Category Archives: Singapore

ME 1 : CREEPY CRAWLIES 0

{SPONSORED POST*} I am a real chicken when it comes to creepy crawlies. Spiders, ROACHES (OMG, those really freak me out ESPECIALLY if they fly), beetles, lizards, you name it. They creep up on me when I’m peeing, or shampoo-ing my hair with my eyes closed, about to go to bed, and always, always, always, when M is working late and I’m all alone and absolutely defenceless, save for a stupid can of smelly, toxic insecticide and/or the occasional super-thick, rolled-up wad of newspapers, which are completely useless in hands that are quicker to retract than offend. I still remember the night when I was heavily pregnant, alone at home, and TWO humongous cockroaches and a giant lizard attacked me in the bedroom, SIMULTANEOUSLY. All I could think of was what I did to deserve that. *shudders*

I cannot even begin to tell you how much my home was like the Shrieking Shack for the past few years shortly after I moved back to Singapore. I mean, London has NO creepy crawlies that invade our home like that. They have rats, yes, but rats run away from us (and none has ever barged into our home); they don’t fly in our direction, leap from across the table and land on our shoulders. Ants don’t even attack my bakes, when I leave them out in the open on the mid-island for days! I don’t get it, but in the five years I was living in London, I did not see an ant (uh huh, I’m using the singular term here). Houseflies, yes, in summer (but houseflies are more annoying than scary), and the occasional bee that visits us when the flowers bloom, but nothing, NOTHING made me scream like I did after I moved back to Singapore. Back here, we snack a fair bit upstairs in the living area outside our room, and F being a toddler, walks around, goes all Gretel on me and drops crumbs that attract armies of ants within twenty minutes. Then the lizards start visiting us upstairs because of the whole food-chain thing, and they leave their droppings on our pristine white walls, jump out at us when we adjust the drapes…what a complete nightmare! Roaches creep out from the drainage in the bathroom (at least that’s where I think they came from), and I remember how one would suddenly appear from its cosy hideout under the armchair, where I sat nursing F in the dead of the night. It totally freaked me out!

Don’t even get me started on mosquitoes. I am some kind of a magnet for them, and so are M and F. The worst thing is F develops rather severe insect bite reactions that will make any mother weep. Think shiny, bulbous blisters, ooozing pus from all that scratching. I am fiercely protective as a result (also because of the high incidence of dengue fever, and it doesn’t help that a new house is being built right across ours), and went on a mission to insect-proof our lives as much as possible.

And…I found a solution!

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We started using the Automated KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Starter Kit, which is such a godsend and works incredibly well to keep creepy crawlies away. We have not been terrorised by cockroaches, ants, mozzies, or any other insects since October 2013. Once the bugs were gone, the four-legged rubbery lizards packed their bags too because there wasn’t any food lurking around for them. In the past eight months, I have only seen, at most, four to five lizards (rather infrequent, given that I used to see two to three every night, in various sizes, meaning there was a nest of them lurking somewhere). One might say that we could use the usual insecticides to keep them away, but get this, I invested (yes, the system and refills are a wee bit expensive) in the kit because KONK® I is as non-toxic as it is effective. The main ingredient in KONK® I is pyrethrin, which is a natural extract in chrysanthemum flowers. It is a perfectly safe, natural deterrent that keeps ‘em nasty bugs away and leaves no residue whatsoever, save for the faint scent of chrysanthemum. I like that we are not breathing in toxic fumes and skidding around on oily surfaces unlike the days when we used the old-school insecticide, especially so as Faith is in our lives now and touching everything she can get her hands on. We don’t mind paying more for a non-toxic way of keeping our home bug-free!

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It also helps that the AG dispenser is incredibly easy to use. It operates on a single 9 volt alkaline battery and is a no-brainer to assemble and disassemble when the time comes to change the refill for the KONK® I Flying Insect Killer. It is as simple as removing the empty canister, and screwing in a fresh refill. The dispenser is very light and portable too, so you can move it anywhere you want, as long as you place it at a decent height (so no one gets squirted in the face, obviously, and KONK® I gets dispersed as evenly as possible). But of course, I consider the AG dispenser a big (albeit one-time) purchase, and it can be a strain on one’s budget to fit the entire home with multiple dispensers (especially if you have a huge home with many rooms that often have doors shut). For us, we only bought one dispenser to be placed upstairs in our living area, and it has worked well to keep bugs away, even from the bathroom and our bedroom, which are adjacent to the living area.

