Mum’s Home Cooked Food is ALWAYS the Best!

By Ling

Having my Mum here in the latter stages of pregnancy has been a godsend.  As you may remember, I had a crazy and hectic but fun maternity leave for 2 weeks but since I blogged about that, everything went tits up and I physically could not manage to keep all my social appointments :(  It kinda sucks but it’s my body telling me to slow down and rest because there won’t be any of that with a newborn!  Anyway, my Mum has been pampering me with the BEST home cooked food EVERRRRRR!  It’s simple plain Chinese cooking but there’s just something so comforting about my Mum’s cooking…and I know she has prepared and cooked the food with love.  I feel truly blessed!  #ilovemymum

So naturally, I wanted to showcase my Mum’s amazing home cooked food…except I realised that I’ve been gulping down the food more often than bringing out my camera to take photos.  Oopsie.  I’ve only got 3 photos here but oh well…  Have a look and drool…

chicken chow mein, chicken veg stir fry noodles, chicken noodles, stir fry

This was a yummy chicken and vegetables stir fried noodles (chicken chow mein).  My Mum painstakingly finely chopped all the julienned carrots and vegetables – how on earth did she get them so thin?  I said to her that she could have used the food processor to whizz it down in seconds but then she replied it wouldn’t have been made with love…  As for the pan in the picture, she actually bought me a few new pans from Scotland and brought them all the way to Melbourne!!  Even though I can easily buy cookware in Melbourne, it warms my heart to know she bought things over in Scotland just for me…means she’s thinking of me!  #ilovemymum

roast pork, roast pork crackling

This is Chinese roast pork with crackling (siew yoke) – like ZOMG!!!  It was AMAZING!!!  The meat was flavoured perfectly with Chinese five-spice and whatever herbs and it wasn’t fatty plus the crackling was beautifully crunchy.  I want to eat this again!  Mum, are you reading this??!!  She took 2 days to prep the meat…  I will watch her like a hawk next time and get the recipe so I can replicate this so that my child(ren) can enjoy MY home cooked food :)

ginger sweet soup, sweet potato soup

I had a Princess moment one night after dinner.  My Mum’s eyelids were growing heavy due to jet lag but I snapped her out of it by DEMANDING she make me Chinese sweet soup (tong sui) dessert.  Those unfamiliar with Chinese desserts will not like this concoction.  It is sweet potato ginger sweet soup with peanut butter glutinous rice balls (tong yune) served hot.  A lot of love is required to make this sweet soup and to get the ginger and sweet balance just right.  Plus the dough for the glutinous rice balls and to incorporate the peanut butter (Skippy Crunchy from Costco if you were wondering) filling.  It was delish!

Okay, I am not an uber diva daughter with pregnancy Princess moments because I have also been catering to my Mum’s needs too.  She LOVES carrot cake so I made her the Bourke Street Bakery version and she devoured HALF THE CAKE within 24 hours!  I baked another one yesterday with a different recipe but she (and Hubby) didn’t like it as much so I guess the BSB carrot cake will be the signature one I make from now on :)

best carrot cake

Costco Ringwood Opened On The Same Day My Mum Arrived In Melbourne

By Ling

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco

Remember this crazy woman aka my Mum?  Yeah well, she’s back in Melbourne!  Let the #mommainoz adventures begin!

With around 4 weeks to go for the impending arrival of bubs, my Mum flew into Melbourne from Glasgow (city in Scotland) to take care of me before, during and after birth.  (Okay, after birth, all the attention will be taken away from me so I better enjoy it while I can :P)  The night before she flew, I specifically reminded her to bring TWO important items to Melbourne :-

1.  ”Bring your Driver’s Licence so you can drive me to my weekly hospital appointments and in case my waters break and the Husband is at work.”

  • Guess what?  She did NOT bring it!  Initially, her lame excuse was, “I’m too scared to drive in Australia!”  Everyone who knows my Mum knows that is TOTAL BS because she has basically chauffeured me and my 6 siblings around Scotland for years…in a 9 seater van – and she is FEARLESS!!  The REAL TRUTH is that she didn’t know where she put her licence!!!  *ahem* And that explains why I NEVER know where my passport / important documents are and go into panic mode – I INHERITED IT FROM HER!!!

