Sunday, 30 August 2015

Spiraliser For Zoodles: Part 2 of 2

My PIL lovingly carted a unit of spiraliser for me from Lakeland, Yorkshire.

They just had to get me this because it was the only item on my wish list. I should have asked for a Chanel Boy or two, you said? Hahaha.

Top and tail washed zucchini.

Place securely and turn handle to spiralise. I have better control with this model. The four little suction pads underneath prevents slipping. Two other blades store neatly in the compartment below. I was using the coarse spiraliser blade, the other options are fine spiraliser (for carrots) and slicer (for cucumbers). This simple design is for keeps.

The corer removes seeds, if any. I feel this is also great for carrots' core.

Fresh platter of raw zoodles. I still steam mine for less than 10 minutes now, but will eventually move on to raw vegan version for my own good. Baby steps!

Syukur alhamdulillah for this healthy and nourishing plate of dinner.

Bon appetit!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Summer 2015 Retreat Summary: Day 5

Final day!

Oh, Bean slept in again as he was up until wee hours of the morning after a bad bout of cough. He was playing, reading, snacking and chatting from 12.30 am until 5 am. Naturally, I missed my breakfast too.

The Other Half and The Little Girl had really enjoyed their quality father:daughter 1:1 breakfast time, SubhanAllah! Their mornings have been filled with sharing of beef bacon, beef sausages, croissants and refills of fresh orange juice for her /long black for him. Poached eggs on toast, how I miss(ed) you!!

Once Bean woke up, I quickly packed up our bags and got us ready for check-out by 11 am. We loaded all our luggages using the exit from our own balcony, it was fun, speedy, private and most convenient. The lane leading up to our room is on private resort road away from the main thoroughfare. Security at the resort was reliable and impeccable throughout our stay.

On our way to Habu, we stopped by the final tea destination at yet another Cameron Valley Bharat Plantation. The noon sun was high upon us at 26C so we skipped the tea bush walk. 

Our descent to Tapah was safe without any speeding vegetable trucks, syukur alhamdulillah. We made a short pitstop to purchase some really sweet local wild rambutan at Lata Iskandar too. 

We had a great time. Thank you, Cameron Highlands! InshaAllah, we will be back.

Summer 2015 Retreat Summary: Day 4

My memory bank is fast to mash up our entire holiday into tea, flowers, strawberries and gardens (although they were mostly from different places); so let me be quick to finish posting our recent retreat summary before it becomes this:

Jade vine at MARDI.

The blue skies.

The tea we did not have any more stomach space for.

Our goodbye visit to our favourite garden and lunch venue.

Our resident very hungry caterpillar.

A fun 4WD ride and 200m tea bush walk up to Sungai Palas BOH.

Tea leaves harvest.

Cacti farm.

Cacti farm.

Harvest of the day behind Cameron Highlands Resort.

We felt it was quite hot at 24C. Disappointingly, we somehow did not make it to Mossy Forest although we were at Sungai Palas BOH plantation nearby. InshaAllah, next time. 

It was another glorious heaven on earth type of day - one where we did not have much, but we had everything. Syukur  alhamdulillah.

Summer 2015 Retreat Summary: Day 3

This was the day it drizzled and rained, true to its famed highland tropical weather. We enjoyed a different facet to this wonderful hill.

Here is what we did on our third day:
Bean woke up to a wonderful spread at breakfast. This turned out to be the only time he did show up for the most important meal of the day, sigh. His cough and fever kept us up at night so he slept in every morning. 

After that heavy meal, we ventured out to burn it all off.

A drive down to Blue Valley in search of Kwang & Sons Grapes and Tomatoes:
Harvest is every June and December, my lovelies. Take note.

Cherry tomatoes. Lucky us!

Evergreen aubergine.

We took a pitstop for tea bush walk and a cup of tea at Cameron Valley Bharat Plantation on our return trip from Blue

One of the highlight of Day 3 was Rose Garden. We spent a long time here admiring different varieties of flora as they  host more than just roses.

After about 101 roses later, we left smelling as sweet as tea roses; as hungry as wolves.

The closest restaurant we were familiar with was The Coffee Shop at Capthorne Hotel, formerly known as Equatorial Hotel. We sat at at the terrace al fresco to enjoy the fresh breeze.

