Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Dylan!

It's almost Christmas time and I have not forgotten you. Here's sending you a Christmas card to heaven.

Merry Christmas, angel baby!

Dear Dylan,

You left behind such an indescribable heartache when you flew away but rest assured, the memory and love you left behind will forever shine on. 

Merry Christmas, son.

May the brightest star of this Christmas be yours.

Do have a real good Christmas celebration with the other angels up there tomorrow.

Missing you at Christmas and always.

Your mother.

131 days and counting.

Making Christmas Sugar Cookies

It's beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas because I've finally baked some Christmas cookies yesterday. Yep, I only started baking on Christmas Day minus 2! I spent considerably long time to bake the cookies yesterday because I had to cut the cookies and bake them in two batches at two different times in a day as my Little Miss was making noises halfway into my baking ventures.

Have you baked any cookies this Christmas?

Anyway, here's the modified recipe that I use to make the cut-out butter cookies yesterday. These butter cookies are very easy to make, taste great and are not too sugary - just nice to balance the sugar icing on top. I adapted the recipe from here.

Christmas stars, shining so bright green on me.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups Flour, sifted 
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 stick Butter, unsalted and in room temperature
  • 1 cup Icing sugar or fine granulated sugar
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp Almond essence, optional
  • 1 tbs Milk
  • More flour for rolling out the dough

Tutorial:
  1. Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside.
  2. Cream butter and icing sugar by using high-speed electric mixer until the butter is light in colour.
  3. Add egg, vanilla and almond essences and milk. Beat to combine.
  4. Gradually fold the flour into the mixture by using spatula until the dough is incorporated and doesn't stick to the bowl.
  5. Chill the dough in the fridge for 15 or 30 mins.
  6. Sprinkle your working surface and rolling pin with some flour before rolling out the dough (to 1/4 inch thickness) and cutting it into the shapes you desire. If the cookies become too warm during rolling, place them in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill.
  7. Once cut, place the cookies at least once inch apart on baking trays that are already lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven (170 degree Celcius) for about 9-10 minutes or until the cookies are just beginning to turn brown on the edges
  9. Sit the cookies on the baking sheet for few minutes after removing them from the oven then completely cool the cookies before icing their tops.

Cookies, anyone?

For the sugar icing of my Christmas cookies, I've made up my mind not to use royal icing (although its final look on cookies is so wonderful) because the raw egg whites on royal icing may not be safe for kids or other adults with compromised immune system. I can't find meringue powder and was not sure if the eggs I keep at home are pasteurized either. As such, after gathering few recipes online, I've decided to use the below recipe for the simple cookies icing.

Merry Christmas!

Easy Cookies Icing/Frosting

Ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tbs Vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp Light corn syrup (for the glossy effect), optional**
  • 3-4 tbs Liquid milk, at room temperature
  • Food colouring

Tutorial:
  1. Mix the icing sugar, milk, corn syrup and vanilla extract by using electric mixer.
  2. Beat the icing until you reach the perfect spreading consistency. If the icing is too thick, add more milk or syrup.
  3. Divide the icing into separate bowls and add in the food colouring as desired.
  4. Place the cookies on piping bag for icing. Make sure the cookies are not hot when frosting them. Start outlining the cookies with icing, before flooding them.
  5. Allow the icing on cookies set for 2-3 hours or until it is completely harden before storing them in air-tight containers.

By the way, I added few drops of almond essence on my icing yesterday and kind of regretted with the final taste afterwards. Vanilla essence or lemon juice should have done the job well for this. As such, I omitted almond essence from the above recipe for better results.
** I didn't have any corn syrup at home so I substituted this particular ingredient by boiling 1 tsp of granulated sugar with 1 and 1/2 of water. I just boiled these two together on a small fire until they are well mixed without turning the mixture into caramel.

Long processes, I know! But making decorated sugar cookies does take time and energy and that's why they are so special. But you will surely enjoy making them especially during this festive season. After all, Christmas only comes once in a year, aye?

Happy holiday and don't forget to stand a chance to win yourself some belated Christmas presents by joining this giveaway! This contest ends this weekend so hurry up! It's now or never.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Weekend Before Christmas

This weekend is the weekend before Christmas and I am feeling really ordinary. We've put up a new Christmas tree in the living room since early December to get the Christmasy feeling in the house but other than that I haven't really prepared much for Christmas. It's already December 21st and I haven't done any Christmas baking either. Both my husband and I were busy with our daily life and work as per normal. Nothing special happened in the past couple of weeks as if Christmas mood had not sunken in. A side effect of not going back to Indonesia for Christmas holiday perhaps? Nevertheless, I am still looking forward to the actual Christmas Day next Thursday because my husband and I plan to have a small Christmas gathering with some friends here.

