Friday, August 08, 2014

Baby Food Recipe: Sweet Potato Puree

The Sweet Potato Puree is the 2nd vegetable I introduced to Maple. It comes highly recommended everywhere on the internet as another no-brainer baby food for beginners (beginner baby & beginner mums). Another plentiful, easy to cook, cheap, delicious, nutritious baby food. Basically, Maple devours everything whenever we serve this.


Sweet Potato Puree

Ingredients
1 sweet potato

Method
1. When steaming, follow same method as carrot puree. It should look something like this

2. Things get a bit trickier at the blending stage. You will need to blend, add water, blend, add water, blend, add water... until the consistency of the puree is smoooth enough. This is especially the case if you try to blend a large sweet potato like I did. Somehow the larger pieces on top can't sink to the bottom to be blended until I add enough water. Otherwise, it ends up in a gluey mess. So remember to add enough water to make it a smooth paste. 

Freezing
I bought a large sweet potato this time round, managed to make about 18 cubes. 

Important things to note
Do note that it is normal for the sweet potatoes to change their colour from light yellow to light green after it's been blended. I think it has something to do with oxidation but I was too lazy to look it up. No worries, they are safe and delicious to eat still. 

I've also realised that there are actually many types of sweet potatoes available in the market. I bought the purple skinned japanese sweet potatoes with yellow flesh from vietnam (available in ntuc) and they turned out to be really yummy and delicious. Might try the orange fleshed ones sometime soon. Or might stick with the yellow fleshed ones since already tried and tested to work with Maple.. :)

Baby Food Recipe: Carrot Puree

Right, the first solids Maple took are carrots. Carrots, plentiful and cheap in Singapore, is a no-brainer when it comes to baby food. It is sweet, nutritious and there is hardly any chance you will fail at this dish. Unless you are Debbie..

Yeah, i massively failed at carrot puree the first time round. Of all the cooking methods in the world, I chose to microwave the carrot cubes that are supposed to be turned into carrot puree for Hazel.. End up, they became cooked carrot cubes with tough skin, pretty much like the skin that formed on fried fishballs, just that they are carrots instead. Rubbery ones at it.

And so my little Hazel never had carrot puree after that nightmare, all her carrots went into rice porridge. Luckily for Maple, her dad approved the purchase of the Avent steamer blender, and so we are here today. :)



Carrot Puree

Ingredients
2 short and fat carrots

Method
1. Chop them up into 1cm cubes.

2. Put them into the blender. (Bleah, yes told you it's a no-brainer.)

3. Pour 150ml of water into the steamer and turn it on.

4. When the light goes off, turn it over and  blend it.


Important things to note
Choose fresh and fat carrots. Try to get those with green tops if possible. I read somewhere on the internet that the sugars in the carrots are in the core, so the fatter the carrot, the sweeter it is. This is tried and tested. I've made 3 batches of carrot puree so far and the fat ones really turn out to be super sweet. :)

Freezing
This recipe makes about 12 cubes of carrot puree.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Project I want to eat Meimei

The I want to eat Meimei project started off rather innocently on the day we celebrated Maple turning 4 months of age. It was a simple celebration where we cooked some simple fare to pray to the gods with for good health and longevity for Maple. Then Hazel decided that she wants me to take some pictures of her hugging Maple and one of them turned out like this..


As I snapped that photo, Alex was asking her.. "Eh why you open your mouth so big, you want to eat Meimei is it??" Then the day carried on as usual.. The drama only started at nightfall when Alex also decided that he want to eat Meimei when she was fast asleep.. So I took a photo for him and it turned out like this..


The next day, Ah Gong & Ah Zo decided that they want to join in the fun as well.. So, we had this..


Apparently, Maple is like Tang 3 Zang with everyone wanting a bite of her. And she seems to be quite a big T3Z because 4 persons is not quite enough to finish her off. And so Ah Ma & Mummy tried to munch her as well..


