Learning about Mircogreens

In order to have a proper closure for our weekly play date, one of the mummies, Adeline of Growingwiththetans, suggested that we have a gardening session where the children could learn about plants and how to grow them. It’s a definite YES from us since it tied in well with the ‘Fuits and Vegetables’ theme.

Adeline had her friend share with us about Microgreens. For the uninitiated like yours truly, Microgreens are basically baby seedlings of our commonly eaten vegetables and herbs. They are harvested at a young stage (between 5 -14 days) and the whole plant is eaten (except for the roots). Although they are micro in size, they are intense in flavor though they are not as strong as their older sibling.

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We had the session at Bishan Park and Faith was all excited to be out with her friends again. It was warm and humid that late afternoon but thankfully the kids were not complaining!

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When Khai Lin first learnt that she was going to share her passion with a group of toddlers, she was a bit concerned as they were rather young and she wasn’t sure if they could benefit fully from it. ‘Let’s give it a try!’ was our answer to her and so she did. KL showed the kiddos the fully grow pea shoots and had them touch the seedlings. That set the stage for our lesson!

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We started off with some craft work. KL had the mummies and children create a bunny from a toilet roll as we were going to have a ‘carrot’ garden for them. The carrots are the pots that hold the seedlings.

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I like it that KL encouraged the kids to feel the pebbles and the peat moss (looks like soil to me) which is formulated for germinating seeds. Most of the children were curious and attempted to feel them. It’s a good lesson to have the children discover through their senses!

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KL was super patient with the children and showed each one of them the steps to start the gardening process. Here she got them to fill the container with peat moss. Look at Faith’s expression after she touched it.

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I must say that I enjoyed the whole learning process as an adult. Because I have very little knowledge about microgreens, this session is truly informative. I’m not sure if the young ones understand what they have gone through but it’s a good start nonetheless. There was a 4YO boy in our midst and he was really curious and posed KL loads of questions. I guess this session would be more beneficial to older kids?

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We are going to plant the speckled peas and sunflower and both can be harvested between 7 to 14 days. That’s really fast, you know?

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After watering the peat moss lightly in the pot to keep it damp, sprinkle the seeds generously over the top of the peat moss. However, do not overlap the seeds. Then gently press the seeds down using the hands. See how proud Faith is with her ‘garden’.

Before we went home, we were told to cover the big container so as to create a greenhouse effect. What we need to do is to keep the soil moist by misting it each day. Once the seeds have germinated, the cover can be removed and we can place it near the window for some sunlight.

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After about a week, the seedlings have grown and we are ready to harvest. Faith isn’t very enthusiastic about having her greens (sad to say) and I must think of ways to hide them in her food!

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So I decided to make some sliders for dinner and since she loves mushrooms, I roasted portobello mushrooms that were topped with sweet potatoes, breadcrumbs and well, the pea shoots!

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This girl has a sharp sense of taste and could pinpoint if there are any greens in her food. She did eat some but refused the ones that are found in the salad.  Oh well, I did try.

I will not give up!

Overall, we find the session on Mircogreens useful and I’m just surprised that they are so easy to plant and manage at home. The best thing is I don’t see any ants coming near my plants because I’m really particular about that. They also take up little space since I only need to place them near a window in any room (indirect light from the sun is good enough). I thought this can be an awesome project for the older kids as they learn about plants and their nutritional benefits; they should know the source of their food from young!

If you are interested, you can find out more about it via its website at www.microgreens.sg or visit its Facebook page. There will be recipes, kids’ projects and tips on growing Microgreens so stay tuned. ;)

The session above cost $25 per child. Materials are included.

#notasponsoredpost

A day in my life with a 29MO

The last post which I had recorded my life as a SAHM was when Faith was still a baby at 2 months old. Now she is about 29 months old and let’s see how my schedule has changed! This is a typical weekday for me.

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6.50am :: The alarm goes off. Faith and I would normally have woken up by 6.30am but we usually laze around till we hear the alarm ring. After that, it is off to get her a bottle of milk and then we would have breakfast together. The little girl has no concept of time and takes her own sweet time to chew her bread and chat with me. I, on the other hand, keep asking her to HURRY UP because every minute counts!

Bathroom time. Getting dressed. And before you know it, it’s time to set off for school!

8.05am :: We usually reach Faith’s school at this time and after that, I would have about 2.5 hours to myself. Schedule’s not fixed. Some days I would do grocery at the wet market or supermarket and on other days, I would brisk walk at the park near my apartment. After that, I would prepare lunch so that the food would be ready when Faith and I return from her school.

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11.30am :: We get back from school and I would heat up the food while Faith plays with her Lego. Lunch is normally simple stuff such as pasta or fried rice.

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After lunch, Faith gets her 30 minutes of screen time when she gets to watch 巧虎, a DVD series which my sister-in-law gave me. Apparently, this programme is a hit with the young children in China. They learn about stuff such as Chinese songs, good habits, words and numbers through the programme. Surprisingly, Faith loves to watch the programme and could even relate to me what she has learnt after watching it, in Mandarin, of course. :)

We clean up, read storybooks together before Faith gets ready for her afternoon nap.

1pm :: Faith naps for about 2 hours. Sometimes I nap with her but at times, I will do my own reading or household chores. If I’m diligent enough, I will take this time to create teaching and learning materials for Faith.

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3pm :: It’s tea time and Faith is usually given fruits to snack on. After that, we will work on activities together.  The activities are varied and since a toddler’s attention span is so short, I would normally move on to the next activity when I sense that she is getting bored with a particular one. Obviously, her concentration span is much longer for activities which she loves. The following are some of the stuff we do together in that 1.5 hours (3 activities per day).

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4.30pm :: It’s outdoor time! I make it a point to get us out of the house so that she could work on her big muscles and to breathe in fresh air (this is not to say that the air in my apartment is stale!). We would usually go to the nearby playground for some workout. Some days we will go for waterplay and once a fortnight, we visit the library!

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5.30pm :: We are usually back at home by this time because I would need to prepare for dinner. Faith plays on her own while I busy myself in the kitchen. I’m lazy and love to steam my food or prepare one-pot dish for dinner. Just thinking about the clearing of dishes and cleaning of the kitchen makes me tired. So simplicity is good for me.

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6.30pm :: The hubs is back from work and we have dinner together. The baton is passed to him as he takes over to spend time with Faith. He plays with her and then showers her while I clear the dishes and rest!

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8.00pm :: We have story time or devotion before lights off at 8.30pm.

8.30pm :: It’s literally quiet time for me and I read the Bible and have my devotion or blog before I turn in at around 10pm.

Zzzzzzzz…. Goodnight, world. Another day beckons.

This is part of the “Day In A Life” blog train hosted by Justina of Mum in the Making. To check out what a typical day is like for other mums on the blog train, do click here or the button below. Next up, Jacqeline of The Little Mom will be sharing about her day!

imageJacqeline is a FTWM of 3 lovely kids. She nickname herself “The Little Mom” as she finds that she only knows so little about parenting when she started on the journey of motherhood (she only knows a little more now). Having benefitted from other Mummy bloggers, she in turn likes to contribute through her blog. She shares mainly about activities (from overseas to outdoor to indoor to home base) that she did with her family. Occasionally she also shares her thoughts about parenting and provides tips that she has learned along the way.

The second one

How and when do you decide to try for a second child?

For me, I have always felt that a 2 to 3 years age gap would be good because firstly, I would not completely forget about pregnancy and how to deal with the baby in his first year and secondly, I would not lose the momentum. Does that make sense to anyone? ;p

But it was when I saw how lonely Faith was at home and how excited and happy she was when she was around other people or her friends that got me thinking about trying for a second child. Faith was about two years old at that time and my biological clock was also ticking away furiously, signaling to me that the time was ripe.

The hubs did share that if we were to have another kid, it shouldn’t be because of Faith. On the other hand, it should be because both of us want another child and that we are committed to it. His argument makes sense, of course.

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So we found out that we might be having a second child during early February. Something in me changed and I figured it could be due to a possible pregnancy? The pregnancy test was positive and subsequently a visit to the gynae further confirmed it. We thanked God for this miracle.

