Chinese New Year Photography Tips

Every mother wants to hold on to beautiful memories and lest they forget each milestone, mothers are now equipped with a camera on hand to capture those precious moments. It doesn’t really matter if you are using a camera phone or a DSLR, as long as you have a camera, these tips will help boost your Like count in Instagram or Facebook this Chinese New Year! For all you know, you might master soft skills in photography after much practice that are good enough to pass off as a professional shot! I am no professional. Just a mother to another mother. Have fun!

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A vase of pussy willows or just some splashes of reds can make a very appropriate scene at home for some photography fun. However, remember to pack the house up first! Put away all scattered toys and unfolded laundry in their respective baskets before shooting!

Placing your focus on Chinese New Year decorations will make great collages. To make them pop, use photo editing functions to brighten the background and saturate the colours.

Set the mood right by dressing them in traditional attires. It is often a tall order to get both children smiling brightly for you and if you have two very young children, they may run (or crawl) away from your frame a thousand times. Prepare bribes like juices and play Peek-A-Boo over and over again to get their attention!

Throw in some Chinese New Year related toys or props and you might get the perfect studio-like shot for keeps! Or a silly one just like this.

Your subjects do not necessarily have to be looking at you. In fact, it’s often better if they don’t. They could be laughing, jumping or twirling. Whatever it is, unposed shots often bring about more feel to the picture.

Photographing the tossing of Yu Sheng seems to be the favourite shot of all times! The motion, the chopsticks and the flying strips of carrots will often blur the picture. Do not fret! Many a times, these blurred pictures tell a whole lot more to the story than you think. So stop deleting them and keep them this time.

Besides oranges, great looking children and feasts, red packets are the essence to Chinese New Year. Photograph the pretty packets you’ve collected or bought but do not forget the physical money and the blessings you’ve written to your loved ones too. They add significance to the picture. If you have a traditional calendar, throw it into the frame with the current date of shot.

Hey Mommy! Don’t forget to be part of the photographs as well. Choose a spot you think best depict a prosperous Chinese New Year, frame it for that passer-by, make your kid laugh while you stay smiley for the camera. Wa La!

Here’s sharing some photography apps I use on the computer and iPhone. Click links to learn more about them.

1. FX Photo Studio
2. Phonto
3. Smilebox
4. Moldiv
5. 中国风相机

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A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

Grooming Men for Greatness

This is the hubby-after-children: 
“Call me unromantic but Valentine’s Day is one big commercialised ploy to make you spend unreasonably!” 
It is largely true and the practical side of me totally agree with him! When wives receive presents, we go, “Awww.. you shouldn’t spend. Flowers too expensive!” and when we do not receive anything, we go, “Aiya, every day is Valentine’s Day when we are together.”

Both are excuses! Truth be told, which woman wouldn’t be swooned over bouquets and ribbons? Anyway, please remember (not like you don’t already know) that men take our words literally. You will probably end up with nothing for a very long while if you said “How much? WAH SO EXPENSIVE!”. Like it or not, he took the effort to spice up your relationship so a simple “Thank You” would bump his manly ego up and you never know, he might even outdo himself the next year! 

I am very appreciative of him splurging on me this Valentine’s Day because he swore never to buy me flowers again!  

I love surprises and he hates them. Still, I cannot resist making secret arrangements on special occasions. I told him to keep himself free from 4pm and I took the driver’s seat. He grumbled, “Oh No! Where are we going? I do not want to do anything on my own and it’s not a hair cut right? Argh I hate surprises.”
[Laughing in Shock]
How in the world did he guess about the hair cut?
I dropped him off at 9 Ann Siang Road for a pampering session. I was apologetic he had to do this on his own, without me, but hey! I booked him in with Truefitt & Hill for an exceptional experience of a head massage and haircut! Established in 1805, they maintain the world’s oldest barbershop and are barbers and Royal Warrant holders to H.R.H., The Duke of Edinburgh. My man deserves the best and  a pampering session to unwind is just what he needs right now. Peace from his wife and children. Eeks! At least that’s what I THINK he needed.

Thanks to my dad and Pat for offering babysitting services, we get to have a Valentine’s Day date night! Meyer’s all handsomely groomed for our dinner with Truefitt & Hill and ooo he smelt so good!

The parlour is so English, I felt like we were transported to a barber shop on Bond Street. Not only do they provide grooming for men, they can nicely handle a good cut for your little boy. Do consider Truefitt & Hill for a father and son session  this Father’s Day!

It is a pity we didn’t get booked in for the traditional wet shave because Mr Yang shaved himself clean this morning. It would have been a refreshing experience. Services at Trufitt & Hill include shaves, beard trims, massages, manicures, pedicures, waxing, hair cuts and colouring. Enjoy your session with them if you want your man to come out looking spiffy!

