Memories are made of these…

How do you preserve memories? Through photos, no?

I like to take pictures and the number of them increases by leaps and bounds when the kids came along. Is it the same for you? And it most definitely warms my heart as I browse the photos taken in the past. Awww…memories!

Recently, Canon threw a cozy Christmas gathering to a group of families and gifted us with some precious presents – wonderful time with families and sweet memories in the form of pictures, the printed way.

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When we first arrived, we spent some time with the young ones over duplo and painting of cardboard boxes. Faith has always loved Lego and Duplo so it’s no wonder that she found her way to the blocks.

We were then introduced to the new Canon PIXMA TS8070 printer and were invited to have some family fun with it! Before that, each family was gifted with a picture frame that is made of of photographs of our loved ones. Oh, dear Canon, you have done it again! What a thoughtful and meaningful gift!

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We were definitely excited as we unwrapped the gift.

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How lovely! Pictures of our daily life from our Instagram account! The kids and I were thrilled and I was personally captivated by the quality of the print. We were later told that we could try our hands on the printer and to experience its ease of use. Yay!

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These are the printers that made those pictures possible! If you observe, they are not really bulky because they are designed to fit small offices and homes in form and function so they are in a sleeker form to blend seamlessly into our study or home office.

We wasted no time in printing our photos! Since many of my photos are in squares for Instagram and Dayre purposes, I’m thankful that these printers could print them without the need for resizing. Very convenient! And because the Canon PIXMA TS8070 printers are designed for easy set-up in a wireless environment, we can readily print the pictures from our mobile phones and tablet PCs in out-of-home environments such as weddings and parties. Think photo booths!

Other ideas (for own reference):

  • craft for playdates
  • homelearning materials
  • souvenirs for home parties or celebration
  • wedding
  • travel scrapbook

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Faith and I used the photos that we have printed to do some craftwork and made a photo album from the materials that were supplied to us. It was a good bonding session!

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Ta-da! Is this nice? I’m really impressed by the quality of the print! We can definitely do lots more craftwork with these prints and  could even design and print our own customised cards. Best is they are reasonably priced at $299!

The family had a wonderful and meaningful time with Canon Singapore that day. Thank you for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to ‘play’ with the printers. The following are some precious moments captured that day by the good folks at Canon. I thought I should park them here for my own keepsake. 😉

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Canon Singapore

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Here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas, from the Queks!

Our family was invited by Canon Singapore and Claudia of The Loving Mom to this Christmas party. Photographs used in this post belong to Canon Singapore. The ones in squares are squarely mine. 😉

Christmas with the Queks – 2016 edition

It has become a tradition, that we dress up a real Christmas tree during that time of the year. For the past few years, we have involved Faith in the activity but she wasn’t that keen. This year, her enthusiasm showed.

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Somehow, I find that she has matured a lot over the past one year. Is it because she has an added responsibility as a sister? Or is it just an age thing? In the above, she was trying to sharpen her colour pencils and the brother meddled with them because he wanted to be involved, just like his sister.

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Busy bee…

This year, she was the main person doing up the tree. The adults were resting by the side, watching her dress the tree up. So focused but the tree was heavily decorated on one side only!

Dan wanted to help too and managed to put up some of the decorations. He was mighty pleased with himself!

Are you ready for Christmas?

Sending sweet treats the Sophisca way

If you are looking for Christmas gifts that are practical and cute at the same time, head down to Sophisca! It is Taiwan’s very first specialty candy brand that was started in 1997 and has since established itself as Taiwan’s beloved and top confectionery retailer. Sophisca’s saccharine staples are an array of candied fruits, soft bonbons, chocolates and more!

Last weekend, the family headed down to its media preview of their Christmas collection at Marina Square and yours truly went a little crazy over their very adorable packaging. Thankfully, their prices are really reasonable so I didn’t burn a big hole in the pocket when I left.

These Christmas Reindeer and Santa gift boxes are only $4.90 each.

The daughter had a good time trying out their candies and she had reached her quota of sweet treats that day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So cute….at $7.90.


These are at $11.90 each.

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This is my favourite corner. Just look at the designs on the boxes. And some are really local-flavoured with our beloved Singlish words on them.

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I purposely chose some of these to give to a Taiwanese family who will be leaving Singapore for good. They have always been fascinated by our colloquial English so I thought these are apt. There are three slices of chocolates in each box ($2.90 per box).

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Sidetrack. The girl has officially taken over the ownership of my Canon camera. So that day, she was just happily snapping pictures.

