Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival

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Happy Mid-Autumn Festival everyone!

Enjoy eating mooncakes and playing lanterns and catching up with family wherever you are.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Have an awesome weekend

Our photo moment of the week

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The weekend is finally here! We’re enjoying an extra-long one here in Perth with the Queen’s Birthday holiday falling on Monday for us in Western Australia. My mum has just arrived for a month-long visit, so we might kick things off with a nice and easy-going outing with her this weekend.

Here is this week’s stash of linky treasures…

Top 50 most weirdly innovative shopping bags

Sinfully yummy strawberry butter (only three ingredients)

The sweetest little playset featuring The Princess & The Pea story

The flash cards in the photo above are from Mr Printables

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And a this beautiful poem titled ‘A Mother’s Prayer’

Oh give me patience when wee hands
Tug at me with their small demands.
And give me gentle and smiling eyes.
Keep my lips from hasty replies.
And let not weariness, confusion or noise
Obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
So when, in years to come my house is still
No bitter memories its rooms may fill.

(Author Unknown)

~~~

Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The most awesome fruit salad recipe

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A couple of weeks back I tried out this awesome fruit salad recipe to bring to a pot luck picnic.

The recipe came with a warning that it would be polished cleaned at any pot luck or gathering. I like coming back from pot lucks with an empty bowl so this sounded like a winner.

The original recipe featured grapes as the main fruit. But as they were currently not in season here, I used a mixture of other fruits:

Three green apples (cubed)
Three red/fuji apples (cubed)
One punnet of strawberries (sliced)
Plus half a can of pineapple (optional)

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To bring it all together is a sinfully rich but oh so yummy cream cheese dressing, which you just need to mix together:

Approx 200g cream cheese
Approx 100g sour cream
1/8 cup of icing sugar
A dollop of forest fruits yoghurt (optional)

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Combine everything together to create the most delicious fruit salad you’ve probably ever tasted…

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And yes, the bowl was completely cleaned out at the picnic – and I promise it wasn’t only because of me. I can’t wait for another excuse to make this again!

 

Linking up to DinoMama’s Foodie Fridays

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Some days…

We just live off the laundry pile

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Happy Wednesday!

(Just remember, we’ll be over the mid-week bump by tomorrow, so hang in there!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So how did we first meet?

Just because it’s nice to take a moment and look back at where we began…

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When…
During my university student days in Perth, Australia.

Where…
We happened to be attending the same church.

How…
I was serving in the children’s ministry (Sunday School) at church at that time. I was tasked to organise getting a tape recording of the Sunday sermon to circulate among the other kids ministry helpers who had to miss out on the main service… and the person in charge of the tape recordings was none other than… my future husband! (although I didn’t know it yet at that time).
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Then…
Our initial weekly exchanges to get hold of the latest sermon tape recording soon progressed on to regular online ICQ chats, then a couple of phone calls during the week, and soon we both realised that we couldn’t stop thinking about each other.

We both knew…
When he asked me out for ‘coffee’ one day and after some casual chit-chat we finally had the ‘serious conversation’ on how we felt and where this was going. Things definitely became ‘intentional’ from that point. I think the key phrase that sort of ‘locked’ us in this mutual intention was when he told me “I really like you and I want to move forward together with you”.

