2012 Retrospective

At the end of every year, I like to do a retrospective of the previous year’s events. It reminds me to always be thankful for the ups in life and to remind me how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family.

2012, as you know, was a biggie for us.  Our little family got an inc1 in the form of a gorgeous little Blueberry.

January brought my long lost friend Cam back into the fold, we moved from bunnies to dragons and from Gaggia to Nespresso and haven’t look back since.  My mom came to stay and wait for the baby to pop out, and I seriously could not wait to finally have baby out of me (the itching was driving me nuts).

February was a waiting game filled with all manner of lotions and potions for the itching. My mom and Meimei totally bonded, and I was GINORMOUS.  Baby was 10 days late when I finally was induced and watched Bones while waiting to dilate enough for baby to come out. Which never happened as I ended up having an emergency c-section. No matter, baby came out nice and healthy! Both my mom and dad were there for the birth, and when they left I have to admit I felt really really wobbly.  Despite being a pretty independent person (I left home at 18 and travelled all over, with nary a whisper of homesickness), when my mom left I felt suddenly incredibly and overwhelmingly anxious.  Thankfully hubby took an extra week off and it made all the difference.

In March hubby and I finally announced baby’s official name. We started to find our rhythm with the three little monkeys, helped enormously by our littlest monkey’s penchant for sleeping like a snug little bug in a rug. I took baby for a walk up the Peak. She slept in her little moby wrap pretty much the whole way up.

Photo: Walked up to the Peak and back this morning. Feeling very virtuous!

In April hubby’s folks came to visit, and baby had her very first Easter and saw her very first pandas. We celebrated with brunch at the historic Verandah restaurant in Repulse Bay. I even had some champagne! Amandine slept in a corner pretty much the entire time.  Our helper Daisy joined our household and has enriched our lives.

May brought my dear friend Alice over to Hong Kong, where we drove around mostly to IFC, a mall with AC.  It was HOT. But Alice was on her way to Thailand where it was to get even hotter! She and Cam came back to HK where they picked me up for my first ‘solo’ trip with baby.  Amandine and I hoofed it to Taipei for a few days to hang out with Cam & Kevin, and see the sights with Alice.  We went to the National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, ate lots of Taiwanese beef noodle soup (my absolute favourite noodle soup), and enjoyed the Taipei weather – a gloriously pleasant and sunny spring.

In June my little one started to swim which was the cutest thing ever.  Amandine started her first round the world trip, first stop Calgary, Banff & Lake Louise.  My dear friend Carole came to see us and my mom (the star that she is) drove us all over. I think secretly she was also afraid I had forgotten how to drive! lol.

I got to see and spend time with my friends Alice, Thea and even a short visit with Alicja! Oh man, I really miss those huge prairie skies.

In July the round the world trip continued on to England, where we went to the Isle of Wight and Amandine met her great grandma for the very first time.  David biked the Etape de Tour race in the Pyrenees so we spent a few days in the St Emilion and Pau area before heading back to London for some much needed and missed time with old friends and my little goddaughter who, now 6, is no longer a wee little thing. She’s a proper little girl!  I finally got to try the River Cafe – a fool I was for eschewing it for so many years.  Ah well.  Little Amandine got to meet a whole bunch of her aunties – Tricia, Ali, Tina, Lucy, Arianna, Joy, Sandy (all the way from Sweden!!), Mel, Judith, Jen, Dee, Ling, Chantelle – at one of my old haunts in London – Wahaca (scene of many a great meal always in great company). She even got to meet Tricia’s boys Alastair & Robbie for a few cuddles. 🙂

August was another round of flights – hubby had a last minute kind of surprise sabbatical (at least 3 years overdue!) so we headed back to Canada to enjoy the summer.  First we hit Vancouver, where we saw killer whales, otters, bald eagles, seals, and lots of gorgeous pacific northwest scenery, as well as my cousins Betty & Frank.  We cycled round Stanley Park and wandered around Granville Island fantasising about living in that idyllic place.  More time in Cowtown enjoying those blue blue skies, followed by a trip to Tronno to see Melissa and Luke and their bump and the lovely Cookie A (we tried to see Laura Chau but just missed her by a few hours! I bought yarn at Lettuce Knits as consolation). Toronto surprised me by how fun and cute it and neighbourly it was – inner city but Canadian style – that is, clean, well tended and friendly. Oh and the food was amazing too.  We rounded off the month off with a short visit to Tokyo where we sweated (for it was HOT HOT HOT there) at the Imperial Palace gardens, ate sushi at 6 in the morning at the famous Tsukiji fish market and channelled Lost in Translation by staying at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo.  What an absolutely gorgeous hotel.  Sigh.

