December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011

Barely 20 mins left in 2010, and almost everyone's asleep!

Having a very low key countdown in the comfort of home, how to battle the crowds or go to a noisy house party with 2 young kids?

Nick is sleeping and I am supposed to wake him up before midnight, but might be too busy blogging!

Yet another eventful year is over, I am not going to recap all the things that happened but I suppose the 2 main events would be Natasha's arrival and catching U2 in Perth. Also, getting some of my figure back was nice, but that led to a spree for new clothes, mainly dresses and now my wardrobe is bursting, not like it wasn't bursting before! On the work front, I got a new immediate boss, which was a positive change.

Not that many low points, Uncle Jaya's passing was a loss and the breakdown of several marriages of those close to me put a damper on things but there is hope yet.

What will next year bring? I am soooo looking forward to our getaway to the Maldives, already planning outfits...but first I need to lose the kangaroo pouch. Will me and ma make it to Italy in June? Only time will tell, but I sincerely hope so.

Here's wishing for more travel in 2011 and a healthy, happy family. To all of you reading, have a sparkly 2011 and may it bring you plenty of love, laughter, peace and joy.

December 29, 2010

Christmas BBQ at Cris'

Crispian hosted a barbecue today at his condo pit, we all contributed stuff and everyone actually made it, though Desmond and co left early, while Max came really late.

I was on leave and went to the market in the morning to buy ingredients. My contribution was chicken wings, tiger prawns and vegetable skewers for grilling. The others brought pasta, rojak, otah, satay, cake, shepherd's pie, sausages, salad, wine etc.

I was really pleased with how the marinated chicken wings turned out, though I think popping them in the oven would be better than BBQ-ing because they tend to get burnt fast if you don't keep flipping! The marinade was a combination of sweet, salty, sour comprising:

For 20-24 wings:

5 tbsp of honey
3 tbsp of light soya sauce
2 tbsp of dark soya sauce
2 tbsp of fish sauce
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of fresh ground coriander
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of sesame oil

Marinate for at least 4 hrs or even overnight and pop in the oven for a minimum of 20 mins. Delish!

For the prawns, I did not marinate them but made a garlic lemon butter for basting. I actually roasted the garlic first but overdid it because they became crispy, so I mashed up the crispy cloves and added more fresh minced garlic to the butter, along with some black pepper, salt and lemon juice. Max complimented the prawns and I could hear him sucking out the juices from the prawn heads!

Had fun, am usually not a fan of barbecues but am into grilling food so I hope someone organises a BBQ again soon!

December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

A moderately quiet Christmas it was this year.

Nat got to see her skate-scooter when she awoke, I didn't even bother wrapping! We bought Sasha a rocking horse but upon opening the box found it to have a lot of scratches so kept it aside to exchange.

Went for mass in the morning and we were a tad late but there was space in the children's room and we squeezed with the Dopes.

Lunch was at Wendy's brother Andrew's place, they booked the condo function hall. As Wendy's mum had a major operation lined up before New Year's, she and her sister-in-law Hilda decided to combine the celebrations and extend it to Hilda and Ben's immediate family as well.

The food catered was not bad, Nat and Sasha were the youngest ones there. Sasha was friendly to anyone who carried her whilst Nat stuck with me or Nick, but was persuaded to dip her feet in the pool by her 'Aunty Di'.

In the evening it poured cats and dogs, but we headed to Chai Chai where Aunty Gowrie was hosting a small party for just family. The Malay food catered was cheap and good, the bubs all got to hang out including with their older cousins Troy, Marc and Luke who are all growing into handsome young men, albeit rascally ones!

This boxing day morning Sasha and Nat opened their pressies together, Nat helped her sister with relish and decided to help herself to some of Sasha's young they start bullying!

December 25, 2010

A Masala Christmas @ Spottiswoode

Up till a couple of weeks ago, we didn't have any plans for Christmas eve dinner because we were seeing his side on the actual day but then I decided to host dinner at home for my immediate family and it turned into a small party for about 14.

