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Fake Betty Crocker Brownie Mix

This morning, my aunt and uncle arrived from Manila to stay with us for some time to help take care of Baby Alexa. I’m so thankful that they can spend time with us, no work or other obligations back home to worry about. For first time parents like us, it’s a huge relief to have family around who would know what to do when the “big day” comes and everything that comes after that.

Anyway, last night I wanted to try another easy dessert that I found on Pinterest. Since before I had my oven, I had been collecting interesting and easy-to-do recipes in my Pinterest boards, Desserts and Meals and Other Edibles.

That easy dessert that I’m talking about is the Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies.

Well, it’s somehow like this boxed mix that you can find in the supermarket, but what I tried is the FAKE one, made from scratch. Thanks to Heather Bea for the idea, and the recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Mix all the ingredients together and dump them in a Ziploc bag. On the bag, write the following instructions:

Add:  2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Bake @ 180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes in a 9×9 pan.  

But of course, I did not put them in a Ziploc bag ‘coz I was just too excited to try them out!

I dumped all the ingredients in a medium bowl and just used a wooden spoon to mix them all together, without realizing that I do not have a 9×9 inch pan!

I read from the comments that if you use a 9×13 pan (which I have), it would turn out thin and crunchy. I wanted to double the amount of ingredients but I have only 2 eggs left. So I just settled with using my mini muffin pans and made 24 pcs out of it.

They were baked for 30 minutes (that’s when the toothpick came out clean when inserted), and they looked like cookies, haha!

But believe me, it was SOOOO GOOD!!! Especially the chewy but crunchy top! And it was so easy to prepare that it would take you no more than 5 minutes to whip it up.

I’m stocking up on bags of this mix so I can have them again anytime. And I will make sure that I have the proper pan size, or make a double of the recipe to fit my 9×13 pan so I can have the fudge brownies that do look like brownies (like the ones on the Betty Crocker box).

Btw, you can add nuts (like I did) for that extra crunch, or some white or milk chocolate chips for extra sweetness.

Two more work days to go before my maternity leave starts. Yay! I can finally get that much needed sleep and rest before I join the motherhood club!

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Baby Shower for Baby Alexa

In about five weeks from now, another life-changing experience will be coming to our lives. Baby Alexa is due to arrive and meet us all!

In preparation to that, we had our new home blessed and had a small baby shower get together with our close friends last Saturday. The preparation was a lot of fun, having my friends Ms. S and Ms. C to help me out in cooking, baking and decorating while we chat, laugh, and catch up on each other’s life stories.

The baby shower ideas that I have gathered from Pinterest were a huge help! We did not have an outdoor BBQ party as planned, but instead had a simple lunch-to-dinner at home for convenience and comfort.

Of course, I did not want to miss this opportunity to do the dessert table for our first born. And so, I want to share with you how it all turned out.

Lovin’ PINK already! And I am happy with the way all the details have matched and turned out really pretty.

These cute paper lanterns are from Daiso (at S$2.00 each.. love that place!).

The pink cherry bunting and baby feet are free printables found in the internet (sources can be found on the template). Thanks to the generous sources, it saved me so much time and effort to do the decors.

As mentioned in my post sometime last month, Alexa’s nickname is MAX, hence Baby Max written on the bunting. It has already been approved by her grandpa (my dad). He wants a baby boy, so for the meantime a boy-sounding name will do. Haha!

Free printables are also used to decorate the treats. Click below for the sources:

Our baked goodies on improvised platters — chocolate crinkles on a wooden chopping board, mini carrot muffins on a cupcake stand (out of 2 plates of different sizes and a coffee mug in between. No gluing done.), and cinnamon mini donuts on a plate with light blue paper. I will post the recipes soon!

Alexa’s parents… Daddy on the left, mommy on the right. Do you think mommy’s cuter than daddy? *wink*

Light pink table cloth, bright pink doily-like table runner (originally an anti-slip mat, but its color contrast to the table cloth is pretty so had to use it here!), and pink with white polka dots photo frame are all from Daiso (also at S$2.00 each. Everything you can find there is at S$2.00!). White photo frames are from Ikea.

