Mother to five, parent in progress and occasional kitchenista cookerella

Category: Family & Parenting Page 3 of 5

Setting Up Cosy Corners

What do you do when you have growing children and limited space? Other than bumping into walls and into each other, or secretly donating tired-looking toys to make more space around the house, it’s always nice if each child has a special secret place–call it a cosy corner of sorts. But what if you don’t technically have the space in the house for one? Your child may just come up with incentive just to create one with abit of imagination.

The little one doesn’t enjoy being in a separate playroom from her siblings who are all older and occupied with their own things. So she set up home near us—under the kitchen counter. It’s close to where I usually am (in the kitchen: prime real estate mind you) and where she is, she can “call out” to her siblings to come and play with her when she gets bored and to visit her “house”, which currently now is minimalistic with just two chairs and some knick knacks (*grateful*).She takes her stuffed animal friends for occasional walks on their stroller while I cook or clean and drops by to “enquire” of me once in awhile. How nice of her:).

Kids….let them be near you, while you work, and do life together:).

Cozy Corners

Cozy Corners

Love & Quiches – Easy Quiche for Valentine’s

Affection is a strange creature. Sometimes, it takes the form of extravagant public displays. Other times, more subtly, with love & quiches going together.

Let me explain. It was Valentine’s Day a few weekends ago, when the husband, I and all our kids in tow, walked past some university students hawking their Valentine’s wares: a single stalk or a bunch of roses of your choice. They gestured towards us and posed to my pram-pushing middle-aged gentleman, an irresistible opportunity:  “Would you like to buy a rose for you wife?” It was not a surprising proposition given that roses or flowers, for that matter, are the passionate one-gift-says-all redemption for all men on Valentine’s Day.

The hubs turned around; I could see him toying with the idea for a split second, till he met my gaze. In an instant, we read each others cues and both instinctively agreed not to…not because we didn’t believe in romance. But because it wouldn’t feel right, it wasn’t our kind of thing, to be honest.

It’s not that we don’t believe in romance, or all that heady, giddy stuff of that thing called love. But somehow, after 10 years and four kids after, our affection for one another couldn’t be surmised in a stalk of rose. What we had was not quite giddy, romanticized or idealized. Our feelings didn’t need to be exhibited for us to feel secure. We are thankful to have “smelt the roses” together without actually needing to hold some on Valentine’s Day.

It is the constancy of our married life that is a safe deep harbour. Our “displays” of affection veer towards constant gestures like how he fills my water bottle at the start of the day and never fails to bring out the trash. For me, making his favourite meat roast and running the tub. Affection for us spells subtle and nuanced, laced in a fond nudge or gentle word, quiet consideration for the other and the warmth and pleasure of familiarity.

Thus, it is just perfectly comfortable and natural that I would show my affection to my darlings in this delectable form of a ham and cheese quiche, which I serve up especially in times when I am thoroughly thankful for the aroma of love that fill our house. Love and quiches to you all! XXOO 🙂

Love quiches

Ham Quiche with lots of love



Ham Quiche
To bake the crust, preheat oven to 180C, Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on to prepare the egg custard.

Quiche custard recipe:
6- 8 slices of ham, cut to narrow strips
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups cream (35%fatmin)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated tasty cheese

1. Arrange the ham strips evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, and cream. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared crust and bake until the custard is golden, puffed, and set yet still slightly wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes at 180C.

Easy DIY Cupcake Stand!

This DIY Cupcake Stand on a budget can be done up in 15 minutes with simple materials you have in your kitchen at home. 

Initially, I was entertaining fancy ideas on heading out into the stores to look for a pretty cupcake stand to go with my daughter’s birthday cupcakes and maybe a dozen helium balloons. It would be pretty, pink and perfect. 

Well, Budget mum won and kicked perfectionism to the curb. Saving the earth takes priority as opposed to creating Pinterest worthy snaps of our unreal life. 

We chose to save our time, money and use whatever we could scavage from our kitchen drawers. 

Best decision ever. 