 But I got her to concentrate and pick some of the boxes as gifts to our friends.

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I prefer chocolates to candies and got this box of different-flavoured chocolates as well. Actually, I honestly think the packaging got me to part with my cash.

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So that night, we had our farewell dinner for our beloved friends whom we have met in Boston.

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They were family to us when we were all in a foreign land and naturally we grew close to one another. So that night, we had food, cakes, chocolates and laughter and sent them off with our blessing.

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So long, farewell! It’s time to say goodbye!

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Disclaimer: The family was invited to Sophisca’s media preview and were treated to complimentary goodie bags for the kids. However, items purchased as mentioned were from our own pocket.

It’s time to put up the Christmas decor!

It’s less than a month to Christmas and boy, am I excited!

I love Christmas because it celebrates joy and peace on earth and it’s definitely a good opportunity to share with loved ones the reason for this season. Each year since Faith turned 2YO, we would do Christmas crafts together and displayed them around the house. This year, with the addition of Dan, things get a little more complicated and I think it’s better that we make do with ready-made decorations.

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The kind folks at Christmas Tree Singapore sent some of their products for us to try out which was absolutely timely. There were window stickers, a room decorating kit, ceiling decoration pack and a Pin the Nose Snowman Pack.

We didn’t lose any time in decorating Faith’s room with these products. Wanting to give some ownership to the girl, I got her to decide how she wanted to decorate the room with the decorating kit that comprises the following:

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We had to leave Dan out of this for the moment because it’s not age-appropriate for him? 😉

She chose these graphics to be pasted on the wall and we are still thinking of how to incorporate the rest. Perhaps, we could use them for a Christmas party that is coming up in a few weeks’ time!

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Next, we worked on the snowflakes window stickers. I’ve decided to get both to decorate our common restroom with the stickers. This time round, Dan was involved and it was a simple but fun activity! We pasted some on the car windows as well and they really did give a nice feel during the ride!

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I love the Pin The Nose Snowman Pack the most because it’s a really fun and exciting game for the kids. Our family hosted CG (Cell Group) on one of the evenings and I set this up, much to the excitement of the kids. This game is simple. The kids will be blindfolded and each one is to find their way to the snowman’s nose (by the direction given by the others) and pin their nose as near to his nose as possible.

That evening, there was so much laughter in the room! I really love this game. Simple yet so fun. Then the picture could be left on the wall, as part of the decoration of the room.

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We were left with this set of ceiling decoration which proved to be slightly difficult to put up. We would definitely need more adult help to put this up. I thought this will make a great Christmas decoration piece if we are having a home party. But be warned. Both the kids just want to pull down the cute graphics.

If you are thinking of some Christmas decoration, do browse Christmas Tree Singapore for their available products. They have  Christmas trees as well and you might want to learn about the types of Artificial Trees available, just for info’s sake.

Lastly, hop on over to Floral Garage if you’re in for some flowers!

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Our family is gifted the above mentioned sets of Christmas decorations for review purposes. All pictures are ours unless otherwise stated. Opinions are our own. 

Christmas feel at the Flower Dome (Gardens by the Bay)

Christmas is approaching and if you want to catch the festive mood in rainy Singapore, there is a place you should go – Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. It’s beautiful, I tell you!

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It was the beginning of the year end school holiday and while the men were at work, the wives decided to bring the kids out to experience Christmas cheer.

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Popo and the grandchildren

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You will get wowed by the display. Simply awesome and magical!

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Cocooned in a giant glass globe, a lovely ballerina beckons visitors to come forward, as a band of toy soldiers and an angelic choir join in the merry medley. (Source: Gardens by the Bay).

I was naturally excited and wanted to take pictures of the kids with the beautiful background. If you have kids, you will know that it is rather impossible to take a picture in which all the kids are smiling and with their eyes open. Oh well…

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To have a decent pic, one must snap quickly or else you risk getting photobombed!

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The whole troop. Remember to visit ya?

How’s your 2015?

It’s the last day of 2015 and I’m not sure what to think of it. What have I achieved this year?

I was just telling the hubs the other day that I felt I have done nothing much and 2015 seemed like a very plain year and he exclaimed, “You gave birth to a baby!”

Oh yes, I forgot about that.

I guess that day was one of the many bad days I have had in December.

