Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Horrible Science



I got to know about this series of books from a friend's blog. She blogged about how much her son T loved these books, and how he learnt something from reading them. I did a search on Amazon, read a couple of pages, and placed order for "Bulging Box of Books - Horrible Science".

These books were shipped from UK, and I was impressed by the prompt shipping by this external company, pbshopus. The books were shipped from their UK warehouse a day after I placed my order. And it came wrapped securely in many layers. The box was in very good condition when I received it! I will definitely order UK published books from this company again!

These books would be good for summer reading. Darling son KW was eager to start reading, and loving to do things systematically, he opted to start reading from Book A - Angry Animals. He even brought the book to school to read. I could hear him laughing out laugh as he read. Definitely a boy's kind of book =) And seeing his big brother reading and laughing away, the little one also started reading the first book, after his elder brother finished reading it.

And I'm happy to see them read! It seems kind of crazy to order a box of 20 books. But if the boys enjoy the books, and each book (including the shipping fee) cost less than S$4, why not? I would say that it is money well spent =)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Son and His Braces



Darling son KW started wearing his braces near the end of April, and he had progressed from just a plain metal wire across his top six teeth, to adding a spring across them. Each time he sees the orthodontist, he gets to chose the color of the metal pieces. The first time, he chose green. And he changed it to red during his recent visit to the clinic =)

One night after dinner, hubby dear said to me "We should take photographs of his teeth, with braces on, to chart the progress".

Indeed, after a month of wearing the braces, just a plain wire across the top six teeth, his crossbite had been fixed. The above photograph showed the springs that were added during his second visit to the clinic. Compare the two central incisors in the above picture with the picture below, taken in April, before he put on his braces.



Can you see the difference? The top two central incisors are now aligned nicely next to one another! I didn't take any photographs of him when he first put on those braces. He was feeling very conscious about it, always hiding a smile, for fear of people seeing his braces. It was actually not obvious, unless he gave a big, broad smile. And to adjust to having a wire strung across six upper teeth was no fun at all! Soreness and pain set in, not to mention having to adjust to chewing his food and how his friends take to his braces. He did relax a little after a while, as he found out that another classmate had just removed her braces. They had a good chat about ... the pain of wearing braces =p

His third visit will be coming up at the end of June. I wonder what the orthodontist will do next. Fixing the slight crossbite on the lower two central incisors seems to be in Phase 2 of the plan.

As for my little one, he kept asking us when he was going to wear braces. His assumption is that whatever his GorGor goes through, he will get to experience/do as well. I had to laugh, as he has yet to lose a single baby tooth, considering that he is almost seven?

So here I am, patiently waiting for YW to lose his first baby tooth, and for two lateral incisors to emerge.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our First BBQ at Home



The weather has finally warmed up! The last two weeks had been freezing, as the central heating in the apartments had been switched off. After being in the icy cold for six months, I welcome any warmth with open arms!

Since the weather is finally turning warmer, and for the better, we bought a BBQ grill from Walmart at $25. Now that we have a backyard, we can have a BBQ for lunch!



The Grill Master at work =) We didn't have any starter cubes, only the liquid fire lighter. So each time hubby dear poured the liquid fire starter onto the charcoal, flames sprung upwards. We had to shoo our little boy away, although he was out and wanted to help.



We wrapped the grid with aluminum foil. It made cleaning up easier after the BBQ.



After getting the fire started, we could finally put the meat on to grill!!



Yummy soy-marinated chicken wings and drumlets! Love that BBQ taste! So different from when you bake them.



Prawns, marinated with a little sea salt and mirin. Added some sweet mini peppers. Wrapped them up in aluminum foil and leave the packet on the grill to cook!



Some baby corn .. seasoned with a little butter and sea salt.
Wrapped in aluminum foil and leave on grill to cook too!



Deboned chicken thigh fillets, marinated with garlic powder, ginger powder, soy sauce and honey! Yummy!