Aunty Sarda ordered a tandoori turkey from Rang Mahal and that inspired the rest of the dinner menu, for Mita Stewart decided to go fusion Indian/Middle Eastern. We had:

- Papadums with dhal and raita dips
- Butternut squash soup
- Tandoori turkey with basmati stuffing
- Moroccan lamb tagine with cous cous
- Shepherd's pie
- Crumbled laddus with vanilla ice cream
- Mildred brought turkey ham, steamed veggies and a fruit salad

I went hunting for mini papadums, butternut squash and laddus this morning, as usual leaving everything to the last minute. Can't blame me, only got back from Perth 3 days ago!

Made the squash soup from scratch, well ok not completely, the chicken stock was Swansons but I roasted the butternut with apples and onions before pureeing it. Not much went into the soup actually, just the roasted squash, apples, onion, chicken stock, salt, pepper all blended together.

Originally I wanted to spice it up with curry powder but it tasted good on its own, I was worried those with angmoh tongues wouldn't appreciate it, like Daniel and his girlfriend Wendy who were in town.

The lamb was a first attempt too, been meaning to make something that goes with cous cous and this was the perfect occasion. I didn't really follow any one recipe, just dumping in things as I went along, but basic ingredients were:

- 1.5 kg of lamb meat, cut into chunks and marinated overnight with minced onion and ginger
- 1 can of chicken stock1 small tin of tomato paste
- A handful of prunes
- A handful of dried apricots
- A handful of cashews
- A bunch of coriander leaves
- Honey, 2-3 tbsp
- Chopped tomatoes
- A green chili, sliced

Essentially just fry the marinated meat in some oil with more minced onion and ginger till brown. Add tomato paste and chicken stock, simmer for 30 mins then add the rest and simmer for another 30 mins and voila! It got good reviews!

R&B came over and brought some wine, they stayed till past midnight to countdown with us. Gigi was still awake and I brought out her and Nat's unwrapped presents - skate-scooters - and Bernard and Kevin had a little competition to see who could assemble one first. Bernard won!

And now everyone has gone and I have actually yet to wrap most of the presents I am giving out. Everything's just sitting in my purple room, waiting in paperbags. All the presents under the tree are gifts received for Nat and Sasha, none for giving out.

Been so disorganised of late, procrastinating more than usual plus was busy early in the month preparing for 2 work events, then the back to back trips to HCM and Perth and before you know it, Christmas is here. Promise to be more organised next year!

December 23, 2010

The feasting begins!

Christmas is just 2 days away and the feasting has begun.

Joanne hosted a little party for the kids today in her rental apartment before she leaves for Ho Chi Minh next week. It was just her/Ray, me and the girls, Tsolmon/Alistair and Ginny made an appearance.

She bought food from Popeye's and Ray showed off his walking skills. Nat was glued to me while Ray and Alistair did their own thing. Tsolmon announced she was having another boy having recently gone for a scan.

There was a small gift exchange and Nick popped by to say 'hi' when he came to pick us up.

Just got back from dinner at Jumbo with Baba, Uncle Andrew and company who came to meet Aunty Ros, who's here from Malacca for a couple of weeks. Aunty Mok joined us too and we had crab, prawns, peking full!

By the way, Anjali swung by yesterday to drop off her house key while she cavorts in Scotland for Christmas and New Year...reminds me I still haven't had her and Tom over when they're practically neighbours!

December 21, 2010

Back to reality!

Home sweet home.

After checking out this morning, we went to the street malls one last time. Nick and Nat hung around outside the shops while I went into a few more stores picking up another dress from Bardot and a bag from Sportsgirl.

Lunch was at the same food court as Day 1 except we shared some Red Rooster. Maybe Nat was sick of my cooking but she didn't have much of an appetite and was acting up, perhaps nervous about the flight to come.

We had an Indian taxi driver to the airport, tried to feed her in the cab but she still wouldn't eat, so she drank some milk instead. Thought we wouldn't make it to the airport, there were a few loud bangs from the taxi at different intervals followed by the smell of something burning but the driver brushed it off but Nick and I were on tenterhooks.

Arrived about the same time as RnB, and the dopes and checked in one after the other. Nat fell asleep before we hit immigration, she was so lethargic the whole day and we sensed some homesickness as she asked for Gigi and Sasha when we were still in Perth.

