Friday, April 28, 2006

We're alive!!

It’s been a while since I last updated this blog, more than a month, actually. Probably lost quite a few readers, can’t blame anyone but myself – most would have thought that this blog had died off like so many others.

But… I’m here to tell you that it hasn’t!! :)

So! What’s been happening with us? Well quite a bit and not a lot, actually! There’s been lots to do at work for me, am settled in quite well by now and getting along with my new colleagues – they’re a great bunch, am learning heaps but still able to contribute in some areas, and will soon be starting on some of the bigger projects. Work-related business dominates my time these days, but I mean this in a good way. My stress levels are down, I’m eating more and no longer losing weight like I was last year.

Noon’s started on her thesis. Her paper’s on the subject of Mass Spectrometry (I think) and she’s working hard to have it completed by August. The kind of stuff she writes about is way over my head, but I try to help out where I can – this involves providing her with a properly set up computer and instant IT support when any problems arise, occasionally cooking our meals, cleaning the house and generally taking care of any household chores that need doing when she’s busy. She gets rather stressed at times, but it’s in her character to perform well under pressure so I’m not too worried.

Sam and Rosie are well. Rosie’s still her usual playful self, she grabs her toy every time she sees us coming out into the backyard hoping we will play fetch with her. About a month ago, Noon noticed that Rosie had broken her lower left canine tooth. Snapped it clean off! We’ve caught her in the past digging up rocks and chewing on them, must have been munching on something really hard to break it. We brought her to the vet to have it looked at and the vet was shocked at how she could have broken such a strong tooth. Fortunately there was no infection, and the point in which the break occurred was just above the nerve canal. For now, if the enamel doesn’t wear down any further, she should not be in pain. Rosie does have a lop-sided bite now, when she carries her toy in her mouth it hangs off the right side where she’s got her unbroken teeth.

Sam’s just his usual self, had a case of ear mites a couple of months ago and we had to use eardrops to clear it out. Nothing major there except for the fact that we initially tried a new brand of the stuff and found after two weeks that it wasn’t having any effect. Switched back to the old brand and it worked a treat.

Hmmm…. What else?

Oh yes, Noon and I have booked a holiday in September. Noon’s got a conference to attend in Prague in late August, after which we will meet up in London for a few days. Will be staying with my sister while we’re in London. Then we’re off for a 12-day tour of Europe with Trafalgar Tours. The tour will conclude back in London and from there we’ll fly off to Thailand for a week in Noon’s hometown of Udonthani. And since we’re already in Thailand, we’ve decided to have another couple of nights in Phuket before coming back to Australia. Have five weeks of annual leave booked for this trip, can’t wait!!

Sam and Rosie will be staying at Mark and Joanne’s again for the time we’re away, and I’m sure they will be well looked-after. Would have loved to have been able to bring them along though :)

Well, that’s it for now. Until next time, take care all of you!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cooking for the troops

For the past week, I’d taken to having my lunch at my desk at work. First it was spaghetti and meatballs, homecooked of course, and then the next day it was eggplant from our garden braised in sweet soy and also stirfried with mince, chillies and basil on steamed rice. Was rather inconsiderate of me, I think… the aroma permeated the air and got a few of my colleagues sniffing around. One even asked if I would take orders for Noon to cook some extra to bring in for her :)

I passed on the compliment to Noon, and we both decided that we’d take time out on the weekend to cook something up for my colleagues at work… to make up for the past week. Decided on Hokkien Noodles Noon-style!

First, 6 eggs in the wok scrambled lightly with soy seasoning and ground black pepper. Once cooked, set aside.

That’s Noon hard at work… and Sam and Rosie supervising.

We like putting lots of stuff into our noodles – seafood extender, fish balls, eggs and honey soy marinated chicken thigh pieces (works better than chicken breast because it’s more succulent and lends itself better to stirfrying).

Let’s not forget shiitake mushrooms and garlic. The shot on the right shows the sauces that Noon uses to season the noodles (not including the big tin of olive oil at the back – that’s not used for this particular dish).

So, after the eggs are cooked and removed from the pan, in goes the sliced onions. Season with a little bit of salt and let it sweat for a little bit before adding the finely chopped garlic. Adding the garlic too early will cause it to brown and possibly even burn.

Next, the marinated chicken pieces get added and left to cook through. We did this on high heat to let the meat sear and the sauce caramelise.

When the chicken is just about done, in go the shiitake mushrooms.

Left to cook for a little bit, the whole mixture reaches a darker colour. When this happens, it’s ready for the noodles.

