Looking back, we see how God has been good to us. There are a lot of unfavorable baby phases that have passed such as evening fussiness, spitting up after feeding, clogged tear duct, and madness of getting bottle-fed. There are many of those that we still have to deal with such as fragmented sleep and short napping when he sleeps in his crib. Yet there have also been countless joyful moments, and many many more of that that are coming. It always makes me smile to see hubby is so crazy about his little buddy.
For his half year birthday, I made chocolate chiffon cake because I didn't have butter (chiffon cake uses vegetable oil). The finishing was chocolate butter cream and a baby goat on the center of the cake. I chose a goat because his 6-month birthday fell in the 15-day celebration of Chinese new year, and it is the year of goat (sheep). The goat's cheeks were reddish, because our poor baby just had eczema. He is getting much better though. The sheep was white because it's snowing outside. So, his simple half year birthday cake was very meaningful
Now that he's 6-month old, he can have solid food. His first solid food was steamed sweet potato. I cut the sweet potato to a size that he's comfortable holding. He grabbed one, put in his mouth, then spit it up while making funny face. He didn't seem to enjoy eating it, but surely enjoy mushing it with his hands.
Happy half year birthday our sweet baby boy. The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.
I am thankful for my... Beloved hubby who always supports me in many ways...
Who wakes up with me in the middle of the night...
Who takes cares of our baby so I can have "me time"...
Who gets up early in the morning so I can have clean kitchen and tidy house...
I am thankful for my... Beloved parents, sisters, brother-in-laws, nieces, and nephew...
Who always pray for me...
and cry with me...
also laugh with me...
I am thankful for my... Loving friends who always lend helping hands even when I didn't know I would need those...
and for becoming my family in this land...
I am especially thankful for my... Dearest baby boy, Owen...
Who teaches me about love and care...
Who makes me feel special...
and accepts me the way I am...
I am thankful for God's guidance this past 3 months...
and for many many many more years to come...
I was so excited to have mom with me on her birthday. I don't remember last time I celebrated her or any of my family or relatives' birthday other than hubby's. To celebrate her very day, I planned on making a birthday cake. The cake was an easy fondant covered three-layer cake with some gum paste flowers. I used the same flower color as one on my anniversary cake. As you can guess, I have very limited food colorings, ahem... only blue and peach!
Making such simple cake wasn't simple with a newborn around. It took me a day to finish the whole thing especially since little O didn't have a schedule yet at that time. I was so glad to have my mom and dad accompanied me finishing up the cake past midnight. The cake wasn't superb, but I could see that my parents were so proud of it.
Yes I am still here. My life has changed a lot since little O was born, which was expected. I haven't cooked much since then. God has sent his angels through great friends thus far. Our friends sent food until two weeks after we were discharged from hospital. I never knew that not worrying about what to eat was such a big thing. We had to adjust with a newborn's life while I was still recovering from surgery. Thing would have been much more difficult without our friends' helps. After that, we got help from my parents. We are on our own now, but things are much better. I am totally healed, and little O is getting bigger.
My mom and dad, being Indonesian-Chinese, still keep the tradition of celebrating 1-month birthday. Usually, parents of the baby send cake to relatives and friends who give present to the baby. Hubby and I didn't adopt that tradition. Being so happy for having a new grandson, my parents took over our "responsibility". They sent puddings and chiffon cakes for our relatives and their close friends. My dad told me that he and my mom were honored to do that because they were so thankful and proud for having a new addition to the family. They did the same thing too for my nephew four months earlier.
My sister kept telling me how great the chiffon cake was. Since I kept imagining the taste of the cake, I opened my recipe book, and made one when my mom was visiting us. I made cheese chiffon cake to mimic ones that were sent on baby O's 1-month birthday. According to my mom, the taste was as good, but mine had spreads of cheese holes instead of small cheese cubes. I guess I need to find cheese that doesn't melt to get that kind of texture.
Time flies when you are having fun. It's been 9 years since we got married. During those times, we have experienced many great joyful and sad teary moments. There were times when we faced huge obstacles in front of us. However, we've realized that God's ways have been far bigger and stronger than problems we faced. We often are still in awe of how we get to where we are! We continue praying for God's guidance and providence for our days to come, and hope that we, as individual and as a family can be blessing for people around us.
We didn't go out or have a special dinner because hubby isn't a big fan of celebrating "important" dates, but I baked a cake for our anniversary. The cakes were regular yellow and chocolate cakes. The flower was peony, similar to ones I made for our brother's wedding two years ago. Since the wedding, I never used the flower mold, so I thought I needed to use it again (and again) so it's worth the money I spent . For something like that, I wish I had some friends who had the same hobby as mine so we could lend each others baking stuffs. That way I won't feel guilty of buying baking tools since I knew someone else could use it . Anyway. I used fondant for the outer part of the cake, and butter cream icing to glue the fondant to the cake. The cream was leftover from my mother in law.
