Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Boo List - iHerb Edition


So... as much as I would like to rave, I have to talk about stuff that didn't make the cut (for me). Here is a few items from iHerb that I didn't quite like. But do remember one (wo)man's poison may be another (wo)man's meat!
This worked pretty well for a friend's oily scalp but didn't quite cut it for me. It turned my hair into straw like texture and did not keep my scalp as oil free as the Tea Tree Triple Treat version. So after attempting to use it in different types of weather (hot and cooler), I decided to chuck it. It simply wasn't doing its job as a shampoo for me.

So I got suckered in by the argan oil claim, but gawd... did this make my oily scalp itch like a *t00t*. They (Giovanni) really need to improve on the packaging too. The snap top doesn't snap in well. It has a strong coconut scent to it too. It can be quite overwhelming.

I didn't quite like it because it smells really artificial and Belle (who is picky about scents) hated the way it smells. It doesn't work well for the girls' hair and felt really silicone-y in texture. However, the little boy doesn't mind it much and works ok for a head to toe wash for him.

Despite the good rating on iHerb, I really don't like it. This is really a basic scrub - it exfoliates dead skin cells and that's about it. The claims of having shea butter in it to soften skin, you can't really "feel" it other than the silicone feeling it leaves behind. It does foam up a little, which makes it easier to scrub little kids elbows and knees. Definitely not what I'm looking for in a body scrub.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Recipe Review: Roasted Tomatoes

Tomatoes. I love them raw but I hate them cooked because it isn't easy to get them done right. Some places like to serve them in big chucks whereby they are pretty much under cooked. While some places does it alright, but it still has that tinge of sourness that makes it pretty unpleasant to eat.

A good friend supplied me with this roasted veggie recipe which sounded really delishhh... So when I was at NTUC Finest, I spotted this pack of tomatoes and I thought it would be perfect for trying out her recipe.

All you need is
- Tomatoes in this case, you can honestly use any type of tomatoes you want. Especially if you happened to have been freaked out at the price of this pack!

Original seasoning recipe:
- 1 or 2 tbsp of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oi)
- Sea salt*
- Black pepper*
- Dried herb*

* all to taste

My adaptation:
- 2 tbsp of EVOO
- Himalayan rock salt*
- Black pepper*
- Garlic powder*
- Unrefined coconut sugar*
- 2 stalks of fresh Italian Parsley (chopped)

Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C, use the grill function on your oven. If you don't have, it is ok! Just use the bake function.
  2. Give them a good rinse and cut them into similar sizes. I cut mine into wedges because they are slightly bigger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than a regular tomato.
  3. Toss well with the seasoning
  4. Place them in a baking tray, tin, loaf pan.. whichever that is oven safe.
  5. Grill them for 30 minutes.
And voilà! You now have a perfect side dish to your main meal..

Or you could eat it with pasta, bacon and egg like I did.  Extra yummy with all the juices!
Heaveeeeen in every bite!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Hong Kong Food Trail: Dim Sum

My hubs and I flew to Hong Kong for a short holiday - 4D3N. Just us and of course, there was an extra lightbulb but he is a big boy and didn't need taking care of. So it was okay. =X 

While preparing for the trip, I did some research on food. I read up on a few food blogs, a Hong Kong info blog... etc etc. It wasn't easy to find a planned food trail until I stumbled upon danielfooddiary.com. From then on, it got much easier!

Traveling around Hong Kong is easy enough via MTR and taxi. Even if you can't read Chinese words or speak Cantonese, most signs are bi-lingual. However, the locals might not understand you if you refer places to their English names.

 

Dim Sum

One of the main purpose of this trip is to gorge ourselves silly with dim sums! So we went to both the Michellin 1 star restaurants to try: 一点心 One Dim Sum and 添好运 Tim Ho Wan. We definitely have not tried the local 添好运 Tim Ho Wan so we can't really make a comparison. Do note that this review is only for the 添好运 Tim Ho Wan 中环 Central branch, I can't say they are all the same.

一点心 One Dim Sum

Address: 15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward
Waiting time: About 30 minutes, if you missed the table change.
Walking notes: Prince Edward station. Exit A. Walk down Playing Field Road for two blocks. Remember to cross carefully at the junction! 

Our favourites from there was definitely the fried wantons, turnip cake (or carrot cake in local Singaporean context), steamed pork ribs and chicken feet. The interesting ones were definitely this deep fried egg batter 炸蛋散 with condensed milk and shredded coconut, they also have the option to have it drizzled with honey or sugar syrup 蜜汁. Their custard buns are definitely NOT 流沙包, they are actually 奶黄包. If you are wondering what's the difference, the custard in these buns are curdled so don't expect it to have a molten filling! We like it because it is not as sweet and intense in flavour as the 流沙包. If you have a big group, ordering the glutinous rice steamed in lotus leaf will be a good way to fill you up.

