New Beauty Storage

Hello my lovelies, thanks so much for the birthday wishes. I feel a little embarrassed as my birthday was in August and it’s almost October but a foodie’s gotta share her special meals, y’know?

I’m bashful but not enough to hide this because it’s my new prized possession that was gifted to me by the husband for my birthday. It’s called a “cosme wagon”, or コスメワゴン, which is a chest of drawers specially designed for storing makeup.

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There’s a big mirror, shallow drawers for small items, a tissue box section, and a secret side compartment which could be good for storing skincare or anything that is short and squat. I haven’t decided which products I would put in there yet. I might start placing my older makeup items here which I don’t use often but would still like to keep.

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So guys, this is my makeup in the cosme wagon! And it’s only half my collection. I still have a set of Muji containers in my bathroom that hold cosmetics which I’m not using at the moment. The new storage can’t fit all my lipsticks, lip glosses, blushes, and face powders so I figured it would only hold what I would like to use for the moment — and then swap items out to spread the love around my collection.

I haven’t bought any cosmetics in the past few months and what floors me is that I still can’t put a real dent in my makeup stash. I slowed down on my skincare and bodycare purchases because I went on a buying blitz last winter — I have goodies to last me till end of this year and possibly beyond.

Maybe it could be a goal to fit everything into this one unit as it’s probably time to do another spring cleaning. I look back at some of my really old blog posts and I think to myself, “Damn, you mean this item is 4/5/6 years old?! Ew…” Uh-huh….

I like the idea of tucking away my makeup because I don’t really like other people (including my husband) looking at my stash. It feels like I only know how deep this rabbit hole goes ;) For sure it’s no big secret I love to blog about beauty but there are some things that a girl would like to keep under wraps…

How about you? Do you like having your makeup collection out in the open or squirreled away in drawers?

Mummy Monday: A Day In The Life With A Toddler

Hi my dears, I thought I would do an updated “Day In The Life…” since my last one was when Charles was six months old. I chuckled as I read through it again — how things have changed! Life revolved around breastfeeding and expressing breast milk. Gosh I don’t miss it much although I do feel nostalgic when I cradle Charles in my arms and think back on the hours we spent together bound in a symbiotic bond.

Everyday is quite different but we have a pretty solid weekly routine. I was wondering which day I would pick to talk about but I think I will just choose a typical Thursday as we are at home together, not at day care, or with the babysitter. It’s a snapshot of a WAHM type day when I am actually at home, if you will.

7-8am Charles wakes up and plays with his teddy bears in his cot while the husband and I try to sleep a bit more. We hear him but wait with eyes closed and ears open till he gets sick of being by himself and wails for us. One of us will get up, say good morning to him and is always greeted by a big grin as he bounces up and down while holding onto the rail of the cot. After changing his diaper, we’ll bring him to our futon to have a family hug but he’s not interested in that for long and makes a beeline for our TV remote.

We just lie in bed till he asks for milk (he has a very specific whine) and one of us will take him upstairs and feed him a bottle of formula. After he’s fed, I’ll make his breakfast which is always rice and oatmeal cereal with pureed fruit and/or yogurt. I’ll also give him a tiny quiche or half a muffin or Vegemite toast to chew on. He doesn’t really eat real solid food yet — he just bites, sucks, and spits it out. I’ll round up his breakfast with just a tiny bit of cow’s milk, then I’ll brush his teeth and give him his sippy cup which is filled with water.

830am I’ll have scoffed down my breakfast by now — either a bowl of granola and Weetbix or a big green smoothie and I’ll proceed to make coffee and oats for the husband. I dole out supplements for both of us

9am Breakfast duty is over and I’ll wash my face, brush my teeth, and get ready for the day. I put on makeup if I’m going out, but today I stay barefaced because it’s an “at-home” day.

930am I play with Charles while I check Sparkle emails, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Yes, I’m a social media fiend. Then I might make some of Charles’ pureed meals as I often run out of food for him. There’s only so much freezer space we have and containers to hold the food, so I tend to make batches of his food on Sunday or Monday and then again on Thursday.

10-1030am Charles would usually ask for another bottle feed and I watch him to see if he’s sleepy. By now he usually has had a few tantrums and meltdowns (it can be caused by us not paying attention to him or he just wants to be carried or he’s had a tumble) and if he rubs his eyes, I pop him straight into his sleeping bag and say, “It’s time to sleep, Charles.” And close his room door.

