Friday, January 25, 2013

Tea time

Recently, I have some time occasionally, in the midst of baby caring, piles of housework and other things to do to have some time for tea in the afternoon.

It's a nice treat to be able to make myself a cup of strong tea and enjoy a pastry by myself at home.

Sometimes, I'd go out for tea in the late afternoon with Little N in tow when she can't nap.

Here are some of the nicer pastries I've had recently..

Rare Cheese Mango (from Patisserie Glace) - Nice and light and slightly tart

Red Velvet Cake (Cedele) - a little drier than I expected but quite rich in flavour..

Carrot Cake (Cedele) - one of my favourite cakes

Almond cookies (Four Leaves) - Really yummy crispy and thick cookies. 
I've been eating lots of these. The chocolate chip ones are really good too..

Black Forest Cake (Fruit Paradise) - very light cream and lots of fresh cherries..

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Best Omiyage from Japan

Omiyage, お土産 is the Japanese word for souvenirs. Japan is a country where souvenir giving is important. Hence, there are lots of options for souvenirs when you travel to Japan.

A friend of mine is working on a project at the moment in Japan. When I first heard that she was going to be working on a project in Japan, my first reaction was - "Whoopee, I now have a stable source for my favourite omiyage, Yoku Moku".

What is Yoku Moku?

It's a company that sells butter cookies from Japan.. You can find them in the food level of most major departmental stores in Japan.

Yoku Moku is famous for their "cigare" - These are delicate rolled cookies with a light butter-vanilla taste.

Like most Japanese souvenirs, they come beautifully packaged. Each cookie is individually wrapped and come in a beautiful box. I've been eating them since I was 18 and I've kept all the boxes I've bought.. The basic cigare always come in a blue box, although the shape and size of the box have changed over the years.

The "cigare" also comes in other flavours like chocolate and coffee.. They are all great, but I like the plain vanilla version best.

They are my favourite omiyage from Japan. Whenever I travel to Japan myself and have to think of a gift for friends or colleagues, I'd end up buying these. Whenever I have good friends going to Japan, I'd ask for a box of these as well.

I got a box of these in September and they served me well during my confinement. I'd treat myself to one whenever I got stressed out. Needless to say, they ran out pretty quickly!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Tips for a New Mom - Part 2

Continued from Part 1, Part 2 focuses on tips for breastfeeding mums.

6. Tell yourself today is not the day to give up

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to give up and say "Enough!, no more".

Especially when you start hearing people tell you that...
.. She might be crying because she is hungry - maybe your milk is too weak
.. She is not pooing because your milk is too diluted
.. She is waking up at night because your milk is not rich enough to sustain her through
.. She is cranky because your milk is not good enough

7. Try not to take negative comments personally

When you hear comments (like the above) about how your milk is weak and not rich enough for your baby, try not to take it personally.

I did and it resulted in some conflicts with people I loved. It really annoyed me at that point in time.. (and it still does annoy me to hear such comments).. but I've come to learn that they say it because they are genuinely concerned.. even if misguided. I often wish to tell them I've fed Little N for 4 months now and if there are really some problems with the milk, it would have showed.. But I have learnt to just nod, say "maybe" and then just move on with my day..

8. Trust God's design and nature

Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. It contains what your baby needs and is easily digested. So as long as your baby is gaining weight and wetting her diapers and her poo seems fine, trust God's design and don't worry too much.

I've read somewhere that most of the time, breastfeeding problems are not so much with the content (as in the milk) as with the delivery (poor latching, mothers timing baby's feed and delatching when "time's up"). And I believe it's true.

As long as you persevere, you and your baby will get the hang of it and soon, breastfeeding will become easier for both of you.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to see a lactation consultant for advice in the early days to ensure that you are both doing it properly. A friend told me that the 2 most important people in the first month after delivery are your pediatrician and the lactation consultant.. and that you should always have their numbers in your phone. She is quite right, I think.

9. Start before you deliver

Using nipple cream, that is.

For most mothers who choose to breast feed, soreness is one of the reasons to give up. I was lucky to have read this tip somewhere before I delivered and prevention is definitely better than cure, I must say.

10. Tell yourself you will miss this

Breastmilk is easily digestible and some say that's why the baby wakes up at night to feed.. Well, I'm not sure if that is true because formula fed babies seem to wake to feed too..

Whatever the case, when the baby wakes for the nth time at night for milk, tell yourself this is just a very small part of her life and you will miss this experience a few years down the road. Then enjoy the quietness of the night and the time with the baby.

Oh yes, it's difficult and I wish every night that she'd not wake for milk.. but I keep telling myself this will pass and I will miss this in future.. and it makes the night feedings a little easier..

Chewing her Sophie The Giraffe

Monday, January 21, 2013

10 Tips for a New Mom - Part 1

A friend of mine is expecting her baby in April.

I've been preparing all the various baby things that Little N no longer can use for her.

Having just been a new mum myself, I thought I'd just write down some tips I wished someone had shared with me before I embarked on this journey.

These are things I have learnt (and am definitely STILL learning) along the way.. Part 2 specifically focuses on tips for a breastfeeding mom..

1. Listen to others but do what you are comfortable with

Almost everyone has an opinion on how to raise a baby. From your experienced grandmother and mother, to aunts and colleagues, even strangers at the supermarkets.

Some will tell you not to let the baby cry at all or she'd learn not to trust you.

Some will say you should let the baby cry a little or you will spoil your baby.

Some will say your baby is colicky when she cries. Others will tell you she is hungry.

Some tell you that you need to feed your baby on demand. Others tell you to feed her on a strict schedule.

I've learnt that you can't stop others from handing you advice but it's important to do what you are comfortable with.

