Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sleepy sleepy day



This post is a day late. I'm not sure if I'm still recovering from the late night I had on Sunday, but I was soooo sleepy the whole of Tuesday. Or it could be the side-effects of the acupuncture treatment I had in the morning. It was so relaxing, I loved it. My first experience; going again on Thursday.

Again, I did not cook dinner. Instead, we dropped by Original Maids of Honour after school and had an early dinner of steak pies, scones and coffee.

I slept at 930pm and only woke up at 8am Wednesday. And I already had an afternoon nap after the acupuncture, napping from around noon to 230pm.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yawnnnnn.....



Ed was not gonna be back for dinner so I bought roast chicken from the organic poultry shop downstairs, voila, dinner's done. Very cheap £4, saves me the trouble. I don't do this often, it's just that I'm really, really, pooped right now.

Had a very late night yesterday, played mahjong till midnight (won £20, shiokers) and missed the live finale of Celeb Big Brother. So I stayed up till 4am to watch the repeat show. Of course I couldn't get out of bed at the usual time of 7am. Ed made breakfast for the boys; I think I said goodbye to Brian from my room. Finally forced myself out of bed at 10am to find Sean in his room happily reading Garfield. Because of me, he missed school today.

Rebecca, who flew in from Athens on Sunday, came by with Marise and we had lunch at Ma Cuisine. Made plans to have dimsum at Yauatcha on Wednesday.

Throughout the day, I felt so tired. I really don't have the stamina to stay up late anymore. It's 930pm now and I'm calling it a day. Nite...


Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sean and subtraction



Sean gave me a pleasant surprise today by doing very neat and good work in math today. Just compare the writing here with the one done the last time I posted about his math. As recently as a few days ago, his handwriting was still all over the place.

And he seems to have figured out his own way of adding and subtracting when bigger numbers are involved. I had taught him my preferred way of 'keep the bigger number in head' strategy. This strategy had worked well with Brian but Sean could never remember to use it; he would use it (reluctantly) only when reminded. Sensing his frustration, I had stopped insisting that he used this strategy, in fact, I had pretty much eased off on his addition in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, I introduced him to subtraction and somehow once he learned that, he could do his addition much better. His method is pretty interesting; he still relies on his fingers, but when he adds, eg 8+5, he would put up 8 fingers, then count up 1...2..., once all ten fingers are up, he closes (right word?) all his fingers again, then continue with 3...4...5..., raising 3 fingers altogether; and looking at the 3 fingers which are up, would remember he had 10 earlier, and answer correctly...13. He does the same with subtraction, eg, for 20-4, he would bring up 10 fingers, but would tell himself it's 20, then bring down four fingers, leaving 6 fingers up, and correctly answer...16. I definitely didn't teach him this. It's probably not as abstract as the keep bigger number in head strategy, but not entirely concrete either.

Here he is doing his subtraction....he has this habit of asking me if he's got the right answer after every sum, which I'm trying to get him to stop. You can also hear him asking "Why am I subtracting?".



At Sean's age, Brian had already attended abacus, and then Kumon classes (that's how it is with first-borns of gancheong moms). Kumon doesn't believe in using fingers for math, the child is supposed to add and subtract everything in the head, speed is of utmost importance. I had considered starting Sean on Kumon here in London as I felt I wasn't making much headway in math with him. But I think I'll just leave him be for the moment and let him muddle his own way through.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What's cooking?


For dinner tonight; steamed fish hongkong style, stir-fried ginger pork, steamed lapcheong, ABC soup and garlic spinach. I always try to have one meat, one vegetable and one soup for dinner but when the meat is fish, I'll have to cook another meat cos Eddie doesn't like fish.

Recipe for stir-fried ginger pork has been uploaded. I've managed to cook the garlic spinach so that it tastes very much like the one served at a pizza joint in Frankfurt that's very popular with SQ crew. Will share the recipe another time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Delicious braised pork loin


Cooked Braised Pork Loin Steak for the first time today and it was a hit with everyone. Not too difficult, have a go at it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Arctic freeze arrives


Woke up to snow today, boys were thrilled. We didn't get snow this thick last winter and I really wasn't expecting to see snow in London....yayyyy and brrrrr....
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Oh, last week Sean had actually said he wanted to see snow. I told him to ask his Daddy to bring us to a place with snow cos I really didn't think it would snow in London.

