Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gingerbread man cookies

Since I started to make gingerbread man cookies last year, it has become a tradition (I guess) to make it again this year.  In fact, I was in love with these cookies perfumed with aromatic spices.  Using the same receipe but I half the amount ground ginger to suit my son's palate.  Both of us enjoyed icing on the cookies.  My boy also even attempted some snowflakes which I recalled he did not dare to to do it last year.  As I was counting, he actually did 12 out of 25 cookies !! Can you spot his creations?  I thought that was a remarkable improvement for a boy! We gifted some to his playmates; a pair of twin girls, Pei En, Pei Xing, their grandma and his Malay friends/neighbours.  He chose to give away mine and kept his cookies for his beloved jie jie (s), Christine and Evelyn and 'Yi gu' whom would be flying to Singapore from Penang for holiday on Christmas Day.

It was also a timely reminder to teach my son that Christmas is not only about receiving presents but giving as well.  To make it meaningful for the little mind, we bought a brand new softtoy earlier from Ikea which we dropped off at its designated box to be donated to unprivileged children. 

Merry Christmas to everyone! 

Full concentration!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tying shoe laces

To teach a kiddo to tie his shoelace may be daunting to some probably.  The need of fine motor skills, concentration and a lot of patience for the little fingers to get to work.  My 6 years old son balked every time I said to tie shoe lace.  He normally took the easy way out; slipped in and out of his sport shoe without untying. 

Since school is out and we spent considerate amount of time at home, I talked about the subject and telling him what to expect.  Then, I let my son decide a day for him to practice tying shoe laces.  One Thursday afternoon was scheduled.   I started with him by tracing outline of his shoes on a cereal box.  Cut out the shape.  Then I punched 12 holes; 6 holes on each sides.   Afterwhich, I showed him how to insert the the shoe lace in each hole and explained using the rabbit ears method.  It was difficult at first and he almost have given up due to his impatience nature.  However, he persisted.  And after a couple of trials and errors, he could manage to properly tie it himself without my help.  Happily and full of confidence, he did it over and over again proving to me that it was easy for him now.  It was an achievement that he was so proud of.  And I was too proud of him!

An afternoon well spent indeed!  But we have a lots more afternoons during the whole of December holidays.  How he cope with boredom at home when he has nobody to play with? One day, I found him trying to pretend to be a train driver with his animal soft toys as passengers seated on the dining chairs nicely line up ......... 

Thursday, December 11, 2014



I made this owl from bread and cheese back in Perth when we visited and stayed with our niece around mid-November school holiday. The owl was made especially for Elly, our niece's daughter.  I did it before we drove to Bunbury, 90 minutes, South of Perth.  Seeing how she love to eat the piggy bread I prepared for her earlier, I just could not resist to make another one for her.  Without my bento tools, I got to be creative with spoons/cups and, even measuring spoons for the eyes! Basically, I just lay my hands on anything in the kitchen that could be used for bento making.   I drew the details with Nutella (chocolate and hazelnut spread) which was also Elly's favourite and dab a little strawberry jam for its beak. Add-ons were leftover fruits; strawberry and grapes from an outdoor BBQ. All were placed inside an bright orange bowl.  Covered with clingwrap and left it in the refrigerator.

My boy has a blast with his two little cousins. He enjoyed our second camping trip down south which I would be blogging later.

December was filled with warmth, love and surprises.  It was my birthday and a week later, my mum.  For Mommy, Papa brought us to a Halia restaurant at the Botonic gardens for dinner.  It was long time ago since my last fine dining.  All dolled up and dressed up for the occasion for our family of three! I enjoyed the ambience and the food.  We had truffle fries and various kinds of mocktail with the most unusual concoctions, jazzed up with ginger in the drinks.   For the mains, Papa chose the steak but was not able to appreciate it because it was cold according too him.  I ate halibut in a bag done in some sort of Japanese style, not truly authentic Japanese food but rather East meet West palate.  I like the clean and mild taste and not heavy on my stomach.  My son has mushroom fettuccine with a 62 degree egg which Daddy commented it was good!  Well, he could not finish the adult size meal and Daddy cleaned off the plate.  I was caught off guard when the restaurant staff sang a birthday song for me when they served the dessert we ordered.  A nice surprise! But I felt a little embarrassed though ;) 

Flower of fire
On actual day, we had banana chocolate cake from Awfully Chocolate.  A bit sweet from the layers of mashed banana. We were chocolate lovers and their cakes has thus far is the best in town.

Banana chocolate cake from Awfully chocolate

Birthday was completed with an awesome and yummy cake.  This year, it was even sweetened with a lovely handmade 3-D card from our niece, Christine from Malaysia.  I love the pastel colour and the patchwork design.


