Category Archives: I Have My Eye On

Did You Say Pest-Free Car?!

I AM TERRIFIED OF PESTS. Anything that creeps, crawls, lurks in dark corners, then comes flying right at me, completely freaks me out. I have invested in anything and everything to keep pests away from our home and our car, whilst making sure that ‘anything-and-everything’ are safe to be used around my children, and so far, so good…but that’s not to say that I don’t, at times, enter the car with simmering suspicion that I may be attacked by A COCKROACH whilst driving, which was what happened to me when I was driving a replacement car loaned to me by a workshop after this bugger (pun unintended) rammed into the back of my car.

My first car was almost a grand decade old and gave me lots of grief because it broke down pretty often. It was in a gritty state, because we bought it as a second-hand car for real-cheaps, so when the husband bought us a larger car so we could comfortably accommodate E’s car seat and still have room for human beings, I was determined to keep it in a pristine, or at least, hygienic condition. I went all military on everyone who would hitch a ride with me…”NO EATING OR DRINKING ALLOWED, UNLESS IT’S PLAIN WATER (and coffee for the man).” I was determined to keep roaches out because nobody likes to be attacked by a cockroach creeping up the leg whilst driving.

That said, I did not sent the car for any sort of grooming, not until recently when EA Detailer approached me to give their interior and exterior detailing services a try. This is because car grooming services can be expensive for the minimal amount of cleaning done and I shudder at the thought of having my kids sit in a car that has been exposed to toxic cleaners. I am not fussed about how shiny and water-resistant my car is, so instead, we use eco-friendly and natural cleaners to wipe the interior, keep pests at bay with a once-weekly spray-down using my trusted non-toxic insecticide, and do a soap-and-water wash on our own for the exterior.

As life would have it, kids climbing in and out of the car in their grubby shoes means that my car get dirty much too soon after a wash, and while grime can be mostly removed, I hope they don’t bring roach eggs into the car with ’em dirty shoes. There’s only so much we can do with surface cleaning and vacuuming. Our carpark can get drafty and dusty, so my car tends to be marred by ugly, gritty watermarks after the rain as well.

BUT! My car is now all shiny, pest-free, looks brand-new on the outside and inside, and smells wonderfully fresh, thanks to the outstanding detailing service by EA Detailer! I sent my car in to the latest branch of EA Detailer at Dunearn Road (housed behind Caltex, next to Barker Road Methodist Church) on Tuesday, and more than one week on, after a few downpours, my baby is still spotless!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SEND YOUR CAR FOR GROOMING AT EA DETAILER?

We started off with a very detailed consultation with the friendly staff at the spotless workshop.  No stink-eye from staff who think women don’t know better. The space is so clean and bright that Faith, who was with me when I went back for the car, was happy to hang around. I don’t know about you but I have always been intimidated by the typical environment related to anything-cars; many a times, I find that people tend not to take women (let alone those with children) seriously when it comes to cars and are less than friendly (which explains why some ladies I know leave petrol-pumping, car repairs and grooming to the men in their lives). The staff at EA Detailer are, on the contrary, very friendly, warm, accommodating and understanding.

Numerous photos were taken by the very attentive staff to ascertain a baseline from which EA Detailer would work on. Problematic areas were highlighted, and I was given the opportunity to raise my concerns, which were eventually addressed by the different stages of detailing. Reasonable disclaimers are put forward, such as those concerning scratches that cannot be removed without compromising the integrity of the paintwork. I was also walked through the steps that would take my car from the state it was to being thoroughly groomed upon pick-up. I left my car for about 5 hours and returned to one that looks and feels brand new!

MY WISH-LIST:

  • To get rid of pests, if any. I have been doing this on my own with non-toxic insecticide and I did not see any pest in the 1.5 years I have been driving this car, but I was worried that roaches may lurk somewhere I couldn’t reach.
  • To remove stubborn water stains from the fabric seats (these stains were made every time I tried to open/close an umbrella whilst getting in/out of the car and I gave up trying to prevent/remove them)
  • To deep-clean and sanitise my children’s car seats because some parts (fabric/cushion) are not removable and I couldn’t completely wash them as a result
  • To safely disinfect the car
  • To remove as many hairline scratches as possible (there were so many pointed out by the observant staff and I was appalled at that)

EFFECTIVE AND NON-TOXIC!