This morning, after he saw the snow, he smiled and asked, "Mummy, why did God make it snow? Is it because God loves us?"

I answered him honestly, "Yes darling, remember last week you said you wanted to see snow? You see, God loves you so much he made it snow."

Amazon package arrives, yahoo!


I finally redeemed the Amazon gift voucher Hsien had given us for Christmas, and the boys were thrilled with their presents. For Brian, Tintin in the Congo and Tintin in the Land of Soviets, thus completing the boys' Tintin collection; for Sean, Rush Hour Traffic Jam Puzzle
and for me Walk the Line dvd. Also topped up for a retro kitchen timer. On-line shopping is fun!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Coming soon: Arctic freeze!



Lunch (beef steak ciabatta - excellent, cheese mushroom focaccia - good, and mango cheesecake - not too bad) was at John Lewis' Espresso Bar in Kingston. Katherine and I went to Kingston this morning for some window-shopping and Sean joined us cos I was not sure if I could make it back in time to pick him up from school.

Was happy to find Lidl, my favourite German grocery-store, has opened in Kingston. Lidl is really making its mark in UK, how I wish it would set up shop nearer to us.

We had a foretaste of the arctic freeze we've been warned in the papers to expect this week; gosh, it was soooo coldddddddd!!!! I've been sneezing lots this evening, I think I'll be snuggling in my warm bed the rest of this week. Do not disturb.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Miracle dust-grabber



I'll be blogging when I can about household products that work and don't; also, about things I'm doing to make housekeeping that little bit easier/more efficient. I'm always looking for ways to do things faster and easier. No choice, laziness runs through my bones.

We'll start off with Flash, this unassuming little tool really lives up to its promise. It's a duster that grabs dust in between its fibre, instead of just transfering dust to the air or somewhere else, as other dusters do.

Pic 1: Light plastic handle.
Pic 2: Slide handle into the duster.
Pic 3: Fluff duster before use.
Pic 4: Super-useful for removing dust from all surfaces and tiny crevices.

Each duster lasts about 2 weeks for normal use. I threw my first one out after a few uses, cos my dust was at least a year old! Flash really grabbed all the thick dust that had accumulated under the dvd and tv, behind the pc, on bookshelves, everywhere. Definitely worked, highly recommended.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I'm a stationery junkie



It all kicked off when I started work on my Home Management Binder in early January. I was supposed to decorate my binder before moving on to the other sections of the binder, but on a visit to Chiswick's WH Smith with Sarah, I fell in love with a patchwork-motif arch-lever file (right) and happily decided to use it as my binder. I also goaded Sarah into buying a Keepsake Box for baby boys (left) which was on sale; it was so gorgeous I bought one for myself too, and am using it to store my excessive lot of stationery items.



When I visited Richmond's WH Smith early this week, I found this book/magazine holder, and it matched my binder, I just had to have it. Not cheap, £5. I also bought the same binder I had bought in Chiswick just in case the one I'm using gets dirty or damaged.

And presenting...my haul of stationery items bought over the past two weeks.



They include 4 arch lever files, a magazine holder, a keepsake box, gel pens, felt pens, cd markers, roller-ball pens, stacks of post-its, dry-erase markers, 4 stacks of page dividers, 100 clear page protectors, 3 boxes of A4 photo paper and stick-on index tabs. Not in the photo is the guillotine (paper cutter) I bought from Lidl yesterday.

The two stripey arch-lever files in the middle of the photo were on sale at WH Smith, so I got them to file Brian's and Sean's stuff. Sean's really gotten into the whole filing business, and keeps drawing pictures, then punches holes into them and files them himself.

