Digital Delights: Making Photo Cubes for Friends and Family


Only a few short years ago, most of our homes were typically filled with photos being displayed on walls and tabletops. Nowadays, most of us take digital photos and many of our treasured images are stored on a computer, we don’t always get to look at them as often as we would like.

Why not bring some photos back on display! Transform your digital delights into attractive photo cubes and display them around the home, office and it also makes thoughtful present to your friends and family.

It is also a great creative activity to do with toddlers!

Step 1: Picking the right pictures

Decide on the theme you want on your photo cube or who you want to feature in the photos. You could make one just for a single child or a family cube with everyone featured.

You will need a total of ten images, eight square ones that are the equivalent length of two cubes and another two images that are the equal to the length of four cubes and the height of two.

When putting your images together, you can also add texts to mark a special date or to tell a story. This can be done on the computer before you print them out. 

This step is pretty straightforward. There are plenty of different instructions available on the internet if you want some extra guidance on printing out your images onto the self-adhesive sheet.


Step 2: Touch up your photos

There is really no end to your creativity when it comes to adding designs on your photo cubes. Your cube will only be as good as your photos so touch them up a little to bring out their best.

Most computers these days come with basic photo editing software. These softwares usually let you experiment with different effects, shades and filters. You can usually adjust the brightness and contrast and you can even try black and white or sepia on your photos for that vintage or rustic effect. Depending on the software you can also add captions or text.

If you want to try a more advanced photo editing, but do not want to spend on a high end software suite, try a free open source program like GIMP. This software is easy to install and to use. It even has advanced photo editing capabilities that would make the professionals blush. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can help you get going.

Step 3: Get creating

Here are a few things you need to get creative with your digital photos:

1. Self-adhesive full-sheet labels that you can print out your images on. Make sure these are for inkjet printers.
2. Wooden blocks that will be transformed into a photo cube - available at Daiso.
·     3. A box cutter or scissors to cut the adhesive paper.
·     4. A ruler
·     5. A printer

Make sure you printer ink levels are adequate and that you don't need to replace an Epson ink cartridge (or whatever brand you are using). When you are ready to go, start printing out your chosen photos.

Step 4: Decorating the cube

Take your time lining up the images before sticking them onto the cube, so that you are happy everything is in the right place.

There are online tutorials if you want some visual guidance on how to do this.

Making photo cubes can be a lot of fun especially when you get a few of the younger family members involved. It is a great way of remembering treasured moments with the loved ones. 

Try it this weekend!

Author Bio:
John Sollars started his company in 2002 and has watched the printing industry evolve over time. With a passion for writing and for helping people, he likes to share what he has learned over the years. Look for his illuminating posts on many websites and blogs.

Photo Credit: poplinre via Compfight cc

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A Long Ass Post About Turning 36


So I turned 36 a couple days ago. How do I feel about being 36? It's pretty much the same as the year before.

I feel that while I've grown wiser (I hope!) from year to year, I'm still the same little girl at 12 years old. Not mentally nor physically, but with the same values and aspirations for life. At times, I feel like I'm pretending to be an adult. That I'm still the same 12 year old and an impostor in a 36 years old body. I playing a role - that I'm supposed to be a certain way but what do I know for sure? Anyone has felt the same?

It's funny that I feel more of a connection to my teenage self than to my twentyish-year-old self. After more than two decades of discovering and reinventing who I am, I find myself exactly at where I'd imagined myself at 36 when I was a little girl - married to a wonderful husband and having 2 kids.

I realised I'm extremely blessed to have a close knit family despite our distance geographically and a few very close friends, near and far. I know I can count on them when I need them.

Every year, I'm surprised that more than a hundred people wish me happy birthday via Facebook, Instagram and private messages. Granted, they get a reminder on Facebook but the very act of spending a few seconds to type a birthday message just for me, touch me tremendously.

Maybe because I'm terrible with birthdays and even with Facebook reminders, I mostly can't be bothered to write a simple note. I'm terrible, I know. That's why I'm convinced that people are going to stop sending me birthday wishes eventually. But they didn't and for that, I'm humbled and honoured.

My 2015 in review

Last year I wrote about choosing the word 'Quality' as a defining word for the year. I think I've done pretty well.

