Friday, July 18, 2008

Fun weekend with siblings (or an attempt to pass down the so-called feminine arts...)

(Have been meaning to upload the below photos which were taken last weekend. Funny how both ReadandEat and LCL also shared baking fun with their family last weekend - I daren't leave a comment though on R&E's blog because I took the shortest of short cuts in my baking, which is very far from the idyllic pick-your-own-berries pie-making that R&E did.)

My little sister and little brother slept over at my place last weekend (and this weekend, they are heading off to Barcelona for a week-long holiday with my parents, lucky brats!). By now they learnt the hard way that they have to bring their own entertainment with them when they come over, since I don't have Playstation or Nintendo or any sort of video games at all in my apartment, my desktop is strictly off limits to them and worse, I don't even subscribe to the cartoon channels on Sky (jeez, what a bore I am compared to kids' expectations of a good time these days).

What I do have however are board games (Scrabble, Cranium) and good old fashion games like Jenga blocks and cards. Thankfully, I did manage to instill in them from an extremely early age a love of these altogether unplugged children's games also (my little sister is now a master of the Chinese marbles game and now more often than not beats me at what I considered to be my forte, while my little brother actually begs people to play the Chinese flying board game with him since he's addicted to it - incredible as that may sound for a kid in this day and age, and the two of them are both avid player of Monopoly). So they brought with them a new version of Cluedo that they got as a pressie from a family friend and proceeded to teach me how to play it. Of course, they also brought along their PSPs just in case.

But what they were really looking forward to, they said, was to actually bake something, anything. I think they were hooked on the idea when they found out that the cakes and other baked goods I made for them before were, contrary to much else perhaps, actually edible, and really wanted to see for themselves how I actually managed it - you know, just in case I just bought something from a shop and pretended that they were mine, har-de-har-har. Even my mother wanted to find out how to make the mini quiches I gave them a good few months ago. I guess baking is a novelty to my family since we don't have a tradition of using the oven at home except for roasting turkey for Christmas.

So, after playing the new version of Cluedo (which, by the way, is a travesty of the game as it doesn't really exercise the brain since you are not required to formulate questions yourself to get the clues, instead everything is handed to you and all you needed to do was to roll the dice - it really is not a patch on the classic version, but I will concede that it is an easier version to get kids' heads around the idea of the game) as well as Scrabble, I decided to bake some scones so that we would have that for breakfast the next morning. I pre-heated the oven and got my little sister and brother to help set out the things that we would need for baking (measuring jug, baking tray, flour, sieve, milk, butter, etc.). Alas, when my little brother poured the milk into the Pyrex jug, we discovered that the milk has gone off even though there was almost a week before the stated expiration date. So my dad had to specially come over and drop us a pint of milk when he finished work (as it was too late for us to get milk from the nearest newsagent then) late in the evening. By then it was 11pm and it was time to bed.

The next morning - a Sunday - turned out to be a gorgeous day. They got up all eager and enthusiastic about being able to taste scones fresh from the oven for their breakfast. So we set out to work, my little sister putting on my pink-and-white stripy Avoca apron and my little brother in an old t-shirt of mine. As we were keen to eat soon, instead of doing it the proper way (the long way), I cheated and used the quick scone mix that I had in my store cupboard, which had all the ingredients pre-mixed, including the raisins. None of us are fans of having raisins in our scones so my little brother helped sieve out the raisins before measuring in the milk and my little sister helped turned them into a dough with a wooden spoon. Then I sprinkled flour onto my glass dining table (the only surface big enough for us to roll out the dough because I have extremely limited worktop space in my kitchen) as well as onto the pre-heated baking tray, and finally, we could let the fun begin!

I have a whole collection of Nigella Lawson cookie cutters as well as a range of heart-shaped ones I got from Debenhams. So after rolling out the dough onto the floured surface, my little sister and little brother had a great time picking out stars and hearts and numbers and making their own unique scones. We used up the whole bag and bunged everything into the oven, and fifteen minutes later (time used for preparing the traditional big breakfast fry-up so that we had a proper Sunday brunch, while my siblings helped clean up the floury mess), here are some of the fruits of our labour:

The numbers turned out great, though perhaps not so much the hearts. I only realised via this exercise that 5 is apparently my little brother's lucky number.

When you opened up the heart-shaped scones and then add butter and raspberry jam, they do look like proper hearts :)

As we used up all the dough, there are plenty of these miniature cute shaped scones left over for my siblings to take home to my parents.

But of course there's always the cleaning to do at the end...

