Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Kungfu Kid

My boy is getting more and more active at home. Recently, he discovered the dustpan we store in the yard and before we could snatch it away from him, he was already happily playing with it - see how he was doing some pole-wielding kungfu! And he almost hit his head with it!

I can't imagine what my boy will do next!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Decluttering: Finding Clarity, Creating Inspiring Spaces

I’m on a major home decluttering and home reorganisation project.

I’ve done decluttering in the past, but often, things are good for a while and then the stuff starts to grow again. But this time, I’m determined to make sure things will not multiply quickly and the house stays organised.

Somehow, I think being a busy mom helps. With time being such a precious thing now, I don’t want to waste it going around the house looking for things, or organising them ever so often. I also don’t want to spend unnecessary money buying stuff that end up to be of no use and take up space.

Instead I want to have more time to be with my son and for myself; I want to have more space in our house; and I want to teach my child how to be organised and the only way to do this is to be a good example for him.

So far, I’ve managed to sell off some things I don’t use and while I’m not making a profit from it, I’m happy to at least have some extra ‘pocket money’. I’ve been on the project for about two months now and I don’t know how long the whole process will take. I will continue until I’m fully satisfied with the results.

But I must admit that sometimes the decluttering can be an emotional struggle. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, many things that we’ve accumulated are imbued with certain emotions or memories. So while I may be letting go of the physical objects, something is also happening on an emotional level – when the ‘junk’ is being dumped, I’m also in the process of letting go of unfulfilled dreams, fears and insecurities and it can a real challenge sometimes.

But as I continue with paring down the belongings, I felt like layers of dust being removed from my soul, and like a veil lifting off my eyes, I feel I can now move ahead with greater clarity and focus.

I recently wrote this on my Facebook:

My goal for life now: Having less stuff but living a richer life. Craving less things and learning to appreciate what I already have.

With the decluttering, I hope to create a living space that is filled only with things that are truly essential and useful; invoke positive, happy feelings; will nurture me and my family; and help us fulfill our dreams and goals.

Are you curious of what I’ve achieved so far? This is a picture of an area I had cleared. I like reading here.

This space of mine is also featured on mom blogger Corsage’s blog. You can read the post and see more photos.

I know for some people, they like having an environment filled with little mementos, but I learnt that minimalism resonates with me. I like spaces with little ‘visual noise’ and enjoy serenity and peace in the space I live in.
How about you? What kind of environment do you thrive in? What sorts of space inspire you? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Work & Entrepreneurship Series: A Pair of Enterprising Daughter and Mom

The following article was first written for and published on the website Mums@Work. It's reprinted here with permission.

Crafting a Business Out of a Hobby                                                   

From keeping her restless toddler meaningfully occupied, to weekly craft sessions for friends’ children, Adora Tan soon found herself turning an interest for developing craft activities for children into a business. Her entrepreneurial spirit has also rubbed off on her mother Fiona, who recently set up a members-only spa-booking business.

After giving birth to her daughter Poppy, Adora was a stay-home mum for about 17 months while doing freelance writing. She returned to working full-time as an assistant marketing manager but eight months later, the dedicated mum decided to stay home for good. That was when she began conducting regular craft sessions for her daughter and friends’ children.

“I really love researching on crafts and using them to reinforce certain messages to my daughter. For example, after reading books about fish, we would do a fish craft,” the 32-year-old shares. “After about a year, with some encouragement from my supportive husband, I realised that I could turn my hobby into a business.”

She officially launched her business, Buggy Bee Kids in January this year.

One unique point about her business is the use of recycled materials and items that can be easily obtained at home or from the environment in her craft sessions to inculcate the value of recycling in children and encourage them to explore their surroundings and develop an inquisitive mind.

Balancing work and family

A first-time entrepreneur, Adora mainly conducts classes when her daughter is in playschool.

“I hardly ever do work when my daughter is around. All my paperwork is done at night. It would be really ironic if I were to say "Wait, mummy needs to do some work" when I made this change to spend more time with her,” she points out.

“My family always comes first. We're lucky because my husband also has a job with a flexible schedule so we get to spend lots of time together as a family on weekdays too,” she adds.