2.  ”Bring your Costco card because Costco is opening up in Ringwood, a suburb near me.  We can save 3 months membership by using your card as Costco cards are international.”

  • Guess what?  We spent half an hour looking through her TEN TONS OF LUGGAGE for her Costco card.  ”Nope.  Can’t find it.  I totally blame Mrs Chow.  I TOLD HER to pack my Costco card but she forgot.  Don’t worry, I will yell at her FOR YOU!”  ”Mum, I TOLD YOU to pack it.  You should not get your friends to pack your bags!!”  ”I told Mrs Chow!  Don’t worry, I’m going to KILL HER for you!’ – she joked.  Five seconds later, “FOUND OUT!  See, I knew Mrs Chow would do the right thing!”  *rolls eyes*

And with that, we went off to the Costco Ringwood opening day…

We got there before 10am, but the car park was already busy.  Finding a place to park was slightly more difficult without those red / green light aids.  I also didn’t spot any Parent Priority Parking spots so it may prove difficult when bubs arrives…

Costco is relatively new to Melbourne (even though there is another one in Docklands) but back in Scotland, we’ve had Costco for 10 years (I think) and coming from a big family, the bulk buying was totally worth it and we went there almost every week to shop and eat at the cafe.  Mum and I both thought the layout was quite similar to the one we have in Glasgow and for a moment, I was hit with nostalgia as it brought me back to my younger years…

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco, costco cafe

For all those unfamiliar with Costco, you can only enter Costco with :-

1.  A Costco membership card.  You cannot just go in and browse.  There is an annual fee for the card and in Australia, it is $60.  Two people in the same household can use that card and they will take a photo of you so you can’t even pass it to a friend to use.

2.  Or alternatively, you can go in with a friend who has a Costco card.  With a Costco card, you can bring along two friends.  BUT ONLY THE COSTCO MEMBER CAN BUY THINGS!

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco

Costco Ringwood were VERY STRICT because when we went to pay for our Costco shopping haul, the cashier said that they couldn’t accept my Husband’s credit card and that MY MUM had to pay since she was the Costco member.  ”Only the Costco member can purchase things in here.  No-one else can pay for this!”

I was like – “WTF?  That’s dumb!  She just arrived today from Scotland and does not have any Australian money on her!  I am her daughter and he is my husband.  That is RIDICULOUS!”  (I don’t usually have outbursts like that but it must be my pregnancy hormones or something which made me get angry…!  Oops!)

Not knowing what to say, the cashier called over some floor manager dude.  And he was like – “OH!  Let me just check with HQ.”

Meanwhile, I was still ranting and raving at the checkout to my Mum (but secretly yelling at the checkout girl even though it’s not her who makes up the rules).  ”So if we have cash, does it mean that you would have to PERSONALLY hand it over to pay.  Or can I touch the cash?  That’s just DUMB DUMB DUMB!  Why is Australia so stupid and strict??  It doesn’t even make sense!!  As long as someone is willing to pay, right?”

Floor manager dude returns and says it is okay this time under special circumstances.

So yeah, if you saw a Chinese preggo chick causing a scene at Costco Ringwood at the checkout on the opening day, it was ME!  But I blame my preggo hormones.  I am usually a shy, sweet-smiling kinda gal!

Apart from that unfortunate incident, I am still a big advocate of Costco.  Coming from America, Costco obviously features a lot of US brands and Costco’s own brand, Kirkland Signature…but I think it’s great that they have locally sourced Australian goods too.  I have been encouraging all my friends and colleagues to become a Costco member and that the $60 annual membership is totally worth it!  But seeing as some people have never been inside Costco, I decided to take some photos to show whoever is interested in what you can buy in Costco.

