Thursday, December 29, 2011

When Small Things Turn Into Bigger Things

In end of November, I ran a Christmas Giveaway for my blog readers who live in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to give away something that is very close to my baking hobby. I gave away two baking books to two lucky winners.

Last night, one of my Christmas Giveaway winners, Jamie from Penang, wrote a beautiful story in her blog about the aftermath of the baking book that she just won.

It's such a distinctive joy for me to discover that a simple and small thing that I shared with Jamie had turned to into a much greater thing in her life.

So here's the gist of Jamie and her baking book story. At the beginning, Jamie could not do much with the baking book that I sent her because she had no oven. I reckon, most, if not all, the recipes featured in that baking book call for an oven. Needless to say, Jamie had to rest the baking book on the book shelf since there was really nothing much she could experiment with the book sans the existence of an oven in her kitchen. Knowing this, her thoughtful husband, purposely bought his wife her very first oven as a Christmas gift so she could put her first baking book into use. *Drum rolls* Jamie now has her first ever baking book and oven too. Is not this great? Thanks to her husband, all Jamie needs to do, starting from this weekend, is to test the recipes from that book with her brand new oven.

Enjoy your baking, Jamie. I'm sure you'd love your kitchen even more now!

*Thank you again to those who participated in this Giveaway. I hope to run more giveaways in the near future*

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Making Soft Butter Cake with Chocolate Rice Topping

After looking at the photo of a beautifully done roll cake that my friend in Singapore, Vivi, recently did, I was immensely intrigued to make one too.

Last Saturday, Vivi was kind enough to share with me her roll cake recipe. To my surprise, her roll cake recipe does not need expensive ingredients and I pretty much had everything needed ready in my kitchen. This afternoon, I decided to experiment with her roll cake recipe. The cake batter was, in my opinion, as easy as one-two-three to make and can be prepared in a relatively short time.

The final result of the roll cake that I baked this afternoon was perfect when I took it out from the oven. Up to this point, everything was text book. However, the rolling part became a horror to me. I was too nervous and again, too chickened out to break my pretty cake into several pieces. Yep, I had no stomach for rolling the cake. Shortly, I aborted my initial mission in making a roll cake and chose the easy path instead. I spread some margarine on top of the cake and generously poured milk chocolate rice as the cake topping.

Roll Cake Interrupted.

Hey, hey, the square cake that I created today turned to be really nice. The cake has a really strong milk, vanilla and butter aromas. Its texture's extremely soft (almost melt in the mouth, I say) and a little bit spongy as well. I totally loved it! My niece ate two slices at one go. My husband praised me. In the end, I was not too disappointed with my baking frenzy today.

I am so going to repeat this recipe again and next time, I will roll the cake!

Thank you for sharing this great recipe, Vi!

P/S: If you know any tips and tricks in rolling a cake without creating too much damage on it, I'd really appreciate the learnings from you.

Monday, December 26, 2011

One Christmas Day in Singapore

I normally go back to Indonesia for Christmas. As my husband and I just came back from Indonesia last month, it's just a little bit inconvenient for us to go to Indonesia again this month.

Knowing that my husband's family in Malaysia does not celebrate Christmas, my husband and I decided to go to Singapore to celebrate Christmas with my Indonesian Church fellows and some close friends there. It's almost a year since I left Singapore for Malaysia so I guess yesterday's idea of having a short getaway to Singapore was really timely.

The moment when our car already passed the Woodlands Immigration Check Point and when I got to see the stretch of the HDBs in Singapore again, I told myself, "Finally, Singapore once more! Just like the good old times!"

Like my last year's Christmas celebration in Singapore, I had so much fun and was really happy spending this year's Christmas with my husband and some close friends in Singapore. I got the chance to eat some Singapore's food that I had not enjoyed for quite some time by now. Above all, exactly on the Christmas Day, I think I had my Christmas spirit back. Honestly, all this while, I had been moaning on how I was going to have such a dull Christmas in Malaysia because everyone I know here seems to be not affected by the Christmas at all and looks forward for Chinese New Year instead. In fact, my Mom-in-Law already had her shopping spree in Kuala Lumpur last week to get new clothes for some family members in order to welcome the coming Chinese New Year 2012.

Back to the Christmas in Singapore topic, our Christmas road trip from Seremban to Singapore began on last Saturday afternoon. My husband and I spent the Christmas Eve in Johor Bahru because the hotel in Johor Bahru is definitely much cheaper than the ones in Singapore especially on holiday seasons like now.

On Sunday morning, we headed to Singapore at around 8.30am and about an hour later, my husband and I finally reached the Orchard Parade Hotel where my Church's Christmas service was held. When I lived in Singapore, I had the tendency to come to the Church's Sunday Service about 30 minutes late but miraculously, my husband and I were ones of the early birds for the Service yesterday.

A glimpse of our Christmas Service in Singapore yesterday. 
The sermon was about the true meaning of Christmas.
We were asked to write Christmas messages on Christmas Cards 
for the orphaned children in Batam.

I totally enjoyed yesterday's Church's Christmas Service and had a blast in meeting some Church fellows in Singapore whom I had not seen for almost a year.

 Me and one of my besties in Singapore, Ayrin.

 A group photo with Ayrin and Yanuar's family in Singapore. 
Congrats for Yanuar and Ling's baby girl arrival!

Another group photos with Church fellows in Singapore.