The above was just an image of the water bag at week 6. Quekling II was too small to be seen. Couldn’t even detect the heartbeat properly.

Weight: 50.5kg

imageBy the 9th week, Quekling II was 3.22cm but because my weight hadn’t increased much, Dr Poon was concerned. I did eat!

Weight: 50.6kg

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This is the most recent scan of Quekling II and he/she has grown to 6.52cm at week 12. My weight increased to 51.6kg only after I had taken lunch that day. Before that, My weight was 50.7kg. What a difference a meal makes! Perhaps, there is something wrong with his weighing scale.

We did the OSCAR and a week later, I received a call from the clinic informing me that Quekling II is at a high risk for down syndrome. My heart sank. But immediately, there was a small still voice telling me, “Trust in Me.”

This is not the first time I have heard this piece of news. Faith’s ratio was 1:78 as compared to 1:169 for Quekling II and it seems like I’m going be haunted by the emotional ups and downs once more.

Am I comforted that the ratio seems better this time round? Yes. But am I going to say that things will surely be okay since Faith turns out well?

No. Not all all. I’d be too proud to even think of that. Once again, I’m reminded that while we can control many things in life, we have absolutely no control over life and death.

Trust in Me. God did say in His word. And why not?

Pregnancy… worries… sleepless nights. They go hand in hand.

Oh Lord, what a faith stretching period.

I don’t think I will go for the amniocentesis test nor the other more accurate test called Harmony. I don’t see the point now and I can’t afford Harmony which is priced at more than a grand.

I can only trust in Him who gives life and One who gives wonderful gifts to His children. He knows me and understands perfectly how much I can bear. My Father is in control.

“When we are helpless, God stepped in and proved Himself to be faithful to those who persevere in trusting Him.”

This is what I wrote for my first day question for BSF last week and while having QT just now, I was reminded of this.

I didn’t know He is preparing me for this piece of news.

My God is real.

 

The 3rd month that marched past us

I know it is April now but there were memories in March which I would want to record.

It was not an easy month. I was overwhelmed with tiredness and needed much rest because well, I am pregnant. This time round, I meet with morning sickness (unlike my first pregnancy) and need an afternoon nap or else I would have headache at the end of the day. I’m getting old, I know. Sigh! Things got done really slowly. Replies to emails were delayed and that applied to certain text messages. At times, I even forgot to reply. I didn’t have the appetite to eat and became unmotivated to cook. In a nutshell, I became inefficient. How terrible.

Life still goes on. That’s for sure.

The first school term for Faith ended and thus far, she has been enjoying herself. Each time when I picked her up from school, she would exclaim that she liked school. Special mention was made about her principal and her Chinese teacher and she looked forward to school each day. What a great relief!

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Since she started school, I found that I have less time to teach her at home basically because she needs to nap after lunch and by the time she wakes up, it would be mid-afternoon and we would be going out to enjoy some activities. There is really a need to create a time-table so that some home-learning gets done! #kiasumama

The one-week school holiday was a difficult period. The hubs was away on a week-long work trip and my mom went on a holiday to Japan during that week too. Bummer, really! Why must they go away at a time when I needed them most? Faith was with me 24/7 and I think she was bored. My energy was at an all-time low and most of the morning, I had to rest in bed. Poor girl. She didn’t really complain but came up to me, patted and comforted me. When I puked, she would ask if I was okay. I didn’t realise that this girl can be so understanding at such a young age. There was little to no tantrum and I could only thank the Lord for that. That he made that period bearable and joyful (in a way) when I had little strength.

Of course, I couldn’t have made it without the help of my in-laws. My FIL came over on that Friday and Saturday afternoon to spend some time with Faith while I rested. My SIL prepared lunch on one of those days for us and my aunt-in-law volunteered to buy breakfast for me. I am thankful to have wonderful in-laws!

Some of the stuff we did over that one week:

Playground time at the reservoir

Playground time at the reservoir

Waterplay party at a friend's house!

Waterplay party at a friend’s house!

Attending a trial Gymboree lesson

Attending a trial Gymboree lesson

Building her town using Lego (with mama's help, of course)

Building her town using Lego (with mama’s help, of course)

Skate-scooting fun at the beach

Skate-scooting fun at the beach

Our playdate ended in March. It’s a pity, these kids who grew up together since last year. It is, however, an unanimous decision because the timing is simply not ideal for the kids. By 4pm, the children were restless and the mummies found that their concentration level was low. Sometimes, they were cranky and acted up. Two of them could not have sufficient nap time since their school ended just one or two hours before the playdate. Of the mummies, three were pregnant and we found that we were exhausted too. On that note, we decided to call it quits. Sobs.

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I didn’t manage to work on a lot of cakes in March and turned down a few requests simply because I believe I couldn’t do a good job. I needed time to rest and more importantly, time to experiment with recipes. One will do and this is one which I like.

ABM_1427539034Towards the end of March, our nation went into mourning, for a great person in the history of Singapore. He is the founding father of modern Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Many of us were hoping that he would live to witness the 50th year of our independence but it was not to be. Most of the Singaporeans were emotionally affected and our understanding of him came to an all-time high because documentaries and articles were broadcasted and shared throughout that one week of mourning. My brother who has been stationed overseas for more than a decade came back to pay his last respect. It’s the least he could do, he said.

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So I guess March isn’t a fantastic month, eh? April’s now and I certainly hope things will get better. At the very least, I hope to regain my energy so that I could brisk-walk, go for my [Prenatal] Pilates lessons and swim a little. I need to get busy in the kitchen again, not just for the sake of my health but for my family too. Home-cooked food is always better, no?

April, please be good?

Protected: Croquettes, Queks’ version

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Friday Flips: Books on fruits and vegetables

:: Coop #4 & 5

Our coop has moved on from the Chinese New Year theme to Fruits & Vegetables. It’s a refreshing change and one which I welcome because our girl has some issues with greens recently. Hopefully, she will have less resentment towards them by the end of the few lessons! *fingers crossed* image   We would always start off the session with the Welcome song and introduction of the fruits and vegetables. Following that, one of the mummies would read a book aloud and the mummies were happy to note that the children could sit through and enjoy the story. Mind you, the story wasn’t short at all! I must say Mummy Ade has good storytelling skills! image For craft, the children pieced up the pictures of the fruits and vegetables and labelled them accordingly, obviously with the help of their mummies.

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We also got the children to grow their own beans and to track their growth. They were so excited upon receiving their beans. How fun!

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Our children have grown! It’s always a joy to see them play and learn together. May they continue to enjoy learning and exploring.

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For Practical Life, the children worked on their motor skills and coordination, just to name a few. We got them to pick up balls using training chopsticks, pour beans onto cups, stack blocks according to the sizes, threading and matching of cards.

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The mummies decided that we should not change the stations every week as we want to track their progress in the various stations. Makes sense!

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A few months back, Faith would have absolutely no idea on how to stack these blocks based on their sizes. Now she could, with the knowledge of her numbers. It gave me joy to see that she has progressed at her own pace.

These are some of the books that are related to the Fruits and Vegetables theme. Faith and I read the books a few times and we could talk at length about the story based on the pictures. The story itself isn’t long but there’s much to discuss! And, all these books could be found at our local libraries.

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You could sing to the tune of ‘Old Macdonald Has a Farm’ but what I like more about this book is that we can talk about urban gardening. We don’t have space in this city state but there are certainly ways in which we could grow our own herbs, for example.

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Oh, I love Farmers’ Markets! Sadly, we don’t have a lot of that in Singapore. The closest one that I think resembles that one that I’m familiar with is the Farmers’ Market at Loewen Garden. Go check it out one day!

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Granted that this is not really about fruits and vegetables but there is information about the orchard and fruits that you can talk about with your kid. This book makes me think about the farm and the apple-picking session that I have had visited and experienced. I want to go back again!

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans

Thankful Tuesday

I’m writing with a thankful heart today.

F is well-settled in school and in the children’s programme in BSF. Each week, she looks forward to meeting her playmates whom she has grown up with since last year. I hope I have given her a joyful childhood and each day, as she utters more words and comprehends me more, my heart just overwhelmed with gladness and gratitude.