As I understood, the cleaner, freshener, fumigation solution used are effective and non-toxic. The anti-viral surface cleaner and freshener used, for example, have been certified by Singapore General Hospital to be effective against a number of viruses, including a 99.98% effectiveness against HFMD. I was also very pleased to know that the anti-pest solution used during fumigation is an extract from a plant enzyme, and that it is bio-degradable and digestible. Moist heat and UV are also used to deep-clean and sanitise the car, reducing the amount of chemicals used. These were the main reasons why I agreed to having our car detailed by EA Detailer; safety is paramount when it comes to my children.

WHAT WAS DONE TO MY CAR?

(A) INTERIOR: 4-STAGE INTERIOR STEAM PURIFICATION

  1. Anti-Pest Bio-Fumigation

A plant-based anti-pest solution is loaded into a fumigation gun and sprayed into the interior of the car. The car is kept closed for about 30 minutes and during this time, pests (if any) will be forced out of their hiding areas and most will be killed. Those that aren’t killed should be weakened enough to slow their activities and these can then be easily caught.

1.5 Hydro-extraction Vaccum

A two-stage HEPA neutraliser filtration hydro-extraction vacuum is then used to remove nearly 100% of dirt and contaminants such as dust, dust mites and mold from the interior of the car. The technology used is certified asthma- & allergy-friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

2. Anti-Viral Sanitisation

After the pests are removed, the car is sanitised with an anti-viral cleaner that has been certified by SGH to be safe and effective against a number of viruses. It has also been proven to be 99.98% effective against HFMD.

3. Ozonic Treatment and Leather Treatment

Ozone is up to 3000 times faster and more effective than chlorine at killing bacteria, mold, cysts and inactivating virus. Micro-organisms also do not build up immunity to being treated with ozone. Ozone is approved for direct contact with food products by the FDA as an antimicrobial agent and granted full USDA approval with no restrictions for use on organic products. This primes it as the perfect candidate for sanitising the air within the car. It also helps to remove odour and cleans the air within the car following fumigation, to remove as much of the fumigation solution as possible.

The leather trimmings and seats within the car will also be cleaned, then nourished and protected with a Matt Dash Finish leather protectant to maintain its finish. There are only leather trimmings on my doors, dashboard, steering wheel and gear box areas, and my fabric seats were treated differently instead (see below).

4. Steam Cleaning and Tornado Intensive Wash

(a) Steam Cleaning (Anti-Dustmites)

Steam is shot out of the gun to dislodge dirt, grease and stubborn stains without the use of chemicals.

(b) Tornado Intensive Wash (Dirt, Dust, Stains Removal)

A ‘gun’ is used to propel water out at a high speed, and the jet powers through the surface it hits to further remove dirt, dust and stains effectively.

4-STAGE INTERIOR DETAILING IS INCLUSIVE OF BABY CAR SEAT SANITISATION:

Baby car seats will be thoroughly sanitised as part of the 4-stage interior detailing. The fabrics will be steam-cleaned and subjected to a tornado intensive wash, followed by physical sanitisation using the SGH-certified surface cleaner and hydro-extraction vacuum to remove all debris and bacteria that have been dislodged from the seats.

(B) EXTERIOR: 3-STAGE EXTERIOR GLOW

1. Foam wash

2. Claying to remove grit and grime

3. Compound Polishing to remove hairline scratches that aren’t too deep, and to restore shine with a protective nano sealant that will last up to 1-2 months.

The engine bay will also be cleaned up, rims and exhaust pipes will be polished. All door shuts, boot shuts, bonnet edges, fuel cap and crevices and gaps that a sub-par groomer might miss will also be detailed.

MY REVIEW ON THE SERVICES RENDERED:

CONS

  • All these steps took a whopping 5 hours and I was initially very reluctant to leave my car at EA Detailer for that long as I really needed the car to run errands, go for appointments and to drop off and pick up the kids. I am now fully appreciative of the long period of time spent on getting my car back to tip-top condition, because when I returned to pick it up, it was clear that my car has gone through a complete transformation. EA Detailer had put in a sheer amount of effort into restoring my car, and that explains the length of time needed.
  • The services can be rather expensive at first glance, but the good news is first-time customers get really affordable trial prices at only $128 for a 3-stage interior detailing service for a saloon car for example (lower if you go for the promotion given to my readers..see below!). I guess one could stretch out the detailing services required to maintain the car in a good condition. That’s what I intend to do, coupled with more conscientious maintenance on my part in between car grooming sessions.

