lundi, décembre 28, 2009

Free pairs of glasses and free foot treatment

The title is a little misleading. There is no such thing as free lunches. I pay taxes (a lot indeed by Singaporean's standard) and my company pays my private health insurance. So it is natural that I do not have to pay certain health related services and goods.

Coming from a country where we have to pay out of our own pockets for a pair of glasses and also medical bills, I am still not used to this social system. Furthermore, my glasses cost me about 750€ and my medical treatment was in Singapore.

As mentioned about 3 years back when I made my first pair of glasses in France, I did not have to pay a single cent. OK. Maybe 3€ max. This was because I have good company health insurance. When I changed job, the coverage on glasses was even better. I could spend up to 1000€ on eyewear (frame + glasses). As usual, I think the optical shops here charge autrocious price for glasses. It is really to the limit of what I call "abusing". The optical shop I went to was kind enough to throw in a pair of glasses for free.

And back to my accident in Singapore, I incurred a total of about 200€ in medical bills. The travel insurance guy told me to claim back my bills from social security and my mutuelle first. Then would he cover the rest of the amount. Usually, social security only accepts medical claims
from the European Union countries. As I had an accident while visiting my home country, SS accepted my claims and gave me half the money back. A week later, my mutuelle gave me the other half. How cool.

No wonder my mutuelle is increasing its price and SS is having a big hole in its pocket. But well, c'est la France et vive la France!

dimanche, décembre 27, 2009

Diapers bin

If you ask Seb what is the essential baby stuff that he could not live without, he will tell you this: the 'used diaper' bin. I do not know about you but when my neighbour told me that this is one thing we should have on top of the babycook, I was skeptical. Seb however insisted we get it, just like me insisting on the babycook.

I was convinced about the usefulness of the used diaper bin when we run out of recharge (the scented plastic bag). We had to find plastic bags to store the used diapers and they stinked in the rubbish bin. Unlike the old appartments in Singapore, there is no rubbish chute in our appartment. We had to put out our rubbish bags in a common rubbish collection area in the residence and I tend to throw my rubbish once every few days.
The used diaper bin is very easy to use and can store many diapers without leaking the smell. Just open the cover, push the used diaper into the bin, turn the grey ring to isolate the diaper in the plastic and close the bin. It makes diaper changing a step easier and faster.
Once the bin is fulled, throw away the string of sausage look alike diaper bags. There is no bad smell. To better understand the concept, check out the Sangenic website. For me, this bin is a bonus. However, Seb finds diaper changing a lot easier with it. So of course, I am more than happy to have it.

jeudi, décembre 17, 2009

Strike and Snow

It is the usual period of strike.
RER A, the regional train most used by Parisiens with almost 1 million of passagers each day has been on strike since 8 days. During peak hours, there are only 1 train out of 2 and for off-peak hours, no train at all.
I am only slightly affected since I come to work by car and I leave home really early to start work at 8am.

Last week, there was a day where I took 1h45mins to reach office due to an accident. Horrible. Seb and I work not far from each other. When I left home in a hurry and kissed my son goodbye, Seb was preparing the milk bottle. While I was on the road, he fed the baby, dressed him up and brought him to the child care center; came back home to get his scooter and zoomed off. After an hour and half in the car stuck in traffic, Seb zoomed pass me on his scooter and even waved at me. That is the advantage of having a scooter in Paris!

This morning, I left earlier for work as other train lines are going on strike and snow is expected. I came to office at a record timing of 30mins. Cool. Usually, it takes me 45mins. Along the way, it snows. It is still snowing. Maybe we will have a white christmas this year. Yipee!

PS: a post done in a hurry for my own memory sake.

samedi, décembre 12, 2009


Baby A is increasing his intake of solids nowadays. I try to make home cooked food for him as often as I can. During the weekends, I prepare his purée and fruit compte with Babycook. It is real easy. Just cut up the vegetables or fruits and put them in the steaming basket. Pour water into the appliant. Turn the knob to steaming mode. Once the food is cooked, just pour the contents in the steaming basket into the blender and turn on the knob to the mixer mode. Voila!

Babycook really ease our lives. It is highly recommended by my neighbour and colleagues. Well, I do admit that it is really handy though at first, I was deterred by its cost. When I cooked porridge, I put the porridge into the Babycook and mix it up.

So far, Baby A enjoys what I make for him and is not fussy. Today, I added in 2 teaspoons of fish in his porridge with carrots. He finished them up. Tomorrow, I will make him try chicken with sweet peas and carrots.

mardi, décembre 01, 2009

One crazy, scary week

Baby A was at his grandparents' 2 weekends ago while Seb and I went on a long weekend to Prague. I was looking so much to this vacation and indeed, it was great.

On tues, when I drove to Chartres to pick up baby A at noon, he was starting to have fever. Baby A's grandma and I decided that he should see a doctor in Chartres right away. The pediatrician advised us to go to the hospital as baby A was having a fever of 39.9°C. He was coughing, having diffculty breathing and was suspected to have H1N1. By the time we were attended to at the emergency room for children, it was already late afternoon. Blood test was taken and baby A was admitted to the baby ward. Seb rushed home after work, packed some clothes and took the train to Chartres. We had to bring down baby A's temperature and also to stablise his breathing.

Baby A stayed a total of 5 nights in the hospital and was discharged on sunday. Seb and I took turns to stay overnight as only one parent was allowed. During the day, we were both at our son's side. Each day, we held hope that he would be discharged.On Wed night, I was asked if I could share the room with another baby who was also suspected of having H1N1. The children ward was over crowded and the hospital could not afford to give each patient a room though in the ideal situation, this should be the case. I accepted as there was really no other choice though I heard other parents insisting on not sharing rooms.

The test result came only on thurs for baby A and he did not have H1N1. He had virus infection to his lungs and it triggered an asthma attack. However, the 4 month old baby who shared his room was tested positive with H1N1. When her fever subsided on Friday, she was discharged. This time round, I insisted that I won't allow my baby to share the room. The head doctor of the children ward was apologetic.

Since admission, all patients who were suspected to have H1N1 were given Tamiflu. This included babies though no lab test had been done for babies under a year old. A 5 weeks old baby in the ward was given Tamiflu too.

Baby A and I are staying at home this week since we had been exposed to a H1N1 carrier. Seb and I are on Tamiflu as well as a preventive measure. The thing is, no doctor can be certain that Tamiflu works or that it prevents us from getting H1N1. And all doctors have different views about the vacination.

The 4 month old girl was alright though she got H1N1. In another case, this was not so. On Saturday, the doctors were trying hard to rescue a kid. Seb and I saw the actions as the emergency room in the ward was in front of baby A's room. We read today in the newspaper that the kid, aged 6 died from H1N1 plus another virus. She came to the hospital on thurs and was told to go home after consultation. Her condition worsen on friday and was rushed to hospital.

