Category Archives: Lifestyle Goods

Keep Your Home Clean, Green and Baby-Friendly with Dapple

Some of you may know that I have been pruning our home-cleaning and even skincare routines, keeping the products we use to the greenest that we can afford, all this without compromising on efficacy. This clean and green movement is looking really good with more products that are readily available locally now, and I am happy to add the Dapple family of goodies to our cleaning regime!  I was sent a couple of Dapple products, including the Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid (Fragrance Free), Toy & Highchair Cleaner, and Baby Stain Remover Spray and I’m really happy with the cleaning prowess of these products and am most impressed by the Baby Stain Remover Spray (see photos below for evidence)!

Dapple Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid

The Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid is excellent for removing milk residue and odour from Ethan’s sippy cup and cooler bag. Even though he has been weaned off breastmilk, I pack a sippy cup full of fresh milk in a cooler bag for his snack time at school. Unfortunately, the cup isn’t spill-proof and some milk leaks out into the cooler bag. The teachers don’t have the time to clean the milk residue off immediately and when left to fester for an entire day before we get home…let’s just say the cooler bag smells extremely offensive. As the cooler bag isn’t supposed to be washed, what I do is to wet a cloth with a smidgeon of the Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid, and wipe! I don’t even rinse the cooler bag and I know it’s safe as the Liquid is free of SLS, SLES, artificial fragrances, dyes, parabens, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, chlorine, formaldehyde, and alcohol. The offensive smell is removed and the cooler bag is all cleaned up for the next day. With the sippy cup, I simply wash it as per normal with the Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid, and it gets all cleaned up in a jiffy. A little goes a really, really long way, so I do see the 500ml bottle lasting us for quite a while before we purchase the refill. I was also given the travel-sized bottle (88ml) with a lavender fragrance, and I’m eager to bring this with us on our next holiday!

Toy & Highchair Cleaner 

Ethan is a really messy eater. He picks up bits and pieces of food with his hands, puts them on the spoon before eating (don’t ask me why) and then smears his greasy hands all over his hair, face and the highchair. Every meal time ends with either a massive wipe-down or a wash in the bathroom (I’m referring to both Ethan and the highchair). These days, I have been using the Toy & Highchair Cleaner to take the grease off the highchair and it’s doing a pretty good job! After removing solid bits of food, I simply spray and wipe and the chair is spotless again. I love that the cleaner is free of SLS, SLES, artificial fragrances, dyes, parabens, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, chlorine, formaldehyde, and alcohol. This means that it is safe to use on highchairs and toys, as Ethan often picks things up from the table on the highchair to eat and puts toys in his mouth, and I like that none of these nasty chemicals are getting ingested.

Baby Stain Remover Spray (Fragrance-Free)   

I decided to give the Baby Stain Remover Spray a try when Faith spilt some orange-coloured multi-vitamin liquid on her white pyjamas one morning. All I did was to remove the excess liquid by dabbing on it with a piece of tissue paper, applied some of the Baby Stain Remover Spray on the stain, rubbed and agitated the stain, left the stain to soak in the stain remover for about 10 minutes before putting it into the wash. And the pyjamas came out looking like brand-new! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to work because the stain was pretty obvious on the white fabric, but it did! I think this will come in really handy as Ethan often spills food on his clothes and some of his onesies have been badly stained because we couldn’t remove them with anything we have at home. The Baby Stain Remover Spray is said to be formulated for cloth diapers, so I reckon it is pretty effective for everything else that isn’t as offensive!

Before applying the stain remover

After applying the stain remover, rubbing on-site and leaving it for 10 minutes. After this, I put her pyjama top into the wash.

The stain was completely removed after the top came out from the wash!

I think there is a common perception that green products are usually expensive and ineffective. Whilst the former can be true of most green products, I can attest to the fact that only very small amounts of these Dapple products are needed to clean effectively and that means we save more in the long run whilst keeping our homes and the environment cleaner, greener and safer. It’s really worth the switch to environmentally-friendly products that are free of toxins for our children and I cannot recommend these products enough!

PROMOTION

For those of you who are keen to give Dapple products a shot but do not wish to commit to full-priced items, you may be keen to purchase a Dapple starter pack at a promotional price of $30 (retail price  $40.70, usual price on Qoo10 $32.90) from this site on Qoo10. Don’t forget to quote “pleasuremonger” at the <Memo to seller> field during check out to obtain free samples too! This promotion is valid from 8 May to 15 May 2017.

*I was given the above products for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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.

Family Photography: Grow Old With Me

Moments. The biggest ones that make your heart leap. The most insignificant ones that escape your consciousness. The ones when you laugh till your belly hurts. The ones that you’d rather others not know about. There are, too, the quiet ones when time stands still, and those pauses that seem to take far too long to skip. They make up our lives, our passage here in the world we know, and they make more difference, in the lives of the people who love you, than you think they do.

