A Visit to Farm in the City

out and about

Several months ago someone in a group on facebook mentioned this petting zoo here in KL.  It is called Farm in the City and spans over many acres of land.  They have many animals you can pet, and some that you just enjoy looking at.  We decided to take the kids here instead of the zoo as it is more hands on.  There are a lot of photos here, but this is only about 1/4 of all of the photos we took!  The girls both had a blast and Svara is still asking when we are going to go again!

Ready to go into Farm in the City!

Ready to go into Farm in the City!



Pony ride!  This was a really short ride, but Svara of course enjoyed it anyway.

Pony ride! This was a really short ride, but Svara of course enjoyed it anyway.

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I’m glad that Talisa is still fine with being carried in the carrier.  We were there for about 2 hours and a stroller is not a good option there at all.  This was easy and I could just let her down in the places that were suitable for her.

The dinosaur turtle turned out to be a snapping turtle

The dinosaur turtle turned out to be a snapping turtle

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look up!

look up!


I guess this is his usual resting place!

I guess this is his usual resting place!

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They had a large area for some of the animals to roam around in.  It was nice and shady even though it was a hot day!

They had a large area for some of the animals to roam around in. It was nice and shady even though it was a hot day!

feeding the birds!

feeding the birds!


Another large bird enclosure.

Another large bird enclosure.


This bird is so cool!

This bird is so cool!

feeding the deer

feeding the deer


Loving the deer

Loving the deer


eek, scary scarecrow!

eek, scary scarecrow!

time for some net fishing

time for some net fishing

Not even Naren managed to catch a fish

Not even Naren managed to catch a fish

And the girls' favorite part - petting bunnies!

And the girls’ favorite part – petting bunnies!

just a *little* excited

just a *little* excited

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Giving a little too much love to the guinea pig

Giving a little too much love to the guinea pig

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feeding the fish

feeding the fish

hungry fish!

hungry fish!


big eyes!

big eyes!

Svara petting a large iguana

Svara petting a large iguana

This was actually Svara's favorite part, holding a chick, as she has never done that before.

This was actually Svara’s favorite part, holding a chick, as she has never done that before.


I think we need to get chickens someday

I think we need to get chickens someday

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bird show

bird show

cooling down with some mango sorbet

cooling down with some mango sorbet



















Visit to the Rabbit Farm in Bukit Tinggi

family, out and about

We haven’t done a lot of traveling around since Talisa was born, but we are hoping to start visiting more places!  So a couple months ago we suddenly decided one morning to visit the rabbit farm that afternoon!  The rabbit farm is located in Bukit Tinggi, which is on a hill, so it’s a lot cooler than the city.  A nice place to visit these hot days!

Here are some photos from our visit:

Talisa was utterly delighted to see all the rabbits.  She was running all over saying “bundeens!!!”

1 rabbit farm 2 rabbit farm 3 rabbit farm

Svara has fed rabbits a few times before, so she was an old pro!

4 rabbit farm 5 rabbit farm

They also had some deer there.  Svara was a little hesitant in approaching them.  I don’t blame her 😉6 rabbit farm 7 rabbit farm 8 rabbit farm

But she was not hesitant in carrying around the bunnies!

9 rabbit farm

They had guinea pigs as well, though you couldn’t go in to pet those.

10 rabbit farm

They had a pony (well, donkey actually) ride as well.  Last time we came here a few years ago she was too young, so she was thrilled to be able to have a ride this time!

11 rabbit farm

Talisa followed saying “Akka ride horse!”  I believe she would have hopped on if she could.

12 rabbit farm

So Naren took her to his shoulders to distract her and they watched these very territorial deer.  I feel kind of sorry for all of these deer, they seem a bit cramped!

13 rabbit farm

After the ride we had to let Talisa hop on.  She was SO excited!

14 rabbit farm 15 rabbit farm

Time to feed the donkeys!

