Sunday, December 22, 2013

Making Basic Glutinous Rice Balls (Tangyuan)

Winter Solstice Festival that usually falls around 22 December is here again. My Mother-in-Law, who normally is in charge of making glutinous rice balls (tangyuan or ronde) for the family to celebrate this festival, is in Sarawak for his nephew's wedding this weekend. This said, I thought of making some tangyuan for my husband and Father-in-Law instead.

The tangyuan that I made today was the very basic ones without any filling because I didn't have much time to do any fancy tangyuan and to be honest, do not know how to make the peanut or black sesame paste filling. I quickly did the dough, cooked the tangyuan and made the sweet ginger syrup when Naomi took her afternoon nap.

I made plain white and pink tangyuan just like how my late Grandma and aunt in Indonesia used to make them during this festival every single year. It was indeed very nostalgic for me to make these classic tangyuan for the first time today because as I made the dough, I remembered how my sister and I always asked to be involved when my dear late Grandma and aunt started rolling tangyuan during this festival. Also, I made the first two tangyuan in big size before making the small ones because my late Grandma and aunt believed that we ought to make the big ones (to symbolize the Mother or the Head or something like that) first when we start rolling the glutinous rice balls.

By the way, my late Grandma and aunt usually also made big tangyuan with sweet peanut and dried mandarin orange skin pieces filling, my favourite! I do miss eating them.

My very first DIY tangyuan.

Here's the basic recipe of tangyuan I used today.

Basic Glutinous Rice Balls (tangyuan)

Ingredients:

For the dough:
  • 1 Cup Glutinous Rice Flour, use more as needed
  • 1/2 Cup Boiling Water, use more water as needed
  • A drop of vanilla essence, optional
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Food colouring, as preferred

For the Ginger Syrup:
  • 1 Whole Ginger, cleaned and sliced (use more if needed)
  • 5 Pandan leaves, cleaned and knotted
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, or as needed
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar, or as needed
  • 2-3 Cups Water

Tutorial:
  1. In a large bowl, pour the glutinous rice flour and sugar. Add the vanilla essence, if using. Slowly pour the boiling water onto the flour mixture and mix it well with the flour by using spatula or wooden spoon. Using boiling water for the tangyuan dough will result in springy texture of glutinous rice balls. Once the mixture is not that hot, use your hands to knead the dough until it is not sticky to the bowl and your hands. Gradually add more glutinous flour, if needed.
  2. Split the dough into two. Add food colouring to the other dough and knead until it is incorporated.
  3. Roll each dough into a log and make small balls evenly. Place the small balls in a plate or tray that are coated with some glutinous flour so they don't stick to each other.
  4. Bring a pot of water into boil and pour the tangyuan onto it. Cook the tangyuan for few minutes until they float. Once they are floating and cooked through, strain them and put them in a bowl of cold water. Set aside.
  5. In another pan, make the sweet ginger syrup by bringing water, ginger slices, pandan leaves to boil. Add liberal amount of brown sugar and granulated sugar into the boiling water until you achieve the desired sweetness and all the sugar is melted.
  6. To serve, place some tangyuan on a bowl (do not include the cold water used to soak tangyuan) and pour some hot ginger syrup onto the glutinous rice balls or you may want to boil the tangyuan together with the ginger syrup for 1-2 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

These glutinous rice balls and the ginger syrup are easy to make. If you'd like to make larger portion, just double the ingredients up.

冬至快乐!

Happy Winter Solstice Festival!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas When I Was A Child

Christmas is coming next week. I thought we just greeted 1st of December not long ago but now it's already past mid-December. Sometimes time seems to be zipping by at an alarming speed and it does scare me!

Anyway, I have not much plan for Christmas this year other than spending it at my home town in Indonesia like I used to be. I have not been spending the last two Christmases in Indonesia and kinda miss it!

My Christmas tree this year.

My Christmas tree in my house in Malaysia is already up since early December (if I remember correctly). I put on the same small and thin Christmas tree that I used last year but I changed the decorations. I was so eager to buy a large Christmas tree that can be put on the floor but I decided not to upgrade my Christmas tree just yet. I could foresee how Naomi might have a little too much fun with a bigger Christmas tree and the tree would probably collapse even before Christmas comes. So no, no big Christmas tree for me this year.

Back to the main topic, when I was a small kid, my Mom always brought me to Christmas events for kids in some big department stores in my home town almost every year. We did not have malls in my home town back then. At those events, many children who registered to the events had the chance to sit on Santa's lap and received presents from him (the presents were actually prepared by each child's parents and submitted to the events' organizing committee beforehand). I would patiently line up for hours to get the chance to sit on  the Father of Christmas' lap, receive my Christmas gift from him and take one or two photos with him. My Mom must have still kept those photos somewhere in my parents' house but I bet they are pretty yellowish and dusty by now.

That's how my Mom tried to create Christmas memory for me (and my siblings).

Also, as I was raised as a Christian, my Mom sent me to Sunday school since I was in kindergarten. Every Christmas, we'd receive Christmas presents from the Church too. During Christmas celebration at the church, kids who had more attendance during Sunday school throughout the year would receive bigger presents and those who seldom come to Sunday school, like yours truly, still received Christmas presents too but not so big - or perhaps, small size presents. Anyway, I didn't mind a smaller Christmas present from my Sunday school teachers, though obviously the bigger the better, because what mattered to me most was the fact that I still received my Christmas present from them.

That's how my Sunday school teachers encouraged us to attend Sunday school more diligently.

