Life Motherhood Parenting

The Anxieties of Motherhood

Motherhood. It’s something that I truly adore and equally abhor at the same time. Not really for the reasons you may think. I enjoy my role as a mother. To me, being present for my two boys is a priority and yes it does give my life more flavour and meaning. 

But what I find hard to swallow is the impossible and unattainable social construct of motherhood that is constantly shoved down my throat; whether consciously or sub-consciously. 

I’m entering my fourth year into my life-long ‘employment’ as Mum, and it has been quite a ride. The funny thing is – what started out as theoretical ideals in my head (formed from my own understanding of what it means to be a mother from my own upbringing) started dissipating as quickly as you can say ’super-mama’. More often than not, I really do feel like I’m a fail-mama. 

Anxieties are a norm, especially when you care deeply about something or someone. You fear that your actions will jeopardise the progress and final outcome. Naturally, when it’s a human life you’re responsible for, the stakes are really quite high! And that’s where it gets really tangly, and it has definitely given me much to think about over the past year.

Precious time out to the playground. My favourite way to just be with my kids.

2020 kicked off with me returning to work after the birth of my second child. It was also a year where I invested a lot in my own growth – mental and physical. Pushing myself to look at challenges, opportunities, hopes and dreams from all angles.

One overarching theme was ‘How can I be a better mother’. I have faced this question with several lenses. As a result – I undertook many mini-missions to make sure I was progressing to that goal-post. They include (among others):

  • Engaging my children with open-ended toys/play
  • Connecting with them emotionally, being empathetic
  • Potty train the elder one 
  • Bake/cook with them
  • Speak more Mandarin to my children
  • Feed them well
Little tyke, my soon-to-be 2 yo.

They are all small steps and with the fierce support of my husband, I think I have done okay. In spite of a raging pandemic, and the working from home situation, I believed I had levelled up. 

2021 has just begun and I think I am making good strides in my mum job. I was however thrown for a little loop-de-loop when last weekend, I was told I needed to work at being a better mother. 

It came from family, so I know it was well meaning. But that comment spiralled into my negative self-thoughts like an asteroid. I took it quite hard. My mind became a report card and I started grading myself with each action I took. Washed the dishes = +1. Fed the kids = +2. Didn’t manage to put the child down for a nap = -2. 

Oh what a catastrophe that was. My mind was bubbling and stewing with so much negative self-talk that even Daryl noticed and probed to find out more. A meltdown ensued. Even I did not realise what was coming. I got sucked into a ridiculous expectation. I allowed guilt to fester and overflow because of my over-reaction to a simple comment that I hung onto and filled in the blanks. 

My family certainly meant well. But what wasn’t constructive was a sweeping statement that made it easy to misunderstand. And then I realised why I was feeling the way I felt.That’s because the existing social construct of motherhood (a.k.a. what it means to be a good mother) is this:

Excel in your career. Be with your kids 24/7. Continue to be happy and grateful even if you never have time for yourselfBe a good wife. Keep the house clean. Do it all on your own and don’t complain.

Now that’s quite impossible to achieve and honestly rather absurd. I do believe that as a society, we’re getting better at being more empathetic but I think we can do more. Us mothers could do with more support and definitely more affirmation. 

After some reflection, I put pen to paper (and now here) to remind myself that I am a mother to my children and therefore should be focussing on excelling at motherhood on my terms and via goals I decide on (instead of trying to prove something to others): 

  • Raise, kind, caring and resilient children with values and morals
  • Equip my children with the tools to be emotional literate/intelligent
  • Encourage my children to do their best in whatever they do (thus focussing on effort and not primarily A* grades/outcome), to build grit
  • Be consistent (this is useful when disciplining)

There is no textbook to motherhood and there shouldn’t be. Every child is unique and we are not here to prove our mettle but rather act as guides as they navigate through life. 

To all my dear fellow mamas, I hope you know that you’re not alone. As mothers, we are the lighthouse for our children, but let not others affect how you shine that light. As long as you’re guiding and lighting the path, that’s good enough. Everyday is a brand new day to do our best and let not others dictate what ‘best’ looks like. 


