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Saturday, 31 January 2009

Ants be gone!

Just a couple of days back, I wrote about being invaded by ants!

Ants. Ants. Ants.

If you've been reading blogs or news from this part of town, you would have heard about the heatwave that has struck us. The temperature has been soaring about 40. It was quite uncomfortable, it was stinky hot and worst of all it kept us indoors. We were cut from our routine which involves a LOT of going out, to the shops, pottering in the garden or just going OUT.

What's worst, we have ants in our house. They come in in droves. They march in their mighty line, invading the privacy of our home. They dot my walls, my kitchen bench, my sugar jar. They drive me up the wall.

I spend a good hour in the morning, just cleaning and wiping up little black dots, in my pantry, in the cutlery drawer, in cabinets, under the table, IN the boys' toys, just everywhere! ARrrggghhhh!!

So anyways, I have been looking at means of keeping them out. I don't mind them in my garden, they help pollinate my pumpkins. For days, we've tried just keeping the place clean, I used essential oils, Gary sprayed the outside with surface insecticide, we traced every line to their entry point and blocked it with ant sand. They always find another way in. Our whole place is starting to smell like a chemical plant.

This morning when I was changing Lachie, there were ants in the bathroom and I don't know what made me squirt baby powder on them. Maybe it was just that I had the bottle in my hand. I noticed the black dots (first of all turn white) become somewhat disoriented and the line of ants dispersed. When I came back a little white later, there were no ants.



So off I went with the bottle of Johnson & Johnson, sprinkled mounts of baby powder in corners and along the sides of my pantry wall. Lo and behold, they were gone. Now my kitchen smells like Lachie's bottom freshly washed baby. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, 30 January 2009

Home Grown



This is Mr. Cucumber, trying to keep its cool on a HOT Melbourne day.

It hit 45.1 degrees Celsius today, a record for Victoria!

So I'm glad this morning, I snuck out to the garden and harvested some crops... before this sweltering heat gets to it!



A couple of gherkins (cucumber), a handful of beans, ONE squash. Oh yes, someone something some little furry creature has been stealing our squash. I have seen them growing YES, but they mysteriously disappear! This morning, I saw IT, scurrying across the fence with a guilty look.



Anyways, I put them all to good use.



A very home-grown fried rice, teamed with my father-in-law's chives and free range eggs.

Oh, you've gotta love SPAM in fried rice! Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Picnic


We have been home-bound due to the heat-wave.

Lachie insisted we have a picnic.

Indoors.
In his tent.
Drenched in sweat!



His new favourite thing, a gift from his godmom. A picnic basket filled with 2 slices of toasts, ham, cheese, mushroom, tomato, lettuce, sunny side up, grapes, banana and watermelon. Too cute!



Yes, with Anthony!
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Ant Problem

It has been so hot that the ants are coming in in throngs, seeking solace in our cool, air-conditioned home.

We cleaned up completely every night and they still come back in the morning. I noticed they seem to be attracted to... water. Yes, water!

There will be a steady little army marching across the living room, or a great black seething mass congregating in one corner. It is quite disturbing! We have tried everything from cleaning up furiously, wiping, mopping, vacuuming every single crumb dropped from little fingers (not really) but to no avail. I have been avoiding using an insect spray in fear of little Lucas crawling all over the floor and licking up the poison. I think I will leave little bottle caps of water for them today.


Today 43 degrees Celsius. Yesterday 41. Next few days: 42 degrees, 36 degrees, 31 degrees. HOT!
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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Microwaved Kaya Recipe


I was blog hopping the other day and came across this Kaya Recipe. For those who don't know, Kaya, (comes from a Malay word which means "rich") is distinctively Malaysian. It is traditionally made by continuously stirring over gently boiling water in a double boiler until the custard becomes thick and golden brown (or green, depending on the level of caramelisation of the sugar). This could take sometimes up to a couple of hours!
I remember my mom, standing for hours by the stove, stirring the rich golden mixture with a wooden spoon. When it's done, the kaya is served as an accompaniment to her trademark glutinous rice or pulut tai tai. Yummmm...

When I saw how easy and quick this recipe was, I had to try it.

Ingredients:

Eggs
Sugar
Coconut Milk

The ratio is 1:1:1.

So, I used:

8 large whole eggs
400g white sugar
400ml canned coconut milk

4 screw pine or pandan leaves, knotted for flavouring.


Whisk eggs and sugar in a microwaveable bowl, large enough for all the ingredients to be combined. Add in the screw pine leaves. If you don't have this, you can also use natural vanilla essence.


Method:

Zap eggs and sugar in the microwave oven for 2 minutes.
Remove. Stir.

Repeat twice.

Add in coconut milk. Stir to combine.