For Grandma's 71st birthday, it was a homely affair. We went for a hearty and simple Japanese meal in our neighbourhood restaurant, Sushi Tei.  Granny had her favourite premium unagi meal and sushi. A mini mango mousse from Yamazaki that literally pulled off pretty well as birthday cake since my mom is not a fan of any cake.  Despite it was not as 'glam' as mine, we all enjoyed the moment of being together.

Granny & Grandson enjoyed the mango mousse

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tofu salad with soft yolk boiled egg (also Last day of his Kindergarten)

I love Japanese flavoured soft yolk boiled egg (or Ajitsuke Tamago) that was not too runny.  Especially those that paired with a hot, steamy ramen.  It was heavenly!  To make it into a bento box, the egg yolk should not be runny and yet soft enough with brilliant bright orange.  Therefore, I decided to experiment it at home without flavouring it.  After a few (failed) attempts with different sizes of eggs and cracked eggs, I finally succeeded cooking the way we like it.  Large egg (around 58g to 60g) took 3 minutes and small egg like the first born egg need only 2 minutes. 

  • Take an egg straight out from the refrigerator and put it into a small pot filled with water at room temperature (Note: This stage is critical because the eggs may crack.  But I have no solution to it.  Just have to try our luck.)
  • Start the stove with a small fire and simmer
  • Once the water starts to boil, switch it off
  • Cover the pot with a lid and leave it for 3 minutes
  • Take the egg out and plunge into cold ice water
We had a simple and healthy lunch with fried tofu, lettuces, tomatoes and of course, the egg! And paired with our favourite Japanese sesame sauce which I learned it from JustCookBook.

Time flies, today was the last day of his school.   The children has a farewell party in his kindergarten with a sporty and healthy theme.  The party snack contributed by the school as well as potluck from the parents.  Whilst his kindergarten provides pizza bread, the parents were requested to bring one type of food be it grapes, blueberries, vitagen drink or halal jelly.  My boy dressed up as a footballer which I conveniently suggested since he has a full set of the soccer jersey which he played at the Junior Arsenal Club.  To show my appreciation for the teachers,  I had earlier baked some mini cranberry scones for his K1 teachers; Ms Alice, Fu Laoshi, K2 teachers; Ms Josie, Huang Laoshi and the Principal, Mrs Aw.

I am glad I have made the right choice of kindergarten when we decided to switch from his then premium preschool to the current one nearer to our home.  His current kindergarten focus on play and not so academic driven which I believe, that's the reason why my son enjoyed the lessons and always looked forward to go to school.  Not forget to mention that the teachers there were helpful, approachable and caring towards the pre-schoolers.  I did lament that it did not provide enough outings for greater exposure (which his previous kindy has at least 3 outings per term! Again, we paid a premium for it).  Nevertheless, my son did well and another milestone achieved!  Next year, he will begin his formal education and hope he will love and enjoy learning in his new Primary school.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chicken Burger

# 343

My son gets to choose his brunch (that last him till his snack time 1.30pm in his kindergarten) almost everyday. It saved me the trouble of cracking my head and also I have a more willing child to eat his food happily since he requested it.  He wanted the same chicken burger I prepared previously.  This time, not in a lunch box but just lay out on a plate.  Four Leaves bakery has really nice multi-grain bun that I personally love it.  And it was just nice and the right size to make burger!  Sliced into half and spread some butter on both sides of the bread.  With the butter side face down, I toasted it over my Happy call pan still slightly crisp.  Then layered with low fat cheese, a piece of chicken thigh, a slice of tomato, onion and lettuces.  Lastly,  squeezed some Japanese mayo and ketchup. Then I decorated with a flag food pick. On the sides, he has some Japanese cucumber, tomato and green grapes.  Does it look appetizing to you?
Although he has just lost one of his front milk teeth and complained every bites, it was a satisfying meal.  He finished all of it! :D  Then, he asked me to collect all his milk teeth that since been fallen off to make a necklace for him.  Guess, that's my next DIY project!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A happy Jack O' Lantern

Bento # 342
Halloween hits the shopping mall this year and seems to be quite appealing to young children in our neighbourhood.  There were some pop up stalls and the decorations were not so creepy.  Even the mascots; a witch and a bat were so cute!  The shopping mall also provide free pop corn and candy floss as well as kids friendly activity like face painting.  My boy was ecstatic when he knew that there would be blue candy floss. Whilst he enjoyed every bits of the candy floss,  he cheekily asked if his teeth turned blue too ;P 

Above bento, I made a Jack O' Lantern using a tiny mandarin orange gifted by my mum.  And added some facial details with seaweed and plonked a party hat foodpick on top of it.  On the left side were two cherry tomatoes eyes (made of cheese and nori). His main was teriyaki chicken sushi roll with tamagoyaki.  Happy Halloween!

