Hong Kong Day #2

This trip must have been the most stress-free one that I have ever had. Gone were the days when I woke up early to hit the streets. Now, I wake up early too but that’s because Faith decides to start the day early. My friends were still sound asleep when we woke up and we had our breakfast albeit quietly in the living room as JH roamed in lala land. To pass the time, Faith and I read or played with stickers until my friends woke up. I realised I actually enjoyed doing these things with her. Bliss!

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We set off, eventually, at around 10am to Shanghai Street (just a street down to where we were staying) where you can purchase baking stuff! Oh my goodness! I was so tempted to buy but knowing that we would be out the whole day, decided to control my excitement and noted mentally to go back.

It’s time for Dim Sum and JH suggested that we took a cab to Grand Century Place for our brunch. According to her, Jade Garden serves good food at affordable prices. When we reached the restaurant, there was already a queue but thankfully we didn’t have to wait too long before we get a table. 

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Shop 603, 6/F, Grand Century Place, 193 Prince Edward Road, Mong Kok 
旺角太子道西193號新世紀廣場6樓603號舖

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According to my two friends who are both Cantonese, the quality of a few Dim Sum items will determine if the restaurant serves good food. They are (to name a few): Steamed Chicken Feet, Barbequed Pork Bun, Shrimp 20140416_105402-1Dumplings, Pork and Shrimp Dumplings, Pork Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce, Rice Noodle Rolls, etc. They ordered those dishes and I must say we enjoyed the food tremendously. Faith was sound asleep throughout and I could have some peace, savouring these yummy food. It’s not uncommon to see folks spending a lot time having Dim Sum. For example, this couple next to our table had already been there for an hour and they were still there, reading newspaper and subsequently order two bowls of rice with one dish. They must have been spending both breakfast and lunch at the same place! For us, thanks to Faith, we spent about one and a half hours at the Dim Sum place to savour just a few items. Not bad!

After filling our stomach, the next best thing to do in HK is to SHOP! It’s to Uniqlo we went. This outlet at Grand Century Place is the biggest and you can imagine my joy! The greatest beneficiary is Faith since the collection was so much more than the ones back home. 80% of the stuff that I put in the shopping basket were hers.

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Faith was all excited too and wanted to come out of the stroller and roamed. It could get tiring since she couldn’t walk for a long period and needed to be carried. In the end, I had to strap her. Hiking in urban jungle! I must say I spend the most at Uniqlo. Ahem…

We had wanted to do some heritage trail for this trip and we decided on the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail, one of the six trails that HK offers. It is a good breather from the hustle and bustle of city life and grant us the opportunity to explore Hong Kong’s rural cultural heritage through monuments and buildings including walled villages, ancestral halls, study halls, shrines and temples.

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Thank God we brought along the stroller. I cannot imagine taking the trail with Faith in the carrier. And more importantly, the stroller survived the uneven terrain.

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Faith had some time at the playground! Who would have expected this place to have a play area for kids. Why, of course, there are still people residing here.

We spent a good few hours doing the trail. It wasn’t anything spectacular, to be honest. But it is a good getaway if you just don’t want to meet with crowded streets. We were tired after the trail. We have, after all, been out for a long time and by the time we reached our apartment, it was time for dinner. We ate at the small eatery next to our building, selling claypot porridge and cooked food. And I was introduced to the affluent prawns for the first time (not sure if this is actually the name). I realised too that some eateries in HK do not provide high chair or if they have, they have limited sets. So what they do is to stack chairs up and then Faith will sit on the improvised high chair. Thankfully, she sat through without much fidgeting. I think she knows the impending danger should she do that. ;p

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I’m not sure where we got the energy but we proceeded to shop along Temple Street after dinner. I brought along the stroller which was a HUGE mistake. It was really crowded and Faith was getting cranky since it was near to her bedtime and insisted to be carried. I had no carrier with me and had to carry her. Oh my poor back! Lesson learnt: bring carrier when going out in the evening.

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Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司
47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan, Hong Kong
Tel: 2730-1356

We stopped by the Australia Dairy Company for our supper. According to JH, this place serves better steamed egg pudding than 义顺牛奶 and she recommended this place. We had the egg pudding but I’m not a fan of such a dessert. Perhaps, the next time I visit HK again, I’ll try the many other stuff on the menu. Heard that their scrambled eggs are good!

We finally reached home around 10 + pm with loads of shopping bags. We contributed to the economy by purchasing beauty products from Sasa. Hah! If only we could have a spa treatment then.

Hong Kong Day #1

We had an early flight to catch and had to be at the airport at 5.30am for our check-in. Getting the little one up wasn’t too difficult a task and we soon saw ourselves at the airport. To be honest, I was a little anxious. Will Faith cry throughout the flight? Will I be able to handle her? What if… 

I guess it would not help much if I was to continue to allow fear to grip me and decided that I should just trust that all would be well. JH had helped to book front row seats for us on the plane and that translated to more leg room and space for the little one to roam. I mean, how do you expect a toddler to stay in a seat throughout a flight?

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We brought the stroller along just in case we would be walking distance. It’s not those super lightweight ones but still light enough to travel with.

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We took Singapore Airlines because it was a rather last-minute purchase and it would amount to almost the same pricing if we went for the budget airlines. For comfort’s sake, we decided to pay a little more.

2014-04-15 12.11.56-MOTIONFaith was all right during the flight except for the fact that she cried for a good few minutes during the take off. I made the mistake of giving her favourite biscuits while the plane was still taxiing. She almost finished the whole packet and I had to stop her from consuming during the take off. She must have experienced air pressure and cried in her discomfort. Unfortunately, she rejected both water and milk and only wanted her biscuits which in the end I relented and gave her. That appeased her. ;)

After an uneventful flight, we reached HK! The girl was visibly tired and I had to strap her in the carrier. she fell asleep almost immediately which was good for us as we gathered our luggage and proceeded to Kowloon Station via the Airport Express Train which took a mere 25 minutes or so. From there, we took a cab to our apartment along Temple Street. Surprisingly, it was not expensive to travel around in a cab!

Our apartment is 5 minutes away from the MTR and there were many eateries and shops that we could frequent. Sha and I were too tired to roam around and JH kindly offered to buy lunch for us. They were delicious and seemed like comfort food to us – Wanton noodles, Char Siew buns, beef brisket noodles, etc.

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Supreme Beef Brisket Soup
Shop C, Wing Shing Bldg, 30-40 Temple St,
Yau Ma Tei, 
2771 2681.

We took to the streets after a rest. It was to Ladies Market and it was a near walk from our apartment. I used the stroller and within minutes, Faith slept like a log. I guess she was too tired. It wasn’t all that easy to use the stroller in crowded Hong Kong. In fact, there were only fewer than ten strollers that I saw along the way. Most of the time, carriers were used by parents with young kids.

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My last trip to HK was almost ten years ago and the streets don’t seem to have changed much. How is that possible?

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One of the things that I aimed to do is to taste these local food especially the smelly toufu! It’s extremely tasty in cold weather, me thinks! With the chilli sauce, they are just heavenly. Of course, we only had the toufu since we would be meeting a friend for dinner. Better save some space for that!

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Cravings satisfied! And Faith stayed soundly asleep in the sea of crowd. Bliss for us all!

