Thursday, December 31, 2015

Foodie Read 2015 and 2016

Mentioned in my post in October, I had signed up for reading challenge in the Foodie Read 2015 late this year. This challenge is organised by hosted by Vicki of I’d Rather Be Reading at the Beach. I signed up for Short-Order Cook which is for 1 to 3 books. Challenge completed as below.

Foodie Read 2015 Reading Challenge Wrap Up!

Foodie Read List

1. Nini Eat First, Talk Later

Although I have shortlist 2 more books but I have yet to complete them this year. I am almost completing one of the books but guess the review can only be done next year.

Foodie Read 2016 Reading Challenge!

Image source from host

Next year, I will be up for Pastry Chef (4-8 Books). This time it is organised by Heather from Based on a True Story. As Little One will be entering Primary One (a major milestone for my family), I am not sure whether I could handle with reading many foodie books. Still, I will try my best to do so. :)
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Exploring Neighbourhood :Telok Blangah Heights : Bread Story

This is another neighbourhood which I explored while I sent Little One for dance class. I stumbled upon this bakery because I wanted to get some bread for breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised to know that they sell the honeycomb cake! Both the white and brown version. Remembering that I had made white honeycomb cakes for Little One some years ago, so I bought the white version for her. (Just in case, she thought that the brown version looked weird  unfamiliar. ) To my surprise, she remembered it because I had not been making any since 2 years ago. We got to try the brown version a week later. I bought her into the shop to select personally. There wasn't any difference between the white and the brown but I do feel that the brown ones smell nicer! Ha~

They sell, too, some very nostalgic snacks Choi Ma Fa and Pig Ear Biscuit. What surprised me was that although we visited only once every week (it was only our 4th visit), the shop assistant recognized us and she knew we were there for the cake! 

The price is affordable. If you do not want to make honeycomb cake yourself, then head down when you in the vicinity. (There are quite a number of Chinese temples in that area) Shop address: Blk 78B, Telok Blangah Heights, #01-15.

Honeycomb cake

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Child Crafts using paper towel rolls

Merry Christmas! 
Sharing today on my blog are crafts my child did. I did not invite her to play or craft. These were made when I was busy with working with chores. She took out pom-poms, sequins, magazines, carft paper, tissue paper, pen, colour pencil and glue. I must say I am amazed and very proud of her works. 
Christmas tree


Monday, December 14, 2015

Exploring Neighbourhood :Bukit Merah - The Bakery Chef

Christmas is coming soon! I had been traveling with Little One to explore various neighbourhoods. Although we had been to quite a few of them, I could not blog about them until now. That was because I was forced to have a rather long blog break. They were numerous factors, one leading to another, which kept me super busy over this one month and the most serious was ,of course, the laptop (which I kept my precious photo) crashed.

Exploring an old neighbourhood can be quite interesting, especially when you have not been to the neighbourhood for a long time. Then, on your next visit, new development appears. I had been eyeing on this little cafe tucked in a Blk 161 Bukit Merah Central, #01-3711, Singapore, 150161 because of its beautiful cakes. The name is The Bakery Cafe. I would pass by whenever I go to Bukit Merah Public Library.. This cafe is not really new. It started business in November 2013 but it took me almost 2 years before I finally step into it in late Oct this year. So, this review is only based on what we experience that day.
We were the only one dining outside the cafe. It was full house in the cafe.
We ordered a mini rainbow cake set which came with a macaroon of choice, pistachio in this case. The cake is soft and is perfect match with the cream which taste heavenly. Probably one of the best rainbow cake I have tasted. I like the macaroon too. It is not too sweet. The coffee was decent enough too. Verdict: We will be back for the cake! 

There is a review on this cafe by Daniel Food Diary. He also mentioned that there were 2 other cafes in the vicinity. This cafe is the nearest to the library.