Just like our marriage, the cake also wasn't perfect. I was still not comfortable working with fondant althought I've watched a lot of cake decorating shows! Nonetheless, hubby said it was good! He's just too sweet
I was reminded by my friend and some kids at church that two Sundays ago was my first Mother's day (I thought Mother's day was for a mom that has born baby?) Some kids made cards for me. How cute!
This past few months, there are some people, through cards or in person, told us that we would be great parents. I know them well and know that they are so nice, but that sentence made me wonder. Will we be great parents? Can we? How to be great or even good parents? What if we can't be great parents? Since I only need to work and write thesis, I have free evening time and have time to ask some friends about parenting and ask about baby essentials we need to buy. Baby stuffs are overwhelming. Great, safe, organic, non-toxic stuffs come with price. Unfortunately we don't have unlimited budget to always get the best for our baby. Wait, the baby hasn't even born yet and we can be great parents? Surely it makes me ponder.
Fortunately I have some friends including my academic advisor who is also my "life" advisor to remind me to make things easier. They basically said that we can do as much and leave the rest to God. What works for others may not work for us and the other way around. Whatever we think is the best for our baby may not be something he likes. As long as we do our "best", that's enough; and sometimes our best may not look best for others.
I made martabak manis (Indonesian pancake with chocolate and cheese filling) that weekend. The recipe I got online was so promising. The owner of the blog where the recipe was posted said that it was an easy recipe but promise great result. I also found other person using that recipe with great picture, so I was so convinced that it would be like the one I had back home. I was wrong! My martabak manis was so dense without texture and tasted just okay. It probably is like being parents, no recipe is foolproof. There are too many variables in becoming parents, too impossible to be shaped to a cookie cutter.
I am sometimes convinced that being parents can't be that hard. Million people have done it for thousand years, right? But there are times when I worry about this new chapter I am about to embark. It may take us a while before we find our personalized recipe, one that works for us.
I made martabak manis again the next weekend using a different recipe. The result was much better that time but still different than martabak I got from street vendors back home. Healthier I supposed
Hubby and I have a new member in our small family. These past months, our focus has been shifted a little bit. Our baby's health has been in our prayer for sure, hubby's has been talking to my belly, and oh my belly is expanding uncontrollably!!! Soon our home will be filled with cute baby stuffs, then after that we are ready for THE arrival of the greatest gift a couple could ask for. In general, I've been having a nice pregnancy, and my activities has been going on like usual.
People at church had been asking what the gender of the baby was. I told them that I didn't want to tell them directly but would give them a clue. So, the Saturday after we finally found out, I baked onesie-shaped cookies with blue royal icing and brought those to a church function. I offered the cookies to my friends there and most of them needed some seconds to realize what they meant then gave me hugs I am so blessed for having such a nice encouraging church family.
This post is also to mark a new addition in my big family. My older sister just delivered her baby boy today. Can't wait to meet Krischnan Calvin Hartono. I am so excited to be overwhelmed with baby stories from my dad (yes, he is the reporter) . There are so much to be thankful for.
I was driving on the I-640 that rainy morning as the sun was peeking out sheepishly. Gloomy and dark rainy day only exacerbated my heartache. My thinking was filled with memories with my dear uncle as I wiped off my tears. I felt that my prayers weren't answered and I didn't know why. Part of me was questioning myself of how I could be so sad if I knew that he was in a better place and I would meet him someday. Part of me was blaming myself for not acting as much as talking. Some letters I wrote for him were not even sent! I was sad, mad, and confused.
Exiting the interstate, I was startled. There's a huge rainbow right in front of me. The rainbow was amazingly so clear despite the sluggish dawn as its background. I felt peace instantaneously. The appearance of the rainbow as if had reminded me of God's promise that he would never leave nor forsake me. I hastily parked my car, hoping that I could snap a picture of the rainbow and sent it to my family so they could also felt strengthened. The rain was getting harder and the rainbow disappeared, but I told my mom what I had just experienced. Coincidentally (or God's plan?), our family choir sang "Pelangi Kasihnya" (His rainbow of love) in the funeral service the next day.
Recently last week, I'd been reminded again of His rainbow of love through the beauty of Fall colors. It just happened to me last week that I saw a connection between a rainbow and the Fall colors. I wouldn't be surprised if God also meant Fall color when he said rainbow because Fall color is also magical. This week is the peak of Fall color in Tennessee, and I want to savor this beautiful moment.
I made this cookies for my friends and I slipped a dry fall leaf on each of the wrap. Hopefully they also felt the joy and peace I had through what I shared.
