Kenjo (can you) see the difference in my hair? Kenjo guess what I did?

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{Photo taken by mmlittlee}

For me, the true results of a hair well managed by a stylist is not only how I leave the salon looking & feeling, but also in the weeks after. To have colleagues still say “nice hair!”, “can I touch your hair? wow, so soft huh”, “how much ah?” 2 weeks after that hair pampering session, and still receiving hair compliments from the husband – which are few and far between – especially when my ex-hair style didn’t excite the husband one bit; that pretty much sums up my first visit and review of Kenjo Salon.

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I’ve always worn my hair in the most boring way – flat & center-parted, since Motherhood. To me, it just seems the most practical especially when getting ready to go out with the family actually means getting the 2 kids ready first and using whatever’s left of time before the husband starts to get annoyed from waiting, on myself (showering, changing and putting on undereye concealer inclusive).

On the 2 occasions that I randomly felt a little more vain, hardworking and adventurous to walk-in for a perm (once during confinement after Ollie’s birth, and the next, some 4 months later), I ended up either putting lots of hair straightening cream or a hat before stepping out of the house.

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So when Kenjo Korean Hair Salon invited me over for my first appointment few weeks back, I was absolutely thrilled. For someone who’s been trading hours of her sleeping time to watch ‘DOTS’ and ‘Doctors’, over blogging and online shopping; having a Korean hairstylist attend to my hair needs was a desire come true!

The first thing that I noticed when I stepped into Kenjo Korean Hair Salon that Sunday morning was how spacious and how pristine it was despite having quite a few seats occupied. Perhaps I’m used to the smaller salons, usually with cramp spaces (well, anything goes when it comes to Argan Oil Hair Treatments at coupon deals!), that stepping into a full-serviced salon, complete with a decent menu of hot/cold drinks, ample space for one’s belongings and for a good leg stretch in-between, and free wifi which didn’t demand for your re-login details every 10 minutes (which was perfect for my social media and article reading binge) was a refreshing and much welcomed change.

I was introduced to my Korean Director Stylist – Lois Park – who had my full buy-in when she suggested a colour and a volumizing C perm to give my limp state of hair a “lift” and inject some “vigour”. It wasn’t until a thorough hair wash and accessing my hair for the 2nd time, this time in its wet state, that she advised against a perm because the condition of my hair wasn’t optimal and that a perm might damage the hair further. Oops, must have been all that hurried rebonding over the bad perms which made it worse. While I was a tad disappointed to hear that I couldn’t go through with the volume perm, I agreed with Lois’s suggestion to nourish and strengthen the hair first. I was already dropping more hair post-partum this 2nd time round and the last thing I wanted was to have limp AND damaged-looking, frizzled hair. Besides, if I started treating my hair now, it would look even better and more luscious by year end right, just in time for the many photos amidst festive celebrations!

Frivolous thoughts aside, I was also grateful to have someone who prioritize the health of my hair over entertaining my grand hair ideas. While days when the husband is okay to manage both kids on his own for a good 3 hours don’t come often, I appreciated Lois’s insistence that we focused on what was more important first – which was strengthening my hair.

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So project:healthy hair it was. I started with a hair colour (which was actually a hair repair product to produce softness and shine) to cover up all the white hairs that parenthood has given me using Mucota’s new Botanical Colours – Paralux Forest – doesn’t the name of the product alone sound so cool?

Using the 3 step hair colour system to colours, repair and protect the scalp & hair from chemicals and environmental damage that comes with age (sad but true), it also addresses the stress placed on scalp by utilizing plant extracts.

“Nat, this sounds like another fancy name for the usual hair colouring.” Well, it’s been 3 weeks and counting and the hair colour still looks good with no signs of my stubborn white hairs forcing their presence on my head vs. other colouring services I did back in May which seemingly vanished within 2 weeks. This Paralux Forest actually works! And if like me, the smell of hair colouring gets to you, well, this one won’t have much of a smell because most of it dissipates after a thorough wash at the salon.

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Next, Lois did a 3-step Mucota Scena Hair Treatment to further nourish and strengthen my hair.

First, my hair was coated with a natural ceramide and moisturizing sugar (using Mucota Scena Adel) as the base for the other 2 steps of the treatment and to improve the repair function. In case all that sounds like greek, it’s like applying BB cream or a makeup base before slapping on your foundation for better and lasting absorption.

