Category Archives: family

. Halloween @ Woodgrove 2014 .

Do you know that Halloween is the second most popular family occasion after Christmas in United States? Likewise, it is fast becoming one of the most celebrated holiday in Singapore, with people from all walks of life splashing hundreds of dollars on parties and costumes. Amid the many club parties and scary events, there lies a neighbourhood that goes all out to celebrate the spirit of good old Trick-or-Treat.

Halloween at Woodgrove estate is a celebration, like no other on our red dot. Every year on 31 October, thousands of people – locals and expats – from all over the island flock to Woodgrove, where the huge houses are decked in spooky and ghoulish decorations. Think skeletons and coffins. There was even a house that went all out to give this family-friendly event a dose of spookiness – It had a fog machine to produce an eerie atmosphere and several automated life-like mannequins, similar to those that you would expect to spot in a haunted house attraction! Darn cool. While some people had opted to don scary outfits for this event (Sadako is still a classic choice), you will be surprised to see that most were very creative with their choice of PG costumes. Some of my personal favourites are Starbucks and popcorn, family of superheros (Hot mummy as Wonder Woman and 3 adorable boys as Ironman, Spiderman and Batman), and mime artists!

And this is the reason why Halloween @ Woodgrove is an annual street party not to be missed; It offers the quintessential Halloween experience and remains as my no. 1 place to visit for Halloween every year! Unlike the past couple of years where I was too lazy to dress up, I decided to be a little more “hardworking” this year and went as Supergirl with her superdog (Simba)! The couple-matching costume might sound a tad tacky but trust me, it was a winning combination that had attracted A LOT of attention. So much so that little Simba refused to walk and had to be carried around because he was overwhelmed by the excessive amount of attention. Well, can’t blame him as everyone was cooing and fawning over the little Superdog – He was the star of the night!

To fully immerse in the traditional trick-or-treat experience, my mum suggested that we give out sweet treats to the hordes of people while on-the-move. Thanks to her fantastic idea, we became instant ‘celebrities’ and had a non-stop stream of trick-or-treaters of all ages coming to us for candies and chocolates … It was, I must say, quite chaotic! All in the spirit of fun and giving. 🙂 I might have outgrown the age of trick-or-treat a long time ago (!!!) but thanks to my ever enthusiastic and amazing family and friends (Soy, Swiss, Adeline and their girlfriends), Halloween @ Woodgrove’ 2014 will always have a special place in my heart.

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. sunset cruise with the doggies .

With the increasing fondness for pet ownership, it is not surprising that many pet owners are now pampering their pets more often than before. 5-star pet hotel complete with 24 hrs air-conditioning and camera for video skype, doggy spa treatments, animal daycare and even, doga (yoga for dogs!), you name it and they got it! And yours truly is one of those who’s guilty of pampering her furkids with treats, doggy apparel and even a doll-sized bed for Simba although that investment turned out to be redundant eventually. Too easy to spend a lady’s money, isn’t it? Lol.

I have been toying with the idea of bringing the dogs out on a boat ever since I first read about the pet cruise a couple years back but it has never quite materialized. So, when my aunt who’s also a dog lover and owner returned to Singapore for the holidays, we decided to go ahead with this long awaited plan! Little Simba didn’t join in the fun as he has a severe case of motion sickness so we didn’t want to risk having him feeling sick throughout the boat ride. Trust me, it’s no joke having to clean their vomit every few minutes when all you want is a hassle-free experience.

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Pet Cruise offers several cruise options – 2 hours boat ride to Coney Island/ Punggol Park where you can bring your furry counterparts for a swim/walk or 1.5hrs sunset cruise to watch the romantic sunset. Aside from the fact that I’m a sucker for sunset views, neither Archie nor Frosty are not fans of swimming so we opted for the sunset cruise. Plus, it gave me an excuse to avoid the chaotic shower scene, where we will have to battle with the crazy flying fur. It’s a nightmare! Paid $250 for the boat ride (max. 10 pax, including dogs) which, in my opinion, is very reasonable.

