Friday, January 31, 2014

Foodie Fridays - 2014 Reunion Dinner

First Foodie Fridays post for the new year and of course its about our reunion dinner!  After avoiding having steamboat as our reunion dinner for the past years, we decided to have it this year.  DinoPapa has always been in charge of reunion dinner menu but his new working schedule prevented him from sitting down to plan for a sumptuous menu, so steamboat it is.

I am grateful for my mother-in-law who bought all the food and bring them to our house couple of weeks ago.  She also has been stuffing our fridge to the brim with food every year because the Chinese believe that a full fridge will ensure a year of abundance food.  

Since we do not have to go over to my mum's for reunion dinner, we took our time to enjoy the food and chatting with each other.  There are not a lot of food but they are all of our favourite food, we had a great dinner together.

Do share your reunion dinner photos with us! Simply post them in our facebook page or post in instagram and tag us @din0mama.

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Gift Claimed

DinoBoy claimed the Christmas gift from DinoAunt but I think this mama is more excited then the boy who only exclaimed "Mama, this can read books? Oh great!  Can you please download Cat in the Hat books for me?  I have a few I want to read." then ran off to play with the cousins.  I already have 16 ebooks in my kindle library waiting for me to start reading hehehehe~

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Linking up with

Zoe & Zak Tiger Temple - Book Review & Giveaway

Tiger Temple - Blog Tour Button

About the Book

Tiger Temple by Lars GuignardTitle: Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple (Zoe & Zak Series, Book #3)
Author: Lars Guignard
Publisher: Fantastic Press
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Number of Pages: 267
Recommended Age: 8+
Summary: Last semester, Zoe and Zak returned the first lost Noble Truth to its rightful home. Now, Zoe and Zak are back in India for their second semester at Moonstock Himalayan Academy. School kicks off with the Activity Week Challenge in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan where the students must deliver medical supplies. Things, however, take a turn for the worse, when Zak becomes deathly ill after an encounter with a strange floating bubble. On returning to Moonstock, Zoe and Zak discover that a creature has come through the lava hole far below their dormitory. When Zoe and Zak follow the creature, they soon discover what they must do. They have been tasked with finding the second lost Noble Truth -- the Tiger Eye of Justice. Finding the Tiger Eye sounds like an impossible mission, and it's only made more confusing when Zak discovers that he has been given a supernatural power to help them with their task-- a power which Zak, for the life of him, just can't control. But he's going to have to learn how to use his new ability, because if Zoe and Zak can't find the Tiger Eye quickly, Zak's time will run out.

My Review

I am truly captivated by Guignard's 3rd book of Zoe & Zak series, Tiger Temple, I was not feeling well for the past weeks but I managed to finish the book in 2 days, that shows how good the book is, I simply can't put it down.  As with the previous 2 books; Ghost Leopard and Yogi Curse, it is filled with suspends, adventurous, excitement and of course a quest, this time it is to find the Tiger Eye to save the Second Noble Truth.  I mentioned in my review on the Yogi Curse that perhaps Guignard is trying to put more focus on Zak, well it seems that I may have been right.  In this book Zak has gained a special power that puts him into the limelight and not to mention putting his life in danger too.  

As much as I like the story, I am puzzled why Mr Muk, Zoe & Zak's mentor since the 1st book, has taken a less important role.  Is it because he has been "reborn" thus his power is lesser?  The villain this time is a super duper rich & cocky 12 year old Vijay who fires beam of light from his mouth and works for Talusar.  

I believe the children will love this book as much as I do and looking forward to the next book.  

Buzz About the Zoe & Zak Series

Book 1: "Awesome! ~ I am 11 and I liked the book because I love adventures. It was a different kind of adventure from what I usually read and it was funny too. " ~ 5-Star Review from J. Olsen, Amazon

Book 1: "This was a fun read. This book was like a kid's version of Indiana Jones. It's also very educational as Zoe tells you real facts about what she sees and the history. I enjoyed it immensely. If you have a 10-12 year old child that loves adventure books, this is definitely a must read. " ~ 5-Star review from Simone Lilly-Egerter, Amazon

Book 1: "I'm sure this book was written for children who are around the age of the two children in the book, 11 or so. But, this 35 year old loved this book! It had action, adventure and imagination galore! It was exactly the kind of adventure that a lot of kids that age dream of." ~ 5-Star review from The Novice Christian, Amazon

Book 2: "I have a 10 year old son who is an avid reader!! He loves books, (but he's picky too) he loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. He was so excited to read the 2nd book in this series! When I presented him the first book he was not sure he would like it but changed his mind quickly, then when I heard about the 2nd book being released he almost jumped out of his chair! (no exaggeration) He is anxiously awaiting the 3rd book! I would say that any child who enjoys fantasy/adventure books should read this series! It is a well written page turner! It's a fun story that adults can even enjoy the storyline without getting bored! According to my son, 'every kid should read this series'. " ~ 5-Star review from SavyGreenSaver, Amazon

