Recent bakes

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Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking two cakes for a friend whose son turns two. Edible images are called for and buttercream is preferred. I enjoyed making the cakes because they are definitely not as demanding as the fondant ones and I can practise my piping skills!

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Then I had leftover chocolate ganache from recent bakes and decided to use them for chocolate tartlets. I always have pate sucree shells in the freezer and they come to good use this time round. Awesome tartlets I tell you because it’s good chocolate we are using here!

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I can’t help but post Faith’s picture here. The mama finds her real cute here!

Seminar: Discovering The Joy Of Teaching Your Baby

Increasingly, I’ve found early childhood to be an area that interests me greatly, obviously because I’m a parent to a young kid and also because research has shown that the first five years of life is when the most significant growth and development occur in a human (I’ll write more about this soon). Therefore, as a concerned parent, I would want to ensure that I have the necessary knowledge and skills in raising that little person. I’m sure you, as a parent, could identify with me. ;)

During these (almost) two years, I have attended seminars and read up on the different early childhood approaches namely Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia since I have the intention of homeschooling Faith for the first few years (or until my patience and stamina run out). And I’m pleased to share with you that there is a seminar – Discovering the joy of teaching your baby – coming our way.

To be honest, I have not heard of the speaker (pardon my ignorance) nor the book that she co-authored. But I’m interested to find out what she would be sharing on the reading programme and teaching the baby music and foreign language, amongst other topics.

If you are interested, why not sign up for the seminar? The details can be found below.

HTM Seminar Aug 2 by Janet Doman FINAL

(Handmade) Toy of the moment

A month or two ago, Faith loved to play with the homemade toys – pom pom stuff it in and pipe cleaner. She could spend minutes into it and each time I brought them out, she would not get sick of them. Now, she has moved on.

At 20 months old, she is ready to improve on her fine motor skills and currently, this toy enables her to practise her pincers grip, hand-eye coordination and definitely train her to be more focused.

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Similar in concept to the button snake, Faith has to ensure that the string goes through the holes in the blocks. Easy for us but challenging for them and it does require the child to concentrate on the task. Somehow I feel these blocks are easier for Faith to handle than the felt material used for the button snake. (The blocks can be bought from Toys ‘R’ us by the way, according to my friend). I love the bright colours on both and you can definitely teach shapes and colours with these toys.

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Wonder how long Faith will be interested in these toys before she moves on to the next.

* If you have read our weekly playdate activities, the wooden blocks and string is included in one of the Practical Life activities.

The weekly playdate 170714

Our weekly co-op/playdate brought us to C’s place. Her place is so cozy and she has this painted black wall where the kids could draw using chalk. So cool!

Our first activity was at the sensory bin where the kids got to play with the salt, blocks, plastic cups and toy animals. It was brilliant because all we need to do to clean up was to wash it with water. I say it’s a better choice as compared to sand! Some of the kids needed encouragement to play with salt. Our dear Faith only played with the toy animals. Think she is into animals now.

We have very engrossed kids!

We have very engrossed kids!

We went on to start the programme with a welcome song and circle time in which we revised the colour and shape taught the previous week and introduced a new colour and shape for this week. Following that was Storytelling and then craftwork!

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The tired Faith clung on to me! Arghh!

We decided that we should continue with paint even though it may not be the kids’ favourite. Coincidentally, the kids who do not really enjoy this segment are the ones with no siblings (yet). Little exposure, I guess?

Using shapes to create some artwork.

Using shapes to create some artwork.

Our star student!

Our star student!

Teatime!

Teatime!

We had our practical life as usual before we moved on to big muscle movement time and the kids got to do ‘shuttle run’ to retrieve round shapes from the bin. I love wide corridors like this. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Run, children, run!

Run, children, run!

We taught the kids some songs before the end of the playdate and then it’s on to lunch for all of us! What a lovely morning spent with the mums and kids.

All except one who's with the mom to fetch the older brother from school.

All except one who’s with the mom to fetch the older brother from school.

:)

Vaby Official Launch + Giveaway

Vaby held her official launch on 28 June 2014 at The Playhouse and our family was cordially invited to the event. Were you there?

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In case you are wondering what Vaby is all about, I wrote about it in a previous post and during the launch, we were all gifted the July Vaby box. I met some of the mummies there and we got excited over it. Pity that it isn’t THE turquoise box. ;p

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 Even my little girl was curious about the box and its content.

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During the two-hour launch, we were treated to filling buffet spread, Cutest Baby Contest and Lucky draw. The kids entertained themselves at the indoor and outdoor playgrounds and what fun they had!

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Faith was intrigued by the colourful balloons on the stage and also participated in the cutest baby contest.

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While waiting for her turn to appear on stage, she busied herself in the indoor playground. Good life, eh?

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So Faith didn’t win the contest as there were cuter babies around. ;) But in her mother’s eyes, she’s the best. Hah!

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Faith did win something though. She won a set of Goo.n from the lucky draw and we had cloudasprint print our instagram pictures on the spot. For me, I’m glad to be able to meet up with fellow mummy bloggers and their kids.

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So, you may ask, “What’s in the July box?”

20140628_150623The July box contains the following goodies:

- Natually Kinder wet tissue
- Alphabet magnet (good for showing the little one!)
- Chu-Chu nursing pads
- Pure by Phytocare Papaya Ointment
- Nurturmeals by Nurturme
- The Playhouse voucher ($5)
- Hiruscar (Helps scar appear softer and smoother)
- Ban Kah Chai Zhui Feng Su Ho Oil (Eliminates pathogenic wind after childbirth and relieving of pain)
- GOO.N Japan version tape diaper
- Adoring Beauty Makeup Grooming Workshop voucher
- Cloudsprint promotion code

The Vaby Box is a monthly subscription box (S$18.90 per month) with samples from well-known and unique brands, and it is delivered right to your door step. I personally think that the July box is especially suitable for pregnant ladies and new mummies.

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Vaby has kindly offered to sponsor Vaby boxes to five lucky readers! All you need to do is to leave a comment on this blog with your name, your child’s age and your email address. Yea, it’s that simple. ;)

The giveaway is open to Singapore residents only and will be closed on 24 July 2014. Five winners will be randomly drawn. The winners will be notified via email.

Do visit the Vaby’s facebook for more information.

Disclaimer: We were invited to Vaby’s official launch event, and received a Vaby Box and transport allowance. All opinions are mine.

WW: Enjoyable class

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Conducted this class for the first time today and thankfully I had very eager and teachable participants who made my day. They were so attentive and followed the instructions well and I must say they sculpted very well and covered the cakes wonderfully neat for first-timers! I’m impressed!

I’m getting so encouraged by them. Well done!

