Wednesday, March 30, 2011

watching Tangled in 3D (at home!)

Tangled in 3DOkay, so it’s not out of character to see fuzzy pictures here on this blog.

But, this one is blurry for a reason!

We were watching Tangled in 3D! In our basement! It was SO cool. Visually stunning.

Suddenly, I take back what I said before about the TV being TOO BIG.

And if hubby wants to buy more 3D movies? He has my full support.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

we just had the kind of weekend...

bekvem racks
...that i wish to forget.

it all started with this picture.
those spice racks as bookshelves from ikea?
pretty much the most brilliant idea ever and they would look fab in anna's room.
so on we went to the mega home furnishing store.
we only needed 3 spice racks. they were $4 each.
but somehow drove away with $230 worth of stuff in the trunk. did that happen and what did we buy again?
(hubby) spent the rest of the weekend painting the racks white.
two coats of paint later...
we found ourselves in anna's room, fiddling where to hang the racks.
not there. can't reach from back there. definitely NOT there.
finally, we found the best place.
under the crib.
bekvem racks 2

at least this project no longer occupies my mind. i am finally moving on.
at least we bought a comforter that fits perfectly inside the duvet. making the bed is now a happy chore.
at least anna had a ball walking around ikea and we got her a new toy.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Videos: Learning to Sign and More Walking

All of a sudden, I feel Anna’s ability to learn, understand, and absorb information has increased exponentially.

We are having success in giving her basic instructions and her following them. We can point to an object and have her bring it to us. When she wants to climb the stairs and we say “no”, she (usually) listens and comes back down. She imitates us, like brushing hair. This morning I asked her, “Where is Go-Ga?” and she looked over at Pargo.

She is certainly understanding us!

But how can we understand her?

Well, lately, we have been watching Signing Time. Studies show that before toddlers can communicate verbally, it’s beneficial to teach basic signs to reduce tantrums. Given that our local library has the entire collection of Signing Time, I was sold to give it a try.

We are starting slow because I don’t want to overwhelm her and I don’t think she needs to know beyond the most useful ones anyway. I will be happy when she masters eat, drink, milk, water, more, potty, all done, and thank you.

More important than watching the videos is using the signs consistency throughout the day. The videos aren’t really for the kids, but for the parents instead. If I want Anna to learn to sign, it’s my responsibility to learn it myself and teach it to her.

Anyway, here is a video of Anna signing “more”. At the end of the meal, I asked her “More?” and she didn’t sign back. I suspected it may just be a fluke and gave her more food anyway….but she pushed it away!

On the walking front, she’s a pro at it now. This video is 10+ days old, taken right after her birthday party. Since then, she now can stop & pick up something and squat & comes right back up. I hardly see her crawl anymore.

Anna signing "more" from sugarlens on Vimeo.

getting good at this walking stuff from sugarlens on Vimeo.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


When it comes to baby products, my personal mantra is “cheap & practical”. That’s why when my brother gave me a budget of $150 to prepare for the baby, I looked no further than this simple drying rack for $12.

Well…the drying rack has served us well. When Anna was drinking 8-10 bottles a day in the early months, this no-frills rack kept the bottles and my pump parts dry and accessible. It is something I would recommend to all new bottle-feeding moms out there.

But now that we are hoping to transition Anna off of bottles soon and I am thisclose in putting my pump away, we don’t need something that can hold up to 10 bottles (& pump parts), and let's face it, while this rack is functional, it is kind of an eyesore.

Now that we have a pretty kitchen, can you blame me for wanting to keep it that way?

Enter the newest accessory in our kitchen - Grass Countertop Drying Rack by Boon.
new addition to the kitchen
So far – love it. Mostly because how modern + stylish it is and it matches our green kitchen so perfectly. But thinking in terms of longevity, I can see us using this even when baby/toddler days are behind us. I love that this grassy rack is not specifically made for just drying bottles, but for everything. Oh, but just a note - this drying rack is smallish and definitely would not have met our needs the first year of Anna's life.

Thanks to those $10 off Amazon coupons that appeared in baby/parenting magazines in the past few months, this purchase only set me back $7. Not bad.
close up
Yes, we just cut down some trees in our yard that I need to write about, but posting about this drying rack was just a bit more important. And, without a doubt, more fun.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Anna's Birthday Party - The Event

After all the planning, Anna's birthday party came and went in a flash.

In summary: Girlfriend is suspicious of people. People can't make eye contact with her, but she can look at whoever she pleases. Little people are okay in her book, though. She would not touch cake when all eyes are on her. She doesn't do party hats. She got lots of new stuff, including two pairs of real shoes that her parents were too cheap to buy. And money to buy more shoes and other stuff.

