So I was on leave last week to settle some domestic issues. Not that I was the one having domestic problems... it's my domestic helper's.
My ex-maid had to go home after 4 years working with me and couldn't give me an answer as to whether she can return or otherwise (depending on her husband's decision later). So while she's gone, I have to get a replacement. We (thought) we found a (suitable) candidate; after having to go through an appeal made to the Ministry of Manpower. But anyhow.... we are now in the process of getting a refund from the employment agency (I guess I don't have to elaborate further).
Since I was on leave last week, thought I'd de-stress in the kitchen by making some Chocolate Cupcakes & Candy Brownie Platter. Request came from a good friend of mine, whose sister's engagement ceremony was on 20th Dec '09.
She had asked for a Brazil-themed (colour) cuppies for the gift exchange and Candy Brownie Platter for her family members to enjoy.
It had been a tough week for me. I wish I can have a break. Talking about break, I'm so looking forward to a session of body massage next week. Have been putting it off for so many months. Yeay!
I don't know why I have an urge to eat Custard Puffs. This was, by the way, a coincidence as dear hubby was actually looking for Chocolate Eclairs last Saturday.
Didn't find any at my work place, surprisingly although one of the restaurants there was still open. The only dessert left - Brownie. We ended up eating sugar rolls on Sunday.
I haven't tried making the choux pastry in a loooonnng time. This was probably because I learned doing it the hard way - using my arm to keep stirring the pastry until it's done. Then, I promised myself that I would not do this again. And other pastries.
So after years of seclusion from the pastry-making world, I have decided to give it one more shot. Thankfully enough, the pastry did just well. Then comes the custard part. I don't like it to be too 'solid' nor runny. Therefore getting the right consistency was another challenge.
As I was filling the pastries up with the custard, I noticed that they were fast gone from the table. Two pairs of little hands keep popping by... hmmm... The littlest didn't seem to enjoy these though.
Just as I wanted to round up the kitchen, I remembered someone requested to have the Custard Puff dipped in chocolate. I guessed this was another way of dealing with missed opportunity of eating Chocolate Eclairs last weekend.
Last week the kids & I decided to stay home & do some baking instead of going to Changi Airport T3, as suggested by dear daughter.
Been wanting to bake some Butter Cookies, as I have yet to use my new Hello Kitty & Mickey Mouse cookie cutters, which I bought in Hong Kong in June. So like finally!
I have my 2 hardworking assistants to help me press the dough, which at the same time kept them occupied. I had planned to ice the cookies but later decided not to as the cookies would become too sweet. Plus I just wanted to enjoy simple homemade Butter Cookies.
My assistants (heee!)
Pleased with the result, as the characters turned out so well. Happier when I dipped them in coffee & enjoy the rest of the afternoon at home.
How the week flew by... I'd even missed taking pics of the wonderful food we had for Eiduladha, cooked by MIL. I was rushing to work and had totally forgotten about that.
Much as I wish for December to pass by quickly (to get over the hectic work schedule), I don't want the school holidays to be over just yet. Because that would mean the kids will be back at school. So I'll just have to use whatever time I have to fill the kids' time with fun things to do. Speaking of which, I haven't made any plans yet. I also wish that OFF days can be spent just staying home & catch up on rest, but that would be too selfish. OFF days are the only time I have to spend with the little ones. Dilemma.... dilemma....
The kids spent some time during the weekend at the Health Promotion Board, which dear hubby signed them up for some sort of a healthy cooking class. They'd learnt about healthy food & nutrition and preparing sandwiches. I was glad that both daughter & son enjoyed themselves very much, that dear daughter has voiced out that she wanted to do it again. Heh...
I had recently bought another book by Sophie Kinsella - "Confessions of a Shopaholic". It's not exactly a new book. The thing is, what I'd done was I began reading the shopaholic series in a Star Wars kind of sequence. Don't ask me why cos I didn't even know myself. I'd read all the other series namely Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic & Sister, Shopaholic Ties The Knot, Shopaholic & Baby.... But somehow I didn't get the first of the series, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (now published as Confessions of a Shopaholic, produced as motion picture)? Hhmmmmm.....
Anyways I enjoyed the Shopaholic series cos there's a similarity between me & Becky Bloomwood - shopping. Of course I don't shop like her. It's what the word "Sale", "Reduced", "Buy & get free..." can do to tempt people (read: me) into going to the store and then step out having a sense of statisfaction & relief at the mere purchase of even a small, inexpensive item. Retail therapy? Heehee...
I also love the way how the books are written by Sophie Kinsella (besides the Shopaholic series). They are all so wittingly funny (that's how I describe her books). They are fiction, but hey... who needs facts all the time eh? I'm sure everyone of us has their own secret dreamworld.