Can't believe that it's been a month since my last post. Things had been crazy in the past month, but I happened to enjoy doing all of those. Now that I am free from classes, I can start sharing my kitchen-related and not-so-related experiences.
I'd started planning a baby shower for my friend, Jocelin, way back then in March. As time went by, I realized that the word "planning" in this case was no more than agreeing on a date for the parents-to-be and us. Soon after Easter break, I was swamped with homeworks, projects, and exams. I was also prone to getting sick last semester when I was too tired, which made things worse. Right after the last final exam, I flew to California to join hubby who was already there. We stayed there for a week and got back late on Tuesday. My week was pretty much full since we watched Star Trek sneak peek on Wednesday after work. Hubby had bought the ticket months before we planned the shower. Since then, he couldn't wait for that day. So watching that Star Trek movie was a done deal. On Friday, I had a meeting in Nashville and a bible study. So, I only had Thursday and Saturday to work on the baby shower.
I am always nervous for events that involves inviting bunch of people. What if not many people come? If the food isn't enough? If the food isn't good? If the party is lame? Well, this time, I didn't really have time to worry about those things because I was trying to accomplish my looong to-do list. Hubby kept saying that I was wearing myself out by doing too much thing and he thought some of those were not necessary since I didn't have much time. Those were things that I thought would be great to have for a baby shower, although I agreed that we could have omitted those without hurting the essence of the party. Of course, among those were things needed to be detailed. Things that I enjoyed doing the most.
While hubby and I had talked about the main food during our vacation, the "extras" were last minute deal. After did some quick online research, I decided to make onesie cookies for the thank you favor, cake with owl fondant figurine, and semar mendem or for this shower I called "rice in a baby blanket". I used Joy of Baking's recipe for the onesie cookies and royal icing using meringue powder. I didn't have onesie cookie cutter, so I tailored them myself using tools I had. Not having a specific cookie cutters allowed me to create different shapes of baby clothes. I'll post another entry about this once I have chance to recreate this cookies. I also found some online tutorial of how to decorate cookies using royal icing, which looked simple until I tried doing it myself. Once again, I was reminded of the importance of practice to master anything. I couldn't believe it's hard even just to make a straight line.
For the cake, I used Dorie Greenspan's vanilla cake, which only used egg whites. The butter cream is the reduced-sweetness version of this recipe. I stuck slices of strawberries in between the cake layers and soon regretted it. The strawberries made the cake watery and hard to cover. For the decoration, I made an owl figurine out of gum paste since Jocelin likes owl. So I was pretty much in the kitchen the whole time on Saturday either baking, cooking, or chopping.
I finished everything just right before the scheduled time although some were not as good as I expected. Until now, I still couldn't believe I could finish the whole thing and still had time to...take a shower before the event! Haha... I didn't have time to snap "proper" pictures of what I made though. The whole apartment was like a mess and the smell of what I cooked stayed until the next day. Nevertheless, I was super pleased that everything went well and the parent-to-be looked so happy. We had a lot of leftover what would be enough for another party. So other than what I mentioned above, I made beef rendang, Chinese corn soup, and stir fried gailan . My friends made fried chicken, cassava leaf (daun singkong) with pork, fried vermicelli, and eggplant in a hot pot.
Now we are eager to see the baby that can come at anytime soon.
Hubby went home hiding something behind his back. As he approached me, he handed me a bouquet of roses and said "happy anniversary!!!". I paused for a couple of seconds and for a moment, I thought he was wrong. I finally got it. It wasn't our wedding anniversary, but our relationship anniversary. It was anniversary of the day we decided to have special relationship. And that was.....16 years ago!
My getting surprised was justified, because hubby isn't a guy who remembers big days. He usually doesn't really care about valentine's days, birthdays, and not so much about anniversary, yet he never misses paying bills or deadlines Even if he remembers, he is not a roses type of guy. Honestly, I didn't remember about that day since we never celebrated it anymore since we got married. Yet, I told him that I had a surprise for him also. I brought him to the kitchen and showed him what I made for him.
Three hours earlier, I was craving spice cake but hesitated because I didn't have proper spice ingredients. I worked from home that day, so I could flipped through my recipe books and found a simple recipe from Dorie Greenspan's book. It was originally a yogurt cake with marmalade glaze, but I didn't have lemon zest nor marmalade, so I altered the recipe a little bit. Who would have thunk that the cake can be used to celebrate our anniversary
Yogurt Spice Cake
Ingredients: 1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Whisk in the sugar and eggs until well blended. Add in yogurt and oil. When the mixture is well blended, gently whisk in the dry ingredients. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil. The batter will be thick and shiny. Scrape it into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and starts to come away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.