It was a fun day for everyone. Tiring though from all the preparations that hubby and I had to sleep in till noon of Sunday. But it was all worth it.

Hope you liked my baby shower table setup. I will definitely do it again for Alexa’s first birthday, or a friend’s baby shower… let’s see what event will come up next.

Please stay tuned for the recipes of the baked treats I made.

Happy Monday!

Banana Bread

Go bananas (Idiom)

  • (slang) to go mildly crazy.
  • (informal) to become very angry
  • to become very emotional

Hmm… I have always heard about this phrase, but I have never thought of googling its meaning until now. This is how a pregnant woman feels (or sometimes makes as an excuse for a funny behaviour, haha!) from time to time due to hormones, right? Just sayin’…

This post is not about hormones or pregnancy. It’s about banana bread, one of my favourites! During my 8 months of pregnancy, banana is one of the fruits that I should always have at home to make my eating healthy. Not a fan of vegetables, yes. That’s why I have to make it up with fruits.

Anyways, I found this easy Banana Bread recipe on Pinterest weeks ago and thought of giving it a try. It’s so easy that I don’t have to wait for the weekend to whip it up. Here’s a link to the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (omit if you used salted butter)

Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • In the bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, bananas, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Mix.
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to butter/banana mixture and stir until well combined.
  • Pour into prepared greased bread pans.
  • Bake mini loaves for 25 minutes; small loaves for 30-35 minutes; large loaf for 45 minutes, or until pick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I used a 20cm round foil pan and baked for about 40 minutes)

I love watching them rise and brown in the oven. I feel a sense of fulfilment… a job well done! While hoping and praying that they will be delicious enough to share and be proud about, haha!

Cracks on top — check! They are just like what I see on professionally made banana bread, so seeing them on my work is like saying to myself, “High five, mommy! You did it right!” I like how the top became crunchy, that’s the best part of the banana bread for me.

I ate it with hot choco, perfect for a rainy morning…

Thanks for dropping by!

P.S. I hope you’re enjoying my food posts. I have been planning for some DIY projects for two weekends now (with the long weekend that just passed) but it has been set aside due to greater love for food! Sorry… Btw, if you would like to follow me on Pinterest, please do so by clicking here. Thanks a lot!

Oven-Baked Meals

Wow, time flies really fast! It’s already August!

The last two days were dead-tiring! The whole Tuesday was spent packing, cleaning, moving, and unpacking… and some more unpacking yesterday, and a little appliance shopping. Once in a while, I had to remember that I cannot push myself to my limit because it would not be good for me and my baby.

Anyway, we already ordered the oven yesterday so I am looking forward to this Saturday for it to be delivered to us. I got the manual type of Rowenta Oven (OC3838), not the one I mentioned in my previous post. Aside from the fact that it is S$200.00 cheaper and space-saving (no extra bulk at the back due to the turbo fan), I just felt that I don’t really need the special functions of the Rowenta OC7891. I am not an expert in the kitchen, but I know how to follow instructions/recipes, so I guess I can manage. I just need to get to know my new BFF more. (Note: BFF stands for “Best Friends Forever”. In this post, it’s a.k.a. new Rowenta oven. haha!)

I have rounded up some oven-baked meals in my Pinterest board, Meals and Other Edibles, to get me started. (Click on the image for source)

Potato Overload

Doesn’t it look yummy? Here’s another one…

Simple, but would surely make hubby say “mmm…” with eyes closed!

This is called Loaded Baked Potato Salad, although when reading the recipe, I cannot find any instruction to bake it. Well anyhow, it’s still potatoes. *shrug*

Pizza and Pasta

Pizza and pasta in one!

Another must try. Maybe I don’t need to order pizzas anymore on pizza nights with friends!

Now let’s go Mexican!

Hungry already? I AM!

What’s your favourite oven-baked recipe? Please feel free to share.

P.S. To follow me on Pinterest, please click here. Thank you!

