Monday, September 17, 2012

A very productive and much needed break!

It’s been a very long time since my hubby and I have been able to take a very long leave from work. So, it was nice that the opportunity came last raya when we could finally take a much needed break from work, and what’s more, this time, we didn’t get calls from the office while on our break! LOL!

Hari Raya this year fell on a Sunday, 19th of August 2012. We did not ‘balik kampung’ to Kota Bharu nor Johor Bharu this Raya because Aiman’s UPSR was another 2 weeks time after Raya, and we did not want the hassle of getting all stressed out being stuck in a jam and coming back to get all stressed out all over again trying to get Aiman to study for his UPSR.

Since Raya this year fell on a Sunday, we got an extra day off on Tuesday. I took Friday, 17th August, off to bake cakes and another day off on Wednesday, 23rd August off, just so that we can take extra care of the house.

I think our house has lacked attention from us for a very long time. *grin*

It was a very good 6 day break for us, and also a very productive one too! Most satisfying too, I must say!

No! No! No! I did not do any crafting at all last Raya break, even though I longed to work on my Postage Quilt-a-long, but, I have no regrets on not working on my craft this break, as I managed to really sort out and organize the house and made the house really nice, even though it was done after the actual Raya day itself.

To begin with, on Friday, 17th August, I spent the morning baking. I baked a cake for my MIL, a small cake each for my hubby’s aunts, Mak Zai and Mak Jah, and some cupcakes for the neighbour a few doors down the road as what the Malays call, “sebagai pembuka kata”, since we have yet to get to know this neighbour despite both of us have been living in the same neighbourhood for the past 18 – 20 years..

I thought why not bake them cupcakes as an opening conversation so that we can get to know them better.

I spent Saturday morning the next day frosting the cakes and the cupcakes with the help of Aiman.

He was eager to help out to decorate the cake for Tok Zai. I had no hand in decorating this cake. It was all his ideas.

I think it turned out pretty nice, wouldn’t you agree?

However, by the time it was time to decorate Tok Jah’s cake, he was already out of ideas, or, shall I say, he was just getting lazy and tired? LOL!

So, I ended up decorating Mak Jah’s cake, but I took some ideas from the cake he decorated for Mak Zai’s. Not too bad either, right? LOL!

For my MIL’s cake, my son gave me the idea to make a tiered cake. I have never in my entire life of making cakes have I ever tried making a tiered a cake, but, I thought, why not!

So, I set about baking 2 cakes – one bigger than the other.

I had quite a tough time frosting the cake though, as the frosting came out too soft to pipe. I had to work real fast and I had to put the cake into the fridge several times while working on it as the frosting began to melt.

Despite the problems though, I think the cake turned out pretty well, don’t you think so, especially this being the first time that I am doing a 2 tier cake? LOL! *wink*

My inspiration came from watching Cake Boss and Fabulous Cakes on TLC. I still have a lot to learn, but, I think it’s a start. Next year, I am going to try working with fondant, God willing.

Raya day was spent visiting my MIL’s house, the two aunts, Mak Zai & Mak Jah. By the time we were done visiting the 3 houses, we were tired and decided to head home, but not before we had a very interesting discussion with Mak Zai about owning a bungalow or a semi-detached house in the near future! LOL! More on that in a later post! *wink*

The 2nd day of Raya, Monday, 20th August, hubby suggested that we visit Ikea and Ace Hardware as he wanted to get some things to organise the house.

I have always been a big fan of Ikea furniture and I always get plenty of inspiration from their sample rooms that they have on show, so, of course I jumped at the opportunity to visit Ikea! LOL!

We came home from Ikea all excited and eager to put together all the items we bought.

In fact, we spent almost the whole of the next 2 days assembling all the items we bought.

What did we buy?

Well, for one, I got this step –up stool.

Since having the knee pain, I find it very difficult and at times, very painful, to climb up the plastic stool that I always use to reach the things placed at a higher level. So this step-up stool was just perfect for knees like mine.

Aiman and hubby put this step-up stool together while I put together the 6 plastic chairs which we bought to be used together with our next item we bought from Ikea – a expandable dining table for our kitchen.

We have been using a 36” round table bought at a furniture store in Bandar Utama as our dining table in the kitchen for quite some time already. It suited the 3 of us fine. Even when I had my brother Azan who stayed with us for 4 months when he first started working, the table still suited the 4 of us. BUT, when my mum comes and stay with us on and off and when our other siblings comes for a visit, the table was no longer suitable.

Where did our formal dining table go, you might ask? Well, for now, our formal dining room has been temporarily turned into my sewing area. *grin*

So, we needed to get a dining table that could be converted into a table suitable for more guests coming to our house. What could be better than an expandable table that can be kept small on days when there are only the 3 of us, which is actually most of the time, but, when guests come a calling, ta’da, we have a table that can take up to 8 people!

Awesome, right?

The next area which went through a transformation was our courtyard.

We have an open shoe rack in our courtyard, and sometimes, or, shall I say, most times, this area can get quite messy if we get too lazy to put the shoes and slippers properly on the shoe rack.

What better way to hide all those disorganized shoes and slippers out of sight than a closed shoe rack and what better shoe rack to get than a slim shoe rack from Ikea! LOL!

So, out goes the open shoe rack, and in comes this very slim white shoe rack.

What a difference it made to the place! By adding 3 pots of flowers, yes, they are real flowers, on top of the rack, made this area look even better.

The old open shoe rack now has a new place by the pergola.

I did not want to actually throw it away, but instead I wanted to use it when we have many guests that drop by at the same time.

