Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An End to the Silence

ACK!! So embarrassed, so very embarrassed to have abandoned this blog since early March. Life has been a virtual speed race since then and I've yet to be able to get off this ride.

We're now comfortably back home in KL. Settled in with my folks. Things are going great! Jon has an awesome job as Commercial Manager with Albert Wines and Liquor. I've been very lucky to establish Babysweet Cakes strongly back here and have made more progress in four months here than I had in the past two years in the US. Elyse is adjusting very well and flourishing under the constant spoiling by her grandparents and aunties.

My beautiful family!

My other family. This is a very rare photo.

It was definitely the right decision to move home. Things have never been better for us. I don't negate the 10 years I've been away. In those many years, I've learnt to be a better person, gained more experience to easily guide me through my reassimilation in Malaysia. I've always believed that things do happen for a reason, however one has to make the tough decisions that come along the way. And if it looks right, feels right, smells right (LOL!) and sounds right, then it very likely will be...right.

I'm home, where I belong. To brand new adventures....

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Post Valentine jackpot (Thankful List Day 45)

Pardon the late, late posting. I've not been able to catch up with the blogging because of multiple factors pretty much all colliding into each other.

To follow up a pretty laid-back V-day, I usually pay a yearly pilgrimage to various stores to take advantage of a post V-day discount. Most items are marked down at least 50%. I had a couple of things in mind that I needed to get and headed to the mall.

Very successful trip, indeed. Procured what I intended to get at the said 50% off. *laughing with glee*

That was followed by a grocery store visit, and since I was near the Super Target up north, I headed there instead of the usual Kroger. Boy, was that a fun trip! I found some Ghirardelli dark chocolates marked down 75% and loaded up on a few packages. See, after having navigated through a few years worth of post-holiday shopping, I know Target's price markdown processes like the back of my hand.

On the day of said holiday, sometimes they mark down the products to 20% off just for competitiveness. The very next day, it's immediately marked down 30-50% off. And if you wait just a tad bit longer, they continue marking down the products 50 - 75% off. Unfortunate side of waiting is that sometimes what you wanted will usually be gone. So, I got lucky this time!!

The chocolates are sitting in my pantry closet waiting for a long-distance flight back to KL.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

RECIPE: Crab Spring Rolls

I adapted this recipe from an epicurean hero of mine, Gordon Ramsay. It is fantastic, paired with an extra dry champagne or sparkling wine, or a German estate Riesling.


8 large spring roll wrappers (about 10 inch/25 cm sq)
1 large egg white, for sealing the edges
peanut/canola oil, for deep-frying
sweet chili sauce, for dipping

9oz (250gm) crabmeat, picked over
2 green onions, finely sliced
small handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves, chopped
one red chili, seeds and ribs removed and chopped finely
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
sea salt and black pepper, for seasoning
juice from 1 medium lime, to taste


  • Toss all ingredients for the filling into a bowl and mix together gently until well-combined. Add more or less lime juice according to your taste. I like it a little tangier to counter the heaviness of the oil.
  • Divide the filling into 8 equal portions in the bowl.
  • Lay a spring roll wrapper on a cutting board with the corner facing you. (Keep the rest covered with a slightly damp dish towel to prevent from drying out.)
  • Spoon the crabmeat filling onto the bottom half of the wrapper, then brush the edges of the surrounding pastry with egg white.
  • Fold the bottom edge up over the filling, brushing the sides witih egg white, and then fold them in and over the filling, like an envelope. (refer to picture)
  • Roll up into a log, making sure the edge is rolled under to seal it properly. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers and filling.
  • Heat the oil for deep-frying (at least 2 1/2 inch/6 cm depth) in a suitable pan to 350F (180C).
  • Deep-fry the rolls in batches for about 40-50 seconds until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
  • Cut the spring rolls in half diagonally, and serve warm with a bowl of sweet chili sauce on the side for dipping.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Hungry Valentine (Thankful List Day 44)

It was a typical Valentine's day for Jon and me, almost completely non-romantic, if I had to put it in those words.

He had to work from a full day, 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. I was stuck with yard sale prep duty, did a grab-and-dash at Ikea and met up with a dear friend for a quick lunch. Then it was straight to Lisa's place and did some loading and unloading boxes of things to sell at the garage sale AND helped cook some lunch.

After a couple of hours, I rushed home (mind you it's an hour's drive one way) to meet up with a lady who was coming to buy my sofa. Then a quick trip to the supermarket and then home again, home again, jiggety jig, to prepare some dinner for us. Of course, being V-day, I tried to put some kind of effort into the meal considering we don't celebrate it in any other fashion.

