Monthly Archives: July 2014

Dylan’s Baby Dior Shoot

Jasmine: So we blogged about the wonderful pampering experience of being invited to Baby Dior’s opening at MBS. As always, the impeccable Dior team mailed us two prints upon hearing that I had given birth (instead of us going down to the store to get it), and emailed us more softcopies in the same day that I requested them. Here they are!

A shot of the handsome little boy and his new friend, Gabriel the Bear. This little white shirt is amazingly cut- I’m still thinking of it but if I had that kind of money, I’d sooner spend it on home reno than a shirt that Dylan will outgrow by next year.

Andrew: This whole outfit that Dylan is wearing probably costs close too $1000, more than any of Daddy or Mummy’s outfits. What a privileged boy he is – his Mum and Dad never got a photo-shoot in branded clothes ever. He looks so proud in this photo and his classic ‘soft-touch’ on the nose of the bear is perfectly captured! The shirt is so smartly folded up too. It was this shot that was developed for us.

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Jasmine: We also got in some nice family shots in the store. This first one most obviously shows my tummy.

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And one with Mona, the Grande Vendoir who secured our invite. The photographer asked me to move my bag but I told him I precisely wanted a photo with it. Heh.

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Jasmine: A couple more shots of happy, cute Dilly! These are totally going up on our family gallery wall!

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Emmeline’s Birth Story

Andrew: We wanted to combine this entry with the post on Gleneagles Staycation, but the post became too long and difficult to write coherently, hence we separated it. This was logical too, given that the birth story deserves a post on its own!

The labour process took a while as we waited gradually for Dear to enter into active labour. Gynea checked in a few times and we both had time to slip in a few naps here and there and watch some TV too. I will never forget that we were watching Wheel of Fortune before Emmy arrived, commenting how the puzzles were so ‘Americanized’ and also on how Pat Sajak and Vanna White never seemed to age. LOL. Soon enough, Dear entered active labour and the ‘pushing’ process began. With 4 hard and long pushes, Emmy arrived! It was surreal how fast the whole process was. Must have been all the naps that helped Dear gain all the strength to push – or perhaps the motivation that the nurses gave that she will get a diamond after pushing. *shudder*

Jasmine: I don’t ask for much, just the Dior Bagatelle ring:D

Personally, comparing Dylan’s birth and Emmeline’s birth, I no doubt prefer the experience of birthing Dylan. I felt very much more in control as I was able to stay at home and eat, shower and rest during the early stage of labour, going into hospital only when my contractions were five minutes apart and ready to enter active labour, which was why our whole experience in the birthing suite for Dylan took two hours from the point of entry to the delivery.

However, with Emmeline, we checked in and spent almost nine hours in early and active labour. The experience was quite immobilising as I was on epidural and could not walk but had to remain on my back- this is actually quite contrary to the natural rhythms of labour, where you can walk to relieve labour pains and rest when you need to. However, the good thing was that it was a natural birth that didn’t need further assistance- when the contractions started coming hard and fast (like every minute), the pushing only took twenty minutes and four pushes and our little Russian doll was out!

Andrew: The moment she arrived, our little girl was wrapped up completely, which has thus earned her the nickname of ‘Russian Doll’ or Dolly. She’s so cute!

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Mummy: My first thought was, she’s beautiful! My second thought was, she’s got Andrew’s lips but they look good on her! Pouty. Heh.

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Daddy comforting little girl – trying to examine if she has any moles, like Dilly!

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Emmy taking her first peek at the world, looking even more like a Russian doll!

Emmy @ NICU

Andrew: Emmy had to be put in the NICU for a while, because her breathing was a little ‘grunty’ and there were concerns about whether there was still water in her lungs.

However, it was really nothing to be worried about as our ped told us later that it was more that Emmy couldn’t be kept any longer in the delivery suite, but also couldn’t be moved to the nursery as her breathing hadn’t stabilised, so they put her in the NICU as a ‘lodger’.  Wow, this little girl is really getting the best treatment from birth eh!

Jasmine: With Dylan, we were able to initiate breastfeeding minutes after birth, which was a wonderful experience, as he was quiet and alert, and it made for a lovely hour of family bonding time before he had to be taken away and washed.

With Emmy, due to her breathing issues, we weren’t able to initiate breastfeeding for several hours, and she unfortunately had to be put in the NICU. Of course, I was pretty worried when I heard “NICU” and “lung problems”, especially since I was having severe afterbirth pains and couldn’t do much apart from intermittently whatsapp family/ friends to update them on Emmy’s condition, based on whatever I heard from Andrew, who went down to NICU to check on her, or so he said…

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Andrew: I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her and must have spent about 20 – 30 minutes at the NICU, taking photos of her. The nurses must have thought I was a little crazy, especially when I set the timer, so that I could take this shot:

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Well, it was more for Jasmine’s peace of mind as she had asked me to go to NICU to let her know how baby was doing…. so, my photo-craze is perfectly understandable!

Jasmine: I never expected Andrew to take a NICU selfie?! I really have unleashed a trigger-happy man.

Emmy arrives in our room!

Andrew: After her short stay in the NICU, Emmy finally arrived in our room all wrapped up and peaceful.

What a beautiful head of hair and such red, chubby cheeks!

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I had forgotten how delicate and light (!) a newborn was after carrying Dylan for the past few months. This little girl is light as a feather – I can carry her in one hand and she’ll just lie there peacefully and fall asleep, without squirming. Lovely!

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Jasmine: Do not be fooled by these serene little newborn expressions.

It’s only been one week in, but based on her crying alone, we can already tell that her personality is different from Dylan’s. Dylan’s hunger cries were very sad and he could be coaxed to wait for his milk, whereas Emmy is a feisty little thing, who cries so loudly when she is hungry that her double chin just quivers tremulously, making you feel amused and sorry for her at the same time. In that sense we think that Dylan takes after his father’s personality while Emmeline takes after mine. Which is a good thing for a girl… I think. Heh.

Visiting

Andrew: As it was a rather short stay (plus the time spent in the NICU meant Emmy could not have visitors the first day), our visitors were our immediate family members. Of course, we wanted Dylan to visit so we could spend time together as a family and not want him to feel left out. We heard he was really cranky the first day after he came to visit, so we’ll be spending more time with him, so that he won’t feel left out.

Jasmine: What helped was that we prepared a present from his baby sister to him, plus we and my family played with Dylan when they brought him, instead of cooing over Emmeline straightaway, so that Dylan wouldn’t feel neglected. In fact, Andrew and I also tried to fuss over Dilly first whenever he came to visit, instead of holding Emmeline, so that he would get his fair share of attention.

Andrew: Back to the hospital visit, he had lots of fun running around and eating my bread bun!

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Family Photos

Jasmine: Of course, this entry would not be complete without some family pictures!

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Our first full family portrait!

Jasmine: We’ve been teaching Dylan to use “soft touch” on his penguin and Chong Chong bear, in preparation for his meeting his sister for the first time. Here’s Dylan stroking his mei mei! He also loves to dig her ear and peer at her when I’m breastfeeding her. Of course, sometimes he still gets a bit excited and pokes her but I’m sure it’s not intentional. Heh.

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What a loving brother

Shots of our families:

Andrew’s side

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Jasmine’s side

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Andrew: To end off, we’d like to say a big thank you to Jasmine’s mum and siblings for taking care of Dylan while we were in the hospital. We could see that he was well taken care of and had a great time at Skang-rila, once again. Heh. In fact, if we have time, we might do another post of his staycation there.

