Asher turned 3! A gluten free, healthy and mostly paleo party.

Oh hello there! Welcome back to my little space. I haven’t been far. Just pre-occupied with a few things. This time however, I’m back to document Asher’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations. 

birthday set up

This year, I have been sucked in the whole concept of birthday parties. Asher, having his love for wheels suggested one day he likes a fire engine theme party (what would a 2ish year old know right?!). Anyway, having hear his sales pitch of his list of guests and his love for fire engines, I was sucked right in (didn’t take much) and went researching how do I give a fire engine theme party.

I did take the easy way out, and managed to come across a 1960s vintage fire engine that is being re vamped for kids parties. From there, it just seems certain that we are having a fire engine theme party. 

Our family continued to lived with our philosophy of eating- as healthy and as real as it can be. From that, food planning was easy. An afternoon spread of: 

 

birthday cake

Asher’s Strawberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake with Ganache and Coconut Caramel. 

I’m not sure what I was thinking and used coconut/tapiaco- not an usual blend for a big party. It turned out “okish” but certainly not my best bakes so far. 

fruit kebabs

Fruit Kebabs that appeared to be gone in an instant… 

fruit jellyFruit Jelly- Made of grass fed gelatine, coconut water, strawberries and kiwi. I buy my gelatine from here. I’m really happy with this jelly and made it quite a few times for parties/pot lucks or just because. 

miso butter

Miso Butter Chicken- Something warm for winter

smoked salmon loaf

my all time favourite! Smoked Salmon Mediterranean Loaf. Adapted from this recipe here

vege and dipsDips and Veges- Featuring my Cashew “Cream Cheese” and Chives Dip. LOVING nutritional yeast. Who would have thought blender cashews and nutritional yeast and chives would give such lovely protein hit of a dip? A lovely friend brought a gorgeous garlic and herb dip. 

cheese platterCheese and Nuts

sushiSushi

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Sweet Potato Chips 

That’s pretty much it! We went against the usual norms I guess but it is food that we would generally have + a few treats (like sushi, cheese, sweet potato chips..). 

asher birthday 3rd

I love how much fun our little man enjoyed himself!

13686596_10153740997488091_5151506763638500218_nI wish we have a photo of him running away when the tap was being turned on! Still, he enjoyed every minute and thought it was very special.

asher 3 flowers

From a blink of any eye, my little baby is turning into a little boy (Big boy he would correct me). His cheekiness, laughs and that twinkle in his eyes. His sense of humour, affectionate ways, cautious, empathic, yet curious amazes me. Not to mention how creative he is starting to become, stacking things, role playing and building… I cannot imagine what he would be like when he is 4, but the beauty of parenthood means I get to enjoy him. The way he is. Right now. 

 

 

Salted Caramel Coffee Slice with Chocolate Swirls (Paleo, Gluten Free and Dairy Free) + 16 years in Australia

I arrived in Australia in 2000. 2 huge luggage cases full of stationery* and “must haves”. My mother and grandmother came with me. As an interim place to stay, I was housed in St Thomas along UWA. I was a teenager. Fresh out of secondary school. I was excited and fearless.IMG_2754 (640x427)

I moved into a little shared housing. For the first time in my life, I learned how to cook, do my laundry and clean the house. My mother checked in with me but together with my grandmother, they left following a week and a half in Perth. They decided that it was time that their little girl grow up and just learn how to be independent. 

I have never been away from them before. Till this day, I still remember how sad my grandmother’s eyes looked but how she smiled courageously. Over the years, I had the privilege of her visiting for long periods of time through my University life. Those memories are precious. Coffee Caramel Slice

There is much to write on. I was home sick. I wrecked up $300 bills worth of calls to friends and text messages to my family. In those days, we even had “icq” to connect with friends. My best girl friends would save money and call me. I would purchase “calling cards” and use public phones. I survived on packaged pasta sachets, and would drenched every thing with oyster sauce. Indo mee was a staple. With an fried egg of course. IMG_2757 (640x427)

The better memories. Road trips. Late night suppers. Chats with friends. The rush to get my thesis(es) done-till the point I was sleeping surrounded by papers and books. The eerie corridor of the university labs at 1am. Learning new “words” in the aussie slang. Enjoying pub food and wineries. Embracing different cultures. Loving cafes and coffees. 

