Sunday, 28 December 2008

Where the heart is

I have always been envious of the vegetables Gary's parents grow in their home garden. Ever since they retired some one and a half years ago, they've put their hearts into their edible garden. There are rows and rows of Kai Lan or chinese broccoli, cool cucumbers on the vine, chinese herbs for making soup, big juicy zucchinis, flavoursome beans, hot chillies, coriander, chives, shallots and lots more.

My mother-in-law told me they haven't bought veggies for a long long time. My father-in-law even built a green house to keep the veggies warm in winter and keep birds and other little veggie munchers away.

My inlaws use this to make soup. I don't have a clue what they're called!


Chinese Broccoli


They even have three chooks that provide them with fresh eggs each day.
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Snippets of Christmas Day

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Saturday, 27 December 2008

Soaking up the sun

What a splendid day for an aussie backyard barbecue!

We shopped, we washed, we prepared, we baked, we cooked, we laughed, we dined, we chatted, we drank, we celebrated. We had a great time.

Happy Birthday my dear brother!
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Friday, 26 December 2008

How was your Christmas?

I have been awfully busy the last couple of days. Christmas madness! It felt like I have not stopped baking, cooking, cleaning, chasing after the boys etc. in the last couple of days. This year, we spent Christmas with family and friends at the beach in Geelong. It was the most wonderful day, the weather was splendid and we had the best time with good food, great company.

I have some wonderful news! Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a little post, a letter on behalf of Lachie to a special Santa at Nuffnang. We wish for more Australian bloggers to join the Nuffnang blogger community and to support one of our very own "blogvertiser". Just as well, we wish to win the Dell™ Inspiron™ Mini 9. And we won!!!!!!!!!

*beaming smile*

I still could not believe my luck! I would like to thank the team at Nuffnang for giving me this wonderful opportunity to blog about them and choosing me as the winner! Here's to a fruitful year of blogging, a healthy and happy year for my boys and a wonderful year ahead for the Nuffnangers. Also, I would like to wish all of you, my treasured readers, a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year.

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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Santa came early

THIS appeared on my kitchen bench just a few hours ago.

Sure it's my dream machine, and I rave about it ALL the time. But surely I don't need a Kenwood Chef as well as a KitchenAid?!?!


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We had to make a trip to the capital city, Canberra over the weekend. It wasn't exactly the ideal family getaway I had imagined. The whole purpose of the trip was to get my Malaysian passport renewed. I had to do this in person at the consulate. What a pain! Anyways, I thought it would be nice to bring the boys for a short trip.

The highlight of the trip was that Lachie got to sit in an airplane! Whoaww, he was brimming with excitement. All the other times when we flew, he was too young to comprehend or even remember. We flew Tiger Air, got tickets online for $19.95 each way per person. Bargain! Even Luc's infant surcharge costs more than our actual tickets. They're the cheapest air tickets I've bought, ever.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon. I took Lachie and Lucas for a walk around the Manuka shops, had a relaxing lunch and a browse through little shops and boutiques. There were a nice collection of outdoor cafes and delicatessen.

We stayed at the Rydges Capital Hill, only minutes from the Parliament House. The boys enjoyed the hotel stay while I go about my business. Lachie had a swim in the hotel pool while Lucas enjoyed his bubble bath in fine porcelain china.

Monday morning, I took a walk to the Malaysian Embassy. It didn't look too far on the map but it was a little bit of a hike. Maybe I'm just loosing my stamina! It took me a good half an hour of brisk walking (each way). All I could think of was my fettucine primavera I had for dinner the night prior, and my two missed gym sessions last week and phew, thank goodness the boys didn't tag along!
The whole experience at the Malaysian consulate was just as expected, unpleasant. There were people cutting queues, rude verbal exchanges and even people who came without preparations whatsoever. Let's just say, I could not wait to get it all over and done with.

There was only one stop on our agenda: The Parliament House. We checked out of the hotel at midday and made our way there by foot. It didn't seem difficult, but our walk was a VERY long one, lugging around two little boys and our bags, going uphill! We also struggled to find the entrance.

Lachie did an amazing job walking. We walked and walked and walked and walked........

And finally got to the top.

We hung around for a short while before heading back to the Malaysian Embassy to collect my new passport en route to the airport by TAXI.
Good to be home.
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Friday, 19 December 2008

100% Organic

Today, Lachie and I harvested the first of our potted strawberries. It is so satisfying watching things grow in the garden, bearing fruits and then turning into something so...edible! There were only 2 and guess who gobbled them down?


