Sending sweet treats the Sophisca way

If you are looking for Christmas gifts that are practical and cute at the same time, head down to Sophisca! It is Taiwan’s very first specialty candy brand that was started in 1997 and has since established itself as Taiwan’s beloved and top confectionery retailer. Sophisca’s saccharine staples are an array of candied fruits, soft bonbons, chocolates and more!

Last weekend, the family headed down to its media preview of their Christmas collection at Marina Square and yours truly went a little crazy over their very adorable packaging. Thankfully, their prices are really reasonable so I didn’t burn a big hole in the pocket when I left.

These Christmas Reindeer and Santa gift boxes are only $4.90 each.

The daughter had a good time trying out their candies and she had reached her quota of sweet treats that day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So cute….at $7.90.


These are at $11.90 each.

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This is my favourite corner. Just look at the designs on the boxes. And some are really local-flavoured with our beloved Singlish words on them.

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I purposely chose some of these to give to a Taiwanese family who will be leaving Singapore for good. They have always been fascinated by our colloquial English so I thought these are apt. There are three slices of chocolates in each box ($2.90 per box).

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Sidetrack. The girl has officially taken over the ownership of my Canon camera. So that day, she was just happily snapping pictures.

 But I got her to concentrate and pick some of the boxes as gifts to our friends.

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I prefer chocolates to candies and got this box of different-flavoured chocolates as well. Actually, I honestly think the packaging got me to part with my cash.

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So that night, we had our farewell dinner for our beloved friends whom we have met in Boston.

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They were family to us when we were all in a foreign land and naturally we grew close to one another. So that night, we had food, cakes, chocolates and laughter and sent them off with our blessing.

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So long, farewell! It’s time to say goodbye!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to Sophisca’s media preview and were treated to complimentary goodie bags for the kids. However, items purchased as mentioned were from our own pocket.

Friday flips | Learn Chinese Books – Shapes

I’ll go straight to the point. I love this set of Learn Chinese Books.

I stumbled upon this series of books during a book fair. The lady who recommended them first introduced Taoshu Learn Chinese Books and then shared with me this set of books that is based on ‘SHAPES’, an animated TV series produced by Peach Blossom Media. Squares, circles and other basic shapes are used to retell famous folktales with humour and wit. I thought the graphics were interesting and might spark off some creativity in Faith and bought volume 1 whose stories centre around friendship and kindness.

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We went home and started reading. The story was so interesting that the girl asked to read another book. Before we knew it, we have read all six titles in one go.

Thankfully, our local libraries carry these titles and the kiasu me borrowed what I could find for volume 2 and 3.

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What I like about these books:

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I can try my best to articulate and speak properly in Mandarin but in terms of word recognition, I fail. I could still remember the basic words though but anything more than that, I would have to look up the dictionary for its pronunciation and meaning. I always welcome hanyu pinyin and these books have included hanyu pinyin for the more difficult words and phrases.

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And if you are one of those who really cannot make it in terms of reading Chinese, they provide hanyu pinyin for the entire story!

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Don’t understand what you are reading? Fret not, there’s the English translation for you! Faith got me to read the English version after reading the text in Chinese.

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What I like about these books is that there is a moral to be learnt for each story.

So yea, do look up these books when you are at the library and I’m sure you will enjoy reading them to your kids too!

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

August bakes

I didn’t expect to bake, for others, because I was really tied down by the kids. However, one fine day, a friend asked me if I could bake her daughter a birthday cake since the baker she wanted to engage was not available. It was a chiffon creative cake, one of those cakes that I don’t often bake. I like challenges once in a while and I thought why not try?

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Chiffon cakes turn out to be easier to bake and once you have the right tools, decorating it can be fuss-free too. This is my first nicer creation because I have the available tools and cutters.

You do need to plan the colours that you need beforehand and bake them. After that, it’s really just cut and paste.

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This is an Elmo lychee chiffon cake. Again, once you have the cutters, it’s an easy job.

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This is the cake requested by her. It took a while to complete this cake because the decorations are 3D in nature and that means I would have to sculpt them. There was also some problem with the recipe and in the end, I had to rebake the pandan chiffon base. Just look at the different colours that you need for this cake!

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With the first request came other similar requests for Chiffon creative cakes and I had one new order for this Mickey Mouse cake. Again, I have the cutters so it made life a tad easier for me.

Get the idea?

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One of those days, I baked the charcoal chiffon cake to munch.

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The last cake has to be this rainbow buttercream cake with the fondant Care Bears figurines. It’s back to doing what I like (figurines) but I seem to have lost the touch for making buttercream cakes. Anyway, this cake makes the recipient very happy and that’s good enough.

That’s it. That’s the round up for my August cakes!

