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Lilacs

IMG_2305 IMG_2307 IMG_2308Lilacs have a strong scent and only bloom for only a very brief couple weeks in the spring.  I love these delicate beauties in our house!

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Blueberry Muffins

IMG_0002I am looking for a healthy morning muffin that is pack with good source of nutrient for my family.  This is the second time baking it and trying out different flours in my pantry.  I replaced the almond flour with oat flour and added blueberries this time.  They turned out great and I will add strawberries or other berries next time.

Blueberry Oat Muffins (makes about 8)

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cups oat flour or almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • A small pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup blueberries or strawberries
  1. Heat oven to 350°F and grease muffin pan
  2. Mix yogurt, melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla and apple cider vinegar.
  3. Add oat flour, baking soda and salt to the wet mixture.
  4. Add eggs to the batter.
  5. Fold blueberries into the batter.
  6. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool for 5 minutes.

Enjoy!  Nutrition facts for 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) of oat flour to provide 3.6g fiber, 4.8g protein, 144g calorie, 25g carbohydrate, 3.6g fat.   Reference obtained from CalorieKing.

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Traveling abroad with a toddler

IMG_3213I am just like all you parents out there, we were stressing out about a long haul flight with a toddler.  After a wonderful memorable family adventure with Kendall this past month, we’ve gotten better on how to pack and handle different situations during the trip.  So, I thought I’d share with you some of my tips for traveling abroad with a toddler.IMG_2255

1.  Packing.  I recommend to bring only the essentials and anything that you think you can’t buy at your destination.  Pack into the large suitcase to check-it.  I know we will wash our clothes on our trip, so we only packed a few days worth of clothes.  However, I packed extra diapers and clothes for my toddler.  The toddler clothes are small so they do not take up much of the space.  We had two carry-on bags.  One carry-on had 15 hours worth of diapers and wipies that I put in the overhead.  The other carry-on is my diaper bag that I kept underneath the seat.  It has a few diapers, clothes and toys in it and Zip-loc bags for soiled clothes.  I brought a box of Zip-loc bags with me as it is my best friend.  It can truly seal the soiled clothes.  Don’t forget to bring backup outfits for both you and your husband for unexpected delays and accidents from your toddler.

  • Health Kit:  We brought children’s Tylenol and children’s Benadryl (please be sure to consult your child’s doctor for dosage guidelines), and noseFrida the mucus sucker.
  • Toy:  I packed a few new mini books, her favorite, and new small toys, puppets, teether, window clings and stickers to play and explore.  She also watched the in-flight TV, movies, kids app and old videos on our phones.  We broke all the rules!  I also kept the plastic cups on the flight for her to play with.  The cup made a great toy for her.
  • Food:  If you are nursing your baby then it is easier and best for your baby.  My toddler is eating solid food so we brought rice puffs, cheerios and ordered kid’s meal when we booked our tickets.  You can also request for in-flight snacks like fresh fruit, dried fruits and crackers.  We were impressed by the kid’s meal on Cathy Pacific as the meals were healthy with a lot of steamed vegetable, baked meat and they were tasty too.  Of course, we may have had more than a few bites of her meal it was tasty!  IMG_3472

2.  Plane Ride.  We purchased a seat and a Safety 1St Guide 65 car seat for my toddler on the long haul flight.  We felt it is the safest way to travel for my toddler.  The car seat is light and it is easy to install on the plane and the luggage cart.  Plan ahead of time with your partner or family member on different tasks before and after the plane ride.  For example, have your partner to disassemble the luggage cart from the car seat, place it in the overhead, install the car seat into the row and in the meanwhile you keep your toddler entertain.  Things can get chaotic before take off and land but you’ll be fine because you are working with your partner as a team.  The pacifier with a clip-on or a bottle to suck on will help to relieve the ear pressure during take off and landing.  IMG_3169

3.  Car and City Rides.  We didn’t bring the stroller as we borrowed one from my sister.  We used the Ergo baby carrier everywhere in the cab, subway and in the airport.  We loved having it with us so just in case we need to put her to nap.  She naps so well in the carrier.  Daddy got very fit!  IMG_34004.  Jetlag.  Jetlag is a very common problem when travelling especially for long haul flights, flights over 10 hours.  We recommend this strategy…always try to stay on the same schedule that you keep at home when you arrive at your destination.  Try to avoid taking any naps the first couple of days as that will mess up your inner clock so it may be tricky but try to go to sleep at your normal time of the day.  This also applies when you come back home as well which can be even more difficult to adjust especially when you are traveling east instead of west.  For some reason jet lag is easier when traveling west than when traveling east.  Must have something to do with traveling with or against the setting and rising sun.  My husband is an admitted expert in this department…hmmmm.