Motherhood is indeed rewarding.

Our co-op completed the theme on Chinese New Year last week and we are raring to go on the new theme on fruits and vegetables.

imageThe kids definitely had fun and I hope their friendship will continue into adulthood.

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These two, working on their big muscles. And recently, a few of us even attended a production for children together. What fun!

For me, I’m happy to have a group of mothers who show care and concern for one another. Because of their friendship and companion, I no longer feel alone in this journey and well, the thought of going back to work has kind of diminished. I have a better full-time job now.

Totoro cake

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This is one celebration cake which I’m pleased with because it is simple to make but pleasant to look at. A friend had asked me to bake a banana cake and decorate it with characters with Totoro and friends. Since she has two toy figurines already, I would only need to make the other two using fondant.

I love decorating a whole cake because it saves the trouble of slicing the cake into layers and filling them with buttercream. Covering them with buttercream and then fondant can sometimes result in a messy appearance. Or perhaps my skill is not there yet.

To bake the banana cake, I used Joanne Chang’s recipe and reduced the amount of sugar since I feel that the sweetness in the bananas is sufficient. The original recipe named it a bread but I think it makes a good cake. The key thing is to use very ripe bananas and sometimes I prefer to use pecan nuts over walnuts but both are good. This recipe fits a 7″ by 3″ round pan very well.

Ingredients (source)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Directions:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes.)

3. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, crème fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake for 1 to 1 1⁄4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

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6. The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

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Lovely, isn’t it? And from past experience, I find the cake to be more delicious when you wait it out for the next day to consume.

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To cover the sides of the cake, I cut out stripes of yellow and frilled them before adding them unto the cake.

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Another type of cake design is to just use cupcakes and create a garden with flowers and bees. I must say the characters are really cute!

CO-OP ’15 #1

Our weekly playdate resumed in 2015 with the first session just over. I promised to dutifully record every session so that I could track the children’s progress.

For the first few sessions, the moms have agreed to go with the Chinese New Year theme since the festival is just round the corner. It would be fun having them learn the words of the greetings and related items together as a group.

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Mummy Ade led us to sing a new ‘Welcome’ song and started introducing the CNY items such as couplets, red packets, dragon and lanterns. She even prepared a worksheet for the little ones to match the pictures to the words. Hah, she’s very much a teacher at heart!

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The beauty of our sessions is that the children are accompanied by their mums and the latter could guide the young ones into working on the tasks and at the same time, reinforce some of the learning.

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Following that, I read the book ‘Lanterns and Firecracks – A Chinese New Year Story’. It’s really a treat to see the children automatically sat before me as I started to read the book aloud. The kids knew what to expect!

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After the story, Mommy E got us to work on making a craft. Obviously, the children won’t be able to work on it themselves but I must say they did a good job in pasting the straws on.

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Proud of their work!

imageThis time round, we managed to take a decent photo off the kids. Say cheese!

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Next up, Mommy Tri gave the kids Chinese lessons by sharing with them the names of the items commonly associated with CNY. The children were all ears. Awesome job! We should have more Chinese lessons!

imageThe children learnt to ask for red packets respectfully. But I think Faith only knows how to utter ‘Gong Xi! Gong Xi!’ properly.

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Practical life segment includes matching of cards, picking up of pom pom balls with tongs, working with shapes, rolling balls with playdoh and cutting.

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We also celebrated our first birthday for the year. Belle turned 2YO! Yay!

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A simple totoro-themed cupcakes for the children but I have them packed into boxes because it’s too near to dinner time and I didn’t want to spoil the appetite of the kids! So, this is our first session. The kids definitely needed time to warm up since they have not met up for a month. That’s a long time for young people! Hopefully they would enjoy themselves more with subsequent co-ops.

15 things to do differently in 2015

I love making lists and resolutions. Each year, I take the last few days of December, reflect and note down what I want to achieve the following year. I find that life gets so busy that you just go with the flow and without you realizing, the year’s over.

When I hit the big 3, I bothered to list down 30 stuff that I want to do within that year but I stopped making lists or resolutions after Faith turned one year old because I simply couldn’t find the time to do so anymore. My last post for the 30 list is here. So, when Rachel of Catch 40 Winks suggested this blog train earlier in the year, I gladly accepted doing the blog post.

So, here’s my 15 things that I will do differently in 2015 in no order of preference.

:: Record Faith’s developmental progress faithfully

I’ve been real slack in this area. Once Faith turns one year old, this mommy slowed down and got lazy and forgot to record her milestones. So, this year, I hope to do so every 2 months.

:: Blog about each playdate

We started the playdate/co-op in March last year and we are so happy that a group of mummies decided to continue with it. This year, I want to record every session on this platform as a form of resource for others to use. It’s also heartwarming to trace how the children progress as the months go by.

:: Catch up with friends regularly

I have been focusing a lot on family (in-laws included) since Faith was born and sometimes I feel that I have neglected my friends.  On rare occasions, I would meet up with the closer ones and realised I so missed those conversations and laughter that we have had. This year, I hope to connect with them again. Friendship takes time and effort to blossom as with any other relationship and I shouldn’t take them for granted.

:: Read and review 10 books

Oh, reading! I read a lot of cookbooks and children’s books but I don’t want to count them in. What I’m referring to books are those that nourish the soul. Besides the Bible, I hope to read more and pen some thoughts about the books that I have read.

:: Try out new recipes and blog about them

So, I have dishes that I am familiar with and more often than not, I would prepare those for meals. It can get boring obviously and thankfully, the hubs didn’t complain. But I do find it less than exciting when I have to cook the same dishes again and again. This year, I would cook more new dishes and hopefully blog about some of them.

:: Climb stairs

Busy, busy, busy. Where to find the time to exercise? To solve that problem (excuse), I would not take the lift but climb the stairs whenever Faith is not with me.

:: Couple time once a fortnight

I know couple time is so important and we are encouraged to have time together once a week or so. But I regret to share that the hubs and I spent only about 5 times last year together sans Faith. So sad, right? It takes effort, more from me, to want to go out without the little one. I think the hubs is more than happy to spend time with me. So, I need to let go and try to spend more time with the man this year. Once a fortnight…. hopefully, this is achievable!

:: Do my BSF home work dutifully every day and not attempt it at the last hour

This year is my third year with Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and to be honest, most of the time, I did my homework rather last minute. This year, I resolve to do it daily to allow God’s word to speak to me. It’s helpful now that I have about 2 hours of quiet time when Faith is in school so that I could really meditate on His word.

:: Be consistent with family devotion with Faith

I fail as a Christian mother if I have not brought Faith up with Christian values and knowledge about her saviour, Jesus Christ. Last year, I tried to have devotion with her but it is not consistent and it lacked structure. This year, our family is going to be more deliberate about it and have family devotions using resources from BSF and the like.

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:: Turn in by 10.30pm

I used to turn in around 9pm when I was working but now with a kid, I tend to stay up late because after Faith falls asleep, that is really the time that I could do my own stuff. But I also know that sleeping late is not good for my body so I would turn in by 10.30pm from now on!

:: Run or brisk walk for 30 minutes at least once a week

Exercising is still something I hope to do even if I’m busy because I see the benefits it gives. I hope to run/ brisk walk and to drag the hubs along. I always feel uplifted after a run so that should continue!

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:: Drink at least 2 litres of water daily. Coffee is not counted

Drinking water helps flush the toxins in our body. I know this theory but I don’t always act on it. This year, I resolve to drink at least 2 litres of water daily. Any form of sugared water is not counted.

:: Document ten bento boxes

I started making Bentos this year and I find much joy in doing so even though it takes up time. I like the surprised look on Faith whenever I open the cover of the bento and I will blog about 10 Bento boxes that I’ve made this year.

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:: Learn to make five Peranakan dishes

Okay, I always cannot fulfil this goal because I really find it difficult to understand the spices that are used in Peranakan dishes. I don’t know how they work together to bring out the flavour. I grew up with Cantonese cuisine and I know how each condiment or sauce works and blends with one another but for Peranakan dishes, I would need more help in it. Hopefully, I could master 5 dishes by this year!

