Princess and The Rock

Parenting | Homeschooling | Food | Fashion

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes

Last Saturday I tasted the most fluffy and flavourful pancake from my own kitchen! I don't mean to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet but these babies were really good! Princess and The Rock couldn't get enough of them and that alone would be enough reason for me to make them more often.

How did I think of adding pumpkin to my regular pancake recipe? Well, I had homemade pumpkin puree resting in my fridge and I wanted to use it up before it's too late. Little did I know that the addition of pumpkin would enhance the taste of the humble pancake so much!

We served the pancake with pure maple syrup only as we are not fans of butter. For extra oomph, I added sliced bananas but you can use any fruit, in fact, the pancakes were good on their own (with the sweetness of pumpkin and brown sugar and the subtle cinnamon flavour)!

Ingredients (24 2.5" mini pancakes)

  • 1 1/4 cup flour (I used 3/4 cup plain and 1/2 cup whole wheat but you can use all plain)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (I used low fat but you can use any kind.)
  • 6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons (melted) coconut oil (You can use canola oil or any light-tasting oil)
  • 1 egg


  1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.

  2. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, coconut oil, and egg.

  3. Fold mixture into dry ingredients.

  4. Spray or grease a pan and heat over medium heat: pour in 1 tablespoon of batter for each mini pancake.

  5. Cook pancakes about 1 minute per side. (Turn pancakes over when the bottom is golden brown.)

  6. Serve with choice of fruit(s) and pure maple syrup or eat them plain!
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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Celery Printing and Celery Paintbrush

When I saw this Celery and Potato Stamping post, I was certain we're going to re-create a version of it because it looked so pretty!

So when I had some too-old-to-eat celery left in my fridge I knew exactly the thing to do with it.

All we needed were the heads of celery, some paint and paper. As we had only a head of celery, we made do with one and did what was suggested in the aforementioned post, i.e. to bundle a few celery sticks with a rubber band. It totally worked!

As we also had some leaves from the chrysanthemums that we used for the colouring flowers via transpiration experiment, we used them with the celery stamps.

The result was more than satisfactory. We thought it'd make a great gift wrapper as we used acrylic paint instead of washable ones.

We also found out that celery leaves made a good alternative for paint brushes too! Princess used it to create a "snow storm" effect!

We love these serendipitous results from our artistic exploration. :)

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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Palm Print Faces

We made these Palm Print Faces after the Cotton Bud Painting the other day. I did say we'd always end up with messy art, didn't I? Well, this palm printing is before it got to the really messy state but the children really wanted to get their hands heavily involved so I thought of doing something fun and easy like this!

What you need:
  • Non-toxic paint
  • Brushes (optional)
  • Paper (can be recycled)
  • Your palms!

What you need to do:
  1. Paint the faces onto your palm with a brush or finger.
  2. Press your palm onto the paper. Make sure you place your palm flat onto the paper surface so that the print would be well-formed.

  3. Display your artwork or cut them out, put cardboard backings behind and attach ice-cream sticks to make puppets like the Changing Faces Puppets we made earlier.

Why not paint the faces directly onto the paper? Well, getting your hands dirty and hand printing are always fun, no? :) Palm printing also mimics the familiar potato printing technique, except that there's no need to cut and carve. If you fancy a different design, simply wipe or wash off the paint on your palms and paint a new one!

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Apple Tree Collage (Made from Recyclables)

Apple Tree Collage

At the homeschool co-op meet-up yesterday, we made an apple tree collage from recyclables. I thought it was such a great idea to use different types of materials to create the collage; due to the different qualities of the materials used, the end result was a three dimensional-ish collage.

Materials needed:
  • 1 cereal box or any cardboard cut out from paper boxes (not smaller than a cereal box)
  • 1 cardboard roll
  • green fabric or green paper scraps
  • 1 angbao or red packet
  • glue
  • scissors
  • craft puncher with apple cutouts (optional)

  1. Open up the cereal box and cut out the front or the back of the box, i.e. the biggest side of the box.

  2. Cut the cardboard roll into halves, lengthwise.

  3. Glue the cardboard roll onto the cereal box cardboard to make the tree trunk. (See photo above)

  4. Cut the fabric or paper into smallish pieces. There is no hard and fast rule to the size.

  5. Apply glue to the area above the "tree trunk", scrunch each piece of fabric or paper and stick them onto the area with glue. Continue gluing and sticking the green fabric/paper until you are satisfied with how the canopy of the apple tree looks.

