Orange Pistachio Cake (Paleo, Gluten Free)

IMG_3029 (640x427)Have you ever wondered how quickly time just seem to go by these days. So quickly that you can’t seem to catch your breath? In my teens, I had a grand plan. I wanted to graduate and find a job in my 20s. I wanted to travel and hopefully if God willing have a partner. Then along came Asher- which was of course, what we always wanted. Then it’s a matter of ….

Now what? IMG_3032 (640x427)

We are quick to reflect on our blessings. Also quick to realise that they “now what” is a reflection of our tiredness earlier in the year where we felt swamped with different commitments. Suddenly it seems that life became like a revolving door-where we just seem to go round and round in circles.

The holiday helped. More importantly we decided to take charge and make a few changes. Perhaps start my simplifying our life further. Scheduling less and less. Making time as a couple. Later in the year, there would be some work changes which would hopefully help in keeping me focus and less scattered. Tough decisions. 

Today, all I have to share is this quick and easy orange pistachio cakes. I’m using my food processor more often than none for baking these days. Giving it a few whiz and batter done. So easy! Plus I can put it all in the dish washer.IMG_3028 (640x427)

We love this easy to do tea cake and hope you do too. 

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Mango and Blueberry Jelly + Toddler’s Conversation P2

IMG_3026 (640x427)Playing with IQS gelatine resulted in quite a lovely jelly. I have made it 3 times with different fruits now and each time it was a winner. Often gelatine leaves a funny acidic after taste but with this, it wasn’t at all. I think this jelly would be a staple favourite at parties these days! 🙂 IMG_3025 (640x427)

Asher’s language has developed rapidly but more so, his reasoning skills. We have started documenting some of the things he has said..

In the car

Asher: “Petrol station! Where are you?”

silence

Asher: “Petrol station! You are not listening! Where are you?”

Silence

Asher: “Petrol station must listen to asher” 

… (Probably a reflection of me asking him to practice good listening aka do what I say)

_______

Asher: Where are we going?

Us: Markets!

At the door- Asher came with his Thomas bag stuffed full of plastic vegetables and fruits. “Let’s go marketing! I shopped for fruits and veggies!” 

______________

Asher: Where are we going?

us: “Where do you think?:

Asher: “Asher, mummy and daddy’s home!” 

(In KL with the same questions)

Asher: “grandma, grandpa AND ZORRO’s home” 

____________

At the airport

Asher: I want to go on the red aeroplane not the white one.

Daddy: Why?

Asher: White one is broken (Referring to the aero bridge not connected to the plane)

Asher: But daddy can fix it (blessed him….)

Daddy: How?

Asher: Bang bang them together

Daddy: Can asher fix it?

Asher: YES! Bang bang bang” ALL FIXED!

______________

Asher: Yummy dahl!

Daddy: Yes it is

Asher: Are you spicy daddy?

Daddy: ……

__________IMG_3022 (640x427)

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White and Black Sesame Cookies (Gluten Free, Clean Eating, Paleo) + Chinese Traditions

IMG_3021 (640x427)Every year I say that I will endeavour to write and note recipes BEFORE Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem to happen these days. Nevertheless, if you are following my Instagram, you would have noticed that despite my lateness- it didn’t mean that I have stopped baking cookies. I did! I just didn’t document it in time!IMG_3016 (640x427)

This year, I felt the immense sense of lost as we approach my grandmother’s 2nd year death anniversary. It is also the 2nd year we are celebrating CNY without her. As we were grieving last year, we hardly thought or did any celebrations. This year though, we attempted to do some spring cleaning, filled our cookie jars with some clean cookies and even attended a lunch with friends. 

As Asher grows, I am reminded by how far removed he is from family and friends. The slight fear that culturally, his knowledge will be even more diluted than ours. While we can, we decided that there will be a few things we would do to at least let him know his roots and where his ancestry is from.

