Looking Back & Forward

As of this writing, Mr. Hotpot has already unpacked the last box from our move. It’s a nice welcome to 2013. Also, Welcome Home!

We didn’t get this house with the pool, but this is the house that pulled the trigger  to move. We didn’t exactly want to upsize, we just wanted to have our separate space, detached from the neighbours. Then, we found the house that’s just the right size for our family.
And so this is the house we will call our home in the new year and into the next chapter of our life. Every time a meal is prepared, Sushi asks if we’re having guests over. He is most often disappointed, when nobody's coming. But our house has always been and will always be open to friends and family over simple to great meals, good conversations and lots of laughter, with or without any occasion.

We are thankful for material blessings. But my world does not revolve around them. My jewels are my 2 boys. During the move, we saw how much stuff we have accumulated over the last 6 years we were in the previous home. Like do I really need to save all the kids’ toys for someone until they pile up? Do I really need a number of purses when I only alternate three? Will I ever use all the toiletries I slink out of hotel stays? When I said space, I meant empty space and not room for more. Not filling in the blanks.  So this new year, it’s all about purging down to the bare necessities.  I shall go on with reducing, reusing and recycling. Not buying until I have rummaged my stash. Or it’s one in one out. I just did that with my new pan, and new grilling machine (thanks, Riaz!).

Year after year, my office announces job cuts. But luckily, after 5 years, I am still there, and happy with my job.  Granting me part time work hours has given me the opportunity to become better at my full-time and permanent career as mother and homemaker. Every day at the strike of the clock, I could only look forward to picking up my boys from their school.
This year we went diaper-free and daycare fees free. Weee! Sashimi went to big school this year for JK. Although with resistance at the onset and long interruptions (vacation, move & sick), he has matured tremendously. Same as Sushi, who this year has declared ladies’ washroom no more! Both kids will start the new year in a different school in the new neighbourhood.

Prior to our decision to move house that was followed by weekly househunting, we spent most of our weekends out and about. We’ve been to Blue Mountain, Erindale Park, Chinguacousy Park, Bronte Creek, Hilton Falls, Kelso Beach, Sibbald Point, Niagara, and did Tall Ship Kajama in Harbourfront. My personal favourite was the road trip to Quebec, including the long drive. It’s as if I left Canada, and everybody is French. What's not to love about Quebec. Quelle beauté!

Towards the end of this year, I was happy to go home and see my family again and make a side trip to Singapore. Finally! I never had the chance while I was still on that side of the world. So it was perfect timing. Especially with the newly opened Universal Studios. The kids had a blast!
And so did I!

It is very expensive to go back home, not to mention the entire family having to miss 4 weeks of school and work. But to be with family again – priceless! Most especially to see and spend time with my dad who has fully recovered from his lung surgery earlier in the year. .
It was the longest and saddest weeks of my life. I listened to “Take Me Out of the Dark” everyday around the time of his surgery. I am grateful for the outpouring love and support families and friends have given our family, especially to Dad & Mom, throughout this rough time.

At the end of each year, I would look back on the year that was and thank God for his bountiful blessings – good health, sanity, lots of energy, the abundance of the basic needs and just enough of the wants. But the greatest blessing is my wonderful family, especially my 2 boys unique in their own ways and the hub who leaves me to do what pleases me, and pleases me.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but if I have to make one, that is to spend even more time with my boys. The best things in life are free, and what money cannot buy. That’s my mantra going into the new year.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013!
From the Hotpot Family



Portuguese Dinner

What stuffed me last night...
Chourico a Bombeiro - smoked sausage set on fire in Bagaco (moonshine)
Frango no Churrasco - off-the-grill chicken with rice and parisienne potatoes.
Bife a Casa - house steak served with chip fries
Gambas a la Plancha - tiger shrimp sauteed in Stella Artois beer, herbs & spices.
They also have whole roasted pig.  It was sold out. 