添好运 Tim Ho Wan

Address: Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station, Podium Level 1, IFC Mall, Central
Waiting time: About 30-40 minutes
Walking notes: Central station. Not in mall area despite the address. It's pretty much one of the shop lots at the MTR station itself. If you reach the shopping mall area, means you have overshot and need to go back down. Watch out for the green signboards and large hoards of people waiting outside.

We had some problems locating the restaurant because we took a cab from our hotel to IFC mall. The mall directory does not list 添好运 Tim Ho Wan because it is actually part of the MTR station shopping area. It was really a long wait despite arriving at 11+a.m., it took us a while to get our table. And it was pretty uncomfortable as the table sizes are smaller. They also decided squeezing 3 adults on a 2 pax table is a good idea.

Our favourites were definitely their signature baked bun with bbq pork, the deep fried brinjal and sesame balls. The rest was... meh. We had a lot leftovers despite entering the restaurant feeling starved. I would definitely skip the chicken feet here, and stick to the dim sum items that you like. Re-ordering is only allowed once, so make it count!

Worthwhile?

During that trip, we went back to 一点心 One Dim Sum again and ordered our favourites. I must say they do one of the better and cheaper traditional dim sum eats. Are they the best tasting ones? Definitely not, but they are definitely budget friendly! On the other hand, we left 添好运 Tim Ho Wan feeling a little disappointed. It wasn't worth the hype at all. Perhaps we went in with too much expectations?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Homemade Chicken Soup

Fresh fresh vegetables...
Ingredients:
- 1 large organic chicken
- 5 stalks of celery
- 2 ears of sweet corn
- 2 carrots
- 3 small bulbs of garlic
- A tiny bit of ginger
- 1 onion
- 2 tsp of peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf

Everything into the pot!
1. Rinse the chicken. Wash the chicken.

Today, I decided to try this whole organic chicken that I found in the market. The chicken seller was really nice and cleaned the chicken well. All I had to do was just give it a salt wash and rinse it thoroughly.

2. Chop up the vegetables!

There's no hard or fast rule on what type of veggies to go into the pot.. There are times that I prefer daikon/white radish to sweet corn and celery combo. Most prefer root veggies as they are much more ideal to create home made stock.

3. Add in 2.5 litres of water to the pot and start boiling it.

Once the water boils, let it continue to boil for another 30 minutes on medium heat. Then, turn down the heat to simmer till done.

My yield!
I managed to get 12 cups of stock. The larger containers contain 3 cups each, while the smaller ones contain 2 cups. This supply of stock will probably last us one or two weeks depending on usage. I took the flesh off the organic chicken since it seems like a waste. My two dogs will be having them as a treat. Homemade soup stock can be easy to make, its just really time consuming. I managed to get it done while my two younger ones were napping. So yay! I'm totally looking forward to chicken noodle soup this coming week...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

February iHerb Haul

My first batch!
Second round was *cough cough* much more...

If you never heard of iHerb.com, go check them out! Use my code BAG864 for your first time purchase, you will get up to $10 off. (Do note that its an affiliated link!)
 
Now, which item shall we do reviews on? =D

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Daiso Shopping Guide - Microfiber Cloths

Daiso - don't we all love that darn place? You can find anything under the sun there and all just for $2 for each item! But have you ever felt overwhelmed by the selection of things inside? And how do you get the bang for your buck (or in this case, two bucks) with each item purchased? 

I have been going to Daiso for a long long long time..  At only $2 for each item, you will be surprised how much you think you *need* from there. You will convince yourself that you really really do *need* it, and what more? It's only $2! But here's the thing, does it really work? That's what I am here to help you. I am going to start a series of posts on the "die-die-must-try/buy" Daiso items and here's the first!

Back in the days, when microfiber cloths were really expensive, one of the most convenient and cheapest place to get them was Daiso. At $2 for a pack of two or more cloths, which makes the microfiber cloths cost a dollar or less, and that's really cheap! So let me recommend a few of my favourites...

First one up is the Microfiber Kitchen Cloth for kitchen! This Kitchen version comes in two sizes. The smaller size in a two pack while the larger size cloth has only one in the pack.

Small size: 20x30 cm, Large size: 40x40 cm

 

Why are these good? 

Microfiber cloths can repel water or absorb like a sponge. For cleaning, you need the microfiber cloths to be absorbent. To do a quick test, run your hand over the cloth. Does it catch on your skin's imperfection like callus, or peeling cuticles? If it does, that means the fiber of the cloth is "split".

