Slow cooking for dummies

So, you know how you have those moments where you head to the supermarket to buy just one thing and come back with ten clearance items you need to eat within the next 2 days, some sort of exotic fruit with a name you can’t even pronounce, three different types of breakfast cereals, cat food even though you don’t own a cat, a new toaster and half of aisle 10?

Well, no, I didn’t actually buy all of that, but I did pop by the shops just to get milk and instead I bought half the week’s supply of groceries as well as a slow cooker. Yes, that’s right, I bought a slow cooker from a supermarket. In my defense, it was on offer and I had been thinking of buying one in recent days, but just never quite made it to the places I wanted to buy them from.

This comes along with the notion of trying desperately to eat healthier. I admit I have been a nutritional disaster of late and that’s also been rubbing off on my family, since I am the one preparing the meals. I do admit that we’ve have Asian takeaway and KFC sometime this week, and those are probably my weak spots because if you give me a choice, I could have that more or less every night!

Part of my “excuse” is that it’s hard to cook a proper meal with a busy toddler and a cuddly baby. I wouldn’t call Jared clingy, but he likes to be held and if I leave the kids unsupervised for even 5 minutes, Jacob often ends up trying to undress Jared or draw on his face. I’ve relied on Jared’s brief naptimes (often 30mins at a go) to do any food prep and have just popped things into the oven rather than stir fry things, unless hubby is home.

But now I have a slow cooker, this will be bliss! I look forward to getting my meals ready in the morning and then cleaning up the kitchen before lunchtime! And looking forward to being able to cook in larger portions so we can all have lunch prepared for the next day too!

So, hit me up with some of your best slow cooker recipes! I’m looking forward to making some delicious homecooked meals.

On an ending note, here are just a couple of things we did this week. Jared is starting to get the feel of play cafes while I’ve put Jacob to work already, though it became a rather soapy affair.

Advertisements

How to help a new mum…

So, three of my friends were pregnant all around the same time and finally, all their babies are here! The first one was born exactly 6 months (to the day) after Jacob was born, the next one exactly 3 weeks after and the final baby was born on Monday night. I can’t wait for all 4 babies to be together to take some photos together!

In the last few months, I have experienced so many new mums (and their new babies, of course) and there’s been so much trial and error on my part with giving them the support from my end. When I say new mums, I don’t mean just mums who have had their first baby – but any mum who’s just had a baby, be it their first, second, third or fourth child! From experience, these are some of the best things you could do for a new mum…

1. Cook for her
I’m not sure about Caucasians here, but us Asians LOVE a good clear soup when we’re not feeling our best – beef soup’s probably the favourite as it’s just so nourishing! In the Chinese culture, some mums have a ‘confinement’ period where they take it easy and have to follow a strict dietary plan which involves lots of soups! But what I found anyway is that soup is good to encourage breast milk production, so you should have some (even if you’re not Asian, haha!).

If you can’t think of anything to cook (or if you have your hands full), a fruit platter is always welcomed! Or just buy takeaway or treat her to a meal. She’ll thank you as that’s one less meal to cook!

20140408_083711_AndroidJacob my sweetheart is cooking some food for me (though I don’t eat plastic shapes)

2. Help her with cleaning
Even now, I still struggle with finding the time to clean the house – today I managed to vacuum the floor while Jacob was in his cot playing with this musical phone/remote that my parents gave to him. Now he’s mobile, he always finds something to mess up – and don’t even talk to me about eating. Yesterday we had egg yolk smeared all over the high chair and pieces all over the floor.

But yes, I digress – new mums have SO much to take in that the last thing on their mind will be to clean up the house, or at least the last thing they will get to do aside from rocking, feeding, changing, etc. So just offer to do a load of dishes before you go, or even pop their laundry onto the line or fold some clothes. 🙂

3. Offer to babysit
While I love Jacob to bits, there are times that I wish that I could put him away for one hour, just for some me time. I am sometimes wary about getting a babysitter for Jacob, and at times I’d rather not spend money on such things when I can just suck it up and take care of him anyway. But every mum needs a break – so babysitting is a great gift.

