surprise birthday bali trip for my mom!

This year, all the children (including the plus ones) decided that for my mom’s birthday this year, we will take her to bali! This surprise has been a long one coming since we conceptualized the idea more than a year ago. We had wild ideas for this surprise and had planned to secretly pack my mom’s suitcase and drive her straight to the airport. In the end, we decided to tell her during yet another surprise – home-cooked breakfast. We whipped up a complete breakfast with ham and cheese savory crepes and sweet crepes with blackberries, strawberries and banana. Unfortunately, Jon couldn’t take leave and therefore couldn’t join us for breakfast so the night before, he scripted and recorded this ridiculous video of himself and Jane as his “apprentice” to lead my mom to find Joy, where he had wrapped a paper around Joy’s collar with his Happy Birthday message. While there were many pictures taken of the morning, I’ll not be posting any of the pictures because besides the garden and food that looks extremely good, everything else in the photo (i.e. all the people) look terrible with unwashed faces, no makeup and in PJs. Hey, we jumped out of bed very early to make breakfast okay!

The number of lies we told to make this happen were quite amazing. Since it was the weekend before Chinese New Year, we had to try to fend off all plans that my mom were trying to make. We had a whatsapp group among the children where frequent desperate messages like “Mom just told me that she wants to arrange for this pickup during the weekend. how How HOW?” Very often did we have to solve the issues with a multi-prong approach, with me dissuading her in Singapore saying that it is too near Chinese New Year and that we would already have so many things to do, with my brother calling from the US telling her that he has appointments already booked for the weekend. It was quite hilarious since my mom was oblivious to what was happening that weekend and even during the dinner before the weekend, my mom was planning what we would need to accomplish in preparation for Chinese New Year. I must say, it was tough keeping our mouths shut! (Note: photos are taken by my brother, myself and Donny using a combination of my brother’s Canon SLR and the iphone)

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Pierre Herme’s Melody Cake

For birthdays within my family, it is somewhat unspoken that not only am I tasked (as always) to bake a delicious birthday cake, I am also usually expected to bake a cake I’ve never baked before!

As years go by and as the number of someday-I’m-definitely-going-to-bake-this-stunning-cake type of recipes are used up one by one, I found it especially hard to find the perfect cake for my mom’s birthday this year. I thought pretty long and hard, looked on the internet to look for the perfect recipe and when I couldn’t,  I turned to my pile of trusty baking books to gain some inspiration. It was just a couple of days before her birthday did I finally set my mind on which cake I was gonna bake – Pierre Herme’s Melody Cake.


The recipe for this cake was almost 10 pages long and referenced 3 different parts of the book. It had quite a number of components and while it was quite intimidating, I was so ready for a challenge! This cake turned out to be quite manageable, in hindsight, but I do recall being really nervous and careful as I was making all the different components and it definitely didn’t help that the recipe would say stuff like…”extremely fragile”. The cake consists of 7 layers (starting from the bottom): cinnamon cookie, genoise, twenty-hour apples, bavarian cream, genoise, cinnamon cookie, sliced apples.

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