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Friday, July 31, 2015

Bub & Me: Disney on Classic ~ A Magical Night Asia Tour @ The Star Theatre

After waiting for 2 months since the news came out, we finally brought Lil Pumpkin to watch Disney on Classic ~ A Magical Night live orchestral performance.

It was our first time watching a show at The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre and frankly speaking, I don't really like the venue for a performance.

It is located within the Star Vista mall building and if you've been there before, you'll know that except for the shop units, most areas of the mall are non-air-conditioned to be environmentally-friendly, which is commendable to encourage energy-saving and fine if you're in casual t-shirts and shorts.

However, if you're going for a theatre performance you should be appropriately dressed as such and The Star Vista is too hot a place for you to walk around in and have dinner at before a show, as we would usually do, in such outfits. Especially in our current hot weather!! Poor Lil Pumpkin wore her Queen Elsa dress and was perspiring so much, even before the show started!!

Inside The Star Theatre was uncomfortable for her as well as they have high backs for the seats, so even if she sat on the booster seat, it was still hard for her to see the stage and performers even though we had pretty good seats in front. I think kids should be about 8-9 years old to be able to sit comfortably and enjoy the view. Most of the time, Lil Pumpkin sat on the boy's lap.

But other than these environmental misses, the show itself was enjoyable as I listened once again to some of my Disney favourites and reminisced about my childhood days watching the films with my mum.

We usually buy the musical souvenir programs but didn't have to this time as they gave out complimentary copies. Yay! Even if you don't collect souvenir programs, be sure to grab one as you'll need it at the end of the show.. *wink*

Lil Pumpkin was at first a bit confused why there was no acting and costumes like the "usual" performances we had seen before, but soon warmed up to the idea of it focusing mainly on the orchestra and animated international singers who made our Disney memories come alive with their songs, dance and original movie footage from Snow White, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, projected overhead on a large cinematic screen.

She liked the audience sing-along sessions and was especially pleased with the "cannonball" special stage effect where they shot hundreds of little glow sticks through the sky for an extra sprinkling of magic! It looked like shooting stars to me actually (●´∀`●)

As part of their 12th anniversary, this concert reunited 8 veteran singers that performed at various parts of the show's running.

We thought the 3 guys were hilarious and such a hit! Love love love Joey DeBenedetto who sang as Sebastian and Flynn Ryder. He reminds me of Patrick Dempsey with his smooth grooves and suave looks actually (◡‿◡✿)

However, if you are expecting them to all sound like the original singers of the Disney songs, you might be disappointed.

They are all accomplished in their own right but I felt that Carlyn Connolly didn't have enough "oomph" in her voice for Ursula's iconic song "Poor Unfortunate Souls", and Jodi Bluestein certainly didn't sound like Elsa in the movie at all.

I was looking forward to hearing Elsa's most prominent song "Let It Go"sung live with Lil Pumpkin since it's her fave Disney song but somehow it lacked the strength and vulnerability that Idina Menzal gave in the original, so this rendition was a little disappointing for me. 

Overall, it was a lovely time-out with the family as we love Disney-anything and the magic of Disney was brought to life right in front of us. I'm glad Lil Pumpkin got to experience orchestra music in such an endearing way and hope to bring her to more of such concerts in the future too.

Disney on Classic ~ A Magical Night was in Singapore for two nights only on 16 & 17 July 2015 and is now performing in Taipei. If you missed the shows this time, check for updates on Disney On Classic Singapore's website to see if they'll return next year!

Also check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore :)

* Disclosure: This is a review for Disney on Classic ~ A Magical Night Asia Tour Show. All opinions are my own. Unless otherwise stated, image credits to Disney on Classic.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday {linky}: Singapore Playgrounds - Rocky Adventure | Week 25

Where is this week's playground?
Block 16, Prince George's Park.

FUN Factor?
6.5/10. Another playground with a "rock-climbing" theme
but one that Lil Pumpkin loves.
Rather small with just an additional slide, 2-3 other metal climbing structures,
and an elevated mini-tunnel but it's good enough for kids.

You can almost "hear" Lil Pumpkin's laughter in one of the photos!
Seeing her happy face is really a reason why we love to bring her to the playgrounds! 

Play is important for children to her to learn, grow and discover the world we live in.
As we visit as many fun, nostalgic and even quirky playgrounds as we can this year,
I hope to inspire you to make play an even bigger part of your kids' lives and
explore much more of our beautiful Singapore!

This photo is part of the 52 Weeks Singapore Playgrounds series.


Sakura Haruka's wordless wednesday
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reality Check | Operation 健康アップ Week 4

Woohoo I survived 1/3 of my personal training fitness program!! ╲(。◕‿◕。)╱ They say it takes 4 weeks to see your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world. So far, I think there's pretty true.

Like I mentioned in Week 3, I haven't noticed any significant weight change, but some body areas like my butt and thighs, feel even more toned. And over the weekend, I noticed that my waist is a teeny bit more shapely too (◡‿◡*)

Gym Workouts
No major changes in the week so I went for my usual Monday and Friday workouts. Superman took me for my training on Monday and as usual, he was very encouraging and patient in teaching me about the right form for my exercises.

