The Things Ethan Says #1: Potat

Well, well, well. Look what we have here, TWO chatterboxes in the house now. Of course it’s time to get Ethan a thread on the things that he says.

I was sobbing over an incident sometime ago, and E dropped everything he was doing, sat down by my side, and patted me on my arm.

“MAMA, DON’T CRY. I POTAT YOU.”

No, he wasn’t referring to a potato, he just wanted to tell me that he will protect me. I know that because he thumped his chest with his cute little hand when he said that.

That said, I’ll never look at a potato the same way again.

My pint-sized, eyes-a-wandering, most unlikely bodyguard

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The Things That Faith Says #9: For Real

My five-year-old surprised me again today. 

F (hovering next to the dining table, a noticeable 2 heads taller than the tabletop): Mama, do you know why I am so tall now?

Me (startled by the sudden observation that she has grown that much but refusing to acknowledge that time has zipped by too quickly): Hmm…are you on tip-toes now?

F (grinning widely): NOOOO! I am going to be 6 years old, for real!

Me (in disbelief at what she just said): Did you just say ‘for real’?!

F: Yes!

Me: Who taught you that?!

F: My friends!

No shit, she is growing up much too quickly. FOR REAL. *facepalm*

It Can Wait

In the five years of becoming and being mum to two children, as well as relegating my needs and desires to the dumps, 2017 is finally a year of change, where I allow some recognition of the importance of self before others. About time, isn’t it?

It has been six months of facing my fears, doing what I would never have dreamt of doing before, putting myself out there waiting to be preyed on or judged (or both). I have been a beneficiary of teeming generosity and kindness of people out there, and have also shrunk in horror at the manipulative ways of scheming strangers who prey on the originality of my work. It has been an eye-opener, and I know that what I face is just the tip of the iceberg.

More so than ever, allowing myself to know what I am afraid of and yet, push ahead anyway, is single-handedly one of the most delicious, liberating experience I have ever had in my life. You know that pounding heart, the dry mouth and white knuckles on a death grip, followed by the surge of relief, joy, fear and exhilaration after that first, weightless drop on a rollercoaster ride that you have been dying to get on if-only-you-had-more-guts-but-you-went-on-it-anyway-because-MOMENT-OF-FOLLY? It’s that, but a million times better.

The creative process is marked by moments of inspiration, sparks that ignite when one least expects it, and the transience of discovery and revelation is what every creative person lives for. But, not everyone lasts long enough before these moments show up. That negative space, that gaping void between such moments is real, often meandered and punishing, and how one deals with that is directly related to whether one succeeds more often than fails.

Now, this is a harsh reality for me. Being a mother to two young children means that I often have to drop everything at once for my family. Ill health, bleeding wounds, tender hearts and empty stomachs are not well-acquainted with the virtue of patience. I have lost count of the number of times when I had to throw everything out of the window to attend to the needs of my family mid-spark. With that, I have also lost count of the number of times I felt frustrated, anxious and stifled by such untimely interruptions. And the guilt for feeling vexed in the first place, oh that guilt.

But they are part and parcel of Life. The rules are simple. If I want something I have never had, then I have to do things that I have never done. If I want to pursue what I am doing now whilst having a family to love and care for, then I have to learn to take that wretched negative space in stride. It’s not easy for me, and I am still struggling with this drought, but I want to put this down in writing to remind myself that it’s okay to be interrupted for as long as it is necessary.

Because, at the end of the day, what matters most is my family. My children, husband, parents and siblings. I am who I am because of them and the unconditional love they have given me.

Tonight, as I cuddled my second-born to sleep and kissed his smelly cheeks (which were smeared with drool….BOYS), I lamented those minutes before that had passed us by. The adorable way he ploughed through bedtime stories, the way he insisted on propping the pillows up in exact positions before he snuggled up to me for bedtime cuddles, the giggles when I pretended to be a T-Rex sniffing out my prey (that would be him) for quality control (lol). It wasn’t too long ago when he used to fit into one of my arms, and here I am, alarmed at how I could barely contain him in both arms now. My heart wept a little when I realised that I have always been running out of time with my loved ones, from when I was a child with nary a care in the world to the mother I am today. Time has never been on my side.

Everyday, there are wounded hearts to mend. Boo-boos to kiss away. People to love. Precious moments to ‘Be There For’, ones that could have been lost forever if we stopped taking notice. Grey hairs that betray the finity of time. Creeping inches and wiser comebacks that I may have missed. Chubby cheeks that will no longer be one year down the road. And who knows when we have to say goodbye to one another? So whatever it is that I am working on can absolutely wait. I may not be getting where I want to be as quickly as my heart desires, but that’s okay, because They can’t wait. We can’t.

