Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good day to all

it has been a really long while!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Moving ... on ...

I've moved! It is now ... I have yet to figure out how to redirect traffic there =)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An very eventful day ...

Sorry I haven't complete my japan trip log ... truth is ... i haven't even finish downloading all the pictures from the lumix. Then the thoughts of uploading the photos into blogger makes me hesitate ... I hate how the uploading messes my text and having to rearrange the photos and text ... *shudder* maybe I should just get around to putting the photos in first then the text ... but :P i always gets the order wrong and the last picture always end up being first ... ah well ... I guess I could always put my limited html knowledge to use :P

Anyway ... about today ... what I originally planned for was a glorious day of baking ... lots and lots of baking ... butter cookies, fruit cakes and oreo cheesecakes ... well, plan is a plan right, and I didn't put that into action ... but i still had fun ... lots and lots fun ... with my kids (and yes, the hubby as well) ...

The hubby had been wanting to bring the kids to east coast for the longest time ... and I wasn't keen on it because I envisioned sand, dirt, and stinky toilets. I dislike dark, danky, stinky and dirty toilets and those public toilets at east coast park is everything that. So, the hubby was raring to go today and so I went along with it. As usual the hubby complained that I overpacked. I brought along towels, extra clothes, toys for the beach and even a beach ball. What I forgot was, their sunblock and hats.

This is #2 munching on his rice crackers on the way there ... I think he was pretty hungry ... he kept asking for more!

We grabbed breakfast at the Mac's drive-in ... geez ... the place was packed. We used one of the BBQ pits tables for the breakfast and #2 finished 1 hashbrown by himself. The indication of how much he likes it was how he grabbed my wrist and refused to let go, pulling it towards his mouth when he has finished the previous bit. V had her happy meal but only finished 1 hot cake and then proceeded to munch on her hashbrown.

We then proceeded to the beach ... #2 was gung ho about it. I remember when V had her first feel of sand, she complained non-stop about it and how dirty it was. #2 had none of it and in fact make a dash for the water! Soon, the kids and the daddy were busy digging ... I think they really enjoyed themselves ...

A quick family (minus mummy becuz mummy is holding the camera/ phone) to remember by ...

After we washed up the kids, we proceeded to Marina Square ... Ian actually fell asleep on the way there, but the moment we entered the shopping mall, he was wide awake ... and he was actually in a good mood! V was just happy to have some place to run ... we went to get some "shoes" for the kids because both kids were outgrowing their shoes (namely their crocs) ... V chose something and then after I paid and got them to cut of the tags, she came back and didn't want the shoes anymore ... she went "I just want to try mah" *argh*

As usual, lunch was at hotpot culture and both kids were having fun ... making funny faces and then calling out to each other across the table.

Then ... we headed home ... and we all took a nap!!!!

Dinner was a simple affair ... I made my own version of clam chowder ... I'll give the recipe at the end ... The kids had it mixed with #2's macaroni so well, they enjoyed dinner so much that #2 kept asking for MORE ...

Then after dinner (while the kids played in the room, we watched the origins of Wolverine (I am a closet X-men fan, I read their comics since I was a kid, think 6 or 7 years old and then stopped when I was in sec school, which was like ... 20 years ago ... ) and the hubby wanted to bring V to coffeebean (somewhat their Friday night routine). #2 was still wide awake so I grabbed him along ... They were sleepy, but V was almost yawning her head off. Since this was the first time #2 came with us to coffeebean, he was more "awake" and apprehensive. In case you are wondering what the kids had at coffeebean, V's usual order is the carrot cake. Then the 2 kids had ice, yes _ICE_. It's strange ... I wonder if it had to do with the craving for ice when I was pregnant with them :P They just emjoyed chomping on ice, and coffeebean's ice were just the right size for them.

Well, it's almost the end of the story, but this is my favourite bit ... it's against the traffic rules, but I let #2 ride on my lap on the way back :P He was seated facing me, so that I can support his neck and back. He decided to hug me, and started called me "marmee". When I answered back "Ian Ian", he said "marmee" again. It went on for a while, then he laughed and popped up and kissed me! I think he really enjoyed himself today and it was his way of showing his happiness. What a nice ending to the day ... =)

