September 28, 2016

A Weekend in Drenthe

Last month we had our very first weekend getaway hosted by my in-laws with our entire tribe which saw us heading northeast to Drenthe. 

By ‘entire’ and ‘tribe’, I mean every single one of us within our immediate family circle:both of Silver Bullet’s parents, us four and along with Silver Bullet’s brother plus his girlfriend. 

Just like my  own immediate family, our tribe is small and cosy. I think it’s great! Especially so with our kids being truly blessed to still have both sets of healthy grandparents to spoil them. 

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Drenthe is about a 2-hour drive from where we live. It is known for its agriculture and unlike many other parts of Holland, it is rural and sparsely populated.  Here’s an interesting fact: It ranked 9th in terms of being a large province but with no known rivers or lakes.

We were there 3 years ago and I remember it as a quaint little village all packed with its own unique charm.  I also remember that during our stay (at a different place altogether), we had driven to Emmen (a 20-minute drive from Drenthe) and had a walkabout there.

This time, we came to a different zoo that was reopened earlier this year at another location.It was renamed Wildlands Adventure Zoo Emmen as they had closed down the former Dierenpark Emmen due to financial difficulties. This new zoo was not as exciting and overall, a big disappointment despite some interesting exhibits. Perhaps they just need a little time to pick itself up to being an awesome place once again. 

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Just a few days in Drenthe did not give us much room for more exploration but having discovered that Kamp Westerbork was located a mere 10 minutes away from where we stayed, we just had to get our asses there (without kids!) before we head home.

Visiting Westerbork Transit Camp was a sombre visit. During World War II, Kamp Westerbork was used as a refugee, detention and transit camp that assembled Romani and Dutch Jews before being transported to other Nazi concentration camps. 

Some original buildings – potato bunker, hidden SS bunker and a new water treatment plant had remained standing,  but most had vanished and very little of it had left. It was refurbished as a monument to symbolically represent history, with a primary purpose of honouring it as a historic site for education.

It was ironic that this camp was erected by Dutch government and financed by Dutch Jews themselves to house those fleeing from Nazi Germany only to end up as a macabre stop-over before their final destination to face death. 

As I walked around, I was consumed by it all. Each monument tells a story…or held stories untold.

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That track caught me hard.  Each element is symbolic of what happened during that war…of dismay, of despair (curled up rails),  of bewilderment, of an extent of destruction (railway sleepers). A spot where railroad from Hooghalen to this camp terminated…that one train that came to a standstill in front of a buffer.

Another end: a wall of boulders from surrounding areas have been stuck together with strong binding materials resembling skulls. 

Then, there are these 102,000 Stones arranged uniformly within a map of Holland:

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They were most spine-chilling; amongst hundred of thousands who got deported, 102,000 did not return. They represent how many people were murdered and to emphasise individual people: 102,000 times a mother, a father, a son , a daughter, a brother, a sister…

There is a Star of David to represent Dutch Jews on top of each stone, 213 of them have a flame on top to represent Gypsies and 100 have no symbol to represent the resistance fighters imprisoned here before being deported and murdered. References extracted from Kampwesterbork NL and Wikipedia 

I can’t help but wonder how just one person could single-handedly create such chaos WITH millions of human race supporting him and his crazy cause. How could anyone get so much power? Where is humanity?

Such a dark history of humankind; it gives me lots of shudders. Haunting.

We left Westerbork feeling sunken…and drained. It felt like my entire energy was sucked out good. And as we continued on with our way, my thoughts lingered on to current warfares which really, isn’t dissimilar if you think about it. Scariest thing is,  I’m afraid this insanity for power and supremacy will continue to undermine humanity of a so-called modern world.

With that, we have reached the end of  Stomper Dad’s Taboo Challenge  without using the words “BE” and “THE” ; possibly the hardest words of all! Thank you, Eric, for creating and hosting for I have enjoyed this immensely! Now, let’s check out other bloggers who were also having lots of fun with this Taboo challenge as well! 

TWC

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September 26, 2016

A Rare Alignment

Category: Cats

Having lived with cats almost all of my life, I would not know what it would be like NOT living with one. Or two. Or three. Three being the most number of cats we’ve had and that was only in the last 9 years.

No, we do not intend for any more of them. Cats (AND kids). Yes, I am very sure. Plus, the 3rd cat we have had been an accident. Yes, that very cat also fondly known as Fudge.

While our 3 cats may not necessarily like each other and/or the kids, they all have silently pledged with an agreement that we shall peacefully co-exist. They mostly tolerate each other (and the kids).They’ve got us acclimatised with their presence even though they may not necessarily be seen for hours since they spend most of their time sleeping in their favourite hide-outs.

