There Is Always Time to Dance

Before M and I became parents, we were young (tsk tsk), carefree (tsk tsk) and did most things in the spur of the moment. Feel like getting fat on gelato and bistecca alla fiorentina? Off to Florence this weekend! Feel like taking in the rich history and sheer beauty that make Austria? Off to Vienna the next weekend! Never mind the odd hours of flying with budget airlines, the mere hour of sleep that we would get right after landing and before we hop (yes, we could still hop) to work. We were tired but we could harness that bit of energy left in the name of impulse and adventure, two words that make up so many of our memories together.

These days, we would grab any chance to sit still, glaze over and try to remember our first and last names for about thirty seconds before someone springs a timely reminder and goes ‘MAMA!’ or ‘PAPA!’ on us. We no longer ‘hop on the next flight’ just because we felt like it. We run our lives on a loose-tight-ish schedule, depending on whether it’s a school/workday, and mostly plan where we are going down to the o’clocks to accommodate nap times and mealtimes (for our toddler’s sake, not ours).

But I’m not complaining. There is comfort in this routine, contentment in the privilege of being parents to our little girl, and unbridled joy in any surprise.

Such as this. M is excellent at making memories out of the tiniest gestures, especially when I am much too caught up in the daily grind to appreciate the small things in life. Two nights ago, I was battling my old and cranky MacBook Pro, and hoping against hope that I hadn’t lost all the photos taken back in London as I tried to restore its contents. I was on the verge of crying, absolutely gutted that I might have erased those precious memories of London, when M picked me up from the floor, put on a song, 月亮代表我的心, on the phone and held me close as we danced in our pyjamas in the still of the night. And that was all it took to make a memory, one that wouldn’t be captured on photos, one that couldn’t be captured on photos.

In that three minutes and twenty-eight seconds, I am reminded that we could and should find the time to dance in the busy-ness that is parenthood and our lives, trying to complete this and achieve that. Because, in that 3:28, I found forever, something that I wouldn’t be able to get if I had spent the time getting all flustered.

So…yes, impulse and adventure may not make our memories now. Gelato and bistecca alla fiorentina may not rank tops in our priorities, not as much as sleep and rest anyway, but we dance, and I will take 3:28 over that any day.

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Us. Post-wedding, pre-baby in the winter of 2011. After a hike through Forest of Dean up to Symonds Yat Rock, taking in the beauty of Wye Valley.


{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!


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!

To Learn Something New

201406 Dark chocolate and sea salt caramel tart

I know, I know. I have gone way off the baking and cooking radar for the longest time, since late 2011, I reckon. You know my excuses. I’ve moved across three countries. I got pregnant. And before I know it, my hands were full with a newborn, then a baby, and now a toddler. These days, I write less about my culinary adventures (or rather, lack thereof) and more about the ups and downs in motherhood. Some of you have left, some of you have stuck around to see what I’m up to, some of you have joined me in this new and permanent part of my journey. But I am still here, and I suspect that I might always be.

You see, this blog is not just another website. Not to me, at least. It chronicles my everything, and everything about me (well, almost). It documents challenges I have faced in life, be it  graduate school a few couple of years ago, my new then-life in a foreign land, and yes, food too. I remember the first time I bought my very own set of baking equipment. We had just moved to London in 2007, and I was keen to pick up baking again since the kitchen was all ours. I bagged the cheapest of the basics I could find, including a very noisy handheld mixer from Tesco which cost me only £3.99. It served me well, taking me from basic cupcakes, to layered cakes, chiffon and even macarons.

Each time I learnt something new, I was absolutely delighted, but not without feeling utterly deflated at my failed first attempts. I was amazed at how basic ingredients could yield all sorts of tasty morsels, and how every quantity, step and trick made the world of a difference. It was particularly rewarding, when I stumbled upon random tricks on my own; baking is almost magical to me, save for the fact that its roots actually lie in the heart of science.

