Monday, November 24, 2014

Caramel Popcorn for Kindy's Party


It is the end of the school year already! Oh my gosh, time really flies fast.
Was talking to my friend post school party , pre PTA meeting on Friday, and she just mentioned they (our two kids) will be turning 6 next year.

....

I have to admit. I went blank for awhile and then it hit me. OMG! PP is turning 6 next year!
SIX! That is huge. My precious Peanut is turning six. blink blink. Cannot compute.

Anyway....won't get into THAT now cause it will only make me panic and shutdown and not write anything as I would stare at my kids forever and ever...(why la you think I don't update often? I panic over blogposts.....he he he..stupid laugh mode)

(I promise you, the Caramel Popcorn recipe is coming)



So Thursday, the day before the last day of school and post party, I was in total blankness over what to bring over to school. When I asked PP's teacher, she said whatever I wish to bring or make. When I asked PP, she said...." I WANNA MAKE CUPCAKE! Please mummy, please? Can I make cupcakes?" .... I said I'll think about it. 

I did thought about it....


And I thought ....nope. nope. nope. Too lazy to make cupcakes, plus I think I made cupcakes for last year's party. A healthy one too! It was carrot and broccoli cupcakes (See...super healthy!).....with sugar icing (look....you have to hide the fact there were broccolis and carrots cupcakes) and it was a hit with the kids. aka HABIS! Finito! Gone to the last crumb. ...... Done the healthy route. 



Then I thought...let's just buy some fruits OR packaged drinks. That would be super easy.
Also...too easy. Hmm...MOST parents would go to that path. I think I did that too...grapes and milo drinks, I believe. Hmm nope nope nope. 

I was stuck. What would be easy to make but not to easy so other parents won't think the same. (I like to make life difficult to myself, you see.) 


And I remembered my old Salted Caramel Popcorn I made for one of PP's birthday party. Then I was too lazy to look for the recipe....Mind you...It was thursday, I am a working mom, and Thursday evening is also my yoga day. So...

8 PM: Finish yoga
8.30 PM: Reached neighbourhood supermarket. Googled Caramel Popcorn. Looks easy enough. 

Looked for recipe ingredients in supermarket.

8.50 PM: Still in supermarket looking for popcorn kernels. Let it be a warning for other parents, there are NO popcorn kernels available at Mydin Malaysia. 
8.55 PM: Went to Jaya Supermarket nearby to get popcorn kernel (where I should have just bought everything in the first place)
9.30 PM: Finally reached home to start making CARAMEL POPCORN! yippee!

11.30 PM: It turned out too salty. I. had. to. remake.  So...my fast and easy snack is not so fast and easy after all. Aiyayay!


Another tip. Don't wait to the 11th hour (literally) to make your caramel popcorns because you really don't have to. They can be made at most 1 week earlier if kept in an airtight container and hidden from snack crazy hands (including your own hands). So just....make them early. It will be okay. In other words....don't be me.

With PP and Bambam being hantu popcorn. It does not last more than three days. Much less a week.

Oh, too much yapping and you want the recipe now? 
Fine lah. I got this recipe from Kitchn.com and there are pictures and everything! Very helpful 
(link HERE)

This is my version after the failed 1st attempt. My changes and notes in blue. 

How to Make Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

Makes 10-12 cups / Two large bowls in my case

What You Need


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels (10-12 cups popped) I doubled this, 1 Cup of unpopped corn kernels.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter I used 250g of salted butter coz who cares. 
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar Make sure they are packed. White sugar can be used too of course
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt Since I used salted butter, I sticked to this 1/2 Tsp of rock salt. No such thing as kosher salt in Malaysia. It cost too much anyhow. 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • Sprinkles or almonds or whaever you want to add for the extra oommphh! 
Equipment
  • Large lidded saucepan 
  • Large heatproof mixing bowl I used 3 mixing bowls - 1 for separate the unpopped kernel with the popped popcorns. hehe popped popcorns. 2 for the popped popcorns. hehe again. 
  • 1 large bowl with holes, like those pasta drainer - big enough for the unpopped kernel goes to down into the bowl and small enough so the popped popcorns (I don't know why I keep calling it this. juvenile humour) remains in the drainer.
  • 2-quart saucepan I used the same saucepan for popping the kernels. Less cleanup!
  • Heatproof spatula and a pasta spatula thingy. You know...the one that looks like a hand
  • 2 baking sheets aka Baking trays 
  • Parchment paper or silpats Do not use parchment paper that are non greasy. It will be sticky and you will curse yourself to the high moon and back. I had these food grade wax wrapping paper (brown coloured), you know, those used to wrap nasi lemak with super slicky side? Use that...it is perfect. Use WAX paper. 

