Breakfast – The most important meal of the day

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But many a times, we sleep late thus wake up late and is always in a rush in the morning.  So breakfast is usually gobbling a slice of bread with some spread.

I’ve been a sahm for 2 years and a sumptuous breakfast has become a habit.

image

Today’s breakfast is toasted wholegrain bread smeared with coconut oil, topped with chia seed, with smoked salmon and topped with mango.

Loads of nutrients and goodness to start the day well.

Eat well, exercise moderately and sleep sufficient.

Advertisements

Review – Drive away Pigeons – Bird Spikes from Daiso

Pigeons look nice but if they choose your house to rest and nest in, you would not like it. Pigeons droppings are not only smelly, they are acidic, thus corrosive. They can erode concrete, paint, metal (air con compressor), etc, resulting in costly damage to your property and equipments.

To drive away pigeons from my air con ledge, I first splashed bleach on the air con ledge. the pigeons stayed away while the smell was strong. Omce the smell is gone, which is after a few days, they came back.

The next time I climbed out onto the air con ledge, I dropped a full packet of moth balls (the most smelly ones which I could find in the supermarket) there, hoping that the smell of the moth balls will linger on for a longer period. This time it lasted for about a week. Then I tried 2 packets of moth balls. It lasted 1.5 weeks. Pigeons are very stubborn. Once they’ve identified a ‘home’ they will keep coming back.

I’ve explored the option of enclosing up my air con ledge area with nets, but that will cost more than $1,000, including engaging ‘Spider-men’ to be let down from the roof top to secure the nets and cover up the whole air con ledge from top to bottom.

Shopping at Daiso let me chanced upon these plastic bird spikes, which only costs $2 each. They are made of plastic so it will not injure the pigeons, unlike the sharp pointed commercial bird spikes. And These are so much easier than making my own spikes with nails and cardboard.

20130303-154620.jpg

I cut them into appropriate sizes and stuck them all over the air con ledge. Mind you, Pigeons are very stubborn. They will stand on any tiny inch that they can lay their feet on, which was what happened the first time round. You have to observe their favorite spots and make sure that every inch of these spots are covered by the spikes. You will have to make it very troublesome for them before they will move away. This is the second time I’ve gone out to the air con ledge. And I made sure that every inch is covered and on their favorite spots, I had double-layers of spikes stacked on top of each other.

20130303-155011.jpg

20130303-155017.jpg

So when you are erecting bird spikes, you have to be very thorough. Remember – COVER EVERY INCH.

Afternote – the spikes only deterred the pigeons for about a week, and preventing them from perching on the latch. They are so stubborn that they can fly straight in and perch onto the aircon compressor. So I stuck masking tapes on the poles leaving holes that are too small for them to fly through. Finally, the pigeons are gone. Now, I have peace throughout the day.

Recipe – Kimchi

After reading about the benefits of Kimchi, I decided to make my own so as to vary the level of spiciness.

There are lots of articles about the benefits of Kimchi in the Internet. Check them out.

I’ve used the recipe from http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/105179/recipespicy-cabbage-kimchi. As this is my first try, I’ve selected an easy and simple recipe. However, I’ve made some modification, as suggested by the reviews. I’ve only used 1/4 cup of salt instead of 1 & 1/4 cup. The purpose of the salt is to ‘limp’ the cabbage. And 1/4 cup of salt is sufficient.

This is my kimchi. A less spicy pot for my kids and a spicy pot for the adults.

20130221-233225.jpg

The kimchi will have to go through 3-4 days of fermentation. Hope it’ll turn out good.

Iherb Promo Code – BLT579

I’ve been buying stuff from iherb (www.iherb.com). It’s a website from the US that carries a wide range of natural or organic stuff, including grocery, bath & shower, cosmetics, baking, cooking, etc.

Iherb has been shipping products internationally since 1996 and products are shipped by reputable courier services such as DHL, UPS, etc.

By using promo code BLT579, you can get US$10 discount. Remember to check out other discounts of the month. Always check your email after you’ve signed up on the website for special first-time user discount.

You can also list items you would like to purchase in your wish list and purchase later when you have accumulated a substantial amount or when there’s special promotions. But take note that the more popular products may be out of stock. E.g. I’ve been trying to buy Chia Seeds and they are snapped up very quickly.

Enjoy shopping for natural products.

