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Make A New Game: #31Newness No. 4

Make a New Game with the Kids

The kids have been in school holiday mode over the last week. However, the last few days, they've been occupied with play dates and vacation care. Today, they stayed home with me while I worked.

At ages 9 3/4 (the boy) and 6 1/2 (the girl), it's not as 'challenging' to have the kids at home while I work, unlike when they were younger, when taking your eyes off them could make a difference between sanity and the house getting burnt down (yep, been there, though maybe not quite so dramatic ;)).

Nowadays, most of the time, they can get themselves occupied. Sometimes, they even know how to prepare simple snacks and help themselves to what they're allowed to eat. I just get asked for permission, asked for help, or asked to referee an argument every now and then.

Of course, when left to their own devices...

Well, they often end up just on their devices (iPods, Xbox, Wii, laptop computer, 3DS...).

So, I usually impose a few hours break during these times. I just need to be prepared to supervise whatever they're doing.

Today, I set them a challenge during their break that they used to love to do: Inventing new games.

In the past, they've invented board games and actions games, complete with scoring systems. They've designed cities and created maps to their own towns.

And, I must admit: I LOVE IT when they're in this kind of zone. Kids' imaginations are so amazing. I get inspired with how limitless they can be.

So, when I asked them to get going, even though I faced a little protest to start with, they ran away with the challenge. With no added input from me, apart from: "No, son, I am not letting you use a knife to cut cardboard" or "Oh yes, that looks interesting!"

The boy in action

The kids ended up inventing an arcade-style game to start with. In the photo above, you can see the boy creating a whack-a-mole type game using just a packing box, a small pair of scissors, a pencil, and a cardboard tube as a guide to make the holes. The tube was from a kitchen paper towel roll.

The box has about six holes and someone sits inside the box. That someone in the box will then make an 'arcade-type' sound and make an announcement when the game is on. Then, something comes out of the box that the player will then try and hit. Each time they get a hit, they get a point. When the game is over, the person in the box says how many points the player earned - and the corresponding tickets come out of a slot.

Yes, while the boy created the box, the girl made the tickets (see the green paper in the first photo above?). The tickets can then be exchanged for something else.

If dad or mum plays, we get a two-minute mini massage in their massage suite (more on this later).

Here's the game in action:

The new game in action, as tested by the girl (boy inside).

After they enjoyed doing this, they decided to take their game a bit further. They designed another game. They made a target on another box and made paper balls and matched them with a couple of small soft balls they had. They then need to hit the target with the balls to earn points.

With a couple of arcade games in place, they then decided to leave me in my home office and went into the lounge area to turn the place into a hotel. They had an apartment, a reception area, an arcade, a business centre (my husband's study), a TV area, and they even built a private area around our chaise lounge and turned that part into a massage suite.

Yes, I did enjoy a couple of two-minute massages from both the kids, after they gave me a tour of their hotel at the end of my working day.

And, even now, almost 6 hours after I've given them the challenge, they're still trying to play their new hotel/arcade game.

Looks like old-fashioned cardboard and pretend games won over new technology. At least, for a few hours today.

20131001-162842.jpgThis is my fourth entry to the #31Days of New blogging project, where I’m exploring the concept of #31Newness. If you have any suggestions on future “new” topics that you’d like to read, please let me know. I’d love to find out what you think. 

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Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

Life has been anything but still lately, it seems. Strange how that works out sometimes.

Just when I was telling myself that I should revel in the stillness - instead of craving for more excitement, more challenges, more dreams - I end up facing one crazy thing after another.

Over the last few weeks, I have faced some interesting work-related situations:

  • Celebrating my first year at Vervely!
  • As part of this anniversary, I am currently looking at launching a new initiative. Something that I've been wanting to do for some time now.
  • Been invited to submit a couple of quotes for possible new work and/or extension of existing work.
  • Exploring a new opportunity that I have been thinking about for months.
  • Travelled to Surfers Paradise, at the Gold Coast in Queensland - to represent my company and to do some work for one of my clients - attending the Connecting Up 2013 Conference. It's my third year to attend this conference, but my first year as my own boss. This is a conference organised by my former employer and one that I used to help to organise.
  • During the conference, I have been approached by a company that I have a lot of respect for, to look at another possible work opportunity.

With all these things happening on the work front, you'd think that I should at least find some stillness in my personal life.

Well, apparently, that's not how it works.

You see, hubby and I have been considering moving from our existing house for some time now. I hate moving, so I have been dragging my feet on this over the last couple of years or so. Pretty much saying "no" for the most part.

But, I indulge the hubby by looking at houses every now and then anyway. Knowing full well that it would take a very special house for me to want to go through the same agony of house buying and selling that I've experienced around seven years ago.

Well, some time last month, we came close to finding a house that we thought we like enough to move into. The house itself was just okay. Nothing great. But, we loved the location. We started negotiations on house prices. But, we never really knew where we stood.

So, we kept looking at other places.

Early this month, we found a really great house. Location isn't bad. Not as great as the location of the other house, though. Especially since it's a little bit further out. But, it's an incredible house that we just loved from the moment we saw it. So, we were really, really torn.

That's why I ended up posting the question: "Okay house, great location OR Great house, okay location" on Twitter and Facebook.

At the end of the day, even though approximately 75% of the respondents on Twitter and Facebook said they'd choose an Okay House in a Great Location, we ended up making an offer on the Great House in an Okay Location. Mind you, the "okay location" still is quite good. Just not in an area that we love just yet. I know some people actually love this area, so perhaps we might grow to love it too.

Anyway, even though it seems to be against all odds, our offer has been accepted.

But, we have a long way to go before we can move. The next big hurdle now is to sell our house in the next couple of months. That means we need to get stuff cleaned, de-cluttered, refreshed, organised, etc. The scary thing is, there's no guarantee that we will sell the house in time.

