Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reading glass

I went for an optometry check-up today(since it is the last day of my vision insurance coverage). I was given a clean-bill. Last check-up was 3 years ago, I had vision of 1.0/0.75. Today, it has become 0.25/0. It does seem like a good trend for me. The previous time I had it checked-out many years ago, that was 1.25/1.0. This means, if I was still wearing the glasses from 3 years back, my vision would be blurred today. So, is it fortunate that I have lost the glasses 3 years back? Well, things checked-out ok! I am happy.

My only complain is that my eyes are really tired after looking at the computer for a long time. So she prescribed me reading glasses. Don't get me wrong, I am not far-sighted. At least not yet. But since my job requires me to focus on things which are closed by all the time, with a reading glass, it would be able help my muscle relax, which should reduce my tired eyes. We will see!

What creature is this?

Saw this in a fresh market near La Rambla.
It's some sea creature.
Probably something that grows on rock???
Wonder how they eat it?

Final harvest

Today I harvested all the fruits of our labor from our garden. We planted corn, carrots, several different peppers, cherry tomatoes in our little plot. The weather has been so cold that all the plants did not look happy. I think my favorite crop is the carrot. You plant some seeds, and couple of months later, you get these big fat carrots! It's weird that eventhough the leaves are of the same height for all the carrots, they vary quite a lot in size.

The other day, we harvested our first carrot when choonping and peisun were here. It was pretty sweet and crunchy. Luckily the carrot we picked to harvest turn out to be one of the bigger ones, as we had to share it four ways.

Poor Eeyore can't get to the carrot! No wonder he's always depress..

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dinner with P'ng's parents

Had a dinner with P'ng's parents on Monday night.
This open air restaurant near to Cintra Street brought back sweet memories as we used to patronise this area some 40 years ago:)
40 years!..........sounds old ;(
But this was THE place those good old days:)
I can't remember when was the last time we were here, but must be years ago.
It used to be very famous for it's dry beef hor fan, yau char koay, and hum chim phen.
In fact, P'ng father even bought us some hum chim phen for breakfast ;)
But, most important of all, the food is still good!
We really enjoyed the dinner as we sweated, because I drank many cups of hot Chinese tea:)
After dinner, we went to their home and chatted a while.
For that, we were presented 2 books on Penang Hawker food, and some nice air flown Indonesian cakes :)
Also I received those Glucosamine Sulphate and dog biscuit from them.
Thanks, Choon Ping.
This morning, I took some Nestum, sprinkle a tea spoon of Glucosamine Sulphate on it, then add some hot water, mix it, make into small balls, and feed it to Mindy.
She loves them!
As the medicine is in powder form, this is probably the best way of feeding her.
I noticed that Mindy's hind legs have improved greatly.
Hope this pack will take her up another level.
Time will tell...............
Will keep you posted of the developement.
Mindy just want to say 'Arigato...........'
Photo taken 5 minutes ago.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Interesting observations in Spain

For the 22 days in Spain, we experienced some cultural differences, and I captured a couple of interesting pictures to share with you.
Hope you enjoy it :)

1. ATM m/c behind bars.
We found this in Toledo, some 1.5 hour bus ride from Madrid.
We must put our hands inside the bars, and complete all the procedure for $ withdrawal.

It works!

2. Hostel TV thefts

I was wondering how often Spanish tourists conveniently bundle away TV sets when they check out from hotels. We found this interesting note on the wall of our hostel room. It reads:

“The price of the room does not include this TV"

That also explains why the TV set is fixed high up near the ceiling.

3. Antique Mini lift

This is the smallest lift I have used. It only takes 2 persons plus luggage. There are 2 doors which must be properly closed before it operates. Mummy always have difficulty using it.

Being quite dark inside, it's a little erie. Using it is like taking an adventure, we are always sceptical when will it breakdown.

The ride is always full of suspense. It's like going through the 'twilight Zone'.

While coming down, a maximun load of 40Kg is allowed, lest the cable may break. So we have to walk down.

Surprisingly, it works all the time.....;) Engineering technology 200 years ago must be better than now.

