Category Archives: Shopping

Bali Birthday! (2013)

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

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

Here are some highlights from this wonderful getaway:

1. Great Restaurants

Breeze at The Semaya

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

IMG_4331Beautiful Dear with our celery amuse bouche

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

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

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Bread, with butter & chives

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Roasted Pumpkin Soup, crispy bacon

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

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

Sardine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Wonderful Villa!

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

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

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

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

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

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Had breakfast at this pavilion on our last morning too!

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And the Balinese entryway and garden!

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

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

3. Great shopping!

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

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

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

Thanks Dear for planning yet another wonderful birthday!

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!

Baby Dior!

Andrew: Because of Dear’s frequent visits to (and purchases from) the Dior outlet in Ion, we got invited to the opening of Baby Dior in Marina Bay Sands!

Jasmine: Nonsense, actually I only own the oui ring which Dear bought for me, and the Diorling handbag which I use daily… or for now, whenever I’m allowed out of the house, that is. I like to think it’s more because I struck up a friendship with Mona, the grande vendoir at Dior Ion, over our admiration for the fantastical designs of Dior jewelry. Her (and Dior salespeople’s) service has been exceptional, inviting us to movie premieres, giving me coffee-table books and now this! In fact, our invitation to the Baby Dior store preview, a French-inspired card, was delivered to our doorstep- how charming and wonderfully old-fashioned!

Andrew: We were really excited because we were informed that Dylan will get to try on some of the clothes and there will be a (free) photoshoot for him. Seriously, how many photo-shoots has this little boy been on? This would be his 5th – and he’s less than 2!

We were greeted with this very pretty display when we arrived – which we later realised wasn’t just for display, but was for us to feast on! More on that later.

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Andrew: I have to say that the service was really top-notch at Baby Dior. They had scheduled us such that there were at most 2 customers during each 2 hour slot and there were at least 10 staff around, giving you your fullest attention – from giving you a tour of the shop, talking about the merchandise, playing with your baby, serving you drinks and food, taking photos. It was a surreal experience, almost dream-like – it was like we had entered a little joy-filled bubble of luxury and pampering!

We were guided through the collection upon arrival and I immediately pointed out this cardigan, which I thought looked really nice. (Jasmine; Was really surprised that Andrew asserted himself so quickly in the area of baby high fashion!) Soon after, the sales associates went to pick out a selection of BabyDior clothes for Dylan to wear, incorporating that cardigan.

Dylan really got royal treatment! He had two sales associates helping him change up, though of course Daddy needed to be around since he was rather afraid… (Mummy was too caught up perusing the girls and newborn clothes with the boutique manager– that she only came in 10 minutes after)

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Poor Dilly!

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Finally all dressed and handsome, silenced by the Woody figurine!

Andrew: This changing room was actually very well-equipped with a full range of toys from Toy Story figurines to a miniature version of Crocodile Dentist – so old-school! I remember playing that when I was young.

They even had a make-up artiste for him – we didn’t want to put any blush on his face, because of his eczema, so what she did was just help style his hair. He looks rather apprehensive here… I have to say though that the staff were extremely patient, bubbly and evidently loved kids. They knew how to handle him well and were all over him, as you will see later when he warmed up. This little boy’s a real charmer!

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The final look! Hope there would be nicer shots taken by the professional photographers…

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Of course, the parents’ father’s needs were not neglected too as there was free flow of drinks – champagne for the dad and juices for mummy. There was also non-stop flow of little sweet treats like lemon meringue tarts, opera cake and dark chocolate tarts.

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Andrew: We initially thought the macarons were just for display, but were later informed that we could consume them and that they were from Laduree! Oh – I didn’t hold back and ate at least 5 of them… the flavours were Liquorices (black), Rose (red with white centre), Raspberry (red with red centre) and Vanilla (white). My favourite was Vanilla, followed by Rose. Dear was still chomping on these macarons, even as we left the store.

Jasmine: The sales associates, as Andrew has said, were exceptional. Not only did they create a lifestyle experience for their adult customers, charming us with little stories about the brand’s heritage and inspiration/ workmanship for the decor and apparel, they managed to entertain Dilly for a full half an hour. Free babysitting by Dior staff leh! We should just go every weekend haha. And us? We just lounged around eating macarons and cakes and for Andrew, drinking champagne. Closet alcoholic!

A picture with just some of the wonderful staff!

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After taking quite a few photos, Dilly started to warm up and became very smiley and happy around the store!

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Rubbing nose with ‘Emilie’ the bunny rabbit

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Stylishly posing next to Gabriel the Bear (apparently Gabriel travels all around the world whenever a new Baby Dior outlet opens!)

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Lovingly patting the dog…

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Jasmine: As you can see, it’s total photo overload but we just couldn’t decide which photos to choose, coz he looked so cute! The outfit is all Baby Dior from head to toe, down to the high-top sneakers- the lovely sales associates offered him costume changes but we declined as he seemed so miserable being stripped. Well, not only did Dilly get his hair volumised and styled by the makeup artist, he also had a photographer following him around, taking photos of him (and us) in different corners of the store.