Keeping fit with Mizuno

I’m not a professional runner but I have been running (leisurely) for more than two decades to know that running in a right pair of shoes is important. How does one know which pair of shoes to purchase then? You can certainly ask the salesperson in the sports store for advice and recommendation, assuming they are seasoned runners themselves or you can have a reliable diagnosis using the gait analysis or foot mapping. Through this method, you can understand the level of your pronation and find the right running shoes for yourself.

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I have always been running using Asics because it gives me the best comfort among the shoes that I have tried. Mizuno? Nope. I’m not sure why I have not tried running in one but recently I had the opportunity to try their products (due to a sponsorship) at the store in Velocity Novena Square.

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So many different pairs of running shoes. Which one to choose? As a vain lady, I would want to go for neat designs but being also a practical person, I know full well that choosing the right pair that works for me is still the wiser thing to do.

I did the next best thing – I went to bother the salesperson, for a long period of time. You can’t blame me. I had incurred an injury before because I had run with a wrong pair of shoes and excessive mileage. In the end, I had to fork out more time and $$ to consult a podiatrist and undergo physiotherapy sessions. So, each time I buy a new pair of running shoes, I make sure I do a good job in choosing the right one.

At Mizuno, I went through the 360 degrees foot scan to assist me in finding the right type of shoes for my feet. So even if I like a particular design, I won’t go for it since the pair is not the right one for me.

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I spent one and a half hours (is that long or short for you?) choosing the apparel and shoes and was thankful that the lady who served me was patient and understanding.

 

I have since run two short-distance races with the Mizuno products and am happy with their quality. Am going to sign up for a longer distance next and let’s just see if the shoes will continue to work for me. 😉

If you are choosing a new pair of running shoes, try the foot scan at Mizuno at Velocity Novena Square or Running Lab where I used to do the analysis.

Happy exercising!

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Disclaimer: As an ambassador for Active Hive, I was sponsored with Mizuno sports gear. Thank you, World of Sports and Active Hive for the sponsorship. No other forms of monetary compensation was given and all opinions are mine.

Shape Run 2016

I returned to do the Shape Run after a 3-year hiatus. The last one was a stroller run with Faith and it feels good to be back participating in this all-women run. I wasn’t ambitious and thought a 5km run would suit me just fine. I have to be realistic and kind to my knees. Until and unless I have sufficient time to chalk up some mileage, I wouldn’t dare to run a longer distance.

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Race day. The sky was overcast and I thought it would rain. The 5km category was the second last to be flagged off and man, were there a lot of ‘green’! But I love the location – Bayfront – since it’s just right ahead of the MRT station.

Note to self: Park at Dakota/ Mountbatten/ Stadium and take a train ride.

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My buddy and I. I wanted to run with a fellow mom so that we can encourage each other. to be honest, it’s really very tough to meet up to train together. So far, we have only met once! But still, it’s better than nothing!

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Go, go, go!

I love this run because the weather was perfect (not too hot) and the scenery, beautiful. And I absolutely adore women’s run because the runners were so polite and encouraging to one another. No shoving, no show-offs. But if you eavesdropped along the way, you would realise that there were a lot of mothers who were chatting about their kids. haha..

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Being a popular run, there was quite a fair bit of bottleneck in the beginning which slowed down the pace. The lane was narrow to be honest so it took a bit of effort to meander in and out of runners. Because I didn’t ‘chiong’ all the way, I was able to run strong and really sprinted towards the end.

35 min 13s later, I was back. Would love to come in sub 30 but it’s okay.

My running buddy completed her run well too. I’m so proud of her considering the fact that we didn’t train much and only depended on the minus calories for our training. The weather for the past few weeks had been erratic and thankfully, we could throw in a bit of indoor training using the machine.

img_4210That’s me, doing a last-minute training before the race day.

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Along the way, we saw this sole. Running in a good pair of shoes is important, especially if you are running a long distance one. I have incurred an injury before because I have chosen a wrong pair to run in and I have learnt my lesson since then.

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These are our choice – Hoka One One for my friend and Mizuno for yours truly.

I think I’m ready for a longer distance now. 😉

Shopping at Agape babies

If you are one who likes to shop online and browses the many items on the web, you will enjoy shopping at Agape Babies. The online store has recently launched their new and redesigned website to give shoppers an even better experience on the mobile phones. Its optimized site looks and feels like an app and you can enjoy one-step checkout and one-click sign in for a faster experience.

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Agape Babies has also expanded their brand and product selection to include popular brands like Jujube! They are now carrying over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories. This means that you would probably find the items that you want at this online store. Moreover, you can also enjoy exclusive Weekly Deals every Wednesday!

