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January 2015

Saturday, 31 January 2015

It's a new year! A new beginning! 

I have made myself a number of resolutions, but I shall not divulge them on the blog because I am not a good keeper of resolutions. Yes, all my past years resolutions all ended without fulfilling or got rolled over to the following year.

And because this year marks a very important turning point in my life, I have told myself to pull up my socks real high to make this year a fulfilling one. 

This month, I tendered my resignation from work. Not to job-hop, but to take on a very important job that has been calling for me for quite some time. I have been on this job on a part-time basis and as much as I would like to put in 100% of my time into it, it wasn't possible in the past. Now is the right time. I am going to be a Full Time Mother in a month's time! Come clap for me!

Here's what we have been up to this month.

We went to West Coast Park for some riding and sand play. Small J initially didn't dare to go to the sand area and koala bear to me. After some encouragement and showing him how the sand feels like, he was able to enjoy it. After a while, he don't mind having sand all over him and spend the rest of the evening digging and pouring sand.




We had our usual outdoor / playground time.



We tried out Zoomoov and it was so fun for the boys. It costs $5 per ride and $10 for 3 rides. We bought 3 rides. Each ride is about 5 minutes.



Since we are just one month away from Chinese New Year, we are busy doing spring cleaning almost every weekends. We had tackled the kitchen and our bedroom. Coming up next will the the playroom and the living room. There's going to be more de-cluttering to do.

On the blog front, I am busy preparing for my upcoming series which will be published in March. I have also been planning learning activities to do with the boys. Busy months ahead! But it's going to be fulfilling!

In preparation of being a full time Mom, I have been training real hard on my cooking skills. I wrote down all the dishes that I have prepared in My Cooking Journey.

January is also the month when Small J turns Eighteen. I am hoping see more of his milestones in the future.

I recently wrote about the Guilts that I faced during the past 3 years plus of motherhood. I am glad that these guilts will get lesser as I become a full time Mom.

So, cheers to a new beginning!




My Cooking Journey #9: Huai Shan Pork Ribs Soup, Fried Egg with Minced Meat and Tofu, Steamed Fish

Thursday, 29 January 2015

During the past few months of cooking, I realise that sometimes it might not be cheaper to cook at home compare to eating outside. This is due to the fact that I seldom cook, maybe once or twice a week, and hence the lack of savings from bulk buying. 

Our family is not big, two adults and two small children who do not eat a lot. Thus, I always have left over unused ingredients. These are not used for another dish because the next time I cook could be in another week's time. Usually I will pass these to my Mom so she can use up the ingredients during the weekdays.

Therefore, I have started taking note of how much it cost us to cook a meal. Here's our menu for last week and I will show you the cost break down at the end of the post.


Huai Shan Pork Ribs Soup

Pork Spare Ribs
Huai Shan
Mushroom
Carrot

1. Blanch the spare ribs. Wash and set aside. Spare ribs have a lot of loose bones, so wash thoroughly.
2. Put all ingredients in pot and boil for 15 minutes. Lower fire and simmer for about 2 hours.
3. Season with salt and pepper (optional).

Spare Ribs - $4.29 
Huai Shan - $1.50 (bought $2.22 used about 2/3)
Mushroom - $2.00 (bought a pack for $4.75 but only use half for the soup and fish)
Carrot - Free, got this from Mom's
Total - $7.79



Fried Egg with Minced Meat and Tofu

2 Eggs
150g Minced Meat
1 Tube Egg Tofu
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Oyster Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Five Spice Powder
Dash of Pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Pour the egg mixture to a frying pan and fry till both sides are golden brown. You will have to pour the mixture in batches.

I first tried this dish in a restaurant. It was very delicious and got me trying this out in my kitchen. The fragrance from the five spice powder and the softness of the tofu give this egg a special texture and taste. You really got to try this out. You can adjust the seasonings to your taste but the most important is the five spice powder.

Eggs - $0.44 ($2.20 for a pack of 10)
Minced Meat - $1.90
Egg Tofu - $0.88
Total - $3.22



Steamed Fish

1 Fish Fillet (Toman Fillet)
1 Tomato
3 Mushrooms, sliced
Ginger, sliced
Drizzle of Sesame Oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Marinate the fish with salt and pepper for a while.
2. Put the fish on a steaming plate and arrange mushrooms, tomato and ginger on the fish.
3. Drizzle sesame oil over the fish.
4. Steam till cooked.