Things You Can Buy In Costco

1.  Electrical goods including TVs, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, speakers

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco

  • Photo shows the Samsung 75″ LED Smart TV at $6999.99 – is it cheaper in shops such as JB Hi Fi?  I don’t know!  I know you can bargain at JB Hi Fi though…  However, I know refunds are SUPER EASY in Scotland (not too sure about anal Australian rules) and I have previously refunded an iPod Touch with no receipt and my Mum returned a TV she bought a few years ago (with no box / packaging / receipt) which suddenly stopped working and there were no questions asked as they have a fantastic refund / warranty policy.  Best to check Australian guidelines anyway.

2.  Supersized items from teddy bears to food and condiments

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco, 5kg nutella, 5kg dairy milk

  • Even if you don’t buy these supersized items, it makes a great photo prop :P

3.  Freshly baked goodies including croissants, danish pastries, cakes, bagels, muffins

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco, costco bakery

  • I am ABSOLUTELY gutted though because I love Costco danish pastries in Scotland and I can eat SO MANY in one sitting…but the ones in Australia have custard in the pastry crusts and that’s a BIG no no for lactose-intolerant-dairy-hating me.  GAHHHH!!!  (Yes, I HATE custard and cheese and milk!)

4.  Big food platters including sandwiches, buffalo wings, prawns, salads

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco, costco deli section

  • Perfect for all occasions including barbecues, staff meetings, house parties – saves you doing all the hard work!!

5.  Fresh seafood

  • Now that’s something new we haven’t got in Scotland so it was interesting for us to see a Fresh Seafood section in the middle of the food department

6.  Rotisserie with roast chicken, chicken wings and ribs

  • I am not usually a big fan of rotisserie chickens because I think I can make a better roast…but Costco roast chickens are YUMMYBALLS!!  And only cost $7.99 (if memory serves me right)

7.  Fish and meat

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco, seafood in costco, meat in costco

  • We bought the big salmon fillet and short rib beef for dinner that night and it was DELICIOUS – but it may be because I have missed my Mum’s homecooked food *hehe*

8.  Optical department sells contacts lenses, glasses, sunglasses, contact lens solution

  • Not tried the optical services in Australia but back in Scotland, we get our optical shizz in Costco and get our eyes tested there too (not sure if we can do that here as I forgot to look)

9.  Other stuff like bath tubs, garden sheds, clothes, household gadgets (KitchenAid – I want one!), beauty products, nappies, toilet rolls, books, DVDs, American snacks, etc, etc.

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco,

  • I can spend hours browsing Costco but it gets a bit hectic when there’s a big crowd of people.

costco ringwood, costco australia, what to buy in costco

There are also many pop-up stalls to let you sample food and drink which I think is a great idea.  That’s me about to eat some Poppycock – candied popcorn which is pretty yum.

Back in the Glasgow branch, Costco provides customers breakfast (before 11am, I think) when they are shopping with a cup of tea or coffee and half a muffin or croissant.  Ahhh, I miss that so much!

After a spot of shopping, you can head to the cafe where they sell a small selection of food – Pizza, Hot Dogs, Salads, Chicken Bakes.  Unfortunately, in Australia, they don’t sell my favourite Baked Potatoes!!!  Have to fly back to Scotland to get my Costco Baked Potato fix :P

Anyway, I can’t believe I just wrote a post dedicated to my love for Costco!  That is NUTS!  OMG…is it a sign that I am turning into a Mummy Blogger or something??!!  Somebody stop meeeeee!!!!

LuxBite Love!

