17 October 2017

w e d n e s d a y



Vancouver is the square root of negative one.  Technically, it should not exist, but it does.

~ Douglas Coupland


Singwa - Wed, 17 Oct 2017

Downtown Vancouver at night


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09 October 2017

I have a few new books lying here waiting to be picked up and read.  I would dig right into them, but I have a stack of library books that I have to get through first.  The library books have due dates; my own books don't.  So there they sit, waiting patiently for me to go through my other stack first.  That doesn't mean that they're completely ignored and forgotten, though.  They're all nicely protected with cover film and once in a while, I'd pick them up and riffle through the pages.  Is it weird that that new book smell that wafts up as I riffle through the pages sparks joy in me?


Singwa -Wed, 11 Oct 2017
(Scouts bringing back the dragon boat to shore.)
Photo not related at all to the post.
I just like how it turned out and want to share.


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04 October 2017

Half-term holidays are here again.  I look forward to these... whether we stay in Hong Kong or sneak away.  It's always a time when we can go about our days with no activities scheduled. We could choose to bake, stay up late(r), try a new recipe, go out and explore places in Hong Kong that we'd never been to, check out a new restaurant, go for a joy ride on the MTR and hop out at new stations, go for things that we normally cannot do on regular school days... or just chill at home.  

Singwa - Wed, 4 Oct 2017

So far, we've checked out a new dimsum place (meh!), had a go at making our first no-bake cheesecake (yay!) and played Power Grid.  

Yesterday, we had planned on checking out this place famous for its beef brisket noodles.  We ran a few errands first before making our way there; stopped by for bubble tea along the way (but of course!).  We got there before 12:30 pm, --when it was supposed to open, --and already there was a looooooooonnnnnnggggg queue down the entire street.  It might be all the tourists in town over China's "golden week" (where they have the entire week off to celebrate National Day).

We decided to go back some other time and instead headed down to a Michelin-starred place that I'd been meaning to check out.  Jackpot!  We got there before the lunch crowd and got a booth. The food was great and J declared it fantastic.  By the time we finished, the line for the people waiting stretched all the way up the stairs (the restaurant is in a basement) and down the street!  

Today, I'm planning to take the kids to one of my favorite Thai restaurants for the best green curry ever.  Are you beginning to see a trend here...? We love to eat!


​​

26 September 2017

I found this as I was clearing away old stuff. It's a page from a notebook from when Josh was in Year 5.  He had to write a few examples of complex sentences for his class work.


Even though the weather was hot, Mrs. Dale, who didn't put on sunblock, went to the beach.

Even though the water was shark-infested, Mrs. Dale went for a swim.
Even though Mrs. Dale, who had one leg bitten off by a shark, was getting sunburnt, she was as happy as ever.
Celebration of Learning day is tomorrow, but Mrs. Dale, who bled to death on the beach, was missing.
5H, who have been learning about different religions, wondered why Mr. Dale was crying.


Singwa - Wed, 27 Sep 2017



Josh has always had a quirky sense of humor. I'm beginning to appreciate this even more now that his jokes are not about farts and smelly parts. 


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19 September 2017

September has always been one of the busiest months for us, what with the first few weeks of school and all.  This year, though, seems to be even more crammed with to-do's and various activities. Z is having netball three times a week; sometimes even four, if there is a tournament on Sunday.  Both of them still have Scouts activities --on different days, in different locations.  She insists on still doing Drama.  She's joined Battle of the Books again, as well as the Elite Recorder Club. J has his Math Club and he's also learning wing chun.  On top of all that, there's piano for both of them, too. Oh, there's also Cathechism classes on Sundays.  I get exhausted just thinking about all this.

We've asked if they were willing to give up one or two of the activities and they both gave an an adamant No.  At the end of the day, if they are enjoying the activities they've signed up for and can manage with the rest of what they need to do, we are fine with it (even though we are the ones who get really tired shuttling them around!).

