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Getting good light wherever – Review of 3M’s LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light

March 11, 2017

Do you have this problem? You get the kids a study table and then they draw and do their work everywhere else EXCEPT at their study table.

And then you go on and custom make a pretty study area with some personalisation here and there for each kid and they continue do their everything – drawing, reading, writing – everywhere EXCEPT there.

And the study area you’ve painstakingly designed and built, with all the good lighting and proper seating, becomes just another place to dump all kinds of things.

True story.

I’ve given up on asking my kids to sit at their desks to do their work. Over the years it has been just too daunting to nag them to go there – sit down – do work. 

So I stopped, and I invited them to consider different parts of the home to do their work or to read a book. It could be at the dining table, on the floor, on the beanbag and even on the master bed, which they love to hang out at.

But I always had one serious problem: lighting.

Whenever they are everywhere, it always feels like they are casting shadows over what they are looking at.

I need a solution and I am so glad to have found it.

Enter 3M’s latest colour-change polarizing lamp, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light.

LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light - Copy

It’s everything I need for my kids to make everywhere a work and reading space – it’s cord is long enough to bring from where it’s plugged to where they are and it’s fully adjustable and rotational.

Best of all, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is adaptable enough to function in any space at any time of the day (not just at a desk, but when the kid is on the floor, seated on the sofa, wherever!) and allows you to customize the light colour via a touch control. Offering 5 colour selections – cool white to warm white – users can adjust the colour of the lamp according to the time of day, or their mood levels.

Which means you can switch the colour of the lamp to a ‘Cool White’ in the mornings for increased alertness and change it to a ‘Warm White’ when winding down for the day.

In addition, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also an extremely versatile lighting solution. Using the same touch control, you can perform a myriad of tasks under sufficient light intensity.

More intense or detailed activities such as studying or knitting often require higher lux levels, while activities like watching the television require lower light levels. The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light has 5 levels to choose from, with the highest providing focused illumination at 1000 lux and the lowest providing a softer glow of 200 lux.

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained - all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Guide to the the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light explained – all it takes is experimenting with two touch control buttons and one ON/OFF button to find your comfort level

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on - bright and comfortable enough!

Ben reading with warm white at 400 lux in the evening, with no room lights on – bright and comfortable enough!

To top off it’s versatility, the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light is also fitted with 3M’s Polarizing Filter Technology, which consists of a 3M proprietary optical film to reduce glare by up to 80%. Such rays occur when harmful light bounces off surfaces and creates reflective light (glare), a by-product when light bounces off a glossy surface material which actually is a main cause of strain on the eyes. While most other lamps allow normal light rays comprising both comfortable and harmful light to enter, the 3M polarizing optical film – which is what 3M is really great for! – only filters comfortable light through; at the same time, it converts the harmful rays into optimal lighting which means that only optimal light reaches the eyes.

Which is great for the kids as there is minimal immediate eye strain for them and they can work more productively and safely when the light is used, improving their psychological health as well.

Becks doing her homework at night - it's great that the light cuts out the glare and there's no shadow cast on her paper

Becks doing her homework at night – it’s great that the light cuts out the glare and there’s no shadow cast on her paper

LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light_04 - Copy

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light eliminates multiple shadow with its 3M Air-Guide Technology as well

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids' ears at night too!

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light also gives free angle control. I use it to clean the kids’ ears at night too!

By providing effective illumination, constant task work is made more comfortable and better in the long run for protecting their eyes.

It’s amazing that 3M constantly upgrades its products to allow users to achieve optimal experience, and taps on its patented technology to enhance the well-being of its users. We’re certainly beneficiaries of good technology, and it’s great that as a mom, I’ve finally found the lighting solution for my kids who love to do their constant work and reading everywhere except their study table.

It’s now ‘Go there – sit down – do work – WITH the Polarizing Light, kids!’ and when that instruction is followed, it really doesn’t matter if they are found at the study table or not.

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~~~

More details: 

The LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light retails at SGD289 (w GST), and is available in two colors – Pure White and Solid Black, at all Popular bookstores and selected Best Denki and Challenger outlets.

A good investment that goes a long way, in my opinion!

Disclosure: The Kao Kids received the LED P1610 Polarizing Task Light from 3M for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are our own. If you’re hard and fast about kids sitting right at a table, this light has a diameter of 16 cm and uses only 7.5W. Make space for it, and it will be a worthwhile investment! 

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Zap the fats and the double chin with LPG at Aura & Miracles [Review]

December 10, 2016

After three kids, I am resigned to the fact that I have to live with orange peels on my thighs and a flabby tummy that makes me look like I am four months preggers perpetually.

Well, in fact, after three kids, I now have issues I never used to have, which has everything to do with elasticity down south but that’s for another post on another occasion altogether. Suffice to say, I’ve paid many visits to my piles doctor this year.

For the record, I don’t hate my body – pushing three kids out is what I am proud to have done – but I do wish it could look better on some days and not having to feel like a truck’s ran over it and back.

So when my friend, Mummy Ed, shared with me how lipomassage worked for her when we met for coffee some time ago, I couldn’t wait to try it.

I’ll take anything non-invasive anytime, so this is perfect.

So to Aura & Miracles I went, hoping to find a miracle for the orange peeled skin and stubborn fats to melt into nothingness and disappear. I know nothing can replace diet and exercise but I really wouldn’t mind indulging in a quick fix or two once in a while. Some stubborn fats melting away is better than none.

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Aura & Miracles – how apt the name: look for Sherry or Pearl and they will show you some magic with the LPG

And there I was introduced to the LPG technology, via this ginormous machine that could so many wonderful things. Here are 3:

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This looks like a giant rabbit to me!

1. Induce lipolysis – so it does melt the fats like butter somewhat! The roller technology targets the areas for fat burning and breaks the fats and other lipids by hydrolysis.

