Saturday, 21 June 2014

Anger is never without reason, but seldom with a good one.

Anger is never without reason, but seldom with a good one - Benjamin Franklin

Anger is an emotion which comes forth without any caution and can easily overwhelm a person. It is able to change your mood and behaviour instantaneously- increased heart rate, blood pressure and levels of adrenaline.

At most times than not, it usually correlates with yelling, a brute impulse act or fleeing (fight or flight). However, it is containable with some logic which is considered the opposite of emotion - Wikipedia

So at any given time, anger must not be fuelled or dealt with anger, but by being mindful and with empathy. Sounds pretty straight forward, don't you agree?

To many, the answer may be a resounding YES but I on the other hand, am constantly battling with it. Anger looms over me and threatens to strike at the slightest misdemeanour because life is like a box of chocolates, when you have a toddler who just plummeted into the terrible twos and a couple of
confused tweens.

Every day was a game of batting and balling with tantrums, power struggles and autonomy.
If yelling and raising my voice worked, I need not repeat it a zillion times!

I used to get annoyed and upset watching my kids bicker, scuffle and mess up the house. My calm requests to stop the nuisance always ended up falling on deaf ears, until my monstrosity act of turning green like the Hulk.

Each time I start yelling, they pay attention to me and peace is conjured. However, this "peace" is short lived because it always ends in regret, remorse and leaves me with a pounding headache.

At each scream fest, I catch myself periodically saying to them " had you listened to me, I would not have to yell!

Communication is the key (it's not only what you say but how you say it matters)

Apparently, kids whether tweens or toddlers are as busy as adults. They too have a lot on their minds and with completely different set of priorities They may not understand why it is so important to shower immediately or wash their feet after visiting the park. Some children who might acknowledge your orders which were barked from across the room, might respond with "yes mummy, I am going to" or "I am coming" and half an hour later you'll find her still in the living room (a recipe for disaster)

Perhaps it was time to change the approach to yield different results. Perhaps by treating them how you would a colleague at workplace or engaging them in a conversation to let them know your intention might work better than ordering them. So now I try to start by saying, "can I tell you something?" seems always to work and once you have eye contact, say what you wanted them to do. They will know you mean business. But if your child is still doing what she was, chances are you will lose the plot and be tempted to scream "didn't I tell you to shower, like an hour ago!? Go now!", from the kitchen where you are hurriedly preparing dinner because you overslept during your nap, thanks late night blogging!

Let me, let you in a secret. It never works! Screaming does not work. Even with a thundering loud voice, you cannot move or make your children do what you wanted them to do. No amount of nagging helps either because from my experience, nagging is an opportunity for my kids to shut-off and they do it so well that I am fooled into believing they were paying attention to my words with their eye contact and head nodding but in reality, they were not listening to a word I said.

New Approach

We know that spanking doesn't work and timeout is kind of a mixed bag," says Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin. However, "We know that reasoning does work," she says.

After my melt down, I resorted to getting help from Uncle Google and this stood out the most, a quote by Haim G. Ginott:



"When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.

When a child hits and adult, we call it hostility.

When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.

When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline."

In the name of discipline, I was punishing my children! Screaming or hitting are equally bad and I was guilty of it. I knew I had to stop because my kids were growing faster than I expected. The day they are capable of walking out on an argument or disagreement is not very far and I don't want that to happen, ever!

So my new approach is to treat them like little adults.

I remind myself (constantly) there is no such thing as a misbehaving child. That she is only doing what she was made to do at her age or reacting to her environment (you cannot expect a child not to go crazy in a candy store).

So now we try to set reasonable rules which are revealed well in advance to my children. I have stopped saying "if you break this rule, this will happen", instead I say " I trust you will be able to adhere to these rules and if not, let's set rules which we both can agree to".

This gives the child a sense of power and the chances of her breaking her own rule is minimal and if it does happen, we have a brainstorming session over dinner and discuss what went wrong. Sending her to her room to think about her actions never worked because her room was a wonder world, full of toys and books to occupy her time instead of thinking about her actions.

I spent many years as a public school teacher and over the course I had developed a difficult to shake-off habit: I love giving instruction which always ends with a condescending “Do you understand?” With a strong-willed child at home, this kind of language does not work well because she hates to be instructed. So there is no opportunity for me to ask, if she understood. So I had to come up with clever ways of letting my children think it was their idea. Once they believe it was their idea, they will do almost anything wholeheartedly.

It was tough getting my 8 and 9 year old ready whenever we needed to go out. So nowadays they decide how and when they will get ready for an outing. I have taken them out looking like they just got out of bed, although deep down I was cringing at the sight of their messy hair and torn pants. They weren't too bothered in the beginning but after bumping into their friends numerous times, they are more presentable and ready for an outing nowadays, usually faster than I.

