Monday, December 15, 2014

Elin's Third Birthday

How time flies! My baby is now three years old. I thank Thee for another year of blessings and giving me the previlige to raise, take care, and love her as my daughter.

This year is the first year Elin understands birthdays and looks forward to her birthday, one of the last among her friends. When the day finally comes and we wished her happy birthday, I could see the pure happiness on her face as she danced away in her dress, the look of anticipation as she was about to blow the candle, and her joy in being surrounded by family and friends. I prepared goodie bags for her little friends and she kept telling me that she wanted to give them to them herself, but she doesn't even seem to notice or be consumed by the gifts she received. Oh, the innocence of a little child. Their love of simplicity and a heart of giving (than receiving) humbles my heart.

On her actual birthday, we had dinner with my family.

My sister and I made her fondant cake again this time using the same foams that I used to make her first and second birthday cakes. 

The next day, I hosted a bridal shower at home and after it was done, I changed the "bridal shower" banner to "happy birthday," replace a few things on the table, and we celebrated her birthday again with her lovely aunties. It was a quick one that involves around 20 rounds of singing "happy birthday Elin" to which she kept on asking for more.

As if two celebrations are not enough, we had another birthday session the following day at her sunday school class with all her little friends. Many candles this time, so all the kids can blow them.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." - Matthew 5:8

Happy birthday my dear Elin. May you grow up to be wise, gentle in spirit, and abundant in love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review of Bud of Joy's Christmas Offerings (Fruit Cake, Chocolate Log Cake, and Gingerbread Cookies)

I am a big fan of sweet things, especially cakes. Unfortunately I have cut down a lot of refined sugar in my diet knowing how bad sugar is for our body. So I limit the amount of sugary food in my family, except for special occasions. And this Christmas, I am excited to share with you Bud of Joy's Christmas offerings that I got a chance to try. I am always happy to eat their breads and cakes because I know that they only use the best ingredients in their products such as non-GMO, free range eggs and butter from grass-fed cows. Not to mention, they are all organic and without the use of any chemicals and preservatives. Fret not, their cakes are as delicious, if not more delicious, than the regular cakes you find in a conventional bakery and you won't mind having your children gobble another slice down their precious little bodies because there isn't any chemical or artificial ingredients that you have to worry about.

Take their Organic Christmas Chocolate Log Cake for example:

This chocolate cake is light and fluffy, rich in chocolate flavor (but not dense!), and colored with natural ingredients, such as organic beetroot juice for the pink flowers and barley grass juice for the green color. There is not even a pinch of baking powder or emulsifiers. I'm enjoying every bite of this cake for this special occasion.

Organic Fruit Cake

If there is a season for a fruit cake that is spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice, it would be thanksgiving week all the way through Christmas. I'm glad Bud of Joy makes this again this Christmas. The last time I had this (the gluten-free version) was last Christmas.

This fruit cake uses organic wholemeal flour. It has NO added sugar. Its sweetness comes from the organic dried fruits that are packed generously in the cake. If you are allergic to gluten, you can order the gluten-free version, and it is as good as the regular one, in my opinion. This cake is just perfect to eat with a cup of tea.

Last but not least, is their Gingerbread Cookies:

Which kid doesn't like cookies? This particular one is made with organic wholemeal flour, natural sugars, and organic spices. I can really taste the ginger, which is an added bonus compared to regular gingerbread cookies where you can only taste the cinnamon. Each cookie is hand-decorated using natural colors derived from organic vegetables. My daughter loves them and savors them like a treasure.

Sure, the cost of these goodies are expensive at first sight, but once you know the amount and quality of ingredients in these baked goods, and the amount of extra work the chef has to do (think about the convenience of using food coloring versus having to puree the vegetables, strain them, and then use the juice to decorate the cakes and cookies as an example), then you will understand why. More than anything, I love to support Bud of Joy because the ownersHer-Yi and Sarah are passionate about what they do and they do their jobs really well, i.e. delicious yet healthy baked goods - something that is not easily available here in Singapore.

These three Christmas offerings will make awesome gifts for yourself or other people! Just for Pasture Living readers, Bud of Joy is giving away $5 voucher for orders $50 or above on these Christmas treats. 

Orders can be through: 
- Phone, at 6748 7687. Quote 'Pasture Living' when ordering.
- OnlinePlease type 'Pasture Living' under 'Add Note'. 
- Email at (Please indicate Name, Contact Number, Quote 'Pasture Living', and the type(s) and quantity of Christmas goodies.)

I hope you get to try them before the season runs out and makes use of the voucher before it's too late. :)

Disclaimer: I received the above products for review. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Olive Leaf Extract: A Plant That Fights Viruses

Olive Tree

We know how important gut health is. When our gut is good, so is our health. Eating grass fed yogurt, sourdough bread, and fermented food are some ways to increase our probiotic intake. For a person like me who did not grow up eating fermented food or even yogurt, it is harder to keep up with probiotic consumption. The latest one I tried was water kefir and milk kefir. They are naturally rich in probiotics, easy to make, and very cost friendly. But another problem with water kefir is that it contains a small amount of alcohol, which I'm also not used to consuming (and now that I'm pregnant, I have stopped making and drinking it) and milk kefir is more sour than plain yogurt, which makes it even harder for me to swallow than a regular grass fed yogurt that I'm already not used to. So what am I trying to say?

