Blessed with contest wins & extra cash!

I am quite blessed this year, with a few wins that are significant.

Started the year with winning a Refa Active that is retailing at S$450.

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Then, I got a $50 Le Petit Society shopping voucher in a contest hosted by Simply Her and had a good shopping spree over the internet.

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And now, I won $50 for the Travel Smart Rewards auto spin – first time winning such an amount! You can read more about Travel Smart Rewards here.

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Looking forward to more great wins! ūüôā

7 space-saving items for small homes that you can get from Daiso in Singapore!

I love Daiso. Everything in store is $2 each. Some finds in store gave me solutions to issues which I am stuck with before.

I shifted to a small apartment last year and the kitchen and the bedrooms are small at my first glance. I wasn’t used to the space, let along keeping all the stuff we had before into this small place, without cluttering the whole place.

These are my amazing finds from Daiso, and they helped me! These are some space saving ideas for small homes!

1. Wire Net

When the counter top or shelf space has ran out, explore the space on the wall & doors.  You will be amazed with the extra storage space that you can create by just adding in wire net or racks.

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The wire nets in Daiso

I created this space for my 2 girls to hang their drawings & art crafts in their small bedroom.  The pinkish pegs are from Daiso too!

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My household shelter (aka bomb shelter) has it’s entrance in the kitchen. The metal door is a saver to add space to my very tiny kitchen. ¬†Add some magnet hooks, with a wire net and a few baskets, that’s the ¬†home for the potatoes, onions & garlic!

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I have 2 balconies and 1 of it is my little home garden. I hang up all my gardening tools and this kept my balcony tidy.

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2. Extension Poles / Stretching Poles / Tension Poles

These amazing poles creates layers in spaces that you never once thought was useful.  It comes in different length.  Take the measurement of the space which you intend to create layers, and chose the correct length.

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This is what I did for my kitchen, on top of the sink. ¬†I was frustrated initially because I can’t find a suitable space to hang some kitchen accessories. Simple solution by using the extension pole!

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Check out the various ideas across the web! You will be amazed!

Idea & photo source from http://joyfulhomemaking.com/2011/10/organizing-those-little-things.html

Idea & photo source from http://www.jenthousandwords.com/2010/09/under-my-sink.html

Idea & photo source from http://www.jenthousandwords.com/2010/09/under-my-sink.html

3. Shelf Risers

Shelf Risers help to create another layer of space.  Another useful point about such shelf riser is it reduces the need to take out everything when reaching for something that was stacked at the bottom.

This is from one of my kitchen cabinet. By adding the shelf riser, it adds another layer for me to stuff more things. ūüėÄ

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Pardon for the mess…a little corner of my work place which I stacked small boxes or my packing tools¬†box

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4. Vacuum Bags

Tight with space in your wardrobe? Use vacuum seal bags to compact those winter jackets, or even clothes which you seldom wear but still want to keep. It can reduce at least or more than half of the space they originally will take up. There are different sizes of vacuum bags available. ¬†The most common ones are those that require a vacuum to “suck” out the air in order to compact the bag.

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However, if you are like me who doesn’t have a proper vacuum machine at home, there are also bags which do not require the machine to do the job. ¬†And they are equally good! Handy to bring to travel too!

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5. Fridge containers

When the living space is small, the appliances are smaller too. These little holders which can be hang on the fridge shelves are amazing little tools to add that space that you need to place the little packets of chilli or small items.

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Here’s how my fridge door looks like after adding 2 of the holders :

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6. Door Hanger 

These door hangers simply just add a home to that pair of worn jeans (I wear my jeans at least 2x before a wash! ops!) or your hangbag. You know, instead of hanging them at the window which is quite unsightly sometimes.

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7. Hanger Connector Hook 

Most of the wardrobes are horizontal-challenged because we add new clothes more often than house-keep the old clothes. The wardrobes are seldom vertical-challenged as the standard wardrobe size will usually cater for long dresses.  With these connector hook, you can turn the vertical space into useful space, for short items such as tops, skirts etc.

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Besides the items mentioned above, I believe there are others amazing items which can give creative ways to make small living space keep more things and in a neater way. Share some of your great finds with me!

The cute things that a 4 year old will say – Part 2

We were on the way to my mom’s house, with Eva at the back seat. ¬†Daddy was the driver (as always).

He drove over a speed hump….with a higher¬†speed than his usual speed whenever he cross a speed hump.

Eva exclaimed : Papa, you not careful ah??!!

Daddy : Why?

Eva : I (felt a) bump and I flew up like a cute little bird!

Daddy : ……….

Me : [Laugh out loud]

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Daddy drove to a petrol station and left the car to pump and pay for the petrol. Both Eva and I stayed in the car.