Fish - $4.02
Tomato - $0.20
Mushroom - $0.50 (estimated)
Total - $4.72

I used to only buy cod fish or salmon but these are so expensive. It costs close to $10 to have a fish dish. So now I try to buy other type of fish which is cheaper.

This meal serves 2 adults and 2 children (1 and 3 years old). I think 3 adults is also doable. 

The total for this meal is $15.73. This is excluding rice, utilities and time spent. Cheap? I'm not sure. Healthy? Definitely. This is the reason why I try to cook even if it could be more expensive and time-consuming.

If you have any cost saving tips when it comes to cooking, leave me a comment below.


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My Cooking Journey #8: Cheesy Bread Rolls

Monday, 26 January 2015

Our usual breakfast on a weekend morning is usually boring bread, steamed buns, Lo Mai Kai or Chee Chung Fun. All these are very easy and fast to prepare, just steam and eat!

I decided to prepare something different. How about some Cheesy Bread Rolls? 


You will need:
Bread
Egg, beaten
Bread crumbs
Cheese
Oil or Butter

Method:
1. Roll a slice of bread flat.
2. Place cheese on bread and roll it up.
3. Dip the bread roll in the egg.
4. Roll the bread roll in the bread crumbs.
5. Heat up some oil or butter in the pan.
6. Place the bread roll in the pan and pan fry it till golden.
7. Dish it out and let it cool. Cut the bread roll into small pieces and serve.

The boys were so eager to try this out but I had to stop them because the cheese was still too hot. So remember to serve them to your kids when these had cool down. 

For adults, you can add in ham or hotdog, like this.



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My Cooking Journey #7: Chicken Soup, French Beans, Stir-fry Pork with Ginger

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Being a FTWM (full-time working mum) means there's not much time to cook. On weekdays, we settle our dinner at my mum's. Weekend is usually packed with activities and hence cooking time is also limited. I make it a point to cook at least once per week. These are what we had last week.


Chicken Soup

1 Chicken carcass
8 Chicken mid-wings
2 Carrots
2 Potatoes
1 Onion

1. Blanch the chicken. Wash, remove skin and fats and set aside.
2. Put all ingredients in pot and boil for 15 minutes. Lower fire and simmer for about 2 hours.
3. Season with salt and pepper (optional).

No salt added for my case since we are sharing the meal with our little ones.


Stir-fry French Beans

1 packet French beans
6 Meat balls
Carrot cut into strips
Chicken stock
Garlic

1. Heat oil and fry garlic till fragrant.
2. Add in french beans and stir-fry.
3. Add in meat balls and carrot. Continue to fry.
4. Add in chicken stock. I use the chicken soup from above. Amount is estimation, just enough not to let the beans chao tar.
5. Cover and let it simmer so that the beans will cook thoroughly and soften. Serve.

You may season with salt and pepper to your taste. I didn't add because I am using the chicken soup as flavouring. The beans taste sweet because of the soup.


Stir-fry Pork with Ginger

Sliced Pork
Ginger
Garlic

Marinate:
1 tsp Cornflour
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Soy sauce
1/2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp Oyster sauce

1. Marinate the sliced pork with the marinate for about 30 minutes. 
2. Heat oil and fry ginger and garlic till fragrant.
3. Add in marinated pork.
4. Stir fry till cooked and serve.

This is very good to eat with rice. I used pork fillet here because it is not tough when cooked and is easier for the kids to eat.

Both Js share all the dishes. For Small J, I 'washed' the pork with the soup before giving him the pork.

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A Staycation @ RWS - Day 2.5 & 3: Wings of Time and Packing List Printable

Monday, 19 January 2015

We have come to the last night of our staycation. After the luge, we went to watch the Wings of Time show. 


We booked the 8.40pm show as we heard that the crowd is lesser. Tips: Enter through the gate on the right, near the Skyline Luge area. The queue here is shorter. As you can see, there are still plenty of seats on the right side, while the left side is almost fully seated.



We grabbed our seats and watched the show.






The show is very spectacular and we left the show with the very catchy theme song in our mind.

After the show, we proceed back to our hotel. We had a quick supper while Small J was happily scribbling away.


We stayed at the lounge for a while because there was a live band performing there. It was a long time ago since we chill out. Small J enjoyed the songs and was dancing around.




The next day, which is our check-out day, we went to the pool. Small J is delighted to check out the sandy pool.


This marks the end of our 3 days 2 nights staycation. Check out the fun we had on the first two days.

