What’s new on the cheongsam launches

Joli Pretty has been rather prolific with its launches. It has a new collection out two days ago and it is number 21!

There are nine designs this time, comprising of 8 dresses and a top, with the prices of the former going from S$139 to S$159 and the top selling for S$89.

As usual, the collection gears towards formal/office wear, nothing outrageous or sultry. Here are some pictures of the designs with the top being the first.

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Lark and Peony is launching two new colors for the Southerner cheongsam design tonight at 10.00PM local time: one in off-white and the other in magenta. This is a blend of the cheongsam and the Vietnamese ao dai. It is basically a long lace top with batik skirt. L&P offers two ways to wear the combination: either with the top over the skirt or tuck in. The attire goes for S$318.

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Cloth.ier has just started launching long cheongsams as part of its offerings. They are all in the classic style with floral prints and an occasional lace fabric. 

The dresses featured below are in the basic design with back zip, made from 100% silk satin.


There are also more elaborate designs available, such as this magenta silk cheongsam with enbroidered print. And below it, is a bareback lace cheongsam 


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Cloth.ier is alsolaunching a “zipless” cheongsam with embroidered buttons, which is custom made to order to ensure a perfect fit.

Other than cheongsams, there is a wide range of  Chinese jackets available, in both hip length as well as thigh length. Take the one below in wool, according to Ping, it is good for autumn wear. 

For a thinner thigh length jacket, there are a couple of options below. All these coats have a fitted look, which lends a touch of elegance to the wearer.


For those who prefer shorter jackets, the design is more of a loose fit with either coin buttons or fabric knotted buttons.

So there you have it, the usual safe designs, which also means nothing outstanding. 

The yummy rainbow kuehs

For a very long time, I was not a big fan of kuehs, which are Malay or Perankan desserts made from glutinous rice or tapioca, unique to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. They come in a hue of colors derived from plants and flowers, mostly coated in grated coconut and sweetened with gula melaka (palm sugar). 

It was only until I discovered I am sensitive to wheat that I have to refrain from cakes and pastries, which forced me to relook at kuehs for sweet treats.

To be honest, kuehs are not as ubiquitous as cakes, bread or pastries in Singapore. Sure there is the mass market Bengawan Solo, which has many outlets. But compared to the countless bakeries, kuehs have lost its standing as the go-to dessert, as majority of the people gravitate to western bakeries. Other than those at BS, you can only get kuehs at a few Malay stalls or Peranakan shops, and quality is a mixed bag.

So it was a wonderful surprise when I found out that Rainbow Lapis has pretty good kuehs. I probably have walked past the temporary kiosk countless time at Raffles Xchange and didn’t take notice of it. Those were the days when I was only interested in cakes and pastries. However, when I had to look for alternatives, I decided to give it a try. The kuehs are in delicate small sizes, and three pieces cost S$2.50. 


I brought the kuehs home, thinking I would have it after dinner but I didn’t. So my husband kept them in the fridge when I told him I would have them at work the next day. But I forgot about it. During dinner the next night, I decided I had to have them since they cannot be kept for more than a couple of days. But they were gone! I asked my husband, thinking he threw them away. Instead he pointed to his tummy, and said, “they are pretty good!” 

I went back to the kiosk the next day, determined I had to try them. Since then, I have been a regular customer. 


One of the kuehs I like is ondeh ondeh, a ball-like green kueh made from tapioca, filled with gula melaka and covered with grated coconut (those in clear plastic casing in above picture). But it is difficult to find one with a good balance of the tapioca skin thickness and the amount of palm sugar filling. Most times, the skin is too thick and the filling meagre. Any one who likes Ondeh Ondeh will tell you the test of a good one is when you bite into it, the palm sugar oozes out. These  little balls of sweetness from Rainbow Lapis strike the right note.

Here is a plate of some of my favourites (clockwise from top): triangle tapioca kueh with Gula Melaka (there is also a version in solely orange color), savoury  glutinous rice with spicy dried shrimp sambal (aka hae bee hiam) called Pulut Panggang, and the pyramid-like kueh with grated coconut atop a mound of glutinous rice called Pulut Iti (the blue dye in the rice is derived from the blue pea flower).


