Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pen pal, Christmas card

Ever wonder how technology advances that it lost the personal touch which the old fashion conventional way used to delivers.  This Christmas, we handmade and personalised a Christmas card to be sent to his pen pal, Chiara, who is residing in Switzerland.  With only a few materials :-
  • Colour papers of your choice
  • Glitters
  • Stickers
And Chiara surprised us with a little storybook titled Weihnachten mit Charly (in German) and her handmade Christmas card too.  My boy was jumping with joy and elated to receive his first card!
Handmade Christmas card for his pen pal in Switzerland
Yay! Got his first Christmas card
from his pen pal

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies all dressed up!

This was the first time that I baked these gingerbread cookies together with my son for the festive season.  The idea was first conceived when we were at the Four Leaves bakery.  I was looking for some bread to buy for breakfast and my boy's eyes was glued on those colourful gingerbread man cookies.  Needless to say, he asked me to buy it for him naturally which I did for the last couple of years.  However, I decided to bake it myself this time because I felt that the store bought cookie was overly sweet and added with too much spices to my liking. I looked up my favourite food blog, food-4tots and found the receipe.  Together, we went Phoon Huat to gather the ingredients and cookie cutter.  Unfortunately, Phoon Huat did not carry unsulfured molasses anymore according to the saleperson. I decided to check out Paragon Market Place during Papa's monthly checkup with his orthopaedic doctor at Mount Elizabeth medical center.  Pretty confidence and thought I would definitely get a bottle this time fairly quickly. But it was not the case. I hunted high and low at every nook and corner and just could not find it.  Then, with the help of the staff there, I was directed to the lowest rack which was not easily spotted at all and there were left only two bottles of molasses.  I grabbed a bottle without hesitation.  At the same time, we picked up a packet of M&Ms too. My boy was excited about decorating his first gingerbread man with M&Ms when I told him we finally had everything we need to make gingerbread cookies.
It took us 3 days to complete due to time constraint.  Well, I must say by breaking down the process of making these cookies, my boy enjoyed doing and decorating the cookies. We started on a Friday afternoon, 29 November 2013.  We mixed the ingredients and let the dough chilled in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, we rolled out the dough and began our home baking.  Because I only have one baking tray, it took quite a while for me to finish baking all the cookies batches by batches. I tweaked the receipe to my convenience :P  I did not brush with egg wash.  I cut short by making it an one time effort to further cook all of the baked cookies under the residual heat with the oven door shut for the extra 5 minutes in a tray.  Yeah, I was not kidding - just one time extra 5 minutes for the all baked cookies!  Lastly, I used buttercream icing instead of royal icing which we piped on the following day. All turned well and gingerbread man cookies were really yummy.
Adapted and modified from food-4tots
Made 28 large gingerbread cookies - Gingerbread man, Snowflake and Tree
(using Wilton holiday cookie cutter set)
Baked 12 minutes for each batch
400g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
 ½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp salt
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
110g soft dark brown sugar 
100g dark unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Buttercream Icing
1½ cup icing sugar
2 tbsp. of milk
3 tbsp of butter
Merry Christmas and have a happy holiday!
Roll out the dough

Ready to bake
After bake

Icing on cookie
It was not easy to pipe for this little man

Gingerbread man, snowflake and tree
I thought my boy did a good job on the Christmas tree above.  What do you think?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kidz Amaze at SAFRA Toa Payoh

We are not a fan of indoor playground.  Kidz Amaze at SAFRA Toa Payoh was on my list to check out because it was comparatively cheaper than other indoor playgrounds.  Moreover, it has been raining nowadays.  Hence, this would be one of the place for some fun and actions for my boy.  We preferred Science center and Changi Airport which ranked high on our list for the wet season.
The indoor playground was brightly lit and interestingly divided into 3 custom themed zones; The City, Tree Tops and The Cave.  In each theme, there were tangram people, birds and animals for kids to explore and seek.  Unfortunately, the novice was soon began to wear off for the little man.  He found new friends and ran 'wild'!  I made myself comfortable on one of the bean bags around, reading a book.  It was a Thursday afternoon and the start of year end school holiday.  Hence, it was not crowded with adults and children.  The locker was available for use for a dollar which comes in handy since no water bottles and bags were allowed to bring inside the playground. Another unusual and bizarre thing I discovered was, most parent did not enter together with their kids.  They just dropped them off and collected their kids later at the reception which the counter staff would broadcast the name of the child through a PA (public address) system.
One thing good about the place was the infant and toddler play zone were partitioned far away from the main playground.  It was a brilliant concept and safer for the younger ones to play without parents worrying the older kids would accidentally knock the small feet off the ground.

