Hong Kong 2016

For the first time since having Sandra, I’m on a trip without the kids. It’s semi-business so there is only one day for leisure but I’m so looking forward to shopping and actually being able to try on clothes that I woke up at 6am unable to sleep! Here’s my breakfast at 7am. The irritating thing is that it started raining while I was eating. Here’s hoping the rain ends soon enough for me to get to my next destination – Bliss spa – in time for my facial!

Given that the rain continued, I decided to take the mtr rather than walk to my next destination at Kowloon. Upon arrival at Kowloon station, I was ambushed by a bunch of really cute kids selling flags. Of course I made a small donation to the cutest one with gorgeous curls.

Bliss spa was every bit as enjoyable and relaxing as I expected it to be, although the price tag was also slightly alarming. Definitely more than twice the price that bliss in Singapore was charging, no wonder the Singapore one had to shut down. The facilities were amazing though, I didn’t bring swim wear for the jacuzzi but enjoyed the steam room for a bit then used the rain shower with side showers. Ahh…

Incredibly tasty and easy to make granola recipe


We whipped up a batch of granola today with mostly ingredients that we usually have around the house. Homemade granola just tastes so much better than the sickeningly sweet store bought version and is so much healthier. It’s really very easy to make. 

Mix rolled oats (about 200g) with about 150g of nuts and seeds of your choice (in this batch I used pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almond flakes). Set aside.

Mix 2 tablespoons honey, a splash of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons oil and a tiny bit of water if your honey is too thick to mix up.

Mix the oat, nut and seas mixture into the  wet ingredients and stir well to coat then spread on baking sheet and put into 150 degrees celcius oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, stir in about 20g desiccated coconut and, if you so desire, dried fruits, and return to oven for 15 minutes. 

Let cool then break into pieces. You’ll never buy store bought granola again. 

Taste of what it’s like with 3 kids

On the first day of Chinese New Year we got to bring my nephew (on my husband’s side of the family) with us to visiting on my side of the family. For a while it was just 2 of us and the 3 kids, until we met up with my parents and cousins. It actually wasn’t that bad.

Probably anyone with more than one kid will be used to the whines about who they want to sit with, which we stamped out with firm “no”. And of course there was the running around which fortunately was not that hard to control because the youngest one can’t walk fast and the 2 older ones were basically joined at the hips.

The killer move was scaring the oldest one (my nephew) with threats of “I’ll leave you here in the middle of nowhere if you run off without the adults.” Given he was unfamiliar with me and not sure whether I will carry out the threat, he always came back, bringing the middle one on his tail. Not sure that move will actually work with my own kid who knows full well I won’t actually leave them stranded though.

Overall, we were not traumatised but not necessarily sure we wanted another child either.

Happy lunar new year from the Lu babies!

  

Starting to interact

I wonder whether I’m the only one or does everyone have this experience. When a child is a baby, you try to speak to her but it’s really forced and unnatural because there isn’t the feeling that you are being understood. Then one day, all of a sudden, something clicks for the baby, or maybe for you, and you realise that the baby is comprehending and interacting with the world around him or her. She’s even communicating with other children which is just too cute!

  

DIY home decor

We made this after Sophia watched a YouTube video about DIY home decor where this teenage girl showed multiple ideas of how to spruce up her room. The ideas range from full blown reprint your furniture to simple sand art in a jar. Sophia must have determined she has the most complete materials for this project, remembering the sticks and stones she picked up from our trips to the beach. The wool is from her Grandmother and she asked me for a jar. The fact that I can pull a mason jar from under my bed is testimony to how much junk we have at home.

  

How to organise a child’s birthday party – My Little Pony theme Part 1

I’m totally giving out my secrets here, and the number 1 tip to organising a fun party is to outsource outsource outsource, unless you (1) are able to commit to the party virtually full time for at least 3 days leading up to the party, (2) have a commercial kitchen with 2 helpers and (3) are really good with kids (many kids at the same time), like you if are a preschool teacher.

