Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Getting Ready for Chinese New Year

A sneak peek into our Chinese New Year preparations.

We made mini treat boxes for Bub's teachers at school. It wasn't anything fancy, just filled with teeny tiny mandarins (they are so cute; I can't stop snacking on them) and chocolate treats. My pint sized volunteer was more interested in trying to sample the wares then do any actual packing. I dissuaded him by telling him that those were "spicy biscuits" ... which didn't quite work out well when the next day, he happily distributed the treat boxes to the teachers telling them they were "oranges and spicy biscuits". Let's hope the teacher didn't think I was trying to poison them!

Bubs scribbled Happy Chinese New Year on the side of the boxes before getting bored and drew dragons on them. For those that were asking, the treat boxes are a free pdf download from this cool blog.

Cutting out fish shaped cheese crackers using this fool proof recipe.

Channeled my inner Martha Stewart by making tissue paper flowers. Bubs had fun helping me pick dried tree branches. "Jump higher, Mummy!".

Ta-daaaa! I'm especially proud of Bub's glass jar, fire cracker and fingerprint painting that he made at school.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sunset Dinner at the Beach

Since it was a lovely, sunny day, Hubs suggested having dinner at Hao You (Good Friend) Seafood. The alfresco dining there was very basic and no frills with tables and chairs set up right on the sand itself, making it a very fun meal experience for Bubs.

Poking around on the beach while waiting for dinner to be cooked. There were bits and pieces of litter around the area so we kept our shoes on. As you got closer to the water, the sand was a lot cleaner and dotted with tiny seashells. I was lucky enough to find a whole spiral one to add to our shell collection. Bubs was freaked out by the waves and refused to go closer, earnestly telling me that "there are sea monsters in there, Mummy".

I was surprised at how good the chicken satay was; it's different in the sense that you don't get a separate dish of dipping sauce and the gravy is smothered over the tender chunks of meat. At RM1 a stick, I thought it was a little pricey but still a must have. I don't know what the real name of these spiky little sea slugs are, we've always called it as "iron nail shellfish" in Hokkien and it's my favourite when paired with sweet chilli sauce.

The last rays of the sun bathing everything in a golden glow coupled with the fresh, tangy sea breeze somehow made dinner tastes even better :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Five Things

Is everyone getting excited about the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays? I can't wait for a nice break again filled with cookies (bye bye waist line), red packets and loved ones. Here are a couple of things that made me smile during this week.

Mon cher Mariene came out to Penang and it's always such a special treat to see her. We caught up by doing what we do best: shopping and eating :D It was her first time at Gurney Paragon and she couldn't stop exclaiming at the shopping choices we now have in Penang.

Mariene is such an enabler! I usually come out of H&M empty handed because I get dizzy among the rows of clothes. This time with her, I found this blush coloured  sleeveless top with blooms stitched at the neckline. I was also auntie-fied enough to be secretly happy when I got these humongous H&M red packets wrappers. Seriously, these things are LARGE. I plan on filling one with a RM1 note and giving it to Baby Bro this year.

Look at the cool Harrods apron she gifted. I didn't even know that now ships to Malaysia. Bubs brightened up my day with this little gem.

Me: See you later, alligator
Bubs: Have a lovely day!

I stole borrowed this Ikea rug from my parents' place. Pretty soon they'll have to keep everything bolted to the ground to avoid my sticky fingers. I know earlier I've mentioned that I didn't want to put in rugs into Bub's bedroom but this was too cheery to resist, plus he was driving his matchbox cars on it for more than an hour. Score!

This cheese cracker recipe is too simple to pass up and the best part is that you can customise these to suit your taste buds by adding in spices like dried rosemary, garlic or onion powder, etc. I skipped the salt as I usually find cheddar to be salty enough. As these were meant to be shared with Bubs, I omitted the chilli flakes during the dough mixing and only sprinkled some on top of my portion only.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Art is Rubbish

We had the chance to view the intriguingly titled Art is Rubbish solo exhibition by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic. Most Penangites have a very warm liking for his street art works (titled as Malaysia's answer to Banksy) as he's credited to making the inner city centres of Penang become alive. Drive past some of his popular pieces and you'll see locals and tourists alike patiently lining up to take photos and interact with the artwork.