2.  Give you 10 hours equivalent of physical exercise – 30 minutes of lying there is equivalent to 10 hours of hard core cross training, minus the cardio bit, of course, but that’s the effect.

3. Improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, and smooth cellulite

Well, apparently LPG is the world leader in patented innovation when it comes to the treatment of connective tissues for therapeutic, beauty and medical applications. This treatment is also quite commonly used for sports therapy.

While I was assured I was in safe hands due to the brilliance and track record of this technology, I couldn’t wait to see what effect it has on me. The thought of #1, #2 and #3 happening sounds awesome already.

Melt, fat, melt!

So I got into a body suit, laid flat for about 35 minutes and had the LIPOMASSAGE BY ENDERMOLOGIE® pinch, suck and roll my fats around. Some parts were awfully painful (I was told by Pearl, my therapist, that the fats must have been too stubborn there) and some parts gave me the good kind of pain, like what a good deep tissue massage does. As it was my first, I was told that it would get better with every subsequent session and that would be a sign that the fat cells are getting smaller.

Yep, something like that (sorry no picture of me in a body suit that you can see) except I was flat out trying to catch some sleep

Yep, something like that (sorry no picture of me in a body suit that you can see) except I was flat out trying to catch some sleep.

Watch this video for the scientific bits of how the fats actually get broken down with this ‘giant bunny’: https://youtu.be/e7dsppIa4FQ

I was also told that I won’t drop dress sizes immediately or walk out looking like 36-24-36, so there, I had my expectations adjusted right away.

This is the area on my thigh I have the most orange peels. Nope, not going to show how they look but suffice to say, some lines out of many many lines were smoothened. So I assume they are gone?

This is the area on my thigh I have the most orange peels. I’m embarrassed to put out my peels on my very public blog but suffice to say, some lines out of many many lines were smoothened after one session.

But what I could really expect out of even a first treatment was to immediately see the water retention in my body gone, feel some smoothening on the cellulite-inflicted areas of my body and have a really good night’s rest after the treatment. Like a deep tissue massage, the lipomassage uses the technology to mechanically stimulate each cell for rejuvenation.

I don’t have awesome before and after photos to show for (sorry, not a pro beauty blogger here, and also too tired after work and massage to pose like I’m a 36-24-36), but this is what I have:

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Clearly the top is “before” and the bottom is “after” and you can see much of the flabbiness on my left side being pinched away just after one session.

And what I did have was a really good sleep that night (and the other night I did my 2nd treatment) and many days of feeling lighter and less flabbier. The arm is more toned, that’s for sure.

I also went back after two lipomassage sessions to try the EndermoLift™ by Endermologie® which was like a mini lipomassage for the face. The treatment apparently helps to revitalize dull, tired looking skin, reduce signs of wrinkles and stimulate collagen production. At the same time, it enhances facial metabolism, detoxifies and prepares skin for natural absorption of enriching serum and ampoules. This relaxing treatment unblocks facial lymph nodes, promotes skin renewal and enhances blood circulation.

This is how your double chins and fine lines are pinched away and your cells are rejuvenated

This is how your double chins and fine lines are pinched away and your cells are rejuvenated

It’s like a smaller version of the lipomassage technology pinching your face and neck everywhere, rolling, and sucking as it goes along every contour.

I caught a selfie of my very tired self on the left (in the dark, no less) just before the treatment and there - can you see the double chin? The one on the right is after one session of Endermolift and it's considerably more contoured

I caught a selfie of my very tired self on the left (in the dark, no less) just before the treatment and there – can you see the double chin? The one on the right is after one session of Endermolift and it’s considerably more contoured

Melt, double chin, melt.

If you’re looking for a wellness centre to experience the LPG technology and non-invasive treatments like Endermolift and Lipomassage, Aura & Miracles is the place to visit (402 Orchard Road, Delfi Orchard, #05-13 Singapore 238876 | Tel: 6333 8707).

The therapists are well trained in the LPG technology, and know exactly how to manoeuvre it to target specific areas of fats and cellulite that are exercise-resistant and diet-resistant (yep, apparently some fat cells are such!). They also provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your body and educate you about the technology before commencing treatment, something I appreciate very much.

And just for Motherkao readers, Aura & Miracles has kindly extended a special offer for anyone interested to trial the technology!

Quote “Motherkao” or “Elizabeth from Motherkao Blog” and try any treatment for SGD 68 (U.P $88) for the first time.

  • If you wish to take up a package for the lipomassage to do it regularly, you can get a 10% off the package price of $2500 and enjoy two additional complimentary sessions (total 12 sessions).
  • If you’d like to take up a package for Endermolift face treatment, you can get a 10% off the package price of $2000 and enjoy two additional complimentary sessions (total 12 sessions)

Disclosure: I was invited by Aura & Miracles to try out 2 lipomassage sessions and 1 Endermolift face treatment for the purpose of this review. All opinions, as well as the actual outcomes here are my own. It will differ from yours because your body is yours and my body is mine. Simple logic, I know, but please don’t hold me responsible for any outcomes, intended or unintended. You should just go try out one session for yourself! and who knows – your fats may melt faster than mine! Good luck!

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It’s the smell of breakfast and more with ‘A Helping Hand’

December 4, 2016

Ever since this came along, my children have stopped eating corn flakes and cereal for breakfast.

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‘A Helping Hand’ by Frog Michaels: read how this came about here

Thanks to A Helping Hand by Frog Michaels, my helper has been churning out pancakes and variations of egg dishes for the kids, in addition to making bread and buns for the whole family since two weeks ago when the cookbook arrived.

My kids are eating better, thanks to this.

At least we no longer hear ‘Huh? Cornflakes again?’!  

A stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast for the kids by Helper A, thanks to the cookbook

A stack of fluffy pancakes for breakfast for the kids by Helper A, thanks to the cookbook!