My boy had a blast and wanted to come back again.


Halloween with a difference

Towards the end of October was quite an eventful for our family which was why bento-ing has also taken a back seat for now.  It all happened that Papa has a meniscus tear on his left knee after hours of window shopping in Bangkok during his business trip. Sound ridiculous maybe but it was indeed a fact for the man!   He was scheduled for a keyhole surgery at Mount Elizabeth hospital.  Prior to surgery, he had to do what he must do (as a filial son) i.e. to visit my mother-in-law in Malaysia and brought her for medical check/follow up. Due to some unexpected family matters, it has almost become a monthly affair for him to travel back to Malaysia.

On Sunday, 27 October 2013, we went to the not-so-creepy Halloween at Science Center and even got to see the exhibits of Titans of the Past.  The exhibit was amazing.  However, my timid boy was too afraid of the moving dinosaurs except for the ice age mammals. Be it appeared ferocious or not, I was being dragged from one exhibits to another swiftly. Nevertheless, we went in twice inside the exhibits since the ticket allowed multiple entries as we had to catch the 'World W conference' science show mid way.  Actually, this was the highlight of the outing because my boy dressed up as batman which I DIY the costumes and for the records, we celebrated Halloween for the first time! It was a pity Papa could not join us for the fun.  We spotted little red devil, buzz lightyear, superheros, ghost..etc.  The science shows worked around the Halloween theme with a wizard and witch appearance performing magic potion that set the stage alive with colours, explosive, fire and sound effects (even the Gangnam style music come into play!).  At the end of the show, we took a picture with the hosts below for remembrance.  And I was relief that we drove home just before the downpour. 

Science Center not-so-creepy Halloween
A wizard, batman and a witch
Little batman

A few days later (29 October 2013, Tuesday),  we reached Mount Elizabeth hospital at 7am and Papa was pushed into the Operating Theatre at about 8am.  He was out and conscious by 12.30pm after the keyhole surgery.  Papa was given general anesthesia (GA) and the first thing  he told me was that he had such a good sleep and glad that everything was over!  Afterwhich, we had a few visits from Auntie Lilian, Auntie Wai Leng, Uncle Chin Wen, my mum and nephew, Dexter.  It was a long day and I was truly grateful to Auntie Lilian who kept me company for almost the whole day and when my husband discharged the next day.  For the little boy, I have sent him to my Mum's place for a two days one night stay (sounds like holiday to him) for a peace of mind, else he would feel restless and boring at the hospital.  Mommy was tired from shuttering between home, hospital and school on top of her housework and cooking routines.  Papa has recuperated well at home   Stiches was removed and the wound has healed nicely.  Still on crutches and hopefully, his orthopaedic doctor, Dr Leon Foo advised that Papa should be off the crutches by the end of this year.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

DIY Batman costume

Junior version of batman

Halloween is just around the corner.  And I am planning to join in the fun at the 'not-so-creepy' Halloween held at the Science Center.  Ironically, it was his first Halloween celebration and also his first costume made by Mommy!  My first masterpiece too!! :P  I googled for very simple DIY costume and I stumbled on twindragonflydesigns.  What caught my eye was that the caption said "NO SEW" Superhero costume and it appeared manageable for a person like me who did not sew well.  I have also bookmarked another blog for making the batman's mask at thethriftinessmiss. I did not glued all the parts of costume.  Instead, I choose to hem the two pieces of felt together and sew the ribbons attached to the body suit.  I am proud to present the junior version of batman above.

Materials for the batman costumes:-

  • White drawing paper (for the mask)
  • Black and yellow Felt**
  • Elastic band (for the mask)
  • Multi-purpose glue
  • Ribbons (for the body suit)
  • Button (for the belt)
  • Black marker (to draw the pattern on the belt)

** I bought the felts separately from Daiso and Popular bookstore (in Singapore).  And the quality and textures varies from each other.  The one from Daiso was softer and not as stiff like paper compared to the felt from Popular bookstore.  Therefore, I used the softer felt from Daiso for the body suit only.