Upon our exit from Capthorne Hotel, we stopped by EQ Organic Strawberry Farm for another plentiful harvest. No prize for guessing what we are as snack in the car on our way back to Tanah Rata.

The rest of our afternoon was spent indoors thanks to the rain. An intended visit to Brinchang Hills Mossy Forest was postponed. Instead, books were read, the Playroom was put to good use and Disney Jr. kept us entertained.

It was a memorable day, syukur alhamdulillah.

Summer 2015 Retreat Summary: Day 1 & 2

We were away for 5D/4N not doing much, syukur alhamdulillah for the restful period at Cameron Highlands Resort.

The first day was spent travelling to Cameron Highlands via Tapah. The drive was pleasant with some rain at the lowlands. The kids especially loved spotting stray dogs and orang asal huts after Lata Iskandar before arriving at Ringlet.

The light drizzle continued after our check-in. We were very pleased to find ourselves in Jim Thompson Suite because we booked and paid for the 2 bedroom family room via Agoda. Thank you, Cameron Highlands Resort. It was a nice surprise.

After settling down and unpacking, we headed out to a halal restaurant at Hotel De La Fern for an early dinner. The rest of the evening was spent at The Playroom, washing up, ordering supper via room service and rewarding The Little Girl with stickers for successfully solving some pages of Kumon (if you are a loyal reader you would already know how The Little Girl always brings her Maths workbooks along to keep herself happily busy and engagingly challenged). Bean started coughing so I kept vigil.

Here is what we did on the second day:

The short hike did us all a whole world of good. There is a small field at the very top for scenic view of the tea hills.

We rewarded ourselves with a traditional mid-morning tea of scones served with jam and cream treat after the descent  - but the little ones cleverly chose a slice of chocolate cake instead (No clotted cream to accompany the scones much to our huge disappointment). My slice of lemon butter cake was washed down with a delicious cup of BOH brew.

After that, we brought them to yet another place to run about.

Ye Olde Smoke House was perfect spot for another light nibble while the little ones had a great time playing in cool fresh air and sunshine. 

We continued playing tourists at Kok Lim's Strawberry Farm to harvest some RM40 worth of strawberries, which we ate after a quick rinse on-site. They were absolutely fresh and nourishing! 

Here is how the strawberry bush looks like after our harvest:

We ended the day with an early evening walkabout at Lavender Garden. My lavender ice-cream smelled a lot like, unfortunately, my Dettol lavender multi-purpose cleaning liquid at home so I would highly recommend one or the other, not both! 

We had learnt that room service at Cameron Highlands Resort is only available between 7pm to 10 pm so we dined early at The Coffee Shop at Capthorne Hotel on our way back. 

At home, we typically eat our dinner around 5.30 pm because my kids go to bed early (8.30 pm to 9 pm is early by Malaysian standards).

The restaurant upstairs at Cameron Highlands Resort, Gonbei, only serves steamboat now instead of Japanese gourmet cuisine, alas. I have been looking forward to Japanese bento for dinner here, disappointingly no rezeki. Steamboat is tricky with Bean around. I bet he would have insisted on cooking the meal for us!

The other restaurant downstairs, The Dining Room, practices smart casual dressing code so we decided to keep our noisy ducklings away from other honeymooners and their romantic candle-lit dinners. 

Our saviour had to be The Children's Playroom at Oak Room which is open 24/7 and is great for kids who refuse to sleep/actually have jetlag! My lot had a jolly good time even with just 2 slides and a playhouse by Little Tikes. There was also an oversized blue ball which could not pass through the hoop. The stucked blue ball thrilled them silly. Despite the 2 TVs not working, and a few random play bricks that were lying around, my lot had a great time. They could not stop requesting for "Playset" every time we passed by throughout our stay there. 

Overall a fabulous second day, we could not have asked for more. Syukur alhamdulillah.
Sunday, 23 August 2015

Autumn 2015

We have something to look forward come September 2015. The Little Girl, who is going to be 5 years and 6 months then, is going to Year 1 (and be doing work for Year 2). InshaAllah.

I think she read her Roald Dahl prescribed literature the week we got her books, about a fortnight ago. And she loves it! Since then, she had been asking for more of his published books whenever we are at MPH or Borders. 