What I like about the kuehs from Rainbow Lapis is that they are not overly sweet, and the texture is rather refined. Plus they are in bite size, which make for a nice little sweet indulgence.

The kiosk also offer kaya (coconut-based spread), pineapple tarts as well as traditional favourites like Pandan cake and Gula Melaka cake. There are snacks like berlinjal, fish and prawn crackers. You can also get Mee Siam, Mee Rebus or savoury glutinous rice with dried shrimps in the early morning for breakfast.

So, if you are in the vicinity of Raffles Place, do check out Rainbow Lapis for a wonderful local sweet delight.

The TMNT craze continues (updated)

Buddy is still mad about the mutant turtles. When I spotted the TMNT T shirts at BHG department store recently, I bought some for him. Strangely, those are the only clothing merchandise available. I wanted to get him pyjamas, and there is none here; so a US relation ordered a set from Amazon for me. My nice boss also bought him another set when he travelled to NYC last month. My husband couldn’t help saying, “Buddy, you can open a TMNT store now.”  

Buddy now insists on wearing  his turtle T shirt to daycare because he refuses to wear the uniform top. I admit I had to use the turtle attire to get him to go to preschool a few weeks ago, when he became upset upon seeing his uniform after he woke up. He cried, “I don’t want to go to school!” 

I was at my wits’ end then, trying both carrot and stick to get him to leave the house. It might be due to the departure of his BFF after the Chinese New Year. Anyway the T shirt works for a couple of days before the protest against school resumed. 

Strangely, Buddy was fine once he entered the center. Still, it was stressful to get over the hump of leaving the house. Thank God for the recent arrival of a new boy, who turns out to be a TMNT fan, and that makes things easier for Buddy as he now has a turtle partner. 

Buddy doesn’t have any toys other than the combat gear that I bought online from Toys R Us. This is the Leonardo kit that comes with a sword, an eye mask and two flying disks. The sword attracts a lot of attention from small and big kids (aka men who are nostalgic for their childhood). 

  
The eye mask is not that great though. It has to be tied at the back and becomes loose easily and so irritates Buddy’s eyes. So he has stopped wearing it. Instead, I have found another one on Etsy made of felt and comes with an elastic band. I hope it is truly better.  

 
I had wondered if I should get the turtle figures for Buddy’s birthday present, since he has been eyeing them at the toy stores, or the other combat gears. As I dawdle, it turns out he is rather creative at make-believe. The sword doubles up as a staff when he decides to become Donatello instead of Leonardo. And he turns the long Minion socks as weapons, like the two Sais that Raphael uses. He will twist them round and round, so much so that I told my husband that they resemble nunchaks.

I had mentioned  in my previous post on the TMNT topic, dated 8 March, that Buddy uses the dinosaur models as his weapons, which also double up as the turtle figures. In fact, whenever he spots any turtles/tortoises, he will cry out, “Ninja!” So when we were at The Better Toy Store the other day, he saw a stuffed turtle, and I decided to get it for him. I figured it can be whichever TMNT figure he wants it to be, instead of me having to buy all four of them since he will change his ninja turtle preference.   

I was told that the second TMNT movie is screening in July, likely part of the summer action blockbusters. Buddy said he wanted to watch it. Well, let’s see since he may lose interest in the turtles by then.  

But Buddy does have a tendency of going through the different toys in phases. Like the Thomas Trains, which was his first major toy interest, and after he discovered the dinosaurs, he dropped the trains and went for the reptiles. But some months later, he returned to the trains and mostly abandoned the dinos. During those phases, I admit I had went to some length to procure various trains and dinos for him.  Now that he is into TMNT, the trains are again forgotten, and I am considering carefully before getting any toys which I regard as part of the movie marketing machine.

In fact, before the turtles, he had a big infatuation with Godzilla, and had asked for the figure. But there is hardly any merchandise available in Singapore since the movie fad is over. I refrained from getting it from Amazon because it doesn’t look as well made as the dino figures I got for him, and worse, it is also more expensive. It turns out to be a wise move now that he has lost interest in Godzilla. Even when the infatuation returns later, he can always use one of the dinos to double up as the fantasy Monster. After all, the image of Godzilla is likely to have derived from a dino. 

