Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Doodly Woods by ZOOMOOV

[Media Invite & Giveaway]

Do you know that there is a place in Westgate where your child can craft to his / her heart's content in 15mins - 45mins timeslots, with all the materials provided for at one fixed price? There is no need to worry about the cost of the acrylic paint, markers, decorations, cups or craft paper used because they are all included. But of course to prevent wastage, everything would have to be completed and done on site lah!




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We visited Doodly Woods last weekend and all the 4 kiddos thoroughly enjoyed themselves with the many crafting possibilities, and one is only limited by his / her creativity and imagination, or timing in this case! This is definitely a nice place to hang out for "westerners" and parents with children in childcare can seriously consider coming here whenever you need to help them with their crafting homework from childcare! Saves you trouble with sourcing the materials and cleaning up the house!







The kiddos' creations!
Thanks to ZOOMOOV, we have a pair of tickets (for 45mins sessions on 19, 20, 26 or 27 Aug) at Doodly Woods for 3 lucky readers who completes the following -

Giveaway Instructions

Ensure that you complete the following steps before end of Fri, 18 Aug 2017 -

1) Like and follow The "Perfect" Father Facebook page;
2) Like and follow ZOOMOOV Facebook page;
3) Like and Share this Facebook post publicly; and lastly
4) Comment in the Facebook post once done and tag your friends!

Useful Information 

Address: 3 Gateway Dr, Westgate, Singapore S608532 (Level 4, outside DBS Bank)


Monday, August 14, 2017

Canon Shootout (EOS M10)

[Media Invite]

We were invited to a Canon family shoot out session at South Beach a few weekends back and tried out their latest Canon EOS M10 camera, which in all honesty, I would not have tried, if not for this particular session. And the reason is simply because I am a procrastinator and a laggard who is resistant to change. I was glad I went for that session.

Steffi was really interested to try out the camera too!

I had been using a Sony NEX 5RL for years, and it was actually under the persuasion of my sister-in-law who thought that it was good. It sure was good and takes decent photographs. I especially loved the digital viewfinder and the screen which can be flipped for that easy wefie with the family. However till now, I had never progressed beyond the "auto" mode. So what good is a piece of equipment if the user doesn't improve? I had only been using its kit lens ever since too, even though the lens were inter-changeable!

A wefie but I definitely could use a selfie stick, or longer arms!

Loved the timing of this shot which capture our friend high up in the air! Still in focus some more!
I thought she looked cool!
It was just 5mins of basic instructions before each family got their respective EOS M10 loan sets to try out. Fiddling with the touch screen and the different menus were rather intuitive and even my little ones was able to grasp the concept of how they worked. Loving the different shooting modes and they even had the fishball effect without the need for special lens. I am pretty sure that this camera would serve my needs really well, and the other plus point is that the price of the basic set (comes with Pikachu shoulder plush now) is like only half of what I paid for my Sony NEX 5RL back then! I love the easy operation of this nifty set, and even though I know I would be most likely to be using the only the kit lens, I know for a fact that I can upgrade the lens for this mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera when I feel like I am ready.

Steffi took this shot of her sister and you should click on the video below too!
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There is this function that takes a short clip of what happened before you clicked on the shutter button and we only found out after reviewing the memory card content. Quite funny lor!

It was sure a fun day out with the kiddos and their new found Pokemon friend, Squirtle as we roamed South Beach for some photography inspiration. Steffi also tried her hands at capturing fun shots of us too and handled it like a pro, although in my heart I was still a little scared that she might damage the camera lol! And just when we got to know Canon EOS M10 a little better, we had to return the loan camera with sadness. Well who knows? I might just get one for myself soon. Thank you for having us over for the fun weekend Canon Singapore! How how got discount some more boh?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cooking With the Kiddos

To those who wonder how we survived this long having four kiddos, there is actually someone behind the (blogging) scene who helps take care of our household chores so that we can take "play" seriously. We do have a helper, and we are also lucky that ours came well-trained and we never had to tell her once what to cook and where to clean up. Maybe we are also easy-going lah but it sure beats fussing and over-worrying the little things. 