  • We attempt to teach him CNY songs and wishes. Still a little early but he did say a sentence or two!
  • My parents forwarded some lion dance puppets
  • We followed some traditions like having tossed salad, saying greetings to friends and families, and the all important red packets
  • We connected to extended family members via face time.
  • We dressed him up in red and in new clothes. 
  • We took Asher for a hair cut

In time to come we will visit our family and friends in the festive season. 

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This was one of the cookies I created for CNY. Hope you will enjoy them.

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Vanilla Custard Tart (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Hubby’s birthday

custard tartIt was hubby’s birthday back in Jan. As we become parents, it seems that our birthday celebrations are less important. The attention is naturally directed to our little man. 

I read a post about a father walking to the front of his house. He heard his wife asking their children to pack up and get ready for daddy to return home. I read that the father took a deep breath and left all his worries and stress behind. He put on a smile, and filled his embrace with love. At the end of the day, all that matters to him was returning home to his loved ones. IMG_3009 (640x427)

Hubby is that man. While we have just one child, I know and appreciate that his priority is us. I care that he always greet Asher with a big smile and hug. His first question to me was “How was your day” and would listen to my rambles before telling me what happened to his. This would happen daily despite me asking him first at times- his answer is always “Your day is far more exciting than mine and I want to hear it.” Later on, he would tell me about some stressors or dramas that have occurred- but at that minute that he entered the door, his priority is to listen to how we went in our day despite what he had endured. IMG_3002 (640x427)

As a working mum, I have to juggle heaps. Day care drop off, pick up (mostly), meals, cleaning, packing..etc. Hubby helps as much as he can but somehow, it seems more “natural” or “easier” for me to do some of the tasks. When my tank is low, it was hard to give. While hubby may not juggle as much, sometimes, I fail to recognise that his tank gets low too. It isn’t easy to work full time, and attempt to give the best he can to his household. That I really truly appreciate. 

I thought that this year, I would make a child hood favourite of ours. A fruit flan. Danielle Walker’s recipe was fantastic and I made a few minor changes to suit our family. This is a must make again in our household. IMG_3007 (640x427)

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Fig and Hazelnut Cookies (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Toddler Play

Fig and Hazelnut CookiesA couple of weeks ago, I wrote generally about Asher’s play. I wanted to expand on that as in just a few short weeks, I have noticed his interest, concentration and language has shifted somewhat. In my attempt to be mindful and present focused, I slowed down and observe. It makes me realise how much he has grown since this post 6 months ago

Playing by himself– Since Asher was a little bub, he prefers someone to play with him. Understandably so, since playing with mummy or daddy is so much more fun than playing by himself. Lately though, I catch him wandering and exploring, coming up with little games by himself. His language has grown, and with that he reasons with himself. As he approach a puzzle, he talks to himself- problem solving along the way.  “This goes there. No it doesn’t. That one fits better”. Or “Hello yellow car, you need to go to the petrol station for fuel”. 

Imaginative play-That has expanded too. Using a water bottle as a “traffic light”. The tissue paper box as a “petrol station” or perhaps a block of towers as “school”. His ability to imagine and make things out of nothing still amazes me. 

Shopping/Role plays– This cracks me up. We have a play kitchen. He would take his shopping basket, fill it up with groceries, pay for it using his toy cash register and proceeded to head to the kitchen to pack away and cook us a meal. He was really pretending to be ME! He cooks us breakfasts (eggs of course), and make us tea. We have tea parties where he would pretend to boil water, complete with a jug of milk. We would pretend we are a zoo, and play act different animals (slide like a snake, crawl like a bear, hop like a kangaroo, walk like a duck)

Vehicles–  He is starting to categories now. He talks about emergency vehicles versus transport vehicles (Although of course emergency vehicles are also transport vehicles). We talk about ambulances, fire engines and police cars. We point out different reasons for using these services. He would pretend to be a pilot and want to fly a plane. Then a fireman next to fight fires. Of course he loves zooming his cars and play racing with them. We use concepts like fast and slow, over and under. We spoke about car safety and seat belts. We point out traffic lights in real life and talk about road safety (possibly a little too well because now he is scared of walking in car parks!). Hubby even takes things one step further and do mini excursions on the public buses with him! He is still into his Thomas the tank engines but thankfully has also expanded that to general trains and cars. 

