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Cheesecake Saturday...

>> Nov 29, 2009

It was raining again :-( after a couple of days hot-hot sun. Grey skies and feeling a little restless...I'm getting it from Max!

So, instead of staying home watching the rain drumming tit-tit-tat-tat rhythmically on the polycarbonate skylight and playing a game of chinese chess, we went for afternoon tea minus the tea...that is we had a afternoon with an espresso.

Espresso Cheesecake

Blueberry Cheesecake

Oreo Cheesecake

One of the best cheesecake in town, Secret Recipe,  Ooooo....absolutely yummy! Of the 3 flavours, I like Espresso Cheesecake the best, it's firm and rich with very strong aroma of espresso. The Blueberry is a bit too sweet for me and the Oreo is creamy and quite light & fluffy, almost mousse-like.

I managed to capture these delightful slices just before crumbs were all that is left ! What a cheessssssy afternoon...dinner was just a salad after a very satisfying & so filling tea-time.


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Christmas is coming...

>> Nov 27, 2009

“Jingle bells, jingle bells…” - I’m starting on my preparation for Christmas.

I know there’s still 28 days to Christmas but I’ve started my Christmas shopping, it’s going to take time to get the perfect gift. I love shopping for gifts and wrapping gifts. Sometimes, it’s so difficult to get the perfect gift… we can only guess what he/she needs by the hints (sometimes not so subtle uh? J ). Well, more like suitable gift.

I’ve drawn out my Action Plan, hahaha… that’s what I do… I have weekly plan, monthly plan and yearly plan so I just prepare a Christmas celebration plan! Easy & organized, right? … J My Strategic Christmas Plan! My Boss will be so proud of me...

First, draw up the Gift List so we’ll know how many gifts we need to get. Then, there is the Christmas baking, what are we going to bake and cook and what are we going to order from the Shops. Entertaining guests – are you hosting a family dinner, Christmas party or having the celebration at a posh hotel restaurant? It is best to make early plans so you don’t get run off your feet, getting the stuff, ingredients, gifts, send invitations and then you’ll be too tired to enjoy the fun.

This year, we’ll be celebrating at my aunt’s place, so it’s going to be easy for me. I’m already shopping for some gifts and will bring something from my kitchen.

There’s the fruitcake that I need to start baking next week for ourselves and some friends. And, I tried out a nice Christmassy jelly late last night. I need to improve on the timing and I found the jelly layers separating as I unmolded it. :-(

Here it is…

I'll be baking some cookies to gift to some friends... I think December is the busiest month for most though it's the school final term break where teachers get to rest & Moms get to climb trees (just joking!) keeping kids busy, most working people will be clearing annual leave, taking kids for holidays and some will be catching up with incomplete 2009 New Year Resolution. Err.. me too!

Meantime...Happy Thanksgiving !

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Wet-wet days

>> Nov 18, 2009

It’s been raining practically everyday in the afternoon and sometimes even at night over here with grey skies… makes me feel sleepy and lazzzzzzzzy!

Keeping a restless child entertained is beginning to be a challenge. The gloomy skies were getting to Max too. Unlike me, he’s moody, grouchy, touchy and grumpy. Outdoor play has to be postponed and replaced with indoor activities. So, that’s reading, jigsaw puzzles, Lego blocks, colouring, sketching, puzzle books and some computer games. Kids, especially boys have high energy levels and it’s best to find entertaining home activities to fill their time.

I try to avoid letting the TV fill his time while I get the weekend housework cleared unless there is a very good and education program that will hold his attention.

Luckily Max likes documentaries. He started enjoying Discovery Channel programs at an early age of 3 and its’ wonderful documentaries about the secrets and wonders of our Mother Earth, the solar system, nature and he loves aeroplanes, helicopters and military aircrafts. The mysteries and amazing science can hold his attention.

School year-end break is beginning this weekend and I gotta make some entertaining plans including teaching him some board games as well as some others besides the above.

Here are some helpful ideas...

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White Hibiscus

>> Nov 17, 2009

Yes…another hibiscus. I told you I have a passion for them. J

What a lovely surprise…another lovely flower. It’s white with the very softest pink blush in the eye, it’s just so lovely and so sweet. I hope you like them too.

Even the gloomy skies couldn’t cast any shadows on these beauties…or my ‘happy’ mood. It’s definitely worth waiting months to see the bud and then the flower at last.J

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Orange red hibiscus

Yay, I’m so happy… you can see me grinning from ear to ear on Saturday morning…

Finally, my hibiscus bloomed after months and months of waiting. It’s a large orange-red double of approximately 12cm in diameter and this morning I saw another bloom at 14.5cm in diameter. The petals with generous frills reminds me of a passionate Spanish Flamenco dancer with the beautiful ruffles on her dress as she moved to the rhythms of the acoustic guitar.