Instructions
Gather ingredients and equipment. 
Arrange two oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F 
Line the baking sheets with parchment or silpats. Once you start making the caramel sauce, everything comes together quickly so have all the ingredients and equipment you need handy.
Yes...preheat oven to 250°F = 121°C
Baking trays lined with wax papers.

Make the popcorn. 
Warm 3 corn kernels and the oil in a large lidded saucepan over medium heat. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the corn kernels to the pan, shake to coat with oil, and put the lid on the pan. Pop the corn, shaking the pan occasionally, until the popping slows. Empty the popped corn immediately into a large heat-proof bowl. This makes about 10 cups of popcorn; make the popcorn in two batches if your pan is not large enough. 
Since I used 1 cup of corn kernel, take the time to make 2 batches. Seriously, less unpopped corn kernels to deal with. 

Super fluffy popcorn. Like add a bit of salt to this, and it is already perfect. But we are making CARAMEL popcorn here.
Make the caramel sauce. 
Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar until the sugar is completely moistened. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan continuously. (Boil for a minute less if cooking on an electric stove.) → The exact cooking temperature isn't critical with this recipe, but ideally you want the sugar mixture to reach between 250°F and 300°F. The longer you cook the syrup, the crunchier it will be. For very crunchy popcorn (my favorite!), stop cooking when you see the first wisps of smoke coming from the sugar mixture.

Follow this exactly. I didn't use a termometer, and it is easier when using white sugar since you know it has turned caramel when the white sugar turned brown. But when using brown sugar, you just have to wing it a bit. The brown sugar mixture will turn even darker brown and wait for that wisp of smoke, and very slight burnt smell. VERY slight. and turn OFF the fireeeee

Boiling caramel sauce. Just before the first smoke and turned even darker brown
Add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and any extras. Off the heat, add the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and any extras, and stir until combined. The sugar mixture will bubble up violently. Continue stirring until you form a thick, glossy sauce.

Oh my...it does bubble and sizzle. My sauce had some separation between butter and caramel mix. But it is still good! 

Combine the caramel sauce and popcorn. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn while stirring the popcorn (it helps if you have a partner for this step — one person pouring while the other stirs the popcorn). Continue stirring the sauce into the popcorn until all of the kernels are coated.
Bake the caramel popcorn. Divide the popcorn between two baking sheets, spreading the popcorn out into an even layer. It's ok if the popcorn clumps together. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes and breaking up any clumps. 

Also best if you switch the baking pans top to bottom, bottom to top at 30 mins mark. 
I mixed my rainbow sprinkles in now. Not too much, just a handful across both trays so the girls would go ga-ga about. 

About the switch trays positions. See the wax paper soaking in the extra butter and caramel mixture.
Let cool completely. Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

I did not let it cool completely. Immediately after taking it out from the oven, I started breaking off more clumped popcorns and scrapping the popcorn off the baking trays and putting them back in the mixing bowl I used before. Because if I didn't, the popcorns would stick to the wax paper. And trust me...caramel popcorn with wax paper sticking on it is not yummy.

Declump and scrap the caramel popcorn off immediately from the wax paper to avoid tears.
Also...see my pasta spatula thingy I use to mix the mixture, declump and basically moving the caramel popcorn around.
And that was pretty much it. Put in an airtight container and it is ready for some sugar high kids to indulge! I made just enough to fill about 30 large cupcakes liners and 1 and half Ikea jars.

Spot the rainbow sprinkles on my individualised portion of Caramel Popcorn.
Popcorn in cupcake liners.

PP and her bowl of Caramel Popcorn treats.
Disclaimer: No seatbelt because it has been taken off, PP is eyeing her teacher coming to get her.
Seating in front because seriously...we live across the kindy. Like less than 50m. .... just don't ask why I don't just walk there. It's Malaysia ok. It's h-o-t
Of course PP can't help herself to a taste of her caramel popcorn.
And yes....she noticed the rainbow sprinkles. and SHE LOVED IT!
....and then PP left me for the clown in the hall.
I don't remember any of my school's year end parties having clowns.

Overall....I am glad to report that the kids loved the caramel popcorns. Even the class teacher loved it. As quoted by the teacher, "It was a HIT! The kids loved it!" as she returned an empty bowl back to me.

I mean...of course they would love it. It is popcorn and basically covered with caramel aka SUGAR and with rainbow sprinkles on them. Sorry other parents, I just can't do healthy snacks all the time. You do that at home okay?

