Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fears Of Being Pregnant and Being a Mother

For years since we got married in 2011, we've had people asking us to have a baby pronto while we were still "young". Only a few people (and friends) advised us to do what we wanted to do first before jumping into parenthood. You know, like travel the world, win the lottery, etc ... haha!

In all honesty, I was always terrified of going through pregnancy and motherhood. No, it wasn't about 'being pregnant' but going 'through pregnancy', if there's a difference. Which I think there is.

Or maybe not ... :D

My main fear was being an overweight pregnant woman and an overweight mother soon after the 9 months were over. I was terrified of putting on too much weight and never be able to shed it off. 

I thought I'd be able to lose some weight first before being pregnant but I don't think I tried hard enough! 

I didn't enjoy the weight gain during my first two trimesters because I was always hungry (1st trimester) and I didn't exercise enough during the second trimester. I was annoyed with myself, especially when my weight kept increasing and my appetite was not fading.

It was hard to stop worrying about the unnecessary or excess weight gain and focus on being healthy and fit. Somehow through time, I did adjust my focus. It made me feel better when friends commented that I looked OK for a pregnant woman.

Nevertheless, I would remind myself every now and then about how lucky and blessed I was:
1. My pregnancy was normal and there were no complications;
2. My weight gain was 14kg, which some might say was still too much and some will say that's not too bad. I made sure I walked more during my final trimester and did my best to eat well.
3. I don't have too much stretch marks, just a little bit below my abdomen.
4. I was able to sleep well through the night - you hear stories about babies in tummies kicking up a storm when mummies are sleeping at night.
5. My baby was (and still is) a healthy one.

Made these bibs in April. Haven't used them yet as they are quite big for him at the moment.

Moving on, now that the bub is out and 6-7 weeks old, let me tell you about what I feared about being a mother. One of the main reasons I felt that I wouldn't be ready for motherhood was being selfless. I could never imagine myself devoting 99% of my time and energy to a helpless child nor the patience it required. ('It' as in motherhood, not baby!)

I still can't imagine myself being unselfish but no doubt motherhood will slyly change me all for the sake of the bub. Hmmm ...

The first few weeks of postpartum were hard. I was irritated by the constant crying and my inability to decipher his cries. The lack of sleep didn't help either. Nor did it help that there were restrictions in my movements during confinement, e.g. I had to walk slowly and carefully so that I didn't tear my stitches. And he was just so fussy - he hated being changed out of his clothes and diapers, didn't enjoy his baths, took more than an hour to settle after feed to go back to sleep, and wanted to be carried often.

What I thought I'd get, was the ideal baby who could sleep through the night with less fuss after feeds, the independent one who could be put down to sleep without having to be rocked and held to sleep first.

Well, it's a hard knocked life and I had to be more realistic, Bin said.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Making A Mess With Sewing

14 July 2016 
Gosh, this post has been in the draft folder for a few months now and I'm already a mother to a 6.5 week old baby boy! :D :D :D

Sooooo in February, I finally took out the sewing machine I bought last year. I finally had the guts to test it out and see if I'd enjoy sewing.

I had so much fun that I find myself hunting for things I could sew, without it being too complicated for a beginner like me.

The bigger elephant cushion will be handy for the bub's tummy time, I think.

I started with a small elephant pillow and was surprised how small it turned out. So I got the hubs to enlarge the pattern which he drew for me.

Made a pink striped version for my ex-colleague who's expecting a baby girl this month. 

I was so pleased to finish my crochet baby blanket and sew a pale yellow flannelette backing to it, which makes it feel *really* comfy, I didn't expect to be emotional whilst sewing the flannelette to it, but I started to think about my late paternal grandmother, who is the only person I know in the family who used to sew us pillows, pajamas and patchwork blankets. Despite my shoddy handiwork, I hope she's proud of me for picking up sewing as a hobby. :D

I made 2 kiddy tote bags for a friend's daughters and they were pretty excited and happy to receive them, despite my really poor handiwork. A shame I didn't have enough of that glittery striped fabric to complete both bags!

I had to use 2 - 3 different pieces of fabric to piece 1 bag together!

Lil Miss K posing with the bag.

I made another tote bag for a friend to use as I had this great idea that it would come in handy, especially when you're out and about with the kids. Of course, when it came to execution ... that was another story. :P

Once again, using Fat Quarter fabrics and trying to match the colours.

A different colour inside.

I was hoping I'd be able to make myself a nappy tote bag but decided not to stress myself and wait for some free time in between baby's naps but ... well, seems like that's going to be impossible until he starts napping for more than 30 minutes!

