Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve

It's the last weekend of 2011 and much of the year has passed in a whirlwind of memories. This whole year was about learning, not just for Bubs but also for the both of us as parents. It's been a year chockfull of milestones, emotions and memories for our little family, from  feeding him his very first spoonful of solids (avocado), hearing his first word (Dada), watching him toddle about uncertainly on his chubby little legs.

Watching Bubs grow from a newborn to an active and cheeky toddler has been so rewarding that I don't regret putting my career on the back burner at all. In the middle of the year, I made a job change that meant a slow and long climb up the corporate ladder, but it also translated into a more flexible working arrangement and more time with Bubs.

I've to admit it has been really frustrating but at the same time, it has made me grow. I learn alongside with Bubs. That sometimes you need to fall down so you can pick yourself up. That after you cry in frustration, you move on and find the solution to your problem. And love shows itself in a multitude of ways. Hubs and I no longer buy each other expensive presents, we've cut down the number of "couple celebrations" that we have (try celebrating the anniversary of your first date together with a toddler demanding to be entertained 24x7).

Our ways of showing how much we love each other now is more subtle: soothing Bubs in the middle of the night so the other one gets much needed sleep, washing the dishes and hanging the clothes so the other gets a break, taking Bubs down for a walk so the other gets some me time, sponging a highly fevered brow when the person you love is ill in bed and can't move a muscle, biting back an angry retort and knowing when to back down in the heat of an argument so everyone gets to cool down.

Here's to an even more amazing 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Style Icon: Anjelica Huston

I've always thought of Anjelica Huston of an accomplished actress with striking looks and dramatic cheekbones and one half of Hollywood's power couple back in the 80s with Jack Nicholson. To be honest, I was surprised to find out that she had success earlier in the 60s and 70s as one of the most stylish beauty icon of the 60s and 70s. Her bold, unconventional features landed her on the covers of European Vogues back when she was a model. Look at how gorgeous these black and white photos of her are!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Christmas Feast

So what did you spooks get up to this Christmas? I hope you all had a whale of a time eating, drinking and being merry. We went back to one of my favourite places again, the E&O for lunch. They've moved the buffet area from the old Sarkies Corner to the new Sarkies at the Victory Annexe. At first I wasn't too keen about the idea of a new extension to E&O, that place is a legend, where else can you find a hotel in Penang that boasts of once having Rudyard Kipling as a guest? You don't mess with perfection, I tell you.

I'd to eat my words when I saw what they did with the new building. They managed to rig it up to look like an old fashioned colonial building (apart from the shiny newness of nearly everything there) but with lots of pretty stuff. Just look at this amazing arrangement of a small fir tree, Chinese vases, white painted cages that double up as teapot holders. And of course, again, another gorgeous Christmas tree. Be fooled not by its sparseness, it's a live tree, my favourite kind!

The food was amazing. Bubs however wasn't too impressed and spent the whole time there eating nothing but bread and fruit, I kid you not. He was insisted on wanting my ice cream so Hubs relented and gave him a few licks of it.

Merry Christmas, folks!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Xmas

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones, may this Yuletide be filled with joy and peace.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lunch at Healy Macs with Bing Bing Dessert

People, have I ever told you:
  • How much I love Xmas trees
  • E&O has the nicest Xmas trees
E&O properties manages Straits Quay, a small eating and shopping complex by the sea and if I'd said previously that the E&O hotel had a massive Xmas tree, then I take my words back: the tree at Straits Quay this year is breathtaking. The whole place was festively decorated.

Dad, Little Bro, Hubs, Bubs and I headed over to Healy Macs for the pork knuckles. The organic pork knuckles were supposed to be a small portion, based on the menu but people have told us that it was big enough to feed 2.

They weren't lying. Look at the size of that! I can't imagine how huge the larger portion would have been. It was a massive slab of pork knuckles roasted to perfection: soft and succulent on the inside with the meat falling off our forks, crispy and crackling on the outside. Served with a side dish of sauerkraut and roast potatoes, to call this filling would be an understatement.

Prices are a little on the steep side but it was so worth it. We're definitely heading there again and I'm trying to convince Hubs that we should order the large portion next time to share so there's more of that crispy skin to go around ... om nom nommmm ... 

Though I'm not called the human goldfish for nothing! I insisted on dessert at Bing Bing Taiwanese Dessert House straight after that. The place was cheerfully decorated - check out the rainbow stripes splashed from the wall to the floor. There's a small separated area at the side where small tables the height of Bubs and piles of cushions are available for you to lounge around. Bubs had a blast walking around the area, busying himself with arranging the cushions (he thought they looked better heaped onto the table as seen above).

After ordering, you're given a gold medal, I kid you not. Ours was taro. Again, Bubs was tickled pink with this.

We didn't have high expectations of the place at first as it looked like a faddish, teeny bopper kind of place but were pleasantly surprised when desserts came. They were a little too sweet for my liking but I guess you could ask them to reduce the sweetness of it.