I stuck to my rule of saying yes only when my gut says, "Hell yeah". Because of that, I declined many events last year. I've also turned down many collaboration opportunities because of the same reason. Some brands or products are just not right for my readership. If I feel like I don't have much to contribute to a topic, I'd said no too.

By saying 'no' more often, it has allowed me to spend most of my time with my family and on things that matter.

Last year was a year of discovery when it comes to my maternity concierge business and my blog. I think I have a clearer idea of who is reading the blog and what my clients need.

I didn't spend a lot of time with friends last year, but when we did catch up, I had really good times. I'm glad I agreed to be one of my best friend's bridesmaid at her wedding in Malaysia. I had the best of time just being there for her and seeing other friends that I've not met for a very long time.


It hasn't been all rosy either. I had a fall-out with a friend last year. It still hurts. Falling out with a friend is just as painful as breaking up with a boyfriend; even though the only thing we had in common was memories from when we were in our twenties. I'm no longer the same person.

The experience taught me that some people don't change and we are not in the position to try to change them. Being completely honest can hurt people and not everyone can handle the truth. I should have known better. Nick summed it up in a good way. The friendship was already dying. It's just too bad that it ended the way it did. I wish her well.

My 2016

The biggest change in routine so far has to be the fact that Lauren has started preschool. My mornings aren't free and easy anymore. I'm still trying to fit work and house errands in between dropping her off and picking her up.

Georgia has also grown into her own person. I'd like to spend more one on one time with her too.

As for my husband Nick, I'd like to have more date nights with him. We have so much to talk about but we are constantly being interrupted by the kids. Some alone time would do us good. I'm also not ruling out getting pregnant again this year!


For the blog and the baby planning business, I'll continue to produce useful content and develop products/services that enable mothers to be their best, confident and fulfilled self. That's my motto anyway. I haven't figured it all out but if you have any ideas, drop me a line and we'll chat!

I'd like to continue some of the habits I've picked up last year, like talking/texting my family in overseas more often. It's could be just a simple hello, how are you and sometimes, it's a photo of the girls doing something silly. But whatever it is, it makes us feel close to each other and keeps conversations going.

Looking ahead, I'd like my year to be productive and hereby declare my word for 2016: Progress.

What's your defining word for this year?

PS: If you are not following me on Instagram, here's a good reason to start now. In partnership with TONI&GUY, we are giving a follower a hair makeover worth $500. Head over to my account to find out more!

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Working While Pregnant: All Your Questions Answered


While many women embrace pregnancy as an opportunity to stop working, many others are keen to stay in their jobs. Whether it’s concerns about money, career ambitions, or just fear of being bored, there are lots of reasons why an expectant mother would want to keep working. 

The good news is, working while pregnant isn’t as difficult as you might have thought. Read on to find out more.

Can I work the whole time I’m pregnant?

If you work in a safe environment that doesn’t put too much stress on your body, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t work right up until your due date. If you work in a more physically demanding career, then you should get advice from your doctor – but it’s likely that you’ll have to scale down your work or start maternity leave early.

Are there any kinds of pregnancy-related complications that might stop me from working?

Yes, however these probably won’t become a problem until later on in your pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure or you’re at risk for pre-eclampsia, then you may be instructed to stop working and rest up as much as possible. If there are any reasons why you may deliver early (e.g. twins), then you may have to take time off in advance of your due date.

What should I do if I get morning sickness at work?

Unfortunately, there’s no way around morning sickness, and if you have a full-time job it’s likely to affect you while you’re working (despite the name, the nausea can hit at any time of day). Some women find that snacking throughout the day helps to soothe their nausea (salted crackers and ginger ale can both help), but it’s not always easy to avoid sickness completely. The best thing you can do is keep bags, mouthwash, a toothbrush and paper towels with you at work, and to head home if you're feeling really unwell.

What’s the best way to stay comfortable and healthy at work?

Contrary to what you might have heard, pregnant women should not spend all their time sitting or lying down. If your job involves a lot of sitting, then make an effort to do some light exercise over the course of the day – just walking around the office and doing a few stretches can really help. You should also make sure you have a comfortable chair, and that you eat regularly and drink plenty of water.

