Monday, July 30, 2012

While the hubby's away

I need motivation.

I need to hold the family fort for at least the next six weeks.

The hubby, DaddyS, is heading over to the United Kingdom for a working stint, for a minimum of six weeks, with a possibility of it being extended to two, even three months.

It was a bittersweet feeling as I watched him pack over the weekend. While I know this is a good career opportunity, I did not relish in the fact that he was going to be away for a long time. Thinking back, this would be the longest period we will be apart as a couple, definitely as parents. It is a sudden trip, and DaddyS had just a few days to prepare. We are lucky that we have our own parents and helper whom we can mobilise quickly to help out. But really, despite the ready help, it is not the same without him. I will miss him, the kids will miss him. Thank goodness for Skype and FaceTime, at least we can communicate digitally.

Looking at the time, DaddyS should be sitting in the plane now, waiting for take off. I wish him a safe trip, and to come back safely to us. We all miss him terribly.

In the meantime, I will be mummy and daddy to our kids during this period. It will probably zap more of my energy, but I believe I can do it. Ganbatte!

Linking up with:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Loving my spot: Going down memory lane in Holland & Bukit Timah

My neighbourhood, where I spent most of my life until I got married. This space embodies every bit of my memory. I always love going back. It accompanied me through thick and thin, witnessed how I grew from a girl who crawled the drains with the boy next door, into a young lady who found love in a boy she knew for over twenty years. It will always be my home.

The neighbourhood I call home is not considered an old neighbourhood with great food, quaint cafes or laid back alcoves for relaxing. Smack in between of Holland and Bukit Timah, it is an extremely sought after neighbourhood, simply because of the branded schools nearby. Think of Nanyang Kindergarten, Nanyang Primary, Raffles Girls Primary, Chinese High, National Junior College and the like. You get what I mean. 

This journey, or mission if you would have it, is one of reliving memories of the places and the food that I love so much.

So let me start my trip down memory lane by introducing my favourite wet market/food centre. It is the only wet market/food centre I never tire of going - Empress Road Market. I love the smells and the familiar buzz that resonates there. I know every crack and corner, and which stall to get the best eggs and fruits. Most of all, I love the food there. From the chicken rice to the fish ball noodles, everything is the best there. I simply cannot resist the breads (chicken floss and red bean in particular) from Fresh Bread Shop (#01-77) and Ipoh horfun (plus four additional shui jiao) from Ah Wing's Wanton Mee (#01-106). And though I am living so far away now, I always like to visit the friendly Dr Yap of Yap Medicare (#01-03, at the block just next to the market) every time I'm sick, just so I can visit him and let him see how I am doing.

As long as I can remember, McDonald's has been around for as long as Serene Centre. The Tierney's supermarket was one of the few upmarket supermarkets then that stocked extremely fresh and hard-to-find produce. Serene Centre was also known for another popular culture icon - Comics Mart. Back when it was still in operation, my brother would head there almost every day. Now, besides Mcdonald's 7-Eleven and Island Creamery, I only know it for Bibinogs Preschool.

Adam Food Centre - my usual haunt for supper. These days, it is my wish-I-can-go-tonight haunt for supper. I simply love the ice kacang from Teck Kee Hot & Cold Desserts (#01-31). You know you are having good ice kacang when you take a bite of the red beans. They cannot be too mushy, but yet, they must be of the right crunch and not be harder than a peanut. The ice kacang here is the best I've ever had. Even the syrup is yummy!

I haven't been back for a long time so it felt good to savour it again. I know it has been a long time because the portly son of the founder, who now manages the stall, has white streaks in his hair. I hear he makes good cheng tng and tau suan too, just like his father.

Not only is Coronation Plaza a favourite of the many students here, the NTUC FairPrice is a long standing icon of the area too. It is another destination for photostating services, or just for hanging out, simply because it is the nearest thing to a shopping centre in the neighbourhood. A shop I used to frequent, Cherish Bookshop, is still there, and it was nostalgic to walk amidst the shelves of assessment books and ten-year series.

At the corner, there used to be a Shell station. That's gone now, replaced by Starbucks, Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe and Eat.

