How to make a tea bag rocket

This is a perfectly safe and *fun* indoor science activity for kids (and the young at heart, like me). smirk The teabag rocket works due to the principles of thermodynamics – you can read up on the science behind how it works if you’re so inclined, but basically it’s a regular tea bag which achieves lift-off and flies off suddenly like a rocket when lit.

It’s a lot of fun and the kids really loved it! I wanted to show this to the little girls and their cousins were there during the weekend too, which makes it all the merrier. I can see that they enjoyed the show. I got them to catch the expired tea bag rocket too, which is surprisingly intact, like a discarded snake skin.

You just need tea bags, a pair of scissors and a lighter!

Instructions:

cut teabag

1. Cut the tea bag at the very top so that the tag/staples are removed

empty teabag

2. Pour out the tea leaves

lighting

3. Use your fingers to make the tea bag into a square tower and light the top

teabag rocket

4. The tea bag will burn down to the end and suddenly take off like a rocket

Pro tip: Make sure that you’re indoors, turn off your fan and close any open windows to prevent a draft from blowing the tea bag rocket over.

I’ve wanted to show this to the kids for a long time. It’s a lot of fun if you have young kids. I like to think of interesting things to do which will entertain them and make them laugh – it reminds me of the projects my late mom did with when I was their age, like growing sugar crystals.

It instils curiosity and makes for a fun interlude during the weekend – although my poor dear had to clean up after us coz the tea bag rockets produces a lot of ash! :)

The Best Day of My Life

riding bicycles

Greetings everyone! I am back after a short hiatus – major stuff to sort out and everything is peachy now. In fact, I just had one of the best days of my life with my dear and the kids. It was actually quite a simple thing, I wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.

bicycles

We got a bicycle for the little one (second hand, person is moving out of the country) for just RM 40 and the big one got a new (and larger) bike for RM 200. There’s one bicycle at home, which is for adults and one day after work we just took the kids to the park!

happy us

It actually started out with me trying to ride the new bicycle with the little one while the big one is finishing her school. She had a quick dinner after that and we all cycled to the park. The kids kept wanting rides so it was the most exercise I did for to date! I also had to cycle with my dear at the back – we tried it the other way round, but she couldn’t even start cycling coz I was too heavy. smirk

setting sun

I gave so much rides and raced with the big one so much that I felt like puking. It didn’t help that I was still wearing my work clothes so I overheated and was nauseous for a good hour! I had fun though, and so did my dear and the kids. It’s the wholesome family fun that I’ve always wanted to have and I’m glad we did that!

elise dustbin

The funniest thing was watching the little one run with her short legs chasing after her sister. Haha! Too cute. The simple pleasures in life are the best.

It was nice that I could take a lot of awesome photos with just my phone too, which reminds me…

Short mention:

tranfering smartphone data

I’m using my Sony Xperia Z1 [link to my review] now and I’m constantly amazed at the new things that it can do. My previous phone is a Sony Xperia S and I used the Xperia Transfer app to sync everything on my old phone to the new one so it’s up and running.

xperia transfer app

The Xperia Transfer app can be downloaded from Google Play and it works for *all* Android devices. What if you have a Windows or iOS phone? Sony PC Companion and Sony Bridge for Mac (it’s an executable on your new Sony Zperia Z1 smartphone – just connect the microUSB) performs the same function.

how to use xperia transfer

Thus, whatever platform you’re using right now, you can do a direct transfer of your data, contacts, photos etc into your new Sony Xperia Z1 so you’ll be ready to go! :)

Our Christmas / New Year Turkey, Brussels Sprout and Peach Trifle Dinner!

turkey trimmings

This is our first time cooking a turkey together for the parents and kids! I wanted to purchase one but I was told that turkeys were all sold out. Thus, I bought the sides so we can concentrate on roasting the turkey! I got Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts (RM 50) and a Strawberry & Peach Trifle (RM 100).

stuffing turkey

It came in two huge boxes (think that the bigger box originally was supposed to have a turkey inside but they ran out) that delighted the kids – especially the trifle.

plan b

I had slated it for pickup at 6 pm so we can have it just as our turkey has finished cooking, but it turned out that the process took longer than that. Haha!