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So we had hot pot for dinner. Absolutely delightful and I forgot to take down the name and address of the restaurant.

Travelling with a toddler : The packing list

I must have been out of my mind when I agreed to my friend’s suggestion of going for a holiday with the kid in tow. It’s crazy 20140405_145004because the hubs will not be going with me though I’m travelling with two close friends who are experienced with kids. The best arrangement is to have someone look after her while I have my break but we can’t find suitable and reliable childcare so she has to tag along! So technically, it’s a work trip for me!

I have been backpacking through all my leisure travels but this time round, I think I had better not be so ‘gungho’ (adventurous). The hubs bought me a suitcase so that it will be a tad easier for me to travel. Travelling with a little one can be challenging especially when she still cannot articulate her thoughts but I intend to give it a try!

We decided to go to somewhere near and which we are familiar with. So it’s Hong Kong for our dim sum, shopping and hiking!

Here’s my packing list for a 4D3N trip to this Asian country. It’s really more for Faith than me since I can easily buy should I lack anything.

- Diapers. Bringing extra won’t hurt!

- Wet wipes. At least one big pack and the rest can be bought.

Blanket(s). I use Aden Anais’ muslin swaddle as blanket, changing pad and Faith’s comfort item.

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Plastic bags. Carry a variety of sizes for storing soiled diapers, clothes, and shoes.

Small bottles of disinfecting hand gel and toiletries

Toys and books. I definitely won’t be bringing a lot since my only main concern is to get Faith entertained during the flight journey. This jigsaw book is one I would definitely bring on board!

Clothes, socks, and shoes. Thankfully, the weather is rather similar to ours and what’s good is that it is cooler. I would just need to bring along some cardigans or we can layer as we go along!

- Handkerchiefs as bibs. Faith is drooling lots at times so these will help a lot.

Portable ‘chair‘. I use the sack and seat especially when the eatery does not provide high chair.

- First aid kit. This is ultra important when travelling with a young kid - Baby paracetamol / ibuprofen, digital thermometer, vicks, etc.

- Stroller. I know HK isn’t the best place to travel with a stroller but I’m not sure if I can carry her all the way. A light-weight one such as the Combi’s QuicKids is ideal. It’s only 4kg. I can manage that!

- Carrier. What can I do without it? I travel everywhere with the carrier and I just adore Boba’s fuss-free carrier! We will be doing some hiking and this will definitely come in useful!

Here’s a peek at the interior of the suitcase.

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And here’s what I bring on board the plane (I’m a kiasu mama):

- 3 diapers (I know Faith will poo)
- wet wipes (saviour)
- Storybook20140414_223158
- 1 jigsaw puzzle
- stickers
- Faith’s favourite bars and biscuits
- water bottle
- milk powder
- camera
- passports
- Faith’s Care Bear
- wallet
- plastic bags

Let’s just see if I have overpacked in the end. Stay tuned!

The celebration weekend

For the past few days, I have been baking. There was batter and cakes and pops. The house (kitchen and living room) was in a mess but there were two celebrations and cakes were called for and so I baked.

The wedding cake was a three-tiered lavender cake covered with buttercream and boy, was I glad. You see, the weather turned extremely humid on Friday and if it was a fondant cake, I would be done for. Nonetheless, it was still an adventure making this cake. I have wanted to bake with culinary lavender flowers and extract and I had to hunt them down. I have searched a few baking suppliers but they do not have the things I want until I went to Kitchen Capers and saw the last packet of lavender flowers. GRAB, so I did and with bottles of extract. I burnt a big hole in the pocket that day.

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The lavender cakes were baked 2 days before since there was quite a fair bit of things to work out before the actual day. Since the cakes had to be refrigerated, they had to be moistened with sugar syrup during the assembling stage.

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Did the mashmallow pops which I love because they are so pretty and I so love washi tapes which helped to further give the pops some life.

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On the actual day, I went down to the site (which is sooo sooo romantic) and set the cake up. The toppers were made of fondant + tylose and the bride requested that they be made as closely to the ones on the invite. The pot (Kam Cheng) was difficult to make since I can’t make it fully of fondant as it would be too heavy on the cake so in the end I had to wrap another cake with fondant and shape it into a pot. Not the best result but it had to be done this way.

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By the way, the romantic place I was referring to is La Cantina In Venezia @ Changi Village Hotel. It’s a really nice place which overlooks the sea. Maybe I would do a staycation at the hotel one day!

After the wedding cake came a little girl’s first birthday. It was a strawberry cake and I had fun baking this!

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Love making the bunting using washi tapes.

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Strawberries overload


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I have decided to colour the layers in shades of pink with swiss meringue buttercream and strawberries in between. Strawberry paste and vanilla bean paste are added which added taste and colour to the sponge.

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I seriously am not good in cake decorating; there’s so much more room for improvement. I have baked a few strawberry cakes but am not impressed by the end product. Somehow, the looks fail but with the sweetie pie (the birthday girl), everything just seems beautiful. Alrighty, I need a break. Da man has been neglected and I think I need to slow down and spend more time with the family. Weekends’ precious. This hobby of mine has to slow down a little!

Lavender cake (2 6″ cake pans)

1 1/4 Cups unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup caster sugar
4  eggs
2 1/4 Cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp dried culinary lavender, chopped
1/2 tbsp lavender extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and baking powder and set aside. In  mixer bowl with beater attachment, on medium speed, cream butter and sugar thoroughly until light and fluffy.  Stop and scrape the sides of your mixing bowl.  Return to medium speed and add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition, until mixture becomes thick and glossy. Stop your mixer, scrape the sides as needed and return to medium speed to complete mixing for about 1 minute until throughly mixed.  By hand, fold in the flour, lavender florets, vanilla and milk. Spoon the mixture into pans and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 180C oven or until knife inserted in cake center comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes, run a knife along the edge to release the cake from the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before frosting.

A busy week and a soy-marinated steamed salmon don recipe

After a week of solo parenting (almost), this week wasn’t really kind as well. Faith ran a temperature for a few days and as a result, I incur more sleep debt. Thankfully, da man didn’t have to work late this week and could help out.

Faith has a tendency to explore every nook and corner of the house (as with most children) and then continue to indulge her curiosity by tasting whatever she picks up. When I was in the shower, she would open up the cover of the sewage pipe, touch it (the moss and all) and then put her finger into her mouth. I was desperately knocking at the glass door and asking her to stop but it was in vain. Perhaps, that is the result why she fell ill. Too much ‘goodies’ in her stomach.

We didn’t send her to the doc as we wanted her to fight the virus herself. Of course, our next course of action, should she not recover, was to consult the doc. Her temperature hovered around 39C, which was not really alarming until it hit 40C, I was told. Sponging her was a total waste of time as she refused such a treatment. In the end, we surrendered and gave her paracetamol instead. Those few days, a lot of diapers were used since she purged out a lot of waste (a good thing) and by the fourth day, she was well. Her cheerful disposition and appetite returned. Phew!20140403_163323 (1)

So, this week, I could only do one decent meal. All others are just ‘anyhow’ put together. This soy-marinated steamed salmon don recipe is so easy and fuss-free to prepare. Using the rice cooker, I steam the salmon while I parboil the sweet beans. Then I fry some eggs (with milk, soy sauce and pepper) before preparing the soy marinade. The salmon is then infused in the marinade for a few minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can marinade the salmon overnight before steaming it.

