Baby Log Cabin Blanket

Baby Log Cabin Blanket by meiteoh, on Flickr

Since the bootie frenzy (I actually have about three pairs more to finish off which won’t take long, actually), my knitting has taken a slow turn…well, I’m still knitting, just that I’m not exactly knitting ALL the time. There is the cooking, cleaning, baking, and so forth…even writing about things like custom promotional product. I even squeezed in a bit of spinning.

Anyway, here’s a glimpse as to what I’ve been slowly working on alongside my Entrelac stole (which is turning out rather beautifully actually) – Baby Log Cabin Blanket modelled after Mason-Dixon’s Modern Baby Blanket. It’s all about knitting garter stitch non-stop, mind you and thus, it can be quite boring. It’s like writing the same word over and over again despite using different colour inks!

Since I’m off the whole “buying yarn for a project”, I’ve decided to dip into yarns that I probably won’t use for projects that I’ll never get around to. The result so far is a rather soft yet sturdy “fabric” texture, which can stand on its own but I intend to back it with some fabric like fleece to give it some extra warmth. Still, with another four months to go, I really really hope I can finish this before the baby arrives.

So far, I’m done with two colour blocks (out of seven or ten – I’m still deciding) and have just started on the 3rd. I really really hope to keep up the mojo so wish me luck, ya? 🙂

Baby Log Cabin Blanket by meiteoh, on Flickr

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Penang Hokkien goodness!

Penang Hokkien Podcast

It has been a while since I last reviewed anything related to entertainment much or less talk about it. Sometimes it seems that my life only revolves around food or knitting…or worse, rants about Malaysian politicians and so forth. Kind of depressing or limited if you think about it.

So when I sat down in front of my lappie and decided to install iTunes, I hadn’t exactly thought about using it for anything else other than classes. Somehow I ended up subscribing to a variety of podcast services ranging from those relating to the study of language, documentaries and just cultural stuff. One in particular has always caught my attention – Penang Hokkien Podcast (note that the language and topic can be explicit in nature!).

I first heard about this podcast about two years ago, about a year or so after John Ong first came up with the concept of promoting Penang and especially, the Penang Hokkien dialect which is, in my opinion, a dialect that is fast disappearing from the Chinese communities. At that time, I hadn’t thought much about subscribing regularly because when you’re in Malaysia, surrounded by people who do speak Hokkien (not much though) and some (very minimal) Hokkien shows over the radio & TV, you don’t really care for anything related to your roots. It’s sad, I know…

Being half Penang Hokkien-half Hokkien, my Hokkien is perhaps slightly better than my French simply because I spoke the dialect to my grandmother until she died. After that, it was mostly Cantonese at home. Since my move to Switzerland and after spending one year surrounded by nothing by French, German or English speakers, I had really begun to miss things that reminded me of my roots and most of all, my family.

I have always felt that Hokkien is a down-to-earth language, informal and witty to listen to, not to mention earthy when spoken. Any cruder and you could say that it’s a marketplace language. Well, you won’t be far from the truth because if you look at the evolution or history of Penang Hokkien, it used to be the lingua franca in Penang and the surrounding northern states of Malaysia. According to Wikipedia’s entry on the Penang Hokkien dialect, Penang Hokkien is a local variant of the Minnan dialect.

Minnan is one of the sub-languages of the Chinese language and is mainly spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan, Hainan and parts of Guangdong, with the main standard dialects being Hokkien, Teochew and Hainanese. Within Hokkien, the Amoy dialect is the prestige dialect. It is also spoken by many overseas Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Penang Hokkien is based on the dialect of Hokkien spoken in the Zhangzhou (?? Hokkien: Chiang1-chiu1) prefecture of Fujian. It is said that it most closely resembles the dialect spoken in the district of Haicang (??) in Longhai (?? Hokkien: Liong5-hai2) county and in the districts of Jiaomei (??) and Xinglin (??) in neighbouring Xiamen prefecture. In Southeast Asia, similar dialects are spoken in the states bordering Penang, and in Medan. In contrast, in southern Malaysia and Singapore, most Hokkien speakers speak a dialect based on the Amoy standard.

