Thursday, October 22, 2020

Little Flower Hut - Happiness in a Chocolate & Nuts Hamper XOXO

We are right in the middle of exam fever now. Lil Pumpkin is done with her composition papers and oral exams, but her major papers are up next week. 

Especially since our year has been turned kinda topsy-turvy... I feel stressed, she feels stressed, and even her usual easygoing daddy feels stressed I think with the upcoming papers so it was really nice to receive a Chocolate and Nuts care hamper from Little Flower Hut to get us through this nerve-wracking period.

Little Flower Heart is an online flower and gift hamper boutique based in Singapore #golocal

During this uncertain pandemic, a fast and dependable delivery service sounds impossible. There are shipping delays everywhere due to manpower shortage, temporary closures, high shipping volume etc. However thankfully, the Little Flower Heart is one of the few online shops I know that still provide reliable personalised floral delivery services that are delivered on time, any time of the day.  

Fun fact: Little Flower Hut wants to touch the hearts of their customers through their flowers hence decided to rhyme "heart" with "hut" hehe. Also, a "hut" brings to mind that they are a humble business which focuses on putting their customers' needs before their own.

Little Flower Hut's professional florists all have at least 7 years' experience and are very proficient in creating all kinds of floral arrangements to cater to different needs, from bouquets to table arrangements to big celebration flower stands and giant wreaths. A hand bouquet starts from S$35.

If you prefer something simple, they also sell single flower stalks, potted orchid plants and succulents

Honestly, I'm really amazed by the wide range of flowers and arrangements they have! 

Although their focus is on flowers, Little Flower Hut also sells hampers for baby showers {super cute!!!}, halal customers, wine connoisseurs and chocolate lovers. These can all be customised too. 

The kind folks there knew that we love chocolates and nuts so were happy to customise one for us even though they do not currently sell it online. 

I was quite busy with work and Lil Pumpkin's exam prep so gave them free reign to choose what to add, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was full of everything we actually love and eat (♥ω♥*)

Our customised Chocolate and Nuts hamper arrived very well-packed in a rustic rattan basket, which of course I'd reuse to hold our little knick-knacks at home hehe... It was a perfect size for our little family of 3 and nothing was going to get wasted for sure.

It contained 1 x Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate box {6 packs}, 1 x Twix Milk Chocolate Caramel packet {5 bars}, 1 x Mars packets {6 bars}, 1 x Merci Finest Selection {250g}, 1 x Lindor Milk Truffles {200g}, 1 x Tong Garden NutriOne Nuts & Fruit Medley {85g}, 1 x Tong Garden NutriOne Cocktail Nuts {85g} and 1 x Lotte Choco Pie {6 packs} which Lil Pumpkin promptly snuck away when I once I opened the hamper, before I had time to take a pic haha..  

The price of customised hampers varies depending on what items customers want in their hampers, but average cost is around S$80-$100. 

Those interested should contact them at least one week in advance so that the shop can better prepare and assist the customers. They will try to source for the items as much as possible or recommend suitable alternatives. 

I must add that their customer service staff are very friendly and prompt in their replies!

I don't know about you, but I find that no matter how foul a mood I am in, chocolate always perks me up and makes things better ღゝ◡╹)ノ♡

If you'd like to send some flowers or care hampers to lift someone's spirits too, do check out Little Flower Hut's website. They offer free delivery {above S$40} for same-day, 1hr super express, 3hr quickie or specific time slots with no additional GST.

Good luck for the last lap of SA2 exams, Lil Pumpkin! 頑張って!

 For more of  Lil Pumpkin's Primary School journey:


For tips on P1 preparation:

Monday, October 12, 2020

Fitness Diary :: Probiotics 101 - Easy Beginner's Guide & Intro to Youguth Korean Probiotics


I wrote about Probiotics Benefits for Athletes a while back and received some other queries about probiotics for the general public, how to eat more of it, probiotics supplements, side effects etc. 

Some of you have heard about probiotics and its benefits, but haven't taken the step forward to incorporate it into your daily lives because you're still not convinced how valuable it is to your health and wellness.  I really believe it's a life-changer and rank it up there with fish oil supplements, which I hope you are already taking daily too. 

For easy reading, I've compiled some of the questions I've received into a Q&A below. An Easy Beginner's Guide to Probiotics based on some research I've done and my own experience which I hope will be helpful. 

Please note that I'm no doctor and whatever I share on my blog is for informational purposes only. If  you need any medical advice, you should seek advice from a healthcare professional.  

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1. What are probiotics? 
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics defines “probiotics” as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live naturally in your body, and in fermented, raw and living foods. They help to improve or restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut when it's been disrupted by an illness or treatment.
 
