Monday, 30 March 2015

Thankful, We Are

There has been much on blogs, Facebook, news, social media regarding the death of Singapore's founding father Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his contributions.

I, however, did not know what to write.  Many a time, I shun the topic, trying not to talk too much about it as tears will swell up in my eyes everytime.

When I was a primary school kid, I had to take a bus from Jurong to Clementi every weekday.  Waking up at 5+am, taking the bus at about 6am, the skies were dark and the streets fairly empty.  If not for a safe Singapore, I doubt my parents will let me do this.  I still remember the times when I fell asleep and an uncle waking me up asking if I have reached my destination.  Or the time when I unknowingly leaned on an army guy's shoulder when I dozed off.  If... If Singapore has not been this safe, I believe my life would have ended up differently and I shudder to think of that. 

A year ago when I was on a business trip to the United States, a colleague asked why is it possible that I speak fluent English.  I was very proud (and still am) to say that we learnt English.  English is our first language.  I went on to mention that we learn our own Mother Tongue - Chinese for me.  She was amazed and amused because before she met me, she did not know what language Singaporeans know how to speak.  For this, I thank Mr. Lee for insisting that we be bilingual.  Not just that.  Because of the "regardless of race, language or religion", most of us know bits and pieces of Malay, Tamil and dialects  Where do you find people who can speak a mixture of English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, dialects all in a sentence?  That has got to be a Singaporean!

What has happened has happened.  I am overwhelmed by the gestures of the people in Singapore.  Speechless at this time but always proud to be a Singaporean.

With guidance from D's art teacher, he manage to draw and paint this, a painting that comes from the heart of a 6 year old boy. From telling me that he wants to pay his respects to telling me that he wants to draw something for Mr Lee Kuan Yew and give it to him, I'm thankful for the opportunity to nurture an appreciative boy. A fearless lion as I would like to call Mr Lee, always protecting the country, I believe his legacy will continue.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Why We Love Lego & A Giveaway!

I'm not too sure if you realise that my family likes Lego.  Maybe like is an understatement... it got to be LOVE!  :)

When I was young, I had a few Lego sets.  Lego sets then were expensive toys (they are no cheaper now).  I remember after building them according to the instructions, we (sister, cousins and I) will tear them apart and build what we like, most well-remembered will be open-roof houses with rooms and furniture, something like the interior views of showflats... those were the days...

We reacquainted with Lego in 2012 when they had a collaboration with Shell.  D, 2+ years old then, got into fixing the cars and since then, he got hooked!  And so did B!

Slowly, we began to understand why there are many Lego fans, both kids and adults, as we list down some of the reasons why it has to be one of the best toy ever... (but we do not only play with Lego bricks... we do play with other toys too!)

1. Durable

In a bid to find an assortment of loose bricks, I went to ask my Mummy where our old Lego sets were.  We found them with my cousins.  How lucky!  Collected them and gave them a good wash... Though no longer feeling as good, these bricks are still playable!

2. Educational

We like how D and E will look at the Lego boxes, front and back and ask questions about them.  Through Lego, they learn things like the different types of vehicles, occupations etc. (the different Lego City sets).  They imagine the Arctic to be cold, how a swamp is like and that fireman do not only operate fire trucks but there are things like aerial firefighting using fire helicopters. 

3. Development

Physical development in terms of gross motor skills, the need to hold the bricks and fix them together with the tiny hands and fingers.  Brain development in trying to decipher the instructions and fitting each brick correctly - D does not need to place the setup in the same direction / angle as the instruction as he goes through each step.

4. Creativity

It definitely encourages creativity!  The boys have so much fun making new things with Lego.  From a house to a vehicle, from an imaginary monster to a futuristic robot, they spend many hours making and breaking them.

As long as you are not "the Man Upstairs" from The Lego Movie, there is endless enjoyment and excitement with Lego bricks (Do not understand what I'm saying?  Please watch The Lego Movie!).

