Friday, December 31, 2010

Save Money With ClickN Kids Coupon

ClickN Kids is having a New Year promotion. Save 20% Off ClickN READ Phonics & ClickN SPELL! Use coupon code: CKIDS2011 Expires: 31 January 2011

D2 is turning 4 in less than 2 weeks. Because his birthday is early January, he has the opportunity to begin formal schooling one year earlier. Meaning, instead of starting Standard 1 at 7 years old, he can start at 6 years old. However, there is a test he has to take first. Not sure what the test entails though. But I'm sure it is to see if he is ready mentally and emotionally.

Anyway, I just realized that I have to speed up his homeschooling a little. Afterall, I have 1 year less to prepare him for school. His reading is not too bad. I've been trying to teach him to write the last few days. He was doing okay writing the letters "a", "b" and "t", but for some reason he decided to be a difficult child writing "c". He would sit at the table playing with the erasers, playing with his feet and doing all sorts of things except the writing the letter "c".

When it comes to doing his ClickN Read, there is no problem. He wants to get on the computer. He wants to do the lessons. I guess it is easier to click a mouse than to manipulate a pencil. Well, at least he is getting some learning done.

Take advantage of the 20% off that ClickN Kids is offering. Do it before the coupon expires at the end of January 2011. Click on the affiliate banner below for more information.

Save 20% Off ClickN READ Phonics & ClickN SPELL! Use coupon code: CKIDS2011 exp. 01/31/11

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nanny 911 Will Not Like This

The kids have their own beds to sleep but they like to huddle together. They will put all the pillows, bolsters and blankets to create like a little nest. Unfortunately, the little one has been banned from the community bed because he still wee-wee in his pants at night (occasionally). They won't even let him sleep on the top bunk coz' they say it might "rain" in the middle of the night.
Nanny 911 prob won't approve of this. However, I'm sure when some of them start to fall out of the bed due to lack of space, they will appreciate a bed of their own.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas everyone and remember to look to the light. Not the lights on your Christmas tree, but to the only light that will chase the darkness from your life, even Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Song For You

Come sing along.

Everybody sing this song, doodah, doodah,
Everybody sing this song doodah doodah day,
Doodah doodah day,
Doodah doodah day,
Everybody shout HOORAY!
Christmas on the way.

(Song modified and sung by D1).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Balloon Twisting To Keep Boredom Away

Wondering what Christmas present to give a 7 - 10 year old? How about a a bag of 100 Qualatex 260 balloons, a balloon Inflator and beginner's guide to twisting animal balloons.

My kids have been quite bored the last few weeks. Luckily I found a place where I could get a bag of 100 twisty balloons. With plenty of teachers on Youtube, twisting balloons have become a current hobby for the kids (and me).

So far we can twist flowers, dogs, rabbits, giraffes, swords, teddy bear, lion and basic helmets. We may not be professional balloon twisters but it is a fun skill to have. I know it will come in handy if we ever have parties. D1 wants to be a clown, twist balloons and earn money. Yea, my money minded kid. My mom took them to a kids party for orphanage children and he asked if the organizers will pay him to twist some balloons :) Clearly we had to explain it was good to give service and be charitable.

Well, if you have bored children at home, you might want to grab a bag of balloons. Don't have to be twisty balloons, the normal round ones will keep them entertained too. Leave it to the kids, they will figure out a way to play with them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't let your holidays become an opportunity for criminals

(ARA) - For many of us, the holidays are a mixture of fun and frantic shopping, joyful times and a hectic pace. Criminals, however, see the holiday season as full of opportunities - the perfect time to take advantage of seasonal chaos.

"With everything going on, the holiday season is no time to let your guard down when it comes to home security," says Jim Boots of Protection 1 (, the largest privately owned security company in the U.S. "Criminals know that our holiday habits can leave our homes, belongings and personal information vulnerable. It's important to be vigilant throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. According to the FBI, there's a burglary every 14 seconds in the U.S. And, with homes and cars filled with new gifts and gadgets, the holidays are an especially lucrative time for thieves."

Fortunately, by taking some simple precautions, you protect your home, purchases and identity from predators this holiday season.

