Friday, January 30, 2015

Honey Miso Chicken Wings

When you try a brand new recipe for the first time, it’s hard not to have mixed feelings. Firstly, you’re not sure how well it will turn out, or taste. And then there’s the question of reception. Will the family like it? Will this dish take a permanent place in the list of family must-haves?

Yesterday, I tried a new dish while having those exact feelings. The kids seemed to know I was doing something special; their sixth senses can be uncanny at times. That gave me more jitters. The greatest satisfaction was to have them like the new dish. No, not just like, but love it.  And boy, love it they did! Their verdict? They absolutely loved it, and wanted me to cook it again. Ahhh… the feeling of achievement couldn’t be more wonderful.

So what did I whip up? Honey Miso Chicken Wings, inspired by The Domestic Goddess Wannabe’s Garlic Miso Chicken

It was such a success, I just had to share it here.

Honey Miso Chicken Wings

Honey Miso Chicken Wings
Makes 10

10 chicken wings
3 tablespoons miso (I used organic white miso)
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon water

1. Wash and clean the chicken wings.
2. Mix the miso and minced garlic in a bowl. 
3. Rub 2/3 of the miso mixture on to the chicken.
4. Place the chicken wings into a container to marinate in the fridge. Marinate for as long as possible.
5. With the remaining miso mixture, add 2 tablespoons honey, light soy sauce and water. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
6. About 2 to 3 hours before cooking, add the honey miso mixture to the chicken wings and place them back into the fridge.
7. Just before cooking, line a baking tray with aluminum foil, and preheat the oven at 200°C. Arrange the chicken on the foil.
8. Bake the chicken for about 20 to 25 minutes. 
9. Glaze the chicken with the remaining honey, and put it back into the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Do keep a close eye.
10. The chicken wings are ready once they turn golden.

We had our chicken wings with rice and Baby Bak Choy with vermicelli soup. But really, it’s good with everything. I’m sure kids, and adults, will keep asking for it over and over again. 

Yes, I’m super proud of myself. You would too, if something you cooked for the first time met with such overwhelming response.


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

15 in 2015: What I'm going to do differently

Everyone talks about making resolutions at the start of each new year. To be honest, I've never been one to make resolutions, because I know I will have difficulty keeping to them. When Rachel of catchfortywinks initiated this 15 in 2015 blog train, I decided to take up the challenge. Rather than just resolutions, unrealistic goals that I know I most likely will not keep, this blog train challenges me to think about the ‘how’. What practical, positive changes can I make to my and my family’s lives? How will I do things differently?

The one hope that I have is for me and my family to be happy and healthy. These two words are the inspiration for the 15 things I want to do differently this year.

A happy & healthy me
Look after myself more
Eat more healthily - even more greens and fruits and less carbohydrates. Do more facial masks... when the kids are asleep. Do not forget to put sun block before going out. A mum of two doesn't have to look frumpy.

More yoga and swimming
Since the birth of AA, my exercise routine has been quite dreadful. Last year, I started a daily routine of yoga at home, plus a weekly visit to a yoga studio or a run. But my accident changed all that. I've not been moving, except for the physiotherapy exercises and I am feeling sluggish. I have to get moving, and I'm glad to say that the doctor just gave me the go ahead to do some light yoga and swimming. Yey!! Water here I come!

Less bubble tea
Ah... This is my one major weakness. I like to indulge in bubble tea. Sure, I may order the less sweet Honey Green Tea, opting for other toppings like jelly instead of pearl. However, it's still loads of calories, and it's impeccable that I cut down, if I want to be more healthy. Pronto!

Read more
Most of my time has been devoted to EV and AA, and most of the reading I do is to the both of them. Indulging in my own reading has been quite rare. I need to change that and try to read at least one novel a month. Move aside picture books!

Read more

Write more
I don't just mean blogging. I also mean writing creatively for myself, like poetry, which I used to write quite a bit.

Blog more from the heart
I noticed recently that I've been blogging more from the heart, sharing more of my life as a woman and a parent. I intend to continue this. This also means that I'll be more selective of the reviews I do, which is fine by me, for that's what my blog is about, me and my parenting journey. 