Alas, at this stage, Gugu & Ah Pek have no choice but to be forced into the grand scheme of eating Meimei. And we finally have our grand deliverable of Project I want to eat Meimei as below.. :)


Hello Kitty Land (2 of 2)

It's been a month since I published Hello Kitty Land 1 of 2, I figured it's time to work on 2 of 2. June had been a super busy month for me because Alex was on a work trip for the whole month. So while I can say I have simply been too busy to blog given that almost all my time is used to take care of the kids & work, but somehow I had the time to do up the kids' room (with the help of my siblings and which I will blog about in due time of course).

Anyway, back to Hello Kitty Land. So we decorated cookies in the last post. After the cookie station, it's on to the handicraft section. This is a place where you had to painstakingly put small little plastic rings onto a board that looks abit like a circuit board until they look like Hello Kitty. I was quite enthusiastic about it for a while until Hazel decided that she wants to pick off rings from my board when I was halfway through.


The chivalrous Papa then saved the day by offering to complete all 3 circuit boards!! I love you Papa! :D But then, although it was a really loving thing to do, but watching him put little rings on circuit board proved to be too boring for me and Hazel (who was by now running around the room). And thus, I decided to bring her out for another walk around Hello Kitty Land.


We spotted this stage earlier when we first came in. It looked really nice but well, there was no one on it, no one around it, no one there at all. So we didn't really bother much about it. However, it looked very different after we came out of the handicraft room. Turned out there is a scheduled music and dance show at 11am that day, hence the front of the stage was totally crowded with kids and parents. We managed to get an area to sit on in front of the stage by elbowing other kids out of the way. JUST KIDDING! It WAS crowded but there are still pockets of space here and there, it was at one of those pockets that we camped at. :)


There she is! The show is in 2 parts. Hello Kitty came in and did a short skit in her "house" and then started singing and dancing around. Hazel looked like she liked it a lot but was a bit confused on what's going on with Hello Kitty talking on stage. Then the second part started with Dear Daniel and co joining in a mass dance item. The song was pretty catchy and soon all the kids including Hazel were on their feet singing and dancing together like the kids in the Hi 5 show. I managed to get a mugshot of how entranced she is with the show. She didn't really like me taking photos of her at this point in her life. But she was so absorbed in it that she didn't realised I took almost a hundred pictures.. Hehe..


After this, we spotted My Melody, Hello Kitty & Dear Daniel coming out for photograph sessions with the visitors. Apparently this is a huge cash cow for the theme park. They have photography sessions and also roaming photographers who try to take as many photographs for you as possible. The photographs starts from RM 25 for 1 piece and goes up to a few hundred ringgits for various packages. I couldn't resist and bought a family portrait of Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel with the 3 of us smiling into the camera. I shall keep it as evidence for Hazel that we brought her here when she was 2. :)


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. The chilvarous Papa missed the dance show because he was busy putting little rings on the Hello Kitty circuit board. He didn't felt he missed anything though since he's not exactly a fan of the cat. And so we went on to the next activity station which allows you to play dress-up! Here we are: My Melody, Batz Batz Maru & our favourite little Hello Kitty! My little adorable cutie-pie looked totally cute in her big almost-falling-off Hello Kitty headgear. She kept trying to hold it up which got plenty of giggles from us. And I think she found the sight of us all dressed up in the costumes quite funny as well, kept peeking at us and laughing away. Hahaha. :)


It's then time for our lunch break. We had lunch at Lat's Place which was part of the tour package. The food was kinda average and I was also busy expressing milk in the restaurant for Baby Maple, so we didn't take any photographs of the food or the place. Anyway, it was a chop chop affair as we were keen to go back and explore the rest of the non-Hello Kitty areas of the theme park. 