When I was on the cusp of my teens through to my twenties, I hated being photographed. I didn’t know how to smile for the camera and I certainly didn’t like the way I looked. All that changed when I started dating the love of my life. Suddenly, I was desperate to record every waking moment spent with M, determined not to let those times slip away because…really, I have the memory of a goldfish and I don’t want to forget the moments that we share. Never mind the huge cystic pimple on my nose when I headed to London to visit him, never mind the crooked teeth, I just wanted to capture as many smiles (awkward ones too) as possible.

When I moved to London, I dabbled in very (very) amateur photography. It started with food photography and styling, and then I tried my hand at taking travel shots. M often rolled his eyes at me for trying to take photographs of him too, but hey, good or bad, we now have tonnes of memories to fill the album with.

Now that we have children, I make it a point to do a family photoshoot once a year, much to the horror of M initially. “A few hundred bucks spent on photos?!” That’s what he used to say until he saw the coffee table albums I put together and realised how precious it was to be able to thumb through beautifully captured moments of the kids growing up and of our family just hanging out together. It has come to a point where he goes, “Let’s get A (our usual family photographer) to take our photographs again this year!” Because you see, sometimes when life gets tough and discouraging, M and I often snuggle up in bed at night to look at our family photos, and that is all it takes to get us back up on our feet again.

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Not all photoshoots are created equal though. I had one where the photographer physically moved our body parts (can I just say we were absolutely stiff and it was hard for the photog to move us too) so that we looked perfect for the shot; while that works for people who aren’t as stiff and are more intuitive at posing for photographs (I am absolutely envious of people who know how to work the camera), M and I just end up looking and feeling ridiculous and self-conscious because we aren’t naturals in front of the camera.

When Gideon from Grow Old With Me approached us to do a photoshoot, the first thing I did was to check out his portfolio to make sure that our styles align. As we aren’t good in front of the camera, we needed a photographer who can coax genuine emotions out of us and that’s what I saw in his work with other families. Eyes squeezed shut amidst hearty laughs, flailing arms that end in the biggest hugs, thoughtful, quiet exchanges, knowing smiles. And that’s exactly what we got out of the hour we had with Gideon.

He made an effort to get to know us, what we do, who we are, how we parent; he even knows what makes us joyful and what makes us tick. My kids usually take pretty long to warm up to people but they took to Gideon very quickly. He has a way with children, getting to their eye levels, asking questions and playing games with them; that is pretty much how he worked his magic to get Faith and Ethan to be at ease and just hang out as they usually do with us. It didn’t matter if two cameras were clicking away. The entire session was easy, comfortable and it felt like we were catching up with an old friend. Many shots were taken while we were still chatting away with Gideon, some were taken in the midst of a guided conversation we had with the kids, and others were captured when we were just having a grand ol’ time being outdoors. Sure, the children did whine a little because of the heat, but that’s to be expected anyway.

The best thing about Gideon is he wants to be there. He shared that Grow Old With Me came about because it was a natural progression to grow with the newlyweds that he has photographed, as they begin their journeys in parenthood. He recognises the ups and downs of parenthood, and sees each photoshoot as an opportunity for the family to bond. It is this that drives him to capture the moments that might have otherwise gone unnoticed in our daily lives, and I am thankful that he shared this ethos with us. Our exact sentiments, really.

We really like how the photos turned out; in fact, I just spent two hours grinning like a goofball while reliving the moments we shared that day (someone’s got to do the hard work of picking out photos to put up on the blog, there are too many good ones!). I shall leave the photos with you (it’s a slideshow and may take a while to load) and don’t forget to check out the promotion below!

Promotion:

I heard from Gideon that Grow Old With Me is looking to plan some activities that would help parents better capture moments with their children, and I honestly can’t wait to see how that pans out. While that is still work in progress, if you are looking to do a family photoshoot, you might be glad to know that Grow Old With Me is offering a 20% discount on the hour-long ‘The Family Bonding’ package (usually priced at $328), which which suits a family of 6 people (max). All photos will be processed and returned in high resolution (digital format) within a week. It’s a pretty amazing deal, if you ask me, so hurry and book a slot with Grow Old With Me! The promotional code GOWM is valid until the end of April 2017.

Like Grow Old With Me on Facebook and stay updated on Instagram over @growoldwithmesg as well!

*I was gifted a photography session for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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.

Nourish Your Skin with the Rose Whipped Hydra Mask from Botáni

Some of you may remember that I suffered from facial eczema patches for more than 1.5 years and was cured of them after I started using natural and organic Botáni skincare products, available at Love Organic. It has been more than 6 months since I started using Botáni products religiously and I am happy to report that I have been free of eczema.

