Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Okinawan goodies

Sirotan is the name of the little seal which adorns today's tea-time bento. Isn't he really cute? He shares the same birthday month as our nation. His birthday falls on 8 Aug, the day before National Day.

My sis just came back from a short trip to Okinawa to attend a conference. She picked up a few goodies for me. Thanks so much sis. I really love the cakes, donuts, t-shirt and everything else.

Too adorable. Can't bear to eat. They come in 3 different expressions.

Furoshiki printed with cute Sirotan. It's a 2-in-1 gift. :)

Mini donuts perfect for bento packing. There is also a bag of chocolate.

Bite size yummies.

Some bento accessories she picked up for me. Even though I have almost everything she bought, I still really appreciate her effort in hunting bento stuff down. :D

I'm glad that she had a good break in her dream country, and left there with great memories. She has finally set foot on Japanese soil whereas I am still counting down the days to when it's my turn. Although she has now gone back to Perth, I treasured the short meetings she took time out for, while here, to spend with me. Till we see you again, hopefully at Christmas.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back to school bento

While my girl was getting ready for bed last evening, she said this to me - I can't believe I am going back to school tomorrow, and, I can't remember my classmates! Oh boy, haha. But when she actually sat down and went through the class register in her mind, she remembered every one of their names. :)

The poor girl is missing her dad. On the first evening that he wasn't around, she said that she wished he was home and that she can't wait for him to get back. I distracted her by going online shopping at Zara picking out clothes to get her dad to buy from Spain. We were also looking at stuff from H&M but there weren't many choices to pick from.

Around 6plus this evening, she commented that her dad usually comes home at that time. Poor thing. I have to keep reminding myself to be extra patient with her, but having to juggle tiredness and chores as well as cooking meals, it does take a toll on me and at times, I have to admit I get short-tempered with her. All I hope for in the next few days is that she be a good girl and not give me too many problems.

I made a bento for dinner but am not too pleased with the look of the girl. I need to work on that. Hair of girl is made with nori, scarf made with salami. I fried some homemade french fries and tossed them in cheese powder. Tomato slices, broccoli and cherries for fibre, and egg roll made with spring onion, crabsticks and shredded cheese complete the bento. There is also a side dish of tomato ketchup. I didn't include a lot of fruits in this one as she had helped herself to an apple right before dinner.

Back to bento-ing?

In a few hours, the little ones will be going back to school, signalling the start of Semester 2. It is with mixed feelings that I greet this day. It's great to finally have time to myself for a few hours a day, yet, I am not looking forward to waking up at 6am or earlier. We had such fun this holidays and have already established a routine, especially with our bodies being used to waking up as and when it is ready to start working. Good things always have to come to an end, and even though we enjoyed the countless visits to the cinema, Universal Studios, and this and that, it's time now to slow down and go back to the harsh realities of life.

Hubby has left on his business trip so it's just the two of us to cook for. Feeling very inspired after reading the 2 books I just got hold of, I made a lunch and dinner bento each for the girl.

The lunch bento is in the previous post. This one here is what she had for dinner - pasta with campbell soup (dry version), seaweed chicken, enoki wrapped with picnic ham and secured with a string of spaghetti, football sausages leftover from lunch, crabstick wrapped with ham, strawberries and blueberries.

A close-up look at the spaghetti knot.

I didn't realize she liked enoki till a dinner outing with her godparents for steamboat. She spied the mushrooms and said that she'd tried them before and that she liked them. Weird, as she doesn't like the normal button mushrooms. Maybe enoki has a crunch to it? But I'm not complaining once she eats it. She was surprised to see that I had included it in her bento this evening. She also proclaimed this as the best bento ever! Haha.

I already have a breakfast date with swimming mums tomorrow and am looking forward to catching up with the 2 ladies. :)

Lock & Lock Eco-Life series and bento books

Today's lunch bento contained white rice, ngoh hiang, kyuri, cherry tomatoes and football sausages. In the second tier, there is golden kiwi with green grapes and a serving of muah chee.
She didn't like the ngoh hiang so that was left untouched. :(

This is the latest addition to my ever-increasing bento box collection. Have told myself and have really been going all out not to purchase any more boxes as I have really run out of space to store them, but how could I resist this very lovely collection of eco-life bento sets from Lock & Lock? They are too cute to resist and I was in love with the insulated bag that comes with each set. They come in 4 colours and I had a tough time trying to decide which to get. I had the green one in my shopping basket but somehow green isn't my colour, so was still trying to see if I preferred blue or pink when my eye suddenly caught sight of this orange, and I was in love. I knew it was THE ONE. It comes very nicely packaged in a box like the one below. I might go back and get the one that comes with a water bottle. I love Lock & Lock products and own quite a number of them. I love their simplicity in design and the neutral shade of 'clear', easily my favourite choice of 'colour'. ;P

Between the two food compartments is a divider which holds a detachable chopsticks set. Very well-designed. I like!