Repeat the above steps, carefully stirring in between zaps. The mixture can become VERY bubbly hot so be careful when stirring.

I continue to cook the custard in the microwave oven for a further 6 minutes, stirring every 1 minute until the mixture is thick and creamy, or a desired consistency.

Total cooking time: 18 minutes.

Makes two 500ml jars.


See how easy it is?

Verdict: Just a little tad too sweet. I will use half the amount of sugar next time, and maybe try using brown sugar instead. Overall, great! Just like mom's, minus the hassle. (Or what I would like to believe anyways!)


Kaya toast... delicious!

Thanks Grace!
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Chinese New Year 2009


I remember Chinese New Year as a little girl growing up in my family home.

There would be hustle and bustle in every nook and corner of the house. The house would have been spic and span from the cleaning the days prior and we'd ALWAYS put on new pyjamas on the eve of CNY. We would be laughing and playing chinese cards with my grandmother, coins tinkering as we gambled the night into dawn.

As the 15 days of the new year followed on, there would be MORE gambling, lots of eating, visiting family and friends and MORE eating!


RED for luck

This year, we had a HUGE reunion dinner with my husband's family. It was a chinese banquet of 9 dishes signifying wealth and prosperity. The meal was scrumptious as always. There were so much merry-making. It was so much fun! I had totally forgotten my camera as we sat down for dinner.


New Year's Day


Traditionally, my mom would make longevity noodles in chicken broth, topped with red eggs for good luck.

We invited a few good friends over for my version of lucky noodles: Spicy Taiwanese Beef Noodles.

They came bearing gifts, a huge RED hamper of peanut cookies, oranges, pomelo, pineapple, lovely dark chocolate, bottles of wine, all signifying luck and prosperity. As usual, the boys were spoilt silly with more presents, a wonderful picnic basket FULL of goodies, gardening tools, a cuddly teddy for baby and an ingenius bib! Thank you so much for your lovely, thoughtful gifts.

It was a wonderful start to the week.

This year, by coincidence, the first day of CNY also falls on my mother's birthday. We called her on the phone and Lachie sang her a birthday song. Happy Birthday my dear mother! Sending you hugs and kisses and wishing you a healthy and happy year.
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Getting Sleep

Last night, I had the bestest sleep...ever. I closed my eyes for two seconds in the spare bed next to Lachie's and drifted into lalaland. At midnight, I crawled into my own bed. I did not remember my hubby coming in or hear a single whimper coming from the baby, or when my 2.8 year old crawled into bed next to me. This morning I woke up feeling refreshed, reenergized, my head brimming with ideas.


I could not remember the last time before last night, I had slept THROUGH the night! Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Easy Origami for Chinese New Year











In the spirit of Chinese New Year, in conjunction with the year of the Ox, we made these cards with little messages for family and friends. They're Ox messengers of happiness, good health, good luck and good fortune! Lachie calls them his moo-moo family.
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Friday, 23 January 2009

Nuffnang Bloggers Meet Up - Canary Club, Melbourne

Last night, I attended a bloggers meet-up at the Canary Club here in Melbourne. It was a casual event, sponsored by Nuffnang Australia aiming at getting bloggers together and getting to know Nuffnang. I had the honour of meeting Ming, the co-founder of Nuffnang Asia Pacific and Dave from Nuffnang Australia. Through this event, I also met some lovely girls, (the other) Grace and her sister Alethea, Sherry and Kriz. They are such easygoing and down-to-earth people, it was easy to get comfortable with them on the couch!

Ming, Kriz, Sherry, Alethea, Grace who is glowing, Grace who looks intoxicated after 1/2 glass of wine, my dear friend Laura.


This was my very first bloggers meet and I was excited about it. It's funny how you meet someone for the very first time and feel like you've known them like forever... because you've been stalking their blog! (Like I'm sure we're all BEST MATES with Karen Cheng!

Nuffnang is the first and possibly the largest blog advertising company in Asia Pacific, with over 60,000 members from Malaysia, Singapore and more recently the Phillipines and now Australia. They're the ones who let me win my Dell Inspiron Mini 9, and of course I have to love them (hehe). Sign up to Nuffnang and spread the good word.

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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Lucas' Shenanigans



















  • Zero - 2 metres in 10 seconds, commando style.

  • Sits upright, unsupported for as long as he wants to.

  • Picks up playdough raisin with his pincers and eats it!

  • Loves to chew on anything paper/cardboard including party invitations, instruction manuals, flashcards etc.

  • Says "Mom, may I have some fish and chips please". Kidding.

  • Says "Dadadadadadadadada....." non-specific.

  • Makes a funny face back at you when you flash him one.

  • Knows how to open and shut his fists when prompted.

  • Loves to laugh at his ko-ko Lachie when he does something funny or sings a jolly song.