Cats are funny creatures with their own little quirks. Sometimes we don’t see them around and being indoor cats, we KNOW they are at home. Somewhere. Somehow, they just choose a no-show. 

Sometimes, they follow us around and are constantly hot on our heels. So much so that if we don’t pay attention, we could accidentally trip up on them and we’ll be the ones with broken necks. Even when we do pay attention, they would decide with a jump dead right in our tracks, threatening us with a broken neck. 

Sometimes, they just meow at us for no reason. Or chide us with a stern WTF meow when we sneezed our heads off. 

Sometimes, one of them would bring us toys. Or catch imaginary (or real) flies. Or lizards. Or roaches. But when there are real flies/lizards/roaches, they may just decide on a staring competition, do nothing, yawn, stretch and carry on as is. WTF right?

You never know with cats. They do whatever the fuck they want and they get away with it.Bloody annoying.

Then they purr like engines on steroids and snuggle up which they don’t normally do. Making mortal humans like us melt. Bloody annoying.

These cats, they have their allegiance. Unwritten rules exist between them. And because of  that along with their individual dynamics with one or the other cats, no matter what the circumstances are (unless we dump them all in one carrier),  we could never get 3 cats together, at one place, all at the same time. That would be inviting a trouble.

Then every once in a blue moon, the strangest thing happened: 

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A rare sighting

 

That at the least unexpected moment and with no camera in your hand  in that particular instance when you would usually have your phone with you but not at the time which you needed it,  you faced an image that you know will not possibly last another second. You then swiftly tiptoed, gently retrieving your phone while you hope they all stay in position for just 3 seconds longer.

It was one of those precious but rare moments – that when you look up at the stairs and the cats are perfectly aligned. Pun intended.

High above everyone. Looking over you like guardian angels. Purposeful. And you wonder if they know something that you don’t. Almost creepy. 

Just as quickly, one of them broke out of the form as if awaken from her state of meditation.  They dispersed just right after you tapped the snap button. And all you got was an out of focus picture.

The next cycle for a clearer sighting, unfortunately, cannot be determined. 

This post is in conjunction with Stomper Dad’s Taboo Challenge  by not using the words  “TO”  for today. Join in the fun and add your link to take part in the challenge

TWC

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September 25, 2016

Sunday Humour: When the Boss Says…

Category: Entertainment
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Image Credit: Google Image

The boss is right there and I second the employee’s decision! Talk about interpretation, eh. Wonder how many out there would actually do this? Heeheh!

Here’s gearing up for some good and wonderful days for the week!

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September 25, 2016

A Re-Blog: Meet & Greet…Hypervigilant Style

Category: Blogging

It’s been exactly 7 days (overdue) since this Meet & Greet happened. It is one of the most interesting Meet & Greet I’ve ever come across and I only saw it 4 days ago. Regrettably, since reading it, I have not been able to re-blog this sooner as I haven’t been able to get to my laptop very much.

Until today. Now. One of the rare days where I double-post on the same day. 

So while this may have been a little overdue and if the party is over, I believe it’s worth reviving.

That’s because this is not just another meet and greet. It’s a special party hosted by Casey over at Hypervigilant.org. as Casey has committed to donate a dollar* to Compassion International, a fabulous organisation committed to child development and rescuing kids from poverty for every comment she gets. 

For such a noble cause, I reckon this needs to be reblogged and revived!

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“Ooooooh, you were right. I DO like her!”                                                                                “Dude. I said you could MEET her. Hands off.”

Photo by Peter Nijenhuis

We’ve all seen (and occasionally participated in) a Meet & Greet post. You know, “drop your link in the comments and maybe someone will click.”

Instead of posting a hit-or-miss link, let’s change it up. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: 

1. Describe your blog in nine words or less.

2. Paste a link to a post you’re proud of writing. Bonus points for adoption, mental health or parenting themes*

View original post

 

Casey writes about her personal experience and thoughts from adult adoptees (some of the best resources EVER for figuring out how to help kids). She also aims to share the truth about adoption with an honest picture of their wins and mishaps. She also writes a little fiction on the side.

So, if you are done dropping your links, re-blogging, re-tweeting and visiting other party-goers, do check out Casey’s other posts too!

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September 23, 2016

Fabulous Friday Flavour: Japanese Cotton-Soft Cheesecake

My eyes have been wandering…to the nooks with crannies in fuelling my addiction to pinterest.

It’s a great place to discover recipes. With great food photos, one is very easily distracted, not to mention tempted!My recent discovery has been the very light cheesecake – somewhat a cross between sponge cake, a souffle as well as a pound cake. If that even makes sense.