201406 Lemon curd tartAfter leaving London, I barely had the opportunity to learn new recipes. My repertoire was old and tired, and it was mostly executed to feed my husband and daughter, or for special occasions. I have very, very loyal fans though. Most people are always happy to have a slice of my signature chiffon cake or that soft cookie or the grand old dame of a red velvet cake, and I am truly thankful that they still appreciate what I do. But that isn’t enough for me. Soon, I got bored of my own creations. Sad, but true.

I have been pushing myself to try out new recipes, to conquer new pastries and master new dishes. It’s not working out too well, as all this takes far too much time, something that I am in desperate need of. But I’ve stolen pockets of it, when F sleeps (thank goodness we insisted on early bedtime), when M is finally free from crazy shifts to help me with her. A month or two ago, I was really happy to have nailed the tart (the pastry, not a person), and filled them with lemon curd (also a first in my culinary adventure, I know…I’m real slow), or dark chocolate ganache and sea salted caramel. They were, IMHO, absolutely spot-on! I was on cloud nine when I learnt that the tarts were well-received…that buzzzzz, that joy I get when I know my bakes have made someone very happy…

I wish I have more opportunities at some point to challenge myself. I could use with feeling a little more accomplished than just doing what I have been doing thus far. I miss dreaming up exciting flavours in my sleep, and jumping out of bed to get cracking in the kitchen. I miss scribbling ideas on random scraps of paper, and hopping into the pantry in the middle of the night to whip something up. Those days were absolutely glorious, utterly inspired and undeniably pleasurable…and those days couldn’t come sooner.

GIVEAWAY! Three Pairs of pediped® Shoes Up For Grabs!


Thank you all for taking part in the giveaway! Congratulations, Jocelyn Yeo (ma*****, Mag Yeow (ma****** and JingRong (lo********! You have each won a pair of shoes from pediped® Singapore! pediped® Singapore will be in touch with you shortly.

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 Faith wearing Betty Light Pink Mary Jane in Originals

[SPONSORED POST* - GIVEAWAY details in this post] 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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 Part of the latest Spring/Summer 2014 collection – MIrabella White Sandals in Grip ‘n’ Go

We have been fans of pediped® shoes for the looooongest time. Well, it is after all the one brand we go to for Faith’s shoes ever since she started walking! We have amassed more than ten pairs (don’t be so quick to write me off as a spendthrift, okay, I’m just very, very, very picky about getting comfortable shoes for children), and have even stocked up on designs that will serve Faith well for when she grows older. Talk about being far-sighted…well, you can’t expect me to pass up on great, classic designs that may get sold out in a jiffy, can you?!

Granted, pediped® shoes may be more pricey than your average pair, but like I said, we are talking about an average pair. Faith has been toddling about in pediped® shoes for almost a year now, and I love that she has been comfortable in all of them thus far. She absolutely adores the shoes, often demanding to wear them even when we are home, and I think that is the perfect testament to how good they feel on her feet. I mean, you do know that kids will go into a ‘NONONONONO’ trance, or kick/scream/plank/resist/bite like their life depended on it if they don’t want something, don’t you? And if they want something, well, it’s hard to stop them from getting it too.

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I reckon there is a reason why Faith loves these shoes so much. pediped® has after all been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association of Seal of Acceptance for the promotion of natural and healthy foot development. The pediped® footwear system, consisting of three ranges catered for different stages, is designed to protect children’s feet, from when they are crawling to when they take their first steps and subsequently, to when they stride and run confidently. Comfort is the priority here, and it doesn’t hurt that pediped® has got some stunning designs that will take a child from casual day outs, to rough-and-tumble play dates, school and even formal parties. As a mother, I cannot emphasise how important it is for my daughter to be comfortable. I have suffered from wearing one too many pairs of shoes that bite and offer little support, and the last thing I want is for Faith to be in pain when all she wants is to walk and run freely wherever she goes.

