Category Archives: Fashion

Maternity Shoot for Emmeline

Andrew: We’ve done a ‘behind the scenes’ post for this second maternity shoot, where we wrote that we weren’t sure how the pictures would turn out as most of the shoot was unposed (mainly the PasarBella and the Playground segment). We got the pics back and they turned out really great  – lots of laughter and fun and as usual, Dylan was the star! I love the PasarBella shots especially as the backgrounds are so varied and shots are so colourful and vibrant. Let the pictures do the talking!

PasarBella

Jasmine: We chose PasarBella as it was a place that we liked to frequent plus there was a variety of settings that we thought photograph beautifully. Unlike the previous maternity shoot, where we’ve gone mainly outdoors and featured lots of greenery, we wanted something more urban and eclectic. I like that every corner of PasarBella had a different feel and that Thomas was able to capture a range of atmospheres in just one location alone. All the visual clutter of PasarBella made for a very rich backdrop.

Andrew: Dylan took a while to warm up and was quite straight-faced in the beginning, but he gradually got more lively and started being more smiley and fun. I liked this portion as we were able to go back to our favourite store – the Russian cake shop and enjoy the cake while taking pictures.

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Along the way to the Stables

(Some shots here resemble a pre-wedding shoot!)

Jasmine: Given our outfits, our photographer suggested that we would stand out better against greenery, so we hopped in the car and drove to the stables which was just five minutes away. We literally pulled up by the side of the road for some outdoor shots, which took 15 minutes max. These did turn out very nicely against the evening light – I just wish that I had asked Thomas to highlight my baby bump and maternity gown more.

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Clock Playground @ Bishan

Jasmine: We had one last pit-stop at the clock playground at the Bishan bus interchange. I walk pass it everyday on my way to school and have always found it rather whimsical. A word which pretty much sums up the feel we were going for for this shoot.

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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: A very modern room (perhaps too cold and impersonal for my tastes).    IMG_5977

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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!

Shopping for Maternity Clothing

Jasmine: One of the key differences between this pregnancy and the last – where I previously couldn’t wait to try all the maternity fashions, I am now trying to stay in my regular clothes as long as possible. This was possible until the end of the second trimester, but now that I am heavily pregnant, I have little choice but to wear maternity clothing- and I am grateful for the added give that specialised maternity wear provides, through gathers/ pleats and longer fronts to accommodate a growing belly.

I previously wrote an entry on renting maternity clothing, especially if they are one-off pieces that you need for travelling or special events, and we were so surprised by how popular it was! It’s still one of our top three posts of all time, so strange! Anyhow, encouraged by that, here are some of my favourite, most-frequently worn maternity dresses and how I went about sourcing them. Almost all were recycled from the first pregnancy and cost less than SGD$40 🙂

1. ASOS Maternity

This was my first stop when I found out I was preggie for the first time! I went on a crazy rampage and bought at least ten dresses from the sale section, each costing between maybe SGD$20-40. [Andrew: Oh yes, I remember the two whole boxes of clothes that arrived. Thankfully they were good buys as good maternity clothes are not easy to come by locally.] However, do scrutinise the product information closely. For instance, I didn’t realise that this double-layered chiffon dress had a sheer back, which meant that I had to wear a tube underneath, when your basal body temperature is already higher during pregnancy. This minor inconvenience was fine when I was working in aircon all day at MOE HQ, but now that I’m moving about in a warm classroom, having to wear additional layers definitely isn’t practical. [Andrew: Ah what a waste – this pink dress is one of my favourite!]

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Another ASOS buy. I like the lace flutter sleeves and cheery yellow! There are many maternity body-conscious styles available on ASOS, but I’m not really one for showing off the bump too much (except when I need a seat on the train), so I stick with more flowy silhouettes like this.

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My favourite ASOS dress, which can be layered for colder weather, but also smart enough for cocktails and canapes at the Shangri-La (or maybe they just close one eye for pregnant women).

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What’s great about ASOS is that alot of the prints and fabrics from the regular sections have also been used for maternity styles, so no worries about looking like a frump! While I’m glad for the low prices and au courant prints, I probably would not buy from ASOS Maternity again as the maternity dresses cannot be worn for breastfeeding.

Come to think of it, I could probably write a whole post on breastfeeding fashion heh… But suffice to say that if you are a preggie mama with the intent to breastfeed, do look out for button-down or surplice/ wrap dresses so that you can nurse discreetly and conveniently in them in future.

2. Raid your mother’s closet.

Well, I guess this depends on your mother’s style and size, but my mum had quite a few loose sheath dresses that she lent me. I’ve held on to this blue swallow dress through both pregnancies, even while travelling in Tasmania!

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[Andrew: Interestingly enough, I bought a matching swallow-print shirt when I was in Tasmania! Unfortunately, this unglam pic of me with the ‘shower cap’ at the chocolate factory in Bali is the best shot of that swallow t- shirt:

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3. Normal dresses that can be used as maternity wear

Jasmine: If you are determined to stay in “normal” clothes but not inclined towards wearing workout/ yoga gear everywhere, look for dresses that are empire-waisted and elastic-waisted. The skirt should be at least knee-length, so that it will not become  too short as your tummy expands.

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Do also keep an eye out for breathable, stretchy materials like jersey or cotton.

We found this dress in a vintage cum Korean shop in Compasspoint for $39.90, and it met all the above criteria… so I bought it.

4. When travelling, scour the summer sales, especially in beachwear boutiques.

During my first pregnancy, I found quite a few dresses in the surf shops in Australia/ Tasmania! The sizing tends to be more generous to suit Caucasian ladies’ frames, while typical surfwear styles like billowy tanks or airy drawstring dresses are actually quite perfect for pregnancy clothing!

I scored this maxi dress on sale at one of said surf shops, and wore it for our fine dining lunch at Peppermint Bay…

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[Andrew: Dearie looks really beautiful in this dress!]

As well as our newborn shoot for Dylan. It’s got some sequin detail on the V-neckline that you can see up close:

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5. Just buy la, especially if the dresses pull double duty for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Jasmine: Anything to boost your preggie/ postpartum self-esteem :p

Spring Maternity does a great range of maternity wear with nursing access- I bought quite a few pieces when I was preggie with Dylan and am still wearing them for this second pregnancy, including this owl-print dress with hi-lo hemline:

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I have surprised even myself by buying only two dresses this pregnancy: the black and grey striped one in Point 3, which was just too comfy to pass up, and this lavender knot dress from Seraphine:

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I actually eyed it during my first pregnancy, then was quite put off because Kate Middleton bought two of these dresses, which meant that 1) it became too ubiquitous (I prefer wearing stuff that no-one else has) and 2) the “Kate effect” meant that the dresses were sold out everywhere online and our local maternity stores did not stock this brand. I actually stalked the Seraphine UK website for months before suddenly discovering that this dress was back in stock, in my preferred colour and size!

What’s a preggie mama to do?? When the universe gives you a sign, whip out your (husband’s) credit card.

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Where almost all my other dresses featured in this post are under SGD$40, this one rang in at SGD$100. I try to justify the price tag by noting how comfortable it is, and how flattering the knot front is to my bump. The tie at the back is also useful as I can adjust it during postpartum weight loss, so it won’t be too baggy on me then. Lastly, this dress has a deep V-neck which can be pulled aside for breastfeeding, so I believe it’s a piece I’ll be getting alot of wear out of for several more months, judging from how often I wore my other pregnancy-cum-breastfeeding dresses the last time around! That means my cost per wear will be lowered! [Andrew: That’s Dearie’s philosophy for shopping for clothes and how she justifies buying so many clothes.]

