Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wishing for a White Christmas...

How's your Christmas? We spent a nice, quiet Christmas with loved ones. We didn't even attempt to make our way to town because crowds are not what we generally fancy. We did take the little boy to see the lightings in Orchard Road a few weeks ago and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. So we thought that would be good enough.

But if there's one thing I really wish for, it is to experience a white Christmas. It's something I've been dreaming of since I was a little girl, so hopefully someday in the near future, I'll get that wish fulfilled.

In the mean time, I decided to have our own version of a 'white Christmas'.

On Christmas eve, I was doing some cleaning up around the house and had a stack of documents to be discarded. I got the helper to tear them into small pieces. The little boy decided to join in the 'fun'. When it was all done, we had a big bag of shredded paper and I suddenly had an idea to let my boy enjoy a bit of 'snowing' (thanks to inspiration from fellow mom blogger).

Too bad I didn't manage to capture any nice pictures of the 'snowing', but it's not too hard to imagine ya? *smile* Kenan was having so much fun that he even refused to let us throw the paper away...

Anyway, hope I'm not too late to send you my holiday wishes:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't Sue Me for Having an Under-Aged Helper (and Why You Should Get Your Kids to Do Housework)

Recently, the little boy's been getting quite interested in house chores. In the beginning, he was content to just watch what we do, but now he wants to have a go at it as well, which I'm happy to indulge him as long as he doesn't create more mess than before. After all, who doesn't like some extra help around the house ya?

Kenan helps with the laundry: My boy sat outside the bathroom and watched the maid washed his clothes. Then when it was done, he lifted the basin and ran away with it to the yard and waited for the maid to come and hang up the clothes. Of course, he couldn't wait to lend a hand with that as well!

Kenan mops the floor: One morning, Kenan had just woken up and walked out of his room when he spotted the mop standing at one corner. He immediately grabbed it and started mopping the floor!

For us, it's been real fun watching the little boy, who thinks it's all a game.

But seriously, I would want him to help out around the house when he's older. I see it as a life skill which helps reinforce independence. Plus I'm sure his future wife would appreciate having a husband who does the chores (so she better treats this mom-in-law well *laughs*). 

This also reminded me of something interesting I heard on radio some time ago. The DJ was interviewing his guest for some parenting tips and asked how can parents better motivate their kids to study. The answer was real simple: get the kids to do housework. Yes, you read it right - do housework!

He noted that many parents often spare their kids from the house chores and say all they need to do is concentrate on their studies. Yet the kids end up complaining that sitting at their desk studying is "hard work". However, when parents start getting their children to do the chores, they would likely come to appreciate that studying is probably not such hard work anymore.

Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? So if you know of a parent who has problem getting their kids to study, why not share this and see what's the outcome. (do share with me, I would love to know!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Plan the Perfect Party with Disney Junior's microsite

My son's birthday is round the corner and the thought of planning a party for him had me almost losing  sleep, until I discovered a treasure trove of ideas from Disney Junior.

Last week, I was invited by the really nice people from Disney Junior to a media luncheon at La Nonna, an Italian restaurant in Holland Village.

There, we were introduced to "For Grown Ups", a microsite on the Disney Junior website that "provides all-you-need-to-know guides for parents to create Disney-themed celebrations".

To show us what can be achieved with the ideas and materials found on the microsite, the event venue was decorated in the 'Jake and the Never Land Pirates' theme.

Pic 1: Treasure chest, rainbow wand, Jake's Forever Sword, Pic 2: Doubloons, Jake and the Never Land Pirates playset, pirate's eye-patch, Pic 3: Name tag (printed on sticky label), Pic 4: Pirate hat

Pics left: Kenan playing with paper figurines from the Jake and Never Land Pirates playset, Pic right: Biscuits given to us in the goodie bag (he's actually afraid of the skull)

Once home, I couldn't wait to check out the site. The resources on the site are organised according to holiday themes, such as Halloween, Christmas and New Year, whereas birthday parties are organised by characters and shows.

Whether you're celebrating a birthday or a festive event, these are what you'll find:

  • Designs for invites
  • Decoration and favours
  • Food ideas and recipes
  • Activities and games 

Since the new year is coming, I decided to explore what they have for New Year celebration and found some really cool stuff:

Great decor and craft ideas like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse streamers, mobile centrepiece, tiaras etc. In fact, some of the ideas here can also be used for birthday celebration. For example, the streamers can be used for decorating a Mickey Mouse-themed birthday party.

For some of the themes, like this one for New Year celebration, there's a 'Try This!' box at the bottom of the page which has some really cool stuff and ideas (see the next pic).

For example, I found the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse New Year calendar which has some cute pictures that will be adored by children and adults alike.

With a great resource like 'For Grown Ups', planning that perfect party is now easy peasy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Call Pan - The Latest Rave in Singapore Homes

If you are living opposite my apartment, you would have noticed something different going in our kitchen the last few weeks. Instead of the helper doing the cooking, this mistress of the house has taken over!

Thanks (or no thanks) to my latest kitchen 'toy' - the Happy Call Pan (a Korean innovation), I'm now possibly on my way to becoming a domestic goddess, at least in the culinary department.

