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Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve - 31 December 2017

In my 20s, New Year's Eve would mean splurging on an expensive dinner at a glitzy restaurant or hotel, after which the hubs and I would join our group of Ipoh childhood friends to count down at a disco or hotel.  After we were  married and had babies respectively, our group  had a hiatus in our new year's eve revelry for several years. When our kids were a little older, we continued with our year end tradition by taking the effort to have dinner together on the last day of the year  and then to count down at a hotel or at a friend's house. This year is an exception as two of the families are still vacationing in Japan.

This year my parents are here to celebrate the year end festivities and hubby's birthday with us again.  One of our yearly Christmas and New Year's Eve routine is to make a trip to Pavillion and Lot 10 to immerse ourselves in the festive mood and feast our eyes on the Christmas decor.

Though we had a heavy breakfast at the Lot 10 food court just an hour earlier followed by a huge Gelato ice-cream on cone each for the girls (costing a whopping RM66 for three), the hubs dragged us all to one of the cafes at Pavillion for a sinful indulgence in cakes, coffee, tea and juice.

Papa and mum, with Albert Einstein behind them 😆

We were tickled pink to have chanced upon someone in real life who looked so much like Albert Einstein, the German mathematician and physicist. The girls were chiding me for secretly snapping a picture of 'Albert Einstein' but the paparazzi in me just can't help it! 😆

56 Mind-Blowing Albert Einstein Quotes

While everyone else had sushi and sake at Isetan The Japan Store @ Lot 10,  Drama Queen and I shopped for clothes at H&M.

Dinner was at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. We had a quiet and low-key count-down to new year at home this year with a spectacular view of fireworks from KLCC and other spots in KL from the comforts of our condo.

Thank you all for reading this post, which is my last post for 2017, for following this blog and for being part of Health Freak Mommy for the past 10 years.  I know some of you have been following my blogs since April 2007.

I wish and pray that the year 2018 will be a great year for you, your family and for my family and me.

With love 💓

Monday, December 25, 2017

Singapore Road Trip - Day 1 (21 Dec 2017)

The van drive, Kim picked up my parents and younger brother, Roy from Ipoh at 6:30 a.m. today. They reached KL at 8:30 a.m. and we had breakfast at our neighborhood coffee shop before starting our journey.

The traffic was super smooth from KL all the way to the Woodlands Checkpoint.  We made toilet stops almost every hourly and the R&R areas were not congested. Toilets were clean and I was pleased as punch 😁 
Dirty toilets always spoil my mood and make me nauseated.

Cool treats for the girls at Baskin-Robbins @ one of the R&R areas in Johore.

Everything went smoothly until we reached the Woodlands Checkpoint. It was high drama, well, at least to me.

It is a norm for me to whip out my phone to snap pix at the Customs in every country that I step into.  I have not encountered any problem doing it.  However, the second I whipped out my phone from my bag and started to take pix, a female ICA officer ran towards me hollering "NO PHOTO TAKING!!!"

Show me your photo album now. Delete all the photos that you took. 
(while checking through my phone's photo album)

The manner and tone I was talked to made me feel as if I was a criminal 😣

When I went through my Google Plus photo album just a moment ago, I discovered that the photo had already been auto synchronized from my phone to the photo album.  But I ain't posting the photo here lest I get arrested for releasing confidential images of the country's Customs.  A rule is still a rule and I shall not break any country's rule.

The next drama was when mum's finger prints could not be read by the scanner. After 20 minutes of failed scanning, I was ordered by the Customs officer to accompany mum to a special room. When we were escorted to the room along with other similar fate travelers, we felt like criminals being escorted into a detention center for interrogation. 

Long story short, after over an hour stuck in the Customs, we were finally out, lugging all our heavy luggage and gifts for the babies.  Papa was terribly worried when we were still not out from the special room after more than half an hour.

We managed to check into our hotel (Aqueen Hotel at Balestier Road) before 6 p.m., the cut-off time for our booked rooms to be released.  We chose this hotel as it is just a few steps away from my brother's apartment.

The room that we got was a shoe box size compact room.  Thankfully I had read the reviews on the hotel on how super small the rooms are.  I had actually packed all my stuff into a large size luggage bag but changed into a smaller bag at the eleventh hour.  Had I used the large size luggage bag, there will be no place to put the bag in our room. Our luggage bags had to be placed behind the door, next to our  shoes.  😷

The bathroom is uber compact too but that's quite fine as only Cass and I are sharing the room.  Alycia and Sherilyn are sharing another room that is slightly bigger.

