Friday, March 26, 2010

Ajaran to speak :)

I've never made cupcakes ever in my whole life. Never. Ever.

Errr, MAYBE once during SRT lesson during my secondary school lah, kot? But, I seriously can't recall making them. So, maybe memang never ever, kot? (Hmmmm...It's so damn obvious that I was never paying attention during SRT classes, huh? Hehehe...)

And I had never ever had the urge, or even any intention of making cupcakes. Baking and me - we just don't gel that well. So, I never knew what actually goes in a cupcake mix. But, I do love looking at those lovely pics of cuppies, cakes, and the likes - posted in blogs and also on FB by all my kitchen diva friends. It is just amazing to see how creative and how patient they are to have been able to come up with all those works of art! And looking at their masterpieces, lagilah rasa macam tak payahlah I even try making them. You know what I mean?

But, today - the IMPULSIVE me did another impulsive thing.

I had planned to just make some Spaghetti Bolognaise for dinner tonight. I was just going through my kitchen larder to see if I had everything that I might need for the dish when I realized that we had run out of canned button mushrooms (I normally put these AND also some aubergines in the sauce to make a wholesome campak-campak all-in-one meal for the family).

Anyway, as I had already mentioned to Hilman this morning that I was making Spaghetti Bolognaise for tonight, I decided to ask Zaidi to divert to Grand Union - the local mini (or more like 'midi') market before heading back home after work. And it was JUST to get the canned button mushroom. And I promised the kids, "Yes, I only have ONE item to buy, while you guys can go and choose one DVD each upstairs".

But like all women out there who get rambang mata when they shop, my mata also got rambang....(Pretty bad, huh? Kat mini/midi markat also can tak hengat dunia...)

Just as I was reaching out to get the canned mushrooms, my eyes lingered alsewhere and kapaaawww!!! There they were - all the baking ingredients arranged so neatly and nicely on the opposite shelves.

And I just didn't know what got over me, and suddenly I had this brilliant (NOT! More like "CRAZY"!) idea of making cupcakes with the kids this weekend! And I started taking some of the items which I THINK I MIGHT need to make cuppies, off the shelves.

And my shopping basket which started off with just a can of button mushrooms, ended up with -

2 packets of Anchor Butter
1 box of Blue Key Superfine-Superwhite Flour
1 packet of Tepung Gandum Cap Wau (I also bought this, just in case that THAT was the only flour I need and not that fancy Blue Key stuff)
1 box of Van Houten Pure Soluble Cocoa (you can never go wrong with Van Houten, right? I grew up WATCHING my Mom used it in most of her baking anyway!)
1 box of Silver Bird Chocolate Chips
1 box of Bunga Raya brand White Chocolate Chips
1 bar of Van Houten Baking Chocolate
1 small can of Royal Baking Powder
1 small container of that colourful thingies you just sprinkle on biscuits and cuppies tu? (God... I don't even know what people call it!) Oh...I just went down to check. They're called "colour strands" :)
2 packets of castor sugar
1 packet of icing sugar
1 packet of soft brown sugar
1 dozen eggs
1 packet of those paper cupcake mould
1 cupcake aluminium tray

I think the kids got pretty excited jugak with the idea. But, I could see it clearly on Hanna's face when I told her my weekend plan. Her face just screamed out "Biar betul mak aku ni..." HAHAHAHA!

Anyway, with all the stuff kept in the boot, and as Zaidi started driving us home, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't have a mixer at home! I mean, I THINK I might still have the hand mixer which I used 14 years ago to mash up the potatoes and carrots to feed Hanna when she first started on solids. But, for the life of me, I really didn't have any idea where exactly I've stored that damn thing.

And it also dawned on me there and then that I also didn't have a proper oven at home to BAKE the cuppies. Crazy tak? I mean I do have my Microwave Oven which I normally use to defrost and reheat stuff, and also to cook my Honeyed Chicken Casserole, but, I'm not sure if the microwave actually has a specific mode/function for baking cookies! (Or do I just use the Convection Oven + Grill function to bake the cuppies? And before anyone asks - Nope, I don't know where the manual for the Microwave is. Someone, please help!!!)

