August 26, 2008

Future Supermodel?

Natalie had her first photoshoot today, the first of many I'm sure! It's probably going to be an annual affair till she's like 21 or something! I brought so many outfits to the studio, and of course there was not enough time for all of them. Actually I think Maryann the photographer would have obliged, just that Nick accidentally took some of the outfits with him when he left midway!

Nutty was most co-operative, it wasn't too difficult to make her smile but she did get tired towards the end. The shoot ended when she tried to crawl and fell forward on her face...poor baby bawled her eyes out but got over it in no time. Don't think she's ever felt pain like that to date, we've been so kiasu about her safety thus far. Oh well, she's a tough cookie.

After the shoot, me, Ma and Arlyn headed to Mustafa, where I bought a printed silk material that the rest absolutely hated and a chiffon sari with metallic butterflies which everyone absolutely loved.

Anyways, here are some pictures from today's shoot by The Studio Loft. Am so pleased!

August 25, 2008

Miss Independent

Having only just figured out how to sit properly, the munchkin can now stand in the cot. She can pull herself upright by holding on to the bars, scary and dangerous because her cot bars are not very high and any minute now she's gonna attempt to crawl out!


Yesterday was Swana's birthday and the poor lamb had no clue what's been going on behind her back for the last couple of weeks as me, Monica and Rachel planned her a surprise baby shower cum birthday party.

It's been really difficult keeping a straight face whenever I talked to her about her birthday and yesterday our efforts paid off because she was genuinely surprised when she walked through her own home door.

Initially the party was supposed to have been held at my house and we would get her to come over on the pretext of a family tea. But a few days before the party, Kevin suggested to do it at Cafe Gomez instead where we could set up while he took her out for Champagne Brunch.

So, I spent Saturday running errands like getting partyware from Spotlight, grocery shopping and collecting her cake. Yesterday morning when I called to wish her, she mentioned she and Kevin were attending mass at St Teresa's and she asked us to join them.

So we met there and during mass, I kept receiving smses from various people regarding the party. I had to type replies inside my handbag and face my phone away from her because she was sitting right next to me. She thought I was just trying to be discreet because the homily was going on!

She then invited us to join them for brunch but we gave all sorts of excuses. In the end she decided that she and Kevin would come over to my place for tea and bring snacks from Great World City. But she didn't know Kevin's mission was to bring her back to their own home, his excuse being that he needed to use the loo urgently to make a 'deposit'!

So while Nick dropped them off at Grand Copthorne where they were dining, I bought some last minute stuff from Tanjong Pagar and then it was a mad scramble to Jalan Membina to decorate and prepare the food, plus tidy up a little.

Rachel and Monica, my co-conspirators were already waiting under the block and soon enough, other guests started arriving. Everyone was so excited and we were on edge because there was so many latecomers and we kept opening and locking the door and hiding shoes.

Kavi cut it very fine, arriving barely two minutes before Kevin and Swana! We were so noisy inside the house, but shushed as soon as we saw them coming out of the lift from the peephole. As she unlocked the door we yelled "Surprise" and she was stunned! Some of us thought her waterbag might burst from all that excitement, but thankfully it stayed intact.

The look of disbelief on her face was priceless, she went, "What the...?" and then proceeded to turn around and smack Kevin before she started tearing and hugging everyone. Ha ha!

It was a few minutes before everyone settled down and she was filled in on how we'd been scheming behind her back. Kevin's been known to make a pitstop at home to use the facilities so she didn't think anything of it when he said he needed to 'go' really badly. She said he even did the toilet shuffle dance!

Anyways, tea was served soon enough and people helped themselves to the fried beehoon, mee goreng and chicken curry that Mummy had prepared along with the snacks ordered from Delifrance and Sakae Sushi.

Then it was time for the first baby shower game called "Guess the Belly". Slips of paper were handed out and guests had to guess what Swana's waist circumference was. Some people even tried to approximate by holding balloons in front of them and using the tape measure! The answer was 116cm and Sham won with a guess of 120cm.

The next game was "Pass the Dirty Diaper". I had melted some chocolate into a clean diaper and the game was like passing the parcel, whoever was holding on to the diaper when the music stopped was eliminated until we had 2 contestants standing...they each won prizes!