 

The Animal Resort

The number of children for our weekly playdate has grown! Normally, it would be C and I bringing the kids out for some playground and waterplay fun but today, we had three more kids joining and that means more company for the little ones!

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We went to The Animal Resort as suggested by C. This place is more accessible by car and is located near Jalan Kayu. We were there at around 10am and there was a group of kindergarteners being briefed by the staff on the food that they could feed to the animals. Since we were there, we joined in to listen to the short ‘talk’. Here, she showed us a skinny pig and we could purchase some food to feed the animals – $2 for every 3 packs. Oh yes, before you enter the premise, do put on the mosquito patch or spray some mosquito repellent!

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The area is big by Singapore’s standard, I feel. There is a good selection of animals and the wonderful thing about this place is that some of the animals like the geese, hens and chicks are free to roam and the children can get up close and personal with them. Faith has been reading on animals and this trip is such a good opportunity to meet them in real life. Hah..

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The geese, peacocks, parrot, hens, roosters, Marabou stork, ducks….

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Noah and Faith fascinated by the guinea pigs and the skinny pig. ;)

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Faith and the real life bunny…

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The children love to gaze at the fish or is it just the water that attracts them? I can’t tell…

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Getting really close to the horse! The children got scared by this big animal.

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I’m not sure about the other kids but I think Faith enjoyed the animals a lot. She was intrigued by them and kept observing them. No prize for guessing what I will be doing with her at home after this trip. ;p

There is a small simple cafe if you need some refreshment. For us we went over to the nearby Greenwich mall for lunch. Parking space is available at The Animal Resort though it can be limited (at most 15 cars?). But I like it that we don’t have to pay entrance fee for this. #funforfreesg

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The Animal Resort
T81 Seletar West Farmway 5, Singapore 798061
Opens 10am to 6pm

A cake for Mr Wood

Relatives from my hubs’ side came back to visit and I was tasked to bake a cake to surprise Mr Wood, an ardent fan of The Harlequins. Of course, I know nothing about this football club until the hubs told me and I had to do some reading up on it and browsing of pictures before I decided on the figurine that I would be making. Initially, a cake in the shape of a football was called for but I don’t have the pan and I’m not ready to sculpt a cake and decided to just settle for a figurine.

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It’s a rich devil’s food cake that I baked and I decided to pipe some ‘grass’ on it. It’s a simple cake but one which I like because of the figurine. It was made the night before though I wish I had more time. Had I more time, I would have made another player lying on the ground. But that week had been crazy with playdates, homeschool stuff, teaching assignment, a seminar to attend and a cake order in the weekend too. Not that I’m complaining. I actually enjoyed all the activities. Just that the spirit is willing but the body is weak and  I felt it protesting already.

Thankfully, the folks were easy to please and I think the cake satisfied.

I wonder how this week looks like.

Yuzu sponge cake

I fell in love with Yuzu after trying the Yuzu drink sold in the supermarket. I like that it is aromatic and refreshing without being overly citrus. And I thought I should infuse it into my cakes! I did just that for refreshment during the recent playdate that we had.

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I did some changes to a vanilla sponge cake recipe by using more cake flour instead of using all of plain flour. I also reduced the amount of sugar since my friends prefer less sweet stuff. Instead of vanilla extract, I used Yuzu concentrate which I purchased from Kitchen Capers.

So here goes:

Yuzu sponge cake

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line baking tin with baking paper. I baked a 6″ cake for this one and the height goes up to 4 inches. Very tall cake!

1. Sift the flour and baking powder.

2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins and gradually add the castor sugar. Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4. Add the Yuzu concentrate and beat until combined.

5. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour, beat until combined. Add half of the milk and beat. Repeat and then add the remaining flour and beat until combined.

6. Spoon mixture into baking tin. If you are doing rainbow or ombre cake, you would have to use your scale to divide out the batter equally and then add your desired food colouring. Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the portion you bake) or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Italian Meringue Buttercream
150g fine sugar
60g water
4 egg whites
220g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch bits
1 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Pour the sugar into the water in a saucepan and let boil to 120C. Do not stir the sugar when boiling. Go on to step 2.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until it reaches the sift peak stage (foamy stage).

3. When the temperature of the sugar syrup shows 115C, whisk the egg whites on high until stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 12oC, turn down the speed of the mixer to speed 1 and then pour the syrup into the meringue (beaten egg whites0 by the side. Do it carefully in a steady stream. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk the egg whites until the sides of the mixer bowl no longer feels hot. This will take quite some time.

4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the speed down to medium and add in the pieces of unsalted butter, one at a time. It will look like it has curdled but fear not, keep whisking and in the end, it should look like this.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate.

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Once you have the buttercream, the next step is to frost the cake. Enjoy the process!

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Verdict: So my friends ate slices of it and one of them commented it’s still a tad sweet. The husband likes it and I think it’s just right too. Try it yourself and see if you like it less sweet by reducing the sugar to about 3/4 cup. If you really want a soft cake, you can just use cake flour. Experiment with the recipe. This is the fun thing about baking.

;)

Playdate @10 July

Our group playdate resumes! I don’t know if I’m using the right term. Playgroup? Co-op? Playdate? Oh, whatever. Until I find a proper term for such a day as this, it will be called playdate for now. ;)

Today, we had one more boy joining us and that makes four kids! Yahoo!

Our schedule goes like this:
-Welcome & circle time
- Big muscle movement
- Story time and craftwork
- Tea break
- Quiet time
- Sensory bin
- Action songs
- Practical life
- Closing time and goodbye song

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This is rather different from the previous sessions that we had and to be honest, it felt like we were rushing through. But fear not, the mummies came together and discussed what needs to be improved. I like it that I’m learning from the other ladies in the group. Lifelong learning, eh?

What I have learnt:
- The children can’t sit through the entire story-telling time. They were restless towards the end. Perhaps find one with a short story?IMG-20140710-WA0012
- Faith needs more exposure to craftwork. More art sessions!
- Faith doesn’t like to get her hands dirty (except when it comes to food). She doesn’t like the idea of touching the playdough during the ‘sensory bin’ section. Need to work on that.
- Faith seems to like threading and the blocks that C used for this station (2) is of the right size and material for her!

 

Practical LIfe materials

Practical LIfe materials

I didn’t have enough time to bake something for the kids and just cut mickey mouse shapes from slices of chocolate bread using a cutter. They have fruits, bananas and the colourful goldfish crackers for teatime. We had wanted to teach the kids to peel the bananas but the mummies got distracted by their own tea break and went off to rest. All except for Jenna. Hah!

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I baked a Yuzu sponge cake and carrot cake for the ladies. We had proper tea break today but oops, we lost track of time as a result. Hah! Teaching kids is a lot of hard work, I assure you, especially young kids. A salute to all preschool teachers!