Book 2: "I loved this book, even as an adult reading it. I was completely sucked into the plot and was constantly finding myself staying up "just a little longer" to read one more chapter. Different twists and turns in the book have you constantly guessing who is behind what and who Zak and Zoe can trust. I could definitely see myself being involved in this series as a middle schooler considering how much I enjoyed it even now. Another thing I liked about it is if you missed the first book, you could still follow along with this one and not be lost." ~ 5-Star review from Staci, Amazon

Book 2: "Lars Guignard has done a fabulous job with this series. I loved the `Ghost Leopard' & love this one even more. For late-elementary to middle school age readers, you can't beat this series. It's fun and fast-paced. Even my picky fifth grader enjoyed every page. There are bits of magic thrown in keep the action exciting. Mr. Guignard has a brilliant imagination & readers are blessed that he's chosen to use it for YA fiction. If you've yet to read the first installment in this series, do yourself a favor and read these books back to back. Don't limit it just to kids! Adults will have a blast reading these too!" ~ 5-Star review from Liz Terek, Amazon


About The Author: Lars Guignard

Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard, Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse, and Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple.

He lives in the Pacific Northwest where he dodges bears and cougars while hiking & skiing the magnificent Coast Mountain Range.

For news about new releases, please join his email list by contacting the author: Zoe&

* Tiger Temple Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (or PayPal cash).
Contest runs: January 15 to February 21, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Worldwide
How to enter: Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Lars Guignard and Fantastic Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Disclaimer : We received a pdf copy of the book Zoe & Zak Tiger Temple for the purpose of giving our honest review on the book.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Foodie Fridays - 3 dishes + 1 soup home cooked food

I think I speak for every one in the DinoFamily that we are tired of eating outside food.  Last Sunday even though I was feeling unwell I decided to cook dinner for us.  As I did not want to tired myself I decided to go for dishes that are simple and easy to prepare.  I took a peep in my fridge to see what I have stashed up inside and found chicken mid wings, 1 fish fillet, some pork ribs & carrots.  Having made a mental note of the dishes I can prepare with these ingredients I made my way to the supermarket to gather the additional ingredients.

Besides the soup that was prepared earlier that afternoon and took about 2 hours to be done, the other 3 dishes were done in minutes.  It took me about 45mins finish cooking the dishes and we had an unexpected early dinner that day.  Here are our simple 3 dish + 1 soup home cooked dinner.

*** *** ***

Since DinoBoy requested for my air-baked chicken wings I granted his wish that day but this time the chicken wings did not taste as nice.  The additional 5 more minutes of air-baking to achieve a golden look had caused the skin to be too dry, as you can see from the photo.

My mum used to prepare this dish and I love it, the only difference between her version and mine are the missing baby corn & sliced mushrooms.  This is cooked with some oyster sauce, a little salt and sugar, it is then thicken with corn flour and bring to boil.  A quick dish since the sliced fish & prawns takes only a few minutes to be cooked.

Occasionally we craved for herbal soup but sometimes, like that Sunday, I don't have the time to gather the necessary ingredients so I just grab a packet from the supermarket.  This Liuwei tang 六味汤; literally translated as "six-taste soup" is a sweet soup used for clearing "heat"

I am a vegetable lover but I am really bad with identifying green leafy vegetables.  I can easily recognise xiao bai cai, choy sum, wolfberry leaves, kai lan but the rest are a blur to me.  I stir-fried these with a little bit of Knorr chicken seasoning and sprinkled some fried shallots after I dished them.

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Princess Madeline & The Dragon - Book Review & Giveaway

Princess Madeline and the Dragon - Tour Button - 3 Kirstin Pulioff

About the Book

Title: Princess Madeline and the Dragon (Princess Madeline Trilogy, Book #3)
Author: Kirstin Pulioff
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Caliburn Books
Number of pages: 135
Recommended age: 10+
Summary: After a season of battle and rebuilding, the Kingdom of Soron is exhausted. With the return of the exiled wizards, the Spring Faire, and her upcoming wedding, Princess Madeline is looking forward to a peaceful season of celebration. When the mysterious green dragon reappears, threatening the kingdom and the king, Princess Madeline and Prince Braden won’t rest for long. Faced with this incredible new danger, Princess Madeline and Prince Braden must find a way to lead their kingdom and secure their future. Can they find the answers hidden within their mother’s cryptic messages from the past, or will the dragon destroy everything they hold dear? Follow Princess Madeline as she embarks on a dangerous new adventure to save her kingdom and her family.