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And that is basically how our love story first began. Twelve years on, and now I’m married to this man and have a beautiful son together with him.

[P.S. More of my other ramblings and adventures on love and marriage]

 

This post was inspired by…
mamawearpapashirt

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Managing everyday cooking

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A common question I get asked by people who just found out that I juggle between work and parenting is so do you cook every day?

And the answer is: Yes. Pretty much.

But like most mums, I have my own back of tricks – pre-made stuff, shortcuts and freezer stash items. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy cooking. But, as much as I want to put together a picture perfect meal in Anthony Bourdain style, most days it’s a race against the clock to pull together a decent meal for my hungry boys.

My five favourite express-meal helpers include:

  1. Garlic infused olive oil – saves time on chopping garlic
  2. Dried anchovies (ikan billis) – for quick soups or a yummy fried topping
  3. My pressure cooker – soups, stews and casseroles made in half the time
  4. Classic cocktail of Chinese sauces – oyster sauce + soy sauce + kecap manis
  5. The freezer – where I stash pre-made stuff like frozen fishballs, Ikea meatballs, frozen veg, ready-made sauces as my instant fall-backs for meal preparations

So how does a typical weekday home-cooked meal look like at our household?

Here’s an overview of the meals I pulled together (generally in 30-40 minutes) and served up at the dinner table last week:

Monday ~ spaghetti in garlic olive oil with Swedish meatballs
Cooked some spaghetti and tossed them in a simple garlic-infused-olive-oil dressing, served with Ikea Swedish meatballs (from my freezer stash), and a side of home-made baked beans in tomato (pre-made from my freezer stash)

Tuesday ~ pork & veg soup, omelette, blanched kai-lan
Pressure-cooked a soup of pork bones, carrots, red dates and dried veg (pak choy kon), fried a simple omelette with bacon and spring onions, blanched kai-lan (chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce, served with steamed rice

Wednesday ~ anchovy soup, stir-fried beef, stir-fried tomatoes
Cooked a soup of dried anchovies, sweet potatoes and red dates, made a quick stir-fry of beef, onions and the classic cocktail of Chinese sauces, for the veg I stir-fried some chopped tomatoes with oyster sauce, served with steamed rice

Thursday ~ nasi lemak with my mum’s homemade sambal
Chopped an onion and fried it with my mum’s home-made sambal, boiled a couple of eggs, sliced up a cucumber, and fried a handful of dried anchovies to crisp them up, served with rice steamed in coconut milk

Friday ~ simple homemade pizza
My bread-maker is my trusty tool for this. For the base, I just throw in the dough ingredients into the bread-maker to knead everything together. In the meantime I chop up the vegetables and slice up some ham. After that it’s just a case of assembling everything together and popping it into the oven. Yummy way to round things off for the week!

I still sometimes have days where I feel like this…

Funny Family Ecard: Why do they want dinner every single night?

On days like this, my hubby will pat me on the shoulder and tell me that there’s no need to stress out, that’s what Dominos pizza or supermarket ready-made roast chickens and even KFC is for!

Have a good week ahead everyone!

Linking up to Susan’s Motivational Mondays

www.ajugglingmom.com

Friday, September 21, 2012

Have a terrific weekend

Our photo moment of the week

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Phew! I’ve had a pretty chaotic work on the office-work front – just lots of firefighting, ad hoc requests and conflicting deadlines. So I’m really glad the weekend is finally here. I’m planning to just chill and relax with my boys and do nothing in particular. Some weekends are perfect just like that.

Some linky treasures to ease you into your weekend…

Sweet and fun ways to describe the love of your life

DIY no-sew criss-cross headband

Homemade vanilla extract

20 beautiful and cool fonts for your computer

Yummy and healthy veggie packed carrot and zucchini cake

Have a terrific weekend folks!

