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December 2013

(Self) Examination Happy days Milestones and growing up

Last post of the year

December 30, 2013

It’s the eve of New Year’s Eve’s and the pensive button is on. As per custom, I always do a good lot of reflecting during this time.

As I gather my thoughts and steady myself to move ahead for the new year, I can’t help but be filled with a heart of gratitude for the wonderfulness that made up the year 2013. This has been an awesome year even though I was mentally prepared for an insanely horrible one. I mean, I had grand plans to achieve a lot more in my career and to continue developing myself as an educator but Life would have it that we made the decision to go on one income and that I stay home as a full-time mother (nightmare enough for me already at the beginning!).

So the story of the year was practically about the journey of a mother struggling to grapple with staying home with three kids growing up all too quickly for her to handle.

And yet – and yet – the journey’s been filled with so much sweetness and fond memories that I am too embarrassed to be found complaining. Yes, it’s been challenging. Yes, it’s so much tougher than being at work. Yes, it took a greater toll on my health than I had imagined. Yes, I lived every day on the brink of insanity. Yes, if you’d ask me now if I enjoy staying home I would still be hesitant to say yes. But amidst all these, I’ve had the opportunity to live, laugh (and cry) and love every single day of 2013 that I would never trade for anything else in this world. No, not even for a day of peace and quiet at work. Not even if you whisked me off to a spa and pamper me silly (though that would be nice). I can’t even begin to imagine what precious moments I would miss. And I wouldn’t want to miss any of them.

The Year in Review 1

The Year in Review 2

This year, I’ve watched all three of my children grow. I’ve watched them learn. And I’ve watched them play. And at 4, 3 and 1.5 years old, they are together every day, playing, learning and laughing together. There’s the frequent fighting and squabbling, in addition to lots of kicking, smacking and quibbling. And yet it’s all together awesome to be in their lives at this point in time, watching them build their relationship with one another and building my relationship with each one of them.

The Year in Review 3

The Year in Review 4

Of all the years in my life, 2013 was my most meaningful.

I’m truly grateful that 2013 was a year worth living and one I would gladly relive if I had to. It was crazy, yes, it was; but it was all worth it. I did nothing great but I lived every day being mother to the children that God has blessed me with, and that to me is the most meaningful thing I can ever do. I’m hoping 2014 would be the same, and better.

I hope you had an awesomely meaningful 2013. Happy New Year, everyone!

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Oh December, you were too short

December 29, 2013

December has got to be the shortest month in the year. Time always flies whenever we’re having fun.

This December, we made some really beautiful memories together. Memories of the wet, dramatic and crafty kind.

In the first week of December, Ben and Becks were invited by Little Harvard International Preschool to join their ‘Christmas Crackers’ Speech and Drama Holiday Programme. We were told that the programme would be conducted by Daniel Jenkins, one of the executive directors of The Little Company and associate assistant directors at the SRT. I’ve heard of the name Daniel Jenkins in the theatre circles for a long time, and know that he’s a legend in his own right. I couldn’t wait for Ben and Becks to meet him and learn from him, and so to Little Harvard International Preschool at Jalan Gelenggang we went for the Speech and Drama Holiday Programme every morning for four days.

And I have to say, this was the best holiday programme we’ve ever attended. Ben and Becks loved it so much, they were ready and raring to go every morning. They absolutely loved Daniel Jenkins, or ‘Teacher Dan’ as the kids address him (or the uncle with the grey hair, as Becks endearingly call him). He makes them laugh, he plays fun games with them, they do craft together and get to pretend to be elves and reindeer. And he does that every day to the point they lament the fun at class is too short and wish they could go back for speech and drama “every day forever”, or so Ben says.

They were no tears, no need for long and sad goodbyes every morning when they were dropped off for the programme. And it was so wonderful I got two-half hours of me time for a few days!

For four days, they learned songs, did craft and practised for a mini concert on the last day. Every child got to play elf, reindeer, fairy or snowman, and all of them helped Santa spread the Christmas cheer!

So, I was really glad it was a drop off programme!

So, I was really glad it was a drop off programme!

It was indeed amazing to see Ben stand confidently, deliver lines and get into his role as an elf. And even more amazing to see Becks do the same. You’re talking about Becks, who’s almost always too shy to greet a person with confidence. She was one happy bouncy reindeer at the performance!

Introducing Ben the Elf, with his two other elf friends

Introducing Ben the Elf, with his two other elf friends

And Reindeer Becks who would be helping Santa with his sleigh

And Reindeer Becks who would be helping Santa with his sleigh

LittleHarvard_Christmas Crackers Performance 1

The children sing, “Here comes Christmas our favourite time of the year!”

LittleHarvard_Christmas Crackers Performance 2

And do a “Ho Ho Ho!” with a huge leap in the air!

And best of all, it got the kids excited about Christmas, this being the first week of December. With their craft work, we got decorations up and an elf and reindeer in the house all ready to spread the Christmas cheer. What an awesome job Daniel Jenkins did, and I must say, he’s really a legend indeed!