Last Saturday, both their troops had a joint Scout activity.  They had their Open Water Test and did various water-related activities at Hebe Haven.  J had a dragonboat race.  Z and the other Cubs were taught how to scull a dinghy, how to heave a lifeline, and learned eight different knots.  It was hot and humid as could be, but everyone had great fun. 






12 September 2017

We took a short trip to Manila last week.  It was what my soul needed.  Not the notorious Manila traffic, mind you --never that!  Don't even get me started on how bad it gets.  What made this trip special was that I got to reconnect with friends from high school, many of whom I hadn't seen in 30 years!  Everyone looked pretty much the same, albeit with a few lines here and there.  Laugh lines, I'd like to think, because the laughter came just as easily as it did back then.  Maybe even more abundantly now as we mocked how silly we were back in the days.  The humor dry, wry, and a bit sly at times, but always in good fun.  

As we reminisced, we also caught up with what each is doing now, swapped stories of our children and spouses, gossiped about those who were not present (not going to lie!).  I am smiling as I am writing this... and dreaming of halo-halo and maíz con hielo and palabok.


Singwa - Wed, 13 Sep 2017
View from the plane as we were descending into Hong Kong


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06 September 2017

w e d n e s d a y



Confession:  I'm struggling to find inspiration for posts of late.  Weird, because I've been reading more (than usual) and generally I find plenty of things to reflect on and write about from the books that I read. Not happening. Yet. I'm still waiting... 



USED

Where do you draw inspiration for your posts?

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​​

29 August 2017

...or am I?  I've started on a post a few times the last couple of weeks since we've come back from our summer holiday and couldn't get past the first few sentences.  Blame it on jet lag, blame it on the back-to-school prep, blame it on trying to get back to a routine now that the kids are back in school.

Anyway, we had a lovely summer.  J & Z attended their first-ever wedding and were part of the wedding party.  Had their first ride in a limo bus (my first, too!).  We went on our annual blueberry-picking trip and had yummy, yummy fresh berry shakes and scrumptious berry waffles to reward ourselves after the pick.  We didn't go on any road trip this year, what with the wedding and all, but we had fun nonetheless.  

The kids, as always, had an absolute blast with the cousins.  What's more, the cousins brought their 6-month old bernedoodle with them for the summer and everyone was kept busy fussing over the dog, taking her for walks, and just plain spoiling her.


How was your summer?

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​​

27 June 2017

This little creature below was one of the highlights of our trip to Australia last Christmas. Even before we left for the trip, the kids were all about 'cuddling a koala.'  We just had to make sure that that was part of our itinerary.  

What I love about how this experience was handled is that at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, they take care to educate the public about koalas, their care, their habitat, etc. It's not just a money-making photo op scheme.  The children came away with some basic knowledge about koalas beyond simply an experience of having cuddled one.


Singwa - Wed, 28 Jun 2017

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21 June 2017

Hurray for one-pot meals!  Josh and Zoe have been taking turns to make one meal for the family each week.  So far, we've been sticking with one-pot meals, which are easier for them to do. Josh did a fantastic job the week before with his cilantro lime chicken rice. We've modified the recipe a bit to use chicken thighs instead of breasts and added in way more cilantro than was called for.  This was so, so good, believe me!  The cilantro and lime combo was so refreshing and the avocado lime sauce was simply divine.  For sure, this dish is going to be part of our regular go-to menu.


Zoe's turn last week saw her make something similar --one-pot lemon herb chicken rice. Just very slightly different from what Josh made, but oh, just as yummy!  The aroma from the kitchen, as she was making it, was just heavenly.  The Italian seasoning and the lemony tang ...oooh. We all had second helpings (well, in Josh's case, thirds!); it was that good! 


Singwa - Wed, 21 Jun 2017

We got both recipes from Le Creme de la Crumb and it's fast becoming our go-to site for easy-to-make, super delicious dishes!

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12 June 2017

I have a ton -- a TON! --of photos to go through dating back from last summer.  These ones here were from our trip to Australia over Christmas last year.  We went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (Brisbane) and it was one of the highlights of the trip.  Especially for our kids. 

