Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Snippet: Thursday Staple, Again?!

Dear Little Girl,

Homework Thursday beef stew with spud and vegetables!

Let's just be happy we have warm home-cooked dinner; and celebrate that the monstrous pile of books you call homework has been completed. 

Don't you just love being able to enjoy your school holidays without having to lug your school books along? 

Happy holidays, kiddo!

Lots of love,
Hampshire Mummy
Monday, 27 April 2015

Spring Clean: Handbags & Beneficiaries

My former cleaning lady received a few large bags containing my pre-loved Balenciaga and Oroton (and a couple more hand-crafted totes) about a fortnight ago. She was pleasantly surprised as she has stopped working with us for about two years.

She also has a grand-daughter a little younger than The Little Girl who has been inheriting outgrown but mint-condition garment/toys/books since birth. Everyone is thankful for this arrangement as nothing goes to waste.

This symbiotic relationship suits us all because they can find good wear out of our pre-loved items and we in turn clear up some precious wardrobe and bookshelves real estate. 

Being a busy mum on-the-go, I find it tedious to sell online or at second-hand boutiques outside the city. For the pittance I probably get in return, I am sure my former cleaning lady and her appreciation is worth more. 

We are happy that they are happy. Often times, that is all that matters.

To Kak Saras and all her good years of service especially during my pregnancies and confinement periods, thank you. May God bless you and yours abundantly.
P/S: Yes, you may have my tattered Jim Thompson navy tote when I finish saying goodbye to it. I am just not quite done loving it. I know how much you love the same tote in red *hehe*
Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Stir Fried Chicken With Broccoli

The sole purpose of my Easy Peasy recipe series is simply to record easy meal preparations for my children. 

In sha Allah, this series will someday guide them to cook their own meals whilst studying abroad or away from home. Well, I pray for their rezeki to complete their tertiary and post-graduate studies abroad for the invaluable experience and independence. You may think 10-15 years is a long time to go, but if you are a mother, you probably will concur with me that years fly by a little too quickly.

That said, you, my lovelies, are more than welcome to try these simple dishes out (I would be so honoured!) so do let me know of ways I can improve. Thank you so much!
Here are the steps for an easy stir-fry dish to accompany hot steamed rice.
400g of chicken breasts, without skin. [400g of sliced beef makes a good alternative too]
1 large bouquet of broccoli
For marinade:
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cm young ginger, julienne
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tbsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp corn flour for coating
For stir fry:
2 tbsp olive oil, i.e. 1 tbsp for broccoli and 1 tbsp for chicken
For garnish:
1/2 cup of cashew/pine nuts
1 sprig spring onion, chopped
1 red chilli, deseed and thinly sliced
1. Broccoli:
Sauté in olive oil until soft but not overcooked. Set aside.

2. Chicken:
Slice chicken breast into 1/2cm thick strips.
Marinade chicken breast strips.  
Coat lightly with corn flour.
Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

3. Stir fry:
Heat wok and brown chopped garlic with julienne of young ginger. 
Sauté chicken quickly to seal in flavour.
Mix in cooked broccoli.
4. Garnish:
Sprinkle cashew or pine nuts.
Garnish with chopped spring onions/thinly sliced red chilli.
Note: I have added soaked shiitake mushrooms to this dish for extra flavour.
Bon appetit!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Rosemary Chicken With Steamed Vegetables

One of my go-to recipe on a busy day and we do not feel like eating much - the kids love this dish because it is rice-free! I make this simple combo of grilled chicken (in sans alcohol teriyaki marinade) with steamed vegetables. 

love this dish because it leaves me with some precious time to be with Bean and The Little Girl. It feels like dinner is ready after a story and a cuddle, although I usually steal a much-needed shower and hair wash *insert a generous amount of mummy self-guilt here*

Grill marinated chicken at 200C (fan-forced) for 45 minutes. For thicker chicken breasts, please grill it for 60 minutes. Rosemary will leave your chicken a lot more aromatic.

Steam vegetables for 20 minutes and transfer vegetables onto serving dish immediately to prevent over-cooking.

Et voilà!

We have gotten used to eating this without sauce or soup, but you may add mushroom soup and garlic bread for a more decadent meal.

Bon appetit!

Blessed Rejab

How time flies, Rejab will soon be here, in sha Allah.

Perfect time to fill it with preparations for Ramadhan (such as spring cleaning!) and replacing missed fast.

How do you celebrate Rejab, my lovelies? Please do share!
Saturday, 18 April 2015

Snippets: Transparent vs. Opaque

The Little Girl has a strict but fun Science teacher in Mrs. C.

Yesterday, a whole class of 4-6 year olds learnt the difference(s) between transparent and opaque materials.

Simple game of peekaboo with clear, concise explanation from Mrs. C, as I witnessed Mrs. C from the corridor where I sat waiting for class dismissal. All 5 senses were tested earlier to have a complete sense of materials they were working with.
Cheerfully, Mrs C asked her young "scientists":

"Can you see me when I hide behind this clear plastic sheet?"

"Can you see me when I hide behind this wooden door?"

"Can you say hello only when you see me?"