PROS

  • We have never eaten in the car, so it came as a shock that the staff found two baby cockroaches. I am beyond glad that we managed to nip the problem in the bud because we all know that roaches breed very quickly!
  • Stubborn water stains (from rain) on my fabric seats have been completely removed, thanks to the steam cleaning and tornado intensive wash! We had plans to upgrade the fabric seats to leather ones, but it looks like we don’t have to now!

Before: Water stains on fabric seats

After: Water stains on fabric seats removed

  • My children’s car seats are not completely washable as certain parts are not removable from the seats, so I am exceptionally pleased that the car seats have even deep-cleaned and sanitised, something that I couldn’t do on my own. This is included in the 4-stage interior detailing service. If you’d like to go for the 3- or 3.5-stage interior detailing but would like to add on baby car seat sanitisation, you can opt for it at $69 for one car seat and $120 for two seats.Before: Baby car seats harbour plenty of hidden dirt, much deeper from the surface.After: Baby car seats are thoroughly sanitised!
  • The car is all clean and freshened up after all that sanitisation using the SGH-certified disinfectant.
  • My car looks completely brand new with matt finishes done on the interior and the removal of most hairline scratches from the exterior. The paintwork looks stunning with all that shine restored to it! After a few downpours, no watermark has been left on the body of my car, thanks to the nanosealant that has been applied.After: My car is all glossy and scratch-free again!After: Interior of the car has been completely spruced up, cleaned and sanitised, with delightful matt finishes added.
  • Even the engine bay and rims have been cleaned and they look brand new!

EA Detailer is located at a few locations, and if you are sold like I am for the detailing services, do take advantage of the promotion for my readers to try the services out! Alternatively, you can take part in the giveaway!

GIVEAWAY:

EA Detailer is giving away one 3-Stage Interior Detailing package to a lucky reader! This includes Anti-Pest Bio-Fumigation, Anti-Viral Sanitisation, Ozonic and Leather Treatment. Simply like their Facebook Page to stand a chance to win! Don’t forget to leave your FB username for verification purposes. Click on this link to join the giveaway.

PROMOTION for my readers: Click on this link to book either of these two options.

[OPTION #1]

1. 50% Off 3-Stage Interior at $108  (Usual Price $219)
-> Anti-Pest Bio-Fumigation
-> Anti-Viral Sanitisation (Covers Physical and Air environment including aircon system)
-> Leather Treatment
-> Dashboard Treatment
-> Indepth Vacuum
-> Anti Mold/Odour Smell Ozonic Treatment

(Duration: 4 hours)

[OPTION #2]

Take both 3-Stage Exterior and 3-Stage Interior Detailing at ONLY $198 (Usual Price $299)
(Duration : 4 to 6 hours)

*Additional surcharge of $50 applies for MPV/SUV/Large & Flagship Luxury Sedans

*I was gifted a 4-stage interior and 3-stage exterior detailing service by EA Detailer. No monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are my own.

Down the Rabbit Hole into…Wonderland!

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would, you see?” – Lewis Carroll

And what was supposed to be, it wasn’t, we found out as while we slipped down the rabbit hole into Wonderland to meet Alice, the Mad Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, White Rabbit, Card and *gasp* the Queen at the Tea Party.

Now, I can’t give away too much about what goes on in Wonderland. It’s a secret, you see, and only those with Muchness and those who are Mad are in the know. What I’d say is Faith and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during the 45-minute play, and I’d highly recommend for you to go scurrying for tickets if you want to be Mad as well.

We were sent a secret message to show up at the most random of places in mismatched socks. Faith was utterly delighted at the fact that she was finally allowed to go crazy on her choice of feet warmers, so much so that she has been asking to go out in mismatched pairs everyday after we went down the Rabbit Hole. “I knew who I was this morning but I’ve changed a few times since then.” I can safely say that Faith is definitely having an Alice moment when it comes to socks now.

Now, I didn’t want to fit in (or did I, I swear this trip to Wonderland has messed with what’s normal and what’s not) and didn’t wear socks (let alone mismatched ones), but I ended up getting told off by the White Rabbit for not doing so and I’m just glad the Queen didn’t scream for someone to take my head off because I had at least mastered the secret phrase to be let into Wonderland. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THIS BECAUSE YOU WILL REGRET IT IF YOU DON’T.

Then, Faith’s and my realities were switched up a little when we were told to go through the wrong (or…right?) doors and we finally tumbled down the Rabbit Hole into…Wonderland.