The new cheongsam launches (updated)

(I made a mistake with the launch date of Our Bitsy Prints’ 29th collection. It should be tonight, 6th April. Apologies!)

After a hiatus on cheongsam posts, I finally published one featuring new launches.

First on the list is Joli Pretty, whose latest designs are made available since last Thursday (31 March). This series of dresses are feminine in style, and I especially like those in laces.  

A couple of the cheongsams can be customized, like this red lace dress below. There is an extra cost of S$10 and above, depending on complexity.

Notice that all cheongsams show off the female silhouette, and even for the blue shift lace dress below, the peekaboo fabric plus the shorter length adds a touch of sultry to the design. However, I don’t think much of some of the prints, like those on the pastel floral dress and the butterfly dress. They make the cheongsams look a little gaudy.
 

  

Another online store, Our Bitsy Prints, is launching its latest 29th collection tomorrow (7 April). It has an interesting theme, “In the Noir Garden”, which has a mysterious feel to it. In fact, an image of a femme fatale comes into mind. Unfortunately, the designs and prints turn out rather average and boring, not befitting the theme at all.


Lastly, here are some cheongsam designs from Shanghai Tang.

Top picture features a classic dress with red floral print, followed by those from the SS/2016 collection. The contemporary style of the latter gives the cheongsam an edgy look. Even for the classic qipao, notice how with the pairing of black tights and high ankle boots give the dress a whole new feel? This is how to make the cheongsam relevant to the modern lady, and yet doesn’t take away the elegance of the dress. It is not by pairing it with sandals, flip flops or sneakers like what some designers or retailers do.            

 

 

 

The JB trip

Last Thursday, we made a short trip to Johor Bahru, or JB for short. For those not in the know, it is the second largest city in Malaysia, right across the causeway from Singapore. The separation is less than 2Km,  and there is a lot of traffic between both countries. Yet despite JB being a short hop from Singapore, it is a bloody pain in the ass to make the crossing because of the perennial jam. 

There are lots of talk to make the land travel easier, still, at the end of the day it’s basically NATO (no action, talk only). Because of this, my husband and I try not to cross over unless we have to. Not only is driving in a jam exhausting for him, but the jerky movement of the car causes buddy to have motion sickness and puke. 

Anyway, we decided to make the trip last Thursday for personal reason. Though a working day, it was still the day before the long Good Friday weekend, and the immigration department even issued alert of heavy traffic on both Thursday and Friday.

My husband said we should take the advice of a family friend, an expert in travelling between Singapore and JB, to start our journey at 6.00AM. I baulked. 6.00AM??? What about Buddy? Husband said, “we’ll take him from bed and put him in the car seat in his pajamas. He can sleep on the way there.” 

Though I am not a morning person (and I dislike getting up really early), I had to agree since I wouldn’t want to get stuck in traffic and risk Buddy puking again, which you can imagine, is a pain to clean up. To make the trip easier, we booked a night stay at the Double Tree Hilton hotel, located in the central business district so that we didn’t have to rush back to Singapore on the same day. 

Before the journey, my husband checked an app that provides traffic conditions of the crossing and the route looked pretty smooth. So off we went.

It turns out our friend is an expert for good reasons. For the first time, we experienced a smooth drive all the way from home to the Singapore immigration checkpoint which we passed through in a breeze. Followed by unimpeded crossing over the causeway and no hassle at the Malaysian immigration check. It was especially amazing for my husband, who had made the crossing numerous times before. I noticed that traffic piled up on the other side instead, as Malaysians travel from JB to Singapore for work.

We took an hour from our home to reach JB city center, and that was a record! Previous trip took us nearly an hour and 45 minutes, and that was considered not too bad. 

The hotel we booked for our stay, Doubletree Hilton, is relatively new, and most importantly, it is an oasis in the midst of chaos. This was our second stay, and during the first, we were pleasantly surprised by the excellent service provided by the well-trained staff, whether at the reception, concierge desk or restaurant. At  check-in, guests are given a large chocolate chip walnut cookie each, which is really yummy. (I had one previously before I discovered my problem with wheat products.)