:: Go on hikes

I love hiking but that activity came to a complete stop after Faith was born. I want to bring the family close to nature and this year, I want to attempt hiking again… erm locally for a start.
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10962046_10153541976339688_1593194046_nSo, there you go, my 15 in 2015. What will you do differently this year? For more inspiration, click on the badge above to see what other mommy bloggers have planned for themselves. Next on the blog train is Pauline, a mother-of-two, a home cook, a baker and a crafter. She has been a SAHM for almost 7 years now and she’s still enjoying every minute of being one. Days with the children, to her, are never dull and having a hobby or something interesting to be kept busy with makes life so much more easier. Beyond her interest in cooking, baking and sewing, blogging keeps her sane as she shares with many like-minded moms about her struggles, moments of pride and everything in between, so visit her blog tomorrow to find out more! Check out her food and craft blog too!

Lunching with a star

How often do you get to lunch with a celebrity? The probability for normal folks like me would be terribly low but yesterday, I had the privilege to have lunch with a Local TV celebrity and to make it even special, she prepared the lunch all by herself. How awesome is that?

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She is none other than Wong Lilin, a lady whom I have taken a liking to since she took to the screen and one whom I have respect for. In fact, she is the one who inspired me to take up triathlon. Then, as a single, I was thinking that if she, as a mom, could find the time to lead a healthy lifestyle and keep fit and to train for triathlons, then surely I would be able to do it too. Her loopz band had also kept me company during the cold winter in Boston when running outdoors was too great a challenge for me. Brrr….

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The dish that got me lunch!

I’m thankful to Jenn who tagged me to participate in a contest jointly organised by Lilin and De Dietrich Asia. All we needed to do was to whip up a whole foods dish and post it on IG. I submitted mine and was really elated when I was among the fifteen selected.

Wong Lilin greeted us warmly as we entered the De Dietrich kitchen though she was busy preparing lunch for us. My first thought was, “Wow! She’s so unassuming! No airs!” Before this, I was a little tensed since I would be meeting a star but hey, she was so hospitable it felt as if I was just going for a gathering with my mommy friends.

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Meeting Lilin face-to-face and you will realize that she looks even prettier in person. How does she maintain herself so well as a working mom? She shared that she just got to choose what she needs to do (important areas to her) and to do those areas well. She recognizes that she can’t do it all (but how many of us, moms, always set such expectations for ourselves?) and even at times when she fumbles, she will pick herself and try again. That’s no condemnation and I thought that’s loving oneself! Oh, how we need that!

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This is the appetizer which is spinach dip. I love it. So simple to make and yet so nutritious! I must make it one day!

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For the mains, she made polenta (better alternative to mashed potatoes), slow braised beef cheek and sautéed mushrooms.

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Oh, by the way, she shared that she only put on make-up when she turned 40 and she looked incredibly tall with her 3-inch high heel shoes, making me look so short. :p

We talked about motherhood, parenting, healthy diet and exercise, topics that I’m interested in. It’s evident that her kids are most important in her lives as she would mention them every now and then. When asked how her children learn to eat such healthy stuff, she merely said that they would have to see her enjoying the food. It boils down to walking the talk. And how does she keep her body in such good condition, it’s all about striking a balance.

Lilin doesn’t deny herself of any food but she also knows that there are certain types of food that is best avoided or to be consumed little. Acting on this knowledge helps. Many of us know a lot about food consumption and eating in moderation but when it comes to the real act, we just couldn’t do a good job. Is it true in your case?

The affable and humble star shared that her body condition is at its worst and we were all wondering how that is possible?? She looks really good! I think she must be kidding!

One of the reasons for the invitation to lunch with her is to find out what we would like to see on her IG or FB. She has come to realise that social media is a powerful platform to say, spread a message and in her case, living healthily. The mothers among us (including me) love to see her posts about her children, parenting and obviously her healthy diet since we want our kids to grow up with good food too.

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What about you? What would you like to see on her IG? :)

Follow her on IG: lilinwong

Friday Flips: Chinese New Year related books

Two more weeks to Chinese New Year (CNY)! Are you busy spring cleaning your homes or spending time baking those delicious pineapple tarts?

For me, I’ve been trying to share as many stories on CNY as possible to Faith, as well as items related to the festival, like hong bao (red packets), lanterns and Chinese greetings.

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The following are some books that I find are relevant to the festival and suitable for toddlers. They are found in our local libraries.

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Location: Junior Lending Picture Book
Call number: English LIN

imageThough this is a book on colours, there is information such as dragon, drum and firecrackers which you can share with your child.

Location : Junior Lending Picture Book
Call number: English THO

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This is a book on numbers but provides a little information on CNY. I thought it is suitable for Faith who is learning about numbers now.

Call number: English THO

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Since this his page talks about the Chinese greetings, I got Faith to work on some craft and to learn this new Chinese word.

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imageThis is a complete story on the Chinese New Year and it could be pretty long for a toddler to sit through. It’s still good to read to them.

Call number: English ZUC

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 Call number: English KAT

imageI don’t recall having fortune cookies as part of the CNY tradition and I only came to know about it when I was overseas for a while. This book makes me want to bake some fortune cookies too. Good to teach the different days of the week towards the end of the story.

Call number: English BIT

I’m pretty sure there is a whole lot more collection of storybooks that touches on the CNY theme. Do you have any to add?

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Growing with the Tans

Frozen themed chocolate cupcakes

Frozen is still very much a popular theme for birthday cakes! Just recently, I did some Frozen toppers for the cupcakes at the requests of my friend and I’m still wondering when this craze will be over.

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A few days before the collection day, I made the toppers and it took me about 1.5 hours to do just the Olaf and the snowflakes! I must be taking my own sweet time! How frustrating!

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I baked some some vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for this batch and top each cupcakes with Italian meringue buttercream. Would love to add in a scoop of jam or ganache in the cupcakes but decided against anything too fanciful for the time being.

Chocolate cupcakes ( yields about 18 cupcakes)

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g caster sugar

200g plain flour, sifted

40g Cocoa powder, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

240ml buttermilk (I add 1tbsp of vinegar to 240ml of milk and let stand for 5 minutes)

2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the cupcake tin with cases

2. In a mixer bowl, place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed until all are fully mixed and the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, pour the milk and add in the eggs. Then whisk the two together until properly mixed.

4. Pour 3/4 of the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

5. Raise the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and thickens. Scrap down the sides of the mixer bowl regularly to ensure proper mixing.

6. Pour the remaining 1/4 milk-egg mixture into the batter and continue to beat on medium, until all the ingredients are fully mixed and the batter is smooth.

7. Spoon the batter into the cases until 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes, until the batter is risen and spring back when touched.

8. Leave the cupcakes to cool a little before removing them from the tin.

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I pipe roses onto the cupcakes using tip 1M.

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For a few of the cupcakes that are to be decorated with the snowflakes, I sprinkled some sugar on it. The sprinklers are just brown sugar + a little royal blue colouring.

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And that’s it! Of the three characters, I think Olaf looks more like himself whereas the other two characters look like erm… ordinary girls?

Protected: That night when I couldn’t get to sleep

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Goodness & satisfaction in home-cooked food

I grew up with home-cooked food. My mother, a very busy working mom herself, made sure that the members in her household were well-fed with nutritious food. Eating out was rare and a treat in itself but we seldom craved for food sold outside since hers was simply scrumptious. Her Cantonese cuisine was always prepared with much care and love (no doubt) and because of her tireless effort in providing meals that nourished the souls throughout our growing-up years, all of us (my siblings and I) are influenced by her to provide home-cooked food for our family.

I didn’t say it is easy, by the way, to always prepare meals. There is much to do – grocery, food preparation, cooking, washing up – and such work becomes a chore when you have a toddler always vying for attention as you do the above. Preparing fuss-free yet nutritious meals is the way to go and I realized that planning meals for the whole week helps a lot in terms of doing the grocery and resisting the temptation to eat out.

Last year, most of my meals were prepared in an ad-hoc manner and the meals got repeated (read ‘boring’) and this year, I resolve to serve more varieties on the dining table!