4. Found this fossil, clam shell (?) fused into a huge stone in the Roman walls of Tarragona. Does it mean that this stone was taken from the sea?

So this shell must have existed for more than 2200 years.

5. Water vs wine

Spain is one place where water is more expensive than wine.

Typically, Aqua, or bottled water, costs 2 Euros in restaurants, but house wine costs 1.2 to 1.5 Euros. So to mummy, why drink water?

However, after some struggle, ah girl still prefers water,hehe.

6. Everyday, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, it's siesta time in Spain. Something out of our syllabus!

Our first experience was in Gracia, northern Barcelona.

We heard of this beautiful modern town and tried to explore after lunch, but we were only greeted by these painted doors ;(

7. Bicycle crossing

Came across this sign which allows bicycle and pedestrian to cross a busy road.

If this is the practice, I was wondering in places where the bicycle sign is missing, what do cyclists do when they wanna cross?

8. Giant lock

Ah girl has always been fascinated by the big locks used in old Spanish buildings. This solid metal latch is found in the old Muslim Palace in Al'hambra of Granada. It's huge compared to her hand.

However, in olden days, Chinese houses use big wooden latches too, some as big as 5"*4" *30"long.

Some new buildings still use this kind of wooden latch. It's so much stronger than metal.

9. Sangria

This is a concoction of wine, citrus fruit juice, cinnamon, and sugar. Sound delicious?

Curious, so we ordered 2 big glasses to celebrate our first Spanish dinner in La'Rambla. However, it was horrible!

No wonder Lonely Planet writes" Bad wines are used for this drink. And only tourists drink Sangria!"

...............and I think only ONCE!

10. Fruits: No touch!

Found this note hanging in a Barcelona fruit stall. Written in Japanese, it means "please do not touch the fruits"

An insult?

Guess most Asians, not only Japanese, feel and select the fruits before they make any purchase. Some even shake it, or smell it, like buying durians back home;)

Anyway, I don't think Spanish can differentiate between Asian Chinese, Koreans or Japanese. Quite often, we have been mistaken as Japanese. I have even overheard a ticketing officer asking a Caucasian couple who do not understand Spanish the ridiculous question of " Are you Japanese? "

11. Lizard

If you think Ah girl hates lizard, you are wrong.

As you can see, she even smiles as she touches this lizard.

Like all chameleons, this reptile camouflages it's color to suit Ah girl blue attire when I take this photo:)

12. Subway doors

Doors of Metros in Spain do not open automatically. If you want to enter, or get down, you need to open or press some buttons . This photo is just one of the many types used.

Guess it's to conserve some energy during the cold winter??

Adios.................

Monday, November 27, 2006

What is this fruit?

There is this mysterious fruit that I have never seen before prior to my trip to Spain. While we were in Malaga, this pretty and delicate fruit came (as a decoration? or maybe part of the dish?) with our desserts at a french/asian fusion restaurant. Not only did it look very attractive, it tasted quite good as well. I can't really recall the taste anymore, but I remembered that I enjoyed eating it.


Daddy and mummy also got one with the dessert they ordered. Too bad we were unable to communicate with the waitress at the restaurant, so we didn't find out the name of the fruit. Also, we could not find it in both high end grocery stores and in the wet market.




I forgot all about this fruit until this weekend when I received a collection of chocolate recipes printed on cards from one of my friends.What are the odds that this mystery fruit happened to make it on the picture for the chocolate fondue recipe!
Anyone has any clue as to what this fruit is called?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Montserrat Monastery

The Toro Family: November 2006

Story begins after sending Ah girl off to the Air Port......
It was 6:45am, 5th November.
Bye, ah girl.........
Look, mummy seemed so sad.
Me too, except you couldn't see my tears ;~p
We were scheduled to leave 2 days later.


However, the moment ah girl's bus was out of sight, mummy said," It's time to fly. "
Look at her, especially her smile..........:)



'To fly' meant we had to go somewhere high!

We took a Metro to Placa D'Espanya, and changed to a train to Monistrol, some 50 Km NW of Barcelona.

