Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Holiday Diary: Day 16 Busy Time

We have been very very busy preparing for the big weekend. My brother is getting married! How exciting!

Just before we came back to Malaysia, my parents did a major renovation to the house. The workmen are still coming in everyday to put in their finishing touches, from electricians to painters, and plumbers. There are fixings to be put up, curtains to be hung.

The kitchen is buzzing. It has transformed into a mini commercial kitchen producing tons and tons of food. The oven is on overdrive. Preparation is in full swing!

Stay tuned... Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Holiday Diary: Week 2 Sick

The boys were struck by a horrible gastroenteritis. It's been 4 or 5 days but it felt like an eternity. They had bouts and bouts of watery diarrhoea, really, I have become a professional bum washer by now. Poor boys. Poor me.

It started with Lachy. It must have been something he ate. For 3 days he was really really ill, complaining of a sore tummy that comes in waves, just before an explosive poo action. (Sorry for being so graphic!) He had fevers, and was clammy and very very grumpy. Thank goodness I was still able to push some fluids in, else I don't know where we'll land! Lucas had it a day later, a little less severe but still the worst he's ever had. They lost their shine, their bubbly-ness and their usual self.

Now they're better, not yet 100%. But at least they've got their groove back. Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Holiday Diary: Day 9 Missing Home

Lucas wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and cries "Go..."


We miss you our dear Dadda.

We hope you're looking after yourself.

Only 1 more week till we see you again...

Psst... there are packets of new underwear in the walk in wardrobe, if you haven't done laundry for the past 9 days! :)

Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 14 December 2009

Holiday Diary: Day 6 Gift Exchange

Over the weekend, my family joined Ching Mei's family at their house for the traditional pre-matrimonal gift exchange ceremony, also called "sung jit". Sung jit, a hokkien term loosely translates to "giving day" differs quite a bit from family to family, but basically from what I've been told, it's giving of dowry and all things sweet and nice to the bride's family. Nowadays, it's mainly symbolic, and it is meant to give everything a new couple would need in their new life together.

So, off we went to her parents' home bearing sweet oranges, sweet sticky rice cakes, sweet biscuits, sugar coated persimmons and winter melon, red dates, a whole roast suckling pig, bottles of whiskey or brandy and dowry money. Ching Mei's grandfather prayed to the gods and ancestors, and after that we just mingled with the family, drank sweet packet drinks and crispy pork buns. We then adjourned to a Chinese Restaurant for lunch. What an affair, but only a warm-up for what's in store for us in a couple of weeks time!

It was such a colourful event. I'm sure everything given and received is meaningful, a symbol of love, luck and richness in life for the bride and groom.
Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Summer Garden

This year, our summer vegetable patch has been left fallow except for 3 zucchini plants that I pray will survive the summer heat. With us away, there'll only be Cailler (our chocolate Labrador) left to tend the garden and knowing how hot it gets in summer, it might not survive. The plants I mean.

Meanwhile, Cailler will still get some daily TLC from our trusty neighbour and my brother-in-law. Let's hope someone feels sorry for the zucchini plants and water them! I hope for some big, fat, juicy zucchinis when we get back.

So, with not much gardening to do, this is what I've been tending to instead: My farmville! Gaaahh... can you imagine how much time I've wasted on this? Ploughing, sowing, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting and building farmhouses, tending to animals...etc. Don't you laugh! You will get addicted too once you start.

Best Blogger Tips

Friday, 11 December 2009

Holiday Diary: Day 4 Splish Splash

It's been pouring down rain every afternoon here in Kota Kemuning. The playgrounds are always wet in the late afternoon when it's not too hot to go for walks. That is one thing that the boys look forward to. Forget the slides and the swings, jumping in big puddles of water is much more fun!

We have been doing not much at all but just relaxing at home, walks to the parks in the evenings and really, nothing at all. That's what holidays are all about isn't it?

Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, 10 December 2009

We heart hand-me-downs

We have been very lucky. The boys wear pyjamas that has been worn in, but in great quality. They're so soft and comfortable, and they smelt like love. They wear clothes that looked somewhat familiar, like they've been seen on someone else before. There're jeans with banged up knees that has been patched, that's oh-so-cute! Or shirts with so much character and a little bolognaise stain on its collar. And once a month or so, they get bags and bags of toys, scouring, exploring and rummaging through them like treasures! It's like christmas day, every time!