This was sent to me in Helper's A excitement to share she made poached eggs

This was sent to me in Helper’s A excitement to tell me she made poached eggs one of the mornings I wasn’t around. She tried many more recipes but I barely got to take any pictures because by the time we remember to take photos, the food’s all gone!

I think having a cookbook in Tagalog is such an awesome idea.

Like how awesome this is with the Tagalog side by side the English one

Like how awesome this is with the Tagalog side by side the English one

I think having 86 recipes for Western and Asian cuisine for my helper written and printed in her native language is an even awesomer idea.

I’ve personally told my helper that the possibilities are now endless in terms of what she can whip up, instead of sticking to the staples she always prepares, like pasta and fried rice. She can now be a pro in the kitchen effortlessly from this point forward.

This book is everything I wish she could cook.

A Helping Hand is Singapore’s only cookbook written in English and Tagalog and is designed to help employers and helpers alike churn out tasty, balanced and healthy meals for the family.

Beyond that, it succeeds in being more than just a cookbook: it’s a book that helps relationships between families and their domestic helpers; gives helpers the tools they need in order to feel confident in the kitchen and the information they need in order to purchase ingredients to put a meal together; and helps helpers understand descriptive cooking phrases like ‘beat’, ‘bake blind’, ‘braise’ and ‘blanch’ that would otherwise get lost in translation.

The best part of it all is that for every book sold, a donation goes to Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.) – a Singapore charity and society dedicated to upholding the rights of migrant workers.

Makes an awesome gift to your domestic helper – if yours is from the Philippines – this Christmas!

More details:

A Helping Hand helps get honest, classic, uncomplicated European and Asia dishes onto your table with minimum fuss and effort on your part. Get A Helping Hand from the various stockists in Singapore or online at a special price of SGD 39.90. We hear a Bahasa version is in the pipeline too. Akan datang!

Disclosure: Frog Michaels has very kindly gifted her cookbook to my trusty helper, A. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions here are my own. Helper A thinks ‘A Helping Hand’ has made her more confident in the kitchen and she is immensely grateful! 

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Give meaning & memories this Christmas – Print for Fun photo prints

December 2, 2016

This Christmas, may I encourage you to give your loved ones your presence and meaningful presents that add value and meaning to their lives.

Like memories.

And precious moments.

We received an early Christmas present this year from Print For Fun which completely surprised me. I would say it was one of the most meaningful gifts my family had ever received.

I mean, someone actually took the time, culled through my IG feed, picked out the many happy memories my family had this year and put them beautifully in a collage.

And then framed it up and delivered it to my doorstep.

I mean, how thoughtful can a gift like this get?

I’m so thrilled by the idea of this idea – going online and choosing a collage of photos (2×2, 3×3 or 4×4) and have them within a 9″x 9″ black frame.

Or making a collage poster for your favourite family.

Or printing the loveliest of a friend’s smile on canvas; and then having her get your gift in the mail.

They say it’s the thought that counts, and with this gift idea, it’s making every thought (of that someone you’re gifting to) count.

And just for Motherkao readers, get a 10% off all photo print products on Print For Fun by entering the promo code MOTHERKAOXPFF when checking out (promo ends 31 Dec 2016).

How’s that for the most wonderful time of the year?

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Ninja-wannabes training programme – Launch of Legoland’s Ninjago Ride

November 7, 2016

My boys have three loves when it comes to LEGO – Chima, Nexo Knights and Ninjago. A long time ago, these Lego TV series and their characters sound like ridiculously made up words to me: Moltor, Lavelle, Merlok, Fangpyre, Garmadon, Spitta, Samukai, Ming (the name of a ghost!), Morro, Kruncha, Frakjaw, Bonezai… (and I can go on and on) – but these days everything in all these three series have found seamless integration into our daily vocabulary at home, especially with the kids.

The good thing is, each of these series has at least one or two female characters, so Becks is usually not left out.

And if all three kids had to pick a favourite – it has to be the Ninjago series, where the elusive world of ninja-hood is made accessible to them, and where it’s absolutely cool to wield ninja weapons like the sword, the shuriken, nunchuks, the scythe, and the sai,  and learn kungfu moves.

Correction (as rectified by Ben): The ninja heroes – Kai, Jay, Cole and Zane; and later Lloyd and Nya, train under Sensei Wu to master an ancient martial art called Spinjitzu. It’s not kungfu, alright.

It was only just a while ago they were completely clueless about these ninjas and their stories.

So when LEGO Ninjago World finally opened on 4 November in Legoland Malaysia, my ninja warriors at home declared that they absolutely have to head there to check it out.

They have been hearing so much about the new ride and have been anticipating its launch since our last visit to Legoland.

And so to Legoland we went over the weekend, despite the jam, the rain and the sick mother.


It was drizzling all of last Saturday but that never once dampened any ninja-wannabe’s spirit to defeat their enemies.

The ninja-wannabes entered Ninjago World with much anticipation and respect to Master Wu (hurhurhur, the joke internally is that Master Wu is me because that is my surname), and met their favourite Ninjagos in brick form.

Always ninja-ready! The boys had company this trip!

Always ninja-ready! The boys had company this trip!

Nat with his favourite Ninjago

Nat with his favourite Ninjago

With Cole the black ninja

With Cole the black ninja

We so don't need any lightning now, Ben

We so don’t need any lightning now, Ben

Check out the awesome Mountain Shrine made of bricks where Ben tells me the ninjas train in private. And Nat says, "My face is like that because I am Lloyd and he is very angry."

Check out the awesome Mountain Shrine made of bricks where Ben tells me the ninjas train in private. And Nat says, “My face is like that because I am Lloyd and he is very angry.”

All ready for ninjahood!

All ready for ninjahood… and the 4D adventure!

