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Weather forecast for the whole New Zealand: Wet! Wet! And the whole dame WET. Must admitted that I am falling in love with the weatherman



Somewhere over the rainbow


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Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow

Why, oh why can’t I?



Ratatouille & veggies summer basket


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home grown veggies

Good thing in summer is when our gardens grow lots of veggies. This late summer, we almost havest every week: eggplant/aubergineszucchini, bell peppers,courgettes and tomatoes. 

All good ingredients for Ratatouille!!!

Classic Ratatouille recipe


  • About ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 eggplant (1¼ pounds); ends cut off, washed and cut, with skin on, into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1 ¼ pounds, washed, ends removed, cut in 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 12 ounces onions (2-3 depending on size), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound green bell peppers (2–3,) washed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares (about 3 cups)
  • 4–5 well-ripened tomatoes; peeled, halved, seeded and coarsely cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 5–6 cloves garlic; peeled, crushed, and very finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in one or, better, two large skillets.
  2. First sauté the eggplant cubes, about 8 minutes; remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a large, heavy flameproof casserole. (The eggplant will absorb more oil while cooking than the other vegetables.)
  3. Then sauté the zucchini cubes until browned, about 8 minutes. Then transfer to the casserole.
  4. Add about ¼ cup more oil to the pan and sauté the onions and peppers together for about 6 minutes. Add them to the casserole.
  5. Add the tomatoes, garlic, water, salt, and pepper to the casserole and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, cover, and cook over low heat for 1 hour.
  6. Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook another 20 minutes, uncovered, to reduce some of the liquid; stir once in a while to prevent scorching.
  7. Let the ratatouille rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.


This recipe is from Jacques Pepin: Ratatouille is the epitome of Provençal vegetable stews. The vegetables are sautéed individually in oil before being stewed, so they keep their shape and texture. If you prefer, though, you can put all the cubed vegetables into a casserole and top with the seasonings and water. Ratatouille is excellent reheated, and superb cold as an hors d’oeuvre topped with small black olives and olive oil.

photo source: pinterest

Ratatouille và hoa củ mùa hè!

Bí quyết của mẹ Ka là
– Các loại rau củ: cà tím, cà chua, củ cải, dưa leo, dưa chuột, ớt Hà lan xắt lát, xào sa té trên chảo nóng riêng từng loại trong khoảng 5-8 phút.
– Hành củ xào cho chín với tỏi, cà chua xay nhuyễn, tiêu, muối, bột nêm rồi đổ vào khay/khuôn nướng
– xếp rau củ thành từng lớp bên trên, rồi rắc cheese (parmesan cheese hoặc brie cheese), breadcrumbs (bột bánh mì xay nhuyễn), mixed herbs (hỗn hợp các loại hương thảo xay nhuyễn sấy khô) lên trên
– cho vào lò nướng lữa lớn 260-300oC trong vòng 20 phút cho sôi, rồi bớt lửa xuống 140 – 160oC nướng trong vòng 1 giờ sau đó tăng lửa lớn lại thêm 20 phút cho nước cạn bớt.
– Lấy ra, để nguội. Ăn liền hoặc hâm nóng ăn mấy hôm sau ^.^


Before roasted


ready to go inside the oven


After roasted




Boat trip to Potatoes City


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sealink ferry from the Barrier to Auckland

rainbow over waiheke island

Sky Tower

Queen str during rush hours

Sunset in Auckland Central District

Sailing in summer! Fun! Water is calm and it was a pleasant trip! 

Manuka calls Auckland city is Potatoes city as same way her favourite cartoon character Peppa Pig calls every big cities! I like it!

Afternoon tea and some good reads!


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butter scones

butter scones

A cup of Earl Grey tea

A cup of Earl Grey tea

Decorative books

Decorative books

Nothing better than an afternoon tea with a bite of scones and a good read!
Come across an interesting article

Tea Etiquette Faux Pas
Other Misconceptions About Afternoon Tea

It is surprised me to see lots of people nowadays use the term “high tea” while sit in a comfy sofa and have tea over a coffee table. High Tea is often a misnomer. Most people refer to afternoon tea as high tea because they think it sounds regal and lofty, when in all actuality, high tea, or “meat tea” is dinner. High tea, in Britain, at any rate, tends to be on the heavier side. American hotels and tea rooms, on the other hand, continue to misunderstand (or intentionally misconception) and offer tidbits of fancy pastries and cakes on delicate china when they offer a “high tea.”

