Friday, November 17, 2017

Miss Nella Kids Nail Polish Party for Girly Fun!

It's school holiday time!!! *throws confetti* Lil Pumpkin's school actually ended their term one week ahead of the official MOE school calendar so she's actually been enjoying herself for the past week already haha..

Last weekend, she opened her own little "beauty salon" and bonded with her cousin, Lil J, over a sweet Nail Polish Party with Miss Nella Kids Nail Varnish for some girly fun!

Lil Pumpkin has always been a true girly-girl at heart, like her mama (⌒▽⌒)☆

Yes, sometimes she isn't your typical little lady and likes her zombies, ghouls and vampires, tumbles & rumbles in dirt and plays with "boys' toys" like swords, cars and Nerf guns, but give her the opportunity to dress up, accesorise or play with make-up, and she's happy as a lark!

But with Lil Pumpkin's eczema condition {which thankfully hasn't flared up for a while!}, we've to be really careful about what she touches or puts on her skin though.

Miss Nella brings innocent and whimsical nail painting safely to kids of all ages and is great for all those little princesses, like Lil Pumpkin, that like to emulate mummy in getting creative with their nails.

Let's not talk about adult nail polishes, but in case you didn't realise, not all children's nail polishes are safe for kids either. The toxic trio of Dibutyl Phthalate {DBP}, Toluene and Formaldehyde dominate many children's nail polishes currently on the market. Such chemicals are banned in Europe due to their links with cancer, birth defects and other illnesses but you will not find a trace of these harmful substances in Miss Nella nail polishes.

Miss Nella kids' nail polishes are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, odourless, and peels off easily! It uses a water-based formula so unlike most nail polishes, it's comes off easily... which is good for kids since you don't need to use any smelly or harsh nail polish remover, and they can also play with it during term time over the weekends and not be worried about heading to school with their funky coloured nails hehe.

For Lil Pumpkin, she usually gets bored with the colours / patterns on her nails pretty fast so I'm not too sure how long they would last without actually removing them since she likes to peel them off just after a day haha. But I reckon two coats of nail polish will last maybe 3-4 days without chipping?

Miss Nella kids nail polish range comes in 23 jolly colours and includes solid and shimmer glitter shades.

Lil Pumpkin obviously likes her bling bling nail polish glitter colours the most o(≧∇≦o) and has a very decent collection of the colours, so enjoys going crazy trying out different nail-art patterns and mixing colours..I bought her some cheap but super cute nail stickers from Daiso to use too.

Isn't the packaging for each nail polish just adorable?! The bottle is small and light enough for tiny hands to handle, and the cap screws on tightly to prevent any leakages when closed properly.

The bottles are pretty full so I've to remind Lil Pumpkin not to tilt the bottles when opening them.. would be good if they had an anti-leakage system of some sort when the bottles are open.

Lil Pumpkin takes about 2 strokes to cover her nails completely. She's no pro and colours out of her fingernails most of the time, but good thing is that the nail polish peels off easily even when applied on the skin so she has no problem fixing it.
I'm rather impressed with Miss Nella nail polish pigment.. Colour goes on smooth, is true to the color in the bottle, and dries super-quick.

Miss Nella also sells a Funky Monkey Nail Dryer. Simply paint your nails, gently press the banana button and this cheeky chap will blow a stream of cool air onto your nails until they're dry!

There's feedback from other customers that the airflow output is not that good. True, the stream of cool air is really very light but like I mentioned earlier, the nail polish dries super-quick, plus kids' nails are tiny/small, so you don't really need a strong wind for the nail polish to dry.

But I think that it complements the nail polishes well and brings more life to the make-belief scenario of "being like a little grown-up putting on nail polish". It is very cute and appealing to the kids and to be honest, even I find it cute and want one for myself!

If I'm not wrong, there is not many, if any, nail dryers for kids so even if it doesn't work well, it still works good enough for kids as a toy. Parents should not have any expectation of them working like a "normal" adult nail dryer. No, it is a pretend-play toy nail dryer made for kids, and should be treated as such. 

So much joy on her face! (⁎⚈᷀᷁▿⚈᷀᷁⁎) Love this girl so much.. she worked really hard for her first-ever major exams and I'm gonna make sure that she enjoys this school holidays to the fullest!

Lil Pumpkin had fun choosing the colours and helping Lil J apply the nail polish too haha...

Lil J had a go at it herself as well!! Way to help her improve her motor skills! Although, she DID get the nail polish mostly on her hands and her Funky Monkey Nail Dryer.. instead of on her fingernails (*≧∀≦*) Good thing they are safe for her baby-soft skin and clean off easily..