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I always have two things prepared and kept in the fridge – chicken broth and teriyaki sauce. Both are often used in the meals that I prepare and they are easy to make. Say, this dish for example, it is couscous that is simmered in chicken broth. I didn’t want to use the spices as the little one may not like the taste of it. Throw in bunashimeiji (brown beech) mushrooms and baby spinach and topped with salmon that is pan-fried with teriyaki sauce and you’ve got a wholesome and quick-fix meal.

Homemade teriyaki sauce: 2 1/2 tbsp sugar + 3 tbsp soy sauce + 90ml sake

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My current craze is Japanese cuisine simply because the dishes are easy to prepare and healthier. Okayo-don, a one-dish meal can be done up in minutes. Just combine chicken broth, water, soy sauce and sugar in a saucepan. Add the chicken and onion and bring to a simmer over high heat until the chicken is just cooked through. Then pour in the beaten egg slowly until it’s just a little runny and ladle the egg and chicken mixture over the Japanese rice and that’s your meal! Easy?

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There are times, of course, that I would take extra effort in preparing my meals. This bento (salmon rice roll, rolled omelette, boiled French beans, prawns and tofu) took 2 hours to prepare but it was all worth it when Faith finished up the whole lot of it, leaving just a few French beans and tofu for me. It’s her way of telling me that the food’s good for her! And that’s good enough for me!

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Once in a while, I would go the extra mile to cook something that da man likes such as baked pork chops with fried rice. Usually, this would not be on my list to cook since this involves frying and that means I have to clean the kitchen really thoroughly. I did really want to give this dish up until I realized that I have already bought the pork loin chops and they were sitting in the fridge, waiting to be pan-fried. Oh well…

These have been my collection of food prepared this week and I’m excited to begin the coming week with new dishes again.

What are you cooking this week? :)

Superman cake

Do you have a superhero in your life?

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For one family, the superhero is the dad and I was asked to make a simple vanilla-lemon sponge cake with the Superman logo on it.

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A few days before the cake was baked, I sourced for the logo and resized it to fit the pan which I’m going to use.

imageCut out the shape of the logo and trace it onto a cardboard and you would need to cut it (the cardboard) again before using it as a guide to cut out the shape from yellow fondant. I added tylose powder to the fondant as I need it to harden. You would need to use your sugarcraft tools to cut out the shape from the fondant.

imageUsing the cardboard as a guide again, cut out the finer details from the red fondant (with tylose powder) and very carefully put the red piece on the yellow one and leave to dry.

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After the logo has dried (which takes a few hours), I used the black food coloring and paint the outline. This has to be done really carefully as you want the border to be neat!

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Once that is done, you would need to let it dry again. The paint will take a while to dry up. To quicken it, you may add extract or alcohol to the coloring so that it will help in the drying process.

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Remember the cardboard that you have in the beginning, that is useful when you carve the shape of the cake. Assemble as you would for other cakes. I used Italian meringue buttercream in between the layers.

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I piped scallops for the bottom of the cake using Wilton tip #21 or any small star tip. Lastly, you would need to place the fondant logo very very carefully and precisely on top of the cake and that’s it!

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:)

Pizza lunch date and a mushroom soup recipe

Every so often, I would plan a lunch date with my sister and we would prepare some fun stuff for the kids to work on for their lunch. Previously, it was sushi and this time round, I thought of having pizza. Obviously, the base (bread dough) has to be prepared by the adults and the children would just need to place the toppings of their choice onto the dough.

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It was just like that. Simple. Obviously, Faith needed a little guidance but there’s nothing too difficult about ‘throwing’ ingredients onto the base.

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Love how the kids were watching intently as I put some mozzarella cheese on top. The little one wanted to help as well.

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Our homemade pizza.

Besides the pizza, I prepared mushroom soup as well. Nope, not campbell soup although that would save me lots of time. I personally prefer those that has a lot of mushrooms in it. The more variety, the better. The following mushroom soup recipe will take up some time and effort but the end result is all worth it, especially if you are a mushroom lover like Faith and me!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (adapted from Easy Recipes by Christine Ho)

200g Portobello mushroom
150g of a mixture of brown and white button
50g of shittake mushroom
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup [homemade] chicken stock
1 cup water
80 ml cooking cream/whipping cream ( use whatever amount you are happy with)

[Thickening]
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

1. Wipe the mushroom clean and cut into big pieces. Set aside. (Good quality mushrooms only need to be cleaned with a wet cloth before cooking. If you really want to rinse with water, make sure you do not soak them in water for too long since they tend to soak up lots of water, thus affecting the taste of the dish).

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2. Heat a heavy-based saucepan. Add butter and vegetable oil. When the butter starts to melt, add the chopped garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add mushrooms and stir-fry over medium-high heat. The mushrooms will absorb the fats very quickly. Do take note.

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3. Add chicken stock and water. Bring to boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

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4. Turn the heat off and let it cool slightly. Drain the mushrooms and puree using the food processor (mine is a chopper) in two batches. Return to the saucepan and warm over medium heat.

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5. Add cream. Adding the cream is the key to producing the creamy smoothness of this soup. I didn’t add all of the 80ml since I want it less ‘sinful’ because the little ones would be having it. ;p Do stir well!

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6. When it starts to boil, stir in the thickening. Cook to desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with croutons.

It does seem like a lot of work but when it first take a spoonful, you will find that the effort is all worth it. Try it and see if you like this version of the mushroom soup. This recipe is adapted from Christine Ho’s Easy Recipes and I really do like the recipes found in that cookbook/ website.

Faith @ 25th month

Faith’s 25th month has been one of great adventure and fun. New school, new friends, new activities…just to name a few and I really ought to record these! Since Faith started school, I have been working on some activities for her to learn at home because teaching shouldn’t be the responsibility of the teachers only. In fact, I believe parents should play a bigger role, no? Anyway…

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In late December, our friends came back for a visit and we met up to visit the SEA aquarium. It was a wonderful outing and Faith made a new friend – YY – who is a few month younger than her.

imageThe two girls were mesmerized by the different types of fish and I thought I should reinforce the learning at home and worked on the topic on sea creatures.

imageReading is always included in the ‘curriculum’ and these days, Faith would grab a book and read by herself. She loves books with flaps and each morning, she would reach for this particular one and admire the wonderful pictures.

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Bought these sea creatures from the supermarket one day and created a sensory bin for her.

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Subsequently, I got her to identify the sea creatures after sharing their names with her. She could identify most of them now (from the ones I have taught her). Getting her to identify numbers is still a pain because she doesn’t like to learn the conventional way. I must think of more interesting way to teach her!

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Love this bilingual book that is loaned to me by a mummy friend. Faith continues to learn about fish when she goes to her grandpa’s place where there is a small aquarium of fish. My dad will get her to feed them.

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Recently, I also introduced a more intentional way of reading Bible stories to her by having materials for her to work on while going through the story with her. She could be peeling stickers and pasting them or coloring the pictures. All these are good because she can continue to work on her fine motor skills. The above is the story on Jonah.

Apart from teaching her about sea creatures, colors and numbers for the time being, I scheduled a lot of play time for her. I’m still trying to fit in swimming, playground time, water play, skate-scooting and more recently, cycling into each week. I still find that consistency works if you want anyone to develop a skill. Say, for example, after a break from swimming during November and December, Faith found it difficult to stay underwater, even for a split second. Before that, I could lead her to ‘swim’ in the water for a short distance. Now, she’s merely drinking in the water and getting choked in the process. How frustrating!

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Getting Faith to spend time in the outdoors is important to me. I know she can be bored at home with the usual activities and getting out to breathe in fresh air is crucial.

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She loves to spend time with her cousins and they can be good influence in terms of getting her to skate-scoot. Recently, she inherited a tricycle from her cousin and she’s loving it! Skate-scooting wise, I think she has finally gotten the hang of using her foot to move as compared to just being pushed along by us!

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At this point in time, I’m more concerned about building her character than academics and outdoor activities help a lot in developing grit and patience. She needs to learn that the world does not revolve around her and that she cannot get her way instantly. She has to learn to wait, take turns and share her stuff.

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Since the new year, social life has taken a step back. Last year, we went out often to have play dates and this year, due to school, there is little opportunity to meet her with her playmates. I have to be intentional about meeting up with friends so that she could still connect with her friends and meet new ones!

