Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Australia Day BBQ

For Liam, Australia Day is like his religious holiday.  It's the one day a year he looks forward to, and celebrates everything that he loves.  We decided to celebrate the day by inviting our friends to join us by the pool with beers, BBQ and Triple J's Hottest 100 - what could be more Australian than that?!

The last few events we've tried to organise have been cursed with dismal weather (read: thunderstorms) however it was our turn for a win, and we were blessed with sunshine and a lovely warm summer's day! Whilst I busied myself sorting out my nails (the important stuff, obviously!) Liam cleaned, swept, dusted, decorated and transformed our backyard.

Of course there were Australian flags! We put up large ones in the bar, in the bungalow, on the fence, and hanging off the hills hoist for good measure! I decided that my Essendon flag also needed to take pride of place in the bar too.  Liam, although being a massive Hawks supporter himself, humoured me and put it up as I asked.

More flags outside the bar area, and we brought the ratties outside to play!  As you can see, Rocket is keeping guard, and making sure his little pals are safe! We also had new covers for the two couches in the bar, but people seemed to use them more for storage space than anything! Since it was such nice weather, everyone opted to sit out in the yard to enjoy the sunshine! It was lovely... kind of like having a little picnic at home with our friends! :)

Liam was determined to have zinc! He was so excited to find green and yellow coloured zinc at the shops too! He had a ball, painting everyone's faces with Aussie-coloured stripes! Unfortunately for me, his godson got a hold of the zinc and I decided it would be a good idea to let him paint little wiggly lines down my leg.  Just a note for all of you - zinc does NOT come off easily, and may result in awkward little tan lines!

The pool got PLENTY of use! Boys being boys, were running around attacking each other and throwing everyone into the water.  Unfortunately, this resulted in a couple of phone deaths. RIP little phones.

Rocket loved joining in the festivities! But the excitement all got a bit too much for him! 

The next day, I totally understood how he felt.  I think most of our guests were feeling a little worse for wear but it was totally worth it!

I was not a huge fan of the top song of the Hottest 100 though! But then again, I've always been a little less into commercial music than the next person. I just don't understand the big hype over that song.  I mean, it's a good tune, but is it really THAT deserving? And it's been overplayed to death.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 30, 2012

NOTD - Belated Happy Australia Day!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Australia Day!

We hosted a BBQ bash, and then headed up to Big River for a camping weekend away! :)

I had ideas in my head for lovely Australia Day themed nails, but underestimated how much preparation I would need to do for the BBQ and how time-consuming it would be!  I do this every single time, and end up rushing to the shower just as guests are starting to arrive.

I've had to switch my photo-taking hand, due to a nail-breakage injury that my regular model has suffered :(

The initial plan was to do up a stencil for the Union Jack on the thumb, and another for little stars that would make up the Southern Cross on each nail.  After a few attempts at getting the base colours perfect, only to ruin them during the preparation process for the party I gave up and just used an old bottle of OPI glitter that I found stashed away (red, blue and silver mixture - perfect colours!) and painted the Union Jack freehand.

Not quite as I'd hoped, but still received plenty of compliments from my party guests! :)

How did you spend your Australia Day?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Waiting......

Rocket can't wait for his friends to join him for BBQ and beers!

Bring on Australia Day!
 Playing Wordless Wednesday over at My Little Drummer Boys!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's almost Australia Day!

As you are all aware, I'm sure, Australia Day is fast approaching! Did you know that it was only since 1994 that we began to consistently celebrate Australia Day as a public holiday?

I know there's a lot of fuss about how it is more of an Invasion Day to the Aborigines and is a sore point, but to me Australia Day is about celebrating the beautiful country that we live in today.

My parents arrived in Australia many years ago as students. They came to this country with promises and opportunities of a better life, and I am so proud of them for grasping every chance that was given to them and getting to where they are today. Because of all the opportunities that they were given in this country, they were able to build a new life in which to bring up myself and my brother, where we have been fortunate enough to enjoy the luxuries of this land, a great education, and a chance at a great life.

Australia Day to me is a laid-back kind of day, and is always celebrated in a way that embraces the Aussie way of life. This year, we are having a pool party and BBQ with our friends, and will be counting down the Hottest 100. And beers, of course. PLENTY of beers! BBQ and beers, what could be more Australian?!