My Review

As with the previous 2 books, I was captivated by the story from the first chapter.  The story started with a prologue of the Lord Hawthorne's legacy where he fought and killed the red dragon, it is also during this batter that the Dragon's Gate was formed.  Next we were brought to a scene in the apothecary with the wizard Elias mixing some concoctions to help Princess Madeline to remember her occurring dream, but all she can remember is green fog.  The story then moves off to the outside where everyone in the Kingdom of Soron are preparing for the Spring Market, an event that every one is looking forward to after the disaster the year before.

However, it seems that good days are not here yet as a green dragon suddenly appeared, seriously injured King Theodore and threatening the people of Soron.  In view of the dangerous situation, it was decided that Prince Branden was to be crowned King of Soron and Princess Madeline to marry Sir Daniel the next day. 

"The race of the dragons to find the lost, he who recovers the orbs holds the line of the future"

Those were Queen Eleanor's late words and with that in mind, King Braden, Princess Madeline and Elias the wizard have to figure out the meaning of it and save the Kingom of Sohon from being destroyed by the green dragon.

Since the first book The Escape of Princess Madeline, author has portrayed Princess Madeline with a strong character, in this book she has taken her a step further.  She has shown us that Princess Madeline is as capable as her twin brother King Braden, she is able to lead and direct her people when her knight, Sir Daniel is unsure.  However I did see uncertainty from her people at times during their underground travel to Dragon Gate.  When the earthquakes caused the tunnel to start to collapse and on the decision to protect the dragon eggs instead of destroying them, the people pondered for a while whether if they should listen and follow their Princess as compared to those who are forever ready to go to which ever directions King Braden points to.  However such uncertainty is not unfamiliar since female leadership has been met with doubts and questions since so long ago.

It would have been a perfect book if not for the few typos in the book; a dragon's tail was written as tale.  I thought this book will be more suitable for kids 12 years old and above due to a few intimacy scenes such as when Sir Daniel kissed Princess Madeline.  Younger kids may think it's [the kissing] gross and some may not understand a few scenes like when both of them looked "knowingly at each other without speaking words.

I am not a fan of kings, queens, knights etc but found myself enjoying the book, especially with its "living happily ever after" ending.

More Buzz About The Book

"The story is engaging on many levels, as is Pulioff's writing, but on this occasion I was mostly drawn into the action and the mystery as how to prevent the worst from happening. This is great entertainment and should do well across a wider age range." ~ 5 Star Review,ChristophFischerBooks, Amazon

"Kirstin Pulioff has saved the best for last. 'Princess Madeline and the Dragon' is the final instalment in the 'Princess Madeline Trilogy'. I thought the first two books were finely wrought stories, but this novel surpasses its predecessors. Prophesies, family tragedies, magic and - of course - dragons, combine to produce a tale that is an instant classic. Written with a great deal of charm, 'Princess Madeline and the Dragon' will not disappoint Ms Pulioff's young fans. I look forward to seeing where next her imagination will take this natural storyteller. " ~ 5 Star Review, Diogenes, Amazon

"Princess Madeline and the Dragon is an exciting and thoroughly satisfying final chapter in this fantasy/adventure series. As she did with books one and two, the author has created a fantasy world in a rich medieval setting that we can believe in--and want to visit, over and over...Along with adventure, a sweet romance, and a theme that centers on the power of love, you may find a surprise or two! If your tween or teen loves princesses, brave heroes and fairytales of daring-do, they shouldn't miss this one!" ~ 5 Star Review, Ally S., Goodreads


About the Author: Kirstin Pulioff

Kirstin Pulioff
Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in Oregon, and enjoys being a stay at home mom. When she’s not writing, she is busy with her kids and church.

* $25 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: January 13th to January 31st, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Kirstin Pulioff and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Disclaimer : We received a pdf copy of the book Princess Madeline & The Dragon for the purpose of giving our honest review on the book.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Diane Cantrell Book Blast & Giveaway

About the Books

Title: Riley's Lost Tooth
Author: Diane Cantrell  
Illustrator: Heather Castles
Publication Date: February 16, 2010
Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group  
Number of pages: 24 Recommended age: 4+
Summary: Oh no! One of Sunday's very favorite humans, Riley, has lost her tooth! But where did it go? How did she lose it? Why does no one besides Sunday seem to care? It isn't long before the tooth fairy steps in and tries to teach the pups all about growing up. Join Sunday and her two puppy-pals, Precious and Mr. Lee, as they try to hunt down . . . Riley s lost tooth!

Book Trailer for Riley's Lost Tooth

Title: Good-bye Baby Max
Author: Diane Cantrell
Illustrator: Heather Castles
Publication Date: February, 2008
Publisher: Bridgeway Books
Number of pages: 32
Recommended age: 4+
Summary: Mrs. B's class excitedly awaits the birth of three baby chicks. When Max is unable to crack open his shell, the children's loving teacher assists them in expressing their feelings of loss and planning a special good-bye.

