Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

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!

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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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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Moment of Truth - I'm a full-time "M" now.

So what exactly is an "M"?

Mother? Yes but I've been a full-time mother for close to six years and not only now.

Mentor? Yes to that too. I would like to think that my children regard me as their mentor, as well as, the many other roles I play. But that's not what I'm referring to here.

The moment of truth was when I realised I'm a full-time size M now, i.e. I fit well into size M clothes all the time now, not sometimes, not once in a while. "What the big deal?" you may ask. It's a ginormous deal to me because I could eat five full meals and I remained at a frame of 1.63 metres tall and 48 kilogrammes, which fit into a size S or even XS at times. Now I eat "rabbit food" half the time and I'm "blossoming", if you get what I mean.

What made me feel worse was when I was preparing for the Bali trip (I'm writing this post on my final night in Bali.), I noticed that the way my swimwear fitted was way different from my Bali trip a year ago. Let's just put it this way; there are a lot more overhanging bits now, much more than I imagined possible. To make matters worse I've arranged for a very talented and inspiring friend of mine to come along with us to help take some family photos. I was even toying with the idea of bringing our wedding attires along just to have some fun "wedding" photographs of my husband and I and Princess and The Rock. However I am pretty sure my gown has no room for all the extra bits! To be honest I thought I would be  "invincible"; I would remain slim forever as I lost weight easily after both childbirths. Boy have I underestimated the power of aging and gravity!

I know I've written about how concerned I am about the influence of media on Princess' self-image here but alas I'm not spared from it too; I needed to feel slim and fit to feel good about myself. While I was feeling awful about myself, how I "let myself go" by not exercising much, not paying enough attention to my aging skin, not having had a proper tummy wrap after my childbirths etc., my children reminded me in the most special ways to love myself, flabby tummy, underarm ding-dangs and all. One day out of the blue Princess came and buried her head into my tummy and lovingly said, "You have piggy tummy! I love your piggy tummy because it reminds me of when you were pregnant!" and she genuinely meant it! I felt terrible at first when I heard "piggy" (of course I didn't show it) but I later thought it was pretty OK because she REALLY loves me and my piggy tummy. So what if I'm a size M? "M" simply means "MORE to love" to me now and "S" is short for "SO WHAT?" Haha! I don't deny there's an element of sour grapes. :P

Coincidentally the Rock further confirmed the fact that a woman with a little more to hold is cute! Watch this video and tell me who is your favourite girl?



Can you guess which is Rock's favourite? He chose the girl who appeared at 2:37 because she is so "cute and chubby" and the woman who's bald at 1:50 as "She's so pretty!". So the traditional idea of beauty with long luscious hair and slim build does not exist for a young child like Rock. If beauty and fashion editors see women in Rock's perspective, we would see a wider variety of beauty and fashion articles and models on the magazines at the newsstands!

Does this mean I'm completely satisfied with the way I am now? Not by a mile because I like to feel fit and energised and not lethargic and heavy but I'm not going to bemoan about the size of my clothes (although that means I can't fit into a lot of my old stuff) but get on with some sort of an exercise regime, as well as, eating healthy.

I think I may still fall into "I'm so fat" mode probably once every month due to bloating during that time of the month so do remind me "M" is "MORE to love" and help me snap out of it, will you? ;)

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

HeART Studio September Holiday Program (+Giveaway!)

Princess and the Rock brings you HeART Studio Giveaway again, this time for the upcoming September school holidays. As usual, the programme line-up is nothing short of interesting and the subjects are varied enough so there's sure to be something that captivates your child(ren).


We are really excited about the holiday programme this time because The Rock would be participating in the Little Masters programme too! (Actually Princess is always excited about going for her art class at HeART Studio and meeting her beloved Teacher Elma.)

The schedule is appended for your convenience below:


**Note : Due to popular request Sea Turtle would be changed to Ninja Turtle on Thursday 11th Sept 1.30pm.
There will be additional Olaf classes for 3-4 years old : 12th Sept 1.30pm with only 4 slots available.

Now the fun part is the giveaway, right?

HeART Studio has generously sponsored not one but three slots for the giveaway!

One slot is for the Dino Train canvas painting (30cm by 40cm)


Dino Train Canvas Painting
Value: $75
Date: 11 September 2014
Time: 1:30pm - 4:00pm

**Note: The child has to be at least 3 years old and above, based on the month and year of birth.

In this programme, the children will learn how to paint their all-time favourite characters in Dino Train, at the same time, they will also learn to blend colours and understand the colour values.

The other two slots are for the Gumball Machine canvas painting (40cm by 50cm).


Gumball Machine Canvas Painting
Value: $75
Date: 8 September 2014
Time: 10:00am - 12:30pm

**Note: The child has to be at least 5 years old and above, based on the month and year of birth.

In this programme your child would learn about contrasting and complimentary colours. This painting programme will open a window of experience for the student to try out canvas painting to the many different interesting subject matters that have been chosen for the class.

To take part, simply enter through Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions for the Giveaway:
  1. Entries that do not fulfil the requirements stated will be disqualified without notice.
  2. No repeat winners are allowed.
  3. Winners will be notified by email, through the email address provided.
  4. Winners must confirm by reply email or phone call, within three days. Otherwise, a new winner will be picked.
  5. No changing of date or time is allowed.
  6. No Existing Customers allowed.
  7. This giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Golden Curried Potatoes

Two days ago, I discovered that Bill's Kitchen was showing on BBC Lifestyle and I was salivating at his Indian Spiced Potatoes with Fried Egg. So I decided to make my own simpler version with the ingredients I have on hand. I've also made it as a roasted dish instead of cooking it over the stove simply because clean up would be easier! It turned out delicious nevertheless, in fact I think I prefer my crispier version. :P

As I wanted to make this dish kid-friendly, I omitted the chilli but if you like some kick, I think a finely diced red or green chilli, or even a sprinkle of cayenne pepper would do the job neatly. You can also use other types of potatoes, however, a waxy or creamy type would be more suitable than the floury type.

This savoury and fragrant Golden Curried Potatoes would be a good accompaniment to light-tasting grilled white fish or on its own, topped with a fried (or poached) egg as suggested by Bill.

Golden Curried Potatoes

by Felicia Tan
Keywords: roast side gluten-free potato curry powder

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 750 kg Nadine potatoes (You can get these from NTUC and 1 pack is 750g.)
  • 2 medium or 3 small onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (more or less)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • A generous pinch of Himalayan sea salt and black pepper
  • Chopped spring onions for garnish, if desired.
Instructions
  1. Scrub the potatoes if they are unwashed.
  2. Cut the potatoes into 1cm cubes.
  3. Dice the onions into 1cm cubes.
  4. Coat the potatoes and onions with the seasonings. I simply stirred everything together, making sure all the potatoes and onions are well-coated.
  5. Lay the seasoned potatoes and onions mixture on a baking sheet/tray, a single layer if possible, so that the edges of the potatoes would crisp a little.
  6. Roast the potatoes in a preheated oven at 180 degree celsius for 20-30 minutes. Check the doneness after 20 minutes. It is ready when the potatoes are golden and the edges are lightly crisped.
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