My version of Clam Chowder (slightly runny, not that thick creamy one)
1 can of Swanson's chicken broth
2 cans of clams (drained, liquid set aside)
1 big onion, diced/chopped finely
1 carrot, diced/ chopped finely
1 cup of frozen corn kernels (optional, and more if you like)
potatoes (5 small ones, more if you like)
300g of ham ends (buy from cold storage or the marketplace, they sell it at $1.39 per 100g)
1/2 cup plain/ all purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cooked the carrots in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes. Rinse, drain and set aside.
2. In a soup pot, add the chicken broth and reserved liquids from the canned clams. Using the chicken broth can, measure and add 2 cans of water. Heat to boil.
3. Melt butter in a frying pan, add onion and turn to low heat. Cook the onions till translucent (about 4 to 5 minutes, depending on how finely the onions were chopped).
4. By this time, the pot of chicken/ clam broth should be boiling. Add the corn kernels, potatoes and carrots.
5. Once the onions are ready, add flour and stir into a thick paste. Cook the paste for about 5 minutes then add the ham to cook for another minute or so (be careful not to burn). Once the soup is boiling, add the onion/ham/ flour mixture, stirring until the flour is dissolved. Add milk.
6. Bring to boil and then simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Add the clam meat and then bring to boil and then turning off the heat.

Serves at least 4 adults.

Note: I didn't add salt

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 3 in Tokyo - Kyoto

It is a wet and gloomy day in Tokyo. Meaning, our plan to zoom V direct to the train station in her stroller is shot down. The only good thing is, there is a sheltered underpass from our hotel all the way to the station. Problem, we have to use stairs from time to time. At one point, there was a ramp, and the surge of the oncoming traffic made us hesitate. In the end, we decided to just go ahead, after all we have a child in a stroller and a 20kg luggage to move all the way to the station. The moment we decided to move against the flow, the oncoming traffic kindly moved one side (it was about 2 person wide). Not only that, people also decided to follow behnd us, so I didn't feel so bad after all!

If we encountered escalator going up, we just went with the flow and V didn't mind being tilted back a little. We managed to locate the correct line (Chuo Rapid) and since we arrived in Tokyo ahead of our scheduled departure to Kyoto, I indulged in my favourite hobby @ Japan's train stations. Basically it's shopping for Bento to eat on the train. They can range from 800 yen to 10000 yen (i saw that back in 2006) but I was looking out for my favourite autumn bento set. It's a set that cost slightly less than 2000 yen and included smoked duck breast. That was the BEST ever bento set on the go I ever had. No such luck today, so I had to settle for "best" bento set of the lot, meaning ABSOLUTELY no fish. For V, I bought some egg sandwiches and some onigiri, since she can be quite picky. I wanted to buy even more, but the hubby stopped me. I think he is always amazed at the amount of food I want to and can consume while on the train.

V woke up shortly before the shinkansen ride to Kyoto - 3 of us were squeezed into a 2 seater and she wasn't very comfortable. After the ride started, I polished off my bento set and got V to eat her sandwich plus 1 onigiri (I helped myself to her leftovers). After a while, she got bored and got busy entertaining herself while we dozed off. The ride was quite uneventful and took slightly less than 3 hours (we were on the Hakari) - we managed to locate the right exit this time (I went to ask the train station personnel) and got to the hotel within 10 minutes. We would be staying at the New Miyako Hotel which is just right beside the JR train station. It's actually not very noisy and i would consider the noise as only normal traffic noise. [Note: Our side trip to Kyoto was through the JTB sunrise tour - for return shinkansen tickets and 2 night stay, we paid about 60,800 yen.]

We repacked our bags and headed out - we wanted to go to the Nishiki market. We got lost trying to find the city bus terminal, and spent maybe 25 minutes trying to find out way. The bus ride was about 15 minutes and we had no problem finding the market. I zoomed straight to the end of the Nishiki food street (right at where Daimaru is) and headed for the grilled oyster bar. I immediately place my orders (usually this place can be quite crowded) for 2 oysters and 1 scallops. While waiting for my orders (I ordered the same for the hubby although he said he wasn't very hungry), my immediate neighbour had this delicious looking bowl of mussels sent to them. After much inner wrestling between the need to have a slimmer waist line and the urge to taste the mussels, I eventually gave up and placed an order for it. The grilled oysters (180 yen each) came and it was really really really delicious. The saltiness was just right and I even finished the juice *yummmmmmm* As for the scallops (500 yen each), it just sweet. How should I describe it. The sweetness is from within the scallops and it was so fresh and just so .... perfect. As for the mussels, the mussels were fresh and plump, while some were quite small, but everyone of them were bursting with flavours. Yes, I also finished the soup they came in.

to be continued ...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 2 in Tokyo

