Saturday, January 26, 2013

Testing the Cloth Diaper and Some Brand Comparison

I am not a big user of cloth diaper just yet but have certainly put cloth diaper on baby Naomi since she was just a newborn. My Mom is a real fan of cloth diaper so she sort of made baby Naomi wear tie-on cloth diaper almost all the time when she was here. Once she left Malaysia, I drifted myself away from this habit and started using disposable diaper on my baby for convenience reasons.

I have entirely stopped using the tie-on cloth diaper on my baby because it has very low urine absorbency level; however, sometimes I do use cloth diaper with snaps or velcro on baby Naomi. Whenever possible, I love putting reusable cloth diaper on my baby because it's super comfortable to wear, has cute designs, prevents rashes, easy to use, economical and eco-friendly (seemingly, one baby can produce almost half a ton of rubbish that takes ages to decompose from wearing disposable diaper in a year). The only drawbacks of cloth diaper to me are probably the facts that it doesn't absorb as much urine as disposable diaper, hence gets wet relatively fast. Also, it needs to be hand washed when my baby happens to pass motion on it - so I guess letting our baby to wear cloth diaper after he or she passes motion is a good idea?

Anyhow, here are some cloth diaper brands that I've tested thus far and a little reviews on each product too.

1. Charlie Banana

I got the chance of using this uber cute, soft and comfortable Charlie Banana cloth diaper after I won Our Everyday Thing's cloth diaper giveaway last year. **Thanks, Mom Leonny!** This high-quality "2-in-1" reusable cloth diaper is made from polyester, absorbs a lot of urine, has smart side snaps that are easy to administer and adjust; and possesses leak-proof leg casing too. Furthermore, its various colour collection is so hard (for any Mommy) to resist! Every purchase of one Charlie's Banana cloth diaper comes with two free reusable/washable inserts.

Charlie Banana's 2-in-1 reusable cloth diaper.

Baby Naomi wears the Large-sized plain Charlie Banana diaper (Colour: Aqua)

Doesn't this cloth diaper look  so solid and gorgeous on baby Naomi?

Do visit Charlie Banana's website to learn more about reusable cloth diaper 101.

2. Pigeon

My husband bought Pigeon's cloth diaper when we checked out the Parenthood Expo in Kuala Lumpur last year. This cloth diaper is slightly thin in design but it's soft and comfortable to wear on babies. It's closure uses velcro so it's pretty easy to administer and adjust to fit's the baby body.

Pigeon's cloth diaper.

The price of this cloth diaper is considerably cheap (less than RM 15, I think) but purchase of Pigeon's cloth diaper doesn't come with any inserts. If you don't have any washable or disposable inserts for cloth diaper, the easiest way to replace them would be folding baby cotton napkins as the cloth diaper's inserts. Compared to Fiffy's Baby NapkinsPureen's Baby Napkins are way much better and I've been using this brand since Naomi was born.

Baby Naomi wears Pigeon's cloth diaper - Size M.

In short, unless you have budget to buy expensive cloth diaper, this brand is not bad for baby's everyday use.

3. No brand

My husband and I bought one non-branded cloth diaper from a baby shop during our visit to my home town last year. Back then, both my husband and I had zero knowledge on what to expect from a good cloth diaper so we just purchased a random cloth diaper from that shop. In the end, we didn't dare to put this cloth diaper on our newborn because we realized that this non-branded cloth diaper's material is a little stiff (not soft) and rough on the leg areas. I didn't want this cloth diaper scratch my newborn's delicate skin so we decided not to use this cloth diaper at all.

No brand cloth diaper with velcro.

Lesson learnt - Price is important but quality is not to be ignored either when it comes to baby products.

In summary, when at home, why not wearing cloth diaper instead of disposable diaper? To some extent, wearing cloth diaper may benefit you, your baby, your family and mother earth too.

Lastly, should you have any recommendations on cloth diaper brands I should try, don't forget to let me know.

**More reviews on cloth diaper to come**

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baby Milestones at 4 Months Old

In September last year, I was struggling with adjusting my new life with the arrival of the 'third' person who came in between my husband and me - our baby. Four months later, I am inseparable from this little person and could not bear spending few hours away from her. I am totally attached to her.