My skincare routine has been very nicely cleaned up, and so is my skin! I rarely suffer from irritation or breakouts; even the monthly hormonal surges barely aggravate my skin now. In fact, I love the Botáni products so much that I bought some as Christmas presents for my friends last year!

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Over the past 3 months, I have also had the opportunity to try the Rose Whipped Hydra Mask, gifted by Love Organic. I have been using it once or twice a week as an overnight mask (one can also clean it off but I like to leave it on for pampering nights). I was a little concerned about the scent at first, as I am very sensitive to smell but the mask proved to be very soothing indeed, so long as I apply a thin layer (which is more than sufficient for adequate hydration in an air-conditioned room) to my face. I wake up with smooth and glowing complexion, and my skin feels soft and plump, even after a night of sleeping in the freezing cold (M likes the room chilled…’sufficiently’). On the eve of date nights or functions where I would like to look my best, the mask is my go-to for an overnight perk-me-up as well!

The Rose Whipped Hydra Mask is packed with nourishing botanicals such as natural Betaine, Mountain Pepper Berry, Olive Squalane (the natural, best alternative to the squalene in our skin) and Olea Europaea Fruit Oil. It boasts hydrating and antioxidant properties, and help to deliver moisture deep into the skin while strengthening the skin’s barrier at the same time. Before you go wondering if the mask is oily, thick and much too rich for our hot and humid weather here, it is really quite like that delectable, whipped cream, one that is lighter than many night creams and masks, as its name suggests. I have normal-to-combination skin (it used to be very polarised with a disgustingly oily T-zone and dry patches on the periphery, but my skin has since calmed down after the switch to natural and organic skincare) and while the mask works very well for me, it is said to be suitable for all skin types.

I have to say that I rarely use masks because they are expensive and/or they don’t do very much for me. As much as I am vain, I don’t like sleeping with a thick mask slathered all over my face just to look better either, but the Rose Whipped Hydra Mask is something that I look forward to using for its hydrating, soothing and relaxing properties. I consider it to be a very affordable mask to add to one’s skincare routine as well, given its efficacy and I’d be a fool to not purchase another tub when my current one runs out.

You can shop for Botáni skincare at Love Organic.

*I was given the Rose Whipped Hydra Mask for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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.

 

Good Riddance to Burning Pains With PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser

We haven’t got enough space for a proper writing desk at home and we have resorted to working at the dining table when the need arises. Sometimes, I work on the laptop at my vanity dresser too if I want to be in the comfort of my room, but no matter where I work, I end up with burning pains in my neck and shoulders after 10-15 minutes. The kind that renders me unable to turn or tilt my head without screaming for the husband to help, the kind that bothers me so much that I can’t go to sleep.

It’s no wonder how much I try to avoid working on my laptop. I can’t be bothered to backup photos as often, edit or write if I can help it. I end up getting a lot of stuff done on the phone, but we all know that nothing beats going on the laptop for certain projects, and working became (literally) a real pain in the neck.

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Without the laptop riser
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With the laptop riser. See the difference?

When Laptop Stand Singapore contacted me to give their PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser a try in exchange for an honest review, I jumped on the opportunity. It is touted to help reduce the physical stress that we get from working on the computer for too long, by raising the laptop to a more comfortable height.

I was curious at first, as I was certain I didn’t hunch over my laptop. It turned out that I was doing that unknowingly, because after using the PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser, I could go on working on the laptop for at least 45 minutes before starting to feel the strain on my neck and shoulders. By raising the laptop to a height that is closer to the eye-level, I no longer subconsciously hunch or jut my neck out (like a pigeon) to read whatever’s on the screen (something that I notice I was doing when comparing my postures with and without the riser). The slanted keyboard did feel a little awkward at first, as I was used to typing on a flat surface, but I got over that gradient after about two sessions, and now I feel more comfortable using my laptop on the riser instead.

The laptop riser is very light and portable (26cm in length, 18.5cm wide and 8cm high), and as you can see, you could stuff your external hard drive etc under the riser if you need more space at the sides of your laptop. You could also collect the cables through the hole at the back of the laptop riser to neaten things up on your workspace. A laptop riser is really a multi-tasker then, if you take maximising workspace productivity into consideration. It has rubberized silica gel pads on the top surface and bottom surface to increase friction (so that your laptop doesn’t slip right off) and to prevent scratches on laptop. The riser is also suitable for laptops up to 17 inches and so it works for most laptops out there. The best thing is that this simple gadget is rather slim as compared to its counterparts and looks good in any household (long-time readers will know how obsessed I am about things like that). At only $34.90, it really is an affordable solution to enhance your experience working at the laptop and to banish the pains that you may get from working on the laptop for too long. I really can’t live without mine now; it’s a good thing the husband doesn’t work as much as I do so I don’t have to share!