I can honestly say that sewing is fun, but a shame that the materials you need can cost a bomb!

Monday, February 15, 2016

2016 CNY Gathering At Our Place

Valentine's Day this year was celebrated with a Chinese New Year lunch gathering at our place. Well, it's always nice to have a few friends over during the festive season to promote/generate some positive energy in your home.

One of the main concerns I had was keeping 7 children entertained as we don't have an abundant stock of children's toys. I devised a few games to be played, which I know came to a surprise to some people! 

This year's Yu Sheng ot Yee Sang, the 'Chinese salad' to be tossed during Chinese New Year.

This year's 14th of February was also the 7th day of the lunar calendar, and better known as 'Human's Day'. It is commonly referred to as 'everyone's birthday' and rightfully, the day for the Prosperity Toss (of the Chinese salad).

This year's version excluded coloured strips of yam and decorated with segments of mandarin oranges. (Thanks Valerie and Wen Hui for your assistance!)

The kids ended up having lots of fun running around our yard, playing with cut grass and pulling weeds. Had we known weeding would keep them happily occupied, we would have set them loose in the yard sooner!

We decided that since they didn't mind being outside (although I felt it was a tad bit warm), we played Pass The Parcel.

Now my childhood version of Pass The Parcel requires the person who gets the parcel to complete the task s/he uncovers on the paper. But the Australian version involves a prize uncovered at every level!

So you can imagine how gutted they were that they were playing my version. Hehehe.

Examples of some of the tasks at hand, illustrations provided by the hubs because I can't draw for nuts.

At the end of it was a bag of chocolates to share among themselves, which the kids did so without complaints.

One of the tasks of Pass The Parcel involved everyone receiving a cookie, which was the heart shaped cookies I baked and iced 2 days earlier.

The next game was a treasure hunt involving the small owls I had made as a 'door gift' for the kids. However, I had made a mistake with the variety of colours - where 6 girls are involved, it's best to have more pink options available.

Earlier on I had subtly asked what were their favourite colours and only 3 chose the colours I had made for them. One girl burst into tears because she wanted a pink one, so another girl was made to give hers up in order to appease her tears. (I was earlier informed that her favourite colour was red!)

ANYWAY, I've just completed a replacement pink owl for the nice girl. She was a champ for not succumbing to tantrums whatsoever so I might just make her an extra something.

The first game the kids played was Pin Olaf's nose. It was a nice ice-breaker game which got all the kids intrigued at having a go. I'm mentioning this here just so I can keep this picture of the drawing as a memento!

Just for the record, this year's cookie stash is a bit of a disappointment for me. I tried 4 new recipes and only 1 turned out excellent (in terms of taste). I also made my 2 usual ones, peanut cookies and butter cookies which lacked something ... focus? love? Hahaha I have no idea!

Hope everyone else is enjoying the Chinese New Year festivities. We have one more gathering to attend this Sunday which will mark the end of binge eating sessions! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Beef Korma Recipe - A Keeper!

Hello and happy new year! I hope everyone is fine and dandy!

I have been wanting to dust the cobwebs off my blog for months but I just couldn't find my blogging mojo. Not sure why, as I have tons of thoughts running through my head on a daily basis that I would love to share with everyone ... and then I stop myself. I mean, surely there's just so much pictures of food and cooking experiments I can share??

I am excited to share with you a recipe I found on All Recipes which I tried today!

I think it's good enough for me to save it here as a bookmark. It's a creamy and non-spicy version which can be easily adjusted if you'd like a hint of heat. 

For the spice paste

Ingredients A:
1/2 TBSP of coriander seeds
1/2 TBSP of cumin seeds (I used powder)
1/2 tsp of cardamom seeds (Open up the pods - I think I used about 8 - 9 pods)
1/2 tsp of paprika (I used sweet paprika as it was either this or smoked paprika)
3 whole cloves

Ingredients B:
2 TBSP of water
1/8 cup of almond meal
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 TBSP of ginger, crushed
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Main ingredients
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
600gm of beef
2 TBSP cooking oil
1/4 cup of water
150ml of cream
1 TBSP of plain flour
1/4 tsp of garam masala
1 TBSP of chopped fresh coriander (or as much as you like)

It took me quite a while to pound Ingredients A to a powder as I
have a proper mortar. :P

1. Grind Ingredients A into a powder. 
2. Blend Ingredients B and combine with Ingredients A.
3. Heat oil in pan to brown the meat. Remove and set meat aside. 
4. Lightly brown onions in pan for 2-3 minutes, and add spice paste. Stir and cook for 4 minutes.
5. Add meat and water to the pan. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until meat is cooked through and tender.
6. Stir in cream, flour and garam masala together with meat until it bubbles and thickens. Add coriander and simmer for 2 minutes.
7. Add salt to taste.