Since Faith was about to start her swimming lessons, I went to shop for a waterproof bag for her and found one that might suit her. Initially, I had wanted to purchase at the physical retail stores but thankfully, I remembered that there are online stores that give good discount and the collaboration with Agape Babies couldn’t be more timely. Besides enjoying the offer, the delivery was fast too so it is really an incentive to shop at Agape Babies in this instance.

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Proud owner of the Trunki PaddlePak

If you are absolutely new to Agape Babies, you will be pleased to know that first time customers can get even more with $10 OFF. They get to choose their free gift – Mustela Trial Kit (worht $10) or Bellamy Milk Tin ($25.95) and a next day delivery on their first purchase of $150 or more. Do look for their current promotion here for more savings!

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Besides the option of having the goods delivered to your place, you can now choose to self collect from three convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road.

img_3102Dan and his new bottle

So, yea, if you don’t have time to shop onsite, you will find that it’s a better option to shop online with Agape Babies.

I’m happy to share that Agape Babies is offering Raising Faith’s readers a 5% discount! All you need to do is to quote raisingfaith5% upon checkout. This discount is valid for 3 weeks (22 July to 12 August 2016) and the code excludes jujube (sad!), milk, diapers, wipes, medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories.

Disclaimer: I was gifted shopping credits from Agape Babies to purchase the mentioned products and I topped up for the remaining amount. No additional monetary compensation was given and I do not stand to gain any commission from sales using the discount code given. All opinions are mine.

#DIAL (Observation for HFMD)

It’s a usual Wednesday. My day started the moment da man stepped out of the apartment. The girl woke up and the boy stirred in the bed. It was 6am.

It’s the usual routine of getting the girl ready for school. But today, she was denied entry because there were some red spots on her palms and the school staff members decided that I should bring her home to monitor her development for the rest of the day. The school has three confirmed HFMD cases and it is understandable that vigilance is needed.

Oh well….it’s a homeschooling day for us then (I use this term loosely here). Here’s a record of such a day, a Day In A Life of a SAHM whose kid needs to stay at home. Please be warned that this is also a photo-dumping post.

9am. We reached home. The girl was not going to bum around because the mom had put on her teacher mode and hat on. First up is phonics and I’m using Jolly Phonics to teach her.

M: Why is your donkey so colourful?
F: 因为我喜欢五颜六色。

9.30am Practise writing 1 – 10. It’s a pain to teach when the brother was around because he wanted to be involved in the learning process. I’m sorry dude. I can only handle one of you at a time. 

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On normal days, I would be spending time reading and working on the muscles of the boy but today, he just had to learn together with the sister.

9.45am Faith had completed her numbers and wants to do cutting. Whatever. I have a cranky baby who needs to nap but he is struggling to stay awake.

She continued with pretend play while I put Dan in the cot. He had fallen asleep. I guess he’s just too tired.

10.05am Morning snack – strawberries

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Soon after, we baked madeleines. It’s a very good activity to share with the girl and she would definitely oblige because she liked them.

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The madeleines didn’t turn out to be to be picture perfect. I was rushing because I know the boy would wake up 30 minutes later.

10.45am The boy was up and I started steaming sweet potato because I wanted the girl to relate to the book which we have read earlier. And of course, to have a taste of the root vegetable.

11am I took out my secret weapon – Duplo – which we have acquired very recently at a very decent price. They are second hand but worked absolutely fine for us. While they played, I continued to wash the dishes. How I wish I have a dishwasher in times like this.

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11.30am Lunch was this set. Don’t judge please. It’s the best I could provide at this point in time. I wanted Dan to have a taste of the sweet potato too and he liked to disturb the sister during meal times.

12pm. Chinese.

6 months ago, I started getting her to recognise Chinese characters, first by flashing the cards and then subsequently reading text. Now she can read on her own.

Seven readers today. Her reading in Chinese is definitely much stronger than English. Time to step up on her English language!

12.30pm I wanted to get the girl to watch some TV programme but the boy would plaster himself to it. How???

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Have to keep carrying him away. I’ve my fair share of workout already.

12.50pm We continued with the study of the fruit of the spirit. Today we touched on self control.

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1.30pm Thankful for FIL who came to look after the kids. I wanted to cancel today’s minus calories workout but decided to just go ahead because the kids would be napping during this time anyway and FIL would not be overly taxed.

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I have given up a few things in life for the family/kids but I’m not willing to give up running/exercising which is a pleasure to me. Keeping fit and sane is important to me!

3.15pm Went to the library to borrow books for the children. Reckoned that the kids would still be napping so there is no real need to go back so soon. I wish I could spend more time to select books for the kids but I have to make do with whatever time that I have.

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 Borrowed a lot of books. I think I should bring a trolley along the next time.

4.15pm When I reached home, the kids suddenly awoke from their nap.It always happens this way. I have no idea why. It’s rather magical.