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There are also plenty of other workspace solutions over at Laptop Stand Singapore if you are looking to maximise productivity and space, and I’d say if Christmas shopping for that practical someone in your life is proving to be a challenge, this might be a good place to start!

Thank you, Laptop Stand Singapore!

*I was given the PRIMERO ErgoSilver Laptop Riser for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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.

Miracle for My Skin: Love Organic, Love Botáni

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In the third trimester that I was pregnant with Ethan, three eczema patches showed up on my face that left me wondering what went wrong with my skincare regime. At first, I thought it was just pregnancy hormones messing my skin up, but when the three scaly, itchy, dry patches grew larger, even long after I have given birth, I had a hunch that my body was reacting to the chemicals in the skincare products I was using and that it was time to overhaul my beauty regime. Yes, I was on a mission to clean things up, quite literally, because I am convinced my skin was suffering from the effects of harsh chemicals slathered on my face.

For many months, I used calendula on my skin. The formulation we had worked wonders to get rid of Faith’s eczema, and I applied the calendula ointment on my face to see if it might help with the patches. The wonderful bit is two of the three patches cleared right up. The bad thing is one stubborn patch remained on my left cheek. That patch annoyed me to no end, as it looked red if I didn’t put on any makeup, and if I did paint my face, the patch showed up dry and flaky and there was nothing I could do to conceal it.

After this, I tried different organic and natural skincare products from local and international brands in an attempt to improve the condition of my skin. Whilst the products have been excellent at really nourishing my sensitive skin without stinging or causing itch, none could get rid of the third eczema patch on my face. I was about to give up on the search and cave into using steroids when I stumbled upon the Botáni range of natural and organic Australian skincare carried by a local store, Love Organic.

Karen, of Love Organic, very generously sent me a couple of Botáni products to try, and one and a half months after using them, I am completely sold. Yes, COMPLETELY, you read that right.

Just a little background on Botáni products before I go into the details of how the products helped me. All ingredients used in Botáni products are Eco-Cert approved, and do not contain petrochemicals, mineral oils, PEGS, silicones, paragons, artificial fragrances or colours, animal derived ingredients, propylene glycol and sulphates. The signature ingredient of Botáni skincare products is Olive Squalene – nature’s only biocompatible ingredient which bears the closest resemblance to human squalene, our body’s in-built moisturiser. We are all born with 12% squalene and this starts to decrease from the age of 25 onwards, leading to premature ageing, dry skin and fine lines among others. In short, olive squalene should be your new best friend, even if the ravaging effects of time isn’t.

The Olive Skin Serum is my favourite of all the products that I have been given (or my favourite of all skincare products I have ever used in my life, for that matter). I would go as far as to call it a Miracle for my skin because the third eczema patch has been banished to oblivion two weeks after applying this serum on my face. My skin feels extremely nourished, and is so much suppler and smoother than before.  I noticed that my skin looks more radiant too and I feel more confident about going out without putting on makeup. This is unsurprising, given that the serum is infused with highly concentrated 100% phyto-active Olive Squalene, vitamins C and E. The serum has been clinically proven to increase moisture levels by 50% within 24 hours, to stimulate cell renewal and collagen production, and is ideal for sensitive/eczema skin. I have been told that it doubles up as a makeup primer too; in my case, it’s good for holding my makeup in place for about 4-5 hours. A little goes a very long way when it comes to this serum. I use it once in the morning and once at night, and only require two drops each time for my entire face and neck area. The best way to use it is to pat the drops onto damp skin (fresh from toning, don’t wait until the toner dries out) until it is completely absorbed. Because the serum is incredibly hydrating, I don’t always apply moisturiser after that (not even if I am about to go to bed in an air-conditioned room) and only do so if I want to give my skin a little extra pampering. The serum alone is enough to keep my skin nourished and hydrated, and I wake up with clearer, suppler and smoother skin even after a night in an air-conditioned room. This workhorse is a must-have for me. Case in point below.

This is a photo of me taken first thing in the morning under natural lighting. I just woke up half an hour before the photo was taken, was bare-faced and the photo is not filtered or altered in anyway. My skin is not perfect but it’s so, so, SO much better than before I started using Botáni skincare! I would never publish a selfie taken in broad daylight if my skin were looking battered like before. (Note: The two red blobs on the bridge of my nose are tell-tale signs of nose-pads from my glasses. Had to point that out as it’s nothing harmful caused by the products.)

The Rescue Eye Treatment, enriched with anti-inflammatory plant actives such as Arnica Root, Licorice Root, Acacia Senegal Gum and Olive leaf extract, works wonderfully to hydrate my awfully-dry undereye area. I used to sport fine lines not unlike wrinkled crepe paper and dark circles that were telling of the lack of restful sleep. Half a pump is more than enough to take care of my eyes and whilst the gel feels slightly tacky at first, once it’s absorbed into the skin, it no longer feels sticky. I would say that my dark circles have lightened by up to 40%-50%, and the lines are not so pronounced now. I highly recommend giving this a shot!