Delish Brownies

Brownies are one of those things you can never get enough of. But you try to stop at one slice (or two at most) because they’re full of all the good sinful stuff that makes us sugary happy. And I’ve been very good. I haven’t had brownies in a while. But Daryl got some keto brownies yesterday and it really hit the spot. We woke up thinking of brownies this morning.

As Daryl is on health binge so he made some with black chick peas and stevia. They tasted good but the chickpea taste was just too overpowering.

So I googled for a recipe and found a fuss-free one. I made some adjustments and wham, within 20 mins I had myself some insanely moist and deep dark brooding brownies that I haven’t been able to stop eating. Four slices in, and I’m still trying to resist. It’s that good. It certainly made my Saturday. If you’re looking to score some points with a friend (or lover or your favourite person), make them these. Best of all, you don’t need a fancy-esque mixer – just a whisk and a bowl.



  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp sucanat*
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee (I used decaf here)
  • 10 tbsps butter or 141g
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 3 eggs at room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 175°. Grease a 8×8 inch pan or line with parchment paper/aluminium foil.
  2. Whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sucanat, and instant coffee in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, melt the butter and chocolate. Whisk in the eggs and gently whisk in the dry ingredients just until mixed through. Do not over mix the batter to keep it light.
  4. Transfer batter into the baking pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out moist. Let cool 30 mins to 2 hours and slice before biting in!

*Note: Sucanat is pure dried sugar cane juice. The juice is extracted by mechanical processes, heated, and cooled, forming small brown grainy crystals. It contains less sucrose and retains the natural molasses and trace nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins.

**You can make these keto if you used a sugar substitute like erythritol

Motherhood recipe

Nutritious Oatmeal Cookies

If you think being a parent is a strange new world, think again. It’s even stranger as a lactating mother. 

I went into Motherhood pretty cold because I refused to go down the rabbit hole. I didn’t want to scare myself. Those who know me will know that anything I put my mind to I go in with deep abandon. 

Breast feeding, is a wonderful experience and for most part, it is what they say – a great way to bond with your newborn. The chemical release of oxytocin floods through you – and for me, my tear ducts always flow.  

Then there’s the byproduct of the process – the glorious breast milk. Filled with it’s own cocktail of nutrients that miraculously changes as your infant grows. A mixture of vitamins, anti-bodies, fats, I think it’s a super food!

With Ciaran, my first born, I only managed up to 6 months. The stress at work at my previous company got the better of me and a first-time mum navigating the feelings and emotions of such a role that is motherhood — I had so many unrealistic expectations. 

That was when I first encountered this delicious word  – galactagogue.

To this day i find it hard not to chuckle. My first thought was Galactica Monologues? What fantastical thing could this be?  

It originated from the Greek word “galacta,” meaning milk.

Galactagogues help you with your breast milk. And apparently it’s a whole list of foods that ‘triggers’ or encourages your glorious pair of boobies to continue feeding your precious child. 

Fatty foods and a whole lot of herbs make the bulk of the list. From nuts to seeds, to garlic and fenugreek, it’s an interesting make up. 

Then there’s oats. Oats is the most popular one – as it’s the most commonly found ingredient and easily available. Oh and you can keep it for long. 

Having nursed my second child Eoin for the past 8 months, I was feeling rather good. But my supply has dipped of late. 

And I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure I catch up on my galactagogues. Lactation cookies were my immediate choice as I do love my oats. But I prefer not to call them lactation cookies because they are really just souped up oatmeal cookies that are ultra nutritious (and really shouldn’t be limited to lactating mothers).

The good nutritious stuff. These ingredients are easily available from iHerb (I’ve included links in the ingredient list) or your local supermarkets.

Brewer’s yeast and flaxseeds, almond butter is the brilliant trigger. And chopped chocolate chunks make them irresistible to other non-lactating humans. My son and husband enjoys them just as much as I do. 