The five year old was more than squealing to help put this together: 2 IKEA cups-check. 2 paper plates, recycle a cake base with contact paper or wrapping paper and a steaming rack.

It wasn’t super pretty nor perfect looking. I reckon I could’ve added a ribbon or two but am happy with the outcome!

It’s functional and can be put together AND dismantled in quick time!

Here’s sharing our 15 minute DIY Cupcake Stand Tutorial for the budget conscious! Read more here on what we actually did to make birthday memories! 

DIY Cupcake Stand 15mins max

Here’s all you need

:1. A cake base (we used a recycled one)
2. Wrapping paper (pretty ones!…we used contact paper as I only had was easy to stick on too.)
3. Two plastic Ikea cups
4. 1 paper plate
5. Round steamer rack
5. Glue, scissors, blue tack


1. Cut contact paper, wrapping paper to fit cake board and paper plate. Stick and glue on. Add trimmings, stickers,ribbons if you like on the borders.

2. Position some blue tack on the rim of the cup, invert and stick on to big cake base. Position some blue tack on base of cup and stick on paper plate.

3. Use a steaming rack to raise the height beneath the big cake base. Arrange cupcakes to balance.

From Pigs to Ponies ?

Some time back, we celebrated our baby turning 3. Following her epic Peppa Pig cake of the previous year where all of us messed with fondant to make her favourite pink animal, she’s since moved on (due to sisterly influence) to horses. Her lovely purple pony friend was bought for her as a present by all of her siblings (generous eldest (with most savings) contributed 70% with the remainder shared between brother and second sister)…incidental lesson on using their savings to bless those they love.
As with family tradition, mummy contributes by making a hopefully memorable cake. Nothing fancy, but decided on a marble-swirl Sky coloured strawberry yoghurt cheesecake. Turned out a lovely pastelly-blue and cream with looked like a decent backdrop for ponies to fly!

True to budget mum style, I relish the opportunities that the kids have to create their own cake and be involved some way in the process. It brings great delight to parent and child and binds our shared memories of the experience tighter. Thus, the little one was thrilled at littering the cake with rainbow sprinkles across the “magic” skyscape and the cute marshmallow “clouds” were lined up around the borders. This pastel wonderland was enough to make this 3 and 30+ year old very happy for the day!:)


Last week, at a whim, I brought four intrepid little explorers out on a relatively cool morning to a simple nature walk around our neighborhood. It was the best thing I did that day, tho it meant struggling to balance baby in the shawl while trying not to keel over peering at tiny insects having a field day. Pardon the pun. That was my Nat Geo best for you!

Nonetheless, we were not disappointed…look at these spoils! The kids were obsessed with their fly catcher and measured out some insect-swatting killer moves and our best armament to date: a magnifying glass. The younger girls got home to their journals and began sketching leaves. The older one completed his examination of a cross-section of a flower.


Over the weekend, if your kids are in need of an eye break, just seriously get out. I know the weather has been absolutely unforgiving but just two streets and we discovered a huge cluster of mushrooms, a neighbour’s secret tree house with mystery trap door (we’ll be back to spy) and the awareness of so much life teeming around us that it made our daily worries look minuscule.
Think about it: there’s this absolutely amazing universe of an eco system that’s drumming to its own beat…completely unfazed by geo-political affairs and accelerating parking prices. We can all take a leaf or two from that, can’t we? ‪#‎budgetmumactivities‬ ‪#‎homeschooling‬‪#‎theoutdoorhour‬

Nature study ideas:…/nature-study-ideas/

Okay No-Kay Okonomiyaki

I’m linguistically challenged and this pancake gave me a few doses of that reality.

Hur hur…. Oki…No, Oko as in Yoko Ono, yaki as in “yucky” is me scrambling at feeble word association only to be shut down by my kids who decided to take it up a notch…

“Mom, say this: “garbledegook”, “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious”!,
another countered.
I could do that…I thought, rolling my lips to begin but not before proceeding to roll my eyes at their attempted mum-bashing efforts.

