ithink it's a great English Resource

Sunday, November 7, 2021

By now, most of you would have completed your exams and received your results. If you did well, congratulations! If you did not, this holidays is your best chance for you to beef things up! With the pandemic still ongoing, there is a shift in learning. New platforms have sprout out overnight and several portals like Zoom, quizizz, Kahoot, Neopad have been popularised. Like it or not, self-directed learning is the trend. 

Personally, I like to balance both online and offline materials. With the advent of technology, it is inevitable that it captures more of the student’s attention. Finding a suitable assessment book is needless to say , boring and difficult. Honestly there isn’t a large array at Popular bookstore when it comes to Secondary English. And for the material to be trendy and relevant, it is far and beyond. 

Thankfully, i discovered a series of magazines published by iThink is a monthly magazine written by ex or current MOE teachers. This itself is credible enough. You are assured that the content covered are relevant and up-to-date. 

A quick glance of the ithink series will probably get you attracted. It is coloured! This seems superficial but is somewhat an important draw when compared to the mundane black-and-white publications on the shelves of bookstores.  Colours can produce a higher level of attention and is effective to increase memory performance. Psychologists have found that we are significantly better at recalling scenes, pictures and images if they are not just black and white. They believe this is because colour has a stronger appeal to the senses, prompting a better connection to parts of the brain involved with memory. Therefore, it can be concluded that colours have the tendency to capture better attention level, and thus, better memory.

On a more serious note, let me give you an insight to some of the pros in this series. The magazine covers a variety of categories. Each month, they have a new theme and I love their genre as it is very relevant. Students these days lack general knowledge so reading what’s offered will definitely give this area a boost. With the Covid situation still not easing up, it would be a while before we truly let loose and travel like before. As if clairvoyant, the team has a section called WANDERLUST which brings you to places from Pompeii to Brighton! I gained so much insight just by reading about those places. many of which I have not heard before. Ok, perhaps I am just not well-travelled enough. Covid needs to make its exit so that we can regain our wanderlust lives!


Pretty sure you have heard of the above phrase. Humans and other animals are capable of observational learning. The magazine generally starts off with a series of essays written by the knowledgeable editorial team. It covers various genres like narrative, expository, descriptive, argumentative and hybrid. If these sound alien to you, they are basically what will be tackled typically in Secondary and even Junior college. We often hear parents nagging their children to read more but what exactly to read? Well, apart for expanding their general knowledge, we should be really selective in readings at this age due to the lack of time and the fact that they are impressionable. By reading more model essays, one will tend to go in a better direction with regards to their literacy level. As cliche as it may sound but I truly believe that it improves their repertoire of vocabulary and perhaps guide them in finding their style of writing. Of course, you don’t learn it all simply by observing. In order to retain, one will need repetition. Hence, repetitive spaced-out reading will enhance one’s retention. 

HEY Listen

Another section which I really love is the listening comprehension section called HEY LISTEN. I’ve been asked several times what books to buy when it comes to listening comprehension. Honestly, there isn’t much out there at a Secondary level. In every issue, there would be an article befitting the theme, which would be used as a listening comprehension practice. The questions are over on the last few pages of the book. A quick scan of the QR code (oooo savvy!) and you’d be able to commence your exercise. Fret not if you are wondering if there are answers. There are! They are all hosted on their website (


Apart from listening comprehension, another important and fearful component for most is oral. Once again, I seem to feel there is a lack of books in this area. So glad the editorial team has covered it. They even went out of the way to have someone recite out the passage. A click on the QR code once again and you’d be hearing someone read it out loud for you in accurate English, ala BBC style. Once again, monkey see monkey do. If you listen more, you’d probably mimic the confidence exuded by the reader! The second part of the Speak up section is the true lure — conversation. This is a component where candidates engage in a discussion with the examiners on a topic based on a visual stimulus in the form of a video clip. If you think it’s easy, think again. Candidates will not be asked any questions about what people say in the video clip. Typically there is a video linked to a QR code and subsequently questions based on them. This is an excellent break from a mishmash of words. To top it off, you can also listen to their suggested response! Often students are tongue-tied because they do not have the content and can’t think of personal experiences on their toes. Listening to others would definitely help in this area. And mind you, oral takes up 20% of the pie so you should really beef up this area. 


