November 29, 2012

Bye bye bottle

The boy is in India and I was on leave today to spend some time with the kids. We took a bus to Orchard to meet Ma, Gigi and Aunty Susie at Paragon where the girls went nuts at Accessorize and Monsoon, declaring they loved this accessory or that dress.
They made a mess of the shoe department, trying on several pairs before I made them put everything back.
Lunch was at Bakerzin, Nat and Sasha seem to prefer creamy pastas now over tomato ones. And they love mushroom soup, Sasha was nicely dipping her bread in Nat’s bowl and afterwards they couldn’t get enough of the warm chocolate cake.
There was a free performance of jazzy tunes in the atrium and Sasha and Gigi ‘slowdanced’ with each other.
Since Nick is away, I am using the opportunity to wean Nat off the bottle and to sleep through the night. Long overdue I know, and Daddy is the one who always gives in to Nat’s requests so I had to wait till he was out of the house to ‘torture’ her and go cold turkey.

It’s been going surprisingly well, she only asked for milk the first night and when I refused, she whimpered and whined a bit but I persevered and patted her back to sleep.

It’s been 3 nights since and so far she’s not woken up to ask for milk and she’s completely off the bottle, not making a fuss over it and just going along with drinking her milk in her cup, albeit with a straw.
Sasha is also being weaned off the bottle at the same time, the only time she gets it now is if she asks for milk in the middle of the night but I am going to cut those out too, the next time Nick is away for an extended period, most likely in January next year. Am determined to enjoy at least a few months of uninterrupted sleep before no.3 comes along!

November 26, 2012

Nat pierces her ears

Nat has been asking to pierce her ears for a couple of weeks now, ever since Gigi did hers before Deepavali. To me, pierced ears are a basic necessity for a girl and I didn’t have an issue with her wanting to get them done, but Nick wanted to wait till she was 16!

I wasn’t going to wait another 12 years, so as soon as he left town this week, I brought Nat to the jewellery shops at Tiong Bahru Plaza. The shop that did Gigi’s at $14 was busy and said to come back in an hour but I was too impatient and Nat was already all psyched so we headed to Goldheart instead where they charged $35.

I didn’t mind the price difference if it meant being attended to immediately. The lady who did it was patient and took care with the equipment, which was very ‘kilat’ and they had a nicer range of studs to choose from.

It was over before I even knew it, Nat sat on my lap and I was expecting her to howl in pain but she was pretty calm and because the guns are quick, she didn’t have time to react much. I was incredibly proud that she didn’t cry, I know I did when I got mine done and had to be bribed with a lollipop, I think at Tangs.
Anyway, she’s pleased as punch with her new assets, she picked the blingest pair available! Daddy was relatively calm when I confessed my crime to him after it was all over…phew!

November 24, 2012

Reagan turns 2!

Bobo celebrated her 2nd birthday in advance today and there was an Elmo/Cookie Monster theme going on. We went out earlier in the day to pick out a present for her from Toys ‘R’ Us at Suntec, getting Nat, Gigi and Sasha their Christmas presents in the process.

Venue was the East Coast McDonald’s and it was just among the few of us. When we got there, some of the other kids were playing in the sand/water but we just came for the party bit…Sasha hates sand!
 
 
The dress code was red/blue so the girls wore matching nautical dresses from Gap in those colours. East Coast beach is nice in the evenings, not so hot or crowded, we should consider evening picnics instead.
Eventually the party moved indoors to the function room and compared to Gigi’s party, service was a lot friendlier here. Food orders were taken promptly and served fast, the kids were entertained with games but Nat chose to sit out on them…so anti-social this one! 
At one point, the Macarena came on the speakers and Kavi and Jeanette demonstrated the steps…the kids loved it, forget Gangnam Style, they’re into the Macarena now! 

