Dumpling is 1 years old! He can climb, walk, and has a arsenal of gibberish vocabulary but his favourite word is dad. Not mom, but I’m working on that.
We decided to get non-blurry, well-lit photos done for a change. My Google research landed on Elle Marie Photography because Lyndsey’s portfolio showcased exactly the right style that I had in mind. They was bright, candid, and captured personality. Plus, the price was right at $250.
In preparation, I put together a Pinterest mood board and planned the right outfits, props and ordered a smash cake. Seriously, when it came to photo day – planning can only get you so far.
The day of the shoot, Dumpling refused to take his morning nap. We arrived at Lyndsey’s new home studio with a cranky and tired baby. His usually happy demeanor was really hard to coax out of him even with all the special moves – funny faces, funny dances and funny noises like fart sounds.
Most of the time, we were chasing him around the room. Oh, and he is fast. At daycare, they call him a ninja (maybe there is an Asian reference there too).
Well, we tried our best and so did Dumpling. We can’t blame him, a photoshoot isn’t exactly the same as a day at Gymboree. Here are the highlights that came out of our session.
Honestly, we are so happy with the photos. For the day we had, we still got a few pictures where he was smiling from ear to ear.
- Be patient
- Bring snacks for your child
- Bring snacks for yourself
- Keep the cake box – if any of it is salvageable, then you can bring it home to enjoy
- Try bubbles
- Bring a few favourite toys that will bring out your child’s playful side
- Buy a cheap and colourful cake. We got ours from Metro for $7.49.
- Again, be patient and have fun!
It started with meeting a friendly face when I subbed at floor hockey. Daisy was playing too, and we got along right away – friend chemistry! We went on to play ultimate and softball together with her S.O Walter and mine.
A wedding in Montego Bay, Jamaica! Reggae’s birthplace along with Walter’s.
We had to go, and we were so glad we did. We spent 5 days/4 nights in Montego Bay, and here are our FAVOURITE reasons why we loved our Jamaican trip.
DUNN’S FALLS IN OCHOS RIOS FOR A HIKE N’ BEACH TIME
The day before the wedding, the super organized bride and groom coordinated a day trip out to Columbus Park, and Dunn’s Falls. $20 admission gets you into oasis with a natural waterfall where you can hike up – water shoes, necessary! Most groups went up holding hands, and stopped along the way at the pools to take pictures.
Or, you can spend time on the beach with the soft rolling waves and sandy beach. Dumpling spent some time digging around in the sand, and face planting in it at least once.
SCOTCHIE’S FOR REAL JAMAICAN FOOD
On the way back from Ochos Rios, we stopped off at one of Jamaica’s Scotchies. They are known for their jerk food cooked over pimento wood. Walter tells us that they are pretty authentic, but they have tweaked their recipe to also suit visiting tourists. If you like it hot, ask for the scotch bonnet sauce.
After sharing a group order, we can say that we liked it all. Besides the bammy, hardough bread, festival, rice & peas, and fish – we tried the must-tries, jerk chicken and jerk pork.
Jerk chicken: Definitely a leveled up smoked chicken with crispy skin
Jerk pork: Reminded me of Chinese roast pork, but with a smoky taste and no crispy skin
IBEROSTAR EAT, SWIM, AND REPEAT
We have to seriously thank Daisy and Walter for 1) getting married in Jamaica, and 2) organizing the whole trip in Jamaica including the stay at Iberostar. Food was good – there was plenty of it, and tons of variety for Dumpling. The suites were massive, and they had a lot of amenities that we didn’t take full advantage of (ie. entertainment, outdoor activities, gym etc).
But, we definitely made sure to use the lazy river and infinity pool with…a swim-up bar! It’s kind of cheesy, but it’s fun. These pool pictures? We didn’t really lounge around for too long. We were glad to steal moments here and there to go out since Dumpling napped REALLY well – good 2-3 hour stretches twice a day, so we hung out as a family in our suite a lot.
DAISY & WALTER’S WEDDING @ WHITE WITCH GOLF COURSE
The best part of the trip, the wedding! CONGRATS DAISY & WALTER! Icing on the cake: Cy and I got a babysitter towards the end of the evening. Bye Dumpling, hello dancing the night away!