The story of how we got the turkey:

box

It’s a rather funny anecdote that we’ll look back and laugh at. My dear bought me a MasterChef dinner as a Christmas present and I thought I’ll call ahead and book a turkey. I know it’s sold out, I had already gotten the sides, but I had a sneaky feeling that frozen turkeys are in short supply too.

turkey discussion

I was right.

chestnuts

I called BIG and asked if they had frozen turkeys and the guy said he’ll go and check. He said there’s one left and it’s about 3 kg. I told him I’ll take it and I’ll pick it up in about 2 hours time. He got my name and number and we went to Publika after dinner to get the elusive turkey.

fresh herbs

However, when I got there, I was told that the frozen turkeys were all sold out!

stuffing

I think the dude was kinda sick of answering questions like these, there are signs saying so all over the place. Haha! I told him that I had called ahead just now and there was a definite thawing as he asked for my name…

turkey booking

…and sure enough, there’s a turkey booked under my name!

frozen turkey

I was quite pleased that they really did hold the turkey for me instead of putting it outside where anyone who’s faster can grab it. We’re both happy with the service (but not with the guy – you should always be jovial when asked a question, regardless of whether it’s the 1,000th time someone asked the very same question smirk).

turkey stuffing

I also bought the stuffing for the turkey and some other miscellaneous stuff. The turkey was RM 88.72 for a 3.18 kg bird and the total grocery bill came close to RM 300!

preparing turkey

It was just one day till dinner with the in-laws and the kids and the turkey was *still* frozen so we couldn’t brine the turkey. This is the most basic recipe but it turned out delicious! I just thawed the frozen turkey overnight and then put it in the fridge when it was fully thawed.

turkey oven

I chucked it into the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes before turning it around. It’s supposed to be a self-basting turkey but you do need to baste it every now and then. I used the simplest recipe to cook the turkey (from theKitchn.com).

basting turkey

I rubbed butter all over the turkey and stuffed two halved lemons into the cavity.

stuffing turkey last

I didn’t truss or stuff the turkey, just wrapped some bacon around the breast and put it in 2 cups of water and left it in the oven for as hot as it would go. It took us 3 ½ hours to cook the turkey!

carving turkey

Before the last 40 minutes, I prepared the stuffing using a gourmet stuffing blend hand packed from the Shropshire Spice Co in the UK. It’s an apple with cranberry and roast chestnut stuffing and I just needed to add 700 ml of water (for the 2 packs) and a huge pat of butter before, well, stuffing this Pink Lady apple based mix into the cavity.

inspecting trifle

It was a bit too much stuffing so I left some out so it looks like the turkey has laid some stuffing. Haha!

peach trifle

The turkey was rested for 20 minutes before serving.

roasted turkey

We had spaghetti with bacon (cooked by my dear) with the turkey and it tasted quite good! I still have leftover turkey, the kids loved it and the in-laws ate quite a fair bit too, so I reckon we did well with our turkey!

brussels sprouts

The Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts wasn’t that big of a hit but I thought it improved my view of Brussels sprouts. I didn’t really like it when I was in NZ and Australia due to the bitterness but it seems like the new genetically modified ones in the last decade are less bitter. It tastes quite good in fact!

trifle

The Strawberry & Peach Trifle was the true hero though – it tasted wonderful! I like the jelly-like cake bottom, and the peaches and cream in the middle and the strawberry topping cuts down on the sheer sweetness with some acidity. We finished that 1 kg trifle on the night itself!

turkey dinner

It was a good Christmas / New Year turkey dinner though – we had it on the weekend, which is neither Christmas or New Year but our own family get-together. We all had fun, the only thing that was missing was some Christmas crackers! :D

il panettoncino

(and we couldn’t even start eating the panettone or mince pies that we had so we saved it for this weekend)

Shots from a Steamboat Dinner

steamboat dinner

It’s a home steamboat dinner over at my better half’s parents!

kids steamboat

The kids are having a lot of fun…shoveling in all the fish balls, meatballs, and stuff meant for the steamboat. They really enjoyed dumping *everything* in at once! smirk

cheesy meatballs

She cooked a wonderful meatballs with cheese casserole that I’m still eating with a baguette.

kfc noodles

I didn’t cook anything, so I brought a bucket of fried chicken over from KFC.