And here are the noodles! In they go, along with all the sauces from before. Mixing it all up was a rather frenzied affair, Noon worked really quickly while I did the mixing for her. If I remember correctly, there was chilli sauce, fish sauce, dried chilli flakes, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and ground black pepper.

The final product! All in all we cooked 3kgs of noodles, filled up an entire lobster pot of it, ready to bring in to work with me tomorrow morning. Noon held back on the chilli sauce and dried chilli flakes for this batch, she and I normally prefer ours a fair bit spicier. And so we cooked a separate batch for ourselves (and Alex – who said he was up to the challenge).

Took us slightly over an hour to prepare and cook the entire batch of noodles, 3kgs worth of the non-spicy variety, and a further 1kg of the hot stuff for ourselves. 4kgs of noodles, with lotsa meat, fish balls, and seafood extender – cooked in 3 woks. Yum! Hope it goes down well tomorrow. If my colleagues at work like it they might even post their comments :)

Friday, February 24, 2006


Title says it all.

Let sleeping dogs lie, eh? Nothing wrong with taking pictures of them while they're at it :)

Friday, February 17, 2006


Sam and Rosie got squirted on their faces!

A few days ago, Noon and I came home early from work to take Sam and Rosie out to the park for a walk. We hadn't done that in a while and felt that we were neglecting their exercise (especially when they've been eating burgers and cake and ice-cream!).

So off we went, Noon had Rosie on leash while I had Sam. We brought along Rosie's favourite squeaky toy as well - one of those balls with a whistle-like hole that squeaks loudly when squeezed. Rosie loves nothing better than playing fetch with it, especially in the park where we can throw it as far as it would go and she'll rush headlong to catch it, squeaking all the way back.

We were in the middle of doing just that when this burly, bare-chested guy came into the park with his rottweiler in tow.

Sam and Rosie caught sight of them, and as always when they see another dog, they bolted and rushed over to have a sniff and hopefully to play.

Guess what happened when they got there? Mr I-am-so-macho-
baulked, and his rottweiler cowered. I was already off to get Sam and Rosie back on leash but quite obviously could not match them for speed. Before I managed to get to them, Mr Macho was squirting Sam and Rosie in their faces with his drink bottle in an attempt to get them away from him and his dog. It was a hot day so Sam and Rosie happily lapped up the water, it didn't prove a deterrent to them in any way.

I finally got there and got Sam to sit while I slipped his leash back on, and Noon was doing the same with Rosie. Mr Macho walked past and said snidely, "No need to apologise, just keeping being rude!" Took me by surprise... of course I was going to apologise, especially seeing how Sam and Rosie caused the guy so much distress. But I thought the first priority was to get our dogs away from him. Not like he or his dog were in any danger, Sam's tail was wagging so much it looked like it was about to fall off and Rosie was squeaking her toy the entire time!

Anyway, I did apologise and asked him nicely if he wanted to let his dog off to play with ours, reassuring him that ours were only playful and not aggressive in anyway. His response: "No, my dog doesn't play well with others". Well no wonder, I thought to myself, with an owner as anti-social as that!

I really don't get it. Here's this guy who was obviously trying to act macho, and who was quite burly I thought, walking a rottweiler. And he was afraid of labradors? Even one with a squeaky toy in its mouth? Can you see anything wrong with this??

Noon was quite upset at the whole incident, and I can understand. There was no need for sarcasm from Mr Macho, even if we were wrong to let Sam and Rosie off in a park that wasn’t a designated off-leash area. Funnily enough, we’ve even encountered such anti-social behaviour even at designated off-leash areas! Although to be fair, we’ve met many more dog owners who are happy to let their dogs romp around with ours at such places. People like Mr Macho are in the minority, I’m happy to say.

Anyway, here are some photos of them that we took before we cleaned up their faces…

Rosie with her favourite squeaky toy...

...and Sammy with his face all wet

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Doggie burgers

Noon and I had Burger King for lunch the other day. Didn't want Sam and Rosie to miss out so we got them a double Whopper with cheese after we'd finished.

Told the guys behind the counter to hold the onions, of course. Onions are bad for dogs, causes their red blood cells to burst while circulating in the body. Also, chocolate is toxic too, causes the heart to beat irregularly. Death could occur within 24 hours following an overdose of chocolate.

For more information on foods that are toxic to dogs (and pets in general), check out this website.

Anyway, here they are waiting patiently for their burgers (sans onions).