“Wait mum, try this…”Yakiniku, Makizushi, Takoyaki and Furikake. All at once.”

There. Slayed in an instant.
So anyone care to enlighten me: what’s the Japanese word for “surrender”?

Back to business. Here’s how you make (ahem) Japanese Savoury Pancake. Perfect for when you have nothing much on the fridge (some straggly cabbage/carrots/a crabstick/bacon bits or two).…/okonomiyaki-japanese-sa…

Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap

Most conventional grocery produce has pesticide residues on the surface and has high probability of being waxed. The waxing is used to increase appeal on the store shelves and to give it a longer shelf life.

We’ve just started discovering Dr Bronner’s 18-in-1 Magic Castille Soap in our household. The great thing about it are its multiple uses and one of it is a very practical fruit and vegetable rinse. I like the fact that what’s used in the bathroom for example, is clean and safe enough (a mix of organic coconut, jojoba, olive oil) to be used for cleaning our food in the kitchen. It simplifies the things we need to buy and eliminates the need to purchase a separate and oft expensive “veggie wash”.

Put 2-3 drops of the soap into a bowl of water, dunk your produce and scrub with hands to get off any dirt. Rinse in cold water.

Citrus Orange Castille Soap courtesy of Nature’s Glory – The Name You Trust For Health. Opinions expressed are my own.

Avocado Cream & Pomegranate Salad

Avocado Cream and Pomegranate Salad in christmas colours

Christmas is reining the year in to a holly jolly close and thought I’d try something random and Christmassy-that’s void of too much effort …lest it add to our already frenetic and mind-boggling tasks of procuring presents for the X’mas season!

The obvious fuss free choice was salads. We love our greens and the great thing about salads is you can throw in pretty much what you have dangling in the fridge for a nutritious munch. For this, we had some ripened avocados and pomegranates, donning the official colours of X’mas, which were just begging to be whipped up. Further to that, the kind folks at Nature’s Glory sent us a bottle of Dr Bronner’s Fresh Pressed Virgin Coconut oil to experiment with, which couldn’t make a better X’mas gift for this budget mama.

Certified organic to USDA National Organic Program standards, Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade & Organic Whole Kernel Virgin Coconut Oil IS health food. Cold-pressed from fresh, carefully dried coconuts, and can be used as an alternative to butter and other oils for stir-frying, making sauces, and baking. Increasingly, doctors and nutritionists are now recognizing coconut oil as an oil that may offer many health benefits ranging from improving good cholesterol, digestion, brain health and improving thyroid function. Read more here:

This dressing is super simple to make, gluten free and dairy free. It is also really versatile: use it over a salad, in slaw, as a sauce for pasta or grains, as a dip for crackers, and so on. It would even be great as a sauce on tacos or a spread on sandwiches. A little kick of cumin to raise the heat slightly and a nice tartness with the lime and apple cider vinegar. Of course, the VCO binded it well together with a nice consistency and mildly sweet fragrance.

Creamy Avocado Dressing – Gluten-free + Dairy-free

1 large (or 2 small) ripe avocado
1/4 cup Dr Bronner’s Fresh Pressed Virgin Coconut oil
1 handful fresh cilantro
1tsp cumin powder
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp lime juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water (you may want more if you want it thinner)
Blend together in blender till smooth and spoon over salad!

Salad: lettuce, cucumber, cherry toms?


Good news for those who like the benefits of coconut oil or who are racking their brains for a meaningful family gift:

**Nature’s Glory is offering a clearance promotion which offers 1 large bottle of whole kernel Dr. Bronner’s Coconut Oil at $39.80 + a small bottle worth $21.90 free!**

For reading on the many benefits of coconut oil:


Pictured here, the kids in the belly of a whale, having a blubber of a time! As a homeschooling budget mum, I dig museums. First, they are FREE with loads of activities and programmes specially curated for Children’s Season. They are also repositories of life in the fullness of its expression. It’s never a dull school day out!

