Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Brekkie Menu at Swensen's!

[Media Invite]

Okay, the new additions are not so new already for if you had visited Swensen's recently, you would have noticed quite a few additions to its menu since July 16. The missus and the kiddos popped by the restaurant about a week ago to try out their latest breakfast menu, which featured predominantly cheesy sausages that were obvious favourites with most kiddos.

The cheesy sausages were awesome!
One of the new dishes which they got to try, was the Salted Egg Lava Rolls ($10.80), consisting of 3 pieces of charcoal bread roll filled with salted egg butter cream, buttered potatoes and you guessed it, 2 cheesy sausages. The missus said she actually enjoyed the bread roll much and that it tasted great, but the sauces were really too little. There must always be sufficient salted egg sauce to ooze out when you break the bun, no? Hope that Swensen's will take note of this shortcoming! 



Then she told me that they also tried the Chicken N Waffle ($13.90) which Stacci liked. I mean, who would resist a piece of crispy fried chicken? I was looking through the photos she took of the dishes, but was unable to find the right one. Only when I took a third look did I notice the edges of the waffle underneath the big piece of chicken. I thought it was just a dish of chicken cutlet. The waffle was a typical classic, nothing to shout about. But having it with the butter lime dressing on the chicken, the missus described it as an unique and acceptable combination of sweetness, savouriness and tanginess. It comes with buttered potatoes and 2 cheesy sausages too.



But that's no all, they even had the kid's meal named Simply Pancakes ($7.50) that is not exactly simply pancakes! This is because the vanilla buttermilk pancakes comes with 2 cheesy sausages too! No escaping these sausages I say. Oh the kid's set also comes with apple juice, orange juice or iced milo. As for adult's sets, they come with free coffee or tea. 


Like a boss!
You may wish to check out their website for their new additions to their mains such as Teriyaki Salmon, Hawaiian Special, Seafood Arrabbiata Pasta and many others! Can you believe it, they even have Salty Eggy Creamy Sundae now? I think I need to try that soon as I am wondering how it would taste like! Thank you for inviting the family over Swensen's!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Big Man Behind little Magazine

I shall be honest, I hardly buy magazines these days and had relied heavily on news articles shared on the various social media platforms. In fact, I had not watched a single full TV episode for years already and only felt the absence of newspapers when I needed them (for uses other than reading).

With all the information in the world readily available in a little handheld mobile device these days, it seemed to me, that printed publications are going the way of the dinosaurs. I got to meet the big man behind one unique 'dinosaur' a while ago and had a great chat with him. He is none other than Kenneth, big man of ‘little’ magazine and the one who does photography, copywriting, design and about everything else.
 
I admit that before this, I only knew of the existence of 'little' through taking part in its online giveaways / contests! Cannot help it lah, contest junkie here leh. Hence I ended up asking him more -



Me: I sense a lot of passion and confidence from you when you mentioned about 'little', what is it that differentiates 'little' from any other parenting magazines out there in the market, and its niche in this digital world?
 
Kenneth: I personally still believe in reading a book and flipping the pages. Touching the texture of the paper which it is printed on, sensing the smell of the paper as you flip the pages, these are the little things u can never get from any electronic device. Technology is a natural progression and it goes hand in hand, but somehow it feels more” alive” with a book. ‘little’ tries its best to convey the 'joy' and 'experience' in reading a book/ magazine via strong contents and visually beautiful images. Difference? Well, we have our own style and direction that is distinctively unique and refreshing.  

Indeed that made me take out my copy of ‘little’, flip through the pages and take deep breathes. It had been years since I last enjoyed reading a physical magazine, especially one with interesting contents relating to parenting. Have you only been reading online too?



Me: No doubt “little” is your baby and you spend a considerable amount of time working on it, far more than any other 8 to 5 jobs I would reckon. Tell us more about your family. How do you manage family time? And what do your children feel about your working hours?
 