  6. Use a craft puncher to punch out red apples from the angbao or draw and cut apple or round shapes from the angbao. Apple glue and stick them randomly on the canopy of the tree.

  7. Apple tree collage is completed! You can display it or use it as a prop for storytelling!

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Friday, 21 March 2014

Cotton Bud Painting (Serendipitous Mummy - Child Art Collab.)

Today Princess and I did some painting with cotton buds. This activity may seem easy but it was a challenge for her, not the activity-is-too-difficult kind of challenge though, but a challenge of having to work within a restriction. I imposed only two rules: Only use dots AND no mixing of colours. If you know Princess, this way of doing art is really cramping her style! She's all about creativity and "freedom of brush", in other words, she's a freestyler.

Knowing her to be so, why did I still restrict her expressiveness in this art activity? Quite simply, I wanted her to practise listening and following instructions. So I thought why not let her work on the aforementioned skills with an activity that she enjoys?

It turned out she did really well, although she was really tempted to mix the colours at some point but I reminded her about the rule. She also made a few strokes instead of all dots but she primarily stuck to the rules of the game.

Here are her creations (with restriction imposed!):

Painting with cotton bud
Princess was meticulous in the beginning..

Painting with cotton bud
Do you notice the few this-is-too-slow-let's-make-longer-lines strokes?

Painting with cotton bud
Princess' second cotton bud painting

Of course I had to join in the fun. I had no image in mind and I simply dotted on my paper at random. The resulting art work looked like this:

Doesn't my "art work" just look like some random colourful dots? Now let me show you the synergic effects of mummy and child collaboration:

Can you see what we have created together? Yes, a tree! Unintentionally, Princess and I have managed to do a mummy-child art collaboration; my random dots became the canopy of a tree and part of Princess' art worked well as the tree trunk.

We discussed some learning points after the art session and they are:
  1. Something as simple as a dot can create a beautiful painting. So in life simplicity can be beautiful too, e.g. a simple birthday party can be as enjoyable as an elaborately planned one.

  2. Repetition or practice makes "perfect". The initial dots were irregular; some had too much paint and some were not round, but as she went on her dots looked better and better and she had more ideas of what she could do with just dots.

  3. Repetition may be boring but it creates good results (sometimes), just like the serendipitous mummy-child art work we created.

Did you think we really stopped at dots? Nah... of course we had to end off with messy art and there were other discoveries so stay tuned!

We also explored with a technique similar to this one and I call that "Printillism". Curious yet? Take a look here.

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Chewy Granola Cookies

In my attempt to eat healthy and provide my family with nutritious AND delicious food,  I've been scouring for recipes that are tasty, nutrition-packed and easy-to-prepare. Top of the list are some snack recipes for Princess and The Rock. I feel it's important to have some healthy snacks on standby all the time so that when they feel peckish in between meals, they can nibble on these instead of snacks like donuts or store-bought cookies that can be high in sugar and fat but low on nutritional value.

These Chewy Granola Cookies (adapted from Coconut + Oat Breakfast Cookie by Flax + Honey) fit the bill for a flavourful and nutritious snack. I call them Granola Cookies because they are made from wholesome ingredients like rolled oats, dried fruits and nuts, not unlike what you'll find in a granola bar. Of course a smattering of chocolate chips just increases the satisfaction, right? The original recipe has no added sugar at all but I decided to sweeten these babies with a tablespoonful of brown sugar to make them more acceptable to Princess and The Rock and my husband won't label them as "horse-feed"!

Chewy Granola Cookies

by Felicia Tan
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 12 min
Keywords: bake snack gluten-free rolled oats shredded coconut pecans macadamia nuts cookie

Ingredients (Approximately 30 cookies)
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free oats if necessary)
  • 1 cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1. Combine oats, almond flour, coconut, salt and cinnamon in large bowl.
2. Add dates, pecans, macadamia nuts and chocolate. Stir until combine, ensure dates are distributed evenly throughout and not clumped together.
3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla.
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.
5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or baking mat. Use an ice-cream scoop to get similar-sized cookie. Pack the ice-cream scoop with cookie mixture and "release" the mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie slightly. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
6. Bake in 180℃ oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.
7. Let cool before eating or storing them in an airtight container, if you can wait, that is!