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Faith is getting more mischievous by the day, not the naughty but the playful kind. However, since attending school, she has become more clingy to me which is a big ‘sigh’ for me. She picked up phrases like ‘oh my god!’ from school and apologized more to me when she thought that she has made me angry. We definitely don’t like the OMG phrase and we had to correct her. There is much teaching to be done at home such as getting her to know the right from wrong and to continue to share her things with others (not really an issue).

Appetite-wise, it has improved since going to school! Yay! She spits out food less often and eats meat now! I’m a happy Mama!

So the 25th month is really one that is filled with much adventure and fun. May this continue into the months ahead.

:: Faith could wear her own shoes once she started school. Peer influence helps!

:: She asks to use pencils and colour pencils more often now.

:: She loves playing with playdoh!

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Strawberry butter cupcakes

This week had been rather relaxing in the sense that I could bake in peace during the three hours that I have when the little one was in school. Since I had guests coming over, I decided to make some cupcakes andfrost them using dual colors/tones.

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This is a simple butter cupcakes which I have added strawberry paste to. After they were baked, I inserted a little strawberry jam into the cupcakes before frosting them with Italian meringue buttercream, the one buttercream I would use because it can withstand our tropical heat. :)

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To create the dual colors, I filled one piping bag with the buttercream and the other bag with buttercream that has red added to it. I didn’t really want red and pink suits me fine. Place the two piping bags into another bigger piping bag with Wilton piping tip 1A and squeeze. The colors will come out well.

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Strawberry butter cupcakes

6 egg yolks

5 egg whites

250g unsalted butter

230g self-raising flour

180g caster sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2tsp to 1tsp strawberry paste

:: Preheat oven to 170C.

:: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and add in the strawberry paste. Cream and then set aside.

:: In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Then add in the egg yolks one at a time. Continue beating for another 3 minutes on medium-high.

:: Reduce the speed to medium and add in the butter mixture. Beat until well combined.

:: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the flour and baking powder. Beat until well-combined. Don’t over eat.

:: Fill each each cupcake liner till 2/3 full and bake for about 18-20 minutes (depending on your oven).

:: The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or when the cupcake springs back when you use your finger to press it lightly.

:: Allow the cupcakes to stay in the cupcake tray for a few minutes before taking them out onto the cooling rack .

While Faith is in school…

Ever since Faith started and settled well in school, those three hours have been a real treat to me. Suddenly, I find that I have time to myself without “Mama, Mama” ringing in my ears. I could poo in peace (sorry for being crude) for once and indulge in a book. Oh, how long have I not read any literature? Children’s storybooks I have read aplenty but books that nourish my soul? Hardly.

Putting Faith in school seems like a good choice now especially when she’s not resisting it.

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Now, I could do Pilates without rushing off to pick F up and to squeeze in some time to read,

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get my body moving and the heart pumping while admiring God’s creation and all of nature’s beauty,

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work on my cakes and figurines in peace without having to stop halfway to tend to a whining toddler,

20150114_102934and uninterrupted time to experiment with recipes.

I feel a part of that old me has returned. All these while, I have been busying myself with being a mother. A lot of what I have been doing revolve around her. Whenever I place Faith with my parents/in-laws, it would be because I need to run an errand or do some teaching of classes. I’m always rushing from place to place and at times, things are not done properly.

Now that I have three hours (2.5 hours to be exact) to myself, I’m going to treasure those quiet moments and find myself again.

I was lost in motherhood… and I need to come back.

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Faith goes to school!

The day finally came for Faith to attend school and it was quite an experience for me! The weeks leading to the commencement of school saw me preparing the little one for her new adventure. We talked a lot about going to school, how her cousins love learning in school and read relevant storybooks. We even got her to wear her school uniform and carry her own bag. Trial run!

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So, the little one had mentioned that she wanted to go to school all these while when I asked her. she sounded enthusiastic but I know I would meet with obstacles on the first day. Faith had never attended any drop-off classes and while she had attended multiple playdates, I was with her all the time. This time round, I have to disappear from the scene and I wonder how she would react.

Thankfully, the school has allowed parents to be in the class for 3 days to slowly transit the young kids. We were advised to leave the classroom once we felt that we were ready to let go and let the school staff handle. I thought this is thoughtful of them. They must have realised that the parents are equally anxious (if not more!) as the children.

On the first day, I assured Faith that I would be back for her after 3 hours and bade her farewell. She nodded her head and I left, with her sitting at the assembly area. And she didn’t move AT ALL. She sat there, frozen, with her hand clenched. That pose remained for a good 10 minutes before she wailed.

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I knew she was trying to control herself from crying but in the end, she couldn’t hold the tears any longer. I reached out to her ( I was hiding behind a wall all along!) and calmed her. Thankfully, she cooled down after a short while and joined in the activities.

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I’m thankful that the principal was very hands-on and reached out to Faith. She made her feel at home and stayed by her side. I guess Faith just needed to be with a constant figure and to know that she is safe. I tried to be away from her sight when she was engaged with the activities, preferring to have the teachers tend to her instead of having me by her side.

The first day ended on a pretty good note. When I asked her if she liked school, she replied positively.

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On the second day which was the following Monday, she entered the premise with resistance. The fact that there was another boy who was crying non-stop didn’t help the situation. The teacher whisked the crying Faith in and I left the school quickly. When I picked her up, I was told (by the principal) that she stopped crying after a while and just needed to be with someone she’s familiar with. That day, all the other parents stopped short of entering the classroom which helped in transiting the children.

On the third day, Faith hugged and kissed me goodbye and into the classroom she went. There was a little tearing and reluctance but that’s about it.

Fourth day? No tears. Hallelujah!

Honestly, I thought it would be a whole week of drama for me and I have mentally prepared myself for this episode. But, it has turned out to be so much better than I had expected. The first two days were difficult. So much separation anxiety for both kids and parents alike. I was sharing with another parent that I felt so bad to have enrolled Faith in the school at such a young age and the parent (a SAHM) agreed. Both of us were guilt-laden. I guess we were not the only ones, right?

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Children are highly adaptable beings and once there is consistency in routine, they will be all right. I guess when the children see the same people every day and know that they can be safe in that environment, they will ease up and enjoy the activities and company of others. Each time Faith came out from the classroom, she would recount what she had gone through (in her own ways, of course) that day. It is indeed a joy to see her enjoying school. The principal told me that a girl who is a year older than Faith kept looking out for her and when Faith was sad, she could go over and comfort her. Oh, how sweet!

I learnt to let go and to have faith in the school. The staff members have dealt with the same situation every year and they would know what to do.

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“Do you like school?”

“Yes…”

“Do you want to go to school?”

An enthusiastic ‘yes’.

:)

School isn’t that bad after all.

Pororo cake that went ;(

Recently, my cousin asked me to bake a Pororo cake for my nephew and I went, “What is Pororo?”

Okay, I know I am really ignorant but pardon this busy mother, all right? When she showed me a picture, I know for certain that I have seen this character before. He’s so cute!

Nothing much was asked for the cake except that it has to have the Pororo figurine somewhere. My cousin is easy on the cake, just a simple vanilla and a non-fondant one will do.

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A few days before the actual cake collection, I set out to do the centre-piece, which is Pororo itself. It isn’t difficult to do the body. In fact, you just need two big round mass for the body and head respectively. The difficult part lies in the finer details like the pilot’s hat and the specs. I took quite a while to figure out the proportion of the hat while using two different sizes of the piping tip to make the spectacle rims.

IMG_20150103_2257130.7179084798424332The decoration pieces were made two days in advance.

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I used Wilton’s food writer pens to draw in the details of the hat and the eyes itself on the actual day of the cake collection.

IMG_20150104_1718340.2740290181284296So, I used a super soft vanilla sponge cake for this cake order. I took a risk by laying a piece of fondant on the top so that I could stick the figurines and other decor pieces on it. The Pororo figurine proved to be too heavy for the sponge cake and I had to insert a dowel/ lollipop stick to sustain the weight.