By Ling

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Ever since my High Tea Baby Shower, the Husband has been curious about what high tea involves.  He had a day off work last week so I said we could go and have High Tea for 2 at LuxBite – he has been slightly obsessed with this place since we came here for dessert on my birthday a few months ago.  As for me, I am not a sweet tooth nor a huge desserts fan so I wasn’t particularly keen…  But I had browsed the menu beforehand online and I was planning to order some savoury bites whilst the fat boy ate all the cakes.  When we got there, the Husband read the menu and changed his mind about having High Tea.  Instead, he wanted a 2-course lunch – savoury followed by dessert.

luxbite high tea, luxbite high tea for 2, luxbite high tea $42

For LuxBite virgin-istas, there is a large marble communal table and a couple of small side bench tables.  I plonked myself on one of the stools at the edge of the large table whilst he went to order.  And then I slowly brought out my Canon DSLR from my bag.  I felt like a total gimp snapping pics.  I’m a faux food blogger yo!!!  To test the lighting, I took photos of the remnants of these two girls who had just finished High Tea.

luxbite flowers, luxbite table, luxbite south yarra, luxbite melbourne

Out of the corner of my eye – to the far right at the end of the table – a girl spied Bernard Chu (owner / chef who has appeared on MasterChef Australia) working on his laptop and asked to take a photo with him.  I missed that MasterChef episode so I didn’t fangirl over him and instead, I took a photo of the flower arrangements on the table.

close up photo of Husband

The Husband sat down next to me and I decided to take an extreme close-up photo of him mid-yawn and unflattering up-the-nostrils pic because I am mean like that :)  Check out that double chin y’all!

luxbite lunch, luxbite menu, luxbite savoury

My lunch arrived!  I ordered the Slow Braised Beef (with caramelised bacon & spring onion mash, fried egg) $15 AUD and specifically asked for the fried egg to be well done so I could eat it.  However, the egg yolk was just slightly underdone and being a paranoid pregnant lady, I passed it to the Husband to eat.  The beef was melt-in-your-mouth chunky beef goodness!!  And the mash was creamy, buttery and smooth… (could not detect any bacon nor spring onions BTW)  As I am lactose intolerant, I shouldn’t have ate the creamy mash, but I couldn’t stop!  (Suffered a bit later with the milky-flavoured nauseating burps!)

luxbite

As for Hubs, he ordered the Satay Marinated Roast Chicken (with creamy polenta, caramelised garlic, anchovies, peanuts) $15 AUD.  It was lovely as the chicken was delicately flavoured with satay and the meat was extremely moist (why do people not like that word?) and the crunchy anchovies and peanuts added a great textural component to the dish (gosh, not only do I think I am a food blogger but now I’m a MasterChef judge too??!!!).  The polenta didn’t do much for me though.

Onto the desserts…

luxbite macaroons, luxbite macaron flavours

At first, I wasn’t going to order dessert.  But then, I thought I would get a macaron as I liked the Kaya Toast flavour they had last time…  Sadly, it was a Limited Edition flavour and it has now been replaced with Champagne & Griottine Cherry (my response – grio-what??!) – and no flavours screamed EAT ME!

Luxbite Lolly Bag Cake Masterchef, Luxbite lolly cake, luxbite cakes

I did more browsing and although they looked really pretty, it was either “I have lots of E numbers and sugar which will rot your teeth!” or “I contain dairy which will kill you even more after that creamy mash you had earlier!”.

“I’m not going to order anything.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t want to!”
“Come on!  We can share!”

And he did the “puppy dog eyes”…!!!  Clearly, the Husband wanted ME to order something so HE could polish it off!  So I did…

luxbite cakes, luxbite

Both of the desserts looked so pretty (let’s chant together – #foodporn #foodporn #foodporn).  In the front is Endless Love (lychee ganache, rose cream, lychee, fresh raspberries) $9 AUD.

luxbite cakes, luxbite

Behind is Epic Chocolate Cravings (rich belgian dark chocolate with hazelnut crust & salted caramel sphere) $7.50 AUD.

luxbite cakes, luxbite

Endless Love was just so pretty and pink and I couldn’t stop taking photos of it.

luxbite cakes, luxbite

The Husband was just gagging to eat it so he took the first bite.  I was surprised the whole thing didn’t squelch together and collapse.

luxbite cakes, luxbite

We LOVED it!  I didn’t think I would like the rose cream but it just goes so well with the juicy raspberries.  Here’s a photo of the lychee lurking in the middle.  OMG YUM!  I would love to eat this again and again…  No wonder it is aptly named Endless Love!!!

luxbite cakes, luxbite

I was under the impression that Epic Chocolate Cravings would be epically sweet, but it was well-balanced.  I really enjoyed it too.

luxbite cakes, luxbite

Our favourite bit was the salted caramel sphere.  We are big salted caramel fans!!

luxbite cakes, luxbite

I’m really glad we ended up ordering these two desserts because it was great to alternate between them – one bite here, one bite there.  We devoured it all in a matter of minutes!  The lactose-intolerance-induced-nausea I suffered later was really worth it!!!  The Husband and I are officially Luxbite lovers!!!

