Thursday, September 27, 2012

Candy Treats and Snowy Delights

The Toddler Law of Physics state that no matter how many packs of Crayola that you buy, they're all bound to end up scattered, yucky and sometimes broken into bits. I've been resorting to wrapping the crayons up in napkins and tucking into my handbag when we're out and about along with crumpled paper to keep Bubs entertained.

When one of my favourite bloggers, Olimomok, opened the Lil' Roar Etsy store offering the cutest crayon rolls and art folios for sale, I quickly snapped an art folio up. The fabrics used are so rad, ranging from rocket prints to jungle animals. The sweet tooth in me couldn't resist the vintage-esque candy shop print (hello, red and white polka dots). I loved that each art folio came ready filled with a mini notepad and Crayola crayons.

Shipping was fast and the price quoted for international registered was reasonable with the art folio being securely packaged in bubble wrap. This will look sooo stylish when whipping it out from my handbag instead of fishing around for crayons :D

Speaking of sweet treats, my colleague has gotten me hooked onto this delish Blackball snowy ice thingy. Blackball is a Taiwanese dessert cafe which I initially dismissed as too gimmicky until my colleague dragged us in there. I was skeptical because it looked weird - shaved ice topped with grass jelly, sago pearls, yam and sweet potato cubes along with adzuki beans. You're given a little tub of creamer to pour over the concoction.

Once I took a mouth, I was hooked. This thing is a gummy lover's dream come true - the contrasts of textures from the cold ice flakes to the slippery soft grass jelly and the sweet chewiness of the cubes. I've since discovered that adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to it makes it even more amazing!

As with most Taiwanese dessert cafes, you're given a buzzer that buzzes and flashes when your order is ready. Bubs found it most fascinating ;)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We Stopped!

 Bubs and I reached another milestone: we stopped breastfeeding! It has been a journey that lasted 2 years and at times, I'm surprised at how long we've kept it going for.

I wasn't too keen on the idea of breastfeeding initially. Kelly didn't give up on me and kept persuading me to give it a try, or at the very least, read about it and then make my own conclusions. Since I was already poring over baby books and websites, I decided it wouldn't hurt to learn more about breastfeeding. The more I read, the more I was gripped and convinced Hubs that we were going to give breastfeeding a go.

 At the hospital, we insisted to the nurses not to give any bottles to Bubs. After delivering, my first view of Bubs, my precious, sweet newborn, was during breastfeeding. The midwife brought Bubs to our room and held Bubs for me as she gave Hubs and me pointers on what to do. I was shivering so badly from the painkillers that my whole body was trembling very hard. She was carrying Bubs for me while Hubs had to hold me still because Bubs was shaking along with me while latching on. I was alarmed at how frequent Bubs wanted to latch on from there on. It seemed to us that just after we managed to drift off to sleep, a nurse would rap the door, push Bubs in and announce that he needs more milk. 

Things quickly went downhill when we were at home. Bubs demanded to latch on every 2 hours and growth spurts were absolute nightmares as the feeding periods would increase to nearly every 45 minutes. Since we were determined to avoid nipple confusion at the beginning, I expressed milk out to keep in the freezer but solely latched Bubs on for the first month. 

This is what books tell you: breast milk digests very easily.

What they never tell you: Bubs getting hungry nearly all the time. We were feeding him non stop and each time he was hungry, he had a loud cry that woke all of us up. Days and nights became a hazy blur for us and I'd pray fervently that I'd get to sleep at least a couple of hours at a stretch before feeding him again.

This is what books tell you: breastfed newborns poop non stop.
What they never tell you: Bubs pooped nearly 12 - 14 times a day, I kid you not Imagine this, Bubs would cry at maybe 3am in the middle of the night for milk and just after he's had enough to sleep for me to put him back into his cot, he would wake and cry and his diaper would be covered with unmentionable stuff. We had to flip on the lights, do a diaper change with him wailing non stop, then try our darn-est best to rock him back to sleep before the next feed would begin again.

This is what books tell you: babies love being swaddled to feel secure.

What they never tell you: Bubs, being very opinionated and feisty, HATED swaddling and was not shy about squawking out his displeasure at being wrapped up. When we got tired trying to swaddle him and just let him drift off to sleep, his Moro reflex kicked in and he startled himself awake, wailing loudly again.