Be more on task 
Sometimes, I suffer from writer’s block (alternative interpretation: procrastinate). Well.. More than sometimes. I need to change that. Like for the past week, I did have a few blog posts to do, such as this 15 in 2015 post, but I've been sitting on my laurels and not doing them till I absolutely have to. I guess I haven't had the inspiration to write, as I was depressed by my grandmummy's stroke and also news of a friend's sudden passing. The realization that life is so fragile and unpredictable hit me, and I was too emotionally drained to even start writing. I still am, because grandmummy remains in a coma. I kept putting it off. Still, giving myself a kick in the back and writing this very post that I’ve committed to is helping me bring my brain juice back. I just need to be a bit more inspired and determined to be on task.

Have more me time with friends
I need to catch up with friends more, to join them for a drink or two in the evenings, or brunch on the weekends. Once in one or to months would be just right for me.

A happy & healthy hubby + me
Go for more dinner dates
Having two kids has zapped our energy. Usually, our dates involve a late night movie with hot dogs and drinks, when the kids are asleep. We need to have more dinner dates, have more romance, to chat and hold hands and look into each other's eyes. Even if it's just fast food. So it's a date dear?

Update our three-year family budget more regularly
We have a budget file that allows us to look ahead at our expected financial commitments for the current year and the next two years. Previously, I would update only at the beginning or end of the year. This year, I need to update it more regularly, so that we have a better financial picture, and will be able to plan better, and hopefully save more efficiently.

Try more yummy dishes
Hubby loves to eat, especially new and unique dishes. I intend to experiment more and try more new healthy dishes so that he gets to enjoy them after a hard day at work. I was never a good cook to begin with, though I can whip a couple of Cantonese/Teochew/Shanghainese dishes taught by my mum. So this will be rather a challenge to me. I need to also ensure that they are healthy for the kids to enjoy. Plus, simple enough so they are quick to prepare and cook.

Happy & healthy kids + me
More visits to the library
We don't go to the library often enough, and this should definitely be done differently. What we do now is to gather all the library cards that we can have access to, and borrow heaps of books at one go. But at the rate that EV and AA devour them, we need to add more trips. It's good for me too, as I can borrow more books for myself and read more.

Be home by 5pm everyday 
Ok, this is going to be a tough one for a full-time working mother, but never say never. Where possible, if there are no meetings or additional activities, I need to be home by 5pm, so that I can devote time to do home learning with EV and AA. Or just playing games and being silly. They will not be 5 and 3 years forever.

Explore more themes
Our home learning has been rather ad hoc, basically simple subject-focused activities. It's time to up the notch. Last year, we tried a theme-based study on farms, and created a cardboard farm. The kids loved it. So this year, as the focus turns to themes, there needs to be a bit more planning and preparation. One theme I'm planning for this year is earth. After that, based on what they learn about earth, we can move on to something that the kids choose.

Disconnect to connect
I already avoid using mobile devices as much as possible when I'm with the kids, but I think I can do more. This means less checking of Facebook and Instagram when the kids are around. It also means even more opportunities to do fun and relaxing things as a family, like going to the seaside to watch the boats go by which we absolutely enjoy. More perfect days like this please!

Disconnect to connect

So there! My list of 15 in 2015. Looks like a lot, but I'm sure if I take teeny tiny steps, I'll get there. Jia you!

Do you have 15 things you want to do differently in 2015?

Read how 33 other Singapore Mom Bloggers are doing things differently and be inspired to make positive changes in yours and your families' lives.

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Next on the ’15 Things I will Do Differently in 2015′ Blog Train will be Dominique of Dominique’s Desk.

Dominique Goh, full time blogger and mom to three. She blogs about her passions and interests in education, parenting and photography over at Dominique's Desk


Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Huawei Ascend Mate 7

{Advertorial Feature}

I remember the days when I was a tech journalist. In some ways, I'm a gadget geek, the type who would get extremely excited every time I lay my hands on the latest gadget. It's been a long time since I had that feeling. So imagine my excitement when I received the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 for this feature. It was nice to get that old feeling back again. 