I already had a recipe in mind to attempt. I adapted Gordon Ramsay's Crab Spring Rolls recipe and added a few twist. The original recipe would have been fantastic, but being very familiar with the ingredients, I knew that it would be better suited to our palates if the flavours were a tad bit bolder. So I upped the ooomph-factor with a little extra lime juice, added a red jalapeno for heat, and lime zest for a little more zing to counter the heaviness from frying the rolls.
(Recipe to follow in next posting)

Suffice to say, dinner was incredibly enjoyable. Jon brought home a bottle of Aubry Brut Rosé Champagne which paired perfectly with the crab spring rolls. After downing dinner and a glass of champagne, I was already half-asleep. At the end of the long, long day, I was and still am, always VERY thankful that I have someone I can celebrate even a low-key Valentine's day with.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hand Me Downs (Thankful List Day 43)

Today, I pulled out a few more new outfits for Elyse from the nice collection we have in the closet. A collection I have no doubt cost a very nice chunk of change since they are hand-me-downs from a few little girls. Some of them are designer, some never been worn before, and most are still very fresh-looking.

Once in a while, I make it a point to get a few new pieces for her just to mix things up a little. Usually, something nice that's on sale. The amount I spend would hardly put a dent into the tubs and tubs of clothing that we inherited. I am so, so very thankful for those contributions. Elyse look like a million bucks without me having to shell out more than a few dollars.

Follow up to 'A Nice Surprise TLD 31' (Thankful List Day 42)

I realized on this day that the IRS can be very accurate when they want to. I've been filing our taxes online for the past three years, and it's been super easy! And every year I request for the return amount to be directly deposited into my bank account just to speed up the process.

This year was the same. A few days after filing, I was able to check the status of my return on the IRS website, and they had given me a window of time when I would be expected to receive the money. A little after a week, I checked on the status again and this time was given the specific date. Lo, and behold, I checked my bank balance on that day and sure enough, there it was sitting pretty.

All I can say is...wow! My day is looking pretty good.

Winging it (Thankful List Day 41)

OMG, OMG, OMG...I am so behind on the posting. Been very busy lately with many things, especially with the selling of our things on craiglist, planning yard sales, unpacking and organizing of things, making endless lists of things that we need for the move home...and trying my best to get winezen.com up and running. Major emphasis on the word 'TRY'.

I'm completely feeling my way around on this one. Didn't study this in school, nor took any courses on building websites. Thankfully, there are many web hosting services available nowadays with a myriad of templates and website building tools on hand. Absolutely fabulous for people like me!!

Needless to say, it's still taking me a while to get things going. But at least, things are moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Good Read (Thankful List Day 40)

I've always been an avid reader. As a young child, I loved my fairy tales and Enid Blyton - the fantasy and feeling that anything is possible. I've more than once looked at a chair and hoped it would lift off the ground by some magical power.

In my very early teens, I got into adult fiction - Sheldon, Cook, Archer, Clancy, just to name a few. I suppose those were books that were lying around the house. I'd spend hours just laying down on my bed, or curled up in a chair, just reading. Ended up needing glasses by the time I was 9.

Nowadays, I prefer non-fiction works, or lighter fare. Over the past few years, I've completely enjoyed the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I believe they are some of the best books ever written, incredibly imaginative and clever in its conception of a completely unique world, even though it's based on popular folk lore and mythology with a dose of history.

Over the recent weeks, I've breezed through a few selective novels by Jennifer Weiner - Good In Bed, Certain Girls and Little Earthquakes. They're easy reads. I finished them in a few hours. But she writes in an engaging manner, with quite a good sense of humour, mostly Jewish, which possibly makes it even funnier. I think I may take on In Her Shoes next, even though I'd already seen the movie. I liked the movie version, and I suspect I may like the book better.

Nothing like a good read to take you away from your present, even if it's for a brief moment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

RECIPE: ABC Soup (Thankful List Day 38)

There are days when I just draw a blank when it comes to planning dinner. After rummaging through my refrigerator and pantry, I decided to rely on a tried and true recipe - ABC soup. Most of you who are Malaysian Chinese will probably know what I'm talking about. It's a fantastic soup, very flavourful and healthy. Nothing like soup to chase the winter blues away.

This recipe makes a large pot, enough to serve six to eight people. I like to make a lot so that I have leftovers for the next day. I just have it with rice, and soy sauce as a dip.

2 lbs meaty pork bones (substitute with chicken if you wish)
2 large potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch length pieces
1 large onion, cut into cubes
3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, simple quartered
1 tbsp whole white peppercorns (add more if you like it spicier)
1 tbsp salt
approximately 4 litres of water


  • Bring water to a boil in a large heavy stockpot. Add in pork bones.
  • Cook bones in gentle boiling water for about 30 minutes, and then using a skimmer, remove all scum and excess oil.
  • Add all veggies to the mix, along with the peppercorns and salt.
  • Simmer for another hour, until meat falls off the bones.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.

Playing favourites (Thankful List Day 37)

I am running behind on the blogging!!! Gahhh....
Things just got a little carried away and next thing I knew, I'm three days behind. Ughh!!
Keeping up with this resolution can be really difficult somedays.

I was sitting in the car one day, parked in front of Target because Miss Elyse decided that she'd take a nap in the car five minutes after I left home. Fortunately, I had a book with me to read - 'Good In Bed' by Jennifer Weiner. Yeah, I'm a whole decade behind on this one, but I managed to catch up quickly and finished the sequel too. In one part of the book, the main character is asked what her absolute favourite food is. That got me thinking....really...hard.