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He’s loves putting his arm on Bazzer, his favourite teddy bear, while he snoozes.

1030am-12noon This is when I get into action and shoot recipes for Sparkle’s 30-Day Challenge which would take me about an hour. It involves ironing tea towels, blending up drinks, or whipping up a salad. I also heat up Charles’ pureed food so it can cool down before he wakes up. I chop up fruit and veggies for babyled weaning — and spread out a large plastic sheet under his high chair.

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Here are some of the food and drinks I whizzed up for the Sparkle 30-Day Challenge

12-1230pm Charles cries for someone to get him so I head to the nursery and scoop him up from the cot. I strip him down to his nappy and bring him upstairs for lunch. Mealtimes are such messy affairs that it’s better to do without clothes as food stains are hard to remove, e.g. avocado, blueberries, and tomatoes. I usually let him go with babyled weaning for maximum half an hour or till he whines and sweeps everything off his high chair table. I feed him the pureed food and get him to drink a bit of cow’s milk.

1230-130pm I shower him off because there is food stuck to his chest, nappy, and limbs. After changing him into his outfit for the day, I attack the high chair with the Babyganics Toy & High Chair Cleaner and wipe up food smears on the floor.

130pm-2pm I quickly make a lunch of pita bread, salad, and pan-fried steak strips with yakiniku sauce for the husband and I as I’m starving by now. Charles just wanders around and puts his fingers into things while throwing stuff on the floor (like newly folded laundry). He likes hanging around the dining table while we eat and babbles with us.

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Charles’ toy box — this is only 30% of his stuff in the living room…

2pm-5pm There’s not a lot of structure here as I’m juggling shooting more things for Sparkle, surfing social media, shopping online for groceries, reading blogs or watching YouTube beauty videos, while keeping an eye on Charles. Now and again, I have to pick him up or play a bit with him because he doesn’t like being on his own too much. I might change his nappy, give him some water in his sippy cup, or watch a kiddy show on YouTube with him, like Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, or The Wiggles. I’ll also put on his favourite Music Together tunes if he gets too whiny and we’ll dance and bop to the music. He likes to wander around the balcony and we let him touch the plants but if he starts ripping up the flowers, we’ll forcibly remove him and bring him back inside. I like to read to him and try to go through at least two children’s books a day.

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Our favourites (or rather mine) are Hairy Maclary, Dr Seuss, and Aussie-themed animal books

5pm I heat up his pureed food and prep his plate of solids. I might snack on something myself and just chat with Charles as he goes, “Bah bah bah, nah nah nah, tat tat tat, mmmmmmm…!”

530pm I strip him again and put him in his high chair and supervise him as he prods, nibbles, and throws food around. I might have an eye on my phone as I check my various social media accounts (I feel like I’m on my phone alot as I type this out!!)

6pm I feed him his pureed food. Sometimes he not hungry so I shower him off again and dress him, and then clean up the high chair and floor AGAIN. It’s really the bane of my existence but I’d looked at some mummy blogs online and I think we need to soldier on with the babyled weaning so Charles can just practice eating three times a day. He’s certainly not a quick learner when it comes to food and I think patience and time will see him progress to eventually feeding himself.

630pm I try to feed him again — he usually takes some food in and always loves to have about two ounces (60ml) of cow’s milk.

645pm-720pm I throw something together for the husband and I. We used to eat after Charles’ bath and bedtime routine but it just took up too much of the evening — when Charles goes to sleep, it is precious me-time for both of us! So I decided to have dinner in the window period after Charles has eaten and before his bath. He really just plays during this time so I prefer to make a quick dinner now. I have a weekly meal plan that I stick to religiously because I don’t feel energetic nor very sane by this time to conjure up something different or exciting for our evening meal. I make tacos, cottage pie, green Thai curry, lamb curry, lamb chops, steak with veggie sides, big salads with grilled meat, Chinese stir-fries and mapo tofu — several examples of my fail-proof dishes

720pm-745pm The husband and I sit down to eat while trying to entertain our little monster as he tends to get clingy and tired by now.

745-8pm Bath time! It’s a really lovely slice of family togetherness as we play with Charles in the tub. He has these vehicle rubber toys that fill up with water and they turn into water guns. We’ll play peek-a-boo with the wash basin after we soap him, brush his teeth, and wipe his face.

