Saturday, November 30, 2013

Meeting Lat

There's something appealing about a Lat comic, the gentle, nudge your ribs kinda laughter and the fact that Malaysians from all walks of life can relate to it. I was so excited when I heard that a dialogue with Lat would be part of the Georgetown Literary Festival and went through Mum's massive Lat comics collection to pick some books to bring there, hoping that he'd autograph them.

My childhood favourites were Kampung Boy, Town Boy and Lots of Lat (one of the oldest I could find in Mum's collection).

An outfit of the day snap before heading to Sekeping Victoria because I'm vain ;)


Meeting the man himself. Lat was so friendly and approachable. The line to get his autograph was moving pretty fast so he was able to spend a few minutes each talking to his fans. He had a razor sharp memory and I was surprised he was able to correctly recall the year the books were published just based on the cover alone.

As with his comics, the audience at Sekeping Victoria was large and varied from all races :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Xmas Tree

Since we follow a retail Xmas, the tree has been up for a couple of weeks now. Bubs and I made a tag team and hounded Hubs relentlessly until he finally agreed to bring down the tree and set it up for us. Don't you just love how families work together to get things done? ;)

We went through the box of ornaments and Bubs had a ball playing with each one.

I'm still happy I'd the sense to grab a bunch of these gingerbread men ornaments last year when they were on special. Very small kid friendly and so much fun to mess around with.

Hubs draped the fairy lights around the tree and tested them.

And the Xmas tree is up! One thing hasn't changed: if you see those tiny red faux gifts up on the tree, we actually had a whole bunch of them and Bubs had the bright idea that each one might contain real presents in them so he sneakily unwrapped most of them. These two escaped unscathed and I moved them up to the higher branches. The tree is still sparse so we're waiting for Fairy Godma's next visit back to Penang with a box of Ikea ornaments.

Ending this with a footnote ... literally, Bub's style :)  He has just discovered the camera function on my phone.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Xmas Cards

I saw a couple of ideas around on Christmas Cards simple enough for young children to do and Bubs was so excited about crafting these.

We got a couple of coloured fabric tape from Daiso and cut out different lengths of the tape. Bubs helped me remove the sticky backs from the tape and as I steadied the tape over the card, he pressed down firmly on it. 

I helped him draw a star on the top and a tree trunk at the bottom. To add a pop of sparkle to the card, we used glitter glue that came in a pretty mix of red, green and silver chunks. Bubs then carefully squeezed the glue over the card and added some drawings of his own.

According to him, these were presents under the tree. The green object is a ball and the blue one a spaceship. A not so subtle hint for Christmas presents from him? ;)

We also did potato stamping - thank you Hubs for carving out the trees. I'd have prob sliced off my fingers if I attempted to do that.

Bubs hard at work, concentrating where to to stamp the red and green trees on. He then added his favourite: glitter glue. I swear that kid would prob cover himself with it if I let him.

There you have it: easy Christmas cards :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Alley, Stewart Lane

I'd been patiently waiting for the day when I could find decent churros and cronuts in Penang so when my cousin Joey posted some photos, I pounced on them faster than a fashionista at a Zara sale. The Alley is a newly opened cafe tucked away in Stewart Lane, the tiny little side street close to the Goddess of Mercy temple in town. Parking is a total pain but trust me,  it's worth it.

I liked how the proprietors retained the old store sign of the original shop which used to sell Chinese religious paraphernalia. The simple chalkboard proclaiming the soup of the day being coffee, is no joke at all. The Alley definitely serves a thick brew.

They've a small range of Malaysian-designed Pestle & Mortar tees. I was hoping that I could be able to find this pair of shorts there but no luck :(

The simple yet decadently rich drinks and desserts menu is available at the counter. Pick what you want (the friendly counter staff are very helpful), pay after ordering and your choices will be served to you. It took forever for me to choose dessert. How can you have 4 different types of choices for churros and cronuts EACH and not expect me to order them all? #firstworldproblems ... I was dithering between chocolate, Nutella, cinnamon sugar and salted caramel. I was about to eschew chocolate until the counter staff told me that this is a special blend prepared by the chef. Oh boyyy ...