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Running around the store like it’s his little playground and getting very comfortable with the sales associates! The classical furniture, scaled down to kid size, and oversized stuffed toys, made the store more welcoming for its little customers!

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This sales associate, Ashini, was his favourite! He kept pointing to her and even let her carry him a few times!

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Andrew: Now, I shall leave Dear to give her extensive description of the decor and merchandise. She even wants to adapt certain elements for our home *shudder*.

Jasmine: As with the Taka and Ion flagships, the Baby Dior boutique at Sands is modelled after Christian Dior’s own apartment, and done up in the brand’s sgnature dove gray. However, the Baby Dior boutique is a touch more whimsical and homely. Check out the faux fireplace below:

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And Dior-related mementos on the fireplace panel:

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The store is divided into three main zones, the changing area, which you’ve seen previously, the children’s boutique, and the baby boutique. This is the children’s boutique.

The girls’ clothes feature stunning craftsmanship and (of course) high-quality materials. As Junita, the store manager, was bringing me through the store (or actually, was she following while I excitedly ruffled through the racks? haha), she mentioned that Dior’s philosophy was not to create “mini-mes”, but to adapt Dior designs for little children, that are stylish but still comfortable to move about it. Many of the dresses have alot of swing, which little girls love to twirl in.

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Girls’ couture dresses on display:

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And the baby boutique for younger tots (tip: ask for newborn clothes and blankets, which are nestled in the drawers). I spent a good amount of time admiring the newborn mittens, made of linen and embellished with the most delicate gold lacework I’ve ever seen. Apparently, this century-old lace company used to manufacture lace for European royalty before Dior took ownership.

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The baby boutique area was even cozier and looked like a personal walk-in wardrobe. The faux window supposedly has a view of Granville, where Christian Dior used to stay during summer vacations.

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I fell in love with this little swing dress with a rosebud print, which is Dior’s favourite flower… (But fortunately or unfortunately, sizes only start from 6 months up so I couldn’t buy anything for baby girl!)

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As well as this pink dress with woven silver Lurex thread – the glam version of the rosebud print above! I also really liked the way the pieces were framed, like keepsakes—methinks I can do that with Dilly and baby girl’s special outfits in future, and put them up in Ikea shadowboxes!

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This being Dior, they sweat even the small stuff. The detail on the confetti knob and handcrafted beaded wire hanger are so quaint!

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One more look at my future walk-in wardrobe!

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And a picture with Mona, the lady who made it all possible!

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All baby visitors were given a souvenir (which I’m holding)- a colouring pad of Dior figurines and fashions that you can cut out, colour pencils and organic cookies!

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We were invited to the store’s preview for existing Dior customers. I believe that it has since officially opened its doors to the public. We didn’t buy anything, of course, but it was such an escapist way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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House Tour: Our Bedrooms

Jasmine: So it’s been two years since we moved in, so I thought we should probably photograph our first home for memories’ sake.

I didn’t take pictures at the start because I feel a house needs to be lived in and real. The public areas of our home are still works in progress (Andrew: So when will they stop being work-in-progress??), so I’m just showing the two bedrooms which I am (mostly) done with for now.

We were going for a whimsical fairytale theme. We didn’t have an interior designer as we thought it would be more fun and authentic to do it ourselves- I have seen pictures of ID-led home renovations and I find them too similar, over-designed and with way too many built-ins.

Our Master Bedroom

In architecture, there is a hierarchy of privacy where the most private rooms are accessed last or at the back of the house. However, our master bedroom door was right where this white branch mural used to be, opening onto the living room and very near the front gate. Hence, our first step was to move the doorway further from the front gate.

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This then allowed us to build in a bank of full-height wardrobes. For a seamless feel, we opted to have floor-to-ceiling doors instead of splitting them up- this technology only became available a year before we moved in. Due to space constraints, we wall-mounted our Sony Bravia TV- which can swivel to face the bed or be pushed flat against the wall.

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We fixed the crystals to the chandelier ourselves. (Andrew: Yes, Dearie actually personally conceptualised the design of this chandelier and well, I was just the labourer.) It casts some really nice, almost tree-like shadows on our walls.

We wanted it to be a relaxing sanctuary with hints of a woodlands feel, so we went with this Ikea wrought-iron bed, and lots of lilac.

We saved on a lot of things by sourcing them ourselves, but we wanted a quality mattress and bedsheets, because a good night’s sleep is essential! Thankfully, my uncle got us 40% staff discount off the King Koil mattress, and I usually buy 500-threadcount sheets when they’re on sale, which means a set could cost us just $60 instead of the usual $300. (Andrew: And because there was some credit card offer going on, I got our Ikea bedframe for only $69 dollars! Another great thing about this bed-frame, which Dearie isn’t too pleased about actually, is that it’s so convenient to just ‘hang’ stuff on it, like plastic bags, clothes etc. I’m all for functionality!)