Secure your home

"Burglars know many people travel during the holidays, and many more will leave brand-new, valuable merchandise in their homes when they're out," Boots says. "A criminal is more likely to target a home that looks vulnerable. The best thing homeowners can do to protect their homes is to make it clear to burglars that their house won't be an easy mark."

Reduce the risk of burglary by:
  • Putting inside and outside lights on a timer to make your home look occupied while you're away.
  • Keeping bushes, trees and decorations from obscuring the view of your front door from the road.
  • Suspending newspaper and mail delivery if you'll be away for several days.
  • Arranging for snow removal in case of a fresh snowfall while you're away.

Consider installing a cost-effective home security system, provided by a trusted company such as Protection 1, that allows you to control everything remotely from a mobile or Web-based system such as a smart phone or laptop. A home without a security system is two to three times more likely to be burglarized, according to a study by Temple University. With Protection 1's eSecure service you can check on, arm or disarm your home security system remotely, communicate with the system via text message, and even place sensors on specific areas inside your home that you want to protect such as jewelry boxes, TVs or even the gifts under the Christmas tree. The service also provides portable surveillance cameras that you can place in your home, or take with you to monitor the inside of your hotel room while you're out.

While you're keeping bad guys out, don't overlook fire safety as well. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the top days for home candle fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Christmas trees account for 200 fires annually, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damage, the administration's statistics show. Remember, never leave candles burning and don't overload electrical sockets with decorative lights. However, should there be an accident a monitored system from Protection 1 automatically dispatches the fire department just in case you're away from the house, asleep or unable to respond.

Stay safe when you're out

Thieves know our holiday shopping habits and can make us vulnerable to theft while we're out and about. From breaking into cars to "shoulder surfing" for credit card information and PIN numbers, criminals take every opportunity to brighten the holidays for themselves. When holiday shopping, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Never leave shopping bags, wrapped gifts or other valuables visible inside the car. Always place them in the trunk. Thieves are more likely to break into a vehicle if they can see the loot in it.
  • Carry only the credit card you need and one piece of ID when shopping. Leave your Social Security card at home or in a secure place.
  • Be aware of who might be looking over your shoulder as you type a PIN number.
  • Never allow a store clerk to take your credit card out of your sight.
  • Enroll in an identity theft protection service like LifeLock, which monitors your credit and can alert you if a piece of your personal information is used incorrectly in an application for credit or services.
"By taking some precautions, homeowners and shoppers can ensure the holidays stay bright for themselves and their families - and not for criminals," Boots says.

Honey Ginger Baked Chicken

This recipe is kid approved. My daughter gives it 2 thumbs up (but her opinion may be a little bias coz' she is a chicken loving girl). Anyway, if you have kids who love chicken drumsticks and chicken wings, you'll want to give this recipe a try.

  • 60ml water
  • 120g honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 50g fresh ginger, cut into strips
  • Crushed 2 cloves of garlic
  • About 10 chicken drumsticks and wings
  • Salt and grounded black pepper
  • 2 lime
  • Optional (light soy sauce, black soy sauce)
How To Cook
  • Clean the chicken, cutting away fat and skin. Make 1-2 cuts in the fleshy part of the chicken to allow marinate to seep in. Rub some salt and pepper onto it.
  • Prepare the marinate: Cook in a pan water, honey and sugar. After sugar is dissolved, add in the ginger strips. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
  • Pour marinate over the chicken.
  • (Optional: Add in a few spoonful of light soy sauce and black soy sauce. I also put in some chicken marinate that comes in a bottle)
  • Mix in garlic and squeeze in some lime.
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours. Even better if you leave it overnight.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes at 200 degree celcius
  • Don't throw away the sauce. Put it in a separate bowl. Taste good with rice.
Makes a good non-traditional no turkey Christmas dish.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Homemade Christmas Candy Card

This is our Christmas card this year. Added some candy and made it into a Christmas gift too. Card and gift in one.

How to do?
  • Cut some red paper into the shape of a Christmas stocking.
  • Paste it onto some nice plain paper ideal for card making.
  • Glue some cotton wool at the top
  • Glue some Christmas deco. I don't know what you call it but here is a picture of it. I just snip a few inches for each card. Actually, I found it easier to cellophane tape the ends.

  • Open the card and tape the candy to the top left page. Let it hang over the front of the card. Here is a picture of what it looks inside.