How was your last weekend?  Last Sunday was such a beautiful sunny day! I could not stand my son idling and/or watching TV since we have been stuck at home for the last two weekends.   I just need to get outside and get into nature (sounds like the Dinosaur Train TV show)!  We decided to cycle to Sun Plaza for sand play and then to Pasir Risk park via the park connector together with Nitro.  It was quite hot in the late afternoon and Nitro was panting heavily although he did not walk much since I was his chauffeur. A jogger was quite amused and commented that "Your dog is so comfortable." Nitro was obedient and quietly sat inside the shopping bag as I pedalled which gave me a peace of mind to enjoy the sight and breeze.  Along the way, we spotted a couple of Egrets. My poor sense of directions actually got us lost going back home.  But I managed to find the correct way later (since Papa, my compass, did not come along this time).  My little man complained that I should heed his 'advice'.   Well, perhaps I should.  It was a good exercise indeed, he said.  Except I reprimanded him for not following the traffic rules because he cycled across a traffic light junction when it was still in red.  He explained that there was no car turning towards his direction.   This young man is too over-confidence.  Nevertheless, we were happy to cycle despite we were all smelly and tired.

Cycling with Nitro

Egret perched on the branch

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bat and Monster - Not-so-scary Halloween 2014

Bento # 341
We had Japanese food for dinner last night.  I used the leftovers to prepare the bento above for my boy's breakfast.  Yeah, not lunch but breakfast!  There's some changes to his daily routine.  My boy has been growing well and was fit like a fiddle.  At 6 years old, standing at 1.2m tall,  he's still on the chubby side and a round belly like a baby.  Lately, he began to feel conscious about his appearance especially his round stomach.  He has requested to skip lunch at home and just have the light snack the preschool provide.  In which case, he would stuff more than usual like woofing down two breads rolls at one go and kept asking for more, more, more food in the late afternoon after school.  There were times he over-ate and we have to delay our dinner time and of course, his bedtime as well.  Therefore, instead of a light breakfast in the morning, I prepared a full meal for him in the morning which could last him till 1 to 1.30pm before snack time at school.  Then he would not gobble his food like a hungry wolf when I picked him up after school.

In the box, he has tamagoyaki, chukka wakame (store-bought), pickled cucumber, fresh cherry tomatoes into half and an onigiri (with wasabi furikake) that I created a monster face for the Halloween theme.  Also, a freehand cut out bat from nori and cheese (eyes only).  Afterwhich, he gulped down a cup of cold fresh milk and a few blueberries.  What made my day was he actually said "I like it, Mommy!".   :)))

Finished his bento breakfast!
Halloween festive mood is in the air.  So is my boy.  He drew bats and ghost each on a discarded box with black and blue marker.  Isn't it nice!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ham and Cheese carrot sandwich

Bento #340
A simple ham and cheese (carrot blend) sandwich lunchbox to school on Monday.  I browned the bread slightly with some butter first on my Happy Call pan.  Then layered with low fat cheese, honey baked ham, tomato slice and baby spinach leaves. Cut into small triangles to fit into the bento box. Threw in a few raspberries that I bought from Cold storage which was on sale for buy 1 get 1 free.  This was the first time my boy got to try fresh raspberry because it was expensive here normally.
Since berries are in season and there are abundant in the supermarket with great discount, we made very berry overnight oats again.  To serve in the morning, I  topped it with some banana and drizzled some honey for sweetness.  We enjoyed the healthy breakfast except our Papa who frowned and questioned "What is that?!!"  Yeah, Papa does not like oats in any form even though Doctor advised to eat oats in the hope to reduce his bad cholesterol.  That was why we only have it once a blue moon and only upon request by little one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Shoebox Angry Bird Star Wars and a DIY catapult

There was a book sale at Giant last week. And I saw a very hilarious Angry Birds star wars book which creatively renamed all characters as Red Skywalker, Princess Stella Organa, Yoda Bird, Obi-Wan Kaboomi, R2-EGG2, C-3PYOLK, Terebacca, Chuck 'Ham' Solo, Lard Vader and Emperor Piglatine.  It was going for only S$5! Definitely a steal not to be missed. Needless to say, I bought it for my boy because I remember he asked me to buy a similar book at Times bookshop which cost me more thann S$20.  And I rejected his request flat.  He was elated to receive the book after school.

We did one of the activity - create a miniature model of a space scene.  Besides the characters we cut out from the book, all you need to have are :-
  • Shoebox
  • Paints - Colour black for the space
  • Star stickers       )- Decorate inside with star stickers or cut outs planets
  • Colour papers    )
  • Glitters - Create a meteror shower
  • Sewing Thread/tape)- To hang the pig tiefighters from the roof of the box using tape & thread


To inject more fun, I DIY a catapult using pencils, ice-cream stick, rubber bands and a bottle cap.   However, Papa disapproved the idea of using pencils and dismantled our first catapult.  I was quite pissed off with him for not able to show due respect of what we had built.  Afterwhich, my boy has been asking me about the catapult.  So I ransacked our kitchen and found some disposal chopstick which I thought could work equally well!  Not so excited as the scene in computer games.  Nevertheless, it was quite entertaining.  He has a ball of fun trying to shoot the targets using aluminium foil balls.