This whole affair drained out all our engergy. It scared me too. I am confused. Baby A is determined as asthmatic. With this complication, we were strongly advised to vacine him. But did he already had H1N1 during his stay at the hospital?

For this week, I am bring baby A to a session of respiratory kinesiotherapy each day. I do hope that he will fully recover soon. Winter is just beginning and I pray hard that my son will be well.

I need another vacation but I have no more leave and I don't think I can leave baby A behind. Not that I think my in-laws did not do a good job. Baby A falling sick had nothing to do with them. They took great care of baby A and they love him.

Given a quiet moment, I will look at the photos of Prague and write a little post about it. That will maybe lift up my spirit.

vendredi, novembre 13, 2009

Paris Markets

A friend from Singapore was asking me about the markets in Paris. Which days are they available and at which district.

I checked through internet and found the list. However, the list is in french. It states the district in Paris, the Metro station, the day and time. I guess it is not difficult to make out the information except for the days. So here is a table showing DAYS in english and french.

I hope this information will be useful to tourist. French markets are a pretty sight and is something not to be missed when visiting France. After all, this is a country of great gastronomy.

jeudi, novembre 12, 2009

Label label

Got this cloth from a UK website while shopping for bandana bibs. Baby A likes to chew on labels. Once he is handed a toy, he would nibble on the label. Somehow, babies prefer that than the toy itself.

With this cloth, he has lots of labels to choose from. Still, I saw him putting the real label to his mouth once. Coincidence?

lundi, novembre 02, 2009

Beyond mouldy cheese and heart shaped clouds

I have problems getting shoes due to my small feet. As winter approaches, I wanted to equip my feet with a pair of heeled ankle boots. I found a few addresses on internet and on saturday, our mission was "Mom buying shoes".

We decided to go to the shoe shop at rue de Provence at Paris 9th district. As Galleries Lafayette Gourmet was along the way, we stopped by there to appreciate the delicious food. Seb and I adore this place. There are tasting bars, restaurants and deli counters. One could buy bread from Kayser bakery or pasteries from Dalloyau, have an Italian ham sandwich with a glass of white wine, drink (expensive) freshly squeezed fruit juice, buy some foie gras or cavier. And the list goes on. The food variety is international. My favourite deli counter is chinese. The food are fresh and tasty. Seb's favourite counter is cheese. We saw this really mouldy cheese.

Here's a closer look of it. This is beyond me. I doubt I will ever be able to put this in my mouth even with the surface scrapped off. Would you?

Paris is a city of surprise. One should always bring out the camera even if one lives in Paris.
Did you notice two heart shaped clouds in the photo above? For an obvious view, see the photo below. Heart shaped clouds were being blown out of a box planted in the middle of a street in Paris. Everyone was taking photos with their handphones. Really funny.

It was a fruitful day as I managed to get my boots and we had a lovely time walking from Saint Lazare to Les Halles. The next day, we went to Saint Michel area after church but as the weather report predicted, it was a rainy day. I guess saturday was the last day of warm autumn.

dimanche, octobre 25, 2009

All in a day's work (maybe two)

I went London for a worktrip on wednesday. It was an overnight affair and it was the first time I was away from baby A. To make things difficult, baby A was sick. As winter approached, a lot of people were down with cold. We could not make a quick appointment with the doctors. They were either fully booked for the next two weeks or the timing was not right. There was a doctor near our place who started at 6am. Seb brought baby A there at 6.15am and there was already 7 people before him. While I reached London via Eurostar at 8.30am, baby A just finished his consultation with the doctor. He had a little fever and Seb had to stay at home with him for the day.

The next day, baby A was well enough to go to the infant care center. If he still had fever, baby A's grand-father would have to come from Chartres to pick him up for an overnight stay there. This was because Seb had a meeting in Belgium and could not cancel it.

We both returned to Gare du Nord at around the same time. 8pm. I rushed home to pick up baby A from the nanny. As the infant care center closed early at 6.15pm, we had a nanny to occasionally fetch baby A from the infant care center at 5pm. We would then pick him up from the nanny's place (just a floor down from my appartment) at 7pm.

It was a very tiring 2 days for us. As economy is picking up, Seb and I have to start travelling again. As I am writing this, Seb just arrives in Amsterdam. I will be alone with baby A for 2 days. Hats off to single moms. I will never be able to stay zen if I had to take care of baby A alone. I am really thankful to Seb for his 100% participation as a dad. Bisous papa!

dimanche, octobre 18, 2009

Half Marathon

Last year, I witnessed the Saint Denis Half Marathon from my balcony. Today, I witnessed it again. It was pretty entertaining watching men and women; fat or thin, tall or short, young or old enjoying their passion. RUNNING. The slim and tall men were the ones heading the race.
On two occasions, I saw wheelchair bounded person being pushed by his running partner. The runners moved forward in a silent procession. Only once did I hear two ladies chatting while running.

We are not a family of runners. Seb and I have no interest in jogging or running at all. In fact, we detest jogging. I very much preferred watching people running pass my balcony on a good sunny day. I tried to get baby A to watch the runners but he only noticed the flowers on the balcony and tried to put them in his mouth. At the moment, nothing interest him except things that he could put in his mouth. Well, so be it.

mercredi, octobre 07, 2009

My feet

I used to think that I had beautiful feet. I mean my toes looked decent and the overall shape of my feet was "correct".

This is the state of my feet 1.5 months after the accident. New skin has grown on my left foot but that area is still sensitive.

I thank God that the weather in France is warmer than it should be at this time of the year. I am able to wear open toes shoes even until now which was never possible in my 6 years stay in France.
Since we wear cover shoes 10 months in a year over here, it is easier to accept the fact that I only have a beautiful foot now.

BTW, aren't the footwear pretty? Thanks to Elena!

dimanche, octobre 04, 2009

A new chapter

Baby A has been at the infant care since a week. Things are going well. Our lives have settled into a comfortable routine.
Baby A is at 4 feeds of milk per day. He usually starts his day at 7.30am with 210ml of milk. At the infant care, he drinks at around 11.30am of 180ml of milk. Tea time is between 4 to 5pm with a fruit compote and 180ml of milk. At home, he would drink 210ml around 9pm before sleeping through the night.
My first week of work was slow and steady except for a bad news that really disturbed my state of mind. My colleague passed away suddenly on tues morning. I returned to work on monday and we talked a little. He asked what was the "saucisse" (sausage) that I brought to office. I explained that it was the famous pineapple tarts from Singapore (Bengawang Solo). I was saddened by his demise. So was everyone else in office.
Back to our home affairs.....
A new chapter has started with Baby A going to the infant care. Me starting work. Seb continuing his work. Despite extra domestic workload, we are coping well. Of course, I have less time and inspiration to post new entry. I do love to write. But at the moment, I spend whatever free time I have to update on baby A's journal. It will be great to keep track when he starts to flip, his reaction to compote, etc....

mercredi, septembre 23, 2009

Claiming 'GST' or 'VAT' from shopping in EU

A friend asked if it was possible to claim tax rebates in London on purchases done in Paris. I remembered Ian telling me that it was possible but troublesome. So I dropped him a message via Facebook and he sent me this long email. Very kind of him.