This is a good parent-child project. After assembling the card, the kids can decorate the red stocking on the front of the card.

Merry Christmas!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby Is 15 Months Old

Oh goodness, so busy moving house I didn't have time to update on babyK's progress. Let me show you some of her favorite things to do:

Messing with the color pencils

Messing with the containers in my kitchen

She hardly plays with any of her toys. She loves to take the broom and sweep the floor. She opens my kitchen cabinets and takes out all the tupperwares. She will ransack her siblings drawer where they keep their school stuff. And yes, she already pulled down the Christmas tree one time. She loves to tinkle on my mom's music keyboard. So unfortunate that I can't get this little one to sit down for a peaceful book reading session. All she wants to do is turn the pages.

She finally started to walk at 13 months. That is about when she started to eat solid food too. Totally skipped the porridge and mashy food; went straight to noodles and rice (but she is more of a noodle girl). Now she is an eating machine. She goes round the house looking for food. Her favorite is "keropok", biscuits and bread. She also loves ice cream. She drinks straight from a cup.

She has more teeth coming out. 2 more coming out at the bottom and 1 new one coming out at the top. That makes 7 teeth altogether.

Her understanding of language has expanded. She can carry out simple instructions like throwing stuff in the rubbish bin, putting things back, sit down etc.... Her talking is still mostly "pa pa pa pa". If she wants something, she will point and say "this" and then do the sign language for the word "more".

She is an observer. During our church Christmas party, she just stood and watched what everyone was doing. Right now she is sitting right next to her grandfather watching him peel the garlic. When I'm preparing food, she will grab a stool to stand next to me and watch me cut and wash.

When we moved house, it took her about 2 weeks to adjust. She was very, very sticky the first few days. Only after 2 weeks did she allow my mother to carry her.

Still breastfeeding her. She will only say "mama" when she wants to suck.

She loves to sing. She tries to sing "Silent Night" with us. She will go something like "oooooooo" and then burst out laughing.

Mamas Parenting Tip
  • At this age, they are trying to improve the motor skills of their hands and fingers. Give them boxes or any containers that they can open and close. If you want to play with baby, make a game where she can put things in and take things out of the container. That is why she likes to take my container of color pencils to play. She will throw them all on the floor and then attempt to put them back. A simple bottle cap can also keep her busy as she tries to put it back on the bottle. Trying to maneuver a pen cover onto the pen tip can also be part of their training/play.
  • Talk, talk, talk to baby. Encourage them to talk back. Pretend to have a conversation with them.
  • Get a good pair of shoes for them to walk in.
  • Sing, sing, sing to them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Five tips to simplify your holiday shopping on any budget

(ARA) - The holiday season is upon us. That means the stress that comes with shopping for that perfect gift is not far behind. So, what's the best way to go about making a list, checking it twice and sticking to a budget?

Audrey McClelland is the founder of Mom Generations, an online destination for moms. She is an expert at holiday shopping for her tech-savvy husband, four boys all younger than 6, and a large extended family.

McClelland offers her top five holiday shopping tips and gift ideas that will help you conquer your holiday shopping - on budget - for everyone on your list.

1. Keep a master list. It can get overwhelming around the holidays when you are trying to decide whom to shop for. Outline everyone you need a gift for, and remember to incorporate any unexpected last-minute gifts. Then write down a realistic number on what you want to spend on each person and stick to it. Seeing it on paper will make it easier to knock items off your list while keeping your budget in check.

2. Be sure to have gifts on hand that can be given to anyone … regardless of their tastes. For example, Staples carries colorful Omnitech mini speaker pods in jewel tones for only $10 that can plug into any iPod, Sony PSP, or MP3 player, and are perfect for kids and grown-ups on the go. Digital photo ornaments in the shape of decorative balls or snowflakes make another universally likeable gift for less than $15. These are also time-savers to have on hand for office Yankee swaps, hostess gifts or any unanticipated presents you may need.

3. Don't waste time rushing from store to store. Try condensing your shopping visits to the fewest number of stores possible. Pick a shopping destination or two, and commit to buying as many gifts as you can for your list there. If you're looking for the newest tech items, Staples stores offer interactive displays that allow you to get a feel of the newest tech products before you buy, whether you're considering a Kindle for your mother-in-law or a Flip video camera for that next family vacation.

