Tuesday, 25 May 2010

And it was a success...

If you know me at all, I don't cook, bake or vacuum.

Yesterday, I did two of the above mentioned, because I wanted to make Steve's birthday special. I took half a day off work (and Steve didn't have a clue I was planning all this) and decided to bake a surprise birthday cake, and to cook a special birthday dinner. So, with the help and moral support from dearest Fely, I embarked on this challenge (I don't care what you think, it is a challenge to me)

After rushing around Sainsbury's grabbing all the ingredients I needed, I came home and happily laid out all the ingredients ready to start because I knew I needed all the time in the world for everything to go according to plan. ALAMAK, then I realised the Vanilla Extract that I had put in the shopping trolley must have fallen out before I got to the check out so I was missing the single most important ingredient !! So, I jumped in the car again, raced to Tesco, got my missing ingredient, and raced back. So now the picture is complete.
So I printed out the recipe from here and got started.
A good start?
It is surprising the number of oranges and lemons you need in order to generate a substantial amount of rind from them.
Kenwood chef working hard...
So far so good?
Cake finally in the oven. Unfortunately I was too eager to stick the cake batter in the oven so I forgot to take a picture of it before it went into the oven. I am not in the habit of licking cake batter, as you can see...
Fresh from the oven...
Cooling down...
After a layer of chocolate icing... Fely's expert recipe and opinion was a GREAT help... thanks hun...
At this stage, I started to panic a bit about running out of time and I started doing EVERYTHING all at once -- decorating the dining room, wrapping the presents, writing the card, dashing back into the kitchen to check on the icing to see if I could start writing on it...
And the finished product....I was told later on that decorating it with fresh orange segments, not a very good idea... but I thought they looked nice anyway....Notice the word 'Birthday' being shortened? By the time I had finished writing 'B' I knew I wouldn't have enough space to fit in 'irthday' in that tiny space... :P
 After the cake, I quickly cleared all the dishes away, getting rid of all the evidence of a cake being made, and got started with preparing dinner -- Shoulder of pork steaks marinated in black pepper and char siu sauce, and stir fried kai lan with mushrooms...
The birthday boy blowing his candles after dinner.... he was still wearing his chef trousers after a hard day's work...poor thing had to work on his birthday...
 As you can see the cake went down quite well so I took it as a sign that it must have been quite a success...

A special thanks to my dear, dear friend Fely who was there for me the whole time...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I never win anything, until now...

Do you find yourself being EXTRA motivated in completing surveys and questionnaires when the reward for the prize draw is attractive and lucrative?! That's what I did...

Three weeks ago, a survey was launched at my workplace and I, along with 600 other people took part in the survey, in the hope of becoming the lucky winner in the random prize draw. I have done that many times and since very young, I have not had much luck in lucky draws so I did not harbour any hope at all.

So I got back into the office this week after my two-week holiday and have long forgotten about the questionnaire and the prize until I got an email yesterday.

Apparently, I have been randomly selected (with a randomiser software) as the winner for the prize!!! How about that?! Of course I was beyond ecstatic and my exact response -- "You are joking !!!!!!!!!! You're not pulling my leg, are you?!!!"

So the bearer of the prize came by yesterday and dropped this off for me.
 Yup, that's my name. That's for me !
So I opened it and revealed this...
Can you guess what it is at this stage? Is it a book? Is it a pencil case? Okay, okay, let's carry on then...
The all-too-familiar symbol?! Surely you can guess by now? No? Okay another picture to show you...
Yup. You guessed right.
It is a brand-spanking new 8GB Ipod Touch by Apple.
The trouble with this is, I already own an Ipod Nano which Steve got me on X'mas a few years back and I am absolutely happy with it even until today. As for the WiFi capability and being able to surf the net and check my emails yada yada yada, I've got my BlackBerry to do all that. So technically, technically speaking, I have no need for this Ipod Touch. Even when I got the MacBook last year, it came with an almost-free Ipod Touch (cost me £20) and I sold it for the same reason, I didn't think I need one. Today, another Ipod Touch has yet again managed to appear in my possession and I am again left with the decision of what I would do with it. I was admiring it last night and Steve said ,'You are tempted to keep it, aren't you?'. Well, yes, I am tempted to keep it but I know I'll grow tired of it after a day or two, after the initial excitment has died down. So, so... I think I shall sell it and put the money towards getting a sewing machine!! What do you think?! I think it is a brilliant idea !!!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Simple Cross-Stitch Tips

Getting some encouragement from Fely, I finally decided to pick up from where I left off with my Cross-Stitch of Sasha two years ago.