Soy Marinade
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of mirn
2 tbsp of sake
2 lemon slices

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This week, I’m thankful to my father-in-law who came over to spend time with the little girl so that I could do some baking.

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And we celebrated mom’s and brother-in-law’s birthday. As usual, my cake received a lot of critique from my mom. So, I’m still in a quest to improve my cake!

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Playdate and a banana muffin recipe

We just completed our second (homeschooling) session! Oh what fun! The three mothers were tasked to conduct the various segments and I must say I learnt quite a fair bit from my fellow mummies!

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We learnt about the colour blue the previous session and this time round, it was red. After the welcome song, C got the kids to learn about RED by showing them items with that colour. It was a quick segment since we realised that our young kids get bored and couldn’t sit still for long.

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Next, Sab read a story entitled ‘Are you my Mummy’ and got the children’s attention. The illustration was colourful and the kids got to feel the furry material too. I guess our kids have been educated on animals and the older ones could call out the names of some animals. Faith? She was just distracted by the many toys in the house.

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We did some craftwork as a follow up to the reading. Using toilet paper roll and some scraps of paper, we made a duck! I thought it is quite a good idea since we could teach the kiddos the different parts of the body as we pieced them together.

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Right after that, the kids played with homemade dough as free play. This was the first time that Faith interacted with dough and she didn’t dare to touch it, let alone do some cut outs with it. I think I have to expose her to more materials from now on! *think sensory play*

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 I am in charge of refreshment this week and I made a bento (kind of) with cranberry buns, banana muffins and fruits. I seriously love how the Japanese present their food and want to do the same. So, you can expect more bentos from me too!

I like this session a lot because it is also a time for the mummies to rest and catch up with one another. As expected, the boy could finish whatever was presented to him while the girls had some slight problem. But no worries!

I love the idea of placing the food items on the tray because this teaches the kids personal space. This time round, Faith couldn’t finish her food. How rare!

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After the makan session, it’s Quiet Time. We wanted to instill this in the kids so that they will know how to be quiet before the Lord as they grow up. For now, it’s really just for them to get down and rest while we pray for them. You may think it is easy but the kids were trying to get up every now and then! 5 minutes….just for 5 minutes!

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The last session is on Practical Life which was somewhat the same as the previous session. The kids got to scoop cotton balls from one container to the other, match caps with the respective bottles and to match shapes using theMelissa N Doug puzzles. With a goodbye song, the children bade farewell to one another and so our 2-hour session ended! So fast!

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Banana Muffin Recipe
(Makes about 10 – 12 medium size muffins)

Ingredients:

4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
250 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
80 g caster sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
60 g milk
60 g butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1 or 2 banana, sliced into 1/2cm chunks

1. Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon ground together. Set aside.

2. In a big bowl. Stir and mix butter, milk, eggs and vanilla together. Add in sugar and salt. Mix till well combined and add in the mashed bananas. Mix well.

3. Fold in the sieve flour at one time and mix slowly till well combined. Remember not to over stir the batter.

4. Scoop the batter into the paper cup, add the sliced banana chunks and cover it with some batter. Fill about 8/10 of the batter, leave some space for the muffin to raise when we bake them. I have some caramel and walnuts left from previous bakes and added the caramel in between the batter and sprinkle some chopped toasted walnuts on top.

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5. Bake at preheated oven at 175c for 20mins or till it’s cooked, when the toothpick inserted at the center of the cakes came out clean. Every oven is different so you have to trial and test!

* Note to self: The next time I bake these, I will try brown sugar and see the difference it makes.

 

WW | Faith the explorer

It’s always my belief that children should spend a good amount of time in the outdoors, to explore the environment they are in and to be curious about the world. Whenever the weather is good and when I’m not busy with some baking stuff, I’ll make sure to bring Faith out.

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Thankfully we stay near the reservoir, parks and playground. There is much greenery and Faith gets to play with sand, grass and crawlies!

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Even when she is walking home from the carpark, she gets all curious about the floor, the rubbish and the plants found on the first floor. Dear girl, there are really a lot of things to explore. The world is your classroom!

Linking up with

Heroes in town

How’s your Saturday been thus far?

Mine turned out awesome. You see, I’ve encountered a few heroes today.

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Yesterday, the car could not start and we contacted a mechanic whose name card was given by my sis. I contacted him and he replied that he would try to come as early as possible the next day, thinking that I would need the car for work. Indeed, this morning, he came at the agreed time, examined my car battery and other parts and told me that the fault was with the starter. The problem was solved after he used a rod to give a few knocks on the starter. He told me honestly that it could still last a few months though it would be good to change it.

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He shrugged his shoulder and said it was ok and drove off.

I was filled with thanksgiving. I’m not trying to be cynical but the uncle could have charged me for travelling to my place or even gave me a wrong diagnosis so that he could earn a bit but he didn’t. Such honesty. Such kindness. There are indeed awesome people like them around!

My spirit was lifted and I was in a happy mood to complete the cake that my ex-colleague/ friend has ordered for his son’s 7th birthday. The theme was on Superman and I was thinking of Superman emerging from the ground to save the people. I told my friend that I would rather that we get a toy as the topper as compared to doing one. Thankfully, he was okay with that idea.

The chocolate cakes were baked a day before so that on the actual day, I could fully concentrate on decorating it. For the last few cakes, I had used various types of coating but found it unsuitable for our humid tropical climate.  This time round, I used a 2:1 proportion for the chocolate ganache. And I think it works!

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The cake was well covered by the ganache and after putting a layer of brown fondant on top, I covered it with blue fondant as the sky. I had wanted a darker blue but just couldn’t get it! #notenoughbluefoodcolour
After that, I cut out the top layer of the fondant in the middle of the cake to ‘allow Superman to emerge from the ground’. Before that, I had to wrap the bottom of the topper with some brown fondant before placing it into the cake to ensure food safety. The ‘peeling’ of the ground is made of two rectangles of brown and blue and then cut into triangles before placing it in the middle for it to attach and dry.

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I thought the chocolate balls added some spice to the ‘damaged’ ground. ;p

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Can you guess which city is decorated on the cake? You’ve guessed it right. It is Singapore all right. I was able to have a good and uninterrupted time decorating this cake because the hubs took the little one down for a long walk and took over the duty from me. Grateful. In the afternoon, I was also able to have my first real run because my father-in-law came and played with Faith. Oh, these heroes! I am definitely grateful to these men!

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Hope your Saturday’s been awesome.

Foodie Friday | Passionfruit curd meringue tartlets

I’m a little late for FF because a host of things happened yesterday that prevented me from blogging. But it’s not too late, I guess. ;)

It’s been a while since I last made tartlets and my hands are itching again. This time round, I intend to make passionfruit curd meringue tartlets. I’m using the puree as opposed to the real fruit since I don’t see any of those fruits in the supermarket. Have fun making this. I had, especially when I’m using the blow torch. Heh…

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The Pate Sucree tart shells can be made in advance when you have extra egg yolks left after baking. It’s easy to make and you should always keep some in the freezer!