And it also dawned on me that I didn't even know how to START making the cuppies. Aiyaiyai!!!

Ajaran songsang betul.

Normal people would normally find the recipes first, and then would make sure they have the oven AND the mixer at home first before getting the ingredients and attempting to bake, right? NOT the other way round?

I guess I'm NOT normal then.

Anyway, small matter. So, the first thing that I did when we reached home was to google up "Cupcakes Recipes" and of course, the one that caught my eyes were "EASY Cupcakes" - which, after reading the recipes, didn't seem "EASY" to make at all! Well, at least for my standard lah, kan?

And God!!! I learnt something new today, too. I didn't know that "Baking Powder" was NOT the same as "Baking Soda"! Did you guys know this?!

And for crying out loud, what exactly IS "Shortening", people???!!

I was just reading the recipes, and had not even started baking any cuppies, and I was already having palpitations. So, after 10 minutes, I started googling up recipes for Brownies instead.

Brownies seem easier and simpler to make. But, then again - with me doing the baking, anything can happen...(OR CAN'T happen).

Anyway, one thing for sure - IF I actually go ahead with this baking plan of mine this weekend, please do not expect any pictures of our experiment, okay?

I takut nanti ada yang put off langsung from eating cupcakes untuk selama-lamanya ;)

Wish me luck, y'all!! ;)

AN UPDATE - After reading a comment from my friend Azlina on Facebook advising me to follow the recipe to a 'T' and use the exact measurements given, AND that even if I didn't have a mixer, I could still do it using my hand, I've since, come to realize that I also don't have any measuring cups, spoons or kitchen scales at home. OR a proper mixing bowl for that matter...Hahaha!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Of sleeping (or lack of it) and cooking (breakfast, that is)...

Salams and Hi! :)

I'm just taking a break from going through my students' dissertations. My head is starting to pound, and the fact that I'm finding it more and more difficult to read small prints nowadays is not really helping. Must make a point to get bifocal glasses soon. THAT, and the fact that I get so sleepy easily, too! Signs of old age.

But, I guess that, i.e. being sleepy, is not really caused by old age (I'm in denial. I know. So, shoot me). I know for a fact that THAT is definitely due to lack of sleep. I've been getting only between 5-6 hours of sleep for most nights for the last 3 months or so. This may be quite normal for some. However, for my standard, that's way too short a time for my beauty sleep.

I used to get between 7-8 hours of sleep (when I had a maid once upon a time) simply because I didn't have to do the ironing and tidying and clearing up the kitchen after dinner (and sometimes supper). And I only woke up around 6:45a.m every morning when Ayah and the kids would leave for work/school because Bibik Dar would take care of breakfast and their bekal, etc. Heck, sometimes I would be sleeping throughout and didn't even get to say my "Bye-byes" and "Muah-muahs" to them before they left. I know...Bad Wifey...Bad Mommy... :(

I don't really mind sleeping late. It's the waking up early which I have issues with. Well, at least I HAD issues with it initially. I've gotten used to it, and I've realized that it's not too bad once your body and half-awake brain get used to it.

The thing is, I would set my alarm at 5:45a.m every morning. BUT, somehow or rather, I would wake up even before the alarm goes off, and normally when I open my eyes in the morning, it would be 5:30a.m or earlier. How annoying is that?!

And I also have another issue. Every morning, I would be screaming to myself (in my heart, that is)- "What are you cooking for breakfast, woman?!!" And it doesn't help when the FIRST thing Hilman asks when he comes down every morning is, "Mommy what are you cooking for today's breakfast?"

You see, Hilman never fails to take his breakfast. He would just eat whatever it is that I serve on the table. No questions asked. No complaints. As long as there's food. He's a happy camper :)

Hanna and Hasya, on the other hand, rarely take their breakfast. They will only do so if the food I prepare berkenan di hati, and depending on their moods. Normally, their usual excuse would be, "Still kenyang from last night's dinner la, Mommy..." (??!!)

As for Ayah, he never fails to take his breakfast, too, but, he doesn't really take much sometimes because, every morning he would have a B&B session(*) with his friend, Dr. So*ha*dy at TMC.