This is the picture that I'm making the cross-stitch from. 
Sasha was just a few months old then and she hasn't started growing her 'trademark' beard yet, which is why I decided this would be the best picture to use.  And I have really enjoyed cross-stitching this picture so far. This is how far I've got to.
I know, I've got a long way to go yet!!
You probably can't see it clearly but you can just about make out on the right hand side the contour of Sasha's face with her right ear flapping down. Due to the type of fabric I've chosen, the squares are extremely small and it's quite a job trying to follow the chart and stitch at the same time without losing your place constantly. It is especially challenging when you get to a part with lots of different colours like this.
So I've decided to fashion a marker in which I can use to hold the paper in place, while marking my progress on the chart. I started off with this.
Nothing fancy, just a straight piece of rather thick wire. 
Next, bend the wire following the shape of a paper clip.
And then you'll get this.
Simple, right? But be careful you don't poke your eyes out with the sharp ends.
And then, clip it anywhere on the side of your chart like you would a paper clip. Move it accordingly to which part of the chart you're working on.
To make it even more effective, use a black marker and make a tiny mark on the point of the giant paper clip like this.
And not only will this help to make your chart stay more in place, you'll never lose your place on it, ever again!
Another tip I find extremely useful, especially after you have worked a few different colours from your chart, is to keep your loose threads organised and properly labelled. 
Start off with this.
Again, nothing fancy, just a piece of paper folded in half with holes punched on one side from top to bottom. Tie the loose threads each colour to a hole and label them like this.
That way, you'll never lose track of which code the loose threads belong to. Sometimes, because there may be two or three colours with shades that are very close to one another, it is extremely difficult to tell which colour is which without properly organising and labelling them. This will make your life so much easier when you're trying to reuse your loose threads again.
Another tip I find useful is colour marking the chart as I go along. (Assuming that you are not going to use the plan again)
Just get a few gel pens, and mark your progress on your chart. This way, you'll find it easier to keep track of your overall progress.
It might be a bit messy, but I find this method extremely useful every time I want to pick up my project again after leaving it for some time.

These are just a few handy tips which I find extremely useful in helping to keep me organised and to make my cross-stitch experience a bit more fun and hassle-free.

Try them and let me know!!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Finally !!

So after staying at home for most of my 'visiting family' trip, I finally got to go out today to Penang to visit my brother's inlaws.

On our way to their house we stopped at our usual coffee shop and had our usual favourite - the very famous Penang Char Kui Teow at Genting Restaurant and it was every bit as good as I imagined it to be !! And of course out came the camera and 'snap', an ever lasting memory of my craving satisfaction after more than two years (and also to show off to Fely who must be droooling by now) hahaks.

I made sure that the photo size is EXTRA large so that you can see the yummy prawns and 'see ham' and egg... mmmmmmmm.....can still taste it in my mouth. (I have since had to reduce the size of the picture due to technical problems :P )

My fantastic foody day didn't just end there. On our way back, to save Mom the hassle of cooking dinner, we decided to stop at another food court and have something to eat. Because it was still early, we made a stop at Tesco Extra on our way to pick up some groceries (in which I picked myself a deliciously yummy tin of Julie's Love Letters (perisa Coklat), inspired by escape's blog entry not long ago). I asked Mom and Dad which flavour to choose from and Dad immediately said 'Perisa Coklat' so chocolate it was... and on our way to the check out Mom whispered, 'I would have picked strawberry....' SIGH typical Mom.... I should have picked up both tins then to make both of them happy, haha. Anyway, for dinner, we had some lovely sizzling claypot noodles (yummy) and some Ice Kacang !! Unfortunately it was getting dark so no picture was taken this time and also I was sent on the task of getting the Ice Kacang so in between trying to gobble down the noodles and eating the Ice Kacang at the same time before it melts, I had no more free hands for 'snap snap' !!

