An invitation to you

Hello, dear readers, mummies friends, friends,

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know that I am one of the ambassadors for Active Hive. I would like to invite you to a cozy session in which we could just chat about life as a mom/ woman, our kids and leading a healthy lifestyle. I would be baking some sweet treats ( it’s ok to indulge once in a while!) to serve you!

Besides the desserts, you will be treated to a complimentary body composition analysis and to try out the Minus Calories workout which really helps me in my exercise regime. The timing states from 2pm to 6pm but that is to accommodate the trying out of the Minus Calories workout. I understand many of us are pressed for time so I thought I should make this clear. 😉

If you are free, do join me! ME time!!

RSVP here.

 

 

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Keeping fit with Mizuno

I’m not a professional runner but I have been running (leisurely) for more than two decades to know that running in a right pair of shoes is important. How does one know which pair of shoes to purchase then? You can certainly ask the salesperson in the sports store for advice and recommendation, assuming they are seasoned runners themselves or you can have a reliable diagnosis using the gait analysis or foot mapping. Through this method, you can understand the level of your pronation and find the right running shoes for yourself.

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I have always been running using Asics because it gives me the best comfort among the shoes that I have tried. Mizuno? Nope. I’m not sure why I have not tried running in one but recently I had the opportunity to try their products (due to a sponsorship) at the store in Velocity Novena Square.

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So many different pairs of running shoes. Which one to choose? As a vain lady, I would want to go for neat designs but being also a practical person, I know full well that choosing the right pair that works for me is still the wiser thing to do.

I did the next best thing – I went to bother the salesperson, for a long period of time. You can’t blame me. I had incurred an injury before because I had run with a wrong pair of shoes and excessive mileage. In the end, I had to fork out more time and $$ to consult a podiatrist and undergo physiotherapy sessions. So, each time I buy a new pair of running shoes, I make sure I do a good job in choosing the right one.

At Mizuno, I went through the 360 degrees foot scan to assist me in finding the right type of shoes for my feet. So even if I like a particular design, I won’t go for it since the pair is not the right one for me.

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I spent one and a half hours (is that long or short for you?) choosing the apparel and shoes and was thankful that the lady who served me was patient and understanding.

 

I have since run two short-distance races with the Mizuno products and am happy with their quality. Am going to sign up for a longer distance next and let’s just see if the shoes will continue to work for me. 😉

If you are choosing a new pair of running shoes, try the foot scan at Mizuno at Velocity Novena Square or Running Lab where I used to do the analysis.

Happy exercising!

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Disclaimer: As an ambassador for Active Hive, I was sponsored with Mizuno sports gear. Thank you, World of Sports and Active Hive for the sponsorship. No other forms of monetary compensation was given and all opinions are mine.

Shape Run 2016

I returned to do the Shape Run after a 3-year hiatus. The last one was a stroller run with Faith and it feels good to be back participating in this all-women run. I wasn’t ambitious and thought a 5km run would suit me just fine. I have to be realistic and kind to my knees. Until and unless I have sufficient time to chalk up some mileage, I wouldn’t dare to run a longer distance.

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Race day. The sky was overcast and I thought it would rain. The 5km category was the second last to be flagged off and man, were there a lot of ‘green’! But I love the location – Bayfront – since it’s just right ahead of the MRT station.

Note to self: Park at Dakota/ Mountbatten/ Stadium and take a train ride.

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My buddy and I. I wanted to run with a fellow mom so that we can encourage each other. to be honest, it’s really very tough to meet up to train together. So far, we have only met once! But still, it’s better than nothing!

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Go, go, go!

I love this run because the weather was perfect (not too hot) and the scenery, beautiful. And I absolutely adore women’s run because the runners were so polite and encouraging to one another. No shoving, no show-offs. But if you eavesdropped along the way, you would realise that there were a lot of mothers who were chatting about their kids. haha..

