Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yes, we did have a one-year THREE year old birthday party (two kids, i mean who can keep track of all the birthdays?) but I'm way behind and those pictures are still on my camera so you can see the ones that I've actually loaded onto the computer.
video
This video was taken a few weeks ago so by now Emily is a much more proficient walker and usually chooses to walk instead of crawl. But it is adorable anyway so I thought you'd get a kick out of it, those not around to see her learning to walk. By the way, the high, piercing shriek you hear is not an exotic bird outside...that is the sound my daughter makes ALL. THE. TIME. It only becomes increasingly excited or agitated, depending on her mood, which only means that it gets louder and more pronounced. If this girl isn't a singer when she grows up I will eat my own foot.


There is a park just around the corner from our house and we'll go on walks with a detour via the park. It is tiny but perfect for our tiny kids, as long as we aren't covered in mosquito bites when we get home.

John bored with the swings and inspecting a huge seed instead.



Standing on a "relaxation path" that is covered with stones. He doesn't like walking ON it...just INSIDE it.



Emily refuses to even stand up on it. And I don't blame her. Take a closer look...



...I tried walking barefoot on this and had bruises on my feet for 2 days.



But daddy is willing to sacrifice his backside to pose for a family picture. (Minus mommy as the photographer.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How I Spent Chinese New Year 2009

Here are some of the things we either ate or learned about during Chinese New Year this year. (2009 = Year of the Ox). If things are listed in quotes, that means it is the closes I can come to a phonetic English spelling of the Chinese word. These words I believe are also Cantonese (???) but don't quote me on that.

Love Letters = thin, wafer-like sheet of slightly sweet biscuit that is either rolled into a cigar shape or folded into quarters. Deadly because they are so light you don't realize how many you've just eaten.

Sliced Root, Fried (couldn't figure out what the English name was) = kind of like a water chestnut...if you put the root (which sort of looks like an onion) into water it should grow beautiful, full, heart-shaped leaves. I took one home and it has been in a vase of water and has only sprouted white, flimsy arms...will keep you posted.

Pineapple tarts = awesome. Flaky pastry crust around a moist, pineapple center.

"Long Yoke" = cured/dried pork, like a sweet, moist jerkey.

Prawn Crackers (not my favorite) with Achar (definitely my favorite). Achar = spicy pickled vegetables (like carrots, cucumber & cabbage) with ground peanuts and sesame seeds on top. Achar = awesome.

Green Pea Biscuits = not green peas. These are a sweet/savory mini-cookie that took me a while to figure out were not actually made from peas. In the bulk-foods area of the grocery story, there are large bins labeled "green peas" that are quite obviously lentils. Thus, these biscuits are made with what we would call Lentil Flour.

"Kuih Bangket" = tapioca flour biscuits. Good but quite dry and crumbly. Imagine eating corn flour.

Mandarin Oranges = "Gkam" = a word that sounds like "Gold", which is why you take them to your neighbors to wish them good fortune.

"Hoong Bad" = red envelopes with money in them, given especially to children.

We also went out for a traditional meal on the very LAST night of Chinese New Year. These are our awesome dinner companions.


We came specifically for THIS dish because it is ONLY served at Chinese New Year so this was our only chance. It started out looking like this...


Then after we all jumped in with chopsticks and stirred it up together (the point is to try and lift it as high as you can, to ensure the coming year is prosperous)...


It looked more like this...


...and then you don't take any more pictures because it is SO good that you have to shovel as much in as you can before it is all gone. At least that's what I was doing. (Thanks to ANNE for taking these pictures!!!)

And finally for some more recent events...


A sign of things to come. John with his "Valentine" last weekend...


(Let's play a fun game...it's called "Insert your own caption for this picture." There were just too many to choose from, I couldn't decide.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tour of the City


Come take a tour around our place! There are some great pics of the city taken by my wonderful hubby to give you an idea of what it looks like where we live. (Also, he got to borrow his friend's motorcycle to ride around the city and take these, so it's not like he was going to say no to that.) The picture above shows the bottom of the hill on the way up to our house. It's a residential area but you essentially drive through jungle to get there. Yeah, I know. We think it's cool, too.

First up, we have a couple views of the Lake Gardens, a quiet wilderness in the middle of the city with walking paths, a man-made waterfall, a little trash in the water (not quite so nice) but mostly a clean, peaceful place.


