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Diaper cakes

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

I’ve been crafting lately and it feels sooo good to create – for inspiration, I look to craft blogs, magazines, Pinterest and YouTube (tho I still can’t get the hang of crochet, no matter how many video tutorials I watch!)

Here are two diaper cakes I made recently:

 

Andrea's diaper cake

A pink dragon (Lamaze’s Sir Prance-a-lot) topper for my dragon god-daughter

 

Diaper Cake 2

The wooden toys from Melissa & Doug look like snakes but they’re a caterpillar

and a worm!

 

Ducky cake 2

Yellow and blue, rubber ducky themed cake for A’s sister’s baby shower.

Crystal-studded card that spells WOW too! 

 

Ducky cake 1

One of my favourite scenes: Ducky sitting in a pond (swim diaper) with his fishy friends (teether). 

While this is not an active business for now, I’d love the chance to make more. Email me at bcrumbs [at] gmail [dot] com to find out more about ordering.

(Thankful for friends who’ve allowed me to continue creating and trusting me with their orders – thanks A and W!)

Bye CK

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

When I was a newspaper reporter, death was just another thing. Sometimes, morbidly, it was a good thing. Dramatic murders mean page ones and possible exclusives, the very goals we silly journos chase. An unusual death may lead to a scoop. A visit to the coroner’s court may result in an award-winning story – in my case, it scored me a SOPA.

So, generally, we seem to be immune to it; we can, as they say, handle it. But when it happens to one of our own, the bitter reality is, death is damn hard to accept.

CK, we weren’t close, but we had some great laughs and fun times on the job. Thanks for your company in court and in the newsroom. RIP.

Sunday roast (Le Creuset testing)

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

So, I went for the sale of the long weekend, the Le Creuset family sale. So many people I know went (and so many people they knew went too) and bought lots. So many people, including yours truly, went back at least once and bought some more!

(I went back specifically for the tagine, which I couldn’t make up my mine about on my first visit. The purchase was finally aided by us watching a fantastic travel-foodie docu on Fez in Morocco.)

The bargains were really very good. Take my new cocotte (22cm, Flame), which was originally going for $509. The price was reduced to $176. But that’s not the final price – take 20 per cent off! I ended up paying $140.80. Super sweet! :)

 

Sunday Roast in the making 281012

 From stove to oven

Still, I had to really think whether I needed it. Sure, it was a great deal – and I really, really love a deal – but I needed to make sure it has a role in my kitchen. So, partly to test it out, partly to justify its purchase and partly because we had the time, I made Sunday roast with a hunk of beef (can’t remember what cut, to be honest) I got from Mmmm!.

 

Sunday Roast 281012

 Yummy = medium-rare slice of beef with a dollop of grainy mustard

Blue Pyrex!

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

I have been on the lookout for blue Pyrex pieces and finally, I scored two very cute individual servers. :)

 
Blue Pyrex

Recipes: Granola master recipe

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

First time granola

 Homemade granola

I’ve been wanting to make my own granola for a while – I’ve never been able to find a brand of granola that I liked. Somehow, the supermarket options I’ve tried either weren’t robust enough or were overly sweet. Or they had ingredients I didn’t really fancy.

So, I googled and found a really simple recipe on Chubby Hubby. Below is my slightly modified version. Can I say I am so pleased with the result that I am not buying supermarket granola anymore?

Also, one of the best things about making your own granola is the ability to customise. Put in everything you like; forget about whatever you don’t. The recipe below is a master recipe, so more, or different, ingredients can be added to it. This recipe makes slightly sticky granola – if a drier version is desired, add more ingredients or reduce the amount of olive oil or honey/maple syrup. Sesame seeds can be added in place of chia seeds. Or try cranberries instead of raisins! I put some Goji berries in mine too :)

 

Granola Master Recipe

INGREDIENTS
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds (or other nut)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
Half cup honey or maple syrup
Half cup olive oil
Half cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Raisins
Chia seeds

METHOD
1. Pre-heat oven to 150 degree C. Line a flat baking sheet/shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
2. In a big bowl, mix rolled oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, salt and brown sugar together.
3. Add honey/maple syrup and olive oil. Mix well.
4. Spread mixture in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 60 minutes or until mixture is caramelised and has the consistency/dryness you desire. During baking, mix and spread the granola around every 15 minutes.
5. When baking is done, let granola cool completely. Mix in raisins and chia seeds. Store in an airtight container.