September Amandine started swimming lessons and I began to get a little more plugged into HK life, joining a FB group for moms in my area.  Amandine also began going to playgroups, including one called PEKIP which is basically a naked baby playgroup. Thankfully they get to wear diapers in HK, though the purist classes back in Germany keep it naked. I’m glad they are a little more practical here, as chasing a weeing or pooping baby trying to clean up after them doesn’t sound like much fun to me!

Our furry middle child Meimei turned 1 – and has grown into an absolutely gorgeous dog. She loves to torment Deuce, normally ‘tickling’ Deuce by nipping his legs as he tries to kick her off while making funny little squeaking sounds.  Crazy kids.

In October my little man turned 6. My third child, the furless monkey, sprouted her first teeth.

I bought a sewing machine – because I decided I wanted to make Amandine a Hallowe’en costume – a little Princess Leia. Found a Singer store and lugged home a machine which thankfully is made for dummies. Perfect for me! Completely automated everything. I only need to aim the fabric and step on the pedal. Bliss.

November saw us flying off again for a wedding and family reunion.  Amandine and I went to Calgary first where baby saw her first snowfall, then to Merida in Mexico for Romain and Marie’s fairytale nuptials.   We went back to Calgary to rendez vous with my parents and uncle and aunt then flew to Miami Maui for a family reunion.  Miami Maui was absolute heaven. Loved the coffee, the food, the vibe and the beauty of the place. I so want to go back. Seeing all my cousins and their kids (many for the first time) was just incredible. Spending time with them hanging out: priceless.

Back in HK for December, a short trip to Phuket so hubby could get some sun (he had to miss Miami Maui due to work). Baby met and pet her first elephant in Phuket. I think we all fell in love with Lucky the elephant while there.  Then we flew out again to Ctown to spend Christmas.

We rang in the new year with Melissa, Luke and their new little one Henry.  A perfect end to an incredible year. We started with old friends, and ended with old friends, and in between made alot of new ones.

2012 Round-up

This year’s amazing revelation:  Pregnancy brain is real. My brain is like molasses and I often forget what I’m.. wait, what?

Most favourite part of the year: Summer in Calgary. Hot, but dry with blue blue skies.

Hottest vacation: Haha I live in Hong Kong where it is hot hot hot hotter hotter hot for the best part of the year, though I did feel August in Tokyo was almost unbearable.

Best restaurant this year: Hmm, my most memorable meals this year aren’t quite in restaurants. My friend Romain’s brunch after his wedding had freshly made tortillas for tacos. These tortillas were made by a group of women sitting by the kitchen working away around a little table, with a small grill over a small fire to toast the tortillas. They  shaped them entirely by hand. The piping hot tortillas were brought to the kitchen where the cooks would serve them up with various fillings – seafood, salsa, potatoes, I don’t even remember what the fillings were but they were completely and utterly delicious.

 

I also loved this little hole in the wall place in Taipei where we had bowls of beef noodles in a gorgeous savoury rich and moreish beef broth.  Yum!

My best week this year: Let’s say best day – 18 Feb 2012 when little Amandine came into the world.

Most exciting game this year: London Summer Olympics. What an incredible show.

Longest walk this year: Probably my hike up the Peak post baby.

Best events of the year:  Miami Maui reunion, Merida nuptials, and eating sushi at the crack of dawn.

Most amount of time spent on the water this year: Snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater in Maui.

Most amount of time spent this year living without any females: None! Meimei balanced the sexes in our household last October, and now with Amandine we ladies outnumber the guys by one!

Cultural event of the year:  Wow, this year has been pretty bereft of cultural (as in theatre, museums etc). Spent the day at the National Palace Museum in Taipei. That was pretty cool.  I think the next closest thing is probably Les Miserables the movie! I don’t think seeing Cesar Milan in Calgary counts.

Best stupid movie: The Campaign

This year’s most monotonous job: business accounts. ergh.

Saddest events this year: Being away from the pups since we travelled so much this year, and when my folks left the week after baby was born.

Shock of the year: Not being afraid of my sewing machine. And actually sewing a costume that had all the holes and arms in the right places!

Most hopeful action this year:  pledging £4 in hope others will do the same to campaign to end the war on women and stop abusive violent men from being in charge of making laws that are meant to protect women.

