New Zealand – a little something for everyone!

This is a re-cap of our annual family holiday that we took in 2018. YIKES! I know.. but it has been a crazy couple of months, with work at the Company and then work at MAPL (retail peak season), it’s like I finally got a chance to take a short break on my own and just chilling on ME time when the Bub goes off to bed.

But blogging has always remained close to my heart, so here’s an attempt of putting down the memories as I clear my back-log of photos/ posts.

Why New Zealand?

When the Man asked where we should go for our annual trip, I suggested New Zealand. Mostly because if we didn’t want to go back to Europe and a trip to the US with a young kid does sound quite daunting. New Zealand was a country I had wanted to head back to for friends with young kids who have been there do give it a thumbs-up for being close to nature. Also, I visited New Zealand when I was a teenager and it would be nice to go back to visit a country and see the changes that it has undergone in the last 20 years.

For our trip to New Zealand, the Man decided to use a travel company to plan our family holiday. We knew most holidays in New Zealand are self-drive but driving on holidays are also quite stressful – planning the route, making sure that the hours on the road are not too long for the driver, rest-stops, etc – the Man didn’t want to deal with this. I wasn’t going to be a good navigator, so we decided to leave the planning of our holiday in the good hands of the people who knew the ins and outs of the country instead.

As for the itinerary, we did have a couple of things that we wanted to incorporate on our holiday, such as golf for the man as well as sight-seeing for both me and the Bub. Because the Man and I are both big on wine and food, we wanted an itinerary that would be curated to suit our needs.

What we did as a family?

We couldn’t quite call it a holiday in New Zealand if we didn’t visit the Hobbiton Movie Set tour. This was done on Day 2 of our holiday where we didn’t quite adjust to NZ time yet and was horribly late in meeting our guide. The weather was also very deary and cold. We needed to be out at the set for a good 1 – 1.5 hours and so we braved the rains/ winds, dressed the Bub as warm as possible and decided to put forth our best smiles for the camera.

The tour coupled with anecdotes from our guide made it very enjoyable. We did catch Lord of the Rings and could associate with a couple of familiar scenes from the actual set. The Bub was probably tired from the cold so the Man did his fair share of weight-lifting as we meandered around the tiny set.

Fun fact! The Royals were also in town when we arrived in New Zealand and we visited some of the attractions before they did.

We (or least I) get a thrill out of saying ‘We did it first!’ before the Royals did. The Redwood Treewalk at Rotura was very enjoyable as the weather was cool and being up in the trees felt pretty surreal. The kid was also very adventurous in being the first to complete the tree-top walk. Competitive indeed!

Day 4 of our holiday, we took a private boat-ride on Lake Taupo where we experienced Taupo’s crystal clear waters. We sailed past the famous Maori Rock Carving which is only accessible on the water and it’s a must-see in Taupo.

We also opted to fish while on board as the area is protected and to fish in the lake, a special license must be obtained. Thankfully the weather cleared up quite a fair bit and sunshine greeted us as we both tried our hand at fishing.  The Bub also wanted in on the fun and was a tad disappointed when the fish she caught got away. We had to pacify her a little and tell her to try harder.

What we did in Queenstown:

In Queenstown where we spent the remaining 5 days of our holiday, we took a chartered plane ride to visit the famed Milford Sound. It was very beautiful admiring the alpine scenery and rainforest from the top. I think what would have made it more enjoyable on the almost hour-long plane-ride is if it could be accompanied with commentary or some music. The Bub was obviously very soothed by the ride that she fell asleep almost immediately after the plane took off. We were supposed to do a cruise back into town but because the weather had been bad while we were there, it was cancelled eventually.

We also enjoyed the Ben Lomond High Country Station private tour that saw us on an ATV zipping in and out of the countryside while stopping by to say hello to the thousands of sheep that were grazing on the hills. The little one enjoyed this up-close-and-personal touch with nature very much and was super thrilled by how the ATV could maneuver through tiny roads and river streams.

All in all, this trip to New Zealand saw us bond as a family and allowed us or rather me to fully rest from the hustle and bustle of city/ normal life. I really have been so worn out with work and it was good to just to not do anything and just turn in early to let the body rest.

I’ve only just scratched the surface on what we did on our holiday! Will probably try to find time to blog about where we stayed and what we ate in a follow-up post! Till then, dreaming of our next holiday already.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I didn’t quite imagine that I would be having this conversation with my 4 year old. But I guess this topic is popular and would come up from time to time again, be it in school or at home.

She has gone from becoming a Princess to now wanting to become a Doctor. I guess that’s quite evident from the number of doctor sets that we have acquired for her as toys. I kept wondering why she kept going back to buying another doctor set when we already have a functional Doc McStuffins play-set and another set that my MIL has gotten her. When we went to Daiso and I allowed her to pick just ONE toy, she gravitated towards a stethoscope packaged with an injection needle. For $2, I wasn’t going to quibble with her.

