Monday, March 31, 2014

Tying String Around Ice

Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.” - Carl Sagan.

This quote is the reason why I'm so adamant about giving Bubs the gift of curiousity and wonder. What better way to do that than through on hands experience?

We loosely based this ice and salt experiment on this post. I asked Bubs how would you tie a piece of string around an ice?

We set out our supplies to solve this puzzle. 

You'll need:
An ice block
Some salt
Piece of string

And of course, a photographer to document every step ;)

We talked about water, what would happen in you put water into the freezer and if an ice block felt hot or cold. Then Bubs set off to do his task, attempting to tie a piece of string around the ice.

It slipped out of his hand and then frustrated, he put the ice on the table and attempted to wrap the string around it.

I then nudged Bubs to the dish of salt. I asked him to put a finger in, taste it and tell me what he thought it was. "Salt!" he exclaimed. I asked him to sprinkle some of the salt onto the ice and see what will happen. To his delight, the smooth surface of the ice started to melt and form ridges. The more he sprinkle the salt on top of the string, the more ridges there were. I explained that salt melts ice. We attempted to see if the string would sink into the ice block and if it'll refreeze over it so we could lift it out neat but since it wouldn't, we attempted plan B.

With the grooves formed around the string, I helped him lift it up and knotted the string. around it. To his surprise, it stayed fast and did not slip.

A closer look at how pretty and crystalline it was. Mission accomplished :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Going Green

Hubs sometimes call me paranoid because I'm a constant worrier of toxins and so-called unnatural chemicals all around us. I am in the midst of swapping all our plasticware to freezable glass containers (Daiso has nice stackable ones); I changed my moisturisers to plain ol' argan oil and tamanu oil, works just as well, a lot cheaper plus no nasties inside. 

The only stuff I've been unable to cut out from my lifestyle are my beauty products. Let's face it, I'm all for natural beauty as much as as anyone but ... I've dark eye bags, blotchy and tired looking skin just to name a few. I have been on the lookout for more green beauty products and found that Pure Tincture, a Singaporean beauty website that focuses on natural skin and beauty items, ships to Malaysia. Yay!

The staff are friendly and took great pains to answer my questions via e-mail and over the phone. Plus my cousin Jean also wanted a lipstick so we shared shipping costs together.

I settled on Alima Pure Satin Matte foundation in Beige 2 Straw. It's a pure powder foundation which I wanted to use over sunblock and contains only 4 ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica, iron oxides. Jean and I ordered an Ilia lip conditioner each (hers was  Blossom Lady and mine was Crimson & Clover). Pure Tincture also threw in a handful of samples for us. 

I wanted to love the Alima foundation, given the price, but unfortunately, I think I'm allergic to something inside it. I broke out into a rash the next day, which is kind of odd as I don't have particularly sensitive skin. I've read a couple of reviews and it seems that some people have less than awesome skin reactions to mineral powders. The itch on my face was so bad that I'd to take a Zyrtec and I didn't dare apply anything to it except fresh aloe vera :( I'm sorely tempted to give it another go in hopes that it's all in my mind ...

The Ilia lip conditioner, on the other hand, received huge thumbs up from Jean and I ... well, apart from the high SGD exchange rate. The silver, minimalist lipstick case is from recycled aluminum and has a nice, solid feel to it. I originally wanted to pick a lipstick because lip conditioners always gave me the impression that the colours weren't intensive enough but I'm really glad I went with the Ilia lip conditioner: it is anything but sheer! It contains vitamin E, cocoa butter and jojoba oil but the texture is pretty similar to most lipsticks. 

Crimson & Clover is a fresh, pop of red and can be pigmented, depending on how heavy handed you are during application. I'd describe it as a cheerful hibiscus red without any berry tones or blue-reds in this. I'm now hooked onto Ilia's lip conditioners and can't wait to get more ... though this time, I'd probably wait for the currency exchange rate to drop a little first!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Image credit

This beautifully written post sums up everything that I'm feeling.

