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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!

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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. 

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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.

image

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

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

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

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

Gutsy enough for the Skyline Luge, and once is never enough!

July 23, 2014

There are a lot of things in Sentosa that we’ve not yet explored and tried. I don’t know why but I have this mental obstruction in my own head about my kids not being old enough, tall enough, brave enough.

Universal Studios? The kids are not going to be tall enough for the rides, old enough to remember the experience and brave enough to go on roller coasters.

Interact with dolphins? No matter how much they tell me they love animals, I bet they would chicken out the moment we’re in the pool.

The Sentosa Luge? Are you kidding? I bet everyone’s gonna start wailing the moment we head upwards on the cable-chair ride and koala hug me when we whizz downhill with the go-cart-like tub.

For that reason which exists in their mother’s head, Sentosa is only known as the pirate-ship place’ (Port of Lost Wonder), the beach, and the ‘nice hotel with sand in pool’ (we did a staycation at Festive and checked out the Hard Rock pool). For that reason also, every time we walk past this, we only go, Waaaa! So scary!

Siloso Beach - Overview of buildings and walkway

Photo credit: Sentosa Skyline Luge

Leisure and Business Brochure

Photo credit: Sentosa Skyline Luge

But this all changed one particular day during the June holidays. I got an invitation from the folks at Sentosa inviting our family to experience the new façade and streamlined facilities over at the Skyline Luge. I was told that they’ve done their most extensive upgrade ever to further enhance the Skyline Luge experience – which comprises a 320-metre chairlift via the Skyride and a 3-wheeled gravity ride via the Luge.

As usual, I automatically went, Nah, my kids are not old enough, tall enough, brave enough. 

But I soon realised that they were indeed old enough and tall enough. Children need to be over 85cm tall and accompanied by an adult, otherwise 135 cm tall to ride alone for the Skyride; and riders need to be at least 110cm tall to ride on their own, otherwise they need to ride tandem with an adult. Which means of the three of my mental ‘not…enough’s, only ‘not brave enough’ has yet to be tested.

Well, for the record, that evening, the Kao Kids – all three of them – were brave enough for the Skyride and the Luge! In fact, true to its tagline ‘Once is Never Enough’, they couldn’t stop!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_3

The Skyline Luge is between Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Beach, and has just undergone a façade lift

Sentosa Skyline Luge_1

And so they’re ready to ride! Ben is looking small in an adult’s body – hurhurhur!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_2

My three BRAVE kids!

We went up the chairlift FIVE TIMES, and taking turns to tandem each one of them down the Luge FIVE TIMES. And even after the fifth, they were screaming, “Moar, moar, moar!” No one wailed, no one koala hugged me, no one said “I’m too scared. I’ll pass.”

These pictures will tell the rest of the story:

Sentosa Skyline Luge_4

These were taken on the Skyride

Sentosa Skyline Luge_5

The view from above

Sentosa Skyline Luge_6

Pictures courtesy of Skyline Luge’s camera

Sentosa Skyline Luge_8

As you can see, we’re ready to ride, even if it meant that the helmet was too huge for someone!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_7

We went ‘weee, weee, weee!’ down and it was fun, fun, fun!

Sentosa Skyline Luge_9

Thumbs up: we’re tall enough, old enough, brave enough, and once is NEVER enough!

More details:

With 9.24 million riders and counting, the Skyline Luge has embarked on its most extensive upgrade to further enhance its attraction offerings to both tourists and locals alike. Some of the facilities include an upgraded jungle track, more photo counters, handicap-friendly layout and more ticketing counters.

The Skyline Luge is between Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Beach. The nearest car park is the Beach Carpark.

Opening hours: 10 am to 9.30 pm daily

Ticketing charges are as follows: (tickets are only valid on the date of purchase)

1) Individual deals: 1 Luge & 1 Skyride SGD15/pax, 3 Luge & 3 Skyrides SGD23/pax, 5 Luge & 5 Skyrides SGD33/rax

2) Family deals: 4 rides Family Pass* SGD39, 8 rides SGD 59, 10 rides SGD69. Child-doubling at SGD3 per ride.

*A family pass is for 2 adults and maximum 3 children. The rides can also be shared among the members.

3) Skyride only: 1-way SGD10/pax, 2-way SGD15/pax, Unlimited SGD17/pax

***

Ok, I’ll take your questions now…

Scary or not?

The first time up the chairlift and the first time down the Luge was kind of. Strongly advise those with vertigo or motion sickness to stay clear of it. Otherwise, if it’s just a little fear of heights that’s holding you back, I’ll say, Don’t be afraid! It’s really an exhilarating feeling and a thrilling experience through and through.