We haven't been able to label her books with LetraTag or wrap them with Popular Bookstore clear plastic booksleeves because we haven't been told the name of her new class. The OCD in me just wants to complete this task and pack the school bag neatly *blush*

Speaking of OCD, I have purchased, washed and ironed her new school shirts and pinafores. Her Friday Baju Kurung is being tailored as I write this entry. We even found her 2 new pairs of navy thights to spare for days with sports or swimming. The prescribed black pairs will be released come autumn/winter at British/USA retailers, so I am not panicking just yet. If the worst comes to the worst, she will have to make do with navy first until black is released. There are black thights being sold at CottonOn Kids but those did not last us very long as The Little Girl came home with holes in them. 

She will be needing new white canvas shoes and white socks too but the search had been futile so far as not many local stores cater to international schools. Bata and Kikilala told me outright the shoes restock will be this November. Well, they should try to release their stock earlier, because not every international school prescribes black shoes with black socks. 

Fortunately, I have an upsize new pair in storage which we can use until new arrival. This taught me to stock up this November to last us until next November. We put 2 pairs out on rotation. So far, this strategy had seen us through rainy days, sports days, muddy paths, Pepsi-cola games and other random games involving stepping on shoes of fellow classmates.

We mark her shoes using permanent marker. Whenever it gets lighter from washing, we just rewrite her name. Simple, fuss-free. It is vital to name shoes because other students may have the same shoe in the same size and after removing their shoes for swim class, vocal or dance lessons...they return happy and high - then blur and panick  as all canvas shoes look the same to the little ones!

Canvas shoes are washed, dried in the sun along our windowsill and then chalked. We get the liquid chalk with applicator sponge stick from Bata/Pallas.

We also looked at designs from Adidas,
Vans, Converse, Reebok and Nike but my daughter does not want shoelaces! 

StrideRite has white rubber shoes with double Velcro straps, but unfortunately not washable. Hygiene factor wise, a non-washable pair is a plain no-go. 

We were out looking for a new trolley school bag but she has yet to decide if Inside Out is exactly the design she wants. I suggested washing and drying her current Frozen trolley bag to save some money and, surprisingly, she agreed! Bless! For that, I think I will treat her to a new pencil case and a new box of colour pencils *grins* oh, the joy of labelling every single colour pencil *wide grin*

The most expensive backpack I have seen all year as a pink MCM leather backpack on another little girl at school. Uber sweet!

The reality is, my own daughter will probably trash hers about. Something like this would be more realistic:

I can even match hers with this, on me:

Alright, I will not freak her out with something so heavy on her back every Thursday when homework is being packed home, to be returned equally heavy every Monday...trolley school bag it is for now.

That said, I am going to relax and go away on a holiday or two with my family. Syukur alhamdulillah for those little blessings in our lives. To those who are also going on holidays, we wish you safe journey and return. May our respective holidays be filled with lovely and joyful memories. Amin

Have you made any preparations for the new term? Please do share! 
Friday, 21 August 2015

Report Card Day

Friday, 21 August 2015.

Milo ice-cream for breakfast. 

Yes, The Little Girl asked for this exceptionally rare treat on the final day of her Reception at The Big School. Considering she had achieved excellent work in the past 8 months in every aspect of her academic/sporting/music and performing arts life, I relented.

Once I had purchased her desired breakfast item, she carefully placed it on her designated spot at the table at the dining hall, washed her hands and sat down at her designated seat to enjoy her sweet treat. Half way through, she was satiated and offered it to me. How kind! 

Her class teachers who saw her all teased her about having the freedom of choice to sit freely that morning. She blushed. 

After 2 episodes of Nummies Nerdy, we put away our used utensils, plates, and garbage and proceeded to wash then dry our hands. She was so cute when she prompted me to place the correct item into the correct bin, prefect style. I remember my heart swelled that little bit more and felt all emotional at how fast she had grown. How compliant she seems, how eager she is to fit into her environment correctly.

A short walk later, we arrived at her classroom to receive her certificate of completion at about 9 a.m. It was only 8 months ago when she had first entered and clung on to me, refusing to let me go...tempus fugit.

Mamapumpkin with T1 and T2 were already in deep discussion so we just said a very quick hi and bye.

As for us, her assigned tutor, Puan J, praised The Little Girl for her excellent work and encourages her to keep it up. InshaAllah.

