Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sunday Brunch

We decided to have a laid back Sunday brunch in Bangsar Village recently. Our first pick was naturally Marmalade. We love Marmalade for the good food, and most importantly - it has a play area to keep Aiden occupied!

Hubby enjoying his first cup of morning coffee.

Anyway, this was what we ordered. A classic American breakfast for me (so that Aiden could have egg and sausages), and Hubby had Aglio Olio. Marmalade serves one of the best aglio olio in town, hands down!

We thought Aiden would have appreciated the eggs and sausages in my American breakfast, but he preferred the pasta instead. In the end, the two boys ended up fighting for the last strand of pasta in the bowl.

Marmalade front entrance.

A dessert glass cabinet greets you as you walk into the restaurant.

Spoiled for choice, Marmalade offers sliced cake, brownies and even cupcakes for your sweet tooth.

And this is Marmalade's play area. It is tucked away in a quiet corner of the restaurant. Suitable for kids below the age of 3, but I think the older kids would have fun playing with the various toys there anyway. The play area includes a slide, a small table, kiddy chairs and baskets full of toys. Kids will have to take off their shoes to play in the play area, which is covered with laminated flooring.

The seats close to the play are are almost always full. However, there is a full glass window by the side of the play area so that you can still see your child playing while you enjoy your meal.

Supervising Aiden from the glass window.

Aiden playing with the very interesting toys available.

Aiden even made friends that morning.

Aiden looking at his new friend's mother.

His new friend even came up to our table. Soon the two boys were happily playing together in the play area. Afterwards, the boy's mother approached us and gave me her card so that we could contact each other to arrange for play dates. Oh, if only I wasn't tied down to work, I would have loved the idea of bringing them together for playdates! *I wish I was a rich tai tai*

Afterwards, we brought Aiden for ice-cream.

Check out that comot face!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bila Aiden Balik Kampung

Here are pictures from Aiden's recent trip balik kampung. One of Aiden's granduncles has a really wide piece of land beside his house; and he rears all types of animals within the compound.

Aiden, being a city boy and all, was absolutely amazed. But imagine our surprise when he started shouting "Turkey, turkey!" Okay-lah not so bad; despite growing up in the city he still knows how a turkey looks like. His relatives on the other hand, was impressed that he called it a turkey instead of a chicken. But when they asked him, "Mana ayam?", he simply gave them a blank stare. *tak faham la tuh!* They got so amused that they started him calling ayam! Ooookkkaaayyyyy... I hope this nickname is not going to stick!

Since it was too late at night to catch a turkey for Aiden to play with, they let him touch a chicken instead.

City boy getting up close and personal with a chicken.

Check out how the chicken confidently placed it's leg on Aiden's thigh

The many animals residing within the compound.

This is where the bigger animals like cows, goats and such reside.

The next night, we visited Aiden's granduncle again; and since Aiden called out for the turkey numerous times, they decided to let him play with the turkey too. However, it was no easy feat trying to catch a turkey, so they enlisted help from some local boys, in exchange for payment of a few ringgits.

The local boys demonstrating to Aiden the art of catching a turkey.
The famous turkey.
Aiden looking nervously at the turkey. Heck, even I have never seen a real life turkey before!

No worries, here's a smaller chicken for you, Aiden!

The very extrovert chicken from last night.

Next, a baby goat!

Aiden tried touching the goat.

And quickly pulled his hand back when the goat came forward to nuzzle him!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Offshore Installation of Xmas Trees

And so I mentioned going to offshore training for my birthday! Really, getting overturned in a sinking helicopter and trying to breathe using a BA (breathing apparatus) wasn't on my birthday to do list this year. Although technically since i'm an excellent swimmer I didn't really freak out for the helicopter exercise but I did freak out when during the 3meter jump exercise. I hate heights! But it had to be done because my BOSET certificate had expired and I needed the certificate to go offshore. In conjunction with Christmas coming around the corner, we are going to be installing Xmas Trees offshore!

Never thought I would don my Sakhalin safety boots ever again. I used to wear these boots everywhere during my Sakhalin days and they are much more comfortable than those office issued safety boots, despite it being high cut and winter rated!
Arrived in Labuan a few days before we were due to sailaway. I was stationed at the fabrication yard but let's skip that part and get straight to the interesting bit.

Our vessel. Havila Harmony.
This wasn't my first trip offshore. But this trip was certainly the longest i've been offshore! Also, my previous offshore experience was with a much smaller boat. The Havila Harmony is definitely bigger. It has 7 floors with the deck on the 4th floor and the bridge on the 7th. Also interesting to note that I boarded HH not from the dock but in deeper waters, hence had to climb a make-shift rope ladder. Thank god the crew helped me with my luggage. Can't imagine transfering from the water taxi to the vessel via a rope ladder with luggage in tow!