Kenneth: Frankly, I must say, I am very lucky to have a truly understanding and patience wife (Belinda) :) who puts up with my crazy hours and ideas :) As to my children (Ian and Rain), they are used to my insane working hours but i do try my best to spend quality time with them as much as I can. My family is the main reason why i am doing 'little', both are driven by passion and maintained by love.


So true that having the whole family rallying behind you for a common goal makes it all worthwhile. And spending quality time with the family is important, not only quantity.
 


Me: I admit I hadn't been reading much, but I know that 'little' touches on Singaporean topics such as SG50 and Singlish or feature local celebrities like Jack Neo etc as well, BUT I always wonder why there are always so many more Caucasian child models featured (just like many other publications I had come across). Is this some industry standards or could you shed some light on this as I had been wondering for so long!
 
Kenneth: Sad to hear, don't worry, i will send you copies for you to read. LOL. As to the selection of kids, it is usually base on the brand direction and fit of clothes. The kid has to be able to represent the Brand that he/ she is representing.
 
Understandably it still boils down to the 'Brands'. I don't know about you but I would rather see a better representation of the real demographics. Besides, only Ang Moh wear nice clothing meh? But still, thanks for the magazines Kenneth!
 


Me: If you are given a chance to turn back time, what would be the things you would have done differently, for ‘little’, and for your family?
 
Kenneth: I never look back and wondered if I could have done better, I am grateful for what I have at the moment for 'little' :) As to my family, the only thing is maybe to have more 'time' as it flies by so fast.

 
Walau a, asking what if only mah! But then again, it is a timely reminder that we can't change the past, and for us to live in the present. Indeed time flies and look how tall his kids are already.
 

 
Me: Is there anything you would like to tell our readers about ‘little’ and what to expect for the coming months?
 
Kenneth: If parents/ readers are looking for something refreshing, current, and informative yet stylish, try 'little'. 'little' is turning 3 years old this Aug 2016, expect 'BIG' news soon!, so look out for us at all major bookstores! :)



Heartiest congratulations on turning 3, and I know there will be many more years to come, especially with the great support from your fans. So where's the party?



This unique 'little' magazine is available at all major bookstores, but for now you can first follow them on their website, official Facebook page and Instagram for more info and giveaways too! Woohoo!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The "Perfect" Father Cooks!

[Media Invite]

I attended a cooking class recently, the first ever “real” cooking class where I get to cook for real. I had been to my fair share of “cooking” classes with the kiddos, only to mix and stir at most. Well, to be fair those classes were meant for kiddos, so they had to be really safe. 


Since it was really my virgin adult cooking class, I had totally no idea what to expect, how it will turn out to be and I even had to borrow an apron. Luckily they made the exception for me when I asked to bring my eldest daughter Steffi along for support. 

For this inaugural cooking class by Chef Diana Gale (from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe), we were actually taught how to make one dessert and a spaghetti dish from scratch. And I heard some terms used in cooking and learnt about different types of sugar and flour for the very first time in my life. A truly eye-opener for me. Who would’ve knew how to “macerate” strawberries or the difference between one flour from another? Not me for sure! 

It was a really fun class I say with this lady!

I have a sweet tooth and would gladly have dessert for all meals if I had to, but I never thought that making my own Strawberry Parfait from scratch would be so SATISFYING! From dicing the strawberries, cutting up the sponge cake, whipping your own cream, layering the parfait to finally tasting it! 





All it needs is a little chilling!
The only meal I had even cooked for myself would be instant noodle topped with an omelette and I already found that troublesome because of having to wash up the pan and the pot after cooking. Imagine my surprise when I learnt from the Chef, the lazy easy way of cooking a nice One-Pot Pasta with Spiced Chicken and Oregano Breadcrumbs! And we really used just ONE pot for cooking everything, from the breadcrumbs, chicken to the pasta! Amaze balls! 

As you can see, I am the thorn amongst the roses. 


My partner for the day, Adeline Onn, who makes beautiful jewellery pieces at Adeline's Loft!
"One Pot to rule them all!"