Most beautiful sight: Sorry to be a stereotype, but I think my little one is completely gorgeous. My heart melts every time I look at her.

Biggest surprise of this year: My birthday gift – a beautiful watch from hubby. Engraved with my name.

Greatest technological improvement: Haha hubby finally got an ipad and ipod touch. So he is no longer an apple ignoramus (thank the Lord).

 

All Change

The Spring issue of Sockupied is out! I have been waiting for this one for what seems like AGES because in it, I am the featured designer! Woot!! I was interviewed way back in September last year (seems like FOREVER ago). I also have a sock pattern in it using the same stranding technique as De Stijl, this one is called Deuce after my darling pug.  I’m mightly excited and pleased about it but as there have been some major changes around Socktopus HQ in the last couple months  some of the information is out of date.

First – there is no Knit Love Club for 2013.  More on this below.

Second – Sokkusu will no longer be available from Socktopus. Don’t worry – you will still be able to get your Sokkusu fix later this year (probably summer ish). The yarn business has been hived off and is being taken under my partner (not employee, as indicated in the article!) Ai-Ling Lee’s capable wings – though now she will be flying solo with Sokkusu as we have decided to part ways.  I had been planning to move the dye studio to Hong Kong but, when taking a long hard look at things, it just didn’t make sense. Particularly not the shipping of Sokkusu-O undyed from Europe to Hong Kong so I could dye it, only to have it shipped back to Europe. Ling has been doing a stellar job so it made sense for Ling to spread her wings and see what she could do with Sokkusu, under her own brand. The yarn will still be called Sokkusu, just under a new mama brand helmed by Ling. Ling hasn’t yet settled on a name for her new venture, but as soon as she has I will let you all know. I wish her every success – and for those of you who have been privileged to fondle her colourways over the last year and half, you know she is going to rock! 😀

Third – there will be no more Knit Nations for the foreseeable future…. unless there is a move back to London. It is simply too difficult to organise from this end of the world.  However… if there are those of you out there who want to take on the mantle of Knit Nation, do get in touch.

I am still designing, though at a much slower pace so that I can enjoy my little one who is turning one in just 12 days time (?!? how on earth that happened so fast I will never know). For the first time in years, I am not at the computer every single day for hours at a time.  And for the first time in 5 years, I no longer bring my laptop with me when I travel.  I always had to bring my laptop because I always had deadlines, designs, etc and had to work even when on holiday.  So I am looking forward to no longer having to lug it around, though it has now been replaced by the ipad (better than drugs when trying to induce a calm stupor in child on plane!).

As for future Knit Love Club’s – I have decided to take a break from designing for the Knit Love Club  for now and enjoy my daughter while she is still wee and not yet at school.  There are possibilities – maybe Ling might be game to do a club with me next year, maybe she might want to go another direction.  I just don’t know at this stage. However, what I do know is that it will be a colourful adventure, whatever  path Ling chooses to go down.

For now, I have a couple designs in the works for 2013, both mystery designs.  The first is  a mystery sock coming up in June for the Sock Knitter’s Anonymous group on Ravelry. The second is a long overdue Socktopus Mystery Shawl Knitalong (SMSKAL) for later this summer (also  available on Ravelry).  It goes without saying I will be using Ling’s Sokkusu for both! I cannot wait to see what colourways she will dream up for me. Cloud 9 all the way.  I hope you will join me on these mystery design adventures!

Next up, my annual retrospective for 2012.

Party’s ready to start – so where’s the party girl?

Feb 8, Blueberry’s official due date, has now come and gone (okay, maybe not quite gone in some timezones…).

I figured I ought to pack my hospital stuff, so I did… and now they sit there in the bedroom looking all ready to party but with nowhere to go!

I’m not sure if I’m having the beginnings of contractions – sort of very mild cramping that happens every hour or so… nothing that I can’t talk through or ignore. Will keep an eye out and see. Could just be braxton-hicks contractions (fakey ones).

Meimei & Deuce’s walker is coming today so that when the time comes, we have a dog sitter that the furry monkeys will be familiar with to make sure they’re being cared for while we’re all headless chickens running amok towards and at the hospital.

