Packing, unpacking…

We have started moving into our new home and unlike the last time, I could help out with the whole process by organizing for a cleaner, a locksmith, cleaner as well as sourcing for electrical items. I managed to take two days off work, making this coming weekend a pretty long one. In a way, it’s good that my parents are coming by because we’ll be painting the hall as well as the master bedroom – nothing fancy, just white.

We are expecting most of our big items to be delivered from the end of this week, so our target is to move in proper by Sunday and spend the following Monday cleaning up the old place. Honestly, I’m looking forward to it. The new place has a lot of potential and space. I intend to buy some indoor plants to function both as decor as well as an air filter – the plants I’ve chosen for this is the Chinese Evergreen, Aloe Vera, Spider Plant as well as Peace Lily and Mother-in-Law’s tongue which I think will go great in the bathroom. I’ve always wanted to have a plant in the bathroom. *grin*

Since we have a little balcony area outside our master bedroom – it’s the ground floor so it’s not really a functional balcony (forget about patio chairs la) – I thought it’d be nice to get some flowering fragrant plants. I have this vision of an armchair next to the window, me all curled up with a book with the breeze and some soft fragrance floating around the balcony. So I went out on a whim and bought myself a lovely pot of Jasmine (Arabian Jasmine to be exact). Am tempted to get some Gardenias as well but we’ll see how it goes as the nurseries are pretty far and I’m car-less.

Then there is the matter of getting curtains. I have tons of ideas in mind and well, it’s all I can think of these days – packing, unpacking, cleaning, moving, curtains, plants, paint.

Ah, the perils of owning your place.

🙂

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Cream cheese pound cake

Cream cheese pound cake

I had been toying with the idea of making a cake for Eva’s teatime snack since she loves grazing – normal toddler behaviour. Since I had some cream cheese, I decided to make a wonderfully creamy cake that is packed with some calcium goodness. After spending a good twenty minutes searching for the right recipe, I came across one that looked pretty promising. I didn’t want to make a huge cake – we are not really big cake fans and with the moving coming soon, I didn’t want too much in the freezer – so I halved the recipe and made some adjustments.

The outcome is very yummy – Eva couldn’t wait to try it out and she kept asking for more. While Nil and her are okay with it, I would definitely cut back on the amount of sugar used – I used a little less than the 1.5 cups required but it looks like I can get it down to 1 cup. Otherwise, everything else is good. The cake isn’t as browned as in the original recipe as I didn’t want to burn it in between my food poisoning-related toilet trips and power naps. So I moved the rack nearer to the bottom heating element to allow the bottom bit to cook a little bit more – hence difference in the density between the top and bottom of the cake. Still, it makes for a very moist “light” cake.

I’d love to try this recipe out again but this time with things like nuts and dried fruits like cranberry, apricots or even fresh fruit like blueberry. It should be great as muffins too! YUM!

Cream cheese pound cake
Adapted from Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe here

Ingredients

170 gms unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 gms cream cheese, at room temperature
Slightly less than 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 7 inch round pan with baking paper. Alternately, you can use a loaf pan.
  2. Remove three eggs from the fridge and place aside – eggs should be used at room temperature and not fresh out of the fridge. Do the same with the butter and cream cheese – they should be slightly soft to the touch when ready.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and sugar on medium speed until smooth or for 5 minutes before adding in the eggs one by one. Mix well.
  5. Gradually add in the flour – if you can, mix by hand to avoid gluten formation. This will give you a nice fluffy cake.
  6. When ready, pour the batter into the pan and lightly shake it to even out the top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (first 35 minutes in the center, next 10-15 minutes in a lower rack and then the remaining time in the center again) or until the top is golden brown and the insides cooked – test using a toothpick (it should come out clean if cooked).
  7. Serve as is warm or with some coffee/tea. Freeze the remaining leftovers and if need, rebake covered to warm up or warm up in the microwave (in a microwaveable container).
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Shades of Amber

SS Handspun - Shades of Amber

Ply | Three
Yardage | 219.5 m
WPI | NA
Fibre | Superwash BFL
Tool | Serenity Wheel [10:1]

I bought this fiber on a whim together with a braid of a yummy dark wine berry roving and proceeded to spin this up immediately after working on that awful two-ply. Needless to say, I’m glad to go back to some three ply handspun. While I love the outcome and how the colours turned out, trouble is that my spinning has become rather inconsistent because of the lack of practice. Some parts are beautiful spun and plied up whereas some are, well, need more work – they aren’t bad, they just aren’t perfect.