Happy Halloween!! :D


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chicken rice

Bento No. 324
I cooked chicken rice for lunch as requested by the little man yesterday.  My first attempt was successful.  The aroma was heavenly when it was cooking in the rice cooker.   Thanks to my niece, Yin Yee, who is a chicken rice lover, enlightened me during her trip here in Singapore that it was really easy to prepare. Here is the receipe without any pandan leaves since I was unprepared and unplanned.  I just did it with whatever ingredients I found in the refrigerator. :P

1/2 portion of Sakura chicken
1/2 tsp sea salt (more or less to your tasting)
3/4 tsp grated ginger juice
1 cup uncooked rice
1 stalk of lemongrass - lightly pound
4 garlic gloves - lightly pound
3 slices of ginger
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Rub grated ginger juice and sea salt onto the chicken and steam it.  Retain the chicken broth to cook with the rice later.  Plunge the chicken in ice cold water and set aside.
2. Add 1 tsp sesame oil in the wok.  Fry lemongrass, garlic gloves and ginger till fragrant.
3. Add uncooked rice and continue to stir-fry for a few minutes.
4. Pour the mixture into the rice cooker together with the chicken broth  (add more water or instant chicken stock if you did not get enough broth)
5.  Once the rice is cooked, drizzle some sesame oil/light soya sauce on the steamed chicken and served.

I simply cut out some carrot flowers and arranged it together with some leaf shape Japanese cucumber, Shanghai green, chicken drumstick meat and rice in the box.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Under the sea

Bento No 323

Could you spot some fishes, an octopus, a crab and a jellyfish?  From the right, a jellyfish made of yellow cheese, nori and ketchup stripes as its tentacles nicely seated on a rice onigiri that I wrapped with baked salmon.  Then, come the octopus and crab which, obviously, cut from hotdog.  Little green fishes swimming at the background that I used edamame for its head and pink heart shape foodpicks for the tails.  There were oranges decorated with seaweed as well as leaf cucumber. 
The other day, we picked up some brown leaves around our neighbourhood.  Some of which my boy used it for leaf painting and some, he said it's for his 'collection'.  And he took a pigeon minifigure, placed it on/around the dried leaves and snapped pictures of it with my handphone.  I was amused by his creativity!  Monkey see, monkey do!!  He learnt well from mommy's bento-ing! ;-)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mommy and baby chicks, Learn to let go

Bento No 322

I created mommy and baby chick from egg sheet using a different size of heart shape cookie cutter. To achieve the bright yellow hue, I only used egg yolk for making the egg sheet (which was leftover from making swiss meringue buttercream that only required egg whites).  Carrot for wings, nori for the eyes and baby chick's beak.  Mommy chick's beak was a pink heart shape foodpick.  On the sides, my boy has soba noodles, blanched cauliflower, sugar bean, carrot and pan-fried chicken breast patties.

I got emotional the other day when Papa mentioned he wanted to visit Ah Ma in Malaysia together with my son for a few days.  And I have to stay back in Singapore to look after our pet dog, Nitro.   Thinking of being apart from my son across the country left me very bitterly sad.  I did not know that I have to learn to let go of my child so quickly.  Was it the 'empty nest' syndrome set in so early?  Since I became a stay-at-home mum, we have never been apart except a few hours alone with Daddy.  My life has been revolved around my son from schooling, playing and even cooking his favourite dishes.  When the topic was first brought up, my boy did not buy the idea of separating from me either.  When I talked about it again the next day, my boy assured me that he would be fine with Papa and even asked me "Are you ok with it?"  I replied that I was not sure about it.  To my surprise, my sensible boy told me to give it try.  I was speechless!  Yeah, he was right!  It's time for me to let go.......   He's no longer my baby but a little man yearning for independence.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Elephant, Ninjago cake (with swiss meringue buttercream)

Bento No. 321

My boy celebrated children's day at his kindergarten on Thursday with his favourite food spaghetti/ sausages and pop corn. According to him, bouncing castle was also set up within the kindergarten compound and there were "activities" for the kids too. Mommy made an elephant sandwich spread with tuna mayo green apple for his lunch.  I used corn bread from Gardenia.