Our 2 very special and important guests for the day: Archie & Frosty
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My favourite candid shot of the day – Archie and me looking out into the sea
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Needless to say, the human beings enjoyed ourselves tremendously and even had a tea (or pre-dinner) picnic on board! Just chilling and relaxing on a lazy Sunday evening although we didn’t catch the sunset as it was pretty hazy.

The question is, did the dogs enjoy it too? Well, I think they did! Caught Archie poking his head in-between the railings many times to catch the evening breeze and admire the scenery. My reward? Him expressing his happiness by showering me with sloppy kisses all over my face! :p Frosty also seemed contented to bask in the ambiance and take in the sights of the passing ships.  They went home tired but really happy, and so did we.  

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Check out Pet Cruise Singapore for more details on how you may pamper your furkids in a special way! 🙂

. my first leather creation with Maketh Project .

I have always enjoyed making handicrafts since I was a little girl but when commitments set in, life gives way to bigger priorities such as working to earn a salary, exercising to keep healthy, hanging out with friends to maintain a work-life balance. In other words, gone were the days when I used to indulge in some DIY therapy. Now that I have lots of free time on hand, I have decided to return to 1 of my first loves and give leather crafting a try! Time to pick up a new skill and be creative with it! 🙂

There are several places that offer leather crafting workshops but what that drew me to Maketh Project is the owners’ willingness to share their passion for leather with the community and give the masses (like you and me) the opportunity to create leather products based on our own designs! Yes, you are your own designer and creator! 🙂  Nothing beats the feeling and sense of accomplishment of being the ambassador of your own creation. Moreover, I kind of like the idea of it being one of those hipster yet intimate spaces that breaks down all pretense and encourages an exchange of ideas and creativity amongst like-minded people from all walks of life.

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Maketh Project is the brainchild of 3 girlfriends – also called ‘The Leather Girls” by their friends –  who wanted to create a cozy space where leather lovers and newbies can come together and craft leather products. I have always had nothing but full admiration and respect for people who have decided to become entrepreneurs so I spoke to one of the founders to find out about the story behind Maketh Project. Support local products!

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It all started from the “CHIEF”, Dynna have always loved leather even before she learned how to craft them.She started making things that she need, things she cant buy off the shelves out there. That is how the leather goods brand “Forest Child” was born.

After a year and a half of making customised leathergoods, we met Adlina and then decided to launch something new and different together. We always find joy in sharing tips with people about leathercrafting. And MAKETH PROJECT is just about all that. The crafting scene is very intimidating and Maketh Project  wanna make it  approachable,doable, possible and etc for people to create and be a maker. 

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Based on our own experiences, it was quite a struggle for us when we first started to learn , as we didn’t know of where to get materials and supplies from, or some others who were already in this leather business were not so willing to share their knowledge and skills and certain information.

Here at Maketh Project, we hope to build and eventually grow a community of crafters here in Singapore. We aspire to foster positive bonding amongst people through crafting. We are no pros though, but we just wanna share the love right now with whatever knowledge we have. 

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maketh project text 3My family has been my pillar of strength and support throughout my entire recovery. They have shown me that I still have a lot of love and things to look forward to in life, despite being ‘broken’ in some sense. As such, I wanted to personalise and present my first leather creation as gifts for them. Nothing too extravagant, just something simple to express the 3 words “I Love You.

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This is my favourite part of the session – To emboss the letters onto the leather. I was actually naive enough to think that we would be given a template to emboss the letters; Turned out that I had to use the mallet to hammer each letter, individually! I am under strict orders not to lift anything heavy as my neck is still fragile and healing so I was pretty hesitant about doing anything too strenuous. Fortunately, looks can be deceiving as the mallet is relatively light and it was easy once you get the hang of the hammering. Having said that, I must confess that this is the “most manual work” that I have done since my injury! Thumbs up for me!