What does Australia Day mean to you, and how are you celebrating? xx

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai! 恭禧發財 Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Today is Chinese New Year, the start of a new year in the Lunar calendar.  So let me start this post by wishing you all a Happy New Year! May the year of the dragon bring you lots of good fortune.  Here's wishing a happy and prosperous year to you and your families!


One of the most important events of Chinese New Year is the reunion dinner, which takes place on the eve of the Lunar New Year.  This stems from many years ago, when family members would have to leave their family home for different reasons, whether it be study or work.  They would rarely see their families and loved ones, but would return home at least once a year on New Year's Eve to be reunited.  Apparently in traditional China, hundreds of years ago, the Chinese used to release criminals so that they could go back home to spend reunion dinner with their families.

Whilst I see all of my family members quite regularly (the ones living here in Melbourne anyway) and certainly none of us need to be released from prison, Chinese New Year is always an indulgent affair! We need no excuse to gather for a hearty meal, and Chinese New Year is a perfect reason for a feast!

Traditionally, families must go to the paternal home for reunion dinner.  For example, my family would all go to the home of my father's family.  Once women get married, this is where they must attend dinner on New Year's Eve.  If I got married, I would be expected to attend reunion dinner at the family home of my husband, and if my brother got married his wife would have to attend dinner with his family.  Fortunately, we are not so traditional in this sense.  My dad's brother had to go to work last night, so we had a reunion lunch instead.  This meant that we went to see mum's family for reunion dinner. SCORE - two feasts!

By the time lunch was finished however, I was struggling to breathe!

Yee sang is a special dish which is served during New Year.  It contains all sorts of shredded vegetables, herbs, and slices of raw salmon before being sprinkled with fried crispy crackers and drizzled in a thick sweet sauce.  Everybody dives in with their chopsticks together to mix the salad, as you "lo hei" for good luck.

Chinese sausage, (lup cheong) and my grandfather's roast pork, (siew yoke).  This dish is a-MAZ-ing! I don't know how he does it, but he never fails to turn the skin into crispy, crackly perfection.  The meat is perfectly seasoned and so tender that it just melts in your mouth.

The first dish is a mix of abalone (pricey!), shiitake mushrooms, dried oysters and sea cucumber.  I am not a fan, but Liam loves it! I guess he has expensive taste, as abalone does not come cheap! The second dish is Hainanese style chicken.  Apologies for the blurry photo - the plate was on the other side of the table and I was too busy eating to take it properly! =P

Steamed fish with ginger, and sweet & sour pork.  The pork is first deep fried before being coated in the thick red sauce.  So bad, yet so good!

As you can imagine, after this meal I was so very full! But Chinese New Year is not for the weak, and I've had many years of training to build up my stamina.  So after a few hours of star-fishing on the floor suffering and moaning about my over-indulgence, it was time for dinner!

Again, there was no shortage of food to be had! We started off this meal with yee sang also, but I forgot to take a photo! :(

An assortment of roast meat.  Here we have roast pork (siew yoke), BBQ pork (char siew) and roast duck.  I think this plate was store-bought.  Then fish - lightly coated and deep fried, served in a garlicky salty sauce and garnished with spring onions and coriander.

Chilli chicken with onions and green beans.  My grandmother ate this dish on a recent visit to Malaysia and liked it so much that she decided to replicate it. Am I ever glad she did! My brother is not good on the spices, so it's been toned down so much so that it's hardly chilli at all, but it is such a tasty dish! The chicken is so tender and full of flavour, and the crunchy green beans give it that added texture.

Malaysian pork curry.  This curry is amazing with a whole lot of gravy drizzled on rice. The rice soaks in all the flavour, and every mouthful is a spicy delight! 

This dish was kind of like hunting for buried treasure! There was bok choy adorning the edges, and the whole thing was covered in a thick sauce. Those hair-like bits you see is actually seaweed which we sometimes use in braised dishes.  There's a layer of cabbage over the whole thing, and underneath that is a braised pork belly with shiitake mushrooms.  To complete the meal, we also had achar to serve on the side.  Achar is a kind of chilli picked dish served cold, filled with crunchy morsels of cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, green beans, cucumber and carrot with crushed peanuts and sesame seeds in each bite.

There was so much leftover to take home that I will be eating this food for days.  There are no complaints from me though! Look at all that food... two feasts, surrounded by my families and loved one! If this is anything to go by, I can tell that it's going to be a good year!