It has been a week since and my supply has been steadily increasing. Try making these for yourself if you find yourself requiring some assistance (or even just an excuse to eat a cookie in the name of health). Brewer’s Yeast, a common key ingredient in lactation cookies is a rich source of B-complex vitamins, protein, and minerals, including a biologically active form of chromium. It is also said to be effective at supporting the nervous system and enhancing the immune system.   

Delicious nutritious morsels for lactating mothers or otherwise.



  • 227g butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1 tbsp barley malt* (optional)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup brewer’s yeast
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (substitute in peanut butter or leave out altogether)
  • 3 cups rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill Thick Cut is my favourite)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate chunks

*Note: Barely malt is an excellent sweetener for baking and especially helpful for lactating mothers. It is barley grain that has been allowed to germinate. When this happens, the barley turns into a sweet syrupy malt that also contains a lot of beta-glucan (a prolactin stimulant, what lactating mothers need).


  1. Preheat oven to 175 °C. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Using a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and barley malt until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  3. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, ground flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. Add this to the mixing bowl and beat until just combined.
  4. Add the almond butter and oats, mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks
  5. Drop 1.5 tablespoons of dough onto the lined cookie sheets. Bake s20-30 minute, or until the bottom is golden brown. Cookies will puff up a bit in the oven; if you prefer flatter cookies, press down on the top of each cookie with a fork. 
  6. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store cookies in an air-tight container for up to a week; cookies will keep frozen for up to 3 months. Cookie dough can be made in advance and kept in the freezer 6-12 months (make sure it’s tightly sealed).
Life recipe

Eleven Madison Park Granola

As a self-professed foodie, I am on a constant hunt for memorable food experiences and flavours. The same adrenaline rush a climber gets from a successful ascent on yet another peak, that’s the same feeling I get when I cross paths with an utterly life-changing meal. To most, this sounds like a mighty exaggeration. Perhaps if you know me, and the fact that I live for food and what it stands for, you won’t be surprised.

The year I turned 30; a milestone marker for most, where we reflect and ask ourselves what have we achieved and done, I decided to take life by its horns and book myself a ticket to New York. Known to be a buzzing mecca of culinary delights and legends, New York had been calling out to me and this time I decided to jump out of my comfort zone and eat up New York.

Travelling alone is actually rather intimidating but when you’re at the cusp of 30 (I was 29 when I arrived and 30 when I left New York!), the world really seems like one big fat amusement park. You go on the most exciting rides, even that big rollercoaster you’d usually avoid.

The first ‘assignment’ you’re given after you’ve taken your seat is to punch out one ingredient from this card. This will have an impact on your dishes.

The highlight of my New York birthday present to myself was my visit to Eleven Madison Park. Having placed a reservation months before my arrival, I was gearing up to having a meal to remember. At that time, Eleven Madison Park was ranked 4th by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and that was a big deal (and a huge splurge) and arguably the highlight of my trip.

At the back-of-house, the kitchen, where I requested for a tour prior to my trip because I couldn’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The meal itself was very theatrical – just imagine yourself watching a culinary Cirque Du Soleil, where the servers and chefs are both storytellers and ‘acrobats’, manoeuvring their way around the kitchen and even the diner’s tables, serving up food that spoke volumes, in texture, flavour and beyond.

One of the my favourite course – the picnic basket. I really wanted to ask if I could buy their basket, and ceramic plate.

One of the things you left the restaurant with, other than an incredibly filled tummy and happy tastebuds, is a bag of treats – a chocolate bar and a whole mason jar of their iconic granola. Yes granola, and it’s nothing high brow. It’s really just homely hearty granola. But there was something about this granola. It was both sweet and tart and savoury, all at the same time. Super tasty and incredibly addictive. I finished it within days.

