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New year, old perm, and magic! [Review of Mosche Hair Salon]

January 7, 2016

This new year, I had my hair “refurbished” instead of getting a new look.

I’m not sure if you remember this exactly a year ago – but I got hooked up with two very experienced stylists who heard my plea for bounce and texture to my otherwise very limp, fine hair, who did this for me as part of my ‘De-Auntify Me’ Image Improvement Project at the end of 2014:

The BEFORE

The BEFORE

A soft perm at Mosche in December 2014

The AFTER, Part I: A soft perm at Mosche in December 2014

And then a final touch of brown

The AFTER, Part II: And then a final touch of brown

And the perm that I got done at Mosche exactly a year turned out to be the very FIRST perm that I’ve ever had that lasts. For one entire year.

I’ve had fine, straight hair all my life. And I’ve had countless perming done to it. They lasted from 2 weeks to 3 months at most, most of the time. None has ever proven my money’s worth (and time too).

Until this.

I think only Magic Scissorhands can give a defined cut like this and a perm that can last for a year

I think only Magic Scissorhands can give a defined cut like this and a perm that can last for a year

Which makes me love these folks at Mosche, namely my stylist Leslie and his assistant, Annie, and all the very experienced colourists, so very much. They are good folks who won’t fleece a cent out of you and would go all out to make sure that everything that’s done for you is worth your time, money and effort making your way there. They would suggest hair colour that matches your skin tone, take the time to learn about the image you need to portray at work, and recommend hair styles that suit your personality and habits. I’m used to going to stylists all around Singapore whose first question is always, ‘So what can I do for you today?’ but ever since stepping into Mosche I realised that they work a little differently around here. They actively take a keen interest in what really, really suits you.

With Leslie, before the cut and after the colour

With Leslie, before the cut and after the colour

At last, a perm that lasts!

At last, a perm that lasts!

So this was why I only had a hair colour (done twice in fact, because Leslie’s perfectionist streak wouldn’t even allow any uneven patches!) and hair treatment done.

Because the perm has retained its wave for a year and the hair is growing out very nicely with it. Because there’s no need to do another for the sake of it.

Same hair, same perm, different year!

Same hair, same perm, different year!

And this is how magic happened. I am starting the year in total awe of such professionalism and talent, and all ready to kickstart the year looking refurbishedly refreshed, all thanks to the good people at Mosche, who take their work and my crowning glory very, very seriously!

Happy New Year!

More details:

Mosche Hair Salon is at ROYAL PLAZA ON SCOTTS, Level 2, 25 Scotts Road, Singapore 228220.

Operating hours:
Monday to Friday – 10.30am to 8pm
Saturday – 10.30am to 7pm

Tel: 6734 0923 | 9628 8312

The person to ask for is Leslie Yap, the Artistic Director of Mosche Hair Salon, without whom this magic would never have happened.

***

Disclosure: This is not a paid review. All opinions here are my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Going Out! Learning fun! Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

Family Day Out at City Square Mall

December 27, 2015

If I could give out an award for the most family-friendly mall in the country, it has to be City Square Mall. I’m not just saying this because the kind folks from City Square Mall hosted us to a day out in November, but because every time I go to the mall (which is frequent enough), it’s like a one-stop for so many possibilities for every single one in the house. We’ve had lessons at Eye Level there since 2013, attended the ZooMoov launch party there, gone to Fun N Laughter for birthday parties, shopped at Babies ‘R’ Us for presents, ate at Food Republic, Astons, Swensen’s, Pasta Mania, Streats Hong Kong Cafe – all the food that the children liked, and chilled out for a cuppa at Delifrance and Starbucks when the kids were busy playing at a party or having lessons.

I really love this mall.

Like I was saying, the folks at the mall deepened my love for it even more when they hosted us for a family day-out last month and showed us even more things we could together as a family. It came at a time when I badly needed to spend quality time with my husband and children, and I am so grateful that I got to do that amidst the craziness at work.

First Stop: Art Jam for the Entire Family

I like the notion that we would be doing something so artistic (hurhurhur, like I am so in tune with my artsy self!) and yet so differentiated all at the same place. Which is what the entire hour (and a little more, I thought) was about at Global Art (04-23) to kickstart our Family Day Out. I had gotten my hands dirty and my nerves flustered once with acrylic painting – and then never tried it thereafter – so I was so glad that both the husband and I got the chance to learn the techniques step-by-step. What a difference a guided session makes. And how important it is to have a patient teacher, too.

Paying close attention to the teacher so we can model after her

Paying close attention to the teacher so we can model after her

Practising on paper first before starting on the canvas

Practising on paper first before starting on the canvas

Following the instructions on the task sheet and getting familiar with the palette knife

Following the instructions on the task sheet and getting familiar with the palette knife

And we started when we were ready!

And we started when we were ready!

Whilst the adults were busy learning the basics of acrylic painting, the Kao kids were equally engaged learning the techniques of colouring and shading with oil pastels, something I am grateful that they got to pick up. I am also impressed that teaching instructions and tasks were differentiated for Ben, Becks and Nat at our session at Global Art, and the kids were all engaged sufficiently.

