25 Mar 2011

Wedding preparations in Melaka

There are about a hundred and one things I need to do in Melaka for Wan's wedding. With that in mind Yatie and I drove down to our Malacca home to set in motion some of those preparations. First the house needed a thorough cleaning - upstairs and downstairs. Well, most of the cleaning had been done during our weekly visits. The bridal room especially. My sister is making new curtains for the room as well as the living rooms. These will be lavender, the theme colour for the wedding. I've already ordered the food and tents - luckily they come in a package these days - food, tents, kompang (kind of a drum band to welcome the bride) DJ for the event and music - for RM13.00 per head. To me its very cheap, after our KL deal which came to RM100 per pax and the hotel didn't even have a kompang!

The old garden

Late in the evening Yatie and I packed the goodie bags for the main table or the bride's entourage. There would be 30 of them. There were extra bags so I put them aside for special friends and close relatives. As for the other guests, we also have goodie bags for them but the goodies were not ready (normally chocolates and a slice of cake) so we just got the bags ready. But as we counted them (there should be 900) we found to our horror that I had bought only 500 bags! Luckily we decided to count them. There are 400 short so today I've got to dash down to the Bridal shop to get more!!
I've also revamped the garden, if that is the correct word for it.  Pulled out all my plants that normally covered the fence and walls around the house and planted new ones. I also got rid of the bamboo which I unknowingly planted near the pond and which shed leaves all over the pond, as well as the neighbour's garden. Its a bit of a mess but I had always liked it but I guess it had to go! So did most of the branches on our mango tree outside. That was a real shame because it gave lots of shade on hot days but Kandan our gardener went and lopped off most of its branches so now it looks a bit forlorn without its heavy foliage.

Today the pest controller is coming to spray the whole house - anti-termite  as well as cockroaches. Being away from this house in Malacca much of the time we really have to be careful with pests such as these, especially termites. They can destroy your whole house if you are not careful! Before we came back to live in this house it had been rented out for more than 20 years - to families which didn't really take care of the house. So when we decided that we wanted to come back here we had to renovate much of the house and found to our horror that termites had infested the upstairs bedroom.Luckily that was in the early stages so we managed to stop the infestation and get rid of he termites. But we were lucky  we got them in time.

18 Mar 2011

Latest reads

I finished two books this week,one of which was The Bride's Bodyguard by Elizabeth Thornton. Set during the Napoleonic Wars in the early and mid nineteenth century, this book is about young ,wilful and headstrong orphan Tessa Lorimar, who runs away from her legal guardians in London to live with her grandfather, a Paris banker. Here she meets Ross Trevenan, one of the most attractive men that Tessa had ever met. But  from the first, the two are at loggerheads. She finds him infuriating and arrogant whilst Ross thinks she is too headstrong and unconventional. After losing his gentle young wife to a suspected murder, Ross cannot easily find love in the vibrant beauty but against his wishes he has been made Tessa's bodyguard to escort her out of wartorn France, back to England. He had sworn to her grandfather that he would guard her with his life and that he would do anything to keep her safe - even if it meant that he had to marry her! However finding herself a bride to the attractive bodyguard seems more dangerous than any other situation and unknown to Tessa she holds the key to a mystery that goes back to her school days - a girl who drowned in the lake at her school. Nightmares, young women who die in mysterious circumstances and secrets - these are some of the things that taunt Tessa and finally she finds herself in the grip of a vicious murderer who would  do anything to keep his secrets safe. Would Ross be able to guard her and still keep her love? 

This book has all the elements of a good novel - well-drawn characters, a plot that keeps you glued to the pages and plenty of romance. I'd give this book a 4 star rating - a book I found really interesting, with lots of spine-chilling action and yes, plenty of sexy scenes!

