Friday, 19 February 2010

Chinese New Year in Chinatown

I never would have thought that Chinese New Year is celebrated in such a grand scale here in Melbourne. A couple of years ago, we brought little Lachlan to the city to watch the Lion and Dragon Dance procession on Little Burke Street. I was pregnant with Lucas and was in awe.

In Malaysia, we celebrate the new year with family and friends. We stayed indoors. We ate cookies and mandarin oranges. We gambled our red packet money away. The streets are usually quiet. All the shops closed. The streets empty, which is really really weird in an Asian country! No traffic jam!

But here in Melbourne, we walked along Little Burke Street shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other Melbournians. The streets are packed with people from all walks of life, Lion Dances accompanied by the gongs of drums and cymbals and the deafening sounds of firecrackers. What an auspicious cheer!

So this year, on the first day of Chinese New Year, we brought the two boys (and me pregnant AGAIN!) to the city. We took the train which made it an extra special experience for the boys. They loved the train ride!

They watched the procession in awe. I think they were a little bit stunned by the massive throng of people. They just watched in silence, and then covered their ears when the firecrackers blast away. We stayed for a couple of hours, and Lachlan finally asked if we could go home.

He couldn't wait till the next day, so he could tell his teacher and friends at kinder about his experiences. And up till today, the boys are still playing tickets and trains, pretending to be ticket inspectors. I think they were more thrilled with the train ride.

Anyways, here's a clip of the Dragon Dance taken with my little Canon Ixus 80IS.

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A Valentine Breakfast - Orange and Date Scones

I made these scones on Valentine's morning for my boys. I know it's a little bit cheesy, and I'm not normally the mushy type, but they slept in really late and so I made them a special Valentine's Day breakfast. Nope, not the in bed kind!

I was planning to make little heart shape scones *shudder*, but I couldn't find my heart shaped cookie cutter (which I later found in the play dough box).

The recipe was adapted from one of the Masterclass episodes of MasterChef 2009, with some minor adjustments. I used orange rind instead of lemon, and also substituted the cream with natural yoghurt. It worked out really well!

Orange and Date Scones recipe:

150ml milk
150ml natural yoghurt
1 egg
3 cups self-raising flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 cup chopped, dried dates
Finely grated rind of 2 oranges
Cream & jam, to serve

1. Preheat oven 200°C fan forced. Line large flat oven tray with baking paper.
2. Whisk 150ml milk, yoghurt and egg together until well combined. Combine flour, sugar, dates and orange rind in a large bowl. Add milk mixture and stir gently to a soft dough, adding more milk if necessary. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together.
3. Press dough out to 2cm-thick. Cut scones from dough and place onto tray flat-side up. Press dough together gently and repeat using the remaining dough. Brush the tops with a little milk. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen.

Serve with a dollop of fresh cream and jam, or just how I like it: a little slather of butter.

They are so easy and takes only 10 minutes to throw together. It doesn't take much of an effort to make a special breakfast for the family and who doesn't like waking up to the aroma of freshly baked scones? Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 15 February 2010

A Happy Reunion

Here's wishing all my dear friends and family, chinese readers from near and afar a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year! May the year of the Tiger bring in to you and your family good health, good luck and prosperity.

On the eve of Chinese New Year, that is the 13th of February, we had a reunion dinner with Gary's family: his mum and dad cooked up a big feast as usual, Gary's younger brother Guaran and his wife Chai who's heavily pregnant ready to pop at any moment (by the way, baby tiger cub is on its way out to this world... more of that later!), my brother Mark and his family, my uncle from Perth who was visiting and my paternal grandmother. We are so lucky this year to have my grandma ushering in the new year with us!

On the menu: Steamed rice, roast pork with crispy crackling, lotus root, dried oysters and mushrooms in oyster sauce, pan fried prawns with ginger and shallots, roast chicken, asian greens, chicken in batter with sweet and sour sauce (ahhh... one for the kids!), spicy ma po tofu with pickled mustard green, and my mother in law's special soup of fish maw, sea slugs, herbs among other things (that I won't list) that tastes oh-so-good!

Mmmm... oh what a lucky bunch we are! Hope you all had a lovely reunion dinner with your loved ones too. And oh, Happy Valentine's Day! And a Happy Wedding Anniversary to my dear mum and dad! Best Blogger Tips

Coconut, Choc Chip, Pecan and Oatmeal Biscuits

I love cafe style biscuits that are big, chunky and generous. Delicious to dunk in a steamy cup of coffee or even cold milk! I was yearning just that this morning, and thought I'd whip up a batch of biccies with whatever I have in my pantry. I made the recipe up as I went along, finishing up leftover packets of chocolate bits, nuts, oats etc. In the end there was just SO much stuff in it, I had to add a little more golden syrup to bind it all together.