4. It's a digital world - follow your favorite shopping places on Facebook and Twitter. Many stores reward their followers with up-to-the-minute deals via these social media outlets. Stores occasionally post exclusive print-out coupons and deals specifically for their Facebook friends, and let you know about upcoming events ahead of time.

5. Check out the websites of the stores that you plan to visit before heading into the actual store. You may be surprised by the variety of products some stores offer. It also helps you to become acquainted with the product selection and can help you to nail down specific items for each person on your list, making your trip more efficient. You may even decide to purchase some items directly on the website and have them shipped to the recipient to avoid a trip to the store or post office. For example, offers free shipment on items over $50.

"Every year, inevitably, I get caught up in the frenzy of the season," says McClelland. "However, by sticking to these tips, I can focus on the joy of gift giving and the satisfaction of knowing I did it all under budget."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yummy Brownie Recipes

We just had our church Christmas party. I was assigned to make dessert and decided to make some brownies. It turned out real yummy. So if you're looking for a tried and tested yummy brownie recipe, try these out.

Moist Chewy Brownie

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup flour (I used superfine flour)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • In a saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter.
  • Once melted, add in the sugar. Stir it in until well blended.
  • Add in the eggs gradually as you keep beating the mixture.
  • Put in the vanilla essence
  • Last of all add in the flour and salt.
  • Don't forget the walnuts.
  • Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan and pour in the batter.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit. Make sure you don't over bake.
  • Let it cool before your frost it or dust it with powdered sugar (optional).

This recipe comes from BYU

I forgot to take a photo of the brownies. When I remembered, only this last piece was left. The mint icing really makes it super yummy.

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Mint Icing ingredients:
  • 5 tbsp margarine
  • Dash of salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
  • 2 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 1-2 drops green food coloring
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and then mix in the cocoa.
  • As you wait for it to cool, mix together eggs, sugar and honey.
  • In a separate container, mix the dry ingredients together - flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Put the dry ingredients with the eggs, sugar, honey. Pour in the melted butter and cocoa too.
  • Mix them all together until well blended.
  • Add in the nuts.
  • Grease a 9-13 baking pan and pour the batter in. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
    Then let cool.
Start preparing the mint icing.
  • Add salt, corn syrup and powdered sugar to the soften margarine.
  • Beat until smooth and fluffy.
  • Mix in the mint extract and the food coloring.
  • Gradually, add in the milk. You want to achieve a consistency slightly thinner than cake frosting.
  • Once the brownies is completely cooled, you can spread the mint icing over.
  • Put in the refrigerator a little while so the icing can become stiff.
  • After you take it out from the fridge, smooth on a layer of chocolate icing.
Chocolate Butter Frosting Recipe
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
  • Heat butter, cocoa and milk over low fire.
  • Turn off the heat and add it to the powdered sugar.
  • Beat until nice and smooth.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trip To Jeram Toi

If you're looking to go to some fun places in Negeri Sembilan, you might want to consider Jeram Toi waterfalls. You'll find it as you get on the road heading towards Jelebu. Instead of trying to describe it with words, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

From the entrance as you walk up to the pool

The kids will love the slides they've put in.

This is the deeper pool.

As you can see there's a kiddie pool and a deeper pool.

If you feel like hiking, you can keep climbing.

Nice huts available for you to rest and picnic. You can decide to play at the pool or in the stream.

We were just visiting and checking out the place this time. Will definitely come back for some wet fun.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Certified Educational Daycare

In such difficult economic times many parents would see it as a privilege to be a stay-at-home parent in America, and would be considered truly lucky. With thirty years of economic policies that have decimated the middle class, the majority of American households today require two incomes, meaning that young children must usually be relegated to daycare facilities or preschools.

Of those fortunate parents raising their children naturally, many wish to take full advantage of this opportunity by attempting to give their children a head start on learning; reading to them, engaging in educational play activities, encouraging them to read, and more. Unfortunately, very few parents can do it all.

Young children can greatly benefit from attendance at a certified day care, operated by trained, certified early childhood educators. A preschool teacher cannot replace a parent and that is not the goal of a certified day care program, but the experience of learning in a school setting during the early years can be a valuable supplement to a child's experience at a time when the brain is being shaped and developed.