2. What are the health benefits of probiotics?
Different strains of probiotics bacteria have different effects. Probiotics can help with diarrhea, constipation, bloating, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, eczema, weight loss etc. 

They can also increase antioxidant absorption, promote higher level of interferons, and improve the absorption of protein and fats, which are crucial in the recovery and diet for competitive and recreational athletes.

3. Who can take probiotics?
Probiotics can be taken by anyone young and old. Even for infants as young as 6 months old, there are probiotics formulas, supplements and food products marketed for babies.
 
4. How do you add probiotics to your diet?
You can eat more probiotics from supplements, or from food prepared by bacterial fermentation.
 
5. What food contains probiotics?
Probiotic food include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso etc.  

However, the dose of probiotics needed daily is not easily obtainable through just diet {you'd need to eat between 2-25 servings of probiotic-rich food products daily!} so personally, I would supplement with probiotic pills to get the core benefits.
 
6. What type of probiotic supplements are there?
They come in different forms like food, drinks, pills, powders or liquids. The most commonly consumed probiotics are strains of 2 main species - bifidobacteria {helps to support the immune system, limit growth of harmful bacteria in intestine, and break down lactose into nutrients} and lactobacillus {helps to produce lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, and increases body's absorption of minerals}. 

7. What are probiotics strains?
Probiotic strains are genetic sub-types of species. Each probiotic strain has a different effect on the body e.g. aiding in digestion, boosting immune-system {B. animalis}, breaking down carbohydrate {B. longum}, decreasing oral bacteria {L. reuteri}etc.

8. How to choose probiotics supplements?
Look for supplements that have live cultures, multiple bacteria strains {a combination of probiotics is usually more effective than a single one}, and large quantities of the bacteria to form colonies {measured in colony-forming units or CFUs}. 
 
Some doctors recommend a daily dose of 10-20 billion CFU is for individuals seeking everyday immune and digestive support. 
 
9. How do you store probiotics supplements? 
Several probiotic strains are very fragile and need to be protected from heat, oxygen, light and humidity. The probiotics might start to break down or die if they are exposed to these elements. We usually store our probiotics in the fridge, if possible, although some supplements don't require them to due to special coatings or manufacturing processes. 
 
10. What are the safety concerns for probiotics?
 For most healthy people with good immune systems, probiotics are considered generally safe since microbes used as probiotics already exist naturally in your body. They are in fact sold over-the-shelf without prescription. However, they may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, gas or bloating for the first few days after you start to take them. 
 
11. Difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria that provide numerous health benefits. Prebiotics are specialised plant fiber {in food like oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic etc.} that humans can't digest but feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Both are important for health and well-being.
 
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For people that do not like swallowing capsule pills, try Youguth Probiotics from Korea that come in melt-in-your-mouth powder that can be consumed right from the sachets or be added into food or drinks. 

Each of their probiotics sachet contains 100 billion CFUs, which as hubby says, is super high. 

I mentioned that a daily dose of 10-20 billion CFU is advisable for individuals seeking everyday immune and digestive support. However, keep in mind that probiotics are comprised of live organisms, are fragile {which is why most of the time they survive longer when kept in the fridge} and sensitive to heat and humidity. 

As such, it makes sense if a probiotics supplement has a higher CFU to increase the survival and effectiveness of the probiotics in reaching your gut, surviving the acidic gastric environment and thereafter improving overall health.

Youguth has developed a patented process that enables probiotics to survive in harsh environment without multiple coatings. This apparently increases the survival ratio of probiotics by over 115% and enable them to be fast-acting

Their product range is very streamlined and comes in 4 different lines that tailor to different age groups, gender and stages of life - Green Energy Up {boost vitality & energy in men and women}, Lady Charming Up {enhances inner health and outer beauty in ladies}, Child Strength Up {enhances immunity in kids aged 1 and above}, and Silver Up {supports digestive system and improves bone health in seniors}.

Each product has at least 4 different strains of bacteria that interact together to support both gut health and everyday wellness. In addition, there are also other ingredients to meet the unique health needs of each target group.

For Lady Charming Up, it has 5 different probiotics strains to promote a healthy digestive tract and is also enriched with Vitamin C, collagen and antioxidants for youthful skin. 

I like the light lemon-flavoured powder that's yummy enough to be consumed by itself. It really does melt-in-your-mouth!!! Very light, soft and extremely palatable which makes it easy for those just starting out.

Youguth Probiotics do not need to be refrigerated but should be stored in a cool, dry place. They come in slim powder sachets, which makes it even more convenient to bring around on-the-go.  

I leave some in my work desk drawer and would often just add it to my morning yogurt as a healthy breakfast to start the day right ( ᐛ )و

Note: Probiotics are live bacteria. Before you add them to any food or drinks, make sure that the temperature is either lukewarm or cold, and not above 40°C. Otherwise, the probiotics will not survive and lose its efficacy. 