Oh we feel so loved.

:) Thank you. Best Blogger Tips

Holiday Diary: Day 3 Gone Bananas!

One of the luxuries of being home in Malaysia is the abundance of locally grown, tropical fruits. The boys have been enjoying these, especially the different varieties of sweet, plump bananas.
Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas Art

In a trivia night this year, I won a pack of customised greeting cards from Art By Kids. Basically, it's just a blank card where you can draw or create a card however you like. And they will print it out for you.

So I thought we'd make something christmassy to send out to our family and friends.

The drawing scribbling above is a joint effort between Lachlan, Lucas and I.

There's one coming your way, or otherwise, here it is for your viewing pleasure. Well, you can tell the boys aren't the picasso type!

Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Holiday Diary: Day 1 Kota Kemuning Hills

We arrived this morning after an 8 hour flight from Melbourne to KL. It was a sleepless night with the two boys taking turns waking up and waking everyone else around us. Poor kids, they were out of their comfort zone. Lachlan slept poorly on an upright non-reclining seat, while Lucas have outgrown his infant seat and shamelessly hung his feet outside of the bassinet.

Typically, we arrived sweaty and groggy and headed straight to mamak! We had our first pig out. Nasi Lemak sotong, Roti Canai, Mamak Mee Goreng, Teh Tarik etc.

After a late morning nap, the boys headed straight outdoors for water play! They were drenched, hosing each other down and playing with their water guns. We are such water-deprived Melbournians!

It's thundering down with rain now.

Photos soon...
Best Blogger Tips

I'm no Cinderella

I'm about to let you in on my not-so well kept secret! I have gigantor feet, to put it mildly. Alright, so everyone in my family already knows it and friends close to me.

My mom bought me my first pair of heels when I was twelve. It was probably only half an inch high, but already a whopping size 8. This was when I was 12! Barely post-pubertal and still growing! Gaaahhh...

So over the years, my feet grew... and it grew, thankfully only 2 more sizes larger to a size 10. In my teenage years, I remember how hard it was to buy shoes my size, especially in an Asian country. Most shops only stock up to a size 8. So I strutted in my nike, probably made for boys. Thank goodness in those days, all I needed to do was go to school. But as you can imagine, when a certain special occasion calls for dressing up and nice not-too-chunky shoes, it can certainly spark a shoe shopping frenzy which almost always end up in tears.

Anyways, that was history. When I landed in the land down under, I was in shoe haven! Aaahhhh.... sizes, sizes, sizes! Wooo hoooo! I bought my first pair of 3 and a half inch disco shoes, it was glittery silver. And in the 7 years of my uni life, I collected up to 25 pairs of shoes! (Oops, are you reading this dad?) It only escalated when I started working, with my own money to spend.

Now, here comes the clincher. I am 19 weeks pregnant. And already my feet have blown a size up. I know that in NO way, I will be able to find a pair of nice heels for my brother's wedding in Malaysia. So out I went shopping, looking for my perfect pair of glass slippers. And guess what? Most shops in Australia stock shoes only up to a size 10! HORROR!! It came to a point when I walk into a shoe shop, I ask the attendant, do you stock ANY shoes in a size 11! Just pick a box that says size 11! In any style or any colour!

Guess what? I found it. My perfect pair of glass slippers. I heart BETTS shoes.

I think I'm here to stay Australia, thank you very much.

Photo credit: Shown above, PLATINUM in silver, size 11. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 7 December 2009

Out of Office

We'll be leaving tonight. The kids and I, we're heading to Kuala Lumpur for a much anticipated 6 week holiday. Gary, the photobook santa is stuck in the office until christmas eve. :(

I will still be blogging, when I find a comfortable spot to upload photos and type. :) So stay tuned! Meanwhile, do check out some of the pre-written post that I have prepared earlier. It will automatically "pop up" on schedule.

Till then, tata! Wishing all of you a happy silly season and a blessed new years.

Photo: Taken in December last year, on our way to Canberra.
Best Blogger Tips

Lego Creations

This year, we got our christmas presents early. Not too many (thank god!), we weren't going to celebrate. But you can trust a few of our worthy family to pull up stunts like giving the boys more toys a few weeks before christmas.