*The original recipe calls for yoghurt as well as cream but I omitted it as I didn't have yoghurt in my fridge.

I didn't have 600gm of meat, so I added 4 pieces of chicken drumstick to whatever amount of beef I had. I think if you don't want to wait too long for your meat to cook, just use chicken!

I found the gravy too creamy, so I stirred in another 1/4 cup of hot water to the dish. One bad thing about creamy dishes is that it makes you want to eat it with LOTS of rice! :)

Hmmm ... there wasn't enough gravy!

Tips for future use:
1. Add 1 - 2 tsp of chilli powder to Ingredients A or B for a little bit of heat. This time, I added them at Step 6.
2. Add 2 chopped tomatoes 15 minutes before Step 6. It will cut through the creaminess.
3. Add another 1/2 cup of water (making it a total of 1 cup) as there wasn't much gravy to go around.
4. Probably will taste better the following day when the spices permeates into the meat. :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Obsessed with Sambal


I have recently been quite into perfecting my sambal ("spicy paste") to have it readily available as a condiment for our meals. 

I had a phase (and still do) of craving for spicy Malaysian food such as the nasi lemak and curry laksa, both of which I have not cooked from scratch before.

OK, I think I attempted the nasi lemak sometime in 2014.

Creamy chicken curry, fruit rojak and steamed rice with condiments
of fresh cucumber, sambal toasted anchovies and peanuts

This time I have managed to get the toasted ikan bilis ("anchovies") and peanuts done nicely. It was a far cry from my first ever attempt in 2014!

And the chicken curry that you see in the picture above was a different one from my usual simple recipe. I quite like it as a wider variety of spices were used which made it more aromatic.

Hard boiled eggs with shrimp cooked in sambal, stir fried choy sum and pickled cucumber and mango with steamed rice.

A few days later, I decided to try another sambal recipe (which looked pretty similar to the first recipe I tried for the earlier meal) and ... it still tasted the same but a tad bit more fragrant as the shrimp paste (belacan) was toasted before it was blended with the garlic and shallots.

I think I'm getting the hang of it!

But it sure is hard work.

As a treat, I decided to bring lunch for my colleagues a few days ago. Yeah, it was my imaginary tuck shop. :)

Steamed rice with chicken curry and condiments!
Made onion sambal to tone down the spiciness.

My colleagues enjoyed it, and so did I. Haha! I don't mean to blow my own trumpet but I was testing out a different way of cooking the chicken curry. I tweaked the recipe and used a few different ingredients.

I must say that the curry tasted way much better 2 days after it was first cook.

Just for the record, both the nasi lemak and chicken curry are traditionally cooked with coconut milk added to it. For all my cooking done above, regular full cream milk was used for the chicken curry and plain steamed white rice was served. None of that rich and fragrant steamed rice with coconut milk ... a shame as my meals would be have been so much more delicious.

Nevertheless, it's a sacrifice for a healthier meal. :D

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Keeping The Family Entertained is Hard Work

My family came over last month two months ago (September 2015) for a short visit. A week is definitely a short visit, especially when there's so much on the itinerary to cover.

Day 1 - We visited the Werribee Open Range Zoo. I remember enjoying my visit back in 2006 and prayed that it would not be any different this time, if not better.

The best bits:
1. going on the ride that brought us around part of the Park. It kills 20 minutes and you get to rest your feet. You'll also be amazed with how much land they have for the animal to roam free!

2. Seeing the gorillas up close. They have 3 gorillas and they looked magnificent. If you were as tall as a 4-year-old, you'd be almost face-to-face with them.

Niece refused to pose with me.
[Bin's pic.]

The not so good bits:
1. Weekends are always packed and it's not easy to find a picnic table and seats for a group of 7 for lunch.

2. It was a warm day and everyone was tired from walking.

Photo credit: Bin

3. Did not cover the entire place because my parents were too tired from walking. My niece was getting bored, she just wanted to go home to do some painting with me.

Day 2 - It was a long drive along the Great Ocean Road and got as far as Wye River to spot the wild koalas. But seeing that the koalas were high up in the trees and were doing nothing, it was the birds which attracted my niece's attention.

