Tuesday, January 31, 2012

watery wednesday: Waterfall at Papua New Guinea


Up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, accessible by helicopter, the water engineer saw this waterfall.


Red: Buzzy Bee

This is a children's ride on machine found in shopping malls and in this case in the Auckland International airport. This Buzzy bee was an original wooden toy. When princess Diana visited New Zealand when Prince William was a baby, the manufacturers gave one to her. All the mums wanted to buy one for their babies too.

It is a pull along and the wings flap. It is our icon.



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scenic Sunday/Sunday bridge: Jaggars track, western springs

Half an hour away from my house, I could cross a bridge at Jaggars track, and be lost among the trees and native bush. I love this place and I love Auckland, we are never too far from the beach and there are always pockets of bush. Best of all, we have no snakes.!!!!!



Friday, January 27, 2012

Chrysanthemum, Chinese Delicacy Siew Mai


( My daughter G gave me this stalk of Chrysanthemum on Chinese New Year. Actually She gave me two other flowers. )

Last night, at our social Lunar New Year Function, Siong asked what flower signifies Chinese New Year. I didn't know except I was told by the Singaporeans thathttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif on the 1st and 15th, they used it to place on their altar of the Ancestors' worshipers. Once, I bought some not on these 2 days, because I fell in love with Chrysanthemums when I was at the winter gardens in Auckland, the florist explained to me.

With an auspicious meaning for Chinese New Year, the Chrysanthemum symbolises perfection, optimism and joy. To some it is an object of meditation. Usually in yellow and orange, it comes in small and big blooms, beautifying the garden or the living room. http://jollytan.hubpages.com/hub/Chinese-New-Year-Flowers-and-Plants--Singapore

Making Siew Mai.

When I was growing up in Sibu, Borneo, we didn't have Dim Sum or Yum Char. As kids, we longed for one dish when we went for wedding or birthday banquets. It was the Siew Mai in my Cantonese dialect. Most of the restaurants were Foochows, I am not sure Siew Mai was a Cantonese specialty or a Foochow's. It is also called Sio Bee.

Later, my mum visited Singapore, and came back with the Har Gow, the translucent prawn Dim Sum. She was so good that she gave cooking demonstrations when she was the Deputy leader of the Women's Institute and Patron of the Girl guides.

The Har Gow remains our family's favourite. Partly because it was Mum's. It is extremely difficult to make. In my adult life, I made it only once. I refused to make them again because the water engineer walloped them before I could come out with the next batch. He claimed that I should feel privileged that he appreciated them so much as they were so delicious. I did not revel in flattery.

But with Siew Mai, it is by far much easier to make. Tonight, the Mt Albert Baptist Church Chinese Fellowship is celebrating Chinese New year. For a change, instead of cooking my curry, I am making Siew Mai. I haven't made them for a long time, as I had learn in cooking school, I must not say, " I haven't made them before." I am going to be bold.

Ingredients :

800 gram of ground meat (pork or chicken)
200 gram of shrimp (roughly chopped)
6 dry wood fungi (soak and cut small)
6 dry shitake mushroom (soak still soft and diced small)
4 stalk of spring onions - finely chopped
2 eggs
4 tsp of corn starch
1 tbsp of oyster sauce (Optional)
1 tbsp of soy sauce (optional)
1 tsp of sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp salt.
1 tsp of sugar.

60 pieces round dumpling wrappers, these are ready made Jiao Ji Dumplings that the Northern Chinese use. (You can roll them out yourselves,)
some green peas or grated carrot (for garnish)

1) Mix all the ingredients for the filling.
2) Cover with glad wrap, Chill for 30 minutes.
3) Spoon one teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper.
4) Thinly grease the plate you are going to place your Siew Mai to steam.
5) An important step as this stops the Siew Mai from sticking to the plate.
6) Shape the wrapper up around the filling with a small space at the top.
7) Sit the Siew Mai flat at the bottom.
8) Press a green pea on the top of half the Siew Mais.
9) Press some finely shredded carrot on the top of the other half.
10) I use a rack and a special tray with holes the Chinese use for steaming.
11) Steam over high heat for 12 minutes.
12) Serve warm with chili sauce. I prefer the Thai sweet chilli sauce for chicken.
13) Arrange them alternately, one green one orange for nice presentation, and the small bowl of chilli sauce in the middle.