bacon chinese

This is really awesome “bacon”. I’m going to call it Chinese bacon! Haha! It’s thickly sliced pork belly that my dear bought straight from the factory. It’s cheaper than bacon too!

chinese bacon

The stuff cooks well in a steamboat – it’s like shabu-shabu, just a couple of swishes in the hot water and it’s done.

steamboat

Quail eggs, noodles, family and fun!

steamboat us

This is a photo the little one took of us, which I really liked! My favorite photo of the day. <3

Our weekend trip to Gold Coast Morib Resort!

morib goldcoast us

I decided to take my better half and the kids on a trip last weekend. I was about to go to A-Farmosa in Melaka (gave the little ones a choice of that and Lost World of Tambun in Ipoh) before my dear told me about this place.

morib water park

Thus, we packed our bags and went to the water park that’s the flagship of Gold Coast Morib Resort!

kids

We got two adult tags for the water park which were valid for two (2) days as part of our check in package. I also got an additional bed (RM 60) which is a camping air bed that the big one slept on. It came with toiletries and +1 breakfast but no extra water park ticket.

waterpark tags

The water park tickets cost RM 20 for each child below the age of 12. I also rented a float for RM 10. There’s two really nice water slides (similar to each other) that me and my dear went on. It was a bit scary so the kids didn’t want to go on it. I got a big bruise from it though:

bruise

It’s coz I slid down by using the iron bar on top to speed myself up. Do not try to go down this head-first, you’ll likely be injured.

morib water slide

I did go on the other water rides head-first though. There’s a flat, wide water slide, three small and taller straight water slides side-by-side and a high and winding water slide with multiple twists which we all went on – sometimes in groups of *three* (me, my dear and the smallest one).

morib goldcoast

Dinner that night was at Golden Sea Restaurant – just a couple of minutes down the road. The food was good, we had steamed prawns (RM 25), Marmite chicken and lala fried rice vermicelli. I had a stomach bug though so I couldn’t finish dinner but we tapao-ed the rest back and everyone (including the kids) finished the leftovers!

steamed prawns

A word of warning – it’s almost impossible to get a table for the buffet breakfast at Gold Coast Morib Resort!

breakfast buffet

The water park doesn’t really check the tags so we didn’t have to buy another set for the kids the next day. That theoretically saved me RM 40 but unfortunately, I put a RM 50 note in my pocket as well as the hotel key card. It stayed right where it was the first day (which was a good thing since I had hundreds in there) but on the second day, I *lost* everything!

goldcoast morib resort

It wasn’t due to the slides, I went on them both days but the deep pool! I was pretending to be a dolphin while I dove up and down with the big one hanging on to me. I also tripped before entering the pool so that might have opened up the Velcro.

goldcoast morib beach

I couldn’t find both so I had to replace the key card and then we all went into the Jacuzzi and had ice cream while waiting for the check-out time.

jacuzzi

Pros:

  • No limitation to people in room (we didn’t need the extra bed but got it for comfort)
  • Breakfast is free for kids
  • Water park doesn’t check tags and encourages you to keep yours so you can use it the next day
  • Good food is available just a short drive away
  • You can get good paos from Tanjung Sepat on the way back

tanjung sepat pao

Cons:

  • The room isn’t clean – there’s even a discarded snack wrapper on the balcony
  • The resort can be noisy at night
  • Service is bad – no one answered the in-house phone and I had to call their external line to get toiletries
  • The resort isn’t well maintained – the hair-dryer in our room was broken and the maintenance guys had to fix it on the spot
  • There’s no swimming pool so you have to pay for the water park for that

family trip morib

Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with my dear and the kids! It was a good weekend and we’re looking forward to the next one! :)

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with the Future In-Laws

hb ling ethel

This photo was taken by the little one!

mooncake festival 2013

We just celebrated the Mid-Autumn festival last night! Yup, it’s several days early but that was the date it was decided on since Monday is a public holiday and everyone could make it. I was pleased to be invited by my better half’s parents to come over for dinner.

mooncakes in laws

I bought some mooncakes to bring along as a gift. I spotted a teh tarik (pulled milk tea) version which I wanted them to try while my dear chose more conventional ones like white lotus and assorted nuts with chicken bits. The Imperial Musang King Royale (RM 78 / 2 pcs) has long been sold out.