16 rabbit farm 17 rabbit farm

And the deer!  We had some pellets to feed the animals, but the deer were not very interested.  So we reached through the fence in one area to pick some long grass and they were SO excited to eat that.

18 rabbit farm 19 rabbit farm


We brought some sandwiches, chips, and grapes with us to have a picnic and had a nice afternoon.  It is always refreshing to take an afternoon off!

Backyard Science

gardening, Homeschooling, Svara


Some of the best lessons are spur of the moment ones!  The other day after it rained we went out to the porch and noticed there were some big snails by the plants.  These are giant african land snails, they’ve been in Asia for a long time and are quite normal to see around here.  When I was teaching third grade at ISKL we actually had two of these snails as classroom pets!  There are many websites dedicated to how to take care of these snails, I guess a lot of people keep them as pets.  They are pretty easy to care for.  However, one thing to be careful of is that wild ones can harbor a certain bacteria that can cause meningitis in humans, so it’s best not to handle them, or at least wash your hands well after handling them.  We just watched them.  We learned that they like eating passion fruit leaves, but they aren’t too fond of roselle leaves.


After watching these snails for quite a while Svara was interested to learn more about them.  So the next day we ventured online and watched some videos and read some websites to learn more about them.



Now every time it rains Svara can’t wait to go outside and see if the snails have come out again!

A Long Awaited Visit

family, travel

A couple months ago (yes, I am waaaaay behind on my blogging) my brother, Xander, came to visit us here in Malaysia.  It was a long awaited visit because he is the first member of my family to come and visit us here in Malaysia – and I’ve been here for 9  1/2 years.  I know other members of my family would love to visit as well, but there are many obstacles such as jobs, money, etc.  So I was SO excited last year when Xander said that he was planning a visit!    And even more excited when he confirmed his visit and told us he was staying for TWO weeks!!

The first week he was here was kind of laid back.  Naren had to work for 4 days, so Xander went out by himself for a couple of those days and hung out with us at home for the next couple of days.  It was nice catching up on things, re-living old memories, etc. I haven’t been able to visit the US in three years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve had a face-to-face chat with a family member!  Skype is great, but real-life is better!!  After that week we were full-on with a busy schedule!!  So many foods to try, things to see, etc.

We started with a two night stay in Malacca, a historical city here in Malaysia.  Of course the week before we went had been all sun, but as soon as we arrived in Malacca the rain started!  It rained on and off the whole time we were there.

First up was a trip to Jonker Street – famous for street food, souvenirs, etc.  We got lucky and it stopped raining for a couple hours so we were able to go.  We picked out a few little things, tried some foods, had dinner, and walked back to the hotel (we stayed in a guesthouse that was just a street away).



There was a little “heritage park” in the middle of jonker street, a nice place to take a break, sit down for a bit, etc.  Of course it would have been a nicer place to rest if it hadn’t been soaking wet and still slightly drizzling…




This is what we looked like trying to walk around Malacca… Xander and Svara sharing an umbrella and Naren, Talisa and I sharing another






The second day in Malacca we tried to get some sight seeing done.  We started with walking to Jonker street for breakfast, which turned out to be a dud.  The restaurant we went to didn’t really serve breakfast food, so we ended up ordering “egg sandwiches”.  we thought they’d be fried egg, but it was actually egg salad.  For breakfast.  Yeah.

As we were driving around trying to find the Sultanate Palace, it started raining.  Again.   But we passed by the sightseeing tower in Malacca, so we stopped there first.

Here we are in the spinning tower thing.  It has seats all around, you walk in and sit down and then it goes up a center tower and slowly spins around so you can see the whole of Malacca from up high.  It was pretty cool!





It was raining pretty hard after that, so we decided to eat lunch and head back to the hotel.  We rested all afternoon, and then it stopped raining around 5pm so we headed back to the Fort to finally do some sightseeing.  This place was actually a church that got turned into a fort, it had a long history.