There's a slight wait time for the churros and cronuts as everything is prepared freshly to avoid it from being soggy. You can while the time away by snapping photos as the cafe is chock full of photographic opportunities.


Oh Hubs ... what did you do to my baby?

The love of my life taking a photo of the other love of my life.

Says it all ;)

The mocha (RM11) was strong, heady and had such an inviting aroma. Considering the fact that it came in a huge cup, I thought it to be of good value. For this non coffee lover, I found the mocha to be strangely irresistible and it went well with all the food that we ordered. 

The Alley's churros (small for RM9) was s crispy on the outside and pillow-y soft inside. The chocolate dip was a perfect accompaniment though I wish there was more provided as there wasn't a lot to dunk the churros with. Hubs preferred the one at Burps & Giggles though he thought it was nice too. 

The cronuts (RM8 each) were the highlight, a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, these were soft, flaky and drenched generously with toppings of your choice (we went with Nutella and salted caramel). On the side of the plate was a small thumb sized piece of fried dough with additional sauce. Bid goodbye to your waistline, you'll be losing it for a VERY yummy cause.

Would we go back again? Absolutely. We felt that this is one of the few good cafes in Penang located in a hip, tourist-y area that had prices matching the quality of its food. This time we'll park further away so give a chance to burn off more calories walking ;)

 The Alley,
5, Stewart Lane, 10200 George Town, Malaysia

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Occupy Beach Street

Occupy Beach Street is a brilliant concept to take No Car Day in Penang a step further. Every Sunday from 7am - 1pm, Beach Street is barricaded off to traffic and for that glorious step of time, pedestrians, cyclists, inline skaters are allowed to wander down the wide stretch of road freely.

Bubs looked bewildered when he was told he could scoot down the road and said "No, a car will hit me!" Glad to see that my repeated nagging warning on road safety made an impact on him. When he saw that there were 0 moving vehicles around to be seen, he was really excited about being able to scoot on the giant tarred road.It only lasted for a while though, he got lazy and demanded that we push him along on his scooter ;)

There was a happy vibe in the air. People were either browsing through the stalls, walking leisurely or cycling along. Some were playing badminton at the little streets adjacent to Beach Street. I love how communal it felt and I was so happy that Bubs could experience a little slice of how life used to be like before all the massive development.

Check out the giant snakes and ladder set up on the road. There were also other old fashioned games set up at the same area, there was a chalked on hopscotch grid, marbles and I spotted a fishing game as well. Volunteers were distributing free bubble solution to children too.

Chinese chess pieces laid out on a whiteboard. A couple of people walking by couldn't resist making a few quick moves on it.

We saw a couple of unique games that we'd never heard of before. There was woodball (the mallet and the ball were made from wood) and we also found floor ball. Bubs was delighted when the coach let him have a trial game of floor ball. Tee hee ... the pink stick he was holding was adorable! Hubs wagered that Bubs wouldn't be able to hit the ball on his own without the coach guiding him. Hah! Guess who paid for my free lunch that day? ;) Thank you Bubs for proving Daddy wrong.

There was a stall where you could make a mini ocean scene was a hit with Bubs. You start out with an empty glass jar which you then fill with layers of coloured sand, multi-coloured gravel, mini seashells, pearlescent beads and tiny snippings of seaweed. I think Bub's favourite part was filling the sand, using the coffee stirrer to push it around in the jar and shaking it. When you're done, the art teacher then seals it off with a layer of clear gel wax, similar to what people use to make gel wax candles.

The end result: wellllllll ... it's certainly very colourful to say the least!


Who could say no to chalking on the road? I've always wanted to do this with Bubs but terrified of annoying our neighbours so when we saw a box of coloured chalk and an invitation to scribble all over the road, Bubs and I snapped right to it.

