Monday, July 21, 2014

NoQ Store: Best-Priced Books at Your Fingertips!

Once upon a time, I was a bookworm. I loved going to book shops to get comics and popular fiction books and could spend hours reading those in my room. However, with the arrival of digital era, sadly I don't really read books that much any more.

Since Naomi entered my life though, I've rekindled my old flame with book shops again. In fact, one of my favourite spots in the malls now is book shop. I fancy buying parenting magazine for myself and getting lots and lots of kiddie books for my little one. I enjoy reading to my little girl and make books available everywhere in our house, even in our car, for Naomi's 'healthy' entertainment. Just google the benefits of reading books to toddlers and you will know why I am addicted to getting story books, first words books or even activity books such as colouring or sticker books for my kid.


Little lady boss flipping through her first words books.

Recently, I was introduced to NoQ Store, an online book store with a database of more than 14 million titles, spanning across genres like Children's, Educational, Parenting, Fiction, Cookbooks, Magazines and many more. With this, book lovers and literature aficionados, I have good news for you. Rain or shine, you can now purchase your books at the best, marked down prices, without the hassles of driving to the book shop and queueing there.


NoQ Store Website.

As there were like tons of interesting books titles to choose from NoQ Store, I actually spent quite a long time in front of my laptop browsing for the books that I really wanted to order for Naomi. At one point of time, I was thinking of getting a colouring book for Naomi because these days she is madly in love with colouring books. I searched and searched for colouring books in the website but could not find any. Then, I decided to ask NoQ Helpdesk via its chat box at the bottom right corner of the website. While I thought that nobody would reply my 'urgent' question of where and how to find a certain book category, I was surprised to learn that in just less than 5 seconds after typing my question in the chat box, I was given the solution to find the book category already!

Me asking for help to find a book category. 

After I confirmed the books that I wanted to order from NoQ Store, all I had to do was waiting for the books to arrive at my doorsteps. As it takes time for NoQ Store to source our books at the best price from overseas and ensure quality control, our books will be delivered within 7-14 days after order is placed.

Not long ago, I've finally received my books from NoQ Store and they all came in a good shape and within the promised time frame! I couldn't be happier to present these books to Naomi for her reading collections.

Hello, new books!

Here's Naomi enjoying her new high-quality reads from NoQ Store.

 Naomi and her Touch and Feel baby book.

 Where's the fish?

So busy with her new books.

**SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE**

NoQ Store is offering an exclusive 15% discount on all purchases for my blog readers. All you have to do is key in WANDERING under the 'Voucher and Promotion Code' at checkout. This discount code is valid until 31 November 2014 so hurry up; with just few clicks away, get your favourite books now while promotion lasts!

Happy shopping and reading, guys!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Making DIY Play Dough for Kids

I have been meaning to introduce play dough to my 22 m/o girl for quite a while but my husband always thought that Naomi is too young for this activity plus the box of our play dough set in Naomi's drawer says that this toy is suitable for kids age 3 and above.

When I saw some Moms posting their DIY play dough that they created for their kids younger than Naomi in their Instagram accounts, I was intrigued to do the same. Hence, this weekend I thought of introducing DIY play dough, which is non-toxic and more economical, to Naomi to see if she really can have fun with this sensory play material. On top of that, I wanted to make sure that my daughter would not consume anything hazardous (from her play dough) as she still has the tendency to put random things she finds into her mouth.

My first DIY play dough for Naomi.

I based my play-dough recipe from this source but along the way, I made some adjustments with the amount of the flour when kneading the play dough until I reached the non-sticky play dough consistency that I desired. Moreover, my methods in creating the play dough were slightly different from the original recipe because I wanted to save the ingredients and check the final results first. Instead of adding one food colouring to the boiling water and then pouring it into the whole dry ingredients which would yield to one colour play dough; I made the white play dough first, split that into several parts and kneaded/mixed each part with few different food colouring. This way I could create play dough with different colours by using one recipe.

Naomi and her play dough: Why so serious?