The kitchen cloth is made out of "split" fibers
Split microfiber cloths can absorb water really well and help lift dusts away from surfaces instead of leaving them behind. That makes it ideal for cleaning counter tops, dining tables and stove tops. It lifts away the grease and dirt instead of just pushing it around when you clean.

I personally prefer the small size because it is much more ergonomic in my small hands and frankly, its cheaper to have 2 pieces than 1 piece for $2. And the fact it is pink in colour is also a plus point! *bimbo moment* While the large size comes in two colours - white and blue.
Size Comparison: Larger cloth folded in half, smaller cloth spread out

These babies also come in a Dusting/Polishing version. So do make sure you read the words on the packaging before grabbing! The dusting/polishing version is not ideal for kitchen cleaning. So please do not think they are the same.

Next up is the Microfiber Dust Cloth. It comes in a 3 pack. I don't think it comes in other colours, have only seen the white ones to date.

How to use these?

It says on the cardboard package that it is suitable for commercial floor wipers.


And if you own a Magiclean wiper or any form of floor wiper mop, this batch of cloths will come in handy. I am pretty okay with the dry Magiclean sheet. They do their job of picking up dust, dirt and hair. However, I don't quite like the wet sheets. They tend to leave behind a film of residue on my floor. So I take a piece of the Microfiber Dust cloth and wet it with the solution mix I use for floor. Then, hook it up the same way as you would with the sheets.. 
Ta-da!
I use this for tight areas like under my sofa or places where my steam mop can't get to easily (like my stairs). The extra pieces come in handy, all you have to do is change it for each area or once it gets dirty.  

How to wash?

I don't recommend bleaching the cloths because you destroy the fibers which affects the cloths' performance. All you need to do is soak them in a pail of water with some (or very little) detergent. Then, chuck them into the washing machine and let the machine do the rest for you. Once done, line dry and they are ready to be used again!

This conclude the first post of my Daiso Shopping Guide. It is a little lengthy but I hope that I have help you understand microfiber cloths better and help cut down some process of your household cleaning! So shop away at Daiso. Heck, it's only $2 so try for fun lah!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Review: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Treatment Concealer

Do you find concealers a hassle to wear? I definitely do! Concealers are one of my least used make up products until I became a mother. When all the sleepless nights brought on the dark circles and the breakouts from stressful days, I started hunting down a concealer that I would really really used. I know some ladies find concealer (or even just make up in general) intimidating to use, but let me introduce you to my best pal - the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Treatment Concealer.

In shades (L-R): Light 120 and Brightener 160 (Pink)

The texture of the concealer is light and blends easily into my skin. It will give you light to medium coverage, enough to cover what needs to be covered and look natural on your skin. But what I really like about it, is that it comes with a sponge tip applicator! It helps apply the product on a whole lot easier. What I do - load the applicator with concealer, swipe directly to the under eye area and around my nose area for some light concealing, blend it out with my fingers or beauty blender. And I am done!

Maybelline claims that it erases your dark circles, reduce puffiness and fills in your fine lines instantly. I wouldn't call this my miracle product to my problems around the eye area, but it does help provide the illusion that you are well rested. And if you do wear glasses/spectacles (like I do), it does help brighten the under eye area, giving you a much more polished look.

Yes! I am only wearing concealers for my base make up. No powder at all!

Granted you might think I have really good skin to start with, but let me show you... The hot mess I was before putting on the concealer...
A little concealer does wonders to your face!

 

Where to find?

Locally : An online blogshop carries it for $20 (link here)
US site: drugstore.com (direct link to product here). You will have to ship it back to you via 3rd party (such as vPost, Borderlinx etc).

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day and Chap Goh Meh!

First, I would like to wish all my friends a Happy Valentine's Day and to fellow Chinese friends, Happy Chap Goh Meh! Although this post is a day late, I am really sorry, my body is currently fighting a lymph node infection, but I would still like to see this post go up for a really good reason.

So traditionally, we (my husband and I) do not celebrate St. Valetine's Day. We are quite the traditionalists and found Valentine's Day overly commercialized. However, our kids.. because they are so exposed to the western culture, have a great idea on what its all about. 

On Wednesday, we received a card from our eldest girl.. It was so beautifully made and we were pretty touched by her gesture. That very night, she sat down and did another for her sister. Her sister was really happy! 

Then, on Valentine's Day, she wished me a Happy Valentine's Day while I was walking her to school. So we started chatting about Valentine's Day, then it hit me! She is so into the idea of Valentine's Day, that she didn't understand the meaning of Chap Goh Meh. I told her that it was also 元宵节, it's also Valentine's Day for the Chinese. She didn't seem really interested, and that made me really sad. That made me realized that I need to be much more proactive in introducing her and her siblings our own culture. 