As corporate sessions are usually held during weekends, she makes it a point to discuss it with her husband to be sure he is alright with taking care of their daughter. She would be at the session to ensure that everything kicks off well, and then leave the running to her trustworthy team.

Adora notes that having a team is necessary as her business grows. Currently, the team comprises friends, family members, or friends of either group, and they are mums or those who work with kids, such as childcare teachers. She would screen them carefully before having them onboard, as it is critical to ensuring the service is kept to a high standard.

Business development

In growing her business, word of mouth is key.

“I tell all my friends, especially those with kids. I have a Facebook page set up for Buggy Bee Kids and keep it updated. I also post ads on whatever free notice boards there are around, always pointing to my website.”

She also believes one should not be afraid to ask for help. For instance, when her business became official, she told her friends through Facebook and people she has not met for years helped spread the word along.

It also helped that she is an outgoing person and loves talking about things she’s passionate about – even if it is with people she meets for the first time.

“There were occasions where I left a craft session, said “hi” to a stranger in the lift and ended up returning to conduct sessions for her kids!”

Her marketing efforts paid off when within two months of being in business, she secured a six-month corporate contract.

Mum catches the entrepreneurial bug

Adora’s entrepreneurial fervour has also rubbed off on her mum Fiona, who founded Blue Moon Valley, a company that offers members-only spa-booking service in April this year.

Sharing on what motivated her to start the business, Fiona reveals, “I had bad experiences with a few spas where they pressured me into signing up for many things I didn’t even need.” Subsequently, she signed up with True Spa, got transferred to Subtle Senses, and then lost her money when it closed down.

She felt something was very wrong with the business model of pre-paid long-term contracts and believed consumers should not be manipulated into signing contracts.

Determined to put things right, she came up with what she thought was a win-win solution: establishing a members-only spa-booking programme where members can book services with a select group of spas.  “Consumers will then have the freedom of choice and get to enjoy the flexibility and mobility to move among the spas in the programme,” she highlights.

Running their own business has also helped mother and daughter develop a stronger bond.

“It’s great that she’s also running a business; we support each other and understand each other’s challenges,” say Adora.

“Yes, we share our experiences and ideas, and help each other out,” quips Fiona.

Future plans

Adora is enjoying every bit of what she does, and her only regret is in not having done it earlier.

“I love what I do. I love seeing the accomplishment on a child's face when he completes a craft. I love having the flexibility to work at my own pace and take on a comfortable work load and still be able to spend quality time with my daughter,” she enthuses. “Not having a boss feels really good too,” she adds with a laugh.

Going forward, she hopes to partner other like-minded mums and reach out to more kids. “I try not to reject anyone because of location. But sometimes the commuting really wears me out. If I have other mums who living all around the island, that would be great.”

Advice for Aspiring Mumpreneurs:

1. Be disciplined. Schedule your work time and family time and stick to them. Don't mix them because you probably end up getting lesser things done and feel less satisfied as well.

2. Know your priority. You may love what you do but don't forget you are doing it because of your children, so don't let your business take you away from them.

3. Believe in yourself. If you think you can or cannot do something, you are probably right.
(Think you can't do it because you are a SAHM? Why not? Didn't Stephenie Meyer, writer of the successful twilight series, write her books when she was a SAHM?)

4. Discuss with your spouse. A supportive spouse is very important, especially if your business involves working weekends and evenings. He will definitely be affected in some ways so it is only fair to talk it through with him.

Interested to share some unique bonding time with your little ones? If you are mom with a daughter between the age of 5-10, come sign up for the TWIRLY WHIRLY GIRLY PARTY organised by Buggy Bee Kids! You'll get to make home-made lip balm (how cool is that!) and vintage button mobiles. 

The event will be held on 7 October (Friday) at the double decker bus at *Scape Youth Park. Please email Adora at to register or make an enquiry.

Adora is also a mom blogger who blogs at The Gingerbread Mum. She shares about the many interesting activities that she does with her daughter, Poppy. Whenever I'm lost for ideas of what to do with my toddler, a visit to her blog will give me the much needed inspiration! 