Jasmine: One last thing, it really is easier the second time around. Though both were natural births, my recovery from Dylan’s birth was much longer and more painful, whereas with Emmeline, I was able to get up and potter around that same night after the epidural wore off (she was born at noon). I can’t say I’d wanna go through childbirth again but I am grateful that baby Emmeline was born safe, sound and healthy!

Gleneagles Staycation

Andrew: ‘Staycations’ seem to be the running theme lately, so we thought we’d use that theme for our time at Gleneagles, combining it as part of our birth story post! It’s easiest to organise this post chronologically.

Birthing Suite

Andrew: So our first “destination” was the birthing suite, where baby’s vital signs were monitored for a while. This was the bed that Dearie had, with unlimited supply of pillows to make her cosy and comfortable!

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Jasmine: The L-shaped pillow was a lifesaver. After giving birth, I asked if I could bring it with me to our room, but was declined. Heh.

Andrew: I got a very comfy recliner arm chair, which could be stretched out fully. I was so cosy in that blanket. Dearie insisted to take a shot of me in the blanket – yes, even just moments before giving birth, she was thinking about capturing key moments of the staycation.

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Nice bathrobe

And this was Emmy’s little ‘bed’ with a warmer to receive her when she first comes into the world!

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Andrew: So, to cut a long story short, it took 9 hours for Jasmine to reach active labour, but once she did, things accelerated quickly and ready to push. Once she started pushing, everything just happened so quickly and within 4 pushes, baby Emmy was out! It was like twenty minutes ago, we were watching Pat Sajack and Vanna White on ‘Wheel of Fortune’, trying to solve the puzzles before the participants, and the next minute, we are holding our daughter in our arms. 

Unlike Dylan’s birth where I was just kind of taken aback by what had happened, I was more in the moment this time and could really feel the joy of seeing my cute little girl and seized the chance to snap many shots of her first few minutes in this world.

[We’ll write more about this in our ‘birth story’ post. This post was getting way too long and Dearie heavily cut down my initial post, because she said I was trying to do too much in it and it needed heavy editing. ]

Our room

Jasmine: Ok, so this is the “staycation” part of the entry.

Andrew: After waiting for about 2 hours, Dear was transferred to the room where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. We kind of lucked out last year where they didn’t have any single-bedded rooms available, so they gave us a double-bedded room in place of that. Because of that, I had my own bed, but this time, I had to sleep on a sofa which was quite narrow and hard. Nonetheless, I made myself quite comfortable there in my little cosy corner, which had a good view of the balcony outside.

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The sides can be removed and bedlinen was put down to convert it into a bed every night. Also doubles as Daddy’s cosy corner for snuggling with Emmy.

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And the mandatory picture of the bed!

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Jasmine: Usually on staycation we take pictures when we first enter the room and everything is still neat. Obviously, I was too exhausted and bedridden and in afterbirth pain upon being wheeled to the ward, such that my first thought was: “Huh, I still have to climb off the trolley and onto the bed?” So we anyhow snapped a shot before we left.

Plus bonus shot of our newest addition to the family- Emmeline!

The bathroom

Andrew: Check out the full range of toiletries, including soap, shampoo and conditioner from Crabtree & Evelyn! Not too shabby for a hospital!

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Jasmine: Oh yes, and since no post of mine is complete without some “fashion” comments, I just wanted to say that the hospital gowns were actually quite comfortable and breastfeeding-friendly, with concealed slits as well as button-down shoulders. Here are the two, erm, styles, they have:

photo(35)Andrew: If you’re wondering what that ‘watch’ is that Jasmine is wearing, it’s actually a device that helps match the baby to the mum. Emmy had a tag too and when both tags came in close proximity, music came out of the tags. This was something they didn’t have last year – quite an advancement, I must say. However, the ironic thing was that half way through our stay, the nurses lost Emmy’s tag, so it was back to using Mum’s NRIC and name to match. So much for technology, huh! 

All day bites

Andrew: We were indeed treated to all-day bites as we had 5 meals a day with tea time and supper everyday. Here was our first tea-time snack – chicken pies with milo or…

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Vegetarian sandwiches (yuck!). I didn’t know that the sandwiches were vegetarian, if not I wouldn’t have chosen them. To their credit, they tasted incredibly healthy!

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Jasmine: Of course, we brought in some snacks of our own, including my then-craving, unfulfilled from the day before I went into labour, hotdogs (Charlene brought in at least 11 hotdogs for me!) and a must-have-  Lay’s chips! 

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And something I really looked forward to: eight treasures tea with a honey swizzle stick, served in pretty clear glass crockery!

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Extensive menus for our choosing, including Western, Asian, deli (mostly sandwiches). There was also a separate confinement menu which we could choose from. We had some dishes from the confinement menu the last time, which were decent:

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Some of our dinners:

Kenna cheated by the impressive-sounding “deli” menu. I thought I would get good quality bread with large servings of roast chicken. Didn’t expect little finger sandwiches made of Gardenia.

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This was what Andrew had:

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  Baked chicken with mozzarella cheese, potato, vegetable and spicy tomato sauce

This was infinitely better than my deli menu. Chicken was juicy and tender and the sauce was delicious!

For lunch the next day, we tried to mix it up with both their Chinese and Western menu. Andrew had:

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 Double boiled fish with ginger and soya beans soup; Steamed chicken with sesame, wolfberries, spinach and lotus root and steamed jasmine rice

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Braised beef cheek with wild mushroom, mashed potatoes and balsamic jus

The beef cheeks were quite tender as well. They came with mashed potato and French onion soup with bread and gruyere cheese. The Chinese menu was light and healthy!

And for dinner, we both had the same dish:

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French Onion soup; Steamed white fish, potatoes and steamed seasonal vegetables and marble cake

This was a light and healthy option; not filling enough for most guys, but sufficient for me!

And some samples of our breakfast choices!

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Chicken sausage, hash brown, grilled tomatoes and sunny-side up egg

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Soon Kueh
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French toast with peach compote

Welcome gift

Andrew: To prevent Dylan from feeling any sibling rivalry, we got him a welcome gift when he arrived, from his sister. It was a Melissa and Doug airport set.

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Granny and Ee Ee also bought him a gift – this new bag from Cotton On!

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Jasmine: Oh yeah, and for our welcome gift, we got a diaper bag with a nursing shawl, a receiving blanket, some Kodomo and Johnson’s baby toiletries (downgraded from Cherub Rubs last year eh).

Other amenities

Jasmine: Probably similar to other hospitals, there were free ParentCraft classes (newborn care), free consultations with lactation consultants, in-room discharge and billing procedures (for single wards). We attended the ParentCraft class the last round with Dilly, so we didn’t bother going this time, but it was quite useful and comprehensive, with a lot of useful info and tips packed into 1h15min, including bathing and dressing newborns. For those who’d rather not attend, you can access the Parent Craft channel on hospital TV.

Our room also came with balcony and a “garden view”:

The glass was extremely dark so we could see Dilly from the inside but he could not quite make us out. Ah well, I think he still had fun scooting around on the ledge!

Best of all, free limo service to transport us from hospital back home upon discharge! The last time we got a SUV. This time, this was our ride:

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Hospital Bag for Gleneagles

[Andrew: We wrote this entry earlier this week, not expecting to see baby girl this weekend, hence we can now add some comments retrospectively!]

Jasmine: We are usually advised to pack a hospital bag between 34-36 weeks, but I only just got around to doing it at almost 38 weeks!

We are fairly light packers plus we stayed at Gleneagles for Dylan’s birth, so we know roughly what to bring this time round. Most hospitals have maternity/ newborn packing lists online, so you can check those out to see what you need.

