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Archive for January, 2014

The pregnancy ache came back again.  I found myself tossing and turning at night, trying to stretch out the crick in my joints.  Times like this, it really doesn’t help to have the dancer’s flexibility.  No matter how much I twist and stretch I just can’t release the tension in my joints.

So it was time to go for another massage.  As I wasn’t completely satisfied with my last massage at aFond, I decided to try Babies Bellies this time around.  It is also listed among the top 5 recommended places to go for a prenatal massage on inSing, and at the price of $60 for 60min is pretty good (the hubby maintains that a rate of $1 per min is reasonable).

From the time I called them I could sense the people there are warm and nurturing.  On the phone they’d speak to me in a motherly way and address me as “darling”.  They also called back promptly when they were checking their schedule for available timeslots.  I liked their customer service already.

The therapist was very confident and applied firm, comfortable strokes.  It was good to feel my muscles being kneaded. I appreciated very much that I wasn’t treated like I was breakable!  And unlike aFond Spa, they massaged my hands and feet! Firmly too, might I add.  Oh, the pleasure.

Even though the whole session was 30min less than aFond, I think it was overall more effective and more enjoyable an experience.

I will be back!

Babies Bellies is currently found at two locations, although come April they’ll be  located only at Golden Landmark.

United Square branch:
#01-55 United Square, 110 Thomson Road

Golden Landmark branch:
390 Victoria St
Golden Landmark #01-48

Tel: 62967198 | 63566623
Mobile: 92286372 / 92221544 (Office Hours only)
Opening hours: Mon–Sat 10am–8pm; Sun 10am–5pm

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Photo taken from Singapore Dance Theatre website

We’ve attended  the previous instalments of the Dance Appreciation series, and this was the best by far.  The commentary was sufficiently informative without being too draggy or bogged down in detail, and the periods of dancing were longer so the kids could watch a whole excerpt without interruption.  Not only that, this production particularly appealed to the boys because there was sword fighting involved!

They were also very interested in the story, especially the ending about how Juliet pretended to die, then Romeo being heart-broken really took his own life, then Juliet upon waking and discovering Romeo’s death took her own life as well.

In fact, they were so interested they have asked me to bring them for the full-length performance!  That is music to my ears and I’m seriously considering :)

After the performance they even humoured me when I tried to show them some dance mimes.

I promise (to give you)...

I promise (to give you)…

...a muffin!

…a muffin!

"I'm Romeo eating a muffin!"

“I’m Romeo eating a muffin!”

I also thought the performance by the dancers was excellent.  At the finale, I could feel my tears start to well up seeing Juliet filled with angish at Romeo’s death.

I say, 5 star session!

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This is one of my favourite Julia Donaldson books.  It’s witty and catchy, and has a delightful ending.  It’s one of those books that I never tire of reading, which is saying a lot (hands up all those who have heard “Mummy, again!” and wanted to faint).  Knowing the boys like this book too, I went ahead to book tickets for this show and was quite eager to watch it.

KidsFest 2014 - What the Ladybird heard

The performance took an interesting turn at the start, with two of the actors saying they needed the help of some audience members to play the roles of Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len.  Of course the volunteers were planted, but it was quite amusing for the kids I think.

Of the various KidsFest performances we have seen over the years, this is one of my favourite.  I loved how there was so much music making in the show.  The actors themselves played various instruments live on stage, like the violin, flute, drums, etc.  There was also a creative element where the actors had ‘lost’ the animals and needed to make their own from whatever items they could find.  They made the hog from the wheelbarrow, a goose from a watering can, etc.  Asher and Ellery were quite inspired by this and spent the rest of the evening improvising this and that from whatever they could find.  I was really very happy to see that the show had an impact on them.

The best part is, there were many little songs and sound bites that the kids could remember.  There was a theme song from the show that linked with the words from the book, and was set to a catchy tune that the kids can remember.  After the show and even almost a month later, the boys can still remember the song!  Then there was a tune to call out the ladybird, and the sounds that Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len each make when their name is mentioned.

For a festival where tickets are usually very pricey, in my opintion, I think this show was well worth every cent!