Opposite Coronation Plaza, at Coronation Arcade, are two yummy family eateries that are a must go - Thai Noodle House and Penang Kitchen. I especially like Thai Noodle House, as I feel I've gone to Thailand every time I'm eating there. The Thai owners cook really good Beef Noodle Soup and Pad Thai. Their Mango Sticky Rice is absolutely heavenly - the best I've ever eaten in Singapore!

Another reason I love my spot is its proximity to Holland Village.

It used to be family trips there for lunches or dinners followed by shopping at Cold Storage, or a walk through Holland Road Shopping Centre. Then during university days, it became a favourite haunt for supper and drinks, such as the lip-smacking good chicken rice and Ipoh horfun from Yi Bao (31 Lorong Liput). Katong Laksa just next door is also very popular. And who can forget about Wala Wala, Coffee Club or Crystal Jade, familiar landmarks that hold a million memories.

Further up the road is the Botanic Gardens, which is also accessible from the Bukit Timah side. I love going there for a walk to hear the the birds chirp, watch the swans glide across the water and admire the wide variety of plants and flowers.  I am most relaxed at moments like these, enjoying the beautiful yet simple nature around me. If you go there in the morning, you might just bump into the French ambassador and his wife.

Since becoming a mother, the Gardens has become even more popular with my family. We love it that   Jacob Ballas Children's Garden is just at the door step from my favourite neighbourhood.

It's a garden haven for all kids, and it's lots of fun. My darling Becky obviously agrees.

I now live in the east around the Marine Parade / Katong area. It's a cosy spot, with great food and a certain vibe that is full of unique character. Yet, in my heart, the neighbourhood where I grew up in  remains extra special, and I relish every opportunity to hang out there, even for a minute. It will always be my spot.

This post is part of a Blog Train hosted by Sarah at The Playful Parents. Do hop over to check out  other wonderful spots in Singapore!

Loving My Spot SG edition

Coming up next!

Adeline is a SAHM and was recently inspired to blog about her roles as a mother, wife, daughter and friend. Apart from creating and selling handmade jewelries from home, she also enjoys taking photographs during her spare time.

And what better way for her to showcase her photos on 'Loving My Spot'! Join her as she shares an awesome place in the east that is great for the whole family!  

Adeline blogs at

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sakae Sushi @ Parkway Parade

It was our usual supermarket day last Saturday, so we headed to Parkway Parade to have lunch first before doing the chores. Little EV was excited to be daddy & mummy's little helper, as you can see here.

Lunch was at Sakae Sushi, and we discovered that there was a new menu. What I liked about it was that, there is also now a dedicated kids' menu. Items included Chicky (skewered chicken, egg sushi, smelt roe sushi and fries, $8.99), Garden (fried chicken, sausages, octopus ball, omelette, avocado and fries, $8.99), Mini Udon (tempura prawn, egg plant & snow crab stick, udon with fishcake, $9.99) and Junior (egg sushi, smelt sushi, snow crab stick sushi, fries and sausages, $7.99)

It was an easy choice, since EV loves udon. So while waiting for her Mini Udon, EV couldn't hold her hunger any longer and tucked in to some 'adult' food, such as chawamushi and tamago sushi.

EV even tried using chopsticks to pick up the sushi rice. She obviously had fun doing that.

When the Mini Udon came, she gave a loud 'wah', obviously attracted by the fishcake. 

She finished most of the udon herself, while daddy and mummy helped her with the tempura. When asked if she like the udon, she gave an enthusiastic nod.

The dining experience at Sakae Sushi left such an impression on her, that when we were at Parkway a few days later and having afternoon tea at the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, EV pointed to Sakae Sushi and said 'remember?'. 

A parenting gripe though: I wished the booster seats that Sakae Sushi uses could be secured to the seats or the tables. Currently, the seats are just that - booster seats. They only boost the child up to the level of the table, and does not offer any security at all if the child moves. This means that the child can easily lift herself up, a potential danger.

Other than that, I think Sakae Sushi is a moderate choice for a sushi place. I have definitely eaten better sushi, but since it is the only sushi place at Parkway Parade, it was our only choice. Having said that, I'm glad that they have included a dedicated kids' menu. Beats having to comb through the menu trying to find something suitable for EV.

