Monday, October 26, 2015

Fun activities and busy bag when flying with a toddler

Little J was merely 5 months old when he first flew. Our first flight experience with him was a disaster. A memorable disaster. He cried sooooo loud a lady came forward to offer kind tips to help us calm him down. Both hubby and I were doubting ourselves for ignoring our parents' advice of not bringing him on-board. 

From that moment on, I never bat an eye lid or even turn my head towards any crying baby or toddler in a plane, and I would frown whenever I hear any of my friends make nasty remarks about crying babies in plane. You'll never have the empathy for them, not until you become a parent. 

Now that J is turning 3 year old. I am proud to say I have no regrets ever, for making him an early flyer. Not only it gave both hubby and I more confidence as a parent, we have also had amazing memories and experiences flying with him all across the globe. Many friends reminded me that he will never remember much of the trip. Yes I KNOW THAT! But I would! 

Despite the fact that he's quite well-behaved in planes now, and he usually nap if the flight time is in between noon to 4pm, I still make tonnes of preparations ahead. I must also emphasize that we do not need to rely on ipads, smart phones or anything of that nature for him, as yet, which I guess, would explains the need of these busy bag activities. 

I know a lot of you will be travelling over the coming months, I decided to share some of my fun and educational activities that kept J happy on a few hours plane journey. 

A new toy wrapped in a present paper (so the fun begins from the anticipation and the present unwrapping stage) 

My brother bought him a new airplane kit by Emirates that came together with an airport mat. The mat were too big to lay on the tray table in the plane, so I folded it in half. The plane, the vehicles and the mat were no doubt his 'highlight' of the trip. 

I made the game more educational by making laminated nomenclature cards for all the vehicles found in the kit. It was definitely a fun one as they are all the vehicles seen in an airport. 

Laminated tracing cards, marker pen and pom-pom as eraser

Make a book

I designed this sticker and 'make-a-book' activity by using stickers by Melissa and Dough. One of its theme was animals, so I have prepared so that he will be making a book about the animals that he will see at a zoo. We were going to visit the Singapore Zoo, so it was definitely a great idea for him to have a brief overview of all the animals we would be seeing. I printed the animals name on the paper and upon seeing the names, he would look for the animal from the sticker pad and stick it on the correct page.

More sticker workbooks (info from here)

Alphabet road tracks and his favorite vehicles
Printables from Gift of Curiosity

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Salmon and Quinoa Pasta / Pie (Gluten free)

Salmon & Quinoa Pasta

It's been some time since I've last blogged about recipes for my toddler son. I think I have been less adventurous with recipes now and more occupied with his daily activities. Happikiddo had recently launched a contest searching for an all-time thumb-up recipe for our little cutie pies. I have decided to enter my son's favorite fish pie recipe into the contest. It's a very healthy and balanced meal as each serving alone meets the recommended vegetable intake for a child aged 1 to 4 years. In addition, I incorporate 'quinoa' the illustriously known supergrain in making the creamy pumpkin sauce for the fish pie. It is so creamily delicious no one would suspect it is actually this 'healthy'! At least my husband never suspected it. 

I am sure I have written or blogged about quinoa some time back, but there's no harm talking about this good stuff, as good stuff like this always need a gentle nudge. Quinoa (pronounced as 'keen-wah', is in fact not a grain, but a complete protein in the form of amino acids, in other words, they are very easy to digest and are essential for development and growth. If your diet lacks of protein eg fish, tofu or meat, then consider adding quinoa into your diet.

Quinoa for babies and kids 

Quinoa is hypoallergenic (less likely to cause an allergy), thus making it suitable for young infants. Quinoa may be introduced to baby from 8 months onwards although many babies do tolerate it prior to 8 months. This nutritious-dense ingredient makes a great addition to your little one's diet and it is very versatile. You can cook and serve it as puree, or congee (porridge) or in this case, a creamy sauce. It is packed with fiber, calcium, iron and folate, making it a great option for parents who find it tough to get their kids to eat vegetables.

I have made this creamy quinoa and pumpkin sauce many times and have served it with mashed potato topping (as salmon & quinoa pie - somehow the presentation makes the entire dish very attractive to a little kid), or pasta or even rice.

