Friday, February 21, 2014



I know. February's almost coming to an end and I still haven't put up my February Giveaway. It's coming, it's coming.

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Well, it's been nearly two months since school term started. Our Singapore school calendar starts on the first working day of January and ends in October. One thing I've always hated about school term is waking up at 6am. Really, nothing can compare to being wrenched out of bed when the alarm goes off at 6am. For me, it's very important that I get out of bed the minute the alarm goes off. Otherwise, I'll very easily go back to sleep and wake up hours later and we don't want the kids to miss school. I have one main alarm that goes off at 6am. It's very loud. Then I have 10 other alarms on my iPhone. Less loud and I really could sleep through Bruce Springsteen's Hungry Hearts. (that's my alarm ringtone)

I have 2 kids, a boy and a girl to wake every morning. The girl, 15 this year is easier to wake. My boy, 17 this year is an absolute nightmare to wake. I had thought that junior college would start school later. Nope, it's still 7 freaking 30 in the morning. It takes at least 5 rounds of poking, shaking, calling just to get son's eyes open and his legs off the bed. That's about 10 minutes. Next, after washing up, it's very possible he goes back to sleep while putting on his uniform. I have to be as alert as a ninja every morning. If he falls asleep half dressed, I have to call out his name - in a tone not too high-pitched but firm enough to show I mean business. Once he's dressed the battle is not over yet. He has to put on his shoes. Again, he could fall asleep on the chair. A few more gentle waking calls. I feel I've accomplished something great every morning once I get my son on his way to school. And these "battles" are pretty much what happens from Mondays to Fridays.
I find it very hard to sleep early so I get 8 hours of sleep. Somehow, as the night gets quieter, my desire to work gets stronger. Because I don't get enough sleep, I end up napping in the morning. If I don't nap in the morning, I'll fall asleep in the late evening. Yes, I have become an old person. Incapable of staying awake. It's quite pitiful.

I long for Sunday when I can have my "revenge sleep".

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This year I'm committed to cooking dinner from Mondays to Fridays. I'm a terrible cook and in the past I've relied on buying cooked food from food courts. But this year I've reached the point where I'd rather eat a home made sandwich than buy from food courts. I am only able to cook a few items - grilled chicken, curry chicken, chilli prawns, fried rice and ham/cheese sandwich. See, that's only good for 5 days. I've considered going to the community centers to pick up cooking skills but my lack of commitment is preventing me. Yes, we eat vegetables too. Mostly boiled in water or stir fried.

Oh speaking of sandwiches which I like to eat for lunch when I'm sick of the food courts, lately I've turned to my best friend - canned food. I stir fry onions, mushrooms with sardines/tuna and I use these as a filling for sandwiches. I've discovered using olive oil makes a huge difference!

This is what I made for hubs today. He declared it bland. Hainanese men need their chilli.

I'm currently going through a grapefruit phase. From time to time, I would loooove a particular food and eat it every day until I get sick of it. When I was in my 20's up till the birth of my son, I had to have freshly squeezed orange juice. I would have continued drinking it if my MIL hadn't spoilt it for me. (long story) I substituted orange juice with grapefruit juice but that too lasted only a few years. One day I started eating the grapefruit instead of drinking the juice. That was when my kids were still in kindy. It was really hard to find grapefruits in my neighbourhood and one desperate day I found myself taking the train for one hour to get to Isetan at Orchard just to buy 7 grapefruits to last me one week. It was so pathetic I soon gave it up. Much to my delight, recently I found grapefruits at my neighbourhood supermarket and they don't taste bitter like the regular grapefruits I'm used to. They taste like, like... heaven!!! I tell hubs I eat one a day but some days I secretly eat two. They cost $2.95 for 3 so I won't exactly go into debt.

Then there was the time I ate chicken rice from a specific stall. Lasted about a month and then one day I couldn't eat it no more.

I went through a mee siam phase too wanting to try every mee siam I came across. I don't have a photo of mee siam but it's a spicy noodles. Just google it. Tastes good only if it's cooked right. I stopped looking for mee siam to try when I realised most sellers sell very bad mee siam.

Oh, I almost forgot about my curry chicken phase. I was living with my MIL and she discovered my love for curry chicken. Sadly, one time she went abroad and before she left, she cooked enough curry chicken to last me a whole week. Stupidly, I ate the curry chicken every day until it was all finished. Then I could not eat curry chicken for a long, long time. Years.

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Since last year I have been thinking about learning to bake bread. I've tried to bake bread on my own before from books. But I failed miserably. I don't want to keep saying I suck at baking and I really love to eat bread so if I am able to make my own bread, win-win. There is a course coming up soon and I was thinking of forking out the course fee. Yet I feel so afraid. I imagine going for the course and still end up not being able to bake bread.

I just want to know from those of you who bake your own bread.

How hard is it to learn to bake bread and have the bread turn out edible?

And remember that I suck at baking.

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I haven't been sewing much lately but I've been busy drawing - on paper and on Illustrator (a vector graphics editor).

This tablet is what I use when I draw on Illustrator. It is the most basic tablet (and the cheapest) you can find in the market but for my current needs, it's enough. It's like a drawing pad and you use the pen to draw on the surface exactly like how you would use a regular pen. Except, it's not as easy as it sounds. I have this tablet since last year? Or even earlier? I forget. Anyway, I started out using Photoshop Elements with the tablet and that was so much easier. But Photoshop Elements has many limitations to what I want to achieve. I've also used Coreldraw and I'm more familiar with Coreldraw which is a pretty hardcore vector graphics editor. But last year I switched to Indesign for my patterns and since Illustrator comes with the package, I might as well learn to use it. I want to say Illustrator is pretty awesome but very steep learning curve for someone with zero experience with vector graphics.

