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Not your usual school bag

School holidays have begun here in Malaysia. I’ve turned off the morning alarm, the kids are sleeping late, we’re watching more TV, going to the playgrounds and it’s great.

Some mothers dread the holidays because the schools and enrichment classes (as we call it) are closed for the week, which also means that mothers are now stuck trying to figure out where to bring their kids so that these kids can do learning activities instead of rot at home with the TV.

Unlike most mothers, I LOVE the school holidays. It means I don’t have to stress out in the mornings getting my girl to wake up, and then dressed, fed, and into the car hopefully in time for school. For Erin, it means no education system, no school rules, no social stress, no performance expectations, no bland snacks. Weee!

We can all relax and enjoy being who we are and want to be for the day.

Recently a friend of mine asked if I could make a superheroes themed school bag for her son. Erin is pretty fuss free but most kids I know don’t like the idea of having the same bag as their friend, no matter how cool it is. It’s probably as bad as wearing the SAME prom dress as the girl from the next class, having the exact same car as your neighbour, the same prada bag as your colleague.

I got it. So I made him one.

It’s a Marvel themed canvas fabric which has got a good weight to it. I love canvas because its durable and washable if necessary. I added thick interfacing to the bag to give it a good structure. Instead of a magnetic clasp or zip for the opening I went with a flap and clip buckle because I thought a boy would think it’s cooler. For the size, it’s spacious enough for a water bottle, snack box and some A4 size books. His mom didn’t want any outer pockets which I agreed. We kept it simple.

I really like how it turned out. It’s definitely unique as there’s only one of it in the whole wide world. I hope he likes it too and feels like a superhero every day as he goes to school.

From you, for you, BAGIMU.

Those nasty ants

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My little boy started to walk at 15 months. Every morning he would request for me to put on his shoes to take a walk in our garden. He is not very steady yet so he still relies on me to hold his hand and match his steps.

We converted this corner of our garden into a flower bed. We planted purple and red chillies, pink chrysanthemums and two mini Christmas trees. The flowers and trees were adapting pretty well to our garden until the ants decided that they would make a nest in the same place. Other than the ticklish sight of them crawling all over our flower bed, I didn’t mind them too much until…

Until they bit me.

I was with Elliot watering the flowers when I felt some tingling sensation on my feet. It didn’t hurt so I didn’t bother looking down to check. Holding Elliot’s hand, making sure he doesn’t lose his balance, fall on his bum and stain his trousers was far more important at that time. The tingling continued and soon it started to itch. When I finally looked to check, there were hundreds (if not thousands!!!!) of ants crawling all over my left foot. It was a horrific sight, a nightmare!

Fast forward and I’m stuck at home with a swollen foot. It hurts now and it’s really itchy. Who knew their venom could be so potent.

I’m just glad Elliot was spared and I still love my flower bed.

A passion brought to life – BAGIMU

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I’ve not abandoned writing. In fact I’ve been writing so much (in my head) that I can feel them spilling out from my ears! I’ve been thinking so much in a day that even if I don’t do anything physically strenuous I’m already exhausted.

So what exactly have I been up to?

Back in December last year I was getting itchy and wanted to learn a new skill. I considered taking up a writing course or a MBA, maybe coding or soap making. I attended a leather bag making class, sat through an online writing course and in the end, it was sewing that I fell in love with. The different fabric textures, lace, canvas, satin, denim; the sound of the sewing machine and needle doing their thing, buttons, straps, hooks….  mmm..mmm… I loved them all!

I never knew I had this hidden passion.

Very quickly I bought myself a new sewing machine. It wasn’t too expensive and it was rather straight forward choosing a basic machine within my budget.

I got addicted really quickly. I signed up for more sewing classes, I visited fabric shops all over the city and spend my days scrolling through Pinterest for ideas and sewing patterns.

I started designing. I started sewing. Just like that.

Fast forward 2 months and I’ve made 50+ bags in all shapes and sizes. I’ve set up booth at various local bazaars. I’ve stressed and cried and smiled and… sewed my finger… It’s been a rollercoaster but I’m loving every moment of it.

Come visit my little studio – BAGIMU (I’ll share the idea behind the name in the next post!)

BAGIMU IG: https://www.instagram.com/bagimu.studio

BAGIMU FB: https://www.facebook.com/bagimu.studio

 

Watermelon Cake for Christmas tea

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Who would have thought of adding a slice of juicy watermelon to a cake?

