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Archive for March, 2014

Mee Pok Day

We got up and headed out earlier than usual to attend Mee Pok Day at SCGS.

Oh how I love these noodles.  I ate them almost everyday from Primary 1 to Secondary 4!  And no, I have never tired of them!  There are usually two classic ways of eating it.  Either dry with lots of vinegar, or soupy with lots of chilli (my preferred way!).  There’s just something about the noodles that all SCGS girls love.

The original Mee Pok uncle passed away many years ago, but his nephew has since taken over the stall.  He has managed to keep the taste authentic, although the texture of the noodles is less chewy and starchy than it used to be, probably because of a change in suppliers.  I notice such starchy noodles are quite impossible to find in Singapore anymore.

Anyway, I was more than happy to have Jon and the boys try this noodles because I have randomly raved about it in the past.  Asher clearly enjoyed his noodles and wouldn’t stop eating even for a photo :)

We got to walk around the school too.  There have been a few additions here and there, but overall the school is just like it used to be – a nice feeling.

Groupshot, with Asher still slurping up his noodles

Groupshot, with Asher still slurping up his noodles

Mee Pok Day 1

Mee Pok Day 2

Mee Pok Day 3

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With no special plans for dinner we decided to check out Belly View Cafe at the NSRCC Sea Sports Centre along Changi Coast Walk.

It’s the kind of place you go to for a relaxing dinner, by the sea, no less.  We sat right next to the water and enjoyed breeze and the view of the sea, sailboats, ships and planes while eating.  The kids loved the planes flying overhead.

Asher ordered for us that day.  He chose the hot plate toufu, har cheong gai (prawn paste fried chicken wings), and mixed veg.  I always like eating har cheong gai, but overall the food was just average.  You can definitely get much better zhi char elsewhere.  I guess the main draw is the view.

Good view while eating

Good view while eating

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I don’t quite remember how I stumbled upon this online shop when I was in university.  But I’m glad I did.  It’s been more than 10 years since I started the habit of browsing through this online store every week or other week, just to see what’s new.

Conversation Pieces

Conversation Pieces is run by Audrey, a USA-based Singaporean.  Every week she sends out an email with the latest additions to the store, and it’s one of those ‘advertisement’ emails that I always make sure to read.  Why?  Because it’s never just about the clothes, or the accessories, or whatever other product is headlining the week.  Audrey imbues her weekly newsletters with so much heart.

Her newsletters are always bright, cheerful, and full of happiness.  Reading the stories she shares in her newsletters also frequently reminds me to think beyond myself, and to remember that I have it really good.  To do more for others.  It’s not uncommon to read about how she decided on a whim to go to the store and buy up a whole lot of food, pack it nicely, and distribute it to the homeless.  Or how she just felt like baking up a batch of cookies, wrapping them up nicely (yes, this is a trend – everything she does is always nicely dressed up :) ), and giving them away to friends.

More recently she shared about the difficult time she had in the last ten years or so.  Yet she still gave beyond herself, and tried to bring a smile to everyone else’s day.

That’s the heart behind the store.

And store itself is wonderful!  I’m not a fancy dresser.  I’m quite pragmatic, like to be comfortable, and generally keep to basics.  What I like about Conversation Pieces is that there are lots of basics to choose from, and a lot of them have that extra something special – the super soft material, the nice colour, the quirky detailing.

One of my favourite acquisitions is the Perfect Shirt.  It is soooo comfortable.  I bought one for my Mum in coral colour too, and she also loves the soft material and how flattering the fit is.  She and I agree that it’s really one of those tops that you grab to wear again soon after it’s been washed.