Easy DIY Play Dough

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups All-purpose flour
  • Some extra flour for kneading
  • 2 tbs Vegetable oil
  • Some salt (I omitted this)
  • 2 tbs Cream of tar-tar
  • Up to 1.5 cups of boiling water (adding in increments until the mixture feels just right)
  • Food colouring, as desired

Tutorials:
  1. Mix flour, oil and cream of tar-tar in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the boiling water to the dry ingredients. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky combined dough.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool down. Split the white dough into several parts depending on the number of food colouring available or coloured play doughs you want to create.
  4. Put a part of the white dough and few drops of food colouring in a dry working surface that is dusted with some flour. Knead the dough vigorously for few minutes until the stickiness has gone. You might need to add a touch more flour to the play dough to reach the right consistency you want. Using different colours of food colouring you have, do the same to the rest of the play dough.

As today was my very first time in creating DIY play dough for Naomi, I halved the ingredients of the above recipe. When "serving" this play dough to Naomi, I provided her with my plastic cookie cutters as well so she, or rather we, could create better shapes with the play dough. I also let Naomi explore this colourful play dough with her plastic cooking utensil toys to pepper extra fun.

Naomi was telling me some stories about her play dough in baby language.

Naomi was so serious when she moulded the play dough with her Dad earlier this afternoon. She babbled a lot too when playing with her plastic cooking utensil toys and play dough shapes that her Dad created. With this, I guess I can conclude that she must have had a good time playing with her play dough.

Daddy and Mommy's play dough creations for Naomi.

Playing with play dough is indeed so much fun. At the same time, it develops kids' hand skills and helps kids express their creativity. I personally think that play dough is a great toy for parents to introduce to their children as an effort to move their kids away from digital devices or TV.

P/S. Some tips: (1) I would strongly encourage adults to supervise their toddlers when playing with play dough as it may present choking hazard to kids who consistently put things into their mouths. (2) It's also best to cover your table or floor with some old news papers when playing play dough so you won't have to deal with play dough stuck on your table top or all over the floor later on. (3) For hygiene purpose, remember to wash your and your kids' hands after playing with play dough.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Flaunt Your Bump: 26 Weeks Along

My second trisemester flew by just like that and luckily it's a smooth sailing (except the usual back pain, haemorrhoid, sciatica and very pregnant bladder). In a few weeks' time, I will officially enter the last trisemester of this pregnancy and in around 3 months' time, I'd be checking into the labour room (again!).

After about two months of silence and laziness in terms of baby bump's picture taking, this morning I finally put on some make up prior to going to the hospital for my monthly antenatal visit. Just before we left our house, I asked my husband to snap some pictures of me and my obvious bump as my second pregnancy mementos.

When pregnant, I love to look pregnant, show off my pregnancy curves and flaunt my bump. This is how I look now.

26 weeks pregnant.

I have apparently gained 6kg (only!) thus far which means I put on merely 0.5kg in the past month. When I was pregnant with Naomi, I gained like 10kg already by the time I touched the 25th week. Good thing is that baby boy's current weight is still within the normal range so my gynae said nothing to worry about with my not-so-much weight gain. Well, talk about being pregnant and having to take care a very active toddler full time, among other things. You just have no time to pig out. Even if you do, you get plenty of opportunities during the day to burn those calories.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Monkey See Monkey Do

My soon-to-be 22 m/o daughter has been watching Disney's Cinderella cartoon once in a while. Sometimes Naomi refuses to watch Cinderella and passes me the TV remote control so I could change another cartoon for her to watch (she's very picky with her cartoons by the way). However, there are times when she is all giggly and smiley when she watches Cinderella's singing with the birds, the mice cute "Work Song" and even the evil cat, Lucifer, chasing the mice. Naomi also enjoys watching (or God forbids, maybe swoons over) the scene where Prince Charming dances with Cinderella at the Royal Ball.

Naomi's expressions when watching her favourite cartoons.

Little did I know, seemingly Naomi has been mirroring and adopting some of the cartoon's scenes into her real life.

Examples:

One night, Naomi wanted to create some toddler graffiti on our bedroom's wall with her colouring pencil. When I saw that, I quickly moved her away from the wall but Naomi got so angry and was so adamant to pour her creative juice to the wall. Her Dad then reprimanded her that drawing on the wall is a big no-no in our house and said, "Hey, Naomi, don't do that! (不可以!)".

I was expecting major tantrums as Naomi didn't get what she wanted but seconds later my husband and I actually witnessed Naomi's new crying pattern. She ran to our bed's edge, covered her face and cried after her father scolded her. She just didn't want to show us her crying face and kept on crying like this for few good minutes. Just like how a very unhappy and weepy older kid would react.

