Panda cookies

The other day I was at Isetan Scotts and saw a whole array of Bento tools and cookie cutters and I couldn’t help but purchase some of them. One of the sets that I bought was the panda cookie cutters and I thought I should experiment with using it before I get Faith to work on it.

This set comes with the explanatory notes but they are in nihon-go!! Thankfully, the pictures are easy to follow and understand. So I used my usual butter cookie recipe and did up a batch of these cute cookies.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you may add other extract if you desire)
1 tsp charcoal powder

1. Sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the  vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together in large clumps (midway through, I gave up and used hands instead as the dough stuck to my mixer).
3. Press the dough together into a ball and divide it into half. Add the charcoal powder to one of them and knead into a ball.
4.Place each dough between two sheets of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 6mm thick. Place them in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to firm up. I place mine in the freezer.

5. Working with the charcoal dough first, use the black cutter to cut out the base of the panda. Place them on the parchment paper/ silpat in the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator.

img_5868

6. Next, bring out the normal dough and cut out the other details. This part is a bit tricky. I find that when I press the cutters too hard for the eyes and nose, they will crack. So I compress the cutter slightly onto the dough and use toothpick to carve out the eyes.

After that, cut out the head and place it on the body. You have to do it quick since the dough softens fast.

img_5872

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170C.

img_5875

They take a long time to do and I think it’s not suitable for Faith to work on; I will get exasperated! So bake for about 12 – 15 minutes depending on your oven.

img_5881

Ta-da! There’s definitely room for improvement but I will have to wait till the kids aren’t around when I make these again. I was babywearing Dan while making these so the quality is not that good.

img_5885

Dan wants his share too!

Happy Tuesday!

Advertisements

A dress for Faith, sewn with love

My mum was a seamstress and growing up, I was surrounded by different types of sewing machines that were used to piece the various parts of a shirt. And whenever those machines were not in use, I would try my hands on them, much to the annoyance of my mom (but she gave up stopping me in the end). Thus, sewing isn’t something too daunting for me.

My mom, though an extremely busy woman herself, would find time to sew dresses for me and now as a mother, I find myself wanting to do so for my daughter too. I contemplated getting a sewing machine but was afraid that such passion is, but temporary, and eventually it would turn into a white elephant. Moreover, I’m not sure if I’m still skillful enough to do a good enough job. After all, it has been many years since I last touched a sewing machine.

Thankfully, a dear friend, Amy, approached me and offered to teach me how to sew a sundress. How timely! She conducts sewing classes herself and what I needed to do was to give her the measurement of Faith according to a size chart and choose the fabric design that I want and I’m all ready to get started!

20150701_091814 (2)

While Faith was in school, I went for my sewing tutorial with much excitement. Amy first introduced me to the sewing machine that I would be using and went through the fundamentals with me. The sewing machines these days are so light and portable, unlike the ones that my mom used which are the big, heavy-duty ones.

20150701_102027 (2) 20150701_095036 (2)

After trying out the sewing machine for a short while, I was down to serious work. I spent the next three hours pressing the seams using the iron, pinning and sewing them. Initially, the workmanship was bad and I had to unpick some of the seams and re-sew. But it sure got better after a while.

20150701_094636 (2)

I find sewing therapeutic as I got the hang of it, all thanks to the patience of my dear friend. She was very encouraging and even when I made a mistake, I know it could be easily rectified.

20150701_102047 (2)Towards the end, I got a little too excited because I wanted to see the finished product. Oh, that anticipation! But I have to remind myself to go slow lest I make mistakes again!

20150702_102609 (2)

Last few steps: sewing the zip! I’m almost there!

ABM_1435820216

You cannot imagine how happy I was when I completed the sundress. This is my first dress for Faith and I have fulfilled a small, small wish of mine. Finally! Then I thought of my mom. I could not understand why she would bother to make dresses for me and my sis especially when she had tons to do but now I think I know. It’s really simple. It’s love. That is how she expressed her love for us, by doing what she’s best at to bless us, just like how she would always  prepare homecooked food for us.

ABM_1436072764

I was a proud mom the day when Faith put on this dress. Obviously, it is much easier and convenient to buy one off the rack but this one is special. It is made with love and I know there would not be many pieces out there. This particular one fits Faith to a tee and it looks great on her. I love the design of the fabric which is imported from the U.S. and overall, it’s cheaper than buying a quality dress from the shops (workmanship not included, of course. It’s made with love, after all).