There is no need to add thickener like cornflour to thicken it up as the addition of quinoa turns it into a perfect consistency, somewhere between a creamy soup and a sauce.

If you like this healthy and delicious recipe, kindly give me a LIKE on the following facebook photo link. Huge thank you in advanced.

Here's my recipe for my salmon, quinoa and pumpkin sauce
(By all means, replace salmon with other fish or meat)

  • 150g salmon, cubed 
  • 1/2 small onion, cubed
  • 100g pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed 
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed 
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable stock, homemade 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 knob of butter / grapeseed oil to pan fry the garlic and fish 
  1. Steam-cook cubed onion, pumpkin, and quinoa in a pot / rice cooker with the vegetable cook (about 20 minutes). Once cooked, transfer all to a blender, pulse for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce turns creamy. Set aside. 
  2. In a frying pan, heat up butter or oil. Stir in finely minced garlic and sautee till fragrant. Stir in cubed salmon. Cook for about 2 min. 
  3. Pour in creamy pumpkin and quinoa sauce. Simmer for another 2-5 min. 
  4. Serve with mashed potato, pasta or rice. 
To make the salmon and quinoa pie: 
Boil potato till tender. Mash with salt or pepper (optional) and butter, milk and cheese. 

To assemble the pie, divide the salmon and quinoa pumpkin sauce between 3 ramekin dishes. Top with mashed potato. To achieve a nice golden color, brush top of pie with beaten egg mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 180deg C for 10 to 20 min. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Crafts for tots: Moon and mid-autumn festivals

It's mid-autumn festival soon! It occurs on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month each year. It is also known as the “Moon Festival” as it is observed during a bright, full moon. Other than lantern, we have also done a couple of crafts for this upcoming festive celebrations, I love these crafts, they are such a pleasure to the eyes. J and I had done so many beautiful (they are probably just beautiful in our eyes, LOL) crafts I am having problem to store / frame them. Space issue. Still good issue nontheless. 

Highly recommended reads this month: 

  1. Papa please get the moon for me by Eric Carle
  2. A taste of the moon by Michael Grejniec
  3. Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Acsh 

Moon and star craft
We did this one a month back when we were reading 'a Taste of the Moon' by Michael Grejniec. Refer here for its detailed instructions. 

Last few days, these are the ones we have done. 

Moon Craft

Refer here for instructions. This was my favorite. 

Mid-autumn festival craft 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

DIY String Lantern / Owl Lantern

It's mid-autumn festival next week.Over here where we are, it is an occasion for reunion among friends and relatives to eat mooncakes and watch the moon. The 'chefs' at home would cook up storm to celebrate the mid-autumn festival. My favorite part of the festival is the carrying of brightly lit lanterns around the neighborhood with the other kids. This is again, another, brilliant opportunity for J to relive some of my fond childhood memories. 

Earlier this month, I have decided that this year, we'll be making J's first ever lantern. I thought we can easily have it settled with no more than 20 ringgit. It turned out that I eventually spent about 50 ringgit making this cutie lantern, but I'd also made two beautiful rustic and mystic looking lampshades out of it. So it wasn't too bad then. 

J is turning 3 next month. You know everytime I had my big Pablo Picasso's ideas and had our whole room laid out for our big projects, there'll be at least 2 or 3 that would squint their eyes, frowning and opposing at my "big" ideas. But there will always be one person, my buddy, my partner-in-crime, my supporter, my protege who'd stick with me, who'd be more than happy to be involved in our endeavors - my little J. He's such a positive person he exudes great energy and is such an encouragement in all the things we do (the qualities he'd probably gotten off his dad, these are actually the qualities that I should learn from him). We went to the stationary shop 10 minutes before the shop closed to top up our glue, he helped me prepare the glue mixture, he helped me reel out the yarn and was a great extra pair of hands as this is indeed a very messy project. It wasn't a difficult one, just messy! But we enjoyed it very much. I hope you would enjoy them as much as we did.

Here's my buddy, in charge of the glue mixture, so proud of him! 