Do you like grape or cherry tomatoes? Put them on a skewer and BBQ! They taste so good!

We will be BBQ again on Monday, Memorial Day, since the weather is supposed to be good! And I do foresee using the BBQ grill very often in summer =)


Thursday, May 26, 2011

An "Easy-On-The-Mouth" Meal



Darling son KW went for his monthly visit to the orthodontist on Tuesday. The crossbite problem had been fixed, a month after wearing his braces! For the visit this month, the orthodontist added springs to his braces. This is to push the two central incisors closer to each other, to create a little more space for the other incisors to emerge.

Needless to say, the soreness and the pain he experienced during the last two days turned him into a cranky young man. Sleep was disrupted due to the soreness. He tried to put on a brave front, refusing pain reliever when offered. Cold sore formed as the braces rubbed against his mouth, since he had to change the way he chewed his food. He prefers food which is soft, and easy to chew. He will still eat whatever that is given to him, but he is not able to finish. Not his usual self. So for lunch today, he asked for something soft, easy-on-the-mouth kind of food.

When I suggested ham and fried egg, he happily agreed.
For once, since adjusting the braces, he brought home an empty lunch box.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tic Tac Toe



How do you like an edible game of Tic-Tac-Toe during lunch?



I would love to make more of those crosses and circles. But I was pressed for time, so I did one of each. Just enough to see that it was a game of Tic-Tac-Toe =) The boys had fun "playing" and eating during lunch.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Man in Tuxedo




I was trying to wrap the nori around the triangular rice ball, to make it looked like a man wearing a tuxedo. He even had a glamourous pin attached to his coat. However, he was lacking a hat! I forgot to include his hat!

As usual, after looking at my photograph, I would tell myself ... next time, next time, I will remember =P However, I did remember to include more vegetables in the boys' bento!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week



Teacher Appreciation Week was two weeks ago. Unlike Teachers' Day back home, which is a one-day affair, the kids in the woods have one whole week to show the teachers their appreciation. Many of the activities are parent initiated ... tea and luncheon for all teachers, parent volunteers of each class coordinating "Snacks and Treats" day, "Thank-You Card" day, "Class Party" day, "Flower" day etc. Each class will have different activities. It all depends on the parents of that class.

Darling son YW's teacher in Kindergarten was heavily pregnant with twins during Teacher Appreciation Week last year. The art teacher, who is also a parent of the class, initiated a class project to thank the teacher. The kids painted a rocking chair (chair donated by parent) during their art class! Don't you just love the way the parent, kids and teacher work together as a team? No wonder my little boy said to me on the very first day of school ..... "I love school!".



This year, Darling son YW is in a different class. He helped me with owls, for this ThankYou Card in a photo frame. This is a chipboard frame with a plastic cover. I don't have to worry about my son breaking the glass cover while carrying it from home to school.



I made a big envelope and placed the "Card" inside. Made an owl badge to seal the envelop =) The little one was very pleased with the wrapped up "card". He came home and said "Ms B puts the frame on her table!".
He was very happy indeed.



The parent-volunteer of the class suggested treating Ms B to some snacks to help her start off the week. So we wrapped some packets of dried fruit crisps. Some healthy snacks to help fuel her through the week! We contributed some cash and gave her a gift card so that she could get a small gift from the nearby mall, to pamper herself =)


As for Darling Son KW, he was given a piece of white card to write a message for his teacher, MrsW. The parent volunteer would stand outside their classroom in the morning to collect the cards, and compile the cards in an album, to be presented to the teacher at the end of the week. What a neat way to present the ThankYou cards! And so I helped my boy with the card.



Yes, owls again. All gifts to the teachers were owl related =)
Our "Thank-You Card" in a photo frame was already done up prior to the parent volunteer's suggestion of card compilation.




Here's a close-up shot of the owls.
I love these little cuties and I love my Owl Punch!