We then took some farewell photos of her with her class teachers (Mrs. R, Puan J and Miss V; Mrs. C had been away on medical grounds). 

On our way out, we stopped by the front office to request for purchase DVDs of the newly concluded year end concert and the 2015 annual musical production, Annie. We will find out in near future if these are available for sale. 

Then came the emotional part:
"Ducklings. Mrs. R will get new ducklings come September, Mummy?", she noted as we climbed the steps up towards North Hall.

"Yes, darling", I replied.

She said with a slight tinge of sadness, "I am their favourite duckling, you know that? I always finish my work and stay quiet to pay attention". 

"You will get a new mama Duck or two, they will inform us who, soon as they can", I tried to console her.

We kept silent for a few more steps as she was deep in thought.

I thought of a way to distract her from her emotional reflection as I dreaded having to drive her home in tears. Alhamdulillahwe bumped into her classmate on her way in with her family. We quickly took a sweet photo of the girls before they bade farewell. This friend, she will be going to a different school in Autumn 2015.

We then walked no more than 5 steps before a Security Officer at the gate stopped me to ask for a copy of Release Letter. We did a quick U-turn to obtain one from the Front Office. I am so glad SOP is adhered to!

We then headed home to treat her to a lunch date without Bean (who was away at Playschool). "So, this is how it feels like to be a single child", she teased me.

And just like that, she is moving on to her next milestone in her young life. It seemed like just yesterday when we were told by the Registrar she had answered her science paper 100% correctly and that she was being offered a place at The Big School.

Oh, my munchkin, I am so thankful for His blessings upon you. May you recharge well this holiday to return taller, stronger, smarter and wiser. Amin!

Year End Concert

Thursday, 20 August 2015. 

The Rehearsal:
The 3 weeks leading up to this had been "secretive". The Little Girl had been rehearsing at The Big School but no one spilled the beans as to what was going to be in the Year End Concert. I only knew some song excerpts she was practising and I helped her understand their context by allowing her to watch some of the music videos on YouTube.

On event day, I went to The Big School - a little clueless. Bean was at Playschool so The Other Half stayed in the city to handle his dismissal time etc. He had seen Annie, The Musical this year and sort of expected Year End Concert to be just as spectacular.

The Preparation At Home:
The night before, I had washed and ironed her stage outfit. Her class teacher, Puan J, rang me up earlier that evening to brief me as to what to do to help from home. A summary was then quickly relayed to all the mums in the WhatsApp group, so that we can all prepare. 

Our little family even went out to purchase her own set of cosmetics from Dior at KLCC. The Other Half did not want her to use my Dior in case she gets any allergy before such an important occasion. She had just recovered from a recent bout of food allergy. We thought we could save some money by buying her L'Oreal but since L'Oreal eye shadows irritate my eyes, we did not want to risk it. At Dior, we let chose her own eyeshadow (Tutu, which is an excellent choice!) but she allowed me to match her rouge and lip balm for her. She loves her first Dior!

The Concert:
Mind-blowing, impressive presentation was put up by Reception to Year 6 students. Orchestra was led by Mr. Ng, vocals and dance, lights and stage production, photography, programme and everything else were accomplished by students. The teachers have done a great job once again. Bravo!

They started the programme with school song, in a pop song tune (The Other Half later quipped that this would never have been allowed to happen in his alma mater). Well, creativity got the audience grooving and that was an excellent ice-breaker.

If anyone had been misled to think The Big School is academically stressful, they have not seen how vigorous the sports, music, performing arts, arts and etc are! Academic is, really, just one of the many wonderful aspects of growing. Thank you, Mamapumpkin. Your insights in the time leading up to our preparation for entrance assessment and start of school year have been so precious and helpful. Thank you. We are forever grateful.

This year, The Little Girl had been chosen as a co-emcee for the Book Prize Presentation for her class. Her name was called first, as she had to return to the rostrum for her part.

She read 13/26 names of her classmates out clearly, with the other 13/26 being read by her classmate, the ever smart and handsome MHZJ. They were both trained to sight the recipient and pace the announcement accordingly. The secret to this magic is the class teacher who stood by them to prompt them along the programme, credits to Mrs. R for having so much trust in them. Stage fright begone, syukur alhamdulillah!

Every single "dance and song" received oohs and aahs from proud parents and even prouder grandparents. This is one place where grandparents are acknowledged, appreciated and applauded. So truly beradab. So truly humble.