Lastly was "Guess the Celebrity Baby", I had prepared some quiz sheets featuring pictures of 8 celebrity babies and people had to guess who they were. Anjali and Swana scored full marks...the former is American and is in tune with the latest gossip, while the latter watches E! all the time!

After she opened her pressies, we cut the cake. Kevin said to make it a big cake, so I ordered a 2.5kg one from Centre Ps, same place I ordered my birthday cake. They are known for their Grand Cru Royale, a rich chocolate mousse with hazelnut crunch and boy was it worth every cent. The cake was simply divine!

More people came later in the evening and we hung around till the end to help her clean up. This is the first surprise party I have ever been a part of and it was so much fun planning. I think if it were me, I would have smelled a rat but my darling sister can be so obtuse sometimes and oblivious to what's going on in the world.

Anyway, happy birthday Ziggy! Love ya!

There she goes

Vig finally left on Saturday evening, the whole farewell was a blur... everything happened so fast!

Her flight was scheduled to leave at 7.45 pm and I only got to the airport at close to 6.30 pm, but yet she hadn't checked in! Apparently the system could not find any records of her visa application therefore she had to apply on the spot and wait till it was processed.

While waiting for this, she was busy checking her things, talking to other friends and family but we (i.e. the Witches) didn't have any alone time with her and just chatted among ourselves. There was a huge turnout, a testament to how well-loved she is.

Before we knew it, she was checked in and already walking towards the immigration section. I think it was really hard for her to leave hence she didn't really go round to hug and say goodbye to all present, just some family members and close friends.

And then she was off, past the security guards and past the biometric passport scans. The girls were quite wistful as Vig made her way, but we are all also happy for her and the new adventures that await.

Here's an sms she sent the next day:

"I thank u from da bottom of my heart 4 being there 4 me yest. Walkin away from those I care much abt was prob one of da hardest thing I have done...painful...i have landed safely. Am starting my new journey...u will always be in my heart. Take u very much..."

Aww shucks, love u too Vig.

August 22, 2008

Here's to a new life, Vig

Vig is off to a new life tomorrow, having gotten Australian PR. How exciting! On one hand I am pleased for her and the adventures that await (not to mention the prospect of free accommodation in Sydney!), but on the other, it just won't be the same without her around.

Last night we had dinner with the other two Witches - Puni and Chris - in some really ulu place! Have you heard of Buckaroo, near Sembawang Park? Well, it's really far in the middle of some terrace houses in a northern part of the island. It's similar in concept to Jerry's I suppose, large servings of American food although prices were a little steep considering its coffeeshop ambience.

We shared the clam chowder, calamari, half chicken & ribs, and grilled dory, plus a side of mashed potato, which I must say was pretty damn good! The clam chowder wasn't too bad either, it was served in a bread bowl. The mains came in huge portions, wasn't too impressed with the ribs. They weren't the 'fall apart at the bones' kind and the sauce was ordinary.

After dinner we adjourned to Puni's house at Admiralty...haven't been there in a while and she had made some changes. Nikesh's room had a large wall mural of safari animals, it was actually printed strips of adhesive vinyl. Shall have to get Nat one of those if and when I redo her room, apparently the site they ordered from has lots of princessy prints!

There was also a decorative motif painted onto her master bedroom wall, and I recognised the print from the WinkPlay website. To customise the print on vinyl would have cost over $500 but Siva the artist copied the design and painted it on their wall instead. Nice!

We made Puni show us all her Delirious Divas purchases to date and after much persuasion Chris tried on a couple of tops. These were snug for all of us, but fit her just nicely....dammit! Reminds me I have to lose weight still!

Cinderella a.k.a me, had to return home at midnight but the rest of the girls stayed on. Geez, at 11.45 pm Mummy was already calling to check on me...that's what I get for being under the same roof!

Anyway, I had a really lovely time, it's always great to catch up with old friends and I'm gonna miss Vig a lot. Sigh.

August 19, 2008

Sitting Pretty

The munchkin is such a poser, she knows when the camera is focused on her. (Gee, I wonder who she gets that from!)

Check out her latest shots today as she demonstrated to Swana how she sits. After a couple days of trial and error, Nuttypoo has figured out how to sit from a crawling position all by herself. And she can sit with her back straight!

When she smiles for the camera, her eyes disappear!

Swana is in her 36th week and can't wait for Beanie to come out, the good doctor predicts the week of 15 Sep but I'm hoping for the week before. I am so looking forward to meeting Gigi or rather, Giselle! I miss that newborn state when they were quiet and just laid there...

