Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dropping naps and Lego busy-bags

At three and a half years old, the inevitable is now happening: Nathan is gradually cutting back his nap times.

I knew this day would come some day.

But I confess that I’m grieving a little bit over this development.

As much as I treasure every single moment of the day spent together with my kids. I still breathe a huge sigh of relief once all the kids are nestled soundly in their beds for two hours of quiet solace.

But then I decided, just because Nathan doesn’t need his rest time, doesn’t mean I don’t need mine.

That’s when I discovered the magic secret of busy-bags.

I stumbled across them one day while browsing on Pinterest and was completely enthralled by them. There was such a enormous variety of busy-bags… but which ones would truly appeal to Nathan. Just because they appealed to me, does not necessarily mean that they would appeal to him.

Then it struck me. There was ONE toy which definitely has it’s hooks on him. LEGO!

He could play with them all day, every day if he could. But for now, because of the nature of Lego and their hundreds of tiny pieces, I don’t consider them a safe toy to play with younger children present. So we only let him play with the Lego set on weekends when there are no other family day care kids around.

So in that moment of epiphany, I assembled four sets of Lego busy-bags. One in each particular colour.

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Each set contains some basic building bricks, wheels, plus a few unique ‘stand out’ pieces that make each set different from one another. And of course a little Lego man in the appropriate matching colour.

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And now every day at nap time (or rest time), Nathan selects a particular bag as his chosen busy-bag to take with him to his room. It is now a special privilege he looks forward to every afternoon.

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He can tinker around with the pieces quietly in his room to his heart’s content while the other children are napping, and mummy gets some quiet time to herself as well.

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Sometimes he dozes off after tinkering with the Lego for a while. Sometimes he doesn’t. Either way, I don’t really mind as long as every one in the house is having some quiet time to themselves to rest and wind down.

Do you do busy bags for your little ones?
How did you manage the nap-dropping phase with your toddler?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bye-bye little caterpillar

So I know it’s been quite a while since my last caterpillar update. All winter long actually. Because apparently that’s how long our caterpillar has been lying asleep in it’s cocoon.

But all winter-long, we’ve garnered plenty of inspiration for all sorts of activities around our little caterpillar. We’ve read caterpillar books. Painted caterpillars and butterflies. Talked about the life cycle of butterflies. And did all sorts of caterpillar and butterfly themed crafts and activities.

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“Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar” food and letter recognition activity (from A Little Pinch of Perfect)

Nathan had definitely not forgotten the little caterpillar. Every now and then, he would always ask to look at our cocoon to see if it had turned into a butterfly yet. But nada.

I started to get a little worried about the little caterpillar. After all this was not one of the most conducive environments to sleep in. Especially with a curious little boy picking up the box every week or so to check on it’s progress. And there was that one time when he forgot to put the box back on the shelf, and baby sister found the box and started banging and knocking the box violently. Poor little caterpillar!

I examined the cocoon more closely. Perhaps the caterpillar had died in hibernation or something. If the caterpillar had died, I figured that the cocoon would have shrivelled up or look discoloured. Upon careful inspection, the cocoon appeared to be still very intact.

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A book we have been reading about the lifecycle of caterpillars and butterflies

I did some quick research on the internet to find out the typical length of a cocoon’s incubation period. It seemed to vary anywhere from two weeks up to three months. Some species of moths would stay in it’s cocoon all winter and emerge in spring. Which is what ours appeared to be doing.

One late winter/early spring afternoon, hubby decided to have a peek at the cocoon and discovered that it was actually empty. The caterpillar had finally changed into a moth or butterfly and nibbled it’s way out.

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The empty cocoon left in our caterpillar’s box

Nathan was quite disappointed to learn that his butterfly had flown away and he did not get a chance to watch it emerge from it’s cocoon.

The next day he saw a white butterfly flying around in the garden and he cheerfully remarked “Mum! Look, that’s our butterfly!”

There was only one right response to give.

“Yes! I see it. Look how happy it is flying around in our garden.”

Because why not. It could very well be from the cocoon we had looked after all winter.

Anything is possible.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I’m still here

So some of you readers might have noticed a some funny sounding links at the bottom of various blog posts like IBOT or Wordless Wednesdays. In the blogging community, these are known as blog link-ups or linky parties for bloggers to connect and network with each other.

I know that the underlying motivation bloggers have for blogging is to write for ourselves. However every blogger still gets a huge morale boost whenever they receive an acknowledgement or comment on one of their posts. But the truth is, the only people who would comment on blog posts are other bloggers (98% of the time).

So one day, some blogging genius started these blog link-ups as a way to share our work with one another, support each other and cheer each other on.