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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Edible gifts

In the spirit of christmas, I have been making christmassy cookies. It was so much fun! We made butter christmas trees and yoyos. Wrapped them in cello and pink tissue and gave them to neighbours and friends close by. Our neighbours were delighted!

The boys and I dropped them off yesterday afternoon and it was the very first time we've stepped into our neighbours' houses in the last 4 years we've moved into the neighbourhood. There are 3 elderly couples who lived near us that we've always waved and said hello to everytime we passed them, and I've been meaning to have them over for a cuppa but never got around to doing so.

Lachie sniffed around every corner of their house, tickled every santa's beard, jingled the bells on their christmas trees and got stuffed with so much lollies he was silly for the rest of the night!

Simple butter cookie recipe:

150g butter
2/3 cup castor sugar (I only use 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp rose water essence
1 egg yolk
2 cups self raising flour
2 tbsp milk

Cream butter, sugar and essence until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk. Fold in sifted flour and milk. Place cookie dough in a covered bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes. Roll out dough in between two sheets of baking paper. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter. Sprinkle with 100's and 1000's (now is the time to use those extra little hands!). Bake in a moderate oven for about 12 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden (but not too browned).


6 oz Butter
6 oz Self Raising Flour
2 oz Pure Icing Sugar
2 oz Custard Powder

Beat butter and sifted icing sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in sifted flour and custard powder. Mix until well combined. Roll into balls and press with a fork. Bake in moderate oven for about 15 minutes or until golden! The aroma of butter from the oven, just delicious! Isn't this recipe SO easy to remember. Commit to memory for once you've had one, it will just melt away in your mouth and you'll want MORE!


1.5 oz Butter
6 oz Pure Icing Sugar, sifted
About 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or milk

Combine all ingredients until it become smooth and spreadable. Sandwich icing between two butter cookies. Lick bowl clean! Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Lucas @ 7 months

Blink of an eye, Lucas is 7 months old and he's on the move! He could flip, flop and roll about and flip again from one corner of the room to the other in no time. The other day I found him yelling out, half his body stuck under the couch! Ouch! And this morning, I left him on my BIG bed right in the middle surrounded by fluffy BIG European pillows, just to brush my teeth. I popped my head out 30 seconds later: eeeeeekkkk he was about to nose-dive 3 ft down to the ground!

He gets up on his hands and knees, rocks back and forth, inches forward a little and flops down. I think he will be crawling in no time, before he even learn how to sit still on his own. He loves "bouncing" on his tummy, flapping his arms and legs about. It is so so darn cute!

He pulls both his feet up at the same time and puts them BOTH in his mouth. He puts not one, not two but three fingers in his mouth. He puts my necklace in his mouth, Lachie Ko-Ko's toy cars in his mouth, breadcrumbs from the floor in his mouth and everything under the sky in his mouth.

He can laugh a big hearty laughs! He loves funny sort of noises like burps and *bum noises*. It makes him laugh. Lachie loves to make him laugh. A tickle is a sure giggle! He is so ticklish on his feet.

He loves his food. He's eating breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 4 breastfeeds a day. He gets a bit rashy on his cheeks still with dairy and wheat but it is definitely improving. He loves chewing on a stick of celery straight from the fridge. I think it doubles up as a toothie peg! There were times when I think I'm about to give-up breastfeeding, but then I'd change my mind again. Feeding him is such a joy. Lucas is such a boobie's boy. It is going to be difficult to wean him...

There's been ups and there's been downs, just as everything else in this world. There were days when I think work in the Emergency Department with a waiting room full of thugs pale in comparison. But when I look at my boys, I wouldn't change a single thing. No ED's thank you! That's not to say I will not be returning to work, I will. Just not now... I don't want to miss a thing. Best Blogger Tips


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Sunday, 14 December 2008

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Yesterday, we went to The Wiggle's concert. Not too long ago, we were just there for the Hi-5 and I did mention that we'll be back real soon. Well, I was initially so over the whole concert thing and I volunteered my ticket for Gary's 4 year old niece who was coincidentally visiting from Sydney. All of a sudden in the morning of the concert, I felt like I HAD to go to this concert!!! I don't know what came over me.. haha! Anyways, we just got an extra ticket for entry and sat together with Lachy on dadda's lap. It was the BEST performance, even better than the Hi-5!

