Sunday, September 9, 2012

kids' little DIY 3D art piece using clay

My neighbour's kids had art lesson using clay and created very beautiful 3D art pieces. I decided to conduct my own lessons for my kids. I had no clue what type of clay to use but decided to pop by Rivervale Mall to check out Diaso. It sold some paper clays and coloured ones. I wasn't sure of the quality as the clays looked rather dry. Our finds ended at another shop on the same level. The packaging looked more air tight and clay felt softer when pressed. Also the clay pack looked bigger and selling at S$2.50 per pack. Didn't notice the weight though. Also bought a box of acrylic paint for S$9.50 a box. As I write about this, out of curiosity, did some search and the difference in Clays can be found from http://familycrafts.about.com/cs/clay/a/playclay.htm

Materials we used :-
Paper Clay - 1 Packet (don't have weight but measured about 16cm (L) x cm (B) x 3-4cm (D)
Acrylic Paints
Glitter Glue
Cardboard or wooden planks - 2 pieces. My cardboards are taken from some packaging, not bought. Kaylene's Cardboard measured 28cm (L) x 22.5cm (B). Shiranne's Cardboard measured 25cm (L) x 23 cm (B)
Small bowl of water and brush - If clay gets to dry, can apply for sticking or smoothing out some little cracks
Hot Glue/Super Glue - Handy as we did have a couple pieces not stuck to the base securely after the clay dried.
Hair Dryer - if kids too eager to paint and can't wait for clay to dry out  

note -  have to spread the clay onto the board surface using the thumb or base of palm by pressing down clay. Can be tiring for kids. Kaylene managed 60% of the base on her own. Shiranne only managed maybe 10% of the base on her own. Not sure if it is due to nature of clay. This projec takes time so good to spread out the works. We spread out to 3 days.

I made the kids come up with their own theme.

Kaylene wanted her theme to be Rapunzel so that she can braid the hair using clay




Shirannes wanted her theme to be birthday cake

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lunch at The Coastal Settlement

We got to know 'The Coastal Settlement' from yesterday's Channel 8《我爱公开!》Share Something . The restaurant looked interesting so we decided to check it out. We were greeted with Outdoor dining layout first with some kiddy play things. Not sure whether they are from old time kids amusement world?! As we were early, around 11 plus, there weren't any crowd outdoors.

We moved indoors to catch the attention of the servers. As I only have an Iphone to take pics, I didn't manage to take any pics of the interior. More pics on their website though. I liked the furnishing as they have different sets of dining tables/chairs, some high, some low, some couches, some round, some squarish etc There are even vintages displayed. Unfortunately, indoor sittings were either occupied or reserved already. This is a popular place!


 My kids were happy there were things to play with. The elder mainly played with this log, to do her balancing act, and the swing. The younger preferred the cute stuff.


 Kaylene especially loved this swing.


We got a seat outside and didn't mind the alfresco as the weather was good. We were seated originally as this table with a shelter above us but we decided to move to another where there was fan oscillating.

 The restaurants had nostalgic biscuits prepared for diners! Self service on this.


 I liked this outdoor table/chair set but decided not to move since we were all seated comfortably.

 from left : Kid's Fanta which came with kid's meal (my kids didn't drink as it was gassy). Portabella Fries (crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside - yummy and my favourarite - eat while warm is the best) , Kid's Bolognese pasta (not bad as my picky kids did slurped them up)

 Five Cheese pizza. Good too and topped with some healthy greens!

Weekend Roast -  the truffle fries came with a little red bowl, cute! My kids loved the crispy fries. Not sure they didn't mind the truffle flavour or couldn't detect. Roasted chicken was great too! 

 A final walk round the casual dining

 3 wheeled truck!


I Spy a snail on a branch! Now we know snails are not restricted to ground only

 There are fitness spots near the restaurant. Kaylene and dad couldn't resist the climb.

 as well as swinging on the hanging vines and shouting like Tarzan! 





