Kidsfest 2014 is coming! Book your tickets now!

And mark the dates!

SG_Kidsfest 2014 - Credit ABA Productions

Last Saturday, our family was invited to a sneak peek to Kidsfest 2014 and we had so much fun! Since its debut in 2012, Kidsfest has enjoyed tremendous success in Hong Kong and Singapore  and this popular festival is returning from 15 January to 9 February 2014 with nine international theatre productions adapted from best-selling children’s books.

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Faith was visibly disturbed by the sight of the friendly Henry VIII

Our family had a  ‘Meet & Greet’ session with Henry VIII from Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors and the Gruffalo’s Child from The Gruffalo’s Child and were treated to a wonderful drama and storytelling session that got both the adults and kids excited. Faith was a little too young to be involved but no worries, the mother carried her to join in the activities.

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Oh! What fun!

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The children were listening attentively to the story of The Gruffalo’s Child told by a brilliant storyteller. I was captivated myself.

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And the Graffulo’s child made a guest appearance. and had a good time of warming up to her audience.

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After the brief performances, we were treated to refreshment (oh, lovely cupcakes!) and hand-painting.

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Kidsfest will increase its family-tailored productions to nine and expands to two performing venues in 2014 – at DBS Arts Centre and Drama Centre Theatre. There will also be an introduction of KidsFest Plus (KidsFest+) – an exclusive backstage experience on scheduled dates for selected productions where fans can interact up close with the cast over an autograph or photo session. Isn’t that awesome?

Some of the shows that are suitable for kids aged 3 to 8 years old include:

:: Gruffalo. This charming production is adapted from the award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler Gruffalo's Child 1 - Credit ABA Productionsshowcases Mouse’s adventurous journey into the ‘deep dark wood’ and his encounter with the terrifying Gruffalo. Though the use of sheer wit, learn how the quick-thinking Mouse evades danger.

** KidsFest+: Photo Session with the cast on Wednesday, 22 January only.

:: The Gruffalo’s Child. Find out just how brave the Gruffalo’s Child is as she ventures into the ‘deep dark wood’ to find the ‘big bad mouse’, the one thing her father, The Gruffalo is afraid of. Good to watch if your kid is at school-going age. This is one of the texts used in the Primary Three English lessons.

** KidsFest+: Photo Session with the cast on Wednesday, 15 January only

:: Some other must-watch productions includes What the Lady Bird Heard, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Snow Dragon and Private Peaceful as they grace the local stage for the first time In 2014.

We Are Going On A Bear Hunt - Kenny Wax & Nick Brooke Productions

We Are Going On A Bear Hunt - Kenny Wax & Nick Brooke Productions

There are also shows catered for older kids aged 6 to 14 years old – Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors & Horrible Histories Awful Egyptians. 

Each production promises to be an adventure for the family; with catchy music, engaging scenes and even audience participation for some. There will also be surprises thrown in for the kids along the way. Do grab your tickets as they are on sale now and prices range from $35 to $62. Book them at any SISTIC outlet, official SISTIC website or call the hotline 6348 5555.

For full listing of productions and more information, check out KidsFest at http://www.kidsfest.com.sg/ and at the official Singapore Facebook page here.

Disclosure: We were invited to the media preview to KidsFest 2014No other compensation was received and all opinions are mine.

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Thankful Tuesday

How do you think your kid(s) will describe you as a mother?

Maybe you might think that they would say that you are fierce, naggy and at times unreasonable? At one stage, these adjectives crossed my mind when I thought of my mom but if I were to search my heart, my mom is the best for me, a super mommy who cares a lot for me.

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In this [almost] one year of being a mother, I have experienced ups and downs, joy and bitterness and no doubt, exhaustion. But I know I’m not alone in this journey. The group of mummies from BSF greatly encourages me especially when we shared about our struggles and then you realised that your situation is really not anything bad.

We are all thankful for the many lessons learnt from the study of Genesis and how God worked in each and every one of our lives. So much to be thankful for and it will continue to be a journey of faith, love and hope for us.

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Love gatherings with delicious homemade food

My contribution

My contribution – Lemon tartlets with Korean grapes and mint leaves

An encouraging video. It’s not mother’s day but still, it’s good to be encouraged.

A New Perspective For Moms from Elevation Church on Vimeo.