IMG_20150104_1719460.5715718599551294Originally, I had wanted to put some trees as part of the decoration but the sponge cake is really not suitable to withstand the weight. In the end, they had to be placed on the cake board. I think I should just stick to my regular vanilla sponge cake recipe.

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But you know what? The cake didn’t impress. Granted that the Pororo character is cute (I find that it is adorable!) but the sponge cake itself is a flop. My dear cousin gave me an honest feedback about the cake and I do believe I have to go back to testing the recipes again. I’m just angry with myself that the sponge cake has escape my QC during the assembling stage! Arghh…Perhaps something went wrong during the mixing part but oh well… need to really make improvement!

I’m thankful that folks gave me feedback regardless whether it is good or bad review. We all need it for improvement, don’t we?

;)

2015 is here!

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A blessed new year to one and al! I can’t believe it’s 2015 already!

Looking back, 2014 has been good to me mostly because I was able to spend more time with my family. Those outings, scrumptious dinner prepared by mom and the fact that I have my family with me are important to me. Brother came back with his family and we had wonderful moments together. My in-laws are wonderful people to hang out with. The food prepared by our aunt was just too good to resist and I’m thankful that they are always willing to lend a helping hand to us.

My priority for 2015 remains the same – to spend quality time with the family. I think at the end of the day, when one is stripped of everything, there is still FAMILY.

I also want to grow with my spiritual family. We are blessed to be with a group who is encouraging towards one another and one who always reminds us to seek the Lord. For 2015, the hubs and I would probably be more involved in giving of our time to serve others in the church and there remains the question of whether I would want to devote some time in the children’s church.

2014 saw me baking cakes for friends. Thank you once again for believing in me and even ordering from me even though there are many excellent bakers and cake decorators out there. I hope to continue to hone my skills, experiment with more recipes and bake more cakes in 2015…

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… and possibly record the cakes I make on this platform.

2014 was a year of learning for me in terms of teaching the young ones. Having a group of like-minded mothers to plan activities together for our weekly playdate is truly a privilege. While you may think that the kids benefitted from the activities, I would like to say that I gained much insight from the fellow mothers on teaching young ones.

Though F would be going to school this year, there would still be learning for her at home. I definitely hope to have time to think through the ‘curriculum’ and to carry it out dutifully. But above all, I pray that F would grow up a healthy and joyful child.

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When I was younger, I used to come with up with a list of to-do items or goals, as you call them, for the fun of it. I wish to do one too for 2015 but I just couldn’t find the time to do so. For now, what I know is that I would want to channel my energy on my family.

May 2015 be a fruitful year for all.

Faith graduated!

On the third week of December, the mummies of our regular playdates came together and threw a Christmas cum graduation party for the little ones. Oh my, I still remember the first lesson that we had, with only three children. By the end of the year, the group has enlarged to 6 (full strength). When Faith first started the coop/playgroup, she was only 16 months and now she is already 2 years old!

I regret not being diligent in recording EVERY single coop because they really are sweet memories. I MUST blog about this Christmas party!

IMG-1628-1We were a tad early for the celebration and did the usual – photo taking! Mummy Ez had kindly bought the Christmas decors from Daiso as she wanted the function room to be more festive-looking.

IMG-1639-1Children love balloons and what’s a party without balloons? The kids were thrilled, of course, while the mummies laboured.

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Faith loves balloons and has recently discovered that they can burst if she continues to use her fingers or fingernails to scratch on the surface. Such a terror!

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We had snacks and I baked the group a Hello Kitty strawberry-flavoured cake. F, as usual, was my fan, but the cake was well-received! I baked this cake for one of the mummies who is crazy over Hello Kitty. It’s always a pleasure baking cakes for friends!

IMG-1726After everyone had arrived, I started reading the Nativity story, complete with some cardboard figurines. It’s difficult to find a big book on Nativity and one that is easy for the toddlers to comprehend. So I hope the extra materials would help!

IMG-1732Cute eh?

IMG-1741Mummy Ade went on with craftwork and the children were supposed to make angels!

IMG-1753Mandatory photo – the kids with their completed work.

10881477_10152666605599234_5186933916461912703_nWe had a game of musical chairs (replaced by coloured papers). Our dear girl couldn’t catch the concept and was the first to be eliminated. Sigh! Her mum was queen of musical chairs when she was a kid but she clearly didn’t take after her. ;p

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Balloons again!

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We had Christmas gift exchange and Noah gifted Faith with a toy she likes!

IMG_20141218_125958Faith received her graduation certificate (done by mummy C) that day and she was immensely proud of that certificate. In fact, she was beaming with joy when she saw her photo on the sheet of paper. We had only missed one session thus far and it’s just so heartwarming to see how she had developed over the months. A special friendship was formed too among the mummies and I really appreciate every one of them.

10270556_10152666605889234_1015337259505170176_nUs, together with the Tuesdays’ pair of mummies.
;)

Merry Christmas!

I know it’s a bit late to wish everyone a blessed Christmas but I’ve been really busy these days. Days leading up to this wonderful day, I was spending time with the family, bringing Faith on outings with her cousins and meeting up with her playmates. On top of these, there were also cake orders so blogging has taken a step back. There are many memories that I want to record but I just couldn’t find the time! What has added to this agony is the fact that my macbook is showing signs of dying for it runs at an incredibly slow speed, making blogging a real pain. Do you face the same situation as me? ;(

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Anyway, this post is about some Christmas cake orders that I had and I thought I should just blog about it, for memories’ sake and also for my own personal record. Hah.

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On Christmas eve, my friend ordered 20 cupcakes from me and asked specifically that they be decorated with fondant. There are many Christmas cupcake toppers on pinterest and I love the tutorial of the Santa Claus from The Designer Cake Company. Aren’t they adorable? I <3 pinterest a lot!

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I love it when cakes/ cupcakes are packed in boxes! It’s an exhilarating feeling, I kid you not!

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An ex-colleague ordered this chocolate cake with topping cream and chocolate ganache. In it, I put in various kinds of fresh fruits namely raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries. Expensive fruits, I must say, if you are from this part of the world. It’s a small cake and it looks so elegant. Makes me very happy!

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The last cake for this Christmas season is this log cake. I had wanted to bake it for a Boxing Day gathering. Alas, the meeting was cancelled Since I had bought the toppers and they couldn’t last me for another year, I thought I should just go ahead and bake the log cake, using a light chocolate sponge cake.

(A)
4 eggs
120g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
95g all-purpose flour
15g cocoa powder

(C)
70g hot melted butter

1. Grease and line a shallow pan (I used a 25 x 25 x 2cm). Set the oven to 190C.

2. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

3. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended

4. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Remove it from the pan immediately when done.

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I turn it into another parchment paper that is sprinkled with icing sugar so that the sponge cake will not stick so much to the parchment paper.

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 With the seam side down, let the cake cool completely before proceeding to the next step.

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Unroll the sponge cake, brush a layer of sugar syrup (with chocolate extract) and put a layer of whipped topping cream and add in cherries (those that come in the frozen pack).

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Roll the sponge cake back! It will look a little ugly at this point in time but not to worry, you can always beautify it with chocolate ganache!

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Since I’m using a small cake board, I have to divide the sponge cake into 2 portions and since the smaller one at an angle so that it will attach nicely to the main one (as in the pic).

20141225_155038Spread chocolate ganache on the cake and use the tines of a fork to make the lines. Add the toppers and sprinkle some icing sugar to create the snowy look and…

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There you have it, a simple log cake! I got my family to taste it and my mum who is oh-so-critical approves of it! Yay!

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Once again, have a blessed Christmas! Hope to find more time to add more entries on this space!

WMI instructor training seminar

For the past week, I have been learning a lot from some awesome cake decorators. It was tiring having to go through the seminar from 9am to 6pm but we made it. I’m thankful to the hubs who travelled together with me, as well as F, to this place, Shenzhen, to be precise. I would have missed them both a lot if they didn’t come along!

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We spent the first day at Window of the World, a replica park that is within walking distance from our hotel. The entrance fee is hefty, in my opinion. At 160Y, it is a bit pricey for the locals. We thought that we won’t be touring much for this trip and decided to visit this theme park on the day we arrived. It was a nice walk and we spent about 80 minutes ‘visiting’ the famous landmarks in the world.

