Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our First Visit to Istana Open House during Deepavali

I had shared that Little One had to stay at home a fortnight ago because she contacted  conjunctivitis. As she was on the stage of recovery, she could not attend her cousin's birthday party. I was pretty worried that she may not recover in time for her first performance at her annual school concert. She had been so excited about it and had showed me her dance moves everyday then. Luckily, she made a speedy recovery. To make up for the days she had to stay at home, I brought her to Istana which was having open house during Deepavali last week.

The Istana ('Palace" in Malay) was formerly known as "The Government House" during the British colonial days. It is the official residence of the President of Singapore. However, since 1959, no president nor cabinet minister lives in it.

The grounds is open to the public on a few occasions such as Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya Puasa, Labour Day, and National Day every year. You could view for announcement at the Istana webpage.

Admission to the Istana grounds is free for Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs). Other visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of $1 per person. Entrance to the grounds is via the main gate at Orchard Road. Opening hours are usually from 8.30am to 6.00pm.

The Istana was designed and built by Colonial Engineer, Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair when Singapore was under British colonial rule. Did you know the entire brickwork, exterior of plastering and most of the flooring and interior work of Government House were done by Indian convict labourers? The building had also survived the Japanese Occupation.

We went in the late afternoon. There was already a long queue outside the Istana grounds.

For Singaporeans and PRs, all you need to do is to flash your identity cards. Other visitors would have to pay and entrance fee. After which, visitors are to go through security screening. 

Area accessible to the public
Upon entering the Istana, we were greeted immediately by the swan pond. Little One loves looking at the swans. We spent quite some time here. There were plenty of dragonflies as well as some small insects flying around as we walked on the grass patch.
Then, we walked past the Centre Gate.
There is a miniature Japanese Garden.

There will be a variety of performances on the grounds during the Open House. We watched a band performance by Siglap Secondary School Band.

Istana building

For an entrance fee of $2, visitors could tour selected function rooms in the Istana building and view a special display of gifts presented to the President and the Prime Minister. However, no photography is allowed inside the building. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Posh Nosh

Well, we celebrated my hubby's birthday a couple of months ago at Nosh Restaurant & Bar a couple of months ago. It was our first time in this restaurant and we were charmed by it. To be frank, this was not the intended restaurant we wanted to go. It was the first time we explored this Rochester Park though I used to stay pretty near. We were having problems locating the intended restaurant.  He used GPS and that GPS led us here instead. Though that GPS is not working too well but we were glad we settled here. 

Nosh (meaning meal or light snack) , located at 9 Rochester Park, serves modern bistro fare in a beautiful historic black-and-white house that is set in lush green surroundings. We hesitated but stepped in nevertheless as hubby says mosquitoes were most active at evening. He feared Little One would be bitten by mozzie since she is very prone to getting mozzie bites. 

Upon entering, Little One saw a 2 seater swing near the black and white house and immediately sat on it. After some short fun, we climbed up the stairs to the reception area. We were greeted by a waiter almost immediately and was led to the air-con area. On the way, I was wowed by the romantic candle lights and lush greenery. Pretty relaxing and romantic if you ask me. Perfect as a wedding venue!

The country decor is extended indoors too. Though there is no candle lights here, the lighting is pretty soft. It is as if we are dining in someone's home at the countryside! 

Enjoying her drink
Our starters came together. After we finished these, our main dishes came together too!

Kurobuta Pork Belly - S$29.  Hubby said this is nice! Like char siew. 

Herb Roasted Chicken- S$28. Rather juicy and tender

With stuffing in it. 
Although the food is expensive (We spent about $$90+), we enjoyed ourselves very much that night with good food and laughter. The waitress who served us was very attentive. She provided kid tableware for Little One. When we were mid way through our dinner, she was kind enough to come over to enquire how the food was. She had certainly made our day too!

Operating Hours:


Tuesday – Thursday & Sundays : 6pm – 10.30pm
Fridays and Saturdays : 6pm-11pm
Last Orders for Dinner: 10pm

Saturday & Sunday: 10.30am – 2.30pm
Last Orders for Brunch: 2.15pm

Closed on Mondays

9 Rochester Park Singapore 139220 (next to Rochester Mall)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What is this plant?

Have you seen this plant? What is the name?