Everyone, meet the legendary Daniel Jenkins

Everyone, meet the legendary Daniel Jenkins

On the second week, the kids were also invited to Artz Graine, a leading arts studio, for their Art Eureka Holiday Programme. In the hour they were there, they made Christmas stockings to put up so that Santa can leave some presents in them.

Of course, these kids are too smart to know that Santa doesn’t exist and their stockings are too small for any presents.

Artz Graine Christmas Stockings

But all in the name of good fun and just cos’ it’s Christmas!

Our family also headed to Festive Hotel for a staycation on the third week of December. I’ve heard so much about the hotel’s deluxe family suite and when I chanced upon a 50% offer on the room rates, I had the suite – complete with a pull-out sofa bed for two, a loft bed and a king-sized bed – booked immediately. My favourite parts of the staycation had to be eating at Chili’s and spending the morning exploring the Hard Rock Hotel’s poolside that had water play features, a child-friendly slide, a jacuzzi and an entire area filled with the finest Australian beach sand.

There's nothing not to love at the Hard Rock Hotel's Poolside!

There’s nothing not to love at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Poolside!

The kids are into getting wet now and not as fearful of spraying water features and wading pools as they were before, so it was all very fun, fun, fun!

Two days of swimming at the Festive Hotel Pool and the ones at Hard Rock Hotel

Two days of swimming at the Festive Hotel Pool and the ones at Hard Rock Hotel

And just when we thought we’ve gotten enough of getting wet, Port of Lost Wonder at Sentosa sent us an invitation for a day of getting wet and to join them in their Christmas Joy activities.

Our tickets to fun at Port of Lost Wonder

Our tickets to fun at Port of Lost Wonder

Oh how we missed you, POLW!

Oh how we missed you, POLW!

We had ourselves another crazily fun, wet day at POLW, running around and in and out of the huge pirate ship, making Christmas candles and gingerbread cookies when we wanted a break from the spewing waters, and running around and in and out of the huge pirate ship again when we were done exploring the various activity stations.

Making Christmas candles

Making Christmas candles

We made some gingerbread cookies for our snack!

We made some gingerbread cookies for our snack!

We all got a couple of sun kisses that day, but hey, we ain’t complaining cos’ God gave such beautiful weather to play!

Lovely weather to play all day

Lovely weather to play all day

And to end the month on a sweet note, we had the most awesome Christmas party with the awesomest of company. They came, we ate (or rather, pigged out) and carolled. So spontaneously and melodiously.

P/S to my friends: So I wasn't allowed to put on youtube to make you all overnight singing sensations but you guys didn't say anything about being on my blog. Haha. Everyone's sketched so you shouldn't be too recognizable, yes?

P/S to our friends: So I wasn’t allowed to put you all on youtube to make you  overnight singing sensations but you guys didn’t say anything about being on my blog. Haha. Here’s the only picture I have of everyone singing.

And so ever happily. We are truly grateful for such wonderful friends and family in our lives.

December was NO WORK, ALL PLAY. One can never get enough of December!

(Self) Examination All this blog's PR Stuff

Getting in focus

December 27, 2013

When my three-year-old visited me at the hospital after I delivered my third baby, he innocently asked, “Um, Mama are you sure there’s only one baby? There should be another one, right?”

When I told him there wasn’t, he looked puzzled. He pointed to my tummy and asked, “Then why is your stomach still so big?”

Even after his littlest brother turned one, Ben would still turn to me to ask “Is there another baby coming?” cos’ that tummy of mine was still looking like I was five months pregnant. It never did manage to flatten itself away till this day.

I did three kids in four years and I never had the opportunity to return to any pre-pregnancy weight nor get back my pre-preggers figure. That’s shaken my self assurance a fair bit. This is the very reason why I stay away from selfies and insist that whoever that takes our photo only just takes face, neck and torso only, and that pictures that are not nice must be deleted and NOT uploaded on any form of social media. Most of the time, I’m just happy to be taking pictures of my kids. They are beautiful, yes, they are. Their Mama? Oh well, nevermind it’s alright.

Sad story, but true.

Developing camera confidence can be a huge challenge for a mother of three who’s practically lost her figure after three pregnancies and deliveries. That, and also the fact that full-time mothering demands so much from you that you’re perpetually looking haggard. Hands up if you who have spotted skin, uneven tones and new wrinkles carving into your face every day circling those sleep-deprived eyes like me.

And it’s no wonder that most women, like me, shy away from the camera the moment someone tries to snap a shot of us unexpectedly.  As we get older, we start to say no more and more to having our pictures or videos taken. If you don’t believe me, watch this video.

When did we stop thinking we’re beautiful?

I suspect we’ve conditioned ourselves, as we age, to think that we are not as beautiful as we used to be. “Getting old lah,” we say. “Don’t take my picture ah!” And we look away when we learn that we are being videoed or photographed.

We are our worst critics, I say. We are more beautiful than we think, but we just don’t want to think that.

