Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Move

We're leaving today... just when we're quite settled in a routine and all. Sad to leave dear parents behind but at the same time excited to start our new life.

This will also be my last post for awhile till we get connected again later. Hopefully in a few days' time but... Well, no harm hoping! Can't wait to be back soon! Meanwhile, stay happy everyone!

Friday, April 23, 2010

This Mama is Going Greener

Had another lightbulb moment after yesterday's Earth Day post. I stumbled upon Online Leaf while setting up this blog and somehow lost it while installing the new template. I am putting it back on now and wearing the  badge proudly! It is basically a simple plug-in that blackouts your screen and puts it on energy saving mode until you return. How cool is that! Try it yourself on Online Leaf.

There you go, another small step, another simple step.

By the way, did you know that choosing a dark colour for your blog background can save energy too? Read more on Blackle.

It's Earth Day!

I was actually trying to search for the repeat episode of Earth Day Specials on Playhouse Disney (Astro) when I found out that today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day!! Didn't know that it is celebrated every year on April 22. I thought it was over after the Earth Hour. Tsk tsk tsk... So outdated. No wonder they were clearing refrigerators and diapers along Gurney Drive in Penang! (Read more in The Star Online.) Kudos to the thousands of volunteers by the way!

We have so much to do to save our fragile little home and our future generations. According to the Earth Day Network, the world is in greater peril forty years after the first Earth Day! Although the blame is mostly on the developed countries, each of us have a role to play. Malaysia seems far behind in efforts to save the world, buy I must say that of late, there has been some efforts in turning the population a little greener. The state of Penang has boldly initiated the 'no plastic bags' campaign in 2009. A step closer to making Penang a green state. The State Minister Lim Guan Eng's speech during the launch of the campaign entitled "Penang As A Green State: We Are Willing To Lose Our Popularity But Not Lose The Next Generation" scores three thumbs up with me!

Writing this post also brings me back to the time when I had the priviledge of meeting Professor John Guillebaud about 5 years ago.  At that time, he was Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health at University College, London. According to him and his colleagues, part and parcel of what is happening to our world today is due to overpopulation and he strives to promote family planning and saving the environment everywhere he goes. He planted the Environment Time Capsule in 1994 to be opened fifty years later in year 2044. Things linked to environmental issues of today including a letter of apology to our future generation are placed in this capsule.

We may not be another state minister or John Guillebaud but we can all do our parts, big or small. I have always turned off the tap when brushing my teeth and re-used/recycled paper (I collect scrap, remember? {Read post 'Facelift'}). We also prefer energy-saving light bulbs. So to do more this year, I am going to pledge to do 3 Green Acts:

1. Switch off all electrical items when not in use and not leave it on standby mode.
2. Potty-train Baby O so we don't use more disposable nappies (and use cloth diapers next time!).
3. Bring our own tiffin carrier or other reusable containers when tapau-ing (taking-away) food.
Bonus no.4 will be to grow our own food and composting - space-permitting.

Here are more simple things we can do one small step at a time that will change our future:
  • Extend the life cycle of a product - re-use bags/ wrapping papers/ use both sides of the paper etc.
  • Grow your own fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce food waste - buy only what you need/ clear refrigerator before buying more food/ ask for less (rice/ noodles etc.) when ordering if you know you can't finish it
  • Reduce use of air-conditioner by drawing the curtains to keep hot air out
  • Recycle old cell phones and electronics
  • Collect rain water to wash the car, water plants, etc.
  • Car pool instead of driving alone
  • Pay bills online
  • Ask more people to join in the pledge!
Why don't you pledge to do 3 Green Acts with me? Don't just do it for yourself, do it for our children because
"We have not inherited the earth from our grandparents, we have borrowed it from our grandchildren" [Kashmiri proverb]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Mama ♥ Shabby Princess!

I believe that this world is full of nice people! One of them has to be Shabby Princess! She has tonnes of free (Yes! FREE!!) digital scrapbooking kits for you to download. If you like all the shabbiness in her designs like I do, start clearing some space in that hard drive of yours and start downloading!!

Please note that all Shabby Princess kits are for PERSONAL, NON-COMMERCIAL use only.

The Party That Was (+ some party planning tips!)

Phew! All the hard work over in just 2 hours! Well, the main part of the party that is. I'm not kidding when I say I had sleepless nights planning for this party for this 1 year old! The dilemmas with the venue, guests and food. In the end we decided to have it at home with the handful of friends from Ipoh and our dear family. Thank God everything went pretty well and I had thoroughly enjoyed the whole process even though I was flat after that. If you're planning for a party yourself, here are some things you might want to consider:

Tip #1: Have a good variety of food suitable for the different guests
We had 1 baby, 3 kids, and 2 mom-2-bes in our midst. So, I included some light & healthy finger foods for this group. I prefer quality than quantity. So everything was homemade and the menu for about 20pax goes like this:
  • Toasted sesame pita with egg & potato mayo filling + a slice of tomato & curly lettuce
  • Fried mee
  • Curry chicken
  • Deep fried wanton with minced pork & prawn filling
  • Chocolate fountain with fresh strawberries, grapes, bananas and marshmallows
  • Konyaku jelly with peach/ kiwi fillings
  • Drink - fizzy lemon & mint
  • Angku kuih and red eggs for tradition sake
  • Birthday cupcakes - would have loved to make these too but had to order them as our oven wasn't functioning :( Had a problem getting contacts for cupcakes in Ipoh and eventually decided to order from Evadis Cakes in Penang and get dear hubby to bring it back after work on the eve of the party. Would say it's worth it. Not too sweet and pretty enough not to be eaten.

