Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hobbies Do Help De-Stress Professionals

Despite scaling down on my baking orders, I was featured in yesterday's New Straits Times to promote that hobbies do help de-stress professionals. Check out the write up in the picture below. Or if your eyes are failing you with age (like mine!), you can also read it on the NST online page here.

NST May 27th 2014, Page 16.

I'm mentioned briefly, alongside my cousin-in-law who runs Beadlista. Don't believe her age though, it was a mis-quote! Even her picture should show that she's older than me! *cheeky grin*

Anyway, baking started purely as a hobby for me. Until today, I still enjoy standing in front of my KitchenAid mixer, praying that my egg whites will whip up into a beautiful meringue. Or standing in front of my trusty oven, watching my cake rise. Oh, and of course - sitting at the patio with a slice of my favourite homemade pound cake.

Gradually, it turned into a side business. But as most engineers would agree, we suck at business. I couldn't figure out how much to charge for my cakes, I would spend too much time perfecting my cakes up to the tiny detail (i'm anal like that!), and I would worry about how my customers would like my cake.

So now, I am back to baking as a hobby. After a hard day at work, I look forward to being in my dry kitchen. Just listening to my Kitchenaid whir is relaxing. Popping the cake in the oven and then lying down on the sofa waiting for the oven timer to go off is relaxing. Eating a slice of cake - obviously is relaxing for just about anyone! It's a well welcomed diversion from things at work. The key thing is knowing how to juggle baking and matters at home. Your hobby shouldn't reduce your time with the family, nor should it affect your concentration at work and your drive to climb the career ladder.

I have also used baking to my advantage at work. Ever tried bringing a cake or a jar of macarons to a meeting? I found that it improved my relationship with my colleagues whilst at the same time, it made the meeting more laid back and ultimately more productive! (Everyone works better and makes better decisions when they are relaxed.)

As for the picture in the newspaper cutting above, I was late in providing them a picture, hence my picture didn't make the cut. Or rather Adi Putra's picture with my cake didn't make the cut:

Adi Putra posing with my topsy-turvy creation. The cake design is called topsy turvy, although I nearly became topsy turvy as well making the cake!

So you read about my rendezvous with Aaron Aziz. Bet you never saw Adi Putra's picture above in this blog. I know, I know - I should buck up with my posts.

I should probably state for the record, that the colour of choice wasn't mine at all. The organizers wanted a cake according to their theme - colour blocking of blue and pink. I would have probably picked a more manly colour for Adi Putra! *grin

Posing with Adi Putra. 

Heck, I should dedicate a whole post to Adi Putra. Apart from his birthday cake, I also made a dessert table for his newborn daughter. But then again, blogging is not my hobby. So, if you don't see that post anytime soon, i'm probably slaving in the kitchen again. *smile*


Monday, May 19, 2014

Ian's First Meal

Ian's been drooling at practically anything and everything that we're eating - it's quite sad really. Similar to Aiden when he was about the same age, he would start salivating and even imitating our mouth gestures whenever we were eating. So when his pediatrician gave us the green light for us to start him on solids as soon as he turns five and a half months old (two weeks earlier than the recommended age!) we were overjoyed! Heck, that's two weeks less of him watching us eat, thank you very much.

Alhamdulillah, Ian is still fully breastfed - even at time of writing - but my milk supply has been dwindling down ever since I started work. I used to have abundant stock, at least 2 months worth in the freezer. But nowadays i'm encroaching on my April supply and it's not even the end of May. Therefore, starting him on solids will hopefully reduce his dependency on milk so that insyaAllah, if Allah permits, I can successfully breastfeed him until he turns one. Honestly, i'm already over the moon that Ian's going to hit his 6 month breastfed mark since that was the target anyway. Poor Aiden - he never had that opportunity. Back then, there wasn't much breastfeeding awareness even in the hospitals so when that 4.1kg baby yelped for milk, the nurses fed him with formula from Day 1. I think I only managed 5 months with Aiden, and even that was supplemented with formula.

I was quite surprised with the number of choices available for baby food. There was the organic range, the normal range, the simple food range (erk, is there a complicated food range?), the teething range. Even the trusty old Heinz offered over 150 different varieties!