They have a wishing well inside the fort, so we all tossed in some coins.  Svara later confided to me that she was sad that her wish hadn’t come true yet.  She told me that her wish was that her hair would grow as long as Rapunzel (something she’s been wanting for the past year and a half and is the reason I haven’t cut her hair since then!).  She finally decided that maybe the wish wouldn’t come true *right* away, maybe it’d take awhile.  I agreed.  The other day I was noticing how long her hair was and I mentioned that I think her wish is starting to come true, boy did that get a smile!





Svara quickly bonded with Xander when he came.  It was nice to see because the last time she saw him she was 2 1/2 years old and she was not too keen.  He came home for a weekend visit when I was visiting my parents 3 years ago and it was too short of a time for her to get used to him.  But this time?  She clung onto him right away and never let go, he was her BEST bud!  As you can see in this photo he is lucky to have left Malaysia with two arms…




Best buds – she really misses him!





Back to our trip…. it was getting late after the Fort so we went out to eat for dinner and headed back to the hotel for bed.  We hoped the next day we’d have better luck!

We woke up early to go have a GOOD breakfast at a hotel that serves a nice buffet.  The sun was out, it looked perfect! Breakfast was good, and when we came out of the hotel we noticed the ground was wet.  It had apparently rained while we ate breakfast.  We hoped this was it.  But no, as we were driving to the Sultanate Palace it started raining again… sigh…

On our way to the palace we passed by this ship.  It had been closed the day before, but was now open.  We stopped to have a look around!  Svara was enthralled by the ship.  Here she and Xander are being pirates saying “Argh!”  I love Svara’s arms.





Here is the whole ship – quite big!




Our last stop was the Sultanate Palace (the photo is from the day before, but it was closed so we couldn’t go in at that time).  This entire palace is made of wood – no metal nails, etc.  It is not the original palace, but it is crafted from the plans of the original.  There are a lot of historical displays inside.




After that it was time to head home as it was still raining and Talisa had had enough traveling for awhile!

We took a day’s break after that and then the next day headed to FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia).  They have a canopy walk there, I thought it might be a good family outing.  Our neighbors with a 3 year old son had recently gone here and said that he enjoyed it.  I’ve been on the canopy walk several times since when I was teaching we used to take our students here every year for a field trip (3rd graders).  The walk up was longer than I remembered!  Talisa did well, napping most of the time in the wrap.




We finally made it to the top!  Svara took one look at the walk, took one step out, and that was it.  She was no longer excited!  I wish we would have said “okay, fine” and I would have taken Svara down and we skip the walk.  But we soldiered on and Naren took Svara across.  Svara’s scared and nervous energy transferred to me, and I did not have a peaceful walk either.




Add to that the strange sensation of having my center of gravity off because of a baby strapped to me… eek, I get the jitters just thinking back about it and seeing these photos.  I apologized to Svara the next day, saying I wish we hadn’t made her go on the walk.  She said, “It’s okay, I forgive you.  And maybe I can try again when I’m older!”  So thankfully she wasn’t TOO scarred by the incident…  Xander enjoyed the walk, so that’s good!   After the canopy walk we headed down and had a nice picnic lunch.




The next day Talisa and I stayed home.  Xander, Svara, and Naren went to visit Batu Caves, the most famous Hindu Temple near KL.  Not only is it famous for aaaaaaall these steps you have to climb, but it is home to many MANY monkeys!!  You have to be careful of the monkeys because they’ll grab food or anything else from you that they find interesting.  Xander told me afterwards that the monkeys were throwing pieces of coconut at them!





Xander and Naren enjoyed chatting about cars during the whole visit, and they were able to take a couple visits to some car showrooms.  Here Xander is sitting in a Ferrari!!!




The day before Xander left we went to a mall to see an acrobatic lion dance.  It was too noisy for Svara and of course Talisa, so we waited a bit further away while Naren and Xander “enjoyed” the lion dance.  He was glad he saw it, but a bit shocked at how loud it was.  Certainly they ARE loud!!  The acrobatic lion dances are pretty cool to watch, but definitely would be more enjoyable with less noise.  But then it wouldn’t be a lion dance without all the noise, right?