Having arrived 30 minutes earlier (that’s the earliest they will let you in) prior to the start of the play, we were treated to wonderfully neurotic banter between the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. The children teased them, and the pair were more than convincing in their roles and it was a great introduction for the children to understand their personalities a little more before the start of the play. I highly suggest arriving early for that half an hour of unofficial pre-show, so you get more bang for buck (total of 75 minutes, if you will). Faith was tickled pink during the pre-show (so was I), and I reckon that it is a fair indication of good fun!

During the show, a general story played out (I shall not give this away) but because it is immersive and interactive in nature, children were more than welcomed to speak up and engage with the actors. I’m not an expert on theatre, but I reckon a play of this sort is much harder to execute, as the actors wouldn’t know what to expect from every audience they are playing to. During the show we attended, the children participated actively and the actors very smoothly transited the audience back to the storyline.

At many points in the dialogues running through the show, the actors had me thinking about life, what it means, what our realities, expectations, emotions and dreams are, and how we can break them if only we are willing to. I left the show feeling thoughtful and hopeful, although I must say younger children will miss the nuances as intended by Lewis Carroll but as far as I could tell, children who were the same age as Faith (she’s turning 5 this year) or older thoroughly enjoyed the main storyline, as well as comedic stunts and mid-play ‘activities’ put up by the actors.


  To be honest, Faith was a little scared and shy at first (you might want to take note of this if you intend to bring children who are younger) , but the pre-show helped warm her up for the play and by the end of it, she was reeling in the action of it all and asked to go again as she loved the show very much. Just look at her happy face as she took photos with the cast after show! I, on the other hand, had a hard time picking my favourite characters in the cast of Wonderland, but if I really had to choose, I have to say the Mad Hatter and the March Hare have my heart!

No food is served during the show (as opposed to its predecessor, Dinner in Wonderland) but we did tumbled back out through the Rabbit Hole into The Queen’s Bar after the play and bought ourselves a yummy Oreo milkshake before heading home, so be sure to check it out if you are feeling peckish or parched.

Word has it that the Wonderland by ANDSOFORTH Junior (the one we caught) will be running at the current location (Lorong Ampas) from 8-10 June 2017 and then the same cast will be acting in Kids in Wonderland at a different site with a new set design thereafter.

Bookings for Wonderland by ANDSOFORTH Junior can be over here, and that for Kids in Wonderland can be made here instead. Tickets are going for $28 per person (accompanying adults will need to buy tickets as well). The show is said to be suitable for children who are 2 years old and above, but I’d say 4-5 years is a better age to appreciate the play better. Tickets are selling well, so hurry on over to grab yours while they are still available!

Like Andsoforth on Facebook to receive updates on what they have to offer!

*We received four media passes to Wonderland by ANDSOFORTH Junior and only made use of two tickets. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thank you Andsoforth for the tickets!

 

Wonderland – an Immersive Theatrical Children’s Show

“Just a little further” said Alice to the herself as she plunged deeper into the depths of the cake. How is it that it never ends? And how will I ever find the plate? By this time the Mad Hatter had arrived to see a pair of legs sticking out of a very large cake.

I don’t know about you but it’s my life ambition to plunge into a cake, as long as it’s delicious, so wherever Alice goes, I AM GOING!

This coming June holidays, Andsoforth (a nomadic theatre group which creates pop-up theatrical feasts immersed around stories, drama and secrets) Junior presents “Wonderland”, a children’s play based off Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. What sets it apart from regular plays is that Wonderland is an interactive show hosted in an immersive set where children get to be seated amongst the cast. It is the first of its kind, where characters of Wonderland interact with and engage children in the play, allowing them to be part of the story while watching the story come to life, so you can imagine how keen I am to…yeap…somehow dive into that cake!

On a serious note, I like that there are a couple of learning objectives for this play, the key ones that shout out to me are to encourage expression of self through interaction with the actors in a safe and fun environment, expand imaginative abilities and to build confidence by taking part in a play where everyone gets to be engaged (as opposed to having kids stand on stage and risk having stage fright as the boundary between stage and audience can prove to be overwhelming). I am eager to see how Faith (she is turning 5 years old this year) responds being part of an immersive theatrical experience for a change! We will be going for one of the runs so see you there and say hello if you spot us!

By the way, if you are wondering how long the play lasts, it is 45 minutes long, so it’s perfect for children who might not want to sit still for too long. It is also suitable for children who are 2 years old and above, and children under 7 years old will need to be accompanied by parents. Please note that parents and children will need their own tickets to watch the play.