*Pate Sucree Tart Shell
( 1/2 portion can made eight 31/2″ shells and twelve 1 1/2″ shells)
Adapted from Miette Cookbook

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
226g cold unsalted butter, cubed (1 whole SCS block)
2 large egg yolks
4 to 8 tbsp heavy cream

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1. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and beat until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tbsp of the cream. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. If the dough does not come together into large chunks, slowly add the remaining cream, a little bit at a time, until it does. I took about 5 tbsp. Gather the dough into a ball, pat it into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough to make the portions you need. I used the pressing in method to press the dough into the tart pans. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

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4. Preheat oven to 180C.

5. Fully pre-bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Every oven is different. For me, I tend to put to bake for a tad longer, sometimes up to 20 minutes. I will always look at the colour to determine if the tarts are baked to my liking.

Passionfruit curd

1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
about ¾ cup passionfruit puree
112g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (off-heat), whisk the sugar and the eggs together until blended. Whisk in the corn syrup and passionfruit puree and then drop in the chunks of butter.

2. Put the saucepan over medium heat and start whisking, taking care to work the whisk into the edges of the pan. If your whisk is too big to clean the edges of the pan, switch to a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula. Keep heating and whisking the mixture without stop. After about 6 to 8 minutes, you’ll notice the curd starting to thicken- it won’t be very thick, but the change is easily perceptible. When the curd is thickened, and most important, you see a bubble or two burble to the surface and then pop immediately, remove the pan from the heat.

3. Scrape the curd into a heatproof bowl or a canning jar or two. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal, and let the curd cool to room temperature (it will thicken slightly as it cools). Chill before serving. The curd will keep up to three weeks, refrigerated.

Swiss Meringue
(Portion is sufficient for this amount of tartlets)

100g egg white (3 large eggs)
135g sugar

1. Lightly whisk egg whites in a mixing bowl, place over a pot of simmering water (double boiler).

2. Add in sugar in 3 batches, whisk sugar and egg whites till sugar is fully dissolved (rub some with your fingers, if it feels grainy, it hasn’t dissolved yet). I took about 4 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Transfer the mixture into another bowl and using the standmixer and the balloon whisk, I whisk for about 5mins till peaks are stiff, thick and glossy.

Happy baking!

Toddler Busy Bag Exchange (under 3YO)

I was introduced to this term – Busy Bag Exchange – via a meetup and thought the idea is brilliant.

Basically, a busy bag is a simple, fun and age appropriate activity that will keep your child engaged for a while. You can throw one in your bag to take out at a restaurant, on an airplane, use it at home or somewhere else when you need some time to get something done! This, this and this are cool examples.

In an exchange, each parent chooses a busy bag to work on and give to all the other parents at the exchange. During the exchange they swap bags and each gets to leave with a variety of activities for his/her toddler!

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I’m listing the various activity ideas and hopefully I’ll be able to work on some in preparation for Faith’s homeschooling activities.

Oh what busy and fun days ahead!

WW | Happy days!

Our country experienced a dry spell recently and it was made worse with hazy weather. So, one can imagine our joy when it rained recently and the skies cleared! We took the opportunity to go outdoors! This time round, mom joined us too at the reservoir.

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What an endearing sight. I’ve never recalled mom playing with us when we were younger!

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It’s so fun to have the kids playing together!

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To the National Library we went!

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Oh! Happy days! More of such days please!

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Holistic learning @ Gymnademics

Time flies and we have completed one term of lessons at Gymnademics!

Faith progresses from the Cruzero to Pre-fellowship class under the recommendation of the teachers who have observed her since the first lesson. The latter class is no doubt more challenging as compared to the previous one. With the use of word cards, picture cards and encyclopedic, Faith learnt about her neighbourhood and items used in daily life which was the theme for the few sessions that she attended. The husband and I were not left idle since we had to help her to match the words with the pictures, for example.

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Even the physical activities are a tad more challenging and Faith got to practise her balancing, manual and mobility competencies. It feels like an obstacle course no less and is really fun, from my perspective. Faith, being the youngest of the group, was slow in getting through each part of the obstacles but under the constant cheer and beckoning of the teachers and parents alike, she managed to clear them. What an encouraging environment!

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I am obviously thankful to be given the opportunity to try out the lessons with Faith for a term.  The teachers are a dedicated group of educators and even take down notes about Faith’s development through the activities conducted. This is made possible with a relatively small class size of no more than nine kids. The environment is conducive for learning and activities are fun, purposeful and engaging! Above all, I like it that the lesson is holistic in the sense that Faith gets to learn about language and science, music and movement and participates in physical activities all within that one hour. The parents get to learn together with the child and receive a parent-child bonding package so that we can reinforce the learning at home. Isn’t that a bonus?

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I guess what benefits me as a parent is that I could use what I have learnt from the session to further teach Faith at home. This is especially helpful since Faith is not attending any other lessons and I could adapt the resources provided for future homeschooling activities.

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I love it when Faith enjoys each lesson. 

[Giveaway] If you are thinking about trying out Gymnademics classes, here is a wonderful opportunity to do so. Gymnademics is giving away THREE trial class passes worth $58 each at ARC (Alexandra Retail Centre). You can then go through the lesson for yourself (together with your child, of course) and decide if you want to continue with them. Sounds good?

What you need to do is to share with me ONE consideration that you will make when choosing an enrichment class for your child via the comment’s section in this blog post.

- 3 winners will be chosen at random
- Giveaway is only open to Singapore residents.
- Ends on 26 March 2014
- The winner will be announced on this blog post and on lynnlly’s facebook page the following day.

All the best!

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 Gymnademics is an early enrichment centre for children from 5 months to 5 years of age. They adopt a holistic approach towards early childhood development, by incorporating both intellectual and physical activities in the classes. The curriculum is designed to be purposefully fun and engaging for both parents and children and is built upon the foundation of the Glenn Doman method. To find out more about the classes at Gymnademics, do visit the website or their facebook page.

Disclosure: Faith is given a full 10 sessions package by Gymnademics for review purposes. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

UPDATE: The THREE winners randomly chosen by Faith are Estella, Jo and Irene! Congratulations! We will be in touch with you shortly!

Bicycle on my cake

I used to cycle, and quite frequent at one stage. I love the wind that caresses your face as you cruise but dislike the climbing of hills. But it’s all good and I met a whole group of awesome cyclists.

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While training for an event, I met a wonderful lady through a swim class and a few days ago, she asked me if I could bake a cake for her boyfriend who is an avid and really superb cyclist. It is my pleasure of course. Little did I realise that it is rather difficult to make the bicycle figurine since it can be so delicate.

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I got inspired from this blog but I must say I could not use the same technique as hers. For the bike frame, I covered a toothpick with fondant + tylose as I really need the frame to be sturdy. As for the wheels, I used circle cutters and spaghetti for the spokes before painting the spokes with metallic food paint. The different parts of the bike had to be done in stages and in the end, pieced them all up with glue (edible one, of course) and pray very hard that it will stay in one piece.

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Thankfully, the weather was good to make figurine. It was relatively non-humid and the parts could dry by the following day. I had great fun with this but know that there is really much much room for improvement. M asked for a chocolate cake with caramel and walnut and she gets her cake done this way!

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M’s boyfriend likes the bike so much that he asked how to preserve it. I think anything that the girlfriend gives will make him super happy. Moreover this is a bike, modeled very closely to his (can’t do the fine details though). Thankfully, there was also good feedback for the chocolate cake. I’m happy!

