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New discoveries for October

When one moves to a new country, there is inevitably a period of adjustment, getting over the culture shock and homesickness. The homesickness lasts a while longer if you know that the move is a permanent or indefinite one and you don't know how the next few years will turn out. This is multiplied if the move is for a reason other than your own personal agenda; I experienced this move for the first time at the age of 9 from Japan to Australia with no English – but inside my little brain I instinctively knew that this was a positive fresh start as I already felt I had trouble fitting in to my world. I didn't even miss Japan, I was so excited and I loved every new day going to school where I understood nothing for the first few months; I couldn't even comprehend why everyone seemed concerned about my sister and me.

This time round, from Australia to Malaysia, it hasn't gone as smoothly as I expected. I had no school or job to keep me focussed on important matters so I have spent many hours wondering what I'm doing here, why I couldn't stay in our beautiful home in Adelaide, why I had to leave our good life and our awesome friends – and why we had to put our precious cats through this stress (they seemed to have come through with flying colours!).

It occurs to me that although I try to keep an open mind to new experiences, even ones considered not-so-desirable in my culture & background, I'm less flexible to change than I used to be. There are so many new things to experience, consider, digest and accept. I really despised being in my new country for a few weeks – now that we've made settlement on our house in Adelaide and we have a little financial freedom, I have moved into the next phase; retail therapy.

I don't believe in making my blog into a whinge fest, but I would like to keep a record of what's happening – I'm going to try to balance all the negatives by starting with the positives.

Positive things in October:

  • Discovered Bangsar, an expat area with modern shopping malls, more foreigners, nice restaurants with friendly service, which sadly gets a mention because it's not common here.
  • Discovered Delicious restaurant (Bangsar one is better than the city one) – they do nice breakfasts, and other nice cafe food like truffle oil shoestring fries (love!) – and they're open til 1am, and the staff are nice and on the ball.
  • Discovered Sunday brunch @ Vineria (no photos yet, I forgot) – Sunday brunches seem like a bit of a tradition for many expats, lots of nice-ish restaurants and hotel restaurants do amazing spreads with free flow drinks, where you pay a different rate for non-alcohol and alcohol. It's pretty amazing actually. It's not unlike the Melbourne cafe scene, but you have to factor in the bad coffee and a bit more formal (as in less personal) service. The only thing is that hubby works most Sundays so we can only do this occasionally.
  • We bought a car! It's a brand new Myvi SE in pearl white. Hubby is extra excited about buying his first BRAND NEW car. It's awesome. All our new friends say that this will change our life. We're currently waiting on delivery (hopefully next week)
  • Discovered Hammam day spa – recommended by a friend, it's a Moroccan style spa where you can get various packages (yet to try). We've bought a 9-session package because we loved the aromatic massages. In fact, we went twice this week. Plus this other massage place called Thai Odyssey. Both located in Bangsar Village II. It's heaps cheaper than in Australia, compared with something like Endota. Everything in RM helps, it seems :)
  • Our first shipment arrived from Australia – i.e. coffee machine and cat beds/toys.
  • Kitties are happy, I think.
  • Went to an awesome Chinese food hawker place – we've named it the 'prawn' place. Introduced by a friend, located behind Lot 10 in Bukit Bintang (no photos yet). It looks completely feisty, the place is in a long corrugated iron open shed, one end is the good seafood and the other end is very quiet with lots of rats. But the garlic prawn is sooo good. Not as cheap as you'd think, but still cheap.
  • Fairly good taxi karma.
  • Enrolled in Australian distance education for Animal Health Care! This is in preparation for when we eventually move back, I want to start a career in animals.
  • The book I sent to USA for Kitty Quartet's giveaway actually arrived – kind of expected something to go wrong in this country.
  • Signed up for Mandarin Oriental (beautiful hotel) gym/spa. It's really glam!