The non-Hello Kitty area of the theme park is called The Little Big Club. Honestly, I'm not impressed even though it took up 2 out of the 3 floors for the theme park. The Hello Kitty Land part is located on level 2 and seems more engaging. The Little Big Club is spread across level 3 and 4. They have some rides which is a bit out of Hazel's age range like a flying bus and rotating planes (she will probably enjoy them in a year or 2's time). However, they do have a couple of indoor playground areas which Hazel enjoyed immensely. Check out the photos below, they are evidence that most of the time Alex is the one climbing around with her. :)


And oh, just before we left The Little Big Club, we spotted this ballerina stage next to the exit. It is modelled after a cartoon where they have mouse ballerinas. So all the kids get to dress up in tutus and mouse-ear hairbands and then get to skip and dance around with tiny wands. At this point, I can tell that Hazel is super tired from her face. She is really interested in dancing around with the other little girls, but a whole day of activity with no nap in between is taking a toil on her. And thus, there was very little protest from her when eventually it is time to leave for home.


We took a short walk around the area while waiting for the other members of the tour group to gather. The surroundings are really nice and peaceful. The building hosting the theme park is just next to Traders' hotel which is operated by Shangri-La. I did think that if we could bring Maple, it will actually make a nice staycation to roam the theme parks for the day then retire to the hotel for the night instead of rushing back home in the evening. But that will have to wait for the next time. :)



The obligatory family selfie before we headed for home. Smile everyone! Till the next outing.. :)

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Philips Avent Combined Steamer & Blender

Baby Maple is 5.5 months old and I think she is ready for solids from the way she's been eyeing our food recently. So, thanks to Jace's recommendation and all the fabulous reviews I've read online and my beloved husband's approval, I went hunting and found the best bargain for the Philips Avent Combined Steamer & Blender at OG Chinatown. 


I had initially wanted to get it at Mothercare where they are selling the bundle deal for $199. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for me, I didn't have enough time to go to Vivocity or Plaza Singapura on the day I wanted to get it. So Jace and I walked to the nearest departmental store near our workplace and found the deal of the century. 



This is the standard package available at the moment. Machine + Cups with lids + Cutlery set + Sippy cup + Hankies set = $199. There is no discount on this bundle if you get it from Mothercare. OG gave me a $20 voucher & a Philips toaster oven worth $59.90 with the set. Needless to say, I bought it straight away. :)

And so, I decided to try out the Philips Avent combined steamer and blender today with the easiest possible recipe I can think of: Carrot Purée. Now, it is not the first time I made carrot purée. I first tried it 2 years ago when Hazel started solids and it was a total disaster. The not-a-natural-at-cooking me chose the microwave method of cooking the carrots. The carrots came out tough and chewy, and so they went into the bin. After that episode, Hazel only ate carrots as part of her porridge cos her mum never dared to try carrot purée again.

What can I say? The carrot purée turned out perfect this time! Sorry I forgot to take pictures though. I wasn't expecting this but the steamer blender really turned out super easy to use like what Jace said. All I did was to peel and cut the carrots into small 1cm cubes (took me about 2 minutes), then put them in (5 seconds), pour 150ml of water into the water tank with the provided container (5 seconds) and turned the knob to the left to start the steaming. 

We are supposed to steam carrots for 15 minutes but you don't have to configure this on the machine. All you need to do is to pour 150ml of water and the machine will stop steaming automatically when the water has been completely boiled off. 15 minutes of steaming = add 150ml. 5 minutes of steaming = add 50ml. Get it? This is the type of user friendliness that mobile developers dream of! :)

And so, I started the steaming then went to play with Hazel. Yes, you don't need to watch the fire or monitor it. It will shut off the heat automatically once the water had boiled off. But of course as I am a first timer, I kept on walking back to the kitchen to check on how the carrots are faring. The only thing I can say is, they turned out beautiful. Nice, bright, soft with a beautiful hue of orange goodness. 