1. Toiletries for Mummy

Jasmine: Gleneagles provides basic shampoo, body soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, so I’m just bringing my skincare along, mostly chosen to deliver maximum moisture since I’ll be spending a few days in air-con.

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If you’ll also allow me to sneak in some quick beauty reviews:

  • Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum: my combi skin turned to dry skin this pregnancy and this serum helps to restore essential balance to the skin- minutes after application, dry patches are smoothed out! The Sulwhasoo website lists 100 ways to use this very versatile serum- I’ve tried it on stretch marks, on the eye area, for aromatherapy and facial massage. You can even use it as an overnight mask, or mixed with your BB cream/ foundation!
  • Hada Labo eye cream: the best and most moisturising eye cream I’ve had for only $22 at Sasa- skin is still plumped and smooth an hour after application
  • Shiseido Ibuki face cream
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate hand cream
  • Clarins Huile Tonic travel size
  • Stila cosmetic pouch which I bought from DFS 10 years ago and which goes travelling everywhere I go

2. Maternity clothing and other essentials

Jasmine: Postpartum recovery often involves serious blood loss, to the point of giddiness (for me), so I’m planning to just live in the hospital gowns to avoid loads of messy washing later on. Towels are also provided by the hospital, so I’ve only packed one black dress with nursing access e.g. snaps down the front to go home in.

Other things that you may like to pack include nursing bras, disposable undies (see blood loss point), maternity pads (so much thicker than the overnight sanitary pads, they’re more like mini foam mattresses). Yup, how fun and glamorous right.

Two other noteworthy things that made it to my hospital bag:

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I’m not going to go into detail, but google Medela’s Purelan and you’ll understand. It came in extremely handy the last time for  breastfeeding, and food-grade so that it need not be wiped off every time before baby latches on.

Also, my Belly Bandit from my previous pregnancy, which can be worn immediately after birth for back and tummy support! This is in bamboo fabric, so unlike the original version, it’s comfortable enough to wear to sleep. I remember that my previous time in hospital, I was in alot of pain and ended up clutching my stomach alot just to painfully, gingerly get up from bed. Hopefully this helps!

3. Logistical and electrical necessities

This would include camera, phones, chargers and laptop (for blogging heh). [Andrew: Or updating on Facebook :)]

4. Presents from baby sister to Dylan!

Jasmine: We came across a helpful tip to present the older sibling with gifts from the newborn to help minimise any sibling rivalry. Now that Dylan is in an imitation stage, my gift to Dylan was a doll sling and matching cloth diapers for him to carry or change his bear if he sees me doing the same with his baby sister.

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Andrew’s gift to Dylan is this Melissa & Doug airplane carrier that he scored for just SGD20 at a sale at his workplace!

Andrew: When Dylan first arrived, we passed him his present from his sister and he excitedly started playing with it. Yay! Hopefully that alleviated some of his feelings of sibling rivalry.

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On a side-note, am quite amazed at the number of ways this toy can be played with. The box of the toy actually contains a list of extension activities, most of which would require Dylan to be older to really understand though:

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  5. Going-home outfit for baby girl

Jasmine: When we referred to the hospital packlist during Dylan’s birth, we didn’t bring any clothes, and were quite surprised when the nurses asked us what we’d like to change him onto upon our discharge! In fact, he would almost have had nothing to wear (except the swaddle cloth) if a nurse hadn’t given us one of the little shirts that they let newborns wear in the nursery.

This time, we’re better prepared, so we’ve got an Aden + Anais white swaddle, a rosebud dress and Seed romper (we will choose one, depending how big baby girl is), and the teeniest mittens and socks handed down from my Ee Zhai. It’s hard to find newborn mittens that fit such tiny wrists (think Ee Zhai found hers at Pumpkin Patch), and I remember Dilly scratching himself lots in the hospital, so this I think will be very, very useful! In fact, I’ve decided to bring both pairs, just to allow for a change!

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Andrew: Seed maternity romper brings back lots of memories as it was the first piece of baby clothing we bought in transit on our way back from Tasmania!

The mittens and socks proved to be very useful as baby girl kept sneezing a lot, so we put them on to keep her warm (and cute)!

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Jasmine: The one thing we’re missing is a hat, but that’s no biggie as the hospital provides them, and they make a wonderful, sentimental souvenir- I’ve still got Dylan’s hospital hat in a box 😀

No need for diapers either, as the hospital provides a pack for use during the stay, which you can bring home. It’s Johnson’s, which I don’t particularly like, but if baby girl can wear that with no skin issues, I don’t complain about free stuff. Heh.

All set! Now, if only baby girl will come out…. (Andrew: Haha, well, your wish was granted!)

A Birthday Spent with Loved Ones

Andrew: Okay, I promise this is the last birthday post – given that there have been 3 posts on my birthday within the last week. Heh. Anyway, we intended for my birthday itself to be a more quiet day in case Jas gave birth. In fact, I was hoping little baby girl would be born on my birthday so we can celebrate two birthdays together in future and Jas would have to pay for it – since you can’t possibly make the birthday boy pay for his celebration right? 🙂

Jasmine: Moot point. I’m still around, as pregnant as ever.

Andrew: Anyway, in spite of it being a more quiet day, it was still a very meaningful day spent with those dear to me – my 3 ‘families’ – Jas and Dylan; my church family and my family (mum, brother and relatives)! This post will be divided, as such.

1. Jas and Dylan (actually, mostly Dylan)

Sunday mornings are usually time with my son, as it is my helper’s off-day and Jas is well, resting. Sometimes I bring him to the playground, or to NEX for Toastbox while he has his raisin bread.

Well, since it was my birthday, decided to treat myself to a dim sum breakfast at the Fortunate Restaurant outlet at the Food Republic food court. Honestly, it was my first time trying it, but I had always noticed the queue being very long.

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Shark fin dumping, siu mai, chee cheong fun with char siew and bo luo bao (From top left, to bottom right)

It was surprisingly quite good – especially the bo luo bao, which was so soft and pillowy with tasty, char siew filling! One of the best I’ve tried in a while. Chee cheong fun was good too – very light with melt-in-your mouth texture.

After breakfast, it was back to the usual Sunday routine with putting Dylan down for his nap, buying back lunch, then doing a bit of cleaning up after lunch before heading down to church. Thankfully, I had a little helper for the cleaning up:

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Jas was resting most of the time, preparing for little girl’s arrival. 🙂

Jasmine: Have been seriously wiped out by enduring three months of contractions. Even changing positions or stretching my legs can trigger a contraction. We managed to work in a staycation for D’s birthday last week, so on his actual birthday, I tried to accompany him to things he would like doing, like going to cell and his family’s for dinner. I know it wasn’t a big deal but I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the night. Sorry D.

2. Church Family

Andrew: As we headed down to church, I didn’t know my boys had planned a little celebration for me with a cake and an ‘e-candle’! We always struggle with lighting candles at our cell venue, because it’s so windy, so one of my cell-boys found an interesting phone app which had a blow-able candle – the candle would go ‘off’ when you blew into the speaker! Genius!

We didn’t have a knife, so we improvised and used Dylan’s baby fork:

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Dilly sees these people regularly enough that they have also become like ‘family’ to him. He usually takes a while to warm up, but after about 10- 15 minutes, he’ll be running all around and playing with everyone. Here, he’s being entertained endlessly by Yihan’s water-bottle cap .

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Cute, glum face

The boys also got us two piggy-banks – which they had won at the Touch Young Arrows funfair last week using the coupons I had bought – supposedly to help Dylan and little girl with financial planning. How thoughtful and long-sighted of them. Heh.