In summary, Christmas when I was a kid evolved around going to the Church for Christmas service and celebration, sending and receiving Christmas cards to good friends via snail mail (my BFF, Lily, always wrote the same thoughtful wish/message on her Christmas card to me every single year "I hope you will be more diligent in going to church next year"), receiving Christmas presents from Santas at the local department stores, baking Christmas cookies with my Mom and sister, eating lots of Christmas goodies from relatives and parents's friends and watching Home Alone 1,2 and 3 because it's always played over and over again on the National TV station until now during Christmas. Strangely, I can't remember any particular Christmas celebration memory with my school.

And oh, as a child I often dreamt of having a White Christmas because White Christmas always looks so beautiful and special on TV and Christmas cards. I finally managed to experienced White Christmas once when I stayed in Amsterdam eight years ago. Although White Christmas was really lovely and beautiful.. just like what I pictured from my Christmas card collection, I guess I prefer the tropical Christmas better. Less freezing and slippery.

How about yours? How was your Christmas when you were a small kid?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Introducing Foodpanda: Malaysia's Online Food Ordering Service Portal and A Giveaway

As an Indonesian, my favourite food or the kind of food that I can totally eat every single day is indeed Indonesian food. The only type of food that makes me feel at home, to be honest.

When I first came to Malaysia three years ago, there was no authentic Indonesian Ayam Penyet restaurant available such as Ayam Penyet API in the city where I reside, Seremban. Every time I had the urge to eat something spicy, particularly cooked in Indonesian style; I always begged my husband to drive and accompany me all the way to Kuala Lumpur to just eat our Indonesisan lunch or dinner. Ah, those days.... Nowadays, things has gotten better as Seremban has a couple of Indonesian Ayam Penyet restaurants in town.

But wait... Have you ever experienced some days when you are very hungry, happen to be not cooking, Mom is out of town (hence, no proper food at home), run out of fresh ingredients in the fridge, very lazy to go out because say it's pouring outside, don't feel like eating instant noodles again and again or bored ordering the same old fast food delivery? What if when one or some of the above situations happen and suddenly you are told that "Hey, you can have your favourite food from top restaurants in Malaysia delivered right to your doorsteps with just few clicks"? Well, in this case perhaps some Ayam Penyet, Bakso Penyet and hot steamed rice delivered to my house... Ah-mah-zing right?


Introducing Foodpanda.my

Well, the above-mentioned best-scenario of having your favourite food from famous restaurants in Malaysia delivered to your house is now possible with Foodpanda. Foodpanda is a food delivery service portal where you can place your food order from various top restaurants in Malaysia online! Participating restaurants/merchants include Old Town, Chatime, Sushi King, Sakae Sushi, Secret Recipe, Dome, Starbucks, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Pappa Rich, Ayam Penyet API and many more! Interesting, isn't it? Also, imagine some cold bubble teas delivered to your house on a hot Saturday... Heaven on earth at home!


Some of the participating merchants..  familiar with most of them?

So, how this thing works?

First, go to Foodpanda's website or just click the Foodpanda's very eye-and-tummy-catching banner ads in my blog to start. Enter your location and you will be presented with a list of best restaurants in your neighbourhood from which you can order food online.



Then choose the restaurant that you like and click their menu.



Next, click the dishes that you wish to be delivered to you.


Once done with your menu selection, fill in your personal details or create an account if you haven't to proceed with your food order online.



The final stage would be choosing your preferred delivery time and payment method for your food delivery. And ta-da your favorite food for your hungry stomach is already in-the-making and soon will be sent to your house.



So, friends in Kuala Lumpur, JB, Melacca, Penang and other places in Malaysia - if you got no time to cook for you or your family, too lazy to buy food outside or not in the mood to eat out, fret not! Just make your lunch or dinner orders with a few clicks and a short while later, your fave food will arrive fresh and tasty to your doorstep or even to your office! Ordering food has surely never been so easy and convenient like this, hasn't it?

Finally... *DING DING DING* As Christmas is coming in just a week or two, I have 5 x RM20 vouchers from Foodpanda.my to 5 of my first blog readers in Malaysia who:
  1. Share this post link to your Facebook wall, Twitter or other social media platform. Make sure your post is public so we can view it.
  2. Leave a blog comment below this post stating your name, email address and the city where you live in Malaysia.
The RM20 vouchers' code will be sent to these 5 readers' respective email addresses so make sure you type your email address correctly. These vouchers are for you to use within 1 year with a minimum purchase of RM50. You can use the promotion voucher yourself or give it to your family, friends, colleagues or whoever dear to you, if you wish to!

Remember, this giveaway is on first come, first serve basis - so hurry!

Merry Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Making Kue Mangkok Ubi

The other day I bought some sweet potatoes and intended to turn them into some Kue Mangkok Ubi/Indonesian steamed cupcakes that are similar to traditional Chinese prosperity steamed cakes (发糕).

On the day when I had the mood to make them, after I carefully read the recipe that I was going to use, I realized that the sweet potatoes I had on hand was not enough. Because of this I had to use two different colors of sweet potatoes as they were bought from two different shops.

The recipe that I used was based around this source. As I could not find purple sweet potatoes, I used the orange sweet potatoes and they turned out quite pretty. There is no electric mixer needed for making these steamed cupcakes - mixing the batter was all done with hand and spatula.

Here's the recipe of the Kue Mangkok Ubi/Ketela (Steamed Cupcakes with Sweet Potatoes) I made yesterday.

Soft and fragrant Kue Mangkok Ubi.