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To ensure a good night’s sleep, blackout blinds are the best but they are pricey to make, so we just chose a dark, opaque curtain, and a coordinating sheer one to further block out the light from the glass door of the bathroom. They are in chocolatey shades to balance the more feminine tones of lilac and white.

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This is my dressing area. It is safe to assume that a bit of tidying up has been done. Haha. I just moved the carpet in last night, and I really love how it is the perfect size for the dressing area (whereas previously in the living room it looked abit lost), and makes it look like a jewel box. It’s hand-loomed from silk, so it’s both plush yet cool underfoot, unlike the chevron rug from Pier21, which feels kinda rough. A wonderful everyday luxury! I was concerned about having a Persian carpet in the house with a baby, much less putting it outside the bathroom where it might get wet, but in the last 18 months it has only been subject to one coffee stain. Carpets are made to withstand a lot more than bathwater and babies, so just go for it! [Andrew: I LOVE that corner now that there’s a carpet in there – it makes that corner have a hotel-like feel. I was even thinking of converting that corner into Dylan’s second play area – only issue is that the ventilation is not so good there.]

The coat rack is from my student days in Edinburgh, Scotland. It functions as a catch-all area with the dustbin, weighing scale and Andrew’s weights below. Ideas for improving this area are welcome!

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When Andrew saw my dressing area, he immediately asked for one of his own… So we hung up a 1940s mirror that we found in New Zealand. The smaller mirror is actually a magnifying mirror and has some storage behind. [Andrew: Unfortunately, I hardly ever use it now because a man’s ‘dressing area’ needs to have a sink nearby and this one is nice, but impractical.]

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Our toilet is quite small.

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We were lucky enough to fit in a carved mirror as well as an oval sink and shower area. I’d love to add a pink mosaic backplash behind the mirror. 

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Shopping list:

Bedframe: Ikea ($69 with Andrew’s credit card!)

Bedlinens: Intero bedsheets, quilt coverlet from Nex

Andrew’s bedside table, Jasmine’s dressing table and mirror, bathroom carved mirror: King & King Wong

Andrew’s boat lamp: Air

Chandelier: Random shop along Balestier

Wall mural and Jasmine’s “book” bedside table: Etsy, with her own books piled on top

Jasmine’s storage stool: Furniture Mall

Persian carpet: Arab Street

Coat rack: Edinburgh, Scotland

Vintage 1940s mirror: Auckland, New Zealand

Dylan’s Nursery

Jasmine: We knew that this would be a children’s room when we moved in, and would have to grow with them, so we deliberately minimised built-in cabinetry and chose the gender-neutral  mint green. I don’t really like to have too many built-ins but prefer to let the space evolve according to our needs, so when we moved in, it was essentially a bare room.

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We opted for a striped wall and slowly bought the rest of the furniture, but still in keeping with the fairytale theme, albeit in a more exuberant color scheme. I trimmed the Roman blinds with turquoise washi tape and slipcovered the rocking chair with an apple-print fabric.

The iPad is not for Dylan to play with, though he tries reaching for it sometimes. It’s strictly used as a lullaby and white noise machine, heh.

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Dylan’s changing station.

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And the wardrobe with two sliding doors, which take up less space than fronted doors. If you look carefully, you can see the subtle glossy swirl finish on the wardrobe. The height chart was designed by Andrew’s boys and goes so well with the decor theme! [Andrew: This was a really great gift from my boys – so meaningful! It’s covered in plastic too, so that we can mark the various height mile-stones. I’ve still been trying really hard to get Dylan to stand by the height chart, so I can take a cute picture of him taking his height, but he just won’t stand still. No wonder they have to take his weight with him lying down in the clinic.]

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Finally, Dylan’s bookshelves. We installed these before I learnt about Montessori and the principle of having toys easily accessible to the child. These shelves hold the children’s pop-up books I’ve collected over the years and other knick-knacks, such as his first gift of baby shoes, a wooden train set from my boss that her son used to play with, his jiu jiu’s beloved Le Petit Prince tile from Vietnam and toothboxes from his man yue cake. [Andrew: Not to forget – a picture of me as a kid, which had been displayed in my house for more than 20 years!]

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I plan to have a children’s table and chairs below these shelves, or maybe a play kitchen set when he and his baby sister are older.

Shopping list:

Crib, light pendant, diaper trolley and book ledges: Ikea

Painting: art market in Bali

Rocking chair and footstool: Mothercare, with custom slipcovers

Beanbag bear: Etsy

Mirrored dresser: King & King Wong

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!

Babymoon @ Shangri-La Valley Wing

Jasmine: With the contractions and risk of early labour, we decided to play safe and not travel out of the country this June hols. However, we still wanted a babymoon to recharge ourselves, so we splurged on a staycation at the Shang!