My hair was then sprayed with a hair repair product (step 2 – Mucota Scena Brava) which contained 5 kinds of hair repair elements to handle the various hair damages (from perming, colouring, rebonding, environmental, etc.)

Lastly, my hair was coated again with a cuticle protection cream (step 3 – Mucota Scena Calore) to improve damaged cuticle, control light diffuse reflection and create a lustrous hair base, making hair smooth and silky.

The treatment lasted for about an hour while I snapchatted, surfed my Facebook newsfeed and WhatsApp with my friends. While I’m not new to hair treatments – I’m a huge advocate of regular hair treatments be it at home or at salon – I definitely felt immediate difference upon touching my hair after this one. No wonder my boss and colleagues are such huge fans of Mucota Scena Treatment and are willing to splurge on it.

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We ended the hair session with a haircut to create a pseudo-volume on my hair and more texture. While the non “Ah Lian” look took a bit getting used to, this new airy, bouncy hair grew on me really quickly. Lois even took the effort to re-create the C curls at the end as a sneak preview to how I’d look the next time my hair is optimal and ready for Volumizing C Perm. I hear she’s quite the go-to person when it comes to perms!

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I left the salon feeling satisfied about my renewed hair which literally bounced along as I walked. But the best highlight of the day was yet to be.

Feeling bad for making the boys wait for a few hours while I got my hair done and a little hesitant that they might not even notice the subliminal difference to my hair, the husband paid me a very nice compliment as I entered the car.

“Wow, nice hair! You look really nice!” he said, and continued later on “this hair suits you so nicely Sweetie, told you that you need more volume and you look nice in a perm”

“Wow mummy, you look so pretty with your pretty hair!”, Liam echoed right after his papa when he could get a chance. Even the superhelper couldn’t help but chimed in later that evening: “Wow ma’am, very nice! I like!”.

Nothing like receiving spontaneous hair compliments to make one’s day!

A few praises came through WhatsApp right after I posted a photo of my new hairdo, and that very week, 2 of my favourite mom bloggers – Amazingly Still and Bumblebee Mum – even went to Kenjo Salon for a haircut!

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{Photo from Amazingly Still}

 As a full-time mum who relies heavily on beauty shortcuts as much as possible so that I can sleep in as much as possible and get ready for work in the shortest time possible, this new hairstyle has been such breeze to manage.

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{Photo by mmlittlee}

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{Photo by mmlittlee}

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Keen to try out Kenjo Korean Hair Salon’s hair services? Quote “Natasha” to get a 15% off on your first visit! Healthy hair FTW!

KENJO Korean Hair Salon 살롱

68 Orchard Road, #04-72, Plaza Singapura (New Wing), Singapore 238839

Phone: 6238 8083

 

Our first visit to USS in 2016!

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After a year and a half hiatus, we finally made our 13th visit (our 1st visit for 2016!) to Universal Studios Singapore (USS) today! Who would have knew we could resist that long…especially when we’ve been making frequent trips to Sentosa.

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But we did, thanks to other exciting adventures on the Luge, Cable Car, and the Beach.

We decided to make today a little special by telling the boys that we had a surprise planned for them. The only catch was that no screen time was allowed for the entire day, and they had to be on their best behaviour. It worked like a charm. The boys were very cooperative in finishing their breakfast, changing out of their PJs and were in a very sharing mood when it came to playing toys. I had quite the peaceful morning I’d hoped for while getting ready without needing to resolve any conflicts between the siblings.

And there we were… outside the gates of USS, purchasing our long-term passes, asking the counter time and again if there were any promotions or credit card discounts on admission fees because now that we had to pay for Liam too (I was hoping kid’s admission fees would be much cheaper but the difference in price from adult’s fee was as laughable); the difference from what we used to pay inclusive of purchasing Unlimited Express Passes add-ons, was threefold. Ouch.