We tried waking up EARLY at 6am, but while the hubby got up duly at the alarm time, V and me continued snoozing … my back was aching a little from hauling the luggage and V was just tired out by the travelling I guess. By the time we got up, it was 7am. We decided to take our breakfast in the hotel since we think that the noodle shop was probably gone (it was one of those quaint noodle shops that you buy your meal ticket before you enter the shop, and then hand the ticket to the counter to get the food). We decided to opt for the Japanese buffet and we had to queue to get in. The place is small, I think it seats a maximum of 30 to 40 pax, and its usual “function” is a teppanyaki restaurant. While children 3 and above will be charged for the meal, the waitress was kind enough to waive it for us. The buffet cost 1,500 yen per adult and 500 yen per child (above 3) so we saved 500yen for the day. More for me to shop with …

We planned to be in the area of Asakusa, to visit the Sensoji and neighbouring temples as well as to do some souvenir shopping. By the time we left the hotel and headed for the train station (about 10 min walk) it was already past 9. In the train station, we got a little lost and we had to lug V and the stroller along (in the massive crowd, we just tried to move along as fast as we can). On the way down to the correct platform, I overheard this 2 ladies chatting in the parallel escalator down, and I immediately remarked to my hubby, “confirmed Singaporeans”. Later I had the change to ask them (curiosity kills the cow in this case) and they replied in the affirmative. They were also kind enough to guide us to the correct platform since we were still a bit confused.

When we arrived in Asakusa, it was close to 11am. We did a little shopping (hint: souvenir shopping here is the “cheapest” even though it seems they mainly cater for the tourist crowd), and within 30 mins, after V had some ice cream, she promptly conked out. In the meantime, I had accumulated about 3 shopping bags, much to the dismay of the hubby. I bought some “amulets” (for the lack of a better word) for good health for the oldies, and then took some pictures of the crowd. It seems like it’s been a really long time since I took pictures! We headed off to the side street, and passed by an amusement part. Too bad V was fast asleep so we gave it a miss. We (or rather I) decided to head for Kappabashi, where they sell all those kitchen stuff (for retail, so they are like wholesalers). I managed to find the previous shop I bought my “strawberry sundae” from, and I picked yet another “strawberry sundae” to add to my collection, but this one had some mandarin oranges. I was tempted to buy the “fries” but I decide not to risk my kids trying to chomp down the fake fries.

We started heading towards the Sumi River, trying to decide where to go next. They had a bus that goes to Akahibara, which the hubby wanted to go. On the way, while not feeling very hungry, but slightly puckish, and V still fast asleep, we came across this small tempura shop. The prices were very tempting – the cheapest tempura don was 550 yen (about SGD9) so I opted for a 580 yen bowl while hubby opted for a tempura don set with udon. V woke up about then, so it was just nice, and they kindly let us have children utensils to feed her. Just when we started on the meal, she wanted to go to the loo. We told her to do it in her diaper but she refused to, and frankly speaking, I hate dirty toilets the most. I rather hold my business than to visit one. Thankfully, the sole unit they had in the shop was CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN. So V did her business without me having to gack or use up the entire dettol wipes.

We decided to go to the Palette town, and we took the river cruise to Hinode Pier. We got a little lost again but the server at the CafĂ© there was very helpful and gave us the handy guide to Tokyo (this is the BEST guide to me) and we found our way to the correct station. This time, it was much easier, since we could locate all the necessary elevators! The train to Aomi is a little like Singapore’s LRT, but with more carriages. One way trip cost us 310 yen per adult (free for V). V fell asleep along the way again, but woke up in time to see the giant ferris wheel. We headed for the Toyota showcase first to see the cars. The moment she saw the playground, she started jumping up and down (finally she found a playground in Japan, since asking us about it on the plane). She zoomed straight there and before she dive into the pool (it was just a pool of balls with a slide) she wanted to pee. Anyway I got the hubby to bring her since my feet were already starting to cramp. When she got back, she happily just played in the pool, and even waited for her “playmates” to push her down the slide. The hubby went over the stimulator and had 1 go at the “race” (think Daytona). After that, they went for the Ecco car ride … V wanted the Hello Kitty car, but too bad the cars were assigned, and cannot be chosen. She was very excited after the ride, telling me how the car can drive by itself, and at the same time, mindful of driving precautions, she ordered the hubby to put both hands on the steering wheel at all time.

