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Friday, December 28, 2018

Looking back at 2018

Writing a "looking back" post became an annual ritual. This year is not any different. With the calendar soon switches to 2019, it is always (dis)heartening to reflect on your resolutions and craft out new ones for the next year. 2018 was exciting. This year was filled with two major milestones (no. 1 and 2) of a person's life:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Pregnancy Tips for Surviving the Third Trimester

Week 28 onwards
Congratulations on making to the last stage of pregnancy! Give yourself a pat on the back! Although you're about two-thirds to the finish line, your little one has still got lots to grow. Unlike the second trimester, because of the extra (and growing) weight, my wife gets tired easily. During our antenatal class with Dr. Wong Boh Boi, the fathers get to try out an 8-kilograms vest to experience what their wives are going through. Yet, unlike this dummy vest that we can take off as and when, mummies got to carry it till the baby's out. And to be honest, that's real hard work - a huge salute to all mummies out there.

Pregnancy Tips for Surviving the Third Trimester (currently viewing)
What to expect during your third trimester

Disclaimer: Tips provided are based on our own personal experience. It may work for some, but not others. We are not medical professionals. If symptoms aggravate or persist, please seek a trained doctor.

#1. Baby movements. And backaches
Now that your little one is growing rapidly, chances that you will start feeling his or her kicks, heavy accompanied with backaches and occasional cramps. After all, your organs gotta make space for the baby, you'll be sure to feel some discomfort.

Tried and tested:
- Back massage: Lie sideways and have your partner do a good ol' back massage for you to release some tension. A suggestion is to put a few tennis balls in a stocking, tie them tight on both ends, and it rolled against your back for a quick relief.
- Propping your legs up: A simple pillow or cushion would do the trick for this.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Delivery at Thomson Medical Centre + Hospital fees (Nov 2018)

If you are reading this, you're probably soon-to-be parents. Before anything else, here's a huge congratulations to you! Parenthood, especially if you're a first-time parent (like us), is nothing you can ever expect. Sleep loss. Personal time loss. A lot of sacrifices. But here's some consolation, (1) it will pass, and (2) even if it doesn't, you'll get used to it. At the time of publishing this post, our baby Olivia is nearly two weeks.

You might be interested in these other reads too:
Our Delivery Story at Thomson Medical Center and Hospital Bill (November 2018 - currently viewing)
What You Should Do After Finding Out You're Pregnant
Pregnancy Tips for Surviving the First Trimester
Pregnancy Tips for Surviving the Second Trimester

I know, I know, we were once in your shoes, gathering all the information about all the hospitals, checking your pockets and wondering if you have sufficient kachings. As a slight laojiao (more experienced) than you, let me share your major concerns with you, my amigo.
 0 days old.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Pregnancy Tips for Surviving the Second Trimester

Week 13 to 27
Now that the first trimester (till Week 12) is finally over, give yourself a huge pat on your back and possibly kick back and enjoy. You've earned it! As compared with the first trimester, the second trimester is known to be "heaven" or "honeymoon period" (as what my friends described). After all, your fetus is more or less settled in your tum-tum as risks of miscarriage has dipped to less than a low-low-low 10%. And you know what? If it's not happening yet, wave goodbye to your morning sickness.

What to expect during your second trimester
Things are definitely gonna be easier, but it's not all rainbows and butterflies (yet), here are some things to expect during week 13 to 28.

Disclaimer: Tips provided are based on our own personal experience. It may work for some, but not others. We are not medical professionals. If symptoms aggravate or persist, please seek a trained doctor.

#1. Bleeding gums. And bad breath.
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding. Just that, it's your gums that are bleeding now. Swollen, tender, and bleeding gums paired with bad breath. Seriously. Everytime we kiss, it's like I'm turning into a vampire or something. But you know what girl, this is temporary! Once the baby is out, hormones level will change back the way it used to be.

Tried and tested:
- Softer toothbrush and salt: Switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles. Dental hygiene is very important. My wife uses coarse salt with the toothpaste as well, as it gives temporary relief and it's antiseptic. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Pregnancy Tips for Surviving the First Trimester

Before I move on, I would like to sincerely congratulate you on stepping into another new phase of life. Whether it is planned or unplanned (like us!), acknowledge that this is a great gift from God. Although the journey of being pregnant and beyond is going to be tough, it will be one that's gonna be the most rewarding.

What to expect during your first trimester
So, you are pregnant. What now? Chances are that you are starting to feel bodily changes in your body, largely due to the increased secretion of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) a.k.a pregnancy hormone. 