I’m hooked. Shall I buy a sewing machine?:)

IMG_20150705_130335

Amy and her friend, Karen, conduct sewing workshops on blouses, skirts and dresses. The fees start from $80/pax for a 3-hour session which include all workshop materials and choice of premium fabrics. If you are interested, do browse their website for more information. They even hold classes for kids!

Sew into it
Website: http://www.sewintoit.com.sg/
Facebook: Please click here
IG: sewintoit_sg

WW: Enjoyable class

IMG_20140716_152203

 

Conducted this class for the first time today and thankfully I had very eager and teachable participants who made my day. They were so attentive and followed the instructions well and I must say they sculpted very well and covered the cakes wonderfully neat for first-timers! I’m impressed!

I’m getting so encouraged by them. Well done!

 

Cakes made this week

The last week of May saw me making two fondant cakes for my friends. Just a month or two ago, I declared that I would not work with fondant in this type of humid condition but my heart turned soft when my friends asked me to bake for their niece and nephew respectively.

This first cake was a chocolate cake for a 10-year-old girl. I was told she was a precocious girl and after browsing some pictures on my FB, she decided to go for a simple design – one with bow and stripes on the surface. V (the birthday girl) likes the combination of turquoise, pink and white and it shall be done for her!

IMG_20140524_154138

There were problems along the way. Due to the hot weather, my whipped chocolate ganache didn’t stay whipped. In fact, it soon turned watery which was a great cause of concern for me as I need to cover the cake with fondant. As a backup, I made a batch of buttercream (wilton method) and applied it on the ganache (crumb coat and first layer) in the hope that it will help to crust. To ensure that the fondant will not turn soft and thus destroy the cake, I put double layer of fondant on the cake.

20140524_123323 20140524_134612
20140524_140016

The bow never materialised as it cracked as I was about to put on the cake. I should have stuck to the same brand of fondant that I have been using all along. The current one that I’m using doesn’t really do well in terms of drying and can be rather fragile. Thankfully I took a picture before it cracked.

IMG_20140524_145517

 

Panic set in of course. I had a few more hours before delivery and I had to think of an alternative design and fabric roses came to mind. Along with some blossom flowers, there were 10 flowers on top, signifying her age. And I thought it turned out better in appearance (or am I trying to console myself?). I thought this cake was rather mature looking, good for a grown-up in fact. ;p

20140524_154054  IMG-20140524-WA0015

The 1.9kg chocolate cake decorated with fondant.

The second cake was a rainbow cake with chocolate ganache. My friend was easy about this. There was no need for much decoration except for some animal figurines for his 3YO nephew. I love making figurines and spent each night working on one since it is rather difficult to do so when the kiddo is awake. I had better do a good job for the figurines since they take the centrestage. The rainbow cake was baked and then put together on the day itself. Again, the chocolate ganache posed a problem since it got watery again in this weather although I have used the proportion of 1.5:1. Sigh! I should have just insisted on using buttercream since the 6-inch cake can get mighty tall and I need each colour of the cake to ‘stick’ well to the other.

2014-05-27 22.00.17

I actually had problem with the frosting and I panicked again. In the end, I decided to pipe some green leaves using buttercream to hide the ugliness and as usual, I place fondant on top so that the figurines could sit on it. The white fondant covering was intended to have a natural look in case you would think that I have made a mistake by placing it a little slant. I love the colourful letterings which was a last-minute idea that popped into my mind. At the 11th hour, I did the colourful bunting to complete the look.

20140526_192403
20140526_192355

I actually like the finished product! My friend was happy and said that her nephew loved the animals and kept admiring them even after the birthday and this absolutely made my day! All the effort was worth it! Together with the figurines, this 6″ cake weighs 2.1kg.

20140526_192322Rainbow cake seems to be well-liked by many these days eh? A fad?

20140528_175904

My garden theme cupcakes. I certainly hope to do more to complete the whole series.

20140527_175954  20140527_195003

 And the last cake for the week: Yuzu-vanilla lychee cake with whipped cream. I much prefer to use buttercream if you ask me since it won’t melt that easily in our climate. I did that for the lychee cake a few months back for a friend and received good review about it. I’ll post the recipe once I’m satisfied with the result. 😉

12371_10152089068494677_6079363468872185284_n
Lychee cake with buttercream

Surviving as a SAHM for a 1st time mum

Faith turns 18 months old recently and that means I have been a Stay-At-Home-Mum for that same period of time. Woohoo! It’s quite unbelievable that I could stay sane for so long knowing how much resistance I had for this role in the past. And, to be really honest, I am enjoying what I am doing now. 😉

Here’s sharing with you my 10 survival tips!

