Tuesday, December 25, 2012

And the Christmas present goes to

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas everyone!


How’s your Christmas Day going so far? Tummies full of food? Presents galore? Or maybe just a cosy time with close family and friends? However way you are spending your Christmas, I hope it’s filled with lots of love and good cheer.

So as promised, I’ve randomly selected the lucky recipient for the B.U.R.P. Squad Kit giveaway

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And the winner is…

Tan Shu-Yin

Congratulations Shu-Yin! Drop me a line at serenelymade[at]gmail.com with your address/contact details so I can arrange to have the item delivered to you.

Enjoy the rest of the Christmas season and have a great start to the new year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My awesome children’s birthday treat idea

I am always in awe of those mums that prepare awesome treats and yummy food for their children to bring to school on their birthday to share with their classmates… cupcakes, cookies, goodie bags, mini bento packs etc.

Anyway this month, I’ll be making my inaugural appearance on the classroom birthday scene, even if it’s just a small scale one for Nathan’s daycare.

I decided to prepare some goodie bags of treats, but add my own unique twist to it. Instead of just handing out bags of treats, I will mix in a little fun and activity by packaging it into a pass-the-parcel game (make the kids work a little for their treats!)

I snapped some photos of what I did so I could share it with you…

First I packaged up some yummy sweets and goodies into individual goodie bags (very sinful, but I guess it’s alright for an occasional treat).

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Then for an added twist, I prepared three ‘Action Bags’. I made them very simple as the kids at the daycare are all very young…

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  • The first one was a bag of mini bubble blowers with a note saying “Bubble Fun! Please everyone one bottle and keep one for yourself”
  • The second one was a bag of chocolate gold coins with a note saying “You discovered the gold treasure! Please give everyone a gold coin and keep one for yourself”
  • The third one was a bag of Christmas chocolates with a note saying “Yummy chocolate treats! Please give everyone a piece and keep one for yourself”

I wrapped each bag in a layer of wrapping paper, alternating the various ‘Action Bags’ at intervals in the layers.

(At first I thought of adding other action items like “shake hands with the birthday boy” or “with your neighbour a Merry Christmas”… but decided against it since the kids are all very young. I’ll save it for another occasion when Nathan is older).

I think it should be plenty of fun as it is. This would probably be the first pass-the-parcel game for most of these kids.

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I plan to provide all the details of the treats and ‘Action Bags’ to the carer so she can strategically time the music so each child will get at least one turn for a goodie bag.

Hubby was really impressed and said he wished he had a birthday treat like that and that Nathan has a really awesome mummy ^_^

A Christmas present for you

So how’s your final preparations for Christmas going? Done all your Christmas shopping? Wrapped all your Christmas presents?

Well I finally sat myself down over the weekend and got all my presents wrapped (*phew*) so I’m almost all set.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I have prepared something special to share the Christmas love with YOU. It’s my own small way of spreading a little Christmas cheer this season, no strings attached, no sponsors no list of terms & conditions. Just ‘lil ‘ol me saying “Merry Christmas to you”.

I am giving away this little B.U.R.P. Squad Kit handmade by yours truly.

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It’s a little kit comprising of a burp cloth, two cloth wipes which convert into instant bibs with the aid of a multi-purpose clip also included in the kit. More details about the B.U.R.P Squad Kit here.

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It’s open to anyone in the whole wide world. No matter where you are, whether you are in Timbuktu or The North Pole, I’ll find a way to get this to you. Whether you’d like this for yourself or to give to a friend, it doesn’t matter.

All you need to do is to put your hand up by leaving a comment as a way to say “yes, please!” latest by midnight Christmas Eve, 24th December 2012 (Western Australia Standard Time).

I’ll handpick the lucky recipient randomly and announce it on Christmas Day, 25th December 2012.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Shortbread {Blog Train}

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So with just two weeks left till Christmas, our house is really beginning to look, feel and SMELL like Christmas… with the Christmas tree up, shopping bags of presents lined up, rolls of wrapping paper spread out and yummy smells wafting out from the kitchen.

Every year I try to bake some goodies to share and give out to friends and family. The previous two years, I’ve made Oreo pops and gingerbread men. So this year, what is to be?

Also, this year’s Christmas cooking is extra special because I’m hopping aboard the Festive Fare blogtrain hosted by Jennifer the Dinomama.

After some research and pondering, I finally landed on the perfect recipe – Christmas Shortbread : A yummy and Christmassy goodie but also fairly simple recipe that anyone would not hesitate to try. It’s so simple that it definitely falls under my four ingredient recipes category.

Here’s a little bit of trivia and introduction on the history of shortbread

Shortbread dates back to the 12th century in Scotland and the British Isles. They were originally biscuits that were made from left-over bread dough that was sometimes sweetened and dried out in the oven to form a hard, dry rusk.

Over time the leavening was replaced by butter, making it an expensive luxury treat that was only reserved for special occasions such as Christmas, Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve) and weddings.

