Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year

As I'm typing this, it's officially 1/01/2011!

A NEW YEAR HAS BEGUN,
and today is the first day.




Makes me feel like I should be doing something crazily memorable or important but all I am doing is cooking bolognese pasta and blogging at the same time :P


How was everyone's New Year's Eve?

Sam and I spent it playing wii, cooking Irish Lamb Stew for a cozy candlelit dinner (best stew I've ever had!) and then driving into town to catch the fireworks!!




It's already the New Year and I haven't blogged about Christmas in 2010 yet, so

Here I go!!!



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Christmas 2010 was probably the best Christmas I've had thus far in my 18 years of life.


Undoubtedly it wasn't as "magical" as the X'mas I had in Disney World, Orlando last last year, but it was magical in its own way!!!


My family's not really the sort to celebrate X'mas with each other, usually we have our own plans with our own friends but this year, I was determined to get everyone together and have a nice home cooked X'mas dinner together followed by fun classic board games afterwards!












Sweet corn, mushrooms and cauliflower buttered and seasoned with salt and pepper!

I didn't have time to take pics of the cooked food so here's some raw food pics for ya hahaha



Dunno how you guys spent your X'mas afternoon, but I spent mine marinating pork belly and skinning potatoes :3
















Roasted whole chicken!!!
With mustard herby marinade, garlic, onions, and a whole buncha other stuff!



Mmmm this was one of my family's fav dishes that day. I love cooking stuff in the oven, it's honestly a fail-proof method. I'm not a big fan of oily food, but I don't like my food that dry either, so the oven is THE solution!




First of all, it's fuss-free. You preheat the oven, set it to a certain temperature, season and marinate the food then pop it in - DONE. Only need to check back on it when it's close to being cooked. No fire to watch over, no splattering hot oil to burn yourself on... ♥


I'm NOT a fan of using the gas stove because I always imagine it exploding in my face (seriously) and I don't like fire and I don't like gas and did I mention explosions already??





Whether I'm baking desserts, or cooking fish / chicken / pork / whatever, anything that comes out of the oven always comes out PERFECT :D

Tender, juicy and absolutely flavourful!



















Roasted potatoes!!!


Ok last of uncooked food pictures lol. We also had grilled pork belly, baked salmon, mashed taters, honey baked ham with cherry tomatoes.. and stuff I don't remember...

















Besides savoury food, we also made sure to have pretty-looking sweets!!! ^.^

Sam and I made this on X'mas Eve! Everyone say HAI to my Gingerbread House!!



What is X'mas without a gingerbread house sitting beside the X'mas tree?! It is 100% edible, home made to the very first and last degree.



We are definitely rockin' the kitchen recently!


















Teehee so cute!!


















I'm gonna show you guys how to do this,
step-by-step at the end of this post!

Even though X'mas is already over, it's still SUPER fun to make with family and friends (not forgetting yummy) plus it doesn't have to be X'mas themed - just make it as happy looking and colorful as possible :)


















Christmas presents under our X'mas tree - the pile has grown quite a bit since the last time I twitpic-ed it!

I was so excited for everyone to open their presents after X'mas dinner - we spent the entire day shopping for the most appropriate well-thought out gifts that everyone needed / wanted and I think it paid off after seeing their reactions when ripping open the wrapping paper.

















If I'm gonna give someone a X'mas present, imma make sure they REALLY like it. I don't believe in giving half-assed gifts such as bath shower gels set or a bottle of wine..



Gee, unless your gift recipient is a soap junkie or an wine enthusiast, can your gift get any more mundane and insincere? Might as well not give anything!!

Even a hand made card is much better.


















Pretty decorations that are still hanging around my house!!



The silver beaded chain is actually a $2 necklace I bought from Bangkok, LOL I just hung some extra ornaments on it and taped it up coz my X'mas tree was already overflowing with ornaments and we had some spare ones.


















My roast chicken a-roasting!!!


















AND IT IS DONE!



Are you hungry now? Coz I know I am!

Sorry for the majority of no-flash, yellowish poor quality photos in this post. Since it was X'mas I didn't wanna make everyone pretentiously pose for the camera often or have bright flashes going off in their faces too much, so most of these shots are candid snaps taken in like 2 seconds!



















And dinner is SERVED
, ladies and gentlemen!!!




...I know, I need to work on my food presentation more :3

I find that most of the food I cook tastes really yummy but also looks doubtfully unappetizing. Which is quite sad since I know how food looks plays a huge part on whether you feel like eating it or not.

Perhaps that's why I enjoy baking so much too.. it allows me to be creative and make my desserts look pretty!

Makes up for the ugly food haha.







I was afraid there might be too much food for 7 people at first, but it turned out to be the exact amount we needed.

We had a bit of leftovers after everyone had their grand fill, but that was ok because I relished everything and had the leftovers for supper later on :P


















Let us feast!!!!!



















After a hearty dinner, wii + taboo + uno stacko + monopoly + unwrapping of presents awaits us!!



The whole X'mas day I had Christmas carols playing from our stereo.. I really miss walking around the house and hearing X'mas bells ringing through the rooms.

How is it that it's been barely a week since X'mas was over and I'm already missing it so much?


















But first, dessert!!!

Was gonna bake a traditional log cake but Janice got a complimentary one from MBS Sweet Spot so that was settled.


















♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Christmas gang!!


Thanks to these people, I had HEAPS of fun on Christmas :')


This picture is missing my maid, who was taking the picture for us lol. Did I mention I have a new maid yet?? I can't remember.. Anyway she's totally sweet + hardworking and so much better than all my previous ones!!


I know the pics are sooo pixelated but they were really TOO dark before I edited them, so after I brightened them they went all pixel spaz on me D:


















Grawrrrrrr monster sista!!111


















Me, momma and kukubird ♥ :')


Every time I look at pictures with 3 of us in it I feel a little bewildered. Why do I NOT look like them at all, when my mum and bro look so alike?

Was I really picked up from the dustbin?? T_T



















Kukubird and mother kuku bird LOL

Janice has the widest, toothiest, brightest winsome smile ever. So cute!



Me and Sam have been spending a lot of time with Jan and my bro recently.. Like almost every single day we'd be doing stuff together, like playing games, going out for movies, they even brought me to Nana (which I didn't like all that much.. I hate clubs) and cooking together.




I thought that once my brother got a new gf we'd be spending much lesser time together than we already were before but to my surprise, we're now closer than ever!! Funny how relationships don't bring just 2 people together, sometimes they bring the whole family together.

My mom loves going out with Sam and I too!! I miss my mommy, speaking of her :(



She's in Spain with Uncle John right now and I am TOTALLYYYYY jealous. I wonder if I'd ever get the chance to go there!!

Hope she buys back amazing souvenirs for me hehe :]

Even though I don't go on all her trips with her, she ALWAYS buys back tonsa goodies!!















Cute picture of my mum with the biggest laughing smile on her face ♥ ♥


Spot my killer whale "Jessica" cup on the table and Janice's home made jelly pieces!


















And possibly the most anticipated event that surrounds Christmas...





















PRESENT OPENING TIMEEEEEE!!





Hehe they were so meticulous about not ruining our carefully wrapped presents it was funny looking at them trying not to rip the wrapper. For me I love shredding my presents wrapping paper into tiny pieces :P

Like AHHHHHHHHHH PRESENT *jumps on it and rips it to pieces like a human paper shredder*

















Lol @ my mum and UJ's expressions!


I got UJ a bright turquoise / teal-ish metallic skinny tie from River Island - Uber sleek! I knew he would never get himself such a bold colored tie, so I figured someone needs to give him a wardrobe revamp.. hahaha


I got my mum a thick black fluffy winter coat from Zara - very fashionable chic and will keep her warm in Spain, because Sam and I overheard her talking about how cold it would be in Spain during winter plus how she lacked enough winter clothes!!


















UJ helping Mum to put on the coat...



I'm glad she appreciated what we picked out for her!!! She's very picky about her clothing and her style is quite unpredictable so I was taking a big risk by buying her winter clothing - if she didn't like it, that would be a lot of money wasted.

She was all-smiles throughout the night.


















Jer and Jan with their presents!!!

I got Jeremy a long sleeved casual smart navy blue shirt from River Island because he is damn vain (I LOVE RIVER ISLAND their style is immaculately top notch)



Janice received a Victoria's Secret candy-cane themed shower gel (my gift is not insincere ok she always stays over at our place and runs out of soap in our bathroom AND she loves Victoria's Secret)


We also got her a Marc Jacobs hot pink make up pouch (which she is now using!! yay) and a mad bling navy-blue-and-silver striped sequin dress from Forever 21!













Was kinda difficult to find her size for clothing, she's not even an XS.. she's like an XXS or something!



Oh yea *insert random funny moment here*

After Janice gave me my wrapped present, she called me into my bro's room coz she forgot to wrap up a box of Wilton's silicon heart shaped baking cups. As she was handing me the box I happily said, "Awww thank you!! It's very nice"


And I wanted to give her a thumbs up........



BUT I ACCIDENTALLY GAVE HER THE MIDDLE FINGER.


LOL don't ask me why the hell I did that, anyway when I gave her the middle finger instead of a thumbs up she looked at me like ":O?!" and I was like OMG sorry I mean



*puts middle finger down and lifts index finger up instead in panic*


HAHAHAH how stupid can I be!!!


Apparently very very extremely unthinkably stupid.

Anyway I got lucky the third time and finally gave her a thumbs up on my third try but by that time she and my brother were laughing so hard at me!!! I guess I'm much more used to giving the middle finger than a thumbs up so when I lifted my hand up it was a natural reaction.



FML
and F Janice's L for receiving a middle finger for giving me a X'mas present.



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Lastly, I got my maid two bling bracelets plus a silver heart shaped + key necklace.

As you can tell, the girls got the better end of the deal for presents haha. I guess it's just cuz girls are so much easier to buy for!!










Mum giving Sammy boy a present :P


















And it's a set of 3 different Levi's t-shirts!!! They're simple but very nice, the cutting fits Sam so nicely.

Look at that ear-to-ear grin on his cheeky face!




Actually everyone just looks so happy in this set of photos, that's why I love them so much! I think I'll go print some of these photos soon.



















Momma opening her present from Jan.... what could it be?!?!




















Ta-dah!!! A pair of dazzling Swarovski earrings!


And doesn't she look gorgeous? :)


















My present from Uncle John!!!!


















Stunning white gold plated necklace with precious stones!! I HEART this shade of pink! ♥


TY UJ!!

Mum gave me a bottle of Coco Chanel parfum (say it like the French do :P) and a bright Magenta silk bag from DKNY. So so pretty!!!!!


















Me pretending to give a surprised face epic phail.

How annoying is my expression?? Even I wanna smack myself!! Janice got me jewelry too :)



















Mum and UJ with our 6 foot tall X'mas tree :) Yes my mum's super tall, that's where I got my genes from!


















Sam and I in our living room with our $2 santa Daiso hats hehehehehehe


















I can't stop smiling whenever I look at these pictures!!



















Hahahaha I just had to do the freelance model syndrome right-hand-on-hip-stick-out-your-chest-and-cross-your-legs pose. It's ridiculously vain!




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After everyone's presents were unwrapped and kept away, we took out the board games to play!!

I thought we could watch a DVD or something but finally decided board games would be the best since we haven't played board games well.. since like ever.








And I just HAD to go out and buy my favourite classic games - Taboo and Uno Stacko!!! But Taboo is so expensive omg it's like 50 bucks.


















Janice beeping my mum coz she said the wrong word ahaha


















No words to describe this picture.. just LOL


















Tryna describe something to Sam but he never gets it!!!















Look at his stupid face he's like "WTF is this bitch sayin?!"
















By the time this 3rd picture was taken he's like "ARGHHHH what is it godaaammiitt!!!!"

And I'm just like "-___-"



LOLOLOL


































My mum cracked up sooo much it was hilarious to see her try explaining something to UJ but failing and getting super frustrated afterwards!



I remember there was once it was my turn to describe and my mum's turn to guess my word, and my word was "Affection" so I said


"Ok mum, since you are my mother, I want a lot of _________ what from you??"


She immediately replied "MONEY!" very loudly.





T____________T


FML x 9325932791275175.



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Another classic moment was when Janice had to describe her word to my brother and she said, "My in front is very what?"


My bro's reply: "Flat."



LOLOL



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2 hours of Taboo later, we played a round of Uno Stacko before going to sleep! By this time it was already past midnight.

They are so evil purposely making the top as unbalanced as possible!! I'm feeling a bit bitter since I was the loser in the end hahaha and my forfeit was to dance in front of all of them.


Nothing like good old fashioned board games fun!! Had all of us shrieking like little girls by the end of the night. Christmas brings out the kid in everyone ♥


































They took a video of my silly epic dancing, but no way am I gonna post it on my blog!! I look positively retarded. At least more than a few good chuckles came out of that!


I can't dance even if my life depended on it @_@





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It was nighty night after that!

Completely exhausted after all that screaming and laughing and cooking and eating. Sam and I were sitting on the couch after everyone had went to bed, just looking at our Christmas tree....

















When we decided to play with sparkles and he tried to be a flaming stuntsman :P


We went to sleep soon after!!



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And that was how I spent my Christmas!!!


I couldn't have imagined a better X'mas night with my family.




It wasn't perfect of course, but it didn't have to be, because nothing ever is truly perfect.

Perfection to me is making the darnest best out of what you already have and having a whale of a time while doing so, not chasing after idealistic fairytales.


All I know is, being light headed with happiness is definitely a good thing.. and it's enough for me :)




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Now, read on if you wanna know how to make a Gingerbread House like mine!!


First off, you'll need to buy groceries because these recipes call for quite a lot of ingredients.




Get the gingerbread house recipe HERE

And the royal icing "glue" recipe HERE




Allrecipes.com is my favourite recipe website!!! Easy navigation, simply layout, clear-cut instructions, trustworthy reviews and recipes plus it comes with pictures. And it's free.

It is awesome.






Ok, first follow the recipes above, and you can continue with further instructions from here!




You will need to make the gingerbread recipe batch about 2-3 times before you get enough to make a decent sized gingerbread house. We made 2 batches of both gingerbread and icing recipe and it turned out just the right amount.

You don't have to follow the recipe EXACTLY (like how it calls for 2 teaspoons molasses or whatever that is) because people tweak recipes all the time.







I added chocolate powder and cinnamon to my gingerbread recipe to make it much yummier!!







Your gingerbread mixture should look something like this after mixing. It may seem a little dry, but you'll need to knead it with your hands!



Now you need to decide how big you want your gingerbread house to be. You'll have to draw and cut out your own stencils, either using baking paper or just normal paper!



Make one long width for the sides of your house, and an even longer stencil for your roof, and a short one for the front of your house! If this sounds confusing and if you've no idea how to construct a simple house you can google for online stencils where you can simply print it out :D












After kneading, roll a chunk of dough onto a baking paper lined surfance and use a rolling pin dusted with flour to carefully roll out a thin sheet of gingerbread.


















Use a knife to trade the outlines of your stencils!



















And next, my ingenious idea - tracking brick patterns onto your unbaked dough with a knife!!!



You don't see brick patterns at all on other gingerbread houses on Google images but I think it adds a lovely feel to the whole thing :)








Once your gingerbread pieces have been baked (we baked at 13 mins each at 180 degrees) and cooled, you can now start constructing your gingerbread house!



Put your icing into a large piping bag, and start piping the "glue" for your gingerbread house to stick onto!








Pipe ON the edges of the walls, pipe inside and outside, every single edged surface basically!!!


Make sure your icing is crazy thick and sticky - if your icing isn't good, your gingerbread house is sure to crumble and all your efforts will be wasted.

















A different angle to show you guys how I piped every single edge with thick chunks of icing to make the structure steady enough to stand on its own.



While the icing is drying, you'll need to hold the pieces in place with your hands for a couple of minutes first.


















Don't worry about doing it neatly or if icing is dripping everywhere - the icing is meant to look like snow, so a little mess is just fine!



Here my gingerbread house is almost complete, after putting on the roofs it's ready for decoration, yay!!!! ^.^





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VOILA!!!!!!!!!!



My gingerbread house in its full gloryyyyyy! Almost too cute to eat. (it's still uneaten as of now)




It looks so magnificent just sitting on my living room table, completing the whole festive look! :)



















You can buy all the stuff I used to decorate my gingerbread house from the supermarket. Marshmallow candies, M&Ms, and go CRAAAAAAAZY with the icing!!!!


Doesn't the dripping icing really look like falling snow?





A sprinkle of icing sugar also adds the final snow flake touch to it!



















Impress your guests, family, friends and anyone who sees it!!!

Everyone will be so tempted to pick off little parts of it to eat :)



I would've posted this recipe to share with you guys before X'mas was actually over, but we only made this on X'mas Eve as an impromptu idea!


Nonetheless, I hope you guys like it.




I know I love it!



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Happy New Year everyone!!!!!


I'm not sure if I am ready for 2011 just yet but I'm sure it will be one heck of a year for me. 2010 seemed to have just passed me by.... it went by wayyyy too fast!!!



It's almost scary.

This year I'm going to be 19, and the next I will be 20!! Crap.




I hope you guys have a fabulous year ahead of you and will continue staying with me and going through this journey of life together, I love my sweet dear readers! ♥


xoxo,
Jess