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Now, here’s a little history on our experience with pediped® shoes. We first started Faith on Originals®, which have flexible, soft soles that closely mimic barefoot walking (this is in turn important for healthy development of growing feet and good posture). She grew well in them and once she started taking more confident strides, we added shoes from the Grip ‘n’ Go™ range, designed for toddlers transitioning from early walking to confident strides, to her collection. Both systems have worked so well for her that I will definitely be putting her on the Flex® range (caters to confident walkers) when the time comes.

Besides being made with premium, high-quality, non-toxic leather, we noticed that foam insoles and cushions have been added to provide a comfortable fit for those cute, chubby feet of our daughter, along with padded heels to absorb the shock from all that walking and running. The shoes boast great non-slip soles as well (all-natural leather for Originals® and rubber for the other two ranges), that do not hinder Faith from walking properly (you know those shoes which have far too many grooves on the soles, that trip you up because there is just too much friction? Who knew that could be a bad thing?). I am also very particular about how my kid dresses, and if you look at the styles that pediped® carries, you’d probably know why I love purchasing them for Faith. The comfort, supreme quality and designs are enough to convince me in bagging the shoes over and over again, even if they are more expensive, even if I am usually very reluctant to spend more than certain amounts on things that she will outgrow sooner than others. THESE SHOES ARE WORTH IT.

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The Spring/Summer 2014 collection continues to tempt us too! There are more than 20 new styles and colours for the latest season, and new designs have been added to the water-safe adventure and machine-washable lines, perfect for children who love to live life on the edge! Faith is a little more reserved and less outdoorsy, much like her mother, so we have chosen to be sponsored with the Mirabella White Sandals, which are versatile and perfect for most occasions. We can have her wear socks, or go without when wearing them. They come with velcro straps at the tip and ankle; one can adjust the fits accordingly to accomodate narrower/wider feet/ankles. I like that it’s rather feminine without being outrightly girly too! I’d be honest with you here…erm, I actually really adore the designs for boys; the Frederick Glacier Grey is something that I wanted to get for Faith (yes, Faith!), but it only comes in Originals® (Mamas and Papas with babies, please get this because it is just too cute and stylish for words).


Of course, I’m not leaving without giving you a chance to win some sweeeeeeet pediped® shoes, and the great news is there are THREE pairs up for grabs, so that means THREE winners will be randomly selected, and each will walk away with one pair of shoes! Enter the giveaway HERE. Certain steps can be done once a day, for every day of the giveaway, so don’t forget to check back to get more entries into the draw!

Terms and Conditions of the giveaway:

- Subject to availability of sizes
- Free courier delivery only within Singapore
– pediped® Singapore reserves the rights to choose the appropriate design and size for the winners
– This contest is restricted to those based in Singapore.

Thank you, pediped® Singapore!

* I was gifted one pair of pediped® shoes (Mirabella White Sandals) to review for the Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Three pairs of shoes will also be sponsored by pediped® for the winners of this giveaway. 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 shop online at pediped Singapore (don’t forget to check out the online exclusives) or at stockists near you.

Like pediped Singapore on Facebook to be updated on the latest news and promotions.

Be Kind, Always

“Unkindness is inspired by hatred, anger fuels it into action in which there is no great joy; it would take sadism to turn it into something pleasurable; unkind people imagine themselves to be inflicting pain on someone equally unkind.”

- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Raise your hands, all of you who have been victims of unkindness. Oh yes, I’m sure we have all been trampled on by someone at one point, some of us getting it worse and/or more often than others.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because I am a mother now, and I have been asking myself how I would like to raise F. Most of my life, I have been there, eating dust, meek, smiling as I (figuratively) get slapped in the face because it was not in my nature to retaliate, especially if the unkind were elders. It was only in my late twenties that I started learning fair ways of standing up for myself and the people I love, without being noxious to the perpetrators. Sometimes, it works; at other times, it doesn’t. Sometimes, I keep my cool; sometimes, I lose my cool. But above all, I’ve learnt that there is a reason why people can be unkind, and if we can remember that, then we would not and need not feel sorry for ourselves.