My helper was surprised when I told her to take a rest as I decided to take "play" into the kitchen this time round. Instead of only "play-cooking" with their favorite Play-Doh this time round, I decided to just "let it go" and experience cooking dinner with the kiddos, for real! All my entire married life, I had never ventured beyond the fried eggs or instant noodles, so this time round, it was also a challenge for me as well.



Meatballs and Spaghetti Dinner

Easy does it. Just throw the meatballs (KÖTTBULLAR) from freezer direct into the oven.
Next up, preparing the savoury sauce (GRÄDDSÅS) for the meatballs.
Getting the older ones to stir the sauces while I oversee their performances. Not too bad.
As you can see, Leroy is hard at work distributing the food amongst the sibling into the unmistakable children sets (KALAS)!
How can we not have mashed potato (POTATISMOS) with our meatballs? It just would not be complete without it! 
Aha! Finally we can tuck into a hearty dinner, complete with their KALAS cutlery and plates as well!
There were so many times when we shopped at IKEA, and thought of having a meal of meatballs, but only to be put off by the super long queues at the restaurant. This time round I noticed a promotion at the Swedish Food Market for the full set of ingredients for the meatballs, and it even came with the the Raspberry and Blueberry Jam!

Took a leap of faith and decided to replicate the dish back home. I was glad I did and it was really as easy as following the steps on the food packaging. Even kiddos can do it and the best part is, they tasted exactly like what they served at the IKEA restaurant! After going through this cooking with the kiddos, I am confident of whipping up the same meatball dish, anytime now! Spaghetti was kinda easy too, with ready-to-cook tomato-based sauce.

Oh by the way, we tried the new improved chicken wings at IKEA and they are as juicy as they were now!
 


Tea Party

With my confidence boosted by the success of the dinner, the kiddos were egging me to continue and try out baking some muffins for a tea party as well! So why not? After all, the instructions on the box of box of IKEA muffin mix seemed easy enough.

Steffi loved to help out and here is she pouring the mix into the baking cups. We only needed to add in water and shake VIGOROUSLY that's all! 
As much as I would like to report that everything went smoothly, unfortunately it didn't. The first batch of muffin we did, was a little HARD for us to swallow. If anyone (or anything) is to be blamed, it has to be my itchy fingers opening the door too often to check and also that the oven that we were using is probably not suitable for baking!

Yup, it was really HARD! But thankfully the second batch was much better before my confidence hit ROCK bottom!
The kiddos were not easily disappointed though, and we ended up having a fun time drinking tea and smoothies with the second batch of muffins looking pretty in the 2-tier GARNERA display stand on the MARIT table-runner. It was especially fun for the kiddos because they get to sip from their fun-sized DUKTIG coffee / tea set! To be honest, I found it kind of cute too and for some weird reasons, the drinks must have tasted exceptionally good in these cups. The same goes for the food that we prepared together! 


We had more snacks in the end and the kiddos also decorated the muffins with whipped cream and sprinkles before devouring them. We did end up with a rather nicely framed Instagram shot for the record but left a lot more dishes for the helper to wash! Sorry Yati!



This blog post is brought to you in collaboration with IKEA Singapore!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Miffy's Singapore Adventure

[Media Invite]

So Miffy had arrived at Junction 8 and you can have non-stop Miffy Fun from on Saturdays from 31 July - 8 October (2 pm and 5pm) or daily from 1-10 September, Daily (2 pm and 5pm) at Level 1, Junction 8.


You can redeem a workshop pass for Sand Art, Biscuit Decoration, Shrink Art, Lantern Making with a min. spend of $50 at Junction 8. Reserve your slot for $5 and receive tenant vouchers worth $20 when you turn up for it! Worth it right?


The kiddos had a fun bento making session with Sakae Sushi but it was only over the weekend 0f 5-6 Aug 17. It was super fun for the kiddos and sorry for not writing about this earlier! My bad!