Shape Run 2013 with Capella’s ConyTM (S230T-13)

IMG_8525Faith and I participated in the Shape Run’s Stroller Fun Run and I must say this is perhaps the most ill-prepared run that I have had. Though it was a short distance, running with a fussy baby in a stroller could prove challenging.

The stroller fun run was postponed by 30 minutes which was a good move by the organiser since young children need their beauty sleep. Mabel, Cherie and I reached the site at around 7.15am from Crawford Street, skipped the security check (oops! loophole!) and waited for the rest of our ‘team’. The other categories had already commenced and we waited for ours to start. I was really praying that Faith would not be cranky as she didn’t have a good rest yesterday. Other than that, it was a great day for running though we were hoping that the weather could be cooler!

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Our group of mummies has been training for this run with the Capella ConyTM (S230T-13) strollers and finally this day has arrived! A group picture first before we start our engines! 😉

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Faith was crying her heart out during the photography session and refused to sit in the stroller. I had to resort to something which I don’t normally do – give her biscuits to pacify her. Oh well, perhaps she really was hungry and warm! It’s a hot day after all.

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The thoughtful organiser gave us colourful balloons to the mummies in a bid to distract the babies when we were running. Oh, I think we really need them! I’m not sure about the other kids but Faith sure looked happy with those balloons! And with that, we started the 2.4km fun run!

There wasn’t a lot of participants for this category and thus the space was wide enough for us which is good. For me, the only aimIMG_8557 was to quickly finish the run so that Faith won’t fuss in the stroller. From experience, Faith couldn’t last more than 2km in the stroller and would want to be carried after that. So, I tried to run jog as fast as my legs could carry me. Midway through, I felt incredibly thirsty and then I realised I didn’t bring water along and there’s no waterpoint for this category! Gosh! All the more, I need to get this run over and be done with.

Thankfully, Faith didn’t fuss! During the run, she turned her head and looked at me with a smile and the tired mom had to force a ‘hi!’ in return. The other mummies were encouraging and cheered one another on. That’s the spirit! The road was smooth and this made the run really enjoyable. The stroller was easy to manoeuvre and survived the run. Hurray!

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The run was over in about 15 minutes and I was exhausted! Must have been the heat. Overall, this was a pleasant experience and I really enjoyed running with the other mummies.

After the run, guess what we did?

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Guess what we are going to do?

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Taking selfie!

Taken by the selfie expert, Mabel!

Taken by the selfie expert, Mabel!

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Having loads of photography time

And Faith was visibly tired

And Faith was visibly tired

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We made it, baby!

With this, I completed another item on my to-do list! Check!

Till the next race!

Till the next race!

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From the first day I received the Capella ConyTM (S230T-13) stroller to the race day, the stroller has served us well. It has gone through rough handling (I’m not that dainty, you see) and a few hard knocks, travelled well on undulating terrains and granted us a few good training sessions. Though it is not a jogging stroller, it still provides a stable, secure and protected ride for Faith especially when we go jogging. A good all-rounded stroller, I must say.

Find out more information about Capella’s strollers via their facebook page.

Disclosure: I was gifted with one set of the Capella ConyTM S230T-13 Smart Travel System for the purposes of test and review. Registration fee  and transportation allowance for the Shape Run were provided for. No other compensation was received and all opinions are mine.

Photo credits: Amazingly Still & Capella Strollers Singapore

A ballerina on a fruitcake

Christmas is just a month away and it’s time to make those rich fruit cakes!

So I thought I should find test some recipes and the first one is this.

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[PSC] The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake

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Faith received ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ as her first few books and I have read the story to her since she was about 5 weeks old. I love the beautiful story and the artistic illustrations and went on to purchase the Touch and Feel Playbook for her. She loves the various textures found in the book and especially the mirror!IMG_5406

So, to celebrate her one month more to being a 1-year-old, I decided to make The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake for her. It is relatively easy but you would need time to do up the fruits and decoration.

I love the colourful ground as shown in the book; they will make nice cake border for my bottom tier. However, I think if the second tier has the same kind of border, it would be rather boring and too colourful and decided on the soil. The tool for making the colourful circles is just the base of a piping tip.

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The good thing about these fruits is that I just use free-hand to cut them out. No template whatsoever. Easy eh? Obviously, you would need a lot of colours for the fondant.