Cake – Cream – Watermelon – Cream – Cake – Cream – Fresh Fruits & Nuts

It’s a really good combination I must say. The light and airy layers of sponge cake goes surprisingly well with the watermelon and cream. I’m guessing an Angel Food Cake recipe would work better than a Classic Sponge Cake as the beaten-till-stiff egg whites would give the cake a much lighter texture than a regular- all- eggs- in method.

It was so good and refreshing. I only wished they had served me a MUCH BIGGER slice!

Very Christmasy colours as well don’t you think?

 

The imperfect, rough and broken tart.

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Pear Tart

Imperfect, Rough, Broken.

I often identify myself this way. Things were never easy at home. Dad and Mom, working professionals themselves back then were always asking for nothing more but perfection from us. They both migrated to the city from small towns, worked their way up the corporate ladder, sacrificed pleasures so that they could afford to raise us up and give us opportunities they didn’t have.

We were taught to be nothing short of the best in everything (academics, hobbies, skills, characteristics, etc.), anything lesser would mean disappointments and punishments. I hated the dreadful PTM (Parent-Teacher’s Meeting) held twice a year because mom would always leave the meeting in tears, ashamed at the teacher’s remarks about me and I would be home to face the ‘rotan’, a.k.a. the wooden stick.

Looking back, no amount of ‘rotans’ were good enough to make me number 1. I tried, but somehow I’ve always fell short.

Fast forward and I’m 30 now.

I love imperfections.

A good looking buttery and flaky tart with perfectly arranged pears would be amazing, but an imperfect, rough and (literally) broken tart is good too, in fact, beautiful, just the way I like it.

Golden Roti Jala (Net Crepe)

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My parent-in-laws came over to stay for the weekend and they very kindly brought some Chicken Rendang for us. Rendang (chicken, lamb, pork or beef) is probably one of the Top 5 most complicated dish I’d attempt to make at home so needless to say, I was delighted!

Instead of having the Chicken Rendang with plain white rice, I decided to be fancy and make ‘Roti Jala’, which in literal Malay translation means ‘Net bread’. However, the consistency is more like thin crepes rather than bread or pancakes. Roti Jala is made using a special pouring tool to create the beautiful net like design in the pan, which is then folded into half twice and served.

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The recipe called for either coconut milk or milk but unfortunately I didn’t have any left. I must have had too much tea the day before… I was gonna give up but thanks to my quick-witted husband, he suggested I use some of our baby’s milk powder as a substitute. Apparently most of Singapore’s famous cereal prawns are coated with this magic!

Roti Jala (Net Crepe) 

1 cup all purpose flour

1.5 cups milk (or 3/4 cup coconut milk + 3/4 cup water)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder

1 egg

(This recipe makes roughly 20 pieces of Roti Jala)

Method

  1. Sift the flour, salt and tumeric poweder into a big bowl.
  2. Mix in the egg until it becomes a thick paste.
  3. Lastly, add in the milk (it should be a very watery batter).
  4. On medium heat, brush the non-stick pan with oil before you start cooking.
  5. Pour some batter into the tool and go crazy with your designs! (see picture above)
  • Usually the first roti won’t turn out so good, don’t fret! It’s completely normal. It will only get better.
  • I usually add a little more oil after each roti, but trust me, by the 5th or 6th roti, you don’t even need to add anymore oil as the pan will be well coated.
  • It’s usually served with curry or rendang but if you happen to have kids as well, just give them some honey or syrup to dip it in. Happy family!

Btw, if you can’t find this special Roti Jala tool, drop me a comment and I’ll be happy to post it you!

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Not your typical Super Girl

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It was costume play at school and the only kiddy costume we had at home was a pink mask and cape. We told her that she would be Super Girl and got her all dressed up in pink. It wasn’t very elaborate but good enough for effort I guess.

Erin went off, had loads of fun, and came home with a bag full of sweets. I asked if there were many Super Girls like her at school today, to which she shockingly exclaimed, “I’m not Super Girl, I’m Strawberry Girl!”.

You see, as parents, it’s easy to just follow the crowd. If you’re gonna wear a cape, it means you’re a superhero, you fly, you’re super special. Pretty self explanatory really.

But to Erin, the ‘S’ on her mask wasn’t for ‘Super’, it was for ‘Strawberry’, and she firmly believed so. She didn’t care much about having superpowers, or running around in a cape. She just wanted to identify herself with strawberries because she enjoyed eating them the most, and she wanted everyone to know that.

I now know better.

So ‘S for Strawberry’ it is. So simple and so sweet.