After quick lunch (but long queue) at ION Orchard's Food Opera, my husband and I bade farewell to some Church fellows and continued our journey to Somerset to meet other close Indonesian friends/ex-neighbours in Ang Mo Kio, where we stayed last year.

As I walked along the Orchard Road, I realized that Christmas in Singapore, as compared to other Asian countries, is always very special and happening. The Christmas ambience, especially along the Orchard Road, is very strong. The whole stretch of Orchard Road is always heavily decorated with tall and bright Christmas Trees, statues and beautiful lights. Furthermore, on the Christmas Day itself, Orchard Road's blocked from 1pm to 1am for Christmas live performances. Amazing!

A Giant Christmas Tree on Orchard Road.
My husband said this Tree's decorations looks like got under the Harry Potter's Gemino Charm
 (A spell that makes things multiply when touched).

Our friends selected a nice café in Somerset for us to sit down and chit chat over coffee. The four of us talked and talked for almost two hours until we decided to split our ways and called our catch-ups for a day as my husband and I were considering to go back to Seremban before nightfall.

Ex-neighbours in Ang Mo Kio: Hera and I.

Ex-neighbours in Ang Mo Kio: Herry, Hera's husband, and my husband. 
Thanks again for the drinks treat, Herry!

From Somerset, my husband and I went back to Orchard's Tanglin area by foot and I kid you not, Orchard Road was seriously packed with people. The crowd was quite a madness.

It was cloudy and drizzling in Singapore yesterday and there was a point when I pitied the Ice Potong sellers along the Orchard Road since I thought little people would buy their products on such a cold and windy weather. I was entirely mistaken. There were long queues for almost every Ice Potong Stall I passed by in Orchard Road.

Orchard Road's crowd on Christmas Day yesterday and notice how people queued for Ice Potong.

By the way, I could not help to snap some photos with a couple of elephants' sculptures along the Orchard Road. Singapore is currently hosting the Elephant Parade, a colourful and artistic open-air exhibition as an act to support the conservation of Asian Elephants. I understand that these gentle giants' sculptures along the Orchard Road are only temporarily displays in Singapore so I did not hesitate to take some touristy pictures with them.

I told you, I have a thing for random green objects.

Isn't this a cute elephant sculpture? Look at the puppy eyes.

On our way back to the parking lot in Orchard Parade Hotel, my husband and I got pretty hungry so we grabbed a Chicken Shoarma Kebab by the street. I think it was my first Shoarma Kebab since 2006! I believe the last time I had Shoarma Kebab was when I stayed in the Netherlands more than five years ago.

I got big Chicken Shoarma Kebab on my hand.

 Dining at Shiraz Mazzeh's Stall in Orchard Road.

The mouthwatering Shiraz Mazzeh's fresh Chicken Shoarma Kebab! 

The Shoarma Kebab Dinner practically concluded our short Christmas trip in Singapore and minutes later, we were already driving in Malaysia land. How (good) time passed so quickly!

I think I already discovered my new year resolution for 2012. To visit Singapore more often! 

Lastly, huge thanks to my husband who drove me all the way to Singapore yesterday and to all my friends whom I briefly spent time with in Singapore yesterday. It was great meeting one and each of you and hope to see you all again really soon. I apologize to some other friends whom I didn't manage to contact or meet yesterday due to time constraints. See you in Singapore next time!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Winter Solstice Festival

Today is the Winter Solstice or Dōngzhì Festival for the Chinese people around the world. Most of Chinese families would prepare tangyuán (or known as ronde in Indonesia) and eat this Chinese dessert made from glutinous flour together with other family members.


Home made tangyuán I enjoyed last night.

Last night, my brother-in-law and his wife prepared the filled tangyuán and boiled its sweet ginger soup for us. 

I remember my aunt and Grandma in Indonesia normally make tangyuán for the whole big family during this festival and I always look forward to their giant tangyuán filled with lots of chopped peanuts, sugar and dried orange peel slices. Dōngzhì Festival was indeed one of my favourite Chinese festivals after the Mooncake festival. 

To my surprise, the Chinese community in Malaysia takes this festival as a time for the family to get together quite seriously. I noticed that most of the Chinese shops, restaurants and stalls did not operate today because they wanted to celebrate this festival. Also, my parents-in-law purposely went all the way down to Johor this morning as they wanted to pray during this festival.

Have you eaten your tangyuán today?

One or Two Things About Me

I was born in the second largest city in East Java called Malang in September 1984. From my birth certificate, I learned that I first came into this world on Friday at 5.45am. Then, the sun just rose and the sky was reddish so my late maternal Grandfather named me (Xia) which means red clouds. My Mom was in labour for almost 24 hours when she was about to deliver me. Since my Dad was away, a couple of close neighbours sent my Mom to the maternity hospital. 

My home town was famous for its cooling weather, less traffic jam and apples. I must sadly announce that it's no longer cold and has heavy traffic jam in day and night. Malang apples, however, remain popular among Indonesians. Since living abroad, I try my best to visit my home town minimum twice a year. I don’t want my senile Grandma at home to forget my face if she does not see me so often.

I am the eldest child. I am my parents' confidante, I guess. I have one younger sister and one younger brother. I used to be so in love with this guy. I still love my little brother but the way I express my love to him is different now. Since I have my husband, I am not that obsessed with him anymore.