We didn't want the trainee teacher to feel left out, so we also got a little gift for her as well ... a healthy cereal snack bar to fuel her through the day! It was all nicely wrapped up with an owl tag attached, to bring on a smile =)



It was a busy week ... cutting and wrapping!
I had fun, the kids had fun, and most importantly, the teachers feel appreciated!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Owl BookMark and Card



Another Owl-Bookmark, for a new friend in Singapore! I hope she finds the bookmark useful, since she is frequently flipping through various baking books for ideas and inspirations! And we, the readers, benefit from the recipes she posts on her blog, as well as all the tips she shares.



The paper clip with the owl attached can be removed from the rectangular bookmark. It can be used as a bookmark on its own.



However, if your book is very new, and you don't like the paper clip bookmark to leave a mark on your page, then put the paper clip back onto the bookmark and use the bookmark as it is =)



Look, who's peeking?!
In addition to the bookmark, I also made a "Thank You" card for her. To thank her for her kind thoughts and the extension of friendship to someone far, far away. Really appreciate the friendship, especially when it is from a fellow Singaporean! Warms the heart =)



The inside of the card ... the top owl is supposed to be popped-up.
I should have taken the photograph at another angle.
Can you see the watermarked leaves on the background?



So here's taking a photograph of the card at a different angle ... can you see the watermarked leaves and the popped-up owl? However, the watermarked leaves seemed to have vanished after I wrote on the card =( Lesson learnt ... use the watermark ink on coloured paper instead of white paper.



I had so much fun making these owls! Here's another owl "badge" to seal the envelop =) I hope SH enjoyed the card as much as I had fun making it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thank You Card and BookMark



I made an owl bookmark for a friend, who helped me babysit the boys in the evening while I went to take my driving test. With four boys and a girl at home, I was very sure she had a headache during that two hours!

Here's the Thank You card for her =)



And I tried watermarking the inside of the card. Here's how the inside of the card looked after I stamped it with watermark ink. The colour of the card just reminds me of brown oak leaves in Fall.



Thanks, Janice! I was less stressed out during the test since the kids were not at the centre with me. And thanks for being my passenger and going with me on a practice drive the day before the test. It really helped =)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring Flowers



The Spring momentum is on, and I'm doing more Spring related bentos! When I think of Spring, I think of Flowers! So here's another flower bento for the boys. Never mind that flowers are not exactly a boys' thing ... I love flowers, and they love cheese. So it's a win-win situation =)




I gave the boys more vegetables .. Broccoli and Baby Corn. There's also ovenbaked chicken fillet. I think I prefer the box with just the rice flowers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Angry Bird



Does the above look like one of the Angry Birds to you? I know nothing about these Angry Birds ... I don't own an iPhone, or the fancier gadgets. The first cellphone I had when I first arrived in the woods was one that had only the basic functions. The kind that is allowed to be brought into the army camp, without the camera function. That was fine with me, since I hardly use my cellphone (including SMS-ing). Hence my boys do not know about these Angry Birds. However, they are game whenever I include a monster, or anything fierce or scary in their lunch ... they love having a "fight" will these creatures during lunch. Boys will be boys.

Well, I get to know Angry Bird through blogs. I saw these lovely Angry Bird figurines in HappyHomeBaker's and AuntyYochanna's blogs. I did a google search, and found that these Angry Birds were so popular, they appeared in a couple of bento blogs too! You can even make an Angry Bird out of Babybel! Gosh, I'm really surprised to find that these birds come in an assortment of colours! Since I have a test coming up mid week, and I am in no mood and energy to do anything elaborate, I choose the simple way out ... by using nori for the Black Angry Bird =p

Apart from being able to use nori, the other reason why I chose the black bird, was because of his red brows! I had some sweet red peppers left over from last night's dinner. So after pan frying the boys' favorite Hanbagu, I threw a couple of strips of the leftover peppers into the pan to warm them up. My boys are not fans of peppers, so I was not surprised to see the two strips of peppers sitting in an almost empty lunch box after school.

