Out with the Old, In with the New

2015 has arrived and before too much of it slips by, I wanted to share some thoughts here, after having been away from this space for so long. 

2014 was not an easy year both on the personal front as well as in general, with incredibly devastating disasters and atrocities happening across the world. I have found myself on many occasions being deeply saddened, overwhelmed by despair, or sunken with a deep sense of loneliness. The struggle to find reasons, answers, solutions to things have taken its toll and many times, I have felt like giving up, tempted to forget about always choosing the right and the good, and instead give in to the strongest currents.

Thankfully, I have not been forsaken, and although no one person has been able to be alongside me this whole journey, there have been many dear ones who have given me time and have listened to my heart. To those of you, I thank you, and seek your forgiveness for not having shared more of myself, not because I did not want to, but simply because I somehow could not bring myself to do so. It has been incredibly hard to share of myself even with the closest, and needless to say almost none of this dark side has appeared on the blog. This reticence on my part has made a mark this year, and I don’t quite know what to make of it. 

On this note, I have decided to draw this blog as it is to a close. For several weeks now, I have mulled over shutting it down completely. However, I have now decided to keep it running, for it has been my sidekick for almost 10 years, and killing it might risk a part of me dying. For now, I will no longer be doing anymore reviews or sponsorships, and will likely not attend any more media events.  I have been completely shite at responding to blog emails this past year, and it is time that I start the new year right by being clearer about what this space is going to be.  I would like to thank all my blog partners and sponsors in the past years, for giving us gratifying experiences that we mostly would not have done on our own. Many of these experiences are happy memories in our hearts and minds. This blog will now just simply be a space for me to say my random piece, unfettered by timelines and what-nots, including (hopefully) my annoying perfectionist streak.

From tomorrow (2 Jan 2015), I will closing my life chapter of being a stay-home-mum, and will be back in the workforce. It was one roller-coaster ride coming to this decision and putting things in place to make it happen. For now, I am going to roll with it, and hopefully live to tell my story. 

In this new year, I hope to continue to plug at my “Eliminate and Concentrate” motto, to keep the big picture while working on the small things, and to work at being healthy in mind, body and spirit to run life’s marathon.  

Thank you all for being a special part of my life – and here’s to a better 2015 for everyone!

Nutty for Nutella Breakfasts (Giveaway alert)

One of my earliest memories of Nutella was watching a friend pile on a huge scoop of the chocolatey spread on a slice of bread. The resulting Nutella sandwich had a layer of creamy spread almost as thick as the bread itself! This friend, as far as I know, still likes his Nutella goodness lathered on bread in generous proportions.

I don't blame him. It is hard to go wrong taste-wise when gooey chocolate is in the picture. Add to this to the wholesome flavour of hazelnuts, it is not difficult to see why Nutella is a popular choice as a breakfast spread, or something to be devoured in scoops...(oops, did I just say that?)

I do like to vary my children's breakfasts, and Nutella has provided a convenient option. It does not need to be refrigerated, taking up no fridge space, and provides that touch of sweetness to brush away the sometimes-morning-blues.

Here is Bun looking very pleased with her share of Nutella:

Nutella Giveaway
Would you like to win for yourself TWO 200g jars of Nutella?
If so, leave a comment on this Facebook post, answering the two questions posted there and leaving your email address.

This giveaway will end on Wed 8 Oct 12 noon, and 3 winners will be selected soon after. Winners will have to collect the jars from the Rise & Shine office.

All the best and have a good one for your next breakfast!

A "My Little Pony" 5th Birthday Party

My beloved firstborn just turned five recently. FIVE. Can you imagine that? I organised a "My Little Pony" birthday party for her, and through all the doing - listing, planning, buying, sorting, baking, decorating - I found myself on several occasions wondering how on earth all those years passed by so quickly.

This year, my little grown-up girl started thinking about her party from the start of the year. She decided on the theme, and gave me a handwritten list of names of schoolmates whom she wanted to invite. It was a lovely, lovely time watching her quietly (and sometimes shyly) enjoying the time with her friends and family.