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3. With my family

After church, we headed to my mum’s place for dinner, where my sister-in-law had prepared a sumptuous Western spread, with some ingredients all the way from Melbourne!

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Baked Portobello Mushrooms

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Roast Chicken with potatoes, carrots and herbs

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Baked fish with garlic

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Pasta with pesto (pesto was freshly made!)

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Pizza with ham and rocket

It was a meal of my favourites, so besides all the above, there was lotus root soup and kou rou bao (fatty pork with mantou)!

Dylan also had a feast. Besides his porridge, he had lots of spaghetti and a fruit platter –

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Little boy amused everyone with all his cute antics, like banging his feet non-stop on the sink as I washed him up after his dinner, and learning how to kick a ball around.

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It was great to see him so comfortable in my mum’s place, just roaming around and exploring the cabinets, wall decals, the mirrors and the other rooms!

Ended off the celebration with a small black forest cake!

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What a happy, meaningful birthday spent with my loved ones!

Bali Birthday! (2013)

Andrew: For my birthday last year, Dearie planned a getaway to Bali which was just pure pampering – a beautiful villa, a refreshing massage, great restaurants and shopping (where I finally found a suitable casual bag for myself)! With her usual trip-planning finesse, Dearie had meticulously researched all the good restaurants and possible things we could do. It was also our first time away from Baby D, as my mother-in-law helped us take him. (Jasmine: Thanks alot Mum!!)

This being our first time in Bali, we were actually quite surprised at how easy it was to get around and how much there was to do, in terms of dining and shopping. We didn’t actually do any touristy-stuff, but did most of what we would usually do in Singapore – which was great too! 

Here are some highlights from this wonderful getaway:

1. Great Restaurants

Breeze at The Semaya

Andrew: I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most romantic restaurant I’ve ever been to – I really went WOW when we arrived at the restaurant.

IMG_4331Beautiful Dear with our celery amuse bouche

Jasmine: This was the top-rated restaurant in Seminyak and I could totally see why. The path leading to the restaurant was stunning too, lit dimly by candles floating on long narrow pools. When we reached the restaurant, we were given seats right by the beach. It was the very definition of romantic, dining by the waves under hurricane lamps.

Andrew: There was something just so calming about dining by the sea, with the sound of the waves gently crashing and the sea breeze gently blowing. We even had to use reading lamps to peruse the menu. It was amazing. We were so hungry by the time we got there, so we didn’t take many photos and since it was dark, the photographs are too blur, but we can guarantee you that they certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of taste! The less blurred photographs are below. 

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Bread, with butter & chives

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Roasted Pumpkin Soup, crispy bacon

The pumpkin soup was rich and hearty – each scoop was flavourful and the cheese souffle was the perfect texture, absorbing and complement the flavours of the soup.

As for our main courses, we wanted to try a mix of their Western and their Asian dishes so Jasmine had the pork belly and I had the duck curry (bebek menyatnyat). Both were good! 

Sardine

Jasmine: Even after a year, I’d still say that this was my favourite restaurant in a long while, period.  The lunchtime atmosphere was buzzing, and the view of rice paddies drenched in water was not only serene but provided a respite from the busy-ness of the lunch crowd, as you could walk into the rice paddies from the restaurant.

Sardine, as its name implies, specialises in fish, and I relished the freshness of all the dishes. The drinks were refreshing and good for countering the heat too!

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Andrew: I ordered coconut water, and they put the coconut water in one cup and the ice and lemon in another cup, so that you could just transfer it over when you wanted to drink it and not let the coconut water get diluted! How thoughtful!

These were the dishes we had there, all of which were excellent: 

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 Home Cured Salmon on Grilled Flatbread, Lemon Aioli, Arugula Salad

Andrew: As I don’t even like salmon in any form except for sashimi, I was very pleasantly surprised that I loved this dish so much. The flavours balanced off so delicately and the whole dish tasted so light and refreshing. Great appetizer to start off the meal!

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Salad Nicoise, Fresh Yellow Fin Tuna, Mix Greens, Tomato, Olives, Green Beans, Anchovies & Quail Eggs, Red Wine-Herb Vinaigrette (what a long dish name)

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Grilled Whole Fish “Jimbaran Style” with Sambal Matah Organic White Rice & Bedugul Vegetables

Andrew: If there’s one thing that characterises the food here, it’s the freshness and lightness of it. The flavours are not intense, but  all the flavours are well thought-out, playing off each other in a well-balanced manner, which is light on the palate. The grilled fish was done just right, with the fish moist and tasty with natural flavour – it went perfectly with the rice on its own, the sambal added a nice sourness and spice! Loved it all.

After our lunch, we took a little jaunt around the rice padis and even though the sun was hot, there was a nice breeze as well. I could imagine us just spending a whole afternoon here, chilling out and chatting 🙂

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2. Wonderful Villa!

Jasmine: Our hotel, Seiryu Villas, was quite special. 5 min drive from the main shopping stretch, yet so tucked away and exclusive that taxi drivers usually got lost, giving me a heart attack one night as the driver had us circling for 20 min and could not call the hotel because, as we later found, he was illiterate 😦

The Japanese-Balinese decor was striking and graphic. The open space of the zen garden at reception gave way to a completely dark passageway lined with heavy wooden doors, that seemed to hint that we were being transported to our own private hideout. Then the space opened up again, as we opened the doors to a lush Balinese garden with a pool, that would be our villa and home for the next two nights.

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My favourite feature of the villa was that you could walk right into the pool from the bathroom or vice versa, which makes perfect sense since people usually shower right after a swim, and who needs those silly standalone showers by the pool, anyway? The pool was framed at one end by the bathroom and at the other end by a pavilion which was perfect for breakfast or lounging.

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Some of the more traditionally Balinese aspects of the villa, including the stone and wood finishings in the toilets:

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And as mentioned previously, we could walk right out from the bathroom to our plunge pool!

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Had breakfast at this pavilion on our last morning too!

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And the Balinese entryway and garden!

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Andrew: We didn’t take any shots of the room in the morning, but you can imagine how it’d be like too. I spent the morning swimming in the pool and just chilling out in the pavilion reading.

What we forgot to photograph as well was the breakfast which was served in the kitchen in this villa itself. It’s almost like having your own private butler service, where they come in, lay out the table and prepare hot drinks for you. It was quite a feast, really! They also prepared a birthday cake for me, which was your usual chocolate cake – nothing fantastic, but a sweet gesture nonetheless.

3. Great shopping!

Jasmine: Shopping in Seminyak was lots of fun. I had feared that it would be touristy and overpriced, but there were many independent Indonesian and European (living in Bali) boutiques, and I managed to buy 3 or 4 dresses. The prices were not cheap (think about SGD$60 a dress) but the level of detail in the beading justified those price tags as such embellishment would easily cost twice as much in Singapore. Just driving along the shopping stretch was like window-shopping in itself, as all the storefronts were beautifully lit and the collections appealingly presented.

Seminyak shopping was more upscale and sophisticated, whereas Ubud shopping showcased Balinese artistry and craftsmanship for prices you can haggle down in the markets. I love both places and can’t wait to go back to Bali a third time!

Andrew: Managed to get myself a casual sling bag here, which I had been looking for for ages – so I’d say the shopping was fruitful enough.

Thanks Dear for planning yet another wonderful birthday!

House Tour: A Ten-Minute Laundry Area Makeover

Jasmine: I have been putting off re-organising our laundry area for months. It’s kinda always been a source of embarrassment to me, since unlike other areas that you can just shut off, it’s right there in the open of the kitchen.