*tummy rumbles whilst blogging* Now if only I could lick my computer screen…  I mean, I could lick it but it won’t taste the same as these LuxBite delights :P

LuxBite on Urbanspoon

15 Things I Have Done Since Maternity Leave Started 2 Weeks Ago

By Ling

Melbourne mummy

In case you didn’t know, my last day at work was 2 Fridays ago and boy, was I glad to start maternity leave.  Full-time work with this “big babeh in ma belleh” was doing my back in…literally!  Anyway, with all this “free time” on my hands, a few friends have been asking me what I have been doing…EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  They are either :-

a) Nosey – Curiosity killed the cat (#justsaying)
b) Concerned I might be bored – As if I would ever get bored of free “me” time!
c) Living vicariously through me while they slave away at work – Hello, I’m preggers…it’s not as if I’m gallivanting around Europe staying in 5 star luxury!

So for all you curious cats out there, these are the things I have been doing since maternity leave kicked off 2 weeks ago according to the photos taken on my iPhone 5 (otherwise it didn’t count :P) and please forgive me for the poor quality photos but I cannot lug my DSLR around with me at all times.

Asian wedding 1.  The Husband and I went to a wedding at Wattle Park Chapel where we were happy for the blessed couple, but we were even happier when we tucked into the yummy buffet lunch feast.

baby shower at the Waiting Room Crown

2.  I had my Pink Baby Shower High Tea with my online girlfriends which you would have read about in my previous post.  (Okay the photos are not from my iPhone but whatcha gonna do about it huh?)

squeezing blackheads, squeezing zits, popping pimples

3.  The Husband pinned me down and squeezed my blackheads!  It is one of his favourite pastimes because he doesn’t have any blackheads on his face so he always looks for mine!  *nods head*  Yes, we are a weird couple!

luxbite, chocolate tart, raspberyy macaron, noodles, beef noodles, food porn melbourne, food blog melbourne

4.  We ate out a lot because :-

a) We are too lazy to cook every day
b) Some of my salary goes into this “Entertainment Salary Packaging Card” to reduce the amount of taxes I pay…but the only way I can spend it is to eat at restaurants or stay at hotels
c) We know the chances of us eating out will be greatly reduced by the arrival of my Mum next week (she has worked in the food industry for umpteen years and she says most places are unhygienic), his Mum in 2 weeks (she thinks everything is fatty and unhealthy) and my baby girl in 4 weeks (screaming newborn babies at restaurants are a no-no!)
d) It’s like “dating” for us ;)

The places we have dined at since my maternity leave include : LuxBite, Roast Duck Inn, Fish Pier, Ikea, Yami Yami, Dessert Story, Quan 88, Meals At Jackson’s, Malaysian Kitchen…

red itchy stretch marks, stretch marks pregnancy, itchy red stretch marks from pregnancy week 34

5.  I have been scratching my tummy till it bleeds!!!  I have red raging inflamed stretch marks which itch like a bitch all day and night.  And before anyone asks, I HAVE BEEN USING EVERY MOISTURISER / OIL / AILMENT under the sun (except for steroidal cream which I want to avoid).  I showed it to my Doctor at my last Obstetrician appointment last week and all she said was “you need to moisturise” – gee, thanks for your useless help!!!  Anyway, I have diagnosed myself with the help of Dr Google and I suspect I have Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy (PEP) and I will be cured once I have delivered the baby.  And there goes my chance of ever becoming a Victoria’s Secret supermodel!!! LOL!!!

