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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye 2005

It's time to say goodbye to 2005. It's been a year filled with the realities of life and the challenges that come with it.

Angie and I took it really easy on the last day of the year. We spent most of the day lazing around playing Scrabble and today's edition of Sudoku in the Star.

[This is no ordinary Scrabble board... a tournament board this is, thanks to Antonia :o)]

For our little new year's eve dinner, we had Ayamas Khandarr Maharaja Roaster and KFC's whipped potato. For dessert, we downed some Tesco Christmas pudding with blackcurrant wine. Yum!

[Steamed Christmas Pudding: Hot and delicious :oP]

Here's wishing you a Happy New Year 2006!

Croatian Cuisine and Sudoku

Last Thursday (29 December 2005) saw us at Hillside, Tanjung Bungah sampling Croatian cuisine at an inconspicuous eatery opposite the Esso station. We tried the roast chicken and roast pork ribs. Delicious in a mild-flavoured way.

[Croatian Roast Chicken: Reminded us of salted steamed chicken]

[Croatian Roast Pork Ribs "With Fat": Similar to the chicken but with a distinct porky flavour, obviously]

Later, we adjourned home for our maiden attempt at Sudoku. We downloaded a puzzle from the Internet and its level of difficulty was classified as "medium". Took us nearly an hour to complete :o).

[Sudoku: Yay! We made it]

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Vixen Rudy Tan Gao Khoon @ Tan Gao Chiak (1991-2005)

It was a teary Christmas eve this year as we said goodbye to our beloved 'anak bongsu', Vixen who was the source of great joy to us.

[The DARLING of the family...deeply missed by Papa, Mummy, Ying Chee2, Aileen Chee2 & Angie Chee2]

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas 2005

Christmas is here and it's interesting to note how our Christmas celebrations have evolved over the years depending on our circumstances. This Christmas is our 2nd 'married' Christmas and we are getting used to the interesting logistical challenges :o).

This Christmas is special because it roughly coincides with the fullmoon celebration of our nephew, Gabriel.

We take this opportunity to wish you and all at home a Blessed, Holy and Christ-filled Christmas 2005.

[Angie & Bart, Christmas 2005]

Solstice Dish

On 22 December 2005, we had some traditional winter solstice 'tang yuen' made by Chu Len Chi Chi. These multi-coloured soft flour balls are boiled in syrup. I remember as children, we had fun (and taking considerable risk) trying to swallow these balls without chewing them (and without choking, of course).

[Tang Yuen: Another Chinese classic]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pastry with Pat and Bob

We had friends from New Zealand, Pat and Bob, staying over at our place from 5-11 December 2005. While they were around, we had a little baking session: Date and Lemon Shortcake.

[How many persons does it take to make Date and Lemon Shortcake? Four...]

[From hot to cold: After baking, now the icing...]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Culinary Classic and Cleaver Cut

About two weeks ago, we enjoyed two traditional dishes. The first was 'chi gu' in Hokkien (or 'ngar gu' in Hakka or Cantonese) with roast pork and leek. The chi gu (related to the popular water chestnut) is usually available during the chinese new year but they are available early this time around

[Chi Gu Siew Bak: A Chinese New Year Classic]

While my mom was around during Gabriel's birth, she made some 'dao ma chet'. It's something like 'ban meen' but instead of being cut machanically, it's painstakingly cut using a cleaver into noodle-like strips before being cooked in thick soup. The soup has onions, anchovies and pieces of pork. Presumably, this is the traditional Pusing Hakka recipe.

[Cleaver Cut: Lip smacking good *slurp*]

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Angel Arrived

We are delighted to announce the arrival of our first baby nephew, Gabriel, on 22 November 2005. Congratulations to Niq and Chui Ying! Angie and I are beaming... now 'upgraded' to Ah Nyong and Ah Pak (Ah Umm and Ah Pek) :o).