I thought this info might be useful for other travellers. So here's the copy and paste email with authorisation to publish from the owner. Thanks Ian!

Ok... There are 2 ways for declaring the goods that you want to claiming the 'GST' (VAT), and then after declaring them, there are 2 ways of claiming back the money. (This is based on what I saw and gone through at LV in France, and leaving Europe (EU) via London Heaththrow) as the last port. It must only be claimed from the last port, and yes UK is part of EU especially for this reason.

After buying the goods, you will need to get the vendor to provide the tax invoice, plus fill out all the details to the vendor(retail shop).The vendor should also provide a self addressed envelope (reputableones).

At this point, I suggest you first write down on a piece of paper, some details of what you are claiming, from where, the currency (Euro orPounds), the invoice numbers, and the values and what you believe are the claim back amounts. You may have more than 1 item to claim, and writing these and totalling them up before going to the airport, will save you a lot of hassle. Plus, when you go home and check credit card/bank statements.

At London Heaththrow, you can:
Method 1 for declaring goods) "If the item is too big, and need to check in to plane's cargo" Method.You need to arrive really early and queue in a damn long queue to declare the goods with Tax Refund Counter, with the invoice, which is located before check-in counters (i.e. located before going through customs). After Tax Refund Counter Officer checks goods and rubber stamps the invoice (you must make sure they do this!), you can then either mail the invoice back to the vendor, or go to "Travelex (orsimilar)".

Method 2 for declaring goods) "If the item is hand-carry-able, and no need to check in to plane's cargo" Method.You can checkin and clear customs first. There is ANOTHER Tax Refund Counter after checkin, which is normally shorter, because a lot of people either don't know about this counter, or their items are too large or dangerous to hand-carry, and had to checkin to the plane's cargo. BUT, to do this method, you MUST hand carry the item, and show the Tax Refund Officer your goods. Obviously, this is the same as method1 above as well, so as to prove to the officers what you are claiming.Again, please make sure they rubber stamp the invoice. Again, same as above, after Tax Refund Counter Officer checks goods and rubber stamps the invoice, you can then either mail the invoice back to the vendor, or go to "Travelex (or similar)".

Ok, you have declared the goods, now the money....

Alternative 1 for claiming back the money) If doing the mailing method,remember to buy a UK stamp with enough value to send it back to the country of the vendor. (For me that was sending it back to LV, so I had to buy a stamp with suitable value at a post office.) You should buy a stamp before going to the airport if you decide to do this, because you don't want to go to another queue to post office .. Etc.. Whilst rushing to checkin in one of the busiest airport in the world (Heathrow)! Then just drop it into the mailbox!

Alternative 2 for claiming back the money) If you want the cash back immediately, then you can take the rubber stamped invoice and the credit card (the same one you used to buy the product), to Travelex or one of these finance companies. I didn't go through this method, but I think they take a fee from your claim. You get the money back on your card,but the queue to this is quite long. You can do this alternative both before customs checkin, or after customs checkin. But both queues are very very long. Maybe they did not remember to buy the UK stamp?? But especially if your VAT claim back value is small, and you don't have to depend on the money to live for the next few days... I don't see the point of giving these finance companies the business.

My Thoughts....Heathrow is really really busy and packed full of people. Although they are trying to make things as quick as possible, it's the volume of travellers, communication barriers, and the lack of space that is making it so congested. It give opportunities for pickpockets, and other hassles like long queues. Hence, I personally prefer the least hassle method, because I don't want to risk running late for the plane.So, I pre-bought a stamp, did the hand-carry method of declaring tax,and put my claim in the mail. Even this quick method, took me half hour minimum. Clearly, depending on time of day of departure flights, these queues may get shorter, or longer!

Hope that helps.... I know its wordy.. But seriously its not that difficult.

lundi, septembre 21, 2009

Safe at home

We reached France on Friday morning. I extended a week of our stay in Singapore upon my doctor's recommendation. The travel insurance took care of our needs and booked us new tickets with Air France. I would love to travel with Singapore Airlines but all seats were taken up.

Baby A and I travelled on business class. Though the seats were smaller than the ones I saw in SQ's A380, I was grateful for the extra leg room and the reclinable seat. Baby A did not want to stay in his cot and would only sleep on me throughout the 12.5 hours journey.

As I had medical assistance, an airport staff with a wheelchair was waiting for me at the airport. However, I was not allowed to carry my boy while in the wheelchair. So we put my hand luggages on the wheelchair and I walked with my boy in the baby carrier. CDG's terminal 2E is huge and we had to walk really far to catch a skytrain to the baggage area and arrival hall. There was no trolley in sight. So if your hand carry bags did not come with wheels, you had to lug your bags for a long distance. At the immigration counter, the queue was super long. I was glad that we could cut all the queue as I was given priority. Looking at the queue, it could take me at least an hour to reach the counter.

I would not advise anyone to arrive in Paris at terminal 2E. Even the airport staff wondered how anyone could design such a messy terminal. I would be lost if not for the airport staff. Who would have thought of walking a distance to take a skytrain to reach the luggage bags and exit!

Further more, in CDG, strollers were not brought up to the door of the plane upon arrival. Parents would have to collect them at a different baggage belt. Unlike in Changi Airport, baby A's stroller was waiting for him once we got out of the plane. It was a breeze touching down in Singapore.

Baby A cried a lot on friday but he has returned to his cheerful self the next day. This week, we are starting his adaptation at the infant care center. We will start a new routine of normal working life with baby. For the moment, good bye vacation.

mercredi, septembre 09, 2009

I'm surrounded by kind people

My first 2 weeks in Singapore saw me being confined to my mom's place but had opened my eyes to the many kindness surrounding me.

I thank God for my friends. Almost everyday, I had friends coming to visit me. The fridge was soon full of fruits and cakes that I had to tell my visitors not to bring anything. I am so touched by everyone's concern.

Rachel was my chauffeur on two occasions when we were invited to Diana's gathering and a brunch at PS Cafe. Due to my wounds, I was not able to fit into any shoes except my TEVA sandals. Knowing that, Elena went out of the way to look for suitable shoes for me and finally found a pair. It was not an easy task looking for a size 3 and with a specific design to avoid any contact with the wound. And the best thing was, she brought the shoes to me at 10.30pm yesterday. Hey, God must have told her I need presentable shoes to go with the black dress that I intended to wear for Diana's ROM ceremony today. The shoes given by Elena were perfect! What a sweet, unexpected surprise. The size fits; they were black and very comfortable.

During meet-ups with friends, all of them watched out for me and made sure I won't accidentally knock my foot on random things by clearing the path. I am so touched. Being away for so many years, we are never not out of touch. This is real friendship. Thank you my friends.