It all clicks now when she proudly shows off the doctor sets that she has acquired since about 1 year plus and tells us that when she grows up, she wants to be a doctor! The teachers in her school also know about this ambition of hers and so when she tells us she wants to bring her doctor set to school, I let her – coupled with reminders that she should take great care of her stuff because if any parts get lost, I’m not getting her a new set. I often eat my words after.

Penning this down for it will be interesting to see if she actually will become a doctor when she grows up. I know when I was a child and if asked this question, I would say I want to be an actress. Look how it all turned out! Very different in reality but hey, I am not complaining!

No more monkey jumping on the bed

Well, you should know by now how the famed ‘Monkeys jumping on the bed’ song goes. Just a couple of days into 2019, we were greeted one horrifying episode when our little monkey fell off the bed. While she didn’t quite hit her head, she did end up with a hairline fracture on her elbow.

Incident happened on a Saturday evening where we were just about to have few friends over for dinner. She was playing in her room unsupervised, mostly because we felt she’s old enough to do so. We did leave the baby monitor on and could hear what she was doing in her room which was basically watching TV and playing with her toys. I didn’t know what happened exactly but I heard her crying and the Man trying to soothe her.

Found out later that she slipped off the bed frame while trying to jump off with two pillows placed on top of the frame. This girl, she really has no fear.  Her cries were pretty loud and when we asked if she could move her arm, she screamed louder and told us she couldn’t. We were in a dilemma as to whether we should rush to the hospital to have her treated but on the back of mind, we also thought perhaps she was in shock and once she had her nerves calmed, she could move her arm.

So our friends came, we had our dinner and while the crying stopped, when we attempted to get her to move her arm, the tears would start along with the whining. We decided for peace of mind, it would be better for us to head to the hospital to get a X-ray done.

After approximately about 45 minutes wait at KKH Hospital (A&E for Children), we did a X-ray and our worst fears were confirmed. The little one did have a hair-line fracture on her elbow and that elbow needed to be in a cast.

Our first thoughts were whether the cast would be comfortable for a young child and whether we should cancel our upcoming ski holiday. But the doc on duty told us to just leave the cast on for about a week before going back for another review with the specialist. And hopeful we remained.

A week on, we went back to see the specialist who advised us to let the Bub be on another cast (he assured us the material used for this cast would be more comfortable than the previous one). I guess the highlight of the whole session was that she got to choose the colour for her cast. She went with apple green in the end. With the ski holiday fast approaching in Feb, I daringly asked the doc if her cast can be removed by then and for her to learn skiing. He said ‘let’s see’! While the very least he did was to book the next check-up a few days before the Lunar New Year holidays. He was hopeful that the cast will be removed by then for her to enjoy the season of feasting.

It was a traumatic experience for us as parents having to see our child being in a cast and just praying that it would not be as unbearable as it looks (ie: itchy and smelly). Thankfully, the Bub is such a trooper and her am being in the cast did give her the extra boost of confidence to run around (back to her usual normal self).

That said, the extra attention that was showered upon her during the time then didn’t hurt as well. She had extra hugs, kisses and portions of food/ fruit and ice-cream that came along her way.

As for our holiday? We did go eventually and the Man and I took turns hitting the slopes while the Bub stayed indoors and got an extra-large dose of Netflix. Ain’t a bad way to spend a holiday right?

 

 

The girl in the mirror

Little girl is growing up way too fast. I’m sure this is a sentiment echoed by most parents. Though we spend most of our time together, a large part of the day is also spent at work/ school/ running errands, etc – getting through routines and schedules.

Her passport is due for renewal and I attempted to take a picture for submission. When I told her she needs to look at the camera and smile for the new photo as we needed to update her baby picture in her current passport. The poor kid burst out in tears and bawled “But I want to be a baby! I want the baby photo in the passport! I don’t want to be a big girl! I want to be a baby, otherwise you all won’t love me anymore!”

I hugged the kiddo tightly and reassured that she will always be my baby no matter how big she is. It took a while to convince her but she eventually calmed down. Seeing her react that way about growing up brought back memories for as a young girl, I also had similar issues growing up and growing old plus dying. I remembered bursting into tears for fear of my parents growing too old. But as the saying goes, time waits for no man. I can only store these memories in my heart.

And like my mom shared, little girl’s mannerism and character is like mine. I guess it really is like looking in the mirror and seeing a part of me in my little girl.

Kitchen Aid x Mother’s Day Cookout

We were invited by Kitchen Aid for this Mother’s Day cooking event at Little House of Dreams over the weekend and we had a lovely time – with me learning how to make Shepherd’s Pie using the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and the food grinder attachment and the little one having a ball of a time feasting on the cookies and also the goodies that the Kitchen Aid team specially prepared.

