Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Full of Hot Air

Our little family usually sleep in on weekends, it's our thing. After a long, hard week of school and work, weekends are meant for ignoring the alarm clock, reluctantly dragging ourselves out from bed only when Bubs demand breakfast and groggily shuffling around until close to lunch.

So when we uncharacteristically woke up at 6.30am on a Sunday morning - Bubs drew open the curtains and exclaimed "It's still night!" - we could only be headed to one place: the first Penang Hot Air Balloon festival held at the polo grounds.

We had so much fun! We were surprised at how everyone was given unrestricted access to stand right next to the balloons and could see them being inflated and deflated right in front of us. Most of the balloons carried 3 tall gas tanks which were used to power up huge flames so hot that we could feel the heat. Just next to the polo ground was a giant Petronas gas tanker and also, very prudently, a fire engine just next to it. City council wagons were used to ferry refilled gas tanks and also anchor the hot air balloons down.

The RM25 tickets to go up in a 5 minute (tethered to the ground though) hot air balloon ride sold like hot cakes. Ticket sales were supposed to start at 7.15am but apparently sold out even before 7am, all 180 of them even though each person was restricted to a ticket each. Penang lang definitely know that the early bird always catches the worm ;)

Bubs was torn between his curiousity and fear of the giant jets of flame that roared to get a closer look at the hot air balloons. I loved the perfect symmetry, the bright colours and the overall vibe. As the field was wide and spacious, it wasn't too crowded yet and we enjoyed walking around, goggle eyed with amazement.

The Darth Vader balloon was the highlight of the event and drew a flock of admirers. Even Bubs overcame his fear to go have a closer look at it.

The crew of Humpty Dumpty were so nice. They allowed the members of the public to form a line and climb into the basket to take a photo with the pilot.

There were other friendly balloonists around as well that did the same. Here's a pic of Bubs and me to a hot air balloon in my well, hot air balloon print dress :D It was a lovely gift from Aussie Godma and I couldn't think of a more appropriate place to wear it to.

A guy was making the most ginormous bubbles ever with a pair of sticks and some string. It was a lovely, windy day so the bubbles flew out with such ease that the crowd went wild for them. People of all ages, young and old, chased the bubbles and raised their fingers to the air, trying to pop them.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

CNY Peek-tures

Just some random peeks into our Chinese New Year for 2015. This year's celebrations were especially good: Hubs' grandma (in her 90s) recovered from her hip replacement enough to be mobile on her walking frame. It was so heart warming to see Bubs rush over without prompting to help her lift the heavy metal walker patiently, step by step, that everyone kept quiet for a moment. A few of my closest friends whom I haven't seen literally in years flew back from abroad. All of Bubs' cousins came back just in time as well.

I'm stuck in a rut when it comes to decorating for festivals and I admit, I do it more for Bubs than for ourselves just so he'd feel happy. Bubs and I went around collecting fallen twigs and branches around our area for the centrepiece.

Poon Choy seems to be all the rage this year and MIL gave it a go this year for the reunion dinner. It was my first time eating it and I'd describe it as a high class claypot rice - but without the rice. Layers of broccoli, lotus root (my favourite), Chinese mushrooms, duck, prawns and random shell fish all braised in a stew.

Ever year, it gets blazing hot during Chinese New Year and this year was no exception. I ditched skinnies and pencil skirts in favour of this coral flowy maxi skirt, a white singlet and sky blue H&M fabric flats. Effortlessly cool - literally!

My aunt's friend invited us over to enjoy her apartment's pool and Bubs along with his cousins went bananas there. They loved the tiny stretch of sand along the kiddies pool and spent ages there building sand castles.

Bubs overcame his water phobia enough to be coaxed down the baby slide. Sun, sand and shallow water ... what more could we ask for? ;)

I got a Daiso chopstick training set for Bubs after he saw his cousin who's just a year older than him using chopsticks with ease. Bubs was thrilled to bits and used them a bit like tweezers to pick up his food, LOL.

Kelly had a lion dance at her place so we jumped at the chance for Bubs to watch one up close and personal. He's a lot braver than me at his age - I can still remember being petrified of the lions and refusing to even stand next them for a photo. Bubs gamely stood close to them and even petted their rump, LOL. He went through a growth spurt so he shot up quite a bit in height, becoming longer and leaner. His cheeks still wobble a lil when he runs so I hope he doesn't outgrow that too soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bub's CNY Celebration at School

Gong Xi Fa Chai everyone and may the year of the goat brings everyone love, health and wealth! Here's a quick post of the Chinese new year celebration that Bub's school had last week.Hubs and I are beginning to see the rhythm to each festival.