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Ice-cream cone

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This round tip is especially helpful. Both ends are utilised.

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So the fruits are done and left to be dried.

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For the soil, I use different shades of brown to create a more realistic feel. I’m not skillful enough to have it in one stripe and have to piece up different stripes. To make them look seamless at the joints, just dab a little shortening and massage on them.

IMG_8359Next up is the cake topper! Thankfully, the size of the caterpillar on the cover is just about right and I use it to make my version of the caterpillar. Since this needs to be really ‘solid’, I used 50% fondant and 50% gumpaste. However, I think I should just use solely gumpaste.

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Looks like an alien.

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IMG_8363Make space for the feelers

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To create the look on the cover, I combine white and green together.

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This will be about right.

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Pull out bits of them to make the segments and then glue them.

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I wanted to leave the colours as they are but I really prefer them painted and it really is a very therapeutic session.

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fruits

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Halve the circles to cover up any faults at the border.

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I got so excited throughout the process of making this cake design that I want to start a new project called Project StoryCake. Faith has inherited quite a few storybooks from her cousins and they have really cute pictures in them. I hope to make cake designs based on them.

My previous Project ‘While You Were Sleeping‘ has come to a completion since I have achieved my target of baking 20 items when Faith was asleep in the cot during my 4 months of maternity leave. So, let Project StoryCake begin!

Cake decorating basics

If you ask me, I’ll reply you in true honesty that I don’t like to work with sugarpaste/fondant or gumpaste. Fact is, these sugary stuff hates humidity and I happen to live in a tropical climate with high humidity so playing with them is a difficult, if not troublesome affair. The one way to counteract such difficulty is to work with them in an air-conditioned place but my humble home has only fans. So…

Despite that, I find myself more and more interested in making those beautiful cakes out of fondant. Each time when I browse the web for ideas, they never fail to attract me and I guess I will work against the odds to make fondant cakes.

To equip myself on using these materials on cakes, I enrolled myself into Wilton and PME courses and these are some of the take-aways (better to record them somewhere in case I forget!).

On colour wheel

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Complementary colours are colours directly across from each other. Example : Yellow and Purple,  Orange and Green. Complementary colours make each other look good even though they are complete opposites.

Neighbouring colours are a group of three to four colours sitting next to each other on the colour wheel. Example : Yellow, Orange, and Red.

Monochromatic colours refers to a colour choice but using either less or more gel paste to make a bolder or lighter colour. Example: Light pink, Medium pink, and Dark pink.

Triad colours are three colours spaced equally apart on the colour wheel. Example: Green, Orange and Purple.

colour wheel chart

One of my coursemates has the above chart, and commented that she found it useful especially since she is into craftwork as well. Her designs are always beautiful and has the most desirable set of colours on her cakes. I must hunt this down!

On fondant and gumpaste

The term used in UK is sugarpaste while in US, fondant is used. Gum paste is mainly used for flowers or figurines (in my opinion and especially so in our climate!), while Fondant is used for covering the cakes.

To store them, mould them into logs and coat with a layer of vegetable shortening, clingfilm and then ziplock them before storing in air-tight containers.

In general, the lifespan for both is 18 months if unopened or refer to the expiry date found on the packaging. If it is used and stored well (the remaining amount), it can last 6 months. However, if it is opened and used, it can only last 1 month.

To make the ‘glue’ to paste the differnt parts of flowers or models together, break about 1/4 teaspoon of Ready- To-Use- Gum paste into very small pieces in about 1 tablespoon of hot water.

For the past few weeks, we worked on these:

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Fabric roses
Embossing and painting of plaques

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Making of fruit basket
The cloth is made entirely from fondant. Reccommded colours to dust on fruits are sage, lime and cinnamon.

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Ribbons and drapes

IMG_8283A Christening cake for a girl

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A ballerina

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My finale cake – The Very Hungry Caterpillar – and with this I receive the Professional Diploma Certificate in sugarpaste from PME. I enjoyed the whole process of learning how to decorate cakes and my instructor makes every lesson really relaxing and fun indeed. I’ll miss her and my wacky coursemates!

Fondant needs to be dried so the best way to do so in our humid climate is to leave it in the air-conditioned place while I use the fan. Imagine the electricity bills! I thought this post is useful.

