Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Life is beautiful, if you let it be

The ladies are currently flying over the great expanse of Australia.
Boy I miss my mum. These two weeks has gone by way too fast. This was her first big trip after her chemo and Mum was ready to DO things. She couldn't sit down to relax! She had a lot she wanted to do and considering that my 85  year old Popo came along, Mum and I did quite a lot.

I hadn't seen my Mum since October of last year, straight after her surgery and I felt a bit sad that I had to share her with my Popo. Popo can't walk very well without an aid of a walker which she refused to bring to Australia because she's "not handicapped". This made going out to sightsee very difficult. Very difficult. Our days had to be planned around Popo's capability of moving about, so many days were spent going out half the day and the other half, at home. This is fine by me, I'm a home body anyways but Popo came with a lot of complaints. This made it hard for me to enjoy my mum's visit as I felt like I needed to pacify Popo to make things easier for Mum. Popo constantly wished she was back home, when asked if she was enjoying herself, she would reply " What's there to enjoy?". 
I'm sure, even with her badttitude, she must have enjoyed all the outings. It sure beats sitting at home and cleaning a house for one.

Despite all of that, Mum and I managed to enjoy our selves to some capacity!

Not so happy smiles. Mum and I on her last day of her holiday.
I made her a raspberry beret.

Things we did:

Visit Gardenworld in Springvale. The collector's corner is worth the drive and ok ok, the pho in Springvale is pretty good as well.  Popo admired the bountiful orchids and roamed amongst the different varieties of bromeliads, orchid cacti and abundant succulents.  Exotic plant heaven really. We bought some succulents for the front garden and had a good shop around the Springvale market. Bought a few abalones for some Chicken and Abalone soup (THE BEST) and had our fill of Asian vegetables.    

Mum admires Aaron's Highland pitcher plant hanging in the guest bathroom.

Mum at Gardenworld by the cool Donkeytail wall.

Mum, Popo and I at Gardenworld.

Mum and Popo devouring small bowls of Pho.

Popo got me this Bougainviella, it reminds me of her home in Limbok.

We also went to the Latrobe University Sunday market which was a good mixture of plants, fruit and vegetable stands and bric a bracs.

On most nights, we played Mahjong. Night times are a bit slow for Popo because there is no Chinese TV for her to watch (the only saving grace is the HK news at 11am everyday on SBS). Mum and I decided it would be a good idea to play Mahjong to gauge how good her eyesight really is. She is diagnosed with AMD and still insists she can drive... and does. This has put the entire family into a bit of a worry state. The conclusion?
She has to change how she "see" things. She can't see things up close at all, but can see things in a distant. She would pick up a mahjong tile and instinctively bring it close to her eyes and squint. We taught her to bring it up close then slowly move the tile away from her eyes until it is focused. She found this profoundly better and less frustrating. It is akin to focusing a microscope. This is a slow process and in no way, is she able to make split minute decisions needed in driving when she can't see objects close to her (aka her mph or even blind spots). Playing mahjong not only allowed us to judge her actual eyesight but it allowed Popo to engage her brain. I'm a huge believer that an idle brain fades. Socialisation of elderlies are so vital to retaining their brain functions. The sad fact is that Popo socialises less due to her physical deterioration. I wish there were old lady groups that we could get to go to her to play Mahjong with her once a week.
Aside from Popo reengaging her brain in a new way, Aaron learnt a lot of Cantonese. Alright, so they are all related to Mahjong but it is helping him with numbers.

The other thing we did was to landscape the weirdo triangular section in our front yard by the garage. Aaron and I had previously hauled a few huge and medium size rocks to create a more interesting side garden. While Popo sat and enjoyed the nice weather, Mum and I dug, placed rocks and planted varies succulents. We bought river stones to create a river that leads your eye up to the top of the house.

Succulents from the backyard were planted into crevices of the rock garden.

With room to grow and spread, these rosettes  create an attractive contrast.
Succulent ground covers would spread themselves out. I can't wait to see what this space looks like in a year!

Aaron and I bought a workbench from Masters months and months ago. Mum and I finally assembled which freed up more space.

Speaking of more space in the garage, Mum and I made a really simple hanger for the bigger tools. Mum and I bonded over drill bits and nails.

Voila! Spades, rakes, diggers are all hung up!

We also got these lovely wine barrels from Masters and planted our herbs in there. They finally have a home and more area to grow into.

Also, what's the point of having an artist Mum and not get her to paint you a piece for the new house?!
Mum got drawing and painting on a two piece panel for our dining room. Mum is doing a new series for her Art show this year and decided she would do the same style for our dining room piece. Since Aaron is a huge bird fan, especially Galahs, Mum did a long piece with a few of them. It looks amazing and now that she has left, I'm to finish the piece!

