Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Bentos Through The Seasons

I haven't been updating my blog with pictures of my bento lunches since February. Here is a collection of 14 of my favourite ones in the past 6 months. 

5.2.2014: First bento for the Lunar Year of the Horse. The pretzel rods spell out the Chinese character for 'horse', while the pineapples and pomelo add a festive touch.

3.3.2014: A star onigiri bento for lunch. 

24.3.2014: Vegan schnitzel salad bento, with green apple slices and 2 mango plums for dessert. 

31.3.2014: A bento to honour a certain club which rose to the top of the league table on 31 March ;) The letters were cut out of Quorn vegetarian bacon, while the Liverpool FC pick was one of the cupcake picks I made for Aravind's birthday. 

14.4.2014: A confused bento.
This started off as an Easter bento, which explains the nests of grapes and cherry tomatoes. Then I thought, heck, I don't have any particular feelings about Easter. What I do care about is football, and LFC, so I changed the theme halfway and made onigiri to commemorate Liverpool's 3-2 victory over Manchester City. 

22.4.2014: Earth Day bento in garish technicolour, with the most frightful onigiri in the history of mankind.
Oh well. Happy Earth Day! 
Remember, it's never too late to learn, take action and make a difference! 

5.5.2014: Not too late for a Star Wars bento. Star Wars Day i.e. May the Fourth was the previous day. 

5.6.2014: Show the trees some love this World Environment Day!
May we all tread gently on the good Earth and be mindful of the impact of our actions, choices and purchases on the environment. 

23.6.2014: A chimpanzee-themed bento, inspired by my encounter with Dr Jane Goodall in early June. 

22.7.2014: Missing Türkiye and seeing too many reminders of that beautiful country this Ramadan, hence a Türkiye-themed bento. 

30.7.2014: July 29 was World Tiger Conservation Day (at least that's what I think it's called) so I made this last-minute bento in observance of this cause. 

12.8.2014: World Elephant Day bento. Complete with ElephANTS on a Log, geddit? 
May we strive to protect elephants and their habitats. 
May we see a worldwide ban on ivory within our lifetime. 
May all captive elephants be granted the freedom and dignity they deserve. 

19.8.2014: So guess who was happy with the great start to the season? Go, Liverpool FC! 

25.8.2014: An early National Day bento. With a Kool-Aid fruit salad that went wrong.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Get Your Green On at the KDCF-MNS Open Day

Just a little over 10 years ago, the Sungai Buloh Forest Reserve (the remnant lowland dipterocarp forest is now known as the Kota Damansara Community Forest) was under threat of destruction thanks to corrupt politicians and land developers. 

Thankfully, however, concerned citizens groups, nature lovers, environmental organisations and indigenous communities collaborated effectively and quickly to lobby for the protection of the forest reserve from future threats and to promote its sustainable use. 

The Pakatan Rakyat State Government worked quickly to gazette and protect the forest reserve, as they had promised to do in their election manifesto, following their win in the 2008 General Elections.

This marks the second year that the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society and the Malaysian Nature Society are holding their joint Open Day / Community Day at the Kota Damansara Community Forest. This year, it was held not at the Section 10 forest where the lake is, but at the Taman Rimba Riang Community Forest in Section 9. 

We were supposed to hold this event sometime in June to mark World Environment Day, but thanks to the water crisis, hot weather and other inconveniences, it had to be postponed to August 17. I am glad it was postponed, as it gave us more time to prepare for the event. The weather was fine and many local residents turned up to help us observe the belated World Environment Day celebrations. I would like to express my appreciation to all the volunteers and visitors who made this event the success that it was, and who have assisted and supported us in our ongoing efforts to protect urban green lungs and rainforests.

Green Living was as usual one of the first interest groups to respond to the request for interest groups to take up booths and organise activities, and I am grateful for the volunteers who stepped forward to help out.

Henry took this photo of the Green Living volunteers (and coordinator!) hard at work at our booth.

First-time volunteers Catherine, Ju Lienne, Catherine and Akshara did an excellent job helping out and explaining concepts such as the 3Rs and Energy Efficiency to the young visitors.

Organic produce at Titi Eco Farm's little stall. The stall helpers were busy watching the Zumba demonstration in the parking area.

Giant soap bubbles on a Sunday morning.

A futsal game in session at the parking area.

Audrey and Marcus helping Steven out at the MNS Herpetofauna booth.

Activity and outreach booths by various NGOs and environmental interest groups.

Power Shift Malaysia's awareness and outreach booth.

Ju Lienne's mother very kindly offered to help me clean up the park using my rubbish claw.

Akshara helping some of our youngest clients out in the 3R Target Shooting Game.

A young visitor trying her hand at the Energy Efficiency Ball Toss game. Shanthini wasn't kidding when she said she is good with children! She was magic!

Sidewalk chalk art. I did the 'Go Solar' one.

A quick pitstop for breakfast for our hardworking volunteers, Akshara, Catherine and Aravind.

The Taman Rimba Riang park in Section 9, which I previously never even knew existed!

My friend Kavita's little son and daughter had their hands and faces painted with a shark and a dolphin respectively. Patricia is a face-painting legend and one of our oldest and most dedicated volunteers. 

Koon Hup, our reliable MNS Flora Group coordinator, surrounded by potted plants for sale.

Participants can learn how to make grasshoppers out of coconut leaves here at the Flora Booth.

A surprised-looking coconut.

Coconut leaf art.

Our volunteer Nature Guide, Azmir, leading the guided walk into Harmony Trail, with Rangamal as the sweeper.