There, we boarded a cable car, reminding me of the show 'Where Eagles dare". Oh forget it! It's an old show, and bloggers today were not born yet.

This 1236M high mountain is truely weird, made of rock pillars, shaped by wind, rain and frost over the years. Cradled at 725M on its side is the famous Monastery, called Monestir De Monserrat. Can't imagine it was under the sea at one time!




We went to the Museum, which boasts of its Egyptian mummies, drawings of Picasso, Monet, El Greco etc.

However, I think the collection in Metropolitan Museum in New York is far better, especially those mummies.

Nevertheless, building such a gorgeous monastery in the 16th century is way beyond imagination.

As we entered the chuch, Basilica, the carvings of Jesus and his 12 Apostles greet every visitor. High up in the main altar is the famous Black Virgin. However, we were not in time to catch the Monserrat Boy's Choir in action.

We enjoyed the view, fresh air, and took our lunch up there. Temperature was a few deg C. With a little breeze, it was chilling for Tropical people like us.

Time and energy did not allow us to explore the other parts of the mountain, as some young visitors did. Quite a walk, but various funicular railways are ther to help any tired feet.

In conclusion, this is a very good trip. Highly recommended for those who can squeeze a morning and half an afternoon out from your visit to Barcelona.

If you have one whole day, upon returning to Placa D'Espanya, it's just nice to visit Montjuic, the 1992 Olympic site, and catch the spectacular music fountain display if it happens to be a Saturday night. Check the time.

Upon our return, we walked around La Rambla a bit, and finally, caught this night fountain view, just a stone's throw from where we stayed. Background is Ah girl's favourite El Ingles Corte Supermarket which we used to buy our makan makan. All the Turron too.

Adios, Barcelona.................

Good bye, Spain.................

We'll be back, some day in the future...............

Snoring couple :P


It's 3:30am now, and yet I'm still widely awake!? Hm... must be the cup of coffee that I had this evening just before dinner. I still can't believe that a cup of coffee can have such an impact on me. I used to be able to snooze like a pig even if I had a cup of coffee around 10. *shoooot* not good... not good.... I am aging!!

So, I ended up surfing the internet for quite a while... on the bed. Suddenly, I heard my cutie and Toro snoring! What a coincidence... snoring Toro snoozing on top of snoring ChoonPing. So cute! Luckily I was able to take a snapshot. heh heh heh... :P

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Christmas Tree

First year we celebrate Christmas in our own house, so we decide to decorate a bit. We were debating about getting a christmas tree. A plastic one doesn't look too good, and those that looks more real aren't that cheap either. Another option is getting a real christmas tree, but to kill a tree just for display doesn't make too much sense either. So instead, we designated our lemon tree to be the christmas tree. And then we decorate it! Enjoy!

Also put up some icicle lights at the front too.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Last or LOST?

This afternoon I overheard Choon and daddy's coversation over Skype that Blogging is for the 'Young ones'. This explains why I suddenly decide to blog too ;)
I may be the last member to blog, but surely, I am not LOST.
Toro! She is always so cute to me. So much bigger, or shall I say, fatter, than my Meeko at home.
However, I found Toro's match, while wandering along some side lanes in Barcelona, after buying our favourite Turron.
I adopted it, and named it Tara!

This morning we took uncle no.1 and wife up the dam, using the same trail as we took Donald, prior to his departure.
This is probably uncle no.1's hike up the hill in many years.
They enjoyed.
From the meter that he brought along, it seems that we each lost 250-300 calories for the 6 Km hike!
We celebrated by taking Koay Chiap, Ark tooi mee suah, and Indian mee goreng, which should add up to some 249 calories, hehe.
We are happy, anyway, who cares!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! For the first time, I made turkey. It turned out better than I expected. Plenty of leftover turkey, we will make kiam chai thing with the bones... :)

Everyone looking at me carving turkey. It might be because people are quite hungry, than just the bird looks good.
Pretty ladies on the left, newly engaged couple on the right!
Say cheese! Matt says, "Hmm... my favorite ham..."
The other guests! All cramped into our extended dining table.
The stuffing don't look too appetizing here, but actually tasted quite yummy. The fennel sausage stuffing recipe comes from old fashion recipe from grandma(Just kidding). By making this dish, we learned what fennel is.
It's called food coma, poor Jack! Look at little Bailey, accompanying Jack in his nap.
After the cleanup, whose wish will come true? The wishbone competition!