Ticketing details are as follow:

Dates: 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 June

Timings: 11am, 2pm, 4pm

Price: $28 per person (food will not be provided, but munchies will be on sale at The Queen’s Cafe)

Tickets are available online! They are selling out fast, so hurry! All tickets sold are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.

*I will be given 4 media passes to this play and will be writing about our experience after the show! All opinions are entirely my own. Watch this space!

 

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.

A Super Fun Play Book That My Kids Love + Promo Code! 

I love toys and books that give us good mileage because (a) I don’t want my home to be cluttered with things as seasons change, (b) we save money in the long run, and most importantly (c) the kids learn not to hanker after the next flashy toy they see and learn to explore the same object in different and creative ways.

I am in disbelief at how well the third point has worked out for us but I am beyond glad that it has. The kids, especially F who is 4 years old, have no problem leaving a toy store without throwing a tantrum. Yes, they would be fascinated by all the knick-knacks calling out to them from the shelves, but they are perfectly happy to leave the store with minimal persuasion as they have learnt (with our guidance and then on their own) that they have sufficient open-ended toys at home that are always fun-enough for them.

One thing that I really like is a good quiet book that grows with the child. I have been looking for one since E was born as I had hoped for the book to keep F busy whilst I nurse E to sleep in the evenings. One can get really useful ones online, some of which you can personalise with pages that you like, but holy moly, those can cost USD10 per page and I just can’t bring myself to spend more than $100 for a busy book with sufficient content, no matter how well-made or interesting they are. I managed to work out a way to keep F quietly busy eventually when my secondborn winds down for bedtime, but when the very active E was due to go on his second flight, I searched for one that cost about $60, bought it on impulse, and regretted the purchase because it was completely uninteresting and none of my kids liked it.

When Sapna from Smarter Concepts approached me to give My Super Fun Play Book a try, I was skeptical at first but having taken a look at the book and the company’s vision in detail on the site, I was sold.

The company is committed to sourcing materials ethically and works closely with seamstresses and handicraft producers to ensure good workmanship. Smarter Concepts cultivates homegrown talents, develops skills of underprivileged women in the Philippines, and promotes their welfare by maintaining fair labour practices, and purchasing the play book is an amazing way to support this vision. The book has also undergone stringent tests and conforms to the European standards of EN 71 and ISO 8124, and it is good to know that the book is safe for my kids to play with.

 
I am glad to report that the play book is highly sought after in our home. F and E love to take it from room to room (it’s super portable as it’s made of fabric and not the least bit heavy) and they sit down quietly to go through the activities on each page. The only time when they make a peep is when they fight over it…which is pretty often because the book is fun for kids of various age groups! E is about 22 months old and he loves sorting colours, playing with the finger puppets, brushing the dog’s teeth, or simply taking the accessories off and sticking them back on the pages. F particularly enjoys a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, loves making pizza (and Mama gets a go at teaching her what a balanced diet is using the different ingredients available) and she is very keen on learning how to tell the time, braid hair, tie shoelaces, etc. Have a look at the time-lapse video I have taken of F playing with the book and you will see that it really is a book that grows with the child.

The workmanship of the play book is excellent too. E can be pretty rough with things in our house but the play book is so impeccably sewn that it has survived his vicious tugging on some of the accessories on the pages! The stitching and attention to detail is evident on every accessory on every page and this has me wondering how this book of 12 pages can go for less than USD4.80 per page (even cheaper if you use my discount code)!

The book is really affordable for its quality and mileage, and gives even the best quiet book I have seen out there a run for its money. I am planning to bring this book with us for when we travel in a few months’ time; this way, the kids get something (they love) to do other than vegging out in front of the telly onboard!

You may purchase this book over here. Don’t forget to use my discount code thepleasuremonger to get USD10 off the book (that works out to only USD48!) when you check out (valid until 31 January 2017, so HURRY).

*I was given the play book 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.

Heartfelt Makan: Well-Made Felt Food Toys At Its Cutest + Promo Code!

I am usually quite self-restrained when it comes to buying toys for the kids, limiting my purchases mostly to open-ended toys such as wooden building blocks. Most of the other toys that F and E have were gifted by friends and family. But throw me a cute play pretend kitchen and I go weak in the knees. That was how we ended up having a Kidkraft kitchen. Dangle those pots and pans and cake mixer and food toys in front me, and I salivate like a Pavlov’s classically-conditioned dog, complete with hearts shooting out of my lids.