mid autumn dinner 2013

It’s good to have a home cooked meal while celebrating the mooncake festival in a home setting. My family is partly in Sibu and partly in Singapore so I don’t get that myself.

dragon lantern

There were also a lot of kids playing lanterns – I remember this vividly from my childhood and both of us lit some as well. Haha!

mooncakes 2013

There’s a lot of weird and wonderful lanterns now – the little one got an Angry Birds version while the big one got a rather unwieldy and large dragon, which burned on one side after a while.

mooncake family 2013

It was a good night spent with the future in-laws. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival 2013! :)

Highlights of our Langkawi trip: A foul madame, Underwater World and chocolates

ladies indoor pool

This is not the strangest thing we’ve seen on this trip. It’s also not related to the titled foul madames. The resort we stayed in actually has an indoor covered swimming pool just for the ladies!

jellyfish

If you’re wondering what’s going on inside and whether it requires an adult ID for entry…wonder no longer. The answer is nothing much and no. It’s just a feature to attract Arabic and other Middle Eastern families due to their Muslim religion. You can’t very well swim in a burka. It doesn’t exactly cut through the water like Ian Thorpe’s drag resistant and aerodynamic bodyskin swimming rig.

ritter sport

On to other matters, we also went chocolate shopping! We must have bought hundreds of dollars worth of imported, duty free confectionery.

ritter sport choc

I ate frozen Ritter SPORT for two weeks straight coz it’s 3 for RM 11.30.

ritter loacker limited edition

They also had this limited edition exclusive where they collaborated with Loacker (most famous for their wafer coated chocolates) for a Ritter-Loacker exclusive! It’s a Ritter SPORT that has a Loacker wafer inside and comes in two flavors – Strawberry & Vanilla-Wafer and Raspberry & Cranberry Yoghurt.

cognac chocolates

I thought it was okay, my better half loved it though and I must admit, it’s a pretty cool temporary partnership. It’s kinda like how Mars and Pods work but it’s for a limited time only.

liquer chocolates

On to other things, I saw the usual array of liquor chocolates and bought an Anthon Berg limited edition. This time they did a cocktail series! They usually do a standard array of liqueur chocolates with fillings made with Jack Daniels, Otard, Famous Grouse, Canadian Club etc and I don’t get overly excited with them.

chocolate cocktails

The Anthon Berg limited edition cocktails series doesn’t have branded liqueur inside but cocktails! It still uses the same hollow chocolate bottle with liquer inside though – I thought a cocktail glass would be cool. Flavors are Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri. Not too bad but GOLDKENN Remy Martin cognac sticks are much better (although more expensive).

underwater world

We also went to Underwater World coz the kids wanted to go. There’s all sorts of underwater creatures kept in captivity from pink flamingos…

pink flamingos

…to penguins.

penguins

It reminded us of our first holiday together at Phillip Island in Melbourne. We went to the Penguin Parade and we tried to do a similar pose here. Haha!

us penguins

Langkawi’s Underwater World is getting a little run down and there’s not much for returning (or first time) visitors to see but it’s worth a trip if you have little kids.

huge fish

Hell, I even bought a ridiculously priced photo of us that we halfheartedly posed for (my better half told me not to get it coz it’s expensive) at the entrance coz I wanted a memento with my dear and the kids at the last minute. I did the same for our Sunway Lagoon trip. I guess I’m becoming one of those schmucks who goes for these things nowadays. smirk

foul madames

I bet you’re really wondering about that foul madame at this point now.

ful medames

It’s not a person, it’s a dish from Egypt that you can make yourself at the breakfast buffet. It’s the resorts policy to attract visitors from that region at work again. Ful medames is described as “cooked and mashed fava beans in olive oil”.

langkawi photo

That’s the last of Langkawi, till our next trip, here’s the aforementioned photo of us! :D

Wonderland Food Store Seafood, Langkawi

wonderland langkawi

This is supposed to be one of the best seafood restaurants in town. I say this based solely on the fact that a lot of people like taxi drivers in Langkawi use it as a landmark/drop-off-point. Wonderland Food Store is just one of many seafood restaurants along the waterfront in town.