Asked FIL to stay for dinner and so I could cook in peace while he reads to the children.

Best arrangement.

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5.45pm
Dinner… It’s still a long way to go before I could take a break!!! Arghhhh. The boy was getting cranky. Too tired.
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I’m getting tired. I’ve mopped the floor four times already in the day. It’s time that you help out!
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7pm While I showered, the man spent time with the kids.
7.45pm Dan slept. The man left for a meeting in church and it’s the girl and I.

We spent time reading the books I borrowed from the library and after we read this ‘Katie Takes a Plane’, I decided that it was time that we take out the map and learn a little of the world we live in.

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8.30pm  It’s sticker book time! A routine before we turn in for the day.

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Good night.

I realised I truly enjoy teaching Faith and toy with the idea of homeschooling her. There are so many things that we can learn together. If she does not have to stay at home today, we would have gone to the museum, the park where she could skate-scoot or to the seaside to have a mini picnic. Each day, after she comes back from school and has her nap, I’m only left with an hour or two to teach her. Time is not on our side, really.

Kids grow up too fast!

ACM | Finding the Missing Mouse

The plan is this. We would meet up with Faith’s playmates to visit Asian Civilisations Museum since there is a Children’s Season Programme going on – Once Upon a time in Asia: The Missing Mouse. The mummies would read the story to the kids and perhaps attempt to work on some craft with them.

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It didn’t happen that way. Not at all. In fact, when the kids met up, they were so happy to see one another they just played, in their own ways. It’s not the setting that’s important; it’s the company that counts.

Faith was so happy when she saw N and Mummy Ade that she rushed to meet them. From then now, the two kids were inseparable, holding hands as they walked towards ACM. The last picture? Faith was frightened by the millipede and N gor gor reached out to protect her. Awwwww…

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Young tourists

Singaporeans enter the museum free and once they were in this hall, took off their shoes and went running into the maze. It happened really fast and we, the moms, had not much time to react. However, since it is a small space, we thought the kids would be fine on their own playing and exploring and we ended up chatting at the bench.

img_0485Taking a break and a photo!

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The kids really had a jolly good time just running around in the maze. Kids at this age are so easy to please! They had so much energy that we didn’t bother to read them the story. Just let them have fun!

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Although this is a small space, the kids were entertained for 1.5 hours. Apparently, there are story-telling sessions in the afternoon and Fridays seem to be the best day to go! So if you haven’t been there, do drop by! Good for young kids, IMHO.

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We were all famished by noon. Thankfully, there is a cafe within ACM and ‘Kids eat for free’ yo! It didn’t take us long to settle for this place because…

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…there is a play area for kids within the cafe. Awwwwesome!

 Faith had her spaghetti while I had my overpriced laksa. The kids’ meal comes with dessert which was brownie and vanilla ice-cream for Faith and a vanilla milkshake for her drink. Not bad a deal at all. You just need to order a main and the kids could dine for free yo.

Such a playdate is soooo satisfying. The kids had their fun and the mummies got their rest. I need more of such outings.

If you still have the energy to go on, do pop by the National Gallery (Keppel Centre for Art Education) and have some fun in there too!

PS. Thank you Mummy F for the wonderful pictures!

Entering a new milestone with Toddle

[Review + 15% coupon code]

Can you sense my excitement as we enter a new milestone for Dan? He is starting a whole new adventure on solid foods!

As a second-time mother, I am more composed than when I first embarked on this milestone with my elder daughter. Having gained some experience in this area, I found myself looking forward to the day that Dan was ready for solid foods. At around five months old, he showed quite an interest in our food at the dinner table. He could sit well on the high chair and had good control of his head and neck. Moreover, it seemed that he was dissatisfied with milk feeds alone. Time to introduce solids!

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Obviously, I needed to get the equipment ready and here are some basic ones that I would need:
:: Plastic spoons
:: Plastic bowls.
:: Bibs
:: Containers/ice trays for making multiple portions of solids (for freezing)
:: High chair

I hopped on to Toddle and consolidated what I needed. If you have not already known, Toddle is an online baby and kids store that stocks the best of what’s available out there. Every item is specially selected and their collection comprises the latest, popular brands, as well as niche labels sourced both locally and from overseas markets. That means you don’t have to choose from an overwhelming selection of products and that translates to saving of precious time for me.

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My loot arrived on the second day upon purchasing (very fast) and I got down to work very quickly. Dan’s first solid food is homemade rice cereal (mixed with breastmilk) which is one of the least allergenic food. I use this set of Oxo non-slip, high-walled bowls with lids together with these Munchkin spoons that turn white when the food is too hot, so I’m always sure that the food is at a safe temperature to feed Dan.

