Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dogs and Christmas presents

Been a long time between updates on how Sam and Rosie are doing. Well, I'm happy to say that they're both fine. Still happy as always and romping around the yard with their toys as usual.

Managed to get them to sit down together for a photo.

Sam and Rosie at play.

Noon and I were up in Sydney on Sunday, we both had a craving for yum-cha and there aren't any decent places to have this in our area. So off we went in the morning, and got there in time for brunch. After filling up on a variety dumplings, spring rolls and buns, we headed off to do a bit of window shopping.

As it turned out, Noon was browsing in a handbag shop and a nice leather bag caught her eye. I decided to get it for her as her Christmas present. Was nice and soft, and large enough to hold all her stuff without being overly bulky.

On an impulse, I also decided to get Noon another, more expensive, present for Christmas. Here's the wrapped box... anyone want to take a guess as to what's inside?

How about a little hint?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Filler post

What does your pooch get up to when you're not home?

No that's not Sam, and it's not Rosie either. Noon and I don't own a dishwasher :)

Credit goes to Richard Miller for sending it through, we enjoyed it and thought you might too.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Not forgotten

I realise that updates and posts to this blog have been few and far between recently. I've not forgotten to write and maintaining this place is still important to me.

It's just that there have been a great many developments happening in my professional life at the moment, with a major change imminent within the next fortnight. These developments have been good for me - in essense I have secured a promotion of sorts, and confirmation in a role in which I wish to develop my skills.

What's not so good is that this has (I believe) precipitated a major shift in the operations of my team of colleagues, all of whom I consider very close and dear friends. This change was forced upon them, and while it may or may not represent an improvement in their professional careers, only time will tell.

I still feel responsible, however, and will have to deal with these feelings over the weekend.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What the???

Saw this at the supermarket, had to get it! Check out the instructions on the back.

"...an authentic Malay style meal in minutes!"
Hmmm, okay then!

Having trouble finding the proper ingredients to cook it up though, never thought it would be that difficult getting halal pork...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pork chops for dinner!

You know how sometimes you just run out of ideas for what to cook for dinner? Happened to us last night. We were scratching our heads trying to figure out whether we felt like eating out or having a meal at home. Noon said we had long beans in the fridge and I remembered watching a cooking show on the telly a few days ago about grilled pork chops on a bed of beans. And so we came up with.... orange marmalade and balsamic glazed pork chops, on a bed of beans and sweet potato mash!

First thing we did was season the chops with a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper, then seal and brown both sides of the meat on a lightly oiled pan. The glaze/sauce was a mixture of orange juice (2 oranges), orange marmalade (2 tablespoons), brown sugar (1 tablespoon), and a generous dash of aged balsamic vinegar. After the meat was browned, we poured the sauce into the pan and turned the meat to coat. We then left the whole thing to simmer on a very low heat for 40 minutes to reduce the sauce and slightly stew the meat.

We brought Sam and Rosie out for a walk to the park while we waited. When we got back, it was time to get the beans ready. We boiled them whole for just a few minutes...

...before plunging them into iced water to stop them from being overcooked and to retain the bright green colour.

While that was being done, Noon got the sweet potato cooked in the microwave and then proceeded to mashing it up.

And with all that done, it was time to plate up! The beans went on the plate first...

Followed by the sweet potato mash...

And finally the chops went on top, along with a generous drizzle of the now thickened sauce!

Opened up a nice bottle of wine and sat outside on the deck for an al-fresco meal :) The meat was nice and tender, and the sauce was tangy and fruity. Definitely something we will repeat in the future!

Not bad, eh? From not having a clue about what to eat to whipping up a nice little meal for ourselves!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rosie's swollen face

Woke up yesterday morning to find Rosie's face all swollen around the eyes and lips. Noon was in a bit of a panic but I'd gotten used to Sam having all sorts of allergies that I put it off to her having stuck her face into some grass or bushes she was allergic to.

With that, we decided there wasn't much we could do so off we went to work. I'd intended to call the vet to arrange for an appointment later in the afternoon. The plan was for us to wait until we got back from work to see if the swelling had gone down, we'd assess it and if needed, we'd then bring her to the vet.

