What's New at FOX Kids & Baby

As promised, here are some of the lovelies from the latest collection at Fox Kids & Baby. I love the soft hues, and the pretty use of lace! That floral cardigan is so me, and I wanted to get one in my size. Too bad for me the largest size was no longer available, so I got one for Bubbles! Also spotted were some adorable designs as an ode to Mickey Mouse!
I'm told this new collection has been very popular and some of the items are selling out fast. I noticed this as well when I went to an outlet twice in a day and some of the items I had my eyes on were already taken by my second visit.

In case you missed it, see this post about the current special promotions. On till 15 Dec so you still have time to shop! 

Kitchen Exploits - Cookbook Commendations | ToTT's Best Brunch Ever - Delicious Morning Recipes to Savour

Last week, I cooked the exact same thing for lunch five days in a row. It was a flavourful and nutritious lunch - A rice porridge cooked with a rich broth, with seasoned minced pork and a medley of vegetables. Truth to be told, Bubbles requested to eat it every single day. Still, it shows just how uninspired I have been in the kitchen, even though I have been faithfully dishing up good, clean food for my family.

I was therefore quite delighted to attend the launch of ToTT's new cookbook "Best Brunch Ever - Delicious Morning Recipes to Savour", together with the presentation of ToTT's new e-store ToTTStore.com.

Best Brunch Ever is a visually captivating cookbook that features 24 recipes contributed by 8 well-known chefs in Singapore. I hardly ever attend media events sans kids, and never before on a weekend, but I really looked forward to watching seasoned chefs in action, and to see recipes come to life. We were treated to demonstrations by four of the 8 chefs featured in the book: Dan Segall (Fat Cow, Kinki, Bedrock Bar & Grill etc), Antonio Facchinetti (Prego), Nicolas Joanny (Nicolas Le Restuarant), and Chi Quang Trinh (Addictions Cafe and Remedy Bar).

We were treated to tasting portions of Cornbread Wedges and Bacon Jam (the bacon jam is seriously good!), a super easy-to-prepare Spaghetti Piccanti, Eggs 'a la coque' that were as delicious as the beautiful way they were presented, and Bahn Cuon, a yummy Vietnamese street food that I loved eating when I was in Hanoi for work. I was impressed with the food and enjoyed every bite (feeling a tad guilty that I left Roboman to mind the kids). The guilt will give me the push to make the same stuff at home for him!

The cookbook retails for only $12.90, and I have been telling friends to just grab a copy. I love it that it showcases brunch ideas from across different cuisine types, including "The Great Singapore Breakfast" by Chef Eric Low, featuring homemade kaya and old school rojak. For me, I am going to pen down the ingredients for some of the recipes to try out at home, starting with the bacon jam!

I would also like to share some features of the new ToTTStore.com:
- Over 1,500 products for a complete online store experience.
- Free delivery with purchases above $200.
- Linked with FB Connect, allowing you to sign in with your Facebook account.
- Includes a Wishlist feature where you can create a wishlist of products that you can share with others. (Great for use as a gifts registry of sorts!)
- Has a detailed Product Comparison feature that includes information about similarities between products chosen to be compared, empowering you to make a more informed decision before you make your purchase.

Considering how so many people shop online these days, I think it is fantastic that ToTT has launched this e-store. Now, excuse me while I go browse the site while the kids sleep!

Special Deals at FOX Kids & Baby

My girls, Bun in particular, have practically been living in FOX Kids & Baby clothing. The brand's wide selection of cotton pieces makes it easy for mixing and matching within the brand, and with other items in my daughters' wardrobe. I have been keeping an eye out for their dressier pieces, such as cute little skirts for Bun (as above), items with pretty lace trimmings, and lovely tiered maxi dresses (we got three when new colours were brought in!) for Bubbles.