I went to a Kindergarten near my house when I was 3. Lily, my best friend, was with me in the first year of Kindergarten until her parents moved her to St. Joseph Kindergarten. After she moved to different Kindergarten, I think I was kind of lost for a while. 

St. Joseph College, my almamater, was known as the best private school in town, famous for its disciplinary methods in educating students and the never ending home works and tests. Some people say, you are confirmed a nerd when you study there. My parents put me in St. Joseph for my primary, junior and senior high schools. In total, I spent 12 years in this Catholic school. 

I cried in the first three days of primary school. My Dad had to wait outside my class room until 9am for the first three days because I cried a lot. I got zero mark for the first test's result in my primary one simply because I did not answer any of the questions that the teacher asked. I copied the teacher's questions including the blank space (for answers) from the blackboard onto my test book but hesitated whether I should fill the empty space with something too. In the end, I left all the empty spaces blank. My Mom who spent hours in teaching me the chapter for my first test the night before was not angry with my zero mark.


I did not do very well during primary school especially when it came to Mathematics. I was always in the bottom list and my teacher often called my parents to school to discuss my academic performance. For 6 years, my Dad was always furious with my periodic primary school reports.


I first learned English when I was 12. In the beginning, I had major confusions in pairing he/she/it with is, I with am and they with are.

Academically, I became better when I was in junior and senior schools. Heaven wonders but I was in the top 10 of my class in almost every year after primary school. My parents started to be proud of me and I grew myself so much self-confidence after that. 

I sucked big time at subjects involving numbers and physical activities like sports. But, I excelled at subjects which relied much on my memorizing ability. 

I picked up some private music lessons like Organ and Violin when I was 13. I won some local Organ competitions twice and the days when I brought the trophies home were probably two of the best days of my life. I stopped learning them when I moved to Surabaya.

My star was apparently still bright during my university years in Surabaya. I majored in International Business Management, managed to get a scholarship to pursue my Double Degree in Amsterdam and finally, graduated Cum Laude. I met a lot of good friends during my university years and still virtually keep in touch with some of them until this very day.

became a Christian in 2006 but I seldom go to Church. When I was small, I blamed Doraemon show on TV for me skipping the Sunday school. The timing of Doraemon Show on TV at 8am every Sunday coincided the commencement of the weekly Sunday school. I chose Doraemon over Sunday school. These days, I guess I was too hooked with the smell of my pillow hence I have serious problem in waking up early on weekends. 

Every year, I never failed to exchange Christmas cards with my best friend, Lily, until SMSes replaced the function of snail mail for greeting Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in cheaper and faster fashion. Her Christmas wishes to me since the past 15 years never changed. She hopes I could go to Church on Sunday more diligently. 

I have read the whole Bible before I decided to convert to Christian.

I cannot lead prayers in public. 

After Amsterdam, I found myself quite useless in Indonesia since I could not find the job I wanted and good salary which I could partially give back to my parents. So, I braved myself to go to Singapore to find a job. My savings then was only enough to buy a one way ticket to Singapore and cover my basic living costs for a month. I had no idea on how to pay my air ticket back to Indonesia if I was unable to secure a job within a month or so. I lived with some new helpful Indonesian friends in Singapore during my stay there. No rent was paid but I shared with them their utilities bills. In the end, I got my first job after staying in Singapore for 40 days. God was good.

I worked in Singapore as Conference Producer for almost 4 years. Every time, I told myself that I wanted to quit the Conference industry because it's so stressful and hectic but I never actually did. After resigning from my first job, I moved to another job with the pretty much same role as the previous one. Until now, I guess I can't be too far from Conference industry. On the bright side, this job has given me the opportunities to travel to some big cities in Asia and meet a lot of great people along the way. I am grateful for this.

I took some on and off Mandarin lessons since I was small and had two compulsory semesters in Business Mandarin during my university years. I used to be able to read, remember and write in Mandarin very well but could not speak in proper Mandarin intonation. Like any other Chinese Indonesians bred in Java, some of our Mandarin has Javanese accent and I think other Chinese in other parts of the world may encounter some difficulties in fully understanding us.

After I married my husband, I moved to Malaysia in early of 2011. After almost a year being forced in a Mandarin speaking environment, I can converse in Mandarin now. My Mandarin is not so fantastic yet but at least now I can communicate with my husband, Mom-in-Law, some aunties, nephews and nieces in Mandarin. My Cantonese still revolves around "Lei Hou Mou?", "Fei Gei Ciong" and "Lei Meng Bak Mou?"

I can't really drink alcohol and do not gamble nor smoke. I am proud of this lifestyle of mine.

I hate noise and loud music so I don't do clubbing, partying and such.

I am not a daredevil. I have acrophobia. Even the smallest roller coaster freaks me out.

I am not a sporty girl. Do not expect too much from me on sport activities invitations. Once upon a time in Singapore, I put up with my vigorous swimming regime for almost one year because I desperately wanted to shed some weights. 

I used to be a shopping addict when I was in Singapore. My weakness points were sweet little dresses, cosmetics and body care products.

I like boy bands and hate rock music to the core. My first cassette I ever bought was Michael Bolton's album. I think I was too young for his songs but not sure why I bought his album, to begin with. When I was in my first year of junior high school, I bought Backstreet Boys’ first album and claimed that as my first song album ever purchased as I was too embarrassed with Michael Bolton's. My sister used to tease me a lot about this.

