Friday, 25 September 2015

Bento

Packing lunch for the kiddos is new to me. The children didn't stay past lunch in their school in Singapore, nor did they do so when they first started school here in Seattle.

This academic year, though, Little Man is at school from 9am till 3pm, and I pick Little Lady up after lunch at 12.15pm.  I figured that since I have to pack a lunch for Little Man, I might as well pack her a lunch as well, rather than cook another meal in time for her lunch after picking her up.

However, it is tough thinking of what to pack for lunch every day!  Well, for me, at least.  So what do I do?  Turn to the internet for inspiration, of course! Oh my goodness!  The wealth of ideas out there!  I mean, look at these examples! Calvin and Hobbes!  Spongebox Squarepants! Super kawaii!
Source
Source
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I know myself.  I do not have the talent to do anything close to that.  Nor do I have the ability to wake up early enough to do so.

So I looked at the more western options, and came across these easy to prepare ones:
Source: http://www.bentoschoollunches.com
Source: http://www.craftionary.net/

Source: http://www.easylunchboxes.com
These are definitely more manageble. However (I know, I know, I'm so hard to please), many of these feature lots of processed food (ham, biscuits, cheese) and sandwiches.  Not sure why I'm reluctant to give them too many sandwiches as I ate a lot of them for recess as a kid.  I guess my mindset at the moment is still very Asian - need to have rice.  As for processed foods, I try my best not to include too much of those in meals I make for the family.

Don't even get me started on the choices of bento boxes out there!  I want to buy them all!!!

This was one of the first bentos I packed for the kiddos, when they went for Summer Camp.

It is fried rice, with a Siew Mai, mini strawberry muffin, and apple slices.  The boxes are part of a Lock and Lock set my Mum gave some time ago.

Join me as I embark on my Bento Adventures.

Do you bento? Do share in the comments!






Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Fun Friday: Remlinger Farms

I am extremely tardy in writing about our visit to Remlinger's.  We actually visited several weeks ago, but I'm only updating now.  *paiseh*

We visited Remlinger Farms with our friends who are also our neighbours.  In addition to U-Picks during strawberry, raspberry and pumpkin season, they are also a little theme park.  When we visited, there were no U-Pick in season, which was just as well, as we were there for the Theme Park.  

We had separately bought tickets from Groupon at a roughly 30% discount, so look out for that if you can.  We arranged to meet there at about 11 am.  However, we ran late, so arrived at about 11:30 instead. The queue was looooong.  So if you intend to visit on a weekend, be there early!
Some of the many cut-outs to take pictures with.


We really liked the place.  It is catered for families with young kids.  It had many rides, almost all of them suitable for younger children.  Even Little Lady, who is not very tall, qualified to take most of the rides.

Their favourite was the one with the flying corn.  They also went on a mini train kiddy ride and a canoe ride on their own.  Little Lady had fun on a carousel, and as a family, we went on an actual train ride, sat in a spinning cup, and had a ride on antique cars.  There were more rides, such as a mini ferris wheel (which was not working that day), even a roller coaster!  We didn't have time to go on all the rides, so we'll have to return for another visit some time.

There is also a petting zoo, which I do not have pictures of, as I was queuing up for the train ride at the time.

The kiddos also went on a pony ride. The queue for the pony ride was sooooooooooooooo long.  It was worth it, though.  They had so much fun.  Little Lady was first assigned to Peaches, but her friend, whose pony came first, was too nervous to mount her pony, so Little Lady got on, to reassure her that it was not so scary after all.  I reminded Mr Cuppa to take photos since he was accompanying Little Man.  And so I got a photo of Little Man's mount, without Little Man.  Ah well.

Something that I thought really cool, and that the children had great fun in was the Hay Maze and Hay Jump. They made a maze out of hay bales, and instead of a ball pit, they had a 'hay pit', that had a climbing wall at one end.  Both kiddos had loads of fun running, jumping and falling.

As luck would have it, the school is having a field trip the Remlinger Farms in a couple of weeks.  Yay!

In the market/gift shop, you can score very fresh fruit and vegetables, and their many varieties of pie.  We tried the Dutch Apple Pie, and it was yummy!  I was glad to see it available at our local QFC (supermarket) at the same price.

So if you're in the neighbourhood, do consider bringing your kiddos to Remlinger Farms for some wholesome fun!  Do check on their website for dates before you visit though, they're closed from mid-autumn till mid-spring.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

SG 50 Celebrations

This is a special year for Singapore. She is half a century old!  That is actually very young, in the grand scheme of things, and compared to many countries around the world.  However, for a country with only one natural resource (people - sadly, that resource is running dry too :( ), she didn't do too badly.