Can't wait for more Occupy Beach Street fun!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Wood Anniversary

We've reached our 5th wedding anniversary, yay!

When I was waaaaay younger (along with a much better waistline), I never understood why people said love takes a lot of hard work. I was thinking along the lines of working out at the gym or spending over time in the office. Holding hands, murmuring sweet nothings, gazing lovingly into each others' eyes? Pffffffft ... yeah right, sounds like a lot of hard work to me.

Then came the wedding. I can still remember a part of my speech confidently telling everyone that we'll be seeing them at our 50th wedding anniversary with the same toasts. The first year of living together was easy peasy. We had an agreement: Hub would do all the housework and to ensure that he doesn't run out, I'd mess up the place to keep him busy ;)

During pregnancy, I thought I thought I hit the jackpot. Hubs prepared at least 5 Tupperwares of fruit for me each day to bring to work (heck, he even made me pancakes at 7am!), I got back rubs and foot massages right before bedtime and he gave in completely to my shopaholic cravings ...... I'm still wondering what to do with the designer baby change mat that I only used once before we realised that the best place to change dirty diapers is on top of a piece of kain lampin (muslin nappy) and a rubber mat.

When Bubs came onto the scene, we fell in love with him over and over again. Awww, look at that cute itty bitty pouty lips, those trusting eyes that would melt any parent's heart, how contently he sleeps on  ... Ahem. That was before the months of sleepless nights and major upheaval to our lives. 

Sleep deprivation isn't something I wouldn't wish onto my worst enemy. We were cranky, grouchy and upset with each other all the freakin' time. There were nights where we painstakingly rocked Bubs to sleep, then hurriedly tried to grab some shut eye for ourselves, only to hear Bub's upset wails because he'd soiled his diaper yet again. We argued over whose turn it was to rock him back to sleep, our choice of parenting styles, who should do the housework ...

And all this just a couple of years after the wedding ;)

I won't mince my words. Infatuation is blind and fleeting. Real love requires a lot of hard work, knowing when to hold back that sharp retort and to give rather than to criticize.

I digress.

This year, we had a very low key celebration by focusing on the one thing that is important to us: good food, lol! We just realised that now is the best time to bring Bubs along to hotel buffets. He gets to eat for free and he loves trying a little bit of everything.

Kampachi at the Equatorial Hotel serves a nice Japanese spread and I gorged myself on oysters most of the night. I'm also a fan of cold udon and very few places get such a simple dish right. I liked how all the ingredients for the cold udon were self serve so I could adjust quantities to my preference.

One of the nicest thing about Kampachi that I've never seen served in any other Japanese restaurants in Penang has to be the freshly made dorayaki (Doraemon pancake) that they do on the spot. Bubs was hooked after one and kept asking for more. It was that good.

I couldn't think of a better way to end the night then with Bubs taking a photo of us. Swirly, blurred, it's a perfect snapshot of love.

Welllllll ... the icing on the cake would be ... Hubs still does most of the housework ;)

Happy vacuuming, darling!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet Cat Duck

I'm not a huge fan of Hello Kitty but thought that the Hello Kitty pictures at Maccas were cute and hurriedly bought one. When I opened up the box, I went "ummmmm ..." I didn't know that Hello Kitty would be so jaundiced-yellow! I threw it to Bubs thinking that at the most, he'd play with it for a couple of days before getting bored with it.

Bubs isn't exposed to a lot of pop culture (he thinks that SpongeBob SquarePants is a block of cheese) so I asked him what he thought Hello Kitty dressed up as the Ugly Duckling was. He immediately said "Cat Duck".

He's certainly going through this phase longer than I expected. He pretty much ignores it during the day but come bedtime, he hugs Cat Duck to sleep while Hubs throws me an accusing glance. In case you haven't guessed, Hubs thinks that most of my play ideas, masak masak, congkak are a tad too girly for Bubs.

