A Christmas Feast 2013

Merry Christmas! Can’t believe the year 2013 is coming to an end already! I don’t want it to end so soon because it has been my favorite year so far, with the birth of Little J and the amazing time I had being a temporary stay at home mom. The start of the new year will also mark the return of my working routine and sending Little J to the child care. I feel terrible just thinking about it and I know it’s going to be dreadful for me. But looking on the bright side, it gives Little J the opportunity to socialize and mix with more kids instead of just being a hermit! :)


Christmas feast

Last weekend, my aunt invited us to her place for an early Christmas dinner with her family. It was our first time celebrating Christmas in Sydney since we were back in Malaysia this time last year. We looked forward to spending this festive season with them since we never had a proper Christmas dinner with a Christian family before. We were also told that there would be exchange of presents for the kids so we got excited! My only worry about going out of house for a dinner event was how Little J would behave. He’s usually happy and cheerful during the day but cranky and restless during the evening near his bedtime. And this being a dinner that would only start at 7pm, I knew he would kick up a fuss in a matter of time. Anyway, there was nothing I could do except to just go with the flow.


Bacon and mushroom quiche

Before leaving for the dinner, I spent about 2 hours preparing some food to bring over. I wasn’t sure what was appropriate so I came up with 2 dishes – a Bacon and Mushroom Quiche and Baked Eggplant Parmigiana. The eggplant dish took longer to prepare since I had to grill them on the pan first before arranging them on the baking dish. Couple that with Little J who decided to wake up early from his nap and I was running all over the kitchen trying to multitask. Thankfully, he decided to give in and nap just after I put the dishes into the oven.


Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

At around 6.30pm, Little J woke up just in time for his feed before we left for dinner. When we reached, we saw the table laden with various dishes! It had been ages since I had a proper dinner with more than 2 different dishes! With the arrival of Little J, dinner has always been quick and easy fixes with a maximum of 2 different dishes. So when I saw the different variety on the table, I instantly got hungry. LOL! There was the customary Christmas ham, potato gratin, soy sauce chicken, Panang curry chicken, spring rolls and my baked eggplant and quiche.


Christmas Ham


Soy Sauce chicken


Spring rolls


Panang curry chicken


Potato gratin


All the dishes for dinner

He was happy for the first hour or so, even allowed both Saucer and I to have a peaceful dinner with the rest. It was actually more than I could hope for. Some time near 9pm, he started to get cranky and wailed for attention. By then we had already finished dinner and were just chatting with my aunt and the family. When his cries got more and more frequent, we decided that it was time to go home. They had not started exchanging presents yet but since we were leaving, Little J got his first Christmas present from his aunt Sue. At least it managed to distract him for a good few minutes before he started screaming again.


Little J’s first Christmas present


Christmas presents for all of us

When we reached home, Little J started to settle down and eventually went to sleep. Once he was down, it was time for us to open our presents. Aunt Sue was so generous since she got both Saucer and I presents too when initially we agreed to get presents just for the kids! Her presents are also so thoughtful, especially the checkered picnic rug that folded into a bag. We can foresee lots of use out of it once Little J gets bigger and we have more picnic outings!


Our Christmas gifts

How was your Christmas celebration like? Hope you had a great one just like us and we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year 2014!

Rolling Milestone

At around 3 months plus, Little J had the tendency to always roll to his side. At first, I thought it was because I had the TV on, since he always ended on the side facing the TV. Later on, the rolling to his side sort of evolved into rolling from one angle to another. Very often, I would place him in the same position, i.e. head facing the top of the cot and feet at the bottom, but when he woke up from his nap, I would find him shifted 90 degrees with his body across the cot.