Can you control how fast you go on the Luge? Can I go really slow?

The Luge has got a totally idiot-proof brake and steer system and is definitely something you can control. But I don’t think you want to go too slow down slope. *yawn*

How long, distance-wise, is the Luge trail?

You can choose to take the 688-metre Dragon trail or the 628-metre Jungle trail. How long, you ask? Not long enough, in my opinion!

The closing hour is 9.30pm! At night can see? Won’t langgar?

When we were there, we were done close to 8pm. It was dark. BUT the darkness and the flashing lights made for a totally new experience! Won’t langgar for sure – cos the trails are all well-lit! We were so delighted to have been able to witness the sunset while on the Skyride too that evening.

So brightly lit, you won't langgar!

RGB LED Lights: So brightly lit, you won’t langgar, confirmed!

Were your children safely tucked in the chairlift? It feels and looks so bare.

True that. There are no buckles and lots of pockets of spaces for a leg or hand to slip in. Make sure you bring a kid that will listen to instructions and follow them! The folks managing the queues at the Skyride will help you seat the younger ones while you get on (because the Skyride chairlifts actually don’t stop moving) and they will make sure you’re seated before a huge latch securely fastens everyone. Also, it’s a bad idea to wear slippers. My helper did and she was constantly fearing that they may drop. Good thing I made the kids wear shoes!

If you have to be securely fastened on the Skyride and then maneuver the Luge manually, how to take selfies or wefies?

Big phones may drop off if they can’t be tucked tight in pockets, so be warned. Mine almost fell a few times because I tried to be hero – I stretched my hand out to take pictures of the kids but also wanted to hold their hands at the same time. Best thing to do: sling a compact camera. If not, they have cameras installed everywhere with signs telling you to ‘Look Ahead and Smile’. You can always purchase them at the counters after you’re done with your rides.

How long is the Skyride? What if it stalls mid air?

It takes about 10 minutes to reach the top. But it’s also dependent on how crowded and how long you have to queue. If you want priority to skip queues, get their membership packages.

The Skyline Luge has won many awards, including the “Travellers’ Choice Award” by Trip Advisor in 2013. It has had zero accidents thus far and no incidents of stalling. Our chairlift did stop for a few seconds those five times we were up – and I guess that might have been to regulate the flow of chairlifts moving. We just took those few seconds as our opportunity to take in the scenic view!

Any problems with the kids riding tandem with you?

Absolutely none. They loved it. The only problem we had was that nobody wanted to double with the helper. We have 3 kids and they wanted to all go tandem with Mom or Dad instead!

Wow, sounds like fun! Any other tips?

Have a light snack before you go, cos’ if you buy, say 5 rides, it’s gonna take a while including the queuing and all. Evening is the best time to go cos’ it’s cool and you can admire the sunset view on the Skyride. AND… bring your own helmets if you have them! Those provided were soaked with perspiration, not to mention quite smelly! Plus, there was none fitting for a small head like Nat’s. If we had known, we would have brought our bike helmets. If you don’t have one, bring a shower cap so your hair stays dry and smelling nice!

***

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!

The kind folks at Sentosa are giving away 3 x Family Passes (for 4 rides)* to 3 readers of this blog!

*A family pass is for 2 adults and maximum 3 children. The pass up for grabs is for a family to go for four Skyrides and four Luge rides.* 

Simply log in with your email or FB using the Rafflecopter app to stand a chance to win in the random draw!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 29 July 2014 (12 am).

Disclosure: I didn’t get paid to write this post but we had complimentary tickets to experience the Skyline Luge. All opinions are mine and I will not be held responsible for suggestions and tips I’ve given in my Q&A. Suggestions, mine. Guts, yours.

All this blog's PR Stuff Food, glorious food! Happy days Motherkao loves... Reviews

So fine, yet so casual [Review of E’spuma Lab]

July 22, 2014

The husband and I are huge fans of Top Chef and Masterchef. We watch the programmes to get inspiration for our cooking, and eating, of course.

Because we catch the various seasons of these programmes quite regularly, food looking like this…

Wild duck and wild apples

Photo source

And chefs using this odd-looking cannister to pump out foam like this…

iSi Whipper

Photo source

…are not sights uncommon to us. Just that we’ve never had the opportunity to try food cooked this way, or have them plated like such and put on our tables.

Then our chance came one Saturday ago.

We were invited by E’spuma Lab, a new casual diner that aims to bring innovative culinary techniques like espuma and sous vide out of Michelin-star restaurants and into the casual dining scene in Singapore at wallet-friendly prices. I was informed that all the dishes for the tasting session would be foamed, espuma-style and that every item on the menu would be something that would fill me up and satisfy children and adults alike. I have seen chefs on TV making sauces and desserts using the steel-like cannister (which is called the espuma siphon, I later found out) and was genuinely curious how anything prepared by this technique would taste like.

