Saturday, 30 June 2012

100 000

Oh no - I missed the 100 000th visitor to this blog! Bugger!!!
Who would've thought though... oaw... 100 000 visitors!!! That's amazing!

Thank YOU one and all, for reading my blog!
I send some cyber love to all of you. ♥

First ride

This morning Nathan took Granddad out for his first ride in six months! Not much riding going on in India apparently.
Granddad got to test the new frame and was mighty impressed.
It can't have been too bad, they still had lots of smiles for me when they got back!

Friday, 29 June 2012


The number one question when people find out that Nathans family lived in Brunei before (his parents were here with RBA 1988-1998, and Nikki was here 3 1/2 years during that period teaching at ISB) is - "Has it changed much?" Always pronounced with a very suspicious undertone, like no one can actually believe that anything here would have changed in the last 10-15 years! :)

Nikki says it's a weird feeling being here because everything looks and feels so familiar, but still she is totally lost! So many new buildings and even whole new areas (new and fancy, compared to when they were here) restaurants, malls and shops and above all - new roads!
Back then there were no motorways, no under- or overpasses, no roundabouts, no traffic lights, no big two-lane streets etc; the ease with which we drive around now has really impressed them.

Well, the "improving" is sure testing my patience at the moment, along our road - Jalan Muara. They have been working on widening it for months and months and months, but all they've accomplished so far, is more confusion and more road blockage..!
This is how one part is looking at the moment:

It's quite exciting every day to see which part of it we get to drive on today! They keep covering different parts of it with tarmac over and over again, not sure why it's taking them so long. In the meantime, it's a nightmare trying to get home this way, especially in the busy hours of the day. I sure hope we will notice the improvement once it's done. *Sigh*

Into the Harry Potter universe

Nathan and I spend a month down in Tunisia when he was on a wet lease from Sterling back in the day. I had brought the whole Harry Potter series along and read the books on the beach, one after the other. Amazingly captivating stories, as exciting to read for adults as they are for children!

I made a point in buying them all in the same design, not only because I wanted them to look nice on our bookshelf. I didn't buy the ones that had "adult" covers because I wanted them to look "kid friendly", for our future children when they would grow old enough to start reading them.

Well, we have now, 11 years later, actually reached that point in time..!
The kids both have found a love for reading and are reading themselves before bedtime every night. They also bring their books in the car every morning when I take them to school, and read all the way there. It's truly wonderful. Especially since I've always loved reading and think it's a great pass-time.

Liam came here having read the first HP book, so he sunk his teeth into number two; and Lucas then thought he might be ready to start the HP saga as well.
He was a bit worried they would be scary books, but now after having read the first two chapters in the first book - he's well and truly hooked!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Fish & Co

The other day we tried a newly opened restaurant in the Citi Square by the airport - the Fish & Co. It's actually a chain that already is established in many countries around the region like Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia just to mention a few.
Since last month, Brunei now has it's very own outlet!

We had heard mixed reviews about this restaurant, but mostly good, so we decided to give it a go for lunch. The menu was rather extensive with lots of different seafood cooked in many different ways, but we all got hooked by their page of international fish & chips choices!

Nikki went for the NY style (stuffed with parmesan cheese), Liam the Swiss version (stuffed with gruyere cheese) and Caitlin chose the Italian fish & chips (stuffed with mozzarella cheese and chili flakes and served with tomato sauce).

Nathan and I decided to try the Danish fish & chips (stuffed with mozzarella cheese), would be rude not to! :)

It was all very, very yummy and very fresh. But bit on the pricier side we thought... at least for being Brunei.
The portions were humongous, two people could have shared one and still been full! I would've preferred a smaller portion and paying a bit less!

But, we will be back, for sure. It was a surprisingly pleasant restaurant experience, great to have another nice place to go for lunch.

Karma's a bitch

We have been discussing big life lessons at our house lately.
We got told the other day that Linnea had not been very nice to a few of her friends at school and were asked to talk to her about it (although the teacher thought it might be down to "end-of-term-itis"...) - and it so happens that the same day we were also told she had been pushed into a door by another kid at school, and she came home with a big graze down her back.

Nathan tried to tell her that maybe it was karma? Maybe because she hadn't been nice to someone it all went around and someone else was then not nice to her... Linnea didn't quite grasp the concept of 'what goes around comes around' though - maybe trying to teach a 6-year old about karma is a little bit early? :)


May I show you this..:

An empty lunch box! Result!
Yay for bentos!

An Indian Santa

Grandma arrived on Tuesday, and it was like Christmas all over again, again - she unpacked present after present after present after... well, you get the picture!

The boys got amongst other things clothes and books and the girls got clothes, bags, typical Indian bracelets and trinket boxes, and these cool hair stickers:

Us "big girls" also got clothes, jewellery, scarves and a clutch each; and Nathan got some cool t-shirts.

'Spoiled' sure is the word of the week. Thank you Grandma!