2. Accept hand-me-downs from friends

Babies grow so fast and there is really little point in buying a whole new wardrobe and nursery essentials.. unless you are planning to reuse them plenty of times with subsequent babies or you simply don't know where else to spend your money.

My boss gave me some really lovely (and I think rather expensive) baby clothes and I was so sad when she outgrew them in a month!

Accept hand-me-downs from your friends.. In fact, ask for hand-me-downs if they are your good friends.. Most people I know are more than happy to clear their storeroom of baby things they do not need..

3. Try everything for a few days to decide if it works

When trying something new with the baby - whether it's putting her to sleep in a new way, feeding her using a new type of bottle or starting out a new routine with her, don't decide that it doesn't work if you have only tried it out once or for a day..

I've learnt that babies need time to get used to something, so unless it is obviously very wrong for her, try it out for a few days or for a week if you can before deciding if it works.

4. If something doesn't work, try again later

Babies change all the time.

They grow so quickly and hence change really quickly as well. If something doesn't work, try again a few weeks later and it might work.

We started out rocking Little N to sleep every night and it got really tiring and difficult because as she got more alert, she may fall asleep on our arms but once we put her down, she will wake and cry.

I decided that everyone needs to learn how to fall asleep on their own so I started putting her down on her cot while she was awake, singing and patting her until she was sleepy to let her fall asleep on her own.

It didn't seem to work at all initially, but recently, she seemed to have gotten it and now, she'd flip over to her tummy, talk a little to herself and then nod off. She doesn't always do this though.. sometimes she still fusses and cries.. and I know that she may change again later but for now, this makes putting her to nap and to bed quite a pleasant thing to do..

5. Accept help from others so you can rest

I find this the hardest to do.. I do want to spend every minute with the baby! Even if she's being cranky and my hair is all messed up from lack of sleep.

But I also realised that I do not make good decisions when I am tired.. and I do get so very very snappy (oh dear).

Having someone take over for an hour whilst I try to nap or lie down to rest is important for my own sanity..

Sitting in her Bumbo chair

Friday, January 18, 2013

Transition Time

In another 2 plus weeks, I'd go back to work.

Hence, starting this week, I leave Little N at the caretaker's place in the day.

I feel really blessed that my mum is that caretaker. We had found a nanny for Little N but just last week, my mum told me that she had thought about it and that she would like to care for Little N whilst I'm at work. If there is one person I trust to look after Little N whilst we go to work, it is my mum.. so I'm most happy to hear that. But I'm also worried that taking care of the baby will be too tiring for her.. After all, my mum has loads of other things to do..

So far, the transition has been good. I stayed with Little N the whole day on the first day and half a day on the second day.. She seemed to have adapted quite well to my mum's place - she has her own room at my mum's! It was actually my room during my uni days many years ago.

My mum seemed to be coping quite well.. though I am still worried for her health and personal time. I guess I'd have to try to take regular time off work to give her some rest time.

Because Little N is at my mum's, I have had quite a bit of time to myself this week.. and probably for the next 2 weeks. There are lots of things that I need to do.. I actually got a list of to-dos listed down. Cleaning, clearing up the storeroom, clearing up the balcony (my poor plants!) and lots of errands to run..

But I found some time to make a simple lunch for myself yesterday - Pan-fried Salmon and Prawns salad. It's really simple, I pan fried some salmon and prawns with sea salt, herbs and olive oil and then put them on a bed of rocket leaves. I topped the salad off with dried blueberries, sesame seeds and some Japanese sesame dressing and lunch was done!

I do miss Little N very much during the day though... I find it quite hard to concentrate fully on my stuff.. even if I do enjoy the little pockets of rest time I have now and then.

A simple lunch

My little girl can read! Haha.. or she looks like she can!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

First Homecooked Meal of 2013

It's been a while since I've cooked at home. My mum cooked all my meals during my confinement in September and October and then my mother-in-law came over for 2 months and if we didn't eat out or packed food home, she'd cook.

I finally got around to making a simple lunch for myself today - Oven Baked Fish and Mixed Rice.

The fish was really simple really, I just added some scallion oil and salt to a piece of fish, wrapped it in aluminum foil and baked for 40mins. Next time, I'd try adding a slice of ginger and some wolfberries to it... maybe even some enoki mushrooms. As for the mixed rice, I just used what I had at home - pork floss, fragrant fried chai poh (salted turnips) and toasted sesame seeds.

It was nice to be able to cook my own lunch.. though Little N was up before I could eat it. She was co-operative though - I had her lie down on a mat and she played on her own whilst her mummy ate lunch...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review of 2012 Resolutions

A review of 2012 Resolutions:

1. Eat healthily
Check - thanks to poor appetite from January to April, I ate quite a bit of salad and light food.. except after that, I kept drinking lots of bubble tea and Taiwanese-style fried chicken.. But I made sure I ate lots of fruits every day when I was pregnant.. But bubble tea and fried chicken.. Hm.. okay, so maybe, partial check.

2. Change my lifestyle
Partial check again. My lifestyle has certainly changed since I started my maternity leave.. but before that, my hours were not so good and weekends mostly boring.

Still, I did manage to spend quite a bit more time with my parents this year, having dinners and during weekends.. so okay, partial check is fine.

3. Enjoy life a little more heartily
I can't claim even partial check to this. I still worry too much. Oh my, I'm turning out to be one of those women who worry about everything! Not good...

But 2 partial checks out of 3... isn't all that bad.

*Gives myself a pat on my back*

Now, I need to think carefully about 2013 Resolutions..

Homemade Mee Hoon Kuey with lots of vegetables. 
I ate lots of this dish when during the 9 months..

My mum made sure I ate very well and very healthily 
during my one month confinement