The drinking of tea not only became a social event for the upper classes, it altered the time and manner in which they took tea. Afternoon Tea became the bridge between meals because many wouldn’t eat their evening meal until maybe 8pm. As such, Afternoon Tea became a ‘mini meal’ in itself.

This was all well and good for the upper classes, but the working classes ran to a different schedule and a different budget. Tea was still quite expensive at the time and the working classes could not afford to waste it on anything other than necessities. A wearied factory worker wouldn’t arrive home until six in the evening, and when he did, he was famished! Thus, in the industrial areas of the UK (northern England and southern Scotland), the working classes evening meal evolved: high tea.

English High Tea usually involved a mug of tea, bread, vegetables, cheese and occasionally meat. Variations on high tea could include the addition of pies, potatoes and crackers. Afternoon Tea in the other hand is a meal composed of sandwiches (usually cut delicately into ‘fingers’), scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes. Interestingly, scones were not a common feature of early Afternoon Tea and were only introduced in the twentieth century.

So while Afternoon Tea was largely a social event for their upper class counterparts, high tea was a necessary meal in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This traditional high tea still exists for some parts of the North and Scotland.

Antique Tea cup & dinnerware from Maria’s Farmhouse
Find a tea room in UK, click here
Learn more about British custom of tea, click here


Sunset in the Barrier!!!


I personally have to admit sunset in the barrier brings an overpower feeling to me, compare to everywhere I have lived in the past. It reminds me a quote from “Le petit Prince”

One day,” you said to me, “I saw the sunset forty-four times!”
And a little later you added:
“You know–one loves the sunset, when one is so sad . . .”
“Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?”
But the little prince made no reply.

“Chim mỏi cánh về rừng tìm chốn ngủ
Chòm mây trôi nhẹ giữa tầng không
Cô em xóm núi xay ngô tối
Xay hết lò than đã rực hồng”
“Quyện điểu quy lâm tầm tức thụ
Có vân mạn mạn độ thiên không
Sơn thôn thiếu nữ ma bao túc
Bao túc ma hoàn lô dĩ hồng”

* Mộ – “Ngục trung nhật ký” / Hồ Chí Minh

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Tet’s Eve in New Zealand


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Tet’s Eve offering – Cúng giao thừa


– Special chicken for the offering – Gà luôc

IMG_3647– Tet’s offering

My sister wrote those on her FB page: “That was the moment gathered with family which my mother was busy for cooking traditional Tết food and presenting the Tết presents to relatives and friends while my father and little brother was cleaning and placing new offers for the altar.

Few last minutes before New Year Eve, mom reminded us preparing the new clothes to make sure that we won’t open any doors of wardrobe on the first day of New Year. It is just a belief of our culture to prevent the luck will be gone in New Year. While my parents were preparing the tray of five different fruits and others on the altar, three of us were watching the “Táo Quân” – Kitchen God, the three kitchen guardians for each house on television. Right after the show ends, we changed new clothes, ran to the rooftop to watch the fireworks after making ceremonial offering to ancestor and God and then went to pagoda with parents to get luck for New Year.

Since Vietnamese believe that the first visitor a family receives in the year determines their fortune for the entire year, we were arranged who will be the first one step into the house by mom ^.^

The New Year Day is the special day we are looking forward every year. We woke up early, changed clothes, had a feast ^.^ I mean the special breakfast ^.^ gave best wishes to parents and received the “bao lì xi” – Red envelop and wishes from them. I remember that we often opened “bao lì xi” right after receiving it to compare who gets the most lucky money. Dad always gave us the different money because he said that it depends how good we were last year since we were young and this thing never changed…”

I miss them all, my mom, my dad, my sis, my bro and his little family and grandma. Still could not believe that Granddad has passed away. I still kept a photo of Manuka & I and my mom and her Dad happy smiling on the 1st day of last Tet.
This Tet, only me & Matt & Manuka.