The first time Dan tasted the rice cereal, he gave me a suspicious look and pushed out the food. Remember to chill. My aim was to start him on one or two teaspoonfuls and to encourage him to learn to eat.

After a few days of rice cereal, I thought it was time to move on. Surely, he was bored with it! This time round, I made batches of pumpkin puree using the Beaba silicone multiportions. I love this food storage container because the frozen food doesn’t stick to it but comes off easily. It’s a good investment because it grows with your kids and can easily be used to make desserts and snacks like popsicles, chocolates and even for baking cupcakes.

It’s been two weeks since I last started the baby on solid foods. He’s taking in small amount still but that’s all right. The more important thing is to enjoy this journey, both mom and baby, and to expose him to a variety of food lest he becomes a picky eater. When we are out, I would pack his food stuff in the Skip Hop insulated lunchie bag so now, he’s officially included at the dining table!

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I’m thankful to have Toddle partner us in this journey and has made the initial baby food making a breeze with the wonderful products that they have stocked. The online store is well-organised and easy to navigate. Detailed description and vivid pictures of each product are given and this helps us to make informed purchases. What I really appreciate is that the store does not have an overwhelming selection of products and what they have are what we need. In this case, really, less is more.

The good folks at Toddle are giving you, my dear readers, a 15% OFF for purchases above SGD 70.00 by using the coupon code lynn15 as you checkout.  To utilize the code, you would need to sign up a customer account with them and join their mailing list. This coupon code is valid 2 weeks from now.

So, go ahead and browse Toddle for their products. I’m sure you would have a pleasant shopping experience. Do check out their facebook page to get yourself updated! Alternatively, you can always stalk them on Instagram (@thetoddleshop).

Disclaimer: I was gifted shopping fee credits from Toddle to purchase the mentioned products and I topped up for the remaining amount. No additional monetary compensation was given and I do not stand to gain any commission from sales using the discount code given. All opinions are mine.

Friday flips | Little Miss, Big Sis

It must be tough being my daughter.

Maybe because I’ve no help at home, I expect Faith to be able to take care of herself, dress herself, feed herself, etc and I find myself unable to tolerate any ‘accident’ from her.

I forgot that she’s just a 39MO girl and that her motor skills, be it fine or gross, are still developing.

The other day, she peed out of her potty, thereby dirtying the floor and she got screamed at. I had cleaned the toilet twice that morning and thinking of having to clean it again irritated me.

I rushed out dinner that evening, thinking that I could finally relax since the hubs would be back soon and the girl had to knock the bowl of soup over. Oh, the table and the floor! Oh, oily stuff! Oh my! 

I lashed out at her, “How old are you already? Are you still a baby? Can’t you eat properly?”

I lost it. Awful mom!

She had to endure my madness that day and I felt like a terrible mom. Oh Lord, I can’t do it anymore. 

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Little Miss, Big Sis by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Peter H. Reynolds

When I regained my sanity after a much-needed jog, I realised that this girl that God has blessed me with is indeed a wonderful gift. This book ‘Little Miss, Big Sis’ tells why.

She’s my great supporter when I was pregnant with the boy and together, we received her brother with joy.

She adores her brother from day 1.

Her love for him never wavers, no matter how much scolding she got because of him.

She sings to him, knowing that he will appreciate her songs.

And yes, this is true.

Not only does she supports her brother, she supports me by helping out whenever I need it. It could be simple things like getting a handkerchief to clean the drool off her brother’s mouth or clearing up the bathtub after cleaning the boy.

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When I saw this book in the library, I knew I had to borrow and read it to Faith. The words are simple and the illustrations clear. Young children would be able to understand the story easily. Faith could identify with the experiences in the story. The above picture was taken rather spontaneously when I was reading to them. The girl was giggling all the way.

I think it’s only right to commend her for a job well done. She is truly a Little Miss, Big Sis.

I thought this book is good for girls who have been promoted to be big sisters to their siblings. We could also help them to anticipate what is to come as the baby grows. Manage their expectations, I say.

Linking up with

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

The Sweet Life in Paris

If you are going to visit Paris for the first time, maybe it would be beneficial for you to read this book. It would not enable you to understand fully the Parisian way of life but just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes, that’s just enough.

David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris accompanied me during the recent trip to the west coast, especially on the long train rides and early evening in the hotel rooms. He entertained and tickled the hell out of me. Try not to sit opposite a stranger when you are reading this book. You might land yourself in a laughing state with a tomato-red face and it’s quite a silly sight, really.

I love David Lebovitz’s hilarious yet informative writing which extends to his blog (thank goodness!). He recounts with a cheeky tone, poking fun at the Parisians and of himself and who can give his recipes a miss? After all, he has worked at Chez Panisse and is the author of five other cookbooks.

