The Totoro wedding cake

I’m currently in a state of contentment.

Over these few years, I’ve learnt to accept and enjoy my role as a SAHM. Perhaps, it’s because I have only one kid and things are manageable. However, I believe I can attribute such contentment and joy to a few main factors and one of them is my interest in baking and cake decorating.

Being stuck at home can be depressing and I quickly realised that I am not one who can survive such a lifestyle. I love to learn, communicate with others and impart knowledge to others. Picking up from where I have left off, I decided to continue to hone my skills in baking and ventured into cake decorating by going for relevant courses. Gradually, friends asked me if I could bake for them and after much consideration, I decided to give it a try. I was honoured yet fearful because we all know that taste is subjective; I’m not sure if I could do a good job.

Anyway, I went ahead and baked more cakes. I love the process of learning through baking various kinds of sponge cakes and it’s really therapeutic as I work on the figurines. It’s a form of art and I find myself enjoying it.

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In the course of learning, I was privileged enough to get myself a freelance teaching job at a cake decorating school. It’s a dream come through. Flexible working hours works well for SAHMs and it’s definitely a bonus that you can share your passion with others too. At last, I could have a decent adult conversation! Do you realise that your vocabulary deteriorates when you only talk to a child most of the time? I do!

As much as I love making cakes, I am mindful that my interest does not take precedence over my main responsibility – my family. I am first of all, a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, I am wife to my wonderful husband and then a mother to my child(ren). While God has given me gifts and abilities to bless others, I must make sure that I don’t fill my schedule such that I sacrifice the first three priorities.

I have thus learnt NOT to accept every other cake order that comes my way, especially in my current capacity. It’s painful, to be honest, to pass potential orders to my baker friends when I know I can do the job. However, at the end of the day, I have to let go so that I can fulfill my other responsibilities.

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to work on a rustic wedding cake and it was really pure joy working with the bride. She envisioned a cake with lots of fresh berries and a couple of cake toppers. So I just baked the classic Victoria Sponge Cake and sandwiched with cream, {lingoberry} jam and berries. 

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This is a simplified version of how the Victoria Sponge Cake is made via etsy.

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A few days before, the figurines, a Totoro wedding couple were made. They have to closely resemble the pictures that the bride had given me. I used fondant + tylose powder which is my best friend when it comes to sugar modelling.

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A day before the actual day, the three stacks of cakes were baked and frosted. I do believe that the flavours need time to blend and thus making the cake a day before is best. They were all packed and placed in the chiller since fresh fruits are used and I wouldn’t want to risk anything, ya know?

In most cases, I don’t do delivery but since this cake involved three tiers and I had to add in more fruits on site, it makes sense that I deliver the cake. The whole troop went with me because honestly, I couldn’t manage it all by myself now. #pregnancywoes

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Pardon me as the following pictures would have me in it since I got the hubs to snap me in action. Thankfully, the ride was smooth and by right, there shouldn’t be any accident to the cakes since they are heavy! For the bottom and second tier, I inserted dowels or those big, fat straws so that the cake would not sink when I place another layer on top of it. Royal icing is your best helper as you need to ‘glue’ the layers of cakes in place.

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I’m always very nervous when it comes to stacking of the layers of cakes. Because there is simply no back up plan and to add to the stress, you have eyes on you as you work. So there cannot be any mistakes! Delicate hands, please!

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Placing more fresh fruits by the sides and adding real flowers that are supplied by the bride. I should have added more actually!

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To have the snowy effect, I sprinkled dusting powder (not icing sugar) all over lavishly. This powder stays in its normal form and will not be ‘soaked’ by the moisture of the cake.

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There you go. I had fun with this cake and with all the $$ I got from baking the cakes, I could at least contribute a wee bit to the family. Granted that it’s a far cry from what I used to get when I was working, it does help in paying off some expenses. And… it does feel good to have some earning power. ;p

;)

Quekling II @ 20 weeks

Detailed scan day.

