Petit Gems – With My Own Two Hands

Several years ago, I took one of those career quizzes for the fun of it…you know, those that will inevitably tell you what sort of career you are most suited for, based on your answers to several quirky questions like “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”

Well anyway, the results I got showed that I would be most suited for a career involving my hands.  I remember clearly that the results gave examples like craft work, florist, etc.  Of course I didn’t think too much of it.  After all, at that time, I was already working as a IT consultant, doing project management and software engineering.

Fast forward a few years later, and my daughter is showing a keen interest on girlie stuff for the hair.  So I decided to try making them myself, just so I could customize them to her favorite colors.

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I soon found out that to make them myself, I could not stop at making just one or two!  And the raw material used had to be purchased in bulk too!  So I ended up with more than a few…haha.  Well that’s when some friends suggested I sell my handmade hair accessories.  So after weighing the pros and cons, I’ve decided to kickstart my small home business selling my handmade accessories.  The price of the items I am selling comprises the cost of the materials used and a little bit extra to cover the time I spent creating them, plus the countless times I would accidentally poke my fingers with the needle or burn my hands with hot glue. Haha.

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Anyway, I’m naming it Petit Gems.  It will start off as a Facebook page and Instagram page for now, but if the response is good, and I find more time on my hands, I will create a proper website for it.  I wanted to name it Little Gems at first, but apparently it is the name of a preschool in Penang.  Thanks to my hubby, he suggested adding some French flair to the name, so Petit Gems was born.  I’m incredibly proud that I even designed the logo myself! :)

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I would truly appreciate it if you could check out my page and let me know what you think.  Oh, and if you really like what I have created, just simply click LIKE.  Thank you very much, and as the French would say, Merci beaucoup! :)

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Delicious Homemade Graham Crackers

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When my daughter had her early Christmas party and celebration before the end of the school year a couple of weeks ago, I made these graham crackers for her to bring along to share.  It was a spur of the moment decision, because I was searching for an easy recipe that did not have eggs (simply because I had run out of eggs).  I found the perfect recipe here.

Well, you know what they say … sometimes simple things turn out the best!  The kids were so in love with these cookies that they wanted to eat them non-stop!  I had to ration the cookies just so there would be enough to bring to school.

Graham crackers are meant to taste similar to digestive biscuits.  They are fulfilling, more-ish, and oh-so-good.  Mine were not very crispy, but had a slightly chewy texture.  And because these are homemade, I gave some to my little baby too, who happily munched on them!  The slightly chewy texture made it so easy for her to chew and swallow.

So anyway, just a couple of days ago, it was my son’s turn to request for some goodies for his class party, and he wanted these graham crackers too.  I decided to cut them into festive candy cane shapes.

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These are so easy to make, and I promise you that your kids are going to love them!  And they are perfect for Christmas too!

Homemade Graham Crackers (adapted from Kitchen Simplicity)
(Yields about 38-40 regular sized cookies/crackers)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat bread flour)
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup honey (I used maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer add flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir to combine (Speed 2 on the Kitchen Aid).
  2. Add butter and mix until the mixture has turned to coarse crumbs.graham3
  3. Add honey/maple syrup and water. Mix until incorporated and the dough is easily gathered into a ball.
  4. Using hands, shape dough into a flat disk.  I actually divided the dough into two and shaped it into 2 flat disks, about an inch thick.
  5. Wrap in cling wrap, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
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  6. Removed from the fridge, and roll out the dough until about ½ inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes and sizes.
  7. Place crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll remaining dough until all of dough is used up.
  8. Bake at 350ºF (175ºC) for 15 minutes, until slightly darkened around edges.  They should be set but still slightly soft (they will harden as they cool). Remove crackers to a wire wrack to cool.
  9. Store in an airtight container for 1 week, or freeze for longer storage.

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Project Declutter Playroom

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Decluttering.

The very thought of it makes me so happy inside.  Really.

I always feel so liberated after a decluttering session, like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  The more I declutter, the lighter I feel.

However my problem is that I dont’ have time to do it often enough.  There’s always something else that I will be doing: cooking, cleaning, laundry (which is a 4-stage process: washing, drying, folding and ironing!), watering plants, gardening, making clips, writing articles, feeding kids … well, anyway…today I decided I would put aside whatever I wanted to do and declutter the playroom.  Or part of it, rather.  My littlest one is becoming more and more curious and she loves the playroom, so it is essential to make it as baby-friendly as possible.

Cleaning up and decluttering is a multi-layer process for me.  My hands get irritated and very itchy at the slightest amount of dust, so I have to wear gloves when I am doing any work, even wiping down shelves and books!  In addition, I have to wear a layer of plastic gloves when I clean, because I am allergic to latex; and change into a fresh pair each time they get wet, which is quite often, if you think about it: wiping and rinsing, etc.