We were initially booked in for a staycation at the Garden Wing, but upon check-in, we were offered a $75 upgrade to the Valley Wing. Now, Shang has 3 wings, each with its own feel and branding- the Tower Wing is catered to business travellers, the Garden Wing more for couples and families who want a lush oasis in the city, and the Valley Wing is the premier wing, where VVIPs stay, including President Barack Obama.

This was what our package included:

  • Complimentary all day bites and drinks (coffee/ tea/ juices/ wines), including afternoon tea (until 11 p.m.)
  • Breakfast: either international buffet at The Line or fine dining at Summit Room
  • Champagne, cocktails and canapes from 5-7 pm
  • $50 dining credit, to be used at any of the Shang restaurants or for room service
  • Hourly shuttle to and from Orchard Road

Enough explanation… We’ll let the pictures do the talking!

Our Room

Our room was the most spacious one in  its category, located on the 12th floor with a view of the pool and small putting green.image

View from our room of the Garden Wing, where we almost stayed

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A well-stocked stationery drawer for business executives e.g. not us…

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The room even had a dressing area with lit vanity!  

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A walk-in wardrobe area leading to the bathroom

IMG_5706 Andrew walked into my walk-in wardrobe picture…

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And the marble-clad bathroom, which my photograph does not do justice to.

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Exclusive to the Valley Wing: L’occitane toiletries. The bathrobes are also monogrammed with VW for Valley Wing.

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All day bites

Jasmine: What a wonderfully pampering concept. We both agreed that our $75 upgrade was well spent as we had breakfast, two lunches (actually afternoon teas) and dinner (actually cocktails and canape hour) there! (Our original package at the Garden Wing would have included international breakfast buffet only but not the fine dining breakfast option that we took at the Valley Wing).

Andrew: Now, when the receptionist offered us the upgrade and told us there will be all day ‘snacks’, I was thinking of chips, chocolates and the likes – little did I know that their snacks would be things like tarts, cakes, free flow sandwiches etc. I even asked a swa-koo question of whether the snacks would be in the room. Needless to say, I was a very happy man!

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Jasmine: All our meals were served at the wonderful Summit Room, which I really liked, because it was stately and yet calming at the same time. A circular room provides better flow, and half the room was done up in Chinoiserie panelling, while the other half had floor-to-ceiling windows which opened up onto a view of the greenery and pool. I entertained the thought of a small 10th wedding anniversary celebration here (Andrew: She’s completed her planning for the 5th wedding anniversary and gone on to planning the 10th…), but was told by our kindly waiter that this room is not bookable for events, it’s only used as a breakfast room for Valley Wing guests. That’s how exclusive it is… sigh.

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We opted for the fine dining breakfast option at the Summit Room as we had experienced international breakfast buffets elsewhere…

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In addition to the healthy buffet spread (this pic below shows less than half of it), we could also place orders for anything we wanted.

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Andrew: The rest of the breakfast buffet was the usual croissants, breads and muffins, which obviously we didn’t want to waste our stomach space for, since we had free flow cooked breakfast options! There were so many things to choose from the menu that we were spoiled for choice.

Jasmine: We designed our own three course breakfast menu. First course, appetizers of ricotta cheese with wild honey and some of the sweetest, fleshiest mangoes we’ve tasted (props to our wonderful waiter who also suggested seasonal dishes and foods that weren’t on the menu)…

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Second course, Eggs Benedict (but you can choose any style, really), which we could add an unlimited number of sides to, such as the tomato polenta cake, asparagus, tomatoes on the vine, portobello mushrooms and hashbrown. I also had a milk-fed cod fillet on the side (right), while Andrew had both a lamb chop and filet mignon (left)! (Andrew: You know it’s a super luxurious break when you have lamb chops and steak for breakfast! The waiter was even tempting me to get more meat! Honestly speaking though, the eggs benedict was only so-so. Fullerton’ Bay’s ones were much better, but I’m not complaining!)

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Third course, french toast with caramelised pears for Andrew and banana waffles for me (I requested a half portion as I was too stuffed at this point)!

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Andrew: I was completely stuffed by the end of this meal, but I just had to have French toast. Wonder if dads also get cravings during their wife’s pregnancies… Heh. (Jasmine: That’s fine, but nobody’s sending me out to buy French toast for you!)

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Jasmine: We of course also had both hot and cold drinks to wash all this rich food down- cafe latte and freshly-squeezed watermelon juice for Andrew, and ginger honey tea and iced chocolate for me!

Andrew: One thing I’d also have to add about the experience at the Summit Room was the great service! The service staff were attentive and friendly, very willing to customise the dishes to our preferences and suggesting good dishes for us. They would go up to you once you’d finished getting your stuff at the buffet and help bring your plate to the table. They also actively engaged us in conversation and made us feel very relaxed and well taken care of.  I really have to say that it’s great service that makes all the difference!

