March 29, 2008

Dhenok, the jamu gendong vendor

When mom still alive, her morning routine was to buy a glass of jamu (Javanese herbal health drinks) from Dhenok, the jamu gendong vendor. It is called jamu gendong because these vendors (usually women) carry (gendong) home-made herbal drinks in baskets on their backs and offer them door to door in the morning.

Out of many jamu vendors that passed by my sister's house, mom preferred Dhenok because she is friendly and didn't mind to listen to mom's ramblings. Dhenok has become an important part of mom's morning ritual she would miss her if she didn't see Dhenok around. When me or my young bro came over to visit mom, she had more reason to buy more jamu from Dhenok for all of us. The typical ingredients of jamu consist of rice powder, turmeric, ginger, bitter galangal (brotowali), lime leaves, Javanese palm sugar, turmeric, lesser galangal (kencur), betel leaves (daun sirih), water, salt and assorted herbal ingredients. There is jamu to refresh and restore energy, jamu to cleanse the blood, jamu to get rid of masuk angin (to cure a case of the chills), jamu to lose weight, jamu to increase children's appetite, jamu for painful period, jamu to increase potency etc. A glass of jamu costs only 2,000 Rupiahs or 25 US cents.Dhenok woke up at 4am every morning, prepare the jamu with fresh ingredients and make her rounds started from 6:30am. Now even though mom is no longer around, Dhenok always stops by at my sister's house over the weekend. She is indeed a very nice person and has loyal customers around the neighborhood.

Healthy food + healthy drink

Green vegetable is most definitely one of my most have ingredients and I am never without it. Because of this habit, I have a very hard time feeling like my lunch/dinner is complete if there wasn't a veggie on my plate. I’m especially fond of a simple broccoli stir fry with shitake mushroom, and I love to add an extra minced garlic and ginger to taste. As a side dish, I like deep-fried tempeh in batter. That’s it! Really simple and easy to prepare lunch. For the drink I made strawberry + carrot + beet root juice. Just mix all 3 in a blender with cold water from the fridge, it's my favorite juice, tastes delicious!

March 25, 2008

Conan the praying dog

A Chihuahua (dog) called Conan has become a pet-celebrity at Jigenin temple on the southern island of Okinawa, Japan. Read on...this was very funny! I wish I have a dog like Conan so I can send him to church every Sunday when I don't feel like going..LOL!

Mimicking his master, priest Joei Yoshikuni, a 1 1/2-year-old black-and-white Chihuahua named Conan joins in the daily prayers at Naha's Shuri Kannondo temple, sitting up on his hind legs and putting his front paws together before the altar.

Conan has proved very popular with tourists

It took him only a few days to learn the motions, and now he is the talk of the town.

"Word has spread, and we are getting a lot more tourists," Mr Yoshikuni said Monday.

With Conan's help the temple now draws 30 per cent more visitors than before.

Yoshikuni said Conan generally goes through his prayer routine at the temple in the capital of Japan's southern Okinawa prefecture (state) without prompting before his morning and evening meals.

"I think he saw me doing it all the time and got the idea to do it, too," Yoshikuni said.

The priest is now trying to teach him how to meditate.
Well, sort of. "Basically, I am just trying to get him to sit still while I meditate," he explained. "It's not like we can make him cross his legs.

~~News taken from The Telegraph

March 24, 2008

Photos from Bogor Botanical Gardens

Here are some shots I took from Bogor Botanical Gardens :


Happy Easter everyone! I just came back from a lovely long weekend visiting my family in Bogor. It was great to get away and relax for a few days, especially I haven't visited my eldest sister much lately, so it was nice to spend time with them. For me, visiting Bogor has always meant enjoying the best of both travel and home life. Bogor city is only an hour drive from Jakarta, a place for those who like to take it easy and relax whilst enjoying the fresh air.

I decided that we needed to go to Bogor Botanical Garden. My sister and my niece, Van, came with me. And while I normally like to shop to the Factory Outlets with my niece and buy stuff when I am in Bogor...I can safely say that the shopping is out of my system for a while. We were in botanical garden for 3 hours walking and taking pictures. Three hours is enough for me to bathe in sweat. By the time we reached the exit gate it rained really hard. Well, Bogor is the city of rain. Some days, it rained for a few hours. Some days, it rained all day. The rain in this city is incredible. Sometimes it pours like a torrential downpour and then is sunny five minutes later.