May love be the balm that soothes all souls. Please give your loved ones an extra tight hug and tell them how much they mean to you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


We've reached yet another milestone which makes me feel thrilled that Bubs is now toilet trained at night ... and wistful that my little baby is growing up so fast. Night toilet training was something that Hubs and I have been postponing for quite a while because we usually have night conference calls so we dreaded the idea of getting up in the middle of the night to wake Bubs up to go to the loo.

After we've finished yet another huge packet of Mamy Poko, Hubs put a stop to it and said no more diapers. Period. I grumbled, I groaned, I tried to persuade him to re-consider, maybe a few more months later, Bub's bladder would be stronger enough to sleep through the night but Hubs was adament. We spoke to Bubs about it, repeatedly reminding him that he could no longer wee in his bed and Bubs kept saying okay.

Hubs actually set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night just to get Bubs to go to the loo. I blissfully slept through it so it fell to Hubs to do the dirty work ;) The first few times were comical, Hubs would wake up Bubs and as Hubs turned his back to get out of the bed, Bubs flopped back into bed like a starfish and continued snoring.

It is now Day 5 and with the exception of one incident (note to myself: cut out heavy liquids before bedtime), Bubs has been proudly diaper free! I've promised him a special something if he's able to keep this up ;)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mum's Birthday at Auntie Gaik Lean's Old School Eatery

Last weekend was my Mum's birthday and since we've been wanting to try this new Nonya restaurant so we figured it was the perfect occasion to go.

I wore this maxi frock from Dorothy Perkins and I love how swishy the skirt feels plus the pretty floral print, which my Mum said reminds her of Vietnam.

You know how people always talk about what a small world is it? It turned out that Auntie Gaik Lean's husband is my Mum's long lost friend that she hadn't seen since the 70s. They didn't have whatsapp/Facebook/e-mail back in the dark ages so they were pretty excited to catch up :) Guess that was a pretty good birthday present for her. For those of you familiar with Penang back in the good ol' days, the shop lots used to belong to BP de Silvia jewelers and you'll be pleased to see that a lot of the original fixtures are kept.

A round up of the more interesting drinks we had that night (left to right) nutmeg punch, ang thng chooi (rose syrup) with chia seeds and check this out: an old school Sprite glass bottle! I asked if we could bring the bottle back but unfortunately, they have to return it back to the distributors. Anyone knows where can I find another one of these? Bubs was mystified with the floating chia seeds (or are they basil seeds?) in the rose drink and kept asking what were they. I told him they were frogspawn and soon, little tadpoles and froggies would swim about in his tummy ;)

We ordered quite a number to sample. There was kerabu rice and kerabu beehoon (my absolute favourites, whenever in doubt at a Nonya restaurant, I always go for these!), we'd a variety of fried and spiced goodies, from inche kabin (marinated fried chicken), otak otak (steamed spicy fish cakes), joo hu char (shredded turnip and cuttlefish stir fry) to a simple onion omelette for Bubs. The food was good, a bit on the pricey side but made up with the fab environment.


For birthday cakes, you can never go wrong with Mon Delice. This time around, we tried their Earl Grey cake and to make it look more celebratory, I plonked a Lego minifig on top of it. This lil Mexican guy is from the Lego Movie (which we brought Bubs to go watch) and Bubs promptly claimed it for himself.

Happy Birthday, Mum!

Auntie Gaik Lean's Old School Eatery
No.1, Bishop Street
Penang, Malaysia
Phone: +6042638121 / 0124492121

Friday, March 21, 2014

Milk Marbling

After reading this brilliant post, I thought Bubs would have fun with milk marbling. It's easy to set up and highly entertaining.

You'll need:
A dish/tray
Food colouring
A cotton bud
Dish washing liquid
Good quality paper (optional)

We poured enough milk to just about cover the large dish. Bubs then squeezed a few drops of food colouring into the milk at random spots.

