Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homestay in Campsie Sydney

We were in Sydney just last week for our yearly vacation. The last time we were in Australia was at Melbourne in 2012.  We bought the flight ticket like one year ahead during the AirAsia midnight sale and our ticket was only Rm17, not including tax and what not. Since Sydney is a metropolitan city, everything is expensive. And after searching hi-and-lo I manage to find this little home stay via It's in Campsie, ard 20 mins away from the city if you are traveling with the train. And this little home stay is just are 10mins walk away from the train station. Traveling in Sydney with the public transportation is very easy, because everything is on time and the bus/trains comes very frequent. It is a quiet town and mostly Asians stay here, with few Asian mini markets and a Woolsworth nearby if you wanna shop for groceries. 

When we arrived, our host welcomed us with his baby. Then we found out it was actually his home and whenever he has guests coming over, he'd go on holiday with his family. How cool is that! It is very homely with many personal touch like their certificate, his partners' train toys from 20 over years ago, books, boardgames, Movie DVDs and so much more.

It's been a while since I have posted our pictures in this blog. I have no choice because people actually steal my pics, took my son's pic and put in the adoption site. So I have to watermark my pics big big now.

The master bedroom with the baby cot.

The very spacious kitchen that is fully equipped with all cooking utensils.

if cooking indoor is not enough, you can have a mini Barbecue party just outside at the balcony. 

The 2nd bedroom which our kids trashed later. 

The shared toilet. Everything you need is here. Clean towels, Shampoo for adults and kids too. And even rubber ducky toys for the kids to play when they bath. There are also washing machine and dryer located at the common laundry area at ground floor.  For this vacation, we packed really light since we don't have to bring towels and only brought a few sets of clothings. Everynight I just wash our clothes and it's dried the next day.

Overall we are very happy with the stay here in this little cute flat. The price is reasonable. I think we spent ard Rm1800+ for 6 days and 5 nights. This was my first time using airbnb to book our accommodation and I'm quite please with it. Will continue to use it to plan for my other trips.

  • If you are traveling with your family of 4 on SUNDAY, you can purchase the AUD2.50 tickets (for one person) from newstand that entitle you to travel with any train/bus/ferry for the entire day.
  • If you have 2 kids, you only have to pay for one kid. The 2nd kid travels FREE.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Growing Pumpkin: Why Pumpkin Flower Dies and Drop off

There are a few reasons as to why pumpkin flowers dies or falls off.

One of the reason is that it wasn't pollinated. You need male and female flower to appear at the same time so that bees & ants can pollinate the flowers. If you have only female or male and none of the other sex, the fruit will not form.
Left : male pumpkin flower
Right: Female pumpkin flower.

As for my case, I was wondering how come the flower did not even bloom and it started to dies off. So I monitored my pumpkin flowers and I found out that the fruit flies stung my flower even before they bloom.

this is how the flower looks like after it is stung.

So in order to save my pumpkin flowers, I got to net them up and wait for them to bloom and then hand pollinate them using a brush.

Keep an eye on the flowers and as soon as they bloom, remove the net and hand pollinate it.

If there are fruit flies attacking your flower and fruits, you have to net all of them even after you have pollinated them. Fruit flies can also sting through net, so to be safe use finer nets, thicker nets, or wrap with newspaper and secure with a net.

At the same time you have to trap the fruit flies FAR AWAY from your garden and NOT in your garden. You have to use the fruit fly hormone and build something like this. 

Why put it far away from your garden? The smell of the hormone can last for months. they will come from few KM radius and attack all your fruits and vege like brinjals, tomatoes, basically every damn thing in your garden. So get rid of it and also prevent them attacking your pumpkin flowers at the same time. I did this and I manage to harvest 6 pumpkins. Actually there was 7, but the last one dropped off. Maybe the fruit fly manage to puncture the net. But nevertheless the effort pays really well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Essential tool for Banana Mum

Do you have a child that is going to chinese school and you're a banana mum?

Me too!

In fact I have 2 that will attend chinese school in 2015. And since I can't read or write chinese, I usually have to ask people around about what did the principal just announced and so on. But then filling forms might be a problem cos you cannot ask people to fill up for you. So 2 years ago, I went and ordered name stamps for JD and I used it when I had to fill in forms. It was so easy. So this coming year, JT will be going to standard 1 and I made new ones, with bigger fonts this time.