The big boy & little girl are fast asleep after a long day.
And I am here, writing ” Chúc mừng Năm mới!”


Tết Food!!! Vietnamese Pork Stew in Coconut Juice with Hard-Boiled Eggs


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4 – 6 chicken or duck eggs or 12 quail eggs or as many as you want
2 white turnips, peeled and cut in finger size
3 cups young coconut juice or substitute with Coco Rico
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
½ teaspoon thin soy sauce
1 tsp food seasoning (Knor)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil

1 lb pork butt or shoulder, sliced into two-inch chunks. Traditionally, a nice fatty portion with skin attached is used.

1 medium onion or 3 scallions; sliced or diced, trimmed, halved, and white bulbs lightly crushed
2 ounces fresh ginger, sliced and lightly crushed
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

3 or more dried red chilies (optional)
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)
5 star anise (optional)


Gently place the eggs in a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and cook until soft boiled, about 5 minutes (about 2 minutes for quail eggs). Rinse under cold water and allow cooling completely. Carefully shell the eggs, being careful to keep the eggs intact.

I usually start boiling the water for this while I prepare the meat. Cut meat into 2-inch wide chunks. Wash and bring to a boil in 2minutes. Wash again and put the meat to a big bowl. Add fish sauce, Knor, oil, black peppercorn, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions/onion, chili and stir to color the pork. Set it aside in 30’ – an hour.

Caramel Sauce: Make a caramel by combining the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the sugar is melted and turns a rich gold, about 8 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the pork [had been colored], turn them to coat evenly on all sides. Add in the coconut juice and enough water to cover the meat with about an inch of water over. Stir again to mix it up. If you like sweeter meat, you can use additional coconut juice in lieu of the water. Taste and adjust sugar or fish sauce if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and stir until the sauce is completely smooth. Add five spice/ star arise if want.

Turn heat to medium low and allow simmering for at least half an hour, ideally an hour. The longer it cooks the tenderer pork gets. The water will cook down and meld everything together — the pork and onions will soften, the almost burnt sugar takes on a deep molasses flavor, the saltiness of the fish sauce balances it all. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Do not cover while simmering. Stir occasionally.


When the pork is nearly done [ideally after an hour and half], add the turnips and the hard-boiled eggs, making sure to put the eggs in the middle of the pot so they can absorb the caramel sauce flavor and color. You don’t want to put the eggs too soon because they’ll get rubbery. Continue simmering, ladling sauce over the eggs occasionally, until the eggs turn golden and cook through, about 5 minutes.

This dish can be pretty fatty if you choose to use pork belly or a skin-on portion, so I’d suggest making this and then refrigerating it for several hours or overnight. The excess fat will congeal for easy removal. Just reheat by letting it simmer for a few minutes. Add lime juice, red chili, spring onion if you want.

Serve best with rice. This is a hot dish for a cold day.

I cooked it tonight

On the stove now!

This is how it presents at the restaurant.

This is how it presents at the restaurant. – Photo credit: eva.vn

More Vietnamese traditional dishes for Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) was listed here


Where is beauty to be found?


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Morning tea with my little one

Morning tea with my little one


Antique Royal Albert Crown China English Bone China Teacup and Saucer Duo Tea Party – c. 1927 – 1938 – From Maria’s Farmhouse


Tea with the view

Got my new jewel from Maria’sFarmhouse

Manuka is starting to play tea party. Once I caught her lines up all her stuff animals around her then get a teapot and pretend of pouring tea for each. No doubt she loves my cup & saucer so much that she insists to drink milk in it. MILK!!!

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Happy Valentine! We went for Saturday brunch at Wild Rose Cafe! Then I spend rest of the day making spring rolls. Tết is coming in a week. Time flies!!!


Tea in the home!!!


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Morning tea!!!

Morning tea!!!

An-Tran-2 An-Tran-4 an-Tran-5

One of the shining moments of my day is that when, having returned a little weary from an afternoon walk, I exchange boots for slippers, out-of-doors coat for easy, familiar, shabby jacket, and, in my deep, soft-elbowed chair, await the tea-tray…. [H]ow delicious is the soft yet penetrating odour which floats into my study, with the appearance of the teapot!… What a glow does it bring after a walk in chilly rain! ~George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, 1903