 

Have baby, will travel

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

I first wrote about travelling with C two months ago. I expanded on that and wrote a piece for a travel magazine (which I edit):

Have baby, will travel

Planes and infants don’t mix. Long distance travel and a baby? Never the twain shall meet. Better stick to home ground until the little one learns to walk – about a year, at the earliest. And don’t even get started on any misguided notion of a relaxing holiday if you’re a new parent.

Those were the warnings from friends and family when they found out I was pregnant with my son, now six months old. I was devastated. My husband and I travel at least four times a year outside of work, usually taking short trips up north to Malaysia or to countries in the region. So, in that respect, having a baby sounded like a jail sentence.

Well, all I can say now – after travelling twice with our son – is, “Thank God for our stubborn streaks”. The day after he turned three months, we took a 13-hour flight for a two-week vacation in London and Paris. When he turned five months recently, we drove six hours up to a resort in east Malaysia, where we stayed several days before making a four-hour drive to stay with family in Kuala Lumpur.

There are some sweet benefits when travelling with a baby, with some of it starting during pregnancy. For the record, it’s no walk in the park either (baby jetlag, anyone?), but then, parenthood never was, or ever will be.

Please go first

But back to the benefits: I found that people are friendlier and generally, nicer, when there’s an infant around. Yes, even one who was still in utero. When I was seven months pregnant, we took a babymoon – a last hurrah as a couple, if you will, before the family unit expanded – to Bali. For the flight back, I was wearing something loose that probably made me look fat instead of pregnant – borderline pregnant, at best. You know, one of those times where it could have gone either way. Feeling tired and faced with a long queue to board, I jutted out my belly and as if by magic, the sea (of people) parted and the man in charge of the queue let me go first. Everyone moved aside willingly, and to my pleasant surprise, some even with a smile. Hey, I could get used to this, I thought.

And I think I really am getting used to it. During our recent trips, I’ve gone ahead in toilet queues – including once without baby, on the plane, because the person in front of me had been charmed by the little one previously (so handy, this child) – in supermarket queues, and at the hotel check-in counter. Surely an upgrade is just around the corner.

Travelling with a baby also allows for some unique, and authentic, experiences. In London – on the train, in shops and even on the streets – we struck up lovely conversations with random people who were initially just playing with the little one. He was mostly in a body carrier, facing forward. Thanks to him, we got to know the city better, and gained quite a treasure trove of insider tips to eat and shop like a local.

No baby, no special

Contrast our London experience with Paris, which we visited sans baby as my relatives in London had kindly agreed to babysit for a few days. At the Louvre, we had to forgo riding on a unique circular, open-plan elevator that was open only to those in wheelchairs or pushing prams. Not a big deal, but it would have given us a different vantage point and well, simply a novel experience.

Needless to say, we didn’t go first in any queue in Paris. In fact, faced with at least 400 people ahead of us at the Eiffel Tower, we chose to take the stairs instead – yes, we felt quite sore the next day.

I would offer some tips on flying or travelling with an infant but honestly, we just sort of winged it. The only things I made doubly sure I did was to bring more than enough sterilised milk bottles (seven) and formula, make sure he had a pacifier (or three) during flights to ease potential pressure problems, and pack his favourite toys.

So, there is life – and adventures – to be had post-birth, after all. For all you new parents out there, I wish you, and your baby, happy journeys ahead.