We then headed for the ferris wheel and this time, she wanted to ride on a red car. Er, we got something close to it, we got a pink one! She did sulk a little :P but she was busy looking out and asking hubby things. I just sat in my little space and tried not to move. I looked back once and I freaked out a little. When we past the highest point and I saw the car behind us above us, I also freaked out a little. Yes, I have a phobia of heights, and it’s not just a slight phobia. It extends to depth, so I don’t like to swim in too deep a pool. Thankfully it was not windy at all, so the ride was very smooth, without the car swinging around. They now have a see through car (including the floor) so obviously I said “NO” when they asked if we wanted that.

After that we went to the arcade and lost over 1000 yen (so angry!!!!) trying to scoop up some toys, but we gave up in the end. We went for dinner at First kitchen, but the meal was a huge disappointment. The fries were limp, and the pasta in a clump. Ah well, thankfully we only bought 1 set to share among the 3 of us.

We went into Venus Family for a walk and a visit to the loo (wow, the washroom here is FANTASTIC, and I mean FANTASTICALLY SPECTACULAR, except who ever did the English translation for the instructions ought to be shot, and again and again). We walked to the end, and they had this pet shop (think P’s) and the puppies (and kitties) were SO CUTEEEEEEEEE. V insisted on going into the shop, and we saw a baby version of Rascal. What had my eyes popping out were the price tag. I saw one was priced at 302,000 yen and I almost choked. Then we walked over to the other side and saw one going for 500,000 +++ yen. I am not sure if this is just the price of the dog or includes a lifetime guarantee of food, and supplies, but if it was just for the dog, then it probably cost as much as this trip (our flights are free though) (and also includes the cost of our side trip to Kyoto by Shinkasen).

By the time we head back to Shinjuku, it was about 8 pm. Remember I said the Handy guide to Tokyo was the best? The train map includes most of the train lines plus station, so it was much easier for us to figure our way back. Again, it was a breeze since we could locate most of the elevators. Just that when we reach Shinjuku, we had to exit from A1 (I think) and people who stay at Hotel SunRoute Shinjuku probably will benefit) but we managed to figure our way back since we know the landmarks to look out for.

We were deadbeat (and my feet were screaming – I have flat feet so walking too much makes my feet arch hurt v v v v much) but we still had to pack for the Kyoto trip, so in the end, we slept close to 12 midnight. Tomorrow we will have to lug the big suitcase … but we will figure it out. Hopefully we can find most of the elevators!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

we finally ... reached our destination ...

well, why the long silence and then, tadah, we are at somewhere else ...

when the kids get sick, they really do get sick, and along the way, infect the adults too ...

some weeks back, V had HFMD ... she had high fever on Monday, then by Tuesday, it's confirmed HFMD so we tried to separate the 2 kids. Then #2 started having low grade fever, we weren't sure because he was also teething ... then funny rashes and blisters started showing up. The problem was, the doctor on Sat didn't want to confirm it's HFMD. Sunday, we went to another doctor, and again, the comments that it wasn't typical HFMD kinds rashes but cannot rule it out because his sister have HFMD. In the end, I brought him to the usual PD on Monday, and immediately, he confirmed that it was HFMD. How so? Apparently the rashes/ blisters are typical of HFMD. Imagine me gashing my teeth in frustration, after wasting a over a hundred dollars over the weekend to heard that it most probably not HFMD but they won't rule it out. So ... while V was recovering, #2 started his HFMD cycle. Thankfully, while they bad big ulcers in their mouth, they were quite happy with water with lots of ice, and the way #2 was chomping down the food chain, you won't have believed that he had big ones on the roof of his mouth.

Then ... V starting having a bout of flu ... it was really quite bad, because I fell sick too. And then, it wasn't just 1 bout, it went on to a second bout. I had to go on 2 rounds of antibotics and I burnt 6 days of annual leave within 2 weeks.

We had plan for this trip sometime back as our miles were going to expire soon. We booked the flights, the accommodations, and a side trip to Kyoto. Then, we cancelled it. Then just before we were due to fly, we made a last minute scramble to book the trip to Kyoto again, when the yen is at a all time high of SGD1.61 to 100 yen ... i cannot describe the "ouch" but I think even if the yen was SGD1.80 to 100 yen, I'll prob still happily run off to Japan.

I think we finally recovered just before the trip, but the night before, the hubby complained of a painful throat. I just shove him some medication and well, it worked *cross fingers*.