But, when I prepare breakfast, I would prepare for everyone, including for Zaidi - the driver. So, you can imagine the amount of food I have to finish when the girls decide that they don't want to eat. (But, sometimes I would get them to bring the food as bekal).

Anyway, here are some of the items on the breakfast menu that I normally prepare - depending on how rajin or how malas I am in the morning. And you guys will definitely know which ones fall under which category for sure by looking at the list.

Nasi Goreng
Mee Hoon Goreng
Kuey Teow Goreng
Maggi Goreng
Cereals with Cold Milk
Half-boiled Eggs with Bread/Toasts
Dim Sums and/or Pau (instant punyer, okay? Just steam them up ;))
French Toasts
Campbell/Heinz Soups with Bread
Tuna Kepit :)
Egg Kepit :)
Nuggets with Sunny Side Up
Boiled Sausages with Scrambled Eggs

And oh ya, this morning, for the first time, I made Kuey Teow Soup :)

Usually, I would finish cooking/preparing breakfast by 6:15a.m, and Hilman would be the first one to come down to eat, and by 6:45a.m everybody would have finished eating (if they eat, that is!) and left for shool/work.

And of course, how much work is involved for me in washing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after that very much depends on what I cook for breakfast lah, kan? Sometimes, I have to wash a few periuk belanga and kuali segala and kitchen utensils, on top of the pinggan-mangkuk, etc. Letih weh...

Truth be told, I've run out of ideas as to what else I can prepare in the morning. Please, please, please... I need more ideas for my breakfast menu, please. The easier it is to make, the better. The less utensils used EVEN BETTER! Hehehe! :)

What do YOU guys prepare/have for breakfast at home normally, ya? All suggestions are welcome, and very much appreciated ;)

Thanks, y'all ;)

And I only wished that I was one who could take afternoon naps easily, so that I could make up for all those hours of sleep lost, especially on long Friday afternoon lunch-breaks like today. But, alas, when it comes to this, my body and my brain don't seem to be able to work out a new routine which includes afternoon naps for me to follow and get used to :(

Sigh. Nasib badan...(dan otak...) :(

Monday, March 8, 2010

One month summary :)

Phew. ONE posting for last month. ONE. That's a record for me who used to blog quite prolifically :)

Blame it on the age. Blame it on my maidless status. Blame it on the weather. Blame it on my angin malas. Blame it on writer's block. And, oh yes - you can blame it on Facebook, too, as I find it lighter and easier to layan than my Blog :)

But, no - I'm not abandoning my Blog. It's too precious and too special to just be set aside. So many of my memories are in here, and of course - I've made so many wonderful friends through this blog of mine. So, have no fear. This blog is here to stay :)

This is for you, Amy ;)

Anyway, so many things have happened since my last posting.

I've made a major decision with regard to something which I had been working on in the last 6 years. I have not been happy, in fact - so many times I had been so depressed working on it. And I have not made good progress in the last 2 years due to so many things happening in my life. Ayah has been a gem and has supported me on my decision to just move on with life, and move on with so many things which I was not able to do in the last 6 years. Never did he ask me if I was sure of my decision. All he said was, "I want you to be happy... The kids and I need you to be happy...". And YES, I am so much happier now. Feels like a 2-tonne rock which I have been carrying with me in the last couple of years has been lifted off my shoulders. I am so blessed to have Ayah and the kids beside me. Nothing else matters. Syukur alhamdulillah.

I'm settling well with being maidless. It has been more than 3 months now. I've worked on a workable routine - if I'm able to do it, I'll work on it. If not, I'll pejam mata and work on it when I'm next able to do it :) Laundry kat dalam bilik belakang tu, toksah cakap lah... :) Selalu sangat pejam mata. Hahaha!

And, oh ya - we've got a new driver by the name of Zaidi. So far so good. He was working with my BIL before this sebenarnya, but my BIL felt that he no longer needed a driver. He prefers his wife to ferry their kids around, and he doesn't trust anybody to drive their cars. Senang cakap - he just doesn't trust ANYBODY with his kids and his cars. He was given the driver by my MIL's company, and I guess he felt obliged to take Zaidi in the first place. In the end, Zaidi was doing all sorts of filing work at his office.

