Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas!!

Today I want to thank Jesus for being the reason we celebrate Christmas. So many more reasons to be thankful for but most of all, thank You for being real in my life, sticking with me through thick and thin, for being the reason I praise during times of prosperity and giving me strength through adversity.

A blessed Christmas from our home to you wherever you are!
Have you found your reason to celebrate the season?

Christmas isn't Christmas till it happens in your heart
Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts
So give your heart to Jesus
You'll discover when you do
That is Christmas really Christmas for you!

Jesus brings warmth like a winter fire
A light like a candle's glow
He's waiting now to come inside
as He did so long ago
Jesus brings gifts of truth and life
and makes them bloom and grow
So welcome Him with a song of joy
and when He comes you'll know

That Christmas isn't Christmas till it happens in your heart
Somewhere deep inside you is where Christmas really starts
So give your heart to Jesus
You'll discover when you do
That is Christmas really Christmas
Christmas really Christmas
Christmas really Christmas
for you!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 1 Day

It's Christmas Eve! The tension builds as we do our last minute shopping and prepare for the 'big' feast tomorrow night!

Thank God hubby arrived home safely (and brought prezzies!!) to celebrate Christmas and join in the fun together.

Countdown to Christmas - 2 Days

Wrapping presents together, sharing lots of spontaneous laughter till tears formed in Mom's eyes. Not enough moments like these in our family. Thankful to have been there.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 3 Days

It's the Dōngzhì (Winter Solstice) Festival today. Traditionally, Chinese families make tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) either plain of stuffed served in sweet soup. This is the first year we made our own tang yuan. It is so easy that we recruited Baby O along.

Basically, all you have to do to make the glutinous rice balls is to pour half a cup of cooled boiled water, little by little into a cup of glutinous rice flour. Mix together until they form a soft dough ball that peels easily from the hand. You can divide the dough and add some colouring but it is not necessary.

Pinch enough to make little glutinous rice balls or big ones up to your own liking. I prefer small ones so you are not eating lots of flour at one time. We also made cut tiny pieces of gula melaka (palm sugar), placed them on a flattened ball and sealed them shut.

Cover the tangyuan and the rest of the unmoulded dough with a piece of damp towel to prevent it from drying out.  If it gets to dry, you can always add a little water and work on it again.

Result of leftover dough
For the ginger syrup, we boiled about two liters of water with a piece of ginger the size of a small palm (smashed lightly with a cleaver), five pandan (screwpine) leaves and a block of gula melaka (palm sugar) for about 20 minutes.

Once the syrup is ready, we can cook the glutinous rice balls by placing them into a pot of boiling water. The balls are cooked when they start to float onto the surface of the boiling water. Scoop them with a slotted spoon and place them into the ginger syrup and serve immediately.

I am so glad that we get to celebrate and experience such diversify and rich culture in our country!

This Mama: Drank and ate up the bowls of tangyuan and completely forgot to take pictures of the end product!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 4 Days

Having a little break today. Mom and bro took Baby O out with them. It feels like there's more to do back here than at home in Penang. Glad and thankful to get a wee bit of rest for a change.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 5 Days

Just five more days to Christmas! We have started playing Christmas songs - ringing bells on the Christmas tree, saved tunes from the laptop and YouTube, and of course on the piano. I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to appreciate music through lessons when I was young and able to use this talent for His glory.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 6 Days

Baby O is 20 months old today! She is such a chatty toddler now. She talks non-stop and tries to imitate all that we say in all the different languages.

Amazingly she knows everything in her 'colors ABC numbers' book! She can identify all the following objects as well as tell you what each letter is for (though she cheats by looking at the picture we're pointing at).

She is able to count from one to ten and knows numbers up to twenty :-
This Mama: eleven
Baby O: twelve
This Mama: thirteen
Baby O: (mumbles)teen
This Mama: fifteen
Baby O: (mumbles)teen
This Mama: seventeen
Baby O: (mumbles)teen
This Mama: nineteen
Baby O: TWENTY!!!

She recognises the colours blue, pink, red, green and yellow correctly most of the time. She also knows what sound which animal makes:
Cow (moooo),
Owl (toot toot),
Frog (ribbit ribbit),
Dog (wow wow),
Cat (neeoww),
Lion (roar),
Pig (oink oink),
Monkey (hoo hoo hoo hoo),
Horse (neiighh),
Elephant (*tries to trumpet*),
Sheep (baa baa),
Duck (duck duck = quack quack),
Rooster (dududududu = cock-a-doodle-doo),
Fish (*opens and closes mouth to imitate fish*),
Snake (sssss),
Bee (bee-zzz),
Bird (cheep cheep cheep cheep)
Bear (roar)

She dances at every opportunity (yes, even to the clanking of pots and pans), sings ever so adorably and hums to tunes like Lullaby.
video
video

Physically, she is learning to jump and running a little but still walking a little wonky. Wondering if we should send her to a podiatrist as her feet seems to turn in a little. She now goes upstairs by herself but with us watching every step. She also tries to come down herself too but it is usually a lot faster if we just carry her down. New favourite activity would be to climb onto chairs or the piano bench. She does it at the speed of light! Scary.