The flight didn't have a promising start. We arrive nice and early, hardly any queue to check in ... then when we entered the boarding area, they announced that the flight would be delayed due to a mechanical fault. The flight was going to be delayed for at least an hour! In the end, V fell asleep and I conked out too (oops #2 is not going because of his sensitive lungs, I didn't want to take the risk). The plane even had to go somewhere else to be "repaired" and when it finally came back, we were happier, because it meant that we should be moving soon. They allowed us to board first (priority for parents with young kids) so we settled in quite quickly. Er, within 5 minutes, I conked out and I think I slept for at least 2 hours, within on and off disturbances from V. She too, eventually fell asleep, and I think she slept for about 3 hours. When we finally arrived at 3pm. The immigration and checkout was a breeze - no queue no crowds, and we were even the last to collect the luggage. We really wondered where the crowds went! We got the 3.45pm bus to the hotel (airport limo) and we finally arrived past 5pm. We were really tired, and V fell asleep half-way during the ride. We washed up and went to a "usual haunt" for dinner, but the server was no longer there. Ah well. Tomorrow will be a long day, we plan to spend the day at asakusa (well we originally planned to go to Puroland but with the side trip to Kyoto, we don't have any time to spend in Tokyo itself.

The hotel room is small, much smaller than the other building we are used to stay. But, we'll be here for 3 nights only, so we will just make do with it ... Tomorrow we will try to the noodle shop, but it seems to have disappeared too. We didn't see it when we were on the bus to the hotel ... I wonder what else have changed since we last visited in 2006 ...

Big scare of the day: On the flight, V suddenly asked me, "mummy, what is that red red thing?" I turned and saw, she was pointing to some red splatter on her colouring book. To my horror, her nose was bleeding! I freaked out because I do have a slight phobia of blood. I quickly wiped her nose with a wet tissue and tried to clean the book. She lay down for a little while to rest after the bleeding had stopped. She asked why her nose didn't bleed when we were flying to abd back from Hawaii, so I said, it's probably becuz she kept digging her nose! She went," but I have gold inside mah" *faint*

Joke of the day: we were talking about how much Yen it costs for something, then V went "my didi? Ian?" So we tried explaining to her yen = japanese currency, and not her didi, but she still went "ian my didi!" (we nicknamed Ian as "yan yan") ... ah the innocence of children.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

it has been a long while ...

since i last updated this blog ...

a lot has happened ... my sis and her family flew back from Hawaii for a visit - we didn't really get to do much since her visit sorta of coincide with the peak from my work ... plus her kids really had to sleep early (7pm) so nothing much we could do beyond 5pm since the kids have to be home, have dinner, shower and then off to the bed. But still, the kids (all 8 of them) got along very well ... my boy learnt how to sign for "more" from his cousin, my girl loves the bedtime stories by my sister so much that she bugs me to read to her before she sleeps. we managed to have a birthday "bash" for the August babies ... I baked the cake again this time, just that well, my baking went a little awry but still, the cake was heavenly! And ... we managed to fit everyone in for a photoshoot (well except for my eldest sister and brother, who both are overseas). We expected the photoshoot to be chaotic ... well, it was chaotic, and only slightly stressful, but the kids had fun! All the girls were dressed in similar kimonos so we had quite a few "kawaii" photos ...

I had the opportunity to catch up with baking too ... made some cookies and cakes ...

hmmm ... oh yes, and the kids ... V is so chatty these days. She is very "logical" in her arguments and sometimes, I can't win. Yes, I cannot win! #2 is also very chatty, picking up more words ... he can sign for milk, accompanied by "nuk nuk" and then signing for more. When he sees food (whether it's his or not), he says "EAT!!!!" He sees a bag, he'll happily carry it and say "gai gai". He sees a pair of shoes, he'll almost dive for it and struggles to put it on. I think he has a fetish for shoes. And ... as for his all time favourite ... soft toys ... It has come to a point that I don't even want to bring him to a shop selling soft toys. Because... if he sees one (in fact, it seems like every one) that he fancies, he'll lunge for it, grab it, hug it ever so tightly like a long lost friend and proceeds to kiss it passionately. By the way, he likes to watch girls too ...

Both of them like to play in the pool, so I try to bring them when I can ... if not, then we'll head to feed the fishes, while #2 proceeds to chomp on the bread.

Hmmm part of my absence is also due to my "fixation" with animes showing on animax too ... I'm currently watching maid sama and 1 more ... i'm thinking if I should just buy the box set and save myself the hassle of having to record it... oh ... I wanted to buy the DVD box set of Beach Boys (the japanese drama series) but it costs a whopping SGD$260 ... so I'll guess it'll just hang on for a little while more ...

now, I'm just waiting for my herbal chicken to be cooked, but doesn't seem to be so ... it's almost 2 hours but I cannot smell anything yet!!!! *argh*