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Sunday, 16 March 2014

Practical Tips for Healthy Eating

I've been thinking about my food choices and what I feed my family after I see how REAL people (like those in my homeschool co-op) eat REAL food. I've read about eating real food some time ago and I thought, "Wow, eating this way is really good for the body." And I stopped at the thought but didn't take any action to change my (and my family's) diet. It was not only until I met the people at the homeschool co-op that I realised eating healthy is possible AND enjoyable too!

I learnt practical ways to better our eating habits. At first, it was a bit daunting for me as The Rock is not a huge fan of vegetables and Princess is quite a picky eater but after some persistence and creativity, we managed to take some baby steps together. I'll share some ideas here:

healthy eating

Tips for Healthy Eating

  1. Include more vegetables in dishes that your children/family already like. E.g. Princess and The Rock love Korean rice cakes in soup, so I would double the portion of vegetables they usually consume and cut back on the commercially processed rice cake.

  2. Give fancy names to dishes that are usually not popular. E.g. The Rock would usually not eat asparagus but if they are called "Grilled Snakes", he would try some of them.

  3. Opt for whole-grain products if possible. E.g. Replace semolina pasta with whole-grain pasta, eat whole-grain bread instead of white bread.

  4. Encourage healthy snacking. I keep a pantry of dried fruits like unsweetened coconut flakes (Princess's favourite), dried dates, unsweetened dried mangos and dried raisins. These snacks not only provide the pepper-upper needed (due to the natural sugars), they are also great sources of fibre. Dried seaweed and nuts are also firm favourites in my family. (I get these snacks from, you can use code "RVD687" to get $10 off your first order of $40 or more OR $5 off your first order of less than $40.)

  5. Try steaming or roasting meat and vegetables instead of frying. They taste surprisingly good with the right (light) seasoning. The best potato dish I've tried was steamed sliced potato with olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper with shrimps; the natural sweetness of the ingredients just shone through! My mum's steamed chicken wings rivals any fried chicken wings. It must be her heady concoction of fresh ginger, garlic, chilli padi and fermented bean paste that she used as the marinade.

  6. If vegetables aren't your kids' thing, try putting them in soups. The Rock would not swallow even a tiny piece of pumpkin, whether steamed, grilled or stir-fried, but he would lap up a bowl of pumpkin soup any day.

  7. Introduce healthier dessert alternatives. Instead of a slice of cake laden with cane sugar and cream, give your children konnyaku jelly with fresh fruits instead.

  8. Use aromatics like garlic, ginger, vegetables and herbs to create flavour instead of depending on salt and sugar.

  9. Increase nutrients intake by consuming more whole foods instead of processed foods. Be concerned about the amount of nutrients your children/family takes in instead of the quantity of food. Knowing this 'rule' is liberating to me as I was almost obsessed with how much or rather how little Princess was eating. Now I'm happy with her eating enough fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and protein-rich meat even if she eats less in terms of quantity. In fact, it's better for her to eat half a portion of unpolished brown rice than a full portion of polished white rice and since she loves her green vegetables, she can fill herself up with that instead! The interesting thing I realised is that Princess' appetite has increased significantly since I made these subtle changes to our diet! 

  10. When eating out, avoid the children's menu as it is usually made up of unhealthy options like mac-and-cheese, fried chicken nuggets and fries. It is far better to have your children eat off an adult's plate of real meat and a side of steamed vegetables or a bowl of soba noodles and Teriyaki chicken or salmon.

As with any change, there's the usual challenge or two. I've got comments from my mum like "Don't make them into skinny children ah!" and "No noodles? But they love noodles!" This kind of remarks can be discouraging (especially when I thought this is a positive change) but I'll press on in our journey towards healthier eating and living!

I've tried making a few healthy snacks and dishes and some have been a hit with family and friends so stay tuned for these recipes in my future posts!

Useful links:
3. How Do You Eat Real Food?

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