I tried to be a vegetarian when I was in the final year of high school but it only lasted for three months. My Dad disliked me being a vegetarian and thought I just joined some weird cult with my friends. Moreover, I became very moody and emotionally tortured because I could not eat all the meaty stuff that I liked. In short, I quit it and told myself that every diet is healthy as long as I eat in moderation.

Technically, I have lived away from my family since I was 17. 

I was a temperamental teenager (but thankfully, not that rebellious kind) and I guess am a temperamental wife too. *Pity my husband*

I have soft spots on old folks so I am extra patient and gentle to my Grandmas and other old people above 65 years old.

I fell in love with baking when I was 12. I keep it as a hobby.

I am green fanatic. I am passionate with anything in green colour. Not green snakes, please.

I hate ginger when cooked as dishes.

I hate white radish. Its smell makes me want to vomit.

I do not really like driving that much. One of the reasons that I chose Singapore to live was its established public transports.

I used to read a lot. I read novels. I have hundreds of Japanese manga which my parents bought for me when I was teenager. Now, I read once in a blue moon. I surf the net.

I don't really keep pets. I am not quite a pet lover. I had three dogs before. I loved them when they were puppies but was afraid of them when they became dogs. But I am confident that I can manage to keep some fish in aquarium.

Hmm, what else?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making Sugar Cookies

Christmas is coming real soon! I have been itchy to bake something festive to celebrate Christmas. In fact, I have longed to bake really cute Christmas cookies with Christmas tree, snow man, star shapes. Too bad, I do not have any Christmas cookie moulds and thought of not wasting my money on them since I already have some cookies cutter which I have yet to utilize at all.

This afternoon, I let my husband to pick something that he wanted me to bake today. My husband randomly chose Shortbread Cookies recipe from the internet and I followed his choice. Since I had a burning desire to decorate cookies in pretty manner by using royal icing, I skipped the chocolate dip idea as per advised in this Shortbread Cookies original recipe and made some royal icing instead.

Here's the slightly modified egg-less Sugar Cookies recipe that I used today.

My first trial of decorating cookies with royal icing after so long. 

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 260 gr Flour
  • 1 tbsp Milk Powder
  • 220 gr Margarine or softened unsalted butter
  • 60 gr Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Royal Icing:

  • 1 Egg White
  • 150 gr Icing Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Tutorial:

  1. Mix together the flour and milk powder in a dry container. Set aside.
  2. Cream margarine, vanilla essence and icing sugar until white using high-speed electric mixer.
  3. Fold in the flour and milk powder into the margarine mixture by using spatula. 
  4. Wrap the cookie dough in a plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for about one hour.
  5. Mould the chilled cookies dough into desired shapes and bake the cookies in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Bear in mind these three tips in baking cookies so you'd have perfect looking cookies.
  6. Let the cookies to completely cool before decorating them with royal icing or chocolate dip.
  7. To make royal icing: Combine egg white, lemon juice and vanilla essence in a large bowl. Beat them together by using high-speed mixer whilst slowly adding the icing sugar. Keep beating it until the mixture forms soft peaks and ready for piping. Add some food colouring or when necessary. I added some strawberry essence and pink food colouring into my royal icing today.
  8. Happy decorating the cookies. Let the royal icing on the cookies dry and set a firm glaze before storing the decorated cookies in an air-tight plastic container.

If you do not plan to make any royal icing or chocolate dip for these sugar cookies or shortbread cookies, I suggest you add a bit more icing sugar into the basic shortbread cookies recipe above to make the cookies tastier.

I remember I once made sugar cookies and sold them 
at my Mom's Saloon during Christmas about ten years ago. Sweet memory!

In conclusion, for a beginner baker like me, decorating cookies is indeed a fun yet stressful episode. It was stressful mainly because I could not produce the nice decorated cookies that I pictured in my mind. Anyway, although decorating cookies one by one took a really long time to finish, overall, I had a good time baking and decorating the cookies today.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Blood Test and Liberation

My husband and I just came back from seeing a local gynaecologist and she did the pre-marital/pre-natal blood test on me after she explained about the blood screening test for pregnancy and its purposes. I was quite surprised that this test turned out to be quite cheap as compared to what I heard in Indonesia. I think pre-marital blood tests in Indonesia can easily cost us about RM 500 to RM 700. The pre-marital blood test (for the woman only) that I did just now cost RM 160 and I will get the results in two weeks from today.

The bad news is the blood test was a little bit painful. I didn't dare to look at the process when the doctor drew the blood out of my right forearm. On our way back home, I kept on whining to my husband about how painful and swollen my right forearm had become following the doctor's blood test, just like a six y/o. Then, only I realized that after I accidentally peeled the plaster out of the spot where the doctor hit me with the needle, the needle's mark on my forearm is smaller than a mosquito bite.

Moving on, the good news is the doctor told my husband and me to stop sweating about all the TTC theories that we know for the time being. Yes, she mentioned that both husband and I should refrain ourselves from all the (peer) pressures and stress that we currently face in conceiving a baby. They are not important and rather meaningless. In short, they don't do any good on us. Moreover, I reckon old folks generally won't quit their ways in pressuring their married kids to make babies even after the first child is born. I picture that after the first baby eventually pops out, their next burning question on us would be, "When are you giving a brother or sister to your kid?". Ha!

