Sunday, June 25, 2017

All-Girls Weekend Trip to Batam, Indonesia


Everyone knows the purpose of going on a holiday right? It helps you relax, unwind and recharge those drained out batteries. Now what about the increasing global trend of girls-only trips? Trips taken with your girlfriends/BFFs/gal pals/tribe....whatever you want to call it. This one is (unsurprisingly) being backed by medical science as beneficial for a woman's mental, emotional and physical well-being. A complete no-brainer if you ask me! 




Being away from the humdrum of daily life, be it work, managing a household, chasing after the kids or doing routine chores, taking a holiday with girlfriends can bring some much-needed respite and make the spirits soar. Taking a holiday with BFFs is all about celebrating life – all the adventures past and all the adventures to come. Not to mention, with girlfriends, you have plenty of time and opportunity to do all the things you want which the menfolk may not necessarily be interested in. It may sound like stereotyping but take a couple of instances - spending the day at the spa, window shopping and scouting for good deals, using the camera like a machine gun, upping your insta game or taking funny videos on boomerang (any other Instagram addicts here?), giggling at the silliest of things, watching a romcom late into the night or going for a dip in the pool is something a guy may not enjoy. On your women-only holiday, you can do all the things that you want to guilt and judgement-free!

Are you sold on it yet ladies? 

Going on an all-girls trip was kind of on my bucket list so it was bound to happen. I might even make it an annual "thing" now! 😁  I'll have to admit, it wasn't easy zeroing on the date since six full-time working professionals (each leading a busy life) with limited holiday leave aren't likely to be available at the exact same time. Being the only mom in my group of friends, the thought of ducking out on my family (even if it was just for a weekend), made me feel bad. But in the end, I convinced myself that I deserved a break. I knew I would come back relaxed and jaunty and everyone knows that a happy mom makes a happy home! So I pushed the guilt aside and prepared to leave the husband and children to fend for themselves. Wait....who am I kidding? It took several days of meticulous planning, advance grocery shopping, deciding the menu for the weekend, giving specific recipe instructions to my domestic helper and scheduling kids activities before I was ready to head out. And despite everything my heart did feel heavy as I kissed the little ones goodbye. Oh well....it's all part of the motherhood package! 





Located only 20km from Singapore and 25km from Johor in Malaysia, Batam in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago is a popular weekend getaway from the two neighbouring countries. Apart from its close proximity to Singapore, this small island is frequented by visitors because of its quiet beaches, smattering of family-friendly resorts, golf courses, discounted shopping and vibrant nightlife.



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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kidzland Indoor Playground at the Grandstand, Singapore

I can't digest the fact that after more than a decade of living in Singapore, I was finally able to make my way to The Grandstand. The amusing part being that when I did, it was at the behest of my kids!

Engulfed by lush greenery within one of Singapore’s most elite neighbourhoods, The Grandstand is an expansive lifestyle destination. The foodie that I am, my main motivation to visit had been PasarBella, a gourmet paradise tucked away in a family, lifestyle and dining enclave. To put it simply - PasarBella is a farmers market. One of my closest friends in Singapore had highly recommended going there on many occasions but it never came about.

When the day finally arrived, there was another reason for us to go which was to keep the kids engaged for a major part of the day. My parents were in Singapore and we wanted to take the kids out to someplace they would enjoy. Kidzland is one of the largest themed and integrated indoor children playground and family entertainment centre located at The Grandstand. Suitable for children aged between 2 to 10 years of age, this huge space packed with abundant activities is guaranteed to entertain the little critters!

After my kids were done grabbing a quick bite at PasarBella (while I was going around gawking at the fresh produce!), we headed over to Kidzland. It was just after opening hours on a weekday morning so we were fortunate not to encounter too much crowd during the whole time we were there. 



It was our first visit to Kidzland and thus we were non-members. The membership offered at Kidzland is free. How it works it that first, you have to register your child at the counter. You will then be given a card and you have to top-up money into the card (either $50 or $100). This stored value card then gets tapped at each station and the relevant amount of money gets deducted. If you run out of money, top up the card again. Simple enough right?

Adults entering the centre will be charged S$5 for the second and subsequent adults/guardians.

I don't know the reason but the process of registration seemed to take eternity. That was my only gripe with our experience at Kidzland. For those who don't have their own mode of transport, another could be that The Grandstand is not easily accessible by public transport so taking a cab would be the most convenient option. Anyway, moving on, once the initial formalities were over with, it was time to get in on the action! The kids had already been running around the games arcade exploring every nook and corner until then. The blinding colors and dazzling lights had done their job to keep them engaged for a while. But they were too young to really comprehend the games (that are typically catered to kids aged 4 to 10 in my opinion).

The Forest
This jungle-themed indoor soft playground is the prime play area for toddlers. It consists of 3,000 sqf of playing structures including a giant rainbow net, climbing structures, a swing, slide, merry-go-round, soft shooting & a mini rock climbing wall.