[Pic source]

I don't know how they call it. I call it lechon!

33 Hillcrest Avenue
Mississauga (Hwy10)


New Discovery

While cruising along the new neighbourhood for new restaurants, we chanced upon Ben Thanh Viet Thai Restaurant.  We knew we won't be here for the "Viet", rather the "Thai" dishes.  We ordered the set menu. Two solo sets.  While this may not be your true blue Thai cuisine, it didn't disappoint in portion, price and overall dining experience.  Not to mention it has a regal interior.  We most probably will go back again.

Tiger Shrimp Tom Yum, wonton soup, fresh shrimp roll & deep fried spring rolls.
Red Thai beef curry. The serving is good for 2 to 3... even 4, I think.
We ordered something not spicy for the kids - Mango Chicken - which turned out to be sweet chili. But Sushi enjoyed the mangoes.
The kids fought for their lives for these lychee dessert.
The mango pudding was okay.

Ben Thanh Viet Thai Restaurant
2661 Dundas St, corner of Winston Churchills


Movie Day Bento

Today is Movie Day for Sushi, also the last day of school before the Christmas break. Sushi requested for berries and dried mangoes for his movie snack.  I popped corn in the morning, flavoured with sour cream, to complete the snack.  Banana cake and fruit cup make snack#2 Lunch was raisin bread, lobster balls and brussel sprouts.  .
I will be on two-week bento break for the holidays.  Weeee!


Newtown CT Shooting

The tragic event that transpired in the elementary school in Newtown Connecticut is saddening and disturbing. My heart sank with the news, myself having 2 equally young buys.  I cannot fathom being in that horrible situation, or being a parent of the young victims. I could not even tackle the news without dry eyes. 

My boys' teachers hug each children as they went into the classroom the morning after.  In the afternoon on the way home, they both wanted to talk about "the bad guy" in the car.  Sashimi said, "if a bad guy goes to my school, I will throw garlic naan on his face so he will get messy."  Innocence.

 In the wake of this tragedy, I hug my boys tighter, knowing that somewhere in Connecticut there are parents who have lost a child to embrace.  If I have to deal with my two boys squealing and bickering every day, I will act with more patience and gentleness.  For there is nothing more precious in this world than the children we gave life to and live for.

Moving Day

So I controlled myself from taking any photo of our then empty house. I didn’t want to be emotionally attached to the house that is no longer our home. I know that all the memories we have made in this house, especially with the kids, will forever be in our hearts, and in a lot of our family photos.  On the flipside, there is still so much to be missed. The neighbours (#7, 37, 38, 39, 42 43, 52).  The walking distance to school. The proximity to 401 which makes my daily commute to work a breeze.  The Portuguese corner store. The walk-in clinic (which was so convenient the past weeks).  Heartland Shopping Centre.  The routine we are so used to around the house. The aisles and steps we could pace even with our eyes closed. Every nook and cranny that we decorated, renovated, used, abused, hang out in, neglected, stuffed and now have emptied. *Sigh*

In the interim, this is the entire house inside the truck.


When Life Throws You Lemons

Make orange juice, and then wonder how you did it.

We have just gotten back from our trip - jetlagged and sick - and we are moving house in less than a week. Between now and the move, we have to register the kids [in person] into their respective schools (Sashimi has no spot in the new school so Plan B takes over), meet lawyer to sign docs (another meeting to get housekeys), stop and reroute our mail, continue packing,... and other things.

In between, life goes on. With the family. And the job.


Hope Springs

I have taken a long break from blogging. We recently went on a month-long vacation to the opposite side of the world. While on the long flight leaving Toronto, I watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Coming back, I watched Hope Springs (Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones).

The movie is average but the theme reminds me of Big Mama’s timeless words of wisdom. That there will be frustrations throughout the marriage but to never forget the very reasons you fell in love with each other.


