Sunday, 13 June 2021

Florescene Cafe @ World of Phalaenopsis, Hulu Yam Baru

Side blurb: it's lockdown again and I know we won't be able to visit here anytime soon, but it's good to build up bucket list now and visit them when MCO is lifted, or find ways we can support businesses during this trying time :) 
World of Phalaenopsis is one of the largest orchid growers/supplier in Malaysia. They have been around since 2006, and you might have walked past their shops, Orchid Culture at Bangsar Shopping Centre and The Gardens Mall :D. 

Their farm in Hulu Yam is open for all to visit and there's even a little cafe there! I've been intending to blog about this place since my first visit in 2019 (& subsequent visit in 2020), but somehow I've successfully procrastinated till 2021. Oh well better late than never. The part in which I procrastinate is selecting and uploading photos of this place because during every single visit, I'd have taken one too many photos at this place :p You'd have understood why as you read along! 

I made my third visit to World of Phalaenopsis in April. Again, really? I enjoy visiting this place - it is a lovely place to have a cup of coffee and feast my eyes on the lush plants and myriad flowers. Different plants on are put on display during every visit, which makes every visit refreshing :) 

Located about an hour's drive from KL, World of Phalaenopsis is tucked in Hulu Yam. Chances are you probably think you're on the wrong track while navigating to World of Phalaenopsis, as you'll turn into a sort of residential area, but fret not, keep going on and you'll eventually reach World of Phalaenopsis! Parking is available, albeit limited, and it is shaded! 

Upon entering, you'll be greeted by overhanging ferns that forms an arc-like shape.

There's a cute little cafe, Florescene Cafe, tucked in the middle of World of Phalaenopsis. The cafe is located on the right side from the entrance, you'd see the red/fuchsia coloured circles leading your way into the cafe.
The cafe - I'll just let the pictures do the talking :) 

Beautiful isn't it :) You'd be spoilt for choices choosing where to seat too, as every seat provides a different view/backdrop :p 

I went there on a Monday morning and it was empty-ish. However, on weekends, be prepared to have people photobombing your photoshoots :P

The cafe operates on self-service basis, head to the counter to place your orders once you're ready. They serve the usual cafe staples like English breakfast and a selection of desserts, as well as some local dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Yam Cake etc. Prices are surprisingly quite okay given the environment you're in! 
Long Black RM9
Served with a Roti Kok
Apple Crumble RM12
Served with a scoop of ice cream. 
Yes, you may purchase orchids there too :D Their orchid comes in a range of prices, from as low as RM10, all the way to triple-digit, depending on the type of orchid and the maturity level (I believe). There are a few orchid conservatories there too but photographs are not allowed there. 

 Besides orchid, they also sell other common houseplants at their farm :) 
Can't wait to visit them again when lockdown is lifted :) Do prepare to spend at least an hour, or more if you're someone who really appreciates plants :) 

Do pay attention to their social media page as they offer plants for sale occasionally, and sometimes they'd throw in some offers too :D 

World of Phalaenopsis
1017, Jalan Batang Kali - Hulu Yam Bharu, 
Kampung Sungai Kamin, 
44300 Batang Kali, Selangor


Thursday, 3 June 2021

[Life's Update]: I Started Batter Together - My Home-Based Bakery!

No - this is not a post where I hard sell my own baked goods, but just wanted to document the events and emotions I've experienced that lead to where I am today :)  

This was (& still is) a nerve-wracking journey, but I started my own cookie side business :))) It took me a lot of coaxing and encouragement from my friends, and I'm really glad I've started it :) 


It's always been something that I've always enjoyed. During my uni days, baking was my number 1 stress buster. I'd often go on a jog and somehow ended up in the TESCO nearby, and going home with lots of butter. 

(Butter was cheap in the UK, and my electricity was covered in my rental so I went all out with baking) 
Another reason why I baked often - I kept getting extra lemons when I order online

I went on a long baking hiatus after I started my first job. Thanks to MCO, I started picking up baking again. Baking kept me sanity in check during MCO, as it gave me a strong drive & sense of purpose - I wanted to improve my baking. To find out why certain baked goods of mine failed miserably. To learn how to troubleshoot my cookies that are overly flattish. 

I bought a brand new Kenwood stand mixer and it was one of my best purchases for the year 2020.  I wrote a blog post on how to choose a stand mixer, as well as created an unboxing video if you're interested!