Since then, I have yet to savour a granola as good as theirs. I’ve always wondered what made their granola so special. I only found out years later – thanks to NYT Cooking. Sam Sifton, New York Times food editor posted the much coveted recipe to Eleven Madison Granola a few years ago and because of that, I was able to relive my New York trip and at the same time, share the joy with my family. Daryl agrees that this granola is pretty bad-a**. He doesn’t usually like granola (especially commercial ones) because they’re just too damn sweet. I’ve also made several minor adjustments, which can be found at the recipe below.

The granola mix, pre-baking. Remember to only put the dried cherries last, after it’s baked. You don’t want to risk burning them.
It’s hard finding nice plump dried sour cherries so I am pretty stoked with the ones by Eden Organic.
All mixed in!

The pistachios can be substituted with pecans if you wish. I know not everyone is a fan of pistachios.



  • 2 ¾ cups rolled oats (I used 3 cups)
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I used 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup dried sour cherries  (I get mine from iHerb – The Montmorency Tart cherries by Eden Organics is perfect) 


  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkinseeds and salt.
  2. In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.
  3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.
  4. Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container. Makes about 6 cups.
A whole lotta granola! This will last you 1-2 weeks tops.
recipe Relationship

Utterly Divine Banana Bread

Food to me is life. I don’t care much for the material things of this world, really. For as long as I know, I’ve been searching for food experiences to keep in my memory bank. Food gives me comfort, it is the epitome of love – love for yourself (feeding your body well), love for others (expression of your love to others), and love for the world (respecting food, by enjoying the ingredients and making it well).  

It is to no surprise then, that I found a chef to marry me (I must have cast quite a spell, I like to think it was my baking) and who still wants to be with me even after almost 4 years of marriage. Given the current circuit breaker (Singapore’s version of a lite lockdown), I was ready to face a version of us that was all snark, and no patience. With 5 warm bodies under 1 roof, tensions will run high and it has. Thankfully we are in tune to our love languages – that being acts of love, like cooking for one another. 

So last Saturday, I woke up and decided to bake Daryl some stupendously delicious banana bread. He had casually mentioned the other day that banana bread was one of the first things he made for me. As I have a memory as non-existent as Dory from Finding Nemo, I could not remember.  He told me to go check Instagram and lo and behold, I found that dish of love: 

Awww… that banana bread he made for me, forever eternalised on the corners of the ‘Gram.

That brought back so many warm and fuzzy feelings! We had only just started dating little over a month by then. All our dates were about food – checking out that new cafe, or him surprising me with a night picnic (a small grass patch just below his apartment ha) with a charcuterie platter. Just thinking about those memories made me relish our time and bond together. It was a good reminder of what a great team we make. And I truly believe any day is a good day to say ‘thank you’ via a loaf of pure banana-nana love (trust me on this, it’s that good).

Just a few ingredients and some good overripe bananas.

I will have you know first that I’ve not made many banana breads in my life. Probably only 5 other times. And each time, I have used only recipes from Smitten Kitchen. She’s a great cook and baker and she’s so precise with her instructions. This time, I made several small tweaks just to change things up. Dang, it turned out to be a bonus! One thing I did right was to buy Pisang Raja bananas (or Musa Belle, here’s a guide on which is which), and to wait patiently for it to go really black and ugly (overripe). You will know when they are ready to be used for your banana bread – that intoxicating scent catches you when you walk past. 

The overripe Pisang Raja bananas – super easy to mash as they’re already so soft.

Once ripe, and if you’re not going to use it immediately, do freeze it – they last a long time. 

Banana bread batter ready for the oven.



  • 115 grams unsalted butter (vegan option – swap with coconut oil)
  • 50g coconut sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar (small note on sweetness. I prefer to let that natural ripe banana sweetness come through thus I use less sugar. you can tweak sugar amount to preference)
  • 4 large mashed large Pisang Raja bananas (try not to use Marshall Cavendish ones – they have the least flavour)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt or otherwise)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted


  1. Heat oven to 175°C. Butter a loaf pan or coat it with a nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Keep 2 slices of banana for decorating the top, before you mash the rest. 
  3. Melt butter (or coconut oil, if going vegan) in a large bowl and whisk in the sugars until smooth.
  4. Stir in mashed banana. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sprinkle the surface of the batter evenly with salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder, and whisk until the ingredients are mixed well.
  5. Add flour and stir until combined. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. It should come to just over 1/2-inch from the top rim. Place your two bananas at the top. If you like a nice caramelised top, sprinkle some raw demerara sugar
  6. Bake banana bread for 65 minutes. It is done when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the bread is batter-free
  7. Let cool completely in pan. Remove from pan once cool. Make sure not to slice it until it’s completely cool.
  8. It keeps for a week in the fridge (or 5 days at room temp).
Voila! Moist, naturally sweet with an intoxicating banana scent.

Have a lovely week, and remember, love one another and if you’re not one to verbalise it, then use your actions! Bake a banana bread, go bananas!

Childhood Life Parenting

Manners and Tantrums

Babies are manageable but when they become toddlers, that easy math equation of obedience minus tantrums = compliance does not compute. I am not good at playing ‘bad-cop’. It stems from my own childhood – I was brought up by typical South East Asian standards, you get whacked if you don’t comply. End of story, no bargaining. 

Soft parenting was my go-to technique. A whimper and thick hot tears got me in a fix and I would rush to carry Ciaran and comfort him. When he turned 2, and as all toddlers do – he discovered that he could say No. A shake of the head, stomping of feet, running to a corner, curled up in a bowl and cries that could rival a banshee. Wooopfh. I dreaded that. Daryl is the firm one and he would not stand for any tantrums. I started deferring to Daryl whenever Ciaran got into his Oscar the grouch mood swings/tantrums. Deep down, I knew this was not sustainable. Parenting is a two-person (or a village) work.

Ready to Go! is a brilliant resource for parents.

Thankfully I caught on, and I started to seek out techniques to help me be a more responsible parent. Of these, a one great resources is a series of books my sister bought me under the ‘Ready to Go!’ set. Bless her heart, she got it  in hopes of helping me deal with a headstrong toddler. The one I found most useful and have applied with great success is the on Manners. Written by a clinical psychologist, it fames out 4 key factors that influence the way children learn and choose their behaviours:

Key Influences on Children’s Behaviour

  1. Copying: parents need to model best behaviour for children to imitate
  2. Cues: signals, reminders, arrangements , rules and routines
  3. Consequences: reward and punishment 
  4. Compassion: being understood and listened to = caring communication 

The book goes in-depth into each point and provides practical tools to aid parents like me in our attempts to ensure we bring up children who respect and are considerate of others’ feelings. 

This was the turning point for me as I flipped through the book (which has a separate book for your kid too) and as Ciaran turned 3 and I started to make a concerted effort to help my son chart out what it means to have manners. 

This book recommends using Time-outs to navigate toddlers into understanding what is acceptable.Two other techniques we’re using now are also Option 1 or 2 and a good ‘ol analog Responsibility Chart . If there’s anything I’ve learnt on managing toddlers it’s these three things and I’m using them to the best of my ability. Here’s how:

1. Time-Out

  • Children need firm discipline and the assurance that they are loved. 
  • When your child starts acting out – i.e. a tantrum or being rude, put them in a place (we use the stairs) where you can see them (don’t shut them in a room) and set a timer. 2 mins for a 2 year old, 3 mins for a 3 year old and so forth. 
  • After the timer beeps, take them out and hug them tight and spend some quiet time together.
  •  Once your child has calmed down, explain what they did ‘wrong’ – misbehaving, screaming, being unkind, kicking etc. 
  • Emphasise how they can be kinder, better behaved then move on. You don’t need to dwell too much on that incident. 

2. Option 1 Or 2

  • If your child is not listening to reason or just doesn’t want to do what he’s told, pause and give him 2 options. 
  • Both options need to be something you can deliver on. They should not be what your child is demanding from you.
  • For example – your child wants to watch Youtube but he’s already had his 1 hour limit and is screaming your ears off.
  • You can offer him Option 1: Playing with his robot toy (pick a fav toy of his) and then he can get say 30 mins of cartoons later in the evening OR Option 2: Continue crying and get NO screen time for the rest of the day. 
  • Put it to him that he needs to pick only 1 Option.