Ahhh, yes. It may not look it, given that I have been airing my thoughts publicly for a decade now, but I have felt victimised before by various forms of unkindness, ranging from outright bullying to malignant criticism to being cruelly ridiculed and cornered for that innocuous seed of information that would be miraculously spun into a mossy tangle of rumours. I used to blame myself, and think that people must have a good reason for doing this to me, but as I grew older and learnt the ropes of life, I realised that these, being unprovoked, were done (mostly by the same group of people) to bring me down. But I fought, not to hurt them back because that would mean stooping to a new low, much like the perpetrators, but to stand up tall with a clear conscience, and be happy regardless.

The truth is unkind people are discontented, deeply unhappy, insecure, and dare I say, jealous. If you think about it, there is absolutely no reason for genuinely happy, contented and loving people to gloat over another’s misfortune, put people down to make themselves feel happier, or be sadistic. Now that I know better, they are the ones I actually feel sorry for, because nothing else makes them more elated than being unkind and watching their victims squirm. How devastating it must be to lead that life, to wake up every morning thinking up ways of bullying people they think they have a right to despise, when everyone else is probably waking up to the joy of being alive so they can love, live, give back, and laugh.

And so, I tell my husband, M, that I do not wish to raise F to be an elitist, one who is revered for how well she does in school, how much money she makes, how well she plays sports, the type of car she drives or the district she lives in. There is absolutely no value in any of that. Instead, I want F to be strong enough to stand up against the unkind and not crumble like her mother once did, because let’s face it, the grotesque nature of Man will always be plain for all to see. It breaks my heart that I will not always be around to shield her from bullying, even at such a tender age (sad to say, I have heard kids pointing at an overweight man crossing the road and yelling, ‘PREGNANT MAN, HAHAHAHAHA’ (and get this) in the presence of their parents, who do NOTHING to correct them). And it breaks my heart that she is going to have to take the fall a few times before learning what I learnt the hard way. But yes, I hope for her to be strong enough one day. Above all, I want F to be as kind and loving as humanly possible, because we could all use another friendly face, don’t we?

Yes, we could. Even those who have been unkind, for I am sure they would want their children and loved ones to be free of bullying.

Kindness begets kindness. Don’t ever forget that.

GIVEAWAY! Gorgeous Designer Labels in a ‘Get Me Started’ Pack from Child Label


Thank you all for taking part in the giveaway! Congratulations, Sue (hs******! You have won the ‘Get Me Started’ Sticker Pack! Child Label will be in touch with you shortly.

[SPONSORED POST* - GIVEAWAY details in this post] 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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Before Faith started pre-school, I didn’t bother putting labels on her belongings. We were fairly disciplined in shopping for her, and she didn’t amass too many things. Besides, she is the only kid at home, so ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ is definitely hers, and so is that hot pink straw bottle. We don’t meet that many people at a go for playdates too, so nothing ever gets into the wrong diaper bag. Now that she has started going to school, there is obviously a need to label her belongings so nothing gets lost or mixed up with her classmates’. After all, Mama wouldn’t be around to watch her things like a hawk.

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Truth be told, I planned to scribble her name on scraps of masking tape, or simply ink her water bottle, snack box and what-not with a permanent marker. I have seen too many kids toting around stuff with peeling and scratched labels that have seen better days, and I didn’t believe in spending on something that would fall apart too quickly with everyday wear and tear. I mean, her stuff is going to get washed after every use, why bother with poor-quality labels that you pay for, when you can fashion equally poor-quality (albeit much uglier) ones out of masking tape or live with my fabulous scrawl on plastic (which can’t be a bad thing now that I am picking up modern calligraphy, riiiigghhht?)?