As I put this book down, I could understand why the person behind me was queuing so freakingly close to me when we were buying the tickets at the Louvre. Don’t they know what personal space is?! So I’ve learnt that ‘Parisians are always in a big hurry, but are especially frantic if they’re behind you. They’re desperate to be where they rightfully feel they belong: in front of you. It’s a whole other story when you’re behind them, especially when it’s their turn: suddenly they seem to have all the time in the world.’

Thankfully in my trips to Paris, I did not encounter any strikes since they are well-known in Paris and as David puts it, they are ‘so part of the cultural fabric, they even have a season.’ Whoah! I didn’t know that but you should certainly read on to find out more about the tantrums of this small minority of very well compensated workers.

I like his collection of ‘What they say versus what they mean’. Just to cite a few:

When they say, “We do not take returns,” they mean, “Convince me.”

When they say, “The restaurant is completely full,”, they mean, “We already have enough Americans in here.”

When they say, “It does not exist,” they mean, “It does exist – just not for you.”

When they walk right into you on the street and say nothing, they mean, “I’m Parisian, and you are not.”

When they say, “We don’t have any more,”, they mean, “We have lots more, but they’re in the back and I don’t feel like getting them.”

Go grab this book. I’ll give a 4.5 out of 5.

Letter to a child

Dear child,
You know, I think you need to recognise that I’m not here to do your work. And when you need help, you call out to me, not because you want to learn but because you want to show me that you are right.

But the fact is, dear child, you are not. And when I tell you that you are wrong, you pout and sulk and show me tantrums. Whatever for? Do you do this to your parents and that they condone it? I pity them then, that they give in to whatever you want, even when you are in the wrong because you will not know how to distinguish right from wrong and think that you are mighty. Perhaps they don’t know how to deal with you and by giving in to you, they can put themselves out of their misery state.

Dear child, perhaps you would have realised that I am not one who gives in to your bad behaviour. All I ask is a little respect from you, just a little will do. After all, I am older than you and know more than the arithmetic that you know or even the few words that you can utter correctly. I may not know everything but I guess I am okay enough to be able to guide you. If you think you are right all the time and can do your work by yourself, why bother to ask me to help? I’m confused by you.

You know what? If you were in my class, you would learn what respect is. I will teach you that and that in turn, you can teach your parents. Or perhaps I can have a chat with your dear mommy and daddy and show them what that is. Maybe they need to be educated on that. Giving in to your whims and fancies is not going to do you good. I love you and that’s why I am not going to tell you that you are right even when you are wrong. You may dislike me for that but I don’t really care. I just want the best for you.

So, dear child, get this, I’m not your slave. So don’t think that you can order me around or show me your ‘wonderful’ attitude. There are many others who need my help in the class and if you don’t appreciate it, I need to move on to assist them.

No child left behind. We want to help every one of you but you also need to do a service to yourself by being humble and learn from others! Put down your pride; you are not always right.

Weekends’ here!

Good morning! What do you have for breakfast?
My bread …or should I say, my food turns dry in this wintry weather…and I’m not even sure if it is winter now.
Mr Humidity! Where are you?

The road to recovery…

…seemed so painful and slow. The legs were feeling better by the second day but the body continued to be under the weather. I was sniffing and coughing and having sore throat. Arghh….this was not a good feeling!

The hubs bought back nearly 3 pounds of ground beef (*faint*) yesterday and I guess we would be consuming them for the next few meals.

So it would be meatball spaghetti on the menu!

My version of meatballs = ground beef + sweet onion + thyme + egg + parmesan cheese + salt & pepper.

Cook the meatballs in a large frying pan for about 12 minutes, turning occasionally until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Discard the oil and place the pan over medium-low heat. Pour the tomato sauce (thank God for these prepared sauces!) into the pan. Add the meatballs and cook, covered, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring occassionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and add to the sauce. Gently toss to combine. Serve with Parmesan cheese. Yummy!

Lobster rolls

“You must eat lobster when you are in Boston!” This was our mandate as issued by our friends when they knew that we were to go to the East Coast. “The lobsters are so cheap!”

On our wedding anniversary (just last week), we wanted to fill our stomach with lobster but didn’t know where to go and how much it would cost. After Ken googled, he basically commented that the locals buy the live lobsters and cooked them themselves. We decided to do the same and went to Shaw’s yesterday and saw the live ones. Erm…I don’t think I know how to dispatch it? I’ve seen how mom dealt with crabs and it was quite terrifying and I’m not sure I am up to it.

Ken then looked for alternatives and we saw those ready-to-eat lobster chunks. Ok. Those would do just fine and today we decided to spend time in the kitchen. Yes, both of us!