3. Responsibility Chart

  • We love Melissa & Doug’s stuff, they’re well made and well-thought-out. Daryl bought this chart and hung it in our living room.
  • We picked out priority tasks we wanted Ciaran to take responsibility of – clearing his toys, stop whining and saying please and thank you.
  • We told Ciaran what’s expected of him should we want to get a ‘Bravo’ or ‘Good Job’ magnet. It works brilliantly; and he would come to us at the end of the day and we assess how well he had done for the day and award him accordingly. 
  • Affirmation helps children understand what they should do more of. I prefer this to yelling and being militant.
  • The Manners book also comes with really cute posters and stickers you can get your child to paste when he is polite, respectful and well behaved.
Ciaran sticking on a star he got for being polite.

These tools has worked well for us so far. But as with every chapter of the age-old Book of Parenting, every day is a new day. Ciaran is better behaved and knows his boundaries. He communicates better on why he’s frustrated (i.e. hungry, need to use the potty etc) instead of throwing a hissy fit. There are still days when he gets into a scream-fest, but those instances are much reduced.

As tough as parenting is, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Being parents have made us better people because we are relearning so many of the basics. The basics that make us human – and what is truly important; our family, our love for each other which fuels our efforts to make a brighter future.

Useful links to buy tools mentioned in my post:

Life Parenting

On Motherhood

“Motherhood is not a GCSE level examination that I can study for or ace at by following the textbooks or rulebooks. There is no one perfect guidebook and there is no such thing as a perfect mother (or parent)”

Motherhood – it’s a much lauded rite of passage experienced by many (duly blessed) women. Loving, patient and nurturing mothers are celebrated while short-tempered, agitated and anxious mothers are seem to ‘not-have-it-together’.

Can I tell you an honest truth? 80% of the time I belong to the latter. Every day is like a new challenge on Ninja Warriors; I used to start my day by anticipating meltdowns even before they happen so that I can deflect and prepare myself. It was quite a doom and gloom situation. Like dark looming clouds cueing an impending storm.

Dark clouds that reflected my gloomy mind.

When your actions don’t align with what is expected of you as dutiful mother, that grand ‘ol mum-guilt starts to snowball. I had serious cognitive dissonance because I had grandiose ideas about the fantastic mother I’d be. The thought that I could possibly suck at that one role I thought I would excel at made me feel disappointed.

A mother’s disappointment, as I have since learnt is more commonplace than I had realised. Just do a quick google search or look at your fellow mama-friends’ Instagram and lo and behold, a community of mothers’ sharing their grievances and challenges. Thank god for #strengththroughvulnerability.

My one biggest learning in this parenting journey of mine is this – don’t be afraid to lean into your partner. Daryl is a fantastic partner and (in my opinion) a super dad. He can see when the wheels of doubt are doing some double-duty churning and inward dwelling.  “What are you trying to prove and for who?” was a question he posed when I was regaling him about how there’s so much more I could be doing for our sons and I can I do more. 

And that’s when it clicked. Do more, be more, achieve more – that’s great, but by whose standards and to what metrics? Motherhood is not a GCSE level examination that I can study for or ace at by following the textbooks or rulebooks. There is no one perfect guidebook and there is no such thing as a perfect mother (or parent). 
It took me almost 2 years to come to terms with the fact that being present for my children and giving them my time is all there is to it. So simple, so dummy-proof. 

I have since been at peace, knowing that I should confidently parent at the beat of my own drum.  There are 3 main areas of focus right now for us at home, what with the on-going circuit breaker:

In no way am I an expert in any of this but I would like to share the knowledge and wisdom gleaned from articles/books I’ve read and from experience. Hopefully they will be of use to any of you who may be parents. Here’s my post on dealing with Manners and Tantrums.

