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.

In the mood for Christmas, Slowly But Surely

2016 has been an awesome year, with growth and stability at work, it’s now time to spend time with family. As everyone around the world slows down our pace, taking time off for trips with family and preparing for the coming Christmas holiday, I am trying to do the same too. With 2 upcoming trips scheduled in November, and a pretty crazy December packed with work, I’m starting my Christmas planning and preparing earlier this year.

The Special Christmas Tree

Each year, I try to create a different kind of Christmas tree in the house. Because setting up a “real” Christmas tree is too much work for the lazy me and it takes up too much space.  We try to improvise and DIY our own “tree” in the house. This year, I created a lighted up tree by the window and I think it looks fab!

This took less than 10 mins to setup and you can get all you need from IKEA at under $50. Christmas tree on the wall, I call it, can be created with (1) SARDAL LED Lighting Chain ($14.90), (2) 2 boxes of STRÅLA Decoration for lighting chain ($4.90), (3) VINTER 2016 hanging decorations ($7.90)(4) white VINTER 2016 decorative stand ($4.50) and I also added some pretty (5) Christmas decorative tapes ($5.90) to the otherwise plain white stand.

Love these limited edition red hearts from VINTER 2016 collection at IKEA.

Family, Friends, Food & Lots of Merry Making

This year, I am also planning to host a simple dinner with close friends and my family. We needed to get more plates and cutleries for this and found some really cheap ones from IKEA, OFTAST plates and bowls at just 90cents each! These go very well with our current simple white plates in the house too. Simply perfect!

Christmas meals are made of awesome food and value-for-money plates and cutleries from IKEA.

For drinks, we decided to go with VAKEN Glasses ($4.90-$5.90 in set of 4s) which comes in two sizes, just nice for adults and kids, or to hold your cutleries too! I love how the setting is simple yet practical, each item can be used for different purposes.

Keeping it simple in red, white and a little dash of gold
Just add ribbons and it’s perfect!

Adding Christmas Around The House

If you’ve been to our place, you’ll know how bare and minimum we try to keep our home. The only decorations you see around our house are mostly photos of our girls. I love the VAXBO Collage Frame ($12.90) I bought from IKEA which holds 8 x 5R (5 x 7 in) photos. To add some Christmas, we just swap out some photos with Christmas printouts which you can easily print off online or create with Canva.

Swap out some photos with Christmas printouts

My girls are super excited to see the house being jazzed up a little each day and I can’t wait to start shopping for presents! Have you started decorating your house too? Share with us on our Facebook page, I would love to feature some of your creative home decorations one day!

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

Capturing and Preserving Memories in Full Frame

Crazy times call for crazy retreats, and November is looking fantastic! With a family trip to Hong Kong, and a day of fun with My Little Pony planned, I am ready to capture and preserve our family fun time and memories with my the loaned new toy which I’ve been shooting with for the past 5 to 6 weeks. My first experience with a full frame camera and I do not want to return it!

Time with Family is So Precious

I am a super workaholic, many times I use so much time on work I neglected my family. Guilty every time it happens but I just keep doing it over and over again. This is what happens when you work for yourself, every minute spent on work may potentially give a good return. Whenever I can, I will pull myself away for a day and focus on family. On such days, I spend time holding my kids hands, hugging, laughing and playing together. And I hold the camera more than my mobile phone. Capturing memories with mobile phone is convenient but on days when I am dedicating to my family, I want to have better and higher quality photos so I can print them out as large as I want and flip through the albums 30, 50 years down the road. “Look girl, this was your mother when she was your age. Look like you right?

Zara “working” at Trehaus, looking very serious right?
Enjoying their joyride in a sing-along-bus at Suntec City

The Everyday Life

With the compact size (small considering it’s a Full Frame DSLR), I can fit it into most of my everyday bags. When I’m out for meetings, events or running errands, I can always have the camera with me if I want to. On good days, I get to enjoy the afternoon with high tea and champagne, brainstorming and discussing work stuff with my business partner, or when you chance upon this beautiful floor and just want to take a photo with it. With the EOS 6D, it makes these days look better and so Instagram worthy.