  • Ears and trunk -  crust of the loaf, yellow cheese and nori
  • Face -  corn bread pressed out from a circle cookie cutter, spread with tuna mayo and diced green apple
  • Eyes - Japanese cucumber, yellow cheese and seaweed
  • Mini carrot - Japanese cucumber for its stem and of course, the real carrot!

After school, I decided to allow my boy to indulge some more goodies.  We baked 'dark moist chocolate cake', a premix gifted by Yin Yee jie jie. It was an easy receipe which the little one just poured all the ingredients and mixed everything in the bowl.   My boy was not only having fun in the kitchen and he also loved sampling the batter.  The next day, I did the frosting with swiss meringue buttercream which I found the receipe here.  This was the best frosting I ever made so far and happy that it turned out successful; glossy and creamy despite it was my first attempt.  Not too sweet, just the way I like it. (Note:  For a peace of mind and safe consumption, I would have to ensure the mixture of egg whites and sugar registered a temperature of 65 degree celsius or 160 degrees Fahrenheit next time.)  I did a simple Gold Ninjago cake (which I have seen one of the his ex-classmate's mother made it for her son's birthday).  However, as you could tell from the picture below that the spreading was not even, neither it was smooth.  Pipping was quite a mess too. :P  The chocolate cake though was nice but I felt it was tad too sweet.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed the process of making our own cake and laughed it off on my poor decorative skills.  

Licking good the chocolate batter
Wacky pose
Swiss meringue buttercream - added lemon yellow colour

Gold Ninjago

Dark moist chocolate cake
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Batman, Toilet roll penguim

Bento No. 320

I think my batman puts on weight!  Haha...  Face was made of orange cheddar cheese and the rest of the details together with the bat and spider were all freehand cut out from nori.  Then, I glued it onto the egg sheet with some sticky peanut butter.  Underneath the box, he had fried mushroom noodles with cabbage, carrot and cube chicken breast.  On the side, I placed some green and red carrots (ingredients I used to boil the soup) and green kiwi which I decorated with transportation foodpicks.  As part of the growing up phase, my son has a liking towards superhero and villain play nowadays.  At the playground in our neighbourhood, I observed that boys at his age or older ones played pretend fighting with masks and gears like those of superhero and, weapons like knife, sword, guns were seen dishing out to the group of kids to play with.  It was worrisome sight watching them because I need to constantly reminded him not to get hurt himself or hurt another child or even turned violent (never happen) when they were pretend fighting.  And also be mindful of the fact that there were babies and toddlers at the playground too.  These weapons, some of which, has pointed ends that also got me spied them with a hawk-eye to avoid possible accidents which we never knew it might happen.  Even though my son loves to play guns and weapons, we discouraged it at home and never bought any toys of such.  Hence, he often made his own weapons using lego blocks.  I thought that was a brilliant idea and literally killed two birds with one stone; encouraged creativity and saved lots of dollars.

Despite all the boy stuff about guns and weapon, he still loves crafting with Mommy.  We did a toilet roll penguim. Material we used:-

  • a toilet roll
  • black paint
  • some black, white and yellow paper for its wings, flippers, chest and beak
  • wiggling eyes
  • glue
  • Optional : pipe-cleaner and bottle cap to make it look more hip hop ;)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Alien and space theme

Bento No. 319

Recently, we had a conversation on the physical difference between boy and girl.  And my boy touched on the genital parts of his body.  He asked "Why Mommy does not have a 'pee pee' (the crown jewels)?"  And I replied straight forward that "Because I'm a woman (girl) and you are a boy (man)".  And he said "No, because Mommy is an alien.  Alien does not have a pee pee!!"  I found it pretty hilarious and thought that he had a good sense of humour too for a 5 years old child.  Don't you think so?

The above bento, nonetheless and of course, inspired by my little one.  An alien that was made of tofu, red pepper, yellow cheese and seaweed.  And the outer space like the stars, moon and planet were maple baked ham and orange cheddar cheese. In the box, he also has pan-fried chicken thigh, blanched broccoli and black grapes.

We like to go to the library near our neighbourhood for storytelling session every Tuesday after his school.  He got to meet different librarian and their unique style to keep their story interesting and captivate these young children.  And my boy and myself personally like one particular male storyteller because he was the only one so far who could keep the children sat still and attentive to his story.  We also especially love it when the librarian involved the kids to participate inside the story line.  Like this librarian began with a nursery song - This old man and, held a puppet with 10 pockets on his jumper.  Each kids was supposed to place an object in these little pocket as they sang the song.   They had a ball of fun indeed before settling down for storytelling session.