Instead, when I rang up, I was told that I should bring Rosie in immediately. The vet thought it was most likely an allergic reaction to a bee sting or insect bite, and complications could arise causing difficulty with Rosie's breathing. Sounded serious enough and I couldn't bear to consequences should the worst case scenario arose. So, off I went to pick Rosie up from home and dropped her off at the vet where she was to be given medication to counteract the swelling and where she would be kept under observation for the rest of the afternoon.

Here's proof that you can never keep a good dog down! She had her favourite toy in her mouth when greeting me when I got home to pick her up :) Looked really comical having it in her mouth with her face all swollen up like that, and her tail was going at a hundred miles an hour wanting to play.

Am happy to report that Rosie's swelling has gone down almost completely this morning. She was looking like her old self again, and was tumbling all over the yard with Sam when Noon and I woke up. I personally think it was from a spider bite. The weather has been warming up lately and quite a few spiders have been spotted around the house. Big huntsmen that are not poisonous but can still give a pretty nasty bite.

Unfortunately, because of the dogs' nature, Rosie's unlikely to learn from the mistake and avoid spiders in future... that's what the vet told us. Silly dog... ah well, that's life!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sunday outing

Last Sunday, Noon and I went to attend a baby shower picnic for a work colleague. We thought that since it was an outdoor picnic, we could bring Sam and Rosie along with us. We kept in firmly in mind that this was the first time we'd be bringing the dogs out to a situation where there would be lots of kids running around, as well as strangers whom they hadn't met before. Despite this, we wanted Sam and Rosie to hopefully learn to socialise and behave themselves in public.

Here they are waiting to be let out the gate. Got rather impatient after a while, they knew we were up to something what with all the bustling around and putting the collars and leads on.

We loaded them into the boot where (we think) they're more comfortable with the flat floor

They seem to like sticking their heads between the seats' headrests, alternating between looking forwards at us and backwards at the scenery and cars behind us. Consequently, I've had to clean up snot marks on my rear windscreen everytime after we have them sitting in the boot.

Took a bit of effort, and quite a few stern commands, but in the end we managed to get them sitting still and not wandering around bothering all the other people there. But honestly, I think it was only because we had food in our hands and wouldn't give it to them until they behaved. Sam and Rosie got to eat lots of things that day... cabanossi, cheese, leftover sandwiches, smoked salmon, shrimp, crackers...

Sam was a big hit with the girls :)
Everyone wanted to cuddle him!

Rosie, of course, was up to her usual tricks - fetching anything that anyone threw for her! After a while you could tell she was bushed, she was slow in retrieving, and plodded slowly when the stick was thrown.
And yet the kids kept on throwing the blooming stick!

All in all a very enjoyable day for the four of us. Was mid-afternoon when we got home, and Sam and Rosie crashed into their beds and slept right up till dinner time. They're not very fit, those two... Tsk! Tsk!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I'd mentioned previously that I was away at training in Sydney a week ago. Noon came up to join me for two nights at the hotel, kinda like a short getaway for the two of us.

That meant we had to make sure Sam and Rosie were taken care of during the time we were away. We weren't too keen on having them put into the boarding kennels because they would have to be kept in locked kennel cages (not as bad as it sounds, and they get let out for exercise twice a day). Instead, we found this website - Roseground Labradors - which offered homestay accommodation for dogs.

I jumped on the phone and rang up, and was told that Joanne and Mark (the minders) would be happy to have Sam and Rosie over while we were away. Noon and I went over to visit that same afternoon and met Joanne and Mark in person, along with their two lovely children. They had a beautiful house with a nice backyard for the dogs to play in. And what's more, their place was just a few streets away from where Noon and I live! Here's a picture of the upper storey of the house, you can just see the backyard under the balcony.

The backyard was divided into two separate sections, where visiting dogs could be placed for 'timeouts' if they got too rowdy/grumpy/aggressive. Joanne and Mark had dogs of their own as well - Jazz and Molly. We were told that as long as Sam and Rosie were housetrained, the would be allowed to come into the house with the family when there were people at home. Oh, and we were also promised that they would get their daily exercise in the form of two walks daily or, if the weather was bad, games of fetch in the backyard.

As for food and sleep, they were happy to provide feeding routines and portions as specified by us (we provided the food, of course) and the dogs were allowed to sleep in the (very well) sheltered basement.

All this for $10 per dog per day! Sounds fantastic doesn't it?

Noon and I are happy to say that the arrangement lived up to our expectations, and more! Sam and Rosie were never confined to cages, they got to play to their hearts' content, they had constant human company and Rosie got to jump in for a swim in the family pool!

