Watermelon Shark – healthy kids party food with some bite!

My first little boy was three yesterday. Such a big boy already. Ooops something in my eye… He insists he can pick me up already which is no mean feat.

AND, this week his preschool celebrated no less than three birthdays. That means a whole lot of cupcakes, muffins,and sweet birthday treats. Not that I am a stickler for birthday treats, hey, I cooked an Oreo cake.  Toddler sugar HIIIIIGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

However, in the interests of introducing a little less sugar to school life and a bit more fruit, I opted to make a watermelon shark for the preschool party.  And, yes, I realise fruit contains natural sugar, but its also full of fiber, vitamins and nutrients, and its gotta be better than cake everyday right? In the least I enjoyed making it, and I think the kids had fun eating it to.

I originally saw a version of this on pinterest (I’m on there if you want to find me BTW) and I made my first watermelon shark for my youngest’s 1st birthday. It’s a bit like pumpkin carving, but unlike pumpkins, watermelons are plentiful in Singapore all year round, and a fraction of the cost.

So without further ado, here’s my step by step of how to make a watermelon shark.

step 1. slice the end off the watermelon at an angle

Step 1. Slice the end off at an angle.

1. Take one large watermelon and a large long sharp knife. Slice the end of the watermelon off on a slight diagonal. You want your watermelon to stand on this flat end and look like a shark head jumping up out of the water.

step 2 scoop out contents of melon

Step 2. Scoop out the flesh and seeds from your melon.

2. Scoop out the flesh of the melon. I save the flesh for eating and blending for smoothies. Leave a little flesh along the edge of the melon where the mouth will go as it adds a little extra gore as pink flesh or blood on the teeth!

step 4 cut a vertical wedge out of the side of the melon

Step 3. Cut a vertical wedge out of the side of the melon.

3. Cut a vertical wedge up from the bottom (open) end of the melon. This is where your shark’s fin is going to slot in. So this will be the back of the ‘head’ of your shark.

step 5 cut your melon lid aka sharks fin diagonally across

Step 4. Cut your sharks fin (melon lid) diagonally

4. Take the lid of your melon and cut diagonally in to approximately 2/3 and 1/3. This is going to be the shark’s fin.

step 6 carve out your shark's mouth jaws

Step 5. carve out the jaws with teeth

5. Carve out your sharks jaw with teeth. You can use a permanent marker pen to mark out the teeth as a guide. If you cut at an angle you see a bit more of the white flesh of the melon which looks more like teeth.

jaws!

JAWS!

step 7 carve out the eyes

Step 7. Carve out the eyes

6. Carve out the eyes. You’ll insert a blueberry here later so don’t worry too much about the shape. I do a triangle so it looks a bit like a cartoon scary sharks eye.

step 8 insert your shark's fin and plate up

Step 7. Insert your shark’s fin and plate up

7. Slot your fin into the wedge at the back of the head and plate your shark up. I have a large round plastic blue tray which was perfect. Last time I used a regular large plate and cut some blue card out in wavy strips and sellotaped them to the plate around the shark to look like waves. This time I arranged my bananas to look like waves!

shark head carved and on blue tray

Shark head on my blue plate, photo of the other side

step 9 arrange fruit inside the jaws and on the plate

Step 8. Arrange fruit inside the jaws and on the plate

8. Arrange your pre-washed fruit around the head. Put your blueberries into the ocular cavities – which sounds so gross but reminds me of my favourite film ‘So I Married an Axe Murderer’.  Peculiar humour moi? You can put grapes inside the head, strawberries, blueberries and bananas all around. The version I saw originally had watermelon balls in the head but I found this got very wet and messy!

I wonder if a punch bowl would fit inside for the grown-ups next time?… Rum fruit punch with a bite!

watermelon shark bites!

Shark attack!

When only Oreo Cake will suffice…

I have been looking through my current favourite baking blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction for inspiration for middle son’s birthday cake, and here she is.  The Oreo Cake. In all its glorious gooeyness.

Oreo Cake. Image copyright Sally’s Baking Addiction. Original recipe taken from Amanda Rettke, Suprise-Inside Cakes.

I think I am losing my inhibitions when it comes to cooking what I previously thought of as shamefully simple confectionery packed desserts. What a toffee nose! Of course there is a sense of achievement when you cook a dessert technically difficult, but hey, I’m not on Master Chef. So, for now, masterchefs, keep your Sabayon, my reward is seeing the pure joy and pleasure my kids and friends get from a mouthful of straight-up soul food.