Sakae Sushi
B1-84B/84C Parkway Parade
Tel: 6348 6218

Opening times:
Mondays to Fridays - 11.30am to 10pm
Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays - 11am to 10pm


Monday, July 16, 2012

Mum's day out at the Harry Potter exhibition

Have you taken a mum's day out recently? With the demands of motherhood, it is easy to get caught up with family and kids, and completely forget to take time out to recharge. We all need a little time to ourselves, to relax and do what we love, so that we can face each moment with a fresh new outlook.

Last Friday was mum's day out for me, and I went to the Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum. As a big fan of the nemesis of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, I was accompanied by a huge fan, my sister, the best company because, as she describes herself, she knows all the books inside out, up and down, from front to back.

No photography was allowed inside the exhibition, so I took the opportunity to take any possible photos anywhere. I even took photos of the tickets prior entry.

... And of course, the Flying Ford Anglia.

Before entering the hall, we could take a photo at the official photo booth, while wearing a scarf. There were two to choose from - Gryffindor (scarlet and gold) or Ravenclaw (blue and bronze). Both of us chose Gryffindor, of course! 

The exhibition covered all the main characters and scenes of the movie, with dedicated areas for the Dark Arts, Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts School's Great Hall. There was even Hagrid's hut on display, complete with 'screaming' mandrakes that you can pull up from their pots. For the uninitiated, a mandrake is a plant with a root that looks like a human and screams whenever it is unearthed. The scream of a mature mandrake can kill, while that of a young mandrake will only knock one unconscious. We even tossed a Quaffle in the Quidditch area. We almost wished this game was real.

Huge and big fans will go through the whole exhibition, reading every single comment and admiring every single costume or artifact on display. That took us about one and a half hours. Thank goodness I didn't bring the kids, otherwise, I wouldn't have had the luxury of time. Neither of them would understand or appreciate anyway. A not-so-big fan will zoom through it and be done in probably half an hour.

Which fan can leave the exhibition without a souvenir? They are quite expensive, I must say. Here are the costs of some of the souvenirs:
Collectible Wands (with choice of characters) - $75
Hooded sweatshirt - $60
House scarves - $40
Beanie - $32
Marauder's Map - $60

Practical me got myself things that I could either use or eat, as well as one item that could be displayed. I got a mug ($20), a Chocolate Frog ($5/6), a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans ($5/6) and the photo taken earlier ($20). 

My sis got the Frog and the Beans, as well as a exhibition guide ($30) that included a limited edition print of Harry's Hogwarts acceptance letter. She even got herself a quill set ($65).

A photo in front of the museum before leaving...

Mum met us after, and we had a very yummy lunch at Din Tai Fung. Love the food there.

I truly enjoyed myself, thankful for those few hours away from the kids, and the chance to spend some quality time with mum and sis. It's a mum's day out that felt so good, it was almost 'magical'.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition
2 Jun - 30 Sep 2012
ArtScience Museum
Opening hours: 10am - 10pm daily (Last admission at 9pm)

Ticket prices (hourly entry):
Adult: $24, $20 for Singapore residents
Senior (65 years and above): $21, $18 for Singapore residents
Child (2-12 years): $14, $13 for Singapore residents
(A valid ID has to be presented for purchase of Singapore resident tickets)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Books: H, I & J Books

Here are my book recommendations to go with the letters H, I and J.

We read three very fun books. Hiccupotamus is a rhyming tale about a hippo who goes around looking for a cure for his hiccups. Hidden Hippo brings the reader on a journey through the jungle, in a search for the elusive hippo.  

One Hungry Monster is about a boy who encounters ten hungry monsters who gnaw at everything in their sight. Its rhymes are simple and easy to read, with a little twist at the end where the boy himself eats an apple muffin that he had kept hidden from the monsters.

We got two non-fiction books about igloos and the ice age.

Letter J is so much fun. A total of three books again, that gave us an artsy art experience and took us on a jungle trek.

The Best Jumper is a heartwarming tale about a mouse's favourite jumper, which his grandmother knitted for him. He could go nowhere with it, even when he outgrew it. Finally, grandmother made him a new jumper, and turned his old jumper into a rabbit. It shares with the littles ones that it is alright to grow attached to a particular thing, be it a jumper, or even a boaster.

The Jellybeans and the Big Art Adventure brings the young ones on an art adventure along with Bitsy and her best friends. In this tale, talented Bitsy has to paint a white wall with her creation and she enlists the help of her friends, who each paint a part of the wall with their own painting. When it is Bitsy's turn to paint, she finds it hard to create a painting that brings together everyone's creations. She finally does it, showing that with a little bit of help and thought, a difficult task can be easily overcome.

