Marshmallow Test: A Lesson in Temperance

I’ve started paying the kids a dollar per week for the jobs they do in the house.

Friday is payment day.

They normally end up buying a candy or lolly. Until Elmer taught them the idea of saving up to buy something they like. Instead of buying just candy, they can collect their payment every week until they can afford something which they really like. Maybe loom bands, stickers or a book.

Surprisingly, Pio picked up the momentum. My saguine child who gives in to his impulse and whims. He was determined to buy a Lego set which costs $15. Some weeks he worked extra hard or extra jobs so I’d give him $2-3. He asked his Lolo if he can clean up his room for $2. He tried answering my multiplication questions to get a $1. He did everything he can think of to earn money.

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He waited patiently every week.

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What was endearing to me is that every time we went to KMART he unfailingly asked me if he can look at the Lego set he wanted to buy. These went on for weeks. It was hard for me to see him looking at that Lego set and going home without it. I could have easily paid for it. But I controlled myself.

Finally, he has saved up $15! He purchased that Lego set. He was the epitome of happiness.


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He built it and disassembled, built it again and disassembled again. The more expensive Lego sets which his Lola, aunts and uncles gave him suddenly faded into oblivion.

He was so proud of his first bought toy. I cannot be prouder.

He has taught me a beautiful lesson in temperance. A child will value more a toy or gift he worked hard for, so Mom don’t give him everything easily.

If you ever wonder if your child is too soft or spoiled, you have to watch this Marshmallow Test.


Chic Strawberry Pavlova

I adore the way this cake looks. The taste is even better. The contrast between the sourish strawberry topping and the sweet meringue is delightful.

Suffice to say that I made it twice this week. First one was for last Sunday’s family gathering and the next one was just because we couldn’t have enough of it.

I’ve taken the recipe from BBC Good Food. Although I’ve followed the procedure on how to make the meringue to a tee, I’ve tweaked the topping a bit and made it easier.

Here’s the lovely recipe:


For the meringue
4 egg whites
250 g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping
500 g strawberries, hulled and halved
3 tbsp icing sugar
300 ml double cream

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Using a pencil, mark out the circumference of a dinner plate on baking parchment. Whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue looks glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla.

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Chef Nina making the meringue.

Spread the meringue inside the circle, creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle. Bake for 50 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the Pavlova cool completely inside the oven.
When the meringue is cool, press and mash 100 g of the strawberries with a fork. Mix it with 2 tbsp icing sugar.

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Sasha preparing the strawberries.

Whip the cream using a whisk with the remaining icing sugar and spread it over the meringue. Put the remaining fruit on the cream.

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Finally, pour the sauce over the whole lot.

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Training and Disciplining Kids

As promised, here are the details of the talk which I recently attended. The speaker is a mother of four teenagers.

It became clearer to me after the talk that most  teenage-related issues like dependence in technology, not helping in the house, premature dating, etc can be minimized, if not avoided, if proper diligence was done during early childhood. What I meant by proper diligence is that children, as young as possible, should have been taught virtues.

So what’s a virtue? A virtue is a good habit done repeatedly whether the child likes it or not. An example of a virtue is order. You teach them order by asking them to tidy their beds/rooms in the morning, clean up as they go, put back toys.

Instilling virtues become harder the older the child is.

Quite logical. The same way that it is easier for my 6-year old to pick up a new language like Mandarin than for me to learn it for the rest of my life time.

Here are some of her wise advices. Best to hear it from her.

  1. Parenting is a serious undertaking. Prayer life is very important. Talk to God about your children.
  2. Teach your children virtues. Read James Stenson parenting books.
  3. Think and plan ahead.
  4. No is a loving word. No to immediate gratification.
  5. Always speak positively to them.
  6. Give them choices.
  7. Only give consequences that you are ready to carry out.
  8. Teach them please, thank you, sorry.
  9. It’s ok ro be upset. Don’t shield them from disappointment.
  10. Consistency is very important.
  11. You can never hug them enough.
  12. Never lie to your children.
  13. What children want is that they’re understood.
  14. They have to be happy for other people.
  15. Give them opportunity to problem solve.
  16. Keep computers in the main area, never in their bedrooms.
  17. We don’t have to like everybody but you treat them well.
  18. Go and take your mood somewhere else. Come back when you are not mad.
  19. Let them experience the consequences.
  20. Teach them to be independent. Prepare the night before.
  21. Teach them how to cook.
  22. They should have jobs. In this house we have to contribute.
  23. Ultimately, I as a parent decide, not you.

World’s Most Livable City Is …

Happy to say, it’s MELBOURNE.
And we live in it.

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I appreciate it more lately. Spring is peeking into winter’s territory. We have been getting sporadic high teens temperature, blue skies, pink blossoms, crisp days.

There are so many great things you’ll like about this city but my personal favorite is it’s cafe culture.