Disclaimer: Tips provided are based on our own personal experience. It may work for some, but not others. We are not medical professionals. If symptoms aggravate or persist, please seek a trained doctor.

#1. Morning sickness
The bad news is that hCG positively correlates (ugh, such academic terms) - the higher hCG levels in your body, the more you may nauseate. As shown in the graph below, hCG peaks at the 9th week of pregnancy. 

The good news is that hCG is essential for fetal development - you wouldn't want it another way, right? Although most mummies will feel nausea, the spectrum ranges from vomiting a hell lot to not vomiting at all. Throughout the pregnancy, my wife did not vomit even once, so it really depends.

Tried and tested:
- Seaband: Provides a fast-relief for nausea by stimulating an acupuncture point on both wrists. We got the normal Seaband (doesn't have to be specifically Seaband Mama) at Guardian for about SGD$18.
- Ginger: Take water boiled with ginger in the morning to alleviate nausea symptoms. According to traditional Chinese medicine practice, do not take ginger at night.
- Red dates: Highly nutritious food that provides energy and circulates blood flow, while preventing anaemia and constipation.
- When you're nauseating, you become hypersensitive to certain foods. Plain crackers and hard-boiled eggs are perfect in filling mummy's tummy while providing nutrients to the fetus.

Friday, November 16, 2018

What You Should Do After Finding Out That You're Pregnant

If you're reading this right now, chances are that you just found out that you are pregnant. Yay, congratulations! Okay, now what? After the initial excitement (and disbelief - trust me) gets over, a hundred and one questions now occupy your mind. Oh no, what should I do? What should I eat? Is this safe for the baby? I heard the first trimester is unstable, should I let out the news? As Lady M and I stepped into another phase of our lives, I suddenly felt qualified to write about a brand new topic - Pregnancy.

Our pregnancy story
My wife had a hunch that she is pregnant, although her menstrual due date is still a few days away. How she did it still remains a mystery to me, perhaps it's the prompting of God, who knows. We bought a pregnancy testing kit (#1) from 7-11, and we tested the next morning since the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) a.k.a. pregnancy hormone is at its peak in the morning pee. Hmm. An extremely fade, undisguisable line, are we pregnant? Maybe not. Later that day, we got another pregnancy kit, this time an expensive one (#2), and the line was clear...

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Olivia,

In about one month, mummy and I will be carrying you in our arms. It has been more than eight months in mummy's tummy, but as they say - good things are worth waiting for. From the size of a grape seed, you grew to be a blueberry, a kiwi, an orange, and now you are the size of a melon! One thing for sure, mummy eats a lot of fruits. So many months of waiting, it was unreal initially, but as time passes, we get to see and feel you swimming inside mummy.  We can't wait to see your beautiful face - handmade and crafted by your Heavenly Father. We wonder, did you inherit daddy's dimples and double eye-lids, or did you inherit mummy's pretty face? Whatever it is, please be healthy, strong and happy inside mummy.
You mean you didn't know Olivia is coming?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Once you go black, you never go back

Homegrown fashion brand, Claudia and Chernice is back with their new and upcoming launch with signature, novel monochrome designs. Seriously, colours come and go, but the simplicity of black and white never seems out of fashion. Opening its monochromatic doors to the fashion world in 2003, Claudia and Chernice has been featured in local TV and magazines. Since then, this local brand, headed by Catherine, has offer quality clothing for those in love with the minimalistic and monochrome look.

On model: Move It Cutout Pullover

Friday, September 14, 2018

Things to do in Kenting, Taiwan (updated August 2018)

Located at the southern tip of Taiwan, Kenting is well-known for its sandy beaches, mountains,  and its relaxing atmosphere. A chat with our friendly Uber driver revealed that he used to attend party gatherings in Kenting to kao lui (fishing for girls). My wife and I? Too disqualified for that now, so we rather enjoy each other's company while we stroll along the beaches and the streets of Kenting. 

Here's what this post is going to tell you.
- Getting to Kenting
- Getting around Kenting
- What to do
- Where to stay

Friday, September 7, 2018

Things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (updated August 2018)

I have been to Taiwan a couple of times, but it was my first time venturing all the way south on my recent trip - which is gonna to be the last for at least a year. Well, because baby Olivia is coming soon in November 2018 (yay)! If you haven't been to been to Taiwan, extend your trip by two to three days and venture beyond the usual Taipei, because South Taiwan has lots to offer too!