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Ta-dah! The final products, handmade and hand-sewn with much 

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Well, the end product might not look as perfect as something that you might find from a factory but each of these leather tags has been lovingly and painstakingly handcrafted from scratch. I guess this is what they call “Finding perfection in imperfection“. My parents and sisters love their customized leather tags and I am delighted that they will always have something to remind them of the significant role that each of them have played in my life. 🙂

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*The initial phrase was ‘Family – Being loved no matter what’ but I had to shorten it due to space limitations.

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Maketh Project

Address: 24A Bali Lane (2nd Floor)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/makethproject 

. weekend @ W hotel .

A few months ago, lady luck was on my side and I found myself winning  a lucky draw prize that includes a 2 nights staycation at the very gorgeous W Hotel @ Sentosa Cove! Honestly, I usually don’t have any luck with lucky draws or betting games (TOTO/4D) so I was extremely stunned when my number was called for the 3rd prize! 🙂 Invited my ever-supportive family to join me at W Hotel over the Valentine’s Day weekend. Just a well-deserved break to eat (Greek!), sleep and chill by the pool. Repeat.

Warning: A pictorial post ahead.

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. tiong bahru air raid shelter .

 Today, 8 Feb, marks the 72nd Anniversary of the battle for and eventual fall of Singapore during WWII. As part of the line-up of activities to commemorate the anniversary, the National Heritage Board has organised a series of heritage tours that will take participants to the historical sites to “relive” the WWII battles. Being a WWII history buff, my mum was so excited to discover more about these places that played such pivotal roles in the Japanese Occupation  that she actually signed up for all the tours within 5 minutes! Honestly, I think I have the coolest parents! 🙂  Now, you should know where I have inherited my sense of adventure and exploration from! Unfortunately, I was not able to join my parents for this heritage tour as I had already made prior appointments.

Nonetheless, I’m really looking forward to share with you guys about this relatively unknown historical spot – Singapore’s only remaining pre-war air raid shelter which is nestled in the heart of Tiong Bahru.
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Background: Built in 1939, the air raid shelter located at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street is the only public housing building by the Singapore Improvement Trust (the housing organization before HDB) to be built with an air raid shelter as part of its design. It occupies an area of about 1,500 sqm (equivalent to the size of 13 5-room HDB flats) and could accommodate up to an estimated 1,600 pax. Forward 75 years later, this air raid shelter is the last remaining pre-war civilian bomb shelter still existing today! Click here to read up more about the history of this shelter.

Exterior: Entrance of the air raid shelter that is located below the flats
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Interior: Main corridor that leads you to more individual rooms within
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Interior: According to my mum, the interior of the shelter had been left pretty much the same condition as it was back during the pre-war days, thus giving visitors a better visualization of the original state.
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Do you know that the air raid shelter even witnessed its first birth back in 1942? A baby girl named Mary Magdeline Pereira was delivered when her mother and siblings sought for shelter during the bombings.
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Interior: Overhead wooden planks that serve as alternate escape doors for the residents to enter/exit. Kinda like the trapped doors that you often see in old American homes that have a basement!
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Interior: See the structure on the left side of the picture below? My first assumption was that these are bunk beds placed for the residents, in times of war. However, these turned out to be storage racks put in after WWII as the air raid shelter was temporarily used as an underground storage area in the 1950s.
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Notice the bricks labelled “Alexandra”? They are made by Alexandra Brickworks. That’s how ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre in Bukit Merah got its name!
tiong bahru air raid shelter 5* all pictures credit to my AWESOME parents

Tiong Bahru Air Raid Shelter Tour:
Date/Time: 15 Feb, 2.30pm & 4pm

Meeting area: Entrance of shelter at Blk 78 Guan Chuan Street
Registration: Please register via email with jenny_tan@nhb.gov.sg

. moonlight kayak: melbourne .