8-815pm The husband lounges in the bath while I rub Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm on his limbs (it’s just an oily balm good for moisturizing skin, calming mosquito bites, or minor cuts and rashes; it smells so amazing and I think it helps to signal to Charles this is an aroma associated with bed time), change the bub into his PJs, and feed him his last bottle of the day. I zip him up in his sleeping sack, kiss him on the cheek, put him in his cot and say good night. He’ll usually play with his teddy bears for a while and even talks to himself until he drifts off to sleep. By the time I check the baby monitor at 830pm, he is fast asleep in child’s pose.

815-830pm I take a much-needed shower and may soak in the bath for a few minutes. I love this part of my day as I feel like I’m washing away the day’s troubles (and sweat) down the drain. I feel relaxed and de-stressed.

830-1030pm I get back onto my computer and work on Sparkle-related stuff. I’m editing the pictures I’d taken in the morning, planning the next day’s schedule, catching up on emails etc. The husband and I might have a work-related discussion. I might also use a bit of this time to make apple sauce or pureed meals for Charles. This is one of the most time-consuming aspects of being a stay-at-home mum — the sheer amount of cooking I have to do really surprises me.

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Freezer drawer full of Charles’ pureed meals

1030pm I go back upstairs to make Charles’ morning milk feed and take food out of the freezer for the next day. I might have a warm cup of tea and read blogs or watch YouTube while I wait for the husband to finish up on his work.

11pm We try to watch a TV show around this time, but more often than not, we crawl into bed at 1130pm or later and I end up falling asleep while watching TV.

1230am I wake up wondering what I missed – these days I’m not fussed about not knowing the plot as I just relish the action of vegging out before declaring it’s bed time. I brush my teeth and call it a night.

And then it starts all over again… You might wonder if I do much housework as a WAHM — not much to be honest, as we have a cleaner who comes in every Sunday who does the bulk of bedsheet changing, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, and cleaning hard-to-reach corners. The husband takes care of the laundry once or twice during the week, does the dishes, and takes out the garbage. I might take in the laundry on Monday or Tuesday from Sunday’s load, and wash an occasional lot of dirty dishes but that’s about it. The house usually gets trashed by Tuesday and the floor gets grimy and gross by Friday, to which I just ignore till Sunday.

I’m responsible for all the food shopping, meal prep, child care (the husband of course helps but I am in charge of day care, babysitting, doctor’s appointments, health, nutrition, research, and shopping), and running of the household. I buy almost everything online because I simply can’t spare the time nor have the iron will for dragging around a squirmy toddler through cramped aisles in shops.

Sometimes, I feel fed up and run down with the drudgery of doing domestic tasks repeatedly but I also find a lot of comfort in our routine — it works for us now. If there’s no discipline in our household, I think it would be chaotic and three very hungry people.

What’s life like with your baby or toddler? Or what do you think of our routine?

Food Friday: Birthday Dinner

Hi my lovelies, it’s been a while since I blogged – sorry… I’ve been seriously swamped with Sparkle. By the way, our “30 Days to Sparkle” Challenge is going on right now so do join in — there are lots of recipes, nutrition tips, and wellness advice for the next three weeks, so come say “hello” :)

I’m a little sheepish to post this but better late than never. The husband took me to an amazing modern Chinese restaurant for my birthday a month ago. Introducing Kurumi-chaya

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I was a bit non-plussed turning 36 this year — it’s not quite a milestone (except I’m officially in my late-30s), work was piling up, and I must admit that the daily discipline of child-rearing and juggling a business leaves me feeling like an empty tank by 10pm everyday.

But, I’m glad that we hired a babysitter and went out for four hours just the two of us.

I felt touched that the husband found a fancy Chinese restaurant to take me to — a Chinese girl loves her noodles and roast duck. ;)

The appetizer was impressive (second from left in top row) with 15 bite-sized pieces of seafood, meat, and veggies. The shark’s fin soup was so savoury that we slurped it all up, albeit with some guilt since it’s so politically incorrect to eat it these days. But in our defense, it was a course dinner that the husband had no idea what was going to be served and asked for omakase (which means chef’s choice).

The Peking duck was crispy and tender (first from left in top row) with a sweet dark sauce drizzled all over — it was such a great indulgence because duck is so fattening!

