Monday, 17 February 2014

Fending off the Sandman

There are 24 hours in a day and almost a third of that time is spent on sleeping. It is the time for our body to reboot, regenerate and prepare itself to tackle a new dawn. A good night's sleep promises a more active and alert you, so you will be more efficient and effective in executing your daily tasks with less stress and screams.

It is almost like a dominos effect; proper sleep increases energy levels - you are more productive in completing a task - you will have more time on your hands - increased chances of another good night's sleep next time we go to bed and repeat.

I've noticed that with proper sleep I am merrier, less irritable and am able to tackle any tribulation with a sound frame of mind. This sanity accords me the space to fan out my thoughts before trying to solve the distress, instead of hurling painful words and feeling bad about it afterwards because I know the power of words.
Image taken from Wikipedia website
Sleep is important for children too, as it directly impacts their mental and physical development. Getting proper sleep also promises your child to be lot more pleasant and calm.
It also help them to stay focused during playing and learning, and prevent fatigue-induced trips and falls — as well as boost their immune system. I kid you not, I have personally experienced my eldest child who knocked into walls or tripped while walking in my living room when she was sleep deprived.

It is no wonder why parents use the word cranky or too sleepy to describe their children's difficult and unpleasant behaviour. I too have named lack of sleep as the culprit for my child's unpleasant behaviour. My toddler becomes a walking, ticking time boom whenever she doesn't get her 12-14 hours sleep. (That's 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep and a nap, if I am lucky!). However, that hasn't been the case lately and I need to quickly fix this.

Playing mummy with her 'baby'-teddy and getting teddy ready for bed

If you don't take my words on how important sleep is, Google it and you'll find so many websites and organisation that are dedicated to help parents like me, learn how to handle sleep matters. There are also Sleep Foundations which offers details such as the amount of hours an infant, baby, toddler and pre-schooler needs, to tips and advice on sleep issues.

My soon to be 2 years old angel has suddenly (for the past 4 months) decided that she hates to sleep. Any mention or indication of sleep gets her worked up and she will come up with ingenious ways to battle sleep time.

This sort of behaviour is expected so it's good to know that she is doing what children her age do.
Which brings me to this question: Is the infamous "terrible twos" ignited by insufficient sleep?

I think it does play a role because with baby #1, I was by-the-book parent. Following every rule stated, in bringing up my child and placed so much importance on sleep as though her life depended on it. But with child #3, I got a little too lenient and am feeling her wrath due to lack of sleep.

My once angelic and calm baby (she was the calmest baby) has become very difficult to deal with whenever she does not get enough sleep. I too get overly sensitive and cranky when I don't get my dose of beauty sleep.

The solution to this problem is quite simple, ensure your child gets enough sleep but it's said than done.

My simple "go to bed" instruction never worked. Not even with my elder kids and they still require me to be in the same room as them before they can drift off to slumber land.

Not wanting to repeat the same fate with my toddler, I set out to search some professional help in combating sleep related hiccups.

Fending off the Sandman

Sandy, from Rise of the Guardians, an animated fantasy film by DreamWorks

(Toddler sleep problem: my battle and review of expert advice)

Expert advice#1: Make sleep time their suggestion because it's in a toddler's job description to say "NO!" and anything suggested by mummy is usually not a good idea.

So to let them believe that it's their idea to say that it's bedtime, let her choose which pyjama, soft toy & story book they will be taking to bed.

Trouble : it turned into a battle because my toddler is a good negotiator and has the will power and physical strength to cry it out!

She decided mid way she didn't like her pyjama and changed numerous times.

Result: I was left with more clothes to fold and arrange for the night.

The same happened with the storybook. Mid way reading her story to her, she decided she didn't like it and kept requesting for another book.

Result: mummy loses her cool, toddler loses it, pages got ripped off books and flying everywhere in the room. Mummy resorted to threat with a thundering scream, toddler got scared and drifted off to sleep while crying sadly and mummy runs down to find comfort in food.

Expert feedback: Extend the pyjama and book selection process way before bedtime and stick by it and ensure there no other storybooks lying around in her bedroom.

Expert advice #2: They don't want to miss a thing.

