Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Maple-coated Coconut Crisps

Chinese New Year (CNY) is fast approaching and that means it's time for feasting and snacking again! There are many meanings attached to the different types of food that Chinese eat during CNY and sweets or sugary snacks are common features in every household we visit because they signify having a sweet life in the new year.

This is where my "headache" begins because I'm not fond of having my children eat food/snacks that contain a lot of sugar, salt or preservatives and most goodies belong to this category. So this year, I've decided to make a healthy snack pack for them to bring along during our CNY visits so that they can snack healthily.

This Maple-coated Coconut Crisps would be one of the items in their snack pack. I first saw this snack introduced by a friend of mine who's a vegan. However I felt the price was more than I was willing to pay so I decided to search for a similar recipe online and found this, which, I have adapted from. Try it, you may prefer it to your favourite popcorn!

Maple-coated Coconut Crisps

by Felicia Tan
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15-20 min
Keywords: gluten-free vegan coconut maple syrup
Ingredients
  • 6 cups coconut flakes* or the whole package (approximately 200 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup*
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt (Start with less and add more if needed.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 150℃.
  2. Mix all the ingredients. Make sure all the coconut is evenly coated with maple syrup and sea salt.
  3. Spread the coconut mixture on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it turns light brown. Remember to stir the mixture every 5 minutes so that it will be evenly brown and crisp.
  4. Cool and store in an airtight container if you can wait to have it!

Variations:
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for a Cinnamon Roll flavour.
  • Add zest of 1 orange or lemon for a citrus zing.
  • Add a dash of cayenne pepper for some spicy kick!
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*Affiliate links are provided for your convenience and if you make a purchase through them, I get a small commission but at no cost to you at all.

Monday, 9 February 2015

"Oh, just going for a lunch date with Wong Li Lin."

"So I proceed to go by the Google map way?"

"Yes, uncle. Please go ahead. I'm in a rush because I'm late for an appointment."

"Sounds like an important appointment."

"Hmm... oh, just going for a lunch date with Wong Li Lin."

I was trying to sound as nonchalant as I could because it's not cool to appear startstruck, right?

"Wong Li Lin? I really like her!"

In actual fact, me too! I was rushing from Jacob Ballas Children's Garden to De Dietrich Kitchen for a lunch date with Wong Li Lin! Because I won an Instagram(IG) contest jointly organised by her and De Dietrich Asia! (So much for not being startstruck, I used three exclamation marks in a row! Now that makes four.)



I've been following IG accounts with photos of healthy meals to get inspiration, recipes and ideas on nutritious meals to prepare for my family. One day I chanced upon a Li Lin's 3-ingredient cookie and that's was how I "found her". Truth be told, as I was scrolling through her IG feed, I was ogling at two things - the food photos and her hot bod!


Fast forward to last Saturday, I arrived at De Dietrich Kitchen with excitement to see her in real life and of course, to taste the lunch she's specially prepared for ME. And fourteen other winners, two of them I know through blogging (Lynn and Jenn). 

As I arrived late I tried to "blend in" quietly, watching Li Lin work her Domestic Goddess-ness over the pristine, high tech induction stove. As I watched her, my mind was full of, "Wah seh, cooking can also look so glamourous meh?" and "Above 40 and no lines to be seen yet!" My inner monologue was soon disrupted by the sounds of clanging crockery and cutlery as Li Lin sliced the tender beef cheeks and plated for all of us. The dish of slow-cooked beef cheek, polenta and mushroom was delicious to say the least! Although I have drastically cut down on my consumption of meat, especially red meat, I was happy to clean everything off my plate!


The leisure afternoon luncheon was peppered with questions from Li Lin (she wanted to know more about what we would like to see on her social media accounts) and questions from us about her professional and family life and fitness. It was such a relaxing event because Li Lin had no airs about her and she was candid in her responses, with guffaws at times and playful expressions at others.

What I gleaned from her was her positive outlook in life in all circumstances; she learnt that as long as she could accept that things are just different from how she would like them to be and not bad per se, she can feel happier. I thought that's such a beneficial way for us to look at situations rather than wallowing at why it wasn't so or what it should/could have been.