We set-up a few stations - for hair extensions, making of bracelets, bubbles and Lego. We then played games - pin the tail on the pony, a dress-up relay, and the well-loved pinata. After cake and dinner, I took out some glo-sticks for the children to play with and make bangles - they were a hit as the sun had set and there was a cool breeze blowing. 

This post's few photos give a glimpse of the party, without compromising our guests' privacy. There are many happy faces in the photos that we received, and they will be will treasured. The photos were taken by a young man from my church - a budding photographer who has taken photos for several weddings of mutual friends. He Facebook page is here, and Tumblr here, if you are interested to see more of his work.

Happy birthday my Bubbles. We love you.

Spraying away the sickies with B-Sanitized (Discount Code)

Just look at this little one, enjoying her "kid-sized" ice-cream cone, oblivious to the attention she was getting from other customers around, amused by the intensity of her enjoyment, and dark brown ice-cream smeared all over her mouth and later, nose.

Both my girls inherited their great love of ice-cream from their father. He is most happy to take them for ice-cream treats, not only because he gets to have a treat for himself, but also because he absolutely delights in watching them enjoy the dessert. For myself, the one with the non-sweet-tooth, I love watching my girls eat ice-cream more than eating it!

Bun has started playschool for a couple of weeks, and as expected, she caught the sickies a few times - the usual fevers, runny noses and coughs. Ice-cream was sometimes used as a source of comfort during those periods!

With two children, it is also really handy to have B-Sanitized to chase off the bugs that linger around the house. Young children are known to be least hygienic, and in our home, it is not uncommon to have mucus smeared onto various surfaces (yuck but yes).

You might recall that I wrote about B-Sanitized in an earlier post. Here are photos of the nozzle, that sprays a fine mist with a rather pleasant scent (even for the sensitive nose I have). The spray shoots upwards, from the hole on the top, rather than from the side, so it really feels like you are shooting off the bad guys when you use this! Haha!

So where could you use this spray on? We target taps, door handles and the potty. I also try to use it on the handles of the ride-y toys that go down to the playground with us - the tricycle, bicycle, and the skate scooters.

We use the spray on the items after a quick wipe-down, and leave it on to dry. It is therefore not difficult to maintain such a routine. If you need to use something quickly however, it is best to let the spray stay on for at least a minute or so, and if the item is still damp, you can gently using a piece of cloth to dab on it.

The special promotion is on again for A Dollop of Me's readers!
Use promotional code "corsage" to purchase 2 cans of B-Sanitized for only $72 (U.P. $79.80).

This offer is valid till 30 September 2014, so go shop now in preparation for the start of school again next week!

Thank you, Our Lifestyle Shop!


September is upon us. How has everyone been?

I have been trying hard not to reply with the word "busy" whenever I am asked a question about how I am. Yes, there has been a lot to do - preparing for and attending the Singapore Blog Awards (that was awesome, you should read the post about it if you haven't already!), meetings with potential work bosses, exploring pre-schools with daycare facilities, preparing for Bubbles' birthday party, taking mum out on her birthday, and learning to solo parent more often, now that Roboman is onto a new job with more frequent travel.

Recently, I absent-mindedly parked by car at the side of the carpark at our apartment, waiting for someone. I did not realise that my car was at an angle that made it challenging for another car to park. Before I knew what was happening, a neighbour, a man, rapped at my window and told me off. I was shaken and felt terrible, and the word "preoccupied" somehow popped into my head as an explanation.

My mind certainly has been preoccupied. There is a lot I am thinking about, pondering, asking, figuring out. There are a few more months to go before I head back into the workforce, and there is a lot to sort out within this time. It is an emotional time for me, but unfortunately also a very private type of emotion that I am unable to fully express, and when I try, my descriptions always fall flat compared to the depth of emotions I feel.

Anyway, on to more concrete things:

It is Teacher's Day celebrations this week and we have taken time to paint water colour bouquets for my girls' teachers. My girls were so delighted to distribute the gifts, and it was really heartwarming to watch them receive hugs from their teachers. To all teachers reading this, Happy Teacher's Day! You make a difference.