All her teeth except the last four molars are out. Her body still seems warmer than usual after the bout of flu and I wonder if she is teething. Current favourite food: chicken, soup, and chicken soup. Still loves fish and fruits, milk and cheese. Basically no problems feeding her.

Baby O loves her grandparents and I notice she seems to have a soft spot for jung-jung (gong-gong aka my dad). She will 'help' him get to places by holding his hand. She will also unexpectedly go to him and give him hugs which doesn't happen with the other relatives.

It is however more difficult to get her to nap/ sleep even though she is extremely tired. She will find all sorts of excuses - read again, switch lights on etc just to delay sleep time. She has also been quite short fused lately again not sure if it is due to teething as before. We did notice though that it started after the bout of illness and usually only with me. What a bully!

Other than that, everything else seems fine. Praise God she is developing well!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 7 Days

Dearest super/superb/fantastic/amazing Mom,

Though this may just be another birthday, know that you are loved and cherished by all of us for being who you are - a great wife, mom and grandma!

Blessed Birthday!! Thank God for you!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 8 Days

My miniature white guy from 2008
This is the second consecutive year that we have left the UK and there are reports of heavy snow starting this time of the year! Why, oh why did it not snow like this when we were there?? I love the snow. I think it is one of the most beautiful thing that God has created! It just gives me an overall fudgy-smudgy feeling. I know, I know, it can be hazardous and disruptive to peoples' lives and all but when it snows... aaaahhh...

Though it didn't snow as much during the times when I was abroad, I am thankful that I have at least experienced it before!




Thursday, December 16, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 9 Days

Baby O is officially off all medications! Praise God that she is well and (almost) back to her normal self as my back is breaking from all the pao-pao (carrying)!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 10 Days

As I am still kinda housebound caring for a recovering toddler, it has been a blessing to be where I am. The house I have been brought up in is located just a stone's throw away from everything! Bakery, post office, clinic, dentist, pharmacy, mall, tau foo fah and coconut drink stall, etc etc etc... So so so thankful!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 11 Days

Just when we thought Baby O is on the recovery route, she caught a cold and a little cough. Another trip to the doc's may have traumatised her further and caused her to be extra clingy! I mean EXTRA! Thankfully Mom is around to help. Grateful that although our parents are not able to be there for us all the time due to circumstances, the little help given is a tremendous lot!

Get well soon, Baby O!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 12 Days

Was glad to be able to spend some time with dear friends today and squeeze in some shopping before leaving KL. Thankful for safe journey for both myself and for dear hubby who has arrived safely back in Penang.

Also thank God for the best behaved baby I can ever asked for who did not cry and look for Mama while I was away the whole time, even though she was a little under the weather!

12 Days to Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 13 Days

Another backdated post:-

We had earlier planned to go to KL to attend two weddings and meet up with some friends. Had to scrap off the idea when Baby O fell ill. We then decided for me to get to KL to at least attend my cousin's wedding and get back the next day. Thank God for safe journey and a great time with family at cousin's wedding and for a capable dear hubby looking after a recovering child with dear father-in-law all by themselves!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 14 Days

Yikes! A recovered Baby O = time to catch up with blogging! Here goes some backdated posts:-

It has been exactly six months since I started my compost bin. Time to unearth the treasures buried! All those dried leaves, fruit skins and vegetable peelings have turned into this beautiful, rich compost! There were also lots of darkened branches, roots and leaves which have not completed their composting process so these needs to be filtered before obtaining the compost proper. I have already added some to the soil of my crops. Am hoping when I return after Christmas, everything would be just blooming!

On top of that, my crops are growing well and bearing fruits! We have over ten different types of herbs, fruits and vegetables in our little garden now. Can't wait to taste the first harvest!

Such a satisfied feeling when you see your plants thriving and ultimately lead to the end result of producing fresh, pesticide-free goodies!

Thankful to have garden space and fertile soil as well as lots of garden squirmy 'friends' helping in the process!

2nd batch of garlic

Hong Kong kailan

Chilli

Mint







Friday, December 10, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 15 Days

Lately, I have been having things like dizzy spells and car sickness which I have not had before. I also feel thirsty easily. With family medical history like mine, we decided that I should have a general medical check-up which includes full blood tests and an x-ray. Got my results back today and everything is still within range. Thank God for good health (despite the nagging back aches!). Must be the (very) late nights (spent blogging!!). Gotta really cut them down. In order to take care of my love ones, I must first of all take care of myself!

Praying that Baby O gets well soon though...