You'll need: 
**I used three batches of the following recipe to coat 3 balloons, one small size and two mediums. 
  • Balloons, blown up to whatever size lantern you want to make, the bigger the balloon, the more oblong it becomes 
  • Hemp or cotton yarn (I used yarn, refer to pic above)
  • 60ML basic white glue (refer here for pic) 
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch 
  • 1/4 cup normal room temperature water
  • Vaselin (Instead of this, I used leftover lip gloss that is not usable or had gone past expiry date)
  • Clear, fast-drying spray paint (I did not use this)
  • Lantern light or white twinkle lights 
  1. Blow up balloon and hang so that its sides are not touching any areas. Remember to prepare work area by laying down old newspapers on floor. 
  2. Mix white glue, corn starch and water in container until all lumps are removed. Its consistency is like a thick creamy mushroom soup. 
  3. Smear vaseline (or used leftover lip gloss for my case) all over the balloon. Little J helped me out with this. 
  4. Dip the yarn into the glue mixture and twine all over the balloon. I had no drawings or instructions to follow to twine, just did it the way I liked them to be. 
  5. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours or until twine is completely rigid. 
  6. Pop the balloon and discard remnants. 
  7. Spray with a clear coat or spray paint (I opted-out this step). 

Friday, September 18, 2015

DIY dinosaur fossils with coffee dough

Setting the standard high for toddler's playtime 

Honestly, with activities as interesting as this, who'd still wanna spend time on ipad or any other digital devices? In fact, when I made this, I was adamant that I am setting the standard and expectation too high for a toddler's activity. I wasn't sure if I should let him go ahead or should I keep this game aside for later use. But later when? I guess I am worrying too much. Anyways, I cast aside the concern and let him go ahead with the game. As expected, he loved the 'panleontologist's work' of excavating and studying fossils. The next morning, he told me that he wants to do it all over again. Ermmmmmmm... 

Prior to this we have used salt dough for handprint ornaments, unfortunately, the dough turned out to be very brittle after baking and it never lasted for more than a day, they just broke apart too easily. So this time round, I was a little skeptical to start with, but I proceeded anyways, knowing that I wasn't gonna have these coffee salt dough fossils as keepsake, so I wouldn't feel too bad even if the dough, again, is a brittle and fragile one. Incredulously, the coffee dough was good!! It's been a day and a night, the fossils are still intact. In fact, the coffee dough was actually a good one to play with too, as it is not too messy nor too tacky, and is easily mould into shapes. I am making another fresh batch of coffee dough today, not to make fossils, but just to play with. 

To make this coffee dough, you'll need to have a small amount of coffee grounds. I went to a nearby cafe, bought a caffe latte and I asked if they'd kindly give me some of their used coffee grounds. They gladly offered me a big bag which can probably make at least 20kilos of coffee dough!! Hahaa.. bless them. 

Here's the recipe and instructions for the coffee dough and the dinosaur fossils: 
  • 3/4 cup of water (normal room temperature)
  • 1 cup of salt 
  • 1 cup of coffee ground 
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (I always use near or expired flour) 
This amount makes 3 stones containing dinosaur in them, and about 7-8 dinosaur fossils (see photos). 

  1. Combine all ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough. 
  2. Take a small handful of the dough and form a ball. Press down with heel of hand to make a flat disk, about half inch thick. Use it to wrap a dino and seal and smooth. Place onto an oiled baking sheet. 
  3. To make fossils, take a small handful of dough and form a ball. Press down with a dino to form imprints. Place fossils onto oiled baking sheet. 
  4. Bake at 100degC for about 1-2 hours, or air dry under sun for a day or two. 

This is a photo of the fresh, unbaked coffee dough, which is pretty pleasant to play and shape with. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

DIY marble run with craft sticks

When all the other mommy bloggers or the homeschooling moms are unrelentingly making felt busy bag or felt toys for their little ones, I realized that I am not at all inclined to make them for my boy. I didn't understand why, they weren't exactly too difficult to make, but I was adamant that they are not gonna get J excited for too long. The sentiment is starkly different when I saw this DIY toy. When I saw this, I knew I'm gonna make this (and yes, I made it the day I saw this on pinterest). He's gonna love this! And I am sure he will have his own ways of playing with this. Then, it all makes sense! Those mommies making the felt toys were making them for their daughters! A boy like J wouldn't be charmed by felt toys, instead, he wants something that explodes, something that makes loud bangs, something that collides, something that twists, something that crashes.  

I enjoyed this a lot when I was young. Were you in my era, when we used to insert 20cents into the machines to have a go at these marble run games? Even now at this age, I still find myself mesmerized by the movements of the marbles coupled with the sound of the collision. The sensorial combo actually calms me down. Interesting. 

This is very easy to do. It didn't cost me a lot. I think I spent about 2 ringgit to make this (to buy the superglue and the craft sticks). You probably won't need to spend any if you have your hot glue gun and other materials (as in the sticks, the marble ball and an unused shoe box) at home. 

You can view its video on this FB link

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Educational toys for toddler: Toys 'R' us Spelling Pocket Chart

I recently stepped into a Toys 'R' us when I was in KL. Honestly, this was my first time visiting a Toys 'R' us since J's birth. I actually would deliberately avoid it, especially if I am with J. I knew either J or I would go crazy if we would enter one. I was amazed with the selections of toys and educational materials you can find in it. I bought some good stuffs for J and I'd like to share about them here.  

I've been looking for a pocket chart for some time. The one that I have been eyeing on cost about RM30-80 depending on the size. So when I saw this, I knew I had to get it, not compelled by the spelling game, but more for the chart. I was gonna pay the same price for the pocket chart, so the spelling game that comes with it is a bonus. 

J loves it. He hasn't been a big fan of spelling prior to this. Normally he would rather arrange his magnetic letters in their ascending alphabetical order than spelling them (it's just one of his obsessions to have them arranged in the order), but he is spelling words with this new toy of his. Thus I felt it's a good deal. He is making good use of the toy, and we are also using the pocket chart for other activities, including activities like Montessori 3-parts cards, nomenclature cards and among others. 

We have done two different activities with the spelling cards, 
(1) Put 5 pictures on the chart and let J spell them out 
(2) I spell out the words on the chart and J would determine the words and pick the correct pictures for them  

Refer to my FB page link for video on how it was played.

I bought it at 

Toys R us at KLIA2 
Price: about RM60-80 (I couldn't remember the exact price paid as I have misplaced the receipt) 

They had two different sets available for sale at my time of purchase, one was a spelling one (which was the one I bought), and the other one was on maths and equation, as per here.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Purple Soul antioxidant smoothie (Rain Soul)

He says, 'Yummy!' 

This afternoon, we made a very yummilicious and beautiful purple color smoothie made up of antioxidant and omega rich ingredients. I let little J took part in helping me squeeze and add in the ingredients into the blender, while I whizzed the smoothie. He loves the smoothie a lot. I am sure the beautiful purple color plays a big part. Here's the recipe for this antioxidant smoothie: 

Recipe (serves two) 

  • 2 pouches of Rain Soul Antioxidant Boost Juice (see following for description of Rain Soul) 
  • 2 tbsp blueberries 
  • 1/2 cup of fresh plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of fresh milk or juice or even water 
  • 2 tbsp honey 
This is a perfect afternoon snack or breakfast smoothie for adult and child alike. The inclusion of the Rain Soul supplements, which our family have been consuming daily provides abundant of antioxidants, omega 3 and 6 that are rarely available from the food or meals that we consume daily. I let the little 3 year old takes it on alternate days. 

Rain Soul makes a perfect supplement for kids as it provides omega-3, 6 and 9 which: 
  • promotes calcium absorption from the body 
  • improves digestive health 
  • boosts immune system 
  • boosts brain development and cognitive functions (learning capacity)
What is RAIN SOUL? 

It is a blend of natural organic seed oils that delivers the most potent wholesome food nutrients packed in a certified USA facility using 'cold-press' technology. 

Black Raspberry Seeds had been shown to help support overall health, fight obesity, and exhibit powerful anti-cancer properties. Chardonnay Grape Seed is a powerful antioxidant known to protect the brain, support healthy blood pressure, help with allergies and be cancer protective. D-Ribose to fight fatigue, improve energy and mental clarity plus anti-aging powerhouse Trans-Resveratrol, are added to every delicious ounce of Soul! 

Rain Soul is now available for sale at Just Health. Click here for further info. Alternatively, pop by at Just Health and request to taste it. Contact number 089 210620. 

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