Friday, August 31, 2012

Birthday Blast! A Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse birthday party

Mickey and Minnie Mouse are certainly 2 of the world's most well-loved characters and for this week, I am pleased to have guest blogger Susan Koh, one of Lifebuoy's ambassadors, guest post here on her daughter's recent 3rd Birthday celebration! :) 

Hi everyone. My daughter just celebrated her 3rd birthday and like most kids, she’s charmed by the classic Mickey Mouse and requested for that as her birthday party theme.


Party decoration
For decoration, we opted for a simple Mickey Mouse clubhouse banner from Toys R Us.

We also picked up the party ware from there which came with paper plates, paper cups, a table cloth and napkins.

We also brought out her Mickey and Minnie plushies and had them greet the guests as they arrived.

Having a Mickey Mouse theme is probably one of the easiest themes around as there is no lack of decoration ideas! If you’re feeling crafty, there are plenty of ideas from Pinterest, flickr and of course Mr Google :)

For her cake, Sophie specifically asked for a Mickey Mouse cake. Since she had two celebrations, we ordered two different cakes – one ice cream cake from Swensons and another regular chocolate cake from Bengawan Solo.

These are the two main cake shops that you can purchase Mickey Mouse cakes off the shelf without customization.

For games, I left it pretty much to my sister who was a gymnastics coach. And being a natural with kids, the children enjoyed the games very much.

We play simple games like freeze, duck, duck, goose and follow the leader. To inject some musketeer fun into the games, you can tweak classic games like Simon says to Mickey says. Or how about a hotdog dance off? It’s bound to be a hit with lots of fun and laughter.

Party favors
For the party favors, we got coloring books for them. We got two different versions of them for her friends in school and guests at home.

One version was from the Value shop in our neighborhood shop where they also sold other Mickey Mouse stationary, from photo frames, pencil cases and even notebooks all for under $5.

For the guests who came for the party at home, we included stationary like Mickey Mouse pencils and erasers for them. The little girls even received a red bow hairclip like Minnie Mouse. For her friends in school, we bundled the coloring book with markers and crayons.

Dress up
Last but not least, in your birthday, don’t forget to remind the guests to come dressed for the party. A Mickey Mouse theme party is a relatively easy that kids and adults will have no problem pulling off.

Susan is a full-time working mum to 3-year-old Sophie. As a working mum, she’s always doing the juggling act between the family and work, being a nurturing mum, a loving wife and a career woman all at the same time. So it’s no wonder that she’s titled her blog, A Juggling Mom.

This is part of a Birthday Blast series where blogger mum friends hop on over to share their birthday party planning tips and ideas. Next up, we have Elisa from who will be sharing with us a cowboy themed birthday party!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

DIY Teacher’s Day Gift – Yummy Homemade Jam!

Yup, Dumpling and I did the unthinkable. We actually decided to make Jam. But that is not all, we made it without Pectin! Pectin basically is the gelling agent which gives it the sponginess and makes the jam less watery.

At the time of this post, I basically searched through for pectin at Giant (3 branches), Phoon Huat (OOS) and Cold Storage (2 branches) without avail. I know that it can be done without pectin but I was worried that I’d end up messing it up!

With Dumpling’s insistence (and vote of confidence I must add), we decided to take a plunge. Here’s how it turned out!

I made 2 batches. Batch 1 was Blackberries and Blueberries mix while Batch 2 was with Raspberries.

Tempted to try making your own?

Here's what you need:

1) The fruits of choice (below - blueberries and blackberries)
2) Lime / Lemon Juice (this is something which I always have in my fridge)
3) Sugar (not in picture but I had left over from the scrubs we made)
4) Honey (without the use of pectin, the honey helps to gel it better and gives it a really nice flavour)



1) Wash and drain berries well

2) Blend it lightly (I prefer my jump to be a tad chunky)

3) Pour into pot

4) Add honey - I used about 4 to 5 tea spoonfuls
(based on the amount I have above - 2 boxes of 4.4oz + 1 box of 6oz) 