I enjoy sharing my baked goods with my friends and family, simply because food is best when shared. Besides, I can't finish one whole cake/a whole batch of cookies on my own :p It always brings me joy to see friends and family enjoying my baked good :) Whenever my friends are down, I'd love to send some baked goods to cheer them up. 

However, I was consumed by insecurities. I've always felt that my baked good isn't "good enough". And I was always doubting if feedback from my friends are true feedback or just compliments they pay because, well they're my friends.

Starting a side business is one of my goals for 2021, and starting a business to sell my baked goods is TOP on the list. Obviously, it was Insecurities 1 and Side Business 0 at the start of the year. I couldn't get myself to overcome my insecurities.

So what happened? Did my insecurities just go, poof! into thin air? Nah. Trust me it's still there, looming large, all over my head. 
It all started on a random Saturday morning back in March 2021, when I went for a jog with my dear friend, Nadiah. We were talking about life in general, and I shared my goals for the year. I shared a Biscoff NY cookie I made with her and she asked me, "Jia, why aren't you selling this? You should be selling it!". 

This is something that many of my friends told me, but I've never taken any actions, simply because of the insecurities I mentioned above. She proceeded to give me a deadline to start my business, became my very first customer just to boost my confidence, dropped me reminders to start working on it (because I kept procrastinating, out of fear & insecurity!) 

And after lots of prompting, and support from my friends -- I finally posted my first cookie sale post on my personal Instagram account. (A friend had to be next to me --- making sure I press "post" and not procrastinate, because I was THIS close to not posting it)

I've gotten a lot of support and love from friends, families and acquaintances during that nerve-wracking first few days :'). After two weeks of selling on my personal account, I've gained the confidence to register for a business and started my online bakery, Batter Together.

NY-style cookies, anyone? :D

I've been running Batter Together for 2 weeks at the time of writing (and selling my cookies through my personal account for 2 weeks), and I've been getting a lot of support, compliments, repeat orders from friends, families and even strangers (achievement unlocked!!)

My insecurities are still there - definitely it is not something you'd overcome overnight. And I believe it'll stick with me for a long long time. Everyone has their own favourites & preference - this is something I've always believed in strongly, but yet it is very hard for me to accept. Whenever a customer gives me feedback (eg: cookie too sweet, they want more chocolate here, etc. etc.), I'd have this strong urge of modifying my recipe. (so far, I think I'm doing pretty well in resisting this urge though!) We all have our preferences and favourite, and there wouldn't be one perfect food item that'd please everyone. I need to learn to let go of trying to bake that perfect cookie that would please every single one. 

(but also make sure that my cookies please MOST people, ofc, cookies must be really bad)


I'm very excited to be working on Batter Together and am definitely planning to further expand my offering :) (R&D more cookie flavour, and potentially selling other baked goods too!)
My latest cookie flavour R&D - orange & chocolate!

Taking things one step at a time :) And now it's time for some shameless side plug :p 

If you love chonky NY-style cookie (or if you wonder how they taste like!), do check out my little side business, @Battertogether_my hehe :D Currently accepting orders on pre-order basis, and accepting orders around the Klang Valley only for now. But stay tuned as I work on my expansion plan :))) 

Exciting times ahead :)))

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Monthly Goals Review: May 2021

The month of May passed by rather quickly for me. I started off the month feeling really refreshed - as I took a week off in April and went on a short staycation at The Sticks. Shortly after my vacation, things picked up quickly as I had a large-scale online event to coordinate. And by the second week of May, I had to start wrapping up my work and prepare for handover as I've decided not to extend my contract for the role I was in. And somewhere in May, we went into lockdown again, I fell sick post-vaccine (and hence a few days gone there) and started my cookie side gig. And wait what, it's June already???!! 

It's been a pretty productive month I suppose. Feeling a little tired due to the physical strength/energy required for my cookie baking, but feeling happy because I'm now doing something I love - baking & sharing my joy of baking :) 

I can't help but feel frustrated and upset we're in lockdown again. In my April post, I mentioned that I've been starting to go out and meet friends. And now with the cases at a new high, it isn't safe for us to do so. Like most of us, I'm upset that we have to go into lockdown again. And just today (1 June 2021). we have just begun FMCO. 

I'm trying to shift my thinking and focus on the opportunities from this - because of the lockdown, I had more time at home to plan my home bakery business. Delivery was in my favour as most people are at home. I could register my business from the comfort of my home without having to visit an SSM branch. I saved more this month because I can't go out and spend the money anyway. I've reconnected with some of my friends, despite the lockdown, through phone/video calls.

Financial Goals 

1) Save at least 40% of my income every month 

Because it's lockdown, I've managed to save a little more compared to the past two months. 