My dear sister seems to be having a bad case of water retention in her feet though. I only had swollen feet a couple of times but it was never as bad as this. You can poke her feet and the imprint stays a while!

August 18, 2008

Almost Paradise

Nickypoo finally took me out for my birthday dinner last Friday but it’s not like he put in much effort. I decided on the restaurant and made the reservations, all he had to do was foot the bill.

We landed up at Taste Paradise in Mosque Street, somewhere I had been meaning to try but it was actually 4th choice on my list. Couldn’t get reservations at Valentino’s, Restaurant Ember or Flutes at the Fort…that’s what we get for being last minute.

But it was a pleasant dinner nonetheless, there were so many dishes I wanted to try and we ended up over-ordering thinking that the portions would be small which resulted in the cancellation of a stewed mee poh dish towards the end, and ‘tapau-ing’ the sweet and sour pork Nick ordered.

I took pictures of the dishes as they arrived but the lighting was insufficient. Now I can’t remember what exactly we ordered but there was the XO carrot cake, scallop and mango roll, deep fried eggplant with pork floss, prawns with curry sauce, baked cod with honey, sweet and sour pork and lobster ramen. I also had a crab duo appetizer that I absolutely loved and dessert was mango cream with pomelo and coconut ice cream. Mmmmm, coconut.

The carrot cake tasted like those you get at dim sum restaurants, just stir fried with eggs and bean sprouts. It was soft and chewy and not too oily. At $7 for a small plate, it was the most expensive carrot cake I’ve had but well worth it I suppose!

The scallop and mango rolls were crumbed and deep fried, there were 5 pieces and they were quite filling. I ended up just scooping out the mango and scallop bits from the rolls, because eating the skins would have been too filling. Nick isn’t a scallop fan but he enjoyed this dish surprisingly.

The deep fried eggplant was a disappointment compared with a similar dish I just had at Kam Boat the previous week. The version here was thinly sliced so at each bite, one tasted more batter than eggplant. Will pass on this next time.

The cod was forgettable, it was too sweet and overcooked for my liking although the portion was generous for $8. However, the prawns were a hit. Similar in crunchy texture to the prawns with wasabi mayonnaise that is popular in Chinese restaurants here, this version was laced with a hint of curry paste. The flavour was very subtle yet familiar…tasted like Ma’s fish curry!

The lobster ramen was so-so, the noodles looked more like ee-fu noodles instead of ramen. At first bite the noodles tasted rather plain, just spicy, but after biting into the half-lobster and then back into the noodles, somehow it tasted better.

My absolute favourite dish of the night though was my crab appetizer duo. There was a chilled swimmer crab leg salad with bamboo shoots and some kind of crunchy black fungus, dressed with a creamy sauce that I detected some wasabi in. This was accompanied by chopped up bits of a crab claw and diced vegetables coated in salted egg yolk. Loved the powdery texture of the salted egg yolk on the crab and even though this dish came early, I saved a portion till the end so I could finish off my meal with it.

The dessert presentation was a little drama, my mango puree with pomelo and coconut ice cream arrived in a conical glass resting inside another glass filled with dried ice. Stupid waiter faced the smoke right in my face when he placed the dish down but he was forgiven when I took a bite of the coconut ice cream, which was rich, creamy and tasted home made. I luuuuurve coconut ice cream!

The bill came out to about $150, which was reasonable considering the number of dishes we had. There are other things on the menu I want to try, will definitely go back before the year is out!

August 17, 2008

Another Olympic medal for Singapore...finally!

Today is historic for Singapore finally won another Olympic medal after a 48-year wait. The Women's Table Tennis team settled for silver after losing to hosts China, but the colour of the medal was expected.

On Friday as I left work, there was a crowd of office workers glued around the TV sets at the Aviva reception keenly watching the semi-final clash between us and Korea. As I walked past them, I caught a glimpse of the scoreline that was in Singapore's favour, smiled to myself and kept fingers crossed. By the time I reached home 20 mins later, the match was over and we were guaranteed silver.

There was not much hope of beating China on their home ground, qualifying for the final was already a major achievement and I think most Singaporeans had accepted we would be second. But still I think many tuned in to their TV sets anyway, especially to watch the victory ceremony. Nevermind that our players were formerly Chinese citizens, they still did us proud.