Baby Naomi just turned four months old yesterday and she is getting even more adorable than ever!

Happy 4 months old, girl!

She definitely can recognize my face and scent by now (she almost instantly stops crying whenever I hold her, believe it or not).

My sweet lady.

She can hold her head steady but can't sit without support.

She drools, blows bubbles and recently, really enjoys playing with her own saliva. She also makes noises like "Brrrrrrrrrrr" when she's busy exploring her saliva. If I don't stop her, a minute later - her mouth, chin and cheeks would be all covered with her saliva.

She coos or even squeals whenever her Dad and I talk or sing to her. Too cute!

I have no idea what her Dad does to make her laugh like this 
every time he plays with her.

She smiles and laughs a lot! Every adult loves her because of this.

Told ya!

She can grasp a toy but usually this doesn't last long as she loses her grip pretty fast too at times.

She puts almost everything into her mouth. Her fingers, my fingers, her clothes, her bibs, her toys... Everything that she can grasp will likely go into her mouth.

Your gums are so itchy, huh?

She can touch her own feet when she's lying on her back. What a little gymnast. Mommy can't even touch her toes right now - this is indeed a phenomenal task for an adult who barely exercises.

Kiss me once and you'll want some more.
Thanks to S-26!

The only thing that she's trying hard to accomplish now is rolling over. She's almost there in rolling her body from her back to tummy by herself. I can see this girl gets really frustrated when she's 90% rolled her body but can't quite perfectly accomplish this milestone just yet.

Oh, she's my perfect companion for gardening too.

Be a Mom. Be happy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Restoran Ayam Penyet Best in Seremban

As an Indonesian living overseas, I often crave the real Indonesian cuisines. A lot of people say that Malay cuisine is pretty similar to Indonesian cuisine but I feel that there are still some pretty big differences between the two, especially the sambal. Usually, when I crave Indonesian food (that is quite troublesome to be cooked at home), the nearest place to satisfy my cravings would be the Ayam Penyet (Smashed Fried Chicken) Ria Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur or Balinese Restaurant in Puchong. However, sometimes I am bound to kill the idea of satisfying my taste bud because of the travel distance between Seremban and Kuala Lumpur - quite far just for having lunch/dinner, right?

Few months ago, my husband and I noticed that there is a new Ayam Penyet Restaurant in Seremban called Restoran Ayam Penyet Best. In the beginning, I hesitated to give this restaurant a try because I've tried eating Ayam Penyet at random Malay restaurants in Seremban and Johor but I was not happy with how they prepared the food as their Ayam Penyet was more like Malay style's Ayam Penyet. No pun intended but somehow, I still feel that the authentic Indonesian style's Ayam Penyet is still the best, just like how people in Java make the dish.

One afternoon, my husband brought home a pack of Ayam Penyet, Rawon and Gado-gado from Restoran Ayam Penyet Best in town. Their Ayam Penyet and its sambal taste pretty close to Ria's Ayam Penyet in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore so I was pleased with how they make the dish and thought of visiting their restaurant again some other time to try some other Indonesian dishes they have.

A set of Ayam Penyet, white rice and a glass of Ice Lemon Tea costs RM 8.90.

I find that their Rawon is quite tasty but very salty, even when the soup's eaten with white rice.

Tasty but too salty. 
We don't usually put tomato and long bean sprouts in our Rawon in Indonesia either.

Their Gado-gado is not so fantastic either, unfortunately. Not too flavourful, if I may say.

Restoran Ayam Penyet Best's Gado-gado.

Nevertheless, I was still determined to go to their restaurant once more and check out the other penyet dishes they have.

Seremban's Restoran Ayam Penyet Best's Menu Book.

The first time I dined in at their restaurant, I ordered a set of Ayam Penyet (which includes a plate of white rice and a glass of Ice Lemon Tea) and Bakso Penyet (Smashed Fried Beef Meatball). My husband and I love their Bakso Penyet - we find this dish is delicious and don't mind ordering this particular dish every time we eat at this restaurant again.