Thankfully, when I was at work, our trusty contractor Mr Poh came and helped us fix an Ikea shelf (thank Mum for overseeing!), so all I had to do today was shove things into these woven Daiso baskets, which again, I’d been holding on to for ages. (Andrew: Our contractor has been really helpful – dropping by now and then to help us, I mean Dearie, with all her little makeover projects, saving me the trouble of having to do any drilling or fixing of furniture.)

This is the neatened-up condition- not perfect, but better than before:

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Mr Poh also helped install these flip-up hooks from Ikea. They fold up to streamline visual clutter when not in use…

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And fold down if we need to hang some clothes, laundry bags etc…

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The before condition (only one shelf, un-coordinated and therefore unsightly open storage):

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And after:

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I really like how deep the Daiso baskets are as they help conceal all the unattractive laundry paraphernalia, yet keep everything within easy reach. I only wish they had more substantial bases for the heavy bottles I’ve put in there.

Check out the before condition of the other side of the laundry area:

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Mess, mess, mess. Sigh. We actually made this matching faux marble laminate to store our baby bathtubs, pails and stool, but for some reason, other things keep accumulating on the countertop, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Once we installed the extra shelf, all the soap bottles and bath toys could be contained in the Daiso baskets on the other side! Even the wet laundry and dishcloths hanging off our window grills can now be hung from hangers on the flip-up hooks…

But it looked a little too spartan, even with the fake orchid plant, which I just shifted over from the library dining room…

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So I tacked up a Paris map that Dear bought for me during our dating days with some washi tape. Dear is already not a fan of it, but I’m gonna just live with it there for a few days to see how I like it. If I like it, I may consider a more permanent way of framing it which would also protect it better from the afternoon sun.

Andrew: What I’m not a fan is the way it’s pasted/ ‘bandaged’ up and how the map looks so crumpled – but I have no objections to it being there.

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Best part is, this mini-makeover took 10 minutes and cost nothing, as we already had everything!

Sources:

Faux marble custom cabinet: Maple Construction

Paris map: Books Actually

Shelves, flip-up hooks, fake orchid and white vase: Ikea

Woven baskets (turquoise): Daiso

Woven basket (rattan): Bali

Laundry bag: King & King Wong

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

Mummy: I was really inspired after reading this article to bring Dylan to experience nature more after reading this article about the benefits it has on children. Dylan can get abit restless being cooped up at home all day, especially when the adults are doing their own thing, so it’s quite a change to see how quiet, engaged and independent he was at Jacob Ballas. Being outdoors provided different sensory experiences for Dylan that can never be replicated in an indoor playgym- although some of the built play structures were more suitable for older kids, I could see how the natural environment encouraged him to hone his vestibular sense (sense of balance). Dylan walked gingerly to hear the crunch of gravel underfoot, smelt pandan leaves and touched mini-banana plants, and even tried balancing on a fallen tree trunk with Daddy’s help. Who knows, I may even try some nature-related extension activities with him at home when I go on maternity leave!

Andrew: I must say we are really quite blessed in Singapore to have so many places to bring children too, especially outdoor spaces! I’m a big fan of outdoor spaces and activities, whereas Dearie enjoys more indoor spaces (malls!). However, for the sake of Dylan, she’s been more willing to go outdoors!

So, we took a little trip down to the Children’s Garden. Granted, most of the areas there are more suited for kids 3 and above, but Dylan had fun nonetheless, just being out in the open! We put him down and he just kept running around and exploring on his own. We’ll let him relate his experience.

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Dylan: I remember Mummy and Daddy had wanted to bring me here when I was still in Mummy’s womb, but the people there didn’t allow them in because I wasn’t seen as being a ‘kid’ then…. Hmph, so strict! Technically I was still a kid, though stuck in Mummy. I could sense Mummy’s boiling anger then beneath her deep blue evening gown… Must have made her ‘glow’ more during the photo-shoot later though! Heh.

Anyway, we finally made our way here after Mummy pestered Daddy to go. Our first stop was the treehouse! Faster, mummy!

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This treehouse was obviously for older kids and there were many of them running up and down, sliding down non-stop. Mummy and Daddy just love to stretch me, exposing me to activities that are above my ‘level’ – in more ways than one…   

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Mummy, I want to go to the slide… 

There were these little cute tree stumps at the base of the tree-house, which were just the right height for me! Daddy, can I have one of this chairs in our home? After all, we already have a bar-counter that looks like it was taken from here too, made of rotten wood?

(Andrew: Actually Dylan, that bar-counter is extremely expensive and the wood had to be varnished specially to preserve it in that ‘rotten’ state.

Jasmine: Don’t exaggerate Daddy! That table was a real steel and it’s ‘mango wood’ from Indonesia, which is sustainable.)

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Okay Daddy, I have made my selection. I like the design of THAT chair… Take it for me!

Daddy was too weak to lift those chairs up and bring them home. Boo! Instead, we went to these huge, scary mushrooms behind the tree-house! Are these the truffles that Mummy loves so much in her pasta? 

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We went to the potting garden, but it was closed…. Daddy wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t want to, so I just ran off to the gravel pit in front!

Which was my favourite place in the whole park 🙂

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Mummy and Daddy were bewildered that of all the cool treehouses and play areas, my favourite was this bare, empty gravel pit. I guess I’m just a simple little man 🙂

Stomp stomp stomp… Love the feel of these rocks under my feet. Let’s have some of these at home! In fact, I heard Mummy telling Daddy she wants to convert our balcony to a ‘gravel pit’, since we still haven’t found a use for it. There was quite a long silence after that…. 

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Loved playing with these dye-ing plants too…. There was a nice fragrance of pandan all around.  I spent such a long time there. Mummy and Daddy kept trying to get me to move on, but I refused.

They brought me to the log nearby to use as a balancing beam, but again, that was too high level for me….

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I want to go back to the gravel pit… Let me go!

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There were many planes flying over that day. Granny told me to cover my ears whenever I heard those sounds.

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Mummy wanted to take a short break in this hut (she wanted to take breaks everywhere, actually), but I just wanted to run out! This was a better balancing beam for me. After this hut, I ran all the way to the swinging suspension bridge….

Daddy kept rocking the bridge cos he was so heavy… I wanted to run away from him!

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Stop holding me back Daddy!

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Go ahead of me Daddy. I want the bridge all to myself!

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After the bridge, we went over to the cave and waterfall! Daddy tried to relive his teacher days by telling me that it was a waterfall – DUH?… it’s water that’s falling? No wonder Daddy’s an English teacher. 

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Bored by Daddy’s ‘lesson’, I ventured into the cave on my own to explore, which was way more fun! 

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And Mummy was totally off-topic. She was going on about how the flooring would make nice toilet tiles. No wonder Daddy had to go into his man-cave as u will see later..

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I was so attracted to the water… Why can’t we have a shower like this in our home?

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Below’s a pic of Daddy again, sitting down trying to teach me about the ‘man cave’… Something about how every man needs to have his own space from time to time.

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Well I could relate. I needed my own space too, away from my parents and their camera, so on to the highlight of my trip – baby bananas!

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I could easily eat 10 of these!

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Oh… the plane sound again!

Next up, we went to the maze! Honestly, this was the one area I could have really played in, but Daddy was too warm, so all we did was…

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… Take a photo there. Didn’t Daddy read all those articles Mummy sent him about the importance of free play? (Psst.. scroll all the way up, the article up there is Mummy’s favourite)

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SO, we didn’t get to play in the maze, but went on to the sand pit with a see-saw that was way too big for me (and too small for Daddy). 

