The Happiest Run

Last Saturday, I took part in the most colorful run, the ColorVibe Run
Apparently it is a version of the more popular ColorRun which couldn’t make it to this part of the country that I am in now
This one partnered with our local charity and non-profit organization for the event

A group of us, all mothers, stranded in this part of the world because of our husbands’ job
Some of them are taking a break from their career back home, some are like me, a stay at home mom since forever

Our day revolves round kids, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, more cleaning and more cooking
We try to throw in shopping, coffee, a hobby and self maintaninence
but is not often possible especially if the kids are before school going age

Time is a luxury and self maintenance doesn’t equate to spending an afternoon at the hair salon or spa
It has to be something efficient, effective and preferably low budget

Coincidentally we all found jogging
It makes us happy, keeps us in shape and best of all, it’s free

Some, like me, discovered it since they became a mom
Others, still doing it with a toddler strapped in a jogger

A couple of them are trying to get back on track, after milking the young for the last 6 months
then again, those who were already on track, never seem to get better
Maybe because there has never been a need to get better

Then we heard about the run which could probably a motivation for us to be better
We signed ourselves up and called ourselves, MomsDayOut
because mom does need a day out

On a Saturday morning, we dumped the kids with the Dad
Squeezed into a minivan, which by the way, is our trademark, because all of us drive one of this
Unexciting, uninteresting and clumpsy machine
which really doesn’t define us

And sometimes that’s the scary thing about being a mom
We forget who we are, what we aspire to be
We take care of everyone else except ourselves

Yet there is also the wonderful part of finding ourselves and knowing who we really are
It’s complex and it can be surreal

Some had found it, some had forgotten it, some still figuring out

But the group of us
different in many ways
yet so alike at a deeper level

6 countries, mix of cultures, multiples colours, all moms, 1 goal
We signed up to have fun

And we did


photo credit to my Israelis friend

 
 
Linking up with MummyMoo’s Tuesday’s Thoughts

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Tips For Making Cake Pops From a First Timer

So these cake pops were one of my most well planned bake
Well, if you compare that to my usual last minute bake where what I bake is usually determined by what I have in the pantry

It was a few days before my preschooler’s birthday and I had just finished batches of cookies for the school’s fall festival bake sales
I thought I would bake something simple for the birthday, nothing too complicated

Then a few days before the birthday, I was having an online chat with a friend, a guru at making cake pops
The conversation somehow drifted to making cake pops and I couldn’t remember how I ended up with this hopeful belief that ‘I can do it !’
I plunged into it witthout doing much research, thinking it was quite common sensical
The steps should probably go something like this, bake cake, crumb cake, roll cake, decorate cake
Also, the thought of having a guru at my finger tips gave me an inane sense of power and I totally forgot that we were 12 hours apart !

I ended up having to watch cake pop making videos while kneading cake crumbs
It was quite an experience, and I was sure it would be my first and last time making cake pops
After 3 days of back breaking labour, I finally completed what I started to do

I fell in love with what I saw
Even my ugliest creation looked too cute to be eaten
They were a hit with the kids, so much so that I changed my mind about it being my last time making them

I thought I should compile a list of lessons that I had learned from my cake pops making experience so that I can refer to and share with those who are adventurous enough to get their hands dirty

Note : this is not a recipe, just lessons that I had picked up while making the cake pops
For tutorials and recipes, scroll down for links below, there are plenty of experts out there who are already sharing great tutorials and recipes

Baking the cake
Use your favourite recipe but take out the sugar
If you are like me, particular about sugar content then I would suggest choosing an unsweetensed recipe because you will be adding lots of sugar when you prepare the dough and when you coat them
I use a muffin recipe without the sugar as suggested by my friend, you can use your favourite sponge cake or pound cake recipe

Preparing the Dough
Crumb the cake with a fork or hands and make sure there is no chunky bits as they are not able to hold together and will cause your cake pops to fall apart

I bought Wilton Decorating Icing and I really don’t like its smell and taste
I ended up using mostly Nutella to mix into the cake crumbs to get the consistency that is required and ended up with chocolate cake pops even with a plain muffin recipe

So you don’t really need a chocolate cake recipe even if you are making chocolate cake pops
I should think you can use your favourite jam for this as well

Consistency of the dough
The consistency of the dough is important because when it is too dry, the shape will fall apart when the lollipop stick is inserted
If it is too wet it usually mean very sweet cake pops because a lot of frosting has been used

The dough is actually easiest to work with when it’s wet as it will stay in shape and not crumple when the lollipop stick is inserted
You can tell that your dough is too dry when cracks appear on your rolled balls
More frosting needs to be added before you move on because it is almost for sure the balls will fall apart when the lollipop sticks are inserted

I read that the balls need to be chilled before inserting the lollipop sticks and I did just that
I ended up with hardened and very dry balls which made inserting the sticks almost impossible
Many of them fell apart and I had to redo the dough by adding in more frosting
I would actually suggest skipping the chilling part after the balls have been rolled and jump straight into inserting the lollipop sticks

Preparing for coating
Plan ahead, choose a design and decide on the colours

If you are a first timer like me, I suggest choosing an easy design
The fewer colours on the cake pops the easier it is

For every colour, you need to set aside for it to dry before adding on the next colour
So the more colours you have, the more time and effort required

The base colour need to be prepared in advance so that it can be used to coat the lollipop sticks before inserting them into the cake pops

