Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The rojak man

I was looking at recipes when I suddenly thought of the rojak man who used to park his motorbike right downstairs. It was no common motorbike. It had a big wooden box behind the seat, which opened up into a workspace and contained all the equipment and ingredients for the yummy dish.

It was usually evening time. There was still light but fading. We would be playing or something, and suddenly, "bibo bibo!" And off we ran to the kitchen window, looked down and there he was, the rojak man, in front of his box, ready to make rojak!

We didn't get to have it all the time but sometimes, we got money to go buy a pack or two. And it was really fun!

First, we had to queue with other kids and aunties in the neighbourhood who got there faster. Then, when it was our turn, we gave our order and - this was the fun part - stood right next to the uncle and watch him work.

I still remember his wooden bowl, then at my eye level, which was dark with the sauce from previous orders. In his wooden box were the various ingredients - tau pok, you tiao, cucumber, pineapples, peanuts, sauce, chilli, and I don't know what else!

I loved the sight of the rojak being stirred furiously. I loved hearing the sound of the metal spoon scrapping the sides of the wooden bowl.

Then very suddenly, it was done. The middle-aged uncle would pour the rojak into a plastic drawstring bag, throw in a couple of satay sticks, collect the money and turn his attention to the next customer, while we would run back, very very eager to tuck into the snack of the day!

I think I would like to have some rojak now...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving today. I never thought much about it until the last cooking class when the lady spoke about it before she went on to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal for us. It's a time for families to get together. It's a time to give thanks, as its name suggests.

Indeed, I have much to be thankful for.

It's been a turbulent year, full of happy and joyful thoughts and hopes, full of sad and dark hours, full of friends and growing friendships, and full of uncertainties of what lies ahead. Through the good and bad, we have grown a little.

I had a good conversation with a friend today at the Thanksgiving feast in school. She said she often forgot to live in the present. She also told me that she thought I was the happy-go-lucky sort. The truth is, when I'm careless, I can fall into the dark side, and be pessimistic and generally negative about what the future holds. It's a timely reminder to not worry too much and simply 活在当下 and live every day as it is.

Because every day is a blessing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The most boring trip ever...

We randomly picked a spot nearby for a short holiday - Milwaukee. We decided not to drive so we took the Metra to Chicago and changed to an Amtrak, which turned out to be really comfortable.

But, gee, it was really boring after the first day!! I think we could have done with one day instead of three *.*

Monday, 21 Nov 2011

We couldn't check in early so we headed to the Harley-Davidson Museum!



Entry was $16 but students get a $4 discount so Sito flashed his student card :) But we spent the $4 on an audio guide, which wasn't terribly useful.. They have free lockers so we could leave bags and coats at the lobby - convenient service.

There's an area full of bikes for visitors to sit on. It's really cool! Check out my husband on a Harley-Davidson!



I picked a 小绵羊 - MUCH easier to get on and off...



We looked through the history of the company. This shows the minutes of the first meeting of the company - got template! (Oops, occupational hazard..)



They also have some interesting advertisements. Look at this - first you date comfortably, then you have a kid and still travel comfortably! (Occupational hazard again? :p)



But the most interesting thing we found was that back then, it was a culture of "everyone has it or is doing it, so should I".



We thought the company flourished through the wars by supplying many of the vehicles. I think this particular model was never used but I thought it was cool :)



Then there were various races - curved slopes, uphill etc. And the racers had to wear shoes with iron soles because they would drag the feet as they turned.



See, Sito became a racer for 10 seconds :p



I like the gas tanks very much. So pretty :)



This customised bike is very pretty too!



Oh, there was a kids' area with leather caps and jackets. Sito couldn't fit into a jacket.



I could! But the jacket was a bit too short :p



There are a few more games and hands-on areas, like in the engine room and test lab area where we customised our own bikes and emailed the picture to ourselves :)

And we went to this restoration area. Outside the gates was this sign :p



This is totally random - one of the two water towers on the grounds was very festive :)



We finally checked into Hampton Inn and Suites. The room was spacious, and we found that they offered hot breakfast, all for $96 a night! Quite happy with this choice. If only they had a fridge in the room..

Anyway, dinner was at the Old German Beer Hall, where Sito had a beer and we shared a giant pretzel and a bratwurst platter. The burtwursts were just boiled; might have been yummier with a bit of browning on the grill...

The pretzel was amazing with cheese topping. And it was huge! I was holding one of the small holes - you know, a pretzel has two small holes and one big one right? Yep, huge pretzel.. Good ending to a good day..