Homemade Cleaners

Hello everyone!

Today, the new house is officially OURS! The keys have been turned over to us last night. Today is the big move, so things are getting more and more exciting from today onwards!

I am not a squeaky-clean-in-the-house kind of person. But since buying a house with our own hard-earned money, I can’t think of anything but how to make it clean and homey, especially with baby Alexa on the way.

I have been looking around Pinterest for home décor and organization ideas which I have shared with you in my previous posts. Just in case you missed, please click on the Our Home category in this blog.

Aside from decors and organization ideas, I have also been obsessed with homemade cleaners. They are definitely way cheaper than store-bought cleaners, and I believe they are more eco-friendly. So I thought of giving them a try.

Today, I tried to mix only three recipes just to see if they really work. And for initial house cleaning, I think these will be most useful for me.

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp dish soap
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 400 ml warm water

Dusting Spray

  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c white vinegar
  • 2 c warm water

Air & Fabric Freshener

  • 1 tbsp scented fabric softener
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 350 ml water

For all recipes, you just need to stir/shake to mix well and use a squirt bottle for optimal usage. (400 ml squirt bottles were purchased from Daiso at S$2.00 each)

This is going to be a very busy week! Lots of moving, cleaning, and unpacking to do. But I am sure to give myself some pit stops in between those chores to recharge and ease the anticipated back pains.

By the way, today is the start of week 31. Nine more weeks to go. We’re almost there…

Thanks for dropping by!

P.S. To follow me on Pinterest, please click here. Thank you!

DIY: Honey & Olive Oil Sugar Scrub

I love today’s weather. Cool wind and little rain, perfect for us pregnant ladies who cannot bear the heat in this tropical island of Singapore. It would be even better if we can just snuggle in bed. Ah, bed-weather!

Anyway, this post would be about one of the things that I wish to create a solution for, but would usually (unintentionally, I would say..) ignore — DRY SKIN. Blame it to the bed that misses me when I come home (or is it the other way around?), and my so-called pregnancy brain. Now, I just feel like finally doing it, for the love of my dear husband!

Hubby’s facial skin and scalp worries me. It’s always dry and flaky. He has been drinking lots of water to stay hydrated (at least 6-8 glasses, as recommended). He has even tried expensive facial treatments and medications, but it did not provide long term solutions and just put a big hole in our pockets.

And then there are these natural (and cheap!) DIY solutions that goes around the internet. I must try them and see if they work!

For the DIY facial scrub, here’s the recipe that I chose to try (with some changes ‘coz I used what’s available in our kitchen):

Honey & Olive Oil Sugar Scrub

{Note: Photo grabbed from Pinterest. For smaller portion, follow measurements in the post}

You Need:

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (I used Pure Olive Oil)
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • ½ Cup Sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • Measuring utensils
  • 1 Chopstick or stirring stick
  • 1 Clean container

Steps:

  1. Add the olive oil to your container.
  2. Next, add the honey. (Note: Adding in this order will help to get all the honey out of the measuring utensil)
  3. Add the sugar to the mixture.
  4. Stir well with the chopstick or stirring stick.

Tips:

  • These amounts don’t need to be exact, and you can adjust the proportions as needed.
  • Do not store in the fridge – this will harden the mixture, which you do not want.
  • Don’t be afraid of the oil! It won’t clog your pores!

To Apply:

  1. Wash your face and make sure your makeup is completely removed before applying the scrub
  2. Use a tiny spatula to scoop 1 little scoopful, and apply all over your face
  3. Scrub in a broad, circular motion (avoid your eye area!)
  4. After about 60 seconds, rinse off the mixture
  5. Pat dry your face
  6. Usually, skin would feel thoroughly moisturized. But if you feel your skin still needs it, you can also apply moisturizer at this step.
  7. Use only at nighttime, but not recommended for nightly use. If you have sensitive skin, try using it once a week. If you have oily skin, try using it once a week or every 3-4 days.

I had some thoughts during the process: (Click on the link below)

My Verdict: Face is moisturized and exfoliated. I applied on my hands well, skin instantly became soft and smooth. Two thumbs up! Hubby must try!

