Life with a toddler.

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Many mums out there will tell you that those few early years with a toddler is a time peppered with lots of wanted patience, silent frustration and quick weight loss alternatives. You learn to…

…grow eyes at the back of your head,
…sharpened your instincts so that you know trouble is just around the corner when your little bub is silent for more than a minute,
…negotiate and sometimes it can be as if your little bub is a terrorist and unyielding.
…develop a thick skin and that stony face during public episodes of tantrum throwing.
…juggle a family on top of “me” time and if you’re like me, “shop” (own business) time.
…let go and trust that your baby will be back to you when s/he needs you.

Eva is becoming more independent as the days go by, sometimes faster than her 15 month old body can take. In a month, she went from supported walking to unsupported brisk walking and would refuse to hold our hands. She likes to do things her own way sometimes and insist on it to the point where she’d throw a tantrum just to get what she wants. Do we give in? On the contrary. We draw the line between “it’s okay to be yourself” to “it’s not okay to be yourself and get hurt in the process”. Occasionally, I let go, trusts that my daughter knows her limits and come out pleasantly surprised at the knowledge that she does. Often, if she has had enough of playing, walking and climbing, she’d tell us that she wants to go home and wind down for the morning/afternoon/night.

She has her own little agenda, but that’s just it – life with a toddler is never quite boring or the same daily.

🙂

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How annoying!

The annoying pencil mishap with the bloody tool in sight

I have been using these template pencils for all my quilting projects and never had any issues washing them out – they are washable, in case you’re wondering – until bloody now. At least five of my handmade toys have template pencil stains which will not go away even after two washes (with detergent), application of stain removers as well as things like lemon juice + baking soda paste. I may have to resort to oxygen bleach in order to get the job done but that means risking a bleached-looking toy (which definitely cannot be added into the shop’s inventory). ARGH! This is just as annoying as having blackheads on nose which won’t go away!!!

This has been bugging me for the last two days; I ended up spending at least one to two hours just trying to remove the stain(s). Right now, I’m sick of sewing and am awfully tempted to break the offending pencil into two. And in case you think I’m joking, look at the picture below and see why I’m not exactly in the best of moods right now. Hmpr.

The annoying pencil mishap

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Very Berry Muffins

Very Berry Muffins

Having a toddler around is often an added incentive for me to whip up some really yummy goodies. The fact that she’s also quite adventurous with food and willing to try new things helps a lot. Unlike many of my Asian friends, I’ve taken a different approach to feeding Eva – nearly no porridge and plenty of “adult” food. Contrary to popular belief, toddlers and babies above 1 yo can eat adult food, provided that they have been introduced to chunky textures after 8-9 mths. This is important as babies need to learn how to chew and manage large chunks of food – hard and soft. Plus chunky textures also means good exercise for the gums!

I make nearly all the “adult food” that Eva eats, from pastas to muffins and cakes. This way, I ensure that she takes minimal amounts of sugar and salt and no preservatives or artificial flavouring. Doing this also helps us both when we go out for meals or travel because it means that she can join us at the table with minimal fuss and enjoys equal treatment that adults gets (plus herself too!). I believe that I have a budding foodie on my hand and she is starting to show a keen interest in the kitchen, often wandering in there whenever the light is turned on in hopes of catching a glimpse of food preparation in progress as well as to sneak in a bite or two!

Anyway, for this recipe, I cut back on the original amount of sugar (from 1 cup to 3/4 cup) and used a mix of berries instead. The result is a rather moist and fruity muffin that is not very sweet at all; great for toddlers and those of us who don’t have a sweet tooth! Plus it’s pack with lots of antioxidant and Vit-C goodness – beats OD-ing on vitamin c serums, no?

Very Berry Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet Girl’s Moist and Light Blueberry Muffins

3 cups cake flour
3/4 cup brown/black sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt (low-fat is alright but I’ve used full fat)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped strawberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190 °C. Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk all wet ingredients together and mix well.
  3. Add dry ingredients to egg-yogurt-sugar-vanilla essense mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just barely combined. Add blueberries and fold in. Do not overmix as it’ll result in dense, dry muffins.
  4. Fill paper cups halfway and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. If possible, put a small ovenproof glass of water in together with the pan to keep the muffins moist throughout the baking process.
  5. Serve warm/cool as is or with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Very Berry Muffins

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Time to babyproof and retrain!

