Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Talk Tuesday + A Giveaway ~ Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears

An African folklore which is also a Caldecott Medal winner, 'Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears' tells of how the mosquito came about, well, to buzz in people's ears. 

:: The Story
The story starts from a mosquito who loves to tell lies and annoyed the iguana so much that he stuck sticks into his ears to avoid listening any further to the mosquito. This in turn sets off a chain of events where the iguana annoyed the snake, who frightened the rabbit, who startled the crow, who alarmed the monkey, who killed an owlet and saddened the Mother Owl who would not wake up the sun! 

It is an interesting title to read with, and to a child to understand 'cause and effect' as well as the value of being truthful. The story also sports an easy rhythm with the sequence of event being repeated a few times while the Lion King called for a meeting to investigate how this all, came about. 

:: The Illustration
While I am certainly no expert in African Art, I have to say that the illustrations in this book is simply beautiful. The illustrator uses a simple yet bold style of colour blocks and lines to create the various scenes and animals. Just look at how pretty they are!  

While most of the scenes are in the day and set against a while background, when Mother Owl won't wake the sun up, the drawings were then painted against a black background to depict the night.

A Caldecott medal winner for the best illustrated book for children in 1976, this simple yet wonderful title is great whether it is to discuss a certain moral or to introduce to your children African drawings / Art. 

Author: Verna Aardema
Illustrators: Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon
Age: For 5YO and Up

I have one copy of this title to giveaway! 

Earn credits using Rafflecopter below by:
1) Clicking 'Like' on my Blog Facebook page
2) Leaving a comment on the comment section on "Why do you think you should win this title?" 
3) Sharing this post with your friends on your FB page! 
(For Singapore residents only)

The more credits you earn, the higher your chances! :)

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Talk Tuesday: Han Yu Pin Yin Journey - 我们的汉语拼音旅程

Han Yu Pin Yin (HYPY) is not something that I have done at all with Dumpling for the past years. As she attends Chinese classes so I pretty much leave it to the school to teach her that and in our HS sessions, my focus is more on reading, word recognition and building up of vocabulary. It is only last week that I started to revise with her on this. 

I only have 1 HYPY resource and it is this 'book' which I bought more than a year ago! After using it twice, I have to say that I like it and find it useful. It has a hardcover which allows it to stand up like an A-stand and works like a mini flip chart. 

Here's why I find this a good buy:

:: Well organised
The very first page of this book has a pull out flap which basically is a summary of all the 声母 and 韵母combinations. This works for me as I like that from a parental standpoint, without having to go to the flap, I can see the various combinations / blends! 

:: Hot Tips
Thereafter, there are pages of how the various combinations should written - when do we use the accent dots (such as nǚ) and when it is not needed. I don't know what about you but Hot Tips like these are definitely useful for me as I have basically "returned" these back to the teachers years ago!  

:: Easy blending with "Flip the Cards" design
With the 声母 and 韵母 printed on separate pieces, it allows the child to have a visual aid as to how the sounds can be 'blended' or formed. In addition, all the 声母 and 韵母 are color coded for easy reference too.

:: Clear examples
Above every 声母 and 韵母 card, there are examples of how the words presented in a pictorial format too) are being used. I wish that they have more of these but I also understand that the book, being only an A5 (in size), would not be able to incorporate many of such examples. So what Dumpling and I do is to talk about it and have a quiz as to how many such words we can come up with.

:: Pronunciation Tips
Towards the end of the cards, there are even tips on how to produce some of the sounds! How's that for a lesson for the parents too? :p

:: Rhymes practice
The last pages of the 'left' cards also feature some simple rhymes which are meant for the children to have a go at practising the HYPY. These would be great for children who have not yet developed a sensitivity towards the pronunciation of words like 说 (是 S 还是 Sh 呢?) , 车, etc. 

What other HYPY resources do you use at home? I would love to know your recommendations too! 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baked Chilean Cod

I am still in love with my Philips Avance XL Air Fryer where I use it at every turn when I can, as I cook and prepare meals over the weekend. I do not know about your kiddos but Dumpling does not like Salmon. She finds the smell a tad too strong. However, she likes cod so that makes things a tad easier!