How do I broach the subject of maternity leave?

Just be open and honest! Establish a maternity calendar with key dates, and work out in advance how much time you want to take off. Once you know when you want to leave and when you want to return, fill your employer in on the details at least a month before you intend to start maternity leave. Let your co-workers know that you’re not checking out of the job totally, but that for the next few months or so you’ll be focusing on yourself and the baby.


The most important thing to remember is that your health and safety always come first – if you’re getting run down or stressed out, it might be time to go on maternity leave. Then again, if you feel happy and healthy, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep on working.


*Images by Pixabay used under the Creative Commons license.

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Lauren Started Kindergarten + Tips For First Day At Preschool


My first child, Lauren started nursery at a kindergarten early this week. We confirmed the admission before we left for our month long Sydney holiday. So we had plenty of time to mentally prepare her.

You see, I've read countless blog posts on how emotionally draining it can get for parents when a child goes to preschool for the first time. And I've read even more articles on how to prepare the little ones who have yet to experience school or childcare centre of any kind.

I totally get how it can be a frightening experience for toddlers to watch their parents leave them in a strange new place with unfamiliar adults and many children of their own age.

The Experts' Tips

Here are some of the tips that I had planned to follow to ease Lauren into the new routine and environment:

 - Most preschools allow the 3 days transition period. My intention was to stay in class with Lauren on the first day, stay on the second day but step away from the class every now and then, and drop her off by the third day.

 - I had been assuring Lauren that if I had to leave, I will definitely be back to pick her up at the end of the day. I was to be firm about having to leave but assure her that I will be back. 

- Do not attempt to ‘sneak away’ when a child is immersed in an activity with her class teacher. If she unexpectedly discover my absence, feelings of being abandoned may arise and she might panic and lose any trust she has built with the teachers. Future attempts to re-introduce her to the same environment may prove twice as hard as the previous memory of being left behind will resurface. 

- Build a positive rapport with the class teacher. By demonstrating that I have a good bond with the class teacher, my kid will be more inclined to trust this adult, too.

- Stay positive and calm! This is very important, as my child will pick up on my feelings.

But I was also totally ready for my clingy daughter to bawl her eyes out. I thought I would even teared a little about leaving my child on her own for the very first time in both our lives.

But none of that happened.

Lauren's first day at kindy....

We were early on the first day. While I expected to see little children running everywhere and chaotic parents trying to calm their kids down, what greeted us was a calm and quiet drop off area. We sat and watched parents dropping their kids off one by one and none of the kids were crying. Instead, they greeted the teachers (in mandarin, no less!), got their temperature taken, sanitised their hands and sat quietly for everyone to arrive.

As for Lauren, she sat with us and when it was time to enter the classroom, she held on to my hands and asked me to come with her. I stayed with her on her first day, but the impatient me had also tested the second day method of stepping away from Lauren a few times.

She was fine. Did not noticed I went away.

More biscuits please!
On the second day, Nick took her to school. I had to take Georgia to her 18 months vaccination appointment at the clinic. About an hour and a half later, I received an sms from Nick saying he left Lauren at the kindergarten when she was preoccupied in class!

I had totally forgotten to inform the husband about the 'no sneaking away' rule! Now, our daughter is ruined! Scarred from the abandonment and would distrust us forever!

When Nick went to pick her up at the end of the day, I was ready to hear that she was crying and upset about him leaving her earlier. But when they got home, they were all smiles. Nick said Lauren did not cry at all.

The third day came and on the way to school, I told her once we get there, she will go to class with her friends and stay with the teachers. I will go home and pick her up at the end of the day.

She said okay. No hesitation. My baby is okay with me leaving her.

I felt a hint of disappointment that my baby didn't need me as much as I thought. I consoled myself by thinking maybe she didn't understand me.

We got to school. When it's time to say goodbye, I told her, "You go to class by yourself and mummy will pick you up when school ends, okay?"

With a nod from her, she jumped off her chair and ran off to class! No bye-bye or kisses for dear old mummy.

I was proud and sad at the same time. Proud that my baby girl has grown up and confident to be on her own. But it also marked the end of mummy-daughter tied at the ankles stage of our lives.