Will be posting The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake next!

Faith @ 11 months old

20131020-114943.jpgDear Faith
You are 11 months old today and you are one month away from being 1! Mama is getting real excited about that big day. Nope, you aren’t going to have a birthday bash; I don’t think you will understand anyway. Maybe when you get older? In any case, Mama will want you to know that birthday celebration is not all about you. It’s about sharing the joy with others and thanking those who have lent a hand to Mama and Papa in bringing you up.

Meanwhile, Mama is just happy and truly thankful that you have grown well and maintain a joyful spirit.

Diet

In terms of diet, Mama is getting more relaxed in the things I give you. I have started feeding you omelette from Japanese restaurants and you seem to like it a lot. Thankfully, you didn’t develop any allergic symptoms. You love grapes a lot. Did you get that from me? Mama loves grapes too! I think you like bread a lot as well and this makes my life so much easier. So besides giving you biscuits, I can bake bread for you!

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You can also drink from a straw now and I didn’t know that until your auntie tried it on you. So you have skipped the sippy cup and go straight to using straw. Do you know when you try to drink from the straw, you have a very adorable and funny expression?

All is well and I think I don’t have to prepare so much puree for you now since I would like to include you in our normal daily meals. You don’t seem to like pasta and perhaps that’s because Mama didn’t do a good job in that! But Mama will persevere ok?

Physical

This month, you have been really active, cruising here and there and trying desperately to stand independently, and indeed you can do so, for seconds. Now you can travel across the length of the living room using the walker and Mama & Papa are proud of you. Oh, another thing. You can really crawl fast!

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During service, you seem to be able to ‘sit’ through the whole of the period and by that, I mean not crying out loud such that one of us has to bring you out. You like to roam around and ‘disturb’ others. Since you are so young, the uncles and aunties will politely smile at you. You especially like touching people’s handbags and shoes. Arghh!

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Behaviour

20131020-113700.jpgI may be biased but I think you are quite well behaved. Mama gets very happy indeed when your Gong Gong and Po Po commended you, saying you learn fast and are actually quite a good girl who doesn’t fuss a lot. The aunties at BSF infant class have also given Mama good feedback about you. Mama is one proud mom!

HOWEVER, when you are at home with Mama, you tend to throw everything you set your hands on to the ground. This makes Mama very busy! Now you are also tearing pages from the storybooks that you inherited from your cousins. That is a big NO-NO!

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Mama is also learning that you like to imitate her. Remember that one incident when you were holding on to the shoe spray and Mama came out of the kitchen and shouted for you to drop that? You imitated me, pointing your finger and shouting some notes which Mama didn’t understand. You know what? Mama finds it so amusing that I have to step aside to laugh out loud! You are too adorable!

You are one determined child, both Papa and Mama think. When you set your mind to do something, you don’t give up and Mama thinks you inherit the tenacity from Papa. Hah! Even when you are tired, you just don’t want to sleep and would rather lie on the dirty floor (obviously you don’t know much about cleanliness). Sigh!

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Recently too, Mama finds that you are rather clingy. When Mama is cooking in the kitchen, you always like to come in and cling on to her leg or cry out to be carried. This exasperates Mama!

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 Other developments

Two more teeth are budding and this could explain why you are drooling lots at times and uber cranky on certain nights. Poor girl. Hang in there okay?

You are beginning to like books now and Mama can have your attention for certain books especially the ones with Peek-a-boo flaps.

You ease up to Grandpa and Auntie Eunice readily and this is a great improvement from previous months. Well done! You have to know that they love you very very much!

Mama would have loved that you could sleep through the night without waking up for feeds. Perhaps you are hungry because you often cry out for milk using the related vocabulary. Maybe Mama should give you more food for dinner? One good thing though is that you seem to have established a habit of having two 1.5 hours naps. Good job! But really, please sleep through the night, will you?

You are one curious girl because you keep observing people when Mama brings you out for grocery shopping. But dear girl, I think you have forgotten your manners. Where are your hello’s and bye-bye’s wave when you meet with the aunties and uncles at the market?

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One more month to 1 YO!

[Review] Mary Kay’s TimeWise Plus+ Regena-Firm skin care range

A few weeks ago, this bundle of goodies arrived at the doorstep.