Before people here think that having a child in a home is akin to being in a death trap, it’s not. Babyproofing is one thing, training and disciplining your child is another. I have wires and electrical sockets running around free and Eva knows very well that touching them means Mummy is going to scold her and she doesn’t like being scolded. So she stays away from the “no-no” which are wires, sockets, drawers and cabinets.

But now that she’s walking, stumbling and falling are pretty much out of her control. So we’ve decided to babyproof our coffee table and low furniture by using corner protectors. Babyproofing is not like stocking up on Polaris Accessories for your car but more on the simple matter of moving things that are dangerous (eg, can lead to choking, hurt fingers, etc) up and off the ground by 12 inches or more, stashing away cleaning agents, curving off sharp corners and well, make sure that those little curious fingers don’t get caught in door hinges and etc.

It’s that phase in life that every parent goes through and after a while, it’ll be quickly replaced by another. For now, babyproofing is IN!

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An interesting start…

…to my birthday, that is.

I was up by 7am already and usually by this time, I would unplug my ipod, pack up Eva’s meals and head off to work on foot with some singer crooning into my ears courtesy of some iPod earphones. But today, I was busy packing Eva’s meals and clearing up the yard to make some room for my dyepots and dyeing. Yes, I’d like to get back to that even though sewing is more comfortable (with TVB dramas – pity I can’t transfer them onto my iPod; it would take too long for the conversion, etc!).

Despite this rather Cinderella-ish start to the day, I’m hoping that it’d only get better. I’ll be out later to run some errands and with any luck, maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in some time in the kitchen (I’m thinking of making a toddler-friendly lasagna). In the meantime, here’s to more iPod time (read: running errands via bus and the MRT)…and yes, a very blessed birthday to me!

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Our new home – Part II

And here are the “after” pictures!

The living + dining hall together with a view of the master bedroom (taken in front of the entrance to the kitchen)

Living & dining hall

We are actually complete with this area although I just discovered that the spotlight located at the area just outside the entrance to the master bedroom isn’t working so it’s either we fix it up or replace it with some wall or floor lights. The pictures on the walls are part of a series painted by my mother-in-law and naturally photographs we took and one of Eva from the photoshoot. I might get another large plant but will see how it goes. I like this area the way it is now and Eva has a lot of room to walk/play around. She loves to touch and smack the Chinese Evergreen when she’s waddling into our room!

Eva’s bed-playroom

Eva's bedroom & playroom

It is a pity that the construction of this unit is such that this room is the darkest. Even with the curtains drawn, the room is shadowy during the sunniest time of the day. The chest of drawers was purchased from IKEA and doubles as a changing table – we thought it would be a better investment in the long run as she would outgrow the table. The awful alphabet mats came in handy and while she likes taking out the circles in the 6s, she also puts them back.

The kitchen

Kitchen

We still have a little to go in terms of kitchen organization as well as stocking up on the cutleries and kitchen equipment but this will do for now. I don’t plan to do any major renovation to this area even though it’s the oldest part of the house but will focus first on maintaining the counter top as well as cabinets and such. Having said that, I do have plenty of ideas like retiling, changing the countertops…just need some time and proper planning. And of course, money too.

Hm, by the way, any suggestions for good digital cameras? Am thinking of a model to “request” from Nil for a birthday present. 🙂

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Mascarpone pancakes

Mascarpone pancakes

I had some leftovers from the tiramisu I made on Thursday and wanted to use it up before it went bad. Most of the recipes I found online used it in frostings but I wanted it to be part of something more substantial than just frosting. At the end of it, I decided to try it out with some pancakes. The result was lovely thick pancake that had a very creamy and luxurious aftertaste. Do note tho – this will definitely have an impact on your waistline so be prepared to ditch those ephedra diet pills!

Mascarpone pancakes

Approx 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tbsp brown-black sugar
Approx 150 gms mascarpone cheese
Some milk

Method

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. In another bowl, mix the egg and sugar until slightly frothy before adding in the cheese and milk.
  2. Using a whisk, slowly pour in the dry ingredients. Add in more milk if the batter is too thick. The batter should be thick but not too runny.
  3. Heat and coat the frying pan with some oil (butter burns faster). Using a ladle, spoon some mixture into the pan and thin out. Wait until bubbles form in the middle before turning the pancake.
  4. When browned, remove and place somewhere to cool. Do not stack pancakes together as the steam will turn them soggy. Lay them out in a row on a pan or paper towel to cool instead.
  5. If possible, serve warm with honey, fresh fruit and/or butter on the side.
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Our new home – Part I

We have moved in for over two months already and are pretty much settled, growing roots and well, enjoying our new place. There are some little added touches in the form of potted plants like the very lovely Grand Duke of Tuscany and single flowered Arabian jasmine topped off with some Chinese Evergreen and Peace Lilies…altogether, it looks lived in and definitely homier than when we first got the place.

Here is a look at the “before” pictures of our first property.

The living + dining hall together with a view of the master bedroom (taken in front of the entrance to the kitchen)

The living & dining hall

The living hall is separated from the dining area by a partition and as such can be converted into a guest room. Because of the length, we have turned the partitioned area into a work-guest room and merged the entertainment area with the dining area. The glass cabinet on the left houses all my yarn and fiber stash (personal & the shop stock) together with my quilting fabric stash.

Furniture is a mix of hard wood from Courts (TV unit, coffee table, dining set and buffet), and “stuff” from IKEA (sofa, Billy bookcase, sofa bed, wall shelves, wall lamps). We have also replaced one of the lights with the ceiling fan and switched to warm yellow wall lights instead. The Chinese Evergreen and Peace Lilies reside in this area.

The master bedroom (not seen here is the attached bathroom)

The master bedroom

I’ve “installed” three pots of Jasmine (the single petal Arabian and the multi-petal Grand Duke of Tuscany) – two on the built-in shelving and one on a garden tray stand that used to function as a bath tub stand for Eva. The result is lovely natural fragrance that permeates the room and even hits the area outside the door (where the photo was taken) when the flowers are in full bloom.

I have also moved my laptop here temporarily to keep me company while I do my sewing for the store here. Yes, it has become my little workshop and the wall shelves in the far right corner come very much in handy in terms of storing store-related fabric, tools and yes, even a sewing machine.

Furniture here is from IKEA (side table, bed and armchair). We have replaced one of the ceiling lights with a ceiling fan by Allied and will use a floor lamp from IKEA instead.

Eva’s bed-playroom

The second room

We had to forego the ceiling light in order to installed another ceiling fan (Allied) so to replace that light, we bought a very cute Tassa Natt lamp from IKEA. Dad affixed it to the wall and I “stuck” the cable to the wall with Blu Tack. The result was a really cosy setting.

We also bought a near ceiling high wardrobe from a local furniture store here as well as a chest of drawers from IKEA which doubles as her changing table. Almost half of the floor is lined with jigsaw puzzle mats and her Parklon playmat goes on top of it.

The kitchen

Kitchen

This is perhaps the oldest part of the home. Nothing here has been changed for the last 15 years and that includes the gas head! We have replaced the 2nd generation hob and hood with a more current 7th generation one.

An IVAR shelf with five levels has been installed in the corner where you see the table and that houses our desktop oven, microwave, pots & pans together with colanders and storage containers.

The fridge is an energy saving fridge from Hitachi and the cabinets under the sink houses our rubbish bin and recycling bin.

The yard

Attached yard next to the kitchen

This is where we store my shop equipment (dye pots, steamer, etc) and “house” the dishwasher (from Bosch) and washing machine (from Hitachi). We had some issues installing the two machines because of a plumbing related construction made by the previous owner which involved a sink and a DIY-style bin which was glued to the floor and drainage hole. Dad hacked and remove the two away and cover the hole with a cover which he later made two holes in for the drainage required by the two machines. The result is maximum utilisation of space.

We store our cleaning equipment here as well as detergent, which is better than housing it in the kitchen – Eva is not allowed in the kitchen without supervision and she doesn’t wander off into the yard, choosing instead of linger around the doorway that separates the kitchen from the halls.

We’ll be putting up some bamboo blinds (up to eye-level) to give the place more privacy as this area faces the main walkway and there are plans to get rid of the heaps of boxes we have left over from the move as well as a chance to reorganize our plastic bag and spare cloth bags (for groceries, etc) storage.

“After” pictures to come awfully soon!

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