Storytelling session at the library

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ah Ma 90th Birthday, Makan trip in Penang and Kedah

During the one week school holiday in September, we flew back together with Auntie Lilian and Uncle Chin Weng to my husband hometown in Kedah, Malaysia to celebrate Ah Ma's 90th birthday. She has recuperated well after a terrible fall at home which rendered her to be hospitalised at that time.  Despite her old age, she is one feisty and iron lady who demonstrates a strong and sharp mind.  Still wheel-chaired bound and yet she diligently did her morning exercise with the help of walking frame (aid).  Certainly high in spirit and in good health though.  We had a vegetarian dinner prepared by the chef of the day i.e. Lai Gu and all the 姑s.  A great evening for the young and old to catch up with each other (just like we did in the Chinese Lunar New Year). 

Vegetarian dinner at Ah Ma's home
Sou tao (aka longevity peach) made of flour and mug beans
gifted by Yin Yee Jie Jie

Happy moment!

Our dear 90 years old Ah Ma
I also called this a makan (means eat in Malay language) trip mainly because we have been pampered with all sort of yummy food in Penang and Kedah. Highlights would be :-
at Penang - the charcoal grilled toast at Toh Soon Café, Ayer Itam assam laksa and;
at Tanjung Dawai, Sungai Petani, Kedah - fresh seafood
We had a lot of coffee and toast cafés in Singapore which offered classic breakfast like charcoal grilled kaya bread, soft boiled egg and coffee in an air-conditioned environment.  But Toh Soon café in Penang appears like a run down shank right smack in a back alley. Yet, the café was bustling with locals. It would be difficulty to locate the café without Yin Yee Jie Jie.  We like the soft white bread charcoal grilled till it was charred. 

Charcoal toasted bread at Toh Soon Cafe 多春茶座
Campbell Street, Off Penang Road,
George Town, Penang

I have long heard that the best street food in Penang usually found in dark, dirty and smelly alley. That was why I was really sceptical and not keen about trying the laksa there.   In fact, the famous assam laksa at Ayer Itam in Penang is one true living example.  It was raining like cats and dogs that Saturday after we came down from a tour to Penang hill.   May be it was windy and the wet market was closed.  It did not occur to me the place was really filthy and smelly but my hubby said that the condition of the place was much better now than previously.  The assam laksa was indeed rich, thick and flavourful.  I really enjoyed it and I must say that it was the best laksa I ever tasted!  Even my boy was game enough to have a spoonful.  But our dear Yin Yee Jie Jie accidentally shoved the chilli  into his mouth. Oops!  He almost teared and luckily he did not throw out the food.  He continued eating his favourite fried popiah and fish cake.

Assam Laksa Air Itam Market
Pasar Road (Beside the Air Itam Market)
11500 Air Itam

Fried popiah and fish cake


Singaporeans generally headed for Malaysia for its seafood which is cheaper due to the exchange rate difference.   Sam Pak (三伯), who is a fishing enthusiast, knew where to find the best seafood in Kedah.  Tanjung Dawai here we come!  A fishing village, 30km away from Sungai Petani in Kedah.  It was really quiet on a week day.  Sam Pak led us through a small alley where the fisherman kept the mantis prawn in a big holding tank as well as other seafood.  We saw live mantis prawn for the first time.  Then we brought along our supply of seafood to an old ramshackle restaurant by the jetty to be cooked by the chef. Besides curry crab, prawns, mantis prawns, there were also  steamed fish and a plate of stir-fried vegetables.  It was indeed a very fulfilling, enjoyable and finger licking good lunch!  Even my boy who dislikes prawn also dug in and ate four large prawns and one mantis prawn. Thanks to Sam Pak, who was our host and also our chauffeur, brought us to this little known fishing village.
Curry crab

Steamed large prawn

Steamed Mantis prawn

There were many more delicious street food in Penang and Kedah. Even their simple chee cheong fun was nicer.  To me, the most uncommon eats we ever ate were cuttlefish kangkong at Gurun and Steamed flat noodles (蒸大盘).  It's a pity that I did not take a pictures of the these.  Wow, blogging about food makes me hungry!