Monday, April 21, 2014

Lemon Pound Cake

My maiden attempt at lemon cake!


I've always wanted a recipe for a lemon cake. It's just one of the standard cakes you get at almost every German potluck. 

Hence, when my friend brought her home-baked lemon pound cake for playgroup the other day, I simply had to try her recipe, especially cos it tasted SOO good and it was from Martha Steward!

This recipe is superb! The cake is so light, fluffy and moist. I've not tried any other lemon cake recipes, so I can't tell if this is the best recipe, but it's definitely very good!

The preparation is not the fastest though, cos you'd have to mix the dough by adding one egg at a time. But other than that, we were so satisfied with the recipe that we ended up baking it twice in a span of 4 days! 

The original recipe stated that recipe is enough for 2 cakes, but we found that it was more suitable for 1.5 cakes. We like our cakes big you see. 

A word of caution though. The baking time varies. The first time I baked the cake, it ended up perfect. However, the second time I baked it, the bottom part got burnt - which could be because we over-heated the oven to begin with or perhaps we accidentally placed the cake directly on the bottom of the oven instead of putting it on the last rack. 

In any case, the next time we bake it, we would simply put the cake in the middle of the oven and watch the cake after about 40 minutes to ensure that the top does not get burn. 

The original recipe states all the ingredients in the U.S. cup system, so I've taken the liberty to convert everything to the metric system. 

Ingredients:-

Small bowl 
- 190 grams Buttermilk
- Fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
- Lemon zest (from 3 lemons), finely-grated

Medium bowl
- 420 grams Flour
- 1.5 tsp Salt
- 0.5 tsp Baking powder
- 0.5 tsp Baking soda

Large bowl
- 225 grams unsalted Butter, softened
- 400 grams Sugar
- 5 large Eggs

Lemon glaze
- 250 grams Icing sugar
- Fresh lemon juice (4 tbsp) 

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius, with rack in the middle. Line baking tin. 

2. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. 

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer.

5.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

6. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three parts, alternately with the buttermilk mixture in two, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just smooth (do not overmix). 

7. Place batter in baking tin and bake for 50 minutes or until done (check by inserting a toothpick in the center and see if it comes out clean). If cake is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil. Cool cake completely before glazing. 

8. Prepare lemon glaze by mixing icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Adjust the consistency by either adding more lemon juice or more sugar. Glaze should be thick, yet pourable. 

8. Glaze cake with lemon glaze. Let it dry (about 30 minutes) before eating.

Adapted from original recipe here.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Jumpinn

I brought both boys to an indoor playground for the first time recently.

It was epic! It was so much fun! I feel like my boys are getting to a stage when it's starting to be more enjoyable!

Not that the baby stage isn't fun but a baby can't really do much to begin with. A nine-month old baby however, can sit on his own, grab things, observe his environment and laugh out loud at what his older brother does.

Ok, I'd be honest. It was great that my dear friend and Godmother of Gabriel could come along too. That meant the ratio of kids to adults was exactly 1:1. It helped SO MUCH to have an extra pair of hands.

Ari took care of Gabriel in ball pit, while I climbed all the obstacle courses with Sammy and did all the crazy fun stuff with him. One of the slides was so high and steep that even I was scared to go down. Sammy, on the other hand, slid down without thinking twice, but was quite "shaken" but the experience that he didn't want to repeat it despite me encouraging him to.

He managed to however, go through quite a number of obstacles by himself, such that we were able to let him play on his own (with other kids), while just keeping an eye from the ground level. It was a superb bonding time with Sammy. He is one tough and spirited little boy!

Gabriel thoroughly enjoyed himself in the ball pit, going down mini slides with us, "jumping" on the trampoline and basically just taking all the sights in.

It was a great idea to have gone on a weekday, because that meant that it was not as full as it could have been. My friend mentioned that on weekends, the indoor playground is 3 times (!!!) fuller than on weekdays.

It was pretty reasonable too, costing 5€ for kids (babies go for free) and 2.50€ for adults. I'm thinking of bringing the kids in the morning on days when they limit the ages of the kids to 5 years. That would be even safer for younger kids, without any older kids pushing them around.