photo 1

Little J on his side

photo 3

Mastering the rolling to his side while sucking his fingers

Later on, I realized it wasn’t just because of the TV, because he started rolling to both sides regardless of whether the TV was on or not. His method of rolling was quite smart, I thought. He would lift both of his legs up, then let them fall to the side. Depending on which side his legs fell, his body would follow suit. So he was in fact using the weight of his legs to drag his body along. How brilliant! Due to this method, every time he’s on this side, his body would form a 90 degrees angle. And when he tried to straighten his body by kicking his legs, his body would move 90 degrees away, making his body slowly rotate around. That eventually explained how he always ended up in a different position in his cot.

photo 4

Another shot of him on his side

Just a few days after he turned 4 months old, he started doing a lot more of this rolling to the side, but this time, he was trying to flip himself over to his tummy! I discovered that one day when I placed him on his play mat as usual and I went out to collect my laundry. Once I was back, I heard him wailing, which was unusual, so I quickly went to him to find that he was on his tummy! Unfortunately, he wasn’t someone who liked being on his tummy and since he didn’t know how to flip himself back, he started struggling for help. I was surprised and a little upset that I missed the first time he did his rollover, so I was adamant to stay and watch him do it the second time. Finally, I managed to catch him doing it on video after he attempted it for the 10th time or so. Bravo! If there’s one thing I learnt, it is that Little J is one determined little fella. He kept on trying and trying even after many failures, until he got what he wanted. And if you noticed, he even started each attempt with a smile! :)

Little J rolling over

They say there is such a thing as sleep regression, where babies start to sleep less or out of pattern due to a development phase or the learning of a new skill. True enough, Little J’s sleep was all over the place a few days before he mastered the rollover, probably because he was still trying to figure out how to do it. Once he got that figured out, his sleep slowly went back to normal, but we were faced with another new problem. He started to rollover in the middle of the night when he’s awake! Needless to say, he wouldn’t be happy with that position for long before he started wailing for help. I can’t tell you how many times I was awaken by him crying out loud just because he flipped himself over to his tummy. And the problem was I couldn’t stop him for doing it over and over again. He must have been excited learning the new skill and wanting to try it out whenever possible but it was certainly taking away my much-needed sleep in the middle of the night.


“Look mommy, I’m on my tummy again!”


“Hehe, woke you up, didn’t I?”

The rolling over in the middle of the night happened for a few nights in a row, until I was so exhausted having to wake up at 2/3/4/5am just to roll him back. Finally, on one morning, I was just too tired to wake up and surprisingly the crying stopped after a few minutes. When I finally woke up, I peeked into his room to find out that he, too, was too tired to cry for help and gave in to sleeping on his tummy. Hooray! Little J had never been able to sleep on any position other than on his back, so he eventually developed a bald spot. Now that he learnt to sleep on his tummy, it would give the bald spot a chance to grow his hair. Plus, he wouldn’t have to scream out for help if he flips himself over in the middle of the night again. Double win.


Sleeping on his tummy

It has now been 3 weeks since he turned 4 months old, and yes, the rolling over is still happening. The good news is that he just started to roll himself back to his back now! Gosh my boy is becoming more and more mobile by the day, and more independent too. I look forward to documenting his next major milestone!

Which Freezer Should I Choose?

From my dishwasher post, lets move on to another kitchen appliance that we can’t live without – freezer! Here is a guest post on how to choose the perfect freezer for your kitchen.


There are two types of domestic kitchen freezer available, upright and chest freezers. Both types come in four sizes: Compact (5 cubic feet), Small (six to nine cubic feet), medium (twelve to eighteen cubic feet) and large (eighteen+ cubic feet). For a typical family of four, a compact or small freezer will usually suffice. However, when choosing a suitable freezer for the family home, there are a number of other factors that should be taken into consideration as well as just size.


Chest freezer


A compact freezer will often start at around $150 whereas top of the range large freezers can set you back almost $2000. The average freezer for a family home typically costs between $400 to $800 dollars – slightly less for a chest freezer. More expensive freezers usually come with extra features such as frost-free or automatic defrost.