Image 1

The Perfect Shirt in Navy Stripes

There’s more than just the basics though.  And I always take the time to look at the pieces in the store, just in case I decide to venture out and trying something different.  I think I spend much too much time browsing this store sometimes ;)

My absolute favourite part of the store is the accessories section though.  The bracelets!  The bags!  The oh-so-soft scarfs!  I’ve bought quite a few little trinkets over the years.  Partly because it’s ‘safer’ since I don’t need to try it on, but mainly because they are so attractive and make really nice gifts.  I often find myself adding a lot of stuff to the shopping cart, then stopping myself from going overboard.  The store’s catch phrase is quite dangerous though, “Regret not what you buy, but what you don’t buy” :)

But hey, there is free shipping until Friday (USA time) in celebration of Conversation Pieces garnering 5000 likes on Facebook.  If you do miss out on the free shipping, the great thing about the store is that there is flat rate international shipping.  I don’t like having to calculate and think about the shipping cost.  That turns me off, really.  Flat rate is great!

Go browse the store and see what catches your fancy!  Things can run out quite quickly, so grab it if you like it (for clothes, medium sizes tend to go the fastest I think).

At the very least, sign up to receive Audrey’s newsletters.  It’s always a little ray of sunshine in your mailbox.

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And the eating continues.

One thing that I’m really grateful for is that we have such a great variety of cuisines to choose from in Singapore.  I think if I had to eat red meat cooked in only one particular style I would tire of red meat very quickly!

I’ve been getting my red meat fill from all sorts of places – fast food, coffeeshops, restaurants, and home cooked.  I’ve eaten it cooked in Western, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Chinese styles.  With so much variety, I hope to keep up this red meat thing without getting sick of it.

It’s all for you baby!

Eating Red 3

 

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We attended Jacob’s 3rd birthday at Amazonia.  His 2nd birthday was also held there, and the boys still remember having a great time playing, so they were really looking forward to the party.  On a random note, last year Ellery couldn’t pronounce Amazonia properly, and kept calling it “Ama-no-zia” instead :)

The most wonderful thing about this party was that the boys overcame their fear of the big slide at Amazonia!  They aren’t exactly the bravest when it comes to big slides.  But with Ellery’s newfound fearlessness from Westgate Wonderland, and my psych-ing Asher up with stories of how he went sliding down the big slide in Penang during our holiday last year (leaving out the fact that I went down with them), they both went down and there was no stopping them after that!

Once they realised it wasn’t that scary, they just kept going down over and over.  In fact, I was really pleased with Asher cos he was trying to make himself go down faster by pushing as he went down.  Then he and Ellery raced one another.  Even when it was time to go, the ‘last slide’ became another 10 slides down.

Yay!
Jacob's Amazonia 1

As for the party itself, Jacob chose a whale cake, so the whole theme was fish and sea creatures.  The kids had fun decorating little fish tanks with stickers.  And later on, we were surprised that we were given goldfish to bring home as the party gift!  The boys were very excited and thought hard about what names to give them.  In the end Ellery chose “Dino-llery”, and Asher chose “Raspberry” because his fish had a reddish tail, and the head had the bumpy look of a raspberry.
Jacob's Amazonia 2

Sadly though, the fishes didn’t last very long.  I woke up the next morning to a crying Asher.  He was so sad that Raspberry had died during the night.  He really needed a lot of consoling.  Poor boy.

The next night I saw that Dino-llery was struggling to breathe and decided I needed to get an air pump the next day.  But that was one day too late.  When we woke in the morning we found Dino-llery upside down.

We are really not very good fish-people.  The fishes that come home from the kampung fishing excursions don’t last very long either.  I think the next time, I’ll go straight out and get a pump!

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Asher went for a sleepover with Aidan at my parent’s place again, so it was just me and Ellery who happily said we were going for a date, our second in two weeks.

By the time I dropped Asher off at my parent’s house after watching Rapunzel it was 4pm.  By then Ellery had fallen asleep in the car and I was quite sleepy too, so decided to drive home for a nap.  We ended up napping for a really really long time, and only woke up at 730pm!

Ellery was still keen on going out for a date.  Given the time of the night I could only think of two options – the Night Safari or the newly opened Westgate Wonderland.  Since I’ve heard such good things about the new playground at Westgate, and since there would be plenty of food options for dinner, I decided that would be our date night outing.

What a fun night!