In the end, against our inclination, we decided to do away with purchasing express passes. It turned out to be a really good lesson for Liam on delayed gratification. He was so careful in choosing which rides to line up for, that those with a wait time of 30 minutes and above, he made a mental note to check on their wait time from time to time. Those with a wait time of 25 minutes and below, he patiently waited in line without complains. Just when we thought we couldn’t be more pleased with this unexpectedly good outcome, he even suggested that each time he comes (to USS), he would focus on going for that one ride he really wants first. To my surprise, the husband also told the boy that he’ll take leave off work over the next few months to take the family to USS during off-peak timing, so that it’d be less crowded and we wouldn’t have to wait too long for rides. The boys left me gobsmacked with their outpouring of self-initiatives, I felt like a brat for even considering buying express passes to surprise them with.

I just might! Let’s see.

It’s amazing how after 12 visits, walking into Universal Studios Singapore still put big smiles on our faces like it did during our very first visit. The boys were so excited that they started to sprint. Between the husband & I, though left unsaid, we smiled to each other and knew, that this revisit to our once frequent family haunt was timely.

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Liam now surpassed the minimum height limit for rides such as Puss in Boots and Transformers which meant that he could now go on more rides than before, while Ollie was now old enough to recognize Sesame Street Characters, clap-a-long to their shows, and have fun on rides such as King Julien’s Crazy Carousel, Madagascar and Dino-Soarin’.

To think we even hit a little milestone within the first hour of our 13th visit! We managed to chance on a photo with Shrek for the first time, only because he was so hidden – behind the Enchanted Airways roller coaster zone – and we happened to be there to video the husband & Liam on the roller coaster. So mama here decided to get in line since there wasn’t a queue yet. Lucky us! Check out Ollie’s apprehensive face. This was the only photo out of 10 bust shots that he finally looked at the camera instead of Shrek’s nostrils.

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After which, I managed to record 45 seconds of the 2 older boys in adrenaline action on the roller coaster with Ollie on one arm.

And then the nicest thing happen. One of the staff, an elderly man, saw that I was taking a photo of the 3 boys together, and offered to take a few family photos of us against varied backgrounds.

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I’ve no idea what’s with Liam and his “Home Alone” expression in all of ’em photos, but I’ve much love for these family photos (at least everyone’s looking at the cam!!!) and appreciation of the staff’s kind gesture. He was so amicable that the kids were happy to smile for him without any fuss, and patient in asking if we wanted him to take more photos of us. He absolutely made our day with these captured moments.

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We ended our short revisit to USS with one last ride which was Ollie’s highlight of the day – the Dino-Soarin’ ride. Liam made my heart go all mushy and fuzzy when he insisted on queueing for this ride too, even after his papa tempted him that the Canopy Flyer Roller Coaster next door had a similar wait time as the one we’re in, because he wanted all of us to go on a ride together as a family. Awww, this boy really knows how to tug at my heartstrings without much effort.

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Remember how we used to post photos of us at USS almost every weekend from late 2014 to 2015? Well, the Chungkins’s USS adventures version 2016 is back! Looking forward to our next visit!

Seletar Aerospace just got even cooler with a hipster cafe: Seok Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe

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You know your hood is officially hip when you finally read about a hipster cafe which shares a similar postal code to you, being featured on a popular blog. And you know it is a really decent cafe worth visiting again and again when your rare cafe-hopper husband sneaks in a 2nd visit sans the family, within the week just to wind down from a stressful work schedule.

Just when I thought cafes in Singapore couldn’t get any cooler, Seok Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe impresses the socks outta me and my family at first sight. They say location is everything, and Seok Seng Bicycle Cafe absolutely nailed it.

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“Feels like a scene out of Top Gun”, the husband said as we were warmly greeted by the roaring sound of another jet taking off while walking towards the cafe.

As if our daily commute route to and fro home peppered with gorgeous views of planes, hangars, calm waters, big shady trees wasn’t scenic enough; here we were, sipping our lattes and plane watching at Seok Seng’s, having our skin brushed by the cool breeze every few seconds. My only gripe was only having my phone camera to capture it all.

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Family friendly? Absolutely. While the only kids friendly structure that was available at Seok Seng’s were baby chairs instead of fancy ball pits or slides or even toys, the boys were happy and contented just running and scooting along all that huge space within the outdoor seating, being able to scream in excitement, at the top of their lungs, whenever they spotted a plane. I didn’t have to pretend to be busy with my phone because some other patron might throw dagger stares at me ruining his hipster cafe moment. I could actually relish in the relaxing and calming vibes the surrounding and quaint cafe exude. Plus, don’t you think it makes the perfect backdrop for a runway #OOTD or family shot? Truly one of its kind!