From now till 15 December, spend $60 nett in a single receipt and you can purchase an exclusive FOX skate scooter (worth $79.90) at only $19.90. You can also participate in an instant draw where you stand to win prizes including FOX vouchers, hotel stays, and Sony mobile phones! FOX-C members also get to enjoy a 15% off regular-priced items (with a minimum purchase 2 pieces).

I hope to share with you the latest looks from FOX Kids & Baby soon, but you may want to get your hands on them first at the stores!

Joy of Giving with Cadbury

A cool bus-ride with lots of chocolate to munch on! What a treat it was, especially for the kids! We were invited to go on board the Cadbury Joyrider over the weekend, to learn about Cadbury's "Joy of Giving" Campaign and to experience a journey into the mystical land of Cadbury - Joyville.

We were treated to fun dress-up props to ham up for photographs, lots of games (where I received a Marvellous Creations Peanut Toffee Cookie giant chocolate bar for being the fastest chocolate eater), and of course we were plied with loads of mini Cadbury chocolates to eat on the journey. Bubbles was quite overwhelmed by the sheer overload of chocolate available - she sat quietly throughout the ride, enjoying the view, and steadily munching on one chocolate piece after another!

I too, was secretly munching! I am an absolute Cadbury fan and you will almost always find Cadbury chocolate in my fridge. Want to know some happy news? Cadbury has launched its “Joy of Giving” campaign, and from 1 November to 31 December, Cadbury will donate S$1 for every S$15 purchase of Cadbury products. All proceeds (up to S$30,000) collected from this campaign will be donated to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund – Cadbury’s community partner. So, now is a great time to buy a stash of chocolate for yourselves or as gifts!

If you are thinking of taking your family on a Cadbury Joyrider ride this school holidays, you will be glad to know that as part of the “Joy of Giving” campaign, the Cadbury Joyrider will be making its appearance to the public again from 21 November 2013, beginning at the heart of Singapore’s business district – Raffles Place.

The rides are free and you will get a glimpse of the Joyville workers as they bubble into the real world, sharing joy and magic, with fun-filled activities and Cadbury treats for everyone!

Here are the details:

Cadbury Joy of Giving Experience:
21-22 November 11am-4pm: Raffles Place
1 December 11am – 3pm: SAFRA Open House
14 December 1-5pm: Downtown East

Cadbury Joyrider Routes:
23 November – 25 December: Details on the locations, routes and times can be found on the Cadbury Facebook Page.

Family Trip to Hong Kong: Where we ate at

Travel to Hong Kong is often about the food. For us, we had a rough itinerary that revolved around places we wanted to eat at. None of us were fastidious about having to tick foods and places off the list, although a friend did wake up extra early one morning to get a bite at the Australian Dairy Company. We skipped it the day before because of the long queues.

Just for the trip, we decided to go easy on Bubbles' strict diet of no gluten, chicken, eggs and milk. I was really tensed about this but felt that it will be terrible for her to be restricted during a holiday like this. Thankfully, we have been told that she is now a lot less allergic to gluten and milk before the trip, so she ate those freely. I tried not to order chicken dishes, and she did not want to eat eggs on her own accord. 

Dim Sum in most regular restaurants in Hong Kong is very reasonably priced. We randomly went to a large restaurant along Nathan Road, ordered A LOT of food and was surprised that the bill came up to about S$10 per head! A similar restaurant in Singapore would set us back at least S$30 per head for the same quality of food. Unfortunately, we forgot to take photos or to note the name of the place. We were too busy watching our little ones!

A business associate of Roboman made a reservation for us at Yung Kee, famous for its roast goose and century egg. The eggs were really mouthfuls of wobbly goodness, and you can opt to buy them vacuum packed to take home! Bubbles really loved the roast goose. I have always thought goose meat tastes like a milder version of duck and would not crave for it although I know of people who do!