We had dinner at Hot Tomato, a restaurant selling grills, seafood and pastas.  I still hadn’t had my red meat portion for the day so we chose from the steak selection, and Ellery decided on steak and prawns.  We was more than happy that it came with pasta too.  It was very cute to see Ellery eagerly awaiting his steak.  “Is the steak ready, Mummy?”, “Yay!  Our steak is here!”

Pretending to be a warthog while waiting

Pretending to be a warthog while waiting

Our steak and prawns

Our steak and prawns

The steak was decent, not too dry considering I asked for it to be well done.  The prawns were fresh and juicy, and the pasta was quite comforting.

We then headed to the playground, by which time it was already 9pm – bedtime.  Oh what the heck!

Ellery had such a good time.  He absolutely loved the playground inside the giant flowerpot, and kept going up and sliding down, climbing up, and sliding down again.  Over and over and over.  Actually, that’s what most of the kids were doing.  It was that fun.  I was especially proud of Ellery because he usually shows some hesitation about going into tunnel slides, and often avoids them altogether.  But here, perhaps because all the other kids were just jumping into it, he went down the double story spiral tunnel slide, no sweat!  I was so happy!  When he had first gone up there I literally prayed for him, that he’ll have the courage to go down.  So happy for answered prayer :)

There's a playground enclosed in there!

There’s a playground enclosed in there!

Wheeeeeeee

Wheeeeeeee

Clinging on like a koala

Clinging on like a koala

The treehouse looked like it would be a lot of fun for kids, but for parents who can’t really follow them up (like preggers me), it got a little worrisome after a while because once the kids climb beyond a certain point, you can’t see them at all!  So for a long while I had no idea where Ellery was.  I went around checking if there were other exits in case he had come down another way.  Thankfully there was only one way up and down from the treehouse, and two exits which came out at the same side.  Eventually it was time for the playground to close, so the kids were chased out of the playground, and that was when I finally saw Ellery emerge again.  He said he had gotten lost.

Treehouse playground

Treehouse playground

 

He then ran to the flowerpot for a couple more rounds of climbing and sliding before we left :)  By the time we got home it was 10.30pm!  What a treat!

We’ll definitely head back again with Asher and explore the waterplay area too.  Hopefully Asher will likewise be brave about the spiral tunnel slide!

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I’ve always thought Rapunzel a strange yet appealing story.  Why can’t the witch just fly up into the tower herself since apparently witches fly on broomsticks?  How did the witch first put Rapunzel in the tower?  Isn’t it, like, crazily painful for someone to use your hair as rope?  I guess fairy tales are like that – creative license to have some loopholes. But we like the stories anyway!

After re-introducing the story of Rapunzel to the boys, I brought them to catch the performance of Rapunzel by The Little Company at the DBS Arts Centre.  Their previous shows like the Three Little Pigs were very engaging, with hooks to draw the children in.  I was looking forward to a similarly good production, and happily, I was not disappointed.

When we first walked in we were surprised not to see a tall tower, but rather a humongous cactus!  That signaled to us that this was not going to be just the usual retelling of the story.  Clearly it was going to be set in the desert, and we were pleasantly surprised at the cactus tower because even the promotional pamphlets showed a regular tower.  The set was very attractive, and the boys straightaway started pointing out things that caught their eye, like how plates were used to decorate the tree.  For kids shows, I really appreciate when the set is decorated well as that’s the first step to drawing the children into the story.

Giant cactus tower

Giant cactus tower

This Rapunzel was cast as an avid reader trying to take matters into her own hands.  Rather than wait helplessly in the cactus tower, she was determined to find a way out of her sorry situation (which includes a diabolical witch taking pleasure in making her cry so that her tears can be used as a secret ingredient in the witch’s recipes!).  Rapunzel finds a magic spell that can break the enchantment of the tower and give her her freedom.  However, she needs to get hold of three ingredients for the spell to work.  I like how the children were involved in helping to remember what the three ingredients were by following the actions to a song Rapunzel made up.  My boys are usually more than happy to participate in such things.