I really should try creating the red one using Babybel the next time =)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Sing



Today is the day for Spring Sing!
So I prepared a "Spring Sing" bento for the boys =)

This is the third year Darling Son KW is participating in the event, the second for Darling Son YW, and the first time I am attending the event!
I had so much fun watching the kids performed!



And the one in the photograph is the one and only music teacher in the school. Spring Sing is a yearly event organised by the school. The kids sing the songs they learn in music class, and on the day of Spring Song, performed on stage for parents. The K/1 classes wrote lyrics for their songs. The theme of their songs? Rhyming words. So they sung songs like "I wish, I wish, I wish for a fish in a dish.". They also had fun songs like "Throw my homework into the sea!". I really love how they combine English learning and music together!

As for the Grade2/3 students, the theme for their songs is "Seasons". They wrote about the four seasons and the things they did for these seasons. Here's a song on Spring and Mud, since it gets rainy in Spring, and you get mud everywhere!


video


In social studies for the Grade 2/3, they were taught the different states of the United States. And they wrapped up their performance with a song about the 50 states! But my memory card ran out of memory space halfway through recording the song! Haiz! Will definitely make sure I have a spare card for next year's performance!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crispy Noodles



What's for dinner tonight? Crispy Noodles! I can hear cheers and claps from my boys.

Gosh, had it been a year since I last served this dish for dinner? No wonder my elder boy kept asking "What are we having for dinner?". He just wanted to make sure he heard it correctly ... ok, he's been starved badly by Mom =p

The great thing about this dish is that you can use any ingredient available in your fridge. No chicken? Use fish. No prawns? Skip it. Replace broccoli with BakChoy. Anything goes! And yes, you can prepare the ingredients in advance, like frying the chicken and the prawns, blanching the broccoli and BakChoy. When ready to eat, fry the noodles and prepare the sauce. Pour the sauce over the pan-fried noodles and serve!

So for tonight's sauce, we have chicken, prawns, fishballs, broccoli, canned mushrooms, and chinese mushrooms.




Vegetables

1 head Broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
5 pcs Chinese or Shitake Dried Mushrooms, reconstitute in water, sliced
1 can Mushrooms (Small Can)
5 cloves Garlic, Peeled and chopped

I blanched the broccoli, cooked the fishballs, reconstituted and sliced the mushrooms and chopped the garlic in the afternoon. Set them aside for use later, and I went on to marinate the chicken and prawns.




Marinade for Chicken:

3 pcs Chicken Thigh Fillets, bone and skin removed, cubed
1 tsp Soy Sauce (I used low sodium Soy Sauce)
1 tsp Oyster Sauce (I used vegetarian sauce, which is less salty)
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Cornstarch

Dash of black pepper.
Dash of shaoxing wine during cooking.


Marinade for prawns:

15 pcs Large Shrimp/Prawns, peeled and deveined
1 tsp Sesame Oil

Dash of salt and black pepper.
Dash of shaoxing wine during cooking.

  • Marinate chicken pieces for about 30 minutes.
  • Adjust the amount of sauces according, depending on how much chicken you have, and how salty your sauces are. The amount above is just a guide.

Here's the star of the dish .... Noodles!




These are fresh noodles and they are already cooked. The bag of noodles is to be kept in the fridge till you are ready to use them. When ready to use, take it out from the fridge and remove the amount you want from the bag. Place the noodles in a big mixing bowl, and rinse the noodles with cold water. You will see that the water clouds up. Give it a rinse a couple of times till the water is not cloudy.



  • Drain the noodles and set aside.
  • Heat up a wok and add two tablespoons of oil.
  • When the oil is hot, add a handful of noodles into the wok.
  • Spread the noodles out evenly.


You can replace these noodles with angel's hair. But you will need to cook the angel's hair in a big pot of salted water, rinsed and drained before pan frying them.



I pan fried about four batches of noodles. After pan frying each batch, I placed the fried noodles on a paper kitchen towel to soak up the oil. Then I placed individual portions on the serving plates.