Just for the record, Ian's first food was actually some macaron crumbs. I was baking and assembling some macarons and he gave me a forlorn look, so I took pity and gave him some. Oh wow, he loved it! But that was technically sugar, not real food. So to gauge his interest in baby food, I decided to give him the Heinz teething biscuit. Not the whole thing, of course. But rather - just as a first taste. And with close supervision, of course. 

Ian was quite intrigued with the new "toy" Mummy was handing out to him.
First taste.
Making a weird face. By the way, can you see the slight bruise on his right arm, just below the wrist? I think that's a birth mark. It's been there for quite a while and show no signs of going away.

And, as predicted, he didn't want to let go of the biscuit! Unfortunately, his grip wasn't as strong as he thought it was so the biscuit kept falling out of his hand and he kept wailing because he assumed we took it away from him. Okay fine, we did take it away from him a few times just to see him cry out (and we would laugh, poor Ian!). But each and every time we put it back into his hand and slowly guided the biscuit back into his mouth, he would immediately stop crying and start sucking and grinding his gums on it.

Great! So he loves food. Next up, his first meal. Like his brother, we started Ian with Nestle rice powder mixed with some breast milk. We dragged Aiden's baby chair out from the attic and strapped Ian in. Whipped out a new set of bowl and cutleries, and a baby bib from Yahoo! (picture below) and Ian was all set.

Had the Chuggington set for the longest time - just waiting for Ian to officiate it.
Daddy strapping Ian in.
Looking curiously at his food, fingers itching to grab the bowl.
Yahoo! bib purchased in San Francisco when we were visiting my brother at the Yahoo! headquarters. It was the first baby item I bought after I found out I was pregnant. I guess I didn't want to jinx my hopes that it would be a girl. And purple is unisex, right? 
First mouthful, with Aiden encouraging him on.
Weird face!

Weird but true. Despite his interest in food, he didn't really enjoy his first meal. Unlike Aiden (who gobbled up every single spoonful like a pro), Ian kept pushing his food out of his mouth. I think he hasn't figured out how to keep the food in his mouth and his tongue kept pushing the food out (similar reflexes as drinking milk).

Ian sticking his tongue out to the next spoonful!
It was definitely a family affair. Mummy feeding, Aiden cheering, Daddy taking pictures and even the maid observing!

"No more Mummy!"
Chubby cheeks.
Comot face.
Last spoonful, I promise!
Last spoonful going in.
Happy grin.

Yup, I gave up after probably 5 small spoons. No two babies are the same so I shouldn't have expected the experience with Ian to be similar to Aiden. 

But I am also happy to report that after a week of practice, he's starting to swallow better. We have also started introducing finely grinded ikan bilis to his rice cereal (no salt, please!), and steamed/pureed carrots (will post on that later), and he loves both! I try to introduce one new single food every week just to see if his stomach can handle that food. So this week I tried giving him steamed/pureed potatoes, but he gave me the weird face again - suspect because the consistency was too mushy and sticky for him to swallow, so will probably hold that off, thus we're now back to carrots.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Makan Kaki

If you are familiar in old folks' beliefs, you would have heard that when a baby starts to makan kaki (sucks his toes), it means that he/she will have a new brother/sister. Or rather you will have a new baby.

Let me share with you my interpretation of this belief. Babies in general start sucking their toes at about the same time - say about 5 or 6 months of age. This is also the time when babies start weaning and women start getting their period. Since back in the old days, there weren't many effective birth control methods, this means that the woman may get pregnant again. (Get what i'm hinting at?) Hence, the baby will get a new brother or sister!

Does that make sense?

Anywayyyyyy, Ian started to makan kaki as soon as he turned 5 and a half months old. We were on our way home from an overnight at the in-laws and he was seated comfortably in his car seat. Suddenly, he noticed his toes and managed to maneuver his foot towards his mouth!

Look at those mischievous bright eyes.
One foot heading to his mouth.
Check out that expression. Priceless!!
"This is yummy!"
And a sniff at the end!

And just in case you're wondering - nope, i'm not pregnant again or anything. Just debunking an old folks' belief. What do you think?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy Teachers' Day!

