Archive | May, 2020

Almost a Pro

29 May

Our weekend golf games are routine by now. During this CMCO phase, we’ve opted to walk and carry our golf bags playing at the Hills course instead of taking the buggy. Some may say crazy but to me, that’s my outdoor gym right there and really good exercise.

I’m proud to say our stamina has improved and the past weekend we walked 18 holes on Saturday and 16 holes on Sunday. An increase in holes covered compared to the weekend before.

And both days, hubby baked in the afternoon. On Saturday, he made dinner rolls which turned out soft and fluffy. And on Sunday, ciabattas. On top of these, we did our tag team baking as well for yet another apple-filled effort.

First time making dinner rolls
Ciabatta was simply heavenly

Not a pie nor a tart, it bordered between an Apple Bread and a Caramel Apple Bomb. We had to combine two recipes because we didn’t have caramel and I didn’t want the outside to be too flaky. So a bread-like texture akin to dinner rolls instead.

Our version of Apple Bomb
Honestly, you wouldn’t know what these are

Turned out good. So did the ciabattas. Like the golf, the baking is almost like a pro too. And as always, I look forward to the weekend routine of golf and baking efforts by hubby.

Odd One Out

26 May

I took quite sometime to finish the latest Gnome because cooking and cleaning comes first over carving. And when I finally painted it up, it is an odd one.

Same same but different

Certainly a breakaway from the troop, it does not have the blue top or white shoes although it has the red cap like the rest. Well, it’s okay. Sometimes variation is good to make things interesting and also helps to improvise for the better.

However, when a piece in hand is not following a systematic way to carve, like carving the Whale pieces for example, the task in hand becomes challenging. And ginormous Gnome, at the height of 17.5cm was certainly a tough challenge.

One tough cookie… err, Gnome to carve

Well it’s almost completed (the varnishing being the final process), I am now contemplating what my next piece should be. Hmm…

Thrilled by a Kitchen Utensil

25 May

It takes a pandemic to change the behavior of people and how the world functions. We have been under the MCO and now CMCO since 18 March, and during this time, things happen to us. I’m sure we’re not alone on this behavioral change.

We discover ourselves in the midst of the semi-lockdown situation, perfecting our patience and unearthing amazing skills in the kitchen. Whilst my cooking has improved, hubby discovered baking. Who would’ve known?

On top of these, I find myself thrilled by online purchases of kitchen appliances and utensils! Something unheard of pre-MCO life. The first thrill was when the stand mixer arrived some time back. This time, it’s an eight inch baking pan which arrived middle of last week. Yes, an eight inch baking pan!

The thrill of my life!

The pan was specifically purchased for one purpose only and that is to bake apple pies. And since I didn’t go to the office the day it arrived, I efficiently whipped up my apple filling before the water could even dry off the pan after a quick wash upon unwrapping.

Then I waited patiently for hubby to return from the office to prepare the dough. That night immediately after dinner, we got down to baking the apple pie.

Again it was a test of patience – an hour for the dough in the fridge to settle, then another hour to complete the rest of the process and baking.

As soon as the pie came out of the oven and cooled, the three of us polished off three quarters of the apple pie without any guilt. So good, burp.

A successful effort this time!

The Accidental Baker

22 May

I am bowled over that hubby dearest has taken to baking so effortlessly, like fish to water. I simply do not know where he gets his energy from.

Even after a round of golf, he can still bake whereas I would just keep things slow to a manageable pace. For me, it’s to cool down my body in this furnace of a weather and not sweat any further than what I have already shed at the golf course. But he just goes on.

Last Sunday, after walking 15 holes with me, we got home and two hours later, he whipped up a superb herb whole wheat loaf. And as if that’s not enough, he baked a sponge cake thereafter!

Sponge cake had coconut shreds topping

If you thought I helped in anyway, hardly… I just ate when they were fresh from the oven. Of course this encouraged the accidental baker in hubby.

And as he’s constantly at it, I have to exercise constantly too to balance my intake. The weekend golf games are scheduled already and I am pretty sure the accidental baker will bake after the games.

Weekday efforts: cupcakes, banana bread and mini scones

A Totally New Gnome, Part 2

19 May

The latest ginormous Gnome is a ginormous challenge. The balance was off and so much effort has gone into it already. Obviously I did not want to waste the piece and decided to reshape things to save it.

It’s coming along

Days when I have the chance to carve, I’d be focused instead of planning on what to cook for hubby and M2. And this worked out.

Originally, I shaved off too much of the shoes and it wasn’t stable on its feet literally. Hence some patch work was needed to increase the footprint and this decision turned out well.

The cap was problematic from the beginning and I stressed over this. So I filed it, vigorously if I may add to shape the overall to look like what it is now. As best as I tried, it is still lop-sided. This fella certainly wears his cap differently from the rest.

I’m at the tail-end working on ginormous Gnome. Despite all the imperfections, I’m rather pleased with the result. The homestretch to complete now is just sanding to fine tune the lines and putty work on the holes before the gesso and paint process.