201405 ChildLabel 4I WAS SO WRONG. Wrong in that amazing labels that look good do exist! When Daphne of award-winning parenting blog Mother, Inc., also part of the trio behind Child Label, approached me for a review, I was somewhat skeptical. How could labels not budge when they weather that much abuse? Water, detergent, itchy fingers, scratches, knocks and bumps. How?!! I told Daphne that I would have to give them a really good run before letting her know my thoughts on the labels. So I waited, and waited, until Faith started going to school in late March this year.

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I slapped the stickers on things like her water bottle, snack box and folders. And I stuck the iron-on labels (which are super easy to apply, by the way) onto her school uniforms and even a somewhat heat-proof smooth patch that I found on her schoolbag. Two months have gone by and NOTHING HAS BUDGED. Nary a scratch or a corner threatening to peel. The stickers and iron-on labels remain colourfast. The stickers retain the glossy surfaces even after so many washes. I tried to pick at them and scratch them, but nope, they are good as new (even though Child Label says the labels might be vulnerable to constant picking). Some sorcery must have gone into them, but I don’t really care at this point, because they do a kick-ass job of keeping Faith’s things organised, and that’s all that matters!

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The best part is the labels are gorgeous and come in every permutation that one needs – different designs (all are super adorable and none are kitschy at all! We selected ‘GIrl Patterns’, one without any graphics, as Faith’s interests has been evolving rather quickly, and one ‘Give Me Everything’ pack has 130 freaking pretty mint, pale yellow and pink labels, so these are going to last her through to when she starts primary school, I reckon.), shapes (circle and rectangle), name/book/birthday labels depending on the occasion you need them for, and you can have English and Chinese characters printed on them as well (I didn’t show the Chinese ones in this post but we have them, and they look really good!). You can select from a couple of fonts for the English text too, and we went for American Typewriter for the cleanest look. Of course, S$50 might seem a lot of money to spend on labels, but given that the pack contains 130 labels, each cutie only works out to about S$0.38, and that is insanely good value-for-money, given how durable each label is! I highly recommend these labels to anyone who is looking to organise their children’s stuff for home, school, play, anything! Faith seems to think that it’s funny to stick ‘em labels on my forehead, but whatever floats your boat (of course, this is the only instance when I’m thankful that the labels don’t adhere permanently to my skin, that would be utterly disastrous).


Here’s your chance to get into some sticky business! Win a ‘Get Me Started’ pack, which contains a mind-boggling total of 86 labels, including 32 x Small Rectangle Sticker Labels, 14 x Circle Sticker Labels, and 40 x Rectangle Iron Ons, valued at S$30. Enter the giveaway HERE! Certain steps can be done once a day, for every day of the giveaway, so don’t forget to check back to get more entries into the draw!

Thank you, Child Label!

* I was gifted a ‘Give Me Everything’ Pack (worth S$50) for the purpose of this review. A ‘Get Me Started’ Pack (worth S$30) will also be sponsored by Childlabel for the winner of this giveaway. 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 shop online at Child Label!

Like Child Label on Facebook to be updated on the latest news and promotions.

Bali Eats: Merah Putih. GO. NOW.

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The beauty that is Merah Putih, its excellent food and warm service, left us completely blissed out and floored. Suffice to say that it is THE best meal I have had in a long time, one that sits so well on the palette and the soul, that I dream of it day after day, two months on since we travelled to Bali for our family vacation. The last time I felt this grand about a meal, was after being taken through the most whimsical, molecular gastronomical treat at The Fat Duck. And that IS saying something because we dined at Merah Putih with our toddler in tow; any parent would know that dining with children tends to take away the luxury of eating in peace, and that often means that mastication of food doesn’t take place long enough for us to appreciate the nuances of flavours in even the most delightful mouthfuls. Long story short, we tend to shove food down as quickly as we can before the kid insists that LUNCH IS OVER, MAMA, and the truth is, we would be thankful to simply finish our main course, let alone fully appreciate what we eat because meals are often over in a jiffy. It is with a tiny stroke of luck and stunningly good food that kept our toddler, and us, glued to the table for the entire meal.
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Soto Ayam