Our initial plan was to head straight to Kenting, but the continuous 4.5h flight and 2h train ride would be too strenuous for Lady M, so we decided to stop by Kaohsiung for a day. So, if you're like us, check this post on what to do when you're in Kaohsiung!

Here's what this post is going to tell you.
- Getting to Kaohsiung
- Travelling in Kaohsiung
- What to do
- Where to stay
Cijin Island, Kaohsiung

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Jiufen Old Street 九份老街 @ Taiwan (updated August 2018)

One of the highlights of my Taiwan trip is Jiufen (Jioufen/Chiufen). But first, here's a quick, yet informative introduction which I hoped will not bore you:

Originally housed with only nine families in the 1800s, the villagers would purchase nine pieces of the same item in one reservation (hence the name, meaning nine parts/pieces) as roads were not built yet and materials were brought in mainly by ships. Located only minutes away from Jin Gua Shi (金瓜石), it was not long before someone struck gold at this rural village. Words leaked out and the village was soon swarmed with thousands of prospectors hoping to strike rich. The gold mines eventually exhausted and like its faded counterpart, Jiufen suffered the same fate.
Time passes and today, Jiufen is one of the most popular tourist attraction visited by travellers from all over the world to experience its former glory and well, its current glory of being a prosperous old street which offers nostalgic teahouses and the best Taiwanese cuisine, such as popular yam dishes, glutinous rice balls (粉圆), beef noodles, fish balls, herbal eggs, sun cakes (太陽餅) and the list goes on infinitely.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Birthday Flowers with Floral Garage Singapore

Like any other pretty things, a woman can never have too many flowers. Like most men, I always think that gifts should be practical, that’s why I gave her things that she could eat or use in her everyday life. Heads up, it doesn’t work. Most women love flowers, and if that’s what she likes, I will get her one. Occasionally.
Recently, I collaborated with Floral Garage Singapore to get some flowers for her birthday. Don’t ask how young, she’s #forever21. Here’s what I like about Floral Garage, who prides themselves on integrity, service, quality and price:

Friday, July 13, 2018

11 Things You Must Try in New Zealand

New Zealand is outrageously beautiful, the sceneries look like they are created straight out from a fairytale book. To fully explore the islands, you may need to migrate there. If you're like me, a salaried employee with limited annual leave, you'll need to strategise and maximise your time at New Zealand. Having said that, please, please, please take time to slow down your pace, and just enjoy the marvellous sceneries that New Zealand has got to offer. Remember you're not on Amazing Race. Without further ado, here's 11 things to clear from your NZ's bucket list!

Dive into the Maori culture
What's better than to immerse yourself in the beautiful culture of the indigenous Polynesian people? Head down to Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua for a cultural experience of the Maoris. If you ever saw videos of people stomping their feet and roaring with their tongues out, that's their traditional haka (war dance). Learn to dance like a local, or if you're up for it, why not get a Maori tattoo? Nah, I'm just kidding.

Friday, June 8, 2018

New Zealand 2-Week Self-Drive South Island Itinerary

Kia Ora! - I’m probably gonna start all my New Zealand blog post like this. So, we took one of the common destinations as part of our honeymoon (we did consider Turkey, just saying), and we spent a total of 4 days in the North Island and 13 days in the South Island. This country which was once inhabited by hobbits, elves and dwarves... and Maori, is a natural beauty with its gorgeous curves and peaks. It’s not difficult to understand why the Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot here.
So if you were like us who’s temporarily sick of the city life and wish to explore Mama Nature, read on for:
  1. Our full, actual itinerary (places of interests are marked in orange!)
  2. More travel tips to NZ
  3. Budget breakdown
If you know what you're in for, I'm still sure that you'll still need these essential tips (it saved our asses, and might save yours too!).

Friday, June 1, 2018

11 New Zealand Travel Tips You Wish You Knew, Seriously.

Kia Ora! If you are wondering where the hell did I disappear to (if only anyone noticed in the first place), we were in the beautiful land of New Zealand for our honeymoon for more than half-a-month. It was a same-same-but-different experience as Iceland, but just as amazing and epic. For most parts of the trip, we had a car, going on crazy road trips discovering the South Island. In fact, we just came back a few days ago, and as we are still basking in the holiday mood (yes, even when we are working), we would like to share some essential travel tips that we wished we knew that could make our lives so much better, seriously.
Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Friday, May 4, 2018

How much does it really cost to hold a wedding in Singapore? (with Tips!)