One thing to mention, the catering chef was a complete con artist – BOO Chef Collin Brown! How disappointing for the bride and groom who planned and received far less than what they discussed and paid for. Bummer, and it wasn’t fair to Daisy and Walter – but, seriously, they had a beautiful wedding and kept the mood UP the whole night. KUDOS to them.
CHEERS to Daisy and Walter. We wish you both a lifetime of giddy happiness, sporty adventures that open your eyes, and many more extra large bubble teas with just-the-right tapioca pearls.
<3 you guys and <3 Jamaica
Cyrus hates mango, and I don’t get it. I mean, it’s got everything going for it. Easy to peel, juicy, and perfect alone or in so many foods as a key ingredient, addition, and/or flavour. My Asian card is fully earned with these mango favourites:
- Dried Philippines mango
- Mango bubble tea
- Mango lassi
- Thai mango salad
- Hong Kong-style mango pudding
- Mango ice cream
Then, there is the most mango-y, mango dessert. Mango shave ice, Taiwanese style! Here are the key components: shave ice, chunks of sweet mango, and a mango ice cream.
Minus Cy, Dumpling* and I had this one at Sweet O’Clock with fellow mango lovers, H and her baby E. We dug into it, and the mango mountain was so worth the challenge.
Shave ice It was made to order as it should be. Thumbs up for it’s fine, non-grainy texture.
Mango chunks Mango for days, and it was ripe, sweet and juicy.
Ice cream Some mango ice creams have a bit of an artificial flavour to it, and this one did. While it wasn’t the worse, it was just ok.
Overall, it was so close to perfection. I’d go back, and consider this part of getting Dumpling his Asian card – mango lover, check!
* NEW code name for our baby boy. Like it? A dumpling is Asian and small like him.
I heart a good brunch. There are just so many reasons to fall in love with brunch:
- It’s an excuse to have a lot of bacon
- Brunch specific foods like the perfect runny eggs benedict
- The major girlfriend bonding over the major food groups of sugar, fat and carbs
True story, I used to go for brunch every single weekend to do all the above with my girls, M and P. We exhausted nearly every Vancouver brunch spot back in 2008-09, and in that time we also perfected the timer selfie with a ketchup bottle. No more brunches together now, we live in different cities. Instead, we “toast” each other with milkshake-looking emojis on Whatsapp (ok, the ice cream sundae one is the closest).
Plus, it’s tough to brunch with a baby. Brunch usually isn’t that baby friendly! The brunch restaurants are usually crowded, smaller spaces and then there are the line ups. Either you go super early and wait, or you go at brunch hours and wait for likely over a hour for a good place.
Here is a secret, not all brunch-only places have a good brunch. Super mommy blogger Yashy asked me to join her and fellow moms at Bareburger where they do brunch – it’s all organic, all natural, and all delicious. Here is what I tried and recommend:
French toast stuffed with duck bacon and cheese! I wouldn’t have minded more duck bacon and more fruit on the side.
Super decadent, rich chocolate and raspberry milkshake. They do NOT mess around, this was one of the best milkshakes that I’ve had ever had. The ice cream comes from Greg’s Ice cream, one of my favourite spots in the city.
I was so full by the time the ice cream sandwiches came around, but I couldn’t say no to this. Soft chocolate cookies with creamy peanut butter ice cream. The key is the SOFT chocolate cookies, I hate ice cream sandwiches with hard cookies – no, just no.
Lucky me, I ate and ate because Yashy and Pereina held Baby D – thank you! Also, thank you to Bareburger for treating and indulging me in my love for brunch complete with *duck* bacon, all the right sugar and carbs plus new mom friends to share it all with. <3
I think dim sum actually means “touch heart” – so, it’s like Chinese soul food. And, I love it for so many reasons:
– It’s the kind of brunch that I grew up having as a Chinese kid
– It’s undeniably delicious (except the chicken feet, IMO)
– It’s traditional and yet there are ever evolving dishes and fusion flavours
– It’s meant for sharing
Recently, my beautiful and hilarious friend Andrea and I shared dim sum at Fisherman Villa. I love it there because it reminds me of the old-school dim sum places (a little too crowded, and noisy) but without the push carts. Plus, the food is simple and tasty – and cheap! Usually, it’s safe to order 3 dishes per person so naturally…we ordered more than that. Here is what we filled our tummies up with:
Standard orders of har gow (shrimp dumpling) and siu mai (pork dumpling) were good. You can’t go wrong with these!
