Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Family day care WIP: a sneak peak

Phew… so as you can imagine, my days are currently chock full with paperwork and preparations for this new venture of starting my own family day care.

Here’s a quick glimpse of one of the play areas I’m currently setting up in my home...

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There’s still a number of things on my list to do, but I’m happily humming away like a busy bee.

In the meantime, here are some great links I’ve stowed away in my treasure box to share with you folks...

A fascinating read about using babies to fight bullying {I found the story about Darren the bully especially tear-jerking}

Do read this if you’ve ever felt embarrassed in church while you were hushing your baby’s cries or your toddler’s excited chatter

And these hilarious vintage computer ads totally made me LOL… Can you imagine, $3,398 for a 10MB hard disk! Here are some of my favourites...

Hilarious and Awesome Computer Ads from the Golden Age of PCs Hilarious and Awesome Computer Ads from the Golden Age of PCsHilarious and Awesome Computer Ads from the Golden Age of PCs Hilarious and Awesome Computer Ads from the Golden Age of PCs

{I am an avid collector and curator of all sorts of linky treasures, I aim to share a few little treasures here every month}

Linking up to Wednesday parties at Sakura Hakura,
Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle in the Eye

Figuring out fibre

{Sponsored Link}

Many of you know that I have a fussy eater in the house.

One of my biggest everyday challenges is trying to get my toddler to eat more fruits and vegetables. I have resorted to all kinds of tricks to get more fibre into his tummy.

Dieticians recommend that toddlers age 1-3 years should get 19 grams of fibre each day and children 4-8 years should get 25 grams of fibre a day to keep all those icky conditions like constipation, obesity and diabetes at bay.

Twenty five grams is a lot to consume. But I’ve discovered a few clever ways to sneak in those extra fruits, vegetables and fibre-packed foods into my everyday cooking...

 

French toast with sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are among the world’s top healthiest foods. This vegetable is rich in dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals. They are a great source of vitamin C to ward off cold and flu viruses, vitamin D for healthy bone development and iron for red and white blood cell production.

I always keep a stash of sweet potato puree in the freezer. They are so versatile to throw into various casseroles and soups for an added flavour and fibre punch. Here’s one of my favourite ways to sneak them in at breakfast:

6 slices of whole wheat bread
2 eggs
1/4 cup of sweet potato puree*
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Whisk eggs, sweet potato puree and cinnamon together. Dip the slices of bread into the egg mixture, then fry on a hot griddle or pan until golden brown on each side.

 

Avocado shake
Avocados have been called the world’s perfect food – they contain virtually all the essential nutrition and vitamins a person needs to survive. Avocados are a high-fibre, sodium- and cholesterol-free food, rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B-vitamins, as well as potassium.

I love the creamy texture of avocado and often use it in a variety of dips and sandwich fillings. Nathan’s favourite way to enjoy them is in the form of a ‘shake’. He can slurp this all up in one sitting and come back clamouring for more.

1 medium avocado
1 cup milk
2 tbsp honey

Place all the ingredients into a blender and whizz everything together until it’s smooth and creamy. Feel free to adjust the amounts of milk and honey to your preferred level of thickness and sweetness.

 

Devilled eggs with hidden carrot
Carrots are generally best known for their rich supply of beta-carotene. However they are also packed with a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients. Carrots are also loaded with soluble fibre. This type of fibre binds helps get rid of excessive cholesterol, which plays a role in lowering blood pressure and stabilising blood glucose levels.

Eggs are always a big favourite with Nathan. However, Nathan has a tendency to eat up all of his egg and leave aside the vegies on his plate. So this is a great trick for disguising the vegies and fibre inside.

4 eggs
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 cup carrot puree*
1/8 tspn salt
Paprika and pepper to taste (optional)

Simmer eggs in water until hard boiled. Cut eggs in half and remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise, carrot puree and salt. Fill each egg half with yolk mixture and serve with a sprinkle of paprika or pepper.

 

*To prepare sweet potato and carrot puree: Steam sweet potato for 40 minutes, scoop out flesh and puree in food processor; Peel and trim carrots then steam for 10 minutes and puree in food processor. You can portion out the purees and freeze them for later use.

Note: When introducing or increasing fibre to your diet, remember to add it slowly, little by little each day until you reach your fibre intake goal. Switching to a high fibre diet too quickly can cause constipation and cramps.

 

{All the contents of this post have been written personally by me
and includes a sponsored link for Dulcolax Australia}

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Another fairy comes to live with us

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand
pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.
And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy.
So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl”

(J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan)

Grace’s laugh captured on camera for the first time
(circa 3 months old)

Is there anything in the world that sounds more magical than a baby’s first gurgly gummy laugh?

