Monday, June 16, 2008

Potty time!

We've started potty training Lauren. Rather accidentally, actually. She's started on solids already, and poo-ing in her diapers is no longer easy for her - she finds it uncomfortable and has been squirming in her pants every time she needs to poo, so we decided to put her on the bowl, and sitting to poo helps. She looks visibly more comfortable pooping and peeing in the toilet, and that's always good for all. Let's see how well this goes. The sooner she goes on the potty regularly, the lower my diaper bills. I have an agenda. *grin*

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vanilla cupcakes for Sunday School

Recipes make all the difference, and as expected, the first recipe I tried from the book I got in Sydney did not disappoint. This was the Crabapple Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes. I was sure to use only New Zealand butter as the book suggested, full cream milk, and all ingredients at room temperature. They rose very nicely, the nicest I've ever had from my oven, as in, every cake rose evenly and nicely with a slight dome, almost flat. Purrrrrrrrrfect! Of course, it should be noted that I also filled the cups very evenly, each weighing 55g exactly. I didn't get to try any though 'cos these were baked for the Sunday School kids to decorate for Father's Day today, and all 24 were snapped up even though there were only 10 kids in class. Some decorated 2 cakes - one for daddy, one for grandpa; others ate one and decorated the other. Judging from the fact that none took a bite and went, "Ewwww!!" the cakes must've tasted pretty decent. All in all, I think this recipe deserves an A*!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She grows so quickly

The photo to the left was taken when she was about 1½ months old. I had to prop her up to take the shot, supporting her neck carefully. At that time, I wondered when she would be able to sit up on her own and not need me to hold her all the time. I was lacking sleep and feeling so tired and defeated. It seemed almost painful (physically) to be a mum that I even wondered if I had made the right decision to become one.

Today, she sat on my lap as she has done countless times to date, and we took a few shots using the Photo Booth application on the Mac, something we've been doing quite regularly, it's almost a ritual. So soon, and she's 6½ months old already. She's able to hold her head up effortlessly, grab one foot with one hand, and stuff the other in her mouth while still looking glamourous (how does she do it? Hahaha.) In 6 short months, she's grown so much, I'm already looking at past photos and feeling the twang of nostalgia, praying that time will stand still or at least slow down a bit more.

Tonight, she sleeps on her own in her hammock. Still in our room, but she's learning how to fall asleep independently. Soon she won't even need me to get around, much less prop her up on my lap to take photo booth shots. She grows too quickly.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Afternoon tea

Wouldn't it be nice? Yes, I'm still dreaming and the dream's just got a bit more fancy. I'm now scouring the web in search of a nice dessert/teacake stand. You know, those cute little plates on a 3-tiered stand for presenting cakes and sandwiches at teatime. Of course I don't need one. I don't even have space for one. In fact, I so don't have space that the cupcake stands I bought are in my mum's place. But wouldn't it be nice anyway, to have one? KM says I need a bigger kitchen. I now think I do too. I never thought I did, and honestly didn't think I'd be baking this much when we got our home renovated. Just didn't seem like I had the time to back then and I thought that that would pretty much be life. Then I figured out the convection function in the microwave oven my sister gave me, and when baby came along, instead of having less time, I found the need to become more domestic. The need? Yeah, the need. The need to create a magical childhood for my little princess where teatime on the weekend is filled with cakes and sandwiches and hot chocolate and all those sorts of treats that are made by mummy. Not that my mum baked. She didn't. But we did do stuff together, like cross-stitching and simple crafts, doodling and writing, simple cooking. And there was always teatime. Mum didn't bake, but she would buy (mostly) chinese teacakes and crackers, and we'd have them with Milo, or milk. There was always teatime. Everyday.

Little Vicky won't get to have tea with me everyday because I'm a full-time working mum. But there ought to be time for weekend tea, and when she's old enough to have some, I will bake teacakes for her, and we'll eat them off pretty cake stands. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dreaming about baking cupcakes

I bought this book in Sydney after browsing through quite a few other cupcake books in the bookshops there. The recipes look rather good and I must say I have a good feeling about the cakes that could come out of it. I am now itching to bake. But the lazy, in-denial-that-my-holiday-is-over bug is still very much alive in my bones, and I can't bring myself to do much more than flip through the books we bought back (goodness knows why we buy books in Australia when they're so darn expensive there), surf and blog (this is the 3rd blog today already). When I eventually do get down to trying the recipes, I might post them here. In the meantime, I dream of ingredients and a tea cake stand which I don't need, but what the hey - it's fun to dream.

1½ weeks left

Time passes way too quickly when you're trying to rest. What is ironic in all of this, is that in order to get good rest, you try to finish up as much work as possible before the designated rest time, working late or over time in order to achieve that end, such that you end up getting very tired and the designated rest time ends up being insufficient; or you just simply can't finish the work before the designated rest time and you spend a good part of your rest time thinking about the work that's waiting to be done, and you end up not actually getting enough rest. Good rest means having enough time to sit until you rot. Then you will truly feel ready for work when it's time to get back to it. But there really is never enough time for such, is there?

For the reason that there isn't enough time to just space out and rot, the mind becomes perpetually wired up and unable to truly find the space to relax, which at least for me, results in a state of absolute restlessness. This restlessness in me leads to the inability to settle down to work properly, constantly being interrupted by the sense that personal pursuits, more commonly known as hobbies, must be fulfilled. I am certain that if I had the time to rot, I would not have any hobbies at all.