Chest freezer is slightly cheaper than upright freezer


Upright freezers typically come with four or five racks and sometimes with extra storage in the door. Chest freezers take up more floor space and have a lid that opens upwards. Upright freezers allow you to organise your food on separate racks whereas chest freezers have baskets or one large space. If you don’t want to rummage around, then upright freezers are a better storage option.


Upright freezer for better storage


Because they take up less floor space, upright freezers are more suitable for smaller kitchens. If you have extra storage space such as a garage, plus a large family or wish to freeze and store a lot of food, then go for a chest freezer.


Upright freezer takes up less space


Although they are often larger, chest freezers tend to use less energy than uprights. This is because more cold air escapes from an upright than a chest freezer when it is opened. Because cold air falls rather than rises, there is much less time for it to escape from a chest than an upright freezer. This said, all models should come with an energy efficiency rating, so read up on these and study a range of freezers carefully in store to see how they compare.

So, in summary, think about how much you wish to spend, how much food you store and consume, how much floor or storage space you have and consider energy consumption. Happy freezing!

My Dishwasher

I love cooking. I just hate cleaning up afterwards. I used to pride myself in being able to keep the kitchen in a spotless condition, and to always keep the sink empty of dirty plates or cutlery. With Little J around, however, I had started to cut myself some slack and dishes are sometimes left in the sink for a few hours being they’re being tended to. I still don’t like the sight of dirty plates around but what’s a girl to do? During dinner, thankfully Saucer would be around to help with washing up. But I don’t know if it’s the same with all guys, I always felt that he wasn’t thorough enough in cleaning. I know he’s being kind and helpful around but maybe he can’t help it if his cleaning standards are not up to mine. Therefore, my best friend in this case is the dishwasher.


My dishwasher

When we moved in to our new place last year, we were surprised to find that the previous owner did not remove the dishwasher from our kitchen. It looked pretty new and clean, definitely didn’t look like a broken dishwasher, so I was more than happy to welcome this addition to our kitchen. I always thought that using a dishwasher would waste more water and electricity, especially when there’s just the 2 of us around. But I was surprised to find out that you can save energy by just loading a dishwasher more than half full. Think of it like a washing machine, surely it is more energy efficient to be using the machine than to hand wash if you have a load of laundry to do?


Wine glasses with wine stains and finger prints


Wine stains

One of the things that Saucer doesn’t clean very well is wine glasses. I guess it’s due to the fragile nature of the wine glass that he doesn’t dare to spend too much time washing it, in case he breaks it. So most of the time, he would just rinse it with water and let it dry. This, of course, is not enough especially if it is used for drinking red wine. Over time, the wine stains would accumulate and cause the wine glass to have a reddish stain at the bottom. Since I was going to use the dishwasher, I decided to load it with all our wine glasses for a good rinse.


Finish products


Inside the dishwasher

If you live in Australia, you would most certainly have heard of the brand Finish. In fact, Finish is so well-known in the dishwashing category that it is synonymous to Tupperware being the plastic container brand. I was sent some Finish products to try out the other day, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to really test if the product is worth its weight. So one night after dinner, I decided to load the dishwasher with all the dirty cookware, pot, plates, cutlery and wine glasses that were stained. I used a tablet of the Finish Powerball together with the Finish Protector that would give additional shine to glassware.


Finish Powerball


Finish Powerball dishwashing tablet


Just place it in the dishwasher compartment

Using the Finish Powerball was so easy. Each tablet was ready to use, just pop it in the dishwasher compartment without any mess. The Finish Protector looked like a diamond, and was supposed to give extra shine especially to glassware. According to the packet, it would also last up to 50 washes! Using this was easy too – just clip it on the bottom rack of the dishwasher as recommended on the pack.