Then, with a blink of an eye… I’m in Australia for longer than I was in Singapore. IMG_2761 (640x427)

This year, marked the start of the 17th year. Fleetingly, the thought came in my head a few times about this. After all, I consider myself a Singaporean and still holds a Singapore passport. Yet, I also identify myself with Australia. This is my home now. I have a son who is Australian. A husband who will soon hold an Australian passport. We love our life here. 

It’s a start of more to come. 

What is best to celebrate with a slice. A relatively creamy slice with the almond butter, coconut milk and tahini. It’s pretty addictive. I find it hard to stop at one! IMG_2759 (640x427)

*I still have left over stationery!

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We have arrived in 2016! Happy New Year!

Did you have a relaxing Christmas and New Year break? We worked through but certainly enjoyed the public holidays. We had a pretty chilled Christmas with us attending an awesome lunch with extended family members. On Boxing day, we hosted a lunch for some close friends. IMG_9237

Lunch with family- what a feast!!!

 

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We hosted lunch at our place on Boxing day! Friends brought over delicious food. Another round of feast- Healthy food with Prawn and avocado salad, broccoli and goats cheese salad, my christmas cookie tree, ham, japanese potato salad and turkey.

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Asher is now 2 years 5 months. He is growing to be a sociable child who loves a good laughs, anything with wheels and books. He is enjoying the outdoors and pretend play. His language is growing and he is actually negotiating (Insert horror face!). 

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Early in the year, we said that we want to chill more and really go back to basics. I felt that it was just yesterday that I wrote that resolution. I wanted to build upon existing relationships. I wanted to learn how to not sweat the small stuff, and also, have a bigger respect for functionality of the body- learning and re establishing my relationship with myself, food and fitness. 

 

  • Continue to provide my family with clean and healthy meals. I would like to make more chinese style broths and get back to my roots with more Chinese clean cooking. – We have chinese broth style soups weekly now! I’m learning more and more each month using different herbs and vegetables to make broths. 
  • See beyond the number at the scale. Getting stronger. Doing more drills with full pushups, using heavier weights for thrusters, deadlifts, turkish get ups and squats. I mastered the turkish get up! Definitely doing more full push ups, deadlifting heavier and even managed to do a 150kg leg press. 
  • As a wife, be kinder. I would be the first to admit that I have not been kind throughout the year. It’s something that I struggle with constantly. More on this in another post. 
  • Talk and communicate with my parents more. Weekly a couple of times! 
  • As a mother, to be patient and stay in the moment. Asher is growing too quick. I think I have a few testing parenting moments in 2015….
  • Maintain a gratitude journal.Ok, not doing a good job there. I did maintain one but did not do it consistently or daily. Will aim for 3 times a week rather than daily. 
  • Pray more. I don‚Äôt think I do enough of praying and reflection.  I’m praying more and especially with Asher. Never enough.
  • Schedule in rests. Ok, still pretty bad at this. I’m “resting” now. I rest by reading, cooking and doing housework! I guess this is another post by itself on what rest is. 
  • Connecting with friends. Regular meet ups with my mummy girlfriends. Maintaing contact with my close friends through whatsapp, phone conversations and any channels we can think of. Being a better gift giver. Happy with this goal! I can do better with a few friends. I have learned to maintain a few really close friendships but also be realistic on what can be achieved. 
  • Bringing this website to a wider audience ok, not so. Thank you for reading my little space if you are. I have not done any big changes or have a quest to reach a wider audience. I guess I have resigned to the fact that I cannot “not sweat the small stuff”, work on my marriage, relationship on myself AND market a small blog. I’m not even sure if that is a priority anymore! 

 

In 2016, I like to focus on my marriage a lot more. Being more mindful of how our marriage is going, spending time connecting with each other in addition to work and Asher. Saying no and not over scheduling! 

So where to in 2016

  1. Schedule in devotional time daily. Even if it is 5 minutes. 
  2. Learn how to play again. Be mindful and targeted when playing with Asher. 
  3. Utilising more fruits in my baking and snacks with naturally occurring sugar and try not to add any other sweeteners to it. 
  4. In our marriage, start prioritising and setting aside dates regularly. 
  5. Maintain a gratitude diary 3x a week. 
  6. Continue to grow stronger. Working out with heavier weights and focusing on strength
  7. It is ok to do things for myself. 
  8. Start a new hobby- I’m looking at learning about essential oils. 

A new year = new beginnings. Let’s begin!

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Cinnamon Beef Ribs with Silverbeet + Childled play

Cinnamon Beef RibsI am learning about play lately. Specifically child led play. The notion of letting Asher takes over and just do what he wants while I follow his lead. 