Friday, September 7, 2012

Busy mum's activities for kids

Sometimes thinking of things to keep my kids occupied can be tiring. Though they can play on their own, I will prefer to engage them in different activities. At times I'll google to see what other parents do, at times I'll think of activities on the spot. I've gained from reading other bloggers and hope I can share my own here. Will try to update from recent ones that I did from time to time. Below will be my first batch.

#1

Get them some wall stickers and find a corner for them to DIY. Though there is a complete pic to follow, the kids probably would still need supervision, provided you do not mind the outcome.  It's not expensive. I bought 1 set for $5 sometime back and I've did a post here and here. Depending on the design, the one below took about 15 min. Others may take longer and may be more challenging.



Our new thinking corner

#2
Find a friendly pet for the day. We made a friend who visited. The kids played with a cute orange with black spots ladybug for about 30 min or so. Got to let go if not for lunch. Kaylene let the ladybug walked on her fingers and even wanted to find food for it. This ladybug looked harmless hence it being poisonous didn't cross my mind. We have even gotten lizard and grasshopper as our house pet who drop by for short visits.

#3
We saw an advertisement with the person doing a jump shot. I was inspired that my kids probably would like to see themselves in a jump shot. I fished out my iphone, which i knew would take blurry jumpshots, but decided to still give it a try. My kids simply enjoyed jumping for that perfect jump shot. They laughed at the way they were in the pictures. This fun lasted as long as it could as i left them to take jump shots for each other. It was great listening to their laughter and giggles! After a few days later, they still reminisce their jump shot pics and will do them again with each other.




#4
Simple symmetrical paper craft. Fold paper half or quarters and cut shapes which are symmetrical or the same. Pasted them to form pictures such as below. Did the following with my kids to keep them away from the TV.



#5
I bought a set of Helicopter Balloon from SKP shop at telok ayer. They had so so much fun seeing it floating up to the ceiling and then falling down. I would give this toy four half stars out of five for entertainment, if not for the blade which made me worried a little as they can be a little dangerous on the eyes. I told my kids to keep the blades away from the face when letting go.  It cost $1.90 each set. The instructions from the packing didn't mention a balloon pump is required but we all found it difficult to inflate it by blowing. Only after umpteen times of inflating that manual blowing is possible due to more elasticity.


Kaylene fixing the helicopter blades on after inflating the balloon.


It went all the way up to our ceiling as balloon deflates, with the air from balloon propelling the blade. There might be some noise nuisance as the toy does make a sound when air is coming out of the balloon. Try them outdoor, should go pretty high. I've yet to try though.

This game can be quite educational as you can explain how the mechanism works like what makes the blade spins, why it makes sound as well as spelling on words like 'helicopter' and 'balloon'.
However, each balloon (there were 2 in a pack) didn't last more than 3 days as it burst due to numerous usage.


I've have been procrastinating to check whether my small balloons at home fit the toy. Will probably do so tomorrow, if there weren't other more interesting things to do..

Anybody has interesting ideas do drop me a note. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

kaylene rides with no training wheels after reviving the bicycle!

We almost wanted to throw away Kaylene's Aleoco brand 14inch bicycle as it's so slow and not moving fast enough for Kaylene to go without the training wheels. This almost killed kaylene's interest to cycle without her training wheels.

Got to know my neighbour's dad, a retiree who worked in a bicycle shop before, and got his help to revive the bicycle.

The helpful uncle managed to fix up Kaylene's bicycle and also another 2nd hand bicycle which my MIL picked up from somewhere. It was meant for Shiranne but it was difficult to ride too. Even the bicycle shop which we sent in attempt to fix it didn't want to fix it. (I think the bicycle shop deliberately want us to buy a new bicycle as he said no point fixing). I was so glad that the uncle gave the 2 bicycles their second lives. He changed the chain, replaced damaged internal tyre lining, repainted rusted parts. I don't even mind paying uncle much more than the cost of the parts used for the effort put in.  All are happy in the end! Not forgetting, we should reuse as much as possible for a sustainable society!

