Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June Bag Patterns Sale

Hello friends,

In my family, there are many June babies. My 3rd sister, my younger brother, my SIL, my cousin, hubs and of course me. Etsy is also a June baby. Well, we can't call Etsy a baby anymore. She's now 13 and constantly asking for money! From July, my Etsy teen is asking telling me to up her "commission" from 3.5% to 5% every time she "speaks" to me. On top of that, I may have to pay her a monthly fee to have the privilege of continuing to live with her. I think I raised her wrong.


In honour of all June babies, my Etsy shop is having a 25% discount off all my digital bag patterns. No coupon required as discount is automatically applied. Sale ends 25th June 2018 (Singapore time). 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

$20 Million Selfie

So you guys heard about the historic Trump-Kim summit which took place today in Singapore? Dunno? Don't care? Well, it happened.

In the lead up to the summit, our prime minister revealed that Singapore was footing the bill for hosting the summit. The total cost which covers security, communication, food etc including the North Koreans' hotel stay came to a staggering $20 million (plus minus). Thankfully the Americans are paying for their own lodging. Whew!

When I first learnt about the $20 million, I was like wtf! But in the end, someone has to shoulder the cost and like what our prime minister has said, it's in our profound interest for regional peace. Plus we get our country in the history book. Woo hoo!

Hubs meanwhile was busy racking his brain for ideas on how to help the North Koreans raise money for their accommodation. "Inspired" by two Trump-Kim impersonators who flew into Singapore to cash in on the summit - charging $15 for selfies, hubs came up with a brilliant idea - how about the real Kim take selfies and charge I dunno, maybe more than $15? You can read his column here if you want.

I think Kim must have read hubs' idea because this happened.

$20 million selfie
Our foreign minister Vivian (left) took Kim out for some night fun and took this selfie. I don't know if you know this but photo taking of Kim is not allowed. At least that's what hubs learnt when he went to North Korea. So I'm assuming this selfie which Kim gamely posed for is some kind of payment?

To commemorate the historic summit hubs has got a Kim haircut. The last time he cut his hair, also Kim style was in 2016 in North Korea.

This is how much his hair grew over two years. It's been a nightmare. Sometimes he doesn't shampoo his hair...

I'm so glad the summit happened because for over two years hubs has been saying he'll never cut his hair again since his last haircut was so special. Thank you Kim for swinging by. Thanks to you, I no longer have to comb his hair.

p.s. Hubs is charging $10 for selfies with him

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sweet Potato Buns

I don't know if you know this about me. I LOVE sweet potatoes. Especially Japanese sweet potatoes. The ones sold at Isetan are from Japan and expensive.  Well, once in a while when the cooked ones are available, I buy one as a present to myself. But I hate to pay so much money for sweet potatoes so if I'm at Orchard and I remember, I buy the uncooked Japanese sweet potatoes from Don Don Donki.

I also love to eat bread. Sweet potato + bread = 2 things I love to eat. Mind blown. Except it's hard to find good sweet potato bread at local bakeries. Believe me I've hunted and tried a few not so good ones. 

So I decided to make my own. Not that I'm such a skilled baker. When it comes to enriched bread, it's very obvious when bread isn't good. With plain sandwich bread, the mind is very forgiving. I mean, it's called plain bread.

I googled and looked at many sweet potato bread recipes. Finally I thought this blogger's recipe was something I could reproduce in my kitchen. The recipe I followed was Japanese Purple Sweet Potato pull-apart buns from her book Low Sugar Cakes and Bakes.

I used sweet potatoes from Vietnam because they were cheap but the flesh was yellow and not purple at all. After I had added mashed sweet potatoes to the dough, the dough became very tough. I think I added a bit of water but the toughness stayed. Still I went through with the whole proofing process. The dough did expand but not as much as what I expected based on my experience.