On another happy note, I finally received my bento books, ordered via Amazon, and carried back to me via J. Read them from cover to cover and loved them both. Can't wait to use the tips I picked up from the ladies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

NASSA Bronze Test

My girl started swimming classes when she was 4 or 5 yrs old, can't really remember when for sure. In between, she stopped due to a cough-related allergy. I had to stop her swimming for approximately half a year for the allergy to clear. She picked it up again when she was 6 yrs but stopped for a year when she entered primary school. When we finally went back to swimming, she didn't take to the coach as he did push the kids quite a bit. She wasn't happy there, so I took her out. While checking with friends, I came across her kindy classmate who was learning from a coach who goes to her condo pool. The timing worked out really well for us as I prefer not to let her train under the hot sun. And so began our swimming instruction under Uncle J.

From the first lesson, I was really impressed with him as he walked with the kids (3 of them) through each stroke that they took, through the entire length of the pool. He corrected them every step of the way.

Within a couple of months, he told us mums to sign the girls up for the last and final bronze test. I wasn't too sure if my girl was ready for it but he was very confident that she could do it. By the end of this month, all these NASSA awards will no longer be the standard with which to test swimmers. Thus, it's really good timing that we came to him and have him prepare the girls for it.

Today was a proud day for this mum as I watched my girl complete her test. Watching how she struggled with putting her face in water from the start some 3-4yrs ago, till what she achieved today, she totally deserves it after all these years and it's also an affirmation of her hard work and motivation. I'm so very proud of you, darling. You did great!

The reason I started her on swimming is because I never learned it till I was in my late teens, and even till today I can't swim well and have a fear of water. I used to watch a little girl of about 9yrs old swim like a fish and my sis and I used to admire her. We became friends and her father was the one who taught me to swim.

When I saw how fearful my girl was, to even put her face in the pool, I had to do something about it, to let her face her fears and confront it. I'm glad I did.

Swimmers getting ready at the start of the test.

Here she is treading water.

See, my flotation device is all ready.

Floating to the finish line.

Starting on her 400m.

After this final jump into the pool, the test is over. Hurray!

I made these bentos for the girls.

There is a wassant, kyuri, cherry tomato, grapes, Mocha nutella sandwich, blueberry, dried apricots, gummies, candies.

Do you see the football sausage? How cute. We couldn't resist when we spied them at the supermarket. :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicky Rice

We had chicken rice today. My girl doesn't like chicken rice so much now, compared to when she was young. Well, she will eat the rice, but she won't touch the chicken, especially the breast meat. She says it gives her goosebumps when she chews on it. Haha. I bought us each a packet of rice today but did not order any chicken, reason being I preferred to have the Hainanese Pork Chop. We also had a side order of bean sprouts with salted fish. While she was at ballet, I decided to beautify her food up in order to entice her to eat. I rolled the rice into chicken rice balls and came up with this idea of using my latest punchers to make the mummy and chick's features and feet. I also added some wings using my angel wing picks. Some leftover curry gravy, sweet and sour sauce for the chops, some kyuri and cherry tomatoes completed the bento.

Bento with new toys

It's been a long while since I made a bento. With some new toys in tow, I couldn't resist making one for breakfast.

Universal Studios with the hubby

We got a ticket for hubby to accompany us to USS this Monday past. We took a break after a few rides and sat down at a cafe for a rest and to top up fuel for our tired bodies. We weren’t too hungry so I had a pastry while princess had cakes and hubby had a sandwich. Everything was so pretty in the shop and it was tough deciding on what to order.

Such pretty macarons.

Who can resist these gorgeous burgers?

Princess initially went for the pink bow cupcake but when I turned her attention to the burgers, she decided on them instead.

My opinion is that they look better than they taste. The cake was very dry.

Curry puff for me.

Salami sandwich for the hubby.

I didn't take note of the name of this bakery but it is at the main street on your right as you enter the park.

Old Town White Coffee

Even though they landed on our shores a couple of years ago, we never visited Old Town White Coffee once. We finally set foot in the Suntec City outlet last Saturday morning, after eyeing it as we left the mrt exit at Promenade station. Princess had to go for her appointment with the dentist and while waiting for her, hubby and I had our breakfast there. It is my first time setting foot in any of their outlets, and I decided immediately that I loved their decor, so quaint and very well-designed.

After rejecting the lovely booth seats which we were offered us, because both families behind hubby and myself had kids who were kicking against the seats, we settled on a table away from the noise. It was a good choice as it allowed me to play with my iPhone hipstamatic app. I couldn't think of a more appropriate place to use this camera effect than here.

Hubby ordered a blackcurrant drink which tasted like Ribena slushie.

The old town version of french toast.

There is peanut butter within the toast. Weird.

