Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Talking tod

 

TLG has been going to day care for 3 days a week since the beginning of this year.  Last Friday the day care centre gave us a notebook outlining TLG's developments in the last 6 months.

At the beginning of the year Mr Curious and I were asked to set 3 goals for TLG for the first half of the year.  Not knowing what to expect, we set the following goals:
  1. Feed himself with a spoon
  2. Say 10 words
  3. Pick out pictures of items from a group after someone says the word
At the time we didn't know if the goals were realistic.  Looking back now, we realised we have seriously underestimated TLG's ability.

He has been trying to use a spoon for ages and his skills improved with practice, and now he has very good control with a spoon, as well as a fork.  Although he still prefers to use his hands and create a mess!

It is the language developments that astounded me.  I started keeping a list of all the words that TLG can say - and the list stands at 108 today!  At the moment he is adding 4 - 5 words a day.  Today's words are tree, fork, button, bubble and carrot.  Some of them are expected as we have been using the words with him, but others are surprises (e.g. carrot today, or rice from yesterday).

TLG understands even more words than the 108 on the list.  There are words that he cannot pronounce properly yet (e.g. "yo" for yoghurt, and "pus" for octopus), and there are other words that he recognises but cannot say yet (e.g. elephant, giraffe, kiss). 

His specialty words are related to his favourite topic - cars and trucks.  He can say car, truck, dump truck, tow truck, digger, mix (for cement mixer), bus, bike, ute, "we-oh-we-oh" (for ambulances and fire engines) and buggy!

TLG is also starting to combine words to form simple sentences.  Last week when Mr Curious was watching the World Cup on TV, TLG uttered "no more ball" - I guess he was as tired of the football as I was ;-p

And on Monday TLG was calling out for Mr Curious.  Instead of saying "daddy", he said "come, daddy".  It was just too cute.

It is so exciting to see him learning, and I love seeing his face lighting up when he realises that we understand what he say.

I'm so proud of ya, little one!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From lemming to owning

Some of you may remember me lemming the Thurley A/W 2010 collection back in February.

My favourite dress out of the collection is the Bohemian Frill Sleeve Dress. The RRP is $699 which I cannot justify spending. To my pleasant surprise the dress is on sale at Frockshop for a much more wallet-friendly price of $209.


I was hoping to try on the dress before buying. I emailed Thurley for their stockists but none of them are easy to get to (they are not available at DJs any more). So I took the plunge and ordered it.

To hedge my bet in case the dress is not a good fit, I also bought The Careless Love Tulle dress from the same collection (from $549 to $165).


I can't wait for the dresses to arrive - I hope they fit well!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Casual Japanese dining at Takeru

After a day of shopping without much reward (only bought a pair of shoes for TLG), I didn't feel like cooking. So I suggested a quick dinner at Chatswood.

Takeru is right in the middle of the Chatswood shopping district, yet unless you are told you'll never know about it. It is at the back of an old shopping centre called Victoria Plaza which is next to Chatswood Chase.

Takeru is the first eatery I've been to in Australia with a touch screen ordering system, which is commonplace in Japan.  You see a display of all the dishes.

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Click on a dish you want, press "order now" and it'll be on its way!

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Mr Curious doesn't need to look at the menu - he has the same dish every time we come here.  It's the Tonkatsu Doria (deep fried pork loin cutlet on baked tomato rice, with white sauce, mayo and tasty cheese).  Not the best for your arteries but it tastes good!

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I am a fan of Unagi (freshwater eels) and so I ordered the eel fried rice (Unagi cha-han).

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It was OK only, the rice was a bit too salty.

One of the best things at Takeru is that you can order half serve.  So you can try out different dishes, or in our case, a smaller serve for TLG.  He had a Salmon Cream Spaghetti.

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I am tempted to post a photo of TLG slurping the "nute" (noodles).  He is very hands-on with his eating - he likes to take the food off the pork and feed himself!  It is definitely a messy affair.

Takeru may not be the fanciest joints but it is great for a quick meal.  Check it out when you're in Chatswood next time!

Takeru
Shop 10, Victoria Plaza
369 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood
(02) 9412 1203

Friday, June 25, 2010

Italian beef casserole

I bought some premium diced beef at the Northside Produce Market last week for a slow cooked meal.  I consulted Entice magazine (available at your local butcher or online) and the Italian beef casserole looks like a winner.

I made stock again, this time with beef bones.  It is a little bit of work for a lot of gain.  I think the key is to season it just enough to bring out the favours of the ingredients.

beef casserole

The magazine emphasised the importance of browning the meat in batches, otherwise they will be tough.

beef casserole

The cooking process is very simple, just brown the meat, cook the vegies, coat with flour and seasoning, add stock and wait until the dish is simmering, put it in the oven, stir every 40 mins and it's ready in 2 hours.

beef casserole

The beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and I like that it is a relatively light dish (I'm not a big fan of casseroles with ultra-rich sauces, too heavy for me to stomach).

beef casserole

TLG had a bowl for lunch and raided my serve for seconds!  His seal of approval is good enough for me :-D

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Aldi surprises

Thanks to a tip-off by one of the mums in my mothers' group, TLG and I headed off to Aldi this afternoon to check out their Toy Spectacular.  We left the store with a few goodies.

