Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Lion Salute

As part of Ma Zu Dan, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan had invited Nam Sieng Dragon and Lion Dance Activity Centre Singapore to perform various acrobats, lion dances and dragon dances at Thian Hock Keng temple whose main deity is Ma Zu. My personal favorite is lion dance on poles. And yes, they performed that last night! It was quite an eye opener.

Who is Ma Zu?

She is a female goddess, protector of sea voyagers. She is also known as Tian Hou.
It was said that she had the power to predict weather and often warned people of bad weathers and advised them not to make journeys to the sea. She was a good swimmer and was able to save people even in the harshest weather. 

Ma Zu Dan
Ma Zu Dan refers to Ma Zu's birthday-festival. It is on the twenty-third day of the third lunar month of the lunar calendar. It falls in late April or early May according to the Gregorian calendar.

About Thian Hock Keng

Thian Hock Keng Temple is a 176 year old monument. It is one of the oldest and most important Hokkien temple in Singapore. In the past, Chinese immigrants who had just completed their journey across the turbulent South China Sea to Singapore ,would make offerings of money and joss-sticks here in Thian Hock Keng as thanksgiving. 

Thian Hock Keng Temple

28 lions were here to salute the goddess. They went into the temple and out again.

That was followed by dragon dance.

2 rows of lion heads

Big Flags performance

These flags are almost ad long as the parade square and are quite heavy. The performers are able to balance them on their head,  arms, fists and even using their mouths.

Stunts like this was displayed. With the occasional wind, the flags almost fell, it can be quite a scare.

Another stunt

Drum performance.
My favorite segment : Lion dances on poles.

Such performance definitely require experience and skills. Some of the poles are place more than 1.5 meter apart! It is hard to jump 1.5m alone. What more together with a companion!
Lion stunts on poles

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day by doing the 3 Rs

This Earth Day, let's do some recycling!

The important message is to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Reduce by not buying impulsively. This is the most important step. It drastically reduce wastage.
Reuse by using both sides of papers. Some includes Glass Jars, Containers or Cans, newspaper, magazine, paper bags, plastic bags.
Recycle by giving a new lease of life to the product.

Below are some recycling ideas which I learnt during the Singapore Design Week and from the programmes conducted by the National Library Board.

Hope it inspired you too!

A tetra-pak recycling purse. (Learnt in library)
Recycled bracelet using t-shirt yarn. ( Learnt from Clothes Call)
A finger knitted necklace made by Little One.

The many recyclable items that was given a second life!
More items (left)
T-shirt bag made by me.

Making  Kanzashi Flower Ornaments. These can be used as hair clips or ring. (Learnt from Sew Into It)
Sweet Day's Lifebook

This post is part of the "Care for the Earth" series

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Leather Craft: Making a bag

Doing an intermediate course to make a small leather bag. It is not easy I must say from cutting to punching to saddle stitching. Leather crafting is not something that I am good at. I am especially bad at cutting leathers. Even when a template is provided, I could cut the leather slightly out of proportion, hence the overall look of the final product looked slightly out of shape.

 After hours of sewing, the 2 fingers which I am holding the needle hurts. After bandaging with post aid and micropore, the speed of stitching is faster.

At present, I have finished stitching but the bag is not completed yet.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Ukuleles

How cute are these Ukuleles - Hello Kitties, spidey, smiley and what have you
These Ukuleles reminds me the short period of time Little One and I learnt some basics chords.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

10th Anniversary at Goodwood Park Hotel

My hubby and I just celebrated our 10th Anniversary at Goodwood Park Hotel, a 5 star hotel in Singapore. I had requested hubby to take leave for a celebration.

As Little One was in school in the morning, we had some "We Time" together having brunch, haircut and walking around in the Financial District. We have not been doing this frequently except during Chinese New Year when hubby's company shuts down. This is one great time to bond again together.

After school, we brought Little One to Goodwood Park Hotel. We chose to celebrate in Goodwood Park because this place is special to us. We held our ROM reception at the Coffee Lounge 10 years ago. As we walked towards the hotel, I felt my heart pounding exactly it was 10 years ago. I was butterfly excited and kept talking to Little One about her parents' wedding then. We wanted to share this memory with Little One. It made her anxious to see the location too!
Tower Block of Goodwood Park Hotel
Prior visiting, we actually watched a video which my brother in law took on that important day! How we have aged! Although some guests that we knew does not seemed to age much, the most obvious change were that of the children. They have grown from chubby toddlers to lean children! The oldest is already in Secondary school! How time flies!

Goodwood Park Hotel
When we talk of Goodwood Park Hotel, everyone reminded of the famous durian pastries. For those who loves durian, this is a must go place. Enough of durian, do you know the tower block is actually a monument of Singapore (Gazetted on 23 September 1989)?