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 The day was long and it was a tad more tiring than before. I’m sure the kids were too. But I’m just glad that we have this regular playdate/co-op going on.

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J getting encouragement from his mummy at the Big Muscle Movement segment.

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Faith and her new-found friend, J. They hit it off the moment that met. I’m so surprised! They even didn’t mind holding hands together! Whoah! But I have to say that J is really a very pleasant and happy boy. Faith has much to learn from this gor gor!

What will happen next week?
I got excited just by thinking of it! Lots to learn!

Bringing up Faith: The 2nd year

Raising children in a society like ours can be really stressful. I remember when Faith was in the womb, I was advised to register her in schools so that she could be on the waiting list. It’s the year of the dragon, mind you! Lots of babies! I soon forgot about this issue and did … nothing of that sort.

Now that she is at an age when she can be admitted into playgroups, the stress-level is on high again for me. Mothers whom I know, both acquaintances and friends, were placing their kids in schools and my FB page was filled with how happy or tearful the first day of school was. I look at Faith, “No playgroup for you okay?”

I’m penning my thoughts on this page because I need to remind myself of why we (both the hubs’ and I) decided against school for Faith at this current point in time. She’s still young. She’s supposed to play, to be curious about things around her and be given the time and opportunity to explore. And because I am a SAHM, I can do more with her both at home and in the outdoors.

At the Fisher-price workshops that I had attended, I was reminded of my own parenting goals (for these early years) – that Faith will grow up to be an independent child, know God and respect others. These are important to me. I’m not very concerned that she has to know her numerals or alphabets now. For goodness’ sake, she is barely two years old! These will come later, for sure, and I’m not really interested in flashing cards at her. I want her to be out in the open, to appreciate nature, to have a sense of wonder of the environment she is placed in and eventually know Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. I don’t like the idea of her being in school so soon, to be honest. Abhor the idea that she has to learn within the four walls. She has many years of that in time to come. For now, she is good learning at her own pace with me at home or during our regular playdates. More importantly, I want her to learn the values that our family believes in because once she is grounded in them, she can make sound decisions (hopefully) while she is growing up.

20140605_150001But I’m not always this resolute. During the June holidays, I signed up for a week of language enrichment for Faith. The one week of lessons centred around Dr Seuss’ stories and each lesson comprises storytelling, art and craft and singing. I had to attend each 2-hour lesson with Faith and I am thankful for that because I realised how Faith is not ready for such a structured lesson.

She listened to the stories all right but many times, she wanted to explore the new classroom she was in, to interact with her new friends. She got restless easily too but thankfully, the teacher understood that young kids have very short attention span and introduced many short physical activities in-between.

At the end of each lesson, I was tired. Tired from having to get her to sit down to listen and to perform the tasks that she was asked to. My throat ran dry from words of encouragement to her. In the end, I decided that such a class may not be suitable for her, for now.

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I have to be fair. She did enjoy her time playing with bubbles and surprised us with the word one fine day (we don’t use the word at all). Perhaps I have high expectations for the school and perhaps, this school does not have the right kind of curriculum for her. It’s after all, a one-size-fits-all programme for children ages 18 to 36 months. What do I expect?

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I have to remind myself to chill, that sometimes not doing much for her can be good. By that, I mean not crowding her daily life with activities. Boredom can be good for her because creativity can bloom in such situations. I also need to remind myself that it is not ‘how much more earlier’ that is the solution but it is ‘how different earlier’ that is the answer.

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I like what I’m doing with her now. We had moments when we learn at home but many times, we go out and have fun.We have our regular playdates and I remember vividly the enthusiasm that she displayed when we went on a excursion to the National Museum with her playmates, the sparkle in her eyes when she was playing with water at Jacob Ballas, the concentration she had when she was observing people in the park and the emotions she shared when she saw a crying child, just to name a few examples. Through all these, I got to understand Faith more and hopefully will realise what her talents are and help her thrive in them.

There are many moms who are homeschooling their kids and I particularly love those who advocate play as learning opportunities for young children. And the more I read about early childhood, the more excited I become.

These are three Internet resources that I like: 

1. http://lessonslearntjournal.com/

2. http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/

3. http://playfullearning.net/

And I love this excellent yet simple read about the Waldorf approach to early childhood education.

Here is an example of a day in the Waldorf kindergarten. For my  own reference in planning my own homeschooling activities for Faith.

The following are some notes that I have taken from the recent PlayIQ workshop organised by FisherPrice.
Some food-for-thought for me:

- “Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work.” ~ Fred Rogers

- “Children learn best when they have opportunities to have hands on experiences” ~Dr Jerlan Daniel

- Between the ages of 0 to 4, unstructured play is better than adult-led structured play. During the process, they would need to learn about boundaries and rules would need to be in place.

How toddlers play:

- Natural born explorers –> driven by intense curiosity
- Need safe, toddler proof environment
- Free time to investigate and experiment with toys and play items
- Get down on the floor!
- With others, solitary to parallel play
- Be enthusiastic and positive about your toddler’s curiosity and accomplishments (and minimise defeats)
- Play alongside you as you do chores –> provide life-like items for play
- Have conversations and encourage communication
- Learning through repetition (e.g. same story read over and over!)
- Read daily!

Foodie Friday: Chocolate Cookies

Got an idea to get Faith to be more involved in the kitchen by getting her to do some real work instead of rummaging through the drawers.

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Faith loves biscuits and she can just have them for her meals. Of course, the mother says NO to that idea but she can always have some as treats. I always have sheets of rolled sugar cookies in the freezer because you never know when you have guests or when your stomach calls for them! Besides, these sugar cookies can keep long in the freezer and yet can be ready to be munched in a short time.

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All you need are sheets of rolled sugar cookies dough, 2 round cutters of different sizes, a sheet pan and parchment paper/ silpat. After cutting the dough into circles, make a round mark using the smaller cutter.

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And then show the little one how to make holes using a sugarart tool. I thought this tool is just the right size for her. Note her concentration level and joy! Of course, you wont get nice buttons but it doesn’t matter!

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You can use toothpick too but it’s a tad too thin for Faith to use. Besides, you can’t make big holes with that.

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Faith gets to eat ONE cookie for her hard work!

There are so many recipes for sugar cookies on the Internet but this is the one I use.

230g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
50g dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
336g all-purpose flour
35g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together for 2 minutes. Stop, scrape and cream for another ½ – 1 minute.
4. Beat in the egg until well combined.
5. Add the sifted flour mixture to the creamed mixture 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition.
6. When the last cup of flour is added, mix by hand. The dough will be stiff by now.
7. Divide dough in 2 balls and wrap in cling film until ready to use. (This dough will last 2 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 2 months in the freezer)
8. Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 10 – 12 minutes (depending on thickness of dough) or until the edge starts to turn brown.

