Category Archives: Vacations

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!

10 Tips for Travelling with a Baby

Andrew: In addition to being the most photographed baby, our little boy is probably one of the most well-travelled babies too, having gone to 3 countries even before he is 1 – Bali, Shanghai and Taipei (Jas, her mum and sis went with Dilly when I was on reservist). And that’s not including Tasmania, which he went to when he was still inside Jasmine. Heh.

Having travelled so frequently, we thought we’d  share a few tips we’ve learnt (many the hard way) over the past few trips. We’d have to caution though that these were tips that worked for us and for Dilly; but nonetheless, we think they could be useful for most parents.

1. NEVER choose a connecting flight if there’s a direct flight available.

Andrew: We learnt this the really hard way when we went to Shanghai. In trying to seize the cheaper tickets, we chose a flight that left at the break of dawn (around 4 a.m.), which had a stopover in Hong Kong and then reached Shanghai around 5 p.m. the next day – that’s almost 12 hours of travelling and lots of movement across different modes of transport.

Dillie was still calm and happy during the first leg of the journey as you can see below (especially since that was Mummy’s seat he koped, while Mummy sat on the floor):

20131121_100850 …. but by the time we reached our second connecting flight, he was so cranky. The flight back was worse, because there was only a thirty minute allowance between flights, which of course meant we missed it and had to wait almost 2 hours for the next flight. At the end of it all, we were spent and exhausted. No more connecting flights for us!

At least we had the option of unrolling the Supermat in transit so that Dilly could stretch his legs.

 

2. Request the bulkhead seats- don’t assume the airline will just assign you one.

Jasmine: I had to email both the Cathay general reservations desk and the Cathay Singapore office to ensure that we got the bulkhead (front row) seats. These come with a bassinet upon request and of course, more leg room, for all the baby stuff you have to bring on board. At times, you may even wind up sitting on the floor while baby takes your seat.

However, there were a couple legs where despite our request, they squashed us in some middle seat, and even when the flight attendants asked people (middle-aged, no kids) in the front row to exchange seats with us, they wouldn’t. I made sure to walk Dilly near them whenever he cried. Hmph.

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At least they gave us a little bag consisting of diaper and some Mustela samples, for diaper changes on the fly. The white dish came with the Heinz baby meals (more on that in point 4) and was quite useful for holding stuff or, um, as a toy.

3. Bring an old favourite or new toy while travelling. This will keep baby occupied and quiet, especially during takeoff or landing.

Jasmine: We brought Dilly’s penguin (it was less smelly then) and favourite electronic book, which was a lifesaver on flights. Nursing him during takeoff (or giving a pacifier) also helped him regulate the popping of his ears. If you have enough luggage space, bring one hand-carry specially for baby’s stuff. You can put it close to you and it makes it easier to find baby things in a jiffy.

4. Bring a nursing cover or enough expressed milk.

Jasmine: Taipei was outstandingly breastfeeding-supportive, with nursing rooms in every Metro station in the city centre and shopping malls.

Nursing rooms with change stations, sinks, bin, chairs and water dispensers in Taipei Metro stations

However, most places we went to did not have such facilities, so the nursing cover was very handy (with manual ventilation).

IMG_4484In addition, I made the mistake of not bringing enough expressed milk to Bali, thinking I would be able to express enough. However, I did not factor in that with the amount of time spent outdoors and the considerable energy needed to care for baby overseas, I would not be able to produce enough on that trip, even though I squeezed in three pumping sessions a day. Thankfully, what we had brought (plus direct latching on demand) was just enough for Dilly.

Also, when passing through customs, always hand-carry your breast pump and your milk. Tell customs officials that this is human milk and CANNOT go through the x-ray machine (the x-ray will breakdown the delicate composition of breastmilk). Request a visual check instead- if you are adamant enough, officials will relent.

5. If your baby can eat solids, also pack enough food.

Food-wise , airlines will only provide jars of baby food for the flight.  One look at the ingredient labels (first ingredient: sugar) and we threw the Heinz bottles away. In fact, I drank up the baby apple juice. If pre-processed baby food’s not your thing, do prepare enough of your own.

We actually thought that Dilly would be able to eat the noodles and porridge in Shanghai and Taipei, but he didn’t like the taste compared to the freshly-made ones at home- the plain congee was too bland while the savoury ones with century egg etc were out of the question. Thankfully, he was still getting most of his nutritional intake from breastmilk then.

