Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fashion Friday: Coral Crush

Given that I'm such a shortie petite, it's ironic that I've lemmings for maxi dresses and loooong skirts but it's near to impossible to find the right length for me. So, I was ecstatic to find this Warehouse flowy, long skirt in the most divine shade of coral that didn't need alterations! Until I went home, checked out Warehouse's website and realised that it's meant to be a midi skirt. Doh.

I like how the mint green heels pops against the soft coral. Plus the pleats and soft fabric makes the skirt drapes so nicely.

I'm going to be brave of these days and try wearing that with flats ... hopefully I don't end up sweeping the floor with the long hems.

Super happy with my new wardrobe addition!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy Chinese Birthday!

Since Bubs has a super easy to remember Chinese birth date, we've gotten into the habit of celebrating it each year with a moon cake. It's always a snow skin durian moon cake because that's my our favourite.

Can't believe my baby boy is going to be 4 next month! How did the chubby, sweet, milky breath baby change into a raging superhero?

Since our children have the exact same Chinese birth date, Siew bought him a small, piggy shaped moon cake. In case you're wondering, she also cut out the Batman mask from black felt based on this cool template. I know, you're wondering is there nothing she can't do?

Bubs couldn't resist a tiny nibble in his moon cake :) Happy Chinese birthday, Bubs!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lego Crayons

I was lucky enough to find a Lego inspired minifig silicon mould on eBay so I snapped it up immediately and stalked the mailbox pretty much everyday for its arrival. In anticipation, I also got a box of crayons from Daiso for our latest art project.

People, I present to you ... your tools for making your very own Lego crayon. It's so simple that even a klutz like me made it on the first go.

You'll need:
Wax crayons in assorted colours
Silicon mould
An oven/stove top

Initially I was worried that the crayons wouldn't melt properly because some people had mixed reviews for other brands but to my surprise, these Daiso wax crayons were pretty decent.

Who knew that one of the many skills I've acquired as a mummy include crayon wrapper peeling ;) Bubs tried to help but didn't quite had the dexterity yet. 

Okay, this is my own variation on how to melt the crayons. I broke them and put them in disposable aluminum cupcake holders in the oven at about 110C for 7 - 8 minutes.

Most of the instructions online suggested to just break and melt the crayons directly in the silicon mould but I was paranoid that since it was a cheapie one, I might end up creating toxic fumes or something. If you don't have access to an oven, just place the crayons in tin cans in a pot filled with water over the stove top.

Put on your oven mitts and pray that you don't spill the super hot molted wax over yourself. Tip them into the mould, be sure to fill them a bit past the brim because they then to dip in the centre upon cooling. This is the part where you'd want your kid to stay far, far away.

Leave at room temperature for about 10 mins. Then place it in the freezer for about 5 mins. This is essential to avoid breaking the crayons.

Carefully pop the crayons out from the silicon mould, the heads can be a little fragile, especially if they aren't properly cooled. The first time I broke a head, I was complaining about the waste of a crayon, why wasn't I careful enough ... until Hubs said "You know, you could just remelt it to make a new one."


Bubs was as happy as a clam with these colourful Lego crayons.

Bubs tested its durability by sketching with them, rubbing them with his thumb and carried them everywhere he went. During bedtime, he wanted to cuddle one to bed but accidentally dropped it onto the floor and was in tears. Until I told him, "You know, you could just remelt it to make a new one." ;)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Going Green

I've been slowly making changes to the products that we use daily by trying to choose more natural alternatives. These are my picks so far :)

It was sooo tough trying to find a paraben, SLS-free shampoo that could thoroughly wash my hair without leaving any kind of greasy residue. After a few bottles of trial and error, the one that worked the best for us was A'kin, an Aussie brand, it was gentle and yet did a fantastic job of leaving our hair nice and clean, without the squeaky dryness. Sasa stopped carrying it a while back and I was thrilled to find huge bottles of it now at TNS Skin Lab.

Another Aussie natural product that I love is Sukin's foaming facial cleanser. Usually most foaming cleaners leave my skin flaky dry but this is an exception. Free from SLS, parabens, mineral oils and other nasties, you don't feel a full pump - just a little dot is enough to do the job. It works perfectly with the Clarisonic. I usually get the double pack from Watson and it lasts for ages. I've even used it as a body wash for Bubs when we're traveling.