The Buzz

Riley's Lost Tooth: "The book is well written and the illustrations are beautiful. The book will definitely appeal to all children (including children at heart like this reviewer) and their parents / grandparents / elder siblings and other care givers. The book is strongly recommended as a good gift that is educational and also entertaining." ~ 5 Star Review, S.V. Swamy, Amazon

Good-bye Baby Max: "This book is amazing! I have given it as several gifts to my friends with children. It is very well written and the illustrations are fun and colorful. This book it a great tool to help parents and teachers talk to children about loss of a pet and a loved one in general. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!" ~ 5 Star Review, Dawn N., Amazon

Good-bye Baby Max: "This colorful, hardcover children’s title Good-bye, Baby Max (Bridgeway Books, Texas, 2007) by Diane Cantrell & Heather Castles is special in its purpose of teaching an invaluable lesson: that of properly saying the final farewell to a loved one who is no more ... Diane Cantrell has created a very purposeful book for children-one that is at once a story, a poem, and a healthy course of helping children get over grief. The book’s illustrations by Heather Castles are very appealing to a child’s imagination. There is a good deal here in Good-bye, Baby Max to learn for children ages 4 to 8 years and the 32-pages book is a must read for all kids of this age category." ~ Ernest Dempsey, Book Corner

Good-bye Baby Max: "I bought this book to help my nieces and nephews deal with the loss of a beloved pet. The storyline and illustrations were used as a springboard to discuss their own loss. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has young children and is looking for a way to help them cope with a loss in their lives." ~ 5 Star Review, Jeanne B., Amazon

Good-bye Baby Max: "[Good-bye, Baby Max] is a tender story about death, a tough topic for young children. Kindergarteners eagerly await spring and the hatching of the class' three chick eggs. But one chick, Max, dies. What ensues is a gentle exploration of grief and its many expressions -- from tears to songs to artwork. At the end, the surviving chicks' peeps encourage the children to embrace the living without forgetting the dead." ~ Michele Siuda Jacques, Detroit Free Press

About the Author: Diane Cantrell

Diane Cantrell began her career in education teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Transitional First Grade. She also worked as a counselor providing assistance to parenting teens in a local school district. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Diane has provided therapy for adults, families, and children in agencies and private practice settings. As part of her private practice, she offers parent training to her clients and to parents in local schools. Diane is presently writing and publishing children’s books as well as provides counseling services to adults and children in her private practice, Life Designs Counseling.

Diane’s time at Fort Sam Houston I.S.D. provided inspiration for Good-bye, Baby Max. The book, which is based on a true story, describes how Ms. B helps her kindergarten class cope with the loss of a classroom pet. At the time Diane wrote the book she was working with many children who were experiencing a great deal of loss in their lives. Her hope in writing Good-bye, Baby Max was that the story would help parents, children, and other caring professionals begin talking about losses rather than responding to their losses from a state of fear. Her second book, Riley’s Lost Tooth, was written for her granddaughter, Riley as a Valentine’s Day present. Mr. Lee, and Sunday are main characters in the book as is Precious, who died before the book was written.

When Diane is not involved in writing or listening to people’s stories, she enjoys being with her husband, Rich, and their two dogs, Sunday and Mr. Lee. Diane and Rich live in San Antonio, Texas.

* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $100 AmazongGift card or PayPal cash (winner's choice)
Contest runs: January 20th to February 19th, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Diane Cantrell and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting And Marriage - Book Review

About the Book

Title: The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting And Marriage (Kindle Edition)
Author: Jon Ziegler
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 180
Summary: The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting and Marriage is a collection of offbeat, humorous stories written by a well-intentioned, but definitely far from perfect father and husband. Although the book has elements that nearly all parents and married couples can identify with, the author also delivers a hilariously unique perspective that definitely sets it apart from the usual "funny things my kids said and did" kind of humor.

So if side-splitting parenting and marriage humor is what you are seeking, dive into The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting and Marriage, and you might just be the next person to say, "I laughed until I had tears running down my cheeks!"

My Review

The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting and Marriage - written by A Man... about his marriage life... about his Daddy duties.

Oooo~~ this is enough to get me excited.  Oh c'mon ladies~ how often do you get to hear or even read about a Man's view on marriage and parenting without giving us their macho male attitude or those irritating "I told you so" smirks?  I thought it was a book about the "Do Not Do these"advises and tips, from a Man's but I was wrong.  Let's just say that if you are looking for some tips on how to be a better husband/dad or hoping to gain an insight of a man's complicated brain so that you can better understand your man, sorry mate, you've got the wrong book.  However, IF you are are interested in real life stories of A Man and his daily challenges as a husband to a wife who works as a nurse, a dad to 2 beautiful girls and a trainer (lol) to his 1 dog and 2 cats, THEN you've got the right book.