You may want to visit their facebook page  or their  website to find out more what they have to offer.
Bon appetite!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Preparation for P1

Amidst the confusion of filling up the administrative forms for Primary One (P1) admission, I got the book list on the spot and bought almost everything that is listed, even the optional items. The only thing I did not buy is a thumb drive. Strange enough there was not a long queue for both bookshop and the store that sells uniform.

The trip to the new school both excites and unnerves me. Little One is growing up! She is going to P1 next year! At the same time, looking at the items that were compulsory, they include earphones, markers, whiteboard and a duster, items that I never used when I was in P1. I could see that the mode of education is different from what I used to have. More advanced technology are used. The textbooks used were so very different. I wonder whether how I was taught then were outdated. I doubt my ability to assist her should she need any help for school work.

Feelings aside, I need to keep calm. Now I only have to get her a school bag, another pair of white shoes, a new water bottle, labels for her school uniform, and some basic stationery. Maybe, a lunchbox too.

Do you remember getting ready the items your children need for their formal education?
Do you have similar feelings like I do?

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Friday, November 6, 2015

(Rave Reads) Seeing Double

When the National Library Board (NLB) decided to celebrate its 20th anniversary, we are allowed to borrow 20 books per member till January next year. That means 60 books (including magazines and videos) for our family. Now that the number of loans allowed had almost triple, we realised that we borrowed extra copies more often then ever. Sometimes, we borrowed extra accidentally while others are borrowed deliberately.

Katie's London Christmas (2 books of the same title and edition)
story and pictures by James Mayhem

We borrowed 2 of these by mistake. Knowing Little One loves the Katie series, I would borrow if I laid my hands on any stories which I had not read to her. This was one of those books.

We were first introduced to James Mayhem's book when we read the Ella Bella series. Soon after, we started to read and enjoy the Katie series. James Mayhew's first children's book was Katie's Picture Show in 1989. It was one of the best introduction to art for children. A series of titles that followed introduced an artist or art movement. These series started with Grandma taking a nap while Katie explored around in the art museum. Then, she would somewhat walk into the paintings or exhibits and start interacting with the people or creatures in the pictures. James Mayhem also wrote then followed by adventures to countries like London and Scotland where sights were introduced.

Katie's London Christmas (edition 2014) seemed to the only book that does not involve Grandma. Instead, she and her brother, Jack, experienced a wonderful, amazing adventure with Father Christmas to  deliver his presents to some special places across London. Although there was only one special place (for the present delivery) mentioned in the book, a number of London's famous places were mentioned. You can also take the opportunity to learn about London if you have yet to read Katie in London. The trip was magical for both Little One and I. This book is definitely good for Christmas. The illustrations were fantastic and almost magical!

Katie and the Dinosuars (2 books of the same title but different editions)
story and pictures by James Mayhem

This is one of the other Katie title which I borrowed twice accidentally, yet again but ... but... I shall let you in a little secret. This 2 books are different editions. One in 2004 and the other in 2014, (10 years apart) Guess what? Some of the punctuation are amended for better effect. Some sentences from the old edition are omitted and replaced with new ones which made the story concise.

We are not experts of dinosaurs. In fact, the only dinosaur whose name I remember is T -Rex. These books gave us a great introduction to these "terrible lizards" as we joined Katie on her adventure in the Natural History Museum. We noted Brontosaurus (2004) became Apatosurus. (2014). I googled to see whether there was a change of name and found an interesting science fact. You may want to click here to check.

A list of dinosaurs mentioned in the books were listed on the last pages. We noted even the pronunciation for these dinosaurs seemed different. The 2004 version included the meaning of these dinosaurs whereas the 2014 version does not.

We love how Katie for being so kind-hearted to help the lost dinosaur to search for his family. The scariest part was when they met T-Rex. This story is enjoyable and definitely very suited for children who loves dinosaurs. The illustrations for the cover of both versions are different, I prefer the older one as Katie looked like she was having so much fun!

The lamb and the butterfly/ 小羊和蝴蝶 (2 different languages)
story by Arnold Sundgaard ; pictures by Eric Carle.