Countdown to Christmas - 16 Days

Baby O is down with fever. She had a few mosquito (where did they all come from!?!?) bites since yesterday and the incidences of dengue and chikungunya in Penang worries us. This time round, Baby O is not as co-operative as before and refused to have her fever-reducing medication. She kept spitting them out. She was also extremely clingy and kept wanting to be 'pao-pao'ed (carried). Her temperature raised to above 90degrees at around 2am and we decided to bring her to the hospital to get a suppository since she won't have any of the paracetamol syrup.

I have my reservations when it came to Medical Officers, General Practitioners or locums in our country due to many past experiences with them. It is rare to find one that I can truly place my full trust in. Doesn't help when I am a healthcare professional myself. This experience to the hospital only increased my skepticism.

The Medical Officer in charged was a locum. He held a torch and had a look at Baby O's mosquito bites, asked if she had any cough or cold, and started prescribing paracetamol and an antibiotic. I asked if he thinks it was a bacterial infection and he nodded. As I was not too comfortable with the antibiotic, I requested if we could just have a suppository and review Baby O's condition in the morning with her paediatrician. He looked blankly at me as if I had just spoken in a foreign language. Thankfully, a regular nurse had been observing nearby and took over the situation. She helped administer the suppository confidently and gave relevant advice. Thank You, Lord for placing Your guardian angels everywhere!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 17 Days

Cooked this for dinner today. I don't really know what it is called in English - Butter cereal prawns?? All I know is, it is one of my favourite dishes!! Yum!

Thankful to be able to have family meals together with my dear ones (and a generous father-in-law who bought the mega huge prawns for us!)






Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 18 Days

Started writing some of these home designed cards...

Designed while Baby O is sleeping, using a lot of the free scrapbooking kits available for downloading at this cool site, Shabby Princess. Hope they arrive before Christmas!!

As we write, we were cherishing all those moments spent together. Thank God for good friends (some turned great!) He sent us wherever we went! The company and support given will be etched in our memories!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 19 Days

There. Final touches added. Since we are on a budget, it'll be a rustic Christmas tree this year. Basically bought some this and that and put a few things together. Nothing fancy.

First was the corrugated paper hearts inspired by one of the stalls I visited recently at the Malaysian-German Society Christmas Bazaar.

Next, cinnamon stick ornaments inspired by the decorations on a Christmas tree at one of the popular restaurants we were invited to for a wedding lunch just last weekend. Oh, the aroma!

Finally, simple but bright bows to add a punch of colour to our tree.

I thank God for blessing me with this little talent of being able to put a few cinnamon sticks together. Although it is just tying two strands of ribbon on some sticks, this task may seem easier for some than others. So I am thankful that though not as fantastic as some of my other family members and friends,  I am able to put my hands to work and give our home a sweet, cinnamon-smelling, pleasant looking Christmas tree without burning a hole in our pockets!



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 20 Days

Since we will be away the next two weeks, I managed to give the house a good scrub today in preparation for a potential post-Christmas get-together. Spent a good few hours on it too! Although it is a rented house, we are so blessed by it as it is spacious and comes fully furnished as though we have been staying here. This means it includes things like a slow cooker,  CD players, Scrabble, novels and chopsticks! Well, this house actually belongs to a friend who is currently in another country. The timing couldn't be any better when the house was about to be left vacant. Basically, it is a win-win situation. We needed to put a roof over our heads and the owner needed someone trustworthy to look after their property. So everything worked out perfectly. Can't help feeling thankful for this blessing.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 21 Days

Lights! We need lights! Got our lights!! 200 sparkly ones that dance according to music! Now, to decorate! By the way, I find it easier to put the lights up first before decorating the tree so that the wires don't get tangled up with the baubles and such. Next is actually trimmings like ribbons or strings of beads of whatever you fancy on your tree. I will place the ornaments on last as it will then be easily removed and placed elsewhere if desired.

On another note, Baby O has been waking up every night at about four to five in the morning and crawled into our bed. When she does that, it usually means the end of a peaceful night's sleep. This is because Baby O needs to find THE ultimate sleep position. To do that, she'll bulldoze my sides with her head or turn around 90 degrees often landing her foot on my face. Besides being a light sleeper, I will also be too cautious of her presence in between us so much so that I will wake up naturally every half hour or so just to make sure that she has not disappeared under the blanket or being squashed by one of us. Last night, I was thankful that dear hubby suggested for me to sleep in the next room so that I can get a night's rest without interruption, something that I needed. This morning, I woke up earlier than usual but all ready to go! Highly recommend all mommies (or even daddies) with babies who disrupts sleep to have a go at it too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 22 Days

Second day tree hunting in a different mall. Almost came home empty handed again but thankfully, a check in another affiliated store got me our 5' Christmas tree!