It was crucial that the tasks were differentiated as each child was at a different skill level, and Global Art teachers made sure of that

It was crucial that the tasks were differentiated as each child was at a different skill level, and Global Art teachers made sure of that

All three of them of pressed on through the hour to complete their respective tasks.

Presenting the Kao Kids' masterpieces...

Presenting the Kao Kids’ masterpieces…

And so did Fatherkao and I!

And our completed flowers painted on canvas with acrylic paint!

And our completed flowers painted on canvas with acrylic paint!

Second stop: Flying on flavoured wings at Wingstop

When we were done with painting, our stomachs needed to be filled. Lunch was calling out to us in the form of wings. Chicken wings, that is. I thought the kids would be thrilled, but it turned out that I was more thrilled than them. This was like a dream come true, eating a buffet of flavourful, marinated wings and challenging my spice level at the same time. I thought Nene Chicken did it for me; but I’m happy to say Wingstop (B1-33) did more.

Did what?

Filled our tummies with American-style buffalo wings that contained too much goodness.

Warning: Drool-inducing pictures of food ahead First, the deliciousness of the salsa chips and fried mushrooms

Warning: Drool-inducing pictures of food ahead
First, the deliciousness of the salsa chips and fried mushrooms

And then they kept coming... This is Garlic Parmesan

And then they kept coming…
This is Garlic Parmesan

The Lemon Pepper and Louisiana Rub

The Lemon Pepper and Louisiana Rub

The Mango Hanebero

The Mango Hanebero

Teriyaki... And then my hands got too busy and too messy to be taking pictures

Teriyaki…
And then my hands got too busy and too messy to be taking pictures

Kids loved the Garlic Parmesan and Teriyaki, husband loved the Louisiana Rub and I loved the Mango Habanero best, although I also did challenge the Atomic.

Wingstop is all about “sauced and tossed, and made to order” chicken wings with 11 flavours to choose from – the first ten comes from the States: Original Hot, Cajun, Atomic, Mild, Teriyaki, Lemon Pepper, Hawaiian, Garlic Parmesan, Hickory Smoked BBQ and Louisiana Rub; and the 11th, the Oriental Soy Pepper is specifically made for the local market. It already is in 660 locations in the U.S; and this is its 2nd store in Singapore at City Square Mall. You have to absolutely try them to love them.

Nat loves the drumstick!

Nat loves the drumstick!

And this was me before I conquered the Atomic

And this was me before I conquered the Atomic

Third Stop: Becoming Baking Geniuses

All ready to bake

All ready to bake

When we were done with lunch, we proceeded to Genius R Us (07-07/08) for a time of mother-and-children bonding session. If you followed this blog since I first started, you would know I baked a fair bit with the kids and for the kids when I stayed home. Baking has always been therapeutic for me before the kids and when they were younger and could only assist in some tasks.

Unfortunately, I’ve become a little bit more OCD as the kids got older, and I’m quite sorry to say that I’m a pain in the neck when it comes to precision for measuring out ingredients, and becoming really, really fussy about mess.

So you can imagine me doing the happy dance inside when I learned that I would get to bake and not need to worry about cleaning up.

The Kao kids were really thrilled to be baking with Mama again, although I think the Mama three years ago (when we all started baking together) and the Mama now is very different; the former being more relaxed in the past and the latter now being a tad naggy. I had to constantly nag at the kids to listen to instruction, wait for me to help them with measurements and not break the eggs.

We're making ice cream cone pops today!

We’re making ice cream cone pops today!

My little bakers

My little bakers

My littlest baker

My littlest baker

And their ice cream cone pops

And their ice cream cone pops

Nonetheless, I think the kids did a terrific job despite their naggy mother. We had many cake pops to eat after that, and I had to nag them about hydration and pacing their chocolate intake. Well, the successful cake pops made everyone happy at least!

Last stop: Sweetness in Cocoa Heaven

Who was I kidding when I nagged about pacing chocolate intake with the cake pops? Our last stop was choco heaven and that was the most joyous part of the day for the kids. I think all nags from Mama was quickly thrown out of the window. Bring on the adrenaline, and the cocoa here at Cocoa Colony, is what they said.

And after the first few round of cocoa drinks, I succumbed too and asked for more.

Ordering our drinks...

Ordering our drinks…

From this list of Top 10 Faves at Cocoa Colony

From this list of Top 10 Faves at Cocoa Colony

And going 'wow' at all the desserts!

And going ‘wow’ at all the desserts!

We got to try the signature creations at Cocoa Colony (01-12) and learned about the history and origin of each cocoa gem in liquid form, solid form, gelato form and even powdered form. Cocoa Colony is a local company that believes in using quality cocoa in everything they make and sell, yet keeping prices affordable and accessible for everyone. That’s great news because the last time I went to another specialty cocoa place at the Esplanade some years ago, it dented my wallet a fair bit.