The prawn and lotus stir-fry was certainly unique and very Chinese-tasting as it must have had oyster sauce in there.

The only dish that I was a little disappointed with was the sesame noodles which reminded me of Japanese salad dressing instead of sesame oil based noodles. The husband chose the basil and tomato version which was frankly way better and tastier. Imagine Chinese egg noodles tossed in a pesto sauce — it actually works! It seriously looked like angel-hair pasta but the texture was springier than al-dente pasta.

And dessert was such an artistic presentation of a turtle and a bird with two types of pudding — almond and earl grey — and a spoonful of vanilla ice-cream, paired with warm rooibos tea.

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We had about an hour to kill before we had to head home so we popped into a tapas bar near to our home and I had a strawberry rose sangria which was really delicious. We chatted about everything but we couldn’t help refer to Charles now and again. We’re so besotted with our little boy that we really don’t mind talking about him all the time.

When it’s your birthday, what do you like to eat?

Mummy Monday: Charles’ 10-11 Month Old Update

Hi my loves, thank you for your well wishes at the announcement of my new product. Don’t forget to get your free trial of Sparkle Collagen before Sept 15 (more details here)!

My last update on Charles’ progress was when he was seven months’ old and how things have changed since…

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♥ He’s halfway between 10 and 11 months old and is looking like a toddler these days though the lamb shoes are still very “babyish” but I couldn’t find suitable autumn shoes that weren’t too high cut (his fatty ankles couldn’t squeeze through!) and had a nice design.

♥ He started walking around the nine-month mark but only really got his balance in the last two weeks. He still stumbles but he can walk for quite a distance. When we go to our neighbourhood park, he can do laps of the field very happily.

♥ One huge milestone was we sleep-trained him three weeks ago. While it was nerve-wracking, the crying and tantrums were well worth it because not only is he sleeping better, but so are we. We can just pop him into his cot and he will fall asleep on his own now. He might whine a little but he would play with his toys in the cot and eventually drift off. He sleeps from 8pm – 730/8am these days which is such a miracle. I find it amazing that I can wake up at a normal time again – I feel really awesome and productive!

♥ He is wavering between two naps to one nap a day. If he sleeps at 10am, he would only nap for 1.5 hours, which means he would have to sleep for 30-45 minutes in the late afternoon just to tide him over. Sometimes, he is so energetic he would only nap at 11-1130am during which he would sleep for two hours or more, so he wouldn’t need a nap later in the day.

♥ Pre-sleep-training days, he used to feed through the night — maybe once or twice — and thus his appetite in the day time was quite poor for solids. He was a very fussy eater and I had to throw out lots of leftovers but now he would finish his food most of the time. In turn, his weight increased after plateauing for a month (He gained 500g in just two weeks after we sleep trained him). He’s also now 80cm, whereas he was 76cm a few weeks ago.

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♥ He can now communicate by pointing. He loves buttons and switches and sometimes would ask the husband to carry him up to a light switch to press it. Well, he kind of goes, “Unnnnnnnnn!” and points meaningfully. He also loves to be cuddled and will run to us with wide open arms and a huge smile.

♥ He’s really into music and loves grooving to his Music Together CD (Hello Song is his fave) and bops to the Peppa Pig opening jingle and the Saccone-Joly’s (an Irish YouTube family) guitar riff.

♥ He’s not really into TV (that photo above was taken when he sat down to watch an episode of Peppa Pig but he slid off the couch after five minutes) or iPad games yet and they would only hold his attention for a max of five minutes. I suppose it’s a good thing.

♥ He’s quite the terror in the sense that he will tear books off their shelves and rip out all the tissues from a box in just mere seconds. We have baby-proofed the house as best we can but he is getting more dextrous and can open the sliding door and step out onto the balcony. We are worried that he would start climbing over the balcony fence which is a wooden grid design perfect for short arms and legs.

Charles is at a stage where he’s keeping us on our toes but the fun is only really beginning as he gets more mobile and I cannot wait for him to start talking. I am blown away that he is going to be almost a year old and we are already thinking of what to do for his first birthday

August Favourites

Hi my fellow beauty junkies, don’t forget to get your free trial of Sparkle Collagen here. If you’d like to read about it in more detail, I’ve written up a post on it here.

