Category Archives: Shopping

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

BoxGreen: Delicious and Healthy Snacking

[*SPONSORED POST] Mothering is hard work and I often find myself starved of time for a proper meal. It’s non-stop action from daybreak in this home and I often have to wolf down a slice of plain bread and a glass of water whilst trying to stop my incredibly active toddler from diving off the high chair at breakfast, and then have pathetic morsels of lunch whilst carry out the same heroic act of saving said toddler from potential injury. The only time when I can really sit down in peace is after E has gone to bed. That’s when I have dinner with my preschooler, F, who is quite good at staying put during mealtimes, and my husband, M. It comes as no surprise that I have been eating the less healthy way, as I load up on disproportionately larger dinner portions than that for breakfast and lunch.

Owing to a lack of fuel from pathetic breakfasts and lunches, I usually am famished by the time the clock strikes three. That’s also when E is done napping by my side (yes, little one can’t nap without me), and when we need to leave home to pick F up from school, so I only have time to manage a few sips of water and wolf down some individually wrapped pieces of chocolate or biscuits. Nope, I don’t like to have fruits on a near-empty stomach as I tend to feel nauseated and gassy after that, so I only munch on fruits at dinner. And the lack of solid meals in the earlier part of the day has left me craving for sinful foods.

Often times, I dream of having a good tea break. I know it will get me through the day in a much better mood to last until the kids’ bedtimes, but there just isn’t any time to stop for a breather, lack alone for some healthy grub. I know the sugar from biscuits or chocolates doesn’t help in stabilising my glucose levels, but they are the most convenient AND yummy snacks I have!

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When BoxGreen contacted me to try out their healthy, portion-controlled snacks, I agreed, more for my husband than for myself though, because I thought they would be blander than the sinful stuff I like to munch on. Who knew that I wound up liking the snacks so much that I told my husband off for finishing everything that came in my subscription box?!
BoxGreen2 Each subscription box (for individuals; $19.90 per box) comes with 4 types of snacks made with natural ingredients, with 3 controlled, nutritionist-approved portions each. All packs are sealed for the snacks to stay fresh, and they are super handy to bring around. One can choose from over 3o types of snacks (they really do sound delicious; I wish I could have tried When Life Gives You Yuzu, Smoky BBQ Crunch, Rocky Pecan Brittle, just to name a few) and can opt to have the box delivered to you once a week, once every fortnight, or once a month! Here’s a rundown of what I received:

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1. Quirky Quinoa Puffs & Friends (Organic quinoa puff, honey sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, baked almond; 30g ; 154.0 cal): These taste like rice crispies but are obviously healthier as the puffs are made from protein-rich quinoa. I love, love the slightly salted honey sunflower seeds which add good flavour to the toasty bits.

2. Raspberry Choco Rhapsody (Freeze dried raspberry, baked almond, white chocolate; 25g ; 139.4 cal): I absolutely love this! The slightly tart raspberries tempers the sweet white chocolate, bitter cocoa and nutty almonds. An exploration of flavours was what this was! The chocolate-coated freeze-dried raspberries were melty, and provides a lovely textural contrast to the crunchy almonds. Thumbs up for this one.

3. The Amazing Amaranth Cluster (Puffed amaranth, raisin, raw sugar, gum Arabic; 20g; 68.2 cal): To be honest,  I am little skeptical about this as I don’t appreciate the flavour of amaranth and I am not a fan of raisins, but the textural contrast between brittle amaranth clusters and nougaty raisin is its saving grace. But husband and kids love this, and the biggest of the lot says it tastes good with yogurt. The youn rugrats were fighting over the last clusters. Well, not for me.

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4. Twilight Cherry Express (Freeze dried cherry, dark chocolate; 30g; 156.6 cal): The cherries are wonderfully tart and the freeze-dried texture encased in melty dark chocolate is right up my alley. I can’t decide if I like this more than Raspberry Choco Rhapsody!

The portions are nutritionist-approved and controlled for. They are on the smaller side for someone who eats with wild abandon like me, so I’d imagine pairing them with yogurt would work better for me until I get used to having smaller snack portions.