Bad things in October:

  • Our rental is gross, but we're not in the market to buy. Besides, I don't want to be here for such a long time that we have to consider buying. (This may change, if our rental drives us insane)
  • Hubby had a really busy month with tours so I hardly saw him – bad because I have nothing to do besides twiddle my thumbs at home and I have chronic fatigue/depression.
  • I keep running out of all my supplements that keep me going from my naturopath in Australia. Big minus.
  • I miss good coffee… Haven't got an adapter for our grinder & coffee machine so we have to make do with rotating single adapter which is a nuisance.
  • The repairs to be done on the house is not complete – they only partly repaired the parquet so our bedroom looks fantastic, thank goodness – the parquet for the rest of the house looks horrible. It occurs to me that the landlord is a stingy bastard. Pardon my language.
  • We're supposed to have mosquito nets installed in the first 2 weeks according to our rental agreement but it's been almost 2 months and nothing. And there are some serious mosquitoes in our apartment complex. We can't open the windows so have to have air-con even throughout the night. Who is going to pay our bill then huh?
  • Our ensuite is terrible. We have a pooling problem so that tiles are covered in mildew, the bathroom floods every time anybody has a shower, it's ugly (and hello, it's not the 'least' of my problems grrr), the water is yellow, toilet seat looks like it was picked up at some hard rubbish collection. I think it's time for me to tell the landlord that the pooling problem is making this place unlivable.
  • Don't even want to talk about the main bathroom because it's worse than the ensuite. Makes me depressed just thinking the word 'bathroom'.
  • Can't buy the exact type of kitty food we used to have for them in Australia – so their poo smells horrible and stinks out the entire place. We had SD then they don't have the Lite food here so now we get Adult Chicken (also different to Adult in Australia we think), but now we're considering change their food.
  • No Temptations for the kitties. Simply not available in Malaysia.
  • Kitchen is going to be repaired but only partially. We currently have fugly dull orange tiny square tiles that cover the floors and half way up the walls, but they look like they've been there for 30 years (probably have) and the grout looks so gross I have to spend as little time in there as possible. But they're only repairing the benchtop, which has enough damage to have to replace thank goodness (it's mouldy and soft now haha how gross). They will reuse the fugly cabinet doors, they want to reuse the fugly dirty disgusting sink, which we've requested to have new at our own expense. It went something like this:
    Misa: Since we're getting a new kitchen benchtop, we'd like to get a new sink and we'll pay for the extra.
    Agent: Why?
    Misa: Well because it's very old and disgusting.
    Agent: Ok… it's not cheap...
    Misa: How much? Can we get a quote first?
    Agent: Maybe 300-400RM (that's like $AU100-150!!!)
    Misa: *stares blankly into the distance* That's fine. (thinking it's so bloody cheap, what's wrong with you, besides, we're paying)
    Agent: You know that sink can be reused la, it's stainless steel eh?
    Misa: *stares blankly into the distance* …………
  • So many people are so rude, e.g. In a restaurant "Can you drink faster and leave?"
  • Taxi drivers have no work ethic – I hate having to open the door and ask them whether they will go, like it's some privilege if they say yes. They don't have the mentality that we the passenger pays for the service so they just need to do their job. If you manage to get past any number of stupid lame excuses like: a) I don't want to go that way, b) it's jammed, c) it's raining, d) I'm waiting for a passenger (then why the hell are you in a taxi rank lining up), e) why you going there, I show you somewhere else (wtf), f) it's too close, g) it's too far (bloody can't win) – then you have to get past the next hurdle: a) haggling ("40RM!" even though the meter costs 17RM cos we took a taxi on the way there). If you agree to a named price, they won't take the highway cos they'll lose less than 1RM at the toll gate. LAME. b) they need to have a shower, like seriously! c) they can't drive properly, d) they don't know the way but lie about it… and we still have to pay to use this abominable service.

And here are some pictures to finish off.

Our pool in our apartment complex

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Squirrel… terrible photo, but he's there!

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Cool exotic snail

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Ristretto in Mont Kiara, KL

Ooops. I promised you (and myself) that I would post about that fantastic coffee place 'tomorrow' – but I let it slip my mind! So here it is!

Ristretto cafe
Unit 3A, 10 Mont Kiara, Jalan Kiara 1, Mont Kiara

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It's located in the expat suburb of Mont Kiara. If you are familiar with KL, you may think this is far and may not even consider heading this way. There's no public transport to speak of, if you have a car, that's great, but it's a mission in itself to get a taxi to agree to take you there.