nursing chair, rocking chair Ikea, Ikea Melbourne, Ikea Victoria

6.  We went around furniture shops looking for a nursing reclining rocking chair so I can get comfy when I breastfeed and hide my boobs from any prying eyes.  I scoured the Mummy forums and Ikea Poang was a popular choice but I didn’t really like it.  In the end, we found a relatively cheap one (under $500) at Furniture Galore in Springvale but the sales guy was the RUDEST man everrrrrr so I stormed out and refused to spend my hard-earned money there.  We went to the Nunawading branch and the sales dude was nicer so we ordered the chair…only to pick it up yesterday and find that it was wonky!!  Back it went and we’re still waiting 1.5 weeks later…

baby clothes australia, mummy blog melbourne

7.  I bought some baby clothes finally!  I’ve been putting that off for some bizarre reason but then I went a bit nuts at K-Mart, Target and Big W.  Yes, they are all relatively el-cheapo places but babies grow so fast that I don’t see the point in buying them designer gear at such an early age.  I am also trying to hunt down some sleeping bag type clothes like the Grobags and Swaddles, but have no idea which ones to get…  Worry about that later :P

baking cakes, cakes galore, cake in melbourne

8.  I have a newfound love for baking!  Carrot cake, banana bread and chocolate cake…  And I even bought an 18 cm cake tin yesterday so that my cakes look better!!  What is happening to me??

Grain Store Melbourne, Grain Store, chips, lamb sausage, scrambled eggs

9.  Meeting up with friends and catching up on goss.  I do have a social life offline you know :P

instant noodles

10.  Eating lots of instant noodles for lunch.  In my defence, I am trying to finish all the junk food, i.e. instant noodles, frozen fish balls and frozen dumplings, before my Mum arrives.  She doesn’t like all this instant slash frozen food business so I am trying to save her from stress :P

bleeding tongue, cut tongue, ice cream

11.  Speaking of frozen foods…  I found a Connoisseur Gourmet Ice Cream (Murray Salted Caramel with Macadamia) hiding in the freezer which was the Husband’s stash of junk food.  I can’t and shouldn’t eat ice cream due to my increased intolerance of lactose…but temptation got the better of me.  After licking the ice cream till it was all gone, I discovered that all the licking made my tongue bleed!  Sigh!  And then the lactose-induced nausea came to haunt me…  Double sigh!

Will Power TVB series

12.  Watching TVB Chinese series so that I can brush up on my Cantonese speaking skills and hopefully, Bunty will be a bilingual girl like yours truly.  And before anyone asks, the Husband has limited Cantonese which is mish-mashed with Malaysian words so it just sounds…WRONG!  (FYI – I do have other Cantonese-speaking Malaysian friends who speak Canto like a pro…so I’m not saying all Malaysians speak funny…just my Husband!)

Marks & Spencers Treggings

13.  I have also been doing a spot of decluttering.  I managed to reduce my wardrobe by 5 items of clothing!  Yay!  That’s quite a lot for a hoarder like me.  Also, stopped to have a laugh at the silly clothes my Mum brought over last year…  Treggings anyone?

airwick australia, airwick candle

14.  Chillaxing with scented candles whilst reading about baby sleeping techniques.  This limited edition black scented candle from Airwick is pretty cool because it changes colour.  I have yet to light the Glasshouse Fragrance one I got for my birthday though.

15.  Other things with no photographic evidence such as blogging, surfing the internet, sleeping, pooping, taking photos, talking to my bump, praying, Christmas shopping, dropping my phone, drinking full fat Coca Cola…blah blah blah…

And that’s all folks!

Clearly I have not done enough maternity-related stuff…  the nursery is still half-done… I don’t have a birth plan…  I haven’t packed my hospital bags yet…  I don’t even have a clue what my Husband’s workplace phone number is if I have to call him when my waters break…  Mehh…  whatever…!  I’m just gonna go with the flow :)

Plenty of women complain that maternity leave is boring…  Well, I aint complaining!!!  At least, not yet…