I definitely need to spend more time in front of the wheel. *sigh* Do I sense a burn-out of hobbies of some sort coming up or is it just the flu bug talking?

SS Handspun - Shades of Amber

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Jelly Berry

SS Handspun - Jelly Berry

Ply | Two
Yardage | 501.4 m
WPI | NA
Fibre | Merino-bamboo
Tool | Serenity Wheel [10:1]

All I’ll say is I hate two-plying! It’s fiddly, it’s annoying and well, I just hate it. Gimme Navajo any day, any time, PLEASE!

When I was spinning this up in singles, they were gorgeous and the colours were perfect; it was from my own handdyed stash. Unfortunately, as I plied it, my admiration and love turned into slow boiling rage and hate. By the time I wanted to stop and change my mind, it was already too late. So here it is, two plied yarn that looks like swirls of berry jelly. O’well…

SS Handspun - Jelly Berry

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Being a mum – Part II

From the delivery, you could say that I was thwarted and given a brief glimpse of how things would be in the future as a mother. Instead of the natural delivery I had in mind, I got an emergency c-sec after being induced twice and the long 24 hour wait since my water bag broke. Why the c-sec? Because my daughter was awfully relaxed in a complete breech position.

I went through the baby blues in the first week and later on the first month; I remember crying my eyeballs out non-stop whenever Nil had to go home to be with my parents. Although the hospital allowed husbands to stay and come in as and when they like, having my parents around meant that he had to juggle visits to the hospital as well as taking care of them. That coupled with the move stressed him out considerably, which left me alone to manage and cope with being a new mum.

While hospital staff were very helpful, patient and understanding (THANK GOD), it still didn’t stop me from feeling overwhelmed. I knew that part of it was hormonal while the other part of it was irrational but people telling me to just stop because it’s wrong was not helpful. When new mothers suffer from baby blues, the last thing they need is the typical “You should cry coz it’s unhealthy” – we know it; we just want someone to say “It’s okay, things will get better” no matter how shallow or superficial that may sound.

My first week at the hospital was basically me learning how to adapt to Eva – she was a sleeper and while some people may be happy to get one, I wasn’t because sleepers are just that; they sleep and don’t eat much. She was also quite content to sleep in my arms but not in her bassinet and was prone to fussing the moment the sun set. While we managed to get her to sleep in her own crib/moses basket, the fussing carried on well into the first month. At one point it got so bad that we had to break out the car seat and drive around just so she could get some much needed sleep. She was easily startled as well and that coupled with the fact that I was the only one in my house who knew anything about breastfeeding made things even crazier in the first month. The typical Chinese confinement of dressing in long sleeved attire in the middle of summer as well as being under house arrest didn’t make things better and sometimes I would stay up with Eva in my arms just crying.

Things went out of control in France – after we moved out of our Swiss apartment and down to Mazelgirard where Nil’s family home is. I broke down one night after Eva wailed and wailed non-stop. I had no idea what was wrong with her and to make things worse, the two of us (Nil and I) were stressed out over the move so my sis-in-law walked into the room (with me still crying with Eva) and offered to take care of Eva for the night (Nil was mortified to wake up to the sight of his sister comforting me beside him). For the first time, my daughter slept on her own in the dark. In a way, it showed me that Eva was just as stressed out as I was about everything and while I felt like a crappy mother in those initial days, I began to realize that I should maybe drop the comparisions and the worries, and go just with the flow. My negativity about being moved from Switzerland back to Asia and all the possible crappiness that was to come with the move not to mention my loneliness (Nil was staying at our Swiss apartment to handle the handover, clean-up and all) and overwhelming feeling of having to cope with all these things was being mirrored in my daughter and it was the last thing I want for her.

When we arrived in Singapore, we set about to making things better for all of us. We bought a vibrating bouncer which saved us during those fussy nights when Eva was suffering from jetlag as well (that meant that her witching hours were 3am onwards Singapore time!) and invested in a Baby Bjorn as I had read and heard that babywearing helps to settle a fussy baby without hindering the parent’s movement too much. It would seem that things got onto a smooth start and before we knew it, we were looking at a calmer, and well, much more rested baby who seemed happier. Just how much happier, well, we had no idea until she was more active and “awake”. All we knew was that the moment she could smile socially, we had people telling us that she is such a smiley baby.