I feel so organized for getting out a favourites post before the end of the month today :) I don’t have many products for August but I have a definite few faves that I keep going back to…

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L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Cream Mango Flower seems to have been a limited edition body moisturizer under the shea range. It’s such a pity because it is such a lovely body cream — it really sinks into the skin with only a slight residue and the scent is of an unripe mango. If you love mango fragrances but dislike the almost rotten sweetness that plagues such products, this one is for you. BUT, it’s not sold anymore! I hope they bring this back as I’m savouring the last dregs of this gorgeous moisturizer.

Philosophy Miracle Worker is an anti-aging moisturizer that has reservatrol that promotes firmness and radiance. I actually like the tingly sensation that this cream gives — it’s as if there’re some active ingredients literally working on my skin. For me to find an anti-aging cream that suits my sensitive skin is a rare thing indeed. It doesn’t say it is fragrance-free but it has an almost undetectable scent which is something I look for in a night facial moisturizer. I wouldn’t say my skin has turned around drastically but it hasn’t seen a dull day since I started using this so it’s got a thumbs up from me. It was also very affordable especially at a duty-free shop at Changi Airport in Singapore.

Now Solutions 100% Pure Castor Oil is meant to be a skin softener and has worked wonders on my dry wrinkly feet. I do a lot of walking in Tokyo so my feet tend to get bashed up and dry around the edges of my heels. My toes also get flaky skin so I mix a bit of this with whatever body lotion I’m using after my shower and slather it all over my feet. I actually bought this when I was pregnant in case I had to drink castor oil and orange juice to naturally induce myself but a friend told me not to do it because not only would I suffer from the runs, my baby would too. But you know, he did end up pooping in my belly (sorry TMI) in the end so… Let’s just say you may have the best laid plans but you never know what’s going to happen when it comes to giving birth. Anyway, I thought I was just using up a huge bottle of oil that was lying around but it turned out to be a great solution for my poor feet.

Out of Africa Shea Butter Lemon Verbana Hand Lotion was a punt I took when I saw it on iHerb.com because I was looking for a natural hand cream with a pump applicator for my guest bathroom. I actually use this bathroom often as it is right outside our living room — and with a baby, I’m constantly washing my hands so I need frequent hydration as well. It has a lovely lemony scent that is a dead-ringer for the L’Occitane Verbana range and it’s light-weight which I prefer for a daytime hand lotion.

Addiction Cheek Stick Revenge gives a rosy flush to my face and I can’t get enough of how easy it is to use. I just slick on two strips on both cheeks and blend them out in two seconds. Sometimes I just put on liquid foundation and then slap this on and I’m ready to go. I like the fact that I don’t have to dip my fingers into the product or use a brush with this.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in Beige 40 suits me to a T after getting a tan at Fuji Rock. You guys know my love for this product and I have Beige 30 for paler days too. I’ve been throwing out old foundations and BB creams but this one has remained in my collection after several years.

What are your favourites this August?

Sparkle Collagen: A New Beginning

Hello my dear readers, I can finally unveil the secret project I’ve been working on! It has been quite the labour of love and it combines two great passions of mine — beauty and supplements.

Meet my new baby…

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Sparkle Collagen Peptide Supplement on sale now on our website and Amazon.

What does Sparkle Collagen do? It’s a powder dietary supplement that helps to reduce wrinkles and improve elasticity in your skin.

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How do you take Sparkle Collagen? You can mix a scoop in plain water, tea, or smoothies and it’s a beverage that you drink every day to help boost collagen levels in your skin.

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I’m so excited to announce that we are kicking off our Sparkle 30-Day Challenge in September and we would like to invite US residents to participate (apologies to non-US residents but we are only selling our product in the US at the moment).

In order to take part, we’ll send you a FREE tub of Sparkle Collagen, if you:

*The free trial is now over and registration was closed on Sept 15 2014.

♥ Like our Facebook page.

♥ Subscribe to our newsletter and fill in your address details here.

♥ You are also welcome to follow us on Twitter (not necessary for the free tub).

What is the Sparkle 30-Day Challenge? To create habits that help you add a sparkle to your life every single day.

And what does it mean to “sparkle everyday”? To add a daily dose of happiness to your life, to have a pep in your step, to have something to smile about at least once a day. We want you to feel better, look better, and be a better person.

The challenge celebrates the little things in life that matter and helps you create a positive routine for yourself. Everyday, we will give you inspiration on how to motivate yourself in all aspects of your life — nutrition, exercise, rest, relationships, and stress.

