Friday, December 31, 2010

goodbye, 2010!

Dear Anna,

Today, on the last day of your birth year, you noshed on a red velvet cupcake...
strolled through a garden...
Family Photo on NYE
and because you are going to be sound asleep (to tell you the truth, I will be too) when the clock strikes midnight, you received your New Year's kiss under broad daylight, in front of a frozen lake.
NYE Kiss
Love you tons girlfriend! Thanks for making this year the best year yet. There are no words to describe how excited I am to see what 2011 brings.

To my readers: May you have a memorable and joyous end to 2010! Happy ringing in the new year!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵), Take 2

I was reading my blog the other day (yes, I do that sometimes all the time) and came across my Beef Noodle Soup recipe. Since the last time I checked, I've received new comments on how great my recipe is! I was so thrilled to see that!

Here is my confession: That was the first and only time I made the soup. I don't know why I never bothered to make it again, but after seeing the new comments, I decided to give it another go!

I took my own advice and used beef shank this time for its fat and tendon content. The verdict? Fabulous! The meat was soft and full of flavor. I also braised the whole piece of meat and sliced it just before serving. I thought it looked a lot prettier than the original.

Another note: I have since then acquired a slow cooker so I used it this time around to cook the noodle soup. Instead of dumping all the ingredients in the slow cooker from the get-go, I did take time and flash boiled the meat first in a separate pot. This will make more sense if you read the original recipe. I cooked it on high for 5 hours in the slow cooker. Could be longer, but I feel that was the definite minimum.

As usual, hubby gave the noodle soup two thumbs up!

beef noodle soup

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Anna’s “First Christmas” Ornament

There were two things I wanted to get done before 12/25 – one, mail out holidays cards, and two, find/make Anna’s “First Christmas” ornament.

I didn’t get around to neither of them.

Eh, I made peace with the first one easily. The second one, however, was the start of a tradition that I AM FOR SURE GOING TO KEEP and I couldn’t let it go as easily.

It’s a popular idea and I heard it from a coworker. The plan is to buy or make an ornament each year for Anna that represents what she was doing. Then when she is grown and has a place of her own, we will give her all the ornaments collected through the years. Hopefully there will be at least 20+ ornaments that she can decorate her tree with.

This year was simple - hello! - her first year on Earth. I ended up finding it two days after Christmas at Lord & Taylor. All ornaments were on clearance and when I saw this baby pink one, I snatched it up immediately. It’s a sparkly, glass ornament and I am really happy with it.

We haven’t taken our tree down yet, so even though it was late, it still made it to the tree.
Anna's "First Christmas" Ornament
When we pack it away, I am going to write a note (with the date) to Anna and keep it with the ornament. I think it will be fun for her to read the note when she's older....year after year.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chinese Hot Pot

On cold nights, one of my favorite meals is hot pot - a format where everyone sits around a simmering pot of soup, and cooks various raw foods, like meats, seafood, tofu, and vegetables. It is an interactive and fun way to eat food, and you end up with a unique soup to eat. It is also easy to prepare.

Usually we have them at my parents' house with crowds of people, but on Christmas Day, our family of five had our first hot pot ever at home. My mom had gifted me an electric cook pot, perfect for making hot pots.

I cooked the broth with neck bones, tomatoes, and carrots on stove top. Added salt and dashi. Let it simmer for at least 2 hours and transferred to the electric cook pot.

Next I set out all raw foods. Ours was a very modest spread, included napa cabbage, bean thread noodles, sliced beef, shrimp balls, fishcake tempura, tofu, fried taro, and mushrooms.
Christmas 2010 Dinner
hot pot
my Christmas bowl
Then we cooked the raw ingredients in the cook pot, dipped them in Chinese barbecue sauce, and ate and ate and ate.

It was so good and warmed our tummies.

Hopefully we will have hot pot a couple more times before the winter ends. Maybe next time Anna can partake in the meal. We actually purposely started eating while she napped (a baby who likes to get her hands on everything and a hot boiling soup spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e). She did wake up toward the end and tried a bit of everything. She loved it and so did we!

How was your Christmas Day dinner? Was it non-traditional, like ours?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear {sugarlens} Readers:

Anna's First National Christmas Tree
The Chong Girls
You guys are the friendliest people on the blogsphere and I just wanted to say thanks so much for reading my little blog. I will be back next week to ring in the new year...but before I family wishes you all a safe & happy holiday season! xo.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

presents under the tree

I'm not shedding a single bead of sweat over Christmas gifts for Anna this year. I'm fully aware that she'll have more fun with all of the cardboard boxes and crinkly wrapping paper involved. However, I am still planning to put a few practical gifts under the tree for the little Miss:

01. This coat from ON will keep her toasty through the winter months.
02. New bodysuits from ON and Baby Gap to keep her wardrobe up-to-date.
03. We are starting early - hopefully she will be proficient with using straw cups just in time for her transition to cow milk.
04. Hubby is fond of this sweet little book.
anna's xmas presents

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, December 17, 2010

we received our first snowfall of the season.