We’re not sure what we would do now, when at least half his dietary intake comes from homemade porridge and breakfast foods like ABC muffins and blueberry pancakes. I’m also not a fan of those sachets of baby foods, even if they are organic and sugar-free, as I prefer giving whole, fresh table foods.

Bring a full body bib along to minimise mess!

6. Carriers and slings make better travelling companions, as compared to strollers.

Andrew: Unless you’re driving, we’d strongly recommend carriers and strollers. We did see some couples pushing their strollers through the crowded Bali markets though, and I admire them for their courage, but the carrier is such a life-saver. It’s light-weight, versatile and if you buy the Ergo one, it’s actually not too hot. We put him in the carrier when we were at the Tagalallang rice paddies and Dylan managed to fall asleep! Of course, it’s also for the sense of security, knowing that your baby is right next to you (in fact, right on you.)

If anything, it could make for a nice stylish photo, like the one below:

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Of course, when we were desperate and tired of carrying him, dumping him on the airport trolley had its benefits…

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While waiting for our flight at Shanghai Pudong Int’l Airport

 But nothing beats our very own Changi Airport for world-class amenities, including child-friendly facilities!

7. Prepare adequately for bath-time.

Andrew: We learnt this the hard way when we went to Bali – we forgot to bring his moisturizer (which was very important cos his eczema was bad then) and he was so terrified by the big bath-tub and shower (we tried both). Bathing, which he usually enjoys, became such a scary time for him. Even when I tried lowering him in the bath-tub with me, he would scream.

The next trip to Shanghai – we wisened up and bought this cheap, make-shift – but very cheery inflatable bathtub for him and all turned out well:

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The only thing with using the bath-tub is – you need to have enough qi to blow it!

We three clever ladies didn’t have enough breath to inflate the bathtub in Taipei so we bathed baby in the sink. Next day, we got the lovely hotel staff to blow it up with a balloon pump.

 Look at how relaxed this baby is!

8. Be prepared to improvise on sleeping arrangements

Jasmine: This may seem obvious, but prior to booking, check if the hotels offer cribs. Our Bali and Shanghai hotels did but we elected to have Dilly share a queen-sized bed with my mum.

In Taipei, we booked a family room with two king-size beds (which didn’t actually cost much more than a standard room with just one bed) so Dilly slept with me, which made it much easier to breastfeed at night.

Dylan staring out from behind chairs, which Ee Ee used as a barricade to prevent him from falling

Bring some comfort items from home so that the space will seem more familiar to baby, helping him to get adjusted to the new room faster. For Dylan, we brought his penguin (as if we had a choice haha), a blanket, to be used as a bedspread and his swaddle cloth, so the scent would remind him of home.

9. Plan a relaxed, well-spaced out itinerary.

Andrew: During our honeymoon, we could cover 4 attractions which were quite far apart in a single day, travelling from 11 a.m to almost 11 p.m. Obviously, you can’t do this with baby.

Usually travelling with a baby involves just 1 or 2 major locations a day, with plenty of time in between for feeding, diaper changing, getting baby to nap properly and just resting  – for mummy and daddy too, because traveling with a baby is tiring.

Be flexible and prepared to go back earlier if needed. We ordered room service or had meals delivered in on quite a few occasions, just because it’d be too much trouble dining with baby outdoors, especially before baby could really sit up without support in Bali, or if we were not sure if restaurants had high chairs.

Dilly saw all the supper snacks we bought back from Ningxia Night Market and started smiling and crawling towards Ee Ee, who took this photo… but all he got was milk!

Just enjoy the quality family time and not be overly concerned about ticking off the check-list or ensuring that you’ve covered everywhere comprehensively.

Jasmine: When planning itineraries, I also research  notable restaurants that are near the destinations using Google Maps and online distance calculators, and cross-check customer reviews on Tripadvisor to ensure that they were baby-friendly. Once in the country, we would also call a day in advance to make reservations and request a high chair if needed.

Us at the original Din Tai Feng restaurant in Taipei, with Dilly sitting on the xiaolongbao mascot!

Us at the Hello Kitty restaurant in Taipei! Thanks to Charlene for all the Taipei pix in this entry!

Overall, I’d still say we managed to cover most places we wanted to go to… and of course, get a good amount of shopping in!