The fear of the unknow is holding back many from discovering wonderful new experiences. I am glad that I came for the cooking class, and discovered for myself the feeling of cooking up a meal. Of course I felt a great sense of achievement, especially when my loved ones likes what I made. With that, it might just change my renovation ideas for our new place, and perhaps make me allocate more space and budget to my kitchen! 



My photographer of the day, with the Chef!
We all would have encountered boring lessons at certain points in our lives. The ones which makes you feel so miserable that you would rather be anywhere else perhaps? Well, no worries about that with this humorous lady chef who looked and sounded as if she had been teaching for the longest time ever. And she has baking classes coming up next, which I think would be very interesting as well – 

Hands-on Bread Loaves and Bread Buns

Venue: Bosch Experience Centre, 11 Bishan St 21 Level 4, Singapore 573943 (Near Marymount MRT)

Date and Time: Friday 26 August 2016 10am - 1.30pm
Fees: $124.25 per pax
Maximum Class size: 10
Registration Link: https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/hands-on-bread-loaves-and-bread-buns-weekday-tickets-26988384986?utm_term=eventurl_text 

Date and Time: Saturday 27 August 2016 2pm - 5.30pm
Fees: $124.25 - $139.63 per pax
Maximum Class size: 10
Registration Link: https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/hands-on-bread-loaves-and-bread-buns-weekend-tickets-26988401034?utm_term=eventurl_text 

Limited slots only, so be sure to sign up if you wanna learn how to bake your own bread loaves and never look back at the stale loaves in the supermarket shelves ever again!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Barney’s Greatest Hits

[Event Listing]


Well, the friendly purple dinosaur is one character that the kiddos loved and we would catch him and the rest of his crew whenever they were in town. Even though the shows during the Jukebox Party and Beach Party at City Square Mall were rather short, they still made the kiddos' day! 

For one weekend only (9-11 Sep 2016), Barney will be holding a live concert together with his pals BJ, Baby Bop and Riff in Barney’s Greatest Hits! Get ready to sing and dance along to over 25 songs including old-time favourites such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, “Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, as well as catchy tunes such as“Dino Dance”, “Baby Bop Hop” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.”


I am sure kiddos will be wowed by the visit to the Musical Castle, or trip to the purple planet in outer space as they go on the imaginative adventure tour. What's even better for families is that from now till 17 August, you can get 25% off purchase of 4 tickets in the "Buy 3 Get 1 Free" promotion. You just need to select 4 tickets from the relevant categories.


Ticket Giveaway

Well, if you are feeling lucky, head over to SmartParents to take part in their giveaway to win one of of two sets of 4 tickets (Cat 2) to the 2pm show on 9 September 2016 worth $352! Giveaway ends on 14 Aug 2016.

Useful Information

Venue
The Theatre at Mediacorp 1 Stars Avenue, Singapore 138507

Performance Times:
09 Sept 16, Friday:  2:00pm and 5:00pm
10 Sept 16, Saturday: 11:00am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm
11 Sept 16, Sunday: 11:00am and 2:00pm

Ticket Price / Bookings:
From $48 - $108 (excl booking fees)
Tickets available online at Sistic website, or through 6348 5555 and all SISTIC channels

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Extra (Clear) Eyes at Home

[Product Review]

I had never thought of installing a security camera at home even though I have gotten my own place for over a decade now. Not as if had the material stuff for anyone to even consider breaking into the house for, nor were there any needs for me to view the empty house during the day. However we were definitely given the advice to install one by friends and family members when they knew of our decision to get a domestic helper about two years back, just for the peace of mind.