Afternoon tea set at Westin Singapore
Those beautiful tiles at Chong Wen Ge Cafe near Telok Ayer
Some painting fun in the evening before bedtime

Freezing Fast Moments

I love to take random photos of my girls at play outdoor and indoor. With the girls running around, sliding down and doing all the funny faces so quickly, it is almost impossible to snap a decent shot of them that is sharp and in focused with my mobile phone. With the Canon EOS 6D, I was able to freeze such fast moments and share the quirky and fun moments with my girls. They love looking at these photos I took of them. They do make requests every now and then too. “Mummy can you take photos for me? I want to see.

Ayra going a little crazy with her dancing and singing at Families For Life picnic.
Girls sliding down at Petite Park on a Sunday afternoon

Sharper Clearer Better Videos

With two YouTube and video enthusiasts and a geeky Mummy, one of the things we all enjoy doing together is to create videos! When the girls get a new toy, Ayra will request for a video to be shot of her unboxing and playing. Sometimes they will ask me to shoot them creating stories with their toys. If only Mummy has got more time to edit these videos and upload them online! Here’s one of the recent video we shot with the Canon EOS 6D when the girls received their new LEGO Duplo set.

Desire For Better and Newer Camera

I have been sitting on the thought of buying the Canon EOS 6D for a month now, price is reasonable and all, but the little voice inside me is telling me to wait. Hang on for now, cos there may be a better and newer one coming out soon. With rumors going around online of a full frame Canon compact, I am sitting on the fence now waiting to see if this rumor is true. What matters to me are features like the built of the camera (cos I am super rough with my camera lah), speed, sensor and the ability to shoot in super low light situation.

My photography companion at the moment, Canon EOS 6D

For now, I shall try to hold on to this unit from Canon for as long as I can. Ha!

Disclaimer: The Canon EOS 6D is a borrowed unit from Canon Singapore and I secretly hope they’ll let me keep it for good! I’m really loving it!

Keeping Baby Clean – Simple Steps & Tips for New Parents

Bathing a baby may be one of those many things that new parents worry about before their baby arrives. Throwback to 6 years ago, when I was carrying my first born, Ayra, I googled for guides on bathing a newborn, searched for baby bathing videos on YouTube and also attended pre-natal classes. And guess what?

When it was time to bath my baby (the real one not the doll from pre-natal class) for the first time, my mind went blank! Before that day, I was able to instruct and guide my grandma and mum who were helping bath Ayra the first week. I was able to clearly remember what to do and the 101 things needed to be setup etc. But once you actually get down to it, you forget all books and videos and just focus on the amazing bonding experience with you and your newborn.

If you’ve never bathed a baby before, here are the list of things you need to prepare. (I’ve previously shared a comprehensive shopping list for new parents.)

Diaper napkins/ Cloth diapers/ Disposable diapers – depending on your preference.
Changing mat – so you don’t get your bed sheets wet each time you change your baby.
Cotton balls – to clean baby’s eyes, baby cord before it drops off, and baby bottom.
Baby wipes for the poo/pee clean-up before shower.
• Soap free/ Gentle baby shampoo – we’ve used and trusted Cetaphil for many years up till today.
Baby moisturizer – baby’s skin needs to be moisturized so pick one that’s gentle to baby’s skin.

cetaphil-baby-skincare

Baby bath tub – recommend getting one with stand so you don’t have to squat down to bathe the baby.
Baby bath towels – we invested in nano fiber towels for our girls since birth because they are soft and fluffy, and its lint free. We are still using the same batch of towels from 5 years ago.
Baby wash towels  – which are also the same nano fiber towels, they come in many sizes.
A basket to hold all the bottles and wipes etc so it’s easier to carry and store them. Most of the time you’ll be operating with one hand since the other will be cradling your baby.