5) Add 2 teaspoons of lime/lemon juice

6) Add 4 - 5 tablespoons of sugar
(you will need to experiment with this as it depends on how sweet/sour you prefer your jam to be)

7) Cook over high heat for about 5 mins stirring constantly
(you can see it thicken slightly while bubbling)

8) Then simmer on low heat for about 15mins

9) For Raspberry Jam: I also added about 2 - 3 teaspoons of gelatin powder for the raspberry version as the fruit has very high water content and I found that it did not gel as well as blueberries

10) Scoop them into the bottles and cool down thoroughly before putting them into the refridgerator (this step is necessary for it to 'gel')
Note: all bottles need to be sterilized properly and dried thoroughly before use as it may turn mouldy otherwise)

And voila!

From this

to this:

Pretty them up in nice jars + ribbons :)

Looking for more yummy treats? Susan (my guest blogger for tomrrow's post BTW) from A Juggling Mom shares her recipe for cake pops here!

This is part of a DIY Teacher's Day Gift series. For the other gifts we made, click here!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DIY Teacher's Day Gift - Homemade Hands and Feet Scrub

I love toiletries - the smell, the colours and basically the entire 'concoction'. Of which, scrubs are my favourite. I love the thought of exfoliation and how the skin seems to look "brighter" and feel smoother. 

Sugar scrubs have been known for its many benefits - improving circulation, exfoliating away dry / dead skin and are even safe and great for children. With that in mind, I researched a bit and found out how easy it was to make sugar scrubs - nothing needed except for mixing!
All you need are:
1. Sugar (You can  go for "fine" or "extra fine" depending on the texture you prefer)

2. Liquid Soap
(I tried various brands and it really depends on what you wish. My personal preference was something more 'runny' hence some of the gel which I have from BodyShop were not suitable for us. In addition, Dumpling ONLY wanted strawberries scented so we finally ended up using a simple hand liquid soap from Guardian Pharmacy.)

3. Colouring

Step 1:
I measured how much sugar I needed by pouring into the jars which would be used for the scrub. Note, you need to add in about 30% more sugar as it seems to dissolve.

Step 2:
I then poured that into a mixing bowl (I used a disposable bowl so that I can discard it after use).

Step 3:
Next I added in the Liquid Soap. It will be best to add this in slowly so that you are able to mix the soap in and gauge if you prefer a more runny soap texture or something drier and more coarse. 

Step 4: 
Mix in a few drops of colouring (I used food colouring).

5 min affair - no cooking, no heating. Just mixing!

Dumpling and I made extra and had loads of fun using it ourselves - the granules were fine enough for her "baby skin" while the soap added a bit of fun lather. We gave it to one of her female teachers who oohed and ahhed over the smell and the pretty packaging too! :)

This is part of a DIY Teacher's Day Gift 4-part series. We also made notebooks and yummy marshmallow pops! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DIY Teacher's Day Gift - Marshmallow Pops!

Amongst Dumpling's teachers, there are 2 males. This is where it got me stumped. Notebooks are nice and pretty but I am sure her swim coach would not need it. I suggested a food item and Dumpling agreed to it. After we googled for some ideas and samples, Dumpling settled on Marshmallow Pops. 

They were surprisingly easy to make - no cooking required but just basic heating up, dipping and freezing.

Here's what the main ingredients: (from Phoon Huat)
(we bought 2 different types of chocolate chip but only used 1 for the teachers. The other packet will be used at a later date for hmmm... perhaps Children's Day.)

Note: Shortening is needed and was not featured as I had left overs from my previous "bakeouts"

Step 1:
To melt the chocolate, all you need to do is to place a "heat proof" container over a steaming pot of water. 

Step 2:
Add marshmallows

Step 3:
Coat marshmallows (you can use a spoon to turn it over)
Note: Do keep heat very low otherwise your marshmallows would melt along with the choc!

(Note: Dumpling had someone standing and holding her over the pot while she was dropping them in so please note to be cautious and have another adult around.)
Step 4: We added decorations and once cooled, froze them in the freezer

Out from the freezer

Waiting in to sample glee!