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Step Into The New Year With Minorsteps


For the longest time, Lauren only had a pair of sneakers and a pair of flip flops to go with everything, from princess dresses to t-shirt and jeans. She wears those same shoes to our local wet market and to weddings in 5 stars hotels.

Why did I deprived her from having more pairs of shoes? Let me tell you why.

Firstly, it's hard to take her shoe shopping. She is always attracted to those ghastly and not to mention, expensive Frozen themed shoes (no offence, Frozen fans!) and refuse to try on anything else.

Secondly, there are not many shops that sell shoes for baby and toddlers. Even when you manage to find the only outlet in the entire mall that sells children shoes, there are not many sizes available. It's like, "Baby, let's try on this pair of shoes..... Oh sorry, we can't buy them. They don't have it in your size!" And we all know how understanding toddlers are. Crying ensues....

Finally, I simply do not have time to visit shopping centres anymore.

Thank goodness for online shopping

Which is why I'd like to introduce you to minorsteps - an online boutique that specialises in adorable and comfortable footwear for children aged 0 to 8 years old. With price ranging from $39.95 to $89.95, they are very affordable and makes it so easy for busy mums like myself to find something for my kids.

Check out these shoes I got for Lauren and Georgia, which are perfect for Chinese New Year!





minorsteps is founded by Rosie Oliveira, an expatriate mum from Brazil who believes in curating the highest quality shoes and children's products for busy mums like you and me who don't have time to do the research and shopping in-store. All the shoes are anti-slip, super lightweight and very flexible.

Great selection of shoes for Chinese New Year.
If red is not your thing, these cheerful colours are equally as festive. 
How cute are these shoes for boys? There are many more choices on minorsteps to choose from.
What's more. I spied that some of these cute shoes are currently on sale. If you want to find out when the next collection arrives and what goes on sale, remember to sign up for their newsletter.

So head on over to minorsteps to start shopping today. Can you believe Chinese New Year is only 3 weeks away?

minorsteps | Website | Facebook


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Cheongsam

Do you know that cheongsam or qipao was not originally Chinese, but introduced by the Manchu during Qing Dynasty and they implemented laws that required the populace to adopt Manchu clothing and hairstyles?

Be it manchu or han, it now embodies the identity of being Chinese ethnic, thus is widely worn during Chinese New Year and other celebrations. There is something about wearing cheongsam that makes me feel feminine and elegant. I like that it requires simple hairdo and minimal make-up to look done.







I love these cheongsams from Rent A Gown. I have written about them previously here. This time, they have taken on the traditional cheongsam and given it a twist, making these pieces super flattering to wear. Each piece is unique (no worries about running into relatives wearing the same thing!) and lovingly handmade. The cheongsams are available off the rack for sale. Minor alterations are also provided. 

Address: 7500A ParkRoyal The Plaza, #02-343, Beach Road Singapore 199591
Phone: +65 6392 3495

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Heguru Education: What Goes On In A Heguru Class

This is part two of The New Age Parents and Heguru Education series. I'm sharing my Lauren and Georgia's learning experience at their weekly Heguru classes.


We've been attending Heguru classes at Heguru Education Centre at OneKM for more than 4 months now. Luckily for us, the classes for Lauren (aged 3, toddler) and Georgia (aged 1, baby) run concurrently every week. That saves us time but I can't be at both classes at the same time. So my husband, Nick and I take turns to accompany each child.

Attending lessons at Heguru Education

My toddler, Lauren is in the Genius Bee class. The door is clearly labeled with the teacher's and assistant teacher's names.

I still remember my shock during my first trial class. The lead teacher who greeted me sweetly when I arrived, started the class with exuberant cheers and claps. Her voice must have gone up a few decibels too. I was taken aback by how quick the lessons were going. I now learnt that the lessons should be fast-paced and conducted by a teacher with a strong voice. The speed helps to stimulate the right brain while the strong voice helps in maintaining the children's attention for the entire duration of the class.

Class time and teachers

Both classes run for 60 minutes, with two teachers assigned to each class. This is to facilitate a seamless transition of activities and  maintain the high energy level. There are usually 4 to 5 students together with their parents.