In the belly of a whale

Imaginarium, Over the Ocean and Under the Sea at 8Q has been one of our annual faves and we spent some time staking out in there and soaking in the aquatic-themed line-up last week. Here’s sharing our favourite bits of our visit along with tips on how to engage the children in the installations:

Highlights of our trip:
1. “Plastic Ocean” by Tan Zi Xi
Children and adults are invited to “swim” through cartons of used bottles, wrappers meant to recreate a sea of plastic. The message is obvious. Are we using and discarding more than our oceans can handle? Our children ran through the blue-hued maze identifying some of their favourite chocolate biscuit wrappers and the brand of detergent we use. We also enjoyed the mini art gallery of illustrations by Tan, a Singaporean illustrator turned artist.

2. “ADA” by Karina Smigla-Bobinski
My 6yo was particularly enamoured by ADA …a huge helium ball with charcoal studs on it bobbing it’s way around a large white space. It’s actually intended to resemble a bioluminescent underwater organism and children are encouraged to guide ADA around. With every push, they leave irreversible charcoal marks across the surface of the wall, symbolic of how we too, in interacting with the oceans through our actions, affect the oceanic and natural habitats around us and leave irreparable damage. Deep stuff!
Tips: just don’t wear white or your favourite new dress if your child is likely to spend lots of time here. Could end up looking black and scruffy.

3. “Where is Mogus?” By Mulyana
Spot Mogus, an imaginary octopus and his beautiful crocheted friends. This is tactile wonderland and one of the favourites for the children. Plush whales and great photo moments along with “I spy” games that can keep one another on their toes!
Get the children to spot and spy out the different octopus friends and have them looking into the detail of each hanging octopus!

4. We also enjoyed the theaterette with a full list of international and local short films. Awesome long sofa benches all the way inside and fully carpeted. Perfect way to rest your tired feet. “The Sea is Blue” just won the Webby awards for best animation!

Imaginarium runs now through to 28 August 2016.…/Immaginarium_brochure_F…


1000 Hugs

Valentine’s Day just came and went and we probably think we’ve known a thing or two about love. Perhaps we scoff at the tired material parade that it’s become, but I’m sure we have been, to some extent in our lives, willing recipients of loving admiration. We might have grasped it in some measure through a stalk of rose, a pretty trinket, a thoughtful meal, a blush and a kiss, or a whispered word of significance.

The truth is, I never really knew what love really meant till I became a wife and mother. That’s when my idealistic newfangled visions of romance and notions of this four letter word evolved and dissolved into the all too-dramatic realisation that my heart doesn’t stop for these things.

1000 hugs

On the eve before Valentine’s, my six year old wrote me a letter while I was napping. I had earlier turned down her request to open up the craft box since I was about to prioritise the heavy-lidded ness weighing down on my eyelids …the unfortunate result of post-lunch fatigue. I told her to wait till I woke up and “make do” with whatever pencils and stationary available. It was a rather selfish, careless rejection and at the corner of my eye I could see her glimpses of disappointment before I nodded off to sleep.

When I awoke, I saw her and her little sister chirping excitedly about something that they had just made for me. It was a plainly pencilled letter scotched together in a makeshift envelope. “Mummy, I wrote you a letter” she grinned half bashfully and excitedly as I unveiled its contents with mildly sheepish anticipation.

You see, what I saw in this humble piece of scrap paper jolted me awake immediately and made my heart suddenly fuzz up. It was without doubt, Love: the very elusive, sought after, complicated, sometimes twisted notion that is the thirst of every breathing being. But there it was, plain, unadulterated, for my eyes only to behold, an expression from a little gleaming human being beside me who’d somehow unravelled the knots of that seemingly complex emotion.

My instinctive response was to feel immediately small. Why was I even a deserving recipient of 1000 hugs and of her unconditionally rendered heart? Would I even think of giving her 1000 hugs as a gift of my love and affection? How devastatingly simple is it to love another human being? I thought of how I’d earlier brushed her aside and yet…her note preached to my heart the fullness of love afresh in all of its glory.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”.

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