Photo by: Grow Old With Me

Stylish Comfort in Le Petit Society’s Basics Collection + Promo Code!

Prior to the fitting session for Le Petit Society’s new Basics Collection, I had not given two hoots about twinning with the kids, let alone with the husband. But everything was changed as soon as we tried the clothes out at Le Petit Society’s “In Real Life” Concept store at Downtown Gallery!

You see, I always thought that twinning might look a little odd on us. The husband is really tall, I’m of average height, we have a son and a daughter, and I didn’t think twinning would work when we were literally ‘all shapes and sizes’. What the founders of Le Petit Society, Robyn and Dylan, have done is to create a cohesive collection that comprises pieces of complementary colours and simple designs, one that allows a family to ‘twin’ with one another without being identical if they didn’t want to. Best of all, the pieces are made of incredibly soft and smooth cotton, the very same fabric that makes true comfort and durability synonymous with Le Petit Society’s clothes for children, and M and I are so glad to have access to clothes as comfortable as our kids’ now!

We were invited to do a styled shoot for the official lookbook and I love how versatile the pieces are as one can come up with more permutations of twinning that what meets the eye. You may recognise some of the photos here if you have seen them on the site or on social media recently. The kids could twin with each other, I could choose to be matchy-matchy with the husband or with Ethan, and the husband can look cute with Faith in the same palette/design. The possibilities are endless.

You may think the lookbook is all there is to the Basics Collection, but think again. If you play around with the different pieces, the Basics Collection becomes anything but basic! Here’s how I styled my family over the weekend.

One of the statement pieces of the Basics Collection is the Playsuit with Leather Straps. The contrast cuffs in mustard green, the very cool (removable) leather straps and inner mustard green peekaboo lining make this piece one stunner that can tie in the look for you as a family. Simply pair the playsuit with the Basic Tank with Stripes in Mustard Green and twin it with the same tank in White! You could purchase the tanks as a set of two (in the same size) to save $12 too!

Did I mention that the cuffs are extendable and the leather straps can be adjusted to different lengths with the buttons, so the playsuit can potentially see a child through for a whopping two years? Talk about getting more bang for your buck!

Mothers who would like to twin with your children in the playsuit can opt for the Ladies’ Basic Fitted Dress in Dark Grey which is similar in colour and has a matching zipper detail on the front, as you will find on the playsuit. You can even pop the Ladies’ Basic Melange Grey Crop Two with Stripes over the dress, and voilà, you get a brand new outfit with the same dress! I love this combination as the crop tee is designed to cut off at the right part of the waist and it hides my jelly belly as opposed to revealing it.

See what I mean? I took these photos after a food baby went in there post-brunch. Not bad, huh?

Two other statement pieces in the collection are the Baby Romper with Gold Foil Skull and the Skull Print Tee in Black & Gold Foil. I absolutely love the skull motifs and I wish the tee comes in my size. I hear that some mums are slim enough to fit into the tween sized ones! Lucky them! The romper is great on its own and can be layered with the playsuit. If you have a toddler who’s about 90cm tall like Ethan is (or shorter) and an older child, I’d suggest getting the romper and the tee, for a bit of variation while twinning on the skulls. That way, your toddler can grow into the tee once he or she grows out of the romper.

The other piece I really like is the Ladies’ Basic Maxi Dress. It comes in two colours – Melange Grey and Navy. They are incredibly soft, stretchy (maternity-friendly) and come with side slits that flap around the calves very nicely, and yet retain your modesty if you are running after the children or squatting down. For nursing mums, you may consider the Ladies’ Basic Henley Maxi Dress (Melange Grey/Navy) as the dress comes with buttons down the front for easy access during nursing. The sizes of these maxi dresses do run a little small, so I’d recommend sizing up. Drop by the store at Downtown Gallery if you would like to try it on before purchasing. The best part of it all is I get to twin with Faith, who looks mighty adorable in the Basic Maxi Dress in Melange Grey! *squeals!* Faith is so happy with the dress that she asks to wear the maxi on repeat!

Again, for mummies, you could put on the Ladies’ Basic Navy Crop Tee with Stripes over the maxi dress in Melange Grey for a bit of a contrast and you have got yourself a new outfit!

The men are not left out of this collection too. Papas can choose from the Adult Basic Tees in Melange Grey and Navy. Now, before you think these tees look alike, look again! The Navy tee comes with a contrast collar but the Melange Grey comes with contrast cuffs AND collar! This applies to the boys’ tees as well. It’s the little details that count, you’d see that Robyn and Dylan have given this collection a lot of thought to ensure every piece is subtly different.

