Journey.

So here we are.

12 long months have flown by since I left my job last year in an attempt to seek for more meaningful life. My quest was simple; to be happy and to truly live the life by example for my darling girl.

At first, I felt relieved. I no longer had to drive 45mins long and spend another 30mins trying to find parking space twice a week. There was no more rushing to get to and from, no more anxiety whether I’ll get to the nursery on time, no more guilt if I was doing the right thing by leaving my child in day care when I am not even breaking even and no more restless longing for something better suited and fulfilling.I now had freedom of working for myself.
Finally, the opportunity to dig deep and materialise that long lost dream of designing purposeful clothes was there, right in front of me. (I will tell you more about that another time.)

I was excited, exuberant in fact. With the surge of adrenaline pumping deep and hard, I pushed on with the project. I had no real experience except that I am creative. Sometimes all seemed too easy. Other times I felt completely out of depth. But do it with passion and you will eventually get there, right? So I carried on, desperate to show something. I was quite desperate to be proud of myself for something other than being a mother. Not that being a mother wasn’t enough of accolade itself, but I craved this work thing.
I wanted show myself I still had it in me to do whatever I wanted, like the time when I first came to London at the age of barely 20 with next to non existent English. I was brave, then. No fear, beautiful naivety of youth and driven. I am still quite proud of making this far. But then again, back then, it was all about survival.

But slowly, faced with few challenges along the way, my doubtful mind outweighed my confidence, and came the fear. When the fear takes the control over you, it can become such a powerful darkness. It’s a feeder of all doubts. It felt like the game was over.

The truth is, my approach was little shambolic. Rushed. Not measured enough. Considering I only just managed to get myself out of the thick fog of what I call, post natal identity crisis, to jump into something without having solid foundation, by that I mean mentally, it was always going to crack, at some point.
I had temporarily forgotten this was about self discovery or maybe even a reinvention. And that the answers to who I have become since the birth of Kiki was all in me, somewhere deep inside of me waiting to be uncovered. It was to be explored for the purpose to truly understand what this motherhood has gifted me with.

So I slowed down. Looked no further than me and my surroundings. I wondered if I was feeling the feels. Was I honest of my emotions? Where was my head at right now? I wanted to know me inside out and ground up.

What I realise is that I am often driven by my emotions. Sometimes it takes over everything and I can be blinded and head over heals. I am passionate by nature. I’m a dreamer. I can often be hard on myself, but my glass is always half full. I probably have lived in denial that I was going to shrink back to pre pregnancy weight in a click of fingers. I most definitely didn’t consider drinking couple of glasses of wine every evening since the birth of my child to be a problem. I mean it was just to take the edge off and suitably numb the traumas of relentless mothering and the challenging yet lacklustre daily mundane, if you know what I mean.
But above all, I am not afraid of my emotionally rich soul. And if it needs to be, I can explore the dark place. Suffering to a degree, I think allows me to grow.

You know, knowledge is a power, as they say.
The journey of self discovery has brought me to be fully aware of what was going on and how cluttered my mind was. And I come to conclusion that to be truly happy, I need to accept and surrender to who I am, to nurture my soul and change the bad habits to nourish my body. Self-awareness is a powerful tool that we should all tap into to give ourselves a break; the love and care it deserves.

I now also know, that the vulnerability can be the first positive step towards growth and strength. Baring it all is scary. Truth often speaks so much of painful memories. Over powering emotions are rather consuming. But we are humans. We’re made to feel. We’re complexed. The connection you make with yourself and others, once you’re truly true to yourself is deeply profound and liberating.

So here I am. At last, working everyday to really live the life in the moment, finding joy in small things that every day to day mundane brings me. Fine tuning the art of slow living; the gift that motherhood brought me. The better version of me.

Babagablog0137

Korean Fried Chicken
makes 8 pieces

for the marinade 
4 chicken wings, cut into 8 pieces
2tbsp buttermilk
pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 mild curry powder (optional)
1tbsp mirin

for the batter
2tbsp cornflour
1tbsp plain flour and extra for dusting
1/2tsp baking powder
some sparkling water

for the spicy sauce
2tbsp tomato ketchup
1/2tbsp  korean chilli paste
1/2tbsp soy sauce
1/2tsp English mustard
1/2tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2-1tbsp maple syrup
1tbsp rice vinegar
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
pinch of Korean chilli powder or crushed chilli (optional)

to garnish
handful of toasted peanuts and pumpkin seeds

Koreans do fried chicken really well. Actually I think no one does it better than Koreans, to tell you the truth. It’s the kind of food that is deeply embedded in Korean culture. From young to old, everyone loves a bit of fried chicken. My grandmother had a food stall selling fried chickens. I grew up having this humble morsels straight out from slightly greased paper takeaway box as a treat. Then over a few beers with friends, later on as an adult, while we put the world right.