Finish Protector


Clip it on the bottom rack


Dishwasher fully loaded

Finally, my dishwasher was fully loaded and ready to go. Pressed the button to start and I went on performing my motherly duties – aka feeding Little J and coaxing him to sleep at night. Having the extra time from not having to do the dishes also meant I could play with him a little longer before bed time. Win-win situation. :)


Fresh from the dishwasher

The next morning, I opened the dishwasher to a clean rack of plates, bowls and glasses. It might have been psychology but the plates were spotless and super shiny. The wine glasses were free of stains too, impressive! I was very happy with the results, and how sparkling clean everything looked! :)


Shiny wine glasses


Spotless wine glass

In fact, just out of curiosity, I compared the cutlery that was cleaned with the dishwasher to a hand washed one – it was obvious how the hand washed cutlery still had water spots and streaks on them, while the one from the dishwasher was flawless. I know it’s just a small detail but if you have good and expensive silverware, you wouldn’t want their shine to be compromised, would you?


Top – dishwasher, bottom – hand wash

I guess this experiment just shows how handy a dishwasher is and how Finish products have proven their worth. If there is one downside to using a dishwasher, it is probably the long turnaround time to complete the washing (more than an hour). So, if I have less than half the dishwasher load to do, it would still be more efficient doing it manually. Otherwise, I would be more than happy to start the dishwasher – having guests over for dinner would also be a breeze!

Little J’s Latest Obsession

Is it December already? My, how time flies! I can still remember vividly my experience of giving birth to Little J in July, and now it has been more than 4 months already! As expected, with a baby around, our outings became less, which means less food posts. You must be thinking, that should give way to more recipe posts instead, since I’d be cooking most meals? Well, cooking has been a quick-fix affair – pasta, chicken rice, oven-baked dishes, anything that requires minimal cooking time/supervision gets my vote. I can’t tell you the many times that I would be preparing the raw ingredients to cook when Little J would choose to scream for my attention. Then, I would be darting to and fro the kitchen trying to keep him entertained for the next few minutes so that I could finish my cutting/marinating/cooking/washing. Really, if you want to learn multitasking, take care of a baby. LOL. Which explains why there would be less recipe posts as well, since my dishes are mostly a combination of what is available in the fridge.


Little J at 4 months

When I scroll through my phone, I notice that more than 90% of my pictures are now filled with Little J (used to be food). This means it only makes sense that my blog posts would be focusing more on my baby, for now at least. Here are some of the pictures that I took when he just turned 4 months old and was in a good mood. I absolutely love the quiet afternoons spent with him, just the 2 of us, at home. Thinking about this reminds me that I would be starting work soon and would miss all the times that we’d be spending together. :(



When he’s in a good mood, I always try to put him on his tummy to strengthen his neck and back muscles. Being a curious boy also helps in photography because he kept staring at my camera, perhaps wondering what it was. :)


Tummy time!



Love his rosy cheeks!


For the past month or so, however, he developed a new obsession – sucking on his little fingers. I’m telling you, every waking moment that he has when he is not distracted, he would be gnawing on his fingers or sometimes, fist. When he first started, I thought it was because he’s hungry so I fed him. But immediately after feeding, he would place his fingers in his mouth again. So I am now convinced that it’s nothing to do with hunger and he just loves chewing his fingers! Obviously I can’t monitor him 24/7, so all I can do is to make sure that his hands are always clean whenever I place him on his play mat or when he goes to sleep.


Suck suck


Nom nom nom


My latest obsession

I hope this is just a developmental phase instead of a habit that sticks!

6 Foods to Lower Your Risk for Cancer

As such a melting pot of cultural and ethnic diversity, Malaysia is able to enjoy an unmatched choice of unique and delicious cuisines. And us Malaysians do take our food seriously. Mamak culture and the search for the best specialty hawker stalls are both taken very seriously by a huge percentage of the population, regardless of their background.

That being said, these habits we have created for ourselves may not be the best thing for our health. The incidence of death from diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity is constantly on the rise, while cancer is now believed to affect 90,000-100,000 people in Malaysia alone. It is estimated that one in every four Malaysians will develop cancer by the age of 75 and is considered the third leading cause of death in the country, contributed by not only to factors such as smoking but to being overweight and a poor diet.