Crying scene: Cinderella vs. Naomi.

Deep inside, I reckoned Naomi was mimicking Cinderella's crying scene after her step-sisters spoil her dress. As I thought this imagination of mine could not be so true and my daughter is all too young for this, I didn't think much of Naomi's new crying behaviour until few days later; I noticed that whenever my upset Naomi cried, she still covered her face on our bed like the above picture.

Last night, I realized that this Disney's Princess classic has really taken its toll on Naomi. Just before bed time, Naomi was having some time out with Cinderella again. Meanwhile, my husband was reading some online articles on super bikes and I was lying on my bed, just chilling out while watching some videos on YouTube with my phone.

I was so engrossed in watching the funny video in front of me and was actually laughing out loud when suddenly I screamed because out of the blue, *POW* I felt some serious pain in my head. Naomi apparently just whacked my head with the TV remote control for no reason. My husband immediately scolded her for hitting me in the head like that but Naomi was acting dumb, unapologetic or maybe she was just didn't really know what's going on.

I was so angry and in pain that I almost did a revenge on my kiddo but no, for your information, I did not hit Naomi back with the TV remote control. I just curled in my bed hoping that the pain in my head would soon go away.

Thinking back, did Naomi hit my head with the remote control really for no reason? The answer is no.

It's highly likely that Naomi just mimicked another scene from Cinderella animated movie. I am pretty sure that Naomi just saw Cinderella's ugly step-sisters fighting where Drizella hits Anastasia's head with a flute during their horrible singing session. Somehow Naomi found that particular scene was so inspirational and it prompted her to grab the TV remote control next to my feet and hit Mommy's head with it. Duh!

While I agree that mimicking is a marvellous milestone for kids but can you see that toddlers are imitating our every move or other things they see and yet, they can't filter what's good and what's not to mimic? The latter is indeed scary and we don't want that. Maybe I should ban Cinderella and welcome Pocoyo more in my house?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Making Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cupcakes

Although it seems that I have not baking for a long time, I have actually been baking in the past 3 weekends or so. It's just that in the previous baking attempts, my final products didn't look so fantastic (though they tasted pretty good) so I opted not to upload them in my blog.

This morning the baking bugs bit me again and I thought of making some easy and simple moist cupcakes using the cream cheese leftover in my fridge. I first discovered the original cupcake recipe from a baking group on Facebook sometime ago but I could not remember which one. On another unrelated note, Naomi decided to act super clingy when I was halfway preparing the cake batter so I had to carry her whilst making the cupcake batter. So Moms, perhaps it is a good idea to get busy in the kitchen when your kids are napping or something.

Anyway, what I made earlier today was Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cupcakes because I simply thought plain vanilla cupcakes would be too boring. 

Starting my weekend with a basket full of cupcakes!

Here's the modified recipe that I used for making my cupcakes today:

Chocolate Vanilla Marble Cupcakes

Ingredients:
  • 130gr Cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150gr Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150-180gr Fine sugar, depends on the sweetness you want to achieve
  • Few drops of Vanilla extract
  • 3 Big eggs
  • 220gr Self-raising flour
  • 1tbs Milk powder, optional
  • 2 tbs Cocoa powder, sifted

Tutorial:
  1. Sift together flour and milk powder, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla extract until creamy by using high-speed electric mixer.
  3. Add eggs one by one into the batter and mix well.
  4. Fold the sifted flour into the cake batter by using spatula until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, pour some of the white cake batter to the cocoa powder and mix well.
  6. Alternately spoon the white and chocolate batter into cupcake moulds/liners and make swirl on the cupcakes by using a skewer or toothpick. Don't fill too much batter into the cupcake liners or they will overflow as they bake. 
  7. Bake the cupcakes in a preheated oven at 180 degree Celcius for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
** This recipe makes more than about a dozen of cupcakes or slightly more.

The inside of the marble cupcakes.

The above recipe (minus the cocoa powder) is actually a vanilla pound cake recipe but it can be turned into cupcakes, if you want to. I have tested this adaptable recipe two weeks ago by adding some fresh lemon juice and rind into the cake batter. The lemon cupcakes I made tasted yummy but sadly they didn't look pretty because I poured too much batter in the cupcake liners. You can always get creative with this basic cupcake recipe by making lemon cupcakes, orange cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, cupcakes with fruit jam, etc.