I absolutely love the Soothing Facial Mist too. It is alcohol-free and refreshingly scented with Rose Damascena, and makes me feel so good on a hot day or when I just need to perk up! I did use this as a toner before patting on the Olive Skin Serum, but it smells like such a luxury (and is much more expensive than the toner I have been using, which works well for me) that I like to keep it for critical moments throughout the day instead (like kids driving me nuts and I’m completely flat out of battery, or when I am feeling irritable and sticky, or when I am on the road and want to feel energised). I also spray this on to set my makeup, and…have I mentioned how refreshing this is?! Okay, I think you get the point.

The Olive Soothing Cleanser is a cream-based cleanser that is absolutely wonderful at cleansing my skin. It leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean, without stripping its moisture, or weighing it down like some cleansing oils do. It was also effective at removing non-waterproof makeup. Just 2-3 pumps for the entire face should suffice and it can be applied directly on dry skin before you wash it off when you are done massaging your face! Unfortunately, this is a little expensive for me as a daily cleanser but I would definitely purchase it to remove non-waterproof makeup because I know I’m in good hands when I use this. I mean, I had enough with gentle cleansers claiming to remove non-waterproof makeup AND not working.

Two other product samples that I was given were the Boost Balancing Moisturiser and the Olive Repair Cream. The former is very lightweight and easily absorbed, and works wonderfully to hydrate my skin as a day moisturiser. But what I really adore and will purchase again is the Olive Repair Cream which packs a punch when it comes to delivering moisture to my skin. I’m reaching my mid-thirties soon and I do appreciate intense hydration and healing properties of a good moisturiser, and the Olive Repair Cream, which is an ideal treatment for eczema, psoriasis,  redness and irritated skin, does just that. It is touted to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of scars and even out skin tone, but the sample I received was only good for 2-3 applications, so I can’t vouch for that but I am eager to test that out when I purchase the full-sized product!

So there you have it! I know this review is a little lengthy, but if you have made it down to the last lines, I hope my thoughts and experience with the different Botáni products will help you in some way! I have experienced the benefits of green beauty (I’m only months into cleaning up my regime) and  I must say that I am loving how nourished, clean and unburdened my skin feels now. Botáni has proven to be an excellent choice for me, and the products are mostly very affordable, so I’m definitely making it a huge part of my regime now. It doesn’t hurt that Love Organic is an online store based in Singapore, and there several stockists island wide too if you want to touch and feel the products. Please let me know if you have tried the other products and seen real benefits from using them! I would love to give the rest a try too.

*I was given the Botáni products for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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.

Shopping, Mummy-Style, with Agape Babies

[*SPONSORED POST] I have said it before and I will say it again, that I LOVE online shopping. I didn’t care for it before I became a mother though; I much preferred taking a walk, running my grubby hands carelessly over the terrain of merchandise on display, and feeling the thrill of actually bagging items upon checking out at the cashier.

BUT. Becoming a mother has changed my lifestyle on many fronts; I have to be careful about spending, and I have neither time nor energy to lug kids (who seem to choose to be exceptionally cranky when I need them to be un-cranky) to the stores.

I have been shopping online at Agape Babies since just before I had Faith four years ago. My very first purchase was the Medela Freestyle breast pump set, which I bought for 50% off the retail price and remains an incredible steal now. Since then, I have found many more fantastic deals for products that are crucial to our parenting needs. I have saved so much money on Laninsoh nursing pads, California Baby products, Melissa & Doug toys, books, you name it, and I hardly go to brick-and-mortar stores for things that the kids and I use. It no longer makes sense to go through the hassle of lugging the kids through the crowds when I can save tonnes of money shopping online at Agape Babies in the comforts of my own home.

This time round, I managed to stock up on the Laninsoh nursing pads (been using them for as long as I have been breastfeeding), California Baby Bug Repellant (our go-to spray when we are out and about), and carted two Handwriting Practice books from Letterland for F as she has been asking me to get them. And I did all this on the mobile phone!

For an avid user of the mobile phone like myself, the mobile-optimized website makes for a great shopping experience on the go. I don’t have to power up my laptop, and all I have to do is do quick searches and cart the items on my phone, even as the kids are pulling at me or glued to my hips. Major win.

Fans of Jujube, the poison of many mums, will be glad to know that Agape Babies has
expanded its brand & product selection to include more hot brands like said poison and 3M. Agape Babies now carry over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories at incredible prices, so it’s really a no-brainer for parents, newly-minted and seasoned alike, to shop on the site.

If you are a first-time customer, you get to enjoy $10 off your first purchase on top of getting a free gift. VIP customers get to enjoy special price reductions and also lifestyle privileges. If you’d like to save on shipping, which isn’t costly by the way, you can opt for the one-click self-collection from 3 convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels can be picked up from 72 locations across the island as well.