Back to TTC topic, doctor said that at this stage, it is not important for my husband and I to do any serious fertility tests that may discourage us even more since we both are still young and only recently got married. Best if I do not bother about all the old wives' tale and stories that I heard or the articles that I ever read about TTC. The super part is that I can even forget about charting my ovulation calendar at all. Yes, I can cease marking and calculating everything on the calendar because it merely ruins the good mood. The doctor's last advice for us was to take everything easy and just enjoy the TTC process.

What a HUGE relief! My husband and I can forget that we are, in fact, TTC-ing and stop pulling each other's hair about all the TTC stuff. Quit being a too serious couple and hopefully, we'll get a baby when the time is right.

And I shall listen to you, doc.

My head now is so much lighter than 4 hours ago and I can smile again like this!

My head feels so much lighter now! Whoa!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

About Having A Child

In the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I purposely delayed the plan to have a baby. Why? Firstly, my husband and I had not had our customary wedding celebrations just yet. The best customary wedding date chosen by the 'Smart Person' in the Temple was like more than a year after our marriage registration date. Super long, I know. Hence, we thought it's not cool if the bride showed a protruding tummy during the wedding dinner. Everyone would sure tend to look at and talk about her tummy instead of her pretty face after more than two hours long make-up session. So, baby comes later.

My latest one-month-old niece, Zhi Thong, is modelling for me here. 
For the first time.

Secondly, I think I was not mentally ready to handle children as yet. Seriously, you can't undo kids! Once you pop them out, you got to deal with and be responsible of them forever. After witnessing some real-life experiences in living with babies and toddlers in Malaysia, I came to realize that kids are indeed real handful and require a lot of energy, patience and money from the parents. I can confidently say that there are major differences in playing with kids for short moments and living with or taking care of them 24/7. I have no doubt that kids bring happiness and joy but do not forget that they also cry, whine, scream, talk, fight, sing, throw tantrums, yell and jump (a lot) non-stop, every single day. For instance, small daily routines like eating could be a big prolonged drama (times three) when we need to feed children. I have seen kids who really get into their parents' nerves when they're not behaving or too active. Stressful!

Lastly, I held a strong belief that a kid may break or make a marriage especially when the relationship was still anew. Since my husband and I somehow dated rather briefly and only got married not long ago, I thought we both need some time alone to get to know each other better (especially since we live under the same roof now). I figured that there'd be lesser or even no more privacy when there is a child around us. A third 'little' person who would require massive attentions from both of us may not do well on our marriage as yet. Thus, I always felt that I was not ready to become a parent.

However, few months ago, I saw a friend wrote something really good about entering the world of parenting on his Facebook's wall. His line struck me hard and turned my old belief about having kids upside down. He wrote: "If everyone waited until they were ready to become a parent then no one would have children. It's a learning process, you learn as you go". It's so true. No one is ever 100% ready to become a parent, so just live it. Children are blessings from above so cherish them, if you have them.

Speaking of becoming parents, now that my husband and I are done with all the wedding things, we have decided that we should try for a baby. Albeit I'd always have the feeling that I am never ready for one as baby is a huge responsibility but I reckon it's neither good nor healthy if we keep on delaying on making babies. 

In brief, my husband and I have tried making baby naturally for about 4-5 months by now, but sadly, we still got no luck with conceiving one. It seems like making baby is not as easy as we think. It's very seldom that after mere one month of trying, we could spread the good news to everyone that we finally carry a baby in our tummy. I have personally seen gynecologist, applied the 'ovulation' calendar methods religiously, taken pre-pregnancy vitamins on daily basis, consumed the funky tasting Chinese traditional medicines regularly, read a lot of pregnancy articles in the internet and asked for friends' advice but no baby dust for me thus far. 

In the past few months, I can really share the burden of those couples who are so eager to have babies but are unable to conceive yet. This sort of pressure was so imaginary until I finally am trying for one but no result up until now. A lot of people console me by saying that's it's only been few months of trying, it's normal, but these whole baby making ordeals are kind of disheartening. Furthermore, I also face other pressures of getting pregnant from you-might-know-who that make me more frustrated about the TTC (Trying to Conceive) stuff.  

Take my word, the more a woman is obsessed with getting pregnant, the more she feels like she is pregnant (though she is not yet) and trust me, this sucks! I am not sure if some of you, married women out there, who are trying to conceive, encounter the following "TTC Obsession" symptoms, but I do. 

  • I have developed high interests on articles, tweets or discussions that are about pregnancy topics. I think if you throw me a pop quiz about the top 10 common pregnancy symptoms, I can roughly mention 10 of them just about right. Thanks to my heavy reading on procreation as if I was going to have a biology exam on human conception chapter every other day.
  • I feel that the function of calendar nowadays is more important than ever. Yes, charting and following the ovulation calendar is a serious business for me now.
  • I dread of yet look forward to the coming of my next period at the same time. I always can’t wait to find out whether I am going to be 'late' or not. I tell you, the Two-Week-Wait (after ovulation) period is overwhelming for me. I try to forget about it but it somehow lingers around my mind.
  • I am sucked into the whirlpool of sadness when I finally get my period. I am very upset and sulk (especially on the first day) when Aunt Flo visits me.
  • I shamelessly keep ready stock of pregnancy test-packs at home. There are some mornings when I use them because I get the false alarm, or in other words, suddenly ‘feel’ like already pregnant. I feel that keeping a good stock of pregnancy test-packs at home is as important as keeping stock of shampoos, body shower gels and the like. So embarrassing.
  • To some extent, I envy those random pregnant women or those parents with cute babies, whenever I see them. I honestly do not hate them at all and really hope this crazy 'envy' emotion lasts temporarily. 
  • find it intimidating when I have to go to or pass by baby shops or departments in a mall/supermarket.