Did anyone else do anything special to celebrate Chinese New Year?

Friday, January 20, 2012

I've been tagged!

So I've been lucky enough to be tagged, not just once, but three times to do this bloggy questionnaire!  Thanks to the wonderful Ms Jelena, lovely Ashleigh of Miss Directions, and new kid on the blog (WELCOME!) Cazzamatazz from A Sweeter Kind of Vinegar for thinking of me! :)

The rules state :-
  • You must post the rules.
  • Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
  • Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
  • Tag eleven people and link them on your post
  • Let them know you've tagged them! 
So here goes!
  1. I still sleep with my teddy in or around my bed. 
    He was a gift from an uncle on my first birthday, and we have been inseparable ever since!

    When I was about 5 I was so concerned about my attachment to him that I asked my dad about when the day would come that I would need to get rid of him.  Dad told me that I would know when I didn't need him anymore, because adults didn't need teddy bears.

    At the age of 10 I decided I was to old to be sleeping with a teddy bear, so he was demoted to sleeping under my bed.  A few years later I found him and dug him back out, and he was relegated back to the bed.  When I moved to England for a couple of years, he followed me there and back home again. So much for adults not needing teddy bears!!

  2. His name is Teddy. Last name Bear. I was clearly such a creative child, can't you tell?! When I was 4 years old I decided that he needed a real name, and tried to change it to Fred.  That lasted about a day - he just would not answer to that name!

  3. Every morning when Liam gets out of bed, he will fish around in the dark to find Teddy.  Before he leaves the room to go shower he will give me a kiss and a cuddle, and then gently nestle Teddy in my arms.  He says it's Teddy's job to keep me safe when he's not there to do so. 

    He sent me the below as proof -

    So now every time I go to sleep, I imagine Teddy roaming around the bed keeping guard, with a little sword in his hand!

  4. Everything has to happen in increments of 5.  Whether it's the volume on the TV or car stereo, or the number the microwave has to be at before I can stop it, or the number setting on Photoshop Express on my iPhone.

    When we first met, Liam had to have the volume at increments of 2. This meant that it was either always way too loud or way too quiet, because between the two of us this meant we could only have increments of ten. He has slowly trained himself to make it 5 though, so we can now happily settle on a comfortable volume of 15, instead of 10 or 20!

  5. I have one kind of fork and spoon that I have to use at home.  The set has two sizes of forks, and even though they're relatively the same thing, I won't use the big fork. Only the little one. And the matching spoon. If I ever need a fork or spoon, and there are none of these in the drawer, I will wash a set of them to use. Liam, being as OCD as I am always has to have the same set too these days.  I prefer to use the matching knife too if it's being used as a set, but if I'm just using the knife on its own then it's negotiable.

  6. As a child, I had an imaginary army of ants. Yep, most people had imaginary people friends, or a dog or something a little more normal.  Me, I had ants! And plenty of them.  When mum gave me biscuits or something to eat, I would crush and crumble some of it to create tiny ant-sized portions to share with them.

  7. When I was little I used to have swimming lessons at Splash's swimming school, until my parents had to stop my classes.  One day I went in for my regular lesson to discover that they had painted a gigantic seahorse at the bottom of the pool.  It was painted in dark colours of black, green and purple, and had massive wide eyeballs.  To me, it looked like a dark scary dragon, which would swallow me whole! If ever we had to swim the entire length of the pool, I would close my eyes and kick as fast as my little legs would go! One day the teacher tried to make me float in the middle of the pool, right on top of the dragon's angry eyes. I freaked out and swam to the side of the pool, because I was terrified of being anywhere near it! My poor long-suffering parents...!!

  8. When I was living in England, every time someone greeted me I thought there was something wrong with me.  They commonly use "You alright?" or "You okay?" as a greeting.  Being fresh-off-the-boat and unaccustomed to the British slang, I didn't realise this was a standard greeting and for ages thought I must've looked upset or had a smudge on my nose!

  9. I also didn't realise that they referred to underwear as pants.  I did a day's temp job for a clothing department, who had an alterations lady.  A man came into the store with a pair of jeans, asking if we could alter the length for him.  I told him to go into the change rooms to put them on so we could measure them up, and called the alterations lady to come over.  When she arrived I told her "The gentleman is in the change room, putting on his pants so you can measure them for him".  I didn't understand the look of horror on her face until a few weeks later!