As she picked up each nail polish bottle, it was really cute to hear her say the name of each colour haha.. who knew nail polishes made for a good learning tool too?? (*′☉.̫☉)

In Singapore, Miss Nella Kids Nail Polish is found exclusively in Tünönim online children's boutique, which also sells children’s apparel, accessories and other fantastic household products that are safe, stylish and comfortable for your kids.

Promo: Tünönim imports Miss Nella Kids Nail Polish direct from the UK. Currently, they are having a promotion and each bottle of nail polish cost S$11.50/bottle {U.P. $13.90}, and the Funky Monkey Nail Dryer cost S$16.50/piece {U.P. 18.90}. International delivery is available, and free delivery to Singapore addresses for orders S$80 and above.

*Disclosure: This is a review for Miss Nella Singapore. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 10, 2017

One-on-One Personal Training - Finally, I Have My Visible Abs!! | Operation 健康アップ

It's been about 10+ months since I started training one-on-one with my personal trainer, Superman and sorry I haven't been updating much on the blog {more so on Instagram and Facebook so do follow my progress there if interested}.

But then I recently had my progress measurements and felt insanely happy that I finally have some visible abs that I just had to put it down in my blog for memories' sake hehe. Oh man, you have NO idea how long I've wanted this!! Having a strong and ripped core is like.. my #forevergoal haha.

Even at my leanest in Genesis Gym, I never saw my abs like this. There's still a long way for me to get leaner and hopefully be able to get my stubborn lower abs to come out of hiding and see them even more visibly. From the above pics, you can see how I've progressed from the first day I started with Superman on 3 Jan 2017 at 23% body fat, to how I can see parts of my upper 2 or 4-packs, and obliques on 3 Nov 2017 at 16.9% body fat.

{However, do note that from my training with Superman, I've learnt that measurement numbers.. even body fat percentage numbers, don't always give a true picture of your health, body composition and fitness. I'll touch more on that in a later blog post.}

I want to show you though that the most significant change came after 12 Sep 2017, when I became even more committed to keeping to my food calories at 1,450 calories/day. I'd say I was 98% committed and exceeded my daily calorie intake slightly less than 10x {??} during that 8 weeks period. And in that period, I lost about 2% body fat just by making a change in my diet, with no change to my workouts.

Before that, I was maybe 80-90% committed and exceeded my daily calorie intake almost weekly, especially during the weekends, and sometimes by more than 1,000 calories!! #eeks

So my point is even with minimal lower body work {because of chronic back/knee injuries}, non-existent met-cons, a little cardio {stair-climbs}, the better quality food intake and painful 98% adherence to my daily calorie intake really made a huge difference in getting me much leaner. The truth is, if you want to lose fat, your nutrition should be your number one focus. What you do in the gym takes second place.

Yes, building muscles to lose fat is important, but if your nutrition is not on point, all that is moot too.

Yesterday I reached a happy milestone 🤗 I finally hit 55kg! This was the FIRST fitness goal I set out for myself {before I knew more about building muscles & body fat composition etc} when I first started training regularly in Jul 2015 but even at my leanest & strongest in Genesis gym, I never hit this weight 🙊🙈 It was ok too, since in the grand scheme of health & fitness, the numbers on the scale don't matter.. but honestly at the back of my mind, there's always a nagging thought of wanting to reach this goal... It's been a long and hard road {not only because of the tedious workouts, but mainly because I'm such a foodie and controlling what I eat can be quite painful!} so I'm really glad.. no, ECSTATIC actually! to finally reach this milestone at my current strength and leanness. Even if it took me nearly 2.5 years!! 🎊 Many thanks to my family and trainer Superman for the support, motivation and sometimes tough love they gave me all this time. And also to my blog readers and friends who drop me messages of encouragement too. Thank you all!! 🙌🏻🌸 #sakuraharuka #aifitnessdiary #trngwithb #fitfam #dontgiveup #finallydone
A post shared by Ai Sakura  (@aisakuraharuka) on

Having visible abs is a superficial goal, no doubt, but it signifies a lot of the work and endurance that went into it. It's not just about working hard, but working smart too.

During my time with Superman, there has been a number of ups and downs. Sometimes as I'm getting stronger and nearer to my fitness goals, something unexpected happens and sets me back. There are periods where I'm one step forward, and then two steps backwards so as much as I am happy with my achievements in the gym, there have been many frustrations too which kind of put me off writing about it.

Case in point - since end September, my left wrist and right shoulder got injured at the same time and that really limited the number of exercises I can do to a very, very small pool especially since I've a chronic back problem. Since then, I haven't been able to do a single pull-up, push-up or even pronated shoulder press and Superman has to help me lift the weights up for certain exercises because I can't even support them on my own.   

It's never fun getting injured and after training my upper body for the past year or so since my back injury started to be more's a wonder that my upper body didn't break down even earlier. The first day I went in with these fresh injuries, there was a moment with Superman and I just stared blankly at one another when we realised that there's so much less that I can do now.. BUT even when I felt so low, he stayed positive, redesigned my programs AGAIN and we trudged through as best as we could.