There are probably more weird symptoms that I grew in relations with TTC obsessions but I can’t really remember or describe all of them in words now. All I can say, some nice supports and fewer pressures from our loved ones are critical and much appreciated when a woman is going through a TTC phase, as it isn’t easy.

Okay, stop with the rants now. I guess I must quit this baby/child-bearing/pregnancy frenzy immediately and move on with my life. I have a husband to take care of, work to do and obviously, a blog to maintain. Also, like my husband says, just take it easy. There's always a time for everything. The more I get too stressed out about being pregnant; it would not be any easier for me to get there either. Anyhow, after some heart-to-heart discussions with some friends who have babies, actually I think that life without baby is not that bad either. 

Relax, enjoy, pray and keep trying.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Announcement: Two Winners of the Christmas Giveaway

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my Christmas Giveaway.

So here's the good news. Last night was the cut off date of participating at my Christmas Giveaway and this said, I have now got the (2) winners names.

The baking books ready to be mailed to the winners!

I used a random number generator to pick the two (2) lucky winners of the baking books as your Christmas presents from me this year. And the baking books go to:

Comment no. 6 - Abraham Lapuz from Singapore! Abraham plans to give this book to his wife so she can learn baking on her own! Sweet, huh?

Comment no. 14 - Lily from Indonesia! Lily intends to try new recipes from the book!

Congratulations to the winners and hope you two enjoy the baking book that I chose for you.

To the giveaway winners: Please get in touch with me via Facebook, twitter or this blog post's comment page within 48 hours to let me know your email addresses so you can tell me your mailing address in private.

And to those who have entered this giveaway but did not win, please do not be too disappointed. Who knows I will be hosting more giveaways in the near future? I look forward to seeing your wonderful entries again.

[Update on 14 December 2011]

As one winner did not claim the prize within 48 hours since my announcement, I had to select another winner randomly again. This time around, the lucky winner would be the person who left comment no. 10!


Comment no. 10 - Jamie from Penang, Malaysia! Just like me, Jamie is an amateur baker too at home. Congrats, Jamie! Please do contact me within 48 hours on your mailing address.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


P/S: Do subscribe to my blog to make sure you get updates from my blog and know about other giveaways that I might be running in the future!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top 5 Sumptuous Food in Seremban I Like the Most

When it comes to local food of Seremban, the place where I currently reside with my husband since almost a year ago, it is generally famous for its crabs and Siew Pao (baked barbecued pork bun). I love them too but I usually consume those foods bi-annually. Reason being, the first one is rather expensive so we only eat Seremban's giant meaty crabs when there are special guests visiting us in Seremban. The latter one is cheap and nice but I think I had enough of Siew Pao when my status here was a new visitor to Seremban instead of a permanent resident of Seremban. These days, I am not too crazy about Siew Pao anymore though I can still eat them when someone in the house happens to buy them.

As you may have learned, I have a pretty established reputation as a fussy eater (thus, a pain in the neck to my husband when he needs to feed me in Malaysia). Food that I don't like after first few bites, I refuse to eat (forever!).

After testing a lot of famous local food from hawkers or restaurants in Seremban in the past two and half years or so - I have come to a conclusion that seemingly, there are only several food from Seremban that really impressed me by far. Here are the samples of few of Seremban's food that managed to pave their ways in making me constantly crave for them. This means I could eat them almost on weekly basis.

1. Beef Noodle from stall No. 742 in Pasar Besar

The very first time my then-boyfriend/now-husband introduced Seremban Beef Noodle in Pasar Besar, I was not so deeply dazzled. Back then, I kept a strong good faith that Singapore's Hock Lam Beef Noodle in Boat Quay was the best of the best.

My husband usually orders either Sugar Cane Drink or 
Young Coconut Drink when we eat Beef Noodle.

However, after my second and third visits to stall no.742 in Pasar Besar, I came to a full realization that their Beef Noodle is indeed really flavorful and distinguished. Everything is prepared in perfect composition, even its hot soup. The aroma of their Beef Noodle is amazingly strong and addictive. Last week when I ate this Beef Noodle for lunch, I told my husband that I could inhale the Beef Noodle's aroma deep into my lung as if I inhale fresh mountain air. No kidding. Their Beef Noodle smells and tastes super good.

Beef Noodle stall no. 742 in Pasar Besar, Seremban.

In Seremban alone, I have tried eating other Beef Noodles from different stalls, even the expensive ones sold by much cozier eateries. However, in my opinion, theirs are still pale in comparison from Pasar Besar stall no. 742's Beef Noodle. One drawback from my favorite Beef Noodle stall in Pasar Besar is probably their location. The food court on top of Seremban Pasar Besar is neither so clean nor hygienic, I must say. Nonetheless, my husband and I still eat this Beef Noodle at least twice a month.

2. Laksa Asia in Rahang area

I had Seremban's Laksa for the first time during my virgin trip to Malaysia. The Laksa that I once ate back in 2009 was apparently from the famous Laksa Asia Restaurant in Seremban.

Full house Laksa Asia Restaurant in Seremban.