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The next day, I plunged into training seminar mode and reported at 8am sharp at the meeting room. There were about 45 of us from the Asian region and it was quite an experience learning from the experts as well as one another.

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Cake decorating is something that I venture into after I gave birth to Faith. It was really out of boredom, foremost, that I took up the Wilton cake decorating courses. Thankfully, the courses are really fun and addictive and it spurs me on to hone my skills in cake decorating.  It’s such a privilege to be able to to go through the training seminar (and eventually be an instructor) although I must always remind myself that my full time job is still to bring Faith up!

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The instructors came from the United States, Canada, Dubai, Japan and Korea and as they introduced themselves, it is heartening to learn that they started off cake decorating because they wanted to bake cakes for their children. Of course, they went on to be really excellent in their skills and are now international instructors now.

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I seriously love the Wilton method of cake decorating because it is so systematic and one can be introduced to a whole spectrum of skills. I have gone through other types of cake decorating instructor’s training courses but this ought to be the one that is the most fun and engaging. It really helps that the instructors themselves were so confident and know exactly what to do and could guide us step-by-step.

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Because there were so many of us, each time the instructor called us up to view the demonstration, there would be a real rush to be at the front. Asians! We are just very enthusiastic people! Hah!

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This is our Japanese instructor whose words are few but skills are great!

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Throughout the five days, we were given equipment to use and we could bring them back home after the seminar. We are expected to continue to practise those skills so that we can be really good when we teach prospective participants. This is really the highlight of each day (nah!).

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Day four and you can see a really messy table and a very tired-looking me. Ganbatte ne!

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I love it that the instructors would go around to give feedback on our work and many times, they also gave invaluable tips. Awesome!

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On the last day, we were expected to do up a cake with whatever sugar flowers we had and to apply the skills that we have acquired. It is interesting to see so many different kinds of design even though we were given similar sets of things to work with, thus reflecting our individual style.

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This is mine and truly not my style. I’m not a sugar flower person since I’m more into figurines but I can always work on flowers!

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So that night, we received our instructor’s aprons and we could teach the Wilton courses now! How exciting! I’m looking forward to my first class already!

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I’m thankful to have the family with me throughout this week and really felt blessed that the hubs supports this hobby of mine. I reckon it wasn’t easy for him to take care of the little one when I was in the seminar but he made it!

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Whatever time I had after the seminar was used to spend some much needed time with the little one. Shenzhen provides little entertainment for F but thankfully she could be satisfied by just being in this trolley when we went to the supermarket.

So, what’s next, I wonder?

To-pack list for travelling with a toddler

What would you pack if you are going on a trip WITH a 2YO toddler?

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Apart from the essentials like clothing, diapers (not toilet-trained yet!) and the like, there are some other stuff that I would specially pack for a trip. Those are items to {hopefully} engage a toddler who might get bored on a trip.

1. Storybooks

IMG_20141206_091203 One of the activities that Faith likes is reading and some routines should still remain no matter where we go. For every trip, we will bring along a few books and here’s one which I personally like. It’s a Bible storybook with puzzles for each story. Faith is still very much into puzzles and apart from reading, she can busy herself with fixing these puzzles.

2. Puzzles

IMG_20141206_095113These puzzles can get the little one to stay focused for a good while. Since she is learning about transportation at the moment, I brought along these few pieces which I borrowed from fellow mummies.

3. Busy bag

IMG_20141206_095510This is my busy bag which is always able to engage the little one for a slightly longer period of time. There are quite a few items in this bag even though it remains light and compact with all its contents.

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:: Stickers and sticker books which Faith loves and she could spend a great amount of time with them.

:: Colour pencils which she could use for the Christmas Joys activity book.

:: Balloons when she’s absolutely bored. So we could inflate one for her and play some games with it.

:: Paper clips which she could use to connect each one of them, something which she’s still trying to figure out.

:: Clothes pegs to practise her pincers grip (and she’s still frustrated by them)

:: Coloured shapes which she could use to make vehicles! Good for reinforcing colours and shapes.

:: Sponge animals in capsules, random stuff which I bought from Daiso.

4. Snacks

IMG_20141206_101420Who doesn’t love snacks? These stay in my carry-on bag because I need to give Faith something to chew when the plane ascends or descends. I have repacked them into smaller quantity because if you know the little girl, she could finish one big pack in a very short amount of time. I always get nervous when the plane is taxiing on the runway. Sometimes, the plane has to wait for an awfully long time (when the air traffic is heavy) before it’s able to take off and that’s when I have to dish out another bag for Faith since she would already have finished the previous bag.

I sealed the bags with tapes so that Faith could practise her grip when she’s removing them. The plastic bag seal clip is good as a tool to engage her too. ;)

5. Random toys

IMG_20141206_171447I don’t know when this happened but recently, Faith would want to hold some toys in her hands whenever we go out. So I thought these puppets, toy bus and animals would entertain her a bit. Good for pretend play too!

There you have it. These are my 5 main items to pack when travelling with a toddler. What’s yours?

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A thankful spirit on a random Friday

I’m counting my blessings today because on looking back, the second year with Faith was a fruitful and exciting one because I was blessed with the company of wonderful mommy friends throughout that year.

I was often kept busy by playdates. We had regular ones, as well as ad-hoc ones invited by random friends. Because of that, Faith is mostly in the company of friends and warms up to others rather easily. The downside is that she gets bored when we stay at home and that could drive me mad when she acts up.

Nevertheless, I want to thank those friends who always open their place for the little ones to have some jolly good times. And I’m all the more grateful that they are ever so willing to share their toys with Faith.

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There’s B who has soon become Faith’s constant playmate. Whenever I feel frustrated, I know I can run to Mummy T who will always open her home to us. That’s not all. Mummy T and I always exchange toys and books and more often than not, I am the one benefitting more because Mummy T can actually open a bookstore with the amount of books at her place. So, I will often go home with quality English and Chinese books. Blessed!

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Faith also has the company of older kids such as K who came over to accompany her while I prepared lunch for a gathering for a group of SAHMs. Faith adores this older sister and learns a fair bit of stuff from her since she is five years older than her.

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Recently, Mummy J invited us and Mummy D to her place for a playdate and Faith got exposed to playing the piano. The talented A was so kind to Faith and spent some time getting Faith to appreciate music. I can absolutely see a fine young man in him!

20141202_112954In the company of A gor gor and Y jie jie

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There are also new mummy friends who invited us over to have playdates with their kids and Faith had a good time with the three boys playing puzzles, building train tracks and working on some Duplo sets.

20141204_113828 I am always thankful to have a group of mummy friends for our regular playdates and coop. I have learnt so much from every one of them and to think that we might not be together again the following year saddens me.

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Of course, Faith loves the company of her cousins whom she loves very much. She would jump with joy whenever she sees them.

Initially I thought being a SAHM would be rather boring but I thought wrong! My calendar can be kept full because of playdates but I’ve nothing to complain! The little one loves the company of friends and I really hope this will help her transit well when she goes to nursery the following year.

I’m also grateful to friends who are so willing to share their toys and books with Faith. We have few toys at home but because they share, Faith doesn’t lack.

So here I am. Looking back at the past year (Faith’s 2nd year) with great gratitude.

Just a simple Christmas tree

Following the wreath, the next Christmas craft that I got Faith to do was a simple Christmas tree. We didn’t have the space in our apartment to put up a real tree and I thought a DIY one would be more meaningful.

Bought a stack of huge origami paper from Diaso and cut out the shape of a tree using green against the red paper. All Faith needed to do was to paste the coloured circles (from Diaso again!) on the tree. Easy right? It’s definitely good for getting her to practise peeling off the stickers but to get her to paste the coloured circles randomly tested my patience.

20141203_154523-1The little girl would paste the same coloured circles in a linear fashion, much to my frustration. I tried as much as possible to let her do it her way but the perfectionist in me could not stand it! So, halfway through her attempt, I directed her to paste the stickers in a more spaced-out manner so that the colours are more evenly distributed. ;p

20141203_160831This is a very achievable task for toddlers and probably takes about 15 minutes?
;)

20141204_090452-1The completed Christmas tree!