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While the cafe’s food didn’t take my breath away as much as its picturesque view, I thought it was pretty decent. The kids enjoyed their Fish & Chips (which tasted quite good using breadcrumbs instead of batter) till the last morsel, that we had to order seconds just so the husband & I could snack on some of it.

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I also spied on a variety of cakes on display such as the 1-layer Ondeh cake, and the chocolate rainbow but alas, I wasn’t with my dessert kakis. But what caught my eye beside the cake display was a big sign displaying all the flavours of Ice Cream Sandwiches from The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. Kudos to them for stocking my all-time favourite dessert and combo: admit it, it can’t get any better munching on a cookie ice-cream sandwich on a gorgeous day like the Sunday morning we were at Seok Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe, with clear blue skies and private jets in plain sight.

Were we charmed? You bet. We’ll definitely be back.

Other things noticed:

Clean toilets as part of MAJ Aviation Building

a sheltered lobby to the carpark for sudden downpours

Seok Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe is at 80 Seletar Aerospace View, MAJ Building – ground floor (you won’t miss it), Singapore 797563

Fujifilm X-T10: For when you don’t need a mirror to look good

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“You’re going to have a difficult time returning this”, the product specialist said with certainty, as we parted ways.

The loan was only for a week. Yet as I made my way back to return the beauty, I couldn’t help but cradle it in my hands for the last time. I was clearly smitten head over heels with the Fujifilm X-T10 – a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera – which surprised me through and through. There was no doubt that I was going to miss using it.

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I’ve always wanted a  premium compact camera as a complement/back-up to my D-SLR. I was swooned by the Fujifilm X series camera when I first saw it being featured in a lifestyle magazine. Then, I was still an avid hobbyist photographer, and told myself how it would be the perfect back-up camera to my D-SLR. I was also a complete sucker for aesthetics (well, still am). I loved how the vintage styling of the X series resembled a traditional SLR camera.

And then motherhood happened.

My Photography hobby took a back seat as breastfeeding and parenting duties took priority. I swapped my heavy, bulky camera bag for an equally heavy, bulky diaper bag, relying on my mobile phone as the “default” camera. Yet once in a while, I made it a point to take my D-SLR out of the dry cabinet for a photowalk. Never mind that it was cumbersome to use while babywearing, or that I had to upload the photos onto the comp via SD card before being able to send access them. It sure wasn’t the most practical camera for a newly-minted mum, yet I revelled in the image quality it produced.

And then Ollie happened.

With 2 kids and a heavier, bulkier diaper bag in tow, days of using my D-SLR reduced significantly. I yearned to feed my occasional photography lust again, and I had to find a better solution than lugging a DSLR around.

I’ve always thought Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (MILC), or also referred as the Micro Four Thirds, which was fast gaining popularity among bloggers and Instagram Influencers, sounded intimidating. What did those 4 words even mean? What was the hype about? And more importantly, was it easy to use? I was however attracted by the promise of “DSLR image quality” minus the bulk and weight mentioned in advertisements. The only thing stopping me from making the purchase was its hefty price tag.

If I was going to fork out close to S$1K for a premium compact, I needed more than a “showroom test” of a few random clicks of random objects. I had to be sure that it was going to be money well-spent. I had to be sure it was going to serve my photography needs. I had to at least take it for a “road test” of sorts, and more importantly, I had to like it enough.

In the last 6 months, I’ve left enough comments on Facebook and Instagram for most of my friends on social media to notice that I was shopping around for a camera. Once, I came close to finding “the one”, only to be reminded of the not-so-good memories I had with the brand, back when they still insisted on using memory sticks when most of the other camera brands had moved on to SD cards.

Until I got acquainted with @i_post_for_love on Instagram through my good friend Bumblebee Mum. I was blown away by his minimally edited (if any) for slight exposure photos, and found out that he was using the Fujifilm X-T1.

And then serendipity struck.

While snooping on the Fujifilm Singapore website to read up on their range of digital cameras, I left an enquiry, asking which camera would be suitable for my current needs. Within the day, I was promptly recommended to try the X-T10 for a week. Woohoo!