Saw Germaine in the queue behind us, we didn't manage to meet up during the trip but when I saw her again at the departure gate, I teased her about being 'sombong' because she appeared so quiet and standoffish and didn't even introduce the friend she was with, until I took the initiative to shake his hand.

Nat woke up in time for the takeoff though and was ok for the first couple of hours watching Dora yet again. She hardly ate dinner, so that was 2 meals skipped. I only managed to feed her half before she pooped and had to be changed. After that she wanted to sit with Nick and he doesn't usually have the patience to feed her. She started getting quite cranky with a couple of hours to land, ignoring warnings to belt up, spilling juice on Nick and just fidgeting.

At 8plus, she wanted milk. Not long after, bad turbulence hit while she was still drinking and coupled with the empty stomach, it was a Merlion episode waiting to happen. I had been watching 'Dinner for Schmucks' when I got the distress call from Nick and turned just in time to see Nat puking all over him and the seat.

Scrambled for wet wipes and tissues and a stewardess came over to assist but she only brought a blanket to cover the seat and a pack of serviettes. The plane was still bouncing and it was hard to balance and Nat was naturally upset and scared and burst into tears.

I changed her clothes and held her for the rest of the flight and there and then, Nick made up his mind - no more flying with kids till they're 4! Let's see how long he sticks to that.

Ben and Wendy picked us up from the airport, Nat was still super clingy and would cry at every little thing. Bought her a burger from McDonalds but she didn't want it. They helped to fetch Wendy and Sasha from Membina after dropping us and I was so glad to see my pumpkin again, she gave me a big smile when she came through the door.

It was a good holiday overall, except the Harbourtown episode and the return flight. There's still a lot of places in Perth and Western Australia we haven't been and I know we'll be back with the girls when they're older.

I can't believe I've seen U2, I could get used to this business of traveling overseas to catch a concert, Bon Jovi anyone?

December 20, 2010

Shopping Frenzy

After days of sunshine, a cold front hit today with icy rain on our last full day in Perth.

Today was the designated shopping day and the 3 of us took the free CAT bus from Wellington Street to Harbourtown, the outlet mall.

My first stop was Forever New where some of the floral dresses Swana saw in her earlier trip were on sale. You know I love florals and Forever New had a tonne of floral print outfits!

I set aside a few pieces after trying, waited for Swana and Rachel to arrive so we can possibly combine some purchases. They were having 50% off sale price for every second item.

We bumped into Kieran who works nearby and chatted for a bit and before I knew it, it was time for lunch, I made Nat fried rice. Debra had raved about hor fun at some Asian stall but Nick opted for rice with dishes instead.

Then the rest arrived and while they had lunch, we had ice cream at Gelateria. Nat was more interested in the waffle basket than the ice cream!

Nick went off with the guys to a Bunnings hardware store so the ladies could shop without guilt but Nat refused to co-operate after I made her sleep, by resisting lying in the stroller. Every attempt I made to lower her would be met by a tantrum.

She was actually very sleepy and cranky but just wanted to be carried and cried uncontrollably with hiccups and all. I had to carry her with one arm and push the stroller with my other, she wouldn't even go to Swana and after a while I gave up browsing and sat down one corner helpless, with visions of my attempt to help the Perth economy flash before my eyes.

Thankfully Nick came back after a couple of hours and took over carrying her. From then on, I was like a woman possessed, flying in and out of fitting rooms and just buying whatever fit, so all these were bought in the space of 2 hours or so.

Bought Nat a chicken kebab with rice for dinner but took it away in the end because the rest were waiting to drop us off. After settling Nat's dinner, I bid her and Nick goodbye to continue some last minute shopping at Murray Street Mall. Went to Target again, bought a dress from Dotti, bought a surf dress for Swana and even saw some camels!

Then it was off to Woolworth's again before they closed to pick up last minute groceries to bring back and fulfill our wine quota.

The packing is more or less complete, my bag is so heavy! We have to check out by 11 am in the morning, so we'll leave our bags at reception and have lunch in the city before heading for the airport.