I really did feel pretty low and frustrated, especially since I was progressing in my pull-ups and shoulder presses. I can't do deadlifts or back squats anymore, and then it just felt like even those exercises were "taken away" from me. Sigh.

Anyway this year has been pretty tough mentally and emotionally with all my injury setbacks that hampered progress in most of my fitness goals. However, when I can't train as hard or as often as I want to, there had to be a shift in mindset to training smarter, focusing more on recovery, getting my nutritional diet in check, and overall being more positive and stronger mentally.

When your gym progress has stalled or is stalling, you tend to want to work harder in the gym to get it moving again.

However, it's actually more beneficial to not do that, and instead focus on what you're doing outside the gym. It took me a while to understand and practice what Superman and the boy have been trying to tell me the past year to slow down, sleep more and eat better... and I do think I'm in a much better place now than when I first started, thanks to their support and guidance.

These abs were built this year not with insane, heart-pumping killer metcon workouts or heavy weights {both of which I'm unable to do at the moment}, but with smart workout programming, diligence in keeping to my nutritional diet calories with more quality food, and making an effort to rest more. Factors which also help me in rebuilding my body and recovering from my injuries.

For now, I'm looking forward to ending 2017 on a high note, and starting 2018 all fresh & injury-free! ❤ 

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

Genesis Gym Personal Training Updates:
The Beginning - Signing Up for Personal Training

Friday, November 3, 2017

Go Local :: Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle & Dragon Kiln

In the midst of the year-end exam madness, Lil Pumpkin took a break and attended her classmate's birthday party at Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle on a Sunday afternoon.

What a unique venue for a birthday party!! Not your typical indoor-playground-kids-go-berserk party venue, which Lil Pumpkin loves no doubt, but this was a place that I've been wanting to go to myself for a loooooong time!!

However, it is at a far end of Singapore for us i.e. very ulu and inconvenient to get to, and lazy me being me, I've been putting it off until now... so so glad that we had a good nudge to head down and explore a bit!

I think I have a love-to-party face, which isn't exactly wrong since I do love parties, so I always get thrown into party-planning at work or for friends' gatherings.. but honestly, there's a difference between party-attending, and party-planning. I hate party-planning.

Too much effort, coordination and time required. And most of the time, you can't even appreciate the party you meticulously took to plan as well as you've to make sure it runs smoothly!! Geez.. I'd rather just show up and enjoy the party as a guest haha..

Looking back, I think the only parties I willingly planned was for our wedding, and for Lil Pumpkin's manyue party and her 2nd birthday. Even then, her parties were kept small for only close family and friends, and I have no idea how I managed to pull off organising our wedding celebration held over 2 days with around 250 guests, and even some coming in from overseas.

Knowing the amount of work that goes into party-planning, I'm always grateful to the parents of kids' whose amazing parties Lil Pumpkin gets to attend, no matter they be small & intimate, or big & extravagant.

This recent party she attended tops my personal fave list though as it incorporated a bit of Singapore heritage / culture into it.. something you know I hold dear in my heart and hope Lil Pumpkin can experience more of.

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle {aka TK Pottery} is a family pottery business and where you can find one of Singapore's oldest "dragon kiln" that was built in the 1940s. There are only 2 dragon kilns left in Singapore, with the other one being in Jalan Bahar Clay Studios {near TK Pottery}.

Dragon kilns are made of bricks and take up large spaces. TK Pottery's 36m long dragon kiln is about 2m wide and can hold up to 5,000 ceramic pieces. Wood is used to fire the kiln from various openings {known as the dragon's "eyes"} and it's only fired when there are about 3,000 clay pieces.

Therefore, its dragon kiln is only fired up 3-4 times a year after amassing enough pieces from its weekly workshops or from the public {yes, you can bring in your own pieces to fire too!} and outsiders can also take a look at how the labour-intensive process is done too.

FYI, the firing process requires the dragon kiln to be kept lit for 24 hours at a constant temperature of 1,260℃!!

TK Pottery offers regular programs and workshops for kids and adults in one of their 4 studios that includes materials, glazing and firing.

From their website, I see that a 2-hr workshop costs S$48/adult, S$38/child {7-14 years old} and S$65/parent + child {below 6 years old}.

The birthday party was held in one of their studios which was a second-floor loft. Pretty cooling, cozy, and kampong-ish hehe...

I'm not sure if the balloons were brought in by the parents of the birthday kid or provided by TK Pottery for their party package, but it certainly made the otherwise dull atmosphere more cheerful and kids-friendly. 

It was a drop-off party and apparently TK Pottery charged the party by head so if parents wanted to sit-in, they had to pay additional charges to join the pottery party workshop...