Looking out into the world

Looking out into the world
(photo courtesy of SRT)

With the help of her friends Harriet the roadrunner, Hugo the armadillo, Chester the camel, and her first ever human friend, Montague the Prince, she manages eventually to get the ingredients she needs and gain her freedom.  There was a nice little revelation at the end of the show too, which was an extension of the original tale.

Harriet, Hugo and Montague

Harriet, Hugo and Montague
(photo courtesy of SRT)

There were a couple of cute songs, with my favourite being one about how when you meet someone for the first time it’s better to not be wearing pajamas!  It was so random, and so funny!  It was particularly amusing when later that night my parents brought Asher out for a car ride with his cousin and he was in his pajamas.  Ellery said he hoped Asher wasn’t meeting anyone new  :)

Anyway, Cheryl Tan who played Rapunzel has such a beautiful, crystalline voice.  It was so sweet you can believe Montague’s desire to meet Rapunzel after he heard her singing. I also thought there was a nice chemistry between her and Trev Neo who played Montague. He gave the prince a nice, light touch.

Cheryl Tan and Trev Neo in TLC's Rapunzel (2014)

Rapunzel & her prince
(photo courtesy of SRT)

Overall, I liked the twist in the story and appreciated the fact that it didn’t stray too far from the original.  I don’t like classic stories being mangled!  It was also great that the children were engaged throughout, and could remember parts of it after.

Rapunzel runs until 27th April, everyday except Mondays.  You can get your tickets through the SISTIC website or through their hotline (63485555).

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Disclaimer: I was given tickets to review the show.  All opinions are my own.

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Brought the boys to catch the Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

Dino welcome

Dino welcome

It was touted as tracing the development of dinosaurs from the pre-dinosaur age of the Precambrian period to when dinosaurs appeared in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.  I was in particular looking forward to the Precambrian exhibit since none of the other dinosaur exhibitions we’ve been to covered this. Unfortunately, I found the coverage of the Precambrian period to be quite sparse.  There was one room dedicated to it with some exhibits and write-ups, but I guess I was disappointed because I expected a much more in-depth coverage of the period.

Moving from time period to time period, there was also just a short write-up about the changing times.  Mostly there were fossils and models on display, with some information about which dinosaurs or reptiles they were, the meaning of their names and their diet.

Greeted by a fierce Herrarasaurus

Greeted by a fierce Herrarasaurus

Tracing the timeline

Tracing the timeline

The interesting part, for me, was that many of the dinosaurs/reptiles on display were new to me and the kids.  We had not read or heard about many of them.  And the ones that we were familiar with were not usually shown at other exhibitions.  For example, we’ve never seen cynodonts or dicynodonts at other exhibitions.  My favourite was the Ischigualastia. I just thought it’s feet were so cute!  Yes, a bit of a strange word to use when it comes to fossils.  But it was rounded and looked padded.  Not the typical claws you’d expect from these creatures.  Of course once you complete it with teeth and flesh and skin it won’t be so cute anymore.

Cute feet right?

Cute feet right?

File:Ischigualastia skeleton.jpg

The whole Ischigualastia

Ellery’s favourite was the Saurosuchus, a type of reptile not a dinosaur.  It was huge!  And not a friendly looking fellow at all.

Saurosuchus eating some kids

Saurosuchus eating some kids

Asher liked the Sillosuchus because, in his words, “it’s skinny like me!”

Skinny Sillosuchus, and skinny Asher

Skinny Sillosuchus, and skinny Asher

And we got to see the Megalania too!  How exciting!  I didn’t expect to see it here because we had read about it when learning about prehistoric mammals (though this is a reptile, not a mammal.  It was one of the predators during that time).  This creature is from a much later period than the dinosaurs.

Megalania

Megalania

I liked that there were some real fossils interspersed among the replicas, and the boys would get excited and proclaim, “Mummy!  This is a real fossil!”  It was also nice that there were some stations where the kids could get some hands on fun too.

Lots of things to touch and feel

Lots of things to touch and feel

Trying to move like the dinosaurs

Trying to move like the dinosaurs

There was also an impressive display of what Liaoning, China, would have looked like in prehistoric times.  The boys had fun trying to spot the different creatures.