So did I get it right? Was this what Meyer needed for a present? I think not! 

He said, “oooo I have a long list of wants and driving a Lamborghini for a day is one!”
[Mommy sweats]

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A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

GIVEAWAY: 金发姑娘和三只熊

EDIT 24.2.15: Congratulations Eileen Khoo! You have both won yourself a pair of tickets tot he musical! 


我看到好多父母在华文补习班外面,一见到孩子就问,”How’s your class? What did you learn today?” 糟了! 我也一样!应该提醒自己用华语问,“今天学了什么呀?有什么有趣的可以教教妈妈!” 我们送孩子进华文补习班希望能加强他们的兴趣 (和成绩),自己又不用中文更他们沟通。太矛盾了!妈妈我多么的不喜欢中文,现在正在努力着读华文书,听华文儿歌,学新的字。华文字典变成了我的好朋友哦。

说到这儿,让我来介绍一个很有趣的音乐舞台剧. 他叫《金发姑娘和三只熊》。大家应该对这童话很有影像吧。迷路了的金发姑娘未经允许就进入了熊的房子,她尝了三只碗里的粥,试了三把椅子,又在三张床上躺了躺,最后决定小碗里的粥最可口,小椅子坐着最舒服,小床上躺着最惬意,因为那是最适合她的,不大不小刚刚好。

《金发姑娘和三只熊》提醒儿童观众,不要乱碰别人的财物,否则就要承担后果。 如果你喜欢之前的英语版,就别错过观赏这次的演出,让这部长青经典作品带领你的孩子走一段精彩的华语之旅。

 • 营造孩子接触华语或想要更好掌握华文的学习环境。
• 让孩子知道,随处游荡会造成危险后果,同时教导孩子要尊重他人财物。 

不过,听华文版的《金发姑娘和三只熊》还是第一次呢。我会带儿子去看这场音乐舞台剧。心里有一点优柔寡断 - 不知他会听得懂吗。但是,不尝试就不知道吗对吗?

你呢? 要不要带孩子们一起去这个演出呀?我们有张票要送给你!比赛最后期限就在除夕夜!别等了!



-: Like A Little Million Echoes
二:Like Singapore Repertory Theatre
三:在你的 Facebook 分享这篇博客条目,说  “《金发姑娘和三只熊》赞 
四:用华文在 A Little Million Echoes Facebook 发言你会带谁去,然后跟大家说你如何把华语带进家中。

地点:DBS Arts Centre – Home of SRT

Oh My! I did it in Mandarin! Do you understand what just happened? Yes I’ve got a giveaway for Goldilocks and the Three Bears on March 15th 2015! It will be in Mandarin and what a great exposure this would be for the children [and many potato parents]. I must say, Google Translate ROCKS! I wouldn’t have gotten this penned down without its help. I’ve learnt quite a handful of new Mandarin words from it and probably used certain words inappropriately too. So if you need to correct me, PLEASE DO!

You’ve gotta bookmark this link. It’s the future of Chinese-English dictionary. Good Luck Folks! I am excited to read your entries! In Mandarin please…

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A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

GIVEAWAY: Mothers en Vogue

EDIT 15.2.15: Congratulations Jaime Chan! You have both won yourself set of mother and daughter Rosette Bourbon!

Nursing is a big part of my life now and the chunk of nursing I hate most is, dressing down. My pretty dresses hang in the closet looking forlorn. When I run my fingers through them, I whispered, “One day, you will come out to play. I’m sorry you do not have a buttoned front.”

Thanking the stars above, the fashion scene is changing now! Designers are hearing the cries of pregnant and nursing moms. We can now look like trend-setters with a baby in tow. Away with those loose unattractive tops which make us look frumpy, we now have Mothers en Vogue (MEV). 

Founded in 2003, MEV was born out of a conviction that nursing mothers and mothers-to-be deserve clothing which is not only fashionable but also comfortable and high in quality. There are a whole lot of nursing retailers in our market but I am blown away by MEV‘s innovative nursing construction. 
We played dress-up with this grey snake skin print. I believe that mom and tot fashionableness is attained when outfits are not too coordinated nor too different. I am not the kind of mom who goes for the ultra-matched (“matchy-matchy”) but happy to hit the streets with Faye in anything that are moderately matched. Coordinated apparels make us look like we belonged to one another and they do make lovely pictures. However, I always make sure we don’t look like photocopies of one another. 
Now peel your eyes away from joyful Faye and look for my nursing access. Can you find it?This dress features two zip fronts to conceal an underlying camisole (my own) for discreet nursing. Not only is it a comfortable piece, it makes nursing fuss-free as well. *haha* Can you imagine the shocked looks on the everyone’s faces when they see me go Zip and Pop? Yes, I am one of those moms who nurses openly wherever I am even at wedding dinners and their outfits allow me to do so without embarrassing anyone with bare breasts.

