Friday, January 13, 2017

It's 2017!

Soooo ... looking back on 2016 achievements, I don't recall having any!

I'm just glad that I had a good pregnancy at the beginning of the year, and blessed with a healthy and happy baby boy in May. 

The first 7 months of motherhood have been interesting. 

Taxing. 
Happy.
Lethargic.
Trying.
Laughter.
Love, love and lots of love. :)

Dec 2016: Sleeping side by side in our living room.

We spent a few days of the Christmas holidays in Gippsland, checking out a few local sites. During that time, Melbourne was hit by high temp and we managed to escape it for a while and have the luxury of sleeping in a hotel for 2 nights. Bliss!

When we returned home, well, the heat came back and we camped out in our living room for 2 nights as that was the only room in our house with an air conditioning unit. 

I couldn't bear it anymore after that and decided I'd rather sleep in my own bed, with the fan blasting my direcgion. 


We're flying to Malaysia next weekend so we're left with just this weekend to complete our spring cleaning. There's TONS to do, and it's going to be harder to complete them with a sticky koala needing cuddles and attention every now and then.

Bub is suffering from teething pain and sometimes prefer to stick close to us once he's done exploring. The past 2 nights he has been waking up a few times for feed/comfort. *roll eyes* 

He's crawling about these days and can sit up now. Some mornings, I'll find myself being hollered an "Ehhhhhh!" to wake up - he'll push himself up and go to the corner of his crib nearest to me to do so! 

Sometimes, he'll thump the railing a couple of times for impact.

Often, I'd wish I could continue sleeping and ignore him ...



No such thing as extravagant dinner these days.

I did attempt cauliflower rice a few days ago, to accompany the creamy tomato chicken dish. It was a messy affair to grate the cauliflower!


Then I started reminiscing my childhood days of eating prawn fritters cooked by my mum or grandmother. I did such a poor version of it, just because I was too scrooge to add an egg to the batter. Hehe. Instead, I experimented with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts in the batter. Taste wise, you don't really taste them but they add texture.


Today is Friday, and the hubs initially suggested we go out for dinner instead of cooking. Since he suggested pizza, I thought I'd make them at home instead. (Try this No Yeast Pizza Dough.)

Experimented with pork meatballs as toppings!

Hmmm, had to make the meatballs beforehand, though. So this really was quite time consuming.



We finally opened bubba's Christmas presents yesterday. When I say we, I actually mean me.

Among the stash, he really liked a finger puppet book and a toy xylophone. Most of all, he was eyeing any plastic wrappers he could get his hand on so he could chew on them ...

Oh my gawd, I'm falling asleep here and this is not even a long post!

Sorry peeps, I'll have to cut it short. 
I know if I don't keep this short and sweet, I'll have nothing to say but gush on and on about how happy it makes me feel to see my sticky koala happy and laughing every time. 

And that would be quite a pain to read. :)


And no, I don't have any new year resolutions.

Friday, December 16, 2016

What, December Is Here??

Soooo, I've been a mum for 6 months now, and gosh, how time just seems to fly when you're not sleeping enough! 

I swear I've aged 10 years since.

I've yet to make a few more to complete the fleet.

Little B is no longer the little dumpling he was 6 months ago, but is now mummy's little sticky koala. He's a cheeky fella with a ready grin and restless hands, and doesn't take mummy's "NOOOOO!!!!" seriously.

In fact, he'll chuckle and think it's one of mummy's sound effects. (I do a pretty impressive clucking hen and yapping puppy!)

Not impressed with the toy mummy made for him.

I wish I could proudly say that it has been a breeze but we all know that it would be a terrible lie. I struggle with putting him down for his naps and bedtime - bedtime is a constant battle as he often screams and wails. I amuse myself by singing "The End Of The World" which puzzles him. Hehe. I find it amusing because I suspect he thinks being left in his cot to sleep is equivalent to a death sentence and it really is the end of the world. 

Fell asleep after mummy refused to entertain his wails. Yes!!!
But only a half hour nap, though. Booooo!

And when he finally sleeps, I rejoice!

And then comes the dilemma: do I catch a few winks, too, or get on with my chores?

Bugger.

Such is my daily struggle. :)

Hiking the Northern Range track at You Yangs Regional Park.






We try to go for a hike every weekend so the parents can get some exercise in and also expose him to the outdoors where he'll be spending a good chunk of his childhood. Unfortunately there are a lot of flies and mozzies now that the warm weather is here.

Poor bub gets so bored on the trails that he tends to take a nap while mummy will huff and puff up the incline.

So far, there hasn't a need for me to feed him on the trails. Thank goodness for that!


I'm going to talk about something else besides my little bub now, lest I end up rambling about him. (Let's hope he'll continue napping until I finish writing this post!)


This is our neighbour's plum tree. Every time I step outside into our backyard, these fruits stare at me so invitingly that I wished one of its branches was leaning over to our side so I could pluck them. I found a fallen fruit in our yard that day and we tasted it. It was decently sweet, not sour at all. Lucky neighbour!



This is one of our blueberry plants. It was exciting for a while to see them turning ripe, until I realised how I had to check on them on daily basis to know when they were ripe enough to be plucked. 

I guess that's the reason why they cost quite a bit as you need tons of plants to yield enough blueberries to fill a punnet!



One of the herbs we have been trying to grow since 2 years ago is the coriander/cilantro. We bought 2 or 3 punnets from Bunnings a few times and every time they'd struggle and just die.

Then the hubs decided that he'd try and grow them from the roots of store bought ones. They flourished for a while, grew seeds and flowers, and died.

The ones pictured here are from those seeds. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise as we really didn't expect them to find its way into our vegetable patch! 

We're now waiting for it to 'pass on' for the next generation. I've even chucked some cuttings onto our nature strip in front of our house to see if they'll shoot up next year. :P



We grew some curly kale from a packet of seeds and we didn't expect them to grow so well. I lost interest in them when I realised that stupid aphids loved kale - they're a pain to clean off the leaves prior to cooking and consumption!

Not only that, we had a short stint of caterpillars happily leaving lots of holes in the young juicy leaves. The hubs had to check the plants regularly and 'dismantle' the caterpillars from the leaves and give them a new home some place else. :P



We are excited that our persimmon tree is fruiting!

It's still struggling to be a very healthy tree so we're obliged to give it tons of TLC and pray its fruits will stay with us until they're ripe.

Gosh, gardening is a tough job.

It's a pretty Aussie thing to do, I suppose, to have a vege patch. It does gives a topic of conversation to have with like-minded friends. :D


------
My post from our trip to New Zealand last December is still in draft!

Tsk tsk.
It's going to be another new year by the time it's ready.

I hope not!

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
don't 
have a proper mortar. :P

Directions:
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

Hello!

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.
Serious.

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