We opted for a deluxe room with King-sized bed, which is fairly roomy. The hotel also offers different types of pillow for a comfortable sleep. This is a really nice touch because we are used to firm pillows, and we were also satisfied with the firmness of the mattress. Imagine lying on a bed and find yourself sinking into it! As for the facilities, there are a gym and a swimming pool. Our US relatives, who stayed there recently, like the executive lounge access which provides free-flow of snacks and drinks. But we didn’t opt for that as we wanted the flexibility of eating out.  

The hotel has two restaurants, Makan (which serves buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and Tosca, that offers Italian cuisine which we did not try. There is also a cafe, The Food Store, but the food sucks though. The crust of the beef pie I had taste like cardboard! Anyway the hotel eateries are halal certified to cater to the Muslims.

Here are some pictures taken at Makan restaurant during our breakfast buffet the next morning. It’s pretty big with various stations serving different cuisines. 

There is an Indian station where you can get freshly made Prata.  

My husband ordered the egg prata which is very nicely done and tasty as well.   

Pastries and bread station, and waffles, cereals are available as well.

 

Chinese station with limited dimsum and noodle. My husband and relatives tried the noodle and they said it was pretty good.

 
Usually, hotel buffet can be non-descript grubs that you go only for convenience. But at Makan restaurant, the quality is better than expected, especially for the Malay food. In fact, we discovered that food ordered from the ala carte menu is excellent. We ordered some satay and honestly, it was some of the best we ever had. I had the Nasi Lemak and I have to say it does surpass the famous Adam road brand in Singapore.

The hotel staff are very helpful, and takes initiatives. During our first stay, I was carrying Buddy while holding a plate in one hand. A Chef came over and offered to get some food for me, and even took the plate back to our table. Later, buddy needed to poo, and I quickly took him with me to look for the toilet. A wait staff instinctively knew what I was looking for and guided me to the one inside the restaurant.However it was closed for maintenance, and he then took me on the shortcut that leads to the one outside. Seriously, the service surpasses that of many restaurants in Singapore.

Anyway if you are sick of eating in the hotel, there is a pretty good Indian restaurant diagonally across the road called “Amma”, which serves Southern Indian cuisine.   

I took a picture of the hotel, from within the restaurant, when we were there for breakfast after we arrived.  

My husband ordered the plain Prata set. We had tried the egg prata before, and it was not as well made as the one at Makan restaurant. But one thing I must give to this Indian eatery is that the curry and dips are very good, better than what Makan provides, which is rather limited. My husband had the fish curry with the prata. 

We had a masala thosai as well, which comes with yoghurt, coconut curry and dhal dip. The masala filling, curried potatoes  with onion, is really yummy. My husband finds it better than what he had in Singapore. I also had a paper thosai which I shared with Buddy. It was not bad, but I prefer the version at Prata Wala back home, which is crispier. 

I find that the locals have a high tolerance for sweetness. When I asked for tea with less sugar in Singapore, it’s usually slightly sweetened. But at JB eateries, it tastes like the regular tea in Singapore. So I ended up requesting for tea without sugar. Maybe because sugar is subsidized in Malaysia, and so there is no qualm about dunking teaspoons of it into any food or beverage. But seriously, I think they take way too much sugar for their own good.

 

That night, we went to New Lucky restaurant, a place which my father-in-law highly recommends. We took a taxi there as parking around the area can be a bitch in the evening. We were there a couple of weeks back with our US relatives, and before that, it was several years ago when I was first brought to the restaurant. Maybe the quality has improved since, because I don’t remember the food being this good before. FIL ordered the salted egg crabs, a steamed fish and a salt-baked chicken again, all of which had previously got the relatives smacking their lips. 

I didn’t get a chance to have much of the chicken since it was quickly devoured, but whatever little I had, the meat was cooked to tenderness. I managed to have a good share of the crabs, which was sinfully delicious with the salted egg spicy sauce. When you have crabs like this, you throw decorum out the window, and basically use your hands to pull the claws apart with the help of the nutcracker, and suck the meat out of the claws. The fish was also a hit as it was steamed to perfection. Too bad I was so focused on eating that I completely forgot about taking any pictures until the food was almost gone. 