And apparently, Quekling II turns out to be …

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… a boy!

So, Faith has been right all along. Upon knowing that I was pregnant, I asked her if the baby was going to be a boy or a girl and she would always reply “弟弟” (younger brother). This goes to show that we can take the words of the little ones seriously. :p

Quekling II seems to be growing well and we could see all limbs. He was really active during the scan and was changing position most of the time.

Personally, I was relieved after knowing all seemed to be well and that the baby might be a boy (shouldn’t really trust wholeheartedly until the baby is out!). I think having both a boy and a girl completes the picture but ultimately, of course, the more important thing is to have a normal and healthy child, regardless of the gender.

These days, I have friends who asked me what the arrangement would be like when the second one comes along. Would I engage a helper? Nope, I wouldn’t. But I know there are challenges ahead.

Firstly, I need to prepare Faith that the baby would not be great fun to be with. Many times, she has asked me if the baby could read with her, skate-scoot, play play-doh with her, etc and I have to tell her that the baby couldn’t until he’s a bit older like her. I must really make her realise that the baby will demand a lot of my attention and that Mama could not always spend time with her like what I’m doing now.

Faith really ought to be potty-trained by the time the younger one comes into the scene. For months, she could tell me that she needed to poo and there hadn’t been any accident. However, she just couldn’t do so for her pees. How frustrating! There are still other skills that she needs to acquire and I already feel there’s not enough time! Oh my!

I fully expect household chores to be burdensome when the second one arrives. I’m learning how to freeze my meals and to think of alternative ways to clean the apartment. Hire a part-time helper? Perhaps. Get an iRobot? Maybe.

Oh my…

Breathe in…. Breathe out…. Take a step at a time.

Weight: 53kg

Baking with a toddler

This is not so much a post about a recipe but thoughts about spending time with Faith on a one-to-one basis. Quality time, so they say. You might be surprised and ask, “But you are a SAHM! Of course, you should be able to spend more time with her!” That is true, of course, except that there are dishes to clear, toilets to clean, floors to mop and meals to prepare, just to name a few. And all these take time.

However, as I take a step back, I realise that Faith desires to work on stuff together with me, remembers those incidents and narrates them in her own way. She actually enjoys those activities! So, I’ve decided household chores can wait a wee bit and start focusing on building wonderful memories for her by getting her involved in the KITCHEN.

If you know me, I love baking and cooking and I think such an interest can be felt by the little one. She observes me daily in the kitchen and then recently, keeps telling me, “I want to see Mama doing.” I believe the hands-on baking workshop at the Colgate event and the recent cookie baking and decorating session I had with her have fueled her interest.

I might as well get her involved then. Which turns out to be really awesome.

So our recent project is to bake some savoury cupcakes together. To be honest, they are not the most delicious but I guess they are nutritious enough for the little one. I packed in salmon and spinach in it but I think adding bacon would really enhance the flavour (but I try not to use processed meat).

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What you would need
:: 1 1/4 cups of organic unbleached plain flour
:: 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
:: 1 cup grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, chopped vegetables, etc
:: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
:: 50g cooked salmon or chicken meat, finely chopped
:: 1 egg
:: 1/4 cup of milk
:: 50g unsalted butter, melted
:: olive oil or butter to grease the pan

** Original recipe from Beanstalk magazine (the magazine for early childhood practitioners and parents)

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease the cupcake pan with olive oil or butter.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. I got Faith to do this step and nearly fainted because her aiming is really bad but I had to put on a calm and joyous front.

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3. Add grated veggies, meat and cheese. Toss well to mix.

4. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter together.

image5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones, stir until just combined. Do not overmix as your cupcakes will be tough.

6. Spoon into the cupcake pan. I used a mini cupcake pan as mini ones can be easily handled by the little girl when she’s consuming them.