The IP camera served its purpose as a deterrent (for whatever nasty stuff we didn’t want to experience), as well as a spying device on the kiddos, and was installed at a prominent location in the house. When we first had it, the wife and I would find ourselves logging in frequently to check on the two older kids, and to find out what they did after school. I would even call home occasionally to speak to the kiddos and mention about what they were doing, so that they get the idea that daddy knows what was happening at home. The frequency of us checking got lesser as time passed.
Pardon the mess in the house. This is also the exact resolution I get from my old camera via the app.
Besides the fact that the novelty was wearing off, we came to realize that the camera was not performing as reliably as we hoped. We often found it disconnected even though no one tinkered with the power source. Even though I had it installed right at the corner, and from a high angle, I still had only limited view of the house. We had to switch it off and on again whenever it got disconnect and attributed this to equipment wear. The camera remained in its place though, solely as a deterrent now.

The screen of death that I often get when trying to access the IP camera remotely.
Things changed when we got to try out another IP camera. This time it was a DCS-960L, HD 180-degree Infrared Wireless AC Ultra-Wide View Cloud IP Camera from DLink, a company I knew better-known for the different modems I had used over the years. I am not a very technical person and am usually not bothered about specifications but it sounded good enough for me, a person without high expectations. Especially considering that I lived with the lackluster performance of my earlier IP camera for many months by now.

Fixing the physical camera after unboxing it posed no difficulty at all. Anyone would be able to do it without even referring to the instruction booklet. I only had to download the Dlink Lite app (available on both android and AppStore) and follow the instructions on the app. The steps were basically -


I left the camera standing on the shelf, but you can use heavy-duty double-sided tape to stick the base onto the wall too.
  1. Unbox, fix up the camera and connect to power source;
  2. Download DLink Lite;
  3. Register a new account with Dlink;
  4. Connect to camera via its WiFi;
  5. Secure a connection to home WiFi via the app; and
  6. Viola, enjoy your HD live streaming from your new device.
Once downloaded, the app will get you step-by-step on how to connect the IP camera.
It's no exaggeration. I was totally blown away by images captured by the device when I first got it set up. It was crisp and the camera angle captured the entire living room! I can literally see the sweet wrapper on the floor! Even my wife was wowed by it and immediately requested that I install the app for her on her android phone.

Now you really need to PARDON the mess, with everything so clear in vivid HD! I can even zoom in if I needed a closer look at the mess! And this was taken from the exact position of my old camera.
Our verdict

The HD 180-degree Infrared Wireless AC Ultra-Wide View Cloud IP Camera DCS-960L is value-for-money and well-suited for our family's usage. There may be other cameras in the market that you can control and pan remotely, but this one camera may be all you need since it can cover the entire room! It was all we needed, and more.

Beside the video-steaming, I can also hear clearly what the kiddos were arguing back at home with the clear audio playback. The recordings can either be saved via the MicroSD card slot on the camera itself, which you can then access remotely with the playback option via the app. Or you can also record everything onto a Standalone Cloud Network Video Recorder, and set up your own personal security system, with more cameras connected.

We wouldn't hesitate to recommend DLink DCS-960L to you if you are thinking of getting one for the house. For $209, enjoy hassle-free self-installation and a peace of mind with the vivid HD view of your house, anywhere, anytime. Check out the full product specifications here, or purchase your camera online.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Outdoors, You Make It Fun!

We always lament how kids our kids are glued to their electronic screens, in air-conditioned rooms no less. But as parents, we really can do our part in active parenting by not letting these devices take over our responsibilities. It is definitely a big difference these days, as compared to my own childhood. Perhaps it was because I am the 4th child in the family of all boys – my parents were more relaxed with me going out to play all day long after school. I could go down the canals to catch longkang fishes or roam the forests of Mount Faber in search of that elusive spider or snake with my neighborhood friends. I would be fine, as long as I came back in time for dinner! And all that happened, while I was in lower primary.

How often does one allow the kiddos to dip into a stream or canal these days? We do!
Fast forward to present, where I now have my own children. Society has changed and I can almost imagine the weird looks I’d get from others if I were to allow my kiddos to do the same. I am apprehensive of allowing the kiddos to roam the streets on their own as well. I used to live near Mount Faber last time, it was more of exploring nature and playing with friends but it is all shopping malls and concrete jungles now. Leaving the kiddos to their own (electronic) devices after school may benefit them, in terms of perhaps word recognition, general knowledge or basically just whiling away time. But I really wouldn't want the kiddos to only have dexterous fingers, while the rest of their muscles waste away! Besides, have you noticed how kids these days are so reliant on the aircon? It is almost as if they will melt under the sun like butter! I know, because even though I my kiddos out on a regular basis, they still request to turn on the aircon in the living room at times. Maybe global warming made a difference too?