I've been a stationery junkie for as long as I can remember. I balk at spending £40 on clothes or even shoes, but won't blink an eye when it comes to spending on stationeries. Are you a stationery junkie as well?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

C is for Cookie...



...that's good enough for me...These three cookies were decorated by Sean in school. They're always baking or making some food in school; he's brought home fruit salads, pancakes, apple crumble and all kinds of cakes.

When he got home, he promptly ate two cookies, then said, "I want to leave the last one for koko." (which was to me the best one, the one with all the chewy colourful sweets on it) I see this with my friends' kids as well; the younger child always remembers to share good stuff with their older sibling, the reverse however doesn't always hold true.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Science at home 4



Brian's home with a sore-throat today. Sean pretended to cough so he could stay home too. It was a good thing they stayed home cos I can't imagine doing the school run with the typhoon-like winds blowing so madly today.

The other day, we conducted an experiment that showed air occupying space, today we find out if air has mass.

To measure mass, you need a beam balance. I managed to construct one using thread and some discarded cardboard.

Objective: To show that air has mass
Procedure:
Picture 1: Two balloons are filled with air and balanced on a beam.
Picture 2: One of the balloons is then burst with a pin.
Outcome:
Picture 3: The balance tilts to the side of the intact balloon.
Explanation: Air has escaped from the orange balloon when it was burst. As a result, the yellow balloon, which contains air, is heavier than the orange balloon, because of the mass of the air inside.

CONCLUSION: Air has mass.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trumpeting our cares away



This term, Brian is learning to play the trumpet during music lessons in school; last term it was the cello. He was allowed to bring home the trumpet and for Family Fun Time, the boys had a blast blasting the neighbourhood away with their trumpeting.

Kids pick things up so quickly. Brian could really blow a tune, and he also taught Sean the proper way of blowing the trumpet, and the little fella did it correctly on his second try. I had a few gos at it, but all I could garner were some miserable PFFFFTTTTPFFTFFS...sigh, when I was in my primary school band, I tried the trumpet but couldn't get a sound out of it, age and time have not made a difference, I'm still rubbish at it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

World War 2 reporting by B Leong

Brian practising for his class assembly performance tomorrow. He's a British reporter during the Second World War. His angmoh accent is reserved only for school and when conversing with his friends. With us, he automatically switches back to his Singaporean accent. Thankfully, he hardly picks up the Singlish that Eddie & I use all the time, phew!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Good book buys



So weird; yesterday I wrote about Sean's obsession with universe- and human body-related matters, and at WH Smith today, I found books on these topics, at half price! It's not as if all books were half-priced, actually, these two were among the few books on discount. I had been eyeing the Universe book for some time now but balked at the hefty £30 price tag. £15 is a bargain for such a hefty and informative tome; the pictures inside are gorgeous. The human body book was £9 after discount and comes with 2 giant posters featuring the anterior and posterior views of the entire body.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Lego time conversation



Tonight, I was playing Lego with Sean (Brian was having Chinese tuition) and we had this conversation.
Me: Sean, do you like Mummy?
Sean: Sometimes.
Me: Sometimes? I thought you like me all the time.
Sean: Only sometimes.
Me: When do you like Mummy?
Sean: When you play Lego with me.
Me: When do you not like Mummy?
Sean: When you scold me.
Me: :(
Me: What about Daddy? Do you like him sometimes or all the time?
Sean: Sometimes.
Me: When do you like Daddy?
Sean: When he gives me all the things that he eats and drinks.
Mummy: When do you not like Daddy?
Sean: When he makes you scold me.
Mummy: Do you like koko sometimes or all the time?
Sean: Sometimes.
Mummy: When do you like koko?
Sean: When he plays with me.
Mummy: When do you not like koko?
Sean: When he does his work.

Talk about conditional like!
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When Sean was younger, he loved everything ocean-related. His current favourite topics are universe- and human-body-related.