We found out something interesting about Meimei via Tarquin‘s owner. He’s done some research and is pretty sure that the dogs christened ‘black fluffies’ by HKDR, and Lamma Island Retrievers by me, are actually Belgian Groenendael Sheepdogs. It’s pretty amazing – the character traits are pretty spot on. From Wikipedia:

“Belgian Shepherd Dogs are described as highly intelligent, alert, sensitive to everything going on around them and form very strong relationship bonds. They are said to be loyal, intelligent, fun, highly trainable and well suited to family life. They should receive plenty of socializing as puppies and will benefit from regular activity and close interaction with people throughout their lifespan. Their herding heritage gives them a comparatively high energy level, and mental as well as physical exercise is necessary to keep a Belgian happy and healthy.

Belgian Shepherds do well in sports such as obedience training and dog agility. They are used as assistance and search and rescue dogs, as well as police, military and narcotics dogs.”

Well she certainly is quite clever and needs alot of mental stimulation to keep her from using her brains for mischief (like figuring out how to get the lid off the rubbish can). She also likes to herd us when we walk with her – she always waits for the last straggler of the group and makes sure we are all together.  It’s a bit sad too- knowing that someone must have abandoned at least one Belgian Sheepdog on Lamma Island for there to have been so many stray litters. Must find Meimei some kind of agility course for her to train on.

Meanwhile some Socktopus Sokkusu news – we have a limited edition colourway for Valentine’s 2012 – “My Funny Valentine”. It’s a heartfelt deep rich red with veins of purple.

There are still some skeins left, perfect for a shawl or pair of socks for a loved one or dear friend!  You can find it in the Socktopus Shop here.

We’ll also have a special pop-up this Friday with some of our popular, but resting, pinks and reds including Pout, Strawberry & Pinkly.

Knit Nation Merchandise Clearance Sale

We’re also making room in our stock room for more yarn – and so we’re having a clearance sale on all our Knit Nation merchandise.  All the mugs and bags are now 50% off; mugs were £8 each and are now £4 each, and bingo bags are £3 down from £6. You can stock up here.

Knit Love Club 2011 Patterns

For those of you waiting on the release of last year’s Knit Love Club patterns, we’ll be releasing them individually as follows for £4.50 each:

1 March: Gnomely
1 May: Fiyero
1 July: Zories
1 September: Blueberry Jig
1 November: Vignoble & Methuselah
1 December: Breadcrumbs & Lussekatter

We are also offering a KLC 2011 Pattern Yearbook ebook. You’ll automatically receive each pattern on its release date via a Ravelry PDF download.  The KLC 2011 ebook is available for £27.  You can purchase the 2011 Pattern Yearbook using the link below:

And for the first 2012 Knit Love Club patterns, as the pattern pack has now been sent out, I thought I’d show you the first two patterns for the year.

[spoiler]

For the February Knit Love Club kit, I created a slipped stitch pattern called Fanque’s Circus , designed to show off highly variegated yarns, and used those for both patterns.   The club colourway is called Thunder & Blazes, which inspired the whole circus theme (Thunder & Blazes is the march that signals the entrance of the clowns).

The first of the two patterns for February is Fanque’s Circus Socks, a pretty sock with a picot cuff.

The second pattern is Fanque’s Circus Mittens – a pair of cozy mittens using the same stitch pattern. Here is Ling modelling her pair (photo also courtesty of Ling).

The following two photos are courtesy of Heli Rajavaara, and also show the mittens in a solid colour. I think they look quite pretty in solid too.

I’m really excited to see our club members’s WIPs and FOs for the yarn and Feb patterns.

[/spoiler]

Now to wait and see about Blueberry. She needs to get her dancing shoes on. The music’s on, the dance floor’s waiting….. the party is raring to go. Just waiting for the party girl now!

Enter the Dragon

Monday marks the start of the Year of Dragon. My mom arrives on Monday, and will be armed with niangao (a traditional chinese new year cake). Since the ones here are cantonese style and don’t taste the same as the Taiwanese ones, I made a special request of my mom to bring some from home. We’ve got dumplings we can eat too so we’re all set.

We’ve had a thorough spring clean so we’re ready to face the new year. Our old Gaggia was on its last legs, so we needed to get a replacement. Lately I’ve been finding that, much as I love to pull a great shot, the time it takes, and the noise the steam wand makes when frothing milk, I just can’t be asked with all the faff.  I figure with baby coming too the simpler, faster and quieter, the better. My mom and friend M both have Nespresso machines, and are both quite happy with them. The choice of different espresso pods is pretty impressive, the fact that there is virtually no mess, and Nespresso has a super easy recycling system for the 100% aluminum pods made it an easy choice. I was tempted by the limited edition Shanghai Tang dragon Nespresso machine, but decided against it as it didn’t include the milk frother and larger base and in person, it didn’t look as good as in the photos. So instead, I brought home this baby in a bright dragon red, with a lovely matching red laquer box to home all the pods (it does have a cool dragon on it).