Another well-known place we visited was Tim Ho Wan. We have not been to the outlet in Singapore, as we are not keen on queuing for a long time just to eat. This trip, a local friend went to the eatery early to get a seat for us. Still, we weren't allowed in until our entire party turned up. The food was good, beyond doubt, but the wait, crowds, and the cramped seating without the availability of high-chairs made it a meal that was not so enjoyable. Nonetheless, it was really lovely to catch up with an old girlfriend whom I have not seen in yonks!

I would also like to share about two little eateries we discovered at IFC mall. We somehow ended up hanging out in this mall quite a bit, once when a few of our kids were napping!
We stopped by at Panino Giusto for a snack and coffee. It was a totally random choice. We were tired from walking, kids were napping, and we just wanted a place to sit and tank up. My parma ham - crazy girlfriend ordered a platter of ham with panini. It was SO GOOD. Like seriously. I am not particularly a fan of parma ham but this was really tasty. The panini bread was also done perfectly. Warm, with a lovely combination of crisp and chewy. It came served with a cottage cheese dip that was delicious too. After tasting this, we had to order another platter and ration out portions for the kids! This eatery is situated near a large outdoor garden/balcony area that overlooks the harbour. Our kids enjoyed running about there, enjoying the cool winds.

On another day, Roboman and our girls stopped by Fuel Espresso, after being told that it does great coffee. It was a nice, quiet place to enjoy some caffeine while resting on comfy seats. I did like the hot latte I ordered very much. We got a hot chocolate for Bubbles, which she LOVED. It was a real treat having that and being off her allergy-related diet. I also whipped out our usual snacks of dried fruit and nuts, and Bun too, was happy.

Unfortunately I wasn't so trigger happy on this trip, and didn't take a lot of the food we did eat, unlike our last trip to Hong Kong. I am therefore unable to remember names of places we went, or even exactly what we ate! I guess I need to be more mindful the next time we visit Hong Kong. Where and what to eat on a holiday are useful resources to share!

Family Trip to Hong Kong: Nathan Hotel & Disney Hollywood Hotel

When I travel, I am not particular about where I stay. I am usually happy to leave accommodation choice to my travel companions to decide - be it family, friends, colleagues or business associates. As long as I get a clean bed and a warm shower, and am not stuck somewhere far from everywhere we want to see, I am happy. I think my outdoor camping experiences as a schoolgirl, where we slept in mosquito infested tents and had holes in the ground as toilets, have made me quite easy to please when it comes to where I temporarily need to sleep!

This trip was no different. I had no idea which hotels we were going to be at, until a few days before the trip. Thankfully the friends are quite practical. We stayed at Nathan Hotel, that is located right in the heart of Kowloon, along busy Nathan Road. It is a walking distance from the Jordan MTR station, to-go places like an Australian Dairy Company eatery, and the various markets in Mongkok, including the Ladies Market and the Flower Market. Being an older hotel, its rooms are also a larger than newer hotels in a similar price range. Some of the floors have been upgraded too so the rooms are nice and new. We were blessed to be bumped up to stay in a suite, where we had a sitting area as you see in the photo above. It was a particular cool evening and our kids were all in hoodies! (That's Bun in a FOX Baby outfit!)

Bubbles, being used to resort-type holidays, was a little confused as to why the hotel had no pool, and no buffet breakfast! But yes, I suppose this is the type of hotel we want to stay in while in Hong Kong, to leave room for roaming the streets and eating from the various must-eat establishments!

We next moved on to stay at the Disney Hollywood Hotel, which honestly exceeded my expectations. Have a look:

We explored the sprawling hotel grounds while waiting for our room to be ready. Coming from the congested city, it was nice, especially for the kids, to be in a big open space. In fact, it got Bun so excited that she ran and bloodied her chin, horrifying her poor mother. Bubbles enjoyed the castle themed playground, and Roboman amused himself by checking out some of the classic cars on display.