The highly-entertaining afternoon concluded with a huge applause from the audience. The Founder closed the event with a touchingly encouraging, witty and spontaneous speech. The school photographer took a few shots of the audience before everyone piled out in an orderly form and went home in high spirits.

Syukur alhamdulillah for such a wonderful experience. Even the rain clouds cleared up just before the event and stayed sunny throughout, masyaAllah! Looking forward to future years, inshaAllah

Monday, 17 August 2015

Eager Anticipation

Hello, my lovelies! 

I am looking forward to baking our doughnuts this week, as soon as this arrives:

Bean says with his cute seriousness, "Chocky doughnuts", while The Little Girl loudly screams "Choose with Hundreds and Thousands". The Other Half welcomes the idea of cappuccino with salted caramel. I just want a simple matcha with azuki.

Do they think I operate Big Apple from my kitchen? That is such a gracious compliment *sheepish grin* maybe we do have to pay a visit to Big Apple before my baking pan arrives! Except we prefer baked doughnuts to fried ones. 

Have a lovely week ahead!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Summer 2015

Syukur alhamdulillah the final week of school will be upon us soon. It has been an awesome school year and we hope for the best for the next few days. Year End Concert, Report Card Day, how exciting!

Some classmates from The Little Girl's Big School will be withdrawing. Some are  leaving for good and go to other schools, some are withdrawing for a host of personal reasons and some are just tired from the rigour required equally for academic, sports, music and etc. therefore taking a short breather. Time out to recharge. Time out to explore options.

As hard as it must have been for some parents to have come to their respective decisions, they would have considered all angles, then picked what suits their respective families best.

"Never for once think that whichever school you have selected will be best suited to you and your family forever."

Circumstances change, people change, His Plans come into play. Personally, this is a wise piece of advice I have received from a fellow mum and I am grateful. 

We wish those friends adieu/see you again. Life is such that people come and people go. Nothing is certain except His Plans. Some friendships last, some are meant to be revived later, while some to be better nurtured elsewhere. 

Yes, even at 5+ years old. As a mother, I can only guide then watch as she bids her goodbyes, or navigate a "please keep in touch" arrangement. Her emotional maturity is reflected in the choices she makes, SubhanAllah! May Allah swt Guide and Protect her. Amin!

To returning classmates, let's have another fantastic year come September! Let's have fun flourishing together. Comfort in familiar faces are assuring too, so hold our hands and thank you for your return.

Just as it is heart-wrenching to see some classmates go, we welcome new classmates this autumn to fill that void. New class with new teachers. Definitely new dynamics! Seasons change, so do faces. May only the best people come her way. Touching hearts, nurturing body mind and soul; and beautifully move forth with her. Amin!
Thursday, 13 August 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Shiitake Mushrooms

I used to wonder why would my shiitake mushrooms turn out dry and hard even after being cooked in the slow cooker for hours. 

After some troubleshooting, I tried the following tips from Just One Cookbook:

1. Soak dry shiitake mushrooms with hot water in a bowl.

2. Press mushrooms down with another bowl so mushrooms will not float and the weight helps with even soaking. Bowl in a bowl for about 20 minutes.

3. Rinse soaked mushrooms with cold water, and squeeze mushrooms dry.

4. Stems must be cut off. 

5. Cook mushrooms under meat, so that they do not float and weight of the meat will help press mushrooms down for even cooking and better taste.

Steps 2, 4 and 5! Alright.

So I did exactly the above today for our 5-spice chicken with shiitake mushrooms dish. We got ourselves the most succulent mushrooms and chicken for dinner tonight! 

must really have a word with my family to allow me to snap photo of the dish first before they dig in. Sure. They will look at me funny as soon as those words come out of my mouth. Fine.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Spiraliser For Zoodles: Part 1 of 2

I got this Spiraliser from Lazada for about RM59.00. Exact same thing is being sold on Amazon, for more. Note to self: Pays to check local sites first when shopping online.

Of course I was excited to test if my unit was fit for purpose, as soon as it had arrived. Off I went to find 2 medium zucchini a few weeks ago and came home to make zoodles right away. Medium-sized zucchini is best because it produces seedless and smooth zoodles.