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I had so much fun taking photos with the X-T10 ! It was ridiculously easy to use, thanks to its rudimentary knobs and dials to control the camera settings.

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Even my helper liked using the X-T10 too! She enjoyed it so much that she kept offering to take family photos of us at different spots against different backgrounds. Yay for us – no more needing to purchase $20 Groupon vouchers for family photoshoots, and being restricted to photographer’s choice of venue and time!

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When it came to capturing kids at the playground, all instructions of “stay still, don’t move” fell on deaf ears. But of course, how could I expect my kids not to get all excited and stay still at a playground? So all I did the next best thing – flick the lever on the camera to “Auto” mode and clicked away!

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The versatility of the camera continued to surprise me when it came to capturing my foodie adventures. I didn’t have problems of the food looking too “flat” in photos. And I didn’t have spend too long taking and re-taking photos, I could dive straight into eating after a few clicks.

In the case of the cookie with matcha molten lava photo below, I managed to eat the dessert while it was still warm!

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During my week spent with the X-T10, I finally realized why mirrorless cameras were so well received! Unlike DSLRs, there were no camera vibrations and shakes before they’re mirror-less! Bet you didn’t realize I was that clueless. Still, good information to know nonetheless. Heh.

Final verdict? I had such an enjoyable time shooting with the Fujifilm X-T10 that I barely took a photo using my phone in the past week. I especially liked the FUJIFILM Camera Remote App (you have to download it from the app store), which was such a joy to use. It made the wireless transferring of photos from camera to phone so quick and easy, I was using the app so often!

That’s not all.

The app is perfect for group and family photos too. If you don’t trust your helper or kind stranger to take a proper photo of you, just ask her to stand with the camera facing you and make all the adjustments you want remotely from your mobile phone! YES, I’m talking about being able to view that all of you are in frame, ensuring that you don’t expose your unflattering bits before clicking the snap button, adjusting camera settings whether it’s too bright/dim, choosing popular filters such as  ‘Film stimulation’ mode which will gives Instagram a run for their money and even doing a hi-definition video recording of yourself. #mindblown

2 things that I wished was better on the Fujifilm X-T10 were the battery life which was usually drained at the end of the day – but this can be easily solved by getting extra batteries; and the display screen. I wished the display wasn’t as old school as its design, which made selfie shots a lot more challenging because I couldn’t flip it upwards to see ourselves on the screen (then again, that’s probably why their Fujifilm Camera Remote App is so outstanding in having so many features).

The husband has started looking at camera promotions whenever we receive a one of those Courts/Harvey Norman/Best Denki brochures in the mail, while I’m pretty much convinced that I like the X-T10 enough to part 2 terms of enrichment class fees with it.

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Fujifilm Singapore, for which I offered to review in exchange for their kind generosity to loan me the X-T10 (with a standard 18-55mm f/2.8 lens) for a week for my personal “road test”. All photos, opinions, words, and inclination to purchase the X-T10 are my own.

My First Theme Cafe Experience in SG: Pokemon Cafe @ Parco Bugis

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When @msmabes first suggested squealed about wanting to go check out the newly opened Pokemon Cafe Singapore some weeks back (I had no idea what a huge fan she was), I blatantly ignored her excitement. Po…ke…who? I mean, I barely knew anything about the cartoon – always preferring my Captain Planet, Gummy Bears, Looney Tunes – to notice anything else. Moreover, my Instagram feed back then was flooded with adorable, hard-to-ignore photos of the equally new Hello Kitty Cafe and Pompompurin Cafe. It was challenging to feel excited over a cartoon I had no inkling of, let alone a theme cafe.

But of course, awesome company and instagram-worthy food trumps everything else.

When my cafe-hopping kakis Mabel (of Amazinglystill) and LY (of Bumblebee Mum) announced the night before that they were going to check out the Pokemon Cafe because the pop-up theme cafe (which means it’s only a temporary set-up) was going to end its debut on 31 Jul 2016, I had to gatecrash their date. #FOMO

Never mind that I had few reports to complete, and a boss’s request to attend to immediately that very morning. #suayorwhat

I was so swarmed with work that I missed some 165 message updates that Mabel was already there, way before the cafe’s opening time, and was the first in line. With so much work on my plate and a client’s meeting right after lunchtime, I started to doubt if I could even meet the girls.