Our outfits got us into the limelight wherever we go. Passer-bys stopped at their tracks to play with Faye, strangers told us how much we stood out in the crowd and mothers couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw Faye suckling inconspicuously from this trendy number.

May I entice mommies with twins? With two zip fronts, what a breeze this would make for tandem nursing!

MEV‘s Bourbon Rosettee is my all-time favourite for a casual [or can even be dressy depending on styling] day out. It is one of their perennial styles, featuring the same corsage of flowers trailing over one shoulder. We are wearing the white Bourbon Rosettes that I’ve styled us ready for Chinese New Year! We have four days of visiting this year and it is important to dress comfortably, especially when we are needed to nurse on-the-go.

How do you succeed in looking identical, yet unalike? Don on different bottoms!

Constructed with neckline–access, I can conveniently pull my top downwards to nurse, while an inner chest lining functions as a modesty cover. It is designed so cleverly, it does not look any way like a nursing top. I love the longevity in MEV‘s designs. Not only are they wearable during maternity, it is styled for nursing and post delivery. I do see myself wearing these pieces even after I stop nursing Faye unlike other nursing wears that are loose and unflattering.

Faye is 8 months old and wearing size 6-12 months. They come in sizes 0-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-24 months. Mommy is wearing XS and the adult wear ranges from XS to XL. All photographs and styling are mommy’s own.

Mothers en Vogue is giving one pair of Bourbon Rosettee to a lucky mom and tot worth S$92.80!  Not only that! You will also be able to choose the colour of your choice: Teal, Almost Apricot and White.

Steps to win the Facebook giveaway: 
1) like A Million Little Echoes Facebook page 
2) like MEV Global Facebook page 
4) like and share the Facebook post with 

“Mothers en Vogue empowers moms around the world with the confidence to embrace breastfeeding.”

5) leave your email address in the Facebook comment with the colour of your choice!

Giveaway ends on 13 February 2015, 2359 hours. Remember to set your share to Public!

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A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

A Red Packet Firecracker

It is time of the year once again where the pre-school requests Chinese New Year crafts be submitted to adorn its premise. Last year, our parent-and-child assignment was Chinese lanterns. I recall a panicky me because I have not been crafting for a very long time. Well, never made a lantern before in fact! Thankfully, we pulled it off and got a decent lantern up on his classroom’s door. Check out our tutorial.

This year, we were encouraged to bring anything that shouts Chinese New Year! What a wide spectrum! I wanted to test my abilities and decided against another red packet lantern. How about fusing our own Chinese New Year firecrackers to welcome the new year and ward off evil spirits? Sounds easy enough with the use of empty toilet rolls that daddy had been collecting the whole of 2014! They have finally come to good use.

From Pinterest, I picked up several ideas on goat-crafting and had our own versions made to incorporate into our lot of firecrackers.

Tools to craft ONE lot of firecrackers:
1 pair of Scissors
1 roll of Yarn
1 tube of Glue
1 bunch of Cotton Pads/Balls
1 Marker
4 Red Packets
10 tubes of  empty Toilet Rolls

Select 4 red packets and lay out your tools

Cut open the 4 red packets

Now you have 8 red packet coverings for the firecrackers

Roll and glue each red packet onto a tube

Repeat steps for 8 tubes of toilet rolls

Fluff up cotton pads or balls

Paste the cotton on a tube to form the Goat’s hair and beard

Use the remaining red packets to draw out the Goat’s ears and horns

Glue the Goat’s ears and horns accordingly

Cut out circles for the Goat’s eyes

Glue the Goat’s eyes and mark out its pupils and face

Repeat steps to make your desired number of Goats

Lay your firecrackers out, alternating designs

Thread through the punched holes of your first firecracker 
and push it to the middle of the string

Keep it in place with a simple knot

Add a second firecracker securing with a loose single knot
Add a third firecracker so it sits on the opposite side
Repeat with the remaining firecrackers alternating sides

Tada! You have it!

17 steps to complete your unique home-made firecrackers. Coincidentally, we took the same number of steps for our Red Packet Lantern tutorial last year!
Unfortunately, Ewan played no role in the making of our supposed Chinese New Year craftwork except to pose for this picture in return for a packet of fruit punch. I’ve put aside cut-outs (goat’s ears, horns, eyes and beards) for him to paste and really, that’s all my two year old can manage. Mommy had to roll, cut, draw and string. That said, I had fun today and secretly pleased with the outcome! 
I went on to my second lot of firecrackers to finish up the rest of Lexus’ very pretty ang bao juah. The second batch is gold and does not stand out as much as the traditional red. Nevertheless, they make a cute prop for photo keepsakes.