My next project is Asam Laksa Penang using cucumber to replace rice noodles. I am going to save myself the hardwork by *starts whispering* buying the soup and condiment from Ah Cheng Laksa *ends whispering*. Hack it till I make it, yes!!

Honestly, this spiraliser is alright but I personally prefer a less flimsy design, I have sent this unit into the recycling bin because I have no patience for flimsy kitchen tools. Let me know if you have a sturdier recommendation! I also have my Magimix 4200XL to explore, of course. 

P/S: I will update a photo of my zoodles when I make some again. The first few went so well and disappeared fast before I could whip out my iPhone!
Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Egg Muffin

This is a fast and easy to prepare side dish and is versatile enough to be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner, although we usually skip the sausages part so as to reduce our intake of nitrates/toxins associated with preservation of sausages. 

You may also add chopped vegetables to give this dish a colourful twist (think traffic lights capsicums). Be creative and have fun experimenting!

If you are not fat watching, do sprinkle some mozzarella shreds before baking for that delicious cheesy goodness.

8 organic eggs
1/2 cup milk
Chicken breakfast sausages
Sea salt

1. Beat eggs and milk mixture until well combined. I do this in a Pyrex cup for easy pouring.
2. Season with sea salt and pepper.
3. Cut chicken breakfast sausages into halves.
4. Place a piece of 1/2 of chicken breakfast sausage into each muffin well.
5. Pour egg mixture until 3/4 full.
6. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes.
7. Cool on rack before serving.

I like mine with a squirt of Lingam's hot chilli sauce or Tabasco sauce. 

Bon appetit!

Easy Peasy Recipe: Shrimp Cheesemelt Rice

The Other Half asked why haven't we tried anything from Hong Kong baked rice places (most are not halal, dude!) so I tried this hack last night.

1. Cook rice in automatic rice pot as usual.
2. Arrange marinated shrimp (we used some sea salt and ground black pepper) onto rice once cooked. This is the moment when the "cook" button switches to "keep warm" mode.
3. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until shrimp turn all pink/cooked.
4. Sprinkle mozzarella shreds on top.
5. Serve piping hot.

Hacked it! New item added to our rotating dinner menu.

Bon appetit!
Monday, 10 August 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Orange Yoghurt Steamed Muffin

This is a light, sweet treat that we all love but hardly make simply because it is...sweet!

200g vanilla yoghurt 
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup sugar 
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
juice of 1 orange

1. Mix vanilla yoghurt with self-raising flour in a bowl.
2. Add sugar and continue mixing until smooth.
3. Add olive oil and stir well until fully combined. 
4. Whisk in eggs.
5. Flavour with freshly squeezed orange juice.
6. Scoop batter into muffin tray (fill each serving 3/4 full).
7. Steam for 18 minutes.
8. Remove immediately, stand each muffin to cool before serving.

Bon appetit!

Gratitude: BFF Bibimbap

Today, I am grateful for good friend(s). I am blessed with a good friend (and sometimes more) for every stage of my life. Friends for all seasons, friends for all reasons, alhamdulillah.

This wonderful lady and I, we met in primary school and sailed through the entire primary and secondary years without being best of friends. Parallel lives, that did not really cross.

Not until many, many years later, while working, and after I landed a job that required equal amounts of desk and travel. We were chummy sisters in Christ too, until I reached a stage when I asked and searched for The Truth. When I found The Truth in Islam, this friendship took one of the hardest blows. 

It was one of my many challenges towards Islam, masyaAllah. Allah swt is full of mercy and blessings.

I cried over it, I prayed over it, but Allah swt Knows Best and Healed me/us in His time.

Years on, with our past hurt having been dealt with, we have both grown emotionally and spiritually. Amends were made and compromises agreed upon. Agree to disagree, agree to live harmoniously and agree to grow old happily.

Dol sot bibimbap is a dish we both love and try to have every time we meet up. Hearty, wholesome and homely. We go home feeling nourished, spiritually recharged and friendship bond reinforced with love and kindness. Somehow, we do not feel the passing of 3 decades as we laugh and cry together...

In our early 30s, we used to share a common love for flourless chocolate  cake, and I learnt to steam some every time the craving calls for it. Perhaps I can, inshaAllah, steam some soon and deliver them to her office once the summer holidays kick in. Now that's a plan!