I like cod fish because it is full of Omega 3 acids + it is easy to cook. With the Philips Avance XL Air Fryer, it is almost where I now have an additional 'stove' - while the potatoes are boiling on the gas stove and I am preparing the grilled vegetables, the cod is being 'baked' in the AirFryer! :) Here's sharing this simple and healthy 25 min recipe below!

Preparation time: 5 - 7 mins
Cooking time: 15 - 18 mins

:: Gathering List
1. 1 packet of Chilean cod steaks (I used about 4 pieces for the kiddo and myself)
2. Italian Herbs
3. Salted Butter - 2 pieces of 1" x 1" cut into small cubes (as above)
4. Grounded Black Pepper
5. Lemon Juice

:: The Cookout
1. Wash and place the cod steaks in foil and dab dry with paper towels
2. Add a few dashes of grounded black pepper
3. Add Italian herbs sparingly (coat it well and spread evenly)
4. I used about 2 tea spoons of lemon juice and drizzled over the cod steaks
5. Fold up the aluminum sheet like a parcel; seal up the edges well
6. Place it in the basket of the AirFryer and bake on 180 degrees for 15 - 18 minutes. For our case, because our fish was a tad more than an inch thick, it took about 17-18 minutes so you would have to adjust the timing accordingly and check after 14 minutes. :)

Serve on a bed of mash potatoes and grilled vegetables for a healthy balanced diet! No added oil and all 'air baked'! Now, isn't this a pretty looking meal?

Previously, I shared 2 yummilicious recipes on baked crayfish and garlic butter wine clams which are really great for the festive season too!

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Colourblind Chameleon Book Blast - with $50 amazon gift card / PayPal cash to be won!

Oh boy oh boy! How we enjoyed this title! I received a copy of the title to review when I opted to share the book blast because the title intrigued me. When I first read the synopsis, I was worried that it would be a tad too simple for Dumpling. Though the title suggests that it is for 2YO onwards, it was a funny title for Dumpling to read on her own.

The storyline revolves around a chameleon who just did not fit in as he is colourblind! Now, how will this affect him? Well, as a chameleon, he is able to change colours to hide from his predators. Being colourblind would certainly be putting him in quite a fix! :)

The title is a joy to read as it is a rhyming story and the illustrations are colorful, cute and many times, very funny. Incidentally, Dumpling and I are doing a homeschool unit on Camouflage and Mimicry so this certainly came in handy. Now, how would you like to win a $50 book blast giveaway - amazon giftcard / paypal cash? Take part in the rafflecopter below! :) GOOD LUCK!

About the Book

The Colourful Chameleon by Laura Kantor and Sarah Ray 

Title: The Colourblind Chameleon Author: Laura Kantor Illustrator: Sarah Ray Publication Date: November 19, 2013 Publisher: Independent - Squidgy Face Books Number of pages: 32 Recommended age: 2 to 7    


Once there was a very special chameleon... The Colourblind Chameleon is the debut title from up and coming author/illustrator duo Laura Kantor and Sarah Ray. This is a colourful and imaginative tale of a chameleon who doesn't fit in with the rest. He realises that it's not just good to be different... it's a lot more fun! Delight in the rhyming verses, vibrant colours and hilarious drawings as you are taken on a wonderful journey with a special little chameleon (wearing fabulous pants).  

The Early Buzz

"This is a lovely book for children ..... Fun and bright, educational and with an underlying message....... It great that it teaches children about a chameleon changing colour and it also teaches children that it's OK to be different ! I love it ! The illustrations are fabulous too...... Funny and colourful." ~ 5 Star Review, diamondlil, Amazon

"An excellent debut. Engaging story with captivating illustrations. Good to see a children's story with a real positive message." ~ 5 Star Review, Lucy, Goodreads


Amazon | Google Play | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

About the Author: Laura Kantor

Laura Kantor AuthorLaura Kantor up in Coventry, England, but has spent the last few years living overseas in Canada, Australia and now Singapore. In her free time she loves to travel, bake and write (of course). With a job in marketing, project management and a love for writing lists, Laura decided to self publish her own stories, and set up Squidgy Face Books in 2013 (www.squidgyfacebooks.com), teaming up with Sarah Ray who was the perfect illustrator to bring her stories to life. A year of very late nights and extremely long weekends later and their first release, The Colourblind Chameleon is ready to bring some colour and fun to squidgy faces around the world.  