Playdate resumes!

Our playdate resumed yesterday as the school term starts. It was only C and I but it was still fun!

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Our theme for this whole term is on colours so we got the kids to do leaf printing using Crayola’s washable paint. But before that, we got the kids to pick the leaves themselves and put them into a bowl. The little children needed some coaxing and much guidance to just pick up the leaves!

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 We settled at a sheltered area and set up our stuff – picnic mat, crayola paints, paper plates and wet wipes!

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Obviously, the kids needed much help from us. Little Faith didn’t like the idea of mess and I had to coax her to get her hands dirty for this task. And then, I saw the great difference between Ray and Faith. The boy painted his legs and hands as well while Faith looked on with disgust. Hah!

This is the next thing she did. Went to get a piece of wet wipes and cleaned her hands. No help required!

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3rd pic: Guess which piece belongs to Faith and Ray respectively?

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After the art session and cleaning up, we went on to Practical Life where we got the kids to scoop some jelly-like balls called water beads into their bowls.

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Gotta get hold of more of these water beads! Good to teach about colours and texture and use them for other teaching purposes.

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Getting ready to move to another site for our tea-break!
Reminder to self: teach Faith to wear her own shoes.

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We love the view of the reservoir. So we had a mini picnic here but had to move on since it was getting real hot!
Reminder to self: bring a hat along!

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Our last stop is at the nearby playground where the children made noise with the branches and the metal parts of the playground and expressed their artistic ability by drawing pictures on the sand.

Looking forward to the next playdate!

Waterplay fun

So today marks the end of the June holidays for us in Singaland. How fast! I’m actually not affected by it since a) I’m no longer teaching; and b) Faith is not in school. But I will definitely miss those fun outing we had with my sister and her two (three) boys!

We went to Gardens by the Bay and Port of Lost Wonders during the third week of June and it was definitely a fun time for the kiddos.

The Far East Organisation Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay caters to kids from 1 to 12 years old  and the one-hectare garden consists of playtime elements that combine both nature and adventure. The kids can enjoy exploring a 7.5 metre-tall tree house (for older kids) to splashing around at interactive water tunnels.

Our family turned up early on a weekday and there weren’t a lot of people then. The kids started at the non-intimidating toddler play zone while the adults watched them from a distance at the sheltered amphitheatre.

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They soon got bored and moved over to the waterplay area that is suitable for children aged between 6 to 12 years old. The programmable water play is linked to sensors which detect the movement of children to create a corresponding sequence of water effects. I though Faith would be frightened of this area but she dared to explore and linger in that space for quite some time!

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My sis and I forgot to bring along a set of clothes for ourselves and couldn’t join in the fun with them. I think it would be rather interesting to play in this waterplay area with the kiddos!

The weather was super hot that day and we had to call it quits after about an hour and a half. There were shower facilities so there isn’t a great problem cleaning them up.

Far East Organisation Children’s Garden
Operates:  Tuesday to Sunday
9am – 9pm
Admission: Free

A few days later, we went to another waterplay area and this time round, it was Sentosa we went – Port of Lost Wonders! Since it opens at 10am, we had breakfast at the nearby Mac.

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Faith really does adore her cousins, especially Dayen, the younger one.

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We were the first in line and spent some time monkeying around.

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The children obviously enjoyed their time here and I must say I did too. Faith is a bit young and thus we had to supervise her when she ventured into the ship. I appreciate that there are crew members on the ship on the lookout for the safety of the kids. Good!

After 2 hours of playing in the water, we proceeded to lunch at the nearby beach. So tiring but it’s great fun, I must say.

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We will definitely be back again when my brother and his family come back in a month’s time! Can’t wait!

Port of Lost Wonders
10am to 6.30pm daily
Admission: $10 per child
Adults enter free!

Melbourne : Philip Island day tour

Friends whom I have asked to recommend places to visit in Melbourne will definitely point me to Philip Island to watch the Penguin Parade. We put it down on our to-visit list and book a day tour when we were in Melbourne. Yup, that’s how we travel – very last minute, I know.

We booked the tour via this tour operator and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a mini bus to ourselves with about 20 people on board. We were picked up from our hotel and they also sent us back to our accommodation. I like such a service!

We travelled through the Gippsland region directly to Phillip Island and made our first stop at the Rhyll Trout & Bush Tucker Farm where we had our lunch and enjoyed a guided bush tucker tour.

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Then we meet the koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre. There were not a lot of koalas though but we were still ecstatic when we spotted those few. One bad thing about joining a tour group is that one might not be able to spend sufficient time in one attraction spot since the itinerary can be tight. I would very much love to read more about this marsupial via the gallery but we had to move on!

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Can you spot the koala?

To the delightful Phillip Island Winery where Faith had an awesome time chasing the older kids (she invited herself to the group) and the adults had a few sips of the wine.

Lovely green!

Lovely green!

Waiting for the wine sipping session!

Waiting for the wine sipping session!

Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter

We also made a stop at Point Grant and The Nobbies where we enjoyed views over Westernport Bay and Bass Strait, including Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest population of fur seals. It’s very windy here so we were clad in our down jackets.

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Lastly, it’s to the main attraction where we got up close to enjoy the Penguin Parade. It’s an amazing feeling, I assure you! We paid a little more to be on the viewing gallery that brings us closer to the penguins but it’s worth it. They came ashore at around 5.45pm that day and the parade lasted for about an hour. Faith slept through the first part because she was too tired from the tour but when she woke up, she was jumping with pure joy! Bliss!

We can’t take pics of the penguins but these count too?

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It was a long day indeed and we basically K.O. once we reached our hotel. But we really enjoyed this day tour. We missed the chocolate factory though so if you are going to do this on your own, visit on our behalf?

;)

Thursday Travels is a weekly column featuring sights and experiences from my wanderlust adventures, including staycations. These sweet memories need to be stored sand shared. 

Wordless Wednesday: Macarons finally!

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Macarons are one of those items that I don’t really like to make because they are so finicky. Remember the times that I experimented with them in my Boston kitchen? Half of those that I had made failed. Thankfully, my friends still loved them and they were snapped up. Also remember that evening when Chef Delphin threw away the whole lot of macarons because they cracked?

Today, I experimented with another recipe because I’m supposed to teach it soon and I so love the recipe because it works!

*Fingers crossed* that everything will turn out well.

Linking up with

Thankful Tuesday: It’s more blessed to give than to receive

It first started out as teaching cake decorating to a teenager.