Merah Putih is located in a surprisingly quiet stretch along the long and winding Jalan Petitenget, segments of which are home to popular bars, restaurants, luxury hotels and chic boutiques. We took a cab straight to the restaurant after a mid-morning coffee break at Revolver Espresso (more to come on this hidden gem of a café), after realising that unit numbers don’t run in order for addresses in Bali. It was a wise decision because we would have gotten completely lost on foot, and it helps that Bluebird taxis are pretty safe to go with and fares are very, VERY easy on the pocket.
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Chargrilled Squid & Octopus
Banana blossom, chilli, tamarind, peanuts

Walking up the flight of stairs to the entrance of Merah Putih and into the bar, I cursed under my breath as I took in the swanky interiors; I was in a shabby tank top that has seen better days a decade ago, shorts and sandals and we were definitely under-dressed. I had expected some snooty wait staff to throw us glances of disapproval but there was absolutely none of that, and all we received were ooohs and aaaahs generously doled out to Faith, the littlest patron in the restaurant that afternoon. *phew* As we were led through the dark corridor to our table, both M and I let out gasps of delight at the gorgeous interiors. It was as if we had emerged from under layers and layers of foliage into a clearing. With lush greenery, fish ‘ponds’ skirting the perimeter and ample light coming through windows and the glass canopy above, it felt like we were walking into the most beautiful greenhouse (for all you annoying people, like me, who love to keep people from digging in by taking photos of the food, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful, naturally lit, restaurant to photograph your subjects). The only downside was the restaurant doesn’t provide high chairs for children, so we had to fashion a booster seat out of cushions that the staff provided and secured F to the chair with the buckle of our baby carrier.

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Fried soft shell crab salad, chilli, pickles

Merah Putih offers set lunches for only S$10 per person, but we ditched that and shared a few dishes over the signature Red (merah) & White (putih) Rice instead. Each course was about S$6-10, and the bill came up to about S$45+ for a very sumptuous lunch, including two mocktails (about S$3 each) and three individual servings of desserts (about S$4 each). Now, this may be rather expensive as compared to other meals we have had in Bali, but the quality of the food is unsurpassed, whether in Bali or other parts of the world.

To start off, we were served two complimentary portions of Soto Ayam; the warm, savoury broth was packed full of flavour from the chicken, shallots and herbs, and went perfectly with the fragrant Red & White rice. This was such a hit with Faith that we grudgingly gave up our portions for her. The waitress very thoughtfully gave us another on seeing this and Faith was much too happy to have an extra serving!

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Tahu Isi Jamur
Vegetable filled organic tofu fritters, oyster mushrooms

The Chargrilled Squid & Octopus proved to be one of the best versions I have ever had (the other stunner was an unforgettable octopus stew that our friend’s father whipped up when we visited them in Porto). The morsels were superbly tender, far from the chewy, rubbery nonsense that many others have served up, and boasted big flavours that were perfectly balanced – the dish was tangy, savoury and ever so slightly spicy for that tropical kick. It was absolutely mouthwatering, literally, in the best way possible!

Even though it was our least favourite dish in the repertoire that afternoon, Jangkang, the fried soft shell crab salad, was delightfully crispy and it came in very generous servings. This meant that M and I did not have to fight to the death for the last piece of crunchy goodness!
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Iga Sapi Bakar
Chargrilled beef shortribs, lalapan, sambal hijau

An underdog that made our hearts flutter, Tahu Isi Jamur, which consists of vegetable filled organic tofu fritters served with oyster mushrooms, was recommended to us by the waitress. We thought nothing of it when we first saw it on the menu and were not even close to ordering it as it didn’t sound all that interesting, but boy, were we glad to have trusted the waitress on this one. The perfectly deep-fried slivers of tofu, crispy, and quiveringly tender on the inside, were stuffed with well-seasoned sautéed oyster mushrooms, which tasted almost like chunks of very juicy and flavoursome meat!