She was more interested in the birds. A kind lady offered her some bird seeds to feed the birds but my niece ended up throwing the seeds onto the ground as she was scared of the birds.

Wild koalas in the trees outside of BIG4 Wye River Caravan Park.

Day 3 was spent shopping in DFO South Wharf, before picking Bin up to head out to Lygon St for dinner. I don't seem to recall the name of the restaurant ... it goes to show how much of an impression the food gave me. :P

After dinner, we headed to Il Dolce Freddo for gelato, which I tell you, is probably the best on Lygon St. They have durian and ferrero rocher flavours! Bin and I tried Casa Del Gelato, supposedly the oldest gelato store in Melbourne before and it was disappointing. 

Day 4 was spent walking around in the city before heading off to Squire's Loft, Albert Park for ribs. Yeah, I confess that Bin and I were quite tired of eating out but our guests were insistent that it was their holiday and might as well eat out and enjoy themselves. The beef ribs were pretty good as we found the pork ribs a bit dry.

Tea at Laurent, 3 hours before dinner.

I didn't even have a chance to bake Bin a birthday cake that day. :P

Day 5 was a long drive to Yarra Valley for lunch in a vineyard. We stopped by the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery before lunch. The niece was happy with the free chocolate tasting.

Playing Lady and the Tramp with a breadstick.

We had to rush off to De Bertoli for our lunch reservation. I think Bin and I had the rabbit and lamb dishes, while everyone else had pasta. My niece had a shock of her life when I told her that her aunt and uncle chase little rabbits and lambs for their meal. She moved away from us to sit with my sisters for about 15 minutes. :P

Yummy rabbit tasted like chicken ... oh gawd, I can't look at it right now!

We made a quick pit stop at Healesville Sanctuary for my dad, sisters and niece to pet the kangaroos. We only had 2 hours to cover the place before it was closed for the day! Saw the dingos, wombats and Tasmanian devils, and platypus!

Photo credit: Bin

Right after that, we drove all the way to Chadstone shopping centre because they wanted to do some late night shopping, seeing that it was a Thursday night after all. Bin and I were exhausted, so were my parents, I could tell, but we had to soldier on.

It was a long drive home and we were all knackered.

Some of our chocolate stash from the Chocolaterie.

Day 6 was their last day in Melbourne and it was time for some last minute shopping. We met up with my uncle (mum's elder brother) for dinner that night at Lazat, Sunshine.

After they left the next day, the house felt pretty empty. It's always sad to see your family go after such a brief holiday, but everyone has their work commitments and probably missed sleeping in their own beds!

I had to adjust not having a little shadow following me around anymore and insisting I sat with her during meal times so we could chat and eat together. OK, it probably involved me feeding her as she takes forever to finish her meal. 

My temporary 'mini me'.

Keeping a toddler entertained is HARD work!

For the past few times we have been on Skype, she tells me that she is coming to visit me again really soon, and asked if I could go home for a visit really soon as well. :)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oh My, Camping For The First Time!

I've never ever been camping before in my entire life. Most of the people whom I tell it to seem rather surprised. The hubs wasn't impressed with that revelation and called me a 'city girl', which I always strongly disagree. :P

I've explained to him that my first camping experience should be a kind and gentle introduction, and our backyard would be a great place to start with!

And, should we ever want to venture into the outdoors, it would be a better idea for the campsite to have proper loos. As much as I'm used to peeing in the bushes (during hikes), I don't think I'd be able to poop in the wild. :D

About three weeks ago, I nonchalantly suggested to him that perhaps we could go camping over the weekend. Just for a night.

Wonderland, Grampians.

The hubs thought he was dreaming and looked at me with disbelief.

"Are you serious?"
"Er, well, make sure the campsite has facilities!" I replied, almost changing my mind.

We made last minute arrangements to camp in the Grampians National Park over the AFL finals weekend (read: Australian Football League and Friday, 3rd October 2015 was a public holiday in Victoria).

Just for a night!

I think I was quite nice to suggest camping in the first place. Wifey brownie points for me! Two nights might have been a bit too much for a gentle introduction to camping!

Walking Silent Street.

We drove for 3 hours before arriving at the Grampians. First stop was The Pinnacle, where we took almost 3 hours for a return hike. The place was busy with plenty of visitors going up and down, and everyone was looking for the best spot for photos of the view.

We decided to wash our hair with the available supply of rainwater beside the toilets (at the car park) before heading to our campsite. I forgot to read the description of the campsite and wasn't quite sure whether there was water supply. Heh.

Anyway, good thing we did, because the campsite was packed! Almost every camp area was taken up.