Of course, this all depends on your confidence and experience. Before Jacob was born, I admit I would never have offered to babysit for anyone because I’d be so afraid that I’d not know what to do. Even now, I’m happy to babysit babies but am not as sure what to do with toddlers and older kids. What you could just do is hang out with the mum and mind the baby while she can do what she wants to do – even that is a help.

4. Help her run errands
This is particularly handy for ladies who have had C-sections who can’t drive for 6 weeks! There will always be things to do like getting groceries, picking up other kids from school, etc. This helps if you can drive, of course, but even if you don’t, just do what’s in your power to do.

20140408_102116_AndroidJacob can’t drive but he can take out the trash! (Haha, don’t worry – I don’t let my baby touch trash. That’s just a bag of clothes!)

5. Help provide her with resources
I’m not sure about other mums, but I’m an Internet consulter – that is, I always consult the internet to find out information. I know in the first few months (and even now), I search about things like breastfeeding, immunisation, baby poo, etc. When I find good resources, I’m always happy to share with other mums. If you’re a researcher like me (or if you like to pick up brochures from here and there), pick something up for your new mum to read. Do keep in mind to not “push ideas” onto the new mum though – this information is just there for her perusal but in no way are you dictating the way she should parent her child.

6. Spend a bit more time together
One thing I found with motherhood is that sometimes it can be a bit lonely – when your partner is working all day and you’re stuck at home with the baby, it can just drive you up the wall. I know it’s hard for people who work full time, but if you do have time to spend with your new mum, just go over for a visit (or organise to go and have a coffee perhaps). She’ll appreciate the break (and you get plus points if you carry her baby for a while!)

7. Just be a listening ear
I think what’s been really good in these few months of motherhood for me is having people to talk/rant to about the big and small stresses. Like when you have a poo explosion, or when he has a “I want you to carry me all the time” day. Because sharing the burden just makes it lighter and soon enough, you’ll realise it wasn’t such a big burden anyway, and will find the grace to laugh about it.

20140406_080554_AndroidJacob is a great listening ear – plus, he doesn’t give unwanted advice!

New mums out there – do you think I hit the nail on the head? Are there other things that you appreciated when you were a new mum?

I admit that I haven’t done all of these things for the mums I know, but I have tried to do what I can to help them. And I know that little things count – I remember the little things that people did for me when Jacob was little, and I’m so grateful for it. My mum was wonderful with helping me take charge of the house too, getting all the other stuff done so I could just focus on the baby.

But anyway, congratulations to all the new mums I know and I hope that you are all having a wonderful time with your babies. Do enjoy this time lots because you can’t get it back. Photos and videos can immortalize the way your baby is, but he’ll be different every day and one fine day, you’ll look back and wish you were there again – just holding him or her in your arms.

Over and out! 🙂

Jacob’s Dedication Day!

I don’t know how many times I’ve said that I’m busy, but I really am!! Been sleeping late, waking up early and still doing several wake-ups each night so it is a wee bit tiring. We’ve just had so much on – a funeral and meeting with my mum’s friends, and a lot of cooking to do – but it’s all been worth it.

Before I get into it, I’ve added something to my living room – can you spot it here? I said it was a gift to Jacob but really, I think I might enjoy it more than him. 🙂

ImageAnyway, while there was a lot going on in the week, it was really just the lead up to Jacob’s Dedication which happened at church today. It was so lovely to have our friends and relatives gathered for this event.

Just to clarify, for those who do not know the term well, this is different to christening and baptism. Being in the Seventh Day Adventist church, baby dedication is a practice of praying for the child and the parents that the child will be brought up in a godly manner. This is reinforced by a prayer of support from the church and others present who pledge to be a part of the child’s upbringing. After all, it does say that it takes a village to raise a child.

ImageI was slightly worried because the service was cutting into Jacob’s nap time. Even though he had a sleep in, I knew he would be a bit cranky. He was really quite squirmy when we were up the front, though he was still relatively alert and smiley. We said a prayer for him and Jacob was silent the whole time, just gazing at the pastor as he spoke. What an angel he was!