Ninjago The Ride, we hear, is the very first of its kind in Asia. The new 4D ride enables guests to use their hands to throw virtual lightning bolts, move shockwaves, send ice soaring and emit fireballs with incredible accuracy – and you can feel the heat and cold too! With teamwork (maximum 4 in a car), ninja wannabes can become their favourite characters and defeat enemies, from snake tribes, ghosts and skeletons to the Great Devourer under the guidance of Master Wu.

So it was NINJA…GO from the get go!

There's a gallery indoors leading to the ride which made Becks the happiest because she found her long lost sister, Nya

There’s a gallery indoors leading to the ride which made Becks the happiest because she found her long lost sister, Nya

Nya's story told in pictures

Nya’s story told in pictures

Lots of visuals to look at while meandering towards the queue

Lots of visuals to look at while meandering towards the queue

And you can also stop to fix bricks on brick murals

And you can also stop to fix bricks on brick murals

And finally...

And finally…

The two littles insisted they were afraid and needed to be with me. They gamely put on those 3D glasses nonetheless...

The two littles insisted they were afraid and needed to be with me. They gamely put on those 3D glasses nonetheless…

And so it was, that the camera captured us this way…

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And this way, for the car in front of us!

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Throwing virtual projectiles with mere hands in an indoor ride away from the rain, by the way, was a brilliant idea, especially since we were there on a day the rain didn’t seem to go away.

And it’s an awesome and exhilarating experience, I tell you – the ride features a ride track of more than 400 feet, 10 scenes and 39 projectors that spin you round and take you high and low, immersing you in a 4-dimensional interactive adventure as a ninjago.

So awesome was it I went twice with the boys (Becks went once and declared ninjahood this way isn’t for her, haha) and my arms are now aching from shooting fire and ice at villains that came charging in my face.

Coming in 3rd with a 6-figure score! Not bad considering I shot all the shurikens of ice and swords of fire

Coming in 1st with a 6-figure score for the first round! Not bad considering I shot all the shurikens of ice and swords of fire

And 3rd on our 2nd attempt. This time round the boys said they will be sharper and faster, but I still think I did all the work!

And 3rd on our 2nd attempt. This time round the boys said they will be sharper and faster, but I still think I did all the work!

The boys felt as though they received a badge of honour having been trained by the simulation ride to be proper ninjas with proper ninja moves. They have, henceforth, officially declared to have undergone the tutelage of Sensei Wu and emerged “trained”.

I, for one, am declaring that I have officially mastered the snake move in Spinjitzu. See above last picture. I’m like the most awesome ice and fire snake-style ninja.

The ninjas will be working hard overtime fighting imaginary villains, for sure, back at home. After receiving tough training like this, I forsee my boys applying what they learn, complete with throwing REAL projectiles now.

Cue ‘Everything is awesome‘ Lego movie theme song.

~~~

LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort announced the opening of its latest hi-tech attraction, LEGO® NINJAGO™ The Ride, the very first of its kind in Asia, on 4 November 2016. Visit LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort’s official website or contact LEGOLAND ® Malaysia at +60-7-597 8888 and stay connected with LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s social handles (Facebook & Twitter) to find out more about their online promotions.

Disclosure: We were invited to Legoland Malaysia – whose hospitality for the Kao family is immeasurably awesome, as always – to review this ride. All opinions of ninjas, ninjahood and ninja training are our own.

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The Forgotten Recipe, where food is remembered [Review]

August 24, 2016

I treasure the weekends a lot these days because when we’re up for it, the family goes exploring. I’m so glad the kids are old enough now and have a great sense of adventure. Ever since we’ve moved, we’ve been checking out places we otherwise wouldn’t if we were still staying at the northeast of Singapore. We’ve done a fair bit of cafe hopping at Holland Village and Dempsey already, and lately found ourselves entranced by the charms of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood.

Tiong Bahru market was where I was in chwee kueh heaven, slurped up bowls of pork porridge and made my father queue for crystal paus as a child.

And here’s where we also found a newly opened concept bistro that’s such a brilliant idea – completely congruent with the rustic-ness of the old and new in Tiong Bahru – and which makes us wonder why hasn’t anyone thought of such a concept for a restaurant of bistro till now?

It’s called The Forgotten Recipe.

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And what does it serve?

Forgotten recipes, and good ol’ comfort food my ah ma would be proud of.

We joined The Forgotten Recipe for their brunch buffet some time ago, and were impressed with some classic dishes that brought back feelings of warmth, comfort and simplicity. I hear that the brunch buffet happens every Saturday and there’ll be activities lined up for the kids in a separate play room within the bistro.

Which means the adults can take their time to eat, or come with company, and the kids can be gainfully occupied if they are done with their eating.

That Saturday, my kids got their hands busy playing with train tracks and car tracks, and making Angry Birds clay figurines while Fatherkao and I ate took our time to savour each dish, go for seconds, and then have dessert and coffee.

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Warming up after the stomach’s filled on playmats

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Facilitated clay modelling activity

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Look, Mama. I made RED!

The buffet line was jaw dropping with its variety of comfort food and classic dishes ranging for potato gratin and tahu goreng to devil’s curry and chai tow kway. I found the devil’s curry most satisfying; the chef nailed it with its aromatic flavours and spice level, complete with the tender chicken thighs that came with the dish.

I didn’t manage to capture my devil’s curry on my plate, so here’s a mouthwatering picture, courtesy of The Forgotten Recipe

It was like being invited to a Eurasian home for a cosy dinner.

The other dish I found novel was the tok tok mee, which was a simple noodle dish cooked in flavourful broth. There’s a sense of nostalgia eating a dish like this, and it made me wish I could have muah chee and dragon beard candy and kacang puteh after eating that bowl, just like in my childhood days.

Simple tok tok mee with belachan filled with flavours to savour!

Simple tok tok mee with belachan filled with flavours to savour!

Another dish worth a mention from the buffet line was the tahu goreng. The key to a successful tahu goreng is fresh tahu and smooth, flavourful peanut sauce. Which we got – piping hot.

Would be interesting to see The Forgotten Recipe recreate versions of that peanut sauce from experienced makciks willing to share all their recipes and provide an assortment of various Forgotten peanut toppings!

Picture credit: The Forgotten Recipe (I suck at food photography. I only dig in!)

Picture credit: The Forgotten Recipe (As you can tell, I was too busy eating I didn’t grab a picture of my tahu goreng too!)

Dessert was chendol which was a sweet end to balance out the savoury from the buffet line. I’ve had better ones in Melaka, of course, but the kids totally love that there’s ice cream in it, which was a treat on a hot day.

They've got one thing right here for sure: chendol has to be eaten with a metal spoon!

They’ve got one thing right here for sure: chendol has to be eaten with a metal spoon!

And while we took our time to eat, the kids played the afternoon away, and that was how a lazy Saturday afternoon was spent in this quaint neighbourhood I have so many fond memories of. I recounted to the kids how I ate my first bowl of yong tau foo here, which came with blood pudding, and loved every bite of it (much to their disgust), and how my aunt would bus my cousins and I from Bukit Merah where she lived to Tiong Bahru to eat that, and fishball noodles, and roast pork rice, and all of what I knew to be yummy since childhood. I recalled memories of running and playing along the same pavements we walked and how this place is one of the few that make up the Singapore I love.

Time has passed but much of the facade in this neighbourhood still remains. And how apt it was to be reminiscing childhood in a place like The Forgotten Recipe – a new within the old, and created to help people savour their food memories.