You may have seen some of the family twinning looks on the lookbook (below or on the Le Petit Society site), and over here, I show you how the family can rock a cohesive look without looking boring and identical. The stripes in Faith’s tee and mine are complementary, while she twins with Ethan who sports the same mustard green collar. Ethan and I are both wearing Navy, and M’s grey tee with a navy collar pulls the look together. The possibilities are truly endless and it’s the most Un-Basic Basics collection I have ever come across.

One of the plus points is that the pieces are very affordable, and some pieces go for a real steal if you buy a set of two in the same design but different colour. I have been wearing these very frequently for as long as they aren’t in the wash, and see myself looking nothing like the slob I was on school and grocery runs, and more like a well-dressed mum who insists on simplicity and comfort without compromising on style.

If you’d like to get your hands on the new collection, take 10% off the Basics collection (not applicable for bundle sets are they are deeply discounted) with the code LPSTPM10. The code also gives you 10% off regular-priced items you see site-wide, so you can have a look at the other offerings that Le Petit Society has as well! The code expires on Friday 6 October 2017, so shop away!

Special thanks to Robyn and Dylan for having us on the shoot. The photos turned out so beautifully that I reckon you should consider a side line as a professional photographer, on top of the amazing work that you are already doing with Le Petit Society!

*I was given the Basics Collection in exchange for the styled shoot and an honest review. No other monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.

Stylish Gaston Luga Backpack for the Un-Mum

You know how mums get a bad rep when it comes to appearance? We are supposed to be covered in day-old crusted pasta, wearing sweatpants that haven’t been washed in two weeks, and if we were the epitome of M-U-M, we would smell like garbage? Well, okay, that may be true by virtue of our lifestyles with the kids, but that doesn’t mean we can’t clean up and style up!

In the first year of motherhood, I’d say that I couldn’t be bothered to look like a human being on most days, but beyond that, once sleep was sorted and stylish mums were all over social media, I started giving two hoots about how I presented myself and paid a little more attention to what I was wearing, carrying, etc.

Unfortunately so, for the most part of motherhood, while I tried to look decent during weekends when we are out and about, I went out with ugly diaper bags. You know, functional, roomy, but really lacking in the looks department, the sort that ruins an #ootd. Now that my firstborn has been toilet-trained and only my toddler requires minimal diapers and wipes while we are out, I am happy to hand that knapsack we call a diaper bag to the husband or chuck it in the car, and I opt to carry a slim, tiny cross-body bag because…V-A-I-N.

But there have been times when I head out on my own with the kids and I wish I was carrying a backpack that is more stylish, something that doesn’t look out of place with a sundress or shorts or pants, something minimalistic, yet roomy enough to contain a few diapers, wipes and more.

 

Gaston Luga, maker of the most stylish, minimalistic backpacks, contacted me more than a month ago to ask if I would like to pick a backpack and give it a try. I showed the site to my husband and for the first time ever, we AGREE on the aesthetics and I happily picked one out to suit our needs as parents to a 5yo and a 2.5yo.

I decided to go for the Pråper in Black (I really wanted the Navy & Brown too but figured that black goes with everything in both our wardrobes), and both M and I let out a sigh when we unboxed it. It truly is a handsome number.

Most parts of the backpack is made of thick cotton, and it feels strong and durable without being too stiff. The top flap, bottom panel and smaller parts such as the tag have semi-matte finishes, which give the backpack a more refined appearance, as opposed to the Clässic ones which look more rugged.

What I really love about the Pråper in Black are the tiered hook closures; the hooks are very strong and sturdy, and I’d imagine that the backpack is likely to be theft-proof as once the hooks are secured into any of the four levels, it is pretty darn hard for a thief to pry the backpack open. Also, the inner opening of the backpack is held together by drawstrings that come together pretty tight, so that adds to the security that the bag can offer to your belongings. The downside is that if you are in a rush, it won’t be that easy to open up the backpack to access the contents, as compared to a zippered backpack for example. This may be a disadvantage to parents of younger children and babies, for instance, as we know that we need quick access in a hairy diaper situation! We use the backpack for when we are out and about, often preoccupied with the kids, and I do put my wallet and valuables in it, so I’d rather be secure than to have easier access.

If you prefer easier access, all’s not lost though; travellers would be glad to know that Gaston Luga backpacks come with a hidden, secure pocket at the back, in between the shoulder straps and one can fit a passport and travel tickets in it. This is a really thoughtful feature as this means that one need not fumble for the most important travel documents or even spare cash when you are rushing during transit!