To sweeten the deal for you, Agape Babies is giving my readers 5% off all items except milk, diapers, wipes, Jujube, Medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories. All you have to do is to enter the coupon code pleasuremonger5% upon checkout (valid from 22 Aug to 12 Sep 2016).

I am not sure what else I should say to convince you to give Agape Babies a shot in changing your mummy-and-me shopping needs, but seasoned mums who have tried will tell you that shopping at Agape Babies is a lifesaver, as it has been for me all these years!

*I was gifted shopping credit and paid for excess amount incurred from the items I picked. 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.

How I Protect My Skin From The Sun: NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen

[*SPONSORED POST] When I was in lower primary, I was often teased for having fair skin. I was called all sorts of things, including a vampire, and man, did I detest having a fair complexion.

When I grew older, I was still at the receiving end of this mockery and I didn’t embrace what I have until I was in my mid-twenties. I remember going out to the beach on weekends during my late teens, just to get a tan, but funnily, all I did was to turn into a lobster and then revert to channeling Morticia Addams. I must add that I sunbathed without sun protection, and I regret it because I do have a few spots on my face now that I am in my thirties. Had I known that exposure to the sun will cause hyper-pigmentation later in life, I would have been more consistent about sun protection when I was younger.

It’s a little late to start anti-ageing skincare routines in my late twenties it seems, because those spots had shown up on my face by then, but I guess it’s better late than never! I apply sunscreen on my face and body everyday, even when I stay at home; reason being our apartment is flooded with natural light and I get exposed to UV rays even when I am indoors. I also make school runs and the sun hits my arms and the right side of my face whenever I drive, so I am rather strict about applying sunscreen before I leave home.

For years, I wasn’t too concerned about using chemical sunscreens and I have unconsciously leaned towards those that do not leave a white cast (which means they are likely to be made with chemical UV filters), but lately, I have been reading up on greener and safer skincare options and realised that it is just better to use physical sunscreens (stable in sunlight, good balance between UVA and UVB protection especially if it contains zinc oxide, generally do not contain harmful additives). You can have a read about the general differences between a physical and chemical sunscreen over here. The dreadful thing is physical sunscreens are thick and opaque, and are known to leave a white cast even after you have had a good workout rubbing the product into your skin. I don’t mind it at all if I were just going for a swim but I don’t really want to be walking around looking like a splotchy plaster wall when I am out and about.

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About two months ago, Tim invited me to give the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen a try. It boasts an SPF of 50 and protects from both UVA and UVB rays with its physical filters (15% zinc oxide, 5% titanium dioxide), is preservative-free, and is touted to be incredibly moisturising. I couldn’t say no after learning about its benefits, and it helps to know that the NAÏF line of skincare products is formulated with babies in mind, are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic, pH skin neutral and the products are made without any harmful ingredients. Yes, you heard right. The products do not contain mineral oil, parabens, phenoxyethanol, SLS/SLES and harsh chemicals. Indeed, a quick check on the EWG site reveals that the ingredients of the Protecting Sunscreen are ranked low in hazard scores.

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I have been using the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen on my body since then and it is amazing! It is runny, wonderfully emollient and incredibly easy to apply compared to other physical sunscreens I have tried; seriously, it takes only ten seconds to rub it in and the sunscreen does not leave a white cast. It keeps my skin moisturised, and I come off smelling clean and fresh. Have I mentioned that I am super-sensitive to smells and feel dizzy upon inhaling most scents? This, I have no qualms whatsoever!

The NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen really is a godsend, and I will purchase it once I run out as it is remarkable and convenient for daily use. Baby Pure Singapore, exclusive distributor of NAÏF products, also gives back – the company sponsored $10 vouchers for approximately 6500 Hair for Hope participants and it also donates a dollar to the Children Cancer Foundation for each Protecting Sunscreen sold. I can’t think of a better way to protect myself against the sun AND to do good at the same time.

NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen retails for a very reasonable $35.90 online and you’d be happy to know that one gets free delivery within Singapore with a minimum purchase of $60!

*I was gifted the NAÏF Protecting Sunscreen for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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.

Babywearing: Review on K’Tan Active

[SPONSORED POST*] When F was born, I was the most clueless first-time mother around. I didn’t know anything about the importance of establishing routines (the horror), early bedtimes (where have I been?!) and what-have-you, and I certainly didn’t know that one could wear a baby.

Noob, right? I know.

I was first introduced to the world of babywearing by three lovely friends – Y, Y and P – who came bearing gifts and an arsenal of knowledge on slings, soft structured carriers, wraps and pouches. I was exhausted, frazzled and completely overwhelmed by an 8 week-old who didn’t sleep unless she was held in my arm, so you can imagine how grateful I was (still am!) to the three ladies.