So we went home happy and contented and although we were all full to the brim with noodles and ice kacang, within half an hour, we were happily tucking into the tin of Julie's Love Letters !! Yummmy !!! Hehe this image I stole from escape...
And what makes me happy is knowing that there is still a whole tin out there waiting for me tomorrow (unless Mom and Dad make a drastic attack for it before I wake up tomorrow noon time) -- yeah I know, it's awfully terrible that I am still on England time which means that I only fall asleep around 6am Malaysian time and wake up around 12.30 in the afternoon just in time for lunch (shame shame shame)...

When I was packing for home, I knew that I would be spending most of my time at home doing nothing. So I packed lots of my hobby stuff(things that I always wished I had more time to do when I'm in the UK), making sure that I'll never have a dull moment and that I'll have lots to occupy my time with. This is the list of things I brought and also how much I've actually made use of them so far...

1. My cross stitch project -- Two years ago I started a very ambitious cross-stitch project of a picture of Sasha the dog...  two years later, we still haven't seen any bit of her actual face yet. So I brought this project along, hoping that I'll be able to make some progress on it. But as you can tell from this picture, there is still no sign of any dog, so I haven't done much of cross-stitch so far.

2. Edward Rutherfurd's Sarum -- I did a research on the Internet before my holiday and found out that this book was recommended by many as resembling the experience you'll get from the great 'Pillars of the Earth' by Ken Follet and because I loved The Pillars of the Earth so much (read it four times so far) I practically twisted Steve's arm and got him to get this book for me with his Christmas voucher at Waterstone (yes, I am mean). I had it with me on the plane but I didn't read it because I was sleeping most of the time (or trying to sleep) and for a reason that you will soon find out, I have not had chance to read much of it either.

3. Friends Season 8 -- I know I'm sad.. I must have seen this a million times but believe it or not, when you've got nothing else on telly to watch, 'Friends' always come in handy. Since Mom and Dad are avid fans of period drama from mainland China which I have no interest in because they are too 'historical' for me, I have spent many a lonely nights in my room watching 'Friends' on my laptop and the saddest part was because I only brought along one season with me, I have to ration myself to a maximum of two episodes per night so that I don't run out of episodes too quickly (unfortunately the rationing wasn't very successful the first week I was here so I am now already on the last disc with only 6 more episodes to go before I finish the entire season !!! Should have brought along season 9 as well !!

4. Nintendo DSi XL -- Now this one.... this one..... it helped me sleep, it gave me entertainment and it was the best companion through the nights when I'm awake while the rest of the house is sleeping. I know, I am a fully grown adult woman who should be having babies and nurturing children at my ripe old age but instead I get extreme pleasure from shooting robots and collecting bits and pieces in the Lego Star Wars Trilogy!!! I think the thing that gets me so hooked on this game is that the level of difficulty is at the minimum where I can handle. Once a game gets too complicated and the controls get too difficult to handle, my mind gives up. This one is just right up my street. And I love love love it. Another picture to show you the game, haha.
You can tell from this elaborate post that I currently have lots of free time on my hands. I really, really want to get some cross-stitch done and start reading the book and get into some interesting history of Britain... but first, I must shoot all the nasty robots and collect all my coins !!!!

Hope I haven't bored you too much with my geeky hobbies. Until the next post, take care.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

On discovering heaven and the Internet

Yup, it felt like I went to heaven and back. Before I tell you why, a little bit about my 'arriving at home' story...

I finally arrived home at 10pm and after showing mum and dad all the goodies I brought home and then they went to bed and I was wide awake because -- a.   adverse to Steve's advice on trying to stay awake for as long as I could on the plane so that I will have no trouble sleeping when I get home.... I slept on the plane.  b. I was hungry. 

