Can Anyone Else Relate…?

Being a stay at home mum is a demanding job, full of ups and downs. Like all careers, you need to LOVE what you’re doing, otherwise it’s pointless to do. My daughter has recently arrived at Terrible Two. Recently… So the affect is still in its early stages. One thing for certain – she loves to play on our bed. I make the bed every morning, along with other housely duties. But there is me making the bed, and then there’s how Ava made the bed..

One morning I noticed a lot of muffled giggling happening from the main bedroom. It turned out to be a small unrecognisable being covered in white quilt wriggling on my bed, having a joyous time. The room looked a wreck! Another time en route to putting laundry away, there was a line up of all our bed pillows and cushions on the floor in the hallway. Apparently that was a snowman. There was also the time when she got stuck in the quilt covers, fell off the bed and ripped the seams. There goes my 1500TC Egyptian cover.. Luckily I needed a new one anyway.

It’s these little things that make my mind go “AAGH” but my heart go =). I cannot imagine how I would have handled this as a non-mum babysitting another child. I love my chosen career and although it doesn’t give me financial benefits, it fulfills me in so many more ways. Especially when I get to anticipate a revenge…

My Dearest Ava
One day, when you have grown up and moved into your beautiful home, I will visit each morning to jump on your perfectly made bed and throw your perfectly fluffed pillows on the floor.
Then I will leave and repeat in the afternoon.
I do hope it will be as fun for me as it was for you ♥

LoveS

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Pregnancy craving #3: Coconut

This is hands down the easiest and yummiest loaf you will ever make. EVER! If you have an easier loaf recipe, please share!

Sticky Pear and Coconut Loaf

1 ripe pear, peeled and sliced into chunks
1c desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
1c white sugar (I tend to take a little bit out when baking for my toddler)
1c self raising flour, sifted
1 1/2c milk

Preheat oven to 170C.

Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Mix coconut, sugar and flour in a large bowl.
Pour in the milk and stir until well combined.
Gently fold the pear into the mixture and transfer into prepared pan.
Sprinkle with extra coconut.
Give the pan a couple of taps on kitchen bench and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

This loaf is beautiful served as is with a cup of tea, or with a spread of butter for extra naughtiness.

LoveS

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Pregnancy Craving #2 : GINGER

Well this is a craving I would welcome anytime! I certainly did not have ginger cravings with pregnancy number one.. definitely could not be better! As we all know, ginger has a myriad of health and pregnancy benefits. Ginger is a good fighter of nausea and morning sickness, and is a proven remedy for upset tummies. Ginger also contain zinc to assist in blood flow and improve skin clarity.

I tend to use ginger in soup broths, add some to my home made dumplings, or finely shred them into a stir fry. So full of flavour and goodness!

Here are some easy ginger recipes. They are all packed with protein, fiber and really nailed my craving! Pregnant or not, do give them a go!

Ginger Tea

Add a thick slice of peeled ginger to a drinking cup of fresh boiled water. Let it brew for a few minutes (depending on how strong you like it). If you wish, add a squirt of honey and/or lemon for a natural way to combat colds and flu!

Ginger and Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

200g sliced chicken breast
100g sugar snap peas
100g cauliflower florettes
Vegetable oil
1 finely diced onion
1 clove garlic
5cm piece of finely shredded ginger

Sauce:
50ml honey
2tsp sesame oil
1Tbs dark soy sauce
1tsp cornstarch, diluted with 2tsp water
60ml chicken or vegetable stock

*You can use other vegetables such as corn, broccoli or bell peppers.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet and cook chicken in batches until brown. Remove and set aside.

To make the sauce – combine diluted cornstarch with stock. Add honey, sesame oil and soy sauce and stir well.

In the same skillet, heat a bit more oil and slightly brown the onion. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes. Put the chicken back in to the skillet and stir in the sauce. Add the vegetables and cover for 1-2 minutes.

Serve with rice, and garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Chicken and Egg Donburi with Ginger

200g cubed chicken breast
1c chicken or vegetable stock
1 finely sliced onion
3cm piece of finely shredded ginger
2Tbs sugar
60ml Kikkoman soy sauce
50ml mirin or Chinese cooking wine (optional)
100g corn kernels
100g broccoli florets
50g shiitake or button mushrooms
2 eggs, whisked

Combine stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on low until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, stir in the onions and ginger and the chicken. Reduce the heat again, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook (covered) for a further 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and slowly pour into the pot, over the entire mixture. Cover again and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Ps.. this dish is very popular with my 2 year old. We would often make it for lunch and have left over for her dinner that night.

Asian Broth with Ginger (serve with meat, vegetable and/or noodles)

1L good quality stock
3cm piece of sliced ginger
5 coriander roots
3Tbs Kikkoman soy sauce
3Tbs oyster sauce
A good dash of fish sauce
A good dash of Chinese cooking wine (optional)
1tsp of sugar

Combine stock, ginger and coriander roots in a pot, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further 3 minutes. Strain into another pot and add your vegetables or finely cubed meat, or simply ladle over cooked noodles.

Serve with fresh chilli, spring onion, coriander leaves and/or a squeeze of lime!

Chicken Egg & Ginger Donburi

Chicken Egg & Ginger Donburi

LoveS

Super Simple Choco Brownie. Pregnancy Craving #1.

So.. it has been a couple of weeks since my last blog. I have a good reason though – we are pregnant again! It’s been an interesting few weeks, figuring out the similarities and differences between my 2 pregnancies. Like the first, I crave chocolate and sweets even though I’m not a massive chocolate eater. Unlike the first, I am feeling tired ALL THE TIME! And hungry and thirsty constantly. Well, any excuse for an afternoon nap or snack I say!

Here is a foolproof super easy brownie of mine. It is so foolproof that I once left it in the oven too long and it still came out moist on the inside!

Super Simple Choco Brownie

125g butter at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2cup good quality cocoa powder (preferably one without added sugar), sifted
1/2cup plain flour, sifted
50g slivered almonds (optional)

*Sifting is optional but it does give a smoother result

Pre-heat oven to 170C. Grease and line a brownie pan or large, rectangular oven dish.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add eggs. Mix thoroughly then fold in the cocoa, flour and nuts and combine well.

Transfer into pre-prepared pan and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Allow brownie to cool in pan before cutting them into squares.

Especially yummy served warm with vanilla ice cream!

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Smells amazing!

Smells amazing!

photo 3LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Guide to Traveling with a Toddler – Part Two

Whoever said traveling is not about the destination, but the journey, must not have traveled with a child. As mentioned in my previous post, traveling with a child is about plenty of planning and preparation. There will be a myriad of things going through your mind relating to what to pack, which toys she would love best without bringing the whole toy box, what foods are allowed in the country, etc.. Eek! I wish someone would have advised me.. Nevertheless I learnt and I’m sharing!

The Destination

We arrived in Singapore early in the evening. After having only a short nap, Ava was too exhausted to protest about the hour long immigration line. Luckily we had met the older couple queuing behind us, earlier on the plane and they helped me keep Ava entertained.

By the time we checked in and got our luggage, we were both ready for bed! But we kept to our routine as we would at home – I gave her a bath, dinner and read a book for story time. I had packed for Ava some organic jar foods, which she blatantly refused (she is a fresh-food bub!) but happily drank her sachet of powder formula. 30 minutes later, after a bit of unease about her surrounds, she dozed to sleep with her comforters. Now it was my turn to tune out! Ahh.. room service.

As I had packed light, I visited the supermarket the next day to stock up on supplies for the week. Nappies, fresh milk, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, and I bought familiar brands where possible. A friend had also dropped off the umbrella pram I pre-purchased on eBay for $40. This pram would be my lifesaver for the week, as the city is a walk-everywhere kind of place and carrying a 13kg bub did not appeal!

The days passed and we stuck to our routine where possible (naps back at the hotel every midday-2pm and always a bath before bed). At first Ava’s eating was a little less than ideal – she would mostly stick to eating the foods I purchased from the supermarket. Luckily she found a love for dumpling noodle soups and sushi.

As for a bit of shopping and sightseeing.. that wasn’t entirely impossible, just a bit of hard work. An underslept toddler in a new city resulted in an overtired and hyper-active toddler. Ava was mostly interested in hiding under the clothes racks at the shops and going up and down stairs at the Aquarium and Gardens. Which meant I was constantly playing chase and grab. At least I saved money on barely doing any shopping!

All in all it went pretty well. I’m not sure if I would do it all alone again for such a long period, but we got the hang of it. Kids are full of surprises though, as we came home and got straight back to our routine (home time zone), it was like we never went anywhere.

The Destination in a nutshell

– If you are traveling solo or thinking twice about taking your space shuttle of a pram, why not hire/borrow/buy a pram at your destination –  this means you can travel light. Ask the hire companies if they can deliver to your hotel. If buying a pram, consider what to do with it afterwards. Give it to friends? Donate to goodwill? We were lucky enough to have had a very helpful porter who just had a grand daughter, and we gave our pram to them. Also invest in one of those backpacks for your child that has a child “leash” to keep your bub with you at all times. Better leashed than lost!
– Pack foods that your toddler will eat, but check with the country’s food restrictions first. Dry foods such as cereal is usually okay to bring from home and saves you from paying double the price at the supermarket. Pack sachets of formula, in case the milk is not pasteurised/you have no time to get milk.
– Try to get bub used to jar foods, this is a convenient and cost effective meal on the go.
– Ensure bub stays well hydrated and is eating fibrous foods. The last thing you need a sick child in a foreign country!
– Pack his usual comforters and let him have a dummy when he wants it – he is probably slightly insecure about what’s happening, and this will comfort him. If you usually control dummy use at home, he won’t want it as much anyway.
– Keep to a routine where possible. Yes, you are visiting friends/family but they will understand that bub’s needs come first.
– Don’t expect things to go smoothly, if it does, great but don’t get upset when it doesn’t.
– If you want to go shopping or sightseeing – go! Bub will enjoy seeing new things, but try to keep it short and have coffee breaks.
– Greet the porters/concierge at the hotel in friendly manner – they will help you load your things into and out of a taxi quickly, and some may help you, the friendly hotel guest with the cute baby, jump the queue. All the little things that make it easy for you and bub!
– It’s easy to neglect ourselves when we’re so busy keeping an eye on bub. But it is so important to look after yourself. At the end of the each day, practice a bit of yoga or do some stretching and breathing excercise. This will help relieve any tension and gets you to sleep better, resulting in an easier morning.
– Give your bub the benefit of a doubt – they may be more intuitive than you may think. Once home they revert to their routine as you’d expect. And no doubt is as glad to be home as you and your husband are.

The eBay pram doubled as a new toy!

The eBay pram doubled as a new toy!

LoveS

A Calm Mum’s Guide to Traveling with a Toddler – Part One

Ahh.. HOLIDAY! We all love a holiday but some of us often come home feeling like we need a holiday from the holiday that we just had. Probably because the whole family tagged along.. A holiday used to be about shopping, partying and lazy sightseeing. Now as a mother, a holiday with bub means being an extra busy mum in a foreign country. This automatically translates to getting out of routine, constantly worrying about what food bub will eat and searching for the parents’ room in an alien language. As for shopping and lazy sightseeing? Let’s do that again in 18 years! What about the holiday after the holiday? Yes.. that would be skulling down a hot cup of tea on the kitchen island whilst catching up on mail/sleep/washing/younameit.

The first time I planned an overseas trip with Ava, I was naturally anxious. I was nervous about the journey, about her meals, and of course the impact the travel would have on our strict routine. Plus I was traveling sans husband (he was already pre-booked for a conference). Ava had been great on short flights and road trips before, but this one was an 8 hour journey! How to keep an 18 month old toddler occupied for so long?? Since we were flower girl and bridesmaid to a friend’s wedding, we had to go and I needed a plan.

I’ve heard stories of parents struggling with the whole flying experience and conducing to medicate their toddlers for various reasons. Although I took their advice in stride, I was adamant not to medicate Ava..

On the Plane

I purposely booked the daytime flight as an overnighter would have us leave close to midnight, which means broken sleep for bub, not to mention the re-settling on the plane. Caring for a sleep deprived toddler (and self) would not have been a good way to start the trip. Ava is a 7am-7pm bub so the 9am flight was much better. I boarded the plane armed and ready and had allowed Ava to run around the terminal a little bit. The plan was to tire her on land, then keep her occupied on-board without getting hyper. So, I stocked my one carry-on (a huge LV Neverfull is the best mummy/nappy/travel bag) with fiddly foods such as Rice Wheels and sultanas (recommended ear poppers), water, colouring and her fave reading books, and my old iPhone for games.
On the plane, as we discussed where we were going, my worries started to dissipate. Here is my toddler seemingly calmer than myself, pretending to be an airplane and singing “whee whee whee”. On take off, I was pleasantly surprised that the air hostess encouraged Ava to sit in her own seat, rather than be strapped to me. Wow did she feel like a big girl!
For the first few hours, she kept herself busy with food, books and the in-flight entertainment. Upon nap time however, she was too distracted to sleep! Mind you the bassinet provided wasn’t long enough for her and other toddlers around us were crying (they probably didn’t have sultanas!) so I couldn’t blame her. She did end up napping on my chest for a good 40 minutes thankfully.
I saved the trump card – the iPhone for the last leg of the flight, and it worked wonderfully. She shared it with the toddler next to us (which quietened him down too) and I didn’t have to worry about it running out of battery. Phew.. what nerves? This has become a journey more enjoyable than I expected!

So, flying long distance in a nutshell:

– Travel lightly on board by having only one easy access carry-on bag.
– Pack fiddly foods that are low in sugar.
– You don’t have to be the first on board if you are traveling light. Do you really need an extra 30 minutes of toddler distraction? Let him run around a bit longer!
– Introduce toys or activities one at a time.
– Let them watch as much in-flight entertainment as they want!
– Run up and down the aisles a few times and try to say hello to a couple of flight attendants or other passengers. Your toddler will love saying hi to them when he sees another familiar face on board.
– Stay calm. Anxiety is contagious.
– Shower bub with praise when he’s good and speak to him in a distractingly happy voice.
– Be warned – using the lavatory can be a challenge with the two of you in there. So will changing a nappy!
– During lunch, have a sip of wine. You will need it.
– At the end of the journey, reflect on the positives and apply that to the return flight home.
– Once home, reward yourself with a trip to the day spa and some shopping!

Hope that helps all you wonderful parents out there! Traveling with a toddler is a memorable experience and good bonding time. I am hoping to post Part Two of my Guide to Traveling with a Toddler in the next few days. It will cover what happens at the destination!

Checking in!

Checking in!

LoveS