Now for the meat .... Using the same wok as frying the noodles, wipe off the remaining little pieces of noodles in the wok using a paper kitchen towel.

Cooking the prawns:
  • Heat up the wok. Add a tablespoon of oil.
  • When the oil is hot, add chopped garlic.
  • Fry garlic till fragrant, taking care not to brown them.
  • Add prawns.
  • When the prawns are almost cooked, add a dash of shaoxing wine.
  • Remove and set aside.


Cooking the chicken:
  • Wipe the wok with a paper kitchen towel if necessary.
  • Heat the wok and add a tablespoon of oil.
  • Add chopped garlic and fry til fragrant.
  • Add chicken pieces. Fry till browned.
  • Add a dash of shaoxing wine when almost cooked.
  • When cooked, remove and set aside.


Cooking the sauce:
  • Wipe the wok with a paper kitchen towel.
  • Heat the work and add a tablespoon of oil.
  • Add chopped garlic and fry till fragrant.
  • Add canned mushrooms and sliced chinese mushrooms.
  • Add 1 tsp osyter sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp soy sauce to the wok.
  • Mix well and fry for a minute.


  • Add broccoli and fishballs into the wok.
  • Add cooked chicken and prawns.
  • Add broth, approximately 1 litre or enough for the amount of noodles you have prepared.
  • Mix well and cook till the liquid starts to bubble.
  • Add 2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 tbsp of water or water from soaking mushrooms.
  • Add salt to taste if necessary. I did not add any salt as I find the flavor just right for us. If the sauce is too salty, you can add a little water.



The noodles are plain on its own, but when paired with the sauce, it is heavenly! The boys had an extra big serving each and asked more after they finished. Now that I have written down the recipe, and with my new big wok, I will definitely be serving this for dinner more often! Claps and hurrays from the boys ... the boys are stuffed and not starved tonight =)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Braised Mushroom Meat Sauce



When I saw this recipe at Kokken69, I knew I had to try it!
A meat sauce over a bowl of steaming hot rice ... hmmmm!
I prepared this dish in the afternoon, and served it for dinner in the evening, alongside with some blanched vegetables. Great for those days when you need to be out and have to rush home to prepare dinner! And the sauce is so versatile. You can always save the extra for another day, to be poured over a bowl of noodles. I used some of the extra to frying an omelette! Isn't that great?

300g Minced pork
3 pcs Dried Shitake Mushrooms (I used fresh shitake mushrooms)
30g Red Shallots (I used 1 large red shallot)
100g Chicken Stock (I didn't measure. Just enough to cover the meat in the pan)

Seasoning

1 tbsp Oyster Sauce (I used vegetarian stir fry sauce)
20ml Dark Soy Sauce (I used 1/2 tbsp)
30ml Light Soy Sauce (I used 1 tbsp)
1/2 tbsp Rock Sugar (I guess you can replace with caster sugar)
1/4 tsp Five-Spice Powder
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1 tbsp Shaoxing Wine



  • Marinade minced pork with a little light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch. I used about 1/2 tsp of each. Adjust the amount accordingly to taste.
  • Soak dried shitake mushrooms in water.
  • Drained and diced into small cubes.
  • In a heated wok, add 1 tbsp of water.
  • Fry sliced shallots till browned and crispy.
  • Remove from oil and set aside.
  • Heat the shallot oil and add the diced shitake mushrooms.
  • Fry mushrooms till fragrant.
  • Add minced pork.
  • Fry till 70% cooked.
  • Add seasoning.
  • Add chicken stock and simmer on low for about an hour.
  • Add crispy fried shallots. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat. If possible, leave the meat overnight in the fridge.
  • Heat up before serving. Add a little cornstarch mixture if you prefer a thicker sauce.


I did not measure the amount of chicken stock used. I just add enough to cover the meat. So if your chicken stock is salty, you may want to reduce the amount of sauces used in the seasoning and the marinade.

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