Out of the blue he would say things like "Mummy, Pluto doesn't have rings like the outer planets because it is not made of gas, it is made of ice." Okay, I knew it wasn't made of gas, but the ice info is new to me.
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And earlier in the week, he came out of the toilet and suddenly talked about the Epiglottis. I couldn't make out what he was talking about. He said "Epiglottis, the one that stops water from going into the lung." I still didn't know what he was saying, the only word I latched on to was Water, and he had just come out of the toilet, so I asked, "Is it about Flushing?" "Nooo, the one that stops the water from going into the lung." I asked, "Where did you read that from?" "The Human Body book," he replied. I nodded, "Oh, okay." as I went back to Sarah, who had come by for a visit.

About 5 minutes later, while I was chatting with Sarah in the dining area, he showed me a diagram of the digestive system from his book and sure enough, in small italic near the oesaphagus was the Epiglottis. In Singapore's Primary 3 book, this part of the body is only referred to as a flap that stops food/water from going into the windpipe. I had never heard of Epiglottis, and when I checked with Brian, neither had he.
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The downside of this is his eyesight; I've caught him squinting when looking at things 6 feet away. I'm filled with a sense of dread every time I catch him squinting; Brian started wearing glasses when he was 6, Sean is only 4+. When Brian was 4+, he did not have access to books with tiny words. But Sean is reading all the books that I had bought for Brian was he was maybe 5 or 6. I've been trying to distract him from books, hence Lego tonight, but every chance he gets, he would read, and when I tell him to stop, he whines, "But I like reading."

I gave him an eye massage at bedtime just now. I've hidden all their Tintin and Garfield comics, and told him he'd be allowed to read them for half an hour a week. But he's learning so much from his other books on science which have equally small words, that it doesn't make sense to hide those too. I'll just have to remember to make him take frequent short breaks and look out the window. Else he'll quickly join the rest of his family to become as Auntie Karen calls it a Si Mak Gao (four-eyes).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Goldmine again...



For lunch today; Three Treasures Steamed Eggs, Duck Rice, Kam Sa (literally: Golden Sand) Crab and Winter Melon Soup. If there's an award for Creature of Habit (Family Category), we'd surely win it; we go to Goldmine practically every week. And tomorrow, almost as sure as the sun will rise, we'll end up at Sakura for lunch.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sinfully good pate



When the boys are at school, I usually have this for lunch; toast with Sainsbury's Duck and Orange pate with Orange Liquer. Yes, that is the amount of pate I have in one session. This pre-packed pate is not as good as the fresh ones in Frankfurt's supermarkets, but beggars can't be choosers. My Frankfurt buddy Wendy loves pate too (we share a love for liver as well), but she told me a slab of pate lasts her many days while I'm able to finish mine in a couple of days when the craving strikes. It's sinful, yes, sinfully good, that is.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Science at home 3

Science in Singapore is taught starting from Pri 3. I have not kept Brian up to pace with Singapore's science syllabus but have decided it is time to now that he is in Pri 4. He has learnt that Matter is anything that has mass and occupies space while Non-Matter has neither mass nor occupy space (eg heat, shadow). The 3 states of Matter are Solid, Liquid and Gas (actually there are 2 more, Plasma and Bose-Einstein Condensate but Singapore's textbook says 3).

It's easy enough to see that Solid and Liquid have mass and occupy space, but not so for gas is it? Air is made up of different gases, and it is Matter. Today we conducted an experiment to show that air does occupy space (experiment on air having mass is for another day).



First row of pictures (left to right):
Objective: To show that air occupies space
Procedure:
Picture 1: Fill a container with water.
Picture 2: Place an empty glass (I actually don't have a single glass in the whole house!, had to use a plastic container) invertedly in the container.
Outcome:
Picture 3: Water does not enter the glass. Glass remains dry.
Explanation: There is air inside the glass. As the glass is placed into the container of water, the air cannot escape and prevents water from entering the glass.

Second and third rows of pictures (left to right then down):
Objective: Same as above
Procedure:
Picture 4: This time, place the glass in the container but tilt it so that the air escapes and water fills the glass. Slowly place a straw under the glass.
Picture 5: Blow air into the glass of water with a straw.
Outcome:
Picture 6-9: Water level in the glass drops as air is being blown into the glass of water. Water level outside the glass will rise.
Explanation: The air that is blown in has displaced the water in the glass.