Kaylene couldn't get the hang on how to balance on the bike initially. She kept tilting and leaning to one side. Me and my hubby took turns to hold on to her the 1st couple days of her learning but gave up because she seemed to depend to much on our holding. As i knew how to cycle, I tried to let her realise that if she felt that the bike is leaning one side, she had to turn the front wheel gently to the same side, which can keep the bike from leaning. She tried and realised she can control her balance better. Slowly, she got the hang of it! :)

Kaylene at her 4th attempt the day video was taken below. Not bad ! Shiranne happily ride her re-new bike!







Thursday, August 2, 2012

Primary 1 (2013) Registration experience from a not so Kiasu mum


Thanks goodness for the recent change in Primary School registration exercise this year, I was saved from the agony of any possible balloting experience and got Kaylene registered in Compassvale Primary School. Though I've not gotten the official notice, I knew all Singapore Citizen under Phase 2C are unlikely to have to ballot as I've called the school right after Phase 2C closed for registration. Pheeww...

Information can be found at MOE website here on the changes.



I am not the type of parent to plan way ahead (since birth) on child's education. I had even missed registration dates for Kaylene's Preschool! So for Kaylene's Primary School education, the thought of doing any Volunteer work didn't occur to me as pressing.

Only left with 6 months prior to Kaylene's Primary one registration in July, then I tried looking up for  information on Kiasuparents Forum. Decided I should probably register Kaylene in a school with competitive environment since she's the competitive type. I toyed the idea of being a Parent Volunteer, joining a Clan association and even the likelihood of working in a primary school of choice! Well, I figured out the least time consuming and most possible option was joining a Clan association (Singapore Hokkien Huey Kuan - SHHK) since there's a school (Nan Chiau) which is within 1-2 km away from my residence and my hubby, a hokkien, can be a member. We'd decided to pay for the membership of S$500 with the mentality of buying a hope since the school is considered a good school (I gauged how good the school from Singapore Primary school ranked by academic excellence). We went for the Members' Gathering in the hope of increasing our visibility and chance of being recommended. My hubby even gave a talk at one of the SHHK's primary school.

As Phase 2B registration dates drew nearer, we crossed our fingers for a recommendation letter from SHHK but our little hope was dashed when I called up and was told we were not recommended for Phase 2B due to short duration as member. I requested for appeal but was told there were many other members who joined much much longer than us so there is really no hope in appealing. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the members' gathering sessions as a form of family activity.

So we had to proceed with our plan under Phase 2C to register at our choice of school ie.Compassvale Primary School. We had gone for the School's Open House (usually mid June for most schools) and all of us, including the 2 gals, had good impression of the school. There were 3 days opened for registration and we waited till 2nd day.  I called up in the morning to find out the percentage taken up from 1st day. The staff was very helpful and patiently reported 54 Singapore Citizens have registered and the rest, about 60, were Non Singaporeans. There were 110 vacancies hence I knew our chance is good and went ahead to register!

Though the number of applicants at the end of Phase 2C registration is 150 to 110 vacancies, only the non Singaporean will have to go into balloting. So thanks to the change in registration exercise this year!!!! Otherwise, it's either we will have to go through balloting or register Kaylene at school not our choice.

Below a snapshot from MOE website which will be updated at the end of each day's phase registration.
Seng Kang
School
Total VacancyPlaces Taken Up atVacancy for Phase 2CNo of Children Registered



Phase 1Phase 2A1Phase 2A2Phase 2B
Anchor Green Primary School


2101140498393
Compassvale Primary School


240840640110150
Fernvale Primary School


24083012154106
Nan Chiau Primary School


3001476305859180
North Spring Primary School


2106704013951
North Vista Primary School


21011701983114
Palm View Primary School


210000021074
Rivervale Primary School
2401150203471147
Seng Kang Primary School


2107208013069
Sengkang Green Primary School
2100000210109
Springdale Primary School


210000320752


Anyway, we are all happy :)
I've to count my blessings and that I've not tried too hard to be Kiasu!..



Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Birthday cake with Supplies from the Icing Room

Time flies and it was dear hubby's birthday. Decided to try the chocolate cake recipe that I used for Kaylene's birthday again here. As for the decoration, I've gotten tired of the ones that I have at home so decided to go The Icing Room at Compass Point and check out their cake decorating supplies. I knew they provide Do-It-Yourself cake decoration services. It looked fun and a boy actually proudly declared he is decorating his own cake when I was browsing their decorating supplies! So cute!

I bought the following for S$3.00. Happy with the piping cream (S$1.00 each) because I'm really not good at making those.  My girls were so excited with the supplies!




Pressie for daddy - a T-shirt with photo of the 2 girls.  I chanced upon a push cart stall called CY. Prints at Compass Point Basement 1 level that does such printings on T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads etc. Their T-shirts come in various colours/sizzes and all are Dry-Fit type. I hadn't got any photo ready then so I was told pay a deposit and to email them from home. Technology! How convenient! The shirt+prints cost me S$19.00. The service was satisfactory as they acknowledged my email when sent. I sent them on Tuesday before 10pm and I was able to collect on Thurs evening. Pretty fast!

Another technology to mention here that made the gift turned out well is an Application for IPhone called Frametastic. I did the picture in "lomo" effects so that the picture's colours do not stand out too brightly.

All the DIYs were fun for all. Inexpensive yet thoughtful. My kids were extra co-operative in posing for pictures and had fun when they knew it was for daddy's birthday gift!  



Friday, July 27, 2012

Growing Moonflowers

We were at the Singapore Garden festival 2012 two weeks ago and had an enjoyable time with all the flowers and greens. Kaylene interestingly kept persuading us to let her grow a pot of flower after we went into a shop that sells potted plants and seeds. I had no intention as I do not have have green fingers and I thought most seeds are not able to germinate in a tropical country like Singapore.

Anyway, I finally gave in when I did find a packet of moonflower seeds that requires 20-30deg celcius to germintate. It costs S$2.50 and there were 8 seeds in it.


We soaked 4 corn like seeds in the water for 24 hours first. They are the 'guinea pigs'! Then find a small pot, fill 3/4 of it with unfertilised soil, put in the seeds (spaced out) and then cover them with more soil, about 1/2 inch more. The seeds are suppose to germinate for 7 days. So we waited and in just 4th day, we could see some sprouting from the surface of the soil. By the next 2 days, seedlings had grown about 3-5 cm tall.

To make the growing process interesting for her, she was tasked to water the plant every afternoon, measure the plant everyday and keep a height chart. The moonflowers survived for 9 days and had sprouted taller and with few pieces of green leaves.


I've decided to google for some information about the growing of moonflower to ensure the survival of the plant and to understand the nature of the plant more. Kaylene was excited with what she heard and I'm glad all of us have learnt something. I have summarised briefly below:

1) Moonflowers are white in colour.
2) They are family of the morning glory. However moonflowers bloom in the night and close by midday. Exact opposite of the morning glory!
3) The leaves are heart-shaped
4) They have jasmine fragrance
5) They are vine plants. My Mother-In-law actually found some twigs and stick them into the soil to give some support to the sprouts yesterday.
6) when the flowers die, the seeds can be used to grow more flowers
7) It is a tropical plant, so needs lotsa sun.

Hear is a link from ehow on how to grow the moonflowers. The website also mentioned that Moonflowers seeds are poisonous when ingested. So do take note.

I'll probably transfer the moonflowers to a bigger pot these couple of days and leave them at the planting ledge outside for more sun. Will update when they are in full bloom!!.. if they survive! cross fingers XX

Update as at 23 Nov 2012
the moonflowers had bloomed many times but each bloom only lasted an evening and it will wilt. So short-lived!

