Monday 24 June 2013

Let's Serve!

It had been a very blessed week for Jazz and us. My parents arrived, Js are away from school and Jazz attended a church camp that ran for 5 days, 3 hours each session. As an apprehensive Mum, I was all worried about her on day 1 when I left her in a place of total unfamiliar faces. She can be extremely shy and unspoken when it comes to a  'land' of strangers.

My worries were uncalled for, when I picked her at the end of first day's session. She was all cheerful and with excitement still in her, she told me she had great fun learning, doing crafts, singing and dancing. She emphasized on 'fun' umpteen times, and I was relieved that she found comfort in a whole new environment. I knew the camp shall continue for her till its last day, and she looked forward for every session.

Together with her, I've been tremendously blessed after each session from what she communicated on  the learnings and songs. The camp had a main theme on 'SERVE.' She learnt about serving God, Family, Friends, Neighbours and Community. Which is a value that's often neglected or unspoken of. It's not too often that a child wants to take on a serving role in play or for real. A good value to teach, not just for the young, but for every living human. Very often, we are wrapped in our own bubble, neglecting the people around us. Taking things and service for granted without much considerations. The higher a status one climbs to, the tougher it is to humble oneself to serve. I hope Js will always keep a servanthood heart in them, wherever they are. Not talking about service for a profit, but serving with a sincere and cheerful heart. I hope they will always avail themselves, whenever possible to help people around them. But, at the same time, stay wise about not being taken granted for.

I'm pleased when Jazz said, "I'm gonna serve Mummy, so that she has more time for other stuff," "I'm gonna tidy my bed everyday." These positives melted my heart. And words aren't just words when partnered with actions. She began tidying her bed on some mornings, with her soft toys neatly tucked to the bed corner. She served not just me, but her brother. She tidied his bed too! I'm comforted by this little beginning. She seemed to have matured not just spiritually, but grown sensible too. At least in thoughts.
Church camp week for Jazz

Riding on the road, with cautious drivers always on lookout
And while Js were away from school, I spent much more time with them than their school days. We cycled, scooted, swam, played and of course with the input of educational drills. It definitely is easy to serve the people we love!

I'm truly thankful for the reminder about serving, not just within the household, but also out of the house. I'm blessed for every opportunity to serve. 
Pretend play - Picnic

While sis is in camp, it's cars world

Learning the creative way

We had a great week of bonding and much more to come as vacation begins...

Friday 21 June 2013

Grocery shopping tips

I usually end up with a whole lot of wanted or unwanted food in my fridge from the unplanned groceries trip. Either that, or missing out items that forces me out of home for another trip, just for a single item. So here are some tips I accumulated from the months of groceries shopping experience, which has since been my forte. 

1. Plan your menu
Very often, I overbuy or miss out items that I need for my weekly food menu. Simply because I didn't pen the ingredients needed for my menu. Planning gives me targeted buying. And there, I get my grocery list. 
Flown meal planner from Singapore
2. Check pantry
After planning the menu, check the pantry and fridge for items you already have. So there won't be repeated buys, especially when they're highly perishable. Too much food poses trouble for the chef. Work to cook off the previous buys. Sometimes, with no planning, I tend to get repeated buys, so much so that we are probably well-prepared for disaster activation. In fact, I've already some canned food set aside for earthquake contingency. 

3. Keep receipts
I have the tendency to forget what has been bought after some time. Being slowly consumed by memory failure, it could either be sitting somewhere in the fridge or rotting bad till discovered! Ok, that's me. Having the receipt clipped outside my fridge is a good reminder of my buys, allowing me to wipe out what I've bought, thus being less wasteful. 
Clipped receipt

4. Coupons
This may not be too applicable in Singapore, but here, it's a coupon world. I'll try to clip coupons on the items that I plan to buy, and not get myself conned to buying other stuffs, even though greatly slashed. Being needful is important when it comes to coupons. 

5. Nutrition
I now spend more time reading nutrition facts and ingredients. I avoid adding artificially flavoured and coloured food to my cart, as well as MSG and preservatives. Sodium Nitrate's a compound used to preserve most processed food giving it a more appealing colour to consumers. Very commonly found in processed meats, such as hotdog, bacon, ham and canned food. Some researchers evidenced that sodium nitrate (read: Sodium Nitrates) is a cancer causing ingredient. That was concluded decades ago. After which, researchers said sodium nitrate and cancer has no link. A myth?!! Oh well, I think consuming moderately, once in a long while should be fine. I'll remain cautious when it comes to reading labels, less is actually better. There are always other nutritious options to go for. I'll totally avoid the artificial, MSG and preservatives for kids consumption. For myself, if it's my craving to die for, I'll buy! Moderately. 

Extracted this from a sausage I bought
6. Bring your own bags
When I say go plastic free, I'm absolutely not practicing what I preach. Simply because I don't bring my recycle bags for bagging the groceries. I get fresh plastics for every trip, giving myself excuses such as convenience and needing the bags to line the trash bin. For the benefit of our future generations, to save the world and save the environment, I'll make a good effort on this. 

7. Don't shop on an empty tummy
Lastly, my favourite one. Have you noticed, groceries shopping after a full meal prompts you to buy less. You tend to stay more focused on your grocery list. Which means there's less impulse buying and you spend nothing or less on the unnecessary. For me, it means less junk snacks and sweets.