~~~

P.S. More linky treasures and photo moments of the week

Homemade Snowskin Mooncakes

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It’s mooncake festival this month. Stores have started selling mooncakes since early August and we’ve succumbed to buying one or two cakes when we were out shopping.

This year I decided to venture to make my own mooncakes. After some research and scouting various recipes, I settled on making snowskin mooncakes. Mainly because I like them and they are rather hard to find in Perth… and because the recipe is actually a bit easier than the conventional baked version.

I found this recipe on fatboo.com to be the best one as it had detailed photos explaining the various ingredients and process.

Here is my version of the recipe…

For the homemade filling, I made three different types: red bean, black sesame, and a nutella flavoured one. All the filings start with a base of red bean paste.

First step is to prepare the red bean paste: Soak 1kg of red azuki beans in water overnight.

File:W azuki2111.jpgImage from wikipedia

The next day, transfer the beans into a pot, cover with water and cook until beans are soft. I used my pressure cooker which also worked very well.

After that, blend the cooked beans with the residual water in a food processor until it becomes a smooth paste.

Now comes the cooking process of the different types of filling. Here is the list of ingredients for each type:

Red Bean Filling
Approx 5 cups of the bean paste (about half of the whole amount prepared)
315g peanut oil (approx 1½ cups)
200g sugar (approx 1 cup)

Black Sesame Filling
Approx 3-4 cups of the bean paste (about a quarter of the whole amount prepared)
150g ground black sesame seeds (approx 1 cup)
280g sugar (approx 1¾ cups)
300g peanut oil (approx 1⅓ cups)

Nutella Flavoured Filling
Approx 3-4 cups of the bean paste (about a quarter of the whole amount prepared)
200g nutella (approx ¾ a cup)
100g sugar (approx ½ a cup)
150g peanut oil (approx ⅔ a cup)

Then it’s just a matter of combining everything together in a wok and stirring everything together over medium to high heat until it all comes together. At first all the ingredients will seem chunky and clumpy, but just keep stirring and periodically mashing some of the clumps of red bean. Eventually the oil and sugar will mix it together to make a beautiful paste

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Next up is the ingredients for the snowskin:
450-500g Fried Glutinous Rice Flour* (approx 4 cups – I used up the whole packet)
300g Icing Sugar (approx 2 cups)
270ml Cold Water (approx 1¼ cups)
30g Vegetable Shortening
A few drops of colouring or flavouring (I used pandan and almond essence)

*It’s very important that you get the FRIED glutinous rice flour and not the ordinary kind because the snowskin will not undergo any form of cooking.

*Tip: Set aside about ½ a cup of the flour for sprinkling on the dough when rolling it out.

Rub the shorterning in the flour with your fingers until the mixture develops a breadcrumb-like texture. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together to form a dough. Work and knead the dough with your hands until you get a smooth supple consistency.

Everything should come together pretty well, but the measurement of the ingredients is not an exact science, so you can sprinkle in a little flour or water as needed to bring everything together.

Now comes the fun part, shaping the mooncakes

Pinch off about a palm-size portion of the snowskin dough and about the same amount of the filling and roll each of them into a ball.

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Roll out the dough into a rough flat circle (about 3-4mm thick), place the ball of filling in the centre and wrap the snowskin around it.

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Press the dough and filling ball into a mooncake mould (I find it helps to dust the mooncake with a little flour first to avoid the dough sticking to the mould).

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Then flip it over and knock the mooncake out. Sometimes it takes a few knocks and taps to pop it out. It might take one or two tries to get the right thickness of skin that works for you.

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Beautiful and delectable snowskin mooncakes all ready to be devoured myself given away to friends.

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Happy Mooncake Festival everyone!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This is recipe is for a big batch – I made about 20 mooncakes based on this quantity. Feel free to scale the amounts down as needed if you want to make a smaller batch

 

Linking up to DinoMama’s Foodie Fridays :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Juggling two personas

With Nathan at the library petting zoo on my day off work

So Nathan is turning 21 months in a few days. Our lives went through a drastic change since his arrival. I got a taste of life as a SAHM, which then transitioned to a WAHM as I started working part-time from home, and then on going into the office a couple of days a week.

So where are things at now?

Well I now work three days a week as an analyst at a market research and consulting firm. The other two days are spent living out my SAHM persona, which believe or not, is more physically draining than my days at the office.

Whether for financial reasons or a desire to keep up with one’s professional/career development, many mums eventually decide to go back to work after having a baby.

Working part-time is currently the ideal arrangement for me. I love it because…

  1. I have time to really BE in my son’s life, to play with him, hang out with him, cook for him and just ‘mother’ him.
  2. I am able to keep my professional skills up to date and stay connected in my industry.
  3. I can get a lot of the laundry, cleaning and other housework out of the way during the week so we can spend quality time together as a family during the weekend
  4. It’s nice to have that additional income in our bank account for our household

There are drawbacks to working part-time (as opposed to working full-time) of course, the biggest ones for me include…

  1. Sometimes being forgotten or overlooked as a team member – out of sight, out of mind
  2. Missing out on casual office gatherings – no more after-hours drinks/hang-out time with colleagues
  3. Less opportunities to work on certain key projects due to my schedule
  4. Being passed over for advancements and promotions due to my seemingly ‘lower-value’ part-time role
  5. Sometimes running into grey areas working on my non-working days to meet urgent deadlines for clients
  6. Being out of the loop of office buzz and chit chat

Although the cons appear to outnumber the pros, the weight of the pros far outweigh the opposite end of the scale. It’s a logic that only those with children can truly comprehend.