I’m hopeful now that we’ve all tried the deliciousness of the liquid gold that is cocoa in drinks, tasted it in gelato and savoured it in other forms like their Cocoa Bolas and chocolate bars at Cocoa Colony and can safely say that their avant garde cocoa isn’t any lesser in quality than the famous one we all know that’s moved to Vivo. I love the affordability at Cocoa Colony which gives me the option to try many more items on the menu.

We sampled the best cocoa in Cocoa Colony hot

We sampled the best cocoa in Cocoa Colony hot

...and cold

…and cold

I tried the pure cocoa in powder form

I tried the pure cocoa in powder form

And the kids couldn't stop savouring the gelato

And the kids couldn’t stop savouring the gelato

Oh well, cheers!

Oh well, cheers!

What a sweet, sweet end to the Family Day Out!

***

I couldn’t believe that I had spent ONE entire day doing so many things with the family, and that a mall with its family-friendly tenants provided this opportunity. All in all, it was a fruitful weekend well-spent with the family at City Square Mall, and I cannot say enough that it’s altogether impressive and convenient as a one-stop to do so many things!

Disclosure: We were invited to spend a day out with the family at City Square Mall and hosted by the kind people from the mall mentioned in this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are strictly our own.

***

LATEST EDIT: Cocoa Colony has since ceased operations at City Square Mall as of 2017. For a list of updated stores, visit their site here. The menu and drinks remain largely unchanged and are wonderful sweet treats to have to make your day, nonetheless.

All this blog's PR Stuff Motherkao loves...

De-Auntify Me: Browtisan Eyebrow Embroidery Touch-Up

April 5, 2015

Ever since I had eyebrow embroidery done, my life’s changed for the better. My eyebrows are now fuller and more well-defined, and my embroidered brows frame my face in a way that accentuates my eyes.

So how has life changed for the better? Well, for one, the perpetual issue of shaping my brows is no longer an issue. And for another, I am looking a wee bit better when I’m made up. It’s a little confidence boost I have here.

I’m not saying this just because the entire procedure from embroidery to the first and second touch-ups are sponsored – I’ve been invited to review the services at Browtisan, just so you know – but because if I looked like a wreck after this aesthetic procedure I put myself through, you bet I’ll be the first to shout it out loud to warn you.

But I don’t look like a wreck at all, and it’s about the only place I would recommend if you want to get any aesthetic procedure done. Here at Browtisan, where I recently had my first touch-up for my embroidered eyebrows, I had a good chat with its founder and Chief Creative Officer, Coco, and realised just how professional and how sincere she and her therapists are, and how much quality you can get out of their services here.

First, a little on the first touch-up. It’s a similar process to the first, which I wrote about here, except that it takes a shorter time because my embroidered brows looked really settled and nicely done, and all there’s left was to enhance the colour a little to make them look even more natural, and to fill in some tiny gaps that have faded off. I was a little late in responding to my first touch up appointment actually. Coco mentioned that I should have let her check my brows after a month, strictly speaking. But my schedule’s been mad since the year started, and I only got to her 3 months after my embroidery was first done in December.

Nonetheless, we got started.

This is the new (and 2nd) shop space of Browtisan

This is the extended new shop space of Browtisan on Level 3 at Delfi Orchard

Check out the new lux lounge chairs

Check out the new lux lounge chairs

Chilling on the lux couch while waiting for the numbing cream to take effect

Chilling on the lux couch while waiting for the numbing cream to take effect

And this was the glorious result.

Skilfully embroidered by experienced hands!

Skilfully embroidered by experienced hands!

Look at how much clearer the eyebrow shape is, and how it has framed the face

Look at how much clearer the eyebrow shape is, and how it has framed the face

And this was how they looked after the 5 days of no-water rule (brows must be taped with 3M Tegaderm to prevent water from touching them), which made me a very, very happy woman.

Natural lighting, natural colour, natural look

Natural lighting, natural colour, natural look: every stroke filled by Coco is now nicely settled and looking like they made sense on my face!

So I mentioned Coco and I had a chat because I started to ask her about her business, and she started sharing with me the many things that they do at Browtisan. Besides eyebrow embroidery and eyelash extensions, Browtisan also provides lip-liner and eyeliner embroidery service, as well as eyelash perming and even facial treatments. I got to see how I would look like should I have my eyelids embroidered too (and I really liked the look!). The eyeliner made my eyes bigger and deeper. I also got to see the products that Coco uses for facial (she uses MT from Japan!) and this awesome looking contraption that lifts the skin instantly. I know it’s instant because I got to try it on the spot.

This little thing is amazing: it lifts your skin in an instant!

This little thing is amazing: it lifts your skin in an instant!

I also hear that Coco gives free eyebrow embroidery services to cancer patients to boost their confidence, and that really earned my respect.

I like businesses that give back to society, and one that is helmed by genuine, passionate people. Browtisan is certainly one of them.

If you’re looking for a place to get luxurious facial treatments or aesthetic procedures like eyebrow embroidery done, I reckon you will get good service with heart at this place. Quote [Motherkao] or [Elizabeth from Motherkao blog] for a 10% discount off Creative Eyebrow Embroidery [starts from SGD 1380) at Browtisan. This offer is valid till June 2015.