Buying presents for Teachers' Day is no easy feat. I know some schools place a cap on the price of the gift, as there had been an instance where the student gave the teacher a new handphone! But really, it's not the price that bothers me. I just don't know what to buy! I usually make it a point to give something practical or something that they can treasure or keep. But then again I didn't want to give her mugs, pens, note books, keychains, fridge magnets or anything like that. I wanted to make something for her, but I am not quite as artistic as I would like to be. So what should I give to Aiden's teacher to show to her how grateful I am for all the progress that Aiden's been having?

Bake her something! That much I can do. In the end, I decided to bake some macarons. Not only is it thoughtful, it is also something that she can eat and is not something that will gather dust on a rack somewhere. 

Thankfully, I always keep spare gift containers at home in case I decide to bake something and give it away as a present. Aiden picked the colour blue whilst I chose the colour pink (to match the pink ribbon). The card was a homemade project by Aiden and Daddy while Mummy was busy baking in the kitchen - hence please excuse the messy (but adorably cute) handwriting.

Happy Teacher's Day, Miss Jennet!
I should also state a thank you to all the individuals that have taught me in life, in one way or another:

  • My playschool teachers in the LPPKN nursery and Pusaka
  • My kindergarten teachers in Villamaria Good Shepherd
  • My school teachers in Bukit Bintang Girls School and Sekolah Seri Puteri
  • My lecturers at Taj College and University of Malaya
  • My mentors in the Dutch Oil Company
  • And last but not least, my mother, the best teacher of all - I see myself turning more and more into her as the age catches up. Love you, Mummy!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

BMW Maclaren Stroller

Saw this at the BMW Showroom last week, when we were there getting our number plate replaced (yeay, finally got our tendered 1221 number!) and was drooling at the sleek design of the stroller. 

Unfortunately, the Maclaren that we bought 5 years ago for Aiden is still in very good condition as the Quinny is Ian's main mode of transportation nowadays. Our Maclaren gets to see sunlight only during my evening walks around the neighbourhood, so can't really justify the purchase of this beauty below.

Beautiful in black.
*gulp* at the price.
BMW wheels. *drool*

Oh well, one can always dream! *grin*

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

KGB: Killer Gourmet Burger, Bangsar

This is currently my favourite burger joint. However, since they are only open for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (but for dinner everyday), I have only managed to squeeze three trips for their delicious burgers - twice during my extended Friday lunch with my office mates, and once with Hubby on a very rushed Saturday lunch.We typically have dinner at home during the weekdays and we don't usually like to venture into Telawi during the weekends, preferring instead to stick to quieter more family oriented malls such as BSC, Empire or even Setia City Mall. But I simply had to get Hubby to try the burgers, so here are pictures from my last trip with him.

Pictures taken when I was 7 months pregnant so excuse the huge nose! 

KGB Bangsar is located on the same row as Devi's Corner. It occupies a small half lot, but don't be fooled by the size of the shop - because the burgers certainly make up for the tiny space! Due to its popularity, be prepared to wait for a seat during dinner hours - or just do takeaway. When I first came with my colleagues, we assumed that someone would take our order at the table. Erm, sorry, you have to queue up and order just like a fast food restaurant and then the burgers would be sent to your table. Not to worry though, the folks at KGB are super nice - we sat around like queens waiting for someone to take our order and their staff was nice enough to do so and accepted our payment at the table due to our ignorance. Must be because it was during lunch and there weren't a lot of customers around. Don't do the same as us during rush hour, okay!

I love the fact that the burgers are cooked medium well, but you can always specify something different, even medium rare, when ordering. I also love that their burger buns are individually stamped with the letters KGB, makes the whole burger experience so unique! 

My favourite burger - Bash!
Yes, those are cornflakes.

My favourite burger is Bash - grilled grassfed beef, beef bacon relish, provolone cheese, caramelized onions and maple cornflakes. The beef is tender, thick and juicy, and the cornflakes gives the burger an extra crunch! *drool* I really think the cornflakes idea is just genius!

Someone now knows how to do the duck face!
Cheeky Aiden.

Unfortunately for Aiden, KGB doesn't serve hot dogs. Only burgers. So he had to just munch on our fries until we could find another restaurant for his hot dogs.