  • Knows how to yell/cry out BEFORE being stomped on/bitten/hit on the head by you-know-who.

  • Able to put up a fight when scuffling for a toy with ko-ko.

  • Steals your heart even without you knowing it!
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    Ordering Pizza

    Hello Pizza Planet?

    Can I have a hot and spicy pizza, no olives. Can I have a macaroni pizza with cheese.

    See you later. Bye.

    O.o

    That was Lachie, pretending to be on the phone with Pizza Planet!

    That's like the Pizza place from Toy Story. Macaroni Pizza with cheese??? Where did that one come from? Best Blogger Tips

    Tuesday, 20 January 2009

    Cailler


    This is Cailler. She's our attention deprived, hyperactive Chocolate Labrador Retriever. This year in February she will turn 5 years old.

    Cailler was named after Fran├žois-Louis Cailler, the first Swiss producer of chocolate. Cailler is also the Swiss version of Cadbury chocolates.

    A little less than 5 years ago, Gary and I went GROCERY shopping. We came back with NO groceries, but a little cuddly puppy dog with big paws, floppy ears and a big heart. She loves people. In fact, I think she'll make a wonderful guard dog not because she's vicious, but because she greets everyone with a boisterous leap. She would lick any unwelcomed guests to death! But that wasn't the reason why we got her.

    When I saw Cailler in the window, her puppy eyes just pleaded for us to take her home. The first few years with Cailler wasn't easy. She has wrecked havoc in our tiny garden, took chomps out of my cabbage patch, pulled out the entire sprinkler system, destroying water features, costing us hundreds if not thousands!

    She went to puppy school. That taught her the basics. Then came the obedient school. Just the car ride to school is enough to deter us taking her to more classes. If you've read John Grogan's Marley & Me, she's the Marley and Gary's the Me. The best moment shared with her was after she was chipped and spayed, still groggy from the anaesthetics. That was the only time she laid still, chin on our toes.

    Yesterday, Cailler had a bath and a groom. If she'd brushed past you wearing a white or light coloured pair of pants before her wash, she would've left a chocolate patch. Her old coat, unbrushed, she had patches of matted hair. Poor Cailles! Anyways, the good lady Carol from HydroDog, a mobile dog wash service gave her a good wash. She was brushed, shampooed, scrubbed, groomed, deodorized, brushed again. Her nails were trimmed. Her eyes and ears were gently washed. She even had a doggy treat after the wash. She is a whole new dog! Her coat shone, her eyes sparkled and she smells nice. She even had a nice little sway when she walks past, somewhat lady-like!

    If you ever need a mobile dog wash service, I would highly recommend Carol. That is if you're in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Call 1300 659 055 or leave your details on their website.

    Cost: $38. That's money well spent!
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    Sunday, 18 January 2009

    My Babies in the Garden





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    Quick 'n Easy: Spiced Lamb Pilaf

    I had some leftover lamb chops from a recent barbecue I knew we'd not just reheat and eat. So I trimmed off all the fat and bones and chopped them up into cubes. This recipe was just made up today, and it tastes pretty good so I thought I'd share it with you.

    Spiced Lamb Rice Pilaf



    2 cups rice, washed
    4 leftover lamb chops, trimmed and cubed
    1 brown onion, chopped finely
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1 tablespoon ground fennel
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 handful of oregano leaves (from the garden), chopped
    1 cup frozen peas
    1 can 4 bean mix
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    salt & pepper to taste

    Wash and rinse rice and cook in a rice cooker.

    Heat a dash of olive oil in a fry pan. Saute garlic and onion until tender and fragrant. Add in oregano, lamb and spices.

    When the rice is almost cooked in the rice cooker, stir in peas (zapped in microwave oven for 2 minutes), beans and lamb mixture. Season to taste. Cook in rice cooker for a further 5 minutes.

    Serve with chopped coriander or a handful of salad leaves if preferred.

    Serves 4.

    Preparation time: 10 minutes.

    Cooking time: 40 minutes. (Really, it's just the time it takes to cook the rice in the rice cooker. The better part is spent twiddling your thumb!)
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    Saturday, 17 January 2009

    A date with Delta Goodrem

    My husband took me out on a surprise date last night. Usually I'm quite sharp at guessing what he has got up his sleeves because he is JUST so predictable! But last night, he almost got me believing that we're going to watch the cricket! Goodness, I was going to deck myself in green and gold!

    Anyways, we got ready and left the boys with his mom. Got to the city, I was still guessing... What are we doing? We walked down town, hand in hand giggling like teenagers in love. I was twinkling with excitement... all the while guessing. Is it NOT the cricket? Is it Billy Elliot the musical? Is it Australian Open? (doesn't start till 19th of January) Is it...??