Service at Shang in general is top-notch – the lady who served us at the Garden Wing was also very friendly and personable, offering us free flow of their welcome tea (apple and osmanthus), which Dearie gladly took. Compared to the other hotels we’d stayed in, I’d say this was the best service we have experienced so far.  (Jasmine: completely agree, even the receptionist who did our check-out seemed so genuinely apologetic when I told her that I wished the hotel would have a selection of pregnancy pillows. She even rushed out to bid us farewell when Andrew drove up.)

Jasmine: We also did not one but two afternoon teas there.

We could help ourselves to all day bites from the bar, which included fig lychee tart, cranberry oatmeal cookies, an assortment of Shangri-la truffles (I kept going back for the crispy ones) and chocolate cake…

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And our very own (refillable) afternoon tea cake set. Warm, buttery scones with clotted cream, berry jam and marmalade were also served separately.

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I also had peppermint tea and mango juice, while Andrew had champagne… Seriously, who drinks champagne at 2pm?? Only at the Shang!

Result: happy like bird!

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Finally, cocktails and canapes! Also note the intricate Chinoiserie panelling- a wonderful nod to Shang’s tradition of fine Asian hospitality, the most important aspect of which is pampering their guests with food! I also overheard the receptionist say that Singapore’s Shangri-La is the very first in the world and is 43 years old, but I guess glamorous opulence never goes out of fashion…

Now, the only other place we have had Club privileges at was Hotel Intercontinental, which trust me, had nothing on Shangri-La in terms of their cocktail hour. We did not expect such a variety of sweet and savoury canapes…

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In addition, the waiters served hot snacks from the kitchen, such as mini beef rendang pies, mini fish fingers and chicken buns. My personal favourites, though, were the cream cheese and chive choux puffs, and the chocolate-encased lemon meringue tart.

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Andrew: This was my first platter below…

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Roasted beef with Asparagus Rey Crouton, Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese on Pumpernickel, Smokced Chorizo Cornichorn on Farmer Bread and Herb Cream Cheese Choux

I loved loved loved the cream cheese choux so much that I went back for more, even while they were clearing the trays. Such a tasty yet light and healthy spread. I could definitely have done with one more day of such pampering.

Jasmine: Cocktail-wise, I couldn’t take alcohol, but the waiter mixed up Shangri-La’s signature Lily of the Valley drink for me. He was quite secretive about the ingredients, so I had to ask him twice, but he told me it includes guava, lemon, mango juice and a dash of grenadine syrup! Very nice tropical drink- slightly bitter edge but light and refreshing!

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We’ve been to Fullerton Bay and St Regis and enjoyed their live pianists… But of course Shang had to top them all by having… a HARPIST. I felt like I was in heaven.

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We actually just wanted to grab a few quick snacks before heading off for our dinner reservation at Salt Grill, but the cocktail and canape spread was so extensive that we ended up eating “dinner” there and cancelling our reservation! In fact, as the bar closes at 11pm, we also came back after our shopping trip for a second Lily of the Valley for me and pinot noir for Andrew!

And for those who were wondering, this is the other international buffet breakfast option at The Line (note: we didn’t actually eat there but just strolled through it)…

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Buns and bread baking right before our eyes!

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And a variety of gelatos, ice creams and toppings for those of us with a sweet tooth! For breakfast, they varied it and used this ice-cream counter for their yoghurts and bircher muesli. Creative!

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$50 dining credit

Andrew: We were hoping to use the dining credit for in-room dining, but turns out most of the dishes there didn’t look too appetizing and grossly over-priced. I wasn’t going to pay $18 for a mushroom soup… So, with our $50 dining credit, we went to The Line bakery!

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Jasmine: Nope, we didn’t buy this penguin cake for Dylan, who was doing his own staycation at the Skang (Granny’s house in Sengkang, which also offers all day bites of free flow muffins and milk, plus live pianists aka Ee Ee)…

Just ordered a couple cakes, a sausage roll, frozen berry yoghurt and a box of 12 chocolates for my family…

IMG-20140609-WA0024Chocolates from Shang, paired with Ben & Jerry’s 

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The pomme cake was our favourite- it was their cake of the month, a cross between a cake and a tart, made of stewed apples sandwiched between layers of mascarpone cheese. Surprisingly, it was light and zesty!

Andrew: Unfortunately the rest of the pastries/cakes were rather typical, but we’re not complaining since we got to use our credit. They do seem to do rather good personalised cakes though!

Facilities

Jasmine: We also booked a pregnancy massage for me at the famed Chi Spa while Andrew used the gym facilities.

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Actually, Chi Spa does not offer prenatal massage, but they customised one for me based on a light Swedish massage. Ask and you shall receive…

This was one of their massage rooms.

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And after the massage, the therapist brought me to their Relaxing Lounge, gave me warm ginger tea, spread a blanket and told me to rest as long as I wanted. It was absolute bliss. After spending the 90-min massage awake and visualising renovations, I could just feel my mind emptying out and de-stressing in this lounge. Heh.

