And then… it’s Christmas

This year was the first year that we hosted the family Christmas Eve dinner. We didn’t need to do much; we just needed to provide the place and heat up the food that the SIL has bought. In addition, the auntie-in-law supplemented the dinner with more home cooked food and we had surplus. This is how food is multiplied in this family, always.

Sausages and ham and chicken and herbed beef. Cold Storage has us covered.

Salad, pies and another dish provided by our awesome Peranakan auntie. She just couldn’t relax and had to busy herself in the kitchen. Bless her. 😍

This year, we had an addition in the family. We always welcome addition. Subtraction is frowned upon.

So this is us, at dinner.

This is us, on Christmas Day.

This is us, with a special family, as we watched a production by our church.

It’s always a privilege to lead someone to Christ, especially so when it’s family members, because they mean so much to us.

For a while now, whenever that’s opportunity, I would ask Dan if he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. Each time, he rejected the invitation.

But on 27 Dec 2018, something magical happened. (The following account is recorded on that day)

In the morning, while in the bathroom, he told me that he couldn’t see Jesus. He’s apparently scared of something but I told him Jesus is always there to protect him. This time round, when I asked him if he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart, he said Yes!

Alas, we were rushing out and I didn’t want to do a rushed job of explaining what it means.

So our conversation went something like..

👩🏻 Don’t be afraid, Jesus is always with you, to protect you.

👦🏻 But I can’t see Jesus.

👩🏻 You just need to believe. This is called faith.

So I’m the afternoon, while preparing him for nap, he told me again that he was scared (as usual). I assured him, that Jesus is with him and I felt prompted to ask him if he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart.

He said yes again.

That moment was so tender. I asked him to say the sinner’s prayer, to repeat after me and he did so … word by word.

With that, he felt asleep… without much struggle.

We probably would doubt if he understood the whole gospel, if he understood what sin is and how sin separates us from God. But I remember when I made a decision for Christ, I didn’t really understand the full story yet by faith, I said the prayer. It’s after that, when I read the bible and understood more, that the concept of sin and His love for us overwhelmed me and hence the journey of discipleship began.

I’ll allow the HS to work in him. What I’m certain is that it’s a choice that the boy made, not one that he’s forced into.

The girl asked Jesus into her life at about the same period, between 3 to 4YO.

Thank you, God, for a wonderful 2019 Christmas.

Family Tradition and a Truffled Mash Cottage Pie Recipe

Family tradition.

If you ask me what fond memories I have of my family as a child, it would be the homecooked food my mom prepared for us and the trips that we took when we were young. Now as a mom, it’s quite inevitable that I would like to pass down this tradition of providing homecooked food for my own little family. Well, of course, I can’t guarantee that my food is palatable like my mom’s but I’ll try. :p

Since Faith was born, my SIL has started a tradition of getting a real tree each Christmas. Now, this is something foreign to me. I came from a non-Christian and traditional Chinese family. Growing up, we have never had a Christmas tree. We didn’t decorate our apartment nor were there turkeys, hams or presents. Christmas, just wasn’t celebrated in the way I’ve imagined it, until I have a family of my own. Even then, I have to have the SIL to somehow kickstart for us.

This year, we had a slightly smaller tree because the SIL wanted the (small) children to participate more actively. How thoughtful! I do think it’s a better option too.

While the folks were decorating the tree, I was actually in my own kitchen preparing a dish to bring over. The hubs had kindly brought the kids to the in-laws’ earlier so that I could cook in peace. Oh, the joy of cooking, is back! I certainly enjoy baking and cooking, in the absence of the children because when they are around, they would keep calling me which frustrates me to the core. I mean, won’t you be irritated when you have to stop every five minutes to tend to the kids? I would!

I haven’t cooked anything, out of the usual menu that I have stored in my mind, for a long while and I fumbled a little for this dish. My timing was off, things were all over the place even though I had put everything in place, you know, mise en place?

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In the end, I was half an hour late for the gathering. By the time I reached the in-laws’, the Christmas tree was all decorated and the folks were just relaxing, waiting for my arrival. Oops.

Truffled Mash Cottage Pie

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1 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped or diced (up to you)
1 carrot, finely chopped or diced (up to you)
500g ground beef
150g portobello/ white mushroons, chopped
A splash of dry white wine
3 tbsp tomato paste
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp butter
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp truffle oil (or more if you like!)
Quail eggs (cooked and shelled)
Cheeses ( I used cheddar, mozzarella & parmesan)
salt and ground black pepper

:: Preheat oven to 200C.

:: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add in the bay leaf, onion and carrot and fry, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the ground beef and fry until browned, stirring often.

:: Add the mushrooms and fry for 3 minutes. Pour in the white wine and fry briefly until cooked off. Mix in the tomato paste. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.

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:: Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a large pan of salted, boiling water until tender; drain. Mash with butter, cream and truffle oil and season with salt and ground black pepper.

:: Place the beef mixture in an ovenproof dish. Add in the quail eggs and top with the mashed potato, spreading in an even layer.

:: Sprinkle over the cheeses.

:: Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden-brown.

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Family tradition.

I’m curious. What’s yours?

myFirst from Oaxis

The year-end school holidays is always one that I look forward to because it would be a long break and there would be plenty of time for the kids and adults to spend together. No rushing from classes to classes, it’s just ‘own-time-own-target’.

I had the places to visit listed in my internal calendar and what’s a visit without capturing the memories? By that, I mean taking pictures! I wanted the kids, the girl especially, to learn some basic photography skills and each of them would have to have a camera each, to avoid fighting. Hah. I have allowed the girl to use my previous camera and I know the boy would want to use it as well if he sees the sister having it.

Thankfully, myFirst camera from oaxis, along with two 8.5″ sketchpad, arrived in time for the school holidays and the kids were ecstatic, needless to say.

The girl was super happy when she saw the camera but I had to manage her expectation since it wasn’t meant for her. ;p

We have used both the camera and the sketchpad for a few weeks now so I thought it would be helpful to share our thoughts on the products with others.

Let’s talk about myFirst’s camera. It’s NOT a toy; it is a 5MP Full HD camera. Lightweight and small, I find it suitable for little hands, just nice for Dan. I have looked for a similar-kind of camera for him on the internet but most of them are either too bulky or they look like a toy. Oaxis’ myFirst camera is just right for him. With a few essential buttons to operate, it’s simple enough for a preschooler.

He has brought it with him when we went for our nature walks, museum visit, etc, and the camera has survived knocks and falls. Thankfully, it still works well. Phew.

At the recent Black Friday sale, this camera was on sale and it makes a good gift for friends with young kids. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to doing that, it was sold out! *Regret much*

This is a camera I like and we are blessed to own one!

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These are the two 8.5″ sketchpads that the kids received. We had a sketchpad (boogie board) which we bought from Taobao three years back but it didn’t survive long. I guess it’s partly due to the few falls it had so I’m hoping that these myFirst sketchpads could last us longer.

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The sketchpad is light and 8.5″ is just about the right size for our kids. Like most similar-type of sketchpads, it allows for fine-line drawing and provides a one-key erase. The stylus writes like a pen and it has a lock switch to prevent accident scribbles or erase, a function which I find especially useful.

Do check out their website for Oaxis’ full range of products!

Disclosure: Oaxis has kindly sent the myFirst camera and two sketchpads for review purposes. No other forms of monetary compensation are involved.