Friday, February 29, 2008

Starbucks + wifi = link to civilization!

This is Sher reporting LIVE from the only Starbucks in Indiana, PA. There's actually a small Starbucks on the IUP campus, but it's not an independent store like the usual ones you see at street corners, busy intersections, strip malls - you know what I am talking about! That's not the point... the thing is I am here in the little town of Indiana, PA... why?!? This #3 road trip is with my dear sister, Sharon as she interviews for graduate school admissions. While she is busy meeting faculty and future program colleagues, her beloved sister - me, is left with the car and luckily the laptop from 11:15a.m. to 5:00p.m.

In previous trips, I have had Michele or Peter with me and we have been in 'busier' locales to which we can roam/explore the city or quaint townships it has to offer. This time it is me alone.... and after less than one hour, I can say that I have driven around/explored and have been to all places of importance in Indiana, PA! Let me describe to you of our drive here from Buffalo yesterday...

To start, Sharon and I left Buffalo in the early afternoon... made great driving time on the interstate and thruways and before we were to hit smaller routes to Indiana, PA - we chanced upon the the
Grove City Premium Outlet Malls (rated as one of the top 20 Outlet Centers in the United States). Doing what we girls do best... a pit stop to do a little shopping. It's tax free on clothing in Pennsylvania! Hurrah!!

As we continued our drive to our final destination - we were met with hilly, one lane roads. Adding to the driving conditions were pitched black, curvy, low speed limit and sign-less road of about twenty-some miles. Anticipation of reaching the end built and we were sure we were lost in the midst of the Keystone State. Also known as the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World" because the national Christmas Tree Grower's Association was founded in Indiana county, we were beginning to think that we may have missed a turn or two and were just heading deeper into the woods - filled with Christmas trees!!

We made it... and instead of heading to the accomodation which Sharon had secured... we went to grab some supper at Ruby Tuesdays. It seemed the most logical and convenient place seeing it was brightly lit and everything else looked less.. err... shady dark?! As we were heading to the motel we were putting up.... yes, you read it right... a motel (don't think of the movie Psycho for the time being... I will explain in a bit), we discovered that Ruby Tuesdays was kind of at the west end of this little township, the university in the middle and our motel on the east end of it = all this in a less than 5 mile radius!! Not to sound snooty... okay maybe I am....but, my day alone (today) did not sound promising!!

The motel which we were in was called Twin Pines Motel and it was a rustic looking cabin - nice, decent and clean. It even came equiped with a mini refrigerator, microwave and even wifi. Not bad for a couple hours of having a warm roof over our heads. It was nothing scary or unpleasant that we had previously imagined or the Bates Motel (!!). We should have taken pictures to show and tell but you can take our words for it!

Sharon and I were discussing about how small this town was is and about how it would weigh in on her decision in choosing the university. On IUP's website, we found out that student life here would be to experience all things nature, hiking, fishing, camping, etc. But, if one were to desire more excitement or big-city possibilities - "Pittsburgh is just an hour’s drive away!". Yeeaaahh.... so much for that!

Lo, behold... here I am blogging at Starbucks after visiting Indiana's only mall - Indiana Mall which comprised of The Bon-Ton, JC Penneys, Sears, K-Mart and a few stores in the mall. There is a four screen movie theatre in the mall and I thought... hey, I can catch a new movie while I wait for Sharon - no can do! Before our trip here, I did some research to see what there is to do around town and what I found was that the earliest movie time is 5 p.m. This has to be some error, maybe the movie times on the third party websites were not updated.... even a small town must at least have some matinee movie showings, right? NOPE! The movie theather was locked-up and a measly paper-clock time showing time of opening as 6:30p.m. An older gentleman smoking his cigarette by the doors of the theater looked at me funny as I was trying to peek into the theatre to see some signs of life! Moving on....

I took a stroll... more like a brisk walk through the mall and all of the stores. That was it... there has to be something else in town to do. I got in the car and drove around a little. Compared to what little of the town I saw last night with Sharon, I may be able to spot more places of interest in the daytime. It started snowing... a lot of snow... I persisted and drove around downtown Indiana - sure enough, the same things we saw last night. The downtown of Indiana appears to be just a couple blocks (4-6 blocks) of stores on one street. The city-like landscape of the town are represented by buildings of the IUP campus and the streets are confusing, hilly and there's a railway track that separates the campus from the other main street which houses this Starbucks, the mall and the grocery/convenience stores.