It was not a fun period for us. From our uninterrupted 8 - 10 hour a night sleep, it dwindled down to short naps whenever we could sneak some time for ourselves. There came to a breaking point where we were convinced we couldn't keep this up, we were so close to buying a tin of formula just so we could get some precious sleep. At that point, I was well on my way to becoming a reclusive. I didn't want to go out because going out would mean emergency pit stops to feed him, carrying a heavy bag laden with fresh diapers, wet wipes, a nursing cover ... It got to the point where Hubs literally had to drag us out for a meal just to get us out from home.

When I got back to work, we had a sticky situation trying to introduce the bottle to Bubs. He turned his nose at the glass bottles I got and it took a lot of hunting around before we settled on Tommee Tippee. I was lucky that my company that had great facilities for expressing mums. There was a fridge, hot water, clean sink and soap, power points for electric pumps and of course, fantastic friends there. We'd chat while expressing, share tips and grouses, it was fun to have our own little world inside the Mothers' Room.

As cliche as it might sound, things got better by themselves after time passed. Bubs needed less frequent feeds and with less feeds came less poopy diapers. Then he slowly outgrew the startle reflex and we stopped swaddling him to move him to a sleeping bag. He gradually slept longer at nights which meant we could at least have 6 hours of sleep for ourselves. We were all starting to find breastfeeding extremely convenient - no hunting around for clean bottles at night, less stuff to bring around while traveling and what we think was a stronger immune system.

It has been a roller coaster ride and though the sleep deprivation got to us at times, we wouldn't trade it for the world :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Currently Loving ...

Moroccan Oil for my hair. I know you could probably get a bottle of pure argan oil for a fraction of the cost but I love everything about Moroccan Oil, from the heavy, dark glass bottle (which I live in fear of knocking over) to the slightly musky scent. My hair feels like silk after only a few drops and trust me when I say use this sparingly. Jess bought me this bottle 2 years ago and I still have about half left.

I am obsessed with my GHD, it's been such a good investment for me and worth every single cent. This is my 2nd one and is still going on strong after being in use daily for 4 years. Plus did I mention this is bright pink? :) A quick glide every morning tames my bushy, cavewoman hair and gets me ready in less than no time.

I finally got new glasses made! After dragging Hubs to every optical shop and demanding "Do I look ok in these?", I fell in love with this pair. It has all of my favouritest elements: a slight tortoiseshell, a peek of that gorgeous robin egg blue and teeny tiny silver bows at the hinges. Maybe I'll finally wear glasses out of the house instead of contacts ;)

I think the post baby hormone madness is finally over and my eyelids are less greasy as before (think eye makeup sliding down everywhere) so I've been making full use of my MAC Eye Kohls and Powerpoints. They're more smudgy and have a laid back vibe as compared to liquid eyeliners and somehow this makes me feel safer to experiment a bit more with colour. My favourites are Rosemary & Thyme, a rich olive green, and Buried Treasure, a complex black with little gold flecks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blendmix Cafe and Deep Fried Stuff

I was a little doubtful when Chearrie mentioned that she'd bought us online coupon tickets for lunch at Blendmix Cafe at Bishop Street. I've heard mixed experiences about online coupons from how customers were treated to the quality of the food so I didn't have much high hopes initially. Boy, I was proven wrong.

The friendliness of the wait staff at Blendmix Cafe blew me away - they were incredibly warm and accommodating when they saw Bubs. Even though we didn't order a separate meal for him, the waiter brought him a whole set of Ikea cutlery to keep him entertained with and they didn't even charge us for water, which I thought many other so called upscale restaurants could learn from!

The food didn't disappoint either though the portions were a little on the small side. We'd the chicken cordon bleu, Hawaiian chicken, fish and chips and spaghetti olio olio and were pleasantly surprised that the food was quite good. The waiter took quite a liking to Bubs to the extent of even giving him a free scoop of ice cream. It's small gestures like this that made us really happy and would definitely return back again :D

79 & 81 Bishop Street, 10200 Penang
Tel: 04-2612318 / 012 4928188

Chearrie and I - besties since high school!