We had quite a bad experience with the taxi who attempted to bring us here. (The all too common, seemingly harmless yet lethal lie, "I know where it is lah")  We got fed up and changed taxis. The second one brought us in one go. Having read the website, I was still full of hope and faith for Ristretto. When I got out of the taxi, I already liked the place because there was a kitty walking around. Not that that has anything to with it. The kitty didn't even belong to the cafe, or anything.

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Graeme waiting anxiously for a coffee that meets his standards (hubby is a concert violinist but he is also a competition level barista)… So am I… I brought him all the way out here and after more than 30RM in the taxi I am hoping the coffee will be good.

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The inside is lovely. The head barista, Julian, is an Australian who trained in Sydney. I already knew this information from their website before coming. It will be good.

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This chalkboard menu thing is very Australian. I like.

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Here's my latte!!! With a tulip. I'm happy and relieved! I've had enough coffees in my life and had my ears talked off by Graeme enough times to know how a coffee will be just by looking at it. This is good.

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This is Graeme's double ristretto – he is happy. Nowhere else in KL can you ask for a double ristretto and be understood.

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We were both so happy. But we had to run off very quickly because we decided on the spur of the moment to head over here before Graeme had a concert, which meant we had to go home straight away as he works in KLCC.

Now all we need is a car to make getting here less painful… hahaha!

Ristretto is highly recommended. Even if you live on the wrong side of town like we do! (We live near Ampang)

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A 'down' week… getting used to it

All this week, I have been quite fatiguey and I haven't been able to get out of bed for very long. I'm ok with 'down' days/weeks as I'm able to manage my fatigue quite well now, but all I did this week was: get up, have breakfast, go back to bed, have lunch if I've thought far enough ahead, post on my blog, read kitty blogs, go back to bed, read more kitty blogs, have a nap, go out for dinner, and go to bed.

Thank goodness I could go to Kamimura on two consecutive nights! That was a highlight!

The reason we have to go out for dinner is that we don't have any of our things yet from Australia (in fact, for 6 months) – and the kitchen is extremely ill-equipped. We are getting  the kitchen cabinets replaced by the landlord because the wood has rotted away around the sink, to the extent that the drawer-bottoms have fallen out. Haha! You just have to laugh at the state of things. The wood is quite mouldy – I'm very grossed out by this, so I spend as little time as possible in the kitchen, even though I love to cook. We also don't currently have a microwave or an oven, or any kitchen utensils, cooking bowls, etc. etc. So despite my fatigue, we always go out for dinner because we prefer to eat well. Hehe!

Actually, we just recently bought a knife, a frypan and a saucepan. We couldn't find a wooden spoon so we just got a spatula. So we can make pasta with sauce out of a jar, or something!

We still like our quirky apartment though. And the beautiful surrounding grounds.

We are missing the cafe culture of Australia very much. We've made a slow transition from basically living in a cafe in Melbourne, eating breakfast out every day and visiting all the best coffee places, to moving to Adelaide whose coffee scene is tiny and breakfast unimaginative, and now to KL, where there is no coffee culture and no such thing as all-day-breakfasts. We feel somewhat like birds with clipped wings. But it is a great character building experience. We always tell ourselves we will be grateful forever and ever to have that luxury back in our lives one day.

Today, I was searching online for good cafes and restaurants in and around KL and finally found a new cafe, who seemed very serious about their coffee! This was a must try, even though it was really far away from us (like, really far even with a decent taxi, which we didn't have). The cafe turned out to be really great. I will do a separate post about them tomorrow!

Here are another couple of pictures from our pool area. We really like how green and peaceful it is, as it's such a change from the hustle and bustle of the city AND we are very close to KLCC (very central). It really reminds us of being in a resort, and I love taking pictures of flowers! There is also a walking track around the apartment complex. I'm planning to get a stroller for my kitties so I can take them out for a walk!

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I know that in a few months time, I will read this post again and laugh at all I'm finding tough about this new country. I've moved countries before, I know I can make it a home!