Once you get your Sparkle Collagen, we hope you’ll enjoy the 30-Day challenge on Facebook, be sure to let us know how it’s going for you during this month.

Mummy Monday: Babyled Weaning Adventures

Hi my dearies, I thought I would share with you my trials and tribulations in trying babyled weaning with the bub. I’ve heard people waxing lyrical about this method of eating for babies (e.g. lamb chops, grapefruit, toast before hitting the one year mark) which did yield some results for us but has been a very long process. That’s probably due to the fact that I chose a middle-of-the-road approach because a mix of purees and babyled weaning made me feel more comfortable about satisfying his daily iron requirements.

I started babyled weaning with Charles when he was about six months old. We’d just kicked him off on fruit and vegetable purees when he hit the five month mark but I also wanted him to learn how to pick food up with his hands, to put it in his mouth, and chew. At that point, he seemed to have a hearty appetite for whatever pureed food I gave him but he didn’t know what to do with actual solid food.

I frequently encountered folks online saying that it takes an average of two weeks for any real eating to happen. Now guys, it took Charles weeks to even put a piece of frozen cucumber in his mouth after days and days of squeezing and throwing food around. I was wavering in my patience for babyled weaning but this gave me a renewed burst of motivation for it.

They said it would be messy but I still marveled at the explosion of food all over his high chair – it is really not fun cleaning up so I decided once a day was my limit and his as well. Charles would be a bit tired and cranky by the end of the day so there was no point in sitting him down with a plate of food.

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I just gave him steamed veggies and fruit — and tried to make his plate look as colourful as possible. I also included the foods he didn’t like as much as possible, in the hopes that he would some day eat them.

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When he turned seven months, he suddenly became a fussy eater, or rather he learned how to say no by shaking his head and clamping his mouth shut. He refused most vegetables and fruit, except mango, apple, prunes, chicken, potato, and corn. I would try to puree a combination of these things with each other and sneak in other veggies.

Meal times became a real battle — first with throwing food and then refusing pureed food.

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He even learned to detach the plastic cover from the high chair and threw it down on the floor with gusto, as if to say, “Mum, I’ve had enough of this s&%$!”

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There were times I had to really step back and laugh at all this because it can get so frustrating. Imagine this — you prepare food for your child three times a day and he just refuses to eat any of it and has so much disdain for the food you painstakingly made.

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Now he is a little over 10 months old and it has been four months of learning what tricks I need up my sleeve. For one, I always have apple sauce or something similarly sweet as a way to get him to eat more of his main meal. If I give him a spoonful of apple sauce, he would likely open his mouth for shepard’s pie. I alternate between the two till he has had enough.

Secondly, I always have two main meals ready in case he refuses one and might accept the other. He has a couple of favourites, like beef stew and lamb pumpkin casserole but he can be unpredictable. One day he might lap up all the salmon I offer him but on other days he would flat out refuse fish or has chicken shepard’s pie every single day for a week. As a side note, I have tried making meals with more Chinese flavours and he really hates them – so sad…

In terms of chewing solids, he doesn’t like big chunky bits and tends to spit them out. He enjoys biting on pear, apple, peach, cucumber, peas, baby corn, tomatoes, avocado, and toast which is a huge progress from a few months ago, but he still spits them out as he hasn’t quite got the hang of chewing and swallowing food.

Another development in the last couple of weeks is that he has a desire to eat the pureed stuff and would polish off more than before and sometimes he would finish all his food. If he is very hungry, he would quickly tire of babyled weaning and whine for food as he is still not able to eat enough on his own to satisfy his hunger.

I’m on the fence about babyled weaning. I do see that your child needs to practice how to pick food up and put it in his mouth, while letting him follow his instincts about what he likes or what his body needs so I sometimes do wonder if feeding him pureed food impedes his progress as he relies on that to fill him up, as opposed to just feeding himself. The messiness is really not for me, too, as the thought of cleaning up three times a day is so off-putting and time-consuming.

Do you have any tips for feeding a fussy eater? What are your thoughts on babyled weaning – any advice on doing it better?

Food Friday: End Of The Week…At Last

Hi my loves, I made a mental note to do a “What I Ate” food diary post and took photos of my meals last Friday. I tend to feel a little naughty on Fridays (and Saturdays….and Sundays – lol!) as it is end of the week and I feel like I need to reward myself for being good from Monday to Thursday.

