmailThis year, the presents are ready to be wrapped tomorrow and Monday, and then it's off to the Post office on Tuesday ( before Taco Tuesday ) ( ± Nov Nov 21 )

The US Postal Service estimates Global Air Mail shipping times to be 4-10 Days, so there should be plenty of "buffer" days, unlike back in 1945 when you had to send your stuff in SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good Grief

What is UP with the wind here?!?

We'll let the graphs speak for themselves :

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

At time of writing, the wind speed has gone to 37 mph and wind gust has gone up to 44 mph. Refer to the Beaufort Scale for categorization of wind speeds. We're actually up to Gale force units here where twigs are broken from trees and cars start veering on road.

No wonder Abilene is such the hub for energy companies to build Wind Power Stations! Also, Texas has already surpassed California as top producer of Wind Energy. (Average Wind Speed in Malaysia = 6 mph )

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Taken yesterday driving into town - Sun blotted out by sand and dust

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

As I learn more about America,

I can hardly be blamed

for being stumped when people say "I take the Fifth".

I'd been reading a few people using "I'll take the fifth" when answering Memes or fun questionnaires on their blogs or on Myspace, and had been wondering what it meant.

Then I felt better when I read what Wikipedia had to say :

For example, while many people will understand what "To take the fifth" means, very few people outside the United States of America will actually use the phrase as the American Constitution is not extra-territorial. Similarly several British idioms are not well understood in the USA

*suddenly feels a lot of IQ points coming back*

I'm sure David would have loved to have given me a pretty detailed lowdown on that, sweetheart that he is, but hey, I'm sitting right at my computer most of the time, so I snooped around. Okay, so, I found out that this famous "fifth" is actually number five among the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.

The Fifth Amendment states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

I'm pretty much a foofoo when it comes to big words, so I found a translation I could actually comprehend, and this is what it says :

"taking the fifth" basically means the refusal to testify on the ground that the testimony might tend to incriminate the witness in a crime, i.e. no person is compelled to be a witness against himself.

( Apparently this term became kinda ubiquitous/famous after being used by some crime boss/mafia types, on TV during a Senate Committee Meeting in 1951)

Tennessee Democrat held hearings in eleven cities, and in every one his Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, better known as the Kefauver Committee, uncovered evidence of mob corruption. "I respectfully take the Fifth Amendment" became part of the public's vernacular as one mobster after another refused to answer the committee's questions.

Having said all that, it is important to remember, though, that no one can conclude that by taking the Fifth, it is in any way an admission of guilt

Kinda like when I get asked if I've been slacking and not studying hard, and I go, "er.. I TAKE THE FIFTH!!"