The Ultimate FacePalm Comment
Ewan: Oh Mommy Mommy! Look at that cute reindeer!

I take it that he has less encounters with goats than reindeers. Sounds weird but it’s true! We saw many toy reindeers last Christmas! *teeheehee*

A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

"Xing Fu" Begins at Home

Chinese New Year home decorations on full swing this year! I sure am glad I have the house ready to usher in the year of the Goat. No rushing and pushing in Chinatown or thinking day and night about what other ornaments I need as fillers. My hard work was paid off when Ewan came home from school and announced, “Wow! So Nice!”
Do Plum Blossoms and Pussy Willows look good together in one vase? Well, we wouldn’t know until we try! I was going to display the Pussy Willows and Plum Blossoms separately but I could not find a right spot in the house for two vases. Slowly, I put one stalk of Plum Blossom at a time into the Pussy Willow vase and hey! It looks prosperous doesn’t it?

Flowers represent new growth after the long winter and when flowers start to bloom, it signify life and good fortune. Putting together a spray of Plum Blossoms marks courage and hope. Our Pussy Willow is sprouting new shoots and leaves day by day and I am excited to see it in full bloom in a couple of weeks!

Artificial Plum Blossoms from John Little: S$2.90 per stalk

Real Pussy Willows from Ikea: S$8.90 per bunch

Traditions say, “To bring forth good wealth, health and love. Hang symbols of good fortunes on its branches.” I thought about DIY-ing paper cranes, tying red ribbons and hanging mystic knot tassels. Then Metro and Robinson’s collection of hanging ornaments caught my heart. I couldn’t say no to these adorable fabric sewn zodiac signs and bought the animals that symbolised our little family. Each of them comes with a bell that rings the sound of happiness when my children give the branches a tug. 

They are not going to deck the plant up very much so I do need more hanging ornaments! Check these fusion twist of mandarin words out! Aren’t they looking voguish yet carrying the importance of Chinese good fortunes in its characters? They come in green, pink, blue, yellow and red. Daddy chose the yellows for a popping effect.

We got all six characters: 平安 Peace | 吉祥 Prosperity | 健康 Good Health | 感恩 Gratitude | 好运 Good Luck | 幸福 Happiness

Zodiac Signs from Metro & Tangs: S$8.90 per ornament
Chinese Characters from Metro: S$6.00 per ornament


I chewed on the idea of a red door mat that reads: “恭喜发财” but dropped it for a simple paper cutting above the door bell. We are the descendants and are always out visiting our elders. No one really comes over unless we invite our friends for a get-together [and we will this year before we move again!]. Ushering the year of the goat with a tasteful design at such an affordable price.

羊年吉祥 from NTUC and Giant: $2.50 per cutting

Here comes the main design of the house! I thought about this thoroughly back in 2013 when I was preparing the home for the year of the Snake. I want something with longevity and not short-lived. A one-time purchase that can last me through 12 years of Chinese New Year. I walked the atrium of Vivo City where festive stalls were set up for mommies like me! I bought two sets of zodiac paper cuttings in red and black i.e 24 pieces in total with the same animal in two different colours. Every year, I will put the black paper cuttings up and highlight that year’s animal sign in red. It will circle around a large embroidered phoenix and dragon ornament characterised into a 福. That was how I envisioned the wall of my dining room to be and I went ahead to materialise it.

Zodiac Paper Cutting and 福 from Vivo City Chinese New Year Fair
from 27 Jan to 27 Feb, 2015

春联 is used only during the Chinese New Year as part of its celebration. It comprises of a couplet written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style one can muster. The first (called upper) line is posted on the right side of the front door. The second (called lower) line is posted on the left side of the front door. In addition, a third horizontal piece may be posted across and on top the door. Typically, the couplet writes a happy, hopeful, uplifting message about a better New Year to come. However, I prefer to place it in a more prominent place for my own visual enjoyment. Otherwise, I’ll only get to see it when I get home!

Our first couplet was written based on Meyer’s, Ewan’s and my names. Together with our Chinese zodiac signs, the master came up with this.

Meyer: 杨瑞祥 | 鸡 |Left Couplet
May: 梁媚 |鸡 |Top Couplet
Ewan: 杨亿文 |龙 |Right Couplet

With Faye joining us for her first Chinese New Year, I decided to have our couplet updated to include her.

