Friday, May 22, 2015

Tot school: let's make pizza!

Printables pack by

This morning, I couldn't get access to internet at home, so I couldn't do any research for his tot school activities for today. So I just went through some of the printables I have previously saved and I found this, pizza preschool pack by I even made a note telling myself that this is a good one, so I printed the appropriate ones out and got them ready for little J later on. 

When J woke up, I told him, I got some ABC pizza pack for you, babe. He heard and got excited, murmuring, 'There is pizza? I want pizza!!'. Oh my, I thought, what did I say wrong. I tried to correct him, but I knew I was too late. He talked about him being hungry and wanting to eat pizza the whole morning. I quickly sent him to his phonics class, then rushed myself to my shop and started kneading away. I had to pay for my mistake (for not phrasing my words correctly) so I prepared ingredients for him to make pizza. 

I used this recipe instead of this. Due to time shortage, I used a recipe for bread, instead of a recipe for pizza for him. The mini pizza recipe that I have previously made was really good, but it takes a long time to prepare. I have only got 2 1/2 hours before I got to go fetch him again. I kneaded and proofed the dough in my breadmaker, once done, I went to fetch him. 

We got home, I told him to prepare the pizza base. I asked him if he wanted a square or round pizza, he said he wanted a round one, but he made an oval one, oh well, not too far apart the difference. Basically he helped punched and stretched the dough to a flat base whatever shape he wanted. I quickly chopped all the ingredients, ie 1/4 of a tomato, 1 button mushroom (from the can), a small slice of ham and grated some mozzarella cheese. I hated tomato ketchup available commercially, cos I felt that they do not tastes of tomato, but unfortunately I couldn't find any homemade or ready tomato puree at home so I just had to give in to the artificially made ketchup (luckily I found one sachet of tomato ketchup from hubby's previous pizza takeaway). 

I let him prick the pizza base prior to spreading the sauce. Surprisingly, he did not make a mess. Then I let him spread the tomato ketchup. Again, he did not make a mess. Following this, I let him place the ingredients on top. He did a little and said he's done, but there was still about 3/4 of those ingredients left, so I finished up for him and we got the pizza ready to bake. We baked it for about 8min at 190deg C. 

J's first made pizza was good! He loved it, especially the chopped button mushrooms. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tot school: Swat-a-shape (fly themed shape recognition activity) free printable

We have been learning about bugs for the last few days. Yesterday's theme was 'fly' 苍蝇。 I got reminded of the flyswatter we used to have when we were young. However, I don't see fly swatter much these days. Is it just my household? Or has people developed better ways to keep fly at bay? But I knew I gotta introduce flyswatter to little J. He will be amused. I was sure he would be delighted to know about it and he would have fun with it. I found it in a supermarket. It cost me about RM2. I made up a simple 'shape recognition' activity for him to have some fun with his flyswatter while learning about shapes. 

It's quite a simple game to play with and it kept him entertained for some time, and he requested for it the next day. I 'laminated' it myself by simply attaching cellphone tape over both side before cutting the "flies" out. These days I am being quite prudent in terms of what I bring over for real lamination cos it's costly and many a times, he does not spend a lot of time on them, which I felt is not justifiable cost wise. I introduced to him the flyswatter and its function, and emphasized that it's only to catch flies, and isn't designed for hitting, then I simply laid the "flies" with different shapes on the abdomen on the floor. I would call out a certain shape and little J would swat it and chuck the 'dead fly' into the designated container (the bin). 

Get the 'swat-a-shape' free printable here

Here is a beautiful dragonfly craft made by J. Usually I am the hysterical mom who wants to make sure the art and crafts he does turns out looking beautiful and normal, but lately, I have tried to not correct him and just let him do it his way. I felt that the wings for the dragonflies weren't looking very normal here, but I did not say anything and just let him finished it. He was happy and commented that it's beautiful! 

I got the printable from here, instead of just coloring it, I cellotaped strips of lace paper on top of the wings and got J to color on them (we used crayola water color). After the lace is striped off, it reveals pretty markings on the wings. 

J is 31 month old. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tot School: Learning about bees

Lately, I realized most of the postings of J's tot school's activities involves a lot of art and craft. That gets me thinking, why and do I need to do something about it? 