Dinner was at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant at Dempsey Hill where our  long awaited moment arrived. We met the wonder twins; the super adorable Raezen and Raeanne.  Born prematurely, they beat all odds and are now thriving and growing cuter and cheekier by the day.

The babies love being carried. Each time they start crying, I'll be the first to jump at the opportunity to pick them up to give them a good cuddle. I really miss cuddling babies.

Cousins bonding over dinner:

Big brother Ray ordered gigantic crabs, cooked in two styles: sweet and sour and black pepper.  The claws are as big as mum's palm.

Look at those gigantic crab claws! This is a real treat that would put any crab lover into a joyous mood.

Scottish Clams steamed with garlic and glass noodles. This dish is filled with all manner of deliciousness-- juicy, fresh and tender meat (and not rubbery) flavored with the natural sweetness of the clam and aroma of the minced garlic and spring onions.

Steamed fish; braised spinach with salted egg and century egg.

Sweet and sour pork and 'choy tarm' vegetable.

Deep fried cereal prawns and braised assorted mushrooms with broccoli.

A multiple occasion celebration: big brother Ray's birthday, niece Raelyne's 6th birthday, early Christmas celebration and Yong family reunion.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Kitchen Helper Is Back!

The day after Drama Queen returned from her 9-day adventure in Hong Kong with Alycia, she was raring to cook again. That was music to my ears when she said that she would help me cook dinner, woo hoo!!

With her help, we placed 5 dishes on the dining table.  It was fridge-clearing day as the next day was our trip back to Ipoh.

Stir-fried turkey, onion omelette, Mediterranean potato, sauteed yau mak  with garlic and sauteed kangkong with fu yue (fermented bean curd).

The turkey is left over from our BBQ dinner, stir-fried with garlic and a special sauce that the foodie hubs concocted with turkey innards.  Very yums!

This Mediterranean potato is a completely new dish cooked by Drama Queen, the recipe of which she Googled for.  This appetizing dish goes well with rice or as sauce for roast chicken. 

Sauteed yau mak with garlic and sauteed kangkong with fu yue, cooked by Drama Queen.  The vegetables were harvested by the girls' grand aunt from an organic vegetables plot at the neighborhood that she lives in.

Cassandra's Hair Cut

Our stay in Ipoh will often include a trip to our regular hair salon for the girls to get their hair trimmed. This non-air conditioned old-fashioned hair salon provides no-frills hair cut at a fraction of the price one would have to fork out at funkier air-conditioned hair salons. I don't mind as long it does not have to burn a hole in my wallet.  The girls have been getting their hair cut at this salon since their very first hair cut when they were babies.

It was a tad challenging to get Cass to get her hair trimmed this time. She wouldn't allow the hair stylist to trim more than 4cm of her hair. I think the hair stylist trimmed more than that and even tapered some of her thick luscious hair.   My fussy pot wasn't too happy with the outcome, especially when she saw how much of her hair was on the floor.  Her chopped hair was enough to make  Brazilian hair bundles like the ones shown below for those in need of a wig, I kid you not.  That's how thick her hair is. Wish I still had such thick hair.  Thankfully the severe hair fall that I experienced earlier this year has stopped and I don't need to consider getting some cheap lace front wigs with baby hair or lace frontal with baby hair. I can't wait to see more baby hair growing on my scalp.

After the hair cut, Miss Fussy Pot vowed that she will not cut her hair again for the next 2 years and now wants to leave her hair till it touches her waist. 😆 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ipoh Trip - Day 2 (14 Dec 2017)

Hello from 'Par Lor' a.k.a. 'Yi Pau' / Ipoh!

Today we went to Ipoh new town to shop for biscuits for the biscuit-craze daughter. We went to Ching Han Guan, a well-known biscuit shop since 1949.  Papa and mum used to bring me to this biscuit shop ever since I was a toddler.  This shop used to be my happy place. I was allowed to choose any type of biscuit that I fancied.  Buying biscuits was one of our simple and economical luxuries in the early 1980s.  In those days, biscuits were stored in large glass containers and we could buy them in just about any quantity. Now the biscuits are pre-packaged and sold at fixed prices.  More profit for the owners definitely, eh? From Ching Han Guan, we segued into Yee Hup, another biscuit and pastry shop since 1981 to get more goodies for the girls and friends.



After biscuits shopping, we went to Kinta City shopping mall.  Papa and mum gave money to the girls for them to buy books as Christmas gifts from them.

Papa also gave RM100 to Alycia as belated birthday present.  The girl was bursting with joy! Who wouldn't eh?

The girls at the happiest place on earth for them - book stores. First stop was at MPH and then Popular.

Cass and Alycia with their loot:

After shopping at Aeon,  Cass tried her luck at the claw machines in the arcade. With just RM3 from me for 3 tries at the bouncy ball claw machine, she got a neon color bouncy ball at the 3rd and last try. No words could describe how awesomely happy she was. Finally, after countless of failed attempts at the claw machines from KL to Ipoh, she succeeded. Just a day earlier at Tesco Ipoh, she tried 4 rounds at the claw machines but didn't win anything.

A cheap mini bouncy ball that cost me RM3!  It is not so much of the value of the toy but the thrill and adrenaline rush one gets trying his/her luck at the machines that makes this past-time so addictive. Just like gambling, this addictive game can cause quite a damage to your wallet.  I saw a woman who spent RM20 on a soft toy claw machine at Tesco Ipoh yesterday and she left empty handed. And the cheapo looking soft toy made in China probably costs no more than RM1 or RM2 each 😬

For the second night in a row, we had dinner at Goose Incense Pavillion, Ipoh.  After a sumptuous  and satisfying dinner yesterday with Alycia drooling over the fried bread with prawns dish that the next table had, we returned today to try this dish.

The sweet and sour prawns wrapped in fried bread (RM55) is the bomb. The fried bread is crispy on the exterior and soft on the inside. This sweet bread is then dipped into the sweet and sour prawns gravy. It comes with a generous portion of big prawns. This unique dish will likely earn this restaurant a place in Ipoh foodies ‘must try’ list.

Fried meehoon with Chinese sausage, prawns, pork, eggs, red chilies and bean sprouts:

Steamed chicken with ginger paste and spring onions; steamed egg (Cass' favorite):

The bookworm wrapped up in her new novel:

Goose Incense Pavilion Restoran Sdn Bhd
33 Jalan Medan Ipoh 7, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh.
Tel: 05 541 6006

Monday, December 11, 2017

Lazy Dinners Cooked With Help From Daughters

I definitely perform better under stress. During the school holidays, I tend to get lackadaisical.  I get 2-3 hours of extra sleep each day and when I wake up at 8 a.m., I tend to do chores at a slower pace, at my own sweet time. There is nothing to rush for  except that on some days, we have places to go to, I have errands to run and the girls have tuition.  I am even slacking in my daily morning exercise regimen.  I have not gone out to run or swim ever since the school holidays started 😳😴  But you know what, I didn't gain an ounce of weight. In fact, I lost about 1-2kg. That's because I only eat 2 meals a day during the school holidays.  We have brunch at 11ish a.m. and dinner at 7-ish p.m. vs two breakfast, lunch and dinner (total of 4 meals) on a school-going day.

Here are some interesting facts on sleep and body weight which all dieters must know!

Along with eating right and exercising, getting quality sleep is an important part of weight maintenance.

Even with the very best diet and fitness routine, if sleep is off, you're wrecked!

Not sleeping enough--less than seven hours of sleep per night, can reduce and undo the benefits of dieting, according to a research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study, dieters were put on different sleep schedules. When their bodies received adequate rest, half of the weight they lost was from fat. However when they cut back on sleep, the amount of fat lost was cut in half—even though they were on the same diet. What’s more, they felt significantly hungrier, were less satisfied after meals, and lacked energy to exercise. Overall, those on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55 percent reduction in fat loss compared to their well-rested counterparts.

See the connection between sleep and weight now? I can see and feel it now!

Ok, back to food talk!

For dinner, if Drama Queen is around, she would help around in the kitchen.

These are the two dinners that Drama Queen helped to cook:

Dinner #1
Roast chicken and blanched bok choy with soft, fluffy and pillowy pancakes prepped by Drama Queen:

Doing what she loves best:

I made extra grilled chicken thighs and Cass had grilled chicken with toast and tomatoes before she went to school to attend a STEM Lab holiday program the next morning.

Dinner #2
Grilled pomfret fish with turmeric, Teriyaki sauce and black pepper; stir-fried broccoli and sauteed portobello mushrooms with garlic and butter (both cooked by Drama Queen).

As we could not finish the fish, Cass helped to debone the fish. The fish meat was used as one of the ingredients in our fried rice the next day.

My girls are no longer physically challenging but as they are a little older now, they mentally challenge me every single day but they are definitely my most precious gems, my gifts from God 💗

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Shopping With Cass @ Avenue K (Friday, 8 Dec 2017)

With Christmas arriving in just 2 weeks, we won't have much time to do our Christmas shopping as we will be traveling in the next 2 weeks to Ipoh and Singapore. Since piano class today is cancelled last minute, I jumped at the opportunity to go shopping with Cass.

At a few touches on my phone and waiting time of only 10 minutes, the Uber driver arrived to chauffeur us to KL. I have never liked driving to downtown KL, especially to the Golden Triangle area for many reasons: horrendous traffic, road closures, throat cutting car park rates, finding a car park and much more.   I am so thankful that we now have ride-hailing services like  Uber and GRAB to help us move around KL and PJ at a few swipes on the phone.

Our first Uber driver was a 71-year old Malay grandfather who is a retired soldier. He was talking about politics with me all the time. The traffic into the KLCC area was horrific and it took us 40 minutes to reach Avenue K.   Our second Uber driver who drove us home was a very quiet but  handsome young lad in his late teens, driving a Nissan Almera.  Nosy parker me asked if the car belonged to his dad but he said it's his car.  Seriously, a teenager owning a Nissan Almera? I doubt so la.  Anyway, traffic from Avenue K heading back home was much worse.  It took us over an hour to get home. O.M.G.  I started to get worried when Mr Handsome kept changing routes. And he didn't use Waze or Google Maps. He was asking me directions to get home. And my direction sucks. It was a case of blind leading the blind and fortunately I led him to the correct turnings and we reached home safely.  By the time we reached our condo, the latest fare showed RM36, including toll for using the SMART Tunnel whereas the earlier fare on my phone showed only RM18.  But Mr Handsome was really nice. He said I could pay him just RM18 but I paid him RM19.  I always pay my Uber drivers tips.

We reached Avenue K at 1-ish p.m.  Cass and I hadn't taken our breakfast and we were famished. We charged into Bankara Ramen but had to wait for almost half an hour before our bowl of Tonkatsu ramen arrived. We were SO SO hungry!

After lunch, we shopped at H & M.  Many items were on sale and some were on a 50% discount. I then realized that it's Black Friday Sale, woohoo! I was so happy!  I managed to grab some really great deals for the girls, friends' kids and myself.

The red top that I bought for Drama Queen just 3 weeks earlier was now selling at only RM20 and I had bought it at RM49.90! My heart crushed. I snapped a picture of the red top with the price tag of RM20 and Whatsapped it to Drama Queen who was having a gas with Alycia and her cousin in Disneyland at that time.

Cass and I trying on a mother-daughter matching dress. Too bad my persnickety girl didn't like her dress. I got my jersey dress anyway as the marked down price was just too good to resist.

After H&M, I brought Cass to Popular Bookstore for her to claim her reward for getting  good grades in her final exam. We managed to get some very good deals at Popular as well. Some books went as low as RM10 from RM40.

Next up I treated Cass to Baskin Robbins ice-cream. I got a RM3 Weekday School Holidays discount for a regular scoop of ice-cream.

After ice-cream we did our Christmas shopping and thankfully we managed to get something useful for everyone on our list.

While waiting for our Mr Handsome Uber driver to arrive, we did some camwhoring at the concourse area.

After 3 hours of walking and shopping non-stop, Cass conked out the moment she plonked herself onto the car seat, oblivious to the horrendous traffic jam, which took us over an hour to reach home.

We reached home at 5:30 p.m.  With so little time left to prepare dinner, I whipped up something simple and quick yet absolutely yummy and nutritious.

Organic seaweed noodles with braised minced organic pork, organic cabbage and poached egg.  Besides the cooking oil, garlic and onions, everything else in our dinner is organic.  Cass loved it!  I still have another portion of braised minced pork + cabbage in the freezer, enough for two more bowls of noodles for us.