Ever since I had my first Laksa Asia, although there are always long queues in this restaurant, I am not so keen in testing other Laksa from different restaurants in Seremban. What is unique from this restaurant's Laksa is probably their not-so-oily yet still very tasty Laksa.

The very first bowl of Asia Laksa that I ate back in 2009.

These days, when I order my Laksa from this restaurant, I specifically ask the seller to tailor it into bee hoon (vermicelli) Laksa, without chicken (which means they'd give you sliced sweetened pork instead) and no siham or shell fish (as their half cook shell fish and tastes more like blood to me).

My specially tailored Laksa: Bee Hoon Laksa with pork and without shell fish.

My husband and I usually treat ourselves with this Laksa breakfast almost once in every week.

3. Hakka Yong Tau Foo 

What I love most from Hakka Yong Tau Foo in Seremban (or perhaps in other parts of Malaysia) is the sweet dip sauce and the varied selection of food items (i.e. stuffed tofu, fish balls, bitter gourds, egg plants, etc) when eaten with my favorite dry bee hon. Sometimes when there's no sweet dip available, I do not mind eating my Yong Tau Foo with light soy sauce which is mixed with sliced bird's eye chilies.

A serving of Yong Tau Foo with Dry Bee Hoon in Seremban.

Speaking of Yong Tau Foo, I miss Singapore's style Yong Tau Foo with its spicy, sweet and sour red sauce generously poured all over the dry plain bee hoon and other boiled ingredients. Yum!


4. Italian Pizza from Oakland area

Seremban's Italian Pizza is probably the most expensive treat that I have to pay when I suffer from occasional severe Italian or western food craving. I love the thin pizza crusts from this Italian Pizza Restaurant.

Milan Pizza.

Not sure of the name of this Pizza.

 Not sure of the name of this Pizza.

In addition, their Mushroom Alfredo Spaghetti is indeed to die for.

Mushroom Alfredo Spaghetti.

As much as I want to eat these Italian food as frequent as possible, my bank account gently reminds me to hold off and think again. Yes, eating for two at this restaurant can easily cost us RM 50 or more (please do not convert this to SGD or USD) although maybe this is the normal market price for Italian food in Malaysia or particularly in Seremban.

**I am not sponsored by this Italian Pizza Restaurant to post a lot of photos of their products here. I don't know why but I somehow have a lot of their pizza photos from our previous dinners there**

5. Ah Sui's Bak Kut Teh from Lukut

I thought I would never eat pork since I never fancy eating pork, especially its belly. However, when my husband introduced me the Bak Kut Teh from Lukut, possibly the first Bak Kut Teh I ever ate in my whole life, I told myself that this dish actually not bad at all and I could take it. I slowly learned to accept the strong herbal taste from Bak Kut Teh soup and nowadays, I am completely fine with eating Bak Kut Teh (lean meat only) and do not mind enjoying it frequently.

Dry and Soup Bak Kut Teh in Lukut.

I have tried eating Bak Kut Teh from several stalls in Seremban but I feel that this Lukut Bak Kut Teh is still the best of all. Other stalls may not give enough ingredients like veggies and tofu onto the dish or put too much herbs which make the soup a bit bitter to be eaten with steamed rice.

The above are some of the good food that I tend to miss when I am overseas. Although there are definitely other good food in Seremban but I might not know all of them just yet or the rests are normally eaten less frequent than the above mentioned dishes due to various reasons.

If you happen to know some recommended local food that I should try in Seremban, do let me know!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Lemon Cake

Today is a lazy Sunday and I thought of utilizing the last few hours of my precious Sunday afternoon with baking a cake (Oh no! Tomorrow is Monday!). Initially I intended to bake a cake for my husband's afternoon tea companion but seemingly my impromptu baking processes took few hours in preparation, hence, I only managed to finish making the whole lemon cake and frosting just right before the dinner time.

Anyway, I have been craving for some lemony cake these past few days. What a coincidence that my Mom-in-Law kept fresh lemons in the fridge, so without further ado, I quickly browsed some lemon cake recipes in the internet. I chose the simplest lemon cake recipe I found in the net, made small modifications on the ingredients and started baking.

So here's the delicious (and fail-proof) lemon cake recipe that I used today. Trust me, this cake tastes nice and the lemon aroma from the cake smells wondrous. Everybody in the house seemed to give positive comments about my lemon cake.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting.

Lemon Cake


Ingredients:

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 100gr Fine granulated sugar
  • 35gr Corn starch
  • 100gr Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder
  • 3 tbsp Fresh lemon juice
  • Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 75gr melted butter
  • Vanilla essence

For lemon frosting (optional):

  • 35gr Butter
  • 35gr Vegetable shortening
  • 150gr Icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp Fresh lemon juice


Tutorials:

  1. Preheat the oven. Cream the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence by using high-speed mixer until stiff.
  2. Fold in corn starch, flour and baking powder into the mixture of sugar and eggs by using spatula. Mix well.
  3. Add in the lemon juice and grated lemon rind into the cake batter.
  4. Pour and slowly mix the melted butter into the cake batter by using spatula.
  5. Pour the cake batter into a cake pan which is already lined with baking paper.
  6. Bake the cake in a preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes until golden brown.
  7. To make the frosting: Cream together the butter, vegetable shortening, icing and lemon juice with high-speed mixer until it reaches the desired spreading consistency. Decorate the completely cooled lemon cake with this frosting.
If you wish to bake delicious lemon cake similar to the one that I made today, perhaps it's a good idea to refer to the baking book that I am giving away for Christmas. This book features citrusy cakes recipes plus other delicious cakes, cookies, muffins and breads recipes, to name a few.