Kue Mangkok Ubi

Ingredients:

Group A:
  • 60gr Flour
  • 110ml Water
  • 1 pack (11gr) Instant Yeast

Group B:
  • 390gr Sweet potatoes, steamed and mashed
  • 300gr Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 350gr Flour, sifted
  • 300ml Coconut milk, lukewarm
  • 2 Pandan leaves, optional
  • Few drops of vanilla essence, optional

Tutorials:

  1. In a large bowl, mix well all the ingredients from Group A. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring to boil coconut milk and pandan leaves. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar and salt by using hand until the sugar is pretty much dissolved. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla essence. Mix well.
  4. Add in the Group A mixture (that has been set for 30 minutes) into the sweet potatoes mixture and combine everything well with hand.
  5. Alternately add the flour and lukewarm coconut milk into the mixture and mix well by using spatula.
  6. Run the batter into a strainer with slightly bigger holes to make sure that there are no sweet potatoes chunks. Unless you are confident that you mashed your sweet potatoes really well and thorough then I think this step is not necessary.
  7. Preheat the steamer with big fire,
  8. Meanwhile, pour the batter onto Bolu Kukus molds, which are already lined with muffin cups or parchment paper, until almost full
  9. Steam the cupcakes in a very hot steamer for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the molds used.

My very first batch.

What I love about these traditional steamed cupcakes made with sweet potatoes is the softer texture and natural sweet taste and aroma derived from the sweet potatoes and coconut milk. Also, even without any artificial coloring, they already look very pretty.

 Skip the white ones for this, please.

I would suggest you only use the orange/purple sweet potatoes to make these steamed cupcakes as apparently white sweet potatoes are less sweet and more starchy (thus, harder to soften and mash) than their orange or purple counterparts.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Making Mini Chicken Pot Pies

It's been forever ago that I promised my husband I would make him his favourite chicken pot pies. Due to a million things that happened in my life all these years, including laziness, finally today I made some mini chicken pot pies for my husband and myself.

The pie's filling recipe that I used today was based around this source and I made the crust recipe by using Martha Stewart's pie crust recipe. She used food processor for making the crust dough but I don't have one. Hence, I just used my fingers to combine everything but it eventually came out pretty okay.. though the final result of the pie crust is more like the crumbly egg tart or fruit pie's crust.

My husband said my chicken pot pies were delicious but perhaps needed more pepper for the filling.

My very first mini chicken pot pie.

Here's more details of the recipe I used for making my mini chicken pot pies today.

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Ingredients:

For the crust: 
  • 1 1/4 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • A dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup Cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
  • 3-5 tbs Cold Water

For the filling:
  • 100gr -150gr  Chicken breast, as desired and cut into small cubes
  • 1 Sweet onion, thinly diced
  • 3 Cloves garlic, thinly chopped
  • 1 Carrot, skinned and thinly diced
  • 1 Potato, skinned and thinly diced
  • 5-6 Canned Button Mushrooms, cut into small dices
  • 2 tbs Unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Liquid milk
  • 1 cup Chicken stock (I made mine by mixing 1 cup water with 1 chicken bouillon cube)
  • Salt, sugar and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Egg, beaten to brush the pie crust
  • Muffin pan(s)

Tutorials:
  1. To make the pie crust: Sift flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Combine the flour mixture with butter by hand or by using food processor. Add some cold water to the mixture until the dough is crumbly but holds together.
  2. Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in a plastic. Refrigerate first.
  3. To make the filling: In a pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant. Stir in the chicken breast, carrot, potato cubes and mushroom for few minutes. Stir in the flour until well combined. Slowly pour the milk, chicken stock, a dash of salt, sugar and pepper into the mixture. Continue stirring until everything looks thick and smooth. Once the mixture is thickened, it's done - set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170 degree Celcius.
  5. On a floured work surface, roll out the crust dough and make several round shape dough with measurement that would roughly fit your muffin cups. I used a mug to uniform the round shape dough for my pie. 
  6. Once done, carefully place and press the round dough in each muffin cups. Fill each cup with a large scoop of the filing. Top each pie with the round dough and crimp them together.
  7. Brush the pie tops with some egg wash and make some holes on the pies' tops with forks for the steam.
  8. Bake the pies in the oven for 30-45 minutes or until they come out golden brown.
Pies, anyone?

There are indeed quite a bit of steps involved in making these mini chicken pot pies but they are relatively easy to make. I would, however, use the ready-made pastry sheets for the crust if I were to make chicken pot pies again in the near future. I personally like the taste and texture of pastry for savoury pies better plus they are not that messy/crumbly when cut or eaten.

Yummy filling!

Enjoy this comfort food classic!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Naomi Comic Issue #7: Naomi at the Party

On Saturday afternoon, the three of us attended a friend's son's second birthday party in Kuala Lumpur.

It was one enjoyable kid's birthday party I've ever attended thus far. I loved the birthday party venue (very cute!), the awesome super diabetic Smurf-themed dessert table and the sumptuous lunch buffet spread (call me crazy but I cannot stop thinking about the pasta and black pepper chicken breast from yesterday's party until this very moment!).

Moving on, seemingly, it was not only me who took delights in eating the food at the birthday party yesterday. I am quite sure that my little tyke had a great time snatching and gnawing on all the food on Mom and Dad's plates as well. She only showed us her "Blah" expression when she tasted the satay sauce. My husband and I told and tried to make her not to touch the satays many times but she insisted so yeah... now she knows why we tried to stop her from eating certain food. Also, Naomi could not stop munching the various small biscuits as Mom and Dad checked out the sweet and festive smurftastic dessert table at the party.

Below is Naomi's comic based on the smurfing awe-spiring birthday party she attended yesterday.

Issue #7: Naomi and her sugar tooth.

Finally, here are some pics of us taken at yesterday's birthday party.

 A smurfy birthday party.

 Just us.

Trying to take one good picture with my daughter but it's not easy.

That's all about our Smurfday in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making Brown Rice and Oatmeal Cereal

Since Naomi fell ill about 10 days ago, although she is relatively healthy now, she has not been drinking her formula milk again. I've tried giving her milk a little bit almost every day but she always pushes her milk bottle away and refuses to take some gulps. "Why you no like? Milk tastes no good?"

