How to host a Christmas party alone

Monday, December 26, 2016

This is the first Christmas in our new place and I had to host my first Xmas party at home even if it meant that I had to cook EVERYTHING myself! You see, the hubs was traveling. Again. The plan was for him to be around to help with the kids and the dishes, but surprise! His trip had to coincide with my party. Nothing new.

This round was with a bunch of girls whom I've known for eons. They haven't seem to change a bit since our Primary school days. Was extremely happy that two friends are pregnant and since one was craving for home cooked food, I couldn't disappoint. 

I was a little apprehensive honestly as it was a luncheon. I officially got out of bed at 10am and lunch was due to start at 1230! Horrors! Thanks to great planning and corporative kids, I managed to pull through. Here's what I managed to whip up!

Cabonara made from scratch

Enoki mushroom wrapped bacon

The crowd's favourite: Honey Garlic Salmon

Steamed seafood cake

Another crowd pleaser: Salted egg prawns

I needed veg but I really didn't have time for any elaborate stuff hence broiled broccoli with mayonnaise. My kids' fav!

Ok, I wouldn't take credit for this. Beef ribs from Cedele, bought by one of my gfs.

Another crowd favourite! Baked black pepper wings

A lovely gf got her little one to present me with this bouquet of flowers. Such a surprise! I haven't received flowers in a long long time. The hubs isn't quite a romantic person. Honestly, I think flowers are pretty expensive too. However, it is still nice to receive once in a while *hint

I wanted to catch up with the bunch but was a little worried that the kids wouldn't allow me to and with the hubs not at home, it was going to be tough. Hence, I prepared an #invitationtoplay! Decorating cardboard gingerbread house! The kids had loads of fun and I was able to catch up with the girls in peace!

Cheers to many more years of friendship!

Xmas DIY:: Do you wana build a snowman?

I know that Christmas is over but I have been mad tired and busy that I haven't had the time to pen stuff down. This is so not good! This Christmas has been the most fulfilling one in terms of family bonding as well as home learning and crafting.
I didn't want a Christmas tree this year after throwing away my tree of over 20 years. It was turning yellow and shedding and hence was high time I dumped it. Yes, I am a sentimental person though i didn't even like the person who gave it to me! haha.
We have shifted to our new place for approximately 6 months now and it was great decluttering. I was determined not to get a tree and hoard again. Sooo, lo and behold, i built a snowman!

Do you wana build a snowman?

I saw this over the Internet and was determined to get it done. So many trips to DAISO was made as i couldn't anticipate the number of cups needed. I must have used over 200 cups! To add to the hassle, not all Daiso sells the same things hence to hunt down the size of cup i needed was a bit of trouble. 
This is essentially a very easy task. Just staple one cup to the next. It will naturally form a circular shape. Only the head will be a full sphere whilst the rest are slightly bigger than a hemisphere so as to hold each layer up. The project took me only a few days and Big K helped in stapling. Great motor skill practice. Both kiddos helped in dressing up the snowman whom they now named as 'Rusty'. 

But merely having a snowman didnt seem enough hence i made some subtle decorations to the home. Am so loving this minimalistic look!
Here's sharing how we decorated our place: 

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Review & Giveaway: Cultivating reading habit at Owl Readers Club

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We love books! It's no secret! Hence when Owl Readers Club introduced themselves to us, we were exhilarated. Ok, in all honestly, we were skeptical. It may probably be one of those online bookstores which has an overwhelmingly huge host of books. Honestly, I detest those as I'm often lost and in the sea of books. Where should I start from? Which is suitable for my child?

The Club is founded by a husband and wife team who has an inquisitive little toddler. Being parents themselves enable them to understand which books are best for kids. A quick look at Owl Readers Club's website and I realised that their variety is more than decent and in fact, the books curated are stuff which are very much sort after in top 10 lists of must-reads for kids below 6years old. Think Julia Donaldson and Oliver Jeffers. One can search for books according to age group of language which makes the whole search a lot easier. Apart from curating quality children titles at reasonable prices, they organise reading-related events too, providing opportunities for book-loving families to meet up. 

Add Owl Readers Club on your FB to keep abreast of their Story-Telling Sessions. 

An event previously held at Giggles. The Dot at Giggles

What also drew me to it is also their collection of Chinese books specially curated by Jiang Meiru, owner of  Flip for Joy 乐翻天, a Singapore-based online children's bookstore, dedicated to sourcing the best Chinese books around the world. Now, I am no guru in Chinese and knowing that Meiru is a trained Chinese language teacher put me all at ease. 

So what differentiates them from other online bookstores?


1) Basic and paid members earn reward points which can be redeemed for purchases. 5 points are awarded for every $1 set. Redemption begins at 500 points which can be exchanged for $5 credit. Pretty much like the rebates credit cards love giving right? And we love such kickbacks. Sign up as a basic member for FREE and start earning reward points. You will earn 200 points simply by signing up, 50 points for writing a book review and 200 points for attending the club's events! So easy to earn! Writing reviews not only help us earn points, but help others in the community to decide on which books to get.

