DIY Beauty in a pot Collagen stock

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The hubs hasn't been in town for 3/4s of February so, yes, I've been running solo. It's tough. Real tough, but the show must go on. Emotional, my tank is empty, coz well, he calls home but mainly to talk to the kids. And when we finally have me-time to spare, our time difference makes it hard to chit chat. Not that he is much of a chatter with me anyway. So instead of wallowing in self-pity, I chose a better option. To host parties whilst he is away! Ok, honestly, i would rather him be around so that at least there is someone to help me with the dishes and rubbish. And, the scheduling of a party is usually done way before hand and so coincidentally, his trips always clashes at the last minute! So here I am, already extended the invite to friends, but there the hubby announces that he has to pack his luggage and fly (again). What do I do? Party on!

The latest party was a meaningful one. It is a celebration of 3 birthdays! A little 2 yo and two other older ones. One of whom is ME! It's great coz it wasn't planned for but happened that the dates were close hence I suggested a cake to go along. All kids love cakes right? And me, I just love celebrations! Since young till I was 21, mom had always bought me a cake from Bengawan Solo on my birthday. However ever since she knew I was in a relationship, she stopped. After I got married, she sends me text wishes, but that was it. No more double eggs with mee sua. No more Bengawan Pandan cakes. She probably thought my other half would celebrate for me. Well, she didn't get it wrong. He did. For the first couple of years at least. After a while, the novelty worn off and I don't even get a timely wish let alone a cake or a present. I had to plan my own party. Pathetic much? 

So here's the party we had over the weekend and I am specially penning this down coz many have asked me for the recipe for my collagen broth. So here goes:

  • 300g of pork ribs
  • 300 g (approximately 2) big pork bones (I did not use big bones this round due to the capacity of my pot. You can actually replace pork ribs with pork bones or vice versa)
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • a bunch of chicken feet
  • 2.5-3litres of water

If you have a bigger pot, you can add more, but my pot was small hence I had to do two batches. Yes, over 10 hours of boiling! *horrors
I basically blanched all the ingredients to get rid of the scum and simmered it for 5 hours on low heat. Yes, you heard right! 5 hours! I literally stayed up till 3am to simmer this! #toofree. Next, I turn the heat slightly higher for 2 hour or so. It's basically to make the stock more milky and have that sticky effect. It was way past my bedtime hence I kindof skipped this step. However, everything in the pot has already disintegrated and I was sure it was collagen infused.

As I boiled, I constantly scooped away the scum that surfaced. You will get a clear stock that way. Once it has been boiled, discard all the bones and let the clear stock cool before freezing them. I freeze the in small containers so that I am able to use them when cooking noodles or porridge or soups. Remember not to add salt before freezing. 

On party day, in order to make the soup sweeter and more flavourful, I added the following: corn, turnip (my secret weapon -- now you know!) and carrots. I added in the frozen stock together with these ingredients and boiled for approximately 2hours on slow fire. 

The result -- DIY 美人锅 (Beauty in a pot)

Review: Dapple -- An environmentally friendly product

Thursday, February 16, 2017

6 years ago, I became a mom. 6 years ago, I became a little more paranoid. I constantly source for safer products for the home, knowing that Big K may chew toys which she had glided on the floor or perhaps even lick her crumbs off the floor! She turns out to be an extremely cautious girl and generally very well behaved, but well, you never know! Fast forward, now, I am a mommy to two beautiful children and still on the lookout for better products for the family to minimise their exposure to harsh chemicals.

I was introduced to Dapple recently and was mighty impressed. Dapple is designed by two mothers who know exactly what it takes to clean tough baby messes. Dapple products are specially formulated for households with kids. That's us!