10. Just do it!

Andrew: Many parents hesitate when it comes to travelling, especially with a baby – worrying about health concerns, stress, baby crying on the airplane. Well, we experienced all that too – Dylan wailed like mad on the flight back and almost nobody wanted to sit near us. It was like the parting of the red sea, where the seats next to us slowly emptied out. (Jasmine: Oh yeah… we now say that if you’re a REAL parent if you’ve flown with a wailing baby!) It was tiring, in Shanghai especially, because Dylan couldn’t quite adjust to sleeping there and kept waking up through the night. However, we don’t regret traveling with baby one bit!

Yes, he won’t remember anything – but we will and we have many lovely photos to remember it by too and stories to share. All the trips with baby also involved other family members, so that was quality family bonding time too.

With my dad at Humble Ambassadors’ Garden

Tips for Outdoor Photoshoots

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Based on point 1, plan your outfits to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From outside… to inside!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Or a Metro sign…

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

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

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

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A humongous lit-up fir tree at the Public Library

And place…

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Outdoor decorations at a Christmas market

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shanghai Family Shoot

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

Preparations and Logistics

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

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

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

At our Art Deco hotel, the Yangtze Boutique Hotel:

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

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

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

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At Nanjing Lu

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

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

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

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

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

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At 1933 (an Art Deco slaughterhouse)

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

The facade alone was stunning in its geometric patterns:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYC Again – Subway Art!

Andrew: As mentioned earlier, there’s just too much to blog about NYC until Dearie gave me the idea to blog about the subway art that we had seen! Interestingly enough, we had also been sufficiently impressed by the art that we have a significant collection of photographs with the subway art.

Jasmine: I’ve always thought that entrances are so important yet so underrated, whether it’s a hotel reception, or a front page for a website, or the window display for a store. It sets the tone for what the visitor can expect, and when done well, serves as a portal into a different frame of mind.

That’s why I really liked how site- and context-specific some of these art pieces were, with deep respect for the historical purpose of the neighbourhood served by the subway. 

I understand that our very own Circle Line has some site-specific installations too, but as I’ve never quite paid attention to them (or perhaps the meanings are too obscure for me), I can’t quite comment. That’s a shame, considering I take Circle Line to work daily, but then again, my objective is standing around looking as pregnant as possible so that some kind soul gives up his seat for me. Heh.

Andrew: I have blogged about the Circle Line art in my own blog in two parts – Part 1 on Marymount Station and Part 2 on Dakota Station. Though not all pieces were successful, I applaud the efforts and look forward to more of this in our subsequent MRT lines! There’s so much room for artistic expression, that is linked to culture, history and location, in Singapore.

Here’s our collection of noteworthy photographs of Subway art in NYC. I’d like to add that what was significantly different about the NYC pieces was the element of interactivity and play to them – subway users could actually be ‘part’ of the art pieces and have fun with them! They actually have NYC Subway Art tours, which we might sign up for the next time we go.

MTA Arts for Transit, For Want of a Nail, at 81st Street – Museum of Natural History Station

Jasmine: On entrances, I thought that this was a great way to “welcome” one to the American Museum of Natural History. Some might say it is quite literal, embedding mosaics of insects on the subway walls, but it was perfect as subway art, which I feel should be accessible above all else. After all, commuters walk past hurriedly in seconds and won’t have time to register art that is too subtle. Therefore, to me, subway art needs to be simple yet visually arresting- nothing too deep or profound, as the subway is not the destination in itself but the gateway to one.

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Andrew: Yes, this photograph on facebook had some people commenting that I actually had a ‘fun’ side. LOL. Of course I do!

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Jasmine: What a beautiful, unexpected corner in the station! A train had just gone past, hence I was trying to catch my hair. In person, the 3D effect of the raised mosaics was stunning too.

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Andrew: We were actually in a rush to the Natural History Museum as our itinerary was quite packed that day (so much to do in NYC), but we ended up spending about 15 – 20 minutes just taking photos!

Keith Godard, Memories of Twenty-Third Street at Twenty Third Street Station

Jasmine: Not many might know but Twenty Third Street used to be the vaudeville, fashion and entertainment district up until the 1920s! With this history of costuming and millinery, the artwork of different hats (or roles, played by entertainers) was most appropriate, and also fun for us to participate in, as the hats were at different heights!