A standard name stamp like this is about Rm 4.50. But it also depends on your design and size.
I usually stamp all my son's textbooks, activity book and buku latihan with this too and I can use it right until they graduate from primary school. I'd say it's a rather cheap and good investment for a banana mum like me :D

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sasha Bakes: Pumpkin Hokkaido Bread

Harvested 6 pumpkins from my garden a month ago and gave 5 away. Left with one and wondering what to do with it. A quarter went into the soup. And left with 3/4. Many people in my FB asked me to make bread with it and so I thought , why not?

So googled for pumpkin bread and end up with a few versions of pumpkin Hokkaido bread and I wrote down till I have no idea where I got it from. Anyway I tried to add in and minus some of my own and here's the final recipe:

Pumpkin Hokkaido Bread

  • 100gm Steamed pumpkin (you don't have to mash it up, just dunk it into the Bread Maker)
  • 125 fresh milk
  • 1tbsp milk powder
  • 8tsp castor sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 egg
  • 75gm Whipping Cream
  • 330gm Bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp Clabber Girl Double Action Baking Powder
  • 40gm cake flour
  • 1tsp yeast (make a well in the flour)
  • After first beep add in 1 tbsp softened butter
  • Raisin, chia seed, pumpkin seed/sunflower seed (add in according to your preference)

Add in the ingredient from top to bottom following the sequence.
Sweet mode
Light crust
Big loaf

And your bread is ready in 2:55 hours.

Your can omit the double action baking powder, it's just that when I use that for my bread, the bread remains fluffier longer for few days. By then everything should be gone :)

The bread is cakey-bread feeling. It's sweet and very filling. You can eat it just like that, like a cake.
Definitely a keeper. Love the colour especially!

  • To get evenly cut bread, you can buy the bread slicer from Mr.DIY for rm7.90.
  • A good bread knife is very crucial to get nice cut.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Growing pumpkins

My aim this year is to be able to plant And get at least ONE pumpkin. You know what? I got 6. *lol* it was a mental moment for me cos the plant grew wild, covered the entire veggie garden area, there was hardly any sun shining the plants underneath it (cos I elevated the plant 7 ft off the ground) , alot of mosquito, and the worst was when female flowers appearing without male and I went hunting around looking for make flowers *LOL* those were the funniest moment I had while growing pumpkins for almost 7 months.
Left: male flower
Right: female flower. Notice that female has a fruit attached

How to pollinate? Use a brush and brush the pollen in the middle of the male flower and then brush it into the middle of the female flower. Make sure you brush in enough supply of pollen , otherwise your pumpkin will not make it and it will either appear like a deflated pumpkin or just rot and falls off . From my experience Only the flower that bloom on the same day can be use to pollinate. 
Once pollinated successfully you can know it the next day cos the fruit will grow alot. 
See how it transformed in just a couple of  weeks. Amazing. 

And then more and more flowers appear and I was busy running around doing the pollination work cos I had to net my flowers due to the existence of fruit fly. If there wasn't any fruit flies, the bees and ants will be able to the do the pollination for me. 
these are the baby pumpkins few days after pollination. 

and the baby grew! My first hand pollinated pumpkin. 

The biggest , the one that I had to give to my mum, just because she called me a plant murderer. She changed her mind now, I hope :P

And these were the 6 big babies that I have harvested. See that the stems are not short, it is advisable to cut it further away from the fruit cos the stem will slowly dries off, while it dries, it will bring virus and will cause the fruit to rot.  Leave the fruit at least 2 weeks before you consume it. Cos the glucose is building in there and making the pumpkin extra sweet!

One picture for the record, cos I am never going to grow pumpkins in my garden anymore.
Unless it's a baby pumpkin, or a non creeping one. hehe

I had 6 and gave away 5 to my mum, my 2 sisters in law, my ex neighbour and my 2nd sister.
And here was the first pumpkin that I have hand pollinated and left untouched for a month.

Mission accomplished. One Target Achieved for this year! :D