I like how he used his special touch to make the old Hin Bus depot come to life with young and old flocking to marvel, talk  about and yes, interact with the artwork. Isn't this what art is about; to inspire and provoke reactions from people? :) The exhibition was filled with so many people and boy, it was a sizzling hot day. Be prepared for an unconventional art exhibition and ladies, stilettoes are not recommended here.

A couple of his so-called controversial pieces, i.e. the Lego mural that drew the ire of the Johor city council are reproduced life size here as sculptures, much to the delight of visitors. I spotted a young guy impaling himself on the robber's knife to pose for a photo ;)

Evidence of Ernest Zacharevic's knack for brilliantly transforming the mundane and the broken into tongue in cheek artwork is everywhere. From the crumbling, dilapidated brick walls that, worn out doors to even an open pot hole on ground (blink and you'll miss it) framed in gold gilt.

I was trying to figure out what was that in the chest. Hubs says it looks like a carburetor. Anyone knows?

Cash Cow made out of thumbtacks. My fingers feel sore already just by looking at it.

This was one of my favourite piece: a kimono clad little girl playing with a rubber band.

Traditional chick blinds become an unconventional and evocative canvas for his art. Waste not, want not. Look closer and you'll see the them of Art is Rubbish reinforced subtly.

Sneaking in an outfit of the day here - vain puss that I am ;) 

Spot the Hubs hard at work.

An eyesight test: do you see a little girl bending backwards? If you're viewing on a mobile device, it's going to be a heck of a test! I'll give you a clue: she's wearing a red belt.

Colourful scenes of children clowning around form the basis for the large murals outside.

 Run, don't walk, this is an art exhibition not to be missed, folks. If you're visiting during the sun scorching hours of the afternoon, sunnies, a hat and flats are recommended. The exhibition is free and you can take all the photos you want but I'd recommend bringing some cash in case you need souvenirs. Postcards start at RM15, along with T-shirts, signed paintings for sale. My wishlist includes the pair of coloured sketches of the Lego figures at RM600.

Address: Hin Company Bus Depot, Jalan Gurdwara, George Town, Penang
Opens daily until Feb 14th
12 noon - 8pm

Friday, January 17, 2014


When I first found out that Bubs was a boy during the pregnancy ultrasound, I remember wailing to Hubs that I wouldn't know how to play with boys. Boys live in a world filled with vehicles, spaceships and robots whereas I only know how to put pretty dresses on Barbie and make stuffed toys drink from dainty tea cups. Stereotyping, huh? ;) I've found a bridge between both worlds and I can't believe it took me so long to think of it: Lego!

I was nuts about Lego growing up and it kept me busy for hours. My parents gave away my old sets, which is such a pity, those things are meant to last forever but it's the perfect excuse for me to get new ones for Bubs! Hubs has never played with Lego growing up so he's re-discovering this childhood staple each time Bubs hounds him to build something together.

Bubs is slowly graduating from Duplo (he can easily build them now) to Lego (he fixes simple stuff based on pictures but needs a lot of help with fiddly bits). His favourite at the moment is the fire engine set my Dad got him for Christmas.

I've to admit, the first time I went to the Lego section at the toy shop with Bubs, I was shocked at the prices. I didn't expect it to cost that much and when we got home a set to play with, here are a few observations:
  • Lego can beat Ikea in terms of frugality: you get x number of bricks to build the mode, the number is exactly down to a tee and you don't get any extra bricks
  • Why have the base plates become so rare? I remember the sets that I got back in the 80s came with huge base plates included. I hardly see any base plates bundled with sets and the huge base plates are now sold separately - they don't come cheap either. 
  • There is nearly a Lego set for each blockbuster movie and the new sets come with all kinds of specialised bricks, they hardly make use of the basic bricks. I turned my nose up at SpongeBob SquarePants and the Prince of Persia but was highly tempted by the Batcave and Lord of the Rings sets - Orc minifigures, anyone? 

Hubs is not so much of a Lego snob purist as me and has no qualms over getting a few sets of "inspired" bricks that are compatible with Lego's bricks. I've resorted to asking friends heading to the US to get me a couple of sets and have hidden them away for a rainy day. I'm not so much of a vehicle enthusiast as Bubs, I prefer constructing houses and Hubs enjoys building things like robots and spaceships. It's going to make for a very varied Lego collection, that's for sure!