Anyhoooo…because I usually find the traditional cheesecakes too heavy, I haven’t had the desire to make them for a while. So, I thought this would be a good alternative to try out. From double boiling to whisking egg whites, then ever so gently folding it into a batter…

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Double Boiling
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The best part: Whisking egg whites
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Fresh from the oven!
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Slicing them up ever so gently

There’s really something about that which brings me such satisfaction. I absolutely love whisking egg whites process when those egg whites start forming soft peaks – the main reason why this cheesecake turned out fluffy…pillowy…cottony soft! It’s not perfect, but I’m satisfied.

Why is it called “Japanese Cheesecake” though,I haven’t got a clue. I supposed that’s where this cake originated from (or not).

Honestly, I would not have the balls to try out this fluffy thingie had I not stumbled upon Jeannie’s Blog for the recipe along with the various experiments she has done with the different temperatures for that perfect cake. Thank you, Jeannie!

Japanese Cotton-Soft Cheesecake
Serves 6
A lighter version of Cheesecake with airy meengue folded gently into the batter resulting in pillowy, cottony soft cheesecake to die for!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
47 min
Total Time
1 hr 7 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
47 min
Total Time
1 hr 7 min
Ingredients
  1. 125g cream cheese (I used a generic brand found in local supermarket here)
  2. 3 eggs, separate yolks, whites
  3. 35g super fine (or castor) sugar
  4. 30g unsalted butter
  5. 50g low fat milk, cold (you can also use full cream milk)
  6. 2 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
  7. 30g flour, sifted
  8. 10g corn flour, sifted
  9. Salt (slightly more than a pinch)
  10. 2 tspn vanilla extract
  11. Half tspn potassium acid tartrate**
  12. 35g superfine (or castor) sugar
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degree celsius. It is recommended that you use top and bottom heat without the fan.
  2. Line the bottom of a 6-7 inch (I used 7 inch) round cake pan with wax paper. Grease the sides with baking spray. Set aside
  3. On a heated stove, prepare a double boiler (water in a pan over heat with a bowl over the pan. Make sure the bowl is steady)
  4. Put the butter, cheese, sugar into the double boiler. Use a hand whisk to whisk till all is soft; making sure the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Set aside
  5. Add in the cold milk. Whisk everything together
  6. Then add in the yolk, one at a time. Make sure the mixture is cool enough as you would not want a scrambled egg yolk in the mixture
  7. Whisk until smooth then add vanilla, salt, lemon juice. Whisk again
  8. With the same whisk, fold both corn and regular flour into the mixture till fully combined. Set aside
  9. in a separate bowl with a whisking machine, whisk the whites at low speed till foamy. Make sure the bowl is clean and dry
  10. Add potassium acid tartrate** Whisk at high speed. When the bubbles appear smallish, gradually add in sugar
  11. Whisk the mixture till it forms a soft peak
  12. Still using the same whisk, gently fold the whites into the batter prepared earlier with one-third portion at a time.
  13. With the last third of whites, switch the hand whisk to a plastic spatula. Continue to gently fold in till smooth
  14. Pour the batter into the round pan prepared earlier. Tap the pan to release the bubbles (I dropped the pan from a height of 3-5 cm)
  15. Prepare a water bath for your round pan. Bake for 17 minutes at 200 degree celsius then reduce the temperature to 135 degree celsius for another 30 minutes till the top gets brown.
  16. Switch off the oven. Leave the cake inside the oven for about 15-20 minutes
  17. Remove from the oven.Wait for a few minutes if the cake has not pulled away from the pan
  18. Otherwise, use a thin spatula to ensure that the cake has pulled away from all sides. Remove from the mould. Invert to peel off the paper from the pan
  19. Then invert it back to cool
  20. Cut the cake with a serrated knife. Serve!
Notes
  1. Temperatures, timing need to be adjusted to your own oven. The temperatures which I have used above worked well for a big oven.
  2. ** You just need to be careful that the water from the water bath does not get into the tray (when using the detachable type) or the cake gets really soggy!
Adapted from Jeannietay's Blog
Adapted from Jeannietay's Blog
Grubbs n Critters http://grubbsncritters.com/

Now, come follow me to #FiestaFriday as I share this fluffy baby with some friends over there.

This post is in conjunction with Stomper Dad’s Taboo Challenge  by not using the words  “AND” and  “OF”  for today.This was hard! How does one write a recipe without these 2 crucial words? Especially when I have potassium acid tartrate as an ingredient and I cannot mention it in its easiest form known to human! Join in the fun as well and add your link to take part in the challenge

 

TWC

**WTF is potassium acid tartrate

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