Puzzles– Not only is he enjoying putting puzzles together, he is also liking flash cards. Matching games, and even counting ones. Although his concentration isn’t quite there yet and he often mis count, he makes me realise how fun learning can be. We match clock numbers to a real clock, we match numerical numbers to pictures of items. We have alphabet puzzles, transport ones and even robots where we have figure out the pattern. 

Music– Where do we even begin? He really loves music now. We bought him a drum kit and he totally loves it. He has a keyboard and he sings into the microphone. Then of course we have bells and tambourines. We dance to music and even when I’m doing food prep, he would start jumping and swaying, looking at me cheekily hinting that mummy should dance. 

Books-His favourite place to go to..the library. He loves books and more books. He likes books with transport, construction and more recently, even books on numbers. 

Rough Play– Tickles and more tickles. Jumping and running. He loves sitting on my tummy and then falling onto the carpet. We do old games like “aeroplane”- one that I raise him up using my legs while lying down. Upside down is another favourite. Climbing up and down stairs. I’m starting to introduce hoping to him. He likes his ball and would kick, throw and roll. We are attempting bouncing next. He loves his slides and play ground. IMG_2905 (640x427)

Messy play– He loves his play dough and painting. We haven’t got much into finger painting though although we have tried stamping. He enjoys water play quite a bit. 

Fine motor skills– We do a little threading, and he does like putting stickers on books. His pencil grip isn’t quite there yet but there is no hurry. His is interested in colours and doing a little scribbling at times. We do sorting out using tongs. We use colour pom poms and sort them into different tins. We try to talk about how sometimes we sort by shape, and other times by colours. 

Gardening– I can’t say I do heaps of that. Hubby do that a lot more with him. He would help to water the plants with hubby pointing out to him how things grow. He has a look of pride when he takes in some herbs for me as I cook a tomato sauce for instance. 

Playing with friends-There is still a degree of parallel play, but I’m noticing that he is starting to attempt to interact with his friends. Perhaps sitting near them and showing them his cars. Perhaps chasing them while “driving” his car. He would laugh and clearly enjoying the company of his friends. He has started telling me who his friends are, and would ask to visit them. He is still not very good at sharing yet- but at least would sometimes pass the item to me , telling me that he is done with it and wanting me to pass it to the friend. 

IMG_2901 (427x640)So there we have it. I might miss some more but just writing this down makes me realise how much he learn through play. Certainly toddler hood is all about fun and I wish he will continue to have this inquisition of learning. 

I am back to baking cookies more regularly and this was one using some leftover dried figs. Figs and hazelnut goes quite well together. Asher loves mixing things and sit on the counter top watching me put these cookies together. He makes me realise that everything is interesting, and while I’m easily on auto mode, being with him helps me to slow down and smell the roses (or the cookies in this case). That is the beauty of having a toddler. IMG_2906 (640x427)

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Mango Bread (Paleo, gluten free, dairy free) + Murky Roles

IMG_2866 (640x427)Is being a father/mother = to being a good husband/wife? 

The other day hubby and I had a conversation about roles in parent hood. While it may seem clear cut on what our roles are, it can often be more murky than what it seems. IMG_2869 (427x640)

First up, it does depends on your definition of what a husband or wife should be. For some people, it is about being a partner in life. We uplift each other, we give honest thoughts, we pray. Perhaps we enjoy checking out cafes and coffee. We have heart to heart conversations, have similar thoughts on current affairs. We may share a love for musicals. We do housework together and is there for each other when the going gets tough.We have a good laugh. Most of all we like each other.

