Sunday, January 31, 2010

Learning to Swaddle...on Pargo

We spent another weekend cooped up at home due to snow.

Besides napping, surfing, and eating, I worked my way through a book I borrowed from the library, The Happiest Baby On the Block. On Amazon, the book has over 700 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars! To me, that makes it a must-read.

The book talks about the 5 S's in calming babies. The author, Dr. Karp, believes that babies, especially in their first few months of life, can experience "fourth trimester" issues. Babies can have a difficult time getting used to the huge amount of stimuli present in life outside of Mom's body. Their reaction to all of this is to cry and cry.

To sooth crying babies, follow the 5's: swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging, and sucking.

In the book, it shows you how to do a perfectly tight swaddle. So to put it to practice, I grabbed one of my swaddling blankets and Pargo.

Ah, he wasn't happy with me. And hubs called it animal abuse.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Making Baby A, Week 33: Packing for the Hospital

I had my 33-week prenatal appointment the other day and it went really well. Baby A's head is already where it is supposed to be and her heartbeat is at a healthy 150 bpm. Time is zooming by now - 7 more weeks go to!

But as the doctor reminded me, it could be sooner, too.

EEEEK!

Also on that day, we received a bunch of goodies in the mail (thanks to hub's sister and mom!). Among all things, I am most excited about the diaper bag! It's cute and roomy and will be one of the bags we take to the hospital.

And now since we are on the topic of bags and since I have a tendency to do things way in advance, I've already started packing! :)

Here is my master list. I know it's a bit long, but better be safe than sorry!

Toiletries
toothbrush/toothpaste
face wash/lotion/soap/shampoo/conditioner
lip balm
hair ties/clips
hair brush
cosmetics

Clothing
pajamas x2
sweater (hospital rooms can be chilly)
nursing bras and pads
loose going home outfit
clothes for labor coach (aka hubby)
socks
slippers
flip flops
underwear
sanitary pads

Electronics
camera
cell phone and charger
laptop

Miscellaneous
notebook/pen
snacks/hard candies
driver's license
insurance card
hospital paperwork
pediatrician number

Baby
infant car seat
going home outfit
receiving blanket

Too much? Am I missing anything?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

February Freebies: Food

Since we will be writing another big, fat check to the government come April 15, it's nice to not have to pay for some things. :)

I stumbled upon the following deals recently that I thought I would share:

~Einstein Bagels (expires on 2/7) - Free bagel & shmear
~And mark your calendars - Auntie Anne is giving out free pretzels on 2/20 from 10 to 3.

February is a cold and dreary month, but that probably won't stop me from going out and get in on these tasty promotions.

Happy Thursday!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Project In A Flash: Treat Bag Toppers

Hubs may be turning 32, but not many things will make him happier than chocolates. For one of his birthday treats, I got him a bag of York Peppermint Patties. Of course, I couldn't just give him the bag and call it a day. That would be too boring. So I re-packaged them in little cello bags and topped them with these labels that I whipped up in no time.

The skinny:

1. Open a blank document in PowerPoint (or Word, or Photoshop), draw a box that is 4.67" in width + 2.54" in height (the width should be the same width as the bag, but the height is up to you), and design the label as you wish! I find the simpler the better.

2. Print, cut, score, and fold in half. I used cardstock, but I think vellum would look equally nice.

3. Place the label on the bag - the folded top of the cello bag should be sandwiched between the font and back of the label - and staple.

Easy, easy, easy.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making Baby A, Week 32: The (Inconvenient) Bump

I’m not a very big person. I don’t take up much room.

So moments like squeezing between a wall and a chair, or walking between parked cars, or through a semi-closed doorway – doesn't usually require second thoughts.

Until now.

With an expanding belly, I have to be mindful of the increasing area of my “personal space”.

I find myself bumping into walls, tables, and chairs.

So I make a conscious effort to park the car as far as I can (without going over the yellow line) to give myself plenty of room to get out. I remember not to push my chair too far in to give my belly some breathing room. I know not to try to squeeze between closing elevator doors for the sake of safety.

There are also other inconveniences. I have trouble putting on pants while standing up. I need to sit down while putting on shoes and pull myself back up with the help of stair railing. Instead of getting up like a normal person, I roll out of bed.