According to the Dove Global Research, 63% of women have destroyed a photo in which they didn’t like how they looked, and 65% of women also say that having their photo taken or uploaded makes them more anxious about their looks. I used to belong to both groups, clearly in the category of those lacking camera confidence. I have to admit I was feeling and thinking the crappiest of myself for the longest time after having three kids and being consumed by full-time motherhood.

But there are steps to take to help un-crappify yourself (did I just coin a word?), as I’ve learned, so that you can feel confident even though nothing in your world is perfect. Yes, even if there are freckles on the face, hair that’s not been cut for months (heh, that’s me) and fats wobbling like jelly all around. But the bigger picture is this: if you choose not to freeze that moment in time (especially if they are precious growing up years of beautiful memories with the kids), it’s gone forever, you know.

So I say, it’s back to the basics with A SMILE, GOOD POSTURE AND GRATITUDE.

You’ll definitely have a sense of self-worth and positivity if you wear a smile, stand tall and have thanksgiving in your heart. Do that enough and I’m sure regardless of age or appearance, you wouldn’t find any reason to be covering your face when the camera starts rolling.

I may have less than a flat tummy and lots of cellulite all around, but with gratefulness in my heart for being blessed with a beautiful family, I think I’ll always remember to stand straight and tall, and to smile whenever there’s a chance to be captured for a moment in time.

Motherkao and the Kao kids

Will you do that too?

This post is sponsored by Dove. Dove is committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety and hopes to inspire all women to reach their full beauty potential by caring for themselves and each other. 

Visit www.DoveCameraConfidence.com to draw inspiration from ten ordinary women who overcame their camera shyness at the Dove’s Camera Confidence Workshop. You will also get a chance to learn from the experts on how to be more camera confident simply by sending them your questions on the site.

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The reason why these kpop stars would feature in a parenting blog like mine

December 26, 2013

the heirs wallpaper

And I’m back with regular programming!

Can I just say this before I resume blogging about motherhood and all the other kids stuff?

Kdrama is like CRACK! Gawd’, every day my entire being just screams MORE MORE MORE! Funnily, my addiction to Kdrama these past few days was more of a ginormous craving to read and read (and read some more) this witty, hilarious and clever blog that has all (I mean EVERY SINGLE KOREAN DRAMA there is on the face of this earth) the drama recaps, reviews and commentaries called DramaBeans. Boy, discovering it was like uncovering intellectual gold. I mean, it’s really such a priceless, precious commodity that one can ever mine in this vast unlimited space of the internet. Where else on the world wide web can you find such detailed minute by minute recaps complete with acutely brilliant commentaries deconstructing K-pop culture and dramas like you would get in an intensely intellectually gratifying prac-crit -like Lit tutorial? I mean, the people at DramaBeans practically just dissect and explain every single scene, trope, convention and dialogue so you  can plunge into dramaland so readily, easily and most happily, I would say.

I love dramas for the better part of my life before the kids came. Even after the kids came, I continued watching, albeit intermittently. I am a huge critic and I love to watch dramas just so I can expound the intricacies in plot development and characterisation, dig at inconsistencies, the flaws in logic and the casting and scripting. I watch mostly Asian dramas from Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan. I am a huge fan of TVB serials but as TVB dramas gradually began to disappoint (they keep getting weirder and cornier – Bullet Train, Triumph in the Skies II, Bounty Lady), I found myself angry with myself for wasting so much precious sleep time to stay up to catch them. Meaningless, as my husband would say, when I have clearly other priorities – namely sleep.

And for so long I kept myself away from Korean drama, largely because the earlier ones before the huge K-wave were way too s-l-o-w and their dialogues too boring. I wasn’t quite ready to join the Kpop mania yet (and I’m already too late, I guess) until the recent TVB dramas proved to be a huge waste of my time. Then I decided that Kdrama might stand a chance in rekindling my love for dramas in that they might just allow me to be drawn into their solid offerings to keep me entertained via suspenseful plot developments, strong onscreen chemistry, clever wordplay, powerful acting and goosebump-inducing melodrama. And so in the name of needing to unwind and escape, I searched Azdrama and was happy to find playful banter, good chemistry and tight plot development in the two Lee Min-ho dramas I caught when I signed off for my well-deserved break last week. (Ok, I actually cheated and didn’t finish Boys Before Flowers, the drama I had so wanted to watch back in 2009. Which is also the year I had my first kid. I read the recaps of BBF, which made me lol harder and louder instead. The other one I caught was Heirs, which made me drool a little with their charismatic cast, huge played up tension, subtexts and melodramatic rich boy-poor girl romance.)

I am now one happy addict!

Or perhaps, was would be more accurate, cos’ it’s time to go through the withdrawal symptoms and move onwards for next year with full-time motherhood and more things on my plate! But heh, I’ll never know when I might just succumb to that drama crack again.

P/S: No Kao kid was harmed in the few days their mom was on drama crack. They were given 40% Nick Jr, 20% Lego Duplo free play, 10% self-directed learning activities, 10% reading time and 20% random pretend play time. Drama crack mom squeezed in all the viewing when having private time in the bathroom, while nursing the littlest to sleep and patting the second one at tuck-in, and walking around the house in earphones. That, plus going with very little sleep.

