Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year 2009!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year 2009!! All the best for the coming year.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New Year Resolutions 2009

2 days left til the new year. I'm at work today since I'm saving my leave for my upcoming India trip. AND, I'd like to get everything in the office organised and sorted to start the year anew. PLUS, I like being in the office when there's less people and I seem to get more things done.

Amidst the updating, sorting, throwing out of junk and clearing my worktable, I've been thinking about how far I've come in the past year (and also all my guilty indulgences).

During the 12 months of 2008:
- I had a busy time at work. But my learning curve has steepened further and starting next week, I'm moving on to unchartered territory (okay I'm being dramatic here but starting to cover stocks is a big deal and I'm moving on to being a full-fledged analyst!). It has been a rewarding year (both in terms of experience and the paycheck didnt hurt).

- I passed my CFA Level 1 exams but failed Level 2. Not too upset about it though. Try and try again. Failure shouldn't deter me.

- I discovered the joys of yarn shopping online and spent way too much on yarn. Exactly how much, I have no idea. In fact, I dont even want to think about the cost. But buying yarn just makes me so happy so if its within my budget, I'm splurging. In the past, I just never wanted to buy yarn online just so that I could control myself. But I failed to resist the temptation... and ended up happier with my yarn stash.

- I also spent too much on knitting "literature". English and Japanese knitting books, knitting magazines... blah blah blah. I can't help it. Kinokuniya has such a great selection I can't stop myself each time I go in there.

- Too much on clothes too. And shoes. And bags. And jewelry (to a lesser extent). Whoops. I can't help it if I take after my mother the queen shopaholic. It's part of my training by her since birth.

- I overate quite a bit and quite often. So what is new? I've been a glutton for years. It's not my fault that restaurants in Malaysia keep serving yummier food all the time. (Speaking of which, we had dinner at Sage, The Gardens yesterday and it was good. My sister declared it was her new favourite restaurant in town. Review to come.)

- I indulged in my other hobby: baking. Spent quite a fair amount of money buying "essential items for the kitchen". But hey, I argue that they've been put to good use and that they last a lifetime.

- I made my annual trip back to London in June.... And had a great time. Short trips to Barcelona and Lourdes were great too. And of course stocked up on yarn and clothes.

- I tried to be more green.... and bought biodegradable shower gel. Which is the most likely culprit that triggered my recent case of eczema.

- My cholesterol levels have risen yet again. Obviously a direct result of my feasting and lack of exercise. And I've been avoiding my cardiologist. And that was in May so I think it's time for another round of checks.

- We had more holidays within Malaysia: Penang, Cameron Highlands, Pangkor Laut, Damai Laut (Lumut) and on the Kaleebso. Going local here given the worsening economy. Plus, we have such great places around the country that we should appreciate them and patronise these tourist destinations.

My resolutions for 2009 are:

- to spend less.
- to eat less (which then results in spending less since the bulk of my expenses is food).
- to lose some weight just so I can fit into my old clothes (also a result of eating less).
- to start going to the gym again? I have no idea if this will work out at all but I should try to at least start running on the threadmill at home.
- to do more charity work and put others before myself.
- to try to stay in touch more often with my friends, especially those in Malaysia. I used to be really good at keeping the communication thingy going (phone calls, emails, cards, birthdays etc) but busy schedules have sadly left me too tired to bother anymore.

And my knitting resolutions are:

- to be strict on my yarn diet because I'm running out of storage space and I may not have that much time to knit.
- to make more knitted gifts for people (which is of course a function of how much time I have to knit!)
- to finish my long outstanding WIPs before starting more new ones and try not to get bored or annoyed with them too easily.

We'll see if I can stick to these resolutions. I've not made such lists in years that I'm actually feeling rather nostalgic making them. It's such a high school thing to do.