Saturday night, I went for the Easter Vigil Mass. It is one of my favorite religious celebrations. I felt guilty I've been away from church for a few months. I only go to church only when I feel I need to go...d'oh!!! Back in my dormitory school days, the nun would kill me if I skipped church!!! Although the procession was quite long (3 hours and a half), it makes for a very unique and meaningful liturgy. The church is darkened at the beginning of the Mass, the congregation sits in the darkened chapel with unlit candles. Upon the priest entering the church, the entire space goes from pitch blackness to the lovely, comforting, and warm glow of hundreds of candles. Combined with the singing from St. Cecelia's Cathedral choir, and the general atmosphere of joy in the room, it becomes breathtaking, even awe-inspiring. To me the Easter vigil is magic and it was different from any other masses.

So in a way, the long weekend was what I really needed ...but the trip felt too short *sigh*. Sunday afternoon I returned to Jakarta. I'm home now, and glad to be in my own bed, and dreading for a long week ahead. You know the kind of whether it's Monday or Wednesday. Or when you look at your clock and it's 3pm and you've forgotten to eat lunch.

March 19, 2008

Making a difference

I have a wonderful story for you about the softie side of Simon Cowell from American Idol who made a difference in a little girl's life and her family. If you think he is Mr. Nasty, think again, he is not so nasty after all. Long before this, he has actually constantly involved in a number of children's and animal's charities, but they go mostly unnoticed because as they say ... good news makes poor headlines.

In January 2008, Amy Stoen and her husband, Randy, noticed a cyst inside their 3-year-old daughter's nose. Doctors in their small Minnesota community were unable to determine a cause, so they referred Madelaine and her parents to the Mayo Clinic, an internationally renowned medical center.

Less than two months later, doctors diagnosed Madelaine with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that had spread to the left side of her face. To try to save her life, doctors started chemotherapy right away. "It's hard because I can't do anything for her to take that pain away," Amy says. "She's going to have to do this for a year, and it's going to be a long year."

To get the treatments she needs to survive, Madelaine's parents drive her more than 100 miles a day to Saint Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Amy says her daughter has already lost almost 10 pounds since her diagnosis. The side effects of the chemo are also starting to show. Madelaine is now losing her hair. "Once she loses her hair, it's really going to set in that she has cancer," Amy says.

Amy can barely discuss her daughter's diagnosis without crying. Now, in addition to the emotional toll, the Stoen family is also facing a financial crisis.

Both parents used to bring home paychecks, but these days, they spend every moment caring for Madelaine. "The house payment is sitting there and the medical bills on top of that," Amy says. "We're only three weeks into it. We have 41 weeks to go. … My job covers the insurance, and his paycheck covers the mortgage. We want at least one parent here, so that means we only have one paycheck coming in versus two."

Randy and Amy say they're desperate to find a way to stay with their daughter during treatments without losing their home. "Our main priority is making sure that she gets the medical care she needs to get over this cancer and to be cured," Amy says.

Wanting to get into the giving spirit, Simon has a surprise for Randy and Amy.

I didn't know what to do in this situation other than to do something which I hope will help," Simon says. "I know that you're having trouble with your mortgage. And as of this afternoon, [it] is being paid off."

Simon says writing a $162,000 personal check won't be the end of his involvement with Amy, Randy and Madelaine. "It doesn't stop there," he says. "If there's any problem, I'm her guardian angel now."

Last season, American Idol hosted a celebrity telethon called "Idol Gives Back"…and they raised more than $70 million for disadvantaged children around the world!

"It was so good, we're going to do it again," Simon says.

On this year's show, look for performances by current and former Idol contestants and winners. Celebrities like Bono, Brad Pitt and Miley Cyrus are scheduled to appear, too. "It'll be a big, big night," Simon says.

Simon says he's only just learned about the joy of giving. "I didn't realize that. It's taken me 48 years," he says. "It's going to catch on, this, because it is a very, very good feeling."

**The above story is copied from Oprah's Big Give's website

Thank you, Eka!

Two hours ago, I received a package my dear super kind hearted friend, Eka, from Pernik Unik Bali sent me. She said it was a belated birthday gift for I was jumping in excitement when I saw what's inside! Eka sent me a set of 2 beautiful magazine-baskets and several natural coconut soaps in different aromatic flavor. The one flavor that caught my attention is "Organic Volcanic." It is said they are made from detoxifying volcanic ash, white grapefruit, pure rosemary and lavender essential oils. More uniquely each soap is wrapped in natural hand made bamboo paper.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much Eka! Millions thanks!