Father’s Day Feature 1: Men’s Grooming Products

Andrew: I’ve thought of a series of posts to write this Fathers’ Day weekend, as my way of doing things I enjoy.  One of my favourite activities of all is writing – more specifically, blogging! The Father’s Day features will be on topics pertaining to manhood, fatherhood and of course, my family!

This post was actually prompted by my Dearie, and I was initially hesitant as I wasn’t quite sure if there was much to write about (in reality though – it became one of the longest posts I’ve written!). In addition to doing product reviews, thought it’d be fun to link these products back to memories or specific moments in my life. Should be quite a fun post coming up – to write, at least.

Jasmine: You will be surprised but Andrew is actually quite vain! Or concerned about his appearance, at least. I remember that when we first started dating, he was still wearing imitation Ralph Polo tees from Batam with oversized horses on them, but I told him I didn’t want to change a thing about him (I was  young and foolish then haha). And he actually told me that he was disappointed, because he had hoped that I would make him over!

Facial Products

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1. CLARINS MEN Face Moisturiser

Andrew’s Review: Honestly speaking, Dearie was the first person to introduce me to men’s facial products properly and emphasise the importance of taking care of your skin. I do have eczema and dry skin in general. I still recall the first time Dear used face moisturizer on me, she told me it was evident that my skin was dry because it was just ‘drinking up all the moisturiser’. This is supposed to brighten the skin, but I can’t see the difference (honestly). However, what I can attest to is that my skin does feel softer and smoother, it also helps to ease a bit of the ‘burn’ on the skin post-shaving. 

Besides Clarins, I’ve also tried Biotherm’s Aquapower (after reading a recommendation in Augustman), but it’s thicker and tends to leave a rather sticky feeling after applying. It doesn’t go on as smoothly as the Clarins gel above. This is superficial, but the Clarins gel feels great when applying too, because it has a cooling sensation. Have tried samples from Clinique and Lab Series, but they don’t work as well. Been using this for 4 years now, so I do think it’s one of the best out there. 

Jasmine’s Review: This has become a staple in Andrew’s grooming routine and I think it is worthy of the inclusion. It does not leave a greasy sensation, yet is moisturising enough such that I can feel Andrew’s skin get plumped up and softened almost right after applying it. I recall too that there were quite a few times that this product went out of stock, so if you are looking for a Father’s Day gift, this may be nice, especially if Clarins has promotion sets (which is how Andrew got to try the facial wash, below).

Andrew’s walk down memory lane: In our dating days when I hadn’t started buying my own grooming products, Dear would sometimes pamper me after a long tiring day by helping me apply some of her products. Before events like formal dinners etc., she would help to style me and also apply some of these facial products, like a facial of sorts! That was her way of pampering me and showing me love. (Jasmine: Oh he probably doesn’t want me to mention this, but I used to offer to tweeze his brows for him before special occasions. I called it “shaping” and “removing stray hairs” so it would not sound so feminine and thus off-putting to him.)

2. CLARINS MEN Eye Cream

Andrew’s Review: Eye cream was another product that I started using early in our dating days as my beginning teacher days were tiring and long, resulting in me having less sleep and evident dark eye circles. Of course, most women will say that men don’t need eye cream, because signs of ageing are less evident and not as important to men. That’s not true!

Anyway, the first ever eye-cream I used was Biotherm’s High Recharge Eye Shot, which was so aptly named and designed for a man (Do check out the pic!). One thing I’m quite amazed by for men’s products is the branding, which comes through the naming. Same product, but named in such a macho way… I still recall how hand cream for men was branded as ensuring you give the best hand-shake, as opposed to women where the branding is always about ensuring delicate skin, protecting your hands from the ravages of the environment.

Anyway, back to the Biotherm eye cream, it made applying eye cream so easy – and once again, had such a cooling, relaxing sensation on the eye because it was like an ‘eye’ massage. However, I stopped using it after a while, because it didn’t quite seem like it was having an effect.

Andrew: I’ve also tried the Kiehl’s Eye Alert, following recommendations from Augustman again, but just didn’t quite like it again, because it would leave a sticky feeling around my eyes after a while.

Finally, came back to Clarins again! I don’t use it as regularly, but it’s been the most effective thus far – or maybe I’m just resting more.

Jasmine’s Review: What Andrew is trying to say is that the Biotherm eye cream has a metal-tipped applicator. Also, I think it’s the other way round, dear- it stopped having an effect because you stopped using it 😀 But seriously, Andrew does have dark eye circles and we have yet to find a product that will combat this.

Andrew’s walk down memory lane: There are many funny memories I have of my wife  (then girlfriend) teaching me how to apply eye-cream and me failing badly because of my clumsy and brutish actions. LOL! Apparently, you’re supposed to gently dab the area around your eyes with the eye-cream, not use your finger to apply it on – which I sometimes end up doing anyway. I mean, if it’s that good, it should work any way you put it on, right? Occasionally, Dear will pamper me with her high quality eye-cream from… Hmm, what brand was that again, Dear? Cutely enough, before I started buying my own eye-cream, Dear used to spare small portions of the eye cream to me, using little make-up canisters (the one she bought me even had a cute penguin on it!). The portion she gave me was supposed to last one week, but sometimes I finished it within 3 days.  (Jasmine: Oh my… I had a few heart attacks reading this para. Well, I would apply my Lancome eye cream for Andrew, being careful to dab it on instead of just smearing it roughly, as that will stretch your delicate skin and leave it prone to further fine lines and wrinkles. However, it being a women’s eye cream, I always warned him that the effect might not be as strong for him. As for the penguin canister, that was hand-drawn by me… I think we might have accidentally thrown it away during one of our earlier decluttering crazes though!)

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3. Body Shop Maca Root Shave Cream

Andrew: Products (3) and (4) came slightly later on during our married days.

Walk down memory lane: Prior to using this shaving cream, I had been using an electric shaver for the longest time due to convenience and gentleness on skin. Even when I did use the shaving razor, the only brand I had used was Gilette, which was good enough for me. However, there was once during my Reservist days when my electric shaver just broke down and I asked my wife to get me the cheapest razor and shaving gel available – needless to say, she didn’t, and got me this Body Shop Shaving Cream instead and I’ve been using it since and not turned back to the electric shaver or Gilette!

Now, I have to say that Dear is also growing in her knowledge of the complexity of men’s products (yes, it’s complex too!) – in our earlier dating days, I told her that I was thinking of getting some after-shave. She secretly went to get me something from Clarins, only to realise later that it was shaving cream and not aftershave! I used it, so as not to put it to waste, but didn’t quite like it as much.

Andrew’s Review: Anyway back to the product itself – I think many times these grooming products thrive on psychological effect too. This shaving gel is very smooth, and after each shave, there’s a calming sensation on the skin, which makes shaving a more enjoyable experience than mechanically using an electrical shaver (the one I used was a low-end one). Best part is that it contains a mild cleanser, that helps me skip a step, as I can’t be bothered with the whole facewash, cleanser, toner regime.

Jasmine’s Review: After doing some research-on-the-go (e.g. walking to Watson’s while googling on my phone) for best shaving creams for sensitive skin, this came up in quite a few editor’s picks and had good consumer reviews as well. Plus, it was reasonably-priced. I understand that Dear has since bought a second tube! (Andrew: Third – actually.)