And then the girls did exactly what I wished they didn’t. They started sending photos of the food and drinks ordered which got me “omigosh-ing, how cuteee!” so much (yes, I’m a sucker for pretty stuff) that I dashed out of the office the moment I had a chance, even forgetting to touch up on lipstick, and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. What a close call. I managed to slip myself in as the doors were closing with the “tu tu tu tu tu” warning sound.

This cafe had better be worth all that madness!

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By the time I arrived at Pokemon Cafe, the girls were done with their main courses. So sorry, no photos and verdict on the food, but you can always read their detailed, hilarious and entertaining account here.

They had just ordered 2 of the most “photo-worthy” desserts out of the 4 – so I was told – and hence I decided to add on one more dessert (chose the nicer looking one out of the remaining 2) + a much needed cuppa latte.

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This was also the moment I realized how much of a Pokemon fan Mabel was. All aesthetically cute Pokemon props you see in the photos belong to her. She brought a bag full of them specially for this cafe visit!

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The first dessert was served – Pikachu Sweeeet Pancake ($20)! I clueless asked why the biscuit which I assumed was a “lightning” was facing down instead of up. Was it because the lightning was striking Pikachu?

“It’s NOT a lightning! It’s his tail!”, Mabel and LY chided me unanimously. Whoops. I learn something new everyday.

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Next came the prettiest looking desserts of ’em all – Pokeball Cream Puff ($20), which does not include the ugly hand drawn Pokeball, heart and handwritten date. Find out how we doodled our own dessert in Bumblebee Mum’s post here.

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Truth be told, Mabel volunteered to doodle because both me and LY refused to have anything to do with it. Heh.

And just when I thought I could finally tuck in and feed my hunger after a few snaps…

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Noooooooooooooooooooooooo…

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Followed by banter somemore. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

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At last, the dessert which I chose was served  – Pikachu’s Thunder Shock ($15). Which meant even more photo-taking and toy props arranging and snapchatting…

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And because we were informed by the staff that this dessert was “delicate” due to the cotton-wool looking thing (which I was later corrected by my kakis that it’s cotton candy. Haha!), no one dared to shift or hold it too much.

For the 50 minutes that I spent at Pokemon Cafe, more photos were taken than the words spoken. And so I made good use of my last 10 minutes to gobble at record speed:

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Don’t I just look overly delirious at finally being able to taste something? You bet.

While I heard that the food was quite decent from Mabel and LY, the 3 desserts were too sweet (save for the pancakes which tasted blah) for my liking. Out of all the items, I enjoyed the latte the best. Well, at least coffee’s decent 🙂

So, I thought my first experience of a theme cafe was a rather good one. I was told by seasoned theme-cafe goers that the food served isn’t usually expected to be mind-blowing or life-changing. There was seemingly quite a bit of effort put into decking out the food, desserts and drinks to theme – with some dishes like the Pancake desserts even allowing you to take home a souvenir mug – as compared to others who just end up putting theme toothpicks into everything.

Is it worth a visit? It is, if you’re there to take Instagram-worthy photos, or are a fan/have kids who are fans of Pokemon. I’m a theme-cafe virgin no more!

Now, whose up for Hello Kitty Cafe and Pompompurin Cafe date next?

 

Family Fun: Exploring Marine Cove at East Coast Park, which makes an awesome outdoor Birthday venue

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The husband & I are not fans of crowded places. Hence he took me by surprise when he said “let’s go!” after I casually mentioned that Marine Cove, aka the “old” McDonalds at East Coast Park, just re-opened this week, with a mega huge playground to boot and that we should probably stay away especially on the first weekend of opening – much like the recently launched McDonalds’ Salted Egg Yolk Burger which have resulted in insanely long queues – annoying me aplenty for the last 2 mornings when I simply wanted to get my kids good ol’ shoestring fries and cup corn…

But of course, nothing could deter this “Eastside kid” who spent most of his life in the East with many fond memories at “East Coast Park Macs” despite my best attempts to suggest spending the day elsewhere.

And what d’ya know, arriving at Marine Cove at lunchtime – 12.30pm – actually paid off in terms of finding parking (we parked at carpark C3, with close proximity to the playground) and decent play space (the playground was relatively empty!).