So now...I think I should prep myself on what to make for next year. 

And you know lah who else loved the caramel popcorn....Bambam loved it very much. Don't even think of taking the jar away from her. You can ask her for some, she will give it to you but do not take the jar of caramel popcorn from her. It is hers. 

Bambam looooooove the caramel popcorn
Open - happy face, close - eat a popcorn, open - happy face again - close - eat a popcorn. repeat. These were screenshots from a video I took of Bambam. 
Dancing to Frozen while hugging caramel popcorn jar
Rest to stuff face with more caramel popcorn while Frozen is in background
Uhhhh serious scene on Frozen. Must hug caramel popcorn jar while we are at it because it will be stolen by PP if Bambam let it go. Let it gooooo, Let it goooooo....let the popcorn jar goooooo. Let it gooooo, Let it goooooo.... Oh It is a no go.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Must-Do-Often: Clearing up handbags day


Confession: My handbags weights a tonne. I don't know why....I mean...I don't carry rocks or the kitchen sink in there. Ok....maybe sometimes I have random things in there like the end of a curtain rod part or random kids toys or some office stuff like a stapler.....

Fine, I have a problem. Don't judge! But one thing I do like to do is clear up my handbag before rotating to a different handbag to be used for the entire week or month. Still weights a tonne after clearing and reorganising (le sigh) but hey, at least I try.

So on the day before PP's Henoch-Schonlein Purpura drama (which can be read HERE), I made it my mission of the day to clear out ALL bags. In all honesty, I thought it would be a couple of bags I was using for the month for daily use and also for quick trip for mamak/ grocery use. Turns out, there were 5 bags to clear out! I forgot to clear out some other bags I have kept away in the "cleared bags" area.

Two bag organisers (useful yet not really), 
five bags on rotation and in storage full of stuff still (aiyak!) and 
one work bag which is full of documents for work at home days (not emptied)

Shock! horror! horror! arggh! I hope there are no melted chocolates in there! 

(There wasn't. Phew. But it happened before.....i blame the kids. Always blame the kids for old forgotten chocolates in handbags)

So what was in my handbags


Lot and lots of receipts for work claims and for personal references. Ergh. 

Random stuff and essentials which included brouchures, empty angpows for when you need to give angpows, chequebook bag, office keys, random keychains with no attached keys, cellotape, a highlighter, Sharpies and that many pens (really??!!), a notebook, A SOCK!, extra hijab inner, Monopoly Deal for friends night, a padlock?, SALT AND PEPPER!, candies...lots of candies and biscuits. I blame the kids for the candies.
Hands in head.

For someone who doesn't wear a lot of makeup...I sure carry a lot of them. 
But then again, one cannot be to sure when you NEED to wear them.
But somehow I doubt I need 6 perfumes, 3 types of lipsticks and 3 powders?
Again...carrying these everyday.

Bunch of costume jewelry and hijab pins. Again... I hate pins but I all of these in my bags?
Found a bunch of my girls hairpins that they want to wear / take off at random times while we are out and about. And I kept broken bracelets  and necklaces in the bags? Did I plan to repair them on the move or something? Kinda explains why my bags weights a tonne.

More essentials, two wallets...one in use, other is just empty. vouchers to be used, two coin bags!,
card wallets, sunnies, external phone charger, mine and kids medical cards and....tickets for Hi5 concert for this upcoming December. Yup, I was just carrying them around in my bag. Everyday...everywhere.

I know, it is ridiculous. I need help.

With that...my laptop was on this page.

Berjaya atau tidak to maintain my handbag in an organised manner....
check back in a month. Obviously, organising my handbags is not my forte...ever.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Family Movie Night: Big Hero 6

via Disney.com.my
We just came home from watching Big Hero 6 at the cinema....and I was really excited to watch this with the girls, and after 102 minutes, I kinda have mixed feelings towards Big Hero 6.

The girls were so excited while waiting for the hall to open. Thank God it's a neighbourhood cinema, so they can run all the want without getting lost in the crowd.  That's it girls, run now, sleep later. muahahaha
Gotta have a pic with Baymax. Family movie night attire: PJs and sweaters for the cold cinema.



Half the excitement from watching a movie at the cinema compared to at home is watching the new movie trailers coming out. I know, I know, I can watch trailers on YouTube but it's just different you know. So imagine my annoyance when we were early (for once!) to the cinema, and the trailers were already playing by the time we get to the cinema hall. .... and it was of the Madagascar's Penguins. *sad face. Bad start here.

