An Eucalyptus Scented Farm

It has been some time since we had a bin to play with. We used to have our bin time in the kitchen to make cleaning up easier. However, Mocha has taken over the kitchen space. We have also been exploring with play doughs which are easier to bring over to the grandparents’ as it is less messy. Anyhows this was a couple of months back when C has not well.


I put together a farm, inspired by her favorite book then, used some oats as the base (the same ones from the apple tree farm), borrowed some hay from Mocha and threw in the farm animals which were from Fisher Price’s Little People series. I also dripped a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to help C with managing the fever and blocked nose.

She has since been more acquainted with the farm animals, especially the cow and rabbit.


  

Since the bin was set up in the living room, I laid a towel to help with the cleaning up. After C was done with the bin, we packed the animals and I wrapped up the towel with the spilled oats and grass before settling her for a nap. All I had to clean later was the towel. Easy! Now I need to find a larger towel for our sensory plays.

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SW Australia Day 9-10: Balingup

Balingup was planned as a break from Denmark back to Perth, as we didn’t want to cover the same places again. We decided to head towards inland and just relax at Balingup.

On our way to Balingup from Denmark, we dropped by the Tree Top Walk, which was an amazing experience! It was really calming to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature 40m above ground. C enjoyed her walk despite the height. The photos were unfortunately lost in transit between phone and the computer.

As soon as we checked in our accommodation at Balingup, we were recommended by our hosts to get some fresh produce from Newy’s Vegie Patch if we intended to cook during our stay. It was about a 15 minutes drive and we got a ourselves a basket full of produce to last us for 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners: veggies, fruits, meat, pasta etc.

C settled down pretty quickly and enjoyed the toys that were kindly provided by our host. They did keep C entertained at home throughout our stay.  

The accommodation also boasts of 5 alpacas and a little farm/garden. Our host kindly invited us to help pick the raspberries which were so fresh and sweet!

As most eateries at Balingup do not open for dinners, we decided to cook. We had steak, carrots, potatos and a whole lot of fresh strawberries and cherries, while C had salmon and potato mash.

    

The next morning, C helped Daddy with picking some basil for breakfast. We had sausages, eggs, bread, bruschetta, coffee and tea. Simple fare but so good! 



Our itinerary at Balingup is extremely relaxing. We visited the Lavender Farm (which I have been looking forward to) and dropped by Bridgetown because it looks busy enough as we drove past on the first day. I read that there are a whole lot of other nature-based activities that you can embark at Balingup but we really just wanted to recuperate from all these traveling, so we are taking it real easy during this leg of the trip.

The lavender farm is of a rather humble size but it has a gift shop well stocked with all things homemade and lavender: soap, oils, culinary, diffuser etc. We also enjoy the lavender cookies and ice cream! 
  

Before we left, the owner gifted us bunch of FRESH lavender (which the husband had intended to buy for me). Bonus! I think that’s because we bought A LOT of things from the gift shop. Ha!

After the farm, we had lunch at Bridgetown and shopped along the main street. I particularly enjoy the vibe of this quaint little town, with lots of small local establishments. Best of all, there is a fabric shop! Who would expect a fabric shop in a small town?

We headed back early and did nothing, but to enjoy the view and sounds of nature at the verandah.

The husband had fun with the dogs,

while C had her first dandelion experience.

We cooked dinner: ravioli and baked portobello with salad greens and cherries. We packed our luggages, retreated early to gear ourselves for the long drive back to Perth!

Balingup is a really easy and relaxing leg of the trip and we are definitely planning to return back to explore more (when we visit WA again).

The rest of this series can be found here:
Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: On Itinerary
Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: On road tripping
Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: Accommodation, Food and etc in SW Australia
Activity Kit for Little Travellers
SW Australia Day 1 & 2: Fremantle
SW Australia Day 3-5: Margaret River
SW Australia Day 6-8: Denmark and Albany

A (Maternity) Peplum Blouse and a Little Skirt

Wearing me-made maternity clothes definitely up the win factor every single morning, knowing you have something nice to wear. I would prefer to make something that I can wear in this all-rounded body and post partum as well. I have been wanting to make a peplum blouse and was pretty much inspired by this tutorial from cottonandcurls.

I used a floral piece of Nani Iro from their 2014? collection which I bought in Japan last year. I am loving the metallic sheen woven in the fabric! It is also a double gauze, which is also perfect for the weather in Singapore, especially with the heat flushes that comes along in the third trimester.