Therefore, with Naomi not drinking her milk for the time being, I have to scratch my head to substitute her daily milk intake with something else. On top of the 3 x heavy meals, small fruit serving, rice rusk/biscuit and white bread that she consumes daily - I came up with the idea of offering Naomi the infant cereal (which contains milk) that she used to eat occasionally since she was a 6 m/0 ++ baby. This time around, instead of just mixing the cereal with hot water, I added oatmeal into it for some extra goodness, both nutrition and texture wise. Lately, I've tried cooking the oatmeal with formula milk a few times but Naomi didn't really fancy eating it like before and left me with quite a bit of cereal leftover in her bowl which I frowned upon.

The infant cereal that I chose for Naomi is Brown Rice cereal. Apparently the slightly sweet and delicious Brown Rice cereal is really all-time baby's favourite and I reckon its taste is totally designed to appeal to any baby's palate (I've tried most of the infant cereal variants in the supermarket shelf, ate each of them a bit and Naomi and I love this one best!).

Here's how I prepare the Brown Rice and Oatmeal Cereal for my girl.

Naomi's favourite cereal now.

Brown Rice and Oatmeal Cereal 

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 tbs Brown rice infant cereal, any brand of choice
  • 1 tbs Oatmeal
  • 1 tbs Formula milk powder, optional
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Water, depends on the desired consistency

Tutorial:
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a small pan and mix well with a spoon.
  2. Bring the mixture into boil on small fire whilst whisking constantly.
  3. Cook the cereal until the oatmeal is soft.
  4. Serve the cereal when it is not too hot.

I feed Naomi with this cereal about twice a day. Thus far, she loves eating it and always finishes the cereal that I prepare for her. Since normally Naomi drinks her milk before bed time and her last rice dinner is around 6-8pm - this means, with the absence of her milk feeds at night, I have to purposely go to the kitchen late at night to cook this cereal and spend extra 15 minutes downstairs to feed her. When Naomi is really hungry again by midnight and is not sleeping yet, I let her snack on some white bread which nowadays is a permanent resident in my bed room.

My cheeky baby is back!

Anyway, Naomi is doing fairly happy and healthy again now and I am slowly trying to make her chubbiness back to its rightful place!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What Virus?

It's that time of the year for Naomi to get sick again. It was just very recently when my husband and I struggled tackling Naomi's measles for almost a week and now it's another uninvited continuous high-degree fever that paid my little one a prolonged visit, making her feel so miserable for days.

Let's flashback.

The whole thing started about 5 days ago. On Monday afternoon, Naomi suddenly got warm and she became very hot by night. I gave her some paracetamol and it helped her sleep slightly better at night but her high fever didn't really subside. It was the first time I've ever seen Naomi running a high fever that made her whole body feeling incredibly warm to the point that I felt warm too every time I held her. Not to mention that Naomi became very fussy and cried a lot, possibly due to her body aches. Since taking her last milk at 5pm, Naomi literally rejected all the food or milk that I offered her. She was practically only drinking water until the next morning.

Naomi and her persistent fever.

The next day, Naomi still had her fever and completely lost her appetite. Throughout the day, she ate very little and refused her milk feeds. My husband and I brought her to see a doctor and the doctor said Naomi's 39°C fever was very worrying. She scared of Naomi going into fits if her high fever persisted. At the clinic, the doctor tried to compress Naomi with wet cloth and prescribed paracetamol plus antibiotic syrup for Naomi as she suspected Naomi was perhaps having some throat infection.

By Thursday, Naomi still experienced on and off high-degree fever and uber fussiness. Since I really felt that there was something really wrong with Naomi's symptoms, I took her to see the paediatrician in town by cab. Moving on, realizing that Naomi had high fever for 4 days already - the paediatrician ran two blood tests on Naomi just to make sure that she was not suffering from Dengue Fever, especially since there is ongoing Dengue Fever outbreak in Malaysia.

Although Naomi's blood tests showed that her blood platelet counts and haemoglobin were lower than normal, her dengue diagnostic test came out negative. I was very relieved when I learnt the latter because I really don't want to see my daughter staying in hospital, being hooked up to IV drip and all. It's just purely heart-breaking for me to see small kids enduring the pricking needles in the hospital. Just before we left home, the paediatrician advised my husband and I to do blood test repeat on the next day just to make sure that Naomi is not getting Dengue Fever considering that one's blood profile changes every day.

Naomi after taking her evening bath - looking obviously slimmer.

After the fever medicine that the paediatrician gave, Naomi seemed to be feeling better and became more active and cheerful in the evening. However, at night, Naomi started feeling unwell again. She started crying non-stop and had trouble sleeping.

On Saturday morning (re: yesterday), Naomi's temperature suddenly spiked to 39°C again and I found rashes in her body. My husband and I quickly rushed her to the hospital's ICU and the doctor ran another blood test again on Naomi. Oh my! You have no idea how much tears my girl had shed this week because of the blood tests, taking medicines, etc. Naomi's eyes are now so swollen due to excessive crying. I am so sure that she has been crying enough tears for Niagara Falls and is so traumatic when she sees doctors or nurses.

"No baby likes any doctors, nurses and their pricking needles I assure you!"

Anyway, yesterday's blood test revealed that Naomi has no Dengue Fever (Thank God!). To find out more about Naomi's sickness, the doctor took a little bit of Naomi's mucus sample and ran it for further test in the hospital's lab. Turned out, Naomi is not suffering from influenza either. Doctor concluded that Naomi is having some unknown viral infection and I should just continue giving her the fever syrup and paracetamol to treat her fever and baby lotion for her rashes.