Green Energy Up enhances your overall well-being by restoring the digestive balance in your gut. It's enriched with vitamins and ginkgo biloba to lift your physical and mental energy. 

This probiotic supplement is blue-berry flavoured and I think goes very well with smoothies or oatmeals.

For kids like Lil Pumpkin, the milk-flavoured Child Strength Up has colostrum to boost immunity and fight infections, zinc to support cell growth and build normal immune responses, and 7 different probiotic strains to aid digestion and promote microbiome diversity. 

Lil Pumpkin finds it fun to just open the sachet & eat the powder directly from it haha ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The benefits of an improved gut health typically takes minimally 2 weeks of daily usage. 

As I've said before, since including more probiotics in my diet years ago, I think that my bowel movements are more regular and I feel less bloaty. Even on days that I feel extra bloated, like after a heavy buffet meal haha, if I take probiotics immediately after, the feeling goes away pretty fast. 

Youguth Probiotics can be bought from Youguth Singapore website or any Guardian, Unity, Robinsons or Watsons shop islandwide. Each container has 30 x 2g sachets which should last for a month as it is recommended to take 1 sachet per day. 

They currently have a meaningful #YouguthCares social initiative whereby they are showing their solidarity to front-liners in this Covid-19 pandemic and distributing care packages of their probiotics supplements to hospitals such as Alexandra Hospital and NUH. You can show your support by also nominating any organisation whereby you feel that they could use gut health support in the form of care packages to boost their immunity by sending them a message on Facebook page or Instagram accounts. 


* Disclosure: Youguth probiotics was provided by Youguth Singapore for review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own. The content is not presented by a qualified healthcare professional and is for informational purpose only. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please seek medical advice first before trying.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fitness Diary :: How to Work Out Safely in Gyms During Covid-19


Going to the gym nowadays in Singapore during Covid-19 is pretty different from how it used to be. 

For one, public gyms are more strict on registration and capacity. Most public gyms require you to make an advance booking for a limited time slot - so no more just waltzing in as and when you please, and doing a slow 2-3hrs workout. 

Actually even if you have a slot, before you enter the gym, you have to take your temperature and "check-in" for contact tracing purposes. 

Also, to ensure safe distancing, some machines are blocked off and "not-in-use", rather than moved further away from each other, which can be rather inconvenient and affect workout programs as other than cardio machines like treadmills or elliptical trainers, most machines are usually one-of-a-kind in the gyms.

In Singapore, masks are not required during strenuous exercises so most gyms don't make it mandatory to wear inside, but it's still common to see folks doing so. 

It's also more common to see folks sanitising and wiping down the weights and machines before and after sets... which is a very good thing I reckon, because who really wants to sit on or touch other people's sweat???!

Overall, there might be some slight inconveniences when using public gyms nowadays, but at least they are open. I know some gyms overseas are still closed due to the coronavirus #eeks 


Technically speaking, if we follow the rules and are mindful of our own personal hygiene, we should be ok. However, we cannot be complacent and think that they are totally safe. 

In an indoor gym with a confined space, heavy breathing may spread infectious droplets further, and without proper ventilation, this puts you at higher risk of catching or transmitting the disease.

Ultimately, you've to weigh the personal risks and think about how to keep yourself and others safe if you do decide to return to your reopened gym and workout classes. 

How are some tips on How to Work Out Safely in Gyms during Covid-19 which I personally follow at my public club gym {when I'm not training at home or with my PT in his home gym}, and hope you'd find useful too:

1. Avoid peak periods
It differs from gyms to gyms, of course, but at my club gym, the peak periods are usually 9am - 12noon, 5pm - 8pm and weekends. 

2. Wipe machines and equipment before and after use
This should be a no-brainer, but please remember to bring your own towel to the gym. My gym provides sanitising sprays and wipes for us to use, but if yours don't feel free to bring your own.  

3. Maintain personal space
Find a safe spot to work out and do a few exercises, instead of moving around to different machines and putting yourself at risk in being in close contact with others. 

4. Don't do supersets
A superset is a form of strength training in which you move quickly from one exercise to a separate exercise with a short break in between the two exercises. For the same reason as #3, try not to move from machine to machine or spot to spot if you can. 

5. Wash your hands frequently
Wash thoroughly with soap between exercises and especially after your session. 

6. Get in and out
Don't socialise or talk to others unnecessarily and train your bare minimum. I used to roll and stretch after each session at the club gym, but nowadays I leave straight after. Mobility work and stretching can be done at home. 