Let's admit it, we all love to know some if not every thing about other people's life, we like to hear their Story of My Life events.  Why?  So that we can "share" our views and/or experiences with them, so that we know we are doing all the right things and most important of all we can secretly pat our chest and tell ourselves silently that we are not a bad or the worst partner or parents in the whole wide world coz that position is taken up already.

With this book, you are definitely going to relate to a handful of things he and his wife did.  I did the S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G-O-U-T-T-H-E-W-O-R-D trick when we did not want DinoBoy to know about something when he was younger.

DinoBoy called it The Funny Book, I have to agree with him, and we have a reason for that.  When I was reading the book I was laughing so hard and so loud that my sides hurts.  DinoBoy read the book too, yupe I let my 8YO read it, not the whole book but the few times when he caught me laughing so loud (something he rarely see me do) and makes him run up to me asking eagerly "Mama! What are you laughing about huh huh huh?!??", I just have to share it with him even though he may not understand all of it.  His favourite story is this;
The Smudge
I was never the kind of dad that was shy about tackling my share of the diaper changing duties, and I think I became quite adept at it.

On one particular morning, I found myself face to face with the kind of mess that every parent dreads. The poop containment properties of the diaper had completely failed and there was "matter" everywhere. But this wasn't my first rodeo, so wielding baby wipes like a samurai warrior, I charged headlong into battle.

After ten minutes of very intense hand-to-butt combat, I declared victory and began to put the child's onesie back on. Glancing down, I noticed a smudge of poop on the back of my left hand. It was hardly a concern in light of the toxic cleanup I had just performed, but as I reached for another wipe to remove the smudge, I noticed a second patch of poop on my right forearm.
Now I was mildly annoyed at my carelessness, so I headed to the bathroom sink to wash up to my elbows and be done with poop smudges.

After scrubbing thoroughly and drying, I glanced in the vanity mirror only to find yet another smudge of poop that was shaped like South America on my forehead. "What the . . . . ?"

Enough was enough. I stripped naked and put all my clothes and underwear into the garbage. I then took one of the most thorough showers I've ever taken in my life, washing every square inch twice.  "Well that takes care of that!" I said aloud, and headed for the fridge for a glass of iced tea.

As I raised the glass of freshly poured tea, I noticed on the glass, near the rim . . . a smudge of poop and two more on the pitcher and the fridge door handle.

"Okay, you got me!" I said in a loud voice to whoever was running around with a bucket of poop, smudging things. But there was no one there . . . just the click, click of the dog’s toenails as he trotted in to see what the commotion was about . . .with poop smudges on his ear and tail. I was dumbfounded.
Now, you probably think that the dog is guilty of the Smudge, well~ you are probably right hahah~ but I'm not telling.

This is one book which I will most likely bring out to read again and again, especially if I am feeling a little bit down.  It has got so many stories that really tickle me and giving me a chance to laugh out really loud plus, they said Laughter is the Best Medicine right?


The kindle book is free for download from 18th January to 19 January 2014 (PST)

About the Author

Hello, I am Jon Ziegler, the author of The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting and Marriage. I am a tree trimmer by day, and love to do my writing in my spare time. I draw my inspiration from my wonderful wife and two daughters.

When I wrote The How-Not-To Guide To Parenting and Marriage, it was just an outlet for all the silly stories that float around in my head.

I knew that when I would tell parts of these stories to people, they often found it hilarious, but I didn't know if I could get the same reaction if I tried to write it down.

I'm just now starting to realize that there is a devoted audience out there for the book and it thrills me. I am truly grateful for everyone who has a twisted sense of humor similar to mine, and love the fact that people enjoy the book.

Remarks : This post contains affiliated links.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Foodie Fridays - Baked Chicken & Asparagus with Sea Salt

I wasn't a fan of salt and rarely uses them in my cooking.  In the later part of last year I discovered that sea salt is a whole new thing when I made grilled salmon fillet, food actually tastes different if its seasoned with it.  Recently I made the following 2 more dishes with sea salt as part of the seasoning, they are really easy peasy recipe and great for weekdays dinner dishes as they require less then 30min preparation & cooking time.

I popped the chicken and the asparagus into my Philips Avance XL Airfryer so that I can prepare the other dishes on the stove without worrying them getting overcooked or burnt.

You can decide if you want to turn the chicken wing over after 10mins into baking, I decided to turn mine for no particular reason other then just because I want to do it hahaha~

I guarantee you that they are really really REALLY tasty because since I cooked them on last Sunday & Monday respectively DinoBoy has been asking me every day if I could cook them again. I shall obliged him this weekend.