I made 3 different colours cake pops, so I had to prepare 3 different colours
I didn’t realise that until when I was about the insert the lollipop sticks, everything was so disorganised that I ended up taking longer than I should for this step

Chocolate melt or candy melt for coating
You can use either chocolate or candy melt for dipping the cake pops
There are quite a number of options for chocolate melt but so far I have heard good things about Candiquik

I used both
Comparing Candiquik and Wilton candy melt, the former is easier to work with as it is less viscous which make coating easier

To get the different colour, you could either buy the Wilton candy melts which already come in various colours or use white candy melt or white chocolate and add Wilton candy colouring to get the colours you need
I used white Candiquik mix with colouring for purple and Wilton green and yellow candy melt for green and yellow

The consistency of the candy or chocolate melt will determine how good your cake pops look and whether it can withstand close up shots

I screwed this up the first time round
I melted some Wilton green candy melt using double boiling (you can use microwave but have to be careful not to burn it) but it was too thick which made it almost impossible for dipping
In order to thin the melt, it was recommended to add Crisco shortening
I didn’t have that at home so instead, I used olive oil and add in 1 teaspoon at a time and stir till I get the right consistency
It worked and I thought it was a healthier option, again thanks to my friend’s ingenious suggestion
Much more olive oil is used for the Wilton candy melt than for the Candiquik
The trick to easy and flawless coating is in the final consistency of the chocolate or candy melt

It is important that the cake pops are chilled before coating or dipping
The cake pops with its lollipop sticks need to be put in the fridge before the coating is done
This is to set the balls and to make sure that the lollipop sticks are attached firmly
I didn’t do this the first time round and some of my cake pops slipped off from the lollipop sticks and went swimming in the chocolate

Coating the cake pops can be the most difficult part of making cake pops but if you get the right consistency for the melt, it’s a breeze
And because I find that it is so important that you get this right, I had put up an Instagram video on my facebook page for this step


I made these using crushed gold fish for his special friend who is allergic to eggs and nuts

Once the coating is done, let it cool for a couple of minute and you can sprinkle on or stick on your decorations
Use a satay stick dip with black coloruing for drawing of finer details like the eyes, nose and mouth
If your coating hardened before you could put on the decoration, brush the cake pop with some corn starch and decorate away !

It’s good if you can split up the tasks and complete them on different days
Day 1 Bake the Cake
Day 2 Prepare the Dough, Roll the Ball and Insert Lollipop Stick
Day 3 Coat and decorate the cake pops

So there you have it
Tips For Making Cake Pops, from a first timer, much of them I learned from my cake pop guru friend, Dawn
A fellow mom blogger from AJugglingMom shared her recipe and tips for cake pops too

And if you are really interested in getting your hands dirty, hop over to these sites for tutorials, tips and inspirations. Have fun !
Bakerella
Craftsy
Cake Journal
Instructables
A Beuatiful Mess
PopCosmo
LoveFromTheOven

 

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‘Twas One Day Before Halloween

And my little guy turned 4 !
And we had cake pops, monster and lego head kind
I made them for the very first time
He ate a batch with his little friends in school and another batch with some friends over at our place on Halloween day itself


It took me 3 days, from baking, moulding, coating and decorating
It has to be the most well planned birthday cake I have ever baked

And I thought I had learned my lesson to not risk ruining my kids’ birthday party with a failed bake, the kind that made your jaw drop after the birthday song is sang and the cake is cut

Yet the memory was short and it was before long when I plunged into another bottomless pit
and put myself through this whole nerve wrecking, hair pulling, and energy sapping process

And it made me wonder whether he would be any less thrilled or excited if it wasn’t a home baked cake

The answer is probably no but I know this is the kind of thing or pain I would put myself through hoping that I could make the day a little more special, making him feel a little extra special

And the backup plan was cupcakes from Walmart that were selling at 6 bucks for half a dozen
those that would probably put the kids in a sugar rush and high

It probably didn’t make any economical sense to make your own
But you know how being a parent do funny things to you

It turned your world upside down, made you the most powerful yet the most inadequate person who would think and dwell on the simplest and littlest act over and over again
Such as a situation like this might be thought of as a lesson on possibilities when one is willing to try, learn and put in effort

The day came when my little guy gathered with his friends who oooh and ahhh at his oh-so-special birthday cake pops
There he stood, grinning ear to ear, occasionally in a daze, still caught in a surprise, that the day that he had been waiting for has finally arrived

As I juggled with my camera and phone, struggling between taking a video or taking a photo, before I knew it, the song was over
My little guy was given the task of giving out the cake pops which he absolutely loved doing
I guess it made him feel all grown up, like a 4 year old, doing a very important job

And when he finally got his chance to eat his cake pop, I held my breath and watched as he sank his teeth and took his first bite
Within seconds he gobbled everything up and turned to me asking for a second serving
With a purplish grin and icing still stuck between his teeth and happiness written all over his face

I know this face would stay with me for a long time
and it would be this face that will fool me into this whole nerve wrecking, hair pulling and energy sapping process when the next birthday comes

And these cake pops wouldn’t be possible if not for a friend, who is really a guru at making cake pops
She had patiently put up with my endless HOWs and WHYs and cheered me on when I thought I couldn’t make it
She is a SAHM to 2 boys and she makes cake pops for birthday parties from her home
Hop over to Sweet and Savouries by Dawn for a peek into her delectable creation and be inspired !

 

Linking up with AJugglingMom Motivational Mondays

 
 

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