Monday, January 31, 2011

K decorated her own simple Birthday cake

Kaylene has been counting down to her 5 years old birthday since a month ago. She was excited about the cake she would get and had been asking for a 3D princess cake which she saw in a magazine. Strangely, she did not ask about the presents she'll get. Anyway, I had wanted to get her a princess cake this year. Went around asking bakerys and the norm for a princesss cake is 2kg. To us it's too much for us to consume since we did not plan to have a big party. I explained to Kaylene and suggested that I bake a small chocolate cake instead and she can decorate however she likes. She bought the idea. So glad she did and really appreciate she was understanding and would go along with the idea of decorating her own cake without a fuss!

Kaylene didn't mention about the princess cake since then.
Look at her decorating her own cake, with mei mei!

 I melted some white chocolates and mould them into some shapes which I knew Kaylene and her cousins would like. The rest of the chocolates were given so I thought they came in handy as toppings decos. Kaylene arranged them and sprinkled her favourites colourful sprinklers.

Only a candle that played the happy birthday tune. The kids were dancing to the tune while Ah ma and daddy were trying to look for more candles. Muddle me had forgotten to bring more candles!

Anyway, glad Kaylene is still undemanding at this stage. So accommodating, just happy with the simple things now; my simple cake for her, simple celebration for her, just happy blowing 1 candle instead of 5... :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

pretty decals to spruce up the wall for CNY

We went shopping at AMK hub yesterday and passed by a pushcart selling a wide selection of wall decals. We got tempted to spruce up our wall for the CNY hence bought 2 sets for S$10. As soon as we got home, we set to work, with Kaylene, and spent about an hour plus putting 1 of the sets up. We tried to follow the given picture as close as possible but there were still some misses here and there hence did some creation on our own.

We all enjoyed this project, even Shiranne did a little pasting after she woke up from her nap. Kaylene was already bugging us to set up the next one!

So pretty, now we have a pretty pink tree and a cat to look at in our living room.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

our first home baked Pineapple tarts with the buttery savoury pastry

Recently got inspired to bake some Pineapple Tarts ourselves. So went recipe hunting in search for one that will have buttery pastry that is soft and melts in the mouth. Both mine and hubby's choice of pineapple tart! Managed to find one from Hochiak and decided to give it a shot. 

Below is the full recipe taken from the blog which I've added the measurements in grams. Instead of using the full recipe, I halfed the recipe as the baker mentioned it makes about 80-100. I prefer to bake in batches to maintain it's freshness for the Chinese New Year. However, I realised that probably my mould is smaller in size, I ended up making about 80 tarts still! The text in red are my personal comments.

I bought my Pineapple Jam from Phoon Huat and after my first bake, there are lots left which i reckoned can bake another 200++ tarts more.

I've also did an experiment in putting my pastry in to bake for the first 12 min and then insert the pineapple jam and bake further for 8 mins versus putting the pastry and pineapple jam together to bake. My verdict is mentioned with the pictures below.

Recipe for Pineapple Pastry
  • 1 lb./500gm flour
  • 10 oz./300gm butter, cold and diced (I used scs unsalted) 
  • 2 to 3 egg yolks
  • Some cold water (pour 1 tsp at a time to the pastry,until the pastry can form a dough, my pastry still cracks a little at the side when rolled out but it's fine as long as the centre portion is smooth)
  • 4 teaspoon castor sugar
Sift the flour and add in the castor sugar.
Using the pointed ends of a fork, rub the butter into the flour until it looked like fine bread crumbs. If necessary, use fingertips to continue rubbing lightly the bigger pieces into finer pieces.
Add egg yolks and cold water at the same time and lightly combine them using finger tips (rather than kneading them like bread dough) before rolling out to desired thickness.
(The fork and fingertip technique is what makes the pastry special)
 For baking, bake using Gas Mark 3 (160 degrees Celcius / 325 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes. When placing jam onto the pastry, take caution not to smear jam onto the sides as this will easily “burn” and render the sides of the pastry (the flowery design) darker.

If you cannot finish the dough at one go like me, wrap it in cling film and chill the dough. It was rather hard when I took out from the fridge so I microwave the dough on microwavable bowl (with cling wrap removed) using the defrost function for about 20sec.

The little baker at work. Kaylene was rather upset that I started on the first batch without her while she was in school. She's always so enthusiastic about baking!

Smiling because she finally got the hang of using this pineapple tart mould. The first few didn't turn out nice and I've got to help her push out the flower.

This version of pineapple tart's baking time makes the jam soft though colour may not be as appealing as the one below. Bake time : 12 min for the pastry only, 8 min for the pastry with jam inserted.

So for this version, while waiting for the pastry to be baked, I rolled out my pineapple jam into small balls. Note as you roll the jam, your hand gets stickier and difficult to do the rolling. It's handy to have a small plate of water to dab on your palm or on the ball to enable smoother rolling and rounder balls.

As for this version which I baked the pastry together with the jam, the jam turns out rather hard and chewy. Guessed the 20min of baking time dries out the jam. Though the darker colour does look more appealing.

We all loved the pineapple tarts! My hubby sinfully ate up about 30 of them. While it's warm, the jam tasted very sweet. But after it has cooled, the tart's jam tasted just right and the pastry simply melts in the mouth.. yum!  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

will miss shiranne's dolly hairstyle for a while

Chinese New Year is coming in about 2 weeks time and I suppose a lot of mummies will be bringing their kids for a haircut. As I was looking at Shiranne's hair with her fringe over the eyebrows, wondering to trim it myself, as I have been doing so since her birth, or bring her to the hairdresser for a different hairstyle.