Play has so many layers of meanings to it. A child’s ability to explore in a safe environment, experimenting and working out what goes where and what sounds it makes. I know that if given an option, Asher love having the two of us watching him and being with him play. 

Child led is really a skill. It is so tempting to correct him or encourage him to pick up a different toy. My mind wanders to the messy kitchen or what can I make for dinner next week. Child led play forces me to be present and just enjoy being with him. It tells him that he is important to me. It demonstrates respect to him. IMG_1896 (640x427)

And so we set it up. It was post lunch and I reminded myself to be present. Asher asked me to open a box consisting of 4 mini cars and a car transporter. He wanted me to help him set it up. Then it was a game of sliding the cars. He named the colours and I repeated it, praising him as we go along. His attention went to the bigger cars and attempted to slide the it onto the truck that did not work. We laughed and we started a game of bumper cars. Suddenly he pointed to the slide and he asked me to be on it. I said “mummy is too big” but attempted to slide down which made him laughed. He went under the slide and pointed that out to me. I followed him and it became a game of chasey. His attention went back to the car transporter and started playing with it again. Then he handed me a car and I said “mummy’s turn” and he nodded. That two words turned into a game of turns, and cuddles. He went to the shelves and wanted some help with the cashier toy. We pretended to go shopping and paid for some items. We even pretended to eat an apple and drink some milk. He was having such a ball and giggled each time we pretended to eat something. IMG_1899 (640x427)

25 minutes later, I told him that we have 5 more minutes and then it is nap time. He said “no” and pulled me to a book. We did some reading and I told him we have a minute left. I sang the pack away song and he started helping. He took a book and walked towards the stairs. In bed, I read to him and he gradually drifted off to sleep. 

His behaviour reminded me that there is so much joy in play. So much contentment and just being with him. I’m joining in his world. He loved the attention but most of all, he almost seems to be calmer. As I stared at him sleeping, that 30 minutes reminded me of what being a parent is about. I’m sure fast forward 18 years later, he will not remember these moments. But I do. and that’s what’s matters. 

IMG_1896 (640x427)You hear me talk about the dilemma of making fast dinners but also wanting to add different variety to our meal planning each week. Winter is exciting to me because I can start braising and experimenting with different cuts of meats again. I am a fan of pressure or slow cooking and is determine to utilise our pressure cooker more. At our local markets, I picked up some gorgeous looking beef ribs and decided to experiment using a Pete Evan’s recipe from his Family Food Cook book. The flavours are wonderful, the meat melted in our mouths and it tasted even better the next day. The best bit about this kind of cooking is that that leaves me more time to play! 

And that’s the bit about parenthood that I love. 

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Ricotta Chives Waffles + Work Life Balance

IMG_1845 (640x427)Balance is such an subjective word. What is balance for you may not be balance for us. A recent conversation with a close girlfriend got me thinking….

Balance is the perceive notion that there is even weight given. Work-Life Balance would suggest that one has managed to figure out how to ensure both are given equal amount of attention and work. Equal. That word lies heavily on me. I would love to say I’m happy with the “balance” on the day in and out basis. Sure I like my job, and I certainly like being at home. Is it balance? I think “balance” means fine tuning takes place on a weekly, if not daily basis. IMG_1849 (640x427)

In reality, I believe that it is what we choose to prioritise. What we choose to concentrate and focus on, and perhaps  even what we choose to let go. Balance is perhaps not the best word for us. Like most people, we have bad and good weeks. We have events that throw us off. Our emotions get better of us. Or perhaps someone falling sick means plans need adjustment. 

Balance perhaps is what you perceive as working for your family. Each family takes it quite differently because most of us have different priorities plus developmental changes What we choose to do depends on that too. Balance for us means we have to accept that at our stage in life, we may not get as much time together as a couple than what we have before. However, we choose to spend time as a family figuring out Asher’s personality, likes/dislikes and how can we develop him in his potential. We chose for me to work which means we have to make do with simple or batch cooking for meals, adequate cleanliness and ironing that sometimes pile up. We choose for hubby to concentrate on his career, which means he looks for opportunities to develop himself. I choose to concentrate on strength and performance at the gym, which means I’m trying to focus less on image but more on development. IMG_1845 (640x427)

Do we want more of something? That’s a big YES! Perhaps it is human nature, but hubby and I love to have more time together. We are still learning how to be a couple again on top of being parents. We like to spend more time doing up parts of the house, and most of all, be able to have more time with both sides of our families. There are times when hubby and I give up going for courses because we have other priorities even though the courses might interest us. 