The children started out with songs and dances. They particularly loved this one called the "scarf dance" where they swished around little fabric squares of pink and yellow.

Bubs, to our surprise, burst into tears during the dance and started sobbing for Hubs. It took quite a lot of cajoling for him to complete his performance.

During the break,  all the parents were invited outside for some CNY goodies. See the small basket of ribbon kuih in between the mandarins and kuih kapit? The children proudly made it themselves while the Auntie helped them to fry it.

The festival was concluded with a puppet show by the teachers. I've to admit, I'm always impressed by the miniature props they manage to do. Look at that intricate lion and the tiny decorations on the house!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

All Geared Up for CNY: Bub's Version

Bub's guide to getting all prepared for Chinese New Year *ahem* prioritised by importance according to a 5 year old.

Mummy and Daddy talk a lot about new clothes (boring), spring cleaning the house (I don't think they appreciated me helping out by pouring soap on the floor) but what SHOULD be important would be new toys to bring in an abundance of even more toys in the year of the goat.

Mummy says her friends even got new bedsheets (every kid knows that you only need bedsheets when you want to play at camping) but you know what you REALLY need during bedtime? A warm cuddle together with a good bedtime story. I like it best when Daddy pretends to be the bad guy and I get to be the hero who saves the world. Daddy says Mummy is weird to get a Christmas book for Chinese New Year but Mummy pointed out that it's a cool pop up book which is my favourite kind.

This year, I'm a 5 year old big boy so I'm really good at counting ang pows. Let me show you: twenty seven, twenty eight, twenty nine, twenty ten! Mummy reminds me to say thank you after receiving them. Mummy and I have the best partnership - I get all the colourful, fun packets (look at that Lego one!) while she takes away the paper slips inside them. Daddy says it's not long before I become wiser. Hmmm, I guess it means next time when I'm an even bigger boy, I get to eat the Chinese New Year cookies and keep the red packet envelopes?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mid Week Pick Up

Because there are days when mummy needs a super hero, regardless of how insanely cute or crafty he is.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fashion Friday: A Touch of Whimsy

Whenever friends ask - have you finished your CNY shopping, I go pfffffft. CNY shopping? It can never be finished, it's always a work in progress ;) Each time I tell myself, that's it ... then I spot another item on sale or another must have.

If you love whimsical prints as much as I do, you'll fall head over heels at Princess Diary. I was a worried that *ahem* being the age I am, whether the prints would be a lil too cutesy or kitschy (or both?!) but ... *shrugs* carpe diem!

If I can't own an entire collection of mismatched vintage teacups, I'll just have to get the printed top then :) The slouchy fit is so comfy and the pale robins egg colour goes well with most of the stuff in my already bursting at the seams wardrobe.

The first time I saw this cherry print skirt at the Queensbay outlet, the customer in front of me bought it right away and they didn't have another one. I went to the Gurney Paragon store and lo and behold, another customer placed it on the counter and was paying for it. It was like groundhog day! Thankfully, they had another one in stock so I eagerly grabbed it. Bubs loves the cute prints and pretended to pluck cherries from it to pop into his mouth :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ong Cheng Huat Seafood

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there were no smartphones and only very few people had GPS devices. Back then, we relied on ... maps! *gasp shock horror* We'd actually download maps from Google, print them out and squint at them in the car so that pretty much limited the number of places that Hubs and I would venture to.

To the inventor of Waze, thank you very much. We'd never found Ong Cheng Huat Seafood on the mainland without it. It received so many rave reviews that we invited MIL and SIL to join us on this food hunt so we could order more dishes to share.

Ong Cheng Huat has recently moved to a building just right next to the old location. As with all good food places in Penang, it gets packed very fast so try to reach there before 12 noon.

The new building is a lot cleaner, spacious and better ventilated with lots of ceiling fans. The wait staff that took orders were equipped with tablets, I kid you not.

We went with all of the dishes that everyone else was ordering. Clockwise from the top: spring chicken, stir fried noodles, clams in a sour-ish gravy, steamed octopus garnished with fried garlic. And of course, Hub's thumbs up. The food were served almost at lightning speed.