The colour is an attractive bright orange-red shade. I could have sat there, enjoyed my breakfast coffee and stare at it the whole morning… it’s just so beautiful!

I accidentally shove the first bloom which was probably too fragile after a night of rain. The stem just snapped  and it dropped to the ground...and I was almost heart-broken but I did try to preserve it....:-(

I cannot begin to explain this unexplained passion for hibiscus…. ?? J ??

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Take time to smell the flowers...

>> Nov 9, 2009

I’m thankful I still have a small patch of green. When we renovated our house a few years ago there was a choice to tile the whole place or down-size the small garden. We’re glad we chose the latter. It’s small but I feel closer to nature each time I get to spend some minutes there.

A garden requires lots of work, we need to tend to them, get some weeding done, add some new colorful blooms… ah, and I have small water garden feature. The sound of water in the early hours of the morning or late evening when all is quiet except for the splashing of water as it fall from a small jug 2 feet high above the small water tank, is just what we needed.

I have a small pot of desert rose, a hibiscus and a small pot of golden pothos to liven up the earthen jug & tank. 2 pots of bamboo with its rustling leaves in the evening breeze, provided the music to the accompaniment of water feature. I try to relax after a hectic day with a glass of chilled apple juice, unwind for a few minutes before retiring for the day...

Have you taken the time to ponder on your busy life, have you spent some time with your elderly folks, have you spent some quality bonding time with your little ones (there’s always school-work, school activities, extra-curricular classes & classes… but when was the last time you chatted with the little fella about his friends, his likes? Very soon, they’ll leave the nest before you realize), have your picked up phone lately to call your friends (I know, I know… we have emails, skype, social networking sites… why bother to call? Right?)… Sometimes, we are so busy and so involved with our life, our career, ourselves… we have neglected a lot.

So, take time to smell the flowers, feel the rain, hear the wind…

Have a good week ahead.

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Red... Strawberry Mirror Cheesecake

>> Nov 8, 2009

Yay! I did it this time! J

I got the taste and texture right this time…hubby and the little prince both love it too. My lucky neighbours too!

I worked on it late last night and it’s well worth it. As I unmoulded it just now, I was a little apprehensive something might be wrong… the last time I made it…it was a real failure! I was worried it might be too runny, won’t set, strawberries floating or… or something. Luckily it looks almost perfect, the red strawberry-flavour jelly is very pretty looking and strawberries weren’t too tart.

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Italian Friday... Mushroom Pasta Alfredo

>> Nov 7, 2009

Mmmmmmmm……Mushroom Pasta Alfredo!

I tried this recipe from Allrecipe, thanks to the posting by Kathy Rose, and here it is, wow, it’s smooth. The reviews and contributions from fellow foodies really helped.

It's yummy. Alright, we always have pasta or pizza, at least once a week, and this is really good.

Bring a lightly salted pot of water to boil, add in pasta and boil for 7-9 minutes per packet’s instruction, or till al dente. Drain and set aside.

3 pips of garlic, chopped fine
½ cup heavy cream
2-3 tbsp butter
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced button mushroom
A pinch of salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, over medium low heat, melt butter and stir in garlic. Slowly whisk in cream and let it start to simmer. Keep whisking as you add in freshly grated cheese, little by little, till the cheese melted. Lastly, add in sliced mushroom.

I serve with blanched broccoli florets and add some dried parsley.

A simple Friday dinner, gotta rush for Max’s music class.

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“When I was small and the Christmas trees were tall…”

>> Nov 6, 2009

I watched Jacky Cheung, HK's Superstar 2005 Live Performance DVD late last night for the umpsteen times and he sang “When I was small and the Christmas trees were tall…” from 1969 Bee Gee’s First of May. Oh, it’s so beautifully sung.

Yes, another reminder Christmas will be here soon. J

I gotta dig out the Christmas tree from the storeroom together with some decors and maybe if I have some time, shop for some new ones to add on. Then I gotta to make out a shopping list. Then I gotta check against last year’s list… I don’t want to get the same stuff again this year!