 

Ken was in charge of frying chips. Originally, I wanted to buy potatoes chips from the mart but he suggested doing them up ourselves. So, I cut the potatoes into thin slices and he did the frying. Following that were the lobster rolls! Easy! To make the sauce, you would need mayo, freshly squeezed lemon juice, mustard ( I love it), minced celery, fresh chives and spring onion, salt, ground black pepper and of course, the lobster chunks! Mix them up evenly and then store in the fridge (covered) for at least 1 to 24 hours.

Oh, for the hot dog rolls, it is preferable that we use New-England style meaning top-spilt, with pale sides.

I hope the hubs enjoyed his frying session ( I thought he did terrific!). The chips are seriously good! We would not be buying those in the stores any time now. =)

 

Lobster note (for reference): To dispatch a live lobster humanely before it’s dropped into boiling water, hold a sharp chef’s knife over the lobster’s head, right where there’s an “X” in the shell. Push the point of the knife rapidly all of the way down to the cutting board, then quickly push the length of the blade forward onto the board. Drop the lobster into a very large pot of boiling water and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the shell is completely red. Remove the lobster from the pot and let cool. To remove the meat, twist off the tail from the body. Remove the claws by twisting them off. Pull off the flippers at the end of the shell with your fingers. Bend the lower, small pincer on the claw side to side and pull it away from the claw. With the back of a chef’s knife, crack the top side of the claw. Open the claw and pull out the meat. With kitchen shears, cut open the smaller pincer and arm sections and remove the meat from those also.

PHEW! I could almost imagine the scene when Julie encountered the lobsters too in Julie and Julia.
Note from Food Network Kitchens Cookbook.

Potato salad

What do you do when you have a bag of potatoes, apples, carrots and eggs?
Potato salad of course!

So we have 2 hard-boiled eggs, 2 carrots cut into cubes, 2 apples cut into cubes and 3 potatoes (boiled and cut into cubes). Sprinkle a dash of ground black pepper to it. To add some sweetness to the salad, mix 1 tbsp of honey and condensed milk with hot water and mix throughout the salad.

Simple dish for breakfast.

Banana loaf

The neighbour next door gave us a bunch of bananas and I thought I should make banana loaf. Good opportunity!

Makes 1 medium loaf cake

250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a good pinch of salt
75g light brown muscovado sugar
75g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing tin
2 large eggs
250g peeled ripe bananas – about 2 large bananas
75g plain chocolate chips or chunks

1 900g loaf tin

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease kitchen paper and fit it into the tin so that it covers the base and the two ends of the tin.

2. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a sieve set over a mixing bowl and sift into the bowl. Add the sugars and stir in with a wooden spoon. Make a well in the centre.

3. Put the butter into a small pan and melt the butter over very low heat or do it in the microwave. Break the eggs and beat them.

4. Add the melted butter and the eggs to the well in the flour mixture.

5. Put the peeled bananas on to a plate and mash with a fork, but don’t make them too smooth or like a puree – there should still be some lumpy bits.

6.Add the bananas and chocolate chips to the well in the bowl.

7. Mix all the ingredients together with the wooden spoon until thoroughly combined, with no streaks of flour visible.

8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the rin from the oven and put it on a wire rack to cool completely, then remove the loaf from the tin and peel off the paper. Store banana loaf in an airtight container and eat it within 5 days.

Other ideas:
Add 100g walnut or pecan pieces to the mixture when you mix in the bananas. Or try 50g sultanas or milk chocolate chips.

Choux puffs

Dismissal of failure is folly. And it’s worse if one allows failure to break you.

Since that day when I failed in my experimentation with choux puffs, I resolved to attempt again because I suspected that the recipe has some errors in it and decided to try it out. Instead of yolks, I added in whole eggs today and my hypothesis was correct. It worked after that!

Of course, I continued to learn. The fickle-minded me decided to do the cream puff instead of eclairs. You need the puff to ‘puff up’ and thus the first half of the baking requires you to bake them in 200 C. Midway through it, I realised that my puff might be burnt, especially the tip of it and decided to turn down the temperature and because of that, they didn’t rise anymore.

For the second batch, I decided to try again. This time round, no matter what happened, I will let them bake for 20 minutes at 200C before turning down the temperature to 180C. It worked! I should have persisted in the first place!

It was really a journey of discovery as I read up more and I cherished this luxury to be able to do so. I would have believed that I have to squeeze in time for this to happen if I were to be enrolled in some courses. I mean, after all, even if I were to be in any culinary classes, the key to doing well is to try out the recipes on your own and to make more discoveries in the process.

So, discoveries I have made. And they are interesting indeed.

