New Start

Today started with a lot of anxiety and worry (for me)! MilkyBar was far more relaxed and calm. We reached our school with plenty of time to settle in and he was off! Leaving poor Mummy and Daddy to fend for ourselves :)

There will be lots of ups and downs but I am sure that we will get through them and come up tops!

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Happy New Year!

In just a couple of hours, it will be start of a whole new year. 2013 has been mostly good, with some bittersweet moments (eg. MilkyBar graduating from kindergarten) to fun ones (eg, we had 2 short vacations plus several outings). There was lots of learning with MilkyBar (eg. I introduced lapbooking) as well as for me (eg. by starting this blog).

2014 will be a new chapter in our family as MilkyBar will be in primary school and I may take on more work-from-home projects. Hopefully, our lives will continue to improve and that we will be blessed with health, joy and love.

I am not a fan of new years’ resolutions but I found this lovely idea on the Scholastic website about having a Reading Resolution. MilkyBar was too young to participate in any new years celebrations so I thought this year, it would be nice to do this with him. Some of his reading resolutions are: To read 10 books a month, to try 2 new genres, and to find out the meanings to words he doesn’t understand. I received a 2014 planner from the World Wildlife Fund so we made that into his reading journal to keep track of the books he has read. He was so excited and couldn’t wait to fill it in although I told him that we can only start tomorrow!

Happy New Year everyone!

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On this day…

14 Dec 2007 – I finally got to meet you at 7.30 pm. After an initial cry, you went silent and focused your eyes on me as if trying to recognise me. I will never forget that moment. You were so tiny and calm and perfect. I counted your curled up fingers and toes and marveled at how perfectly formed they were. I promised myself that I would always love, care and protect you while still allowing you to learn and grow with life.

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14 Dec 2013 – You turn 6 today! Imagine that! As cliched as it may sound, time really flew by. You will be starting a new journey into primary school life and I wish that your school years ahead will be filled with wonderment, adventure, the feeling of finding a best friend who will be there for you. Life will be hard at times but always remember that we are here for you and that together we can make our lives rich and fulfilling. May you go to be a fine young gentleman. I love you, my not-so- little MilkyBar.

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Lunches for the week #32

20131121_202743[2] The first week of the school holidays just ended and although MilkyBar was down with a  little cold earlier in the week, he is back to his usual self after a couple of days of drinking ginger-lemon-fenugreek tea and having simple light meals.

Mon: Mince beef and lentil porridge

Tues: Baked egg with swiss cheese, herbed flatbread, baby carrot and cherry tomato with pesto dip

Wed: Tuna puff, baby carrot and cherry tomato, golden kiwi

Thur: Thai-style fried noodles and plum

Fri: leftover dinner (more on that below)

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Mince and lentil porridge

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Baked egg, flatbread, crudities with pesto

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Tuna puff, baby carrot and cherry tomato, golden kiwi

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Thai-style noodles, plum

On Thurs night, my mum came over for a visit so decided to make an Indian dinner of Aloo Chapatti (Chapatti filled with seasoned mashed potato), Murgh Burtha (Minced chicken in a spicy tomatoey sauce) and Dhal Tadka. Super yummy and wholesome! The meal was also quick to put together and the flavours went well with each other. The recipe for  Murgh Burtha was from a book that I had picked from the library a week earlier, titled Passage thru’ India. Named after a famous Indian restaurant in Malaysia, Chef PS Kadam’s book has some really nice recipes that I can’t wait to try out. Dishes like Chicken Pakoda, Rista and many more have been made simple for the home cook.

I adapted the Murgh Burtha recipe by using diced chicken breast and by browning the meat before adding to the sauce. The dish is mild and quite economical. It will also go great with naan, regular chapatti, rice or even regular plain ol’ bread.