Baby Cawanmushi (Steamed Egg)


Baby O usually has a 2 to 3 hour nap in the afternoon after lunch. Today was an exception as she was knocked out before noon! Instead of doing house chores like I really should, I did what I did best, I had ME time. Before I knew it, 90 minutes have whizzed by. Baby O is about to wake up anytime now without any lunch! Panic. Good thing I had an idea of what I wanted to prepare today. Another easy and quick but nothing lacking in the nutrition department meal. Best part is, it can be prepared with staples found in my fridge.

So here is what I did:

1. Defrost a small fish. Because our fish doesn’t come as a fillet, I steamed the fish for about 3 - 5 minutes and let it cool before removing the bones.
[Alternative to fish - minced chicken or pork or even tofu!]

2. Grate or finely chop a small carrot and cut the florets off about four branches of broccoli.

3. Remove skin and crush a piece of ginger the size of a small thumb. This can be easily removed later before consumption. Alternatively, pound the ginger under the mortar and pestle and just use the juice.

4. Crack three large eggs. Add about two to three eggshells of clear soup (from last night’s dinner).
[Can be substituted with just water or even milk.]
 
5. Add a crack of black pepper to enhance flavour.
[You now have two options: steam everything in a flat bowl together or separate it into two bowls. I did the latter as I can then add more ingredients like garlic which Baby O doesn’t fancy at the moment. I also added some crab filaments into my bowl.]
 
6. Put about two to three tablespoons of steamed rice leftover from last night’s dinner into a ceramic bowl (or any bowl which can withstand heat).
[Again, the amount is subjective as you can have as much or as little rice you want. You can even substitute rice with torn up pieces of bread, noodles, etc!]

7. Add in carrots, broccoli, fish and any other ingredients you wish like shitake mushrooms etc before topping up with the egg mixture.

8. Steam in slow fire for 15 minutes.

Yummy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - 23 Days

I suppose when it comes to the festive seasons, I like it the traditional way. Gathering loved ones together for a good meal. Before that, I like to build up the festive mood. Thus, one of the must dos for me is to adorn our humble abode with the appropriate decor.

As this is our first Christmas back in Malaysia in a place of our own, the first task is to get a Christmas tree.

Saw one in one of the brochures they shove through our mailboxes. So I made my way to the mall after dinner.

Unfortunately the promoter is no where in sight and I couldn't locate the 5' tree that I wanted. Not gonna spend a fortune on a fake tree but didn't want to get one too that is too small either and regret later. So I went home, empty handed.

Mission unaccomplished but the countdown has begun! I am however thankful for dear hubby took over to care for Baby O so I can go tree hunting on my own!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Can you believe that it's December already? Which also means that 2010 is coming to an end real soon!

I LUURRVEE  Christmas. I love the little fairy lights dotting a Christmas tree or lighting up the streets, Christmas decorations adorning places, Christmas songs filling the air, spending the special day with family and friends, choosing Christmas presents, receiving Christmas presents, the whole festive mood that just lighten up people's steps.

What is most magical of all is the reason for the season, the gift of little Jesus in a manger long time ago in Bethlehem. The One who gave His life for me, and you, the best gift of all. For that, I am more than thankful. And that makes it an even better reason to love Christmas even more!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies with Baby O

Recently, I bought Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and Hershey's Chocolate Chips to bake Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownie. Attached to the products is a mini Hershey’s recipe book with all sorts of chocolate goodies. So I decided to try the chocolate chip cookies recipe with Baby O as our little activity today.

Baking is such a great activity with toddlers. It is one of the activities that stimulates all senses! The child is able to see all the action and ingredients and tools, hear the clanging and noises spoons knocking on bowls, touch the different textures of the butter or cookie dough, smell the aroma of the cookies baking in the oven and finally taste it! Yum yum! On top of that, baking also develops language. During the activity, words like big, small, round, brown, crumbs, mix, fast, slow, and uh oh! (very often) can be related to relevantly. Have I mentioned that it is also therapeutic for the parent?


For parents who would like to conduct this baking business with their young ones, I recommend you to:

1. use a simple recipe with not too many ingredients - it will be a handful minding a toddler and trying to get everything together. You wouldn’t want yourself of your toddler getting frustrated so keep complicated recipes for yourself another time. Chocolate chip cookies is a good start.

2. bake something that the little one can enjoy later too - after all, he/ she did help out. It is only fair for him/ her to enjoy the fruit of his/ her labour! So go for something light or reduce the amount of sugar or omit the salt and use unsalted butter. You might even want to substitute chocolate chips with raisins.

3. expect mess, maybe loads of them - use a clear space and prep toddler with apron/ bibs/ clothes you don’t mind staining.

4. keep the communication going - this might be one of the most important step for the activity. Explain the steps while measuring, mixing, etc. Tell him/ her how the scale or oven or mixer works. Show him/ her how you crack an egg.

5. use a low surface - we prepared our cookie dough on an IKEA Lack side table which is at the right height for Baby O to participate and see all that is going on. If you don’t have a suitable low table, another suggestion is to prop your child on his/ her highchair while you prepare on a surface next to him/ her.