Browtisan is the latest Clinical Standard Brow Salon located at Delfi Orchard (402 Orchard Road #03-17, Singapore 238876). It specialises in painless, non-invasive, highly-customised Creative Eyebrow Embroidery. Other services include eyebrow shaping and design, eyeliner definition, lips embroidery, eyelash enhancement, eyelash perming and facial treatments. Connect with them on their Facebook Page to get tips on brows, and PM their therapists should you wish to make an appointment. You can also call them at 6235 2355.

This is Coco. Look for her or her equally talented therapists for your aesthetic procedures and facials at Browtisan

This is Coco. Look for her or her equally talented therapists for your aesthetic procedures and facials at Browtisan

Disclosure: Motherkao received a sponsored Eyebrow Embroidery Session at Browtisan for the purpose of this review, thanks to an invitation of AT Marketing Consultancy. The opinions here are in no way representative of Browtisan, and are solely mine. 

You can read about my eyebrow embroidery experience and eyelash extension reviews here and here.

All this blog's PR Stuff Family life as we know it Happy days Milestones and growing up Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

Getting matched in matchy ways this CNY

January 20, 2015

My husband and I have NEVER worn anything matching. Ever.

Too corny. Too cheesy. Too gaudy. Too attention seeking. Is what we say to ourselves.

Until this year. Where we did this.

Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 1Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 2Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 6Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 5Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 4Midouceur Kao Family Shoot 3

Yes, go matchy matchy on ourselves, together with the kids. We decided we only live once, our children are only young once, and soon enough they are going to be declaring their own fashion manifesto which we probably have no control over. So we modelled for MidouCeur, just for the fun of it.

Ok, now you know what we’ll probably be turning up in at visitations during Chinese New Year.  If we catch your attention, remember to say hi!

Photo Source: Midouceur

Photo Source: Midouceur

You can see the entire collection we modelled for, here at MidouCeur’s website.

From now till 22 January 2015, enter the promo code CNY8off to get 8% discount off at MidouCeur for purchases above SGD100 net. If sizing and fit is always a big question mark for you, MidouCeur will be having a pop-up stall for 2 days on 24 & 25 January 2015 from 10am to 9pm at Chinatown Bazaar. Connect with them on their Facebook page  or IG account to get updated details of the location and other collections.

Disclosure: We received 2 family sets of 2 designs from MidouCeur for helping them out in this modelling shoot. For details of sizing, please contact MidouCeur direct. All opinions here are our own, and are not in any way representative of anyone else. We’ve changed our mind about wearing couple / family / matching clothes. You’ll see us turn up all matched this CNY, yes, you will!

Becks Kao Family life as we know it Happy days Motherkao loves...

This Thing About Essential Oils, Part 2: All about the Zyto Scan

November 29, 2014

I shared in an earlier post about how we’ve grown to love the therapeutic essential oils from Young Living.

I don’t earn any commission (I have no downlines, by the way) for sharing this but as a mom, I just want to shout it out loud on my blog that MY KIDS HAVE BEEN MEDICATION-FREE for the longest time, and it’s worth doing a thousand happy dances for!

And if they ever do start sniffling or coughing, with these unadulterated, pure goodness from plants, they recover very, very fast. What usually takes them five days at least with medication now takes them two to three days with regular oiling on their soles and lots of TLC massages on their backs and chest.

I recently met a mom blogger friend, who also loves her essential oils. So much that she bought a Zyto Scan.

Say what?

Apparently, this healthcare device in something that healthcare professionals use all over the world. It’s a simple and painless process of putting your hand on the hand cradle and have subtle energetic impulses go into your body. The software records the responses and in as fast as 3 minutes churn out a biosurvey which records the change in the electrical properties of your skin.

And the Zyto Scan that Mom Blogger Serene from Xavvylicious brought to show me, was linked to the Young Living Essential Oils software (Zyto Compass), whereby the scan would address 76 biomarkers (a biomarker is a naturally occurring molecule, gene, or characteristic by which a particular pathological or physiological process, disease, etc. can be identified) in the body through the hand and tell you how many biomarkers are out of range and what are the oils that can benefit your body to adjust the biomarkers back accordingly.

Besides the whole process being so cool and state-of-the-art, the best thing about the scan is that it takes the guesswork out of supplements and essential oils.

Zyto_1

Zyto_2

Zyto_3

In other words, you don’t anyhow anyhow buy essential oils. There are things you know you can fix with the choices of essential oils we have just by using this scan.

So I made everyone – big and small – in the family go through it. And yep, the adults have tense muscles, no doubt about it.

Zyto_4

Zyto_5

And I’m sure you can tell my husband’s default way to soothe those tense muscles is always through a glass of wine.

What was surprisingly spot-on accurate was the bio-survey for Becks. She had the most out of range markers in the family, and her greatest need could be fixed by this essential oil blend called Gentle Baby.  It’s been formulated with rosewood, geranium, palmarosa, lavender, Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, lemon, jasmine, bergamot and rose to calm emotions. Becks out of range markers all pointed to how unsettled and unrested she was. And it was so, so true. She had been stirring and waking from bad dreams almost every night, and I was reminded that I needed to apply some essential oils behind her earlobes and give her some tender strokes on her hair and scalp to help her relax before bed. Gentle Baby is out of stock in Singapore, so I am now diligently using Peace & Calming, lavender and Citrus Fresh.

