19 December 2014

Christmas Delights



There has been plenty of baking going on this week. Although I had plenty of other ideas I’d wanted to try, I stuck to the tried-and-tested almond oatmeal choc chip chia seeds cookies that I always make.  They’re very easy to make and they’re always a winner.  I had to make several batches as most were for gifts, but we still wanted some for ourselves.

Christmas-cookies-(1)

I also tried my hand at making salted caramel chocolate bark.  Again, a very simple recipe (here).  In a pinch, these are something you can easily make, if you need a sweet offering.  Be warned:  These are very sinful…

Sinful-Salted-Caramel-Bark-(1)

17 December 2014

Xiaolongbao 小籠包



One of the few Chinese restaurants that Josh truly loves is Din Tai Fung. Mainly because it serves xiaolongbao (小籠包), these little dumplings with soup inside them.  He can easily polish off five orders of these babies (each order comes with six dumplings).  They have their signature xiaolongbao, but they also have special ones.  Like the ones with truffles.  Those are SO, SO good!  Mouthwateringly good, especially if you are into truffles.

Since my parents are visiting, we will definitely be stopping by this place for lunch one of these days.  Josh had already ‘suggested’ that long before my parents got here.

xialongbao-(1)L
 
 
Also linking with Little Things Thursdays and Black and White Wednesday.
 

16 December 2014

Strawberry the Hamster



We had a chance to have a pet for the weekend.  The kids’ school lets us bring home an animal from the school ‘zoo’ to foster for a weekend.  There are guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits to choose from.  Oftentimes the animals are booked weeks in advance, so we were lucky to book one.  The guinea pigs are really cute, but they shed (a lot!).  I knew I didn’t want to bring home a rabbit; their cages are huge.  The hamster was just right for us.

I was a bit wary of bringing home of what was essentially a rodent, but I have to say that Strawberry grew on me.  She was feisty and cute.  I worried about getting her out of her cage and losing her around the house, but Zoë was pretty comfortable handling her.  We found out later that Zoë’s actually one of the Assistant Zookeepers at school and that she often hangs around the zoo to play with the animals.  So it’s actually thanks to her that we got Strawberry out of her cage a few times to let her scurry about a bit.

Strawberry-the-Hamster-(1) (No, we are still not getting a hamster.)

12 December 2014

In my prayers, the first thing for which I offer up thanks is my family.  I feel blessed in so many ways –from my parents and the extended family with whom I grew up, to my “new” extended family (my in-laws), to our own little family now.  I treasure each one of them, though I might not show or tell them often enough.

Families take walks together.
Cousins-(2)

Families enjoy food together… even though not everybody might like the same kind of food.
Sister-Wah-beef-brisket-noodles-(1)L

The kids wake early make breakfast on Mother’s Day.
Bday-breakfast-(1)

They help dig holes, deep enough to make a small tunnel.
Sand-pit-(2)

They help pull you back when you’ve drifted away.
Pulling-J-Out-(1)

Families are happy to have someone who had been away for camp back home with them.
JandZ(7)a

Families are one of life’s greatest treasures.

Please hop on over to Sharon’s blog (here) and check out her photos of the same theme.  Once you are done visiting our circle, please check out our Facebook page and share your interpretation of our theme!

10 December 2014

Some of you who come by often know how I love to photograph senior citizens when I go out on these photo walks with my friend. When I first came to Hong Kong (20 years ago!), I was surprised to see senior citizens mopping the floors at fast food restaurants, collecting carton boxes from the streets… I could not picture my grandparents having to do that.  I had naively thought that all senior citizens are comfortably taken care of by their families.  (Yes, I realize now that I’ve led quite a sheltered life growing up.)

Flat-noodles-(1)

This shot above was taken at noon, presumably one of the busiest times of the day for this tiny corner shop that sells rice noodles and congee, as there were plenty of people waiting to be seated or waiting for their take-out orders.  This old man was on his feet the whole time we were there. He was in charge of making the steamed rice noodles (河粉, ho fun). He was slightly stooped, fingers arthritic, yet he was efficiently turning over sheet after sheet of steaming hot rice noodles, cutting them up, and putting them on a plate to pass on to the server.

I’d stood there fascinated by what he was doing, but I also wondered about his family. Does he have family or is he on his own? Could he be part of the family that owns that place or is he an employee?  Why is he still working at his age?  What he does, while not exactly back-breaking, is not a walk in the park either.  Standing in front of the hot steam, leaning over to spread the sheets of noodle evenly over the cooling rack for long stretches. Working quickly to fulfill orders.  I am hoping that his family of co-workers appreciates him, appreciates what he does. I am praying that if he doesn’t have family of his own, that maybe he can look to the regulars at this small roadside shop, –the ones who address him as ‘Ah Pak’ (uncle), –to be his family. Of sorts. 