I’m trying the DIY solution for dry scalp next. Stay tuned!

Sweet Tooth? Not really…

When I told my friends that I’m pregnant, they would always ask me, “What do you crave for?” And I would always answer back, “nothing unusual..” My normal, pre-pregnancy cravings are always salty food. Even up to now, although I try to eat less of it because of the little one. (Daydreaming mode ON: I can see about 2 years from now, me and little Alexa watching her favourite cartoons while sharing a big bag of Doritos.. yum! haha!)

Recently, hubby and I have been doing some window shopping for a table top oven to purchase once we have moved to our new house. Initially, hubby wanted a built-in type but with the additional cost for installation works, I told him that I can settle for the table top type. I’m a newbie in baking, anyway. After doing some research, I think we will be going for the Rowenta OC7891. It’s a bit pricey, but have read a lot of good reviews about it.

Because I am SOOOO excited about getting my hands on this oven, a lot of sweet treats have been pinned to my Pinterest board, Food, waiting to be tried and tested. (Click on image for source)

This is Nigella Lawson’s chocolate cake recipe, which, according to Ju, is a very easy, fail-proof recipe that even a child or a newbie baker (that’s me!) can make. So I guess this will be the very first recipe that I’m gonna try.

Cupcakes for breakfast? Why not? It has everything you would want to eat in the morning — bacon, eggs, hash browns, and cheese!

Cheesecake…

.. and another cheesecake…

.. and another cheesecake! Ooohh… this one I LOVE! Even without the cheesecake, haha!

My sister used to bake chocolate chip cookies really, really well. We even sell them in school or give it out as presents for Christmas.

Caramel-glazed apple bread.

Love salted caramel! Starbucks had the Salted Caramel Mocha drink for a limited time and it was a heaven of salty sweetness! Hope it comes back soon!

I’m kinda in love with brownies, so I’d probably be stocking up on this.

I also would like to try baking Filipino breads that I miss — Pan de sal (salted bread), Spanish bread, coconut macaroons, and this…

Napoleones! A favourite pastry from Bacolod City, Philippines, my mom’s hometown. We always ask our relatives from Bacolod to bring us some when they visit Manila.

Now I’m drooling just looking at those photos!

Will be trying these recipes soon. And I promised hubby that I will be making lots of healthy treats for him as well.

Just an update, I am now at the end of my 28th week. My tummy is getting a lot bigger and heavier everyday, and walking can be really tiring now. Little Alexa has been doing some stretching inside the tummy, I often feel one side of my tummy hard like her head is pushing against it. And hubby needs to give me a push when getting out of bed ‘coz I cannot sit up by myself, haha. We’ll be seeing the doctor tomorrow for some blood/glucose tests. Hope everything will go well.

Have a great Thursday!

Ideas + DIY: Nursery Decors and ABCs

A great Sunday to all of you.

From my previous post, I mentioned that I have been collecting inspiration for my baby girl’s nursery. Lots of ideas, it’s overwhelming! The last time I felt this was during my wedding preparation, when I was so confused with all the ideas I saw in the internet, as well as friends’ and family’s inputs. Gladly, we got to mix all the great ideas and it turned out to be a beautiful and solemn ceremony for me and hubby, which was enjoyed as well by everyone close to our hearts.

Going forward to the present, since I am into the mood for decorating the nursery (at least in my dreams at the moment *wink*), I have also been collecting photos of decors and accents for the baby’s room. They are also found in my Pinterest board, Baby Love.

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Yes, I’m into pink + gray. Plus, the cutie gray ellie and the message “dream big, little one”, who wouldn’t be in love with this? Words of inspiration not just for kids, but for adults as well. Nobody should stop dreaming and believing in themselves.

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I don’t know why, but I find elephant designs cute for the nursery. Especially if they are in color pink or gray. Move over teddies! (This mommy’s not a fan of teddy bears!)

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Green + pink + white also make a good color combination. Love the white owl lamp base!