Although the HH is a bigger vessel, I was quite surprised with the size of the room they put us in. With the previous (smaller) boat, I was actually given the captain's room (since I was the only lady onboard) but this time I was given one of the smaller rooms. Some of the people I travelled with even got rooms with a TV in it, but my room was so small that even when my friend (cum roommate) Maya and I stood facing each other in the space between the cupboards and the beds, it felt extremely cramped!
The bunk beds. Initially we agreed she would use the lower bunk for the first few days then I would move down for the last few days. Unfortunately Maya had a bout of food poisoning the whole trip so I didn't have the heart to tell her to climb up. And don't underestimate the effort it took to climb up the bunk bed when yours truly had a growing ganglion on the left hand!
The very small cupboards. I didn't even bother unpacking, just laid my bag flat on the floor and took clothes straight out from the bag. Didn't help with the lack of floor space, though!

On the way to the installation site, we had a muster drill. Everyone was asked to muster at their respective muster point wearing their life jackets to familliarize themselves in case of emergency.
I have always been quite prone to being seasick. And my last trip offshore wasn't that pleasant. I woke up in the middle of the night and found the boat rocking roughly sideways. Got out of bed only to be thrown to the wall from the impact of the waves. Managed to get to the toilet and puked, crawled back to bed and when I woke up the next morning we were on calmer waters on the way back to shore. They aborted the trip due to the weather!

Again this time, I chose the worse time ever to be offshore. It was the monsoon season and when we arrived to the installation site, the waves were ridiculous (more than 2.4meters)! Turning back to shore wasn't a feasible choice as we had a drilling rig on standby waiting for us to complete installation, and most of the crew wanted to get the installation done to be able to catch the plane home for Christmas.

Although the significant wave height was within the workability threshold of the vessel, decision was made to standby as we could not do lifting operations with the wind speeds we were experiencing. The high wind speeds not only created excessive movement on the vessel, it also prevented the usage of cranes - if we were to proceed there was a high risk that the jumpers would swing and crash into other equipment on deck. So, we waited. And waited (while I pacified myself by calculating the amount of offshore allowance I would make from the trip). 

The long walkways within the vessel. This one heads to the medic office as I wanted to get my dose of seasick pills.
The laundry room. Vessel crew were all men so I did not feel comfortable sending my underwear to them to be washed! 
While we waited for the weather to ease, we checked the jumpers, equipment and observed torque measurement checks. We had a total of two subsea jumpers and one christmas tree to be installed. The two yellow bell shaped structures are the jumpers while the yellow box on the right is the tree.

Subsea jumpers and christmas trees.
Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV)
Check out the ROV arm!
This is where we would monitor the ROV cameras.
Unfortunately for Maya, the combination of food poisoning and being seasick drove her to remain in bed most of the days. I, on the other hand - discovered that I could keep my seasick at bay by making sure that my tummy is always full. And food definitely wasn't a problem when you're offshore!
Two or threee different main dishes per meal, not to mention the numerous types of delicious desserts!

The mess hall.

The roast beef with black pepper sauce was to die for! I shamelessly had second helpings!
On some days, it just wasn't conducive to do any work at all. I would just sit in the office, catch up on emails, use the satellite phone to call home, watch movies on the TV in the office - or pop seasick pills and crawl into bed. On bad days, most of the crew would stay in their bunks. On those days I would feel seasick just from walking from the room to the mess hall!

Our office.
Finally, we found a day where the weather was a tad bit acceptable and we started with the installations! We kicked off at about midnight and worked around the clock until everything was successfully installed. I'll skip the specifics of it, but in a nutshell its basically lifting the giant structure using a crane, bring if overboard while carefully balancing it to make sure you don't overstress the structure, submerge it in water and place it to its final installation location subsea using the ROV camera and its arm to aid the limited view and access.

We monitored everything from the bridge on the 7th floor.

Beautiful sunrise!

The drilling rig that was on standby while we conducted the installation.
Watching the submersible ROV coming up. Took about 5minutes for the ROV to get to the surface - just to give you a feel on how deep the installation site was!