Then we have definition of what a parent is like. The usual routine, caring for a child, playing. We may think that providing financially is also one of our roles. IMG_2866 (640x427)

Gently, we teased out the differences. Being a mother/father may contribute being a partner in a relationship but it does not define it. I love seeing hubby being a dad. It gives me great joy when I see hubby plays with Asher or teaching him a skill that I did not even think of teaching. I love seeing how Asher looks up to his dad with those eyes that says “daddy is his hero”. It makes me warm and fuzzy. It fills me with love. Yet I also long for those days and luxuries when I have hubby’s undivided attention. Flowers and gifts. Notes in my lunch box and sweet words. Hubby too realises that he misses being the centre of my attention where I am more flexible in my scheduling, more spontaneous in checking out food places and perhaps less snappiness when I’m tired. He misses my messages on why I love him, and why I respect him. He cares for those evenings when we do not have to rushed to finish getting ready for the next day but just enjoy each other’s company. He would like our conversation to be round us and our dreams/goals- and not just be around what we need to do and need each other to do.

Being a parent is hard work. Being in a marriage and a parent = triple the hard work. The unspoken is that it takes a lot of effort to keep a family together. I certainly appreciate having this conversation to keep me in check, but in reflection of our day to day actions as a couple. IMG_2867 (640x427)

This is one of hubby’s favourite breakfast in summer. The sweetness and creaminess of mango means the bread does not need any other sweeter. Asher for some reason does not like mangos. I think it is the texture (I’m sure he will come around though). Sometimes I may not make something (in order to maximise amount of return for the energy output to make it) because Asher doesn’t eat it as much- but this time, it is for hubby because he likes it. 

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Overdue recipe- Christmas Dark Chocolate Panforte Slice + Dads’ struggles

IMG_2860 (640x427)hello MARCH! Are you sure we are fast approaching and finishing quarter of the year? I absolutely cannot wait to just have a few weeks off. 

I’m not sure what’s going on but January and February seems full on. Clearly our bodies are exhausted. We are starting to have minor colds- which we don’t usually have. We get cranky at each other and we forget things. 

I read somewhere that mums have to learn how to look after themselves- because at the end of the year, if we fall into a heap, EVERYTHING falls into a heap. IMG_2855 (640x427)

So true.

As I read that article though, I feel a tinge of unfairness for dads. Yes, we mums have to look out for each other and for ourselves. We also have it harder on many different levels. Sacrificing income, career advancement, adult conversation, sleep, hobbies, fitness, our bodies,… I remember someone asked me before “so what do you do at mothers group? drink tea?”. I nearly fell off my chair with the audacity of that statement. I thought and still tell my friends that even if we do that, we have earned it. IMG_2862 (640x427)

It is however unfair for dads too. I reflected on some things that fathers may struggle with

  • For some jobs, being a male means it is harder to ask for part time hours (despite policies). Kinda like a bro code where it is unspoken but cannot be broken
  • Awkwardness in parents room sometimes when there are just chairs for breastfeeding mums., and they walk straight in. Almost like they have to learn how to just look straight ahead and see that as no difference to a mum breastfeeding in public/ restaurants.
  • Public restrooms when they are by themselves, and no parents room in sight with a child the opposite sex. 
  • Taking time off to care for children. Hubby’s work place is great but he said there are some work places where it is still expected for mums to take time off when child is sick and less so for dad
  • Dads needing to look after their own mental health or health too. There are dads who golf and go out for drinks, but there are also dads who are exhausted from working and helping out at home. 
  • Bringing out memories of how they were parented and how different they are trying to be. 

The list might be short but I think at times I fall into the trap of forgetting it is tough being a dad too. Panforte

Today’s recipe is quite late but I thought I might document this anyway. I call it a Christmas Panforte slice. I wasn’t planning on writing it up as I did it on a whim last Christmas. It was such a hit and I received lovely comments that I thought I should write it down here for anyone who wants the recipe. We do not often have dried fruits in the house but it was Christmas afteralll. I love the combination of fruits, nuts and spices.It does not require baking- and come to think of it, makes a nice gift any time of the year! And no, it has absolute no relevance to the above post except that when I’m a little tired, it shows how all over the place my thoughts are!IMG_2852 (640x427)

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