This 66-page magazine really packs a punch. After all the articles, there are several notes under the WORKOUT section. An analysis of the various genres of essays is given. Students can also do some HIIT workouts through the comprehension and visual text exercises penned down by the team. They follow closely how a typical English paper is, covering both Non-fiction text and Fiction text. In case you aren’t familiar, this takes up 35% of the GCE O Level paper. Once again, suggested answers can be found on their website Under this section, there are also several tips on how to write a good essay or quick tips on answering techniques in some issues. 

Last but not least, one can really be self-directed using this tiny but mighty magazine. It has a section called TWEAK ME, where students are able to submit their essays for the editors to comment on and edit! If your essay is selected and published, you’d be given a token of $20! Not bad right? This could potentially kickstart your writing career! is a company which publishes English resources that will get your child to read more and do better in school. It does not only have ithink which is for the older children age around 15yo. Under its umbrella, they also have a whole range of other interesting magazines, catering to children aged 4 to 16 years old. 

Story Time for 6yo

i Magazine for 10+y

Inspire for 13+yo

ithink for 15+yo

StoryTime has great short fables written in simple but good vocabulary. It also comes with activities to engage the littles. The colourful illustrations are a plus. 

Activities in StoryTime

iMagazine is one for children age around 10years old. In addition to the articles, I like how cleverly they sneaked in relevant activities like "editing" over on the last few pages of the magazine. The topics covered are also trendy. Ranging from K-pop to content creation. To keep myself abreast with trends, I find myself immersed in the articles as well. One point to note, as with all their publications, behind every writeup, there is also a word bank section that gives the meanings to certain words which may appear alien to some students. This is notable as we all know how oblivious we can get when it comes to unfamiliar words. Very often, we are too lazy to whip up the dictionary and will simply guess its meanings. The guesswork is eliminated with this helpful section. How thoughtful of the editors!

iMagazine recognises that their readers are still young, hence a certain amount of activities is still weaved into the magazine. 

The iInspire magazine is recommended for 13+yo but I personally feel that if your child is ready, they can start reading this as early as 11yo. The reason for this is that I'm seeing a trend in schools introducing expository writings to students as young as 11yo. The genre a 11yo is exposed to is generally limited, hence, reading beyond may not be a bad idea. 

A good command of English is of paramount importance. Everything revolves around English. With the exception of second languages, English is used in every subject. Getting the right resource will ease the learning curve a little. These publications adhere to MOE’s latest guidelines and are targeted at the child’s specific level. It’s been tried and tested by many students and myself. I personally have used iThink quite extensively prior to this blog post. Cultivate the love of reading through magazines! I think it’s less intimidating than assessment books or chapter books if your child is not quite a reader yet!

Discount for my readers!

ilovereading has kindly offer a 10% on for the following publications:

1) Storytime Magazine

2) i Magazine

3) Inspire Magazine

4) iThink magazine

Simply quote MMM10%. Promo code is valid till 30 December 2021. 

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We were given copies of the magazine for review but I have been a paid user prior to this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Review: Mobile polishing & carwash with Blackantyellow Prime Detailing

Monday, August 9, 2021

Washing and polishing my car has always been a pain. I only know how to drive. I have absolutely no time and desire to leave my car at the workshop and pick it up hours later. Yes, I am that busy. Even with washing, I find turning into a 10-minute car wash (and possibly waiting for another 15minutes if it is peak season) at the petrol station a waste of time! I just want to zoom home after work to be with my children or to rest. So, most of the time, I rely on Mr rain. I thought that was good enough, but Ruihong of BlackantYellow Prime Detailing educated me that it isn't! Rainwater evaporates and leaves a layer of pollutants that damages your car's paint. Ideally, you should wash your car after it rains in order to minimize the harmful effects it brings to your car's paint. 

When BlackantYellow Prime Detailing was introduced to me, I was excited. A mobile carwash service could potentially save me a lot of time! I could simply have the car washed down by my apartment while working from home. No extra logistics are needed.  It was an eye-opener to see how well-equipped his little vehicle was. 

We started off with an assessment of my car. Part of the car has a coating from a previous polishing job approximately 2 years ago while our bonnet did not due to a replacement we made a few months ago. We were a little concerned if the existing coating would be affected should we do a polishing. I was assured that it wouldn't. There were different grades used and Ruihong, who is a certified IGL coating applicator, is well versed with them and uses good quality paint protection sealants and solutions. What is IGL you may ask? I did a quick search and here's what I found:

IGL Coatings is a multi-award winning Malaysian Technology firm based in Shah Alam focusing on developing innovative, disruptive and sustainable nanotechnology products. Redefining the coating industry, IGL Coatings pioneered in low and zero VOC ceramic coatings. 

