Aldi Adventures: Episode 1 – The Quest for the Cookie Spread Begins

Last week, one of my colleagues brought this delicious spekulatius cookie spread to work.

Spekulatius cookies are a variant of the Dutch/German spiced shortcrust biscuit that are made out of sugar, spices and almonds and joy.

This spekulatius cookie spread tasted like sugar, spices and almonds and joy.

So, of course, the Boobook and I just HAD to get some.

My colleague told me that she got it at Aldi.

This was going to be a challenge. Shopping at Aldi is like, in Forrest Gump’s own words, “a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Aldi’s goods are seasonally influenced and rotate about twice a week. So, each time you walk into a store, the items are completely different.

And thus, began the Aldi Adventures.  Here’s what we found this time (hover over pictures for helpful captions!):

The Muesli Clusters were actually pretty tasty, though I’m unsure as to their nutritional value. We used the stud finder to mount the TV on the wall.

The Boobook was satisfied by the Mountain Bar.

Well, we couldn’t find the cookie spread, but… maybe next time on Aaaaaaaldiiiii Adveeeeentureeeees!

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Midweek break: Long walks on the beach at sunset (with kids)

Wednesdays.

They are full of woe.

My energy levels always take a dive mid-week, and they are the worst in the late afternoon, so it helps me to get away from the usual evening routine of cook-eat-bathe-sleep.

Last Wednesday afternoon, I loaded the kids in the car after their nap and headed for the outdoors. My husband’s office is located on the east end of Singapore, so I decided to pick him up from work (he usually commutes via public transport) and go to East Coast Park together. Along the way, we stopped to get some takeaway for dinner.

It was lovely on the beach, sitting on our picnic mat and looking out at the ships whilst eating our dinner. Afterwards, I rinsed off our plastic cups and utensils, and showed the children how to use them to make simple sandcastles.

We used the plastic forks to rake the sand around each castle into neat little furrows, making patterns in the sand so that it looked like a japanese dry-landscape garden.

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Raked sand and sandcastles

As the tide was beginning to come in, the kids left off their landscaping and went off to stomp in the waves, leaving me to continue quietly swirl the sand into tidy little furrows and indulge all my obsessive-compulsive needs.

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Raking sand is oddly calming

One of the lovely things about East Coast Park is watching the ships in the harbour begin to light up as the sun sets behind the trees. The lights on the water are just so pretty.

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The first few ships turn on their lights as the sun begins goes down

J and Little E love playing at the edge of the surf. Our waters are very sheltered so the waves never grow very big, so it is safe for them play by the water’s edge. They could probably safely swim in the water too, but I personally feel that the water quality at East Coast Park is rather terrible (pollution from the ships is unavoidable), which is why we never go swimming in the sea here.

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Sand play at sunset

Best of all, whilst the kids are playing with their dad, I get to lounge quietly on the sand, just lounging and being quiet.

Yeah.

Bliss.

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Debs says Relax

O bento, no bento

Hi Meimei,

Yes. I have seen those beautiful bentos that other parents make for their kids. And I salute them for their creativity and dedication to Food Styling.

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How to celebrate National Day

This National Day breakfast by Sharon from Little Miss Orange, for example, is brilliantly simple.

Just a spread little bit of strawberry jam on plain bread, add cheddar cheese shapes cut using mini-cookie cutters, and suddenly you get the Singapore flag. (Picture Credit: Little Miss Orange)

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All that’s missing is a banana

Here’s another bit of brilliance from the same lady – turning a simple omelette into a Despicable Me Minion, using carefully cut seaweed. (Picture credit: Little Miss Orange)

But I think that the guru of all lunchboxes is Makiko Itoh of Just Bento.

On her website, she teaches you how to select the right bento lunch box, bento food safety tips, and how to buildup a joubisai (a stash of lunchbox friendly foods). There are so many recipes and ideas on her site! And she makes it all seem so do-able.

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Cute and effortless!

I especially like her ideas for just using stickers to add colour and cuteness to a kid’s lunchbox.  (Picture credit: JustBento.com)

One of the reasons why I avoid decorating food is that I am kak-handed [1] and will probably end up over-handling and fiddling with the food far too much, thus germifying the whole operation, so this quick-and-cute method of decoration would really suit me.

Fortunately for me, neither J nor Little E require any packed lunches for school at the moment as they are both at home for lunch.