In the recipes below I did not put in any measurement because it depends on personal preference.  For example you see from the asparagus photo above there were small bits of butter in it, later on I decided to add more coz I prefer mine to have that butter smell & taste when I bite into it.  So you decide the amount of seasoning you want to add to get your Mmmm~ taste.

Oven Baked Chicken Wings

by Jennifer Lim
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Keywords: airfryer bake main chicken

* Chicken wings or thighs

* Sea Salt
* Rosemary

1. Wash and pat dry the chicken wings with kitchen towel.
2. Sprinkle some sea salt & rosemary, toss the chicken wings to mix the seasoning.
3. Arrange chicken wings in the air fryer basket and bake it for at 160Deg for 20 - 30mins or till the skin is crispy.

** For oven, preheat oven at 170Deg and bake for about 30mins or till the skin is crispy.

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Oven Baked Asparagus

by Jennifer Lim
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Keywords: airfryer bake main Vegetable

* 1 packet of asparagus

* Sea salt
* Garlic powder
* Some unsalted butter

1. Wash the asparagus.
2. Sprinkle with some sea salt & garlic powder, toss to mix the seasoning.
3. Put the asparagus into the air fryer and bake with 160Deg for about 30mins or till its soft.

** For oven, preheat oven at 160Deg and bake for about 30mins or till the asparagus are soft.

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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Dragon Defender - Book Review & 2 Giveaways

Dragon Defender - Blog Tour Button  J.A. Blackburn

About the Book

Title: Dragon Defender (Dragon Defense League, Book #1)
Author: J.A. Blackburn
Publication Date: October 19, 2013
Publisher: Pip & Grey
Number of pages: 242
Recommended age: 10+
Summary (Amazon): For over a thousand years dragons have existed in secret . . .

Peter Clark can build a robot from scratch and pick a lock in two minutes or less. But he can't figure out why his mother left or why his grandma refuses to talk about her. When Uncle Dominick shows up on Peter's twelfth birthday with a letter that hints at answers and an incredible story about dragons, Peter follows him, determined to find out the truth about his mother's disappearance.

What he finds is a reality far different from what he ever could have imagined - where dragons live in hiding, hunted by poachers for their magical parts, and a small group of men and women work tirelessly to protect them. These are the Dragon Defenders. Peter's uncle is one. So was his mother. Now it's Peter's turn.

* Finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Literary Contest *

My Review

The story started off with an unusual nasty thunderstorm which to me, perhaps signifies that it is the beginning of a new chapter for the twelve year old Peter Clark.  On this same stormy night Uncle Dominick, whom Peter heard of but couldn't remember meeting ever, paid a visit to him at Grandma's house.  He came to seek Peter's help but not before telling him the bizarre story about their family and Dragon Defense League, their special calling that was passed down since the Middle Ages.  He also told Peter a little about his mother whom he has not seen since she dropped him off at Grandma's when he was 5 years old.

Shortly after that and much to the disapproval of Grandma, Peter sneaked off to find Uncle Dominick where they embarked on a journey to Mexico in search of a newly hatched Cuélebre dragon egg, a first egg after two hundred years.  They must find and move it to a safe place before the Knights of White Rose lay their hands on it.  In the midst of the adventure, Peter got separated from Uncle Dominick but not before he took the egg from its nest, away from the knights.  From there onwards its up to Peter to bring the egg to a safe place, but where and how?  With a little help from 2 kids,Xana & Mario whom he befriended along the way, the trio fought with their life to protect the precious egg.

The story is filled with excitement and actions, I especially like the part where Ix-Tub-Tan, the Cuélebre dragon fights with the evil Knights of White Rose to protect her baby.  I was drawn into the scene and felt the tense moments when it seems that the dragon is losing the fight but with a lash of her tail she sent them flying into the air WooHoo~

Much as I love this book, there are a few areas that I feel lacking some thing in some way.  Reading into eht early part of the book, I couldn't help but wonder how could Peter cross over the border and into Mexico without any passport or papers?  There are a few amazing characters in the book but they were not written enough to show their personality.  For example Mario, the orphan Mexican boy who lived in an old car.  I would think that he is street smart and would have great ideas when caught in situations but I did not see him shine through, which is kinda of disappointing.  Some events were not explained clearly enough like how did Uncle Dominick escaped from the Knights.  

I love the ending though, where Peter forge a special connection with Ix-Tub-Tan, his first unua.  I will be looking forward to the next book as I want to find out what exactly happened to Peter's mother and her mysterious disappearance.  Most of all I would love to read more about the many other dragons which Peter will be discovering.