Review – Peanut Butter with No Trans Fat, No Hydrogenated Fats & No Cholesterol

My family love Peanut Butter sandwiches, and my husband is very particular about the taste and texture of Peanut Butter. Most Peanut Butter contains Trans Fat, Hydrogenated Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup, which isn’t good for health.

Finally, I managed to find a Peanut Butter that tastes great, is creamy and easy to spread and does not contain Trans Fat, Hydrogenated Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup. And my hub gave it a thumbs up too.

20130215-091831.jpg

20130215-091839.jpg

Smooth Operator Natural Peanut Butter is available at http://www.iherb.com, a website in US. They deliver direct to Singapore. Takes less than 2 weeks. There are lots of healthy alternatives and natural products available and prices are reasonable.

You can get a US$10 discount if you enter iherb promo code BLT579.

1 Dish Meal – Wrap with ‘Vegetable Mayonnaise’

When eating wraps, mayonnaise is usually a must-have. Instead of the usual mayonnaise, I came up with mayonnaise substitute, made with vegetables. In addition, my kids don’t eat lots of vegetables so this wil provide nutrients and fiber.

Ingredients
– half a pumpkin
– 5 long sticks of celery
– 1 big onion
– garlic
– optional – king oyster mushroom
– salt and pepper to taste
– basil, dill and thyme to taste
– half a cup of water
– half a cup of milk

Direction
– dice pumpkin, celery, onion and garlic
– fry garlic till fragrant but not burnt
Рsauté onions till limp
– add celery, pumpkin and mushroom to fry till pumpkin are soft
– add water and simmer
– add salt, pepper, basil, thyme and dill to taste
– add milk after all water are evaporated

I like to add prawns or chicken fillet to the wrap as well. A point to note – if too much spices are added, it will have an Indian food flavor.

20130214-202730.jpg

20130214-202741.jpg

Healthy Habits – Snack on fruits

When you are hungry in between meals or feel like snacking, it’s common to open the doors of your refrigerator and reach for something. It could be milk, fruit juice, biscuits, fruit juice, etc. many a times, fruits are not the number 1 choice as there is a need to cut the fruits.

I used to be under the impression that fruits will lose all of its nutrients once its cut up. Vitamin C would have also oxidized. So if I do not cut fruits after a meal, my family will not eat fruits. But recently, I found out from articles in the internet that cut fruits will retain 75% of their nutrients if they are stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. So I bought a few air tight transparent containers and make sure that there’s always cut fruits in the refrigerator.

I place the containers of fruits at the eye-level shelf in the refrigerator so as to constantly remind my family to eat fruits. We usually have at least 3 types of fruits in the refrigerator so that the family can have a variety of fruits everyday.

20130213-204433.jpg

Although my family would still pick the chocolate, biscuit or chips when they want to snack, they are however eating a lot more fruits than they used to.

Review on Niseko-Hirafu

We were in Niseko-Hirafu from 9-15 Dec.

It is advisable to take a coach from Sapporo or Chitose, as compared to taking a train as there are a few stops in between, which means you will need to lug your luggages up and down in transit train stations. Moreover, there aren’t much space on train for luggages.

While in Niseko, These are the stuff and places we’ve been to and/or tried.

Hirafu Welcome Centre
– if you happen to arrive there, remember to pick up the Niseko Area Guide. Comes in handy on where to go for meals. Not all restaurants are open for lunch. It also gives you an estimate on how much it would costs at each restaurant.

Accommodation – Casi 67
– Owner is Martin Spann. Great guy. Very friendly and helpful. Casi 67 is a very nice and comfy place with bedrooms on the ground level and a living, dining and kitchen on the 2nd level. Kitchen was fully equipped. A large range of DVDs and books too. Stayed in West wing. There’s also a East wing, so if you have a big group, can book both wings, which is connected by the dry area and a ‘bridge’ on the 2nd level.

20121214-212951.jpg

20121215-073601.jpg

20121215-073929.jpg

Ski Rental – Larry Adler
– I did an Internet enquiry and our particulars were imputed before we arrived in Niseko. Booked a 6 days package although we only intended to ski for 5 days as kids’ skis will then be free. Staff at Larry Adler were great! David, Nicola and Randall are so helpful. Besides fitting boots, skis were also adjusted based on our proficiency level, ie beginner’s ski will dislodge easier than those of intermediate level.

– my feet are fat, so Nicola recommended these ski boots. They fit me perfectly and they are easy to put on.