2) Should you wish to upgrade your subscription to a paid one, 2x reward points for every dollar spent will be extended to you, as well as 2X reward points for writing book reviews and attending book club events. To add on, you can enjoy exclusive benefits from various merchants like:

Sign up here as a basic member for free! Currently, they are having a promotion:

6-month Owl Member (Usual price $98, current promo $68)
1-year Owl Star Member (Usual price $188, current promo $98)


With the advent of technology, Owl Readers Club is set to launch their app in December and members would be able to buy books through the app as well as connect with other like-minded members, arrange book exchanges or organise book-related activities. Great way to know more friends!


Very apt as we are moving into December. 

This bundle was going for only $19.90! Cheap right?

This must be one of my favourites amongst the loot! I have always been advocating that the Gramps should speak to my kids in dialect. So far, only mom is doing that hence they can understand a small bit of Teochew. However, with Hakka being a minority, it isn't spoken that much, if any at all, amongst my in-laws. Even my hubs himself does not comprehend the dialect! So, with this book, I am hoping that they can pick up this dying dialect and hopefully be able to converse a little with the older generation in the near future!

Pssssst! Now, for some goodies! Christmas is round the corner and I've just heard, they are running a promotion! Don't say I don't share!


In addition, the people at Owl Readers Club believe that reading starts from young and would like to kickstart your love for books with a generous giveaway! 

One lucky reader will walk away with a complimentary 6-month membership (worth $98) and $25 credit to spend in their online store. All you need to do is to carry out the following:

This giveaway ends on 8th December 2016 and the winner will be contacted by Owl Readers Club. Good luck and have fun reading!

Disclaimer: We were given a complimentary annual membership and store credit points to purchase books for the purpose of this review. No additional monetary compensation was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/ services.

Big K turns 5:: A Peppa Pig Party

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Yup, it's real. The kids are growing up wayyyyy too quickly! Big K just turned 5 last week and I am thankful that i was able to organise, yet again, a small scale thematic party for her. As much as I'd like to invite more friends and excite her a little bit more, i have always kept it within the immediate family and school. Namely, it is an excuse to bring together the family who otherwise would not find time to meet up as often. As well as to thank them for all their help and support. Without a village, it would have been impossible for me to achieve this much. But also, undeniably, as much as I'd like to, pushing it to a larger scale would also break an arm and a leg! Haha

This year's theme was Peppa Pig. I love dressing up a party. I mean how many years would your kid want to celebrate their birthdays with you and for that matter dress up the entire place in Elsa and Anna or Peppa. So i really treasure this process despite it being a bit of a hassle. Unfortunately for the last couple of years, we mainly held our parties in restaurants. Particularly because the hubs did not want the fuss of cleaning up and also, our house was in a perpetual mess. It still is. But this year i insisted on doing it at home. Why? Because we have just moved in our newly renovated home! It's so nice and cozy so this is definitely my first choice! Also, often when i hold it in a restaurant, what would happen was that right after cake cutting, the fil and bil and my dad would all disappear. Fil isnt someone of great patience at the dining table and dad and the bil would head out for a puff. No one bothers eating the cake. No one bothers even waiting for the kids and i to have our cakes. In fact, it would be best if we had just blew the candles and pack up. If i were to be lucky, they would try a small slice and end up complaining that the cake was way too sweet for their palettes. It is really tiring managing everyone's requirements. 

So this year, the plan was to order a small boring cake for our home party. I had my eyes set on the pretty swiss roll baked by a certain homebaker whose business name started with J. I do not wish to point her out lest i am giving her more traffic. About a 1.5weeks before the event, I contacted her. She agreed to bake us a customised swiss roll and some nutella blossoms. A few days later, the hubs announced that he might have to fly on that date and I had to push forward things by a day. I discussed with the baker who agreed to deliver a day before. No firm timing was given till a day before she said I could collect the cake between 4-5pm that fateful day. Thinking that party would only start at 6pm, I thought i would  be in time. The day before i asked for an exact time and address as well as mobile number umpteen times but after 24hrs, there was still no response. An ominous feeling loomed. All the way till noon on party day i did not hear from her! Imagine my panic! I was tethering at my wit's end! At 245pm she finally replied my private message claiming that there was some techinical fault with her system such that she wasn't able to reply me and that she wanted to inform me that her fridge could not start up! Major horrors! I was frantic and despite not being a baker, I knew that with only an hour to delivery, it was impossible to set a cake even if her fridge was working. She requested for 10minutes and i was still hopeful. I waited but after 10minutes, it was still silence. I gave a chaser and fate was sealed, we had no cake! Immediately i spammed my resourceful mummy friends as my brain was completely busted. I couldn't think straight. Thankfully lots of ideas poured in and I finally managed to calm my nerves and get a cake from Flor Patisserie. Why didn't i think of that place earlier instead if driving aimlessly for half an hour. It is just a stone's throw away! Where was the hubs all this while? Napping away! He told me to chill even if there wasn't a cake as it wasn't Big K's actual day! Does that even matter?? A cake is a cake. What is a birthday without a cake! So anyhoots, I was just glad I made it in time and managed to get a refund after 24hrs and after persistent pestering, with me issuing a threat to report the matter to the police before she finally made the refund. She claimed she was busy running around doing deliveries. Wow! So suddenly her fridge was working the very next day? Nice. It was thereafter that several friends came forth to share that this baker has a bad name on a certain baking forum on fb! Who would have known! Especially since I engaged her after seeing an ig mummy raving about it. Just my luck i guess. 