Choosing a Christmas gift, here’s usually what I do,

1.      Sometimes, I buy them at bargain sale time which can be some months before Christmas but not this year. I’ve been so busy… I’ve been blogging! Hahaha. But it depends on your luck. You just might get something you have been eyeing for sometime at a very good price. That’ll be some savings in $$$. Then, hide it till Christmas… just don’t forget where you hid it, that’s all!
2.      I hand-make some stuff personally which gives it a very personal touch. It can be a jewellery box, a picture frame, a knitted scarf, artificial flower arrangement, a dress/blouse…
3.      Bake a batch of cookies which you think they will like. Or something from your very own kitchen, you efforts will not be dismissed, in fact, most appreciated if the recipients are foodies. These are perfect especially for your neighbours. Or a cake, beautifully decorated with Christmas theme.
4.      When it comes to getting toys for children, I’m pretty careful. First, must be suitable for the age, no too-small bits in case there might be babies at home (eg: Lego blocks), non-toxic materials in toys if the wooden blocks are painted or non-toxic colour pencils or crayons. Educational toys preferred, and suitable for sharing with siblings and also suitable for passing on to younger siblings later on.

5.       Gift for HIM – mmmmm… there’s after-shave, toiletries, fragrances, menswear, necktie, leather belt, cuff-links, DVDs or music CDs, fishing rod, roller-skates (I got a pair or roller-blades for hubby a few years ago), watch, a bottle of whisky/wine, pen set, digital camera or camera lens he has been eyeing, leather wallet or bill-fold, a good book on photography or hobbies-related, a photo album (I did that once, compiling all my hubby’s favourite photos), concert-tickets, golf club… I know it sounds endless but it takes time to get it right. It should be something HE has been eyeing, longing to get, needed and perhaps can use for sometime.
6.      Gift for HER – Hehehe, now that is pretty tough! A bottle of her favourite fragrance will be nice, a spa treatment voucher (that would be a lovely treat to pamper her, or me), a new car (I wonder if Hubby is reading my blog), toiletries (a bar of scented soap, bath foam), a crystal bracelet, a nice handbag, a book (got a cookbook once, many year ago… that got me thinking if my cooking was that bad!... hehehe… then, a book on Yoga – message? I need exercise?), limited edition DVD, costume jewelry or jewelry (now, that is not easy for Men to get for HER), a new kitchen mixer (pleazzzze, hope Hubby is reading the blog) or a new kitchen gadget, a bottle of Benedictine DOM, a dress/scarf, iPhone, a holiday trip (that would be most lovely & needed), a dress watch, lingerie, swimsuit …
7.      I give every gift lots of thots – like will it be useful, will he/she like it, was it hinted, is the colour right, is the size right, is it too luxurious or otherwise (I don’t like to go overboard). I always focus on whether they will like the present and find any use for it.
8.      I have one box of ribbons in various width, material and colours to coordinate with the wrappers chosen. I love wrapping presents. It’s so fun.
9.      There are some plain colour rolls of wrappers which are suitable for all occasions, like gold or silver or pink or blue or green or striking red. Just co-ordinate with a colourful matching ribbon for the perfect wrapped gift.

I just realized I was making out my very own Christmas Wish-List… Hehehe.

I’ll have more ideas on Christmas presents in the next posting.

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Countdown to ... Christmas!

>> Nov 5, 2009

I don’t believe it! I thot I just packed away the Christmas tree, like a couple of months ago? I was looking for some cute clip arts and suddenly stumbled on this counter – yup, “Countdown to Christmas” and I was counting off the months on my fingers..., but its’ less than 2 months to Christmas! And, to be precise its’ 49 days only to Christmas!

It’s the best time of the year for most people, the festive spirit, the decorations, the Christmas songs playing untiringly on the radio, the food, the parties, the presents, it’s as if magical dust has been sprinkled all over the planet.

The smiles on the children’s faces are the best, nothing can beat that as we watched their cute little eyes became round and lit up as they opened their presents.

Sigh!... wish I was still a kid!

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Layered Jelly

>> Nov 2, 2009

Lately, I seem to be making lots of chilled dessert... and this is another of my weekend experiment.

I just added another one to the collection, 2-tone layered jelly. A book, all on jelly and pudding in a bookstore caught my eyes a couple of weeks ago. They looked so delightful & colourful and that gave me an idea to experiment a little over the weekend.

The recipe is the same as Soymilk Jelly. I just tweaked it a little, used small cute jelly molds instead of a big glass dish, to create small cute individual chilled dessert. I used fresh soymilk instead of coconut milk or evaporated milk or condensed milk which can do as well.

And, the last piece...

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Grandma’s Birthday - Cappuccino Cake

This is the cake I made for my Mom’s birthday over the weekend. It’s a light and fluffy aromatic cappuccino sponge cake, frosted and topped with chocolate shavings.

Something is missing… I know, some big juicy strawberries would be great to complete the picture! I didn’t have time to get any. Mom love it, the kids love it, the family love it, despite the missing piece.

I had planned on getting some chocolate design.... but it's one of those..."when you rush-when you are short on time-when your kids needed your attention...." well, something like that. So this is the end result! Sigh!

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A place to share my thots, my experiences, my dreams, my musings, my tips...
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