The bottom of the Pråper is studded with four metallic feet, which give the backpack some form and allow it to somewhat stand (when filled, of course), and they help to protect the underbelly of the backpack. I really do like this detail and wouldn’t appreciate this backpack as much without the feet.

Now, the inside of the Pråper might look small, but I was surprised when I could fit quite a bit of stuff in it when we went for a staycation recently. I managed to fit two sets of clothes, toiletries, makeup, my giant wallet, travel pack of baby wipes, hand sanitisers and diapers in them! For those who move around with their laptops, you’d be glad to know that there’s a sleeve in it for a 13-15″ laptop and two pockets that can fit larger phones. I must say that if you are a new parent who needs to carry more than a few diapers, bigger pack of wipes and all that jazz that you will need to clean/change/make a baby comfortable, you are better off with the Clässic backpack. I have been told by the good people at Gaston Luga that those are far roomier than the Pråper.

The only gripe I have with the backpack is the thickness of the straps. I’m used to thicker, cushioned straps which offer me more comfort because I have severely-strained shoulders from all the years of mothering. They aren’t an issue when the Pråper is packed with lightweight items such as when I brought it along for our staycation, but I suspect a laptop plus a charger in there, in addition to my other belongings might put too much weight on my shoulders because the straps are not as wide as what I am used to on my ugly diaper bags.

Still, it’s a really good-looking, functional backpack that I am happy to bring on my solo jaunts out (yay!) or when I am with the kids if I don’t have to pack their entire playroom with me.

PROMOTION!

If you are keen to get a backpack from Gaston Luga (yes, they have got backpacks suitable for men too!), don’t forget to use my coupon code pleasuremonger to get an additional 15% off. This means that on top of the free shipping + 20% off as tax rebate (from non-EU country), you get another 15% off on the remaining price after tax rebate. Please see the breakdown below as a reference [in SGD] – do check the local website for the latest prices. You get a massive discount and I reckon it’s a pretty attractive deal with the coupon code!

*I received a Gaston Luga backpack in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation has been received.

 

Educate, Enrich and Engage With Toys from Owl Bliss + 20% OFF Promotion!

Anyone who knows me well enough will know this, that I don’t spend on loads of things for the children but I would be happy to part with my hard-earned monies for good-quality clothes, toys and wonderful reads. For instance, I’d rather splurge on one well-made toy that would last and entertain the children for a long time, than to buy a variety of cheaper knick-knacks of inferior quality, which are likely to fall apart or even fall out of favour with my children. I also lean towards getting toys that educate, enrich and engage during play.

Owl Bliss is an online store based in Singapore and it brings in THE most beautiful toys, nursery decor and children’s lifestyle goods. It is, in a nutshell, a store after my own heart, one that could potentially bleed me dry because EVERYTHING (not exaggerating here) the store stocks appeals to my sense of aesthetics. I consider myself to be very lucky to have the store owner ask me if she could send me two of its latest offerings from Moon Picnic. Beautiful, enriching and educational? YES, PLEASE!

I picked out one toy each for my kids, as you do when you want be fair.

Cross Stitch Friends is perfect for F! She is 5 years old and has always been good and intuitive with her fine motor skills (she figured out how to tie her hair and use the chopsticks on her own at age 3), but I thought this would take that inclination further as cross-stitching requires her to visualise the pattern, plan the steps needed to make that pattern and execute her plan by getting her to work those little fingers around a needle and thread. Prior to receiving the Rabbit from the Cross Stitch Friends range, I had not planned to get her started on cross-stitching anytime soon as needles are sharp and way too tiny for her to work with. This is why her newly minted Cross Stitch Friend is perfect; the needle is large, made of plastic, blunt, and this makes it safe for children her age to work with. Check out the embedded video to watch her first attempt.

F loves it so much that she does it almost daily, and now that she is getting used to the idea of cross-stitching, I am going to get yarn in different colours for her to create new ‘sweaters’ for her Friend! That should motivate her to come up with new designs but it’s really Mummy’s secret plan to get her to exercise her brain a little on how she might want to get the new patterns done!

E, who is 2 years and 5 months old, received a very well-made board with detachable and moveable features that is Make A Face.

At this age, E is learning to categorise emotions and explicitly doing so with words. “Ethan angry!” “Ethan is sad.” “Ethan happy!” You get the idea. I thought it’d be a great way to get him to work out facial expressions and match them to an emotion using the Make A Face board. It is also excellent for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills in prying the pieces out, flipping them over and rotating them. I love that it is well-designed, looks good (both in the kiddy and adult corners of our home) and extremely sturdy (it is made of wood). F loves to get in on the action as well when we try to explain how people may feel using the board, and how categorical emotions can have their nuances as well.

