Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finding my destiny

Has anybody watched the movie "The Men Who Stare at Goats"?  For a George Clooney movie, it was rather disappointing.  Supposedly a comedy...I think I only laughed a couple of times...and they weren't even big laughs.  One particular scene blew me away though.  And for that alone, I reckon, it was worth having to bear with the whole thing.

That scene involved George Clooney (Lyn) and Ewan McGregor's (Bob) characters. At that point, they were kidnapped by a criminal gang and Bob was freaking out.  Lyn said something like this to Bob:

Have you heard of Optimum Trajectory before? Your life is like a river, Bob. If you're aiming for a goal that isn't your destiny, you will always be swimming against the current. Young Ghandi wants to be a stock-car racer? Not gonna happen. Little Anne Frank wants to be a High School teacher. Tough titty Anne. That's not your destiny. But you will go on to move the hearts and minds of millions. Find out what your destiny is and the river will carry you. Now sometimes events in life give an individual clues as to where their destiny lies.

For many, many years, I have solely concentrated on being the best mother I can be, believing that is my only life purpose. After I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, I gradually lost my way in all other aspects of my life. I accepted things just the way they were because I thought they were simply meant to be that way. I don't think I was actually 'swimming against the current'...I just didn't know where I was going.

Only recently did I come to realize that, although being a mother is my most important calling, it is but one part of my whole being.  In the last couple of years, I found out there are actually a lot of other things (no matter how small they may seem), I am good at as well.  I am very grateful because the people around me (and that includes those of you who faithfully read and comment on this blog) have given me the validation I badly needed.
In my prayers, I always ask the Lord to reveal His plans for me and to guide me in His direction. Now, more than ever before, those plans are beginning to get clearer. Slowly, things are falling into place. 

2010 is indeed looking brighter.  I truly believe I am now headed to where my destiny lies.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In the past week...

...I got my first cake order! Was reluctant at first to accept because I was afraid I would stuff it up.  It was for my sister in-law's niece, who, for her 17th birthday, only asked for one thing...a soft and light chocolate cake. As most cakes in the shops here are heavy and super rich mud cakes, my sister in-law thought of asking me to bake for her.

So glad I did...I was super pleased with how the cake turned out and I got great positive feedback from those who feasted on it!

I love the flowers (but honestly, I don't even know what those are supposed to be!).

Yesterday, it was my eldest son's 16th birthday.  Naturally, I had to make a birthday cake for him as well.  It's much harder to do one for a boy, isn't it?  I couldn't put flowers in even if I wanted to...

I opted to design the cake with his favourite NBA team in mind, the Orlando Magic! (I had to promise my other son I would make him a Lakers cake come his birthday.)

Got the team logo off the internet and printed contact print sizes to make those little flags!

I do think I am getting better with cake decorating.  Still amateurish, but considering the fact that all my skills are self-taught, I should be pretty happy with myself...

In the sewing front this time...I managed to sew another digital camera cozy.

The Hello Kitty fabric is way cute!

A nice finishing touch is this little red bow button.

The new eBook and pattern for this digital camera cozy is now available here and here.  You might wonder how I was able to complete that one so fast.  After already writing up many tutorials in the past, the process really does get easier.   There are no complicated steps in this particular project so I encourage all those with boring camera cases to give the pattern a try!

Before I end, let me just leave with you with this music video of my current favourite song.  Puts me in a good mood everytime, just like the people in the video!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Idea for a new pattern

Isn't it just about time for me to come up with a new sewing pattern?  Sometimes I think I am running out of ideas.  A lot of times I find myself staring into space, not knowing what to do...

But last night, the idea just came upon me.  A digital camera cozy...why husband had actually just bought a new compact digital camera. 

If I were to make a pattern though, the case would have to fit not just our camera.  I did a quick search on the internet and compared the dimensions of the top compact digital cameras currently on the market.  I took note of the largest dimensions and used them to make my case.

My case ended up being 4" tall, 2.5" wide and 1.25" deep. (That's how small digital cameras are these days!) It is padded and quilted, closes with velcro and has a strap with a swivel hook so it can be easily carried around or hung from a bag or belt loop.

Here it is...the first version.

Considering the size, the case was a little tricky to sew, just like my iPhone carry case.  As I said, this is the first version.  I think it was a bad choice to use the white fabric (cute as it was) cause by the time I was finished sewing, it wasn't as white anymore!  I made a few mistakes along the way and still have to do some adjustments in my measurements. 

The pattern and eBook will hopefully come very soon.  Please let me know your thoughts on this, ok?  Would appreciate it tremendously!

Monday, January 11, 2010

First sewing projects for the year

It's 43 degrees C (109.4 F) hot in Melbourne today.  Crazy me, of all days, I decided to clean the bathroom and toilet.  It's only midday and I'm already exhausted.  Just got myself an ice cold glass of water and am now resting while updating my blog.

I've managed to finish a couple of easy projects recently.  First off is this patchwork pillow which I quickly whipped up for a birthday girl (who happens to be my goddaughter). 