After seeing three different doctors in the past five days, Naomi's fever is finally pretty much gone today. However, I think she is still having some utter discomfort with her body aches and showing horrid dark red rashes all over her body and face (much worse than mild measles rashes). On top of that, to make her ordeals come full circle, seemingly Naomi is now teething 8 new teeth (including molars) at the same time!

As of today, Naomi has been literally fasting from her milk for 5 days in total and this is the first time for me seeing her being so ill and refuses milk altogether. She is only interested with plain water, porridge, rice with soup, white bread and whole grain cereal. I lost count of how many bottles of milk I had wasted when trying to make Naomi drink her milk. Also, Naomi, who is looking obviously slimmer nowadays only wants Mommy and only Mommy! She is incredibly clingy and irritable. She always wants me to hold her while walking or standing up. I am so exhausted, clearly sleep deprived and my left arm is so sore!

When will all this be over? =)

Any Mommies with toddlers out there experiencing the same thing? And yes, Naomi is still very rebellious (screams, kicks and cries) whenever we try to give her the medicines - which is not helping her parents cure her sickness any easier.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catching Up with My Home Town

As you might have read from my previous post, I travelled to Indonesia with Naomi alone end of last month. It was my first time going back to my home town solo without my husband since we got married. It felt kinda weird going to Indonesia without my husband because I think I am so used to travel far with him.

Many people thought my husband and I had a big quarrel and I left him. Both of us chuckled whenever we heard people around us told us this. My husband was simply busy at work and mostly out-stationed while Naomi and I were somewhat free and didn't want to stay at our home in Malaysia alone for weeks. That's why I came with the brave idea of going back to Indonesia with my toddler. Initially, Naomi and I planned to stay in Indonesia for two months but our plan changed according to my husband's latest work situation; hence, we're back to Malaysia after two weeks in Indonesia.

Anyway, I think it was a good thing too to come home alone without my husband. This way I could do many things that I used to do before we were together. Just being the old me. Not to say that I can't do lots of things back home when he is around... but you know, when my husband was not with me in Indonesia - I could eat the local food that he doesn't like or deems weird without the need to be considerate, stay at home the whole day doing nothing much without feeling guilty, didn't have to think our itinerary of the day like "What is the plan for today?" or "Where do we go today?", meet my girlfriends for as long as I wanted without the need to tag my man and let him wait for us, women, chit-chatting until our lips dry and so on.

Me visiting my alma mater again.

So yeah, it was a good short break for me to get together with my family and best friends back in my home town. My parents and siblings were so excited to have Naomi at their home as they seldom see her and I think their house is normally pretty 'quiet' without any children around. I mean small kids do add flavour to and breathe life into your home, don't they?

Food wise, I was gastronomically satisfied with my recent holiday because I managed to eat almost all my favourite local food to the point that I barely felt hungry any more. Feel free to see the Indonesian food galore that I had here. My parents didn't mind seeing me going crazy with food and in fact, they kept on feeding me with heavy meals 3-4 times a day because they think I need to gain weight. 

Dinner with my one and only grandparent.

Moreover, Naomi seemed to be fitting well at my parents' house and she was very happy socializing and meeting quite a bit of friends or cousins around her age or older in Indonesia; thus - plenty of playdates!

 Fighting over toys with Darlene.
Never let go Jennifer's hands. 

Naomi loves playing at the pool of balls with Melody. 

 Naomi D'Arc says "Fight the good fight with all thy might, Lord Matthew!".

Naomi and cousin Meagan.

The only thing that I missed during my holiday was probably sightseeing. I was mostly staying at home, going to the malls in the evening or just visiting friends' or relatives' houses! Nobody was available to take me around for sightseeing because technically it was not a holiday season. Everyone else was busy working and I was the only one who was on holiday. LOL.

Nevertheless, going home and short break are always a good thing. Can't wait for spending Christmas in my home town next month. And feeding my stomach non-stop again.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Creating Healthier and Better Life with my LIFE INC.

Whenever I go to malls or supermarkets, my subconscious mind never fails to lead my feet to walk towards their health and personal care stores or department and check the new products and latest promotions there. Why? Because I simply love grooming myself whenever I have the chance and am so into using healthy products that are meant to improve my wellness in general. Organic products are definitely a plus when we talk about health or skin care products. And oh, since Naomi entered my life, I developed shopoholism for baby products as I want to give quality baby care products for Naomi's daily use.

Last week, I received a bag full of baby care, personal care and healthy tea products from my LIFE INC.

Ta-da! Christmas came early for me.

my LIFE INC. is an online healthy lifestyle store offering exclusive brands curated from around the world and a new subsidiary of Eu Yan Sang International, a leading healthcare and wellness company in Asia.

How could I not smile receiving these lovely products from myLIFE INC?

Smiles and exclamations of delights filled me when I received the huge package from my LIFE INC. because I know they only sell top quality products of its kind in the market. The company tests every product that they carry and analyses every ingredient to ensure that it's safe and healthy for us. my LIFE INC. is here to help people find healthy and fun products that are meaningful, functional and convenient by offering a variety of wellness/organic products such as healthy tea, healthy products, supplement, skin care, baby products and even pet care products.

Next, let me show you in detail each of the product that my LIFE INC. generously sent to me.

COWBOYS AND ITCHY BUMS NAPPY RASH CREAM

Since Naomi became more and more active by day, I have slowly moved from putting disposable tape diapers to diaper pants on her in the past few months. Diaper pants are easier and more practical to wear on a very active toddler. However, I often notice pale red marks around Naomi's bums after she wears diaper pants.


Soothing bum barrier cream to naturally protect bubba's delicate skin from irritation.