View this post on Instagram

First time doing DB 20kg for shoulder press! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻 New PR?? Can’t remember what my heaviest weight at Genesis was but I don’t think I hit this weight before 🤔🤔🤔 Like the rest of my exercises, there’s been a lot of stops and restarts due to various reasons like injuries, strains {currently nursing a right wrist strain}, overtraining of body parts etc but I’m glad to have made it up to here 💖 This was actually after my first working set {18.2kg} which looked & felt pretty good so Superman asked if I wanted to test for 20kg. I said why not? 🤷🏻‍♀️ So we did and yay, I did it! First rep is kinda shakey but still strong enough to go for a second. I could prob have done 1 more but had to finish my working sets and didn’t want to tire out ☺️ As usual, feeling rather happy and thankful for reaching a new milestone in my fitness journey 🏋🏻‍♀️🌸 #sakuraharuka #aifitnessdiary #trngwithb #strongnotskinny #noexcusemom #sgmum #sgfitness

A post shared by アイ・サクラ  (@aisakuraharuka) on


If you're still not comfortable of going to public gyms, you can consider training with Superman, my personal trainer

He has his private home gym so if anybody is looking for an excellent personal trainer and a safe place to train, get his contacts from me.

*****

One-on-On Personal Training Updates:

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



Sunday, September 27, 2020

P5 Parenting | Good Luck Gift for the Coming End-of-Year Exams - Fav Florist Preserved Flower Dome

I know I really shouldn't be surprised that Lil Pumpkin's P5 end-of-year exam are closing in fast but honestly, more than ever, this year just flew by!

In about 2-3 weeks' time, Lil Pumpkin will be sitting for her first SA2 paper. 

It seemed like just yesterday when we started the Circuit Breaker and being in "lock-down" mode. And just as I was getting used to being at home more, my workplace opened up again in the middle of Phase 2 and I've to be in the office in alternate weeks. 

So our family schedule is re-adjusting again and somehow, I'm feeling a strong sense of "mummy's guilt" again whenever I've to be back in the office now and can't be there on those days to be home with Lil Pumpkin, making sure she eats and sleeps properly, helping her with her school work, guiding her in exam prep, or just spending time reading and watching movies with her etc.  

When I started working in the office again, I got Lil Pumpkin this beautifully handcrafted Mystic Blue Flower Dome from Fav Florist as a reminder that Mummy is always there with her no matter what, and as an encouragement to study hard for her coming exams. 

It gives off a Beauty and the Beast vibe and came with a single rose bloom in her favourite colour, blue, encased in a high clarity glass dome. I like the black base that makes it look more chic, compared to the wooden ones that you usually see in preserved flower domes.  

The LED lights in the dome brings out the essence and features of the preserved flowers in the dark, and she was so thrilled to give it a place of honour on her study desk 

"Are you sure that's a real rose, Mummy? It's so pretty!"

Lil Pumpkin was very puzzled and surprised to see that there were real flowers and plants inside hehe... 

Well yes, dear. I explained to her that preserved flowers are fresh cut flowers which undergoes a unique preservation process that leave the flowers looking natural by maintaining their original suppleness, shape, brightness and that they can last for several months or even years.

It's not sorcery. Just some sort of high technology heh. 

Some people prefer fresh flower bouquets because they find it more delightful to have them delivered with a natural look and scent. 

However, taking care and maintaining them can be a hassle and I wanted something that Lil Pumpkin can maintain and admire for as long as possible... even at night! So, preserved flower domes seem like the perfect alternative. 

There's no need for much care of preserved flowers, especially those stored in a bell jar or glass display case that will reduce the effect of humidity. Basically just keep them away from direct sunlight, and don’t wet them. A humid environment could reduce its lifespan.

Fav Florist has many other flower dome designs that are actually handmade by their passionate local florist with at least a decade of experience. 

Each model is intricately designed according to a magical or fairytale theme to tell a beautiful story. 

Before choosing Mystic Blue, I was actually deciding between Peter Pan, which had a very rustic forest feel with a wooden base, or Mystic Red which is definitely a timeless piece for this classic's lovers with the big red rose bloom. 

Do check out Fav Florist Flower Delivery Singapore website other flower bouquets and in-house freshly baked cakes which include D24 Durian Chocolate Fudge, Classic New York Cheesecake, Red Velvet, Mango Mousse, Matcha Red Bean, Lavender Earl Grey etc. flavours. The cakes can be bundled with the flower bouquets or preserved flower domes from S$109.90. 

Fav Florist offers free delivery daily or you can choose to shop and self-collect at 11 Sin Ming Road, Thomson V Two, #01-30 Singapore 575629.    

Good luck for your coming exams, Lil Pumpkin!

No matter how you score, remember that Mummy and Daddy will always love youuuuuu ღゝ◡╹)ノ♡

For more of  Lil Pumpkin's Primary School journey:

For tips on P1 preparation: