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Monday, September 30, 2019

Pet Therapy

Saturdays are pet therapy days for us.  Cass and I will segued into the pet shop right after piano class and this has been going on for almost 5 years already! And we look forward so much to checking out if there're any new dogs, especially Samoyed, our favorite breed of dog.  Last Saturday, we saw a 'new arrival' and it's an adorable and fluffy black and white Border Collie! We fell in love with it instantly 💗

Next to the Border Collie was a breed of dog that we've never seen before and I was gobsmacked when I saw the RM12,800 price tag of the Russian Caucasian Mountain Dog!!! According to the pet shop staff, this is a very, very huge dog and it can grow into a gigantic dog.  This breed of dog is usually purchased by farm owners as guard dogs.

I couldn't get a close up picture of this dog and what you see here is only a 3-month old pup and it's already this big.  When it's a fully grown dog, it can be double the size of an adult, as shown in the pictures below:

Post image

As I was admiring the Border Collie and Russian Caucasian dog, Cass went to the back of the pet shop cum pet hotel to check out the dog boarding section and saw a Shih Tzu that would smile at her! She pulled me to the Shih Tzu and as I whipped out my phone camera, the little fluff ball let out a wide grin that exposed her teeth and tongue. Oh. My. Gawd.  I melted!!

Each time I whipped out my phone camera, the Shih Tzu smiled and wagged its tail. I think it's been trained by its owner to smile at the phone camera.

As long as we live in a condo, it'd be difficult for us to keep a dog as it's against the House Rules of the condo. The only way we can get our dose of pet therapy is to visit the pet shop and watch videos of cute pets and dogs 😆  I find these videos really uplifting, mood-boosting and lead to greater resilience to stress and bad days.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Lucky Girls

Our girls are extremely fortunate to have doting aunts (hubby's sisters) who frequently shower them with gifts.  Last week, Sherilyn received a couriered parcel and it's an original Lululemon yoga pants all the way from Hong Kong, from her loving 'koo ma' (my eldest SIL).

I don't even own a Lululemon pants myself and now my daughter has one. The material is super stretchable and buttery soft and quality superb. Now I'm really tempted to get my first Lululemon pants!!  Shopee / Lazada, here I come!!!!

Lululemon Athletica Sports Crop activewear sports long 7" pants for fitness, gym and yoga

Similar Lululemon Athletica Sports Crop 7" pants selling at RM118 at Lazada. Love the side pocket for phone.

Choosing Bridesmaid Dress Colour Palette

What wedding colours do you think of when you think about the four seasons of the year? If you're planning your wedding in the winter, I think of gold, stormy, royal blue, red and emerald green.  Pastel palettes look really sweet and flowery for weddings in the Spring. The bright colours of pinks and purples in the golden sunshine of the Summer can look stunning. The Autumn is a time for auburns, oranges, reds and dark greens.

If you're thinking of a unique color for your bridesmaids dresses, Stormy is another elegant and soft color scheme that you can consider for weddings in fall and winter. Stormy bridesmaid dresses have such a dramatic connotation, although the color itself is really beautiful. Inspired by the beauty of an impending storm, Stormy is a grey-blue that is calm yet fascinating.  This colour brings out the best of your skin color, especially if you have fair skin and it also has a slimming effect. A universally flattering color, Stormy is especially ideal for Winter weddings with a modern edge. Stormy is just perfect for floor-length styles, whether constructed from sheen or coarser fabrics.

Here are 5 things to consider before choosing your bridesmaid dress color(s):

1.  Consider the color of your bridal gown
Whatever color or style you choose, keep that color in mind so that your bridesmaids won’t clash while they stand next to you. If you’re going to wear a white bridal dress, you could consider champagne bridesmaid dresses, mauve, soft pink or soft blue for your bridesmaids. These are some of the favorite bridesmaid dress colors in 2019.

2.  Location is key
Your venue will literally set the stage for your wedding day so choose colors that complement the space.

3.  Consider your own personal style
If you’re a minimalist, having a pink or purple wedding would seem out of your element.

4. Colors
If you like the idea of having your bridesmaids in different colours, I recommend that they are all in the same colour palette. So, perhaps all in pink but in different shades so that they are still identifiable as your bridesmaids.

5. Consider multiple bridesmaid dress colors
Mix-and-match is hugely in trend now, so it’s not uncommon to see a variety of colors in the bridal party.