CONCLUSION: Air occupies space.

Ludo in London


I've instilled some order in my life with a home management schedule, so much for "less routine, more life." The schedule is still a work-in-progress, but so far, it's been good; the house has never been cleaner, there's no mountain-load of unfolded laundry on the sofa, I'm spending way less time surfing the net aimlessly, the boys are bickering less and are more cooperative, and they are also doing lots more productive work and spending lots less time in front of the idiot box.

But I'm no ogre, it's not all work and no play for the Leong boys. At 830pm in my home management schedule, I have Family Fun Time, and the boys have a choice of activities which includes board games, playing with Lego or blocks, story-telling, poetry-reading, singing, scrapbooking and simple art & craft. Tonight, we played Ludo and the boys went to bed at 930pm with happy smiles on their faces.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Caution: Tiny but potent!



I was really happy to find tiny cilipadi (bird's eye chilli) when I was in Chinatown this Sunday. Bought 2 packs. These are the tiny chubby ones, not the longish no-kick ones. Even in Singapore, these tiny, chubby ones aren't that easy to find.

My idea of a divine meal is loads of rice with these cilipadi (light soy sauce and lime juice added), eaten by hand Malay-style of course. Which is what I had for dinner last night. Thinking it couldn't be as hot as the cilipadi in Malaysia, I dumped loads of the cut cilipadi onto my rice. Midway through, I knew this was no pretend cilipadi, it was the real thing, FIERY! My throat was burning, it felt like my ears were too; I had to stand up and walk (actually more like jump) around the living room till I was okay.

But did that stop me? Noooo. Had cilipadi again for lunch and dinner today. What to do, no pain, no gain what...the suffering (not to mention weight gain from eating carbo-laden rice) is a price I'm willing to pay for the fiery kick I get from this tiny terror.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sleepy Sean


I found Sean fast asleep in his room this afternoon. He had told me he was going in to read something. The book he was reading before dozing off is called Utterly Brilliant Poetry, which I used to enjoy lots with Brian.

Sean seems to be in hibernation mode of late. Maybe he's bored from staying home all day while Brian's at school. His school starts in two days; we're both looking forward to that. Holidays are tough for stay-at-home-moms!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sunday lunch at Sakura


Boys at Sakura's waiting area. Sakura is a Japanese restaurant near Oxford Circus that we usually frequent for our Sunday lunch. We particularly like the tempura and pork ginger sets there, value for money. But we still miss Iroha, oh, the many fun and yummy lunches we had there with the Frankfurt gang...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Menu L'easypeasy


My oldest buddy Irene, a homeschooler, gave me the idea of creating a home management binder. I'll blog about that another time. Anyway, two sections of this binder are for the family's menu plan and recipes. I've combined my menu plan and recipes to look like a restaurant menu. Had the document printed on photo paper and I just love it. I now know what I'll be cooking each day of the week, which helps with grocery shopping too. Thanks Irene!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Art appreciation at Brian's school

I really like it that there is a lot of focus on the arts in Brian's school, as I believe this makes for a more well-rounded education. When I first saw some of the artwork at his school, I really couldn't believe they were done by primary schoolchildren. Some of the children's projects.

Batik prints and Papier Mache penguins



Self portrait made with wire

Felt-making

Friday, January 05, 2007

30 ways to a healthy home

Got this from Daily Mirror (what can I say, I love trashy tabloids) and picked up these tips for a healthy home. My favourite is No8.

LIVING ROOM

3. Avoid air fresheners and incense - Rather than make air fresher, these can fill it with nasty chemicals. A study by Brunel University, West London, found they can cause diarrhoea, earache, headaches and depression. Try natural alternatives, such as fresh flowers or squeezing a lemon into a bowl.

- Men, if you really need a reason to buy your wife flowers, this would be it.