A Staycation @ RWS - Day 2.0: Adventure Cove Waterpark, Skyline Luge
A Staycation @ RWS - Day 2.5 & 3: Wings of Time and Packing List

Packing for a staycation is not easy, especially if children are going too. Here is a list of things that we packed for our staycation. We packed a few days in advance and ticked off those that we have packed. We kept this list in the luggage until the very last minute that we left our house. This is very useful because the moments before you leave the house is always the busiest and most likely will missed out on certain things. Hope this will be useful for you if you are planning a staycation.


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My Cooking Journey #6: Spinach Soup, Steam Egg, Coke Chicken Wings

Friday, 16 January 2015

Dinner for last week was very simple. We were on a mission of spring cleaning and de-cluttering the house, so there's not much time to cook. Here goes.


Spinach Soup

Garlic
Ikan Bilis (washed)
Dry Scallops (washed and soften)
Water (the amount of soup you want)
Fishballs
Spinach
Egg (beaten)
Pepper

1. Heat some cooking oil in the pot.
2. Add in garlic, ikan bilis and scallops and stir fry till fragrant.
3. Pour in water and let it boil for 15min. Turn to small heat and let it simmer for 1 hour.
4. Strain the soup to remove the ikan bilis and scallops.
5. Turn heat up, add in fishball and spinach and cook till both cooked.
6. Add pepper to taste.
7. Off heat. Pour in egg and stir. Serve.

You may add some salt to taste. I did not add any salt because there there's already saltiness from the ikan bilis and scallops.



Steam Egg
2 Eggs
200 ml water / stock
Salt and Pepper (Optional)

1. Beat 2 eggs and add in the water or stock.
2. Strain the egg mixture into the steaming plate.
3. Cover with cling wrap or a lid during steaming.

The rule of thumb for the steam egg is 1 part egg to 2 parts liquid. In my case, my eggs are 55g each, so liquid used is about 200ml. Straining the egg mixture and covering it while steaming will give you a smooth texture. I used the ikan bilis soup base from the above spinach soup instead of water. This adds flavour to the egg and hence I omitted the salt. Before eating, you can also add some soy sauce and sesame oil over the egg.



Coke Chicken Wings

Marinate:
1 tsp Light soy sauce
1 tsp Dark soy sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil

8 Mid-wings
2 slices of Ginger
2 cloves of Garlic (no need to chopped)
200ml Coke

1. Marinate the wings in the marinate for about half hour.
2. Heat up some oil in the pan. 
3. Add in ginger, garlic and wings. Fry the wings till brown.
4. Pour in the Coke.
5. Let it simmer for about 15 mins till the sauce is reduced and thickened.


Big J shares all the dishes with us and we limit him to only one piece of chicken wing. Small J shares the soup and egg.

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Eighteen

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Dear J,

Congrats on turning 18! 18 months might seems like a long time, but to me, it seems like you were just born into my arms. 

This is you when you were just 1 day old.


And this is you now at 18 months old. Except for the amount of hair which looks pretty much the same, you look so different now.


You are such a confident toddler. You can walk, run, climb anywhere. You always give me a heart attack when I see you on the table. You can climb up and down the stairs holding on to our hands or the wall.

You are still a big drooler. All your photos show you with a bib all the time. I do hope you will stop drooling soon because you drip your saliva all over the floor everywhere you go and leaving the smell of your saliva on us. Ewwee... Most of your teeth are already out. The truth is I didn't really go count the number of teeth you have. 


Your favourite toy is ball. Whenever you see anything that is round, you will go 'ba ba' (ball) and you will get angry if you can't get the ball. You love throwing and kicking the ball. Seeing the way you kick the ball is so cute!

Another favourite of yours is car. Which is Kor Kor's favourite too. So we often see the two of you fighting over the toys. You show that you are not a push over by shouting louder and fighting fiercer than Kor Kor. Oh... I can imagine more fights between you two in the future.


Your favourite word is 'mum mum' as in food. Everything that looks edible to you is food! It doesn't matter if it is really edible or not or how it taste, you just simply want to put them into your mouth. After eating or drinking your milk, you will return the bottle or bowl back to the kitchen sink and give yourself a big clap. Good job!

Here are some of the words that you are using now:
Ba Ba (Daddy)
Ma Ma (Mummy...that's me!)
Kor Kor
Ba Ba (Ball)
Mum Mum (Food / Eat)
Bao (Bread)
Pain Pain
Mo Mo (No more)
No (Nose)
Yeas (Yes and nods head)
No (No and shakes head)
Car
Bas (Bus)

You also understand words that we say because when we ask you, you are able to point to the object. You know how to bring your shoes to us when we are going out and to keep your shoes back when we are back.