When I took the buns out of the oven, they were super heavy. I had a bad feeling the buns would not taste good. And I was right. They tasted ok, if you're not picky. But for me, when it comes to enriched bread and remember you're eating all that extra calories, I'm super picky. I tried to eat one but I could only eat half. The taste, the texture, it was just so-so. I was very disappointed. In the end, I threw away the buns.

I was still determined to get my sweet potatoes buns. Remember my old pal Alex Goh? Once upon a time I was crushing so hard on Alex Goh's Magic Bread. I still bake his sweet bun now and then! I was pretty sure he has a sweet potato bread recipe somewhere and I found it in his book Baking Code. His recipe requires an overnight sponge. I used the same Japanese sweet potato from Vietnam and this time, apart from the mashed sweet potato, I made extra (but not mashed) so I could put some pieces inside the buns.

While the buns were baking in the oven, I already knew I had a winner. They smelt fantastic!

 I didn't have enough extra pieces of sweet potatoes, so some of the buns were plain buns.

Demmit! The ones with the sweet potatoes inside were super good. The crumb was soft and fluffy. When you eat it, you don't feel full right away. And you want another one. I'm definitely making these buns again once I get hold of some Japanese sweet potatoes from Don Don Donki. If you don't have Baking Code, a blogger kindly copied the entire recipe and put on her blog.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Quinoa I Love You Not

Since I had to stop eating rice early this year, I've been relying on bread and wheat noodles for carbs. I love bread but I don't love wheat noodles. I love rice noodles though but I can't think about them anymore. I know what you're going to say. Why not potatoes? Well, I'm more of a sweet potato kind of gal. I'm okay with eating potatoes now and then but not more than once a week. So I had to turn to quinoa.

Do you remember in school there's always that one student who's brilliant and fantastic in every way and you want to be good friends with her because she's brilliant and fantastic in every way. But... you're just okaaay with her and at best you're an acquaintance but you'll never be besties.

Quinoa is that student. Brilliant and fantastic in every way. (it is a superfood) But I don't love it the way I love my rice noodles.

I eat quinoa because some days I'm sick of wheat noodles and bread. And I crave something that is rice-like. Quinoa is my rice substitute.

I don't know how to describe the taste of quinoa. There is a distinctive taste but it's not one that makes you go yum. Neither is it horrible. Very middle of the road.

I cook 1 cup's worth each time and store whatever I cannot eat in the fridge. It keeps quite well. I simmer it in 1.25 cup's water for 15min and exactly after 15min, all the water is gone and the quinoa is perfect. When I first started eating quinoa a couple of years ago, I watched this video on how to cook quinoa and it really works.

Quinoa is very good for my stomach. When I eat it, I never feel bloated.

This is my quinoa lunch, cooked fried rice style. This is how I usually eat it.

I'm not particular about the brand of quinoa. This current packet is ridiculously expensive but I bought it because it was on sale. I've tried different kinds of quinoa except the red ones. I might try them one day. Maybe they'll taste like rice?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

What May Made

Hi guys,

It's unbelievable but here we are on the last day of May. Times flies when you're not paying attention.  How was May for you? May in Singapore was full of heat and rain and then more rain. It felt like I didn't do much but I was busy every single day. A friend asked me recently if I feel bored staying home most of the time but I can honestly say I'm rarely bored. I guess I always have a To Do list that seems endless so I'm frequently in a crossing another item off the list mode. I think having so many hobbies help.

I did a ton of sewing. In fact I sew every day. But they're not like finished products. Mostly playing around with bag designs. I haven't been active on Instagram for #yearofmaking2018. I kinda forget to take pics of what I do. Also #wip pics just don't appeal to me. Hopefully in June, I'll get cracking again.

So these were made in May...
The Cleo skirt.

And Girl's Sling Bag pattern now available in my Etsy and Craftsy shop. Hey, thanks to the reader who pointed out my spelling error: It's sling, not sing.