What an absolutely loaded question! I suppose some people can name very specific favourite foods but to narrow it down to one is probably very difficult. My personal favourites would be um,..er...eh..ooh, how do I decide? See, see??!? It's not easy to choose between roti canai, curry noodles, tom yam goong, brothy Taiwanese or Mandarin noodles with 'char choy' (spicy szechuan pickled mustard root), ever-favourite nasi lemak, bak kut teh, 'pan mee', 'char kway teow'....I could go on and on...and that's just Malaysian favourites.

Okay, one thing that I'm VERY sure of is that my absolute favourite food is definitely Malaysian. In fact, I'd say my top thirty favourite foods would be Malaysian or Asian to say the least. I do have other favourites from other cuisines, which I will get into in another post.

I'd love to hear from the rest of you about your own favourite foods. Perhaps we share a few in common.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Furry People (Thankful List Day 37)

It's a typical Sunday night. I'm sitting on my bed, movie on tv and laptop on my uh,..lap. Sprinkles is curled up right next to me, fast asleep. She's so precious when she's asleep. Then again, she's usually very sweet, but very precocious and naughty.

Chino is all curled up in his own bed, probably dreaming of birds, kitty treats and running free.
He's also incredibly sweet and gentle with us, lightly touching us with his paw and meowing softly as if to say "hi, I love you." or maybe he's trying to say "lemme outta here, you punk!". If only I understood cat-speak.

Tigger used to be a loud and obnoxious fixture in this household, THE baby of the household even after Elyse had arrived, up until six months ago. We had to send him off to live with Lisa after a number of 'accidents' with Elyse. Those two were like oil and water, ...or more appropriately, flame and gasoline..LOL!! Now, he's an even louder and more obnoxious presence in Lisa's home.

It's amazing to see what different personalities they have. Chino is the oldest of the three, and was always looking after the others until they grew wayyyy bigger than him. I'd always find him grooming the other two cats like a protective older brother. Sprinkles is THE alpha cat, even though she's female, she never hesitates to let you know who's boss. However, she's incredibly gentle with Elyse. She sometimes sleeps under Elyse's crib, and will be right there with her when she wakes up. And, gosh...I cannot imagine another animal putting up with Elyse's 'gentle pats', i.e. really hard smacks, on either head, back or side. Or tail-pulling for that matter.

At this point in time, I am going through a series of emotions about moving home, and having to leave the cats here with new owners. I know they would be better off staying here. I refuse to put them through a very traumatic move just so they can end up in a completely different environment which may do them more harm than good. I know I will miss them terribly, especially since they were my babies before Elyse came along. But I suppose, here is where we come to the fork in the road, and we'll have to go down one lane and they will have...oh, new territory to haunt. At the end of the day, I know they will be happy.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

He's baaaack! (Thankful List Day 36)

Jon is home! He's been away for 3 days for the Court of Master Sommelier seminar and exams in New Orleans. It's been a tough 3 days because Elyse got sick just before he left and has had a nasty cold. To make matters even more interesting, today she decided to spew a bucketful of puke all over herself and the car seat. In the process of trying to change her out of her vomit-soaked clothing, I managed to make things worse and transfered a bunch on to myself *eek*

Miraculously, I survived the day, even though Elyse sprung another surprise on me later in the evening. Thankfully, it happened in the bathtub and there was no clothing involved.

After all is said and done, I'm very glad to have my husband home. Things just aren't the same without him.

Space, lots and lots of space. (Thankful List Day 35)

It was the second day Jon's been in New Orleans. I wanted to keep myself busy, so along with Lisa's invitation to drive up for dinner, I decided to quickly pack up as much stuff that I want to sell as possible, and drive it up to her place. I managed to throw out a few more boxes of things, stuff I had NO idea why I still had. Also, succeeded in packing up the Highlander so efficiently that I had to take a photo because I was so proud of myself! *giggle*

What I'm most thankful for is that Lisa has a humongous garage that is already packed with her things, and also a bunch from a friend who is out of the country. Now, she has the load that I brought up yesterday...and scarily, there's a lot more where those came from.

*Takes a deep breath*

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Piles and piles of it (Thankful List Day 34)

Piles and piles of laundry, that is.

Somehow it seems like we have more laundry than the average family, but I could be mistaken. I have my set days for certain loads of laundry - Monday is towel day, Tuesday is whites, Wednesday is darks and colours, Thursday is Elyse's clothing, etc.

Most tenants in apartment buildings resort to using the laundry rooms available. I, uh, would have BIG problems washing my clothes in the same machine which has just washed somebody else's undies. Thankfully, I don't have to. I have my own trusty washer and dryer which I bought from a friend a few years ago. She got married and moved in with her husband, so she didn't need hers anymore. Furthermore, she let me have them both at a very decent price.

Very, very thankful for that. Now, onwards with the next load.