* Peep Peep is the name of our car, name given by the 2 girls.

Eva : Mommy, why does Peep Peep need to take his dinner now?

Me : Huh? [wondering what is Eva trying to say]

Me : Oh! She needs to eat in order to continue to bring us to places.

Eva : Peep Peep only needs to eat once after a long time? Not like us?

Me : Yes, darling.

Eva : Why?

Me : Hmmm… Peep Peep has a big stomach!

Eva : Peep Peep eats so much! (she is satisfied with my answer?! phew!)

 

 

Free money – Earn money with your MRT travel using your EZ-Link Card!

 

Have you heard of Travel Smart Rewards? If you have not, read on!

I thought this was a “scam” when I signed this up last year. The reason was because there wasn’t¬†any money credited back to my EZ-link card even though I received emails and report summary that I had “earned” a certain amount of money.

Just a week ago, I realised that I had been missing out those money which I “earned”, all because I went to the wrong machine! There wasn’t much information on how the redemption should be done, so I am going to show it here!

How this rewards works : You earn points by taking train trips all day during a weekday (Monday to Friday) using the EZ-Link card registered in Travel Smart Rewards.  If your trip is during the designated off peak hour, you will get more points. Weekend and bus travel does not count. You can read up more in their FAQ.

So in simpler terms, you basically do nothing much in order to earn points.  You can follow your usual travel patterns and likely to get some rebates back.

As for how to redeem the money, this is what you can do.  Based on my personal experience, the money rewards will be ready for collection on the following month. For example, amount accumulated in April 2015 was ready for collection from 16 May 2015.

Go to the TransitLink Machine – these are those standalone machines, which are not the same as those big ticket machines. You will see the screen as below when you approach the machine. There will be a “INSINC Reward” button on the screen.

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Place your EZ-Link card on the designated area and click on “INSINC Reward” button and it will bring you to the next screen. ¬†If there are no rewards to claim, it will simply prompt that there are none. ¬†Otherwise, the following screen will show the total amount available in the card.

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You can click on “Proceed” if you want to claim the reward and it will top-up into the card.

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$6 as a rebate and for doing nothing extra Рis indeed a good reward.  And I have pending $10 for my May travel!! Not bad, right?!

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Try it if you travel frequently by the train on weekdays! Sign up here!

Disclaimer : I get referral points if you sign up using the links I had provided. ¬†It is a nominal amount but it does help to motivate me to provide more useful contents in future. ūüôā

My Priceless Mother’s Day Gifts

Dawn hid her cards and little gift while I went to shower. ¬†It’s still a nice feeling to receive a surprise when I stepped into my room. ūüėÄ Her messages on the cards are so sweet!

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Eva made a big sunflower (she said so) and a card in school and came home with “Mama, for you for you..happy mother’s day!”

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Seriously, what more can I ask for?

Singapore National Primary School System : The Middle-Class Bias of Educators

Dawn came back on Wednesday night and asked for some family photos to be printed. She said it was for a homework that was given by her teacher and it has to be handed in on the next day РThursday.

I was puzzled with the teacher’s request because it seems to¬†assume¬†that all the students in the class have ready-printed photos or a printer at home.

Nevertheless, we asked Dawn to choose the photos and assisted her in printing them because we have a printer at my home office. The homework was completed close to 9pm, just before the children bedtime.

My child came back from school on Thursday and she told me that some of her classmates were not able to complete the homework. I continued to ask her how did the teacher react to those who did not print or bring the photos, she said that the teacher pointed at the page and said to the student (interpreted by Dawn in such a manner) –¬†your family is a blank page?

Now, I was not there in the class to hear the exact remark. There’s a possibility that the remark interpreted by my daughter is not what the teacher had intended. It could be just an exclamation, or an expressed thought and mean no harm to most of us.

The requirement for students to follow teachers’ instructions on homework deadline is important. It’s a form of early education for children to learn the values of accountability and responsibility.

The key issue that struck me, however, is this: the homework was given a day to complete. The homework requires parental involvement. It requires photos of family members out for an occasion (outing). It requires more than 1 photo. It requires physical copies of photos and are to be pasted in the given box in the workbook.

The given timeline for this piece of homework has suggested, in my humble opinion, a middle class bias. The assumption of how each student should have the minimal of what the majority has. But is that really so?

Assumption 1 : All families have a printer.

Is that true? We don’t have one a year ago. We wouldn’t have bought one if I had not need it for my home office.

Must every family be able to afford a printer?

Assumption 2 : All families print photos, and have excess of them to use for homework material.

I did that, many years ago. My last photo album was for my wedding. With this digital age, my phone is my photo album. Sleek, mobile, free to add more photos and easy to delete ugly ones.

