23 February 2013

Ginvera Nutri White Marvel Gel

And so the experimentation with skin care products continues...by the way, I'm not paid in any way for writing these opinions and my opinions are true and frank (as always).

I've never used anything from Ginvera, until the end of last year when my son started sprouting pimples and black heads. He's at that age.

I used some scrubs on him but they didn't do any good in getting rid of his blackheads on his nose, and I'm too chicken to extract the black heads with the extractor as I'm afraid it might hurt his young skin.

Then my maid (bless her!) saw an advert on Ginvera Nutri White Marvel Gel with all the fabulous claims and she wanted to try it for herself (she has oily skin and occasionally  has pimple breakouts). She suggested that it might help my son too.

So off we trooped to Guardian pharmacy one evening and picked up the gel.

What Ginvera claims

That the Nutri White Marvel Gel is the 3rd generation of MARVEL GEL, which was first launched in 1991. It has been No. 1 in sales for 16 consecutive years in the dead skin and blackhead remover category.

Unlike others, this is the only dead skin and blackhead remover that can soften the deep layers of skin to remove dead skin cells and blackheads thoroughly and gently, without any heat or harsh polishing effect.

The gel:
• Thoroughly rubs away deep layers of dead and aging skin
• Removes blackheads without pain
• Removes dry, coarse, dull and dark skin
• Gives way to new born skin for fairer, finer and younger complexion
• Stimulates metabolism to lighten dark spots and pigmentation effectively
• Removes make-up
• Gradually lightens scars with regular use
• Enhances complete and quick absorption of skincare products
• Daily use reveals a smoother, softer, finer, fairer, more radiant and youthful skin


To be used daily on dry face with dry fingers. Squeeze a sufficient amount and dot on forehead, cheeks, chin, nose and neck. Massage about one minute. Must rinse off with water / facial cleanser after use.

I think...

.... that it does a fairly good job of exfoliating dead skin cells, and thus removing some of the blackheads that form as a result of clogged pores.

After massaging onto my boy's dry skin for the first time, it immediately formed little clumps, probably a mixture of the gel and dead skin. Rinsed off and cleansed his face as usual. After several times of using the gel, my dad-in-law remarked that my son's face had cleared up a bit and looked brighter/ cleaner.

I decided to try it myself. It feels like a very gentle scrub and the sensation of the little clumps forming is interesting. After that, the skin feels a lot smoother, not unlike the feeling after a thorough scrub and/or peel. But the gel is gentle and does not leave your skin red, unlike some harsher exfoliaters.

It's quite economical, at about RM19 for a 60 ml tube of gel. I got a new tube for myself so that I wouldn't have to share it with my son!

Update: Marvel Gels are all the rage now. With lots of cosmetic brands coming out with similar products, and Ginvera has another under their Green Tea series.

21 February 2013

Roselle Syrup and Roselle Jam

This morning, my maid and I harvested a marvelous amount of roselle calyxes from our pair of roselle plants.

This is the second batch of roselle shrubs that we have planted. And they are a lot larger than our first roselle plants. This pair looks like they will continue to grow and live despite having given their bounty of deep red fruit. Whereas our first batch of roselle plants were single-season shrubs that died after they produced fruit.

My rottweiler busied herself sniffing around and occasionally seeking a pat while we were cutting off the fruit.

We then separated the calyxes from the little hard seed in the centre of the fruit. We plan to dry the seeds and keep them as our seed stock.

My maid (who taught me all about the roselle) then washed the calyxes and put them all into a large pot. She filled just enough water to cover the calyxes. We don't exactly have a specific recipe for roselle syrup or roselle jam, but whatever we do by approximation works!

The calyxes are boiled till they are soft, and lifted out of the deep red liquid. Add sugar to taste.

Then we used a potato masher to mash the softened calyxes to make the jam. Voila!

It feels great to have a bountiful harvest from my own garden to be made into delightful treats for the family to enjoy. Hope you will try your hand in growing roselle too. It is very easy to do in Malaysia, with enough sunshine and rainfall.  

18 February 2013

Applying for Identity Card at the new UTC Perak

Wow! I've reached a milestone. Or rather, my son has.

He just turned 12 and is now required by law to apply for his Identity Card (IC) which all Malaysians are obliged to carry with them.

I would have gone to the National Registration Department in Meru but for the newly opened Urban Transformation Centre of Perak (UTC Perak). It was officially opened by none other than our esteemed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Friday, 15 February 2013, right spank in the middle of the Chinese New Year week.