The Jungle Run, a colourful adventure through the jungle. The animals are having a race, including little Cub, whom the other animals feel is too small to race. Under the Vine Rope Net, on the Creeper Rope Swing, and down the water slide they go in this rhyming tale. Little Cub gets the last laugh, as she beats them all.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

J for Jelly & Jam

We had a lot of fun doing 'J' this week, with lots of sensory play, crafts and painting. Oh, and yummy food too! After all, J is for jelly and jam. 

Besides jam sandwiches, we had waffle and jam too. We added two dollops of strawberry jam to a Belgian waffle. Doesn't this look like Mickey Mouse.

We also made some jelly, after which we shared with everyone in the family. EV had great fun serving all.

I'm happy to share that, EV started 'spelling' out certain words while pointing to the letters. She is definitely remembering her alphabets.

Since she spelt out 'jellyfish', we made a simple craft using a paper plate and strips of coloured paper.

EV did jelly cup painting, and painted a couple of hand paint jellyfish.

Tuesday Tots

Monday, July 09, 2012

Memories you will never forget

Do you have any memories that you never forget? I mean those that family, friends will never make you forget. Those that will always make an appearance at family gatherings, especially with family you see once in a blue moon. Yes, that kind of memories, when you become the entertainment of the night, and you think 'not again'.

I know all too well what that is like. No, they are not unpleasant memories. Just that, they get repeated so much, I really really wish somehow, those memories will find its way into a great big abyss and disappear into the oblivion, and stay there forever. In my dreams. I'm sure at the next gathering, I will go 'not again' when any of these memories get teasingly 'discussed'.

1. How, when I was just a toddler, I was already a Hong Kong drama fan, and loved a particular drama theme song. Sitting in a bath basin, my uncles and aunty, who were in their teens then, would try to block my view and I would move from side to side just to look at the TV. What did they think I was? A pendulum?

2. How, when I was just a few months old and living in Hong Kong, when I was left with my uncles and aunty while my parents went out, I cried so hard they could not handle me. Their brilliant solution? Bath me every time I cried just so I will keep quiet. Apparently, I used quite a bit of water that night. Maybe that is why I like swimming so much. I have been a water baby since young.

3. How I fell three times and injured the same spot on the forehead each time. I needed stitches each time, and of course, freaked my parents out. The joke will always be when my mum sent me for a brain scan the third time I fell. It was also the last.

4. How I went to the toilet in the middle of the night and with my long hair, scared the freak out of m brother because I looked like Sadako.

5. How I cooked the worst spaghetti by adding shredded carrots which made the dish very mushy. Hey, cooking is about experimenting right? I can cook quite a yummy Chinese meal. Just ask the hubby.

Oh yes, I'm sure at every family gathering, everyone, especially my dear siblings, will bring up something from my past for everyone to have a little laugh... again. Memories they make sure I will never forget, and I'm sure, I never want to. 

What memories do your family never let you forget?

Friday, July 06, 2012

10 things I discovered about myself after motherhood {Guest post at Mum in the Making}

I have always loved kids and in my younger days, I had even wanted to be a mother by the age of 25. But as fate would have it, that did not happen till ten years lager. Would I have been prepared for the trials and tribulations of being a mother at 25? I do not know. But I do know that motherhood has changed me in ways I could only imagine, changes that both delight me and have me wishing for the good old days of single hood. There are just so many things that I have discovered about myself that still surprises me to this day. Here is my top ten list.

1. My time is no longer my time, and me-time, even ten minutes in the bathroom, is a privilege. All of my time now belongs to the kids, husband, parents, parents-in-law and everyone else.

2. I have always taken pride in my high tolerance level. Nothing could rock my calm demeanor, until the kids came. Being able to keep calm and tolerate an endlessly screaming child takes nerves of steel. I am glad my nerves have become stronger than steel.

3. Motherhood has given me the transformation skills of a chameleon. I can be grumpy one minute, but break into a megawatt smile the moment I see my kids. I simply cannot resist toothy, and toothless, grins.

4. Yes, I am truly better skilled than a chameleon. My moods change even faster than it can change colour. One second I'm mad with my kids and the next, I'm calm as a dove, speaking to them in a soothing tone, so they will calm down.