I’d like to thank everyone who came to his dedication – we really loved having you there to support us and share in our joy. And also thank you for all the gifts we received! We are just so blessed!

prayI look forward to seeing Jacob grow up with some firm beliefs behind him. While the direction in his life is his choice, I really hope that Dan and I can give him a good Christian upbringing and a childhood to look back on with joy. Today we had many children in the church, and it just made me think of how Jacob will have so many friends in the church, and a whole heap of fun. 🙂

I sang a special item for the dedication today:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q03zbRst1K4

I just fell in love with the lyrics – here’s the first bit:

When the sun starts to rise
And I open my eyes 
You are good, so good
In the heat of the day
With each stone that I lay
You are good, so good

With ever breath I take in
I’ll tell you I’m grateful again
When the moon climbs high
Before each kiss goodnight
You are good

So how can I thank You
What can I bring
What can these poor hands 
Lay at the feet of a King
I’ll sing You a love song
It’s all that I have
To tell You I’m grateful 
For holding my life in Your Hands

I hope I did the song justice! I made a silly mistake and put the microphone stand too near me, to a point that I couldn’t reach some of the lowest notes of the song – I dodged the stand once in a while but then just decided to knock it each time and hope it didn’t fall over.

Anyway, to the cooking!! My mum made some lovely melt-in-your-mouth bites called Momos, and I made cupcakes (though I have to admit I cheated and used packet mix!).

20140308_140848_AndroidAlso, family events are the perfect time to get group shots. The older two cousins were running around outside, but we got a picture of Jacob and his cousin Malachi. It was so cute to see them interacting, but Jacob can be a bit pushy.

PushThese two are only 3 months apart and I’m sure they’ll be very good friends when they’re older.

MalachiAnyway, on a final note, I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that went missing (and has reportedly crashed in the ocean off the coast of Vietnam). Such news saddens me and while things sound grim, I will direct my prayers to them and to the families who are agonizingly waiting for news of their loved ones.

Have a great weekend otherwise, everyone!

Just a quick one before the weekend…

I had planned for today to be highly eventful day but time just slipped away from me. Possibly because I slept in til 9.00am… I know, complete luxury, right? Jacob slept all the way from 11.00pm to 5.00am, then had a feed and slept til 9.00am. Pure bliss – I have not known sleep like this for a long time!

Anyway, the reason why I was trying to busy myself was because it’s our church’s International Night this weekend. For some of us, this is a long-awaited event and we look forward to flaunting our culinary prowess. Okay, honestly I’m not a great cook but I make do.

This time round, I’m doing Malaysian food AND German food. This is going to be interesting because I’m baking a black forest cake with no oven! I’m also going to make my all time favourite honeydew sago – and I almost forgot to get the sago for it, silly me. This is going to be a fun weekend!

If any of you are in Adelaide and want to drop by, here’s the info:

Image

Today I was chopping vegetables and listening to Nickelback. I actually searched for “Lullaby” on Youtube and Nickelback’s song was one of the first hits. You should watch that video – it is so sad (but touching)! Nickelback is probably my favourite band because their lyrics are meaningful, their songs are catchy and man, is Chad Kroeger’s voice sexxay.

Songs nowadays have such unimaginative lyrics – half of them (if not more) talk about people dancing in a club, raising their hands and drinking themselves silly. Sure enough, some have catch tunes (or autotunes) but I like songs with some meaning beyond the emotional depth of a one night stand. Am I getting old?

20131014_091436

“Hmm, I don’t know mum… maybe you are getting old!” Sorry, I know the picture is blurry – I really can’t stand it when people put up blurry pictures but it’s so hard cos he moves so much!

Since it’s the Sabbath (took me THAT long to write this post, til the sun set), I’ll share one my favourite gospel singers – Nicole Nordeman. Her songs are powerful, lyrically and spiritually. Here’s one of my favourite ones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waYUzxK8TYA

Til next time… The next post will be full of food pictures and possibly a Jacob video production – stay tuned!