Then I remembered that I bought three packs of extremely chocolatey chocolate coated biscuits from Marks and Spencer and they were still in my bag so I thought I'll have a piece just to keep going until the following morning when I have breakfast.  When I pulled one piece out of the packet, the chocolate literally melted around my pinggots (you know what they are debs) and it was such a sticky mess !! So I picked up the other three packets of chocolate coated biscuits in my bag and rannnnnnnnn for the fridge !! I didn't think they would melt because it's got biscuit but they did anyway... arghhh... this is how hot it is here. It was night time, the bag wasn't even in the sun and the chocolate had melted.... So you can imagine that I am sitting in my room now, at 3 in the afternoon with the ceiling fan spinning like it's going to come off it's socket soon... no, I haven't got air conditioning in my room in case you are wondering now. And outside the window there is a stupid cat resting itself. No, it's no my family cat, it's just some random stupid cat who likes to come near the house and pee everywhere... nice.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning I told mum that I didn't need breakfast because I had actually brought home with me Sainsbury's Scottish Porridge Oats and some semi-skimmed milk (it's a wonder my luggage wasn't overweight with all the crap I brought home) and to that mum said 'Huh, posh! What's wrong with MY oats?'

When I came out of the room I knew that IT was in the house.... IT -- DURIAN !! The much desired and craved for King of Fruits !!! DURIAN !!!!  So apart from mum's excellent home-cooked food, we had durian for lunch as well and when I had the first taste of it, it was PUREEEEEEEEEE HEAVEN !!!!! mmmmmm..... mum left some for me for dinner time so more durian afterwards... yay.. just a little picture to show you (mum was like 'huh, why you taking picture of your food?')

The last time I had a taste of durian was when out of sheer desperation, I bought a pack of frozen durian from the Chinese Supermarket in the UK and I was banned from eating it in the house and it was horrible and frozen and tasted like the skin. Thiss......... Thisssssss.... was TOTALLY different. The flesh was creamy and fragrant and fresh (it dropped from the tree only this morning). And not only that, the seed was only tiny. And can you believe all this from just one durian?! good huh? Fely I know you're drooling now, haha. Never mind, I'm hoping that your CK supplies would have arrived by now and that should take your mind off this gorgeous looking plate of durian.

Before I left the UK I had prepared myself for having no internet access for two weeks because my parents canceled the landline since they each have a mobile phone and Telekom was getting more and more expensive to maintain. But I thought I'd bring along my Macbook anyway just to play some games when I'm bored. So this morning, to my UTTER delight, my neighbour has a router which I could get signal from and through no hassle at all, I have now managed to get the WEP key and am happily sitting here blogging this. So the quality of my holiday has improved slightly now I can resume 'ping-ing' Fely but through another method. You should have seen the farewell conversation we had when I was at Heathrow.... we said 'Bye Bye' like a hundred times with lots and lots of sad and kisses and huggies emoticons... hhahaha... I had a shorter farewell than that with Steve when he'd dropped me off at Heathrow, haha.

Okay, apparently there is a guest coming soon to visit and I must brace myself for it.... (the three hundred questions that I have to answer.... So when are you getting married? No kids yet? What do you do there? How much is your salary? Are you staying there forever?) I know they are not three hundreds questions but sometimes it just feels like that....

So I shall keep in touch with you lot and keep you posted about my holiday.

Durian - Check
Char Kuey Teow - Hopefully next....
Assam Laksa - Maybe soon....

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Blogging from Hong Kong

Yess, am in Hong Kong Airport waiting for my flight to Penang which is in an hour's time. Initially, the flight from Heathrow - Hong Kong was not due until now but because the pilot and the crew were SUPER efficient, we landed a whopping 50 minutes ahead of schedule and you should have heard how smug the pilot was when he announced the 'good news' and I involuntarily let out a silent groan knowing that my waiting time at the airport has just been increased 50 minutes. Ah well, I suppose that gave me plenty of time to go through transfer and to go through security again without feeling panicky (to those who travel frequently by plane you know what it's like, taking off your shoes and your belt and your coat and separating your laptop and your mobile into a tray, yada yada yada). I also had ample time to check out the duty free shop to get the gift that Steve had 'hinted' for me to get him (men).

I was going to start telling you my inflight experience but unfortunately it looks like they are boarding people soon so I had better pack up and be one of those 'kiasu' people and dash the minute they pick up the microphone to start making an announcement.

Adios and have a good week.