When made well, the batter is at its lightest. It is often served with pickled cubed mooli or shredded white cabbage salad. Traditionally, they’re fried twice for extra crispness. I am frying mine only once and then oven bake to keep it on the healthier side.

You could make a meal out of it if you bulk it up with some sweet potato wedges and served it with coleslaw salad and/or some pickles. I do think the sour comes from pickled mooli really cuts through the dish and balances the flavour.

First of all, to marinade chicken, mix all ingredients in a bowl or plastic bag and give them a good massage. Leave them in the fridge preferably over night but couple of hours will also do fine.
Use of buttermilk makes the chicken extra tender and it gets rid of smell. You could use yogurt or milk instead if you wish. I cut the wings in half to make them smaller but you could use any other preferred joints. Just be mindful of cooking time.

When ready to fry, drain the chicken pieces and dust them with little flour. Put them into a large bowl. Coat them well with dry batter ingredients. Add the sparkling water to loosen the mixture ever so slightly. The batter should be still fairly thin but not runny. Add more cornflour or water if necessary to get the right consistency. You could use beer instead if you wish.

Fry the chicken pieces in hot oil and place them on kitchen towel to drain excess fat. The aim is to get the coatings nice and light golden. Be careful while frying as it might splatter or spit.
Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Line the baking tray with grease proof paper and bake the chicken for 25mins or so until cooked thoroughly, golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, place all spicy sauce ingredients into small sauce pan. Bring it up to boil then gently simmer until slightly sticky. You may want to add a splash of water. Taste and balance the sweet, sour and hot to your liking. It shouldn’t be too hot. Spicy kick with sweet and sour is what I look for.

When chickens are cooked, coat them generously with sauce and chosen garnish.

Hope you enjoy.

Babagablog0164

Life truly is a journey, isn’t it?
So I’m going to take it slow and savour this delicious moments I get to create with my tribe.

a good helping hand.

When my mum rang me and asked if Toby and I would be able to put someone up in our spare bedroom, I hesitated.

Our spare bedroom was a tip. 
It was like a complete landfill stuffed with absolutely everything that had no use in anywhere else in our little flat, and to describe it as one could not even put a foot in it, was an understatement. 
We had already planned to do a car boot sale in an attempt to dispose some of the I-don’t-know-where-this-belongs sort of useful stuffs, and to raise some much needed extra cash for those all things luxury that you may put it in your wish list on one of your favourite posh home goody sites. Consequently, to have somebody in that spare bedroom was neither imaginable nor convenient for us.
Our flat isn’t small but very open plan. It does not have the ability to allow much of private space and too much of unexpected traffics up and down our narrow hall way or a bathroom will easily cause a jam. Any noise you will make, you will hear and any mess you make, you’ll see.
We were still in the middle of our home renovation that never seemed to be kind enough to show us the end and I really didn’t think it was doable.

To cut a long story short, after giving some thought to the subject matter, I remembered how tough it was when I first started off in this country all those years ago. Toby weighed out positives and negatives of the raised issue as he does and we both decided that we will put a roof over his head for a week because it is nice to be able to help out.

You see, the problem of this doing someone a favour, is often not everybody thinks the same way as you and not everyone is custom to function the way you do. And the compromise you have to make is much more than you’d ever anticipate.
I didn’t like it when the toilet seat wasn’t put down. I didn’t find it amusing to discover lumps of cut or shaved hair blocking my bath. Seeing him doing the washing up, I was nervous for him and hoped he doesn’t drop the plate and crack the sink because it would be embarrassing and awkward for all of us.
As much as I appreciated that he had all the good intentions to make sure that he does not interfere with our usual living and for sure, he did try to show his gratitude towards my cooking with many washing ups, I still found it very hard when things weren’t quite how I would usually find.
And do you know what, I am sure it was pretty hard for him, too. As much as I did my best to offer him a home comfort and a good support, my honest opinions and my what you see is what you get sort of approach in expressing likes and dislikes aren’t always the easiest things to put up with.