It is after almost 3 p.m. now, still snowing and for a non-coffee drinker, I had munched on a pineapple-mango empanada and am working on sipping my grande green tea latte. I wonder what else they have for me to feast on? Come on Starbucks... I can rely on you, right? That leaves me about about 2 hours before I go to get Sharon and we head home - I pray that her session ends early!

I am thankful for wifi and will continue my survival here in Stabucks, Indiana-PA oh, and a happy leap year to everyone!!

Happy Leap Year 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I want a Rakku!!

Came across this amazing creation from my friend Jamie, who's a recent and proud owner of a silver rakku wheel. An incredibly ingenious design for people living in cramp spaces and/or any OCD individuals such as myself who are in constant look out of any organizational gadgets to improve their living space. I can't wait to get my hands on one of these babies! I present to you, the Rakku shoe wheel...

The Rakku shoe wheel sells for $65 from Rakku retail carriers or $69.99 from Bed Bath & Beyond (don't forget to use those 20% discounts the store always sends out!). It holds up to 30 pairs of shoes and comes in silver, white, black and pink. This is how the Rakku shoe wheel works...

To learn more about Rakku Designs... CLICK HERE or read the NYTimes write up about it HERE!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yan & Brian's Visit

Yan & Brian were in Buffalo this past weekend. We were so busy playing catching up and just hanging out that the camera was a bit forgotten. Here are some captured moments together with friends that we managed to salvage :P

With the Ciupaks'
The Milizias', Ciupaks' and Xi Zhang together at breakfast.

Hope the drive back to Gaines, MI was pleasant. Brian, it looks like you have a driver for a change :D Come back more often to Buffalo you two, and we hope to see you in Detroit this April!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chicken pox scare!

I don't know if it was stress related, food poisoning/food allergies or contaminated gym equipments that was not properly disinfected - I had a chicken pox scare over the weekend.

It was a scare for me seeing that I have never had the chicken pox even after numerous attempts in my primary and secondary school days to get them at a young age. Red, pimply looking red dots on my lower abdomen area, some on my legs and chest area. They were ITCHY! All I wanted to do was scratch, scratch and scratch!

Went to the doctors and I ended up seeing two doctors seeing that they themselves were puzzled on what I had. Have been prescribed some sort of antibiotics and the red dots are slowly clearing - although the meds make me tired and all I want to do is sleep which I have been successfully doing this entire weekend. Good thing is that whatever I have is NOT contagious!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Viv & Ivan's wedding pixs by Louis Pang

More pictures from Vivian and Ivan's Penang wedding back in December. Their photographer, Louis Pang just posted (finally!) them on his website/blog. Here are some of my favorites!

Viv & Ivan's wedding by Louis Pang

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dad in Indianapolis

8 hour road trip, clear blue skies, the mid-west, sharon's grad school interview, greeting dad and the rest of the Malaysian mens' bowling team members, shopping at Circle Center and Keystone Crossing Mall, dining in Brugge's, seeing dad again = PRICELESS


My adorable husband....

The picture and card said it all....


Thursday, February 14, 2008

When we were young-er...

Back in the days.....
baby pete & sher
Peter & Sherene

Will you be my Valentine?

Sharon, Pete and I are on a road trip (#2) to Indianapolis today for Sharon's grad school interview this weekend and to meet up with our Dad. Our wish to you, have a special Valentine's day with your loved ones!

Happy Valentine's Day!!
X o X o X

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cold, cold, cold

The weather has been.... freezing cold and plenty of snow!!! Wind chills get up to 40 mph making the temperature dipped to a low minus 14 degrees fahrenheit!!

B B B b b b r r r . . . . . . . . . . . .

Snow's not so bad if there's no sheet of ice under it. Clearing the walkway, walking, scrapping ice off the car and driving becomes a living hazard!!