 

What did I do differently from the tutorial?
1. I used my bodice block which ends nicely at the waist instead of an existing blouse that I have, and added the peplum waist down.

2. I wrapped the fabric around my waist (fabric is 42 inches wide, which barely covers the pregnant belly) and figured that I would need 2 times the width for the peplum.

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3. Length of peplum was about 30cm

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4. I added about 10cm to the waist for some comfort using this method.
I also used a beige polka dot biase tape to neaten the armhole and neckline. It definitely up the cute factor.

This peplum blouse was a real quick project, completed in 3 nights. I drafted the pattern and cut the fabric on the first, traced and sewed up the pieces on the second, installed the zip and added the bias tape and all on the last. So tempted to make another one! I am definitely enjoying the ease at the waist and the new floral addition to my wardrobe. Floral prints make me happy!

What makes me even happier is that I managed to sew a little skirt for C using the eleastic waist tutorial. I will make a million of these! So quick and simple!


Homemade Applesacue

All in the package of finding recipes for tomato sauce and meatballs, I came across the applesauce. Well, it has been siting in my pinterest board for a while so it’s time to get down to making some. Applesauce is essentially apple purée. It can be eaten on its own as dessert, goes so well with meatballs, as a dip or spread with biscuits and bread, topped with oats and yoghurt. The possibilities are endless. Plain apple sauce can be offered as a first food for babies at 6 months old, and you add in a little of flavours as your baby gets older.

Applesauce is so easy to make. I usually make a jarful which lasts me over a week or a little more. To make this applesauce, you will need:
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5 small fuji apples (the ones i bought are really small. These 5 when chopped up, fills the entire Beaba container)
1 cinnamon stick* (or a dash of cinnamon powder)

How to?
1. Peel off the skin of the apples.

2. Cut the apples into smaller pieces and throw them into your cooking ware. Add in the cinnamon stick too.
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3. Steam the apples till soft. Remove the cinnamon stick when it’s done.

4. Blend the apples to the consistency you prefer.

I am using my Beaba to make the sauce (steaming and blending). Alternatively, you can steam it and blend it using whatever equipments you have. You can also cook it in a pot over the stove.

*Cinnamon stick works better if you are cooking the apples over the stove. I find that steaming doesn’t release the aroma of the cinnamon. It could be just a personal preference. I ended up adding a dash of cinnamon powder.

And there you have a jar of delicious applesauce!

Takeaways from Parenting as a Mother of One

  
As we are preparing for the arrival of our number two, I took some time to think about our past 1.5-ish years with our first born. She is our happy pill, the goofy one who taught us that happiness comes from the little things in life. It is quite a joy to hang out with her. We are definitely very lucky that she is relatively an easy baby too.

There are so many things that we learned from her along the way by here are my three main takeaways on parenting.

One thing I learned is to observe. I think (or choose to think) I am not the very kiasu type who reads up in every single parenting book there is in the universe. Truth to be told, I only read “French Children Don’t Throw Food” (or “Bringing Up Bébé), which isn’t even a book on parenting in the first place. It’s about the American author’s parenting experiences in France, and she compares the French way with the Anglo-Saxon’s. This book has certainly opened my eyes to a different style/mentality of parenting that I am used to. I first learned about observing from this book. Don’t be too quick to attend to your baby at the moment he/she cries or fusses (not that you shouldn’t). Take a moment or two to observe and you’ll mostly figure out a pattern. As they grow older, I learned to observe the likes and dislikes, behaviors, character etc. I also enjoy observing our little friend at play and not be too quick to jump in to help or interrupt her ‘me time’ at play.

Another key takeaway from the book is the cadre which is essentially the framework that makes up the principles of parenting. The husband and I discussed about our cadre and figured other things out along the way. It is very important for both parents to be on the same page! There are a few things that we stand firm on: Christian values, happy responsible children, eat well/enjoy food, close relationship with them, independent etc. We want to minimise screen time, go out and play, and to introduce to her the things that the husband and I enjoy so that we can enjoy the activities together. We also agreed that values need to be taught. So within this cadre, it allows flexibility as and when the needs arise. It is important for us parents to know what we want and how to bring up our kid. Most importantly it is to strike a balance between bringing up the child that you have, and the child that you want. This is also where observation comes into the cadre.