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7. Spoon into the cupcake pan.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes or until golden brown. insert a toothpick into one of the cupcakes. if baked through, the toothpick will come out clean.

I must say I was nervous the whole time Faith handled the equipment. I don’t really welcome mess but we all know it is inevitable especially when working with young kids since their grip and coordination skills are not there yet. I have to remind myself to have fun with her.

An attitude of fun creates a positive atmosphere.

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Apart from that concern, it is really a worthwhile activity to work on. As we baked, we conversed and i told her the names of the various ingredients and methods like whisking, stirring, pouring, etc and she could remember them! What a useful practical lesson!

I believe we would do more of such activities again. Why don’t you do so with your kids too? ;)

Easy and delicious recipes that we could work on together (for now):

:: Mini quiche

:: Broccoli, cheese and mushroom easy pies

:: Pizza

:: Pasta pies

So, stay tuned!

To my soulmate

I realised that I hardly mention my hubs in my posts after Faith was born and today, I’m in the mood to pen down my thoughts about the man in my life.

Before the kid came along, we were really loving and inseparable. Life was sweet and i enjoyed every moment with him. Things change once Faith enters our lives. Communication was reduced drastically. I was too caught up with grappling with my new role as a mother and he, trying to juggle between work and family.  At the end of the day, both of us were just too tired to talk.

In my first year as a mom, I bore a resentful heart. I disliked being a SAHM even though my mind was convicted of the benefits it will bring to the family. Many times, the hubs would hear complaints from me, that his life hadn’t changed much; he just needed to spend that extra 2 to 3 hours with Faith upon reaching home. Naturally, I became critical of him and expected him to spend every minute with Faith in the evening with quality (whatever that means).

The hubs was patient with me. All he wanted was that I would be happy. He encouraged me to pursue my interests and constantly told me to have my ME time. He has never refused my needs and wants and each time when I ask for help, he would gladly do it.

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Three years into motherhood and I must say things get easier. Perhaps, da man has been praying for me all along that my heart would be settled. Today, as I look back, I am thankful.

:: Thankful that he initiated that I be a SAHM. Being a working mom is tough and I think he knows that all along. Without any work deadlines and pressure, I am no longer a ‘rushian’ and could spend time playing and teaching Faith wholeheartedly The little one also gets to grow up in an environment where it is safe and knows that she is loved and cherished.

:: Thankful that he allows me to pursue my interests and dreams even though it might cost him financially. For that, I’m immensely grateful.

:: Thankful that he doesn’t bring work home. Once he’s back, his focus is on the family, helping me out in whatever ways he could. Many times, I feel guilty because I know he needs a rest himself too but he devotes the time on Faith and me. I love it especially when he does all the fun things with the little girl and because of that, Faith always looks forward to her papa’s return.

:: Thankful that he would always be there for the little one whenever there is any school outing and that he would take leave to accompany me for my gynae appointment.

:: Thankful that he is always desiring to do the will of God and that’s his prayer all along. This year, he became more involved in his service to the Lord but in so doing, he has also become more sensitive to the needs of the family and could guide us better.

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Oh, there are still a lot that I can be thankful for but I’d just stop here. We had a very private birthday celebration for him just a week ago. His style, really. He just wants to spend time with his family and oh, what a lovely picture of him and Faith!

Blessed birthday, dear hubs. I’m thankful to the Lord for you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all wonderful moms out here! This year’s has been especially meaningful because Faith could articulate that greeting to me as she handed me a card she made from school ( with the teachers’ help, of course) and the lollipop flower that she received from Kids’ Church. It really warmed my heart as she ran towards me with the gift and said a Happy Mother’s Day to me. *heart melted* imageBeing a parent is tough. I mean, no one prepares us for that. In a way, we are thrown into that role but thankfully, we can always draw reference from our own parents and fellow moms and dads who are good role models. This year, for Mother’s Day, I got Faith to bake some sugar cookies and involved her in decorating them, just for the fun of it. It does promise a messy kitchen and table but the most important thing is she had fun. image To make the cookies, you need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less than that)
1/2 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven at 175C before baking.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to cream until they are mixed well.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the wet mixture a little at a time until it is completely mixed in.

5. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to a thickness of 0.5cm (or your desired thickness).

6. Chill for about 2 hours so that it will be easier to cut out the cookies using the cutters.

7. Cut out the dough using cookie cutters.

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8. Bake at 175C for about 10 minutes or until the edge starts to turn brown. Do place the cookies of the same size together on the sheet pan when you bake. This is to ensure consistency in baking of the cookies. imageAfter the cookies are baked and cooled, I got Faith to spread the surface with a little of the strawberry jam.

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Thereafter, I used edible flowers and got Faith to smell them. She would have to sprinkle the flowers onto the cookies and then you would have decorated cookies! Simple?

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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A fun afternoon on oral care with Colgate

Let’s talk about oral care today, for both children and adults.
:: Be warned. It’s a long post.

imageIsn’t it wonderful when we have a healthy set of teeth to flash when our pictures are taken? Not only that, having strong, healthy teeth can help us chew the right foods so that we can grow. They also help us speak clearly and look our best. So, it’s important that we take care of our teeth.

It’s not always easy, at least in my case. I do not have a healthy set of teeth like my husband. I have to battle cavities and to have root canal done for one of my teeth. I must admit that I am not diligent in taking care of my teeth when I was younger and now I must make sure that my daughter does not suffer the same fate as me. So education on the importance of good oral care habits must start young.

Our family was invited by Colgate Singapore to a parent forum in which we were informed by a dentist, Dr JJ, on the dangers of dental cavities and the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Not only that, we had the opportunity to participate in a fun, hands-on baking workshop where Faith and I whipped up yummy healthy dishes under the guidance of a professional chef.

When do baby teeth appear?

The first teeth to appear at around six months of age are usually the two lower central incisors – or ‘cutting teeth’. These are followed by the two upper central incisors. By the 16th month, four more incisors would have appeared. Between 13 to 19 months, four canines (pointed teeth) would appear. The molars would have all appeared by the time the child reaches 33 months old.

The order of the appearance is an average only. Babies do vary and it is important to note that teeth appear when they are ready.

Dr JJ reminded us that baby teeth are the foundations of developing permanent teeth and they must be well taken care of. Early loss of baby teeth, for example, can result in space problem for permanent teeth.

What causes tooth decay

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It is important that we take care of our teeth because it helps prevent plaque which is a clear film of bacteria that sticks to our teeth. After we eat, bacteria in our mouth react with the food we eat and sugar acids develop. These sugar acids cause the tooth enamel to weaken, causing holes called cavities.

What we can do

The following are some pointers that Dr JJ mentioned and I thought it’s good to note:

:: Babies who latch on or have a bottle of milk before they sleep tend to have their teeth decayed earlier. It is very important that they brush their teeth before they fall asleep!

:: It’s not advisable that the child takes a long time to complete his meal. Dr JJ mentioned that she knew of children who took an hour to do so and by that time, food that is consumed has turned into sugar acids in the mouth.

:: Formula milk contains a lot of sugar. Before you choose one for your child, it is best to read the label and look out for these added sugar which might harm the teeth if they are not well taken care of.

:: Water and milk are the best drinks for your toddler between meals. Try not to give your toddler acidic, sugary or fizzy drinks between meals, or juice or squash in a bottle.

:: Of course, much depends on what one eats. There is a consistent message to keep sweets and other sugary snacks between meals to a minimum. This includes dried fruits such as raisins which are high in sugar and can stick to teeth, as well as chocolate and cakes. Dr JJ maintained that the point is not to refrain from eating them but to practise oral care after consuming them. She shared that her own children are given sugary snacks too but she makes sure that they clean their teeth well. In any case, apart from water, everything else {including good old vegetables and fruits) that we consume has sugar in it.