Next week, I'll be featuring Fiona's story in building her spa-booking business. Stay tuned!

Note: If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and are now doing something you love, I would very much like to hear your story. Please email me at and share with me your experience!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My 20 Months Old Toddler - Part 2

My 20 months old toddler is an avid (over-enthusiastic) reader...

When he gets bored of his toys, he will find new things to play with...

and he enjoys experimenting with his new 'toys'...

But sometimes, he ends up spoiling them...

(if you can't tell what this is, it's actually a corkboard coaster - and it was the last one left. The others were also torn up pretty much the same way!)

While his behaviours do drive me mad at times, I still love my boy, and I love him more with each new day.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My 20 Months-Old Toddler

Kenan turned 20 months old a few days ago and as if to mark the occasion, he surprised us by saying "hello" and "bye bye"! He even learnt how to switch on the TV and use the remote control to surf channels!

However, looking back, the past one month had been quite uneventful for the little boy, as he was sick and the PD advised us to keep him away from crowded places. He ended up at home most of the time, and I thought he was more restless than usual, probably because he was getting bored. So I tried to expose him to new experiences whenever possible, such as celebrating the mid-autumn festival.

Last year he wasn't walking yet so he could only watch other kids play with lanterns. This year, we bought him a battery-operated Barney lantern and took him to the playground.

Kenan being introduced to Barney the lantern. It comes with really loud music and I decided to muffle it by placing a piece of blu tack over the speaker and it worked.

At the playground, Kenan found it more fun watching older children play with sparklers and candles!

I also tried getting him do some simple craft activities, thinking it would be more interesting than his old toys but he apparently thought otherwise. It looked as if I was forcing him into hard labour!

So when the 'confinement' was finally over and we started bringing him out again, he was as happy as a bird set free from captivity! He was running around so much and so fast, we could hardly catch up. These were the times when I wished I had given birth at a younger age. So when I spotted some joy rides, I thought it's a good way for us to get a break. And this was his first time he got a real ride! By 'real', I mean we put in the money so that the car will move.

As tired as I felt, I'm so glad Kenan's well and we can bring him out to enjoy new places and activities. Any suggestions where we could go or what we could do? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When Ex-Banker Turns Jeweller

The following article was first written for and published on the website It's reprinted here with permission.


After the birth of her son, Neetu gladly hung up her corporate suits to be a stay-at-home mom. When her boy turned two and started attending school, she felt it was opportune to explore her career options and do something meaningful with her time. Soon after, an “eureka” moment helped birth her jewellery business.

Her business idea came by chance.

“My friends always appreciated the kind of jewellery I wore at various occasions, which were gifts from my mom,” recalls Neetu Khanchandani. This interest she received for her made-in-India jewellery sparked an idea.

“I started looking for stores that provide affordable, trendy as well as authentic India-designed jewellery and came to a conclusion that this market was hardly tapped,” elaborates the 31 year-old former banker from India. Spotting the gap in the market, she felt she had chanced upon a good business opportunity and started Entice Jewellery n Accessories.

She reckoned Singapore is a good place to start her business as the wide range of jewellery, from traditional to trendy, modern pieces produced by Indian artisans can cater to the diverse customer base comprising Singaporeans and the expatriate community.

Building the Business

In the beginning, she sold her products at fairs and events. She was heartened by positive responses from customers – both locals and expatriates, and the feedback also helped her gained greater clarity about which segment of the market to target and events to participate in.

To grow the business, she ensured a proper brand image of Entice products is established. “I started putting lot of time and effort in clicking best pictures for online product catalogues, calculating the right pricing, providing good packaging and offering prompt delivery,” she reveals.

Few months later, she launched an online store. “To reach more customers, I started offering the convenience of a web store so customers can order online and I also do home deliveries island-wide,” says Neetu. Then this year, she rented a small retail space at a concept store in City Square Mall.

Meanwhile, she also started developing an online presence through Facebook and Twitter to connect with clients and give them more channels for feedback.

In fact, social media marketing is a crucial part of the business as it allows her to hold continuous dialogue with regular customers as well as prospective clients. “Through my website and Facebook page, I keep my clients updated with interesting facts about jewellery market trends, jewellery-making art and new promotional offers,” she says.