[Gabriel: Happy to have arrived...]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Back in Business

This is something we bought at the Batu Lanchang market. It looks like a vegetable from outer-space. Can't remember the name, so we'll call it the Disc Vege for now...

[Space-age Vege: What will they think of next?]

For dinner tonight, we had fried fusilli with pork chunks, carrots and capsicum. Long time no publish food photo, so drool!

[Fried Fusilli: Italy in China in Malaysia]

Wait a minute... where did these photos come from? It's from a NEW DIGITAL SLR CAMERA! *GRIN* *beaming* After cold sweating for 2 months, we decided that enough was enough! After ogling at various models, weighing the pros and cons, and doing a sitting-on-the-fence pocket burning assessment, we decided on an Olympus E-500. *applause* *bow, bow* :oD

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Making My Mark?

It's exam season and I am in marking mode/mood *grumble mumble*. Thankfully I am sharing the teaching load and I have only to mark half of questions in the 100 scripts. I admit, this is not much but it is still called 'marking'.

Okay, enough of my whining... would like to draw your attention to a family tradition post on Ying and Niq's Niche. It gives you an idea of what happens when the family gets together for a spin in Pusing. Make heads turn, or tilt, doesn't it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back-to-back Birthdays

We celebrated a string of birthdays within a one-week period during the last week of October.

Two weekends ago, we celebrated Mummy's birthday with seafood dinner at Bukit Tambun by the river. We ordered two giant mantis prawns, soft-shelled crabs, deepfried baby squid, shell fish (tharn) and noodles. The soft-shelled crabs were of good size with quite a lot of meat.

Last weekend, we were back in Ipoh to celebrate my Dad and Niq's birthdays. We brought home two homemade date cakes to celebrate the occasion. On Saturday night, we had dinner at Fu Lim Restaurant. Two uncles and their wives also joined us. We had dry-fried prawns, a huge steamed haruan fish, soft-shelled crabs, pork ribs in red wine sauce, belacan kangkung and mixed vegetables. We had two bottles of wine to wash it all down.

Our camera is still being serviced, hence no photos. I am suffering from shutterbug withdrawal syndrome. Have to press a shutter release button sometime soon or else... *cold sweat*

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Cat Calleth

On Friday (7 Oct 2005) we began the last leg of our vacation - this time we headed East.
Destination: Kuching.
Accommodation: Harbour View

[Meow... posing with the bronze cats of Kuching]

Almost as soon as we arrived at the hotel, we booked ourselves on a trip to visit the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) situated in Santubong, a 45-minute drive from Kuching. On arrival, we are given a 'passport'. We visited the longhouses of the various natives of Sarawak - Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh, Penan, Orang Ulu - and traditional houses of the Chinese and Malays. At each house, we get our passport stamped. It's actually something fun for visitors to do instead of just walking and looking at the houses. We also tried 'shooting' with the blowpipe, and we watched a cultural performance.

[Sarawak Cultural Village: Some longhouses with Mount Santubong in the background]

[Having a go at the Penan Blowpipe: With a huff and a puff...]

After the SCV, we walked to Damai Beach to see the scenery and take some photos. Then we headed back to Kuching. Dinner was Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee (Sarawak version of the wantan mee here). We were so hungry that we dug in immediately and totally forgot to take our customary food photo! However, for the record, both were tasty.

Saturday: We did a city tour. Kuching has a 'city tram' (a bus that is made to look like a tram - not those that run on tracks) which takes tourists around the city for free. You can get on and off the tram at the various stops. We visited the museum which we found interesting.

[Sarawak Museum]

Lunch was at Hartz Chicken Buffet. Not bad, but we were actually expecting more varieties of chicken preparation...

After lunch we took the river taxi (bot tambang) to visit Fort Margherita and the Astana. In the evening we went to Church at St Joseph's Cathedral. The music was fabulous and the church was beautiful.