Tuesday, 22 Nov 2011

No photos to show today - we were supposed to go to the Discovery World but figured that we didn't need to spend $16.95 for a science museum. Didn't help that we saw only school kids there hoho!

The Milwaukee Art Museum is just next door but we are not the artsy kind, and we could get into Chicago museums on museum free days so we decided to walk through the city instead.

The day before, we already experienced a bit of the city since our hotel was downtown in West Town. At 8 pm, we met just one single person on the streets. And he said hi and asked us for money *.* We were hoping that it might be better in the day today - more people, more 人气...

And we were sorely disappointed.

We went to the Historic Third Ward - nice buildings, nice streets, nice shops, but there was hardly anyone around. We eventually got to the Milwaukee Public Market - finally, some people! But it was not very big and we left soon...

Then it was East Town. There were more people there but not a lot of things to do. We had chilli at Real Chili - it was quite good except that I regretted going for all beans instead of a mix of beans and spaghetti..

So in lieu of any other thing to do and see, we popped into the shopping centre across from our hotel. And we bought socks for Sito :p I also got a couple of children's books for upcoming birthdays among the kids here. Then we bought a grape Icee - omg, Icee! - and went back to the hotel to watch TV *.*

Dinner was after many episodes of Friends, at the food court in the shopping centre across from us. Lazy to go any further :p Strangely, "Cajun Grill" serves Chinese food... Anyway, it wasn't too bad - we do like angmoh Chinese food haha!

We soon retreated back to the warmth of the hotel. And we decided that we would go back to Evanston the next morning instead of later as planned.

Wednesday, 23 Nov 2011

What a good feeling to be back in Chicago! The many tall buildings, the many people on the streets, the sounds of the cars. Yes, I'm a city girl :)

Sito brought me to the Chicago French Market where he went for dinner often during his internship. It was so nice and so much better than the Milwaukee Public Market! We will go there again :)

So now we're happily home in Evanston. Got ice cream on the way home from the train station. Got our mail and parcel before the lobby closed for the Thanksgiving holidays.

Really, after this trip, we truly appreciate our little town and Chicago! We'll enjoy this place before heading back to an even better city, Singapore!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Happy birthday, Sito! :)

We celebrated Sito's 31st at Morton's last night, like last year except that this year, we went on the exact day and our menu had his name instead of Mr Low!

They gave us a photo of us, and I took a photo of that:



Sito's face wasn't swollen. He just had some bread in his mouth - so cute :)

We're going to Milwaukee next Monday, be eating more!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Depriving kids of candy, among others

A while ago, this topic about how to prevent kids from eating unhealthy food like candy came up in a conversation with two other couples. I don't think Sito and I had talked about this before that but we both disagreed with totally depriving kids of such things.

When I was a kid, the only time I could have candy or sweet drinks was when my paternal grandmother bought Doraemon for me or when I was at Grams' provision shop.

And boy, when I was at the provision shop, did I eat and drink and play with abandon!! Crackers of all sorts in those metre-tall containers, chocolate, sweets, packet drinks, sodas in glass bottles, icicle pops, Super Elastic Bubble Plastic! I wouldn't miss that fortnightly treat for anything!

Then when I was finally able to go out on my own with CY, we would go to KFC after going to the library, again every fortnightly I think, and I would order a large soda on top of yummy fried chicken and fries or mashed potato. The cup looked like a freaking tub!

My bad eating habits continued to adulthood. Sometimes I simply cannot stop myself from eating chocolate or ice cream or nuts, and it can be very scary.. Yes, I'm very lacking in self-discipline in this area... I help myself by choosing dark chocolate so I consume less sugar and buying mostly raw almonds and cashews to avoid excessive oil and salt. Ice cream is trickier... I need Sito to be around to remind me to stop *.*

Sure, it is not good to indulge kids in sweets. But it's not good to deprive them totally too. Otherwise, they would be like me, no sense of self-control once no one can control them! Instead, we should help children make the right choices and eat everything in moderation.

In general, I'm against over-controlling kids. Because I was a very controlled kid. Or perhaps I was too stupid to be defiant. My later display of defiance by overeating is just detrimental to health. Man, I really hated all that controlling when I was a kid! Not just candy, but also whether I could go out, what time I must come home etc.. Yes, I hold a lot of grudges. Yet another reason to not control kids without reason!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Eat and shop and eat again!