4. Watch less TV - Never shifting from the sofa has been linked with obesity and type-2 diabetes, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Playing board games, however, helps stave off dementia and builds family bonds.

- I can hear Brian go Yeah! He loves all kinds of board games. I'm considering buying Cranium.

5. Make a view - If your room doesn't have a pretty outlook, then hang a picture of a land or seascape instead. Looking at nature, even if it's a picture of photograph, reduces stress and helps healing, say researchers at Texas A&M University.

- May even help with the boys' eyesight.

BEDROOM

7. Don't have a TV in your bedroom - The glowing screen can interfere with your circadian rhythm (body clock), delaying sleep. According to an Italian study, adults who have a TV in their bedroom make love only half as much as those who don't.

- That's it, we're binning the TV.

8. Don't make your bed - Researchers at Kingston University, South West London, have found that leaving the bed unmade in the morning can help remove moisture from the mattress and sheets, so dusts mites dehydrate and die. Better still, pull the duvet right back to allow the bed to air.

- Way cool!

9. Replace your mattress - The Sleep Council advises you do this every 8-10 years. Or earlier, if it's showing signs of wear and tear. And choose carefully - beds that are too hard or soft are bad for your back. Studies show that people with uncomfortable beds sleep for nearly one hour less than those on comfy beds.

- Must save up for Tempur mattress.

10. Don't keep stuffed toys on the bed - They can accumulate dust and dust mites, which can trigger allergens. Vacuum and wash regularly and place in the freezer for a few hours periodically to kill off mites.

- Freezer?? Boys would be mortified to see their beloved friends freezed!

11. Repaint your bedroom - Choose a restful shade because, according to colour psychologists, this will help you sleep better. A recent study by Bryant Design found that bright colours, such as strong yellows, stimulate the mind and can cause sleep problems. Sky blue and pale lilac are particularly relaxing.

- Which nut would paint their bedroom bright yellow?

12. Replace your pillow - An ordinary pillow will double in weight over 6 months due to dust mites droppings, according to charity Allergy UK. Studies show they can leave people more susceptible to asthma, sinusitis and rhinitis, so use barrier coverings, wash pillows every 3 months and replace every 6-12 months, say experts. And if you suffer from mild insomnia, shake a few drops of lavender oil on to your pillow. After 4 weeks, volunteers who used it said their sleep problems were halved, according to researchers at the University of Southampton.

- Replace every 6-12 months, sure or not? Are the 'experts' pillow manufacturers, hmm?

13. Cut exposure to electro-magnetic fields - During the night, these are thought to disrupt sleep. Only use electric blankets to pre-heat a bed and switch off before you get in. Also, avoid placing electric clocks, fans, radios or answer machines on your bedside table.

- Don't really buy this. In any case, no electrical stuff on bedside table.

14. Move your bed - If you live on a busy road, move to the back bedroom - of shift your bed away from the window. Sleeping near a noisy window doubles your risk of high blood pressure, according to German researchers. Alternatively, try using a white noise machine to block out unwanted sounds.

- Common sense.

KITCHEN

15. Keep kitchen well lit - A study in the US found that dim lighting makes people feel less self-aware, which promotes over-eating.

- Okay, Eddie better stop turning off my kitchen lights all the time.

16. Don't let non-stick pans get too hot - They contain chemicals called perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are potentially toxic. Use a low flame and never heat an empty pan. Better still, choose stainless steel, cast iron and ceramic titanium cookware, says Karen Ashton, co-author of The Toxic Consumer.

- Again, not sure if this is one of those urban hoax/scare, but I don't buy non-stick anyway.

17. Choose blue plates to lose weight - Research suggests that blue and purple serve as appetite suppressants. Orange, however, is known to stimulate the digestive system, and increase appetite so avoid this colour in the kitchen.

- Wedwood here I come! Does Villeroy & Boch do blue & purple?

18. Take care when re-using water bottles - A Canadian study found high levels of E Coli in those that were refilled regularly. Wash in soapy water, sterilise in Milton once a week and bin when they look battered.