It's days like this that I really. really.really treasure being a SAHM. I got all the time in the world to bring my little ones to fun places like this and just enjoy each jumping, sliding, climbing, riding, laughing moment with them. Truly want to treasure up these moments and ponder them in my heart. (Luke 2:19)

Where we went:
http://jumpinn-freiberg.de/

video

  
Getting acquainted with the ball pit

 
 Oh yeah, I think I'm liking it here!


 Ok, that's it. I want out now!


 Gabriel's Godmother, Ari who was such a great help. I can't even begin to say how much!


Sammy wanted so much to go on the car, but totally freaked out less than 5 seconds into the ride.

Best shot we could get. Sammy loved this slide so much, he couldn't stop sliding on it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dear Gabriel - 7 / 8 months old

Dear Gabriel

You're already 8.5 months old and are closing in on the 1 year mark! I can't believe that we would be celebrating your first birthday in slightly more than 3 months! Could you grow slower pretty please? Mummy's not ready to give up my baby for a toddler yet!

The past 2 months went past in kind of a blur because you and Sammy fell sick quite a bit. Both of you caught a nasty bug that gave you both high fever, stuffy noses, coughs and a really bad mood. It was a very, very, stressful time but Mummy's thankful that most of it is over by now, except for your coughs.

Your first 2 teeth popped out after a series of really bad nights and crying. We had no idea what you were going through until a couple of days later, we saw your little pearly whites. You look so cute with them and you also got your teeth earlier than your big brother!

We started putting you in infant Sunday school at church and you've been taking to it like a champ! During church service, you would "interact" with other babies and be carried by a minder. Most of them, you end up napping such that by the time Mummy picks you up, you'll be snoozing soundly in your stroller. Mummy & Daddy are very thankful for such amazing childcare service at church because this means that we get to sit through service without being disturbed for 2 whole hours! :)


In general, you're fine with other people carrying you but you're still very much attached to Mummy. 

Recently, Mummy's friend tried to carry you and while you were pretty contented to let her do so, all of a sudden, it was as if your little brain said, "That's enough! I want my Mummy back!" And you pushed away from her, turned towards Mummy and stretched out both your arms towards me such that I had to take you back. It was such a precious moment for me, cos this was the first that I witnessed such a display of baby-mother attachment.

You're sitting up really confidently by now and you enjoy playing with your big brother's toys.

Unfortunately, Sammy has taken a liking for pushing you backwards such that you have fallen on your head a couple of times. Mummy is still in the midst of getting your big brother to stop "bullying" you but I guess that's all part and parcel of growing up with an older sibling my dear. At least this would toughen you up for the future.

You've also started crawling backwards and are beginning to grab things to stand on your own.

It's so nice to see you becoming more mobile but at the same time, I wish time would freeze because I know you would never ever go back to your baby-all-helpless stage anymore. 

Foodwise, you're still eating pretty well.

While you were sick, you refused all forms of solids and would only want breastmilk. Now that you're feeling much better, you have been having a healthy appetite and would join us for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You still get breastfed in between your usual meals. Mummy really enjoys these times of bonding with you and you love them as well!

People who haven't seen you in a while have commented that you don't cry as much as you used to. 

I think that's a compliment! It's true that you no longer cry for long stretches in the evening anymore. You still hate being left alone in the room and would complain within seconds, but usually when someone is in the room with you, you're pretty much happy to be doing your own thing. 

You love your older brother and he never fails to make you laugh.

When you're upset, Sammy usually tries to calm you down by singing "Twinkle Twinkle little star" to you. It's the only song he knows how to sing properly! That and the "ABC" song which happens to be the same tune.

At a Thai restaurant during our bonding time
Sleepwise, you still wake up 1/2 times in the night for milk.

You still sleep on the co-sleeper attached to our bed but we intend to let you sleep together with Sammy once we have moved house.