Dressing it up in a pretty jar, black satin ribbon and a personalised tag

Here's Dumpling handing it over to her swim coach :)

Tip: the choc melted and rubbed against the container as I packed them in (my fingers were way to hot) hence you can see a slight smudge above. You should use a satay stick or chopsticks to place them in the jar instead. :)

On a different note, I am very thankful that Dumpling has a really nice swim coach. I like that he is firm yet caring, has good rappot with young children and also encourages the kids to challenge themselves. Good teachers are truly hard to find. Here's link up with Justina for Thankful Tuesdays. :)

Looking for smore more edible Teacher's Day treats? Hop on over to mamawearpapashirt where a mummy blogger friend, June, shares the loveliest 'cup-a-cheesecake'!

Monday, August 27, 2012

DIY Teacher's Day Gift - Notebook!

I admire scrapbooking mums. I think that they are very talented and very patient. With Teacher’s Day coming right up, I panicked a bit thinking what to give to some of Dumpling’s teachers. After asking around, I realized that besides food items (except for religious and health reasons) notebooks seem to do no wrong.

I am not good with book scrapping (the pretty pieces look too delicate for my manhandling!) and can only "ooooh and ahhhh" over my talented mummy friends' FB pictures but I really wanted to make a pretty notebook!

So, after a walk in the trustable Daiso store, I was inspired and managed to make this!

So, here’s one for the non book scrapping mamas!

Level: Easy
Time needed: 20 mins max for the first attempt (try to do a sample copy and then for the next few, you can cut cloth and trace cover sizes in 'mass'. This shaved off a fair bit of time for me :) 

Above picture: Most of the items (except the white roll of cardboard which is from Popular)

Above picture: I tore out pages from this block of paper for the inside pages for the notebook

Above picture: You will need to cut out 2 rectangular pieces from the white roll of artcard paper (shown in Picture 1). One is for the cover and another is for the inside cover. The cover should be a tad bigger than the inside pages.

This is where I "cheated" and bought fabric for the cover. I cut out the fabric and pasted it over (middle picture above) and voila!

We then cut out a strip of lace as and wrapped around the cover before we tucked it under the inner cover and pasted the inner cover down.

The last step was to then place the inside pages in the middle and then staple / sew them to the cover. :) Look at how pretty they are! I love that how the prints on the fabric brought the entire cover to 'live'!  

Hope that these would be useful for non scrapping mums like me. :)

My goal for this week: a week of DIY gift ideas for Teacher's Day. Coming up tomorrow - food gift which your little one will enjoy making!

Here's linking up with Susan's Motivational Mondays!

Friday, August 24, 2012

$10 Meal - Dish 5 (Pan Seared AND Deep Fried Fish Fillet!)

Today is the last post for this week’s $10 meal series and we are back to western food!

I did not start out intending to prepare this dish but I chanced upon a super good deal at Giant! Check it out!

That's 2 packets at less than $4!!!

With the value deal, I decided to cook

Pan seared / Deep Fried Fish Fillet!

The items:

1) 2 packets of Sutchi Fillet ($3.59 from Giant)

2) A head of broccoli ($0.95 from Giant, this goes according to weight and I bought a medium size)

3) The remaining carrots left from Day 2’s Beef Stew (we had half a packet left – Cost: NA)

4) 1 can of mushrooms (yes, I know, we do a lot of shrooms! $1.15 button mushroom – from Giant)

5) 1 bottle of spaghetti sauce ($2.60 for the small bottle)
(Picture below shows a canned version and this is what we sometimes use for our dish when we do not wish to have any tomato based pasta)

6) 150gm of minced beef (Heh, as usual, I managed to scout for this promo from Giant - $1.335. You can of course buy more but because I was working around the budget of $10 so I went ahead to buy 300gm but split into 2 packets)

Optional: Replace spaghetti with mash potatoes (with left over potatoes from Day 2’s stew - $0.95)

Total Amount: $9.63 (for spaghetti version) OR $5.49 (for mash potato version)

Amount left: $0.37 OR $4.51

Isn't that amazing? This was the cheapest meal I made for the week yet it is the most comprehensive meal consisting of greens, carbs + protein!


1) Fish: I cooked 2 versions because I have tempura flour in my drawer.