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The only chance I’ll get to wear a top hat

Andrew: This piece of art was at the station near to the Flatiron building. An interesting anecdote that I discovered as I read up more about this piece was that the Flatiron building, being taller than the buildings around it, caused the area to be very windy. That was indeed true during our visit there! Anyway, many young lads thus came to the Flatiron area, hoping to get a glimpse of some ladies ‘stockings’ as the wind blew up their skirts. Apparently, a glimpse of stockings was something shocking in that era. When spotted by police, they would run, and together with the windy conditions, that would cause many hats to fly!

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My chic-est hair accessory yet

Samm Kunce, Under Bryant Park 2002, at 5th Avenue, 42nd Street-Bryant Park Station

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Jasmine: This was very meaningful as it was under the veritable New York Public Library. The tree roots seemed to connote two levels of meaning: firstly, the more literal meaning that it was below ground level, and secondly, a clue as to the landmark it served, the Public Library, as books came from trees.

Andrew: The lines are from James Joyce’s Finnegans’ Wake and were meant to be read in a an Irish accent. There were many other quotations along this mosaic, from Carl Jung and even Mother Goose nursery rhymes ("Jack and Jill”), catering to many different audiences. One could spend a long time just ‘reading’ while walking along the line.

I recall there was an attempt to incorporate poetry along our MRT lines – perhaps this approach can be taken as we now have signifcantly ‘larger’ MRT lines, like the transit stations (Outram Park). We could use the walls of the walk-areas to incorporate similar art pieces!

Tom Otterness, Life Underground, at the 14th Street, 8th Avenue station

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Jasmine: Ohhh… this was my favourite piece of subway art in New York! Legend –ok, actually Wikipedia– has it that the artist became so obsessed with the project that he created four times the amount of artwork he was commissioned to produce. As a result, you can see more than 100 pieces of bronze sculptures scattered across the subway station, and making great use of existing structures in the station.

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Jasmine: The artwork was deemed too “cute” (which is why I suspect people love it so much), which undercut its critical edge about greed and the “impossibility of living in New York”, as some of the figures are seen holding money bags or being eaten up by alligators. Now, we were in a rush, so we didn’t get to explore all the more significant sculptures, but whatever we saw, we liked lots, like this one, which the theme of construction.

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Jasmine: And another representation of life in New York, which we also thought mirrored us: the husband hurrying the wife along while the wife is distracted by yet another thing to see/ shop. Just mentally replace the drain cover that she’s holding with some shopping bags 😀 (Andrew: Wow – that interpretation is really a stretch. Though on some days the shopping bags did feel as heavy as a drain cover.)

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Andrew: Another fun piece, which I thought would be fun for audiences of all ages. The cute figurines would be attractive to kids and just walking around trying to ‘spot’ the figurines was also fun! For us, it was interesting to think about what the figurines and their activities represented about construction in NYC.

What a brilliant way to bring arts to the masses and into everyday life. I applaud this effort and do hope that it is brought into Singapore someday, in a more extensive way.

More on New York: Winter Fashion and Food!

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

Bouchon Bakery

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

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

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Rows and rows of sweet delights!

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

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

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

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

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

Scarf from Edinburgh, peacoat from Topshop

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

Shake Shack

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

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

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

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

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Chickalicious Dessert Club and Bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Magnolia Bakery @ Bleeker Street

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

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

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

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

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

Cantina Corsino Italiana

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

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Nice mix of sweet and savory crostinis 

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

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

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

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

Christmas market

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

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Yummy churros!

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

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

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

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Our Fantastic New Zealand Hotels

Jasmine: This is another supremely backdated post, as we went to New Zealand two years ago– and in fact we haven’t finished blogging about it, nor the NYC portion of our honeymoon *looks pointedly at Dear* (Andrew: oops.)

However, the two NZ hotels we stayed in were so phenomenal that they’ve left such a deep impression on me that I just have to blog about it 🙂

1. De Brett Hotel, Auckland

Jasmine: What can I say? I’m such a sucker for mid-century modern design, as it is clean, timeless, functional and yet colourful. I bumped into the owner, Michelle, in the lobby, and she was telling me that every room is different because she went on buying trips to source all these one-of-a-kind and vintage pieces! Oh yeah, she complimented me on my kooky Betsey Johnson stockings (stripes one leg, floral the other) too, that’s how I remember our conversation so vividly. Heh.

This was our gorgeous room for two nights… I just wish we had stayed longer!

The peg board, we found in the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua, leading Dear to say that I can shop anywhere… Now only then you know?? It fits right into this room and it now takes pride of place on our kitchen bar counter, displaying Dilly’s baby pictures!