Our must-have penyet dish. I love, love, love their Bakso Penyet.
Bakso Penyet costs Rm 7.50. Additional white rice costs RM 1.20/plate.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to this restaurant again for dinner. We ordered Bakso Penyet, Empal Penyet (Smashed Sweet Marinated Fried Beef) and Sayur Asam.

Their Empal Penyet is not bad and we like it; although the fried beef was a little bit chewy for my jaw.

A set of Empal Penyet, white rice and a glass of Ice Lemon Tea costs RM 8.90.

Moving on, I was quite disappointed with their Sayur Asam though. It was very salty and the tamarind soup tastes quite weird. I did not enjoy their Sayur Asam, let alone finish the whole bowl.

Sayur Asam costs RM 4 per bowl.

Yesterday evening when my husband and I had our dinner at this restaurant, we had a chat with the kind lady bosses. One of them helped us carry Baby Naomi who happened to be very fussy at the time when our food was served. She carried Baby Naomi until she fell asleep in her arms so both husband and I could enjoy our food. The owner explains that this Restoran Ayam Penyet Best in Seremban is just one of the many Ayam Penyet Best restaurants in Malaysia. My husband actually told her that it's great to have at least one Indonesian restaurant in Seremban so we don't have to go all the way to Kuala Lumpur just to get some real Indonesian food.

I will certainly introduce the Indonesian Penyet dishes to Baby Naomi when she's bigger.
Without the hot sambal, for sure.

In conclusion, Restoran Ayam Penyet Best's penyet dishes are worth trying if you want to eat really authentic Indonesian food in Seremban. The food is affordable, the service is nice and their sambal is above average - very close to sambal you find in Indonesia.

**Updates in July 2014**

Both my husband and I feel that this restaurant's food quality control has dropped significantly and this restaurant serves food that is substandard for my liking be it taste, freshness and authenticity. I think we won't be going to this restaurant again for quite some time. Too bad.

** Restoran Ayam Penyet Best **
Address: 35, Jalan Tunku Hassan, 7000 Seremban, Negeri Sembilan (opposite HSBC).

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Post-partum Hair Loss

There is an old belief saying that when the newborn baby starts drooling, that's when the mother starts losing her hair.

When my baby started drooling, I too, started losing my hair.

I thought it was just a myth until few weeks ago, I start noticing my hair became relatively thinner every time I pony-tail it and see more hair strands of mine getting so messy on the floor. Also, I get pretty irritated and tired sweeping the floor more and more frequently as I could not stand the sight of my hair strands laying about everywhere in the house. Not to mention, my shower drain is now full with my falling hair strands after I wash my hair so I have to scoop the hair out of it more often. 

When I was pregnant, I had luscious hair and experienced very little hair fall. I saw lesser hair in my shower drain, hardly spotted hair mess on the floor and whenever I pony-tailed my hair I could feel that my hair was thicker than during my pre-pregnancy days. I am sure that it was the pregnancy hormones who did the magic! However, some friends warned me about the potential of post-partum hair loss. They advised me to just cut my hair shorter before I delivered my baby to avoid serious hair fall because long hair tends to fall out easily. I took their advice seriously and cut my hair short when I was about 7 months pregnant to prevent dramatic hair loss post baby delivery. From sporting a waist-length hair for many years, I went to shoulder-length hairstyle - just like Disney's Mulan's hairstyle when she's about to join the war. Hate it but had to do it.

With shorter hair, apparently I still could not escape from this post-partum hair fall. Currently, I don't do any special hair treatment regime for my hair fall just yet. To date, I just wash my hair with anti hair fall shampoo that I have been using for ages and put on hair conditioner (for-hair fall) after washing my hair. I thought of trying to eat more mungbean soup, which is believed to promote hair growth, but have not been able to do it because I am too lazy to cook it every day. Sigh.