Faye: 杨婧霏 | 马

This year, the calligraphy master at Vivo City’s Chinese New Year Fair is a different person. I was a tad disappointed because 2013’s personalised couplet blew me away with beautiful penmanship and meaning. Nevertheless, I got a charming set of poetry with all our names included: 婧霏, 亿文, 瑞祥, 媚. Can you figure it out?

As usual, I took the top line. Faye and Ewan’s zodiac sign, together with Daddy’s name created the first line (right couplet). The second line (left couplet) included every character of my children’s names. I love it but comparing the two penmanship, don’t you agree that 2013’s master writes better? But I cannot deny that this calligraphy master came up with a very graceful couplet.

Calligraphy Master from Vivo City Chinese New Year Fair: S$40 for 2 lines
from 27 Jan to 27 Feb, 2015

Remember how we grew up with the dragon and lion dance troupes dong dong cheng-ing their way into our neighbourhood? It was such a sight and we were always plugging our ears with our tiny fingers to cushion off the deafening cymbals. I loved the vibrancy of Chinese New Year in yesteryears. Today, we still see some of them but the tradition is not as esteemed as before. It is believed to bring forth prosperity and ward off evil if you must know? I couldn’t resist buying this lion head for Ewan to play with. I hope to remind him of some traditional Chinese culture should it get lost in time.

Chinese Lion Toy from Chiantown: $12.00

I must be a SuperMom to own two ever-smiling children while keeping the house looking like a showroom. I must be the envy of many households and daddies will go, “See? Look at May’s home! She is a SAHM, keeps the house clean and children happy!”

AH HA! What you do not know is, while you are feasting your eyes on these awesome pictures, the house was a mess in the background! I’ve got the dining chairs pushed into the kitchen, the play mat chucked to one corner and the toys filling into any empty space that’s out of the camera frame. Meyer came home and went, “Whatever happened here!”

“Erm… I just did a photoshoot for the kids?”

I received some comments from friends over a dinner about how capable a woman I am. They’ve seen my photographs on social medias – my children, my home and even myself are looking extremely good. Until my husband shared his laments over the table that shook the daylights out of them,

You people look at the pictures my wife posts on Facebook and go
“Wow! What a capable mom! Nice pics, great looking kids, beautiful house” 
you don’t know what’s outside the picture frame! 
It’s a whole lot of mess pushed aside for one nice photograph! 

When I leave the Home for work, it is Messy
When I come Home from work, it gets Messier

It sure made many eyes open wide in disbelief but it is true! I am no SuperMom? I am just a mother who puts her priority in keeping her children alive! *hahahha* Whatever mess there is shall wait. I am apologetic towards my husband who is an orderly person. At the same time, I am grateful that he has such humour and totally supportive of my way of “order”. Ya…. I enjoy photography and that comes before cleaning up *Woops*

Oh! Before I end this post, allow me to share something really cute with you. When I Was Four is selling 春莲 pin sets at S$21.80. Comes in 3 different greetings:
1. 春回大地,福满人间
2. 年年如意,岁岁平安
3. 八路进宝,四方来财

I bought us this for the first day of Chinese New Year!

Ewan and Faye are dressed in Elly – Size 3 and 1 respectively. Thank you for designing this year’s amazing collection. #ellyloves will be the top trending hashtag this Chinese New Year!

A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

This used to be my playground

I want to relive my childhood. 
I want to share snippets of my childhood with Ewan and Faye. If it meant travelling out of the way to  bring them to the physical sites of my play grounds, I would. 
Children in the 1970s and 80s can relate to those nostalgic animal and fruit structures which are probably the equivalent to iPad games for the children in this current time. While we hung around in neighbourhood playgrounds digging our toes into the sand, our children are now pleading us for the iPad to watch an Indian version of Old MacDonald’s. *Holy Moly* I would take Ewan and Faye to the dragon playground in Toa Payoh via public transport even if it meant a 2 hour commute! Stay Back You – iPad!
Ms Antoinette Wong, owner of curio shop The Little Dröm Store made dress pins in the likeness of the dragon’s head, the elephant and the pelican. She says: “It’s sad hearing that there are so few left. If they are going to disappear, we should at least preserve them in small ways.”
Oh Thank you Antoinette! I was inspired and made last Sunday a playdate to remember. We started the morning early and met Ewan’s little friends at our first stop – the Watermelon playground – which you stumbled upon while on your trek to finding old Singapore. The children were thrilled! It was like Jack and the Beanstalk! Tiny beings with a gigantic food produce.

With The Little Dröm Store‘s wearable art, I created a simple legend with the playgrounds’ addresses and off we went on our playground hunt! The daddies were tasked to be the designated drivers for the morning so the legend and the road map act as visual aids for them. Oh and we got everyone to dress as retro as possible! Check out our attempt to blend in.