What would happen when a lamb meets a butterfly in the middle of a Meadow? The lamb, being kind and curious, kept asking the butterfly a lot of questions. She would like the butterfly to stay with her. Being different, the butterfly, in the end, bidded goodbye to the lamb. The lamb did not insist because she finally realised that if the butterfly did not leave, he may die. The butterfly's solitary style of living indeed is different from the lamb who loves to live in a group. She had learnt to respect and accept different ways of living.

I actually borrowed the Chinese version 小羊和蝴蝶 first. I only realised that the illustrations were by Eric Carle then, I went ahead and borrowed the English copy because I like to see what is the difference between the 2 copies. Both books have some rhythmic repetitive phrases which Little One loves to repeat with zest. We also learnt the names of different flowers in the 2 languages.

Lost in the Gardens/ Lost in the Secret Garden (2 similar titles and both are in Singapore Collection)

What is Singapore Collection? They are books that cover the history, political & economic history, literature as well as social-cultural history of Singapore.

It was a coincident that both books are about gardens in Singapore. The first one set in Gardens by the Bay while the second in Jacob Ballas Children's Garden. Both books focus on the adventures the little people are experiencing. In both books, you get to know what the gardens has to offer, especially useful if you have not been in them.

Lost in the Gardens
story and pictures by J.H. Low

Mei had waited very long for this day to visit Gardens by the Bay! However, she was soon separated from her mother. Luckily, she met Wise Wee the bear who help her search for her mom. We were given an educational tour around the Gardens. The description about the various places in the garden is appropriate.

This book has pretty charming illustrations. One look at the cover, you know instinctively the story is set in Gardens by the Bay. I particularly love the illustration of the Supertree Groves. I could also feel the heavy mood of Mei when she lost her mother. She was entirely blue and grey. Little One particularly love the look of Mom. She had a small head which is quite disproportional to her body.

The only little mistake about the book is that Mei lost her Mom at the MRT station, how did she manage to walk all the way to the Garden? She could have ended in Marina Bay Sands.

Lost in the Secret Garden
story by Adeline Foo and pictures by Miel

Written by Adeline Foo, the author of Diary of Amos Lee, which was one of the national best seller. Including this, Little One and I had read only 3 of her books. This book is part of the rainforest friends series and it was our first exposure to the series.

Ben and his family were at the park. He was put in charge of Jeremy, his younger brother, who loved to run very fast. Hence, Ben and his sister , Tessa, had to chase after him. That was how they stumbled upon a secret garden. They went on exploring the garden, which was fun with treehouse, maze and lots of flora and fauna, including Ben's favorite Camy. Although the story is set in the Children's Garden, the story did not mention so. This I find it clever because by not mentioning that in the story, it could be any park in the world. (Children's Garden is pretty famous among parents and children in Singapore. It is quite impossible for it to be secret. )

You'll get to know more about rainforest facts, learning to protect the environment and author's reflection at the back of the book.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Salted Baked Chicken -Chakey's

For those who read my review on Nini Eat First Talk Later, would know that I am on a quest to find salted baked chicken. It is rare in Singapore but I have obtained a couple of addresses to go. Here goes the first one. I do not know whether I have eaten this food but this is the first time I ate from this brand Chakey's. I am not sure whether this is Hakka's version. Anyway, just jiak (eat) lah...

After unwrapping... tadah
Look like steamed chicken with a tint of baked skin at the drumsticks and wings. I was expecting it to be crispy on the outside. Some black sauce with coarse salt pooled at the bottom of the chicken. 
Nevertheless, it was quite tasty, soft and tender, not as saltish as I thought it would be. There is a hint of herb used which somewhat reminds me of herbal chicken. The drumsticks were especially tasty. I was thinking probably I had travelled for a long time before getting the dish on the dining table (it was still hot and steamy when I requested for a takeaway) and hence the surface of the chicken was quite moist like steamed chicken. My family loved it.