6. clean up together - don’t expect your toddler to wash the mixing bowls but you can always wipe the surfaces, put things away and wash your hands together to instill the responsibility.

7. take it easy - you’re not going to make a living out of this so just enjoy the process (and the cookies) together!

Note: Baby O is 19 months old at the time of this post. You can also start baking with babies. That's right! Sling them on you or put them on their high chair and dictate all the steps that you are going through to promote language development. It's never too early!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Killer Clothes and Fine Cuisine

MY MY MY! A friend introduced me to Luxirare recently and I am now hooked! Her food posts are absolutely surreal! So far I have only managed to check out her food archive. The Bento Box post blew my mind away! I was speechless gaping at all the details and beautiful pictures. Then there's the Crisp post. Get hooked with me!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Another easy lunch (or even dinner) to prepare for Baby O and me! Managed to whip it out in less than half an hour! And mainly with whatever I managed to gather from my fridge. Who says wholesome nutritious meals are difficult to prepare???

Again no salt required. I can taste the natural sweetness from the onion and carrot as well as the chicken meat together with the zing of the tomato and the aroma of the freshly cracked black pepper. Mm mmm...

If I had any, I would have buttered up some wholemeal bread or even spread it with cream cheese and toasted it for some croutons!

Anyway, this is what I did:

1. Dice:
    2 small chicken breasts
    1 medium carrot
    1 medium tomato
    3 baby corn


2. Finely chop 1 clove of garlic.

3. Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Fry onions till fragrant. Add chicken and garlic. Fry till brown.

4. Add carrots and stir. Add baby corn and tomato. Cover with about 500ml water. Do not add too much so soup remains flavourful. Boil for about 10-15 minutes.

5. Add about a fistful of frozen peas and boil for another 3-5 minutes.

6. Serve with a crack of black pepper.

The verdict: ‘More! Chi-ken!’

Note: If you are not comfortable giving your little one bits, you can always blend the soup up to the right consistency. I can imagine it to be every bit as tasty!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby Pork Burger with Cheesy Surprise

So pleased with the success of this no salt added pork burger that I can’t wait to share it with those looking for a fast and easy but nutritious meal to prepare for your little toddler and the family! Took me just about 30 minutes (with defrosted minced pork) to get this on the table. This is what I did:

Yields: 4 baby pork burgers

1. Cut up a slice of wholemeal bread into four pieces and toast in the oven.

2. In a medium bowl, grate 1/4 carrot. Add 1/2 chopped tomato, 1 chopped romaine lettuce leaf, 1 chopped mushroom, a dash of dried oregano, 1 small egg, crushed crumbs of toast, 200g minced pork.

3. Lightly saute 1/2 chopped onion in a tablespoon olive oil and add into bowl. Leave the grill pan on low heat.

4. Mix everything together with your clean hands. Divide them into four balls (or two if you want bigger patties).

5. Make a well in the middle of the patty and place one of the 4 cubes of cheddar cheese in it. Cover the cheese with the patty around it and pat into shape.

6. Gently place the patties on a low-medium heat grill. I have a phobia of uncooked homemade burgers. I found out the trick is to cook each side for 5 minutes on low-medium heat, turn them over for another 5 minutes, and repeat the procedure again. This also leaves a pretty criss-cross grill mark on your patties!

7. Cut open one patty to double check that it is cooked right through. If it is still pink in the middle, place it back on the grill. Otherwise, they are ready to be served! With yummy cheese waiting to ooze out!

Serve with toasted buns or on its own with a slice of lettuce or a spread of mustard... whatever you wish! No salt needed as it is already full of flavours on its own just like that!

These ingredients were found in my fridge and can be readily substituted with absolutely anything! For example, you can use minced chicken instead or pork, broccoli instead of lettuce, fresh basil instead of dried oregano, white instead of wholemeal bread and so on!! Told ya it was easy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

MOMMade: Five Little Freckled Frogs

We have designated Tuesdays our craft day. This Tuesday, we worked on an idea that has been stored in the back of my mind for some time now. So off to gather some scraps and have some fun with Baby O:


Materials
empty card board boxes
kitchen towel roll
colour markers/ crayons/ pencils
scissors
craft knife
pencil





1. Sketch five little frogs (about 3 inches high) on a piece of card board. Don’t forget to add little freckles and a little tab at the bottom of your frogs to insert onto the speckled log later. Colour them in and cut them out. Alternatively, if you don't mind my frogs, you can print them out, paste them on a card board and cut them out.


2. Cut open the kitchen towel roll from top to bottom. Fold back about an inch of the roll from the opening to allow the log to stand on its own. Colour the top of the roll in as the speckled log. Colour the folded part of the log as water.

3. Mark on the speckled log where you want your freckled frogs to be and make a slit the size of your tabs with a craft knife.