The idea of taking in the city sights while paddling down the Yarra River sounded like a pretty unique sight-seeing experience, different from the usual walking or biking tours. Despite the relatively hefty price tag (99AUD for 2.5 hrs of workout), this fun activity was definitely on the top of my “TO DO” list during my stay in Melbourne. Do you know what’s the irony of it? Back in Singapore, the chances of anyone catching me out in a kayak will be close to nil as I, like most typical Asian girls, detest the sun, for fear of premature aging and pigmentation. Heck, I apply SPF 50 sunblock and carry a UV-protected brolly every time I’m out in the sun so kayaking is usually out of the question. There’s a reason why I opted for a sundown activity lol.

Wanted to have a sisterly moment by sharing a kayak with my sis, Ginette, but our guide, Matt, advised otherwise as it would be better for each kayak to have a strong paddler. And obviously, both Gin and I are the weakest of the 4. In a way, I guess I was lucky to end up having Matt as my partner because not only did I feel VERY safe with a highly experienced kayaker (But i promise that I really did work out those arm muscles!) but I also had a fantastic time exchanging stories about Melbourne, Singapore, our travels and life experiences. Gin and her bf, Johan, reckoned that Matt did 90% of the paddling work, with me only contributing the remaining 10%! Hahaha.

Just when we thought that we were ready to embark on an urban adventure, the weather took a sudden turn and the clear skies gave way to the rain clouds. We had 2 options – Either to stop kayaking and return to shore or paddle on and hope for the best. We might be amateur paddlers but we will not let a little rain ruin our night and thankfully, we didn’t as it turned out to be my most memorable night in Melbourne. Moreover, kayaking in the rain just sounded a tad more thrilling and cool – Another 1st for me!

Explore Melbourne by Kayak with Kayak Melbourne.

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One of the highlights was supposedly the “on-the-water” dining experience, aka having our Fish n Chips meal while floating in our kayak. Unfortunately, the sudden downpour ruined our plans and we had to resort to having our dinner in the restaurant instead. 

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It was a fantastic experience to be able to paddle through the city’s scenic waterways and under the low lying bridges, and to be rewarded with the stunning view of Melbourne’s skyline at the end of the trip. To add to that, we had the whole river to ourselves throughout the 3hrs (not surprisingly, kayaking in winter is not on the top of anyone’s list!), thus making our journey even more magical! Having said that, I must confess that it’s still difficult to beat Singapore’s spectacular night view… Still 1 of the best that I have seen and I’m proud of it!

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I have always believe that it is the interaction that we have with people from all walks of life and different nationalities that can make a holiday memorable or just plain ordinary. Matt was extremely informative and shared with me snippets of the city’s history and famous landmarks. It was also very fascinating to listen to his stories – From him travelling to many places as an international model (He’s hunky! I’m lucky!), devoting his time to social causes and him finding the balance in life as a father and his many commitments (He has a landscaping business and works as a freelance kayak guide/ fireman/ model!). Wow – I sure do need to pick up a tip or two on juggling the different roles in life!

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. snapshot: melbourne .

fly free

It has been a decade since I last stepped on the shores of Australia and frankly, the idea of returning to Australia has never been quite on the top of my list. Thanks to my company that paid for an all-expense annual staff retreat, I found myself flying to Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne, for the very first time. And indeed, I found out for myself the wonders of what makes Melbourne recently crowned as the #1Most Livable City in The World‘!

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City of Melbourne

Put together a juxtaposition of modern and Victorian architecture, beautiful gardens, an array of contemporary art galleries & museum and plenty of quirky cafes and you get the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne. The city is simply a wonderland for someone who enjoys exploring every nook and cranny of a new place. The many quaint cafes and boutique stores give life to the city laneways that are bustling with activities at any moment. Somehow, there’s always a sense of excitement as you never quite know what’s round the corner when you venture into Melbourne’s hive of busy laneways!

I love the free heritage tram (kinda reminds me of the beloved cable cars in San Francisco) that takes you to the different city landmarks around central Melbourne and the Docklands. A great teaser to the city at absolutely no cost! 