5. Great bonding toy

Since Lego appeals to both young and old, girl or boy, it is a toy that brings the family together.  From discussing which set to buy, to building it and then playing with it, the whole process is like a family activity.  Like what D says, it is "Ultra Agents Night" tonight and the whole family crowds round and role plays with the Ultra Agents series we have.  Laughter, some shouts and comments, maybe some cries (because the good lost or the bad lost) but it all ended with great fun and moments to remember.

This was a birthday present from B in 2013.  It may look simple but it isn't!  The flowers and trees, a fountain and a couple sitting on a bench - doesn't it look like parktor-ing (dating) times? :)  Kept in a display, my sitting-on-a-bench-whispering-sweet-nothing times are now frozen... *LOL*

To celebrate my birthday soooooooooon, and to welcome Spring because I love to see flowers blooming everywhere, B is generously sponsoring a Lego Springtime Scene set for a lucky winner!


Thank you for joining the giveaway.

To qualify for the giveaway, please:

1. Like ilovedefamily Facebook page

2. Like and Share the corresponding Facebook post.  Please ensure the privacy is set to PUBLIC for verification purposes.

3. Leave a comment on that same Facebook post to let me know you have completed the above-mentioned steps.  Please tag 3 friends too!

Giveaway ends 27 March 2015, 8pm.

Please note:
- Winner will be chosen at random.

 - Item is not exchangeable for cash.

- The giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

- Winner will be announced on blog, Facebook and notified by email.  Please respond within 48 hours, failing which, a new winner will be chosen.

 Good Luck! 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

March School Holidays? And a Quick Cod Recipe...

It's the March school holidays!  Yay?!  Nay?!  Not much of a difference for us this year… yet… maybe next year onwards……

When it's the school holidays, there are lots of activities in Singapore's shopping malls, places of interests to entertain the kids.  Too many places to go, too little time!  :P

If you had been following my Facebook, you would probably have seen this "Is that a sushi?  Is that a fish?  Is that a …" post.  :)

Adapted from a Jamie Oliver's recipe, this is another quick recipe involving wild cod bought from The Alaska Guys.   

Did we just have the above?  No lah…

We had it with potato mash and sautéed mushrooms.  Eat the fish with the bacon and it's woohhhhh....... Slurps. 

Grilled Cod with Bacon and Potato Mash
(Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Grilled Cod with Pancetta & Pea Mash)

1 slice of wild cod (cut into 4 portion)
2 slices of bacon (sliced)
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 lemon (quartered)
3 potatoes (peeled and quartered)
1 small knob butter
Fresh milk

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.  Season the cod with salt and pepper, place on an oiled baking tray and lay the bacon over the top of each fillet.

Place the lemon quarters, cut side down and against the fish on the tray.  Roast in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.

Cook the potatoes until soft in boiling salted water.  Once soft, drain the potatoes and mash with butter, milk, salt and pepper (if preferred).

Serve a piece of cod with the potato mash.  That's it!  

Quick and healthy (maybe).  A salad or sautéed vegetables at the side will definitely make a well-balanced meal!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Aesop's Fables & a Giveaway!

Have you read about the story of The Hare and the Tortoise?  I bet you did!  It is that famous and popular that one can find many adaptations of it as well as the fact that it was told and retold in many different languages .  But do you know that it is one of Aesop's Fables?  Yes?  No?

So who is Aesop and what are fables?  In short, Aesop's Fables is a collection of short stories which authorship is credited to a man named Aesop, who is believed to have lived from 620 to 560 B.C.  So now we know these fables date back a long way!

However long, it's great that we are still able to read about them and the impressive thing about fables is  that they illustrate the stories with a particular moral, teaching both the young… and the old.  

I won a pair of tickets from a giveaway and bought an additional ticket so that both the boys will be able to watch Aesop's Fables.    
Presented by I Theatre, some of these fables are presented in the form of plays and I feel that it is a great way as kids learn and understand easily through catchy songs, puppetry and fun.

We usually reach the venue early for photo-taking, getting the boys into the "mood" and should there be any activities, they can have a try if they wish to.

