lundi, février 24, 2014

Playmobil Fun Park

On Saturday, it was another rainy day. So we decided to visit the Playmobil Fun Park since it was indoors. I read from Tripadvisor that it was best to go in the morning to avoid the weekend crowd.
The indoor park is 2000m² big with all kinds of Playmobil toys. It was paradise for the boys. The entrance fees cost 2.50€ per person. That was pretty reasonable. And of course, to trap our wallets, to exit, everyone had to pass through the Playmobil boutique. We did tell the boys that we were here to play and not to buy anything.
Girls were mainly playing with princess castles and doll houses while boys had more choices.
There were ships of all kinds. Cargo ships with containers and ports. Pirate ships with treasure islands. Police boats and leisure boats. There were lots of fire engines.
There were fortress with knights and horses. There were animals and dinosaurs; cowboys and red indians. And many others. There were thousands of Playmobil figurines.

 There was also a snack bar that sold nuggets with fries. The usual stuff in a play house.
Indeed, there was not many people in the morning so there was no lack of toys for the children. There was also an organised game to save the wild life.

After staying for two hours, we left for lunch. A1 said he wanted to eat a sandwich so we had Subway. It was the first time we bought the boys sandwiches and they ate well.

 Seb would prefer to bring the boys to Woupi where they could spend their energy running, jumping and sliding away until they were dead tired. Still, this place is a good alternative. We would come back again. Maybe on another rainy day.


samedi, février 22, 2014

Beautiful feburary afternoon

This year's winter is mild. It did not snow at all unlike last year.
It rained heavily this morning so we visited the Playmobil FunPark. I will post about that later.
 In the afternoon, Seb brought A2 to catch a movie after his nap. A1 did not want to go. So we went outdoor. He cycled while I walked the dog. As it was sunny and the temperature was around 10degrees, I decided to let him paint in the garden.
I cleaned up the garden while he was painting. Then I took some photos of this lovely afternoon.

samedi, février 15, 2014

Chinese New Year lunch

The Chinese New Year lunch with the family took place today. It was postponed from last week as we were sick then.
Seb's family always look forward to the starter which is the Yu Sheng. I brought back a set when I was in Singapore recently. We had fun tossing and mixing the ingredients. A1 only ate the salmon.
For main, I prepared beef rendang, made Wu Xiang (minced meat and prawns wrapped in beancurd skin), fried potato cubes and hotdog in tomato sauce and stir fried vegatables with sea cucumber. Of course, there was steamed white rice to go with the dishes.
My mother-in-law could not take the spicy beef rendang. My nephews love the potato in ketchup sauce. Titi who is participating in the school trip to China this week was disappointed that the lunch was postponed. He was telling his brother he would miss this dish.  
 My brother-in-law was the last to try the sea cucumber. We explained to him that the sea cucumber was not a vegetable but a sea creature living on the seabed. We added that it looked like a fat caterpillar. That was enough for him to rush to the rubbish bin and spat out.
The cheese plate was passed around after. We then attacked my home made lemon meringue tart with champagne. Lastly, we served coffee with chocolates. We ate well and I was glad everyone enjoyed the food.
My visitors brought us flowers as is often the tradition in France when invited. Seb got me a bouquet of flowers yesterday. There is never too many flowers in a house.

Air France promotion

A few weeks ago, a friend told me that Air France was having a promotion. However, it was for the travel period of April to June. My mother is coming during the summer holidays which starts in July. I doubted there would be a promotion during the summer holiday so was prepared to pay the normal air fare for her trip here. 

Good news came yesterday when my sister-in-law told me that Air France had a promotion. I checked out the website without much hope. I entered the dates and was delighted to see that the flight would cost one thousand Singapore dollars. That was almost half the price of a normal ticket. I quickly booked the tickets for my mother. Thank God. Furthermore, she had a 200€ Air France voucher which made the air fare even cheaper. Now that the ticket is settled, I am looking forward to her coming to take care of the boys during the school holidays. 

As for the Air France voucher, the story goes way back to last year. My mother's flight from Singapore to Paris last April was delayed a total of 28 hours. She was supposed to arrive on a Saturday morning. On Sunday, we were having a birthday lunch for A1 and was counting on her to cook us a sumptous meal. However, at the airport, all the passengers were kept waiting for many hours. She arrived at 9pm at the airport for her flight at 11pm. She was told that the flight had a technical problem and would take off at 1am. She waited at the airport and finally at 3am, the flight was cancelled. She was offered a night's stay in a hotel or a taxi to bring her home. She chose to go home as she had frozen food in her luggage bag. She needed to pack them back in the freezer. Yes, my mother brings me frozen Singapore goodies. She slept only at 5am and the next evening, finally took off at a delayed timing again. When she arrived in France, it was already Sunday morning. We reached my house at 10am and she started to prepare chicken rice and the lunch. Her lugguage bag was opened in my kitchen as she had more food stuff than clothes in it. That is my super mother.
I wrote to Air France requesting for an indemnity for the delay and the stress my mother went through. Imagine travelling alone at a senior age and having to play the waiting game. She had to go around seeking information on when the plane would take off and kept waiting at the boarding gate area; finally to be told to get back the luggage bag and return home. It was an exhausting episode. That was how she received the 200€ Air France voucher valid for a year as a compensation.
My mother had her fair share of air travel experiences. She visited me often alone and had taken different airlines sometimes transitting in other countries. She had her luggage bag lost once with two artichokes in them. It went to Australia and was returned to her the next day. When the roof collapsed at one of the terminals in CDG airport, all planes arrived at another terminal and the baggage carousel was loaded with suitcases from several flights. My mother could not find her luggage bag as there were many tall people blocking her. She exited without her bag and told Seb to go help her find her bag. Amazingly, Seb was allowed to go into the airport baggage area with my mother and helped her retrieved her bag.