A huge chunk of expenses went to my car in May, as my car insurance and road tax are due for renewal come June, and I (finally) changed my car tyres. Thank goodness for the bucket system to keep my saving goals in check. Feeling bummed as we don't really travel that much nowadays D: 

Spent a little more on my family and friends, which is a similar pattern I notice I have for every lockdown. Lockdown just makes us more inclined to give, I believe. 

Feeling a little apprehensive for June, as I've left my job (bye-bye stable income!) and am taking the freelance route for now. Not sure how it'll go but we'll see! Definitely would want to cut my expenses, now that I'm not sure how my income would fluctuate.


Personal Growth / Learnings

Removing the podcast goal from here since my learnings will be documented in my monthly Good Reads post :D

1) Read at least one paragraph of non-fiction/fiction every day

For the month of May 2021, I've read two fiction books

You may read my review for The Kitchen Front on Good Read - this is definitely one of my favourite read! I find myself enjoy reading  Have not written a review for Last Night at the Telegraph Club. 

Would like to challenge myself to read a Non-Fiction in the month of June -- my last Non-Fiction read was back in March and I'd like to regain the momentum :) 

2) Participate in at least one online events and/or online courses every month

I've been taking a pause from my online courses on Coursera since the last week of April. In May, I didn't manage to keep up my momentum as

- Week 1 was a busy week for me, having to coordinate a large-scale online event

- I started my side gig in Week 2, leaving me lesser time to work on online courses during the weekend

However, I did attend an online Food Handling Training Course! A Food Handler Certificate is compulsory for anyone working in the F&B industry. Since I've decided to start my cookies side-gig, I registered for the course through this training company, EduFood Training & Consultancy. I'd highly recommend anyone who is interested to obtain a Food Handler Cert from this company -- the trainer was engaging and interactive. The course was 3+ hours long, but she (the trainer) was in high spirit at all time. 

As an educator myself, who has been facilitating online classes and event, I have to say, I really admire and look up to her enthusiasm and amazing facilitation skills! 

Also took away quite a bit of knowledge about food handling. Do you know that a freezer should always be below -5 degree celsius? Anything higher than that is the danger zone.

3) Cook/Bake at least one dish per week

Because we spent most of the month in lockdown, I managed to explore quite a few different dishes 

Week 1: Pork bolognese on a bed of mashed potatoes, full English breakfast and Guinness stew

Week 2: Pork quesadillas...and I started my cookies side gig, hence, picture of cookies

Week 3: Pulled pork, bagel & cauliflower soup

Week 4: Vavishka, Chocolate Orange cookie

Burger buns, chocolate orange cookies with a different base and Jamaican jerk meatball 


That's it for the month of May. Come 1st June, we will be entering FMCO, which...god knows how long it'll last. And I want to acknowledge that I'm feeling rather anxious, now that I'm venturing into the freelancer path at least for now, and dahlah it's lockdown, job insecurity is in the air. As mentioned at the start of the post, I am feeling the blahs of lockdown, but I'll try my best to see the opportunities that arise from here and to still create things to look forward to. 

What I am looking forward to in June: 

1. Starting my new job!

Other than my new business venture, I'm starting a new role in the month of June - albeit a part-time role. Starting something new always makes me excited :)))) 

2. Growing my business, Batter Together 

Yes, that's the name of my side gig - will probably create a separate blog post all about it soon :D 

Looks like lockdown will be enforced for quite a while, and hence, I won't be able to set up a stall at a physical/event space anytime soon. But I'd like to try out having special "packages" for upcoming festive seasons such as Father's Day

Since starting my cookie side gig - I've been struggling with maintaining the optimum inventory. I find myself scrambling for raw materials often. I've been exploring Excel sheets to forecast if I'd have enough ingredients and would like to work on building this for my side gig LD.

3. Learning how to use tiktok/create video content 

If you've been following my blog since last year, you'd have remembered that I started creating food videos & editing them at the end of last year. I've stopped doing them reasons, and would like to challenge myself to create more video content again :) Think this would be especially useful for my new cookie side gig as well! The lockdown gives me the perfect opportunity to do so! 

4. Working on Impian Kencana

One of my friend that I look up to and respect has initiated this project, Impian Kencana, and she has invited me to be part of her team :) We've been having bi-weekly meetings since March, and we've just recently launched late last month!

Will be assisting in the programmatic side of things. Really looking forward to the roll-out and implementation of this project! 

That's it for May. Oh June, please be kind.

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