For my husband and I, Friday nights are usually spent at home so we like to treat ourselves food-wise. I also tend to eat more healthily for breakfast and lunch so the weekend indulgence is not quite three full days but 2.33? ;)

So lately I’d been craving cooked oats although the weather is still hot. Sometimes the mornings are at a cool 25 or 26 degrees Celsius so I actually sometimes like a warm breakfast, as opposed to cold cereal which is my go-to brekkie.

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I added a teaspoonful of almond butter to water and organic rolled oats which I topped with chopped dried figs, blueberries, and half a banana. It’s so filling and it takes me all the way to noon from 7-ish. Oh and I forgot to take a photo of my lemon water which I chase with a full glass of water which really wakes me up and quenches my thirst.

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For lunch, I wanted to use up the tortilla wraps that had been sitting in the fridge for over a week. I made mine with tuna, celery, onion, hummus, lettuce, and cucumber. I also blended up a pineapple-based green smoothie with some Sparkle Collagen (my new product!) to get in my green nutrition on this busy day.

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We hire a babysitter to watch Charles while I work for four hours every Friday (we also put him in day care once a week so I have two afternoons a week to focus on work). To get out of the house, I head to my local Starbucks with my lap top and order an iced decaf coffee with soy milk. I also get a bottle of mineral water to keep myself hydrated while I work.

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I tend to make really simple food on Fridays as my desire to cook wanes a little so I whipped up Nigella Lawson’s Tagliata For Two, steamed asparagus, pumpkin mash, shimeji mushrooms sauteed with butter, garlic, and ponzu, and a naughty bowl of rigatoni pasta with pesto sauce I got from Eataly.

It looks like a lot of food but each of these things only take 10-15 minutes to make and I have three burners on my stove-top so it’s possible to get everything on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Not pictured is our late night dessert with TV — ice-cream! We “celebrated” the completion of Charles’ sleep training and getting back uninterrupted sleep by having a homemade banana split each.

What do you like eating on Friday nights?

The Summer Lovin’ Tag

Hi my dearies, summer is probably almost over for some folks, but in Japan, the scorching weather goes on till the end of October so I feel like I’m still knee-deep in summer. Can you tell I love doing tag posts? So when I read Liz’s Summer Lovin’ Tag, I had to do it.

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1. Summer lipstick you’re loving? I’m actually using lip glosses and lip balms more as I prefer a lighter look in hot weather. My current fave is MAC Tinted Lip Glass in Pink Lemonade which looks like a bright coral but looks lighter on the lips.

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2. Summer nail polish you’re loving? OPI Nicole’s Find Your Passion is a bright pinky coral that I repeatedly reach for. It kind of reminds me of the lip gloss mentioned above.

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3. Summer blush you’re loving? Chanel cream blush in Chamade and Addiction’s Cheek Stick in African Sunset are my go-to cream blushes as I’m avoiding powder during these humid times. With my oily damp skin, powder just looks patchy and settles in my pores even if I use a primer.

4. Favourite summer Frappuccino from Starbucks? It has to be the matcha frappacino with soy milk from Starbucks which is part of their permanent menu and not seasonal. It’s a rare treat that I allow myself to have and just talking about it makes me want to get one now!

5. Favourite fake tan? I don’t fake tan as I turn dark in just a matter of minutes even with the highest of SPFs.

6. Favourite summer song? Orbital’s Beached. Do you remember the movie, The Beach, with Leonardo Di Caprio where they “discover” Koh Phi Phi in Thailand? It sounds a bit old school electronica now but I still enjoy its lush beats.

7. Favourite summer accessory? I sound so boring but I just wear stud earrings as the sweatiness prevents comfortable wearing of necklaces. The topaz studs I wear are actually from my wedding day which I had to wear five pieces of jewellery (as per Chinese tradition) given to me by my groom and my something blue (according to Western tradition).

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8. Favourite summer fragrance/perfume? Gosh, it’s so hard to choose as I have a few. Can I list three? Jo Malone’s Cucumber & Earl Grey (an elegant floral that won’t oxidize in that stinky sock way in hot and sticky weather), Caudalie’s Des Vignes (a slightly sweet grape scent that has a soft musky dry down), and Bobbi Brown’s Beach (the ultimate summer fragrance as it smells of Coppertone sunscreen and salt).