Last year, knowing that we would be away this year, I booked a room the the Fairmont, overlooking to bay to catch the NE Show.  Being away this year meant that we missed the fantastic aerial show put up by the Black Knights.  I also missed the live streaming of the National Day Parade.  Although I tried, I just was not able to keep my eyes open.

We celebrated by having a BBQ with lots of Singaporean food with fellow Singaporeans and a Malaysian-American family.
Fried Mee Siam, Ramly Burger, Otah, red and white Logan Almond Jelly.  Our American friends contributed yummy Tuna Pasta, Cheesy Zucchini, and Raw Cookie Dough (no egg no wheat flour), sadly we didn't get any pictures of those - too busy eating. 

Two weeks later, we joined the SG50 celebrations organised by the Seattle Singaporeans Meetup Group. It was a massive celebration with 300 people, mainly from the Pacific Northwest, but also with some coming up from San Francisco, LA, even New York and Hawaii!  Singapore Ambassador to the US, Mr Ashok Kumar Mipuri was the Guest of Honour.

The place was decorated in red and white. They sold Prima and noodles by Nona Lim, for those who want to make Singaporean food at home.  Highlight of the lunch was the laksa!  Very, very yummy!

Each family who registered early enough received a SG50 Fun Pack!  Yay! Old school flag erasers, the Singapore scarf, Singa!  The tables were named after street names in Singapore, and we were seated at Mandai Road.

The children's outfits were from Elly, a Singaporean establishment.  I was trying to decide between the red and white set (for obvious reasons) and this year's CNY set. In the end, I went with this year's set, because the fabric is called 'Home', and features Singaporean icons such as HDB blocks, buses, the Dragon and Pelican playground structures.  I wore my paternal Grandmother's kebaya top.  (Note to self - get a sarong to go with it.)

It was really nice to be surrounded by Singaporeans and singing national songs.  It was a good National Day celebration away from home.

Happy SG50, Singapore.  We miss you.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bath Dough DIY

Some time back, a friend of mine introduced me to a really cool product, Lush Fun.  It is like play dough, but soap/bubble bath.

It reminded me of a simple two ingredient play dough I had seen around the interwebs.  The original two ingredients were corn flour (aka corn starch in the U.S.) and conditioner.  Since I wanted to use it as soap, I replaced the conditioner with liquid soap! Genius, right? Mix the corn flour with your favourite shower gel, and you get play dough which doubles up as soap!

Because I like to complicate matters, I used more than two ingredients.

Instead of shower gel, I used Dr Woods Unscented Baby Mild Castile Soap which I bought off iHerb.com (use LOG568 for a $10 discount).  I intentionally got this particular soap because it is unscented, as I wanted to add my own scents.  I also added some food colouring.

To make my bath dough, I used
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup liquid soap
food colouring (optional - I only added two drops)
13 drops essential oil (optional - I originally added 8 drops, but the scent was barely noticeable, I then added 5 more drops, but that ended up too strong for me. The kids didn't mind, though.)

After the kiddos chose the scent and colours they wanted for their bath dough, I dumped everything into their bowls and let them mix it up. You could just mix them up with your hands, but neither of them are particularly fond of sticky stuff, so they preferred to use tools.

Once the wet and dry ingredients were more or less incorporated, I hand kneaded the mixture (because sticky).  I had to add a little more corn flour to Little Man's dough, and a little more soap to Little Lady's, to get the correct consistency.


The resulting dough was very soft, smooth and silky. Little Man and Little Lady had great fun making the play dough and playing with it after.

They each brought some when it was time to have a bath.  Because the soap I used did not have a lathering agent, it did not produce any bubbles.  However, if you're using normal shower gel (with SLS or SLSA in the ingredients), it should bubble up nicely.  Let me know if it does if you go that route.

I really love the bath dough because it is multi-purpose.  The children play with it as they do play dough, and instead of throwing it out when it gets old or mouldy or icky, we just take a bit to bathe/shower with every day! No waste!

Do try it out and let me know how it goes!

If you would rather make ordinary play dough, you can try this recipe.

*****
Little Man - 5 years 2 months
Little Lady - 3 years 1 month

Friday, 24 July 2015

Summer Celebration

The thing about summer is that there is so much to do!  And not enough time to do them all. 

Take two weekends ago for example.  There was the Summer Celebration - two days of festivities, including a parade, boat rides, a festival/carnival/fairgrounds, fireworks etc.