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So I went to Kamimura again!

As per my last post, I declared to hubby that we shall go to Kamimura again the next night – to eat the Chirashi Zushi, of course!

We were going to catch up with a few friends so suggested Kamimura as a dinner option, which they were happy to go along with!

I was so happy that I forgot to take any photos of the meal. I intend to build a whole photo album of meals there…  eventually… The Chirashi Zushi was perfect once again. It had different types of fish and even had 'seared katsuo' (apparently called skipjack tuna in English) – something that you wouldn't often see in Australia, as it can taste quite 'fishy'!!! It can be nasty to be eating a lightly seared piece of fish that you know is going to be fishy at the best of times, but this one was perfectly seasoned.

The whole meal, as I knew it would be, was DELISH!

If hubby weren't working tonight, I would be there. haha!

This is a photo of the pool area in our apartment complex. It's beautifully maintained and very peaceful – you can sometimes see a little stray cat drinking from the pool. We try to tell him/her that they shouldn't drink the chemicals…

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I'm currently searching all over the net for Malaysian Food Blogs for recommendations. Haha!

I live to eat!

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Kamimura in Bukit Bintang, KL

Today is our Blogoversary! I have been so lazy with my own blog since starting up Kitty Quartet. But since I have more free time now, I can devote a little more 'me' time. Haha!

Tonight, we went to a Japanese restaurant called "Kamimura" – that's a person's name, so I'm guessing it is the owner or chef's name.

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This restaurant is located in a shopping centre in Bukit Bintang, called the Weld. We caught a taxi from home but a good way to get there would be to get a monorail to Bukit Bintang station then walk... It's also possible to walk here from KLCC (and I have) but taxi is better, lol.

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You know that it is a good Japanese restaurant when the place is full of Japanese people!

Tonight, there were two of us, but we were quite hungry.

So we had:

Hijiki (free on arrival – hijiki is a thick seaweed cooked with dashi flavours)

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Yama-imo no sengiri (Sliced Yam with wasabi)

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Satsuma-imo & cheese korokke (Sweet potato & cheese croquette)

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Kaki fry (Fried oysters)

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Chirasi-zushi (Assorted fish on sushi rice) – wonderful dish!!!!!!!!!

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Gin-dara no miso tsuke yaki (Miso marinated grilled sea bass)

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Maitake & Mizuna no ohitashi (Mushroom and mizuna salad)

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Niku-jaga (Sliced pork, onion, potato and carrot cooked with dashi flavours)

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Dessert: Kinako maccha ice cream (Green tea ice cream with toasted soy powder), left; Shiratama zenzai (Warm sticky rice balls with red bean), right.

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Who needs to cook when you can eat here?

I would like to eat their Chirashi zushi EVERY DAY!!!

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Purple Cane Tea Restaurant, KL

Hello from KL! I feel terrible that I haven't blogged for so long! I have decided to keep a better record of what we've been up to, as we have just moved to Malaysia!

We are still getting our head around the massive city of KL but have managed to find many great restaurants thanks to our friends and guidebooks.

Tonight, we ate at a tea specialty restaurant called the Purple Cane Tea Restaurant. Purple Cane is the name of a popular tea retailer in Malaysia and they have created a restaurant focusing on tea cuisine.

We had been wanting to eat there after reading a great review in my Japanese guidebook.

The best way to get there is to catch a monorail to Maharajalela station and walk down the foot bridge to the Chinese Assembly Hall building, where this restaurant is located. We made the mistake of getting the LRT train to Pasar Seni (Chinatown) and walking down awful smelly streets!

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Graeme ordered oolong tea – this one was beautifully fragrant and mild.

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I had iced honey black tea. Wonderfully balanced flavours, and not too sweet (unlike most iced teas in this country!!) – very refreshing!

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This is the sauteed eggplant in tea sauce – the chillies look very ominous but it's not hot at all. It has a very subtle tea flavour.

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Prawn salad

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Duck

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All the dishes here were very pleasing to my Japanese palette – the flavours were subtle yet interesting, and I was left feeling satisfied but not heavy.

There were many other dishes on the menu we want to try, so we'll definitely eat there again!