Just recently, we went to West Coast Park for some sand play. You love exploring the sand and spend the whole evening there digging, pouring the sand into the bucket and then pouring everything out and start over again. So go on and explore the world!


Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Daddy
Mummy
Kor Kor


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Mommy's Guilt

Monday, 12 January 2015

Ever felt guilty towards your children on your parenting journey? These are 10 moments which I felt super guilty and sorry for both Js.

1) When I have to wake them up super early in the morning because I need to leave for work.

2) When I have to leave them behind crying because I need to rush for work after leaving them at the care arrangement.

3) When I am spending more time at work looking at the computer than looking at them. 

4) When I have to hide in the kitchen to drink that glass of cold drink or eat that ice-cream because they are sick and I do not want to disappoint them because they can't have it.

5) When I am out on a couple date and feeling all guilty of leaving them at home.

6) When bringing both of them for an outing alone is impossible and I can only choose one of them to bring along.

7) When they are sick and I am hoping that I am the one who is sick to take away their sufferings.

8) When I think I am the one who passed the virus to them causing them to be sick.

9) When I am sick and not being able to kiss or hug them or to play with them.

10) When I feel that I am not doing the best I can even though they might feel that I am the most wonderful mummy in the world to them.


What are your Mommy's Guilt?


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My Cooking Journey #5: One Pot Fish & Mushroom Pasta

Thursday, 8 January 2015

I love cooking one pot meals because it is so easy to clean up. Just need to wash a pot after cooking! One pot meals is a must learn for busy moms. Erm...you don't even need to learn because it is so easy peasy.

I first came across this One-Pan Pasta from Martha Stewart. I didn't know that we could so easily cook a pot of pasta. I cook pasta quite often even before I came to know of this recipe because Big J loves any kind of noodles dishes. I used to think cooking pasta is quite inconvenient because you need to cook the pasta in a pot and the ingredients in another pan. The sizzling of the ingredients on the pan also means oil splattering all over. So, one pot pasta is really a great saviour especially during crazy busy time.

You can basically include any ingredients you like, add water and boil it out. Since this is so versatile, I have cooked different versions before. This time I cooked a One Pot Fish Pasta.


Ingredients


The Basics:
1 punnet Cherry Tomato
Pasta of your choice
1 Onion
2 cloves Garlic (or more if you like)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
Water (slightly less than the ingredients)

The Variations:
Sliced Fish
Mushrooms
Baby Corn
Butter
Spices (Eg Italian spices, basils, rosemary, etc)


Method:


1. Place everything in a pot.
2. Pour water into the pot. The amount of water should be slightly less than the ingredients.
3. Turn heat on high and let it boil.
4. Stir and turn the pasta and let it cook till the water has almost evaporated.
5. Serve.


A lovely plate of pasta. It is sweet with a tangy taste of tomatoes. I tend to cook it more soupy because we like the gravy. The boys slurped up all the pasta. 

If you like a more creamy pasta, you could add in milk or cream. You can also add chicken, pork, prawns, scallops or vegetables. For healthier version, you can leave out the salt and butter. It's all up to you!

Note: You might need to add in the ingredients at different timing especially when you have ingredients that tends to overcooked or some that takes a longer time to cook. For example, the next time I cook this again, I would want to add in the fish last because fish cooks very fast and it might be overcooked.

Food sharing: I share this with my 3 years old preschooler and 18 months old toddler.

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My Cooking Journey #4: Oreo Cheesecake

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

We love Oreo Cheesecake. I have made non-baked Oreo Cheesecake for quite a couple of time. This time, I came across a recipe of this Oreo Cheesecake from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe. This is a baked version and doesn't requires the beating of whipped cream. I hate beating whipped cream because I always tend to over-beat. Since it was Daddy J's birthday, I thought to bake a cake for him and this was the recipe I had chosen to try.


This cake is not the cottony type of cheesecake. It's the creamy type which we like. I used half a recipe because we couldn't finished such a big cake and it will be more expensive to bake the bigger cake. Cheese is not cheap ya know? 

The outcome of the cake might not look nice but it is indeed very delicious! The next time I bake this again, I will not include Oreo in the cheese layer because it feels too Oreo-ly. Just Oreo at the bottom and top layer would be just nice for us.