Faith was down with cough since the beginning of this month and I was exhausted by the experience. We tried both the western and eastern medication and it caused much stress for me. To add to that, she was difficult to deal with and I found myself having to discipline her EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s really a tough battle. I know it’s not easy for her, she having to deal with the cough and then rashes and to have to share her parents with her brother. I wish I could empathize with her but only Mr Anger showed up.

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Non-stop coughing

This Christmas, I couldn’t feel the cheer at all and let it pass by silently.

Since today is the last day of 2015 and things have gotten better this week, I thought I should pen down some thoughts and reflections.

The beginning of this year saw Faith entering school for the first time and I was relieved and thankful that throughout this year, she has expressed joy in attending school and loves her principal, teachers and friends. This holiday, she has asked me (countless times) when school will reopen. Soon, my dear, soon! During the last Parent-Teacher-Meeting, her report was stellar and it’s really a joy to see her grow in all aspects.

Because I had three and eventually four hours to myself while the girl was in school, I could accept more cake orders. I started taking orders from strangers and the experience had been enriching and satisfying.

Obviously, the highlight for this year is the birth of Daniel. I’m thankful for an uneventful pregnancy and that I could experience a natural birth for him. And you thought that things would be all right for me since I have experience with the firstborn but this time round, I was completely caught off-guard.

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It isn’t that Daniel was a difficult baby. On the contrary, he’s easy to take care of. It’s Faith. I wrote about this in an earlier post and things got so bad that I started disliking her. How is this possible? It happened to me. I was overwhelmed with having to deal with all things related to the home and a baby and the last thing I want is her tantrums. I found myself shouting at her which I wouldn’t need to in the past (she was really a very cooperative and obedient child). All of a sudden, I feel that I’m a terrible mom which resulted in me having a depressing December.

Things got better this week. Perhaps, I just need to get the hang of things and have a routine of sorts. I have chosen not to engage any external form of help with the household chores and I have to learn to work more smartly around the house. With just a child, it’s easy. Now with a toddler and a baby, it calls for swift work and at times, a compromise on cleanliness. I can’t go for perfection anymore. I have also learnt to give more personal time to Faith which isn’t easy since my priority would be for the baby.

Three months. I learnt these in three months and I fully expect that there’re lots more to learn in the coming months… and years.

I hope things will be more positive when Faith goes back to school. I guess there will always be challenges along the way and that’s how we grow as parents. It’s really a tough job. Brace up, fellow parents!

Christmas at the Queks, 2015

Christmas cheer for the kids

It started off with a simple plan of getting a few kids to learn baking since a friend’s daughter wanted to learn how to bake a cupcake. I didn’t want to mess up my own kitchen and asked her to book a function room in her condo. Then we thought we should just extend the invitation to the rest of the kids in our CG and in the end, from three girls, we had 12 children and 2 babies.

It’s highly ambitious to get the children to do hands-on baking and in the end, I decided that I should just do the demonstration and get them to decorate the cupcakes themselves, with the help of their mothers. The cupcakes were baked and the Italian Meringue Buttercream made the night before. I probably could use the cupcakes baked on the spot but since I have not tested the oven, I decided not to risk and bring along the cupcakes as a form of a back-up plan.

For this post, I will list some of the things to look out for when planning such a programme for the children.

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:: If possible, check that the oven is in working condition and get familiarised with it before the actual day.

:: Choose a recipe that is straight-forward and easy to follow, for the sake of the kids.

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:: Randomly pick the kids to help in the various stages, especially the ones who look bored. Since they can’t do the hands-on themselves, just getting them to help a bit here and there would sustain their interest.

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Before the kids decorated their cupcakes, I did a demo with one cupcake so that they would know exactly what was expected of them.

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:: If it helps in classroom management, rearrange the kids in their seating positions. Familiarity with each other (for the kids) may not be good for the facilitator. Get the older kid to sit with the younger one so that the former could render assistance.

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So pleased with their work!

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I had wanted to go on with decorating the gingerbread cookies which I had baked the day before but in the end, I abandoned that idea. I was getting tired! In the end, I just hand out the cookies to them so that they could bring home and eat. And yes, they devoured the cupcakes on the spot.

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We went on to get the children to work on craft using styrofoam cones and pipe cleaners and pom pom balls, all sponsored by a fellow mom.

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You would have thought that the children were tired after the cupcake decorating session but nope, they were more energetic than ever. Thankfully, this backup plan worked! Look at how motivated they were in completing their Christmas trees.

:: Always plan backup activities apart from the main one.

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What an expression! This girl doesn’t like to be posing in front of the camera anymore!