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Of course, it didn’t fall from the sky. Florinda has kindly asked a group of mothers to try this range out and as I looked at my face in the mirror, I thought, “Why not?”

You see, I wasn’t that concerned about looking after my skin in my younger days. I was thinking since I had combination-to-oily skin type, I didn’t really need to apply moisturiser. On top of that, I was in the sun a lot since I enjoyed the outdoors. However, the need to apply sunblock didn’t really occur to me as I do love the ‘tanned’ look.20131019-090132.jpg

I guess I reap what I sow. My skin is all right, not fantastic of course. It’s a bit dull and has big pores. But what really makes me sad is the area around my eyes. I have already incurred crow’s feet in my late 20s and now because of a lack of sleep, the dark circles got worse. This is no laughing matter. I still remember when I was working (that was a few years back), colleagues would ask me if I had enough sleep because I looked perpetually tired. The eyes must have done it again. So, yes, I am ultra-concerned about this particular area.

This Mary Kay bundle includes Day and Night Treatment, Intensive Serum, Correcting Eye Cream and True Dimension Lipstick. As with all skincare products, consistency is key and for the purpose of this review and to inculcate a good habit, I decided that I should be disciplined and follow a religious skincare regime.

I actually wanted to shout out to the world that this set of products work by the second week. It is actually quite miraculous, I think. I’ll let the pictures below show you the results. These are unfiltered and I have not edited them.

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Before the use of the products, my lines around the eyes are rather deep. This is especially so when I smile or laugh. You can also see big pores on my cheeks and the skin is a bit dull and lacks firmness, you think?

By the first week of usage, the lines are minimised and the eye areas look more lifted. I also observe that the skin is firmer and more supple. The pictures speak volume. I am stoked. I believe I will be using this range and their other products from now on. It’s more economical than the ones I’m currently using and can produce more miracles and positive results! ;p

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Oh yes, another thing that I appreciate is their product design. You only need to squeeze out the amount that you need for the day and night treatment and this helps to preserve the remaining cream (no contamination!) and reduce wastage. Love the design of the packaging too. Looks classic and elegant!

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For reference’s sake, this is how you should apply the cream so that your skin can be lifted and restore youthful skin!

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Source: Mary Kay’s product leaflet

To find out more about this range, you can refer to this link.

Read other reviews about this range:
– Diana from The Domestic Goddess wannabe
– Wai Wai from Peipei.haohao
– Amie from Mamamie’s Thots

Alternatively, you can just drop Flo an email (she’s real friendly and funny!) to discover more for yourself!

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Disclaimer: I receive these products for review purposes. No other compensation is given. All opinions are mine. 

Apple streusel muffins

P1090461This is the season for apple picking and oh, how I miss this activity!

Doesn’t matter. Even though I can’t pick apples, surely I can bake something with them. I like that I could taste the apples pieces in these muffins and surely love the streusel. I thought the creme fraiche added some twist to the sweetness which can be rather refreshing. Hah!

Am keeping this recipe as I find that the muffins turn out well and delish. I like how they rise and look at the end of the day. They have got some character!

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Apple Streusel Muffins (Adapted from The Kitchn)

Yields 12 muffins

For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar ( I used light brown sugar)
226g crème fraîche (or full-fat sour cream)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
113g unsalted butter, melted and still warm
2 medium-sized baking apples, peeled, cored and diced into irregular pieces

For the streusel:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar ( I used light brown sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
57g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin generously with cooking spray, both inside the cups and over the top or use muffin cases.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. In another bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, crème fraîche, and vanilla. Add the melted butter, pouring in a slow and steady stream, while whisking vigorously to emulsify the mixture.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and gently fold until the liquid is just barely combined, being careful not to over-mix. (A few lumps are okay.) Stir in the chopped apples. Fill each muffin well all the way to the top with batter; set aside while preparing the streusel. Yup. if you are fearful that the muffins will rise a lot and so overflow, don’t worry. They WON’T.

For the streusel, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and gently stir with a fork until well combined and small pebble-sized pieces remain throughout.

Top each filled well with a heaping tablespoon of streusel, lightly pressing it into the batter. (A round cookie cutter placed over the cup helps keep the mess to a minimum.) Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. The batter can be made in advance and held in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or frozen for 2 weeks (thaw overnight in the fridge before using.)