I see these two new toys going a very long way in our home. I like that they aren’t just a bunch of toys that have got lots of buttons for one to jab, and that they are truly interactive (between child and toy, and between child and adult as the adult guides child through using it), educational and enriching. I have my eye on the Pom Maker next; it is a to-die-for-CUTE donut-shaped pom-pom maker that is absolutely perfect for people who love to craft! I don’t do much craft but if you see the pom-poms that people have been making with it at #welovepommakers, you’d want to get one too!

You may shop online on Owl Bliss. Take 20% OFF STOREWIDE with the coupon code PLEASUREMONGER (valid until end of September 2017)!

*I was given two toys of my choice and I was not obliged to write a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation was received.

pediped®: The Best Shoes For Your Kids

Ethan is wearing Cliff White Navy shoes from the Grip ‘n’ Go™ range

I don’t always go for the best for everything that my children use but I insist on good shoes that promote healthy foot development. The shoes should be comfortable to walk in and they shouldn’t bite those little active feet! One brand that we keep going back to is pediped®; F, for example has been wearing them since she started walking at 13 months old! Safe to say that she has gone through three ranges in the pediped® footwear system, from Originals® (for children learning to walk) to Grip ‘n’ Go™ (for those transitioning from early walking to a confident stride) to Flex® (for confident walkers), and they are all superb. It’s been four grand years of wearing pediped® shoes!

Faith is wearing Maggie White sandals (one of the latest designs for SS17) from the Flex® range

Ever since E started walking at 16 months, I too bought him pediped® shoes because we had such great experience with them. In fact, E has a few hand-me-down pairs from Faith. I can attest to the quality and durability of pediped® shoes, they keep well and I even managed to sell most pairs off as they were in excellent condition in spite of daily wear and storage after the kids grew out of them!

Yes, they are more expensive than regular shoes, but if you break it down, one really gets more bang for buck in the long run because of the astounding quality. I cannot even begin to count the number of times F pleaded with me to purchase cheap shoes that look good (and I cave because they ARE cheap) and she ended up limping because she suffered from blisters within half an hour of wearing those shoes. This doesn’t ever happen with pediped® shoes!

The nice thing about these shoes is they come in a variety of good-looking colours and designs. I tend to go for white-based ones to pair them with as many outfits as possible. F’s Maggie White sandals are a fine example of a classic design that looks good AND feels good on the feet! Shoes from the Flex® range also come with insoles as part of the Flex® fit system, allowing us to adjust the fit of the shoes to prolong wear. I tend to size up when purchasing from this range and use the system to increase the mileage for these shoes.

For new parents who aren’t aware of what to look out for on the market, trust me and give pediped® a shot. They are well worth the money (don’t forget to follow these guys on Facebook and Instagram to get first dibs on warehouse sales which offer MASSIVE discounts for when you want to stock up in large quantities). Just one pair with a classic design will take you through any occasion and they will survive daily wear much, much better than shoes from other brands; for this reason, I consider this money well spent! Take it from this mama who has been purchasing pediped® shoes for a total of five years between the two kids!

You can shop online for these shoes over here.

*I was given two pairs of shoes of my choice and I was not obliged to write a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation was received.

Cloversoft: Helping Us Save Trees and Polar Bears One Wipe at a Time

I have been looking to replace our household and personal grooming products with more sustainable, eco-friendly, non-toxic, yet equally (if not, more) effective options, and sometimes, it is an uphill, not to mention expensive, task. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we are completely green now, because we still use a fair amount of disposables and are unable to see ourselves doing without them given our needs; we are a busy household with two young children and I do lots of heavy cooking and baking.

It is therefore good news all around when I learnt that we can now get hold of sustainable disposables at competitive prices from Cloversoft. We go through a lot of baby wipes, tissue, toilet paper and paper towels in our home because of the kids and all that cooking/baking. We also go through a lot of water and I am ashamed to say that our water bills are still a little higher than that of our neighbours, even though we have made conscious attempts to cut our usage down. With Cloversoft products in my arsenal, we can reduce our usage of unsustainable, toxic yuckies, and that of water, and I have to say that I am very pleased!

What’s the difference between Cloversoft products and counterparts on the market?

The wipes, tissue, toilet rolls, kitchen & hand towels, multipurpose cloth from Cloversoft are made from 100% unbleached bamboo, NOT from trees! Counterparts on the market are made from plastic (wipes) and trees (all others), and they are bleached; these spell trouble for our skin and environment. Bamboo is a more sustainable option that constitutes less carbon footprint, and it has natural anti-bacterial properties (that also means there’s no need to use pesticides in growing bamboo). Cloversoft products are also very competitively priced, and it makes perfect sense to switch to them if you haven’t already done so. Cloversoft also donates part of the proceeds to Polar Bear International, to save our beloved polar bears, one at a time.

“MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO SAVE AT LEAST 10,000 TREES AND A POLAR BEAR IN YOUR LIFETIME.” – Alps Group

  1. Organic Baby Wipes Extra Moisturising (70 sheets per pack) I first purchased these wipes by the carton and was sold on my first use. Each sheet is extra thick, large, and one goes a long way in cleaning whatever mess, as compared to me having to use 3-4 wipes from another brand. The wipes are very gentle on the children’s skin, and that’s saying something as my firstborn has very sensitive skin. I use them at mealtimes, potty times, everything, and I can’t live without them. These wipes are free of alcohol, chlorine (unbleached), phthalates, paraben, phenoxyethanol and formaldehyde, and are unscented and non-toxic. I love them so much that I purchased another carton again when we ran out, and bought the travel-pack anti-bacterial version for when we are out and about.
  2. Organic Anti-Bacterial Wipes (40 sheets per pack) These are so incredibly useful for when we are out and about, as we want portable packs that can help us clean out 99.9% of bacteria when we don’t have access to soap and water. I brought these to Bangkok when we were there for a holiday recently because I wanted these to go into our diaper bag, so we didn’t have to lug the 70-sheet-packs out of the hotel. I didn’t even finish using one pack of this in the four days we were in Bangkok because each sheet is extra thick and large, and was so efficient at wiping dirty surfaces and hands down. These are free of nasties as well and are very gentle on the skin.
  3. Unbleached Bamboo Facial Tissue (2 Ply, 150 sheets per pack) I have also switched out all the paper tissues in our home for bamboo tissues, and they are as strong, absorbent and are suitable for sensitive skin.
  4. Unbleached Bamboo Travel Tissue (2 Ply, 50 sheets per pack) These are travel packs and needless to say, they lighten our loads for when we are out!
  5. Premium Bamboo Kitchen & Hand Towels (160 sheets per pack) I go through A LOT of paper towel rolls because I cook and bake a lot and I need to be very hygienic in my preparations. I even dry my hands on them instead of hand-drying cloths because I want to move on quickly to the next step (especially important in cake decorating) and be 100% clean when preparing food. These are absorbent, strong, and do a fantastic job, and they are made from bamboo, so I feel much better about using disposables when I know that hygiene cannot be compromised.
  6. 100% Unbleached Bamboo Cloth Multipurpose Wipes (52 sheets per roll) Now, this is MAGIC! It acts as an oil sponge that can be reusable for up to 20 washes. I don’t know how it works but it effectively removes grease when it is wet. No detergent is required, all one has to do is to wet a sheet and wipe down greasy pans, surfaces, etc, rinse it quickly (and very easily) under water (all the grease just slips right off the wipe and the sheet can be re-used)! The sheet remains intact with high tensile strength and does not break off like regular paper towels when they are wet. I find that this helps me save so much water and detergent. Previously, I was stuck between using plenty of paper towels and gallons of running water and dishwashing liquid to remove cake batter or food grease from my mixing bowls, pans, etc. Using these wipes to remove food debris prior to a wash has helped me save so much water and disposables, and I am very pleased with that! Just check out the photos below and see how clean the wipe is after rinsing the batter off very briefly under running water.

Clean sheet ready to be used

Cookie batter residue largely removed with one wipe and the sheet is loaded with grease

After second wipe and second rinse, the grease just slips off the sheet and the sheet can be reused!

I have had a very good experience using these products and will continue purchasing them. I strongly encourage you to make the switch to using Cloversoft, it’s really a no-brainer because the products competitively priced, as effective (if not more), and they represent a means through which one can help to save the environment (less deforestation, less chemicals washed into the oceans, less toxicity to all lifeforms) and polar bears, and to reduce the exposure of our families to nasties. In short, you do more with the same amount spent. You also get free delivery within Singapore for orders above SGD40, so it’s a win-win all around!

*I was given some Cloversoft products and purchased the majority of them. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation was received.

Love Your Leather Right with The ShoeTree Project!

Ever since I became a mother, I abandoned many of my belongings in favour of child-friendly ones. Bags that I wouldn’t cry over if they were scratched or stained, shoes that I wouldn’t mourn if they were stepped on. To put it simply, all my leather goods went into storage because I knew they wouldn’t stand up to use and abuse. But being a leather noob, I had no idea that they would start drying up and cracking if I don’t use them, so one day, when I unearthed my fancy leather heels for a date night out with M, I was horrified to see that the leather had cracked after so many years in storage. The shoes were beyond repair.