Through these efforts, she was able to create brand awareness and build a pool of regular customers in a relatively short span of time. To date, her sales have increased by more than 50% compared to last year.

No Effort is Ever Wasted

But before you think the business was smooth-sailing and easy, Neetu would tell you it’s not the case.

“Like all entrepreneurs, I had times when I felt like giving up, such as when there were a few decisions that went wrong.

She recalls those times when she would book many events and invested a lot of money in marketing yet ended up with disappointing sales. It was worse that she had left her son in the care of her husband for a whole day and they didn’t have a domestic helper then.

But she also learnt an encouraging lesson through these ‘mistakes’.

“I realized no effort and hard work goes wasted – I got leads from these events and they later contacted me for big orders,” she highlights.

She also has an interesting approach to competition. “I don’t try to fight the competition – I feel that’s waste of time and energy. Instead, I like to look at them as a source of information, improvement and motivation.”

Reflecting on what she thought are personal qualities that contributed to her business growth, she believed her ability to engage the customers, thoughtful choice of products – where each design is hand-picked from manufacturers and are not repeated to offer customers truly unique products, and the courage to experiment with new strategies and marketing trends to build a strong brand image are factors that contributed to her success.

Looking ahead, Neetu has exciting plans for her business. She is planning to establish physical presence in different parts of Singapore while at the same time expand the international market. She currently has customers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan, and hopes to reach out to potential customers in US, UK and other parts of the world.

Advice for Aspiring Mumpreneurs:

  1. Be prepared to put in lots of hard work and be patient – success takes time to build.
  2. Think about your business from customer’s perspective – satisfied customers bring more business.
  3. Dare to experiment with new ideas, new marketing concepts and new trends in social networking.


Do visit Neetu's website or Facebook page and check out the accessories. To give you a peek of her collection, I've picked some designs which I personally like, and here are the pictures:

I hope you have enjoyed this story. 
If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and are now doing something you love, I would very much like to hear your story. Please email me at and share with me your experience!

Stay tuned next week for more inspiring stories and articles on work and entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let's Talk about Work!

I know I hardly talk about my work on this blog. Part of the reason is because I’m not doing much work at this moment. After all, having a stickier-than-sticky-tape toddler at home doesn’t leave me with much time for work (guess not until he starts going school, which I’m exploring). In a way, taking on fewer projects is a sacrifice I’m making - given that I love what I do, but it’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make.

The other reason is because I’m not sure if the topic fits into the theme of this “mommy blog”. I’ve debated with myself for a while if I should write about work and career here, or should I start a new blog for that purpose.

However, as I began joining some mumpreneur networking sessions organised by Mums@Work, I hear many moms expressing their desire for better work-life balance, with some of them wanting to explore options like part-time work and even starting a home-based business.  I also have mommy friends who tell me they are envious that I can freelance and work from home.

So I realised the topic of ‘work’ is probably close to many moms’ hearts too. I hope by blogging about it, fellow moms will find some encouragement and inspiration.

But that’s not all. When it comes to the topic of work and career, I’m an advocate for pursuing your passion and doing what you love.

One of the things that make me feel really sad is when I meet people who complain about how lousy their job is or how they detest what they do, yet a few months later, they are still in the same job and complaining as much as ever. This is something I cannot fathom. We spend so many hours at work everyday, why do you want to do something that makes you feel miserable?

It’s true that sometimes we “can’t help it”, because there are mouths to feed and debts to be paid. I also know that finding a job we love won’t happen overnight. But I believe that there’s always a solution, an alternative, and we should make it a goal to find work that we love.

So whether you’re a mom trying to find better work-life balance, or someone stuck in a job you don’t like but don’t know what to do to get out of it, I hope to encourage you along in this journey towards your dream job/work and in creating a richer and more meaningful life for you and your family.

To do this, I will be starting a new series on this blog about work and entrepreneurship. As part of this new series, I will feature people who have found work-life balance; people who are pursuing their passion and doing what they love. As this is a “mommy blog”, the focus will be on moms and women.

So stay tuned. Tomorrow, you will get to read about a mom who has started her own jewellery/accessory business right in her own home.

