Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hakeem Turns 2!

*Okay honestly though, his birthday was two months ago. Unfortunately it fell on the first day of Hari Raya so obviously, the whole month wouldn't have worked out for us considering all the open houses we had to attend.

Shahrul and I initially planned to have a nice little afternoon picnic party in Lake Gardens with the sun shining and on pretty green grass but the week before the party, the API hit an all time high. Schools were advised to close and we had to find a different venue. Scratch that. We had to SCRAMBLE to find a different venue. It was madness.

Most places were full because everyone suddenly had to have their parties/events indoors and we were clearly the last ones to think of every single venue out there. We got lucky when Hello Deer gave us a call saying one party pulled out and they now had morning and lunch slots open. Not my ideal time preference but considering our options -- or lack thereof, we had to snatch it up quickly.

We are so glad we did as there couldn't have been a more perfect venue for our little do (except for parking). We stuck to the "picnic party" theme and did everything the same way except indoors.

Obviously, seeing as how I was preparing all food items on my own, that morning was sort of a mad dash. We were supposed to be at the location to set up an hour before the party but... That wasn't gonna happen. By the time we got there, it was already 1pm: party time. Thankfully, my AJK Kecantikan was already on location and had arranged all the furniture as well as started on decorations.

So now that decorations were pretty much done, I had to move on to setting up the food. I had poured over the menu for many weeks and planned exactly how I'd execute it. Alas, I fell short. There were supposed to be Victoria Sandwich slices (Pocoyo's Jam Sandwiches) which I didn't have the time to make at all and some chocolate Smarties cupcakes (Elly's Cupcakes) which I dropped while unloading the car *cries*.  All that's left were the sandwiches, pasta, potato salad, watermelon sticks, fish biscuits and marshmallows for the kids.

Doesn't Pocoyo look pretty with his head propped up on his shoulders like a normal human being? Well, he spent fifteen minutes deciding whether or not he liked it that way. He then decided, "Nope. Head on shoulders is too mainstream. I'mma behead myself."

Ah, well! Still edible. On with the party! Some guests had actually come in while we were working on setting up but thank goodness they were close friends so they were put to work as well. Hehe.

We set up a bubble station for the kids. I made my own bubble solution, poured it into an empty butter tub I wrapped with craft paper, put some paper cups on the side for the kids to refill as they please, and some bubble wands I got from the trusty Daiso. Love the wands as they are easy to use for kids who don't yet know how to blow bubbles with the normal wands. These came in large packs of 10! So worth it. The kids definitely enjoyed those bubbles though one friend (adult, thank goodness) accidentally drank some solution thinking it was juice *facepalm*

We also set up a little finger painting corner for the kids to get their hands dirty.

What kid wouldn't enjoy being able to make a mess and getting away with it, right?

Everything worked out for the best in the end and it looked like everyone had fun, especially the kids. Diyana Lynda Shoots got some very good shots of the party and I love so many that I've been spamming on Instagram so I guess I'll just share 'em all here instead

Big thanks to everyone who came. It was so nice to have all of you with us. Thank you Diyana and Lynda for capturing the event so beautifully. And HUGE props to my wonderful friends and siblings who were so helpful that day. 

*Diyana Lynda Shoots are building their portfolio and is offering FREE photography services for your events till December. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Any fans of soft pretzels here? My little unit can't resist Aunty Anne's whenever we pass one. The soft morsels of warm pretzels with some cheese dips... Perfect snack. 

I myself have been meaning to try to make some at home. Obviously, knowing what goes in and being able to make them in bulk is a big plus to making my own. Once I've made loads, I can just freeze and reheat when needed. 

I finally made them last week when my husband kissed me goodbye before leaving for work and said "you should really make some pretzels or something". 

So, as always, I Googled for recipes, studied them, read their reviews, and decided which one I would try; And I'm so SO happy with how they turned out. Fat and soft and all sorts of wonderful - and it was pretty easy to make as well. I didn't have any cheese at hand to make cheese dips, but I did have some salted caramel sauce and that went great with the pretzels too. 

Recipe adapted from

Total time : 2 hours
Yields : 16 pieces (original recipe says 8 but I find 16 better for size as these do poof up a healthy bit in the oven) 

Ingredients :
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoons himalayan salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces salted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Sea salt 

Directions :
1. Add sugar, salt and yeast into the water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes until. Mixture begins to foam up. 

2. Sieve flour into a large mixing bowl. Add in melted butted and yeast mixture and mix on low speed using a dough hook. Once mixture has come together, increase speed and allow to mix until dough forms and side of the bowl is clean. 

3. Remove dough from mixing bowl, spray bowl with non stick spray or oil lightly and place dough back in the bowl. Cover with tea towel or cling film and allow to rise for an hour. 

4. Once risen, heat your oven to 230°C and start boiling the 10 cups of water with baking soda to make a water bath.  

5. Meanwhile, start rolling your pretzels. First, divide dough to 16 equal parts using a weighing scale. To roll out your pretzel, press one ball of dough down into a rectangle. Roll the rectangle into a cigarette, creating a tight, clean seam. With both hands, roll out the cigarette until it's about 12 inches long (measure it, really.) create a pretzel shape by bringing the ends to the middle while making a U. 

6. Boil pretzels in the water bath for 30 seconds each, straining and placing them on a lined baking  tray or silicone baking mat after. 

7. Brush with egg wash (egg yolk and tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with sea salt. Of course, this is when you can get creative and choose whatever you want to top it with instead. If you like a sweet version, skip the salt and you can coat them with cinnamon sugar once they're out of the oven. 

8. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn the tray and bake for another 7 minutes until golden brown. 

9. Enjoy them hot!! 

 * I managed to freeze four of these. The rest disappeared quite quickly but I reckon you could make a whole batch just for freezing and store them in zip lock bags, rationed for ease of serving. 


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