One thing Mum wanted to do was to get me my tea set for my wedding. It is a mother's present to their daughter for their wedding and to be passed on. We went to T2 and got a teapot and some tea cups of this gorgeous design. It's so special and I just love the pattern and vibrant colours.

Mum and I also started on making favours for the wedding.
To be continued...


After a decade of studying, Aaron has finished all requirements for graduation. It has been a tough, frustrating journey for him and I. We stuck it through many tears, tiffs and renewed enthusiasm and lessons about how not to treat each other from this very trying period. To celebrate his graduation, Mum and I shouted Aaron to a lavished dinner. We went to Shanghai Dynasty because of a review I read about the gaudy Versace decorations but really really good food. It just seemed like a place for a good celebratory dinner. Boy, were we right.

That fish. Amazing.
Snow crab with foie gras  and noodles. STAND OUT DISH. Holy crap, unami overload.

Mountain fungus. This was also freaking amazing. Jelly fish in the background.

We also went out for Yum cha. Decent Yumcha is hard to come by in Seremban and Portland, so we had to bring the ladies to Doncaster. Also, Aaron got his fix of chicken feet. You can obviously see his euphoria in this photo:


We hit quite a few cafes. Mum has to get her fill of flat whites before returning to the land of drip coffee.

On the weekdays, we alternated between having breakfast at home and going out to a cafe. Fortunately, there are a few outstanding cafes near us and both ladies enjoyed the atmosphere, food and coffee immensely.  
I brought the ladies to Tancks Corner which is a really cute cafe that shares a space with the local post office. They do stellar coffee and food and has many eye candy merchandise to boot!

 Australian eggs, that orange. Oh boy.

 On another day, we went to Two beans and a farm which is situated at the Carome homestead. It is a lovely place where you are bound to see kangaroos with vegetable patches for locals to rent out by the year to garden. The blue stone cottage sits on an expanse of kangaroo hopping land.  The food there is good but the service makes it even better. Jam guy, as he is known to us, makes his own concoctions of jams with exotic  combinations and an infectious personality.

The beautiful interior.

She may be 85 but this lady EATS. Truth, she needed no help in finishing an entire loaf of sour dough bread.

My cute Mum with her granola.

The other cafe around our place is the newly owned Turners Bakehouse. We wanted to take the ladies there because the north face of the building used to be covered in staghorns. It was an impressive site!! However, since the owners have changed, they have taken their staghorns with them. Sad face. It really was something. 

Oh yea, we also went to Old Kingdom for Duck done three way. OMG that duck was amazing. So so good. We are thinking of booking this place for our families and friends for our rehearsal dinner. There won't really be any rehearsal but a gathering of our loved ones and lots and lots of ducks.

Last Saturday, we ventured out to South Melbourne to have breakfast at Chez Dre. The coffee is nothing to write about at Chez Dre but the breakfast and atmosphere is pretty neat.

What else do you do when you have to wait for seating? Take precious photos.



Mum and her moroccan spiced breakfast.

Aaron and his brioche french toast.
 We had a good snoop around at the shops and market at South Melbourne.

There were a lot of eating and cooking at home as well! Mum and I made quite a few Chinese comfort dishes. Aaron had dinner ready when he got home everyday! 
Mum roasting her famous lemon Chicken.
Popo making dumplings.
I made hand cut noodles with left over dough. I spoiled it by blanching them for way too long!

We also had friends over for some Low Sang.

Now the house is quiet and life is back to the old grind. We have to wait till December to hear the pitter patter of niece and nephew feet, Mum's laughter and UJ's " HA?!"


batts said...

TIFF you have such talents, thank you for sharing your mum's visit. It is perfect in every. way! I am so happy you guys have this time together!

Your title is so true,
Love it!

charinthecity said...

Oh, so much eating, and so much love! It's hard to have Popo along when walking is difficult but she will only remember the fun bits when she's home... My Jia Poh told me off big time for looking at walking sticks while we were at the mall in Chch, she's proud and vain!

I am so jealous of your lovely Melbourne Pho. It is definitely one of my big (pregnancy) cravings. Sadly, too far away to enjoy it, it's not the same here in the UK.

I'm happy you had such a great time together, wedding prep sounds like it is going well too. xxx

Valerie Adams said...

I foresee alot of eating and mahjong in dec yo! Love it!

cheeyeanartwork.com said...

We hve UJ to thank for the advice he gave on making the wood strips stay flat on the garage wall!
Looking at the pics, I wish I could relive thoe two weeks all over again but I have a feeling December will be UNFORGETTABLE!!