Last checks and post installation survey.
And finally we were on our way home! I was soooo looking forward to seeing Aiden and Hubby. Honestly, I do not like being offshore. I salute all mothers who are able to be apart from their kids to be offshore. But this is not something I would want to do full time. Periodic offshore visits are probably fine, although more often than not I would probably find lots of excuses not to go. *grin*

The helideck. It was early morning and I was in the middle of nowhere. But it was quite soothing - away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Yours truly. Last picture before we arrived onshore.
Docking at the quayside.
At last, we arrived at the quayside. Maya and I literally jumped up and down as soon as we saw land. *so embarrassing!* Checked into the hotel for a short overnight stay to catch the first flight out to KL the next day. Interestingly, after bring offshore for so long, it took me more than two days to get over the feeling of "swaying", albeit being on stable dry land!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Last Birthday In My Twenties!

Yes, I organized a small BBQ cum birthday party to celebrate my last birthday in my twenties. And did I mention the effort of making the red velvet cake twice? (Yes I know I did!)

Anyway, since turning 29 is something really great to shout about (in my books, at least), I chose to invite only the closest friends, neighbours and family to this gathering. I wanted to make sure that I could spend quality time with each of my guests, as opposed to the "eh hi, eh bye" approach I had to adopt during Aiden's last birthday party cum housewarming due to the overwhelming number of guests. And I discovered something interesting, I actually like having a smaller crowd! Not to mention that I could still feel my feet by the end of the night. (Right after Aiden's birthday I could barely feel the soles of my feet and crashed on the sofa in front of the TV while my precious family helped clean up.)

What made this event sweeter was apart from making my own birthday cake, nearly all of the goodies we served that night were either baked or cooked by my own two hands! I only ordered fried meehoon and marinated chicken and lamb for the BBQ, and some guests brought food to contribute. Everything else? Homemade! The ratio of homemade versus purchased was so great that it was actually easier to tell my guests what was bought/ordered than what was homemade. So naturally, this is a post full of pictures of food, so warning - if you're on a diet, stay away!

P.S: Apologies for the grainy pictures from my trusty ol' iPhone. It doesn't really produce great pictures for a night event and it was the only handy camera around.

Blood red cake batter *drool*

Told you practice makes perfect. A somewhat even layer of cream cheese frosting. And since I am definitely not artistic, I enlisted Hubby's help to sketch an outline for the icing wording.

Made nyummy pavlova as well. I love my pavlova served with strawberries, blueberries and kiwis - very interesting colour combination.

I had made the pavlova meringue base the night before the event so that it could cool in the oven overnight. The next morning I gingerly lifted it out, carefully placed the meringue on the dining table and covered it with a layer of foil to protect it. And along came Hubby (who claimed that he didn't know about the existence of the meringue) and proceeded to crush my precious meringue with a stack of magazines. Yes. Thank you Hubby.

Recipe you say? Soon!

What BBQ would be complete without roast chicken?

Jamie Oliver style. See the lemon hanging out of the chicken? Classic!

Another homemade goodie - tiramisu!

I baked carrot cupcakes too. All because I found those adorable cupcake holders at the bakery shop.

With my favourite cream cheese topping. Excuse the melting topping - these were my first batch and I couldn't wait for the cupcakes to cool before topping them.

This batch looks much better.

The cake. Yes, I am finally 29!

Homemade coleslaw and mashed potatoes.

Homemade shepherd's pie. With nasi impit for the satay, courtesy of my in-laws.

The roast chicken in action.

Homemade trifle. Although technically I did not make these myself. A couple of my closest neighbours came over in the morning of the event and made these for me.

Nyummy dadih and aiskrim Malaysia courtesy of a friend and a neighbour respectively. Thank you girls!

The grill in action. BBQ set courtesy of a neighbour. Thank you dear!

The lamb was of course the fastest to disappear. And I thought the marinate was good, especially since the rosemary for the marinate came from our own garden!

The garden set up.

We had 4 tables out in our garden and everyone was dining under the stars. Thank god for the clear weather that night (since it was raining cats and dogs every night the days before and after the event)! We even had a football net in the garden so the kiddos were out kicking balls while their parents had their meals in peace.

The massacre afterwards.

What was left of the birthday cake.

And the remains of the roast chicken.

Tacos and otak-otak - thanks girls. And kuah durian made by my MIL.


My last guests to leave.

Time to clean the grill!

Flowers from dear Hubby were the center piece for the night.

And they bloomed just before the night ended.

At the tender age of 29, I am still receiving presents from people other than family? Wow!

Thank you girls, you know who you are!

And guess how I celebrated my actual birthday the next day? By going for a 3-day offshore training....

Where I would have to jump from a 3 meter platform, escape froman upturned helicopter and crawling in a dark room. Oooohhh fun fun fun!

So why offshore training? Wait till my next post!

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