I am not good in consuming probiotic rich food and I have just been reminded that gut health is crucial for a healthy body. So I need to consume more probiotics in my diet. If I do not enjoy eating yogurt or don't eat as much fermented food as I should, I have to find something else that works. I figure it's better to pay for something that I will actually eat and want to eat, because our health is important and prevention is always better than cure. Allergies, morning sickness, colds and flu, constipation, and even bad breath are symptoms that you are lacking good bacteria in your body. 

Then I found olive leaf extract.

Olive Leaves

Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract has been used since the ancient Egyptian times for rituals, nutritional, and medicinal purposes. In Mediterranean cultures, olive leaf was used to treat various health conditions, uncluding infections and fever. (Oh, the moment I learned this natural remedy was used to treat fever, I got myself a bottle because any parents would know how hard it is to treat fever naturally. Early researchers have found and confirmed that a substance found in olive leaf called elenolic acid was so powerful in stopping and slowing the growth of viruses. Olive leaf extract:

- Has antibacterial and antiviral properties that fights viruses and infections
- Reduces high blood pressure (fights hypertension/high blood pressure)
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels (possible ramifications for diabetes sufferers)
- A powerful antioxidant that protects us from free radicals 

The brand that I have tried is by Rochway. Their olive leaf extract is naturally fermented, 100% organic and contains 1% sugar from natural fruits. Fermentation allows beneficial enzymes to be produced and it helps our body to absorb nutrients more efficiently from our food. And the fermentation process creates lactic acids which act as a natural preservative. So this is a good probiotic alternative for me personally. It tastes mildly sweet, my two year old doesn't have trouble drinking it. Serving size for daily maintenance is small and it is very easy to take. If you feel that you lack probiotics in your diet, maybe it is worth a try. iHerb sells different brands of olive leaf extracts but I haven't researched the brands they carry. I bought mine from Bud of Joy (This particular formulation includes papaya enzymes and pomegranates - read about the benefits of fermented papaya and pomegranates here). 

A note on olive leaf extract: 
Although the benefits of this plant seems promising, its medical evidence on humans are still inconclusive and researchers are now taking another serious look at olive leaf extract. Until then, we need to remember that just like with any other health supplements, olive leaf extract should be a part of a holistic health plan that includes a healthy diet and exercise.

Disclaimer: I'm not an affiliate of Rochway and did not receive anything to promote their products. I'm also not a health professional and may not be held responsible for any medical issues. Please consult your doctors if you are unsure about taking this supplement.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have You Heard of Baobab Oil?

I was recently introduced to baobab oil by EcoProducts in the search to heal acne scars and relieve eczema flare ups and I am glad I gave it a try. I was surprised how moisturizing this oil is, almost like a concentrated oil if there is such a thing, even thicker than coconut oil. Then I started to research about this oil and here is a little background about this exquisite oil:

Baobab oil is made from baobab seeds that are found in large capsule-like fruit which grow on baobab trees. Baobab trees grow throughout the savannas of Africa. When the fruits mature, they naturally drop off of the trees. The seeds are removed by cracking open the fruits, washed, and then sun dried. These seeds then go through an expeller and oil is cold pressed out of the seeds.

Baobab oil is rich in:

- Vitamins A, D, E, F: Promotes healthy skin and skin revitalization.
- Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids: Rich moisturizers that nourish damaged skin, protect the skin, and encorage cell renewal and regeneration.
- Antioxidants: Protection against free radicals.

I have been using baobab oil to heal acne scars these few weeks and I can tell that the scars are lighter as baobab oil is easily absorbed in the skin and doesn't clog pores. This is an excellent oil to calm inflammation and provides relief from itch, rashes, eczema, and sunburn. You can also use it to nourish dry and flaky scalp. 

Different oils have different vitamin content and moisturizing/healing effect. Between jojoba oilcoconut oil, and baobab oil - the three oils that I have read about more extensively and used longer, I find that baobab oil is the most moisturizing of all three. It doesn't have any odor like coconut and a few drops are all that we need to moisturize a large area of our skin and hair. On the other hand, jojoba oil is a more neutral oil that is suitable for oily skin as it prevents the skin from overcompensating with more oil production and coconut oil has an added antimicrobial properties that helps to heal wounds. Give it a try. I personally think baobab oil is more superior compared jojoba oil or coconut oil for its moisturizing and relieving of itch and rashes, but different oils may work differently on everybody. Use it as you would a regular moisturizer. 

