Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Nestum Biscuits



Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is around the corner! I try to bake some homemade new year goodies every year, but haven't managed to do so for the past few years. Last year, I actually bought the ingredients, but never got around to actually baking anything. This year, I was determined to bake *something*! Although I had initially planned to do two types of cookies, I eventually only managed one - Nestum Biscuits.

Source

Nestum All Family Cereal (not the baby cereal), which interestingly seems to be only available in Singapore and Malaysia, is a hot cereal made from wheat, rice and corn (with sugar mixed in). It is super yummy when mixed with Milo. And of course, when made into Nestum Biscuits.

I got this recipe from my Mum (thanks, Mum!) who used to bake this when I was younger. It is a simple recipe, but has huge quantities. I was contemplating halving, or even thirding (yes, I am aware that is not actually a word) it, but in the end, I used it as is. I did not even convert the measurements from thr English to metric because my weighing scale happened to have English measurements on it as well. However, for the benefit of my readers, I'll include the approximate metric measurements as well.

I made these cookies in the middle of the night when the Little Ones were sleeping. Because I was hurrying to finish before they woke to look for me, by the time I remembered to take pictures, I only managed to take one.

Ingredients
1 lb (450 g) butter, softened
1 lb (450 g) fine or caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 lb (900 g) flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (225 g) Nestum
Glaced cherries, cut into small pieces. (I cut each cherry into 8 pieces)
A little more Nestum for coating. (I did not measure, but it was 25 to 30 g more. You could put it in a shallow plate, but I put mine in a ziploc bag for less mess.)

Method
1) Preheat oven to 180C.
2) Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
3) Meanwhile, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
4) Add Nestum to the flour and mix well.
5) Add eggs and vanilla extract into butter mixture and beat some more.
6) Add the flour-Nestum mixture into the butter-egg mixture and mix well. I suggest adding the flour-Nestum mixture a little at a time, rather than all at one shot, to prevent flour all over the counter.
7) Roll the mixture into small balls.
8) Put the rolled balls (some at a time, obviously) into the bag of Nestum and shake them around to coat them.
9) Arrange balls onto lined baking sheet.
10) Flatten each ball slightly and place a piece of cut cherry in the middle.

11) Bake till golden brown. Mine took about 20 mins.

This made 168 cookies. Since we really should not be eating all that by ourselves, we'll give some to our parents.

Did you make anything for the upcoming Lunar New Year?
What are some traditional festive baked goods you enjoy?!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Caterpillar to Butterfly Craft


We had a wonderful opportunity to observe the metamorphosis of a butterfly from a caterpillar. In order to reinforce the concept that caterpillars change into butterflies, we re-read the ever wonderful The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Little Man and I also did this craft I came across on the DLTK site.

You'll need:
Clothes pegs
Pom poms
White glue
Kitchen paper
Paints (we used our Do A Dot Art Marker and Crayola Finger Paints )

First, we made our caterpillars.

I spread white glue over some wooden clothes pegs.

Then we placed pom poms on the glue, making sure to push the pom poms fiirmly into the glue so that they do not come off easily when we were done.

While the caterpillars were drying, we painted the kitchen paper with the markers.

And paints

Which he spread with a brush.

When the kitchen paper paintings were dry, I gathered them in the middle, length-wise, and secure with the clothes peg caterpillar.

Ta-da! Beautiful butterflies!




Little Man: 1 year 7 months

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Butterfly Blot Painting



Inspired by our little butterfly, we made a few butterfly craft. This is what I call Butterfly Blot Painting.

First, I folded pieces of paper into two, and cut out half a butterfly shape, ensuring that the body was along the crease.

When unfolded, tada! A butterfly!

Next, add blots of paint on one half of the butterfly.

Or all over. It doesn't matter.

If you wish, you may smoosh the paint to mix it up.

Or not. It really doesn't matter.

Then fold the butterfly on itself and press down to spread the paint. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures here.)

Open it up to reveal your beautiful butterfly (butterflies)!



Little Man: 3 years 7 months

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Finger Painting

Little Lady was not very interested in finger painting the last time I tried it with her. However, she was very curious when Little Man was doing his butterfly crafts and wanted in on the action too.

So I set up some paint for her to explore.


Are you sure, Mama?


This isnt *too* bad.

I wonder what will happen if I move my finger back and forth?

Smear, smear, smear.

What's this stuff on my fingers?

Ah well, back to smearing.


It feels squishy.


Hard at work.

It's really squishy!

What *is* this stuff?!?


Hmm... Blue!


Spread, spread, smear, smear!


Let's try it on the table too!


Missed a spot!


And another!


All done!


Little Lady: 18 months

Linking to:

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Henna Adventures!

Chinese New Year is coming, and it was time to colour my hair.  I have a lot of grey hair.  And I do mean A. LOT.  Part of the reason is because I'm not very young (I refuse to admit I'm old), and part of it is because I started getting grey/white hair at a young age.  I believe I got my first white hair in secondary school.

Anyway, it has been some time since I coloured it.  Almost a year, I think.

I am very particular about colouring my hair - I am only interested in colouring the grey, and do not wish to change the colour of my black hair.  As a result, I tended to use only semi-pemanent colouring. This also meant that the colour fades after a while.  Although things have improved in recent years with ammonia-free colouring which does a decent job of colouring the grey without affecting the black much.

The previous time I coloured my hair, I used henna, a plant dye traditionally used for applying intricate but temporary tattoos on brides' hands and feet in middle-eastern and Indian weddings.

Picture borrowed from www.bridalpk.com

My Mum had coloured her hair with henna before, and the effect was very nice.  She convinced me to try it, and I liked it too!  Not too bold or wild (I'm boring - I've only ever chosen dark brown when I coloured my hair in the past), and yet different.

I like henna because it only colours the white hair, leaving it bright orange.  Because I still have quite a bit of black, there is a nice peekaboo effect, rather than me going around with a whole head  of bright orange hair.

In addition, it conditions the hair too!  My hair feels really soft after I applied henna to it.

The only downsides to using henna are:

1) It is messy.   You basically mix the henna powder with hot water to make a paste and smear that all over your hair.  It stains skin really easily, so you have to ensure that it is not on your face or ears or neck.  Which is not as easy to keep track of as you'd think, because you're trying to ensure that you did not miss any spots on your hair.  I brilliantly forgot to use a glove this time, so now I have orange hands.

 
The good news is that it fades after several washes.  The picture above was taken four days after I had coloured my hair, but the palm of my hand is still pretty orange (contrast to the back of my fingers).  Imagine what it was like on the day of!

2) It is time-consuming.  It is best to prepare the paste in advance so that the colour can develop, so you'll have to remember to do that step ahead of time.  After the applying, it also needs a lot of time to set.  I let mine sit for about 3 hours.


 
Can you see the nice peekaboo effect?  All that muted orange was white/grey!
 
Looking through the pictures, I realise that I did not do a very thorough job, as I can still see quite a bit of white.  I'll try to find some time before New Year to colour it again, but I'm not very hopeful.
  We'll see how it goes.

What are you doing to prepare for Chinese New Year?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

iHerb.com Review

I discovered the joys of online shopping only after I had children.  Specifically while on confinement, that wonderful, yet horrible month immediately after delivery when one is under house arrest to rest and recuperate.  

Now that I'm no longer on confinement, I still like to shop online for certain items.  My main online purchases are children's clothes, toys, books, supplements and toiletries.  I buy these online for two main reasons. First, convenience.  Shopping online means that I can shop in the comfort of my own home, without having to worry about the where to feed the kiddos, or having to find a quiet place for them to nap.  I can also shop in the middle of the night when they are asleep, which is basically when I have some uninterrupted time to myself.  Until someone wakes up looking for me.

The second reason why I like shopping online is that things are so much more expensive in Singapore!  Yes, even after factoring the shipping, many things are still much cheaper when bought online!  Of course, the shipping costs do sometimes mean that the same item costs about the same as they do here, or even more costly, so you still have to be a smart shopper.  Generally, however, things are cheaper when bought online.  Especially when there are sales.

Supplements, for example are sooo much cheaper when bought from online store iHerb.com.  I discovered iHerb when chatting with some other mums, and I love it!  The savings are significant, the shipping is fast, reliable and cheap.





For example, one supplement which I buy for the kiddos is Childlife's Echinacea.  When I first started buying this, it was not available in Singapore.  It is now, in one of the large vitamin and supplement chains here.  At the chain, it is selling for S$29.96 (S$23.96 for members).  On iHerb, it goes for US$8.95 (currently on offer at US$6.89, which works out to about S$8.71).  

Significant savings, right?  And its not just for this one product!

And the shipping does not kill either.  To ship to Singapore, we have three choices.  The cheapest is via Singpost.  For a flat fee of US$4, your purchases (up to 10 lbs or 4.5 kg) will be delivered within 4 to 8 working days, with a tracking number.  You can also choose DHL Express for a flat fee of US$8.  This will get you your package within 2 to 4 days, also with tracking number, but is limited to only 8 lbs.  UPS costs US$24, but is good for mega purchases, as the maximum is 150 lbs.

I recently received a package from iHerb.  I had used the Singpost option as it was the cheapest.


Extra space was filled to prevent the contents of the box from sloshing around too much.


Fragile items and spillable items with extra protection.

What's inside the box.

If you are a first time buyer on iHerb, you can get a discount of US$10 for purchases more than US$40, and US$5 if you buy less than US$40 worth simply by using the coupon code LOG568.

So what are you waiting for?  

Disclaimer: if you use the discount code above, I will a small commission on your purchase.  So that's a win-win situation for us both!  










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