Project of the Day: Binders

This has been a long overdue project that I haven’t tackled until today. The magazine box that houses the manuals/warranty of the appliances/gadgets we have accumulated over the years has exploded.

On my quest to organize one room at a time, I thought to start on a smaller scale – one folder at a time. In this case binders. I went to Dollarama to buy 2 of them. And that’s all I need.

Laid all the manuals/warranty cards out and discarded those that are obsolete and of those appliances we have already gotten rid of.

I punched to my hearts delight. I attached the manuals in different orientation as long as they all fit within the perimeter of the binder.
I kept the manuals for the appliances/device that are affixed to this house together in this Ziploc bag [in the event we shall sell] – central A/C, fireplace, kitchen appliances, CO detectors, down to the garage door opener. I keep this in the kitchen in case I need some troubleshooting.

For the rest of it that are too thick to punch, I attach another Zippy bag into the binder rings and put them all in there.

Mission accomplished.


Adjustable Shower

While Sushi is in training to bathe on his own, I thought the shower system with adjustable slidebar will do the work for my ever growing boys.  It can easily replace the basic showerhead in the bathroom.  Best part, no drilling for Mr. Hotpot!



My view. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Doing dishes.
I'm going to miss this =[

Melona Ice Waffle

New discovery

Now will be constant in the Fridge.



I picked up my boys today from school. Sushi surprised me with this - “Since I’m turning 8, I already made plans for my future. So I can be a step ahead of my friends, I have decided whom I want to marry.” That someone who doesn’t even know the word “crush” has certainly crushed his mother. *fainting*

He talks about this girl every day (and night). How he plans to tell her that he wants to marry her, even if “she might think I’m crazy.”

Borrowing Sashimi’s new line – Seriously?

Please don't grow up too fast.


Corned Beef Sandwich Pockets

I made sandwich pockets today for the kids using Corned Beef as filling. We don't have canned goods too often, but if we do, it's PALM's Corned Beef.

Sushi gets the big pocket. Sashimi gets the small one.
How to make pocket sandwich here.


Gangnam Style

I love how Ellen features audience dancing. I love Ellen. I love Gangnam Style. I horsey-dance with the kids... shhh.


Bento in Progress

My mornings start with me taking out all the ingredients from the fridge or pantry.  Then I start cutting like a Fruit Ninja. I put everything into baking cups, and decides who gets what.

From this
To this

'Tis the Season

It's time to bring out the scarves. 


Bento Update

What have I been up to lately? I am making bento for my 2 boys now - lunch/snack for each one.  It's extra challenging as I have to consider each one's likings and capacity. As Sushi is on his 3rd year with this bento hoopla, I find he has improved so much. No need for fancy cut-outs, he just eats everything. Everyday he comes home with an empty lunch box and a happy Mom! Meanwhile it's still baby steps for Sashimi. Note to self, lower the expectations. So I don't get all disappointed. I see the small improvements everyday nonetheless.


Letting Go

I just took down the decal I have so meticulously put up on Sashimi's room.  Boohoo.  Thought I would be leaving some of my personal touches in the sale of our home. But our agent doesn't agree. Toink!

I'm letting go. It's gone anyway.

Or maybe not...
There it goes until I bury it for good.


Hotel Sepia

On our recent trip to Quebec. We stayed for 2 nights at the very nice boutique Hotel Sepia. It is 10 minutes drive to/from Old Quebec. We didn't mind.

The wallpapers had me at hello.

boutique = modern

The bathroom is small but I like that it's sleek and simple.

I like to copy this design for my basement, except I don't have one =[

We have buffet breakfast everyday at the hotel's Le Galopin.

Even that is boutique-ish.

There's a good view of Pont de Québec & Pierre-Laporte. We enjoyed driving by these bridges to Old Quebec and back.

And the very laidback views of Promenade Samuel de Champlaine. Love it!

Hotel Sepia
3135, chemin Saint-Louis
Québec G1W 1R9