Apart from koalas, which we could pet and cuddle (under supervision), we also got up close and personal with kangaroos and other wildlife in a natural setting.  

This was my second visit to the sanctuary and I remembered that the last time I was there, an emu chased me around!  Although the ones this visit seemed to be less aggressive, I made sure to steer clear of them.  I was perfectly fine hanging out with these little pretty birds instead!



Singwa - Wed, 14 Jun 2017
Singwa
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07 June 2017

Summer is really here!  I can feel it.   It's been unbearably hot, hot, hot these last few days. School is winding down, yet there's still so much going on, so much to do.

I watched "Screenagers" with both kids last night.  If you have children who love screens and you are looking for insights and good talking points with them about responsible usage, this is a good place to start.  We had a good discussion with the kids after the screening and it's going to be a continuing dialogue as we navigate through this interesting, interesting area. We didn't have as much (or any!) access to screens as our kids do these days, but this is the new reality; we are living in the electronic age. The trick is to find that balance between knowing your way around tech and using tech responsibly.


Singwa - Wed, 7 Jun 2017

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30 May 2017

What makes my bag big and heavy is that I tend to carry around a lot of what I call my "just in case" items.  Apart from the essentials (wallet, tissue packets, lipstick, pens, a scarf, etc.), I always have a water bottle .  I would also have my Moleskine for the jotting down notes and lists.  More often than not, there's also a book with me for those times when I have to wait for the kids or for when I take the bus.  Sometimes though, the book is a hardcover and is quite bulky and heavy, which can be a pain --literally! 

Then I discovered these pocket-size word search books and they're just perfect!  They're small, they're oh so pretty and they each have 100 word search puzzles.  I love word search puzzles; they're so addictive!

I get a few for myself and I got a couple for Zoe, too.  Some days, we just sit together quietly and do word searches, trading books when we get stuck, and get the other person to help look. 




What do you do to kill time while you wait around?

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22 May 2017

I'm a big fan of one-pot meals. What's not to love?  They're easy to pull together - carbs, protein, fiber in one dish; no-fuss, less to clean up.  

Now that the kids are older, we've decided to let the them take charge of one meal per week. What better way to start them off than having them do one-pot meals? We sorted through the recipes that I'd gathered and chose to make this one-pot creamy chicken bacon pesto pasta. (Josh was immediately sold when he saw the words bacon and pesto and parmesan in the recipe!) 

They both viewed the video and agreed that it was quite manageable and set to work. We'd modified the recipe a bit and used pancetta and fusilli instead of the bacon strips and fettuccine that the original recipe called for. We also did away with the salt and threw in a lot more coriander than was required.

This is what they came up with.
Singwa - Wed, 24 May 2017

We all agreed that it was really good. Though creamy, it was not overly rich and all the ingredients came together very well.  Josh insisted on having the leftovers for his school lunch on Monday!

Though they worked together on this one, the deal moving forward is to have each child be in charge of one meal per week. Easier and more efficient to have one person in charge each time. They have to pick the recipe and let us know what ingredients are needed, so that we can make sure to get what we don't readily have at home.  (Of course, the recipes have to be pre-approved, because if it were left totally up to Josh, he'd be mainly looking for recipes with Angus beef, truffles, bacon, pesto, and a copious amount of cheese - all kinds! - each and every time!)

What are some of your go-to easy recipes?

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15 May 2017

w e d n e s d a y



The pollution levels had been pretty bad last week. After-school (outdoor) activities had to be cancelled. Sore throats, coughing, headaches all around. Not fun.  Had to keep the windows closed and air purifier / air-con on all the time.


I still went out on my weekly hike, though. Maybe that was why I wasn't feeling so well afterward. Maybe that's also why this pretty butterfly wasn't feeling so well either.  It was probably injured; that's why it was on the ground and allowed me to get close enough to get a good shot. 

Anyway, it's supposed to be raining all this week. Hopefully we will have clearer skies and cleaner air after the rain.