Closing the Gaps

There is arguably no substitute for a loving parent-child relationship and daily interactions – but scientific methodology has an important place. This is where trained, certified early childhood educators can "fill the gaps" when it comes to a young child's development. For example, were you as a parent aware that there are five equally important areas of a young child's development? These are summed up by the acronym, "SPICE" – Social, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Emotional.

The way a child relates to others and functions in a group setting involves social development. If you are among the increasing number of parents choosing to limit their family size to one child, the importance of socialization in a structured environment becomes apparent.

Physical development refers to building motor skills, from the gross (basic movements such as walking and running) to the fine (such as holding a writing implement).

Intellectual development is achieved through structured play, and of course means development of language and math skills as well as the child's innate sense of curiosity and wonder; Intellectual development is central to success in school later on.

Creative development addresses artistic talents in visual arts, music, storytelling and even theatrics. Although it is popular in American culture to dismiss creativity and the arts as unnecessary, creativity is the foundation self-expression and problem solving. It is arguable that without creativity, there would be no innovation nor entrepreneurship. (It was Einstein himself who said "Creativity is more important than knowledge.")

Emotional development is also frequently overlooked, even by the most devoted parents. Yet, without a sense of self, including self confidence and the discipline to deal with one's own emotional responses, a child will have difficulty functioning in society later in life.

What the future will hold

It is likely that most parents are aware of these developmental domains on an instinctive level. However, certified preschool educators are trained in the scientific theory and methodology that can make the difference between a child succeeding – and succeeding brilliantly.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Atlanta day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How We Renovated Our Home

Finally, the stress of renovating, packing, moving and unpacking is about over. There is still some stuff to put away and picture frames to put up. The garden is also still work in progress. We had to really clear the garden from neglected plants, old pot stands, broken pots and other unwanted "stuff" left by the building contractors because there were so many mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are still around but less. My poor kids were bitten left, right and center.

Well, here are some before and after photos.



We made the gate bigger so it would be easier for the 2nd car to park in the porch. Added an awning to keep out the sun. Changed the porch tiles. Changed the roof tiles too.

We took out the wall tiles. Painted the walls yellow. Gave away the old cupboards and table. Put in a kitchen cabinet.

I didn't take a before photo for this part of the kitchen. Anyway, we put in cabinet doors underneath the counter top. Before, the cubicles were all open. Had to change the counter-top for the right side too because we changed the sink. That's why the right side is black and the left side is the old orange tiles.

When my mother renovated the house many, many years ago, she made this laundry room. The washing machine was here and she put bars near the ceiling so she could hang the clothes indoors.

I turned the laundry room into a wet kitchen. I put the washing machine outside. We cemented an area at the back and put an awning. So laundry is now outside.

My mom told me the workers were quite fascinated with this magnetic knife rack I bought from IKEA.


We made the window smaller because that area was always hot in the afternoon. We changed the window pane to black color. Keeps the hot sun out and also gives us some privacy. We also changed the front door. It used to be a big, glass sliding door. Now we don't need curtains. And I don't need to bother washing any. Muaahahaha.
The floor went through some grinding so it nice and shiny now. We also changed the wall colors from blue to yellow. That really brightens up the house a bit.
The only thing we didn't take into consideration was the natural lighting in the house. Eliminating the big glass door and minimizing the window has made the inside of the house quite dark. DH was so focused on keeping the house cool and keeping the sun out, he didn't give much thought that we actually need some light to come in :) So, our electricity bill may be up a little because we have to turn on the lights during the daytime.


We put in floor tiles. Changed the window panes to dark color. Painted the walls a peachy color. It is not easy to select wall colors. The color may look nice on a chart but you don't really know how it is going to turn out. When I was choosing what colors to use, the painter and my mom kept suggesting that I use "bright" colors. Well, in the end the room looks quite ok BUT I think the kids would prefer a different color.
As you can see, no curtains here either. I don't know, should I put in some curtains?



Major changes here. Changed the wall and floor tiles. Changed the toilet too. Took out the bathtub. Installed a shower door and made that place a shower area. Cleared out all the clutter my mom had in the bathroom.