So excited, I was taking photos of billboards on the way home from work
*as a passenger.
Fine. Let's just enjoy the movie then. Like all cartoons nowadays, Big Hero 6 hits it big for kids AND adults. But I personally feel adults and older kids have a better understanding on the humour presented in this movie. Baymax, the robot certainly is lovable and cute, especially before he got armours. But the movie itself...lacks the personality to engage. I want to love it, but I just feel... meh. So much meh on the end half of the movie (...except for Fred. Fred makes me laugh. I want to have a friend like Fred. Be my Fred!)

Visually though, stunning. No dissapointments there.
via Disney.com.my
It felt quite draggy at times. Was that just me? Maybe it needed musical numbers like FROZEN! hehe but honestly...though as a mother of two girls, having Frozen on a loop on the Tv is the norm but I think I would prefer it than having Big Hero 6 on a loop. 

So should you bring your kids to see Big Hero 6?

My girls in their PJs for Big Hero 6 movie night.
PP willing to pose, Bambam....not so much. Busy watching the movie already
If your kid, regardless of gender, like action cartoons. Maybe they would enjoy the movie. 
Especially if you are parents to boys it would a different matter coz this movie have lots of actions! fights! karate chops! LASERS! 

The two female role models for the girls; Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago
via Disney.com.my

It is also good for little girls to see bad a** female scientists/engineers/nerds as heros.

My kids, clearly got doesn't care enough about the movie and fell asleep halfway...just after Baymax started wearing an armour because he became not-so-cute anymore. 

Not so cute Baymax with armour on.
via Disney.com.my
....aaaaaaand personally i think because there were not enough sparkles and glitters. My girls are princesses. I have to deal with that.
They did like the fist bump scenes in the movie though..maybe because I do fist bumps with them. I foresee an evolution to our fist bumping!!!

Other than that, you have to consider one big factor about the movie.
It can be depressing and dark especially for younger kids. As I said...not enough sparkles and glitters. Lots of tears. sad sad moments.

**INCOMING! SPOILER ALERT!**

In Frozen, we see Anna and Elsa's parents being lost at sea, as a big wave crashes on top of their ship.... *sniff sniff I still get teary eyes when I watch that scene over and over again*.

Big Hero 6 is not just about a cute huggable marshmallow looking robot, it also deals with a lot of issues of loss and death. Like, a lot. 
First, PP was asking about Hiro's parents. She asked if Hiro's brother is the dad, and when I said thats the brother, she asked again, where are the parents? What happened to them? Why did they die? Why do they live with their aunt? Then....

****BIG SPOILER ALERT, WARNING**** 
....Hiro's big brother died.  The questions came again. What happened to the brother? Why did he die? Why did he have to die? Why is fire dangerous? Did the fire kill him? Is he really dead? Why is he dead? ....... Yes. LOTS of questions which i had to answer as quietly and as short as possible, in the cinema. WHILE the movie was playing....DURING the sad scenes. Mummy is trying to get emotional here, you're a buzz killer PP with your loaded questions on death. :P

If PP was awake the other half of the movie, she would have asked a LOT more about loss and death...because there were more sad sad sad scenes. and kinda violent scene.

So when bringing your kids to watch this movie, have a game plan on how to answers all this beforehand. Or you would be wishing you could have just waited for the DVD to come out instead. 

Still love Fred though.
via Disney.com.my 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Simple Ikea Ribba Hack for Lace Souvenir


Not so long ago, the Daddy and I sans little ones went on a short trip to Europe. One of the stop was a day-trip to Bruges aka Brugge, Belgium. In all my recent travels, I would try to bring home an affordable artwork made by a local artist. However, when we were in Brugge, I can't find any artist selling their wares by the street. Well there was one...but I was not loving his pieces. But guess what Brugge is famous for? Yes yes...Waffles...and also LACE! 

In an effort not to make my home into rumah makcik-makcik (old lady home) (my mom will kill me here....), I just wanted a modern looking lace that would represent Brugge on our future travel painting wall. And....I found EXACTLY what I wanted. 

Back home...it took me months to do it but finally I went to IKEA (of course) for a frame. Came home with more than one frame (of course) and took a couple more weeks before actually doing anything to the frame or lace (of course). Which meant a trip to the hardware store to look for ONE colour but ended up contributing around 6 more cans to my spray paint library even more. Whyyyy am I so weak?! Gah gah gah. 

Most DIY freaks like me would spray paint the actual frame and use fabric / coloured paper / felt for the background. I like to make life difficult (of course), so I chose to SPRAY PAINT THE INSIDE of the frame instead. 