M, on the other hand, uses leather goods almost everyday. Shoes, wallet and belt for work, mostly, and his shoes take the most beating. We have been very negligent and lazy when it comes to taking care of his shoes, and we do see scuff marks and creases forming, but we just couldn’t be bothered to do anything about them, because…LIFE.

The good people at The ShoeTree Project approached me to give their Saphir Renovateur Leather Cleaner & Conditioner a try. It is touted to prevent cracks and prolong the life of leather shoes (or even bags) by keeping the leather supple and moisturised with its proprietary blend of all-natural mink oil, lanolin, and beeswax. The conditioner is awarded the Medaille d’Or (gold medal) in Paris, 1925, so I thought it must be good stuff that my leather goods would drink up!

I first tried it out on two pairs of M’s leather shoes. All I did was to dab a small amount of the conditioner on a clean and dry cotton cloth and rub it in in a circular motion all over the shoes.

The first thing I noticed was the fine creases looked less obvious or even disappeared after the moisturising conditioner was applied. The deeper, more stubborn creases which have been formed over time at areas where bending/folding mostly occurred are still there, and I can understand that because we had not conditioned any of his shoes from the time of purchase (some have been used for ten years!) to the time when the Saphir conditioner was sent to us. This just tells me that we have to be start conditioning our leather goods before it’s too late! Also, the conditioner has mild cleaning properties and grit and grime were largely removed. You can clearly see the cleaning and conditioning properties of the Saphir Renovateur Leather Cleaner & Conditioner by comparing the before-and-after photos in the animated GIF above.

The second thing I noticed was that the conditioner appears to darken the colour of M’s (second pair of) shoes but the colour has gradually lightened in the days after. They look more supple, if you will, and the conditioner imparts a nice sheen that isn’t too glossy or unnatural on the leather.

My qualm with the conditioning process is that the action of rubbing has deepened some scratches/cracks that were already present on the shoes. I suppose this is inevitable; we all know we can’t just go rubbing into these cracks and not expect something to happen. It’s a painful lesson to learn for us, that we REALLY have to condition leather goods right from the beginning, so as to prevent cracks from forming in the first place. No amount of conditioning would work to reverse the process once cracks or deep scratches are there. Don’t neglect your leather goods like I did!

I do like the Saphir Renovateur Leather & Conditioner. At $25 a pop, it’s pretty affordable given that you only need a tiny dab to work a large surface. I’ve barely made a dent in my jar after using it on our shoes and bags. Be careful when rubbing the conditioner, or anything for that matter, on cracks/deep scratches, the friction will cause more damage so be gentle! If you are fortunate enough to have your leather babies still in pretty good condition, start showing them some TLC today if you haven’t already.

Saphir Rénovateur Leather & Conditioner is available for purchase on The ShoeTree Project. You’d be glad to know there is free shipping for all local orders!

*I was given a jar of Saphir Rénovateur Leather & Conditioner for the review and no monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

Dear Ethan: Two Too Soon

Dear Ethan,

They say that the years pass us by as the kids grow older, and I thought I understood that full and well having watched your sister sprout much too quickly from an infant to a toddler to the preschooler she is today. But, oh are the years really whizzing past with you in the mix! How did you grow from that scrawny little orange kampong chicken that you were to the strong-willed, fearless, active, snail- and dinosaur-loving, conversing boy with a cute tum-tum that you are today? It’s as if you have decidedly stepped up, just so you could catch up with your sister, who sings, talks and plays with you everyday.

Now, I know I said in my previous letter to you that you would wait in the wings for Mama, no matter how badly you wanted me. Well, I take that back. Nothing’s too urgent for you now, my son. “Mama, I want eat dinner.” “Ethan, I still need time to cook. ” “NOOOOOOOarrrrghhhh!!!!!” ” Mama, play big piano.” “Ethan, please let me finish up my dinner.” “NOOOOOOOarrrrghhhh!!!!!” “I want Mama play wif meeee.” “Okay, please wait for a while.” “NOOOOOOOarrrrghhhh!!!!!” When push comes to shove, you vent your frustration and smack the floor, table or even your poor sister right on the head if she happened to be the one who was, intentionally or not, in your way.