~~~

More details:

The Forgotten Recipe is at 3 Seng Poh Road, S168891. Since our visit, they’ve done a couple of really brilliant things like letting you customise your own National Day brunch buffet by bringing back local delights, and launching some new fusion creations. Follow them on their Facebook page for more updates.

The Forgotten Recipe also invites you to revive old and forgotten recipes by submitting them.

It’s nice to create new memories and be involved in the process of recreating dishes that were from days yonder.

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Keen-to-learn Nat (ft. a review of Gakken’s Go Go Series)

August 16, 2016

Nat has a super competitive streak. He’s very aware of his siblings’ existence and abilities, and despite being 4 yearns to be learning what they learn, knowing what they know and doing what they do.

If korkor can build a Lego set from scratch, so can I, says Nat.

If Becks is learning phonics, I can learn phonics too. Hey everyone, hear me sound the letters. Annie Apple says ‘Aaa’, says Nat.

If korkor is learning how to volley, I can also do that. All he needs is to teach me what he learns in tennis, says Nat.

Look, Mama. I can spell and write my name! says Nat.

This boy is one eager beaver, I tell you. Whenever we visit a book store or any Popular fair, my eldest asks for construction toys (?!?!), my daughter wants stationery and my youngest begs to buy activity books. He wants to be tracing, playing maze puzzle games and colouring.

And so his wish came true when Gakken Asia Pacific sent him their Go-Go Brain Development Series last month:

GakkenGoGoSeries_ReviewMotherkao (1)

Imagine his happiness: activity books filled with fun games of helping animals find their way through mazes and tons of sticker fun. There’s counting involved and lots of animals (too cute!) to be amused by page after page.

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GakkenGoGoSeries_ReviewMotherkao (6)

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There’s even a guide for parents on how to use the series to teach useful skills to your child.

GakkenGoGoSeries_ReviewMotherkao (2)

See how much fun he’s had, and how focused and serious about his learning he can be, tracing with his fingers and holding a pencil:

GakkenGoGoSeries_ReviewMotherkao (12)

GakkenGoGoSeries_ReviewMotherkao (14)

