Game Changers

Mobile games aren't just for kids. Moms can get in on the action, too! Just beware of 'life-ruiningly fun' (direct quote from 'The Simpsons' mobile game) finger action. Judge me all you want, I know more about Zelda than the Fresh Beat Band and ain't ashamed to say so.

Here are some iPhone games that I've really gotten into, just know this... don't blame me for getting you hooked! Oh and, they're all free because that's how I roll...

1. Candy Crush Saga (number one but everyone is pretty much 'been there, done that')

2. The Sims Freeplay (you can make them do what you want, they follow your exact orders!! Dream world!): I've followed the Sim series since Sim City/Sim Tower and have played the early versions of the Sims, it blows my mind that this game is on my phone and plays/looks/feels better than all of those versions.

3. Another Clue Solved: totally addictive and a waste of time but what fun!

4. Covet: Fashionista Moms? YOU have GOT to download this game, NOW. You put together, compete for and vote on the best looks with real people. It even comes with a feature that compares you to other players in your local area! Plus, you get to 'buy' clothes for your look book and can win virtual OR actual physical clothing and accessories. Are you sold or what? 

5. Crime Scene Mystery: if you like look and find games, this one can satisfy. There are different murder cases that you follow as the game progresses to remind you that this isn't child's play.

6. Can You Escape: Classic room escape game. There are several versions available for this game, all totally free. What are you waiting for? Go waste time like you have tons of it!

7. Doors & Rooms (aka D&R): More fun then Can You Escape and looks better, too. Also, has many different stories to choose from and some are actually quite gruesome. Super fun to see the story unfold as you escape each room. 

8. Cause of Death: Remember those 'Make Your Own Adventure' books? I cheated all the time in those. Well, this digital version with neat graphics and mood altering background music won't let you cheat which means, you die. So? Play again! 

And the last two (at least for now), I am somewhat embarrassed to mention but I will share them anyway.

9. Surviving High School: from the same creators of Cause of Death, same gameplay but completely different story line. This game allows you to play as different characters in high school and you follow the story line while making decisions. All I can say is, it's fun and completely not embarrassing.

10. High School Story: A spinoff from SHS, this game plays similar to The Sims and doesn't really retain any similarity to the original but follows a similar story line. Not sure what these kinds of games are called but play it and see!

Happy tapping!

Sandwich Time

Sandwiches are such cop out meals for dinner. But I am so relieved when there's a call for PB and J, minimal dishes, minimal mess. Awesome... 

Today's sandwich? Nutella, Sunflower Butter and Strawberries on 12 Grain Bread. And instead of making a proper sandwich for myself, I just ate the leftover bread ends. Even then, Nutella is so good...

I posted sandwiches ideas a long while ago. Feel free to comment on your own favorite combinations! I'll revisit new ideas soon, today is cop out day. Laziness is in now that our temps have hit the 50s! It's downright tropical for Forest Hills... Peace out!


New Stuff

I don't often deviate much from regular grocery shopping. There's just no time to try new things. Even when a product looks interesting enough, I know that it'll just sit there until expiration date and I deem it 'trash.' What a waste. 

So, new year new ways... Here are some products that I had in the pantry and couldn't pass up. Finally tried them all!

What: Chewy Sesame Bread Mix
Where: Super H Mart in Fort Lee, NJ
Ease: Super Easy, very clear directions
Look: shape matched the box's picture but mine weren't as nicely browned, more pasty and not as appetizing
Taste: not bad, chewy inside due to tapioca flour, smells nicely of sesame
Thoughts: worth trying again, possibly adjust baking temp and amount of water sprayed prior to baking

Met Food is my 'emergency' supermarket. They're open 365 days, from 8am to 8pm, no matter the weather! The only other place that I can count on would be 7-11. Met Food employees are dedicated! However, their prices reflect their confidence on being the only supermarket in a 3 block range and also being open at practically all times. I've found a bunch of interesting things here and although it's a Met Food, they carry some surprisingly niche/boutique market items. Gotta love that...

What: Chia Pods 
Where: Met Food in Forest Hills
Ease: Just open and eat
Look: Cute! Literally a pod! Plus a spoon!
Taste: 'No, thank you' then Interesting then better then 'Hey, not bad'
Thoughts: Way pricey at $4 but would consider trying again at half the price

So I cheated on several of these products as they do not require cooking or even prepping... Ah well. These ice popsicles were a great, tasty way to get 1. fruits and vegetables 2. liquids and 3. happy into T while he was sick. Not arguing that bit. 

