Blue Chrysanthemums?


The beautiful blue chrysanthemums... aren't they lovely?

It is now no longer a problem for anybody (especially florists) to obtain fresh flowers of any colour they wished for. There is now a technique of dyeing white flowers to other colours; be it pink, blue, black, green or purple.

I remember conducting an experiment when I was in Primary 1. We placed white flowers into a beaker of diluted red food colouring. After a while, the flowers had tints of red on the tips of their petals. Later, we saw that almost the whole flowers had turned red. We then cut the stalks of the flowers and found out that they were red too. We even ‘created’ a mixed-coloured flowers by dividing  the stems and place them in separate jars of dye.

Last Sunday, I came home from Kak Tasneem’s kenduri (click here to learn more about kenduri’ and click here to read about Kak Tasneem’s kenduri) with a bouquet of blue chrysanthemum for Nenek (my grandmother). I showed the flowers to nenek and she stared at them in wonder. She was really amazed by the flowers! She told me that she had never seen blue chrysanthemums before.

Blue chrysanthemums in a vase

Anyway we later found out that the chrysanthemums were actually dyed! As soon as we reached home, I arranged the flowers in a transparent vase and to my surprise, the water turned into a faint shade of blue after 5 minutes. Then, the eczema on my hands became very itchy and rashes appeared as I am allergic to some chemicals like artificial colourings. After replacing the water for four times within 41 hours, the colour of the chrysanthemums are no longer a striking blue but had toned down into a softer shade. Nevertheless, the water were still blue everytime I changed it.

The water is blue although I had changed it about 5 times when the photo was snapped

It is amazing how we can ‘colour’ our flowers into any colours of our choice. It would definitely  be a fun project for kids to enjoy.

Note: All of the flowers in these photos had their colours toned down to a softer blue. Click here to see the original colours of the flowers.

Traditional Remedies


It is always easier to take modern medicine whenever we are not feeling well but we should not ignore the benefits of traditional remedies. Do traditional remedies really work? I know some that really work…

For diarrhoea and vomiting (not due to any serious illnesses), mum would give me strong tea without sugar. Milk should be avoid until I get better. It is hard to drink cups of strong tea but it really works. Mum would also give me isotonic drinks until the diarrhoea/vomiting stops.

Young coconut water is not only tasty but is also very nutritious. Coconut water provides an isotonic electrolyte balance that makes it a good isotonic sport drink. Mum gives me young coconut water to drink whenever I have high fever or food poisoning.

The worst part of having a bad cold is blocked nose. Nowadays we have nasal spray but in the old days mum said that sometimes she could hardly sleep due to blocked nose. She had to use a few pillows to put her head up while sleeping until a close, dear friend of hers advised her to tie a piece of cloth tightly around her head until she hears a ‘pop’ sound. And it works!

Young coconut water, tea, honey and cloves are some of the items used in traditional remedies

Young coconut water, tea, honey and cloves are some of the items used in traditional remedies

Mum keeps a jar of coffee powder not only for making coffee but also for emergency uses. If she  hurts her finger while preparing a meal etc, she’ll use the coffee powder to stop the bleeding and it also helps to heal the wound.

Honey is full of goodness and is an excellent source of instant energy. If I have a sore throat or a cough, mum will gives me some honey mixed with lemon or lime juice to drink. It will really makes me feel better.

My dear grandfather taught my mum of another traditional remedy for cough. Mix some cooked rice with water and rock sugar; rest the mixture for a few hours before drinking. Another traditional remedy is tamarind mixed with rock sugar. Traditionally it should be left outside to collect the dewdrops but mum just let it rest for the night in the kitchen.

Water mixed with salt can relief a mild tooth and gum ache. Crushed clove can also be used for a relief  for tooth ache.

In Malaysian cooking, we use mortar and pastel to pound chilli and how it really hurts even if only a tiny drop accidentally splashes to ones eye (while pounding the chilli). It is believed that if the chilli got into ones right eye, rub the eye using the left knee and use the right knee for the left eye. I asked mum if it really works and mum said there is no harm in trying.

I agree with mum that we should learn more about traditional remedies. In fact we should learn more about the benefits of our herbs, plants and trees.