The magic occurs when you dip the cotton bud into dish washing liquid and gently touch the food colouring with the tip of the cotton bud. Right before your eyes, the food colouring just wooshes into beautiful patterns.

There's a proper scientific theory for this that I'm still struggling to comprehend myself. It has something to do with milk being fat ... and dish washing liquid breaks up grease? So it sends all the colours whizzing away?

If you want to preserve the pretty marbling effect, use a piece of good quality paper and gently press it onto the milk and colours. We didn't get so much of a circular marbling because the milk was running though we did end up with a very abstract, gorgeous effect that I can't stop staring at. The original blog post recommended watercolour paper but it was too expensive so we used a better grade of drawing block that could withstand the gentle soaking.

The original blog post also cautioned that some people found that the paper dipped in milk had a funny scent to it and also recommended almond milk instead. We found that after leaving the paper under the blistering hot Malaysian sun, all the pieces dried fully and there wasn't any smell.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ipoh Part II

Julie Song and her family have that Midas touch when it comes to food, drinks and art. Since we left pieces of our hearts behind at their previous cafes, we were fairly excited to hear that they'd open a 3rd cafe just next to both Buku Tiga Lima and Burps & Giggles. I credit them with rejuvenating the whole strip of once neglected and dilapidated shop houses. The area there now houses more cafes, including Plan B.

Taking a step into Missing Marbles is like stumbling into Alice's Wonderland. It is a curious and curiouser concoction of whimsical, vintage and art. Even the red tiled five foot way outside the cafe has a carefully sketched out hopscotch - which Bubs and I couldn't resist hopping on ;)

The place used to be an optical shop and gives a new meaning to the word shabby chic. I mean, just take a look at the walls and furnishings. Layers of old paint are streaked across the concrete walls and the connecting door between Buku Tiga Lima and Missing marbles looked like it was untouched since the 50s. For the nostalgic, you can find old school round metal tables and stools that used to be popular at outdoor hawker centres before plastic was mass manufactured.

And of course, true to its name, rows of marbles-filled glass jars as well as other brick-abrac stretch across an old wood and glass shelf.


Check out the colourful paper origami fortune tellers covered wall. These used to be a hit during primary school.

If Burps & Giggle's forte is the burgers and Buku Tiga Lima's is their crepes, Missing Marbles focuses on Asian inspired quick lunches. There is a variety of noodles, rice dishes, satay and even rojak on offer. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to order food from the other cafes. 

The soya bean drink is from the famed Ipoh Funny Mountain which we are huge fans of. I naturally requested the spicy soup for the Hakata Ramen (RM18) and loved the tender, melt in the mouth slices of lamb roulade. The soup wasn't fiery hot but had a pleasant kick to it. The noodles and soft boiled egg was done to perfect and the accompanying small plate of preserved vegetables added a nice, salty-sour tang.

Hubs had the slow braised lamb belly ribs with calrose rice (RM18) upon their recommendation and we also figured it should be a Bubs friendly dish which he could share. When the dish was served, Hubs and I stared at the dish with our eyebrows raised. The empire of Julie usually serves food prettily plated but this was very ... should I call it minimalist? Hubs changed his mind after a mouthful of the deliciously soft, strong gamey flavours of the lamb, rice and egg. He enjoys his Asian styled braised meats and this dish certainly met his standards. Hubs also helped himself to the preserved vegetables meant for the Hakata Ramen and summed up that this was like a fusion version of kau yoke.


We popped over to the back of the cafe to see their latest venture, the Bits & Bobs stall. It sells literally that: bits and bobs! On sale are vintage items as such old hub caps, toys, posters and a range of snacks that wouldn't look out of place at an 80s sundry shop. The ice ball and ice potong (stick ice creams) caught my eye and I couldn't resist having one of each. There are long, wooden benches (a very school canteen touch) placed outside for customers to enjoy icy treats.

The cempedak ice potong (RM3) was a welcome respite from the scorching heat and it was a more grown up version with fruit chunks and a creamy texture. Bubs and I enjoyed this one a lot.

