November 29, 2007

It's beginning to feel like home...

After 3 months at Spottiswoode, we are finally getting a proper sofa and dining table.

Went hunting this past weekend after scouring the papers for good deals and we wound up at Sungei Kadut and Senoko. Visited 5 or 6 shops including the Barang Barang warehouse sale but in the end, we purchased a reasonably-priced glass table we spotted at Om and ordered an L-shaped sofa at Salsal, a store at the new IFC furniture centre.

Both items should be arriving by end of next week, and all that's left now is choosing chairs for the dining table, some curtains or blinds and the softer furnishings like paintings, lamps, decorative items etc.

Yesterday I also started on decorating the Xmas tree...we have el-cheapo ornaments from Ikea and the colours are silver and gold and we added some red touches. It's beginning to feel like home...

November 20, 2007

Ho Chi Minh 2007

We're back from Ho Chi Minh! Had a great time catching up with Joanne and shopping up a storm...although, it was more like shopping up a drizzle because Nick hovered at every shop and gave me dirty looks whenever I bought something!

Joanne and Tarek were great hosts and made us feel at home. It was fun playing with Monster and Mini, their dogs, and the house was huge! Once again, I was amazed at the bike traffic on the road and the bargains that could be found. I hardly shopped for myself this trip, hard to gauge what clothes would fit post-maternity so I bought lots of baby girl clothes...Natalie's wardrobe is set!

I think Nick was bored to tears everytime we went shopping, but I made sure I compensated him for it by ensuring he got to see the Cu Chi Tunnels and visit the War Remnants Museum. He even got a bit of footy in on the last day!

Here are the highlights:

DAY 1 - After dumping our bags, we had a superb pho lunch at a place called "No Delicious, No Pay". Lunch was delicious, so we paid! Then we went off to the supermarket to run some errands and popped by Saigon Square where I picked up some kids clothes. Tea was at a Highlands Coffee joint and then we headed back to Jo's to prepare for the house party she was having that night. A bunch of her friends came over and there were lots of laughs when we started playing "I've never..."

DAY 2 - Started the day with lunch at Bun Ta, a hip noodle joint before proceeding to Ben Thanh market. Joanne had a work appointment, so me and Nick browsed through the market and picked up some retro French posters to put up in our balcony. We shared a so da chanh (lime soda) at Highlands Coffee before I found a kids clothes shop at a shopping centre called ITC. Bought quite a few pieces there before we headed to Joanne's regular beauty salon to have a hair wash, manicure, pedicure and foot treatment. All that for S$27! After changing, we followed Tarek to his self-defence class before having dinner at Xu. The fusion food was so-so but the ambience was nice.

DAY 3 - Nick felt under the weather so me and Jo left him at home while we headed to Chinatown. Bought material at the markets then went to Cho Lon, a wholesale market I had visited last year. Found the shop I had bought loads of bags from last year, but due to lack of Dong, had to restrain myself this time! After that, we headed to Saigon Square again and then a late lunch at Highlands. Joanne picked up some birthday presents at a bookshop and I took away food for dinner. Joanne and Tarek were attending 2 parties that night, but with Nick sick, I opted to stay in with him and watch 'Knocked Up' on DVD.

DAY 4 - Off we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels, where Natalie was rattled by a bumpy 90 min car ride to and fro. Nick crawled through the tunnels and played with tanks while I snapped away. Then we headed back to HCM and picked Joanne up for lunch, which was an Italian affair at the Illy Centro cafe next to Caravelle Hotel. Vandana and Nanki joined us midway, but we left earlier to visit the War Remnants Museum, where Nick was like a kid in a candy store, posing with all the tanks and planes. After that, Joanne brought us to her tailor and I made 6 items for $36! Cheap or what? Can't wait to see if they fit! Dinner was a fine dining affair at Hoi An, where we had traditional Vietnamese food, followed by superb chocolate souffles at Underground. We had some drinks and stayed till closing, where the guys bonded over pool.

DAY 5 - The guys headed to the next door recreation club to play indoor soccer, while Jo swam and I read a book. There was drama in store as Joanne received news that morning that both her designer and brother had gotten into accidents, Jason's one happening in Phuket where he had ridden his bike to. He was ok, but needed some treatment but the guy he hit wanted compensation. Over lunch at Pho 2000, she was calling Singapore and Phuket and trying to assist him in any way she could and eventually he managed to sort things out. We said our goodbyes to Tarek who had a darts competition and then headed back to pack and go to the airport. The new airport is quite nice, but I was thwarted when I wanted to buy alcohol cos' they didn't have the Martini Asti sparkly I was looking for, though they had it at arrivals. So I drowned my sorrows in the dinner onboard, which incidentally was one of the yummiest plane meals I've had. Beef stew with mashed potato and zucchini....yum!

November 10, 2007

Davinia's Wedding

Last night we attended Davinia's wedding at Chijmes Hall...we were so late, almost the last ones to arrive because of the stupid jam down the Chinatown stretch. Took us almost 45 mins to get from home to Chijmes, which would normally take 10 minutes.

When we got there, the couple were just about to make their entrance, so we quickly took our seats. Cousin Tanya and her son Nikhil were at our table, so were Premila and Aaron and Swana and Kevin. Lukey came along and spent the whole night torturing Nikhil...poor boy. A 7 year old being bullied by a 4 year old, because Nikhil was a gentleman and didn't retaliate whenever Luke did something naughty!