The party is Saturday, so off to shops to buy a bucket load of Oreo’s. Photo’s to follow 🙂

Follow this link for the Oreo Cake recipe.

Oreo Cake is taken from Amanda Rettke’s Surprise-Inside Cakes available from Amazon.

Who wants to know…which Singapore international school for your child?

colouring by 4 year old

If I had a dollar for every time I heard or discussed this with expat parents, I might be able to afford the term fees of my kids schools!!

Mums talk to other mums (as we all know) and schooling is a hot topic. It seems no sooner have we weaned them, we are told we have to get cracking with registering them for preschool and school. In Weybridge (UK) where I used to live, I was told I had left it too late when my eldest was the grand old age of 1!! Singapore seems to be better, in that there are a raft of top notch pre-schools and schools on your doorstep. So you will definitely be able to get your child into an amazing school; probably with touch screen whiteboards, an Olympic size swimming pool, immersion mandarin lessons, and connections to Julliard school of music in New York don’t you know!. But how will you ever choose which one?

So your starter questions might be … what curriculum are you looking for? where are you going to be living? what can you afford?…a question other mums won’t ask you…but you will certainly need to ask yourself!

You may also want to consider the size of the school,  do you like the attitude of the teachers? If needed, do they offer special support for children with learning differences?…

Suffice to say I am not about to attempt to answer all of those questions, schooling is a very personal choice.

HOWEVER… because I am being helpful I have done some homework for you and can tell you…

1. How much do these international schools charge for Primary school Year one (aged 4-5 years)?

pie chart showing singapore international school fees

SGD$ – This list is not exhaustive, correct at time of publication April 2015 (as far as I know!)

2. Where these schools are located in Singapore? Check out my schools map created with MapCreator.

3. What curriculums do these schools follow?

Hollandse School – Dutch
Dover Court International School – English National Curriculum
Canadian Intl School –  International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
Stamford American International School –  IB PYP integrated with American Education Reaches Out
United World College SEA – “The UWC curriculum”*
Australian International School – International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
Dulwich College – English Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS)
Overseas Family School -International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
St Josephs Intl – International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
Tanglin Trust – English National Curriculum
Avondale Grammar School – Autralian
GEMS World Academy – International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
Nexus International School – International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
International School Singapore – International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme

Additions & Updates:
German European School Singapore – International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
Singapore American School – The Singapore American School Early Childhood Center accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges out of the United States. An international curriculum aligned with the Pre-Kindergarten Standards document out of the United States.
*UWC have withdrawn from IB PYP. On their website regarding Infant school it states “The academic curriculum is structured around a holistic, inquiry-based approach to learning. Guided by the UWCSEA profile and learning principles, students study literacy, mathematics, Chinese (or Spanish from Grade 1), science, social studies, the Arts and PE.”

One last tip is that all of the schools are eager to acquire new minds… so they are more than happy to meet prospective parents and many run open days. So call them up and have a chat, go visit one or two, or three of four. By all means chat to other parents, but I would recommend reserving judgement until you have visited the schools for yourself.

Please let me know if you found this post helpful in the comments section below. Cheers!

 

20% off Sale at Lemon Zest this weekend. Special Cookery Shop, Chip Bee Gardens

shop window cookery display

Lemon Zest, Chip Bee Gardens (opposite Holland Village Shopping Centre)

Holland Village isn’t the easiest place to negotiate with a double buggy BUT it is where you will find Lemon Zest, heaven for home chefs!

I was looking for a frilly apron to wear to my restaurant blogger’s review night (as you do)…. and, something unusual to hand out as a business card. Well, I discovered Lemon Zest, and I found a brilliant floral half pinny with pocket and some fantastic printed wooden disposable spoons that ‘served’ the purpose (chuckle). Middle son, who is the bull in our family’s proverbial china shop, was sleeping, so I took full advantage and snooped around the delectable range of accessories and books. Of course I ‘needed’ everything I saw, but managed to curb my spend to what I came looking for plus some top notch loaf tins. They are heavy duty pans, dishwasher safe, the works, and they performed brilliantly on their baking debut for my split tin loaves. I am going back this weekend to Lemon Zest for some scales – mine is simply too small!