Guess where most of my trophies ended up? Yeah, literally with the fish. There are 2 reasons for that: 1) Many of the trophies were damaged through wear and tear over the years. 2) We want to keep the inside of the house clutter free (as much as possible).
I thought I had to throw them away but DH had a better idea on how to recycle them.
So, if you want to see my golf achievements, we'll need to go see the fish.
p.s.: The ones where I took first place are NOT with the fish. I'm not that crazy.

The rabbits have a new home too. When my mom said she asked the contractor to build a rabbit hut, I didn't imagine it would be this big. Some people have suggested I put naughty children there too. Hehehehe.

Well, that's a peek to the renovation done on my house. Here are some lessons learned:
  • Even after getting a quotation from the contractor, be ready to spend more. Maybe even much more, especially if it is an old house. Renovating a new house is probably not as troublesome.
  • Get your house treated for termites regularly.
  • I got better service at an obscure tile shop than I did at a big name, widely advertised shop. The big shop had a lot of variety no doubt but that made it more confusing for me. I didn't know which were floor tiles or wall tiles and for which part of the house they were for. The lady boss at the obscure shop helped me make my choices. She would say, "let's start with the kitchen wall" and then show me my choices. After that she would guide me to choose the floor tiles to match the wall. I got the task done fairly quickly and organized.
  • Don't just think about making the house beautiful. It has got to be functional, practical and energy saving too. For example, DH chose white color for the exterior walls so it would reflect heat and keep the house cool.
  • Drainage is very important. Make sure the drains are not clogged with debris from the renovation.
  • Bathroom accessories are very expensive.
  • Make sure you keep track of how much you are paying the contractor. Ask for a receipt after each payment or just jot it down on paper and have them sign it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Beautiful Christmas Greeting Cards

It's December! It's the Christmas month. Time to get busy doing Christmas stuff. Don't forget to send some Christmas cards to friends and family. Don't just send a generic Christmas card, why not use a beautiful picture of your family or your kids as part of your Christmas card.

Check out how awesome your Christmas card can be. These are part of Tiny Prints 2010 Holiday Cards

PopShops™ affiliate stores

Use the coupon code below to get more savings.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Of the Best Christmas CD

When I think of Christmas, my immediate thoughts are of music and Christmas cookies. What would Christmas be without the well-known Christmas carols that we all love to sing along with?

40 Most Beautiful Christmas Classics CD is a lovely collection of the best known carols performed by wonderful musicians, choirs and instrumental groups. I am sure you will enjoy listening to Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Boston Camerata, Monteverdi Choir, Dawn Upshaw and others performing and singing The Holly and the Ivy, Panis Angelicus, O Holy Night, Once in Royal David’s City, Hark the Herald’s Angels Sing, Christmas Oratorio – just to name a few.

If you are looking for a nice collection of Christmas music to get into the spirit of the season, I am sure you will enjoy the 40 Most Beautiful Christmas Classics CD. It would also make a very thoughtful present for a special friend.

Note: This is a guest review

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oreo Cheesecake

The week before we started packing up to move house, I was trying to clear the fridge. DH had bought a block of cream cheese that I had left sitting in the fridge for quite a while. I finally decided to put on my baking hat and treat the family to an oreo cheesecake.

I also got the kids to help. Giving them something to do keeps them out of trouble for a while :p

This was really yummy. Fattening, not healthy but sure yummy. Here is the recipe:

  • 18 Oreos. Crushed it with a blender
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 blockes of 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 (14 oz) can condensed milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Juice from 1 1/2 lemon
  • Mix in the butter with the crushed Oreos. Press into a 9 inch spring-form pan.
  • Cream together the softened cream cheese with the 2 eggs and condensed milk.
  • Add in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle more crushed Oreos on top of the batter or put broken Oreo pieces. That's up to you.
  • Bake 30-45 minutes at about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch the cake so it doesn't over bake. You don't want it to crack at the top.
  • Take it out of the oven and let it cool before putting in the refrigerator to chill.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How To Easily Scrapbook Your Memories

It's almost the end of the year. I'm sure you've taken tons of photos and they are all lying in your harddisk. I know mine are. BabyK has already passed her 1 year birthday. I plan to do a special scrapbook of her first year. I also plan to do a family scrapbook for the year 2010. I did that for the year 2009 and printed it into a photobook.