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Getting Creative with Street Art

Melbourne is a melting pot of art and creativity so it is not a surprise to see a diverse range of street art being exhibited around the city and its many neighbourhoods. The most famous and iconic street art laneway is Hosier Lane, where one cannot help but be dazzled by the stunning and vibrant displays of the artworks. My only regret from this trip was that I didn’t have the time to attend a street art tour, which would have given me the chance to meet the artists behind these works.

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 St Kilda

A beach-side town, St Kilda, offers a welcoming respite from the city. Think of it as the cool and hippy suburb of Melbourne. I love amusement parks of all sorts and even more so when it is a historical park that shares the same birth date as me … But 75 years apart!  Luna Park, 1 of Australia’s most beloved family attraction, reminded me of another old-school amusement park in Coney Island that I was very fortunate to have visited before it ceased operations a mere few months after my visit (Astroland: 1962 – 2008). Sadly, I didn’t have the same luck to visit Luna Park as it was closed during my stay. 😦

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Shopping at Queen Victoria Market

According to Wikitravel, “Queen Victoria Market, the only surviving 19th century market in Melbourne CBD, is significant to Melbourne’s culture and heritage and is named after Queen Victoria.” My dearest roomie, Christine, bought bags of fresh produce (fruits & nuts) for her family and yours truly was influenced as well. Just see the last pic of us posing with our very unglam purchases! :p  My best purchases? Personalised dog tags for the 3 boys! 🙂

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Becoming A Kid Again with the Farm Animals

I wish I can kidnap the kid (baby goat) home! So cute.

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The Great Ocean Road

A drive along the picturesque Great Ocean Road and visit to The Twelve Apostles is definitely 1 of the ‘Must Do’ in every tourist’s itinerary. The scenic coastal route is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world, complete with pristine beaches, steep cliffs and spectacular rock stacks. It was a pity that we were on a ridiculously tight schedule that basically left us with only a pathetic 20 mins to take in the absolutely tranquil view of The Twelve Apostles and mind you, we were on the road for at least 5-6 hours! Oh well, the downside of a tour group.

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Penguin Parade – Phillip Island

Sitting out in the cold with the wind blowing against us wasn’t exactly what we would typically sign up for but it was certainly worth the shivers to see the world’s smallest penguins waddling along the beach. It was funny how the few of us would shriek with excitement every time we spotted a penguin emerging from the sea. However, nothing beats the thrilling experience of getting up-close to these tiny creatures as they made their way home to the burrows.

We also made a pit stop at The Nobbies, where we caught the sight of many seagulls but none of the seals. The views of the rugged coastlines were incredible and I truly felt at peace, listening to the therapeutic sounds of the crashing waves. In fact, The Nobbies has surpassed my expectations and is definitely 1 of the more memorable places that I have visited in Australia.

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Moonlight Kayaking

As far as possible, I would like to inject some sort of adventure for my holidays and I’m glad that my sister and her boyfriend were game to join me for a moonlight kayak experience. 🙂 I have kayaked several times before during my schooling years but this would mark the 1st time that I would be kayaking when night falls and I must say that it was absolutely the highlight of the trip!

I would highly recommend anyone who has a sense of adventure to sign up for this tour when visiting Melbourne. It was a great way to see the city from a different perspective and some of the unique experiences include cruising under the many low-lying bridges, and even having a fish and chips dinner on the kayak! More on the moonlight kayak experience in a separate post.

To add to our already interesting experience, it started raining at the start of our paddling journey thus we were drenched before we even really started! However, being caught in the rain had its consequences as I found myself suffering from a terrible bout of flu and was heavily drugged (with meds, of course) during the last few days of my retreat. Bummer.

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Spending Precious Moments with My Sister

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The best thing that came out of my 1-week stay in Melbourne was definitely the opportunity to get closer to my sister who’s currently based in Melbourne. Since she left for Australia about 3yrs ago, we have barely kept in touch and pretty much lead our separate lives. Hence, it was really good to be able to rekindle our relationship and bond over the many meals, activities and new experiences.