First impressions
Smartphone designs are getting more and more impressive, and the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is definitely one that catches attention from the onset. It comes in a black box with slim embossed letters. Nice and sleek. It is a precursor to how stylishly designed the actual phone is. And I must say, I was rather impressed by it. Extremely slim (how slim? We’ll get to that in a moment.), extremely appealing, looks set to be a smartphone with heaps of promises. Beyond the first impressions, how exactly does the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 help a busy mum? 

Huawei 1

5 ways how Huawei helps a busy mum

More space for parenting (and child) necessities
It measures only 7.9mm, so it’s extremely thin. As can be seen in the picture below, it fits right into the box set of books. Yet, it’s smaller than a Peter & Jane Key Words book, which makes it an easy fit into most bags and pockets, leaving sufficient space to put other stuff, such as kids’ toys or notebooks and colour pencils. The Ascend Mate 7 also doesn’t weigh anyone or anything down, since it only tips the scales at 185g. That’s even lighter than a cup of water!

Huawei 2

Don’t you hate pop up messages like ‘Low battery 20%’? I do. Now this whole light and slim package that is the Ascend Mate 7 includes the 4100 mAh lithium polymer battery. Its Power-Saving feature allows one to customise how one wants to use the smartphone. There are three modes - Normal for maximum performance, especially when gaming and watching online videos, Smart for daily use and Ultra for basic call and message functions, useful when the battery is low. It shuts down the battery draining operations for extra battery life. Now that’s what I call intuitive.

Bigger screen and memory means more eye-popping images
The 6-inch screen almost fills most of the 157mm x 81mm (6.1inch x 3.1-inch) smartphone. In fact, 83% of the screen takes up the body. This makes it one of the biggest in the market. Its resolution is also on par with the rest, at 1920 x 1080 pixels, bringing higher contrast and more accurate colour to pictures of kids that are being shown off proudly to family and friends. There are lots of internal memory too, 16GB of it. Together with the option of inserting a MicroSD card, busy mums can take heaps of photos and videos before downloading them to a laptop.

It’s also possible to sneak in a video or two, when the kids are in dreamland. The Ascend Mate 7 is the first smartphone to be powered by a super eight-core Kiren 925 SoC chipset. Ok, sounds complex? Actually it’s not, Essentially, this processor enables the Ascend Mate 7 to be a super multitasker - manage work and parenting life, entertain the kids, record memories of the kids, and of course, entertain the parent. Together with the fast 4G LTE technology and a download rate of up to 300 Mbps, videos, even full-length movies, can be streamed without interruption.

Huawei 5

Powerful camera for snapping sharper images of beautiful kids
Which smartphone toting parent can resist snapping pictures of their little ones? Definitely not me! The 13-megapixel back camera is as good as any dedicated digital camera, while the 5-megapixel front camera has a panoramic feature that takes a ‘groufie’ shot without using a selfie stick. Snapping pictures of the funny antics of unpredictable kids at just the right time is no longer a ‘trial and error and hope for the best’ situation, thanks to the 1.2-second Ultra snapshot and Low-light Performance features. They instantly capture the right moment within a second, in whatever light conditions. So no worries about missing that precious moment!

Huawei 4

More accurate fingerprint security and less unwanted calls
This is one feature that I personally like. At the back of the smartphone is a fingerprint sensor that can read fingerprints in any direction and is incredibly accurate. It can be programmed to wake the smartphone from sleep mode without pressing any other buttons. As the fingerprint data is encrypted, sensitive applications and files can be locked and opened only using the fingerprint sensor. This means that I can keep my kids’ pictures away from prying eyes. Up to five fingerprints can be stored.

Another good feature is the Harassment Filter, which allows one to block messages and calls, and even blacklist certain contacts. This is really useful and handy in preventing unnecessary attention.

Huawei 3

Set clear profiles for work and family
Now this is quite useful for a mum, whether she is a full time working mum or stay at home mum. The Ascend Mate 7 enables different profiles to be customized and set according to their needs. A total of five different individual profiles can be set, according to the five stored fingerprints. So working mums like me can set up one for work-related apps and files, and another for family-related apps and files, and keep them absolutely separate. One can even set up separate profiles for the children, with age-appropriate educational apps and games.