We have a couple sets of Illy Collection cappuccino and espresso cups which we I love but found them too fancy to use with the gaggia, but for some reason, I really love using them with the nespresso machine.  At the shop, I tried out a bunch of different espressos- some with the most amazing crema (Arpeggio and the limited edition Kazaar had amazing guinness like crema).  The lighter coffees, unsurprisingly, were very nice as lungos but not so much as espresso shots.

The coolest thing is the frother – it makes the most perfect microfoam (literally like a smooth sheen on the surface, you can’t even make out any bubbles!) and best of all, takes about 10 seconds to froth and is so quiet you have too look at it to tell if it’s working.  So easy. In fact, everything about the machine is just super easy.  So happy!  Lest you worry that I’m taking in too much caffeine, I bought a bunch of decaf pods so I’m all set (and the lady at the Nespresso shot made sure to tell me to only sip a little from each shot, since I tried like 8 of them).

Another Chinese New Year tradition is to wear new clothes. Since I’m about to pop, there is little point in buying new clothes at this stage. So instead, I bought some new tools for work, and really indulged. I got a set of Signature circulars. These are like Aston Martins of the needle world and really are lovely to behold, and a pleasure to use.   I got them in the post today, and ripped them open just before we headed out for lunch so I could cast-on a swatch.  Sadly they don’t do the smaller sized needles (for socks) but they have from 3.25mm upwards so I got a set from 3.25mm to 5mm.  Hopefully they will have 2.25, 2.5 and 2.75mm soon as those are ones I am most excited to get my little mitts on.

They are colour coded by size, and have the size of the needle etched into them.  No need to run around trying to find my needle gauge while clutching a handful of needles trying to find the right size!  I took a pair of 4.5mm circs (also in red – all very Dragon-esque) and started a swatch of a merino/cashmere yarn I’m test driving.  Loving the needles, and the yarn so far, but the real test is how well the yarn stands up to some abuse.

Escapades and Tales

Wednesday night DH and I went to a dinner hosted by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for Tim Luard, the author of recently published Escape from Hong Kong. The RHKYC is one of the few yacht clubs – maybe the only one? – that has a rowing division (remember the Round the Island Race DH was in? The clubhouse on Middle Island is part of the RHKYC), which is how we came to know about the dinner.

I wish I’d taken some photos of the clubhouse – quite swanky, but I guess that’s to be expected of a yacht club. We had dinner in the Gun Room (love the military reference) then moved to the Compass Room to listen to Tim Luard’s talk. Tim Luard used to be the Beijing correspondent for the BBC, and spent the last four years researching his book, including many hours logged at the British Library (B I bet you’d recognise him!). The book is about a daring Christmas day escape of more than sixty Chinese and British intelligence and marine personnel from Hong Kong, on the same day that the British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese. Author Luard is the son-in-law of one of the members of the escape party, and started down the path for this book when he came across his father-in-law’s diary account of the escape.

Fascinating talk with slides of maps from the 40s, including Telegraph Bay – where DH & I currently live.

I also picked up a book called Hong Kong Stories, a collection of short stories written by local authors. One of the short stories was written by Dani, a girl in the Hong Kong knitting group I’ve been popping along to. Am looking forward to getting stuck into the anthology.

Since I tend to get up at too-early-o’clock, I like to bake in the mornings. Today I made my favourite banana bread recipe (from the New York Cookbook).

So time for breakfast before heading off to Whiskers’n’Paw’s puppy adoption party – don’t worry we aren’t adopting another puppy, but taking Meimei along so she can play with other furballs her age. We took her to the park for the first time yesterday – she loved it! Will take her again today and hopefully get some vids to show you.

Second Antenatal Class – even more YEURGHHHH!

My mom keeps telling me that the antenatal classes are good – if only so DH can understand and see for himself the whole hooha of pregnancy and delivery. He has this terrible habit that makes me absolutely nuts – if you’ve seen the Wedge Salad episode of Modern Family where Phil spends the entire episode trying to figure out why his wife Claire is so mad at him… well, that’s me & DH in a nutshell. It goes like this:

Me: Hey you should totally try this – it’s really yummy/cool/useful.
DH (having never seen, tried, tasted or heard of what I’m suggesting): No way, yuck/not cool/not useful, I don’t like it. Too expensive/weird/strange. Not going to try it.
Me: [shrugs shoulders].

