Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello eHomemakers..!!!

       Sewing is my passion. I found my real hobby just after my marriage. My mother was a sewing and crocheting artist. She used to teach crocheting and sewing clothes.

       Watching her amazing works, I developed similar interests ever since. Years passed by. In 2008, I went to further my studies in USM, Penang and set up a small kiosk that catered specifically to the students.

       It was named ‘Balqis House’. I spent my mornings studying and in the evening I baked bread and other homemade food to sell. I put a lot of effort to nurture my business. After I got married in 2009, I regained my passion in needle crafting and I began to develop an interest in sharing my passion and skills with other women.
       I worked for 2 years after I graduated but I realized then that my job was not fulfilling enough for me. I finally made up my mind to resign and started my needle crafting business under Balqis House. 

       I came across ehomemakers and I found motivating stories of women’s success. From that moment, I found my true self working at home by teaching needle crafting to people.
       Thus in 2011, I officially changed my website to fully art, craft and sewing web oriented. Besides receiving orders from customers, I am also active in giving handcraft and sewing lessons.

       I am very happy when I can help a lot of people through my free class program and TEKUN program to help women in need. A few of my customers have benefited from these programs. One has moved back to Indonesia and set up her own business there. Another one has set up a sewing service center in Kuala Kangsar and another one also began a sewing center in Puncak Alam.

        In 2012, I feel overwhelmed when eWA (e-Usahawan Wanita Malaysia), WENA (Association of Bumiputra Women Entrepreneur Network of Malaysia), and some of NGO organizations invited me to coorperate with them.

        To me, it is such a warm welcome to Balqis House to introduce my classes and charity projects. Classes include quilting and patchwork, sewing projects, crochet, beading, and ‘hantaran’ arrangement.

      A profuse thanks to ehomemakers for giving me the opportunity to write in this blog. Hopefully, my experience could be shared and benefited by all readers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grass Greener On The Other Side?

People in general always want what they don't have. And in a way, I'm no different. As a dialysis patient, I had to have surgery on my left arm to insert a fistula, which in layman's terms means that one of my main arteries in my left arm is 'joined' to a main vein in my left arm to my heart so that through this, the dialysis machine can get to circulate my blood to clean it. I'm sorry I can't explain any better, but that's the gist of it.

       This surgery has left a very obvious and ugly scar on my upper left arm. As a result, I can't wear anything sleeveless anymore because it's way ugly. Neither can I wear halter necks, spaghetti straps or anything  shoulder-less.

       So, when I see an attractive woman with a halter-neck dress or blouse, for instance, I can't help longing to wear something similar but I never can now because my scars are just too obvious.
       I also find myself longing for the kind of life I'll probably never have now. A life of international travel, being a hot-shot executive, having a five figure a month income, well, you get the picture.

       Now that I have a fixed dialysis schedule, I'm finding it harder and harder to find a job. This is because I can only work part-time because 3 afternoons a week, I have to go for my treatments.

       To an average employer in this country, that means taking half-day leave for 3 days a week, or having MCs (Medical Leave) 2 afternoons  a week and that is unacceptable. Added to the fact that there are many fresh grads out there, with normal bodies that can work full-time, so, my chances of landing a job are even slimmer than before.

       I do have some assistance to pay for my treatments, which isn't cheap. I also have a very small disability pension but that doesn't include my meds and injections. Meager as my income is, I still have to bear the costs of my medication and hormonal injections myself.

       These injections encourage my body to produce red blood cells, a function usually carried out by my kidneys. Since my kidneys aren't working, I need 4 jabs a week to make enough red blood cells.

        As you can imagine, I still live with my parents. How can I not? I can't work normal hours and I only have a pittance to live on. Of course I know some people who have it worse than me.

        They don't even have a pension (little as it is in my case), and they don't have parents who'll take them in because their parents have already passed on, they may have little children dependent on them. Yes, I know, I have to count my blessings.

        But it's still hard to deal with sometimes. Especially when you're surrounded by wealthy neighbors and you know your ex-classmates are doing much better than you are. But you know what?

        Dwelling on these things will only depress you. I can only live my life one day at a time. I've started sending short stories to publishers. I hope to be able to generate enough income through my writing soon.

        This blog of mine is for me to get into the habit of writing so I can write something publishable someday. Other than that, I've decided to sell my cross-stitch pieces here :

         I'm always cross-stitching something or other. Except these days, I'm more busy reading. I've read that the more good books you read, the more it'll rub off on you, and you indirectly become a better writer.

         I am just a mere mortal woman. I can only do my best to get through life despite my limitations. I know some people are more capable than me but you can only play with the cards you're dealt with.

         Self-pity will only make things worse. It will eat you up inside. So, I can only trust God and live my life one day at time. I know that there are some things I can never do, now that I'm on dialysis.

         Why not a kidney transplant? If only it were that simple! As I've mentioned in my previous blog, in this country, if you've gone through a successful kidney transplant, you will be considered a 'normal' person and all financial aids will stop. And a transplant is not the be all and end all.

         You still have to spend an obscene amount of money on anti-rejection drugs. Nope! I know some people will opt of a transplant but I'm content the way I am.

         At least I'm getting some financial aid. And I now have time to indulge in writing. I really hope to be a published author someday............

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Kitchen Juggler: Classic Mini Pavlova

       After contemplating whether to use up the leftover egg whites either for a pudding or any cookie-like dessert, I finally settled for the latter. Why? Because this recipe is super easy and the last piece is normally fought over. So I can be sure that none will be wasted.

       This is one recipe I have been using to make either a gooey or crispy-dry mini pavlovas. Baking in a very high temperature in a short time will produce pavlovas that are moist, gooey and sticky on the inside.

       On the other hand, low-medium temperature and longer time are needed to produce dry and crispy pavlovas. However, if you oven is pretty dodgy (like mine sometimes) I suggest that you watch the pavlovas closely while they bake. 

       What you need are 3 egg whites, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of  cornflour, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 3/4 cup of caster sugar. Since I'm making dry mini pavlovas, I'm going to set the oven at a low-medium heat (140C).

       Prior to beating the egg whites, ensure that your bowl is grease proof because even a slight trace of oil or yolk will ruin the meringue.

       The egg whites and salt should be beaten together until soft peak form. Then, add the caster sugar gradually, still beating well at this point. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.

       Meanwhile, mix together the granulated sugar, lemon juice and cornflour before lightly folding it into the meringue. Using a large wooden spoon, make large dollops on a prepared tray lined with parchment paper or silpat. Leave enough space between the pieces. 

       Bake for 30-40 minutes, let cool in the oven for the next 20 minutes. Once cool, you can slice it, fill some whip cream in between with some fresh strawberries.

       Store them in an airtight container if you're serving them much later. Happy baking!