4. Clarins Facial Wash

Walk down Memory Lane: Not much of a memory for this one as it was merely me seizing on good deals at the airport as they sold both the Clarins moisturiser and this facewash in one package. The only memory would be Dearie’s Just buy it! response, when I asked her if I really do need it. Heh. That’s indeed her own philosophy. (Jasmine: It was going for the same price as the moisturiser alone, and you needed a facial wash back then…)

Andrew’s Review: The biggest benefit of this facial wash is that it’s soap-free, hence not drying on the skin. It’s very gentle on the skin and leaves me feeling refreshed after each wash.

As you can deduce, Clarins MEN is my favourite series. I even used to be a big fan of their handcream, until they stopped producing it. It was the only non-medical hand cream that helped moisturise while not worsening my eczema. Now, what I use is Physiogel A.I, which is specifically aimed for sensitive skin.

Jasmine’s Review: Forgettable. When it comes to men’s grooming, I tend to pick my battles and only zoom in on what Andrew really needs, instead of doing a three-step routine or whatever.  In fact, I was (happily) shocked that this entry was so long! I thought his only grooming essentials were moisturiser, shaving cream and hair wax!

Hair Products

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5. REDKEN Fiber Cream

Walk down memory lane: I have indeed come a long way from the days of Brylcream and ‘sticky’ hairgel, to using hair wax and clay and also being more aware of the techniques of hair-styling as I now get my haircut at salons, as opposed to $10 QB. This is actually the most recent grooming product I’m trying, and this is another instance of me asking Dearie to go to get me my hair wax, because I’d left it at our staycation venue, but her, being the attentive wife, immediately went to google good hair products and bought this for me – adding that this was actually not her top choice! I have to admit that for me, I just rely on what the hair-dresser recommends and affordability. Can’t really be bothered to google and read through product reviews.

Andrew’s Review: Was rather unused to initially as it’s more gel-like, as opposed to the usual dry cream that has to be rubbed on. This one can be more gently applied, but for now I’d have to say it helps to hold up the shape of the hair well, makes it look more natural and feels gentler on the hair.

Good buy, Dearie! Actually, it seems like a good trick to use if I’m too lazy to choose products now is to ask her to buy stuff for me. What should I get her to buy next…. New shampoo, body soap would be good, Dear – thanks! 

Jasmine’s Review: As Asian hair tends to be coarser than Caucasian hair, it’s important to narrow down the reviews to those which pertained to Asian men. I was actually looking for TIGI Bedhead Men Matte Separation Wax to pamper Andrew (usually he just buys some uncle hair wax from Econ minimart, to my horror), but due to time constraints, I just popped by a hair salon and asked for Redken. The hairstylist recommended this Fiber Cream as it is a texturiser more so than a wax, which means it gives a natural look which works especially well on men with shorter hair, and lends itself well to spiking etc. Also, it being a salon-grade hair wax, a little goes a long way.

Cologne

5. Davidoff Champion

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Andrew’s Review: Looking at the pic above, I’m sure you can tell why I was attracted to this Davidoff Champion cologne! Heh.  This was the first cologne I’d bought during our dating days. Love the light citrusy notes of the cologne, without being overly powering. That tends to be my preference for cologne in general.

They have since come up with Davidoff Energy, which is the same packaging but in red – which I don’t like as much.

Jasmine’s Review: Andrew was drawn to this coz of the “macho” packaging. I didn’t know it had citrusy notes (he must have googled that haha), but it does smell very manly without coming across too strong. I also taught Andrew how to just spray himself once or maximum twice from a distance, then walk through the mist, so that when he’s with people, it won’t feel like Hurricane Men’s Cologne has just walked through the room.

Walk down memory lane: This was the cologne I wore during many lovely dates with Dear during our dating days and even after we got married. In fact, this was the cologne I wore on our wedding day too!

6. John Varvatos ‘Artisan’

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Andrew’s Review: This was another DFS buy, recommended first by Dear, because she was drawn to the design. What a contrast to the more manly, modern look of the Champion bottle – this one’s more vintage and crafted. Scent-wise it’s lighter than Champion – I would say this cologne is more suitable for a more formal dinner at a classy venue, as opposed to Champion, which packs a bit more of a punch. 

Jasmine’s Review: I really adore this scent on Andrew, and prefer it to the Davidoff one, as it is subtler yet still woodsy and masculine. The packaging is also rugged yet earthy, which compliments the cologne perfectly. And I see Dear has taken the effort to photograph it with my garlic basket behind. Heehee!

My Little Grooming Corner

Andrew: To end off this post, one of the decisions we had to make when moving to a new house was obviously, where I would do my man-grooming each morning before going off to work! Dearie has her own dresser, which I obviously can’t use and it makes me feel less ‘manly’ using a dresser. So, we settled for using the guest bathroom, with this very basic stainless steel mirrored bathroom cabinet:

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We got this from one of the furniture stores near ABC Brickworks market and it was perfect because I liked it and the dimensions were perfect too, for the relatively small space we had. Obviously, it’s usually less tidy than this. Heh.

Wow, this post took longer than expected to write and was more meaningful than I thought it’d be. 🙂

Jasmine: Yes, do assume that the space has been neatened up prior to the photo! I just checked a few days ago (to see what hair wax Andrew needed me to replenish) and it was rather disheveled! But I didn’t say anything about it because it was his space and it’s all hidden from sight.

Actually, when Andrew saw how cozy my dressing area in our room was, he asked for an area of his own. So I hung up a vintage mirror with built-in cubby in my our dressing area, but it did not provide enough storage for his burgeoning collection, as you can see. Hence, hubby’s stuff had to be moved to the guest bathroom!

Newborn Fashion for Baby Girl

Jasmine: When we were expecting Dylan, we were very chill about his wardrobe and only bought a couple of cute rompers at the Sydney airport and while in Tasmania, for souvenirs’ sake. We also were quite confident that Dilly’s grand mum, aunt and all his relatives would be buying more than enough clothes, and they did! In fact, Dyl is still wearing quite a few pieces gifted from his first month.

From Seed Maternity at Sydney Airport

On sale at Salamanca Market in Tasmania

However, with a little girl on the way, things are a little different this time round. We (actually Andrew) have pulled out all the stops buying baby girl clothes! Here is our current (but by no means complete) collection. It is a listing of our indulgences and essentials, but if you are looking only for what is absolutely necessary, I’ve got a handy summary at the end 😀 (Andrew: …. you’re evidently having too much fun writing this entry.)

Andrew: Honestly Dear, I am currently trying to take stock of which items of Dillie’s can be reworn by baby girl when she arrives. Heh. Not quite true that I pulled out all the stops, but strangely enough, even though she hasn’t arrived, buying clothes for her just makes it feel like we are pampering her already. We really haven’t been half as attentive to her as we were with Dillie, so I guess it’s our way of showering her with love.

1. The Carter’s on Sale Capsule Collection
Jasmine: When I was on bedrest, I had to shop vicariously through my mum and sis, who went to the Metro sale and whatsapped me pictures of all the baby merchandise and helped me buy the ones I shortlisted. Oops… actually I think I still haven’t paid my sister back. Oh well, such a great family I have! Hee.