After two times of continuous application of this nappy rash cream by bod for bubs, the red areas on Naomi's skin that come into contact with and rub against a diaper subsided drastically. From then on, to prevent more severe skin irritation or dreadful diaper rash on her, I never forget to apply a small amount of this scentless soothing nappy rash cream on Naomi's bums whenever changing her nappy.

Yup, that's me just finished lathering this barrier cream on Naomi's bums after her evening bath.

Thanks to this cooling bum barrier cream that is a combination of calendula, chickweed, aloe extracts and essential oils, nowadays I have one less thing to worry as a Mom. So long, rashes!

TRAVEL PACK FOR BABIES

As we have a couple of long-distance holiday plans that required air travels already pencilled in our calendar, I thought having a Travel Pack for Babies from bod for bubs would make sense. This travel pack contains a 50ml bottle of Splish Splash 2 in 1 Everyday Shampoo and Body Wash, a 50 ml bottle of Mother's Milk Body Moisturizer, a 50gr Rub a Dub Chest Rub and a super soft Bod wash cloth. These on-the-go baby needs are packed in one convenient pouch is that easily fits in big/small luggage, diaper bag that I normally carry everywhere and even in our car's compartment.

We are so ready to travel with this travel pack.

With impatience as my middle name, I couldn't wait for our upcoming trip to come; therefore, the other day I tested the Baby Shampoo and Body Wash as well as the Milk Body Moisturiser on Naomi.

Splish splash. Even Mommy doesn't get to have shampoo with lavender extract. I am so lucky!

The gentle shampoo and body wash is made with chamomile extract, calendula extract and lavender among other things. It has the sweet and calming lavender aroma that smells even better on Naomi after her bath.

Baby's super smooth skin, even their feet, is so kissable!

After bath, I rubbed some of the non-greasy and scentless milk moisturizer on Naomi's arms and legs. Not long after I rubbed the moisturizer on her, Naomi grabbed the bottle from me and kept on rubbing her foot as if she was moisturising her skin just like what I just did on her or wait... maybe she watches too much lotion commercials on TV!

My kiddo who doesn't want to let go the moisturizer bottle.

Anyhow, I am positive that my girl is going to be pretty girly when she grows up.

CERTIFIED ORGANIC BUG REPELLENT SPRAY

I have a long list of reasons to hate mosquitoes especially after my husband got dengue fever last year. As my husband and I do quite a bit of gardening at home, while mosquitoes are not garden pests per se, we categorize them as pest for gardeners. Imagine burst of really hungry mosquitoes coming out from their hides somewhere inside our plants. The moment we touch the leaves or water the plants, these buzzing mini vampires would fly out and are ready than ever to bite any human they can find.

Deodorizing bug repellent.

As such, I purposely asked for the Intelligent Nutrients's Bug Repellent Spray from my LIFE INC. to test because I know this organic spray will come very handy and useful for both my husband and me when we deal with our plants. The spray has immediate cooling effect on the skin and pretty strong lemongrass scent. It can be sprayed on body and hair for bug protection. Seriously, after spraying this bug repellent all over the skin areas that are not covered by clothing, I feel a lot safer getting busy in my garden.

Spray and shoo the bugs away.

Again, I still wonder why God created mosquitoes in the first place? Don't think they are that important in food chain either.

NATURAL FACE CLEANSING GEL AND CERTIFIED ORGANIC PAW PAW OINTMENT

On top of the products that I chose to test, my LIFE INC. also sent me some other stuff to sample. The first one was a bottle of facial cleansing gel that is super gentle for our daily face wash.


The cleansing gel by Natural Alternative is made with essential oils from sweet orange to soothe and promote collagen production; and neroli to relieve tension and increase circulation. This face cleansing gel has citrusy fragrance that I find refreshing.

The second product that was given to me was the Organic Paw Paw Ointment. When I first read the product's name, I thought Paw Paw was somehow related to bear paw or panda paw. How wrong I was! Turned out, Paw Paw is a kind of a nutrient-rich fruit that has been described as the world's greatest healing agent. Paw paw cream aids many skin problems such has chapped lips, cuts, redness, insect bites, pimples, dry skin, diaper rash and even works as a temporary relief from haemorrhoids.

Cracked toes and heels no more.

I personally use this multi-purpose Organic Paw Paw Ointment to treat the dry skin around my heels and toes that I obviously seldom moisturise. This scentless cream works wonder for treating dry skin. I would recommend using it on dry cracked feet just before bed time because the ointment can be quite oily and sticky on foot soles so it would make walking a slippery business and may leave marks on the floor too.

TEAISM

How come my LIFE INC. knows I don't drink coffee but tea instead? I don't drink coffee because its acid often gives me gastric pain but I do sip tea several times in a week. Inside the bag that was given to me, my LIFE INC. attached few packs of TEAISM - the revolution of healthy teas from Eu Yan Sang that come in pencil-shaped, disposable, high-tech tea wands and eliminate the need for bags or teaspoons! Each disposable wand contains high-grade tea leaves and is made of FDA-approved aluminum foil. 


Latest tea innovation for the most fragrant brew.

To prepare a hot tea with TEAISM, all we need to do is just put a pack of TEAISM in a glass of hot water, stir it for 3-5 mins and enjoy the tea! TEAISM produces the same taste you would derive from high quality loose leaf teas. 


Had your tea today?

TEAISM is definitely the new way of drinking tea. It is healthy, functional, convenient and comes in many flavours. Check out more of TEAISM product range here.

Alright, folks! That's all about the review of the products that are exclusively available at my LIFE INC. If I had to rate the personal care and baby products from my LIFE INC. that I've used so far, it's gotta be two thumbs up plus a big toe! With this, I hope I have enticed you enough to start browsing and making purchases on my LIFE INC online store. Remember to lead a better lifestyle by using safe and healthy best quality products for you and your family.

