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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {linky}: Family Obento Ideas - Healthy Kids Snacks Pack | Week 43

What's in my obento this week?
Banana & Honey Yoghurt Drops, Blueberry Fruit Sticks, Raspberry Yoghurt Muffin Balls,
Cheese & Yoghurt in Hello Kitty foldable lunchbox.

Discovered these healthy, yet soooo yummy snacks from Mother Earth & Kiwigarden!
Like that they are all individually-packed for extra freshness.
We've been eating them so fast I have to get more from Foodpath soon haha.
Packed this simple snacks pack for Lil Pumpkin's trip to the playground this morning :)

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, October 21, 2014

Where to Make Custom Toys & Jewellery from Kids Drawings

Lil Pumpkin likes to carry a notebook  with her whenever we go out be it to playgrounds, theme parks, other people's homes etc. Her fave question when she hears that we are going out will be "can I bring out my notebook?".

Sometimes I try to dissuade her as it's actually not a small notebook, but a huge A3 notepad {!!} that can't really fit in any of the usual bags we carry but she'll be adamant about it. Most of the time, we let her as we realise that that's the way she likes to capture the memories of what she sees and does. It's her fave past-time while waiting for the food to be served when we eat out as well and is certainly a better option, in my opinion, then letting her be glued to the tech devices :P Keep those eyes healthy, right?

She's getting better at writing Chinese characters on her own now and even knows how to form simple sentences like "爸爸妈妈有-只小{Lil Pumpkin's Chinese name}", which translates to "Daddy and Mummy have a small Lil Pumpkin" haha... So cute!

Lil Pumpkin is also happy to describe her drawings when we ask, and will even throw in a back-story to the scene as well. For example, this is us out going to her grandma's place to have dinner. On the way there, we stopped by her friend's apartment to pick her up because after that we were going to the zoo...

She likes to draw complicated robots too! According to her, this is a machine that "can make anything and does everything"! How handy to have something like this :P

I'm thinking about turning her artwork into something else. Like maybe customising her doodles into a soft toy or her scribbles into a necklace pendant. I'm sure she'll be happy to see her drawings come to life! It'll be a special keepsake for her, and for me too :)

Here are some online shops I found that do it, but unfortunately, none based in Singapore and with the shopping costs, seem quite expensive. Worth a look though, as their work seem pretty good and maybe one day, I might decide to splurge on it haha.

Turn kids artwork into plush toys
1. Budsies - based in U.S.A., from US$69
2. My Own Cuddly - based in U.S.A., from US$70
3. Sunny Little Studio - based in U.S.A., from US$75
4. Child's Own Studio - based in Canada, from C$250
5. Doodle Your Toys - based in Croatia, from US$65
6. Happy Softies - based in Australia, from A$60
7. Cryoow - based in Bali, from US$149

Turn kids artwork into jewellery
1. Kidz Can Design - based in U.S.A., from from S$129.99
2. Formia Design - based in U.S.A., from US$129
3. KiDoodles - based in U.S.A., from US$60

Have you done this before? Any local companies to recommend?
What other things can we make with our kids' artwork?

I Blog on Tues with Essentially Jess.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post. All views expressed are my own.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bub & Me: Madame Tussauds Singapore, Sentosa - A First Look

We had a family day out yesterday at Sentosa {again!} to visit their newest attraction - Madame Tussauds Singapore - the first wax figure museum in Singapore!! It's only open to public next weekend on Sat 25 Oct 2014 but we had an exclusive first look.

My aunt and her family lives in London and when we were younger, we flew over a few times to visit them. One of the strongest memories I have of our trips was definitely our visit to Madame Tussauds London. Madame Tussauds has branches in some major cities like New York, Bangkok, Shanghai.. and now Singapore, but London was where it all started in 1835. It contains waxworks of historical & royal figures, film stars, sports stars and infamous murderers {quite scary to me as a kid then!}, and the one in Singapore is although smaller, not much different.

Except that it doesn't have a zone for infamous murderers, phew!!

There are 6 zones inside our local Madame Tussards featuring over 60 iconic wax figures from all over the world - History & Leaders, Sports, Authentic History, Music, Film and A-List Party.

Some of the famous people we met included the Queen, Lady Gaga, David Beckham!! Unfortunately, just the waxworks but you can't really tell from the photos, right?? hehe We'll probably never get to see them in real-life so unless you can photoshop really well, this is the best alternative ever! :P

Our local stars like Stephanie Sun {singer} and Gurmit Singh {actor} were represented at this world-famous attraction too #sgpride

Something exclusive to Madame Tussards Singapore is the Spirit of Singapore, the first ever Madame Tussauds boat ride that travels through a lush tropical garden filled with Singapore's famous icons e.g. Singapore Flyer, F1 Night Race and even an SQ plane. It also highlights our rich multi-cultural society with scenes from a Chinese opera and Malay play but unfortunately, we didn't get to experience it as it was still not ready. Do look out for it when you visit after it officially opens!!