Turns out a whole group of girls with ages ranging from 9 years old to 15 years old were expecting to learn. Thankfully, I arrived at my friend’s place with sufficient fondant and equipment. It almost feels like conducting a holiday baking and cake decorating class for the kids. How exciting!

This is the group of sisters whom I grew up with in church and now I have the privilege of sharing some skills with them and their girls.

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Thank God for FY who opened her house who has air-conditioners installed in the living room! So perfect for a big group of cake decorators!

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After showing them the basics of using sugarpaste, they were eager to work on it themselves. Meanwhile, Pagon, who is an excellent baker got down to baking more cupcakes because the ones I brought were obviously not enough!

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Meanwhile, I stepped aside to watch the kids do the job while I resumed my mommy duties. The host also prepared lunch for us and the whole group of girls took a break before going back to decorating their cupcakes, this time round, using the buttercream that Pagon prepared.

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Pagon also showed us how to make marshmallow fondant. Rather easy to do!

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I had an awesome time teaching the kids who are so well-behaved! And definitely love spending some time with the very experienced mummies. How I missed them!

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I’m thankful for this opportunity to give because in the end, I realised I received more. Thank you, dear Lord!

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;)

Vaby the box and so much more!

Last Saturday, our family was invited to a pre-launch of a newly start-up company – Vaby. What’s that, you might ask. It stands for Victory Baby and it provides a one-stop solution for all baby products and services as well as a new discovery online shopping destination for mothers. As new mothers, it can be really confusing and daunting to be bombarded by the many products that are available in the market. Vaby understands that and aims to make life easier by offering the best selection of products, speedy delivery and enjoyable and easy-to-navigate shopping experience for their customers (us parents).

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The pre-launch was held at The Playhouse (awesome place, I tell you!) and we were introduced to the Vaby Box which features relevant sample-sized items and discount vouchers for parents to try out. This is an interesting concept and a helpful one too in the sense that parents can try out the product samples before making the decision to say, buy the full bottle of shampoo for the kid if they like it. Less wastage as a result, no?  This box can pass as a great gift too and is available through subscription but currently Vaby only has the mummy / pregnant mummy and baby sample box at $18.90 per month. In time to come, there will be three different boxes, specifically for mummies, babies and toddlers.

I forgot to take a picture of the contents because the little girl was too excited to play at the outdoor and indoor playgrounds and the adults were busy trying to know more about Vaby. ;)

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And not forgetting the scrumptious brunch, courtesy of the Vaby team!

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We received a Vaby box with a Korean-style’s dress for Faith! How thoughtful of them! I’m sure the little girl would love the soft material of the dress!

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Vaby is going to have an official launch on 28 June 2014 and you can be part of the party!

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All you need to do is sign up as Vaby’s member to enjoy special discounts on the products and services (don’t worry, the sign-up is free). Members will then be invited to attend the official launch at The Playhouse (7 Rochester Park) happening from 2-4pm. Members who “like” their Facebook page and attend the official launch will bring home the Vaby Box (one box for each member)!

Do hurry as there is a limit to the number of members to be invited.

Check out their website and Facebook page!

There will be a give-away after the official launch, so stay tune!

Disclaimer: Our family was invited to Vaby’s pre-launch event, and we appreciated the brunch, dress and transport allowance that were provided by the Vaby team. All opinions are mine. 

Melbourne : Collingwood Children’s Farm

One of the goals for our recent Melbourne trip is to visit farms. There are a few that we have shortlisted – Bundoora, Collingwood and Laurimar Glen farmstay. In the end, we settled for Collingwood Children’s Farm and we are glad that we did so!

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Collingwood Children’s Farm is an attraction spot that one has to visit if you are travelling with kids. It’s a taste of the country in the city and is accessible via the train (the farm is only 4km away from the city!)

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After alighting from the Collingwood station, the hubs used the GPS which led us to the farm after about a 20 minutes’ walk along the trail of the Yarra River. The farm is nestled in a bend of the the river, amongst the river red gum and paperbark trees and it was really delightful to be greeted by cyclists, runners and sheep (!) as we made our way to the farm.

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By the time we reached our destination,  our stomachs called out for food. Thankfully, there’s the Farm Cafe which serves really decent and healthy food. I had Green Eggs which is made of Broccoli and almond pesto, spinach, quinoa, herbs, poached eggs, parsley aioli and crispy
fried onions. The hubs had the Farmer’s Breakfast which is a sizable portion and no doubt delicious. We ordered the babyccino (made up of froth with chocolate powder on top) for Faith but she obviously didn’t want to even taste it! Grrrr!

Love these dishes and this experience has inspired me to make hearty breakfast when I get back home!

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It’s crowded that day and we had to wait for about 20 minutes for our meals and caffeine fix. Since we were not in any rush, it’s a great time to chill and people-watch and have fun with the kiddo! The farm seems like a hit with families with young children and the place is stroller-friendly too!

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You can get up close and personal with the typical farmyard animals and there are pony rides, tractor rides and cuddling of the guinea pigs, just to name a few activities. Every second Saturday of the month, the farm organises a farmer’s market selling fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, free range meat, ice-cream, honey, just to name a few. Aren’t you excited already? We didn’t get to enjoy it since we went on the first Saturday. ;(

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We spent some awesome few hours on the farm and the little one was intrigued by the farm animals.

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Near to the farm is The Abbotsford Convent where you will find more choices for food and drinks. There is also a garden nearby if you intend to have a picnic.

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And guess what we did when we returned to the hotel at the end of the day? Debrief Faith on the animals that she had seen on the farm! This is an educational trip no less! Hah!

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;)

Melbourne: Things to do (for family)

Hi there! Our family just came back from cool Melbourne and I thought it would be useful to pen down some of the places we went and those that were recommended by friends who have been there.

It was the beginning of Winter in Melbourne (June) and we packed in warm clothing like down jackets (for Philip island), boots, and lots of heat tech tops from Uniqlo since we are often advised to layer and I don’t want myself to look like a penguin after all those layers. My Ugg boots still survived after these few years of being kept in the storeroom since we came back from Boston. Talk about quality! I regretted not bringing the stroller; this place is stroller-friendly! Nonetheless, we had an awesome time in Melbourne!

In planning the places to visit, we take into account the distance and whether our little bug would enjoy. We couldn’t cover as many places as I would love to but oh well…

1. Queen Victoria Market

How could you not visit this lovely market when you are in Melbourne? This is in fact our first stop upon arriving in Melbourne. After dropping our luggage at the hotel (too early to check in anyway), we walked to the market to have a cup of latte and a bratwurst from The Bratwurst Shop as recommended by friends. Yummy, I say! And I’m so jealous that the locals could enjoy such fresh produce! Just looking at the colouful fruits and veggies makes me happy! >> Spend a whole morning touring this large market and enjoy the many foods available! Note the opening hours.