November 23, 2012

Macarooning

My colleague Cheryl and I signed up for a macaroon demo and baking class via Groupon and we attended the lesson today.
Organisation was a little slack by the coordinator, but the demo itself was by a proper chef in an actual kitchen. The class size was a bit large though and we had to be teamed up in 4s and 5s for the hands-on bit.
Our team’s end result was a little flat though the taste is there. 
Picked up some useful information and tips and am inspired to make some at home now! I tried a chocolate recipe not long ago and failed so hopefully I can avoid whatever mistakes I made then. Will keep trying till I perfect it, have a 1kg bag of ground almonds lying around…that will go a long way!

November 22, 2012

A toast to No.3

Had dinner at Equinox this evening - a celebration of sorts. This morning we went to visit my gynae at his new digs in Gleneagles and confirmed there was indeed a bun in the oven and we are around the 7 week mark. The discovery was made on 11 Nov, which you can read here. Life as we know it, is about to change!

Sometime ago, Jane had given us a Feed @ Raffles promotional coupon giving 2 diners 50% off the food bill so we used it up at Equinox. I requested a window seat, and for that, there is an extra charge of $20. But it was worth it for the city view, and we had a pre-dinner drink each.
The boy ordered lobster bisque to start with, while I had grilled scallops. While they were generous with the serving of 6 pieces, the scallops themselves were overcooked and rubbery. He didn’t finish his soup, saying it was salty but I think it was just a matter of the broth being too concentrated.
He had a steak main, and I had Boston lobster which I struggled to finish. The flavours were just too strong for my liking with my current taste buds. We skipped dessert because we were full.
It was relatively early when we got back to Membina and broke the news to the kids and family. Mummy’s reaction was classic, she rolled her eyes and walked out of Swana’s room in a huff! The kids themselves didn’t seem very excited, I don’t think it will sink in till they see me getting fat.

Swana declared she wanted to ‘kill me’, think she was planning no.2 herself and we’d have to share mummy. Well, in my defence, this was not planned at all and took us by surprise. I was nicely planning our 10th anniversary celebrations and a trip to Europe in July to commemorate it but looks like those plans have to change because I’m due 10 July! There goes Provence!

November 20, 2012

Taiwan 2012 (Day 5, 20 Nov)

Home sweet home…am back from Taipei.

We only had the morning to wrap up any last minute sightseeing and shopping, and the plan was to head to Taipei 101, which was at one point, the world’s tallest building.

Germaine decided to pass and stay in the room to complete some work , so after breakfast, Jane, Rena and I took a cab over to the tower.

Luckily it was a sunny day so our pictures were clear. There was a LOVE sign below which made for nice photos.
We noticed bus loads of tourists heading towards the ticketing counters so we followed as we anticipated long queues. It took about 15 minutes to get tickets and enter the high speed lifts, the place was filled with mainlanders who were not shy to cut queue and received glares from Jane!

Audio headsets were provided to explain the features and view from the tower, we made one round and then climbed up to the open air deck but the view was obscured. Frankly speaking, Taipei doesn’t have very many interesting buildings so not much of a view.

The shops were opening just as we made our way back to the lobby and we had about 1 hour to cram as many stores as we could. All the high-end luxury brands can be found at 101 but we skipped those and checked out Longchamp first, prices are much cheaper than Singapore.

Didn’t buy anything however, and wandered to Zara. Prices were noticeably cheaper than home and I ended up with 3 sweaters.

I was happy enough with my purchases, but Jane had some purchasing to get out of her system. She ran from shop to shop picking up shirts and shoes, we even crossed over to a mall on the other side of the road before she ran back to Zara to get some pants.
We cut the timing really fine, our driver for the airport was already waiting at the hotel for us. We only had time to dump our latest purchases in our bags and check out.

For some reason, we were assigned a Camry despite requesting for a Wish. It was a challenge to squeeze all our luggage in and 4 of us ended up sitting at the back.

We were a little early so thankfully the check in queue was not long. Rena and Jane had time to do their VAT refund and then we cleared immigration.