This morning, my buddy told me her daughter of 4 goes to a wardolf based kindergarten in KL, but she doesn't know how to write her own name yet. I replied her, "That's okay. Writing is an expression that will comes later on in the entire learning process. I don't see that as an issue for now." She adds on, "But my daughter draws beautifully. That's her way of expressing herself." Bang!! Exactly!! I have not made Josh write yet neither, that's because I don't see the rush. He recognizes the alphabets, the recognizes some of the words, he reads some of the words, but he doesn't need to know how to write them yet. Children will only establish a definite hand dominance (or preference) by the age of 5. Recently, I've been told that forcing a young child to write at a tender age (of 2 or 3) is harmful, as we are assuming that the child is right-handed (as most teachers or parents teach to write using their right hand). Forcing a left-handed to be right-handed causes reduced activity in the dominant right hemisphere and increase activity in the non-dominant side. The consistent use of non-dominant part of brain affects the personality while growing up and the adaptability can be difficult. More info can be read here

Some interesting info for us to ponder on. 

Anyways, back to J's activities lately. The theme today is BEE 蜜蜂。 Chinese characters are so amazing. There are no phonics systems for learning Chinese characters, so the only way of learning it is via memory. There is a tip though, Chinese characters are very 'pictorial'. I have been telling Josh that 乌龟 tortoise doesn't swim, but 海龟 turtle swims. The answer is revealed in their Chinese names. See how 海龟 has the three dots on the side to indicate water features and there are no water features in 乌.  He got it right away! 

Now back to 蜜蜂 for bee. This is another interesting word. The character 蜂 is a bee. See the way it resembles a stinger at the bottom of the word? That's why today's activity start by learning parts of bee. His tot school activities just gets more and more interesting these days. 

Prior to this, I also taught him more about honey bees using slides here. I just realized I do not own books about bees. But that's ok. 

Learning about bee parts 
Using the glue to paste is his favorite activity for this few months. So I knew this activity would keep him entertained while I got myself some food to eat cos I just got home from work. But what amazed me was that he managed to do everything on his own, as in gluing the right parts to the right place, that said, the activity sheet does provide clue by stating the first alphabet to the parts. Again, I used the opportunity to tell him the names and functions of each part. 

Craft for bee hive and coloring of bees
I made him paint on a bubble wrap cut out to the shape of a bee hive (with an entrance) and let him stamp the painted bubble wrap on a drawing paper. Then we colored two little bees and I cut it out for him. We then proceed to learning the word BEE and 蜜蜂. 

There has been a surge of ants in our house lately. This gave me the chance to also tell him about ANT 蚂蚁。 It is so much easier to remember when there are real stuffs around. 

Matching alphabets in capital letter with corresponding small letter

Bee hive puzzle and -teen number recognition 

Bee life cycle puzzle 
This was his number 2 ranking favorite activity, which he was still doing the next day when he woke. 

Now, last but not least, was his favorite activity of the day! 
Science and practical activity of bee pollen collection 

I drew out flowers and cut them out, then I placed a treat (it was organic cornflakes, cos he loves them) on the flower as POLLEN. Then I told him he's a bee, his name is J Bee. I made him go around the room collecting pollen in his sac on his legs (apparently that's what bees do). He was tempted to eat the "pollen" on the spot when he collected them, but I told him, "bees bring them back to the hive and enjoy them with their babies". He resisted and waited till he finished collecting all the "pollen". I also made him "nectar" to drink with straw. The nectar was basically honey drink. He loved the whole idea and requested to play it again and he had 2 more helpings of the "nectar". 

I hope this post will benefits you and your little ones, cos J has learnt a lot today. 

Majority of the bee printables were gotten from this link.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Breadmaker's butter cake (marble cake)

I have been baking this cake two days in a role, cos it is really good! 

The first time, I baked this as marbled cake with raisins. 

The second day, I baked this as butter cake with banana chunks. I personally preferred this one, as I love all things with banana. 

Here's the recipe: 

  • 120g butter, in room temperature, cut into cubes 
  • 80g brown sugar 
  • 2 egg, medium size 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 3tbsp fresh milk or yogurt 
  • 200g self raising flour or all purpose flour 
  • 1tsp baking powder (2tbsp of baking powder if you're using all purpose flour) 
To bake it as marble cake, divide the batter into two. For the brown color batter, add in cocoa powder paste (made with 2tbsp cocoa powder and 2tbsp warm water) and combine thoroughly. Then add into the breadmaker pan, and lightly swirl using a chopstick to create the marbling effect. 

For the one with banana chunks, I just add in one chopped banana to the recipe and cut down fresh milk from 3 to 2 tbsp. 