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2. Visit a farm!

We visited the Collingwood Children’s Farm which is located within the city. Part of my goal for this trip is to get Faith to be close to the nature and the farmyard animals since she has often been reading about them at home. This one is great fun! Do take a break at the farm cafe as it provides healthy delicious food! Spend half a day here.

img14022804086573. Philip island

You have to take a day trip out to Philip island because it is really worth visiting the penguins! The hubs and I booked a last minute day tour from this tour operator and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We travelled through the Gippsland region directly to Phillip Island and made our first stop at the Rhyll Trout & Bush Tucker Farm where we enjoyed a guided bush tucker tour and had our lunch. Then we meet the koalas at the Koala Conservation Centre before we proceeded to the delightful Phillip Island Winery. We also made a stop at Point Grant and The Nobbies where we enjoyed views over Westernport Bay and Bass Strait, including Seal Rocks, home to Australia’s largest population of fur seals. Lastly, it’s to the main attraction where we got up close to enjoy the Penguin Parade. It’s an amazing feeling, I assure you!

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4. Melbourne museum

This museum has stuff to cater to all age groups. We spent almost the whole day there, slowly savouring every bit of information that is on display. There is a children’s gallery for young kids and our little girl was just so entertained by every station. We had to drag her out of the gallery just so that we could continue with the rest of the exhibits. It’s truly a world-class museum, IMOH.

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5. Great Ocean Road

One has to visit the Great Ocean Road when in Melbourne, no? We took a one day tour for this but was told it would be easier and more relaxing if we could spend a night at one of the towns. Take it easy and enjoy the magnificent sight. It was a tad too packed an itinerary for us and we found ourselves fighting fatigue and couldn’t really enjoy the grandeur of the rock formation along the coastline.

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6. Royal Botanic Gardens

We love to get close to the nature and we have heard that this large garden is very well-kept. Even if we are not serious botanists, we found ourselves enjoying the slow walk among the fauna flora. A plus point is that there is a children’s garden too. Continue the walk through Alexandra Gardens and Queen Victoria Gardens and you will reach Federation Square in the end.

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7. City tour via the free city circle tram (route 35)

Melbourne is known for the maze of laneways that wind through the city. Start the day with a coffee at one of the many cafes hidden in Degraves Street and Flinders Lane. (Here is a list of lingo for ordering your favourite caffeine fix). Head to Bourke Street and Collins Street for the shopping and if you miss some Chinese food, there’s always the Chinatown! The Eureka Skydeck 88 is recommended if you want to overlook the entire city. We never made it there though. ;(

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8. St Kilda Beach 

I know it’s winter and it’s probably not the best time for a walk along the beach. But since we put up at a place near the area, we thought we should just head to the beach. I think it would be a worthwhile visit in summer.

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The days are short in winter with the sun setting around 5.30pm. We couldn’t do much then except to visit some of our friends. There are so many attractions that we have missed out like the Melbourne zoo and aquarium, Fitzroy, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula which are recommended by friends. Of course, there are tons of other things to do in Melbourne but we just didn’t have enough time. We did have a very relaxing time and we are just contented that we have visited the above, considering the fact that we had a very young kid with us.

I will be blogging more in detail about some of the places that we have visited, just for memories’ sake. Those pictures need to be stored somewhere, ya?

#holidayfun – Indoor playgrounds & some lessons learnt

These days, it has been raining and we decided on indoor playgrounds for our playdate. We went to the Fidgets World @ The Grandstand on Wednesday. I’ve heard good review from C who has been there a few times and I hope Faith would love it though I very much prefer the kids to be out in the open. Oh well, what can we do since it’s raining?

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I appreciate that it has a big space and therefore the playground has quite a lot of equipment that could entertain a kid for long. They have a small art studio for those who have creative minds and a baking area too!

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Art and craft studio

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Baking studio

We thought that the crowd would not be large but it so happened that the preschools in the vicinity are going there as part of their holiday programme. Arghh… so we had peace until about 30 minutes later and that’s when things got interesting. The playground sprang to life with happy voices of children and the stamping of feet. The toddler area was much quieter as compared to the other areas but the former was soon filled with young children who came with their parents (few) and domestic helpers (a lot).

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So, our little girl was just playing by herself, picking up the balls and putting them back into the proper place (Goodness! I must teach her how to PLAY!). She was contented just doing that when a boy about the age of 2 years old came and went charging at her, pushing her to the ground. I was like, “WHAT on earth is he doing?” Faith was more shocked than physically hurt and started crying. The domestic helper quickly asked the boy to apologise in which he did and went off to play. I thought this was an once-off incident and since this does happen in a playground, I told Faith to be ready to receive such actions from the children since it’s all part of playing. But honestly, I was a little taken aback. Does the boy have to do that? There is so much space but he just came charging at her and shoving her to the ground.

And then, the same boy had to do the same thing to her again and again. I was peeved! Each time he did that, the helper got him to apologise but in the end, the educator in me couldn’t take it anymore and I asked the boy in the face to apologise to Faith, and not the toys!

The cousin came and explained to me that he had already apologised but I told him that the little boy didn’t know what he was sorry for and he remained quiet. My senses came back and then I realised that he’s a boy with a lot of energy in him. He probably didn’t know that what he did was wrong. He did express his apologies but does he really mean it? It’s so flippant!

You may think I’m over-reacting since the boy is still so young. But I believe kids as young as him or even Faith can understand if you take time to explain. They are really smarter than we think they are. Of course, it also depends on the personality of that child but letting certain behaviour go ‘just like that’ is a no-no to my parenting or teaching philosophy/beliefs. More often than not, kids can understand and if we teach and model the right behaviour, they will get the idea. That’s what I have derived from a decade of working with children. No need scientific research to prove that.

This is actually a teachable moment and I seized it to explain to Faith that such behaviour will exist in a play environment and what we can do is to avoid the boy and play somewhere else. She did so which I’m glad. Anyway, I don’t think she’s that fond of the indoor playground; she prefers the outdoors.

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Lunch was at the site itself and they serve decent food. C brought her boys homecooked healthy food! Well done! Faith ate the blueberry muffins baked by her auntie and she finished them all, leaving only a small bite for me.

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Fidgets
200 Turf Club Road
#03-10 The Grandstand
Singapore 287994

The next day, Faith and her cousins went to the airport for an outing. We had wanted to go to the beach but the weather wasn’t kind to us, AGAIN! Thankfully, the airport has indoor playgrounds and it’s no surprise at all, that they are crowded with kids from the preschools. Sigh!