Now that you have the necessary stuff ready, we move on to the what and how to clean your baby. And thanks to the Cetaphil Baby Experience, a recent workshop on childcare, I am able to share the following how-to guides with you.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR BABY UNATTENDED

NEVER LET THE WATER CONTINUE RUNNING WHEN BABY IS IN THE TUB

  1. Ensure the windows are closed and the fan turned off before removing any clothes from the baby. I even had my door closed too so the baby won’t get any chill drafts during shower.
  2. I also prefer to use a room with a connecting toilet to bath the baby, so everything is nearby and to minimise moving around with a naked baby.
  3. Before bringing the baby to the bath room, clean the baby’s eyes, ears and face with cooled boiled water and cotton balls. Do the same for baby’s belly button.
  4. Clean the baby’s bottom with the remaining water ensuring all residues of pee and poo are cleared, this is to ensure the bath tub water does not get contaminated.
  5. Fill the bath tub to about 1/4 with lukewarm water, which is not hot to touch with the inside of your wrist.
  6. I use 2-in-1 shampoo and shower wash because it is easier to manage when bathing a baby. I will drop some of it into the water and use a wash cloth to clean the baby’s hair and body.
  7. I will talk and sing to my baby in the shower to distract her and keep as much eye contact as possible. This also gives assurance to the baby, letting her know that you are there and she’s in good hands.
  8. When the baby is washed and cleaned, wrap the baby with a soft big towel immediately
  9. Place the baby on the changing mat (on the bed) and towel dry quickly but gently.
  10. The first thing I do is to ensure the bottom is cleaned, moisturized and put on the diaper immediately. You never know when the baby decides to pee or poo! Accidents do happen, so be prepared.
  11. Apply moisturizer over the face, neck, arms, body and legs.
  12. Put on clean clothes and you’re done!

Since, the first few times a baby is bathed by different pair of hands, the baby and the bathing process may not be as comfortable or familiar. But don’t give up if your little one isn’t enjoying bath time yet, it takes time for both of you to truly enjoy the bathing experience.

For those of you who missed the Cetaphil Baby event, there was a live baby bathing demo. Lead by Ms Kang Phaik Gaik, senior lactation consultant at Alvernia Parentcraft Centre, Mount Alvernia Hospital, the demo shared helpful tips on how to bathe newborns. You can learn more about the correct and safe way of bathing newborn babies and massaging them with the video.

Hope this sharing is useful for new parents and parents to be!

Hope this sharing is useful for new parents and parents to be!

If you would like to find out more baby caring tips and be kept in the loop for future events, join Cetaphil Singapore on Facebook and sign-up for their newsletter.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Cetaphil.

TLM Reviews – Vasa BLÅ Earphones in Rose Gold Black

Review of Sudio Vasa BLA - Rose Gold Black

This Sudio Vasa BLÅ in Rose Gold Black has been my companion every day since I got it. The Mummy has been bingeing on Korean Dramas for a month now and every week without fail, she’ll download the episodes on Viu and get ready for non-stop catch up whenever she can when she commutes daily, in between meetings, during lunch, and whenever she has got pocket of time between her daily activities. And having a wireless earphones that is almost invisible (with all hair around my neck and face) is a good thing, I can pop them in and out of my ears between all the activities and is always ready to continue my shows while on the go.

Review of Sudio Vasa BLA - Rose Gold Black
Beautiful gift packaging (additional S$5) and the unboxed Sudio Vasa BLA in Rose Gold Black.

The Mummy’s Take on Sudio Vasa BLA Earphones

It’s like you inside the drama! Damn real! 

The car driving past in the background, the sizzling of Korean BBQ over the dinner table and the distinct voices from each and every actor in the show, the Sudio Vasa BLA just make Korean Drama so much more entertaining and real. This is the power combination of the driver and amplifier in Sudio headphones.

The Vasa Bla sound signature is delivered by a carefully tuned driver and amplifier. The combination of driver and amplifier is able to separate the sound of every instrument in every song, thereby giving the listener a true studio experience.

Previously I was using the Sudio VASA and couldn’t hide the cables but now with this new wireless version, I’m always ready to pop in the earphones whenever wherever. Once I was using it when traveling with my girlfriends, and she asked how come I watch drama without sound? Then I revealed the hidden Sudio VASA BLA by pulling my hair back. We both laughed.