After dinner, I wanted to ask the restaurant to call a cab for us, but FIL said we could hail one along the road. We got into this dinky car with a broken taxi signage, and dropped FIL at his home before going back to our hotel. The driver took a turn into the central shopping district (Lorong Wong Ah Fook), and my husband immediately remarked that it was the longer route, and worse, there was very heavy traffic on it. The driver went on the right-most lane and the taxi slowed to almost a standstill. After some time, while the meter continued to tick, I realized that the bloody driver was going behind traffic that was waiting to enter the carpark of the mall on our right. I pointed out to my husband, who immediately told the driver we were getting out  there and then. If we had sat it out, we would probably ended up paying MYR50 for a journey that cost a fraction of that, and even then the fare was more expensive than the journey from hotel to the restaurant, which was less than MYR14. 

My husband was furious, “bloody driver knows we are Singaporeans, and wanted to cheat us! He thought we are unfamiliar with the roads!” Actually I am, but luckily my husband is not, and he can also speak Malay. Too bad, in my hurry to get out of the taxi, I forgot to take down the license plate. But husband didn’t think that would help, “Even if you complain to the taxi company, it will just be ignored. There is a culture of dishonesty here!” Of course, it doesn’t apply to everyone because we have experienced honest and competent people. But my husband thinks those are exceptions rather than the rule. 

At the mall where we dropped off, I tried to use google map to get the direction back to the hotel. However my husband said, “forget it! Google map doesn’t work here because the roads are in a mess. The government will just close off a road without giving any thoughts for alternatives. Anyway I have a good idea of the direction to the hotel. We just have to cross the road.” 

Indeed, one lane was closed off which resulted in heavy traffic. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any pedestrian crossing set up. We noticed some locals crossing through a make-shift parting in the middle of the road and decided to follow suit. And anyway, the slow traffic does make it easy to jay walk. However, once across, there was this row of rundown shops and an eatery at a corner next to a boarded up wall. The other end appears to be boarded up as well. The whole row of shops was in darkness other than the eatery. My husband asked a lady there if there was a way out of the place and she pointed the direction to a back lane. 

There was no street lights along the narrow lane, and the path was only dimly lit up by the lights emitting from the back of the houses alongside. Luckily my husband has quite a good sense of direction. I followed closely behind as he turned left to find a way out. Buddy asked, “why is it so dark?” Thank God he didn’t cry or said he was afraid, I guess he felt safe in my husband’s arm. 

There was a man who came towards us as we walked along the lane, and I hugged my bag tightly. He was only a passerby, which was a relief because I was actually half expecting a mugger. Though my husband was less worried, “I think any guy would think twice at the the sight of me.” (He does have a presence, especially in the dark.) 

Nearing the end of the lane, there was a broken stone path steeped in water. As I stepped on the stones, they wobbled under my feet, and I had to be careful my shoes didn’t slip into the water. Though I guess I should be more concerned about twisting my ankle. After we crossed it, we appeared to reach a dead end. A steep slope with an incline of more than 45 degree stood before us. I couldn’t help blurting out, “Goddammit!” 

My husband, unperturbed, went up the slope, which was about 2.5 metre high, without much problem. I hesitated for a moment. WTF! How the hell was I gonna climb up? In the darkness, I could barely made out the steps carved out by others who use the path. But my husband couldn’t help me anyway since he had to carry Buddy. So I gritted my teeth and went up, praying hard I didn’t slip and fall. Both Husband and I were relieved when I made it. 

Still, that wasn’t even the end of the journey. We had to cross a couple of roads before finally reaching the hotel. It was like some bloody amazing race! My husband quipped he could join the Spartan race after this adventure. So the lesson learnt is not to hail a cab along the road, but to call a reliable cab company to send a taxi. 

We left JB for Singapore in the mid-afternoon the next day. My husband checked the app again before departing; the road was clear again. Instead, it was the crossing from Singapore to JB that was jammed like crazy. He told me that earlier in the day, the estimated time to cross was 3 hours! 