I don't get such smiles often.  :)  

I Theatre started giving out handouts regarding the play about 30 minutes before the doors open and what I like are the synopsis (kids tend to ask many questions before the show and I was able to let them know bits and pieces about what to expect), biography of the cast and team behind the scene and the activity sheets.  

E showing off his handout happily

Finding a place to flip through what's inside the handout
Can we do the activity now?!

8 stories in total, The Fox and the Crow, The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, The North Wind and The Sun, The Lion and the Mouse to name a few.  Each told in their own way, making kids laugh out loud, adults smiling and clapping, not a single doze-off to be seen.  That's how good they are.  :)

Presenting the very talented and entertaining Crowfoot Troupe, who sings, dances, and presents all 8 stories within 50 minutes in a very engaging way.

Photo credit: I Theatre

At times silly, at times humorous and at times dramatic.  That's why our eyes were glued to the stage, our hands ever ready for a clap and E laughed so hard I secretly wished I had recorded him laughing (no photography and videography please!). 
Photo credit: I Theatre

Every story ended with a related moral and for The Fox and the Crow, it was "do not trust flatterers".
Photo credit: I Theatre
The use of masks, simple costumes, interesting props (spoiler:  use of onions instead of golden eggs.  Haha!) by the skilled actors made all stories easy to understand and relate to.
Photo credit: I Theatre
Stay back after the performance for a photo session with the lovely cast who are always ready for a smile!  

I know the boys enjoyed when I see the smiles on their faces.  And when D asked, "why so fast?!", I know he wished that the play did not end.  

Aesop's Fables is currently running till 21 March 2015 at Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel.  Tickets can be bought online through Sistic.  

Go watch it before it ends!  I am sure you will be as tickled as we are, and at the same time, bringing home both old and newfound morals to discuss and think about.

Thank you for joining the giveaway.

I am pleased to announce a giveaway of 1 pair of tickets to Aesop's Fables for 21 March 2014, 2.30pm.

To enter:

Leave a comment in this blog post or the corresponding Facebook post and share why you should win these tickets.

Giveaway ends 11 March 2015, 8pm.

Please note:

- Winner will be chosen at random

- Tickets are not exchangeable for cash or for other showtimes.  The 2 tickets are for 21 March 2014, 2.30pm.

- As the play takes place in Singapore, the giveaway is open to Singapore residents only.

- Winner will be announced on blog, Facebook and notified by email.  Please respond within 48 hours, failing which, a new winner will be chosen.  

Good Luck! 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Lunch…. Eat What Huh?

Have you ever encountered this:  What's for lunch?  Lunch eat what huh?

I work in an area where there are quite a few coffeeshops and canteens, but every now and then, I wonder what to eat for lunch.  And no matter how simple home-cooked food is, it always taste better, not to mention healthier, cheaper and the list goes on and on and on….

Lunch was made up of some leftovers.  Macaroni frozen a couple of days ago, carrots and clams from a dinner previously.  It's a simple stir fry that I can add in whatever ingredients I have...

- 1 piece fish cake
- 1/4 carrot, shredded
- some razor clams
- 2 dried oysters
- 150 gm macaroni
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- alittle soy sauce
- drizzle of sesame oil

1. Soak dried oysters in hot water for 15 mins and chop coarsely
2. Cook macaroni accordingly to package (if uncooked).  If frozen beforehand, ensure it's thawed before frying.
3. Stir fry sliced fishcakes and set aside.
4. Heat some oil with garlic till fragrant before adding in the dried oysters and carrots and stir fry it till it is almost soft.
5. Add in the fishcake and macaroni and mix well.
6.  Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil and mix well.
7.  Finish up with adding in the razor clams and stir frying for a few seconds.

It looks like a lunch full of "good food" and what's lacking is probably greens!  

Dried oysters can be quite saltish thus I do not add in too much soy sauce.  I generally do not like overly saltish food as I grew up eating not-too-salty.  I cook my pork, chicken and whatever kind of porridge without adding in any soy sauce and some goes…. Are you serious?!  Yes, I am.  :))

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happy Chap Goh Meh! And a Black Bean Soup Recipe….