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with either an electric mixer or a hand beater. 
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mix.  
  3. Add in salt, fresh milk and sifted flour and baking powder. 
  4. Once combined, scrap batter into breadpan. 
  5. Preheat breadmaker by turning on mode no. 13 for bake. Set the timing to 1:00 hour and press start.  
  6. Once the breadmaker is heated up (in about 5min time), insert the breadpan. The cake will be ready in 55 minutes. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Donlim breadmaker chiffon cake 面包机戚风蛋糕

All this while, I have the impression that we can't bake chiffon cake or cotton sponge cake using a breadmaker due to the defaulted temperature preset by the breadmaker. But a client whom had bought a unit of breadmaker from me tried baking chiffon cake with it, using an extra cake pan inserted into the normal breadpan, and the cake turned out to be beautiful, soft and fluffy! I am very glad to have clients like these. Other than the chiffon cake, she has also been very adventurous in trying out and sharing new bread, cakes, jams recipes with me. 

To persue my quest of baking chiffon cake with my breadmaker, I spoke to my breadmaker supplier and checked if it is possible, and yes, he reverted that it is indeed possible. In fact, he even has the cake pan that fits in perfectly in the breadpan. I waited for the breadpan to arrive and have finally got to try it. 

It was a fluffy bake! If only you can have a whiff of the nice pandan aroma! 

Recipe for Breadmaker Pandan Chiffon Cake 
·         2 egg yolk 蛋黄·         1tbsp brown sugar 黄糖·         1.5tbsp grapeseed oil 葡萄籽油·         50g pandan juice (blended 8-10 pandan leaves with about 300ml water) 斑兰汁·         50g cake flour (superfine flour) 蛋糕粉/底筋面粉 
·         2 egg white 蛋白·         1.5tbsp brown sugar 黄糖·         1/8 tsp salt

Sieve flour and set aside. Using an egg separator, separate egg white and yolk.
Using a handheld electric mixer, whish the egg white with salt until frothy, add in brown sugar, continue to beat at low to medium speed (about 2min) until it reaches stiff peak. Set aside. At the same time, turn on breadmaker, select mode no. 13 (bake), adjust time to 00:59, press START.
Combine pandan juice, oil and sugar with egg yolk. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add in sieved flour. Combine until thoroughly mixed.
Add in 1/3 of egg white meringue into egg yolk mix. Mix with a plastic spatula. Then add the batter into the remaining 2/3 egg white meringue. Mix until creamy. Line the bottom of cake pan with a carefully cut out round baking pan. Slowly pour in batter into cake mould. Lightly tap cake pan to remove trapped air.
Place cake pan into preheated breadpan. When time of baking reaches 59min, adjust TIME so that breadmaker continues to bake, making total bake time 1hr15min.
Remove cake pan, turn upside down to cool on cooling rack.

将面粉过筛。 鸡蛋用分蛋器把蛋白分开。蛋白及盐用电动搅拌机底速打至起泡,加入黄糖,渐渐加速至高速搅打大约2分钟,至到蛋白变硬。此时,将面包机插电,选择菜单13(烘烤),时间调到00:59分钟,按启动。将斑兰汁、油、黄糖一起加入蛋黄液中,用电动打蛋器搅拌均匀,加入过筛后的面粉,搅拌均匀。
1/3 的蛋白加入搅拌好的蛋黄糊中, 用塑胶刮刀捞起底部的面糊倒回剩下的蛋白中翻拌至细腻浓稠 。蛋糕摸底部垫油纸,将蛋糕糊倒入,轻轻敲打把大泡震出来。将蛋糕桶放进面包桶内,开始烘烤,当烘烤完成59分钟,再继续调时间,以至总共烘烤时间为一小时15分钟。烤完,将蛋糕桶 翻转放在烤架冷却后用塑胶刮刀脱膜。

Donlim breadmaker is currently available for sale at Just Health at retail price RM380 (price includes the breadmaker, one breadpan and one cake pan), inclusive of one year warranty. For more information, please kindly refer here, alternatively you may contact me at 012 324 1816 for info. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Exploring Sabah (Borneo) rainforest with a curious toddler

2D1N trip to Sukau/ Kinabatangan River/ Myne Kinabatangan Resort 

3 years ago, when I was conceived with Josh, I already knew school holidays will never be the same. It'll not be spending a couple of nights in nice luxury hotels and shopping away in air-conditioned malls. There will be lots of sun-kissed tan, mozzie bites, and cuts from trekking through the jungle. We have agreed that we want to raise child who knows what it's like to live in the wilderness, and that money don't just appear in their bank account, food don't just appear on supermarket shelves.  The child will have to work hard for it. The days has come much earlier than expected, and yes it was an indeed enriching experience making a trip to Sukau, the very luscious rainforest surrounding the amazing Kinabtangan river, with our 31month old toddler J. 