Toy rental

Before coming to Singapore, I checked out the toy rental services available. I am surprised with the number of websites offering toys at affordable rent. Here is the list:

I got a bumbo baby sitter and a bouncer from one of the above sites. Delivery
was free for an order of $35 and above. It definitely beats having to lug items from France to keep baby A entertained for a month.

mercredi, septembre 02, 2009

My boy can turn

One thing good about staying at home all the time is being able to observe my boy's development. He is able to turn himself over today. Finally! He has been trying this since he arrives in Singapore. I guess my mom's bed is big enough for him to rotate and turn.
Baby A's grandma teached him how to hold the milk bottle and blow his nose. Of course, he can only hold on to his milk bottle when he is about to finish it as it is lighter.
Baby A also starts to babble some new sounds. They are slightly higher in pitch.

I managed to do short video clips on the above actions. Seb was able to see on direct his son turning via Skype. Technology is amazing. We are so far, yet so near. Speaking of which, I am so near, yet so far. I am in Singapore but has not visit anywhere in Singapore yet. I'm thinking about extending my stay here.....

vendredi, août 28, 2009

Still home bound

It seems like I am doing my second confinement here in Singapore. I have been here since a week and has not visited anywhere.

My foot is getting better and the wounds are slowly drying up. Still, I cannot go out as my foot is swollen and I can't walk properly. I am glad that I brought books here to read. There is also WII for us to play at home.

Baby A is getting used to the weather. At 4 months old, he is trying to turn over on the bed. He manages to turn his body but he does not know how to place his arm underneath so it is stuck. We have to help him and my mom is watching him closely.

All my friends find baby A cute and I find all their babies cute too. Babies, they all grow so fast. I guess this is the time we find our children the cutest.

samedi, août 22, 2009

Freak accident happens

How heavy is a car? Very heavy indeed but not enough to crush my toes. Thank God!

This morning, my left foot got run over by a car. The car stayed on my foot for some seconds before moving forward to release my foot. The following events happened as it should; rushed to nearby clinic for consultation, took 2 panadols, sent to Changi Hospital by ambulance, consulted the doctor at A&E, took an X-ray to assert the situation. No bones broken. Dressed up the wounds, retreived the medication, paid the bill and left home. My brother was with me all the time and Elena came and fetched us home. I shall not dwell into the details of the accident. It was after all a freak accident and no one is to be blamed.

I was conscious through out the whole ordeal and at one time, even found it funny as I could not decide if the red on my toes were my nail polish or blood. I am sure I will be a little depress upon seeing the state of my toes when the bandages are removed.

I am not able to walk properly. I called up my credit card company as I paid my air tickets with them and travel insurance was included by default. They were really proactive, calling me from France to check on my situation and offering to help me in any ways possible. That includes getting assistance to get out of the country if necessary and paying up front for my hospitalisation bill. I needed none of that. We shall see if I am apt to travel alone back with baby A in 3 weeks time. Good thing that the accident happened in the beginning of my visit and not at the end. I will have forced rest at the comfort of my mom's home.

I was also impressed with the efficiency of the medical team here. The paramedics assured me and updated me on my situation throughout the ambulance journey and the hospital staff were professional. Many thanks go to Elena and Carmen who helped greatly and also to well wishes from friends and relatives who came visit. We held a mini-celebration for baby A's home-coming to Singapore this afternoon. Yes, the SHOW MUST GO ON!

jeudi, août 13, 2009

Paris in August

Each July/August, part of the quay is closed to make way for Paris Plage (Paris beach). We went for a walk along the quay and was surprised that there was not many people on a weekend. It was pleasant walking along the banks of the Seine. The Paris Plage had lots of actitives and they were free of charge. The sun benches were all taken up. There were tai ji classes, massages, gym machines, water sprinklers etc....

After exiting from the quay, we walked along rue Saint Honoré and saw a Barbie foot in a boutique. It was so cool.

I'm sure any guy who is a baby foot fan will go crazy over it.

lundi, août 10, 2009


We went visiting Compiegne for the first time last saturday. Compiegne is about an hour's drive north of Paris. I know of this city only because Jessie's parents-in-law live there. Other than that, I know nothing else.

The highway roads were classified 'black' on saturday as it was the day of the "grand depart de vacances". Everyone was heading south for their summer vacation. Going up north, the highway road was smooth flowing and we mostly saw dutch and german cars heading home after their vacation in France.

Upon arriving in Compiegne, we easily found a public parking lot. The town was quiet. It was definitely not a vacation destination in August. Most shops were closed. There was an open market and we bought 2 artichokes. Seb and I loved to visit fresh food market. After lunch, we walked up to the castle and visited the castle's park. The castle looked well maintained but I only noticed a tour bus. As for the castle's park, it was calm. There was hardly anyone.
As in any outing, a little shopping for me obliged. As it was the post-sale season, Okaidi was having extra promotion. Buy an item and the second item was at 2€ and the third article at 1€. I got 3 sets of summer clothes for my boy. At Petit Bateaux, I bought lots of body suits. For the moment, I have enough clothes for my boy until the end of the year.
As usual, baby A slept throughout the trip except during his feed. I guess I will visit Compiegne again. We saw a museum of figurines and were sure that Angel would be interested to visit it. We will come with him when he visits us again.

mardi, août 04, 2009

Angel's visit

Angel had been in france several times this year due to work. We met up again in july as his schedule permitted. I invited him over to our place for lunch and cooked him a simple meal with tomatoes and mozarella as entrée and lor bak(braised meat) as main dish. After lunch, we visited the Cité Université and Parc Montsouris. I always wanted to visit this area of Paris. Cité Université was basically a big hostel for foreign students studying in Paris. There were many different buildings with an international theme. There were the Japan house, the Canada house, Brazil house, India house etc...
As for Parc Montsouris, it was crowded as with any park in Paris on a sunday. There were playgrounds and amusement rides for children. There was also little pony rides available. We had a pleasant time strolling in the park.

We met up Angel again a few days later for a falafel dinner at rue des Rosiers in the third district of Paris. It rained heavily during the evening. Still, we had a good time. Angel was kind enough to help me bring back 2 tins of milk powder. My boy and I will be in Singapore soon and I appreciate Angel's gesture to help lighten my luggage bag.

lundi, août 03, 2009

Singapore day goodies bag

Sam gave me a goodie bag from the recent Singapore day event held in London. Thanks a lot Sam. As I wrote earlier, I missed out on the event as it was near my delivery date.
Look, there's a lot of "I love Sg" stuff. There's a cloth bag, a t-shirt, a CD of swing, an eraser, a pin, a picnic mat, a black diary and a paper ball that I used to play. Most of all, I like the "Chope" wet-tissue pack. It is so Singaporean.

vendredi, juillet 17, 2009

Sam's second visit

It had been a year since Sam's visit. This year, he came again during Bastille Day. We met up for lunch on 14 July and for tea, we stopped by La Durée. It seems that we are keeping up with tradition.