Looks like tissue from afar. Found next to MRT track near Bottle Tree Park
Update: During the Pasir Panjang Nursery tour, I got to know that this is commonly known as Handkerchief Tree. (Maniltoa browneoides)
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Monday, October 20, 2014


We are forced to stay at home over the last weekend. 
doing her school homework.
Little One had contacted conjunctivitis a few days ago. I noted her right eye was slightly swollen and her eyelid turned pink. She woke up from with yellowish sticky discharge in her eye. I brought her to the doctor and it was diagnosed as conjunctivitis. She was given eyedrop and a medication to stop itchiness. The medication and consultation fee cost S$40 which is rather expensive.
For 3 consecutive days, we do not see major improvement with her condition. Her eyelid remains pink and there is still yellowish discharge. Hence, she had to miss out her cousin's birthday party. She was pretty upset about this but we got her some pieces of "old school cakes" to cheer her up. I was pretty worried she would not be able to attend her school concert which is coming this week. She had been practising and is very excited about it.  Fortunately, her eye recovered today.

Little One had a bad habit of rubbing her eyes especially when she is tired. I have constantly warn her that germs would get into her eyes if she would not stop the habit. It was shown in this case that my advice had fallen into deaf ears.

Some "old school cakes" to cheer her up
Tips for Staying out of the way of conjunctivitis.
Probably, I should not say tips since I have not successfully prevented Little One from getting conjunctivitis but.conjunctivitis is contagious. These steps will prevent further spread of the germs.
  • Encourage the child to keep a good habit of not rubbing or touching the eyes with the hand. 
  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Wash discharge with clean towels. Wash the towels and your hands with warm water and soap after using.
  • Wash your bed linen and towels in hot water and detergent.
  • Don't wearing eye make-up.
  • Do not share eye make-up with anyone.
  • Wear glasses instead of contact lenses. Throw away disposable lenses and clean extended-wear lenses and all eyewear cases.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as unwashed towels and glasses.
  • Wash your hands after applying the eye drops to your eye or your child's eye.
  • Do not use eye drops that were used for an infected eye in a non-infected eye.

A night of NanYin at Kusu Island

Have you heard of the legend of Kusu Island?
There are many versions if you were to google it. The most common belief was that a giant tortoise turned itself into an island in order to save 2 drowning fishermen, a Chinese and a Malay. That was why Kusu Island had the shape of a tortoise. However, if you were to google the shape of the island now, it looks nothing like tortoise because this island had undergone reclamation.

The Singapore Heritage Festival (SHF) took place in July, the theme this year was Our Islands, Our Home. I wanted to go for Nanyin (songs from the South) at Kusu (Chinese Hokkien for Tortoise) Island. However, it was fully booked and due to the overwhelming response, additional tours was conducted in September. I was lucky enough to go after balloting.

Participants would visit the Tua Pek Kong's (Da Bo Gong) temple on the island and if they want to, they could also visit the 3 Muslim keramats on top of a hillock which was located just next to the temple. However, visitors would need to climb 152 steps to visit these Malay shrines. The night ends with a Nanyin performance, a special arrangement for SHF, by the Siong Leng Musical Association (established 1941) at the temple. This musical  performance is usually held during the Kusu pilgrimage (which occurs in the ninth lunar month)

I was truly excited when I got to know we could visit the island. It would be my first visit. My sister who had been there when she was very young, remembered getting sea sicked and vomited! Good gracious! As my husband and I would be bringing Little One along, we are naturally worried whether the same would happen to her. I tried find anti seasickness band in pharmacies but could not find any. Hence, we crossed our fingers and hope every thing would go well. I did prepare plastic bags just in case. We also brought light food to be eaten for dinner that night, another precaution for sea sickness. The journey from Singapore to Kusu Island is about 30-45min depending on the condition of the waves. We were glad that my little girl survived the ferry trip without much problem. I guess my sister could have traveled on those small and unstable boats that were used in the past.

Facts about Kusu Island
Kusu Island is about 5.6 kilometre to the south of Singapore. It was initially 1.2 ha but due to landfill and reclamation in 1975 joined it with another coral outcrop, it had increase to  8.5 ha island.

Pilgrimage to Kusu began as early as 1813, the year of Syed Abdul Rahman's death. Hence, the tradition of the pilgrimage had started before Sir Thomas Raffles arrived Singapore in 1819. When the island (known as Peak Island then) became the burial site for immigrants who died in quarantine on St. John's and Lazarus Islands in the late 19th century, many of the devotees were unhappy about the use of the sacred place as a burial ground,

It is noted no overnight stay is allowed on the island. There is no street lamp on the island.