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TLG loves the Ikea train set that we bought a little while ago, so this is right up his alley.

aldi,toy

Trucks are definitely his thing.  He can already say "dump truck", "tow truck", "digger", "mix" (for cement mixer", "roller" and he recognises a lot more.  He already has a healthy collection of trucks at home but this is a great bargain at $15.  I bought the digger.

aldi,toy

He is probably too young for this but he likes Bob the Builder so it won't be too far away.

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A toy Dyson vaccum cleaner - how cute.  TLG is always fascinated with our vaccum cleaner. and if this teaches him vaccum when he's older I'm all for it!

And there are others that look interesting:

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He has just started pretend play (e.g. feeding the teddy bear with a spoon) and these will come in handy.

aldi,toy

Trucks may be his #1 obsession but cars are not too far behind.

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On the vein of the vaccum cleaner - teach him the habit of cleaning up early.

The problem with toys are storage.  We have already moved some of his toys into the spare room because the living room is running out of space.  But it is so much fun seeing him learning new things and enjoying himself.  Well I'm keeping the economy going, right?

You can check out the sale here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Etsy browsing - earrings

I do not wear a lot of jewellery and most of them are permanent fixures. On a daily basis, I wear a silver necklace with a heart-shaped diamond (first Valentine's day gift from Mr Curious), my engagement and wedding ring, and the eternity ring we bought during our HK visit earlier this year.

So earrings are my way to match my jewellery with the clothes I wear on the day. I have around 50 active pairs and I'm always on the look out for more.

Nothing beats Etsy for easy access to great designs at a reasonable price. I like Art Deco style earrings so I searched for and came up with a few nice options.




The first 2 pairs are something I can wear to work; the third pair will work well with jeans and a knit top.

[Edit: I had a look at my Etsy favourites and there is a fourth pair!  Now added.]

I haven't decided if I'm going to get any of them yet ... what do you think?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Question Time: Is this a fashion faux pas?

I have been living in my opaques on work days.  I do not fit into any of my pre-pregnancy pants and I don't feel like buying any, so I am wearing dresses and skirts to work, and relying on my opaque stockings to keep my legs warm.

I wore flats when I left home yesterday morning to walk TLG to day care and I bought a pair of snakeskin peeptoes with me to wear once I was in the office.  I have been wearing all black peeptoes with opaques and they looked fine.  But this particular combination looks weird to me.

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What do you think?  Did I commit a fashion crime?

By the way, I bought the opaque stockings yesterday.  They are Velvet Matte 80 Tights from Ambra and I'm very happy with them.  They're comfortable, look good, and the best part - they have sewn in a tag so I can tell which way is front and which way is back!  Will stock up some more on my next shopping trip.

Dumplings!

I was going to have lunch with a new member of my team today but she was sick, so I called Mr Curious to arrange an impromptu date.

Our destination was Din Tai Fung ("DTF") at World Square.  I went there for the first time with another work colleague a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it.

We didn't waste any time ordering and the steamers were promptly delivered.

Here's the famous Steamed Pork Dumplings (小籠包, Xiǎo lóng bāo, or "Little Steamer Dumplings" in Chinese).

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If you haven't had them before, they are dumplings with mince pork meat and soup filling.  According to Wikipedia, "[t]he characteristic soup inside is created by wrapping solid meat gelatin inside the skin alongside the meat filling. Heat from steaming then melts the gelatin into soup."

The dumplings are usually served with ginger slivers and Chinese vinegar.  There is a little instruction card teaching first timers how to eat the dumplings.  They recommend a 1-3 soy sauce to vinegar mix for the dipping sauce.  I have never used soy sauce for these dumplings and I didn't today.

The DTF version is very delicate.  The dumpling skin is thin and the meat is very finely minced.  The soup is mild and with subtle flavours.  I like them both with and without the vinegar.  The vinegar gives it a bit more oomph.

It is interesting to compare them to the dumplings from New Shanghai in Chatswood.  I took a photo when I was there a few weeks ago.

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Sorry for the bad photo - I took it with my 2MP phone camera.

The skin of the New Shanghai dumplings are thicker (see the tips) and the meat are more coarsely minced.  The favour is more "concentrated" for want of a better description.

I think the New Shanghai dumplings taste "home made", whereas the DTF dumplings are more refined, more "gourmet".  I personally prefer the DTF version a bit better but I am happy to eat either.

Now onto other dumplings.