Since we still had tummy space to fill, we took a long leisurely drive around the island in search of deep fried snacks.

The Tanjung Bungah goreng pisang (banana fritters) stall has been operating in its van at the same spot for years and has a steady stream of customers lining up everyday for its delectable deep fried morsels. It's located on the left side of the main road as you're driving up to Batu Ferringghi and I've seen out of state visitors spending as much as RM50 on these tasty fritters.

Freshly fried Indian muruku outside the Genting Coffee Shop at Green Lane. We were walking past and the aroma was too enticing to say no to - and I wonder why my clothes are getting tight!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bubs Talk

Some of the things Bubs says that cracks us up.

"Itchy-lily" for when he has a need to scratch.

"Sit proper-berry" as an admonishment to Hubs slouching.

"Boop" with the P properly enunciated when he brings over a book for us to read to him.

Is it bad that I don't want to correct him because I want him to continue being my baby for just a little while longer?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lanterns at Tai Tong

There was a collective gasp of air when we stepped into the brightly lit and clean interior of Tai Tong at Cintra Street. It was my first time there even though De Tai Tong has served generations of patrons with tasty dim sum morsels at the same spot for decades. Bubs and I were so entranced with the colourful lanterns swaying from the ceiling.

Look at the traditional cellophane paper lanterns in all colours of the rainbow! This evoked happy childhood memories of Dad bringing us to the Penang Plaza where the ceiling would be festooned with lanterns and we'd crane our necks up trying to spot the best one to bring home. The lanterns have gotten a bit more modern with characters like Powderpuff Girls, Hello Kitty and Angry Birds making an appearance.

As with most old fashioned dim sum shops, a basin of hot water is provided to clean the tiny tea cups and chopsticks with and each customer is provided with 2 tea cups so the tea cools faster for you to sip. Little old ladies pushing carts laden with steaming dim sum make up part of the charm of De Tai Tong. These ladies are experts at maneuvering through tight corners and I wonder if they hold derby races with the push carts ;)

Every time a push cart stopped by, we couldn't stop picking out more food. Spicy stewed chicken feet, braised pork ribs, soft, cloud like pork buns, garlicky steamed mussels, golden flaky egg tarts - the table was groaning under the weight of all the food we chose.

Tai Tong also offers a host of ala carte dishes that aren't on the menu. We tried out the sang mee (crispy noodles) based on a friend's recommendation and it was absolutely stellar.

We didn't go back empty handed either - lookeeeee what we've got! An old school majestic dragon lantern! Bubs was leaning towards a garish looking Donald Duck or Angry Bird but since I've always wanted a dragon lantern as a kid and my parents refused to buy it for me I persuaded him *ahem* to pick a dragon lantern instead. We were squabbling over who got to hold it and I can't wait to light a candle in it and let him carry it around in the garden.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Sometimes when I'm in the office, inundated with emails, reports, I can't help but wish I could blink and be transported back to ......

Hong Kong!

Hubs and I went there for our honeymoon and I loved every bit of the bustling city.

Every night, the streets were filled with people, neon lights and the ubiquitous bamboo sticks used in construction sites. It was crowded, noisy and fantastic.

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a bite of stinky tofu. You could smell the pong from far away. For something that reminded me of stinky drains, I took a tentative bite drenched in spicy chilli sauce and was immediately blown away! Hubs refused to stand close to me while I was nomming on it.

On cold nights, we had steamboat. It was fascinating that even though the 2 soups tasted so different, they were from the same soup base, the waiter just added different herbs and spices to them.

Every now and then, there were street performers. This guy allowed you to paint him how you wanted after you deposited a tip for him.

After all the amount of walking we did, we'd stop frequently for dessert. Can anyone say mmm-mango pudding?

Cutesy hedgehog buns that I didn't know you'd to steam before eating and I'd to eat them cold anywhere because I was starving.

Breakfasts were Hong Kong style food - yin yong (tea + coffee mix), iced lemon tea, beef noodles and interestingly enough, deep fried fish skin.

The prettiest, lacey cobweb dotted with dew drops. 

Where do you daydream about during work?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Someone Just Turned 2

Bubs turned 2 over the weekend and it seems that all those sleepless nights, midnight nappy changes, first solids have whizzed past so fast! Was it really 2 whole years ago that squirmy, red-face wailing bundle of joy entered our lives and is now a whirling tornado of non stop movement?