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Jasmine: I love the colors, styles and quality of Carter’s baby clothing, but they are always so expensive in Singapore. With the 20% + additional 20% off, my mum and sis helped me buy all these cute little mix n match outfits! I am actually not a big fan of always buying pink for baby girls, not so much because of the gender stereotyping, but because I find it quite limiting. I asked myself, would I like to have a wardrobe based on one colour? Probably not. So we chose some yellows and mint greens too, and even navy blue:

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Love the owl print on these leggings

In fashion,  a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of staple clothing items that can be endlessly co-ordinated for different looks and occasions. This Carters’ series seems like a capsule wardrobe in itself- not only are all the pieces somehow colour-coordinated, the varying lengths of the bottoms (shorts, bloomers, leggings, long pants) and the cotton material are great for both hot weather and aircon temperatures!

 2. Gender- Neutral Rompers

Jasmine: After having Dylan, we’ve realised how convenient rompers can be- plenty of mobility and comfort for baby, no need to think about a matching bottom and easy-peasy diaper changes!

This is one of our favourite pieces- a polka dotted romper with spaghetti straps! I don’t believe in buying revealing clothing for little girls… But this was so cute and it came as part of the Carter’s set above anyway! (Andrew: I can just imagine Mummy and little baby girl wearing matching clothes since Dearie loves polka dots too – just matching the polka dots, not the romper part. LOL.)

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I love gender-neutral colors for babies. Dilly always looked like an angel and it allowed us to focus on his face and sweet smile, so we bought a neutrals three-pack for baby girl, with a bunny print, a cloud print and a raglan beige.

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Truth be told, Dylan has plenty of gender-neutral rompers that we can recycle for baby girl (Andrew: Exactly!), but I just wanted baby girl to have a few items of her own, instead of a 100% hand-me-down wardrobe. Not that she will know the difference, but I guess it will weigh heavily on the conscience of this shopaholic mummy!

Andrew: As it is, our clothes cupboard for Dylan is already almost 75% full, with one drawer for his socks and another drawer for his home clothes which he wears and another drawer for clothes which he can’t wear yet or has outgrown. We might need another wardrobe altogether when baby girl arrives. That being said, I have to say it’s more fun buying clothes for little girls than little boys. Just seems like there are so much more designs, colours, styles you can play around with, whereas for boys, it’s just shorts, t-shirts or polo shirts.

3. Going Out Outfits

Jasmine: Not strictly necessary as babies can pretty much live in playsuits and sleepsuits, but if you have a baby girl I think that’s valid reason to indulge. We bought some blouses and shorts for her. (Andrew: Since when do you buy clothes based on ‘necessity’ anyway?)

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The shorts are ruched at the hem, so the butt will look fluffed out. The paisley green pair is also special, it was the first piece of clothing I bought (on sale at another of my favourite kids’ brands, Gingersnaps) when I found out we were having a girl.

When they are so young, there’s really no need for shoes as they can’t walk, but we did buy her some socks to match all the pinks, greens and yellows in her wardrobe. Socks are much more useful than shoes at the newborn stage, they help to keep baby warm.

Andrew: The white dress with light pink, purple and green prints  in the top right corner is so girly, sweet and colorful in a very subtle manner – just the kind of dress I feel will be perfect for a little baby. Think our little girl’s going to be a really well-dressed baby.

4. Home Wear

Jasmine: Ohhh I love baby bottoms and always thought rounded bums and fleshy thighs were the most adorable thing ever about babies. They are also as easy to unfasten as rompers for diaper changes and keep baby cool in our tropical humidity too without looking quite as "naked" as just wearing diapers!

I got a pair of these frilled knickers from Mothercare, as well as The. Cutest. Bloomers. Ever from Amazon, which I had been eyeing since, frankly, my first pregnancy. Each bloomer has a cupcake with a cherry and ruffled icing on the bum! I wanted to say this was my splurge item for baby girl but I realised all the going-out outfits above were splurge items. Moving on.

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Jasmine: And some mittens and booties as well. Dylan has plenty (and we got them in white too so they would be gender-neutral as well) so we just bought one wee set. From experience, the mittens with the wide bands (and not gathered elastic) fit tiny newborn wrists best and won’t slip off. As with socks, it’s good to have a few pairs as these tiny items get lost easily.

We also bought these singlets and cotton bloomers for day, and long-sleeved PJs by night. For the bloomers, the gathers and teeny bows make the butt more puffed-out, which I like on babies.

If you like these, surprise surprise, Andrew picked them out. In fact, he specified that he wanted "more pink" since it was a baby girl. (Andrew: Sorry, call me traditional!)

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The singlets and shorts are gonna be essential, I just know it. In this hot weather, it’s pretty much all that Dilly wears, and the ribbed singlets may look miniscule but can expand- he’s been wearing them from birth till now so I’m quite confident baby girl will get as much wear out of her sets.

5. Gifts Etc

Jasmine: Of course, baby girl is so blessed! Even before she is born, she has lots of people who love her buying things for her already!

Here is a wonderful denim dress and mustard romper with puff sleeves, sponsored by her Ee Ee. Hey sister, go on another Europe trip so you can buy baby girl a Europe collection too!

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Update (2 June): the buying continues! My mum and sis bought these little dresses on sale for baby girl which we will probably pair with her bloomers. The rosebud one is so teeny it can be worn by my sister’s Rilakumma bears (ugh). When baby girl grows bigger, she can wear them as tops too, with shorts which are meant for Dylan right now!

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My aunt got a five-pack from Mothercare for her baby Leia and gave me one! This newborn size is not easy to find and I liked the colours in the store but refrained from buying, so… it all worked out!

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My dear cell girls bought these technically for Dilly, but I’m sure Dilly won’t mind sharing with his sister. Heheh. They were so thoughtful to buy stuff for baby on their travels- Celine bought the cat set from Taiwan and Jillian bought the monster set (with very cool angular pants) from Korea! Can’t wait till Dyl and baby girl grow big enough to fit into them!
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Lastly, my cousin Steffy got these soft washtowels for baby girl from Perth. It comes with a cute little cow that I hope will not be the next Smelly Penguin.

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We already have plenty of towels including our very useful apron towel, but washcloths are a great addition as it was about time to retire some of our washcloths which Dylan has been using daily for a year and are beginning to look a little tired. And more Aden+Anais bamboo swaddles for baby girl, since Dyl got so much use out of his. We went with white (rather than the pink/mauve version of Dyl’s aqua set) so it erm, wouldn’t clash with our nursery colours.

What else I would like to buy- probably a tutu, a little white lace bonnet for sun protection and more cute socks with faux ballet slipper patterns. Oh, and mother-daughter dresses in whimsical circus patterns! Lest I frighten anyone (probably just husbands of friends, haha) with the photo spam above, let me share some words of wisdom:

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Fridge magnets say the darndest things. Thanks Miao for the magnet!

I should probably add that all the items above were bought for varying ages from newborn size all the way to 6-9 months, so baby girl will only be wearing a few of these at any given time, which are actually intended to supplement the hand-me-downs from Dilly and (I hope) all her older baby girl cousins *blatant hint alert*.