We tried the Dapple Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid and it lives up to expectations. It is said that it will remove milk films and odour. While most liquids may be able to remove milk films if you give the bottle a good scrub, odour is another matter altogether. I always felt that our milk bottles smelt funky. No matter how long i soak the bottle with detergent or have it filled with hot water, the smell persists. However, after using Dapple Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid, the smell was eliminated. I am truly in awe of its cleaning prowess. Being non-toxic and plant-based makes the product all the more safe. Most bottle liquids on the shelf contain artificial fragrances hence they smell good. But,  according to the Environmental Working Group, it is one of the top five allergens and can trigger asthma attacks. In addition to that, some products contain Phthalates which acts as a solvent to help fragrances last longer. This isn't good as it is an endocrine disruptor. Say what? The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood, among other things. The Dapple Baby Bottle & Dish Liquid does have a smell, but it is refreshingly scented with Apricot -- the real thing! Very light! We also tried the Lavender Bottle and Dish Liquid. A nice after wash smell. I do however prefer the Apricot probably because it reminds me of the fruit itself. Greedy me. It is also free from formaldehyde which acts as a preservative. This is an eye, nose, lung and throat irritant and what's worse, it is known to be a human carcinogen! Lately, the hubs complained that my palm is getting a little rougher, no thanks to harsh dishwashing liquids. Most contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureate Sulfate (SLES) to help disperse ingredients for easy rinsing. While this may sound good, people can get sensitised to it and it also has drying property. That explains why my hands are getting rougher! You would be also assured by its award-winning green technology which targets milk residue and uses baking soda to combat odour. It is made entirely of plant-based ingredients which makes it worth the money! Do not underestimate plant-based products as this is super-effective at cleaning our bottles! You would also be glad to know that refill packs are available for purchase. Environmentally friendly much?

The other product which tried was the Dapple Baby Laundry Detergent. Since a long time ago, we have been using powder detergent to wash our kids' clothings. I somehow feel that it isn't all that effective as we have to put quite a bit. I have been looking for a liquid which is able to do a better job. Unfortunately, I've tried several and the smell irks me. I abhor most fragrances from laundry products. Especially laundry products because we will be wearing the clothings infused with these fragrances every. single. day. So I was very glad to know that Dapple Baby Laundry Detergent is hypoallergenic and fragrance free! Great for sensitive skin! While the hypoallergenic bit doesn't seem to matter much since most of us use the washing machine to wash our clothes, it is quite critical when it comes to hand washing our clothes. I frequently have to hand wash my kids' clothings as some dyes run. As it is, the dyes from the clothing are probably not great, we wouldn't want to add oil to the fire and have our laundry products plagued with artificial colouring and fragrances. When Big K was still very young, she constantly suffered from hives. I suspect that it is due to all these harsh chemicals which she had been exposed. Knowing that Dapple products are made of plant-based ingredients and is a trusted brand of Healthy Child Healthy World puts me at ease. On top of that, no stains were seen on my clothings . You know how it is that certain laundry liquids might stain the clothes, well not Dapple. This laundry liquid is fragrance free. By that word, I initially thought the end product will still stink and probably not be as clean. However, our laundry came out smelling clean! It is so gentle and safe that it is perfect even for newborns. Dapple Baby Laundry Detergent really hits the bullseye! In addition, we need not add a whole lot. For small to medium loads, all you need is approximately 1/3 of the cap (1st bar) whilst larger loads would need approximately half of the cap (2nd bar). It is great that the transparent cap comes with indicators.

Quality assured
Dapple is an USA brand and its products are made in USA. Their products are not tested on animals and come with refill packs which saves 68% of plastic. Not only is Dapple baby-safe, it is also kind to the environment. Dapple is a trusted brand of Healthy Child Healthy World. It is also certified by the nonprofit B Lab to have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. 

Do check them out over at DearBaby. They've got a good range of products from surface care, laundry care to dish and bottle care. 
You can also follow them on Facebook

Now for more exciting news :: From now till 28 February 2017, DearBaby has kindly extended a 15% discount off all Dapple products on DearBaby webstore as well as Dearbaby at JEM. Simply enter the code " dapple15janice". Do note that for purchases online, there is a minimum order of $20. Easily hit!

Review: Ultherapy. The alternative to surgical facelift

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sometime in November 2016, I was invited by LS Aesthetic Clinic to try out a new treatment of theirs -- Ultherapy: a non-surgical, non-invasive aesthetic treatment that uses ultrasound energy to lift and tighten skin, smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, as well as stimulate the body's natural collagen production. My first thoughts were " ok, great, so someone realises that I am aging and am in dire need of help. Things are sagging and it is too obvious to ignore."