Listening to John and his guests going on and on in Penang Hokkien brings back fond memories of home, of my family and well, of the closeness I have and feel with them. You could say that it’s a way of connecting with something that I have left behind a long time ago; I feel nostalgic, giggly and strangely…complete. As I’m writing this out, I have come to understand why John started this podcast.

Nil, on the other hand, doesn’t know any Hokkien at all. In fact, he’s tone deaf so Chinese dialects – Cantonese and all that – are totally out of his league. So he can’t understand what’s so hilarious or interesting about these fellas. I have given up explaining because when you translate what these folks are talking about, it just loses its uniqueness.

But I’ll say this – if you understand Hokkien, particularly Penang Hokkien and am in the mood for something casual (mind you, these folks are not into serious stuff – it’s all about having fun!), do check John out over at Penang Hokkien Podcast k?

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Some spring colours!

WIP: Evening Shade in Merino/Bamboo from FatCatsKnits

While I’m making good progress on the knitting front, I decided to put Serenity, my wheel, to some good use after several days of no-action. And so far, the fiber is spinning up well – the resulting yarn is shiny, soft and well, welcoming considering that spring is just a month away!

So yes, if you have been thinking that the wheel has gone into hibernation mode, think again!

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The first year.

Time certainly has passed by quite quickly. Just yesterday, I received a letter from the cantonal office asking me to drop by with my passport and current permit for renewal.

Since my arrival last year, I have gone from a newlywed femme au foyer to a pregnant, part-time business owner, part-time language teacher and almost full time femme au foyer. Being pregnant means that Nil has to help out with the chores and cooking more often than usual! *beams* We have also gone from being comfortably and gainful employed to facing our first major financial challenge as a couple, and so far, we’re doing just fine. You could say that as a couple, we are growing, which is desirable. Staying stagnant is never a good sign.

For the past one year, I have developed a love-hate relationship with Switzerland, which is normal considering that perfection doesn’t exist in this imperfect world. It is also a sign that I have become more grounded and realistic, not to mention knowledgeable of how things work and function in this country. The good things, I learn to appreciate every day and the bad things, well…I am still learning how to cope with it. One thing that is remarkably different is that despite being surrounded by more “exposed” nations, Switzerland is still very much close-minded (in some aspects) BUT that, I can see, is slowly beginning to change as people move out of their comfort zones and begin to exposure themselves to different cultures, practices and even personalities.

A couple of weeks ago, I had taken a seat in front of my laptop (with its Swiss keys) and churned out an entry, that until today, remains unfinished and unseen by the world. It was a entry laced with rants and explanations (to put it politely) about this love-hate relationship I have. At that time, I was in one of my ranty moods – being pregnant obviously didn’t help – but looking back, I realized that it is the same any where you go. There will always be great AND bad things about a country. It’s just a matter of being honest about it.

Now, a few weeks later and right after my first year here, I can say that I’m beginning to get used to the craziness of it all…

Aiii…on another note, I think I’ll go off now to look up for info on degree programs in the United States and Canada.

8)

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Homemade Prawn Mee/Penang Hokkien Mee (Hae Mee)

Homemade Prawn Mee/Penang Hokkien Mee

Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, is notorious among Malaysians for its flavourful and delicious dishes and rightly so, since each dish is fused with Malay, Indian and Chinese Peranakan influences. Dishes like asam laksa, nasi kandar, char kuey teow, kuihs and this Penangite dish, the sweet seafoody prawn mee or hae mee have slowly made its way around the Peninsular, so much so that sometimes people confuse the Penang Hokkien Mee for its Kuala Lumpur counterpart – a stir fry dish made with dark soy sauce and thick egg noodles.

Traditionally, the prawn mee is made with broth made from pork ribs, and shrimp heads plus shells. Later on, it is served with beansprouts, water convulus (kangkung), cooked shrimp, boiled egg slices and pieces of pork belly or pork ribs topped off with some chilli paste, fried shallots and a piece of lime.

I’ve had to make do with several changes, especially with regards to the chilli paste. While the recipe calls for dried chillies, the ones available here are made with Thai chillies – too spicy for comfort and well, definitely not quite suitable for this dish. A too-spicy broth is a bad idea for this dish. Anyway, despite the not-so-red tinge and the strange chilli paste that I bought from the Thai store (note to self: never use it again!!!!!!), this was tasty and very filling! Nil gave his thumbs-up and while he approves, I’d definitely try this out again but this time with a different cooking technique with the prawn shells.