So I told my son that we would get his new IC at the UTC Perak. He had wanted to go to Meru, which is farther out from where we live in Ipoh. You know how kids love to go for longer drives. Besides the Kompleks Pejabat Kementerian Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri in Meru is a large, newish and (still) clean building with ample parking in its compound. 

The UTC Perak on the other hand, is housed in the same old dated building as the wet market in town. It now occupies the empty and abandoned floors once home to the Super Kinta supermarket. "Yucks!" my son had complained.

UTC Perak

Contrary to my assumption that the market building would be quiet with ample parking below ground, all the parking bays were full! At 4pm on a Monday. We had to circle a few times before we found a spot to park. 

The moment the kids got out of the car, they smelled the market.

I assured them that the UTC would not smell inside. Anyway, it was a good chance for me to introduce them to the market where I buy my groceries from which all their meals come from! 

We got a little lost trying to find the entrance to the UTC so I decided to go the safe way and find the main entrance of the UTC which fronts the fresh chicken vendors. The people in charge had of course erected nice shiny metallic boards to block off the unsightly chicken stalls.

Once inside the UTC we walked around a bit and finally found the National Registration Dept. Departments of all manner can be found in the UTC so I guess you can get all your routine, boring and frustrating dealings with the authorities done at one place!

Applying for the Identity Card

To apply for your child's IC, you need to bring your child's original birth certificate and the parent's original IC. Then you fill up the form that the officer gives you.
Our queue number was 2486. I asked how many people were ahead of us and was told there were 60! It was already 4pm, but the officer told me that everyone with a queue number would be attended to before the close of business today. 

Hmmm, perhaps I underestimated the number of people who would be doing this kind of errand during the CNY holidays! Oh well, we were already there so there was nothing else to be done except to wait.

We hung around a bit to observe the pace of numbers being called up. They seemed to be moving along pretty well, almost one per minute. Too good to be true!

We had a snack at Mc Donald's and came back after 20 minutes. Our number came up pretty soon after. The lady officer sighted the original birth cert and my IC. She then took both my son's and my thumbprints. Then she sent us off for his photo to be taken and we were done by 5pm! I was told to come back for his IC in 3 days' time.

60 people ahead of us and all done in 1 hour. I was suitably impressed. 
Perhaps this all has to do with an election year (call me a skeptic!) The officers were even reasonably polite and friendly, as opposed to all the sour faces we are accustomed to seeing at government offices. Maybe dear PM Najib had given clear and present instructions that the rakyat is to be served with smiles, as we pay taxes (their salary!) and we vote!

(images from someecards.com and nst.com.my)

06 February 2013

Chinese New Year and Lap Chun

This Chinese New Year, for the year 2013, will fall on 10th February, ushering in the year of the snake.

My parents always thought, and therefor taught me, that if one is born on or after the first day of the Lunar New Year, then the newborn's Chinese zodiac sign would be that of the new lunar year. But years later, in consulting a feng shui master for my parents' house, and having picked up a healthy interest in feng shui by then, my parents learned of the all-important "lap chun" day in the Lunar Calendar, which is the first day of spring. The new lunar year actually starts on this  "lap chun" day and not on the Chinese New Year day!

Very confusing, I know! Because then, we discovered that my son is actually a dragon and not a snake. A bonus! My son was born after Chinese New Year but before the lap chun date in the year succeeding the year of the dragon.

My inlaws were not aware of this little bit of Chinese feng shui knowledge but were very pleased when we told them their grandson is a dragon baby after all. My inlaws then chimed that there is always a dragon in the family. Ahemmm...............

Since the Chinese can be said to be obsessed with dragon babies, I found these lap chun calendar birth years for dragons from  born in the year of the dragon

  • 09:16 Feb. 5, 1928 – 15:07 Feb. 4, 1929
  • 07:07 Feb. 5, 1940 – 12:48 Feb. 4, 1941
  • 04:52 Feb. 5, 1952 – 10:44 Feb. 4, 1953
  • 03:04 Feb. 5, 1964 – 08:45 Feb. 4, 1965
  • 00:39 Feb. 5, 1976 – 06:32 Feb. 4, 1977
  • 22:42 Feb. 4, 1988 – 04:26 Feb. 4, 1989
  • 20:40 Feb. 4, 2000 – 02:27 Feb. 4, 2001
  • 18:22 Feb. 4, 2012 – 00:12 Feb. 4, 2013

Feng shui master Lillian Too simplifies all this by stating that lap chun almost always falls on February 4 every year (as is corroborated by the calendar of dragon years above). So, if one is born before February 4, your Chinese zodiac animal would be that of the previous year.