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It’s rich and indulgent.

Like a chocolate cupcake topped with butter cream.

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I cannot tell you how much I enjoy Melbourne’s coffee.

She does it better. So take it away Jonette George…

Flavours of Melbourne
Lift the soul
Heighten our senses
Rock and Roll

Urban locales
Tease and delight
Tickle the tipple
Throughout the night

Aromas of Coffee
Singled sourced seeds
Scratch the surface
And greet my needs

Celebrate together
Friends, Neighbours
and Chefs
Show the nation
Melbourne does it best

-from her book, Flavours of Urban Melbourne


Simple Seafood Paella

I’ve tried many paella recipes before. I found this one particularly simple and easy to make but the taste is still superb.

I get a glimmer of cooking it whenever Seafood Marinara goes on sale at Coles or Woolies.

Found the recipe from Sophie Ruggles’ My Barcelona Kitchen. Twisted it a bit so I can just use Seafood Marinara. Makes it so much easier to cook.


1 pinch of saffron threads
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) white wine
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
50 ml olive oil
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum (pepper), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
360 g (1 2/3 cups) short-grain white (calaspara or paella) rice
1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) fish stock
1 kilo Seafood Marinara
a few handfuls fresh or frozen peas (optional)
lemon wedges, for serving


Put the saffron threads into the wine to soak. Set aside.

Pound the garlic and salt to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

To make the sofrito, add oil to the pan. Sauté the onion, capsicum and garlic paste for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the paprika and cook for 1 minute further. Add the saffron-infused wine and the rice, and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

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Add the stock. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes, without stirring.

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Put the Seafood Marinara into the rice, making sure they are well submerged in the liquid. Scatter around the peas, if using, and cook for 20-30 minutes over low heat. 

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The paella is ready when the rice is al dente and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then serve straight from the pan with lemon wedges.

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 This dish is best cooked in a paellera.

What an instant feast!

Get Inspired: 14 Ways to a Delightful Breakfast

I’m writing this down because I don’t want to forget these lovely breakfast ideas. One of the things that excites me in the morning is preparing something delightful for the family to share. Not that we always have what’s on the list. We also have cereal days or peanut butter-sandwich days. There are even MYO (“Make Your Own”) breakfast days.

But its always nice to have comfort food first thing in the morning.

So here are some breakfast suggestions which may inspire you to get out of those warm sheets and get cooking…

Week 1:
Caramelized pears and ricotta pancake with maple syrup

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Julie Goodwin’s White Chocolate and Raspberry muffins or Choc Chip Banana muffins

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Champorado (Chocolate Rice Porridge)

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Parfait with French toast

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Cornbeef with eggs and garlic fried rice

Nigellas Churros y Chocolate and oatmeal topped with fresh/frozen fruits

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Spinach and bacon quiche with crusty bread

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Week 2:
Congee with chicken drumstick and century eggs

Erin’s Strawberry Popover topped with icing sugar or maple syrup

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Scrambled eggs and toasted bread with jam/butter

Smoothie and sausage rolls

Strawberry cake (why not?) and yoghart

(I just used Never Fail Cake’s easy recipe and topped it with chocolate ganache and heaps of sweet strawberries.)

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Spanish Chorizo Tomato Baked Eggs

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As Simple As It Gets: Creamy Coconut Cookies

We first tasted this cookies at a friend’s house. She has 9 kids. I thought “how in the world can she find the time to make such meltdown-in-your-mouth cookies and take care of 9 kids?“.

Elmer and the kids raved about it.

Then I asked her for the recipe which she kindly shared. It occurred to me that I can bake this on a whim, even my kids can make this on their own.

You know what? Nina, my 4-year-old, nailed it with a little help from Kuya Pio.

Won’t keep the recipe for long. More than happy to share.

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup sugar
125g melted butter
1 well beaten egg

Mix dry ingredients together, then add melted butter and beaten egg. Stir well. Roll into balls. Arrange on baking tray, lined with baking paper.

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Bake for about 10-12 minutes at 160 degrees C.

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It doesn’t get anymore simpler than this.

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I love the aroma of newly-baked cookies. It warms up the house.

Look Up

I attended a parenting talk about Training & Disciplining Young Kids last Saturday. I will tell you more about this talk later.

What struck me the most was how parents of teenagers are very much disconcerted and concerned over challenges which are related to technology. Daunting…

We didn’t have iPAD, iPhone, I-whatever growing up. No WiFi either. Facebook was inconceivable.

The speaker, a mother of 4 teenagers, mentioned a thought provoking video clip about technology use.

I watched it that night after we put the  kids to sleep. I rarely watch videos on YouTube. As you well know, we have enough LIVE entertainment at home.

But this particular video hit me hard.

Believe it has gone viral. Here’s the 5-minute clip:

I am switching off.

Look Up. Now.