Finally, in conjunction with their launch promo, myLIFE INC is offering 20% OFF for purchases until 31st December 2013 and orders above S$50 and select items. Please key in lovemylife20 upon checkout at https://www.mylifeinc.me/ to enjoy this special discount!

** At the moment, my LIFE INC. doesn't ship outside of Singapore but stay tuned as they will ship internationally soon. If you have any special shipping request or further questions, please feel free to contact info@mylifeinc.me or (65) 9653 9622. For updates on new products or promotions, please LIKE my LIFE INC.'s Facebook page.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Making Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

One of my favourite Japanese dishes is Teriyaki. Over the weekend I bought Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce because I wanted to add more menu to our daily meals at home.

My sister who often makes Teriyaki Chicken at her home suggested me to grill the marinated chicken then only drizzle them with some Teriyaki sauce. I thought grilling the chicken itself is already too time-consuming for me because in principle I can only cook when my kid naps.

With this, I decided to just stir-fry the chicken with some Teriyaki sauce to save the time (and the mess in my kitchen). Here's the recipe that I used yesterday.

My version of Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry.

Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry

Ingredients:
  • 1 Chicken breast, cut in strips
  • 3-4 tbs Teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tbs Light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Shaoxing wine
  • Few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • 1 tbs Corn starch
  • 1/2 Sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Sweet soy sauce, to taste
  • Water

Tutorials:
  1. In a bowl, dissolve Teriyaki sauce, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, sugar and corn starch. Marinate the chicken strips with the sauce mixture for about 15-20 mins.
  2. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil and stir fry the garlic and sweet onions slices until fragrant.
  3. Pour the marinated chicken into the wok and cook well until the chicken loses its pink color.
  4. Add some water to the chicken in the wok and keep stirring to thicken the sauce.
  5. Add liberal amount of salt, pepper, sweet soy sauce and/or more Teriyaki sauce until you get the desired taste (it should be tangy, salty and sweet) and the chicken turns brown.
  6. Serve hot with steamed rice.

I love serving my Teriyaki Chicken with some garden salad and you might want to garnish it with some sesame seeds so it looks nicer.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Naomi Comic Issue #6: Toddler at the Table

Naomi's journey into self-feeding with spoon started few weeks ago. Initially, she always grabbed the spoon from my hand as I tried to feed her. Hence, I let her have another small spoon for her to play with whenever I feed her.

These days, Naomi's meal times take longer than before because she mostly refuses the food I offer her and insists to feed herself using another spoon. Hmm... I wonder if the food tastes better when she eats it with her own effort.

Next, don't you agree that introducing spoon to a toddler is such a messy affair indeed? Naomi's food on her spoon often falls down before it safely reaches her mouth. She also loves banging her spoon onto the food inside her bowl so it's not uncommon to see food fly during her mealtimes.

Issue #6: Toddler at the restaurant.

Anyhow, I am glad that Naomi is doing fine on her way to feed herself so she can fully participate and enjoy family mealtimes in the near future.

On another note, does/did your toddler refuse sitting on baby high chair too? Recently, Naomi doesn't want to sit still in her high chair or the regular chair during mealtimes and it gets really troublesome when we dine out. She would get out of her chair, climb the table and walk around on it like a centre stage instead! Food, toys and songs/videos on smart phones sometimes don't really help in making her sit still for a long time when we eat out either. By doing this, she naturally attracts the attention of the restaurant's owner, staff and other diners. I bet they all think "How naughty this kiddo is!"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Featured in BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine's November 2013 Issue

God is good, all the time.  

My motherhood piece titled "5 Things I Wish I Did More" that I wrote a couple months ago is published in BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine, November 2013 issue under the "Mummy in Training" section. 

I can't believe the editor gives me a total of three pages (page 27, 28 and 29) for my writing. 

My published motherhood article.

I am truly overjoyed.

Once I am done with scanning the pages, I will post the close-up article I did for the magazine for my readers who are not based in Malaysia. Meanwhile, Mommies in Malaysia, please pick up a copy of this magazine if you want to read what I share with them this month.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Flying Alone with A Toddler

As my husband was expected to be out-stationed for work, few weeks ago I made a bold decision to go back to my home town in Indonesia alone with Naomi during this lonely period.

This decision didn't come easy on me though. After days of contemplating whether I could travel to Indonesia alone with Naomi, not see my husband at all for few weeks, live without steady internet access in Indonesia and so on; eventually, the thoughts of seeing my family and friends again plus gorging the Indonesian food galore in my home town won. My fingers clicked the ''CONFIRM PAYMENT" button on AirAsia's website and our tickets to Surabaya were bought. No turning back.

Naomi has travelled by air before but back then, my husband flew with us. Two days before our departure day, despite the relatively short flight of 2.5 hours that we're about to have, I experienced massive stress and anxiety. I fretted over Naomi's behaviour in the airport and inside the plane again and again. For days, my brain tried so hard to figure out what to pack my hand-carry bag so I wouldn't have much trouble carrying it whilst carrying my 12kg toddler on the other hand. I could not decide whether I should bring my laptop or tablet too during this trip (in the end, I decided not to). My fear of travelling by air solo with my toddler grew exponentially as hours went by.

The night before our fly day to Surabaya, I could not sleep well. I literally woke up once every few hours because I overly dreaded the morning when I had to fly with Naomi alone for the first time. I forced myself to get some good sleep that night but I just could not. As I tried to get myself into a good night slumber, my alarm rang and it was already the time to head off to the airport.

My husband helped the light-headed me handle my luggage and check us in in LCCT Airport. Thank goodness, I didn't experience much problem until we boarded the plane. Naomi got a little fussy in the airport's gate area and wanted to walk around but somehow I managed to distract her attention and she was not that resistant when I carried her on my arms.