    We grabbed a quick bite at Arintji (Aboriginal for Orange) Cafe and Bar at Federation Square. We had half a dozen freshly shucked oysters with cucumber, Atlantic Salmon roe and cream fraiche dressing and carpacio of octopus and cod croquet.



    Somehow we ended up at Hamer Hall at the Melbourne Art Centre. But of course, it has GOT to be DELTA GOODREM'S concert!


    *heart* I want my name in bling bling on my baby grand too!


    Brian McFadden came on the show first and he looks so delicious I want to eat him! I asked Gary if he'd mind me taking Brian to bed, and of course he could take Delta. He said no! Hummph!! So anyways, did I mention how delectable he was??



    Delta Delta Delta. She is one amazing woman. She has so much talent. Not only does she write her own songs, she designed her costumes. Her fingers glide over the black and white keys effortlessly, her voice is pure magic and she's gorgeous! She is a natural on stage, funny, witty and charming too. Must say she has come a long way since Neighbours!



    Well, if Gary doesn't want her, I'll take her.


    She can shake her bootie alright.

    The seats Gary got couldn't get any better. We were 7 rows from the stage, I could almost reach out to Brian Delta. Just as we sat down, I felt a couple of guys brush past and guess who? It was Anthony Callea and Tim Campbell just one row behind us, a couple of seats down. What's more, Delta's dad was sitting right behind us! Whooaa... talking about a brush with celebrities, literally!


    When I grow up I want to be just like Delta...

    I had an amazing night with my husband. He sure knows how to push the right buttons! :)
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    Friday, 16 January 2009

    Say Goodbye Time

    Three weeks went by so quickly.

    Just three weeks ago, my brother and his girlfriend came for a holiday. They stayed with us. These past few days have been the most happy, relaxed and enjoyable. They came on boxing day. We celebrated my brother's birthday. We counted down to the new year. They went to Tasmania. They got engaged. We shopped, shopped and shopped. We ate, ate and ate. We laughed, oh how we did! We stayed up late, just chit-chatting over glasses of wine.

    We have been spoilt, we've been pampered. We took advantage of the nappy change service, more than once. We are truly truly honoured to have such lovely company for the last three weeks.
    Getting to know my future sister-in-law was just too easy. It was as if we've known each other for a long time. In fact, C and Gary, they're like long-lost twins! Both so similar in their taste for food and beer, their OCD-ness organisation skills in stacking up the dishwasher is so scary and oh their love for a good drop of wine! C compliments my brother in so many ways, just like how Gary completes me. The kids love them to bits!

    Now is the time to say our goodbyes. We hope you have enjoyed your holidays. Aunty Ching Mei and Ku Ku, we miss you already! See you in a couple of months...
    XOXOXOX
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    Wednesday, 14 January 2009

    Dandenong Ranges

    One of my new year's resolution this year is to get active with the boys.



    Just a few years ago, during our pre-wedding, pre-parenting days, Gary and I used to do the 1000 steps at the Dandenong Ranges National Park. It's just a mere 15 minutes drive. Oh, how I used to love this hike which is also called the Kokoda Track. It commemorates the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea that honours the Australian men and women who fought in the World War II. The 1000 steps are part of the walk, although I think there are currently only about 800 steps left. Along the way, there are 13 replica plaques that tell the story of the battle at the Kokoda Trail.



    The track is moderately steep. Tree ferns, gum trees and blackwood are plentiful. A round trip is about 3km and takes roughly an hour. Our fastest time clocked was about 40 minutes although with my current fitness, I'd be laughing if I could get to the BASE of the steps in 40 minutes!

    It's great to be so close to nature, a little getaway from the hustle and bustle and yet only 15 minutes from home. Unfortunately (or fortunately) nowadays whenever we go to this park, it was for a picnic or a sausage sizzle and a play at the foot of the hill.


    Yesterday, I took the boys to the park. We didn't do the 1000 steps, but we did a short nature walk. I had Lucas in the BabyBjorn. There are a number of tracks at the national park, some are quite easy. Lachie enjoyed the walk although he needed a little coaxing at first to distract him from the playground. We did the Living Bush Nature Walk with a slight detour and not the entire track. It took us about 30 minutes for a 500m walk but we did stop MANY times to look at rocks, insects, gum leaves, gum nuts, flowers etc.

    I hope for this to be a weekly occurrence, and hopefully sometime soon, we'd be able to count 1000 steps! (I don't know how much longer I can carry Lucas in the sling though, he's getting heavy!)



    The Dandenong Ranges National Park is located in the Eastern outskirts of Melbourne. It is roughly 40km from the city, driving east on the Eastern Freeway and down Burwood Highway into Upper Ferntree Gully.

    Melway Reference: 75 C4. Best Blogger Tips