However, by making small changes in our diet, it is possible to avoid having to go through such trouble. By simply adding these ‘superfoods’ to your diet, you can lower your risk for cancer and go about leading a healthier life!


A flavour synonymous with Asian cuisine, Garlic has amassed a bad rep for the smelly breath it gives you after meal. However, the same compounds which are responsible for that smell may be able to stop the formation of carcinogens (cancer causing substances) in your body and kill cancer cells. On top of that, it can reduce the risk for colon cancer and battle the microbe responsible for stomach ulcers, which have the potential to develop into stomach cancer.

To ensure the most benefit from this superfood just let it sit for 15-20 minutes after being peeled and chopped, before cooking them. This will activate enzymes in garlics and release the sulphur-containing compounds.


Image courtesy of foodsubs.com


Your parents lied. While they can improve eye health, carrots don’t actually improve your eyesight. They do however contain beta-carotene, which may protect your cell’s membranes from toxins and slow cancer cell growth. They also provide vitamins and phytochemicals (chemicals found in plants to protect it from bacteria, viruses or fungi) which can protect you from an assortment of cancers.

For best flavor and benefit, stem or boil the carrots whole first before cutting them and serving them however you had planned to.


Mum was right when she told you to eat your spinach. While it won’t give you raging forearms like Popeye, spinach is rich in Carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin. They’ve been shown to remove damaging free-radicals (natural by-products of the body’s chemical reactions) that can lead to cancer. It also contains folate which helps repair DNA and produces new cells, as well as fibre which is good for, well, you know.

It’s best eaten raw or lightly cooked, so a spinach salad or a bowl of steamed spinach is best if you’re looking to benefit from this anti-cancer hero.


Image courtesy of simplyrecipes.com


Although often seen as a punishment by children around the world, Broccoli remains a top recommended super food by physicians and researchers alike. It contains phytochemicals called glucosinolates which are protective enzymes, and the strongest of which is sulforaphane. Broccoli produces these like a champ, and eating it may reduce your risk for cancer by detoxifying harmful substances or as an anti-microbial agent (specifically against H. pylori).

Although a greasy cheese sauce is the preferred method for many to get these down, it’s best to steam and cook Broccoli with garlic and olive oil.


“They turned as red as a tomato” is a go-to expression to show someone’s embarrassment, but there’s nothing embarrassing about this fruit. Its red color is attributed to a phytochemical called lycopene. Tests with lycopene have shown it stopping cancer cell growth, speculatively by boosting the body’s immune system and interfering with abnormal cell growth. Diets high in lycopene have pointed to reduced risks of prostate cancer.

It’s best to eat cooked or processed tomatoes, which have had all the lycopene squeezed out of their cells to be absorbed. The best part is, that means pizza and pasta is actually good for you, well at least the sauce.


Berries are known to be a Super food from the amount of benefits they can provide. On top of possibly slowing cancer cell growth, they can possibly protect one from memory decline and heart disease. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and Ellegic acid, which seems to accelerate enzymes that destroy carcinogens and slow tumor growth, as well as flavonoids which can suppress DNA damaging enzymes linked to lung cancer.


Image courtesy of  tandmmag.com

”Prevention is the best medicine” as the saying goes. The process of becoming healthy can be a difficult and lifelong challenge. However, that shouldn’t stop us from taking whatever small steps we can in order to better or health, whether unby making small changes in our diet, fitness routine or lifestyle.

The insurance provider AXA Affin has recently joined with the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) to support those who have suffered from cancer on their path to recovery. For every post that links to their 110 Cancer Care website by bloggers like myself, they will sponsor one day of funding for daycare usage at the NCSM Treatment Centre for a patient.

If you are interested in collaborating and helping out in this endeavor, please contact Danial @ danial.lissborg@lionandlion.com to see what you can do.

For more info, feel free to visit their site at: https://www.110cancercare.com/

*This is a guest post by Danial