About the Illustrator: Sarah Ray

Sarah RaySarah Ray, the illustrator of The Colourblind Chameleon grew up in the Herefordshire countryside where she gathered lots of inspiration for her drawings. Animals feature frequently in her work and she enjoys giving them human attributes. This is Sarah’s first children’s book, after working with a variety of clients on commissioned illustration. She also has her own range of award winning greeting’s cards which she sells across the UK, http:// www.sarahray.co.uk  

  Squidgy Face Books

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Google+ | Twitter (Author) | Twitter (Illustrator)

* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner's choice) Contest runs: December 12, 2013 to January 10, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Laura Kantor and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway * I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. The author contacted us to participate in our Book Promotion Program where we will tweet and share information about this book, the author, and the giveaway.*

MDBR Book Promotion Services

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Morning 'Party' - The Birthday Party: Sara at The Children's Garden

After signing up for 3 garden walks / workshops, I was worried about the rainy days that we have been having in December. With God's grace, we managed to head for the first one over the weekend. The tour is centered around a story on Sara, a dinosaur who forgot about getting a present for her brother's birthday. Hence the day started for us with a short stop at the classrooms where 'Uncle Loo' (whom we met at one of the earlier pond tours previously) read a few pages from the workbook to give the children some background as to what will take place in the garden walk.

The children were then brought outdoors for the walk where we come across some cotton plants, rice plants as well as peanuts! I like that Uncle Loo also took the opportunity to turn over logs and discussed the various insects as well as touched a bit on habitats. 

And look who popped over to say Hi to me! :)

I personally think that the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden is a fabulous place to bring the kiddos to! Check out the variety of trees, plants, spices and herbs we saw!

From  Lemon Scented Mrytle to Ginger (which the children saw how it grown in the soil and propagated)

To coconut trees and its by products

To having a first-hand experience at smelling Fish Wort! Have you tried smelling it before? I can assure you that you are not likely to forget its scent or how its name came about. :p

Uncle Loo also turned over some logs and dug up some worms and millipede (very gently of course) where the kids discussed what they saw. Dumpling is not iffy about worms and touched them and was on the receiving end of some mucus from the earthworm. LOL.

Interesting fact: do you know that earthworms have no eyes? :)

Uncle Loo went on to show the children more plants and how some are used as food dye / coloring. Now, not many people would know this but we have some carnivorous plants at the gardens too! Here's the photo of a pitcher plant! Impressive isn't it? :)

Before I knew it, the hour was over and the children headed back to the classrooms for some workbook activities.

If there is one change I can suggest for these tours, it would be to increase the walks from 60 - 90mins because 60 mins is really a tad too short! I am in the midst of organising a private tour for a homelearning group which I moderate on Facebook for more discoveries at the garden!

This tour is part of a series of our year end Holiday Plans. Have you gone for any activities with the kiddos so far? Do let me know of any suggestions you may have for us! :)

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pointillism at Heart Studio

Time has truly flown by for us this year. Between work and homeschooling and balancing this blog in between, I did not even realise that Dumpling has been attending lessons at Heart Studio for almost a year now. From working with Chinese ink

 to clay work, the exposure to the different themes and mediums have been nothing short of being amazing.

Dumpling really loves craft and painting since young (which explains for the mess at home) where she'd cut up materials and piece them together while painting over them etc.

For this Holiday period, Dumpling showed a lot of interest in a 3-day camp on Pointillism. Pointillism is a different technique of painting where the image is made by 'dotting' on the paint. She thought that it was interesting and wanted to try it out since this is a new thing for her. For me, I was intrigued as to how the school is able to teach that in just 3 days!

So I thought to share on what goes on over the 3-day camp. :)

As per their usual practice, the week's theme / samples are all prepared and propped up at the white board before the start of the class. Even after all these time, I am still amazed at how the team at Heart Studio is able to simplify the project, explain the approach and break it down to a level where the kiddos are able to comprehend.

See how the outline and composition are demonstrated below?

:: Day 1:
The kiddo's attempt on the outline of her fruits and composition before working on the background colours. The children had a choice on the various key colours and for each colour, several hues are then prepared by the teachers. The children are then taught how to dot and spread out the color to achieve the slightly textured look. This makes the painting look less 'flat'.