However, if you are a baby clothing minimalist (which makes perfect sense since the clothes will be worn for a few months to a year at best), this is our list of clothing essentials:

  • At home by day: 5 sleeveless rompers (aka playsuits)  OR 5 singlets and 3-4 pairs of shorts/ bloomers/ diaper covers
  • At home by night: 5 long-sleeved, footed rompers (aka sleepsuits) OR 3-4 short/ long-sleeved tees and 3-4 pairs of long/ footed pants.
  • Going out: forget those fiddly jackets and cardigans. Just wrap baby in a swaddle cloth (on top of whatever she is wearing) and add socks.
  • Bath: 2 towels and 3-4 washcloths

Last tip for new parents: get clothes that snap down the front (faster than buttons or kimono ties, gosh) rather than things you have to pull over the baby’s head. It can be scary for baby to not be able to see, and quite unnerving for parents when baby is wailing. We had a few snap-down shirts for Dylan (again, a three-pack from Mothercare) and they were very easy for us to handle.

Dylan in a snap-down shirt at exactly one month old

Instead of pulling a shirt over a wriggly baby’s head, you can just turn baby to one side to pull his arm through one sleeve, and repeat on the other side. Fuss-free!

A couple more examples:

Dylan in a Petit Bateau romper from Uncle Miao and Auntie Crystal

Another snap-down romper from Granny, all the way from Japan

This time, we are feeling abit more confident in our baby-changing abilities so we haven’t gotten any snap-down rompers…. yet. But if a nice set comes up, it will certainly be on my radar 😀

Come soon baby girl, I can’t wait to dress you up!

Tips for Outdoor Photoshoots

Andrew: Since we’ve been through our fair share of photo-shoots (as you would have read), we thought we’d compile some of our own personal tips for outdoor photo-shoots that might be beneficial to our readers! This post also provides an excuse for us to share pics that we missed out on in our previous shoots! The post gets super geeky along the way – so be warned.

1. PLAN. Be clear on where you want to go, the time between each location, the costumes at each location and the rough time of the day you’ll be at each location.

[Usually the photographer will advise, but it’s important to know what you want as well, so the photographer can give better advice.]

Hasmine: Our favourite time to shoot is after 4pm. While most people would think that that would be too dark, our maternity photographer told us that the hour before sunset is known as the golden hour, where you can capture lots of flares in the photos for that imperfect yet dreamy feel:

These are also late afternoon/ pre-sunset shots in Shanghai:

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2. Based on point 1, plan your outfits to

a) coordinate with each other and b) suit or stand out against the chosen locale.

Jasmine: For b), if you want a soft romantic feel, choose similar colours. Conversely, if you want to pop against the backdrop, choose strong or contrasting colours.

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I am not a fan of matchy-matchy, so you won’t catch us dressing in identical T-shirts or anything. It was my mum who many years ago gave me the best tip in colour coordinating: when you wear a dress, the man’s outfit should pick up one colour in that dress.

As you can see above, Andrew’s polka dot shirt picks up the white in my lace dress. We also tried to stay in the same tonal family, with my purple feather clip being a few shades away from his blue chambray shirt. This suits the background, which is lilac, white and pale blue.

Another way to look coordinate is to coordinate your patterns instead of your colours. This set of family outfits may seem unrelated at first glance, but if you look closely, we are all wearing a stripe or plaid pattern:

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On the busy pedestrian thoroughfare of Nanjing Lu in Shanghai, this helped us look unified and stand out against the many passers-by.

To match the gritty, industrial aesthetic of 1933, we went with monochromes for a strong graphic feel. The boys wore white and black with suspenders, and I also went with  a shrunken BCBG leather jacket, ribbon top and jeans (instead of my usual girly dresses)- but the multi-coloured ribbons add visual interest to what would otherwise be a rather stark ensemble, while the jeans are hunter green so it doesn’t look too drab. (Andrew: Nobody cares.)

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To save time but still incorporate a costume change, layer coordinated winter wear on top of your smart casual outfits… then remove outer layer!

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From outside… to inside!

Speaking of saving time, that brings us to our next point.

3. When shooting overseas, choose a hotel location that’s near some of your photoshoot venues.

Andrew: The hotel becomes an automatic choice for a place to change or to dump stuff you might not need for the next part of your shoot.

spotted_014Also, the photographer can get in good shots of you walking back to the hotel!

This tip is particularly helpful if you’re crazy enough to plan an outdoor photoshoot with your baby who is less than 1 year old! For our Shanghai photoshoot, we had to factor in time for a feed, since most of Dearie’s photo-shoot outfits weren’t breast-feeding friendly. The hotel was thus a useful place to warm the expressed milk and get ourselves ready before the next locality.

4. For photo-shoots in another country, choose a locality that’s characteristic of that city/country in a subtle way, i.e. do not choose obvious tourist attractions like Statue of Liberty unless it’s a glamorous wedding shoot!

A photoshoot’s always nicer when it’s natural and real, rather than obviously showing that you’re on a holiday. For a New York feel, our photographer clearly timed his shots such that you’d see the famous New York yellow cabs  in the background…

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Or a Metro sign…

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(We also like this shot because of the smiling passer-by)

5. If you’re in a country with different seasons, take the chance to show off seasonal elements that you can’t see in Singapore, i.e. winter wear, winter foliage etc.

Jasmine: We celebrated Christmas in New York, which was one of my dreams checked off my bucket list, so we marked that with photos with a distinct sense of time…

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A humongous lit-up fir tree at the Public Library

And place…

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Outdoor decorations at a Christmas market

5. Choose a photographer whose style you like- then tell him that he has total creative control.

In general, when working with designers, Etsy tailors, makeup artists and yes, photographers, I’ve found that most artsy people dislike being hampered and told what to do by the client; on the contrary, if you express your (genuine) admiration for their work and let them do what they are good at, the finished product can be pretty amazing!

Some of our favourite shots in Shanghai were borne out of our photographer’s freedom to be as creative as he wanted:

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Jasmine: Have fun! Instead of seeing the photoshoot as a giant logistical hassle, we (Andrew: …we??) think of it as a fun date in another country, with somebody documenting our happy moments for posterity 🙂

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Andrew: We’ve only had two overseas photoshoots, dear. Please don’t make it sound like it’s a norm.

Jasmine: Hey I just realised I’m wearing the same Warehouse winter coat in both shoots! Think I need to vary it up a bit more… Where to next? 😀

Shanghai Family Shoot

Jasmine: As you know by now, we love planning and going on photoshoots, especially as a way to mark milestones in our lives, such as our NYC honeymoon and our maternity shoot when I was pregnant with Dylan. We decided that we would do a family photoshoot with nine-month-old Dylan when we went to Shanghai! We chose a Shanghai-based American photographer, Dave of Spotted Photography, and gave him the brief- to be as creative with his shots as possible!

Preparations and Logistics

Jasmine: We opted for a five-hour session as that would give us plenty of time for costume change, diaper change, etc, as you never know how long it will take with a baby in tow!

To make it easier for us, we also had a chauffeur to minimise travelling time (and we chose attractions that were all nearby, anyways) and hired a babysitter through our hotel. This babysitter was very helpful in holding baby when we were taking couple shots (so if Dylan doesn’t appear in the shots, fear not, he wasn’t left to his own devices, but was kept within our sight at all times), feeding him and even making him nap! At one point when it was especially windy, she even doubled up as the photographer’s assistant to hold the light-diffusing umbrella while carrying Dyl!