The sea-view room we stayed at was beautiful. It felt bright, clean and fresh, and had adorable Disney touches everywhere. Check out the cup with Mickey ears in the bathroom! That held toiletries like toothbrushes in individual cases. Of course I had to bring the cup (and its ears) home!

Disney Hollywood Hotel is cheaper of the two hotels at Disneyland Hong Kong. I haven't been to the other, so I cannot compare, but I will happily come back to this hotel if we ever go again!

Family Trip to Hong Kong: The Flight

When we were parents of only one, traveling was not difficult. Bubbles was one of those babies who took to her car seat and stroller like fish to water, and could easily sleep in any moving vehicle. When she grew older, she could always stay in her seat for long periods of time, content to do simple craft work, listen to stories being read to her, or simply to chat with us. Give her milk and her bolster and she will be a dream to travel with. Today, she is happy with a blank notebook and some coloured pencils.

Enter Bun, our gregarious and active second child. One of my earliest moments of noticing the difference between her and her sis was when she was put in the car seat as a newborn. She hated it. "Cry? In a moving car? Let's drive more and I'm sure she will sleep." That never worked. Till today she detests being strapped into anything, and would attempt to wriggle out of any seat-belts if she could. Needless to say, traveling with Bun has proven to be challenging, especially after experiencing dream traveler Bubbles.

This trip, with Bun walking, I had to take her up and down the aisle several times. She stopped to peer at other people, and was interested in other kids. She even found some empty seats to do some swinging off arm rests! She also spent some time figuring out her seat belt, plastered our seats with stickers (that we later removed), and tore up a section of the inflight magazine (which led to Bubbles apologizing on her behalf to the flight attendant!).

We flew by Jetstar, given its affordability and choice of flight times. As usual, Roboman ordered meals for us beforehand - food that kept both kids quite happy. I look forward to flying again when Bun turns two, because that means I will no longer need to be her seat!

How do you keep your energetic little ones entertained on a long trip? (PS: We have a drive trip coming up soon and I am seriously getting nervous!)

Kitchen Exploits | Family Favourites #9: Easy Chicken Rice

Chicken certainly is a versatile and popular choice of meat. I absolutely adore Chicken Rice, and miss it especially much now that we no longer cook chicken at home due to Bubbles' allergies. I'm sure this recipe is going to go down well with many!

In this week's Family Favourites, Sherie of Maamaameemoo shares with us how to cook up this local dish in a cheat, easy way! Sherie is am amazing mother of three boys who are all training up to be able helping hands in her home. She bakes and cooks so effortlessly, and has been an inspiration to me since we got acquainted during the Singapore Blog Awards 2011.

Welcome, Sherie!

:: We all know how time consuming is to make the authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice and usually we the busy mummies don't bother, unless we have help from family members or our helpers. With just $2.50 a packet, I would rather tabao to be honest. Hurhurhur.

When I came up with this cheat Chicken Rice recipe, I know I don't have to tabao anymore whenever the family craves it. Moreover, it's one pot meal. So convenient, so easy, and it probably costs less than $8 for this pot of dinner (and it's free range chicken at that!) that serves 5.

With zero chicken fats needed, you can be rest assured that your dinner is also healthy and no less delicious. Of course, if you're shunning long grain white rice, feel free to substitute with any rice that you're currently using.

Hope you find this recipe handy dandy as much as I do! :)

Easy Chicken Rice 
a handful of chopped garlic 
5-6 shallots, chopped 
5-6 slices ginger 
5-6 pandan leaves 
2 cups long grain rice, rinsed and washed 
3-4 tbsp olive oil 
1.5 tsp sea salt 
1 and 3/4 cup of chicken stock/ water 
4-5 chicken thigh, marinated with few pinches of salt for at least 30 minutes 