I’m sure all parents would agree that even in the midst of sleep deprivation, a less clean house, having a more restrictive schedule, there is an inexplicable joy in the midst of all the chaos in having children that changes you to your core.

Linking up to Susan’s Motivational Monday Linky Party

www.ajugglingmom.com

Also, 7 tips on how I get organised for my work-in-office days

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have a play-ful weekend

Our photo moment of the week

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We’re having a fun-filled activity-packed weekend – with potlucks and picnics and barbeques and friends. I’ll be trying out the most awesome grape salad you’ve ever tasted (which I understand is guaranteed to be polished cleaned at any potluck). And if time allows, I’ll be also venturing to make snowskin mooncakes.

Some linky treasures to kick-start your weekend…

Zooey Deschanel rocking old-school wayfarer glasses

DIY earrings made from paperclips

Badass babywearing

15 ways to stay married for 15 years

And finally this lovely poem which is a great reminder for all parents:

I hope my children look back on today,
And see a Mother who had time to play!
Children grow up while you're not looking,
There'll be years ahead for cleaning and cooking,
So quiet now, cobwebs; dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

I want to be remembered as a mother who had time to play.

Monday, September 10, 2012

7 tips on how I get organised for a work-at-office day

Like all working mums, I juggle two personas between my work career and my role as a mum. I work part-time three days a week as an analyst at a market research consulting firm. On the other two days my SAHM/WAHM persona comes alive (read: play dates, mothers’ group, story time sessions and the like).

Both types of days are busy and activity packed, but with work-in-office days I pretty much can’t miss a beat, especially the first part of the day before heading out the door.

So here are the things I do to make sure that everything runs smoothly the moment the alarm clock goes off in the morning:

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#1. Prepare a packing list: Although most things are pretty standard, it’s strange how easy it is to miss something. So after several episodes of important items being left out, I finally prepared a Comprehensive List of everything that needs to go in the bag. I can tell you that having a list really makes life so much easier. Saves brainpower in trying to remember to pack this and that or being worried that I’ve forgotten something.

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#2. Pack office and day care bags the night before: Having everything packed and ready to go in the morning is definitely the most basic thing to do to avoid the last minute scramble.

#3. Pack items straight out of the laundry: I save time by placing change-of-clothing/nappies into the day care bag straightaway as they come out off the dryer/clothes line. Cuts down the effort of folding and putting away items into the wardrobe and taking them out again at packing time.

#4. Lay out outfits the night before: This goes both for Nathan as well as for myself. For me it definitely avoids the long pause in front of my wardrobe figuring out what to wear. For Nathan it just makes things simpler to just pop him into his outfit when he wakes up. When he’s older I think it would help to have everything ready so he dress himself.

#5. Lay out breakfast things the night before: Cereal, bowls, cutlery… and whatever brekkie stuff we’re having the next morning.

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#6. Prepare lunches ahead of time: I usually cook a bit extra for dinner the day before so we can have the leftovers for lunch the next day. If we’re having sandwiches, I try to prepare all the components before hand so everything can easily assembled.

#7. Delegate specific tasks ahead of time: I think it’s common for women to take on every single aspect of the preparation process. I’m not entirely sure why. We prepare everything, wake up earlier the next day and do everything. Somehow asking men to help out with this and that on the spot gets rather stressful. So the key I’ve found is to communicate and delegate specific things for my man to do beforehand or give him a consistent task to be in charge of. And leave him to it. Don’t hover.

Linking up to Susan’s Motivational Monday on tips for being more productive

www.ajugglingmom.com

P.S. 7 Brekkie ideas for bubby for breakfast preparations ahead of time

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Have an awesome weekend

Our photo moment of the week

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What are you up to this weekend? We had a chilly blast of weather in Perth earlier this week, so I’m planning to do a ‘soupy’ weekend and cook up a few warm and cosy soups.

Came across some really cool stuff which really blew my mind and really made me realise that we are SOOOOO living in the 21st century!

I’ve picked the following new ‘battery juice’ technologies to share with you guys…

A portable fuel cell charger that runs on water which can be used to charge mobile devices or digital cameras.