Growing up, I have never been too concerned about beauty. I never liked pink and hated frilly dresses. I gravitated towards mixing with the boys and even with female friends, we competed on who had shorter hair. Looking back, those were my benchmarks of beauty. So, to me, beauty wasn't on my priority list. Things were however hard for me, especially during my JC days when I had to deal with very bad acne which started sometime when I completed my O levels. Blame it on bad genes and a crazy mother who enjoys popping my pimples. It affected my self-esteem so much that would wallow in sadness at times. Comparisons got the better of me when I was surrounded by girls with flawless skin who were prowled upon by boys with chiselled faces. Following that, whilst I was dating, I was also subjected to ridicules by the bunch of friends my then boyfriend, now husband, was hanging out with. They were mean. So I was determined to change. However, no matter what facial I went to, it didn't reap much effects. Side effects yes, but not for the better. After marriage and kids, probably due to age, the acne situation got better. I did get occasional breakouts but they could be covered easily with concealer.  But something else changed. The wrinkles started appearing and I somehow felt gravity was being merciless on me. Becoming a mom changed my lifestyle on many fronts and one of them is beauty. I started to neglect myself as I tried to survive by the skin of my teeth each and every day. The clock will not stop ticking, and beauty is in your hands, so I jumped at this chance to try out this treatment which is probably the next best thing after plastic surgery or botox. 

How did the treatment go?

On that very day, their in-house medical director, Dr Allan Kok, an established aesthetic doctor in Singapore with more than 10 years of experience in various skin conditions, accessed my skin condition and confirmed that I am suitable for the therapy after a consultation. I was offered the lower face treatment. 

Oh no!! Wrinkles and saggy skin on the neck!

The nurses applied a topical numbing cream on my lower face and before the therapy, I was given painkillers. I initially didn't want to take them as I thought my threshold for pain should be pretty high given that I have gone through childbirth not once, but twice. BUT, I was thankful I took those painkillers! Before the treatment, Dr Kok explained to me that as the ultrasound energy is delivered, I will feel tiny amounts of energy being deposited to precise depths, indicating that the collagen-building process has been initiated. He informed that after the treatment I might have a bruised sensation for the next couple of days. Some people may even experience slight swelling for a week. All these were actually secondary. I was more concerned about the pain! He was candid about it and said that comfort level vary from person to person, but the sensation only lasts while the ultrasound energy is being delivered. Some may feel that it is an ant bite, whilst others may not. Well, nothing could be worse than giving birth right? 

Ultrasound imaging allows the doctor to see where the treatment energy will be delivered.
Photo credit:

Procedure closeup. Photo credit:

In all honesty, when the pulses were initiated on the bone area, it was painful. I wanted to bash someone up there and then. However, it was tolerable when it was initiated elsewhere. There were two stages. Dr Kok delivered the energy first at a deeper level -- 4.5mm where the muscle is situated and later at 3.0mm skin deep. This is below the epidermis and the dermis, where the fat and connective tissues are situated. Typically lasers and radio-frequency are only able to reach the dermis layer and to reach as deep as the muscle, the only other option is surgical facelift. Upon administering the second stage (3.0mm), probably due to the fact that I was already numbed, the sensation this time was really like a bunch of ants biting my chin. 

After the procedure, I could resume my normal activities immediately without having to follow any special post-treatment measures. In fact, right after my treatment, I dated the hubs. I told him I was going for a procedure similar to a facial and he was expecting to see a red-faced middle-aged woman. But, when he saw me, he was surprised and thought I did not go for any treatment. There were no redness or swelling immediately after the treatment. 

How Ultherapy treatment works?

Unlike lasers, radio-frequency and other technologies, Ultherapy bypasses the surface of the skin to deliver energy at optimal depths, temperature and precision. Also unique to Ultherapy is the use of ultrasound imaging, which allows practitioners to see the layers of tissue they are treating, ensuring energy is delivered safely and to where it will be most beneficial. 

While Ultherapy does not duplicate the results of a facelift, it's an exciting alternative for those who are not ready for surgery and for patients who wish to extend the effects of cosmetic surgery.

About Ultherapy

The Ultherapy treatment is the only non-invasive procedure U.S. FDA-cleared to lift skin not he neck, under the chin and on the eyebrow. Now, also the only non-invasive treatment to improve lines and wrinkles on the décolleté. Ultherapy can help you achieve a fresher, more youthful look from your brow to your chest! It is:

  • Non-invasive
  • No downtime
  • Builds collagen
  • Natural results
  • Single treatment
  • Safe ultrasound

Ultherapy delivers focused ultrasound energy to the same foundational layer typically addressed by surgeons during cosmetic surgery -- without cutting or disrupting the surface of the skin.