[Bot tambang]

[St Joseph's Cathdral, Kuching]

After Mass we proceeded to Satok to visit the Weekend market. Unfortunately it rained earlier and so some of the stalls were not open. It's something like the Pasar Malam with most stalls selling fresh produce.

Sunday: Our last morning in Kuching was spent shopping for souvenirs. In the afternoon, we began our journey back home.

[Sarawak souvenirs: Take your pick...]

Due to the lack of time, we did not manage to visit places on the outskirts of Kuching which required a full day trip or overnight stay. Those are on our list of future holidays...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Swinging by Singapore

On Thursday (29 Sept 2005) we headed South for the next leg of our holiday. A friend was getting married in Singapore so we were attending her wedding and taking the opportunity to visit the Lion City.

We flew to Johor and were fortunate to be on the same flight as the bride's family. So we got a ride into Singapore on private transport :-)

Friday (30 Sept): We visited the much talked about Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. The first hour and a half was quite unfortunate as we sat under a gazebo looking at the rain instead of the animals! Luckily the sky cleared eventually and we were able to check out the inhabitants. The animals we found particularly interesting: manatee, penguin, polar bear, pygmy hippo, mousedeer, wolf, binturung...

[Singapore Zoo]

[Not quite as expected: We made sure we visited these big guys but they were smaller than we had anticipated - and certainly not as white as what we see on TV!]

[Night Safari: Where creatures of the night roam...]

Saturday (1 Oct): Here comes the bride... we attended my friend's wedding at the Church of St Francis of Assisi. Met up with a couple of primary school friends! I haven't seem some of them for 10 and even 20 years!

[From pinafore to perfume...]

In the evening we attended a concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall aka the Durian. We watched Mendelssohn's Oratorio, Elijah.

[The Durian looms...]

Sunday (2 Oct): We went for morning mass at St Anthony's Church and met my aunt's (we stayed with her) 'anak', the two dogs at church which she looks after, and her friends. Then it was some window shopping and in the evening we checked out the famous Merlion before heading for the wedding reception.

[All that walking sure made me thirsty...]

Monday (3 Oct): Our last day in Singapore. Basically, shopping. In the afternoon, we began our journey home. We headed back to Johor and took the almost deserted night bus back to Penang.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Leisurely Langkawi

On Sunday (25 Sept 2005) we took an early morning ferry up north. Destination: Langkawi
Accommodation: Awana Porto Malai
Transport on island: rented car (Thanks for your help, Peter)
Camera: courtesy of Nicholas (Thanks, Niq)

[Awana Porto Malai: a pleasant stay...]

First activity: Island Hopping
Review: Good. We took the package organised by the hotel which took us to Tasik Dayang Bunting and Pulau Beras Basah, as well as to watch eagles feeding.

[Tasik Dayang Bunting: Note how the hills resemble a pregnant woman lying down...]

[Eagle Feeding: The eagles feast on chicken skin...]

On Monday, we took a round-island drive.
Location 1: Gunung Mat Cincang. This is where the cable car is located. Quite a scary experience because of the height. Plus, the wind was quite strong so the gondola was swaying quite a bit. Not too kind on the heart, but exciting nevertheless. There was also a large suspension brigde. As you walk across it, you can experience the extremely strong winds blowing across the mountains.

[Suspension Brigde: Fear Factor in Langkawi]

Location 2: Pebble Beach. Most of the beach here is covered with pebbles instead of the customary sand one associates with beaches. Where we stopped, however, there was some sand. The fascinating thing is the colour of the sand was orangy - something like laterite.

[Pebble Beach]

Location 3: Black Sand Beach. What can I say... the sand was black... BUT there was some 'contamination' to the sand... the sea brought some regular-coloured beach sand to the shore, but if you scrape that sand, as I'm doing in the picture, you'll see that it's only on the surface... the real sand on the beach is... BLACK...!!! ;-)

[Black Sand Beach]

Location 4: Tanjung Rhu. Rhu is Malay for Casuarina. So, obviously there were lots of casuarina trees here, and there was a wide area of sand. Good for telematches...