If you are an ordinary full time working mum like myself, there are service providers out there to make life easy.

1. Venue

For Sophia’s 5th party we chose a condo function room, which is essentially a blank canvas which allows you to do anything but also means you have to plan everything else, in Sophia’s words, “all my friends will sit in an empty room and watch tv?”

If you want to save trouble, a venue like an indoor playground would mean that you really only need to get the cake and everything else is settled for you by the venue, and for an all in price that is quite attractive as long as you do not require exclusive use of the playground. The rest of this post assumes a venue like a function room since the other services aren’t applicable for a venue that takes care of all the catering and entertainment.

 

2. Decoration

My go-to mode of decoration is to head to Etsy and purchase a set of party printables according to theme. I’ll print 1.5 inch circles on card stock and stick them on toothpicks to be placed on cupcakes and other desserts. Food labels are either made as food tents (a long rectangle folded into triangle that can stand) or mounted on binder clips tied with ribbons. This year I also cut out pony figurines printed on card stock, mounted them on triangular stands made of card stock and scattered them all over the food and dessert tables. Finally, a string of happy birthday flags in the party theme is a must.

A very important party decoration is balloons. Just regular helium balloons released on the ceiling with streaming ribbons can make a big impact. I also got a cluster of my little pony themed balloons this year but its the first time I got these cluster balloons and I must say in previous years they have never been missed so I may not get them again. I also got a set of my little pony table cloths and were going to get the backdrop pieces because the photo on the website was misleading. The tablecloth that was delivered looked nothing like the picture on the website and was completely unsuitable as a backdrop but on hindsight it may not be a bad thing because it protected the table from the clay paints. The aforementioned decoration materials were procured from Ministry of Party which delivered them promptly on the party day. I’ve already mentioned that the tablecloth delivered did not quite match the picture on their website and my request for balloon colours were not complied with but at the end of the day, they were functional and none of the kids knew that they were not what I had in mind, so not a huge disaster. The quality was decent.


3. Food

I wanted food that adults will enjoy and also did not really want the children to be eating junk food like chips. So I picked a just a regular caterer. Most caterers are quite bad but I feel Stamford Catering Service (under the Select Group) has good food at a reasonable price. I received many compliments for the food and usually do

I also typically organise some sort of dessert table whenever I can. Previously, I used to bake my own dessert table, killing myself for 2-3 days prior to the party and especially on the party day itself. It also restricts my party timing as I need most of the days to cook so the party needs to be later in the day rather than noon which is better for children once they drop their naps.

This year, I decided to outsource the dessert table too, but not completely to those service providers that design the entire dessert table as they usually fill up the table with useless candy items rather than baked goods and even then the table tends to be quite empty and gaudy. What I did was to order a variety of items from bakerhaven.com.sg. Best decision I’ve made ever. The price was very reasonable. I believe they are a wholesaler hence the affordable prices. They were very professional, calling to confirm my order and to ask whether I wanted the pies cut, how many slices etc. The leftovers that I brought to office received lots of compliments and for a few days thereafter, all the secretaries were browsing their website and ordering for Chinese New Year. I therefore only needed to make some caramel popcorn and mini cupcakes to add to the table and also added a large glass bowl of chips and bottles of water with the labels changed to that of the party theme. The one tip I have for creating dessert tables is to remember to get arrange things in different heights. The items at the front can be in plates, after that on cake stands or plates propped up with nicely wrapped up boxes, and behind that 3 tier stands, glass jars, large bowls, or tall birthday cakes. This will really make the table pop. Without this arrangement, however much decor you place on the table, it will still look flat and unimpressive. I didn’t do a very good job of the layering this year but you can see how, even with just a half hearted attempt, the tall parts at the back made a big difference. If I had gotten the pony backdrop to put behind the table and some cake stands or boxes to prop up some plates, it would have been even better.