Zyto_7

Zyto_6

And thank God for the Zyto Compass that reminded me this little baby needs a lot more TLC.

We’re still oiling, oiling away, but this time round, we’re getting oily more accurately, thanks to the Zyto Compass!

~~~

If you’d like Serene from Xavvylicious to bring the Zyto Scan to you, you can contact her at 9652 9653 or serene_seah@hotmail.com. For a token sum of SGD10 per scan (valid till 31 Dec 2014), she would get the scan performed at the place of your convenience and let you have the full bio-report for your reference.

Read about Part 1 here.

Disclosure: I believe good things must share, so here it is! Motherkao received no monetary compensation for writing this post and neither is she getting any commission for writing about Young Living Essential Oils. Her family is very happy to be oily, and she hopes yours would be too!

All this blog's PR Stuff Motherkao loves... Reviews

A cut (and colour) to stay cool – Review of SOHO by X’pect

September 15, 2014

Is it me, or is it the time of the year where the heat and humidity is getting way too unbearable?

I don’t know about your household, but we’re chalking up quite a hefty utility bill every month switching on the air-conditioning every night. And using up a whole lot of water showering at least three times a day.

So I thought I’d do my bit to cut down on the water bills by getting my locks chopped.

Long hair = more water. Short hair = less water. Right?

I was recently invited to review the hair services and treatment offered by X’pect Group.  X’pect Group is a leading group of hair salons with 16 years of experience in the industry, and 5 outlets in Singapore, with its 6th salon opening in a few months. I’ve been told they’ve won over 70 local and international awards combined, and styles MediaCorp artistes, and most recently, the Radio DJs at the Radio Awards.

Awards and accolades aside, let’s get me some haircut, I say. It’s way too hot to keep hair long in this mad weather. So I made arrangements to be away from the children one afternoon, and headed down to Square 2 for a makeover at X’pect Group’s SOHO. Mama needs a haircut, I told the Kao kids, much to Becks’ dismay. She wanted me to be in the Frozen hair braiding craze with her but I told her I was more fried than frozen in this heat.

I arrived, sat down and told Damien, my very experienced stylist that (a) the weather’s too hot, (b) I’m dropping way too much hair, (c) I’d love a look that doesn’t make my hair too flat (I have got very, very fine hair), and (d) he could do whatever he wanted.

So these were his recommendations: (a) if it’s too hot, I should get a hair cut, (b) the reason why my hair is falling off is because my scalp is too oily and I should stop using moisturising shampoo, (c) in order not to have too flat a look, I shouldn’t have my hair cut too short, and (d) if he could do whatever he wanted, he’d give me a highlight of ash green with an ash brown base to brighten my face.

Yes, to all, I say.

And so I got a cut…

Goodbye long hair, it's too hot to keep you

Goodbye long hair, it’s too hot to keep you

It's being chopped...

It’s being chopped…

...OFF!

…OFF!

Not too short though, which I am happy with

Not too short though, which I am happy with

This is just fine!

This is just fine!

A colour…

Colour_1

All the previous colouring has faded, and so now, for a new coat!

And because I complained that my scalp felt a little too itchy from the colouring, I got treated to a really wonderful pampering session – a scalp massage!

No pictures here, cos I had wanted to enjoy the massage and catch my 40 winks.

And the end product was…

Chic and cool, methinks

Chic and cool, methinks

WALA!

Side profile

Side profile

Back profile 2

Back profile

I felt light, refreshed, and cool, and walked out of SOHO with a spring in my step.

The proof of a good haircut, to me, is not the new look you have on the day itself. It’s the day after. If you woke up and saw yourself in the mirror the next day after your haircut and still like it, you’ve got a stylist for keeps.

The day after

Me and the new hair cut, the morning after

There, I am one happy person.

Thank you, SOHO by X’pect for making this happen. Now I feel cool, in every sense of the word!

With Evon who gave me the best scalp massage ever, and Damien, who envisoned and executed this style specially for me

With Evon who gave me the best scalp massage ever, and Damien, who envisoned and executed this style specially for me

I’m still able to join my little girl in her Frozen craze, alright, with this short hair. I’m singing ‘Let It Go’ with a new perspective. I’m glad I had my hair cut and am totally loving this length. Anything to stay cool this hot and humid season!

More details:

You can get a haircut at X’pect Group salons (the one I went to was SOHO at Square 2 at Novena) starting from SGD40 and highlights starting from SGD75. More information on their rates here. X’pect Group’s studios and salons are located at Orchard International Building, Sunset Way, Liang Court, Square 2 and East Coast. There’s going to be one for Westenders at Hillview opening soon too!

For more details on X’pect Group, connect with them on Facebook or check out their website here.

Disclosure: I was invited to review the service at X’pect Group and given a cut, colour and scalp treatment. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions here are my own. 

All this blog's PR Stuff Ben Kao Going Out! Motherkao loves... Nat Kao Reviews The Kao Kids

Turtle mania descends at City Square Mall!

September 7, 2014

