Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spiderman Cake

I know I blogged previously about not having the time to take anymore baking orders. But with this customer, I just couldn't say no! This friend of mine contacted me back in March (3 months before the cake delivery date!!!) and coaxed me into baking a cake for his son. Despite my best efforts to decline the order, she still managed to pujuk me into baking - she certainly has the art of influencing down to a pat!

Initially she ordered a Spiderman cake and matching cookies. But in the end she agreed to order the cookies from someone else, leaving me responsible for the gigantic responsibility of delivery a birthday cake. She was kind enough to give me specific instructions on how she wanted the cake to look like. Red fondant cake with spiderwebs all around, a full sized spider on top and blue sides with more spiderwebs! (I prefer customers telling me what they want instead of leaving the imagination bit to me - i'm always self conscious that I wouldn't meet customers' expectations!)

The cake is a three-tier white cake with buttercream filling. *drool*

Found the exact picture of the spider via Google. Used a sharp shaping tool to trace the shape on to black fondant.

Next came the arduous task of rolling the fondant into thin strips to make the spiderweb.

I tried making the spiderwebs using royal icing, but I was simply not satisfied with the end result. It wasn't crisp and neat, and I am extremely anal about things like that. Also, I couldn't control the icing to make identical spiderwebs. So, all of the spiderwebs were made from fondant and individually rolled, shaped and "pasted" on the cake.

However, I utilized my artistic skills and used royal icing for the smaller spiderwebs on the blue fondant. The left and the right didn't quite match, but I gave it my best!

Painted spiderwebs.

Ready for pick-up.

After I finished the cake, Aiden came along and asked for the same cake for his birthday! Oh my, rolling fondant for spiderwebs again????

Thanks for the order, Ira. Hope you enjoyed the cake!

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Revamped Our Living Hall, Again!

Our revamped living hall - yet again!

After spending our bonuses revamping our dining hall, we decided to revamp our living hall on a shoestring budget! Trust me, small things can actually make a big impact. So for our living hall, we decided to change the curtains and paint our feature wall a new colour.

Let me share a secret with you. You know the beige curtains in my living hall previously? They were purchased from Macy for RM1 per meter. I kid you not. It was during the Macy sale, and I was quite desperate for a cheap solution for my floor to ceiling windows. I bought the whole roll of 32 meters and paid RM32 for it. Plus tailoring, I paid less than RM200 in total. 

So after 3 years of serving us well, we decided to buy new (better quality) curtains. And you know how I am a sucker for good deals, right? Blog Moon is a close affiliate with Sarah Hughes Globe and just last month she invited her readers for a closed one-day sale for curtain fabric. Thanks to her and Globe's very good deal, we chose a wonderful curtain design for only RM10 per meter! However, our chosen fabric was bidang kecil, so we had to take 45 meters in total. Plus tailoring, it was about RM650 - still a good deal, and in time for Raya too! So ladies - follow her blog for the next sale, okay?

New curtains!

Thank you, Kak Moon! I love my new curtains!

Close up of the texture and look of the curtain.

Next up, our feature wall. I blogged previously about painting my wall DIY using Nippon Momento. Well here is the end result. Looks like wallpaper, doesn't it?

The previously brown wall is now silverish grey!

See how the light bounces beautifully on the feature wall? *love*

Here's a close up.

We also moved our furniture around. Since the daybed has now moved into the dining hall, we decided to move our two arm chairs to where the daybed used to be. Hence, the U-shaped window is now completely furniture free, making the living hall look more spacious.

The armchairs separate the living hall area from the walkway.

Next project, get a new coffee table, perhaps?

I love the abstract pattern pillow, a great deal from Spotlight!

Other than that, not much has changed. The sofa is still at the same place, although we added some decorative pieces here and there.

Our trusty comfortable sofa.

Grey pillows under the TV panel to block Ian from accessing the electrical switches!

This is how the living hall looks like in the morning. Check out our revamped garden!

And in case you're wondering how the feature wall looks like in the morning sunlight.