Tip #2: Send a reminder a few days before the party stating date, time and venue
Even by doing this, one of our friends still turned up at 2pm. The party was from 11am-1pm. She thought it started at 1pm. Hmm.....

Tip #3: K.I.S.S. (Keep it short & sweet)
Especially when you have kids and babies at a party. You don't want them to get overstimulated and start whining and crying. You know what they say about kids crying, it's contagious... It is also crucial to consider baby's nap time when deciding on the timing of the party. However, keep in mind that some will still turn up at Malaysian o'clock (2pm!?!). 

Tip #4: Have a safe play area for the kids
Preferably somewhere where the parent(s) can still keep watch while having some adult conversation. Have a few books and toys in the area or even leave a cartoon channel on for them. Don't forget to stow away baby's favourites in case they get broken.

Tip #5: Get good quality balloons
You don't want them popping and giving the little kiddos a scare. We had some filled with helium. We left them outside by the entrance before the guests arrived. Then brought them in and moved them next to the cake during the song-singing/ candle-blowing/ cake-cutting ceremony. Besides creating a party atmosphere, they will also go down well in photos and make a great going away gift together with the party packs if you plan to have any!

Tip #6: Get a good camera and cameraman!
You'll be waaaaay too busy to snap. So it's wise to do so at such a momentous occasion. Unfortunately I was using my old camera which shoots lousy shots with dim lights and overexposed ones with the flash on. On top of that, no one else knows how to use the settings on my camera which means we were left with a few blurry or dark or overexposed pics :(

Tip #7:  Keep it cool
If you can control it that is. We had the air-conditioning switched on (half an hour before the party started) to keep our guests (and ourselves) comfortable and dry. Pretty crucial when it feels like 40 degrees Celsius outside!

Tip #8: Get help!
If anyone offers to cook a dish, say 'Yes! Thank you!'. I would have been so grateful if someone had offered to keep an eye on Baby O for a few hours or to colour the eggs red while I move on to something else (thanks Mom & dear hubby for doing all that you can!!). But there's nothing stopping me from asking people to help even though they are the ones turning up at the party!

Tip #9: Have a theme for photos sake (optional)
Baby O is currently having Elmo fever thus the Elmo on her cake and balloons. She also received a 4feet Elmo plush toy as a gift.

Tip #10: Other nitty-gritty details
Details to me are what makes a party a little extra special. At our little party, we had:
  • Nursery rhymes playing in the background - upbeat ones with actions in case we need some distraction for the kids
  • A slide show of baby's pictures running on the laptop
  • Pictures of baby from  birth till now
  • Party bags with carefully thought of items for each child appropriate to his/her age
  • A chocolate fountain which I thought was a special little feature for a house party
Wow.. now I know why I couldn't sleep! Hopefully these tips can help you sleep better! :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Mama Loves Cheaper Books!

When it comes to books, we really miss England where you can purchase new books for less than £5! Imagine getting whole new books for RM5!! That will be the day. On top of that, there are loads of charity shops where people donate their books to sell and the profit goes to that particular charity (eg. Oxfam) - supports various campaigns to fight poverty; Barnado's - needs funds to help children). I have bought 5 books for £2 at Barnado's numerous times and the books are still in good condition. So imagine my despair when we got back and books are so expensive relative to what we earn! 5 new books can easily hit the RM200 mark. Therefore I'm in constant search for places that sells good quality books cheaply be it old or new, online or in shops and would love to share these places with anyone who loves books but don't wish to spend too much on them for whatever reasons.

Recently I stumbled upon Cheaper Books. They sell used books imported from the US. They have quite a good selection and I like how they show you a preview of some of the pages inside to get an idea of what the contents are. The best part is the books cost a fraction lesser than a new one even though some have a tiny creases here or there. "Where is Maisy's Panda?" by Lucy Cousins with slight peel on corners of cover and two slightly creased flaps on otherwise superclean contents is priced at RM6.90 vs $4.99 for a new one. How good is that? Only problem here is that I'm exposed to the books recommended in Britain whilst we were raising Baby O there so I am not too familiar with the books being offered and will need to look through the list to see what is suitable for Baby O before making a purchase. So it will be great if Cheaper Books can include an age reference for us.

Do you have a good place to buy books? Recommend it to us by giving us a shout!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Research-Based Potty Training

It's been a constant struggle to balance whatever time I have when Baby O naps/sleeps to do a little bit of replying emails, laundry, read, planning for a party which is fast approaching... (Yikes!) Anyway, have been thinking of potty training Baby O soon to save some $$ spent on diapers (price to pay for not using cloth diapers!) & play my part in being green to save the environment... Came across this site recommended in the BabyCentre UK forums - Parenting Science that tells you when to do it, how to do it, and why you do it, all based on scientific research! Didn't know they are so many people out there who'll be so interested in studying the art of pooping. It is quite good toilet reading material but if you're like me fighting for time to read, you might end up training the little one when he/she is 18!! (!?!?!)
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