Decorating the new Christmas Tree.

On last Friday evening, my husband texted me, asking if I had a special plan for the last couple weekends of 2014. I replied him with one syllable "Oh." While I thought my husband would plan something kinda special this weekend, like a Christmas shopping in the malls and such, he suddenly fell ill on Saturday morning. This said, we mostly just stayed at home yesterday, ate porridge and didn't even dine out for our nice weekend meals. Bummer to the max.

Anyhow, I would say the biggest highlight of this weekend is Naomi's first children Christmas celebration with her Sunday School teachers and fellows this morning (although we didn't join the celebration until the end as Naomi was acting cranky and naughty about an hour and a half into the celebration). Here's the detailed events.

The Christmas celebration in the church this morning started soon after the Sunday Service concluded. Before the celebration commenced, the thoughtful Sunday School teachers gave a pack of Milo and a piece of sausage bread to each participating kids so they wouldn't be hungry during the party. Not long after Naomi finished eating the sausage inside her first sausage bread, she passed the sausage-less (alias kosong) bread to her Dad and ran to the back of the Sunday School area asking for more bread. Obviously, she wanted to eat more sausages and the Sunday School teacher had to oblige to her demand. So yeah, while each kid had a piece of bread, my child had two.

Sing and dance your heart out!

When the  Christmas celebration finally started, Naomi was quite okay and she enjoyed looking at the Sunday School teachers singing and dancing with the other kids. Next, Naomi who still cannot abide the general rules of sitting quietly in the school, ran to the stage and took the teacher's bag that was full of Santa Claus hats! Those hats were meant to be the rewards for the children who could answer the Christmas pop quiz. How embarrassing. In the end, the teacher gave Naomi one Santa Claus hat even though she didn't answer any Christmas quiz. Heck, Naomi can't even speak yet.

Santa Claus hat for Naomi.

Naomi's typical drama was officially launched when the bible lesson for the kids began. Naomi insisted to leave the room where the Christmas celebration was held and explored the area outside the room. It was so tiring to follow her running around here and there until this kiddo herself was sweating like a pig. My husband also complained to me that he started developing headache following his toddler running around non-stop like crazy.

After a while entertaining Naomi's exploration, I had enough and forcefully carried her back to the Christmas celebration's room. Who knew that when I just managed to sit down, the next thing announced during the Christmas celebration was children games held outside the room, in the area where Naomi released her energy just moments ago. Waa... waa.. waa..

With this, I thought of just waiting for the next session in the room with Naomi, my husband and other Sunday School teachers while other parents and kids were having fun outside. As expected, Naomi wanted to follow where the crowd went. I tried to hold her to stay put in the room and wait for the Christmas presents distribution which was going to be done at the end of the celebration (I was once young too and I knew the most delightful part of Christmas celebration during Sunday School was receiving the Christmas gift from the Sunday School teachers!).

Moving on, when an elderly lady saw me trying to hold Naomi who was kicking and screaming, she strongly advised me to just bring Naomi outside so she could mingle with the other kids. I was like "Yeah, but this girl still doesn't understand. She will just mess around." The lady said, "No lah, let her go.". I reluctantly said "OK, loh..." and brought Naomi outside.

Just seconds after I let Naomi go outside, she immediately dashed to the games area and grabbed some of the props that the other children were going to use for the games. I heard people collectively saying "No, no, no, no!" in the background. We tried hard to make Naomi put the props back to where they belonged so the games could continue smoothly. However, Naomi didn't want to let the props go and made a scene as if Mommy and Daddy were forcing her to drink bitter gourd juice or something. My husband couldn't take this stress any longer and he told me that we should go back home first.

Alas, I asked the Sunday School teachers to excuse the three of us to leave the Christmas celebration earlier. Before we left, the teacher handed my husband Naomi's pack of food, which was meant to be given away to the kids at the end of the Christmas celebration.

Naomi loves fried chicken!

An hour later, after we reached home, my friend texted me saying that Naomi's name was called during the Christmas gifts' distribution but too bad, we already went back home.

Oh well.

This is my weekend before Christmas.