P.S. Oh dear. Realising with a tinge of horror that it is our blogoversary here in TWO DAYS! I am in dire need of a new design…

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In our neighbourhood…

We were driving around our neighbourhood the other day during our OFI (open for inspection) with our cats in the back when I spotted this thing.

Notice anything unusual?

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Yes, I'm talking about that leafy green item.

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Do you realise… this is a LETTUCE???

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Who has lettuce growing on their front nature strip?!

I am tempted to go and harvest this lettuce for my salad.

Bahahaha!!!

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Make-up doesn't last forever, eww

I saw a segment on Sunrise (Channel 7) the other day about how long a make-up product lasts. I think many of us purchases an item and keeps it forever and ever – how many people actually finishes using a product and buys a repeat? I certainly don't…

I'm always seeking out a new mascara, new foundation, new lip gloss, or anything, that I'd like to try. Then I walk into a department store or a skincare shop and find even more products to try. I've collected so many varieties of each kind of make-up, and consequently my cupboard has spilled over into a drawer in the medicine cabinet, as well as an extra storage box… They are filled with all the products that I've tried for a month and moved onto the next thing. I've kept them all.

Well, today, I'm writing to discard that myth that make-up lasts forever. It harbours germs and bacteria, just like any perishable item in the fridge. I compiled a list from that Sunrise segment for how long each make-up item lasts:

Mascara: 3 months

Foundation: 12 months, or liquid foundation: 6 months

Lip gloss: 18 months

Eye shadow & blush: 2 years

Here's the link to the video segment from Sunrise

I think I should throw away 75% of my make-up products. Another way to avoid harmful germs growing in your mascara or lip gloss (eww GROSS, can you imagine that?) is to place the products in the freezer overnight at a frequency of every couple of months – because it can get expensive to throw away stuff so frequently.

We should also be washing our make-up brushes at least every 2 months. I think I'm pretty good with this. I make it a hobby to wash my brushes as I love watching all the brown stuff come out. I know that sounds pretty disgusting, but it's more disgusting to leave it in there! If you have never washed your brushes, I think you would be surprised how much make-up is actually caked on inside those bristles!

So I share with you a washing method I picked up from a magazine:

  1. Place 1/2 cup of bicarb into a small tub of hot-to-boiling water (60-100°C).
  2. Soak the brushes in the tub and leave overnight.
  3. Next morning, wearing rubber gloves, rinse as much dirt off as possible in the bicarb water.
  4. Wash the brushes with a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
  5. Leave out to dry.

The only problem with this is that you might need a second set of brushes to tie you over for that morning, but it is definitely worth it.

With a bit of care, we can avoid harmful germs, and hopefully have clearer skin too!

By the way, don't even think about sharing make-up products with other people, or applying testers to your face! Yuck yuck yuck!

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Red Salad by Nigella

I was watching the Nigella show the other day and picked up this great salad recipe!

I thought I'd like to share this recipe as it is a lot more tasty than it looks or sounds!

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Ingredients (serves 2 as a side)

  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium can of red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Place the chopped red onion in a bowl, and pour the wine vinegar over the top, mixing to coat entirely. Leave aside (for around 5-10 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients)
  2. Rinse the beans and tomatoes, and cut the tomatoes.
  3. Combine everything in a large bowl, and add the olive oil. Mix to combine, and it's ready!
  4. It's really healthy and delicious, and SUPER EASY!

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Congratulations Jessica Watson!

(Photo by Jon Sant Photography)

I have been watching the television coverage of the homecoming of teenage sailor, Jessica Watson. It's an amazing day for this brave young lady, her family, for Australia, and for the sailing world. At the age of 16, she has sailed around the world in her yacht unassisted, an enormous voyage that lasted 210 days.

I remember, 7 months ago, the bumpy start to her journey and how we all watched the news in concern. Would she make it? Every now and then, Jessica's progress was mentioned in the news and I would quietly cheer her on from my lounge room.

