Mother’s Day Feature: My Interview with The New Age Parents

The editors of the online parenting magazine, The New Age Parents, kindly featured me on the Mother’s Day lineup as one of ‘10 Mummy Bloggers We Love‘. I did an interview with them as well.

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The questions got me thinking about how I felt when I started penning my thoughts on the blog, and they jolted bittersweet memories that I had of life in London back then. It’s amazing how the blog has evolved with changes in my life, moving back to Singapore, becoming a mother…I don’t think I qualify as a ‘Mummy Blogger’ per se, as the blog is still a mish-mash of things and people who matter very much to me, but yes, my daughter is a large part of my life now, and that invariably means that I yak way too much about her over here (sorry to all the foodies who used to follow me, I don’t cook or bake or photograph food as much now due to the lack of time…and energy).

I’ve also noticed that my writing has taken on a less sprightly (read: YOUTHFUL) tone, and is more reflective and solemn. But one thing remains, I still tell it as it is. I don’t want to get out there and say I LOVE BEING A MOTHER ALL THE TIME, or OH LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM ALL THE TIME, because the truth is there is no such thing as ALL THE TIME. Everything is fleeting – joy, sadness, fights, tender moments, kid not sleeping, kid finally eating – EVERYTHING. So, even though I don’t fill this space with the most beautiful pictures, the most well-written stories, and the most positive of outlooks, I thank all those who have stopped by and said hello, those who didn’t mind the occasional melancholy or sporadic bitchiness, those who have told me that I am not alone in feeling a certain way when something happens. and those who have extended their friendship and invited me into their lives.

Here’s to keeping it real!

Oh! And here’s my interview with the good people of The New Age Parents. Don’t forget to check out the other Mummy Bloggers too!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! x

 

GIVEAWAY! Nigella Fresh Cookbook from The Groovy Giraffe + Review

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***GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** 

Thank you all for taking part in the giveaway! Congratulations to Kway Chap (we**********ap@yahoo.com.sg)! You have won a copy of the Nigella Fresh Cookbook. The Groovy Giraffe will be in touch with you shortly.

[SPONSORED POST*]These days, I’m all about cooking with ease. Any recipe that yields a healthy, delicious meal with minimal preparation is a winner in my books, as I am often running against time, and well, running after a toddler. That, or said toddler would most definitely be tugging on my clothes and koala-ing my legs when I’m cooking. Long gone are the days when I can move around the kitchen with the fluidity and grace of a skilled ballerina; tripping around a small person is more like it. Long gone are the days when I actually relish in the therapeutic benefits of whipping up a lovely meal; my aim is to get the meals out RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Years ago, moving to London had me acquainted with a slew of celebrity chefs, and a whole variety of ingredients and cooking techniques that I was not familiar with when I was living in Singapore. Till this day, two of these chefs, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, remain my favourite, simply because these two Brits make cooking look ridiculously easy and infinitely enjoyable. I’ve bought a couple of their cookbooks and I can attest to how right they are in the philosophy of cooking; it doesn’t help that their recipes are, well, recipes for success! I love Nigella, in particular, for her shortcuts that yield beautiful results. One of my favourite recipes has got to be for her Puff Pastry, which gives gorgeous, flaky, golden layers of buttery goodness using a…food processor (I used this to make the pastry for my Portuguese egg tarts)! I’ve not looked back since.

Sure, Nigella isn’t shy with ingredients that would make the health buff cringe, but her cookbooks burst with a large repertoire of healthy, wholesome dishes too! I love the recipes in Nigella Fresh; as I pored through the ingredient lists, my tastebuds were tingling with the freshness of spring and summer. All the herbs, vegetables and different cuts of meats used, sat with me very well. And then, we have the delectable desserts, what’s not to like? That woman knows her desserts pretty well!

To review the cookbook gifted to me by The Groovy Giraffe, I put two recipes to the test. I whipped this up while Faith was in preschool during a weekday morning, and voila, they were much too easy and too delicious, and healthy to boot! I’ve got to be honest though, that I didn’t follow the recipes to a T. I used to be a stickler for recipes and proportions, having been trained as a scientist for many years, but being married to a man who is a superbly easygoing cook has somewhat reduced my anal retentiveness. These days, I look up recipes, more for inspiration on flavour and textural combinations, to learn about new cooking techniques and ingredients, than to grapple with what it means to add ‘a handful of coriander leaves’. So for the purpose of this review, I took the flavour suggestions onboard (roasted eggplant and feta cheese with chilli is YUM), and improvised the recipes with whatever ingredients I could find at home. The proportions were tweaked according to my personal preferences for saltiness, etc.

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Here’s what I cooked up. Saffron-scented Chicken Pilaf and Grilled Eggplant with Feta, Mint and Chilli. I replaced basmati rice in the former with quinoa, which is a staple in my pantry, and used olive oil in place of peanut oil as that’s what I have at home. I left out the cardamom pods as I didn’t have that in the kitchen, and omitted cashews and pistachios because M is mildly sensitive to them. For the grilled eggplant, I seared the slices on a stove-top griddle for the beautiful markings, and threw them in the oven till they were deliciously golden and caramelised. The proportions of feta, chill and mint used for the filling were ‘guess-timated’.