Andrew: Photo-shoots are actually quite logistically challenging, especially outdoors ones, when you also have to plan for multiple costume changes – not just for us, but for Dylan too. With Dylan, the additional challenge was planning it to coincide with his nap time such that he wouldn’t be too cranky. I was quite worried it’d be tough, because we had extremely long travel time the day before (almost 12 hours in total) and he didn’t sleep too well. However, to my surprise, it went amazingly well. Dave was also able to keep the session going along at a relaxing enough pace, such that we felt like we were getting sufficiently nice shots and we had lots of fun while at it too. Dylan was good throughout… Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

At our Art Deco hotel, the Yangtze Boutique Hotel:

Jasmine: We wanted to shoot in our hotel room, but the space was too tight, so we did a couple of quick shots at the lovely Art Deco foyer instead.

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Andrew: The shot above was taken using a remote-controlled flash-gun, which the photographer placed behind us to ensure there was sufficient (and dramatic) lighting. Dave was our most experimental photographer thus far (and trust me, we’ve been through quite a few) with so many unique tricks up his sleeve. It was a really fun photo-shoot.

Jasmine: I’m wearing a dress from a Korean shop at Nex with black stockings and my Aldo boots which I bought from Washington two years back. Andrew is wearing a H&M t-shirt with a maroon velvet H&M blazer he bought in the US and never had a chance to wear.

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At Nanjing Lu

Jasmine: As the shopping street was a 5 min walk away from our hotel, we then strolled over (while taking pictures) for more warm-up shots.

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We’ve topped up our hotel outfits with a Warehouse coat and H&M beret for me, and a Basic House cardigan for Andrew. Dilly’s outfit is from H&M and his reversible soft shoes are from Mothercare.

Andrew: Love this shot – it’s a tender, family moment, characterised subtly by the bike in the background transporting cartons. Dillie, as usual, looks like his innocent, cute self – just sucking on his fist and looking curiously around. 

Jasmine: Our photog said that the quality of light in Shanghai is particularly mysterious because of all the smog.

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 spotted_013 According to Andrew’s colleague, the shot below looked like a frame from a happy ending of a Korean drama- "one year after getting married, now with a baby". Heh.

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At 1933 (an Art Deco slaughterhouse)

Jasmine: This was my favourite stop by far. An Art Deco abbatoir given a new lease of life as an upmarket art gallery and high-end shopping mall. This was where our photographer got really creative, seizing on all the interesting angles and lines afforded by the place! In fact, I think quite a few of these shots are featured on his front page!

The facade alone was stunning in its geometric patterns:

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Our only family shot there, as Dilly later fell asleep on the babysitter, covered in my jacket. Andrew and Dilly are wearing matching suspenders and bow tie!

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And quite a few romantic shots along the open-air aisles. I love the broken lens effect, where the photog detached the lens from the camera, creating pictures with blurred and sharp parts.

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I’m wearing a ribbon top that I bought years ago from Far East Plaza with green Uniqlo jeans, and the BCBG leather jacket that I bough at 50% off during outlet shopping on our NYC honeymoon. Andrew is wearing H&M suspenders and bow tie.

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As the sun was setting, we then proceeded to the rooftop of 1933 for some final pictures…

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Andrew: This was my favourite spot for photos too – just a maze of pathways and hidden corners to play around with. The photographs there have such a dreamy feel.

Before making our way to our last stop, the Bund!

Shanghai Pre Wedding Photos (13)

Jasmine: The Bund is the river that runs through Shanghai, with gorgeous 19th century buildings of assorted architectural styles lining each side. A sight to behold especially at night when all the buildings are lit up, we wanted to dress more formally to match the cityscape.

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I’m wearing the Notte by Marchesa dress that I bought at 40% off, for my sister’s wedding,  before I found out that I was pregnant. Two months pregnant in this picture, to be exact. Sigh. Time to make a new dress. The star hair accessory was based on a Rodarte clip that cost $600USD, and handmade by me for less than $30SGD!

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Our photog thought this area would make for cool shots due to all the curved lines. This was when our babysitter had to double up as his assistant, by holding the umbrella that diffused the flash so that the brolly wouldn’t fly away.

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And Dyl, in the Rilakumma suit Mum bought him from Japan. She bought it without realising it was Rilakumma, Charlene’s favourite bear.

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spotted_047 Andrew: This last part was where Dylan got naughty and started ‘bullying’ me by taking off my specs and ‘slapping’ my face – look at how calm he is, while ‘smushing’ my nose. Dearie and the photographer had a good laugh, just watching me getting bullied. It was gd fun!

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And rounding off the night with a shot in front of the Pearl Tower!

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Andrew: The temperature when we were at the Bund was below 10 degrees and it was very windy. Everybody around us was wrapped up in their jackets and scarfs, whereas both of us were just wearing the one-layer you see above. (Jasmine: just to note though that while we didn’t mind a little chill, we were always careful to ensure that Dylan was safely bundled up in long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes, hat PLUS winter coat on top. We only changed his outerwear, and even then, only indoors or in the car.) 

Andrew: We attracted a lot of stares – people must have thought we were crazy! Hey, we’ve been through worse… During our NYC photoshoot, the temperature was close to zero and we were also in 1 layer! Dear’s so resilient when it comes to photoshoots. Check out the photographer’s own blog entry of our photo-shoot!

Cheap Princess Gowns for Weddings

[To my horror, I found these fully-written wedding-related posts from THREE YEARS BACK, before we got married, just sitting in the drafts folder… So I just clicked “publish”. Also, feeling kinda really sad that I have put on so much pregnancy weight since these pictures below were taken!]

Jasmine: I’ve made pretty clear that I’m no fan of the princess gown… Until I actually tried one on, while shopping with my mum at Far East Plaza.

And realised, horror of horror, that with a very simple bodice, the exaggerated train and full skirt could actually look rather… pretty.

I felt like I was cheating on my own wedding dress- the one that I had painstakingly designed and made at Emanuel B.

On a budget of less than $200, I decided that I would search for a second gown that I could rent. I wasn’t planning to have a change of wedding gown on the actual day itself, but just thought I’d rent one for a different bridal silhouette in pictures.

I decided to go really low-end for this because the ballgown style is so overwhelmingly popular at Taiwanese-style studios that there was sure to be much price competition which would drive prices down. I wouldn’t recommend low-end studios if you want a form-fitted sheath or quality materials, but an A-line gown is still relatively easy to do.

Of the low-end rentals I sourced, most charged around $200-300 for a three day rental, inclusive of alteration and dryclean.

The cheapest was Bridal Closet, which offered rentals from $188, which included not only alterations and drycleaning, but also free rental of veils and accessories (though I didn’t need those).

As I needed to have my measurements re-taken for my cheongsam (reached my goal weight… yay!), Bridal Closet had the advantage of being 5 min drive away from my cheongsam tailor, so we decided to pop by.

This was one of the dresses I tried on:

Option 1

It’s got the sweeping train which shows up well in photos and I liked that the beading wasn’t too overdone, but up close I could tell that the skeleton of the bustier had gone awry and the waistline was crooked. Next.

Option 2:

All along, I had been looking for something more modern, like Option 1. However, this dress was decently-tailored. Also, despite my best efforts to veer away from the traditional gown, I kinda liked the way the tulle skirt was gathered and the lacework was pretty, albeit in a retro way.

Even better, both options cost under $200… to buy. Bridal Closet even threw in free alterations and drycleaning.