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And this musical play area with various percussion-like objects…

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I heard Mummy mumbling about the objective of the trip being nature exploration.. But really, what I liked most was being able to walk by myself…

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And run!

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Had to take the chance to run ‘coz I’ve been overhearing whispering about getting me a baby leash for shopping malls as I run too fast now *doe eyes* that’s baby cruelty!

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Dylan: That ends my first trip to the Jacob Ballas Garden. When my baby sister is born, I’m gonna bring her here and introduce her to the awesome gravel pit.

Dylan’s Staycation at Skang-rila

Andrew: While Mummy and Daddy were away staycationing at the Quincy, Dilly was also having his own little staycation at Skang-rila Resorts. Shall let him relate his experience 🙂

Dilly: Mummy and Daddy always try out different hotels for their staycation, but I have only been to one place and it’s my top choice – Skang-rila Resorts, SK for Sengkang, and named after its giant mascot, the Rila-kumma, which I love so much!

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My Daddy is freaked out by this huge monster of a soft toy, but I love it so much… The soft toys in my home can’t compare – there’s only one pathetic little teddy bear which is so hard and uncuddly, even after I’ve thrown it on the floor endless times.

Skang-rila is my top choice because of its location (5 minutes walk from the shopping mall or playground), food (yes, just like my Daddy) and the range of activities over the weekend:

  • Full range of play activities from outdoor playgym, pull-toy extravaganza and other sensory activities;
  • All day drinks and snacks from Four Leaves (best bakery ever – even better than Dean and Deluca snacks that Daddy and Mummy had which were hard and dry – or so I heard);
  • Spacious rooms with lots of running space
  • All meals fully provided for, complete with personalised feeding and cleaning up services;
  • Full day photo shoot (provided by Ee2 Mobile-Photography Services) from start till end
  • Welcome gift, of my own selection!

With all these activities, what’s there not to be happy about! I’m a happy baby, especially when I get to try out spa treatments like my Mummy!

Hmm, isn’t it a bit inappropriate to be photographing me without my clothes! This is a family friendly blog here.

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After lunch, it was playground time! Even had my personal escorts – 3 of them!

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Doe eyes

Granny and Ee Ee patiently escorted me over…. Hey Ee2, isn’t this just below your house, I mean, hotel? Why you dress so nice?

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My body-guards, side by side 🙂

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This playground beats the one at my place! Nobody else is around…

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This whole playground is mine!

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Ooh… let me make my way to the other side to the slide – on my own! Daddy always never lets me go on my own, because he’s so worried for me…

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Yes yes yes… I’m getting closer to the slide… I can’t wait to go down!

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Yay I got there! Oh noooo Uncle YZ… Why are you holding me back? I wanna go down on my own! Let me go again!

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Bring me back to the slide again! Stop taking photos!

So after playground time, I went back to have the all day bites (just milk and raisin bread) and take a nap. This is the life!

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Wow – this photographer is really committed. Even photographing me in my sleep! Oh, by the way, don’t I look like an angel here?

After waking up, it was time to go exploring again! This time to the mall to buy a welcome gift!

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Met another friend at the mall, a fellow baby… but she was rather quiet, and didn’t move much. Her eyes were so big, she was kinda scary…

Granny ended up buying for me a truck, which was converted into a pull-toy! Now, why can’t I get an actual pull-toy instead of all these improvised pull devices… First, Mummy used Daddy’s belt on my truck which kept collapsing. Then we used our tape measure at home and now, raffia string… Wow, things just keep going down, don’t they? (Andrew: Dilly, please be appreciate of what you have!) Oh okay…. of course I am Daddy (you cheapo – by the way, I heard Melissa & Doug pull-toys are really good, I have them on my Amazon wish-list. Thanks!).

Anyway, in case anyone accuses me of being picky, I LOVED my new toy! Kept pulling it all around Granny’s place, which was so spacious and baby-friendly…

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And as you know, we brought almost half of my house over with me, so along with me came my favourite book – which Uncle YZ read with me. By the way, that little Panda you see there is kinda freaky but intelligent…. it copies exactly what I say, but in a higher pitch that sounds like Mummy!

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After a very eventful Day 1, I was all tired out and went to bed after a sumptuous supper of my favourite milk…. Life is good!

Just to add that I not only got porridge for dinner, but my favourite corn too, which was actually from Ee Ee’s dinner! I get away anything because I am so cute 🙂

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Day 2

Had a good sleep and woke up well-rested the next day…

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This is not a good just out-of-bed look of mine then started off with some quiet time….

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So Daddy woke up at 6 a.m. to sit by the pool to have some quiet time during his staycation. Here am I, having a pensive moment at 11 a.m. – holding my pull-toy and staring out at the grass patch below. Hmmm, fascinating….

After my lunch, there was a whole line up of activities for me!

1. Sensory Play with Paper Stars

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2. Make-Believe Play – bottle becoming chew-toy and telephone!

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Hello Mummy and Daddy, when are you all coming over? (Don’t come back too soon, I’m having too much fun.)

3. Musical Dinosaur!

This dinosaur, which used to be with me at home, but has since moved over to Skang-rila, much like many of my other toys, by request of Granny…

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4. Random photo-taking of my handsome face 

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5. And back to my pull-toy!

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Trying to transfer the ‘smell’ of my smelly penguin over to another penguin…

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Here’s even a collage of all my activities!

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After the 5 exciting activities above, I heard that Mummy and Daddy were arriving soon…. so I thought I’d be on my best behaviour and help with the housework before they arrive!

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Went down for my nap before they arrived and Daddy rudely awakened me from my nap… so I was very moody until they brought me out for dinner!

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Daddy walked so fast I had to chase after him….

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Wait for me, Daddy!

It was hands-down one of the best staycations ever! I love Skang-rila! A big huge for my favourite Rila before I go!

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[Afternote: Dilly really enjoyed this ‘staycation’ of his. As I was doing up this blog-entry, he kept staring at the computer, looking at the photographs and smiling or laughing. We are really thankful for family members who enjoy playing with him so much, so that Jas and I can go have a relaxing break too!]

Andrew’s Birthday Celebration

Andrew: Celebrated my birthday early this year as Dear is expected to pop any time soon. As always, it’s a combination of staycation, food and shopping and this post shall be divided as such.

1. The Staycation @ Quincy Hotel

Andrew: We selected Quincy this time, for its location (5 minutes walk from Paragon or Far East Plaza) and range of activities over the weekend:

  • Art Jamming at 3pm
  • Movie under the Stars
  • All day drinks, snacks and Dean & Deluca pastries/cakes (note that it is advertised as “all day bites from Dean & Deluca”, which is not entirely accurate- only some items like the teas and cakes are from Dean & Deluca)
  • cocktails with canapes from 6-8.30pm
  • breakfast
  • entry for 2 to Butter Factory (hahaha)

Jasmine: Although the amenities sounded really impressive, the hotel and service were only adequate at best- we’ll be highlighting some lapses and AFIs (sorry for geekiness) if you read on.

Andrew: We didn’t know that we could only sign up for the activities if we were on the Qool weekend package. However, given Dearie’s condition, I don’t think we’d be up for all the activities. The Art Jamming was done outdoors at 3 p.m. and I’m sure Dear would have complained about the heat and the Movie Under the Stars was actually done in their pool area, with sofas and some couples sitting in floats on the pool watching the movie. Dear would have been very uncomfortable on that float! Heh. We planned our own itinerary and had a really great time!