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Versatility, uninterrupted: 10 reasons why you need to get that Philips Airfryer NOW

December 19, 2013

Ever since I started sharing on social media about my new kitchen wonder-tool, I’ve been getting quite a number of questions from friends, relatives and readers of this blog if the food that’s been cooked by my Philips Avance XL Airfryer tasted as good as they looked. And ever since my user experience post of the Philips Airfryer went live last month, I’ve gotten even more questions about the functions and specs of this versatile cooking machine, and if it’s really as good as I wrote it to be. Most of the people that’s approached me mainly have one huge doubt looming above their heads:

“Will it be worth my money? Does the air-frying really work?”

I am still very amazed by how technology has progressed to the point Rapid Air can be used to fry food similar to deep frying (but way much healthier), and how a kitchen gadget like this can achieve so much with so little effort that I’ve decided it’s time to answer all your questions in this post.

So here it is: ten reasons why you absolutely need to go get the Philips Airfryer for your kitchen and experience Rapid Air Technology for yourself.

Airfrying in progress

 1. The Philips Airfryer lets you INDULGE in fried treats guilt-free

Yes, it really cooks WITHOUT the oil. I don’t know how many incredulous gasps I’ve heard whenever I talk about the Airfryer and tell people you don’t need to add oil. Nobody seems to be able to come to terms with the fact that you can fry food without using profuse amount of it. And have the food still taste crispy. And cooked tenderly on the inside.

Let me share with you how it’s done. The Airfryer emits hot air from the top which is circulated rapidly and evenly within the device to cook the food and this is what goes into its unique design:

Airfryer info_uniqueness

And so the secret is this: it’s the temperature you select that helps make the food crunchy and crispy à la deep fried style. At a temperature of up to 200°C, the air moves quickly and forcefully within the Airfryer to add that perfect crisp to the exterior of the food that’s being cooked.

Recently airfried for dinner: tau kwa, shishamo and batang fish

Recently airfried for dinner: tau kwa, shishamo and batang fish

How’s that for technology. It doesn’t just remove the need to put an excessive amount of oil to eat things fried, it takes away every single drop of guilt too, especially for fried food lovers like me.

2. It’s a solid helper you can count on especially when you need to host

We host friends for dinner quite often and I am so, so glad for a kitchen tool that can help me cook food fast! Although I have to cook in batches with the Airfryer, I can now make different things in a shorter amount of time compared to using just only my stove and oven. Just last month, we had Fatherkao’s wine buddies come over for dinner, and thanks to the Airfryer, I could make Cajun fried wings in it (something spicy for the adults!) which would otherwise be impossible, while grilling honey wings that’s non-spicy for the kids in the oven and preparing aglio-olio and chowder on the stove. And because the wings can be airfried really fast (8 minutes at 200°C, and only 16 minutes if you have 2 batches), I was able to airfry two batches of shrimp toast with caviar for the guests as appetisers while we wait for the rest of the food to be prepped.

Cajun airfried wings: rub with salt, pepper, cornflour and Cajun spices and airfry for 6 minutes at 200 deg C

Cajun airfried wings: rub with salt, pepper, cornflour and Cajun spices and airfry for 6 minutes at 200 deg C

Pulse frozen shrimp, 2 slices of ginger, 2 cloves of garlic in the food processor; season with salt & pepper; spread paste on toast or slices of baguette, airfry to crispiness at 195 deg C for 4-5 minutes

Shrimp toast with caviar: pulse frozen shrimp, 2 slices of ginger, 2 cloves of garlic in the food processor; add dash of salt & pepper; spread paste on toast or slices of baguette, airfry to crispiness at 195 deg C for 4-5 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of Thousand Island Dressing and a little caviar or flying fish roe for decadence.

Takes awesome and healthy cooking to a whole new level, and increases the number of dishes you can place on the table for your guests too! Needless to say, our guests enjoyed all the food, including the airfried ones!

Good times and great food with the Airfryer

3. The Airfryer lets you grill, roast and gratinate too

FAQs and recipes in here, and more from www.kitchen.philips.com

FAQs and recipes in here, and more from www.kitchen.philips.com

Besides airfrying, the Philips Airfryer lets you grill, roast and gratinate. Once again, it’s knowing how to set specific temperatures and timing with your preferred recipes of glazed, marinated, or dipped-in-batter food that helps you do that.

Philips gives you a collection of Airfryer Recipes with every purchase of their Airfryer to start off your culinary adventures and the recipes come with recommended timings and temperatures. Once you get the hang of it, you are basically set to create on your own and cook up a storm!

4. Yes, air-baking is also possible

The type of heat transfer used in the Airfryer is that of convection, and this appliance allows you to leverage prolonged dry heat by this method of heat transfer to bake too.

To be honest, I was sceptical when I learned about this. Make that very sceptical. I bake a lot and it really makes me uncomfortable to know that Rapid Air Technology can be used to bake my desserts. Huh, like how is it possible?