Of course we each took the opportunity to have a photo or two taken with her for memento. For me this photo reminds me that ageing gracefully and beautifully is very possible with the right attitude! (Li Lin, you don't look old by any means! What I'm saying is... You know what I mean! :P)


So, if you are into happy and healthy living, fitness and eating clean, you should check out her IG account.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Homeschooling can be a Double-edged Sword

I've not posted much about homeschooling lately because honestly, we're still feeling around and trying to stick to a schedule. It has been a month since Princess started "formal homeschooling", as in homeschooling at Primary level and I must say it wasn't a rosy picture at all. Don't get me wrong; we have our good and fun days but there are real challenges along the way.

In this one month, I've come to realise that most of the positives of homeschooling has another side to it, hence it's like a double-edged sword .

Here are a few benefits of homeschooling that have become challenges for me:

  1. Our family has the freedom to make most decisions regarding education, friends and lifestyle.

    My days are filled with decision-making now! From the moment I opened my eyes, decision-making starts.

    "What shall I prepare for breakfast?"

    "Breakfast took much longer than expected. Should we skip reading-aloud and delve straight into lesson proper?"

    "Princess is coughing and having a runny nose. Should we carry on with the co-op meeting or should I pull out at the last minute."

    "Arrgh... the children did not lay newspapers on the floor before doing art despite reminders and the floor is badly stained now! Does this warrant a punishment?"

    "Mummy, what should I wear?"



    It's one decision to be made after another and sometimes I just want to say, "I don't know!" I can't help but think that simply by virtue of being with my children almost all the time, I have to make more decisions than a parent who has a child in school for half of his waking hours. Sometimes I ask myself, "Why did I sign up for this?"

  2. We can choose the kind of influence our children are exposed to.

    This means we get to guide them in choosing their friends. As a homeschooling parent of two young children, it's also my responsibility to arrange play dates and other opportunities for them to socialise and form steady friendships. This means I need to get out of my comfort zone and proactively engage other parents even when I'm not usually the most sociable around. I'm the kind that would stick to a familiar few at a party and not mingle freely. (I don't mean I'm unfriendly but I realised that since I've become a stay-at-home mum, I appreciate the beauty and quietness of being alone more and more, probably due to my children's incessant questions and chatter!)

  3. We are free to choose our homeschool curriculum and adjust the teaching methods to suit the learning styles of our children.

    You know the phrase "distracted by shiny objects"? It applies to curriculum, activities, crafts and anything you can think of! There are so many resources and ideas out there that it takes a lot of discipline to stick to what has been planned. Of course some flexibility and fluidity is good (after all this is one main benefit of homeschooling) but too much of it and it backfires, at least for us. 

    "Mum, may I please join the craft co-op?"

    "Play date at KidsSTOP™? Sounds great! But we only have one full day at home this week."

    Classical Conversations? A.C.E Curriculum? Singapore Math or Math-U-See?



    There is really no lack of things to do or learn especially if you are plugged into the very vibrant and resourceful homeschooling community;
     there are so many interesting co-ops to join and fun activities to go to, so it takes sheer willpower (and some planning) not to overcommit.

  4. Our children are free to take part in any extra-curriculum activities under the sun!

    Yes, they are pretty much free to do any sport or take up any course or hobby they like. However the cost involved is usually higher than signing up for a Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) in a mainstream Primary school. Many activities are heavily-subsidised in school but homeschoolers have to pay a higher fee most of the time. It also takes a lot more effort to have children participate in team sports or groups like the brass band or cheerleading team.


  5. It gives us more opportunities for one-on-one interaction and thus would help us build a more meaningful parent-child relationship.