I understand that post-partum hair loss is nothing to worry about since my hair should be back to normal in few months time. It's just a bit terrifying to see a lot of hair mess everywhere in the house and realizing that it all comes from my head! Let me know if you have the tips in temporarily battling the post-partum hair loss. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Chocolate and Peanut Butter Monkey Cake

I was highly inspired by HHB's latest blog post on her monkey cake that she baked for her son's birthday. I think her Monkey Cake is adorable and pretty doable for a beginner home-baker like myself.

I've been brewing the idea of baking an animal designed birthday cake for the kids for quite some time. Yesterday happened to be my nephew's and niece's birthday celebration at my Mother-in-Law (MIL)'s house so I thought of baking this cute Monkey Cake for them. In short, on Friday evening, I hesitated no more. I put my baby girl on her stroller, took all the baking utensils out of my kitchen cabinet and started whipping the cake batter. Luckily, my baby behaved incredibly well on the evening when Mommy was busy in the kitchen.

I didn't have any bananas at home so instead of making a banana cake as stated in the original HHB's Monkey Cake's recipe, I baked a simple chocolate cake for the cake base and used chocolate rice for the monkey face decoration instead of chocolate rice cereals. I seldom eat cereals for breakfast so I was not so eager in buying, hence, wasting a big box of rice cereal just for the sake of one-time cake's decoration.

Here's how I put the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Monkey Birthday Cake together.

My first animal cake: Chocolate and Peanut Buttercream Monkey Cake.

Chocolate and Peanut Buttercream Monkey Cake

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Cake:
  • See the recipe here.

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
  • 100gr Unsalted butter, melted
  • 50gr Cocoa powder
  • 60ml Liquid milk
  • 300gr Icing sugar
  • Vanilla extract

For the Peanut Buttercream: 
  • 50gr Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 30gr Icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp Liquid Milk
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Butter

For the Cake's Decoration:
  • 2 Chocolate chips
  • 1 large round cookie
  • Chocolate rice

Tutorials:

  1. To make the base cake: Please refer to this recipe.
  2. To prepare the chocolate buttercream frosting: Stir in the cocoa powder and vanilla extract into the melted butter. Alternately add the icing sugar and milk into the melted butter, beating to spreading consistency by using medium speed electric mixer.
  3. Fill and set aside a tablespoon of the chocolate buttercream in a piping bag for the Monkey's nose and mouth decoration.
  4. Let the chocolate cake completely cool down before frosting or decorating the cake with the chocolate and peanut buttercream.
  5. To make the peanut buttercream: Beat the unsalted butter with high-speed electric mixer until creamy. Add icing sugar and peanut butter. Keep beating until the cream is pale and fluffy. Add liquid milk and keep mixing until you get the desired consistency. Set aside.
  6. To assemble: On the chocolate cake surface, draw a face of a monkey with a toothpick for easy guideline. Evenly spread the peanut butter cream on the monkey face's outline. Place 2 chocolate chips on the face for the monkey's eyes and draw the monkey's nose and mouth using the chocolate buttercream inside the piping bag.
  7. Frost the remaining cake with the chocolate buttercream and pour the chocolate rice on top of the chocolate buttercream.
  8. Halve a cookie and place each of them on the each side of the cake as the monkey's ears.

A perfect animal cake design for kid's birthday.

The kids were beyond excited when I presented the Monkey Cake to them. One of my nephews claimed that the Monkey Cake mimics him so well because his hairstyle is almost bald and he has very big ears too - just like the monkey.

And oh, this cake marks the first cake that I bake in 2013!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reading to My Baby

They say reading to baby is never too early. Although he or she won't understand what we read to them yet but this effort will somehow eventually pay off. Some women even start this habit when they're pregnant.

I didn't.

I only started reading one kiddie book to my 3-month old baby as of three days ago.

Over the weekend, I bought this "The Ugly Duckling" fairy tale book that is full of large colourful ducklings, duck and swans illustrations. The story is told in rhyming text so the publisher says this book is perfect for little ones.

Naomi's first book.

My baby only pays attention for three seconds from the first time I start reading to her, then her eyes would wander around.

Obviously, she is not listening...
Too young to concentrate?