4. Insert tabs of freckled frogs into slits on speckled log. Ta daa!






5. Remove freckled frogs one by one while singing:



 

Five Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were Four green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Four Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were Three green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Three
Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were Two green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Two
Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were One green freckled frog. Glug! Glug!

One
Little Freckled Frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating the most delicious bugs. Yum! Yum!
He jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were no green freckled frogs. Glug! Glug!

Note: There are many versions of the lyrics but they all sound the same like this:


Caution: Don't forget to supervise the curious little ones and use all sharp tools from a safe distance.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pasta Play

One of the mommies at church had a container of colourful fusilli for her little son to sort in the creche during service one of those Sundays. What an excellent idea! While grocery shopping, I headed to the pasta aisle and bought a pack of multi-coloured pasta in different shapes as a modified version to the one I have seen. A pack of 375g costs only RM4+. I also added in some of our wholewheat fusilli at home and voila! we have a new activity! Brilliant when used together with another container of any kind with compartments - a pill box, chocolate or cookie box, ice cubes, empty egg carton. I had no idea how occupied a little toddler can be with a handful of pasta shapes!

Type of activities:
Sort by colours and shapes
Cooking - Pretend play
Counting
Stringing

Encourages:
Eye-hand coordination
Motor skills
Language development
Imagination
Concentration
Creativity

Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies

I have been eyeing this recipe for the longest time and finally got to satisfy my craving this afternoon! A uni-flatmate used to bake a similar cream cheese brownie those days and I have always wished she had baked more or more often. Recently, the taste of this cream cheese brownie just surfaced in my mind and I managed to get this recipe from Martha Stewart’s site (♥ it!) which I hope will not disappoint. Lo and behold, this easy to make cream cheese brownie was a slice of my heaven on earth!

Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies is a must try! I made a few adjustments to it though mainly reducing the amount of sugar. I was glad that I did. Otherwise, I would have been eating chocolate sugar! Anyway, this is what I did:

Note 1: As most of my ingredients are stored in the fridge, I took out the 4 eggs, measured 145g [SCS unsalted] butter and 115g cream cheese to get them to room temperature before moving onto other steps.

Note 2:Since this is my first attempt, I started by preparing the baking pan (recommended 9-inch square) by brushing it with butter and lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Leave more paper overhanging on the sides so it is easier to lift the brownies out later. Set it aside. Then I preheated the oven to 180C instead of usually doing it first knowing that I will be taking more time to get everything ready.

Note 3:If you need help to convert the units, Online-Unit-Converter.com is a pretty good place to go to.

1.     Boil some water in a saucepan and switch of the heat. Place 115g unsalted butter and 227g semisweet or bittersweet (chopped) chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl and set over the saucepan to allow butter and chocolate to melt (2-3 minutes). Remove butter & chocolate bowl from pan. Add 1 cup sugar; mix to combine. Add 3 eggs, and mix to combine. Set aside.

2.        In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.

3.        Prepare cream-cheese mixture: Whisk 115g cream cheese with 30g room-temperature butter. Whisk in 1/8 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.

4.        Add flour and cocoa mixture (step 2) into melted chocolate (step 1). Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).

5.        Alternately spoon chocolate batter and cream-cheese mixture into pan. Swirl mixture (if necessary) with a skewer stick to marble.

6.        Bake for 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Using paper overhang, lift brownies out of pan; transfer to a rack to cool completely (still on paper). --> Don’t get this part of the instructions. Who can wait that long?! Anyway, I couldn’t and rewarded myself after removing it out from the pan!

7.     Perfect served warm on its own or with a glass of milk or a scoop of Haagen Daaz strawberry ice-cream (or Belgium chocolate if you don’t mind being overdosed. Ooh la la!)

8.        To store, cut completely cooled brownies with a dampened serrated knife into squares on a cutting board before storing in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.


Note: This is not the original Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies recipe. It you would like the original Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Brownies recipe, click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheesy Pasta Bake

Takes only minutes to prepare especially on days like today when I absolutely don’t feel like cooking but I can’t leave my Baby O starving. This Cheesy Pasta Bake is such a random thing which is the best part of it! You can add or take out whatever ingredient you like.

This is what I did:

Boil a handful of pasta shapes according to instructions on pack.

While pasta is boiling, grate a handful of carrots into a baking bowl.

Chop a tiny clove of garlic finely and place into bowl. (Will omit next time as Baby O didn’t like the raw taste of it.)

Add half a teaspoon of mustard and crack some black pepper into bowl.

Score the bottom of a small tomato and place into boiling pasta.

Pour a handful of frozen garden peas into boiling pasta.

Roughly chop two baby corn and place into boiling water.

Switch heat off and remove tomato. Rinse with tap water and peel skin off before chopping roughly and add into bowl.

Drain pasta, peas and corn and mix all ingredients together in bowl.

Grate as much or as little cheddar cheese on top before baking in an oven toaster (or a preheated oven) for about 5 minutes and we have a little bowl of Cheesy Pasta Bake packed with red, orange, yellow, and green goodies topped up with calcium!