There were about 6 pairs who were also invited to this intimate gathering and it’s amazing how the 3 hours passed by so quickly. We each learned how to make Shepherd’s Pie with the ingredients that were specially prepared for each of us. I diced those onions and garlic as Cooking Mama while the Bub munched on her fave cookie with icing and watched me do the prep work. When it came to mincing the chicken meat, I learned how to fasten the food grinder attachment with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and realised how quick the tool actually grinded up the meat. I used to think that this could only be used of making sausages but truth be told, we don’t eat a lot of sausages and it’s way faster to purchase them from a deli. But this meat grinder attachment is actually pretty useful for you know exactly what type of meat goes into the minced mixture. Remove the fatty bits from the chicken skin for it ain’t healthy and what you get is pure minced chicken. Really good for making burgers as well as making fine food for little ones. I can’t wait to experiment more with this device.

And I used to think that the Kitchen Aid stand mixer is only good for making cakes and sweet stuff. But of course, this simple cooking session changed my impression of that. Well, we did make Mee Hoon Kueh using the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. What I also learned is that the beater attachment can also mash potatoes! How useful is that tip?! I mean, I used to stand around the kitchen with my fork and exerted all that energy to mash the potatoes finely. Now that I know that the Kitchen Aid can do the job quickly, I’m really excited that we can have truffled mash in our occasional cook-outs soon! I wonder if it can mash steamed cauliflower too? Hmm..

We were also treated to a simple feast of pasta, pizza and chicken wings while we prepped our Shepherd’s Pie and also learned how versatile the Kitchen Aid can also be for the home. They also now have an additional Ice Cream bowl attachment which allow you to whip up ice-cream in the comfort of your own home. This is pretty useful if you want a device that can almost do everything by purchasing different attachments rather than purchasing different devices.

Please check out this simple video highlights of the Kitchen Aid event and if I do recreate the dish, I’ll be sure to share the recipe here!

Thanks Kitchen Aid Singapore for inviting us to be part of your Mother’s Day celebration. It was lovely meeting other ladies who specially brought their moms along and we are looking forward to the next Mom-and-Me cooking session. 🙂

One awesome gift for this Mama from Kitchen Aid

[Review]:

[Photo Credit: Kitchen Aid Singapore]

My eyes did a double blink when I saw this email from the folks at Kitchen Aid. They first invited us to an upcoming Mother’s Day workshop and then asked if we would be open to reviewing their items as part of the collab. I was really quite excited.. “A Kitchen Aid! WOW!!!” But of course, I’m the sort who didn’t want to count its chicks before they hatch, so I just waited to see what they would offer and lo and behold, they did offer the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer from the Artisan Series in Empire Red. The pastel colours in the range are really to die for but the red did stand out and hold its ground. Plus, it would also look just as fetching when placed next to our Nespresso coffee machine also in red. So that was the one we received!

[Photo Credit: Kitchen Aid Singapore]

When I was aggressively baking years ago, holed up in a small kitchen in our apartment in Geneva, I did lem for a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. After all, it’s THE Mixer of all mixers and this gorgeous device is often seen in many gourmet kitchens and kitchens of aspiring home-cooks. But I got scolded by the Man for even harbouring the thought of purchasing one as we moved from place to place then. It would not be pratical to lug it from one country to the next. So I just relied on my handheld mixer for many of my bakes. Till this fantastic opportunity came along!

After the initial unboxing of this gorgeous device was done (the kiddo helped too), I wondered hard and long what am I going to start baking/ cooking with this helpful kitchen device? My baking skills have somewhat become dusty along the way and the kid doesn’t quite have a sweet tooth so she might not appreciate the sweets like cupcakes and muffins that I whip up for her. I decided then to try using the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for another purpose instead.

We all have our fave dish that is reminiscent of our childhood. Something special that our moms have made that would warm our hearts along with our bellies. For me, it was always the oyster chicken with mushrooms dish and the salted vegetable duck soup – my mom’s speciality dishes. My mom was not a home-maker, she had a full-time job and in fact, juggled a few jobs when we were growing up but she did try to cook for us occasionally and now, she really does make it a point to cook for us at least once a week when we go back home on Sundays. Her meals are always simple but I really appreciate the time and effort that she put in to cook the many dishes to feed the entire family of 8 or more when the troop goes over.

For the Man, it would always be his mom’s Mee Hoon Kueh (hand torn noodles). My mom-in-law makes the mee hoon kueh from scratch, kneaded the dough mixture by hand and cooking the broth from scratch. The side dish to be accompanied with the Mee Hoon Kueh is a simple, broiled pork belly with sesame oil because growing up, they really didn’t have a lot so pork belly was considered a treat for the Man and his mom. Last but not least, the condiments such as fried shallots, pepper and ikan billis that will generously be sprinkled on this homemade and simple noodle dish.