I bought the front seat at the plane (1A) so both Naomi and I would have more space for our stuff and us. And who knew the whole row was for us! Moving on, although overall Naomi behaved pretty well inside the plane, she struggled to walk around inside the plane several times whenever she saw the air-stewardess busy walking around. However, I somehow successfully made her stay put with me by offering her cookies, toys and kids video on my iPhone. She didn't cry during take-off and landing and mostly slept during the flight. When she was awake, she even played peek-a-boo with the pretty flight attendants. Hallelujah! What I feared the most didn't happen and I was so proud with my little tyke.

My minion got so tired inside the air plane.

In short, I can confidently say that my first flight alone with Naomi was a breeze as I didn't encounter many horrifying problems either in the airport when I arrived to Surabaya. Good thing that Juanda airport has lots of porters who can assist travelling mother like me with my heavy luggage.

Unfortunately, when we flew back to Malaysia on last Monday, things didn't run as smoothly as I hoped. Everything felt like a living nightmare ever since I arrived to the check-in counter in Juanda Airport. The queue at the check-in counter before me was extremely long because about a dozen of foreign workers from Indonesia did a group check-in. The airport was so hot and Naomi whom I carried inside a baby sling got really bored, cranky and sweaty too. My toddler, who seemingly gained weight during her visit to my parents' house, wanted to jump out of her baby sling many times so I had to use extra energy to hold her tight. On top of that, I had to make sure my 15 kg luggage and hand-carry which contained our passports, tickets and money were safe with me. By this time, my shoulders and arms already got really sore.

Next, as we waited the plane to board, Naomi refused to sit still and didn't want to be carried either. She decided to be hyper and unleash her mighty energy by walking around the waiting area which was full of people. Some of these people gazed at me with a look of pity because at that time I believe I already looked like a mad woman. I was tired, sweating like a pig, sporting a crazy hair and clearly impatient. My left arm and shoulder were incredibly painful from carrying my girl and my right arm had to bear with the heavy hand-carry everywhere we went.

As if my headache in the airport's waiting area was not enough, I smelled poop from my little girl who was busy wandering around. I hastily peeked inside her pants and great, I saw a large amount of very runny poop all over her bottoms and diaper. I quickly carried Naomi and dashed to the toilet. When I saw the long queue at the ladies' toilet, I pitifully asked the janitor guy to let me immediately use the toilet for disabled people and thankfully, he let us in. I don't want to share more details of what happened inside the toilet when I was cleaning Naomi's bottom because it was really frustrating. One thing for sure, cleaning one playful energizer bunny's bottoms is so full of drama. Period.

After we came back from the toilet, I just could not wait to board the air plane and really looked forward to sit down. All my muscles were screaming from pains, I had throbbing headache and was just beyond exhausted following my daughter walking around and climbing all the unoccupied seats in the gate area non-stop.

Fast forward, we finally boarded the plane to Kuala Lumpur but I was not able to purchase the front seat again because Tiger Air doesn't allow mother with kids/babies to sit in the front rows. Duh! The best hot seat we could get was at the second row and it was equally crammed as the standard seats. Fortunately, the ladies sitting next to us were really kind and loved playing with Naomi. Anyway, I supposed Naomi was really tired from her epic adventure roaming the airport's gate area and she dozed off not long after the plane took off.

Arriving to Kuala Lumpur.

Two days after our arrival to Kuala Lumpur (re: now), I still suffer from muscle aches all over my body similar to those you get from doing vigorous yoga poses. In addition, I can't exactly remember how I managed to keep my daughter, hand-carry and heavy luggage out of the LCCT airport safely all by myself.

Oh, did I mention that my daughter and I had to wait my husband for almost 30 mins in the airport after we touched down? What a horrible come-back.

Last but not least, here are some useful tips for you, mothers, if you plan to travel by air alone with your very active kid.
  1. Zzz time is the best. If possible, try to book a flight that is around your child's sleep or nap time. This way, your potential problem in handling active toddler will be much reduced as there is big chance that your little one would be sleeping during the flight. By the time he or she wakes up, you are not that far from or maybe already land to your destination.
  2. Travel light. Remember you got only two hands to carry your kid and your hand-carry bag, make your kid's feed, show your passport and tickets to the officer, etc. I decided not to bring my own hand-bag during our recent trip because I could not imagine how I could handle another burden on my shoulder. Instead, I neatly placed our passport books, money and tickets in Naomi's industrial sized diaper bag, together with her other zillion necessities for easy access.
  3. Bring lots of snacks and toys when you brave air travel in solo parentis. I brought toys that didn't create any noise for other passengers and lots of different snacks that wouldn't produce much mess for Naomi inside the plane. The main goal is to make your kid as quiet as possible throughout the trip.
  4. Charge, charge, charge. If you intend to entertain your kid with songs or videos on your smart phone or tablet, make sure your gadget's battery is full to amuse your kid throughout the entire journey.
  5. Sling over stroller, perhaps? I could not foresee myself folding and lifting a stroller all by myself in the airport. I also reckoned that Naomi would highly likely reject sitting quietly in her stroller; thus, I dropped the idea of bringing a stroller with me to the airport altogether. I chose to wear a baby carrier/sling all the time in the airport just in case my arm got really tired from carrying my kid; only then I would rely on my sling, hence my shoulder, to carry my child. I don't know about you but personally, it was just more convenient for me to walk around with a baby sling on.
  6. Get some space. If you have extra budget, consider buying the hot seat in the budget airline. You will really appreciate the extra leg space you get from sitting at the very front seat.

How was your experience in travelling solo by air with your toddler or baby? If you have any more tips to add, feel free leave them in the comment below.