NZ lunch

It was my turn to host the Craft Club on Tuesday, and even though we are now somewhat even more a decimated group wit Kim already gone to Canada for the summer - the pressure is still on.
There was only four of us on Tuesday (well, seven including the kids and Nathan), and I convinced Nikki to show me her version of 'Bacon & Egg Pie'.
It was so yum!

She also made us a Pavlova for dessert. It looked fantastic coming out of the oven!

Then it turned out, we had a bit of a wax-paper issue... and it was near to impossible to get it off the paper!

Unfortunately it crumbled completely in our rescue process... But, it didn't really matter for the end result - we had enough cream to cover all the mess up, and then Caitlin decorated it with golden kiwi fruit!

Still tasted exactly as it should! A lovely NZ lunch!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

B for Bento

The bento craze is spreading in Brunei, and I've decided to hop on that wagon too! I like being creative, and anything to get the kids to eat more of their lunch. I'm not really expecting/planning to go all out and create "proper" bentos though, but more some jazzed up and appetizingly decorated lunch boxes!

Here's my first attempt, an elephant with it's baby amongst the grass and flowers, with a tree next to it and the sun shining down on them! :)

I also made a separate snack box with some biscuits and fruit - cut out moose-melon! (It was the smallest cookie cutter I had!)
I'm really curious to see what the kids think of their lunch tomorrow!

More info about bentos:

"A bento lunch is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch, similar in concept to the Indian tiffin, the Korean dosirak, or the Filipino baon lunch. In Japanese, “bento” or “obento” refers to the packed meal, and “bento-bako” refers to the bento box itself." (From Wikipedia)

The Five Fives
Since bento comes to us from Japan, the following guidelines are the basis of all washoku (=Japanese cuisine), and are grouped into fives sets of five rules - the “Five Fives”.
The first four rules are important to create a balanced meal. Each bento should incorporate the five “elements” listed under their “rule” title. The fifth rule, well... most people oversee that one a bit.

1. Goshiki (=Five colors)
Incorporate at least five colors, it makes your lunch a feast for your eyes!

2. Goho (=Five methods)
Incorporate five different cooking methods. F.e simmer, steam, grill, fry, raw, bake, toast, saute, stew etc.

3. Gomi (=Five flavors)
Give your taste buds some variety! Try and fit in salty, sour, sweet, bitter and spicy.

4. Gokan (=Five senses)
You don't have to cover each one of the five senses with each food, but it's something to strive for!

5. Gokan no mon (=Five outlooks)
This is the one most people ignore or overlook. This guideline follows the Buddhist doctrine referring to the state of mind you should have while eating.
1. Ponder deep gratitude for the people who prepared the meal.
2. Perform deeds and have thoughts worthy of receiving such nourishment.
3. Partake of food with no ire (=anger).
4. Realize that eating this food is feeding the soul as well as the body.
5. Be seriously engaged on the road to enlightenment.

(Info taken from here)

Mission failed

Nikki tried to get all four cousins on a photo together at the Yacht Club on the weekend. It didn't really work out too well, the kids weren't very cooperative, ha ha! These shots were the best she got:

Lucky we still have 3 more weeks to succeed!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Week 1

Since school is still on for our kids, plus their other normal activities; Zumba, Hash, CrossFit and stuff is still on for me, and work for Nathan - Nikki and the White kids have kind of just been tagging along for the time being.
They've already been here a whole week though, time flies!

They've been looking around a bit in the shops, Nikki came to Zumba and we also had our nails done for the Summer Ball on Saturday, the kids stayed at school for the day last Friday to watch the Assembly and take part of the rest of the lessons. Also during the weekend, we had some birthday parties, dancing and time at the Yacht Club.
We've been having most of our lunches out, they've already been introduced to both Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Indian food!

Tonight Grandma arrived and next we're waiting for Granddad's arrival on Friday, and then... I guess it'll be FULL ON!

Make me smile

One of the hospitals here have a drive at the moment with a reduced price on their professional whitening teeth procedure. Nathan and I decided to give it a go and went for a consultation last week to make sure we would be able to do it.
It turned out my teeth were actually already quite white according to their scale system, so the Dentist couldn't really give any guaranties the treatment would make a big difference. A difference of a few shades yes, but maybe not a big one. They can't tell in advance how the Britesmile procedure affects each individual person. Nathan on the other hand was a prime candidate with yellower teeth, and he got told it would make a huge difference for him. We both still decided to go for it.

We couldn't do it at the same time since they only have one machine, so I went first, last Friday. I was a little bit apprehensive since spending about 3 hours in a Dentists chair is not really one of my favourite past-times but it was actually a very pleasant experience.

It took about 20-25 minutes to get prepped and ready, and this was actually the more uncomfortable part of the whole thing. They had to get all these things into my mouth to keep it open, and to keep the tongue protected; some kind of barrier cream got applied over the gums so they wouldn't be affected by the light and there was all sorts of protection for the lips, cheeks and nose.

