Celebrating the lunar new year with some koi jelly

For everyone celebrating the lunar new year, here’s wishing you a year of abundant grace, love, wisdom and growth.

The eve of Chinese New Year is when we have reunion dinners with our families and I decided to contribute some agar agar and konnyaku jelly for dessert. (This is after my siblings pretty much vetoed a lot of food suggestions I offered to bring for the meal – as it turns out, no one ever says no to dessert!)

My mum had a koi fish jelly mould and so I decided to try my hand at making these jelly desserts in the shape of koi fish. I ended up going to get smaller moulds too just for fun!

It was a bit scary as I was making jelly for the first time ever and half kicked myself for deciding to take on a more ambitious project instead of making regular agar agar jelly in a container with no additional colours.

Thankfully it all worked out… Phew!

This was the large koi jelly:

koi jelly agar agar But I really loved the smaller ones:

koi jelly agar agar
koi jelly agar agar
koi jelly agar agar … 

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Coming to terms with being a (work-at-home) mum

It’s been ages since I’ve last posted. Things have been ramping up over at Aide de Camp once I sorted out the whole “being a mum” thing. (Just kidding – I’m still working things out but I’ve since learnt how to deal with much less sleep and much more juggling).

I’ve missed crafting, design and make-up a whole ton but I’ve had to prioritize family over work over fun-on-the-side and so the blog naturally gave way to the more important things in life.

Now that things are settling down, I’m back! Along the way, I’ll be posting up on some weekend projects I’ve done just to keep the creative juices flowing (and sometimes out of necessity – see a post on fabric chair slipcovers coming up).

Thank you to everyone who still visits this site and leaves words of encouragement or little thank yous for my previous DIY posts. My heart has always been with sharing on this blog but I couldn’t get to it any earlier.

Now back to the title of this post… Since having a baby, I’ve been struck with many realisations that I never thought I’d experience in this lifetime. Before we had this little one, I always thought of having a kid as the five to six year old stage where we would be doing crafting or cooking together but I never had any inkling of what baby care in the first one or two years would look like. (I thought I did from the moments I had caring for my brother who is ten years younger than I am, but clearly I didn’t remember much!)

baby Z

How he sleeps with his leg up, I have no idea.

In the first place, I still can’t believe I’m a mum. Neither can my relatives, nor people who meet me for the first time (they think I’m still a student based on my small frame and baby face I suppose?). It’s been 9 months or so and it still hasn’t sunken in.

It occurred to me that I’ve always seen mums as people who are perhaps older, more mature, wiser, more nurturing and ones who have the answers to everything from cooking recipes to the best way to get something clean – oh my goodness, basically the typical, traditional stereotypes of a mum. (And to be fair, my mum and my mum-in-law always seem to have the answers to everything!)

When I had baby Z (or so my husband likes to call him), I didn’t know how to wash things properly; I didn’t know how to cook many dishes; I still felt like going out to play; I didn’t feel like the sacrificial, ever-loving, ever-knowing type of mum that I thought all women magically morph into. I struggled with the idea of bringing baby Z to childcare so I could work more, and struggled with the guilt of not being able to spend as much time with him as possible.

baby z and laundry

Baby Z playing around while I fold the laundry

I’ll admit – prior to this, I never had any in-depth conversations with other mums and so my impression of mums was stuck in the stone ages. Since his birth, I’ve had many more conversations with fellow mums around my age – from how to get our babies to sleep better at night to our ideal work arrangements and the list goes on. I subscribed to newsletters from all types of motherhood and baby sites and suddenly I entered this whole new realm and became an “insider”.

… 

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Recommended books for your relationship

My husband and I have recently passed the one year mark of our marriage (woohoo!). I know it’s just the start of a life long commitment but I had always heard that the first year was the toughest. Thankfully we made it through without any major hiccups and it’s been such a blessing having my husband around everyday (and not just for getting rid of insects…)

wedding photos | micheleng.com We’ve definitely had our share of disagreements – especially with the baby’s arrival – but a few books we read before our engagement and wedding really helped adjust our perspectives to make our first year of adjustments much easier.

I’ve been sharing this list with a lot of friends and thought I’d post it here in case anyone else finds it useful. These aren’t in any order of preference as we found each book helpful in its own way…. 

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A cheap, easy way to decorate your nursery

This post is several months overdue but am glad I’m finally getting down to sharing it!

In my last month of pregnancy, I finally got down to thinking about decorating our nursery. It was definitely low on my priority list compared to getting baby necessities, household chores and managing the business. What’s more, all the baby purchases started to add up despite having gotten several items second-hand or borrowing them from friends.

To help manage with the costs and not wanting the nursery to be over decorated, I decided to come up with a simple way to add a little something extra to the baby’s room.

cheap and easy nursery decor … 

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A quick daily cleansing routine

As a former freelance make-up artist, I’ve always felt the foundation to a great look is good skin. Despite hectic schedules in the past, I’d always found time to do a multiple step cleansing and beauty routine for my skin. That is, until our baby arrived.

Previously, time had always been in my control at the start of the day and while winding down at night. Now things are pretty different. Isaac hasn’t quite developed his own timing to the tee so everything I do has to be quick in case he starts crying. (I’m still working on my soft spot for baby cries and it’s hard for me to fight the urge to rush to his side when he wails…) To be honest, as a new mum I can hardly tell the difference between the end of the day and the start of the night and live in two to three hour intervals.

To save time (and money) on my daily cleansing routine, I’ve recently switched it up to the following:

Quick face cleansing routine and products

1. Face and body wash: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
2. Face exfoliator: Philosophy Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash
3. Moisturizer: Burts Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream… 

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