In fact, seven years ago, we went through a very similar process and we ended up not selling our house in time so we lost the house that we originally wanted. That was a pain. We eventually sold our house still, as we decided to keep it on the market. However, we needed to look for a different house instead.

We ended up in this house that we live in.

And, while this house is not perfection, it is one that I have loved over the years. It became our comfort zone. The one place that the hubby and I have stayed at the longest. Before this, 3 years in the same place was our record (in Singapore).

Now, if all goes according to how things are shaping up, it looks like this family house will be going on the market soon. And, once it goes on the market, I believe that it will stay there until it sells. Whether we end up selling in time for the house we are trying to buy right now or not, we will be moving.

While every fibre of my being resisted being in this extremely uncomfortable spot for years, it looks like staying in my comfort zone will no longer be an option soon enough.

Considering hubby and I moved across continents, countries and cities over the years, it's weird that we're now more terrified of this change than any other that we've done before. Perhaps, growing older does that to one's psyche. It makes us soft. More risk averse. Less willing to step out of that comfort zone.

Ah, now let's see how it all works out. Please wish us luck. 😉

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Homemade Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe


Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the outside. That's what these chocolate chip cookies are like! They are just so yummy-licious.

When I first started baking during home economics class in highschool, one of my first projects included making cookies. And, even though I wasn't quite as pleased with my efforts back then, some of my former classmates still seemed to love my cookie creations. I couldn't quite fathom why! Perhaps, the thing with homemade cookies is that they're almost always better than the packaged variety.

In any case, if you're looking for a simple but effective recipe for homemade classic chocolate chip cookies, do try this one out. I actually found the original recipe at the back of a Cadbury's chocolate chip packaging. Here you go ---

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/1 cups self raising flour
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Cadbury's Milk --- I found that a 230g packet can make two batches of cookies)

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies RecipeHow To Make:

1. Preheat your oven to 160'C

2. Melt butter, the mix it with brown sugar and caster sugar. Cream them using an electric beater until they're light and fluffy.

3. Mix in the vanilla essence and egg.

4. Then, stir in the flour until combined.

5. Add the chocolate chops.

6. On a lightly greased cookie sheet / baking tray, place the dough mixture. You can use a teaspoon to scoop the mixture, then make it in to a small ball, and flatten a little before putting on the baking tray.

7. Bake in moderate over for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. I find that 10 minutes is usually enough, but it might depend on your oven.

Additional Tips:

  • Make sure you only use a small amount of dough mixture AND leave enough space between cookies. The first time I tried this, I made them too big and put them too closely together. The dough started to expand/raise and they began to stick to each other. Yikes.
  • Don't attempt to take the cookies out of the baking try until they're cool enough. Otherwise, they tend to crumble.
  • The original recipe says that this will usually yield about 30 cookies. I found that when I made the perfect size cookie, I ended up with about 40 cookies.

What kind of cookies do you like? Do you have a favourite cookie recipe that you'd like to share? I'd love to give them a go too!

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Home Sweet Home. Sorta.

Home Sweet HomeWe arrived back in Adelaide at a very empty airport. The holiday decorations were being taken down and there were hardly any passengers around. It was the first time I saw it quite empty like that.

It was like the whole place conspired to rub it in our faces that our Big Trip was, indeed, finally over.

Then, we realised that the heat wave is on big time in this city. We've been sweltering day and night since we got back.

On the domestic front, our house seemed to have been kept well. It was good to have had the blessing of having housesitters to look after the place (and our dog Blue + our tank of fish) while we were away. Unfortunately, though, we found out that one of our fish seemed to have disappeared --- and the other one was on its last, uh, legs? (fins?) It passed away shortly after we arrived.

Then, we also realised that something in our dripper system broke and no one knew about it. So, we are preparing for an astronomical water bill to come our way. Bleech.

Oh, and I'm not even going to get in to the things that need to get done every time you come back from a holiday - like unpacking, grocery shopping, tidying, laundry, emails, etc etc etc.

Regardless, it's great to be back. After six long (but amazingly quick) weeks. Home IS home. If only it wasn't so far from the people we care about the most!

Yes, it was extremely sad to say goodbye to family and friends. Even the kids are still mourning the end of our trip.

But, a semblance of 'normal life' should begin again from hereon. Now, if we can get over this darn jetlag!

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Christmas Decorating {Creativity Weekend}


Christmas Decorating

Decorating for Christmas doesn't usually happen in my household until at least the 1st of December. Today, however, became an exception. Since Spotlight had a sale on, we decided to do a quick shop for Christmas decorations.

Of course, this put the kids (and the grown-ups?!) in to the holiday mood. So, even though we don't normally put up the Christmas tree a week before December, we started doing so this evening. And, that's where my creative energies went for this weekend.

I love it, though. I love putting up the Christmas tree - planning where the baubles and the trimmings will go.

We used to have just a 4-foot tall tree. Hubby and I had that tree since our first year of our marriage nearly 9 years ago. Bought it from a shop in Holland Village in Singapore. We've collected tree decorations over the years. In fact, we used to buy a Christmas tree decor in the different places that we traveled to.

This year, though, we bought a new tree. A 6-foot tall one. The biggest tree we've owned together as a family. With this new tree, we ended up buying new decorations too. Thanks to our son, we have a silver/purple/blue theme for this year.

The tree's not complete yet, though. Still need to get new lights for it and do some finishing touches. That's why I decided not to take a photo of the whole tree just yet. But yeah, the house is definitely starting to look festive.

Now if only I can get started on my Christmas cards already... 😀

When do you usually get Christmas started in your home? When do you put up the trees? Buy presents? Send holiday cards? What kind of Christmas traditions do you have with your family?

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