More Buzz About the Book

"We read an advance copy of this book on kindle earlier this year and our 5th grade son read it twice and is anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. Great adventure, really kept our interest reading it together at night. This was one of the kids books I most enjoyed reading myself as well. The characters and the plot are well developed, and appealing to a wide range of kids (both genders). The writing is sophisticated but easy to understand, not 'dumbed down' like many kids books. The subject of dragons was so well crafted that it's easy believe that dragons just might exist, after all." ~ 5 Star Review, Leigh A., Amazon

"Reminiscent of the Fablehaven series (with just the right touch of Harry P.) this middle grade book is both an adventure and a pleasure...Fast-paced and full of wonder, this book takes middle grade readers on a vivid journey from the southwestern U.S. to Mexico; where jungles, ancient ruins and local folklore add to the enchantment that Peter finds when he discovers that dragons are in fact, real. As a former elementary school teacher, my strong feeling is that kids will eat this book whole, and then turn to searching for dragon eggs in their own backyards!" ~ 5 Star Review, Grace W., Amazon

"Dragon Defender was an absorbing action packed read! The author pulls you in from the first page and I'm not sorry to say I read it all in the first day. I'm 33 but still! This is a fun book for a chapter a night with your 5 year old (my son is loving it so far) or for yourself. The characters are well developed so you feel like you're really there, and the dragon is so believable. I'd venture so far as to say I had to remind myself that dragons don't really exist.... or do they?" ~ 5 Star Review, MGC, Amazon


About the Author: J.A. Blackburn

J. A. Blackburn lives in Seattle, Washington in a small white house overlooking the sea with her husband, Jason, her son, Camden, and their dog, Bella. Dragon Defender is her first novel.

Giveaway #1

* An autographed Dragon Defender paperback *

Prize: An autographed Dragon Defender paperback
Contest runs: January 17th to January 23, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

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Giveaway #2

* $50 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest runs: January 6th to January 31, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, J.A. Blackburn and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Disclaimer : We received a pdf copy of the book Dragon Defender for the purpose of giving our honest review on the book. Jenny Blackburn has generously sponsored the autographed Dragon Defender paperback for our giveaway.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A good school bag for a healthier and happier child

2nd day of the new school year and DinoBoy came back with 2 letters from the school, in one of the letters the school mentioned about school bags.

I guess this is a major concern to parents, especially for those who's kids just started Primary 1 this year.  Therefore I decided to do a little analysis and write up a post on this so that some of you have a clear idea (I hope) on this.

I asked DinoBoy to stand on our bathroom scale and he weighs 21.6kg; so 10% of his body weight is 2.16kg and 15% is 3.24kg.  Then I went ahead to weigh the items he carries daily to school on my kitchen scale and gathered the figures;

* School bag - 800g
* Yellow netted file to keep letters/worksheets  - 100g
* Student handbook - 250g
* Pencil &color pencil case - 200g
* Exercise book - 100g
* Maths textbook - 475g
* Chinese textbook - 275g
* Student Care tee in drawstring nylon bag - 175g
* Geronimo story book - 200g
Total weight on his shoulders is 2.575kg 

Now if you add the water bottle (Filled full with water) of 620g slinged around his shoulder, the total weight on his shoulders becomes 3.195kg, almost close to 15% max weight.  That's a lot of weight for an eight year old!  Sometimes I find that his bag is heavy for me too! 

(Do note that these are the standard things he has to carry daily so if he needs to bring extra things like Social Studies book, Moral Education book, extra story book then the weight will be more)

DinoBoy's school provides lockers for the students to keep some of their textbooks, workbooks and exercise books in the classroom so they have lesser things to carry to & fro school.  I am sure most if not all of the school will have lockers for the students so do check with your child's school.  

Our Bag
With a potential heavy load on my small built boy, I was determined to get a good school bag for him even before he started primary 1 last year.  I have seen kids struggled with a heavy bag, walking with hunched back and a strained look on their face.  This will affect their body posture which will cause vertebral subluxation in future leading to frequent neckaches or headaches.  I know this because I was a "victim" and I have written about it, My Twisted Spine in 2012.

Back then, I studied the bags in the market and zeroed in to Ergoworks bags, they may not have the lightest or the cheapest bag in town but it has good back support system that fits the contour of the spine.  Ergoworks has many backpack designs & models to suit every child, DinoBoy carries an Impact Backpack IPEG-086 as it fits him nicely due to his body size.  The padding on the back not only provides firm support it also provides ventilation so his back will not feel too warm due to body heat or perspiration.  I also like the padded shoulder straps which provides comfortable padding on the shoulder and underarm.  The chest clip ensure that the bag is snug-tight against his body preventing him from being pulled backward by the heavy books.