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After the craft, our lunch had not arrived yet. The kids were getting restless and thankfully, I had a book with me and fished it out and read to the kids. It’s the nativity story.

:: Always bring along a book for it will always come to be of good use. Reading is fun!

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Lunch came just as I finished reading the book. Thank God! The kids went for a short waterplay session at the kids’ pool outside after lunch and then headed home after that.

I felt so refreshed after hosting this gathering with my CG-mate. In a way, I want to return the favour to all the mothers present because they have blessed me in one form or another.

It is really more blessed to give than to receive.

 

Christmas wreath, 2015 edition

December is here! And that means Christmas is approaching! Similar to the previous year, I would be busy scouting for craft ideas for Faith and the first craft that we did was the Christmas wreath.

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For the 2014 edition of the wreath, all Faith needed to do was to tear some papers into pieces and paste them onto the round cardboard using double-sided tape. This year, I got her to use the glue and wrap the cardboard using green and red origami paper.

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The materials are all recycled and I used whatever stuff I have in my craft bag.

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So Faith just needed to follow the red, green, red, green pattern to complete her share of the wreath which was an easy task, I feel. Thereafter, I got her to flatten some small cupcake cases and paste it on the cardboard.

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Her part. Completed.

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Next, I used a brown string and encircled the wreath with it, followed by attaching two bears at the bottom of the wreath. The wreath would look better with brown bears but those are the ones we have. It’s better than nothing!

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These bears will welcome you if you visit us. I’m hoping I could read more stories about Christmas to Faith and spend some time working on more craft. Let’s just see how things will progress. 😉

Merry Christmas!

I know it’s a bit late to wish everyone a blessed Christmas but I’ve been really busy these days. Days leading up to this wonderful day, I was spending time with the family, bringing Faith on outings with her cousins and meeting up with her playmates. On top of these, there were also cake orders so blogging has taken a step back. There are many memories that I want to record but I just couldn’t find the time! What has added to this agony is the fact that my macbook is showing signs of dying for it runs at an incredibly slow speed, making blogging a real pain. Do you face the same situation as me? ;(

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Anyway, this post is about some Christmas cake orders that I had and I thought I should just blog about it, for memories’ sake and also for my own personal record. Hah.

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On Christmas eve, my friend ordered 20 cupcakes from me and asked specifically that they be decorated with fondant. There are many Christmas cupcake toppers on pinterest and I love the tutorial of the Santa Claus from The Designer Cake Company. Aren’t they adorable? I ❤ pinterest a lot!

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I love it when cakes/ cupcakes are packed in boxes! It’s an exhilarating feeling, I kid you not!

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An ex-colleague ordered this chocolate cake with topping cream and chocolate ganache. In it, I put in various kinds of fresh fruits namely raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries. Expensive fruits, I must say, if you are from this part of the world. It’s a small cake and it looks so elegant. Makes me very happy!

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The last cake for this Christmas season is this log cake. I had wanted to bake it for a Boxing Day gathering. Alas, the meeting was cancelled Since I had bought the toppers and they couldn’t last me for another year, I thought I should just go ahead and bake the log cake, using a light chocolate sponge cake.

(A)
4 eggs
120g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
95g all-purpose flour
15g cocoa powder

(C)
70g hot melted butter

1. Grease and line a shallow pan (I used a 25 x 25 x 2cm). Set the oven to 190C.

2. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

3. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended

4. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Remove it from the pan immediately when done.

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I turn it into another parchment paper that is sprinkled with icing sugar so that the sponge cake will not stick so much to the parchment paper.

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 With the seam side down, let the cake cool completely before proceeding to the next step.

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Unroll the sponge cake, brush a layer of sugar syrup (with chocolate extract) and put a layer of whipped topping cream and add in cherries (those that come in the frozen pack).

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Roll the sponge cake back! It will look a little ugly at this point in time but not to worry, you can always beautify it with chocolate ganache!

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Since I’m using a small cake board, I have to divide the sponge cake into 2 portions and since the smaller one at an angle so that it will attach nicely to the main one (as in the pic).

20141225_155038Spread chocolate ganache on the cake and use the tines of a fork to make the lines. Add the toppers and sprinkle some icing sugar to create the snowy look and…

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There you have it, a simple log cake! I got my family to taste it and my mum who is oh-so-critical approves of it! Yay!

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Once again, have a blessed Christmas! Hope to find more time to add more entries on this space!