What: Edy's Fruit & Veggies Ice Pops
Where: Met Food
Look: Awesome, smells really good, too!
Taste: Sweet, great flavor combos, Strawberry Rhubarb, Blueberry Medley (it's got beets, pear, apple, etc.), Tangerine Carrot
Thoughts: I love it but wonder 'why shouldn't I just make it myself?' 


Summer Pops

It's already the middle of summer. As expected, summer with T is a whirlwind of activity. Not that we stop when the leaves fall down but in comparison, summer is chock full of birthday parties, outings and events. We're happy to have such a fun summer and welcome the slow afternoons when we can hang out at home (or rather, T hangs out at home while I spin circles around him doing chores that I never get to do because it's so rare for us to stay in) to enjoy popsicle time. I had bought 3 sets of popsicle molds earlier in the year with very ambitious flavor profiles in my head. All I have had time to do, however, is fill them with Stonyfield's yogurt. T does not mind and loves his 'ice pops.' I love that he enjoys them and am not afraid to give him more than one. Also, it's proven effective to say 'we have ice cream at home' when the ice cream truck does his playground drive-bys.

Since there are so many kinds of seasonal fruit, use what you find in the supermarket/farmer's market, allow to ripen or add a bit of honey to sweeten and then blend/mash, add an extra punch with a touch of vanilla or herbs. Here are some ideas that I never got to do, yet.
  1. Orange Juice with Strawberry Slices - I didn't work out the technicalities on this one. But I guess freeze OJ halfway and then poke in the strawberry slices before OJ completely hardens.
  2. Mint with Watermelon - Mash sprig of mint with ripe watermelon or blend it for more even results.
  3. Honey Kiwi Ice - I did this often as a kid. Mix hot water with honey, to your level of sweetness, until honey is dissolved. Pour into mold and add kiwi slices (or fresh berries).
  4. Vanilla Almond with Blueberries - Pour in sweetened vanilla almond milk and blueberries.
  5. Pineapple with Coconut Milk - use thick coconut milk (i.e., Goya's) or coconut creme, stir in regular milk for lighter consistency, mix/blend with mashed fresh pineapple, a bit of honey.
These are the molds that I have and seem to work well. I also mix up different flavors or colors of yogurt for more interesting taste and visual combinations. So easy!

Monster Ice Pop Molds - also available at Marshall's 
Rocket Ice Pop Molds - also available at Marshall's
Standard Ice Pop Molds - also available at Walmart

Good-bye, ice cream truck!


It's all in the prep or if you wanna go French, mise en place

T has been giving me these great 2.5 hour or 3 hour long naps. It gets me too comfortable. When he goes down, I clean up, have lunch and then have too much freedom on my hands. After I shrug off the initial feeling of strangeness, I start projects at about the 1 hour mark, it could be cleaning the closet, washing the floor, reading a book, watching TV (most likely result) or doing actual money earning work (forgive my language), anyway, I get engrossed in whatever it is that I am doing and I forget to prepare for 'the awakening.' In the middle of translating 'low muscle tone with high degree of pronation' I hear a small volumed 'Mommy!' and I think, CRAP! I'm not ready! There's no food for my usually starving toddler. I don't want to give him a snack when this is the time where he'll sit and eat a meal. Yogurt just feels like I'm not trying. Fruit will only hold him so long. But there are times when a Past Wendy thinks of Future Wendy and does things to help her along in moments just like I had mentioned. As a veteran of sorts from restaurant work, Past Wendy knows it's all in the prep. If you've done what you're supposed to, service will never feel too hectic or out of control. Moms, if you find yourselves in similar situations, here are some prepping ideas for your fridge:

Chicken- portion meat into sandwich sized plastic bags (I separate each of these in one bag, 1 leg/2 wings/1breast)

Use for:
1. Chicken Fingers- heat pan with a little oil, dip chicken into egg then your choice of bread crumbs (when I make this for adults, I dip into egg then flour then egg then bread crumbs but no reason for extra work here), pan fry
2. Chicken Soup- cut meat into small pieces, stir fry a little in quart pan, toss in some vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc.), pour in Chicken or Vegetable stock, can add pasta/rice or toast some bread
3. Chicken Sandwich- pound breast meat thin, cut into desired portion, grill in fry pan. Serve in mini-pita pockets with cucumbers and cream cheese.