Power Felt – a thermoelectric fabric that converts body heat into power to charge mobile devices whilst inside its owner's pocket.

A Richard Nicoll handbag that charges your phone while you’re on the go.

Stationary bikes set up at tables where people can generate their own power to charge their devices whilst having meetings or exercising.

New shoe technology that lets you charge your phone while you walk or run.

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Have an awesome weekend folks!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Family kissing on the mouth

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One of the most delicious things in the world to me is getting a big slobbery kiss from my little boy right smack on the mouth. Yes, that’s right. Turns out I am one of those weird moms who kiss their babies on the mouth.

To tell you the truth, my family does not practice the kiss-on-the-mouth thing with each other. In fact I used to think it was weird and a little icky whenever I saw other parents and children doing it.

But a few months back one afternoon, hubs arrived home from work and I greeted him at the door with a kiss. Nathan was standing next to me watching this exchange intently.

He immediately started tugging at my shirt excitedly exclaiming “keeess! keeess!”. So I knelt down and started turning my cheek toward him, but he just went ahead and planted a big wet one right on my mouth.

It was really wet and slobbery.

But also so delicious and sweet… and it felt just so natural and right.

I was hooked.

Since then, our private family kisses are all received on the mouth. Yes, it goes for hubby too. Nathan absolutely insists upon it.

As he grows older, I’m quite certain he will eventually transition away from this practice. But for now, I shall cherish the feeling of those silky baby lips against mine every day, as long as it lasts.

I realise though that some people don’t feel comfortable with this idea. I’m wondering, am I the only one who does this? Or is it more common than we think?

 

P.S. A great post about kissing babies on the mouth.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

10 things my son does that amaze me

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I haven’t posted an update on Nathan in a while, but rest assured that he is growing and developing and learning new things all the time. Not a day goes by without some new discovery.

Anyway be prepared for some mummy-gushing over her son’s awesomeness. I know every kid is probably learning and developing new skills all the time just like mine. Nevertheless it still never fails to blow my mind every time my boy does something new.

So at just over one-and-a-half years old (20 months to be exact)… here are 10 things that Nathan does which amaze me:

  1. Call all his regular friends, carers and family members by name. He already can tell me the names of all his buddies at day care.
     
  2. Able to ask specifically to chat to his grandparents (po-po and gung-gung) on Skype.
     
  3. Recognise and name the primary colours yellow, red, blue, and also green.
     
  4. Count from one to ten. And fill in missing number sequences too. This one is hubby’s absolute favourite. I imagine he’s already dreaming about having  math prodigy in the house.
     
  5. Name at least 20 animals (and also make the corresponding animal noises for about 10 of them)
     
  6. Loves role playing tea-time and cooking games with me and his teddy bears.
     
  7. Help with setting the table for meals – e.g. carrying peanut butter, nutella and honey jars to the table, and setting out his own little plate and cutlery.
     
  8. Put away his toys at the end of the day when it’s time to go to bed.
     
  9. Determinedly spoon-feed himself cheerios with milk, and rice with soup (messily but gets it into his tummy)
     
  10. Enjoys foods with a little bit of a spice kick. He’s tried spicy-dim-sum-pork-ribs, beef rendang and various Indian curries at day care. I still keep things mild just to be on the safe side.

And here’s another bonus item: on Sunday afternoon, we scored our second successful unprompted poop-in-potty. This one was definitely not accidental. Nathan deliberately told me he needed to do a poo and held it in until he was seated in the potty. And he have not even begun officially potty training yet!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Have a wonderful weekend

Our photo moment of the week

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Today is officially the first day of spring down under and it’s also Fathers’ Day in Australia this Sunday. Do you have any special plans with your dad or family members this weekend?

We went out for a picnic at Araluen Botanic Park today (the spring flowers were absolutely gorgeous). And on Sunday we’re planning to go flea market shopping to pick up some treasures from other people’s junk.

Anyway here is this week’s instalment of linky treasures…

A totally new perspective on the definition of true love

10 conspicuously expensive purchases, including a $666 douche burger

What modern day wardrobes of Disney princesses would look like

And 5 things fathers should teach their little boys

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Happy Fathers’ Day and have a great weekend!