If this fairy resembled the little baby’s laugh that brought her into being, I imagine she would be light and sparkly and love dancing and bouncing on teeny tiny twinkly toes.

Some things that get a chuckle out of little Grace...

  • Being held up to bounce up and down on her little feet
  • Big brother blowing raspberry kisses on her tummy
  • Getting butterfly kisses under her chin and neck
  • Playing “This little piggy” with mummy on her teeny toesies
  • Being tickled at just the right spot on her chubby belly (only daddy knows where)
  • Mummy singing “chicken drumsticks and charsiu bao” while pumping her chunky drumstick thighs and patting her plump squishy bum

Everyone in the family just enjoys finding new ways to push Grace’s giggle button.

[P.S. Thinking back to the time when fairy number one first came to live with us]

 

Linking up to Jess’s IBOT party

Friday, November 22, 2013

Totally doable rendang from scratch

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I always enjoy indulging in a good home-cooked rendang curry every now and then. However I’ve always relied on pre-packed sauces to skip all the pounding and grinding of spices from scratch.

But I’ve recently discovered this rendang recipe (courtesy of Jamie Oliver) which turned out to be surprisingly easy and tastes amazing! It’s totally doable. I’ve already cooked it three times last month. It can be whipped up in less than an hour and turns out wonderfully every single time.

Good things must always be shared. So here is the recipe...

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Ingredients
1 large brown onion (peeled)
6-8 cloves of garlic (peeled)
1 inch piece of ginger
2-3 chillies (depending on how spicy you like it)
A generous handful of coriander (approx 30 grams)
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 can of coconut milk (approx 375-400ml)
700-800 grams beef or chicken (cut into chunks)

Throw all the ingredients (except coconut milk and beef/chicken) into a food processor and blend it all up into a paste. This recipe is very forgiving and the exact amounts of each ingredient do not have to be absolutely precise. There is plenty of room for modification and experimentation.

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Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a wok, pour in the rendang paste and fry for about 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beef/chicken and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the meat is browned. Pour in the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer until meat is cooked through and liquid has reduced to a thick, creamy gravy. Remember to stir occasionally while cooking to prevent gravy from burning.

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If you’re using beef, depending on the cut of the meat, it may require a longer cooking time. I usually transfer it into a pressure cooker to tenderise the beef completely. You can also use leftover beef brisket as per the original recipe from Jamie Oliver.

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Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice, homemade paratha or chapati.

If you enjoy good curry, then trust me, you will absolutely LOVE this.

 

Linking up to DinoMama and
The Multitasking Mummy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Embarking on something crazy

I’m presently in the midst of embarking on a mega huge project. I think a lot of people will think I’m crazy to want to do this. Even the hubby thought so at first, actually I think he still does but he’s going to support me anyway.

So here goes (deep breath)...

I have decided to start my own Family Day Care!

For those of you who may not be familiar with this, a family day care is a small scale day care run in the carer’s own home.

It’s going to be exciting journey. There are some training courses I’ll need to undergo and adjustments to make around our house. My blogging and sewing may suffer a little during this time. However I’m planning to journal about this project and the process I’ll be going through to set up our day care here.

I plan to share about the application process, what I’ll be learning from the training courses, my home set up, craft and activity ideas and other related bits and pieces on this journey.

So stay tuned for more updates in this department.

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Looks like I’ll be seeing a lot more of these two!

 

Linking up to Jess @ IBOT

 

This is an exciting new venture I am embarking on to set up my own family day care. Throughout this journey, I will be sharing about this project, the application process, what I’ll be learning from the training courses, my home set up, craft and activity ideas and other related bits and pieces. Through this, I hope to support and connect with other fellow day care educators and also provide a little more awareness and insight for parents (and parents-to-be) on the set up and running of a family day care. You can follow along my updates under the family day care tag.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Simple homemade cheese paratha

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One of the best recent discoveries I’ve made is homemade parathas. They are surprisingly easy to make and are always a big hit with my in-house ‘customers’. It’s a nice change from the usual rice and pasta, and is the perfect accompaniment to jazz up a simple curry.

It’s a big favourite with Nathan, and I’ve found it to be one of the most effective ways to entice his somewhat fussy palate. Everything seems to taste nicer with a side of paratha.

Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cups of plain or wholemeal flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water (approx 150 ml)
1/2 cup grated cheddar/tasty cheese (for the filling)

Mix and knead the flour, salt and water together until it forms a dough. Pinch off and roll the dough into equal sized portions about the size of your palm.

Form a little hollow in the centre of each ball. Fill with grated cheese, then pinch the edges together to seal it up.