With that, our living hall is now ready for Eid! We're just a week from Hari Raya so in case I don't get to this blog till then, to all my lovely readers - here's wishing you Selamat Hari Raya dan Maaf Zahir Batin. If I have offended you in any way, I deeply apologize. If you are driving back to your hometown, make sure you buckle your seat belts and have a safe journey with your loved ones. Also, watch the calories, ladies! *grin*

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Painting My Living Hall with Nippon Momento

Oh the power of advertisements!

Have you watched the Nippon advert on TV recently? The one where a loving couple wakes up and the husband heads into the kitchen to bake a cake while the wife starts painting their wall, and in the end they enjoyed their cake in front of their newly painted wall! Mind you - it's not just any wall - it actually looks like wallpaper! I watched the advert at my aunt's house and I simply loved how the advert showcased how men and women can swap roles at anytime, and how similar baking and painting can be. So, I thought - if I can bake, I can surely paint, right?

The very next day *kiasuhabis*, I went to our neighbourhood hardware shop and bought myself a set of Nippon Momento. I say a set, because it is sold in a set which included a tin of primer, a tin of special effect paint and a toolkit (brush, spatula and stirrer).

I was not paid to review this product, but since I am such a sucker for good home deals, I have decided to share the love around by letting you know that you can now get a set for just RM98! Offer valid until the end of the month - and then it is back to its original price of RM140+.

The Nippon Momento set.

Since our living hall is now in mainly silver/blackish tones, we decided to paint the wall grey. The Nippon Momento comes in 4 variants - Elegant, Sparkle Pearl, Sparkle Silver and Sparkle Gold. I chose the Sparkle Silver because I wanted the end result to have a dash of glitz.

The Sparkle Silver variant had pages and pages of colour options! In the end we chose Introspect - MS150.

First step, paint the primer over the wall. Since our wall was previously brown, we made sure we did a good job covering it with primer until the old colour was no longer visible.

The original colour brown partly painted over with the primer.

Guess who wanted to help? Aiden painting in his pyjamas!

He insisted on helping us every single step of the way. He kept asking, "Now, what do I do?" until we ran out of things for him to help with!

Halfway done.

Finally done. Ian was watching cartoon while we were busy painting.

We actually only started painting right after terawih at the Surau. By the time we finished with the primer, it was close to 1 am! But still we chugged along and decided to simply continue with the next step, which was to paint the special effects paint. We gave the paint a good stir using the stirrer, and using the brush, we painted the wall using a criss-cross method. After ten minutes, while the paint was still semi-dry, we scraped the wall in a slanted motion using the spatula. This ensures that the paint is evenly distributed and gives it the "wallpaper" effect that we want.

See the criss-cross paint?

This is how it looks like after it has been scraped using the spatula.

We finished painting the entire wall at 3 am. By the time I tucked cranky Aiden into bed (yes, he lasted that long!), it was close to 330 am. So where are the end results, you ask? Check out this post here to see how our living hall currently looks with this new feature wall and new curtains. A new look for Eid!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Polo Ralph Lauren Kids Raya Sale

I had a meeting in KL last week, so I decided to catch up with my colleagues in KL over lunch. When I say lunch I meant shopping - not eating okay! The first thing my friends told me as soon as I boarded their car to KLCC was - Polo Ralph Lauren Kids was on sale!

Well, when you become a Mummy, your clothes automatically become secondary. How your kids look sometimes actually matter more! Especially for boys, there aren't that many choices available to provide variation to their closet. It's either shirts or pants or shorts or t-shirts - you get the drift. Hence, having to resort to branded clothes for some variety.

As soon as we approached the shop, I whispered to my friend - "Takde signboard sale pun?" and she confidently replied "I dah masuk semalam, signboard dia kecikkkk jer!" And she was right. There was an itsy bitsy small signage which stated that everything was on 50% off storewide. I repeat, storewide! And if you buy 5 pieces, you get an additional 20%! 