After years of laughing at how old fashioned Dad is for bathing with a bar of Lux soap instead of body wash, I've come full circle and can't stop raving about using soap bars. I prefer something more decadent and Mabel Savonniere has a full range of yummy products. From beer infused soaps to ginger salt scrubs, all her creations have an intoxicating scent. Her Enrich Butter is perfect for moisturising Bub's eczema prone skin.

I've started using oils as part of my skincare regime in place of expensive serums. Contrary to popular belief, the oils are light and not at all greasy if you use them sparingly. I currently have argan oil and tamanu oil in my stash. Argan oil is mild, pleasant and is great for hair as well. Tamanu oil has such a grassy and herb-y smell that it took me quite a while to get used to it. I usually pump out 2 - 3 drops and apply on damp skin, taking care not to over apply because it can get greasy.

ps - If you are keen on trying out these oils, you can get them from iHerb. My argan oil is from Melvita but iHerb carries other brands. To get US$10 off your first order (min order US$40), you can use my code BGC004
Disclaimer: I receive a small % from iHerb for each customer referred.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vietnamese at Que Huong Toi

For the life of me, I can never remember the name Que Huong Toi *blushes* I just call it the Vietnamese cafe opposite the Peugeot service centre. It has been there for quite a while but the lack of parking spaces deterred us. However, a couple of weeks ago, our usual Vietnamese haunt wasn't opened and since we were in the neighbourhood, we decided to give Que Huong Toi a try ...

It was love at first sight! The dishes were very attractively priced - hence why the tiny little cafe is packed all the time. You've to go during off peak times or be patient to wait for a seat. Given the reasonable pricing, I was surprised that the cafe is very clean, tidy and even has air conditioning.

Regulars like spring rolls, beef noodle soup and omelets are  available daily but some of the specials, like beef stew or spicy pork leg noodles are available only a handful of days a week. Bear in mind, the portions are just right so it might not be filling enough for Hubs-the-piggy big eaters. Which is fine by us because we can order up a storm, sampling different dishes.

 The iced coffee did not disappoint, it was soooo kao (strong) and costs a fraction of what popular coffee chains are charging. If they opened a stall solely for coffees, I'd be hanging out there every single day.  What's interesting is that you get a tiny pot of black tea that you're meant to mix together with the coffee. I never do this though Hubs has tried and said it's a winner.

This was the spicy pork leg noodles (Sundays) and fresh rice paper spring rolls. As with Vietnamese cuisine, you get a very generous serving of fresh vegetables and herbs like basil/mint which I love.

Hubs had the BBQ pork chop rice, it was nice but nothing to shout about. He much preferred the stewed pork rice (not pictured here). I can't quite remember what Ching ordered but she assured me that it was good. By the way, the cafe also sells sets of the drip coffee for those that feel like DIY-ing this themselves at home.

Hubs never fails to order omelets at Vietnamese restaurants, the crispy thin egg-y pancake stuffed with beansprouts, shredded turnips, minced egg and served with a huge side dish of fresh lettuce and herbs have become his version of comfort food.

Now, I leave you with what has become our unanimous decision for repeated visits. I'm sure there is a fancy pants name for this - maybe chilled caramelised custard with a drizzle of coffee - but everyone, including the staff, calls this egg pudding which is a deceptively simple name for something so delectable.

We didn't know that it would be served with a strong dose of coffee so we drained it off for Bubs. It was the first time he'd ever had coffee so we felt so guilty. Thankfully, he had his afternoon nap as usual after it. For those that can't stand caffeine, you can request it to be served without the coffee and crushed ice. It's fun to watch Bubs eat this, he slowly savours each tiny spoonful, reluctant to rush his enjoyment of this ambrosia.

Que Huong Toi
Opening hours: 10am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm (weekdays)
9am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm (weekends), closed Tuesdays
Phone: 016-421 1244
Address: 56-W, Jalan Jelutong, 11600 Jelutong, Penang

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Play Sand

Bubs adores the sandpit at his kindergarten and never fails to make a beeline for it everyday. The teachers tell me he wallows in it, make sandcastles, dig trenches and flood them with water. Part of the weekday laundry headache involves washing the sand thoroughly off his school clothes, that kid even smuggles home fistfuls of sand in his pockets!

So he was more than thrilled when his aunt gave him a 1kg packet of play sand. The texture of this is similar to moon/kinetic sand and I couldn't resist joining Bubs in messing around with it. It looks exactly like sand but instead of the grainy, coarse bits of it, it was soft, powdery and the fun part was that when you squeeze and pack the sand together, it actually holds its form. Never mind Bubs, I was obsessed with holding it up high and watch tiny bits of it fall down in little, fibrous looking clumps. It was such an interesting sensorial experience!