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Andrew: The gym was huge, with a wide range of machines and weights not seen even in the more luxurious hotels we’ve stayed in, who honestly often place very low emphasis on the gyms. The gyms at Raffles Hotel and Fullerton Bay were tiny and ill-equipped. This gym at Shang had equipment I’d not seen in other gyms like kettle bells, elliptical trainers, indoor rower, weights machines targeting the obliques etc. You name it, they have it! And even with all this, it was very spacious.

Shopping

Jasmine: And since we were only 10 min drive from Orchard, we just had to squeeze in a bit of shopping for the family!

Some Eric Carle books for Dilly and a pair of Fred Perry shoes for Andrew (he made some excuse about there being a 20% off with my credit card so I paid for that)…

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Jasmine: And I was looking for a bag as my previous had given way a month ago and I was still trying to make do by knotting the strap onto the bag…

All my bags are under $200 and I typically carry one bag, everyday, for months until it breaks. So this time I really wanted to indulge in a high-end designer bag that would last for years.

I checked Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and finally wandered into Dior, where I bought this Diorling bag in less than an hour. (Andrew: Am always surprised at how decisive Dearie is when it comes to shopping.)

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Hrmm.. I know these are signature to the brand but I don’t care much for the letter charms that spell Dior. Ah well, I suppose it will be useful as a travel sensory toy for Dylan.

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The wonderful salespeople, James and Mona, also happened to be the same lady and gentlemen who served us last year when we bought the Dior Oui ring, and they recognised us this time! The last time, Mona, the Grand Vendoir of the Dior boutique at Ion, actually showed me a coffee-table book and regaled me with stories about Dior’s stunning jewelry designs and her trip to Paris to meet the designer, Victoire de Castellane! This time, she gave me two coffee-table books about Dior jewelry and invited us to the opening of the Baby Dior boutique at MBS! You can’t get these books in Singapore, even if you tried, and on Amazon the blue book retails for $75 USD! What a wonderful gift!

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I know I don’t look great here but since I have been so lax in taking bump pix, here is one of me at 33 weeks pregnant. Although this Diorling bag is small, it’s made of butter-soft calfskin, and has three compartments, which are roomy enough to fit all my stuff. I also love the candy pink colour and am surprised that the colour somehow seems to match most of my outfits, perhaps thanks to the bag’s contrasting neutral sides!

Ending with a selfie of us!

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Hands down, the most indulgent staycation ever!

Andrew: What I really enjoyed and appreciated was the quality time with Dearie. At home now with our dear son Dilly, we barely have much time to set aside to just talk and spend time with each other. After Dilly goes to bed, I’m sometimes so tired that I also can’t focus on having a proper conversation with her. This Shang staycation was so perfect as it gave us so much time, in such luxurious and relaxing settings that we could just have great connection time, talking about geeky topics like politics and all. Indeed, the best staycation ever!

Hiding in Full View: Storage and Home Organisation for our 4-Room Flat

[Andrew: I was telling Dear that this blog post title is one of the geekiest ever – resembling almost one of this journal articles I would read!]

Jasmine: Nesting instinct –or that time in the pregnancy when you just suddenly want to declutter, pack and get everything neat and tidy for baby’s arrival– has really kicked in. [Andrew: Okay, I generally approve of this instinct – it’s better than your ‘craving’ instincts which get me out of the house at 10 p.m. to buy Magnum.]

Many of these ideas date back to when we first moved in or when I was expecting Dylan, and since they have served us well, I thought it might be worth devoting an entire geeky post to. I’m not the most organized person around (just ask my mum!) [Andrew: Or ask me – Dearie’s definitely not the neatest person around, but she’s more organized than me, especially when it comes to the house. She’s been bugging me for ages to get my bed-side table organized, and even offered to buy organizer for that – but I don’t see the point!], but ever since moving into a place of my own, I’ve tried to be neater. One thing that helps me is having a storage system, so that all I need to do is buy the storage and put it there, and put things back in the same place every time!

Kitchen

We try to keep our kitchen neat by keeping counters clutter-free. This is only possible by maximizing our storage space. Here, we take a leaf from HDB and… go vertical!

This three-tiered stand makes it easy to see and reach for sauce/ spice bottles at the back of the cabinet.

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These Daiso shelves can be used alone for smaller plates…

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Or stacked. I spent a happy hour today while Dyl was napping, packing all the milk bottles we used last round for freezing expressed milk.

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Another completely underused area for storage is cabinet doors. Yep, doors! I got these stick-on towel grabbers from Amazon years ago. You can just drape a dishtowel on it without it needing a loop, and of course, sticking this behind a door removes more clutter from your counter-tops.

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This Daiso plate stand also doubles as a chopping board holder… can’t believe I got this idea from Buzzfeed of all places!