The original recipe is HERE. There is a step by step instructions with photo which you can follow.

I have adapted the recipe as follows:

Crust (Bottom) Layer

200g Oreo Cookies (Cream removed)
55g Butter 

1. Melt the butter. You can melt it over a warm water bath. I melt it using the milk bottle warmer.
2. Crush the Oreo. You can put the cookies in a ziplock bag and crush it with something hard. I use a food processor, so it makes everything easier. 
3. Pour the melted butter into the crushed Oreo and mix them together.
4. Pour everything into a 8 inch springform pan and press it down evenly. You can use a normal baking pan but it might be harder to remove the cake at the end.
5. Let it chill in the fridge while you prepare the cheese layer.

Cheese Layer

250g Cream Cheese
250g Mascarpone Cheese
140g caster sugar
2 eggs
80g Oreo cookies (Cream removed and crushed)

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. 
2. Mix the cream cheese with the sugar till creamy. I mix everything using my food processor.
3. Add in the mascarpone cheese and mix well.
4. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well.
5. Add in the Oreo.
6. Take out the pan from the fridge and pour the batter into it.
7. Wrap the pan with aluminium foil and place it onto another bigger pan.
8. Fill the outer pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the inner pan. This is call water bath method.
9. Steam bake for about 1 hour. Try not to open the over while baking because the drop in temperature will cause the cake to shrink. 
10. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven for 30 mins to an hour to let it slowly cool down.
11. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on the wire rack for about an hour.

Top Layer

60g Oreo (Cream removed and crushed)

1. Sprinkle the crushed Oreo over the cake.
2. Let it chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving. 

We can't wait to try out the cake and cut it after letting it chill for about 4 hours. Well, rushing is not good because the cake is not cold enough and doesn't taste as nice. When we tried again at night, the cake is cold and nice.

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A Staycation @ RWS - Day 2.0: Adventure Cove Waterpark, Skyline Luge

Monday, 5 January 2015

It's the 2nd day of our staycation. Small J slept very well because he was so exhausted from the activities on the 1st day

So, we woke up to the sound of music from the pool. If not for the music, I think we would have slept through the day. Today, we planned to spend most of our day at the Adventure Cove Waterpark. As our booking for the room did not come with breakfast, we quickly ate our bread which we bought from BreadTalk the previous night.


Our first stop was the Adventure Cove Waterpark. This is our second time here and Small J's first. The first time we came, I was still preggy with Small J and didn't managed to try out any of the rides. This time, I wanted to try out the rides, even though I am a scaredy cat. We first deposited our belongings in the locker and off to our adventure.



We didn't managed to take much photos here because our phones and camera are not waterproof and it's difficult to handle a toddler and a camera at the same time.

Small J joined us at the Bluwater Bay, Adventure River and stayed at the Seahorse Hideaway most of the time, playing with the other toddlers there. He didn't like the Big Bucket Treehouse because of the water falling on his head. 


Despite always loving water play, he was quite scared when we first started at the Bluwater Bay. Perhaps the waves were on at that time and he was paranoid when the waves came crashing at his feet. After spending more time around the park, his fears were gone and enjoyed the rest of the day.

This time, Daddy J helped to look after Small J while I got the chance to try out some of the adventure rides. It was fun but it could have been better if Daddy J could accompany me. Oh, and I sprained my neck while on the Riptide Rocket. Even though we might not be able to go on most of the rides, we were happy to have spent the day together as a family.

After spending a day at the waterpark, we went back to our hotel, had a quick wash up and out we go again! By this time, Small J was really tired. Luckily, I have my trusty Manduca carrier and he managed to catch a wink...


... until we reached the Skyline Luge.


I didn't do my homework. I thought Small J would be able to ride together with us, but there is a minimum height of 85cm, which Small J is below that. So no choice, Daddy J and me had to take turns to ride alone. I tell you, it is pretty scary up there, especially when you have no one to hold on to. I could feel butterflies in my tummy throughout my ride up. I tried to focus on the scenery which helped a little bit.




PS, remember to choose a correct helmet. Don't be like me, choose a helmet which is too big and it fell off half-way down. Don't forget your mosquito repellent too.


While we were up there, Small J was happily eating his raisins. Of course that didn't last him long. 


I shall leave the activities we did at night for another post. Till we catch up again!

A Staycation @ RWS - Day 2.0: Adventure Cove Waterpark, Skyline Luge
A Staycation @ RWS - Day 2.5 & 3: Wings of Time and Packing List

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