I must say the teachers play a big part in making sure the atmosphere and the learning environment is conductive and enjoyable. My girls' teachers are always very welcoming and look genuinely happy to teach the kids. Despite the high speed lessons, the teachers are observant to each child and quick to call them out when they are losing focus. I should know, because my younger girl Georgia sure gets called out a lot.

What goes on in a typical Heguru Toddler class

The objective of the class is to input a stream of information at rapid speed, until the left brain is unable to process the massive influx of data in such a short time. This causes the right brain to be “activated”. Hence, there is a great deal of stimulation happening in that one hour.

Recognise own name card and take seating position accordingly.
Flashcards! Lots of flashcards! The teacher covers each card in a split-second speed, using a loud, dynamic voice.

General knowledge on art appreciation. Getting to know Mary Cassatt and her paintings.
General knowledge on world heritage. Getting to know famous landmarks.
Link memory. Remembering the picture in the correct order by associating it with a make believe story.
Iroita for Lauren. Meanwhile in Georgia's baby class, they use tangram, a bigger wooden blocks in different shapes. These activities reinforce a variety of skills such as fine motor development, mathematical concepts and their ability to problem solve through trial and error.
Linguistic developement. Learning to count in a different language.
Counting 3D blocks. This helps to develop their counting skills as well as their visual and spatial awareness.
Song and movement. Here's the teachers showing how to sing the Aqueous solutions song.
Phonics and writing. This heightens their language capability and word recognition.
Physical exercise
Puzzles
Story telling 
A range of holistic activities (motor, linguistic, musical, spatial, mathematical) are covered in each class. All in all, we do 40 to 50 activities per lesson.

Yes, we go through all that in one class. When I said the pace is fast, I wasn't kidding. But don't worry about the children not being able to follow the lesson, some of the lessons repeat every week for a month or a term so that the children can learn and absorb much better.

Towards the end

At the end of every class, the teacher goes through a quick 'Parents' Lecture' handout explaining purpose of the special activities conducted, how these activities aid in your child's development and how parents can replicate the same teaching method at home. For a mother like myself who sometimes has no idea what to do with my girls, I find this to be extremely helpful.



As for Georgia's baby class, the flow and the pace are the same as Lauren's class. Some lessons like art appreciation, flashcards, songs and story telling/imagination are also the same but the level of engagement and expectation from the children differs between the two ages.

My Children's Progress

Georgia, 1 year old - Baby class
Georgia is a little inconsistent when it comes to paying attention during the class. Some days, she surprises me with her ability to participate in some of the activities which I thought are too advanced for her. She seems to be able to understand the instructions well and complete the tasks set by the teachers. Other times, she is distracted by everything else that goes on in the class, from what the assistant teacher have in her setting up corner to other students's bags. The only thing that is sure to get her attention is music, which is great, because many activities are taught through songs and movement.


Lauren, 3 years old - Toddler class
I must say Lauren has grown leaps and bounds since we started Heguru 4 months ago. From an extremely shy girl who didn't like strangers looking at her, she is growing out of her shell and becoming more confident. She gave both teachers big hugs after just one class! Now, she is participating enthusiastically in class and will even speak out when she knows the answers to the activities.


She is extremely good with puzzles and activities related to visual memory, and enjoys going up to the class during peg memory exercise.

Lauren has also become a better reader. She now reads by using her finger to lead and point at the words, a technique she picked up during class. Whenever we read at home now, she would point at the words and try to read along too.

As for me, besides my daughters learning new things every week, I'm most pleased to see them enjoying their classes. They get very excited every Saturday when we tell them it is going to 'school' day and they can't wait to get to classes.

I'm scratching my head on what to write in part 4 of the series. Please help me by leaving me comments on what you'd like to know about Heguru Education in Singapore. Thank you in advance!

This article first appeared on TNAP e-magazine, Dec15/Jan16 edition. This is the second part of The New Age Parents and Heguru Education series. 

In the next post, I will go in-depth into how some of the lessons are conducted and ways to replicate these lessons at home. 



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42 Eco Friendly All Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make At Home


Happy New Year! I'm dedicating this year to de-cluttering my life, going full force on my career and being eco friendly as much as I can. So I'm starting the year with a blog post how to eliminate those highly toxic cleaning products at home and use eco friendly alternatives that you can make yourself.