This energy initiates the body's natural response to stimulate the growth of fresh , new collagen and strengthen weak collagen. COLLAGEN! That's what every woman needs!

Some patients see an initial effect right after their treatment, but the real results appear over 2-3months as new collagen builds, gradually lifting and tightening skin.

Below are some photos I have taken since day one till now. The top left hand photo being the before-treatment photo and the bottom right photo being the most recent shot taken during Chinese New Year. I do find that the V shape face is slowly surfacing. I have naturally broad jaws and unless I break those bones or go for plastic surgery, I'm probably not gonna change much of that. However, seeing the V shape coming out is really encouraging! The skin does feel a tad tighter too even though I neglected my skin badly due to the clash with dengue. You can read it here. I was rather surprised that the skin texture is improving too despite abandoning my usual beauty regime during that one month. Even though only my lower face was treated, it feels like the collagen regeneration is spreading to my cheeks. It looks plumper. Only a single treatment is required as the collagen regeneration will continue throughout the year. Patients would usually go back yearly for followups. This is indeed an alternative to botox which I am too chicken to try.

Me thinks I am looking younger, don't you?

This was taken a few days after the treatment and I did notice a very slight swelling on one side of my face. The bashed up / muscle ache feeling on my jaws lasted for approximately 4 days.

If you think my results are too subtle (coz in the first place perhaps I don't have much sagging to begin with *denial mode), check out the below shots:

Photo credits:
Photo credits:

This new treatment has also been creating a huge buzz in the States. Hollywood stars like Real Housewife Adriana De Moura has also opted Ultherapy as a more moderate yet effective approach. 

"A more moderate approach taken by Reality Housewife Adriana De to undergo anti-aging procedures like Ultherapy, what some call 'Spanx for skin'"

Indeed, beauty is a pain in all aspects. However, no pain no gain right? The pain shall pass, but the beauty will remain :)

Prices range from $260 for an Ultherapy underage treatment to $3950 (before GST) for a Full Face and neck treatment. A steal compared to plastic surgery!
Ls Aesthetic Clinic is conveniently located at Wisma Atria Office tower. Book your appointment with them today!

Details as follows: 
435 Orchard Road #10-04
Wisma Atria Office Tower
Singapore 238877
Tel: +65 67384700

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary Lower Face Ultherapy treatment 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.

Homelearning:: Chinese New Year

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Gong Hei Fatt Choy everyone!

Ok, technically since Chinese New Year spans across 15 days, I am not too late. After the nasty clash with Dengue, I've been trying to get myself up back on my feet. After a mere 3 weeks of rest, I was back working and slowly spring cleaning the warzone. Thankfully the hubs came back from his business trip a few days before CNY and I could assign him all the menial tasks. However, I have been beating myself up for not being there for the kids. I know they particularly missed my activities so I needed to pull myself together no matter how tough it was. 

I managed to put together some activities and here's sharing with you, if you haven't already seen them on my IG account. I am glad the kids enjoyed it. It really makes everything worth it when you see their smiles. Mess, there bound to be, but joy from the kids is something which no amount of money can buy. When I see their enthusiasm, I get more motivated to do more for them. With that, I finally decided what my 2017 motto will be :: Focus on grooming my kids. Will need to stay focus in this direction coz Big K is in K2 now and boy, the pressure is so real! Several friends of hers actually transfered to other preschools as they deemed that our kindy isn't academic enough! *horrors! I do agree to a certain extent as I had initially placed Big K in this kindy as I liked their direction:: Learn through play. However, when I read that 4 in 10 preschoolers have tuition, I am beginning to panic. Firstly, I don't have the luxury of time to uber the kids around all the time. Secondly, even if I wanted, I can't seem to find any classes which are held in the mornings. They attend afternoon school you see, and most enrichment only start in the afternoon. Which is another reason why several friends of hers swopped to the morning session. So as much as I'd like to join in the hot-schooling team, I am refraining as it will incur more money and time. In addition, I would really want them to feel that learning is fun and enjoy this period. Furthermore, with my credentials, I am pretty sure I am able to teach my kids. Only problem, I'm bogged down by work and that is eating me up. It doesn't help that the hubs is travelling a whole lot. Hopefully this year I can do better and be more disciplined in the home learning sector. 