Singwa - Wed, 17 May 2017

How is your week coming along?

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09 May 2017

I love having indoor plants.  If I have outdoor space, I would be filling that up with plants, too.  Before we had kids, we had a whole bunch of orchids (among other plants). Different varieties --some we got locally at flower shows, others we'd brought back from our travels to Bangkok and Bali. We had a couple of the less common kind.  We gave them all away shortly after the kids came (long story!), but we're definitely enjoying their presence in our home once again now that the children are older.

We have mostly phalaenopsis (moth/butterfly orchids) these days and an oncidium (a dancing lady orchid, which I got for only HK$10 --which is just a little over US$1!).   I hadn't really paid much attention before, but this year, they somehow all bloomed at the same time --all seven plants!  What made it doubly exciting is that at least two of the plants grew twin stalks of flowers (when usually you get only one single stalk). Maybe it's been the super humid weather, maybe I'd fertilized at just the right time, but whatever it was, I'm super thankful for the beauty these orchids bring.

They are such hardy plants and require minimal care.  Yes, for the most part of the year, they're just leaves and roots, but when they bloom... whoa!  What's more, the blooms last for weeks and weeks.

What are your favorite flowers?


Singwa - Wed, 10 May 2017


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03 May 2017

It's a public holiday here today... Buddha's birthday.  Hong Kong used to celebrate the Queen's birthday, but after the handover of the territory back to China in 1997, Buddha's birthday has replaced the Queen's birthday as a public holiday.  I'm happy that they didn't simply do away with the holiday, but instead opted to replace it with a different one.  Haha, we love our public holidays!  (Hong Kong has a total of 17 public holidays in a year.) 


Do you have a lot of public holidays where you live?


Singwa - Wed, 3 May 2017

We went out for a hike.  It was hot, though not as hot as it could be in the summer, but hot nonetheless.  I love that we get to spend time (outdoors) as a family. I love that I get to do one of my favorite trails with them.  Most of all, I love that the kids are outside and away from screens.

26 April 2017

We've been experiencing a bit of cooler weather this week. Not cold enough to get out the winter stuff again, but a definite respite from the heat and humidity.

Because rain had been forecast for the week, Z's Sports Day at school had to be postponed. My friend and I decided to go hiking instead. Instead of our usual trail, we opted for a shorter, more scenic one this time.  I love this trail (Leaping Dragon Trail, then onto Pottinger Peak, and ending up in Big Wave Bay), were it not for the steep climb at the beginning. 


Singwa - Wed, 26 Apr 2017
I've done this one quite a number of times before, but in the past, I'd be breathing heavily minutes into the hike and I would need to stop several times during the climb to catch my breath. This time, though, I kept waiting to feel out of breath during the climb, but surprised myself by not feeling labored at all.  All the laps around the track and all that walking in Singapore helped tremendously!

Now I'm even more motivated to keep this up.  When the weather gets unbearable to do laps around the track, I'll have to switch to the pool instead.  Go, me!

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18 April 2017

Well, hello!  Sorry for being missing in action last week.  We've been up to quite a bit since my last post.  Hubby had a business in Singapore and me and the kids tagged along.  We were pretty much on our own the whole time as Chris was really busy with work.

Singapore is very much like Hong Kong and it's not our first visit, so we felt very comfortable going around on our own.  We did a LOT of walking, averaging over 17,000 steps every day that we were there! 


There were a few things that I needed to get during our visit. Top of the list were these Irvin's salted egg chips. It took us four visits to the shop before we were finally get our hands on a couple of bags!  All the previous three times we were there, they were sold out. The following day, we decided to go as soon as we knew they would be open (at 10am) and even then, there was a long queue already.  

These chips are "dangerously addictive" (as it says in their packaging). In a way I'm kind of glad we don't have them here in HK yet or else it'll be too easy to get my hands on some and overindulge!



What do you think? Would you want to try them?