The ice ball had more sophisticated flavours than the ones during our parents' time. Plus you don't have to worry about the hygiene factor here: the staff wears plastic gloves while shaping the ice ball and hands it over to you on a piece of brown waxed paper. There were flavours like ice lemon tea, roselle ... we settled on gula melaka with a whole lychee nestled inside (RM3). Bubs had so much fun slurping on the ice ball with gusto. The older gentleman siting on the bench next to us commented that during his time, it was only 10 cents for one ;) I asked my Mum about it and she said during her time, it was only 5 cents plus the centre of the ice ball was filled with red beans!

Bits & Bobs also sell locks for their love lock wall at RM15 with a portion of the sale price going towards charity. The locks are painted in funky colours and a Sharpie is provided for you to pen a message on before locking it to the grid.

The Indian barber apparently used to have a shop around this area 30 years ago and with business booming at the new cafes, he was invited back to operate at a small, air conditioned premise just behind the cafes. I was lucky to chance upon a customer at the New Star Salon getting a trim and snapped a quick picture.

Missing Marbles (pork-free)
99, Jalan Sultan Yussuf,
Ipoh, Perak.
Tel No: +605-241 1564

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ipoh Part I

We took a wee road trip back to Ipoh again - yes, we are very much obsessed with the cafes there. Bubs was rubbing his hands with glee at the thought of feeding the fish and tortoises there.

As we arrived too early for lunch, we headed to Indulgence for a light brunch. I've always liked how calm and tranquil the gardens there are when it's early.

Hubs originally wanted the ricotta hotcakes but was too starving to wait for 25 minutes so we settled on the interestingly titled Purr (RM33). The portion was a lot smaller than expected but at one bite, all 3 of us fell silent in awe. Bubs of course loved the fresh plum slices and fluffy sweet brioche. Hubs and I found the pairing of lamb bacon (imagine that!) with soft ricotta in addition to the crunchy deep fried mint leaves to be a creative genius's work of art.

We topped it off with a small chocolate cheese tart that had the right balance of sweetness and richness.

Off to a quick visit at Sam Poh Tong to burn off some calories and so Bubs can stretch his legs running around there.

A must do for Bubs - feeding the fish at the temple grounds. This time around, we were smarter to find a sheltered spot to stand away from the burning rays of the sun. Plus as there were less people there feeding, tiny schools of fish flocked eagerly to gulp at the food. Hubs probably had more fun than Bubs as he was trying to skim the dried bread pieces across the water.

This time around and probably due to the extreme hot weather, the tortoise pen wasn't that well maintained. Bundles of kangkung clogged up the pond and the tortoises didn't look interested with the abundance of vegetables lying around. We did spot a pack of wild monkeys that had made the long trek down the limestone caves to scavenge for food. I was attracted to the mama monkeys carrying their young around securely and the baby monkeys had such wizened but innocent looks.

After that, onward to the main reason why we made this Ipoh road trip ...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

They Grow Up So Quickly

Every now and then when Bubs is fast asleep at night, I take a long, wistful look at him, I kiss his slimmed down cheeks, all traces of baby fat long gone, rub my hand against his boyish shear cut at the back of his head and inhale in the soft, clean scent of him ... and I wonder, how did time go by so fast? I feel like we're zipping so fast along in life so fast that from a chubby baby that cried each time he was hungry, he has turned into a lean little boy with steadfast opinions.

Sometimes I tell him, "Bubs, stop growing up so fast. I just want to freeze time so you can be my little baby forever" and he'd squirm away from my embrace and angrily retort "But I WANT to grow up fast!"

He now likes to press himself against us and say "Look, I'm nearly as big as you" or if we're sitting down, he compares our leg lengths and again point out that he's catching up with us.

This week's Zits comic strip was both thought provoking and being a sappy mummy, I literally teared up at it. All of our favourite books were listed and yes, Harold and the Purple Crayon is an all time repeated read during bedtime. I can only hope that when Bubs grow up, like Jeremy Duncan, he'd have warm, fuzzy memories of his childhood.