Pate a choux or choux paste or cream puff dough is not really a dough nor is it really a batter, though it goes through the stages of both. It begins as a loose combination of water, butter and flour like a batter. But this batter is quickly cooked, the flour absorbs the water, the starch gelatinizes and the mixture becomes stiff, more doughlike. Then eggs are added, beaten into the dough, and the dough thins out and heads back in the direction of a batter. What we have is a partially cooked dough batter that, when baked, puffs into an airy delicate bread that can be filled (often with cream) or coated with melted chocolate (eclairs). (Ruhlman, 2009).

choux paste needs high heat to rise up in the first stage and thus they are baked at a higher temperature for the first 20-25 min until they rise up to max height. Baking them at a reduced temperature for another 20 minutes helps to dry them completely. (Ishida, 2009)

And I discovered that I should place my tray one level lower in the oven so that the top tip will not get burnt when they are placed under high temperature at the first stage.

It’s a wonderful discovery, much more interesting than academics. And with all those food-tasting, I had better do more exercise to burn off the excess fats.

Pasta salad with tuna, nuts and vege

1 cup of cooked pasta
1 can of tuna in olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 green apple, diced
2 tbsp walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
2 tbsp dried cranberries
Dressing: 1/2 cup low-fat mayo or yoghurt
1 tbsp lime juice Pinch of sea salt and pepper

1) To make the dressing, mix mayo or yoghurt with lime juice and season with salt and pepper

2) Toss all the salad ingredients with the dressing. Add a little more yoghurt if you prefer and serve.

Steamed black cod fillet with egg white custard & ginger sauce

Makes 1 serving

1 cod fish fillet (80g)
Salt, to taste
2 tsp rice wine
20g minced ginger
Whites of two eggs
1 tsp (5ml) sesame oil

1. Sprinkle cod fish with salt, and rub it into the meat evenly.
2. Before steaming, drizzle rice wine on the fish. Next, place some of the minced ginger on top of the fish. Place fish in steamer and steam for 6 minutes.
3. In a bowl, add a dash of salt to the egg white. Beat until frothy and remove the foam on the surface. Steam for 3 minutes over high heat, until the egg white thickens on the surface and turns opaque.
4. Just before the fish is done, heat the sesame oil in a pan until it begins to smoke. Pour the hot oil over the fish upon taking it out from the steamer.
5. Place the fish on top of the egg white custard and serve hot.

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

Serves 4.

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3/4 Ib (340g) aspagarus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
11/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 Ib medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add asparagus and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking, then drain. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

2. Cook onion in 2 tbsp butter with 1/4 tsp salt in a 4-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed.

4. Stir in 1/2 cp broth mixture and briskly simmer, stirring frequently, until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy and tender but still al dente (it should be the consistency of a thick soup) about 18 minutes. (There should be no leftover broth mixture).

5. Stir in shrimp and cook until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Stir in asparagus, zest, remaining 2 tbsp butter, parmesan, parsley and pepper to taste (thin risotto with some of remaining broth is necessary).

Source: Gourmet, May 2009.

Fried Rice Burger

Ingredients
2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
100g shabu shabu beef
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp mirin
1 tsb sugar
2 cups cooked white rice
2 spring onion, chopped
A small handful of coriander, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a frying pan. Fry the onions unti soft, for about 6 min.
2. Add beef, soya sauce, mirin and sugar. Stir-fey for 5 min, until the beef is just cooked. Transfer to a sieve to drain the juices.
3. Mix the rice, spring onions, coriander and eggs in a bowl.
4. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in a small on-stick pan over high heat. Spoon 2 tbsp of the rice mixture onto the pan and press to flatten. Cook for 3 min till crisp and golden.
5. Place the beef mixture between 2 rice cakes and serve immediately.

Shepherd's Pie


Made this dish from Simply Recipe Ingredients

  • 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups mixed vegetables
  • 3 big potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (out of stock & thus used caramelised onion & red wine sauce)
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Method

1 Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

2 While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.

3 Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.


4 Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

5 Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.

6 Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.

7 Cook in 200 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

Why start now?

I had an interest for cooking since young, possibly from observing how mum did it when we were younger. She would attend cooking classes, watch Fang Tai‘s show and then cooked the dishes. On top of these, she would also compile newspaper cuttings on different recipes. There you go. I have a role model since young. I must have been influenced by her.

But why start only now? In my teens, I was searching for meaning for mylife and was graciously granted revelation. In my twenties, I was pursuing sports as if I have missed it big time in school. So I was back with a vengence. Now, hitting the 30s club, my life takes a turn and well, it’s time to resurrect the interest! Looking at the cook books on my shelf, I think I need to do them some justice!


I am not saying all the other passions have been shoved to a corner. On the contrary, I do them with equal amount of enthusiasm; they are part of me.

So, let’s start this passion of mine, slowly but surely.