This has got to be the most delicious nasi lemak on earth. Hehe. Or maybe because it was late and I was hungry.

We had excellent service that morning and when I complimented the auntie who served us on the food and proclaimed to her that it was my first visit there, she took out a sheet of discount vouchers and promptly gave them to me, inviting me to visit again. Those were some good deals on the vouchers in conjunction with the World Cup.

Two days later, hubby wanted to visit the outlet again for breakfast as they opened at 8am, which meant it was perfect for us as we were rushing to USS for the opening at 10am. This time round, the service was non-existent and it left us with a bitter taste in the mouth after having had an excellent experience on our first visit. We were served by a lady who was first day on the job. We were easily the second table in the restaurant and while communicating with her, she couldn't answer a few of my questions and just said she wasn't sure as was her first day. She was the only server in the entire restaurant with no one to guide her or for her to shadow. Even the manager wasn't around. As the restaurant filled up, and time was ticking by, we were curious as to when we would be served even our drinks for a start. Unfortunately, no drinks arrived but for the table behind us, they were already given their drinks even though they had arrived and ordered after us.

A lady two tables away from us was fuming and shouting at the kitchen staff when she discovered that they had forgotten to fix her toast. I believe she was there before us. She told them off and left after paying for her expensive coffee, saying she'd never visit them again. I told hubby that if the table behind us got their order, we'd leave too. It was terrible how they could have messed up the orders. If they are lack of manpower, why then do they open at such an early hour? They should know that having the shop open at such an hour is to cater to the working crowd who do not have a lot of time picking up breakfast. Before long, I saw some items of food appear on the counter waiting to be sent to the tables. Hubby got up to check and saw an order of a nasi lemak. We thought we'd finally get our order, but guess what, our neighbour got it instead! I decided to walk out. Just at that moment, the manager entered the store and hubby gave him a good telling off. It messed up our plans (made us late as we had to find alternative place for breakfast). So, well, those were two very extreme experiences with Old Town in a matter of 2 days. Will I visit again? Well, yes, for the nasi lemak, and we have done so, but at the East Coast Parkway outlet. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jonkers Nonya food at Thomson Plaza

On the last day of Princess' creative writing workshop, I decided to lunch at the mall. I came across this little corner near the food court called Jonkers if I am not wrong. They served Peranakan food and I decided to try the nasi goreng. I can't rave about it as it was so-so. Taste-wise it was ok but I felt the rice was either too oily or a bit soggy. I couldn't decide which category it belonged to. Sambal belachan is by request only. You need to ask the cashier for some, and she'd scoop it out from a container kept in the fridge. Hope to have another chance to try out their other dishes.

This very interesting prata was at the request of the princess who was hungry after her class and wanted something to snack on. I believe this is known as paper prata with chocolate sauce. Within the cone is lots of sugar crystals, and is a very messy dish to dissect. The prata is so thin it breaks apart very easily and becomes very crumbly. Don't be misled by the looks as it does fill you up. Lovely for a teatime snack.

Lunch date with 3 babes

I only realized today that I have a backlog of posts to update. While the girl is at swim class, I have taken along my laptop to catch up on them. This outing happened over a week ago but Princess, together with 2 of her friends, attended the same creative writing class last week, but at differing times. Since there was a lapse of an hour between both their class timings, I arranged with the 2 girls’ mums to take them out for lunch at the same mall where their school was. I have not arranged any playdates this June thus princess hasn’t seen her school/classmate since school closed at the end of May. It was lovely to see the girls again and even though they had an hour together, they had fun. We had lunch at Pizza Hut. It was cousin who took us there the week before because we only ever order pizza in. I have never eaten at the restaurant before. Found out that they do a nice set lunch menu where you can have your choice of main course from the main menu. There is a kids menu too, which included a drink and an ice-cream mouse. Yes, you heard right, they decorated a scoop of ice-cream to resemble a mouse. Very cute.

There are 5 choices of main course for the kids...

The smart choice lunch promotion.

My choice of main course was curry chicken baked rice, their house special. It was not too bad, rather spicy.

We spent an enjoyable hour in great company. :)

New bento toy additions

Over the past weeks, these stuff had been added to my bento 'toys' collection. It helped that half of them could be found at Daiso. I'm really glad that they have brought in new bento stuff now as I am sick of looking at those which have been there for years, always repeated and boring. I do hope that Daiso picks up on the bento trend and bring in much more nicer things.

The bear cutter which I have wanted for ages. I also love the tulip sausage cutter with the leaf picks. The silicon barans are really pretty and the currently popular hat picks. The top half collection is not from Daiso.

Musical notes picks I have wanted for the longest time. :)

My all-time favourite faces picks. So kawaii!

Pretty angel wings.

Expression punchers from Daiso.

Animal and vehicle picks and sauce bottles from Daiso.

Can you believe they sell these at Daiso now??