As mentioned, our hotpot dinner :)



The potstickers saved Sito from starving as we waited for the stock to boil. After taking the photo, we had the great idea of adding crab sticks to our oden selection :p

Think two of us finished three quarters of that plate...! It was so shiok to have hotpot in this weather!

And I had an idea to start yet another blog today - a food blog!

Nah, I'm not going to start taking photos of food with a mighty DSLR camera, or become yet another food critic. I just want a place to sort out my recipes, currently in quite a mess in my Mac.. If you want to try some of my recipes, check out "mf's eats": http://mf-eats.blogspot.com

Anyway, the TG this week was the marketing TG.



I wasn't here last year when Sito "bought" loads of snacks, kitchen towels, wet wipes, ziplock bags and washing liquid. Sounds good right? This year, both of us had "money"! But we didn't get a huge variety of stuff. We were only interested in practical stuff like tissue and clorox wipes. So we got those. Lots of those! And toothpaste - now we have five tubes for eight months here!! Got some candies with "loose change".

And since I'm going anti-chronologically... I went for my second cooking class this morning. It was a thanksgiving menu today. Check out my roast chicken, mashed potato, sweet potatoes and apples, bread stuffing and pearl onions! Oh, and the token vege, broccoli :p



Then dessert was pumpkin pie. I was sooooo full I couldn't sit upright, jeans were in the way :p And I didn't even have seconds!

At the class, I felt really inspired to buy a roasting rack. Just found one on Amazon. Going to buy it! :)

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Super Marios!

Oh, almost forgot this! Yesterday, I passed by three groups of Super Marios in Chicago. I wanted to talk to the first group but I was rushing to catch a bus. Watched the bus leave from behind in the end, darn!

Anyway, that was a promo for Nintendo's Super Mario 3D Land. "Put put!"



But... Does Super Mario have a tail??!

It snowed!

So happy to see the first snow of this winter!

It arrived earlier than last year - I left for Singapore this day last year and it hadn't started snowing yet.

I was saying that we would have a hotpot dinner on the day of the first snow but Sito just left for an event in school, so we will have our hotpot dinner tomorrow instead :)

Feeling lazy now. There are dishes to be washed but I'm ignoring them.. There is no fresh vege in the fridge but I'm not going to the supermarket when it's so cold. I think I shall go nap for a while :p

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

拈花惹草 - literally

The girls went on an excursion to the Chicago Botanic Garden!

It was a pretty nice drive. At one stretch, we saw nice houses. In fact, "nice" is an understatement. Some of them look like castles!

Lovely fall colours on the way up - preview for the botanic garden?



I have a brown thumb. I'm not a fan of plants. But I took a lot of pictures that day. Things just looked so tranquil, like what greeted us as we walked through the reception:



They even have a bonsai garden! The little sparrow posed for me :)



But the main purpose of this trip was a fibre - well, they spelt it fiber :p - art show where our cooking class teacher was exhibiting an embroidered apron. But this is my fave apron that day:



With the above detours, we missed getting seats for a fashion show showcasing handmade shawls and cardigans and aprons. So we hung around outside the auditorium waiting for the models to walk by - some of them did. But the greatest find was this cute little statue - a little mermaid!



What is the little mermaid looking at? A shell! :)



We left for the outdoors. It was a little cold - by Chicago standards; it's freaking cold by Sg standards! - but it was a beautiful day!

Somehow, I was rather taken with this scene, with bits of bright blue sky peering through the yellow leaves:



And this was fun! I took a quite shot and stepped away - brown thumb, remember? Better not get too close :p But they were trying to capture the pretty flowers for quite a few minutes!



Pretty willow tree, with the sun shining through thousands of tiny gaps:



Pretty and pink! But I had wanted to focus on the brown bit in the middle - see that? It's the underside of a spider! Yucky but I couldn't help it :p



M's sharp eyes caught sight of this - check out the "disco voodoo lily"!



Then we found gigantic pumpkins! 150-200 pounds each!



My Pinky II camera didn't do this scene justice.. It was brighter than this. The geese were taking off from the pond!



Tired and hungry, we headed for lunch at Walker Bros - look at my yummy lunch! Chicken crepe with chipotle sauce, served with potato cakes and two huge servings of applesauce and sour cream!



Four happy girls :)



It was so satisfying....