There have been times when I forgot to purchase extra refills before the existing canister in the dispenser ran out, and ants came creeping back to snack on crumbs that were overlooked when we cleaned up after our ‘picnics’ upstairs. In this case, we use the KONK® I HH (short for handheld), give the dark corners and offending areas a good spritz (again, no residue, no oiliness, no toxic fumes whatsoever), and the insects are gone in a jiffy. It is basically the KONK® I Flying Insect Killer that is used in the dispenser, but in the handheld form which is very useful for driving out bugs and keeping them away from hard-to-reach areas like the drainage, under the sink, etc, a lovely complement or even alternative (if you don’t mind doing some spritzing every 2-3 days) to the AG dispenser (which works for you all-day long). We keep both in the house, and the bugs don’t stand a chance!

PROMOTION FOR MY READERS:

Our LifeStyle Shop is inviting you to give KONK® I a try by offering 5% off all purchases for the readers of The Pleasure Monger. Simply enter the promotional code pleasuremonger (vaild from 1 July to 31 July 2014) when you check out. Happy shopping!

*I was gifted one can of KONK I HH. I paid for all other items reviewed out of my own pocket. No additional monetary compensation has been received and I do not stand to gain any commission arising from sales using the discount code given to my readers. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

— You can now shop online at Our LifeStyle Shop! Like Our LifeStyle Shop on Facebook to be updated on promotions and what’s going on in-store!

Mother’s Day Feature: My Interview with The New Age Parents

The editors of the online parenting magazine, The New Age Parents, kindly featured me on the Mother’s Day lineup as one of ‘10 Mummy Bloggers We Love‘. I did an interview with them as well.

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The questions got me thinking about how I felt when I started penning my thoughts on the blog, and they jolted bittersweet memories that I had of life in London back then. It’s amazing how the blog has evolved with changes in my life, moving back to Singapore, becoming a mother…I don’t think I qualify as a ‘Mummy Blogger’ per se, as the blog is still a mish-mash of things and people who matter very much to me, but yes, my daughter is a large part of my life now, and that invariably means that I yak way too much about her over here (sorry to all the foodies who used to follow me, I don’t cook or bake or photograph food as much now due to the lack of time…and energy).

I’ve also noticed that my writing has taken on a less sprightly (read: YOUTHFUL) tone, and is more reflective and solemn. But one thing remains, I still tell it as it is. I don’t want to get out there and say I LOVE BEING A MOTHER ALL THE TIME, or OH LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM ALL THE TIME, because the truth is there is no such thing as ALL THE TIME. Everything is fleeting – joy, sadness, fights, tender moments, kid not sleeping, kid finally eating – EVERYTHING. So, even though I don’t fill this space with the most beautiful pictures, the most well-written stories, and the most positive of outlooks, I thank all those who have stopped by and said hello, those who didn’t mind the occasional melancholy or sporadic bitchiness, those who have told me that I am not alone in feeling a certain way when something happens. and those who have extended their friendship and invited me into their lives.

Here’s to keeping it real!

Oh! And here’s my interview with the good people of The New Age Parents. Don’t forget to check out the other Mummy Bloggers too!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! x

 

I Have My Eye On: Affordable Reads from The Groovy Giraffe + A Promotion!

Parents endeavour to give their children the very best, and I am no exception. As a mother to a little girl, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks.

In the series ‘I Have My Eye On‘, I share my favourite finds for my daughter.

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[SPONSORED POST*] We have been reading to Faith since the day she was born, and she has grown to be very fond of books. We read all day long, in the mornings, in between sessions of active play, and in the evenings as part of her bedtime routine. At times, Faith would sit on my lap and listen intently as I read to her. Others, she would seize a book and flip through the pages very enthusiastically. Lately, she has even progressed to reading the stories out loud (in her sing-song toddlerish-gibberish English), complete with the most theatrical gestures you can think of – a super adorable sight to behold!

Building a library isn’t easy on the pocket though; you should know that children’s books these days can get really expensive, let alone the board-book versions which are hardy and can withstand wear and tear in the hands of a young child. I DO love the experience of walking into a charming bookstore, feeling the weight of a good tome and leafing through its pages, but I have had to sacrifice that rite of passage in order to save considerable sums of money by shopping at online bookstores…not.

WHO AM I KIDDING? I simply spend my time browsing at my favourite brick-and-mortar stores, make a mental note of the books I want to purchase, before heading straight to my favourite online stores to cart them. Sigh, I sound like a complete cheapo now, huh? But, hey, I need to save ‘em pennies to raise my toddler!