I started feeling normal again as I could go out, run errands, do my own thing without having to struggle with a young baby in tow. On the breastfeeding front, we were both going strong and I was getting the hang of things – she was putting on weight and well, have a good time on/at the boob. It would seem that things were finally looking up but the smooth ride, you could say, doesn’t last forever.

To be continued…

Other related stories:
Part I

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My army of piggies!

One of my piggie plushies, aka Winnie

Army of Piggies
Fabric | 100% cotton (remnants)
Pattern | Lenny the Guinea Pig from Bit of Whimsy Dolls

These are actually made for the give-away which I held recently for the shop. Three will be going out to the winners together with some booties which I’ve been struggling to crochet up (it’ll be a month since the draw OMG) because of my crazy schedule – me falling ill (and am still recovering – I got hit by a double dose of flu back-to-back) didn’t help at all. The fourth piggie – seen above and called Winnie – will be heading off to a lovely home in Lyon to Nil’s friend who just recently became a dad to a very cute baby boy.

I’m actually thinking of including some soft toys into the inventory and phasing our baby bibs & burpies for the store – a few people have asked if I’d like to sell these. I’ve always felt that sewing is way more faster in terms of product gratification so it’s left to be seen if I’d like to continue on with the booties. Apart from guinea pigs, I’m thinking of adding the usual repertoire of creatures like the dog, cat and lamb to the list and a newbie – the hedgehog for that added twist of texture.

Trouble now is that I just need some extra time to squeeze in the sewing on top of the stuff that I’ll be doing and oh, the move. Yes, did I mention that we’ll be moving to our new place at the end of this month? Talk coping with a crazy schedule! ARGH!

My army of piggie plushies (L-R: Babe, Winnie, Cora, Alfred) - to be given away to (I hope) good homes!

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Crowded MRT woes.

I usually don’t talk about the kind of nonsense I have to put up with when I’m taking public transport here in Singapore because, well, given the fact that this tiny island holds millions of people, it’s a normal occurence. BUT of lately, it’s becoming annoying and frankly, I’m beginning to tire of the sort of things I go through like clockwork. I’ve resorted to going to work slightly earlier than usual just to beat the crowd but it doesn’t really work.

I have resorted to calling people kiasu, scolding them whenever I try to disembark. Why? Because the people standing right at the doors refused to step out for even a minute for fear that the train would leave without them. It’s hard to squeeze through that 1-2 cm of space – I don’t think anyone is all that thin to begin with and it amazes me how willing people are to squeeze the life out of the complete stranger behind or next to them than to just step outside for a few moments. Of course there is the issue of people just refusing to go further into the train or bus and end up hogging and squeezing like sardines in a tin can in the front or at the door when they could have ample standing room in the center. Hai.

I’ve had my fair share of crowds during my LRT days in Kuala Lumpur but this morning was definitely a first. I was doing my usual reading in the MRT, clutching onto my bag when before I know it, this old man slides up right behind me, rubs his arms and chest across my back while trying to hold onto the central pole and the more I tried to squish away from him, the closer he gets. It got to the point where I started to wonder whether it was accidental (since the chap next to me gave him ample room) or intentional. I think if you gave him a pull up bar, he would still have done the same thing, brush up against other people. As he made his slinky way towards the exit, I noticed that he nearly did the same thing to another woman, except that she had room to stand away. Needless to say, I was a little dumbfounded at the whole thing and looking back, I should have said something instead of trying to squish away. Part of me wish I struck him over the head with my full bag but that would have ended in disaster in a ultra crowded train.

Other people don’t have it so lucky. There have been new reports going around that certain stops are jampacked with people that the entire platform is not accessible and people on escalators were having problems getting off because of the lack of standing room. Sometimes I do wonder if it is ever possible to place a load limit on the number of people allowed in a train or on a platform.

But yes, that’s the perils of taking public transport in Singapore during the rushhour. I think I’ll carry some durian skin with me the next time so that I get to leave marks of my own when an old uncle tries to get too friendly. =.=

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Piggies are done…

Yes, the beady black eyes, pink nose and yellow lips are all complete albeit quite amateurishly done but hey, my camera gave out on me; batteries are dead. Gah. I have problems looking for the charger and all the rechargeable batteries are, well, dead to the world. This always happens to me.

When I need to take a pic or video, my camera batteries break down or just throw a huge tantrum. My previous phone was fabulous for this sort of thing because it took pretty good pics but alas, I lost that phone so am stuck with my other mobile which can’t take pictures good enough to save its life. I doubt pumping it full of e-vitamins would help.

Hai. Looks like piggie pics will just have to wait. Sorry folks.

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