Eager to try the different ways out, I put whatever I could get my hands on to the test. The pouch was difficult to manoeuvre for me as F seemed squashed in the cradle position; no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her chin away from her chest and that made me very nervous. The wrap, whilst highly adaptable to a growing baby and very versatile in terms of carrying styles, was much too intimidating; I didn’t attempt it until I gave birth to my son, E. I was most comfortable with slinging F in the kangaroo position, one that she loved and one that I struggled least with until she was ready for the soft structured carrier when she turned 5-6 months old. I didn’t stop babywearing until F was much too heavy for my swollen frame to bear when I was pregnant again.

Now that E is all small and squishy and warm in my arms, I am back on the babywearing track. I scoured the web for beautiful and practical options and I now have 3 slings, 1 wrap and 3 soft-structured carriers (but SSCs are too big for infants so I didn’t use them until recently) to play with. I am no noob when it comes to slings and bought a third one only because it comes in such a beautiful weave. But the wrap, oh that wrap…I love its lightweight fabric and how it offers even distribution of weight on my shoulders and lower back. You see, there is a particularly noxious point somewhere across my shoulders now, having borne the weight of a growing child for most hours of the day (and night) with poor postures for the past three years, and a wrap offers much relief now that I am babywearing again. Also, one can adjust the wrap to suit the favoured carrying styles well as the sizes of the wearer and baby!

There is a problem though. Actually…two. I don’t wear nursing clothes as I find that nursing wear tends to be expensive and unflattering, and the openings are much too restrictive for baby to get a good latch without having his or her face buried in fabric; I end up wearing normal tops and using a nursing cover instead. As you can imagine, nursing with normal tops whilst being bandaged with a wrap is a challenge, especially when I am out alone with my baby. It is difficult to thread my top back down to my waist through the ties from the wrap whilst cradling a squirmy baby in one arm (a baby with not-so-great neck control at the moment, if I might add). As such, I only use the wrap when someone heads out with me, so I can hand E to whoever whilst I cover myself up again after nursing. And the second problem? It is tough to try and re-tie the wrap if you can’t free up your arms. (Perhaps I should have invested in nursing tops because…I LOVE this wrap to bits!)

Of course, I am being a total noob again because there exists a wrap that does not requiring any fumbling of sorts, and I only realised this when my friend, S used it and again when Happy Coast Kids contacted me to try out the K’Tan.

It is basically a wrap that you purchase based on your clothing size, and it supposedly hugs your baby right, as a well-adjusted wrap does, without the need to fumble with knots and what-not! I jumped at the opportunity to try it out as it seemed to fulfill most of characteristics that I want – convenience, support on both shoulders, lightweight, breathable fabric – in a carrier. There are a few models to choose from, based on your needs. I picked the K’Tan Active as it blocks over 90% of UVA and UVB rays, and I figured this was a plus given that we get a lot of sun during our outings with the kids and even in our very brightly lit home. I did make the boo-boo of picking S instead of XS; word to the wise, make sure you select your true size (I went a size larger as I normally like loose-fitting clothes, but with the K’Tan, you would need it to fit you quite snugly for your baby to be worn safely)! Once I had the size sorted and made sure there wasn’t excess fabric around E when I put him in the K’Tan, I put the carrier to the test.

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For starters, it was easy as hell to prep myself with the K’Tan. I simply had to make sure my arms and head were looped through correctly; this is as easy as putting on your T-shirt. Popping E into the K’Tan was not a problem too; I am used to propping his knees up and drawing his feet up to his bum before putting him in a kangaroo position in the sling. This is no different, he was snug in the pre-set loops of the K’Tan in no time. Taking him out to nurse posed no challenge whatsoever, as there are no knots or tied loops to fumble with; I only had to pull the two sides of the fabric down to his bum and pop him back out of the wrap, and I could lift my top up to nurse him easily before making myself decent and putting him back in the K’Tan without help. The K’Tan is certainly a very user-friendly carrier! Just check out the videos here on the various positions one can easily put a baby in!

E remains relatively cool in the K’Tan as the fabric wicks away moisture and breathes; that’s a bonus as it can get really hot with the weather in Singapore. E also seems comfortable in the K’Tan as he didn’t struggle in it and slept rather quickly whenever I put him in it. Ten points for sleepy dust!

Whilst the K’Tan distributes the weight evenly between my two shoulders, I did find that if I carried E in it for more than a few hours, my middle and lower back would start to ache. I do tend to ache eventually after hours of babywearing, so perhaps this has to do with my longstanding back problem as I was thrown off a horse a few years ago and I failed to take care of my back after I became a mother. The other issue that I had with the K’Tan was how someone of a different size wouldn’t be able to use my carrier. My husband is really tall and wider than I am, so I would have to get two K’Tan carriers if he wants to carry E this way too. This wouldn’t be the case for the sling (M doesn’t like to use a sling), a wrap (M finds it too troublesome) and an SSC (which can run a tad large for E’s petite frame, but we can easily solve that problem with a simple gadget we found).