Monday, July 16, 2012

DIY small shelving cabinet with Boxes

Our company had a clean desk policy recently and all the un-important stuff from my pedestal got to make way. As I didn't want to order any trays and preferred to go green, I made my own shelving cabinet from boxes and box covers available in the office. Tried to decorate with whatever I can find in my office too. Still rather plain but that's it for now due to busy schedule.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

My girls are fans of Fly Guy and Buzz series, by Tedd Arnold

My girls just got over the craze about a boy having a fly as a pet! We were at the library hoping to find the last book that we have yet to find from the series "Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl". We were lucky and when Kaylene found the book on the shelf, she hugged the book, jumped and squealed with excitement! 

Why we love this series? Can see from the pictures below that the illustration is adorable! Even Shiranne enjoyed this series. My girls know the word "Pest" from the first book of the series. It started how the boy got a fly as a pet. Subsequent books from the series are about their adventures. 

This children book series by Tedd Arnold came in Chapters of 3 in each book. Hardly see preschooler books in chapters so got the chance to explain why the need to break a story in parts with chapters in a book. When I started reading the book to them, I would also read the chapters aloud. There was once when I'd attempted to skip reading the chapters due to laziness, my small one quickly corrected me and said," Mummy, you must read Chapter 1'"! haha.

Also, isn't it genius to name a pet with such interesting name? Fly Guy? I have also told my girls to be creative when they name their pet fish, their soft toys when they play pretend.. 





When they found "Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl" at the Library


Have fun! By the way, I have checked out Tedd Arnold's webpage and found another series below. Looks cute so I'll show it to my girls and let kaylene do the search at our next visit at the library


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Genting Highlands+Strawberry Farm 3D2N

It's the June break now and we have planned a Hong Kong disneyland trip 3D2N this coming weekend. Will update again. Recalling our trip to Genting Highlands, in case any parents keen to bring their young kids up, i'm sharing here a trip that we have made during the March holiday break a few months ago..

We booked our coach with Five stars that came with accommodation at First Word Hotel. We were happy that we got seats and rooms for the dates we wanted but made the wrong assumption that they will allocate us the front seats since we have young kids. In  the end, we were allocated seats at the last 2 rows which the coach in charged said we can't change the seats. There were no other kids except for ours. My elder girl had motion sickness and she was queasy during the last hour of the coach ride. Noticing this, we stopped her in-coach entertainment and asked her look out of the window, gave her sweets and she was still alright. However, the ride to the top of the highlands got so windy and fast that our girl couldn't take and puked badly. I feed-backed to the coach guide and she mentioned that we should have requested for front seating ourselves when we booked the ride. On the return trip, my girl also ended up puking while we were winding down from the top.   Lesson learnt here.  Our young one had no motion sickness hence she was alright.

So for those who are sure that your young ones had no motion sickness, go ahead as the short stay at the highlands for the kids can be enjoyable. My kids enjoyed the indoor kiddy rides and the strawberry farm. However, Kaylene had declared no such coach rides for her anymore and we agree.

For the Strawberry farm, we got a cab down at an agreed price of RM40 to the strawberry farm and a chocolate shop and RM40 for the return. The taxi driver was very friendly hence we did not bother to check with other cab drivers. The trip down was about 15 min-20min depending how fast they go. We requested for a slower ride due to Kaylene's motion sickness.

We did not have to pay for the entrance fee, just pay for your picks. It's a hydrophonic farm. They opened up rows for visitors to pick. You can't pick where ever you wish. A basket and a pair of scissors were given and there was a min. weight for each basket. (Can't remember though). Strawberries are small, taste varies as some are sweet while some on the sour side. Experience for the kids was great though.






This is the mushroom farm that is linked to the strawberry farm. There is also some other little shops to look around though wasn't really interesting for us.