I’ll be the first to admit I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan when I was nine. I carried a TMNT school bag to school and I loved Leonardo most. He was the leader of the turtle pack, and so, very cool. I watched the TV series and was totally familiar with how they became mutant ninjas. You could quiz me about their sensei Splinter, ask me who’s April, Casey Jones, Shredder and Karai, and I could tell you all and more, while other girls were into Polly Pocket, My Little Pony and Care Bears. I grew up watching He-Man, TMNT and Hulk Hogan.

I must have been an odd girl, I know.

Fast forward 24 years. The turtles are back in my kids’ lives.

Sometime, somewhere, somehow, they catch snippets of the animated series on Nickelodeon, see posters of them in malls and find related merchandise at Toys R Us. I tell them sometimes about Leo, Raph, Mikey and Donnie, and their adventures with the baddie Shredder from memory but because childhood memories are a hazy thing, I decided it’s better to bring them to meet ’em.

We were invited to catch Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello in action at City Square Mall’s Live Show yesterday as part of their ‘Total Turtle Takeover’ this September holidays. And boy, boy, boy, was it totally exciting.

See my boys? They came prepared.

Raphael and Leonardo Wannabes

Raphael and Leonardo Wannabes

They watched in awe…

Heroes in a half-shell!

Heroes in a half-shell!

TMNT_2

Someone was watching intently

And learnt a couple of ninja moves from the turtles.

Each dude showed us some good action moves with their weapons – the katana, the nunchakus, the sai, and the bo staff – and got the children to train as junior ninjas by imitating their actions.

Learning to use the nunchakus

Learning to use the nunchakus

And now, some sword moves from Ninja Nat

And now, some sword moves from Ninja Nat

Cowabunga.

The only thing missing was a good pizza pig-out after all the action, which I would have loved to watch.

This was one of the better live shows we’ve caught, because the boys were so, so stoked. The turtles were funny, as usual, the action moves were great, and Ben and Nat got some exercising done.

And then went on stage to meet their heroes some more.

When we got up, Mikey said out loud on stage, “Hey, Leo and Raph. You’ve each got a fan comin’!”

We are all such big fans (ok, maybe except the little girl)!

We are all such big fans (ok, maybe except for the little girl)!

Totally awesome.

More details:

Catch the turtles live in action daily from 6 to 14 September at City Square Mall’s Level 1 Atrium, Mon – Fri at 2pm & 7pm; Sat & Sun at 1pm, 4pm & 7pm.

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Shake hands and get a photo with the ninja dudes at the Meet & Greet session after the show by redeeming an exclusive Meet & Greet pass with a minimum spending of $50 (with a maximum of 3 same-day combined receipts). 50 passes will be given out 1 hour prior to each  show, strictly on a first-come first-served basis.

There’s also a host of TMNT activities at the mall this September, which includes some colouring fun and Turtle TV Nights! Check out details here.

Disclosure: We were invited to the Live Show and given a media pass for the Meet and Greet. The boys were also given a goodie bag packed with Turtle Power. No monetary compensation was received for this post, and all opinions here are mine.

TMNT_7

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Stealthy, steady success for a 40th birthday bash – Part 2

August 20, 2014

So the husband turned 40 earlier this August, and was given total VIP treatment by me, the kids and the good people at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

And because Changi Airport, particularly Terminal 3, is our family’s favouritest place in this country, it was especially special for us to be celebrating Fatherkao’s birthday there, staycating at one of the ‘World’s Top Ten Airport Hotels’.

From my stealth liaising a month before the birthday surprise to the day we checked out, my family was warmly hosted at Crowne Plaza. The Marketing Manager was fully attentive to the needs of our family of five as she arranged for us to check into the 36-square-metres Deluxe Twin Club Room with an extra rollaway bed so we could all sleep comfortably. And when she learned that the entire staycation would be a surprise birthday celebration for Fatherkao, she gamely offered to place a cake in the room so I didn’t have to run around the airport with kids in tow to hunt for one prior to checking in.

Crowne Plaza Deluxe Twin Room: Two little people are getting comfortable!

The Crowne Plaza Deluxe Twin Room: two little people are getting comfortable!

Checking out the room, and lazing on the rollaway bed

Checking out the room, and lazing on the rollaway bed

The glass panelled bathroom! And so we thought we'd be in full view of everyone when we shower, until we found blinds!

The glass panelled bathroom! And so we thought we’d be in full view of everyone when we shower, until we found the blinds!

I did nothing but turn up, check in, blow the balloons and light the candles with the kids to create some party atmosphere for the birthday boy.

This was special delivery, arranged by the Marketing Manager, who thought it'd be nice to have a cake at check in

This was special delivery, arranged by the Marketing Manager, who thought it’d be nice to have a cake at check in. The Lobby Lounge has one of the best cake selections, in my opinion. Because this cake was absolute heaven.

We were also given exclusive Club Lounge Access, and there, the kids got juice, the adults had coffee, and we all spent a lovely afternoon together after the cake-cutting, watching Fatherkao teach Ben how to play a game a chess.

Ready to lounge!

Ready to lounge!

First, some chess. Then, some juice!

First, some chess. Then, some juice!