20121214-213143.jpg

– Boots, ski and ski-poles can be left at the shop and the guys are Larry Adler would warm them up for us in the morning. Nothing beats having warm ski boots in the morning. Sometimes we would also drop our ski boots at the shop while we walk around for lunch.

– Larry Adler is located on the road next to Ace Family Ski Lift. A very convenient location for us to drop and pick up our stuff.

Ace Ski Lift
– We chose to go to Ace as it has a pretty long run for beginners. The 1st level is about 750m while the 2nd level is about 1.2km. All in close to 2km if you dare to go onto the 2nd level.

– After barely trying 2 rounds on the 1st day, decided to go onto the higher slope. Bad idea. We are young intermediate skiers. Should have warmed up more. Secondly, there is a need to observe visibility before going up any mountain. When we got up to the 2nd level, we could barely see beyond 10m. It was freezing cold and the wind was strong and we were not familiar with the route. Thank goodness we got down in one piece eventhough we made a wrong turn and went onto the intermediate slope instead. So, before going up the mountains, please check visibility (it is usually less visible higher up), wind speed and ski routes.

– early morning is the best time to ski. It’s even better if it snowed the night before as the snow field would be more powdery. These are tracks left on powder snow. Your skis sink in and you feel like you are skiing on a soft field of powder.

20121214-214132.jpg

– The ski lift starts operation at 8.30am. By 4.30pm, it will start to turn dark. Do not be deceived by the sun. When the sun is out, it could be colder as the sun melts the snow.

– Niseko is a pretty safe place. You can simply leave your skis around and it’ll still be there hours later. No one will take your stuff. It helps that everyone’s ski equipments are tagged with your name.

– in order to have a more pleasant ski, we usually ski during the usual lunch time. That means we either take early or late lunch.

– if you happen to drop anything while on the ski lift, like me, immediately note down the nearest tower number and inform the control station staff. They will send someone to pick up your stuff for you. Really thankful for the helpful staff at Ace ski lift.

Food
– eating out is expensive in Niseko. So one of the first thing we did when we arrive in Niseko-Hirafu was to go grocery shopping to get food for breakfast. Max Value at Kutchan is big and prices are cheaper as compared to Seicomart or Lawson. It takes about 15mins to drive to Kutchan. Just follow Road 343 or Route 5. If you need some warm clothings, the store beside Max Value carries an essential range. Bought ladies tights at Y399. Good quality and value for money.

– for most restaurants, it will be good to make reservations. You will need to get ready the phone number of your accommodation as that’s something required with reservations.

Abu-Chan
Nice ambience. Nicest dish was the grilled Hokkaido fish. Can only eat the fish meat as the skin is so tough and spikey that its impossible to tear. The skin is then fried till crispy. Nice.

20121213-215905.jpg

Slalom
It’s located at Hotel Niseko Alpen. It’s at the base of the 2nd level of beginners slope. Just ski right in. Convenient. Servings are large. Food is decent.

Ebisutei
A quaint little restaurant near Casi 67. The teriyaki chicken is very good. Regretted not trying the fresh oysters.

Fresh Coffee (besides Ace Ski Lift)
Serves superb hot creamy chocolate and tasty chicken mayo toast. Cream in Hokkaido are simply great! You won’t get sick of eating it.This is where we take our ski break.

Tsubara Tsubara
Best soup curry. You get to choose the level of spiciness. Kids tried level 2 while we tried level 8. Its pretty spicy at 8. It goes up to level 20. Imagine that! The curry was so yummy that I gobbled up half of it before remembering to take a pic of it.

20121213-220009.jpg

Enya
An Izakaya pub. Like Abu-Chan, they serve o-toshi. It’s an appetizer whereby you need to pay for and that is charged instead of service charge. Enya serves yakitori. Surprising the nicest yakitori was the shiitake mushroom. It was BBQ with sake.

Niseko Ramen (formerly known as Mount Ramen)
Formerly located at Kutchan and known as Mount Ramen. They had moved to Hirafu. Potato soup was too rich to our liking.

20121213-220447.jpg

M’s Cafe
It is further than Hilton Niseko. But the beef and sesame sauce were great. It’s at such a deserted place, you would not be able to imagine.

20121213-220541.jpg

20121215-215751.jpg

If Cafe
Somehow, cakes are known as sweets in Japan and cream is known as cheese as well. Tried ‘rare cheese with blueberry’ and ‘grilled apple’. The cheese/cream was so good that you won’t get sick of it.