    More opportunities sometimes become too many opportunities! I love my children to the moon and back and I truly enjoy having conversations with them, BUT
    I do need my mid-day break and sometimes they are so enthusiastic about their quiet time activity that they can't be quiet and are bursting to share the activity with me. The huge amount of time we spend together certainly contributes to our strong parent-child relationship but I'll be honest and say it here that there were occasions when I dreamt about having a whole morning free for me to enjoy a cup of aromatic freshly brewed coffee and a good book in hand or time for me to string some beads, after my children go to school. *Gasp!* Did I just write that?
I hope this post did not put you off homeschooling your child if you are exploring the option. It's not meant to "scare" you, neither does it speak of any regret on my part; it's simply to shed some light on the reality of things for some of us homeschooling mums. That said, I would still make the same decision all over again because the good stuff you hear about homeschooling are just as true!


What do you find most challenging about homeschooling? How do you overcome that?

Monday, 26 January 2015

5 Things I Will Do Differently in 2015

I know the first month of 2015 is coming to an end soon but it's never too late to decide to make positive changes, right? So when Rachel of Catch Forty Winks started this blog train I thought it'll be a good opportunity for me to draft a resolution list of sort. Penning or rather typing it down also serves as a reminder and reference for me when clutter gets in the way. (Which is often by the way!)

Here is my list of 5 things I will do differently this year:


1. Get in touch with God.

I've taken The Most High for granted. After all He did say He will never leave me nor forsake me, no? Yes but the sad thing is I have forsaken him. Just like how the best of friends or couples would stray from each other if little or no effort is made to keep the relationship going, the same goes for one's relationship with God. It's unfair for one party to have to chase the other all the time. So this year I would play my part; I would make effort to meet and stay in touch with Him.



2. Consistently set aside time to pak-tor (date) with my husband.

"I don't think I want to disturb my mum today."

"The children didn't take their afternoon nap today. I don't think we can go out because I need to put them to bed early."

"I'm too tired."

"There's still a lot of housework to be done."

I'm guilty of all those reasons/excuses and more. I admit I've been putting my husband at the back seat, so much so that he showed "jealousy" and said, "You always hug your son, yang-orh (show affection) with your son but I don't see you come and hug me at the door when I come home from work." Oops. I think he wasn't joking.


This year I will yang-orh my husband more and pak-tor with my husband more. I promise.


3. Return to my love and get some creative juices flowing.

I used to be crazy about beading and jewellery making but I stopped after I gave birth to Princess. As there are a lot of small parts and sharp tools needed for beading and wire work, I decided to shelf everything for fear of my then little one choking on the small parts (as everything she got hold of went straight to her mouth). Now that both my children are older and know better than to mistake beads for Cheerios, I thought it's a good time to indulge in my hobby once again. Consistently seeing the beautiful and exquisite works from Adeline of Adeline's Loft also makes my hands itchy!



4. Exercise more.

This is something I've decided to do for myself this year. I can feel and see my tummy growing even though I'm not pregnant with number three. Hence I thought I should really buck up and do a bit more for my health and overall well-being. I crave for the energetic feel after a gym session or swim and this feeling, I will not get from watching exercise videos on youtube no matter how motivated I feel after that!


5. Sleep earlier.

The benefits of an earlier bedtime is obvious but somehow I just couldn't or didn't sleep as early as I should. What happens each day is that I would wait till my children go to bed before I do the bulk of my housework or have some me-time. I think I would try to adjust my schedule so that I can go to bed earlier by an hour at least.


So there, I've said it. If you are following Princess and The Rock on Facebook, G+ or Instagram. Do help me by checking in and remind me of these great 5s!

new button

Next on the 15/5 Things I will Do Differently in 2015 Blog Train will be Ruth of ruthsong.com.


Ruth started out in life, extremely shy and incredibly reserved. If there were ever a prize to be won for the Best Wallflower, she’d win it. Then, while working at a dead-end job and wondering about the meaning of life, she discovered she had a voice and hasn't stopped talking since. She now blogs about healthy living and family at her blog, Running on Full.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Courtship Dance

Princess: Mummy, I need your phone. I need to call daddy.
Me: OK, it's on the table there.
Princess: (Picks up the phone and called daddy using the speed dial function) Daddy, how did you attract mummy?

Guess what daddy's reply was?