The chicken were already packed as above when we arrived. The store assistant would pack the wrapped chicken together with a packet of chilli, which I thought tasted similar to that used in Yong Doufu, in a box.

There are 3 different prices, I ordered the smallest one at price of $17.50 per pack. This was enough for my family of 3. I heard there are several branches but I bought this from the Katong's branch. It's opposite 112 Katong. Address as indicated in box. (see below). 

If I try another brand of Salted Baked Chicken, I would surely blog another post on it.

P.S They only have takeaways.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rare Gallery and Lee Kong Chian Reference Library tour

As part of National Library Board's (NLB) 20th anniversary celebration, I sign for their Rare Gallery and Lee Kong Chian Reference Library tour! The tour was led by Ong Eng Chuan, who is in charge of the Rare Collection.

Named after Dr Lee Kong Chian in honour of the Lee Foundation's S$60 million donation, the reference library is the premier resource for works on or about Singapore and the region.

The Lee Kong Chian Reference Library occupies 7 storeys (Levels 7-13) at the National Library Building. The start-up collection size exceeds 530,000 print and non-print materials. It has a full range of services, such as access to electronic databases, document delivery service, reprography, microfilm and audio-visual access are available.
We were told that the library had high ceilings because it plans to expand its collection all the way to the top! I can't wait for that day to come.

We were told that all local publications has to give 2 copies to the library. One copy would be stored here and the other will be distributed to one of its branch. The reference library on the ground floor is open to public but the books here cannot be loaned out. You may want to do your reading or research here though.

I borrowed a copy of Nini Eat First Talk Later at a branch library and it was stamped with the word "GIFT" Is this the one of the copies given to the library? 

Serious researchers may want to write in to read or examine the rarer books on the upper floors, where there are individual cubicles to work in.There is a dark microfilm room with reading machines to view microfilm archives. Rare books can sometimes be accessed this way; the only reason why the actual copy is kept from just any person is because of preservation purposes.
Next we come to the Rare Collection which is normally inaccessible to the public. The materials located here are preserved under controlled temperature, humidity and light settings. The oldest book in in the Rare Collection is dated back to the 1500s.

Mr Ong elaborates on some of the collection on display.

Inheritance from the Raffles Museum and Library. Look at how these are stored in casing.
Below are some of the exhibits we saw.
Scroll addressed to Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, by the Singapore Chinese merchants on the occasion of his visit to Singapore in 1869. It was signed by several prominent business man such as Tan Kim Seng

A Malay translation of the Chinese classic"Romance of the 3 Kingdoms " These books were popular among the Straits Chinese Peranakan.

The autobiography of Munshi Abdullah Abdul Kadir – a translator employed by Raffles – which gives an account of the early days of the East India Company settlement of Singapore. Written in Jawi, his memoir is a valuable Asian account of the founding of the British settlement by one who was familiar with the British administrators.

Letter from Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles to Lord Lansdowne , displays his pride of finding the settlement

The journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, Volume VI. On display is a detailed sketch of one of our lighthouses, do you know which one is it?

Old maps, ancient books and postcards were on display
Some of these materials were exhibited in exhibitions. Eg, some of the displayed maps were on displayed in the recent Geo|Graphic: Celebrating maps and their stories exhibition which ended in July this year.I believe the library would conduct the tour again in another 5 years time to celebrate its  25th anniversary.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Have you ever looked carefully at your books? Did you noticed the threads that binds the books? I love bookbinding. 

Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets that are folded together into sections or sometimes left as a stack of individual sheets. The stack is then bound together along one edge by either sewing with thread through the folds or by a layer of flexible adhesive. 
                                                                                                             - Wikipedia

These are from The Thistle Bindery
Below are the books I bind before. 
Bookbinding is somewhat like sewing. You can try to design the spine of the book.
You can design the cover with various techniques. Let your imagination run wild. You can try spray paint or use zentangle method to draw.

Believe or not, bookbinding method can be used to do carousel books. This I learnt from another instructor. Carousel book can be opened as above or like a book like the below picture. You can create story scenes or make this into photo frames.