I hope for her coming trip, it would be smooth sailing.    

To end, a little promotion for Air France. This Air France offer is very attractive. So do check out Air France's website if you want to visit Europe anytime now.

mardi, février 11, 2014

What's cooking

I have been trying out new things in the kitchen recently. No photos here as the end results were not photogenic. Taste wise, they were pretty decent. They had all been eaten up. That's proof alright.

I went to Nasi Lemak Lover blog and tried out her Homemade Chinese Pork Jerky (Bak Kwa) 肉干. It came out too dark and too sweet. Still, A1 loved it and finished the pieces. Seb was surprised that I could make it and that it was just minced pork.

I also used my Thermomix and made pineapple tarts from scratch. With the thermomix, it was really easy to make the pineapple jam. As I do not have a cookie cutter, I made square shaped pineapple tarts. The tart base was pretty plain. It went well though with the pineapple jam topping. However, A1 just ate the jam and left the square tarts on the table. I shall improve on the tart.

Other than testing these Chinese New Year goodies, I achieved a new skill. A1's new sweater's zipper was broken. I bought a new zipper; took out the spoilt zipper and sewed up the new zipper on his sweater. I am happy with the result. I can change zipper on kids' sweater. I was telling Seb that if we were in Singapore, I could have it amended cheaply. In France, cheap means to DIY.

I have climb up a new level of being a traditional mother. Yeah!

jeudi, février 06, 2014

Change of car

Living in the countryside, we need two cars as public transport is limited. When Seb found a new job, we knew that his company car would have to go. I was growing fond of the BMW 118. It gives a sporty feel and is so easy to drive compare to our family car, the Touran. Don't get me wrong. The Touran is a great family car. It is popular in France as it is value for money. Just that as any family car, it feels like a heavy cow on the road.

In BMW, the cruise control system is easier to use than Volkswagon's. On the highway, Seb was adjusting the speed mainly with his hands and not his legs. The downside of the series 1 was that it was smaller and Seb had less room when the kids were sitting behind him.

In France, for sales related jobs, it is common to get a company car or a car allowance. Initially, Seb was offered a car allowance. We started to look for a second car. A BMW was off our budget. We looked at different options. Like selling our 4 years old Touran and getting two new/second hand cars. But in the end, we decided to keep the family car. It is a 7 seater and proves useful when we have friends and family visiting. For the second car, I looked up on Fiat 500, Peugeot 207 or 208 cc and other similar small cars. I crossed out Fiat 500 when I realised that it did not have a true automatic gear box. Sorry, I can't handle anything else than auto gear. The Peugeot convertible was also off. There was no room space for the boys behind. Seb tried to show me other convertibles with bigger backseats space. Still, I prefer the look of the Peugeot's. I shall wait until the boys grow up and leave home before getting one. In the end, Seb picked up two second hand cars and test drived them. A Toyota RAV4 and a Volvo xc60. He was enchanted by the Volvo xc60 and made an offer to the seller. On the day he did it, he received an email from his future employer asking if he would prefer a company car to a car allowance. He immediately took up the offer of a company car. Sorry to the xc60. We did our maths and though having a company car results in "an advantage by nature" which is taxable, we do not have to worry about other expenses like car insurances, car servicing and even gas.

On his first day of work, I drove him to his office. To our great delight, he came home with a BMW. For Seb, he was happy to find all the familiar buttons and functions in the car. He has more room space as it is a series 5 touring. The boys were excited over the panorama glass roof. For me, I am happy but less excited when behind the wheel. I often associate estate cars as being driven by old fashion owners. This car is too big for me. I can't gauge the size of it and often slow down when passing cars along narrow countryside roads. Also, it is easy to go over the speed limit because even when driving at 100km/h, one feels as though the car is going at 60km/h. It is powerful and silent. For the moment, I only use this car to make short errands. For long journey like going to office on monday, I get behind the wheel of heavy cow, the Touran.

I want to thank God. Throughout the search for the second car, we had been praying to God for the best arrangement. He had answered our prayers in ways we did not expected.

lundi, février 03, 2014

The year of the horse is here

Last friday was chinese new year. While some houses still had their exterior Christmas decorations, I put up two red laterns that I bought in Singapore. Now, the whole village will know where my kids and I live.
 On Thursday, we invited a couple friends and their daughter who is A1's classmate for reunion dinner. Too bad Tika could not make it. Only Fred and Jean joined us. Fred mentioned before that he tried steamboat once in a chinese restuarant and liked it very much. We had a simple steamboat dinner and chatted away until way past the bedtime for the children.

Amazingly, the boys slept at 11pm and woke up by 7.30am. They have an early bio clock. Even sleeping late would not make them wake up much later as usual.
I had wanted to write earlier to wish everyone a good chinese new year. Alas, I was sick again. On Chinese new year day itself, I had stomach flu. The second time this year. For someone who works from home and has mininum contact with the outside world, I was disappointed to be bed bound over the weekend. I missed out a concert and it was Seb who brought the boys to the kids' concert. We also postponed a lunch gathering at Anca's place to celebrate her birthday.
I sincerely pray for good health for everyone including myself.