Our trip
This is our second family trip exploring islands of Singapore. The first one was just a few days ago to Pulau Ubin.
My daughter's excited about the trip. The tag she had on is our group name. SHF utilised many guides as there  were more than 100 people on tour that night.
Cheng Ho Cruise Ship, a replica of the actual ship that Cheng Ho comes to Singapore in! It tours around the southern coast of Singapore as well as provide a landing on Kusu Island. I wish to board this instead!
This was the cruise ship we boarded. 

Welcome to Kusu Island!
A rather serene view of the island

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Junior Ballet

I had brought Little One to attend another ballet workshop at the library again. This time it is meant for 5  to 7 years old. The steps that was being taught are much difficult. Hence, this time round, I focus on listening rather than taking photos.
Basic stretching
3/4 step is being taught as well as how to leap, the ballet way

hand positions are being taught as well

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nostalgia and Retro- The Roof Top (Yik Gai Fong) 益街坊

These things are so nostalgic. I am not doing an advertisement for The Roof Top but these items simply remind me of the past.
The old phone that we used for our land line. To dial to someone, you have to put your finger on the hole featuring the first number of the telephone number (eg.4) and move it clockwise, release, and wait for it to return to the starting point before dialing the next number. 

Old fashion radio (left) and thermo flask (behind the phone)

Who had used this type of TV? When the TV is not in use, you can close the door of the cupboard. I used to grow up in a flat with tiles similar to this.

MaMa Tibit Cart which looked rather modern to me with old school favorite tidbits

Fidgeting with the telephone

Nice mirror, very Peranakan feel.


Hopscotch! Little One has yet learn to play! Would you teach your children how to play hopscotch?
PS: These series of photo was taken when Yik Gai Fong first open in Dec 2013 in City Square Mall.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

We are Sewing again

I do not know why but when I saw the princess sewing kit which was suitable for 5+ years old, I could not help but buy it. That was 1 year ago and we only started sewing 10 months ago. What I like about this kit is that it has a safety needle (Tapestry needle) and hence as a parent, one does not need to worry about the child getting pricked by a sharp sewing needle while they attempt sewing. 
The sewing kit
However, I must admit teaching the child to sew is not an easy task. Little One could not understand the needle has to go through one hole and then come back through the adjacent hole from the other side (we were doing running stitches). Little One often sew through the same hole or a few holes down the row. Sometimes, she sewed slip stitches instead. Sometimes, she did not attempt to pull the yarn all the way through the hole before attempting another stitch. Sometimes, she sewed through only 1 piece of felt instead of 2.  Hence, I ended up having to undo her work and let her try again and again.
Her progress after 1 hour of sewing. The eyes and mouth done by me as demonstration. I think the "W"s for the crown are super hard for her to sew.
Another hour of work before we call it a day. This time it is a lot more progress. Notice she pull the yarn real tight!
We continued sewing on and off the following months. Little One was not truly interested in sewing, partly because I kept pointing out her faults. She gave up after some time. It was not until she saw me sewing little stuffs such as flowers and mini stuff toys than she picked up the interest again. That was when she started to request over and over again that she wants to sew again. We even did a test sewing with sharp needle on cards.

So, we start sewing again. When the body of the princess is almost stitched up, we started to stuff the doll. I demonstrated how to do stuffing. This is the fun part and Little One truly enjoy doing this herself!
Put in the stuffing
Push the stuffing in

Using a pencil (crayon in our case) to pushing the stuffing into the 4 limbs

Seal up the head by running stitches
Ta-dah! Finally done in 10 months time! Now she has a new soft toy to play with. I am proud to say she completed 75% of the doll + dress .

Tips on teaching a young kid to sew:

1. Patience, patience and more patience
Teaching children this young is not an easy task. Loads of patience is needed as you guide them along. They would make the same mistakes repeatedly. 

2. Let them make mistakes
Making mistakes is the process of learning

3. Do not give up
Probably they would give up because it may be tedious/difficult for them but you do not give up on them. Sew in front of them, rekindle their interest. They would be amazed with your work to be willing to try again.

4. Get them something cute to sew with
Probably this should be tip no. 1. Cute stuff tends to draw their attention and hence easier to ask them to complete the task.

Report Card:-

Suitable Age Group:- 5 and above.
Difficulty level: 3/5 (Level 1 being no or little help is required, Level 5 being very difficult)
Safety level : 5/5 (Level 1 being very unsafe, Level 5 being very safe.  )
Messiness: No mess
Fun Level : 4/5 (3 for Sewing and 1 more bonus point for stuffing .)

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