Talking about dreamworld, I'm off to my own dreamworld now...
I feel relaxed when I'm not working. But of course! If you're not relaxed even when you're not working, there's something wrong. But seriously, OFF day days are quieter; I'm calmer.
I decided to take the day off since I feel so tired after yesterday's event. The graduation wasn't the only place we went to.
We went over to my mum's (cos I'm starting to miss her home-cooked food); let the kids catch up with their grandparents (but my dad wasn't in. He came back just as we were leaving). After about 2 hours, we came back home with a few bags of food ranging from frozen to cooked to packed to junk food. (So I know we won't starve for the next few days). Managed to get my hands on the Kuih Makmur from Raya.
I love this Kuih Makmur, made by one of my mum's friend's mother (by generation, I can call her grandma). To me, she makes the perfect Kuih Makmur, the best I've tasted in so many years. So far, no one else has made Kuih Makmur the best she does. It has crunchy crushed peanut filling (mixed with right amount of sugar) and the not-too-thick, melt-in-your-mouth dough is sprinkled with enough snow sugar. What more can one ask for?
Since there is still a quarter bottle left, I brought it home for my own indulgence (I sound like a glutton). Yum!
After my mum's we went to the maid agency to finalise the transaction. Our letter of appeal managed to go through & approved. (There was an unforeseen situation when we made the application). I am now waiting for confirmation on the date of my new domestic helper's arrival. Please pray for me that this one will turn out fine, at least for these 2 years. I'll be taking one week off work to teach the new one and hopefully the kids will have no problem adapting.
By the time we were able to wind down it was already six in the evening. I find that the hours during your OFF days are generally shorter as compared to other normal working days, really. And I fret the day I've to return to work.
School holidays has begun and today, we attended dear daughter's graduation ceremony at The Grassroot's Club in Ang Mo Kio.
The event started at 10am but because the graduants will be performing, dear daughter has to report at 8am in her full costume, with done-up hair (took me about 45 minutes to get that done for her).
I thought that the event hall would be something like an auditorium. So I was dissappointed as the hall looks no different from any other community centre. (Note that one ticket costs $35 per person). The seating was done in 3 sections - we were in the centre section. Since the seats are not elevated, you can imagine how frustrating it was for us to get good shots of the stage performance. How was I to zoom that far with my Kodak??? Our seats were in "O". Another thing that we discovered was that the graduation ceremony was held only for the East branch, that is, Eunos, Tampines, Simei & Pasir Ris. But why couldn't the organizer (aka the school) hold the event in the East??? Duh!
After about an hour performance by Eunos branch students, there was an interval for the graduants of Tampines branch to march up the stage in their graduation gown. Managed to snap a shot at dear daughter, walking together with two of her best friends (one on her left, the other in front of her). All three of them will be attending different schools from next year on. I hope she won't forget her childhood friends.
(I have to be frank that I was a little emo with the ceremony. My daughter is growing up.)
After posing on stage with her classmates, her performance didn't start till about the last hour of the whole ceremony. She had been practicing at school and home for the dance.
Yep, Hip Hop to the sound of Madonna's 4 Minutes. I may sound a little biased here but I'm not, really. The performance put up by her class was one of the two best performances for the day, in my opinion.
Part of the credit should go to the dedicated teachers for their effort. And I was amazed that all the kids performed really well. Kids - they continue to amaze you everytime.
When all has ended, I asked one of the teachers if I could take a photograph of dear daughter in the graduation gown, as I didn't manage to get a proper shot earlier. The teachers were more than obliging.
I tried to get a group photograph of the 3 best friends together, but didn't manage to. In the end, I make do with one of her best friends and dear son with his 'first love'.
Oh yes, we celebrated dear son's 4th birthday on Friday. Ordered an "Optimus Prime" cake for him as he is so into Transformers. The design was his choice, so he was very excited about cutting the cake.
Dear son huffing & puffing on the last candle
So those were the updates for this week, all in one page. There're more but I shall spare everyone from reading everything in one entry.
So much to do... so much of catching up... but so little time...
I have a number of goodie requests this holiday season but sadly I've to turn them down... for 2 solid months! It's frustrating!
What's more frustrating is that I'll be getting a new helper next month. Back to square ONE! Have to teach all over again. To some it sounds a relief, but to me... (sigh) I was in my comfort zone and teaching my new helper means it will take up some precious time during the holidays. I will be taking a week off from work for the orientation and getting my kids to adapt. Oh I'm so not looking forward to December and January! Something's come up in January, which I just found out today, and it doesn't look good to / for me. I'll talk more about that when the time comes.