~ For the pan seared version: pat dry, lightly rub some salt, pepper (optional: mixed herbs – mine is from MasterFoods - use lightly as the flavour may not be for everyone) to your fillets.

~ For the deep fried version: pat dry, lightly rub some salt, pepper before coating with tempura flour.
(Please read instructions on your tempura flour box if eggs need to be added before coating)

2) Pre-marinate the minced beef with pepper, corn flour and light soya sauce / Worchester sauce. I think we made something about 10 small beef balls

To cook:

1) Cut broccoli and slice carrots and steam with about 2 teaspoon of salted butter (you can skip the butter if you prefer a healthier version)

2) Add a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil to a pot of water and bring it to boil. Add spaghetti. (Read instructions for cooking time)

3) Pan sear or deep fry your fillets (depending which versions you chose). Depending on the thickness of the fillet and the flame on your stove, this can take about 5 mins per fish. Do “poke test” into the middle of the fillet to ensure that it is properly cooked. The deep fried fillet (if cooked with tempura) should also turn golden brown and be crispy.

4) Empty jar of sauce into pan. Add minced beef balls and mushrooms and wait till the beef balls are cooked.

5) Drain spaghetti, twirl it, place it on dish and add sauce (step 4)

6) Add fish (step 2) and vegetables (step 1) to the plate.

7) Served hot!

Version 1: Pan seared fillet with a side serving of meatballs and spaghetti, broccoli and carrots!

Version 2: Deep fried fillet with broccoli and carrots!
(No carbs option)

This is part of a $10 meal series. Click here to view the full range of recipes

Linking up with Jennifer's Foodie Friday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

$10 Meal - Dish 4 (Home made Yong Tau Foo)

After a few days of "meaty" dishes, I thought that it would be nice to share a dish that has more vegetables. :)

I like Yong Tau Foo. Besides being a healthy dish (if you choose the non deep-fried items), it is also a great way to get your greens. Instead of just fish paste, we usually add meat to it - sometimes minced chicken, sometimes minced pork.

I am not a fan of pork at all (hence 95% of the dishes we cook at home are sans pork) and this is one of the rare fish that I do not really mind it. When mixed with fish paste, it has a nice bite and flavour to it. So here you go!

Yong Tau Foo!

The items:

1. 1 packet of fish paste from wet market (Approx. $2.50)

2. 1 packet of lady’s fingers ($1)

3. 1 bittergourd ($1 – from wet market)

4. 1 eggplant ($0.80 – from wet market)

5. 1 packet of fishballs ($1.80)

6. About 250 – 300 gm of minced pork (you can replace this with chicken) (Approx. $2.80)

7. Optional: Tau Pok / Tou Fu. Depending on your family's preference, you can also choose other vegetables such as capsicums, green chili, etc.

Total Amount: $9.90

Amount left: $0.10


1. Marinate the minced meat with a dash of pepper, corn flour and light soya sauce. Leave to stand in fridge (covered with gladwrap) for an hour

2. Cut bittergourd breadth wise, scoop out the seeds, then continue to cut into circular rings and soak for a while in salt water before adding in filling

3. Slice egg plant into 2cm pieces and make a slit in the middle to stuff the filling (as shown in pic below)

4. Similarly, make slits in lady’s fingers (length wise) and add in "filling"

To cook:

1. Mix the minced meat with the fish paste(You can also add in a bit of salted fish if you choose to make this the Hakka way.)

2. Pan fry the bittergourd and lady’s fingers in step 2 until lightly golden
(You can skip this step if you prefer a healthier version but I prefer it to be lightly seared to get rid of the "raw" taste)

~ At times, we do a "dry version" where we fry this with fermented bean sauce instead. So if that is your preference, go light on the soya sauce when you marinate the pork.

3. Soup – we make ours with soybeans (about half a cup) and ikan bilis (half a cup too but presoaked) with about 1.5 litres of water and we boiled till ikan bilis are soft (usually about 30 – 45 mins but if you have more time, you can boil for a tad longer)

4. Add fishballs, bittergourd, eggplant and lady’s fingers to the soup.

5. We had left over “filling” and also some wanton skin in the fridge hence we managed to make some wantons which Dumpling loves together with fishballs and some other vegetables and toufu we have in the fridge.