Just a simple Christmas tree

Following the wreath, the next Christmas craft that I got Faith to do was a simple Christmas tree. We didn’t have the space in our apartment to put up a real tree and I thought a DIY one would be more meaningful.

Bought a stack of huge origami paper from Diaso and cut out the shape of a tree using green against the red paper. All Faith needed to do was to paste the coloured circles (from Diaso again!) on the tree. Easy right? It’s definitely good for getting her to practise peeling off the stickers but to get her to paste the coloured circles randomly tested my patience.

20141203_154523-1The little girl would paste the same coloured circles in a linear fashion, much to my frustration. I tried as much as possible to let her do it her way but the perfectionist in me could not stand it! So, halfway through her attempt, I directed her to paste the stickers in a more spaced-out manner so that the colours are more evenly distributed. ;p

20141203_160831This is a very achievable task for toddlers and probably takes about 15 minutes?
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20141204_090452-1The completed Christmas tree!

Faith’s Christmas Wreath, 2014 edition

I love Christmas because somehow the festive season gives me much cheer. There are also loads of opportunity to expose Faith to craft related to Christmas. I hope to work with her on as many age-appropriate ‘projects’ as possible. First up is the Christmas wreath.

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This is really achievable for the little one. Obviously, I have to provide the round cardboard for her and to tap it with double-sided tape. You can get the kid to tear the paper into pieces and then she could paste them after she has peeled the tape off.

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I’m actually not confident that F would like this activity since she is not a very ‘craft’ person (from what I have observed from her playdates) but surprisingly, she could stay focussed until most of the space was filled up by the green scraps of paper.

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And she completed it and gave me a smile. Awesome! I did up the rest of the work by making a bow at the bottom of the wreath using ribbon and making a hook at the top of it using wire. And that’s it! Easy?

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The Christmas wreath is now hanging on our door. It’s something that she can be proud of since it is her work.

😉

Christmas wreath pull-apart cupcakes

Often, when we bake cupcakes, we will lay them out on trays or cupcake stands. How about a different way of presenting them?

I did a pull-apart version for the Christmas wreath. This is made for a celebration for the SAHMs!

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I made these vanilla cupcakes first and lay them out in the shape I want.

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Then, I apply mint frosting using a star tip, making sure that the frosting of each cupcake touches the next one.

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I thought this is actually good enough after putting some Christmas sprinkles. But since I have made some figurines and decoration using fondant, I put them up when I reach the site.

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There you have it. The completed version.

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And this is how you eat it, just pull each one apart and pop it into your mouth!

😉

Sugar art disaster on a rainy day

As if working in a humid area is not bad enough, it just had to rain when I was working on some  Christmas figurines.

It all started rather well as I worked on a reindeer…

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It was a rainy day that day…

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And the reindeer perspired, and then went through a process of melting…

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A second reindeer has to be made and this time round, I placed it quickly into a container, complete with a desiccating agent.

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These two are preserved, and I made another Santa.

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The collection of Christmas cake/cupcake toppers.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

The weekend saw us busy ourselves with the decorating of a ….Christmas tree!

It’s our first time having a real tree, courtesy of the sister-in-law who wanted to bring on some cheer to the folks. It’s rather fun, I must say!

On reflection, I’m thankful that the SIL bothered to do such things. In our busy and practical society, many of us tend to forgo such activities and would rather rest during this season. After all, we have worked hard throughout the year, so why do this? Gimme a break, you might say. But, it does lift the spirit, in my case, at least. I guess it all boils down to the heart attitude. If you decide that all these are unnecessary, and is a total waste of time, then perhaps you will go to the event with a hardened heart, a downcast spirit and a grim face. And this does affect the company you are with.

The Christmas season should be welcome with wide open arms. It’s a time that we remember that Christ came, to bring hope to the fallen world. It’s a season of giving, not just of material goods but of ourselves. He came so that we might have life, life abundant (John 10:10).

So, peeps, let’s bring on the Christmas cheer… 😉

The little one was involved as well!

The little one was involved as well!

Faith was intrigued by the baubles and stayed entertained by them throughout the session.

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Step-by-step, we’ll make it. The guys setting up the lights.

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And then, the star!

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We dressed Faith up in santa’s clothing which a friend sent over to us. How apt! But the little one wasn’t very comfortable in it!

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I sent some cheer by baking an adaptation of the peppermint mocha cupcakes.

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And so, the Christmas spirit is definitely here to stay…for a while, at least. 😉