Then the only other thing I had to do is to turn the container upside down and turn the knob to the right to blend the carrots. Absolutely brilliant. It is like the baby food maker version of the iPhone. Only 1 knob to operate and hardly any way for even a beginner like me to go wrong. The puree turned out perfect and Maple loves it to the point of crying out with tears flowing when she thought I wasn't going to give her any more of the puree. Ok, to be fair to her, maybe she just likes the feeling of eating something different after an exclusive diet of milk for her entire life. :P


I got a feeling I'm going to be playing with it every night from now onwards. :)

Sorry no pictures of the carrot puree, but I'll make it a point to post my recipes for the Philips Avent Combined Steamer and Blender and hopefully with more pictures to come. :)


*Disclaimer: This is not an advertorial. I had to pay for the machine and the carrots. :)

*And special thanks to www.essentialbaby.com.au & shoppingcentreonline.co.uk for use of their beautifully-taken images. 

Monday, June 02, 2014

Hello Kitty Land trip (1 of 2)

We have been toying with the idea of bringing Hazel to Hello Kitty Land ever since she started to display that totally inexplainable affection for Hello Kitty since a year ago (one of her first words was in fact Kitty). And so around the begining of May, we planned for Hazel's very first overseas trip to the land of Hello Kitty in mid-May. 

Call it fate or coincidence, just a couple of days before we were due to go, Hazel brought home a letter from her daycare Tenderkids saying that they are organising a trip to Hello Kitty land in 2 weeks time at a special price of only $70 per head ($65 if you are students/parents of students). The entry fee for both Hello Kitty land and the Little Big Club is already 110 MYR (about S$42) and the $65 charged includes both to-fro transport and a set lunch at Lat's place as well. With such a great deal, it goes without saying that we changed our minds on the spot to go with Tenderkids instead of by ourselves. :)

We departed at 8.30am from the daycare in a group of about 20 people. It was a pretty short journey and we reached the place after slightly more than an hour. Hello Kitty land and the Little Big Club are housed in a large building adjacent to the Traders' Hotel, at the picturesque Puteri Harbour. As we stepped in, we were greeted with Hello Kitty everywhere. She is at the entrance, at the ticketing booth, at the cafe, on the sandwiches, everywhere. 



I didn't believe it initially when people tell me that kids don't like to take pictures after the age of 2, but yes it really happened as you can see. In most of the pictures, it is virtually impossible to get Hazel to look into the camera. Or maybe she is just fascinated her favourite Hello Kitty that is plastered on every wall. 


Hazel and me at the Red Bow Cafe

Hazel and Alex with the Giant Hello Kitty mural

Hazel and me again at the entrance to Hello Kitty Land


The rotating teacup ride is the first ride we went on since it is right next to the entrance. Hazel is absolutely fascinated with the rotating teacup ride, given this is her first time at an amusement centre.We went on it at least 4-5 times, I only managed to get her away from it after promising her that we will come back soon. :)


Next we visited the Hello Kitty home. It was pretty crowded inside. Hazel was afraid of walking around by herself as there were so many people, so she got her private camel (aka her mummy) to carry her round mostly. However when we got to the bedroom area, she couldnt resist the giant Hello Kitty on the bed so I managed to get this photograph of her.


This is my dream wardrobe for their room! Dont you think it is so sweet? I am planning on converting a white cheapo cabinet into this pink gorgeous wardrobe. I am developing a secret weapon to attract her in coming home more frequently with me and the secret weapon is in having a lovely bedroom to come back to. Maybe I will post more about the journey to it subsequently. :)



After the walk around the Hello Kitty home, we went on to the activity area where we decorated some cookies. Yes Hazel loves cookies. Her first word is Bing Kan (Mandarin for biscuilt or cookie), so you can imagine her excitement in decorating the cookies then eating them. Of that 3 cookies in the centre picture, can you guess which ones are decorated by Hazel and which one is painstakingly nicely decorated by her dad? :)

This trip is organised by Moonie of Sishome. And no, it is not a sponsored trip, Hahaha. Moonie runs a travel agency that specialises in home stays and short trips to Malaysia. Call her at 82000082 or visit www.sishome.com.my for more details if you are interested. :)

Ok, there is more to come about Hello Kitty Land, i am just halfway through. See you in post 2 of 2. :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Discovery Debbie - Pigeons vs Doves

Did you know that pigeons == doves and doves == pigeons?? Neither did i..