Do you know that you don't have to use the highly toxic cleaning products that are sold in stores?

There is a better and safer alternative to them and it is using household ingredients that can be found in every home. Not only making my own all-natural cleaners will save me money, I can also control the ingredients, which allows me to eliminate toxins used in my household.

We have been using vinegar solutions, bicarb soda and lemon in most of our daily cleaning routine for almost 2 years nows. But I've done more research over the holidays and am now more determined than ever to replace all store bought products with all-natural concoctions which are absolutely harmless and eco-friendly.

Some of the basic ingredients you'll need in many of these recipes:

White vinegar
Bicarb soda
Hydrogen peroxide (3% is easily available at Guardian pharmacies, antiseptic aisle)
Lemon

So here you are - 42 all natural homemade cleaners recipes curated from all over the interwebz.

All-purpose cleaners:

1. 3-1 household cleaner
2. Multi-purpose citrus cleaner
3. All purpose cleaner with video tutorial
4. Homemade disinfecting wipes

Homemade laundry detergents:

5. DIY powdered soap nuts
6. Non-toxic concentrated laundry detergent
7. Easy homemade laundry soap
8. Liquid laundry detergent

Homemade stain removers:

9. Homemade Vanish
10. Ink stain remover
11. 1 ingredient crayon remover
12. Set-in stain remover
13. Hydrogen peroxide magic
14. DIY Laundry stain remover

Carpet cleaners:


15. Green carpet stain remover
16. Homemade carpet freshener
17. To clean carpets:
You can make foam for cleaning carpets using liquid soap that is oil based and plain water. Dissolve a quarter cup of the liquid soap in 3 or more tablespoons water. With an egg beater mix and stir the ingredients. With the formed foam rub the dirty areas on the carpet or rug and use water to rinse well.

Furniture polish:

18. Homemade dusting spray
19. To polish furnitures
In a spray bottle mix 2 tablespoons lemon oil with 1 pint mineral oil. Use this solution to spray, polish and wipe clean the wood surfaces. 

20. Wood furniture polish
Mix one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil. Rub the wood furniture with this mixture and let it sit for a few hours. Then use a dry and soft cloth to polish the wood surfaces.

21. To remove water blemishes from wood surfaces
Rub the wood surfaces with toothpaste.

Glass cleaners:

22. No-streak glass cleaner
23. Easy, eco friendly window cleaner

Deodorisers:

24. Two odour eliminating, air freshening sprays
25. Homemade Febreeze
26. Homemade room spray

Kitchen use:


27. Non-toxic oven cleaner
28. Homemade fruit and vegies wash
29. Homemade liquid dish soap
30. Crock pot cleaner
31. Coffee pot cleaner
32. Homemade dishwasher detergent
33. Dishwasher rinse aid
34. Burnt pots and pans cleaner

35. Floor cleaner
Use warm water, vinegar and skim milk. Mix half cup white vinegar with 1 gallon warm water. After mopping the floor with this cleaning solution wait for the floor to dry and polish it with skim milk to make it glow.

Bathroom use:


36. Non-toxic disinfectant
37. Homemade bathroom scrub
38. Green clean toilet
39. Bathroom cleaner
40. Daily shower cleaner

41. To clean ceramic tiles for your bathroom and kitchen
Mix a quarter cup of vinegar with 1 gallon warm water. For the basin, tiles and tubs use a half cup baking soda and 2 to 3 tablespoons peppermint soap. Mix these ingredients well.

42. To remove mildew for bathrooms and kitchens
Plain white vinegar is naturally antimicrobial, so mixing it with 2 parts water and a drop of tea tree oil will rid kitchens and bathrooms of mold and mildew. Pour mixture into a spray bottle and apply anywhere mold and mildew are growing. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe away with a dry cloth or sponge.

Do you have any homemade, all natural cleaning remedies? I'd like to hear.

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The Benefits of Snacking Most People Don't Realise


I lorrrve snacking. In fact, I love little munchies in between meals more than having main meals. Pre-baby, Nick and I loved staying in to watch a good movie on our couch with lots of snacks on hand. Actually, we still do that now, after the kids have gone to bed.