Transported to ancient Liaoning

Transported to ancient Liaoning

Psittacosaurus family by the pond

Psittacosaurus family by the pond

Confuciusornis (with the double tail) flying above

Confuciusornis (with the double tail) flying above

We ended up spending almost three hours at the exhibition, including 30 mins attending their paleontologist workshop where they explain what a paleontologist would do when digging up fossils.  They boys very much wanted to be picked as a volunteer, but unfortunately they weren’t chosen.  But at least the kids got to get up close to the demonstration materials after the workshop and look/touch some of the stuff.

Digging for fossils

Digging for fossils

Dinosaurs Dawn to Extinction runs until 27 Jul 2014, from 10am-7pm.  You can get your tickets from SISTIC and save $2, or buy directly at the ArtScience Museum counter.  There are dino shadow puppet shows daily from 10am-630pm, and a paleontologist workshop at 4pm.

Asher pretending to have the rounded head of the Koolasuchus Cleelandi

Asher pretending to have the rounded head of the Koolasuchus Cleelandi (the creature on the water behind him)

Attack!

Attack!

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This April you can learn how to catch a star.  Based on the best-selling children’s book, How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers, learn about the boy who loved stars so much he wished he had one of his own.  He decides one day that he would try to catch a star.  But first he has to think of a plan.  Through an irresistable blend of music, puppetry and storytelling, you can follow Boy on his incredible journey across land, sea and skies in search of a very special starry friend.

The performance is presented by Blunderbus, the acclaimed children’s theatre company who specialises in shows for children aged 3-7 years old and their parents.  There are only 8 shows being held at the School of the Arts (SOTA) between 24th to 27th April, so go grab your tickets soon!  Tickets are available through Sistic.

Displaying HCS_poster.jpg

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There’s a nice man who works at one of the food outlets near the kid’s school who has bought us breakfast on several occasions.  We decided to repay his kindness by baking him a cake!

We saw a recipe for a lemon yoghurt cake in one of the children’s books and decided this would be the cake we’d make.  It’s a really easy recipe and I like that you don’t have to deal with butter.  Most cake recipes start with creaming the sugar and butter, which can get quite messy with kids, even though I’m always fascinated at how it rises to become fluffy and whitish.  I also like that you use the yoghurt pot to measure out some of the ingredients.  It’s a lot easier for the kids.

We made two batches.  One for the nice uncle, and one with strawberries for ourselves.  It was quite iffy whether the strawberry version would turn out nicely since it was an improvisation, so we thought it best to not put strawberries in uncle’s cake as well.

I was really pleased to see Asher grate the lemon zest all by himself!  Had to remind him a few times initially to keep his fingers out of the way because skin was not part of the ingredient list, but after that he was good.

Stir stir stir

Stir stir stir

Mix Mix Mix

Mix Mix Mix

Pour pour pour

Pour pour pour

The cake turned out really well too!  The original recipe has a subtle lemon taste, while the one with strawberries has a lovely tartness to it.  Both are rich, dense cakes.  Yum!

Yum yum yum

Yum yum yum

Lemon (and Strawberry) Yoghurt Cake 

Ingredients:
1 pot of natural yoghurt
2 yoghurt pots full of caster sugar (we did 1 pot white, 1 pot brown)
3 eggs
3 yoghurt pots full of plain flour
2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 yoghurt pot full of oil
1 lemon
some butter
(optional) two cups of strawberries, sliced

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Put the yoghurt in a mixing bowl.  Wash the pot and dry well.  You need the pot to measure the other ingredients.

3.  Add the sugar and eggs and whisk.  Then slowly add the flour, the baking powder, and finally the oil.

4. Wash the lemon.  Grate the peel.  Then squeeze the lemon.  Add the juice and zest to the mixing bowl.  Beat the mixture until all the liquids are soaked up.  If adding strawberries, now is the time to stir it in.

5.  Butter a baking tin.  Pour the contents of the bowl into the tin.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Leave to cool before taking out of the tin.

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