Every now and then i will get an inspiration to goggle some random fact and the spark came to me in the form of "pigeon" yesterday. As in the bird, not the baby product brand. And so i fired up google and wiki to start the discovery trail.

It turned out that the wiki entries for pigeon and dove both redirect to the same article "Columbidae". This is a family of animals that consists of more than 300 species of birds that are commonly known as pigeons and doves. They all evolved from the same ancestors and are similar anatomically. Of these 300 over species, some of them are called something-pigeon and some are called something-dove, but its quite hard for the layman to figure out which is which if we are not bird enthusiasts.

Most people thinks that doves are white & prettier and pigeons are grey & uglier. Its actually not as simple as that.

This is a mourning dove(from http://www.aboywhocriedheron.com).

And this is a king pigeon(from www.hilltopfarmsny.com).

Generally the larger species are called pigeons and the smaller ones are called doves but yet again there is no specific cut-off threshold and yes some doves are bigger than some pigeons. :)

Amazingly, these birds produce milk (via their crops) to feed their young! Both females and males produce milk and share in the responsibility of keeping their squabs well-fed. They bob their heads up and down all the time to keep their vision constant. And did you also know that the most famous extinct bird in the world, the dodo, also belongs to the pigeon/dove family?

If you want to know more, Wiki has a pretty comprehensive entry on this family of birds which you can check out. 

~ Discovery Debbie ~ There is knowledge to be discovered everywhere when you bother to look for it. :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Use Case Preconditions Vs Assumptions

With regards to the previous post about Use Case writing, another question that case up is the Precondition vs Assumption issue. How exactly does a precondition differ from an assumption?

As defined in the previous post, preconditions describes the state of the system that must be true in order for the trigger to initiate the use case. These preconditions will be evaluated by the system when the trigger event occurs. If the system is not in the state as described by the preconditions, the use case will not be initiated.

In contrast, assumptions refer to things that are assumed to be true about the system (or another system) for the use case to function. They will not be evaluated by the system under any circumstance.

The differences between a precondition & an assumption are as follows:

1. The precondition may be evaluated to a boolean state of being either True or False, whereas the assumption will always be True.
2. The precondition describes only the state of the system, whereas the assumption can refer to either the system or another system.
3. Preconditions are evaluated at run time to determine whether the use case will start, whereas assumptions are not evaluated by the system under any circumstances.
4. If a precondition is not met, the user will take a different path or execute a different use case. If an assumption is not met, this will mean the requirements of the system may need to be changed.

Special thanks to Wikipedia JBeatty from Seilevel Requirements Message Board for the information.

Hi, I am Debbie :)

Its been a long time since I last blogged or kept a journal. It just struck me that I should start keeping track on what's going on in my life and what I am learning everyday. Time seems to fly by so quickly when you get busy that we hardly have the spare capacity to take stock of everything that is happening. So this will serve as a journal to the learning journey in my life and hopefully help me become a more positive person in the meantime as I reflect on life and the events that take place everyday. :)

As a quick introduction, I am a mum to two beautiful cuties, a wife to the best husband in the world, and a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, etc etc to a really awesome and wonderful huge family (both direct and in-law). My day job is officially as a technical project manager and requires me to get my hands dirty in code at the same time. Ruby is completely new to me and honestly I'm pretty excited about going back to development at this point in my life. Maybe I will be able to develop some product that will make Alex & I very rich? It's a dream but nevertheless a very achievable dream, just requires effort and less sleep for it to happen.

Outside work, besides the time I spend with the family, I'm mostly surfing the net and playing games on the mobile. The current game I'm pre-occupied with is The Hobbits - Kingdom of Middle Earth or KOM for short. I am maintaining the website for my alliance, which is very new (both alliance and website are new), so there is not much content on it at the moment, but hopefully we will build something up.

I am aiming to type something on this blog everyday. I hope it will motivate me to do things differently and keep the learning drive alive and burning. Life is too short for us to go through everyday slogging like an ant. Or maybe it's just me, needing something different to feel alive and motivated. Let's see how things turn out. :)