A very blur photo of the set before the show started

A very blur photo of the set before the show started

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I had a bit of a heart attack when I saw Ellery climb so high.  He is totally accident prone, and I was worried he’d lose his footing and come crashing down.  Thankfully that didn’t happen at all!  Instead, they boys enjoyed the view from up the ladder, while I tried not to hyperventilate from worry.

On a high

On a high

Ellery discovering he can hang upside down by himself

Ellery discovering he can hang upside down by himself

Monkeys!

Monkeys!

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I have fond memories of the one time I made pineapple tarts with my mum when I was a teenager.  I remember how fun it was to shape and decorate the tarts.  My mum and I have always enjoyed baking together, and we had a tendency to start baking late at night and continue past midnight.  Don’t know why, it always just happened that way.  It was always nice chatting with her though, a good time of bonding.

So this year I wanted to let the boys have a go at making pineapple tarts.  When I had made tarts with my mum,  I remember she had made the pineapple jam from scratch which was an enormous amount of work!  I was very sure I wanted to skip the arduous task of making my own jam, so bought the Red Man brand premium pineapple jam from Phoon Huat.  The premium version is made from only good quality, ripe pineapples, whereas the cheaper version (can’t remember what it’s called on the packet) is made from any pineapple.

I am picky about my pineapple tarts.  If I like it I can eat many at a go, but if I don’t like it I gag at having to finish even one yucky pineapple tart.  I know most people nowadays like the closed pineapple tarts, and some shops seem to only sell that version.  I really really don’t like that kind of pineapple tart.  It’s too soft and mushy.  Even the most crisp of them on the outside and still too soft on the inside.  It’s like a sticky mess in the mouth when you eat it.  Same goes for the open pineapple tarts.  Once someone says it’s so yummy because it “melts in your mouth”, I can pretty much guess it’s the kind I don’t like.

I like an open tart that has a a crisp pastry.  None of that melty, sticky business please.  So I scoured the internet for a recipe that I liked.  Almost all of them touted the soft melt-in-the-mouth kind.  Skip.

Finally I stumbled upon a recipe at Papa Cooks! for a Nyonya pineapple tart that is cripsy.  His description of how the tarts ought to be like told me it was just the kind of tart I was looking for.  The fact the the recipe was also passed down from his aunt who is regarded as the master of pineapple tarts in his family also won me over.

So I bought my ingredients and settled the boys down to an evening of baking.  The recipe is easy enough, and the tarts came out perfect!  The boys and I ate sooo many.  I thought we had made a ton of pineapple tarts and was wondering who we could give them away to.  But once I tasted them and saw how the boys scarfed them down, I wondered if we had enough to give away at all!

They certainly had a great time making the tarts.  They did everything, and I only helped a little bit.  They mixed the ingredients, cut out the dough, did the egg wash, rolled the balls of jam, placed it on the tarts and did the decorations (which were very funny :)  not traditional at all, but full of humour and love).

I love their decorations!

I love their decorations!

At one point they kept saying they wanted to make a giant pineapple tart, and they each proceeded to shape a tart way bigger than the usual size.  They topped it with a ton of pineapple filling as well.  After the tarts were baked, Asher struck an agreement with me that he was going to have just 3 tarts since it was already late.  He started with his giant tart which was equivalent to five tarts.  When I said he was done, he asked me innocently, “but what about the other 2?”  I laughed and told him nice try.  But in the end he won, the tarts were so good, he ate way more than 3 (including the giant tart)!

Scooping a giant jam ball

Scooping a giant jam ball

Asher's giant tart

Asher’s giant tart

Ellery's giant tart

Ellery’s giant tart

See how big the giant tarts are!

See how big the giant tarts are!

I’d definitely want to make these again next year, but will make sure we start much earlier in the day.  The recipe is easy, but putting the tart together takes a lot a lot of time.

Anyway here is the recipe adapted from Papa Cooks!:

Pastry Ingredients:
– 500g plain flour
– 300g unsalted butter (slightly softened)
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp salt
– 2 tbsp icing sugar
– 1 egg yolk (for use as the egg wash)

Making the dough:
1.  Mix the flour, icing sugar and salt together in a large bowl.