And if you’re someone who has taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and are now doing something you enjoy, I would love to hear your story. Please email me at and share with me your experience!

Photo credit: Rosen Georgiev /

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Project Nursing Rooms: Takashimaya (Level 3)

It's been over a year since I posted my first nursing room review. Now, we hardly use the baby rooms because Kenan is no longer breastfeeding and we don't need to change his diapers as often. Even then, breastfeeding is one of those things I feel strongly about and the topic was one that I used to regularly post about, I feel I should continue with it whenever I can. So here's one more to add to the project: review of baby room at Takashimaya.

Access to the baby room is at the ladies' fashion department

We were there about a month ago and it was in the morning before the crowd arrived, so the whole place was clean and without any bad smell (which usually happen towards the end of the day).

The diapering area (pic above), which is to your left when you enter the room, is huge. There are seven changing tables  (and you can probably fit in as many strollers in that space), with a highchair, a sofa and some chairs around this area.

The breastfeeding room is located on the other side of the room (to the right of the main entrance).

The first time I used the baby room, I was there to breastfeed Kenan. I ended up being disappointed with the design of the nursing room. As I made my second visit months later, I was still disappointed as no improvements were made. Maybe my expectations have been high but given that it's Takashimaya, I sort of expected better standards.

Let me show you why I was disappointed:

The nursing room uses curtain instead of a door. Once you enter, you are immediately greeted by the armchair (or a mom breastfeeding her baby). If at this moment you think the room is only meant for one nursing mom, you are wrong!

Can you see another curtain at the side of the chair? Behind there are more 'cubicles'. Honestly, I don’t know exactly how many but from what I had observed previously, it's probably two others in there. Imagine the inconvenience in trying to access the other 'cubicles'! That's why I say the room is poorly designed. It's not a nice feeling when you're breastfeeding here, especially the one directly facing the main entrance (which I was using!) because whoever want to access the other 'cubicles' will end up disturbing you and people on the way to get water can peep in.

And speaking of water, there's both hot and cold water available. It's just next to the nursing room.

I really do wish that nursing rooms can be better designed to give breastfeeding moms greater comfort and privacy. For me, the nursing room was one of the factors I considered when deciding which malls to go to when I was still breastfeeding my boy. So we were going to Great World City quite a bit because I totally love the nursing room there. Of course, there is also one of our favourite Japanese restaurants at GWC.

So, can any moms help confirm if the Takashimaya nursing room can be used by three moms at any one time?

Cleanliness: 4/5
Amenities: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

MORE REVIEWS: Hop over to Madeline's (otherwise known as the Mad Psych Mum) blog and see more nursing room reviews, she's done a great job doing this and there are lots of accompanying photos as well!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Kaseiki Experience (KUMO Restaurant)

I know this is another food post, but being the foodie that I am, it's almost inevitable. But I don't share about every restaurant we ate in, only those I deem are worthy of mention. And this one is definitely one of those I feel should be shared.

Last month, we celebrated my hubby's birthday. Being the busy mom, I didn't have time to plan any surprises for him, and was thankful that he was understanding enough. I asked him where he would like to go for dinner. Being the great Japanese food lover that he is,  he said he's always wanted to try a kaseiki meal and suggested a restaurant he read about on a food site - KUMO.

So there we were, on a Saturday night, to try our (actually, it's 'his') first kaseiki meal. It was just the two of us, as the little one was 'grounded' due to his cough.

If you have not heard of kaseiki, it's a traditional Japanese multi-course meal that uses the freshest of seasonal ingredients. But to call it a 'meal' does not do it justice. Rather, it's a Japanese culinary art form that is meticulously prepared to ensure a perfect balance of "taste, texture, appearance and colours of food". Depending on the restaurant, a kaseiki meal can consist between six to 15 items, which will include appetiser, sashimi, a simmered dish (usually vegetables), a grilled dish, a steamed dish, a soup, rice/noodle, and dessert.

KUMO restaurant offers three sets of kaseiki meal (dinner) to choose from - Experiment (S$78), Experience (S$98) and Excitement (S$120) (prices before GST).