Not that we wanted to, really haha. The boy and I are happy to drop Lil Pumpkin off to play with her friends while we had a little me-time to ourselves (*≧▽≦) Lil Pumpkin likes it that way too heh.. We can always come back another time to join a pottery workshop.

At the beginning of the party, the kids went for a little educational tour at the dragon kiln to learn more about its history and how it functions. I'm sure they were all very excited to know that their precious DIY clay pieces would be fired up in there too!

One thing I notice about Lil Pumpkin's parties nowadays, especially with her classmates, is that it's mainly organised via Whatsapp groups. I have my fair share of apprehension regarding Whatsapp groups {see my tongue-in-cheek list of 10 Types of Parents You Meet in Whatsapp Groups} but they are no doubt very useful too.

Throughout the party, the host mum sent us photos and updated us on the party going-ons so that it seemed like we were there with the kiddos too..

Apparently there was one workshop instructor who taught the kids how to mould the clay to make a fish {??} holder and they got to decorate and paint it themselves.

I can't wait to see Lil Pumpkin's finished pottery product! The first one she has ever made!! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

Other than hosting pottery workshops and classes, TK Pottery also sells a large variety of ceramic items that are decently priced.

There are aisles & aisles and shelves & shelves of pots, plates, cups, mugs, vases, jars, bowls etc. and it will take probably a whole day to look through everything! As it was really hot that afternoon and the boy and I wanted to do groceries while Lil Pumpkin was at the party, I just had a quick walk-through but I definitely want to be back again to pick up some stuff... and maybe do a little Christmas shopping too hehe.

The next dragon kiln firing is on Sat 11 Nov 2017, 9am and there are free guided tours at 1pm & 5pm {no reservations required}. We might try to head back there that day.

TK Pottery is collaborating with the famous pottery artist, Ros Lee, of Polkaroos fame. If you like her work, you can shop for some of her goods there or even attend one of her workshops.

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle
85 Lorong Waras
Open daily 9am - 5pm {except Chinese New Year}
Tel: 6268 6121

Other Singapore heritage places:

*Note: This is not a sponsored or paid advertorial. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Letter to my girl #20: Your First Major Exam

Dear Lil Pumpkin,

You're having your first-ever "major" exams now..

Since you started primary school, we've been blessed in the sense that your school has always placed spiritual and character development over academic excellence, so there has not been much stress in your studies.

There's no stress over tedious spelling lists to memorise, daily homework, weekly tests, or regular after-school hours enrichment classes that some of your peers in other schools are going through even from P1. Perhaps because of this, you love going to school and learning with your school friends at a comfortable, leisurely pace. Even during the holidays, you would tell me that you miss school and your friends (◡‿◡✿)

Since there's not much pressure from school, Mummy and Daddy has been pretty chill with your studies too _へ__(‾◡◝ ) Too chill, perhaps?

Now with your first "major" exam, I guess studying is feeling more intense than usual. Mummy definitely is feeling the "heat" as like any parent, I hope for you to do well.

Throughout the school year, you complete your homework as required and fare pretty well in your spelling and tests, so there is no reason for you not to pass your exams. However, "mini tests" are definitely different in scale and complexity from year-end exams whereby you have to remember everything that was taught for the whole year, so that's why we've been spending much more time on revision and practice recently. 

平时不烧香,临时抱佛脚... Perhaps we should have started exams prep & revision earlier, rather than trying to cram everything in this past month. I'm sorry Lil Pumpkin, that Mummy didn't help to plan earlier and instead left everything so last minute. The time constraint certainly makes Mummy even more anxious and I'm sorry if it made me even more impatient and bad-tempered.

Mummy will learn from this experience and teach you to have better, more consistent study habits too, I promise. Especially with your Chinese. Your Daddy and I are not worried much for your English or Maths.. but your Chinese, sigh... much work needs to be done there.

You have no idea how happy and relieved we felt when we found out that you didn't need to have Chinese composition exams this year! haha.. (*^▽^)/

Even during this hectic exam period, Mummy and Daddy still remembers that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". We make sure that you still get to do your favourite crafts at home {painting & hama beads-work}, play outdoors and even join a few parties with your friends to "de-stress" and have fun! ( ◞・౪・)

It may not be as care-free or relaxing a time as what you are used to, but I hope that you understand that there are different seasons and time for everything. There are times to eat, times to rest, times to exercise, time to watch TV, times to play, times to be with friends, and times to be with your books.

Just hang in here for a few more weeks and soon, we can all enjoy the year-end holidays and head back to Japan where we promised to bring you to Disneyland again!

I love you, Lil Pumpkin. Even when Mummy scolds you harshly over your studies, Mummy still loves you very much and just wants the best for you and your future. Remember that, ok?

Love always,