Extra sweet soy sauce on the cheung fun, please! We ordered the beef and watercress cheung fun and my very favourite wu tao gok (deep fried taro dumplings).
Lastly, we polished off the lau bak go (turnip cake) and ngao guk (beef balls).
Don’t come here if you want fancy dim sum. Come here for your simple dim sum items and their fresh char siu bolo bau (BBQ pork pineapple bun) – and for the value that it provides. Expect to pay around $7 (you eat a little) -15 (you eat a lot)/person depending on how stuffed you want to be.
At the end, we were stuffed and happy. So, dim sum really does “touch heart”…and my stomach!
Cy takes after his mom – looks, organization, creativity, and his love for classic rock and guitars. Both of them have cool looking glasses too. Last week, she visited us and new baby D!
With the frigid temps, we haven’t really gone out (plus, I was house bound by Chinese tradition – no going out for 30 days post baby’s birth). Jail time was over, and we decided to go out to eat in Japan Town’s Shiso Tree Cafe. We shared a bunch of dishes (family style of course), and here are the verdicts:
Verdict: Order this, it’s like a fancy Japanese Caesar salad. They didn’t skimp on the smoked salmon!
Verdict: Order this once to try. I liked the sauce, but the fries weren’t the best – they were fried for too long and hard.
Verdict: You must order this, it’s kinda life changing. It’s creamy, and the barbeque eel was meaty and flavourful.
Verdict: You could pass on this one. It’s good but doesn’t compare to the Unagi Don (I took the leftover Unagi Don sauce and dumped it on this dish).
We were stuffed by lunch end, I mean look at those portion sizes – they were pretty big. After lunch, we went to Pacific Mall to look for cool, red glasses for Mom. You can never had enough pairs of cool glasses!
Shiso Tree Cafe
3160 Steeles Ave. East – Unit 1
Markham, ON L3R 4G9
I’ve always been the world’s slowest eater according to family and friends.
- I take tiny bites to draw out the time that I spend with a really good chocolate cake.
- I distract myself by chatting and forgetting that I have to eat even if it’s delicious dim sum.
- I sometimes pick at my bento boxes and eat the good parts (ie. not the rice) then slowly eat the not-so-good parts (ie. the rice).
Then, D came along. He is the boss, and he won’t put up with my slow-eating habit. In fact, cooking and baking has to be done in ultra speed too.
So during the holidays, any baking had to be made with easy-to-find ingredients, quick and super delicious. Here is the recipe that did the trick:
Brownies! But, brownies with a secret weapon: Persimons®.
Growing up, my mom bought the short and stout persimmons for the family. They took awhile to ripen and sweeten, but Persimons from Spain are different.
So, here is the recipe! Most of the ingredients are likely already in your fridge and pantry:
1 Persimon®, peeled and chopped
⅔ cup (150 mL) sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice
Place the chopped Persimon® in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour the puree into a saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice stirring slowly over medium low heat until the consistency of jam. Approx. 5 minutes. Set aside.
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
5 oz. (150 g) bittersweet chocolate (70%)
⅔ cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) Persimon® jam
3 large eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
¾ cup (175mL) all-purpose flour
Grease an 8 X 8 inch (20cm) baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) overhang on two sides. Place butter and dark chocolate in a sauce pan over low heat and melt until smooth. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the Persimon® jam, stir and remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt and vanilla until slightly foamy. Add sifted flour and blend until just incorporated. Being careful not to over mix. Pour the brownie batter into the baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and spread the remaining Persimon® jam over the top of the brownie while it is still hot. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares.
Makes 9 servings
Tah-dah! Easy peasy brownies with Persimons. Cy helped me with the garnishes – sliced persimons and some lemon!
NOW, THE BIG CONTEST
Roundtrip charter airfare for two (2) to Spain from the closest available gateway offered by D.O. Kaki Ribera del Xúquer.
- Accommodations for two (2) for seven (7) nights at a 4-Star Hotel, located in downtown Valencia, based on single room double occupancy.
- Breakfasts for 7 days for 2 people.
- Transfers in destination country (From and to Airport /Hotel only)
- Taxes are included.
Contest closes: January 31st, 2015 at 11:59 P.M. E.S.T.