The wax figures are just so life-like you really have to do a second-look to see that they are actually, erm, not real people. The attention to details like the skin tone, eye colour, hair texture, fine lines is just truly amazing.

Do you know that there are more than 250 precise measurements of the head and body taken so the was figure is as accurate as it can be?? Each strand of hair {real human kind, if you must know} is also inserted individually, taking approximately 4 weeks to complete each head.

Lil Pumpkin was really interested in how these wax figures were made and she couldn't fathom how they were not real people! We spent quite some time inside Authentic History zone to satisfy her inquisitive mind as it tells the history of how wax figures are made in London and the life of Madame Tussaud herself.

My mum came with us too and she said that compared to our visit to Madame Tussauds London years ago, their technology and skills have really improved as the wax figures seem even more life-like than she remembered them to be.

Unlike most museums where you can't touch this or that or take photos, Madame Tussauds encourages you to take the photos and there's no ropes or glass barriers preventing you from hugging or maybe even kissing the wax figures to make it really believable that you "met the stars"! Extremely fun for Lil Pumpkin too ;)

Really a high level of trust on their part for the visitors to not ruin the wax figures since apparently, each figure takes a minimum of 3 months to make and costs more than S$300,000! *gulp* 

I can't remember the last time we had so much fun taking so many photos together haha. Some areas have interactive areas and props for you to play around with during the photo-shoots too. Look out for Phua Chu Kang's famous yellow boots & Madonna's walking stick! 

It's very exciting to have this new attraction in Singapore and it's definitely worth a visit, at least once. If you do, share with me your photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, ya? Would love to see which stars you cozied up to! :)

  • Early bird promotion is now on. Buy online at their website for S$20/pax tickets that are valid even on weekends and public holidays, until 31 Dec 2014.
  • Nearest Sentosa Express station is Imbiah Station. From there, walk out of the station towards the opposite escalators, and then up to Imbiah Lookout. 
  • No food or drinks sold inside. 
  • There's enough space for strollers, prams and wheelchairs.
  • Friendly staff are around to help you take your photos with your personal cameras. 
  • Avoid peak periods as it will be difficult to take nice photos with the "stars" otherwise due to the crowd, especially at Sports and Music zone where some wax figures are close to one another
  • Don't miss out on 2 special wax figures {Bruce Willis & Serena Williams} at the Gift Shop - just before you leave the attraction!

Madame Tussauds Singapore
40 Imbiah Road, Imbiah Lookout, Sentosa Island
Open daily, 10am - 9pm {last admission at 7.30pm}
Admission: S$30 {adult} and S$20 {child}
Website: http://www.madametussauds.com/Singapore/

Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too. Since so many of you ask, matchy-matchy clothes here are from Glitter Glam :) Look out for a special promo for my friends and readers coming soon!

* Disclosure: The event coverage was due to an invitation from Madame Tussauds Singapore. All opinions are my own.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Singapore Cheongsams :: Lark and Peony Modern Cheongsam Shopping + {Promo Code}

Nami Blue
The last few days, Lark & Peony did it again and sent part of the cheongsam-loving community crazy by launching their new modern cheongsams made with vintage fabric prints from Japan. I heard Mori in Green was technically "sold out" even before sale started with the preorder enquiries, and Mikan Orange in size M was out within minutes!! Really crazy.

Mikan Orange
Thankfully, I was down at their atelier to have a sneak peek and to purchase some of my favourite designs from the vintage collection beforehand. I saw all 9 designs they are going to release in the upcoming months, and was really delighted! It took a lot of will-power and holding back from the boy to prevent me from buying each piece haha. With the full-circle skirt, deep functional pockets, sexy back cut-out design and 3 tiny neck buttons at the collar, it is really hard not to fall in love with this new dress silhouette.

The boy liked them too but said that these few dresses barely look like cheongsams, even modern cheongsams. However, I think the mandarin collar is a dead giveaway because when I think of cheongsams, that's one of the most prominent features.

The collar is shorter than most previous designs at 2.5cm, but fits the overall relaxed feel of the dress. It gives it a subtle hint of the Orient, and for someone who has never worn a traditional cheongsam or modern cheongsam before, but would like to, it makes for a fine choice as it's just a baby step in that direction and not too overwhelming.