The books for lucky readers.

Just to remind you, it's just 1 WEEK TO GO TO JOIN THE CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY from the Wanderer's Journal. Yes, you all still have the opportunity to win TWO (2) BAKING RECIPE BOOKS containing 100 everyday baking recipes. If you have not entered it, do it quickly to stand a chance to win these books! Click HERE to find out more on how to participate in this giveaway. It's super easy, simple and won't take much of your time.

This Christmas Giveaway contest ends on Sunday, 11 December 2011 (11.59pm, Malaysia time). Hurry up! And oh, don't forget to tell your friends, family, colleagues or basically everybody you know who lives in Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia to join this Christmas Giveaway contest too. The more participants joining this contest, the merrier!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Last Indonesia Trip for 2011

This year, I have been fortunate enough to have the chance to go back to my hometown in Indonesia more often than usual - thanks to my Indonesia's wedding celebration. Normally, I visit my family in Indonesia some time at mid year and end of the year (for Christmas and New Year). Sadly, I might have to skip celebrating Christmas 2011 and New Year 2012 with my family in Indonesia this December because I just came back from Indonesia last Thursday. I had to go back to Indonesia in November for my sister's wedding.

15 November 2011: My Mom and Jennifer picked us up at Juanda Airport, Surabaya.
**Photo credits by Supin**

I found my latest trip to Indonesia was kind of relaxing. I also appreciate the fact that I managed to spend a lot of quality time with family, relatives and some old friends during my nine holidays back home. My husband and I also got the chance to stay in Surabaya longer than usual because my sister's wedding was held in Surabaya.

Before my sister's wedding commenced, my husband and I didn't have much thing to do at home. As my husband and I had sort of visited most of the places of interest around Malang; thus, my Mom suggested us visit the sacred Gunung Kawi just for fun. My parents were busy then, so my husband and I went to Gunung Kawi with my uncle and aunt instead.

17 November 2011: The quiet Gunung Kawi on week days.

My uncle ordered the must-have Nasi Gunung Kawi for our lunch, not for offerings.

The famous Nasi Gunung Kawi, which I didn't really fancy. 

A couple days later, it was the time for my sister's wedding day in Surabaya and we all stayed overnight in Surabaya. Geez, I woke up before 6am to do my make-up and hair at the salon - Way, way earlier than my own wedding's salon appointment in Malang last July.

20 November 2011: My husband and I at the Church 
where my sister had her holy matrimony.

 Me with my parents. All dressed up.

Little Jennifer, dressed like a Princess, for my sister's wedding dinner.
**Photo credits by Supin**

The short reunion of three cousins from Jakarta, Malaysia and Malang.

 I finally met my cousin from Jakarta, again. 
Lucky enough to see her twice this year. 
Or maybe three, if  I can see her in Malaysia at the end of this month.

 
Band of cousins. 
**Photo credits by Fandy**

Posing with my most animated cousin, Rendy, during the wedding dinner.
**Photo credits by Fandy**

On the next day, I was very happy to see my BFF again, Lily. Believe it or not, we are friends since we were babies! She now lives in Surabaya with her husband and it's very kind of her to drive to our rent apartment right before we left Surabaya. We had a brief face-to-face catch up for mere thirty minutes then. It's definitely not enough but better than nothing.

21 November 2011: Lily and I. Pardon my swollen panda eyes. 
Because of my under-eye circles, Lily thought I had not showered that morning but I actually had.

On our way back to Malang, my uncle treated us the famous Kupang Lontong in Tretes. As usual, I have done my glorious culinary tour rituals in Malang but I guess this Kupang Lontong was the culinary highlight of my last trip in Indonesia since I had not eaten this food for ages. It's not easy to find sellers who can make really nice Kupang Lontong, a traditional food from East Java. This is indeed a delicious food for Indonesians but foreigners may find this food rather strange and difficult to eat. My Malaysian husband had a hard time accepting this food into his system but I totally understood his problems eating this food.

 21 November 2011: A plate of Kupang Lontong! Care for one?

Sate Kerang or Shell Fish Satay: Kupang Lontong's best friend.

In spite of the cloudy weather, from our car, we spotted the below pretty nice views of some suburb area we passed by on our way from Surabaya to Malang.

 Cloudy football field.

Although the paddy fields that we spotted were nothing compared to the ones we once saw in Sekinchan, my Mom was most impressed with the paddy plants which looked like a moving green carpet when constantly blown by the heavy wind.

The green carpet look-alike paddy field.

And you know what? After the Surabaya trip, my husband and I didn't do much things until our lazy time in Malang was up. I enjoyed the feeling of doing nothing at home, optimizing my time in playing around with my niece, Jennifer. And seriously, I think both husband and I had too much 'me-time' in Malang until we did not know what to do with ourselves anymore. I knew for sure that my husband was bored to the bone in my hometown. Pity him!

24 November 2011: Meet the cutest and smartest toddler! 
My niece, Jennifer, who is almost 3 y/o. 
She talks, sings and screams a lot now. 

Anyway, now I am back to the routine reality again in Malaysia. It's only been slightly more than a week since my last trip to my hometown, but I miss it already. I miss Jennifer!