Verdict: All 60 Siew Mais were gone in a flash!

Comment: I think the authentic Siew Mais were made with crab roe instead of grated carrots. I wasn't going to use crab roe because I might get people say, "what's that? I am not going to eat crab roe." Besides, I am too stingy to use expensive crab roe.

Macro Flower Saturday
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href="http://flowers-macrophotography.blogspot.com">Macro Flower Saturday


Chinese New Year in Malaysia

Chinese New Year is a time of Reunion, some families travel a long journey to be with family. I recall when I was living in Singapore, many people in my neighbourhood went back to their home towns, a term in Malay "Balek Kampong". When we got back to Singapore, the first question was how was the traffic jams? There were times when we were stuck in the jam for six hours. At times, we traveled at the wee hours of 3am, the trouble was everyone had the same idea. In the tropical heat, and road rage, tempers are bound to flare up.

Hong Baos, are generally thought of as gifts given by the elders to the children. In some families, the grown adult children also given to their parents, as a sign of respect and filial piety.

Yu Sheng, the raw fish salad that has become very popular, especially among businesses. With evolution, the custom of Yu Sheng crept into our culture. Apparently it was common among the fisherman of Hong Kong. But now is in a big way. Tiny slivers of fish are decorated beautifully in a big platter of salad and nuts. Before the meal, everyone has a pair of chop sticks, stand up, and mixes the Yu Sheng by raising the ingredient upwards, and do the Lo Hei, and say all the auspicious words. Christians add Christian messages.

Friends of different nationalities enjoy Yu Sheng.

Tonight at the Mt Albert Baptist Church, Chinese Fellowship Lunar New Year celebration, I will be giving a short talk on Chinese New Year in Malaysia.

There are 22 provinces in China, most of the immigrants in Malaysia come from the 2 southern most provinces, Guang Chow and Foojiang. They came to Malaya and Sarawak and Sabah. Even though they came from the same area, some of the customs and traditions are different. Some have evolved through cross regional marriage and ease of transportation.

I grew up in Sarawak, in a Christian influence state. So a lot of the non Christian rites were done away with. In West Malaysia, on the first day, they go vegetarian, and it was hard for me to get used to it.

Oranges/ mandarins represent Gold/Kam, and people in West Malaysia go visiting with 2 oranges. This is for exchange. You give the host family 2 oranges, and they give you 2 back. This happened to my sisters. Eldest sister is married to a Sarawakian, younger sister is married to a West Malaysia. Oldest brother in law couldn’t understand why younger sister is staying for so long. Younger brother in law couldn’t understand why older brother in law is not giving then the 2 orange. Even when older bro in law said, I have to go out. Then younger sis realized it is the 2 oranges.

I was in Singapore, the kids here more straight-forward. My daughters’ friends tell me, “ Aunty, my mummy said you must give me two oranges in return.”
Traditionally we visited our relatives, and the custom was to visit the senior ones. In the old days, the relatives lived quite near to each other, you suffer the consequences if you were seen paying your respects to a younger relative. The kids love this, as we receive Hong Baos or in Malaysia, we call them Ang Baos.

The best thing that evolved in Sarawak, and then to West Malaysia is the Concept of “Open House.” We visited our neighbours and friends. And we offered them mum’s best baked cookies. There was a time, when the Malay Hari Raya /New Year coincided with the Chinese New Year. We mutually visited each other.

Things like pineapple tarts, pickles like achar are evidences of how people have changed because of their environment. My mum used to serve curry chicken 40 years ago. Now, my friends tell me because of our cultural differences o

The rest of the customs are common. New clothes, new shoes for children, lots of red and gold decoration. Certain foods to be eaten and not to be eaten, do not sweep the floor, be careful with your language, parents try not to scold your kids.
Firework works were banned, but nobody really cares. In my home town of Sibu, it was a joke that if the police was going to lock up those who set up fireworks, the town town would be locked up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Skywatch Friday and Team building

This morning, I did a post, "Singing in the Rain." But when we were walking to the "surprise" destination, we were drenched. I don't think anyone felt like singing in the rain. But on our way home, I felt like shouting the rain, "Yippee!!!" Thanks to Sandra, our principal for giving us a great afternoon.

The water taniwha or the water dragon stole our Sky Tower.

The Sky Tower is back on our way home.

Cooking at Main Course for team building. My team was the Champion. Our team leader was Kate and Penny overall supervisor cleaning up the mess as we went along.

The opposition team sharing the bench with us, Phil, Maureen, Luana, and Joanne.

I made these lemon tarts, Nina , Megan and Penny decorated them.

You can see the stressful face of Juliet. It was fun with Justin working beside her.

There was no disaster, no accidents, except, our recipe was burnt in the corner, and our oven broke. It was stressful when we had to wait for another oven tobe available.

My team was the Champions of Pt Chevalier School.



Thursday theme Song: Singing in the rain

I love this photo. I made a pair of leggings and gave my eldest daughter a raincoat. I taught her to sing "Singing in the rain." and be positive in outlook.

On my way to school, I see children and their parents cycling to school. Bet it's only me singing, " Singing in the rain, because I am snug and warm in my car."

But in Auckland, we sometimes get torrential storms, and then the creeks get swollen, not much to sing.

When the rain becomes a storm and heavy downpour, you won't want to sing in the rain especially when you are driving one and half hours for your first surf lesson.

I Facebooked Diane that I will catch some ducks at Western Springs for her.

This blog is dedicated to my friend, Diane, on the Gold Coast of Australia. She is passionate about ducks. I have known Diane for 20 years when we were both faculty wives at the Nanyang technological University in Singapore. We are still good friends. Diane sadly is a bereaved grand mother. There is heavy rain on the Gold Coast and Diane wrote "Still listening to the music on the roof!"

Don Lockwood:

I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain

Dancin' in the rain
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah
I'm happy again!
I'm singin' and dancin' in the rain!

I'm dancin' and singin' in the rain...
Why am I smiling
And why do I sing?
Why does September
Seem sunny as spring?
Why do I get up
Each morning and start?
Happy and head up
With joy in my heart
Why is each new task
A trifle to do?
Because I am living
A life full of you.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

watery wednesday: Boogie boarding in Omaha

Photo shows a kid relaxing on his board.

My son's friend J came with us to Omaha. While S surfed, J used a boogie/body board and had loads of fun. My husband shot a video of him.

This is our old faithful boogie board. We take it to the beach, to the sand dunes and the snowy slopes. It serves us very well.

It makes friends for us, we have strangers asking if the boogie board is any good for sliding down the mountains and the sand. We offer our boogie board to others, and they in turn lend their tobaggan.

New Zealanders aka Kiwis are very friendly.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ruby red/rednesday: Tractor

We went to the Waitakere Ranges walking tracks. The Hillary Trail. Parts of the terraine was steep and muddy. It's been last year, a whole year since I had been to such a difficult track. We joked it would be great to have a tractor to pull us. My 15 year old saved the day and became our tractor.

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park includes more than 16,000ha of native rainforest and coastline. Its 250km of walking and tramping tracks provide access to beaches, breathtaking vistas, spectacular rocky outcrops, streams, waterfalls and farms overlooking the wild west coast.

We had to go back to the information centre to get a map because all the tracks were a network, and we could get lost. A couple told us it takes 4 days to walk the whole track. We walked 2.5 kilometer.



Monday, January 23, 2012

New Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Revolution Complex


As part of the Kiwimummyblogs, I am invited to review products. I am given a sample to try out and I do not receive any financial returns.

I have finished the tube which is dispensed by pressing the top. It is easy and smooth to apply. I do not personally feel if there is much difference because I am naturally blessed with youthful skin. Besides, I had been using a similar product for years. People think I am more than ten years younger than I am.

But I do have a friend who likes this product. She says, "I like the way it feel on my skin when I put it on."

The product is packaged red and black in a metallic tube. This makes it an attractive and high quality product. Most consumers are attracted by the look, and this, I think has achieved the marketing objective.