My rubbish claw and green bin bags go with me everywhere. We picked up a lot of rubbish at the end of the trail where the forest ends and the construction site takes over.

George and Rangamal, feeling right at home in the forest.

The distinctive red roots of the Tinjau Belukar (Randia scortechinii King & Gamble).

Strangler fig competing with its host tree for sunlight.

Directions to the Park:

Address: Taman Rimba Riang, Jalan Rimba Riang 9/1d, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor ‎
Google Map: Taman Rimba Riang

Friday, 8 August 2014

Monthly Bucket List July 2014

Monthly Bucket List July 2014: 

1. Make a new friend. 

One of the friends I made in July was Ryan, whose 10-year-old daughter, Lauren, makes Rainbow Loom bracelets to sell to raise funds for Paws Mission and other animal charities. I made a donation for a bracelet and Ryan befriended me on Facebook, after which she offered me a selection of about 12 Loom bracelets to sell to raise funds for Katniss' vet bills. 

This is my Loom bracelet.

Following Green Living's visit-and-volunteer session at the Eats Shoots and Roots edible garden, I have also become fast friends with the other volunteers (I may be Green Living's coordinator but many of the members of the public who sign up for our activities are strangers to me until we actually meet) and also with Shao-Lyn, one of the founding members of Eats Shoots and Roots

Meeting like-minded people at the Edible Garden visit-and-volunteer session.

Handing a token of appreciation over to Shao-Lyn

2. Help a stranger. 

On 6th July, I organised the aforementioned visit-and-volunteer session and provided volunteer help to Eats Shoots and Roots at their edible garden. I trust this will not be my last visit and I will return as often as I can. 

I am a crazy weeding machine!

As mentioned above, I also contributed to Lauren's Rainbow Loom bracelet fundraising project and made a donation to Paws Mission. Lauren wishes to contribute to Katniss' vet bills but I informed her that I have already taken care of it, and suggested putting the money into TNR projects instead. I think a 10-year-old would be quite happy to see her name on the official SPCA receipts for the TNR projects. 

Aravind and I have also taken another 3 stray cats -- Whitey, Tortie and Batik -- for neutering and medical treatment for minor injuries sustained in fights. 

I learned from my friend Colleen B. that there was an appeal for birthday cards for Danny Nickerson, a 5-going-on-6 year old with an inoperable brain tumour. His request was so simple, heartfelt and sweet that we would be idiots to say no. So we both sent him birthday cards stuffed full of stickers. Here's mine. 

We learned from this news report that he received hundreds of cards and packages in the mail and would be paying it forward by donating some of his birthday presents to other children in need. People are simply amazing. 

Am still helping out at the SPCA animal shelter and Free Tree Society nursery and with Reach Out Malaysia pretty much every week. It's nothing new to report but I just want to reiterate that service brings me joy. 

Bathing and tickwashing the shelter dogs at the SPCA every weekend.

Weeding the Faerie Garden at the Free Tree Society nursery on Tuesday evenings after work.

Food distribution runs and homeless outreach programmes on Saturday night with Reach Out Malaysia. Aravind is in charge of feeding the cats and catching them for TNR. I am in charge of animal First Aid and cleanliness and litter prevention.

3. Eat something/at someplace new to me. 

I usually have veggie/portobello burgers at MyBurgerLab or KGB Burgers, so it was a change from my routine to have a veggie burger at The Daily Grind a few weeks ago when I was in Bangsar to run errands. 

The cosy and whimsical interior of the Daily Grind cafe.

A close-up of my sinful veggie burger and fries. 

I also usually have Hakka Green Tea Rice at my usual eateries, Vegelife and Ming Tien Food Court, but sometime in the final week of July, I went to Green Meadow, an organic vegetarian cafe that also sells organic and vegan products in their shop downstairs. I managed to purchase organic cosmetic and personal care products as well as vegetables for my packed lunches. 

What the cafe looks like from the outside.

The cafe was filled with gorgeous green plants.

Delicious and satisfying green tea rice -- it's like a spa for the stomach!

Organic and vegan cosmetic products at the shop.

4. Go someplace I've never been. 

I didn't do any travelling in July but I did visit 3 places I've never been: The Eats, Shoots and Roots edible garden, The Daily Grind cafe and Green Meadow cafe. 

5. Learn something new. 

In July, I learned how to ride my skateboard off a curb and drop in at the ramps. 

At kickboxing, we learned how to break a fall and free your leg when you kick your opponent and he kicks your leg. 

I also blew smoke bubbles, something I have been wanting to try ever since I saw someone blowing one at the shisha cafe. 

6. Declutter and cull 100 items. 

I decluttered and culled more than 500 items this month, including my housemate Jake's old CDs and VCDs, the mail folders and files, and my workstation at work. 

All the items went to the Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Society recycling centre, which I have started volunteering at in August, but that's a story for the August monthly bucket list. 

7. Give up something for a month. 

In July, I gave up saying YES to all new commitments and responsibilities and felt so liberated afterwards. I learned a really cool new word in the process. 
The word is "No". 
 As in, "I have a full time job, family to support and sick foster cat who needs daily vet visits, so NO, I won't take on more last-minute responsibilities just because someone else dropped the ball." 
 "No -- I can't meet up to listen to your ideas for volunteering. If you think it's a good idea, it probably is, and I am sure you have the competence and intelligence to pull it off." 
 "No -- I can't come to Perak to talk to MNS members about volunteering. It wouldn't make environmental sense. Just create volunteering opportunities and people will come." 
 "No -- I can't pick up your slack. You are the Secretariat and are paid to manage this, not foist it off on volunteers " 
A good word. 
A powerful word. 
Why didn't I learn it sooner?