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Being a popular run, there was quite a fair bit of bottleneck in the beginning which slowed down the pace. The lane was narrow to be honest so it took a bit of effort to meander in and out of runners. Because I didn’t ‘chiong’ all the way, I was able to run strong and really sprinted towards the end.

35 min 13s later, I was back. Would love to come in sub 30 but it’s okay.

My running buddy completed her run well too. I’m so proud of her considering the fact that we didn’t train much and only depended on the minus calories for our training. The weather for the past few weeks had been erratic and thankfully, we could throw in a bit of indoor training using the machine.

img_4210That’s me, doing a last-minute training before the race day.

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Along the way, we saw this sole. Running in a good pair of shoes is important, especially if you are running a long distance one. I have incurred an injury before because I have chosen a wrong pair to run in and I have learnt my lesson since then.

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These are our choice – Hoka One One for my friend and Mizuno for yours truly.

I think I’m ready for a longer distance now. 😉

Shopping at Agape babies

If you are one who likes to shop online and browses the many items on the web, you will enjoy shopping at Agape Babies. The online store has recently launched their new and redesigned website to give shoppers an even better experience on the mobile phones. Its optimized site looks and feels like an app and you can enjoy one-step checkout and one-click sign in for a faster experience.

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Agape Babies has also expanded their brand and product selection to include popular brands like Jujube! They are now carrying over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories. This means that you would probably find the items that you want at this online store. Moreover, you can also enjoy exclusive Weekly Deals every Wednesday!

Since Faith was about to start her swimming lessons, I went to shop for a waterproof bag for her and found one that might suit her. Initially, I had wanted to purchase at the physical retail stores but thankfully, I remembered that there are online stores that give good discount and the collaboration with Agape Babies couldn’t be more timely. Besides enjoying the offer, the delivery was fast too so it is really an incentive to shop at Agape Babies in this instance.

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Proud owner of the Trunki PaddlePak

If you are absolutely new to Agape Babies, you will be pleased to know that first time customers can get even more with $10 OFF. They get to choose their free gift – Mustela Trial Kit (worht $10) or Bellamy Milk Tin ($25.95) and a next day delivery on their first purchase of $150 or more. Do look for their current promotion here for more savings!

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Besides the option of having the goods delivered to your place, you can now choose to self collect from three convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road.

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So, yea, if you don’t have time to shop onsite, you will find that it’s a better option to shop online with Agape Babies.

I’m happy to share that Agape Babies is offering Raising Faith’s readers a 5% discount! All you need to do is to quote raisingfaith5% upon checkout. This discount is valid for 3 weeks (22 July to 12 August 2016) and the code excludes jujube (sad!), milk, diapers, wipes, medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories.

Disclaimer: I was gifted shopping credits from Agape Babies to purchase the mentioned products and I topped up for the remaining amount. No additional monetary compensation was given and I do not stand to gain any commission from sales using the discount code given. All opinions are mine.

#DIAL (Observation for HFMD)

It’s a usual Wednesday. My day started the moment da man stepped out of the apartment. The girl woke up and the boy stirred in the bed. It was 6am.

It’s the usual routine of getting the girl ready for school. But today, she was denied entry because there were some red spots on her palms and the school staff members decided that I should bring her home to monitor her development for the rest of the day. The school has three confirmed HFMD cases and it is understandable that vigilance is needed.

Oh well….it’s a homeschooling day for us then (I use this term loosely here). Here’s a record of such a day, a Day In A Life of a SAHM whose kid needs to stay at home. Please be warned that this is also a photo-dumping post.

9am. We reached home. The girl was not going to bum around because the mom had put on her teacher mode and hat on. First up is phonics and I’m using Jolly Phonics to teach her.

M: Why is your donkey so colourful?
F: 因为我喜欢五颜六色。

9.30am Practise writing 1 – 10. It’s a pain to teach when the brother was around because he wanted to be involved in the learning process. I’m sorry dude. I can only handle one of you at a time. 