(Edit:  It turns out the man owns the place.  I just found out from a friend who used to live around that area and who used to visit the shop.)



09 December 2014

Seeing



My friend and I were out on one of our photo walks last week and we saw this amazing wall, almost entirely covered with the roots of a tree growing above it.  The thing is, before I got into photography, I probably would have walked right past it.  I most likely would not have given it a second glance.

Rooots-(1)

This red thingy below?  I only noticed it because I was looking at the wall from different angles –crossing left and right, looking up and down, moving back, –trying to decide from where to best get a shot.  Interesting how I now pay more attention to certain things that previously would not have been on my radar at all.

Red-thingy-(1)

05 December 2014

Doodles



Zoë loves to draw.  She loves arts and crafts.  She told us that she wants to be an artist or an art teacher when she grows up.  I got her a little clear book and she’s steadily filling it up with her various drawings.

I’ve been wanting to sign her up for an art class, but I’ve yet to find one around here where I can be assured that the pieces that she will be bringing home will be ones that have been done by her, without any help from the teacher.  I mean, with instructions and pointers from the teacher, obviously, but not one where the teacher would apply her own brush to Zoë’s canvas. I have been to too many art jams at these places that offer art classes where the teachers do that.  The kids come away with amazing pieces of art, but one can’t really feel too proud of a piece that got so much “help” from someone else. Anyway, the search is still on.

In the meantime, Zoë has been going on YouTube and checking out tutorials on how to draw different stuff.  She found this one channel called DoodleDrawArt that apparently gives her step-by-step tutorials.  She would sit in front of the computer with her pens and paper and draw away… and come out with these ---

Bumblebee-(1)
Turtle-(1) 
Owl-(1)

Just to give you an idea of how this channel has helped her, here is how her animals looked (last month) --

Bull-(1)

Definitely do check out DoodleDrawArt if you have a child who loves to draw.   The drawings are cute and simple and DoodleDrawArt gives clear instructions and pointers that children can easily follow.  What’s more, the kids come away with really nice drawings that they’d be proud of having done all by themselves.

03 December 2014

Haring-Inspired



The kids’ school is having Art Week this week and Zoë is all over it.  She came back yesterday and told us that she had to draw something in the style of Keith Haring, so that she can submit it for consideration as art for one of the school walls.  She googled Keith Haring’s art and started to draw away.  She drew all the shapes with a pencil first before outlining them with a thick black marker last night.  She said that she would finish coloring in the outlines today.

As it happened, I was at an art supplies shop today with my friend and the shop was having a store-wide 15% discount.  I came across the Crayola paintbrush pens that I thought Zoë might like.  She put them to use immediately! The paint brush pens are so fun to use that I couldn’t help asking if I could help her paint in some of her shapes.  She “directed” me to color in the purple guy with the yellow hula hoop.

Josh was pretty impressed when Zoë showed him this.  Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Zoe's-Art---Haring-(1)
 
 

02 December 2014

Chess Peace



Yesterday, Josh competed in the Hong Kong Junior Chess Championship where he placed 12th out of 62 participants in his category.  He won five games out of seven.  The champion won all seven games; the first runner-up won six.  The 3rd to 5th place winners all won 5.5 games.  Everyone from the 6th place down to the 13th place won five games each.  Josh’s good friend placed 4th. 

Josh was very pleased with how he did yesterday.  We were very happy for him, but it warmed my heart even more seeing how at peace he seemed to be with his results, knowing that he did his best.  He was very happy for his friend; we stayed on  for the award ceremony to cheer for his friend (only the Top 8 got trophies).  Not once did Josh complain about not getting a trophy, not once did he kick himself for not having placed better.  He even thanked each one of us (Chris, me, and Zoë) for taking time out and staying with him the whole day (9am-6pm!) during the tournament.  He has definitely come a long way from when he first started playing in chess tournaments two years ago. Back then it was all about the hardware.  He would get really down when he didn’t get any.  Yesterday, all was right with the world.  Everything was as it should be… and for that, I am grateful.

Pine-cones-(1)

28 November 2014

Thankful



Ever thankful for family.  For random acts of kindness.  For the community of parents who help look out for each other’s children.  For teachers who teach with a passion.  For the wonder of learning something new.  For having plenty for which to be thankful .

Bicycle-olden-times-(1)

26 November 2014

Zen



I don’t know how it’s happened, but I’ve become more zen lately. Things that normally would get me all worked up –I simply let slide these days.  I still occasionally get irritated with drivers who don’t use their blinkers to signal a turn (pet peeve), but on the whole, things that would generally bother me a lot don’t bother me as much (or at all!) anymore.  I am liking this new zen me a lot.  There is still plenty that I need to work on before I am truly zen, but I’m happy I’ve gotten to this place.

