Friday, February 28, 2014

The 2nd Penang Bridge

Less than 24 hours from now for the 2nd Penang Bridge to open!

I asked around and so many of my friends in the mid 80s have fond memories of standing at the mid span of the original Penang bridge under the iconic arches for a photo. That was way before the crazy increase in traffic and at that time, you were still allowed to stop your car at the side.

Last week, we went for a peek at the tip of the bridge. There's a security barricade to stop people from wandering in because it's not yet opened but you're allowed to photos just right at the entrance.  As Hubs said, here's to creating history and hoping that Bubs now has the same fond memory :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Super Bubs

Bubs has been on this super hero kick; he is in awe of Spiderman, Superman, Iron Man, Captain America (or rather Emerica as he calls it) and Batman. Whenever he role plays, he puts on an even deeper (we get told a lot that he already has a very deep voice) and aggressive tone.

We were having our weekly staple of roti bakar and iced coffee when I spotted a stall selling kids sized superhero outfits. They weren't anything fancy and obviously not the licensed merchandise but would obviously delight a certain someone. After asking Little Mr Indecisive what he wanted, "I want Spiderman, no wait, Superman, uhhhhh ... no, I want Iron Man" I decided to just pick out one myself.

Being the Asian mum I am, I buy clothing for Bubs in bigger sizes so they last him for ages and I get more bang for my buck that way. Since the stall owner ran out of Spiderman outfits in larger sizes, I settled on a Superman outfit with a sewn on cape. I initially cringed from the gaudy colour and plastic-y ironed on logo but Bubs was so excited, hugged the outfit to his chest and kissed it. Awwwww ... the look of sheer delight on his face more than made up for the cut throat price.

After a stern warning about how donning the Superman suit does NOT enable him to fly and that I'd confiscate it if I caught him doing superhero stunts in it, Bubs was thrilled to bits to tear around the house in it. Hubs talked Bubs and me out of the idea of wearing the full suit out to the mall ("This isn't Halloween") and just wearing the top with a pair of chambray shorts.

Super Bubs out on his mission to save the world :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chocolate Snack Cakes

As always, weekend afternoons are dedicated towards stockpiling the fridge with dessert for the week ahead.

Once Bubs is fast asleep, I give him a quick peck on his cheek and dash off to the kitchen where play time begins for me. He was upset before his afternoon nap because he decided he was Iron Man and leaped onto the bed without factoring the height of it. He fell right off backwards, hit his head against the floor (thank God the floor mat absorbed some of the impact) and bawled non stop.

Ignoring the fact that nearly everyone in the family is down with the flu, I decided upon Smitten Kitchen's chocolate yogurt snack cakes. After all, dark chocolate is packed full with antioxidants which will either kill or cure the flu bug, right?

I only had olive oil lying around the kitchen so I used that in place of vegetable oil. Since we usually use olive oil in stir fries and pasta, I've gotten used to the fruitiness of it and I can't really detect it in baked goods.

Melting the dark chocolate over a pot of boiling water on the stove. I was almost tempted to slurp from it. Almost.

Bliss is a cup of hot tea while the aroma of baked goodies waft out from the oven.

Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes

7 ounces (200 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 ml) plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners or lightly butter the pan. Or, if you’re Deb and have to be fancy dust off that much-neglected mini-springform pan and coat it with a nonstick spray.
2. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of the oil. Once melted and smooth, remove from the heat. (Alternately, you can do this in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments, stirring well between each until smooth.)
3. In another bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup oil with yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla and almond extracts.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yogurt mixture. Stir lightly a couple times, then add the melted chocolate and stir until just smooth.
5. Divide the batter among the muffin or springform cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (less for mini-springforms, more for muffins, though your oven may vary) or until they feel barely set in the middle and a tester or toothpick comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with coffee and a nice dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and any berries you can scrounge up in your fridge. Or, you know, as is.

It definitely brightened up someone's day when he woke up from his nap :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Crystal Garden

I've been slowly trying to incorporate some science into Bub's play and there have been so many cool ideas online. Since we had a pack of Epsom salts at home (these also make great plant fertilisers), we decided to try our hand at growing a crystal garden.

You'll need:
1/2 cup Epsom salts (can be easily found at pharmacies)
1/2 cup hot water
Drop of food colouring (optional)

1. Dissolve the ingredients together.
2. Pour into a bowl or jar
3. Keep in the coldest part of the fridge for a few hours.

Bubs and I found that the jars that were kept right at the back of the fridge grew crystal more quickly than the ones that were in front. We also kept it overnight and got a sparkly crystal garden the next day.

Bubs examined them carefully and used his finger to poke them. Ouch! They weren't sharp but just a little prickly.