The Groovy Giraffe is a really good site that stocks super affordable books for children and boasts a rather comprehensive range whilst bringing huge discounts to book-lovers! Picture books, pop-up books, board books, activity books, audio books, cloth books, you name it, and these cater to different age groups.

My picks for Faith, who is almost 19 months old now, include Baby’s First Bible in a Slipcase (4 Books) (S$14.90 instead of S$20.31, 27% off) and Charlie and Lola’s Opposites (S$6.90 instead of S$8.74, 21% off). As she will be off to pre-school soon for a few days a week, I picked out Charlie and Lola’s I Am Too Absolutely Small for School (S$9.90 instead of S$21.24, 53% off) as well to prepare her for the change in her daily activities. As you can see, these are heavily discounted and I saved about S$18 simply by purchasing them from The Groovy Giraffe! You might wonder why these books are heavily marked down as compared to those sold at brick-and-mortar stores. Well, The Groovy Giraffe stocks overprint and overstock books, otherwise known as remainder books, but rest assured that all these books are brand new. The curators are very transparent about the condition of the books too – remainder markings and minor shelf wear (sustained from moving to and from shelves) are clearly stated on the description of individual books on the site, so you know exactly what you’re paying for. The book on Charlie and Lola’s Opposites that we received, for instance, was specified to have gone through minor shelf wear; it was only very slightly noticeable on the spine and didn’t bother me at all.

You would be glad to know that The Groovy Giraffe does not just stock children’s books; we, adults, get a real kick out of browsing at this site too! Books on parenting, self-help, hobbies, craft, puzzles, and my absolute favourite, COOKBOOKS *gasp*, are carried on the site at much lower prices. Think cookbooks by Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, and all sorts of books on bread-making and baking, these make such wonderful gifts. I’d be delighted to receive them!

By the way, Faith ABSOLUTELY loves her new books, especially Baby’s First Bible in a Slipcase (4 Books). She climbs onto the couch, pulls the slipcase off the shelf and reads all four books from page to page, exclaiming ‘babeeeee!’ when she sees baby Moses, or ‘apple!’ in the story of Adam and Eve, or ‘zeezus!’ in the story of Jesus. Too cute!

PROMOTION FOR MY READERS:

Here’s the best part for you. The Groovy Giraffe is offering a 10% discount (not applicable for bargains) for the readers of The Pleasure Monger until 30 April 2014. Simply enter the promotional code RachelTPM when you check out. Happy shopping!

*I was gifted a S$20 voucher and 10% discount on my purchase (discount not applicable for bargains) to try out the service for the review. I paid for the remaining sum, including shipping, out of my own pocket. No additional monetary compensation has been received and I do not stand to gain any commission arising from sales using the discount code given to my readers. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

You can now shop online at The Groovy Giraffe!

Like The Groovy Giraffe on Facebook to be updated on promotions and what’s-what in-store!

May We Sing and Dance Forever More

As I pen the final entry for 2013 on New Year’s Eve, the not-so-little one naps by my side. Her chest rises and falls with every breath, her silky, fine hair tangled in a sweaty mess at the nape of her neck, and her long limbs stretched in peaceful slumber. How she has grown.

How I have grown.

This time last year, I was an excited, frazzled and tired new mother. Today, I am tired, still, as a mother to an active toddler but I am happier, more calm, collected and composed than I have ever been in my life.

2013 was a year of change.

Sure, there were losses. Freedom, friends who are allergic to kids, couple time, me-time. I have lamented over these more than I should over the past year and have come to realise that it is normal to weather these changes once one becomes a parent. The little one needs me; yet, we try to balance ourselves on that high beam, whilst juggling a dizzying myriad of multi-coloured balls, and at times, we dodge Bludgers whilst doing so. It’s not easy, but the beauty of this is how I have been challenged to sieve out what’s important, and hold that dear to my heart.

Like old friends who stay by my side even though we can’t hang out as often as before. Like new friends who bring good tidings and wish nothing but the best for me, who invite me into their lives and share their stories with me, even though I am a stranger. Like my family, who has loved me unconditionally and given selflessly, as always. Like my husband, who loves me and believes in me so very much, and whom I love more everyday, even through the fights and doubts that are such commonplace in newfound parenthood. Like my daughter, whom I do everything and nothing with, who kicks my sorry ass with tantrums and 4am wakings, who surprises me everyday with a new word, and lately, with new songs that she bursts into whenever she feels like it, who strokes me gently when I am down, and kisses and hugs me just because.

I cannot ask for more. And I wouldn’t change the world for what I have been given, good and bad. It has been a stunning year full of joy and tears.