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Get to redeem an exclusive Miffy premium when you spend a minimum of $180 ($240 for FairPrice Finest Receipts) at Junction 8. Redeem an exclusive colouring set with a minimum spend of $60 at Junction 8.


Go check out Junction 8 website for more information on the Meet and Greet and Picnic Party! Thank you for inviting the kiddos over!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Airbnb, is not for everybody!

I had been relying on Airbnb for my travels on many occasion simply because it is often the cheapest way to go. I had booked Airbnb in Tokyo, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Australia. Thank goodness they were pretty uneventful and I was generally cool with the usual dirt in the apartment or even the occasional insects (but bedbugs are a NO NO of course!). However my recent Airbnb experience with Stacci in Perth, was truly quite an eye-opener even for me.

The listing had only one photo of a small portion of the living room, but because the person who listed the apartment was quite responsive and reasonably friendly, I took my chances. The apartment looked really nice from the outside and was located in a great location, just slightly beyond the free bus zone of Perth City. There were a total of 3 rooms on the second level of the apartment of which we took one, and there were crudely partitioned areas on the first level which housed another 2 tenants. I later learnt that this apartment was rented out to an entrepreneurial Thai national who then sublet out to other Thai students and even put up rooms on Airbnb to supplement her income. Well, being open to meeting new friends, I am still cool with that.

She told us upon check-in that nothing else will be provided, except for our room and I only found out the following day, that we had to put on the bedsheets and blanket covers on our own, after discovering the sheets in the wardrobe. That was how “bochup” I was, sleeping directly on the mattress without realizing it the night before!

Friendly cockroaches were around but we are still okay with it.
We had to share the bathroom, which had a bathtub. It was late night when we checked in and Stacci said she wanted to take a hot bath which I agreed, but only on the next day. When it was light the following day, we went to the bathroom and the plan was immediately aborted. 

Hmm, the amount of hair and grime in the bathroom really puts us off.
I wonder when was the last time anyone used the tub?
The wash basin didn't look that clean either but we will survive.
I was still okay to all the above, but it got really irritating when the students (of which numbers I lost count) started having late night booze parties at the backyard, directly below our room. I mean, listening to music and having fun past midnight is understandable at times but all the way till 3am-4am for a few nights is a little too much. Spoke to them nicely the first time it happened but it fell on deaf ears (not a surprising condition with the music volume they were playing). 

We were told that we are free to use the yard. Not that we would like to anyway.

The aftermath of the late night parties.
On the last night, someone knocked loudly at my door and when I opened it, I was surprised to see an angry Caucasian lady demanding to see a particular person but I had no idea who she as referring to. It then dawned on me that she was actually the neighbor who wanted to confront the main tenant on the ruckus that she had to deal with on the many noisy nights. Thank goodness I was only there for 9 days.

Airbnb had definitely changed the way how one travels these days, offering convenience and the much relished homestay feel at a reasonable price. But I am just sharing with you that not all listings accurate, with many homeowners none the wiser about what goes on in their properties and others out to just make some quick bucks in their otherwise underutilized space. It may be cheap, but you have to deal with whatever less than pleasant stuff that gets thrown at you and you MUST always be prepared to make alternative plans. Because it is not as if you can request to check-in into another room! Sure you can raise it up to Airbnb immediately but you are still pretty on your own there and then.

But in the end, it doesn't even matter. Because we had each other for the journey!
Having said all that, I was still glad that Stacci and I got through all the insects, filth and noise together. She is a pretty tough lady alright, sleeping through all that and we still had an enjoyable Perth bonding trip since we were mostly out and about during the day! I think many would have totally freaked out at the condition of the apartment, but we took that as bonding and beyond!