The one-week September holidays are happening next week. Are any of you going for a holiday? I recently wrote a post on Travel-Friendly Food for Children on petite travellers. For the first time, I deliberately planned a styled shoot for the post. If you can, I would be thrilled if you could pop by to have a look, and I hope you find the tips useful too!

Till the next post, see you on Instagram!

People Impact's IQEQ Programme Review & Free Trial Class

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited via Rise & Shine to experience one session of People Impact's IQEQ Programme. Bubbles attended a class that included children from aged 3-6, and I sat in to observe the first half of the lesson. This post is written to share about this programme, and some of our experiences when Bubbles attended the class. (You can sign your child up for a free trial session during the upcoming Rise & Shine Expo. Details at the bottom of this post!)

A morning of light, friendship and flowers

Photograph c/o Jasmine of Scissors Paper Stone

If you have seen my Instagram feed last week, you would have noticed a few beautiful photographs of flowers. A few friends and I congregated at the beautiful new home of Jasmine of Scissors Paper Stone to spend some time together.

We were there to chat about some computer technicalities (sort of!), but we were also treated to a beautiful breakfast and an opportunity to each do a floral arrangement to take home. The morning was so very short, as we each had to rush off to pick our children from school, or to run other errands. But a short time well-spent can be so uplifting for the soul.

Jasmine's home is so wonderfully light-filled that I managed to capture some lovely shots of our time there. I leave you with a photo line-up of our wonderful morning:

Sanitize with B-Sanitized (with a Discount Code)

Sometime ago, I shared about KONK, a great product from Our Lifestyle Shop. Recently, we have been introduced to another product from this same shop, the B-Sanitized Disinfectant Spray.

Families with young children or aged relatives, who want to keep the home as germ-free as possible, especially during bouts of illnesses, may find this a useful product to have. It is not uncommon to hear of family members taking turns to fall sick one after another, creating a seemingly never-ending cycle that is as worrying as it is tiring. B-Sanitized is able to kill viruses, bacteria, moulds and fungi (see here for the EPA Efficacy Kill List), helping to prevent the spread of germs in the home.

2 Ways of Using B-Sanitized:

The interesting thing about this product is that it can be used in two different ways for slightly different purposes.

Half-depress of trigger -  A small amount of B-Sanitized will be sprayed, allowing you to clean small surfaces like phones, keyboards and taps.

Full-depress of trigger - The lock-down of the trigger allows the canister to fully dispense in a very fine mist, and be utilized to fully fog/fumigate all exposed surfaces in the chosen room. When this is done, the recommendation is to leave the room for up to two hours, to allow all the fine mist droplets to dissipate and fall to the ground where they can no longer be inhaled.

B-Sanitized is designed to remove any germs already present, however it also leaves a fine residual antimicrobial coating that can last a few days, providing ongoing protection.

I will be sharing in a later post about our experience in using this product with the above two methods. In the meantime, Our Lifestyle Shop is offering my readers a discount on this product!

One can of B-Sanitized is priced at $39.90.
For A Dollop of Me's readers, use promotion code: corsage to purchase 2 cans for $72 (savings of $7.80). Use one can to clean small surfaces and the other for a room fumigate!

This offer is valid till 30 August 2014. Happy shopping and cleaning!

Review: My First Games - Pylos

When I felt laid my eyes on this game, I was struck by how beautiful it is. I am first and foremost a visual person, and then kinesthetic. When the smooth wooden balls were in my hands, their lovely wood grain and comforting weight were a delight to my senses.

My friend, Pamela of My First Games, and I were meeting up for coffee a couple of weeks after my mother was discharged from hospital after her long illness. The always kind Pam had brought along games that she thought my mother and father would like to play at home, since they were going to be home-bound quite a bit as my mother was still rather weak. Pylos was one of the games, and I have since purchased one set for myself, and another to be gifted to a dear friend soon.