:: Have regular dental visits. It is recommended that the children start visiting the dentist when they are young before problems arise.

The fun part: Making your own mini pasta pie

Part of this forum was the opportunity to have a fun time making healthy dishes with the little ones. The chef told us that it is always good to read the labels on the bottles or cans of food that we purchase. More often than not, they contain a high level of sugar and she advocated that we make our own sauce, dips, etc.

So that day, we were taught how to make our own pasta sauce.

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It is pretty easy and I like it that they use natural ingredients (apart from the canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste). Make a big amount and you can store the rest for future use. No need to buy those bottled pasta sauce in future ( I was told there is about 1/4 cup of sugar in each bottle. That’s a lot of sugar!)

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Next, the children got to assemble their own pasta pies! Just combine the penna pasta, mixed vegetables or broccoli, pasta sauce and cheese before baking. It’s that easy! Faith had a fun time doing it and I realised that we can do simple cooking such as this at home. I’m going to try this recipe again. So stay tuned!

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To complete the meal, the children had to make their own dessert – fruits kebab.

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I must say this activity made me nervous. The kids had to cut the fruits into smaller pieces and our little girl was super enthusiastic about cutting. The knife was really sharp and I had to stop her from doing it herself. Other than that, it was pure joy to see her enjoying herself.

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Toothbrushing tips

:: Brush at least 2 times a day, once in the morning and once a night before sleeping

:: Toothbrushing must be supervised. This is because a young child would not know how to brush their teeth well until the age of 7.

:: Be systematic when you brush. Divide the upper and lower jaws into 3 segment each and brush all surfaces of a tooth

:: A good brush will take about 2 – 3 minutes

:: Brush the teeth and gums and angle the bristles at 45 degrees to the gumline

:: A toothbrush with small head and soft rounded bristles is good for kids. Replace once every 3 months.

:: For children who can spit effectively, they can use 1000ppm fluoride or a pea-sized amount to brush their teeth. When asked about the use of fluoride-free toothpaste for young kids, Dr JJ warned that the children tend to swallow the toothpaste as well since they can be swallowed. This might hinder them from learning to use the fluoride toothpaste as they grow older. Her own thought would be to use water to brush their teeth before they learn how to spit.

More info on oral health for children can be found here.

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutralizer

We were lastly introduced to the Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection with Sugar Acid Neutralizer which claims to be a new standard of oral care that makes a cavity-free future possible. It is clinically proven to fight tooth decay in two ways. Firstly, its patented Sugar Acid Neutralizer helps deactivate sugar acids before they can harm teeth. Secondly, with fluoride an calcium, it also strengthens and restores the enamel to help prevent cavity formation.

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We were all given a pack to try the new product at home and so far, it has been good. It feels as if your teeth are cleaned just like when you are at the dentist. If the product delivers what it claims to do, then it will be worthwhile to have Faith use it when she have learnt how to spit. For now, the Mama is still trying out! ;)

This is a short video to illustrate how the new breakthrough technology Sugar Acid Neutralizer works. Do visit www.facebook.com/ColgateSG or www.colgate.com.sg for more information on the product.

Thank you, Colgate, for this invitation. We truly had fun during the baking session with the chefs at Expat Kitchen and benefited much from the informative session on oral care with Dr JJ. Even Faith gave a thumbs up!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to attend the baking workshop organised by Colgate. No monetary compensation was given. Information on dental care was written based on what I have gathered from the session and from limited research via the internet.

Quekling II @ 17 weeks

I wish I had much peace when I turned up for my gynae appointment today.

Alas, the night before found me restless. The OSCAR result was one thing but I haven’t been putting much weight since the last appointment. I wasn’t sure if things were okay.

When you are pregnant, worry just takes place.

I weighed 51.9kg on his scale and my gynae looked at me and asked me,” You vomitted and had diahorrea?”