(the picture below is looking back over the lake toward the city)




It lies across the road from the largest & nicest hotel in town, The Royale Bintang, which used to be a Hilton before the big boys in the Hilton Corporation realized, "Wait, why do we have a hotel in SEREMBAN of all places?!??? Nobody comes here!" and it changed hands a few times before becoming The Royale Bintang. We went there for a Christmas Day buffet with some friends (THANKS, MIOW LIN!!!) and recently learned that their bakery sells cakes at HALF-off after 7:30pm so you can guess where I like to go right before bedtime...nothing like getting a couple of kids sugared up before you send them off to dreamland.
They also have a fabulous spa where I got a wonderful, sleep-inducing, 45 minute pedicure on Christmas that cost me $15US. (Literally, I fell asleep for a few minutes while my feet soaked...they gave me a scented eye-cover, put on some soothing nature-type music, and the breeze blowing through the open-air structure put me right out.)

So, back to our tour...Michael also took some shots of the center of town, so to speak. There are really three MAIN roads in town, crisscrossed by quaint side streets of varying sizes. This is just one of those main roads (I can't be more specific since I wasn't actually present for the picture taking.)


And here is one of the (larger) side streets. We still have yet to explore all of downtown. Each shop is shoved up next to its neighbor like they are jockeying for space, linebackers standing in a row with their shoulders jammed into each other. A noodle shop is squeezed between a stationery store and a bakery. A hair salon (they're called "saloons" here...still cracks me up whenever I see a sign) will share a wall with a kitchen curio shop, which will be squeezed next to a curry joint, which will be shoved up against a dentist office, which will be leaning up next to a fabric store. And every street is so different. We could spend days just wandering around town, taking pictures of each shop or road stall or restaurant because there is so much COLOR and flavor.



Speaking of flavor...

This is one of our favorite seafood places...we just call it "The Crab Place" because there is no better place in town for crabs. I know, it doesn't look like the kind of place you'd get dressed up and go on a date...which is only partly right. We don't get dressed up. (It's too dang hot, anyway.) It's certainly a far cry from a place with reservations, or hostesses, or doors, for that matter, but after almost 2 years here I think I've grown accustomed to the "local flavor" of things. So when I look at this picture I don't think "dirty" or "salmonella" or "drug house" anymore. I just wonder if they have lime juice or bok choy or prawns (or satay, if John is with us...that boy can pack away the satay...)


OK, that's enough tour for now. We have more photos we may post later, but first I need to catch up on Chinese New Year festivities and traditions (mmmmmm...cured pork...) from 2009, the Year of the Ox. So hopefully I'll get those posted soon.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone this weekend! I hope you get yummy crab, or whatever your equivalent is in your little part of the world!

Friday, February 06, 2009

VOTE 4 ME


There are plenty of things I could currently post about (the spontaneous 3-day trip to Singapore we just returned from, awesome pics my hubby took around Seremban to give you a tour of the city) but instead I'm going to continue the shameless self-promotion to let you know my video was accepted by Tourism Queensland for "The Best Job in the World" and I could use your help!

See, there will be 11 candidates chosen to undergo final interviews before the big decision is made, and one of those will be a "wild card" candidate not chosen by the Tourism board but by viewers around the world! So, here's the plan:

1- Go view my video

HERE

(i know i've already posted it, but humor me.)

2- Give it 5 stars! (You don't even have to think it's the best, just do it cause you love me.)

*3- Send obnoxious emails to EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN YOUR CONTACTS telling them to do the same thing. *(OK this last step is optional but I will send you happy thoughts for a WEEK if you do.)

That's it. Now, wasn't that easy? Through your simple donation of time and mouse-clicking, you've brought hope & joy into someone's life. Doesn't it feel good to care? That's the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, February 02, 2009

January

So it's about time for a picture-fest. It was Emily's 1st birthday this month!!! So these are mostly of her. There's not really a lot of need for commentary, this is just for the G&G sets missing their grandkids. We love you!!!

Our princess

Playing with the blow-up pool from Christmas...best 10 bucks I've ever spent.

Love, love, LOVE the curly hair.

At our neighbor's house for a birthday party...little Kareen turned 1 just one week before Emily. Aren't they the cutest?


Gearing up for festivities...the ribbon says "Birthday Girl". Awwwww.


She LOVES these new shoes and will seriously freak out if she sees them and you don't get them to her fast enough. What is it about girls & shoes anyway?


But she loved her chocolate birthday cake as much as the shoes. That's my girl.


Profile of daddy & baby girl.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

future one-hit wonder

Driving home from KL on Saturday night, there was sliver of moon peeking out from behind clouds. Each time our car would turn at a bend of the road and it would reappear in John's sight in the back seat he would excited holler, "Whoop! There it is! Whoop! There it is!" I see a hit in the making.

readers