Built with pencils
Use disposable chopsticks

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chicken burger

I woke up yesterday morning preparing the ingredients for making the chicken burger for his lunch box.  Whilst waiting for the piggy to wake up, an idea hit me!  Why don't let him make his own burger?  Firstly, it has been quite some times my boy did not involve any food preparation or baking in the kitchen with me.  Secondly, that would be fun (for a change from the boring and monotonous workbook that I have been asking him to do every morning)!  Yeah, it was a daily routine I have requested since the onset of the year in preparation for his formal schooling beginning next year 2015.  All it took was to spend half an hour on the workbook be it Chinese, English or Maths.  At times, he would obediently follow my instructions. Other times, he would negotiate or throw tantrums that I would almost my cool.   At first, he was quite reluctant and did not buy my idea.  However, within seconds, he was engrossed into making his burger that he actually enjoyed the process.  With the increased of interest I saw building up inside him, I continued with our learning expanding to whatever it come to my mind.  In the end, these were what we had achieved in the morning :-

  • Assemble/layer the burger as he wish
  • Write down the ingredients on the whiteboard
  • Expand the context to simple business concept; selling burgers, set promotional price and gimmicks
  • Through the promotion, learn about cost/original price, selling price, profits
Needless to say, he loved his chicken burger!  He even packed more salad to fill up his Ben10 theme bento box. 

Ingredients and sauce

Wrap with cling wrap and tape



Monday, September 15, 2014

DIY Pop up card for Teacher's Day - Flower Garden Theme

5th September was Teachers' Day and all schools including those in Child Care Center were given a day off.  Inspired by his cousin, Christine Jie Jie, who handmade beautiful and gorgeous 3D greeting cards like this birthday card we received from her! We decided to try making a pop up card for Teacher's Day.  We browsed a few videos in the internet to give my boy an idea of different designs and how to create it.  Since it was our first attempt, we agreed to settle for a flower garden theme which I think should be quite manageable for my 6 years old.  The challenging part for my son was to cut out the shapes of circles, flowers, leaves, grass...etc.  He was not keen and admitted that he was really poor in cutting skill.  Indeed, his teachers had also highlighted to me during the parent meeting session that we could improve his fine motor skills through playdough, paper cutting, handball..etc.  To motivate him and make it easy for my boy, I did the cover of the cards but he wrote the messages above.  And I also help in cutting out the flowers, some tiny circles and heart shapes and touching up some fine details.

After finished two pop up cards, he has already lost interest no matter how I encouraged him.  I lost my cool too. Well, he did not give up.  My boy eventually completed the third card for all his three teachers; Ms Josie (English teacher), Yang Laoshi and Huang Laoshi (Chinese teachers). We spent three afternoons for each card. I was so proud of my boy for his perseverance.

Check out the links for pop up card tutorials:-

For Yang Laoshi, Chinese Teacher

For Ms Josie, English Teacher

For Huang Laoshi, Chinese Teacher

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gyoza, sunset


We love Japanese food so much so that I learned how to cook it at home referencing Nami's receipe at Just One Cookbookook book and Makiko Itoh at The Just Bento Cookbook and Just Hungry.  Japanese Gyoza dumplings are one of our favourite that I always made a large batch and freeze it.  It was bento friendly too.  Receipe is easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Except preparation can be quite time consuming since I have to fold the dumpling skins.  But it's worth making because it's really yummy.  The lunchbox simply contains pan-fried gyoza, blanched shanghai green, a cheery tomato and some black grapes.
We used to be able see sunrise from our window because of the open spacious field we faced in front of our apartment.  However, the spacious land had been planned for housing development by the government. After enjoying many years of gorgeous sunrise in the morning, the view now was blocked by high rise HDB ("Housing Development Board") apartments. I really miss it! 
Lately, I just swopped my boy's soccer training session from Saturday mornings to Thursday evening.  With the encouragement from my son, I started a healthy regime for myself by brisk walking round the artificial turf whilst my son was playing.  As the sun sets in the evening, I spotted beautiful orange and pink hues across the sky.  I wonder whether the students who stays in the dormitory bother to notice it.  The pictures was taken at the same venue but look how different was the skyline! 

Cool and Calm
Sunset taken on 21 Aug 2014 at UWCSEA East

Sunset taken on 21 Aug 2014 at UWCSEA East

Sunset taken on 28 Aug 2014 at UWCSEA East

Sunset taken on 28 Aug 2014 at UWCSEA East