Is balance a series of choices then? 

It’s a really interesting topic because hubby and I never talked about being “balance”. We spoke about how we need to shift things around to make things work. One thing that works to our advantage is that the working hours in Australia is shorter than Asia. That provides the perceive notion that we have a more balance approach to life. Somehow I do agree with that because the shorter hours means there are more option provided to us. I also feel for my family and friends whose life seem to be consume with work. I believe we do work hard here though. I think it is such a myth that being in laid back Australia means there are no hard workers around. Sure we all know of people who slack or we might even question why some individuals are in certain positions. However, I know more people who takes work seriously and commit themselves to it when they are there. Hubby starts work 7ish, and I know that he has already started replying emails and working while on public transport, right down to when he comes back. My part time hours means I generally do not have a break (Yes, I know, probably not legal but I like to make sure my minutes are well accounted for) on some days. I have friends who push themselves and work longer hours than they should. 

Balance perhaps is a cultural option as well. Perhaps we are luckily here because we have the option. That I count us very very lucky.

If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably aware that whenever I can, I like to have breakfasts at any time of the day. On our wedding anniversary, I made some waffles for lunch. It was a real simple savoury one that we enjoyed with some lovely gluten free lamb and rosemary sausages. I did have a small side salad that was not shown in the picture. For these waffles, I attempted to whip the egg whites to give it more of a lift. However, I neglected to note that my waffle maker does thin and crispy waffles. Not the Belgium style type. So…. my waffles turned out crispy anyway! Major DOH moment. IMG_1848 (640x427)

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Nam Jim Sauce (Paleo, Clean eating, Gluten Free) + Judgement on what other people eat

I have learnt that there is no “one size fits all”.  IMG_1616 (640x427)

I meant it in the way of meals and food. 

Fitness and health is a journey. Everyone has their own set of circumstances that require individualisation. What works for me may not work for you. 

I have my fair share of comments about “Why are you being careful about carbs intake?”, “relax a little! Just eat!” or “you exercise right? Just eat what you want”

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We have all heard of stories where the fittest person we know was diagnosed with cancer, while the person who drank ate and partied stayed healthy. 

I was diagnosed with PCOS around 3 years ago. Thankfully, I am not insulin resistant. However, I know I am at a higher risk of it. Thats the biggest reason why I eat and train the way I do. High intensity but at a shorter period of time. Eating cleanly as much as possible rather than having refined food that poses little to no nutritional value to my body. To make it slightly more complicated, I had IBS when I was in my late teens. While it is usually under control, I have times where it flared up- most recently after a mild bout of gastro. Both conditions made me more aware of how I eat. IMG_1615 (427x640)

Who knows what is the fitness and health journey of the person next to you? I realised now, that instead of being judgemental, is to just listen. The person next to me might have a tougher health journey than myself. 

For some people, being a vegan works. For others, they enjoy oats. Some like their pasta, whereas others react badly to gluten. Then there are people who respond sensitively to some foods but that does not necessary mean they are allergic to it. 

Creating meals is a joy. Eating is a joy. Fuelling our bodies right makes it moves better and feel better. That’s the primary reason of why we eat clean. Surely listening to your body and learning what makes it tick better is the way to go? 

I struggle with the word “diet”. While it means “the way we eat”, it appears to have a negative notation around it. For our family, we aim to have less processed food. Aiming for whole foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. We found that too much gluten or dairy makes us bloated and sluggish. For me, it could even trigger abdominal discomfort. 

The questions I frequently get are

1) Do I eat bread?

Yes and No. I do not eat bread on a daily basis for breakfasts. Occasionally when we are out, I may have a little rye toast if I feel like it. My tummy tends to feel heavy after having bread. However, on my heavy work out days, I tend to feel better with additional carbohydrates which depending on where we are, I might choose sweet potato/oats or a small piece of rye toast.

How about breakfasts then? I love eggs. However, I also have some greek yogurt and on Sunday, we cook a fry up of a sausage, spinach, mushrooms and tomato. 

2) You are asian, how about rice and noodles?

We cook rice weekly. Perhaps once a week or twice. I don’t have an issue with rice. I have some occasionally and again on higher intensity work out days. I like that rice has some nutritional value plus it provides resistant starch which is good for gut health. (I recall those days when I was sick, and a bowl of hot steaming congee seems to soothe the tummy). However, I’m conscious that rice is easy to over eat, plus with my PCOS, I tend to be more conscious about the amount of white rice I’m having.

