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Friday, April 18, 2014

Fitness Diary :: The Only Constant in Life is Change

I was very excited to start on my CrossFit classes regularly. For about two months, I went once a week, looking forward to increasing my training to twice, or maybe even thrice a week if time allowed. CrossFit was terribly exhausting, but it pushed my limits & made me feel as if I really worked out and gave it my all.

However, after a few weeks, my right knee started to hurt and feel weak. I was a bit worried because the boy had recently just injured his knee in akido, and I didn't want to ruin mine. I think I strained my knee because there are a lot of burpees, squats and dead lifts in the CrossFit workouts that I did. These exercises are quite inevitable in CrossFit, and even if I lessen the reps, I can't really avoid them.

My knee got a bit worse and felt weird even when I was walking so I stopped going for CrossFit or my runs {hence the lack of #AiFitnessDiary updates on Instagram} to recuperate. I felt a bit discouraged, like if I can't even CrossFit or run, I might as well not exercise. So drama mama, haha.

But the boy reminded me that even little daily exercises count, and we can even do it from home. He told me about the Tabata Workout, which uses high-intensity interval training.  It is an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods, and each session lasts just.. 4 minutes. Seriously!

What you do is to perform an exercise for 20 seconds. It can be anything from planks, to sit-ups, to jogging on the spot etc. Then rest for 10 seconds. Do the same or another exercise for 20 seconds, and rest for another 10 seconds. Continue for 4 minutes—a total of eight 20-second intervals and that's it :) Sounds simple, but you will burn :P

If you want to up the challenge, do multiple sets of the Tabata Workout. I usually do 2-3 sets each time daily, resting one minute in between. I use a Tabata Timer iPhone app to help me time my workouts, and so far this is working out for me as I choose only exercises that don't strain my knees, and work on my "problem areas" like flabby tummy & underarms. I'm also running 1-2 times a week, and am still thinking of joining a class somewhere as I like the energy and motivation in group classes. Maybe I might go back to Muay Thai, or maybe I'll learn something new again like Yogilates. Yes, that's a thing haha.

The only constant in life is change. If you feel that an exercise or workout isn't suiting your needs, just change and find one that does. It might take a few tries.. but don't give up! It takes anywhere from 2 to 8 months to build a new habit in our lives. And it is not all or nothing... it is ok to mess up and try again.

You can check out my 5 quick tips for more motivation to keep you moving and if have any group exercise class to recommend me, let me know!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {linky}: Family Obento Ideas - Fried Mushroom Noodles, Chicken & Tomatoes | Week 16

 What's in my obento this week? 
Fried Mushroom Noodles, Chicken & Cherry Tomatoes in
Shinkansen lunchbox.

Obento {お弁当} is a home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine and doesn't always need to be complicated or time-consuming. I hope to inspire you to create delicious, everyday obento meals for your family with these simple ideas and tools.

These photos are part of the 52 Weeks Family Obento Ideas series.


Sakura Haruka's wordless wednesday
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kids Beach Essentials: Havaianas Kids Colourful Collection + {Giveaway}

The recent thunderstorms have brought much relief to Singapore's dry spell at the beginning of this year. But thank goodness there's still much sunshine despite the rain! :) Lil Pumpkin loved her Disney Princess Ariel Havaianas and recently, we got another pair for her to wear to the beach or her favourite waterplay parks when the weather's good.

Personally, I like that Havaianas is pretty well-made and lasts longer than most other flip-flops. It also has a good grip for the feet with the Japanese zori-textured pattern.   

For Lil Pumpkin, I guess the wide variety of designs with her favourite cartoon characters appeal to her! This time, she chose a purple Disney Tinker Bell pair of Havaianas. She liked that it has Tinker Bell's playful fairy friends, Rosette, Iridessa and Silvermist, on it too :)

There's a special promotion going on for kids this month from Havaianas, For every 2 kids' pairs you purchase, you'll receive 2 free special-edition Havaianas Colouring Book and Crayons set! It's on now while stocks last at Motherswork, Mothercare and Havaianas stores at Raffles City & Takashimaya, so you hurry on down if you want them~

Actually no worries even if the weather is gloomy and Lil Pumpkin has to stay indoors. She can still have fun with the many pages of cute sun, sand and sea pictures in the Havaianas Colouring Book to colour to her heart's content! :P

Just for my special blog readers and friends only, I have THREE Havaianas Kids Hamper to give away! Each hamper consist of one pair of kids flip-flops {ANYTHING OF YOUR CHOICE!} + one special-edition colouring book set. Havaianas kids range has sizes suitable for babies 9 months old, all the way up to pre-teen.

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

2. Be a Common Thread Singapore page fan

3. Like & Share this Facebook photo and tag a friend. Make sure your post is public!

4. Leave me a blog comment telling me what you can do with your kid while wearing Havaianas + FB name you used to like the pages + email add. For those unsure of how to comment, choose "Name/URL" option then add your name and comment. If you prefer to send me your email add privately, leave a comment for the other answers then contact me at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com.

THREE random winners will be chosen. Just complete all 4 simple steps!

* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Sunday, 20 Apr 2014 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winners will be announced by Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 on this blog post and notified via email. Winners have 3 days to reply, or the prize will be redrawn.
* Sakura Haruka is not responsible for any prizes lost, damaged or misplaced in the mail.
* Chosen items are subject to stock availability.