Children can be taught at a young age. Children are never too young to learn. I don’t mean sending them to music and math classes at 1 year old and what not, but rather to learn about manners, responsibilities and other life skills/values. For example, I know I want her to eat at the table because I don’t want to be chasing the kid around the house during meal times. So as soon as she can sit up and support her back, we got her a high chair and have her join us at meals. We try to have her eat with us as much as possible. We also teach her to keep her toys. Though it may take us a longer time to tidy things up, we know our efforts did pay off when our little friend surprised us by keeping her toys in the bag and putting the bag back to where she took it from. Yay!

Manners and values can also be taught, albeit it may take a little longer as it also involves communication skills. Soon after she turned one, I found out about baby signing from a colleague and read up a little about it. I did not know when our little friend will speak her first words so I thought signing is pretty useful as a tool of communication for both of us. We started with scared, hungry, tired, delicious etc and moved on to thank you, please, I’m sorry. Now that she can speak a few words, we are also teaching her to say please or ask for help with simple words that she can manage instead of responding to her “baby talk” immediately. So far she can follow after us with some signing.

Now with another coming along, we got to make it a point to teach her to love her younger sibling and maybe to help around to. I’m also quite sure it will be an exciting journey with two little humans below 2yearolds! We shall see how things turn out 🙂

Besides lesson on parenting, our little friend has also inspired me to be better, more courageous to venture into the unknown. The husband and I have some exciting plans coming up, other than expecting number 2. Everything is still in the planning process and we hope to announce it soon!

SW Australia Day 6-8: Denmark and Albany

This is the furthest and longest leg (in terms of traveling on the road) of the trip. We left Yallingup mid-morning, made a pitstop at Pemberton after 2 hours and finally reached Denmark after another 2 hours.

There’s nothing much at Pemberton and we only dropped by the main town.


 

 

It was pretty unfortunate that the weather wasn’t kind to us at all. NOT AT ALL! It rained, drizzled over 2 days and was extremely cold for us to spend time at the beach. Denmark is the place we had planned for some solid good beach times.

We stayed at a very cosy house with a lovely host. We have the whole ground floor to ourselves even though our hosts is residing upstairs. She is always available when we need help and other times we are pretty much to ourselves. She has a small collection of DVDs and books for us to enjoy. C made herself at home immediately.


There is a small front yard where C enjoyed spending time playing with flowers. This was her morning ritual the whole time we were there. 

We spent our first day at Denmark grocery shopping in preparation for the next day till we hit the farmer’s market on Day 8 and reconfigure our plans for wet weather programme. It was so cold that our airbnb host had to start a fire for us! 

 

Day 7: Denmark

The weather continued to be  cold and gloomy so the beach is definitely out of the plan. Can you imagine how perfect Green Pools would be?

We took our time in the morning and decided to head to the Visitor’s Centre for better indoor suggestions. I really love this board that informs you of all the eateries’ availability for each meal. Because Denmark is a small cosy town, not all eateries are open for dinner.


Since it is pretty much going to drizzle the whole day, we decided to explore the town area and shop. We particularly enjoyed the antique shop and a wooden toy shop where we bought a few toy sets for C. Sorry no photos because I was too sian to capture anything. We also had lunch at Mrs Jone’s Cafe. Simple but really amazing fare. We had a late breakfast and needed somewhere to get away from the cold so it was cake, muffin, wrap and a smoothie(not pictured) for us.  

The cafe also has a toy box to keep little humans entertained. 

We popped by Bartholomews Meadery for some honey and ice cream treats.

There’s a small window in the shop front where you can see the bees and the hives and comb etc. Ice cream was good!

We passed by this huge play ground earlier in the day and decided to let C run a bit while we have our take away dinner. Seafood Platter and sweet potato fries from Mad Fish and Chips was really good stuff!

This is the section for older kids. 

They also have a smaller section for younger children. Sandpit, a simple slide, stairs tunnel, tic tac toe and a mini excavator ride.

  

Coffee from Ravens was also good. I got myself a cup to keep my hands warm. ha! 

Day 8: Albany

Albany is an absolutely beautiful coastal town (from what I remembered when I visited at 12) but the weather doesn’t permit us to enjoy fully. We had planned to visit a berry farm on our way to Albany, checked the opening days/times from their brochure but were very disappointed to find them closed till mid December. No berry picking 😦 If you are planning to visit any berry farms, call to check if they are open!

First stop at Albany was the Farmer’s Market. Small but well stocked. We bought some vegetables, bread, coffee and really really fresh milk.