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An under-sink storage system (a splurge at $36, which I had been eyeing for over a year, and finally got from Howard’s Storage World when it finally went on sale!) also doubles storage in a tricky space by working around the plumbing. To make way for the plumbing, simply shift or remove one of the white shelf parts. The shelving is also extendable and height-adjustable, so I raised the lower level high enough to fit pot lids and flatter pans underneath.

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My buying philosophy is pragmatic: most value for money (rather than cheapest) wins. If i can get it from Daiso/Ikea/Amazon cheaper and it does the job just as well, I will. But in some cases, Howard’s has cornered the market with some unique offerings that can’t be bought anywhere else, such as this under-sink storage system, so the best is to wait impatiently and snap it up when it goes on sale.

A final goodie from Daiso… a mini whiteboard for my helper to write down items we are running low on, so that I can factor them in when planning groceries for the week. Please do not be as mean as Andrew and laugh at her spelling. That being said, we should probably try to value-add to her during her time with us, by helping her with English! [Andrew: To be fair, I was laughing not at her spelling, but at the fact that you chose to put up a picture of this – which strictly isn’t even a storage solution! Note that this post has been pared down – Dear even wanted to put in photos of our shoeracks and key holders.]

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Close the cupboard doors, and this is what our kitchen looks like. Do excuse the poor-quality iPhone photos, I hastily snapped them to show how our countertops look by the end of the night.

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Bedrooms

One of our niftiest hacks was to Velcro fabric panels under our bookshelves. One panel is for Dilly to play hide-and-seek, but the other is for keeping large but infrequently-used items out of sight, like Mum’s overnight bag, birdcages and fan.

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Release the curtain and the mess disappears. Haha.

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For all the bric-a-brac that a home inevitably accumulates, we bought these Ikea boxes and labeled them with their contents e.g. red packets, pens and markers. It’s been two years since we got them, and we’ve managed to keep the right things in the right boxes… Mostly!

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For small items, we –attempt- to keep things organized by using all sorts of drawer dividers.

This “picket fence” one is customizable, just measure out how much you want and break off the excess. It’s that simple. We got ours from Howard’s at $8 (enough to use for this whole sock drawer) but after realising that Daiso sells them too, we’ve switched allegiances. [Andrew: Okay, I’ll have to admit that this was pretty useful or else my socks would just be strewn all around in a disorganised manner. I should make it even more organised by designating certain compartments for exercise socks, work socks, outing socks etc.]

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This is my makeup drawer. While I’ve used a variety of containers to corral my stuff, I’d really like to point out the round holder for lipsticks and makeup brushes. At only $2 from Daiso, I’ve had it for many years and it is arguably my best storage buy ever. In comparison, Howard’s sells it for $14 so you know where to go:p

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On top of the dresser, we’ve got two more containers from Howard’s, which i haven’t seen in any other store. I love acrylic because it’s stylish, takes up little visual space and allows you to see everything that you have at one glance. Since becoming a mum, I officially have no time to blowdry my hair anymore, so my roomy hairdryer organizer now stashes all my skincare.

This other concentric container for cotton buds in the centre and cotton wool in the periphery is genius. I first saw this when we were staying at De Brett Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, and was so happy to chance upon it at Howard’s. I like that it keeps the two kinds of items separate, yet next to each other, since you use both when removing makeup anyways.

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More dividers, this time from King and King Wong, a furniture store at Nex which has since sadly closed down. These are in the nursery, and for only $3 apiece, they’ve certainly been value for money. They can hold so many baby clothes rolled up! Just count how many pieces have been stuffed in! Oh yes, and my jetsetting fashionista friends would already know that rolling and folding clothes takes up much less space than hanging them.

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Another container from Boon, which is slanted for easier access and visibility. We use it for baby’s medicines and grooming products. [Andrew: Actually this Boon container is originally intended for wall-mounting, you can take whatever you need conveniently.] Next to it is a practical life tray (actually a Cathay Pacific freebie for his in-flight baby food) that I’m thinking of starting for Dilly that will consist of his hairbrush and toothbrush. In the future, I imagine that we will repurpose the Boon container for art or school supplies- it can also be wall-mounted at that point.

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Storeroom and toilets

What would we do without the storeroom? We were contemplating hacking it to enlarge the nursery, but my mum persuaded us to keep it, and I’m SO glad we did. Even if we had supersized storage, it would not be as convenient as having a room to chuck all the ugly, bulky stuff in!

Andrew assembled our floor-to-ceiling shelves himself (his pet project, which he is still very proud of- it’s his major contribution to our home heheh), but what I want to show you is how we utilized the remaining wall and door space…

[Andrew: Yes, the shelves were amazing because they almost doubled/tripled the amount of storage space we had there. I went to buy one, but I saw that our storeroom could do with another, so I drove all the way back to get another one. Never regretted these shelves! We got them directly from the supplier – Jin Yu Trading – at a significantly better price than Howard’s, who sells the same shelves, but obviously marked up significantly!]