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Both dishes were such a tease on the palette. The pilaf was very more-ish and the yogurt-marinated chicken cubes were very tender! The grilled eggplant (one of my fave dishes ever) is beautifully caramelised, tastes almost like (very flavourful!) meat, and went well with the salty, yet refreshing feta, mint and chilli filling. It was all very Mediterrenean and very summer-ish, which I love! Perfect for a delightful, nourishing, yet quick, lunch!

If you are responsible for feeding the family, and are time-starved, I would strongly recommend you to get hold of a copy of the Nigella Fresh cookbook. The recipes are simple and perfect for noobs and seasoned cooks alike, and the dishes are guaranteed to be bursting with flavours from the different ingredients (some pairings are more unusual than others in our part of the world, but I reckon they work, based on similar flavour combinations I have sampled in restaurants in London). The Groovy Giraffe sells this (only S$14.90!), and other cookbooks, at a fraction of the retail price, go get them before they run out! Alternatively, you could enter the giveaway (open to those in Singapore) below!

GIVEAWAY: One copy of the Nigella Fresh Cookbook from The Groovy Giraffe

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!
You can earn extra entries by repeating certain steps on another day, so don’t forget to check back to get more lots in the draw!

Terms & Conditions: The winner is to collect the prize at The Groovy Giraffe office (Everton Park) or pay S$5.00 for shipping. There will be no exchange of books or conversion to store credits. The winner will be contacted by The Groovy Giraffe.

*I was gifted one copy of Nigella Fresh cookbook for my personal use and another copy will be given to a lucky reader after the giveaway ends. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

You can now shop online at The Groovy Giraffe!

Like The Groovy Giraffe on Facebook to be updated on promotions and what’s-what in-store!

A Letter From Me to You, You and You

Dear {You},

{Papa and Mama}, I know I was a mess in the early months of motherhood. Sometimes, I still am. I cannot even begin to tell you both how thankful I am for you, for someone like me to have you as my dear parents. If not for you, I wouldn’t know what love is. If not for you, I wouldn’t have survived being an absolutely clueless mother to Faith. If not for you, I wouldn’t know what sacrifice means. Both of you are unconditional love personified. I can only wish that I am capable of giving Faith half the love and care that both of you have given me. Thank you for showing me what it takes to be a parent, and more. Faith is infinitely blessed to have Ah Gong and Ah Ma in her life.

{M}, I want to thank you for being such a strong pillar in my life. It’s tough to be the sole breadwinner and yet, you have been completely supportive on my wish to be a stay-at-home-mum. You have not once frowned upon my decision of giving up years of postgraduate education and good salary for this (even when I felt torn apart), and you have never griped about making ends meet on your own. You work so hard to provide the best for Faith and me, to the extent of neglecting your own well-being and giving up little luxuries for yourself, that it pains me to watch you live the consequences of my decision. I’m so, so sorry that I have not said this to you sooner, but you are my hero.

Sometimes, I can’t believe how blessed I am to have fallen in love with you, to be loved by you. I’m far from perfect, as a wife, as a mother, as a human being. But you, you, step in selflessly to make up for what I cannot do, and you have never ever judged me to be a lesser person just because I failed to rise to the occasion. How is it that I deserve such a wonderful man like you? I’ll never know, but I promise you that I’ll try to be better, because you make me want to be better.

Thank you for helping me to be the best mother I can to our child.

{Faith}, you are the greatest little person to Mama. I haven’t learnt as much from school as I did from you. You taught me to be patient, to be loving, to see the best in the most trying circumstances, to marvel at the tiniest miracles that I took for granted before you came along.

What really astounds me is how strong you are. You have been ill for three weeks. Yesterday, I watched you throw up helplessly and you cried as though you were in pain. I reckon you were frightened, but you stopped crying and started dancing the minute I cleaned you up; it was as if nothing had happened. In that instance, I thought about how I would curl up in bed, overwhelmed with self-pity and lethargy, had I been struck with bouts of high fever, hacking coughs and the vomitting bug. I felt ashamed and inspired at the same time, because you are but 20 months old, yet, you are so much more resilient than Mama. You make me want to be much more than I am, so that I can love you the best way I know how.

Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your mother, to learn from you, to look at the world through your eyes, to share with you, and to watch you grow.

(My brother, sister and friends}, I wouldn’t be a mother, if not for you. Thank you for helping me with Faith when I try to gobble down my lunch. Thank you for wiping away my tears when I feel defeated with the challenges of motherhood. Thank you for taking me out for dinner, even though I turned you down a million times before that because I couldn’t get away from parenting duties or was just too darn tired to head out. Thank you for not being mad at me when I run off to chase my toddler midway through a conversation. Thank you for telling me that it’s okay to not be okay. Thank you for sticking around and keeping my head above the water. Thank you for sharing my joy as a parent, even though I may babble on too much about Faith and annoy the hell out of you. You know who you are.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I can see why they say that now, so…Happy Mother’s Day to one and all, because I don’t think this day is possible without you, you and you.