If you want to record your memories but you've never done digital scrapbooking before, don't think that it is very difficult. It can be very simple if you use the right scrapbooking software. There are templates, backgrounds and embellishments that you can easily manipulate with just a few clicks here and there. You can create scrapbook pages within minutes. Well... how long you take to design a page really depends on how fast you can make up your mind. Like for me I sometimes take a while because I can't decide which embellishment to use or where is the perfect place to put it. Then I also take my time to carefully craft out the journaling. The problem is I always have too much to say about the memory :)

Anyway, I like to use My Memories Suite Version 2! You don't need a lot of time to learn how to use the software. You can create beautiful layouts with this software. If you need scrapbooking ideas, just google and you'll find plenty.

Happy Holidays and have fun digital scrapbooking. Let me warn you that it can get quite addictive.

Give homemade gifts from the kitchen this holiday season

(ARA) - Buttery chocolate cookie dough with chocolate chunks, nuts and marshmallows. Creamy caramels with apple cider and warm spices. These are just a taste of some of the irresistible sweets you could be gifting this holiday season.

Homemade holiday gifts deserve special presentations, but these finishing touches don't have to mean a lot of extra time or money. Break out the crafting supplies, hit up a vintage shop or venture online to gather an inspired collection of packaging materials. With a few simple tips, you can create a memorable presentation worthy of the sweet, buttery goodness inside.

* Create a candy cone. To package small, individually-wrapped candies such as Spiced Apple Caramels, find some festive paper at a craft or scrapbook store. Roll it into a cone and tape it shut at the seam. Add ribbon or other decorations and then fill the cone with candy.

* Think outside the cardboard box. Consider packaging your gifts in a simple wooden box with a festive bow tied around it. Visit your local craft store for interesting containers to help you break free of the typical cardboard variety.

* Take and bake. A ready-to-bake treat such as North Pole Cookie Dough is the perfect hostess gift. Consider presenting it in disposable pint-sized ice cream containers. You can find them online or simply ask for a few from your local ice cream shop. Just don't forget to add a festive tag with baking instructions.

* Be sure to label. Use festive gift tags with the name of your recipe so your lucky friends and family know what a special treat they're receiving. Custom complimentary gift tags can be found at

Visit to find more holiday cookie and candy recipes courtesy of America's Dairy Farmers. While there, sign up for the daily holiday cookie e-newsletter, "Better Baking with Butter," available to subscribers from Nov. 22 to Dec. 25.

Spiced Apple Caramels
Makes about 75 caramels

2 cups apple cider
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple pie spice (If you cannot find apple pie spice, substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon allspice.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, cubed

Freshly ground cinnamon or course sea salt (optional)

Pour cider into small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to 1/3 cup; approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Line 8-inch square pan with buttered parchment paper or aluminum foil. In small bowl, combine heavy cream, salt, apple pie spice, cinnamon and reduced cider; set aside.

In large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Insert candy thermometer and simmer until syrup reaches 234 degrees.

Remove from heat, remove thermometer and very slowly whisk in cream mixture (mixture will foam and may spatter). Add cubed butter and stir or whisk until cream and butter are fully incorporated. Return pan to heat, reinsert thermometer and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until temperature reaches 250 degrees.

Remove from heat and pour caramel into prepared pan; let mixture cool slightly, then sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon or sea salt, if desired. Cool completely at room temperature or refrigerate until set.

Once set, remove caramel from pan lifting out by parchment paper or foil. Cut caramel into 3/4-inch squares. Wrap each piece in small wax paper square, twisting at each end. Store caramels in airtight container in cool place or refrigerate up to two weeks.

North Pole Cookie Dough
Makes three "pints" of dough or two dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 cup roasted almonds or toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Place 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in microwave-safe dish. Microwave 30 seconds on high, stir and continue to microwave in 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set bowl aside and cool to room temperature.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, beat butter and both sugars using electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add melted, cooled chocolate and vanilla, blend until fully incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture slowly; mixing until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chunks, nuts and mini marshmallows.

Fill pint containers with cookie dough and refrigerate up to four days or freeze up to one month. When giving as a gift, attach following baking instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, or using small cookie scoop, onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Flatten dough slightly using back of spoon. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are lightly cracked but centers are still soft.

Remove from oven and cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring cookies to wire rack to cool completely.