Now, most of the food toys we have are wooden, and I love the quality and durability of these pieces. I don’t have much affinity for plastic ones because they don’t have a good weight to them and the cheap paint and labels often peel, but I have been eyeing felt food toys for a while now, having seen some really gorgeous ones on Etsy. But of course, felt food items are hand-sewn and really quite expensive; I managed to stay level-headed, and resisted the temptation to purchase them. There was no way I was paying $70 for a tiny tart that I can’t eat (or can eat…)!

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I was wondering what I should get my kids for Christmas when Santa swung by early. Heartfelt Makan, a local maker of felt food toys, contacted me and asked if they could send me a set for F and E to play with. I had a look at their social media profiles and their website and practically screamed, “YES, I, err, I mean my kids would love to receive them!”

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Aside from cooking up a storm in the international felt food scene (like the quintessential English breakfast or sarnie essentials or even a roasted chicken with moveable parts!), Heartfelt Makan does lots of makan true to our local food heritage. Chwee kueh, siew mai, char siew bao, potong ice cream, pineapple tarts, just to name a few! All these toys are handmade with high quality felt and polyester fill, and the stitching is solid to the point where the toys don’t tear at the seams even after some seriously hustling by my destructive toddler over the past few weeks.

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F pleaded to have a go at the felt food toys we were sent as soon as they arrived but I told her she had to wait because I would like to have the first personal encounter with them and to style them first. She was sorely disappointed but she stole a sneak peek and was dying to dive into the bamboo steamer to get to the dim sum nestled within. A few days later, I let her go wild with the toys and E snuck up behind her to stake a claim too. There was quite a bit of whinging because nobody wanted to share, and l was pleased as punch to see that nobody wanted to share a few weeks later. It’s proof that these felt food toys have longevity to their purpose. F and E have been playing with them, and this lucky mama has been served breakfast, lunch and dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now, if only those are edible.

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You’d be pleased to know that the felt food toys are holding up well with my grubby toddler; they are in pristine condition, are not discoloured or dirtied, and the felt has not fuzzed.  I love that these toys add a different texture to their play pretend kitchen, the kids love to squish them and mix and match with their wooden food toys. They are really well worth the price and the local makan items are a great way to getting our kids acquainted with our heritage. I do hope to see Heartfelt Makan expand their range to include more of the different cuisines we have the privilege of enjoying with different ethnic cultures in Singapore, so fingers crossed on that!

Lunar New Year is just round the corner, and if you are keen to get those pineapple tarts for your children, or any of the other toys for that matter for someone’s birthday, simply spend $50 or more and take 10% off with the promotional code TPM10. The promo code is valid until 4 Feb 2017. Happy shopping!

Like Heartfelt Makan on Facebook to stay updated on products and promotions.

You can shop online at Heartfelt Makan.

*I was given a set of toys 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.

Stickerkid Labels for the New School Year + Promo Code!

We are contemplating to send E, our secondborn, to school some time next year and I almost forgot how one should prepare for school (after all, F has been in playgroup/school 2.5 years now and the groundwork of getting school stuff ready is somewhat done) until Stickerkid approached me to give their labels a try. Memories of how we prepared F for time away from me and the anxiety from having to trust the teachers to be there for her came rushing back; that I will have to manage when it’s E turn to go to school and it’s not going to be an easy task, but shopping for school supplies is definitely a more joyful thing to do in comparison so I will focus on that for now.

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The pack that Stickerkid sent me contains 60 small stickers, 20 iron-on clothing labels and 14 shoe stickers. They were a real breeze to customise!

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For the small stickers (46mm by 6 mm), one gets a choice of 9 fonts and 4 font sizes coupled with different background and text colours. I went with black text in a very standard font on yellow background, to encourage E to easily fish out his belongings and recognise his name in a regular font type. It’s a good thing that Chinese characters can be easily added to the text; I simply switched my keyboard on my Macbook Pro to the Simplified Chinese format and typed the hanyu pinyin out for the characters to appear on the customisation site. As these are small stickers, there isn’t any room for fancier fonts or cute images so they can look boring but I like that they are straightforward and fuss-free, and that they do their job well even on narrow surfaces such as pencils and toothbrushes. I have been testing the labels out on E’s belongings that get washed daily at home, and they have hung on real tight and still look brand new.