One bedtime, we couldn't find Cat Duck and Bubs said he couldn't sleep without it. We were scouring everywhere and Bubs was calling "Cat Duck ... where are you? Meow quackkkkk."

*feels guilty for even giving him the toy in the first place*

We found it tucked under a blanket and a relieved Bubs cuddled it in his arms. 

He better not be bringing that to college with him!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nasi Lemuni is Available at Jawi House!

Close to every Ramadhan, a foodie friend I have, posts an ode to nasi lemuni (lemuni rice). She found it at a Ramadhan bazaar and waxed lyrical over it, so that got me curious over what is nasi lemuni and how good can it be exactly.
The only issue ... where do I find it in Penang?

When a little bird told me that Jawi House at Armenian Street does an authentic version, I insisted to Hubs that we go over to try it. As usual, parking in the heritage area of Georgetown is limited and all side parking so I'm pretty glad it was Hubs that did the driving. We'd to park quite a distance away and do some walking.

Apart from the scorching sun, it was quite a nice walk and I enjoyed looking at how restoration of the area is bringing the heritage houses back to life. Take a look at this beauty, for instance.

Hubs and I weren't sure if this was a boutique hotel or someone's immaculately restored private residence - and in my favourite shade of mint grade.

I was whipped out my mobile to take photos of everything and anything. I stopped under this arch for a moment, thinking that the swaying air plants look eerily pretty ... until a bug dropped on me and I ran off screeching.

This was me post screech, wearing (as usual) a Dorothy Perkins black lace sweetheart top and an inky blue pair of skinny jeans. My cousin text-ed me to say that she had something very similar to this ... and also from Dorothy Perkins! Hubs rolled his eyes and said that our similar tastes must be genetic.

Jawi House is part cafe, part gallery and another part (if that's even mathematically possible) museum. It celebrates the Jawi/Malay Peranakan culture by focusing on spices brought in by the Arabian, Turkish, Persian and yes, Armenian traders back then.

The stylish little courtyard with a covered skylight.

I don't usually order drinks at restaurants but I couldn't resist the intriguingly named Arabian sherbet while Hubs settled on the nutmeg juice. The Arabian sherbet tastes as beautiful it looks. Think the sweetness of air bandung tempered with the slight headiness of spices sprinkled with jelly-like basil seeds. Fairy Godma, if you are reading this: this tastes so much better than the one you took me to last time.

Served with cucumber pickles, a boiled egg, ikan bilis, sambal, the nasi lemuni (RM15) was fragrant, went marvelously with the accompanying bowls of chicken curry and vegetable curry. I thought it was a huge spread and well worth the price considering that it's located in a hip, tourist-y area. I think I almost shed a tear eating it. NOW I see the hype ;)

Hub's nasi briyani (RM15) comes with a choice of chicken or beef rendang and it's dished up with the same cucumber pickles and papadums. Jawi House will be an Atkins dieter's worst nightmare - the rice is just superb. It is studded with cashews for an unexpected texture and taste along with herbs that just makes all the flavours explode on my tongue. People, I've a confession to make. I finished all of my rice, right down to the last grain.

The chef was a very friendly and charming young man who described each dish for us and on top of that, described the history of Penang to us. He spent some time walking us through the gallery and showing us watercolour depictions of Penang during the 1790s. I've to admit I'd no idea that that long before the British arrived, Georgetown was a swampy forest with villages in it.

Visitors are requested to remove their shoes to preserve the wooden staircase and flooring before heading upstairs to the art gallery. Even though I don't know anything about modern art, I loved what I saw. Leaves Pressing Against Windows were framed behind a white wood and glass, designed to look like French doors. Pine was a rustic piece of a pine cone painted on (pine?) wood.

I can't wait to be back to try the rest of their dishes ... after burning off all the carbs on a long walk back to the car ;)

Address:  85, Lebuh Armenian, George Town, Penang.
Tel: +604 261 3680
Opening times: Mon - Sat, 10am-7pm
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