Ok, onto the pictures!
wearing party hat
Anna's First Birthday
Anna's First Birthday
Yes, the party was attended by more than just the 3 of us and here is proof. Please note the baby on the bottom left - he was all giggles the entire time and I am pretty sure his parents will have balloons at his birthday party later this year. :)
Anna's First Birthday
All in all, a very nice party and I have great memories of it!

The end.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anna's Birthday Party - The Details

Planning for Anna’s birthday party was a lot of fun for me. I love working with my hands and getting creative. There are so much to say about the party details that I decided to make it its own post. We didn't go all out for the party - I didn't think extravagant was necessary and it definitely wouldn't have been us. Instead, we had a simple (& pretty) party at home and it was perfect. I included the cost for each category just for reference.

Invitation: I created the invitation (idea from here) in Photoshop and saved it as .jpg. Instead of snail mail, I did it the easy and cheap way of via email. In reality, since the guest list was tiny, I could’ve just called/texted, but I am glad I went the extra step of creating this invitation. Cost: $0.
Anna's First Birthday Party Invitation
Venue: Anna's House. We didn't consider hosting the party anywhere else just because it was easier to have it at home. I wished our dining table had arrived in time so the guests had more space to mingle, but we ended up staying in the kitchen/breakfast area/family room pretty much the entire time. It's true - people gather around food. Cost: $0

Decoration: I debated between fresh blooms or balloons for the decor. We accidentally stumbled upon a helium tank kit at Wal-Mart and the decision was made for us. In hindsight, for a first birthday party, balloons was definitely the way to go regardless. Anna wouldn’t have appreciated the flowers, but she went nuts over the balloons. And they also entertained few other kiddies at the party. We used shades of pink, green, and orange as colors, but as you can see, there was pop of other colors here and there as well. Cost: $20 (ribbons and balloons included in the kit)
Anna's First Birthday
Table Display: I saw too many pretty pictures of table display online that I just had to create one of my own. I am so proud of the end result and I didn’t spend a ton either. The pedestals were bought from a combination of TJ.Maxx and Crate and Barrel. We wrapped empty boxes in wrapping paper and placed the pedestals on them to give some height. The 3-tier plate rack was borrowed from my mom. We already owned everything else (including the orange runner which was from our wedding). Utensils were from Target. Napkins and plates were from Wal-Mart. Cost: $55 (estimating)
Anna's Birthday
Food: The weekend before the party, I went with hubby’s mom to Costco and bought a bunch of appetizers (mini crab cake, quiche, popcorn chicken, and fish fingers). All the appetizers were set at the main table. Oh, and I also made cookie dough brownies so we have more sweets. On the day of the party, both Grandmas brought more (homemade) food and we put those on the kitchen counter. Cost: $50 (just for the appetizers from Costco)

Cupcakes: Couple of weeks before the party, there was a deal for CakeLove at LivingSocial. $20 for $40-worth of baked goods. If I didn’t come across this deal, I would’ve made my own cupcakes. $20

Cupcake Toppers and Other Toppers: DIY. Made from scrapbook papers. Cost: $0 (had all the supplies on hand)

Food Signs: Created in PowerPoint, printed on heavy cardstock. Cost: $0
Banner: DIY. I printed out the letters on heavy cardstock and glued them on top of scrapbook papers. Then we just hung each piece on a ribbon using clothes pins. The making of the banner was easy, hanging them was the hard part. Kudos to hubby for making it perfectly balanced. We used the songbirds that I made as the dividers between words. It wasn't planned when I made the birds, but it just happened. I used the same scrapbook papers to make the birds so colors matched. Cost: $0 (had all the supplies on hand)
Anna's Birthday
Water: Another easy DIY. I designed the labels using Photoshop and printed them on regular 8.5 x 11 copier paper. Cost: $2.50 (just water alone)

Party Hat: Already shared it here. Cost: $0 (had all the supplies on hand)
Favors: These treat bags were filled with goldfish crackers. I made something similar before here. On the front it says 'From Anna's Pet Store' and the back says 'Thanks for coming to my party!'. The one filled with Gerber puffs was for a 7-month old guest. Cost: $1 (had all the supplies on hand and only bought the goldfish crackers)
Anna's Birthday
Tips and Lessons Learned:
// Do as much as you can beforehand. We rearranged the furniture, set up the table display (just without the food), and hung the banner the day before. It relaxed me to have stuff done ahead of time so we didn't have to rush the day of.
// Accept help. Both grandmas offered to bring food and at first I said no. So relieved that I changed my mind because the guests would've gone hungry for sure! Hubby's mom arranged a fruit platter of papaya, pinapple, mango, and strawberries - that was esepcially nice!
// Display family pictures. Because we had the party at home and our house already has pictures of Anna, I didn't think (or I did think, but just didn't get around to it) to put pictures of her where the guests would be. In the future, I am definitely doing a photo table.
// Keep the party small - invite only family and closest friends. Cheaper, easier to manage, and less overwhelming for the birthday girl.
// Take lots of pictures. Anna's first birthday party was for us me. Haha, hubby and Anna couldn't have cared less. However, I am incredibly glad I did it and now we have pictures to show her in the future.