I’m not a fan of yellow noodles but will share some pho with rice noodles from time to time. At home, we prefer cooking with kelp noodles, zucchini noodles and occasionally sweet potato noodles. 

3) Do you have milk in your coffee? What about dairy?

I have almond milk in my fridge and tend to add a splash of that to my coffee at home. If I’m out, I love a good almond milk long mac. However, I go full cream long mac if that is not available. 

I can’t have too much dairy. It makes my tummy goes all funny…A few small slithers of cheese here and there? Not a problem. I seem to be ok with greek yogurt- maybe a 3/4 times a week in small (100-120grams) portions appears to be ok. 

4) Do I cook with sauces?

I have coconut aminos and fish sauce. I do not cook with oyster sauce. I love having ginger, sesame oil and garlic as seasoning. I also use dried herbs. 

5) Do I eat desserts when I’m out?

Of course I do! Hubby and I share. Indulgence. We eat and enjoy. Is it totally nourishing and good for us? Probably not. But we eat knowing that it is for enjoyment and not so much for physical health. 

6) Do I think my “diet” is restrictive?

No way. When is eating clean restrictive? It makes me more conscious about what I put in my body for sure! 

7) Why I identify myself with being a cheeky paleo?

I like the term clean eating. I think that fits us the best. In general though, I like the basics of paleo- eating more vegetables with good sources of meat/seafood. I do like to have some clean paleoified cakes and treats here and there. I think if I want to have dessert, it’s best to have it as nourishing as possible. However, I’m all for REAL chocolate! 

 

 

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This simple salad is made up of mainly wombok or Chinese cabbage. Often, I fall into the tray of using mixed mesclun leaves or baby spinach to make up our salads. I find that finely shredded chinese cabbage has a lovely texture and crunch to it. Top with some cashews and a tangy dressing, it was a light dinner but a satisfying one. A friend passed me this nam jim recipe. I modified it as I did not add sugar to it. Instead, I love the lemon juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and the hit of chilli. 

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Eating Clean while Travelling- We went to Hong Kong! Plus Coconut Banana Ice Cream (Paleo, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar free)

IMG_4728Travelling is one of our biggest passion. We are very privileged to be able to head back to see our family in Singapore, Malaysia and even take a short trip to Hong Kong to see my Grandaunt recently.  IMG_4812

I have often said that eating clean is a lifestyle. What happens then on holidays? My family and I subscribe to the 80/20 rule mostly. During the trip, I ate carefully. Being on holidays means we have our indulgences. I’m all for a good egg tart or dim sum, but generally I try to stay clean as possible (with allowances). IMG_4746

In Singapore and KL, My mum and mother in law are wonderful cooks. Chinese cooking can be quite healthy. We had steamed fish, plenty of broths and soups, stir fry vegetables like bitter gourd and sambal eggplant, steamed chicken with mushrooms. Eating at home, where I didn’t have to cook was a luxury. 

When we do eat out, hubby and I tend to share certain treats. Instead of having a bowl of herbal jelly each, we shared one. We drizzle honey onto our bowl rather than pouring into it. (We had one! The other one in the photo belonged to my mum)IMG_4665

We came across one of my favourite- Pierre Hermes Macarons. Given that it has been nearly 6 years since we went to Paris, and it brought us lovely memories, we indulged-Sharing one between us every few days. IMG_4710

More importantly, we stayed active. Nearly everyday, we tried to move. We walked a lot of course (especially in HK), but I did body weight workout and used the weights at the hotel gym. I didn’t go over excessive. I just moved. It was probably of a lower intensity that my normal workout but that’s alright. My body needed to rest and so I rested. There was at least 2 days I did not workout. I simply felt tired. 

Other things?

– I packed small packets of nuts. It’s easy enough to buy roasted unsalted nuts at groceries stores.

– I pack my muesli. I try to start my day having a healthy, clean breakfast. Sometimes I would have eggs but I really enjoy my muesli with some greek yogurt.

– Mum makes cold pressed juices at home which I quite enjoyed!

– Taste. If I really like it, I will have the whole thing without guilt. 

– Stay hydrated. We purchase plenty of bottled water.

– We brought our vitamins. However, we find that it is more helpful taking them at least before the trip to build our immunity up.

– Instead of watching TV, we were usually in bed by 10 or 11pm. Sometimes even 9:30! It was actually quite nice to take advantage of not having to do household chores and just catch up on sleep!