 He received his first card from my Mum in Singapore. Have you ever seen that many stamps on an envelope?!

We had one birthday bash at Chicago Ribs during lunch with the in-laws filled with Good Company (essential for any bash) platefuls of juicy pork ribs and cake. That's Bubs' Great Grandma - he's been learning bits of Teochew and Hokkien from her.

The moment Bubs has been most looking forward to: Cake! He has been talking non stop about his "chock-late cake". We had a 3 layered white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate whooper of a cake that pretty much left everyone in a sugar comatose.

Which kid doesn't love tearing open wrapping paper for pressies? ;) Insanely cute Chipmunk backpack from Siew that Bubs was trying to rip the Chipmunk out for a cuddle. Sis In Law gave a classic doodle board that Bubs has been having a lot of fun with, Hubs can't believe how something so old school can still be such a hit with the touchscreen generation. Fairy Godma knows that anything Sesame Street related will get Bubs instant seal of approval!

Onward to the 2nd bash with my Dad and Baby Brother at TGIF. Having 2 separate birthday celebrations meant dressing up twice ;) Wearing my new Dorothy Perkins blush/ink bonded lace dress.

And to Bubs astonishment, he got another cake after dinner, well brownies + ice cream to be exact but for someone that doesn't get much sweet treats on a regular basis, this was like all kinds of dreams come true.

Happy birthday, Bubs!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Red Bean, Green Bean, One Bean, Two Beans

I've always wanted to create my own sensory bin for Bubs after seeing so many nice ones around but wasn't too keen on the mess that would be left - think grains of rice/pasta/beans all over the living room, not to mention the sacrilege to an Asian (aiya, what a waste of food!)

I decided to start out small and in a contained space since Bubs is developing his motor skills.

Voila! The tiny inflatable pool that we got from Toys R Us was perfect for this purpose.

I filled a bowl with a combination of red and green beans (adzuki and mung beans if you want to get all technical). I put smaller bowls, plates, spoons and Bubs, of course, all together in the inflatable pool with strict instructions that the beans were to stay inside the pool.

He had so much fun! He was running his hands through the beans, grabbing fistfuls of beans, transferring them from one bowl to another.

He used spoons, smaller bowls to scoop them up and even fed some to Cookie Monster ;) At the end of the session, none of the beans were left inside any bowls at all!

We'd a tough time trying to convince him to stop playing so we could clean up the pool. After all that, we didn't waste a single bean as we washed them (thoroughly!) and cooked them into red/green bean soup for dessert that day.

Shattered Lenses, Elmo Cookies and World Breastfeeding Week

Sometimes I think I'm just a few steps away from becoming like my parents. You know when you were a kid, you'd snicker at them looking around for their glasses everywhere when it was just right in front of them?

Last night I turned the lights off ready for bed, recalling that I was looking for something but couldn't quite remember what it was ... until I heard the snapping and crunching of that something. With a sinking feeling, I turned on the lights and found what I was looking for.

My glasses :( I completely shattered the right lens though thankfully the frame is still intact.

So while waiting for the lens to be replaced and not wanting to wear contacts at home, I'm squinting at the laptop screen. I've heard that Monet painted the way he did because of his failing eyesight. I think, however, my manager would be less than impressed if I were to submit a report full of wonky Excel numbers in for him to review.

Look what I found at Cold Storage! Elmo crackers (though Bubs calls them cooookies) - they were a huge hit with him and he was so pleased at going "elmooo" "big birdddd" whenever he ate one. They had a few other varieties of Sesame Street snacks so I might stop by and get some for him.

The Adventist Hospital is a strong advocate of breastfeeding and they have the nicest lactation consultants. 2 years ago, Hubs and I were at our wits end - we'd just brought Bubs back and even though he was latching on directly, he wasn't pooping and we weren't sure if he was even getting any milk down at all. We drove to the Adventist Hospital and even though we weren't patients there, the lactation consultant was amazing. She guided us patiently, listened to all our worries even though I was a basket case at that point and gave lots of useful tips.