Murgh Burtha (Adapted from Passage thru’ India book)

2 chicken breasts (diced)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onions (chopped)
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 green chillies (chopped)
1 large tomato (chopped)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves
1 tbsp butter

Mix the chicken with a pinch of turmeric and red chilli powder. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan. Once heated, add the chicken. Fry til lightly golden brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add the cumin seeds. Once popped, add the onions and let saute til lightly golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Saute again for 2 min. Add the tomato and saute for 1 min. Stir in the turmeric, coriander and chilli powder. Saute til well-fried and the spices have released their oils. Put in the chicken and stir well. You may need to add a couple tsp of water to prevent the spices from burning. Add the egg and then season with salt, kasoori methi and garam masala. Continue to saute. Add the coriander leaves and adjust the consistency of the sauce with a little water. Stir in the butter. Serve hot.

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A Holiday and Cultural lesson

Recently, we hitchhiked with hubby who was on a 6-day business trip to Bangkok. It was a first for MilkyBar and me so we were really excited. Since we would be spending most of the days on our own while (poor) hubby had to work, I decided to include some learning activities for MilkyBar. Before we left, we read some of our Atlas and Geography books as well as some online sites.

We had a great time exploring our part of the city and used the local transit system for our daily excursions. MilkyBar learnt some Thai words, used Thai money to purchase our tickets, and he even became very familiar with the names of some of the transit stations.

We both love Thai food and so we also learnt about the important crops and products produced in Thailand. We made a trip to a huge local supermarket and looked (and bought) some local ingredients and food products to try.

As the majority of the people in Thailand are Buddhists, we went to a local shrine near our apartment and learnt about the religion, customs and some of their practices. We also learnt about the Thai royal family and their importance. Overall, I was really happy to be able to include our lessons in our trip.

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Busy streets of Bangkok

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View from our room

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Thai artwork

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BTS train

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At the Suvarnabhumi airport

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Daytime busy streets

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Night market at Chit Lom

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Night market at Chit Lom

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Station nearest to our residence

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Tom Yum soup

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Thai-style chicken and vege

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MilkyBar’s fav – Pineapple Rice

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Elephants are important to Thai people

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Lobby at our apartment

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Thai food products – dried fruit, pineapple jams, spice pastes

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Cloth bags and accessories made in Thailand

 When we got back home, we did up a simple lapbook to put all our ideas together. I also included a writing journal that we did for our Phuket trip last year. The resources ere from various online sites.

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Front cover

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Worksheets on the Thai flag and places of interest

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Fact sheet on Thailand

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Fact sheet on Thailand

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Thai traditional costume paper doll

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Maps and postcards from our trips

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Inside cover

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Inside cover

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Some of the books we used

Bittersweet

Am back! I haven’t realised that its been awhile since I wrote something here. Lots has been happening, so much so that I haven’t been able to put all my thoughts down. I do apologise for going AWOL.

Anyway, as cliched as this may sound, but time really flies. MilkyBar has graduated from Kindergarten and will be heading off to Primary school next Jan. With all the planning for the holidays (more on that later), birthday celebration planning (more on that too) and preparing for his religious class exams, his regular school work and all, it finally struck me today as I folded his school uniform that he has GRADUATED. He would not be wearing this uniform anymore and that I have to unpacked his school bag. I think I (ok, I admit, I did) tear up abit…. my baby will be off to a whole new journey soon! This poem kind of sums it up for me…

Growing Up Too Fast

You are growing up too too fast.
Mommy can’t believe you are going to primary school.
Just a second ago it seems,
You were in play school,
Those days have quickly passed.
I’m afraid to blink my eyes out of fear
You will be entering JC and then university
And beginning your own family.
I’m so proud of you,
But you are growing up too fast to me.

He had a fun time at his graduation ceremony. The theme was Jumanji and all the kids put up skits and songs related to Nature and Animals. MilkyBar was part of the ‘Tiger’ group and he looked adorable in his tiger costume and makeup. It was a fun and heartwarming day for all the parents. I am appreciative of all his teachers as they have made his first steps into school such a positive and happy one.