My daughters, Lauren and Georgia have also picked up on the munching habit. Not that I mind it though, it is in fact a healthy habit and there are many benefits to snacking that most people are unaware of:

1. Eating a healthy snack increases our intake of essential nutrients and fiber.

2. It prevents us from becoming too hungry. We all know what happens when we get ravenous; we reach for unhealthy food and tend to overeat our next meal.

3. Regular snacking helps children and adolescents meet dietary recommendations, especially for young children.

4. (I just learned about this last one.) According to the American Dietetic Association, children are able to comprehend and retain information presented in classroom at a higher rate when their bodies are fueled consistently, while adults may find that eating a small snack in the afternoon gets them through their tasks more quickly and efficiently.

So what's my snack of choice?

Raisins.

My trusty blogging companion. Could. Not. Stop. Munching.
Which is why I'm excited to be collaborating with Sun-Maid Raisins on this post.

You see, I have a long relationship with Sun-Maid as a consumer. I remember when I was very little, my mother would buy a pack of Sun-Maid raisins for me every time I accompanied her to the market. I wasn't very fond of going to the wet market to be honest, but I loved getting a packet of raisins as a reward.

During my modeling days, I snacked on raisins backstage when we were all made-up and waiting for the show to start.

Fast forward to more than a decade later, I gave both my daughters Sun-Maid Raisins as their very first snack.



It's 100% natural, preservative free, packed with essential nutrients and oh-so-convenient. I always have a few packets with me for just in case.

Kids get cranky sitting in the stroller - here's a pack of raisins. Kids are hungry after a play session - snack on these raisins. Kids are sharing and playing well together - here's 2 packets as reward. Mummy is stuck in a traffic jam, mummy tears open a pack of raisins...... Well, you get the idea.


But not all raisins are created equal.

You see, during my uni days, I ate a lot of raisins when I had to burn the midnight oil, doing last minute studies before tests and exams. Thinking maybe I could save a few bucks, I bought a certain house brand 1kg pack of raisins because it was cheaper; only to discover it tasted different and was coated in vegetable oil! I learned my lesson and have been a loyal fan to Sun-Maid raisins ever since.

I love that Sun-Maid raisins are naturally dried under the sun for 3 weeks without any preservatives. They have no added sugar, low glycemic index and provide a good source of fibre. Besides, it is practically grapes, without the weight and costs less too.


It is also very versatile. I add raisins into my salads, cous cous and briyani rice, while Lauren and Georgia love finding raisins in their breakfast. I add them into the only thing I 'bake' - my homemade toasted muesli

The Chill Mom's Toasted Muesli Recipe

Here is my basic recipe for toasted muesli. Feel free to add whatever dried fruit and nuts you like. My staple add-on is of course, Sun-Maid raisins :)


Ingredients
3 cups of rolled oats
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped toasted almond
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Instruction

Heat the oven to 150°C. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and sit to combine. Combine all the wet ingredients separately in a smaller bowl. Stir and add the mixture into the large bowl of oats. Mix well until all the oats are thoroughly coated.

Layer a piece of non-stick baking paper on the baking pan. Spread the mixture in a thin and even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, stir and continue baking until muesli turns light golden brown. Keep stirring from time to time to prevent the oats from burning.

Cool the toasted muesli in room temperature. It will harden as it cools, so break up big chunks if you don't like your muesli to get clumpy. Once cooled, add the raisins, nuts and seeds and toss to combine.

Store muesli in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Why pay so much for an expensive store bought granola/toasted muesli when you can easily make it at home?
So tell me, what's your choice of snack and why?

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About Sun-Maid
Since 1912, Sun-Maid has been providing premium quality sun-dried raisins and dried fruits from the farms of California to homes and eating establishments around the world.

Sun-Maid has earned its reputation as “America’s favorite” for raisins and dried fruits. The process of making their raisins requires Natural Seedless grapes – plump and flavorful – and the extended period of drying sun found in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The sweet, sun-ripened grapes are harvested in early autumn and over 90% are sun-dried on paper “trays” in the vineyards. Over a three-week period, the sun dries them into raisins, giving them their dark color and characteristic flavor.

Sun-Maid raisins are available at all major retailing supermarkets in Singapore.

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