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After every page of fun, all I got was a beaming face and an earnest boy asking to do more.

~~~

Activity books like these are my go-to resource to minimise screen time. Being engaged in one of these also help the little ones develop a sense of confidence that they are building new skills – all those peeling of stickers help to develop hand-eye coordination; the maze puzzles help train concentration and pencil control; the adorable animal characters can inspire a child to start drawing (or copying) and best of all, a child spends quality time with his mama!

It’s a great alternative to giving a child a tablet or mobile phone and it encourages a child to learn enthusiastically through fun ways. I know for sure that Nat loved every minute working on every page.

My only complaint was that his fun ended too soon and I have to start ordering more of these to keep his enthusiasm going!

More details + discount code + GIVEAWAY (yay!):

The Gakken Go-Go series activity books are available on sale at the following stores:

  • All Popular Bookstores
  • Play ‘N’ Learn (FREE SHIPPING for Motherkao readers/followers)
  • Openschoolbag (USE GAKKEN10 for a 10% discount when checking out)

You can also download the digital trial version (IOS only) on https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/gakken-go-go-educational-interactive/id1091487932?mt=8.

And just for Motherkao readers, Gakken Asia Pacific is giving 4 activity books to 4 readers* of this blog, just so you can experience the fun in learning through the Go-Go Series.

Simply log in to the Rafflecopter app here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*T&C: The Go-Go Series is suitable for ages 2 – 6. Your details will be collected by Gakken Asia Pacific for the purpose of delivery if you win. Whether Gakken Asia Pacific sends you the book of your choice or randomises a selection is completely up to the company’s discretion.

The titles that have a star are NOT available.

The titles that have a star next to it are NOT available.

Disclosure: Nat received 3 activity books from the Gakken Go-Go Series for the purpose of this review. He’s been having lots of maze-puzzle and sticker fun ever since. All opinions here are Motherkao’s own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Everyday fun! Motherkao loves... Product Reviews The Kao Kids

Handy helpers with their handy helper – Review of the new Dyson V8 Fluffy

August 12, 2016

Apart from that time when we were maidless in the Kao household, my children have never volunteered themselves to do any form of cleaning.

My helper has been with us for her third year now, and I haven’t had the need to write any more maid woes related posts (phew) because she’s been super amazing. Except that it leaves me with one problem.

She does everything so well and quick that there isn’t any need for my kids to learn to clean up after themselves.

The living room’s messy with 964 Lego bricks in all shapes and sizes scattered everywhere… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

The craft trolley’s in a huge mess and we’ve spilled glue and glitter and cut up lots of teeny weeny bits of yarn… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

We’re shredding paper cos’ it’s so fun and Mama lets us do lots of sensory play with dough and water babies and all the bubble wraps and we’re so tired we can’t clean up… Who do we call?

AUNTY A!!!

But one fine day last month, something changed.

Ok, only one Fluffy came to stay, not three.

Ok, so only one Fluffy came to stay, not three.

This came into our lives on a fateful day in July and took permanent residence in the Kao household. And now, the default “person” to call isn’t Aunty A anymore, but Fluffy.

And can I say something? Fluffy’s arrival has changed my children. FOR THE BETTER.

You see, this amazing Fluffy has turned my kids into handy helpers overnight and got them suddenly interested in doing housework. These kids, especially Ben, are cleaning floors, picking up dirt after craft and doing a great job keeping our walls and floor spotless. Even the fans are largely dust-free these days, thanks to them and Fluffy.

Unwrapping Fluffy

Unwrapping Fluffy

DysonV8Fluffy_MotherkaoReview (13)

Fixing up our handy helper

Mr James Dyson, I already adore you for inventing the bladeless fan that’s been keeping those little curious fingers in my brood safe. Now I love you even more for trying 5127 times getting this V8 out in the market and making little helpful troopers out of my children.

We learned from the box that James Dyson made 5127 prototypes!

We learned from the box which Fluffy came in that James Dyson made 5127 prototypes!

You’re a genius.

And here – just for you, I’ve listed 5 reasons why the new Dyson V8 Fluffy is amazing, all thanks to Mr Dyson, freeing my helper’s hands and keeping my children’s hands busy.

Here’s why it’s really great to have one, and why we all love this vacuum cleaner.

1. The new Dyson V8 Fluffly gives a whole new meaning to lightweight.

Fluffy weighs 2.6kg. ONLY. Inside the cord-free Dyson V8 Fluffy, key components like the motor and battery are positioned near the hand. This shifts the centre of gravity, making the cleaning end of the vacuum much lighter, so it’s easy to clean up top and down below.

Which is why even a 4-year-old can pick it up and help with the cleaning.

Keeping the walls dust free is so easy!

Keeping the walls dust free is so easy!

2. It looks like a really cool weapon which Ben uses while pretending to be a super hero = it’s great to be cleaning up while using it for pretend play 

Fluffy has no cord. So there’s nothing to unravel, plug in, drag around and restrict your reach. Equipped with a docking and charging station, you can grab and clean whenever you need to. Much like going to a weapon room and picking up a weapon to exterminate the bad guys to satisfy every boy’s fantasy like Iron Man.

Looks like a cool weapon for a cool boy. Image taken at the V8 Media Preview

Looks like a cool weapon for a cool boy. Image taken at the V8 Media Preview

That’s what Ben thinks, at least. Dust, hair and eraser shavings are the ‘bad guys’ these days.

Eraser shaving attack!

Eraser shaving attack!

So easy! So fun!

3. Its dirt ejector makes it so easy to handle dirt.

So once upon a time, I was a paranoid mother when my children picked up brooms and vacuums. I’ll worry that dirt would fly into their respiratory systems and make them cough/sneeze/wheeze and give them clogged pores.

Fast forward to today, after welcoming Fluffy.