We admired how pretty the crystals looked as they glinted under the afternoon sun and talked a little about the science (nucleation and crystal growth) behind them. We also discussed about what other crystals we could find in the kitchen (sugar, salt)

As for the crystals? They ended up in the shower with Bub's :) He had fun swirling water into them and watching them dissolve again.

Monday, February 17, 2014

TWG Gurney Paragon

Given that Hubs and I were scone fiends, I kept harping about how I badly wanted to try the afternoon tea at TWG Gurney Paragon. The afternoon tea is served at 2pm and unfortunately, that is the time where the lines get impossibly long. One fine day, the stars were aligned, Bubs was peacefully napping in his stroller and since it was a quarter to 2pm, there wasn't a queue of people waiting.

The interior of TWG is elegant and understated with dark, marble floors, mirrored paneling and lush, warm lighting. The wait staff are discreet and attentive as they bustle along the tiny tea salon.

What is unique about TWG is that they have a very extensive array of teas to choose from. The canisters of tea literally stretch up to the ceiling, forming an attractive backdrop. You could spend a long time browsing around the different varieties of teas in beautiful packaging for purchase.

The patisserie corner has a mouthwatering range of delectable desserts, including macarons (also available as takeaway options at RM5 each)

Since we were there for the scones only, Hubs and I eschewed the mains and settled on the Fortune Tea Set (RM45.50) which comes with 2 scones, 2 pieces of tea croque monsieur, 3 macarons and a pot of tea. We also topped it out with a serving of Cream Brulee (RM17). It was close to impossible to pick just 1 tea out of the (literally) hundreds on the list and the waiter was very patient, trying to recommend what he thought would be a perfect complement for our food. I've also seen the waiter at the next table going so far as to bring over a few tea canisters for the customers to select. We decided to go with the 1837 white tea.

Voila - afternoon tea is served. For those that were wondering about the fabled gold teapot, the teapot itself is from porcelain, it's the outer cover that is a shiny gold. We were impressed with the 1837 white tea, it has a delicate and fruity taste that was refreshing to the palate. We were disappointed that the tea is non refillable and is good enough for about 3 cups. As the tea that streamed out of the pot was crystal clear, Hubs and I debated if TWG uses teabags (God forbid!) or whole leaves for customers. Hubs ended the argument by opening the teapot and peering into it, it was ... a mystery! There were no teabags or tea leaves inside the teapot, the tea was already brewed, strained and poured into the teapots. There goes our bright idea of refilling it with our own flask of hot water ;)

The croque monsieur was nicely done though I usually find savouries boring and skipped straight to the sweets. We selected the chocolate, caramel and mint macarons and I loved all 3 choices. I would come back again just for the macarons and can't wait to try other flavours. The scones were served with whipped cream (far too light, we would have preferred clotted cream) and tea jelly. The scone itself was decent though something you could have easily gotten from any bakery. The highlight of it was the tea jelly which was unique and had a nice tang to it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Hope Cupid was kind to everyone and the stars were clearly aligned when Valentine's and Chap Goh Meh (the Chinese version of Valentine's and also the last day of the Chinese New Year) coincided on the same day.

There were some workplace shenanigans going on during that day. Siew turned out to be pretty handy with a pen and post-it during a conference call. At least she managed to put a smile (literally too!) no our team mate.

The office resembled a florist's shop with bouquets of flowers and stuffed toys propped up at cubicles. This lucky girl received one of the sweetest gifts I'd ever seen and quite a number of people crowded around her cube oooh-ing and aaah-ing over the effort her other half put in for the present: handmade paper figurines complete with a moveable lever that makes the couple "kiss". Her other half has easily set the benchmark pretty high for other guys, huh? :)

And because Siew and I were devastated that our husbands refused to be swayed by mass commercialism, we treated ourselves to Starbucks green tea fraps. Look at what sad cases we are to persuade the barista to cheer up our drinks, LOL.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

5 Things

Here is a round up of tiny and not so tiny things that made my heart beat faster this week.

I made crepes (well technically, I prepped the batter while Hubs did the frying) and served it with home made berry coulis and double cream. It was out of the world fantastic! Bubs and I were scoffing them down faster than poor Hubs could churn those delectable morsels out.

We started growing a pot of ladies fingers (okra) from seed and Bubs was thrilled to see them grow. After the flowers wilt, we watched entranced to see little ladies fingers growing out. I steamed them with some chilli sambal.

Stripes are the new neutrals. Mixing a striped tee with a floral pencil skirt.

I saw the cutest items at Daiso: a crab chopstick rest, the tiniest porcelain jug (perfect for maple syrup with pancakes) and a mint green plate. Siew dragged me away from them, firmly pointing out that I don't even have chopsticks at home *pouts*

Found these Topshop gold jacquard ballet flats at 50% off - such a bargain because I'd already been lusting over them when they were at full price. The pink and pink ombre beaded necklace was a find at Forever 21 and also comes in an equally gorgeous version of turquoise and mint.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Bub's kindergarten had a Chinese New Year celebration where all of the parents were invited for a small pot luck and a lion dance. I felt a bit guilty that nearly most of the children were decked out in Chinese costumes and Bubs wasn't wearing anything remotely festive.