Here's to a new family hobby together :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All About Food

There are a million reasons why I love Penang and the good FOOD is one of them. There are so many yummy bites around and last week, I revisited an old love plus found a new one.

The Pulau Tikus night market serves an amazing array of Penang hawker food at its best. Seriously, what other place serves lok lok, laksa - both assam and Siam, char koay teow worth waiting for ... no wonder it's packed every night.

It's impossible for me to turn down a stick of lok lok, or two, or three ... oh what the heck, I usually just dip a whole bunch in at a go. Since these are all sliced in tiny bites, they don't count as actual food, right? I usually drown them in a mixture of peanut sauce and garlic ;)

A delicious bowl of ice kacang is simplicity at its best. The auntie is always very accommodating to let me pick my own toppings.  

Poor Bubs - I'm still a little iffy about feeding him street food so I usually bring along dinner for him. He eyed the ice kacang longingly and I lied that the red sugar syrup on it is chilli sauce so he didn't dare try it.

My friend was raving to me about Oink Oink pork burgers which used to operate in a van at the Jelutong night market so when I heard that they have moved to a shop, I was more than excited about giving them a try.

The shop is now called Ric's Burger and it's at the One Terrace Plus. It's no frills though it has air conditioning and service is fast. A basic pork burger starts at RM5 and you can add on extras.

We went all out to make our burgers decadent by adding cheese, a fried egg and bacon slices. The result? It was sloppy to eat with bits and pieces of the burger falling apart but we fell head over heels for it at first bite. The patty was very flavourful and juicy, though a tad on the greasy side.

Ric's Burger
2-1-28, The One Terrace Plus, Tingkat Mahsuri 4, 11950 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Tel: 012 - 405 1586
Business Hours: 11:30am - 2:30pm & 5:30pm - 9:30pm (Closed on Sun)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cruise Day

It's no surprise that I'm forever looking out for family activities that keep Bubs away from anything that has a screen so when I spotted a cryptic looking banner for Penang Cruise Day at the pier, I gamely dragged Hubs and Bubs along.

Stopped for a quick outfit of the day photo outside Fort Cornwallis. Hubs gave me a this-is-a-very-significant-piece-of-history-that-you're-using-as-a-background-prop? Vanity, thy name is woman ;)

These are actually Bub's sunnies but since you can't get him to keep anything on apart from his clothes for longer than 15 minutes, they became part of my outfit for the day.

We went up this flight of Hello Kitty stairs because we thought there there was a boat tour or something for the day and we already promised Bubs that we'd be going on a ship. It turned out that the cruise ship wouldn't be ready until late afternoon but they promised us that we could go on a tour on a small boat.

That sounded promising so we walked a little further.

This was the boat - a Malaysian Maritime boat used for patrolling. It was a lot smaller than what I'd been expecting but we were pleasantly surprised that the crew went out of the way to help us on board, explain their roles.

Teehee - I found this tiny kitchen onboard so cute, plus it was clean as a whistle too.

Aye, aye, Captain Bubs! He had so much fun looking at all the levers, buttons, screens and was thrilled to bits to be allowed to play with the steering wheel. The crew was so patient with all of the kids and answered all our questions about the boats, patrolling duties.

One thing's for sure, Hubs and Bubs had a good pair of sea legs. The boat was bobbing from left to right very persistently. Even the refreshing, salty tang of the sea breeze couldn't help ease my nausea :(

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Arm Candy

I'm taking baby steps towards building up a wrist party by mixing and matching the Vincci bracelets I got in December. Couldn't resist wearing it with all of the new clothes I got as well ;) The navy blue Padini top with exposed zip details at the end of the 3/4 sleeves has a roomy structure that goes well with a fitted pencil skirt.

It's been a while since I've last worn stilettos this high. The sensible part of me says it's an extravagance and it's going to be hell to walk in ... however the lil devil sitting on my shoulder (looking at you, Stacey!) told me you only live once. These will be strictly meant for occasions where I won't have to totter around much on these.

Wrist party of the day includes the same set of Vincci braclets with Thomas Sabo turqouse beads and a red, enamel heart. The navy top is incredibly versatile and works well with a casual pair of faded denim but the lining makes it far too hot to be worn to anywhere that doesn't have air-conditioning.

Are you all prepared with new clothes for the coming Chinese New Year? :D
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