There are tons of such blog link-up parties around the world. I’ve stopped by various ones from time to time. But eventually I found a couple of communities which I really felt comfortable with and enjoyed the like-mindedness of the bloggers there. Through these parties, I also met some other wonderful bloggers and got to know their inspiring stories.

Image Source

These blog link-ups have become like a regular ‘date night’ I look forward to each week. Instead of just blogging randomly, I found myself thinking ahead on interesting posts to write about to share at these parties. Almost like having a weekly book club to prepare for.

Buuuut… recently I’ve had to go through another round of re0organising of priority lists.

Those of you who have been following my journey would have known my big life changing decision of starting my own family day care. With it comes the whole shenanigan of running a business on my own. And on top of that, I’m also back at school to do further studies in Early Childhood Education as part of this whole venture.

Family still comes first, of course.

Sewing has been pushed to the backburner for a little while. I do miss it very much. I have a whole heap of projects I had pinned to make, which part of me is just aching to do.

I wish I could push back the cleaning and washing. But that unfortunately has to stay.

And I still definitely want to keep up my blogging and writing.

But I confess that keeping up with my blog reads has been challenging at times.

Now with blog link-ups, there is no wooden stick poised to rap your knuckles if you fail to read all your fellow bloggers’ posts. But there is a sort of code of honour. Like my book club analogy, you are expected to read the book before each meeting. At blog link-ups, you should take some time to read some of the other posts of the bloggers who have linked-up as well.

I really and truly enjoy browsing through the other posts at these link-ups, clicking on them and taking the time to read each one. Then leaving a note to say hello.

But sadly, many times I’ve had to let the blog posts pile up in my ‘unread’ list for a couple of weeks (sometimes longer) before I find some time to indulge in a good long marathon blog reading session.

So after some thought, I finally decided that it was time that I took a break from these link-up parties for a while. Because it really doesn’t sit right with me to be linking up my blog posts, but not being able to read the other posts at these link-ups (at least not within a reasonable timeframe).

Once I manage to get a better footing on the various things I’m now juggling, I hope to be able to carve out more time indulge in my blog reads on a regular basis and jump back on board the link-up parties.

I will still continue to blog every week as usual. And I think I might still stick to Tuesday and Wednesdays as my regular days to post. So please feel free to continue to stop by.

And I definitely will still be reading your posts. If I’ve stopped by before and said hello a few times, chances are you are already a regular on my reading list. If I have not have left a comment, it’s probably because I’ve just read your post on my phone and was tearing my hair out trying to type on tiny fiddly keys on my device. But I would have bookmarked your post to type out a properly spelled and punctuated comment on my computer later.

So. Basically. I’ll still be here. Blogging as usual. I may seem a little quieter than usual. But I’m still reading. And following. And writing.

Image Source

 

Linking up to Essentially Jess for IBOT

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Conversations with Nathan

Dear Nathan, I haven’t posted an update on you here in a while. But at three and a half years old, there’s definitely a LOT going on. So I decided to jot down a few special things about you to remember for always…

You have the biggest heart. You love EVERYBODY. Literally. You use the word ‘love’ quite liberally with almost everyone, but the sincerity in your words never gets watered down. I know you really and truly mean it each time you say it. You have room enough in that big heart of yours for everyone.

You are the most affectionate little fellow. You constantly make people swoon at how loving and affectionate you are. You warm easily to people and you don’t hesitate to give hugs and cuddles to anyone.

You love books. You look forward to story time every day. You enjoy going to the library. You always need to take your three books with you at naptime every day to read on your own in bed. I’m so glad this love of books is growing so naturally on you and I pray it will always be so.

You enjoy making up stories. One of our current favourite activities is writing our own story books. You are the primary author, illustrator and editor, while I take on the role as your humble secretary. At the moment, you focus mainly on the illustrations to begin with. Then you dictate the story to me, your secretary, to write down. And then we go over the story again together so you can edit and correct any details I might have missed out. It’s one of my favourite things I enjoy doing with you.

You have an amazing imagination. I often take for granted what a huge blessing this is for me as a parent (and a family day care educator). I rarely have to come up with ideas to keep you occupied. You are chock full of your own original ideas. And the best part is that you take everyone along for the ride… whether it’s a spaceship made from cardboard boxes, or hunting for treasure on a pirate ship, or being firemen rescuing people from a burning building. You make your own magic from the simplest objects and happily share it with everyone around you.

You are really and truly my own little Peter Pan. I sometimes wish you didn’t have to grow up. I wish you could stay just as you are now for always.