This 2-player game is suitable for older children and adults. Its handy size makes it an ideal game to take along for trips! The basic colours and straightforward rules remind me of my childhood favourite game of Othello! No fancy pieces and pictures, but still loads of fun and friendly competition. The central idea is to aim to place the last ball on the top of the pyramid.

If you follow My First Games's Facebook Page, you will see Pamela's passion in playing games with her three children. It is encouraging to see how she engages each of them in games play, and in the process they learn to follow rules, take turns and strategize, among other skills.

My First Games offers a good variety of games suitable for children of different ages. I have my eye on the popular Spot It!, Froggie Boogie, and Snorta, and recently bought Ticket to Ride Europe for a nephew. Pamela is always very helpful in making games recommendations.

Do pop by My First Games to have a look. It is a great site for picking up games for your children or as gifts!

Review: I-Theatre's Round the Moon, Blue the Sky

We were invited to watch I-Theatre's latest production "Round the Moon, Blue the Sun" this week.

Bun has never been for a theatre show before, and upon seeing that the production is suitable for children from aged 2, I readily said Yes, and looked forward to taking both Bubbles and Bun along.

Here is the synopsis for Round the Moon, Blue the Sky:

Why is the moon round? 
Why are there so many colours and shapes in the world? 
Come, journey with Smallest Dragon as she goes in search of answers in a magical, whimsical and colourful world. 

I-Theatre brings you a special collaborative project featuring the best from Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Round the Moon, Blue the Sky is a fast-paced, lively and physical production about Smallest Dragon. She is always asking questions, poking her nose into things and curious about the world. What are her favourite words? WHY and HOW and WHAT! One night she sees the moon, and wonders why it is the shape that it is. Fascinated, she sets off to find other round things – and quickly realises that there are many other important shapes too. As she explores, she also discovers the wonder of colours! 

Combining a unique blend of physical theatre, riveting puppetry, black light magic and lots of audience interaction, this highly engaging and educational performance is specially tailored for children from 2 to 8 years old; although older children and grownups will find much to amuse, enthrall and engage too! 

This 1-hour production is shown in the cozy Alliance Francaise Theatre, a stone's throw from Newton MRT station. Little children were provided with small Ikea footstools to sit on atop the seats, to give them a better view, and sitting stability.

The story centres around three main characters - Smallest Dragon, Leaf and Twiglet. Among the three, Twiglet had a fixed mindset that only certain things can be found in specific shapes and colour - for example, only the Moon is round, and only the Sky is blue. Her friends Smallest Dragon and Leaf helped her to overcome her fear of exploring new ideas and what the world has to offer. It was nice to see her overcome her fear.

The performance included music and dancing, and parts where the children were teased into pointing out characters that were hiding. The children loved these bits and Bubbles joined in to shout and point out the characters "He is there! He is there!" while Bun chuckled and mimicked her sister. The children were also taught to "Look, See, Explore, Discover" - four actions that we remembered after the show ended.

Towards the end of the story, two children were invited on stage to play with some large cut-outs of different shapes. They were asked to form different objects with the shapes. This was quite interesting and Smallest Dragon and Leaf played along as well, forming objects such as an ice-cream cone (a triangle and a circle), and a cat (a circle and two triangles).

This production is based primarily on actions and sounds, with minimal actual conversations. The actors only spoke key words and phrases to make certain points, and would use vocal sounds and other gestures to tell the story. It was interesting to see how little words are needed for the story to unfold. However, on the flip-side, because of this, I feel that this production is probably more suitable for younger children, say 5 and below, as older children may prefer or expect actual words to be spoken or sung.

I was glad that both my girls said a resounding Yes when I asked if they enjoyed the show :)

Children were treated to a photography session with the characters after the show too - a nice keepsake especially as Bun's first brush with theatre.

Round the Moon, Blue the Sky is running till 27 July 2014 and tickets are still available.

The show times are:
Mon - Wed: 10am & 2pm
Thu - Fri: 10am, 2pm & 4pm
Sat & Sun: 10.30am & 2pm

Thank you I-Theatre for providing us with four tickets for the show!