Other things to consider when choosing your bridesmaids dresses are the price, body types, skin tones and your girl pals' preferences. Choose a fabric and design that's comfortable as your bridesmaids will be wearing the dress for long hours.

Get inspiration from BM Bridal ~ there are tons of elegant and affordable BM dresses from this wedding apparel website. They have a great site with stylists who are available online to help you find the dress that you have in mind. You can ask them anything from styling and sizing advice and tips on the perfect accessories for your dress, or just a second opinion. They carry some absolutely stunning elegant gowns for the bride and bridesmaid that you’ll sure to love. Oh, they have bridesmaid dresses at half price and a time-limited Buy-2-Get-1-Free promotion too!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Portofino Bangsar South – Ristorante Italiano

Throwback post~

Our Malaysia Day lunch on Monday, 16 Sept 2019 was at The Sphere, Bangsar South again!  Just yesterday we were here for lunch. Hubs just loves this place. Whatever cuisine that he craves for, we can find it at Sphere. And I mean any cuisine, from Chinese to Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, keto, vegan, fusion, and local; all the fine restaurants and cafe are housed in one relaxing and clean lifestyle hub with green and beautiful award-winning landscape design, just 15 minutes away from home.

Today hubs feels like digging into some Italian food since we had Vietnamese yesterday. So he picked Portofino, though the girls and I were rooting for The Farm Foodcraft or Parklife.

I was feeling a tad bloated from the lack of exercise due to the long weekend and opted for something that's meat-free. I ordered mushroom soup and grilled vegetables. Just my kind of meal and I loved them.

Pumpkin soup for hubs.

As usual, before hubs and I could taste what we order, our food always gets taxed by our piranhas. By the time I finish snapping the pix, I'm always left with one or two mouthfuls!

Seafood risotto for Cass and she loved it too, though I find the risotto mushy. Hubs liked it too.

Seafood pizza for our pizza lover Alycia.  And for someone who does not fancy pizza, I actually whacked 1.5 pieces of this. The thin and light crust is smothered with a light tomato sauce and sprinkled with mellow mozzarella. With the combo of delightfully sauteed squids, prawns, scallops and olives baked into the cheese, this pizza is without a shadow of doubt, one of the yummiest pizzas we've eaten. The girls commented that it tastes so much better than the RM100 each pizza that we had early this year in a glitzy pizza restaurant in downtown KL, which we did not quite enjoy.

Seafood Ravioli adorned with baby shrimps in a flavorful tomato-y sauce for hubs

Grilled seabass fillet for everyone

And Tortellini for Sherilyn who only joined us later. She had a musical practice in school and her teacher so kindly brought her here.

Tiramisu and Italian Gelato, which were scarfed down by our 3 piranhas in under 5 minutes, leaving just one or two spoonfuls for the hubs and me. Thank God for them and I can still maintain my waistline though we pig out every weekend 😆

We enjoyed every single dish we ordered. Hubs was obviously super satisfied and happy with today's lunch.

I also found out that all of the flour for the pasta and pizza dough are imported from Italy. No wonder they taste so 'atas' 😊😋

Portofino Bangsar South – Ristorante Italiano
No. 1, Avenue 1
Bangsar South City
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Haze Holiday (Wednesday, 18 Sept 2019)

Sherilyn received a Whatsapp message from her school teachers at around 9:45 a.m. yesterday informing her that school's out for a day caused by the worsening haze. Like most school kids, she was overjoyed!  So was I!  School holiday = NO school run and NO mad rush cooking dinner!  She quickly removed her school uniform and donned on her outing clothes and to Mid Valley we went for retail therapy 😎

Again, I gave her the liberty to pick a restaurant of her choice for lunch and she chose Japanese.

The API breached the 200 level yesterday. It's worse today with a reading of over 300 at some areas in KL. We could smell strong acrid smog inside our house and outside was choking!

Cass and Alycia's schools were the remaining few schools in the Klang Valley that were still open yesterday.  We spent the whole day checking the Education Ministry's website and on the API reading to see if KL's API reading has breached 200 (API of 200 would mean closure of school). Finally we received notice from the respective ministries that all schools in the Klang Valley will be closed for 2 days (Thursday and Friday). Someone was too happy 😏

Sherilyn spent the entire evening practising the pieces on her guitar for a librarians' farewell party to be held this Saturday. Check out the hazy skies.

Dinner was grilled cajun, black pepper and turmeric chicken wings and ribs (organic Pineapple chicken), mash of carrots + sweet potatoes + cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and sweet corns.