They were having so much fun playing they had not realised they were learning so much in that few minutes, which brought me to compare the difference in quality of education. The Other Half and I probably spent 80% on rote learning theories and 20% on experiments; which is not the case with our children today - what a relief!

Alhamdulillah for patient and passionate teachers! Thank you and please continue your good effort, Mrs. C. 
The Messenger of Allah saw said:"Oh, Allah! I seek refuge with You from knowledge that does not benefit, and from a heart that is not subdued and humble, and from a supplication that is not heard, and from a self that is not satisfied."[An-Nasa'i]
Friday, 17 April 2015

House Hunting

...scrolling app research house appointments by and try to get a feel of the neighbourhood at random hours of the day for actual traffic experience; and I can tell you this: is oh so fun to dream of possibilities.

At the moment, I am waiting to fall in love with one within my budget and requirement checklist.

Honestly, I fallen in love with a few that were slightly above budget. By above budget I mean a couple of millions more, not hundreds of thousands more - how scary for The Other Half! His response? 

"This is not the 2.55 or 11.12 in green or black, not quilted diamond or chevron, this is a Range Rover Evoque or two!"

Classic. So cute of him! 

I dare not even mention "Balik kampung, tanam organic jagung" plans at Janda Baik, I will behave myself for now.

So, if only money is no object. Since money does not grow on trees unless you own Doubletree, back to the hunt it is!

[See you at the iproperty Home and Property Investment Fair at KLCC Convention Centre this 17-19 April 2015. Open from 11 am to 8 pm. Free admission.]
Thursday, 16 April 2015

Snippets: Sleeping On The Job

The Little Girl reported this during our morning drive to school today:

"Mummy, Mrs. C fell asleep sitting upright at her desk yesterday. It was not during her lesson. I guess Miss V's class was really boring for Mrs. C?"

Mrs. C teaches Science and Art, Miss V teaches Mathematics. Every teacher has a work-desk and chair in the class (as opposed to keeping one at the staff room). Just imagine the lack of privacy as  the entire class can and will see what the teachers are up to. Poor teachers!

I tried consoling The Little Girl. "Maybe Mrs. C was tired from marking all your homework till late at night? Maybe she is not feeling well?"

Her quick retort?

"Give less homework then she can sleep earlier, and she needs to drink more water!"

Oh, dear me. Miss Smarty Pants.

An update as of 30 August 2015: Mrs. C is facing some health complications and had actually mixed up The Little Girl's report card with that of another student. Please pray for Mrs. C to quickly recover and return to vitality. We love you, Mrs. C!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Ahjumma Updates

Last week, Bean was down with viral fever. I was challenged with broken sleep over and above the usual, punishing school run with The Little Girl. Inevitably, there were moments when I, regrettably, was too exhausted to prepare and cook dinner. 

Not proud of being the shouty mum I was, I found myself explaining to The Little Girl of how I consumed I was by perimenopausal hormones. I told her I was not proud of the the relay breakdown and how my love ought to be shown openly to her. I even showed her the list of how much there is for me to complete on daily basis, like a race against time checklist. 

She kissed me, and told me it is going to be alright. It still puzzles me that she has empathy for me but occasionally bullies Bean. Hmmmh. I should be glad she understood one thing - Mummy is tired.

By midweek, I was too spent to prepare breakfast for myself and The Other Half after a congested morning crawl home, so I requested for The Other Half to bring home some breakfast from Pelita Jalan Ampang. 

Bad, bad move.

That breakfast landed me at Prince Court Medical Centre ER. We know the breakfast was the culprit because I was the only one who ate it and came down with severe food poisoning. Luckily, The Other Half ate less and only suffered a mild case of food poisoning. 

One injection, some medication and a few hundred poorer later, my routine resumed, alhamdulillah

Fortunately, The Grandparents were able to babysit their two grandchildren while I was at ER with The Other Half. It would have been a nightmare to bring the young ones along to a place full of patients late at night!

By the time Friday arrived, I was truly eager to embrace the weekend. Rest, recuperate and regroup strategy. Exclusively. No dates, no parties, no to everything social. Just a few episodes of Queen's Flower and Sensory Couple to keep myself entertained while resting (watched online after the kids have gone to bed, they are too young for those 15+).

Side note on Queen's Flower: if you watch it on Good Drama, the subtitles from Episode 5 onwards is horrendous. I stopped after 2 minutes. I suspect the correct replacement subtitles were recently uploaded because it seems fine now.

Side note on Sensory Couple: I love this series despite the romance story line being predictable. The draw factor, for me, is the criminal mysteries. 

Our Saturday started late as we crashed and slept in after such a crazy week. Truth is, Bean was still recovering from  viral fever and he was trying to correct his sleeping habit which had gone askew. It was good to see everyone's bright and chirpy faces again after some much needed sleep. 

The Saturday afternoon spent at music class with The Little Girl. Certainly is our weekly mother-daughter highlight. JMC Primary 2 is challenging but fun! I am crossing my fingers that she will not find chords too complicated. With practice, I am sure she can and will perfect them. Happily, she completed her theory worksheet with some guidance. Matching the notes on G and F clefs, fancy that.