I got all excited when I spotted my former SSC bosses on TV, recognised Marilyn my director and Jin Teik the CEO cheering Team Singapore on. Having worked at the Sports Council, albeit briefly, I have a greater appreciation for Singapore athletes. There's still a week left in the Olympics, maybe we stand a chance for medals in the table tennis singles...time will tell.

Oh, and there was a follow up report today in the Straits Times about the NETS surcharge. NETS came out to say they had different agreements with different merchants therefore Singapore Pools and Comfort are allowed to impose a surcharge. For Singapore Pools, it's so it can remind the public to 'bet within their means' and for Comfort the fee is to defray its operating costs after investing in technology.

Pish tosh I say! There shouldn't be such double standards. Of all the merchants using NETS, these two are the ones who can well afford to absorb the operating costs! The transport company invested in technology to bring greater convenience to passengers, but chose to pass on their expenses to customers...despite being worth $3 billion!

And another thing, the government today defended the increase in ERP rates saying that it keeps traffic flowing. In the first place, there are more cars on the road because the government made owning a car more affordable by reducing the cost of ownership and increasing the COE quotas. The ERP rates, hours and locations are only going to keep going up since there isn't likely to be a reduction in car ownership.

And, whenever people source alternative routes to avoid paying ERP, traffic builds up on those roads, prompting the LTA to build a gantry to ease traffic. It's a no-win situation for drivers and the usual Singaporean reaction is to grumble for bit and then move on because we know whatever we say won't reverse the decisions.

The other day Nick and I got caught in a jam at Eu Tong Sen Street despite passing through a $2 gantry. Pay money, still get stuck in traffic! Let's face it, ERP is just another money-making venture, the congestion is just an excuse!

August 15, 2008

Double standards by NETS

Hmm, wonder if I should start boycotting using NETS and buying Singapore Pools...but then again, one is so convenient and the other is so tempting.

NETS recently hiked its fees to merchants wishing to use their system and rent their equipment, but some merchants have tried to pass on the extra costs to consumers by imposing a surcharge. Shops in the heartlands were hardest hit by the hikes and a recent Straits Times article highlighted their plight and also the fact that it was wrong to charge consumers for the transaction fees, as their agreement with NETS bars them from doing so.

Someone then wrote in to the Forum to question how come Singapore Pools were allowed to charge $0.20 per NETS transaction at their outlets and the reply from Singapore Pools this week bordered on stupid.

I quote their reply to the Forum page, "Singapore Pools introduced Nets in 2004 to give customers an alternative payment mode. As betting is not an essential activity, we have decided in the spirit of our responsible gaming policy, to pass on the Nets service charge to our customers in order to remind them that betting is an expense and they should bet within their means."

Not only does it not address how come SP are allowed to charge for using NETS, the sentence about charging customers to remind them to spend within their means is laughable! Whether one pays cash or NETS, what's a 20 cent reminder to a gambling addict? People use NETS for the sake of convenience!

Can't wait for what NETS and Singapore Pools will say next to defend their double standards.

Nat at 6 months

Natalie can hardly keep still nowadays, everytime you put her down, she rolls over like she's got ants in her pants. She tries to crawl, and she has sort of figured out how to move into an upright position from all fours. Except she's not very upright, more like she's lounging, like a reclining Buddha.

She had the second dose of her rotavirus vaccine last Sunday, and she couldn't sit still at the doctor's either, slipping and sliding all over his examining bed.

Nat has also been on semi-solids for a couple of weeks and I think she's enjoying it...well, she seems to like the cereal but screws up her face whenever something new is introduced.

The other day I tried carrots but she wasn't a fan. These last couple of days it has been pureed pumpkin. I must say the pumpkin tastes yummy and I stole a couple of bites. Will introduce mashed potato this weekend followed by sweet potato, and then it's on to the green veggies.

She's been able to hold her own bottles off and on but I bought some handles to attach to them...even though I have 3 other training cups at home!

Yesterday I assembled her new high chair instead of waiting for Nick to get round to it, thank goodness it was mostly idiot-proof! Nick thought I spent too much on a high chair, but I couldn't resist the print, so much more fun than the insipid chairs I've seen. It's pretty cushy and plush, I told him I bought her a 'first-class' seat instead of economy. Love the recline function and adjustable height!