The small playground at T3

The small playground at T3

The bigger and more attractive playground at T1

The bigger and more attractive playground at T1

Despite being crowded, I’m thankful that the children were more polite and would give way to others even though they were all very engaged in the play. Very rough! And I’m also a proud auntie because my older nephew was looking out for Faith in the playground. ;)

Before the crowd came

Before the crowd came

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We ended with a mini picnic just outside the playground. Simply joy!

Where shall we be exploring next?

;)

#holidayfun – National Museum of Singapore

Play is in!

This got me all excited because in the month of June, my mother friends whom I have grown up with since youth days are coming together to plan outings for our kids.

C and I sat down to plan the places that we want to visit and come up with a list – Airport, National Museum, Indoor playgrounds (in the event of rain), Gardens by the Bay, Cafes (such as Eat, Play, Love), Jacob Ballas, Botanical Garden, Farm visit, etc.

Our first stop is the National Museum of Singapore and I must say we enjoyed the visit especially since it coincides with the Children’s Season – more activities catered to the kids.

We were there at around 9am since we didn’t want to meet with the crowd and once the kids were inside, they were captivated by the various stations found on the first floor.

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Faith loves balls and this station is one of her favourite. Initially she just threw the balls in any fashion she liked until the ‘gor gor’ (brother) advised her on what to do and I’m proud to say that she could aim the ball at the designated hole! Sheer luck? I say NO! ;)

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Remember the game – pick up sticks – that we used to play when we were young? This is the adapted version in which the ‘sticks’ have velcro on them and the kids will create the shape or canopy of the tree using those sticks. Faith obviously didn’t understand anything but was just fascinated by what the velcro can do.

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This is the enlarged version of the five stones and Faith and her little friends do not have the energy to do well in this station. Faith got tired of it within minutes and moved back to the ball game.

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I love The Salon, the station where children get to do some craft work and this area is beautified by cardboards! The older kids were excited at the station and they got to decorate their own cardboard house using materials that could be purchased for $2. The younger kids just sat around watching their older siblings do the job. Wonderful!

IMG-20140602-WA0020The mama was trying to encourage the lil one to play with craft but she just wanted to observe.

We had our lunch early at 11am at Food for Thought. We love the branch at the Botanical Gardens but couldn’t say the same thing about this one at the museum. They had the details of our orders mixed up and the folks who came after us were served first. Also the servers wore stressed-out expression. Oh well.

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While waiting, we kept the children busy with these…

20140602_124408After lunch, we continued visiting the other stations. This is Rouleaux – Paper Art. C’s sons like craft and the older boy got down to work very quickly. Not bad for a boy his age! The other kids just joined in doing various stuff like our lil girl who just opened and closed the cap of the glue stick.

20140602_125740The kids were in here for just 5 minutes. They used light to draw on the screen.

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This is the station where children learn about local food. Surprisingly, the boys were very engaged with ‘cooking’ and occupied the area for a long time.

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The children had an absolutely fun time at the museum and we have not visited ALL the stations! But since the kids were visibly tired (nap time was looming), we decided to call it a day. I must say the result would not be the same if it wasn’t a big group like today. The kids were learning from one another and having fun interacting.

IMG-20140602-WA0018All these are born in the year of the dragon. Going up the flight of steps together. Cute eh?

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Do visit the National Museum soon before the Children’s Season is over!

Drypers Drypantz – Our choice for a premium quality diaper

Of all the parenting workshops that I’ve attended, one key question was posed – What is the goal of parenting?

For me, it is important that Faith grows up being a joyful and happy child and one who loves learning. Isn’t it rewarding to see wonders in your child’s eyes and smiles on her face?

I do.

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At 18 months old, Faith is one girl with boundless energy and curiosity that promise to burst each day. She loves the outdoors and will not fail to explore the environment she is in. Each day, I make it a point to bring her out. It could be a trip to the market, a short walk at the park or an outing with her play-dates. There you will see her running about, climbing up and down and surely enjoying herself! Thus it is important that she is dressed comfortably for these activities and this definitely applies to the diaper that she is wearing. The ideal one must be able to absorb urine well and yet keep Faith’s dry and comfortable (no irritation please!) and be of good fit.

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We find that in Drypers Drypantz.

Drypers Drypantz fits Faith snugly and this has assured me that leakages will be minimised, if not, an issue I would not need to be bothered with. In fact, we didn’t encounter that problem. Each morning, though Faith wakes up to a full diaper, her shorts are still dry. I guess the Activ-Core™, which is the absorbent core, really does its job well in absorbing urine and  at the same time prevents flow-back, thus promoting long-lasting dryness. Sometimes, Faith poos in the morning before I could even change her diaper and  surprisingly, the full diaper still holds the loose stools well with NO leakage!

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What’s more important is that Faith’s sensitive skin doesn’t show any reaction to the diaper and I believe I could attribute that to the natural plant extracts (Vitamin E, Chamomile, Olive Extract, Aloe Vera) that promote skin health and keep Faith dry and comfy. I also appreciate that the improved Drypers Drypantz has a new, softer, outer cover so it won’t look bulky when Faith is wearing tights.

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The little girl is kept dry and comfy throughout the day as she goes about her exploration each day. I find myself less stressed too about the need to change diapers because I know Drypers Drypantz will do its job well. Drypers has kept its word in providing ultimate comfort for Faith and is also partnering with us in bringing up a joyful and happy child!

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If you are looking for a switch in diapers, the newly improved Drypers Drypantz is my strongly recommended one to you! It’s our choice for a premium quality diaper without having to pay premium price for it!

For the month of June 2014, with every purchase of 2 packs of Drypers Drypantz,  you can receive a $10 FairPrice voucherAll you need to do is to email:

1. your proof of purchase (scan or snap a picture of it!),
2. your personal details (name, address, contact number, your child’s name and date of birth) and the code [LYNNLLY] to sg.contest@sca.com.

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Disclaimer: Faith received three packs of Drypers Drypantz for the purpose of this post. She has been using Drypers diapers since we made the switch in mid 2013 and we have been satisfied consumers. All opinions are mine.

Home-made toy of the moment

As you dine out, don’t you wish that your toddler kids could sit in their chairs without making too much fuss? Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that we expect them to behave like adults who could occupy themselves with food and conversations. I know kids being kids, they would need to move (and fidget a lot they do!) since their attention span is only that long. So what do you do to occupy them?

I always bring along a small bag of goodies with me when I go out with Faith. When she gets bored, that’s when I dish out that bag, otherwise known as busy bag.

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If you can recall a previous post on toddler busy bag exchange, I actually went home with fourteen sets of homemade toys after that meetup. I must say that some toys are not that attractive to Faith while others captivated her more. I guess it all boils down to age-appropriateness.