So, on a day when Singaporeans were going to JB for the long weekend, we returned to Singapore, and again breezed through checkpoints on both sides. 

Grabbing a sight of the cherry blossom!

Last Sunday, we went to Gardens By The Bay for the floral exhibition display in the Flower Dome. It was a showcase of various species of the cherry blossoms or sakura, and peach tree. The sakura is known for its fleeting beauty, blooming for a short period of time when the weather starts to get warm. In case you are not aware, in Japan, watching out for the blossoms is a national event, and the practice of hanami, or pinicking under a blossomed cherry tree, is highly popular. Many companies, especially the large ones, will organize hanami as a staff outing.

According to Wikipedia, the first bloom in Japan occurs in Okinawa in January, and the blossoming wave will travel northward to Tokyo in end March, before proceeding to Hokkaido. Here in Singapore, we are lucky that the Gardens have brought in so many Sakura species for public viewing. Within these two weeks, from 11-27 March, we get to admire the flowers without having to travel to various regions of Japan.

The sakura is a temperate flora and cannot survive in our hot and humid weather, particular now when we are experiencing really warm temperature because of the El Niño and Equinox phenomena. The flower will wilt in one nanosecond! Even the residents are screaming, “it’s freaking hot!” Instead, the flowers bloom in the air-conditioned Flower Dome, which also brings a big relief for the crowd escaping from the outside heat. So, here are the pictures taken by my husband. 

Upon entering the Dome, there is a huge bonsai tree greeting the visitors, and behind it are a few white cherry blossom trees.

The view from the upper gallery. You can tell that there were a lot of people down there.

There were lines to get into the display, and my husband patiently waited for the photo shots.


The Sakura flowers were in full bloom when we were there, and I am not sure if they can last till this Sunday. To be honest,  we find that though the flowers are pretty at first glance, they look rather boring after a while. There is little to distinguish them, unlike the multi-hue daisy, the varied exoticism of the orchid or the elegant lily. I might get whacked by the Japanese for our views since it’s their national flower, but I am interested to know what are their distinguishing features.




And here are the pictures taken by me, which are basically the non-Sakura flowers. I couldn’t get any close up photos because the place was packed! I was in line to enter the display when I took the below picture. The visitors were only allowed to enter in batches.



I am not sure if it was because the sakura flowers were in full bloom last weekend or what, but it was like a mad house inside the Flower Dome. Many were jostling to take pictures of the flowers. I had to keep an eye on Buddy in case he got lost so that my husband could focus on the photo taking.

In fact, when we arrived at GBTB at 10.30AM that day, there were only 2 lots in the Visitor Center carpark, and so my husband decided to park at Meadow, the open air carpark. That turned out to be a mistake. Firstly it was a bit of walk to the Flower Dome, and secondly, the car was like an oven when we returned to it in the mid afternoon. This carpark is only good for the early evening when the temperature is cooler.

The other problem with going to GBTB in the morning is the limited dining options for breakfast. There are only a few restaurants opened, like cafe Crema and McDonald’s (which, unfortunately, took over from Verandah which served very good chicken curry) located at the Visitor Center, and the Hill Street Coffee shop and Peach Garden Noodle House at Supertree Grove. If you want to splurge, there is Pollen located within the Flower Dome. 

We went to Hill Street since we wanted some local breakfast; and besides both McD and Cafe Crema serve mainly wheat products. We skipped Peach Garden because the food sucks big time and it’s a tourist trap. At least Hill Street has some decent grubs, but the management must be ignorant of the Sakura display as well as the children’s festival held last week. There was a shortage of staff to handle the constant stream of customers, and the eatery ran out of bread and dessert at 11.00AM! It does smack of incompetence. 

Anyway, if you are interested to check out the floral display, try to go in the weekday. Considering that there is the long Good Friday weekend this week, the Dome is expected to be packed to the hilt. 

 

 

Welcome to the club!

I can’t believe this but I only just realized that I am intolerant to wheat products, which very likely means I am gluten intolerant. 

I have suffered from bloated tummy for several years. I consulted a medical specialist, several years ago, who diagnosed that I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), but I never knew what was the cause. It was only end last week that my husband suggested that I  returned to my roots, meaning lay off the wheat/gluten products and go on a complete Asian diet. He suspected that I was sensitive to wheat/gluten after he saw this Australian documentary on the bad substance found in it.