I was so taken with the luxurious duvet that I asked the staff for the contact… Then on the last day in NZ, I went down to their outlet store and custom-made one for our bedroom, with Alice in Wonderland and dandelion prints to match our fairytale theme. Here are pictures of ours:

It’s velvet, linen and silk, with your choice of whimsical design printed on both sides (reversible)… basically, it’s like sleeping in a velvet dream.

Back to DeBrett…

I also adored the Paul Smith-esque carpet, which was used not just in the rooms but also the hallways to striking effect. I thought the carpet, also designed by the owner Michelle, was genius because with a colourful floor like that, anything you put on top will match! In fact, I’m still looking for a similar rug to put in our living room.

The bathroom was another level of modern luxe, in penny-black mosaic with heated under-flooring, so that instead of freezing on the granite flooring, we would be warm and toasty when coming out of the bath. AND speaking of luxe, the bathrobes come in both the standard terry cloth AND velvet (red robe pictured below)!

Another luxurious touch- double doors to the bathroom, which inspired a scaled-down version to our balcony

And a great contrasting element to prevent the monochromes from being too overwhelming- a painted bamboo ladder for hanging clothes. I also wanted to purchase something similar for our bathroom at home, but alas, the versions in Sg were too pricey (and all were in natural finish anyway), whilst I forgot about this bright idea when we went to Bali a year or so later. (Andrew: Thank GOD you forgot – can’t imagine us lugging a huge bamboo ladder through customs.)

And a wonderful selection of New Zealand teas in the pantry! Andrew and I loved renting DVDs from the hotel lobby and drinking tea/ munching on snacks till late at night.

Kitchen Restaurant

Andrew: It just happened that De Brett hotel also had one of the top-rated restaurants in Auckland. We had many meals there – dinner twice, and breakfast once. The ambience was relaxed and classy; food was satisfying and unique. First time we’ve ever tried Rabbit Ravioli! Loved the quirky collection of plates on the wall – Dearie almost wanted to replicate this in our home!

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The breakfast spread was modest and healthy, with a selection of fresh fruit, pastries, yoghurt, juices and muesli.

Jasmine: I will go out on a limb and say that this was the best hotel I have ever stayed in in my life. Not only were the design and amenities (free DVD rental, free library room where we could browse books, daily buffet breakfast, complementary cocktails) top-notch, the location in the heart of the city and close to many landmarks was stellar! (Andrew: Only drawback was it didn’t have an in-house gym and one had to travel quite a distance, in the cold, just to get to the gym. Other than that, I would definitely agree that this was one of the best hotels we stayed at.)

I’ve also mentioned being inspired by many of De Brett’s design touches, and I must confess that I still keep referring to its pictures as a regular source of inspiration for my home, especially now that we have a child. Mid-century modern/ Scandinavian design, with its emphasis on bright colours and seamless form, seems to stylishly incorporate the “mess” of colourful toys that having a child will inevitably result in!

D, please bring me back again! (Andrew: Only if you promise not to put those plates on the wall. And no more wacky decor ideas.)

Regent of Rotorua, Rotorua, New Zealand

Jasmine: This seemed like the polar opposite of De Brett Hotel, as it was done up in a black and white theme. However, we chose Regent because

  • we didn’t have that many options in Rotorua (I think it was like, 1 out of 4 hotels, and was therefore ranked the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor)
  • the price was reasonable
  • close to all attractions while centrally located in the small town, giving us easier access by car and foot to dining spots and tourist attractions
  • it looked the best, having just undergone a renovation- this point may not be important to most but it is a big factor in any hotel that I select, as I want to come back after a long, arduous day of shopping sightseeing and cultural appreciation to a beautiful, luxurious sanctuary that I don’t experience on a daily basis. No roughing it out for me, sorry, I am not on a mission trip.

The understated foyer:

I’m not a fan of minimalism but I have to concede that this was quite glamorous. In the bedrooms, touches of green were added to prevent the black-and-white colorway from becoming too stark.

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The dining room and bar:

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Our room:

Such a simple and glamorous makeover: dramatic wallpaper and a tufted bedhead! The panels behind slide open to reveal our pantry and wardrobe.

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This hotel building used to be a motel, so it was cool to see how they had revamped it to become a 5-star hotel while still retaining the original motel architecture.