My favourite dish has got to be Iga Sapi Bakar, which is a meltingly soft slab of chargrilled beef short rib that has just about lost all of its integrity, in terms of texture and morality because it made me gasp much too audibly. It was shockingly tender, I was most definitely too loud when I exclaimed, ‘OH-EM-GEE, THIS FEELS LIKE TOFU!’ when I cut into it with a fork, with nary a Newton exerted. Thankfully, the restaurant was rather empty and I only drew an embarrassed glance from the husband. Or maybe two glances, because I rolled my eyes and went, ‘OH MY…..’ after I popped a generous chunk of shortrib that was smothered in the rich peanut gravy (not unlike the best satay sauce you would have had) into my mouth. The shortrib came with a green sambal, which delivered the perfect spicy hit to cut the richness, almost unctuousness of the meat. I was annoyed when M took the last bite (‘I KNOW I SAID IT’S OKAY BUT NO, IT’S NOT OKAY’).

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Dessert board with our three picks

We were stuffed at this point but given the merits of the dishes before, we couldn’t leave without having some sweets. After all, we don’t know when we would be back in Bali again (although I have sworn the husband to making this an annual family pilgrimage…we have been to Bali four times and love it more and more each time we visit). M and I often talk about how meals are never quite perfect, with the starters and mains impressing us, and desserts letting us down, or vice versa, so we were very eager to test this theory out with Merah Putih, especially when it is touted to be one of the rising stars in Bali.

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Spiced chocolate tart, hibiscus jelly, cashew praline, vanilla ice cream

We were more than happy to have our theory proven wrong. The spiced chocolate tart was rich, lusciously smooth and subtly laced with cinnamon (I believe), and it went swimmingly well with the slightly tart, yet sweet, hibiscus jelly and crunchy, sweet praline. Of course, good quality vanilla ice cream couldn’t hurt!

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Kelapa Tart
Young coconut pannacotta, mango, palm sugar crumble

The coconut pannacotta was such a refreshing change from the usual English renditions I’ve had. It had the perfect wobble, and the mildly sweet coconut flavour was the perfect backdrop for the rich, smooth and tangy mango puree. The palm sugar crumble lent good crunch for a well-balanced contrast in textures.

201405 Bali Eats Merah Putih 9Kue Lapis
Calamansi lime brulee, spiced layer cake, nashi pear

M didn’t enjoy the Kue Lapis as much. To be fair, he has never liked the spiced layer cake. But I thought the spices in the cubes of kueh lapis went really well with the calamansi lime brulee. It’s a surprisingly good combination that works! My only complaint was the cream in the brulee has somewhat masked the tangy and citrusy fragrance of calamansi lime a little too much. Nonethless, I’d be happy to pay for this again!

201405 Bali Eats Merah Putih 10Faith absolutely working on the lychee and kemangi mocktail and her signature wave

You can probably tell by now that we had a whole lot of food and spent a fair bit of time at Merah Putih. We were pleasantly surprised by how amazing the food was, and we could eat in peace only because Faith thoroughly enjoyed the food too. Whenever she got impatient, waiting for the food to arrive or for the check to be signed, we took her to the sides to peer at the fishes in the ‘ponds’ and she was thrilled! The staff obviously love children too, so it made the lunch, which was tops to begin with, even better. Both M and I utterly regretted not having dinner at Merah Putih on our last day in Bali – we wound up at this tourist trap known as Warung Taulan, no thanks to touters, and had the worst food we have ever sank our teeth into in Bali. Well, there is only one thing left to do…I shall count down to our next trip to Bali and this time, I’d be sure to head to Merah Putih again. And I think you should too.

Merah Putih is located at:

Jl.Petitenget No.100x, Kerobokan
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia 80361
Tel: (0361) 8465950