This time round, Sam brought along his friend Ian who was visiting him from Australia. We had a delightful time chatting and Ian took some beautiful photos of baby A.

The next day, history repeated itself when Sam missed his flight. This time round, there were problems on a few train lines including RER B which goes to the airport. I myself was affected on the way home after work. Due to the hot summer, there was bush fire along the rail line. Sam was stuck at Gare du Nord and the taxi queue was way too long. He came over to our place for the night. I actually remembered teasing him just the day before "Hey, don't miss your flight this time round, ok?" Guess Paris loves him too much.

Full time working mom

I am back at work this week. My friends in Facebook thought that was fast. Indeed, it is fast. Well, in France, maternity leave is 16 weeks. 6 weeks pre-natal followed by 10 weeks post-natal. A preggie can choose to go on leave just 3 weeks before the estimated delivery date. I was given 2 weeks sick leave before the start of my 6 weeks pre-natal leave. Baby A arrived 2 weeks earlier. Hence I start work when he is 13 weeks old.
I do enjoy my job and I have great colleagues. So it is not too difficult to leave baby A at home. At the moment, Seb is taking care of baby A. He took 4 weeks of leave with the 11 days paternity leave included. He is enjoying his time with his "mini me". After which, I will be on 7 weeks leave. It is very kind of my company to allow this exception. I still have 3 weeks of unused leave from last year. This year, I still have 6 weeks of leave. I am taking this opportunity to spend 3 weeks in Singapore. I am looking forward to this trip on SQ A380. I just hope that baby A will take it easy on his maiden flight.
By late September, baby A will join the child care center nearby our place. We are very fortunate to have a place there as the waiting list is very long. However, it closes by 6.15pm which is really early. Seb and I will have to organise our working hours. He will drop baby A at the child care center and I will go pick him up after work.
So far, we are doing fine with our new family addition. He is a good boy and we really enjoy his presence though we wish we could sleep more.

vendredi, juillet 10, 2009

We went Champagne to buy champagne

Reims is the city in Champagne and is accessible from Paris in 45mins by TGV. Since we would like to visit the countryside, we decided to drive over. For the first part of the day, we visited the uptown of Reims.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims is famous as the place where kings were traditionally crowned. While having lunch, Seb called up some Champagne Houses to check if we could visit the cellar. We made an appointment with the champagne house, Ployez-Jacquemart.

During the hour guided visit of the cellar that was 25 meters underground, we learnt the process of making champagne. In the cool cellar, there were tens of thousands of champagne bottles waiting to be appreciated. I was carrying baby A on the baby carrier and he must be the youngest person to ever visit the cellar. After the visit, we were invited to drink some champagne. I bought half a dozen of bottles as I am doing a "pot de naissance" at my office.

The countryside of Champagne was very green. There was vineyards everywhere. As it was spring, the grapes were still small.
If you are planning to visit champagne but has no car, there is always tour bus leaving from Reims to bring you on the champagne winegrowers route. Just check out this site.

lundi, juillet 06, 2009

Plane crashes

Recently, France was hit by two sad aviation news.

About a month ago, an Air France plane flying from Brazil to France fell into Atlantic Ocean. The 200 plus people on board all perished. It seems that the speed sensors for the Airbus 330 was at fault during the stormy weather. Air France had since then replaced all the speed sensors of this airbus. A brother of an acquaintance we knew was among the passengers. Though we do not know the person, we felt sorry for the man's family.

And when we were sending my mom off at CDG airport last tuesday, there was a crowd forming at the information counter. Airport officials were present too. Seb was already guessing that there was another crash. In the car on the way home, we heard from the radio that a plane heading to the Comoros Islands had crashed into the sea. Only one teenager girl had survived. There is a huge comoros community in France and the people are upset. The Yemenia Airbus 310 is banned from France as it fails in the routine maintenance checks. What happened was that the passengers boarded on a Yemenia Airbus A330-200 from France and at the Yemen airport, they were transferred to the Airbus 310 heading for Comoro. I bumped into the guardian of our residence today and during our greetings, he shared with me that his younger brother was on that fateful flight. He left behind his wife and a 18 month old baby. I felt so sad for him. He added that since 8 years, the Comoro people has constantly requested the authority to do something about this "avion poubelle" (rubbish plane). Originally from Comoro, he had took this plane once to visit his family. He prayed very hard during the flight from Yemen to Comoro as the state of the plane made him scared. Now, he travels only with Air France to go Comoro.

In France, a black list of airline companies exist. Usually these blacklisted companies offer low-cost flights. As people travels more frequently, it is hard to resist to such offers.

And as usual, as I dwell into these tragedies, my husband has a way of breaking the ambiance. He mentioned that these losses are just a tiny fraction of the number of road victims in France each year. Well, he is right. Good thing that news casters only sensationalize plane crashes. If they do that on road accidents too, I had to throw the television away to avoid being depressive.

jeudi, juin 25, 2009

The red windmill

Who has not heard of Moulin Rouge in Paris? Knowing that mom will enjoy such show, I got us 2 tickets for an evening of fun and entertainment.

Each evening, there are two shows available. The first at 9pm and the second at 11pm. Dinner is available as an option for the first show. Since mom is not into french food and I don't eat foie gras, we just went for the show. At the table, each person is given half a bottle of champagne.

We reached there early and was seated in the middle of the hall. Though we did not have a close up view, we did have an unblocked view of the whole stage.

The 1hour and 45minutes show was entertaining. Beside dancing and singing, there were also other stage performers like jugglers, acrobats, voice dubbing comedian ... There was not a dull moment.

There was a mixture of topless and non-topless dancers. Not all the doriss girls were well endowed. Some had rather small breasts. But one thing for sure, the ladies all had flat tummy. What an envie!

The beautiful costumes made all dancers looked elegant. There were so many costumes and there were so many actions going on that we had no time to admire all the costumes. Though the ticket did not come cheap, we find the evening enjoyable and think it was worth every penny.

mercredi, juin 24, 2009

The garden at Giverny

After seeing Claude Monet's master pieces at Museum d'Orsay, I had wanted to visit his garden at Giverny. Beside being an impressionist artist, Claude Monet was also a vivid gardener. He had made le jardin de Giverny his subject in some paintings.

With the good weather last wednesday, I drove up to Giverny with my mom and baby A to visit Monet's garden. The garden has two parts. One in the house compound and the other one across the road. The first one is full of flowers while the other one has willow trees, bamboo trees and other green plants surrounding a pond and a little stream.

Mom and I enjoyed the lovely garden. We did not visit the interior of Monet's house as there were stairs and not stroller friendly. Baby A slept throughout the visit except during feeding time. I guess the only thing he saw was the big shady tree where we were resting.

The staff at the garden were friendly. I saw many tourists from England, America, Japan and China. We easily spent more than two hours in the garden though it was not very big. I guess the best time to visit the garden is now though it is open from march to november.

jeudi, juin 18, 2009

Chateau Chambord

Since mom is here, she has not done much sight seeing. Of course, her aim this time round is to take care of her grandson. And having been here 4 times, she has seen the major attractions of Paris. Still, I felt bad for not bringing her around and decided to visit Chateau Chambord togather.