"The Tower Wing of the present-day Goodwood Park Hotel was home to the German Teutonia Club, one of the earliest European national clubs in Singapore. It is a prominent landmark in the Orchard area for its unique architecture. The charming structure serves as a reminder of the Germans’ contributions to trade in early colonial Singapore, and of the impact of the First World War on the local German community. Goodwood Park Hotel is also a monument to the flourishing hotel industry in Singapore during the colonial period and beyond."

The tower block was home to the German Teutonia Club in 1900.  It was designed by architect R. A. J. Bidwell of Swan and Maclaren in the Queen Anne style (a mix of Dutch, French and English influences that was popular in England in the nineteenth century.) The main features of this architectural style include brick pediments, towers, verandahs, and detailed textures – all of which can be seen in the building’s design. The front stairway leads up to the main entrance, which is topped by the impressive turret-like tower and flanked by two gable walls with semi-circular pediments covered in elaborate mouldings of leaves, flowers, and ribbons. Blocked architraves and rusticated walls add texture to the monument. It has a striking tower, the building included electric lighting installations that were considered advanced for its time.  The Teutonia Club was the centre of German social life in Singapore.

Gable wall with semi-circular pediments covered in elaborate mouldings of leaves, flowers, and ribbons.
Good times at the Teutonia Club lasted until World War I. The British government in Singapore classified all Germans as enemy forces and shipped most of them to Australia. The Teutonia Club was then seized by the Custodian of Enemy Property.

In 1918, the building was sold at public auction to the Manasseh brothers, Morris, Ezekiel and Ellis. The building was converted into a reception hall known as Goodwood Hall. In 1929, the Manasseh brothers converted the establishment into a full-fledged hotel and renamed it Goodwood Park Hotel.

In 1942, the hotel was converted into a residence for high-ranking Japanese soldiers. After the end of the Japanese Occupation in 1945, the hotel became the site of the British War Crimes Court, where more than 100 Japanese war criminals were tried and convicted.
Main entrance

The hotel resumed its operations in 1947 with the British army handing the building back to the pre-war owners. In 1963, the hotel was bought over by the Malayan Banking Group, and then by billionaire banker and hotelier Khoo Teck Puat in 1968. Now the hotel is owned by the Khoo family.

Back to our anniversary celebration, we went straight to Coffee Lounge. By that time, the Local High Tea Buffet had already started. (3pm) We did not make any reservation, we just walked in. The place was different from 10 years ago. It used to have the restaurant name on the wall but I could not find it any where now.

It has a buffet spread with more than 20 popular local snacks, mains and desserts. Little One loves the Ang Ku Kueh while both my hubby and I love the chwee kueh. We find it very delicious especially the chye poh is pleasantly sweet. I remember having the mee siam 10 years ago and I think it tasted the same as before.

Local High Tea Buffet
After the high tea, we were absolutely full. We decided to buy some durian puffs home. These are absolutely delicious.
Not forgetting to get some durian puff from Deli.


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Friday, April 8, 2016

The Good, The Bad and the PSLE - Trails of an Almost Kiasu Mother ( Inspired by Real Events)

This is one book, The Good, The Bad and the PSLE - Trails of an Almost Kiasu Mother by Monica Lim, that I recommend for parents of Primary school going children. Even if your child /children is/are not in the primary school yet. This is a good read. It gives some insight of what to expect for Primary 1. Some of the stories are extractions from the author's blog. I find them rather amusing and funny.

If you find the name Monica Lim familiar, that's because she is the co-author of the Danger Dan series whom she wrote together with her daughter, Lesley-Anne Tan.

I could relate to Ling, the main character of the story, partly because she is a mother of a Primary One (P1) child, Noah. She is also the mother of  April who is in Primary 4 (P4). The story covers the course of 3 years, which meant that it covers the experience of a mother through somewhat 6 years of a Primary School life. I totally can relate the happenings in Year 1, Term 1. The first day of school. The inability to count money. The struggle with Chinese. The homework battle.

I could not stop laughing whenever I read the book though I tried to muffled my laughter when I am in the public places. I truly enjoy various chapters, just to mention some, they are "Irregular English", "A State of Disorder" and "Just the Way You Are". These issues mentioned in the book are day to day issues, problems we faced as a parent and yet the author finds ways to introduce humor into it. What I like is one of the advice given: When you don't take yourself too seriously, you're more likely to enjoy life to the fullest.

Hiccups in school, such as friendship woes (I can see it coming even though my girl is in P1 this year.) and issues such as whether there is a need for tuition? How about some moms with high expectation? Being a parent volunteer in school? All these sounds familiar, aren't they?

In some ways, my girl is akin to Noah. She is big hearted, blur at times, happy go lucky and she submits work that looked like kiam chye despite that she has a file and uses it. (unlike Noah). Hence, it was truly enjoyable reading material. It was somewhat like reading about my own child. Yes, the book makes me relook at my attitude towards disciplining and academic chase in this rat race.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

50 Below Zero

I am going to introduce another e-book. 50 below Zero by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko. The one accessible in Overdrive is a Read Along book.