The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread short: the term ‘short’, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, like shortcrust pastry. It is the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.

References: Irishcultureandcustoms.com and Wikipedia

I love this particular shortbread recipe as the rice flour gives a soft velvety texture which just melts in your mouth. And the simple recipe allows plenty of room for creativity and variation.

Christmas Shortbread Fingers

Ingredients
250g butter at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 2/3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
[Quantity makes approx 16 fingers]

Step 1: Preheat oven to 160ÂșC. Then line a 26cm x 18 cm baking tin with baking paper.

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar together until pale, light and creamy.

Step 3: Sift flours over butter and sugar mixture. Then using a smooth non-serrated knife, mix flour and butter mixture in a cutting motion until the mixture comes together in small moist clumps.

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Step 4: Tip the dough into the tin and press it out into an even layer. Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into evenly sized rectangular  fingers. Prick lightly with a fork and sprinkle with extra sugar.

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Step 5: Bake for 30 minutes until it turns a light golden colour. Depending on the actual size of your tin, the size and thickness of your dough might vary, so it might be worthwhile to check the oven regularly to make sure it does not become over-baked or burnt.

Step 6: Allow the shortbread to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before lifting out gently by the edges of the baking paper. Then slice it and store in an airtight container.

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You can vary the recipe by adding some chopped nuts (macadamia nuts add a nice buttery texture) or flavouring such as vanilla, lemon essence or cinnamon. They make great little gifts for the festive season and it’s easy to whip up a big batch for a large group or gathering.

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As the Festive Fare blogtrain chugs along, I’d like to introduce you to the next blogger, Jasmine of Gift Wrapsody who will be sharing her delicious recipe for Coca Cola Ham.

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Jasmine is a mum of two boys who loves making meaningful craft. She is inspired by the people around her to find 101 simple yet special ways to inject fun into their lives. You can find her at her craft blog at Gift Wrapsody.

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Chugging along to Dinomama’s Festive Fare blogtrain

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Enjoy the festive Christmas season everyone!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Christmas Giveaway coming soon

With the onset of Christmas season comes the season of gifts and giving. This is actually something I intended to do in November in line with my birthday celebrations as I did last year.

However due to unexpected challenges I had been facing, a number of things had to be pushed back. But no matter, as Christmas is also an opportune time to do this very special thing… no strings attached, just a my very own way to spread some Christmas love.

A Christmas Giveaway
Featuring none other than a Serenely Made old favourite

The B.U.R.P. Squad Kit

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The term B.U.R.P. is inspired by the term ‘Based Upon Repeat Pattern’… and any parent will know that burps and messes are definitely a repeated pattern by all babies. So it does well to go into battle well armed with a kit like this.

The kit comprises of…
A burp cloth
Two cloth wipes
A multi-purpose clip

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The cloth wipes convert into an instant bib with the aid of the bib clip included in the set. The bib clip itself can be used to convert a multitude of things (e.g. washcloths, tea towels, hankys) into an instant bib and can also double up as a toy clip, pacifier clip, mitten clips, sock clips or teether clip.

I’ll be posting up the details of the giveaway soon to time it in line with Christmas. So stay tuned!

[UPDATE: Details of the giveaway posted here]

Monday, December 03, 2012

The first story

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Family photos hung up in my mother’s childhood home

[Some minor edits and notes added following my mum’s correction on a couple of points]

The earliest ‘true story’ I remember my mother telling me was one about her grandfather (my great-grandfather) in World War II. It is actually not a very happy story, but the reality and rawness of the story is one that that burns into your memory so you never forget it.

My mother grew up in Kampung Sri Gading, near the town of Batu Pahat in Johor, Malaysia. The house she lived in, originally built by my great-grandfather, has housed four generations of families.

The story I remember is actually about my mother’s maternal grandfather…

With the onset of World War II came the Japanese Soldiers. History remembers them as cruel and inhuman persecutors of the local people in Malaya.

They arrived one day at the doorstep of my great-grandfather’s house. I don’t remember what it was they were after. Money. Gold. Information. Women. Submission… It didn’t matter. Whatever they wanted, somehow my great-grandfather could not or would not give it to them.

And so they tortured him.

This is the part of the story I most vividly remember. How they tortured him.

They took my great-grandfather and forced him to drink water. When he could not hold anymore, they forced more down his throat. More and more until his stomach was bulged up like a balloon.

Then they laid him down and stepped on his stomach, forcing him to vomit the water back out again.

They did it again. And again. And again. How many times? I don’t know.

Did they get what they wanted in the end? I don’t know either.

Amazingly my great-grandfather survived to tell the tale. Just one of the many horror stories of war.

I have remembered the story ever since the first time I heard it. And when I read the bald facts of that time in history printed in my school text book. I read between the lines. History is real. About real places and real people and real stories.

 

To take a deeper step into the history pages, you can read my mum’s account of the story

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This is the first instalment of my series on

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