I'm starting to feel a little embarrassed that I can't seem to get it totally right!! Feel like I'm such an idiot.. and for some reason, I can't really focus well during my trainings too. Like I know I can go harder, but my mind is weak.

Maybe because I'm tired after work, or maybe because there's so much "distractions" from people talking and telling me what to do {previously, I used to just put on my earphones and blast music to "stay in the zone" when working out}, or maybe because I'm just... hungry??? hahaha

Justin took me on Friday and OH MY GOODNESS! It was a really, really hard session. He increased weights for most exercises and really pushed me to make sure that I did a good rep for each exercise. I still wasn't getting the Catabell Romanian Deadlift completely right and it was taking too much time so we changed back to the Lying Hamstring Curl. He even put his fingers under the weights to make sure that I controlled and lowered the weights as looooooow as possible to touch his fingers before I curled my legs to bring them up again.

I asked him why this session with him seemed so hard??? He said.. maybe because I'm training with him??? (⁎˃ᆺ˂)

This is my latest gym workout plan with weights I'm using:

A1. Dumb-bell Split Squats, 4 sets, 12 reps - 9kg
A2. Dumb-bell Chest Supported Row to Chest {Neutral}, 4 sets, 12 reps - 10+9.5 {I think}
B2. Lying Hamstring Curl, 4 sets, 8 reps - ??? {More than 22.5kg}
B3, Bench Dumb-bell Shoulder Press {Twist}, 4 sets, 12 reps - 9kg
C1. Crunches, 3 sets, 15 reps
C2. Battling Ropes, 3 sets, 60s - Double ropes

Had a talk with Justin after my session with him and checked to see if my goals were still realistic with the current rate I'm going. He said that I am improving, and am stronger than when I first started, but to lose the amount of weight I want to by the end of 12 weeks would be kinda difficult {something the boy said too}. However, it is no problem to change my body shape since I'm building muscles, and drop a clothing size or two.

I guess like how most girls equate the result of their exercises, weight is the easiest to see if there's any improvement in our body after working out so that was what I was focusing on as one of my main goals too {together with toning & strengthening my back}, and honestly, I was a little bummed that maybe I might not be able to achieve this goal. However, I know that there are other factors like strength, muscle tone, energy level, fat percentage etc. to show improvements too and that's what I'm going to consider more of as well.

Justin mentioned that my workout programs will change from Week 5 and I think they'll be adding in more fat-busting exercises in it. I'm quite happy to change the program as I really don't like to do split squats because every time I squat, I'm afraid I'll bust my knee again! Although.. the likelihood of that happening now is pretty low since I've the personal trainers to look out for me and make sure that I'm doing it safely with the right form.

Home Workouts
This week I added a mini workout concentrating on my core on Tuesday, my usual home workout on Wednesday, and a gym workout on Saturday.

The boy gave me this program to build on my core muscles:
1. Crunches, 50 reps
2. Bridges, 50 reps
3. Left Side Crunches, 50 reps
4. Right Side Crunches, 50 reps
5. Ab Wheel Roll, 50 reps

Pretty doable and I'll slowly increase my reps to 75 each in my next session.

No changes from previous week for my home workout but for Saturday since I had to follow the boy out early, I went with him to our club gym in the morning and did a variation of my home workout program there with the weights machines.

I actually prefer to work with weights machines as you don't have to crack your brain on getting the right form with them plus it's easier to change the weights compared to the dumb-bell system we have at home. Also, there's more motivation at the gym when you see so many people working out!!

Since my gym workout plan is going to change, I reckon Jen will be changing my home workout plan too so I emailed and requested him to change it to one using the weight machines and free weights in the gym.

Food Nutrition
This week was slightly better I feel as I made the effort to cook a HUGE pot of meat and vegetable sauce {lots of mushroom yum yum yum} to last me about 3-4 meals. I used it as a topping/sauce to eat with a block of tofu so was pretty filling.

I think the hardest thing about keeping to my food plan is that I eat out a lot. Not just because I've no time to cook, but because I like to eat with friends and family, and these usually take place outside. It's not as healthy as eating home-cooked meals, of course, but baby steps.

Being a foodie, it's hard to keep to a really strict diet and completely eliminate certain groups like carbs or sugar so I just try to make healthier choices like choosing fish slice soup mee sua instead of my fave dry mee pok {which usually contains oil & lard}, or ordering teh si kosong ping {iced tea with evaporated milk & no sugar} instead of teh ping {iced milk tea}. I'd still treat myself to some fatty food I love e.g. durian!! but limit the amount I eat.

