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!

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!

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!

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 :)

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.

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!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

That Magical Moment

When I was pregnant with Bubs, I fretted non stop. Apart from the usual is-my-baby-okay worries, I had a whole pile of other niggling questions. What kind of mommy would I be? How do I shelter him from all the bad things in the world? And that one question which I didn't dare voice out to anyone apart from Hubs for fear that I'd sound like a terrible mom even before my baby was born: how do I know if I love him?

Hubs kept assuring me "Of course you'll love him, he's your baby!"

I was still filled with self doubt. A little voice inside me whispered what if I don't love him? what if I can't bond with me?

Fast forward to week 39, when I first saw him: swaddled up in the blue, hospital issued fuzzy blanket with pudgy cheeks, a shock of thick, dark hair and that sweet, milky newborn smell, a rush of emotions flooded through me. A mixture of being in awe of that tiny, wonderful being in front of me, a ferocious mummy protectiveness, and yes, with it came along that magical moment: a whole and complete love.

Photos below of Bubs taken at a couple of weeks old. I couldn't stop staring at how tiny and perfect his fingers were and that satisfied, drunk on milk look after each feeding.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Perfect Breakfast

Pre-Bubs, one of our favourite things to do early on a Saturday morning is to beat the crowd and head to our favourite stall at Transfer Road which makes the perfect roti canai.The stall is always packed full of people, either patiently sitting at the make shift road side tables or standing next to it to take away, waiting for their piece of piping hot roti canai and that amazing, fiery red curry,

Crispy, slightly charred on the outside but soft and flaky on the inside, it's best eaten when dipped into a spicy, mouth watering curry. Definitely Saturday breakfast perfection on a plate.

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