An affogato and a pretty book

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

 

Affogato

Didn’t have much time to spare for myself over the past weekend but I did take a half hour to relax. With a homemade affogato (Nespresso Kazaar base topped with a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Caramel Biscuit and Cream) and a pretty book (awesome food blogger Beatrice Peltre’s first tome La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life).

Sick baby

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

First hospital stay 260912

Yay! Getting discharged soon!

The little one spent some time in hospital last week – the wheezing which he has been fighting for three months got really very bad last Monday night and he was admitted after we rushed him to A&E. Thankfully, he is now all good and his lungs are completely clear. Hurray!

(J and I, however, aren’t feeling so great. We’re exhausted and on the brink of a hospital stay ourselves. But we try not to think about it too much. Hopefully, we’ll be able to catch up with life this coming weekend.)

 

P/s: If you haven’t got health/hospital insurance, please can I suggest that you seriously consider it? C’s bill came up to about $5K – we are so glad we have insurance for him, and very relieved that partly because of that, we were able to give him the best care without worrying about the cost.

 

Recipes: Caprese salad

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

I love salads and the Caprese ranks up there among my favourites. It’s so easy to make too. Here’s my version, which I made for one of our dinners last week. Use the best olive oil you can find (extra virgin and cold-pressed). And make sure your tomatoes and cheese are fresh from the fridge – nice and cold. Lastly, I used basil leaves from my plant at home and I think that made it extra special :)

 
Caprese salad

Caprese salad

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
12 baby tomatoes
8 baby mozzarella balls
Extra virgin olive oil
Bunch of basil
Cracked black pepper, sea salt (I use Maldon flakes)

METHOD
1. Wash baby tomatoes and cut into halves. Cut mozzarella balls into halves too.
2. Place on plate. Scatter basil leaves, washed and dried, on top; you can tear them up if you like.
3. Drizzle olive oil over the dish, and season with cracked black pepper and sea salt.

 

Pyrex love

Originally published at breadcrumbss. Please leave any comments there.

Pyrex friendship refrigerator

Friendship (1970s) refrigerator dish

My love affair with vintage Pyrex started with this piece above, picked up from a vintage furniture seller we had gone to for our mid-century sofa. I thought, at the time, that it’s a nice cheap-ish piece that will be useful in the kitchen. I kept thinking about the other pieces from the same range that I left behind. After one night, two nights, then three nights… I went back for the other two pieces. I had to.

 

Pyrex friendship

 Friendship (1970s) Cinderella round casseroles (top two) and a solid yellow (1940s-1960s) refrigerator dish

And as you probably can guess by now, those acquisitions were the start of my ever-growing Pyrex collection. While I don’t consider them to be investments per se, they do have value, with rare pieces or designs fetching quite a handsome sum. Just in July this year, a small piece fetched a record US$662 on eBay. That auction, for the very rare Lucky In Love casserole, ended on July 5 – the day after the US Independence Day. So, it definitely didn’t reach its full potential, with people on holiday or simply busy making merry. I don’t spend too much on my pieces and try to be discerning with my picks. To date, the most I’ve spent is $100 for a three piece set that’s brand new and unused (kept in box for over 30 years by the seller), and the least I’ve forked out is $13 for a large casserole in mint condition (as good as new).

 

Pyrex mixing bowls

Top: Butterfly Gold (1960s-19702s) nesting bowls 
Bottom: Spring Blossom Green (1970s) nesting bowls

J is quite supportive of this hobby as he benefits from it – I cook, serve and store (carefully) using my Pyrex pieces. When not in use, these ones above are displayed in the living room, together with others not pictured here.

Currently, while trying to complete my collection of Friendship – I’ve been pretty unsuccessful so far as this pattern, I suspect, is pretty rare in Singapore – I am also on the lookout for pink and blue pieces. Any pink or blue piece, or even pink or blue designs on white. Let me know if you come across any ok? I will be very, very grateful.