This is the last standing watermelon playground in Singapore, refurbished with rubber mat and one missing swing. It is a pity it is not well-mainained with rusty grills and rubber tears. Nevertheless, it shouts JUICY! Oh mine went crazy on the slide! He loved it so much he licked the rusty grills *ewwwwww*

Hey Kids, to be honest, Mom and Dad had never played in a watermelon playground before. This was our first as much as it was yours! We never knew fruit playgrounds existed until I sat down and got my act together for this research.

We drove further East in search for the elephant playground at Pasir Ris Park. It is the last elephant playground in Singapore, sand pit and all. It looked terribly sentimental when I googled the pictures and was so disappointed to find that Home Team (NS) Pasir Ris Chalet had been returned to the government. The site is now closed with overgrown grass. Tall gates locked the grounds away from the public and the playground out of plain sight. I had the urge to trespass but erm… it was just a fleeting childish thought.

Then I remembered. Hey! We had Ewan on an elephant slide last year in Sentosa! This is the best replica we could get for the one we lost in Pasir Ris. I do hope it is not demolished and will be reinstated as a monument (oh wow too big a word for a playground) when the site re-opens.

With three little kids, born in the year of the Dragon, we drove from Pasir Ris to Ang Mo Kio to meet the legendary dragon. This was the highlight for us parents! We were excited to meet our old playmate once again and the first thing I did was run the rungs of its body. I can understand the decision to redevelop old playgrounds into safer ones. These structures made of metal and mosaic do rust and can be very slippery. There are no barriers to prevent children from falling off the high platforms and the steepness of the ladder is not very comforting. However, these playgrounds (our playgrounds) stand out from the crowd and inject a different kind of imagination in child’s play as compared to the current plasticky ones. Oh those mosaic. Can you envisage the amount of work needed to build one dragon up? Please take time to appreciate the architecture. Give credit not only to the designer but the labourers as well.

Today, we have two large dragon playgrounds left in Singapore. I would suggest paying a visit to both because the dragon at Blk 28 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 sits on a traditional sand pit. You might want to dig your toes into the cold rough sand! It will surely bring back fond memories.

Baby dragon playgrounds are modifications of the original dragons featured above. They are housed in 10 by 10 metres sandboxes for neighbourhoods that have space constrains. Just like the full-blown dragon playground, there are only two baby dragons left in Singapore. This one that we went and another at Blk 240 Toa Payoh Lorong 1. You may choose to put the two Toa Payoh dragons in your playground hunting route and share with us your pictures!

Lower your expectations for the baby dragons because their highlight is only one spiral slide. Despite that, it shapes a generation’s memory of Singapore.

Our last stop for the heritage playground hunt was the dove. By this time, we were all tired but pushed it a little just to finish our chase. Boy was I glad that the last surviving dove playground still has rubber tyre swings! Three of them in fact! There are also three slides – 2 straight ones and 1 spiral.

The neighbourhood is the oldest amongst all that we went. Three blocks of seven-story HDB flats encircle the playground. If we weren’t hot, tired and hungry, I would have brought the children on a walk down old HDB corridors. With their retro outfits, we could have taken really nostalgic pictures. Ooooooo and I heard the buttons on the lifts of these old blocks haven’t changed from our time! Can you remember?

I regretfully announce that the pelican playground is extinct. Just like the elephant playground, we found a replica at Sentosa in September 2014. Allow me to guide you to these fun structures in Sentosa. I do hope they are still there! If you find them, will you let me know please?
– Head to Port of Lost Wonder
– Facing directly at POLW, Turn Right
– Continue walking along the pathway
– Peek into your Left for an open space
– You should find them (Dragon, Elephant and Pelican), sitting bright-coloured on POLW extended grounds

These playgrounds are iconic markers. They are Singapore playgrounds designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee. Mr Khor, now 80, is particularly proud of the dragons. Recalling the project, he says with a chuckle: “It was us adults trying to think like children, about what we would want to do if we were kids.”

A challenge that the builders faced was getting the materials, he recalls. “We thought of using marine paint, which can withstand the weather, but it was too expensive. Instead, we decided on getting colour mosaic tiles in red, blue, yellow and green from Italy.” And thanks to those tiles, the playgrounds have not lost their colour or distinctive character despite going through generations’ worth of grimy childrens’ palms and roughhousing.

He is also happy about how the sand pits, which the structures are embedded in, have stood the test of time. “The sand pits were designed with pipes underneath, so that rainwater can be drained from them,” he said, beaming with pride.

These playgrounds are near extinction but Mr Khor is not bothered, saying his designs have served its time and purpose. It is really just us, 1970s and 80s kids, that find it hard to let our childhood go.