In recent weeks, the media had given her somewhat of a tough time, debating whether her solo adventure could be classed as a new world record and copyright issues regarding the name of her yacht. In my mind, all petty bureaucracy that we really didn't need to focus on. My husband and I yelled at the TV screen to give her a break! We don't know Jessica but it's easy to feel excited for her, who at such a young age, tested herself against the elements in a huge adventure that most people would never undertake.

I'm happy that I'm able to pay tribute to Jessica's amazing effort today on my blog. I'm not sure how big this news is outside of Australia, but the welcome at Sydney harbour and at the Opera House is befitting the history that was made today. Jessica Watson is the youngest person to have ever sailed around the world unassisted. I'm sure there is a bright future ahead for this remarkable young lady!!

Hope you're having a great weekend!

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Introducing… Hubby aka Cat Daddy

I’m supposed to be blogging a little more about Adelaide before I leave this charming little town – and I have drafts clogging up the system… but my cats and their blog take up quite a lot of my attention and I’m finding it difficult to keep cat stories away from my own blog. What can I say? They are my little babies!

My routine is back to normal again after a busy couple of weeks – social outings, going to concerts, rehearsals, shopping, having 2 colds, vet visits, etc etc. I mean a lot of it sounds pleasurable and was for sure, however for someone with chronic fatigue that is a lot… I felt BUSY and run down!

Since I stopped working (in 2009), my daily routine has slowly settled into something I can manage, which is like this: Wake up, have breakfast & coffee w/ TV, maybe do some laundry if I feel up to it, have a late morning nap OR read cat blogs, have lunch, have a nap, wake up and wander around the house, listen to classical music, occassionally practise piano, go on the treadmill briefly, have dinner, watch TV, go on the computer, go to bed. Anything more, then I may need days to recover!

This is why having 3 cats is so important to me. Keiko, Kenji and Pricilla each have their own way of keeping me entertained, and they understand that even talking can be exhausting so they just snuggle me. (Of course I understand that they can’t talk human if they wanted to.) I’m their human assistant but I love doing stuff for them. I also have my own assistant, in the form of a loving husband aka cat daddy. Just kidding, Graeme! Loving husband, not assistant, 100%.

He was working in a concert tonight so I baked more muffins – this is him relaxing after he got home –

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I wonder if Keiko just wants a bite of the muffin!P1130410n P1130426n

Aw Keiko trusts her daddy so much!P1130784nP1130773nP1130779n 

Nice time was had by all – well, Graeme at least, he consumed 3 muffins tonight. I chopped the macadamias finer and they came out better I think!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Keiko is so cheeky

I gave tuna to our 3 cats the other night – divided equally among the three, of course! Keiko finished hers first, so she was putting silent pressure on Kenji until he moved away. She is so cheeky because she normally doesn’t even go near Kenji at her own will.

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White Chocolate, Raspberry & Macadmia Muffins

I made these tonight – they’re pretty moreish!

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The recipe (only minutely altered) is from here

White Chocolate, Raspberry and Macadmia Muffins

1/2 cup (95g) white chocolate bits
3/4 cup (155g) caster sugar
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (80g) coarsely chopped macadamias
1 cup (125g) frozen raspberries
1 egg, lightly whisked
1/2 cup (125ml) macadamia oil
3/4 cup (185ml) buttermilk (or milk, which I used)

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tray

  2. Combine the white chocolate, sugar, flour and macadamias in a large bowl. Add the raspberries to the mixture. Stir to combine. Make a well in the centre.

  3. Whisk the egg, oil and buttermilk (or milk) in a jug. Pour into the flour mixture. Gently stir until just combined. Spoon evenly among the pans. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove from oven, set aside for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

I loved these muffins! They were fluffy and moist and had a beautiful nutty flavour. I didn’t have any buttermilk so I just used normal milk. If I had to make any comments, it would be to chop the macadamias smaller than ‘coarsely’ chopped. The larger pieces tend to take chunks out of the muffin when handling them.

The other muffin tip I’ve learned over the years is to only stir the muffin mixture until JUST combined. It’s a fine line between getting a slightly powdery mixture and one that is too smooth. I use a wooden spoon as it helps me combine the mixture quickly. You should end up with fluffy muffins as long as you don’t overstir!

Enjoy!

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