I was thinking of decorating the house and tried to involve the kids as much as I could. I tried to turn every activity into a learning opportunity. With our banner, I had initially worded it as "Year of Rooster" because I was lazy and it looked better if it were to be shorter. Guess what? Big K spotted my grammar mistake and commented "shouldn't it be Year of THE rooster mama?" Ok, Missy, I had it corrected.The other two felt crafts were put together by us as well. Some bits were a tad difficult for her hence I had to help. Through it, we were able to learn some Chinese words! Score!

Greetings is a must hence I tried to expose Big K to as many greetings as possible. I had them placed in a flashcard holder and had it standing in my study room for the longest time. Didn't have the time to execute you see. One day, I spotted her pointing to those words and reading them! WOW! I might have underestimated this girl!

Now, to conduct a home learning session is very challenging with two young kids. I tend to neglect one whilst concentrating on the other. However, the above activity was a hit and both could play. It is a sensory box filled with little CNY trinkets. For Small K, he was practicing his practical life skills by scooping and using the tweezers and for Big K, well, though she was having fun scooping the beans as well. Also, I took the opportunity to explain to her what each trinkets were and the significance of them. 

Way before CNY,  I have already started collecting toilet rolls. Usually, my children will take those rolls and turn them into a phone or a spaceship, but knowing that I needed them for a CNY craft, they started to hold back their creativity and saved them for me. The end product was a one-of-a-kind firecracker!

I was getting a tad tired (that is a major understatement!) after all the CNY visitations and had to return to work on Day 4 so this parcel from ZooMooAsia was very timely! I gave Big K instructions and she worked her way to create this paper plate chicken. She took a while, but that meant more time for me prepare lunch for them!

We had friends coming on Day 3 and I quickly whipped up this activity as all kids love playdoh. I didn't want the children to end up playing mindlessly, hence I wrote some Chinese characters and got them to place the playdoh over it. Win! They learned and had fun as well! By the end of the night, all the kiddos didn't want to leave! teehee

Stringing the gold coins. An activity inspired by @Playlexue. I managed to get these gold coins from Japan Home. They were going at 10% discount so it was a steal! This activity was great for Small K to work on his motor skills.

Printables! My favourite. This is a spatial memory game and can be reused several times. 

I bought these adorable ang bao envelopes from Taobao and they are not only cute, but perfect for my two Ks to do a matching activity!

We went out for lunch on Day 3 and often, I would bring along pens and paper for them to draw. Today, I put in a little more effort and got them to stick dot stickers on auspicious Chinese characters. They were entertained and I had my short respite. Score once again!

I managed to get the lion and dragon props from Japan Home. I had always wanted these. The kids had great fun doing the lion dance and forced us to join in the dance. We looked utterly silly but it was good fun to play with the kids. The book, recommended by @2mamas4kids, which I got from Maha Yuyi was perfect for the festival. As in the picture below, it has stickers and that, is always a hit with children. I made the papa tell the story about Nian to the kids. Small K wasn't too keen, but thankfully Big K listened. Why did papa have to read them the story? Well, coz it's in CHINESE! *Gulp

To get some of the characters imprinted in Big K's brains, I incorporated craft. She loved it and again it was a win-win situation as we could use it for our Show-and-tell!

The biggest activity has got to be this God of Fortune! Remember I had a papercup snowman for Christmas? You can recap over here. Well, I gave it a makeover and now it is my 财神爷! Hopefully he brings us prosperity! The effort wasn't solely mine as the kids helped to crush the red packets and stuffed them into the cups. Great way to build Small K's motor skills once again. I told the kids that they had to keep the house neat and tidy during Chinese New Year so that the God of Fortune will come to our house and bless us. And guess what? On day one, Big K woke up bright and early and asked me where were the presents. I was puzzled but later i realised that she thought the God of Fortune is like Santa Claus who would bring her presents. hahahaha... hmm, now I need to think of ways to recycle/ upcycle this masterpiece after CNY! Any suggestions? :P Hope everyone is enjoying this festive period! Eat more and win more!

Here's wishing all of you once again, a very Happy New Year and hope things are smooth sailing in the year of the rooster!