5.  Others:  We love our BabyBjorn Travel Crib light but we decided to use the hotel crib and it worked out great for us.  The kids headphone would be great to have if your toddler is interested in in-flight entertainment.

Don’t over think.  Relax.  Don’t dread too much about the trip as this can be picked up by toddler.  Just be flexible for any unexpected events because they will happen.  Again, you’ll be fine because you have thought of everything and have a wonderful adventure with your family!For more travel read:  Travel to Hong Kong and Traveling with Babies.

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Travel to Hong Kong

IMG_3229We got back from visiting family in Hong Kong during Chinese new year, and I’d like to share a few stories and photos.

Our trip got off to a rough start with a flight delay then cancelation in the middle of the night.  The airline was able to arrange hotel for us to rest a few hours before we catch the next flight in the morning.  However, we couldn’t get our check-in luggage since we were going to catch the morning flight.  A bright side, we have a bed to rest for a few hours in the hotel.  At the same time, we have my sister to amend our car pick-up time in Hong Kong due to all the changes to our flight. After more than 24 hours of long journey, we finally arrived to Hong Kong.  We were so happy to see the hotel car and driver all ready with carseat installed for Kendall in the airport!  The best part after a long journey, our family surprised us in the hotel!  I can’t tell you how nice it was to have a warm shower and a first late night dinner with the family.  Kendall was so thrilled to see her cousins!           IMG_3187 IMG_3191IMG_3192IMG_3549IMG_0045IMG_0038My mom’s yummy seafood porridge for Kendall, carrot soup, braised pork and steamed bok choy. IMG_3236IMG_0065

So we were here in Hong Kong during Chinese new year which brings back childhood memories for me while living in Hong Kong for three years in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  Since then I have very little experience with the Chinese new year or it is just a small Asian community where I am living in now and in the past.  But I was excited to celebrate this festive holiday with my husband, daughter (first time visit Hong Kong) and my family.  Before the new year, the family will stuff Lai See (the red envelopes filled with cash gift that are mostly presented to children, clean the house, get a new haircut or new clothes and etc.  But we particularly enjoyed a reunion dinner at my mother’s house.  This is usually done on new year’s eve or a few days before the first day of new year.  We have a tradition dish called, Poon Choi.  The Poon Choi symbolizes togetherness, prosperity and abundance.  This big bowl feast made with many of ingredients that are placed layer by layer in the pot.  The one we have for dinner included vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, bok choy, carrot and mushroom placed on the bottom, roasted pork, roasted duck, shrimp, abalone, steamed chicken, and more placed on top of the pot.  We have a lot of leftovers after dinner and that is considered a blessing to have lots of profit in the remaining of the year.  It is okay to have leftover as it was not meant to be finished.IMG_0090 IMG_0092 IMG_0096IMG_0093IMG_3275Then we went to the Flower Market in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.  The Flower Markets in Hong Kong begin in the weeks before Chinese new year for people to pick up fresh flowers and plants for their homes and businesses.  However, it was so crowded that we only stayed for a short time.  While we were there, we saw fresh flowers like Paper Whites, Orchids and Cherry Blossom.IMG_3356 IMG_3270IMG_0034IMG_0032IMG_0033Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe first bite of this roasted pork was so good!   IMG_0133Having dinner with my mother’s good friends.  IMG_3353IMG_3342Having an afternoon snack at Angelina cafe.  IMG_3453We ate delicious food in Hong Kong, including peking duck at Spring Deer restaurant where the chef will slice up the duck meat for you and you can add pancake wrap and condiments to go with the duck.  You can tell my husband was very happy with the Peking Duck, look at his big happy smile!  We also tried dim sum (Chinese small dish or tapas) at T’ang Court, Michelin two-star restaurant and authentic Cantonese cuisine in the Langham hotel.  Tai Ping Koon restaurant is another fun place and founded in 1860.  Their special dishes has Swiss sauce and the souffle for dessert has to order 15-20 minutes ahead of time.  Our hotel also offered exceptional food and we loved the roasted pork and green bean dishes.  It was out of this world!  So, we are really lucky to taste such good food.IMG_3305IMG_3304On the first day of new year morning, after good night sleep and breakfast, Kendall put on a festive outfit to visit grandma’s house.  We gathered together to eat turnip cakes and passed out red envelopes to the children.  The savory turnip cakes has a mixture of radishes, rice powder and water.  I love this dish when I dine in a dim sum restaurant.IMG_0117 Oh hi, Shrek was with us the whole time. IMG_0021It was gloomy the first few days.  IMG_3230Then we were pretty happy to see the sun. IMG_3417This is Kowloon and below is the ocean tunnel to the Hong Kong Island. IMG_3408In our hotel gym and pool areas.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_0025IMG_0024IMG_0108IMG_0103IMG_3448 Here are the views from our hotel room.  Also, we have never seen a window cleaner right so close to us.  Kendall was so curious about what he was doing!  On the second day of new year, we had dinner with the family then came back to the hotel to watch fireworks over Victoria Harbor.  The fireworks exploded with a symphony of lights right out of our room.  It was such a sight and a great memory!