Another thing about this sleepover weekend: I finally got some time to properly teach my little sister how to wax her legs using Veet's wax strips (they have a version for sensitive skin which is really good). When she was very little - I guessed she was around five or six at the time - she once saw me shave my legs and then, horror of horrors, when I went to College one day she took it upon herself to shave her own bare legs with my razor and actually cut herself so badly that she had to have a huge plaster around her leg for weeks.... My parents obviously gave me a really hard time about it which I totally deserved, and thank goodness my little sister didn't scar her leg for life. But she was scared off razors for life (which was not a bad thing actually, come to think of it, but again it's all my fault). Thankfully female hygiene technology has improved so much that home waxing is no longer the absolute nightmare that it was before (I still remember the first time I tried a home waxing kit in my dorm room, having to wait for the wax to heat up using hot water from the tap in the en suite shower room as I didn't have my own kettle, which meant I had to keep refilling the hot water as it got cool rather quickly; then trying to apply the sticky goo willynilly with a spatula quickly before the wax cooled, perching gingerly on the bed as the shower room was too tiny to manoevure and everything was an absolute mess). The modern disposable wax strips in comparison are simple, easy to use, leaves no mess and there's no washing necessary afterwards. On top of that, it doesn't sting that much and obviously there's no danger of my little sister accidentally cutting herself anymore. And the best thing is, the hair will get finer and finer over time with waxing, so there's no danger of so-called "leg stubble" that one will have with shaving (yes, this is the danger that we female of the species have to contend with these days, imagine that! Or rather, don't imagine).

But then my little sister said that her best friend was being taught by her elder sister how to pluck eyebrows... hmmm, okay, that will be the lesson for another time then... (if only we indeed have the eyebrow-threading clinics like ReadandEat experienced in the States!). Oh, the fate of us females even in this post-feminist age of the pressure to be well versed in the arts of handling a kitchen and being presentable in the living room!

I cannot believe that my little sister is all grown up... Although I'm rueful over the fact that my little sister is not a kid anymore, I'm rather enjoying this new phase of our sibling relationship. I used to envy my cousins who are an all-girl-bunch, who get to share all the girlie stuff growing up, whereas I had to put up with my younger brother and engaged in endless physical battles with him (gosh our fights were legendary and I still have the scars to prove it!). Now I finally get the chance to do girlie stuff with my little sister, and I'm really relishing this opportunity to be her so-called guide - at least until she's wise up enough to challenge my rather flimsy authority on matters of make-up and fashion... but I'm dreading the inevitable subject of boys which will quickly follow any time now...

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At Sat Jul 19, 12:50:00 a.m. IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful time together. I wish I'd had an older sister like you when I was growing up.

At Sat Jul 19, 12:53:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

That reminded me of "Little Women" the Hong Kong version long long time ago. No, I know that has nothing to do with what you did but I don't know, it just came to me.

Once upon a time, I took my Dad's razor and I cut my chin. It was stupid I didn't even have any beard. Back then those blades were not that safe. Today, I think it's much harder to cut yourself.

Whenever I need to clean anything greasy or buttery, I much prefer to wipe them down with a paper towel first, with the oily stuff gone it's much easier to clean with detergent.

Scone is so British, am I right? Oh, I just looked it up, it says Scottish. I imagine (you?) eating scone while holding a cup of tea with the pinky sticking out in the air ....

NYC is hot and humid today.

At Tue Jul 22, 06:41:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Sincere apologies Julie and LCL for my delay in replying...

Julie: Thank you so much for such kind words... It's really touching for me to hear that you consider me as a good example of an older sister, because actually for a long time I felt really guilty about inadvertently causing my little sister to cut herself and I was just lucky that there was no harm done in the end... Rather, I think Jaylene is a really lovely example of a big sister :) There's such a sense of playful joy between her and little Jayden, all captured wonderfully by your camera, and it's all a big credit to you for creating such a fun atmosphere in the home :)

LCL: I've tried to google "Little Women the Hong Kong version" but failed to find out what it is (though I did only just looked at the first Google page). Is it meant to be a movie or book or some kind of TV show?

I feel less guilty now actually now that I learn you also did the same thing my little sister did by just watching the grooming rituals of a family member. Back in my College days the razors for women were not that sophisticated and they actually could cause a nick quite easily if one wasn't careful. I should have the foresignt to put away anything potentially dangerous under lock and key rather than just left it with the rest of my "feminine stuff"... oh well, we live and learn.

Em, Scotland IS part of Britain, so Scottish is also British ;P Anyway, we had mugs of tea that day so there was no question of raising your pinky while holding it!

At Tue Jul 22, 08:15:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

Little Women that was so long ago. I think you weren't even born. It was adapted to be a TVB drama starring a female ensemble cast. I was at primary school. I am sure you were even born.

You know I actually noticed what I wrote about the Scotland part. I Googled that in the middle of the sentence and it says Scottish and I didn't bother to change the whole sentence now it made me more of an idiot than I already am. You know I actually visited Scotland before ... (I know it's not going to help, but I try.)

I have a straight edge razor at home, and I told Alex not to touch it. Straight edge cuts very bad, even I cut myself with it, but then again I am such an idiot.

At Fri Aug 29, 09:15:00 a.m. IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel less guilty now actually now that I learn you also did the same thing my little sister did by just watching the grooming rituals of a family member. Back in my College days the razors for women were not that sophisticated and they actually could cause a nick quite easily if one wasn't careful. I should have the foresignt to put away anything potentially dangerous under lock and key rather than just left it with the rest of my "feminine stuff"... oh well, we live and learn.


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