JUST SNAPPED @littleswallowchinadoll

Asian inspired wraps

You'd think that being a mother would start once you gave birth, but judging by the quantity of baked goods and homemade meals radiating from my kitchen in the last couple of months, it clearly starts way before any baby arrives. 

Now if only I could sew, I'd be the perfect mother. If perfect mothers had cleaners.

Things I've been mulling over while mooching around the kitchen this week:
  • Whether taking a newborn on a tour around Japan is a good idea
  • Why companies lose their humanity as they grow
  • If airfares to Savannah are expensive all year round, or just in summer
  • How to take better photos in the kitchen
  • Which restaurants I absolutely must take my mum to when she visits
  • What reason I could possibly have for trying to make my own pho when I can wander up the road and enjoy it for £6 without the hassle of cleaning up

Anyway. Make these wraps. Your husband will tell you it's the tastiest meal he's had in ages (until you whip up your next meal, obviously) and you'll feel like you're the healthiest kid on the block. Plus it's super simple, so you'll be free to allow your mind to wander (do let me know if you have answers to any of my questions above).

You'll need:
  • 225g rump or sirloin steak
  • Garnishes of your choice to wrap: we used spring onions, cucumber and coriander
  • A head of iceberg lettuce, leaves separated, for wrapping
Blitz the following in a mini food processor:
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 tsps of dark soft brown sugar
  • 2 pieces of jalapeno peppers (from a jar)
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tsps of sesame oil
  • 2 tsps of vegetable or groundnut oil, whatever you have on hand
Then thinly slice your steak into strips and pour the marinade over them, ensuring the steak is thoroughly coated. While your steak is absorbing the tasty goodness, whiz up your dipping sauce in the food processor:
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 piece of jalapeno pepper
  • 2 tsps of dark soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsps rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsps Thai fish sauce
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed
Sear your strips of steak in a smoking fry pan lightly brushed with oil for a mere 30 seconds on either side, and you're ready to wrap up your tasty steak parcels and dip. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted courtesy of Delia.

Pearl Liang, Paddington

Holy crap, I'd forgotten how hard full time work is. Most evenings I've barely kept my eyes open after dinner, I was so exhausted by having to use my brain again. You'd have thought I hadn't worked for a year, not just had a little break.

Hallelujah for Saturday. And dim sum. Two of my favourite things. 

Pearl Liang is definitely the new top of my dim sum list. Top quality taste, everything comes out steaming hot, and *drumroll* you can actually book. YES. Gone are the days of starving in line outside in the freezing cold until our number is called. Hello happiness.

I'll spare you the million pictures of dumplings, sticky rice, spare ribs and chicken feet that accompanies all good dim sum excursions but trust me when I say this is the place to go. For everything.

In fact, the CG claims their roast pork is the best he's had in any country. He could just be right.

And did I mention THESE custard buns? Steamed and then lightly fried. A-ma-zing.

Chinese New Year is just around the corner, which might be just the excuse we need to go back and try the dinner menu. Oh, who am I kidding? Like we need an excuse.

Pearl Liang on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Chapter 2014: here we go

Aaaaaaaand I'm finally pulling my finger out and getting back on the blogging bandwagon. I've been in a weird flux where what I've wanted to say I haven't been allowed to discuss, so I just....didn't say anything at all. You know how it is. 

Plus we had this massive 22 person Christmas to enjoy, and the week around it, which was a nice distraction.

So the quick update is that I finished one job this week, and tomorrow I'm starting another. I was all kinds of worried about being knocked up and not able to get work given I'm a ticking time bomb of baby birthing, but my old workplace miraculously got in contact with an opportunity that could not have worked out more perfectly. Now I not only get to work with Miss J (amongst others) again, but I'm back on a 21 minute train ride commute with a seat pretty much guaranteed in the mornings. BAM! No more sardine-tin-I'm-about-to-faint rides while heavily pregnant. Alls well that ends well.

I just know that time is going to speed by now, so I better get cracking on ticking off a few more to do's before life changes once and for all. Like making meringues. Which I did last night. Gawd, how my Saturday nights have changed.

So this is a happy new year from me to you - 2014 is going to ROCK. Albeit mostly soberly. And in a more "bouncing baby" than "crowd surfing at live gigs" fashion. Bring it on.

New Year's Non Resolutions

This post originally appeared on Laugh Lots, Travel Often.

I don't believe in new years resolutions. By my thinking, if you want to do something, why not just do it? What difference does it make if it's the first of January or the 20th of September? Approximately none, that's how much. The only difference is that you and a million other people will likely berate yourselves for not having the willpower to stick at it somewhere between the 3rd and 20th of January. Whereas if you fall off the bandwagon in September, when nobody knows about it, did it ever really happen?

I am however, a great believer in new beginnings. I like imagining different parts of my life as chapters in a big story. Granted, some chapters are more boring than others, but I like to think they all have the redeeming quality of being mildly humorous, peppered with my sterling wit as they all are.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to begin a new chapter, if for no other reason than Facebook now offering your year in highlights - which makes recapping your last chapter in photos and status updates exceptionally easy.

2014 is the start of a big new beginning for me. There's the usual stuff: I finished up one job this week on new years eve, and I start a new one next Monday. And then there's the big stuff: having a baby. Which means actually being fiscally responsible. Not eating out at the drop of a hat (not least because that would require organisation). Ditto re travelling. Getting big as a house before handing my life over to a little bundle of joy. Waking up when I don't want to, doing load after load of washing, worrying about colic.

But you know what? I'm looking forward to it.

I'm sure I'll regret that statement soon, but the truth is that right now, I couldn't be happier about my new chapter. My priorities seem to have completely shifted. I see updates from friends in far flung places, and where there used to be a twinge of "I haven't got any travel planned in the next month, better book something" envy, I feel happy for them and even happier that I don't have to pack my bags to go anywhere right now. Where I used to see free evenings and weekends in my diary and think "Great, I'll be able to organise X, Y and Z", I feel mild relief that I don't have anything organised. In fact, I'm starting to purposefully leave weekends free of plans in case I need some "downtime".

Where I once would have felt guilty about not making the most out of every day (read: jam-packing my schedule with a zillion things to do) I've come to realise that sometimes, making the most out of my day is stopping to enjoy it. And I don't need to make a new years resolution about stopping to smell the roses for that to happen. I just have to turn the page.

enjoy today