Huawei 6

The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is indeed a very well-designed smartphone. Its various features make it a friendly and efficient device for parents who want outstanding images and trustworthy security yet do not want to compromise on style and functionality.

Disclaimer: This is a paid review feature. We received monetary compensation. All images are our own.


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Friday, January 02, 2015

2014 - a year to be thankful for

On the second day of 2015, on the day my little AA goes into pre-nursery and enters his older sister's school (oh, how he has grown), I'd like to take a few moments to reflect on what I'm thankful for in 2014.

My kids' health and happiness
Other than the occasional running nose, sore throat and the dreaded fever, nothing major has happened. Thank goodness. AA hasn’t had any relapse, and I pray with all my heart that it doesn’t ever come back. He’s gotten more playful, cheekier, and more vocal, just how a boy should be. EV has grown in heart and in mind, always looking out for her little brother. I love moments when they are playing peacefully with each other, and I equally love those moments when they ‘negotiate’ with each other in a more physical way. It tells me that they are kids having fun, learning about themselves and about the world along the way. Seeing them tells me that every sacrifice I make along the way as a mummy is all worth it.

My family
I’m thankful for a supportive family who never fails to rise to the occasion when my little family of four needs them. This is especially so in June and in the last two months. In June, my helper had to rush home to visit her ailing father, and the kids and I moved to my mum’s place. She helped to look after the kids. She ensured that we had well-balanced meals every day. She came to the rescue again two months ago when I got into a freaky accident. I needed some time to get used to being in a home environment after being discharged from the hospital, and to avoid having EV and AA jumping on my recently-operated leg. I moved back to my maternal home, and for those few days, she made sure that I was well looked after, attending to my needs because my movement was so restricted then. I’m thankful for my sister, who also made sure I got to the toilet safely in the middle of the night. And for my mother-in-law, who accompanied EV to her music classes every week since my accident. Thanks to these loving and supportive family, I was able to focus on recovery.

Most important of all, I’m thankful for my husband and soulmate. Without him, I think I would have crumbled by now. Immediately after the accident, in the ambulance, in the A&E, I managed to remain strong, to still logically answer the hospital staff’s questions. He rushed down to the hospital to visit me immediately after putting the kids to bed. I broke down immediately when I saw him. I was done being strong for the night, and all the frustration and fear and anguish and thoughts of ‘why me came flooding the moment I saw him. He is my pillar of support, and more during these trying two months. He has been bringing me too all my doctor and physiotherapist visits, and each time I break down whenever someone asks me to recount what happened to me, he is beside me, holding my hand, comforting me. Because my movements are so limited, he has been looking after EV and AA every night, putting them to sleep, rushing to comfort them when they have nightmares. I know he’s not having enough rest from looking after me and the kids, bringing them for their enrichment classes and going grocery shopping, because I can’t go, coupled with the heaps of stress that he’s getting from work. I’m grateful for him, and I hope that when I get better, when I can finally walk on my own two feet, things will be a lot easier.

My life
Yes, I’m thankful to be alive. I’m thankful that that freaky wheel only hit my thigh (amongst lots of other skin abrasions). Family and friends say that if the wheel had hit any higher, my injuries could have been more serious. So yes, I’m thankful, and grateful. Doesn’t mean that I don't get emotional  about it sometimes. At times, I still ask, why me? Why me when the other party can still walk around happily, leading a normal life, when I need to spend at least six months to get back to normal? Six precious months that could have been better spent, like bringing my kids out for adventures, like we always do during the holidays. My heart breaks when EV tells me that she misses going out with me. She understands when I explain to her. I’m thankful for an understanding daughter.

Despite the disappointment and frustration, I’m eternally thankful to be hobbling around, even though it’s on crutches. I’m breathing, I’m alive, and I can hold my two babies, husband and loves ones in my arms. That is something I will always treasure.

As I embark on 2015, I pray for a speedy recovery, that I can soon run and dance with my two babies, and for the health and happiness of all who are dear to me.

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