What is a Read Along Book?

A read-along book is a illustrated book for children with accompanying recordings of the books being read.

Personally, I like read-along books because children can learn how to pronounce words by listening to the recordings. When Little One was younger, I would usually sit beside Little One while playing the CDs, pointing out the words to her. After playing a few times, I could leave her alone with the book. She knew when to turn the pages and followed along the story.

Read along e-books are even better, I do not have to be present at all. The words will be highlighted automatically on the computer screen. (see below) All Little One has to do is to sit in front of the computer and let it read to her. She will pick up words along the way.

To use, just click on the "start narration" button, the audio will load, read and load the pages automatically. If you or your child need to take a break, just pause the narration. Should there be a need to stop reading and continue another day, it can be done too. The e-book will load the last page that you have browsed.


A little boy, Jason, has a father who sleepwalks and ends up in unlikely places. Find out how he keeps his father safe, especially when his father walked out their house when it was freezing cold outside.


A very unlikely story because if the father were to be in the cold in just his pajamas, he would probably had frozen to death. Moreover, I doubt Jason had the strength to pull his dad up the stairs. However, in the eyes of children, especially those who has not experienced winter cold, this story is probably believable.

Initially, we borrowed the e-book. However, Little One enjoyed the book so much that we borrowed the hardcopy from the library. I am not sure whether there are 2 editions but apparently, the hard copy I borrowed was a shorter version. It is very simple and I believe is suitable for pre-schoolers.

The read along version is an Andrew Craig Production. It is longer and with repetitive sentences. Suitable for bigger children in the lower primary. Personally, both Little One and I love the voice narrating the story. It is emotional, energetic and engaging. While the background music and sounds are a nice touch to the story, sometimes, it is tad too loud at times that we could not hear what the narrator is saying. The other issue is sound words such as glug, bump and scritch are truly only sounds in the Read Along edition. I prefer that the words would be read though.

Tip for Read Along Books,
You can ask your child/children to read to you without starting the narration . Treat it like a normal e-book.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

QingMing in Bukit Brown (26 March 2016)

Last month I joined a tour conducted by the Brownies to Bukit Brown again. It had been quite some time I last visited Bukit Brown. This was the first time ever since the old cemetery access was not available. From the Bukit Brown website, I noted there were actually 2 entrances to the cemetery. That day the meeting point was at a platform after passing through Lorong Halwa.

(credit: Bukit Brown)

As Qingming (in fact, the actual day was yesterday according to Chinese calendar) was around the corner and the cemetery is bustling with activity again.  I joined the tour because I wanted to have a close-up look of families visiting the graves of their ancestors with offerings, and tombkeepers busy themselves with sprucing up graves ahead of the descendants' visits. I have never been to a cemetery during Qing Ming period.

Upon arrival from the bus, immediately I smelt smoke, which reminds me of the haze we had last year. This smell is pretty common especially when joss papers and offerings are burnt. Upon navigating around, I saw smoke spiraling from one spot near the bridge over Lornie Road. Someone had already paid a visit to their ancestor.

Besides visiting a new grave cluster, the family of Lim Chong Pang, I learnt something new on this trip.
Cars and vehicles were slowly getting into the cemetery. This road is pretty narrow. There was a jam right ahead.
Quite a number of families were seen in the cemetery that day.

2 Earth Deities?
Offerings to the ancestors, includes food, joss sticks and candles. Before these were done, the descendants have to pray to the Earth deity. This is located on either side of the tomb. (see the pair of candles on the side) Joss papers are burnt last.
I learnt, there are male and female  Earth deities (indicated by the arrow). Almost every tomb has a Earth Deity. (either the male or the female)

The male Earth Deity
The female Earth Deity
Mass Grave?
During the Japanese Occupation, it was told that there was mass grave for civilian bodies near this stream.  I don't think these bodies could survived under such a condition, unlike the those on the hills.
Busy Tomb keepers 

This period of time is the busiest time for the tomb keepers. The services they offer are quite a handful. However, during this period, they would be offering cleaning or grass cutting services before the descendants come to pay their ancestors a visit. There are families who engage their services to maintain the tombs throughout the year for a fee.

Tomb keepers in action
One of the permanent makeshift tent for the tomb keepers.
This morning, it was the first time I spotted lots of living things besides the horses. Below are just some. One of the group member pointed out there are curry leaves too!

Red dragonfly
Black butterfly
The appearance of horses made some children squealed in delight

Flowers such as chrysanthemum is being offered

A more elaborated offering.

Orchid and drinks as offering. 5 colour paper on the graves are not meant to be burnt.
过 路钱,a small stack of beige rectangular shaped paper with three holes punched onto them.are being thrown around too. It is believed to be the ‘money’ used by the deceased when they travel from places to places in the underworld. Sometimes, these were scattered on the trees. These are meant for the wandering spirits. I forgot to ask why these aren't burnt.
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