While play sand isn't as messy (and insect ridden as Hubs would be worried about) as real sand, this does still go around everywhere even though I nagged reminded Bubs to contain the mess only on the table. I placed an old, worn out bed sheet under the table so that helped with cleaning up. 

Bubs used most of his play dough toys - all the moulds, plastic knives and I added in a bunch of marbles, glass pebbles and seashells. He sat there for close to 2 hours, which translates to an eternity for kids! He'd have sat there even longer if it wasn't time for dinner.

He formed little mountains and valleys. He squashed, squished and made little superheroes (his latest obsession), squealed for help in a high pitched voice and answered back in a deep, manly superhero tone. Hubs and I stared at him in fascination; who knew that he had all that going on in his head!

Monday, August 11, 2014

New & Old Shoes

There comes a certain point in life where I have to bid adieu to sky high heels and start welcoming heels of a more sensible height. The issue, however, is that it is almost impossible to find shoes that have a decent height amidst a sea of gravity defying stilettos. 

Look and ye shall find ;) The beautiful shade of mint attracted me at the Nose sale and the soft fabric was so comfy. Can't wait to wear these as a pop of colour to a neutral outfit.

Aussie Godma shares my love of shoes and lace (preferably both together) and got me these lovely, black lace Aldo peep toes as an early Xmas present.

Given my passion for vintage and all things Nonya, my Grandma found these pair of manik (beaded) slippers still in immaculate condition. Apparently, the beads were hand sewn by my Great Grandma who passed away before I was born.

I was taken away at how intricate the design was and the tiny, tiny beads. It must have taken Great Grandma ages to complete sewing them! For now, I'm keeping them stashed away for a special occasion but can't wait for the day where I can wear them complete with a pretty kebaya.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cupcake Bugs

I found Bubs playing with a bunch of colourful cupcake liners - and have no recollection of buying them at all - so I was wondering how could we use them up to avoid him shredding them eventually. Lo and behold - this post came in super handy and it was so quick and easy to set up.

You'll need:
Cupcake liners
Yarn/pipe cleaners
Googly eyes/colouring pencils/markers

Glue the cupcake liners in a row/any arrangement you want. Bubs was enthusiastic about this and I'd to remind him not to be over generous with the glue and to be gentle when pressing the glue sodden liners on.

We didn't have yarn so the pack of Daiso pipe cleaners came into handy. I snipped them into shorter lengths and cut out some tape. Bubs then carefully stuck the wriggly bits onto the liners, forming antennae and legs.

No bug is complete without a happy smile - Bubs then drew on a face. I couldn't find cheap googly eyes in Penang so we just skipped it.

I told Bubs that the bug was hungry so he obliged by using his colouring pencils to draw some food, leaves and grass for his "very hungry caterpillar".

Et voila! He loved his creation and immediately asked to make another one again :D

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Day of Awesomely Insane Good Food

For want of a better post title, this is pretty much it. The day stretched itself around food, glorious food and our bellies were very much contented :D

We kick started the morning with hokkien mee, not the stir fried noodles that most are familiar with but the good ol' Penang version that comes in a rich pork-prawn soup base, noodles and a serving of kangkung, beansprouts and egg.

We found this new shop nestled within Lip Sin Garden - Granny's Hokkien Mee that starts its business as early as 7am and was popular with the morning crowd. We were lucky to find an empty table and quickly plonked ourselves on the seats. The inside of the shop is clean, properly ventilated and reminds me of Old Town outlets. After reading the laminated menu that provides details of each dish and add ons, you then write your own on the slip of paper and pass it to the cashier. You then pay when food is served. Cutlery and bottles of chilli are readily available on all the tables.

The menu had some varieties that I was unfamiliar with and so, I eschewed the more exotic add ons and stuck to the basic (RM3.30). If you're feeling adventurous, you can opt for pig's heart (!), pig's skin, pig's intestines, pig's ears ... and interestingly enough, abalone too.

The serving was quite small and Hubs polished his off in 3 mouthfuls. The soup had a very strong, prawn taste - which means that this should pass most Penangite's standards and making this one of the better hokkien mee stalls here. A couple of hokkien mee aficionado fiends have said that although this isn't exactly the best in Penang, it is certainly nice, albeit slightly on the pricier side.