You can purchase EcoProducts Baobab Oils from Pura Vida. I love how Kristi, the owner of Pura Vida Singapore, works with small business owners that are passionate about natural living, environmental sustainability, and those that create work employment for the people who live in underdeveloped parts of the world. One of them would be Sarah Venter, a scientist and the founder of EcoProducts. From early on, she makes sure that the harvest of baobab fruits is sustainable. In doing this, she also creates employment for many women in the underdeveloped parts of southern Africa and Venda. Read more about her and EcoProducts here. I love that her baobab oil is natural, eco-friendly, nutrient-rich, and creates economic benefits.

Check out Kristi's other products/brands on her site:

- I specifically love Alteya's Organic Rosewater SprayIt is 100% pure, steam distilled rose water that is made from organic roses from Bulgaria. This is an all-in-one cleanser, toner, and moisturizer that balances our skin's pH, rejuvenates, and beautifies the skin. Like EcoProducts, Alteya has been able to provide employment to some of the poorest villages in Bulgaria and we help to support these families when we purchase their products. 

- I also enjoyed Oh-Lief's trial pack containing salves for pregnant moms and babies. Oh-Lief makes an all-natural salves for stretching tummies, nappy rashes, insect bites, and more. These little tubes are so convenient to bring in our handbags!

Thanks to Pura Vida, three winners will be randomly selected to receive a bottle of 30 ml baobab oil each. To enter the giveaway, simply:

1. "Like" Pasture Living Facebook Page 

2. "Like" Pura Vida Singapore Facebook Page 

3. Comment on this post on why you'd like to try baobab oil and leave your email address. If you are uncomfortable leaving your email publicly, send me a message through Pasture Living Facebook page. 

4. Share this giveaway on your Facebook page. 

This giveaway will end on 25 November 2014 Singapore time and the winners will be announced through email. Open to Singapore residents only.

You can also use code "pasture15" for a 15% discount for any purchases you make on Pure Vida's website (a minimum of $30 purchase). 

Disclaimer: Pura Vida sponsored the above products for reviews, no compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

DIY Dried Lavender Potpourri Pouches

I have been sewing a lot lately from quilts to kitchen appliances covers and my last project was making potpourri pouches for party favors. I made small pouches, filled it with dried lavender, sewed them together, put some ribbons, and there I have very cute, pretty, naturally scented homemade potpourri pouches. My daughter loves to take a pouch, which she calls her little pillow, to go to sleep. It makes a lovely natural air freshener too. This will be for the birthday party favors of a friend's two year old daughter. I hope the little ones will love getting them as much as my daughter does! This will work as homemade gifts for the upcoming Christmas or any wedding or bridal/baby shower parties as well. :)

Lavender has a healing and calming effect which helps us to relax and go to sleep. The use of lavender essential oil is endless. It has powerful healing powers from treating rashes, soothing eczema, relieve muscle aches, and more. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

My Sewing Journey: It's Never Too Late to Learn A New Skill... and Never Give Up!

I started learning to sew three months before my daughter was born. I braved myself and bought a second hand sewing machine, not knowing anything about it and how to use it. 

I started to watch online tutorials and familiarized myself with sewing terms and machine parts and I was so happy when I made my ever first sewing project - a small tissue holder. I even added lace, I thought it was so fancy. I was so proud of this first accomplishment.

 Then I bought zippers and I wanted to learn how to sew in zippers, sos I made a small pouch. Though far from perfect, it was another milestone for me.

Then I wanted more. I wanted to know more, learn more, and make more, but there was so much information online I started to get lost, so I made an investment to take four basic sewing lessons with someone I found off craigslist. It was not cheap but in retrospect, it was well worth it. I became more comfortable with my basic stitches, I was able to ask all my questions from learning myself, and most importantly, the teacher gave me a boost of confidence that I could do more and better with regular practice. I told my teacher I really wanted to try make this handbag, but I was too intimidated to try it. She simply said: "You can do this." And just like that, I felt that much more confident of my ability, despite my limited knowledge, that I could do it. Then I know, this is why I paid so much money to learn - not so much for the how-to's, but for these precious intangibles. Fresh out of the class, I made the handbag, with many challenges that involved a broken needle and lots of painful unpickings, but I was able to follow the steps from the beginning until the end, and learned a lot of new sewing skills in between.

Since then I experimented with ruffles, inserting buttons, smocking, making dresses for my baby girl, quilts, household products, and more. 

A stand-mixer cover

Sewing Machine Cover

Christmas Tree Skirt

My daughter's first birthday dress

A Clutch

Quilt for Baby #2

Quilt for Baby Niece

(You can find all the tutorials through my arts and crafts album on my facebook page)

It is very true that you get better with practice. With more practice, the more stable, comfortable, and confident you get with the machine and sewing techniques. I don't like the process of measuring, cutting, and pressing fabrics, but they are all crucial to the final product. There is no short cut. And it is so with anything in life. So I am learning to enjoy the process. And I learn that the process of learning is more important than the final product itself, because it teaches us perseverance and discipline. 

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" - Romans 5:3-4

Hope this inspires and encourages us to never give up. It is also never too late (or too early) to learn a new skill! I asked my husband sometimes if sewing is a waste of time, and he said "I wish someone taught me some very practical skills when I was young, which I can pass on to my children. Now you can." :)