Take a look at that tall mug of milky goodness at the top left corner, it's actually tuak, aka coconut toddy (palm wine). It's a bit hard to find these days and since it was a specialty of theirs, SIL agreed to share with me a cup of it. It tasted deceptively mild, almost like fizzy coconut-flavoured cider. I didn't realise how potent it was until later in the day, I ended up with a bad hangover :(

The prawn fritters were nice and crunchy, most of an appetizer or a light snack than an actual main dish by itself.

The piece de resistance: steamed fish in a mildly spicy and sour broth. The ang sai (snapper) was fresh and so tender that Bubs got over his fear of all things spicy and asked for more helpings of this. The only downside to this magnificent dish was that Ong Cheng Huat does not, I repeat again, does NOT serve steamed rice at its restaurant :( The gravy was too good to be wasted that we just drank it straight from the dish as a soup.

Ong Cheng Huat Seafood
2004 Bagan Lallang 13400 Butterworth Penang
Opening hours: 11am - 5.30pm (Closed on Monday)
Telephone: 04 3314782, 6012-453 5188

Sunday, February 8, 2015

CNY Snacking

With just a couple of weeks to go before CNY, we've been indulging in our favourite CNY activity: the endless snacking, mmmmm ... Apart from baby mandarins, our favourites this year are the perennial pineapple tarts and meat floss nestled in kuih kapit.

If you thought kuih kapit alone was perfection, you HAVE to give these with meat floss tucked in a try. It's sweet, crispy on the outside but salty candy-floss texture inside, kind of like salted caramel but way more addictive. I may or may not have finished an entire tin by myself *shifty eyes*

My brother's gf's mum makes the best-est pineapple tarts that I've tried this year. They are the right mixture of butter-y egg-y goodness and so bite-sized that each time we walk into the kitchen, we can't help popping one ... or two ... or more ;)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


When I was little, my Mum would take us to see Thaipusam every year. The crowds, hot sun and loud music were terrifying - I always lived in fear of my hand slipping out of her tight grasp and getting lost. On the other hand (pun intended), I loved the sense of joy and thanksgiving emitting from the Hindu devotees and of course, the large, colourful kavadis carried.

It's funny now as I get older, I want Bubs to grow up with his own recollections of these festivals. The leafy tree-lined road was packed with people walking, most of them robed in beautiful traditional wear. Quite a number of them walked barefooted and some carried tiny steel pots of milk for thanksgiving.

I baby toddler child wore Bubs in our trusty old Ergo and I didn't want to lose him in the massive crowd and he relished not having to walk in the stifling heat. I, in turn, was scared of losing Hubs who was holding onto to my mobile and wallet so I resorted to tugging on Hub's backpack to let him know that we were behind him.

Bub's eyes went as round as saucers as he saw all the kavidis carried by devotees making their way down the road towards the temple on their annual pilgrimage. The scores of people, the pulsating drumbeats and the scent of broken coconuts were such an experience for him.

Amidst the bustle, we spotted a teenager sitting quietly under the shade of an enormous tree completing a watercolour of the temple.

There were devotees that had literally hooked onto dozens of tiny metal pots into their skin and walking barefoot amongst the crowds.

What amazed me was how they managed to not only carry the heavy kavadis, walk under the scorching sun with piercings through their bodies but they also broke into trance-like swirls, whirling round and round in front of the the statures of the Hindu gods.

It was definitely an eye opener for Bubs and let's hope, the maker of memories for many years to come :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Getting into the Mood

I've been taking some little pockets of quiet time recently just to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. SSG sent me a text which I kept re-reading and brought me to my senses: she reminded me of that slippery struggle for balance that no one ever tells you about in antenatal classes. I thought that giving birth was the hard part but it turns out that it's all too easy to get a bit overwhelmed with work, house and family commitments.

I stocked up on a pile of new paperbacks that I devour greedily whenever I can find the time. I'm only into a couple of chapters of Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement and it's been such a pleasure to snuggle up in bed, a bag of crisps (or two) and with the air con offering respite from the heat outside.

Sad to say, these days whenever I step into a retail outlet, I keep thinking to myself ooooh, get this before GST starts in April - which is how I justified these pair of silver glittery sandals. Hubs wryly remarked that I could perhaps click my heels 3 times in these and be whisked away to Oz. Hardy har har.

I stole a bag of these baby mandarins from my parents' house and they have become Bub's and my favourite quick snack to go to, especially when fresh out of the fridge. I find the flavour of these to be more intense than regular mandarins and they are pretty darn cute :) The tart citrus-y scent is perfect with a cup of iced, ginger molasses tea that my ex-boss brought back from Taiwan for.
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