Sauce (optional):
few dashes of sesame oil 
1 tbsp light soya sauce 

Garnishes (optional):
cilantro or spring onion
  1. Heat up oil in your designated pot or pan. Stir in both chopped garlic and shallot. Fry till fragrant and almost golden brown. 
  2. Add in rice. Well coat it with the garlic and shallot oil. Mix the salt together with water before pouring it in. Arrange slices of garlic and pandan leaves on the bed of rice before adding in the chicken pieces. Cover. 
  3. Using the lowest heat, let the rice cook for at least 20 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the chicken stock/ water. Meanwhile, mix your sauce. 
  4. Serve immediately once it is cooked but not before topping it with cilantro or spring onion and the sauce. 
  5. Enjoy! ::

Sponsor Shoutout: The Groovy Giraffe Online BookStore (with Discount Code)

I still read only hard copy books (yes, fancy that!) and love the feel of a good book in my hands. Amassing a book collection can unfortunately be costly and the bargain hunter in me always pounces on any chance to purchase books at cheaper prices. 

Bring in The Groovy Giraffe, Singapore's first official online remainder bookstore, and let me warn you that it is a dangerous, dangerous place. Here, you get brand new books that are overstock and overprint at up to 80% off retail prices

Besides the great prices, the folks at The Groovy Giraffe also seek to deliver your orders to you within 3 working days. This is a great plus if you are like my husband, who dislikes ordering things from overseas websites because of the long wait for the items to arrive. 

I've another carrot for you to go book shopping: Quote "dollop5off" to get an additional 5% off your purchases (except for bargains)!

Here are some of my purchases, wants and recommendations. I'm listing cook books, books for children, and coffee table books because these three book categories are where I am most likely to spend my money on. Happy Shopping!

Cookbooks (Clockwise L-R): Nigella Express: 130 for Good Food, Fast $26.90, The Geronimo Stilton Cookbook $9.90, Bread Revolution: Rise Up And Bake! $22.90, Happy Days with the Naked Chef $22.90, Gordon Ramsay's Maze $26.90, Cupcakes Giftbox Set $14.90, The Healthy Baby Meal Planner: 200 Quick, Easy and Healthy Recipes for Your Baby and Toddler $14.90, Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival Cookbook $24.90

Coffee Table Books (Clockwise L-R): Modern Asian Living $21.90, 100 Natural Wonders of the World $16.90, One Off: Independent Retail Design $19.90, The Book of Inventions (National Geographic) $24.90, Mini House Style $19.90, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan $22.90

Books for Children (Clockwise L-R): Curious George Bag of Books (8 book set) $25.90, The Berenstain Bears Bunch (includes 8 full books) $25.90, The Wonderful World of Dr Seuss - 20 Book Set Collection $84.90, Cave Baby $10.90, Oxford Reading Tree Atlas $11.90, 10 Nursery and Action Rhymes in Red-Trimmed Bag $39.90, Hansel and Gretel $14.90, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Pop-Up Book $24.90

Family Trip to Hong Kong

Oops the blog has gone off its regular programming! It started with some fobs on my part with post scheduling, and then there was a trip to Hong Kong to experience, and its aftermath to deal with.

We were in Hong Kong with two other families on quite an unplanned trip. The original idea was to book a villa at some beach resort, but somehow we ended up in Hong Kong. Since there were five kids in all, we decided to make a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland as well.

I left Hong Kong with some Disney magic, and a desire to go to Hong Kong again to experience it more fully. I was last there five whole years ago, and there's something about the buzz of the city that draws me to it. Unsurprisingly, we could not do and see as much with all the kids in tow this round. Bubbles did not enjoy the city at all, and when asked why, she said that it is 'noisy' and that she couldn't hear any birds chirping! She said a vehement 'No' when I asked if she would like to move there to live (something I wouldn't mind doing for a couple of years!).

There is now luggage to unpack (I'm so much quicker at packing than unpacking), and Bubbles to nurse back to health. She came down with a lingering fever while we were at Disneyland (poor kiddo), and we are doing what we can to fight it.

Here are some Instagram shots of our trip. There will be more proper photos soon!