- Okay, Eddie's gonna say, "I told you so!"

19. Sharpen your knives - Blunt knives are much more likely to slip and cut you. They also bruise vegetables, breaking down vitamin C and enzymes, says dietician Nigel Denby. You can ask your butcher to sharpen your knives.

- My Henckel knives are pretty sharp.

20. Use a wooden chopping board - A study at the Universityof Wisconsin found that bacteria were far less likely to survive on wooden boards than on plastic due to the natural antibiotic effect of wood.

- So counter-intuitive. I always thought bacteria would survive better in the tiny crevices on wooden boards. But my plastic boards go into the dishwasher every day, should be okay right?

21. Don't overload your fridge - Air can't circulate and the temperature will rise above the maximum 3C (your freezer should be -18C). Store raw meats at the bottom, so they can't contaminate other foods and store vegetable and salad items in a drawer - light from the door can destroy the cancer-fighting flavonoids in them says the Institute of Food Research.

- How to not overload, my freezer's so small! Our ice-cream already takes up 1/3 the space.

22. Use glass containers to store food - Glass and ceramic containers are better than plastic because they reduce your exposure to everyday toxic chemicals. You should also use greaseproof paper in preference to cling-film and don't microwave food in plastic.

- So what do I do with all my tupperware?

23. Hang up tea towels - Avoid using tea-towels more than a couple of times, says the Food and Drink Federation. They're a major carrier of germs and are often left lying around damp on work surfaces. Allow hand-washed crockery to air-dry, or use your dishwasher if you have one.

- So wasteful.

BATHROOM

24. Don't store medicines or make-up in the bathroom - The heat and humidy cause deterioration and the moisture can spur on bacterial growth.

- Have and will always store make-up in the bathroom.

25. Rinse shower curtains - Do this with freshwater every time you shower, and soak in a sterilising solution, such as Milton, if they're particularly grimy. Better still, switch to glass doors. The soap scum build-up on shower curtains contains more than a billion bacteria per cubic inch - posing a risk of infection for those with open wounds or poor immune systems.

- Have always hated shower curtains, they are gross, eeeyew.

26 Never share your razor - Sharing razors, scissors, nail-clippers - even your towel - is a no-no. The Hepatitis C Trus (www.hepcuk.info) estimates one in 100 people carry the hepatitis C virus that leads to liver damage and it can be passed this way.

- Cannot share scissors and nail-clippers?? Very kua cheong.

27. Bin your family toothbrush pot - Keeping toothbrushes in the same container spreads germs. The American Dental Hygienists' Association found contact between toothbrushes is a major cause of passing on colds and flu.

- Will have to think about this.

29. Never mix bleach with toilet cleaner - The 2 chemicals can make a toxic gas which can be fatal to the elderly or those with breathing problems, warns Ann Townson of the British Institute of Cleaning Science.

- Will bear this in mind.

30. Ban bubble bath - These often contain chemicals that cause allergic skin reactions and headaches. Studies show this applies to over 90% of all toiletries including bubble bath and shower gels (in the US, bubble baths carry a health warning). Opt for vegetable oil and glycerine soaps - they're made from enriching oils and scented with essential oils.

- Ooh, used to take almost daily bubble baths in Frankfurt. Boys love them too. Not able to do so in London due to the sucky hot water in our apartment. Blessing in disguise then.

TIPS NOT RELEVANT TO ME NOW NOR IN THE FUTURE

1. If you have a real fire-place - blah blah.
2. If you have a gas fire-place - blah blah.
6. Keep pets off your bed - No Brian, we're not getting a dog.
28.Don't blue the loo - Argument is if toilet cleaner colours the water, this can prevent early detection of bowel cancer as you can miss spots of blood. We don't use toilet cleaner every day what.

Temptations everywhere


Bought these Lindt chocolates from Whittard today, 3 for 3 pounds, about half the original price. Each of the figurine weighs 125g. Saw a larger version, 1kg!, marked down from 40 pounds to 10 pounds, so tempting, yumm!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Saturn's hula-hoop ring


Sean places a ball in the middle of a hula-hoop and says, "Look Mummy, it's Saturn!"