Location 5: Hot Spring.

[Ayer Hangat: Natural Hot Water available... ;-)]

Location 6: Kuah town. Last minute shopping before leaving for home... chocolates and booze were our focus...

Holidays, holidays, holidays

The semester break has started for me, and with it our holidays. Last Thursday (22 Sept 2005) we went to my sister, Aileen's, place in Bukit Merah after work. Dinner was homemade tuna quiche... We spent the night there, chatting and watching a concert of songs from various musicals on DVD.

On Friday, Bart and I entertained ourselves in Taiping while Aileen worked. In the morning we were the youngest visitors at the Lake Gardens ;-) I am sad to report that the water level was quite low.

Later in the morning we decided to go to Maxwell Hill (or Bukit Larut, for those who don't know the English name). There, we enjoyed the fresh air, a suspension bridge, a lookout tower and a playground which had swings big enough for adults. However, the highlight (for me, anyway) was the lovely concrete slide that allowed us to be children again! *Wheeeeee*

In the evening, we went back to Bukit Merah to lepak and wait. We had a dinner appointment with Aileen. After dinner we headed back to Penang, but poor Aileen had to continue working...

No photos from this trip, as you will see from our previous blog entry, our camera went kaput on us... ;-(

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Image Sensor Disaster

It senses images but, alas, it didn't sense its untimely demise. Our digital camera's image sensor went kaput yesterday *tears rolling down cheeks* *sniff*. The images appeared like brownish ghostly figures. Our camera is now at the shop waiting to be sent for service. This may take about 2 months I heard *cold sweat*. How to wait that long? Uughoohhh!!

Bye... let me go and cry now... Waaaahaaahaaaa!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Pizza Square

Yesterday (19 Sept 2005), we had Niq and Chui Ying over for a pizza party. Our square pizza had two kinds of toppings:

Topping 1: Minced pork (in traditional chinese sauces) with scallop mushroom.
Topping 2: Chicken chunks (cooked with marmite, honey, perry vinegar and soy sauce) with pineapple.

These were topped off with capsicum and mozarella cheese.

[Pizza Square: No, that's not the name of a new shopping mall]

Part Yuet Sarp Umph!

This year's mooncake festival came and went. We are proud to announce that we didn't even buy one crinkle-wrapped mooncake. Rather, we opted for the more cottage-industry-type mooncakes which obviously tasted like mooncakes too... duh!

[The Moon Is Round: Eyes, Nose and Mouth...]

This year, Angie gleefully bought a 'traditional' glass-paper goldfish lantern. "No battery-operated, irritating-sounding, cartoon-shaped and 'fake' lantern in our household," she says.

[Quiet and Cute: Angie's glowing glass-paper goldfish lantern]

The eve of the festival saw us at Peter and Elle's place for a barbecue.

[Moonlight Barbecue: Peter getting groovy at the grill]

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Them Soddy Scripts!

Angie is into her third day of marking exam scripts *dark clouds* and we are both cranky...

Finally bought ourselves a household ladder this morning which costs RM63. A hefty price to pay just to get high enough to replace a RM1 flourescent tube starter.

I occupied myself with two projects today while Angie wrestled with them soddy scripts. Project Alpha was yet another apple cider brewing project.

[Apple Cider: September 2005 vintage]

Project Beta was a Chick-a-Mush-a-burg Pizza a.k.a chicken burger chunks with orchid mushroom pizza. We had this for dinner. Will be having its leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

[Chick-a-Mush-a-burg Pizza: What do you get when you cross a chicken with a mushroom?]

Okay. Gotta resume being cranky...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bubble Gum and Random Ramblings

Oh! It's been a long time since we last chewed one of these...