The stage was a simple set up of the circus or the carnivale. That was all there is. It's just pure wiggles and their wiggly friends! There were acrobatics. Anthony did splits (uhmm, maybe half splits). How old is he again? There were lots of dancing, lots of singing, LOTS of screaming kids and more splits from Anthony.

The Wiggles performed songs from their latest release, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, plus all the favourites such as Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car, Rock A Bye Your Bear and Monkey Dance. Emotions were high, I even had a little tear in my eye when I saw them chug-a-chugging out in their big red car! At the corner of my eye, I caught the biggest smile on Lachie's face. He was cheering, jumping up and down and screaming. OK maybe I'm exaggerating a little but he was a happy camper! Lucas was sitting on my lap, and he was watching them in awe for the longest time.

I'm still puzzled as to how four old adult male make it so big in the Australian children's entertainment industry. They're dubbed "the world's biggest preschool band" and have become top-earning Australian entertainers for four years in a row and earned AU$45 million in 2007. Wow!

The songs are catchy and usually starts with the chorus. Their dances that accompany each song are so simplistic ALL kids can sing and dance with them. Is that their secret to their success?

Read more about the The Wiggles here. Best Blogger Tips

Brothers @ random

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Saturday, 13 December 2008

Char Koay Teow

I love having friends over. It means we get to socialise without having to drag our two kids out! THIS has got to be the most popular reason for getting friends to come to our place.

CHAR KOAY TEOW! It means literally fried flat rice noodles and has got to be one of the most popular Malaysian hawker food. I was called that in school because my surname is "Koay" which can also mean kuih, Malay for cake. So there, food were named after us! :) It's no surprise then that we are passionate about our food. Our mates know that if they come over to our place, they get fed and tucked in bed. Yes?

I've been asked many a times for this recipe, so I'm going to make one up! I really don't know the metrics of this and that, cos sometimes its a pinch of this and a thumb size of that.
For this, you would really need a very well seasoned wok, preferably a cast-iron Chinese wok. This is inexpensive, lightweight, reasonably durable and has a very quick conduction time. Fancy titanium Scanpan or your Jamie Oliver ain't going to cut it. I got my favourite black wok from Gary's parents who used to be restauranteurs.

(Serves 4)

Chilli Paste

200g dried red chillies
8 red shallots (I use red onions because of the exorbitantly priced shallots here in Australia!)
4 cloves garlic


4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp dark caramel soy or kecap manis
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp sugar

1 whole garlic minced
12 fresh prawns, peeled (tail left intact)
2 Lap Cheong (Chinese sausage), sliced diagonally
2 pieces fish cake, sliced
1kg flat rice noodles
4 eggs
1kg bean shoots
1 bunch chives, cut at 1 inch lengths

To make the sambal or chilli paste, remove seeds from dried chilli peppers and soak in hot water. Rinse and cut into large chunks. Put chilli, shallots and garlic in a food processor and blend until it forms a smooth paste.

Mix all ingredients to make the sauce.

The noodles MUST be made in single serves each time. So to make 4 plates of CKT, you need to repeat the following process 4 times. That means your guests will be eating at different times and they need to know that that's OK. It's a Malaysian hawker thing...EAT when your dish arrives and don't wait up for the rest!

Heat up a little oil in wok. Saute 1 tablespoon of garlic until fragrant. Add in lap cheong, prawns and fish cake. Spoon in chilli paste accordingly to the level of spiciness requested. Grab a handful of rice noodles and add into wok. Stir with the corner of the spatula in circular motions to avoid breaking up of the rice noodles. Make sure that the heat from the fire is adequate. Spoon in 2 1/2 tablespoons of the prepared sauce. Stir. Push the ingredients in the wok to one side and crack a whole egg onto the surface of the wok. Break the egg yolk a little. Cover the egg over with the rest of the ingredients in the wok. Add in bean shoots and chives. Stir and done! Dish out onto individual plates.

This entire process only takes about 3 minutes or so. You can do a little jiggle or a dance while cooking to entertain your friends. It's quick so make sure you have ALL your ingredients prepared and ready to go! I usually do a trial run for the first plate and call it the taste plate. This is just to check the spiciness and the saltiness of the chilli and sauce. As I've said I've never really measured everything accurately. It's a dash of this and that!

I think my mates must have been really REALLY deprived of Malaysian hawker if they think my CKT is oh so authentic without the cockles or see-harm and pork fat. Have you even tried the gourmet version with salted duck eggs? *salivates*

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