The second book I read last week was a Jane Austen spin-off - Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen.  The best thing about this book is that I got it at a mere RM8.00 at the book sale. This is not the ordinary boy meets girl romance though it does have romance in plenty. However I found the writer rather long-winded which made the book  a bit of a bore to finish. Although I've always loved anything to do with Jane Austen and Mr Darcy, this one is a bit slow going. The story is set in post war Britain - just after the second world war, about a young American woman who decides to escape the boredom of her hometown in Pennsylvania, US to look for Pemberley, or the house which was believed to be Pemberley. She did find the house which at one time belonged to the Laceys, (Darcy's).While there she meets an American pilot and begins a relationship with him but at the same time she finds out that the people who have been showing her and telling her about Pemberley and the Darcy family are actual descendants of that family, ie. the Laceys. Maggie (the American girl) is attracted to Michael, son of the family, yet she is also happy with her pilot. As she finds out more and more about Darcy and Elizabeth as well as the rest of the Bennet family, she is also falling in love with the last descendant of that family - Michael. But is it really love or is she only 'in love' with the whole idea of falling in love with Mr Darcy?

I didnt really like the writer's style which is very reminiscent of early 20th century writing.Maybe I'm used to the thrilling and fast paced writing style of more modern writers. The story in itself is interesting and the characters of Maggie and Michael are realistic. Maggie is a romantic yet down to earth type and a person one can believe in.

I'd give this book a 3 star rating. An okay book but nothing to shout about.

14 Mar 2011

Curious Mulan

Mulan is a really curious one - she'll jump into bags, peep into aquariums and put her head into anything that is different or new!

This is something new...

Maybe I should just take a look....

12 Mar 2011

What did you do this weekend?

What did you do this weekend is hosted by Gattina.
Last weekend I visited my son and daughter in law in Singapore! We do this every month - if they didn't come to KL, then we'd go down to Singapore just to see our little grand daughter Sophia!  Today I played  at tea time with her two favourite toys - Mew Mew and Blue! 

Trying to get Blue to sit properly.
"Here you are Blue - one sugar for your tea!"
Sophia is now nearly 4 - she'll be four this July - and is a real chatterbox! She talked non-stop on the way to Jurong to visit my younger sister and again on the way back, both ways which took 2 hours! Not just non-stop, but in her inimical loud and piercing voice, telling all and sundry what she thought of the train, her two friends (Mew Mew and Blue who followed us) and whatever else caught her fancy.

While there we saw the network coverage of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami which devastated the town of Sendai , about 250km north of Tokyo. It was a heartbreaking and pitiful sight - huge buildings, cars, even trains swept away like matchbox toys in the huge waves. I pray for the lives of those people and hope whatever happens they remain strong and resilient.

10 Mar 2011

Ho chi Minh city

We landed in Ho Chi Minh city at about 3pm their time. It was hot and dry once we were away from the cool air-conditioned airport. Unlike my previous journeys, this is a rough trip- we didn't have a guide nor an air conditioned coach waiting for us. Warned about not carrying heavy luggage, all of us had only a small cabin bag with us. (We were supposed/expected to buy extra luggage here!) Right after we exited the airport pulling our bags with us we rushed for the bus which was waiting for passengers at the roadside. It wasn't air-conditioned as the windows were open. We boarded the bus and stored our luggage at the front but as other passengers kept coming, we decided to keep them with us.
Ho chi Minh  city is fairly big - sprawling rather. We passed old fashioned buildings that must have existed before the Vietnamese war as well as new ones - all modern and shiny.Some parts are quite beautiful and elegant looking, with lots of trees lining the roads. In fact one boulevard reminded me very much of Paris with it's green trees lining the avenues,old statues decorating these places and European looking houses. We passed a building with such beautiful architecture I craned my neck to see further. It was the Opera House! It must have been beautiful at one time - rather like a grand old dame who was once upon a time a beauty in her day! She stood alone in her white finery - beautiful pillars on either side and a facade that had a lot of carvings.  Just in front of the Opera House there was an avenue of green plants with a large fountain in the middle.

Once we were checked in at the small hotel (The Ava) our tour leader told us she would take us to a place where they sell baju kurong. It was a boutique, but they also made clothes to order and most were for Malaysian markets! They were ready made traditional dress that Malays in Malaysia wear and these are actually very expensive in Kuala Lumpur but here in Ho Chi Minh they cost only 1/3 of their price! Imagine one beautiful kurong which would be about RM500-RM600 in KL was only RM92 here! I bought two only although I would have loved to get more. Alas, I didn't really wear these beautiful dresses for every day. I'm more of a jeans and T shirt sort of person and only wear the kurong during official functions.