Beth the owner of Lemon Zest was a fountain of knowledge and showed me some of the accessories Lemon Zest alone carries for cooks in Singapore, for example the Kilner Hand Butter Churns.

wpid-20150416_170141.jpg

Beth was also very proud of the cookery book section, which she had every right to be, it trumped plenty of cookery sections I’ve visited in the larger book stores. The photo below only shows one side of the display…this x2….

cookery books at lemon zest shop, holland village

Lemon Zest is located opposite Holland Village Shopping Centre in Chip Been Gardens (would have been directly behind the old post office before the MRT moved in, for those of you who have been around in Singapore for a few years!) It’s a bit hidden behind the rather large construction site on that corner, but persevere it is worth finding. The range is really big, and I’d recommend Lemon Zest whether you are looking for some accessories for a kids party, or you are REALLY serious about your cooking and baking. There are books, aprons, jam-making equipment, silicone bake ware, top quality pans, mixers, mincers, and grillers/toaster/waffle makers all-in-one.  Just ask Beth!

This weekend (25/26 April) Lemon Zest are offering 20% off all cookery books and you’ll get a FREE Kilner Jam Spoon with every spend over $50.

Colourful cookware at Lemon Zest cookery shop @Holland Village

….”It’s hotter than a snake’s arse in a wagon rut”

Love this film, must watch it again soon.

It’s a sweltering week already in Singapore and according to the papers it’s going to be the hottest April (for…well for  a while!)

A top tip from me to you on where to go to keep your cool in Singapore… Splish Splash Parks!

Gardens by The Bay Singapore splash park

Gardens By The Bay

You really need kids for this one or you seriously risk looking suspicious. Splash parks are plentiful in Singapore. Free splash parks can be found at Gardens by The Bay, Jacob Ballas Garden @ Botanic Gardens, in Jurong at Westgate by their Wonderland rooftop playground, at Vivo City next to all the kids shops on the 2nd Floor, to name but a few… There are also great ones inside paying attractions like KidzWorld @ Singapore Zoo, Singapore Science Centre, Birdz of Play @Bird Park, and the Port of Lost Wonder on Sentosa Palawan Beach. Please let me know if you see our giant Pitter Chatter Painted Egg there!

I love splash parks as the kids have a ball and the risk of drowning seems less to me than a pool – especially important when you have three kids under four years old! Plus there is usually an ice-cream or coffee bar located nearby.

Damn-Hot-Diggety-Dog! Mrs Freeloader goes to the Rockin’ Diner

mrs freeloader rockin at The Rocikin Diner

Mr X is delighted, I finally have a ‘job’ that puts food on the table! I am officially a food blogger, and what better place to be invited to dine but The Rockin Diner, @11 Club Street. If you want all-american food, the taste, the SIZE, the smiles…this is the place to head. Open Mon-Sat 12pm to 12am.

Mrs Freeloader gives the Rockin Diner the thumbs up!

Hot dog from The Rockin Diner

The Frankenstein

My favourite were their ENORMOUS hot dogs, a fantastic smokey tasting chilli sauce and home-made Lasagna and a bad-ass selection of American, Belgium and European Beers and Ales. AND if YOU’RE the bad-ass, you have to check out their American desserts; The Nutella-Misu (a Tiramisu gone nuts!), and Peanut Butter Oreo Pie. Homer Simpson eat your heart out, then loosen that belt a notch, sit back and droooool…

the rockin diner dessert

The restaurant has a laid-back feel and Kelly the owner is a great guy and has a passion for American food and a good sense of humour. There are plenty of charismatic dishes – try The Philadelphia Cheese Steak, a filleted steak covered in caramalised onions, sautéed peppers and 3 cheese served on a ciabatta.

Philadelphia Cheese Steak

Philadelphia Cheese Steak

“American food is all about over-indulgence and generous portions,” Kelly says. “We are adamant in keeping The Rockin’ Diner true to the same vision, so we serve everything big, or we don’t even bother”.

wpid-20150416_202715.jpg

My favourite ‘dog’ of the evening was The Frankenstein, half pork, half beef, and covered in smokey chilli sauce. Mr X and I waxed lyrical about the perfect union of ‘two meats one bun’….we amused ourselves no end, and washed it down with a risqué bottle of ‘F***ing Hell’ beer and ‘A Dead Pony’ ale. Sweet.