I’m feeling rather teary now as I write this. But I also know you’re a funny little guy and enjoy laughing. So I thought I’d round this post up with a good laugh because I know that’s what you’d enjoy. On that note, here are some recent funny conversations we’ve had with you…

Daddy: Okay, Nathan. Time to cut your hair!
Nathan: Woohoo! Time to cut my hair! So I can become handsome!
Daddy: Hmmm, where’s the attachment for the razor to cut your hair? I can’t find it.
Nathan: Oh dear! We can’t find the thing to cut my hair. Now I cannot become handsome. (*sad face*)

Daddy: Show me two fingers.
Nathan: (Holds up two fingers) One, two!
Daddy: Show me four fingers.
Nathan: (Holds up four fingers) One, two, three, four!
Daddy: Now show me six fingers.
Nathan: (Holds up all five fingers) One, two, three, four, five… Oh no! I have no more fingers!
Daddy: What about your other hand?
Nathan: Oh yeah. I forgot. (*goofy grin*)

Nathan: Mummy, where’s my picture card?
Mummy: Weren’t you just holding it a minute ago.
Nathan: Yes, but it’s gone!
Mummy: It must be somewhere. Just look carefully around.
Nathan: I looked everywhere! I can’t find it!
Mummy: That can’t be. How could it have just disappeared?
Nathan: (Very matter of fact tone) Yes it did. It’s because of the magic.
Mummy: (*Trying very hard to repress a laugh*) I don’t think it’s because of magic. It’s just somewhere around. You just need to look for it. Where did you last put it?
Nathan: It is magic! It is! See, I put it here and then it’s gone. It’s the magic!
Mummy: (Giving up. Who can argue with that?)

“I don’t know if you have ever seem a map of a person’s mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child’s mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island; for the Neverland is always more or less and island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Freezing the picture–Grace at 14 months old

Dear Grace. This is just another post mummy just HAS to write to bottle up more of your baby-ness because it’s just slipping away too quickly for words.

You are fourteen months old. Still yet a baby. But definitely well on your way to toddlerhood.

I adore the fact that you are still chock-full of squishy and rolly bits and you still have a lingering baby smell in your hair that I cannot stop sniffing and smelling whenever you happen to be in my arms. Which is gradually happening less and less often these days. Because you just. Cannot. Stop. Moving.

From the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. Your legs never stop moving. You are forever trotting about everywhere, getting your nose into everyone’s business.

I love that you still walk with a little baby waddle, with your little tushy wriggling from my side to side with every single step you take. You still trip and fall down every few minutes as you try to keep up with all the big kids zooming around you. But you’ve never let that deter you. You’ll be up again in a split second, trotting along with the big gang once again.

I sometimes wonder if the reason why you’re growing up so quickly is because you’ve been thrust into this group of bigger and older kids that are now part of our everyday lives.

Even though you are often the youngest and littlest one in the gang, you’ve never let that fact stop you from powering through anything. You are more than capable of holding up your own. Both in volume and toughness.

And boy are you one tough little girl.

You know how to grab on tightly to any object you stake your claim on. Sometimes even grabbing toys and objects (even food) from older toddlers in the gang.

You are as tough as nails. Bumps and tumbles don’t seem to phase you. You may yell out loud when you take an especially big tumble. But you pick yourself up again and continue marching on.

You’re the only little person who is tough enough to keep up with your big brother’s rough and tumble plays, wrestling and squishing and rolling around together in a happy little heap.

You couldn’t wait to start catching up with your big brother. You were in such a hurry to keep up that you started walking all on your own at 11 months. And just after you turned one, you already learnt how to climb up the ladder on the slides to slide down all on your own. It just blows my mind how quickly you are developing.

But you’re not just all brawn. You have brains too. Daddy calls you his ‘clever little cookie’.

Just like your big brother, you simply adore books. As soon as you were able to start cruising around at eight months old, you started pulling all our books off the shelves to ‘read’. And now, an regular times throughout the day, you would pick up a book, hold it up to me or daddy and say “Book!”, then trot over to our story-time mat, plonk yourself down, and look up expectantly at us, waiting to read a story together.

You have the sharpest little eyes, keenly observing everything around you. Nothing escapes your eye. Especially food. You refused mushy baby food right from the start, preferring to chomp down the same food as we were having.

Your latest obsession is with bags. You insist on wearing one around the house all the time. I have a box of old handbags which you enjoy rummaging through to select a different one each day. What amazes me is your keen observation of this little detail and ability to imitate and copy it. And also be able to categorise and group similar items in the same family – i.e. bags.