So I had to try it, see it and taste it for myself.

I recently put a batch of Red Velvet cupcakes in both my Airfryer and my Ariston oven. My main gripe about using the Airfryer is that the space is tight and if I’ve got lots of batter, it’s gonna take me forever. But having said that, I could always use my oven to bake my stuff and let the Airfryer handle the leftover batter (which I often have) – and that would work perfect too!

I mentioned the the tight space...

I mentioned the tight space…

Anyway. Here’s the Red Velvet baked in the Airfryer (on the left) and in the oven (on the right). This was before they were frosted.

Red velvet cupcakes bf frosting

Airbaked to the left, from the oven on the right

As you can see, the one that’s airbaked is more fluffed and uneven. My mum-in-law, whom I was baking this batch of cupcakes for, thought I was making huat kueh (chinese fortune cakes)!

I wasn’t able to use the normal paper liners in the Airfryer. I had to use the more sturdy muffin cases, hence, the larger size for the airbaked ones. Before I frosted the airbaked ones, I also had to trim away the fluffed up bits to level each one for the cream cheese frosting (read: MORE work).

Red velvet cupcakes frosted

Frosted: the airbaked one’s on the right now with a red glazed cherry, while the one baked in the oven is on the left with a green glazed cherry

Cupcakes ready and waiting for Grandma!

Cupcakes ready and waiting for Grandma!

Taste-wise, I was surprised to find that the airbaked cupcake wasn’t cakey at all but instead tasted softer and fluffier than the oven-baked ones! I must say, I didn’t expect myself to prefer the taste of the ones baked in the Airfryer, but I did. I’m definitely sceptical no more.

It’s gonna be perfect for churning out small chiffon cakes and I’m thinking of making some for Christmas with my Airfryer already!

 5. It’s got super size benefits, yea, the XL kind

The Avance Collection Airfryer XL is 2100W and has a a larger cooking capacity at 1.2kg compared to its 0.8kg, 1400W Viva Collection counterparts. This means that if you’ve got a large family to feed, you get more capacity and enhanced performance in terms of power and speed. I LIKE! I have three tiny mouths to feed and three adults to cook for, and this big black mama is just perfect for its size and volume for the amount of food that needs to be prepped for the family.

 6. It cooks your food with precision and is designed to look futuristic cool 

The digital touch screen on the Philips Avance XL Airfryer allows you to control the time and temperature of your cooking in a more precise way, which is a huge improvement from its Viva (HD9220) with its turn timer and temperature control (but Philips has also recently launched the digital version of the Viva). It also has a unique starfish-grooved pan which is designed such that you don’t need to turn your food at all while it’s cooking in the fryer, plus a cool sleek exterior that shouts futuristic sophistication which makes all the other kitchen gadgets (at least the ones I have, some of them) look terribly ancient.

Sleek, sophisticated, cool

Sleek, sophisticated, cool

The future is already here.

7. No more running, scrambling or toiling

Three of the best things that’s ever happened when the Airfryer came into my life are:

(1) I no longer need to make a 1-metre dash whenever I fry something (think sliding a pomfret into a pool of hot oil – you run too, like me, don’t you?),

(2) I no longer need to scramble to take the laundry out when the frying begins, and

(3) I no longer need scrub the kitchen after the frying is over

My kitchen is a pathetically small space which means that oily deep-fried cooking smells get trapped in the confines for a long time whenever we attempt to fry our food. Before the airfryer came, one of the reasons why we hardly deep fry food is the ridiculous amount of cleaning that needs to be done just to have a plate of fried fish. There’s the stainless steel backing to wipe, the floor to clean and the oil stains on the wall to scrub. And every time we want to fry something, it has to be on a sunny day where the laundry can be hung out. I once tried to pan fry some salmon fillets with marmite on a wet day and our freshly done laundry hanging indoors ended up smelling so stinky we had to wash everything again when the meal was over.

Which explains why I never allow any frying to take place on a rainy day (I can’t hang the clothes out!). And why we would pay for deep fried almost anything from calamari to grouper to pork ribs when we eat at zi char stalls. And why we’ve been mostly slow-cooking and steaming our food.

The Airfryer comes with an integrated air filter to dissipate unwanted cooking smells. As the air inside the Airfryer takes only a short time to heat up, you can even open up the device even in the midst of cooking to check on the food / add seasoning / remove items, something impossible if you’re deep frying anything in hot oil.

I’ve placed my Airfryer close enough to the kitchen windows so that the hot steam can find its way out of my house (you’re advised by the user manual to leave at least a 10-cm free space at the back, sides and top of the appliance). Even then, that’s usually minimal and lasts a short while.

Placed near the window so the steam and fumes can dissipate quicker!

Placed near the window so the steam and fumes can dissipate quickly!

The last I checked, my kitchen floor is not greasy and there is no smell on my wall. My domestic helper is forever grateful.