So anyway, as soon as my baby fell asleep today, I got to work.  This is part of what I had to deal with.

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After moving aside some items, and then vacuuming and wiping, I sieved through the mountain of items and toys and junk and I managed to put aside these items for tossing out.

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Not bad eh, for only half the playroom area?  Feels good to get rid of toys and junk that aren’t usable anymore…and this is absolutely essential, so that we have space for other new toys, like my little one’s newest “pet woodpecker” Trudi.  It was sent to her specially from Applecrumby & Fish, and really, it’s so cute to see her pull Trudi along for walks around the house!  The wooden wheels are sturdy, yet gentle enough for baby.  They don’t make loud clunky sounds because they have a strip of protective layer on them.  An added bonus is of course the fact that Trudi looks very adorable!

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While decluttering, I also found these wooden puzzles that were hidden away at the back of the playroom.  I sorted them out and made a small play zone for my little baby to explore.  She was so happy to see the toys when she awoke!

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Oh yeah, the yellow pre-loved Bumbo seat you see in the picture is for sale.  It’s one of my attempts to clear more space for more kids’ stuff in the future. :)

The white storage shelves you see are actually Expedit shelves from Ikea (I think they are currently unavailable in Malaysia or perhaps have been discontinued).  Initially I wanted to get the 5×1 combination, but the 4×2 combo was on sale, so my hubby managed to convince me to get that instead.  The pull-out fabric boxes are Drona, also from Ikea.  We didn’t get enough for all the shelves though, and now the lime green colored ones are not available anymore.

Anyway, I decided to make some labels for the pull-out boxes so that the kids will hopefully know how and where to organise and put away their stuff.  I had been procrastinating on this project for close to a year now!  Sigh.

Anyway, here’s how the finished product looks:

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I googled for pictures relating to the contents of the box, printed and cut them out, and then I laminated them into nice little cards.  I the used some foam tape to stick them to the box.  Hope they stay put!  I opted for pictures in the interest of my littlest one, who would still be using pictures to know what’s in the boxes, as opposed to reading words.

I’m glad I managed to do some decluttering today, and hope that this is a first step towards a decluttering project every Friday to come!

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Tackling The Five Thousand Dollar Buns Recipe

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So apparently the creator of this recipe utilised five thousand dollars (I’m assuming RMB) to obtain this supposedly super soft and super fluffy buns that are to die for.  I tried a tweaked version a few months ago, but it wasn’t that good, perhaps because I didn’t use cake flour.  There are several versions of this recipe on the internet, but all of them are quite similar in nature.

Anyway, I had promised my kids I would make chocolate-filling buns for them, so I decided to give this 5K recipe a go.

This recipe has several steps that can be broken up into several sessions, so I was able to do it, even though I had kids and baby with me.  The first step involved a starter dough, presumably to kick start the fermentation process.  Some people leave this starter dough overnight in the fridge, but I used warm water and left it out on my counter top.  It took about 2-3 hours before the dough achieved the “honeycomb” look.

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The buns I made were slightly brown because I used molassess instead of white sugar.  As usual, the whole house smelled heavenly when the buns were baking in the oven, and they looked absolutely beautiful!

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Unexpected Blessings

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Have you ever encountered situations where you are blessed with something good, or even better, something unexpectedly good…without even asking for it?  Sometimes it’s just so reassuring to be unexpectedly blessed, even little itty bitty things…

  • Like when it suddenly rains on days when you find you are too swamped and you have no time to water your plants and keep your garden nourished.
  • Like when the baby falls asleep so peacefully that you get an entire hour to cook, clean, do web editing, content management for my sites, writing assignments…and the list goes on.  Sometimes I even get some me-time to do my shopping undisturbed!
  • Like when you win a contest with a prize of a whole set of premium quality skincare and makeup products when you realise you had just exhausted your own supply.
  • Like when you haven’t cooked anything for dinner, and suddenly someone shows up at the door with freshly cooked laksa, all ready for a hearty meal.  Yumm!!!
  • Like when you receive a beautiful Stephen Joseph bottle buddy (otherwise known as a water tumbler holder with strap), thanks to the little angels at Applecrumby & Fish at the right time.
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    My daughter had been requesting for a water tumbler with a strap because she finds it easier to have her hands free during her school field trips.  I had been attaching a makeshift strap to her existing tumbler thus far, but the Stephen Joseph bottle buddy definitely works a whole lot better!  Plus…it’s cute to boot!

Have you been unexpectedly blessed lately?

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