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First attempt to homeschool Faith

Recently, I posted some pictures about planning activities to homeschool Faith and received requests from mommies who asked if their kids could join. Fact is, my friends and I were just starting out and we want to see if the kids benefit from the session. We are not preschool educators, just your regular mothers. One had worked in a childcare centre before while the other had gone through some online Montessori courses. Me? I was just an elementary school teacher. Nevertheless, we just came together, pooled our resources and experience and started a session for the kiddos.

We started off with Circle Time with C going through BLUE items since the theme is on the colour. Each child took turns to touch the item as C explained them to the kids. But I must say, the kids could not really sit still except for F.C.! Well done, little girl.

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The next time when the little ones could talk, I would use the Circle Time to talk about the day, weather and probably ask them to share about stuff related to a theme. I learnt this while I was doing my work attachment at Park Street School a few years back.

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After the Circle Time, I read a book on Shapes to them with a follow-up activity of getting themto recognise the shapes of items that I had prepared for them and then pasting them onto the paper (with shapes drawn). The peeling of the double-sided tape requires them to use their fine motor skills. Faith, being the youngest of them all, could not really manage this task well but got all excited when she saw the biscuit in its rectangular packaging. SIGH!

So, we changed the plan since we realised that the kids needed time out and decided it’s time for refreshment! Sab prepared fruits and we got them to sit down and feed themselves. What an adorable sight!

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We had physical activity next. Kids at this age really need to move. Okay, I know it was right after a snack but our activity wasn’t really vigorous. It’s just playing with balloons and fruits & balls relay (getting them to pass some balls and toy fruits from one container to another), an idea I got from Gymnademics. I must say the kids love to move, move and move!

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Counting the number of balls they could transfer. Faith, having had practice at Gymnademics scored in this segment.

The last part of this ‘programme’ is some stations on practical life which C learnt from her online course. Kids should learn simple real life tasks even from a young age. So we had scooping of woollen balls from one container to another, choosing and closing of container using the right caps and stacking of cups.

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In 2 hours’ time, the kids, as well as the mothers, were famished and it’s meal time again. We served bread for them and they gobbled them up.

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My dear girl didn’t have enough and ‘stole’ from her friend. SIGH!

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So, there you go. Our first attempt in getting them to learn as a small group. I’m sure there are many experienced parents who are also homeschooling their kids. Do share your ideas!

Foodie Friday | Teriyaki Chicken Don

I cook often and sometimes in a bid to get the meals out quickly, I stick to the ones that I often cook. It gets boring after a while and I think it’s time to inject some life into my cooking.

9789814398510Recently, I’m into Donburi, a rice meal topped with any ingredient. Still sounds dull right? Thankfully, I received some inspiration from a cooking book by Aki Watanabe called Donburi which includes a lot of delicious-looking rice meals waiting for me to try. I whipped up a few and love the end result so I thought I should share one of the recipes found in the book, a widely popular meal – Teriyaki Chicken Don. I’m sure many have tried cooking this but I absolutely adore the homemade teriyaki sauce listed in the book, so I thought I should share. I hope she doesn’t mind. This is an adapted version. I have omitted the salt and pepper since I am offering to the little one and soy sauce is tasteful enough for her!

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What you would need (yields 2): 
Boneless chicken leg 300g (I got mine from the market, deboned)
Canola oil for pan-frying
Steamed rice
Nori & wasabi sprouts for ganishing
Mixed chilli powder for seasoning

Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 40ml
Caster sugar 15g
Sake 10ml
Mirin 4 tbsp

1. Heat all ingredients for teriyaki sauce in a pan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Set aside.

2. Remove yellow fat from chicken meat.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Pan-fry chicken over medium heat until both sides have browned.

4. Cover with a lid and cook chicken over low heat. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

5. Clean the pan with kitchen towels and pour in teriyaki sauce. Place chicken in the sauce and heat until the meat is glazed and the sauce thickens.

6. Slice chicken into strips and place on rice. Pour the sauce over.

7. Garnish with wasabi sprouts and nori or toasted sesame seeds.

8. Serve with mixed chilli powder.

Using the recipes found in the book, I’ve also cooked the Tofu and Mushroom Don, adjusting the flavour of the seasoning to suit my daughter. And she loved it!

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This is another meal that is inspired by one of the recipes. Not a don but ramen.

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The book has inspired me to cook better rice meals. Perhaps you can take a look for yourself? ;)

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WW | My companion in the kitchen

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and naturally Faith will follow me. She will open the drawers and pull all the stuff out. I’m fine with it, really. Recently, I realised that my washed vegetables can actually entertain her for quite some time. She will tear the leaves (fine motor skills) , taste it and then try to feed me (pretend play). Thankfully, she will still eat the vegetables after I have cooked them.

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The kitchen, t’s really a fun place!

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Animals on my cake

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A friend asked me to bake a cake for her son, Matthias’ 5th birthday. Since he likes zoo animals, she requested for the rainbow cake to be decorated around that theme. No specific design given. That’s it.

I was excited and a book that Faith always reads came to mind. I wanted to create a few 20140310-141340.jpgfigurine made of fondant + tylose powder. There are also a lot of resources to tap on in the Internet. But I also respect the works of the cake decorator and thus hope to come up with my own version. That being said, I find it difficult to really come up with a personal design since you can only alter the body and face in just a few ways (That’s the amateur me talking). I could only spare a few hours each day to do the figurines and so, it’s one animal each night after Faith went to bed. The lion was the first to be completed, followed by the zebra, giraffe and the monkey. By the time I did the last animal, I was already losing steam. Hah!

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I guess you would understand if I disclose that this 10″ round rainbow cake took a whole week to complete. ;)

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The day before the delivery, the cake was baked. It’s a nice feeling seeing the layers of colours on top of one another. I wanted the design to be simple, not too complicated, and decided that swiss meringue buttercream without any added colour would suffice.

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So, there you have it. When I passed the box of cake to my friend, I was filled with relief and a sense of accomplishment. Hah. Hope the boy likes the cake.

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Have a blessed birthday, Matthias!

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In the mood for…

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Once in a while, I get the desire to want to whip up a good meal for the family. Today is one of 20140309-220439.jpgthose days.

For a while, I had wanted to do some sliders using charcoal buns after seeing pictures of those burgers from a certain restaurant ( I can’t remember which one now!). It is not difficult if you know how to bake bread. It just takes time. Since I still have some water roux/ Tang zhong in the refrigerator, I thought I should just bake a batch of buns lest it goes to waste. And instead of baking only one type of flavour, I decided to bake different types using charcoal powder, matcha powder and cocoa powder with cranberries and mixed fruits.

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Using estimation, I divided up the dough into various portions and added about 1/2 tbsp each of the powder to the individual portion and continued kneading until the powder is more or less blended with the dough before giving them time for the first rise. After about 40 minutes, the air was punched out and I divided the dough into rounds of about 50g – 60g each, depending on the combination that I want.

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So, once again, the kitchen is well-stocked with good old bread. Once that is done, I decided to cook honey-baked mustard chicken thighs again. It’s an easy dish (anything roasted is good!) and yummy too. While the chicken was being baked, I parboiled the asparagus and spinach, sauteed some shittake mushrooms and added in cream and wine. Heavenly.