  10. I want to get three more tattoos.  I love lily flowers, and have had a design for ages that I've wanted to get down the side of my body.  I have procrastinated greatly, and even though I love the tattoo that I have, I do look at it sometimes and wonder whether I will still love it when I'm a bit older. Hence I have been putting off getting my lily tattoo, since it is significantly (MUCH) bigger, although I'm still thinking it through.  I also want to get a small tattoo of a hibiscus flower.  They're the national flower of Malaysia, where I'm originally from.  I am also contemplating getting mine, my parent's, and my brother's names in Chinese character down my back.  I still can't work out the design properly so that it's not too big and chunky for my liking though!

  11. I am slightly insane. In case you have not already gathered that from my above 10 facts.

OKAY! So in case you thought this post wasn't already long enough as it was. I now have 22 questions to answer! I was tagged by Cazzamatazz, but her post appears to have been taken down since then! So I will answer Miss Direction's and Ms Jelena's questions :)
  1. What is your worst shoe-wearing experience? I had a gorgeous pair of shoes where the heel was pink satin. The heels snapped but didn't come completely off, kind of just hanging by a thread. I didn't have any other shoes so I had to kind of hop around all day!
  2. Have you ever recieved a love letter (not email, the true old fashioned kind)? My ex wrote me a poem and printed it on coloured paper and tied it with a ribbon, if that counts? Liam sometimes leaves me little panda drawings in pockets and stuff! :)
  3. Have you ever embarassed yourself running for a bus/train/tram? I'm a public transport snob, and avoid taking it where possible!
  4. Do you prefer Barbie or Lego? This is a tough choice! Barbie, but only if she comes with all the accessories and outfits.
  5. If someone offered to pay you to enjoy a hobby for the rest of your life, what would it be? Traveling! Exploring new countries, seeing new sights, experiences new cultures. YES!
  6. If you had to go on a sudden holiday to an unknown destination and had 5 minutes to pack, what would you be sure to grab? My iPhone. I don't think I'd survive without it!
  7. What subject did you secretly love (if any) at school? English, specifically when we spent the classes watching movies like Romeo & Juliet to "study"
  8. How long can you hold your breath for? (Timer) Exactly a minute!
  9. Is there a recurring theme to your dreams/nightmares? No - but when I do remember them they're always very strange!
  10. What did you want to be when you grew up? A princess! Not holding out much hope on that one...
  11. Do you pick the red pill or the blue pill? Blue!
  12.  What show are you embarrassed to admit you watch? Not anymore, but I once got hooked on the Hills. EW!
  13. If you could be friends with one famous person, dead or alive, who would you choose? Jessica Alba. She seems down-to-earth but very funny and fun to be with, and slightly insane. She'd be fun to hang out with! And would have all the connections.
  14.  How many nail polishes do you own? I don't actually know! I have a couple of shoeboxes full, and always find random bottles lying around the house.
  15. Savoury or sweet? Definitely savoury!
  16. Do you have any weird habits? I think my above facts just about cover it!
  17. Are you a cat person or a dog person? Dog! Although I do love cats, but dogs can't be beat!
  18. How many languages do you speak? Just English, although I can understand a few dialects of Chinese and basic Malay words.
  19. What’s your favourite movie ever? The Little Mermaid! I'm a child at heart.
  20. What’s your favourite colour? Does rainbow count as a colour?!
  21. What’s your dream job? Food critic! Yum. More seriously, I'm hoping to get into the event-planning side of things in the future.
  22. If you could pick one country to live in for the rest of your life, which country would you choose? I think it would have to be Australia. There's no place like home! 

WELL! If this isn't the longest blog post in the history of the world, I don't know what is!

 I know the rules stipulate that I have to tag people and create questions, but... rules are made to be broken!  But if you feel like participating, feel free! And you can choose any one of the questions above to answer! :)

Have fun! xx

Thursday, January 19, 2012

31 Sleeps...

This time next month I will just have touched down in Siam Reap, Cambodia! We are spending five nights there, including a three-day tour before jetting off to Malaysia for a couple of weeks.  


These are some photos from one of my previous trips.  I've been silly enough to flick through some albums, and it is absolute TORTURE! I can't wait to get away.

Only 31 sleeps left!!!