Here’s what Option 2 looked like after alteration and removal of the sash:

A few key points about bridal shopping for the budget-conscious:

  • Always inspect the garment carefully to ensure that all joinings are straight and seams don’t pucker (looks especially awful on shiny fabrics like satin and gives away bad workmanship immediately)
  • If you are going for a princess gown (or any gown), make sure that the embellishment does not overpower your frame
  • When in doubt, less is more. Remove all annoying accoutrements. Unnecessary adornment is often used to disguise crappy workmanship
  • Shop with one, maximum two trusted friends with good taste. (Especially important for low-end studios, because you’ll really need to spearate the wheat from the chaff)

I saw too many girls at Bridal Closet who were trying on hideous, butt-ugly gowns (Crime Scene Exhibit A: red and black mermaid gown, with TWO sashes bisecting the natural waist and the low waist, thereby successfully showing off her paunch) but their mums and boyfriends were not offering them the wake-up call they really needed.

When Andrew and I were shooting at National Museum, we saw six other bridal couples, and all the brides were wearing princess gowns which were too complicated and looked like they harked from the ’80s. For example, they had pleating on the bust and massive amounts of embroidery on the skirt. The hairstyle (typically, fussy updo with lots of waves and a TIARA on top of all that) never differed from bride to bride and made the whole getup look dated. Someone really needed to tell them that less is more (ironic, coming from the girl with two wedding gowns).

Princess gown or not, I always maintain that the bride should wear the gown and not the other way around.

More on New York: Winter Fashion and Food!

Andrew: Right after completing the entry of top 10 on NYC, I realised there was still so much to write about NYC – in particular food and winter fashion! Okay, honestly I just wanted to write about the food places we went to, but when compiling the photos, I realised that there was so much fashion (mainly Dearie’s) to feature, hence decided to make it a fashion and food post – much to Dear’s delight, I’m sure.

Bouchon Bakery

Andrew: We actually visited two Bouchon bakery outlets during our time in NYC – the outlet at Rockefeller Centre before our NBC tour, and another one at Time Warner Centre after a long walk following a Christmas service.

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Enjoying a chai tea latte from Bouchon Bakery – sad to say, Starbucks was much better!

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Rows and rows of sweet delights!

Andrew: The pastries here were just fantastic. We had a raspberry croissant, which was just out of this world as well as a pistachio macaroon, which was top notch too! Really enjoyed sipping in our hot drinks and soaking in the Christmas atmosphere.

Me sporting my new scarf from H&M and Dearie wearing her rabbit fur scarf + XXX (pls fill in fashion details)

Rabbit fur scarf from Shanghai, woollen beret from H&M Washington and white coat from Warehouse

Andrew: The dinner that we had at Bouchon was not as impressive, I felt, perhaps due to what I ordered. Dearie, however, enjoyed her salmon rillette a lot!

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Leather jacket from Uniqlo, Polo-T from H&M

Scarf from Edinburgh, peacoat from Topshop

Jasmine: I saw these salmon rillettes on Food Network in Singapore and was so happy when I saw them on the menu! It is essentially just shredded cooked and smoked salmon with butter served in a jar, for you to spread on crispy brown bread. So simple, yet so delish!

Shake Shack

Andrew: Classic case of over-dressing – going to a fast food joint in vest + pants for me and Betsy Johnson dress for Dearie. This was our indulgence after our NYC photo-shoot and we had missed our lunch cos we were too caught up in photo-taking. Think we had quite a few people staring at us. Do note that the temperatures were close to zero on this day!

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Dress from Betsey Johnson Washington, hairband from Christmas market at Bryant Park (a Spanish designer who recycles scrap metal and plastics into accessories)

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Tailored vest from my wedding suit and shirt from POA; hair styled by Jasmine

Andrew: Shake Shack is immensely popular in US and there was a crazy queue almost every time we went. There are many outlets too throughout NYC, so you can’t miss it. It was great comfort food – burgers with juicy patties, melted cheese and greens, cheese fries, and thick milkshakes (or what they call frozen custard)! Not sure if I would queue up again for it, but it was certainly worth trying.

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Chickalicious Dessert Club and Bar

Andrew: This place was recommended by a colleague I met at a department retreat before our trip. It was rather out of the way and we had to walk quite a bit from the train station to find it, but the plus point was that there were no crowds, hence we could just enjoy our lovely desserts. Did some research too prior to going and when you read one long, photo-heavy entry just on the cookies and cream ice-cream alone, there’s no way you can not go to this place. The ice cream certainly didn’t disappoint – just look at those huge cookie chunks – it’s even chunkier and less overwhelmingly sweet than Ben & Jerry’s.  Bring this to Singapore!

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Andrew: The chocolate éclair didn’t disappoint too (and yes, there’s another blog entry I read just on that eclair). The above photos were from the dessert club – just across the street is a more classy version called the dessert bar, where there is only one fixed menu, kind of like a degustation menu and you are served several courses of desserts! Just imagine having desserts being split also into starter, main course and erm… dessert? LOL.

Nanette Lepore blazer from Filene’s Basement Boston (another shopper said, “I’m lazy to try it on but it looks good on you so I’m just gonna buy one”), necklace from Christmas market at Bryant Park, turtleneck from China

Jasmine: Yum yum! I was worried that dessert served in three courses, fine dining style, would be glucose overdose, but it was done just right… and oh my, that crazy ice-cream with the humongous cookie/ cake chunks!

Andrew: Not sure what this was – think it was some kind of apricot tart, but it was good!

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Grey sweater loaned from Jasmine’s brother – thanks Gab!

Greatest buy of the trip [a gift from Dearie!] – industrial watch from Grand Central, which is made of recycled metal and the face is hand-painted, so every watch is different – it’s the only watch I still wear now.

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The petit fours: closest to camera is an almond toasted marshmallow

Andrew: While I don’t recall the specific names of the dishes we ate, I recall that every dish was a hit and not too overwhelming (in terms of taste and portion size). Unfortunately, it wasn’t filling enough, so even after two ‘meals’ of dessert, I still had to go have my ramen! 🙂

Magnolia Bakery @ Bleeker Street

Andrew: We tried really hard to find this place. The cab got lost, so we reached there really late and hungry. Sad to say, we weren’t impressed by the desserts offered and I found cupcakes at Sprinkles and DC cupcakes so much better! There was a long queue still though – wonder why?

Jasmine: Probably because of the name- Magnolia Bakery of Sex and the City fame! I heard that there are tour companies offering SATC-themed tours, with a pit-stop for coffee and cakes at Magnolia Bakery. However, as pretty as the place was, we were let down by pretty much every item we tried- perhaps we ordered the “wrong” things?

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Icebox cake – tasted to me like any regular cake, just more creamy. The cream might have fared better if it had been placed in a chiller for awhile to enhance the sensation of coolness?

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German cupcake with coconut, caramel and pecan, and the classic buttercream cupcake

Andrew: The cupcakes fared better, and the German cupcake was lovely! I still recall we were very hungry after this meal still and because the place was so packed, we had to eat these cakes while standing by the street. The bakery was also in a more upmarket district, which had less food areas, hence we had no other food options. However, shortly after, Dearie discovered a Cynthia Rowley shop and eventually bought a dress from there and her mood immediately picked up for the rest of the day (You’ll see that dress soon).

Cantina Corsino Italiana

Andrew: This was another place we just discovered while watching TV in Yotel. It was featured on Food Network and because it was near High Line, we went there for an early dinner after our romantic stroll 🙂 We needed to have a light dinner as we had our Babbo Christmas Eve dinner booked for that same night at 9.30 p.m. (latest I ever had dinner). It was a really nice place, with great service and the crostinis were perfect for what we needed.