8. No assembly required, just open and use

There are only three items that make this device: the cooking basket (with a basket handle) where you put your food (this is the 1st piece), the pan that collects the excess oil and food remnants (this is the second), and the main fryer unit complete with a control panel in front, air outlet openings and air inlet on top, and a drawer that holds the pan and basket which glides out to stop at a maximum distance like a sturdy tray table (this is the third).

No assembly required collage

No assembly required (clockwise): the Airfryer body unit; the Airfryer even when in use can be pulled out to a maximum distance (and nothing falls off); and the pan & frying basket

Yea, that’s pretty much it. Completely uncomplicated.

9. It’s easy peasy to wash and clean

You know how deep-fryers are, they are notoriously difficult to wash and clean. But not the Airfryer. There’s basically only the frying basket that needs a little scrubbing, and the non-stick starfish-grooved pan to clean. Some hot water, washing liquid and a non-abrasive sponge would do the job.

What’s more, you can place aluminium foil paper or baking parchment in it so the scrubbing is really minimal. Just make sure you give enough room for the air to circulate and not foil the sheets all around too tightly. If you’re worried about having to scrub off skins that stick to the basket, lightly brush the basket with a little olive oil and you pretty much would have an easy life cleaning up.

10. Fret not, you’ve got support

So even if the day comes and you’ve exhausted all the possibilities of creating food with the Airfryer, don’t throw the Airfryer out or banish it to some deserted shelf space yet! You can find hundreds of recipes to push your creative boundaries with the Airfryer by joining the ‘I Love Philips Airfryer’ social media community on Facebook, which is followed by 10,000 over fans from all around the world.

It’s really fascinating, the things that have been created and cooked by the Airfryer. You will definitely get some inspiration yourself, as have I. You can also ask questions and connect with people who are using the Philips Airfryer from all over the world.

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Chef Dable Kwan, the founder and owner of the ‘I Love Philips Airfryer’ community and pick up tips on how to develop unique recipes with the Airfryer at the Philips Airfryer Launch last month. She AIR grilled, baked, fried, gratinated and roasted five dishes for us to sample, and I was totally blown away. That woman is now officially my cooking inspiration! Do check out the recipes on the page to see what Dable and other fans of the Airfryer have created.

I got to watch a cooking demonstration and a cook-off, plus overeat (again) at the Philips Airfryer Launch

I got to watch a cooking demonstration and a cook-off, plus overeat at the Philips Airfryer Launch

With Chef Dable Kwan, my Airfryer inspiration!

With Chef Dable Kwan, my Airfryer inspiration!