Nami Blue
I'm fine with the shorter collar, as together with the open back and light Indian cotton material, it makes for a very comfortable dress in our hot weather, even to Sentosa when we visited RWS S.E.A. Aquarium last weekend. However, I would have preferred the collar to be stiffer and more fitted around the neck like the Hsih Shih {classic cut} or Yokihi designs though. Maybe you need a higher collar for that "effect", or cut the opening smaller.

In the end, I went away with MikanPaisley Red {out on 20 Oct 14} & Nami Blue {out on 27 Oct 14}. Mikan is just so refreshing & somewhat reminds me of Perankan tiles {saving this for CNY next year!!}, Persian Paisley has such a rich orange hue and I love that Nami Blue has such beautiful blue and green shades in the various florals.

Paisley Red
I'm wearing size M and they all fitted me perfectly for the bust and waist. If you find the usual pleated skirt designs {also known as the Yokihi style in Lark & Peony language} for modern cheongsams too "boxy", the new vintage line from Lark & Peony will be an excellent choice. The full circle skirt is very flowy and feminine... ready for you to swish into happy tea parties or laughing twirl sessions with your kid :)

Paisley Red
Remember that scene in "You've Got Mail" where Meg Ryan was talking about twirling with her mum when she was a little girl? I wished I had a daughter then to do that too and I'm so glad that now, I do. Lil Pumpkin certainly enjoyed that and kept asking me to go again, and again... and again!!

Here are 3 things I like about shopping at Lark & Peony, and tips you should be aware of too:

Hsih Shih in Midnight Bamboo
1. Physical fittings before purchase {by appointment only}
Although Lark & Peony is an online boutique, all customers are encouraged to come try on the dresses at their small atelier if they're unsure because the fit of the cheongsam is so important. I wish more online cheongsam boutiques offered this service.

Being the OCD shopper that I am, this really appeals to me. Some fabrics have more give than others so you wouldn't know how the dress would fit until you put it on. Also, you get to try on designs that you might not be very keen on, but end up loving!

Like this Hsih Shih in Midnight Bamboo. It wasn't something that caught my eye immediately but when I tried it on.. Wow!! I like the Asian feel and the symbolism behind the bamboo. One of the most impressive thing about the bamboo is how flexible it is. The foundation is solid, yet it moves and sways harmoniously with the wind, never fighting against it. So, even when the strong wind tires itself out, but the bamboo remains standing tall and still.

There's an old proverb that goes "the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists". I'd like to apply this more to my life to be less headstrong, and more accommodating even in circumstances that may not go my way. I will not be defeated!! :)

Hsih Shi in Midnight Bamboo
2. Customisations available
Minor changes, like adding buttons are free. Size alterations are available {S$10 onwards}, but Lark & Peony doesn't encourage altering the cheongsam unless absolutely necessary so that it doesn't compromise the integrity of the dress. Their website states the standard S/M/L/XL sizes, but sometimes, and I'm talking about really small quantities, they have in-between sizes like S+ or M+ which you can enquire about. This is one good reason why you should go for physical fittings before purchase.

Hsih Shih in Midnight Bamboo
3. Timeless style
I like cutesy prints too, but sometimex, I find that I tend to tire of them pretty fast. Although Lark & Peony has cute prints {fyi, some are in the pipeline for next Chinese New Year!}, the focus of their design is for the sophisticated woman who would like to hand down their precious pieces to the next generation.

One reason why I hardly buy costume jewelry is precisely because of this reason. Fast and cheap fashion means you keep buying and discarding items that get worn out quickly. I've always loved longevity in my jewelry that I can pass on to Lil Pumpkin, and now I'm beginning to want thoughtful clothing that has longevity in my wardrobe too, which is where the well-constructed Lark & Peony modern cheongsams come in.

You'll find that most of their designs won't get phased out after each season and will look timeless no matter when you bought them, or where you wear it... which is really how cheongsams should be.

I brought Yokihi in Turquoise Peony to Problogger Event 2014 and had tons of compliments from the Aussies too ;) I think even if Lil Pumpkin wore this 20 years from now, she'll still look great in it :P

Yokihi in Turquoise Peony
Ok enough gushing from me. There's still one more design in their Princess Pingyang workwear range to be released, and stay updated via their Facebook page. Good to be a member on their shopping site too as there's no pre-orders taken for the vintage collection, so it's really fastest fingers first!

Yokihi in Turquoise Peony
You can also see my current list of places to buy cheongsams in Singapore here.

Promo: Quote "SAKURA10" for S$10 off each total cart purchase {includes sales items} at Lark & Peony online boutique. Valid for multiple purchases until 31 Oct 2014 only. Free shipping to Singapore addresses and overseas shipping available.

* Disclosure: Lark and Peony provided Hsih Shih in Midnight Bamboo & Yokihi in Turquoise Peony for review. Vintage collection cheongsams were purchased separately. All opinions are my own.