March 18, 2008

My blog rating

I thought only movies are rated. I am rated G which means my blog is for general viewing. This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
* pain (2x)

Hehehe...isn't that cool??? I guess all you need is the three letter word "S-E-X" to get "PG" or "R" rating...LOL! I am thinking I need to spice things up a little! Your turn...what's your blog rating?

March 16, 2008

Animal tales

A pair of Sumatran tiger cubs and a set of young orang-utans, all abandoned at birth, have become inseparable after sharing a room at an Indonesian zoo.
The four have lived side by side for a month without a hitch, although this goes against their natural instincts.
"This is unusual and would never happen in the wild," zoo-keeper Sri Suwarni said. "Like human babies, they only want to play." But the friendship is not destined to last as tigers start eating meat when they are three months old and will need to be separated from their new playmates.

In-pictures stories were taken from the BBC

Writer's block

I've been thinking to post a new thread for the last three days. But then I realize that I really didn't have anything to say. Sure I've had stuff going on, but nothing important. Which I think is the consequences of having the online blog...what do you do when you have nothing to say?

This afternoon I invited my youngest brother, his wife and my nephew to have lunch at my place. Sometimes, it's nice to talk to them and hear what's going on. It's just good to connect. Especially spending quality time with my nephew, Alex, who is very talkative now. The things he says and the way he expresses his excitement is just cute. After that we headed to the mall and did a bit of window shopping as I did not really looking for something special. I wanted to get a train set for Alex but I didn't find the one that I like. So we headed to the chocolate house and buy a few slice of cakes for us to take back home. I craved to eat chocolate cake for two weeks and could not resist the temptation!

March 11, 2008

Growing up is really hard to do

Yesterday, my sister who lives in S'pore and I chatted online about my tween niece who is going through her puberty and rebellious stage. What is a tween? A tween is youngsters between the ages of 9 and 14. They are not children anymore, but they aren’t quite full-blown teenagers yet, though they definitely think they are.

My niece, L, was a sweet little darling until she entered her teens. Recently she is really testing my sis patience and draining her energy. She's going to do what she's doing no matter what is said or no matter how many times you ground her she will still do it. L often listens more to her friends than her mom. The normal teen stuff yes ... but after a long day at work it surely is depressing to deal with mood swings, laziness, too much computer or TV time and fights over homework, and lots of other stuff. She has no regard for anyone else business or what's going on in your lives...except her friends of course. Her new antic when she does not get what she wants is L tend to be argumentative to her mom and talks to her like she is one of her friends not her mother, which really bothered me. I hope this is only a transition phase of growing up. My sis asked me to give L a bit auntie-niece speech but am afraid talking on the phone is less effective and L may forget them as soon as she puts the phone down.

Now she has a group of friends (schoolmates) who share the same passion of the computer game and she will be unhappy if my sis does not allow her to see them. For example, she sacrificed her weekly piano class because hanging around with her friends are more fun. Asking what she did wrong isn't going to bring an answer because she feels she didn't do anything wrong. My sis just worried she is hanging with the wrong crowd. She has seen a lot of parents let their children roam around and do not know where they are or who they are with a lot of the time. But L thinks she deserves some freedom and more control over her life. Kids today seem to be much more grown up at an earlier age, aren't they?

L is now in the age between middle childhood and adolescence (she is 12 y/o). She thinks she knows it all. She is becoming a person in her own right, with her own likes and dislikes, habits, interests and tastes. As a single working mom, my sis is worried if she is being too hard then L may run away. But I told her the house rules must stand. She just have to be tough and set the boundaries. Children need boundaries. And my sis needs to provide very defined boundaries and be strong enough to enforce them consistently. Deep in my heart I know it's easier said than done.

How do you talk to your tweens and still keep your cool??? What kind of defiance you will accept??? If anyone has gone through this and has any advice please share your experience.

March 9, 2008

How would you react ...

My friend was diagnosed positive cancer after her surgery which was performed on her birthday last month. It was a very sad day for her as the doctors removed both her ovaries, omentum , and 10 cm of her appendix. Ovarian cancer for years was called a "silent" killer — causing no symptoms until it was too late to be cured. Her primary doctor, who was an internist, ignored her when she told him that she endured weeks of sickness, knowing that something wasn't quite right with her. She was experiencing discomfort and indigestion after eating, her menstrual cycle suddenly stopped, an unexplained weight lost, feeling bloated and an extended back pain. She had all the signs, but the doctor didn't have a clue until she decided to see another doctor and was ordered to have an ultra scan check. Ovarian cancer is often already into its late stages, since the symptoms can be attributed to other causes and are non specific. It is often misdiagnosed as an intestine or gastric problem.