For more information on organic Pineapple chicken, have a read here.

Sherilyn also made a healthy crispy vegetarian pizza using her homemade tortilla and homemade pesto, Camembert cheese, onions, cherry tomatoes, walnut and almonds.

Healthiest mash ever composed of sweet potatoes, organic cauliflower and carrots, seasoned with organic grass fed butter, salt, black pepper and fresh milk.   Dump everything into a mixing bowl and blend with a hand blender.  You can also blitz it in a blender.  With a hand blender, cleaning up is slightly easier.

Do give this no-guilt mash a try. It's healthy, wholesome, lower in carbs, full of fiber and vitamins and pretty easy to whip up!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Beating The Haze

The perennial crazy hazy dizzy days are back in Malaysia. Thank God I don't have any asthmatic patient in the house though we all have rather sensitive upper respiratory tract.  Everyone's been downing coconut water, chrysanthemum tea, honey, hydrogen water and popping supplements. And my diffusers are working hard in my bedroom and in the dining area where my work place is.

There's no way we can completely escape the haze. I can even smell the smog inside the house.  However, there are ways to reduce your discomfort and alleviate your symptoms. Here are some of them:

1) Avoid exposure.
Avoid exercising in the open. Aerobic activities make you breathe deeply, hence you suck in pollutants deep into your lungs. If possible, try to reduce being outdoors as much as you can.

2) Stay indoors and keep the air clean
Stay indoors as much as possible and keep the doors and windows closed. If you have an air conditioner, switch it on and ensure the air filter is clean. The use of suitable particulate air filters (air filters which remove solid particles from the air) within an enclosed area can also help. When the outdoor air quality appears to be worsening, close doors and windows. This will help to reduce the rate of haze particles entering the home. Portable air purifiers and HEPA filters may reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air.

3) Protect Yourself Outdoors
If you are sensitive to the smog, it is best to wear a mask when you are out and about to act as a filtration. While this is not a foolproof method, but every little action counts when it comes to keeping as much pollutants out as possible. When you have to be outdoors for several hours, an N95 mask can help filter out haze particles, including PM2.5 particles.

4) Stay hydrated.
Drink lots of plain water but you can opt for unsweetened green tea, herbal tea and Chinese tea to help you detox.  Keeping hydrated reduces the amount of smoke that can travel deep into your lungs. A minimum of 2 liters a day is what the doctor ordered. However, the more the better as it will help to flush out the toxins naturally.

5) Diffuse with essential oils
Diffusing is simply the process of dispersing essential oils into the air. The aromas from the essential oils fill your room or an area with natural fragrance, thus removing the burnt scent from the haze. Use only therapeutic-grade essential oils as you don’t want to breathe in toxic fumes diffused from synthetic oils.

Taken from the 5th floor of our condo at 7-ish a.m. on a public holiday on Monday, 9 Sept 2019:

While everyone was still in lala land enjoying their public holiday sleep in, I got up early as usual to get chores done and made everyone a cup of chrysanthemum tea with goji berries. Mine is with red dates for the added boost of iron.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Grandmother In Her 40s

Last week I had a chanced encounter with an ertswhile classmate's sister who is 2 years my junior at the supermarket.

Our eyes met and then that stranger who looked terribly familiar smiled at me and asked if I was Shireen. She then introduced herself as KF, KL's sister. I was so happy to be able to reconnect with a long lost friend and we jawed away incessantly for about 15 minutes.

The two sisters used to car-pool with me in my parents' cars almost throughout our secondary school years.  We lost contact after leaving school when we were 17 years old. That's 29 years ago!  And to think that she still recognizes me after almost 3 long decades, I must definitely be still looking the same! 😊😉 ahem!!  She looks almost the same too, except a little plumper, but still as pretty.  And she has 4 kids - 3 grown kids studying in college and university and the youngest daughter is in primary school.  She got married young and now at 44, her eldest has graduated from university already! How envious of me!

And then the shocker. She told me that KL, my former classmate is already a grandmother to 4 grandkids! Her eldest child is 26 years old.  I didn't ask how old her grandchildren are but being a grandmother in your 40s is something that's uncommon in our country in this generation. I think she must be the youngest grandmother amongst our group of classmates. WOW, I am so happy for my friend! The Chinese would call this 'good life' when you have grown up and independent kids and you're still so young. I can't imagine myself being a grandma now or even 10 years down the road when I'm 56 😂  though my mum was already a grandmother at 57.    Today I finally have the time to send a Whatsapp message to KL to reconnect with her and we've been chatting just like how we used to back when we were teenagers.