Fluffy features a new bin emptying mechanism that’s never been seen in any other. As the bin is emptied, a rubber collar slides down the shroud, scraping dirt off. This enables the user to hygienically drive out trapped dust and debris in a single action, with no need to touch the dirt. Additionally, the bin has higher capacity than previous generation machines.

Side profile of Fluffy's dust ejector - you can see what gets sucked up clearly without needing to breathe in dust!

Side profile of Fluffy’s dust ejector – you can see what gets sucked up clearly without needing to breathe in dust!

Plus, Fluffy has a whole machine HEPA filtration, which means that it captures and retains more dust using patented 2 Tier Radial™ cyclones. 15 cyclones, arranged across two tiers, generate powerful centrifugal forces to spin dust and dirt out of the airflow. Any remaining particles are captured by the post motor filter – including allergens and bacteria as small as 0.3 microns.

And because the entire system is engineered to be sealed, the air that leaves the machine is cleaner than the air you breathe.

Speak English, you say.

This just means that if you’re near the vacuum cleaner, it is filtering air for you and you are breathing cleaner air than if you were away from the vacuum. Geddit? 

Kids, use Fluffy all you want, anytime, all the time! Mama is paranoid no more about dust!

4. It’s so quiet nobody knows you’re vacuuming (playing with it).

Now, in our household, we’ve been through vacuum cleaners over the years that look like R2D2 on the loose and tell the whole world you are vacuuming the house with the loud, driveyoubatshitcrazy-kind of motor.

What I particularly like about this fella called Fluffy is that it purrs. So UN-loudly.

Which means sometimes, I don’t even realise my son is engaging in his Iron Man fantasies exterminating dirt and dust because it doesn’t tell the world he’s with a vacuum in the house. Or my daughter sneaking Fluffy into the room and pretends to play house with it. Fluffy never gives her away.

Dyson invests heavily in optimising the acoustics of its technologies. Where more power typically translates to more noise, the Dyson V8 makes only a light reverberating sound despite its powerful suction.

That’s the kind of quiet cool I like.

I found her quietly engaged in pretend play one evening in the guise of cleaning the bed

I found her quietly engaged in pretend play one evening in the guise of cleaning the bed

5. Versatility, uninterrupted + drop also never mind.

Strong materials with durable and lightweight properties were chosen in the construction of the Dyson V8. The polycarbonate clear bin is made from the same durable material as riot shields.

And have I mentioned that Fluffy is extremely versatile?

Fluffy excels at picking up both large debris and fine dust particles at the same time

Due to their design, many conventional cleaner heads are unable to suck up fine dust and large debris simultaneously. In order to suck up large debris, a large gap is required between the cleaner head and the floor. This gap can allow suction to escape, and fine dust is left behind on the floor surface and in crevices. To remove fine dust from the floor surface and crevices, a cleaner head needs a tight seal with the floor to prevent suction power from leaking. A tight seal means that large debris is pushed along the floor.

Frustrated with the limitations of conventional cleaner heads, Dyson engineers went back to the drawing board to design a new kind of cleaner head that was effective at picking up both fine dust and large debris at the same time. Instead of a brush bar with bristles, the Dyson V8 Fluffy cordless vacuum has a roller covered entirely in soft woven nylon. This traps large debris, whilst four rows of anti-static carbon fibre filaments remove fine dust.

English please, again, you say?

Just means that it’s sturdy and clever and can use to clean practically anything VERY EFFICIENTLY.

Real solid, this fella.

Cleaning made so easy for a 7-year-old

Cleaning made so easy for a 7-year-old

Now, if I can have my way to influence Mr Dyson’s next invention, or an improved version of Fluffy, may I suggest the following?

I’d like Fluffy to be able to pick up wet things too. Because my children put milk in their cereal and accidents always happen at breakfast, I really hope for once that they can settle their own mess without needing an adult to go on all fours with a cloth.

I’d like Fluffy to go longer than 40 minutes (Fluffy works hard for 40 minutes when fully charged). 40 minutes doesn’t seem enough if you have kids multiply by 3 who love to sharpen their pencils and erase non stop, leaving a trail of shavings from coloured pencils and charcoal erasers AND who like to take turns indulging their own weaponry fantasy while cleaning up.

Other than that, all’s good.

You absolutely need to get one to get your kids started.

I probably need to have 3 to have peace at home, because everyone’s fighting over Fluffy now.

More details:

The Dyson V8 is now available in major departmental stores and electrical multiples. The machine includes a 2 year warranty on parts and labour and retails at SGD 1, 099.

Disclosure: The Kao kids new handy helper was given to us by Dyson for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions, including my utmost adoration for Mr Dyson and my son’s deep love for Tony Stark are our own. And we’ve got nothing against R2D2 looklalikes, by the way.

Becks Kao Motherkao loves... Reviews

The haircut after the haircut that went wrong (ft. a review of Aqua Korean Hair Salon)

July 19, 2016

So we all know that my little girl had a haircut gone wrong.

She was very upset with how short her hair turned out to be and threw a fit two weeks ago. Thankfully she is also one happy-go-lucky girl who bears no grudges and after we kissed and made up that night, she showed her mama she loved her more than she ever did.

What a wonderful little girl. Feisty and stubborn as she can be, sometimes hurling hurtful words to break my heart but also endearing and very expressive with her little acts of affection at the same time.

Just last Wednesday, after I returned home declaring that I was done with filming (the Channel 8 folks came by and interviewed me for Money Week 财经追击), my kids promptly echoed a chorus:

‘TIME TO CUT YOUR HAIR, MAMA!’

You see, out of panic at the salon the other day, I had randomly asked Becks if she wanted me to cut my hair too to ‘keep her company’. To which she said a resounding yes. I was held ransom immediately by the offer but got off the hook when I told her that I could only do it after Wednesday because I didn’t want to have short hair for TV.

She remembered. And so did her brothers who overheard everything we said.

Oh well. Don’t believe your kids if they tell you they can’t remember anything.