An example for further clarification that I found on skillon.com explains that when a child is born on 25 January 2012 ( a dragon year), does she belong to the previous year's Rabbit or the 2012 Dragon? The answer: she belongs to the Rabbit and not the Dragon. Why? This is because as long as she is born before “Lap Chun” which normally falls on 4th or 5th February, she still belongs to the previous year’s Chinese zodiac sign. This is always the case regardless when the date for Chinese New Year is. So, with Chinese New Year on 23rd January 2012 and “Lap Chun” only arriving on 4th February 2012, all those born between 4 Feb 2012 and 4th February 2013 (according to the able above, up to 12.12 am) belong to the Rabbit.

To further complicate matters, there are years in the Chinese calendar called blind year or double blind year, when there is no lap chun, hence no official start of spring! This happens when the Chinese New Year starts after 5th of February and ends before or after the first day of spring in the succeeding year. Needless to say, such years are said to be inauspicious, or perhaps, more challenging than usual.

01 February 2013

Peanut Root Soup for Growth

It is a Chinese belief that making soup from the roots of the peanut / groundnut plant for children - usually male children - just before or round-about their puberty, will help them reach their full height potential.

I remember my Mom telling me this when I was about 11 or 12 years old. But she never made it for me as I am a girl. They didn't want a girl to grow too tall (hard to find a husband it seems!).

Fortunately, I am considered fairly tall for a Chinese girl, about 5 feet 6 (166 cm).

Having a boy and a girl of my own, with my boy soon turning 12 and with his voice breaking now, my interest in the peanut root soup was rekindled. Here in Ipoh, I asked a couple of friends and one said she did make it for her son.

No harm trying, I thought. A tall boy is better than a short boy, haha!
I looked up the net to see if others had tried this soup, and I found lots of people have! Some claim to have grown taller thanks to the soup while others say that it had no effect.

The Star newspaper had a writeup (answering a question) on this some time ago, and I have copied the information below:
I was informed by numerous people within the Chinese community that soup made from roots of peanut will help youngsters to grow taller, especially when given to them during their teen years, but it is not advisable to serve them the soup after they have reached 16. The roots are usually boiled with a young male chicken for three to four hours. Boys whose voices are starting to break are given three doses of the soup. Can you elaborate on this? – G.P. Ng
Not only peanuts popular in Chinese diet, but the seed coat, shell, leaves, stem and roots are useful as well. Peanut is commonly used in making soup. Boiling it together with barley, red date and si seg makes a cheap yet nutritious soup that supplies essential nutrients for the young and aged.

The nut and roots of the peanut are used to make nutritious soups.
The seed coat of peanut, especially those red in colour, is used to treat problems concerning blood and bleeding. Peanut shells are included in prescriptions for treating cough. Boiling fresh peanut leaves in water and drinking the concoction before bedtime is to ensure a good night’s sleep. However, there is no scientific report on how soup made from peanut root would affect the growth of children.

On the other hand, in recent years, several healthful components were found in both matured and young peanut roots. Researchers at National Chiayi University, Taiwan, have identified resveratrol in matured peanut roots (J. agri. food chem., March 2002).

Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in red wine. It has been touted as a health component with many healthful benefits including preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer.

A glucose-specific protein-like substance known as lectin has also been isolated from peanut seedling roots (Indian J. of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Dec 1993). People who are lectin-intolerant may have problems ingesting foods such as soya, wheat and legumes.
Would drinking peanut root soup during the teens help to increase immunity or decrease allergy problems in growing children, promote better health and even make them grow taller? These need to be investigated further. Nevertheless, the soup is very tasty and adults enjoy it too!

I made my peanut root soup with the following ingredients (advised by friend):
  • 1 bunch of peanut roots (fresh or dried)
  • 1 black chicken (cut into large chunks)
  • 7 black shitake mushrooms (the black ones Chinese use all the time)
  • 1 litre of water
  • salt to taste

After washing the roots thoroughly, as well as washing and soaking the mushrooms beforehand, I put all the ingredients together and boiled for about 2 hours.

My son didn't mind the taste. It tasted rather earthy and "roasted" to me! My friend said to just make this soup once for my son, but after reading the Star, maybe I'll make it for my son twice more. Believe it or not!

(images from annieliciousfood.blogspot.com, treehugger.com, ars.usda.gov)