IMG_3227IMG_3225My husband was really interested in getting a suit done but too bad they won’t get to tailor the suit after the new year holiday.IMG_3250

Kendall was so spoiled by her aunties. IMG_0143IMG_3317IMG_3348IMG_3438 IMG_3439In the last few pictures, Kendall’s expressions basically sum up her trip to Hong Kong.  She had such a blast with everyone!  Anyway, it was tiring, exciting, wild, and great and a trip filled with great memories.

Here are some places in Hong Kong we enjoy visited!

Hotel ICON :: I’m so glad we stayed here.  This hotel has great attentive staffs, food and comfort room and bed.  We recommend the Market and Above and Beyond restaurants.

Spring Deer :: We will never forget the tasty Peking duck.

T’ang Court :: We have our first meal there and we want more.

Teawood Cafe :: Casual Taiwanese cafe.  You will know where to find us if I want three cups chicken and minced pork rice bowl.

Tai Hing ::  This cafe has many locations and there is one right across of our hotel.  I heard they have the best BBQ dishes.  But I am just happy to have a cup of milk iced tea and an egg sandwich.

Angelina :: A 110-year-old french pastries and treats from Paris is now in Hong Kong.  This place is hidden in the mall and it might be the cutest place to meet up family and friends for famous hot chocolate, Mont-Blanc and other desserts.

Tai Ping Koon :: An old school and fun place to be to sample western dishes interpreted in a Chinese way.  I like the black and white photos in the restaurant.  They have been in business since 1860.

The Lobby :: A relax place to enjoy high tea and lunch in the Peninsula hotel in Kowloon.  Opened since 1928.  Their sandwiches were so good.  Other fun and interesting facts:  This hotel featured in the classic James Bond movie, “The Man with the Golden Gun,” starring Roger Moore.  During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in World War II, they used the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon as their administration and commanding post.    IMG_3394 IMG_3395 IMG_0139Thank you my lovely sisters and brother-in-law for taking pictures for us.  We are planning for another trip back.  I hope you enjoy the post and thank you so much for reading!

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On Exercise

IMG_2810 Yes, it is hard to get up in the morning and get ready to sweat with Fit4MOM.  But I am glad I worked out as I have been feeling very energetic and strong after each total body workout at the park and studio. I always have an awesome time with the mamas.  Have a wonderful weekend!  Here are two hilarious, inspiring and empowering videos for you.  Enjoy!

Empowering fitness video.  This girl can.  I love the quotes, “Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox.”

No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first.  My sisterhood.

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Travel Bug

IMG_1086IMG_0033Our family vacation is coming up in a few weeks and this time it will be a long haul flight with a one year old baby.  Okay, she is a toddler now.  We will have to figure out a way to pack light and pack efficient for the 13 hour long flight.  I always like to check my luggage as I like to fly through the security check point and I don’t want to be annoying to other passengers who are trying to push their carry-on into the overhead.  I’m always afraid the carry-on will drop on my head if I sit on the aisle seat.  I will keep the essentials with me like electronics (phone and iPad), coat for me, clothes, toys and foods for the baby under the seat.  Oh and I can’t forget about bringing daddy’s biscoff cookies for him to snack on. What type of packer are you?  Do you check your luggage or try to fit everything into a carry-on?  Here are some fun posts about packing, in-flight food, food etiquette rules and more about travels.  Hope you will enjoy the post.