My lil lion running around while waiting for the big ones to arrive :)

I was really surprised to see three lions perform: two big ones and a smaller one (which was performed by kids that looked like they were in primary school) as I've usually only seen them in pairs before. The lions were super friendly and interacted very well with the children.

They had some fun messing around with the children by teasing them. One of the lions even "ate" up a little boy by snapping him up with the jaws.

Bubs was apprehensive at first and still hasn't made up his mind if he likes lion dances or not. The only way he would go near them was if I carried him with his arm curled tightly around my shoulders. The lions were distributing sweets and chocolate coins so Bubs bravely put his hand to the lion's mouth (literally!) for some treasure. I thought he was a lot braver than me when I was his age - I still have memories of my Mum persuading me in vain to stand next to the lions for a photo and I'd steadfastly refuse. 

My favourite part of the lion dance: the lions reaching up to eat the lettuce in an acrobatic finale. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bits and Bobs

Trying to incorporate more accessories into my weekend outfits and also mixing and matching a couple of Chinese New Year additions for my wardrobe.

I was ooh-ing and aah-ing over this pair of Charles and Keith heels, trying to decide if I should get such an impractical pair of platform stilettos ... until Aussie Godma showed me a pair of heels that she fell in love with online ... and they were the exact same pair! I took it as a sign that it was meant to be.

Who would have ever thought that coral and green would go together? Hubs says they don't but I don't really care, I like the bright pop of colours together.

I've got this Dorothy Perkins bonded lace dress in white and ink blue so when it was re-released in navy and black, I couldn't resist getting another one. The muted colour would be perfect for office wear.

Have a happy weekend, peeps!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading Time

The book lover in me thinks that one of the perks of having a child is the excuse to get more even more books, especially beautifully illustrated picture books *be still, my beating heart* I don't remember having that many picture books when I was Bub's age though we'd heaps of hard cover slim Ladybird books which had equally gorgeous drawings in them.

Apart from staples like Eric Carle, Julia Donaldson and Emily Gravett (thank you Borders and MPH), it's difficult to find good picture books in Penang and given the high prices, it's not that surprising. We rely a lot on to get our picture book fix but I find that shipping can be unreliable at times. When my Mum was coming back from Singapore, I immediately asked for books for Bubs and she didn't disappoint!

David Wiesner is a recent discovery and even Hubs, who likes all things arty, found The Three Pigs to be bloomin' brilliant. It took a while for Bubs to understand how the pigs "escaped" out but the clever use of space, drawing techniques and wit quickly made this a favourite read. I can't wait to get more David Wiesner books!

Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is the kind of book parents will either love or loathe. I thought it was the perfect example of unconditional love and I choked up over some heartbreaking bits in the book - which Hubs thought I was being overly reading too much within the lines :p Bubs probably didn't really understand the story much but this is definitely a keeper ... and a guilty reminder that I didn't pay my parents back for the books ... opppps ....

I get a quiet glow in seeing Bubs going over to his bookshelf to pull out a book by himself and lose himself in the pleasure of pouring over the pictures, flipping through the pages, talking about the story aloud

Sunday, February 2, 2014

May the Horse be with You

I can't help reminiscing upon how much Bubs has grown up through each Chinese New Year festival. From being a bald little chubby tubby to taking his wobbly steps and now being able to carry a semi decent conversation with relatives.


It was his first time trying kuih bangkit and he enjoyed it so much. He kept choosing the animal shapes and at one point, his whole mouth was stuffed full of the sweet, powdery biscuits.

I got myself a bunch of tops this year and can't wait to wear them all with coloured jeans. For the first time since Bubs was born, I managed to hobble around in 3" stilettos.

My parents had the usual yearly Chinese New Year do at their place. This glass horse statue was a hit with all the children this year for obvious reasons.

When I was smaller, I never did understand why the older aunts and uncles would look at my cousins and me playing and say "awww, look at the next generation playing together". This year, after watching Bubs with his cousins and listening to my aunt (who has since been promoted to grand aunt) sigh the same thing, I feel that same contentment mixed with wistfulness over how fast the next generation seems to be growing up.

For some reason, Bubs is terrified of sparklers this year. He was perfectly fine with it last Chinese New Year but this year, after holding them for a few seconds, he threw them onto the ground and ran away squealing.


We'd a bunch of friends over and I was delighted that Bubs was able to play nicely and share his toys for a while, without kicking up too much of a fuss.

Happy Chinese New Year, peeps!
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