After that we went to a good friend’s house for dinner and they kindly took a family photo of all of us


On the day Xander left we had relaxing morning at home, and then went out to lunch at at Indian restaurant since Xander hadn’t had a banana leaf lunch yet.  We got super lucky in that we got a parking spot RIGHT outside the restaurant.  This is in a very populated area of town.  And we got a table RIGHT away even though the restaurant was PACKED.  It was a good lunch and then we got to the airport in plenty of time.  Xander got his boarding pass, and we all said our goodbyes.

It was sad seeing Xander go, but I was sooo thankful that he had gotten to stay for 2 weeks.  It was so great having family here and I hope that more family gets to come visit before we leave Malaysia! (not that we have any concrete plans for leaving, but we DO plan on leaving someday, hopefully in the next few years).

Thanks, Xander!!!

Big Bad Wolf Booksale

books, food, out and about

Last month as I was browsing facebook I saw several people mention that they just got back from the Big Bad Wolf Booksale.  I looked it up since I hadn’t heard of it and was happy to see it was still going on.  Happier still I found out that they offer at LEAST 75% off retail prices on all books, even up to 95% off!!    Oh, and these are NEW books!  Not all in perfect condition, but new!  I knew this was a sale I couldn’t miss!   We went one afternoon during the week and came back with this:

wahoo!  This was just over 100 books if I remember correctly.

The sale was held in a huge space with plenty of walking around and browsing space.  We were there for I think 3 hours but I wish I could have stayed longer!  Not that our pocketbook wishes we could have stayed longer  LOL

I took about an hour to browse through all the cookbook tables to find all the vegan cookbooks I could.  I was pleasantly surprised to find as many as I did!  Here they are:

WOW!  I started with the biggest one (Passionate Vegetarian).  It isn’t vegan, but most of the recipes are vegan in it and most vegetarian ones have vegan options.  It is an AMAZING cookbook that anyone, vegetarian or not, would be happy to have!  Several weeks later and I am still on that book, haven’t moved onto the others yet.  It is SO thick with over a thousand recipes, so it’s like getting 5-10 recipe books in ONE!  I can’t wait to look through the others as well.  Hopefully the recipes will be as tasty as those from Passionate Vegetarian have been!

If you are in Malaysia you’ll be happy to know that they have this book sale almost every year.  Can’t wait till next year!  Oh, and next week they are having an aftermath sale to get rid of all the leftover books from the sale (including damaged books).  Find the information on their website.

Now I need to go continue reading my cookbooks!




Breads Galore!


I know, I know, as usual it’s been way too long since I’ve last posted!  I have mostly been posting on my crafting blog, so if you’d like to see what I’ve been up to lately, head on over there!  I even have a giveaway going on now for five gift certificates to my etsy shop!

But on to business!  I have definitely been doing more than just crafting lately.  One of the things I do at least once or twice a week is bake bread.  Since Svara is allergic to dairy, it rules out almost all of the breads at the store (except for an organic one that has seeds that Svara doesn’t like), so I have no choice.

Last week I had the urge to bake a LOT of bread one day, as I wanted to bake more than just Svara’s usual multi grain bread.  Plus it had rained in the morning so it was cloudy and cool (well, cool by Malaysian tropical standards).  So I made a total of FOUR types of bread!  First the usual multi grain, then walnut and onion, ciabatta, and lastly a cinnamon raisin pull apart bread.  Here are some photos of my bread baking marathon:

And here are some closeups of the cinnamon raisin pull apart bread.  I saw the recipe on another blog, you can find the recipe here.