I totally love the idea that it’s now possible to get so much “support” from people who are so willing to share their experience using just one kitchen appliance with social media, and being able to maximise that one versatile appliance to its fullest!

~~~

There you have it. I hope the huge doubt looming above your head is gone. Yes, the Airfryer really works. Really.

Cook with Air today! And here’s a discount code for you!

Cook with Air today! Quote [MotherKao] and buy the Philips Viva Digital Airfryer at $399(Usual price: $459 | FREE $50 SHOPPING VOUCHER) and Philips Avance XL Airfryer at $479 (Usual price: $539 | FREE $50 SHOPPING VOUCHER) at the PHILIPS EXPERIENCE SHOWROOM*.

This promotion is valid from 1st December till 31st January 2014.

*Limited to 1 Airfryer per person. IC must be produced.

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

Disclosure: This post is the part of a series of sponsored conversations with Philips Singapore. I was given the Philips Avance Collection Airfryer XL for the purpose of this review and paid to cook and eat 100% guilt-free by the good people at Philips but all opinions here are my own. 

 

Learning fun! Milestones and growing up The real supermom

The kiasu mother strikes

December 18, 2013

We’re all set for next year!

Weekly schedule prepared and learning wall updated – check.

Living room organised

Individual learning outcomes for Ben and Becks for 2014 – check.

Learning outcomes done

Learning spaces organised, materials for next year researched, purchased and tested – check.

Study room organised

I’m a scary, kiasu mother, I know.

In other news, I’m taking a break from blogging for a while (except for some of my scheduled posts which you would be seeing – look out for the Airfryer one tomorrow!) because I’m off to saranghaeyo (drama)land where melodrama prevails and love always triumphs all.

Need.to.escape. before a new year begins!

All this blog's PR Stuff Becks Kao Ben Kao Enrichment Learning fun! Reviews

Learning the Eye Level way

December 14, 2013

When I received an invitation from Eye Level to learn more about their programmes, I almost wrote back to say that my children did not have myopia (thank God!) and wouldn’t be needing programmes to help them improve their eyesight.

I mean, a place called Eye Level must have something to do with helping children tackle their vision woes, no?

Clearly, I was mistaken. And boy was I glad not to let my assumptions get the better of me.

Prior to their international rebranding last year, Eye Level Learning Center was widely known as E-nopi. Eye Level is a leading enrichment education provider that has its origins from South Korea and operates in 15 different countries with over 2.5 million students. It has established a significant presence here in Singapore since 2011 with 9 centres around the island and an enrolment of over 900 students providing enrichment in the areas of Mathematics and English for children between the ages of 4 and 14.

Eye Level holds steadfast to the educational principle of seeing things from a student’s perspective – hence, eye level. The name is inspired by a story about a teacher who was found kneeling down to look up at every painting he saw at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. His reason for appreciating art on his knees? He was an elementary school teacher and would be bringing his students to the museum the next day, so he wanted to know how they would enjoy every painting from where they stood.

At Eye Level, students learn at their own pace and are taught the invaluable skill of self-directed learning. Programmes are systematic and individualised to cater to each child’s learning needs and abilities, and customised using their unique methods of teaching and learning.

I was really curious how this would all translate into actual mastery of skills and concepts for my preschoolers, and since I almost never say no to outsourcing (a tired home-teaching mom also needs a break, yes?), the Kao kids (Ben and Becks) and I accepted their invitation to find out more about what this enrichment centre has to offer. The teacher in me also badly needed to know how it’s possible to get my three- and four-year-old to do self-directed learning.

We visited the Eye Level Learning Center at City Square Mall which I have walked past several times thinking it was an optometry shop with a designated play area for kids (yea, I thought that was really cool). What I immediately liked about the place: the environment was bright and cheery, and space appeared to be well maximised. I liked the bright colours, the fact that it wasn’t claustrophobia-inducing like some learning centres I see in some malls, and the cosy play area outside the centre with math games and English books that were within reach. The classrooms were spacious and the environment looked inviting enough for a child to sit down to learn.

Eye level exterior environment

Eye level interior environment

I learned also that there’s a lot of flexibility and individualised learning taking place in each classroom. At Eye Level, there is no structured lesson where the teacher conducts teacher-talk. The uniqueness in their programme lies in the quality of their materials and the fact that each student’s learning is customised for them by the levels determined by these materials (more on that in another post). The student turns up for the time slot he or she has chosen every week (or twice a week) to complete the assigned work with a certified instructor who would then guide and provide feedback. This means that a range of students of different ages can be in the same classroom but the students are all doing different assignments acquiring different skills and concepts. There would be no more than 8 students for the older age group in a class at one time but students as young as Becks (3 years old) would usually get one-to-one attention.

What is also interesting is that there is also no fixed duration for each lesson. Every week, work is assigned (with a skill / concept to master) and the child will be trained to do self-directed learning (with guidance from the instructor available) according to his or her own pace. The activities in the materials are designed to be completed in an hour, but there is no rule that says the student has to leave after one hour or stay till the hour is up. Each lesson is flexible in that it follows the child’s pace, and keeps the big picture in mind: that the student has a concept / skill to learn and that the objective of the lesson is that the student learns it well no matter how long it takes.

Ben and Becks enrolled in Eye Level’s Math Programme and Play Math Progamme respectively early this December after taking their diagnostic tests (that is why you are seeing pictures of them in the classrooms!), and I am pleased to be taking on ambassadorship for Eye Level and to be sharing with you more about Eye Level, come next year. I will also be writing updates on the Kao kids’ progress, as well as show you a glimpse of some of Eye Level’s very excellently designed learning materials.

The kids have gone for two lessons now, and so far, it’s been something they look forward to this holidays. They are, surprisingly, getting very proactive in their learning, which I’m glad for, and picking up some mathematical concepts which is otherwise quite difficult to learn from their math-dumb mom (another post, another time about my inability to handle numbers). We’re all looking forward to more meaningful learning next year, so do watch this space!