Mummy really treasures Thursdays when Grandpa takes Sammy such that Mummy and you can have a full-day of bonding time. We usually go to the city for a lunch date with a friend and hang out there either in the sun or walking around the stores. You're usually very well-behaved and would take in all the sights around you and charm all the women you meet! 

Little baby, we love you so much! Your chubby cheeks are sooo cute that Mummy's always kissing them everyday. Your little chunky thighs are sooo irresistable that Mummy always unzips your sleeping bag when I'm nursing you, so I can take my time to squeeze them. I know that you won't always be that chubby so I'm cherishing every single moment of each day.

Quoting from a friend's blog, this is our prayer for you too!

God has a wonderful plan for your life, baby boy, and we will be here to help you unravel all that He has in store. Our prayer is that you dream big with Him and boldly step out to pursue those dreams. Do not let us or anyone else impose their goals on you for your path has been specially paved by Daddy God. Courageously be who He has created you to be, not who others may want you to be. If you get tempted to compare yourself with others, remember you have a unique set of giftings that fit in perfectly with your personality and life experiences. No one can take your place so just focus on being the best you. God will forever be your greatest supporter but Papa and I are next in line cheering you on loudly

Love
Mummy & Daddy 

---------
Following is a backdated dump of baby photos.... you've been warned! 

You somehow look so grown up here

Love how you clasp your hands here

Bonding with your older brother

Yah baby, you know you can lean on me!

True that!

Funny Sammy!



Heartmelt!

You guys were all giggles that day!

Here you were nibbling a toy

At a friend's 3rd birthday party

Sammy being all protective over you

Playing dress-up at toddler gym

Everyone was so amused at you, little Tigger!

The cool baby

Trying the swing for the first time

My favourite time of the day! (Just kidding with a hint of truth!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

8 years now

My hubby and I have been married for 2 years short of a decade!

When I look back at my marriage post at 7 years, I must say that the past year has been easier than the year before.

You must think I'm crazy for saying so. But I really do find the transition from no kids to one kid bigger than the transition from one to two kids.

When Gabriel was born, I didn't have to learn everything from scratch.  I knew how to change a diaper, soothe a baby, breastfeed, put a baby to sleep, dress a baby and the list goes on. Hubby was also a second-time Dad so he could also depend on his experience with Sammy to help him to deal with Gabriel.

Of course both kids have extremely different personalities, but that's a different story altogether.

In short, what I wanted to say is that, the past year has been less tumultuous with 2 kids than it was when we only had Sammy.

It's true that with 2 kids, we have wayyy less time for ourselves. There's always something to be done and a kid who needs something from you. Not to mention the noise level that has gone up significantly with a baby's cries and a toddler's constant talking - which I'm happy about, don't get me wrong. I'm actually very happy that Sammy has started conversing more with us! :) But yeah, the house is never quiet anymore.

Oh and don't get me started on the laundry. On some days, it feels that all we're doing is hanging laundry, folding laundry, ironing laundry and putting it away before starting the same cycle one day later.

But somehow I must say that hubby and I really do make a great team! He's awesome at folding clothes while I'm great at ironing. He cleans up while I cook. He earns the money while I spend (just kidding!)

I reckon it's got something to do with him being a German and his need for order. His folded clothes are seriously the most 90-angled clothes I've ever seen - for homefolded clothes I mean. He even has a certain way to put his socks, such that I have to put the new socks on the left and he would wear them from the right to ensure that each sock is worn as equally as the others. The same goes for his office shirts. He literally goes through his wardrobe from the right to the left.

I think it's these little quirks that makes a person endearing (and frustrating too of course). But mostly endearing. Lol.

I really appreciate and treasure this guy. He supports my decision to be a stayhome Mom and as such, has taken the responsibility of being the sole breadwinner. It's not easy supporting a family of 4 in Stuttgart where things are pretty expensive. For one thing, eating out does costs a bomb here. My friends from the States were comparing how much cheaper it is to eat authentic Asian food there compared to here.

I digress. I'm thankful for this hubby who not only works but also helps out with the housework so that I don't have to do everything by myself. He loves spending time with the family and the kids adore him. He tries his best to answer my calls when I call him in the middle of the day if I need something (urgently) from him.