I was first introduced to the pan through a review on my friend Pauline's blog.

Then I watched its TV ad on Channel U and was so amazed by what I saw that I immediately went online to order one (you can also watch a video about the pan here).

So what are the advantages of cooking with the Happy Call Pan?

  • Cooks faster than normal wok or pan because of its patented heat retention technology as well as the fact that it's coated with titanium and ceramic (making it a non-stick pan as well)
  • Because you cover the pan when cooking (there's a magnetic clip at the end of the handle that keeps the pan tightly closed), there's not the usual smoke and odor, thus leaving the kitchen almost grease-free
  • Healthier cooking because you only need to use minimal amount of oil, or none at all if you prefer
  • You can also cook on both sides with an easy flip of the pan, so some thing like frying fish becomes much easier
  • Cleaning the pan is easier because of its non-stick property

When I ordered the pan, their newest product, the Ocher Deeper Pan has just been launched. Since I originally wanted a deeper pan, I went ahead and bought the Ocher pan.

My Ocher pan - came with a pack of free sealer and manuals (original manual in Korean, and a translated English version)

So how was my experience with the pan? I'm happy with the shorter cooking time; more importantly, I'm pleased with having a cleaner kitchen since there's no spattering oil and the pan doesn't emit any smoke like the wok does.

Here's a small sampling of what I've cooked over the weeks...

Top: Grilled BBQ ribs (doesn't look that appealing but it tastes good) - this was such a chore to prepare previously because when the caramelised ribs are finally cooked, the wok would be so sticky that it's hard to wash; what's worse was the strong odor lingering in the air and the kitchen left in a greasy state. But with the Happy Call Pan, I no longer have such problems! Bottom: Making french toast is a real breeze now! It takes no more than five minutes to get them all done.

Pic 1: Stir-fried green marrow (or 'hairy melon' as some call it) with carrots, prawns and eggs, Pic 2: Stir-fried cauliflower with carrots, tomatoes and beancurd, Pic 3: Fried rice - cooked the ingredients using Happy Call then transferred to wok and fried together with rice (too much rice to be cooked in the pan), Pic 4: Stir-fried broccoli with prawns

One thing I've yet to master is frying a whole fish. I couldn't really make the skin crispy, guess I'll just have to keep experimenting till I get it right. But I could make teriyaki cod fish easily with the pan:

By the way, I also make muah chee with the pan. Yes, you heard it right - muah chee! But we were so excited with eating it that I forgot to take a picture. Oh well, the next time.

And there's now also a Facebook page for sharing of Happy Call recipes, which even include creations like cakes and breads - yes, you can bake using the Happy Call pan! 

So are you tempted to get one as well?

More about Happy Call pans:

Update (21 Feb 2012):
Check out the Munch Ministry website and Facebook page for more Happy Call recipes and more!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shopping My Way

When it comes to shopping, my son has his own way of doing it.

At the toy stores:

  1. Let me walk around and try out every single toy I find interesting.
  2. *Target locked on* This is what I would like to have, let me carry it around while I shop a bit more.
  3. I'm heading to the cashier, dad/mom, get ready the money! (Yes, it's true! He seems to understand about the having to pay money bit!)

When dad/mom tells him "no" to buying his choice item, depending on his mood, he may be sweet enough to hand us the toy so we can return it to the shelf, or we'll end up in a wrestling match trying to get the toy out of his tight grip.

But when shopping has nothing to do with toys, this is what he does:

*Sorry for the blur photo* The look of delight on his face when he finally found the ONE (haha... yes, in this case, it's men's brief!!)

When daddy, mommy say it's time to go, he dashes out faster than either of us could catch him (if you're wondering, nope, we didn't buy the brief!)

Then, it's off to 'window-shopping'!

Does your little one enjoy 'shopping'? Do you often succumb at the toy stores and end up buying stuff for him or her?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Beauty is around us all the time. But often, we live such hurried lives, get so caught up with the 'important' things, that we miss seeing the abundance of beauty that is there.

Yesterday, I was at the supermarket and wanted to buy some radish to make soup.


After getting what I needed, I moved on quickly. But when I was at the opposite aisle and by chance took a glance at the radish, I was surprised by what I saw:

Have you ever seen radish from this perspective? I have not, and I can't help but to marvel at the pretty 'flowers' that I'm seeing. It has never occurred to me to see a radish from that angle. If I didn't see this by chance, I won't have known the beauty that's available from that perspective.

But that's how life often is. We usually only see things from one angle and forgot that we can pick another lens and find new perspectives to seeing the same thing. 

Do you have a problem that's been bugging you for a long time? Sometimes, all it takes to overcome the challenge is just a change of perspective. 

It makes me think too, that as we rush through life, just how much beauty we are missing out on what's around us - the beauty that can only be seen with a quiet heart and a still mind

So today, even if it's just for five minutes, consciously slow down your pace. Take in a deep breath and begin to be aware of what's around you. Take in the sights, the sounds, the smells; see what new things you can discover. I hope that you will find something extraordinary in the mundane, and to see the beauty within YOU.


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