A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

GIVEAWAY: Cake in a Cup

How does it feel when your toddler bakes you a cake? 
SuperChocofragilisticexpialidociously heart-warming!

Cake in a Cup from Norway is brought to you by The Wellness Store. It is so simple to make that my two year old could do it with minimal help. The packet boasted to be free of Sugar, Gluten, Wheat and Egg. Not to mention it is Low in Calorie and Carbs. I wouldn’t mind a more-than-occasional cake indulgence after my meals if it really does take only but a minute to make! Well, two minutes really. One for stirring in the contents and Two for allowing your microwave to work its magic.

The first thought that came to mind when I heard about Cake in a Cup was,  “This would make a great mother-and-child activity!” I gathered all the necessary equipment for the action and all we needed were just these few items:

1 Mug
1 Spoon
1 Teacup
1 Beaker with 50ml of water

I brought out a mug for Ewan to stir in the cake mix.  I cannot risk a broken Narumi teacup from an overly enthusiastic boy who is still working on his fine motor skills. Besides, a mug is deeper and makes stirring a lot easier. Now look at the powder strewn all over the table with his attempt to empty the sachet. So trust me. Get the mug ready.

Step 1 Tip the Sachet into the Mug
Step 2 Add 50ml of Water
Step 3 Mix Well
Step 4 Pour it into a Teacup (for plating purposes)
Step 5 Put it into the Microwave for 60 seconds on High
Step 6 Enjoy the Cake your Child Made for You!

I was skeptical at first. How good can a one minute cake taste? It is just a fun activity between mother and child and the taste will probably leave no impression whatsoever. To Ewan’s dismay, I enjoyed every bit of it. In fact, we were fighting to finish this pretty awesome Cake in a Cup which rounded the session up in tears. He cried because I ate more than he did *haha*

It was moist, fluffy and without a doubt a dark chocolate cake. There was no lie in it. I could already smell the aroma of cocoa enveloping my kitchen while the oven was ticking. As we watched through the glass, we saw the cake rising over the rim! It was an exciting experience for Ewan to see it happen within seconds. While we waited, my heart pounded.

“Please Pleeassse do not let the cake overflow, break, burn or harden!”

It didn’t! It came out as if we were expert bakers! Woo Hoo!

This is heaven-sent for a non-cook like me. Or even for the good cooks who are racing against time for a home dinner party. I can now whip up individually served chocolate cakes in pretty cups for my guests without having to spend half a day’s preparation on them. The more I think about it, the more eager I am to make more of these! With improvisation of course.

– Add some berries, chopped nuts or sugar-free chocolate
– Use coffee instead of some of the water for a mocha cake, or try using milk
– For more flavours, add some orange or mint essence
– Serve as a delicious dessert with ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche
– Reduce the cooking time by 10 seconds for a fudgy molten chocolate centre

After becoming mommy, reading the ingredient list is probably one of the mandatory checks for new  brands on the shelf. So here’s sharing with you the contents of a Sukrin Dark Chocolate sachet: Flour (Sesame, corn), natural sweetener (erythritol), fibre (resistant corn starch, chicory), fat powder (coconut, glucose, milk protein, stabiliser: triphosphate, anti-caking agent: dicalcium phosphate), pea protein, cocoa, modified starch, raising agent (bicarbonate, diphosphate), salt, emulsifier: mono- and diglycerides, sweetener: sucralose, aroma.

Remember I mentioned that it is free of sugar? The sugar substitute is Sukrin, a natural sugar replacement made from the polyol erythritol, found naturally in fruits such as melons and pears. Erythritol is created by a natural fermentation process and there are no artificial additives in Sukrin. Read more about Sukrin here.

Will you Cake in a Cup with us?

Four Wins! Stand a chance to win a Dark Chocolate or Chocolate & Caramel Cake in a Cup mix from Sukrin by Funksjonell Mat. 

Two winners will be chosen from Instagram and another two from the Facebook contest. Read carefully the instructions to win!

To the Instagrammers, follow us @mmlittlee to take part. It will just be a simple Follow-Repost-Tag contest!

… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
Steps to win the Facebook giveaway: 
1) like A Million Little Echoes Facebook page 
2) like The Wellness Shop Facebook page 
3) share this post and answer the True or False question below.
4) send your answers via private message on The Wellness Shop Facebook or email with your contact number and email address

TRUE OR FALSE? Cake in a Cup is a sensational treat from Norway that is ready in your favourite cup or mug in just 2 minutes! Free from egg, wheat, gluten and sugar. Just add water, mix well & microwave!

Giveaways end on 1 February 2015, 2359 hours. All winners will be contacted by The Wellness Shop via email.   