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These are Pork and Vegetable Dumplings.  When I took the first bite I thought they gave us the wrong dumplings, because I couldn't taste the pork!  Another bite revealed small pieces of minced pork.  I wasn't complaining though as I had the Vegetarian Dumplings last time and I loved it.  Again all the ingredients were finely minced and it tasted like ... spring.  Does it make any sense?

Next up was noodles with Prawn and Pork Dumplings in Spicy Soup (the Chinese name translates to "Red Oil Fried Hand".  Why "hand"?)

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Yes, the soup tastes as spicy as it looks.  The noodles are different from typical Chinese egg noodles, with a much smoother texture.  They are more akin to ramen in my opinion.  The soup is so strong I couldn't taste the fillings though.

With our tongues burning we wanted another dish to cool us down, so we ordered the prawn and pork dumplings again, the steamed variety this time around.

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The dumplings is in the same vein as the others but the small pieces of prawn gives them more bite.  And I love prawns so these get a bit tick from me.

Before my first visit a few weeks ago, I had a picture of a big hall similar to a yum cha place in my mind.  Instead, the decor is very chic.

I really like the feature wall with different sized bamboo steamers.

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I had a coat, an umbrella and a handbag and I was worried that I had nowhere to put them.  No need to worry though, as they provide a fold up bag to hold my belongings.  They also have coat covers to put over chairs.  What handy ideas!

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The bill came to $40 for 2 people which is a bit more than what I usually spend for a work lunch but it was totally worth it.  I want to come back to try some of the other dishes.  The drunken chicken looks promising!

Din Tai Fung
World Square Shopping Centre
Level 1, Shop 11.04, 644 George St
Sydney
(02) 9264 6010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Risotto con Peperoni

I wasn't satisfied with the results of my recent cooking - there were a few failures and I wanted to get my groove back.  For inspiration I read Luciana Sampogna's cookbook "Light of Lucia" this morning.  Mr Curious and I went to her cooking class a few months ago (which I was meant to blog about - hope to get there one day) and it was so much fun, and of course the food was delicious!

The recipe for Risotto con Peperoni (Risotto with Capsicums).  Luciana said "this is one of the best risotto diskes I have ever created", a ringing endorsement indeed.

It was a happy coincidence that the Northside Product Market was on this morning, so I was able to get some nice capsicums and cheese.  Although my memory failed me and I bought hard goat's cheese when the recipe asked for soft goat's cheese so I had to buy some from Thomas Dux afterwards.

I'm not sure if there is any issue with reproducing the entire recipe from the book so I will talk through the cooking process instead.

The start had nothing to do with rice or capsicums - it was stock.  Luciana said during the cooking course that some people pay a lot of attention to ingredients like wine but neglect the stock.  So it was my plan to make some fresh chicken stock for the risotto.

In the pot were chicken carcass, carrots, onoins, celery stalks, the rind from the parmesan cheese (Luciana's suggestion), bay leaves, peppercorn and sea salt.  Two hours of simmering and voilà! The stock was ready.

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It was handy to make the stock in the same cooking session because the stock needs to be hot for the risotto.

The next step was to roast the capsicums.  I popped them in the oven until the skins have blackened.

Before:

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After:

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After they cooled I peeled the skin off, removed the seeds and tear the capsicums into strips.  I didn't take a photo because it was very messy.

Then it was time to heat up the saucepan.  First in the pan were extra virgin olive oil and a large chuck of butter to cook the chopped onion.

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The rice went in next.  Luciana recommended carnaroli rice instead of arborio for first timers as "it has a perfect consistency".

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When the rice became translucent I poured in half a bottle of dry white wine.  It was a cheap and cheery $9 bottle from BWS.  I stirred the mixture until the alcohol evaporated.

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After that I added the capsicums and the stock absorption/stirring phase began.  I poured in the stock a ladle at and time and stirred until the liquid was absorbed.  Mr Curious helped up with the stirring.

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Still stirring 20 minutes later.

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After that point I taste tested the rice after each ladle to check the texture of the rice.  When it was close to ready I removed the saucepan off the heat and added one more ladle of stock.

The final step was to stir in a bit more butter, shaved parmesan cheese (buffalo milk parmesan from the market) and soft goat's cheese (Président brand goat's milk cheese log).

risotto,cooking

And here was my dinner:

risotto,cooking

The recipe was definitely a winner!  The risotto was smooth, moist, and the cheese did not feel heavy.  A perfect dish for winter.  TLG polished off his serve too.

As the oven was already turned on to roast the capsicums, I asked Mr Curious to roast some pumpkin as well.  He searched the internet and found that if he coats the pumpkin with flour they will be crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside

risotto,cooking

They were also delicious. Instead of crunchy, the outside of the pumpkin pieces were "caramelised". It was a worthy side dish to the risotto.