An over-the-door iron organizer, again from Howard’s for $15. I generally veer away from over-the-door hanging caddies, as you can see the edge of the caddy over the door, but I figured that as this was in my entryway which people walk right through anyway, no one would notice.

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And a vacuum/ broom wall organizer from Howard’s for $19. This is the only item featured in this post which had to be drilled into the wall. Thankfully our trusty contractor Mr Poh helped us install it for free!

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Finally, a caddy from King and King Wong, which we use for toilet cleaning supplies. I was inspired when I saw housekeeping services in hotels carting all their supplies around! My domestic helper brings this downsized version from room to room when she is cleaning our bathroom, so I guess it comes in useful?

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The house is not perfect by any means, of course, and I can only imagine it getting messier with baby girl’s arrival! I still need to re-organise our guest bathroom and Andrew’s bedside table, which is the stuff of nightmares! [Andrew: You won’t give up – will you! and indeed she doesn’t – as you will see in the next post.]

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!

Green Toys Submarine and Dump Truck: Product Reviews

Jasmine: I love toys (probably more so than Dylan!!) but we all know that toy production has a harmful impact on the environment, with the waste generated, toxic by-products and also the BPAs and phthalates in some plastic toys which could pose a danger to kids.

I was excited when my endless hours of aimlessly surfing Amazon  toy research  led me to this company, Green Toys, which makes toys out of 100% recycled milk jugs. According to their website, every pound of recycled milk jugs saves enough electricity to power a TV for 3 weeks or a laptop for a month! (Andrew: Btw, every ‘green toy’ we buy is sufficient to power the electricity in our house for 3 days, based on our current electricity bill.)

And not to mention, the entertainment value of the toys was highly rated on Amazon, so when a Green Toys sale came up at Motherswork, I just had to get a couple of toys!

Andrew: Oh man, I thought usually it’s the parents who have to stop the kids from buying more toys! Looks like I’d be alone on this in future. Dearie even commented after leaving the toy shop that we should bring Dylan here some day in future, to which I told her, “You never bring a kid to a toy-shop, because you’ll end up with him wanting to buy everything.”

Submarine

Jasmine: As you know, all Dylan’s bath toys are gifted so this was the first bath toy we got for him. I like that it has so many possibilities in water- it can float when empty, sink when filled with water and has a handy handle and wide spout for pouring!

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Dilly didn’t quite enjoy being ‘rinsed’ with it today and kept wincing and closing his eyes, even trying to climb out of the bath-tub. Heh.

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However, he liked spinning the movable propellers, which rotate underwater. 

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The top of the sub also lifts off so you can put toy figurines in, for more imaginative play! This seems like a great unisex toy, and at just $13 on sale, would be ideal for a birthday gift!

Dump Truck

Andrew: I still remember when I was a kid, one of my favourite toys was a big yellow dump truck! It had a handle by the side, which you could use to tip the dump and I had endless hours of fun with it, pushing it around and loading it with Lego blocks. Occasionally, we would also recreate destruction scenes, where we would specially create a nice house/building using Lego and then ram the whole dump truck through it! LOL. This is the kind of game boys love to play. Anyway, on to Dylan’s toys…

Jasmine: We were deciding between this and the recycling truck, which would be great for inculcating eco-friendliness in kids (one mum blogger wrote that her children had “recycled” every piece of scrap paper in the house by end of the week!). However, we thought that a dump truck would be a classic for both boys and girls, and it could hold many of his toys, such as his little collection of balls:

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Dylan can also tilt the dump bed to empty out whatever’s inside. I can imagine that this is a toy that will grow with him, and will be perfect for sand play. The wheels are super large so they run well both indoors and I presume outdoors too.

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However, what he really enjoyed was our little tweak to the truck- adding Daddy’s belt to convert it into a pull toy.

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Because of the way the belt was positioned, Dilly couldn’t quite steer the truck right, so Andrew improvised again, taping our measuring tape to the truck.

Andrew: First of all Dear, please do not use my accessories/clothes as toys for Dylan. Next thing I know I’ll find my cuff-links dumped in a tupperware of rice as part of your ‘treasure hunt’ activity. Secondly, you clearly have no idea how pull toys work (or any basic sense of motion)! Basically, Dear had attached my belt in such a way that the truck would be pulled sideways, which goes in a completely opposite direction to its wheels… Let a man do it…

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Jasmine: Tip for all wives, if you want your husband to be involved, make sure you do it wrongly so he will feel compelled to “fix it”. Darnit I’m good!

And off Dilly went!

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Jasmine: He had fun pulling along various things in his dump truck, such as the balls, books, diapers (the clean ones) and even… smelly penguin.Which sadly he did not dump.

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Dylan has been playing with the dump truck for the better part of this afternoon and night, so we are now going to box it up and keep it until his little sister is born, then present it to him as a gift from his sister! My mum says I shouldn’t be a cheapo and that I will most likely end up buying more toys since I’ve been put on yet another week of bedrest –_-