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The sauce from the roasted chicken cannot be wasted. It can be drizzled on the salad which adds a nice flavour to the meal. Oh, for the sliders, I just cut up the meat from the chicken thighs into smaller pieces and add the mushrooms, spinach and a cube of cheese.

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This is really a dish that can be prepared in a short while once you have the buns ready. Da man was happy, little Faith kept eating and I was satisfied.

Honey baked chicken thigh – Marinate with honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil. Bake at 180C for about 40 minutes or until done.

A day with Faith

It’s mid week! How are you doing? I thought I should just write about today because I spent the day with Faith and I enjoyed it.

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As Faith grows, days as a SAHM become interesting and ultra-busy. Gone were the days when I found myself giving endlessly and the moments, dull and monotonous. Now, the act was reciprocated with cheeky smiles and obedience. I know my love for her shouldn’t be conditional but I’m just human and need some form of affirmation that my service isn’t in vain.

We got up early and went to Church to register for a place in Pre-Nursery class. I’m not optimistic that she gets a place since she would be on the waiting list (#yearendbabieslugi). We are not too anxious for her to start school that young anyway. The only reason why we want her to be schooled is because we want her to socialise with other children. Other times, I’m happy to just teach her some stuff but at the moment, it’s just skills and manners that I want to impart to her.

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We set off to do some grocery shopping and she came back home hungry. Thankfully, I bought her favourite Char Siew Pau and she devoured it. I’ve got things to do in the kitchen and obviously she spent most of the time with me as well. Apart from whining for attention, she also… learnt some skills. Faith could understand instructions now and I find it so fun to get her to help me which she gladly obliged. Stay this way, Faith!

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There are really a lot of things to play with in the kitchen and I’m not referring to toys. Once I open the fridge door, Faith would run to get a bottle of orange juice and put it back upon my (repeated) command request. She loves to help me throw things in the rubbish bin and at times, her own toys. Argh! I bake rather often and she likes to be a part of it, of course, messing things up in the process. Well, for today, she learnt that clingwrap can actually stick to the oven door! And yes, Faith likes to explore every nook and corner of the house and thwarts my plan of killing the ants (#i cantsettraps)

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Faith complains if I spend too much time in the kitchen and that signals to me that I have to either play or read a book with her. She’s easily satisfied and then I’m back to the kitchen again. Today, I baked these Teddy Bears Buns.

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One thing that I really hope Faith could do is to nap MORE and longer. Her energy is limitless and she gets up in less than an hour. Arghh! I can’t do much again. So in order to expend her energy, I have to bring her to the playground.

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Since she is awake most of the time, quick-fix meals are the best and I managed to do something decent for dinner. Da man had a long day today and I hope that this meal would perk him up! Learnt a new recipe from a friend and I just need to marinate the chicken thighs with honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil before baking them in the oven at 200C until they are done. I’m into donburi at the moment so that explains the picture.

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Such is one of those days that I’m thankful that da man wanted me to be a SAHM. It’s not always this blissful, just to be honest. There are many moments of frustration but for now, I just want to savour this sweet moment.

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Hope your Wednesday’s been good.

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A second child. Yes? No?

A few posts ago, I asked the question, “What’s next?” and more specifically the dilemma of having a second child. I got a few good responses after asking a group of mummies from the SMB group.

~ I wasn’t planning on having more than one after my girl was born as she was so difficult to care for. But I was blessed with #2 and it’s really so wonderful having more kids! So much so we do not rule out having #3 (Simplymommie)

~ We love children…we see a difference in her behaviour when #2 came along. Sensible, sharing, responsible and having fun with a sibling to hang out with. ME time will be compromised but you will get by.  (Joey W)

~ We always wanted a big family. So we always hoped for more than one. With two or more like you said they have a companion, and they learn to give and take. It’s of course harder taking care of more than one but seeing them grow together is really wonderful. (Mum in the making)

~ Having more than 1 is much harder work, but I think a sibling is one of the best gifts we can give to them. If you’re open to it, maybe leave it up to God, then you don’t have to decide? (Mummy Ed)

~ We love children, always wanted more. Never thought of whether to have #2 or not, it is a must have for us :)) It is very good for the kid to have someone at their age to play with, just different from playing with parents or friends. (The Kam Family)

~ Hubby likes kids so he wanted one more. Also didn’t want my daughter to be a spoiled and lonely singleton. One of my friends put it this way – when a singleton’s parents’ die, she or he will have no one to mourn with. ( wee stories)

~ Sometimes when I see my boy playing alone at home, I really want to give him a sibling. While growing up with my own brother was tough… I do enjoy having him around to talk to nowadays. So, I don’t want to deny my boy from having a sibling if i can. (meeningfully)

~ I came from a big family – 4 siblings in total. I’ve always wanted a big family too, but we’re only able to manage (financially, emotionally, physically) two. So in a way, we settled.
(Amazinglystill)

The above are some of the more common reasons why families go for more than a kid. Yesterday, I finally had the opportunity to bring this topic up with da man and while I stated that it would be good for Faith to have a sibling for companionship and that it would be good for her to learn how to care and share, his response seemed to make the most sense – we shouldn’t make decision that is centred around Faith. If we decide to have a second child, it should be because we want it and not for Faith’s sake.

His comments kind of sealed the decision for me. Currently, I’m more mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to have a second one. Pose me this question a few months back and I would firmly say ‘No thanks!’ to one more being to look after. The first year was ultra difficult for me and da man, I’m sure. It was a steep learning curve, no doubt. But once Faith grew out of the infant stage, things got better. I find myself laughing and enjoying this bundle of blessing more.

So are we going for a second one? I guess we will try but ultimately, it’s all up to the Almighty if He is going to bless us with one more.

Sometimes I wish…

We visited the Asian Civilisation Museum last Saturday, taking advantage of the free admission (to 7 museums) that citizens and PRs are entitled to. Usually, our weekends are confined to our home or visiting the in-laws since by the end of Friday, both da man and I are kind of exhausted. Boring peeps, I know, so I thought we should just go out for a change.

20140224-143247.jpgTo be honest, sometimes I wish we could have more time for family life. Working parents have little energy left at the end of the day and could only spend that little amount of time with the spouse or children, not to forget that they need some ME time to recharge. Personally, I felt it last week. Da man had been busy at work and we hardly had time to TALK. Weekends are really precious then.

Love the walk along the Singapore River. The weather has been great though I wish at times, that rain will come soon. It’s quite a funny sight to see Faith walking along the path.

20140224-143255.jpgFaith’s enthusiasm was short-lived for she felt asleep soon after. The cool and quiet environment must have been rather conducive!

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Mid-way through, we checked into Madame Patisserie for a coffee break. Faith was sleeping soundly in the pram and it could give both of us some couple, if not, ME time! I couldn’t say much about the service and the food but what we like is the rather quiet environment (yes, in the afternoon!) and beautiful riverside view.

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Faith woke up very soon and decided to wander off to explore Boat Quay! Next to the cafe is a seafood restaurant and they have really HUGE sea creatures! Amazing!

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It can be rather tiring watching out for her! The most endearing sight was seeing da man spend time with her. I wish there are more such opportunities!

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Where shall we go next weekend?