And before you scream what an insane and irresponsible parent I am, potentially giving my family a heat stroke at the expense of avoiding crowds, the first thought the came to mind when I saw the playground was – PERFECT BIRTHDAY VENUE WITH GUARANTEED FUN, WITHOUT NEEDING TO SPEND TOO MUCH MONEY TO HOST EVERYONE! 

I digress.

As I was explaining myself earlier…the intention was to have lunch first at one of the many new eateries before playground time. But of course how often do our plans go as intended? The kids got so excited seeing the playground that they ditched their favourite skate scooters on the spot, and just ran towards the slides! And so I did the next best thing, which was to slap lots of sunscreen on them, have them drink lots of water to hydrate, make them wear their caps and sunglasses and most importantly, let them have fun!

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And yes, I wondered the same too about the 3 main metal slides, especially under the unforgiving heat, not hot meh? They were definitely hot when I touched them, though it didn’t seem to deter the kids – Liam was happy to slide his bum on the hot metal slide for 4 consecutive times – save for one unhappy incident where the older kids behind him pushed and kicked their way down because they wanted to slide down faster. Parents with toddlers will be relieved to know that the slide at the little ones’ area is a plastic one. Ollie went up and down on his own about 10 times, and enjoyed it so much that it was challenging to get him to move on to play other stuff.

Things to note for parents with kids 4 years and younger: To get to one of the 3 main metal slides, you will have to climb up a rope ladder. For some reason, the stairs next to the rope ladder leading to level 2 – where 2 of the 3 slides’ entrances are located – was closed, so there’s no other way up except to climb the rope.

And here’s where I had a proud mama moment.

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There are 2 rope ladders up to the slides. One leads directly to the entrances of the slides while the other takes you to the start of a rope bridge which you have to cross (as seen in the above photo) in order to get to the “main tower” where the slides are.

Right after completing his climb up the rope ladder, Liam froze after taking a few steps onto the rope bridge. The ability to look straight down beneath his feet scared him, fearing that he would slip through the squares of the “floor”, that our shouts of encouragement could not be heard. Our 4-year-old starting retracing his steps and wanted to climb back down the rope ladder only to realize that he couldn’t do so with so many kids filling up every possible gap on the rope ladder and us not being able to get close enough to him to support his climb down.

The husband was about to join the queue to climb up (yes, a queue started to form just to climb the rope ladder!) when we saw Liam slowly but surely overcoming his initial fear, conquering it with steady steps and a firm grasp on the rope! What a champ, he even managed to climb up to the tallest slide without a hitch despite the older kids all trying to overtake him from behind (and you could see several parents of younger kids starting to be a little frantic that they could only watch their kids from a slope – there’s no direct access to them once the kids are on the rope).

I was so proud of my firstborn that I teared.

During our visit to Marine Cove, we also took a stroll (17 minutes for a leisure stroll, 10 minutes if you skate scoot) to Parkland Green for lunch – it was the quietest we’ve seen since its opening – and went to the beach post-lunch for a much welcomed sand play.

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This photo got me realizing that it’s been a long time since I took a couple shot with the husband…

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And my favourite photo of the outing has got to be this family one taken by our super helper! Wished I had a camera to capture this in raw format though instead of relying on the iPhone, but I still love it nonetheless.

Despite the crowds and heat, would we still be back at Marine Cove in the near future? That’s for sure. I’m looking forward to having future play dates here and having some of that awesome-looking salad from their new salad bar, and desserts from the impressive range of cakes at McDonalds.

 

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Want to find out more about Marine Cove? Get comprehensive information and ogle at prettier, clearer, better overview of the playground without photobombers and unbiased photos from these highly-recommended blogs:

Cheekiemonkies

Wacky Duo 

The J Babies

The not-necessary-disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but one I had lots of fun writing about.

Family Fun: National Gallery Singapore is not as boring as it sounds

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We’re one of those families who don’t like to clutter our weekends with back-to-back enrichment classes for the kids because we reckon with our full-time working arrangement and having the kids at school during the weekdays, the weekends should be reserved for family fun!

So 2 weekends ago, when we found ourselves in an ironic situation of not knowing where to go or what to do – we basically had no plans –  I proposed checking out the National Gallery Singapore on a whim!