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05 April 2017

Scouting Fun



The kids were away at the District Scouts camp this weekend. Unfortunately for Z's troop, who left last Fri, it was pouring and super cold. They had to pitch their tents in the rain. Their night hike had to be cancelled.  Luckily, the weather cleared up and it was such a beautiful day on Sat, which was when J's troop arrived.  


Singwa - Wed, 05 Apr 2017

The grounds were still wet and muddy from the day before, but that didn't stop all the Grasshoppers, the Cubs, and the Scouts from getting on with all the activities planned for that day.  There were over 20 troops from all over Hong Kong. The Grasshoppers had their own activities.  The Cubs and Scouts from different districts were grouped into patrols to work together at different activity stations.  It was really great to see the older Scouts lead and mentor the younger Cubs.  There was a scavenger hunt; they caught bugs. They did first aid and learned different ways to get a fire going. They practiced a variety of knots and had fun running through an obstacle course (with some members of each patrol having certain handicaps to make it more challenging).  

Singwa

The Cubs had a sponge fight. Additionally, the older Scouts went rock-climbing and were challenged on a high rope course, which, according to J, was the highlight of the camp, even though it was a bit scary.


Singwa


I love that both J and Z enjoy scouting. Even though both are with different troops, there are occasional district-wide events where all scouts come together for different activities. They get to meet Cubs and Scouts from other troops and make new friends and learn from each other. How fun is that?

Were you a Scout growing up?

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29 March 2017

Working Out



I've been a bit more proactive about getting out and about and moving.  Apart from my weekly hike, I've taken to trying to keep up to at least 10,000 steps a day. I started last week trying to do laps around the track --part running, part brisk walking.  Josh decided to accompany me, which was really sweet of him.  It made all the difference.  He was my cheerleader.  I was originally planning to do only six laps, but ended doing 12.  That felt good. Really good.  (Especially because Chris came back with salted egg potato chips from his trip and we could not help ourselves and dug right into them.)

We've done it a few times since and our best record was 21 laps (me) and 24 laps (Josh). Josh felt so good about that that every other time we've gone; he was gunning to break his own record. 

I love our mother-son work-out dates. Beyond the fact that we're keeping fit, I love that I get to spend time with Josh. I love that we have philosophical discussions about everything and nothing. I love that he chooses to go with me over vegging out with a book.  I love that I'm learning stuff about him. I love being with him.


Singwa - Wed, 29 Mar 2017


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21 March 2017

Spring!



Today is apparently the first day of Spring.  Hmmm. The weather has warmed up a bit, I have to say.  A good change from the cold and the damp of the past week.  Looking forward to wearing tees and shorts and flip-flops again!


Singwa - Wed, 22 Mar 2017

14 March 2017

It's been a busy, busy week last week. It's a busy week every week, but last week was busier than usual. 

A niece was in town. I hadn't seen her since she was 4 and was a flower girl at our wedding almost 14 years ago! She was here for a conference. Hard to reconcile the little girl with the young lady I saw.  She had a few hours free in-between meetings and we met up to have lunch and to have a walk around.  She's a bit of a photography buff as well and we had fun walking around and stopping by here and there to take pictures.

The Akela in Z's Cubs troop was leaving Hong Kong and we had a small (surprise) farewell party for her after our weekly troop meeting. We will miss her and her family. They are some of the loveliest people I've met.


Singwa - Wed, 15 Mar 2017


There was another farewell party on Saturday, after which Z and I went to attend (anticipated) Mass, because she would be missing regular Mass on account of her netball tourney starting early on Sunday.   

Z's team won their netball match on Sunday and they're in the semis (yay)!  Rushed back after the match to pick up hubby and J from church.  They then drove me and Z to school where we rode the bus with the Cubs troop for backwoods cooking at Clearwater Bay Country Park.  What a fun afternoon in a lovely park. The Cubs gathered kindling, twigs, big sticks and started their own fire and had a barbecue of sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, and chapati. After the fire was put out and things cleared away, the Cubs had some free play time and some of them flew kites. It was an amazing ending to a packed week!



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