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Nice mix of sweet and savory crostinis 

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Can’t remember all the dishes but the first two were the best – the orange and ricotta cheese as well as olive tapenade! This was our first round of crostinis!

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There you have it – the Cynthia Rowley dress! Paired with a Betsey Johnson belt from Filene’s Basement Boston.

Jasmine: Like Andrew, my favourite was the olive tapenade, which packed quite a flavour punch, and the orange ricotta, coz the tartness of the marmalade contrasted quite well with the mild sweetness of the cheese!  They also change their menu seasonally, so do ask if there’s any special of the day. Great for light bites with a whole bunch of friends.

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Attacking the last two! (Okay, think I didn’t quite nail the savage look in this pic – looks more like staring blankly)

Christmas market

Andrew: I used to frequent the Christmas market every year when in Leeds so I was quite delighted to find one here in NYC. This was at Bryant Park, where we also ice-skated! And for me, I don’t really care about all the Christmas decorations and little ornaments, all I care about is the food!

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Yummy churros!

Jasmine: Maybe I’ve not tried many churros in my life, but this was pretty much perfection for me! Warm, crispy, not too sugary- eating this in the wintry Christmas air while chilling out with my husband was a wonderful way to end the evening.

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Cranberry mulled wine with lemon – this was seriously so good and perfect on a chilly night!

Andrew: As mentioned, NYC brings back so many great memories. There was so much to do there from morning till night and I still haven’t even started talking about the museums we went to, the parks, the historical monuments/areas – that might be our next post! Nonetheless, we’ll definitely be back again!

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The Dylan Diaries: Baby Fashion

Dylan: This post was only a matter of time, given my Mummy’s love for fashion, writing about it, giving advice on it, coaching Daddy to advise salesgirls on what brands to bring in via whatsapp…  you get the idea! In the family, I’m the second-most fashionable now, quickly displacing Daddy. After I was born, Daddy’s fashion has been reduced to whatever’s comfortable for baby-carrying and whatever material poop washes off easily. As for bags, he used to have a variety of outing bags, but now… it’s just the diaper bag, which Mummy claims is very fashionable (good try, Mum):

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There’s just too much to write about, so I’ve decided to categorise this post into a few key collections! (Darn it, I’m good!)

1. The One-piece Collection (aka “Rompers”)

Dylan: Look, my hatred of one-piece suits aka rompers is well documented, but Mummy  likes them coz they show off my fleshy thighs!

Daddy also loves dressing me in rompers, because of the ease of changing – just release a few buttons and there you go! Daddy’s all about functionality – that’s why he’s called D.A.D (Director of Active Diapering)! There are just too many rompers that I have, so I’ll show off some signature pieces:

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This was the very first piece of clothing that Daddy and Mummy bought for me… from Seed Maternity at Sydney Airport! So good at spending money time wisely, those parents…

The colour really accentuates my cheeks!
(Daddy: Son, actually that’s your eczema rash which we spent hundreds of $$ buying creams to get rid of.)

Man, I wasn’t very strong huh – couldn’t even hold up my own neck, let alone eyelids! So much for being super! 

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Hi I’m Dylan! And I drive my parents up the wall… Vroom vrrrroooommm…

Dylan: Weather’s gotten really hot lately though, so rompers don’t really cut it anymore. I need more ventilation now coz I have become so active, running all around. Is that what they mean about fashion in various seasons? Well, the romper season is officially over! On to the next collection!

Oh wait, one more piece:

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My kawaii look in my Jap romper from Shirakawago! It actually doesn’t button up at the crotch anymore… Pretend you didn’t notice.

Tsk… Did somebody machine-wash my delicate fabrics? It’s shrunk!!

(Mummy: Actually, Dilly, you just had a growth spurt, that’s all.)

2. “Ah Beng” Collection

Dylan: I don’t know what an Ah Beng is, but he must be somebody stylish and can stay cool in this hot weather?

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For home wear I like singlets. This trend began when jiu jiu bought me some from Bangkok. These singlets can be really tacky and Daddy wouldn’t be caught wearing any of these, but let’s face it…

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I look sexy in them…

photo(14)So … yay to jiu jiu for buying them for me… I guess.

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Because I’m still too young to cool myself down with a mocha frappe.

Service at Starbucks is so slow these days. I was there posing for a good ten minutes, helping to raise brand awareness to the preschooler market and stuff. The least they could do was offer me a babycino on the house, but no.

Of course the Ah Beng look isn’t complete without this ‘qiao jiao’ (hike your leg up) posture… (Daddy: Actually son, this is more of the ah pek look, and don’t let me catch you doing this in future. You only get away with it now coz you’re so cute!)

IMG-20140512-WA0029 Okay Daddy, I’ll be good… *mopes*

On the more fashionable front, check out my skinny jeans and red-hot singlet!

They’re not very good-quality jeans though. Three months and they’ve shrunk to three-quarter pants:( Let me make a mental note to myself: don’t buy from Fox again.

And the hotter than hotpants alternative… diaper covers! Okay, I’m n0t sure how this fits into the Beng category, but these pants make my butt look so pert!!

This won’t do, this won’t do, neither will this…

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Someone sure is admiring my cute butt in these photos… 🙂

3. Stripey Collection

Dylan: Now this is iconic. Even my uncles (they are ancient, if you must know, they’re in primary school!) know me as Stripey. Mummy says stripes if done nicely can have a slimming effect…

But looks like no stripes can help this chubby face of mine!

Or is it the bad angle? Ok, let’s try this one, and I won’t smile either… Slimmer now, Daddy? What do you mean, no difference? Humph… men.

Seriously though, baby girls have it much easier. Whenever Mummy brings me to the baby boys section, all I have to choose from is stripes, checks and alot of blue. Oh well, when life gives you lemons…

Sometimes Mummy gets in on the act and dresses stripey too. Here we are, the human zebra crossing:

And that’s me camouflaging into Mummy’s dress!

These pics of me and Mummy in stripes get lots of ‘likes’ on Facebook! Daddy has striped clothes too, but he always ends up playing his other ‘D.A.D’ role – Dedicated Art Director, aka photographer.

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I am so committed to stripe-wearing, even my towel is stripey.

4. Winter Collection

Dylan: So we go from minimalist dressing in hot Singapore to my winter collection when we went on family holidays last year… Mummy and Daddy did a photoshoot in Shanghai with me, but actually I was the real star…

Move away Daddy… don’t steal my limelight, thank you very much.

Winter fashion’s fun coz it’s an excuse to dress me up in all sorts of weird attire, such that I end up looking like a ridiculous teddy bear… they even called me ‘Dyla-kuma’… ughs!

 

Another bear cape, but I’m not so fond of it. If I lie down, I look like the bear version of the sheepskin rug. Mind your step.

We were in Suzhou and some stranger actually did a double take and said in Mandarin, “Whoa I thought that was a big stuffed toy!” How insulting. Isn’t it obvious that I’m a baby??

Ooh, stripes again! This pic below is one of my favourite – a stripey family portrait… I wear them stripes on my pants too and this time, Daddy matches stripey me!

My whole outfit above is from H&M! I really dig the velour hoodie but it looks like someone flattened my smelly penguin and pasted him there…

Alright, I’ll have to stop here and not overwhelm everyone. There are still many other collections to write about! After all, when Ee Ee comes back from one trip with all these for me,

I can never run out of clothes to write about! 🙂