So that evening, when my husband came home, HE got a surprised that I told him our yearly snub-Valentine's-day plans are off and we are eating at my in-laws to observe Chap Goh Meh. I hope in this year, our children will learn more about Chinese celebrations like 端午节 (Dragon Boat Festival) and 中秋节 (Mid-Autumn Festival) and perhaps incorporate it into our family life so that it is not viewed as something strange or alien. And for the next Chap Goh Meh, I am going to make them tangyuan to eat (instead of using fried cuttlefish balls as a substitute)!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Lemongrass Drink Recipe

Perhaps it was the haze, perhaps it was all the Chinese New Year goodies, perhaps the unhealthy diet I've been on.. BUT my throat has been killing me!

I know some people will say "oh you need to drink liang teh (cooling herbal tea)!" but the truth is, not everyone can drink it. If your body is considered "cold" like mine, it is best to avoid liang teh like a plague despite being heaty. I decided to douse the heat with lemongrass drink.

For those who are pregnant (*Ahem* you lah! Talking about you!), you can opt to drink this instead of the usual red date longan tea or rice tea during your confinement. It is a lot more palatable and much more thirst quenching.

All you need is
  • 4 - 6 stalks of lemongrass (cut off the ends and bruised)
  • 1 - 1.5 litres of water
  • Some honey to sweeten

Cut off the ends of the lemongrass, bruised it with the back of your knife or just simply snap it! Put it in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Then, let it simmer for 20 minutes at low heat. When done, remove the lemongrass stalks and add honey to sweeten. You can keep it in a thermos so you can have it warm all day long. Or you can chill it and have a refreshing drink! 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Happy Chinese New Year! 马年快乐!

新年快乐!
万事如意!
恭喜发财!
马年平安!


Happy Chinese New Year, folks! It was a really hectic/crazy/mad/busy (all the above) January. I was having major renovations works done to my recess area. It was unexpected but a great relief when the renovation permit finally went through. The works ended just in time for Chinese New Year. Thank God!

 

Let's do a quick recap on January...


It was back to school for the girls, while Nic starts playgroup at the nearby RC. Towards end of January, I was victim to the flu virus, which I subsequently spread to my trio. Nic recovered pretty quickly, but the other two girls are still coughing and having post nasal drip. *sigh* Sorry kiddos.
Nic in his playgroup uniform

IKEA and Daiso became my BFFs. I finally got my butt moving and started reorganizing my stuff. Managed to do some spring cleaning and decorating for the house. I did quite a bit of angbao lanterns just by watching YouTube tutorials. I put in more homely touches to my "sterile" environment (that's how my mum describes my place! :P ). I think I made *good* progress but I am no where near done.
One of my IKEA hacks!

There is no such thing as a foolproof plan to conquering renovation dust. It goes everywhere. Really. As long as there is a lobang (hole), it will go in! And the pain I had to go thru to remove the dust, its enough to turn me off renovations for a long long long time.  Let me remind myself - IT IS OVER!
Like my new gate?

 

I am hoping that February...

...will be a less hectic month for us all. I do hope to be more productive and get started on my to-do list. 


Tea, anyone?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Hello 2014!

So the new school year is here! With 3 kids, every school year gets crazier and crazier! With two kids having playgroup and kindy in the morning, while the other goes for afternoon session... Insane is the word to describe the situation.

Belle leaves home for kindy at 8 a.m., Nic starts playgroup at 9.30 a.m., Didi has some morning classes two days in the week, Nic ends playgroup at 11.30 a.m. with Belle ending her classes at 11.30 a.m. at another location. While Didi has to be in school by 12.10 p.m. So are you confused with their scheduling yet? Haha!

Well, let's talk about resolutions/goals this year.

On the parenting side... 
  1. I would like to scream/yell/scold less. In short, be much more patient with my trio. My mantra/prayer: see here
  2. I would like to spend a little more time "growing" my eldest girl. I hope she will blossom even more this year.
  3. Helping my middle child find her position in the family, instead of just screaming her head off all the time.
  4. Encouraging my third child to speak more. He has surprised us in the past few weeks, by showing us all his vocabulary. I am hoping to build on his first words even more.
Now on to the personal side.. (This is afterall NOT a parenting blog!)
  1. SHOP less. SAVE more
  2. Count my blessings everyday!
  3. Work on that exercise programme I've been thinking about
  4. Spend more time with my mother. Now that she's retired, I want to spend more time with her!
  5. Clean living attempt #x.
  6. Get started with the personal idea I have. *akan datang*
I hope this year even though may be filled with craziness, but I wish that it will also be filled with much love and happiness.