:: Day 2:
Day 2 was spent on coloring the fruits and this was also done using the pointillism technique. As always, the children have a choice of the elements (in this case, the fruits). Dumpling was actually very excited that morning as I dropped her off, telling me that she was looking forward to coloring the fruits. I was pretty impressed with her enthusiasm actually.

Day 3:
Day 3 was then spent on the final details - adding of highlights, the 'strawberry seeds', stems as well as the shadow. Even the highlights were added on using the same technique. I personally felt that it was hard work 'cos it requires very fine motor skills, focus as well as tons patience. This is what I really like about Art - besides allowing the child to have his / her own interpretation, to be, it teaches the child (and many a time, us parents too!) that the process is just as important! It is through the process where the child picks up many other traits and personally, I like that it is a form of therapy for the kiddo because it gives her an additional avenue to express herself.

Over the past few months, I actually feel that Dumpling has matured and grown to have this steel of perseverance in her and looking back, I am sure that the Art sessions have helped to inculcate that along with her music classes.

Just look at how focused and serious she was! I was told by Teacher Elma that she has never once complained but just continued to finish up her piece! Well done Baby!

And, here's her final art piece! What do you think?

Here's a photo of the various students and their works! :) Look how pleased they all are! 

If you are still keen to find out more on their Holiday Programme, here's their details:

Heart Studio LLP
101 Soo Chow Walk Singapore 575385
Tel: (65) 6554 7563
Fax: (65) 6554 7562
Email: info@heartstudiosg.com
If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

User Experience: Baking and Grilling with the Philips Avance XL Airfryer

Having experienced the sweet success and simplicity of the Philips Avance XL Airfryer and overcoming my hesitation of using a new machine, I went on a cooking spree. Yup, a cooking spree that lasted for 2 days! From making Hainanese Pork Chop Rice to western meals such as Baked Fish Fillets, I was on a roll! I wanted to try out the technology on how this machine can fry, bake and grill too!

It is mainly due to its patented technology: fast and precise circulating air that mimicks frying AND its unique starfish design which cooks food evenly without turning. 

Along the way, I picked up some nifty tips. Now, if you have a small household like mine (with 4 members including our helper), these tips may be useful for you!

:: 1. You can bake with the Philips Avance XL Airfryer and this is not just limited to cakes!

Check out my baked white clams! It was perfectly done and was oh-so-delicious!!!! The clams were sweet and succulent having been baked in this divine butter-wine concoction. It was just all so Ooo-lala! (Pun intended - recipe shared further down in the post).

:: 2. Foil is my new best friend
Having a preschooler means that I prefer to eat healthy and would at times choose to bake / roast my food. I found out that foil is the way to go! I picked up this trick from some online recipes as well as reading up on some sharings by some really talented ladies in the I Love Philips AirFryer Facebook group.

From perfectly roasted potatoes:

To baked fish fillets:

My items were all moist and yummilicious! What you do is to place the items on the foil and then fold it up like a parcel. Put into the basket of the Philips Avance XL Airfryer and cook away. If in doubt, it is always good to start at a lower temperature. But as a general rule of thumb, 180 degrees is pretty good for most meat (including the fish fillets above).

:: 3. You can save time by baking and roasting in the same basket, at the same time
Say what? Yup, you read it correctly; you can bake and roast some food items at the same time! Here’s the proof!

How is that possible? It is simply because of the 50% larger capacity (1.2kg cooking capacity which feeds up to 5 people) which this new model sports! What I found out during my ‘experimentation’ was that I could bake and roast the potatoes all at the same time (see above photo)!!!

And both turned out beautifully done! How’s that for time saving? For a working mum like me, that’s superb news!  Check out my baked potato below! (Topping was baked separately with the Philips Avance XL Airfryer after the potato was done)

 :: 4. The Philips Avance XL Airfryer is wonderful for seafood!
One thing I found out is that the Philips Avance XL Airfryer is not just for frying meat. I have a love affair with seafood and I decided to try my hand over the weekend in preparing some seafood items. Besides the clams (1st photo above), I baked some crayfish too and look how it turned out! J Impressed yet?

I decided that in true Christmas spirit, I shall be generous in this post and share not 1 but 2 recipes!

These 2 recipes are great especially if you have friends over for Christmas dinners ~ not only are they yummy, they are really pretty awesome looking too!!! 