Chap Goh Meh, which is Hokkien for 15th night, marks the end of the Chinese New Year.  It is also know as Yuanxiao Festival (元宵节), the Chinese Valentine's Day.

Many Chinese celebrate the 15 days long Spring Festival by visiting relatives and friends, and indulging in good food - thus you see cans of abalone flying off the shelves because everyone believes in starting the year right.

After many days of good food, I made a Black Bean Soup for the family.  

Black beans, an excellent source of  cholesterol-lowering fiber and being antioxidant-rich, are known to aid in the digestive health and regulate the blood sugar levels in the body amongst others.  There are many ways to cook black beans but we like it in the way of a Chinese soup.

E, enjoying his bowl of black-coloured Black Bean Soup.  Being the fussier and pickier kid between the two, I'm glad he enjoyed it.

Missing the red dates.  Oops.

- 200g pork ribs
- 3 scallops
- 100 - 150g black beans (rinsed)
- 8 red dates 
- 2.5 litres water

1. Pre-soak the black beans in water for about an hour and rinse.
2. Blanch pork ribs in boiling water to remove scum.
3. Place all ingredients in a pot (I use a Tanyu pot) and bring to a boil on high heat for 10 mins.  Lower flame and simmer for an hour. 
4. Season with salt if preferred.

You can read more about the benefits of black beans here:

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Hong Kong Day 2

How has your Chinese New Year been?  I think I have grown many kilograms fatter *oops*.  

It's so fast that after all the hustle and bustle, Chinese New Year is coming to an end soon.  And we will start missing pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit till the next Chinese New Year……

Back to our Hong Kong trip in November 2014, the trip was planned mostly for the boys, with the occasional shopping (not for me!).  Day 2 was Ocean Park day.  The last time I stepped foot in Ocean Park was almost 20 years ago and I wondered how much have changed since then…..

Before the "lots-of-walking" day at Ocean Park, we headed to the famous Australian Dairy Company for breakfast.  Maybe we were early or maybe it was a Sunday as the queue was not that horrendous as what people always say.  We, a total of 8 pax, were seated within minutes.  Now, note that most Hong Kong Cafes aka Cha Chaan Teng are not exactly kids-friendly - no high chairs, no strollers allowed inside, no kids utensils.  Place is crowded with little walking spaces.

The forced-to-wake-up-early look of D, but hey, he loved this Macaroni Soup with Ham and finished every bit of it.

The Steamed Egg White and Milk Custard which I like….  because I heard it is supposed to give a better skin complexion (believe it or not!  haha)

Please remember to bring your Krisflyer card if you have any as there is a 12% discount on admission tickets (till December 2015 as at this point of time) for Ocean Park.

What's this place?  Where shall we go first?  I want to see this…..
 A welfie in the Cable Car - a way to travel to access the attractions between the two different sides of a mountain, the Waterfront and Summit.  

After the Ocean Wonders show of dophins and sea lions, we took the Ocean Express back down to the Waterfront area.

Visiting the Giant Pandas - the red panda and giant pandas:

Fooling around before we got some souvenirs and left Ocean Park for the day.  

The rides in Ocean Park are not really suitable for the boys as what I saw are mostly roller-coasters and those with a certain height requirement.  However, it is quite interesting as we get to experience a cable car ride, view different ocean and sea animals and even caught the pandas in actions.  All at one place.

As Ocean Park is located on Hong Kong Island, we took the opportunity to have dinner at Yung Kee Restaurant for their speciality Roast Goose and Century Eggs.

I just need to buy these macarons from Pierre Hermé at IFC although they aren't cheap  (you can easily buy a plate of chicken rice for 1 piece).  I am happy yet unhappy they are not available in Singapore for now.

Look at that!  Going crazy over those little things…..and see that little hand tugging at me, telling me to start feeding them.  Yes, my boys know how to enjoy macarons.  :P

Ending the night with a walk around the Ocean Terminal, enjoying the lights-up for Christmas.  As it was near to Christmas, many malls had Christmas decorations and they make picture perfect backdrops.

The sleeping E in my Boba carrier, one that travelled places and which we had for years.  Definitely one of my best investments.