We would like to have more regular date nights, but we're very thankful for the couple of dates that we've had so far when the in-laws took care of little bubs.

I must say that the best thing that we enjoy doing at this moment of our lives, with a 2.5-year old and a 8-month old baby is ...... Going for M.A.S.S.A.G.E.S!

It's so physically exhausting taking care of young kids that we are just so desperate to give ourselves and our bodies a break when we have a chance to. Since we discovered a superb Thai massage parlor during my birthday last year, we have been longing to go back there. Hence, our wedding anniversary was the next best opportunity!

So we decided to pamper ourselves to a 2 hours mix Thai-and-oil massage. It was excellent! We loved every.single.minute of it. And hear this. The usual price of massage is 1€/minute (ie. 50€ for a 50-min massage). But at this place, we paid 75€ for a 2 hour massage. Isn't that great? Ok, try not to think about how much a massage costs in Asia. For German prices, what we paid was really price-worthy.

All excited for our massage!

I'll leave you with something I wrote about my hubby on Facebook for our wedding anniversary.

I've been married to this guy, Stephan for 8 years today! I'm a very blessed wife, mother to 2 boys and am really contented with my life. Thank you Jesus for helping our paths cross and bridging all the intercultural differences that we faced! It's been a real adventure to follow my heart and looking back, I'm so glad that I took this step to venture into the unknown of marrying this guy halfway across the world, whom I was in a long-distance relationship with for 3 years. Love you hubby! 

Where we went for our massage: 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Across the oceans

We met up with one of my bestest childhood friends and her little family recently.

They are Singaporeans but currently live in the States. The last time we saw each other was 2 years ago, when Sammy was barely 5 months old and he's 2.5 years old already!

I missed my friend, Andrea SOOO.SOOO.SOOO much.

In this day and age, with the usage of Whatsapp and smartphones, it's become pretty easy to keep in touch across the distance. However, nothing beats the physical presence. I haven't even realized how much I missed her, until we saw each other face-to-face and embraced each other. It was SOOOO good meeting each other in the flesh again!

Ohh and to see their little one, Lukie Luke! He was sooo mega cute! Lovely cheeks and with such a contented and sweet demeanour! We were so amazed at how he would sit on the rocker and just watch us eat our meal! The only time we heard him cry (a proper 4-month old baby cry) was when he was hungry on our car ride to Frankfurt to send them off. He still had this delicious newborn baby milky smell. Ahhh.....


 Our little bubs! Gabe with Lukie Luke, who's 3.5 months younger than him.

Andrea met Gabe for the first time

And her hubby! He used to be our cell leader back in our youth! And now he's the hubby of my dear friend! And a young Daddy too!

Luke trying out Gabe's rocker - which he has the exact same one at home!

How our brood has expanded: 1 Singaporean, 3 Germans and 1 American



 We went for a walk together with kiddoes in tow. It was so cold, it was a great idea to have steamboat!

My maiden attempt at steamboat at home. It was a huge success! 

The Li family


Full tummies!

We went out for yummy German lunch the next day


Oh Lukie Luke, Aunty Pris is gonna miss you! Grow up well and continue to be a blessing to your parents! 

See you again!

My heart felt a pang of sadness knowing that our babies could actually grow up together but we were separated by the huge Atlantic ocean. We go such a long way back, since our high school days, that we can just be ourselves and there's a million and one things to talk about!

The 1.5 days stopover they had in Stuttgart was too short to relish the friendship in its entirety! They were jet-lagging and we were dealing with a cranky 8-month old who was not feeling well and a 2.5-year old who was on the verge of falling sick (Sammy has a fever currently).

Still, we were so grateful to have this precious time and friendship! It's truly a kingdom friendship and I know that the Lord has great plans for us even if it's not geographically in the same place. When I think of our friendship, I'm just reminded of this oldie, a song by Michael W.Smith. entitled "Friends".




Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

Chorus:
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

With the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you'll live in
Is the strength that now you show

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong 



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