Andrew: I loved this NZ trip very much because we had so much time and such a relaxed itinerary every day. I have great memories of just waking up every morning, reading the newspaper from cover to cover and enjoying my eggs benedict/breakfast set and coffee. There was a naturally-heated geothermal spa, and a swimming pool too, which was heated, but we didn’t get a chance to use the latter. Rotorua was a really nice small town too, which reminded me a lot of UK – shops all closing by 5 and only restaurants being open at night. I would love to go back to NZ again, with my kids in future so that we can do more of the outdoorsy-stuff! (Jasmine: Sure, you can find me at the souvenir shop when you’re done!)

The Dylan Diaries: Baby Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh wait, one more piece:

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

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

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

2. “Ah Beng” Collection

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

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

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I look sexy in them…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Stripey Collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Winter Collection

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dylan Diaries: Ubud Day 2

Dylan: Good morning everyone! Was so happy waking up on my second day with so many new toys!

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Of course, before I could have my fill, I was taken around the villa for various photos. Sometimes I feel like a photo prop! (Mummy: EXACTLY!)

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Granny, let me play with my new toys!

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Was brought to meet this auntie in the villa, who was cooking food that I couldn’t eat cos Daddy didn’t allow me to…

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So I ended up eating my tasty ‘nugget’ during breakfast…

Our first pit stop on this day was the art museum! Apparently Daddy and Mummy used to do this a lot before I was born, but with me around, they couldn’t… Well, I’d rather they not bring me along…

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If all I’m going to be doing is posing with random plants and architecture that Mummy gets so excited about… Frankly, I think Daddy doesn’t care much about architecture – Mummy can talk non-stop about it and daddy will just go ‘um… um… good point’.

Yea Daddy, I could say that too.  Umumum. I say that whenever I’m hungry too.

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Let me just lie down and bite my fan, thank you very much… 

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Daddy and Mummy were really fascinated by this piece of art and spent almost 20 – 30 minutes just standing in front and staring at the colours, brush strokes, or something to that effect…

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Apparently, it’s supposed to look like a real ricefield, with a 3D effect created by the raised paint… Mummy told me to put that in. Not like I would know…

Between you and me, I was just peeved that they didn’t let me touch it. It looked so tasty. That’s where my porridge comes from, isn’t it?? 😦

Puri Garden Cafe with Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee)

Mummy was really excited about trying this coffee shit thing that would cost lots more anywhere else…. (Daddy: Dillie, actually it’s not coffee shit – it’s coffee beans that have been digested by this animal called a civet or luwak, and it comes out thru the digestive tract as… ah.. okay, yes you can call it coffee shit then!)

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Daddy hated it, mummy said it was “robust and full bodied” – even though she barely ever drinks coffee. Mummy likes to use all these terms that don’t make any sense at all. I have a full body but how can a cup of coffee shit? Universe, explain!

Frankly, the colour seems quite familiar to me, if you know what I mean… Daddy certainly does! Ahaha!

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But I was in quite a happy mood there! Smiling and laughing, and because of that, people end up using me as a photo-prop again, non-stop. I have to endure similar hardships back in Singapore too, because I’m related to my Ee Ee 😀

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Yes, don’t I look cute here? They said it’s  a ‘manja’ sweet look, but honestly, I’m just bored…

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Tagalalang Rice Paddies

Our next stop was the rice paddy fields! Drive was long, traffic was bad and I couldn’t quite sleep on the ride…

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Hmm, this doesn’t look very different to me than the view outside my window… trees, slopes… No wonder they say don’t bring a child travelling before they are 3.

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Yes, amazingly enough I actually managed to fall asleep in this heat. Mummy posed next to this quilt (Below), which she eventually bought – supposedly for me, but later on I heard Daddy and her quibbling about her idea to ‘frame it up’ and put it as a centrepiece, or something to that effect… Then after that Mummy took it out during one party for me to roll around on and it just got packed away, never to be seen again… Much like many of the other toys Mummy bought for me. I see right through Mummy sometimes. Daddy ain’t half as shrewd.

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Photo-prop falling asleep.. The bargaining for the “toy” took too long

Ooh, anyway, Mummy, Daddy and Granny tried to ‘trek’ down the rice paddies, with me in the carrier with daddy… It kinda got too slippery so Daddy said he didn’t want to risk it, since he was holding me. Eh, I didn’t make any noise! Why does everyone blame me now? Daddy, you a WIMP! I’m more resilient than they make me out to be.