Sukau is about 2 hours drive from Sandakan. We have chosen to stay at Myne Kinabatangan Resort as it offers a reasonable rate for locals. Its price includes lunch, tea break, dinner, breakfast, guided jungle trekking, river cruise on the Kinabatangan river and lodging. 

View of our triple room chalet, facing the river. 

His first time on a this
This sort of 'sunbed' reminds me a lot of my childhood, as we used to have one of this in our estate house. I grew up in the palm oil plantation estates, where it was a norm to spot frogs in our bathroom, or snake in our garden.
Surreal view of the river outside our chalet in the morning. 

The river cruise on Kinabatangan river 
He was no stranger when comes to boating or river cruising. Compared to those we had chasing after dolphins in Bali, the river cruise on Kinabatangan river is definitely a luxurious one. There is proper seating and we still get to stretch our legs after a few hours cruise on the boat. We paid extra to go longer miles to persue the wild pygmy elephants, yet we have cruised (sped) for about 1.5 hours and seen no signs of the elephants, and it's been drizzling for about an hour, so we had to tell the boatman to call off the elephant chase. It was sad to not be able to see elephants in wild, but at least, we managed to see the elephants' dunk while doing jungle trekking the next day. Despite the fact that we couldn't catch glimpse of the elephants, we still saw lots of the primates on way back. We spotted many hornbills flying across, oh! He finally saw a real rainbow. There were proboscis monkey having sumptuous meals feasting on the mangrove leaves. There were also wild long-tailed macaques taking it easy resting high up on the tree branches. 

Proboscis monkey 
 Ask the little fella, and he will tell you, proboscis monkeys has big flat nose and big round tummy!

Long-tailed macaques

Just clouds. 
Jungle trekking and bugs and birds watching
I think my favorite part of this trip is the real bugs "learning" and "observation". So far, J had only come across 'caterpillar' in the form of pictorials and clip arts. He had done many activities related to Eric Carle's 'A very hungry caterpillar' yet he had not seen a real one. I am so glad that the hubby managed to spot this cute and fluffy green caterpillar resting away on a green leaf, it's exactly the scene from Eric Carle's book! 

There were many beetles, and let me emphasize this again with another MANY!, in the resort compound. I have never seen soooo many beetles (yes, third time emphasis) in my life. Coincidentally, for this trip, I have prepared for Josh to make a 'ladybird' craft and ladybird is a type of beetle.

Spot the real beetle. 

Here he is, observing the 'real' one closely. 

A minor fraction of the many beetles seen in the resort. 

More beetles! 

Lots of these colorful butterflies were seen in the jungle. 

Yes, you gotta hike to see more! 

.. and spider too! ... 

Bird watching tower 
View of Kinabatangan river from top of the bird watching tower. 
A mini canopy bridge in the jungle, not for those fear of height. 
Finally after about 45 minutes trekking in the jungle, we have arrived at the Merbau tree. Apparently, this tree (which is still alive at time of visiting) has been around for 100 years. There was a small entrance (about J's height as you can see from the following photo) and the tree can fit about 10 little kids in it at one time. It was dark, yet cooling in the tree. There were bats in the tree, again, it's J's first time seeing real bats. It was believed that the tree was a hiding place for the villagers to hide their daughters during the Japanese occupation era. 

Smack right outside the resort, just by the river, there is a very beautiful cottonwood tree that grows cotton! When the fruits (cotton fruit) ripen, it will turn yellow/ brown and will fall. And it can be opened easily, revealing the soft and fluffy cottons, used to stuff pillows or any other related purposes.   

Gua Gomantong 
After checked out from Myne Resort, we also made a trip to Gua Gomantong, which was situated somewhere along our way back, about 30minutes drive from Sukau. Again, it was another eye opening experience for J. The cave stank! Swiftlets, bats and cockroaches swamped the cave. We were also fortunate enough to see the way the workers risk their safety climbing those hanging stairs to get to the top of the caves to collect the bird nests. 

Two orang utan spotted in the wild as we left the cave. 

To know more about Myne Resort, please click here

Here are some of the crafts and works I have been doing with J on days leading up to this trip: 

Making proboscis monkey puppet 

Hornbill coloring activity with cotton bud

Elmer the elephant craft (coloring with pom pom)

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