Sudio VASA Bla Review

In the Box

  • Vasa Bla earphones with 4 pairs of extra sleeves
  • Owner’s Manual & Quality Assurance Card
  • Genuine Leather Carrying Case
  • Metal Clip
  • Charging Cable
  • Battery

Specifications of the Sudio VASA Bla

  • Housing: Composite, Aluminum
  • Finish: High polished metal parts
  • Model: In-ear, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Weight: 14 grams (housing)
  • Range: 10 meters
  • Battery time: 8 hours (active), 10 days (standby)
  • Charging time: 10 minutes (quick), 120 minutes (full)

Get *35% discount when you use the code “LOVESUMMER” at checkout. And of course, the shipping is always free to Singapore.  Do check out Sudio website and Instagram.
*15% from the code + 20% from tax rebate for online purchase

Dinner Bed-and-Breakfast Family Staycation at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium

We wanted a getaway but didn’t want to spend long hours traveling, so staycation it was over the weekend before things get crazy again at work for Mummy. This time, we checked in to Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, our first family staycation with Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium (part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, IHG).

What makes an ideal family staycation for us now?

With the change of routine around the house since beginning of this year, we try as much as we can to have the parents do nothing and just spend time relaxing and bonding with our two girls. (Because it is almost impossible to pull mummy away from work for more than an hour 7-days a week!) A no-frill all-inclusive staycation is what we need once a few months, just to recharge and have fun just being together.

So whenever there is a chance for a family staycation we will jump right into it!

The room at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium

The 512 rooms at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium were recently refurbished (in 2015). The modern interiors creatively incorporate design elements inspired by the iconic Singapore River and the colourful rows of shophouses along its historic riverbanks.

Comfortable bed, space for the kids in the room and of course a bath tub! These are all we needed for our fuss-free weekend together. The girls were occupied and happy, while the parents just lazed and chill.

Amenities for kids waiting for them in the room. Nice touch Holiday Inn.
Fresh fruits, chocolate coated strawberries and yummy cookies awaited for our arrival. The girls were all over them right after I snap this shot.

The girls were fast to start exploring and chopping their bed upon entering our executive room. It was impossible to take any proper shots of the room before they start messing it up.

The little ones were busy checking out the in-room amentities while Mummy was trying to snap some photos of the room.
Been awhile since I come across a pillow menu. I was almost going to ask for one of each to test the difference.

Dinner and Breakfast and Kids Dine Free!

Kids below the age of 12 years old get to stay and dine free at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium. So there was no extra charges for the additional bed in our room, dinner and breakfast were both included in the staycation package.

I’ve to say we were pleasantly surprised that the dinner was surprisingly good, better than one of our recent experience at another hotel which cost almost double for their dinner buffet. I had one too many oysters that evening at Atrium Restaurant.

Breakfast the following morning was as good as it looks. Weekend breakfast at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium is served till 11am great for families like us who prefer to laze longer in bed during the weekend. We reached Atrium Restaurant slightly past 10am, and the crowd had somehow dispersed by then, so we did not have to squeeze through the buffet spread. Food was replenished fairly quickly too.

Kids Dine Free Not Available at Atrium Bar 317

Chilling by the window at Atrium Bar 317.

One mistake we did during our stay at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium was to have a late lunch at Atrium Bar 317 instead of walking into the Atrium Restaurant at level 4. We should have clarified with the waitress before we placed our order at the Atrium Bar 317, as we had assumed Kids will get to dine free at all their dining options within the hotel. Nevertheless, we had a chilling good time at the Bar.

Our lunch bite at Atrium Bar 317

Kids Menu at Atrium Restaurant also has more varieties and the menu has been developed in partnership with Nutrition Australia to provide a nutritious balance of foods to support children’s nutrition requirements.

Here’s a video of our previous visit to the hotel to check out their new Kids Menu.

Overall a Great Family Getaway at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium

I asked what the girls enjoyed most during the stay, and like all the other staycations we had as a family, they reply was in unison, “The Pool! And the bath tub!“. Now that both of them are more daring and adventurous than before, they could spend their time alone in the pool (for a looooong time) while I chill and catch up with my Korean drama on Viu with the fast wifi connection around the hotel. Win-win for all! Ha!

Book your next family staycation with Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium from their website.

Now where shall we check-in to next for our next family staycation? Suggestions?

Activities for Kids at SAFRA Punggol Clubhouse

Whenever there is opportunity to bond with Zara one-to-one, I would try my best to treasure it and enjoy as much as I can. That’s what we did couple weekends ago at SAFRA Punggol – experiencing how a “Little Punggol SAFRA Explorer” was like.