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What was that? I wasn’t the one who had to do the walking? That’s irrelevant.

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So instead of an exciting hike up and down the rice paddies, I end up just taking photos, and you can’t even see me thanks to the carrier hood…. way to go guys. Nice family shot!

Cafe Luna

Ooh, my favourite cafe!

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See how well I am treated, like royalty! They put together two chairs and assembled a few cushions just for meeee!

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Everyone enjoyed the food there – it was good, according to what I heard… Balinese seafood paella, chicken satay…

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Of course, I couldn’t be bothered about the food ‘cos I was a real hit with the ladies! The waitresses couldn’t stop carrying me around while Mummy, Daddy and Granny enjoyed their food! All I had to do was make a few random noises and everybody would melt!

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The Dylan Diaries: Ubud Day 1

Andrew: So we’ve blogged about our villa, which rightfully deserved a post of its own (it has its own album on Facebook too, which gathered more likes than the actual trip photos)! Now it’s time to capture some of our memories of places on the trip too.

I find it a bit tiresome recapping the whole trip, so have decided to do something more creative and write it from Dylan’s perspective instead! 

Jasmine: Wow… Andrew wrote about 95% of this, and I had a good chuckle. It’s as if Andrew is adopting Dylan’s persona to break out the sarcasm that he usually has to keep under wraps due to his “good husband and scholar” image! Haha!

Day 1: Organic Farmer’s Market, Ibu Oka, Shopping @ Ubud Market and Fair Warung Bale for Dinner

Mummy and daddy brought me to an organic market when we first reached Bali. Didn’t get to do much as I was stuck with mummy all the time in the carrier… Let me out mummy! Stop smiling and looking at the baby mosquito balms! I won’t need them in Singapore! *growls*

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I really wanted to go out to explore all the interesting textures and fruits that were present there! Like this oddly-shaped papaya below… (Daddy: Actually Dillie, that’s a cocoa fruit!)

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I never knew carrots had green stems! I always thought they were cube-shaped and mushy and came in porridge – these look different…IMG_4458

Daddy, as usual, was so tempted to buy so many cookies – but mummy, as usual, stopped him… In the end, only she got to buy what she wanted… hmm..

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Ibu Oka

Anyway, after that, we all went to this place that serves crackling pig meat! I wouldn’t care cos I didn’t get to eat anything anyway, but Mummy, Daddy and Granny kind of enjoyed it… 

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I am so glad Ee Ee loaned Granny this little fan – Ubud is so hot! No air con unlike Singapore… Plus they made me wear a romper, which was so poor for ventilation – but also from Ee ee! 🙂

While I didn’t care much for the food, I liked the fact that everyone sat on the floor here, which meant Mummy and Daddy could put me down on the mat, while they ate! Look at the pic below… Where do you think I am? Granny and Mummy are posing with their hands down, Daddy’s taking the pic…. so?

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Well, I didn’t get to eat the babi guling, but I got to taste bits of it at least:

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Pork milk! But minus the crispiness…

Wonder why mummy and daddy love taking all these unglam pics of me… I look like a monster reaching out from under the cloth!

After that, we went shopping at Ubud Market! Ooh… look at all those colours! Mummy bought some of these for me – she said they could be cheap TOYS! Daddy seemed a little suspicious, but just went along with it….

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Mummy said that the other stuff she bought was for the house. Like the blue zig-zag beaded jar above… She doesn’t know yet but that’s gonna become my toy too!IMG_4509

What else can I turn into my toy…

Hmm… Me thinks mummy is using me as an excuse to shop more! She bought a lot of stuff – we came back with a whole suitcase full, while mummy claims was because she had to pack stuff for me! Not true!

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Granny treated Mummy and Daddy to fried bananas with cheese and honey… and I didn’t get a single bit of it, even though they know that bananas are my favourite fruit! And some strange creamy liquid called condensed milk, which doesn’t look like my regular milk at all!

Daddy explained that the bananas could be too sweet…. or ‘allergenic’ in his words…. or too oily… Pfft, I think he just wants to eat all for himself, because they said it was so yummy!

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After shopping, we went for dinner! Food wasn’t great I heard, but I had a rolling good time lying on the floor with two cushions! Balinese restaurants are great for babies – just wait until you see what the waitresses at another restaurant assembled for me! 🙂 Balinese girls dig me!