So, when my MIL realized that he was not really using the driver as he should, my MIL suggested for Zaidi to be transferred to us. And the rest - is history :)

Zaidi ni pun, first impression working with us was not really good. But, we gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was supposed to report for work on 22 February, but that morning he called to inform that his motor rosak, and petang baru okay. Kalau ikutkan hati, mau jer suruh dia naik cab datang kerja, kan? But, sabar ajer lah... At least he called.

And last Saturday, he was supposed to come at 8:30a.m, and we got an SMS from him at 7:15a.m, saying that he could not come to work because he had to send his mother to the hospital. So, again - sabar ajer lah... At least he called. We gave him the benefit of the doubt. Again.

Hmmmm...I don't know how far and how long I can appease myself with this reason... Because I'm sure one of these days, I akan hilang sabar jugak, EVEN if he calls! But, for now - we beggars can't be choosers... But, overall - he's a much better employee than Sabarudin.

Oh ya... We finally traded in our old faithful Naza 2 weeks ago. The kids, especially Hilman, were sad to let it go. Kalau boleh, they want us to keep all our cars. Hilman said that when he grows up and have enough money, he will buy our Naza back :) And I thought that was so sweet of him. Anyway, we've got ourselves a Toyota Alphard in place of the Naza. And we're also thinking of trading in my ole Kembara as well, and membuatkan Hilman lagi sedih! He said, "Why Mommy?! We have so many memories in your Kembara..."( And yes, he wants to buy back the Kembara, too, when he has the money :))

At the school-front, the kids are doing well. They're having their March tests this week. And with all first tests of the year before this, Ayah and I have not really pushed them and/or sat down with them to go through their subjects. We normally just want to gauge their natural raw academic capabilities for every new academic year. Once the first results of the year are out, then only we strategize for each kid.

If their results are so-so, at least we can always tell them to look back at the results and set a target for them to always improve on the marks by studying. The problem is when they get really good results and they become complacent because tak study pun boleh score maaa! Anyway, we'll just have to wait and see.

Hanna's sitting for her PMR this year, and she's attending tuitions at two different tuition centres. One for her Maths, Science and Sejarah, and another for her BM. I hope they'll help her. She has always been a good student, but, I hope attending the tuitions and getting a better understanding of the subjects concerned will boost her self-confidence in her own capabilities more. She received the Sijil Kecemerlangan for her Form 2 academic performance early this year. The Sijil is given to all students who obtained more than 14 A's for their Mid-Year and Final Year Exams put together.

Hanna's also doing well in her co-curriculae activities. She's representing her school in Merentas Desa at the MSSD. She's also in the school Football and Handball Teams, and also on stand-by for their Netball Team (she played last year when the Form 3 players were busy preparing for their PMR).

She's also in the school Taekwon-do Team. She has been a Red-Black belter since she was 11, and had always been told that she could only sit for her Black-Belt exam when she turns 15 (which is in November this year). But she has just been informed by her coach who had assessed her during training, etc., that she can go straight to Black Belt without going through her grading exercise. Syukur Alhamdulillah :)

She's now busy practising for her Sports Day - she'll be representing Blue House in Shot-putt, Long Jump and also 1500m.

As with their Kak Long, Hasya and Hilman are also representing Green House in their Sports Day. Hasya's in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, Long Jump, and Shot-putt. While Hilman's in the Long Jump (I know, right?! I pun terkejut when he said he's in Long Jump!! My chubby baby! Hehehe!). He's also in the Shot-putt and Tarik Tali events. But according to him, during Latihan Rumah Sukan, when the boys practise tarik tali against the girls of Green House, the boys tak pernah menang. Hehehe! His excuse - there are more girls in Green House, compared to boys :) Me? I say - "Girl Power!!!" ;)

All three kids have been practising really hard now, and all three kids are now quite sun-burnt. And Hilman has lost his title of being "The fairest of them all" to ME! So, ME being the fairest now - you can imagine just how tanned the kids are! :)

Okay, I've over-extended my lunch break. Got to go now. Have to get back to work. Hope this posting has covered all that I've missed writing on in the last one month :)

Take care, y'all.

* And Dilla - I'll work on the tag SOON, okay? ;)