Eye Level for Ben and Becks

Eye Level for Ben and Becks 2

More details:

For more on Eye Level’s Math and English Programmes, visit their website or connect with them on their Facebook page. To find an Eye Level Learning Center near you, check out the locations of their centres here.

AND JUST FOR MOTHERKAO READERS:

Eye Level is extending a promotional offer to all Motherkao readers! For $10 (usual price $60), your child can take the diagnostic test, attend a trial lesson (30-45 min) and get a complimentary study skill analysis.

Eye Level $10 voucher

Simply quote [Motherkao] to enjoy this offer via walk-in to any of the Eye Level Learning Centers island-wide. You can also leave a Facebook message on Eye Level’s Facebook Page or make a telephone enquiry to any of the Eye Level centres.

Disclosure: Ben and Becks have been invited to attend Eye Level’s Math and PlayMath for a term of three months. Motherkao has accepted sponsorship for her reviews of their programmes and endorsement of the centre. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own (with input from the two Kao kids).


				
					
				
		
				
												
	
All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves... Product Reviews

Eating up a Winter Wonderland

December 13, 2013

You know Christmas is here when the kids got to experience a winter wonderland in a totally new way.

Last week, the kids gathered around the Winter Wonderland Cake that the good folks at PrimaDéli sent over, and squealed with delight as they drooled over a fresh cream-covered blackforest sponge adorned with strawberry snowmen, chocolate mushrooms, white chocolate snowflakes and sugared Christmas trees!

PrimaDeli Winter Wonderland Cake

The Winter Wonderland cake from PrimaDéli’s Christmas Collection this year was such a treat for the eyes and oh so pretty! Just hovering around the cake for three minutes got Ben, Becks and Nat very, very, thrilled. They couldn’t wait to eat what they were seeing.

And chomped down those sugary treats they did. They were on an all-time sugar high after savouring all the things that made up the winter wonderland.

PrimaDeli Kao Kids

And so was I. There was also a little hut made of yummy dark chocolate which I made the kids stay away from – cos’ it was mine to indulge in. Hurhurhur. That, plus the awesomely light and decadent blackforest cake wrapped in fresh white cream. Mmm…mmm.

We cleaned up the wonderland in a matter of minutes and had ourselves a truly merry time picking (from the cake), licking (the sweet treats) and laughing (at our cream covered faces).

Oh what a night! Is Christmas here already? Merry Christmas, everyone!

PrimaDeli Christmas is here

Thank you, PrimaDéli, for letting us experience winter wonderland with our senses this Christmas!

Christmas makes a great reason to feast, have a party and be merry! Excite the kids with a colourful array of PrimaDéli’s sweet treats this holiday and get everyone in the festive mood for the coming Yuletide.

PrimaDeli Christmas (Group shot)-1

The cheery Winter Wonderland cake (approx 760g)  is available at PrimaDeli at $45.90. Other treats suitable for children also include The Gingerbread boy and girl sold individually and priced at $2.50 each; Christmas Cupcakes (in a set of nine, of any one flavour which includes Chocolate Divine and Vanilla Cinnamon amongst others) priced at $27; Merry Cookies (a selection of Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Tarts or Deluxe Almond Cookies) at $14.80 a tin; and Chef’s Supreme Pie (16cm diameter) priced at $11.90.

The PrimaDéli Christmas Collection 2013 is available from 21 November to 25 December 2013. The closing date for all Christmas orders is 20 December 2013. Check out more on PrimaDéli’s Christmas Collection here.

Disclosure: We received the Winter Wonderland cake with compliments from PrimaDéli. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Happy days Nat Kao Product Reviews

Getting BIG HUGS this Christmas (featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo!)

December 10, 2013

It’s Christmas time!

Nat goes to the stores. Nat sees Elmo at a toy fair.

Nat sits down to watch promo clip. Nat is fascinated.

Watching Elmo

Nat wants a picture with Elmo. No, make that a picture with many Elmos.

Toy fair

Nat goes home. Mama’s not buying any.

Hasbro Singapore sends the Kao kids an early Christmas gift!

Card from Hasbro

 And…

Kao kids with Elmo

The kids are thrilled. Nat is MOST thrilled.

Nat and the BHE box

 Elmo asks for a hug and Nat gives it.

Hugging Elmo

Elmo asks Nat to hold him tighter. Nat obliges.

Hugging Elmo tighter

They have a conversation. They laugh. Elmo sings. Nat giggles.

Talking to Elmo

Best Christmas present so far!

Loving Elmo

Big Hugs Elmo is an interactive and educational plush toy that invites preschoolers to cuddle, pretend, sing, dance, and explore while learning the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colours and more. Your child can give and receive hugs from the Hasbro Playskool Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo who would move his arms to return a hug, plays songs, dances with your child and engages him or her with four fun imaginative activities, including playing astronauts and playing rabbits.

Disclosure: Christmas came early for the Kao kids when Hasbro Singapore sent over Big Hugs Elmo on behalf of Santa. We received the latest offering from Hasbro for the purpose of this review. Motherkao received no monetary compensation for this post and all opinions here are my own.

P/S: Pardon the poor picture quality from my S3. We were all so entertained by the giggling pair (Elmo and Nat!) that we couldn’t stop shaking while snapping pictures of them!

Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The darndest kid quotes and antics The Kao Kids

Sound bytes of our lives: the darndest things we say (II)

December 9, 2013

You know that things have gone one full circle and return to bite you back when your kids say these to you:

 Me: I want you to listen to me. Follow my instructions. Do this now.

Becks: (whining) No…. I… don’t…want…

Me: Why?

Becks: Because because because.

Me: -_-

~~~

Ben: Can I please, please, please have another Transformers toy?

Me: No.

Ben: Why? But I like Transformers.

Me: Just so you like it doesn’t mean I have to buy everything for you.

Ben: Why not? You want me to lose my temper?!

Me: -_-

~~~

Ben: Ugh. I don’t know how to transform the toy back la! Mama, can you help me?

Me: I don’t know but I’ll try. (fiddles with it) Here you go.

Ben: Aiya, Mama. LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE! This flap cannot close back now. Haiyo, you ah. You must try harder.

Me: -_-

~~~

And in other news

Ben: I know that Santa isn’t going to be putting our presents under our tree. You and Dada are going to be the ones who will wrap them up, and put them under the tree. Right? There’s no such person as Santa Claus.

Me: Yes, that’s right.

Ben: Then why do all the children think that they will get a present from him? He’s not real what.

Fatherkao: Am I talking to a four-year-old here?

~~~

Hey Santa, are you real?

Hey Santa, are you real?