We left early on saturday and after almost 2 hours drive (with a feeding stop for baby A), we arrived just in time for lunch at the domaine. Seb carried the baby in the baby carrier as a pushchair was not convenient with all the stairs in the castle. The entrance fees was 9,50€.

The chateau is famous for its double-helix staircase right in the middle of the hall. It also has lots of huge fireplaces. It is the biggest chateau in the Loire valley (there are many along the river Loire). Mom got all excited when she saw swifts/swallows flying around. She was wondering if there were lots of bird nests around. My mom!
After visiting the chateau, we wanted very much to visit the next pretty chateau, Chateau Chenonceau. However, after stopping along the way to feed baby A, we decided to head back home. It would take us 3 hours to drive back home and it was getting late.

As usual, baby A slept throughout the trip except during feeding time. I came to realise that each time we go out, he would sleep. Mom will be here for another 2 weeks and we are going to make the best out of her remaining stay to visit other things. Stay tune to my blog for more updates.

jeudi, juin 04, 2009

On Bumwear and Sock Ons

I will have to keep this post short. Being a new mom is more than a full time job. I hardly have time to myself despite having my mom around. But as the weeks pass, I am better organised and can squeeze some minutes to consecrate to my blog.

Baby A is growing well. I asked mom to bring some washable diapers and recently started to use these diapers on baby A. I ordered these diapers from Bumwear. It looks bulky and I waited until baby achieved 4kg before trying on him. I only use it on him during the day and when the weather is warm. It is not possible to put a body suit over the bumwear diaper during cold days. These diapers are a long term investments as they can last until baby A is toilet trained. I remembered when I asked Seb what color he preferred, he told me to get 10 of the same color - white. Huh? I got 10 of them in different colors. It would be so boring to only have one color.

In the photo above, baby A is wearing a Bumwear and also Sock Ons. Sock Ons is the little thing that helps to keep baby A's socks on. He is not able to kick out his socks thanks to my neighbour who ordered it from UK.

There are so many innovative baby products out there. So far, I am satisfied with my purchases. I am trying to be reasonable. Tomorrow, we will have to shop for a new pram. The hand-me-down pram is 9 year old and showing signs of wear and tear. Maybe my next post will be on the pram. If you are expecting subjects apart from baby stuff, at the moment, I have nothing else to offer you. I do hope very much to write a post about travels and vacations soon. But that is in my KIV tray......

samedi, mai 23, 2009

A lovely card about Votre petit garçon

Baby A has been receiving lovely gifts and cards. I just love the text of this particular Hallmark card given by Seb's god-parents. I find it really meaningful and heart-warming. Here it is in french. Sorry, I have no time to translate it into english.
En le comblant d'amour et en lui offrant ce qu'il faut pour s'épanouir,
les parents donnent à leur enfant des racines solides et des ailes pour s'envoler.
Comme il est mignon! A peine vient-il de faire son entrée chez vous que vous étes déjà complètement fous.
Et chaque fois que vous le tenez au creux de vos bras, vous sentez votre coeur s'emplir d'une douce chaleur.
Il ne le sait pas encore, mais il a une chance inouïe, car il a des parents en or...
Par l'amour qu'il recevra de vous, il apprendra l'importance des ses racines et, par la confiance que vous lui donnerez, il apprendra à voler de ses propres ailes, non pas pour s'éloigner de vous, mais pour s'élancer vers une vie heureuse et belle.

samedi, mai 02, 2009

9 months are finally over

Today is my estimated delivery date. However, baby A decided to arrive early. He was borned 11 days earlier and weighed a mighty 3.340kg at 50cm. He is really the average size french baby but with regards to my petite frame, he is considered big for me. I did have a difficult time pushing him out. My mid-wife was telling me that my bed rest was too long and I should have given birth earlier. Well, I will know better next time.

I left the clinic on saturday and just nice, my mom arrived at 7am on this day. She is a great help to us. It's been a week since we are home. Baby A is growing well. As with all new borns, he lost 10% of his weight within the first few days. Now he is steady gaining weight and is at 3.150kg. He drinks well and sleeps well during the day. At night, it is more difficult putting him to bed.

Bao Bei is accepting baby A quite alright. She tends to tip-toe around him. In the above pic, Bao Bei was just watching over baby A. As new parents, we are tired due to the lack of sleep. For me, I feel like "la vache qui rit" (the laughing cow), just feeding and feeding.

lundi, avril 13, 2009

Easter and prawn mee

It was Easter. Usually, we would spend the long weekend (monday is a holiday) at Seb's parents place watching our nephews searching for eggs in the garden. This year however, we just spent our weekend at home.

Since baby is due in 3 weeks time, I decided to cook prawn mee. Conforming to the confinement practise, I can't eat prawns after giving birth for at least a month. And I love prawns. This was the first time I made prawn noodles. I used the Prima Taste package and found the soup to be too sweet for my taste. I doubt I will cook this again. I prefer the Prima mee-siam.

After dinner, I was craving for chocolate. Once said, my neighbour knocked on our door and gave us an easter egg. It was lovely. Seb and I did not wait long to break up this lovely rooster egg.

I wish everyone a happy easter.

mercredi, avril 08, 2009

Balcony updates

Spring is here and my balcony looked so bare. The flower boxes were empty and waiting to be filled with flowers. I just could not resist the temptation. On Sunday, Seb and I went to Truffaut to get some flowers.

I had never seen Truffaut so crowded before. Everyone was buying plants and flowers and the queue for the cashiers snaked almost all the way to the end of the shop. I got geraniums for the row of flower boxes. As April can still have cold nights, I chose geraniums that were in buds and not blooming yet. They should last the whole summer until mid-autumn.

My pot of wilted Azalee looked so depressing. Last winter was too cold and I did not cover it in time.
This time round, I replaced the pot with Cineraire. There were many different varieties of colors available. We chose this color to go with the pot.

Seb helped me with the heavy tasks while I planted the flowers. It felt good to be out on the balcony with the sunny weather.

These two days, it had been rainy. The flowers are adjusting well to their new environments.

I do hope to enjoy dining at the balcony before baby arrives and me being confined indoors during the confinement period.

vendredi, avril 03, 2009


Since discovering that I was pregnant, I had to do blood test each month to check if I was infected with toxoplasmosis during these 9 months. Most countries (including Singapore) do not make these blood test complusory but in France, pregnant women who have never contracted this disease are routinely screened for toxoplasmosis. This disease can be fatal for the unborn baby if the mother gets it during pregnancy.

Most Asian women are not immuned to this disease as we do not have the culture of eating raw meat or semi-cooked meat. Also, we hardly eat salads. Food wise is not a problem for me as I make sure that all meat are well done and that I avoid salads. Fruits have to be washed and peeled.