It's Snowing!
Snow Girls
(roughly an inch)
Took me an hour to get home from work.
(normal commute is 25 minutes)
The traffic was slow-moving. The roads were not plowed.
(but, i was not a bit agitated)
(in fact, relieved that i wasn’t the first in the long line of cars)
Arrived to our cozy and warm home, safe and sound.
(was greeted by a hubby on his way out to shovel the driveway, two yappy dogs, and a naked-bum baby {she just had a major poop})
Bundled up the baby and hurried outside to show her the wonderment of snow.
(took those pictures above)
(really smittened with the first one with all my kids)

(p.s there is a wreath on our front door! but it just sort of blends in...need to brighten it up somehow)

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

9 months

Dear Anna,

You are 9 months old which means you've officially been out longer than in. The last 9 months have absolutely flashed by, but at the same time, it feels like you have been around forever. In a good way, of course!

These days, you:
* weigh 18 lbs 3.5 oz and measure 27 inches. You are growing, but staying petite.
* get into everything. Everywhere. All the time. You are an energizer bunny.
* pet (ok, more like grab) the dogs.
* take little steps with the help of your walker, but waltz around the furniture like it's your full-time job.
* love to shuffle the books on the shelves, but pay no attention when I try to read them to you.
* give out high 5's and occasional slobbering kisses.
* squeal with delight the most with Papa.
* have a weakness for the tickle monster. All I have to do is raise my fingers and you giggle in anticipation.
* cry and fuss for attention. You will not be ignored during meal time. I confess that sometimes we just let you scream while we finish our dinner.
* need your own personal space when sleeping. Mama loves to co-sleep with you, but you often wake up fussing because you get stuck.
* melt my heart with all those crinkly-eyed smile.
* have a way of making me want to squeeze you forever! Like when you grab my pants, pull yourself up, stick you head in between my legs, and stare up with those dark brown eyes. Adorable!
* baby babble.
* reach for your sippy cup (for water) and drink without dripping.
* not really attached to any toys except your swaddling blankets.

* .........

Anna, the list goes on and there is so much to say about you. You are learning more and more every day. Growing up so quick, making me laugh and making me proud.

xo, Mama

Nine-months checkup
Nine-months checkup
2nd Photo: Not a happy camper after yet another shot.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

what a difference a year makes

2009: A swelling belly.
2010: A cute baby (9 months today!) on the loose.
9 months
Gingerbread Woman
Christmas Time

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just some record keeping.

I normally don’t write a post on Anna’s day to day activities until the end of each month, but I don’t want to forget anything that has been happening… This post may bore some of you to tears. Maybe read it when you are having an insomnia?

At 8.5 months, I bragged about how well Anna was eating and sleeping. I can’t believe it, but a week after that (basically started mid last week), she changed completely.

She used to drink 750-800cc a day, plus eating 2 meals of solids (breakfast: yogurt/oatmeal/fruit mix and lunch: veggie/meat/rice puree). Recently, if we are lucky, she only drinks ~600cc a day and sometimes flat out refusing purees.

When we bring the bottle near her, she gags before we even put the nipple in her mouth. Sometimes we successfully get her to start drinking, but then she coughs in the middle of it and throws everything up. Ugh, frustrating!

Maybe she just doesn’t like milk anymore. Maybe the milk flow is too slow for her. We've tried spoon-feeding her and letting her use a straw (which she has learned!). No luck. The only way we can get her to drink any milk is still through bottles…just not much. So I’ve ordered new faster flow nipples and they should arrive this week.

As for solids, hubby and I think that she’s just not into purees anymore. She will happily open her mouth for whatever it is we are eating, but with her baby food, she just turns away. Hubs steamed a soufflé yesterday. This is something we would eat, but soft enough for Anna too. It had tofu, eggs, green beans, carrots, and mushrooms. A bit everything. Anna opened her mouth for every bite, but near the end of the meal, she choked on a mushroom piece and threw up half of the meal. Ugh, frustrating!

For dinner, I gave her some toast and roasted chicken. No throw up. Whew. But I know all that toast and chicken didn’t amount to nearly as much food she used to eat from a spoon.

Needless to say, it has been quite stressful the last few days.

I know that Anna is growing up. She has food preference now. She is picky about what she eats. I just have to be creative in figuring out healthy foods that can be chopped up instead of blended.

As for sleep: she has a later bedtime now. It still varies, but it’s almost always 7:30 to 8pm. Sometimes she throws up while drinking her bedtime bottle and we have to give her an emergency bath and that delays her bedtime even more. Ugh, frustrating!

Sigh, life with a baby is not rainbows and unicorns all the time. Changes are bound to occur. Right now we are learning to adjust.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tiny Tong Legs

Haven't taken many pictures of Anna lately so decided to play catch up tonight. Perfect timing because her new leg warmers (from BabyLegs) had just arrived!

Well, would you believe it that hubby was the mastermind behind this purchase? And he bought not one, not two, but six pairs! Anna is going to have the best dressed (and warmest) legs all winter long. :)

Now, I have always known about these leg warmers, but this cheapskate Mama just couldn't justify the cost. But hubs got them for a steal, thanks to Cyber Monday and late-night browsing.

LOVE these leg warmers. Anna does too.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mama Wins

Anna is at that stage where she would drop whatever she’s doing and crawl to us if she sees us with food.

It’s the cutest thing. She could be on the other side of the room when she catches us with ice cream and – bam! – snuggles up against us before we even get a chance to take the first lick.

Just last night, hubs walked past Anna, who was holding onto the coffee table, and settled himself down on the couch, ready to eat his grapefruit. Haha, Anna immediately let go of both hands, landed on her padded butt, twisted herself around, crawled toward hubs, pulled herself to stand, and reached for the grapefruit. Her motions were seamless. She will do anything for her food.

Anyway, it was about time for the dogs’ bathroom break so I took them out back, through the glass sliding door in the family room.

When I came back, I saw my little baby, standing up against the other side of the glass door, waiting for me.

Our eyes met! Her gaze! Her expression! Omg, it was the best.

Hubs told me that after I closed the door behind me, she forgot all about the grapefruit and crawled across the room to look for me. My baby picked ME over FOOD!

Note to self: always have the camera handy, even if it is just taking the dogs out for a pee break.

Seeing me back inside, safe and sound, she went back her father, pestering him for food.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, December 6, 2010

#REVERB10 - Day 6

December 6 Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I made was dinner. Does that count? I made sautéed spinach with tofu, chili basil chicken stir-fry, and a big pot of potato and carrot soup. Humble, yet satisfying!

Since Anna came into the picture, I don’t spend much time in the kitchen anymore. We eat very simple meals, usually consist of me tossing together whatever we’ve got in the fridge. Regardless, the simplest of meals still take 30-35 minutes to make due to prepping and cleaning up. Not a long time, but not always something I want to do after a day of work.

Ordering out can get pricy and I can’t survive on cereal alone.

So…next year, I would like to try my hands on making freezer meals!

My plan:

  • Set aside a couple of hours on a Sunday (once-a-month) to cook. People spend up to 8 hours cooking for the entire month! In my case, since freezer meals will just be for those lazy days, I will prepare them at a smaller scale.
  • Divide the food into meal-sized portions.
  • Still prepare fresh meals 4-6 times a week, but eat freezer meals 1-3 times (especially on weekdays).
The benefits:
  • Saves money (buy in bulk, buy on sale)
  • Saves time (rather than prepping, cooking, and cleaning up each night)
  • It's healthier (instead of ordering or eating out)
I am anxious to get started!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, December 3, 2010

oh christmas tree

I know I say this every year, but it is worth repeating:

With the tree up, our {new} place is beginning to feel a little like Christmas and a lot like home.

And although we have been using the same Mickey & Minnie ornaments year after year, am still completely charmed by our beautiful tree this year...our little bundle of joy.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#REVERB10 - Day 1

This month, I am going to try my best to participate in #reverb10. I found this through various bloggers and it’s basically a way to close out your year by responding to creative prompts and sharing your response with the world.

2010 has been a big year so I thought it would be good for me to reflect (and to remember) through some kind of unique outlet.


December 1 One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011?

My word for 2010 is dazed.

2010 was filled with new beginnings, big time choices, and major changes for us (just as I had predicted). We went from carefree adults to parents with responsibilities and a mortgage. Despite its wonderment, it has left me feeling completely dazed. I feel someone has hit the 'repeat' button on my life, and I have been living the same day over and over. And while it has never been a bad day, it's hard to remember where this year has gone!

Next year, I want to be fully present in everything I do...and I plan to do a lot. In fact...

My word for 2011 is grow.

Unlike last year, I will not be birthing babies or buying a new house (or at least such major life events are not on the radar) I am deeming next year for growth.

(Re)grow my love for trying new recipes. Grow my non-existing photography skills. (Continue) growing this house into a home. Grow this blog. (Keep) growing a bright and healthy Anna.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!