Lemon cake | Italian meringue buttercream

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I think I’m really falling in love with lemon, anything lemon and in particular, lemon curd. IMG_8224 The other day, I wanted to experiment with Miette’s lemon curd and found that it is equally delightful as compared to Dorie Greenspan’s. After filling the pate sucree tarts with them, I still had a good amount of it and went out to bake a lemon cake for a lady in our small group who has just completed her part-time studies. Thankfully, I had the hot milk cake sitting in the freezer; it did save a lot of work. All I needed to do was to make the Italian meringue buttercream, my all-time favourite frosting.

So I did one batch of vanilla buttercream, good enough to cover a 6-inch cake and with excess.

You will need:
210g caster sugar ( I would reduce this amount for future’s bake)
38g water
75g egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature, in cubes
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Make sure the sugar is dissolve in the water and cook the mixture until it reaches 120C. This will take from 5 to 10 minutes. After the sugar is dissolved (while continue boiling), I would wet a pastry brush and wet the sides of the pan to prevent sugar from crystalising.

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2. While boiling the sugar  syrup, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 115C degrees, start to whisk the egg whites on medium-low speed until soft peaks are formed. The sugar syrup is still being boiled at this time. When it reaches 120C, remove from the heat source. reduce the standmixer speed to low and drizzle in the sugar syrup from the side so that the hot syrup doesn’t splatter.  Raise the speed to high when all the syrup is poured in and continue to whisk until the mixture cools to room temperature (or when you can touch the steel bowl , 5 to 10 minutes.

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3. Only when the meringue is cool enough should you begin to add the butter. Reduce the speed to medium. With the mixer running, drop in the butter, 1 tbsp or cube at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding another. The mixture may deflate and begin to look curdled. Just raise the speed to high and continue to add tbsp-size pieces of butter, making sure each is completely combined before adding more. When all the butter has been added, the frosting should be smooth and thick. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

For this cake, I add 3 tbsp of lemon curd to 1 cup of buttercream to achieve the tangy result.

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Storage: In ziplock bag for up to 1 week in the fridge or up to 2 months in the freezer. To use them again, bring to room temperature. Transfer to mixer with paddle attachment and beat until soft and spreadable.

The assembly process in pics:

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All these with a baby strapped in...

All these with a baby strapped in…

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For the lemon curd (adapted from Miette’s)
1 cup sugar (I would reduce in future)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
7 large egg yolks
113g unsalted butter, cubed

1. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water to make a bain-marie. Whisk occasionally and cook the mixture until it thickens considerably (78C)

2. Remove form the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Let the curd cool slightly to about 60C.

3. Using a whisk, mix the butter into the curd until the butter is completely incorporated. Strain again to remove any lumps. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled before using. Can keep for up to 7 days tightly covered in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Thinking of the next cake to bake now!

How to cover a cake with fondant

I’ve got a copy of her newest book and enjoyed the tutorials in it. In this video, she made covering cakes with sugarpaste/fondant look so easy. I’m not sure if this method will work in a very warm place like mine but I’ll try it. 😉

Food education the Japanese way

I’m no nutritionist but I do know a little about food education, a result of growing up with a mother who cooks meals 95% of the time. It helps greatly that she dragged us along to the wet market and taught us how to spot the freshest meat and vegetables. amongst other things (like haggling with the stallholders, for example). Obviously, we were also involved in the cooking and baking process since young.  But I must qualify that we weren’t very enthusiastic then (even dreaded it) but whatever we were taught stays with us. Incredible!

So, it’s no surprise that I would start Faith early on eating well and recognising the various foods in their original state. I’m not a fan of store-bought food because they do contain preservatives and therefore not good for the little one. However, for convenience’s sake, they can be a good substitute.

I continue to be intrigued by how the Japanese and the French cultivate good eating habits in their children since young. In my humble opinion, teaching good eating habits is as tough as inculcating values in a being and it has to start from young for once he/she has a good foundation, the person will grow up distinguishing right from wrong and will (hopefully) make wise decisions along the way.