9. Summer book you’re loving? The Pleasures & Sorrows Of Work by Alain de Botton which is something I mentioned in this other post. He is one of my favourite authors and I like re-thinking and re-looking at everyday processes or concepts in a deconstructed way – the whys and the hows fascinate me. The first book I read by him was actually The Romantic Movement: Sex, Shopping, And The Novel which is a quirky perspective on the progress of a love affair between two adults which is really about the psychology of men and women when they fall in love. I highly recommend it if you like reading about relationship dynamics.

Though I must add a cheeky note here that this very same book was the downfall of a first date I had with someone I was very keen on years ago (way before the husband came into the picture). He asked me, “What is your favourite book?” which is a bloody hard question (like favourite perfume or lipstick or song or movie….) and I just fished this one out and he couldn’t help laughing at the title of the book. “SEX AND SHOPPING – hohohohohohoho!!! Your favourite book is about SEX AND SHOPPING???!!!” he kept saying in disbelief. He never asked me out again. Maybe I should’ve said Moby Dick or Hamlet but he would’ve probably thought those were too pretentious. Oh well, who knows? Maybe it wasn’t that at all and the smell of my perfume had turned him off.

10. What are you most excited to do this summer? I think I have already done the most exciting thing this summer — going to Fuji Rock with my two loves. :)

What are you loving this summer, my dears?

Food Friday: Holiday Eats In West Japan

Hi my loves, it has been a long and emotional week here at BB HQ as we have been sleep training the bub. We are definitely getting results but nap times are still a little bit up in the air. It takes longer to correct nap times as the drive to sleep is less than at night, plus lil C is two months shy of being a year old so he is wavering between one to two naps. I will report more on that on Mummy Monday ;)

Anyway, enough baby talk for now. We had an old friend from Sydney come stay with us for two weeks and we went travelling in West Japan. It was a pretty full-on holiday as we truly packed it in — Kyoto, Nara, and Amanohashidate in four short days.

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It’s been a while since I ate an ekiben (a train bento) and this was very tasty with mostly fish, veggies, and rice. It was a welcome change after noshing on convenient store food as we were jumping from train to train throughout our holiday. If you look carefully, the tamogoyaki (Japanese omelet) has a 50th Anniversary print on it — so yeah, it was a bento to mark the 50th anniversary of the shinkansen (bullet train).

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And no Japanese holiday is complete without a green tea ice cream parfait. The swirl of matcha ice cream, red bean paste, mochi balls and warabi mochi dusted with kinako powder was just divine. I didn’t eat the corn flakes at the bottom though — always thought that was a weird touch.

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Just a block away from Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion, this handmade soba joint was a lovely nook to rest our feet and recharge. The marinated and salted grilled mackerel was an acquired taste as it was quite fishy but I do like strong tasting fish so it was delicious to me. And the broth was just so savoury and tasty, I couldn’t stop drinking it although it was so steamy outside.

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One thing may not be so obvious to first-time travellers to Japan is that French food (and Italian) is really good as I find that Japanese are real Francophiles at heart. The bouillabaisse soup was simply divine with fresh seafood cooked to perfection and yummy soft bread to soak it all up.

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We stayed in Kawashima Ryokan in Kyoto which was not lavish by any means but comfortable and Japanesey enough to have a great ambience. Dinner was lovely with fresh tuna sashimi (melt-in-your-mouth variety – ’twas simply heavenly), grilled veggies, fish, tofu and miso soup.

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Our kaiseiki spread at our Amanohashidate ryokan in Miyazu Bay was really lovely. The theme of the night was seafood as we were by the water so everything was super fresh. The chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) had bits of prawn and fish in it, too, which is always a down-to-earth Japanese favourite of mine.

The fish ball in sticky clear sauce is something I always see in kaiseiki dinners and this one was a medley of different fish which was lip-smackingly delicious. I gobbled it up and slurped up all the broth. Dessert was canned fruit which was a downer for me as I think fresh fruit trumps that anytime and I don’t think it’s difficult to cut up some fruit nicely.

So for a Kansai holiday, we had quite a few lovely accidental eats — we pretty much just booked our accommodation and chose things to do as each day came.

Do you like planning which restaurants to go to while on holiday or do you just spontaneously try random places?