A stash of a different kind.

Breastmilk goodness!

Before I continue on, am sharing this on my main blog because I’d like my non-mummy friends who are intending on walking down the path of marriage and family to know that exclusive breastfeeding is hard BUT it is possible!

I have been breastfeeding exclusively for the past 8 months; being a SAHM made it easier – just latch her on and voila, she has had a feed. Not a problem if we go out or stay at home. Sure we ran into a problem or two along the way – distractable baby woes, blocked ducts, milk blebs, etc – but essentially, breastfeeding was a wonderful journey for me. Especially when I got to see how lovely Eva has grown just on my milk.

We got thrown a new challenge recently – me going back to work. Eva has never been on a bottle – a consequence of me refusing to introduce anything other than my boobs to her (pacifier included) – but since it’s been over two months since she started solid food and is familiar with the straw cup, I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. But essentially, my challenge was to stockpile some milk in the freezer before going back to work. Easy for some mums who have been pumping since their confinement days but me? The last time my pump saw any action was last November!

So from the beginning of last week, I broke out the pump and started pumping while nursing her. It was a bit tough at first as she would refuse to nurse alongside the darn electric pump – it was just too distracting. Besides, I wasn’t getting much milk out. So I switched to the manual function and things got much much better. I got to pump while she nursed, which is great because it promotes faster letdown which cuts back on my pumping time.

Judging from what I can pump out, Eva drinks about 2 oz of milk every four hours – any more and she would scream hell or bite me. She has always been drinking this amount since she turned 3 months old and after a while, I figured that it was better for everyone that we don’t bother about the numbers and go with how happy and satisfied she was after each feed (instead of me trying to cram my boobs into her mouth and her screaming and crying). So that means I would need about 6 oz of milk a day and after pumping four times a day – I get about 1 oz per boob – I end up usually with a nice 4-5 oz at the end of a day.

But a couple of days into the pump routine, she decides that she didn’t want any more milk at 1130pm so we decided to let her sleep through and I’d pump that feed out. If I keep up this routine at the office – pump at 9am, 1pm and 5pm – and pump out one night feed, I’d end up with a cool 8 oz for the babysitter each day! Quite fab as she can add the additional amount into her breakfast cereals!

When I first started this, I didn’t really give myself a goal per se – only that I want a good enough bank storage of milk for Eva when I started work. I figured that if I can breastfeed her exclusively for so long, I can store up milk for her AND train her to take it from a cup or a straw cup. Many people would worry about making it but like I tell a lot of new breastfeeding mummies, don’t dwell on the “whether” or “what if”. Instead, think positively and it’ll work out!

As you can see, the milk storage part is almost done.

The stash above shows just one row – there is another row hidden behind – and how I store my milk is slightly different from some people who store them in bottles or bags. Because Eva doesn’t drink much, it’s not exactly a great idea to store a lot of milk in a bag, thaw the whole thing and risk spoilage. So I bought some milk bar trays and freeze my milk in 1 oz bars before storing them in bags. I can squeeze about 5 bars in each bag which is just perfect for my daily marking. To date, I have close to 50 milk bars in my freezer. The bars are just as a back-up as I plan to give the babysitter chilled milk that I’ve pumped out at the office.

As for the getting Eva to drink EBM (expressed breast milk), so far, it’s going as well as can be. If it’s fresh EBM, she has no issues drinking it from the straw but since I don’t have a warmer, she got to try chilled EBM and it didn’t sit down quite well – too cold. She dribble a lot out and in the end, didn’t want to try anymore. I tried warming it the old fashioned way (warm water in a bowl) the next day and served it in some Munchkin training cups. That was better. She dribbled out less and managed to finish about 50ml – the remaining 10ml ended up in her morning cereal. Today we’ll try it again and subsequently, she’ll have one feed via a cup till tomorrow and then two-three feeds during the day via a cup on Friday till the weekend. Hopefully she’ll get the hang of it by the time we get to the babysitter’s.

But yes, it’s a lot of work – breastfeeding exclusively. Definitely not for the lazy or undisciplined.