So with all these photos of breads I have to give a recipe, right?  I’ll share my usual recipe for multi grain bread that I make at least once a week.  The thing about bread baking is that it is VERY flexible.  You can change the amounts of ingredients and as long as the final dough has enough flour and is kneaded enough, it’ll turn out!  But here is my general recipe:

Multi Grain Bread

10 oz warm water (1 1/4c) (use leftover water from boiling potatoes if you have it)

2 tsp yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 T olive oil

2T powdered soy milk  *see note

1-3T of sugar or honey (optional)

1 pound of flour ingredients **see note

Mix together the water, sugar/honey and yeast and let the yeast start to bubble a bit. Stir in the oil, powdered soymilk, and salt.  Start adding the flour 1/2 cup-1 cup at a time.  When you have stirred in enough flour to be able to knead, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead for 10-20 minutes.  Add flour as needed to keep it from sticking.  The longer you knead it the better your bread will rise.  Place the finished dough into an oiled bowl and let rise, covered, until doubled (about 1 hour).

Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan (or make a round or long loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet).  Let rise until at least doubled (about 1 hour).  Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for approximately one hour or until browned and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom.  Let cool on a rack for at least 1/2 hour before cutting.


*Feel free to use powdered dairy milk if you eat dairy, and you can also skip this and use milk (dairy or non dairy) instead.  Or just skip this altogether, but it does add softness to the bread

**About the flour.  I have found it easier to weigh the flour for bread making rather than measuring since it’s more accurate and I can more easily sub different flours, but you can definitely measure instead. You can start with 3-4 cups of flour options and then add more as necessary.  So what are your flour options?  My usual mix is:

4 oz unbleached bread flour (has more protein than regular flour)

2 oz ground flaxseed (adds a lot of healthy oils and other nutrients)

4 oz. rolled oats (they break down most of the way as the bread is kneaded, so you don’t need to grind them into a flour but you can if you wish)

6 oz whole wheat flour (you can skip the unbleached and use all whole wheat flour instead if you prefer a heftier loaf of bread).

Other flours you can add in place of the rolled oats are buckwheat, millet, teff, barley, rye, anything really, it’s very flexible!  If you don’t want to add the ground flaxseeds you can substitute any flour, or other ground or whole seeds such as sesame, sunflower, etc.

Bread Making Tips

When I make bread I actually use a breadmaker to do the stirring and kneading of the dough.  I then take it out of the bread machine and let it rise in a bowl and shape it myself.  I don’t like the way the breadmaker shapes and bakes the bread, but it sure is awesome for saving time and kneading the dough!  I bought mine on clearance a few years ago and love it!  Just check the dough while it’s kneading to see if you need to add any extra flour or water to get the dough perfect.

Feel free to add any extras to your bread to make it unique.  Leftover cooked grains are great.  Leftover cooked oatmeal is a good way to use up those leftovers from breakfast.  Just be sure that if you add anything with extra liquid you check to see if you need to add extra flour to compensate.

Baking Bread in a Tropical Climate

When I first moved to Malaysia I had a hard time baking bread.  It was so frustrating since I’ve been baking bread since I was a child!  My bread would not rise, or turn out bad tasting.  After doing lots of research and reading and experimenting I finally figured some things out.  First of all, it’s hot here so you do NOT need to start your bread with warm water.  In fact, I usually start with ICE water!  If I start with warm water, the dough will rise VERY quickly.  Also, when bread dough is too warm while rising it allows a certain bacteria to grow in it which will give the bread an off taste, kind of sourish but not nice like sourdough bread.  It is not a harmful bacteria and won’t make you sick or anything, but I find it rather unpleasant.  So I start with ice water which keeps my dough cool enough while rising that this will not be a problem.  Another thing you can do is to rise the dough in an enclosed area (such as inside a microwave) with some ice packs around the bowl.  This keeps the air cool enough that the unpleasant taste will not develop.  Some people have success letting bread rise in the fridge, but for me this takes too long and sometimes doesn’t work as well.

If you’ve read this post all the way to the end, congratulations!  I hope you try baking your own bread, experimenting with it, and having fun!