So this Saturday will be the start of my 'burned' weekend. No more Saturday off for me till January. You see how frustrating it gets? Just when the kids will be on holidays, here I am having to work my butt off, sacrificing precious weekends with the family for 2 whole months. Pfft!! What is my work doing to me?!
Anyways... here's wishing everyone a great weekend. I hope I can squeeze in some time to try baking Molten Chocolate Cake soon, which I've put off for months (hee!).
I was planning to do either a research on my baking or finishing up my cornflakes by making more Cornflakes Snow this week, but when I received a call from Nora asking me to bake her son some birthday cuppies for his friends at school, I just couldn't turn her down.
She hadn't really decided on a theme but almost confirmed on Sesame Street. After much thought, she decided to go theme-less, as long as it's suitable for a boy's birthday.
So these were what I came up with - something bright, colourful on Double Chocolate Cupcakes with peach-flavoured icing.
I hope little Nabil & friends enjoyed looking & receiving the cupcakes after school!
I'm a bit depressed with my website and have been thinking of it since morning. Seems that I'm unable to upload new pics for my pages & therefore it looks outdated. I admit I've been neglecting it for a while, so.......(hee!) Anyways, I'll try to rectify it the best of my IT abilities as soon as possible. Otherwise I'll have to resort to other alternatives. (So stress!)
Yesterday, we celebrated little Ghazi's 2nd birthday. Planned to buy him a Spongebob Squarepants (one of his favourites, besides Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) cake, but by the time I wanted to place an order it was too short notice. My fault - lack of planning.
I end up buying a Spiderman cake for him after work. Happiness! And for Zinedine's birthday next month, I've placed an order for a Transformers cake for him. He is so into Transformers and Optimus Prime especially. He's got the bag, pencil case, shirt, pants, toys.... Well boys will be boys I say.
Sorry for this overdue post... Been wanting to upload but having some probems with editing photos from my new phone (I prefer taking pictures using my mobile phone rather than my Kodak cam simply because I have my mobile phone with me all the time... hee!)
As promised, here are the pics of the goodies prepared for ex-colleagues & posse on 4th October '09. I was relieved that my friend who initially wasn't able to come over, managed to. And I think we spent over an hour just chatting up. How I miss those moments.
Come night time, the group came. I think there were more people this year as the living and dining hall were taken up. Some of us didn't even manage to chat. Nevertheless it was good company. Thanks guys! And it makes me feel happy that they enjoyed the desserts that were prepared & displayed. Close friends have been seeing the goodies pics I've uploaded in FB and I thought perhaps I let them have a taste this year, instead of preparing festive food this Hari Raya.
Japanese Cheesecakes, Brownie & Mango Cheesecake
It took me days of planning; and juggling work and making sure I managed to prepare these in time was crucial as I did these alone.
The goodies that I prepared were Lemon Meringue, Original, Matcha & Strawberry Japanese Cheesecake, Mango Cheesecake, Chocolate Hazelnut Cheese Cups, Chocolate Mousse and Brownie. I thought I'd have some extra time to do another batch of Cornflakes Snow, but time did not permit. So I guess I'll do it some other time just for me to eat ; )
It was definitely a tiring week for me. But it was paid-off and I'm relieved I managed to complete what I'd wanted to do. This was a test for me too, to see how much I can do within a week (with advance planning of course). One thing that I wasn't that satisfied was presentation though. I was too caught up with trying to complete my tasks that I didn't plan enough on how to present the goodies.
Oh well... I'm looking forward to trying something new next year, with proper guidance from an expert. I really hope my work schedule next year will be a little bit more flexible and I have the energy to carry out my plans, Insyaallah.
Hopefully once that is accomplished, I'll arrange for another food-tasting for another group of friends.
It has been tiring for me for the last 2 days, whipping up goodies for Sunday. But despite being very busy juggling a few tasks at once and getting tired at the end of the day, I'm quite excited and happy to receive our usual Raya 'kakis'.
So far I've completed about 90% of my scheduled tasks - Brownie Platter, Chocolate Hazelnut Chesecake, Mango Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse, Original / Strawberry & Matcha Cotton Cheesecake. I'll complete everything with Lemon Meringue in the morning.
It's been a while since I made these much and I unwillingly admit that age does make the difference. I get tired easily nowadays, compared to three years ago when I first started out.
Tiredness aside, I finished baking at 3pm and then made preparations to go visiting at 5pm. Although it was raining heavily, we covered four houses today. Pity that we had to 'drag' the 2 boys while they were still feeling weak. By the time we covered the last house, Ghazi had already fell asleep while Zinedine was looking for a place to lie down. We reached home at almost 11pm.