I had used up all my Taiwan dollars and had 4 cents left so I had to borrow 300NT from Rena for lunch! We ate at a food court, I had me some Burger King…after days of oily street food, a Whopper tasted like heaven!

We found a section selling Longchamp and the 3 shopaholics in the group ended up buying the same extra large Le Pliage tote in different colours, mine was pink.

The flight was uneventful except for a little turbulence. We had pre-ordered meals and they served it quite early into the flight, we were still full from lunch so none of us finished. They were just like microwaved meals you find at 7-11.

I had a window seat though, and we had some nice clouds and sunset along the way…
Taiwan was fun, mainly because of the company. I don’t think am likely to visit there again anytime soon. The second driver in Hualien commented to Rena in Chinese that I didn’t look impressed with the sights and I guess to an extent he was right.

Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe the rain didn’t help. But overall though, I must say service was great everywhere we went. Though they might seem a little rough around the edges, the Taiwanese are very humble, hospitable, sincere and friendly. It’s like a cross between China and Hong Kong!

November 19, 2012

Taiwan 2012 (Day 4, 19 Nov)

Back in Taipei and I am loving our room at the Ambience Hotel! It’s chic and modern, all glass and white with Kartell furnishings…I like! And very reasonable rate too, about $146 nett for a twin room.
 
This morning’s breakfast at the minsu was better than expected, and they had nice coffee too. We were served toasted club sandwiches with fries, sausages and fruit.
After breakfast I took some pictures of a cabbage patch next door and our minsu from the front. 
We then checked out and spent the morning exploring other parts of Hualien…I was thwarted in my attempts to go whalewatching as we weren’t sure if it was going to rain today so we stuck to sightseeing from the comforts of a car.

We had a different driver today, the original one Rena had booked but he couldn’t make it yesterday. He suggested going to a ‘tulip garden’ and unfortunately, it was just a flower nursery. After Keukenhof, nothing can compare!
He did oblige our request to take pictures of ‘lalang’ fields, jaywalking to cross over to a plot of land. We thought we could re-create those bridal photoshoots and pose with the lalang!
He showed us a local lake next, and then we stopped for more lalang shots.
 
 
He then took us to a hilltop area, for an aerial view of Hualien. There is a 5 star hotel called Farglory at the peak and we admired the view from the property.
I saw a Great Mormon Butterfly pottering about the bougainvillea, how lovely.
We walked behind the hotel to catch a view of the Pacific Ocean and from there, we could see the Hualien Farglory Oceanpark, a theme park focusing on marine ecology.
We made one last pit stop at a minsu along the coast, just so we could get up close to the sea. The waves were strong and there were many pretty pebbles on the sand.
Lunch was next, we tried another local favourite….goose! It wasn’t so gamey once dipped in the accompanying sauce, and I had a plain bowl of tanghoon.
There were some other side dishes, and Germaine thought one of it was made from yam looking at the patterns on it. So I took a big bite only to realise it was fish roe and those patterns were the veins….eeeeew!
We tried some local xiao long bao, very different from the Din Tai Fung kind. Much bigger, less juicy…more like a bao.

We did pick up some freshly made mochi though, I bought 2 peanut ones…yummy!

We spent a couple of hours on the train making our way back to Taipei and after checking at Ambience, we were out again to explore Wufenpu, a wholesale clothes market.
The clothes were not to my taste and it being autumn, everything was long sleeve and thick. I only bought some shawls and accessories in the end.

From there it was a short ride to Rao He Night Market, where we had ourselves some deep fried crab and black pepper pork buns, for which there was a super long queue. The night market was mainly made up of food stalls so we concentrated on eating.
We stopped to try beef noodles, mee sua, chou doufu, tang yuan and mango ice and found a lady selling pink guavas, which we all bought some to bring home. 
There were a couple of pet shops selling puppies and kittens…I love these grey stripey ones.