We also share a few other common indulgences like facial and spa, make up and skin care shopping, shopping in general and made-to-order brew of "mocha decaf soya". Over the years, K-drama and South Korean cuisine crept into our common favourites!

Sometimes, we remember all our common traits and preferences when the world outside tries to tear us apart. We even shared a hairstylist for many years. It is too wonderful that this hairstylist we both love has the rare skills of creating vavoomness for our flat fine hair. And he is back in business at Saw Saloon KLCC!!

The girliness in us have not depleted, save for the fact that opportunities for such time consuming activities are much harder to come by since we have both gotten married and started our own families. However, by some miracle, we make those moments count, when they do happen.

What is important though, is that we know such friendship blessings are precious and protected in armour of love, trust and loyalty. SubhanAllah! The physical distance may seem far, but not our hearts (ironically, thanks to technology and social media).

Allah swt knows how precious this friendship is. Bean and my BFF share the same birth date. His Gifts, truly. 

Thank you, Monica. I am blessed to have you in my life. May you be increased in abundance and love, always. Amin!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Easy Peasy Recipe: Macaroni Stir Fry

Formula: Pasta + 2 or 3 vegetables + 1 Protein
+ Baby Pak Choy
+ Carrots
+ French Beans
+ Onions
+ Fish Ball
+ Olive Oil (1 tablespoon) to grease wok

1. Boil macaroni, drain and set aside.
2. Soften carrots and onions in greased wok.
3. Stir in Baby Pak Choy stems and French Beans.
4. Add Baby Pak Choy leaves and Fish Balls.
5. Stir in boiled macaroni and gently toss.
6. Sea salt and pepper to taste. 

 The hardest part was having to chop up of all the vegetables *giggles*

We usually use whatever vegetables and whatever protein is in our fridge, so inevitably this dish looks different every single time. When we run out of protein, we give it a sprinkle of nuts (cashews and pine are firm favourites!). When I am feeling super-able, I make fried egg strips for the protein portion. 

Changing the type of pasta is the easiest way to present this dish differently, or at least my kids seem to think so. We all love this simple dish, as so it has been in our rotating dinner menu for 5 years.

See what I mean by same formula and this dish turns out dramatically different every time? Quite often, we skip the pasta and have carrots or zucchini spirals  instead!

Well, I foresee my kids being able to cook this for themselves when they are working adults with family of their own, inshaAllah.

Bon appetit!
Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bean's First Report Card

Bean is 25 months old and has received his first report card from The Playschool today. So cute, at least to me! 

We are so proud of his achievements and milestones, as always. His singing, hearing, tempo, dancing and clapping skills fall within the outstanding band *hurrah* maybe it is the counting of 1,2,3,4 in music that had jumpstarted his numerical skills? 

We gleefully anticipated this because he would sing every last word of nursery rhymes verse. He knows at least 64 different ones (I know it is at least 64 because we have a book-CD sing-along which we have been playing on loop in the car since we had The Little Girl).

Bean loves stories and sits patiently during story time. He especially loves Cars, Cars 2 and Julia Donaldson books. He used to really enjoy Sophie and Goose series, as well as Eric Carle books. During circle time at The Playschool, he is an outstanding story time participant. Able to choose books, sit down, anticipate words and react according to emotions in any story *yay*

Speaking of Eric Carle, Bean has been reciting "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" nightly at bedtime, like his sister used to do. When he fights sleep, he will start the whole 64 nursery rhymes repertoire, which we usually cut short with Gruffalo's Child song because Bean worries about The Big Bad Mouse finding him still awake, way past his bedtime...

His wonderful caregivers also noted his preference for parallel play, while still being able to take turns, demonstrates willingness to follow 2-steps instructions, keen on familiarity with timeline and routine, has healthy appetite, shows fine and gross motor skills development etc. all those little details are so well-encapsulated in a concise progress report.

We are especially proud of his affectionate character and knowing when to stop being cheeky/dangerous. Respect for danger without compromising fun and discovery is important to us all.

May Allah swt Protect and Guide this little boy forevermore. Amin!


The Little Girl is left-handed but sometimes paints with her right hand. Ambidextrously amazing! Syukur Alhamdulillah her left and right brains are developing.

Another afternoon of water-colour painting, mixing and having solo fun. Passage of life, as she reminds me of how I filled my childhood afternoons some 30 years ago.

These are the good old days. Bless!