As a way to boost the kids’ learning, my sister K (mom of my 11-month old baby niece, M) shared to me that I should stick alphabets and shapes on the walls. Found some cute frames in Pinterest which I found interesting and easy to do.

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There’s another ellie!

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The above photo has been my inspiration for my first nursery project — the alphabets with the little one’s name highlighted. But instead of repeating the alphabets, I swapped two letters so the letters of her name is in order. For my project, I highlighted M-A-X, Alexa’s nickname.

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Of course it’s in pink + gray! The Tigger stuffed toy was given to me by hubby when we were still dating. And it will be passed on to Alexa.

The frame is an old IKEA Nyttja frame. The letters were designed using Adobe InDesign and printed on 6 pieces A4 paper. I just pasted it together. I made some mistakes along the way with some letters not aligned, only can be seen when you look at it closely. It looks nice from afar though, somehow. 🙂

More DIYs (and recipes) are on the line, all reserved to be done after the house move and during my maternity leave.

For the meantime, enjoy the rest of your Sunday and wishing you all a great work week ahead!

Ideas: Nursery for Baby Girl

Hi everyone!

Recently, I have been collecting inspiration for the nursery. I want it simple, soft, and white, with touches of grey and pastels.

Here are some of them, collected in my Pinterest board, Baby Love:

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Love the soft pastel colors! Just replace the blue color with pastel pink, it would be perfect for a baby girl nursery.

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I would prefer gray + pink…

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White + mint is also love!

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Don’t you love the natural lighting?

Which one is your favorite?

I am also collecting inspirations for nursery room accents and decorations. I will share it with you in another post.

Today, we are starting to pack our things for the house move which will happen in three weeks… excited!

Have a great weekend to you all!

Ideas: Baby Shower

I know everyone’s excited for the weekend. Here I am at my work desk, doing what I enjoy most nowadays (you guessed it right — Pinteresting!), while patiently waiting for the clock to strike at 6pm then off I go.

In my previous post, I mentioned that we will be moving to our new house next month. It’s one of the exciting things that me and hubby are looking forward to, and we want to share that joy with our family and friends — by inviting them for a BBQ house warming party sometime this August.

Due to time and budget constraints, we thought of making it a house-warming-slash-baby-shower-slash-joint-birthday party (my and hubby’s birthdays are both in August). A storm of blessings that calls for a (4-in-1) BIG celebration!

I’m not an expert when it comes to BBQ-ing, but we have friends who can help us with that. All I need to do is prepare the marinated pork/chicken, fish, corn, and all else that are great when grilled. And maybe some cooked food as well. I can plan for that later.

What I am excited about is the dessert table which will be dedicated for our baby, Alexa. As usual, I have collected inspirations for baby shower decors in my Pinterest board, Baby Love:

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Love the table setup! Bright colours! Even the drinks match to the colour theme.

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Pinwheels! The décor was used in a wedding, but wouldn’t it be cute for a baby shower as well? Lovely prints!

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Another type of pinwheel which is just as gorgeous! The little pompoms, framed prints and the little round colourful confetti with the gender printed on it are also great ideas.

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If you want the guests to guess your little one’s gender (that is if you haven’t spilled it out yet!), you can use this for your “guess the gender, choose a colour” game. (Note: For tutorial of the DIY candy baby pacifier, click photo or here.)

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Of course, it’s “G is for GIRL” for me! Not much of a fan of cupcakes though, just love it when they are pretty and colourful. I will make those little banners with more colours and stick them on brownies and muffins.

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Isn’t this cake a cutie? Love the crib and the little sleeping baby in it!

My cousin in the US is giving birth to her first baby boy sometime end of July after being married for 6 years. I am so excited for her! Thank God for Facebook, we are able to share pregnancy stories with each other. She will be having her baby shower in mid July. Looking forward to seeing their photos!

My due date is exactly 3 months from today (28 September 2013). Soon entering the last trimester.

Oops, baby Alexa just poked on my tummy to say a “hi” to you all! 😉

Have a great weekend, guys!