"Me? Oh! It was mummy who was eyeing me ever since we were staying at Whampao/Balestier area." Before he could indulge further in his fantasy, I stopped him and asked him to give a more straightforward answer to illustrate what courtship is because in the afternoon Princess watched this:




**For a shorter version of the Mating Dance of the Birds of Paradise, watch this.

And she couldn't quite understand why the male birds had to show off their plumage and put up a magnificent "dance performance" to woo their female counterparts. On a side note, Princess was pretty offended that only the male birds possess such extravagant beauty and the females, on the other hand, are not such lookers!

The conversation on courtship did not end with the short telephone conversation because after work daddy took the opportunity to have a father-and-daughter discussion about choosing her lifelong partner. This time daddy took a more serious stance and talked about qualities he "displayed" to court (in bird language, so to speak :P) me. Of course he reiterated the importance of looking beyond the external display of charm, instead to seek a man after her own heart (and of course, after God's own heart too).

I thought I have at least a few more years to prepare for this but things are moving along faster than expected! My friend captioned a photo of her adorable three year old daughter as "My three-nager" and I totally get what she meant!


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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Little at a Time

This is my first post for 2015 and I know it's pretty late. It's been busy, busy and more busy for me with major de-cluttering and new schedules etc. I'm glad to report, however, that I've started 2015 on a positive note. :)

I've given up on resolution lists but I did resolve to do one thing different this year, that is to intentionally take care of my own needs and so far I think I did pretty well!

Firstly I decided to sign up for hot yoga class after a little encouragement from Alicia of Beanie N Us. I've been trying to exercise on my own using low-cost methods (i.e. workout at home) but it wasn't too successful as it was too easy for me to "lazy out" (if there's such a term) so I decided to step out of my comfort zone figuratively and literally, because the room temperature was 38℃ to 40℃! After the first session, I came to a full realisation of how inflexible and weak I have become, so needless to say I was more motivated to exercise regularly.

self care

The other thing I did for myself was to read. Yes, read! Sounds funny, doesn't it? What do you mean read? I mean picking out books to read for leisure and not for research on homeschool resources, healthy recipes for family or world news. I mean reading for entertainment's sake kind of reading, be it funny fiction novels or how-to books on fashion drawing or washboard-tummy-exercises. It suddenly dawned on me how far I've drifted from one of my favourite hobbies - reading, when I tried to look for a novel to buy and read at a recent book fair. Within a matter of minutes I picked out about 15 books for my children (at greatly discounted prices) but I had so much difficulty choosing one novel for myself. I'm so glad I started though, because this reacquaintance with leisure reading seemed to have reignited some part of me that was "dead" for a long time; I can't put my finger to what it is but I know it's now alive.

So yes, these are not great things I've accomplished but they are enough for me, at least for now. This year, I'm going to rediscover more about myself and do a little more for myself, a little at a time.

What would you like to do for yourself this year?


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Monday, 6 October 2014

Coffee. Craft. Cooking. Collaborations (C4)

Last Saturday morning, Princess and I spent a fruitful morning doing the above - making coffee, crafting and cooking. The main participant was Princess and I was her assistant. This class was birthed by the talented duo - Christopher and Autumn. They are two unassuming persons who in fact have multiple skills and talents under their belt.

The class started with apron design. We were shown how to make stencils and create designs on our aprons from the stencils and acrylic paint. For this project, Princess came up with the design but I helped her with the cutting as she wasn't confident with a pen knife yet. The rest of the work was mainly done by her while I assisted her by holding the stencil in place or pointing out spaces where she left out colouring. It was a fun and gratifying project as the result could be enjoyed almost immediately, in fact, Princess wore the apron she designed throughout the rest of the class!

Proud owner of her personalised hand-painted apron!

The next thing we learnt was coffee-making. For this part, other than the 1:10 coffee to water ratio that I remembered, the other thing that stuck to my head was 'irreverence'. Irreverence not in a negative way but more of thinking-out-of-the-box kind of way. Making your cup of atas Arabica beans coffee with kopi sock? Why not? How about according your humble maize-butter-sugar-roasted kopi beans some royalty treatment and making a single serve portion in a french coffee press? That's exactly what we did in the class.