Some points on the Japanese way of eating (for own knowledge and reference):
Source: Parenting without borders

– What a baby eats is important but the attitude toward feeding a child is equally important. Eating in Japan is a communal matter and babies should NEVER eat alone. Even when the baby is too young to eat solids, he is always kept with the parents at mealtimes so that when he gets older, he eats together with them. This is a cardinal rule. To make babies feel even more like a part of the family, parents give them the same foods as everyone else. So, one can hardly see children’s menu in Japanese restaurants. From the time babies start eating, they’re eating the same things as adults, just more lightly seasoned or modified for the baby’s age.

– Presentation is important because when food is appealingly prepared and laid out, with an ideal mix of colours and textures, the baby will be more likely to eat it. I’m not sure about you but when I see those beautiful Bento boxes such as the following, I couldn’t help but be attracted to them and eat the contents.

{Source}

– In Japan, the thinking is to introduce young kids to a wide variety of tastes and textures, teach them to appreciate food, teach them never to waste and get them used to structured mealtimes and mealtime behaviour. The Japanese ate three proper meals each day and though overall portions were small, each meal was balanced and filling.

[Source]

– Snacks are not liberally given so kids do look forward to treats because they were rare and presented as a special privilege.

– It is considered a moral good to teach kids to eat properly and it is also an adult’s job to teach children the concept of gratitude for every bit of food on their plates. All children are taught to think of the animal who provided the meat, the farmer who grew the produce, the person who make and serve the food. Children are encouraged to eat everything they are served, to try everything they are given.

– A good parent helps her children to learn to eat anything, and she believes they can and will become good eaters, through high expectations, patience, beautifully crafted meals and lots of exposure to new foods.

– What make Japanese raise healthy eaters is the consistent support they get from others. Food education is woven throughout school life and kids grow their own tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in first grade (they have a standardised national curriculum so most kids experience the same kind of food education. By fiftth and sixth grade, children are learning cooking basics at school and lunch is an actual class in the curriculum. I like that! It’s a class to teach children where food comes from, how to enjoy a meal and how to serve others.


Pictures above are from an account of an elementary school principal who visited a Japanese school.

Bows and ribbons

We are on bows and ribbons today and I thought I should just let the pictures narrate the steps for this cake.

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What are we going to do today?

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Using a template, prepare the parts of the bow/ ribbons.

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Assembling the parts of the bow.

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W.I.P for the drape.

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Leaving it to dry. Use needles dedicated for cake decorating purposes.

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The outcome for this bow. Loving the turnout of this colour – AmeriColor’s Super Red (120)

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Fabric effects

There you have it.

I’m loving this class with all the quirky coursemates and a very patient instructor.

 

Tarts & more tarts

:: Apple tartlets ::Asparagus, Bak Kwa & gruyere tartlets

Nowadays, there will always be a ready supply of pate sucree dough in my refrigerator because depending on my schedule, I will bake some sorta tartlets for tea, breakfast, whatever.

Mom just came back from her overseas trip and I thought I should bake apple tartlets for her as she is a real fan of it and therefore a good person to turn to if you want honest feedback. I would love to make these for her but knowing that it is difficult to make puff pastry in this kind of heat, I aborted the idea. Knowing her palate, she prefers less sweet stuff and that would mean adjusting the amount of sugar in most recipes.

The first recipe that I wanted to test is from Caramelised Apple Tartlets from Meringue. It’s as simple as coating the apples in caramel syrup and topping each tartlet with french meringue after the tartlets are baked for 20 minutes. Thereafter, the tartlets are popped back into the oven for another 15 minutes so that the meringue is baked till light brown.

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Since I didn’t have enough apples that day, the portion of the fruit in each tartlet was insufficient to satisfy my mom. Reduce the sugar a bit more, she said and it would be good. For me, I didn’t like how the meringue turned out and decided that I should try another recipe, this time being one from Beyond the Plate because I was mesmerised by the photos. Heh.

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I was pleasantly pleased with this one, having reduced the portion of sugar from 100g to 60g and mom and Ken gave positive feedback. Since I still had a good amount of egg and whipping cream mixture left, I went on to bake the savoury asparagus, Bak Kwa (compliments of mom) and gruyere tartlets. I had my fill and was totally stoked. Oh, the many different tartlets one can bake.

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Which will be next on the list, I wonder?

Apple Tartlets filling (adapted from Beyond the Plate)
To make four 4-inch tartlets
2 medium apples, halved, cored and thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
60 grams granulated sugar plus a pinch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon corn starch
3 large eggs
200ml heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C and grease the pan to be used.