I feel so BIG and HEAVY and it's just going to get BIGGER and HEAVIER.

I am not tired of being pregnant - not yet anyway - but I cannot wait to move freely again.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, January 22, 2010

DIY: Hub's Birthday Card

Inspired by Blatantly copied from How About Orange's latest ingenious creation, I made this card for hub's upcoming birthday. Click here to get a rough guide on how to make the card.

And here are my notes:

I didn't have many colored papers (in fact, these papers are leftovers from a card hubs made for ME almost SEVEN years ago), so instead of colorful flag banners, I used two very basic colors.

I also didn't have any thick strings so I used sewing threads! It was hard to work with, but I think I successfully did it.

To avoid being a total copycat, I put a little "Handmade with Love" message in the back. I ran the cardstock through the printer twice. It took several tries to get the text placement just right. I used a plain sheet of paper as my tester. Also, to properly center the text on each panel, I used the "columns" feature in Word.

This was a fun project. I started it while cooking and finished it after dinner. The $3 saved will go toward hub's birthday cake!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sweet and Sour (and Spicy) Chicken

I think I am starting to find satisfaction in cooking new recipes again!

Did you notice that I added some of my favorite food blogs on my right sidebar? They are great. I will never get a chance to cook all the recipes, but they are fun to read and the food photography is awesome. I highly recommend them!

Anyway, I decided I wanted to cook Sweet and Sour Chicken today, based on this recipe from Rasa Malaysia. I didn't have some of the essential ingredients called for in her recipe so I substituted them with what I have in the fridge. Because of that, in addition to sweet and sour, my version was also a bit spicy. "Triple S" Chicken, as I like to call it. :) Also, instead of using her batter ingredients, I used my tried-and-true batter mixture from General Tso's Chicken and Honey Sesame Chicken.

Either way, I thought the dish turned out great! The sauce was so good over white rice. I can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow!

Sweet and Sour (and Spicy) Chicken:

- 1 large chicken breast, slightly pounded and cut into cubes
- 1 Tbsp shaoxing wine (optional)
- 1/2 small green bell pepper (seeds removed and cut into squares)
- 1/4 onion (cut into squares)
- 1 stalk scallion
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- oil for frying

Batter:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1
Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 heaping tsp baking powder
- A beaten egg
- 2
Tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup water
- pinch of salt

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- 4
Tbsps ketchup
- 3
Tbsps chili sauce (I used garlic chili sauce)
- 1 tsp plum sauce (I substituted it with hoisin sauce and sweetened chili sauce)
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp Chinese rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
- 4
Tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp corn starch
- 3 dashes white pepper powder
- 2
Tbsp oil

1. Marinate chicken with 1 tablespoon of wine for 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. Mix the batter in a bowl and add the chicken cubes into the batter.
3. Mix the sweet and sour sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Heat up oil in a pot and deep fry the chicken cubes. Transfer the chicken out on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
5. Heat up oil in pan. Add garlic and saute the garlic until light brown and then follow by the green bell pepper and onion. Stir-fry until you smell the aroma. Add the sweet and sour sauce into the pan and bring it to boil. Toss in the chicken, add the chopped scallions, do a few quick stirs, dish out and serve immediately with steamed white rice.

{recipe adapted from here}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Dinner: Yaki Udon w/ Beef

Hubs loves thick, fat noodles so last time when we went grocery shopping, he picked up a bag (with several packs individually wrapped inside) of frozen udon noodles.

Since then, whenever I make a big pot of soup, on the second day, he would throw in a pack of udon and eat it with soup.

The other day, I was flipping through a magazine when I came across some beef stir-fry noodles recipe and it gave me an idea on a different way to cook those udon noodles. I didn't use that particular recipe in the magazine; instead, I googled "udon noodles stir-fry with beef" and picked two recipes I liked the best.

The results? I didn't have any doubts that hubs would slurp it all up. I, on the other hand, thought it was average. However, my appetite just isn't the way it used to be now that I am pregnant, so my opinion probably can't be trusted. :)

Regardless, this is a super quick and easy recipe. I hope you give it a try!