Hubby's burger - Tornado.
Hubby was attracted to the onion rings in the burger.

Hubby's burger, the Tornado - grilled grassfed beef, onion rings, sunny side egg and buffalowing aioli. A slightly messy burger to eat with the runny egg yolk and mayo dripping and all. We swapped burgers a few times during the meal - both burgers were darn good. Next time I am going to try the Bella Bomb Tower. The portobello mushroom sure sounds mighty good, and triple melted cheese - need I say more?? Even the Truffle'd Swiss Mushroom sounds good. *double drool*

However, if gourmet burgers are not your thing and you're salivating for a simple beef burger - try The Shack. My colleague who had it enjoyed her meal immensely!

The menu.

Two thumbs up for KGB. They certainly live up to their tag line - Life is too short for bad burgers!

KGB Bangsar
23, Jalan Telawi 2, 
Bangsar Baru, 
59100 Kuala Lumpur

Monday, May 12, 2014

We Found Our Old Baby Beemer!

It was a day just like any other weekend. That fateful weekend, we decided to brave the traffic into KL by heading to MidValley Megamall. I wanted to run various errands - from upsizing my wedding ring to downsizing my work pants. We also wanted to send our new Baby Beemer for a wash so that we didn't have to search for parking, but the car wash only accepted cars with membership - how people do business like this, I don't understand. So Hubby circled the parking area a few times to search for parking and suddenly, he exclaimed, "Eh, yang! Our car!"

Yes, barely two months after selling our old Baby Beemer, it has moved in with a new owner. And we found the car in MidValley, of all places! As fate wanted it, we found a parking spot just three cars away from it. We quickly parked and walked over to our old baby. It looked bright and shiny, and the interior was even painted new. All of Aiden's hard work peeling the dashboard was completely gone! There were a couple of files in the backseat and there was even a stuffed toy behind the back seat headrest.

(I later found out from a friend that the stuffed toy is a Rilakkuma - erk forgive my ignorance but I had to google to find out what in the world is a Rilakkuma bear! Rilakkuma is a combination of the Japanese pronunciation of relax and the Japanese word for bear, hence a relax bear? Wow, the new owners must be uber cool!)

Hello baby!
Excited faces, posing with our old baby.
A must have selfie with the earlier mentioned Rilakkuma.

We were so excited about finding the car that we couldn't stop talking about it over lunch. I mean, how often would you be able to find your old car in a place as huge as Kuala Lumpur? We were secretly hoping that we would be able to meet the new owners before we left the mall, but as were walking back to our car after completing our errands, the car was still there. So I did the next best thing I could think of. I wrote them a note!

A note for the new owners.
Yeah, we used to own this car *sebak*

So, to the new owners of our Baby Beemer, I hope you love the car as much as we did. And please take good care of my baby! Till we see you again, XOXO.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Aiden's 5th Birthday at Real Kids!

Happy 5th Birthday, Aiden!

Can you believe it? Aiden initially requested for a cake with all (I repeat ALL) of the Disney Junior characters on it. Especially Sheriff Callie. Oh god, Mandy Moore how did you make my son love you that much? 

So I decided to suggest more manly alternatives. Such as superheroes! Just name it Aiden, whatever you want - Mummy will make it. Just not Sheriff Callie, please! In the end he agreed to Avengers - apparently he has taken quite a liking to the Thor hammer. He wanted the complete set - in order of preference - Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk! A few days after he made up his mind, he added a request for "Captain America's boss, the one with the eye patch!" Erk, yes he wanted Nick Fury on the cake. How lah???

Anyway, keeping practicalities in check - I got to work! This time I decided to challenge myself to a two-tier cake for my first born. The bottom tier was a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting whilst the upper tier was a white cake with cream cheese frosting. *drool*

This is how I typically bake in the kitchen. TV on, mess on the table, Ian in his rocker and Aiden, erm entertaining himself.
He wanted to draw on the wall. As an alternative, we agreed to paste a piece of paper on the kitchen cabinet for him to show off his artistic skills. That piece of paper is still stuck on my cabinet!
The two cakes, frosted and ready to be assembled.
Hubby aka creative director helping out with Iron Man's mask. Love you, darling!
Captain America, Iron Man and Thor.. all on one cake!
Top of the cake. Iron Man looked a tad too slim with botox cheeks. Oh well!
Bottom of the cake. We figured a bit too late that the Captain America shield would block the space intended for Aiden's name, hence Aiden's name had to be shifted slightly to the right.