– On the plane, I would either order the low carb meal or have the meat and vegetables portion. I would skip the dessert (as it is usually not as nice!) and have a piece of dark chocolate if I feel like it. 

– Don’t forget to have some fruits. We enjoyed bells apple, guava, jackfruit… Asher loves his fruits too! IMG_4753

With Asher, we mostly allowed him to have what we eat at restaurants. Thankfully, he likes his vegetables and would attack the broccoli with gusto in Hong Kong. In KL, he had cucumber and jiacama as snacks. 

All in all, we had a great trip and I can’t wait to visit Hong Kong in the future again. IMG_1608 (640x427)

I know we are in autumn but I cannot resist not sharing this Ice cream recipe with you. It’s so quick and simple. You can do it with or without the ice cream machine. I find that with the machine, it is creamier. 

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Tahini Zucchini Carrot Salad (Raw, Paleo, Gluten Free)

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I realised that it is difficult to live with a recovering perfectionist. My poor hubby often gets the brunt of it. Living with a perfectionist means for him, I’m always on a mission.

– Eating clean

– Creating and making most if not all of our meals and snacks

– Moving efficiently. My workout times are precious times.

– Making sure that Asher is stimulated. Thinking about different concepts and games to play.

– Creating better recipes. I have made a lemon tart 3 times in a week because I didn’t quite get it right. 

– Being the best I can at work means sometimes I do work on most evenings and have my mind ticking away on it even when I’m supposed to rest. 

I stopped myself the other afternoon in realisation how blunt, and even unkind when I was on the phone with him. Often, I do my meal prep the night before, and for one ingredient, hubby had chopped chorizo roughly. 

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In a rush of me trying to get dinner done, wanting to complete a few household chores, making Asher’s lunch and prep for an outing that afternoon means I was in a rush. That was still no excuse for being unkind. With the filter not on, I said “darling, why is the chorizo chopped in such big pieces! That’s not how I usually do it”.

As quickly as it came, it made me realised how ungrateful and rude I was. He apologised and said “oh! I’m sorry, I just did it without thinking”. That shattered my heart. I quickly regrouped and said “no, it was not your fault. I was in a hurry and rushed and in the scheme of things.. it does not matter really. I’m sorry for being rude”. 

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It highlighted to me how kind and how generous my husband was. How he tried to help but I dis credited him. 

A girlfriend and I had lunch the other day and asked how do we make our marriage work? We seem happy and content to the outside world. The truth is, we are a work in progress. In our pre marriage counselling sessions, I realised I am often abrasive and impatient. He is the patient one. I want answers now, while he needed time to digest things. Fast forward nearly 6 years of marriage, I’m still practising holding my tongue and being patient. He tries to speed up and is learning how to verbalise how he feels. 

It is what makes our marriage ticks. We agree that we are a work in progress and continue to work on ourselves to strengthen our relationship. It is not perfect but we do not strive to be. We strive to be partners in life. 

This is our current favourite salad. A big bowl of zucchini noodles. Sometimes, I would make it with kelp noodles and place them in a container. This huge salad would last us 4-5 days, meaning that I need to prep dinner less. I would dress them up differently. Sometimes a nut butter dressing suits us. Other times with just olive oil and drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Who would have thought raw zucchini noodles are so delicious? Certainly a game changer when it comes to salads. One thing did not change. We eat from ONE big bowl to save washing up. 

And that is us too. ūüôā 

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HELLO 2015!

Oh hello there! Is it the year 2015 already? 2014 was here just a minute ago. I blinked and here we are at the New Year.

Not often do I take a break from writing here. For the past few weeks though, I took a step back and simply enjoy my family. My parents visited and I soaked in their presence. Including being spoilt by taking a 2 hour nap on Christmas Day, having my laundry folded, and a babysitter for Asher when hubby and I go out for lunch and coffee dates. Seriously spoilt.

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Together with my parents, we went down to Margaret River for 3 days, and I was reminded by how gorgeous Western Australia is.

 

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Coming back though, I wanted to do my annual reflections post.The year 2013 was epic, with Asher being born. Year 2014 was a year of adjustments.

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My grandmother was very ill. I was back in Singapore for close to 2 months earlier in the year. I saw her fought HARD. She had such a strong fighting spirit and survived being in the ICU.

 

However, she fell ill again (different condition) and passed away in early May.

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Grieve is a complicated emotion. I swing from being relieved that her agony and suffering was short-lived but felt a deep sense of loss. Time and being busy helped me healed but the sense of loss never went away.