Our Room  

We got a Deluxe Studio room, which had a decent view overlooking Orchard Road. We had stayed at smaller rooms before, like at ParkRoyal@Pickering (Jasmine: actually we got a free upgrade to the suite, dear, but it may have felt smaller coz the bedroom and living room could be sectioned off), but somehow this room lacked that cosy feel, which we felt the ParkRoyal room had, which really made you just want to hang out in the room and chill out for the whole day.

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Jasmine: The bathroom- again, only ok by my standards- lacked the luxury finishings and double sink that I expect from a really good hotel.

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Jasmine: However, the bathroom did redeem itself somewhat by offering Molton Brown toiletries- the only other hotel I’ve seen offering Molton Brown is Fullerton Bay, albeit packaged even more classily there.

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Minibar and mini pantry.

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Andrew: Free snacks in the room, replenished daily. Dear, of course, seized the packet of Lays and finished it even before I knew it!

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Jasmine: The mini fridge also held several cans of soft drinks and mineral water which were free for the taking! Never made sense to me to charge exorbitant prices for basic snacks in hotel fridges which you can get at nearby supermarkets for a fraction of the price. So glad Quincy at least got this right!

On another note, I’m kinda tempted to put a bar fridge in my bedroom, and stock it with cold water, midnight snacks and icepacks!

Tea Time Snacks

Andrew: After taking some photos around the room, we headed down immediately for the tea-time snacks!

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Tea time snacks included free flow soft serve ice-cream with toppings, juices and canned drinks,hot drinks, dried fruits and nuts as well as pastries from Dean and Deluca. Honestly, we felt the Dean and Deluca bites were over-hyped. The chocolate-pecan pastry I had was rather dry, but the Lemon Pound Cake was good – cake was moist and each bite was full of lemon zest! I didn’t expect to like it, but I eventually finished off Dearie’s slice!

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The free flow soft serve was something that would definitely have been a hit with kids! However, there weren’t that many kids at this hotel – it’s definitely built itself more of a niche with couples. Nonetheless, Dear had a lot of fun making her own ice cream concoction below:

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Andrew: After our tea time snacks, we took a little stroll around the hotel and Dear was quite intrigued by these  ‘busts’ around the toilet.

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We also went upstairs to take a sneak peek at the Art Jamming classes through the gym window! They have quite a well fitted out gym – decent for such a small size and this floor is also where they have their infinity pool.

The gym and pool are open 24 hours, so it’s a real nice place to chill out. I went to the pool at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday just to have my quiet time and it was really serene and peaceful, lying on the very cosy benches, looking out at the skyline slowly turn bright as dawn broke. Had a real nice swim after that too.

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Evening Cocktails and Canapes

Andrew: Quincy is arguably one of the most blogged about hotels we’ve stayed it – there were pages upon pages of Google search results when we did our search and most had quite mixed reviews of the dinner. Food was decent, spread was good, but not stellar – so we went out for our own dinner (and shopping) which we will talk more about later!

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Came back around 7.45p.m. just for some post dinner snacking and was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the food. What was good was that they kept the selection of hot dishes small, but because of that, the dishes were replenished very often, hence you could easily get a freshly cooked batch of food every 10-15 min. We sat there for about 20 – 30 minutes and within that span, we had freshly cooked penne, Vietnamese Chicken fried rice and mussels in cream sauce! I quite liked the Vietnamese Chicken fried rice and had about 3 servings of it (yes, even after I had my dinner) – mushrooms were juicy and tasty, chicken chunks moist and well seasoned!

There was also a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and desserts.

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Along with our dinner, we each got a selection of a cocktail/mocktail. I had a Singapore Sling and Dear had a Qool Breeze mocktail!IMG_6011

As a nice touch, they had this bowl of chocolates right next to their main entrance, with a cute caption ‘There’s Always Room for Chocolates’ and free flow of mini Mars bars! Looks like free food is the theme of this restaurant and certainly a way to win guests over and keep them in the hotel. (Jasmine: The all-day bites are a good way to distinguish them from their competitors in the same price range, as it’s for all guests at Quincy, whereas you would have to pay extra for club privileges at other hotels to enjoy free flow snacks.)

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The breakfast spread

Breakfast spread was the usual continental spread with pasta (yes, it appears quite often in their menu, because Modestos is just next door, part of Elizabeth Hotel), scrambled eggs, chicken ragout, spring roll,  sausages and bacon.

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Along with the hot food, there was a spread of freshly cut fruits, yoghurts, nuts and dried fruits as well as juices, cheeses and breads! I have to say, I really really liked the bread they served!

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Specifically, I loved the raisin and orange peel loaf that you see on the top of the picture below. I put one slice through the toaster, tore of a bit and ate it and immediately, I was won over. The texture was so light and crispy, and the bread so fragrant and flavourful – went great with cream cheese or even on its own. I had 4 to 5 slices of that. (Think Dear and I wiped out about half of that loaf on our own). I asked the waiter where they got their breads from and they couldn’t answer me – I shall have to hunt down this loaf.

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This is Dear’s platter below! Didn’t get to take a picture of mine, because I was too busy eating.

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An area that we felt could be improved about Quincy was the service. It was adequate, but it didn’t have that extra mile that great hotels have, which I thought was a pity and not something that require much more ‘investment’ in terms of money (perhaps though, in the form of training). We would have appreciated if the waiter or manager could have helped us find out where the bread was sourced from, given that we had given it a positive review. That would have scored them some points! Also, we only realised later that we could order eggs freshly cooked from the kitchen, either sunny-side up or an omelette, but this was not highlighted to us.

When we had to shift table as it was too warm for Dear, the wait-staff didn’t come along to help us move our stuff, even though they were standing by and evidently quite available. When I was swimming, the hotel staff asked me if I would like them to remove the floats from the pool. Honestly, it didn’t bother me, but since they offered, I said okay. However, nobody came to remove them in the 1 hour that I was there. It’s not that we needed such pampering or attentive treatment, but it would have added to the experience. Which is why I said the service was adequate, but didn’t have that ‘extra mile’.

[Plus points for service recovery – they sent us an email today to ask for feedback and I pointed them to our blog entry. The Hotel Manager, Christina,  immediately responded to share that they were acting on our feedback and also, that the bread came from Swiss Treats! I even asked specifically which loaf was it that I liked so much and she told me it was Traditional French Brioche with Fruits. Shall go hunt that down at NEX!]

Sunday Afternoon Bites 

Andrew: Oh, and what I didn’t mention earlier was that our offer came with a late check-out at 4 p.m. – which gave us another opportunity to enjoy their afternoon bites. Even though we had a lunch booking at Gordon’s Grill, we just had to eat a bit of what they had. The spread was much more extensive than the day before, with laksa (made to order) on the menu and sandwiches!

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The Dean & Deluca spread was similar to the day before, with the addition of… Rainbow cake!

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I had paid $7 dollars before to eat this cake at their Orchard Central outlet, so just out of cheap thrill, I had to have a slice here, for free! I didn’t quite enjoy it the first time, but this second time where it was free, I must say it tasted better. Haha!

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All in all, it was a decent experience at Quincy. Facilities and food were decent enough, room could be improved and service definitely could have been improved. For the price we paid, we could have gotten a room with club privileges at Intercontinental Hotel, hence I would consider this rather pricey. Propose the hotel looks into improving its service and also providing a frequent shuttle into the heart of Orchard. They could also allow an on the day sign-up for their activities, because not all couples would want to do all the activities.

2. The Food!

Andrew: It seems like we’ve already blogged so much about food @ Quincy that I can’t imagine there’s a separate section on it. This section is on the meals we had that were not at the Quincy. Unlike other times where we could splurge on more expensive degustation menus, this time we went to more mid-range places, and interestingly, by coincidence, places that we had been to during our dating days, which did bring back good memories!