Hubby opted for the Experience set, and here are the dishes:

  • Ebi no Sunomono (crystal bay prawn, lady finger, seaweed “mozuku” with rice vinegar)
  • Mu-ru Gai Shinjyo (bonito soup with mussel dumpling, roasted japanese eggplant and summer yuzu)
  • Sashimi Moriawase (two types of sashimi)
  • Yakimono - Barramundi (pan-seared barramundi with water pepper vinegar “ tadezu” sauce)

  • Takiawase - Kamo Jibuni (stewed duck breast served with winter melon and japanese yam)
  • Hiyashi Somen (chilled thin wheat noodle “somen” served with mushroom, wild parsley & poached egg yolk)
  • Ice cream

The hubby was absolutely pleased with the food - the presentation is exquisite and the taste is refined; each ingredient doesn't overpower the taste of another. It's been a long while since he was so delighted with a meal, so it must be really good. I hope to be back to try the kaseiki meal myself.

As for me, having just recovered from a bad cough, I decided to go for something simple. I opted for a plate of sushi, and they served me an appetiser too:

On its menu, the 12-piece sushi platter (Sushi Moriawase S$35) was meant for two but it was just enough for me since I didn't order anything else.

By the way, I called earlier in the evening to make a reservation, and it turned out to be quite unnecessary. The restaurant was rather quiet for a Saturday night, with just about half of the tables occupied. But it suited the occasion fine, and we did enjoy the quietness rather than to be somewhere crowded and noisy.

Besides the quiet ambience, here's another reason why you might want to dine at KUMO. According to the information provided on the website, Chef Hirohashi Nobuaki received his training in the art of kaseiki with the famous Kitcho group of restaurants in Japan. Kitcho's late founder Teiichi Yuki is considered among the forefront of Kaiseki practitioners and is considered the master who made the cuisine as famous as it is today. Chef Nobu is also licensed to serve fugu, or puffer fish (which can be poisonous if not prepared properly). Apparently only the most skilled in Japan receive this certification.

Icon Village, 12 Gopeng Street, #01-58, S078877
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm & 6.30pm – 10.30pm, Monday – Saturday
Tel: 6225 8433

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm Loving this Butter Milk Toast!

I enjoy having tea (literally) with the hubby. We frequent places like Ya Kun and Toast Box where I get to enjoy a nice cup of teh si (tea with evaporated milk). Often, we will order toast to go with our drinks. Honestly, I'm not big on  toasts (kaya/peanut butter/pork floss... whatever) because I always think why pay a premium for something I can easily do at home . And for that amount, I can buy a whole loaf of bread or half a bottle of kaya or peanut butter (sounds like I'm cheapskate, I know!)

But recently, I got to try a new creation at Toast Box and fell in love with it immediately. I love it because it was delicious, and I suppose it would not be something I can easily replicate at home, given my rather poor cooking skills (suffer the hubby and kiddo).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Keep the Sparks Flying in Your Marriage – Even When You Have a Baby Now

Credit: photostock /

Since the arrival of our boy, I felt the romance slowly fizzling out from my marriage and thought we might end up a couple destined to a ‘passion-less’ relationship.

I blamed this state on the lack of sleep and time, which put me in a constantly tired mode, and made me more impatient and irritable (how sexy or attractive can such a woman be?) 

The new role of being a mom also meant that my priorities have shifted and I’m more focused on coping with the challenges of mommyhood than say, planning a romantic date with the hubby. To be honest too, between a date and some ‘me time’, I’d go for the latter. As I get inundated with endless caregiving tasks every single day, I felt as if I’m losing myself. Having some ‘me time’ allows me to get in touch with who I am and find my balance again.

The poor hubby was also at the receiving end as I complained, perhaps more often than before our boy arrived, about his lack of sweet gestures, despite knowing that he’s not the romantic type. In my crabby state, I had looked to him for some pampering and little surprises to perk me up, and when I found none, I got upset. But I had forgotten that like me, he’s probably stretched and tired too.

But something happened during this long weekend that got us out of the ‘romance rut’ and brought some sparks back to our marriage. It also gave me some insights into romance after a baby.


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