Thursday, September 29, 2005

We love to eat :)

Let's be frank... some people eat to live; Noon and I, we live to eat!

Our weekly expenses are spent not on shopping sprees, no not even at periodic 'sales times', instead we find that we spend our money on food and groceries. We do tend to eat out from time to time, even making the occasional 1 1/2 hour trip up to Sydney just for food alone.

However, doing so on a frequent and regular basis would break the bank for us. So instead we try to cook up special meals at home on the weekends. Some recipes taken from cookbooks, some from television cooking shows, and some from friends and family.

Here are some pics of some of the things we've cooked and had for dinner in the past month or so.

First up, we had a barbeque spread from when my Mum and Dad came to visit back in July. On the menu were swordfish steaks, beef fillet steaks, honey soy chicken wings, lamb chops, sausages, grilled vegetables (zucchini, capsicum, and mushrooms) and a fresh leaf salad.
I'd thought that we had plenty of food, and there'd be some leftovers for Sam and Rosie (with the cooked bones removed, of course), but Dad had other ideas... nothing was left in the end.

During Mum and Dad's visit, we also decided to make sushi for dinner one night. Had an assortment of different fillings for the rolls in the pictures, from salmon to unagi to prawns, with combinations of Japanese mayonnaise, rocket, snowpea sprouts, alfalfa, cucumber and salmon roe.

If anyone's interested in specific combinations that we have found go well together, feel free to leave a message in the comments section and I'll get back to you via email.

Then a couple of weeks later, Noon and I had a craving for duck! And this is what we came up with... Spiced duck breast on a bed of roasted potatoes, onions and carrots, with steamed broccolini. The sauce was made from crushed garlic, red wine, stock, cranberry sauce and a dash of vinegar.

This next one's a simple salmon steak dish. Mildly seasoned with sea salt and crushed black pepper, panfried for a crisp skin and then quickly sealed on high heat to preserve an inside that was still moist (Noon and I love raw salmon sushi, hence we didn't want to overcook this dish). The sauce was made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers and parsley.

Noon and I are Asian, both of us are Chinese, she being from Thailand and myself from Malaysia. And while we do cook a lot of Asian cuisine, we also believe in not limiting ourselves that one particular kind of food or cooking style. Overall, I think we've had a very good run where experiences are concerned, and we're constantly on the lookout for different foods to try.

And Andrew, if you're reading this, hurry up and finish with whatever it is you're doing; we want to organise another food trip up to where you are in Sydney. Want to catch up and go try out all those eats you've been telling us about!

P.S. - Sam and Rosie said to say "Hello" :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

One more from the archives...

Here's another email that I sent out in March of this year. It was actually a follow-up to the original email of Rosie's first night at home.

Noon and I have observed some very surprising things with the two dogs right from the beginning. Firstly, they don't fight over food! We thought we had to be extra careful when it came to feeding time, had to make sure Sam's bowl was put down first and then Rosie's to follow at a distance. What happened was we put Sam's bowl down, Rosie slipped out of our grasp and ran over. Sam was still sitting there waiting for the 'okay' command to allow him to eat, and here Rosie was sticking her nose into his bowl. No growling from Sam, no getting up, nothing! He just sat there looking at Rosie and then at us. We quickly let him go, pulled Rosie away and then directed her to her bowl. After a while, Rosie wandered over to Sam again and they both happily ate out of his bowl!! Again, no growling or fighting, just two dogs with their noses in the food. So back and forth they went, Sam finished her food while she was still eating his, and him wandering back and sticking his head in with Rosie's!

The other thing was that they don't gulp their food, Sam actually chews now!! And Rosie too. When we first got Sam home, he practically INHALED his food! Now instead of rushing since there's competition, they both actually take their time at eating!
Another strange thing - Sam seems to be learning from Rosie. Bad habits, to be sure, but he's learning all the same. She's already taught him to destroy one of the plants. Sam's never touched it before, especially after we growled at him for chewing on the leaves, but now you can often catch them both chewing on the bare branches of the little bush.

Sam like bounding around in the backyard, especially when we're playing fetch with his toys. When Rosie tries to join in she often gets bowled over when Sam barrels into her at full speed. The yapping, growling, teeth baring and biting then comes in... Sam gets excited (and clumsy) and in the end, Rosie has to retreat (yapping all the way) to her safe-place: under the steps!! Sam's too big to fit under these steps now, so Rosie's worked out that she has sanctuary here.