Most of all, I wanted to see how cooking techniques so atas would finally be revealed and prepared to be tasted by commoners like me and my family.

For the uninitiated, espuma is Spanish for foam or froth, and is a culinary technique in which an espuma siphon is used to infuse air into the food, creating an airily light texture. This technique adds a very interesting dimension to natural ingredients, especially those that have been mashed, pureed or juiced.

Sous vide is a culinary technique in which food is cooked in a vacuum at a constant temperature, using a thermal circulator. This technique ensures perfectly cooked eggs and evenly cooked meat.

So this, ladies and gents, this was the food plated and prepared for us that evening. But atas no more, I tell you, because E’spuma Lab’s sole mission is to make haute cuisine totally accessible and affordable to people like you – and me.

Why I am not a food blogger: The first dish that came was this -Sautéed Mushrooms with Espuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) - and I started feeding hungry kids. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

Why I am not a food blogger: The first dish that came was this -Sautéed Mushrooms with Espuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) – and I started feeding hungry kids.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

And this was the 2nd - Curry Chicken with E'spuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) - and I started feeding myself. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

And this was the 2nd dish to arrive – Curry Chicken with E’spuma Potato Foam (SGD6.80) – and I started feeding myself.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

Then the Sous Vide Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Fried Salmon Skin (SGD3.80) came and the son, who loves eggs, devoured the whole thing. Photo credit: E'spuma Lab

Then the Sous Vide Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Fried Salmon Skin (SGD3.80) came and the son, who loves eggs, devoured the whole thing.
Photo credit: E’spuma Lab

Spaghetti with Swedish meatballs and E'spuma Caramelised Onion Sauce

Then more mains came, and at this point, I was yelling, ‘Stop! I need photos first!’ Spaghetti with Swedish meatballs and E’spuma Caramelised Onion Sauce (SGD6.80)

Spaghetti with Chicken Cutlet and E'spuma Bacon Sauce (SGD6.80)

Spaghetti with Chicken Cutlet and E’spuma Bacon Sauce (SGD6.80)

Fragrant Rice with Pan Seared Sous Vide Chicken Breast and E'spuma Pesto Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Pan Seared Sous Vide Chicken Breast and E’spuma Pesto Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Cajun Chicken Leg and E'spuma Curry Sauce

Fragrant Rice with Cajun Chicken Leg and E’spuma Curry Sauce

Oh, happiness!

I hear there’s also espuma-ed mushroom soup, espuma battered fish and chips and new items on the menu every time Chef gets inspiration! Happy times, people, these are happy times.

And believe me, that evening I was really happy. Really, really happy. I loved everything I tasted, and I am not saying this just because I got a free meal. I would gladly pay every cent (and maybe more) for whatever I ate (and they were really priced reasonably – just look at each portion and respective price!) I especially loved, loved, loved the curry chicken dish; it was so light and satisfying. There was absolutely no flavour overdose (also known as jelat, in localspeak) because the curry foam was so airily delightful. Every sauce that came espuma-ed was a hit with the kids, Fatherkao and me.

No cloying texture, no starchy heaviness. Only pure foam heaven.

And just so you know, for our desserts we had durian fritters – which were so not-oily that you could pop a whole bunch in your mouth and have a good loud durian burp at the end of it.

E'spuma Batter D24 Durian Fritters (SGD3.80)

E’spuma Batter D24 Durian Fritters (SGD3.80)

As we did.

You can pop these fritters in and not feel that they are oily or cloyingly sweet at all!

You can pop these fritters in and not feel that they are oily or cloyingly sweet at all!

Now I can finally tell myself that I’ve come close to what the judges were tasting in Top Chef and Masterchef. Take that, Padma Lakshmi. By the way, just so you know, Chef Teo Yeow Siang, the brain behind E’spuma’s innovative dishes, has 13 years of experience and has won many international awards; so technically he’s better than any Top Chef alum any time. I’m wishing that E’spuma Lab would expand their operations soon and be found in a mall near me. Good on the working crowd for now, since it’s the only one and only at Pomo Mall (formerly Paradiz Centre at Selegie Road) but if I’m there and need a meal, I wouldn’t even need to think once.

We checked out the humble kitchen with sophisticated equipment (the espuma siphons and sous vide cooker) and were touched that this is a place with heart. No trade secrets, no airs. Just good food at really low prices for all.

We checked out the humble kitchen with sophisticated equipment (the espuma siphons and sous vide cooker) and were touched that this is a place with heart. No trade secrets, no airs. Just good food at really low prices for all.