Granny's Hokkien Mee
Taman Lip Sin Block 2, No. 2, Lengkok Nipah 3 (this is in between Super Tanker and Sunshine Lip Sin)

We've been meaning to try Veloo Villas for quite a while for its famous banana leaf rice. Let's face it, any eatery that has been in business for more than half a century, must be really awesome. However (there usually is), its location smack in the middle of town means that parking is near to impossible and you've got to fight for space find an empty seat there.

So when we drove past D'Piazza at Bayan Baru, we were pleasantly surprised to find an outlet there, plus it was still empty at 6.30pm. The moment you step into the airy and spacious shop, the scent of mouthwatering curries and spices hit you. The array of food were all so tempting and the wait staff were very friendly.

We opted for the banana leaf rice set after a few discreet peeks at the other customers around us - the place fills up very quickly. Bubs was delighted that we ate on real banana leaves and kept asking where were the plates. As with most banana leaf rice eateries, you get unlimited servings of the vegetables, mounds of white rice and curries to drench your rice in. Watch out for the fish curry - it packs a fiery punch and Hubs was left gasping for an icy drink.

We also ordered a tandoori chicken which I forgot to snap a photo of but take my word for it, it is GOOD. Usually tandoori meats are done halfheartedly at most places where you get a stringy piece of rock hard meat charred to a carcinogenic crisp. The one at Veloo Villas was moist, tender and oh so yummy!

And ... to end the day on a sweet note: dessert. There were a bunch of bananas sitting on the kitchen counter for close to a week and no one touched them. They were getting awfully ripe so I made banane au chocolat, which is fancy pants French for the simplest, easiest dessert that converts non-banana eaters into lovers.

1. Sliced the bananas (after peeling them) length wise
2. Chopped a chocolate marshmallow biscuit up. You could sub it with a Kit Kat, Nutella or any chocolate that you have.
3. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks on top of the banana, add a dollop of peanut butter
4. Wrap them in tinfoil and pop in the oven for maybe 5 - 8 mins, around 160 degrees/low heat.

These tasty morsels lasted less than 5 minutes on the dining table: Hubs and Bubs were fighting each other for more helpings of these ;)

What a perfect foodie day *burps*

Friday, August 1, 2014

Team Building!

Usually our team buildings are very tepid affairs with buffets and a movie. This time around, Siew vetoed anything that was sedentary and decided that she wanted to spice things up. This was what we ended up with ...

We went on a cycling adventure around Georgetown! Ok, this is the part where I've to admit that my team is truly the nicest and best people in the world because they rented a 4 wheeled bicycle just because I can't ride a bike *blushing tomato red* I knowwww .... they all stared at me in disbelief when I said I couldn't balance on one and I could probably only just go in a straight line but don't ask me to slow down or stop. After giving me a sigh and rolling their eyes, they agreed to stretch the budget a little and rented the special bikes.

To top it up a notch, Siew decided that it shouldn't just be any slow, admiring the scenery as you cycle - it would be a competition between the gals and the guys. The first team to take as many selfies as possible with the Georgetown street art would win. I was secretly terrified on the bike because of all the heavy traffic on the main roads: it was a Friday morning and we are cycling smack in the middle of bustling city traffic!

The weather was perfect: it had poured heavily the night before so the air was crystal clear and the canopy shaded us from the sun's rays. We found tiny gems around as we pedaled around the heritage area, such as this sidewalk that doubled as a mini Hokkien dictionary.

We took heaps of photos at our own pace, confident that the guys (one's from Ipoh, the other can't speak Hokkien) would get hopelessly lost around the area.

Bruce Lee was a random, quirky find. If you're interested, it's the wall just behind the Boy on a Motorbike. The area was a little deserted though so best to go in a crowd.

Remember the Soo Hong Lane Minions? The concrete pole has been repainted over now as Marge Simpson. A very kind elderly gentleman got his first introduction to a smartphone by helping us take this photo :D

We had some time before lunch so we squeezed in a mini trip to Escape at 1st Avenue. Remember the movie Saw where the characters were locked inside a room and they'd to solve clues to break free from the room? It's exactly like that but minus the crazy psycho killer (I hope!). The puzzles were TOUGH and so random. Plus there was a digital clock that kept flashing out the time left in red, ominous looking numbers. With only 45 minutes to escape, we kept buzzing the assistant for help and even though she patiently and very generously gave handy hints, at the end of it, we ...........

Lost miserably!

After working up quite an appetite, we headed over to the E&O for a very decadent buffet lunch. I'm talking fresh prawns, mussels, chunks of fatty salmon sashimi ... and those are just the starters ;) Pretty sure we piled back on the pounds that we burnt off during the morning cycling!
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