With my parents over here, we planted a rose plant in our garden in her memory. Mum and I made her famous yam cake. Dad even commented that my soups reminded him of her. My heart ached when Asher called my mum “popo” knowing that he would have called my grandmother “Ah Tai” if she is still alive now.

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In the midst of it all, I received an offer to work part time mid 2014. Life as a working mum is hectic but we adjusted. Asher also started day care. I had to get used to the idea of someone caring for him!

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Asher turned 1. He started walking, talking and looking more like a toddler. My baby is no longer a baby anymore!

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As a couple, we have settled into a routine. We appreciate time together and learned how important it is to be a couple even though we have a family. It’s not always easy. My brain is frequently running a million kms an hour with endless lists of doing things, neglecting that I need to be present for my marriage. Hubby falls to the trap of dealing with the day to day work and home stressors and needed reminders to see me as a wife first than a mother. A marriage needs constant work. There is no room for being complacent.

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To the outside world, it just seems perfect. We are generally happy people. We like being in the same room as each other and we have a gorgeous son. Perhaps what is less known is that we struggle too. Like most young parents, we are sleep deprived and time poor. We rarely yell at each other, but that does not mean we do not have unhappy or even angry moments.

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Fitness remains a journey. I lost most of my baby weight when Asher was 6 months young. I continued to eat clean and train hard. All in all, I think I did pretty well in gaining strength and endurance. From doing wall push ups to full push ups. From not being able to do a full burpees to doing 100 burpees. ¬†I ended the year knowing that I’m stronger and fitter than 2013.

 

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My self image demons continued to haunt me from time to time. Somewhere towards end of September, I was reaching a plateau at the gym. I felt that I was doing “ok” but struggling to lift heavier weights or running faster. I realised that even though I was eating clean, I was probably not eating enough. So I took the plunge and decided to increase my food intake as an experiment. That was a little tricky as I was used to listening to my body and eating accordingly. Slowly, I ate just a little more for my main meals. Surprise surprise, I gained over a kilo of muscle, and started to see progress at the gym. While it was all positive, the increase in the number at the scale affected me. In my head, I see myself as bigger and if I search deep enough, even thinking that I have gone backwards in performance.¬†Just because of a number at the scale.

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I thought I was over that. Being obese and overweight as a child means I have been used to measuring progress by the scale. Gaining weight scares me. Logically I know that muscle and fat are different. Emotionally I reacted. This little experiment brought out more than what I expected. Insecure feelings about my self image appeared.

 

I could choose to freak and bailed out. The old me might even go back to how I was eating before. I needed to stop and breathe. To give myself permission to freak for a while and then question where all these feelings come from. I had to sit with these uncomfortable sensations and question where to from here.

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The answer I think is simple. Why complicate things. What I am doing is working and I have to trust the process though how scary it may appear to be. Looking back, I have lost 35 kgs two times (Childhood and Post Pregnancy). Clean eating and moving well is part of my life now. Is it likely that I will gain back 30 kgs from what I am doing now? Unlikely. Can I tweak my meal plans and workouts as I go along? Very much so. Do I want to lead a life jailed by a number on a machine? No.

Food remains a joy to us. I experimented with more clean cooking and desserts and LOVE it! From making raw desserts to experimenting and developing recipes for my family, I found a kind of rhythm.

So what were my goals for 2014?

My goals for 2014 
РContinue to create and experiment clean desserts and meals. (done!) 
– Make that cream br√Ľl√©e!¬†(OOPSIE! Got to¬†really get that butane!)¬†
РGetting my fitness back on track. (Yep!) 
-Make baby food… (DONE!) 
– Not sweat the small stuff as much¬†(ok, half done… )¬†
РTravel back and see my family even more. (I went back to SG 3 times last year. Done) 
РStay in the moment more. Babies grow up too fast. (Done and ongoing) 
РThank God every day for our blessed family. (Could do better) 
Рblog more often! (I think so!)

Where to for 2015? 