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On normal days, I would be spending time reading and working on the muscles of the boy but today, he just had to learn together with the sister.

9.45am Faith had completed her numbers and wants to do cutting. Whatever. I have a cranky baby who needs to nap but he is struggling to stay awake.

She continued with pretend play while I put Dan in the cot. He had fallen asleep. I guess he’s just too tired.

10.05am Morning snack – strawberries

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Soon after, we baked madeleines. It’s a very good activity to share with the girl and she would definitely oblige because she liked them.

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The madeleines didn’t turn out to be to be picture perfect. I was rushing because I know the boy would wake up 30 minutes later.

10.45am The boy was up and I started steaming sweet potato because I wanted the girl to relate to the book which we have read earlier. And of course, to have a taste of the root vegetable.

11am I took out my secret weapon – Duplo – which we have acquired very recently at a very decent price. They are second hand but worked absolutely fine for us. While they played, I continued to wash the dishes. How I wish I have a dishwasher in times like this.

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11.30am Lunch was this set. Don’t judge please. It’s the best I could provide at this point in time. I wanted Dan to have a taste of the sweet potato too and he liked to disturb the sister during meal times.

12pm. Chinese.

6 months ago, I started getting her to recognise Chinese characters, first by flashing the cards and then subsequently reading text. Now she can read on her own.

Seven readers today. Her reading in Chinese is definitely much stronger than English. Time to step up on her English language!

12.30pm I wanted to get the girl to watch some TV programme but the boy would plaster himself to it. How???

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Have to keep carrying him away. I’ve my fair share of workout already.

12.50pm We continued with the study of the fruit of the spirit. Today we touched on self control.

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1.30pm Thankful for FIL who came to look after the kids. I wanted to cancel today’s minus calories workout but decided to just go ahead because the kids would be napping during this time anyway and FIL would not be overly taxed.

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I have given up a few things in life for the family/kids but I’m not willing to give up running/exercising which is a pleasure to me. Keeping fit and sane is important to me!

3.15pm Went to the library to borrow books for the children. Reckoned that the kids would still be napping so there is no real need to go back so soon. I wish I could spend more time to select books for the kids but I have to make do with whatever time that I have.

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 Borrowed a lot of books. I think I should bring a trolley along the next time.

4.15pm When I reached home, the kids suddenly awoke from their nap.It always happens this way. I have no idea why. It’s rather magical.

Asked FIL to stay for dinner and so I could cook in peace while he reads to the children.

Best arrangement.

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5.45pm
Dinner… It’s still a long way to go before I could take a break!!! Arghhhh. The boy was getting cranky. Too tired.
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I’m getting tired. I’ve mopped the floor four times already in the day. It’s time that you help out!
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7pm While I showered, the man spent time with the kids.
7.45pm Dan slept. The man left for a meeting in church and it’s the girl and I.

We spent time reading the books I borrowed from the library and after we read this ‘Katie Takes a Plane’, I decided that it was time that we take out the map and learn a little of the world we live in.

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8.30pm  It’s sticker book time! A routine before we turn in for the day.

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Good night.

I realised I truly enjoy teaching Faith and toy with the idea of homeschooling her. There are so many things that we can learn together. If she does not have to stay at home today, we would have gone to the museum, the park where she could skate-scoot or to the seaside to have a mini picnic. Each day, after she comes back from school and has her nap, I’m only left with an hour or two to teach her. Time is not on our side, really.

Kids grow up too fast!

Family Day Out @ City Square Mall 

[Media invite]

Thinking of places to dine? Why not head to City Square Mall, especially during this month (July) as it welcomes back the always popular Food Festival. This year, City Square Mall’s Food Festival 2016 will tantalise foodies with new restaurant openings, exciting F&B promotions and attractive gifts with purchase including mall vouchers and exclusive canvas tote bags. Besides the food, the mall offers a slew of fun activities and facilities for the kids too. Truly a family-friendly mall, I say!