By the way, speaking of Christmas presents, if you haven't gotten yours, why don't you try your luck at this Year End Giveaway? Who knows you might win yourself a belated Christmas present this year?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Year End Giveaway with Human Nature Malaysia

Not sure if you still recall but back in June, I did a review and giveaway on Human Nature's products. To briefly re-introduce Human Nature to you, Human Nature offers various chemical-free personal and kids care products at affordable price that are very safe for the whole family. Just so you know, Human Nature is built as a socially responsible enterprise and the products' ingredients they use are directly bought from Asia's poorest farmers at a fair price so the company can, in a way, help them get out of poverty. In essence, we are changing these farmers' lives too when we use Human Nature's products. You can read more about my previous Human Nature's products review here.

Anyway, since my first encounter with Human Nature's products, I was hooked and am pretty much attached to a couple of its products namely the strengthening shampoo and conditioner. After I finished my first bottles, I've become their repeat hair care products buyer.

When I noticed that Human Nature was doing a flash sale not long ago, I didn't want to miss my chance to replenish my shampoo stocks at a discounted rate, hence I bought myself my much needed shampoos. The team at Human Nature Malaysia was so kind and together with my shampoo purchases, they sent me some of their items for me to review. Not only that, they are also once again sponsoring some of their products for you, my readers! More on the giveaway later.

Another goodies from Human Nature Malaysia are in the house!

Before we move to the most exciting part of this blog post, let me show you the products that Human Nature sent me to try this time around.

Sunflower Cleansing Oil

Personally, I don't wear make-up every single day but I do wear make up on special occasions or when I need to look somewhat 'proper' in public such as when I attend events like weddings or birthday parties, go to church, explore the big malls in KL, do some sightseeing or date my husband. Sometimes, I put on some make up too when I feel like dressing up or simply want to feel good about myself.

Human Nature's Sunflower Cleansing Oil.

Usually before going to bed every night, my routine would involve applying facial toner and night cream on my face and then I'm all good for my slumber. However, that is not the case when there's make up on my face. If I come back home with some make up on, I'd definitely need to cleanse my face thoroughly with a make-up remover first before applying any toner or night cream; otherwise I'd feel so guilty if I sleep with my make up on.


Me camwhoring with the Cleansing Oil.

The Human Nature's Cleansing Oil that I tested works quite effectively in cleansing my make-up, even for my waterproof lipstick and eye liner. It only takes one time application of this cleansing oil to remove my entire make up (including the eyes and lips areas). As this product is non-emulsifying, after massaging for about 1 minute or so and wiping the oil off with one or two cotton pads, we will need to wash it off with our regular cleanser or facial wash. This is probably the only hassle that I find from this product as we can't just apply toner right after using this oil. This oil also has a pretty strong after-use smell if we don't clean it thoroughly with facial wash or toner. Another good thing about this product is that the oil won't turn milky like other cleansing oils in the market. 

Purifying Strawberry Facial Scrub

Do you know that I love pampering my face with face mask once or twice a week? Other than pampering my face with face masks and getting the benefits from them, I think it's very important to exfoliate my face twice or three times a week in place of my daily cleanser as part of my beauty regimen.

Human Nature's Purifying Facial Scrub.

Exfoliating our face with facial scrubs removes dead skin cells that can leave our complexion appearing dull and clog up our pores. Using facial scrub is indeed one of the easiest ways to get a happy and healthy skin.

That's me applying the facial scrub.

If you are looking for a gentle facial scrub with a mild fruity scent, I'd recommend you try Human Nature's Strawberry Facial Scrub. It is made with real strawberry seeds and bamboo granules that effectively exfoliate my face and leaves me with clean and soft feeling. The scrubs are not too harsh for my face and this product exfoliates my face without any irritation nor redness.

Berry Bliss Healthy Lotion

If you love putting on body lotion that smells yummy, Human Nature's Berry Bliss Lotion is the one for you.

 Human Nature's All Natural Healthy Lotion.

It's a great all-natural moisturiser that doesn't make your skin feel greasy after application. It's perfect to be used after shower or just massage them all over your feet, arms and hands as often as you want.

Skin feels great and smells yummy!

What I like best about this lotion is actually its mixed berry fragrance. It smells so delicious and sweet, almost like candy or rather fruity bubble gum scent. Too bad the lotion is meant for my skin instead of my mouth; else, I'd have eaten it already. Just joking.

Chamomile Feminine Wash

To all women out there - do you want to keep your intimate area fresh and clean all day long? If your answer is yes, then please don't forget to wear pantyliner (and change it regularly) and use feminine wash daily.

Human Nature's All Natural Feminine Wash.

Human Nature's Feminine Wash is pH balanced and naturally formulated so it is perfectly safe for sensitive skin. To keep any odour, itchiness, irritation or vaginal infections at bay, I myself tend to use feminine wash more religiously during menstruation and for my post-partum care. To me, Human Nature's feminine wash is almost odourless, slightly lathers and doesn't give any stinging feeling when used. I like it.