And shortly after, it was the Asian Food Festival in school. This year, the Singapore stall expanded to include Malaysia and Indonesia, and the food was good and cheap from a Malay auntie in the area! Plenty of other yummy food too but I could hardly eat :( Only pinched a little from Sito's plates.... But managed to da bao some curry puffs and agar agar :)

Then, food again! We were supposed to have dinner with some Singaporeans (and associates!) but we were late due to the school event.. Just as well since we weren't hungry anymore! They were having a BBQ - gotta wear coats to grill the stuff on the balcony! The highlight of the night, however, was me winning a board game, heh heh :p So this guy developed a board game called Dash - not on the market yet but it was quite fun!

These are the game tokens - I played the haughty 红头巾, alongside a Chinese High boy, PCK and I can't remember the other two...



And my favourite picture - guess what the thief has stolen?



Ang ku kueh!!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Halloween!

Ok, posting is quite late cos I just uploaded my photos :)

There was a Halloween do at McManus on Sunday, 30 October. From 6 pm, the kids went trick-or-treating in the building. I could hear giggling from outside :)

Went down at 8 pm to watch the pumpkin carving competition. Didn't stay to the end but I found these in the lounge the next day..

Franky, you look cross :p



This is my favourite!



I got to carry S for the first time! And she was in a bee costume - super cute! And soft at six weeks!



Psst: That was also a feeble attempt at dressing up - as Little Red Riding Hood!! Got "I ♥ Sg" some more *.*

And here's the reason I didn't stay to the end - went up to heat up dinner for Sito, who came home from the fateful interview that gave him a job in Sg. So handsome! So charming! Oh my husband :)



We had wanted to get costumes but he got a call for the Sunday interview so no mood for anything else already. Last year, we didn't do anything too. But we sure had fun!

Grrr!!!



Stole the head from our friends - presenting, Beauty and the Beast! With the peasants :p



And since I'm posting old photos, these are from 2004!

Ahhh!!!



Ok, less scary - with Na the gypsy, XY the house pet..



.. and Sito the zombie, no less!



But we were just novices playing with makeup compared to this serpent man! Yup, he was holding a snake protruding from a strategic part of his costume!



Did it again in 2005 but I posted - my friends all came with better costumes :)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Musings on a home alone Sunday afternoon

Winter is surely coming but its arrival has been hastened - by an hour - with the end of daylight savings. It's only 2.33 pm but it feels like 5 pm! Three more hours before Sito returns from a workshop in school..

I've recently changed my seat from facing the window to next to the wall adjacent to the window so that we can keep the window slightly ajar and not freeze my nose off, although my right hand is now quite cold *.* Putting the cup of hot jasmine green tea between the window and me doesn't help, heh!

So my view of the outside has changed a little - now I see the backside of our aircon unit! But I also get to see Sito at his desk even out of the corner of my eye :) I used to sit with my back towards him.

Anyway, one third of the trees outside are now bald, and the rest are gently shedding their yellow or orange leaves. There's a cold breeze right now but I think the weather is already rather kind today. I went out this morning to get milk and it felt very good - cool and dry.

For the past five hours, I have been doing two main things. Spent some time looking at housing policies and prices in Singapore since we're going back (yeah yeah!) and need another apartment to accommodate either us or my in-laws. Our little flat won't take all six of us! I have an idea that I'll discuss with Sito later..

I'm also researching for our thanksgiving trip - taking a break to blog now :p I'm going to propose going to Milwaukee. Will send Sito an email for, um, for his consideration, pls..!! I bet he'll first have verbal queries, then after verbal clarifications from me, he'll reply the email with "Approved." - haha! Ok, this is our little joke of our old work...

Will be back soon to post some photos from the past week!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

回家了!

那天在学校等他一起回家,他一出现就急急拉着我的手臂,边拉边走向大门,却又很平静地说着:“回家了,回家了。”

哦,好啊,这就回家了,要煮饭了⋯⋯

当我们走出校门,远离群众时,他加上一句:“可以回新加坡了。”

他上个礼拜面试的一家咨询公司刚给他电话,通知他录取了!昨天晚上,我们也收到了有关的email。等他们把正式的录取通知寄来,他签个名,寄回去,下一个回去的就是我们了!

好兴奋!真的真的好兴奋!虽然我也不反对留在芝加哥,但最终还是新加坡好,生活方便,日子过地也好,还有家人朋友。知道可以回家了,还真松了一口气。

真的,可以回家了 :)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Instant noodles galore!

See how I sayang my husband?!



I counted 20 packets in there - and there was another pack of five in another plastic bag!

But I'm limiting Sito to one packet a week, max! So including our existing stock (oops), we would have instant mee until near graduation.....

PS: Can't post this on Facebook cos Mum is our Facebook friend and she will not like it.. Oops, naughty us *.*
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