It was their first burger ever, and Sam didn't quite know what to do with it. Waiting for Rosie to go first is always handy, and after he'd seen her scoffing her half he decided to have a go himself.

They both seemed to like it, came around sniffing for more after they'd both finished with their halves. Incidentally, I'd wanted to get them one burger each... but Noon had other ideas. Mommy didn't want her kids getting fat on junk food :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vegie garden - part 2

I did say I was going to post updated pics of the vegie patch, well here they are. These were taken just a few weeks after the original ones from the previous post. Noon and I kept watering them throughout the hot weeks at the start and the result was they flourished, as you can see.

Here's the little plot with its lettuce, sweet peppers, basil and tomatoes. Couldn't believe how much they'd grown in just a couple of weeks! Noon and I were having leafy salads constantly and it didn't even seem to make a dent in the patch.

From left: mint, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Found some caterpillars in the mint and quite a few bugs in the cherry tomato plants, but we had decided not to use pesticides anyway - trying to keep everything clean and organic. Ended up picking through the plants to remove pests by hand.

The snowpeas had finished fruiting by then, and were withering away. So we pulled them off the lattice and put in some cucumber plants instead.

Our two kids keep us company while we work in the vegie garden. They're allowed in under supervision, and so far have not trampled over any of the plants. They quite often get in the way though... Sam tends to like sitting and leaning against our legs when we're weeding or picking off bugs, while Rosie keeps nudging at us with her toy in her mouth wanting to play fetch.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Our little vegie garden

One of the major selling points of our home when we bought it was that it had a nice spacious backyard. I'd wanted to have dogs so space for them to run was important, and Noon had always wanted to have her own little vegie patch. As it turned out, though the house itself was small with only two bedrooms (more than sufficient for our needs) it had a large backyard that could accommodate both Sam and Rosie as well as a sectioned-off area for planting.

We dug up a 3m by 1m patch of ground and put in a frame of treated pine sleepers, cleared it of grass and weeds and filled it with a mixture of compost, manure and garden soil. After leaving it for a week for the soil to settle, Noon planted tomatoes, basil, eggplants, sweet peppers and lettuce.

Here are closeups of the little plants after we'd put them in. Sugar cane mulch was applied to keep the soil moist on dry days. Picture on the left shows the lettuce varieties, sweet peppers and eggplants. The right one shows the tomatoes, basil and more eggplants.

We also had some pre-existing plots along the side, in these we'd put in more basil and cherry tomato plants (in the foreground), and parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme and coriander (in the left corner background). There's also a chilli treeling in there but you can't see it coz the top edge of the photos cuts it off.

Here we have some garlic shoots just breaking out of the topsoil, with chives, lemongrass and galangal in the background.

And finally some of our snowpeas cimbing up the lattice we leaned up against the fence.

These photos were taken during the Christmas holidays. The plants have grown heaps since then, I'll have recent pics of them in the next post so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My new workplace

Late in the afternoon now, past the 5pm knock-off time and I'm still sitting here at my desk. Since I have my camera with me, I thought I might take some pictures to put into a post.

My little cubicle with its 3 LCD screens; one of which is part of the server infrstructure that I manage (leftmost in the pic), one of which is part of the desktop computer I am provided with, and finally one that I purchased from Dell myself just so I could have a dual-screen setup on my main computer.

Here's a closer pic of my main computer with its screens. They're both 19" Dell Ultrasharps and actually look much nicer than in the photo. I'm rather fussy about my interface devices, hence the dual-screens, ergonomic keyboard, and basic optical mouse.

I hold the position of Systems Administrator, one of a team of 4 who focus on Windows Server systems. Having said that, there are still a number of Unix systems currently under my management running Solaris and Debian. On my desktop computer I have Suse Linux installed as a virtual machine under VMWare. Keeps things interesting, don't you think? :) This is what my desktop looks like typically... *ahem* there's usually quite a few more apps open, it's just that it's getting late in the evening and I'm already off the clock now.

Time for me to head home! The wife's just called and I've got to meet her at the car.

I'll bet Sam and Rosie are getting hungry too....

New watch!

This was Noon's Christmas present! She actually got to open it early :)

I hope you've all had a good year-end break and a happy New Year. As for Noon, Sam, Rosie and myself, we spent our time mostly relaxing around the house. Had deliberately planned to keep everything nice and quiet, with trips to the park and the beach for the dogs. Was very restful, I think.

Am settling into my new job here. Surprised that I'm actually enjoying the days at work! Must be the new challenges and the friendly environment :)