So when they organised the annual World Breastfeeding Week recently, Hubs, Bubs and I were more than happy to show up to extend our support. There were so many families with young children and also stalls dedicated to babywearing, breast pumps, breastfeeding peer groups. I totally loved the buzz there!

Penang Favourites: Balik Pulau Laksa and 888 Hokkien Mee

You can take the girl out from Penang but you can never take Penang out from the girl ;) I LOVE Penang food with all my heart and nothing comes close to my personal favourites: assam laksa and Hokkien mee.

Let me get this straight - there is only one type of Penang Hokkien mee: rice noodles and egg noodles topped with meat garnishing, a boiled egg, bean sprouts and kangkung served in a prawn soup base. None of that stir fried noodles and just because the noodle is yellow, it doesn't automatically make that dish Hokkien noodles.

One of the best Hokkien mee in Penang is the 888 Hokkien Mee at Presgrave Street or better known as Sah Tiau Lor (3rd Road). It has been so popular that they opened a second franchise at Bayan Baru, opposite Sunshine Square.

Business is brisk even though finding parking there is a complete nightmare, especially during rush hour traffic. They start selling from 5.30pm until midnight, making it a popular haunt for late nighters looking for a hot, steaming bowl of noodles and are closed on Thursdays.

The soup is fantabulous! Sweet and rich with a heavy prawn-pork base, you can opt to top up with extras such as fish balls, siew bak and even pork ribs for a more filling meal.

The Balik Pulau assam laksa is a hidden gem tucked away in a little, nondescript coffee shop. Look closer a little and you'll notice all the tables are full of customers eating with great gusto bowlfuls of the delicious noodles.

For a laksa fan like me, this has to be the holy grail of laksas! Again, when I say assam laksa, I mean rice noodles soaked in a strong, tamarind-spiked fish soup garnished with fresh pineapple, cucumber, onions, lettuce, mint and banana flowers.

What makes this stall extra special is that in addition to assam laksa, it also offers the lesser known siam laksa which is creamier with coconut milk added. It is sweeter and milder. Since I couldn't decide between the two equally yummy choices, I just saved the hassle by eating two bowls ;)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Happy Merdeka!

Happy National Day to everyone! Has everyone been enjoying this long weekend?

To avoid the dreaded day-before-long-weekend traffic jams, our boss let us go back earlier to work from home. In between juggling reports and replying mails since Hubs was at MIL's place with Bubs, I whipped up this garlic thyme roast chicken.

It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is. Because I like to Live Dangerously, butter was used. Liberally.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, stuff garlic, butter and fresh thyme under the skin. Sprinkle more garlic, thyme over the chicken and for more artery clogging goodness, add butter over the chicken. Trust me on this one.

And because I didn't want to blog up Bub's baby arteries, for the sweet potato coins, I used olive oil Sweet potato is my latest obsession and easy as chips (pun intended) to prepare. I peel them and slice then as thinly as I can get them to be. At first I tried using a veggie peeler to slice them but got fed up so went back to hacking them with a knife.

Pop them into the oven while I get back to more work.

After a while, the whole place smelt heavenly and just when Hubs and Bubs got back, I smugly served them this. To quote a certain furry red monster, ta-daaaa!

I did my duty to boost the retail economy by getting this pair of shoes. Being on a Strict Budget, I contemplated over them for a few days, decided that these were a Necessity and promptly bought them.

Did anyone in Penang go to the Big Bad Wolf book sale at Times Square? There were books galore and surprisingly, not as crowded as I expected it to be, or maybe we were just early. Spotted many childrens' classics (Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, anyone?), whole collections of Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, popular fiction like Lisa See and Sophie Kinsella to cookbooks by Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson, it was all an eclectic mix.

I ended up lugging back these. I am crazy over picture books and keep telling Hubs that these are for Bubs but I'm usually the one curled up in bed, reading them and oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the illustrations. Of all the bargains I got, I was the proudest of the Wonderful World of Dr. Seuss collection, marked down from RM500 to RM199 with an additional 10% off for members, score! I didn't grow up with Dr. Seuss but look forward to introducing these to Bubs when he's a little bigger.

Last day for the Big Bad Wolf book sale is tomorrow - opens from 10am to 10pm at Times Square Penang. Be prepared for lotsa bargains ;)
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