The news about cancer hits her like a ton of bricks. It was devastating and totally unexpected, she just couldn’t believe it. She was diagnosed with a stage 3 Ovarian cancer and was recommended 6 cycles of chemo. Meaning that cancer is found in one or both ovaries and has spread to other parts of the abdomen. This is a serious challenge for anyone to endure and she didn't want to accept that she had an illness that seriously is fatal. My friend is now in self denial and she didn’t want her family to know the details of what went on and what is going to happen. At the same time she refused chemo and was thinking to look into the possibilities of alternative treatment. The thought of "poisoning" her body with chemo seemed overwhelming. She believed by choosing herbal therapy and because they are natural, they are obviously harmless. However, she overlooked the facts that a lot of herbal treatment have not been studied and has yet to be medically proven.

As a friend I tried to be supportive and advised her to think it over before she makes the decision she may regret later on. But then again everyone is entitled to choose what they wish to do. I know one of the best things I can do is just be her friend despite what she is going through and that I will be there for her. She really needs a lot of prayer, and a lot of luck. Anyway, I found this beautiful short poem to ponder ...

Money is the most envied,
but the least enjoyed.

Health is the most enjoyed,
but the least envied.

Life is strange...

March 8, 2008

Elyani's lunch today

Hi all, I haven't posted in a while but have been reading everyone's blogs regularly. My menu this week is all veggies, fruits and no sweet treats in between. It is hard to stay discipline sometimes as I craved for a bit of "sinful foods" like a slice of tiramisu cake, dark chocolate, pizza or other local savory snacks once in a while. It takes awhile for the cravings to change to more healthy foods once you start eating those, but I'm glad I can control myself from those sniffing urges! And it works to decrease my endo pains a bit.

My lunch today comprise of Urap Sayuran (steamed mixed veggies tossed with spicy grated coconut) and Deep Fried Oyster Mushrooms. This is one of my favorite dishes. Sometimes with a lunch like this, I pretend that I'm a rabbit! The secret of making urap sayuran is by using a fresh young coconut. I added some more chilis and lime leaves because that really stimulate the senses and wake you up.

March 3, 2008

The taste of pain

Sorry for my absence, I planned to post more often, but it is hard to even think what to write when you feel like someone is tugging, or pulling the inside of your stomach. During ovulation is when I have most of my pain. The cramping come in waves, with little concern to what I have going on in life. Sometimes it was so bad if not worse, pain medications don't even help. Also I can't take anything strong like Ibuprofen, it makes me sick to my stomach esp. if I don't take it with food before that. Having endometriosis is no fun and annoying, there is no cure for this disease ... you just have to learn to live with it.

I still have cramps now and then even though I changed my diet to being a 70% vegetarian. Endo diet help to some degree, but sometimes the stabbing pain would come on suddenly I couldn’t go places, because it is just feel uncomfortable! The cramps would start a few days before my period, and last the whole time, sometimes longer depending on my commitment to my diet. I normally catch a mild pain one day or two days before my period, then have pain and cramps at ovulation. If I stick to my diet, I might get two pain-free weeks before it started all over again.

I had three kinds of cysts removed thru a laparotomy surgery two years ago. But my Obgyn didn't do much with my Adenomyosis (an ingrowth of the endometrium from the inside of the uterus), as the only cure to it was by having a hysterectomy. Back then I didn't want to think about the possibility of getting a hysterectomy, but I am considering that option now since it really become a hindrance for me in many ways. I lived with the painful cysts for several years before the surgery, and I still have a painful period 2 years after the surgery, I want to be pain free. I want a normal life. That is NOT too much to ask, I think. My recent ultrasound test showed the source of my problem is still the same, inside the uterus. It has enlarging a bit but not dangerous, just annoying. The obgyn told me I have a choice to do a partial hysterectomy, meaning removing only the uterus and leaves the cervix and ovaries in place. After that, I will have a semi menopause period but my skin elasticity will not be affected. Well, I have not decided anything still weighing the pluses and minuses. Sorry to bore you all with my rants, but if you were me...what will you choose? Dealing with the pain every month or go for a hysterectomy? Hysterectomy is never an easy option...but at my age I don't have a desire to reproduce. I just don't want to.