More details:

E’spuma Lab is at 1 Selegie Road, Pomo Mall, #01-20/21 Singapore 1883306.

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11am to 9pm

Contact number: 8222 1113 (Why need contact number huh, you ask. Because if you are near, you can cater! Durian fritters to go!)

… … … …

And just so you get to try what I did, I’m giving away my $10 voucher (yes, the one which the folks gave me in my press kit) to you so you can go check out E’spuma Lab! (FYI, their set meals cost only $8.80!)

If you want to win it, simply LIKE E’spuma’s Facebook Page and leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you might like to try!

Giveaway ends 30 July 2014. I’ll mail the voucher to the winner after the random draw!

Winner announcement: CONGRATS to Samantha! The list randomiser picked you and you’ll be eating at E’spuma Lab soon!

Espuma winner

Disclosure: My family and I were invited by E’spuma Lab for a food tasting session. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are my own, with input from the big and little tasters. 

UPDATE AS OF 22 OCT 2015: I was told that they’ve since ceased operations at POMO. Which makes me very sad. So very, very sad.

Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves...

For the love of Korean food (I): simple homecooked

July 18, 2014

I’ve been subjecting the family to a lot of Korean food these days and it’s all thanks to watching too much kshows, I tell you. I don’t know how many times I ran to the kitchen in the middle of the night to cook myself a pot of ramyeon while watching Boys Over Flower, how many times I craved for beef japchae watching City Hunter and how many times I wanted to reach for the phone and order me some chicken (and beer) while watching You From Another Star (chimek, remember?). And every time the folks over at Running Man had food games, I found myself wanting to eat tteokbokkikimchi and jjambbong.

Lately, I make the kids and the husband eat a lot of pork cooked in this particular sauce / marinade from Bibigo (that’s supposed to give a BBQ-à la-bulgogi flavour to the meat) :

I love both the Original and the one with pineapple

I love both the original and the one with pineapple

For the kids, I make it with the sauce without the heat. It’s a really easy one pot meal and I modify it to suit the children’s palate. I just fry sliced onions, shallots, and garlic with shabu shabu pork that’s marinated with the sauce, add some cornstarch and an egg to make a thicker gravy and pour everything on a bowl of hot rice.

The kids love this. For myself, I add the heat with the red pepper version and kimchi on the side, and we all have a hearty rice meal like that. When we do eventually get sick of pork, I figured I’ll be doing the same with chicken and beef.

Bibigo's 'Hot & Spicy' Korean BBQ Sauce

Bibigo’s ‘Hot & Spicy’ Korean BBQ Sauce

When in need of soup, the fastest thing I’ve done is to boil a pot of water with a huge tablespoon of bean paste and throw in some ready-made, frozen vegetarian Korean dumplings.

A hearty meal with just bulgogi pork with rice and soup

A hearty meal with just bulgogi pork with rice and soup

Now, that’s so much faster than what we usually do for Chinese cooking. Every time we want to have soup, we have to start boiling pork or chicken bones with red dates, huaishan, beiqi and goujizi by 3pm so we can get soup that tastes like soup (and not water) by 7.

It’s not a big hit with the kids as compared to my Chinese soup but hey, if they need some liquid to go with their rice, we can have it like that too.

I recently also made the popular ikan bilis Korean side dish which was a big hit and something everyone loved. I referred to The Domestic Goddess Wannabe‘s instructions here, but modified them by airfrying my ikan bilis in my Philips Airfryer first and threw everything in after heating up the sauce. I used roasted sesame also, instead of toasting sesame seeds in a dry pan as she suggested:

Two versions of myulchi - one with heat, the other with honey soy, plus a huge japchae side dish to eat for dinner (and for tomorrow's lunch!)

Two versions of myulchi – one with heat, the other with honey soy, plus a huge japchae side dish to eat for dinner (and for tomorrow’s lunch!)

I made two versions – one spicy and the other with honey soy. They were super addictive!

And for me, no dinner experience is complete without a bit of japchae. This is the dish I get to vary however I want, because I am usually the only one eating (and finishing) it. Here’s a step-by-step guide which I referred to to make my japchae, again adapted from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe.

I usually boil the sweet potato vermicelli instead of soaking it. I’ve added beef on one occasion, and pork on another with garlic, shallots, onions and whatever that I could find in the fridge – carrots, radish, cabbage, mushrooms. The tip is to fry the hardest veg to the softest, and the meat last, and then the noodles with the seasoning however you like it.

I’m hoping to share more about what I do at home making Korean food, because right now, I can’t get enough of it! Do you love Korean food too? Share your links with me or reveal where’s good to eat Korean and what’s good to have in Singapore!