But here comes the silly bit - if you buy 6 pieces you don't get the 20% off. You only get it with every 5 pieces - hence 5 or 10 or 15... Absurd if you ask me. Why deter customers from buying 8 pieces (for instance)? Thankfully, between the three of us we managed to pool our purchases to 10 pieces.

By the way - not all stock are displayed on the racks. I actually sat down on the floor and went through their drawers! *muka tebal* Trust your instincts and ignore the salesgirls!

Polo Ralph Lauren Kids on Level 2, KLCC

I bought matching tops for Aiden and Ian. Plus matching shorts for Ian.

This was on sale as well. It has a big number knitted at the back - very nice!

But instead I took it in white - as I had a similar top at home to match.

Matching tops for Aiden and I.

The mothers posing with our loot. My first time using the monopod in KLCC - it attracted quite a lot of curious onlookers!

So if you're struggling Raya clothes for your kids, try checking Polo Ralph Lauren. I am sure you will find something for your lucky daughter/son!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Iftar with the SPK Girls

Four years of friendship and three Eids together.

Wow. We are just 10 days away from the end of Ramadhan!

Alhamdulillah, this year's Ramadhan has been pretty easy so far (if compared with last year - heavily pregnant and fasting)! I was quite consistent with my terawih at the neighbourhood surau during the first week of Ramadhan - up until I found out that Aiden started sleeping in class! You see, Aiden used to follow Hubby and I to the surau for Isyak and terawih but by the time we get home and tuck him to sleep, it is usually close to midnight and he would struggle to wake up the next morning for school. Once he even fell asleep in the school van and knocked his head on the window when the van braked! So come the second week I volunteered to hold the fort down at home while Hubby continued with his terawih at the surau.

Apart from that, Ramadhan has been fairly smooth. We spent the first weekend in Teluk Intan with Hubby's grandmother, and the second weekend Hubby, Aiden and the in-laws visited the relatives in Kuantan. It was the first time that Hubby and Aiden balik kampung without Ian and I. I decided to stay home because I had observed how tired Ian got from the car ride - and to subject him to long distance travel on two consecutive weekends was a bit too much. So while the two boys were out of town, I took the opportunity to visit my mother and grandmother's grave and spent some time with my aunt.

Also, my yearly Ramadhan ritual included breaking fast with the SPK girlfriends. As usual, I would provide the venue whilst the rest would bring food - pot luck style! This year, we decided to make homemade Nasi Kerabu! For those of you who are completely oblivious to this Kelantan delicacy, Nasi Kerabu is a blue-coloured rice eaten with fried beef/fish/chicken, crackers, pickles and other salads (plus even Solok Lada if you're feeling particularly adventurous)! Then afterwards, the men would head to the surau for prayers and the kids would proceed to the garden to play fireworks. And the ladies would hang out till the wee hours of the morning, catching up and gossiping. Of course the men would then find an excuse to retreat to the local mamak shop and would only return when the kids get tired and cranky.

Nasi Kerabu and the various condiments that make up the meal. Quite leceh, in my opinion!

Far left is all the ulam for the Nasi Kerabu. Middle is my own homemade kuih bakar. Excuse the imperfect look - it was my first try! And on the right is my favourite akok

Akok and jala mas are my favourite Kelantan kuih. I guess I developed this liking after years of seeing my mum enjoying this, back in my younger days. (My mum is Kelatanese - in case you didn't know!) These Kelantan desserts are not easy to find in KL, so imagine my surprise when I found a stall selling akok at the Bukit Jelutong pasar Ramadhan! And it met all of my requirements - not too sweet and most importantly, not hanyir! So for the past three weeks of Ramadhan, I have been having akok every single day without fail! I even took down the stall owner's number in case I needed a dose of my favourite akok post Ramadhan. Guess what? He lives in the neighbourhood right beside mine!

Anyway, here are pictures from that night. After four years of friendship and three Ramadhans/Eids together, we're still as close as ever!

Every year, we would post for pictures at this exact spot.
Love this shot! All the wives made their respective husbands snap a group picture, it looked like we had a flock of paparazzi taking our pictures!