I’m not sure if this is what comes with being two, but to be honest, your sister was not as insistent at your age. This is somewhat new to me and it is proving to be a real challenge managing your big emotions whenever we have to say no or have you wait. You can’t take no for an answer, and wouldn’t have things any other way, and you certainly make yourself heard a million miles away if we don’t accede to your demands. There lies the dilemma, of whether to take the easy way out of giving in to you and risk having you learn that all you need to is scream to get your way, or to take the long, hard road of talking things out and teaching you to regulate your emotions. It’s so easy to give in to you though, your big Bambi eyes are my Kryptonite, and the smiles you flash melt everyone who has laid their eyes on you; but in the bigger scheme of things, I know better than to pander to your every whim, because I know that it’s far more important to nurture your strong-willed nature into something that will take you further in life. You must find it difficult to understand why Mama and Papa have to be firm and stern with you, and I don’t blame you, you are after all only a little more than two years old, but I hope that you will appreciate our thoughts by the time you are able to read this letter.

The wonderful thing about that titanium will of yours is that you are determined to complete any task (dangerous ones included) once you have set your eyes on it. You will not budge or give up, much less succumb to temptations that we toss your way in an attempt to distract you from whatever you are bent on doing. It is an impressive trait to see in your cherubic self, and it is my greatest wish that you will grow up pivoted on this and channel it to doing good.

As much as I look forward to seeing you grow and mature into a fine young man, it is bittersweet to watch you shed that baby-ness with each day. You started school at 23.5 months old, 4.5 months later than your sister did. I was torn between keeping you home so Mama could have you all to myself for a little longer and having you learn to interact with others, hence the delay in putting you in school. You would think Mama would be all heartless as I have accumulated a wealth of experience in dropping your sister off since she was 19 months old, but I remember being nonetheless anxious and tearful when I said goodbye to you after sitting in with you on your first day of school. Three weeks were all it took for you to stop crying (and me, in the car) at drop-off, a lot sooner than your sister did, but my heart ached much more this time round and I’m not sure why. Perhaps, it’s because I have learnt to be less hung up about the minute details of parenthood and to simply relish in you littles being…little, and I knew that dropping you off in school means you will grow to be independent of Mama that much sooner. Indeed, just slightly more than three months in, you have grown so much quicker than what Mama’s heart can grapple with. I peek at you from outside the classroom and I see you reading books aloud to your new friends, singing songs and growling as you plonk the safari animals around, truly enjoying social interaction and chatting with your teachers and friends. These are all good things, incredible milestones to celebrate, don’t get me wrong, but I sometimes wish…that you could stay a baby, my baby, forever.

These days, you run into my arms whenever I pick you up from school and you rattle on and on about what went on throughout your day. “Mama, I sing Happy Burfday.” “Mama, I eat cake today. Nice.” “Mama, I go playground today. I like (b)icycle.” “Mama, Teacher (Di)ana read book.” “Mama, Archie bite me.” Each time you do that, it strikes me (hard) that you are creating memories of your own without Mama in them, and my heart breaks at that thought. And when you beckon me over as you say, “Mama, come, come play, come ON” or when you lecture, “Ethan no beat Jie Jie, no shout people, not nice, hands are for sayang, right?” I wonder if you are a big boy trapped in a toddler’s body, and I dread what’s to come. Is Mama too selfish to want to be your only world? Is Mama…foolish to not want to lose you to time?

While I pray that you do not slip away into adulthood without me noticing, I shall relish in you being little. At two years old, you may no longer fit into my arms, but I will cradle you. I will blissfully sink into the pillow propped up on the daybed in your room, cuddle you close and listen to you read your favourite bedtime stories (Time For Bed and Shhh, We Have A Plan). And we will clap spiritedly as you finish narrating (and asking me a thousand questions, “Mama, why so many birds?”). Then I will ask if you would like Mama to carry you to sleep; you would hop onto my lap with a big smile on your face with your tongue wagging, and you would make yourself comfortable in the cradle of my right arm. Then I will ask you if you are happy, and you will tell me all the things that delighted you that day.

“I like Mama. I like Jie Jie. I like Papa.”

“I eat fish. I like fish.”

“I like playground, and and and dye-o-saur.”

“I see (ptero)dactyl today. I touch dye-o-saur leg. SO BIIIIG! I not scared.”

“I like snail. Mama, why Papa Snail go home? Where Baby Snail? Baby Snail die??”

“Mama, Papa bring me play rock today. I like rock. I like running.”

“I like swimming wif Papa, Mama and Jie Jie.”

I will do all of the above for as long as you let me. And perhaps, one day, at bedtime, when you are old enough to ask Mama what makes me happy…I’ll say,

“I like you.” And you will know how much you delight me everyday, too.

Don’t grow up too quickly, but if you must, let Mama hold your hand for a little longer, okay?

Love always,

Mama