But the problem is I love wheat products; I love wholemeal and especially multigrain bread. I enjoy cookies, cakes, pastries, muffins, and waffles, and what have you. So, telling me that I am intolerant to gluten is like saying I have to go on a liquid diet. 

When my husband made the suggestion to go Asian, I went, “what am I going to eat, especially for breakfast?” He said, “you can have noodle soup, fried beehoon (thin rice noodle)…” But I don’t eat those stuff for breakfast?! He looked at me and said, “Asians eat those for breakfast.” He persuaded me to try it for a week and see if the diet change helps my tummy. 

So, last Friday, I started on an  Asian diet, which is basically rice-based. On the first day, I admit I didn’t go totally off wheat because I had wraps for lunch, but I did adhere for the rest of the day. In the late afternoon, the office boss decided to treat the staff to afternoon tea: a rainbow cake from a nearby hotel, which is supposedly pretty good. Unfortunately, I had to pass.

A Belgian colleague came over and asked, “Aren’t you going to have some cake?” I told him of my trial diet, and he replied, “Welcome to the club!” I looked at him puzzled, and he continued, “I am gluten and lactose intolerant.” I was even more surprised. How did he cope with the European diet all this time? After all, gluten-free products are only available in recent years. Another colleague later told me that the Belgian colleague only found out about his gluten condition recently. This explains why he so loves Asian food once he arrived here. We used to have a French colleague who is allergic to gluten, absolutely can’t touch it.

Anyway, back to my Asian diet, I have been following it as faithfully as I can. I have also started a food diary to keep track of the possible food that might cause tummy discomfort. So far, the result confirms my husband’s suspicion. My tummy doesn’t look like I’m four months pregnant now, and I am totally fine. I also have a better understanding of the food that causes indigestion or slight bloatedness, which I will try to avoid them. In fact, on those couple of occasions that I reverted back to wheat, I was a little shocked to realize my tummy protested in reaction to even small portion of it. So it looks like the Asian diet is here to stay. 

I have checked out the availability of gluten-free food in Singapore, and unfortunately there are limited options, in terms of cafes, restaurants or bakeries. In fact you can count on two hands who they are. Worse, they are not exactly located in very convenient places, and the food selections are not as varied. As for the regular restaurants or eateries, very few offer gluten-free options on its menu. Of course, for Asian restaurants, the food, in essence doesn’t or hardly has wheat in it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

In case you’re wondering, I’m not the one crazy over TMNT. It’s buddy. I figured he found out about them from the kids in daycare, because he watches little TV at home. (Most times, he watches what we do, which are mainly news or documentaries and only occasionally, drama series.) You can say he is deprived because he doesn’t get to watch cartoons, and only found out about them from his friends in daycare. I guess this explains why he doesn’t have interests in any superheroes or even the famous Mickey Mouse.

So, I was quite surprised when, some weeks ago, he started talking  about TMNT and told us he was Leonardo. I didn’t know who that was and had to Google to find out. (Ok, I was deprived as a kid too.) He started to use improvised objects as his swords, like the IKEA train track.


Other swords come in the shapes of paper towel rolls, paper plane, and even dino toys!

 

 

 

Of course, not all the “swords” are safe for him to play. My Husband stopped Buddy from using the train track and this Allosaurus figure as swords since he might poke his eye or someone’s eye with them.

So Buddy went for the “safer” dino models for his swords: Parasaurolophus and Dacentrusus.


For the bandana, Buddy had this blue elephant mask that he made in school, which we then cut it to become a Leonardo bandana for him. The blue inflated dino became the baddie, Shredder.

Buddy wrestling with Shredder.

 

Shredder died!

 

Not long after, the paper mask was the first to kaputt and the paper plane got scrounged  up. Then, last weekend, both the paper rolls went into the thrash bins after a fight-off with a friend.

We had tried looking for foam sword at toy stores but there was none available. I finally found one on Toys R Us online store, but Buddy said no when I showed him the picture. My Husband then had the idea of making a paper katana sword for Buddy, like the one used by Leonardo.