There was one occasion two nights ago, however, that I went outside to see what Rosie was yapping on about, to find Sam stuck in the gap under the steps! He'd somehow managed to wriggle himself in but could not get back out. Rosie was indignant that he was in her private spot and was sitting just outside the opening yapping away at him! I cracked up, I really did!!

Rosie's using that spot less and less now. She's got no problems bounding up the steps (Sam was too intimidated to try for almost 2 weeks after we brought him home). She sleeps up on the deck, Sam leaves her alone when she's asleep, and they seem to play quietly when we leave them alone.

I think Sam's got the idea now that she has to be a bit more gentle with her when he grabs her ears or head between his jaws. They seem to be getting along much better now too.

Woke up this morning to find them in bed together again with Sam trying to pull her ear while she had his cheek in her mouth.
Sam weighs 20kgs at the moment, and Rosie's just 4kgs. Big discrepancy there, but that should even up soon :)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rosie's first night at home

This post has been taken from my email archives, was originally sent out to family and friends in early March of this year. I'd written quite a bit in that email, and thought I might save myself some trouble by using it here.

- Just to repeat, this was an email sent out in early March 'o5 -

Well, Rosie's been with Noon and me for the better part of a week now, we brought her home last Friday on the 4th. She was 6 and a half weeks old at the time and much smaller than Sam was when we brought him home at 8 weeks. Rosie's much lighter in colour than Sam, perhaps the colour and shade that most people would associate Labradors with. Sam's family line had only black and chocolate labs though, so that's got to have something to do with his darker colouring. Rosie's mother and father on the other hand were both golden yellow coloured.

Before we brought Rosie home, she was already demonstrating that she was one of the more (most?) dominant pups in the litter, though not the largest by a long shot. She'd be the one to run up to the other pups and wrestle them to the ground when they were playing.

Rosie seemed docile enough when we were bringing her home in the car. We only managed to pick her up at 7.30pm in the evening. Got home, put her on the ground, and let Sam make his own way over to say hello. Sam was wary at first, but then went into overdrive - pushing Rosie around, trying to get his muzzle over her head and pushing her over with his paws... just the usual dominance assertion behaviour.

Rosie seemed to put up with this for a while, but lo-and-behold, she soon got tired of it and started dishing out some of her own instead!! Teeth bared, growling, yapping, and even biting Sam on his cheeks while he's got a hold on her ear! The noise was terrible, but I must say that at no point did Sam ever look threatening. His hackles were not raised, he wasn't growling or baring his teeth in an aggressive manner. If anything, I'd say he was wanting to play (albeit too roughly for a puppy so much smaller than he is).

Rosie tried hiding under our outdoor dining suite and even under Sam's hammock bed. Sam's now big enough and strong enough to shift these items by walking into them, so you can imagine the noise this was making. We tried leaving the two of them alone so they could sort out the whole dominance thing, but that didn't quite work out because Rosie's too strong-willed to give in, and Sam's too lenient on her.

Anyway, after much noise-making and furniture-shifting, they both finally grew tired and went to sleep. That was at 11pm and Noon and I went to bed at 11.30. Next thing I knew, I was woken up by a commotion going on outside. I came out to look, and they were at it again. Time was 12.30am. Hushed them up, crawled back into bed. Dozed off... commotion again at 1.30am. Cat napped after that... commotion at 3.30am. Snapped at them through the window and got Sam's attention. Went back to bed... Got woken up again at 5.45am. Same deal, quietened them down and tried to sleep again. Finally got up at 7.30am and decided that it was too eerily quiet so I went out to take a look.

And guess what? The two of them were in the sling bed together!!! Imagine my shock! Anyway, I *had* to get a picture of this (otherwise I wouldn't have believed it myself) but didn't want to go outside in case I woke them.

The picture was taken from inside of the house,
with the window closed and the flyscreen in the way.
Still, it didn't come out too bad!

Seriously, I just could not believe my eyes. The night before was so riotous and chaotic we weren't sure if the two dogs would get along. We were even wondering if it was a good idea leaving the little puppy alone with Sam on their very first night together.

...And then just look at them in bed together on the very first morning! Brought a tear to my eye :)

The furniture outside on the deck were a mess. Chairs had been pushed all over the place, water bowls spilled, even the big heavy table had been shifted. Was afraid all that noise during the night might have disturbed our neighbours, and the only respite we had were when they tired themselves out long enough to fall asleep.