** Cross-posted on the baby blog **

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Never one for waiting.

Admist the nice weather – rain may not be welcomed for some but it is for us because it just makes everything nice and cool (forget about the humidity and the wet clothes la) – and assignments on free directories plus spinning (and a sleeping baby), there is the constant waiting by the phone.

The waiting comes with mixed feelings. I can hardly believe that April is just around the corner and wish it would stay away for much longer, yet I worry about making the babysitter wait together with me. I’m praying fervently for some good news to a point where I think my prayers are tinged with some desperation. Gah.

If it doesn’t come though, it is a sign of what God really has in store for me? Or…maybe I need to look harder? Hai.

I hate this waiting game.

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Spinning again! w00t!

Spinning up my own blend.

Yes, I broke out my spinning wheel and decided to put an end to my spinning hiatus! So far, it’s been great for my legs – the workout is just fab (move aside, joint health supplements coz old-fashioned exercise at the wheel is all I need!). Now, I didn’t quite start this recently; it was something that had been sitting on my wheel for a while and I decided I had enough of just looking at it but not doing anything about it!

It’s a unique project in the sense that it’s hand-blended – I merge two separate fibres as I’m spinning them – and I’m also working with one white and one coloured fibre. I’m hoping to get a heathered yarn when I’m done plying it as from experience, candy cane coloured singles when plied lend a heathered look to the yarn. With any luck, I should be done with this in a few days, the latest a couple of weeks, depending on my schedule. After that, I’ll probably put it up on the Etsy store or hang on to it as a gift or an addition to my stash.

What are the two fibres, you may ask. Well, one is pure alpaca and handdyed by moi, the other is undyed superwash merino. I’m liking the texture so far and am quite excited to see how this all turns out! 🙂

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Stir Fried Pork with Cincaluk

Stir Fried Pork with Cincaluk (and a slight twist).

I’m not a really big fan of cincaluk, fresh shrimp preserved in brine and sugar before being allowed to ferment, because of its rather overpowering smell and tendency to explode when shaken (a result of its gassy content). However, it’s AWESOME when cooked, particularly with pork and plenty of chillies! This is a Nyonya dish and although my mum isn’t Nyonya, my grandmother was and my mum managed to learn how to make this dish AND cook it regularly as I was growing up. I remember the tangy yet sweet and seafood flavour infused with the pork, and those chillies…just yummy!

For this recipe, I missed out on the tamarind – something which happens when you’re hungry and trying to cook dinner without starving in the process! – but the outcome was still quite delish although that true to the actual recipe itself. I also used pork belly, the only cut of pork meat I have in my freezer/fridge (you may want to bulk up on those best weight loss pills as pork belly is usually fatty!) but my mum makes this dish using lean meat, loin meat to be exact, but feel free to experiment with other cuts, including the ribs.

Stir Fried Pork with Cincaluk

Ingredients

About 400 gms of pork meat
1-2 tbsp cincaluk
3 cloves garlic
3 small-medium sized shallots
1 green chilli
1 red chilli
Light soy sauce
A sprinkle of brown sugar
Oil for stir-frying

* Don’t forget to add in some 1-2 tbsp of tamarind juice (taken from water mixed in with some tamarind pulp) if you want a bit of sour tangy to the dish.

Method

  1. Prepare the meat, chilli, garlic, and shallots by finely slicing them.
  2. In a non-stick wok or pan, fry the garlic and shallots on medium-high heat until fragrant before adding in the cincaluk and chillies. Fry until aromatic.
  3. Add in slices of pork and fry until brown. If you’re adding in tamarind, do it after the meat is cooked.
  4. Add in some sugar, and if necessary, light soy sauce (taste first before adding in the soy sauce). Stir fry until evenly mixed. If you need the dish to be a little bit wet, feel free to add in some water – about 1-2 tablespoons. If it’s too wet, cook it a little longer so that the sauce will thicken.
  5. When ready, dish and serve warm with some rice or other dishes or eat on its own.
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Tom Yum Squid & Prawns

Tom Yum Squid & Prawns

I made this a few days back as I had some prawns stocked up in the fridge since the end of February and wanted to make room for new produce such as meats and fish. Having bought some squid that was on sale from the market, I decided to get some okra as well to make a yummy spicy seafood dish. It has been a while since we had some spicy dish – well, not curried per se but more of a tom yum or sour sauce spice.