One that stands out, Lachy's absolute favourite, one that he hasn't parted with since, was his brand new Lego set. For hours to end, he sits next to his box of Lego, creating. Houses, cars, trucks, space ships, rocket ships, speed boat, light house, even machine guns (gaaahh, how does he know guns?) and swords! He takes them all to bed, and guess what? We'll be taking them on a holiday with us too.

Thank you also for the noisy drum sticks (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!), that one is staying behind though. Swim suits. T-shirts. Bags. Die cast James and Jack. Thomas bed clock. We love you!
Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Durian Chiffon Cake

On my brother's birthday last weekend, someone bought him a durian sponge cake. It was a simple sponge cake, with layers of fresh durian in between and covered with fresh whipped cream. I have been yearning for some more durian cake since!

So out of the blue, I have this silly idea. Well, I'm sure it's not that strange, it might be quite popular in some parts of the world. I made a chiffon cake, using durian essence for flavour. This recipe is adapted from one of our family favourites: The Pandan Chiffon Cake.

Durian Chiffon Cake

225g cake flour*, sifted
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
180g castor sugar

1 tsp durian essence
190ml coconut cream
125ml vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

9 egg whites
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
50g castor sugar, extra

* You can make your own cake flour (which is basically a low gluten flour) by using plain flour and substituting 25g with corn flour.


1. I have basically divided the ingredients into three parts: the dry, the wet and the egg whites. It is really easy to remember the recipe this way.

2. So all you have to do really is to sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle, and whisk in the egg yolks, coconut cream, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and pandan essence. Mix well until smooth and thoroughly combined. Set aside.

3. Using a mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add cream of tartar. Now beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Add in remaining 50g of castor sugar, one tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks occur.

4. Gently fold egg whites into the cake batter in a few additions until just blended. Pour mixture into a clean UNGREASED 25cm (large) angel cake tin. Bake in a moderately hot oven (170 degrees celcius) for about 1 hour.

5.Remove cake from the oven, and while still hot, turn the entire cake and tin upside down, balancing the central column on an empty jar. Leave to cool completely. This step is quite important as it ensures that the cake doesn't "sink". When it is cooled completely, release cake with a flat bladed knife and cut into slices.

Mmm... the same light and fluffy texture, with a hint of durian flavour. I liked it. For some, it's an acquired taste. Others might think it's a stinky piece of cake.

My husband for instance thought it was the smell emanating from the rubbish bin. What a load of rubbish!

Mmm... I heart durians.

Best Blogger Tips

Friday, 4 December 2009

Count Down

We are going on a summer holiday! No, not that song. But I did have that song by Cliff Richards humming in my head the whole morning! And I even know the lyrics to the entire song. Just shows how much of a karaoke queen I was in that era. Anyways, I digress.

Yep, we are going away this year. And I don't know why I am glad to do nothing christmassy this year. No christmas tree up. No scurrying in shopping centres, finding last minute gifts. No cooking and baking frenzy.

My head is buzzing. With only 4 more sleeps to go, there are tons to do! It has been a big big week, with swimming catch up lessons, doctor's appointments, gym membership to suspend, the usual household chores plus more, a few bits of loose ends to tie up. Gaahhh....

So yeah, this year we're heading to Malaysia. There is a special event in the family coming up, a BIG event. It's going to be HUGE! And we are super excited. The whole family (almost!) will be reunited, cousins, uncles, aunties from all over the world. (We have a great big family with 7 uncles and 2 aunts from dad's side and 8 aunts and 4 uncles from mom's, not to mention their own family). We are looking forward to it.

Everybody has a summer holiday
Doing things they always wanted to.
So we're going on a summer holiday
To make our dreams come true
For me and you.

Hmmmmmm, hmmmmmmm...
Hmmmmmm, hmmmmmmm... Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Nits and all things un-nice!

Just last week, Lachy came home from kinder with an important notice. There has been a lice outbreak in his class. Head lice that is. Gaahhh.... strangely enough, my own scalp had already started to itch!