This all sounds very environmentally friendly to me. IGL specializes in coatings for the automotive industry, marine and aviation industries. They also supply cleaning and maintenance products for various surfaces including paint, glass, metals, plastics, and fabrics. Because of its commercial grade, some of their products require accreditation, which is what Ruihong has. 

A bit of background information about this young chap. He has just graduated from a polytechnic and is trying to earn his own keep to alleviate his parents' financial burden while saving up for a part-time degree in the University. I absolutely salute the tenacity of such young individuals and think we should all #supportlocal! He has been running the business for over a year with his cousin and clocks in a good number of cars each month. His passion for cars is his drive and you can tell when he meticulously polishes your car. He has amassed enough experience from washing and grooming cars at petrol stations plus the fact that he got himself an accreditation shows that he is serious.

Back to our experience. I met up with Ruihong over at the multi-storey carpark near my mil's place since we were visiting and having dinner there. I thought we could simply leave the car there and he'd call once done. There was a washing bay where water could be collected so I thought all was good. But, alas! The tap was faulty and there was no water! Fortunately, the quick-witted Ruihong was well prepared for situations like these and suggested a no-water wash. He was going to use a no-rinse liquid for this purpose. 

The husband was a little skeptical initially. How can a no water wash be clean? A quick demo and he was convinced that it would be good enough. Probably a full wash would had been better but this was the next best. The stains were able to be removed before the actual polishing was done. 

My car had a lot of swirl marks and in particular, the handle area had a lot of nail scratches. This was all new to me. I do not even have manicured gel nails! How did those scratches surface? Bizzare. What was more bizarre was that they were removed after the polishing session! Unbelievable! See the before and after photos below: 

Amazing isn't it? So there. I've got myself a clean, polished car after 2 hours. 

So why mobile and not some big grooming center you might ask? Well besides the fact that it is convenient because he is able to do it at the sheltered carpark of your convenience or perhaps at the comfort of your home should you have a porch, the price is pretty pocket-friendly too. I did a quick comparison with our regular carwash which isn't your typical touch-and-go service at the petrol station and found that Blackantyellow's pricing is at least $50 cheaper than a brick-and-mortar grooming center. This by no means meant that the quality is compromised because what Ruihong uses isn't quite the sort of shampoos or wax you can grab from the petrol station shelf. Plus, the comparison was based on the grooming center's package prices. Something which I don't really like. Packages scare me. What if the place closes down? BlackantYellow gives me peace of mind as it is a one-time thing. 

So the next time you would like to get your car washed, polished, or fumigated, show Blackantyellow Prime Detailing some love and drop them a message for a quote. Advanced bookings are highly recommended as things can get really busy for them. 

Blackantyellow Prime Detailing FB:

Blackantyellow Prime Detailing IG:

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We are sponsored a carwash and polishing session, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Combating fatigue with Lao Xie Zhen

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

 Health is wealth. That is an old adage that I suppose many of us take for granted. 

Ever since my unfortunate incident last year, I know that it is paramount for me to put in more effort in taking care of myself. Being the matriarch of the family, I cannot be down. It is, however, not the easiest thing to do. With work and two small sidelines, ensuring that food is on the table and every other thing for the family is on point, becomes a priority. I forget about myself. It wasn't hard. I neglected myself. It wasn't hard either. We only have 24 hours and that is barely enough to do it all. Coupled with all the Heightened Alert measures, it has put a strain on me. The kids are perpetually home and the husband is bogged down by meetings after meetings. It isn't that my work came to a standstill. In fact, it's quite the contrary. Ever since the last round of Circuit breaker in Singapore where students were unable to head to school, parents have now recognised the importance of online lessons to keep their littlest occupied and nourished academically and of course to keep the adults sane. So yes, work has been piling and though on social media it looks like I've got it all covered, in reality, there are still heaps of improvements needed. 

According to UNA, women perform 66% of the world's work and produce 50% of the food but earn only 10% of the income. Thanks. This is why it's so overwhelming to be a woman. However, I have come to the realisation that I must prioritise taking care of myself everyday otherwise I can't function. Loving yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle will keep me from sinking too low on my bad days. Ok, I'm still working on that. 