Anyway, I have created a few applique designs for sale sometime in the future and a few will be for free.

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Lastly, I should mention something about my bag patterns. Yes, I do want to start work on new patterns. I have started on the drafting, etc but all on paper. The thing is I am so obsessed with drawing right now...

Have a great weekend. We'll be busy doing these:
- haircut for kids
- watch Dead Poets Society for son's class
- sleeping in (me)


Corinna said...

I bake our own bread, buns, sweet and savory..dark and blonde..even pretzels...but the real ones not the crap auntie Anne's ones...I'll teach's very very only need a little nit of patience

opportunityknits said...

I know exactly what you mean about waking up at 6 am. I have a 14 year old boy in Sec sch, thanakfully he springs upin bed when I call him.
I'm also with you on cooking. I used to tarpao a lot because it's so convenient. But lately because of health reasons, we have to eat home cooked food. Dont worry, steamed and boiled food is way healthier than food court food. So you're definitely on the right track to giving you family a healthier future! Hang in there and keep going strong!

Nueyer Dua said...

Firstly, about bread baking. I used to bake bread the old fashion way once in a blue moon. Now, I have a bread machine and bake bread much more often.

As for simple recipes, check out some of my super simple cooking for ideas ;)

Jane said...

i used to hate waking up early in the mornings but something happened and now i'm a morning person. there were periods when i would just automatically wake up at 5 am and that's when i started my day. not it's more like 6. or sometimes 6:30. and i want to know what that heavenly grapefruit tastes like! i used to hate grapefruit! now i eat it but it's still so so sour. :)

Christel Goh said...

I (kind of) have those phases too, where I would crave for a certain food. Then, I would keep eating it for a week or so, cause I think I love it that much. Turns out not. :\

Sighs, at least your kids get to wake up at 6. I'd need to get up by 5:30am to get to school.

Projects By Jane said...

If you don't need anyone to wake you, then you are a super kid. If you need your mom to wake you, then I pity her. Hahaha.

Christel Goh said...

Haha! I wake up on my own for most of the time. If I'm woken up by my mum, chances are I'd be terribly late. :P

Fiona Markham said...

I bake my own bread Jane. I used to be really bad at it till I discovered this no knead recipe which means my bread is no longer like bricks, The crust is very tough but the bread is delicious - oh and a Dutch oven is known as a Le Creuset in Ireland/UK I.e. enamel covered cast ironware :)

Linda said...

I've been away and missed this post! And it's right up my alley! I, like you, go through food phases when I want a particular food every day until I'm sick of it! I'm older than you, so I have been through a lot more phases!
Bread is not hard to bake! I taught my daughter in law how to bake a very easy bread that is now a staple in their family. I will send you that recipe to try. My granddaughter also made it when she was 10.
I raised three sons. Teenage sons are notoriously hard to wake up in the mornings. I finally had to give each an alarm clock and tell them I would no longer wake them up. If they didn't get up, they would pay the consequences. (Being late for school should not be fun!)One son had to put the alarm across the room so that he wouldn't turn it off in his sleep. I was teaching school then and had to leave the house at a certain time. I threatened to make them go in their pajamas if they didn't have time to get dressed!

Tammy said...

omg Jane what a jam-packed blog post!!!
Good luck getting the kids up in the mornings. I gave up. If they miss school, it's their problem... it was stressing me out so much. (Unfortunately, my husband is not into the tough-love and he babies them and wakes them/drives when necessary. At least it's not me getting stressed anymore.)

I bake a lot of bread, I don't think you need a class, you just need to practice. Try this - This is a good standard recipe - Good ingredients are key, kneading a lot but not pinching the dough while you do it (then it will stick) & not adding too much flour (or it will be a brick). If it's humid outside, you need more flour, things like that can vary sometimes. Practice. Don't slice bread till it's completely cool (hard, I know, but very important). Everything tastes good toasted & with butter. Those are my tips.

I'm curious how you like your tablet. Mine is pretty old and I have had no success. CorelDraw no longer works with my new computer & I don't want to spend money on PS... so I'm not sure what I'm doing with the device anymore.

I'm jealous that you can get fresh grapefruit at all. Last time I had "fresh" grapefruit, it's because my mom shipped it from 1300 miles away. Ridiculous, I know.

Good luck catching up on sleep and the start of your very early schools.

Sarah_L_N said...

This sounds like a nice and easy bread, although I've not tried it yet
I have a bread maker, I'm too lazy to make it by hand!

Dawn-Rene said...

I used to bake bread using a recipe from "The Joy of Cooking" It made really great bread but it was very tedious and had a lot of steps. I found a wonderful book called "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. It doesn't take 5 minutes, more like 10 but still far simpler than most of the other recipes I have tried. I have two teenage sons (and they always seem to have 8 or 9 other boys at our house too) so we go through a lot of bread.
Since I have teenagers I know how much fun it is to get them up and out of the house in the morning. My oldest son plays in the high school jazz band. That class starts at 6:30 am every morning as a 0 period class. Since they have to be there, in the their seats music out and instruments warmed up and ready to play at 6:30 it means he actually has to be there by 6:15. Thankfully, we live very near the high school and my husband can drop him off on the way to work. I guess the fact that the 25 kids make it every day, most of them for the whole four years of high school, shows that they really want to play jazz. I would not want to be in a band if the practice is before the sun comes up.

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