Yep. That's it. Does bread count? I started baking bread again. And looking to bake other stuff too. This time I'll be more disciplined and try not to eat too much of my own bakes. I have slimmed down a little bit - the shoulders, wrist, boobs, some parts of my legs and my hips. The tummy is still hanging on for dear life. Do you remember the Ikea Curtain blouse I made last year? I can wear it but it feels like certain part of my upper body has broadened from all the exercising I've been doing.

The exercise bit - I think I did very well in May. The swimming and fitness session at Fitness Bravo still going strong. But the running might have come to an end. I did a Star Wars run and that was it. When I tried to go for a run later, my left leg gave out. It's very weird. I'm taking a break from running to let it recover. It's really frustrating. Age is slowly shutting down different bits of my organs.

With our personal trainer, Mindy who's also my niece
By the way, I cut my hair shorter and my hair stylist said covering my white hair is a losing battle so instead she used a ammonia based lotion to strip my hair of previous hair dye so I can go au naturale. The first time I saw all my white hair uncovered, I ran screaming from the mirror. After a few weeks, I've now grown accustomed to it. I don't know about other people though. I think I look at least 5 years older. You probably can't see my white hair in the photo thanks to the lightning but trust me, they're all over. On the bright side, I get offered seats on the train. And of course I can stop covering up the dem white hair every month. What a pain, right? Do you think this au naturale phase will last or will I cave in the minute someone says: Wah, you look so old. I wonder which relative will be the first to say it to me?

I look like a boy from the back! Hubs loves my short hair.

In case you're wondering what in the world I'm doing holding a ball, me and hubs went to attend a Fitness Bravo anniversary party. Of course we're such country bumpkins expecting to sit around, eat and drink. A gym party involves physical activity.

Such as this.

And this.

It was fun. Very different kind of fun for us.  See you in June.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Girl's Sling Bag Pattern

When my daughter was in kindy (a long time ago), I made a version of this sling bag for her. It is an easy beginner friendly bag pattern. Someone new to bag making would be able to make this bag, I believe. My daughter is too big to model this bag now so poor Bear has to do it.

The pattern is fairly easy. You can choose a flat bottom or one with rounded corners. Also, make it with a contrast fabric for the flap or use the same fabric throughout.

And in case you're wondering, for the flaps, I used Zig fabric pens to colour the houses and trees. It was fun! To read the nitty gritty details check out my listing in my shop.

Pattern available in my Craftsy and Etsy shop now. Or buy off my blog by clicking on the Buy Now button below. First time buyer from my blog please read my faq. Ecommerce provided by payhip.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Kopitiam Bread

I haven't baked much this year mostly because I gained a lot of weight last year and I believe eating all my bakes contributed a fair bit. So I was quite scared of baking. Recently my love for baking bread was rekindled. Just like getting back with an old boyfriend, the first bake (date) was a bit nerve wracking. You never know how it'll turn out.

For my first bake, I chose to make a Kopitiam Bread (coffeeshop bread). I'm in this fb group (Bake the Talk - it's a closed group) and I noticed many people baking it. It was started by a guy named Barry Apek and according to him, it was a Hylam (Hainanese) bread recipe. That sparked my interest because hubs is a Hylam nang (Hainanese person) and I'll bet he has never eaten a Hylam bread before.

So I can't post a link to the bread recipe because it's a closed group. But it's quite similar to this recipe except for the recipe I used, it called for 325g of bread flour. Which is a very odd number to use if you think about it...

I used Japanese bread flour only because it was expiring. I believe any bread flour will work. I also substituted butter for shortening. I used my Kenwood machine to knead the dough for exactly 10min. The dough came together very cleanly - nothing left on the mixer bowl.

Here's the dough right after kneading and ready for bulk fermentation. It looked so well!

Here's the dough after 1 hour bulk fermentation. I think the photo does not show the size well. The dough got bigger. I felt it was ready.

For curiosity, I weighed the dough - 576g.