Now let's compare how we have changed along the years. On the left is 2014, on the right is 2012 (albeit missing one)!

Here are the kids having a second round of Nasi Kerabu. Aiden and the rest were in the living hall watching TV.

Here are the two babies of the gang! Fast asleep while the mummies gossiped.

And, here is a tradition we would practice every single year. The first year we did it, we went through packets and packets of fireworks trying to get the letters right -  the toughest challenge being writing in the mirror image! This year, we only needed two tries to get it right! Highlights of this tradition include the excitement of practicing, choosing which letter to "write", running to the fire to light up the bunga api and reminding each other to maintain the same height and to not block your own face!

This was 2012 - our first Eid/Ramadhan together. See how we completely blocked our faces in this shot?

We even tried writing Puasa

This was last year. 
Very sporting ladies. This was this year's attempt.

See how much we have improved through the years? *grin*

Anyway, thanks for the Iftar gathering, girls - you know who you are!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Biduanita Sharifah Aini

I am sure everyone read the sad news that the legendary Sharifah Aini passed away due to complications from lung fibrosis. A sad day indeed for everyone and especially the entertainment industry.

I don't usually blog about artists unless I know them on some personal level. In this case, I met Sharifah Aini when she performed at my Dad's 75th birthday party. Although technically her performance ended right after the party, she graciously agreed to meet us in her room. She even asked to carry Aiden and happily posed for pictures. Carrying the title of Biduanita Negara did not change her humility. Looking back, I was starstruck and even impressed that she would make the time for us.

5 years ago, we posed with Sharifah Aini.

I know I said back then that this picture would probably be a historical piece. I never knew it would come true.

Al-Fatihah Sharifah Aini. Semoga roh beliau ditempatkan dikalangan orang-orang beriman.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Snuza Trio Plus Review and Snuza Hero Giveaway!

Secret confession time! Every now and then Ian would sleep slightly longer than normal; then the paranoid me would take over and I would tiptoe up to him and watch his breathing. I would hold my breath in terror until I could positively ascertain that he was inhaling and exhaling normally. Of course, Ian being Mr- Light-Sleeper would somehow “sense” my presence and stir awake. And I would silently blame myself for worrying in the first place. But how can one not worry when there are so many stories circulating on the internet about baby deaths associated with sleep? This is usually known as SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and the lack of answers on why they happen is extremely frightening.

So when the folks at Tadgets contacted me last month to review the Snuza Trio Plus - their award winning mobile baby movement monitor enhanced with video and audio features, I accepted immediately! And indeed, the offer came at the perfect timing for us. After 7 months of co-sleeping with Ian, Hubby and I decided that it was time to start transitioning Ian into his playpen. I, of course welcomed the decision with open arms. After 7 months of sharing my sleeping space with him, I was very much looking forward to reclaiming what was previously mine. *grin* However, I needed comfort that I would be able to keep an eye/ear on him at all times, and the Snuza Trio Plus was able to provide us that reassurance.

The Snuza Trio Plus.

The best feature of the Snuza Trio Plus is of course, the Snuza Hero breathing monitor. It is a separate system from the audio/video system, thus can be used independently. I love it because it provides me peace of mind at the time when I need it most – when I am in deep sleep! I simply clip on the Snuza Hero to Ian’s diaper before putting him to sleep in the playpen (and relishing my newfound space on the bed). The Snuza Hero detects Ian’s movements and this nifty thing (it’s barely the size of my palm!) warns me whenever Ian’s movements become weak or slow. If it doesn’t detect any movement for 15 seconds, it will gently vibrate to try and prod the baby into breathing. If there is still no movement at 20 seconds (5 seconds after), a piercing alarm will sound rendering me awake and alert to assess the situation (and intervene if required).

See how small this brilliant thing is?

Interesting concept – but does it really work? And what makes it different from other baby monitors in the market? What about false alarms? Well yours truly took the liberty to google the answers for you and share my experience too! 