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The iron-on clothing labels (48mm by 12mm) come with only white backgrounds and a single font type, but you can select from up to 6 font sizes depending on your needs. These are easily ironed-on; simply have a moderately heated iron press on the baking paper provided, which in turn goes on top of the label, and the label gets transferred to the clothing. We launder our clothes at 30 degree Celsius or lower, and the labels have withstood all that washing from a month ago. The amazing thing about the clothing labels we received is they can be removed if we want to pass the clothes on to someone else (do note that Stickerkid offers permanent clothing labels too).

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The shoe stickers (38mm by 40mm) are the cutest of all; you get three lines of text and a tonne of images to choose from. I spent a lot of time picking out the cartoon because there were loads of adorable ones! E is obsessed with saying the word ‘owl’ now, so I decided to go with that eventually. These stickers fit well into his shoes, he is wearing size 21 now, and the round and squared edges fit on the insoles perfectly. The same pair of shoes have been worn to Hong Kong and back and almost everyday in Singapore in the past month, and I am happy to report that they are still beautifully stuck on!

i think we are pretty much all set for the new school year for E, and beyond; given the durable nature of these stickers, I don’t think I have to purchase another pack anytime soon (even though I would love to get my hands on the larger labels that allow us to print cute cartoons on them).

As we round up 2016 (AND before the festive season swoops in on us), it is the perfect time to order a set of labels for your child if he or she is heading to school in the new year. There are different value packs to choose from, if you are looking for a set, and individual types if you are looking to replace your current ones. Take 10% off your purchase from now until 30 Dec 2016 with the promotional code Sticker10.

Now…onto getting a schoolbag and his uniforms!

*I was given a set of Stickerkid labels 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.

Halloween Fun at Timbré @ Gillman

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Just this Saturday, we did something that we don’t usually do, and oh boy, did we have LOTS OF FUN! Ever since the kids came into our lives, we don’t go out of the way to take the kids to child-friendly places for meals, you know, those that dole out crayons and colouring sheets, or those that have play areas within their premises; that’s because M and I are adamant at dragging the kids along to eateries that will satisfy our food cravings of the day, no matter how kid-unfriendly (or friendly) these gastronomic destinations are.

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When I received the invitation from Timbré @ Gillman for an afternoon of fun at its Super Social BBQ, now held on both Saturdays and Sundays, I was about to turn the invitation down (given that E sleeps early and we don’t have dinners outside) until I read that Super Social BBQ starts at 4pm! And when I was told that bouncy castles are available and outdoor fun is guaranteed for the kids, I was sold because F has been badgering me to take her to a bouncy castle. For the month of October, Super Social BBQ hitches a ride on the Halloween theme and I was told that we could carve our own pumpkins, let the kids get creative with the Halloween-themed arts and craft activities and also have their faces painted. It sounded like an afternoon that would please BOTH adults and children (plus early dinner, that’s high on our priority list), so I said yes to Timbré @ Gillman!

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Now, F’s eyes nearly popped out of her sockets when she saw not one, but TWO bouncy castles. We arrived at about 4.30pm, and the crowd didn’t come in until about 5.30pm-6pm, so we had at least one good hour in the sprawling backyard of Timbré to ourselves! F went free-range on the massive playground that Timbré put up, and I simply stood with a drink in my hand, and snapped away on the camera as I watched F have the time of her life. Now, before you think that we might get bitten by mosquitoes with all the greenery around us, Timbré hands out mosquito repellant patches to everyone. As a parent, I can’t say that people are always considerate towards families with young children, but Timbré can do no wrong. Adequate facilities for the kids to have fun at, thoughtful gestures (did I mention the bags of popcorn that they hand out to children when patrons arrive?) to make mealtimes enjoyable and stress-free for parents and kids, a conducive environment for the children to play safely in with parents and friendly staff looking out for all the kids. This is the stuff that parents dream of!

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As this month’s theme is Halloween, there was a cute pumpkin patch on the green, and we took the opportunity to carve our very first pumpkin! Carving tools, pumpkins (with their tops pre-cut) as well as markers were provided, so all we had to do were to slip on the disposable plastic bags, dig the fibres and seeds out of the pumpkins, and then get on with the decorating and carving. To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on carving the pumpkin myself because I could tell it requires a fair amount of strength and I was worried about stabbing someone with the long, serrated knife if I didn’t gauge my strength properly. All I did was watch F draw some eyes and a gaping mouth before she signed off on the pumpkin. When I returned to our table empty-handed, M asked, ” Where is the pumpkin?” I said I wasn’t going to carve it and M promptly stood up and announced that we had to do it because it would be our very first attempt.