My toddler needs all of us to be in the room with her before she can go to bed. Otherwise she will stay awake, in bed, in her dark room singing and calling out for her sisters. So I relented and everyone was forced to drop whatever they were doing and jump into bed or lay on the floor, pretending to sleep while she did her check-rounds by bouncing on each one of us to see if we were still awake.

Result: household chores don't get done and my bed time gets pushed further into the wee hours of the day.

Expert feedback: Give her own room and only have a small bed enough to accommodate her.

Expert advice #3: They miss me (A LOT)

This is my biggest sleep problem. My elder two would do fine without me during the day but at night, they would miss and need me terribly. So while I am struggling to help the toddler drift off to dreamland, they take turns walking into the room for a hug, a kiss and a cuddle.

Result: Toddler doesn't want to sleep because she thinks mummy is scheming with her elder siblings to go downstairs and play with her toys or watch cartoon. Mummy gets a little upset with the disruptions and her numerous  hugs, kisses and gentle whispers turn into coarse threats, making everyone unhappy.

Expert feedback: I should refrain lying in bed with my children. Instead I should tuck them in bed, say good night and wait in the hallway. If one of them walk out of their room, tuck them back in and leave. Keep doing this until they eventually stop coming out or get tired or drift off to sleep.

So here I am, sitting in the hallway for the past hour. Jotting this down as I wait for them to fall asleep. If you've got a better solution or going through what I am, please share with me. It would be good to know, I am not alone and that you'll never walk alone.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

It's my birthday, I want to party


My angel has just turned 2!
For the record we did not celebrate her 1st year birthday so this year's birthday would mark as her first celebration.

What an eventful day!

It started off with glorious breakfast, paratha and dahi (curd) which is every Singh and Kaur's favourite breakfast in and out of Punjab.

After breakfast we listened to lovely kirtan (hymns) sang by her friends. They managed to capture the attention of the sangat with their melodious voices and brilliant play of instruments - violin, guitar and tabla.

Then we had more food for lunch; raajma saag, roti, allu gobi, chawal, sholey and kheer.

Later in the evening, it was back to the gurdwara for more celebration. This time there was a big and bright bonfire which illuminated the whole street. It was a beautiful sight - watching the flickering flame and occasional tiny sparks which separated itself from the bonfire, floating upwards making it look like some fireworks display beneath the cool and slightly wet night sky.

Then came a truck loaded with colourful candies that got all the kids excited and hurriedly lined up to get their party pack. It was very hard saying no to her when all the other kids around her, especially her older sibling were ecstatically enjoying their lollipops.

Her elder siblings decided it was time to sing her birthday song even though there were no candles to blow or a cake to cut.
They were simply happy how the day had fanned out.

My eldest commented that her younger sister was a very lucky girl to have such and eventful and extended birthday celebration.
My husband and I agreed with her and decided not to let her know the actual purpose for the day's event. Letting her fall asleep feeling special was far more better than explaining that all the fun and food was to commemorate our tenth master's birthday and Lohri.


It's not a birthday without a cake. So granddad decided to buy a cake to pass the mark and made a scrumptious meal for the whole family. Everyone was impressed that the birthday girl managed to blow off the candles without any help.

And because it was a princess's special day, of course she was allowed to have and eat her cake before her dinner.

After a hearty meal she was very contented resting on her dadima's lap and feel asleep.
Happy birthday my little angel.

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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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For more recipes, please head over to my Recipes page


Linking up with Greta

Monday, 10 February 2014

Toddlers are born to be picky eaters (Philips)

This is part 2 of my 3 Airfried recipes which I mentioned in my Irrestible fried food is not necesarily bad for you

Up to today, I have not come across any mummy who has not complained once about meal time battles with her toddler. Occasionally, you may hear some success stories about how a toddler had decided to be fuss-free at meal time and gobbled up everything that the mother painstakingly made. I bet that mother would have called up everyone she knew, uploaded some pictures on her social media and even shared the recipe for other struggling mummies. 

I know the feeling and when it happens, I feel like I have conquered the world. I would not stop rambling about it and snapping pictures of my child actually enjoying her meal, becomes a must. 