Trip to the Rabbit Park

family, out and about, Svara, travel

A couple of months ago on a Sunday morning I told Naren that I needed to get OUT of the house and do something!  Between the heat and the rain we hadn’t been out to do much lately.  Of course because of the heat we didn’t want to go anywhere in the city, so we decided to drive up the mountain to visit the rabbit park and have lunch at the resort near there as well.   As luck would have it a few friends were able to join our impromptu outing as well!

Svara, of course, was delighted to be going somewhere.  So we packed up some snacks, dressed for the outdoors, and headed for the hills!  First stop was the rabbit park where we got to pet and feed some rabbits, donkeys, and deer as well!

Although Svara was delighted to feed the rabbits, she was not so keen about the donkeys.  She did give it a try, but when she found out that it tickled a lot more when the donkeys grabbed the food with their lips, she abandoned that and went back to the rabbits!

After all the animals had been fed, it was time for our own lunch!  It had started raining by this time, but this only put a slight damper on our plans.  Instead of a picnic we went to a little Italian restaurant and shared a couple pizzas with our friends.  There was a magic show being performed on a stage down the street that had pretty loud music, so Svara was covering her ears.

We found one more animal that needed to be fed!  Svara quickly learned that when feeding swans it is best to throw the food rather than have them peck it out of your hand!!

Lastly, here is a little family shot.  We don’t have very many photos of just the three of us, so it was nice to get the chance to take a few.  Svara had had about enough for the day as you can see!

We had planned on visiting the botanical gardens after lunch, but because of a landslide that made the trek to the garden more difficult and the constant drizzle, we decided to call it a day and go home.  It was overall a nice and much needed outing!  It’s great that even though we live in a tropical country we are close enough to the mountain that we can escape the heat if just for a few hours!

Vegan Pan Mee


A few weeks ago I created this recipe and my husband posted it on his facebook page.  He has been requested for the recipe, so I thought I might as well include it in my blog in case anyone else out there is looking for a vegetarian pan mee recipe!

We bought these fresh pan mee noodles at the store, and then it was time to find a recipe!  I had minimal luck finding a vegetarian pan mee recipe online, so I pieced together what I could and created my own based on one vegetarian and a few meat based recipes.

First, here is the photo.  I’ll try to get a better one next time!

And the recipe!

Makes 2 BIG servings, or 3-4 small ones

350g fresh pan mee noodles

3 cups of veggie broth (I use vegan chicken flavored boullion cubes)

1 cup of finely chopped mushrooms or seitan

2 Tbs textured soy protein (the small granular type)

2 Tbs HOT water to rehydrate the textured soy protein

2 Tbs cornstarch

1/2 cup water

up to 1 Tbs soy sauce

up to 1 Tbs  vegetarian oyster sauce (optional)

1 small onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp minced ginger

Black pepper to taste

vegetable oil for sauteeing

Cook noodles as directed on package (for the fresh noodles I just boiled water and cooked noodles until almost tender)

In a small bowl combine the textured soy protein, soy sauce, and HOT water.  Let sit for several minutes.  If using salty seitan, start with only 2 tsp of soy sauce.  If using mushrooms, use the whole Tbs.  After it has cooled for a few minutes stir in the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water.

Saute onion until it starts to brown.  Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute.  Add seitan or mushrooms and saute, stirring to prevent sticking, until well cooked (mushrooms take longer than seitan).  Add the textured soy protein mixture and black pepper to taste.  Add the optional vegetarian oyster sauce if desired (if using a salty seitan it might make the mixture too salty).  Mixture will be quite soupy.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often.  It will become thicker and slightly sticky due to the cornstarch.   Taste and add more soysauce or veg. oyster sauce if desired.

To assemble:

Place noodles in bowls for serving.  Add enough soup to just cover the noodles.  Divide up the mince topping between the bowls, setting it on top of the noodles.  Serve with a handful of fresh spinach, or some lightly steamed or sauteed green veggies of your choice.