Combine the granulated sugar, cornstarch and vanilla sugar or vanilla extract in a bowl, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add the whipping cream and whisk until the mixture is a pale yellow. Set aside.

Layer the apple slices in a fashion that suits your fancy until it reaches the top of the mold. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar and the cinnamon over the apples, then pour the egg/whipping cream mixture into the pan.

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Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. The tart is ready when its surface has caramelized and turns a golden brown. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. The tart is best eaten on the day it’s made.

For the asparagus, Bak Kwa and gruyere tartlets, all you need are stalks of asparagus, depending on how many tartlets you have and then the amount of Bak Kwa you want to put in each tartlet before topping the shell with gruyere cheese. Lastly pour the eggs and whipping cream mixture near to the brim of each tartlet before baking in the oven. I’ll do up a proper recipe the next time.

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Caramelised apple filling (adapted from Meringue)
For four 4-inch tarlets
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tsp sugar
4 – 5 apples, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tsp flour

Meringue
2 large egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/3 cup caster sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar and stir until it is cimpletely melted and turns into a bubbly, thick caramel brown syrup. Don’t burn it. Add the apples and stir occasionally to coat the apples with the caramel syrup. Cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining sugar and flour and sprinkle a thin layer over the bottom of each of the tartlet shell (this will keep them crisp). Fill the shells with caramelised apples, dividing them even between the 4 tartlet shells. Bake for 20 minutes. About 10 minutes before they are finished baking, begain making meringue. Remove from over after 20 minutes, leaving heat on, but lowering temperature to 190C.

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In the bowl of an electric standmixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and increase speed to medium-high, beating until soft peaks form. Add sugar, about a tbsp at a time, and continue beating on high until meringue has stiff, glossy peaks.

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Top the meringue in moulds all the way around the outer edge of each tartlet where the filling meets the crust. This is to form a seal at the edge so that the meringue doesn’t pull away from the crust when baking. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on a ware rack before serving.

Play dates for Faith

At times I find that Faith can be rather lonely playing by herself while under the adults’ care. Putting myself in her position, I think I would love to hang out with peers my age. Thankfully, once in a while, my girlfriends would meet up and the that will be the opportune time for the kids (same year) to play together. I am hoping we can aim for more regular sessions!

Recent play time at the Chans

Recent play time at the Chans

Both Faiths playing with each other

Both Faiths playing with each other

The older Faith feeding the younger Faith

The older Faith feeding the younger Faith

Every Saturday, at CG, the kids will come together and Faith has another chance of play time with her mates.

Faith and Samuel, two months apart.

Faith and Samuel, two months apart.

Cathy playing with Faith

Cathy playing with Faith

Of course, I love it whenever my sis and her family come back for a visit and am hoping for her return in December, this time for good.

Cousins at play!

Cousins at play!

It’s nice to be kids.

FFWD | Salade Niçoise

Yay! I’m in time for FFWD this time round. It helps a lot that the dish is quick and easy to create – Salade Niçoise. I had thought that this will not satisfy but after this experience, I realised that it is truly a one-dish meal, just like what Dorie had warned.

Salade Niçoise [niˈswaz] gets its name from its hometown Nice and comprises tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, Nicoise olives, anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. Of course, this dish cannot do without tuna which is the salad’s linchpin and it seems that traditionally, canned tuna is used. Suits me real fine as it is so much easier to use canned tuna. Hah! I had wanted to omit the olives since my family does not appreciate them but thought it wouldn’t be a true blue Salade Niçoise if it is without them. And, I’m glad I added them because the combination works really well.

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So, I didn’t bother to lay them in order. I thought a mess can be nice too.

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Mom gave us some snow crab and this completes our meal.

This is a weekly attempt at French food via French Fridays with Dorie. If you are interested in French cooking, why not join us?

conversation with Dorie Greenspan.

Wordless Wednesday | A rest from work

Work, currently, is taking care of the kid and managing household chores. It can get very exhausting at times and when that happens, ill thoughts crowd my finite mind and instead of joy, I’m filled with angst and bitterness.

I seek solace in baking and my cake decorating classes in which we speak the same lingo and share the same passion.

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Linking up with