For people who are looking for convenient and healthy ways to snack, whilst taking the brainwork out of going through what is actually healthy in the market, I reckon the BoxGreen subscription box service will work wonderfully. It is inexpensive, and one can control the frequency of subscription. It doesn’t hurt, at all, that the snacks are actually delicious and that they are far, far removed from tasting like hamster feed. BoxGreen has convinced me that healthy snacking can be delicious too, and that we don’t have to succumb to sugary or sinful treats to satiate our appetite for tasty food! You would be glad to know that with every BoxGreen sold, the company donates a meal equivalent to Willing Hearts, a soup kitchen that helps out the less privileged in Singapore. Double win! You can also pool your resources with your colleagues or friends and get the BoxGreen Team Box; it can be a group or custom one, and everyone can get snacking together!

If you would like to give BoxGreen a try, use my code pleasuremonger to get 30% off your first subscription box. This code does not ever expire and applies only for your first box, and if you are getting the individual subscription, your first box only amounts to $13.93 for 12 packs of snacks. Seems like a pretty good and wholesome deal to me!

*I was gifted a BoxGreen subscription box 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.

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.

Ecover ZERO – Cleaning Products That Wouldn’t Kill Your Skin

[*SPONSORED POST] Three years ago, I became that parent who constantly sources for eco-friendly, safer products to use in our home, knowing that Faith is likely to lick the floor, throw her toys around and chew at them after…you get the picture. I knew I couldn’t totally protect her from the big bad world but I was (still am!) determined to minimise her exposure to harsh chemicals, especially when she suffered from eczema back then (she hasn’t had flare-ups in the past year or so). I tried using a couple of products to clean our home and have been loyal to mainly two brands since 2012, one of which is Ecover. I have used its floor cleaner religiously over the past three years and am a huge fan of it. We have gone through bottles of that stuff and I only have good things to say about it. I was naturally delighted when Ecover invited us to try out the ZERO range, which is touted to thoroughly clean with its gentle plant- and mineral-based ingredients whilst staying gentle on sensitive skin with its colouring-free and fragrance-free formulation.

I have tried the following for about two weeks now, and am VERY pleased to report that the ZERO range lives up to very high expectations.

  

The ZERO Laundry Liquid is superb at cleaning our clothes, even at 30 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature I use to save on utilities. I haven’t found any stains or aggregates that may come from certain laundry powder or liquid products, and our laundry comes out smelling clean even though the laundry liquid is fragrance-free. I really, really like the fact that it is so because I am very sensitive to smell (I abhor most fragrances from laundry products…they make me feel nauseated). I have also used the laundry liquid on the kids’ clothes, and F, who has more sensitive skin of the two, has not reacted to this new product, unsurprisingly so as it has been dermatologically tested and approved by Allergy UK. Yay! I am also glad to know that the laundry liquid does not contain any phosphates or optical brighteners; that’s super good news for my handwoven wraps and pretty baby carriers!.

We also use the ZERO Fabric Conditioner in every load and it does the job of keeping our clothes soft pretty damn well! Again, our clothes smell clean, even in the absence of fragrance. I’m pretty amazed at how the products do this. I suppose the plant- and mineral-based ingredients are super effective at cleaning! I mean, if something is truly clean, then it shouldn’t smell funky, right?

And the ZERO Washing Up Liquid? Stellar. My hands used to age with every round of dishwashing I do, no thanks to the harsh but effective dishwashing liquid that we were using before trying out the ZERO range. My hands no longer feel parched and tight with the ZERO Washing Up Liquid and most of all, I am truly in awe of its cleaning prowess. The dishes, pots and pans are squeaky clean when I am done washing, even with the sometimes-heavy cooking I do! LOVE this product. And my dishes don’t come off smelling like ‘Lemon’ or ‘Lime’, just clean! 

I am pretty impressed by the ZERO range, and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for clean-and-green products that are suitable for sensitive skin. They are definitely more expensive than the harsher counterparts that I used to use but I think  the products are well worth the money if you are in need of something that is eco-friendly AND less likely to kill what’s left of your sensitive skin, 

You can shop online at Ecover or get hold of its products at the following stockists.

*I was gifted Ecover ZERO 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.