It was time for Zara’s nap but I thought the activities and my companionship would keep her awake and excited. It was so at first, but it didn’t last.

We arrived way too early at SAFRA Punggol, me alone with Zara. The place was packed on a Saturday afternoon – with families and lots of kids! We waited around the lobby area and I could sense the sleepiness kicking in for Zara as the clock ticks by.

We were both relieved when we finally got the activities going together with other family bloggers.

First stop for us was at ARTARY at Level 4 of SAFRA Punggol. ARTARY provides art classes for kids and their space is very nicely done up! Love the interior and how the wall murals make the whole place very whimsical and fun.

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer DayWith just less than an hour for this activity, we did our best to create our version of Sunflowers (or “whatever flowers” in our case) by Van Gogh. This was the first time Zara got to do painting work in a classroom setting. I must say her attention and focus was much better than I’d expected. Well I was admiring her concentration with the task on hand until she got bored and tired. 2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer DayOnce we’re done painting and got ourselves washed up from all the paints, we headed down to Pizza Hut for a special pizza making session. By this time (around 4pm), Zara’s level of tolerance is almost zero. She refused to walk, refused to wear the Pizza Hut chef hat, refused to take photo… she was just not ready to cooperate at all. 2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

Until Ah Ma (grandma) came along.

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer DayThis girl of mine is also Ah Ma ???. She adores her grandma and would do anything and everything as long Ah Ma is with her. Just look at that smile on her face! It was a relieved for me really, because I was super famished and tired by that time. I was happy to just hang around while Zara enjoys the rest of the day with her grandma at SAFRA Punggol. I took a back row seat being the photographer and videographer for the day. 2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

Note: Pizza making session is still not available at Pizza Hut SAFRA Punggol at time of this post. You can contact them to enquire about events should you be keen to find out more.

While our pizzas were being baked in the oven, we headed to the highlight of the day. SPLASH!

2016 Apr 30 - SAFRA Punggol Little Explorer Day

When we shared about Splash@Kidz Amaze a year back, that post brought our entire site down because everyone was excited about the first and only indoor water playground in Singapore! We were looking forward to checking the place out since then, and finally we got to step into the real thing! But guess what?

Zara fell asleep!! This poor girl was totally exhausted after all the fun and lack of nap that afternoon, she knocked out after making her jellyfish art and craft. By the time she woke up, it was almost 8pm and the cranky just-woke-up-girl spent less than 10 minutes in the water. I was very upset for her, she had been looking forward to splashing at the playground for a very long time.

If you’ve not been to Splash@Kidz Amaze yet, this video you got to check out.

We will be back soon on a weekend evening, because that’s when the magic and music kicks in. Can’t wait to get splashed and have a hell lot of fun and wet time with my girls. Pricing and party packages at Splash@Kidz Amaze available on their website.

Here’s the list of other activities and things you can do at SAFRA Punggol:

  • Bikes @ Waterway
  • EnergyOne
  • Games Room
  • Manekineko (KTV)
  • Member’s Lounge
  • Yoga Inc.
  • i Darts LAVA (opens early May)
  • Orchid Bowl (opens 5 Jun)
  • The Spa by The Ultimate (opening date to be confirmed)
  • Artary
  • BazGym Gymnastics School
  • LCentral English
  • NurtureStars Preschool
  • Splash @ Kidz Amaze
  • StepUp Learning & Dance
  • Tien Hsia Language School
  • Yamaha Music
  • Stamford Education (opens 1 Jun)
  • Taekwondonomics (opens 1 Jun)

And with so many activities and families, there must be food too! Here are the dining options available at SAFRA Punggol:

  • issho family restaurant
  • Pin Si Superior
  • Pizza Hut
  • Siam Thai Tuckshop
  • Nom La La by Bakerzin
  • Jack’s Place (opens 30 Apr)
  • Culinary Experience Studio Powered by Bosch (opens May)
  • Heavenly Wang (opens early May)
  • McDonald’s (opens 15 May)

SAFRA Punggol is located at 9 Sentul Crescent, Punggol, Singapore 828654 next to Punggol West Loop – PW1 Sam Kee LRT station. You can also take a stroll from Punggol MRT station, which will take approximately 6 to 10-minute.