[Bubble Gum]

One piece didn't seem enough to blow a decent bubble but that didn't stop us from being kids again :o). Unfortunately, these did not have the artificial tattoos.

Tonight, we had instant bak kut teh noodles with french beans and meatballs. Odd choice of vegetables but today's dinner menu was rather unplanned.

[Instant Bak Kut Teh: What will they think of next?]

On a more sombre note... Angie starts marking exam scripts today *pout* *pull hair*.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Week That Was, That Is and That Is To End

On Monday night (29 Aug), I was in a baking mood. So while Bart was away for choir practice I busied myself with a new recipe - Cappuccino Squares. The result: very cappuccino - coffee with 'white froth' on top and chocolate sprinkles :-)

[Cappuccino Square: the coffee lover's cake]

On Tuesday, Bart and I decided to go for the pair look. I had recently purchased a maroon blouse (which matched perfectly with one of Bart's shirts) and also some scarfs. So I was eager to parade in them ;-)

[Mutiara Match]

Yesterday, Wednesday was Merdeka Day. Happy Independence Day, Malaysia! Bart and I spent literally the whole day lazing at home. Only went out to get dinner - which was not entirely satisfactory. So we compensated by indulging in some tim sum, white radish cake, cheese roll and sausage in pastry roll :-)

Today, Thursday, was the Bishop Anthony (of Penang Diocese)'s silver episcopal jubilee. The Cathedral Choir was on duty, so we were in church today singing our hearts out. Bart was on the organ. The mass lasted two and a half hours - about forty-five minutes to an hour was devoted to speeches!

Tomorrow, Friday, is the last day of the semester for me. Hurrah! *Three cheers* *clap, clap, clap* Sadly (or not), Bart will have to begin teaching next week...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Oriental Treat

Last night we had friends over for dinner. This time we decided to serve something oriental instead of doing our regular Western. On our menu were mixed veg, brinjal with dried shrimps, chicken in gravy (prepared specially by Bart) and pork ribs 'tau cheong' soup. For dessert, we had lychee and we washed all of that down with Whispers of Summer (a pleasant blend of passion fruit, orange and other fruit juice).

[The Eastern Spread: All ready to be savoured]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mixing Juices

After meeting the Malaysian Idol finalists, we headed to Chulia Street for our favourite fresh mixed-fruit juice. The stall is just in front of the Betel Nut Cafe, facing Love Lane. You can order any mix you dare to try. Our favourite mix is banana with pineapple. Since today they were out of bananas, we tried a glass of apple and pineapple, and another glass of guava and pineapple. Very refreshing... ahhh!

[Fruit Mix Mania: Dare to try nangka with papaya?]

After our dose of mixed-fruit juice, we headed down the coastal highway and ended up having dinner at Sri Tanjung, a place for ikan bakar and Malay-Thai cuisine.

[Dinner at Sri Tanjung: Grilled ray fish, deep fried squid and kailan with salted fish (not in photo)... RM20]

Sri Tanjung is located near the Penang Bridge, across the highway from the N-Park and E-Park apartments. It is hidden from view on the highway due to tall hedges grown by the roadside. The turning into Sri Tanjung is also very inconspicuous. Be very alert if you intend to go there for the first time. Missing the turning would require you to make a very, very long round trip to get back on the correct side of the highway.

Idols on the Island

We were at Gurney Plaza to meet six of the seven Malaysian Idol finalists. We got their autographs, too. The Idols who were present were Nita, Daniel, Farah, Adam, Faizul and Ash. Xerra couldn't make it. Unfortunately, they had all run out of autograph cards. So, I resorted to giving each of them name cards to sign on :o).

[Difficult to get close: Quite a turnout... lots of screaming girl-fans, especially of Daniel]

[Up Close And Personal: Aha! Finally... getting closer...]

[The Autographs! (From L to R, top to bottom) Daniel, Nita, Farah, Adam, Faizul and Ash]