One way to help make things a little easier is to take shortcuts. Yes! instead of standing in front of the stove, double boiling a bowl of chicken soup, there are several options out there. It is really ridiculous sounding to spend 2 hours or so, reducing half a pot of soup to just one bowl. That doesn't sound very productive to me. Since young, I absolutely detest the taste of those chicken essence which comes in a bottle. It was too pungent in my opinion. I had to pinch my nose to drink it. So when I found out that with the advent of technology, there is now chicken essence in a sachet, I jumped right on. To be honest, I was skeptical at first. What if it tasted just as pungent? 

Lao Xie Zhen proved me wrong. Not all chicken essence is foul-tasting! I had a go at  Lao Xie Zhen Premium Boiled Essence of Chicken last year while I was recuperating from my miscarriage. Many kind mummy friends had sent them to me to help with my wound healing. I drank it everyday and that possibly could be the reason why I managed to bounce back that quickly. It was really light and easy to drink. Lao Xie Zhen collaborated with Taiwan's largest free-range chicken farm, only 2nd generation free-range hens that are at least 12 months old, which have the highest nutritional value are used. Paired with a small amount of premium pork ribs, it further enhances the taste and nutritional content of the chicken essence. 

Some of the benefits include:

  • Combat fatigue (NEED)
  • Increase energy level (NEED)
  • Strengthen immune system (NEED)
  • Help with recuperation 
  • Help with wound healing 

More recently, with all the work-from-home arrangements, increasing energy levels and combatting fatigue are really necessary and taking  Lao Xie Zhen everyday really helps. How do you think I manage to tackle at least 3 zooms a day and cook three meals a day on top of all the chores? This definitely is a testament that something is working. Even Small K, aged 7, was also willing to drink! He has been complaining of dizziness in the morning hence I had been advised by the mother-in-law to have him drink in the morning. I like it that Lao Xie Zhen is 100% natural with no preservative and additives. Due to the un-intimidating natural colour, Small K was also open to drinking it. It really tastes different from the conventional chicken essence. It is so convenient. Just soak in hot water for 3 minutes and you are good to go! I don't even need to carve out a big pocket of time to self-love!

To make incorporate it even more into our daily lives, I have even infused it into a dish! It's really easy and here's the recipe:

Combine all marinates for 3-4 hours. Preferably overnight in the fridge. Steam at high heat for 40 minutes. Do a taste test at the last 5 minutes and season with more salt to taste if required. It's optional but you could also add cordyceps flower. 

The primary reason why I had been procrastinating when it comes to taking better care of myself is time. I attempted to buy several soup packs with the wishful thought of boiling them at some point in time. But those packs are sitting prettily in my refrigerator, mocking me every single day as it occupies a huge part of my space. Lao Xie Zhen makes it so convenient. They used Japan's patented four-layer opaque packaging and advanced sterilization sealing method to ensure the nutrients are well preserved naturally without the use of preservatives. With a long shelf life of 18 months, the product is stored at room temperature hence you can conveniently bring a sachet out anywhere! 

They have other products besides chicken essence. And if drinking all these regularly can make me as good-looking as Vivien Hsu and Aaron Kwok, I say, give it to me man!

So, make yourself a priority once in a while. You need to be taken care of because you are worth it. It is really not selfish. It is a necessity!

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We are gifted Hao Yi Kang's Lao Xie Zhen, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so. 

Reivew: Youdao (有道) Dictionary Pen Version 2

Monday, March 1, 2021

Chinese is the nemesis of many in Singapore. It is a beautiful language but sadly, there's just insufficient time to expose ourselves to the beauty of its origins. Growing up, I struggled with the language as my family spoke predominantly in English. The closest to getting myself interested was when Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai and Andy Lau graced the airwaves. I was smitten and obsessed with their songs and wanted to learn the lyrics. However, knowing the pronunciation of each character was painful, and searching up the words in a paper dictionary was agonizing.

Fast forward many decades later, with the advent of technology, dictionaries have evolved. No longer do we rely on the paper dictionary. There are now apps, reading pens and most recently discovered -- the OPTICAL YOUDAO (有道)DICTIONARY PEN!

Photo credit: @elitechinese

The Youdao (有道)dictionary pen is such an awesome invention, I wished it was available when I was taking my PSLE. 

Prior to owning it, we had a series of aids ranging from the electronic kind of dictionary (BESTA), some random reading pen bought from Taobao to the reading pen given by Berries (a local Chinese enrichment centre). 

The BESTA electronic dictionary was one recommended by our Primary school but it is sadly, the most underutilized. It is a chore to key in the word in question and as such, it has pretty much been a white elephant in our home. Big K has a huge aversion towards it. Consequently, I do not see an improvement in her comprehension where there are generally some words that are out of the syllabus. Try as I might, she simply refuses to pick up her dictionary. I don't blame her. 