2.  Using a fork, scrape the flour and butter together until it resembles bread crumbs.  Using a fork prevents the butter from melting too fast, spoiling the pastry.

2.  Add the eggs and still using the fork, gently coax all the crumbs together until they just bind into a dough. Do not over mix the dough.  This is crucial to ensure the pastry will be crispy after baking.

3.  Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Assembling the Tart:
1.  Pre-heat your oven at 175 degrees Celcius.

2.  While the dough is refrigerating, roll the pineapple jam into small balls (use your cutter to estimate the correct size the jam balls should be – not too big, not too small).

3.  Take chunks of dough, squash them with your palm into the desired thickness.  (This is the kid-friendly method.  Using rolling pins just means more washing up, and fighting over who gets to roll it.  I like to let each kid have his own baking sheet so that they have their own space and can squash their own dough.)

4.  Cut the dough using the pineapple tart shaped cookie cutter, arrange neatly onto the baking tray and brush with egg wash.

5.  Put the jam balls onto the tarts, adjusting the size of the jam balls if necessary.

6.  Decorate the tarts however you want, traditional or otherwise, then egg wash the whole tart again.

7.  Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the tarts turn golden brown.

They each did their own half of the tray.  This was just tray #1.

They each did their own half of the tray. This was just tray #1.

Ready for the eating! (and one already eaten)

Ready for the eating! (and one already eaten)

Pleased as pineapple

Pleased as pineapple

"Good" he says approvingly

“Good” he says approvingly

My first attempt at a photo grid!

My first attempt at a photo grid!

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Emma’s 5th birthday was held at Pita Pan at Marina Bay Sands.  What an unexpectedly great location for a party, made even better by the fantastic January weather this year.  There was a ton of space for the kids to scoot and ride, and the breeze was very refreshing.  The kids had endless fun riding up and down the wide path outside the Art Science Museum, racing each other and taking turns to be the leader.

The food was great too!  I’ve always enjoyed Mediterranean food, and Pita Pan does a wonderful platter that includes falafel, hummus, and a wide variety of vegetables for stuffing into your pita bread, including beetroot, yum!  The falafel was absolutely divine!  I haven’t had such good falafel since Jon and I were on exchange in the US.  The hummus was a winner too, with the right texture (not to thick nor too smooth), and the right balance of flavour.

I forgot to take a picture of the food.  Here's a pic taken from Pita Pan's website

I forgot to take a picture of the food. Here’s a pic taken from Pita Pan’s website.  Looks good huh?

We’ll definitely be back for more!

The other kids went on to explore the new Gardens by the Bay playground, but Ellery was getting worn out so we headed home for a nap instead.  We’ll have to check that out some other time!

The kids and their rides

The kids and their rides

We were quite a crowd

We were quite a crowd

Emma sampling her cake

Emma sampling her cake

Fellowship of the Cake

Fellowship of the Cake

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We watched the KidsFest performance of The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, performed by Tall Stories, when Asher was younger, and again at a free performance at the Forum Shopping Centre.  It was such a wonderful performance, full of humour, lively songs, and fun-filled moments.

I was a bit hesitant to get tickets for the follow-up show, The Gruffalo’s Child, because I thought the book was less interesting than the original.  But the kids were quite interested, and I thought that for completion’s sake we could watch it.   Also, other performances by Tall Stories was very good, so I thought this would be a similarly high-quality production.

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Unfortunately, I was left feeling very disappointed.  This follow-up production was nowhere near as good is the first, and nowhere near as entertaining.  I felt that didn’t develop the storyline as much as they did with The Gruffalo, and the portrayal of the aged characters of the owl, fox and snake were not brought across to full effect.  The set didn’t do much to help either.  It was quite spartan, and I think more could have been done to bring a frosty, wintry forest alive.  Perhaps they were trying to be minimalist about things, but just moving the bare tree trunks around didn’t do much to show that the scene had changed.

There were also no memorable songs or moments.  I don’t think the kids remember anything at all from the show, other than the main storyline, which they know from the book.

And it wasn’t just me who felt disappointed I think.  I could see the boys were fidgety and were losing interest as the show wore on.

I think I could have saved some money on this one.

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