So the above two cakes were the ones I got from Flor. They pride themselves for their Japanese-French inspired pastries. The Cocoa Royal cake was chosen coz it resembles the muddy puddle which Peppa and George love to jump on. I was hesitant to get a chocolate cake in all honesty coz we all know how sweet that would be. However, I took the risk and surprisingly, most of the guests tried! There were also hardly any comments from them except from the FIL who commented that it was sweet after chomping down 2 large slices. The second sliced cake, Bara, was a moose cake. The MIL's birthday was actually just 2 days away from Big K's hence I had to get her a little something too right? Especially when her own 3 flesh and blood do not do much (if any at all) to celebrate for her. This, despite the fact that she isn't a big fan of cakes. So I really hope she appreciates this gesture of mine!

Next, I gotten some brownie popsicles from Garden Slug. I thought it was pretty cute and got a couple. Took out one to serve as a cake to another birthday boy -- the SIL's husband. yeah, once again, I go the extra mile for these people who don't really give a hoot about birthdays. 

On decorations. This year's effort was pretty minimal. The buntings were bought from Taobao and the rest were either printables that are easily obtainable on the net, or stuff we've already have at home. I was pretty pleased with the outcome. :)

My birthday girl, all grown up. Awwwwww....

Everybody's birthday is their birthday!

Baked cheese green mussels with Thai sauce

Food packed from a nearby Zichar store. 

Cereal prawn

Claypot rice

Herbal Chicken

Food glorious. Another tricky thing with the oldies. You see, my dad is a pretty fussy person and not a very adventurous one. He only eats Chinese. My in-laws are very critical and would comment about how bad the food is instead of pouring compliments. In addition to that, we had a small crowd. Most buffets catered to a minimum of 15 pax. I was this close to taking on the task of cooking myself which THANKFULLY I did not! How would I have been able to pull off everything plus cook? So I googled around and was glad to have found Stamford Catering. They had mini party sets catered for 8-10pax! That was awesome as we were expecting a crowd of 9 adults and 2 kiddos. Perfect. The food arrived on time and the standards were more than satisfactory. The number of receptacles given plus the whole presentation was amazing! I got to keep the claypot which came with our claypot rice! As well as a wooden container which came with our Double Boiled Herbal Chicken. All these were packed in an insulated bag which again, was mine to keep! So aunty! I don't even know when I'd have a chance to use such a big bag! The quantity of food however, in the hub's opinion was a little too little for 10pax. In fact, upon unpacking, he immediately sent me down to pack extra dishes and rice! End of the day, we had leftovers. 

So that was Part one of our little celebrations. 
On to Part two -- Celebrations in school. Even though it was a mere school party, I tried to make it as pretty as possible as well. My own obsession mostly. Big K was very excited to share this day with her friends so I had to make it as memorable as possible for her right?

Starting with the all important cake. I had waited for 2 years before Susanne from LovingCreations4u agreed to bake me a cake. Our timings somehow never seemed to gel, hence the long wait. I love how she is able to turn a simple chiffon cake into a 3D creation. In addition to that, she uses natural food colourings. It was a hit with the kids and the teachers alike. Our form teacher even emailed me later to say that she overheard the teachers raving about the cake. I was initially a little worried as the kids just had a birthday cake the day before and it was the typical creamy fondant cake. You know how kids and sweets are? They are inseparable. However, the little mashmellow surprise plus the taste of the cake went well with the kids. Many asked for seconds!

I even went to the extent of dressing up my Vitagens. haha..the kids named it Peppa-gen.

This year's party packs were of minimal effort too. I always seem to be DIY-ing something for their packs but this year, they were all bought instore and put together. A lot of thought was put into it though. Like how the girls should get a pink bag and the boys a blue. I wanted the bags itself to be useful too, and was mighty happy that I managed to source for a drawstring bag. 

So that rounds up our little celebrations for my big girl. Sigh, I can't help but wish that time would freeze! Baby, may you grow up to be a fine young lady with abundance joy and wisdom! 

Happy Birthday my apple cheeks!