In hindsight...it also gave me a chance to try out yellow spray paints. Why yellow? I felt like it represented Brugge to me....and I never spray painted anything yellow before. Yes, I am giving excuses for my spray painting addiction. 

Let's begin....

SIMPLE IKEA RIBBA HACK FOR LACE SOUVENIR

via Ikea.com.my 

Tools

1. Chosen frame - IKEA RIBBA RM 29.90

2. Item to mount in frame - Handmade Brugge lace Euro 10-15 ....i think

Yes, I needed THREE spray paints for ONE teeny tiny frame.
This is why I cannot be in a hardware store.
3. Spray paints - my favourite pocket friendly Nippon Pylox Lazer Spray Paint, RM 5 and Cap Matahari Spray Paint, RM 6...really. You really don't have to go all Rustoleum on this. 

4. Craft glue - already available

5. Safety tools - ya know, disposable gloves so you won't be spending hours scrubbing your unnaturally coloured fingers and hands and a good breathing mask to minimise hallucinations post-spraying frenzy


To start...take whatever you want to destroy  paint and place it on your designated painting area which should be clean (hahaha), no dust (hahahahahaha), good air circulation, not indoor and no wind.  

 See my lazy DIY method. I didn't even separate the pieces of the inside frame....which was the wrong thing to do. But gawddangit, I just wanted to spray somethingggggg, now now now!

I then did a quick colour test with the spray paint on the frame hardpaper. The frame of the frame? I don't know what to call it. As you can see, Nippon Pylox's Deep Yellow and Cap Matahari's Yellow is very similar. I should have trusted the cap colours as they were both similar! And the lighter yellow of Cap Matahari's Yellow....well it was yellow. Banana yellow. Let's call the other yellow Mango yellow. I'm feeling fruity yellow.


Paint-off!

Once colour test was done, I resumed to stack all three pieces of the inside frame together. Brain was still not working. ....

I proceeded to spray paint the top half of the frame with Banana Yellow and the bottom half of the frame with Mango Yellow. 

Once I did the first layer (Behold! my heavy handedness with spray painting!), I realise....ehh ehhh the middle layer is getting soaked! It is called paper, Mummylicious. Spray painting = wetness = why instructions mention drying time = requirement to be wet in order to dry = super thin paper...can't handle the awesomeness of spray paint. 

Super wet paper after two coats of spray paints.
The colour gradient is more obvious in real life, I promise! 

So after around 30 minutes of frying time, I got rid of the middle layer, and did another quick coat on the frame of the frame and the back of the Ribba frame. which by the way, I need to mention is made out of porous material. *slap head on table

But I patiently waited for it to dry before destroying this project even more. By patiently, I mean really patiently 24 hours-left it overnight-I-can't-think-now leave it.

Plus, it helps to get rid of any extra fumes and that freshly painted smell.


And it turned out as I wanted it. Multiple gradient of yellowness and painting directly on the backing of the frame gives it a grainy texture.


Then I put it the two pieces backward onto the Ribba frame, just so I know the lines lines up, align the lace where I want it to be, and grab my glue.


I just dab a drop around the edges, and since this Ribba frame is a picture box frame, I needed to make sure all the pointy bits of the lace won't drop to the pressure of gravity. So dap dap, the glue goes to pointy tops. This took less than a couple of minutes.

Once dried, I just flip the frame of the frame, backing and glued on lace bit around. Secure it and....tadaaah. easy peasy new travel souvenir aka art piece on display. You may now be with Kiki the wooden handcrafted doll from Kyoto, Japan and sauce cups in a cup from Morocco.




.....Now what else can I spray paint?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kim K and her Special Hermes Kelly


via Instagram

Poor moms have expensive handbags under lock and keys so it can be protected from the little monsters, I mean...little kids grimy hands and ever so easily found permanent markers and/or crayons.

Rich moms hands over their super duper expensive handbags to their toddler for a custom designed bag.

I am not a rich mom....but only if my child is super talented, then maybe...maybe then I'll hand over one of my white bags for them to draw on as they please.

Oh I don't have any white handbags. Oh it's okay...If I were a rich mom, I would buy a super duper expensive white handbag just for my kids to draw on.

Ok you know what...maybe not. Kids buy their own handbags if you want to scribble on it yeah? don't touch mummy's. 

Ps.btw.fyi: not judging Kim K in anyway. I think her North designed Hermes Kelly is kinda cute. Excessive display of motherly  love right there. Does Victoria Beckham have a Hermes doodled by Harper? I wonder......