Do we still print excessive copies of photos nowadays and have them laying around? I don’t and I am not sure about the others.

Assumption 3 : All parents are always free every weekday night. 

Don’t we have parents who work night shift?

Don’t we have parents who leave the children under the care of grandparents during weekdays because of whatever reasons?

Don’t we have parents who work and only reach home after the child is asleep?

Don’t we have parents who reach home¬†at 7pm¬†after work, prepare and have dinner, house chores and bath, only to be in a rude shock about the child’s homework requirement¬†at 9pm, with no printer at home and printer shops outside are closed for business?

Assumption 4 : All families are complete.

Do all children have the opportunity to go for happy outings with their families?

Do all children have the opportunity to take happy photos with their families?

Do all children come from complete family?

Are there no children who really come from a family that is of a blank page?

Maybe I am reading too much into this. This short timeline for completion of a homework that requires parental guidance or special material is not an isolated case which I had experienced ever since Dawn started her formal education. There were other such instances or even requests to bring a certain stationary (example of a drawing block or a red pen Рwhich was not included in the required list of items to purchase at the start of the year) on the next day of school.

This might have been my own misinterpretation of the whole incident, but if the recipient of the remark from the teacher falls into any of the above, the message may not be well received.  The child walks away from the lesson feeling wronged, alone and blamed. While it may be important to ensure that the children are task-focused, it is equally important to allow the child and family an appropriate amount of time to react to the requirements of the homework.

Growing in my balcony – the beginning

I had a short stint in gardening when I was in primary school.  We had a small little garden beside the canteen where there were maizes, cai xin and a handful of little chicks in a corner.

I didn’t quite enjoy that experience – it was hot, sweaty and itchy. I had bad eczema when I was young and the sun was my greatest enemy. ¬†My face was red after the sun, and the skin itched because of the heat and the poking from the leaves and grass.

I thought I will never touch or groom the greens ever again. I was so wrong.

I had my own roof a year ago and a great sunny balcony.  It looked pretty bare and wasted without the greens.

My first 3 pots were from my parents-in-law РPandan Leaves, Curry Leaves & Pomegranate. My in-laws grew the plants to a good size before our shift, and when the plants moved into our new place, they are already easy to be taken care of. We now have our own supply of curry leaves and pandan whenever we need them for our home-cooked food.

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Pandan Leaves

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Pomegranate

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Curry Leaves

I bought a few packet of seeds, pots and soil and wanted to grow something from scratch by ourselves. It’s also a way to get the kids to do something on a weekend.

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They prepared the pots with soil, wet the soil and sowed the seeds.

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This is what we planted for a whole morning under the sun. There was Parsley, Lemon Balm, Chives, Tomatoes, Red Chilli, Sunflowers, Coriander & Lettuce

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And we waited…for days and weeks…

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This is the beginning of our gardening journey. Though I don’t have 100% good results for all the seedlings which sprouted, it’s still fulfilling once a while to see some turn to bountiful pots or bloom flowers and fruit.

I will share on my successful pots the next round – sunflowers, red chilli and mint.

Hijiki Salad

The first time I see and know about hijiki, was in Ootoya Restaurant.  They served (and I think they still do) Hijiki Seaweed Rice and both hubby and myself fell in love with it.  We can go all out just to dine in  this restaurant, because this special flavored rice is not readily available in other restaurants.

It also seems that hijiki is high in nutrition and you can read more about the nutrition value of hijiki.

When I was trying¬†to find¬†recipes for Hijiki Seaweed Rice,¬†Nami’s recipe for Hijiki Salad came out from the search.¬† I tried the recipe and we love the result! Please do go to her page to view the full recipe.

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Hijiki Salad
 
Author:
Cuisine: Japanese
Ingredients
  • 30g dried hijiki - I bought from Daiso
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 part of lotus root
  • A little oil
  • 3 cups dashi - I used instant dashi powder
Seasoning
  • 6 TBSP mirin
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 6 TBSP soya sauce
Instructions
  1. Soak hijiki in water for 30 minutes. Water to cover all hijiki.
  2. Drain the hijiki after soaking. Wash the hijiki under running tap. Set aside.
  3. Remove the skin for carrot & lotus roots and shred them into thin slices - I use a normal manual vegetable shredder.
  4. Prepare Dashi and set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a pot and add carrot & lotus root. Do a light fry.
  6. Add hijiki into the pot and mix well with the carrots & lotus roots.
  7. Add dashi and let it boil - make sure dashi cover most of the ingredients in the pot.
  8. Once boil, add in all the seasoning and mix well.
  9. Simmer with cover for 30-45 minutes.
  10. Remove the cover and let it continue to simmer. The aim is to reduce the sauce until you can see the bottom of the pot. Once this is done, it's ready!