And speaking of pictures - I will share them all tomorrow!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

and this is what we did on her actual birthday

on Anna's birthday
top: waiting to be called at her one-year well exam. appointment involved 3 shots and resulted in one angry baby, but anna is developing right on track.
1 doctor said to let her have options at meal time. so we put a variety of food on her tray and she went to town. wish we had started this sooner, but we had always fed her with our chopsticks during dinner time.
2 birthday dinner was chinese take-out. general tso's chicken, orange chicken, lo mein, and fried rice.
3 (in singsong voice) happy birthday to you!!
4 after some coaxing, finally having some cake. NOT the icing (shudder).
5 big, messy throw-up called for an impromptu bath.
6 all clean and getting height measured and marking it on the wall.
7 it's official. looking forward to completely mark up that wall eventually.
bottom: we love you, anna! you are our sunshine!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 1-Week Project

The week before Anna turned one, I took a photograph of her each day to document her last week of babyhood. I prettied them up in Photoshop and added a few sentences about each. This idea was 100% borrowed from here. The only difference is that she did it for 4-6 weeks while 1 week was more than enough for me. In fact, March 10 and 11 were taken in a hurry using hub’s phone. Definitely glad to have this collection, though. So happy to have made the effort.
The Week Before One
The Week Before One
The Week Before One
The Week Before One

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, March 14, 2011

today you are one

Hello Birthday Girl,

Today you turn one and we are celebrating.

I can’t believe you were once this little. All wrapped up like a burrito.
As much as I want to remember the morning after I gave birth to you with vivid details, I don’t. I do recall this: your Papa had stepped out and I was alone with you for the first time. I remember thinking, oh my goodness, she’s here! What do I do now? Luckily, all you did was sleep.

But just as I can’t believe you were that little, I can’t believe you are this big now. To see you with 4 teeth and 2 more on the way. To see you walking…sometimes running. To see you slowly figuring out the world around you.

Look at you now!
Anna's First Birthday
I love these pictures of us at your birthday party. We look good together, baby.

You are getting so big. But, I refuse to be sad and dwell about that. You were meant to grow and I am happy you are thriving. I don’t take for granted for your health and happiness. Grow, my little girl, big and tall and strong. xoxo.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Friday!

We have a big and exciting weekend heading our way – Sunday is Anna’s First Birthday Party! Unfortunately, the party hasn’t even started yet and there is already a glitch. It dawned on me earlier this week that Sunday is Daylight Saving Time! Oops.

As a self-proclaimed planner and organizer, I picked the party start time specifically so Anna would wake up from her first nap and we would still have time to get her dolled up before party guests arrive. So much for that. Sleepyhead will probably still be snoozing away half way into her party. You know, one of my pet peeves is tardiness, but this is the one time when I wouldn’t mind a bit if guests arrive late!

Either way, I can’t wait to have all those who love Anna the most in the world come and celebrate her big milestone. While I run around and get everything ready for the party, here are some of my favorite things from the last few weeks.

+ I heart using coupons. I heart saving money. Get started with this post.
+ While you are over there at YHL (see link #1), check out this display. It's my new inspiration.
+ I am pretty sure I want my closet to look this dreamy.
+ I am still obsessed about the best looking ways to store children's book.
+ Good read.
+ Simple activities to do with your toddler.
+ These "peel-able" fruits & veggies are awesome. They keep Anna in one place for a good 10 minutes.
+ Hubby sent me this and this. I've always assumed that paying off your mortgage early is a good move, but apparently not so! What's your take?

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

this post is for my mom

Grandma G requested to see more pictures of Anna and know I don't need to be asked twice to post pictures of my child.

In fact, I will do even better and include a video.

These pictures were taken last week and are just plain sweet. What mothers don't love a leg-hugging/snuggling baby? Not this one, that's for sure.
Lately, Anna is all about her furry brothers. She's constantly in their face, especially Pesto. She will watch him eat in earnest and try to take away his treat. Here she is attempting to throw him a ball, but Pesto seems puzzled. :)

I have a feeling eventually they will become the best of buddies, though.

fun with Pesto from sugarlens on Vimeo.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

There was something annoying about our house:

To turn on the light for the garage and for the light just outside of the garage, we had walk through the mudroom and into garage.