Purple-berries-(1)
 
(Also linking up with Little Things Thursday)

 

25 November 2014

Sweet Dreams…



How I found her the other night.
Fast asleep, holding on to a book that she’s been reading --
The Cut-throat Celts (Horrible Histories).

Cutthroat-Celts-(2)
Cutthroat-Celts-(1)

20 November 2014

Little Chimp



After watching this video, Zoë got inspired and she’s been working on making her way across the monkey bars.  She couldn’t do it at first, but she would get back on each time until she finally could make it all the way across by her-Zoë-self!  I love her grit and determination.

Chimp-(1)

19 November 2014

A Little Race Action



Here are some pictures from the Team Fear race last Sunday.  I am so proud of Josh and his teammates.  I am very proud of all the children who participated.  It was not an easy race, even for (some) adults. Me. The fact that they finished the race is more than accomplishment enough.  The awesome thing is that, despite how tired they were after the race, all of them want to compete again next year! (Special shout-out to the Team Fear organizers for setting this up and running it year after year.)
Collage 1
Collage 2
Collage 3
Pumped-(1)
Next year again!
 
 

17 November 2014

Team Fear 2



Yesterday, Josh did the Team Fear race with two of his friends.  This is their second time doing this race.  It’s essentially the same race as last year, but with different routings.  This year they started with running, followed by a jetty jump and swimming back to shore, more running, an obstacle course, climbing a gorge, hiking up a hill, biking, then ending with coast-steering.  Apart from that one short hike we did, we didn’t really train for it this year. There were just too many things happening this month.  Despite that, they did pretty well.  They were much more confident and just so excited to be participating.  Like last year, their team completed the race in three hours. 

Because Chris agreed to be the appointed marshal from our team, I was free to run to strategic points to see the team go by and take some pictures.  It was such a great atmosphere everywhere.  Bystanders, onlookers, and marshals were all cheering the kids on as they passed them.  Josh told me afterwards that he felt really good, because everyone was so nice and pleasant and people were shouting words of encouragement and support at every turn.
Starting-line-(1)

Zoë was such a good sport and kept me company the whole time we were running around, waiting.  She played in the sand while we were waiting for the boys to get to the beach for the obstacle course. 

Z--Playing-in-the-sand-(1)

She hung out with the younger brother of one of Josh’s teammates and they played hide and seek, went exploring nearby while we stood and waited.

Z-and-P-(1)
Everyone was tired yesterday, but we all agreed that it was a wonderful day!  Josh says he definitely wants to enter the race again next year.

Finish-line-(1) 

14 November 2014

Cub Scouts



Watching the troop get invested last night was something.  Everyone was excited to finally get their scarf and badges for their uniform.  They will be going on their first camping trip soon and everyone’s looking forward to that.

I am so glad that Josh is a Scout again.  He was a Beaver Scout a few years back, but we didn’t continue on as after that one year, there was no leader for the troop.  This troop that he is with right now is so greatly supported by four leaders and a senior management Scouts person who is mentoring the leaders. 

Even though we get home late after Scout meetings, it has been worthwhile.  Josh has been really enjoying the experience and he gets extra “play” time with his friends.

Flag-ceremony-(1)

12 November 2014

Black and White Wednesday



This month has been so busy, busy, busy.  I am not even talking about preparations for the upcoming holidays.  There are chess meets, camps, and races, on top of regular stuff.  It’s a great thing that the weather has turned cooler lately, but what that also means is that all I feel like doing is just curling up in bed with a good book!

Occupier-(1)-bw
This photo was taken at the occupied area in Causeway Bay.  I might be wrong, but I suspect this man is homeless and found a place to crash at the site.  Or he might also be a sympathizer, showing support for the protesters.  No one knows.
 
 

10 November 2014

The ongoing protests here in Hong Kong is somewhat old news now.  Generally, things are back to normal –or as normal as can be, with some of the roads still ‘occupied,’ causing traffic problems.   If nothing else, what’s come out of these protests are some very interesting art.  If you visit the occupied sites, you’ll see many, many of these and much, much more.

Umbrellas-(1)
Umbrella-art-(2)
Graffiti-(1)
OC-Art-(1)
Umbrella-art-(1)
Sketch-(1)
Love,-Peace,-Joy-(1)

Loom-band-(1)

Now, please hop on over to Sharon’s blog (here) and check out her photos of the same theme.  Once you are done visiting our circle, please check out our Facebook page and share your interpretation of our theme!

06 November 2014

Little Rascal



Aw, isn’t this sweet? 
Zoë kindly holding on to Josh’s shoes while he walks on the pebble path…

JandZ-(2)
…until she decided to run away with his shoes!

Zoe-(4)
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