~~~

For my haircut, I took the chance to try out a Korean hair salon near where I worked.

So after this…

Haircut at Aqua Korean Hair Salon (2)

this…

Haircut at Aqua Korean Hair Salon (3)

and this was done…

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I am happy ]to say I now have shorter hair than Becks’ and ain’t no one’s going to be complaining anymore about any haircut gone wrong.

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Of course, the little girl was really happy she’s finally got company.

Haircut at Aqua Korean Hair Salon (6)

 

~~~

A quick review about the hair salon:

I love k-culture and have been immersed in it for close to 6 years now. It started with Running Man and quickly morphed into a crazy love for everything K – food, hairstyles, fashion, people, drama and history. For the longest time I’ve wanted to get a Korean hairstylist to do my hair, and when I finally did at Aqua Korean Hair Salon, I did it over very few words and lots of quiet flipping of CeCi magazines.

You need to completely trust that a Korean hairstylist knows exactly what to do when you give him simple words like ‘short’, ‘c-curl’ and ‘volume rebond’, and even then with Moon, my stylist, he was first to suggest I was good to go with just an A-line bob because my hair’s really straight anyway, and if I were to be diligent to blow dry it daily, I would have a similar c-curl effect. I liked that he was honest, and didn’t try to hard sell anything that didn’t make sense.

But I’ve always wanted to try the c-curl and know for a fact that no one else would do it better than a Korean (plus I love Kim Ji Won’s hair in DOTS) and told Moon to go ahead and try it on me.

KJW in DOTS (Photo credit: KBS)

KJW in DOTS
(Photo credit: KBS)

And he did. He unassumingly worked on every strand and step, with quiet confidence and finesse.

The result? I. loved. it. much.

I managed to even tell him that in Korean.

좋아. 진짜좋아. (Joa. Jjinja joa.)

Haircut at Aqua Korean Hair Salon (5)

More details:

Aqua Hair Salon is at Delfi Orchard #03-16, next to the best place to do your brows, Browtisan. Connect with them on their FB Page – you can make appointments and get a non-obligatory consultation by leaving the stylists a message on FB, or contact them at 6732 8011.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All recommendations and opinions are solely my own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Milestones and growing up Reading fun Reviews The Kao Kids

Can books fly? Yes, they can! (Review of Flying Books Subscription)

June 28, 2016

Those of you who have followed me from Day One would know how much I advocate reading.

Some years back, I did a series on Teaching the Kao Kids and how to raise readers (you can read the first post here, second one here & third one here). I’m also known as a mom (still!) who refuses to throw an iPad or mobile to my kids to keep them entertained. Till now, my friends whom we dine out with are pretty amazed that my kids still take out books to read while waiting for food to come. I’m really glad to have started on the right footing with the boundaries on technology and heartened that the kids have fallen head over heels with books.

I pretty much rely on book lists from these sources: flavorwire and huffingtonpost, and I try to buy books that have been recognised by the Caldecott Medal (and its respective Honor Books). The kids and I often enjoy these reads when I purchase them online from Open Trolley, Book Depository and occasionally, The Groovy Giraffe.

But getting books and replenishing our library often requires a regular exercise of me getting updates from my go-to-sources and searching for them online (plus comparing prices and wait time) and this can only mean that our collection can get quite stale if I get too busy to support their voracious reading appetites.

So boy am I glad to learn that books can fly to us if my schedules get busy and the kids want to be reading new titles.

You heard me right, books can fly to you, regularly and thoughtfully.

Flying Books is a book subscription that curates books for your little ones and sends them to your doorstep. The books are selected based on the little one’s age group and come from a carefully handpicked list of best published children’s books. The format of books vary between board books and picture books (either paperback or hardcover) and will always take into consideration of the age group of the child they are sent to.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Martins who founded Flying Books and learned that her dream of bringing stories to children to ignite their imagination was the reason for starting this business. Nicole works out of Trehaus which I co-founded, and we get excited just talking about our dream of having our children loving to read. I’ve also asked her if parents like me who buy A LOT of books for my children were a good fit for her curated subscription service, and she answered me by letting my children experience the ‘Siblings – One Time Gift Packgage‘ for myself (customised for 3 instead of 2 kids, though). I was mainly concerned about having repeats (which Nicole says would be avoided because an email would be sent out to the parents to ensure that the child will be getting a surprise in the mail and not an existing title) and that the books would be suited for my three children who were at very different reading milestones.

And what a surprise we got when we received our Flying Books delivered to us.

What's in the parcel?

What’s in the parcel?

It’s like Christmas coming early with all the prettily wrapped up presents.

Christmas came early!

Christmas came early!

After we unwrapped the books, we found a personalised letter introducing the books that the kids have received.

When I learned what the titles they received were, I instinctly knew that the selection was age-appropriate and helps in developing their reading milestones: Nat would get some texture play and a colourful story read to him; Becks could try blending words to help in her reading complete with lots of visuals; and Ben could definitely take off on his own, reading an exciting sequel to a book he’s previously read and loved.

Such details to fill the parents in on what her kids would be getting!

Such details to fill the parents in on what her kids would be getting!

Nat received Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson; Becks got Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems and Ben received the sequel to Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, which was The Day the Crayons Came Home.

Flying Books (11)

Books to read, hooray!

 

Wasted no time in reading

Wasted no time in reading

The books had extremely good mileage for the entire month. The kids exchanged their books frequently and bugged various storytellers in the house to read them aloud, namely me and their father, and occasionally Ben who is great doing voices.

We thoroughly enjoyed the glitter from Sharing a Shell, particularly the littlest who was kinda obsessed with rubbing every page (never too old for some sensory experience!). We had a good time role-playing the narrator who’s tasked to not let the pigeon convince us of staying up late. And there’s nothing not to love about Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations of the flustered, whiny, frustrated crayons in Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Came Home and we had many nights of laughter with both the quitting book and the coming home book.

We love the crayons most, definitely.

Altogether now, rubbing the glitter on the book

Altogether now, rubbing the glitter on the book

We’re thankful that Flying Books lets us experience so much reading pleasure from these titles, and I’ll be the first here to recommend this to parents with young children at various age groups (take the Siblings package!) because it saves you the trouble of handpicking books for your kids in line with their development and literacy skills. Although the subscription service currently only curates for 12 months to 6 years, I am confident that a 7 or 8 year-old can still enjoy the titles meant for a 6-year-old.

Or gift them (buy one-time packages) to a child whom you know would love to receive exciting titles on a special occasion. How’s that for a really thoughtful birthday present?

And for those who wish to make reading a lifelong habit for your kid(s), Flying Books is a good way to start. It’s all the guess work done for you, which means you don’t have to constantly check for the latest popular published titles and rifle through bookstores. Plus, I know Nicole goes to great lengths in curating only the best for your child because I watch her work passionately every day, which means that you’ll always be promised quality and awesome books!

Giveaway & Discount Code, courtesy of Flying Books

  • And just for readers of this blog, Flying Books is doing a giveaway of 3 x Flying Books Gift Package (one-time package) to be sent in July to 3 special kids!

Participate using the Rafflecopter app here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 17 July 2016. Please note that Flying Books curate books for 12 months to 6 years only. Winners will be notified via email and information about your child’s age will be collected by Flying Books so that the age-appropriate gift package can be delivered to you.

  • Flying Books is also offering a 5% discount off the 3-month subscription plans (for both regular & siblings) in addition to the published discounted rate. Use the promo codes MOTHERKAO & MOTHERKAOSIB respectively when you check out.

~~~

Happy reading!

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr Seuss