When presented with the optical reading dictionary pen, she was instantly enthralled. It was love at first sight. She badgered me to allow her to bring it to school. I'm also seeing how independent she has become, reaching out the pen whenever she is attempting a composition or comprehension. A testament to the joys of using this gadget was that she discovered the use of voice recognition! How smart! Should you not know how to write a certain character, you may simply speak to the pen and the word cum definition would instantly pop up! This is way better than Google Translate, Pleco or the C-Pen, which several forums rave about.

It is able to scan and translate sentences

Did you know that Youdao is a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, which brands itself as a leading intelligent learning company in China? It also developed a neural network translation engine (有道词典)which seems to host a tonne more words than many other sources we've tried.

Below is a summary of the pros


1) AI Voice Assistance

This is a very useful feature when you wish to search up a word. But do note, your pronunciation has to be accurate lest it gives you the wrong word. However, it is said that through the high-fidelity speaker, pronunciation can be learned accurately.

2) User friendly

All you need to do is scan and translate. It is very idiot proof. 

3) Works on handwritten text

4) Reads out sentences or even paragraphs

Scans and translates multi-line or sentences fluently. It reads fast too. At 15 words per second, this definitely satisfies the need for speed.

5) Provides definition in Chinese and English

In some words, they even provide other variations and examples on how to use the word or how it is matched as a phrase. It is compatible with loads of picture books, newspapers and textbooks. All these provided the fonts are small enough. (Less than 2cm). It is also able to recognise various types of fonts. 

6) Portable

You can carry it around anywhere! Just put it in your pocket!

7) Clear audio

Unlike several other pens which made me cringe when listening to their English diction, this doesn't. It is crisp and clear.

8) Translates Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese & English words

Its translation is up to 98%

9) Shows 多音字

10) Suitable for both right and left-handers. 

It reads from left to right but has both left and right orientations.

11) Light and rechargeable using USB

After charging, one is able to use it offline for 8 hours 

12) Add words to favourites

You may add words to your favourites and revise them in the future. It has a big storage for learning.

13) Bluetooth & Type-C Connection

Connects with your Bluetooth or type-C headphones easily.

14) Sleek Design

I love how sleek it looks coupled with the colour, it's classy. I know I sound shallow but such things does affect my joy in using. 

With every technological gadget, there are bound to be some flaws. Youdao (有道)Dictionary pen is no exception. 


1) As it is made in China, for China, certain local (Singapore) phrases cannot be found. For instance, you are not able to find the phrase 巴刹 in it as over in China, they call it 市场. 

2) It can only read texts that are less than 2cm. Optimally about 1.2cm in height. Hence, it would not be compatible with several flashcards which we own. That said, at a higher level, they are generally faced with words which are small in font size.

3) When scanning a sentence, you may not know what you are looking for and accidentally scan a word or two before or after the actual phrase or sentence. Therefore, you may need a few trials to get the right characters in to make sense out of things.

4) Pronunciation may not be picked up. Big K tried saying a word or two, unfortunately her diction isn't accurate enough for the pen to pick up the correct character. I managed to breeze through. In a way, this may aid her in correcting her pronunciation. Probably a pro more than a con  if you think of it positively?

What we currently have is the Version 2. There is apparently another model Version 3 where one main difference is its interactive reading function. They have collaborated with Scholastic Inc to allow visual interactions for point reading for specific picture books! This is quite a draw for the younger kids but in my opinion, the Version 2 suffices for the general public. 

There are massive resources to tap on for the Version 3 and you may check out more about the Version 3 over here if you are keen.


It is clear that the Youdao (有道)Dictionary pen is our hot favourite of the moment. It really works for us and is igniting Big K's interest in the language. It is a huge step towards our efforts in self-directed learning. I would strongly recommend it for kids above the age of 6years old as then, they may be able to read more of the definition. It is also a great tool to have to encourage older children to read chapter books. Definitely a useful device to have to support your child's learning journey. So far, our other pens were mainly able to read only the books that are within their limited database of prescribed books. The quantum leap in technology and innovation today is undeniable. Such gadgets are a necessary evil. Being raised in a digital era, the Youdao Dictionary pen is here to stay and will gain traction and inspire many to embrace the language.

Disclaimer: All photos are property of www.themishmashmess.blogspot. We are gifted the Youdao Dictionary Pen 2, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the product. Please seek permission before reposting and give due credit when doing so.