When clipped on the diaper, the Snuza Hero fits snugly to the baby and is in constant contact with the baby stomach. It is much better than under-mattress monitors in the market because the Snuza Hero directly monitors the tummy area and is better at picking up movements, hence reducing the chances of a false alarm (and interrupting mummy’s beauty sleep). It is cordless so I can use it on-the-go anywhere! I even tried clipping it on Ian and cradled him to sleep. Surprisingly, although it was rubbing against my energetic movements coaxing Ian to sleep, it did not fall off. (To ensure a snug fit, try folding the top part of the diaper before clipping it on.) After two weeks of using it, the Snuza Hero has never once given me a false alarm (or even an alarm for that matter). Curious on whether it was working properly, I turned it on and left it on the table to test the vibration and alarm features. Boy oh boy – the alarm was LOUD! 

Ian using the Snuza Hero breathing monitor.
Thank you Snuza Hero, for keeping Ian safe at night.

For fellow engineers (and curious mothers) out there who love drooling over specs and features, check out the picture below for the full specifications of the Snuza Hero:

Next, I was very impressed with the Snuza Trio Plus’ video and audio capabilities. The 3.5” LCD screen runs on either battery life or electric power – so I have the mobility of taking the monitor everywhere around the house; from baking in the kitchen even to tending my plants in the garden! The camera needs electric power though – but the unit comes with a long electrical cord and I am blessed with tons of power sockets around the house therefore this is not such a big issue for me. I love the fact that I can remotely control the camera to pan and tilt left, right, up and down; so when I use it to monitor Ian in his play area, I can let Ian roll anywhere he wants as I know I am always able to see him on screen. Ian is at a stage where he is curious about everything and rolling is his main mode of ground transportation, hence it is pretty pointless to confine him to just one area. The tilt button works just like a joystick – I was actually able to work the buttons to “follow” Ian from one end of my living hall to the other! The camera also has an automatic night vision, so although the quality of the image was slightly reduced; I could still clearly see Ian sleeping upstairs in the bedroom on the monitor without having to turn on a night light. You can also set the system to voice operation mode, so when the camera detects a sound above your preferred preset level, the monitor will light up to alert you.

This is the quality of the feed in the dark. Can you imagine the quality of the feed in daylight? *impressed*

I was also amazed at the crystal clear audio feed. I left Aiden and Ian in the living hall while I was working on my laptop in the dining hall, and I could clearly hear Aiden talking to Ian (and Ian coo-ing back) via the monitor. There is also a cool talk-back function that you can use to remotely soothe your baby with your voice – if that works for your baby. That function wasn’t very useful for me as Ian insisted on sensing a presence to calm down. But I managed to exploit that function to suit my use, which was to talk to Aiden when playing with his brother. “Aiden, stop cuddling your brother!” is my favourite phrase nowadays – can you feel the brotherly love? Poor Ian is constantly getting hugs and kisses of affection from his big brother. I am definitely going to miss this phase when the boys grow up! 

Oh yes, there is even a room temperature display and a timer to remind you of your baby’s feeding time. *amazed smile* Wait, wait – before you run to the first available shop to get the Snuza Trio Plus for your baby, there is a giveaway at the end of this post! 

Overall, I wish I had discovered the Snuza range much sooner. I surfed their website (link here), and I was absolutely floored with the range of baby monitors they offer to suit your needs and your budget. 

Now for the exciting part… Tadgets has agreed to giveaway the award winning Snuza Hero breathing monitor to two of my lucky readers! How to win? Simple – tell me why you deserve the Snuza Hero in the comment box below. To remain impartial, I will use to choose the winning entry (so claiming that you’re my long lost friend won’t probably work here). *grin

If you are not one of the chosen readers, fret not! Tadgets is the exclusive distributor for Snuza Baby Monitors in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. To purchase Snuza Baby Monitors in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, please visit Tadgets Snuza Baby Monitors are safe for babies and are manufactured according to FCC, CE and ROHS standards.

Disclosure: I received a free product for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product. This giveaway is sponsored by Tadgets. Lizzieasamummy is not responsible for prize shipment or fulfillment.
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