I have been reciting "The Ugly Duckling" story to my baby like ten times in the past three days. By this time, I think I roughly remember the book's content already. "Mother Duck sits on her nest. Ducklings hatch. One is not yellow and scruffy too. Sad, off he swims to faraway lake. By spring, he becomes a handsome swan; flying high, very grand. Ugly Duckling is now happy with his swan friends. The end."

I don't know how long I can make this habit last. I love my baby, but sometimes this routine is ridiculously a bit too boring for adult. It's either I drop this reading habit until she grows a bit older, read to her less frequently or buy more kiddie books for my reading materials variety.

Reminiscing 2012

Today is the second day of 2013. 2012 has officially become a history, as of yesterday.

Looking back, I think 2012 was a really BIG year for me.

In 2012:

I baked more cookies and cakes when I was pregnant (because I had the mood and chances!). And here's (cheers) to more baking in 2013!

I went back to my home country, Indonesia - only once! For the first time in so many years.

My husband caught dengue fever from our last visit to Indonesia and he had to stay in hospice for almost a week. I was pregnant at that time and it was quite a trying time for me, physically and emotionally.

I sort of lost my professional life, hence my fixed income. Due to various circumstances and personal choice, I decided to become a stay-at-home wife/Mom. *bye for now, my cum laude double-degree in International Business Management and career in Singapore*


I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. 

Can't thank God enough for His marvellous gift to us, baby Naomi.

My husband and I finally moved to our very own dream home.

I lost my uncle in Indonesia.

I lost my dear parental Grandma in Indonesia. I only managed to see her once in 2012. I regret I didn't take more photos with her when I was in Indonesia, spend more time with her nor attend her funeral because I had to take care of my newborn in Malaysia.

Overall, 2012 was a bitter-sweet year to me.

I have a feeling 2013 is going to be another happening year for you and me. In a good way, I hope. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mommy's Toilet Breaks

Do you know that one of the perks in being a new Mom is not being able to go to the loo on-time?

There are days when nature calls me but I can't immediately answer it just because I happen to be busy attending a fussy baby or it coincides with my baby's feeding time which has just started. The husband happens to be not around either so I got no one to turn to at home. It's just the baby and me. In short, when this happens, Mommy has to cross her legs a little tighter, bite her lip and clench some parts of her body for indefinite period of time. Hold it, hold it.

That's me, carrying my baby.

Some people advise me to just 'neglect' my baby in her baby cot for few minutes and go clear my system in the toilet whenever I get the urge to go to the loo. "Never mind - let her cry. Crying is good for your baby's lungs.", they say. However, the truth is, it is not that simple to just leave my awake baby in her baby cot and do whatever I need to do in the toilet for few minutes. My baby can't entertain herself just yet, sometimes she refuses her baby toy and/or simply wants to be carried; else, she'd get really upset and her anger would soon manifest into burst of long loud inconsolable cries that will make anyone's eardrums perforate and heart break.

Usually, as the waste material in my stomach starts moving downward, I begin to contemplate. Should I go now or later? The little red devil soon hastily dances on my left shoulder and whispers on my left ear, "Just go lah, woman! You can also bring your baby to the toilet too with you, right? It IS possible to sit on the toilet and carry your baby at the same time. Go, go, go! Do it now!" Then, the divine white angel pokes me and whispers on my right ear, "Dear Christine, please reconsider. Be wise. Do you really want to expose your baby to germs and unseen bacteria in your toilet? In addition, please don't let your baby breathe the smelly air in your toilet after you empty your bowel. She is a mere innocent little darling." Both shoulder angel and devil leave me really conflicted and I instantly mumble, "What should I do? What should I do?" like 3 to 5 times. Finally, I take a good look at my baby's beautiful face and decide to just shoo the little red devil out of my left shoulder and scram the urge to go the toilet as well.

In conclusion, seemingly, being a new Mom may mean ignoring the important call of nature once in a while. I must confess, sometimes I do get constipated because of this and I really hope I won't contract any bladder infection from holding my pee too often when I couldn't run to the toilet and empty my bladder.

Other mothers out there, have you ever experienced this too?