Creating More Space in Our Living Room

Every year during this period I tend to become a little lazy at work and want to do something new around the house. It has been awhile since I did some home improvement and since there’s the Christmas party with family coming, and the Chinese New Year shortly after, I decided to do some “magic” around our living room.

We live in a 5-room HDB and is kinda huge in the standard HDB context these days. Our living room and dining area are one massive open space in a regular rectangular shape which makes it rather easy to shift things around and create our space. I love to create cosy space while the husband prefers to keep it minimum and clean. With just the four of us living in this space, we kept things to the minimum.

BEFORE: Quite a messy sight

This space is used mainly for the following:

  • Space for dinner, which we have at the round kid’s table because the girls want to watch TV while they eat.
  • To chill, watch TV, where the girls do their crafting, writing and activities that require tables/chairs.
  • Hosting of our family and friends when they come over for visits.
  • Storing of books, game consoles, some toys and photo albums.

Before, we bought one and then another shelf for the girls’ collection of books and activities. Eventually, these two shelves were overloaded and had papers, books and what not spilling out. We needed more storage space.

BEFORE: Our overloaded book shelves

When we first moved into our house, we had a huge comfy sofa and lounger from IKEA, but we removed it after 5 years as we felt it was taking up too much space. Then we got two NOLMYRA Easy chairs that we can move around easily. But then we realized family members had to sit at the dining table or on the floor when they visit as there were not enough seats in the living room. We needed more seats.

BEFORE: Limited seating chairs for guests

We have also been considering getting a coffee table or a side table for the living room because when the girls are doing their activities on their round table, there’ll be no table space for us to put our cup of drinks or stuff when we are spending time together in the evenings. End up the adults will be seated at the dining table with our drinks or evening snacks while the girls do their stuff at the other side of the room. Though we were still in the same room, but it felt a little distant. We needed table closer to the kids.

With the three needs in mind, we planned our new living room for the new year. And I’m happy with it because it’s now more functional, meets our needs and there is a lot more storage space! Our girls are thrilled too! “Mummy it’s so colourful! I love it!” said Zara when she came back from her gramps after we got the living room transformed.

AFTER: More of everything we needed!

For the books and stuff, we removed the two small shelves we had and replaced them with two KALLAX Shelving units in green and yellow. With the additional shelf space, I spread the books out and grouped them by type and level. The girls suddenly realized they had lots of books to read and rediscovered the many stories they didn’t know they had! As there are many loose sheets of papers and thin magazines, stickers and activity books, I kept them hidden from sight with FJÄLLA Magazine files; creating a neater look for the shelves.

AFTER: More storage space for the whole family

On the other side of the room, I added more storage space, more seats and even table space with just two sets of STUVA / FÖLJA Storage benches! I am super proud of myself when I put this corner together because it is multi-functional and yet so simple. We love this new corner!

AFTER: Loving our new multi-functional living space

Now the girls can use this side of the space for reading, more space for them to do their activities and they get to just dump their commonly played toys into the drawers instead of moving them in and out of their playroom.

AFTER: Hide those cushion seats into the drawers and we’ve got tables for snacks and stuff!
AFTER: Remove the storage unit and put in a chair, and we’ve got another space for activities!

We are now set and ready for more family time in our living space! Well at least the living room is ready.

One room down and three more to go. And this was the easiest space to improve on, the other rooms are in such crazy mess I don’t event know where to start! More spring cleaning and decluttering to be done soon! How are you preparing for the new year?

This post is brought to you in collaboration with IKEA Singapore.

My Little Photographers at KidZania Canon Imaging Academy

The Mummy loves photography and has been a supporter for Canon cameras for a long time now. The girls have been the subject of Mummy’s shooting obsession since the day they entered into her life. They have seen how the Mummy handled the camera and are rather familiar with how the camera works. When they were given a chance to handle a big camera like Mummy at KidZania, they were thrilled.