We washed down the food with the rest of the white wine and it was one of the best meals I've had for a while. Thanks Luciana!

You can read more about her cookbook Light of Lucia here.  Do yourself a favour and check out the video at the end of the page where Luicana explains why god plays a part in pasta making!

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Leona + 100th post

Dear readers

Sorry for the long absence - lost my blogging mojo for a bit, I think I'm slowly getting it back.

Leona Edmiston released some new dresses recently.  After seeing them online I checked them out at Myer last weekend. First I tried on the Corinne Collar.


I like the cut, it suits my figure and the little bow collar is very cute.  However the print is a bit "mature" - I can imagine my mum choosing something like it :-/  So I gave it a miss.

I also liked the Nicola Navy when I saw it online.


When I saw the dress in person, I didn't think it would work for me. It looked very form fitting and I have lots of lumps and bumps to hide.

However it worked surprisingly well and it's a perfect dress for work.

I'm so happy with it that I'm making my maiden appearance on this blog!

I took this picture in the morning before work. Please excuse the mess in the background.

It was really hard trying to take a photo of myself with the mirror.  Another bloggers do it so much better!

leona edmiston,nicola navy,dress

Of course I am nowhere as slim as the mannequin in the previous photo but the ruffled frill hides a multitude of sins.  And I don't have many navy coloured work clothes so it is a nice change.

I received a few compliments at work today so the dress has earned its keeps.

I also bought a Cue dress at 70% off on the same day.  Anyone wants to see me model again?  :-D

Last but not least - this imy 100th post!  Not a bad effort in 6 months methinks.  Thank you everyone for reading.

I'm aiming for a cooking post sometime this weekend.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

(Almost) guilt free treat

Having been good with exercise (three times in the last week) I decided to bake some goodies for myself and TLG today - pear and banana muffin.

I found the recipe from the huggies website when I was looking for some healthy snacks for TLG.  To my delight it is also very tasty - especially after I doubled the amount of fruit!  Here's the recipe with some minor modifications from me.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of self-raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 pears
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of milk (optional)
 Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven at 180C (160C fan forced)
  2. Peel and finely chop the pears.
  3. On a plate, mash the bananaes with a fork.
  4. Place the oil and egg in a bowl and whisk until blended.
  5. Add the cinnamon and pears to the flour.
  6. Add the oil mixture and bananas alternatively to the flour and gently blend.
  7. Add the milk if required.
  8. Spoon mixture into greased muffin tray or muffin patty cups.
  9. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until cooked.
Here's the finished product:

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TLG and I shared one muffin, and it was so good I had another half.  *oops*

Maybe I will use wholemeal flour next time to make it even more healthy.

P.S. I made Sass and Spice's apricot chicken and chickpea tagine on Sunday and it was delicious.  I didn't have a tagine so I used a slow cooker instead.  I was going to give a serve to TLG but the cayenne peppers packed a punch!

Monday, June 7, 2010

And the winner is ...


Thank you to everyone who entered.  I don't have a cat to draw the winner but I have the next best thing - random number generator.

And the winner is .... Coco!

Congratulations!  Please email your name and address to mscurious@inbox.com, once I hear back from you I will send the notebook over.

I hope to have more giveaways in the future.

And sorry for the lack of posts, important things like family and sleep took priority.  I'll be back in the swing of things soon!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Beauty advertising

I saw two advertisements at the Wynyard bus stop yesterday.

The first one is for the Jil Sander perfume.  Now I don't know much about Jil Sander - I came across her store when I was in Hong Kong and I made a mental note that the brand is not known in Australia.  Well, that's not the case any more.  This is the poster.


I am perplexed by it.  Who are they trying to target? With the t-shirt, pantsuit and loosely tied hair, my guess is office worker in their early 20s? What message is the ad trying to send to potential customers?  And why is she in such as awkward pose?

I asked Mr Curious what he thought she he saw the ad, and he said "crooked".

The other ad is for Dr Lewinn's skincare range.

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The first time I saw it I only caught the slogan "old can wait" and it captured my attention, even though I didn't know what the ad was for.

Having seen the full poster I think it's a pretty powerful ad.  I like the fact that there is no clutter and no other words - the slogan speaks for itself.  The model is beautiful, of course, but not overly so.  To me, the most striking thing about her is the confidence in her eyes, it's like she's saying "I'm conquered this".  I think it will resonate with many.

When searching for the image above, I found other posters in the same campaign.

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I'm not a fan of this one.  First, the woman looks more obviously photoshopped.  The message is a cheeky pun which is fine, but the reference to the husband irks me somewhat.  I feel it implies that a woman should look good to get her husband's approval.  Am I reading too much into it?

Advertising is a fascinating thing.  If done right it does wonder for the brand (and sales), but if you get it wrong it take a long time to undo the damage.

How about you?  Are there any ads that interest/annoy you?

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