We invested in this convertible carry-on travel bag for our up-coming trip

15 international food etiquette rules

I am never a big fan of in-flight food.  Here is an article about why does food taste different on planes.

Stream the 2015 Oscar nominated documentaries onto iPad for your long flight

There is a way to not only pack light but to pack without wrinkles.

Traveling with babies

Above pictures are from our summer trip in California.

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A First Birthday to Remember

IMG_1623Oh!  My baby is one year old!  We were so excited to make her a pancake and a candle for Kendall’s 1st birthday!  It was delicious and fluffy!  She ate most of the pancake, blueberry and strawberry too!  Daddy said it was the best pancake he had ever had in his whole entire life!     IMG_2154IMG_2102Her favorite book is, “Where is Baby’s Belly Button”.  IMG_0045She has eight teeth and she eats pretty much everything.  Just like her daddy!IMG_2542She is walking! IMG_1814IMG_1776IMG_1969IMG_1846IMG_1893IMG_1941IMG_1935IMG_1953IMG_0053IMG_0055This birthday ring will be our holiday and birthday tradition.  The deers were our wedding cake topper.  IMG_0054I made the woodland animals- fox and owl for the goodie bags and party favors.  IMG_1889IMG_1769IMG_2033IMG_2032IMG_2636Then we had a cake, #1 giant balloon, lunch and blessings from family and friends in the park.  It was a beautiful cool day but we could not have hoped for a better birthday party for Kendall.  Thank you all for coming, taking fun pictures, and giving her so much love and a fun ride on the CHO CHO train with our birthday girl.

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Holiday Traditions

IMG_1638Christmas is a very special time for our family.  Especially now that we have a Christmas baby and this birthday ring will become our family holiday tradition.  A birthday ring from the wooden wagon.  We will let our little one choose seasonal pieces every year for her birthday.  This year we bought number 1 (it is a special year), hedgehog, toadstool and pink doll pram ornaments.  They are just too beautiful and festive to not add to the family holiday tradition. We also love their beeswax candles. IMG_2169

Our little Christmas tree is sparkling in the living room.  Baby Kendall is happy to see the tree and the ornaments every morning.  We also went to zoo lights this year.  Baby Kendall is not so sure as she is still young. However, Christmas is so special and I have to say it is the best when you have children because there is so much wonder and magic for them to discover!     IMG_1537
Green brunches to display around the house.  I love having them in the holidays.  In case you missed this post- Fresh holiday green.  IMG_1611

Holiday baking and sharing delicious treats at the Christmas party with your family and friends.  20120128_1970 20120128_190520120128_1813  20120128_1841

Thank you Nicole, our family photographer.  She was able to capture so many beautiful smiles of our little family.  We used the family session photos for holiday card.  So, we are establishing some traditions and that makes us very happy.  Have a happy holiday, friends!

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Peanut-Butter-Cup Stuffed Ginger Cookies

IMG_1607We have been busy baking and cooking in the kitchen for the annual Christmas party.  Today, I’m sharing our favorite holiday cookie this year.  If you like Reese’s peanut butter cup and ginger, you will like this recipe.

Peanut-Butter-Cup Stuffed Ginger Cookies (makes about 3 dozen)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (8oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 36-40 miniature peanut butter cups, such as Reese’s, chilled before baking
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling
  1. In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.  Mix in the ginger cinnamon, pepper and salt.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed until smooth, light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg for 30 seconds, then mix in the molasses.  Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined.  Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap.  Using the wrap to help, form the dough into a disk and seal tightly.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  3. Heat oven to 350ºF.  Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment.  Working with 1 tbsp of dough at a time, mold the dough around each peanut butter cup to enclose completely.  Place 12 dough balls on each of the prepared pans.  Bake until the tops are just set and slightly cracked, 12-14 minutes.  Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar, then return to the rack to cool completely.  Roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar again before serving.

IMG_1613Then put them in the gift bags or eat them right away!  Cookies will keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container.

This recipe is adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray.

In case you missed the others:  Baked oat cake, lentil & carrot soup.