The only way to fend off negative behaviour is through communication and bear in mind, when communicating with our mini-me we must do it respectfully, by treating them like adults. It has to be related to them otherwise they cannot understand the importance of the rule being discussed. Which brings us back to being creative. It must also be reasonable, something that they are capable of performing with minimal help and needs to be repeated subtly so we don’t like a broken record.

Most of you must have heard this advice numerous time, I know I had and I never took it seriously then. But it works! Or at least it has been working for me thus far.


This article was featured in Babytalk June 2014 issue.

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Friday, 20 June 2014

Be A Star while doing some charity

10 more days to go before Johnson's baby of the year contest comes to an end. Have you submitted your entry yet? If you have not, what are you waiting for!?

This year's contest is very different as it is Not-Just-Pretty-Face they are searching but a whole lot more. This year Johnson has gone bigger and bolder with more criteria and more prices to be won.

Participating is very simple and at a click of a button.
You don't need to post your baby pictures, you can if you want to but why bother with the hassle of printing your pictures and rushing over to a post office to mail your entry. Instead submit your entry at  their Facebook page (

And remember each entry you submit, RM1 goes to a charitable cause.
To date, Johnson have collected RM17,396 and they are hoping to reach RM20,000

All the best and see you at the finals!!!

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Now you can follow me by email (fill email address here) to get new post notifications delivered directly into your mailbox or you could follow my Facebook page Life Simplified to get more recipes and tips in making life a little more laid back or we can connect via twitter.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Recipe : Yogurt Power


To make this luscious and thick yogurt you will need:
2 1/2 cups of full-fat or full cream milk
2 heaping tbs of yogurt (yogurt starter)

I used a milk powder yogurt starter and the results was creamy, smooth and thick yogurt. Don't worry if you don't have a powder-milk based starter, you can always add 1-2 tbs of dry/powder milk to get this consistency.

Check out my homemade yogurt in a jar, turned upside down and you can see how it did not slide down onto the lid.

You can use whichever container you find convenient and each has its own benefit. I have in steel pot, enamel bowl, recycled the store bought yogurt container and in jars.

Making it in a steel pot was most convenient because there wasn't much washing up to do later. I heat milk in the pot, left it to cool a little, then scooped out two big ladle of warm milk and mix to combine the starter, pour this back into the pot, gently stir and let it sit somewhere warm until yogurt was formed. But the drawback, my kids would stir too much when scooping out yogurt from it.

The next option was to make it in medium sized jars. Although it's not as convenient as steel pot option but I liked having the option of making different types of yogurt, from plain to flavoured and one jar would usually be enough for all of us at meal time.  You can purchase some mason jars for this but I just recycled my jam jars. The best for me.


Bring milk almost to boil but DO NOT boil it. You will see the milk start to froth, signalling that milk has reached the desired temperature. This process will prevent any unwanted bacteria from growing and to denature the protein so it can thicken the yogurt. (If you have a thermometer it should reach 85'C (160-180'F).

Remove from heat and let it cool down to 45'C (110'F) - as warm as the milk you would make for your baby.
Then take half cup of warm milk and stir it well with the starter (add dry milk powder here). Pour this mixture back into you pot of warm milk and stir gently to mix. Then divide equally into jars or just leave it in the pot, whichever suits you. Put the lid on gently and cover with tea towels.

I like to cover my warm pot and jars with a thick layer of towel and keep it wedged between hot water kettles for 4-6 hours. Some like to put their yogurt container  in an heated oven (switched off once it has heated up) with the oven door slightly ajar for 4-5 hours or until the milk sets and magically transforms itself to yogurt.

Once it is ready, keep it refrigerated and it can stay good for a couple of days to weeks, if it survives that long!. Once it becomes too sour, that's a sign that your yogurt has past its expiry date but don't discard it. Use it for your hair or leather it onto your face. Makes a great facial pack.

One important thing, don't pour away the whey liquid that separates from your yogurt because it is full of protein. Instead add this liquid to your smoothies, bread or even your curries.
 I usually add it to my wheat flour when I am making roti. This gives the roti some air and makes it very soft and fluffy. This my friends, is my mother-in-law's secret in whipping out soft like tissue roti every time.

Almost jelly like consistency in my steel pot

Whey- The liquid which is full of protein.

If your first attempt fails, don't be disappointed and keep trying. You will eventually get it and once you do, you will realise how much cheaper and better making your own yogurt is, you may not want to purchase it anymore.

What to do with so much yogurt!

The options are limitless. Here are some ways I use yogurt.