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M’s enthusiasm rubbed off on me and we cheered him on as he hammered the knife right through where F drew the eyes. It was hard work but well-worth the effort! F was extremely amused and M was satisfied that we could bring our very first Halloween pumpkin home. More on that later.

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We took a break from all that outdoor fun (not without some persuasion, of course, because F wanted to go wild at the bouncy castles again AND blow some bubbles) and returned to our table when the food arrived. Of course, we had to say hello to the BBQ chef who somehow got into very serious trouble with the chef’s knife.

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We ordered a variety of dishes to share, and you’d be glad to know that Timbré serves PLENTY of alcohol. M had an ice-cold pint whilst I, the designated driver, indulged in freshly squeezed orange juice and a sea salt caramel milkshake (the shake was too sweet for me though, but they were a hit with the kids because you get a generous scoop of ice cream on top). Before I forget, I do have to say that even though it’s mostly outdoor seating at Timbré, we didn’t feel hot and sticky from the humidity that afternoon; it could be due to the good ventilation that none of our kids had wet hair plastered all over their scalps by the end of the evening!

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Timbré Chicken Wings | $14

Moving on to food. I didn’t get to grab a bite of the chicken wings as I was watching over a very active E who was busy stacking up stools at the craft corner but M and F enjoyed the wings! They were served piping hot and were crispy, or so I was told!

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F, enjoying said wings

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Simply Fish & Chips | $12

Another dish that pleased the kids was the fish and chips. Although the fish was a tad dry, the spiced batter was crisp and aromatic, and the flesh was sweet (thankfully not tasteless like so many renditions I have tried in Singapore).

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The bone marrow has been gutted and those precious, unctuous morsels are scattered amongst the moist, bite-sized pieces of beef. It was pretty good with the peach marmalade and caramelised onions, and it reminded me a little like little nuggets of kebab, and I wished I could wash this down with beer.

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Crispy Pork Belly | $16

I loved the caramel vinegar drizzled on the crispy pork belly; I thought the flavours went well. Whilst F enjoyed the crunchy pork crackling, I would have preferred a more brittle texture on the skin.
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Baby Back Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce (300 grams) | $23

We also ordered two dishes off the BBQ menu, which is only available during weekends at Super Social BBQ. The baby back ribs were flavourful and meaty but were just a little dry, which is a shame. A few minutes short on the grill, and these would have been perfect.

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The porterhouse was our favourite dish that evening! I mean, come on, 400 grams of porterhouse at only $48 and cooked to perfect doneness (by that, I mean our favourite medium rare)? I can’t fault this. timbre16

Chocolate Sphere | $15

The chocolate sphere was a real stunner. M isn’t a fan of desserts, so F, E and I had this all to ourselves. The chocolate mousse was incredibly smooth and light, and the kids and I ended up fighting for the last spoonful! I like that it isn’t too sweet, and the fresh fruits and coulis were  spot-on pairings for the chocolate mousse. A must-order, if you ask me.

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Of course, the danger of having fun activities calling out to your kids during dinner, would be to have them leave the table more often than necessary. F, who hates getting painted on, asked if she could have Dumbo the elephant painted on her arm, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. For the first time ever!

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timbre23She promptly ran off to paint some creepy eyes on pebbles at the craft corner (guided by a very patient young lady), before tearing down the grassy patches with a bottle of bubbly fun (also freely available at Timbré) with a giggly E in tow.

We rounded off the dinner listening to a few grown-up songs sung by the live band (Unified plays on Saturday evenings), who then very gamely sang kiddy tunes such as Wheels On The Bus and Let It Go after getting requests from the children.

We had a hard time persuading F and E to leave (E screamed in protest, “NOOOOOO!!!”) and as we struggled to buckle the kids up in the car seat, I told M that we have to come back again. The food is not the best, admittedly, but really, we had such a relaxed and good time with the kids that we, big, big foodies (if you don’t know already)  are happy to return for its Super Social BBQ. I reckon we will be back in November, as I’ve been told that the theme then will be Carnival and we can expect carnival games which are right up our alley! The bouncy castles couldn’t hurt too. And that chocolate sphere…and the porterhouse…

Thank you, Timbré @ Gillman for the fun evening! We will be back!
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Our first Halloween pumpkin, it all its g(l)ory, on our balcony

Timbré @ Gillman is located at:
9A Lock Road Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108926
+65 6694 4201

*I was given dining credits to experience Super Social BBQ and was not obliged to write a review. The excess was paid out of our own pockets. 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.