This Mee Hoon Kueh dish is always the dish the Man would request for after a long trip away from home and this dish would also be the dish that Sophie would also request for from her grandma if she’s feeling poorly or as and when she wants her grandma to cook her a happy meal My mom-in-law would always oblige when it came to cooking for her son and granddaughter.

Years back when we were living in Geneva and because we were away from home, the Man actually recreated his mom’s Mee Hoon Kueh dish. Now that we are back home, we hardly have to make this dish from scratch but I did want to learn how to do this as my mom-in-law travels quite a fair bit now and on days when Sophie actually requests for this when she’s not around, I find myself telling her to have something else or to resort having to run out to the hawker centre to buy a bowl for her as we don’t have the ingredients stashed at home. Even though it’s the same type of noodles, the taste is not quite the same. Nothing quite beats the home-made “feels”,  if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s the way the noodles are rolled into small pieces of dough, mashed and then torn to make up little pieces of cooked and starchy goodness.

Well, it does appear that the recipe of making the Mee Hoon Kueh has been simplified and kneading the dough by hand would be a preferred method but having the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer do the job in half the time was this lazy mama’s hack in putting the meal on the table. We  started prepping our meal (together with the little one at 6.30pm) and made the hand torn noodles in under 20 minutes. The broth was prepared in advance and dinner was served at 7.10pm. To prep a meal with a kid in tow, I’d say we did well on time!

Mee Hoon Kueh (Hand torn noodles)

Ingredients:
For the noodles:
4 cups of rice flour
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml of cooled water

For the topping:
Fried shallots
Fried ikan bilis

For the soup stock:
150g ikan bilis, rinsed and drained
1.5 litres water
A bunch of spinach, trimmed
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp deep-fried ikan bilis
Onion oil, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method:
1) To make the noodles, mix the flour, egg, salt and water evenly in a mixing bowl. Using the dough mixer attachment, turn on Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer on low speed (ie: Speed 1) before gradually increasing it to a slightly higher speed. We used up to Speed 3.

2) Once the dough mixture comes together to form a ball, transfer the dough mixture into another mixing bowl.

3) Place some rice flour on your fingers and continue to knead the mixture in the bowl until it doesn’t stick to the hands.

4) Peel the dough into small balls of about 1 to 2cm. Press and flatten each ball till about 2mm thick. Set aside till ready to cook.

5) To make the soup, add the ikan bilis to 1.5 litres of water and bring it to bowl. Simmer over low heat for about 20 mins. Remove the ikan bilis and then add in spinach and egg (if desired).

6) Add the mee hoon kuey. When the noodles rise to the surface, scoop out noodles and broth in a bowl and serve.

This simple soup dish is extremely versatile and you can also add additional ingredients such as mushrooms, prawns and even minced meatballs to accompany the noodles.

Seriously, it is quite simple to make the mee hoon kueh with the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer using the dough attachment. Even my kid could do this as you can see. Well, you may ask why even bother using a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer to do something that simple? True, but if you are going to be investing in a piece of machinery only to use it for rare occasions then is this a worthy investment? The idea is that this device is supposed to help you around in the kitchen and to help put out dishes quick and fast for the family. That’s my rationale of a worthy investment.

Thanks Kitchen Aid Singapore for sending this lovely Stand Mixer to us. It really is a beautiful piece of machinery which is now a permanent fixture on our kitchen counter. Can’t wait to try out other recipes with this. So stay tuned!

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Disclaimer : We received the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with Meat Grinder attachment to test and review.  No additional monetary rewards were given.  All views expressed are purely of my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Any queries on the product  should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

Being a cheerleader

As a kid, my mom used to sign me up for art classes and I really did love them. In fact, I enjoyed colouring and drawing a lot growing up. So now that the little one is slightly older, I got her a jumbo set of colouring pencils that we try to bring out to occupy her instead of screen-time.

In church today, we had these colouring sheets where I distributed to the kids and her older cousins helped to colour. The little girl felt a little dejected when she saw that her colouring wasn’t as good as her older cousins. She’s kinda free-spirited by nature so I guess it shows up when she colours. She picks up different colours depending on her mood and the colours are often not within the lines. Even though I’m a tad bit OCD (meaning I would love for her to colour within the line and frame), I let her be. She does give up a little when she sees her colouring a little haphazard and messy. Today, she came up to me with tears streaming down her cheeks and told me “Mama, I’m not good at colouring. Help me…”

My heart broke a little when those words came out of her little mouth. I told her to just give it her best shot, try harder and not give up. On our way home, I reminded her of the times when she didn’t do too well in a certain task, but she tried over and over again; and got better as time went by. She nodded and then we repeated our little cheer to “Never Give Up!”

Perhaps this is my motto to live by too.. to never give up, to keep trying and soldier on.