I felt bad as I had to inform one of our ex-colleagues that we were already leaving the house when she checked if we were in to visit. I'm still thinking about it as I jot these down. Hopefully we can arrange for a get-together some day.
Pictures will be up soon. I've yet to think of the table set-up. I hope to get some rest after baking the Lemon Meringue, before receiving my guests.
Oh hopefully the goodies will be enough for everyone and everything turns out well!
This weekend will be a very busy one for me. As I will be making preparations for my goodies sampling for some friends who are coming over on Sunday.
Initially the plan was to cook Mee Betawi. But consideraing that our friends would be eating cooked food from other houses (by the time they reached ours, they'd be full & bloated = won't eat much = food wastage), both hubby & I decided to do smething different this year. We thought we'd let our friends to try the goodies I make and hopefully they will help to 'market' sistabrownie to others.
This is by the way quite a last minute plan as I've only decided this week, leave approved, stock up on baking stuff yesterday (not forgetting a quick trip to the hairdresser's heh), finalizing the deco on my cuppies' order and then the baking marathon begins.
Among the goodies I'll be preparing are the Brownie Platter, three types of Cotton Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse, Cheesecake (haven't decided which one to make), Lemon Meringue Pie and a new goodie which I hope to introduce & market as well.
I really really hope I'll be able to complete all these on time, despite having plans to visit aunts & friends tomorrow.
To my food people who are reading my blog, please come and join us for the goodies' sampling / tasting this Sunday. SMS or email me for the address.
I am so caught up with other issues that I've neglected my blog. The result - outdated posts & pictures.
To start off, Eid Mubarak to all!
There wasn't much preparations this year as I had to work on the first day of Eid. Therefore instead of cooking my own dishes on the eve, I went over to mum's. How I miss her cooking! I wish I could eat her cooked food everyday now.
Anyways, there were a few requests from friends for cookies & cakes. I tried to limit the numbers as I was afraid I might not be able to commit due to time-constraint (again due to work commitments).
These were a few I could manage 2 weeks before the festival. Goodies that were offered for request were Chocolate Cranberry Cookies, Cornflakes Snow, Brownie Platter, Chocolate Cheese Brownie & Cotton Cheesecakes (Matcha or Strawberry).
Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Brownie Platter (with Chocolate Chips topper)
Chocolate Cheese Brownie
Matcha Cotton Cheesecake
While whipping up the ingredients, somehow I managed to pull through two new recipes - Almond Melts & Matcha Cheese Cookies.
By now you'd probably be saying, "Yeah right, for someone who'd just said "due to time-constraint", she squeezed in 2 new cookies for no apparent reasons at all". That's true; for no reasons I made 2 extra new cookies. I don't know why... probably because I have some ingredients left that I didn't want to waste.
Matcha Cheese Cookies
For both Matcha Cotton Cheesecake and cookies, I got all excited about using the new flavour that I just fell in love with it. The smell is soooo refreshing. Must remember to stock up on this.
For the Matcha Cheese Cookies, I thought that it'd be better if I used pistacchios instead of almond on top. Not really to suit the taste, but more of variation from all the cookies.
Overall, I am grateful that all the requests were met & collected on schedule. A big thank you to dearest hubby for helping to fetch me to & from the groceries and baking supplies store for these. He contributed in such a 'big' way.
I'm gonna get busy again this week with Chocolate Cupcakes request (from a friend) for an engagement ceremony this Saturday. She had requested for the exact same cupcakes' decor she saw at my brother's wedding (the girl's side).
Saturday, hopefully, we can resume our visiting to more of our aunts' and close friends' abode.
Then there's the food preparation for ex-colleagues from SATS, who are coming over on Sunday.
Phew!! That's a handful of activities... I really need to rejuvenate.
Till the next blog entry. Have a great week ahead food people!
The hacking case is almost solved. After much consideration, I have decided to deactivate and close the two hotmail accounts under "sistabrownie" & "mystique". Same goes for the enquiry email accounts. I believe the "sistabrownie" brand has been tarnished because of this incident.
Therefore I am now thinking of renaming my brand but have yet to come with a name. Any suggestions?
Just to update that my Hotmail email accounts are still unsolved. It has taken longer than expected due to the time difference between Singapore & the US. The only way I'm communicating with the support team is by email.
Please be patient while I'm considering whether or not to deactivate the account altogether. I know that this has caused a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people in my network. I apologize to all of you.
I have concerned friends / contacts all the way from the UK asking me (by my mobile) if I'm all right. Yes, I am and I'm sorry I'm unable to reach out to each one of you on time with regards to the hacked email.