Nope.

Then, according to him, I should be putting on 0.5kg every week and it has been 4 weeks since I last saw him and I have only put on 0.3kg.

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Thankfully, Quekling II is growing well, it seems. So I told Dr Poon that things should be ok even though I didn’t put on much weight.

He looked at me with a firm and serious expression. “Don’t be complacent. Your body might have reserves and the baby is getting the nutrients from it. But once that is depleted, he will face malnutrition. So better eat more.”

He went through my health report with me. It was stellar except that I might be a little anemic but that’s not much of a concern for now. There is something about my blood that causes the {OSCAR} ratio to be low. Darn! History repeats itself. It’s the same scenario as my first pregnancy. So, my gynae confirmed with me (yet again) if I would go for subsequent tests and I just had this simple answer, “Nope…I have to trust God.”

I really have to because there is nothing I can do.

Before I walked out of the door, my gynae told me to eat more… again.

Weight: 51.9kg

Pandan Kaya Cake Roll

 20150414_141458Recently, I went on a mission to look for recipes on Pandan Kaya Cake Roll and boy, did I have fun! The swiss roll is easy to make and bakes fast. So if you have the Kaya jam on hand, a dessert can easily be made.

Firstly, let me show you how to make pandan juice.

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Pandan leaves can be bought from the wet market or the supermarket for less than a dollar for a packet. Cut the blades into smaller pieces and place them in your blender/chopper. Add about 3/4 cup of water into the blender if you intend to use up the whole lot of pandan leaves from a whole packet. After the blender has done its work, pour the juice through a sieve and squeeze the juice from the leaves as well.

To make the Pandan Kaya jam, you would need the following:

200ml coconut milk
2 large eggs
50g sugar
2tbsp pandan juice
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp plain flour
3 blades of pandan leaves
(If you prefer a stronger pandan flavor, add 1/4tsp of pandan paste.)

Steps:

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1. Mix coconut milk, eggs, corn flour, plain flour and pandan juice together until well combined.

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2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, add in sugar and pandan leaves.

3. Cook over low fire and stir constantly until mixture thicken. (Do not overcook.  Once kaya is too thick, it will turn lumpy and will be difficult to spread on the cake). The trick is to keep stirring! Discard pandan leaves and set aside to cool.

:: I have tried a few variations to making the Kaya jam. To make a healthier version, I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar and the flavour is more intense. There is also a difference if you use the pandan paste and pandan flavour. The pandan paste will give you a green kaya jam (pic on the left) whereas when I added the pandan flavour, the colour is more natural. So it really depends on your preference.

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Making the sponge roll is easy and for this following recipe, the steps require that you separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. This requires more work, of course. I have added another way to making the roll in which you use the whole egg. for the second recipe, you will yield half the amount of the first recipe.

Sponge Roll
Ingredients:

3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
45g cake flour
10g corn flour
1/4tsp salt
40g vegetable oil
1/3tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside. My tray measures 24cm by 16cm by 3cm. If you use a bigger tray, then the roll will turn out thinner. But that should be fine.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.

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4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites until foamy.

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5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

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6. Switch mixer speed to medium and slowly add in egg yolks and pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the veg. oil into the batter until well blended.

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9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the tray you use. 

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11. When it’s done, the surface gives a nice golden brown look. Remove the sponge roll from the tray and cool on a rack with the skin facing up.

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I let the cake roll rest for about 5 to 8 minutes before I assemble. I find that if I wait longer, it will be difficult to roll and cracks will form.

Assembling the cake roll:

1. Carefully transfer the cake onto a greaseproof paper with the skin facing down.

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2. Spread pandan kaya on the cake.