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Lunches for the week #31

IMAG3232It was the Hari Raya Haji or Eid-ul Adha last week. A time when Muslims around the world remember the Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice. As part of the 5 pillars of Islam, Muslims of means are encouraged to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, once in their lifetime. At home, we sacrifice lamb/sheep to distribute the meat to the needy.

MilkyBar was excited to go for the special Eid-ul Adha prayers in the morning and we spent the day at my mum’s place. My sis is back home for a month so we were really happy to meet up with her too.

IMAG3227 I baked a fudgy Chocolatey cake filled with cherries. It got a little damaged though upon arrival at mum’s place but was still gorgeously gooey and chocolatey, with the cherries providing a lovely sweet contrast.

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Our delicious spread prepared by mummy dearest. Plus a special menu for her darling MilkyBar – grilled chicken and stirfried vegetables with quail eggs and shrimp. Later in the afternoon, it was tea-time with my chocolate cake and a chocolate and orange marble cake.

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This week’s lunches were quick ones as we were feeling pretty stuffed with food.

Thurs: Tuna and sweetcorn burgers with lettuce and olives in pitta bread, honey cherry tomatoes and half a nectarine.

Fri: Salmon sandwich with alfalfa sprouts in pitta bread, cherry tomatoes, golden kiwi.

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Tuna and sweetcorn burgers, honey cherry tomatoes, nectarine

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Salmon sandwich, cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit

Lunches for the week #30

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BBQ time with Aunt R

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Potato wedges, drilled corn, chicken cheese dogs, cuttlefish balls and sweet-spicy chicken

A great week that started with a BBQ at my mum’s place to welcome my sis back home and after the school week, it was baking time to make some Hari Raya Haji cookies. Will get to that on my next post.

Mon: Baked fish fillet, edamame and alfalfa sprouts salad, mandarin orange and grape cup

Tues: Vegetable hash with purple cabbage coleslaw, cauliflower fritters, grape cup

Wed: Leftover roast chicken and potato wedges, fruity couscous, grape cup

Thurs: lunch out

Fri: Chicken finger wraps, baked beans, grape cup

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Baked fish fillets, edamame beans and alfalfa sprout salad, mandarin orange and grapes

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Vegetable hash, purple cabbage coleslaw, cauliflower fritters, grapes

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Roasted chicken and potato, fruity couscous, cherry tomatoes, grapes

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Chicken finger wraps, baked beans, grapes

Tues’s Vegetable Hash is a tasty and fast way to get veges into a meal. I love that its a great way to use up leftover vegetables that are lying about in the fridge. The important thing is to make sure that the vegetables are about the same size so that they cook evenly.

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Quick Vegetable Hash (adapted from Seriously Good! Cooking for Kids)

2 medium potatoes (chopped into cubes)
3 small carrots (chopped into cubes)
1/2 medium head cauliflower (cut into bite-sized florets)
Other vegetables – I like adding sweet potatoes, beetroot, green beans, etc (chopped into cubes/bite-sized pieces)
4 tbsp olive oil1 medium onion (diced)
1 reduced-salt chicken stock cube (I use an organic very low salt vegetable cube from Kallo)
Black pepper

Steam the ‘hard’ vegetables (potatoes, carrots)  in the microwave on High for 3 min til just tender. Steam the ‘softer’ vegetables (green beans, cauliflower) for 2 min. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook til slightly browned. Add the vegetables and cook til they take a little colour and caramelise. Add the crumbled stock cube, 100ml water and a generous amount of black pepper.
Stir well and cook over high heat, til stock cube dissolves and liquid reduces slightly; making the dish nice and moist but not wet. Serve warm.

For some textural contrast, I often serve the hash with a Purple Cabbage Slaw. It’s really simple to make. Do note, however, that the purple cabbage will turn slightly bitter if cut in advanced. So make it just when you are about to eat.