Although they didn’t get to complete their task as a photojournalist, as they were too distracted with the other activities going around them on their first visit to KidZania, they did get to put on the Canon EOS vest (which Mummy is rather jealous of) and tried handling and shooting with the Canon PowerShot EOS DSLR inside the Imaging Academy.

Look at how adorable and professional they look!

At the Canon Imaging Academy inside KidZania Singapore, the kids get to pick between being a Photojournalist or a Photography Student.

Photojournalist at Canon Imaging Academy

  • For +4 years and above
  • Each session allows up to 4 kids
  • Takes about 20 mins for each session
  • Kid earns 6 Kidzos

Being a Photojournalist, they were supposed to learn how to handle the DSLR camera, go on a mission to shoot different objects around KidZania and complete their task to earn the Kidzos.

Photography Student at Canon Imaging Academy

  • For +4 years and above
  • Each session allows up to 6 kids
  • Takes about 20 mins for each session
  • Kid pays 8 Kidzos

As a Photography Student, they get to learn how to pose for the camera and shoot other student models with the DSLR. Each student will also get to bring home a printed photo from their session.

The girls were happy to have snapped some photos of Mummy with their cameras and were issued a certificate at the end of their task.

Guess we will be back again for more KidZania fun since Mummy bought the girls their KidZania Passports! Perhaps we should make trips to other cities too to check out the other KidZanias.

Read other kids’ experiences at KidZania Canon Imaging Academy…

#26hourswithJen – An Extended Weekend Staycation in Heart of Orchard Road

Forget about fixed check-in and check-out time, we all know we hated this when we book our hotels room in Singapore for staycation. Why confine to only checking-in after 2pm and checking-out before 11am? We don’t even get to enjoy a full 24-hour stay in the hotel we are paying for. When Jen shares about their latest stay package at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway, I was delighted! You can do so much more with 26-hours extended staycation with Jen. Read about our experience and review of their Panorama Club Room here.

Here’s a recap of how we spent our #26hourswithJen

Sat, 5.00pm

We checked-in to Hotel Jen OrchardGateway at 5.oopm on Level 19, at their Club Lounge. This time it was a chance to get some couple time over our dating anniversary weekend. So we took our time to relax and enjoy our quiet time together. While waiting for our room keys to be ready, we chilled at the Club Lounge and helped ourselves to some snacks and refreshing drinks.

Sat, 5.50pm

We laze around in the room, channel surfing and just hanging by our window to watch the cars drive by while enjoying the sweet treats prepared by Jen.

Club Room at Hotel Jen OrchardGateway

Sat, 6.30pm

We had a dinner reservation at Makan@Jen that evening and was welcomed by this yummicilious sight at the entrance! It was a get-drunk-with-seafood-kinda-night. At the end of dinner, I was super high from the dozens of crawls swimming in my tummy.

Bottomless Oysters! Yumz!

Sat, 8.30pm

What better way to digest away the sumptuous dinner than a walk down Orchard Road on a Saturday night? Boy we were both shocked to see the crowd hanging around even late into the night. It has been so so long since we were in the heart of Orchard at this hour. We did some shopping of course and bought some new outfits for ourselves and the girls.

Sat, 11.00pm

The night was spent snuggling in the comfortably bed and watching late night movies just because we can! When at home, we don’t get to watch any movies, in fact we don’t get to watch anything much at all, because time is spent accompanying our girls every night after work. And by time they fall asleep, we’ll be too tired to walk back out to the living room for any form of entertainment.

Sun, 8.00am

We got up bright and early to continue feeding ourselves again with breakfast at Makan@Jen. Being able to slowly enjoy a undisturbed breakfast at a slow and relax pace is so precious. We took our time to enjoy we-time together.

Sun, 11.00am

Back chilling in our room while we waited for the girls and our family to join us for lunch.

Sun, 1.00pm

And AGAIN we are back at Makan@Jen, this time with everyone in our family for their Weekend Brunch Buffet. We paid $360 nett for the buffet voucher booklet which comes with 10 vouchers for weekend brunch buffet till 13 December. With 6 used, we’ll be back again real soon to finish the remaining 4. Anyone wants to join us? 🙂

Sun, 3.30pm

It was time for some pool time fun after lunch. So we chilled by the pool and had a dip in the water.