Days, weeks, months later…

DH (all excited): So and so told me about X that is yummy/cool/useful so I gave it a go – and it is! You should totally try it.
Me: ……(breathing through flared nostrils)
DH: What’s wrong?
Me: ……(counting to ten)
Me: You mean the yummy/cool/useful thing I suggested before? That you were like ‘no way, yuck, gross, waste of money yadda yadda yadda?
DH: …. ummm..

The whole listening but not hearing thing unless it’s repeated by a third party – is it a guy thing? It made me laugh in our first antenatal class when the teacher told the class that women experience heartburn and shortness of breath because the baby is taking up space where lungs and stomach usually sit. DH turns to me and says in a knowledgeable way “That must be why you are getting heartburn and can’t breath”. Of course, I had already told him exactly that, but as expected, my words vaporised in the air before they could reach his brain. I can only imagine that I must speak at a frequency that he can’t actually hear. Anyways, he is as horrified as I am by the videos (we saw a hospital birth video – rather, I was late and he watched it – and a C-section video). Maybe more so since he has been way more solicitous and conscientious about stuff that is getting harder for me to do (like bending down). The C-section vid showed the epidural needle and how it goes in…. and we were given a demonstration how this massive needle sort of gets worked and wiggled into the epidural space in the spine. Knowledge is power and all that… but in this case I think I could have done without all the visuals. Understanding how the process works and what to expect is great, but yeurgh. There are some things I would be totally okay with never seeing.

I had another appointment with the OBY before he heads off on hols next Friday. No scan today since I had one last week, but Blueberry is still doing well, wriggling and in the right position (clever girl!). I also had to get my HK ID card sorted this morning and headed to the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai.

Really very efficient, I was in and out in less than an hour. Got thumb printed, photo taken, interviewed and assessed (which wasn’t much more than them double checking my thumb print). It was next to the law courts, so I also got to see silks! Afterwards was a quick trip to Holly Brown’s for the weekly knitting meet up.

Time to make dinner (have a yen for greek salad) and wait for the arrival of our weekend guest – my childhood friend Cam, who I haven’t seen in like more than a decade, is coming to Hong Kong to visit. Good times. 🙂

Oh and if you are thinking about joining this year’s Knit Love Club – now’s your last chance! Sign ups close at midnight GMT on Sunday 15 January. More details here.

Macau Memories

We made a quick trip to Macau last week. I have to validate my Hong Kong visa, and to do that I had to leave the HK SAR. We decided we’d head to Macau for lunch at Fernando’s, a popular place for Macanese food. Last I’d been there was in early ’96 – a long time ago so I barely remembered the place, other than it being off a quiet side road.  It’s no longer a quiet side road but a rather busy area with a large parking lot and some shops next door.

As it’s incredibly popular, we were sent to wait for our table in the beer garden, or rather, sangria garden, with picnic tables and an open bar where David got us a pitcher of sangria, some grilled chorizo and olives.  A very civilised way to wait for our table. I can imagine it being a lovely place to hang out with friends in the warmer months.  We thankfully didn’t have to wait too long to be seated as we arrived just as the lunchtime crowd were finishing up and heading off.   We had grilled sardines, a really simple green salad with incredibly tasty beef steak tomatoes (where on earth did they get them I wonder? I haven’t had such yummy beef steak tomatoes in a very long time), grilled suckling pig, and crusty fluffy bread rolls.  We hopped the restaurant’s own taxi back to the ferry terminal and were back at home by dinner time.

Next admin task is to get my Hong Kong ID card, though I only have to go to Wan Chai so not quite as exotic as Macau!

The past week I’ve been trying my hand at caramels. My friend C loves (and I mean LOVES, with a bordeline obsessive passion) salted caramels and I suddenly had an urge to have some myself.

So I did a bit of research and settled on a David Lebovitz recipe where he caramelizes the sugars first to pretty much the hard crack stage, I assume to get the requisite depth of flavour, before adding the cream and butter and then heating the mixture up to a firm ball stage. So armed with sugar and corn syrup, I got to boiling.

I heated the second phase too long and ended up with toffee… tasty but quite hard.

As neither DH nor I are big fans of toffee, I decided to put it to better use by melting it down with cream to use in millionaire’s shortbread.

Very yummy – am quite pleased with the results. But I still yen for salted caramel so will give that another go today or tomorrow.