DIY butterfly mobile

In my opinion, no nursery is complete without a colourful mobile hanging over the baby's cot. I remember watching Alexander when he was only a wee baby, utterly mesmerized by the animals that swayed gently above him and how when he was tall enough, his many attempts at 'catching' them.

It really is the simplest things that amuse babies, and mobiles certainly don't have to be fancy or expensive to entertain them or bring them joy. In fact, here's a darling little butterfly mobile that you can make in less than an hour using a pair of disposable chopsticks and some old greeting cards.
 All you need is:

A butterfly punch
String
A pair of disposable chopsticks
Old greeting cards (mine are from Tiny Prints)
Scissors
Sticky tape
Method:

1. Punch out butterflies, you'll need about 20-25.
2. Stick around 4-6 butterflies on 5 lengths of string, equal distance apart. Vary the number of butterflies on each string for a more interesting look. Make sure to leave enough string at top to allow for handling and tying.
3.  Place the chopsticks to make a cross and secure tightly with string.
 4. Tight each length of string to the four ends and middle of the cross.

In this moment

reading... Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. What a wonderful way to get acquainted with philosophy, . Finally I'm able to make some sense of the 'subjectivity' course I did during my uni days (Descartes, Foucault, Kant, you sure did my head in at that time!). I'm only halfway through so no spoilers please.

excited about... my parents' visit from Singapore. I know they were only just here last November but we had such a great time and I miss them so much. So we thought it would be nice to catch up again soon.

planning... activities for our upcoming trip to the Hunter Valley when my parents are here.

watching... Revenge season three. Oh the twists and turns have me hopelessly hooked while Stu just shakes his head at the ridiculousness of it all.

dreaming about... random people from my past: childhood friends, primary school teachers, the 7-eleven shopkeeper from whom I used to buy lollies from. Doesn't make any sense.

wishing... I had more energy. I'm getting a good 8 hours sleep everyday but I'm still exhausted all the time.

celebrating... being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes again. Hurray! It's like having a whole new wardrobe to play with. Definitely an upside to having to chase an active toddler around all day.

cooking... various zucchini dishes now that my plants are finally getting the 'fruiting' act together, thanks to hand pollination. Will be sharing some recipes soon, so stay tuned.

feeling... rather chuffed to have found a new use for my test tube vase; to hold herbs in the kitchen, handy to have a beautiful to look at.

loving... my paper peony - a handmade gift from my friend Jen of Papetal. Pretty huh?

Fab five: cleansers for dry skin

When I was a teenager blessed with unblemished, youthful, 'normal' skin type, the perfect cleanser was one that foamed generously, you know, the one that left that squeaky clean feeling. Over the years though, as my skin matured, my preferences for cleansers have taken quite a dramatic change. My dry skin now craves hydration, so milky, creamy concoctions that gently cleans without that tight irritated feeling, work best for me. These are my top picks:
The Body Shop Vitamin E cream cleanser - it is creamy but light and makes removing makeup (even mascara) a breeze and relatively pleasant. I'm not a fan of its smell but am willing to overlook this as it really leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.

Dr Hauschka soothing cleansing milk - late last year, as I was weaning Alex off breast milk I suddenly developed ugly red spots around my mouth which the doctor diagnosed as perioral dermatitis (mostly likely caused by hormonal changes). For days, my skin was stinging, extra sensitive and looked terrible. My doctor told me to lay off make up so I couldn't even cover it up. I started using this cleansing milk and found it immediately provided much needed relief. Its gentle formula cleansed, hydrated and comforted - it was truly a godsend.

Paula's Choice skin recovery softening cream cleanser - it may be called a cream cleanser but it actually has more of a lotion consistency. It does not foam but rinses away well with water. I find it works brilliantly at deep cleansing and removing makeup while leaving skin clean and hydrated.

Avene gentle milk cleanser - my personal winter favourite; when my dry skin gets even dryer in the cold months, I know it's time to reach for this mild, extra gentle no rinse milk cleanser. I simply massage it on with my fingers and remove with cotton pad soaked with toner - it is perfect for cold winter nights when I want to clean my face without having to splash away with water.

Kosmea purifying cream cleanser - the Kosmea brand is new to me but if this product is anything to go by, I'm adding it to my list of trusted skincare brands. Its smooth creamy formula rids skin of dirt and make up while boosting hydration. Chock full of hydrating rosehip oil and avocado oil, this nice smelling cleanser leaves skin soft and fresh.

Have your cleansing needs changed over the years? What are your  current favourite cleansers?

From garden to kitchen: zucchini flower tart

My zucchini plants have been flowering prolifically but rather slow to fruit (only two zucchinis, to be exact). I must admit it has been rather disappointing to see so many flowers just wilt and drop off.  And since I've had enough of letting the flowers go to waste, I found a delicious way to use them.
Zucchini flower tart (makes four 10-cm tarts or one 24-cm tart)

Ingredients
 
1 sheet store bought short crust pastry
100g cream cheese
4-6 zucchini flowers, washed and stamen removed
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon thyme
1 tablespoon grated parmesan

Method

1. Grease and line fluted tart tin(s) with pastry. Trim excess pastry. lightly prick bases with a fork. Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F) and blind bake for 10 minutes or until pastry is cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
2. Place cream cheese, egg, milk, lemon thyme and parmesan in bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Pour into prepared pastry and place 1-2 zucchini flowers on top.

4. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Click here for printer friendly version of this recipe. 

Malolo island resort, Fiji

Late last year, before any of the Holiday madness began, we spent a week in Fiji for a little sunny (or should I say sandy?) getaway.
We stayed at the beautiful Malolo Island resort, a breezy 45 minute boat ride away from Nadi, complete with blue skies, soft sand and a lovely calm beach with no surf. In other words, the perfect vacation spot for our little family of three.
We stayed in an oceanview bure which was literally steps away from the beach. Every morning, eager beaver Alexander couldn't get out of the room fast enough...
Once out, he would spend time digging in the sand with his shovel,

or splashing around in the water and building sandcastles. Then there was the kids club of course, with a pirate ship cubby house that he LOVED.
Babysitting services were available and at such a reasonable rate, so every evening, after Alexander had gone to sleep under the babysitter's watchful eyes, Stu and I snuck out to the adults-only fine dining Treetops restaurant to enjoy our dinner while watching the sunset. Oh bliss! (We love our boy but it was seriously good to take a break from mummy and daddy duties for a few hours each day!)
Oh how we missed our time in Fiji! And it is true - Fiji is a nation full of warm smiles and her people genuinely full of love for little ones. That much was evident from the time we stepped out of the plane at the airport (where people with young children get priority at customs) to the time we waved sad goodbyes to the resort staff at the jetty. Till next time, Fiji! And thank you for your hospitality.