I make good cream puffs!

Pei Sun always tells me, "I make good cream puffs." I said, "I haven't tried it." She said, "Really? I will make it for you." After saying that for about 10 times, she made it 2 days ago while I was busy preparing the thanksgiving turkey stuffing.
Yes. The claim is verified! It is definitely good. If you want to try it, compliment other cream puffs that you see. After multiple times, your wish may be granted!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My lazy dinner


It has been over a month since I last used my wok because I have been travelling. Now that I am home, it's still very hard to get motivated to cook myself a good meal. Today I improved slightly from being totally lazy, I actually cooked some frozen gyoza, and also some frozen thai style green beans that I bought from Trader Joe's. I also had to make some brown rice to go with my meal. Since the cooking really didn't take too long, I decided to make a nice presentation of the meal using the new white square plates I recently purchased. The green beans from Trader Joe's turned out to be really tasty, however, it is still not as spicy or as fragrant as the belacan we get in Penang. I am not complaining though, since it only took 8 minutes to cook that dish.

To finish off dinner, I decided to use a smaller plate and top it up with some chocolate cake, accompanied with some vanilla ice cream and blueberries. Yummy! Not bad for a dinner that didn't take too much effort to prepare. :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blogging? It's too tough!

Hola!

Still not in the mood to post anything, despite being repeatedly nagged by Choon.
Blame it on jetlag, eventhough we have been back from Spain for almost 2 weeks . Now my system is still upside down, waking up daily at 4:00am till 6:00 am.
Guess age is catching up............:(

Well, something brightens me up yesterday! For the first time in 26 years, the Japanese Bamboo in our toilet flowers.

Some good signs?
Ah girl's engagement? Choon's new enterprice, or Ah B's coming encounter in Amsterdam.......?

Hehe, everybody talks about Toro. I have my side of the Toro story too.

It's Rabo de Toro :) A Spanish Ox tail stew that not only looked tempting but tasted excellent. Had it in Cordoba.

Good recommendation from mummy, after reading Lonely Planet.

I love it!

Boy, talking about food wakes me up!

I must talk about my cochinillo asado, a Spanish roasted suckling pig cooked with some special sauce.

Right photo shows the roasted suckling pig while the left photo is how it looked when served.

The skin was stil so crispy, yummy.

We shared half a pig:)

Hey, found an old newspaper cutting and tried cultivating bean sprout at home last week, and it's very successful! Take it raw or just stir fry, yum yum ;)

Method is rather simple, wanna share it with you guys in US?

Here you are:

1. Take a kettle, wash, and pour in half cup of green bean peas (绿豆). And 1 cup of water and soak the beans for 6 hours.

Important Tip: Close the lid of the kettle and also close the mouth with a small plastic container. Idea is not to expose the beans to any light. Do not open the lid till the whole cultivation process is successful.

2. Pour away the water through the kettle's mouth, and add new clean tap water via the mouth. Then, pour away all water, close the month again. Idea is to keep the beans damp for germination.

3. Repeat watering it this way every 4 hours, for 2 days. You may skip this moisturing procedure over the night.

4. You should see some good result after 48 hours of changing water. Pour the bean sprout out.

5. However, if the temperature in US now is too cold, germination may be slower, so put the kettle in a warmer place, say in the room.

6. Try out and feed back. Good luck.


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gardening

We know that mom and dad is coming in spring. So we spent this weekend preparing the garden. It has been very productive... Lot's of tulips, daffodils, and renunculas planted.

Pei Sun's latest addition to the garden. Cat's tail. Looks like weed sometimes....

Planter box outside of Ah Girl's room. We planted this about 2 months ago.
One of my favorite flower, Viola. Isn't it smiling at you?
Dandelions... Reminds me of Pei Sze and Jasmine's shop in San Francisco called picnic.