Grab your blankies, a warm cuppa hot chocolate, a nice movie to watch while remaining in bed under your goose down comforters and most importantly, your husband or significant other!
"Baby, it's COLD outside!!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bad service at Black & Blue Steak & Crab Restaurant

Monday, February 11th, 2008 8:20pm

I made reservations for Sharon's birthday at Black & Blue in Williamsville. Michele, Pete and I were there for a nice evening dinner celebration for Sharon's birthday. We were seated promptly after our 8.15pm reservation. We started with a bottle of German Weber Riesling. Bread and butter was brought to our table before the wine arrived. After 10 minutes, the waiter returned with our bottle of Riesling (uncorked) only to have him place it on our table for him to return because he had to deliver another bottle of wine to the table behind us and to take orders at another table.

We ordered the grilled trout, special of the day - beef medallions with portabello mushrooms and grilled asparagus, lump Jonah crab and the 20oz porter house with lump crab with red wine demi-glaze served with a side of sweet potato dumplings.

Before our entrees arrived, a waitress simply leaned in to us to retrieve our salad forks (seeing that none of us were having salad) without a mere 'excuse me'. We thought that was rather rude and unrefined seeing that she simply reached across us to retrieve the forks. Our entrees arrived and the lump Jonah crab as well as crab on the porter house was fresh and delicious. The grilled trout served on a bed of lemon risotto topped with fried onions was not bad. The lemon risotto was rather bland but the grilled flavors of the trout somewhat compensated for the unflavored risotto. The beef medallions were decent - the side of asparagus was nicely grilled but the asparagus was rather old.

Service for the rest of the evening went down hill from here. The waitress who reached in for the fork came back to refill our water glasses clumsily hitting our plates loudly and appeared to be in a rush to just clear whatever she can while we were in the midst of eating. The waiter who took our orders stopped by very shortly to check on us and moved to the table next to us to "chat". The same goes with the waitress who came later to clear our plates. Michele who ordered the beef medallions had only managed to finish half her meal.

As the waitress was clearing all our plates, Michele requested that her unfinished portion be packed up. The three of us heard Michele's request loud and clear. Without asking or anything, the waitress simply stacked on our side plates onto Michele's unfinished portion and cleared our table leaving our water glasses behind. We were in utter shock!! If the waitress had not heard Michele's request, she should have inquired if the unfinished portion was to be packed up. Instead, she took it upon herself to just clear everything up. Again, the waitress cleared our table in such a fast and clumsy manner as if she was in a rush to get out of what she was doing.

We asked for our check, it came some time later and I left ZERO tip. I asked to speak to the Manager and relayed to him our bad experience. Before I was done complaining of our service, he interrupted me to go retrieve our check. He returned with our check and with our waiter. Now, I have the manager and waiter in front of me and I had to repeat my complaints. The manager had me fill out a comment card. As I was filling the card, our waitress stormed up to confront us. She claimed she did not hear Michele's request to pack up the unfinished portion of the meal. Offers from the manager, waiter and waitress to recook the unfinished portion of meal was made to which we declined. We were already on our way out the door and there was no point waiting for the chef to recook the discarded meal.

The waitress was unapologetic over her actions and was very confrontational about what had happened. Another shocker was that we felt the manager could have handled the communication portion of this bit with his serving staff instead of having us explaining again and again what had gone wrong. We were assured that our complaints will reach the management of Black & Blue, but I doubt that a small comment card coud have documented all that went wrong. I commented what I can on the few measly lines provided and hope that no one else will receive such bad experience as we did.

February '08 birthdays

Created with flickrSLiDR.


feb birthdays
Happy Birthday to you...
Happy Birthday to you.....
Happy Birthday to...
Binh+Bethany=Binthany (9th), Chee Ming(10th) & Sharon(11th),
Happy Birthday to you ALL!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Year Dim Sum

First dim sum of the new lunar year... this time with the parents. Where's the rest of the party at dim sum... too busy stuffing their faces with yummy 'har gow', 'siu mai', 'wu kok', 'lou mai gai', 'tan tarts', 'pi tan chuks', 'lo bak gow', 'char siew baos', etc.


Mario & Nancy at dim sum brunch

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you are around WNY and closeby to Henrietta, NY, head to Cantonese House located at 3159 Winton Rd South # 8, Rochester, NY 14623. Dim Sum there is just as great as the ones in Toronto minus crossing the border.