I use a shredder for the carrots & lotus roots instead of cutting them into thin slices or strips because it’s so much faster for me.¬† To me, the shape of the carrots or lotus roots does not matter much as after 40 minutes of cooking, it will just “blend” into the pool of hijiki ūüėÄ

This dish can be kept in an air tight container and into the fridge. We usually keep it for about 5 days. We add this into our lunch box, or to make hijiki onigiri or to mix into rice to become hijiki seaweed rice!

Example of my simple lunchbox –¬†hijiki and korean fried fish cake.

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How about some hijiki onigiri? ūüôā

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Eva is 4!

I never had a birthday party during my childhood.  The first party I had was when I turned 21 years old, in the then famous chalet at Pasir Ris. And I told myself that was the first and the last party that I will have for my birthdays (yah, even when I get to live till 80 grand birthday).

Birthday parties or celebrations are rather common for this new generation of children now.  I got a little shock when Dawn came back from the childcare centre with bags after bags of party favors. That was 5 years ago, and my journey of jumping into the trend began.

Besides the celebration in schools,  it is also our family practice to celebrate children birthdays in a larger scale (than a family affair) at the age of 4.

Why 4? Because that’s the age that they will remember the party, even when they grew up. It’s not meaningful if they cannot remember about their own parties, right?

Why only 4? Because both¬†parents (aka hubby & me) think that it’s too extravagant to hold such celebrations every year, plus the child will not likely to remember anything from the age of 1-3 years old, plus both of us do not feel good¬†to ask our friends to spend money on gifts or their precious weekend. And most importantly we do not want our children to grow up thinking that birthday parties every year from age¬†1¬†is a norm!

Eva had her 4-year-old birthday celebration in a small cozy function room on a Sunday noon. It’s a simple affair with no frills – no magician, no games, no special sweets table that wow the guests. But the kids are equally happy, and their smiles are still genuine.

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Both Eva & Dawn woke up early that day and baked muffins to thank their guests for attending the event. It is also a way for them to be involved in this preparation of the celebration.

I ordered the birthday cake from Pine Garden. Because of license issues, they no longer collect the cartoon figures from customers, but leave the décor on the cake empty and let us express our own creative on the cake. This cake is design by me Рincluding the placement of the beetles, butterflies and the flowers.  Pretty?

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When asked 2 months before the actual day, Eva said that she wanted a Daisy Duck themed birthday. Knowing that there isn’t much Daisy Duck decoration available in the market, I tried to ask her for other choices, and she went on saying, Groofy, Donald, Pluto…almost everyone of them except for Mickey and Minnie Mouse! I had to “convince” her that the theme will be “Mickey & Friends”. ūüėÄ

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I love this photo of both Dawn & Eva. How many of us parents know that siblings can fight and quarrel behind the scenes (aka at home) but their hearts are still close?

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The d√©cor is not anywhere near extravagant. In my opinion, who will really see,¬†be bothered and pick with such things? ūüėÄ The balloons are from the neighbourhood store, and the Minnie balloon is still floating after 3.5 weeks!

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The food was from Casserole Catering. Till now, still cannot forget the delicious Chicken Curry.

  • Vegetarian Bee Hoon
  • Pineapple Rice + Chap Chai
  • Vege + Signature Ngoh Hiang
  • Delicious Curry + Prawn
  • Honey Dew Sago
Birthday Song

Birthday Song

I wish.....

I wish…..

Blowing the Candles

Blowing the Candles

Cut Cake

Cut Cake

Sweet Birthday Girl with the muffin which she made together with Jie Jie.

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Eva’s presents from many aunties and uncles.¬† Thank you so much!

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A group of my colleagues bought presents for Dawn as well – so that she doesn’t feel left out or that all attention is on Eva.¬†Very sweet of¬†them! ūüôā

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Presents galore….

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The happiest moment for the birthday girl – opening presents after presents.

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I asked Eva to pose with the balloons, as like how Jie Jie done it 4 years ago.

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On the actual day of Eva’s birthday, we brought the cake and goodie bags to her school. She chose this Strawberry Shortcake design because of her favourite colour – green!

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Eva gave out the goodie bags to her classmates. I had to tell the kids that auntie (me) doesn’t want to give out sweets & chocolates to little children without their parents agreement, so auntie (me) only put in art and craft item inside the goodie bag.¬† I know the kids will be kind of disappointed, but well, for the good of the children, even though they are not my kids!

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This sums up on Eva’s 4-year-old birthday celebrations. These 4 years had been a fruitful time for every aspect of my roles, whether as a parent, mom, wife, daughter, employee, boss etc. The smiles and the things Eva says and does are so priceless¬†that I will not change it for any other things. Simply¬†wish that her kisses and hugs to us will continue as long as we hope for.