Piggin' Out: Puchong Ocean Ship Seafood Restaurant

Restaurant: Puchong Ocean Ship Seafood Restaurant
Address: 20G, Jln Bandar 7, Pusat Bandar Puchong
Directions: Corner lot behind Tesco Puchong
Telephone: 03 5882 8393

Last week, my dad brought my sister and I to Puchong as we needed to get baking supplies from Bake With Yen. Of course, we planned it in such a way that we'll have time for a yummy meal in Puchong. Daddy brought us to Puchong Ocean Ship Seafood Restaurant for salt-baked chicken (yim kok kai in Cantonese).

The highlight of the day: the chicken itself. The meat was delicate and very moist, not too dry as some salt-baked chickens tend to be. Not too salty as well which is great (and not to mention healthier). Costing RM25 for a whole chicken, not too bad really.

Shen and I loved the simple soup of xing kua, pork and egg. Home-style cooking at its best. RM8 for approximately 6 portions of soup (i.e. 2 bowls each).

But the piece-de-resistance for the day: the stir fried lotus root, carrots and mangetout with baby ikan bilis and lam yue sauce. Absolutely delicious!! The vegetables were fresh and crunchy and the lam yue gave it an added zing. Pa says he's going to try to cook this one day! RM10 for this. Lunch cost us RM25+8+10= RM43 + tax and drinks etc ~.

The restaurant is one of the numerous Puchong restaurants that my dad and his colleagues frequent since their office is nearby and pricing is pretty decent. There wasnt much of a crowd there when we went but we figured that since it was Christmas Eve and the holiday season, a lot of people may not be around town. On usual days, the place packs up pretty quickly during both lunch and dinner.

I have yet to try their seafood though so maybe another trip there soon?

Knit FO: Geometric shawl

This just shows how much of a procrastinator I can be. According to details I have in Ravelry, I completed my geometric shawl on 26 Oct. And I'm finally posting up pics of it here 3 months later. But, admittedly, the shawl has been put to good use in the office and so I never had much opportunity to take pictures of it until I decided to take the camera to the office.

Yarn: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino Aran, Colour - Black, 10 skeins.
Needle size: 5mm
Pattern: My own very simple design.

Here is a picture of myself in the office wearing the shawl together with dear Juliana. Yes I know I look pale and sleepy but that's how I look after staring at the computer screen for hours and without makeup!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Knit update: Juniper Syrian Shawl

I've finally managed to snap some pictures of my current WIP -the Juniper Syrian Shawl. I took it along for our little stay at the KL Hilton on Boxing Day.

Don't you just loved the colour of the yarn!? These pictures actually do not do the colour any justice at all.

Yarn: Artesano Inca Mist, 100% Baby Alpaca, Colour - Juniper, No. 8126.
Needles: Clover Takumi Bamboo 100mm Circulars, Size - 4mm.

Pattern: Shoulder shawl in Syrian pattern, Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. A really easy, mindless knit.
Modifications: None so far but I most probably am not doing the borders because (a) I can't be bothered to and (b) I think it looks simple and nice as it is. Also, I purposely made the shawl with 4mm needles instead of larger ones so that it's slightly thicker compared to the one in the book.

Progress: On my 4th ball now, 2 more to go although judging from its current size, I may not need to use the 6th ball of yarn.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas baking - cupcakes for charity!

This Christmas, our church decided to have a little party after the Christmas Eve midnight mass, i.e. around 1am. This was meant for Catholics who perhaps are the only ones in their family who converted or for those who are alone this Christmas or for migrant workers who are unable to go home this Christmas.

The SFX Charismatic team came up with this idea and a few more church groups joined in to contribute the food and drinks. My sis and I were enlisted to contribute cupcakes (perhaps that's the only thing we're good at making!). So I took the day off on Christmas Eve and spent quality time with my sister Shen and neighbour Alison, baking the afternoon away.

Here's what we came up with at the end of it all. Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with butter icing.

And here are my two partners in crime: Alison, whose chief responsibility was the decoration of the cupcakes and Shen - who was in charge of mixing up the batter and icing. I am addicted to piping bags and so I was in charge of piping the cupcake mixture into the cups (with help from Alison) and piping the icing onto the cupcakes.

At least the cupcakes looked pretty presentable when we'd set it all up in church! We used my cupcake stands that I bought from the Pavilion shop at The Gardens. Aren't they cute??

We left some cupcakes icing-free for some people who don't like their cupcakes too sweet.

Sorry Fatteh, I had to put this picture of you carrying Ma's bag! Hahaha...

The crowd...

And the rest of the foodies on offer...

Candy canes...

Turkey and roast lamb...
Some sort of ham and cheese thingy...

Minced pies...Chicken pie - which was really good! And would have been better if it was warm.

Durian puffs...
Cocktail sausages...

Merry Christmas!

* yes I know that this is my 3rd post today but I've not had time to blog for the past few days despite having so many things happening all at once. More to come as well although I'm leaving it for another day. Need to rest because it's Kar Wei's wedding tonight and I need to rush to the Palace of the Golden Horses with Ma, Shen and Evelyn to help with the decorations. Then, we need to rush home to shower and get ready for the wedding itself.

Coming up...
-Christmas Day lok-lok at Uncle James' house.
-Dinner at Iketeru, KL Hilton. (includes pictures of myself and Shen in yukata and kimono for the dinner)
-Knit update- Juniper syrian shawl WIP pictures and Geometric shawl FO pics
-Christmas carolling at home
-Christmas Eve dinner - fish head curry and salt-baked chicken!
-Review - Puchong Ocean Ship Seafood Restaurant

Piggin' Out: Hanazen, Jaya One, PJ

Restaurant: Hanazen Japanese Restaurant
Address: 43-G, Block C, Jaya One, 72A, Jln Universiti, 46200 PJ
Tel: 03-79548000
Other reviews: Angie Yong, Foodbin

On Monday, I read this post about Kissaten in Jaya One and wanted to bring the rest there to try it out. Anywhere that sells mentaiko spaghetti is worth a try in our books. But, I didn't read the fine print saying that it was closed on Mondays and so we were standing in front of a closed restaurant at 8pm that night.

Since we were already in the mood for some Japanese food, we headed to the other Japanese restaurant in Jaya One - Hanazen.

Ambience and decor: Classic, simple and clean feel. We were surprised by the decent crowd inside, which is always a good sign for any eatery.

The food: We had a medley of our favourite Japanese items.

First off was the kushiyaki moriawase costing RM32 for an assortment of grilled skewered meats, prawns and veg. Not too bad although we have had better kushiyaki at Shun (next to SJMC in Subang - I've just realised I have yet to blog about this place!!).

Fatteh had the onigiri - one each of okaka, salmon and mentaiko. RM8 each. This is his favourite thing to eat, I think. When we were last in Japan, he practically tried all the different types they have in 7-Eleven.

Rommel had the sakura chi-don - assorted sashimi on vinegared rice in a bowl. Surprisingly fresh and at RM35, it was pretty good value for money given the quality of the fish.
I had my usual ochazuke - this time it was ikura ochazuke, salmon roe on rice with some seaweed and spring onions. You then pour green tea soup on it, softening the rice and making a sort of porridge. One thing I loved about the soup here was that it was tasty enough but not too salty. In many other places where I have this, the soup is always too bland. RM16 for a bowl.

Shen was happy to see the cream cheese korroke on the menu. Of course, she ordered one portion for us to share. RM18 for this soft and creamy croquette.

From the teppanyaki counter, we also ordered the surimeika teppan, grilled squid with butter at RM18.
And finally, Shen's saba shioyaki dinner set. The fish was grilled to perfection - really crisp skin on the outside and soft and juicy meat inside.

Total bill: RM203.50 for 4 of us.
Will we go back? Probably. And we're still contemplating if we should bring Pa there, since he's so particular about his sushi.

Laduree Macaroons...

Here's what my sis brought back for me from London... Laduree macaroons from Harrods!

*sheer bliss*

Gorgeous macaroons in pretty packaging! Merry Christmas everyone!