Grocery shopping does need some good techniques huh, don't belittle the accomplishments of a grocery shopping mum!

Thursday 20 June 2013

Letters in their names

I've always wanted to create beautiful meanings out of the letters in their names. After some days of challenging thoughts, I can finally mark it down. 

J is for Jazz, bounce with music for life
A is for Amicable, ever peaceable
Z is for Zealous, diligently passionate
Z is for Zest, live an exciting life
E is for Endeavour, attain great successes ahead
L is for Loving, withhold a pure heart
L is for Laughter, spread it all around
E is for Enchanting, be that magical influence

J is for joy, bring it unto others
A is for Admirable, gain that respect
R is for Reliable, be a firm support
E is for Excellence, pursue it continuously
T is for trustworthy, live in honesty
H is for Humble, always the key to success

J pair!

I'll be contented enough to raise Js as beautifully described. Moral character far exceeds the academics. Aspire them to look great on the outside and inside!    

Monday 17 June 2013

Ten Thanks to the Daddy!

To the greatest man in our home:

1. Thank you for your sacrifices 
2. Thank you for your wise words  
3. Thank you for your never failing love 
4. Thank you for the moments of crazy fun
5. Thank you  for sprinkling our lives with laughter
6. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom
7. Thank you for spicing up our lives with excitement
 8. Thank you for being the strength and pillar of this household
9. Thank you for being an awesome and wonderful Dad
10. Thank you for the hours you slog out of home to bring food and toys for us

Happy Father's Day!
Love, Us!

Love, Jazz

Love, Jare
We've been disney-fied! Blending ourselves into the Disney family. Crazy idea for the crazy Daddy!

Wednesday 12 June 2013

When it's 'Me' time

When kids were in school, I sneaked out to play with acrylic paint. I'm into the third week of art painting, which has been absolutely fun and therapeutic. It ain't really much about talent, all you need is patience, good eyes and ears for instructions following. I was really impressed with what I drew up! If I can do it, anyone else can!
Anyone can paint!
When it comes to arts, they are simply defined as imperfectly perfect. So don't look too much into the details.

Have you some weekly 'Me' time set aside for things you enjoy?

Thursday 6 June 2013

We Love where we are

Time flew and we've spent 8 months here, in California. We're loving our light and relaxed routines, life here is just so sweet and simple to go by. No stress, no fuss and no time constraints. Top 5 reasons why we love where we are:

1. Weather
Needless to say, we know how scorching hot our tropical country, Singapore is. A step to the outdoor, makes you feel like melting. The place we're living has a consistent temperature throughout the year, hovering between 10 to 18 Degree Celsius on most days. One of the days, it hit 21 degrees, and we felt so hot! That's just how pampered we got. But be glad, my fellow Singaporeans, though we share the same sun, the rays here are much more piercing than in Singapore. There's less clouds to filter those rays, thus sunscreen is a MUST for all outdoor sunny plays. We get sights of clear blue skies here though.

2. Free Parking
ERP? Parking Coupons? None here! Most places offer free parking. Though limited time given, it's a good enough privilege. Feels good to not worry about topping up that cashcard or running out of parking coupons in the car.

3. Beaches
The meeting of ocean and land is the most perfect existent ever. Ocean view here is truly beautiful and breathtaking. High low, soft loud waves and breezy winds make you fall in love with every part of it. Nature is such a beauty! You just feel like it's smiling at you. For now, I'm glad to be miles away from the East Coast Park and Sentosa. 

4. Shopping
Need I say more? We were very warmly welcomed to the land of online and outlet shopping. With many brand labels much cheaper found here, than in Asia. 

5. Farmers Market
I am so very in love with the Farmers Market here. There are different markets held at different places, different days and time, but we only frequent our favourite every Tuesday. Now that it's summer, every visit is more fruitful than the non-summer days. Fruits and vegetables range gets better in this season. The fruits are amazingly crunchy and sweet, vegetables are fresh and of great variety from non-organic to organic. We also love those fresh popcorns and salsa, pairing perfectly with any tortilla chips! All so good and yummy. The sweetest part is, bringing the kids there for evening stroll, walking and holding their little hands. It gets busy keeping eyes on the produces and kids though.

When our stay expires, the farmers market will definitely be one of my most missed. 
I want to be always near you, Farmers Market!
When another set of time flies, it will soon be back to reality...

Saturday 1 June 2013

Cooking is fun

It has always a pleasure to cook for my family the past months since we're here. A privilege that I could not have, as often as a working mum. I've improved my culinary skills immensely and love exploring recipes much more than before. Of course, still much far off from a good chef.

The number of meals I have cooked here are definitely more than the number of meals I've cooked in the years of my living. I'm amazed at what I can do with raw food now.
Asian meals
Glorious food!
Western meals
Bakes and treats
Don't drool. I know how these pictures can torture a hungry person. Heh.

The Internet has made cooking so much easier in this era. With many great bloggers sharing their mouthwatering recipes, all you need is time and connection to get online for great recipes. I'm also thankful for sweet mummy friends who have shared some good recipes with me. Tried and tested, these recipes are even better keepers. Do share great recipes with me!

Home cooked meals are much more healthy than the food we consume outside. With known ingredients we add into the dishes, minimum or non-processed meats make Mummy's cooked meals much more healthy. Moreover, it's expensive to eat out over here. Every meal cooked is a sum saved.