I made it look homely by adding potted plants on the top row of the shoe rack instead of putting shoes on it. I think it made such a difference to the area.

If the things bought from Ikea weren’t enough to get our house organised, the next day, Tuesday, 21st August, we went to Houz Depot in Kota Damansara to get more things to further organize our house.

What did we get at Houz Depot?

Wait for the next posting to find out! *wink*

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Did you know.....?

....that there is an Arsenal female football team?

You don’t? Shame on you, Arsenal fans! There is, and their team logo is exactly like the original, but in pastel shades to reflect their faminity.

Heheh.......kidding, people!

I definitely don’t want to get into trouble with the Arsenal fans nor Arsenal themselves, so, I’d better apologize.

Of course there is only one Arsenal team, but, I am not to be blamed for the Arsenal Birthday Cake that I made for my nephew that did not turn out with the right colour. Blame it on the cake and baking supply shop for running out of the right red, blue and gold colouring and running out of supply of the white vegetable shortening just when I needed them most! *sulking*

Heheh.... *wink*

Sorry! Drama sikit. *grin*

Ok, but, the reality is that I really could not get the right red, blue and gold colouring and the shop did run out of supply of the white vegetable shortening which would help in getting the colours closer to the actual Arsenal logo colour.

My SIL, Eina, had initially ordered a Carrot Cake for her family as a Raya Cake. It was initially supposed to be decorated as a normal Raya cake or just plain Carrot Cake, and in my head, I was trying to plan how to decorate the cake with some sugar flowers and raya decorations when she sent me a message on FB a few days before the 1st of September, asking me if I could decorate it with something to do with football or Arsenal since her whole family is a great Arsenal fan, and since by coincidence, the day that she was to pick up the cake, it was her son, Amirul’s birthday.

Can I blame my SIL for telling me late about wanting it to be an Arsenal Cake instead of a normal Carrot Cake? Yeah! Blame it all on everyone else but myself! LOL! *wink*

Kidding, Eina!

Thank you, Eina, for entrusting in me a ‘project’ which I am sure you thought I’d deliver successfully, but which I must apologize, as I think I failed miserably in the decoration part. BUT, I assure you, the taste of the cake is GREAT! LOL! *wink*

Honestly, I thought that I could find time earlier in the week to get the things I needed, like the colouring and white vegetable shortening for the frosting, but fate has it that it was a busy week at home and at the office front.

I ended up not being able to find time to go to the usual cake and baking supply shop I frequent in Kota Damansara where I am very sure I would be able to get the right food colouring and other stuff I needed to make the cake.

Instead, when I find myself simply short of time, I had to settle to drop by a small cake and supply shop in USJ. My alternative plan or Plan B if I am not able to get the right food colouring was for me to buy a decorating set of football players and goal post, which, again, I know, in the shop in Kota Damansara, they would have.

I had plan on making a cake of a football field as an alternative. Alas, the cake supply shop in USJ did not carry the football decorating set either. :(

I did, however, managed to get a bottle each of red, blue and gold food colouring, but it was a brand that I am not familiar with, but it got me all excited anyway to do the Arsenal logo as the logo did not look too difficult to do. Alas, they did not have the white vegetable shortening.

I bought the normal yellow shortening anyway, hoping that I could whisk it until it turns white and fluffy, but while I was whisking it for some time, I remembered a baking friend telling me that over whisking the shortening could take the butter cream too soft to pipe. So, I stopped whisking it before it could turn totally white, and added in the colouring.

That’s when I realised that I am no to going to get the right colouring to match the logo as the yellow base colour of the butter cream made any food colouring added to it turn a pastel colour.

Even after I added so many drops of the red and blue food colouring, the colours remain pastel.

I wanted to call my SIL to tell her that I wouldn’t be able to make a cake with the Arsenal logo in the right colour, and to ask her if I should proceed or should I just decorate it with something else. But, it was already past midnight on the 31st of August when I got to the point when the colours simply did not turn out right. I had actually only started on decorating the cake at close to 11.30pm.

Yeah! I think I will blame my boss (kidding, Boss! *wink*) for making me start late on decorating the cake, as I had to help out at my boss at his daughter’s wedding rehearsal.

My target was to start decorating the cake after dinner at about 8.00pm. But, when one thing lead to another at the rehearsal (through no fault of his, actually), that by the time I was done at my boss’s daughter’s wedding rehearsal (I am honoured that my Boss has asked me to help out at his daughter’s wedding), I ended up arriving home only at 10.30pm (after we stopped by for dinner on the way home).

By the time I got all the things ready for me to start on the decoration, it was already close to 11.30pm.

I did not want to wake up my SIL at 12.00midnight only to tell her the not so good news. So, I decided to proceed anyway, as I think that at least I got the logo almost right, and also, if it is of any consolation, I know for sure that my Carrot Cake tastes good and almost all my nieces and nephews would swear by it that even the top most cake shop in town can’t beat it! LOL! *wink*

Right, Sarah and Kuyana? *grin*

I finally finished decorating the cake at 1.30am. The result?

An Arsenal cake for the female team! LOL! *wink*

Again, I apologize to my SIL, Eina, and to the birthday boy, Amirul, for failing to deliver the right Arsenal cake, but I hope you all will still enjoy the cake.

HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY, Amirul!

Next year, I think, if my SIL orders a Birthday Cake from me again (Who am I kidding? You think she will order from me again after this blunder? LOL!), I am just going to make a cake of a football field. And, this time, I think I am going to buy the things early in the year for just in case! LOL! *grin*