Cat's faeces can also contain the disease (for a few weeks) if the cat had been in contact with infected birds/mice (through hunting). Seb and I are very cautious on this point. Poor Bao Bei has not been to Chartres since many months as we do not want her to go into my in-laws' garden. Seb has been cleaning her litter box every morning. When Seb was away on work trips, I would clean Bao Bei's litter box with gloves. I wash my hands every time I carress her. She still sleeps with us every night at our feet. This is a habit since she was a kitten so it was not possible to keep her out of our bedroom.

Gardening is also a big NO as soil can contain this disease. Though we doubt that the little pots on our balcony contain the parasite, I just avoid gardening totally. During winter, it was still bearable. But now that spring is here and I am at home, I am dying to go Truffaut to buy flowers for my bare balcony. If baby is here in May, I won't have time to do planting.

Each month, we waited with suspense on the blood test result and so far so good. I am still toxoplasmosis negative. Thank God! Once baby is here, I will start to eat more half-cooked meat and salads. I do hope to get this disease and be immuned to it.

jeudi, mars 26, 2009

Missing cats in airports

Since staying at home, I had been watching 30 millions d'amis, a TV programme about animals.

Today, one of the reports was on missing cats in airports. I never thought of travelling with Bao Bei on a plane but apparently, there were people who checked in their cats on a plane. Some never see their cats again.

Some cats managed to escape from their cages because the cages were damaged during transportation from the baggage check-in to the plane. Others escaped because the airport workers opened the cage to caress the animals. This was constated by 2 owners when they found the cages opened and everything else was intact.

These domestic cats became stray cats trapped in the runway of the airport. They had to find their own food and avoid being run over by planes or other airport vehicles.

A woman was travelling from France to Africa and upon arrival, was told that her cat had disappeared. After 48 hours, the airline company told her that the chance of finding her cat was slim. She was compensated 20€ per kg for her lost cat. The airline company considered the cat as a lost baggage! How sad isn't it?

An association for cats put up traps in the airport landing field hoping to catch some of these escaped cats. And this lady's cat was found in one of the traps after a year. This was a miracle case.

Another woman was travelling from France to Reunion with her cat. Her cat escaped at the french airport. The cat was reportedly seen by the airport personnels but no one could catch the cat. CDG is a big airport with many runways and hectares and hectares of fields. In September, foxes were introduced into the airport fields to get rid of the growing number of rabbits. After that, there was no more sign of her cat. She assumed that her cat had been a victim of the foxes.

There were many other such stories and the worst is that the airline companies do nothing to improve the situation. When contacted by reporters on the number of lost animals, the airline companies were not able to answer as they treated lost animals as lost baggages.

Here I am sitting and typing while watching Bao Bei plays by herself. Yeah, she throws up her mouse in the air and then jumps up to catch it or chases after it. Self-entertaining and really funny. I can't imagine losing my silly cat at the airport.

Oh, her birthday is coming soon. She will turn 5 on April's day.

mercredi, mars 18, 2009

Bed rest for the next 2 weeks

I am told to have complete bed rest for the next two weeks. Baby boy is ready to meet the world but he is still small at 2kg400g. We will try to keep him warm and grow fatter in me.
So in the meanwhile, I will blog less. Will just relax and read books, watch TV and look at the lovely coming spring by the windows.

mardi, mars 10, 2009

Singapore Day 2009

I received an email a month ago inviting me to go for the Singapore Day 2009 which will be held in London. For once, it is going to be so near, only 2h20mins by Eurostar. I was all excited until I saw the date. 25 April. . . . . That is a week before my estimated delivery date. Doh! I would have to give it a miss.

The worst was, I dreamt about chwee kueh just a few days prior to receiving this email and there it was, a plate of chwee kueh staring at me. What kind of a joke is this. Anyway, my carving for chwee kueh is over. I do have to be careful with my weight gain.

If you do go for this event, enjoy yourself! Doubt anyone can tah-bao any food for me.....

lundi, mars 09, 2009

Home bound (Almost)

I am home bound until baby arrives. My last checkup at the gynaecologist showed that the baby was in the head-first position. That was a very good news and I do hope that he will not change position. However, my gynae advised me to stop work and to rest and lead a tranquille life until the arrival of baby.

I am given 2 weeks of medicial leave which will be followed by 6 weeks of pre-natal maternity leave. I do have the freedom to go out but bed rest is prescribed an hour in the morning and in the afternoon.

I told Seb yesterday that I will do a timetable for the next 8 weeks. He thought I was crazy. He told me to just spend the days at ease without having to follow a planning. But I can't. I need to organise my life even during leisure. I have a list of things to do but will of course rest and rest. I will also try to write more often. Everyone told me to enjoy this time before our bundle of joy arrives. :)

dimanche, février 22, 2009

Generosity of friends and passers

I have been receiving new and hand-me-down baby clothes and stuff from my friends in Singapore. It is heart warming that people go all their way out to have these items passed to me. Each package I collected required some logistics and planning.

Helios’s M from Herbiesphere is actually a friend of Claire. I have been following this blog for a long time before we realised that we had met once when I was invited by Claire to an outing with her friends. Helio’s M passed some baby stuff to Claire and Claire split the stuff into two packages. One, she passed to my friend Angel who was in Paris for work. The other, she passed it to a work friend of hers who was in Paris for leisure. I met up with her work friend at Gare du Nord when he was arrived from London to Paris by train. Of course, he was someone I never met before. It was really kind of him to do us a favour.

Next up was a package from my dear friend Moo Han. She recommended me to read the book “Supernatural Childbirth” and kindly sent a copy to me. At the same time, she added some baby clothes. Seb went to the post office to collect the registered package for me. It was a sweet surprise.

And most recently, I went to collect a package from a work colleague of Shirley who was in Paris for a seminar. Shirley, who is at the moment in a baking craze, prepared some baby clothes for me. You can find her bakes in Jellio & Jubilee.

I find Singaporeans strangers extremely helpful being passers.

Well, my blessing does not just end here. Sharon from Sound Bites, whom I know thru’ our common friend Mike, has somethings for me too. I am not aware of the details but it seems that her dad who is visiting her in Beijing will help pass the stuff to Mike when he returns to Singapore. And just nice, Mike plans to come Europe for a tour.

My sister-in-law had given us lots of baby clothes and stuff too. It is really amazing how kind and generous humans are; especially mothers. Thank you kind hearts and I really appreciate these gifts.

mardi, février 03, 2009

Bao Bei and illegal cats in Singapore HDB flats

Last Thursday, when I was not working, I decided to organise some random photos we had. While I was hard at work pasting the photos into the various photo albums, Bao Bei just popped up onto the dinning table and basked in the sunlight.

Jeudi dernièr, comme je ne travaillais pas, j'ai décidé d'organiser les photos. Pendant que j'étais en train de coller des photos dans les albums, Bao Bei a sauté sur la table à manger et s'est prélassée au soleil.

She looked so happy and contented to find some warmth in this cold winter.