I initially wanted to make Aiden's name in green as a tribute to Hulk - it was getting a bit too late at night to make Hulk's hand. But in the end I decided against it as I thought people wouldn't understand the reference. Dah tiba tiba green pulak on a red, yellow and blue cake, kan

Top of the cake. Thor's hammer is completely made from cake, covered with fondant. Bukan fondant block, yer.
A close up of the hammer. I mixed the colour brown into the fondant but didn't mix it thoroughly to get traces of dark brown so it looks like a 'rope', wrapped around the handle. Used a satay stick to assemble the hammer head and the handle together.
And guess what happened when he saw the cake. My most critical customer asked me why his superheroes were not in human form. *disbelief* Hashtag hard to please. Jeez!

Since being a Mummy of two has given me the license to claim being busy all the time, I decided to just reuse Aiden's pizza party printables for his kindergarten party. Same favour boxes, personalized water bottle and chocolate - but I added a special personalized box of colour pencils for each of Aiden's classmate. See if you can spot them below!

Customized party favours. 
I made sure I placed a limit on the number of candy I packed into the favour box. But I just couldn't resist sneaking in the red gum balls!

On the day of Aiden's birthday party, I made a short pit stop to our neighbourhood Dominos for some scrumptious pizzas to bring to Aiden's school. I had specifically told Aiden to inform his teacher that we were coming with a cake and (4 large) pizzas. Guess what? The only thing Aiden told his teacher was that he was getting a superheroes cake. Anddddd we were late! When we arrived, the students were just finishing their mihun goreng and were getting ready for computer class. Thankfully, the children were happy enough to swap computer class for cake and pizza!

Ian was the center of attention among the girls. And some boys, too!
And Ian gets a smooch!
While the girls were crowding around Ian, the boys were crowding around the cake. Aiden's teacher had to practically force everyone back to their seat.
We were then greeted with a chorus of "Good Morning Ma'am! Good morning Sir!" and even a "Good Morning Makcik!" for my maid. Such great manners.
Yes, I brought my own cake stand. I am kiasu that way.
Getting ready to sing the birthday song.
That's Aiden's best friend - Radley on his left. When Aiden told me about his best friend Radley, I thought he was tricking me. They had even made plans about sleepovers at each other's houses. Which was hilariously funny, because Aiden couldn't even tell me where he lives! *kids nowadays*
And they posed!
My baby is 5!
Helping him cut the cake.
Radley peeking curiously at the cake. I knew he had his heart set on eating the Thor hammer. In fact, nearly all the boys wanted the hammer. So, we brought the hammer home!
Ooppss! We forgot Ian!
The girl beside Aiden is Aliesha. 

During a recent parent-teacher meeting, Aiden's class teacher explained that Aiden likes Aliesha. She had to separate Aiden and Radley from sitting beside each other as they were causing too much havoc together *obviously* and made Aiden sit beside Aliesha. After a while, when she wanted to make Aiden swap seats again, he actually protested! And after meeting Aliesha - I figured out why. She has got to be the softest, cutest child in class! She's quiet, while Aiden is just the opposite. Okay, you get the drift.

We requested for Aiden to open his presents in class. Thankfully, Aiden's teacher agreed.
In the end, the other kids were the ones excitedly trying out Aiden's new toys.
We saved the best for last. Mummy and Daddy's present.
I swear, nearly the whole class was screaming in excitement when they saw the Nerf gun. 20 kids in high pitch voices. I bet we even interrupted the concentration of the class next door.
Heck, even I got excited with the Nerf gun. 

Anyway, the kids barely even finished one large box of pizza so we took one home and left the two remaining ones for the teachers to finish up. Even the two-tier cake was barely touched. Lesson learnt, kids don't eat that much.

Andddd the birthday boy gets the Thor hammer!

Happy birthday, Abang Aiden - our amazing young man. We hope you enjoyed your birthday party, baby! With love from Mummy, Daddy and Ian. *kisses*
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