* Disclosure: Havaianas provided books for kids hamper for review and giveaway. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Penang 2014 | Spices Home, New Georgetown Heritage Shophouse Accommodation for Families & Big Groups

2 weekends ago I was in Penang, Malaysia with some friends for a short getaway. We've been planning this trip ever since most of us traveled to Macau together so very happy that we made it here~ We got to enjoy Penang's sights, sounds and... food!! Oh goodness!! We were there for 4 days and each day, we ate at least 20 dishes at around 10 different locations hahahaha... Valyn and Willy {both from Penang} were so amazed at how much Sau Jun, Karen & I {food-crazy Singaporeans} ate :P

It's no wonder that I gained 2 kg and was noticeably "chubbier" {thanks hubby!} when I returned from the trip. No regrets though, and I'd gladly do it again heh.

We all stayed at Spices Homes, which is a new heritage shophouse accommodation in Penang's culture centre, Georgetown. I'd never stayed inside a shophouse before and was very happy to have this experience!

This group photo was taken at Syok @ Chulia Hostel, which is the largest flashpacker {new-ish term describing an upmarket backpacker} hostel and heritage home in Georgetown. The same group that manages Syok Hostel manages Spices Homes so when we checked-in, we were also given a tour of Syok Hostel. The rooms are really spacious & clean, and I was surprised to see that all their beds are super-single sized! They also offer free wifi and breakfast. You should definitely check this hostel out if you're coming as a couple or with some friends.

For families and big groups, I'd suggest you try out the place we stayed, Spices Homes instead. It really feels like a home away from home, with plenty of space for the kids to run about.

Spices Homes is actually a row of 7 two-story shophouses that have been restored with its original wood and floor boards. Each house is about 1400 square feet and comes with a king size bed, 2 single beds and a sofa bed to accommodate 5-6 persons comfortably. It is also fully air-conditioned - a must-have in Penang!! It felt even hotter in Penang than Singapore because they don't have many tall buildings or trees to provide shade. On some days, it was really quite unbearable so maybe that's why we had to escape the heat into cafes and restaurants #anyexcusetoeat

Anyway, if you're driving to Penang, parking is available just in front of the houses, but it's not free or part of the accommodation. You will have to buy hourly parking coupons from the convenient stores etc. and display them.  

As you walk into the shophouse, you'll immediately enter the living room area with the sofa bed, coffee table, TV and DVD player. Love the rustic upcycled wooden pallets that are used for the furniture!

Next to it is the dining area.. Valyn used it most of the time to do her work when we were back :P The shophouse is fitted with free wireless internet too :)

At the back of the shophouse is the outdoor kitchen, courtyard and toilet areas. The layout is very much like how it used to be in the olden days so yes, all the toilets are all outside, even the one on the second floor. Unfortunately, there's only one shower in the whole shophouse which can be a bit inconvenient if it's at full capacity.

This little nook was the favourite part of the house for me. In Singapore, I don't really have time to finish a lot of my books so I usually bring them with me on trips. I'm glad that I could sit here on these old rattan chairs to read, relax and rest. How serene!

I'd love to have a nook like this in our own home too!!! *I hope the boy reads this hahahah*

The kitchen is very well-quipped with a fridge {we had chilled durian one day so that was fantastic!}, microwave open, electric cooker, electric kettle etc. Great if you want to fix a snack for yourself or prepare food for the kids. Continental breakfast & hot beverages are provided and the service staff will deliver it to you daily at night for your convenience.

All the bowls, plates, forks, spoons, knives and cups are provided as well. And oh, Spices Homes just opened early this April so everything is brand new!!

If I didn't tell you, you'd probably think I was in my own kitchen :P

The beautiful wooden stairs leads you up to the second floor.

There's grills and a children's gate at the staircase to protect the young ones, not to worry.

The main bedroom area with the king-sized bed. All the beds were soooo comfy and firm! Linen, pillow & blanket are all provided. Karen, Valyn and I had a good time having our girly chats here at night hehe.

The location of Spices Homes is really good as it's just walking distance to all the popular street art, food haunts and roads in Georgetown e.g. Kimberley Street and Penang Road. The main bus terminal, Komtar Bus Terminal, is only 15 minutes walk away.

I'm also pleased with its safety as the roads surrounding the shophouses are lighted, and each shophouse is fitted with an electronic door access system, and heavy wooden bolts from the inside. Of course, we never walked out alone at night and always bolted our doors and windows before we left the shophouse, and before we slept.

  • For light sleepers, bring your own ear plugs and eye mask as it can be noisy at night since Spices Homes is near the main road, and there are no curtains in the bedrooms.
  • You can borrow DVDs from Syok Hostel.
  • Towels, shampoo and soup are provided, but bring your own toothbrushes and toothpastes.
  • Opposite Spices Homes is a very famous street stall selling Kuay Tiao Tng that you shouldn't miss! I'll share more in my upcoming Penang food post ^^V
  • It will cost about RM40-50 taxi ride to get here from Penang International Airport.

Spices Homes
2-14, Lebuh Clarke, George Town, Penang 10050, Malaysia
Rate: RM800/ house per night for 4 pax {weekdays} and additional RM60/night per pax up to 6 pax. Additional RM50/house for weekends {Fri & Sat}, school holidays & PHs.
Website: http://www.spices.staysyok.com/homes/spices-homes/

Promo: Quote "OPCL" for 50% off the weekday rate i.e. RM400/house per night for 4 pax. Valid until Mon 30 Jun 2014.

* Disclosure: Accommodation was provided by Spices Homes for review. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.