I have yet to slot in photos. When I get a new printer, I will do that. :)
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Foodie Read: Nini Eat First, Talk Later

For those who loves food, especially heritage food, this book, Eat First, Talk Later, is probably for you. It featured most Singapore hawker food which still survived today, such as Chicken Rice, Satay and Niang Doufu. Some food which probably had not heard off because they are already extinct. Eg Ice Ball. Some of the food, mentioned in the book, brought back memories and yearning because they are rare to find, such as Hakka Salted Baked Chicken.

Satay which was featured in the book

The story started with the Gang of Four descending from heaven, or rather storks, to embark on their gastronomic adventure. An extension of Nini in Changi Village, it is also by our local author Fanny Lai. This book focus more on food origin, recipe ,evolution of food and the conditions of the food that were prepared and served in the past. It contains the same colourful comical illustrations though.

The book also touched on Nini's genealogy. Her father was a Hakka. So naturally, Hakka food such as Mei Chai Kou Rou (Steamed pork belly with preserved mustard leaves), Niang Doufu (Braised tofu stuffed with minced meat) and Salted Baked Chicken were introduced.  The origin of these food were explored and some recipes were given but the amount of ingredients required were not indicated. Probably, due to the fact that recipes those days were passed down by word of mouth. It is a pity that my favorite Hakka dishes, such as Lei Cha and Yam Abacus Seeds were not mentioned. I think these are pretty famous and yummy Hakka dishes too. Both dishes, I must say, need pretty laborious preparation.

Leicha is believed to  be a very healthy food choice
The book also ofter an insight of  how life in Singapore was like, especially in kopitiam (coffee shop) and provision shops. Both of which are closely associated with food. People who frequent kopitiam those days were different from now. Women should not be seen in kopitiam alone then. Provision shops probably is now a dying trade in Singapore with the invasion of supermarkets. They used to be rather common in those days. Even in the 80s and 90s, they were relatively common. I remembered several such shops in my ex-neighbourhood but since the place undergo SERS development, the shops seemed to closed doors forever, not relocating any where else.
Kaya Roti (bread with kaya) and Kopi (Coffee) and soft boiled eggs are common food items that can be ordered from Kopitiam (Coffeeshop)
A small segment of the book was dedicated to Silver Sister, a self-combed lady. Self -combed ladies (Chinese ladies who vowed not to get married, many worked as domestic servants) were something of the past. From the book, I could sensed that the author was pretty attached to this character, Silver Sister.
Nasi Lemak (Coconut milk rice complete with chicken wing, fried egg, otah, ikan bilis and belachan) ,a delicious delicacy

Nonya Kuehs, (left: Tutu Kueh and  Right:Kueh Pie Ti), is one of the kuehs being featured in the book. Others are Teochew kuehs and Malay kuehs
We also learnt about evolution of food, for instance, from Ice ball to Ice kachang, and the many varieties and flavours of certain food such as Ang Ku Kueh (Some flavours comes in the form of durian, coffee and mango, of which I had never eaten or heard of before). Even the machines and appliances that were used to made these food evolved through the years.

Ice Kachang

I would suggest this book to be more suitable for primary school children because a lot more history is involved which the smaller kids may find the subject dry. Little One, a pre-schooler, prefers the first book because she thinks it is funnier. Nevertheless, she still flips through this book occasionally.
 Freshly made Chee Cheong Fun (Rice noodle roll) with Preserved Duck Egg porridge

Unlike for Little One, I find it a pretty entertaining book and allows me to know more about our food culture. To add on to that, the food mentioned makes my mouth watered. I am on a quest to look for the Salted Baked Chicken mentioned in the book. Any one who knows where to get this food, please do notify me!
Vanishing trade -street hawker

The Chinese version is available too! However, I have not got a chance to lay my hands on it yet.
Both versions are available in major book stores in Singapore.

You may want to borrow from the library
English version
Chinese version

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