Golfing with Conditions, Part 2

18 May

It’s the second weekend in a row that we’ve gone to play golf. By now, golfing with conditions is not that bad, it’s for our safety after all. And it has become second nature to put on a mask whenever we are out and be mindful of social distancing.

There was improvement with this second outing as the legs held up without aches. I was more worn out by the humid weather than the walk itself and was sweating buckets. I came home almost two pounds lighter.

For two days in a row, I walked 15 holes each day and yes, I was carrying my golf bag with ten clubs. Hubby took the buggy and played 18 at the Lakes course on Saturday and walked 15 with me (and two other friends) at the Hills course on Sunday. Compared to the weekend before with nine and 14 holes over two days at the Hills course (not counting the Thursday game), this time there’s an additional seven holes in total for me.

Very good exercise is all I can say and definitely looking forward to the weekend again.

Golfing with Conditions

15 May

So last week, we went back to playing golf. With the new CMCO now enforced, the Club has conditions to abide by to ensure safety for all.

Wearing a mask and having our temperature taken upon arrival at the Club are now compulsory practices. Golfers have to keep their social distance from each other, so no groups and after game drinks. This is the new normal until June and we’ll have to get used to these practices.

My first golf game after such a lengthy break was quite an experience. OMG, it was so darn taxing on the legs!

The Club has put in place two different guidelines for the CMCO phase: a no buggy rule at the Hills course and a single player per buggy rule at the Lakes course. I played three times, carrying my golf bag, at the Hills course.

I don’t use a trolley for my golf bag and it’s not so much the weight of the bag but the distance to cover on foot. Being confined to the house during the MCO period, the amount of walking I do at home is nothing compared to covering the length of nine holes at the golf course.

My legs felt like jelly and ached beyond belief after my first game last Thursday (it was a public holiday) because I walked so much suddenly. I was wishing them, my legs that is, to fall off my body to reduce the agony. Obviously it didn’t work and I ended up walking weird the next day to manage the nagging pain.

But before the pain could totally subside, the die-hard golfer in me played again over the weekend. Twice mind you as I walked nine holes on Saturday and 14 holes on Sunday! The nine holes was manageable but the 14-holes was quite a killer outing.

Thankfully I had the whole week to recover before the coming weekend games. Phew.

Tag Team Baking, Part 2

12 May

It looks like the only time we do our tag team baking is when we are doing apple pies – I’d do the filling and hubby would take care of the crust. The second time, we decided we should do a whole pie instead of mini tarts. It’s less work to have the dough in one pie pan compared to a dozen or so tart moulds.

Having learnt from the earlier effort, hubby patiently worked on the crust and it came out beautifully this second time. Needless to say, the filling was good too.

But sometimes things doesn’t go as planned. The latest third attempt failed because I got distracted by the washing machine and the filling got too mushy. And hubby’s dough wasn’t enough to cover the top of the pie despite following the same recipe as before.

I felt so unaccomplished after that so we’d have to bake another one again soon to get over the failure.

A New Extension

11 May

Well guess what? Our Movement Control Order (MCO) has been extended but with some modification from what it has been previously. This extension is until 9 June.

A week before Phase Four of the MCO ended, the government recalibrated the situation of the pandemic for the country with a Conditional MCO (CMCO). Basically this meant certain restrictions were relaxed but certain practices were still necessary especially social distancing, donning a mask and sanitizing.

The economy was opened albeit with conditions and we actually went back to the office last week, readjusting how to function with compliance to the conditions laid out. It’s weird to be back in the office after so long.

Other sectors opened too, like golf! We can go back to playing golf. Yay… but with conditions. Everything’s with conditions from now on and we have to get used to it.

A Totally New Gnome

8 May

I have stopped carving Whales for almost a month already for a couple of reasons. Number one reason being no more correct sized Meranti wood. However it’s not that I have zero wood supply anymore, it’s just that there’s a lot of odd-sized pieces. And it would be too tedious to trim to the size required.

Second reason being I wanted a change. With the 60th Whale (in total since the beginning) completed on 12 April, I felt like a factory, having carved a dozen of the same thing during the MCO (Movement Control Order) period.

So a week after Whale #60, I started on a new ginormous Gnome. But this totally new Gnome had a lot of ups and downs.

Plans to carve daily did not work out well as I had to juggle between cooking and design work. Throw in meal times and playing Homescapes, I simply did not have the luxury to sit down for a few uninterrupted hours to carve. And as work picked up too, this was far more important than all other activities. Hence progress on the piece was slow.

By the time I had the chance to sit and carve–and this would be by nightfall–I would be so tired mentally and physically, there’s no more energy left to even lift the carving knife.

Then there were errors and hiccups working on the piece. The initial outline on the big two-piece Meranti block looked okay with a slight tilt of the cap but when I got down to it, not only was I off, I managed to nick my finger without realizing. The Gnome ended up with a very obvious lop-sided cap and a slightly bloodied nose. Oops…

The cap turned out too lop-sided!
Sweat and blood stains

It’s not only a totally new Gnome but a totally new challenge as well. I thought the Little Birdy was tough, this one was equally if not more. But I ploughed on because I don’t have the correct sized wood for Whales.