Therefore, since I have not had enough time in my mind to rot, I am now plagued with the absolute desire to find the perfect cupcake recipe that will rise to perfection and not pull away from the cupcake liners. That must then be followed by the search for the equally perfect cupcake frosting that is neither too sweet nor too soft so that it will hold its shape and taste without refrigeration. This in turn fuels the dream to be able to open a cupcake bakery like the ones I saw in Australia, which will likely remain a dream because I reckon baking cupcakes will cease to fulfill the category of "hobby" should it become a job. Nevertheless, I applaud and cheer for my dear friend and ex-colleague who actually quit teaching to become a pastry chef. Truly wow-worthy.

Then, there's also some scrapbooking which I feel must absolutely be done, because knowing me, the longer the photos stay in the computer, the less likely they will be printed and put in an album, and before long, the excitement to want to scrap those memories will die out. So, yes. I also need to scrap. I need to scrap Lauren's past 6 months; I need to scrap our Sydney holiday; I need to make nice layouts to place in my cubicle in the office; I need to fill the empty wall in our hall with pictures of us. I need, I need, I NEED! to have more time.

I have 1½ weeks left. I need to get enough energy and enthusiasm gathered to start thinking about and doing work.

Mourning the end of our family holiday

If only we could have 2 full weeks away together, but KM's work wouldn't allow it. *sigh*

We got back late last night, and already, KM's worked beckoned. Barely 10 minutes home and he had to rush out to meet a business partner, as usual, "Just to drop something off. Won't take more than an hour." Yeah rite. If I had a $1 for every time I heard that, I'd have a pretty decent piggy bank collection for Lauren already. That's a thought. I think perhaps I should charge him a dollar each time he tells me that and doesn't fulfill it. I'll soon earn enough pocket money for Lauren's first year in school.

So here I am, totally mourning the end of our family holiday. Actually, KM's not the only one with work beckoning, except his doesn't beckon passively with a red pen from a stack of papers on the dining table. Admittedly, phone calls are a lot more difficult to ignore. Unless you're like me. I just let the phone ring until the caller on the other end kills the call him/herself. I hate phone calls. It's true. Not that I never pick up calls or make them or have long chats with friends. I do. Just not often. Most times the instinct is to ignore the phone. The numerous phone calls (and phones - he has 3 mobiles and counting!) he gets therefore really upset me. I wanted to stomp on his mobile when it started beeping the moment we got off the plane last night. It truly signalled the end of our holiday. Not that it didn't beep and ring while we were in Sydney. It did. And there were idiotic, needy clients that kept him on the phone for some good 15 to 20 minutes while we were on holiday, but at least he couldn't drive out to attend to them. Barely home last night and he was out again! One day, I shall throw his phones into the rubbish chute. In the meantime, I shall try to enjoy the rain that I have returned to. At least it's not sweltering hot.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cupcake Holiday!

The highlight of my holiday has to be the cupcakes I'm getting to try at specialised bakeries. I had googled them out before we came, and found that they turned out to be pretty near where we stay. We actually stumbled upon the first one on Monday.

Here's the first cupcake I tried from The Cupcake Bakery. Chilli Chocolate with Chocolate Buttercream frosting. Just a hint of chilli. Not too bad. Not too sweet either. AUD$3.50 a piece at this bakery.

Kee Min decided he would have the Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream. Nice too. And again,while the icing was sugary, the overall taste was not too sweet. We had our cakes with hot chocolate, and it was a rather nice way to end a relative cold day.

Then we found Cupcakes on Pitt a block from our hotel on Tuesday. Their cupcakes are smaller. Mini cupcakes at AUD$2.00 a piece. Cupcakes on Pitt apparently sells award winning cupcakes, and indeed, they taste award winning!

This one's the Vanilla cupcake from Pitt. The texture's a lot fluffier and lighter. Not too sweet, very satisfying. The icing's a lot more "buttery", and actually not sweet at all.

This was my order. The Tiramisu. It was the icing that held the tiramisu flavour though. The cake was very chocolatey, very light, very yummy! Special mention must also be made of the hot chocolate. Much better than the one at Cupcake Bakery.

And today, I had the Honeycomb! KM stuck with his old, faithful Vanilla, but I thought I should try as many flavours as possible. Again, the honey flavour came from the icing. The cake was basically a chocolate cupcake, though I thought there was a little hint of honey taste in it. I wish they sold recipes too.

Well, tomorrow's our last day in Sydney. Maybe I'll buy a box of 12 tomorrow and try out the remaining flavours. Except Sticky Date and Blackforest. The thought's icky.

Walking Holiday in Sydney

It's been rather wet here in Sydney. In fact, the only day of sunshine was the Saturday we arrived, but we were too knackered then to do much, having hardly slept on the plane. Regardless, we've still been going on long walks through the city and parks in our raincoats with Lauren tucked in snugly beneath daddy's jacket in her Björn. She looks so cute in there, we've had many people stop to talk to her; a group of seniors took a photo with her last night! So with our little precious with us, we continue our trek through Sydney's Botanic Gardens, en route to Woolloomooloo for (apparently) good hotdogs and pies. Maybe we'll pick up some culture at the art gallery on our way.