5. I may be lying in bed desperately wishing for a wink. The moment my kids call for me, I am off the bed in an instant, miraculously filled with endless energy.

6. Motherhood has brought out the inner child in me. I pretend play by climbing a balloon tree, or transform into a butterfly by wrapping a towel around me. My imagination is being stretched beyond imagination.

7. I love books. Suspense, thriller, mystery, adventure books are what I like, but give me any book, and I will devour it. These days, I'm only devouring children's books, dramatising the stories within on the stage that is the bedroom.

8. I never had a thing for art and crafts. My best drawing: stick men. My kids brought out the hidden artist in me. To them, mummy's art and crafts are always the best. Always creative. Even if it is just made out of recycled toilet paper roll and egg cartons.

9. I have been stretched, my boobs have been mutilated, and still is being mutilated. Yet, I don't mind. I really don't. I enjoy it. It is my special bond that I share with my kids, something that is just between us, something that no one else has. I never knew this could be such a extraordinary feeling.

10. I knew a mother is devoted to her kids, but till I became one, I never realised just how devoted I could be. My world more than revolves around them.

So there. The ten discoveries I made of myself after being a mother. Would I have it any other way? No. Definitely not. I'm a mother. I may roar, but I'm full of love. Unconditional love.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Baker & Cook

I missed the days when I was in Australia, and I could sink my teeth into yummy and freshly baked bread, cakes and tarts every other day. So I was really delighted to check out this latest bakery joint that's located around Bukit Timah. Baker & Cook is the brainchild of New Zealander Dean Brettschneider, a highly respected baker who is also the author of ten baking books. He has also appeared in numerous TV shows in New Zealand, and has his own bakeries in Auckland (Zarbo) and Shanghai (Baker & Spice)

Despite the celebrity status of this baker, he has chosen to open his first bakery in Singapore at the homely residential area of Greenwood Avenue, in the corner of Hillcrest Road. It is a simple, down to earth joint that  makes one feel instantly at home, with floor to ceiling doors and windows that gives it a natural feel during the day, or a nice cosiness in the night. Seats are quite few, with only a rustic wooden table that sits about ten, a counter that sits two and looks out into the streets, as well as three tables outside that accommodates another ten patrons or so. Not a big establishment. But this charming neighbourhood bakery has charmed us with its friendly and breezy service that is oh-so-Kiwi, and the moment we stepped in, I knew this was a place I wanted to visit again. I was so captivated by the selection of cakes and tarts. There was a counter full of bread, pastries, tarts and cakes and another counter filled with quiche and salad. I wanted to try them all! It has been a long time since I've eaten really really good cakes and tarts, and somehow, I felt this place would have what I'm looking for.

Before I continue, I must confess: I enjoyed this decadent afternoon tea without EV. We, which included my younger sis, aunt and uncle shared Pecan Tart, Lemon Meringue Tart and Peach Danish. The Lemon Meringue Tart had just the right amount of tanginess, the Peach Danish was a little hard. My last experience with Pecan Tart was terrible - it was too sweet. But the one at Baker & Cook looked promising. And true enough, it was good. It was moist, yet the pecans were still crunchy. And it was just the right sweetness. Definitely my favourite of the three.

While others had coffee, I had Popcorn tea. Yup! That is the name of the tea, by a UK company called Tea Pigs. It is a refreshing tea that tasted like Japanese tea with roasted brown rice. 

I couldn't resist getting some tarts for takeaway. Besides the Pecan Tart, they also caught my eye the moment I entered - Blackberry Tart, Cherry Tart and Raspberry Muffin. The last one was bought specially for EV, and she devoured it (with help from mummy)!

I have to mention the homemade raspberry jam that was on the table for us to help ourselves. I had a taste of it and it was awesome! Too bad we didn't have any bread or bagels. It would have been great!

This bakery also serves all day dining too, and also sells their own brand range of jams, chutneys, biscotti, cookies and granola. I was so tempted to get some of these too, but had to stop myself and say, next time girl!

Would I be back again? Oh yeah!

Baker & Cook Artisan Bakery & Foodstore
77 Hillcrest Road
Singapore 288951
Tel: 6469 8834

Opening times:
Sunday to Thursday - 7am to 8pm
Friday and Saturday - 7am to 10pm