Day 1 Lunch: Hatched!

Andrew: So, before we checked in, we dropped by Hatched at Evans Road for a quick lunch as I was fasting breakfast that morning (yes, even after a 10km run!) –so you can imagine, I was famished!

One thing Hatched hasn’t lost is its quirky charm and one of a kind decor and design. Just check out these really cute salt and pepper shakers! (Jasmine: actually, I know exactly where to buy them.)

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They had plenty of cute lamps about, but we didn’t take shots of them. These were our drinks below: a fruit tea and iced caramel latte!

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And my food – a ‘Burly Benedict’, poached eggs and corned beef on English muffin.  Ironically, the egg was the worst part of this dish. The corned beef was alright and the English muffin was light and fluffy, even the mashed potato with a mushroom sauce was creamy and comforting.

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However, the egg was disappointing – the sauce on top was tasteless and the texture of the fried egg was quite ‘rubbery’. Quite a disappointment! Serving was small too, given that I had already ordered the double egg – but I didn’t quibble too much as we had the light bites at Quincy to look forward to!

Dear and I had come to this outlet before while we were dating and quite surprised to find the standard drop quite significantly!

Day 1 Dinner: Everything With Fries

Andrew: We wanted a quick dinner on Saturday after we had spent more time than expected on shopping (more on that later!) and wanted to rush back in time for the dinner canapes, so Everything with Fries at Orchard Central it was!

It was extremely crowded, but a couple was nice enough to offer us their seat, so we returned the favour later too when we saw a couple finding a seat.

Here’s what we had – a crumbed fish burger with sour cream and onion fries, duck leg burger with curry fries and a side of har cheong kai.

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The har cheong kai was the best! Chicken chunks were so juicy, the batter so crispy and well-seasoned, and it went perfectly with the mayo sauce on the side.

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Of the burgers, I loved the fish burger more. The duck leg burger was interesting and tasty, but because it was duck, the patty lacked the chewiness and juiciness that we usually appreciate about burger patties. The fish patty was so light and soft that it almost ‘melted’ together with the bun with each bite! Completely divine! The fries were generously seasoned and tasty! Such a simple, sure-win formula.

This restaurant has significantly improved from the time we first went there during our dating days. Dear used to stay near an EWF and this used to be our dinner before we went for cell on Fridays. It has retained its high quality of food as well as strong following, and I can see the range of burgers has increased, as well as desserts!

Day 2: Lunch – Gordon’s Grill 

Andrew: This was the ‘birthday treat’ of the weekend – Sunday roast at Gordon’s Grill! I had been there ages ago with my family and always wanted to come back. This meal was a real steal – at $50 per pax for a 3 course lunch, and $60 for a 4 course (including coffee or tea at the end) – if you check out the a la carte menu, the main course itself is already $40 plus, hence it’s totally worth it!

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The courses included a starter – we had the escargoes and the cold cappellini with crab, truffle and caviar. The cold cappellini was their signature dish and rightfully so – each bite had such a delicate mix and cacophony of rich flavours. Fantastic! The escargoes were well done and juicy, but not out of this world.

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Next course was the soup, where we had French Onion soup and Lobster Bisque with a splash of Napoleon brandy. The Lobster Bisque was the winner here, with a rich, creamy and robust flavour. 

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And then, it was the main course! Since their wagon-roasted black angus beef was the signature dish, both of us had it! The other dishes didn’t sound as attractive anyway.

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As the signature dish of the restaurant, it definitely didn’t disappoint! The serving was generous and the beef was just divine – so tasty, tender and juicyyy! Loved the Yorkshire pudding at the side and the boiled vegetables with mash. Serving was so big that Dearie couldn’t finish half of hers, and of course, I volunteered to help!

Jasmine: I rarely eat beef, but I had read that the roasts were the star of the show at Gordon’s Grill, and it didn’t disappoint! Juicy, tender and one of the most generous servings I’ve ever seen! My one small disappointment was that the meat wasn’t carved and plated tableside, since the roast meats trolley is supposed to be a Gordon’s signature and dying trade in Singapore restaurants- a waiter later told me that that was just for the a la carte orders but I still don’t understand the difference…

Andrew: Finally, we had a mini Baked Alaska to share, because I didn’t want to over-eat!

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Besides the food, there were other nice little touches, which made this restaurant unique. Dear’s Dior Ling got VIP treatment, with a little chair of its own! (Jasmine:  Wow! I’m amazed Dear remembers the name of my bag! Last time he would have just called it “the pink thing”.)

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Andrew: And all around the restaurants were these paintings in recessed walls, which Dear is planning to do in our home! Oh, someone please save me! (Jasmine: relax… I said, future home.)
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Jasmine: As a sidenote, I love the decor of this restaurant: elegant but not stuffy, with a nod to the colonial building through its classic furniture but given a modern update with the neutral palette and fantastic figurative artwork in “reverse framing”, yet small enough such that you feel comfortable and not intimidated by the poshness of the surroundings.

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Andrew: All in all, a great meal. Thanks Dear!

3. The Shopping!

Andrew: As always, we save the best for last! Now, Dear had asked me where I wanted to go to shop and I told her let’s go to Orchard Gateway, since I wanted to try out Daniel and Jamie’s latest restaurant – Dulce and Sucre! Little did I realise that Orchard Gateway was a heaven for men’s shopping because they had an entire floor dedicated to men’s shopping! This is something that no other mall in Singapore has. I believe all the shops there are also unique to Orchard Gateway, giving it a true niche in the market.

We didn’t take a picture here, but they had a store where you could get custom-made shoes, with a choice of the material and design of sole, the type of material used, the design of the shoe etc. The designer walks you through the design elements, then they send the design back to Korea for them to tailor make it. We saw some truly stand-out pieces, but immediately left when they told us that each piece starts from $500. (Jasmine: Allow me to just point out that two days later, Andrew told me he was thinking of going back to check out this shop.)

One shop which we spent a lot of time at was this shop ‘S2VS’, where I bought 3 new shirts – one of which you’ve seen extensively in the pictures at Gordon’s Grill. This I quote from Dear, the shop ‘does colour blocking really well’, which is something I currently do not have in my wardrobe! Well, since she said it, I had to plug that gap in my wardrobe, didn’t I? Heh.

Jasmine: I’ve created a monster. I should never have introduced that man to the concept of coloured shoes. I should have just let him think shoes only came in black. Now he’s talking about colorblocking and custom made shoes, for goodness’ sake. Sighhhh.

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Jasmine: We also spotted this shop, City Flow, near the escalator, which sold a whole range of creatively designed products from Taiwan, some winning Red Dot Design awards, ranging from quirky Oscar trophy and industrial lamps, to ice cub trays which can make transparent ice cubes (instead of the normal whitish ones), to tissue boxes designed with springs to help get the last piece of tissue out!

Andrew: I was drawn to this amazing range of rings they had, which resembled my wedding band. Dear identified a really nice design in ebony and stainless steel and bought it for me as my birthday present:

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Even the ring box is stylo

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Nicely matches my skin tone…. and my new Ted Baker watch! (Jasmine: I don’t understand.. why is this watch picture here? Told you I created a monster.)

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Andrew: Wow, now that we’ve blogged about it, I can’t imagine so much was done in the short span of just 1 day! Thanks Dear for this amazing birthday celebration. Beyond all the treats and presents, what was truly good was the  couple-time where we had, just laughing, chatting, and reminiscing about our dating days. It was a much needed recharge for the week ahead and also, for the next phase of our lives when baby girl arrives!