I think it was quite tricky because we were making compromises of our very personal space. 
Admittedly, I suppose it didn’t help that I have mild OCD. It definitely didn’t help that I prefer things to be just so. Oh, come on, it took Toby over eight and a half years to master the art of living with me! Yes, I know, poor boy.
I knew it was going to be a bit uncomfortable but didn’t really realise the scale of it all.
I guess we don’t often have to allow other people to enter our private spaces except your own family.
And I suppose, with family, perhaps we generate natural ability to accept and welcome the differences.

But you know what, the funnest thing was, and this is to my surprise, when he left eventually after finding the sanctuary of his own that he can call home for the next 10 months of his stay in London, I felt a bit sad. 
Our little flat seemed so big and so empty. I could almost picture the spot he used to stand and the stuff he used to do in his funny little odd way. 
I think I kind of enjoyed his company to an extent. I think it sort of felt good knowing that I was looking after someone, making a good use of my little self.

Anyway, talking about family, I wanted to share our holiday photos from Bordeaux.
Toby’s dad and step mum kindly invited to us to this beautiful farmhouse in Chateau Bauduc, which is run by Gavin and Angela. 
The house is very spacious and well looked after, provided with everything you need. It has perfectly functioning kitchen and a smashing barbecue for you to cook up some amazing fresh produce from the local food market. 
Gavin’s passion and exceptional knowledge in wine, and Angela’s kind and caring personality really makes this place special. Obviously there’s always plenty of good wine to be consumed, too.

I’d highly recommend it.


Plum and Apple Crumble with proper English custard
serves generously for 6

for the crumble900g mixture of plum and apple, roughly chopped
100g plain flour
50g ground almond
25g almond shavings
125g butter, cubed and at room temperature
70g demerara sugar + 1tbsp
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove (optional)
handful of porridge oats

for the custard
250ml full fat milk
250ml fresh double cream
4 egg yokes
3tbsp caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, seed scraped and pod kept

Our amazing little niece R, was one of the best highlight of our holiday in Bordeaux and my little helper loves cooking and baking. Although she has to stand up on the chair and make an effort to carefully balance herself not to fall, she really enjoyed the process of making this crumble.
I couldn’t help myself feeling all warm and fuzzy watching R baking for all of us with her little fingers.

This crumble recipe originally comes from the article in Guardian ‘How to make perfect crumble’. I have fiddled around a little and although original recipe states it serves 4, I found it is enough for 6, quite easily.

First of all, make your crumbly toppings. Put flour, ground almond, ground cinnamon and butter into a large bowl and rub them until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar except 1tbsp which is for your fruit mixture. Let it cool in the fridge for few mins.

Into your baking dish, put your fruit mixture along with 1tbsp sugar and clove if using. Place the crumble topping on top of the fruit and gently fork them to break them up a little bit.
Sprinkle with some porridge oats and almond shavings.
Bake them for 35mins or until golden at 200º.

For the custard, I swear by Jamie Oliver’s recipe. It always worked wonderfully and tastes really good. If you find it difficult to source double cream, just use 500ml full fat milk.

Start by putting milk, cream, vanilla seed, pod and 2tbsp sugar into the small sauce pan and warm them up over medium to low heat. Make sure not to boil them.
When the bubble starts to surface up, take it off the heat and let it cool down a little to infuse the vanilla flavour.

Whisk the egg yokes with 1tbsp sugar until pale and fluffy.

Take the vanilla pod out from the cream mixture. Slowly add the ladleful of the cream mixture into the eggs while continuously whisking. You only want to add the ladleful each time. If you pour it all at once because you can’t be patient, the high temperature of the cream will make the eggs curdle. So spend your time.
Once all cream mixture is added to the egg yokes, put them back into the sauce pan and cook them gently over the medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard lightly coats the back of the wooden spoon.
When it is ready, sieve it through and serve warm with your crumble.


This is an ultimate comfort food that deserves a gold medal.

After a week turned into 11 days of eventful experience with our lodger, I received an email from him. Named to both Toby and I, he thanked us for taking a good care of him.


I’m glad we all did mean well.