Yes, it wasn’t a big problem, but every time we opened the door to the garage, there was chance of dogs barking (honestly clueless on why they do that even though they know it’s just us) and waking up a sleeping baby. And that, my friend, is considered a first world problem in our little residence.

Besides, for the sake of convenience, it would just be better to have all the switches in the mudroom.

Over the weekend, hub’s dad ended our annoyance by rewiring some…um…wires, poked some holes, and, five hours later, we have this brand new panel of three switches. One switch for the mudroom (which was already in the mudroom to begin with), one for the garage, and one for outside of the garage.

I wouldn’t be able to explain to you what exactly hubby's dad did even if my life depended on it so I will just let the pictures do the talking.
The way we go on our daily lives is changed forever...

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, March 7, 2011

easy wall art update

wall art from my childhood
Last week, my mom brought over these two wall art that hung in my old bedroom from my younger days. I believe they were bought at garage sale in the late 80s, which makes them at least 22 years old (but most definitely a lot older).

I really like them. Cute and vintage-y.

Anyway, we decided to switch out the frames for an updated look. At first we considered just painting them white, but upon close examination, it was clear that they were cheaply made and the glass was actually glued to the frame – which made painting very unfriendly. And also, hubby said the yellow velvet ribbon around it had to go.

We ended up replacing the frames with new ones that we found at Walmart. They were originally black, but a few coats of white spray paint later, they are now brilliantly white.

I had just been thinking about how we needed to add a little somethin' something' to the main level half bath and these are perfect. Seriously, they look great in there.

All for less than $20.
new frames and a new home
In hindsight, hubby said we could've painted them a different color (he mentioned pink) to give it more color...and I think I agree. But this is another project that he's not doing it over. Haha.

Oh, my camera is playing tricks again and I will just have to mention that the soft yellow color of the wall art in the last photo is fake. The actual color is more represented in the top photo.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Friday, March 4, 2011

party hat

I know Anna is not going to care about her birthday party. In fact, I am certain that she will get overwhelmed and tears will be shed. Let’s be real – with Anna’s stranger and separation anxieties, the party may very well turn into one huge crying fest….but, that is not stopping me from getting crafty and wanting to add many personal touches.

Haha, I just have to laugh at my latest project: a party hat for the birthday girl. I saw this tutorial on Oh Happy Day and declared that Anna must have one too for all the photo-ops. Well, that’s just say that this photo is dark and grainy for a reason. It’s to hide all the flaws. So don’t look too close, please.

I think it’s took me ONE whole hour to make this ONE hat, and finally completed thanks to ONE helpful hubby. After my first failed attempt, he was the one who muscled the paper into cone shape and made the little fringey ball on top.

Am not pleased about how it turned out since it has to be handled with extreme care.
Am afraid that Anna won’t hold still long enough for me to put this fragile hat on her.
Am not worrying about it, though.
Am trying to embrace imperfection.
There’s no way I hubby is doing this over.
Anna's party hat

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chinese Sticky Rice (aka Oily Rice)

Sticky Rice
This comfort food has been making appearance in our little household for the last, oh, six weeks. But it took me until now to finally stop eating long enough to take a picture.


Sticky rice, oily rice, glutinous rice, whatever you want to call it - is one of my all-time favorite food. After I seeing how easy it is to make on Tiny Urban Kitchen, I knew I had to give it a try. I mean, up until six weeks ago, I relied on my mom or hubby's mom to make it for us and it was about time I change that.

[I've decided that unless I made a drastic alteration to the original recipe, instead of repeating it here, I am just going to link it. So here is the recipe. Her blog is awesome overall, too.]

I did make one slight change to the recipe: Typical Taiwanese-style sticky rice calls for sliced pork loin, which is what I am used to. But hubby prefers Chinese sausage so I have been using that instead. It actually makes the dish even easier to make since I can just buy a pack of the Chinese sausage and it lasts forever in the fridge.

We all love this dish around here. Anna included. I typically cook it early on Saturday morning and it feeds us all day long. Can't beat that convenience!

Oh, there are recipes out there for this dish that require using a steamer. I use rice cook and it's so simple and so fast to prepare. Wouldn't do it any other way!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

t-minus 11 days

party planning in process
Party planning is officially underway.

So far...
// Invitation. Sent. I did it the efficient cheapo way, via email.
// Birthday banners. Made. Am very happy about how they turned out.
// Cupcakes. Prepaid. Half off courtesy of LivingSocial.
// Party supplies. Purchased. Utensils. Check. Napkins. Check. Helium tank. Check.

The to-do list is still long, but I am soaking up every minute of it and learning a lot along the way! Will share everything later!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!