However, we also had a birthday party to attend, and a Day Out with Thomas.

 
We managed to see the parade on Saturday before going to the birthday party for lunch.  Unfortunately, we were all to tired out to make it to the park for festivities and fireworks when we got back.

On Sunday, we managed to stop by for a Norwegian Pancake breakfast.  Yummy crepes cooked on a barbeque topped with your choice of jam, honey and sugars (normal, cinnamon or powdered).  There was a fairground with lots of inflatables, rides, entertainment and even more food.

Unfortunately, we had to rush of to attend the Day Out With Thomas at Snoqualmie, so we could not stop to play just then.  We promised to make a day out of it and go back after we were done with Thomas, but by the time we got back, they were done for the day (and summer!). So the children could not play on any of the inflatables or rides.  They were really good about it, and enjoyed themselves on the playground, though.

Next year, I'll need to plan better and ensure that the fun stuff that we want to do don't clash.  :)





Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Blueberries!

It's summer here in the Pacific North West. And apparently, something that one must do in summer is pick your own fruit!  There are many farms which cater for people to go and pick their own fruit, known as "U-Pick".  There are U-Pick for all kinds of berries, even peaches and cherries!  We had already picked strawberries. We gave raspberries a miss and didn't realise there U-Pick cherries and peaches were available. Anyway, the U-Pick farms for cherries and peaches are rather far away, with cherry season over by the time I realised they were an option.

We arranged to pick blueberries with a friend this weekend, and discovered that there is a farm not far from our place, Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm.  It was established in the 1940s, and is owned and managed by the Bellevue Parks and Community Services Department to preserve the agricultural heritage of Bellevue.

Walking to the blueberry bushes with their pails.  We brought our own pails simply because we had two small ones, just right for them.  Blueberry bushes are taller than strawberry plants.  Which is less back-breaking for the adults.

Having fun picking blueberries.  There were still quite a bit of small, unripe blueberries on the plants, which means that we're not at the end of blueberry season yet.  The big, blue ones are the sweetest.  The purple ones still rather tart.   Some plants were rather bare, but the less accessible plants were still full of berries, so you just have to hunt for them. 

The little rascals soon discovered a quicker way to fill their pails with blueberries - by taking them out of my bucket.
 
So, what to do with the blueberries we picked?  Obvious choices would be blueberry muffins and blueberry pancake. However, I don't really like muffins, and the children don't  like stuff in their pancakes. 

So, I searched the internet for ideas and these five called out to me:
3) Blueberry Lemon Popsicles (hmm... it seems blueberry and lemon pair well together)

I'll try some of these out and let you know how it goes.  If I don't finish the blueberries first, that is. I find myself grabbing a handful whenever I walk past the kitchen counter.


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Day Out With Thomas


Little Man and Little Lady both love Thomas the Tank Engine.  So when I found out, shortly after moving here, that there would be a Thomas event at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, I knew we could not miss it, and bought the tickets online, about four months ahead. 
 
We were supposed to be there an hour before our scheduled train ride, but I left the tickets on the dining table and only realised it when we were almost there.  By the time we got there with the tickets, we were just in time to join the queue to board the train. Phew!

It was a short ride - just from the Snoqualmie Depot up to the Snoqualmie Falls and back.  Each child received a Junior Engineer certificate after the ride.

One cool thing about Thomas was that his eyes move and his face changes!

The grounds around the were open only to ticket holders, and there were many other activities available. The children were given a map with four stations to visit and collect stamps from.  They met and had a picture taken with Sir Topham Hatt, played with trains at one of the numerous train tables, had temporary tattoos done, played with sand, bounced in an inflatable bouncy castle and had a ride on a track maintenance car.  There was a stage where local performers sang and entertained the crowd.


There was even a Punch and Judy show, which is so quintessentially British.  It was nice to hear some British vocabulary.  The show was rather violent -  Little Lady didn't enjoy it much, but Little Man was very amused. 
 
Day Out With Thomas is not specific to Snoqualmie, but is an annual national tour organized by HiT Entertainment.  If you're in the States, or will visit it soon, check out the schedule if you'd like to catch Thomas.
 
It was a really fun day out with the kids.  There was just enough to do, not too little and not too much.  I think it is most suitable for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  Older children might find the activities a little childish.  I'm glad that we sprang for the tickets.  It is one of the few activities where Little Lady really enjoyed herself.  While she is content to follow her brother and do whatever he does, she does not always have fun, so I'm glad she genuinely enjoyed herself this time.
 
 
 
 


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