Other alternative ingredients: tuna/ salmon flakes, lightly sauteed onions, broccoli, cauliflower... basically whatever you can think of or available in your larder. You can also cook a tablespoon of flour in about a teaspoon of butter in a pan and then add a small cup of milk and bring to boil together with the grated cheese before baking it the proper way.

Lunch sorted.

This Mama would really like to know: Do you have any other lazy-day meal suggestions to share?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

10 Habits of Happy Moms

Was logging onto my Yahoo Mail when this article's title just seemed to cry out for my attention.If you want to remain a Happy Mom, then read this. Take note of no. 2, a common mistake for me sometimes and no. 3 makes me laugh!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This Mama ♥ Quintessentially Yours

My little cousin, all grown up and embarking successfully in a career she is passionate about.. and blogging about it too! Check out some of her cool stuffs at http://quintessentially-yours.blogspot.com/

This Mama's Chocolate List

It’s the rainy season and it has been forecasted to rain lots here in Penang. The perfect time for a cup of hot chocolate! I mentioned before somewhere in this blog that I discovered recently that I actually like chocolate more than I know. Let’s see, there’s:


This Mama's mini chocolate cupcakes
hot chocolate
moist chocolate cake
brownies
Haagen-Daaz Belgium chocolate ice-cream
Cote D’Or dark chocolate
Pocky Almond chocolate coated biscuit sticks
Lotte chocolate filled biscuits
chocolate eclairs


Hmm... not that bad.. doesn’t look like I live on chocolate yet!

Mama, please...

Baby O has been signing 'Please' and 'Thank You' all these while.







Recently, she has been 'demanding' for things - (biscuit) ket, ket, keT, KET!!! That happens when you don't respond to her quick enough. So I have been 'instilling' some manners into her asking her to ask for things properly - Mama, more biscuit, please. She started signing 'please' but because she is able to speak quite a number of words now, I encouraged her to say the word instead. After a few reminders, she will actually say 'Mama, pease.' by herself. And when you acknowledge it - do you want more biscuits?, she will give you a nod together with an oh-so-sweet smile that melts you and makes you drop everything immediately to get her what she wants (caution: the second part of this sentence is exaggerated.). Well, she is finally able to express so much more now including pain which is such a relief especially at times when we don't know why she is crying! It is so cool to watch her string her words together now and be able to 'chat' with her! :-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Mama is back!

Been missing in action as we were away. Subsequently had to have a vacation after the vacation to recover from it all! Lots to update as well but I left my camera cable behind in Ipoh so there won't be pictures until later. Anyway, it's good to be back!

Travelling with a one and a half year old toddler is quite challenging versus when Baby O was just a baby! Although it was only a 4-hour long flight (thank God!), it felt as though it was three times that!

On the way there, we were on a 777 Boeing. The flight attendant was extremely kind to get another passenger to exchange seats with us so we could have a row of 4 seats all to ourselves. The weather was probably not great as the seat belt sign was kept on the whole time and we were advised to keep ourselves strapped most of the time to our dismay. I really wanted to tell the nice flight attendant, who managed to keep her smile on for us each time she passes to remind us to keep Baby O's seat belt on, that it is impossible to keep a one and a half year old strapped! We thought an option to stop Baby O from fussing was to carry her and walk her up and down the aisles but our hands were tied. I have never paid so much attention to the seat belt sign before in all my previous flights!

Baby O was given a little book which helped to keep her occupied for a little while. The on-flight entertainment also managed to distract her a while more before she finally retire for a short nap. Unfortunately, we were on a full 737 on the way back with only one short aisle to traverse made even shorter by the long queue of passengers waiting for one of the two toilets.

Anyhow, we somehow survived and this is a little reminder for future travels:
1. If given a choice, fly around nap or sleep times to minimise upset to child's routine.
2. Bring lots of healthy snacks and activities (eg. crayons, activity books) to keep child occupied before the fuss begins. I will rather over- than under-pack for this one.
3. During take off and landing, allow child to drink (eg. water/ juice/ milk) from a bottle or with a straw, or snack on something chewy (eg. raisins) to reduce discomfort of increased cabin pressure.
4. Don't expect to be able to rest on the flight so have enough rests before!
5. Choose a window seat which allows some form of distraction.
6. Check-in online if option is available.
7. Bring a lightweight and compact stroller that is also easy to carry around at the airport, through customs, on and off public transportation....
8. If flight is not full, try asking for a free row of seat for a more comfortable flight.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Some women are lucky. They gave birth to babies. I gave birth to teenagers."
- Erma Bombeck (American newspaper column humorist and author)
Gustav Klimt's Mother and Child

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Are You Ready For Toddlerhood?

Read this article in a baby magazine some time back before Baby O was even one! Managed to find this piece and thought I would share it with you. Baby O is now 17 months old and I see some signs of what's to come!