{FFWD} Butter and Rum Crepes

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So this is my first FFWD post for 2014. Apologies. I’ve been really busy with a string of random stuff that experimenting with French dishes has taken a back seat. This week is rather calm and as I looked at the dish for this week, I was excited. It could well be Faith’s breakfast minus the rum, that is and I set about preparing the batter yesterday. Crepe batter has to rest and chill in the refrigerator to become perfectly blended and to thicken. Two hours is the minimum; 12 hours or more is ideal.

To make the crepe batter,

Rub these ingredients until the sugar is moist and very fragrant.

Rub these ingredients until the sugar is moist and very fragrant.

I thought this can be used when decorating cakes! Idea!

I thought this can be used when decorating cakes! Idea!

Using the food processor and in my case, food chopper,

Add these and blend them well, making sure that the flour is blended but don't overmix the batter.

Add these and blend them well, making sure that the flour is blended but don’t overmix the batter.

Then you pour into a pitcher. For me, I divide the batter into two as I do want some (1 tsp) Grand Marnier in mine.

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Yum!

This morning, the batter was ready and to make the crepes, I rub my nonstick pan with lightly oiled crumpled paper towel and put it over medium heat. I poured about 5 tbsp of the batter each time.

The crepe is ready when the underside is specked with brown spots. Use your finger to flip!

The crepe is ready when the underside is specked with brown spots. Use your finger to flip!

The sauce to match this crepe uses 1/3 cup honey, 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 7 tbsp unsalted butter at cool room temperature. After heating the honey, I added the juices and then used a whisk to whisk in the butter, a tbsp at a time. The sauce should be smooth and slightly thickened however mine turned out rather runny. Could it be the type of honey used?

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The little girl was enthusiastic about her breakfast initially until she took a first bite and spit it out! I was so surprised! She didn’t take to the texture well. In the end, I added banana to the crepe. Oh well, perhaps she prefers the crispy version of the crepe. I’ll try it tomorrow!

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I enjoyed mine though, complete with Cafe Au Lait. Love the citrus in the sauce. It definitely helps to perk me up!

20140221-111101.jpgThe little girl soon forgot about the breakfast after a wonderful time at the playground.

This is a weekly attempt at French food via French Fridays with Dorie. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us?

Faith :: 15 months

Health-wise: You were taken ill after we visited your cousin at the hospital. I guess the virus was everywhere and your immune system wasn’t that strong. Thankfully, this time round, it was not a struggle to get you to consume the medicine.

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A lot of mozzie bites this month!

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Eating habits: You are quite an eater. And I have heard reports that you can eat non-stop and I must say I’m not fond of that idea! The positive side, of course, is that it is really easy to feed you and you finish your meal real fast. However, recently, you spit out your food and I wonder why. Some mummy friends told me that you are exploring the different tastes and textures offered to you and that you don’t really fancy certain stuff now (even though you used to love them). Oh well, the adventures of young {picky} eaters, indeed.

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Lover of animals: You seem to have a liking towards animals and dare to go up to them. Lovely!

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Social: I do think you like meeting people because when we bring you out, you wave to everyone whom you see. And I don’t think you have problem with playing with other kids. At most, you play on your own if your peers ignore you. But, the problem is you still want me to be around you otherwise you will cry out loud. I’m hoping that you can be more independent. Hmm..

Sleeping habits: You seriously don’t like to nap, do you? It really takes a toil on us to make you sleep. While you have no problem falling asleep in the carrier, it’s a chore to get you to fall asleep on your own cot during the day. Thankfully, it is easy to get you to sleep at night. And just when we thought you can sleep through the night, you prove us wrong when you wake up a few times nowadays. We attribute this to teething since your pre-molars are budding. But really, please don’t get up in the middle of the night to play with us? We need the sleep!

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Physical: You can get really active! Where do you get those energy from?? Now, you have started running instead of the usual walking. Climbing up and down is a common activity. I don’t really enjoy bringing you out for shopping now since you will take stuff off the shelves and place them on the floor and then I would have to put them back again. Very tiring!

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You can get rather cheeky at times and purposely want to test us in terms of the boundaries that we have set for you. Thankfully, you get the idea that we are really serious in what we say and No means NO. You get disciplined a lot this month. Does your palm hurt?

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But overall, you are still an obedient child and will do the things that you are asked to. You do understand the instructions though you don’t know how to articulate that. Nods and shaking of head is how you communicate to us now which can be really helpful albeit funny.

You will always be Mama's girl.

You will always be Mama’s girl.

WW | What’s next?

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I spent the morning packing the milk bottles, breast pump and some baby clothes. As I was doing so, two questions came to my mind:

1) Do I want a second child? If so, when should I start planning?

2) Do I place Faith in a preschool or homeschool her? If preschool is the way to go, then which one, knowing full well that there might not be any vacancies left since she is born in the popular year of the dragon (sigh!). If I am to homeschool her, what preparations do I have to make?

For #1, many (relatives) have asked me if I want a second one. I guess it’s about time to think about this since Faith is already more than a year old and we should be planning for it if we do not want the gap to be too big. I’ve asked a few friends who have more than one child and many cited the reason that the second one can be a company to the first. If not, she will be very lonely leh. I guess that’s true but are there any more compelling reasons?

Recently, I met an auntie and she commented that it’s such a waste that I quit my job to look after ONE kid. Go for a second one…it’s about time. Based on her theory, I should maximise my resignation to look after more kids so that it is more worthwhile. That sounds quite right in a way and her statement made me think about our car which we could still possess for another two years. Having a car during pregnancy and when the child is young can be really convenient. Should I maximise the use of it? Heh…

So, I guess it’s time to sit down and discuss with the husband. More importantly, we do need to pray and seek the Lord in this matter.

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What’s your reason for having a second child?

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Night scene in SG

I never knew the night scene in downtown Singapore is so alluring. Had the opportunity to have a most scrumptious Thai dinner and followed by a cruise along the Singapore River. Lovely. If you have the chance to visit this little red dot, do make it a point to go for this activity. S$20 for a 40-minute ride. Not a bad deal. ;)

Dinner at Tom Yum Kungfu. Delish! Think I'm gonna miss this group of wonderful and talented people once this week is over.

Dinner at Tom Yum Kungfu. Delish! Think I’m gonna miss this group of wonderful and talented people once this week is over.

The back alley of the shophouses

The back alley of the shophouses

Night scene. Can you see the flyer?

Night scene. Can you see the flyer?

Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers

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A caking week

So this past week, I have been getting up at half past 5 daily so that I could get ready to walk Faith to Dad’s place. You see, for these two weeks, I am learning from some awesome and talented people on constructing beautiful cakes. So, someone has to take care of Faith.

I miss Faith and my family, to be honest. Much as I am privileged to be able to learn wonderful cake decorating techniques, I find myself not able to fully devote my mind and heart during the session. I would think about Faith and wonder how she is doing. I guess the good Lord knows that I cannot do a good job if I were to be a working mum and thus made me choose the SAHM’s path.

And by the time I reach home each day, there is little time left to interact with the little one. Guilt overtakes. Sadness engulfs the soul.

One more week and I’m back to my full-time mommy duties.