Funny thing happened last weekend. Valyn was in town so I met up with her, SJ and Leo at Sushi Tei and I asked them to order me a Sashimi Salad with Wafu Dressing first since I was going to be late. That's my go-to dish there when I'm being healthy, and luckily I did because turns out Leo read my posts on starting this fitness program, which was quite unexpected since he doesn't usually, and knew that I was supposed to be eating right :P Luckily I didn't ask them to order me curry rice, tonkatsu or chicken karaage which I love too!! hehe At least I'm showing that I'm walking the talk.. phew!  

Thoughts for the week
I always tell Lil Pumpkin that if she doesn't help herself, nobody else can.

So, I've been reading up more on my own as well on how to get the most of my workouts, and how to substitute different food for what I like to eat, or what are the food I like to eat that are actually really healthy and I can eat MORE of  e.g. edamame since just 1/2 cup of them a day really punches up the fiber, protein and vitamin/mineral content of your diet.

The thing about me also is that the more you tell me I can't do something, the more I want to prove you wrong. I guess that's what parents call "defiance" but something I'd see more positively as "perseverance"?  {just had an epiphany that maybe Lil Pumpkin is like this too!!!}

Since I've been told that I may not be about to reach my weight loss goal, I just want to push myself harder to make sure that yes, I can. It is still not too late since I've 8 more weeks left in my program. Not to say it's do or die for the 8 weeks, because even if I don't reach it within 8 weeks I'll still continue to work towards it after, but this is the current deadline I'm aiming towards.

It's not just about reaching a number on the scale, it's about proving to myself as well that my mind is strong enough to focus and make things work. It's about motivating myself to work better and harder, to make myself stronger both physically and mentally.

Wish me luck!!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Baking Made Easy for Busy Families + WIN Betty Crocker Gift Sets

Since our lives are so busy nowadays, I haven't had time to cook at home as much as I used to, let alone bake. However, whenever I try to especially for Lil Pumpkin's birthday {e.g. this year's Red Velvet Cupcake Cones} or special gatherings, I usually turn to Betty Crocker's fast and simple mixes.

They save me so much time and effort, and there's hardly a chance for me to ruin the recipe so they turn up delicious 99% of the time! Such a life-saver for busy mums like me (*^▽^)/

There's really no need to buy a thousand-and-one baking ingredients just for the occasional cake or cookie, when you just need 3 with Betty Crocker and I love that they have a wide variety of cake, cookie, muffin & brownie mixes {some with even low-fat options} to choose from.

No worries even if I want to change the given box recipe for an interesting twist - I'd just check out the Betty Crocker website for tips, cute ideas and recommendations from other Betty Crocker home bakers. Easy peasy.

This year, as part of Singapore's 50th birthday, Betty Crocker will be attempting to set a Guinness World Record for "Largest Cupcake Mosaic".

This initiative will see people from all walks of life - regardless of whether they have baking experience - in a collaborative effort to give back to the community as the finished product will be distributed to partner beneficiaries and charities.

Drop by the event with your children and experience how easy it is to make a delicious cupcake with Betty Crocker cake mix and witness the unveiling of the record this Saturday 1 Aug, 4pm in Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

For any enquiries, please email bettycrockersg50@gmail.com ☜(⌒▽⌒)

If you enjoy fuss-free baking too, just for my own special friends & blog readers, I've THREE Betty Crocker Gift Sets {worth S$50} to give away!! You can bake to your heart's content during the National Day long weekend with these goodies! ~ヾ(^∇^)

Each exclusive Betty Crocker Gift Set will include the following:
* 1 x Betty Crocker Complete Buttermilk Pancake Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Brownie Family Fudge Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Double Choc Chunk Cookie Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Cookie Chocolate Chip Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Super Moist Devils Food Cake Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Blueberry Muffin Mix
* 1 x Betty Crocker Super Moist Red Velvet Cake Mix

Giveaway Method: Random Draw

1. Be a Sakura Haruka Facebook page fan

2. Subscribe to my upcoming newsletter. Make sure the email add you used to subscribe is working as I'll be using that to contact the winner. Remember to confirm the subscription and check your junk folder in case the confirmation email goes there.

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

4. Leave me a blog comment telling me the only 3 ingredients needed to bake your own premium cake/ cupcake using Betty Crocker cake mix + FB name you used to like the page + name you used to subscribe to the newsletter. For those unsure of how to comment, choose "Name/URL" option then add your name and comment.

Bonus entry:
1. Follow me on Instagram {@AiSakuraHaruka}
2. Repost this photo on IG & tag @AiSakuraHaruka #ASHxBettyCrockergiveaway #BettyCrockerSG50 + your FB name. Make sure your post is public!

THREE random winners with the correct answer{s} will be chosen. Just complete all 4 simple steps + bonus entry {if you like}!

* Open to Singapore residents only.
* Ends Friday, 31 July 2015 2359hrs {Singapore time} 
* Incomplete or inappropriate entries will be deemed invalid and will not be included.
* Winner will be announced by Sunday 2 July 2015 on this blog post and notified via email with further instructions on how to collect prize. Winner have 2 days to reply, or the prize will be redrawn.

* Disclosure: The Betty Crocker Gift Sets were provided by Betty Crocker for giveaway.