The Club Lounge at Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport was such a respite. At the lounge, we could look out and see the bustling city traffic on one side and a calming rainforest pool view on the other. The best part of it was, we had the place largely to ourselves.

City view from the Club window

City view from the Club window

Pool view from the Club window

Pool view from the Club window

We checked out the pool after we were done with our lounging, and I must say, I haven’t seen so much open space for a while in concrete jungle Singapore.

A pool with a view

A pool with a view when you look out and up

I’ve never swam in a pool like this, amidst lush greenery and wooden sun decks. It was like being in an island resort while in a city. I loved the space I could look out to, and the planes I could look up at. The kids enjoyed exploring the pool in their floats, although the water was extremely cold and being in it made our teeth chatter so much we had to head to the bathtub in the room immediately after for a warm soak.

I think the kids had the most fun being in the bathtub in full view of us looking in from the room on our beds. Give these kids warm water any time. They haven’t learned to swim yet so they’d much prefer the safety of the tub.

Before dinner we headed to the Club Lounge again, which was on the same floor as our room and the pool – and oh how so convenient to just pop by whenever we wanted – to enjoy evening cocktails, mocktails and canapés. I loved that at 5.30pm when we were there, there was absolutely no one (the hotel folks say the tourists usually head out to town and weekends are quieter than weekdays). We had the entire lounge to ourselves, and were given such royal treatment, getting served drinks of our choice, snacks and then getting our photos taken.

Oh the spread of canapes! This was like dinner for me!

Oh the spread of canapés! This was like dinner for us already!

We sneaked out while the littlest was napping to have some snacks and drinks

We sneaked out while the littlest was napping to have some snacks and drinks

I had a mocktail, he had a Singapore Sling!

I had a mocktail, he had a Singapore Sling!

Can you tell? The birthday boy was one happy camper, and was savouring every minute of his 40th birthday.

Later in the evening, we were hosted by Azur, the award-winning restaurant at Level 2 in Crowne Plaza for Fatherkao’s birthday dinner, and had some of his closest buds join us for more celebration over food, wine and laughs. At the restaurant, we talked and laughed over a good buffet spread of Eastern and Western cuisines – something which we haven’t done so with our friends for a while.

And what an even more pleasant surprise to find that there was yet another surprise for the birthday boy with yet another birthday song and cake.

Everyone's really making sure the birthday boy realises he is 40!

Everyone’s really making sure somebody realises he is 40!

Fatherkao was more than happy to be eating cake again. Not before he tried to clean off the zero in the ‘40‘ which was piped on his plate.

So he cleaned off the zero, and wished he was 4 instead

So he cleaned off the zero, and wished he was 4 instead

Still in denial, this man.

After dinner, the men continued with more wine and talk, while their wives and kids lazed in the cosy hotel room. Nothing would have pleased my husband more than this: to be able to enjoy good wine with his buddies whom he has known for decades and to cheers to more good years ahead.

The best things in life: food, friends and family

The best things in life: food, friends and family

Someone once said, “Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar but the best improve with age.” I certainly married someone that’s turning into fine wine at 40.

You’re not old, dear. You’re just mature. 

——-

Thank you, everyone that came to make Fatherkao’s day, and Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport, for your hospitality and impeccable service. You’ve made this birthday really special and have set the standard for all the other staycations to come, because Fatherkao says it’s the best one he’s had so far. We’ve done A LOT of staycations since 2004, and if he says so, you’re truly something!

——–

Disclosure: Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi Airport sponsored our 2D1N staycation-and-birthday-celebration for Fatherkao, and hosted us at Azur for dinner. We had exclusive access to the Crowne Plaza Club, and had our breakfast there the next day as well. I did not receive any monetary compensation, and this post was a result of the wonderful experience we’ve had celebrating a milestone and being pampered silly. This may be the most unlikely place to consider having a staycation, but I tell you – the SPACE you get! Being away from the crowd and having such exclusivity is totally worth it, if you’re someone like me who is tired of too many malls, too many people and  too much noise.

This was our breakfast at the Club Lounge - we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful Sunday morning

This was our breakfast at the Club Lounge – we had the place all to ourselves on a beautiful Sunday morning

Entrance to Crowne Plaza

The entrance to Crowne Plaza

More details:

Crowne Plaza is connected to Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 via a seamless, air-conditioned link bridge that gives you easy access to the shops and F&B outlets that operate round-the-clock.

A 2D1N stay in a deluxe room on a weekend starts from SGD263 and includes breakfast. The deluxe rooms feature an ergonomic workspace, comfortable beds, ensuite bathroom with separate rainshower and bathtub, and free WiFi connection.

Overnight parking is available at the airport for SGD20.

All this blog's PR Stuff Fatherkao loves... Going Out! Happy days Motherkao loves... Reviews The Kao Kids