lobster

There are Thai style seafood restaurants, Malay seafood restaurants, and Chinese seafood restaurants, but many of the last don’t serve pork anyway. We decided on Wonderland Seafood coz we’re never eaten there before and a lot of people talks about it so we checked it out.

wonderland food store

It was a huge disappointment!

wonderland seafood

The mantis prawns were frozen instead of fresh, most of the dishes are unappealing with no plating considerations and even though it was packed, the clientèle seems to be mostly tourists – Japanese, Chinese, Korean etc.

wonderland coconut

To add to the list of sins, they hired an unlicensed taxi for us – which costs RM 1 more than the standardized fare – and is a highly unusual practice in Langkawi since the taxis are heavily regulated.

Kam Heong Mantis Prawn

mantis prawn

This is deep fried since they didn’t have any fresh ones. The proprietors said that the fishermen didn’t have any catches since it was the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays. The frozen mantis prawns tastes alright but I was looking forward to fresh steamed ones so it was slightly disappointing.

Fried Squid

squid

The squid was too chewy and just wasn’t fresh – it’s exactly the *opposite* of what I had hoped to eat in Langkawi, which is famous for their seafood since it’s a duty free island.

Soft Shell Crab

soft shell crab

This was fried the same way as the other two dishes so it’s quite jelak to eat so much deep fried battered seafood, even if all three are very different creatures. I thought it was mediocre.

Seafood Fried Rice

wonderland fried rice

RM 8 a plate and it comes with lots of squid! I suspect that the “seafood fried rice” contains whatever surplus seafood that you ordered. It’s oily and repetitive.

Steamed Sea Bass (Siakap)

sea bass siakap

This is the saving grace of our seafood dinner. I liked it so much I ate all of the fish – mostly by myself. Haha. The rest of the food we tapau and took it back to the hotel coz there were so much leftovers it was obscene.

wonderland bill

The bill costs RM 99 which was pretty reasonable. However, dinner wasn’t what we expected – we had been looking forward to a nice seafood meal in Langkawi. It could be the lack of fisherman’s produce due to the Hari Raya holidays as the restaurant didn’t have fresh seafood and had to resort to frozen ones. Or it could be just the wrong place to eat.

wonderland us

I can’t say I recommend Wonderland Seafood from our dining experience but I had a lot of fun with the kids and my better half! That’s all that matters. :)

Tonight, we shall feast!

swimming with kids

I woke up having pains and aches in places I didn’t even know existed. I had been running around the pool with the kids for several hours last night, swimming and remembering how to do stuff like:

Underwater somersaults

-_-

pool night

Haha! It was a lot of fun though, and we went just opposite the hotel to the tourist trap seafood restaurants for a bite to eat.

3 antara

I wanted to head over to this cool looking place with the menus written in English and Cyrillic script (!!!) called 3 t.i.g.a. Antara (no relation to the 3 Line criminal gang) which looks like something out of the trendy beach front eateries of Bali or Boracay. I figured if you wanted to be ripped off, at least we can get ripped off…in style! smirk

seafood restaurant

The menu was surprisingly cheap but the kids didn’t like anything on it so we walked to a Chinese seafood restaurant (which strangely serves no pork).

tourist trap

The place was comfortable though – we’re just beside the beach so we can feel the breeze being enhanced by the ceiling fans.

old coconut
Fresh coconut (RM 4)

wah tan hor

Now, the lady taking the order warned us that small is VERY SMALL. Sorry, that should have been very small. The wah tan hor (Medium – RM 12) that came out made us apprehensive about all the other Small orders – would there just be a few pieces?

guinness stout chicken
Guinness Stout Chicken Fillets (RM 9 – Small)

venison deer meat
Venison (Deer Meat) with Ginger & Onions (RM 15 – Small)

fried rice
Fried Rice (RM 5- Small)

ate well

It turns out that there’s more than expected and everyone ate well (for just RM 57 at a tourist trap – woo hoo). It’s very forgettable food though…

family dinner

Tonight is the night that we’re heading to town where the locals go for a *proper* seafood restaurant to eat the ocean’s diminishing supply of creatures – delicious treats like mantis prawn!

holiday villa

Tonight, we feast! *tears eagerly into a foot long cod*

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