:: Recipe 1: Baked Butter Crayfish 

:: The Gathering List
  1. Half a kg of crayfish (half a kg yielded me 3 of them)
  2. Salted Butter (a small slab of 2 inch long x 1cm thick)
  3. 1 teaspoon of Garlic
  4. Salt
  5. Pepper
  6. Cream Cubes

:: The Cookout
  1. Pre-heat fryer to 180◦ for about 5 mins
  2. Wash and scrub the crayfish thoroughly and place it bottom side up in aluminium foil (see photo below)
  3. Dice up the butter and cream cube spread all over crayfish. Because I used salted butter, I used only 2 pinches of salt and sprinkled sparingly over the crayfish
  4. Sprinkle pepper (I used ground black pepper)
  5. Foil up the foil like a parcel and fold down sides. Ensure that all sides are sealed.
  6. Slide out drawer and place parcel in the basket.
  7. Bake on 190 degrees for about 20 mins. 

Were our crayfish “dried up”? In fact, in my humble opinion, because of the shells, it worked in favour for these crustacean as it trapped the moisture within. Check out the how moist the meat was! 

While the crayfish was baking, I quickly boiled some spaghetti and added some tomato spaghetti sauce to it. Here’s how our pretty our lunch looked! This would definitely be a great crowd pleaser for any Christmas gatherings! 

:: Recipe 2: Garlic Butter White Clams in Wine!

:: The Gathering List
  1. 1 kg of clams
  2. Salted Butter (a small slab of 2 inch long x 1cm thick)
  3. Diced Garlic (about 2 teaspoons)
  4. Diced Ginger (about 2 teaspoons)
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Rice Wine
:: The Cookout
  1. Pre-heat fryer to 200◦ for about 5 mins
  2. Wash and scrub the clams thoroughly and placed it bottom side up in aluminum foil
  3. Diced up the butter, garlic and ginger and spread on the clams. As I used salted butter, I used only about 2 pinches of salt (similar to the crayfish) and sprinkle sparingly over the clams.
  4. Sprinkle pepper (I used ground black pepper)
  5. Start to fold up the sides of the aluminum like a tray and pour in the wine just before placing in the airfryer. Once wine is poured in, seal up all the sides immediately.
  6. Bake at 200 degrees for 14-15 mins. The clams should open up like below.
  7. Discard away any unopened clams.
Note: it is a personal preference regarding what wine to use. I have previously used a regular chardonnay which I felt tasted a tad “sharp”. Hence I have since used Chinese Rice Wine or you can substitute with beer instead.

There will be a pool of briny juice collected in the foil ‘tray’. Keep and put it aside. For myself, I ate the clams with freshly toasted French loaf dipped in a small serving of the juice.

For Dumpling, I prefer not to serve this to her typical vongole style (where it sits in the briny juice). But instead, I tossed the cooked pasta in a pan and on “high fire”, I poured in about 3 table spoons of the clam stock. I tossed it for a while longer to coat the pasta evenly and voila! 

This is definitely another crowd pleaser as it simply tastes amazing - it’s smooth because of the butter yet fragrant with the diced garlic and ginger. The wine adds on a lovely flavor to the whole dish too. Definitely something easy and doable for Christmas!

Disclaimer: I was invited to share my User Experience using Philips Avance XL AirfryerAll opinions and sharing I have given are mine and may differ from others. 

Cook with Air today! Quote Beanie N Us and buy the Viva Digital Airfryer at $399 (Usual price: $459), FREE $50 SHOPPING VOUCHER andAvance XL Airfryer at $479 (Usual price: $539), FREE $50 SHOPPING VOUCHER at the PHILIPS EXPERIENCE SHOWROOM. This promotion is valid from 1stDecember till 31st January 2014.

Limited to 1 Airfryer per person. IC must be produced.
Address: 620A Lorong 1 Toa Payoh Building TP4 Level 1 S(319762)
Tel: 6882 5800
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9.00 am – 7.00 pm Saturday: 9.00 am – 1.00 pm. Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

The Viva Digital Airfryer and Avance XL Airfryer are also available at regular prices in leading electronics stores, department stores and supermarkets island-wide.

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on my Facebook Page where I share my parenting thoughts, food photos (be prepared for tons of them!), early shout outs for giveaways and interact with you, my readers! You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Be warned: All content in this blog is copyright protected.

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected