An Afternoon With The Ghouls At Monster High

During weekends, if we can help it, we prefer not to hang out in the malls.  Crowded places and the challenge of looking for a parking spot is not really our thing.  So if we’re back home in the afternoons on a weekend, we like to kick back with a siesta and just relax…well, the adults anyway.  The kids?  They love catching a movie on the telly…and just last weekend, we had the perfect one for this purpose. :)

Who’s up for “Frights, Cameras, Action!”, the latest adventure movie from the Monster High ghouls?  Well my kids certainly were!  To be honest, it was our first time being exposed to Monster High and it was certainly an extraordinary experience!  Err…actually since it’s a Monster High thing, it’s called a boovie rather than a movie…

Yeah, that’s the unique thing about Monster High.  It changes ordinary words to make new ones that reflect ghouls, monsters, scary stuff…you get the idea.  Takes a bit of getting used to though, but it’s all in great fun.

Before you think this is a scary movie that is unsuitable for kids, I beg to differ.  True, it’s about ghouls, but these are cool ghouls and aren’t scary at all.  By the way, girls are referred to as ghouls in Monster High terminology.  The Monster High dolls are inspired by monster movies, sci-fi horror and thriller fiction, which makes them different from your normal fashion dolls in the market.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about the boovie proper, but halfway through, I realise it was all really entertaining fun.  My daughter especially enjoyed the boovie because she had the Draculaura doll with her too, who was the main character.  We did run into a minor issue with the packaging of the Draculaura doll though; the plastic packaging thread was sewn through the doll’s head and affixed to the packaging box, hence when we tried to remove the plastic packaging thread, some part of it still remained intact in the doll’s head.  It would be great if this issue could be addressed.

As for the boovie, I’m not going to reveal any spoilers but I will just say that this is a colorful adventure that takes the Monster High ghouls around the world; from Londoom to New Goreleans to Hauntlywood (see what I mean about the words used?), “Frights, Cameras, Action!” is a light-hearted, entertaining show for all to enjoy.  Of course, being a kids boovie, don’t expect strange plots and twists.  Just watch it for the fun of it, and treat it as a perfect time to spend with the kids.

I asked my kids to give me their honest opinions on the boovie.  My 8-year old son rates the boovie 5-stars because he says “the scenes are very realistic and I like it that they refer to actual places in the world.”  My 5-year-old daughter rates it 5-stars too because “it is an exciting show with a happy ending”!  We all know kids’ opinions can be trusted, yes?

The Monster High ghouls are now available at all major toy retailers and department stores. The “Frights, Cameras, Action!” DVD boovie can be found in major video stores.

(Note: For the purpose of this review, I was provided with a copy of the “Frights, Cameras, Action!” DVD and a Monster High doll)

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Minestrone Soup: Healthy Homemade Goodness

Often times our dinner du jour is a one pot meal, or something close to that.  In the recent weeks, as I explore a variety of vegetarian meals and try to cut down on meat, I’ve fallen back on Minestrone Soup as the perfect dinner meal for my family.

I tried cooking this sometime back and was surprised that hubby actually liked it, claiming that he felt healthier after eating it.  I’ve cooked it a few more times after that, and even though the kids don’t really enjoy it a whole lot, they down their bowl anyway.

Well, the beauty of the Minestrone Soup is that you can pretty much add in anything you have on hand and not risk spoiling the flavor.  On the contrary, you might enhance it further too!

You can also serve it with any kind of toasted bread, your favorite pasta or even steamed rice.  Or if you’re really lazy or short on time, it can be eaten as is.

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, bruised and left whole.
  • 1 brown/yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 10-15 white/brown button mushrooms, cut into quarters.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 carrot, cut into pieces. (For added interest, try using purple carrots)
  • 1 cucumber, cut into pieces.
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree or tomato pasta sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into eighths
  • 2 cubes chicken stock (or 1 cup chicken/beef/vegetable broth)
  • Italian parsley, chopped (for garnishing)
  • Sweet basil, chopped (for garnishing)
  • Pasta or bread
  • Optional: organic beans, soaked.

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot.  I use my Dutch oven which is perfect for soups like these.
  2. Sautée the garlic and onions until soft, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add in mushrooms, celery and carrots, with a dash or two of Italian seasoning.
  4. Add in the bay leaf and tomato puree or pasta sauce.  Stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add in the water and bring to boil.
  6. Add in cucumber and tomato slices, simmer for about 15 minutes.
  7. Add chicken stock cubes or broth, simmer for another 20-30 minutes.  Just heat up right before serving.
  8. In a separate pot, boil your pasta if you’re using that.  Drain the pasta when it is al dente and pour the minestrone soup over it.  Serve hot, with a sprinkle of parsley and basil.
  9. Alternatively, serve the minestrone soup with toasted bread and butter.
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If Music Be The Food of Love, Play On…

 

Beauty.

Grandeur.

Passion.

Poise.

Elegance.

Simply magical.

Here’s to beautiful music and many splendid musical years ahead… ♥

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Caramel Macadamia Brittle Cheesecake

Needs and Wants.  It is often very easy to distinguish between the two.  A Need is something you require to sustain your life on this planet.  A Want is something you wished you could have to make your life easier or more fun.  A Need is necessary for survival whereas a Want is not, and almost always something that can be termed “nice to have”.

However, with something like the Caramel Macadamia Brittle Cheesecake, how does one draw the line between a Need and a Want?

I know, right?

To me, that LINE is simply non-existent.  It ceased to exist when I first tried a slice of this heavenly cheesecake in one of the restaurants in Penang.  So a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I needed to have a slice and I wanted one…so I needed to find myself the recipe and time to bake it :)

It was my maiden attempt at baking this sinfully delicious dessert, and it was also my first attempt at making caramel!  However, because I constantly am at the beck and call of my kids, my baking adventure had to be broken into several “sessions”.

Session 1: Prepare biscuit crumbs for cheesecake crust.  Temporarily interrupted by lighting guy who came to fix broken wall lamp.  Continued with biscuit crust and left in fridge to set while I took kids to a playdate nearby.

Session 2: Same day, at night, when kids were all asleep.  Prepared cheesecake proper and baked, then left to cool on kitchen island overnight.

Session 3: Next day, morning.  Toasted macadamia nuts to make the brittle and got started on caramel.  First batch of caramel was a disaster because the color wasn’t “amber” enough.  I made a second batch, which tasted like “cookie dough”, according to my daughter.

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Challenges of a Homeschooling Parent

It has been about eight months now that we have been homeschooling.  It has been an eye-opening experience and I have learnt a lot along the way.  In addition to learning and exploring new things with my child, I have also learnt a lot about myself.  I have learnt that I can be creative when I want to, but then again, I am ashamed to say that I have had to yank myself out of that miserable corner on some days too. I’m only human, after all.

With that being said, I am sure I speak for all homeschoolers out there when I say that homeschooling is definitely a choice that one makes consciously, and while there may be ups and downs, the experience does result in a better person ultimately, for the homeschooler and for the educator. I’ve only had a few months of experience homeschooling, but I know there are countless challenges faced by every homeschooling parent.  This one goes out to everyone I know who is homeschooling their child or who intends to in the future.

So next time when you hear of someone homeschooling their child, do remember the following points.

Some Words Hurt

It hurts when we hear people utter phrases such as, “Don’t deprive him of an education.” or “Are you sure homeschooling will be *enough* for him?”  I’ve heard people saying these and similar-sounding phrases when they learnt we were homeschooling and it cuts like a knife.  My skin has grown thicker as a result though, but it still hurts nonetheless.

As a parent, depriving our kid of an education is the last thing on our minds.  We certainly want only the best for our child, and when all other options are exhausted, we, out of love, do what we know and feel is best, which is to provide our child with an education filled with love, patience and understanding.

Are we good enough teachers?  Well, we certainly try our best, and we’re sure that is way better than some teachers in school.  We learn together and research together, spending precious time with each other, building a bond and relationship that is stronger than anything in the world.  Nothing could beat that.

So, please do not imply we are depriving our child of an education.  It really really hurts.  As a homeschooling parent, we do initially experience self-doubt, but that soon passes when we see with our own eyes, how our child is growing in every aspect..  An exam is usually how a child is assessed but that is not the one and only way.  It may be the only way most people are brought up to believe, but it is not THE only way.

Monotony and Boredom

Just like doing anything in the world, we are faced with boredom sometimes too.  Doing the same thing over and over again does render one bored, so it’s a challenge to make homeschooling as exciting and as interesting as possible.

When I run out of ideas, my child sometimes offers his inputs to make things interesting and I am thankful for that.  So if you ever do homeschool, please be assured that it’s not going to be a bed of roses every day.  Then again, it never is a bed of roses all the time wherever we are.

Making Friends

As homeschoolers, we crave the socializing aspect of childhood that is somewhat lacking, some would say.  We try to bridge this gap by having playgroups, and taking part in activities that interest us, and it does help somewhat.  It’s not 100% the same as seeing friends day in and out in school the whole day long, but we do what we can and it does work to a certain extent.

We realize that this does not substitute friendships formed in school, but we know that the ability to make friends this way is also a success and learned skill in every form.  Homeschoolers are nurtured with love and gain confidence the natural way.

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With that being said, I still and always maintain that ultimately it is the happiness and wellbeing of the child that we are concerned about.  I’ve always maintained a very open communication with my child, and so when he expressed a desire to try out regular school, we obliged.  He will still have our full support and I would homeschool again if I ever had the opportunity to.

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