Elle avait l'air si heureuse et contente d’avoir trouvé de la chaleur cet hiver.

The next day, I read in the singapore news that cats are illegal in HDB flats. I do have friends who kept cats in their HDB homes. This law is rather relaxed. Still, I find the reason given to be irrelevant.

Le lendemain, j'ai lu dans le journal de Singapour que les chats sont interdits dans les appartements publique. J'ai des amis qui ont des chats chez eux. Cette loi est assez souple. Quand même, je trouve que la raison donné est faible.

Extract from the news:

While Singapore's cat lovers want the "cat ban" lifted, as it was for small dogs three decades ago, authorities say it is necessary to avoid cat-related spats between neighbours.

"Our principal consideration is to preserve a pleasant living environment and good neighbourly relations," Singapore's HDB told Reuters in an emailed statement.

"We need to strike a balance between pet lovers and those who are more sensitive to the disturbances caused by animals."

HDB's website says banning cats, not dogs, is justified, as "they are nomadic in nature and are difficult to be confined".

In Paris, I know of many people who have cats in their appartments and I never hear of neighbours having disputes with cats over here. Actually, I did hear of neighbours here and in Singapore complaining about their neighbours' noisy dogs. Some untrained dogs can bark all day when the owners are out at work. They have to be taken out for walks and peep and shit in the public areas. No offence to dog owners. I love dogs as well. But the reasons given by the authorities on the ban of cats are just too lame.

A Paris, je connais beaucoup de gens qui ont de chats dans leurs appartements et je n'ai jamais entendu de problème entre les voisins à cause des chats. En fait, j'ai entendu des voisins ici et à Singapour qui se plaignent de chiens. Il y a des chiens qui aboient quand les maitres ne sont pas là. Il faut sortir les chiens pour qu'ils fassent leurs besoins dans un lieu public. J'aime les chiens. Mais les raisons données par Singapour sur l'interdiction de chats ne me convainquent pas.

jeudi, janvier 29, 2009

Massive strike

Today is France's black thursday. There are massive strikes in the public sectors. Public transports are greatly reduced. Air controllers are on strike leading to 30% of flights cancelled. Seb left yesterday evening for Italy as he had a meeting today. He was afraid that he could not leave for Italy this morning. I do hope that his return flight tonight takes off as scheduled.

As for me, I took a day off to avoid the traffic jam. My colleague had to take a day off to take care of her toddler as the child care center will be closed. The staff are not on strike but most of them come to work by public transport and would have difficulty getting to work in time and getting home after work.

Teachers are on strike too. Schools are closed and parents have to find alternative child care for the day. Judges are on strike too. I have a registered letter to collect from the post but I decided not to go anywhere today cos La Poste is on strike too!

I am not greatly affected by the strike except that I used up my last day off and had to wait until end of Feb to accumulate new ones. I felt that it is good that people can protest. Unlike in singapore where even two people who manifested were rounded up by the police. Maybe one day when I am greatly affected by the strikes would I change my mind.

lundi, janvier 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year

I wish all who celebrate this day a happy chinese new year. May the year of the ox brings you health and prosperity.
I brought some snacks to work today and everyone loves it. Yeah, I work on this really important day. This year, we did not celebrate chinese new year. It is due to the fact that I am having back ache and both of us are feeling tired. Seb is down with a cold. Over the weekend, we had a friend over for lunch and I cooked lor-bak (braised meat). She liked it. Cool. I put in mushrooms, pork belly, hard-boiled eggs and fried beancurd. I learnt this dish when I was in uni from a guy friend. I don't remember his name but I remember very well this cooking lesson he gave me.
On Sunday, Seb's father came and helped us paint the baby's room. Guess no one would do that on a chinese new year's eve. I fried noodles and made my favorite mustard veggie with roasted meat soup. And my father-in-law liked it. A few months ago, I made this soup and gave some to my neighbour. She loved it so much that she asked for the recipe. I gave her the ingredients recently and she made it for her mom. This morning, she told me that her mom loved the soup too. Maybe I should go start a chinese mustard soup shop.
After reading about friends and family having steamboat, I think I will do an impromptu steamboat tonight. This will be considered as my way of celebrating chinese new year!

PS: photo of steamboat.

jeudi, janvier 22, 2009

Yammy rice

I asked mom to buy me a bottle of yam rice paste the last time she came. It has been so long since I last had yam rice. Mom used to cook yam rice but I prefer those selling at some braised duck rice stalls in Singapore.

Last sunday, Seb and I went to Chinatown to do grocery shopping. As chinese new year is around the corner, the 13th district was full of asians. The traffic was messy with cars and humans all congesting along one street. I tried my best to grab the essentials and for the first time, I took a yam. I always thought it was difficult to clean yam but I was wrong. It was pretty easy. Below are the ingredients for the yam rice. Of course the rice was missing in the picture. There were the yam, some chinese mushrooms, dried shrimps and the yam paste.

And this is the end product. Though it did not look yummy, Seb liked it. And so did I. This is one easy one-pot meal. I only used up half the bottle of paste. I wonder if I could easily find yam in the supermarket here. If not, what can I use to subsitute the yam?

jeudi, janvier 15, 2009

Snow in Paris

Two tuesdays ago, it snowed almost the whole day in Paris. After that, the temperature stayed below zero degree for a week. As a result of this, Paris was covered in white except on the roads where car pollution quickly melted the snow.

The pavements were slippery and I was extra careful when walking around with Nicole. We walked a lot during the four days she was here and I was really tired out each night. Still, I had a good time with her. We went shopping as it was and stil is the winter sales and I bought some baby clothes.

We took a stroll in the Jardin de Luxembourg. It was the first time I saw the garden covered in snow. How lovely. At the fountain nearby the Eligse Saint Sulpice, some kids were having fun "skating" on the frozen water.

We stopped by Coolin's for hot chocolate instead of beer this time before heading to les Galeries nationales du Grand Palais for the exposition of "Picasso et les Maîtres". I liked it. Picasso was really talented though I did not like all his works. This temporary exposition ends soon and I highly recommend it even if you are not into Picasso. Buy the tickets in advance as the ticket queue for actual day visit is long.

lundi, janvier 12, 2009

Musical saw

I am in my Korean cuisine phase and Seb is in his Jazz music phase. What better way to spend a friday evening with our friends than having a Korean dinner at Bibimbap with a mini Jazz concert.

Nicole was visiting me from Munich and had never had Korean food. Her friend Liz came along and the last time I saw Liz was 2 years ago. We had a good dinner and each of us ordered a bibimbap set. The Jazz music was alright. Sometimes, it got a bit too loud for us to talk.

We all discovered a new musical instrument for the first time. It was the musical saw. It produced a surreal sound and the musician was able to play music on the saw using what looked like a violin bow. It was pretty amazing. I enjoyed the evening and I would say the same for the rest of my company. Food wise, Seb prefers L'Arbre de Sel. I shall continue my quest for good korean food.