Here's the recipe:

200g butter, melted
3 tbsp golden syrup (plus roughly 1 more)
2 egg yolks (they were leftover from my baking the day before, you can use 1 whole egg if you wish)
2 cups plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup choc bits
1/2 cup pecan nuts
1 cup brown sugar

Place butter and golden syrup in the microwave oven and zap for a minute or so until butter is melted. Cool slightly.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the middle. Pour in butter, golden syrup and eggs and mix with a flat bladed spatula until combined. Drizzle a little more golden syrup if the cookie mixture is not holding together.

Roll into balls, mine are the size of golf balls, and then flatten slightly. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celcius for 15 minutes. Makes 24 giant size biccies. Oh make sure you space them out on your tray so they don't stick together.

These giant cookies are surprisingly very very yummy. Mmmm.... love the caramel, coco-nutty, oaty flavour with little burst of chocolate. The sweetness is just right, and the size is perfect. Just have 1 though, not 3 (if you can resist!) and it's just the right size for lunch boxes too. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Friday, 5 February 2010

A New Term

First day back at kinder today, and I forgot to stick my SD card back into my camera after blogging the night before.

So Lachy puts on his favourite Ben 10 T-Shirt (for 5 days in a row now!) and piggy-backs his new Ben 10 backpack. He brushed his teeth twice as long in the morning, and I made sure there were no vegemite left on his face.

What's different this year? I had to pack not one, but 2 bags, 2 snack boxes, 2 water bottles, 2 hats, 2 everything. Lucas got dropped off at grandma's this morning for babysitting duties, only because they stayed over at Gary's brother's place. (Grandma/pa lives in Geelong and comes for a visit once a week). Lucas insisted he MUST have his bag packed too. He got Lachie's hand-me-down spiderman bag, spiderman T-Shirt and spiderman (not-so) cuddly.

So 2 superheros set off for their adventure this morning. There were no tears, only excited chatter and happy smiles. Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, 4 February 2010


Since returning from our very long holiday, I have been preoccupied with boring house-keeping stuff, getting the house back in order, the dust of the shelves, the boys back in their routine and turning into a scary mum-zilla. Why is it that the chores seem never-ever-ending? There's constantly things to be picked up, toys to be packed away, laundry to be done, mouths to be fed... and little people (boys, in particular ONE very cheeky toddler, are we mentioning any names here?) getting into misfits and making me very VERY annoyed, angry and basically turning me into that ugly monster of a mom!


*Takes deep breath*

So anyways, this morning, as I was yelling away at Lucas to get out from behind the TV before he gets zapped, and Lachlan to not touch my furnitures with vegemite fingers, only to get mischievious grins in return or be completely ignored. Toys were strewn everywhere. Ben 10 blasting on TV. That was it! Enough already...

What's happening here? Am I getting holiday withdrawal syndrome? For 6 weeks, we had somebody cleaning up our mess, doing our laundry, cooking our meals. Bliss! But I was more than happy to come home, call me nuts but I actually like doing my own laundry. But now I feel like I'm the house maid! Gaaaaahhh....

*More deep breaths*

So I figured, stuff it! Let's be messy, dirty, lazy. Let's eat pizza's tonight, or KFC I don't care. There were warnings that mum-zilla might turn into one of those ugly, angry aliens from Ben 10 if he doesn't get off the TV. So we stirred up a batch of playdough. Stick the boys on the kitchen bench. And had my 10 minutes of calm, before the storm starts all over again.

Pushing, shoving, snatching, not sharing, biting, hitting, screaming, crying ............................

Hard to imagine such cuteness can wreck so much havoc in a home!

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There's a new kind of superhero in town. He's called...undie-man.

Yep, that's right ladies and gentlemen, that's Lucas wearing an underwear... on his head! Best Blogger Tips

Monday, 1 February 2010

Home Improvement

We had a rather productive and satisfying weekend, working on a little project that has been on our to-do-list for a while now. Our front garden! Well, a tiny bit of our front garden anyways. The rest of it is still a barren, weedy, dusty, impoverished chunk of land! Sigh...

Anyways, we started work on a small triangular spot just right next to the entrance to our house. We leveled the land, emptying almost 6 wheel barrow loads of top soil onto our backyard (another small vege patch, yay!), and then realised all that's left was disgustingly hard clay soil. We wanted this garden to be as low maintenance as possible, so I've chosen a few hardy plants. I surely hope they're as hardy as promised on its label. "Thrives on neglect": I just love the sound of that! Haha!

On the back, Cordyline "Red Sensation", and a few scattered patches of Acacia Cognata "Limelight". We then laid a weed mat over the rest of the soil, scattered blocks of stepping stones and 2 logs of wood I found sitting in the garage and filled the rest of the space up with polished river stones and white crushed marble.

And we adopted this little fella. Her name is Elly the Elephant. So says Lachy.

One little step at a time, let's hope we get this project done by the end of summer. Best Blogger Tips