Childhood recipe

Orange Earl Grey Ice Cream

Like most kids growing up, the ice cream flavours I knew were decadent chocolate, comforting vanilla and delightful strawberry. Birthdays and special occasions meant that we could all share one giant tub (a whopping 1.5 litres) of Neopolitan – of which we would proceed to dive our faces and grimy tiny hands into. These ice cream flavours were also a perfect reflection of how simple our lives were; easily ranked from good (vanilla), better (strawberry), best (chocolate)! And when living in a ridiculously hot and humid climate, a cool decadent treat is everything you dream of.

As an adult, now, I rarely settle for just chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those classics. It’s just knowing what’s out there – the exotic (think burrata, ube, durian), intriguing (Marmite ice cream anyone?) and even strange (wasabi, gorgonzola cheese), that makes my tastebuds tremble with excitement.

My ice cream flavour obsession of late has been Earl Grey, Hazelnut and Brandy Apple Pie, made by that awesome local creamery Ice Cream Cookie Co. Alas, due to the on-going #circuitbreaker (semi lockdown), there has been a dearth of available flavours from said brand (their production line was suspended due to the government’s directive 2 weeks ago). And I do love a good tea-based ice cream. Earl Grey is also my preferred tea of choice.

As with most things these days, when a craving hits, and there are no commercial options, make it! I’m not particularly fond of making ice cream because I’ve only ever made it less than 10 times in my life and most times, the ice crystals were a little too big, so it was like creamy slush. But I’m a huge believer of “if you fail once, twice, thrice, just try again!”. So off I went. I used a recipe from David Lebovitz (he’s one of my foodie heroes. Most of my young adult days were spent drooling over his blogposts about dreamy Paris and amazing rustic Parisian food. He’s also got a reputation for really solid, reliable ice-cream recipes (‘The Perfect Scoop’ is a must-have. I had a copy even though I never made much ice-cream). If you have an ice-cream maker, great, and if you don’t – just churn it by hand every hour.

Straining the custard of the loose tea.

There are many variations of ice-cream but my favourite is still the French custard style with its generous portion of egg yolks. The rich, velvety texture is worth it. But make sure you don’t take your eye off the pot when waiting for the custard to thicken. For me, it took all of 4 mins.

Finished ice cream mixture in the ice-bath.

Feel free to taste the finished mixture at this point and see if you’d like to add more orange flavour. Then into the fridge it goes for further chilling before the churning begins.

Chilled mixture going into the ice-cream maker

If you forsee making ice-cream on the regular, I would suggest investing in a machine with a decent motor. The one I used is about 2-years old and I’ve only used it two other times and both times it got stuck half-way because the outer rim formed a hard layer, blocking the paddle. With both fingers and toes crossed, I was hoping that it would run smoothly this time. It was not to be. The motor on the machine got overheated and stopped turning 30 mins so…I got a really good arm workout.

Churnin’, churnin’, churnin’ and then wham, it stopped.
Not bad for a hand-churned ice-cream.



  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used demerara sugar for a nice slightly caramel flavour
  • A pinch of salt (Maldon sea salt is my preferred)
  • 1/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea (or contents of 6 Earl Grey Tea bags)
  • Finely grated zest of 4 medium oranges (I only had 1 orange, so I added 1/2 tsp orange oil on top of the zest)
  • 5 large egg yolks


  1. In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tea leaves and orange zest. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavour.
  3. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
  4. Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
  5. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 79°C to 82°C at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the tea leaves and orange zest in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavour as possible.
  6. Cool the custard to below 21°C by stirring it over the ice bath. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

I had some for breakfast (oh no don’t you pretend you’ve never had ice-cream for breakfast?) and lunch, and I’m about to have some more. It’s almost half gone as Ciaran and Daryl both loves it. Looks like this recipe is going to our McAlea recipe box!

Life Parenting Relationship

On love and communication

No matter the culture, race or religion, I truly believe food is a universal language of love. 

Now more than ever with varying levels of #lockdown all over the world, relationships of all kinds are put to the test. Parents and children, husband and wife, partners etc living in a bell jar with so much space for tension, and feelings – this can often lead to raised voices and agitated arguments (sometimes over the simplest things). 
I speak from experience.