As I watch my daughter stir from her sleep, knowing what is to come in a matter of minutes when she wakes, that she would tug at my hands for us to play…I wish for one thing. That we may sing and dance together forever more.

I wish this for you, and you, too.

Blessed 2014, my friends.

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Burgers, Just For Me

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I love burgers. Well, I didn’t used to give two hoots about them until I started dating M; I fell deeper in love with him when he made me a Grilled Mushroom Swiss burger. Embarrassing, and very telling of my gluttony nature, but heck, it is a true story.

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Our relationship obviously blossomed after THAT burger (I mean, how could it not?!); then, we got married in 2009 and M whisked me off to New York City for our honeymoon. I became very well-acquainted with the juicy, succulent burgers from Shake Shack and never looked back. Unfortunately, I was pregnant when we visited NYC again in late 2011 and boy, did morning sickness (more like, all-day sickness) do me in! M had gone out to get some burgers for us to nom on but I could barely take a bite. I was absolutely gutted because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to return to the States for a Shack anytime soon.

I refused to have any burgers after that, as I was certain that none could match up. I sulked in my damn-I-want-my-Shake-Shack-burger-NOW corner when I learnt that the burger joint has opened in a branch in London (my second home) AFTER I moved back to Singapore. But the gods were kind and heard my cries because Omakase Burger showed up on the island; I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I sunk my teeth into the uber moist burgers, which are not unlike the ones from Shake Shack. They are rather expensive though, as the burgs are annoyingly small for my huge appetite.

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A few weeks ago, M and I were vegging out in front of the telly, letting our guts hang out after a rather unpleasant dinner while we sought solace in a food documentary on (you guessed it) burgers. M kinda came out of the documentary with a spookily crazed look and declared that he was going to NAIL THAT DAMN BURGER. And I kinda did a WWF-flex-mah-muscles thing and growled YESSSSS.

That’s how this burger came about. Incredibly juicy in spite of using lean minced beef, slathered with gooey cheese, fresh tomatoes and lettuce, topped with crispy bacon, and smothered in homemade aioli. NOW, THAT’S WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.

Sigh. I love my husband. I think you do too, huh? Excuse me, while I go bat my eyelashes at him for a burger.

Check out what’s cooking in my kitchen!

Also check out my other food adventures.

Oh, All That Glitters! On Her First

I didn’t know what to gift Faith with on her first birthday. She is a very blessed child who has plenty to eat, wear and play with, thanks to family and friends who love her so. It didn’t make sense for me to get her more toys, clothes and what-not, and so I decided to create some memories for her instead, starting with the below.

We hosted a lunch to thank family and friends who have been so generous, kind, helpful and loving to us. We couldn’t have survived the first year without them (you know who you are!) and we are deeply thankful to have them in our lives.

Faith wouldn’t remember any of how we went through the first year and we wanted her to grow up, looking at the photos and listening to our first-hand accounts of how our family and friends helped us. That is why M and I splurged on a photographer, J (the talent behind Freeze The Moments); we hoped for someone to capture precious moments and relationships that would otherwise be lost on the unobservant eye. I don’t think I can do J’s work justice with words alone; I reckon I should leave it to you to have a look at the photos and all I can say is, we are absolutely pleased with what he has done for us and we highly recommend him.

I was dying to dive back into some creative work as well, and was delighted to be able to put a dessert table together for Faith. It was wonderful to finally sketch my ideas and breathe life into them. I’d dare say this was a pretty good attempt, seeing as to how it is my second dessert table *annoyinglysmugface*. It was tough though, to DIY and take care of Faith full-time; I took quite a while to design and craft the different elements, often working into the wee hours after Faith had gone to sleep. I don’t know how stylists do this for a living and I have nothing but respect for them! I had help of course, from the vendors who supplied the two-tier lemon buttercake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate pecan cookies, strawberry tarts, cheesecake, cream puffs, iced gems, and rose and mint macarons. I did entertain the crazy idea of making the desserts and pastries on my own like I did with my first dessert table, but I knew I would crumble under all that pressure. I always wanted to make Faith her first cake though, and settled on baking her a 4-inch smash cake (a refined-sugar-free buttercake with cream cheese frosting topped with her favourite blueberries) instead. Faith was also very blessed to have received two tissue pom-poms (one cream and one pastel pink, both attached to the chalkboard easel in some of the photos below) that I have chosen from Most Wonderfully Made, an online store that stocks the prettiest party supplies! The sponsored pom-poms were so well-made, as compared to the ones I DIY-ed (those on the backdrop of dessert table), that I wished I had gotten all of them (which are very affordable, by the way) from the store; I would have spared myself from all the agony of tidying the pleats up! I’m putting in a mental note to stock up on party supplies for the next party I plan!