Shopping with toddlers
Go to your local supermarket with a goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goat out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.

Getting used to messes
Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a fish finger behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower beds, then rub them on the clean walls. Cover up the stains with crayons.

Getting used to messes in cars
Buy a chocolate ice cream bar and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a coin. Stick it in the CD player. Take a family-size bag of chocolate biscuits. Mash them down the back seats.

Getting ready to go out
Wait outside the toilet for half an hour. Go out the front door. Come in again. Go out. Com back in. Go out again. Walk down the front path. Walk back up it again. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every cigarette butt, piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way.  Retrace your steps. Scream that you've had as much as you can stand until all of the neighbours come out and stare at you. Give up and go back in the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

Getting ready for arts and crafts
Take an egg box. Using a pair of scissors and a can of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take a toilet paper tube. Using only sellotape and a piece of toil, turn it into a Christmas tree. Lastly, take a milk container, a ping-pong ball and an empty box of cereal and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Taken directly from the Pampers Village Magazine UK (Month 8)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Mama ♥ Mila's Daydreams!


Stumbled upon this site one of those days. Adele Enersen is a genius! She comes out with these daydream scenarios while her baby naps and captures these precious little moments in such an original and creative way! Some might think of her work as bizarre but I think they are so sweet! If I am baby Mila, I would love a little daydream book featuring myself too! View more pictures here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And we're on!

http://discoveringpenang.blogspot.com/

Rachel Allen’s Lemon Cupcakes

Found out that it was a friend’s birthday yesterday. That meant opportunity to bake! What was next on the list? Rachel Allen’s Lemon Cupcakes of course! Inspired after watching her programme on AFC. Since the Madeira Marbled Cake was a success, the Lemon Cupcake should be good too!

The recipe I found online says this yields a dozen cupcakes. To my dismay, there was just enough batter for eight cupcakes! Even then, I had to scrape every single last bit out for that eight! So, instead of giving nine to our friend, I had to cut it down to just six and the balance two for ourselves.

The cupcakes were for a guy. I didn’t wanted to just present the cupcakes with just lemon buttercream spread on top as it may seem too feminine. So I incorporated a simple, fondant design and this was the result!
Wished the chocolate was of a darker shade but it was getting late...

Oh, and the Lemon Cupcakes tasted light and lemony but I would go for the Madeira Marbled Cake anytime! 

p.s. I also read a tip earlier - make a hole in the middle of the batter in the case to prevent cakes from cracking at the centre like mine here.

Chocolat Chaud

Dear hubby wanted to pay a visit to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Gurney Hotel, Penang branch along Gurney Drive after dinner last night. Since it was late and I didn’t want to lay in bed with eyes wide open, I ordered a cup of Hot Double Chocolate (with marshmallows) instead. It has been ages since I last had a cuppa yummy hot chocolate (with marshmallows!). Ahh... divine.....

I think I realised last night that I actually love chocolate. Not just any chocolates, but good, dark, rich chocolate. That’s why I also went for the chocolate cake at the cake counter. Yikes! And earlier, I was looking at all these chocolate cake recipes online!! Hmm...

Anyway, I bought a 454g tin of CBTL’s Special Dutch Chocolate Powder since it is now on offer at RM36 instead of RM45. I can make quite a lot of cups with this tin vs having them in the shop!
And the best part of it:

Hmm... time for another cup??

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rachel Allen’s Marbled Madeira Cake

I was watching a bit of tv yesterday and have fallen in love with Rachel Allen! She makes baking seem like a breeze and explains everything so simply that even if you are a first timer, you are bound to get it right!


The Marbled Madeira Cake she made yesterday looks divine and so easy to make that I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I jumped out of bed this morning and started baking. The result: an absolutely gratifying soft and aromatic cake that goes very well with a cup of hot tea! Even dear hubby who is not a dessert fan ate what seemed like a quarter of the cake at one go! The only thing I probably have to improve on is probably the marbling effect. Would love to see more swirls on the cake. Well, good enough reason for me to bake this cake again!


If you would like to try this marble cake yourself, here is what you have to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm springform pan.
2. Beat 225g soft butter till creamy.
3. Add 225g caster sugar and beat till soft and light.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and 2 tsp vanila extract.
5. Add the mixture gradually into butter and sugar and mix well.
6. Sift and fold in gently 225g plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder. 
7. Add 50ml milk and stir the mixture gently
8. Take half the batter out.
9. Sift and fold in 50g cocoa powder into one half of the batter.
10. Put a spoonful of vanilla and a spoonful chocolate batter alternately into the greased pan.
11. Using a skewer, swirl cake in any order for marble ripple. Don’t over swirl or you will lose the effect.
12. Pop into the oven for 45 mins or until skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
13. Remove from pan and indulge when cool!

Now next on the list, Rachel Allen’s Lemon Cupcakes!
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