Very carefully measuring out the amount of coffee powder.

Learning how to make a deconstructed tiramisu dessert was the final portion of the class. Honestly, I'm not familiar with deconstructed food or those molecular gastronomy thingamajig, so it was quite an eye-opener for me. I've made tiramisu once and I thought it was decent, if I may say. However, my impression of tiramisu is that it's a rustic dessert, something like a trifle with premium ingredients. This session, instead of layering the different components of this dessert in the traditional manner, we learnt to plate it in an almost french fine dining kind of way. Each component has it's own rightful place yet they compliment one another perfectly. Few things I learnt from this plating exercise:

  1. Choose a plate that is bigger than your face.
  2. The actual food item must take up no more than 1/3 of the plate.


  3. Don't be afraid to use non-traditional kitchen utensils, e.g. paintbrush.


  4. Symmetry is passé. Just like fashion, senget (Malay for "slanted" or "crooked") is in.
  5. Height is important. A dish with some height looks more appealing and 3D.

  6. Princess' virgin (in all sense of the word; first attempt and sans alcohol) tiramisu.

  7. The last but most important point is PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. Experiment.
She got the technique of beating egg whites really quickly.
I thought the only way to make meringue is to beat the
living daylights out of those egg whites but I was wrong! 

Please do note that the above points are my interpretation and I think I'm pretty close. Go for the next instalment if you don't believe me! :P

I've got the recipe of the tiramisu below if you want try it out. It's the kind of thing that is totally instagram-worthy if you get what I mean.

C4 Class Recipe (by Christopher Leow)
Cuisine: Italian
Name: Tiramisu
Yields:  10 portions
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 60 mins

Component A: Sponge Fingers
Qty Ingredients
3 Egg whites
3 Egg yolks
60g Plain flour
2 Tbsp Icing sugar

Steps
Whisk egg whites and icing sugar till it forms soft peaks of a meringue.
Whisk egg yolks seperately till it is pale and creamy.
Combine the whites and flour to the yolks.
Spread a thin layer of batter on a warm pan/ microwave 30s/ bake at 140deg C till brown.

Component B: Mascarpone Cream
Qty Ingredients
4 Egg whites
4 Egg yolks
500g Mascarpone cream
50g Icing sugar (Split into 2 equal portions)
40ml Coffee liquor

Steps
Whisk egg whites and half icing sugar till it forms soft peaks of a meringue.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar over a Bain Marie till pale and creamy. Fold in the mascapone,
Fold in the meringue to the yolks mixture. Leave to chill.

Component C: Coffee reduction
Qty Ingredients
60g Ground coffee
300g Water
20g Glucose

Steps
Brew the ground coffee and water in a french press.
Strain out the liquid, and bring to a boil and reduce till it thickens.

Component D: Cocoa Tuile
Qty Ingredients
4 Tbsp Unsalted butter
100g Sugar
20g Cocoa powder
2 Egg whites
A pinch Salt
1.5 Tbsp Plain flour

Steps
Preheat the oven to 175′C. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Whisk in the egg whites.
Add the flour and whisk only until combined. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Use a spatula and spread a flat, thin layer.
Bake for 2-4 mins, and leave to cool.

Component E: Garnish
Qty Ingredients
As needed Cocoa powder
1 tbsp Coffee Beans
Steps
Crush the coffee beans so that aromas are released.

Assembly:
Prepare a bowl of coffee liquor for dipping.
Dip both sides of the fingers into the liquor. Arrange neatly on a tray.
Layer the fingers with a thin layer of mascapone cream.
Pipe the mascarpone cream over.
Dust the top with a layer of cocoa powder.
Using a squeeze bottle, dot the coffee reduction on the plate.
Stick in a few pieces of the cocoa tuile.
Garnish with the coffee beans at one spot.


Do you see the glow above the crown of the "Appointed One"? 

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