In the meantime, I’m off to get my second bowl for the dinner (we had this for lunch and there is enough for dinner too!). 🙂

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Roast chicken and fluffy pancakes

Fluffy pancakes with a sprinkling of icing sugar

Nil has two favourite dishes for breakfast – pancakes and char siew paus. Sometimes I think it’s funny considering that he doesn’t exactly grew up in a culture that promotes pancakes or paus as a staple breakfast meal. Pancakes are a Northern American dish and while it is known in France, it’s not a common item at the breakfast table.

Because he likes to sleep in on the weekends (who doesn’t?) and I can’t really go past 8:30am every day, weekends are just about the only time that I can take my time to whip up something. Weekdays are out because Nil just likes cereal and yoghurt or juice. To him, anything more requires appreciation, which requires time.

These are quite simple to whip up – all purpose flour, baking powder, milk, eggs, some sugar and salt – and voila, fluffyness! I usually take these with just a small dollop of homemade jam or a tiny sprinkling of sugar (icing or brown) while Nil likes his with a healthy dose of honey. I surmised that they would taste excellent with fresh fruit on the side as well…especially bananas! YUM!

Anyway for dinner, we decided to take out the whole chicken we bought last week and cook up some Hainanese roast chicken based on this booklet I got. The overall result was tender and juicy meat with a crunchy skin (Swiss chicken are not exactly fat so that’s a bonus!) but the marinate was a bit tad too strong for my liking so I might decide to change a few things to the recipe the next time. We had this with some garlic rice and Chinese cabbage soup on the side but somehow I forgot to buy the cucumber…o’well…*shrugs*

Tomorrow the kitchen will see some heavy action in the form of prawn mee which can be quite complicated…not to mention expensive. Luckily we’ll have at least four servings of this and will probably also be able to have leftover raw ingredients like prawns, eggs, bean sprouts, noodles and so forth which can keep for another meal or dish.

So until tomorrow then… 😛

Roast chicken with sweet chilli and garlic rice

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Pigs in a blanket: Try #1

Pigs in a blanket: Try #1

They look alright, taste yummy but I still need to work on them (dough-wise anyway). So ain’t going to talk much about them…or ruminate on the recipe either. Sorrweee…

In the meantime, can those of you back at home please tell the Education Ministry to stop changing their minds and stick to ONE language as a medium of instruction in schools? Oh, and do add that the decision made has preciously little to do with patriotism – this sentiment doesn’t put rice on tables or a roof over heads. Please get them to be more practical, this time.

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Crochet booties!

Dual Colour Strapped Booties with buttons Dual Colour Strapped Booties with buttons

Dual Colour Strapped Booties
Pattern | Double Strap Baby Booties by Sylvia Schuchardt
Yarn | Rowan All Seasons Cotton in Rose and Bark
Needles | 3.5 crochet hook

I had actually finished this a few days ago but had placed it aside since the buttons were coming in from Hong Kong. Yes, the selection of buttons at the local store is kind of…uninspiring and well, since most of my “allowance” money is tied up online, I thought I’d buy them off Ebay or something. Turned out to be a very well-made decision considering that I’ll be knitting a few baby clothes, booties and things that need buttons and that these buttons are awfully cute – I have some in the shape of dog bones and red ladybugs!

Anyway, I have another bootie-loafer to finish crochet-ing and this one might be a little fiddly because I’m working with a sport/DK weight yarn instead of worsted (basically thinner than usual) and mixing it with some black Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton yarn. The leftovers will end up going into knitting up newborn to 3 month old booties, Mary Janes and loafers which will either end up in the store or as gifts to friends who are expecting.

In the meantime, I’m feeling quite adventurous and thus, have started work on a baby version of the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket as seen here. Wish me luck!!!! 8)

Oh, here are pics of my other pair with some ladybug buttons! So squishable and tiny-ly cute!!!!

Double Strap Booties with buttons Double Strap Booties with buttons

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