Just need to get my hands on the recipe for one of those all american pie’s…

fucking hell beer

photo 1(2)

David Cameron eat your heart out! Mrs Freeloader does dogs with a knife and fork!

Little Italy's Killa' Lasagne

Little Italy’s Killa’ Lasagne

the rockin diner interior

The Rockin’ Diner by The Mustard Incident, 11 Club Street, Singapore

 

No post about an American diner would be complete without some Travolta and Thurman boggie-ing down… Enjoy y’all.

Who wants to know…When is the right age to start taking kiddies to the dentist?

Dr Terry Teo, Paedodontist (Paediatric Dentist) of The Dental Studio, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic

Dr Terry Teo, Paedodontist (Paediatric Dentist) of The Dental Studio, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic

So apart from feeding the Friedlanders, another of my mummy jobs is looking after the kiddies’ pearly whites. If like me you were wondering just how old should my kids be when I take them to the dentist for a check-up? Check out this very helpful Q&A I did with Dr Terry Teo, Paedodontist (Paediatric Dentist) of The Dental Studio, a Singapore Medical Group (SMG) clinic.

Mrs Freeloader asks: What age is the best age to take children for their first dental check-up?

Dr Teo says…American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends the first dental check-up latest by the first birthday. This is more to establish a dental home for the infant, and to educate parents on proper oral health care in their growing child. [Woops, I am a bad mummy. Missed this one by 3 years. In my non-professional mummy opinion, to get kids ‘used’ to the dentist you could always drag little ones along when you go the dentist so they get used to seeing the dentist chair, let them sit in it, and see mummy have her teeth checked and smile lots, say lots of reassuring comments and reward them with stickers for waiting patiently. I hasten to add Juliet still has all her own teeth and I have now made her appointment for the dentist next month!]

Mrs Freeloader asks: Are electric or battery-operated toothbrushes safe for children? Because mine just love using them!

Dr Teo says…Yes electric toothbrushes are safe and fun to use, because some of the kids ones have helpful timers which chime after 30 seconds, giving an indication of how long each section of the mouth should be brushed. However, all kids should be supervised in brushing up till age 6 as below that they lack the manual dexterity and discipline to properly clean all tooth surfaces.

Mrs Freeloader asks: Should children floss or use mouth rinse?

Dr Teo says…If food is always stuck between the teeth, diligent parents can floss for their child. This is important to remove plaque inter-dentally [between the teeth] as that is a common area for dental decay to develop in children and adults. Kids with lots of spacing between their teeth need not floss that often. The most important tool in prevention of decay and good oral hygiene is a fluoride toothpaste and regular brushing twice a day, especially just before bed.

Mrs Freeloader asks: Are carrots and apples good foods for children as they are crunchy and help ‘clean’ the teeth?

Dr Teo says…Yes, fresh fruit and vegetables are always preferable to sweets, chocolates and biscuits as a healthy snack. Not only do they provide more nutrition, but crunchy food stimulates saliva which has a protective effect on teeth. Beware that certain fruit such as bananas and oranges have high sugar content, and also have the potential to cause tooth decay if eaten frequently.

Mrs Freeloader asks: Is it true cheese is good to eat for protecting teeth as it inhibits growth of plaque?

Dr Teo says…Yes. Cheese bacteria inhibits the growth of decay-causing bacteria. It is one of the best tooth-friendly snacks in growing kids.

Mrs Freeloader asks: Are there any ‘super-foods’ for healthy teeth and gums?

Dr Teo says…A balanced, healthy diet low in refined sugars is the best for healthy teeth, gums, and everything else in a child!

Mrs Freeloader asks:  Apart from the obvious (sugar and fruit juices), are there any foods kids should avoid eating that harm their teeth?

Dr Teo says…Fizzy drinks are very devastating due to their acid content. Lots of parents think biscuits are better than sweets or chocolates, but their sugar content is equally high and they can be grainy, meaning more gets stuck onto the tooth surfaces. This encourages tooth decay formation. Infant-formula milk, especially through a bottle, is a primary cause of Early Childhood Caries or tooth decay in young children, due to the added sugars in the formulations.

Mrs Freeloader asks: What are other pointers to note or symptoms to look out for in kids?