13557816_10156918605900478_8486180769404040063_nWith courtesy of City Square Mall.

I won’t beat about the bush but these $9.90 weekday lunch deals are so attractive. Just look at the eleven lunch sets –  you are spoilt for choices! And if you are driving there, I believe you will be pleased to know that there is complimentary weekday parking worth $3, in addition to free weekday lunchtime parking for the first one and a half hour between 12 and 2pm (exclude public holidays), with minimum $60 spent. More information can be found on their website. #goodthingsmustshare

Food aside, City Square Mall is truly a place where families could hang out the whole day! I’ll tell you why.

Our family was invited to a Family Day Out at City Square Mall last week and it was indeed a fun-filled one, not forgetting the filling of the stomach of course.

 

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The kids had their share of fun at The Petite Park. We usually don’t frequent indoor playgrounds so you could imagine their joy when the Queklings were told to explore this space for a good one hour. Their eyes lit up!

So I thought Dan would not be suitable to play in there but no, he had his playtime too!

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We were famished after that one hour of playtime and we proceeded to Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant. I’m one happy lady because Japanese cuisine will, more often than not, be my first choice when it comes to dining out.

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This Pork Cutlet with Scrambled Egg Sauce Set is one of the $9.90 weekday lunch sets and is truly satisfying.

We were also treated to the Wafu pizza, meat skewers and salad while Faith had her Junior’s Sushi Set. All were so good (okay, I’m just generally biased towards Japanese cuisine ya?)!

We had such a full lunch that it makes sense for us to do a bit of exercise at its revamped outdoor playground which is located just next to the MRT.

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Alas, it was hot at 1.30pm and while we wished to spend more time at this playground, we had to seek a more cooling environment to rest. Perhaps the next time we come, we will have our go at this outdoor playground first.

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You’ve guessed it! We proceeded to another makan (eating) place soon after and it’s The Manhattan Fish MarketThe Manhattan Fish Market we went!

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For your info, the Grilled Glory Dory Set with soup of the day is one of the $9.90 weekday lunch sets. The rice tastes rather garlicky so if you are a fan of garlic, this is absolutely for you! For me, I love the dory!

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The Manhattan Fish Market has a menu for children too so you don’t have to share with the kids. Kekeke..We were recommended to a very refreshing drink – cala cala – a cooling and citrusy combination of Calamansi with lemon fizzle. It’s an absolutely must-drink!

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The friendly server gifted Faith with a pack of card game – Happy Family. Those of you who are born in my era, do you remember that game? He told us that they are doing their part to encourage family members to play together as opposed to having kids glued to their ipads or phones. Thumbs up for this initiative!

By 3pm, we were exhausted but there are still so many stores available at City Square Mall! Bookstores, apparels, salons… If I had the energy, I would have done my grocery at the supermarket. Oh well!

Thank you, City Square Mall, for your invitation. We truly had a great family day out!

Gluten Free Banana Coconut Bread 

What do you do when you have a bunch of bananas on the kitchen countertop and they look like they needed to be consumed that very day?


Use them in baking! I’ve decided to bake an almost gluten free banana coconut bread with them. I say ‘almost’ because I didn’t have the gluten free baking powder and have to use the normal one.

Ingredients (serves 12)
(Recipe adapted from CocoRoselle)

400g ripe banana
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
60ml coconut oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp (gluten free) baking powder
70g coconut flour
20g chia seed

Depending on your preference, I added pine nuts into the batter. I also love to add pecan nuts or walnuts for that extra bit of crunch.

:: Preheat oven to 170C

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:: Combine banana, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and baking powder into a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.


:: Add the coconut flour and chia seeds and mix through.
:: Rest for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds and coconut flour to expand.
:: Lightly oil one loaf tin and then line with baking paper. I used the silicon one and didn’t have to do that.


:: Spoon batter into the tin. At this stage, you can decorate the bread with flaked coconut or sliced banana before baking.
:: Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Cover the top with foil if it is over browning. I used a bit more time as I find that the centre part remains moist. Timing varies from oven to oven.

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:: Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.


So I’m not quite used to consuming gluten free products even though I know it’s supposed to be better for our body. I think I need time to appreciate the taste which is a bit different from the usual banana bread that I made. Faith, however, likes it, much to my surprise.

Won’t you try it and let me know if it suits your tastebuds?

Faith’s first swimming lesson

Before the kids came along, I have decided that if I should send them to any enrichment classes, it would have to be Chinese, music and swimming. Faith started her music lessons at 3YO and Chinese enrichment about three months later. We have been sourcing for a swimming class for her for the longest time and we finally found one (via this link) that suits our timing and budget, all thanks to my resourceful sister!

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Morning: All ready for swim class!

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This scene is so familiar it brings back many fond memories. It is the swimming complex where I learnt how to tread water, used the breast stroke and gobbled the bowl of Mee Siam after each lesson. Now my daughter is going through the same thing, minus the food (no more canteen there!).

She started off in the competition pool and my SIL and I were giggling away as our kids got orientated in the water. Faith was uber attentive to the instructor and did everything that she was asked to do. She wore the apprehensive expression on her face and I was afraid that she might give up halfway.

Thankfully, she was all smiles when she got up for a drink and narrated to us what had happened. Asked if she liked the class, she said YES. Phew!

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So yes, she was in the deep waters for her first lesson. I think learning in a group helps a lot at her age since she will be more inclined to want to swim together with the rest. It’s definitely a good source of motivation!

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I think she did well for her first trial session. We went down as a family to support her. Yes, her brother too. We make it a point to have the siblings encourage each other in their achievement, no matter how small that could be.

Psst. Have you been using your FREE ActiveSG $100 for sports-related activities? Don’t forget to use it!

To bake or not to bake?

A few days ago, I received a WA message from a customer-turned-friend for whom I’ve baked a cake last year. “Are you still baking? I need a cake!”

And I asked myself if it is time for me to revive this passion of mine. Could I do a good enough job for others? With two kids now, it can be rather challenging in terms of the workflow and I want to make sure that the cake pleases more than it frustrates.

So, based on what she wanted, I got down to working on a simple chiffon cake, just for me to know if i could still do a decent job out of it.

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It’s an orange marmalade chiffon cake and I thought I could dress it up as a lion using a piping tip to make its mane. I have used a normal cake pan instead of the tube pan that is used for chiffon cakes.

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To make the eyes and nose, I used a portion of the chiffon batter and added charcoal powder to it.

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Tip 898 – nose
Wilton tip no. 2 – eyes

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And I used a chocolate pen to do up the finishing touches.

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Made a batch of swiss meringue buttercream because it’s less work than the Italian method. Now with two kids, I really ought to make things easier for myself.

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Add some orange colouring to the buttercream to create the type of lion that is often illustrated in storybooks.

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There you have it. Can he pass off as the king of the jungle?

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Moist and light! Perhaps I should start baking for others now and revive #twenty12byjann, just for interest’s sake?

 

Dan @ 9 months old


Dan turns 9 months old today.

:: Can crawl on all fours

:: Is starting to cruise and loves to pull out stuff from the shelves

:: Has five teeth. Loves to nibble on apples and rock melon. Prefers carrots and peas to meat. Still can’t chew and needs puréed food. Can drink from a straw cup.

:: Loves to come into the kitchen when Mama is cooking

:: Will always disturb the sister when Mama is teaching her. Likes playing with her flash cards.

:: Calls ‘mama’ when he is hungry

:: Can’t sleep through the night and will wake up 2 to 3 times for feed. Requires 2 naps per day, one at around 9am, another around 2pm.

 

Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

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And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.Slice to serve.