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Sprinkle some flour over and roll out the cheese-filled dough balls into flat round discs. Take care not to let the cheese filling squish out of the dough.

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Heat up your pan, drizzle some oil over, then cook the parathas as you would with a pancake. Allow to cook a minute on one side until lightly flecked with golden brown spots, then flip over and cook the other side. The paratha will puff up slightly while cooking.

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Serve with your favourite curry or enjoy it just as it is.

 

Linking up to Dinomama’s Foodie Fridays

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movie night in the park

Summer is upon us! And I’m absolutely loving it. It’s so good to get outdoors and play in the sunshine and bright sunny weather.

I don’t really mind the warmer weather. However the big downside for me is that the kids have been waking up earlier than usual due to the early sunrise. But that is after all the lure of summer... longer days for longer play time.

So last weekend we decided to head outdoors for a family movie night in the park by taking advantage of the free outdoor cinema at the Northbridge Piazza.

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We packed a picnic dinner (courtesy of Maccas), picked a spot on the green lawn and settled into the complimentary bean bags provided. They were playing one of Nathan’s favourites: Monsters Inc.

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So there we all were, sitting out in the sunshine, munching on burgers, nuggets and fries, sipping on icy cold carbonated drinks, with a giant LED screen playing a favourite flick – can it get any better than this?

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Grace wasn’t really into the movie, but she enjoyed herself anyway just sitting back and being part of all the action and excitement.

It was a fun day.

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Northbridge Piazza Free Outdoor Cinema
Corner of James & Lake Street, Northbridge, Western Australia
Open 24 hours a day showcasing a variety of films and presentations all year round
including Free Flicks for Kids

 

P.S. The next morning at breakfast as we were saying grace, Nathan piped in and asked if he could add a prayer: “Dear Jesus, thank you for daddy bring me to watch Sully blue monster and Mike green monster on the big TV and have a picnic, in Jesus name, Amen”. So spontaneous and sweet. And clearly, the movie picnic left a huge impression on him.

 

Linking up to Jess’s IBOT party

Saturday, November 09, 2013

I made this

Just a plug to something new I made recently...

Behold, The Ultimate Bib!

An all-in-one pocket bib + drool bib + burp cloth + pacifier holder + toy leash

These kids come in handy for testing and modelling stuff. I pay them with cookies and milk.

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And the hubby too... it’s important to check that my stuff is daddy-friendly as well.

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Further details available at Serenely Made and my Etsy Store.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Unwell

This week, Nathan caught a really bad case of tonsillitis. He has been unusually quiet and listless and not at all like his usual bumptious and bouncy self. I kept him home from day care today. He didn’t do much all day except sleep and have little sips of water in between. Poor thing.

During the few quiet moments between naps when he was awake, he was happy just to hang out quietly with his little sister, while I snapped photos of them to amuse us all.

Here are some snapshots of Nathan’s sick day at home…

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Asking baby sis for a little patDSC04394

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Keeping big brother companyDSC04411

Manage to coax a little smile out of him with baby’s gigglesDSC04393

My sleep has suffered a lot more these couple of days. But I know my poor boy must be suffering a lot more. He can barely even swallow his own saliva without wincing. But he is being such a little trooper trying his best to be as cheerful and good-humoured as he can even though he must be feeling awful.

This is the first time in I can’t remember how long that Nathan is matching his little sister’s baby sleep patterns throughout the day. I should be sleeping too. But I just couldn’t waste the precious quiet daylight time in bed.

Hope everyone is having a good week.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Hello, my name is Munchie the Owl

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Question of the day: How do you become the best mum ever?

Answer: Make a Bento lunch!

I have recently discovered this ingenious way to overcome some of the challenges with persuading my fussy eater to finish his meals.

So far I’ve kept it fairly simple by arranging small portions of various foods on his plate. I think it looks much les overwhelming than seeing a big mound of food piled up in a bowl.

I don’t do it for every single meal, but I try to at least once or twice a week to provide some variety and interest in the menu.

One day on a whim, I decided to arrange his simple lunch sandwich into a shape of an owl.

  • Body: tuna sandwiches, cut into small triangles
  • Eyes: rice crackers with vegemite
  • Beak: cheese slice, cut into a triangle
  • Wings and feet: apple pieces

I christened my creation, Munchie the Owl. He was very well received by his little audience. He didn’t live long as his sole purpose of existence was to be gobbled up by a hungry boy. So here ends the tale of Munchie the Owl.

Thank you for reading this random post.