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Of the 14 home-made toys, two stood out. They are the pom pom stuff in it and pipe cleaner. Faith takes a special interest in them and could spend at least half an hour on them. How awesome is that?

I don’t know what is the fascination about them. It could be the colours. It could be the excitement she gets when she can stuff the pom pom in. The pipe cleaner is a tad difficult for her. Instead of stuffing each wire into the small holes on the cap of the bottle, she just stuff all of them in without the cover. Easy and rather boring eh? But she likes doing it over and over and over again.

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Faith has been playing with these for a few weeks now and she hasn’t gotten bored of them. Just yesterday, I dished out these toys during Sunday service and she was playing with them quietly on her own until another younger girl joined in. Today, during an outing with her playmates, I took these out again while waiting for our lunch to be served and the older kids were enticed by these simple toys. Of course, they devised their own game using the same materials but hey, these home-made toys can be so versatile!

There are still others for Faith to explore and I’m taking my own sweet time to introduce them to her.

Try these toys on your child and see what happens!

Cakes made this week

The last week of May saw me making two fondant cakes for my friends. Just a month or two ago, I declared that I would not work with fondant in this type of humid condition but my heart turned soft when my friends asked me to bake for their niece and nephew respectively.

This first cake was a chocolate cake for a 10-year-old girl. I was told she was a precocious girl and after browsing some pictures on my FB, she decided to go for a simple design – one with bow and stripes on the surface. V (the birthday girl) likes the combination of turquoise, pink and white and it shall be done for her!

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There were problems along the way. Due to the hot weather, my whipped chocolate ganache didn’t stay whipped. In fact, it soon turned watery which was a great cause of concern for me as I need to cover the cake with fondant. As a backup, I made a batch of buttercream (wilton method) and applied it on the ganache (crumb coat and first layer) in the hope that it will help to crust. To ensure that the fondant will not turn soft and thus destroy the cake, I put double layer of fondant on the cake.

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The bow never materialised as it cracked as I was about to put on the cake. I should have stuck to the same brand of fondant that I have been using all along. The current one that I’m using doesn’t really do well in terms of drying and can be rather fragile. Thankfully I took a picture before it cracked.

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Panic set in of course. I had a few more hours before delivery and I had to think of an alternative design and fabric roses came to mind. Along with some blossom flowers, there were 10 flowers on top, signifying her age. And I thought it turned out better in appearance (or am I trying to console myself?). I thought this cake was rather mature looking, good for a grown-up in fact. ;p

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The 1.9kg chocolate cake decorated with fondant.

The second cake was a rainbow cake with chocolate ganache. My friend was easy about this. There was no need for much decoration except for some animal figurines for his 3YO nephew. I love making figurines and spent each night working on one since it is rather difficult to do so when the kiddo is awake. I had better do a good job for the figurines since they take the centrestage. The rainbow cake was baked and then put together on the day itself. Again, the chocolate ganache posed a problem since it got watery again in this weather although I have used the proportion of 1.5:1. Sigh! I should have just insisted on using buttercream since the 6-inch cake can get mighty tall and I need each colour of the cake to ‘stick’ well to the other.

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I actually had problem with the frosting and I panicked again. In the end, I decided to pipe some green leaves using buttercream to hide the ugliness and as usual, I place fondant on top so that the figurines could sit on it. The white fondant covering was intended to have a natural look in case you would think that I have made a mistake by placing it a little slant. I love the colourful letterings which was a last-minute idea that popped into my mind. At the 11th hour, I did the colourful bunting to complete the look.

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I actually like the finished product! My friend was happy and said that her nephew loved the animals and kept admiring them even after the birthday and this absolutely made my day! All the effort was worth it! Together with the figurines, this 6″ cake weighs 2.1kg.

20140526_192322Rainbow cake seems to be well-liked by many these days eh? A fad?

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My garden theme cupcakes. I certainly hope to do more to complete the whole series.

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 And the last cake for the week: Yuzu-vanilla lychee cake with whipped cream. I much prefer to use buttercream if you ask me since it won’t melt that easily in our climate. I did that for the lychee cake a few months back for a friend and received good review about it. I’ll post the recipe once I’m satisfied with the result. ;)

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Lychee cake with buttercream

Hong Kong | Hei Wan Dim Sum Specialist 喜運

Dim Sum is the quintessential meal experience of the Hong Kongers and is it any surprising that when we were in the city state, we had this on our priority list?

This time round, we wanted to go for a Dim Sum place in the neighbourhood and by that I mean not having it in some upmarket restaurants. The previous time when we were here, we tried Jade Garden which was fabulous. So my friend had a few Dim Sum places in mind and they are all in Tsim Sha Tsui area but unfortunately, when we reached the actual sites, there were no eateries to be found. Talk about changes! We travelled on, in search of more Dim Sum places. Thankfully, 喜運 still exists!

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To order, we just have to tick against the boxes of items on the menu sheet. Easy? Nah, not at all! The food items are all in Chinese characters and I have long given back my knowledge of them to my teachers. Thankfully, we have some proficient Chinese/ Cantonese folks in our midst and we left this important task to them. We just had to pay and eat!

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There are some basic Dim Sum dishes we will always order like (from top left in clockwise direction) Char Siew buns, Siew Mai, Fan Cheong and braised spare ribs.

It’s always a good idea to have Dim Sum with a group of friends because in that way, you can try more items and you are assured that they will all be consumed. Just imagine if it were only the hubs, Faith and I. We definitely couldn’t finish those delicious food!

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We had quite a quick flow of food since they got gobbled up by everyone at the table and we had to order more. Fried carrot cake, har gow (shrimp dumplings), Lotus leaf rice, etc…

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You can imagine how stuffed all of us were at the end of the meal. The best part is the bill didn’t come up to be hefty. After we split the cost among ourselves, we just need to pay S$10 per person. That’s really afforable!

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Can you blame us if we were all smiles?

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Faith definitely enjoyed the meal and had a good time ‘disturbing’ the elderly folks at the next table.

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喜運, Hei Wan Dim Sum Specialist
G/F, 65 Portland Street, Yau Ma Tei

Thursday Travels is a weekly column featuring sights and experiences from my wanderlust adventures, including staycations. These sweet memories need to be stored sand shared. 

When mums come together…

… they eat and chat.

The BSF group of last year came together for a meal today. This group really gelled a lot and we are still good friends to one another. A lot has to do with the leader, I feel.

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Many of us are homemakers and that explains the potluck dishes.

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Faith got to play with the Jie Jies…

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I thank God for these ladies who have been encouraging me during my first year of motherhood. It is definitely not by chance that we met. Thank you, thank you, thank you!