3. Gently roll the cake by using the paper to lift the cake and to guide the roll.

4. Rest the roll in the fridge to stabilize its shape.

5. Remove, slice and serve.

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For an easier method and a smaller portion, the following works for me, using the size of the tray which I had mentoned earlier.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
35g caster sugar
25g cake flour
5g rice flour/corn flour
pinch of salt
20g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.image

4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the eggs until foamy.

5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till the colour turns to pale yellow.

6. Switch mixer speed to medium and add in pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until well blended.

9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10.Bake in a preheated oven for 10mins.

Have fun baking!
I used and experimented with the recipe from happyflour.blogspot.sg and she has an awesome collection of good recipes!

Learning about Microgreens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will not give up!

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

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

The session above cost $25 per child at an introductory price. Usual price is $40. Materials are included.

#notasponsoredpost

A day in my life with a 29MO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zzzzzzzz…. Goodnight, world. Another day beckons.

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

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

The second one

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weight: 50.5kg

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

Weight: 50.6kg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh Lord, what a faith stretching period.

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

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

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

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

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

My God is real.

 

The 3rd month that marched past us

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

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

Life still goes on. That’s for sure.

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

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

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

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

Some of the stuff we did over that one week:

Playground time at the reservoir

Playground time at the reservoir

Waterplay party at a friend's house!

Waterplay party at a friend’s house!

Attending a trial Gymboree lesson

Attending a trial Gymboree lesson

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

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

Skate-scooting fun at the beach

Skate-scooting fun at the beach

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

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

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

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

April, please be good?

Protected: Croquettes, Queks’ version

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Friday Flips: Books on fruits and vegetables

:: Coop #4 & 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans

Thankful Tuesday

I’m writing with a thankful heart today.

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

Motherhood is indeed rewarding.

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

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

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

Totoro cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CO-OP ’15 #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Proud of their work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 things to do differently in 2015

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

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

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

:: Record Faith’s developmental progress faithfully

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

:: Blog about each playdate

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

:: Catch up with friends regularly

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

:: Read and review 10 books

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

:: Try out new recipes and blog about them

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

:: Climb stairs

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

:: Couple time once a fortnight

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

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

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

:: Be consistent with family devotion with Faith

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

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:: Turn in by 10.30pm

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

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

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

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

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

:: Document ten bento boxes

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

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:: Learn to make five Peranakan dishes

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

:: Go on hikes

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

Lunching with a star

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

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

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The dish that got me lunch!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow her on IG: lilinwong

Friday Flips: Chinese New Year related books

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

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

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

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Location: Junior Lending Picture Book
Call number: English LIN

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

Location : Junior Lending Picture Book
Call number: English THO

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

Call number: English THO

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

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

Call number: English ZUC

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 Call number: English KAT

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

Call number: English BIT

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

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Growing with the Tans

Frozen themed chocolate cupcakes

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

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

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

Chocolate cupcakes ( yields about 18 cupcakes)

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g caster sugar

200g plain flour, sifted

40g Cocoa powder, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

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

2 large eggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I pipe roses onto the cupcakes using tip 1M.

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

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

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Goodness & satisfaction in home-cooked food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you cooking this week? :)

Superman cake

Do you have a superhero in your life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:)

Pizza lunch date and a mushroom soup recipe

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

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

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

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Our homemade pizza.

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

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

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

[Thickening]
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith @ 25th month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:: She loves playing with playdoh!

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Strawberry butter cupcakes

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

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

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

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Strawberry butter cupcakes

6 egg yolks

5 egg whites

250g unsalted butter

230g self-raising flour

180g caster sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2tsp to 1tsp strawberry paste

:: Preheat oven to 170C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While Faith is in school…

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

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

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

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

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

20150114_102934and uninterrupted time to experiment with recipes.

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

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

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

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Faith goes to school!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth day? No tears. Hallelujah!

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

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

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

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“Do you like school?”

“Yes…”

“Do you want to go to school?”

An enthusiastic ‘yes’.

:)

School isn’t that bad after all.

Pororo cake that went ;(

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

;)