Yaki Udon w/ Beef:
(serves 2 ppl, 1 is almost 32 weeks pregnant)

- 2 7-oz packets of udon noodles (either fresh or frozen, I used frozen so I boiled it first)
- 1/4lb beef, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks of green onions, sliced on the diagonal
- 2 bunches of bok choy, cut into sections
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt to taste
- toasted sesame seeds

Sauce:
- 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- 2 tsp sugar

Beef Marinade:
- 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp corn starch

1. Marinate beef in light soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and corn starch for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cook udon noodles according to instructions. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat oil in pan until hot. Add beef. Stir fry until beef is thoroughly cooked. Set aside.
4. Heat oil in pan, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add green onions, bok choy, and onion. When the vegetables have softened, add udon noodles, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, sake, and sugar. Mix well. Let udon noodles brown, stirring every once in a while to get the noodles evenly cooked.
5. Add beef to noodle mixture and toss to make sure everything is evenly distrusted.
6. Dish out and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds to garnish.

{recipe adapted from here and here}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

stay away from strollers.com, use diapers.com!

Two weeks ago, with my mom's credit card information in hand and the exact make/model in mind, I finally placed an order online for Graco Stylus Travel System (basically a car seat and stroller combo).

I did the usual comparison shopping and found strollers.com the cheapest. I read a mix of reviews on their services and products, but when the final price tag was $20 lower than all other places, I took a leap of faith and hoped for the best.

The travel system was scheduled to be shipped between 1/4 to 1/7, with delivery date of 1/14. On 1/7, I received an email saying that the warehouse was experiencing delays and the shipping date was pushed back to 1/11. A bit annoyed, but I dealt with it. 1/11 came and gone and I didn't receive an email with the tracking information as they promised so I called customer service the morning of 1/12. Long story short, after telling me that the order was expected to ship "soon", she later emailed me indicated the order was cancelled because the item had been discontinued.

What a pain in the butt. I had a minor breakdown.

And I permanently added strollers.com to my Black List.

When I got home from work yesterday afternoon, I immediately went to diapers.com (the runner-up when I did comparison shopping) and was delighted to see that the travel system has been marked down and with a 10% off coupon code, it is exactly what strollers.com was selling for. Plus, I saved another 10% on the purchase thanks to Bing.

In the end, it all worked out and guess what, I will get the travel system TODAY (diapers.com has next day delivery if order is placed before 6pm)!

Now I just hope Baby A likes her ride!

Quickie Update: (1/14) The travel system was delivered yesterday and by the time I got home, hubs already had it all set up for me to play. My impression so far - very easy to use, great quality, and the pattern is nice. The only thing I need to get use to is how heavy the stroller is! I've heard that they all are, though.

* I used carseatdata.org and made sure car seat would fit in my car.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On My Desk: 1.12.2010

For someone who finds enjoyment in organizing and getting things done *way* ahead of time, it's driving me up the wall knowing that I won't be able to X each and every one of those boxes until much later. Ugh.

Question of the Day: Are you like me or more of a why-do-today-what-you-can-put-off-until-tomorrow type?

Truthfully, I can be the latter, too, depending on the situation. Work stuff? There is always tomorrow! Time off? I will get it done, stat!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Free Art Prints

We don't have enough space (actually, we do have a spare bedroom, but that is our perpetual storage area) in our little condo for a nursery, so Baby A is going to be sharing a room with her old Mama and Papa (along with Pargo and Pesto) for a while.

(Nurseries are more for the parents' anyway, right?)

However, if we were to have a nursery, I would print + frame + decorate with these free art printable found on Feed Your Soul: The Free Art Project.

I especially like these two below.

{link 1 and 2}

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quick Meal: Thai Peanut Pork Burger

Usually when hubs eats out for lunch, he's not hungry for dinner. And when he's not hungry for dinner, I don't like to cook a full meal just for one person. This Thai Peanut Pork Burger is the perfect solution.

The recipe, found via Cara’s Cravings, is insanely easy and quick to put together and only requires little cooking time on the stove top. I really like the unique combined flavor of ginger, peanut butter, and chili garlic sauce. Definitely more satisfying and interesting than a normal burger out there.

In the end, even though hubs claimed that he wasn't hungry, once he had a bite, his appetite came back fast and inhaled an entire burger in minutes. He said it was much better than the said normal burger he had for lunch. Success!