The fabric squares are just leftovers from my first market bag.  For the back side, I used the blenders.

I love this pillow but the recipient is only 7 years old so my initial thought was that I should have used kiddie fabrics instead.  I remembered this other simple project and figured it would be more appropriate for her...

A tooth fairy pillow!  Isn't that adorable?  Used this tutorial to make it.

I also baked 2 dozen marble cupcakes last Saturday to take to the birthday party.

The recipe I used is from Martha Stewart.  I don't have her cupcake book yet (still waiting for it to arrive in the mail!) but I found the recipe here.  The cupcakes did not turn out as good as it should have.  I think I overbeat the batter or I did some other thing wrong. 

In the end, I chose to just give the patchwork pillow.  I'm keeping the tooth fairy pillow for my youngest son to use as he still has a lot of teeth to lose anyway.  I know the fabrics aren't boyish...but really, it's for the tooth fairy and not for wouldn't really matter.

At the moment, I am also trying to learn a new craft!

I got the yarn and needles from a swap sometime ago.  Borrowed a couple of books from the library and am now trying to learn the different stitches.  I really don't know if I will progress in this craft.  It's kinda hard on my hands (I have CTS) and eyes.  We'll see.  Sometimes I think that by doing so many different things, I am starting to lose focus.  You know that figure of speech, "Jack of all trades, master of none"?  I started out making and selling rosaries, then sewing bags and softies and making patterns, and now crocheting.  My husband and a lot of other people around me have also been encouraging and convincing me to start a cupcake business.  The question is, should I focus on just one thing to master?  I don't know. 

Before I end, just wanted to ask if anybody would be interested in a tutorial for the patchwork pillow.  I still have some squares left and am planning to make another one soon for another birthday. Please express your interest in the comment section below so I can take photos as I go about sewing that one.

Ok, will sign off now.  My kids want me to make some yeast doughnuts later.  I found this Krispy Creme Doughnuts Copycat recipe...might as well give it a try.  Think of me as you enjoy the cold weather in your side of the world!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

One beautiful, sloppy mess

What usually happens when you get yourself into something that's way out of your league?

A disaster.

I baked an Ube (Purple Yam) Chiffon Cake today. Some of you might find the idea of a cake like this a little weird.  This is in fact widely popular in the Philippines and it's one of my personal favourites.  I have actually been dreaming of making one for a very long time.  

It started out as a simple plan in my bake a soft, light chiffon cake that will be cleanly frosted with whipped cream.   I had told you time and again that I was no good at cake decorating so really, I had to keep it plain.

After baking the cake, things started to go differently though.  One change came after another.  First of all, I had extra grated purple yam left so I thought, why not make a cake filling out of it? 

I decided against cutting the cake in half afterwards.  That filling eventually became the cake border.  But the problem was that it was a bit runny...I figured it would be best to just spread it out like a topping.  That topping eventually became a part of the frosting. 

I am not going to pretend that I knew what I was doing. Really, I had no idea.  What I was left at that point was one big, sloppy mess of a cake.

But I wasn't about to give up.  I had to go by my instincts and turn this disaster around with my creativity.

I played with the frosting a bit more until I was finally satisfied.

So here it birthday cake. 

I suppose it didn't turn out to be a disaster after all.

It's my birthday today, by the way.

PS. We'll eat this later...if it turns out as yummy as I am imagining it to be, I might even share the recipe....

UPDATE: We just ate the cake... 

It is absolutely lovely!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcoming the new year

Welcome 2010!  My brother aptly summed up what 2009 was like for us...a lot of painful memories but balanced with happy ones as well...we are full of gratitude to the Lord as we look back on all of these.

New year's eve and day came and went without much fanfare for my family.  Aside from hearing mass in the morning, we really did nothing out of the ordinary.

I know I did say I was going to take a break from baking for a while...but really...who could resist that new mixer? Besides, my kids were egging me on to use it anyway. So, to start off the year, let me just share with you the recipe for this wonderful cake.

I was a bit overeager to put in the walnuts, hence, the chunks, instead of smaller pieces.

We feasted on this cake after dinner and had only a little less than half of it left when we were done.  Tells you just how much we loved it.



1/2 cup baking cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water

1 1/2 cups plain flour (or 1 3/4 cups cake flour)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

7 egg yolks
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter
60 grams unsweetened chocolate
2 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons hot water
chopped nuts, if desired


1.  Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

2.  Mix {A} in a small bowl.  Set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

3.  In a large bowl, combine {B} well.  Add in {C} and cooled dissolved cocoa.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand until smooth and well blended.

4.  Beat {D} on high speed until frothy.  Gradually add in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Gradually and gently fold in egg whites into egg yolk mixture.  Pour batter into ungreased 10" tube pan.

5.  Bake for about 60 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Invert pan into wire rack immediately and cool completely.

6.  Carefully run a thin knife around sides and center of pan and invert cake onto a large serving plate.

7.  For the icing, melt butter and chocolate over low fire.  Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the icing ingredients (except nuts).  Mix until very smooth and thickened.  Drizzle over cake.  Top with chopped nuts if desired.