Love,
Your daughter, wife, sister and friend

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Married Life Blooper #3: The Tale of Four Butt Cheeks

M and I were about to turn in for the night, after a particularly drawn-out and tiring day. As he hoisted the duvet  up to his neck, and snuggled under the covers, he mumbled, ‘Do you know that I love you very much?’

And I, being all manja, asked him the question that most men feared.

Me: Will you still love me when I grow fat?

M (half-asleep): I love you, no matter what.

Me: Even with the face of a char siew bao?

M (still half-asleep): Yes, of course.

Me: Even when I have four butt cheeks?

M (jolted awake): FOUR butt cheeks?!

Me: Yes, four.

M: Why would there be four? Where would the extra two cheeks be?

Me (*rolls eyes* not that M could see them in the dark): Underneath the first two, LAH!

M: *BURSTS INTO LAUGHTER*

Me: …

The shit we say.

The Way I Say I Love You

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I am not one who tends to be all loving and gregarious and warm in person, mostly because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing. Often, I fumble for words and end up not telling someone how I feel because I spend too much time thinking about whether I would overwhelm people, or hurt someone, or generally freak people out with my weirdness. So if you have met me in person, you would know that I hardly initiate conversations and I mostly respond to people only when asked to, well, respond. I prefer to sit back and listen, than to fire away and be the life of the party. Yes, I am usually that quiet, aloof oddball, especially in a group of people. (But I have improved substantially since I got to know M, because his confidence in speaking up has rubbed off a little on me, which explains why I am a little less awkward these days, especially when I meet people one-on-one.)

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I do, however, love to write. Feelings can take the form of handwritten letters, emails, post-its, messages, even blog posts, and I word and offer them more freely and unabashedly, than if I were to communicate them in person. I love that I can write my thoughts down without having people scrutinise my facial expressions or my tightly wrung hands. The time alone with my pen and paper, or even the phone, is void of distraction, and that allows me to be…free.

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There are, however, certain things that can, and should only be said to someone when you look at him or her in the eye. A heartfelt letter, or a simple note by the lunch bag works, but shouldn’t we all try to tell that special people in our lives that we love them, in person? I know that I don’t tell people that I love them as often as I should. I don’t say it to my parents, or my siblings, whom I love with all my life. I sneak it in, when my husband and I are all tucked into bed, after we turn out the lights, because I’m too shy to look at him in the eye. I sneak it in, when I gaze at his profile as he watches the telly, because I know in the split second of words tumbling out of my mouth, he would be too distracted to glance at me before I hastily look away in embarrassment. The only person whom I consistently say it to has got to be Faith, who is far too young to be all weirded out by her Mama’s profuse declaration of love for her.

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But I can say it with cake. And I love to say it with cake. It starts with what I know about the likes and dislikes of that special someone, and branches out into ideas on flavours and textures that he or she would love. It then grows with days of labouring over the stove and the oven, hunching over the cake as I try my best to make it look nice, battling with the humidity and often, my daughter who pleads for my attention every two seconds. And then the moment comes, when the birthday song is sung, the candles are blown out and the cake is cut. My special someone tucks in and exclaims, ‘This is amazing!’ and I pretend to be busy with brushing non-existent crumbs from the table. That moment is perfect because I have said I love you in the biggest and smallest way possible, and no one gets weirded out. I get to retreat to my little oddball corner and feel like I have gone all out to say I love you with a slice of homemade cake.

And this was the case for my husband’s birthday this year. I don’t earn a salary, and I don’t do much other than take care of my family’s needs. I didn’t and couldn’t get him a present (it would really come out of his pocket, rather than my own…), and the only thing that I could do was to really think about what he loves, come up with flavours to surprise him, and get down to making him a cake that I hope he would adore. I don’t know if he was just trying to make me happy by saying that he loved the cake, but I was glad that he appreciated my efforts. I was glad that I made it, a Toasted Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Italian Meringue Buttercream. I was glad that he knows that I love him…and that’s all that matters.

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I love you, darling.

 

And We Finally Get A Little Crafty

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I have long resisted the temptation to start crafting with Faith, as I am terribly afraid of mess. Having handed her Crayola washable markers a few weeks ago, and witnessed her drawing on just about every surface she could get her hands on (accidentally or not), I decided to ditch any arty-farty plans in the near future.

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One of these do not belong to the others

But you know, it IS the Easter weekend, and M had grand plans to cook up a hearty English breakfast this morning. I took a deep breath, drilled holes into four eggs, emptied their contents into a bowl of gorgeous sunsets that would be turned into perfectly scrumptious scrambled eggs. There, there, nothing was wasted because Faith and I had a blast decorating the shells!

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Mama finally had time to play with her barely-used set of watercolour paints (oh joy!), and Faith…scribbled on the egg, whilst exclaiming ‘Teh-Shoo!’ (tissue) or ‘Kah-yuh’ (colour). She was trying to figure out if she should have her hands, which are covered in marker ink, cleaned, or to just go wild with the egg. Well, whatever works. As long as I could tease the colours into being onto the shells, as long as we have pretty eggs lying around the house for us to tell the story of Life.

Happy Easter, to those who celebrate!