 

Linking up to Essentially Jess @ IBOT

Monday, November 04, 2013

3 places to visit with your family at the Gold Coast

{Sponsored Post}

I remember my very first visit to the Gold Coast. I was 13 years old. My family were there on a big holiday touring the east coast of Australia. We had been to Sydney and Melbourne earlier in the week and finally came the big highlight for us kids: the golden beaches, curling blue waves and of course the thrilling theme parks of the Gold Coast.

Image Source

I have never forgotten that holiday and I definitely would love to go back again – especially now that I have my own kids, and experience all that fun and excitement again through the eyes of my children.

 

Here are three places I would love to check out with the family at the Gold Coast...

Currumbin Bird Sanctuary
A local tourism staple, just beyond the quiet hospitality of Kirra Beach, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is nestled in an emerald expanse of protected forest land, hosting various native fauna species. I think Nathan would totally enjoy cuddling a koala, getting up close among kangaroos and watching the various wildlife shows featured at the park, and so would I.

Natural Arch, Springbrook
Natural Arch (or Natural Bridge) in the Nurimbah Valley is apparently a well-kept secret normally reserved for locals in the know, with its pristine beauty and fascinating history. The biggest highlight of this place starts at night – featuring the largest glow worm colony in Australia. I have never seen glow worms before, but from a quick search on my browser I was blown away by the amazing photos of glow worm colonies on display at Springbrook. This is one definitely goes on to my bucket list.

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Wet ‘n’ Wild
And of course, no holiday at the Gold Coast would be complete without a trip to one of their flagship theme parks like Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark. Although I don’t know if I have enough adrenalin to survive their stomach churning rides... maybe at least one to get my heart pumping. But after that I would likely try to convince hubby to hire one of their private cabanas and chill out on a sun lounge with an ice cold drink while the kids get “wet and wild” in the pool nearby. Find out more by checking out themeparks.com.au on Facebook.

 

Do you have any favourite holiday places worth sharing?

 

* Disclosure: This is a sponsored post
by Village Roadshow Theme Parks

Friday, November 01, 2013

Knee Deep Wines, Margaret River

Okay, I think you regular readers should know by now that my blog is definitely not a foodie-restaurant-review type blog. I don't think I have ever written a restaurant review post before. So I'm definitely making history with this post because I cannot stop thinking and raving about this place.

A work associate of hubby's had highly recommended this restaurant and winery, Knee Deep Wines in Dunsborough. So during a family trip down to Margaret River a few weeks ago, we decided to pop in to check it out.

Mistake number one: Do NOT just 'pop by' this place on whim.

The restaurant is a very small with limited seating. They open only for lunch and are often fully booked out. Fortunately we were able to secure a spare opening the next day just before we were due to head home to Perth.

So the following afternoon, we made our way back to find out for ourselves what the fuss was all about. Bottom line: It far exceeded my expectations. I can confidently say, you will not be disappointed.

The ambience of the restaurant has an elegant and homey charm about it. I liked the bright and airy feel of the place with clear glass panels all around looking out to a lovely view of their winery.

We were welcomed with very good service upon arrival. We were initially assigned a very small table, but the hostess immediately offered to move us to a larger table seeing that we needed a highchair and had a baby pram in tow.

After getting us seated, our waitress thoughtfully brought over some colouring sheets and crayons for Nathan to keep him occupied while we perused the menu.

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Everything on the menu sounded so good! We settled on different dishes from the main course selection so we could have a small taste from each others’ plate.

We shared the entree of Esperance scallops and braised pork cheek. The only complaint I had was that the tiny portion didn’t allow us each of us more than a bite or two.

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I opted for the spiced venison with parsnip, persimmon and roasted chocolate. Yes, you read that right, roasted CHOCOLATE! The venison was cooked to perfection and the combination with the roast chocolate was surprisingly delightful.

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Hubs ordered the lamb breast and rump with smoked pumpkin and poached farro. The lamb was beautifully tender and juicy. And hubs said the sweetness of the pumpkin complemented it perfectly.

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Nathan thoroughly enjoyed his kids platter of fish and chips. The chips were cooked ‘gourmet’ style with the skin on, but he eagerly ate up everything (usually he can be rather fussy with his food – so that is certainly saying something).

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The only gripe was from hubby that the portions were rather small. On the other hand I thought the modest portions allowed us to thoroughly savour each and every bite.

If you happen to be in Margaret River, I definitely highly recommend this place. They change their menu seasonally so there should be something new to try out every now and then. Though do give them a call first to make a booking, especially on the weekends.

Knee Deep Wines
160 Johnson Road
Wilyabrup, WA
Ph: (08) 9755 6776

Open everyday 10am - 5pm; Lunch service 12 – 3pm

 

[I did not receive any compensation or payment for this review. This is simply a genuine personal recommendation as a very satisfied customer]