We enjoyed our fun, cool weather and being in the clouds experience. I disliked the cigarette smell that lingered in the hotel (seemed to be almost everywhere). We only got some fresh air when we checked out the outdoor fun and ( 10min only coz got bored looking at things we won't be doing with our small kids), and maybe another 10 min at the small outdoor viewing area which was pretty crowded. Don't think we will be planning a highland trip up for long time.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kaylene's 6th year old smurfy Chocolate birthday cake

 



 It's the time of the year when i would think how Kaylene's cake would look like. I guess I'm like most parent, as long as their kids can make choices, it's inevitable to check with the kids if there's any preference on how they want their birthday cake, in case there's any disappointment. I was expecting Kaylene to like a more girlish cake like princess, Hello Kitty or Dora. But, to my surprise, she wanted a Smurfs cake. I found out the reason.. Ok, so i googled for 'DIY smurf cake' for some inspiration and a link to images of all kinds of smurfs cakes appeared!

This year, I hoped to bake a really simple cake, yet is what Kaylene hoped for. Last year she wanted a princess cake but I'd manage to convince her for this. So after scrolling through so many amazing Smurfy cakes, I decided an icing sheet with smurf pic and maybe some little decorations to go with it should be simple enough, with some little DIY factor for kids to have fun. Notice the little coloured decos?..

I was lucky that I decided to try my luck at Singaporemotherhood forum to see if anyone is selling baking supplies. I bought the smurfs icing which is about 7 inch + 2 other 5 inches smurfs icing, which came in a pack for S$13/-. Athough I only needed the 7 inch icing, unfortunately the 3 pieces came in a sealed bag hence no seperate purchase was allowed.  There are many other designs including icing for cupcake. I'd also bought a Doraemon cookie cutter from them. Check the thread as follows for anyone keen. Sorry unable to provide link.

A Singapore Motherhood Portal for the Singapore Parents * Marketplace & Exchange Corner: Bulk Purchase * (2012/02/09) :-) Cute Baking Items, Edible Icing Image, Cute Cookies Cutters, etc


As for the cake, I've tried a new recipe and it turned out pretty good. Soft even after left in airtight container in the fridge for a week. There are some recipes which I've tried in the past that ends up tasting dry after staying in the fridge for too long. I first got inspired from Cosybake and  then got the link to the Martha Stewart Chocolate Cake Recipe.

I've copied the recipe as below. As i was lazy to make 2-layered cake,  I used 2/3 of the recipe and used a nine inch tin to bake a single layer cake. Comments in red is my own.

Ingredients (full recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting (I used Phoon Huat's Redman Cocoa Power since this recipe does not mentioned Natural or Dutch-processed cocoa power. Find out about the 2 types of ocoa power from Joy of Baking )
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (didn't buy buttermilk, hence used the substitution formula which uses milk and lemon. It can be found from Joy of Baking)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water


  • Yield Makes one 8-inch two-layer cake



  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter paper. Dust the pans with cocoa; tap out extra.
    2. Sift cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar into bowl. Beat in oil, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, andhot water one at a time, using a mixer set at low. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
    3. Pour batter into pans. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean; an adult should rotate the pans halfway through and remove cakes from the oven.
    4. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks, 20 minutes, before inverting to remove. Discard paper. Cool completely on racks, top side up. An adult should cut off top of one layer.
    5. With a butter knife, frost top of trimmed layer.
    6. Place the other layer on top. Frost top and sides of cake.

    Ganache:

    75ml Double Cream
    75g  Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
     Method:

    1. Boil double cream in a pot till with low flame till it starts to boil.

    2. Pour boiled cream to chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, and gentle stir till all chocolate is melted.

    3. Pour ganache over cooled cook and let it set. Chill the cake in the fridge before serving. (I did not chill as I read somewhere that Ganache will not be as shiny after chilling..prob due to condensaton. So, i left it to set on its own. Chill if short of time)