Stealthy, steady success for a 40th birthday bash – Part 1

August 19, 2014

Fatherkao at the Club Lounge

I’ve known this man for 14 years, and ever since he became my husband 10 years ago, I have never kept a secret from him.

Not until I had to plan a birthday surprise for him this year.

Fatherkao was getting all pensive and in a totally reflective state about turning 40 (and the worst hit came when he received the letter for Eldershield, hurhurhur), and I’d thought that a birthday party was in order to turn turning 40 into an occasion to celebrate.

I started a secret whatsapp chat with all his buddies (who incidentally have also turned 40 a few years ago) and amidst jokes that they would all be getting him Salonpas Pain Relief Patches for his birthday present, they all agreed to come and spend the day with him because there was nothing he would appreciate more than good company and wine. I changed the passcode to my phone and operated completely by stealth to liaise with the wonderful folks at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport who were so extremely kind and generous to host us for a staycation and dinner. I packed everything for the stay, including his, only on that morning of the staycation day itself (while Fatherkao was out) and told him that I’ll be whisking him away for a holiday – and so he had to meet me and the kids at the airport.

Our plan that day was to check into the hotel room before meeting him, prep the room with balloons, and take him there to surprise him with cake.

I knew he knew the impossibility of me taking him away for a holiday by plane even though his birthday fell on a Saturday, and I was sure he even suspected that we were heading for a staycation, but I was glad he played along any way when I asked him to meet me at T3. He loves the airport, and since Terminal 3 has always been our favourite place to hang out as a family he had nary a grumble when I told him we’ve missed the plane and lunch at Pasta Mania would be his birthday treat instead.

And then when lunch was over, I told him we would be heading to the hotel lounge at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport for desserts (the first time I lied so blatantly in front of the kids who have already checked in with me way before lunch, blew up balloons and prepped the place). The kids and I were doing our best to keep the secret of a staycation in, although the excitement was already building up to such a level we could hardly contain it! Fatherkao kept asking the kids what was going to happen, and they were so game to play along by telling him it’s all a secret.

Until I gave the secret away. Unknowingly.

We walked past Bata at B2 on our way to Crowne Plaza and Becks asked when I was getting her the pair of princess shoes she’s been wanting to buy, and I said, “Tomorrow, k? Let’s buy it tomorrow.”

Fatherkao turned to me, and asked with a grin, “So… staycation, right? Cos’ tomorrow we’re coming back here to buy shoes.”

BUSTED.

Still, with the secret out, we managed to give him a really pleasant surprise by bringing him to the hotel room, getting him to walk in with his eyes closed, and having the loveliest raspberry and chocolate mousse cake ever together – oh, the decadence!

Despite my slip, it was still a big surprise for the big boy who blew out four big candles on his big four-o.

Surprise

Blowing out the candles

Cutting the cake

Decadent raspberry chocolate mousse cake

Fatherkao and the Kao kids

The secret’s out, you’re 40, happy birthday, my love!

———

More about our awesome birthday celebration and staycation at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Part 2 here, and why this staycation has set the standard for all the others to come.

Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves... Nat Kao

For the love of Korean food (II): jjajangmyeon

August 2, 2014

The other day I had to make jjajangmyeon.

Because?

Because this:

KWB_1

KWB_2

Gah, why so cool, Woo Bin-sshi. You had me at jjajangmyeon

I referred to the recipe from Maangchi and adapted it to suit the tastebuds of the kids. I bought the blackbean paste from the Cold Storage at Compass Point and a pack of buckwheat noodles conveniently placed next to the blackbean paste on the shelves.

Chunjang

Instead of pork belly, I used 假腰肉 (literally translated: fake waist meat), a part of the pig which the kids like to eat, and which is also cheaper than the loin fillet. Or sometimes just strips of shabu shabu pork. And instead of the zucchini, daikon and potatoes, I used carrots and some bunashimeji mushrooms, and of course lots of onions.

When they are all diced, here goes:

1. Stir fry pork with vegetable oil (I use Knife’s Shallot Oil) until golden brown, remove pork from pan and pour away excess oil

2. Stir fry vegetables beginning with hardest to the softest: so carrots, onions, mushrooms

3. Clear a space in the centre of the wok by pushing ingredients to the edges

4. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the centre of the wok and then the blackbean paste (I added whole pack the first time, and 3/4 the second when I made jjajangbap). Stir with wooden spoon for 1 minute. Mix everything in the wok and keep stirring.

5. Add 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoon of brown sugar (I found the paste really salty!) and simmer for 10 min

Jjajang in a wok

6. Open the lid, stir for a well mixed thick consistency and add a little sesame oil (I totally skipped the starch)

7. Serve with noodles or rice

Jjajangmyeon

Jjajangbap

My kids don’t like cucumbers, so I topped my dish with sesame seeds instead.

Gah, why so cute Nat Kao-sshi, you make me want to cook this everyday just to admire the moustache.

Jjajangmyeon moustache

 Read also For the Love of Korean Food (I): Simple Homecooked here