Anyways, Davinia was lovely in her wedding gown and subsequent lengha, while Graham was the affable groom. Saw lots of relatives we hadn't seen in a while and some of them were surprised to see me preggers...was fun to see their reactions. Dinner was good and there was dancing after but somehow even though it was a Friday night, people didn't really linger and by 11 something the hall was almost clear. Here are some pix, there rest will be on my Flickr album!

November 9, 2007

Deepavali 2007

This year's Deepavali was pretty low key, didn't go anywhere except the folks' house for dinner. Spent the whole day at home, tidying up and lazing about.

I made breakfast for us, I swear Nick has it good! There was a cheese, tomato and mushroom omelette, grilled tomato, sausauges, baked beans and toast...we were so full after that that we had a late lunch at 4pm! I wore a new dress, one of my online purchases...felt very Mediterranean.

We went over to the folks' after our 'lunch' and then he left to pick up his mum and run an errand with Swana. It was on his way out of the estate that Pedro got into a little fender bender...his first accident.

Some oncoming Toyota Wish was driving down the middle of a two-way street and didn't stop in time and hit Pedro's bumper. The driver and his passengers were all distracted looking up at some shophouse units, nobody paid attention to the road and then 'bang'! Luckily Nick had stopped, but couldn't horn in time and luckily I wasn't in the car, although it was a low impact thing.

Nobody told me about the accident until Swana got back and I told her, Nick's first thought would have probably been, "F**k, am gonna get a Volvo after this!"...and I was right! He said as he was exchanging particulars with the other driver, he was thinking of continental cars...ha ha.

Anyway, poor Pedro needs to go for a little nip/tuck....

November 6, 2007

Recipe: Ayam Buah Keluak

Ayam Buah Keluak

1 cup or 1 portion of garam assam spice mix (see Garam Assam Spice Mix recipe)
2-4 tbsp of oil
½ chicken, cut into 2-inch pieces
10-12 buah keluak nuts, soaked for 2 days
400 ml of water
250 ml of assam water (mixed from 1 tbsp of assam seed)
1 tomato, chopped into 4
1 red chili, cut into half
3 tsp of salt
1 tsp of sugar
8-10 laksa leaves

  1. After the buah keluak has soaked in water for a couple of days, drain them and cut a small opening at the wider ends and put aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot, and pan fry the garam assam spice mix until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken and buah keluak nuts, and stirfry until they are evenly coated.
  4. When the chicken is almost cooked, add the tomato and chili and 250 ml of the water and let it simmer for a couple of minutes, before adding the assam water.
  5. Next, add the laksa leaves, salt and sugar. Stir and simmer for 20 – 25 mins.
  6. Adjust taste and consistency according to your preference by adding more sugar, salt and remaining 150 ml of water. Gravy will thicken on standing.
  7. When satisfied with taste, turn off heat and serve with white rice.

    Serves 4

Recipe: Garam Assam Spice Mix

Mummy was making a batch of pastes yesterday, so I had an impromptu lesson in Garam Assam, which is the base for Buah Keluak and Kuah Nanas...

Garam Assam Spice Mix

12 cm length of galangal (lengkuas), chopped
2 pieces of tumeric, each 5-6 cm long, chopped
Small handful of dried chili, soaked in hot water and chopped
5-6 candlenuts, chopped
18 shallots, chopped
4 sticks of lemongrass, chopped
2 whole garlic, chopped
4-6 tbsp of water

  1. Place all the chopped ingredients in a food processor, and blend into a fine paste. Add a few tablespoons of water if the mixture is too dry for the blender.

  2. The above quantity is enough for 2 whole chickens. The mixture can be divided into 4 portions and frozen for use later.

6 months and counting

Sorry, no new scan of junior this month. We went for the check-up last Monday but she wasn't in a flattering position...all you could see was butt! A flasher at such a young age!

The belly is constantly expanding, I am quite done with maternity clothes though. Got enough outfits to last me at least 7 colour/print themed weeks! I am however gonna start selling a limited collection of maternity clothes ordered from the States, so if you are interested or know anyone who is pregnant, let me know. Hope to start selling after my Ho Chi Minh trip next week, where I will also be sourcing for normal clothes and bags etc too.

The past weekend was one of celebrations. On Saturday, I attended the wedding of Judy and Jalen at IHM Church in Upper Serangoon. Jalen is my cousin's cousin and Nick plays soccer with him on the Timbre United team too. The food at the reception was lovely, catered from Shakuntala's and I nicely whacked the biryani and chicken masala, not to mention 3 different desserts.

In the afternoon, I popped by the Esplanade's Cookie Museum to have tea with Joanne and her cousins Jaime and Karen, who will also be bridesmaids at the upcoming wedding. Had a chocolate concoction, my 4th dessert of the day....all this binging on sweets - I blame junior! Joanne came right after a trial make up session so she looked very glam compared to the rest of us!

At night, it was Judy and Jalen's wedding dinner at Legends Fort Canning. The food was not too bad, and the cousins put up a short skit that was hilarious, spoofing how the couple met. Overall it was an enjoyable evening and we even danced a little, although I don't think the upsized me boogie-ing made for flattering pictures.

On Sunday, we went furniture hunting with the Dopes, but they were the ones who ended buying stuff. And at night, we all attended Siddesh's 1st birthday party, which was held at Haveli, along Kampong Bahru. Siddesh is my parents' tenant's son and he's such a pie as you can see from the pix below.

There'll be more feasting this Thursday as Deepavali hits us and on Friday evening we'll be attending another wedding...this time Davinia's at Chijmes. Can't wait!