Signing this note off with a photo of Bubs playing with both Nats that pulls yet again at my heartstrings. He looks so earnest, focused like a big little boy but his Superman outfit still shouts out that he'll always be my baby.

And because every superhero needs his mummy to hold his hand :) Love you always, Bubs.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Heart Aflutter

One of the cons of having friends with similar tastes is that you often end up spending more than you originally planned for. I'd shown this Dorothy Perkins maxi dress to my cousin Jean and before I knew it, she excitedly called me to let me know about the members store wide 20% discount and that there was ONLY just 1 dress left in my size. Of course I'd to ask her to put it on hold for me at the counter! It's so hard for me to find a maxi dress that doesn't make me look like a midget in it due to the length and what is cool about this dress is that it has smocking at the back and a waist tie so I was sort of able to tuck the excess fabric under the waist tie if I plan to wear these with flats.

've been looking for an affordable neoprene pencil dress ever since I discovered Clover Canyon so when I saw Dorothy Perkin's version, plus at 20% off, it was hard to say no to. I like the sweet little bird prints plus the pop of pink blossoms against the gray background makes reminds me of cheongsam fabric.

Can't exactly blame Jean for this so I shall lay the blame on Hubs instead. After discovering that he'd never eaten koala bear biscuits as a kid, I bought him his first pack ... and he became hooked onto them after that! It's our thing to look out for the seasonal, limited edition flavours and part of the fun, is the cute packaging.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Just Balls at the Mugshot

As much as I loved the wood fired bagels at the Mugshot, I avoid the place during weekends because of the crowd and loooong wait time. Hubs recently met up with Eve for lunch last week and couldn't stop raving about the fantastic meatballs so he ended up dragging Bubs and me there on a Sunday morning.

Meatballs are only served starting from 12 noon so since we arrived pretty early, we had a smoked salmon bagel to starve off hunger pangs and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

At this point, we were ravenous but the meatball staff arrived late that day. The moment we saw the guy rush in, Hubs immediately walked over to place his order. We initially wanted the meatball spaghetti (RM14) but the guy warned us that it'll be an even longer wait so we settled on just balls (RM7). Hubs had the brilliant idea of going to the front to place an order for 2 more bagels with cream cheese, which he assured me would go perfectly with the meatballs.

At this point, Bubs was beginning to get antsy so we looked around for something that would cheer him up a little.

We found a fruit juice bar tucked at the back of the cafe and placed an order for a grape yogurt shake (RM13). I'd have preferred jackfruit but they ran out of it.

Bubs and I gave this a huge thumbs up but Hubs shuddered at the taste of the yogurt - which is freshly made by themselves and the drink was unsweetened. Bubs hugely enjoyed the fresh grapes in the drink and munched on them happily.

Finally, the meatballs were served; Hubs requested a serving of beef and lamb meatballs each which came topped with a serving of tomato based sauce and a fresh herb sprinkle. I took a small bite and chewed thoughtfully. The burst of taste, texture and beautiful gravy just swept me over. These ... could ... be ... possibly ... the BEST meatballs ever in the whole of Penang. The tomato sauce was a perfect complement for the strong, gamey taste of lamb and the meatballs had a nice ratio of meat to fat, making it chewy plus flavourful. I tried the beef version but still prefer the lamb meatballs.

After watching Hubs spread his meatballs around on his bagel and tucking in into them, making appreciative noises; I tentatively followed suit.

Hoo boy. What a revelation it was!

The tangy sauce and firm meatballs went really well with the crisp bagels covered with cream cheese. I think I like this version a lot better than the spaghetti or mashed potatoes. If the wait wasn't that crazy, I think I could have easily polished off a few more of these. We are planning on making this a weekly ritual plus I can foresee tah pao-ing a few sets back to store at home to spice up an aglio olio one day.
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