The feedback we got from Joanne and Mark when we went to pick up our kids was that they had been very well behaved throughout. They told us the kids were never jumped on; Molly, Jazz, Sam and Rosie all got on very well (Rosie and Molly in particular), and that Sam and Rosie did not end up destroying anything around the house. Not sure if any holes were dug though... I imagine there would have been at least some...

And you know what the most important thing was? Sam and Rosie both looked extremely happy to be there! Check out the following pictures to see for yourself!

I'm sorry I didn't take too many photos, would have like one with Joanne and Mark and their kids (and dogs). But suffice to say that this will not be the last time Sam and Rosie stay over with them.

And Mark, if you're reading this, you were right. Sam and Rosie were exhausted when they got home with us! The couple of days of playing with Jazz and Molly tired them out so much they slept for the entire day! :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Back to Thailand

Apologies first of all, for not having updated the blog in the past week and a half. I was away at a training course all last week and had no chance to write and post anything. Was back at work on Monday and had a heck of a time then and the day after just catching up on jobs and meetings I had missed in the previous week.

And if that's not enough, I'm scheduled to take a server systems certification exam tomorrow morning! So it's another trip on the train up to Sydney again. Finally, to top it all off, I've got a very important calendar entry for Friday morning. *Sigh* Hopefully things will calm down once I hit the weekend.

For now, I thought I might post an entry from my old photo archives. This one comes from two years ago, back in 2003. In December of that year, my parents and I made arrangements to visit Noon's family in Thailand to discuss our (then) impending marriage. Noon was with us as we traveled through Bangkok and up to her hometown of Udonthani.

We visited the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace first, was a pretty big place but we managed to hire a golf cart to drive around the compound instead of having to walk. Have to mention here that Noon's parallel parking abilities here were somewhat... *ahem, edited*

Next stop was the Ayutthaya ruins. It was rather hot in the sun that day so we didn't spend all that much time wandering around. Still, it was a nice place to visit and, for me, interesting to absorb the historical significance of the city.

We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant situated by the riverside, and let Noon do the ordering for us. She got us a green curry chicken dish with fermented noodles, and a crispy pork knuckle that was tender and moist on the inside. It's great when you have a local guide who not only speaks the language but also knows what to order!

After our trip, we returned to Bangkok where we met up with our good friends Off and Nid. We got to know them while they were here in Australia, and they have since returned to Thailand upon completion of the University studies. They brought us to a great Thai restaurant in Siam Square.

Here are just some of the dishes we ordered. Lots of vegetables, and fish, and prawns, and meat... Turned out the be a great big feast of traditional Thai food! Yum!!

And at the end of the meal, the delicate desserts Thailand is so famous for! Those little treats looked almost too good to eat!

From Bangkok, we made our way up to Udonthani where Noon's family live. Believe it or not, the have elephants walking past the front of the house every evening with their handlers. The handlers would have combs of bananas or sticks of sugar cane for sale. One would purchase these bananas or sugar canes and feed them to the elephant. I personally believe this is a great thing to do, seeing as the animals have lost their homes due to human encroachment into their natural habitat and have had to resort to other means for survival. And one cannot truly expect the handlers to be able to offer their charges a home and at the same time afford to pay for its food all by themselves. Dad was immensely taken by the elephant as it walked by.

The evening we got into town, Noon's family brought us out for dinner by the lakeside. Yummy food all over again :) That's Noon's sister and grandmother in the photo on the right.

As I said before, the purpose of this trip was so that our respective families could meet to discuss arrangements for our marriage. So, after dinner, we proceeded back to the family home. Noon and her brother had to translate because they were the only ones there who could speak both English and Thai. All in all, the discussions went smoothly.

The following morning, Noon brought us to the local markets where we browsed around and picked up some food for breakfast. There were grilled and fried meats, fried dough (great with the local coffee!), packaged sticky rice or noodle packs, and barbecued fish and chillies.

One thing you don't want to be at the market is pig-headed... you might end up on the chopping block!

I mentioned before that Noon's grandmother is over 80 years of age, and still runs a tobacco stall at the market every morning. Well, here's the proof!

We were treated to a Vietnamese lunch that day, after which my Mum and Dad caught a flight home to Malaysia. I stayed on with Noon for a few more days, before catching a flight back to Australia.