6. As we had this for dinner, we served it with rice but you can serve it with noodles too

This is part of a $10 meal series. Click here to view the full range of recipes
Disclaimer: I did not include cost of rice as these are usually staples we have in our household. In the pictures above, we added Furikake to our rice for the extra omph!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

$10 Meal - Meal 3 (Seafood Mui Fan!)

Dumpling loves soup and prefers her rice and pasta to have gravy as it is easier to chew and swallow. Hence one easy and quick meal to dish out is Mui Fan :)

The ingredients:

1) 1 packet of fishcake ($1.50)

2) 1 packet of medium sized prawns (there were about 10 pieces in our box for less than $3) 

3) 1 packet of baby chye sim ($1)

4) 1 sutchi fillet (1 packet at $3.99 has 2 big fillets which we used 1 piece ~ Approx. $2)

5) 2 eggs ($0.50)

Total amount: $8

Money left: $2!

You can also substitute fish fillet for meat - chicken fillet / pork

To cook:

1) Fry about 1 teaspoon of minced garlic

2) Add fish slices  (we marinated ours with a bit of pepper, salt and cornflour) and prawns and lightly fry

3) Add chye sim and fry till it is half cooked

4) Add fish cake

5) Add water (we put in about 4 - 5 bowls of water and you need to estimate depending on how much gravy you want). Bring to boil and let it simmer till the veg has softened

6) Add in cornflour mixture (I used 4 table spoons with double that amount of water to it)

7) Once the gravy has thicken, crack the eggs and stir it in

Serve over rice

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

$10 Meal - Dish 2 (Wholesome Beef Stew!)

Following on from yesterday's Chicken Macaroni Fishball Soup, I thought it would be a fun challenge to do a stew and keeping it within the $10 budget! Here we go!

Wholesome Beef Stew!

Our household likes stew - there is something yummy about the gravy and the soft potatoes and carrots. For Dumpling, we sometimes use minced beef and make them into beef balls so that it is easier for her to chew. Paired that with freshly baked bread - crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, I am already craving for another round of this! :)

The items:

1) Beef Knuckle from Giant Supermarket (On promotion - $7.03)
(The knuckle can be used whole as a large roast, or can be cut up for stew meat or kebabs.)
Read more: What Cut of Beef Is the Peeled Knuckle? |

  2) 1 packet of carrots ($0.95)

3) 1 packet of potatoes ($1.55. We used 2 so it's approximately. $0.60 for 2 pieces)

4) 2 pieces of big Onions (Approx. $0.50)

5) 1 small can of button mushrooms ($0.80)

6) Optional: We used to add in herbs like clove (just 1), 2 cinnamon sticks and bay leaves (1 - 2 pieces) but Dumpling has not acquired the taste of using spices so I left them out. If your child likes celery, you can add that in too. :)

Total Amount: $9.88
Amount left: $0.12


1) Cut the beef into cubes and marinate with a dash of pepper, cornflour, light soya sauce (some prefer oyster sauce / worchester sauce so you can add that in too) and leave in fridge

2) Dice the potatos, carrots and big onions

3) Half the button mushrooms

To cook:

1) To cut down on cooking time, I steamed the carrots and carrots prior to adding them to the stew for approximately 20 mins

2) Fry the big onions till it is slightly caramelised

3) Add the carrots and potatos to the onions and lightly fry for a while

4) Add beef cubes

5) Add button mushrooms

6) Add water, cover and leave it to simmer (we usually need about 60 - 90mins)
(We prefer our beef stew to still be a tad chewy hence the simmering time is just about right for us. If you prefer yours to be extremely soft, you will need longer cooking time or you can use a thermal pot too) :o)

7) Add oyster sauce / light soya sauce to taste

Serve hot with rice / mash potato / french loaves!

Disclaimer: I did not include cost of rice / bread here as these are usually staples we have in our household. You can also add on more potatoes and eat this on its own without the rice / bread :)
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