We make it a point to bring the kiddos out whenever we can, even though the mind usually tell the body to rest over the weekends but the heart says otherwise. We bring our kiddos swimming since they were mere babies, and believe that the earlier we expose the babies to water, the easier it would be for them to adapt and be water-confident. There’s no need to be living in a condo with a swimming pool or an expensive gym membership to swim regularly. In fact all Singaporeans get $100 credit once you sign up for ActiveSG that you can use for the pools, even for the kiddos and that is $600 for my whole family! Now imagine how long it will take for us to fully utilize the credit, by going to our favorite Ang Mo Kio public swimming pool, which also happens to be within a short walking distance!

My kiddos were all “thrown” into the waters since they were babies. Here’s Leroy in the waters at 6mths.
We also live near Ang Mo Kio - Bishan Park, which makes it a great (and free) place for the family to visit, whether planned or impromptu! The place is huge and has quite a number of playgrounds, including a wet play area! Besides getting a good dose of vitamin D from the sun, the kiddos also  get to learn a lot about the different varieties of plants and animals found there! Take a slow walk and discover butterflies and beautiful bugs amongst the foliage, or the kids can zoom about in their scooters too. Spot the squirrel or even get to meet the famous otter family if you are in luck. The walk to the park provides the much needed exercise for the whole family, and the thought of getting to the playgrounds usually keeps the kiddos going without too much of a complaint. Except when it gets too hot during mid-day of course, for which they would all get a little cranky!

Get the kiddos exposed to sand play. I don’t know about you but it gets a little getting used to for my younger kiddos. I think they were terrified actually!
Getting a dip in the wet play area is simply refreshing, after a whole day of play in the sand and sun
Outdoor play benefits the kiddos much, as they learn so much more about our surroundings through real contact, as compared to via a screen. Every visit is a different learning experience for them, and you can even make it more fun! Just check out how you can do so here!

Note: This blog post is in collaboration with Friso. Kids learn from experiences whether big or small, good or bad. That’s why Friso provides the right nutrition for your child to be strong inside to take on challenges. For more information on Friso, follow them on their Website, Facebook or Instagram.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dyson V8 Sucks, Big Time!

[Product Review]
 
Now before you get me wrong, I really do mean it literally when I said Dyson V8 sucks. In fact, it sucked really well for a handheld portable cord-free vacuum cleaner. I have to admit though, that I do not clean up the house as much as the perfect daddy / husband should, and my experience with handling vacuum cleaner is limited to the conventional vacuum cleaner I received as a housewarming gift when I first got my flat over a decade ago.

Back then, I used to be really house-proud and would do a thorough cleaning up once a week, but then as the kiddos starting coming into our lives one by one, things changed (more proud of something else I guess, the kids). Where one could easily waltz from one end of the hall to the other previously, there are now tables, chair, toys and what not all over the place. And with more stuff and human (skin) in the house now, there are lots more dust flying around but yet we used the vacuum cleaner less often. I wouldn't even want to touch on the dust mites...

Lugging the vacuum cleaner around the house became increasingly irritating, and even more so when it needs to be plugged into a power point! Gradually the cleaning became less frequent and even after we got a helper, I had never seen her use the vacuum cleaner, relying on sweeping and mopping instead.
 
Our First Introduction to Dyson

 
I am not the “into” cleaning but I definitely know of the brand Dyson. With rumbustious toddlers in the house for the past 8 years who doesn’t give a hoot about putting their hands on or into anything that moves, it scares the hell out of me at times. Hence I cannot help but admire the technology behind the bladeless fans by Dyson, which I find simply amazing.