And ever since the Spinach Incident of 2002, I’ve not been allowed to make sandwiches for my husband.

In any case, I am not sure that I am capable of planning a healthy and varied packed lunch menu for the kids because I am already struggling with meal planning enough as it is.

I mean, you’re talking to the girl who ate peanut butter sandwiches for recess for 10 years. I may well continue the Daily Sandwich tradition when J starts Primary School in two years’ time. But yeah, that won’t stop me from making sure that my kids have awesome looking lunches.

Addendum:

Okay okay, you gotta check out these kiddie bentos by Justina from Mum in the Making. Not only does she style the food beautifully, but each meal has an educational component as well!


1. One of the reasons why I did not become a surgeon. I’d probably drop my scalpel right in there and spend most of my operating time just…fishing around..

More Cardboard Fun – Star Trek Cutout Photo Booth

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Look! I’m a green lion!

So, continuing my series of recycled cardboard crafts, here’s another one that I made.

Mum bought a new vacuum cleaner and I cannibalised part of the box to make the roof of the space rocket. I still had these cardboard panels leftover which had holes in the middle.

I didn’t have any plan for them, but J got them out of the store cupboard and was running around the house, playing peek-a-boo with it. Then, he put his face to the hole and started pretending to be a green lion (rarrrr Mummy rarrrr!).

This gave me an idea.

I got out one of my sharpies and doodled on the blank side of the panels. Now J can be a pirate, or a surfer! Cool, huh?

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Say ‘Arrr’ or ‘Cowabunga’!

J was really happy that I took his brilliant idea seriously in making this collaborative craft. He was very proud of himself for coming up with the idea!

Anyway, I thought to myself, why stop there? MAKE. IT. SO.

Which is how I came up with this Star Trek-themed cutout, featuring two of our favourite Starfleet officers (and the different Starships that they captained). I used a black sharpie to draw the pictures, and then painted it using tempera paints.

I think it’ll make a great prop for a party photo booth!

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J says ‘Engage!’.

Introducing Pets to Kids (or the other way round)

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J getting to grips with rodents and lagomorphs

Meimei, I gotta say that I am really intrigued by the political situation in your rat cage! I can’t believe that Turnwise and Widdershins tried to stage a coup. I hope poor Alarum is recovering well from this recent assassination attempt.

Now, I have been told that fancy rats like Alarum actually make great first pets, as they are gentle, friendly and much easier to handle and care for than smaller rodents such as hamsters or mice. Rats also bond with their owners in the same way that a dog will so that they can be trained to do simple tricks and will even approach their owners to be cuddled.

J and Little E are still too young to be responsible for the care of a small ratty critter. In any case, I don’t think we have a suitable place for pets in our home anyway. However, this does not stop us from finding opportunities to allow the kids to interact with animals.

I think that it is important for the children to learn how to handle and care for little creatures, as it gives them confidence and a sense of responsibility at a young age. It is also great way for to encourage gentleness and kindness.

We have been very fortunate to be in contact with people who own kid-friendly pets. J has played with mice (at your house), rabbits and guinea pigs (at my in-laws place), and both he and Little E have been in contact with friendly dogs living in our neighbourhood.

At the moment, both J and Little E express a great love for cats – probably because cats are quieter than dogs and appear less intimidating.

J’s current ambition in life is to own a marmalade kitten. He has already decided that he will adopt a kitten from a rescue organisation like the SPCA, instead of direct from a breeder.

My in-laws have a cat, a timid, nervous little black puss named Poppy. They learned to step quietly and talk softly to Poppy, who long-sufferingly allows them to gently stroke and pet her (she normally shies away from children). It was amazing watching my normally loud and active little girl, quietly whispering to a purring cat.

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Little E gets up close and personal with Poppy the Cat

The kids also help to feed the fish at their grandparents’ house (you know our dad just loves goldfish and koi). They even assist Ah Kong in changing the tank water, which is nice and messy fun for them.

At school, J helps to feed the rabbits and his classroom even keeps a vivarium with stick insects in it.

When we visit the zoo, I try to encourage them to hold and touch reptiles under the supervision of the keepers. I have no idea what I will do if either of them decide that they want to keep a terrarium of snakes or lizards. Or frogs. Probably smile and nod but scream internally.

I am really looking forward to the day when we can pick out a pet together as a family – but until then, we shall live vicariously through your rat-keeping!