The beautiful Opera House
a street scene in Ho Chi Minh city
Traffic in this city is quite horrendous. Motor bikes are kings of the road and if you are timid, you'll never get across the road! They are everywhere - left, right and centre. There are fewer private cars though - much of the traffic seems to be vans, taxis and motor bikes. However we did see a number of the super rich in their huge luxury cars at traffic light junctions. Much of our stay here was spent shopping - we went to the Ben Thanh Market which sold everything - from electronic goods to fresh flowers!

4 Mar 2011

Recent reads

Jill Mansell is one of my favourite chick Lit writers and I try to read her books as soon as they come out. However due to my recent absorption in all things Regency I haven't read her later books. But I managed to catch up with her when I found her in the National Library - yes, surprise, surprise! So she made a good Romance Challenge number two for me.

This one Rumour Has It  was first published in 2009 by Headline Review and has a pretty cover to boot! Very chic, I'd say. The first lines are:
" How weird that you could push open the front door and know in an instant that something was wrong.
Tilly stopped in the doorway, her hand fumbling for the light switch. Back from work at six o'clock on a cold Thursday evening in February,there was no reason to believe anything should be different.
But it was, she could feel it. She could tell.
Flick went the light switch, on came the light. So much for spooky sixth sense; the reason opening the door had felt different was because the hall carpet was gone."

Tilly Cole has just been dumped by her live in boyfriend of two years. Surprised  and rather fed up, she decides to leave her job and make a fresh start in the small town of Roxborough, as Max Dineen's girl Friday. Max is hot and every woman's idea of the perfect man. Tilly however isn't interested in her boss, in fact she's not interested in any male as yet and is quite happy working as Max's assistant. But she meets Jack Lucas, Max's friend and partner and  wham - all her innerds are shivering with lust and longing. Jack is irresistible ... and it looks like he too is attracted to Tilly. Then Tilly hears the rumour of his wicked reputation and alarm bells ring. She refuses to be just another notch on Jack's bedpost.

Should she just ignore the rumours and go for him (or better still allow him to go for her) or should she avoid him, which is nearly impossible ? Things come to a head when Jack confesses his attraction for her. How long can Tilly pretend to be mature about it all and stop running from the one man she could really love? But where there's a rumour, usually there's some truth too. Or is that wrong?

I find this book hilarious and unputdownable! Tilly is a down to earth, briskly  independent,funny and romantic  heroine while Jack is the typical handsome "rake" who is often misjudged. A lovely book for an afternoon read.
Rating: 4 star

1 Mar 2011

Romance Reading Challenge

 I don't normally take part in challenges - reading or otherwise but this year I thought I'd join Naida's Romance Reading Challenge.  You can read about it here at Naida's blog - TheBookworm07.blogspot.com I read a lot but I don't often bother to write reviews of the books I've read. Too lazy guess! Last week   I read two books - A Summer to Remember and Then Comes Seduction, both by Mary Balogh, a recent favourite of mine.

 A summer to remember is a sequel to One Night for Love. The story begins with Kit Butler, a young dandy  who has just heard that his father wants him to marry and is planning to marry him off to their neighbour's daughter, Freya, his one time love. But Freya had chosen his elder brother, who had since died, and now Kit refuses to marry her!

Kit decides that the beautiful and very elegant Miss Edgeworth would do wonderfully for his bride but Lauren thinks otherwise. She would play the part of his betroth though, if he on his part would give her "a summer to remember."  

But both are caught in their own web - Kit is physically attracted to the beautiful Lauren and she falls in love with him without realising it! Will they succumb to their attraction and forget about their pretend engagement or will they make it real? 

A really wonderful and romantic read and one I'd recommend to lovers of historical fiction.
I'd give this book a 4 star rating - really loved it.