Here's what Sherilyn whomped up during the recent public holidays. I know it's totally unrelated to this post but I realized that my blogs have inadvertently morphed into a food blog 😄 and my readers are liking it as I've been receiving many messages from them asking me about restaurants and food.

Chocolate cookies made with sugar-free dark chocolate:

Strawberry smoothie with strawberry yogurt, fresh milk and fresh strawberries.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Quick Home-cooked Dishes & Healthy Breakfast

The mil has been away in New Zealand for a month and I've finally gained my cooking momentum. Practice makes perfect and this applies to everything including cooking.  Every time the mil goes away for several months, I always have a hard time to condition my mind and body to like cooking in the first few days that she's away. And when I finally get a handle on the spatula after a month or two, she's due to come home again. And then I lose the momentum  and get lazy again when she's around and the whole process repeats when she leaves again 😐

Here are some very quick, simple and wholesome dishes that I whipped out this week.

Braised pork shoulder with hard boiled eggs in the Philips Pressure Cooker (PPC)

Ingredients: Pork (preferably with some fats so that the cooked pork will not be dry), unpeeled garlic (1 bulb), 1 star anise, 1 cinnamon bark, Lakanto calorie-free sugar (keto compliant), pepper corn, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame seed oil, dash of Chinese cooking wine.

Instructions: Sear pork in PPC with star anise, cinnamon bark and add all the sauces, sugar, water, garlic and seal vent (choose beef).  Turn off switch and manual release vent.  Add in hard boiled eggs.  Press warm and flip the eggs until all sides are browned.

While the pork is cooking in the PPC, I did a quick stir fry of vegetables with shallots, garlic and homemade fish balls in the wok.

Yesterday, I dished out lemon rosemary and herbs grilled chicken. My first time cooking this dish. I watched a few recipes on You Tube, tweaked the recipes and techniques and came up with my own grilled chicken. The chicken was so juicy, tender and yummmmsssss!

Chicken thighs (5 huge boneless ones) are marinated for at least 3 hours with coriander powder, few sprigs of chopped fresh rosemary, black pepper, salt, sprinkles of cajun and turmeric, mixed dried herbs, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon Lakanto sugar and olive oil.

Sear chicken thighs in 2 batches in the PPC with butter and some olive oil - 3 minutes on each side or until slightly browned.
Thickly slice one whole lemon and add on top of the thighs.
Transfer to lined baking tray, drizzle olive oil over chicken thighs and bake at 180C for 15 minutes on each side.
10 minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, drizzle palm sugar syrup (gula Melaka) on the chicken.

The juice from the zesty lemon makes the chicken thighs super juicy!  And the intensely flavorful fresh rosemary gives a phenomenal flavor punch to the chicken. Dried rosemary doesn't have that intense flavor.

With the remaining chicken juice, oil and butter in the PPC, I made an easy sauce with a little soy sauce, Lea & Perrin sauce, water and fresh button mushrooms. Thicken the sauce with a little corn starch (optional).  Actually the chicken is so juicy I don't even need the sauce.

Two thighs kept for the fussy king and for Cass' lunch the next day.

Can you see just how juicy the chicken is? Searing the chicken briefly in the PPC and the juice from the lemon do wonders to the chicken meat. The kids sometimes comment that grilled chicken thighs are dry without sauce but this method of searing and adding a whole lemon into the baking tray make such a great difference.!  Plus the zesty lemony tang gives the chicken that extra little za-za-zoom!

This healthy yogurt bowl was prepped by Sherilyn for breakfast. It's composed of sugar-free skinny yogurt, one large sugar plum, Amazin' Graze kaya granola and Amazin' Graze 100% pure almond nut butter.

This health freak Dancing Queen sure knows how to use all my expensive stuff to whomp up a luxurious breakfast for herself.   Her breakfast are usually very appetizing and not to mention, over budget!

Today she made herself a luxurious pork burger using organic minced pork, onions and garlic. She also added an egg, cheese and avocado to the pan-fried multi-seed bun to curate a delish gourmet pork burger without letting me know while I was out shopping for groceries 😐

We love this almond nut butter from Amazin' Graze. It's stone-ground from 100% almonds without any added sugar, salt, oil or additive.  It's so good that my health freak Dancing Queen and I finished the entire bottle in a week! Time to get more nut butter from my favorite store again soon!