  1. Continue to provide my family with clean and healthy meals. I would like to make more chinese style broths and get back to my roots with more Chinese clean cooking.
  2. See beyond the number at the scale. Getting stronger. Doing more drills with full pushups, using heavier weights for thrusters, deadlifts, turkish get ups and squats.
  3. As a wife, be kinder.
  4. Talk and communicate with my parents more.
  5. As a mother, to be patient and stay in the moment. Asher is growing too quick.
  6. Maintain a gratitude journal.
  7. Pray more. I don’t think I do enough of praying and reflection.
  8. Schedule in rests.
  9. Connecting with friends. Regular meet ups with my mummy girlfriends. Maintaing contact with my close friends through whatsapp, phone conversations and any channels we can think of. Being a better gift giver.
  10. Bringing this website to a wider audience

This is ¬†going to be a year of Back to Basics. Basics of being in the moment with my family and loved ones. Losing grandma made me yearn for more family contact. Learning how to have peace with myself- Trusting in the Lord rather than being self-focus in appearance. Cooking and creating recipes that fits well with our ethos. Re establishing and building existing relationships. It’s going to be a year of giving myself permission to slow down to speed up.

Here is to a GREAT start to the New Year! 

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Almond Strawberry Tart – Paleo, Gluten Free

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It has been more than 3 months since I started working. On top of my usual 5 days a fortnight role, I had an opportunity to contribute back to the academic world by doing some casual marking for an University. The flexibility of this casual role means I can read and mark assignments in the evenings, weekends and some “down time” that I have through the week.

Juggling with work and family makes me count my blessings even more. The opportunity to even have a chance to do participate in the workforce while raising a family in comparison to my friends back in Asia, or even my mother who had to work after 3 months off having me (shift hours too!) is much appreciated. I have a new found admiration for mothers who work FULL time and juggle a family. For some women, they threw in a few kids in that mix too.

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It makes me reflect on how resilient families are. How we “manage”.

A child brings many joys to a family. To a couple, a child is a product of them. With the child comes many changes to a marriage. It brings a new meaning to “family”. Sometimes, I sit back and look at us and think “is managing enough?”

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Managing meaning we get through the day, the week, the month. Be it finances, or the day to day mundane household chores, it’s keeping our head about the water and staying afloat. But is managing a detriment to couple hood or marriage?

Since having Asher, the vulnerabilities of marriage become even more apparent to me. Managing our day to day isn’t enough to keep a family going. How easy for us to “manage” and then one weekend we realised that we need to work on US. Working on us keeps our marriage and family going. What are some warning signs though? Both of us realised that all we talked about is Asher, work, schedules and finances¬†and other commitments. While those are important, we realised we needed to re learn how to be us again. Interestingly enough, we rarely argue, but it’s the danger of slipping into the normal “managing” routine of lives and not working on us that alerted us.

What do I mean by that?

– Hubby and I have not gone on a date since April 2014. That’s 7 months. With my MIL over here, we made an effort go re connect at his work function.

– Which reminds me that attending his work function provides me with another sense of who is he and what he does. Yes, I listen everyday, but it’s nice to put things into context and meet colleagues that he spent most of his day with!

– Pray pray pray. Praying together. We do that but we need to do that even more.

– On rare occasions, grab the chance to just head out together. We had 15 minutes one day before we fetch Asher from daycare. So we bought a coffee and just chatted. The guy at the counter asked if it was ok that they are closing in 15 minutes time and it would be a quick coffee for us- we laughed. 15 minutes is precious!

– Not forgetting to be kind to each other. How often we are tired and a harsh word get said. I’m getting better at slowing down and expressing how I feel in a calmer manner.

– Our thing is to find good coffee in Perth. We have started to have some fun with it. Making our own commentaries, laughing at ourselves and joking that we saved quite abit of money with me drinking normal milk or almond mil rather than soy now. Also, the joys of finding places that make almond milk coffee.

– Discovering our love language again.

I hope that in another few months, and I will read this post again. In reflection that marriage is such a lovely journey. One that it’s so easy to take for granted, but amazingly rewarding as we built it.

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Off tangent here but I wanted to share with you this lovely summery almond tart. It’s quite dense and has a frangipane tart flavour to it. I came across a similar recipe by My Darling Lemon Thyme – A local Perth blogger!! I made this for a gathering with another couple, and it went down well. Hope you enjoy this too.

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Almond Strawberry Tart 

2 cups of almond meal

2 eggs

1 tsp of vanilla

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of almond milk

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1-2 tablespoon of honey

pinch of salt

4 huge strawberries sliced

Handful of almond flakes

Oil 13by5 inch tin very well. Preheat oven to 180C. Whisk vanilla, eggs, honey, oil, milk, juice and zest together. Fold into almond meal and salt. Spoon and press down tin. Place sliced strawberries and almond flakes on top. Bake for40 minutes. Serve with thick yogurt, cream or ice cream.

 

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