Hubs had the mango ice blended which came with a scoop of ice cream and generous servings of pearl sago. Mine were glutinous rice balls, both plain and peanut filled, with red beans and candied winter melon strips in soya milk. The only thing I didn't like about it, and this is just me, was that it was served hot. I guess traditionally glutinous rice balls are served in piping hot syrup but I usually prefer my desserts cold. And in case you were wondering, Bubs didn't touch the spoons: they came already bent like that.

Where else but in Penang that you can have German pork knuckles in an Irish bar and Taiwanese dessert all under the same roof?

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Winter Solstice

One of the best part of December as a kid was helping Mum make "kuih ee" (glutinous rice ball) to celebrate the winter solstice. I'd beg and beg to be allowed to roll the colourful dough into tiny round balls and run gleefully to the kitchen with strict instructions from Mum to carefully wash my hands before touching the dough.

The sticky glutinous rice dough would be in small mounds on separate trays, usually in colours like red, yellow, green and white. The idea was to pinch off a small piece of the dough, roll them between floured palms into even, marble sized balls which would then be cooked in a basic sugar syrup flavoured with some pandan leaves.

Though as a kid, I would get bored of making them all even sized and would get creative with making a variety of sizes as large as possible, tiny ant sized ones and wriggly snake like shapes, hoping to escape Mum's scrutiny. She'd spot the abnormalities and exclaim "are you trying to choke someone with them?!"

Hub's grandpa passed away just a few weeks ago and his mum is still in mourning so she bought us ready made "kuih ee" from the market instead of making them. They're lovely with icy cold syrup, all chewy just like gummy bears.

Pictured below with teddy gifted from SL to Bubs - sorry, SL, he couldn't wait til Christmas to open his present!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Up, up and Away!

I've always been a huge fan of the movie Up and was thrilled to find out that National Geographic collaborated with scientists, engineers and balloon pilots to lift a 16 x 16 house up into the sky with 300 balloons. This blend between science and art was inspired by the Pixar film and the house managed to stay afloat for around an hour. 

I also loved these Up themed engagement and wedding photos on Wildflowers Photography, they're sooo whimsical and heart warmingly cute! In fact Pixar even sent the happy couple a surprise wedding gift.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Afternoon Tea at the E&O

The best cure for someone starved of girly, frivolous chats is to immediately book afternoon tea at the E&O with the glamorous, gorgeous Yen. I've always had a soft spot for the E&O.

You can say what you want about the E&O but one thing they do unfailingly year in, year out is to have the most decadently decorated Xmas trees ever. Check out this massive beauty in the main entrance

There's also a prettily lit up one near reception.

Afternoon tea is served at 1885, it's quite dark in there and there's an understated luxury about it. The plush carpets, the heavy furniture that looks like it's never been moved since the hotel started operations and the attentive staff hoovering about you ... It all adds up to the charm of afternoon tea there.

We chatted for hours.

And hours.

And nibbled. Why, daintily, of course. On trays and little dishes filled with miniature scones, tiny slivers of sandwiches, pretty little cakes and pastries. Not forgetting the pots of steaming loose leaf tea.

A beautiful place for afternoon tea, the best company a girl could have, I feel blissfully contented :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Initially ...

Ranging from quirky to elegant, how gorgeous are these initial necklaces?

From left to right:
Maya Brenner Letters
Gwen Delicious Silver Initial Typewriter Key Charm Necklace
Tiffany & Co Elsa Peretti Letter

Sunday, December 18, 2011

China House, Penang

China House at Beach Street, Penang, is sandwiched between bustling heritage shophouses which were still very much in business. From the first glance outside, it seems to be a quiet, unassuming cafe but take one step in and you'd gasp at how looooong it really is.

The building is cleverly built by linking together 3 pre-war houses together centered with a lovely indoor garden fashioned after what else but a Chinese style courtyard. It is filled with interesting little dining areas being eclectically different from the rest. Apparently there's even an art gallery housed upstairs.
If the concept of the white mahjong papered table with a small glass of colourful crayons at the side seems familiar to you, then you'd remember its previous incarnation as Kopi Cine at Stewart Lane. Every nook and cranny of the is intricately decorated with little knick knacks and a huge shelf by the side filled with books for diners to browse through. The main dining area (where the bar and desserts are) has a shabby chic feel to it.
There's a wide array of desserts and drinks if you're looking for something light to nibble on. China Houses even has its self made ice cream with intriguing flavours like salted caramel, condensed milk and gula melaka.

Whether it was packed full of customers, maybe they were understaffed, or possibly they were thinking of how to further decorate their cafe, I don't know but the service we received that day was appalling. Bubs and I sat at the table for 15 mins and no one bothered to bring over a menu. It could have gone much longer if Hubs didn't storm up to the bar and ask for a menu. The bartender reluctantly asked the waiter to bring some over. Again, we had to wait for someone to take our orders and request repeatedly for water which they keep forgetting to bring.
The pear and ginger cake was something different. The sweetness from the pear was balanced off by the warm, spicy tang of ginger. It was nice but nothing to shout about. The orange, strawberry and mango fruit frappe was refreshing on a hot day.