I used a pre-made sauce (sorry, not pictures here) as it just make things a whole lot easier, especially these days when Eva is getting stickier due to her two front teeth popping out. Yes, you heard me – I’m busy because my little one has two little pearlies coming out! She has been a gem so far by fussing for a night, then sleeping through the next day and only being sticky during the day. Even then, she’s sticky only in the afternoon. Going out in the mornings help calm her and get her to nap plus she enjoys it as well.

Anyway, back to the dish. With a pre-made sauce, this dish takes less than 30 minutes to cook. Prep time is around 10 minutes – shelling the prawns, cleaning the squid and slicing the okra. You can opt to replace the prawns and squid with fish and other forms of seafood but I like it best with these two items. What is a must is the quality of the seafood. They have to be fresh to impart that yummy salty sea flavour into a spicy sour sauce. Prawns have to be firm – flesh and especially the shell – whereas the squid surface (skin) has to be pinkish-red plus the flesh firm to the touch as well. There is no need to add salt or pepper as the sauce is already salty and spicy enough for the palate.

Excellent on a cold day, served with rice and some side servings of lightly blanched vegetables!

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We need more rain.

One of the things I’ve always hated about living in Asia is the constant heat and humidity.

For the past one week, the temperature has been hitting 35°C and where I am, there is no sign of rain at all. The grass outside is of a brown to dark brown colour, looks awfully parched and well, the trees are no better. Some look just dead! We did get a itty bitty tiny shower on one day last week but that was like misting, hardly cooling – in fact, it had the opposite effect because as water droplets land on the hot ground, they turn into steam instantly creating a sauna-like effect! ARGH!

So to avoid the heat, we have been heading out in the mornings via public transportation – yay for airconditioned Singaporean buses! – and Eva would doze off in whatever I’m babywearing her with that day, and in the afternoons, we are holed up in her room where I have the aircon blowing a gentle breeze of 28°C and the fan circulating the cool air at the lowest speed. She takes her afternoon naps then – the longest (about two to three hours depending on the morning) – and later, has her playtime in there as well. We emerged every day like a bunch of heat-vampires at around 5-5:30pm where I’ll prepare dinner as she snacks on a rice cake in her highchair and later, we head out again. The park nearby gives us a good evening breeze so the walk then is excellent for the both of us.

The heat is still on at nights and only really cools down nearly midnight. Sometimes, I’m thankful for our fans (only Eva gets air-conditioning and even then, it’s only for the afternoon) although it still doesn’t stop me from looking at Minka Aire fans – why the heck did my landlord NOT install a ceiling fan? Definitely a must-note-item on the list should we have to find a new place.

But really, we NEED more rain!!!

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Seven months on…

Eva and Mummy!

…and she still looks nothing like me! GAH!

Still, I can’t deny that my life has changed and I love it despite the ups & downs. For the past seven months, I’ve been privy to how the human mind and body changes, how and what we can be capable of with a child – you can seen examples of men being reduced to nothing at the mere sign of a bubbly baby – and how your marriage can stand the test of so much more. I don’t have much to share compared to many couples out there with two or more children.

Mine is limited to Eva and so forth, she has been a lovely baby; of course she can be sticky and fussy at times but I can still get away with her in the exersaucer, looking for me occasionally while I’m just a few feet away working on an assignment. I count my blessings all the time and celebrate them in pictorial moments like these. Pictures of her sleeping, eating, smiling…only thing I haven’t taken a shot of is of her pooping!

Seven months on and while the shutter has slowed down (mainly because I’m more busy entertaining here than stepping in front of the camera), I sometimes wonder what goes on in that little mind of hers and if she knows…

…if she knows that she makes my heart melt all the time.

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