The reason for my posting is really to let all potential Airbnb customers better manage their expectations. I wasn't expecting much when I booked the really cheap apartment, hence I was still kind of okay with it. Did leave a remark in my feedback that went, "Location is great and walkable. However if you are a light sleeper or a cleanliness freak, it will not be suitable for you. Remember, you get what you paid for. :) Suitable for backpackers / budget travellers."  One really needs to be mentally prepared because there is really no other room you can check into, besides the one you had booked. But if it can be solved with money, it is also not a problem. The only problem is when you have no money. Dang...
 
Anyway, have fun travelling everyone!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Visit to the Source of our Greens

Singapore is highly dependant on our neighbouring countries for a variety of resources, be it water, food or even manpower. To ensure the freshness of the produce that reaches the markets, they would have to be shipped (while not fully ripened yet) or air-flown. With the aim of reducing the carbon footprint, over-dependency on certain sources and maintaining prices, NTUC FairPrice has also been supporting local farms with the sales of their produce in their supermarkets.

Yes, a lot of hard work goes behind the production of that single plant Leroy is holding!
I am not a particularly fond of vegetables, but when the opportunity of bringing family on a special visit to the local farms came along, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me to show the kiddos the amount of work that goes into putting that greeny goodness on our tables. The kiddos may know where to find vegetables in the supermarkets, but going all the way to the sources would definitely be an eye-opener for them! 

These tall structures houses the towers that the plants are being grown on!
When we think of vegetable farms, the picture of a vast field of vegetables planted in soil comes to mind. Or at most hydroponics farming, which is also gaining popularity. But Sky Greens is taking it even further by growing plants in 3m, 6m to even 9m tall aluminium towers! Just like our HDB flats, the only way to maximize space is to go up. I would have imagined the farm to be using hydroponics but they are using potted soil instead, and utilizes hydraulic water-driven system to rotate the growing troughs so that the plants receives uniform sunlight, irrigation and nutrients! And the amazing thing is that all these only requires 40W electricity, making the patented system a truly low-carbon and sustainable solution to farming in land-scarce Singapore.

Red tilapias are part of the system too, with the water they live in and the waste they produce being recycled!

Where going up is the only way to go.
The plants are grown in these troughs of soil.

The vegetables are harvested by hand, packed, stored and delivered to NTUC FairPrice, usually on the same day.




The soil needs to be cycled and this is where they are kept before the next use.
The kiddos with Dr Ngiam Tong Tau, Chairman of Sky Urban Solutions and Mr Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice.
Many of you would be familiar with Kok Fah Technology Farm, as many organized weekend farm tours would usually include a stopover at the weekend market in the farm, where city-dwellers marvel at the range and freshness of the produce. But we were lucky to be treated to a VIP tour of the farm where we learnt all about the technologies used from the seed-sowing stage all the way to the production line where the vegetables are packed! And now we know exactly the stages the greens had to go through before it reaches your nearest NTUC FairPrice outlet as a pack of Pasar vegetables! Besides supplying their own local-grown vegetables to the supermarket chain, they also does the packing for their imported vegetables as well.  

The very down-to-earth bosses of the farm. 
The kiddo were amazed by the machine that does short work of sowing the seeds into their respective receptacles. 

It was quite warm and I guess Leroy wanted to be cooled by the automatic misting system.


Rows upon rows of seedlings waiting to be transplanted to the soil.

The kiddos learning how to harvest the vegetables.

And here we learn that harvested vegetables has to go through a vacuum cooler which evaporates the water in and on the surface of the vegetable to extend their storage life and retain quality.




The workers will bundle the vegetable and ensure the quality before the machines does the rest of the work.


And yeap, this is about the freshest it can get, only second behind our locally-produced crops!
It is truly heartening to know that NTUC FairPrice is helping SMEs by promoting local products / produce. In doing so, it allows the farms to concentrate and improve on doing what they do best, farming, instead of worrying over sales. Besides, where else can we find the freshest produce at the most reasonable price, other than our own backyards? Thank you for inviting the family over for the interesting visit to your partnering farms NTUC FairPrice, and we sure have a much better understanding of what goes on behind the supply chain now!