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Uploaded a new recipe today, Barbecue Pork Ribs, very easy and yumm.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

All ready for school now


Sean was given a long overdue haircut by his daddy today. His last haircut was in September I think, when we were in Singapore.

I think Ed did a pretty good job this time. In university, Ed was the resident barber of Eusoff Hall's Block C, where impoverished Malaysian hostelites would take turns to have their hair cut for free. This skill is proving very useful with two growing boys in our midst. Especially in London, where a haircut costs 10 pounds a pop.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A blessed 2007 to all!



If today's weather is a predictor of what lies ahead for us in 2007, WOW, then "Our future's so bright, we've gotta wear shades!" man. Cos the sun was shining so majestically bright today, right smack in the middle of winter. Not complaining though, quickly made plans to bring the boys to a park, any park.

Called Sarah for directions to Richmond Park, where I've been told deer can been seen roaming around freely. We live in Kew, Richmond, but a year has passed and I've yet to set foot in Richmond Park. Alvin offered to lead us there. All of west London must have had the same idea as I did, cos there was a long line of cars going into Richmond Park. Thankfully, we managed to find parking space.

The bright sun was deceiving, as it was really cold when we walked on the deer/dog-poo infested grounds of the park. Aside from deer-watching, people were also flying huge kites, walking their collies, kicking ball and generally having a pleasant time. The boys were happy to run around and breathe in clean fresh London air for a change.

We left the park at almost 4pm, but not before thanking the Tays for their excellent chaperone service (we'll return the favour by babysitting Junior Tay in half a year okay?). On our drive home, as usual, we started thinking of food. Decided to just head to Bayswater for a very early dinner.



So our impromptu family New Year makan was at New Fortune Cookie (the restaurant we went to with Richard & Tiffany & Uncle Seng etc on the first day we arrived in London back in December 2005). We had bamboo clam (simply divine), ginger onion beef (authentic and good), kongpao frog's legs (not authentic but still good) and hot pot japanese tofu (excellent). Ed also ordered Peking Duck for me & Brian, and I had reserved some tummy space for it. Only to find out at the end that the waitress forgot to put in the order for us. Nevermind, there's another New Year in a month's time. Will have my Peking Duck then.



And our future, as foretold by our Fortune Cookies:

Ed: You will be unusually successful in business. (woohoo...I can be a real tai-tai liao)
Me: You will hear pleasant news. (what kind of lame fortune cookie is this, I want another cookie!)
Brian: Financial hardship in your life is coming to an end. (Brian goes: But financial hardship never started in my life! Ed replies: Maybe mummy was thinking of cutting your chore allowance, and now she's going to increase it. Me: Erhm, No I'm not.)
Sean: You will be reunited with old friends. (Well, he is going back to school in a few days.)

So here we are, one day into 2007. The years are passing by so rapidly. Wasn't it only yesterday when the world was going Y2K nuts? In a flash, more than half a decade has passed us by.

Note to self: It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about. (Dale Carnegie)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ushering in 2007 at the Tays


That's my fried bee hoon and sambal prawn contribution to the New Year's eve potluck session at the Tays. Bee hoon was all right, sambal was too sweet. From the Yongs we had chicken wings, a Hakka yam dish, and fruit salad; from the Tays, curry chicken, baked peppers with mozarella, fruits, drinks and chocolates; and from the Tans, Thai appetisers, teriyaki chicken, chocolate cake and tiramisu. As expected, there was too much food. I'm stuffed.

The big boys played x-box, the ladies chatted about babies and embroidery (how genteel is that!), while the little boys played cuckoo clock, a letter-posting boardgame and made little crepe paper flowers. This is actually the first posted staff gathering we've had since arriving in London a year ago, and it was really good fun. For this, we have to thank Alvin & Sarah for accepting the honour of hosting the potluck. Thanks guys, you were superb hosts!

Goodbye 2006, it's been a wonderful year...