1. Take a morning walk

I started bringing Faith out for morning walks since she was a few months old. It can prove to be a refreshing start for the day as we breathe in the fresh air and appreciate all that nature has to offer. In addition, there’s vitamin D from the sunlight too! It really makes me feel good to be in the outdoors.

2. Playground fun

When Faith was beginning to walk, I started to make it a habit to bring her to the nearby playground(s) so that she could expend her energy, interact with other kids and gain confidence through working on the obstacles. It is also a good opportunity to have some interaction with the other parents (we need some adult conversation, no?). After each session, the kiddo will normally get tired and nap rather quickly. That means I have time to do other stuff! Yay!

3. Don’t be paiseh (shy) to accept help

I used to think that being a SAHM, I need to be responsible for all domestic affairs, big or small, during the day when the hubs is at work. I took it upon myself to carry them out until I realised it is near impossible to do every single stuff  well when there is a kiddo who needs you most of the time, especially during the first year of her life. That’s when my parents and father-in-law come into the scene. Initially, I felt really terrible to have them help out since they are rather old but I realised that they actually want to spend time with the little one who brightens their day. My father-in-law, for example, is one awesome man. He would travel to my place without any complaints when we need him, play with Faith and then iron the clothes that are piled up like a mountain. On some days, he even helps to mop the floor! Do I feel bad? Absolutely! But the hubs has convinced me that this is his way of showing love to us and I would have to accept his kind gesture. So, there you go, if your folks or friends volunteer to take care of your little one, just take it up!

20140403_132835-MOTION

4. Go and have ME time 

If you have heard fellow mums who told you that ME time is important and that you need to have some time away from the kiddo, do heed their advice. There are times when both Faith and I have enough of each other. She’s bored of me and I’m frustrated with her. That is when I know I need to chill and be away from her. So, #3 comes in very handy. I will call my dad for help who’s always so willing to see her grand-daughter while I go for a coffee break, to the library or just window shopping. These short moments of being away from her can be rather magical because I feel restored and rested and both of us are happy to see each other again!

5. Have a hobby!

I don’t believe that we have to centre our lives around our children as SAHMs. Yes, we have our responsibilities but we are also unique individuals with passions in life and they don’t have to stop when we become SAHMs. Start a hobby. Continue to do what you love. It could be craftwork, baking, sewing, blogging, etc (these can all be done at home!). I take my hobby – baking and cake decorating – further by going for courses. In this way, I could interact with like-minded adults and make more friends (being a SAHM can be rather lonely at times). Do I miss Faith when I’m away from her? Yes! And you bet I would always be the first one to fly home so that I can see her again.

6. The kitchen as a learning lab

I spend a great amount of time in the kitchen. Besides preparing meals, I bake quite often as well. We do not 20140501_120308have any playpen in our home and Faith is free to roam. However, she would much prefer to stay with me in the kitchen. So, I allow her to play in my territory and that includes a lot of drawer opening and playing with the baking stuff. I realised that the kitchen is a great learning lab for her. For example, she is often told not to go near the oven when I am baking and there was once that she disobeyed and touched it. She definitely learnt a lesson then and from then on, she would stay clear of the furnace when she knows that I’m baking. She helps me throw rubbish in the bin and puts bottles back into the refrigerator after I’m done with them. Recently, she gets curious with vegetables as I was washing them and tasted them raw.You should have seen her facial expression! But in the end, she was okay with the coriander leaves.

20140521_172329-MIXObviously, she does a good job in messing up the kitchen but it’s really manageable. I’ll clean up the things that she plays with but hey, I get to complete the cooking or baking! That’s a good deal, me thinks!

20140522_122848 20140516_161809 20140323_201040

7. One dish meal is still a good meal

Gone were the days that I could be bothered with trying out new dishes. Now, the meals that work for me would be those that could be whipped up in a pan, pot or cooker, much like throwing everything in a pot of stock and we have a decent meal! Thankfully, the hubs is not particular about what goes into his stomach.

8. TV programmes for Faith? Hi-5!

The hubs and I don’t really like Faith to be glued to the box and we do not allow her to play on the phone (not now). In fact, we seldom watch TV programmes. However, recently, we have access to Disney channels and we allow her to watch Hi-5 which turns out to be really helpful. Faith loves the show – the songs and dancing – and she could sit on the sofa quietly and watch the show by herself. Imagine how much chores I could complete in that 30 minutes! Awesome! I love Hi-5!

9. Be connected with other mums

I don’t think anyone can survive on their own. Parenthood is a tough journey and we would need all the support that we can have from like-minded friends. SAHMs have it tough in the sense that we do not have much adult interaction which can be really depressing. I find being connected with other mums helps a lot. My spirit is often uplifted after those meetups or gatherings because I know that I am not alone in this journey. Having more experienced moms in the group is crucial to me since I can learn from them as well. After all, I am a first-time mom and still a green-horn. 😉

10. Have fun

I say this with all sincerity. Have fun. I started out this journey with bitterness and discontentment, often thinking about how life would be like if I had not agreed to be a SAHM. But hey, now I don’t have deadlines to meet and I can learn together with the kiddo and have fun with her. Being a SAHM doesn’t mean you have to stay at home all the time. In fact, I find myself going out more often, bringing Faith out to play and explore. It’s like reliving my childhood too! There are definitely many downs but I have learnt that if I take a light-hearted approach to situations, I can stay happy and contented. Remember this: A happy mum = A happy child = A happy husband = A happy family! Does this make sense? Hmm…

I guess things would be a tad different if I have more than one child. Perhaps, having one is still manageable, eh?

The next mum to share is Angeline! She has been a stay-home mom for almost 6 years now. This beautiful lady is mom to two lovely children who have given her new insights to life as she now finds herself on a journey of re-discovery of the world through their little eyes. She shares her SAHM survival guide tomorrow on her blog, Simply Mommie.

DSC_0510-1

This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!

WW | #ilovewhatido

“When God closes a door, He opens another…”

I’ve been a SAHM for a year now and though it was a big adjustment initially, I’ve grown to appreciate the moments that I could spend with Faith and to witness her many milestones.

A year later, it’s time to shed this title. I consider myself blessed to have found something that I love to do and which gives me the flexibility in terms of time to commit to it. After all, I still need to take care of Faith who is my priority.

Here’s what…

20131204-200802.jpg

Linking with

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

colourwheel

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:

IMG_7776

Fabric roses
Embossing and painting of plaques

IMG_7953

IMG_7936 IMG_7938 IMG_7941
Making of fruit basket
The cloth is made entirely from fondant. Reccommded colours to dust on fruits are sage, lime and cinnamon.

IMG_8108

   IMG_8093 IMG_8094
IMG_8095 IMG_8098
Ribbons and drapes

IMG_8283A Christening cake for a girl

IMG_8425

A ballerina

IMG_8439
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!

Cake pops and babyface cupcakes

It really stemmed from boredom (doesn’t equate to being free), boredom from the mundane of my daily routine that I thought of baking cupcakes for my small group that comes over every Saturday evening for Bible Study and Fellowship. After the cupcake base was baked, I took a step further to hone my fondant skills and thus these babyface cupcakes were born.

20130819-082227.jpg

These are the equipment that you need.

These are the equipment that you need.

With the remaining cupcake base, I decided to make cake pops for the kids in my small group. Why didn’t I think of that?

20130819-082203.jpg

First line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Then place milk or white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally just until melted. Crumble the cake into the melted chocolate, and stir until well mixed. The proportion of milk chocolate to cake crumble is 1:2.

20130819-082300.jpg 20130819-082313.jpg

Then roll the mixture into balls, each about as large as a golf ball or smaller, depending on the size you desire. Insert a lollipop stick into each ball and place on the lined baking sheet (I use a plate) and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. I leave it in the fridge overnight until I’m ready to make the chocolate coating.

20130819-082329.jpg 20130819-082239.jpg

To make the chocolate coating, place {milk} chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally just until melted. Remove from the heat and if you want to add colours, now is a good time.

Remove the cake pops from the fridge and dip each one into the chocolate coating and insert into a styrofoam board/cup so that you can have a perfectly round shape. Before the coating sets on the cake pops, I roll them in sprinkles (whatever you have). I had wanted to decorate using royal icing but in the end, laziness took over. ;P