Eat it straight out of the jar
Plain yogurt rice
Yogurt popsicle
Carrot yogurt rice for the kids

Overnight oats


Pretty pink smoothie

Raita with fresh vegetables

Fruit salad

Passion fruit lassi
For more recipes, please head over to my Recipes page

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Monday, 9 June 2014

Recipe: As easy as ABC (Philips)

There are many types of soups available in the market. Long time ago, I only knew one type of soup, mushroom soup and cherished every last drop of it each time we were lucky enough to visit Pizza Hut. Although I was quite familiar with noodles soups, I never thought much about the stock that was used to make these noodles taste simply divine. To me soup meant something creamy, coloured and smooth.

Now that I am more aware of food as I am actively involved in the process of making it for my family, my knowledge of soup has developed. I know now about cold soups, clear soups, creamy soups, hot soups and more. I even have with me, a Bible of Soups! A cookbook which shares thousands of recipes on soups.

But, it all goes back to basics. No doubt, having the ability to make different kinds of soups is handy but I have learned that my kids enjoyed most, the simple and easy to prepare clear soup which requires only a handful of easy to get ingredients. This simple soup which is packed with wholesome goodness and can be stretched to create more complex dishes.

ABC Soup

They are many versions to how this soup got its name, to name a few,
  1. you will get your Vitamins A, B and C from carrots, potatoes and onions that are used to make this soup
  2. it is as easy as ABC to make this soup
  3. it is very popular amongst the American-Born-Chinese
and my personal reason...because my butcher (an old lady whom I dearly call aunty) told me the letters ABC represent the basic ingredients required to make this soup are "A-nion, B-otato and Carrot". I did not want to argue nor point out her spelling error because 1, she was holding a cleaver when she shared her wisdom and 2, she is my source to many wonderful  and traditional recipes.
So there you have it, some reasons to why this very popular and kid friendly soup is called ABC.


2 medium sized onion, peeled
2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2-3 carrots, cut into thick chunks
2-3 tomatoes, slit
500 gm. chicken breast and bones or pork ribs
Salt and pepper to taste (to be added after the soup is ready)
Enough water to just cover these ingredients
*Optional add-ins
100gm Enoki or other organic mushroom
1 large corn


Blanch the chicken and add all ingredients except salt and pepper into pot. Add the water and select the right function (soup). It takes about 20 minutes to get this dish ready.

Few things to note
If you are already familiar with making this soup on stove top, remember to reduce the amount of water used when using a pressure cooker. This because unlike stove-top cooking, which takes over 2 - 2 1/2 hours, there is no opportunity for water to evaporate when cooked using Philips electric pressure cooker.

What I like about this nifty gadget

It is able to cook all the dishes (soup and rice) I am used to on stove top but at a fraction of the time. It also is able to conceal and lock in the nutrients, thanks to the short cooking time.
In the past, I had to make the soup ahead of time and heat it up when my kids were back from school but nowadays I just time it so it will be ready when they are back and we get to drink a bowl full of freshly made hot delicious soup.

How to stretch this soup
  1. You can use this soup as a base for your pasta or noodles.
  2. Remove the chicken and onions from this soup and blend the rest of the vegetables. Add some cream to it and let your young child enjoy this meal. For those capable of biting and chewing, you may want to serve it with a lightly buttered toast.
  3. You can use the tomato and chicken breast to make a sandwich for yourself. Just tear up the chicken and mix it with some mayonnaise (or yogurt, if you want to reduce the calories). Slice the tomatoes. Spread the chicken on a slice of bread, add some salad/lettuce, the tomatoes and sprinkle salt and pepper on it.

One dish, two meals

Somehow, I am not a big fan of clear soups. I don't mind it with noodles but not to drink it own its own. On the other hand, my children are not too fond of the ingredients in the soup but would gladly slurp the soup. So, not wanting to let these expensive (organic produce are expensive) ingredients go to waste and because I was running late, I used it to fix myself a quick but satisfying lunch.
Egg-Mayo sandwich for busy and hungry moms

Used some of the ingredients from the soup

Add some mayonnaise, salt and freshly ground pepper

I sometimes keep this egg-mayo in my fridge and use it to make egg-mayo sandwich for my kids to take along to school, the next day.


Product Specifications:

  • 14 cooking menus
  • Non-stick pot
  • Comes with a ladle, spatula and measuring cup
  • Preset-timer of 24 hours
  • Keeps food warm for up t 12 hours
  • The pressure valve is auto-release to ensure safety during cooking.
Retail Price : RM499

Disclosure : I have not received any compensation writing this review. I did receive a demo electric pressure cooker (which has been returned) to help me share my experience using it. This article was featured in Babytalk magazine (June 2014 issue)

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