Dr Teo says…If a child is a slow or fussy eater, be sure to clean all food away from his or her teeth after meals, as sometimes children who have a habit of keeping food in their mouths or taking very long at meal times develop decay, due to the carbohydrates in their meals breaking down into sugars after prolonged exposure on their teeth. Look out for them complaining of pain in their teeth, and difficulty eating certain foods requiring lots of chewing such as meat and fibrous vegetables.

Thank you Dr Teo for your very helpful tips. Readers, if you have anymore questions or want to book to see Dr Teo you can reach him here…

Singapore Medical Group (SMG)
A. 290 Orchard Road #14-03 Paragon Singapore 238859  T.+65 6887 4232  www.smg.sg
SMG 24-Hour Patient Assistance Centre. +65 6735 3000

Infoband that kid! How to make sure your kids don’t get lost even if they wander off…

image

Every parent’s nightmare…. your child goes missing in a busy shopping mall. Thank goodness it is usually just a case of curious and confident toddler wandering off to get a better look at something.

Save yourself unnecessary heart ache and get your kids an Infoband.

Priced just under $10, the question is why the hell wouldn’t you???

Simple to use
You write your mobile number on the band and your child wears it out and about. Infoband comes in a variety of girl and boy designs, they are comfortable for kids, waterproof, and  can’t be removed one handed by kids (or by me!). Any well meaning adult that finds your child looking lost, can simply call the mobile number and everyone breathes a BIG sigh of relief.

I bought my Infobands from the kids gift store on 2nd level, The Grandstand, Turf City. They have some great other stuff in there too… 😉

The Next, Best Thing for Baby….Four Cow Farm Baby Skincare Range

Four Cow Farm logo Singapore
The view from Four Cow Farm, Blackall Mountain Range South East Queensland, Australia.

The view from Four Cow Farm, Blackall Mountain Range South East Queensland, Australia.

four cow farm logo

A few years back, life-long friends of my parents moved to Australia from Singapore and started a homestead; Four Cow Farm (four cows, no bull!).

Winnie, a former midwife, started making washes and lotions for her grandchildren who suffered from sensitive skin and eczema. Well, what started as a grandmother’s labour of love has turned into a baby skincare range and it is going from strength to strength. Four Cow Farm is with over 40+ retailers in Singapore, as well as in Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Taiwan and United States. They also have a Singapore online store, so you can order all their goodies from home too.

Four Cow Farm Dry Skin Trio

Dry Skin Trio (Large), sale price $93.90

AND you can be sure every ingredient in Four Cow Farm products has been super, super vetted and is gentle on babies skin. C’mon, we’re talking about Winnie’s own grand kids here!

The range is superb for all babies, and even adults with dry or sensitive skin. My dad who is clearly a big baby is an advocate for the Baby Wash. I buy it for him from ‘Love For Earth’ at Holland Village and pass it to him when he is passing through Singapore.

Baby Kit by Four Cow Farm

Gift packs for babies too, UP $57.50

At present all of the products are hand-made by ‘Nanna’, at the farm using 100% green energy. The herbs are picked from the garden and other materials sourced locally from suppliers they know and trust.

Shamefully I only recently tried the products – despite dad intermittently piping up about the Baby Wash for a good few years (!). I just hadn’t got round to it. BUT, having finally done so I have to say they are fab! They are gentle, the kids like them, they smell good but not too strong… and it’s great using something made by someone I know. I even have a child who suffers from eczema so they are really perfect for my kids. Day three using the products and Adam’s eczema is already looking calmer and less irritated than it does when I use Johnson & Johnson’s.

The Four Cow Farm No List

The entire range is made from premium food-grade ingredients, including the preservatives and emulsifiers! Four Cow Farm products never contain any:
• Parabens
• Propylene glycol
• Sulphates (SLS/SLES/ALS)
• Cocamidopropyl betaine
• Artificial fragrances/colours
• Synthetic detergents
• Petrochemicals
• Mineral oils
• Lanolin
• Chlorinated water
• Phthalates

 

You can also pick up some tips on how to care for baby’s sensitive skin or eczema from Four Cow’s website. Here is one such guide: the Four Cow Farm Guide to Treating Toddler Eczema . What super nice helpful people they are at Four Cow Farm. Thanks guys!

Calendula Balm Four Cow Farm

100g Calendula Balm, UP$31.30. A deeply rich and emollient handcrafted balm for soothing dry, sensitive, inflamed or irritated skin.