Sun, 4.30pm

Back into the room, but now with a crowd of 6 adults and 3 kids! The room was just nice to fit us all quite comfortably with some chilling by the window seats, kids snoozing in bed and some of us resting by the bed side too.

Sun, 6.00pm

Still an hour before we are due to check-out, so we headed up to the Club Room to have a quick drink and snack, while the rest continue snoozing with the kids in the bedroom.

Sun, 7.00pm

And this marked the end of our 26-hour with Jen experience. It was definitely an extended weekend well spent with my love ones.

Thank you Jen once again for such a great experience! Read about our experience and review of their Panorama Club Room here.

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Latest Promotions and Deals at Hotel Jen OrchardGateway

From now till December 31, 2015 (date inclusive), guests may indulge in a totally value-added worthwhile staycation at Hotel Jen every Saturday and Sunday. Gone are the rules of checking in at 2 pm and checking out at 12 pm. These Weekends with 26 Hours A Day room package, guests can check out 26 hours after whatever time they check in.

From $200* per room, per night, guests may stay in one of the 499 well-appointed rooms featuring an abundance of sunlight and which are well decorated in soft earth-tone colours. All guests who love this idea are welcome to stay at the hotel and post a picture of their stay that is relevant to the property onto their Facebook wall and tagging @Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore with the hashtag #26hourswithJen during their stay.
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Hotel Jen OrchardGateway
277 Orchard Road, Singapore 238858
Website | Email

Disclaimer: The hotel stay and dinner experience was provided by Hotel Jen OrchardGateway for the purpose of this review and post. We paid for the Weekend Brunch Buffet vouchers on our own. All opinions and photos are our own.

Our Playrooms at Home

Since we moved into our new home in 2012, we’ve done well, nothing much to it. Just that the amount of things increase almost too quickly, and we did some reconfiguration a few times since. What used to be a playroom for one, has now extended to become playrooms for two. And because we wanted to do more things together as a family on weekends, we moved the girls play area into our living room.

The hub was rather against the thought of having toys in the living room cos he cannot tolerate mess. But I tried my best to keep everything as proper as I can and occasionally update the toys (means discard tattered and no longer playable ones) and rearrange them so that it’ll be easy for us to maintain the play area.

We are fortunate to have found this house. By keeping bulky items to the minimum, the space allows for lots of running around for the girls. And each of them get their own space to play if the decide to play different things.

All toys and books are stored in an Expedit shelve and see through boxes. Only toys that are commonly played by the girls are kept in the living room. All other stuff are stored away from their sight (as much as possible) in the other play room.

Here’s a closer look at how things are sorted out on the shelve.

On warmer days (like the recent crazy weather), we prefer to play in the room which is less humid and is cooled with air-con. This room, which used to be Ayra’s playroom before it transformed a guest room for my parents when Zara arrived, and then later into Zara’s changing room, and now a room just for storing toys and clothes. When the girls are big enough to sleep in their own room, this will be their wonderland. (Can’t wait to transform the room!)

The girls love playing and there is really no reason why we should stop them from creating a mess. As long as we have a proper system of maintaining order in the chaos, no play is not allowed. Okay, except for Play Doh! I totally cannot tolerate the tiny little pieces and the cleaning up after each play. All Play Doh and accessories are stored out of sight from Ayra until she learns how to better play with them.

For now, there’s the cooking role playing which she loves, LEGO and duplo, playing dress up with her gang of Barbies, role play as doctor or mummy or a teacher with her dolls and there’s of course the many variety of books for her to pick up and flip through.

As for little Zara, anything in her hands are new to her. And when she’s done shaking, swinging and trying to poke it into your face, most of the things in her hands will end up one place – her mouth!

What have you got in your kids’ play room? Share with us in the comments below!

Ayra’s first unwrapping video

Ayra first unwrapping video

This is super overdue. Better late than never, and since I’ve got a few more videos already done, I thought it’s time to get this weekly (I hope) video project going.