And finally! Ding... Ding.. Ding...!!!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Again, we would like you to enjoy the tremendous goodness of natural personal care products and in this regard, Human Nature Malaysia is delighted to sponsor some of their products for TWO (2) lucky blog readersYou can consider this as our Christmas and New Year presents! If you didn't win at the previous giveaway, this is your chance to try your luck one more time! 

PRIZES TO BE WON:

1st Prize: A bottle of 200ml All Natural Healthy Lotion (Berry Bliss or Blossom Beauty, you pick!) plus a product of your choice (choose from here, except the Overnight Elixir and bundle packs)

2nd Prize: A bottle of Purifying Strawberry Facial Scrub plus a product of your choice (choose from here, except the Overnight Elixir and bundle packs)

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
  1. LIKE The Wanderer's Journal's Facebook Page, if you have not already.
  2. SHARE this giveaway contest on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms.
  3. LEAVE A COMMENT below this blog post and tell me: Your name, city where you reside, email address and the Human Nature product of your choice that you would like to win.
This giveaway is open to readers in Malaysia only and ends on Tuesday, 30 December 2014. Two winners will be picked and contacted via email (and announced here in this blog post)! Please don't forget to state your email address in your comment so we can contact you if you win this contest.

Best of luck and here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015!

** P/S: Human Nature Malaysia reserves the right to determine the size of the products (of the winners' choices) to be given away


[UPDATE ON 1 JANUARY 2015]

Thank you for your support in joining this giveaway!

I am pleased to announce the two lucky winners of this giveaway:

1st Prize goes to Adeline Lim from Seremban

2nd Prize goes to Sheluth Nur from Kajang

Congratulations to you, ladies! An email to claim the prize has been sent to the respective winners. So winners, please try to respond to our email the soonest so Human Nature Malaysia can dispatch the goodies to you soon.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Making Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been more than two months since I last baked something and since today is TGIF, I spared two hours in late afternoon to bake some yummy soft chocolate chip cookies (go imagine Subway's cookies now!).

I guess a diabetic Christmas spirit got into me today; hence instead of baking small as I usually do, I baked a whole recipe of chocolate cookies. And holy sweet! Now I have two big jars of cookies sitting in my dining table.

Gooey chocolate chip cookies with cinnamon sensation.

Here's the recipe that I used for making my soft chocolate chip cookies.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 225gr Unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 150gr Fine granulated sugar
  • 150gr Fine brown sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Large egg + 2 Egg yolks
  • 350gr Flour (plus 1-3 tbs, if needed)
  • 1 tbs Corn starch
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 300gr Chocolate chips or chopped cooking chocolates

Tutorial:
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degree Celcius. I tried using the fan setting on my oven today.
  2. Sift together flour, corn starch, cinnamon powder and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat butter, vanilla extract and sugar until fluffy and pale using high speed electric mixer.
  4. Gradually add egg and egg yolks into the mixture and mix well.
  5. Fold the dry ingredients onto the butter mixture by using spatula until everything is well incorporated.
  6. Stir some chocolate chips or chopped cooking chocolates into the cookie dough. Reserve some chocolate chips for cookies' topping after baking.
  7. Create small drops of cookie dough using ice cream scoop or two spoons. Place them on lined baking trays. Make sure you give enough space for the 'dropped' cookie balls on the trays as they will spread once they hit the hot oven.
  8. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10-13 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Once the cookies are out of the oven, immediately place some reserved chocolate chips on top of them. The cookies will look kind of soft when they are fresh out of the oven but they will firm up on the outside and slightly gooey on the inside when cold.

Fancy some cookies?

I didn't have enough chocolate chips for my cookies today so I poured some chopped chocolates into the cookies dough. I think my cookies today tasted a tad too sweet because I used chopped chocolates more than the chocolate chips and didn't reduce the amount of sugar used in the cookies dough. Lesson learned, the next time I bake cookies again, I will use less sugar for my cookies dough when using lots of chopped chocolates.

Anyway, as I baked way too many cookies this evening, I gave some to my neighbour's kids for their sweet treats. I will do the same again to some other neighbours tomorrow; else my sugar level would hit the roof even before Christmas starts!

Oh, did I mention that Naomi was not napping when I was busy in the kitchen doing my cookies this afternoon? It was one chaotic baking session I tell you. Both hands well covered in cookie dough, big batch of cookie dough to bake, distracted mind, a mountain of dirty baking utensils in the sink plus clingy and whiny toddler, all at one time.