Quick accompaniments to keep on hand:
Vegetables- Carrot sticks, Cucumber rounds
Dips- Pesto with cream cheese, Marinara Sauce
Stock or Soups- Chicken soup, Vegetable stock
Pasta/Rice- cook extra pasta/rice when you are making it for a meal and keep in storage container for super quick future meals

This may seem like a lot of work. But I just did the chicken fingers today. It was 10 minutes from 'how I met your mother' marathon to 'Mommy!' to BAM ... food on table. I also stock frozen waffles and that's what kept T busy while I spent the rest of my 8 minutes finishing the chicken fingers.

Bon appetit!



I was never a lover of sandwiches. I love heroes, cheesesteaks, muffalettas and two slices of bread with so much stuff inside that it can't be handled with one bite. Sandwich sounds so weak. A slice of ham here and a nibble of cheese there, with cucumbers? Blech.

Now, with a toddler and constant traveling, mainly by car and within borders anyway, I realize the necessity of sandwiches. They are comparatively neat and efficient. I can cover all the food groups in 5 bites. Clean up is a relative breeze, dust some hands and send them on their way. Here's the current list of favorites:

All made with frozen commercial multigrain bread, Arnold's Oatnut or 12-Grain:

1. Cut into fours prior to packing into a glass container, the hard container makes sure that the sandwich isn't crushed.
2. Make sure to give sandwiches an extra press at the end so the whole thing stays together
3. Frozen bread will defrost by the time your child eats the sandwich thus ensuring extra freshness and chill while in lunchbox
4. Always include a spread, it's such a great way to include nutrients and taste but more importantly, it 'glues' the sandwich together. Cream Cheese means Whipped Cream Cheese, which is lighter-tasting, easier to spread and sticks better.
5. I leave the crusts on. I don't have the time nor the money to waste on cutting those crusts off!
6. On pancake days, freeze extra pancakes and substitute for bread in 'Sweet' sandwiches on special lunch days
7. Make what you would eat, toddler food should also be 'adult-friendly', especially if you only have time to feed the kids, at least you get to eat their leftovers and be happy about it!

1. Cream Cheese and Ham- Line with spinach leaves, sliced cheese, sliced roasted peppers.
2. Hummus and Cucumbers- I had to squeeze the cukes in there somewhere! Add sliced tomatoes or some grilled chicken/poultry. If your child isn't like mine, some sprouts or watercress would be awesome in this. Hint: try Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus.
3. Roasted Red Pepper Spread and Mozzarella- Just slice string cheese in half, dust with some fresh basil. Add some 'slices' of grilled corn or baby corn, if you have the time...

1. Cream Cheese and Strawberries- Strawberry cream cheese is such a popular item, why not just add fresh sliced strawberries to cream cheese? T loves this one and this was how he started his sandwich phase.
2. PB&J- Good old classic but use fresh ground PB and some imported Jelly (my favorite is Bonne Maman)! Toddler tastebuds are super influential, use the good stuff if you can! Plus, the flavors are better, you can use less (just a smatter of jam, you shouldn't even see it) and overall healthier. I sometimes replace the jelly with apple slices, whichever I have on hand. I'd imagine Granny Smith would taste pretty good.
3. PB&N&B- N is for Nutella and B is for Banana. On days that I make this one, I also wish that T doesn't finish it. Even the crusts taste awesome! You can also switch the banana for apples and it tastes just as good with an added crunch.

Open rice!



I love the idea of tea. It's so comforting to have a hot cup of tea when it's been raining for a full week and the temperature is miserably low. Nothing beats an afternoon in a cafe with a book and your cup of tea.

Being Chinese, I have always felt comfortable with tea. As a child, I was very familiar with tea served during dim sum, usually Pu Erh. It's a bit intense, especially when the leaves continue to steep in the pot, but it clears off your taste buds. For a long time, that was all I knew about tea. I didn't know about milk and sugar, bubbles in my tea, fruit teas, herbal teas or anything.

It's almost akin to my learning of the world. As I expanded my social circle beyond family and Chinese friends, I found that milk and sugar in Earl Grey was pretty satisfying. I almost didn't need to eat after a cup of Earl Grey. The milk solved hunger and the sugar fulfilled a mental need for sweets. Bubble Tea became hugely popular while I was in college and traveling in Taiwan. It was a novelty and most definitely a meal in itself. Fruit teas I discovered while spending a week with friends in Turkey. Dried apple bits with honey in hot water, I wasn't sure if I ever fell in love with it but it was worth trying. As a mom, looking for alternative juice options, I found that herbal teas are good for toddlers. Apparently, tea can be matched to milestones in my life. How interesting. And yet, I'm pretty sure it's cliche.

But honestly, I wouldn't mind going out to the world and drinking tea.