However, it is not enough to have a good school bag, you must also know how to pack them and educate your child about it too.  It is best to pack most of the heavier items such as textbooks to the back of the bag so that they are closer to your child's body and the weight is on the shoulder instead of pulling the body backward.  Impact's bag has a slot inside for this purpose which I like a lot as I can simply instruct DinoBoy to put all his books in that slot instead of stuffing them into the bag "any-o-how", thus ensuring that he will always have most of the weight closer to his body.

Impact backpacks bags have a moulded frame that ensures it will stand on its own when you put it on the floor.  This also means that the weight will not pull DinoBoy backward which usually happens when you have a soft fabric or nylon bags that does not hold a shape on its own.

We Disagree & Discourage
Many parents think that it's ok to buy "ill fitting" bag now since their child will grow up eventually to fit the bag (Ill fitting bags means bags that are bigger then the child's frame).  I disagree to this as it may take months or even year(s) for a child to grow into bigger body frame, take DinoBoy for example, though he has grown taller he is still so small built after a year!  To carry a misfit bag for such long period of time will cause some strain on their back and definitely will affect their walking and standing postures.

You buy bags that are suitable for your child, not the other way around just to save some dollars and hoping that your child will eventually be able to carry the bag comfortably.

I also discourage friends from buying school bags with wheels for their child as I feel that there will be tendency of hurting the shoulder muscles while pulling a heavy load behind them.  I have seen students walking and pulling that kind of bag behind them and the bag over turned thus twisting their writs.  I won't want such accidents to happen to my child.

Our Tips
Here are the few things to look out for when choosing a good school bag.

1. The shoulder straps should be padded for comfort and rest nicely on your child's shoulders, not slanted or dropping on one side.  The strap should be wide enough to ensure that the weight of the bag is distributed more evenly.

2. The school bag should sit comfortably with its bottom just at hip level and the top of the bag should be a little above the shoulders.  This will ensure that the mass weight is centred at waist height.  The bag should also be padded where it touches the back.

3. Look for school bags with chest clip and/or waist belt so that it keep the bag close to the body and in place when moving around.

4.  Its best to get a bag with moulded frame so even if the books falls forward the bag still holds it shape and weight is still close to the child's body instead of pulling the child backward.

Our Alternative Suggestion
Alternatively you can distribute the books between the school bag and another hand carry bag.  I have done that and its very cumbersome for DinoBoy.  He is not tall so if he hold the bag at the handle he will be dragging it on the floor and if he sling it on the crook of his elbow, it will be too tiring for him to carry it for long period of time.

The shape of DinoBoy's Impact bag always gives others an impression that he is carrying an over load bag, contrary to that, the weight is ok for him. 

Our Conclusion
So, do what you must to ensure that you do not over load your child's school bag and put a strain on his delicate back.  In general, DinoBoy's school bag weight is within the preferred weight as advised by Singapore's Health Promotion Board.  To lessen DinoBoy's load, I have decided to let him bring half filled water bottle to school as he can refill it any time from the water cooler found in the school compound.

It's never too early to start a good habit and take care of our child's body.  I hope you find this post useful to you, if you have any suggestions please feel free to drop me a note in the comment section below.

Disclaimer : We are not compensated in any way by Ergoworks for this post.  All opinions and views are 100% based on our personal experience in using the Impact Backpack with the hope of sharing the positive information with our readers.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

52 Weeks Money Challenge

My friend Rachael posted a link in her FB wall recently and it caught my attention, I clicked it and was brought to House Made Home page with her post of 52 Week Money Challenge - Are you Game???.  Save $1k+ in 12 month, by depositing $1 for every accumulated week, not a bad idea~  This can be an extra savings for the family or even for this Mama to buy something to pamper herself at the end of the year *rubs hands together* 

I've modified the table a little bit by adding the date because the days seem to fly by without me noticing and I will definitely miss out the deposit.  I have created a printout using Google shared document, you can print it here.

I will also set an alarm in my mobile phone to remind me to deposit the money into the jar.

I've set the alarm!

To kick off year 2014, I have already agreed with Rachael to do this together, will you join us too?

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Rachael & I had a discussion after I published this post, we think its a good idea to include a reward in the table.  Hmm... I have not think of a reward and whether it will be for the family, for DinoPapa, for DinoBoy or for me.  So I'll leave mine blank for now.  

Do share your reward with me and at the end of the year we shall celebrate together for completing the challenge~

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Paper Money

While every one was out partying and getting ready for the new year countdown, I was at home.

Feeling restless.

While every one was excited about the last hour drawing near, getting ready to countdown, I was at home.

Folding paper money.

While every one was dancing away after the clock stroke twelve, I was at home.

Feeling empty while lying on my bed.

While every one was still sleeping after partied till wee hours, I was at home.

Folding paper money for Mum... and feeling empty.

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