It’s a strange feeling watching you grow. I am both eager to see what comes next and what else you can do, and at the same time I just wish I could freeze you, just as you are right now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Coconut Pandan French Toast

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So for Fathers’ Day this year, I wanted to cook up something really nice for breakfast for the daddy in the house. Generally his ideal breakfast treat would be the classic big brekkie, with eggs, sausages, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms and the works.

However I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to cook it up in the morning before Fathers’ Day Service at church. So I decided on French toast.

Now French toast is more of an ‘okay’ brekkie thing for the hubs. He is not a fan of bread, but it’s only made up by the fact that it includes his other favourite food: Eggs.

Then I had a lightbulb moment. Add in another one of hubby’s favourite ingredients: Coconut. The result. Big thumbs up!

These are too good not to share. So here is the recipe:

 

Coconut Pandan French Toast

Ingredients
8 slices of bread
3 eggs
200ml coconut milk
2-3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tspn pandan paste*
Oil for greasing pan

Method
Mix together eggs, coconut milk, sugar and pandan paste in a bowl. Drizzle some oil in frying pan and heat up to medium heat.

Dip bread into egg-coconut milk mixture, then place in pan. Cook for a minute on one side until flecked with golden brown flecks. Flip and cook the other side. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.

Serve warm, drizzled with some maple syrup or any other favourite spreads and toppings.

(*You can find this ingredient in any oriental supermarket or make your own with fresh pandan leaves. I suppose it wouldn’t be a complete disaster if you were to omit it, but I personally think the whiff of pandan you get in every bite is really worth it)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sharing some Liebster Love

So here’s a big hug and thanks to the lovely Stephanie of Stephsjoy who has nominated me for a Liebster Award!

The Liebster Award is a nomination to bloggers from fellow bloggers who believe that their fellow blogger is writing some good stuff, but their name might not be that well-known in some circles. It’s a great and fun way to share our bloggy love and connect with each other.

Here are the rules of the Liebster Award: Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link back to their website. Then answer eleven questions asked by the person who nominated you. Finally, nominate more bloggers and list down eleven questions for them to answer. Remember to let those bloggers know that they have been nominated so they can continue the chain.

 

So first off, I shall launch into answering the eleven questions which Stephanie is apparently dying to know about me and my fellow nominees:

You have 30 minutes all to yourself, what do you do?
I dive into my hidden stash of chocolate and cookies, watch old episodes of Friends on my phone, and scroll through my Feedly, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to my heart’s content.

What do you prefer – chocolate tart or cheesecake?
Chocolate tart. Because. Chocolate.

What’s the best advice that you’ve been given?
This too, shall pass. Applies to ALL situations and circumstances. Good and bad.

How many siblings do you have?
Two. Younger brothers. Both are currently living and working in Singapore as an engineer and an architect.

Your favourite thing to do on a date with a loved one?
I’m not sure of a particular ‘favourite’ activity because dates are such a rare occurrence nowadays. Plus we really enjoy going out as a whole family anyway. But on an adults only outing, what I would love most to do is: Eat. In uninterrupted bliss. And talk. In smooth-flowing uninterrupted conversations.

Do you have a brown thumb or a green thumb?
Definitely brown. Or any other colour. Except green.

What’s something nice that someone else has done for you?
Oh, so many things. People are so kind. Like buying lunch for me and driving over to personally deliver it (and eating it together with me). Helping to buy milk for me (since I can’t really pop out to shops whenever I like these days). Taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment on my blog. And when my sweet hubby does this for me in the bathroom.

Describe your staple outfit.
Long or short sleeve top. Paired with skinny jeans or leggings. And my favourite pair of rough diamond earrings.

Your dinner last night was….
A slapstick version of these ‘Hungerover Noodles’. Because I was feeling a under the weather but still needed to pull something together to feed my family.

What’s your quirky habit?
I sigh. A lot apparently. It’s my key pressure release valve.

What reminds you of your childhood?
Banana fritters (a.k.a. pisang goreng). Always mingled with the smell of chlorine. It was our family’s regular treat after we went swimming.