So here I share with you the recipe which was a hit with my toddler that even tackled a very common meal time battle many mummies face with their children, vegetables. 

Ask any child if they would like a helping of vegetable in their meal and at most will times the answer is “NO” with exception to a limited selection of vegetables- carrot, potato and beans. 

There are many ways to combat this battle and the most famous being, sneaking the vegetables in children’s meal by chopping it up so fine that you would need a magnifying glass to locate the existence of any vegetable in your bowl of pasta or curry. The other option is by threatening or bribing a child to eat up his vegetable. 

I have stopped resorting to threat or bribe when feeding my toddler like I did with my elder two children because I remember how difficult, stressful and time consuming meal time was with them. 

When these threats and bribes didn't work with them, I resorted to hiding the vegetables in my curries and pasta sauces. As they grew older it became harder to hide these vegetables and I had to go to great lengths to ensure they had a proper meal when we were away from home, like on holidays, at functions and parties. 

Not wanting to repeat the same mistake, I now introduce as much vegetables as possible to my toddler. I keep these vegetables in its natural form or at least with some resemblance to its original color and shape so she can easily recognise these vegetables when we are out grocery shopping or when it is served raw.

It's fun to watch her reaction each time she comes across broccoli, carrot and her favorite cauliflower at the green grocer.

Today's recipe is Cauliflower fritters

Airfried cauliflower florets
 Preparation time: 5 minutes
 Cooking time: 25 minutes

The Ingredients

500gm organic cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

The method

You could either steam, boil or microwave the cauliflower till they are soft (takes about 3-4 minutes).
In a large bowl mix the flour (you can add 1/2 cup more flour if you like your fritters to be completely covered in batter) and turmeric powder. Slowly pour water (1/4 cup) into the batter to achieve a thick consistency (not runny). Then add the oil, salt and pepper. Transfer the cauliflower into the batter and ensure each floret is coated well.

Preheat the Airfryer to 185'C.
Put the cauliflowers into the basket and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process (around 12 minutes) pull out the pan and shake it a little so the cauliflower wont stick together.
In this picture I've lined the basket with a sheet of foil paper
but this isn't necessary and may hinder even cooking result.

Serving suggestions:

For my toddler
This was served for lunch with a dollop of home made yogurt.

My little one tends to lick the yogurt first before attacking the fritters
For the rest of the family
You may serve this as a side dish along with your dinner meal or you can have it as a full meal with my special spicy mix chutney:1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup Nandos Peri-Peri sauce and 1/4 cup ketchup.

The cauliflower fritters turned out evenly cooked and golden. It was not too oily to touch, crispy and crunchy at the same time.  This thanks to the it's Patented Rapid Air Technology which allows you to cook your food with up to 80% less fat.
These fritters are best served immediately to retain its crispness.

Some important notes

Key Features

  • Patented Rapid Air Technology - combines hot air with grill component to 'fry' food
  • In-built time - lets you set cooking times of up to 30 mins
  • Adjustable temperature control - cooks food at steady rate up to 200'C
  • Food separator accessory - lets you cook multiple food items at th same time without mixing the flovours
  • Integrated air filter - reduces vapours and odours
  • 30 minutes timer with auto shut-off
  • Product dimension (W x H x D) 287 x 315 x 384 mm
  • Capacity 800gm
  • Weight appliance 7kg
  • Cord length 0.8 m
  • Voltage 230v
  • Ready signal and temperature light
  • Cool-touch handgrips
Retail Price
  • RM1,190

Life Simplified note: You could premix cauliflower with the batter in an air-tight container or Ziploc bag and refrigerate it. But the batter has to be thicker than the recipe given above and if some of the fritters don't get coated well, don't worry as when you are ready to fry these, just sprinkle a little water and give it a good shake before transferring it into the preheated Airfryer.
Thanks to Philip, I am able to serve freshly fried food every time with a little advance planning and prepping. Life is so much simplified with these wonderful small kitchen appliances.

For more recipes, please head over to my Recipes page

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Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for doing this review. It was originally written for Babytalk magazine. I did however receive a demo Air fryer (which has been returned) from Philips to assist me in coming up with this recipe an share my experience using it.