Know that all children and parents (or guardians) must wear socks and Kidzland wristbands before entering The Forest. Also be aware that re-entry is allowed for that day which means that young visitors can enter to play, exit to grab lunch at The Grandstand, and then go back in again to continue to play to their heart's content, within a day. 



My 2.5 year old toddlers were quite taken with the psychedelic rainbow net but they were too young to truly enjoy it. They did climb up and bounce a bit but after a while the novelty wore off and they wanted to explore the more age-appropriate play areas. 



They absolutely loved the giant three-lane slide and one of my twins in particular went on it about 50 times even though the ascent to the top was inundated with obstacles!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Baker's Corner: Fresh Mango Cake with Whipped Cream and a Dark Chocolate Collar

I know things have been a little quiet around here lately. My parents are in town and that has been a big welcome distraction. I love having family around....it makes coming back home after work feel all the more comforting. On the flip side, my last four weeks worth of exercise and healthy eating (in the valiant efforts to lose weight) have gone down the drain within a matter of days! All that has ever been said about a mother overindulging her children with food and exacerbating laziness is completely true! Not to mention, ever since my mum and dad set foot in my home, both my daughters attitude towards me has been on the lines of - Your kind services are no longer required. You may go now 😒 And these are kids who normally want me for everything. "Amma come here" "Amma help me", "Amma give bear hug", "Amma feed me", "Amma do this" Amma do that"......you get where I am going with this? The way things are right now, I could go on a week-long cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean and I don't think they would even notice (on second thoughts, that is not a bad idea at all!). Humph....toddlers! Not too big on gratitude are they? 😉

Anyway, I had been feeling guilty for not taking advantage of mango season this year. I had all these grand recipe ideas in my head but I failed to execute any of them. The mangoes that would make way to my household would be gone before I could do get creative with them. After a while, I just made peace with the idea that I wouldn't be featuring a recipe with mangoes on the blog anytime soon.

As luck would have it, just before my parents were due to arrive, I asked my husband to get a stash of alphonso mangoes from Little India in case they felt like eating some. On my parents arrival, I discovered they had brought with them a sackful of alphonso mangoes (that were bigger and better than the ones we had gotten!). I had about 12-15 mangoes in the refrigerator that were beginning to freak me out a little bit!

So, TADA!! Say hello to this vibrant fresh mango cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a dark chocolate collar. This was a very on-the-spur-of-the-moment kinda bake. We had family visiting us and I had already decided to bake a cake to commemorate a special occasion. A mental image of all those lovely mangoes lying around waiting to be consumed and it really was a no-brainer 💡


Believe it or not, this is not a very complicated cake. The vanilla sponge comes together quickly and the whipped cream can be made in a flash. After that it is a matter of frosting the cake (a very basic job will do), thinly slicing the mangoes, arranging them on a rosette pattern on top and making the chocolate collar. The latter two aspects are more time-consuming and requires a bit of patience.

I'm happy I attempted something different (and slightly out of my league too!). The cake turned out looking quite elegant, wasn't too sweet and was appreciated by everyone. I used up around 4 mangoes from my mango booty to make it. The rest have been slowly dwindling and we are now down to the last two!

So, I know that we are at the tail end of mango season and I may be a tad too late in bringing this recipe to you. But if you still have the king of fruit sitting around and you want to do something special with them then try this cake. If a cake decorating novice like me can pull it off then I'm pretty sure anyone can! 🙌

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Recipe of the month: Spicy Mushroom Capsicum Fry

It is Mother's Day today. The second sunday of May each year is dedicated to celebrating these selfless souls. On this particular day, moms are acknowledged for their presence in our lives and pampered. Hardly enough is it? It seems more fitting that they deserve a lifetime of appreciation. Oh well....I don't make the rules! Wishing all the mothers out there a very Happy Mother's Day! From one mother to another, know that you are important, special and irreplaceable 💖

This is going to be a short (and spicy) post! Since it is Mother's Day, I am going to share a recipe that I got from my dear mom more than a decade ago. Rewind back to the time when I was a new bride, frazzled at the thought of managing a household by herself. Before embarking on my new journey as a married woman, I got myself a notebook in which I hurriedly jotted down a handful of simple recipes (including that of dal 😝 ). Among those recipes was this one for Spicy Mushroom Capsicum Fry that I nicked from my mom's handwritten recipe book. 

This recipe just needs a handful of ingredients, looks good, tastes good and can be made within 30 mins. Sounds like a winner right? Believe me it is! It has quite a few spice powders in there so it does pack in a punch. Go easy on the chilli powder if you want to tone it down okay? I used to make this dish very often before but over the years it has appeared considerably lesser on my dinner table mainly because of the husband who prefers gravies to dry side dishes. I think this would be a perfect side dish to serve alongside a simple dal/mild curry and cooling raita with any Indian flatbread or rice dish. That way you get a nicely balanced meal. 

If you are old enough to cook for your mom, you know what you need to do! Give here the day off and put a smile on that kind face that has worked a lifetime to make sure you always have one on yours 😊