Then they applied the Britesmile gel on the teeth and the treatment started. It was done in 4 lots of 20 minutes with the UV light shining at my teeth. Luckily for me, it wasn't painful at all. I kept waiting for the discomfort I had been warned could occur, but instead I actually fell asleep a few times! :)

In between the four treatment periods, new gel got applied to the teeth and I was allowed to move around a little bit in the chair. It sure felt good though when it was all done, and they removed everything out of my mouth, aaahhh.

Nathan went today to do his treatment and he had experienced a bit more discomfort than I did, both with the treatment itself and shooting pain in the teeth, but also with the equipment in the mouth that he found very uncomfortable.

So, the result?
Well... no one has yet commented my new and improved teeth, not even the kids noticed the difference, so I don't think anyone else will either. It's not a huge difference, you kind of need to see the before and after photos to notice it.
If anything my teeth "just" looks really perfectly clean and white. There is no discolouration at all, but neither are they "glowing in the dark-white"!

For Nathan it made a bit of a bigger change, he now has a very nice white smile! :)

I guess we are both happy, but we wouldn't bother doing it again. It feels nice though having perfectly white teeth and I hope they'll stay like this for a while!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tyre update

I took my tyre to the tyre-fixing-people today, showed them my problem and had to try really hard to hold back a giggle when the man seriously said "Hmmm, yes, you got nailed"...
Well, it took all of about 7 minutes for them to fix the tyre:

... and then even less than that to change my spare to the fixed one, and stow away the spare again!
It was like a scene out of 'Cars', the only thing missing was Luigi calling "Pit stop!".

And guess my surprise afterwards, when the very kind mechanic who didn't speak english very well held up three fingers when I asked how much it was - and I tried to give the cashier $30 (well, I had no clue and that seamed reasonable to me!). She giggled and said "No, no ma-am, only $3"!
THREE dollars to get your tyre fixed and changed - what a bargain!!

Summer Ball 2012

Saturday night saw us all going to the yearly Loan Service Summer Ball. We've been to a few before, 2008, 2009 and 2011. (Not sure why we didn't go or it didn't happen 2010?)
This year it was arranged at the newly renovated and sprused up Kota Batu Yacht Club, and it was a really lovely evening.
It started with some Bucks Fizz on the deck, and some photos of course:

Then we sat down for a five course meal. We all had chosen different main courses, Nikki had a very yummy lamb shank, Nathan the tenderloin and I ate the fish. It was all really yummy.

The JIS band was playing but we didn't quite feel their music I must admit. We kept saying to each other "we'll dance to the right song!", but it never seemed to come along... Shame.
Still, it was a very good night with very nice people! Good times!

Surfin' USA

Last Friday my Zumbatomic Starz at JIS were doing a performance at the Assembly. Auntie Nikki came to watch, and of course also Liam and Caitlin who actually stayed at school with the kids that whole day.
This term I had 21 kids in the group, whereof half of them came from Year 1 - Linnea and her friends. I guess their little IPC Zumba must have given them the bug last term since they all signed up after! :)

They were fantastic, of course! They did a Zumbatomic routine to 'Surfin' USA' and they all did a great, great job!
Here's a little style study:

And, this is how I looked, cueing them from the back of the room! :D

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Not again...

Us girls all went to dancing on Saturday, watched Linnea for a while and then had a yummy lunch at Fleur-de-Lys, as usual. The afternoon was going to be busy, we had quite a few jobs to do but when we came out from dancing, we realized we had a flat tyre! AGAIN! Can you believe it!?
Nathan had just sat down for lunch at the Yacht Club with the boys, so I called the 24/7-service that we actually have, for this time.

The friendly mechanic was there within 10 minutes, and it took him even less I think to change the tyre for me! Fantastic!

Here's the culprit..!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

They are here!

Nathan was operating the Singapore flight that our visitors came in on yesterday. They arrived in Brunei about midnight after a very long trip (from Aberdeen), and went to bed pretty much straight away after a quick snack.

This morning, certain little people in the house were all awake at 05.00 am (...) and were squealing with delight of seeing each other again (after three years), so at about 05.45 the rest of us gave up and got up too..!

So before normal getting-up time, we were all in full swing opening presents and I was on my second cup of coffee!
Linnea and Lucas had picked out presents for their cousins, and Linnea had helped me wrapped them and write some letters to put on their beds for their arrival:

We all also received some wonderful gifts from Scotland. Linnea got a Loch Nessie necklace, some local sweets, a London 2012 Olympic pen, a beautiful dress, a Scotland t-shirt, a Highland Cow bookmark and a Matryoshka doll from Russia.

Lucas got the same pen and sweeties, a Nessie bookmark, a Scotland t-shirt, an airplane book, a Star Wars t-shirt and a book about the history of Scotland that Liam had picked for him. :)

Nathan got a funky Scottish bagpiper, that quickly found his place at the bar!

And I got a cute wallet from Ness, a necklace made out of Scottish Heather from Heathergems and... NZ Pineapple Lumps!

I also "got" a big stack of Zumba wear I had ordered from the UK Zumba shop AND a pretty parcel from Harrods, with some Zumba clothes from their exclusive Harrods Zumba Wear collection:

It felt like Christmas! :)