Thai Peanut Pork Burger:
adapted from Cara's Cravings

- 8oz ground pork
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 1 large scallion, minced
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger

- 2 tbsp miracle whip
- 1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce
- handful of cilantro, finely minced (optional)

- hamburger buns of your choice (I used potato bread slices)
- mixed greens (optional)

Combine burger ingredients a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Form the pork mixture into two patties. Cook for about 7-10 minutes per side, until cooked through. Serve on toasted buns with cilantro-chili mayo and greens.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby Purchases, Round II

For me, prepping for a wedding and a baby is very similar - it's all about getting the job done without wiping out our bank account.

I am happy to say that I am doing well, with the help of my thrifty ways and the generosity of family and coworkers.

--

Before the holidays, between my mom and me, we received $30 worth of free money to spend at Kohl's. We stretched the money by buying things that were marked at least 50% off or more. In the end, we walked out with receiving blankets, burp cloths, wash cloths, and 2 Sleep 'n Play - all FREE.

In one of the brochures I received from my OB, I saw a voucher for a $10 GC to Babies R Us if you create a registry there. I went to Customer Service, ready to create a registry and get my $10 GC when the lady just gave me the GC without me having to create one! I ended up paying $3 for a baby thermometer.

Then I found a $10 coupon (off any purchase) to JCPenny at work break room one day and bought a hooded towel with that. Final cost: $0.

Right after Christmas, Lord & Taylor was giving out $10 GCs to the first 300 customers. Even though the store didn't open till 10am, I was surprised to see that not many people showed up to take advantage of it! I went around 4 times and got $40 to spend. :) Everyone else was doing it, too, I swear. Got more baby clothes - they are probably my most favorites.

Then over the New Year weekend, I made a big progress on the big-ticket items. My mom bought Baby A a travel system (basically a car seat and stroller set). (Hopefully my SOON-to-be SIL ;)) Yi-Hsin bought her a crib. Using the GC from my coworkers, I got a Pack 'n Play. A big THANK YOU to everyone. I may do a more detailed post on these items once they've all arrived and put together.

On top of all these, I also purchased a BabyBjorn Baby Carrier, more diapers, wipes, and Dreft laundry detergent (expensive, I may use All Free Clear in the future).

--

I must admit, though, that there is one huge difference between prepping for a wedding and a baby. For example, not having a videographer at our wedding saved money, but it also didn't have any detrimental effects on anyone. It was easy to cut corners. On the other hand, I don't want to be cheap and not buy Baby A the proper "stuff" and therefore cause a delay in her development - physically and mentally.

In short, there is still a long research and shopping ahead of me so be on a look out for Baby Purchase, Round III in the near future!

Catch up:
Baby Purchase, Round I

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Making Baby A, Week 30: Now It Hurts

I officially entered the THIRD trimester 3 weeks ago. The home stretch, the last lap, the final sprint, the beginning of the end. Oh my, where did the time go?

In the last week or so, I have been experiencing back and rib cage pains. To sooth the discomfort, I sit with my left arm behind my back and right arm above my head. I may look strange, but it helps 100%.

Also simple tasks such as clipping toe nails, putting on socks, and bending down to pick up Pargo and Pesto's water bowls have become somewhat physically demanding and challenging.

But to end the post on a high note, I consider myself lucky thus far. Haven't gained all that much visible weight except in belly, no water retention, cankles, or stretch marks to speak of.

Or do they just come later?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, January 4, 2010

txt u l8tr

Ever since hubs added text messaging to our cell phone plan, I have joined the rest of the world and started texting. But, I am slow at it using my orange Pebl.

Over the holidays, Santa brought me a new-to-me phone with a full keyboard. Now I can send texts at rapid speed. Annnnd, when data service kicks in later this month, I will be able to browse, twitter, IM, or email wherever I am.

We may be 4 days into 2010, but I've finally caught up to 2003!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010

2009 was filled with many happy times and special memories.

Here is wishing everyone a wonderful and amazing 2010!

For us, I have a hunch that 2010 will be chock full of new beginnings, big time choices, and major changes.

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

photo via ffffound

[+/-] Extra Sugar!