Remember to set your share to Public!
For those who cannot wait, these sachets are available for purchase at The Wellness Shop at S$7.80/sachet. Email to purchase. Available flavours: Dark Chocolate or Chocolate & Caramel.

A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.

Review: Combi Cradling 360 Car Seat

When the Combi Cradling 360 Car Seat arrived at our doorstep, we were blown away by its functionality. We’ve never encountered first-hand a car seat that revolves, not to mention 360 degrees. It was God-sent especially with a baby who loathes being strapped in. Faye would scramble away from the car the moment I open the door to her seat. As if it wasn’t easy enough to peal her clawing hands from my shoulders, I have to force her into her car seat sideways. Screaming and crying even before I buckle her in. By the end of a sit-in-carseat-session, I would already be perspiring.

With Cradling 360, I have the luxury to play peek-a-boo or tickles with Faye while strapping her in gently. What is the difference you may ask? Well, I can turn the carseat towards the door so Faye has her eyes on me all the time. It doesn’t really feel like I am leaving her in that sense. My face in hers, plus tickles? Perfect! No struggles and totally distracted.

The big brother is also fascinated by his sister’s new car seat and would rush to take her seat instead of his own! What we love about this revolutionary design is its ability to cater to both our baby and toddler without having to remove and re-install the car seat again.

Ewan takes the seat? Swivel to the front!

Faye takes the seat? Swivel towards the back!

Cradling 360 is designed for the use of children up to 18kg, from newborn to approximately 4 years of age.

It is sturdy and strong. I am certain it will keep my children protected from danger especially with the new technology of EggShock Super pad. It provides additional support and protection for our baby. In the case of a collision, the EggShock Super pad helps to absorb the shock and cushions the impact. What comes with sturdiness? Bulk. Check out the Cradling 360 next to Faye! The base is huge but without it, comes no swivels. I’d go with revolving seats anytime. The bulk still enables me to sit in the middle of two car seats anyways.

The comfort level is undeniable. When we pushed our hands into the cushion, it felt totally snug and comfortable. Beneath all that cushion, you will find a 3D Air Mesh Seat. It helps to release the moisture and heat from the seat quickly especially if the baby had been sitting in it for a while. The soft cushion is also made of 3D Mesh too and it increases the ventilation especially in our humid weather. Ewan and Faye took their turns in the car seat. Can you spot the difference in the head rest? We have removed the additional head and body pads for Ewan to give him that extra space he needed.

Not only does it turn 360, the seat can be fully reclined. Perfect for that newborn baby who travels a lot with his parents. We wouldn’t want our babies to be sitting up for long stretches of time especially when their backbones are still developing. Most carseats in the market have this feature. However, they do not allow us to recline the seat while on the move. These seats have to be installed according to the angle indicator and stays that way through the ride until we remove and re-install again. Personally I find reclining on the move very important. In case of chocking incidents, I can quickly put my child on an upright position. Likewise, I can lay my child down when he falls asleep.

Cradling 360’s canopy is equipped with ultra-violet ray protection that protects our children against harmful sun ray. It has a wide-sized canopy for extra protection and privacy especially when they are resting. Peek-a-boo mesh cover opening at the top of the car seat allows for easy viewing too! This had got to be the most comfortable car nap my son had in years.

Two buttons control the manoeuvring of the carseat: Reclining and Turn. It is practically a no-brainer. The ease of use allows any mother [or grandmother] to put their child in effortlessly. There is also no need to put much force into reclining or turning because the seat is very light.

The only whine the daddy had was that it doesn’t have the Isofix system which could have made installation much easier. After fixing Cradling 360 into his car, he came back in the house with his shirt all drenched in perspiration and proclaimed that Isofix is the best invention ever for car seat installations. Be warned that the installation process with seat belt is tedious so if you need to move seats around frequently between cars, this is not the seat for you. The anchoring takes up space as well. A space which could have been useful to place groceries or school bags.

To be fair, it wins the rest of the car seats hands-down with its power to cater to rear and front-facing children with just one installation. There is no need to remove and re-install to provide for a different-aged child.

All said and done, it is a swell design. Everyone who saw us buckle our children up and swivel them into  a rear or front-facing position, were impressed. Their words, “Wow! This carseat is good ay?”.

The Combi Cradling 360 Car Seat comes in Fusion Black and Mocca Brown. It is retailing at $729 at all leading departmental stores, baby chains and baby stores. Cradling 360 Car Seat in Isofix will be in store in April 2015. Stay tuned!

Faye is 7 months old and Ewan is 2.5 years old at the point of review. The Combi Cradling 360 Car Seat is installed in a Volvo XC60 SUV. All photographs and styling are mommy’s own.

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A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.