Based on my usage of the K’Tan over the past few months, I would say that it is perfect for solo outings with the baby as I don’t need an extra pair of hands whilst popping E in and out of the carrier. It is also wonderful for when babies are still too small for soft structured carriers (which I am a huge fan of) and a lifesaver for parents who aren’t adept with the sling and wraps. Simply put, it is completely fuss-free! The material is great for our weather and the fact that the K’Tan Active blocks out UV rays is such a bonus as I do not apply sunscreen on my kids until they turn(ed) 6 months old. This came in really handy as we head outdoors with F pretty often and I certainly don’t want E to burn in the sun! Personally, I would keep outings in the K’Tan to just 2-3 hours as my back starts to ache after that; this isn’t really an issue though because I don’t head out with E for longer than that when I am alone with him. I would recommend the K’Tan as the perfect carrier for babywearing noobs and parents to infants especially (to be used with care and according to instructions, of course)! Now that E is almost five months old, I have switched to using SSCs that I can share with M, but I have seen parents carting their kids around in a K’Tan even after the kids’ first birthdays, and that says a lot about its longevity! As long as one gets the right size, it does take A LOT of stress out of fumbling with knots and pieces of fabric when trying to wear a baby. I do wish the K’Tan carriers come in more attractive designs locally; wider ranges are available internationally, so perhaps this is something Happy Coast Kids can look into bringing in!

*I was gifted one K’Tan Active in Black in size XS (sans shipping). No additional monetary compensation has been received. 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 may shop for the K’Tan on Happy Coast Kids!

Calling All Clean Freaks and Insect-Phobes!

[SPONSORED POST*] I’m pleased to share some good news with you! First up, The Pleasure Monger has been appointed one of the Ambassadors of Our Lifestyle Shop. It wasn’t a tough decision to agree to Su-Lin’s invitation because we genuinely love the products that we have been sponsored by and purchasing from the shop; some of the products, I have been using for over two years ever since F was born as I endeavour to keep our exposure to toxins to a minimum whilst keeping our home clean, safe and insect-free. Second, the festive season is just around the corner and the store is offering some pretty amazing Christmas bundles for all you clean freaks and insect-phobes like myself!

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Just two of my favourite products!

The bundles are permutations of four of my favourite products that I use to keep my home clean and insect-free, and now is a good time as any to stock up on these babies!

1. ‘Deck the Halls with Clean & Merry’ at $79.90

The bundle consists of:

One KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer (one of the most effective and safest insecticides known to man, and I have been using this for more than two years ever since F was born, to keep our exposure to toxins to a minimum while killing those pesky insects such as roaches and mozzies)

One B-Sanitized™ (a simple one-step solution for environmental protection against viral, bacterial fungal and mould contaminants, and yes, we used this to contain the spread of HFMD after F got infected at school)

– FREEBIE: Receive one SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer (Unscented) for free when you purchase this bundle

– Enter cleanmerry during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

2. ‘Jingle Bell KONK’ at only $126

The bundle consists of:

– Three KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Refills (used in the KONK® I patented Automatic Air Guard Timed Release Mister, it regularly releases metered doses of KONK® I, providing consistent, 24 hour round-the-clock protection against these flying and crawling insects, keeping your loved ones safe)

– FREEBIE: Receive one KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer for free when you purchase this bundle

– Enter jinglebellkonk during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

3. ‘Santa’s Christmas TWIN pack’ at $199

The bundle consists of:

– One Automatic Air Guard Timed Release Mister

– Two KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Refills (used in the Mister, it regularly releases metered doses of KONK® I, providing you consistent, 24 hour round-the-clock protection against these flying and crawling insects, keeping your loved ones safe)

– FREEBIE: Receive one KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer for free when you purchase this bundle

– Enter twinpack during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

4. NEW: ‘Wishing U a SafeHands Christmas ‘ at $59.70

The latest product to grace the inventory of Our Lifestyle Shop, the SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer is non-toxic, non-drying, non-flammable, non-irritating and alcohol-free. You’d be glad to know that it is the only hand sanitizer that kills MRSA, VRE and C-diff. Our Lifestyle Shop has rolled out a new bundle which consists of:

– Three SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer (one each of Unscented, Cucumber Mint and Clean Linen; my review will be out in January 2015)

– No promotional code needed. SImply click on this link to purchase.

All offers are valid until 31 December 2014. Don’t forget to enter the promotional codes when you check out to receive the bundles with the freebies that come with it! Now, go load up your shopping carts!

 *No monetary compensation has been received. This post was written as part of the Ambassadors Program.