Unless you are born with a platinum spoon in your toothless mouth or you have full sponsorships, you would probably wonder the costs of a wedding at some point in your life. A year before the big day, we sat down, had our expectations penned down, and had an estimation of how much we would need for our wedding. I wouldn't kid you, our expectations were kinda different, and that night, we argued. To be honest, despite the minor heartbreaks, I wouldn't want it another way.

Here's a tip: Productive arguments are good in a relationship. Get as many expectations and values aligned with your partner way before marriage.

Months before our big day, we sat down, had slightly more idea after some research, and discussed the topic again. We had our preliminary budget worked out. "Preliminary" - because there are some items we forgot to factor and so many hidden costs, but don't worry, limpeh got you covered in this post.

As you would know, if you haven't, let me tell you - Singapore is not a cheap place to hold your fairytale wedding. An average wedding can easily cost $50-70k. I want to be careful of the word "average" here - in this case, it refers to our research results from our good friends and several online sources. Ultimately, what is "average" is largely dependant on your expectations. A wedding at a lower-end hotel or restaurant with only your close ones may cost $20-30k, while an extravagant one at a luxury hotel with your whole kampong would cost more than $100k. For this post, I share about our weddings costs.

Friday, April 13, 2018

孟想陈真 - BuddingRoots: Flowers with a Cause

As the old adage goes, flowers are a girl's best friend - no matter the age (besides diamonds and a whole lot of other stuff). While sourcing for wedding bouquets for our dear parents, we came across one of my friend's recent start-up, BuddingRoots, and the founder, Gail was kind enough to do up three really beautiful bouquets for us. Okay, if you are still wondering, why three? The three includes the groom's parents, the bride's parents, and our spiritual parents - they are our cell leaders at church and we also invited them to the tea ceremony as well. 

Long story short, they absolutely adore the flowers. Two months later, the flowers - now dried, but no less beautiful - are still displayed in the house.

I mean, what's there not to love? The flowers were of a perfect gradient, the side-kicks (aka fillers) were as gorgeous as the main flowers, and the whole arrangement was just stunning and pleasing to the eyes. Look, I am no flowers expert, but I know beautiful things when I see one. Like my wife.

I got in touch with BuddingRoots' founder, Gail to find out more.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Flowers in the Window @ Jalan Dhoby, Johor Bahru

Flowers in the Window sounds so poetic that I want to check it out. It's only on our second cafe-hopping trip in Johor Bahru that we found this cafe, which happens to be the other brainchild from the founders of Roost, Bev C and Sea & Saw and happens to sit just beside Roost. Okay, we admit, our eyes tah stamp. Being an occasional JB-cafe-hopper, I gotta admit that Jalan Dhoby and Jalan Trus still seem like a maze to me. Anyway. Opened in early 2016, Flowers in the Window has attracted many cafe-goers for two main reasons.

1. Insta-worthy ambience with dried flowers hanging everywhere.
2. It's a cafe in JB so I gotta visit if not I am gonna lose out to my hipster cafe-hopper friends.

Friday, March 16, 2018

孟想陈真 - Wedding blooms from A Better Florist

A Better Florist. Everyone knows about them, especially after last year's Valentine's Day, where orders either came out wrong or late. We were one of them, as we waited in the office when everyone had left and we were still waiting for our phantom bouquet - almost an hour after the promised delivery time. The flowers did not arrive in the end, and I was more disappointed than my ex-girlfriend (well she's my wife now). You can't blame my scepticism when A Better Florist approached me last November to write an article in exchange for a bouquet. I thought everyone deserves a second chance and I said okay (who would mind a free bouquet anyway), but honestly, asking them to sponsor my bridal bouquet is a huge step of faith.

Friday, March 9, 2018

孟想陈真 - Wedding gowns with Seletar Broadway

I'll be honest- we signed up for a wedding gown package even before I proposed. If there's one method to lock your other half in, it's this. Of course, *cough* you can always change the name or even sell the package, but let's not steer the topic.

One day, Lady M and I came across this bridal fair at Suntec, which in all honesty, we thought it was a huge bridal fair with various vendors. But uh, there was only one company - Seletar Broadway - in the space of a meeting room. "Let's just take a look", we stepped inside with an open heart as it was our virgin experience going to wedding fairs and we did not plan to sign any packages impulsively. Guess what? We did. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

孟想陈真 - Whimsical Wedding Bakes with Creme Maison Bakery

Dessert tables are getting pretty popular in the local wedding scene since God knows when. Besides the standard reception, there is always this table full of goodies screaming for attention. This makes up for the perfect excuse if mum says that you shouldn't have desserts before your meal. It's a banquet lunch mum, I will have a slice of cake, some chocolate-dipped marshmallows, cupcakes and perhaps a few macarons before lunch.