We had also planned to visit the Discovery Bay but it was raining so we went shopping at Kmart. After lunch, we also dropped by The Gap (which was closed) and The Natural Bridge, a granite formation caused by the gradual weathering and erosion by the Great Southern Ocean.

We drove around and visited the Wind Farm too. Pretty massive and amazing.  

We were very thankful that C was so cooperative even though there weren’t much to see. On our way back to Denmark, we went to hunt for Kwoorabup Community Adventure Park. It is a nature-based playground where there are no slides and swings, just elements from nature like soil, timber, sand, leaves, etc. The husband and I really loved this concept of the playground and we were glad that we came. C sure enjoyed herself. She climbed over tree trunks, touched some dirt and had lots of space to run.

It was a tad disappointing that we didn’t get to explore much due to the weather, especially when we drove all the way down south. Even our host mentioned that she had to dig out her winter wear and such weather is unusual during summer. At least our luggage were full from all the shopping at Kmart. With shopping done at Albany, it frees us some time to do a little more at Perth.

The rest of this series can be found here:
Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: On Itinerary
Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: On road tripping
Traveling with a 16-Month-Old Toddler: Accommodation, Food and etc in SW Australia
Activity Kit for Little Travellers
SW Australia Day 1 & 2: Fremantle
SW Australia Day 3-5: Margaret River

Dairy Folks – Milk from a Local Farm

Last week, I shared about offering C UHT full cream milk instead of formula milk. As much as we are comfortable with that, we are also looking for better milk options.

Why better milk options?
You see, UHT milk is milk that has undergone ultra high temperature to kill off any bacteria in it, hence the long shelf life. This also minus off the some of the nutrients and enzymes in milk itself that are required to digest the casein which is indigestible. Then again, a lot of the organic milk that are available in Singapore have gone through UHT too.

Fresh milk? Full Cream Milk?
This article was very informative on what are the different types of milk and milk jargons. Before you decide on what milk to offer to your toddler, you might like to read up a little more on the milk jargons. After a mini research, I conclude that fresh milk is a general term that refers to milk that is non UHT, needs to be refrigerated, with a best-before date within 1 week plus or shorter. There are full cream fresh milk, low fat fresh milk etc.  There many variations of what goes, or does not goes, into the milk. So it’s important to read the labels properly.

On the other hand, full cream milk (aka full fat milk, regular milk) is milk that contains about 3-3.5% butterfat. It can be homogenised, which is an additional process that spreads the fat content evenly throughout the milk. It can also be non-homogenised, which you can tell by the creamy fat layer sitting on top, like chilled breastmilk.

Disclaimer: this is purely how I interpret these two milk jargons. I am also not sponsored by Dairy Folks. I am writing based on my experiences. 

So what is a better option for us? 
It has to be milk (real milk), hormone- and antibiotic-free. I am exploring the option of offering fresh milk, since it doesn’t goes through UHT and well, non-homogenized if possible as well. Organic milk is way too expensive, so whatever we decided on has to be within our budget. The family currently enjoys Meiji Fresh Milk. We follow a general guideline as follows:

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What have we decided on?
Before I share with you what we have decided on, I found this article  which provides a great summary on the milk brands available in Singapore.


I found out about Dairy Folks form the same article and decided to read up a little more about them. It meets most of my requirements: real milk, hormone and antibiotic free, full cream (because no fats removed), single pasteurization (which is fine to me. Remove bacteria and all right), not homogenized (YAY!), feed with grass and cows living in Singapore are really additional bonus. You can’t really go wrong with food stuff in Singapore with its stringent rules and such.

It is almost twice the amount we pay for Meiji but we can make do with it for now. We are currently trying it out and see how it goes. It is not sold at supermarkets but delivery is free for orders SGD20 and above. Since the family enjoys fresh milk, we can share with C, so that we can chalk up the orders and qualify for free delivery. And support local at the same time!

The milk from Dairy Folks comes from Holstein Freistein cows, which produces A1 milk. I have also read about the debate between A1 and A2 milk. I wouldn’t go into that over here but it might be a piece of useful information to some mummies.

What I really enjoy about the milk is that it is creamy but without the milk taste like the full cream UHT ones. C even enjoys it chilled. Yay! No more heating up of milk! While it may also take some planning ahead of ensure a constant supply for fresh milk, we have also figured out the delivery days for our area and worked out a plan. We just have to be home to receive the milk. Now I wished Dairy Folks may consider a form of milk subscription of some sort!