“The National…WHAT?”, the husband broke out of his monotone and exclaimed. No, he wasn’t excited, he thought it was a joke! And before I could clarify myself, he stressed “You’re suggesting taking the boys to some museum thing and you think it will be fun? Where is this place anyway?”

Ahh-hah! And there, you just witness my husband making an ass of himself by ASSUMING.

“It’ll be fun!!! It’s one of our clients, and I’ve been told that it’s interesting!” I promised, and off we went.

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But first, a photo outside these gorgeous steps of the Former Supreme Court! As you can tell, the boys weren’t interested in my priorities to give me that one proper shot. I’d have to content with this one…

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I’ve always marveled at the rich history & architecture of City Hall and Former Supreme Court Buildings, so you can imagine my excitement when I finally went behind its doors for the first time.

“Welcome to National Gallery Singapore”, a middle-aged lady greeted us with a warm smile.

“Is this your first time here?” she went on.

“Yes it is. I understand there’s a huge play area for kids.”, I enquired while the husband took quick glances around the building, still wearing his skeptical expression (that it wasn’t going to be suitable for the kids).

“You must be referring to the Keppel Centre for Art, just go straight this way, behind that door.”, she pointed

“I understand that it’s FREE admission right?”, I confirmed, with raised eyebrows. I mean, that was also partly why I didn’t mind coming by with the troop…

“Yes it is, you can register and get your admission tickets at the Keppel Centre for Art as well”, she replied, before sending us on our way.

Little did I expect so much thought to go into Art, Fun and Imaginative play for the little ones that it started from the corridor? We took barely 20 steps after saying bye to the middle-aged lady and there we were, greeted by a large scale, colourful puzzle board out of nowhere. The boys were so curious to find out what it did that they DID NOT even bother asking (us) if they could stop and play, and just headed straight for it.

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Meant to develop curiousity, imagination and tactile sensitibilities, the boys were intrigued by the colourful chips moving within the colourful maze. I absolutely mean it when I say, they could stay there to play with the puzzle board for a very long time. We were stuck at the Art Corrridor for a good 45 minutes before I finally decided to grab the littlest and go, because there was so much more that I wanted to explore before closing time!

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Not leaving the Art Corridor without a group shot of course!

Using the National Museum of Singapore’s standard as a benchmark when it comes to dressing up PLAY areas for the kids, so lo & behold, I did not expect to be blown away  by NGS with the visual explosion of colours at the Art Playscape.

Again, the boys paid no heed to my repeated instructions to “wait in line with mummy to get tickets!” and decided to run in and explore on their own!

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Filled with whimsical visuals of an Enchanted Tree House, Magical forests and the most adorable creatures, I felt like I was in storyland. I couldn’t resist kissing bears, trying to get my kids down for a make-believe picnic (to which I failed miserably because they just wanted to hang in the treehouse all day) and skipping around to feast my eyes to much delight. If only I could throw a birthday party in here, I definitely would!

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It was Fathers’ Day weekend when we visited, and so in one of the many interesting project rooms was an activity for the kids to make their very own Father’s Day card through ink transfer. I absolutely adored how the kids learnt how ink could be transferred on through their hands-on experience of making the card!

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And then it was off to lots of fun and colourful building using cardboxes, Magna Tiles and Magnets! We must have spent another hour here building all sorts of configurations with the boys. Ollie got so excited at one point <he must have had an Eureka moment> that he went about gathering empty baskets and stacking them before climbing in to play with ’em Magnets. Talk about immersive learning!

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I very much wanted to check out the various exhibits but some of them were too dark and quiet that Ollie started screaming to get out (I was also grateful to the staff for checking in on us to see if we needed anything instead of throwing us judgemental stares). So instead, we went to the highest floor and starting making our way down via steps and glass slopes – which excited the kids till no end – as I continued admiring the building’s architecture from various heights and angles. Win-win.

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And then I came across one of my favourite cafes, Plain Vanilla Bakery on the ground floor! Since there were a few of us, I had to take the opportunity to indulge the boys and mum in some desserts which was such a hit that all of us “fought” to quickly take more bites before it was gone!

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Definitely one of the better days spent together checking out something new together. We’ll definitely be back at National Gallery Singapore, me at least, to go for a few guided tours and exhibits that I didn’t get to complete during our first visit, and of course have more cake! 🙂