Unfortunately the katana cannot withstand much action. My Husband had to stop Buddy from whacking Shredder after the sword looked like it might break apart. Buddy lost interest in it right after that. He needs a proper weapon  in his fights against bad guys! So back to the dino figures.

Luckily, the online Toys R Us  store sells the Leonardo combat gear set.

I told Buddy if he was a good boy and go to school, I would get it for him. Instead he replied, “I have my own swords!” Well, let’s see if he would say that again when I show him the real thing. Though, a couple of days ago, he told us he is now Raphael. My Husband and I groaned.

Anyway, TMNT must be out of favor with many kids here because I can hardly find any of its merchandise. Luckily we have some relatives coming over from the US, and I requested my sis-in-law to get the socks for Buddy. Despite the last minute shopping spree, she didn’t have difficulty finding them. Now, I have to look for pyjamas.

About death

I know that many regard death as a taboo subject, either because it is considered inauspicious or that the topic has never crossed their mind, or it is a morbid subject that one doesn’t talk about. I think we should get over this psychological barrier because we will all die eventually. It could be tomorrow, a year from now or maybe a decade later. I feel we should accept it and be mentally prepared for it.

But I also understand that many times, death does not come at the right time, if ever there is a censensus on what is. I guess we would regard death as inevitable for an old person. When that time comes, hopefully, death is quick and painless. However, when someone younger passes away, we typically feel that life has been robbed from this person. But life is never certain, though death is.

For many, there is an innate need to cling on to life. As for me, it really depends. As long as Buddy is not independent of age, I feel I should have the will to continue living in order to care for him. But once he becomes independent, I will accept death when it comes, regardless of how I die. My loved ones will probably grieve, but like what my Husband’s always said, “we should learn from the Irish. They hold a party at the funeral!” Well, it’s not exactly a party in its true sense, but there are lots of food, drinks (especially alcohol), funny stories, some dancing and even games. The Irish believe in making the passing more bearable for the deceased’s family during the wake.

For those who believe in God, in death the deceased is united with the almighty and it should be a joyful occasion for him/her. This is especially so for the old folks. We should celebrate the divine reunion instead of mourning the departure. 

Buddhist teachings also advocate that death is nothing to be afraid of. If you have accumulated good karma during your current life, you will have a better rebirth. Buddhism even advocates that a believer should not have any attachment to this earthly world. It is only when one let go of any attachment, the person will be able to break the cycle of life and death. 

I like the idea of detachment, though I can probably do it at the end of my life. (Yes, I know I can’t be selective about this because it’s supposed to be a lifelong attitude.) Anyway I guess if we remind ourselves that if we have led a fulfilled life, we should have no regrets about leaving this world. Even if there are regrets, these are situations which cannot be reversed, and we should accept them as they are. 

I know it is very hard to transcend our emotions when death is near or when our loved ones are at their death beds, or have passed away. However, when we truly accept  the respective religious philosophies, it does make the departure less painful. Using one of my husband’s favorite quotes, taken from the Dalai Lama XIV (which also applies for the atheist):

“If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”

Miscellaneous shots of cheongsam

I know it has been more than two weeks since my last post before Chinese New Year. There was an incident which caused much exhaustion and stress, and I had no time nor inclination to put up anything in my blog. In fact, for the first time, I didn’t celebrate CNY. Anyway I thought I would put up a short post on the cheongsam shots I had taken prior to CNY.

Also, I want to say that I had a closer look at the Allure cheongsam (featured in my post “Spring Cheongsams at Isetan Scotts”). I didn’t look closely at the outer seams then as I only focused on the inner seams. The workmanship (along the zip) is shoddy, and even the alteration seamstress also told me that the fabric quality is not up to par. I should have learned to be careful of discounts, but the word “Sale” got the better of me. Even at discounted price, I wouldn’t have accepted  it if I had inspected it closely.

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Anyway, here are the cheongsam from various boutiques.

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Love & Bravery

 

Pure Glamour

 

 

Yacht21

 

Xi boutique

 

 

Miz Apparels

 

Studio 55

 

 

Hana