Her most favorite type of videos on YouTube is of people unwrapping toys, be it unwrapping of surprise eggs, blind bags and even toys. Since she has watched so many of these videos, I thought it’ll be fun for her to get her own unwrapping videos going. This is the the second time she did an unwrapping video, the first she was in PJ so I’m keeping that for next time. First video must at least be pretty mah! LOL!

Presenting Ayra’s first unwrapping video… Ayra opens Lego blind bag… *hee*

A letter to the 20 year old me

Dear 20 year old me,

Oh how I missed you so! Yes, that is a super cheesy start line, but really I miss you a lot. The 20yo me was filled with passion and energy, filled with gusto and drive and all I ever wanted was to climb those ladders up up up to as high as I could. There was no plan to find a husband, no plan to start a home, no plan for a baby, at least not back then when I was 20. If I could turn back time, things may not be how it is now.

If I could turn back time, I would have not worried about whether or not I could afford to get married. Throwing a wedding dinner and keeping things simple really didn’t cost me THAT much of money. Having a husband is so much less “stressful” than having a boyfriend. At least you don’t have to worry about being your best dressed self every time you go out. You can laugh off about farting out loud in the middle of a meal and pretending that a frog just hopped by. And just because the 20yo me wouldn’t have sufficient money to buy a HDB flat then, the married 20yo me would have stayed with my parents and then have more support when comes to my next point.

If I could turn back time, I would have settled down and given birth to at least two babies before I turned 25. Having babies is really not that big a deal, and really not that painful nor scary as I had imagined it to be. I would have more energy to spend time at work and with my babies after work, unlike the 30yo me now, getting older and getting tired too easily. The 20+yo me wouldn’t have mind not getting enough sleep because the babies need my attention. The 20+yo me would have done less clubbing and other leisure activity (which would indirectly helped saved more money for the 30+yo me now) if I had a family and adorable babies to go home to everyday.

If I had done what I did in the 30+yo me few years earlier, I would have more time and energy to build on my career now because if I had my kids before I turned 25, by time I turned 30, my kids would have been old enough to take care of themselves and get things done on their own. I would have been able to balance my life better being the 30+yo me with grown up kids.

If I really have a chance to talk to the 20 year old me now, I would tell her to start a family as soon as she can. I would tell her how much more energy and time the younger me would have for the kids and how much more focus on building the career it would have been after the kids are older. I would tell the 20yo me that money shouldn’t be the factor that’s stopping me from getting married and starting a family. I would tell the younger me that no matter how much or little the combine income is then, I would have survived still even with a family to feed. I would tell the 20yo me that there isn’t going to be the right time to get married nor the right time to have kids. You just do it! And things will eventually turn out well because I am a woman who can and will survive all challenges that comes my way.

Dear 20 year old me, if you ever see this post, please just go ahead and do it. The career ladder is better climbed with a family supporting you. Nothing gets you more motivated than the smile and laughter you will receive from your kids. Just look at how beautiful your kids may be…

From the 30+yo me

Lela the Baby Gum Soother

At 5 months, Zara is starting to grab everything within her reach. And no matter what she grab, it is stuffed straight into her mouth. She loves pulling in and out her pacifier and teether to rub her gums. When Ayra was little, she got Sophie the giraffe, and now for Zara, she’s got Lela the deer.

Comparing the two teethers, personally I find Lela the deer more suitable for babies.

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  • Lela is smaller and easier for tiny hands to hold.
  • Lela’s neck is shorter and so baby is able to hold the legs and still able to bite on the head with ease.
  • Zara could bite the ears and tails of Lela, instead of just the legs of Sophia for Ayra.
  • Also uses 100% natural rubber and food grade dye, she is also BPA and phthalate-free.

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Zara loves chewing on Lela and by the time she’s done with her, Lela the deer will be covered with saliva! *ewwwwww*

Note: The Sophie Ayra was using may not be the one available in stores now. They seemed to have changed the design and is now smaller. Above comparison is based on the experiences between the two teethers which we had.