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#CNY2014

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I’m not a great fan of Chinese New Year (CNY). As a child, perhaps, but when I grow older, a lot of stuff that we do don’t hold any meaning to me anymore. But for the sake of the little one…

20140202-161032.jpgCNY is a time of fasting feasting. It all begins on the eve with the reunion dinner and throughout the CNY period. At one point or another, you will do the “Lo Hei” and then you will fill your stomach with calories-laden goodies. We all know this truth but since this only happens once a year, many will just oblige and indulge.

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The reunion dinner is an important meal and we will make it a point to accommodate everyone’s schedule so that every member of the family will be able to make it. This is from my Peranakan in-laws. Scrumptious food, who can resist? My family, on the other hand, will always go for steamboat and mom will open a few cans of abalone. But really, I don’t understand the fascination about it.

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More eating ensues.

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The “Lo Hei” or Yu Sheng (raw fish salad) includes various types of shredded veggies, a red envelope which contains pepper, a green envelope that contains five-spice powder, raw salmon, oil, plum sauce and crackers. There is a meaning behind each item and I’m not a good person to approach if you want to know more. ;p Apparently, we will say some well-wishes as we pour out each of them and as we toss, we shout all the blessings!

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These are the very ‘rich’ new year goodies. They prosper the sellers during this period and of course, the consumers go home a tad poorer.

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CNY is not CNY if there isn’t any home visitation. So everyone should be equipped with two mandarin oranges and have some good verses in mind as you need them to greet the elders. In our household, training starts young. 14 MO Faith learnt to hold two mandarin oranges on the eve and then totally forgot this skill on the actual CNY. Sigh!

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The children get to meet their peers.

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Faith gets all the attention since she is rather young but at times, pets get all the lime light too.

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This is my family, marching to my grandma’s house. Yea, all of us, with kids in tow. What a sight.

Oh yes, during CNY, many take the opportunity to buy new clothes and wear them during this festive period. Folks (I mean women, mostly) will adorned themselves with bling bling. The hubs and I didn’t bother. We just didn’t have the time to buy clothes. For me, I’m just glad to be able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Hurray! Faith got herself one new set of clothes though but I think she is much contented with pass-me-downs. Anyway, what does she know, eh?

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CNY is not CNY without red packets. The elders will bless the younger ones with these ‘hongbaos’ that contain $$$. The amount depends on how generous the giver is. Heh…

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To be totally honest, I see little meaning in visiting many homes. I would rather family members gather at one place and BOND. No rush, just chill and have a game of Mahjong!

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Kids can get bored with such visitation. So, bringing them to the playground perks them up!

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It takes a toil on everyone during these few days of visiting. The little one, with her naps all messed up, just K.O. and didn’t wake up even with loud noises. Time to put the structure back again.

20140202-161531.jpgOh yes, during CNY, most families will stock up on food because many foodstalls will not be open during the first few days of CNY. Here we are, stocking up on the third day.

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I’m actually glad that this busy period is going to be over soon. May the year of the horse be good to all!

To the farm we go!

My brother and his family came back for the CNY period and we took the chance to plan some activities for the kiddos. Our first trip? To the farm!

After listing some choices, we decided to go to Farmart which is located at Sungei Tengah Road. But before that, it’s breakfast at Riders Cafe since the kids could have a view of the horses and perhaps we could educate them on this animal. We tried…

Faith and Lester

Faith and Lester

BIL trying to read to them...farm animals!

BIL trying to read to them…farm animals!

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Cousins unite!

Cousins unite!

We were all excited for this farm trip but were disappointed that many of the shops were not open. Nonetheless, we made do with what was available.

Thankfully, the animal corner was open and the kids could get up close to goats, bull frogs, tortoises, rabbits and fishes. Oh yes, pay a small fee and you could feed them!

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Faith and her moo moo!

Faith and her moo moo!

The animal corner was rather small and we proceeded to a shop which sells live seafood such as fish, lobsters, frogs, etc. My nephews were excited and Dallen taught Faith a few of these animals. Educational indeed!

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Ah! Lobsters!

The children got bored after a while since there was nothing much to explore after that. Thankfully, there were a few toy machines at the dining area.

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Taking a good group photo of the kids can be very exhausting!

Taking a good group photo of the kids can be very exhausting!

Our next stop is Qian Hu Fish Farm which is just a short distance away. The kids were really mesmerised by the different variety of fish and were amazed. We spent quite some time at this place, not forgetting the fact that the adults treated themselves to a 30-min fish spa at $10/pax.

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It was my first time treating the fish to some bites and it was so ticklish. We had a laughing good time there!

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We had wanted to complete this farm trip with a late lunch at Bollywood. Alas, it was closed. Bummer! If you intend to do this type of trip, do visit Bollywood! The food is rather delish.

=)

Pumpkin-Chia Seeds Cheesecake

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In a bid to increase Faith’s menu, I made a cheesecake for her. I reckon if it is purely just cheesecake, it will be too much of those cheese for her. Thankfully, Keiko Ishida’s Okashi provides a recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake and I suspect Faith might like since pumpkin is her favourite vegetable. To make it more nutritious, I added a tablespoon of the superfood Chia Seeds.

What you need:
Walnuts 30g, toasted
Digestive biscuits 70g
Unsalted butter, 40g melted
Japanese pumpkin, 250g, skinned and seeded
Brown sugar 90g
Cream cheese 220g
Ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract 1/2 tsp
Chia seeds 1 tbsp
Whipping cream 50g
Eggs 2
Egg yolk 1

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I used a 7 inch round cake pan with a removable base.

Toast walnuts for 20 minutes at 150C without preheating. Set aside.

Increase oven heat to 170C. Lightly grease cake pan with a little softened butter.

Place digestive biscuits and toasted walnuts in a food processor and lightly pulse into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix well. Transfer crumbs to the cake pan and spread evenly. Press down well and chill in the freezer to set.

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Steam pumpkin for about 15 minutes or until softened. Place cooked pumpkin and brown sugar into a food processor and blend well. Add cream cheese, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, whipping cream, chia seeds and blend. Add eggs and egg yolk and mix lightly. Do not over-mix.

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Pour cream cheese mixture over set biscuit base and bake for 50 minutes or until the surface is light brown and centre of cheesecake feels springy to the touch. I prefer to use the latter method instead of just referring to the time (I took more than 50 min).

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Gently run a knife along the edge of cheesecake and leave to cool on a wire rack. Cover with cling film and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

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On the day of serving, unmould cheesecake and slice into even pieces using a warmed knife to have those beautiful cut edges.

Have a go at it!

A princess cake for a sweet girl

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This is the last cake for January. And after this, I shall be baking for my family.

20140127-062724.jpgA two-tier cake of chocolate batter was asked for but in the end, because I wanted to construct an ombre cake for the little cake, decided to tweak it a bit. The lower 7-inch tier was made of Devil’s food cake and the top 6-inch tier, an ombre cake.

Nowadays, I prefer to make the cake on the day itself if the collection is in the evening. So this cake was baked in the morning before our family went out for some activities and when we came back, it’s time to assemble the cake.

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Didn’t really take a lot of pictures since no time could be wasted!

But I did have fun with this cake and that’s important to me!

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Only the toppers were made a few days before since I need them to be dried before assembling them. For the flowers, having the plungers help a lot and I love the sprinklers which I attached to the flowers. Otherwise piping a small dot using royal icing will do the job.

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