Alright, I think I have yakked enough about the party. I leave you…with our memories.

P/S: Photos of our guests are not posted here as I would like to protect their privacy.

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We Need Some Lovin': Pin ‘Em Happy Faces Up with TinyTiles

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As a mother, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks for my daughter; ‘I Have My Eye On‘ is a collection of these finds.

Growing up is a tough act but parenting is hard work too; I believe that mummies and daddies need some lovin’! Whilst I am not busting my budget on the little one, I like to sniff out things that make our new routines a little easier, or sometimes, just a little prettier.

In this series ‘We Need Some Lovin’‘, I share some of my favourite things for us big people.

[SPONSORED POST*] You all know how much I LOVE taking photos. If I had the slightest talent to make a living out of photography, I would…but I don’t, so I shan’t embarrass myself. For now, I am supremely contented with just snapping away on my DSLRs and phone, editing and primping the photos for any empty space on the wall, shelf, you name it.

Yes, I am uhb-sessed with photos.

So when I was told I could have my *coughsAWESOMEcoughs* mug printed on tiles to go on the fridge, I was thrilled! Imagine saying good riddance to garish Seaworld, Dinosaurworld, whatevs magnets from that cold, lonely space, and hello to warm, friendly faces that greet you whenever you reach into the fridge for another bar of chocolate!

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I was gifted six tiles from TinyTiles and learnt that I could have photos taken with a camera phone printed on them, as long as the photos were taken under reasonable lighting conditions. To put the tiles to the test, I selected photos that were taken with my DSLRs and phone. To my delight, there is no observable difference in the resolution, and colours are true to the original snaps. I was surprised to know that all tiles are handmade because they have a good weight to them, feel sturdy and look good, even though they are glazed with a special sealant to ensure durability. I also like that they are three-dimensional and add a pop-up effect to the otherwise plain fridge.

I reckon they make beautiful, thoughtful and affordable gifts too. The 45mm by 45mm tiles are sold in multiples of three, and are priced at 3 for S$6.50, 6 for S$12 or 9 for S$18. There is a bulk discount for orders of 100 pieces and above, perfect for those of you planning door gifts for events, functions and celebrations. TinyTiles is also offering free local postage from now until the end of September 2013.

And there’s more! The good people of TinyTiles have kindly offered my readers 1 free tile for an order of 6-9 tiles and 2 free tiles for 12 or more tiles purchased! So hurry, hurry, hurry, visit them on their Facebook page or website, drop them an email, let them know The Pleasure Monger sent you, and claim your offer. I’m thinking of getting more tiles for my family and friends, once I receive photos of Faith’s first birthday party from my photographer!

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*I was gifted six TinyTiles to review. No monetary gift was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored items, should I find the products unsuitable.

Find out more about TinyTiles on Facebook page or website!

Family Portraiture: When We Were 7 Months

We did a family photoshoot with Playground Pictures slightly more than a month ago, and I cannot recommend our photographer, Ken Umehara, enough. He is very friendly and professional, and has an excellent eye for compositions. You might not be able to tell from the photos but M and I are very stiff and are the most awkward people one could ever photograph (our pre-wedding and wedding photographers can attest to this…), so it’s all props to Ken for helping us relax and capturing the candid moments perfectly. We were a little nervous about the shoot as we didn’t know what to expect with a baby (who gets really cranky when she is about to nap) in tow, but we did the shoot in an hour, and are utterly pleased with the photos!

Why Botanic Gardens, you ask? This was where we had our first date after we became a couple. Cliché but so very meaningful to us. Hey, at least we didn’t head to the very bench we sat on as we held hands, okaaay?

Right, I shall shut my trap and let the photos do the talking.

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What The Man Wants, The Man Gets

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‘Red Velvet, please. And I want it tall.’

My husband, M, certainly wasn’t standing on ceremony when I asked him what cake he would like for his birthday.

Well, I love him very much, so much so that I attempted to bake my very first four-layer cake which weighed at least five kilograms when it was finally dressed in a decadent, slightly tart cream cheese frosting.

It took two days of back-breaking work to create this, the most professionally-finished cake that I’ve ever made, even if it didn’t look like it hit the gold standards of established bakeries out there. What mattered most was M loved it. He declared it my best act, and that was well-worth the effort.

Happy Birthday, love!

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.