They're tiny little wingless insects that breed and feed on human scalp. They move from head to head without discrimination, and do not carry or transmit disease. And you get it from direct contact, when you play together, cuddle etc. Lachy and ALL of us sleep on the same pillow if you remember his sleeping saga I wrote about not long ago.

So we had to hunt them down, if any.

Here's what the notice had to say:

Finding head lice

Half of the people who have head lice never scratch their head so itching is not a reliable sign. Lice can be hard to spot because they move quickly. The easiest and most effective way to find head lice is to follow these steps weekly:

Step 1 Comb hair conditioner on to dry, brushed (detangled) hair. This makes it difficult for lice to grip the hair or run around.

Step 2 Wipe the conditioner from the comb onto a paper towel or tissue.

Step 3
Look on the tissue and on the comb for lice and eggs.

Step 4
Repeat the combing for every part of the head at least four or five times.

Step 5
If the person has been treated recently and only hatched eggs are found, you may not have to treat them again since the eggs could be from the old infection.

Step 6
If lice or eggs are found, the person should be treated.

I read the steps over and over again.

Then out came dadda's good ol' clippers. What easier way could there be than to chop and look at the same time. Lachy was first to be on the barber's (mummy) seat, Lucas watching intently as his older brother's locks came falling off his head. 12mm. That was because we have a major event coming up, and we'll be in big trouble with the grandma's if they both ended up looking like shaolin monks for the big day.

Not a sign of a louse on the loose. Phew!

I kept a few wispy bit of fringe for Lucas. Just because. :) I am such a hoarder!

And you guessed it right, Lachy's mullet hasn't been touched either!

I wouldn't have a single clue what I'd do if I had girl(s) with long curly pigtails! Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

I was having a few friends over for an afternoon tea party one day, and already, I knew what I was baking that morning.

I stumbled upon this chocolate cake recipe from The Little Teochew (adapted from domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson) not too long ago, and was already immediately on my next (to bake) list. So not surprisingly, sour cream was on my shopping list on our next expedition out to the shops. The allure of simple, old fashioned chocolate cake was far too great, especially if you're a pregnant chocoholic.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Nigella's Feast


200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g best-quality cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

75g unsalted butter
175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line and butter one 23cm or two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.

3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor

4. and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

5. Spread into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes - 40 minutes.

6. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.

7. To make this icing, melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.
8. While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the icing sugar into the food processor and blitz. This is by far and away the least tedious way of removing lumps.

9. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel of the food processor on to the icing sugar, with the motor running.

The steps that I omitted:

10. When you’ve done, you may need to add a little boiling water – say a teaspoon or so – or indeed some more icing sugar: it depends on whether you need the icing to be runnier or thicker; or indeed it may be right as it is. It should be liquid enough to coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.

11. Choose your cake stand or plate and cut out four strips of baking parchment to form a square outline on it (this stops the icing running on to the plate). Then sit one of the cakes, uppermost (ie slightly domed) side down.

12. Spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly. Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich the two together.

13. Spoon another third of the icing on to the top of the cake and spread it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with the remaining icing and leave a few minutes till set, then carefully pull away the paper strips.

On my first attempt (oh yes, I've made this cake more than a handful of times since!) of making the chocolate ganache, I am shameful to admit that I did used up a mish mash of whatever leftover chocolate I have in the pantry: dark, milk and even white! To say the least, the outcome was a vicious, sweet, oh yes very VERY sweet chocolate icing. I had my guests almost in a sugar fit, if there's such a thing. But yes, we were very high from sugar. And because of that, I decided not to use too much of the icing sugar an hence a slightly runny icing. The glistening chocolate ganache slid onto the cake and like molten lava, dangerously flooded the entire cake plate.

We then mopped it up with more sugar! Lachy dotted the entire cake with marshmallows! The result: mind blowing sugar high!

Nevertheless, the cake was amazingly moist, the texture is soft and fluffy and the unadultered rich chocolate flavour was just to-die-for!

I baked it once again...

And again...

And this one is a double-layered smooth (almost!) frosted chocolate cake for my brother, my nephew and my niece's birthday. Happy Birthday three of you!

Oh yes, for the subsequent chocolate frosting, I used dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content, and substituted 50g of icing sugar with cocoa powder. Mmmmm...... I'm thinking of an excuse to bake it again. Cake anyone?

Best Blogger Tips