I used my 8" X 4.5" X 4" pullman tin. Here's where I made a mistake. I covered the tin with the lid even though I intended to bake the dough without the lid. Thing is, I was also making dinner for my son at the same time and I lost track of time. By the time I remembered to remove the lid from the pullman tin, it was too late. The dough had reached the top of the lid and no matter how much I pulled, it wouldn't come loose. So I decided to bake with the lid on after all but guess what? Now I can't close the lid properly because some dough had escaped. So I baked with the lid 99% closed at 190 deg C for 50min. The last 10 min, I forced the lid open and baked the loaf without the tin because I like my bread brown. When I took the bread out of the oven, I knew it was a winner because of two things - one, the smell was so lovely, two, the bread was light.

I left the bread to cool and did not cut it until the following day. Usually for sandwich bread, the recipe would ask you to punch out the bubbles but I don't do that. At most I would pat it down like searching for weapons. As a result you can see some air pockets here and there. I do pinch out the big bubbles because those are nasty. I managed to get 12 slices out of the loaf. The bread isn't as yellow as in the images - more like very pale yellow.

Despite my tug of war with the dough, the loaf came out quite nice.

Here you can see some damage. But dough is so forgiving!

Yesterday we had the entire loaf for lunch.
This is my son's luncheon meat sandwiches.

This is my daughter's bacon sandwich.

This is my sandwich. I've stayed away from luncheon meat for quite a while.

This one's hub's. Don't worry. He was wearing shorts.

I'm very pleased with this bread. I'll probably use this recipe again when I need a loaf of bread for the family. I was still curious about the Hainanese role in this recipe. So I did some research but came up with nothing. Then I converted the recipe to percentage and that's when it hit me. Based on the percentages, this Kopitiam Bread recipe is a classic textbook sandwich bread recipe. Like if you were to go to a baking school in Singapore to learn to bake bread, the basic sandwich bread you learn would be this Kopitiam bread. Mystery solved!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Star Wars Run 2018

I remember I swore not to do any more organised runs this year. Through some mysterious force (pun, geddit?), I found myself signed up for Star Wars Run 2018 on 5th May. It's a night run so no waking up early in the morning which I hate so much. It's a night run so it's dark which is not so pleasant. Hubs did the 10km run and I did the 5.4km run. As you know, I no longer do 10km run because it's really bad for my neck and spine. So we went separately because his run started at 5pm while mine was 7:30pm. You know what that means? Hub's isn't a night run because it started so early.

This year my daughter joined us. It's her second organised run! She dragged her friend along. Guess which one is my daughter.

Last year's Star Wars Run had all the bells and whistles - stuffed toy and a fabulous fireworks. This year's run was more stingy - a useless plastic mat and a free cushion if you are early birds for the run pack collection. We got our free cushions.

We also got our fireworks. Not as spectacular as last years but a fireworks is a fireworks. Not for the 10km runners though because as their run was at 5pm, so there were no fireworks. So basically, the 10km run is pretty much a normal run. Nothing Star Warsy.

This year, the organiser was a little creative - there were two separate routes. One for Light Side and one for Dark Side. Oh yah, it's a thing for Star Wars fans. Choosing sides. I always get dumped with the Light Side. Hubs and my daughter chose the Dark Side. My running tee is blue while theirs is maroon.

Crazy hubs finished his run and accompanied me on my 5.4km run. My daughter and her friend somehow ended up in the 8:30pm wave.

The Light Side had a tent which had some psychedelic thingy going on.

It was a scenic route - if you could see. The usual Marina Bay, Gardens By The Bay, Singapore Flyer route. We ran past a eating place and the smell of satay being grilled was so incredible. I was starving.

When I saw the finish line, I sprinted for it. Unnecessarily. I mean, my pace throughout was so slow it didn't matter.

Nowadays, I'm grateful to be able to finish a run without walking.

This year I made sure I was given the correct medal.
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