I can understand if they didn't expect a surge of customers all coming in at the same time, if the staff were new but what makes it even more memorable was that the owner herself was there, she could see that we were waiting for service and yet did nothing about it. No smile, no sorry to keep you waiting, no thank you, nada. Zilch. After that less than stellar experience, I wouldn't really go back there again. Unless I fancy being invisible again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Mummy Hangover

Bubs has been suffering from a cold, the poor mite has been sneezing, coughing and running a low grade fever. Needless to say, nights have been hell. He's extremely irritable and keeps waking up nearly hourly, demanding to be rocked back to sleep. The lack of sleep has resulted in me being irritable myself and groggy, this is what I dub as the mummy hangover.

The best cure for a mummy hangover would be either a combination or all of the below:

Bringing Bubs up close to see his 1st Christmas tree. Last Christmas, he was just 3 months old so this time around, he's fascinated with them. He loves the twinkling lights and will poke at the dangly ornaments though for some reason, he's scared of the prickly leaves. If you bring his hand up close to touch the leaves, he squeals and pulls it away.

Going for so-spicy-your-mouth-is-on-fire tom yum noodles. My favourite is at Eastern Wishes, remember to ask for Maggi noodles in your soup. The soup is out of this world: it's so sour and spicy, it'll get you going hangover? what hangover?

 You know what's better than tom yum noodles? Tom yum noodles with ice kacang! Eastern Wishes ice kacang comes with a couple of choc rippled ice cream, the perfect quencher for that tongue blistering tom yum.

And finally, to chase away the last vestige of the mummy hangover, finding live pine trees for sale at Cold Storage. Almost 99% of Xmas trees sold here are artificial so seeing live ones got me excited. They had the most marvelous woodsy, sharp scent about them and looked so lush and pretty when garlanded with bits of tinsel around them. Massive lurrve.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fashion Friday: Maternity Mama Chic-ness

When I was pregnant with Bubs, I was adamant that I wouldn't step into a single maternity clothes shop. Most of the ones I've seen seem to be stuck in the past: why do they think that every mama to be wants to be dressed in huge, tent like dresses with giant Peter Pan collars and drab pastel florals?

It was hard, I tell you, having to find clothes that fit my growing tummy, were comfy and stylish. The only maternity items I got were all from Topshop: a couple of dresses, some tops and the most important, versatile purchase: maternity leggings. The rest were all loose-ish shift dresses, empire waisted tunics and maxi dresses. I even managed to find a strapless mini dress (I wore it with leggings under, I know my limits) at Forever 21, which earned me a couple of curious stares by people wondering on on earth is a heavily pregnant woman doing shopping there.

Looking at all the maternity wardrobe choices available now, I'm tempted to tell Hubs to start trying for Bubs # 2 as soon as possible!

Hatch has the most complete collection of maternity clothing, or as they style it, for before, during and after pregnancy. The Everything Dress offers at least 15 ways of wearing it.

I'm a sucker for all fashion write ups about stylish women and pregnancy. Refinery 29 has a great article interviewing 5 women.

Asos and Topshop are my favourite places to scout for maternity wear, I'd so love to wear these:

ASOS Maternity Knitted Midi Dress in Stripe. This would be perfect for casual brunches, styled maybe with some gold flats and delicate accessories

Topshop Maternity Moss Crepe Dress. You can totally dress this up for a glam evening out, think: chunky jewelry, a smoky eye and a tiny clutch

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sukhothai Beef Noodles House: Penang

Hubs and I are crazy over beef noodle soup and it's so hard to the find the perfect one in Penang where there anre't many choices. So when a fellow beef noodle soup fanatic heartily recommended Sukhtothai, a new Thai beef noodles restaurant in Pulau Tikus, we were skeptical but decided to try our luck.

The way the beef noodles are served seems similar to Vietnamese style with a side basket of fresh beansprouts and Thai basil leaves, the only thing missing was a wedge of fresh lemon. After shredding the leaves and pouring in the bean sprouts into the piping hot soup, we greedily tucked into it.

People, I tell you, it was! The soup was rich, nicely flavored, noodles were perfect and there were generous helpings of beef. For an extra kick, try adding the chilli paste from the tiny little condiments tray. You can choose to have the beef soup with noodles or rice.

We also opted for the Thai style milk coffee which Hubs gave it an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up and dessert was durian sticky rice which to my surprise, was served warm along with black glutinous rice. It was really decadent and be warned, you'll definitely end up with a heavy belly with this!

Sukhothai Beef Noodles House: 04-2279262
238, Jalan Burmah, 10350 Georgetown, Penang
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