She has never been to one and I'm not so sure if she will be obedient and let the hairdresser do the trim. Then finally, as we walked past a salon, temptation to change her dolly hairstyle took over and we walked into the salon for her first salon's haircut. Of course, I'd pre-empted her about somebody cutting her hair and she agreed to it.

She was very quiet after entering the salon as she observed the new environment. She let me carry her onto the salon seat with the booster seat prepared, she observed herself in the mirror and observed the lady who draped a cloth over her. I was afraid she might break into cries any minute so I kept praising her that she was doing a good job seating down and explained to her what the aunty was doing.

After a quick discussion on the type of hairstyle with the hairdresser, the scissors started snipping away. Shiranne just looked at her hair fell. I was wondering what she might be thinking. I must say she was very compliant to the requests of hairdresser when she was required to look down or close her eyes.

The cutest part I must say was her eyes closing. She closed them so so so tightly and her mouth would pout out like an 'O' shape. Alas, i didn't manage to capture a shot of this. So cute that the hairdresser and I burst out laughing! We had to tell her don't open her mouth or else hair would fall into her mouth.

Now Shiranne dons a new hairstyle and everybody said she looks different.  I'm sure gonna miss her dolly hairstyle for a while...

Friday, January 14, 2011

of potatoes and lady fingers prints

Fun session of potatoes and lady fingers (aka okra) prints. Our friendly neighbour came up with the suggestion and also cut up the fun potato shapes (squares, cross, star, triangle). I got some lady fingers to go along. The kids had fun. Kaylene loved the printing and made sure her paper is filled with colourful prints!

A cheeky fella came up with the idea of brewing the used potatos and lady fingers in the bowl of paint water! Lotsa laughter!! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kaylene's 1st performance on stage from Beijing Language School

This is a very belated post as Kaylene already had her debut on stage on 17 Dec 2010. I'd still like to post it so I can share my thoughts of sending Kaylene to the Beijing Language School's Speech and Drama Holiday Programme.

Kaylene was with me when I signed her up for the holiday programme and she cried because she didn't really like the idea of attending something in Mandarin. When I first told my husband, my mum and MIL about signing kaylene up for chinese holiday programme, all responses were quite disapproving. They thought I should be the one teaching her chinese instead of sending her to some school to learn., since I can speak and write Chinese. I must say I was almost guilty of it after hearing all the comments!

Well, I did try to teach, but somehow didn't get much of her interest and she would at times refuse to let me speak mandarin to her. It seemed difficult for her to grasp the 4 tones of Mandarin accurately also hence she would sound almost like a caucasian learning to speak mandarin. So after a little struggle, i tried to comfort myself that my main objective in sending her to the school was to give her some exposure in a Mandarin speaking environment.

Kaylene enjoyed her first day of class despite not understanding anything the teacher said in Mandarin. I was almost paranoid and even checked with her at the end of every other classes if she enjoyed herself.  She went on for 16 lessons, every tues - friday for 1.5hr, she didn't say anything about disliking her chinese classes! I was so proud of her!
I found out the reasons. Mostly was that she liked her amicable teacher and she liked dancing to the lively chinese songs. She also enjoyed the little crafts done. Although she didn't understand a lot, she mangaged to find some funny lyrics and actions she learnt and showed them to me laughing away! Another thing that motivated my girl was the sweets and biscuits teacher rewards the students who learnt to speak some simple words/phrase that were taught for the day.  Kaylene would come back telling me about how she gotten her sweet rewards. Sometimes, I could catch her singing some chinese songs unconciously while she was playing. *my heart would smile*

At home, I'd also revise some of the chinese songs and poems (唐詩Tang Shi) with her. I guessed this helped to enhance her interest as she knew we are involved too.

On the day of performance, I was glad Kaylene did not have any stage fright. She was such an anxious girl. I think the school did a great job in preparing them for the day. Rehearsing, costume making etc.  

On stage, she danced well, tried to remember the chinese songs, but still not very good, tried to say DI ZI GUI (弟子规), (Standards for being a Good Student and Child), I knew she could only  remember 4 verses out of 36. Despite these, I knew she enjoyed her first stage performance and I'm glad of her accomplishment!

Below are some of the pictures from her performances at the Sengkang CC 
 Make-up time!
 she was very excited as it was her first time putting on make-ups.

 Her first outfit, a bunny.

2nd outfit for the 2nd performance.

 3rd outfit

performance finale. picture with all the teachers and students in the holiday programme 

This was one of the songs she learnt and was video-ed the night before her performance.
 About teeny tiny thumbkins.
Yi zhi xiao zhi tou ya, Zhuan ya zhuan ya Zhuan ya....

Now I would say Kaylene's exposure to the chinese learning environment is beneficial. No regrets and I'm glad I've signed her up! She has since become more open to speaking Mandarin and writing chinese characters, and her 4 tones are so much better. Now, she can memorise and say DI ZI GUI in 8 verses with correct tones.  Here's an extract of DI ZI GUI for the curious. Meaning and full version can be found here.

I had fun reciting it with her too!

首孝弟,    次谨信