So when we were actually invited over to Trehaus by the Dyson team for a casual get-together and introduction to their latest vacuum cleaner, I knew that this one "die die" cannot miss, and I was right. The Dyson V8 is indeed another technologically advanced piece of equipment from the company.

On hard floors, this soft roller cleaner head picks up both fine particles as well as bigger pieces.
And it can be dismantled for cleaning if required.
The Dyson V8 Fluffy comes with a variety or attachment heads for your cleaning needs!
This special joint allows you to reach difficult angles without twisting your wrists!
Showing you how to remove the filter for the occasional wash under the tap if required. No need to buy replacement!
Just put on the right attachment and you can clean animal (soft toys) too, without incurring the wrath of SPCA!
Bag-less Technology + Easy Dirt Removal

Being first time homeowner and user, I didn’t know of the need to change the dust bag. In fact I thought my vacuum cleaner had spoilt when it could hardly pick up anything due to the full bag which had restricted the air flow!

I was really happy when I finally realized what the problem was, UNTIL I noticed that it didn’t take long for the need to change the bag again, and how bloody EXPENSIVE the bags were. In fact I have a feeling that the companies make more money out of these bags, over selling the machines themselves!

Even kiddos can operate the machine and dispose of the rubbish easily.
The Dyson V8 is bag-less, never loses its suction power (unless it’s time to recharge of course) and its dirt ejector makes easy work of removing all the accumulated dirt without getting the hands dirty. Even my kiddos were able to operate it easily.

Light & Versatile

I still remember trying to suck out the dust on the top of my air-conditioning unit previously. I had to take remove the nozzle head from the flexible tube so that it can fit into the crevice between the ceiling and air-conditioner, carry the bloody vacuum cleaner with one hand, and use the other hand to move the tube around. Going to the next room, means having to unplug and repeat the same process! With the body aches that follow, I would often curse and swear till the next cleaning.
 

The portable cord-free Dyson V8 is a totally different story altogether. It may not be super lightweight (at 2.55kg), but is manageable enough for me to move around and reach all the hard to reach nooks and crannies without any problem. All I needed were the most relevant attachments for the job.

Even with its motor rotating at 5 times the speed of the Formula 1 car motor, the battery lasts a respectable 4hrs with a full charge. Usage time is shortened though, if you were to turn it on at full power. I would have expected the machine to sound much louder than it actually did, especially with the comparison with the Formula 1 engine but it was pretty silent on normal power mode.

Practicality

One may be easily awed by the great performances put up by the salesperson in the departmental store selling the latest start-of-the-art machinery to combat dirt and grime. I personally, was almost sold when the salesperson of one particular brand came over my place to do a demonstration, after someone in the family took a free gift (a mistake I would say).

It may be a great product in theory, BUT given its bulk and PRICE, it is really not for us. I know of a friend who bought the machine only to leave it dormant in his storeroom (after the initial enthusiastic period of cleaning), and still needing to pay for its remaining instalments!

What you REALLY need, is something that you will use on a regular basis. And Dyson V8 Fluffy is one that you can use any time and I would imagine it to be really handy for car owners too!
 
Even Spider boy approves!
Verdict
 
I personally find the performance of Dyson V8 ideal for everyday use for HDB-dwellers like myself. Have the docking station fixed at the right corner in the house, and harness the fade-free suction power of the machine at will. Just perfect!
 
 

The cord-free and light-weight Dyson V8 makes cleaning enjoyable, even for little kiddos!
My only grouse would have to be the price tag of $1,099 for the Dyson V8 Fluffy, but considering if you factor in the savings from not having to purchase any consumables such as filters or dust bags, it may pretty well work out fine in the long run.

Oh, and also the need to find a place to store all the different attachments / heads too since the docking station cannot hold these.

Other than the above, Dyson V8 rocks and sucks (really well)! Thank you Dyson for the review set, we love it! You can get yours from the list of authorized retailers here and the prices are as follows -