20121213-220152.jpg

20121213-220205.jpg

Asahiwara Ramen – Tozenkan
Love the noodles and soup base of Dosanko Ramen. The fried chicken was tasty and crispy without being oily. Prefer the plain fried chicken to the spicy chicken.

20121213-215756.jpg

Fujizushi
Authentic Japanese cruisine. Love the hotpot.

20121214-213306.jpg

Onsen
When at an Onsen, rinse yourself thoroughly before going into the hot springs, soak, then scrub thoroughly in the shower. Soak in the pool again before drying. Always check for outdoor Onsen. Nice feeling to be soaking in an Onsen while snow falls on you.

To save some money, bring your own towel. Best to bring a large one for drying and a small towel to scrub yourself.

Whenever there are students, always check with the hotel Onsen what time the students will be in the Onsen. You wouldn’t want to be in the Onsen with them.

Prices range from Y600 to Y1000 per person.

-Yukoro – A simple onsen place. Need to bring your own moisturizer.
– Hotel Niseko Alpen Onsen – Nice place with lots of different types of creams, lotions for you to try. Seems like horse oil is good as a moisturizer.
– Hilton Niseko Onsen – Quite a drive, about 20mins from Niseko-Hirafu. Pretty Onsen. There was a nice pond with fishes beside the outdoor Onsen and from the outdoor Onsen, you look out to Mt Yotei. So it’s good to go before 4pm, before it turns dark.
– HirafuTei Hotel Onsen – The outdoor Onsen looks out at snow piles.
– Green Leaf Onsen – located at Hiyashimaya. It’s just before Hilton Niseko. Very nice view at the outdoor Onsen. Need to bring own moisturizer.

Niseko Hirafu is a lovely place and a great place for ski.

20121214-214048.jpg

20121214-214107.jpg

20121214-214124.jpg

Little Angel TX – Sisterly Love (The 2 nights before PSLE oral)

PSLE oral exams started today.

Last night, Little TX came to me and said “Mommy, we need to ensure that TY is in a iron crisp uniform tomorrow. Since my school uniform are new, what about taking out my name tag and sewing her name tag onto my uniform?”. That was exactly what I had intended to do if TY doesn’t have a good enough uniform.

TX examined all of TY’s uniform and found one that is presentable. However, she transferred one of her school belt to TY’s pinafore. Then she took out the iron and ironing board because she wanted to iron the school uniform again. She said that she wanted to do it as a form of encouragement to her elder sister and she wanted her elder sister to feel proud of herself, that everything has been done for her. There is also nothing for her to be worried about so that she can be at her most relaxed state. She simply wants her elder sis to feel good. Wow!

TY had her Chinese Oral this morning. TX insisted of going along. We waited for nearly 4 hours before TY came out. In the midst of waiting, I started to get worried. Worried that TY would get tongue-tied during the session, as she always does when she speaks Mandarin. I was worried that she would break down since she was taking such a long time. TX consoled me and analyzed TY’s character to me. I must say that TX does understand TY well.

Tonight, TY couldn’t get to sleep. When I came out of the shower, TX was preparing essential oil in the burner for TY so as to help TY to fall asleep.

And I forgot to add something. TX had been washing TY’s water bottle and she sets the alarm clock every night. She just wants to make sure that TY is well-equipped for her PSLE oral exam.

TX may be easily irritable and may often snap at TY. But she definitely loves her sister. Without fail, she will go along for TY’s English Oral exam tomorrow and wait till she is out of the exam hall.

Sisterly love.

1 Dish Meal – Seafood Rice in Chicken Broth (Mui Fan)

20120731-194957.jpg

Ingredients
– chicken stock
– green leafy vegetables
– a few slices of ginger
– dried shrimp, soaked and chopped finely
– dried scallop, soaked
– seafood
– rice ( I mix 1/4 brown rice with 3/4 white rice)
– egg
– corn flour (optional)

Method
– boil chicken stock with ginger (I buy the prepared chicken stock from MMMM, no MSG and preservatives)
– add in dried shrimp and dried scallop
– add in vegetables
– bring to a boil and remove vegetables
– add in seafood
– dissolve corn flour in some water then pour into boiling soup (to thicken soup)
– add in beaten egg
– pour soup base over rice

Ginger is to remove the fishy smell from seafood while the dried shrimp and scallop are to make the soup more tasty.