Our Sunday was spent at The House with The Grandparents. Instead of risking our lives on the road with lightning, deafening thunderclap and flash floods, we waited out the storm and got home after eating some home-cooked dinner. 

It was a very satisfying day work-wise at The House (where we keep another home office) as we finally closed the recent field audit matters (and benefit from tax credits!). Alhamdulillah, not every field audit is punitively malicious. Good things came out of ours. 

Now I can focus on year-end matters (our financial year ends on 30 June) and attend some continued professional training courses *sigh of relief* and maybe even start to house-hunt again after a long hiatus. 

Truly thankful for this weekend. I can tell The Other Half felt good after spending some quality time with his parents too, feels like his parental love and attention index climbed higher, boosting his confidence after a particularly tough week. The mix of weakening ringgit and tougher investment environment stress hopefully will not consume his spirit!

How was your weekend, my lovelies? I'd love to read!

Rotating Dinner Menu

We have finally collated and compared breakfast and lunch menus from both The Big School and The Playschool. The background incident that led to this was refusal to eat rice from their dinner platter, which left me exasperated/defeated after 1 hour of preparation and cooking. All that hard work!

The Other Half and I just had to figure out why the two kids prefer not to have rice for dinner and after seeing the latest menu, the guessing game is over.

My suspicion is proven right. Rice is served at almost every single lunch for both of them. Fried rice, butter rice, tomato rice, Arab-style rice, sushi and risotto included! 

I won't want any rice for my dinner too, if I were them. Any other grains but rice, henceforth.

We have had some success with quinoa, wheat, barley, oats and millet so far. They still prefer pasta (quinoa pasta, pumpkin noodles, spinach bows, beet shells, etc) but certainly some mixed grains must be introduced. 

Wish me luck with our new rotating dinner menu!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Full Weekend

Two and a half weeks ago, we spent an entire Saturday afternoon and evening at sports venue of The Big School. It was The Little Girl's first Sports Day!

The sun was scorching hot during march past but luckily for us, the telematch was held indoors. It was hot and humid too, as the organisers had kept the doors shut to keep the thunderstorm out.

The telematch was fast-paced, fun and we were so proud of The Little Girl for participating. She was a good sport with competitive streak within her, who gave her all every time her turn came.

We celebrated her successful inaugural Sports Day with satay for dinner at Hotel Bangi-Putrajaya. Garmin routed The Other Half from Enstek to Bangi via Nilai so the scenic drive was a huge blessing and diversion from Formula One pilot wannabes. 

We were not completely spared from the Formula One fever as the hotel was abuzz with some members of Formula One teams who had returned for the annual Sepang leg of the coveted championship that weekend. 

Indeed, it the most fun and perfect way to spend the final day of her being 4 years old, SubhanAllah

Friday, 3 April 2015

Snippets: Bismillah

Puan I has been giving The Little Girl and her other Muslim classmates Islamic Studies classes at The Big School.

One of the sweetest comments she made the other day was this:

"Bismillah, I am going to look out of the window."

Considering how much storm was heading our way, that was a wise thing she had said.

Now, we hear her say, "Bismillah, I am going to eat/go to school/go to sleep."

Keep going, sweetheart! It is always great to get His Blessings before embarking on anything. May you never forget to say your bismillah, your entire life, Amin!
Thursday, 2 April 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Turmeric Chicken With Vegetables

Sauté garlic and seal in chicken breast cubes.

Add carrots, potatoes, broccoli and French beans to cook till soft.

Add coconut milk and bring to quick boil and add a small tablespoonful of turmeric  powder to mix well just before serving.

This is the closest my children have come to curry. They call this dish "chicken curry" (obviously not a curry!), and they seem to eat this dish best paired with sushi rice piled on seaweed squares. My kids and their odd combination...of which I will reserve all judgments because I am happy as long as they eat their meals.

Sometimes, we have the vegetarian version of this dish with fusili. 

I have keep trying though. Long way to chilli-anything.

How do you introduce chilli in food to your children, my lovelies? Please do share!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

So Far So Good

Zero-rated books, and I pray it stays zero-rated forevermore. The entire production and supply chain of the books  did/will not attract any GST. As a consumer, I pay 0% GST.

Lunch, standard 6% GST inclusive. Not confusing, no price increase. The vendor had issued a receipt with GST Number that can be verified online.

However, a cup of hot tea at The Big School's Dining Hall cost me 30 Sen equivalent to 15% more than yesterday. This is ... shocking! The exemption has caused the entire chain of supply to attract 6% GST and although as a customer I need not pay any GST on my cup of tea, the cost increase was not absorbed by the canteen operator. In fact, the cost increase was passed on to me in toto as a 15% price increase. 

The good news is price of cars which had previously been charged with Sales Tax of 10% is now GST of 6%, and this "savings" has been transferred to end consumers. Having thought through my options, I have decided to keep Bebe for a couple of years more, in sha Allah.

Do you think GST implementation will change your consumption habits? What steps have you taken to educate your household? Please do share!