Road trip #1 - Hartfort, CT

Chinese New Year day.... got off work by noon... packed, waited for Chele and road trip #1 starts with Sharon for her graduate school interviews. This month alone, every weekend is a road trip to one of the many universities Sharon is applying to. We headed to University of Hartford, CT - a familiar 6 hours drive due to its proximity to Sharon's alma mater, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. While Sharon's attending her interview session(s), Chele and I had to keep ourselves occupied with a little shopping, Got Milk mustache playing and being silly in front of the camera :P

Chele & Sher
Amusing ourselves...

Candy machine
Fun with the camera setting

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Lunar New Year


Happy Lunar New Year
Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Engagement/Pre-wedding photo session with Punam Bean

We have pictures!! Checked my email this morning after a weekend of being away and one of the most recent emails received was from Punam - she sent it at around 1.30am this morning. She was feeling so inspired after our photo session yesterday and got working immediately. Here are some of the photos from our session as posted on her blog. Thank you for your beautiful work Punam!!!

We love the pictures and look forward to seeing more!!

Past & Present....

Sui Bee sent an email to Claire and I reminding us of the last time we took a picture together. It was back in 1999 at our college, KDU's Awards Ball. I have the same picture she sent, it's been displayed on my picture board on the wall next to my desk and all previous walls next to my desks from my previous living arrangements all these years since I left Penang. Almost a decade and here we are together again...

Back in the days...


February in the city

Peter and I were in the city this past weekend - we spent 2 full days in the city meeting up with old high school and college friends, a little shopping and meeting up with our wedding photographer for our pre-wedding photo session. We managed to see everyone important and very dear to us and that means a lot of coordinating, walking and catching the right train/cab to the right place at the right time - which all parties did so succesfully.

First person we met up with was Sui Bee who drove in from Baltimore. We later met up with Karyadi for lunch at Nyonya restaurant in Chinatown - Bee and Peter were craving more Malaysian food. Next, Eric met up with us for a short while. Pete and I always make a point to meet up with him when we are in the city and since we are in Chinatown where he presides, he was right there anyway :P We checked into our hotel, Hudson Hotel which was right by Columbus Circle and the Time Warner Center by Central Park West, talk about a great location to be in the city. Freshened up and the three of us, Bee, Pete and myself went to meet up with Claire and Dan for our dinner reservation. Claire had no idea that Bee was going to be with us - what a surprise it was!!

Dinner was delicious at ama - italian for love and later our group moved to a party in the meat packing district. Bee's friend invited us all to a party where we met up with Jerry & Andrea. There was going to be a bridal shower for Andrea the next day (yesterday) and I was not going to be able to make it seeing that Peter and I are meeting Punam for our pre-wedding photo session. It was so nice that Jerry and Andrea came all the way downtown Manhattan to see us and so that I would be able to pass her the shower gifts. Their wedding's about a month away!

The following day, Bee, Pete and I headed out for breakfast and said goodbyes to Bee - she wanted to make it back to Baltimore before it gets dark, plus she needs to catch up on sleep for the coming work week after a night of partying :P We stayed closeby to our hotel and headed to the Time Warner Center for some shopping and met with Punam at our 1pm appointment. She is such an amazing person and photographer!! She put Peter and myself at ease throughout the photo session and we had such a fun and relaxing time with her in Central Park. We even got to ride a round in the Carousel. I can't wait to see the photos when it's ready!! After our photo session, we headed to Long Island City to Punam's house and met with her talented husband, Andy from the Two Man Gentlemen Band.

Our final stop for our weekend getaway was about 3 miles away from Punam's or 2 subway stops away to Claire and Dan's apartment, also in Long Island City. There we were greeted with a pot of curry chicken cooking for dinner. That evening was also Superbowl Sunday, so the four us plomped ourselves down in front of the television with our plates of rice and curry chicken. Giants won!!! Hurray for New York! People at the airport in JFK were rejoicing for the NY Giants squashed any chance the NE Patriots had in making football history.

Peter and I arrived safely back in Buffalo where Michele picked us up from the airport - tired yet accomplished from our activity filled weekend!! Here are pictures from my camera...

Created with flickrSLiDR.