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Back from Singapore

I’m home and very tired. Been fighting off a cold before I even left Singapore and now my body has finally given in to it. So I won’t talk much today. But I do want to thank everyone again for their well wishes. I did have a good time catching up with family and friends in Singapore, despite the family loss.

Here is a photo of my 81 year old grandma, my mother (I won’t mention how old she is 😛 ) and my three younger brothers – Salihin, 30; Hakiim, 16; and Irfan, 14. And me, of course. I’m 31. Don’t ask me why I’m mentioning the ages. My brain’s too zonked out at the moment.

Grandma & Family

Well, I better go unpack between naps. I’ll see you on Wednesday. Hopefully more alert and refreshed after some R&R. Take care ’till then!

P.S. I’m behind at replying to the all the comments left on the previous posts. But I do appreciate every single one of them and I’ll get around to replying to them asap!

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30th Birthday Chocolate Chip Muffins

I mentioned in my earlier carrot cake post that I was going to try out Melissa Goodsell‘s choc chip muffins recipe. I did bake the muffins as planned but you would be surprised at what time I baked them.

I went on a big bushwalk on Saturday afternoon, came home and cooked roast chicken. By the time we had finished dinner, it was well after 8pm but I thought I’ll just whip these muffins up quickly. The birthday party was on Sunday and I didn’t want to have to rush around in the morning. Half an hour later, I was on the sofa sharing a freshly baked muffin with Richard! I knew it was going to be quick but 30 minutes! Wow! I was impressed! Washing up was just as easy. A bowl, a spoon and a measuring cup. The muffin tray just needed a wipe because I used muffin cases. It was too good to be true.

Caramel Choc Chip Muffins
Chocolate Chip Muffins Recipe from Melissa Goodsell

So I inspected the muffins. They looked good. I like the rich caramel colour and the sweet smell filled the entire house. The dark chocolate chips peaking through the top gave the hint of chocolatey goodness to come. The muffins whet my appetite visually.

I ripped a muffin in half and saw that the chocolate chips have melted inside them. I handed one half to Richard and I held the other. My first bite was a little unsure. It doesn’t seem to be as moist as the other muffins I’ve made. Then I took a second bite. I quickly forgot about the slight dryness and was instead reminded of how much I love caramel … and chocolate …. and of course, cake. Mmmm… I wanted more. But I couldn’t! I needed to bring the muffins to the birthday party the next day!

Exerting as much self-control as I could muster, I packed the muffins away for a night and revealed them to Richard’s family on Sunday. Those who had the muffins said they liked them. If only they knew how much nicer those chocolate chip muffins were straight out of the oven! The gastronomic experience was worlds apart.

Emma's 30th Birthday Cake

Nonetheless, the birthday party went very well. It wasn’t all about the muffins. 😛 Everyone had fun celebrating my sister-in-law, Emma’s 30th. Richard’s dad brought a nice spread of seafood, roast chicken and salads. Uncle Kevin brought a yummy blackforest cake from The Cheesecake Shop. The day sort of ended with my nephew, Jackson, and my brother-in-law, James, in the pool together. We couldn’t walk into the backyard because they shot everyone with their water guns! I would have taken a photo but my camera would have gotten wet! It was a fun day. Happy 30th, Emma!

Related Posts:
White Chocolate Berry Muffin Recipe
Applesauce Muffins

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Recycled Magazine Christmas Tree

Last year, I handmade Christmas trees for Richard’s family out of old magazines. I used a craft tutorial from Just Like Martha. I know this post is very belated but better late than never! Anyway, I think the recycled magazine Christmas Tree can be used all year round as a home decoration. Like suggested in the tutorial, you can spray paint them to suit your interior decor. I left it to his family to add any finishing touches.

Recycled Magazine Christmas Tree
Hours of folding and not one papercut! 😛 I’m just glad they actually liked their paper trees. Plus, I get to recycle and craft at the same time.

Funnily enough, Richard’s brother, James, wrapped all his Christmas presents with old magazines too, even the extremely large Guitar Hero World Tour box! The recycled magazine wrapping didn’t stay on for long and the family was jamming away in no time. Rock on!

Boys Jamming on Christmas-Day
Jackson on Guitar Hero, James on drums and Richard on guitar

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Moving Forward

I have lost my job at the high school I’ve been working at for the last three years as a Teacher’s Aide. I did not receive a call one morning to say thank you for your services but there is no longer a position available to you this term. No, it didn’t happen that way. Instead, I had one day of work when school reopened and then nothing else. I rang up and was told that there is limited funding and they’ll keep me in mind. “I’ll keep you in mind”. What a blow to my guts.

It’s been a bit more than two weeks since I’ve gone to work. It feels like forever sometimes. I’m not sure what will happen next. I’m optimistic at the opportunity presented to me. I can start fresh again. I can put all my efforts into the best I can be, instead of settling in a job that underutilised my skills. Even though I am stressed and anxious about the future, I am happy.

On my road to self-discovery, I’ve been asking myself, “What are you really passionate about?” The answers are revealing themselves in mysterious ways. Last night, Richard laid next to me going through his RSS on the laptop. He found a Maths article which led to another article and ironically, an article on success and happiness. Below is a video from the article. It’s Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple, giving a graduation speech at Stanford University.

If you don’t see the video, click here to view directly from YouTube.
To read the entire article on “Collected Notes on Success and Happiness”, visit BetterExplained.

Tell me, friends. What is your idea of success and happiness?

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Family Holiday 2008

My mum and two of my brothers, Hakiim and Irfan, came to visit us late last year. It was their second visit to Australia, which made it much more relaxed than when they were here the first time. We travelled from the Hunter Valley down to the South Coast, beach after beach after beach.
Newcastle

We stayed at a holiday park on the South Coast for the weekend. Our cabin was just by the Crooked River, Gerroa, and the sunsets were stunning! This was my most favourite part of the entire holidays. South Coast really impressed me with their picturesque valleys and rolling hills.
Sunset over Crooked River
Herron @ Crooked-River

The holiday park was very close to Seven Mile Beach too and the sand on the South Coast seemed darker and not as soft as those found on the Central Coast. The beach was huge and flat. Perfect for young families, I think.
Seven Mile Beach
Family @ Seven Mile Beach
Us @ Seven Mile Beach
Clouds over Seven Mile Beach
VIDEO 1
VIDEO 2

As it was nearing Christmas, Richard’s mum put on an early Christmas dinner for us. It was the first time for my family to experience how Christmas is celebrated here. We had quite a few laughs over dinner with reindeer ears, funny hats and cheesy Christmas crackers jokes!
Christmas Dinner

In general, there were lots of mucking around (done mostly by the two boys) and doing heaps of nothing-ness. Quite a neccesity in our otherwise very busy lives.
Hakiim Trying to be  a Dog
Umi @ Terrigal Beach
Siblings @ Taronga-Zoo
More holiday photos found on Flickr

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