Daryl and I have had more friction than usual and having 2 kids vying for our attention does not help the essential communication channel we usually have (no more running away from the kids on a Saturday afternoon for a nice 2-hour brunch😕). 

We decided to nip this ‘barrier’ in the bud by implementing a 6 min catch up everyday. All you need is some down time in between your kid(s) naps. Each of you gets 1 min (use your phone timer) of air-time to talk about your day or what you’re feeling and when the time is up, it’s the other person’s turn to share. Do this 3 times each. 
In theory, 6 mins is short but when we did it, that quality time felt longer! It has helped us feel more connected and less testy with each other and I wanted to share this since it may help anyone in a similar situation. 

Also, don’t wait for a once-a-year public declaration day to shower your partner with love. Cook something for him/her whenever you feel like it. One of the best ways anyone can express love to their special someone is through food. As food is sustenance, a homemade meal is telling your partner, “I appreciate your existence in my life and I want to feed your body (and soul)”. No matter the culture, race or religion, I truly believe food is a universal language of love. 

Breakfast plate Daryl made this morning.

Assembled from the brioche and gratin dauphinois he made earlier in the week, this plate here is the perfect ‘thank you and I love you’. I had another hairy night soothing our 7mo baby (he’s teething and having sleep regression) and was feeling crappy and this made me feel appreciated. 

If you think you need special ingredients to celebrate, think again. Just think about what comfort food your partner enjoys the most and if you can’t make it, buy and  assemble it nicely on a plate. It’s really the thought that counts. Husbands, wives, partners, lovers – your time is what matters most! Have a lovely Sunday and keep safe 💗🌟
#relationship #love #celebrate #thesimplelife 

Parenting recipe

Choco-Avo Spread

A crucial ninja skill all parents master at some point is the ability to disguise wholesome foods as something super droolsome. This skill takes plenty of practice and requires copious amounts of patience, and trial and error.

Ciaran slathering on some my super choc avo spread onto Daryl’s homemade sourdough bread.

My husband Daryl and I are pretty enthused food-lovers. We enjoy cooking as much as we love eating and when I first got pregnant, we were super excited to having ‘mini-gourmands’ who would appreciate food. Boy were we in for a sweet surprise (parents, are you nodding along with me?).

As it turns out, toddlers have pretty weird food preferences. Ciaran has gone through several phases now. He had a rice & egg stage, a noodle-phase and now he’s really into mangoes. We are truly tickled at his food requests. We now have plenty of “want chocolate” pleas. I claim responsibility for this – as a chocolate fanatic myself, I have my own chocolate snack stash and toddlers never say no to chocolate. Most of my chocolate treats has way too much sugar for a 3yo so I’ve been diligently seeking out ways to make kid-friendly chocolate snacks that are enticing enough but also healthy at the same time.

This concoction is one of them. I’ve been making this super easy blender-friendly tasty chocolate spread for a while now but usually just for myself. I made it again this week and decided to share it with Ciaran. And it seems like we have another winner.

Super easy and quick to make!



  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I’m partial to Green & Black’s, as the chocolate is more intense)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce (don’t worry, you won’t taste it, this is to neutralise the avo taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor (or a blender).
  2. Chill in the refrigerator and enjoy as is or keep in a jar to use as a scrummy chocolate spread like I do. Freeze some, if you don’t forsee finishing it within 3-4 days.
Decadently thick, but also super healthy at the same time – double win.

This can be served as a chocolate mousse substitute if you’ve got vegan family members or friends coming over (well after the pandemic eases up) for dinner. Sometimes, I just dip apple slices in it for a quick afternoon snack.

Quick note about the avocados – make sure they are duly ripe because it’s important to have it creamy and buttery. Semi or unripe avocados will result in stronger ‘grassy’ tasting spread. I learnt from experience. Sharing with you this helpful colour guide I spotted at the supermarket to determine the best time to use your avocados.