 

Here are the amazing bloggers I would like to nominate to play along…

  • Adriana of The Diaries of a Glam Mama
    Adriana’s all about babywearing (with an edge!). Definitely one of the most glam mamas I know. Her positive approach to life despite all the hard knocks she’s been through is truly inspiring.
    .
  • Shuyin of Shuyin’s Sanctuary
    Shuyin writes about her everyday adventures as a mum to two boys living in Penang, Malaysia. She throws amazing parties for her boys and writes great honest reviews of children’s products.
    .
  • Karen & Ally of LuCk
    Awesome creative play ideas from these two mums which they’ve tested out on their own kids. They also photograph the play in action so you get a chance to review how it might turned out so you can anticipate the level of fun (and mess) factor.
    .
  • Aparna of The Weaving ideas
    Aparna shares all sorts of terrific kids activities and craft ideas she does at home with her son. I like the practical ideas and use of simple everyday items for her activities.
    .
  • June of Mamawearpapashirt
    I love the simple, quiet, reflective spirit of June’s blog and always come away feeling refreshed and inspired after reading her blog.
    .
  • Jennifer of DinoMama
    I like the informative yet fun tone of Jennifer’s blog. She loves all things related to food and cooking, so I always enjoy her Foodie Friday linkups for recipe ideas. And the fact that she can whip up a three-course dinner in under one hour after work is really quite a feat!
    .
  • PC of Simply Us
    I just adore the gorgeous photos and images on PC’s blog. Her photographic journeys and digital scrapbooks really offer beautiful and different perspectives to seemingly ordinary, everyday sights.
    .
  • Danni & Mel of Honey You Baked
    These two mamas share all sorts yummo recipes and terrific home ideas. I love the fun energy of their blog, which is just chock-full of ideas and inspirations.

(Each one of these bloggers are ones I truly admire and enjoy connecting with. Take my word that they are really worth checking out!)

And now for my eleven questions for the nominees…

  1. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  2. What’s the worst tasting thing you’ve ever eaten?
  3. What’s your least favourite household chore?
  4. What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?
  5. What’s your favourite fall back meal idea?
  6. What’s your earliest childhood memory?
  7. What’s the biggest personal change you’ve ever made?
  8. Which movies have you watched over and over again?
  9. What are your tried and trusted remedies for colds?
  10. Would you describe yourself as an extrovert or an introvert?
  11. What is your favourite go-to place to take out-of-town guests?

 

Thanks for playing along with this bit of bloggy fun! Look forward to learning more about you :)

 

Blogging with Jess for IBOT

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Though your sins be as scarlet

When was the last time you fell for this age old mistake…

It’s been a while since I experienced an ultra major case of silent toddler mischief. But I guess as parents, it’s our lot in life to have to deal with drama like this.

This time (it actually happened several weeks ago) it involved a tube of lipstick. Deep dark red lipstick.

I was slapping on my usual 5-minute make up routine (BB cream, blusher and lipgloss). Nathan was bouncing around the room as usual.

5 minutes. That’s literally all the time it took.

Then I turned around and was struck numb at the sight of dark red lipstick smudged, smeared and pressed all over the carpet. Oh the horror.

I was so numb from the shock, I didn’t even remember to snap a picture of it. At that point, there was nothing funny about it at all from where I was standing.

After many, many sighs as I confronted the culprit on his crime. There was nothing else to do but get down on my knees to clean up the scene of the crime.

It was a slow and painful process, meticulously spraying and dabbing each lipstick stain spot by spot. The key to stain removal from carpet is not to rub… but to dab, dab, dab… bit, by bit, by bit.

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The process involved a fair amount patience and perseverance. In the end, the entire area was completely clean and lipstick-free.

It was as if it had never happened.

The only remaining evidence was the scarlet stained towel, which I had used to dab each lipstick stain.

The scarlet stained towel would then go into the washing machine with detergent and bleach and come back completely white and clean again.

As if it had never been stained at all.

And with the vanished stains, my anger dissipated, evaporated and vanished away along with them.

As if it never was.

 

“Though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson,
they shall be as wool.”

(From the book of Isaiah)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Chemistry is fun and tasty!

A couple of weeks ago, we headed out to Curtin University to check out their Chemistry Department (a.k.a. ChemCentre) who were holding their annual open day to the public.

It was a free event, and the organisers had promised free ice cream and fairy floss for everyone. Plus I thought it would be a fun way to introduce Nathan to some of the concepts of science.

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We learnt that the key to being a scientist is using your senses to investigate, explore and discover. Each of the activities and booths were set up to introduce one of these sensory elements, such as…

 

Our sense of smell to investigate mystery items hidden in jars

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Our sense of taste to investigate mystery flavoured water in beakers

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Our sense of sight to investigate different metals reaction to fire

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Nathan had fun pouring liquids into tubes and beakers and seeing the colours change
depending on the reaction of different alkaline and acidic chemicals with each other

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There was a scientific art booth using food colouring to observe the effects of chromatography

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And of the course the big yummy highlights of the event…

Learning about the science of centrifugal force to make fairy floss

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As well as making (and eating) ice cream made with liquid nitrogen

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Science is indeed fun and tasty too!

 

(Linking up to Jess @ IBOT)