If you are looking for the perfect cake to grace your wedding dessert table, hell, this can even be your wedding cake itself - we recommend Creme Maison Bakery, a family business with a simple aim - to handcraft the tastiest cake you have ever eaten. And probably, the prettiest you would ever see too. I mean, just look at this. A two-tiered tower of goodness of earl -grey lavender painted in the colours of our wedding theme (that is, blue and white) and decorated with macarons, chocolate shards and meringue. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

孟想陈真 - Thomas' and Lydia's Fullerton Hotel Wedding (with Wedding Tips!)

It is official – we are married!

This year’s February 10 marks the day when the love of my life, aka Lady M and well, yours truly, tied the knot – after 5 months of preparation. The wedding process itself is like an FYP (final year project), one which we did most of the planning, coordinating, sourcing for ideas, decorations, food, you get the gist. Well, you may opt to get a wedding coordinator who could do most of the work for you, but we thought that it gives more meaning that we do it ourselves (just kidding – budget issues). Depending on your expectations, you may face various levels of stress. I mean, a basic wedding with minimal decoration and the standard program versus a celebrity-like wedding with all the glams and booms. Got it?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wedding Food Tasting at Fullerton Hotel

As the wedding bells are soon to ring, we are trying to check off as many to-dos' on our list, one of them which is to get our banquet food tasted. Most banquet venues offer food tasting as part of the package. This process is more important than you think, don't think of it as a free meal for 6-10 people. Think of it as a responsibility as guests will be eating the food on the actual day, so it is one of your duties to make sure that the food is up to standard. After all, Singaporeans love to eat, and after all, you don't want to serve subpar food.

Here are some general tips for your food tasting session: Take photos of the presentation. Evaluate the food. Take notes. Feedback to the chef/coordinator. Ask questions. Finalise. 
It's not the first time our family met each other, and we really thank God that everyone got along pretty well and had a great time chatting over dinner. Although the actual venue was at the main ballroom at Fullerton Hotel, the food tasting was hosted at Jade Restaurant - a really exquisite and cosy Cantonese restaurant which has been operating at Fullerton for almost a decade. It is helmed by the hotel's executive chef, Chef Leong Chee Yeng, who is also the in-charge for our wedding menu.

Friday, January 19, 2018

London Prewedding Photoshoot with JR Studio

Travelling overseas for your prewedding photoshoot seems to be "in" thing right now. Apparently, Singaporeans are too cool for Merlion, Sentosa, and Botanic Gardens. While foreigners are flying to Singapore for their photoshoot, we fly to theirs for ours. And... so did we. Everything seemed like it was planned by God himself after one of Lady M's friend gave her a Hillsong Conference UK ticket for her birthday. We planned a trip around it, managed to book a prewedding photoshoot, and even fly to Iceland for a trip. Initially, we had plans to shoot ours in Korea, with all the annyeonghasaeyo K-drama style, but that would be another cost and another story.

Searching for a prewedding photoshoot online is no easy task, this I promise, it takes extensive hours of research of whether to go with either flying a photographer over, or go with a destination photographer, or signing up with an overseas studio. I will share the pros and cons of each to better help you plan yours, which you probably are since you are reading this post until this far.

Friday, January 12, 2018

11 MUST-TRY Xi'an Street Food

Xi'an is the ancient capital of China and the start of the silk road, it happens to be also the hometown of my lovely Lady M. We were recently there in November 2017 where we met her relatives, explore the history with all the terracotta and Emperor Qin, and stuff our faces with all the mouthgasm street food. If you have not been to this beautiful part of China, here's a quick summary of the food - most are both spicy and heavy in taste. Yup, all thanks to the influence of their close neighbour a.k.a. Sichuan.

One of my favourite places in Xi'an is the Muslim Street (回民街) - the bustling food haven for both tourists and locals. Okay, maybe more for the tourists. Also translated as Muslim Quarters, this street is open from day till night, with stalls selling all sorts of Xi'an goodies in this really, really long street. 

If you're heading there, here's what you should not miss out! Oh, as with every other food street, there are plenty of stalls selling the exact same thing. Don't know which stalls to buy from? Here's a general rule - Go with the longest queue.

1. Lamb Skewers (羊肉串)

The Chinese pretty much have skewers on everything - chicken liver, beef, quail eggs, and even scorpions, but lamb skewers top the list with its herby, spicy and gamey taste. Most stalls carve the meat literally next to the stall and grill it upon ordering.