Then they woke up and were back at it again!

Throughout the course of the weekend, we observed them playing together and even sharing toys.

It rained on Sunday, so we let them come inside to sleep. The standing rule is "No Playing Inside The House", and Sam seemed to get the idea after we told him off firmly. He's a smart boy, that one... when he wants to be...

Ever since that first morning, Sam and Rosie have curled up to sleep together every single night. Noon and I might put them to bed separately in their own hammocks, and even tucked them in with their own blankets, but in the morning they'd be snuggled up together again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Little Puppy Rosie

Around about January of this year, I was looking for a companion for little Sammy. Noon wasn't so sure about getting a second pup so soon after bringing Sam home, and indeed he had been a handful during that time too. Plus we'd been advised that it would be better to wait a little while before we added another dog to our family.

Still, I decided to go ahead anyway and started browsing advertisements on the net and in the papers. Call me stubborn and compulsive - I don't mind... always have been :)

Had originally wanted a beagle for a second dog; how could you resist those droopy eyes and floppy ears? Called around a few local breeders as well as the state's beagle club. Straight off I was told how hard it was to own/train a dog of this breed and despite the fact that I was prepared to put in the effort, I found the tone of these conversations very dissuading, which was a surprise.

Then a colleague of mine at work mentioned that her daughter's lab had just had a litter of 10 pups, all of which would be for sale. Noon and I talked it over and decided that since it was so much trouble getting a beagle, and since we were both so happy with Sam, getting a second labrador puppy might be a better move.

So off we went to visit the newborn pups, and since we were the very first in, we got first pick of the litter :)

Here's what we saw in the whelping box. Which one would you pick?

We couldn't really decide ourselves... they were all so tiny and cute. The one that Noon picked up literally fit into the palm of her hand - that's how small it was, at just a week old.

All the while, Bella, the pups' mum looked on, occasionally sniffing us as if to say "Be careful with my pup up there". She's a lovely dog, Bella, with a very friendly disposition and no aggression whatsoever.
Over the next couple of weeks, we went back to visit several times more and managed to pick one out of the litter that we liked. Here's how we made the choice:
  • Little Sammy was a rather darker shade of yellow... so we wanted a pup with a lighter coat.
  • Little Sammy seemed to frown a lot... so we wanted a pup that had a happier look on its face.
  • Little Sammy was a boy... so we wanted him to have a little sister to grow up with.
With that in mind, we ended up with.... Rosie!!

Once when we went to visit, the puppies were still asleep and had to be woken up for their meals.

At 6 weeks of age, the pups were ready to be sent home with their new owners. Noon and I picked Rosie up on a Friday evening after coming home from work. That first night at home was quite an adventure, let me tell you!

But that's a story for another blog entry :) That's coming up soon, I promise!

Gonna leave you all now with a few more pics of Rosie romping around with her littermates just before we brought her home.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Funnies 19/09/05

Received some funny pics in my mailbox this morning, thought I might share them with everyone.

First one was sent in by Dad, entitled
"You know you're diving too fast when..."

This next one was sent in by Nathan.

If anyone has anymore amusing/funny pics, feel free to send them in. All contributions are welcome!
Hope you've all had a good weekend. I'd been away sick from work for 3 days in the past week, and there had just been so much to catch up on once I got back. With any luck things will be back to normal this week (I'm no longer coughing my lungs out) and I can finally put up the post on Rosie I'd been meaning to since last week.

A big thank you to those people who had commented on the previous posts, and also to Chase who's posted pics of her beagle x blue tick pups - go check out her little guys here.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Give a dog a bone

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently. I've been off sick with the flu and Noon's been busy with work.

Noon bought a couple of marrowbones from our local butcher yesterday. I'm back at work again today and the dogs have been left alone at home, so we thought it was a good time to give them the bones to keep them busy. Check out the size of the thing! It's been halved down the middle to expose the marrow inside, and I decided to hold it up just give a sense of how big it is.

Both of them were made to wait for permission before we let them loose on the bones. We believe in using food time for reinforcing the "sit-stay" command every day. Most times Sam's salivating so badly while he's sitting there that we don't have the heart to keep them waiting for too long.

More pics of the two of them sitting patiently, Sam with his usual houndog face.

And finally getting stuck into it! Yummy!

Not bad for $1 eh? That's what it cost Noon to get the marrowbone... the last time I went in there, I got charged $2 per bone!

Noon's MUCH better looking than I am :)