12 December 2017

w e d n e s d a y

It's promising to be another busy week this week.  No more after-school activty clubs, but there's still Z's panto tomorrow.  I'm running around trying to finish my Christmas shopping.  There are still a few on my list that I'm still trying to figure out what to get for.  I have managed to wrap up a number of the presents that I'd gotten.  I love wrapping!  Lazy bum that I am, I still have not gone through the bags and boxes of things that I want to have cleared out before my parents arrive... so there's that for the next couple of days.  The weekend will see us helping distribute goodie bags to a home for the elderly.  I really think that it's a worthy exercise for the kids. Maybe it can be something that we can do every year starting now.  

Very busy, but loving it... and really looking forward to the holidays!

Singwa - Wed, 13 Dec 2017

I don't remember the title of this piece of art (above), but it was something I saw when we were in the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane last year. There's something about it that I really like.

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05 December 2017

w e d n e s d a y

We occasionally have game nights.  One of our favorite games is Taboo.  We had started with parent-child pairings, but once the kids discovered that they were more successful if they team up with each other (instead of with a parent), it's now always us vs. them.  They somehow always manage to beat us.  It's like they have their own unique language!  J is excellent at giving clues and Z great at getting what he means.  They have their own secret references to things.  Maybe not so secret; maybe we're just not young or hip enough.  Hmmph.  We tell them that we're just going easy on them whenever they win. They smirk and go, "Yeah, right."

Singwa - Wed, 6 Dec 2017

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29 November 2017

w e d n e s d a y

Why is it that as the year winds down things get so busy?  A good kind of busy, though.  Also, with the nicer, cooler weather, getting things done is just so much more pleasant.  We stilll have a couple of weeks to go before the schools break for the holidays.  There are stilll drama rehearsals, scout meetings, piano lessons, netball practices and tournaments.  There is the Christmas pantomime. We've done one school fair last week; one coming up this Friday.  Grandparents are arriving for a visit.  Some Christmas gifts ordered and sent out; quite a number still to get.  

How is your end-of-the-year prep shaping up?

Singwa - Wed, 29 Nov 2017


21 November 2017

w e d n e s d a y

Lists.  Are you a list-maker?  I am.  I love lists. I do monthly to-do lists. I make lists of books that I want to read, of books that I think my children will like (and should check out). I make lists of projects that I'd like to tackle.  I have lists of various resources that I think might come in handy.  It gives me an odd sense of satisfaction whenever I can put a check against an item on my to-do lists.  

Singwa - Wed, 22 Nov 2017
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14 November 2017

Elevator Etiquette 101:  Let the people inside the elevator get out first before barging in.  May I add, too, that while waiting to get in the elevator, we should stand to the side, so that we are not in the way of the people walking out?  Common sense, common courtesy, no? 

*off my soapbox now*

What's your pet peeve?

Singwa - Wed, 15 Nov 2017

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07 November 2017

There's this place here in Hong Kong that I'd heard was used in one of the scenes from the Transformers 4 movie. I haven't watched any of the Transformers movies so I can't tell you exactly which scene it was.  What intrigued me so much about this place, though, from photos that I'd seen, was how you can capture in one single shot how densely populated Hong Kong is.  These are apartments in an old Hong Kong estate, built somewhere in the 60's.   This place has that old Hong Kong feel to it the minute you stepped into the courtyard.

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31 October 2017

w e d n e s d a y

The temps have dropped.  We are in the low 20's (Celsius) now and for me, this is the best time of the year here in Hong Kong.  Bye bye humidity, bye bye sticky, yucky hot weather. Hello, cool crispness; hello, hiking weather!  

My friend and I finally resumed our weekly hike last Tue.  We logged in over 22,000 steps!  It felt great to be active again.   It was nice to know that I was still fit enough not to be huffing and puffing during the hard part.  It was lovely walking the familiar trail.  What was not lovely, let me tell you, was me dancing a jig each time I thought (and did!) I'd accidentally stepped on some huge worms on the path!  

Singwa - Wed, 1 Nov 2017

Wild berries along the trail

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24 October 2017

w e d n e s d a y

We had a lazy day last Friday, owing to a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) day at the children's schools.  We did not have anything planned, but just decided to go to the beef brisket noodle place that Josh loves, which, conveniently, is just across the street from my favorite bubble tea store.  My mom was visiting last week, so she came along, too.  Afterward, we all walked down to the library where Zoe picked up a few Nancy Drew books.  

I never noticed that right outside the library were these statues of children reading.  Zoe saw them and quickly plonked right down and started on her book. I had to call her away, because I had a few more errands to run before we headed home.

(Hmm, maybe she should start a Nancy Drew book club? There's this site called Paperless Post and she can start sending out invitations to her friends.  Do check out the site. I've been browsing and am amazed at the beautiful stationery they have, some from designers like Kate Spade and Oscar de la Renta.  As the name suggests, these are 'paperless.'  Apart from invitations (be it for various parties, get-togethers, etc.), you can also send birthday  cards, holiday cards, save-the-date cards, thank you cards.  Check it out!)

Singwa - Wed, 25 OCt 2017

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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... 


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
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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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