Sunday, January 10, 2016

Monkey business for Chinese New Year 2016.

For the past couple of years, I have made it a point to wear my traditional ethnic clothes for Chinese New Year because I wish my kids will follow in my footsteps and learn more about their own culture.

This year, I managed to buy mandarin-collared shirts for Adam and Ashton as you would know, ethnic clothes and costumes for boys are like finding for a needle in a haystack.
Happened that we came across this boutique in B2 Changi Airport Terminal 3 in front of Sing Kids which was selling children's Mandarin-collared shirts and some very pretty cheongsams for little girls.
Do take note that the mandarin shirts in this particular colour did not come with the Chinese knot buttons, hence I had to go on a hunt with Hubby at Chinatown to search for those buttons to DIY my own.

After Mama's done with her sewing, off we go to the Chinese Garden at Lakeside for our CNY 2016 photoshoot!

chinese garden singapore 2016

chinese garden photoshoot

chinese garden photoshoot

chinese garden photoshoot

chinese garden photoshoot

chinese garden photoshoot

Tips for taking photos of kids:
- Ensure they have enough rest and nap time before the photoshoot

- If they are old enough to understand, I usually prep talk them by telling them where we will be going later for the photoshoot and how I expect them to behave.

- Choose to go on weekdays or off-peak season (non-school holidays, not too near the CNY period) to avoid crowds and photobombers.

- Try to stick to a theme and also to centre your photos around the signature features of the place.
Eg. Twin pagodas at Chinese Garden/ fire crackers, poppies and peonies deco, CNY snack sales if you are at Chinatown/ a plain background with a nice vase of pussy willows & peonies if in your own home.

- Set aside about an hour max for the photoshoot if outdoors, and 30 min if indoors due to short attention span of children.

- Allow your kids to play and monkey around to let them "warm up".
I find that I end up liking more of the spontaneous happy-grin types of photos better than the posey-posey ones.

Where to buy CNY clothes for your kids (boys and girls included):
Baby Pixie Online Singapore: Mandarin-collared shirts, pants, cheongsams from $25 onwards.
Mother-daughter matching sets available.

Elly Loves: Baby CNY rompers, shirts, pants, cheongsams and even shoes. They are having a sale now. Prices from $27 onwards for selected designs, otherwise priced at $45 onwards for shirts and $39 for shoes.

Uptown Kidz or Little Qipao: Cheongsams, boys mandarin-collared shirts, and adult cheongsams from $59.90 for boys' shirts and $139 for adult cheongsams.
**Also available at Takashimaya Level 4 Children's Department from 4 Jan 2016 - 7 Feb 2016.

Brick & motar stores: Boutique opposite SingKids at Changi Airport Terminal 3 B2; Chinatown People's Park.

Did not do any photoshoot in 2015 (Goat) as I was lazy  busy and the photos are all on my Facebook :P

Click on this image linky below for other CNY-related blog posts on Mumzilla.
If you would like to link up, do let me know your blog post address and I will add on to this post!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

[Travel Tuesday] Clubmed Phuket December 2015: Day 3

I We survived the first day of school on Monday, it was a first of many things for us.
New school, new environment, new learning journey, and first time Adam will be away from home for the whole day.
We enrolled him into a Student care, as I seriously doubt my helper will be able to cope with her chores plus supervise Adam in his school work.
She's a domestic worker, not a teacher, so I shouldn't even be thinking of this as an option too.

With Adam in Student Care, it will also mean no more couple dates out after work for us, we have to cheong back to the East to fetch the kids! (Not looking forward to that.)

Anyway, it is off to school Day 2 and parents are not allowed to hover around from Day 2 onwards so here is my last instalment of our December Phuket trip.

Arranged a dinner date with my cousins and uncle on one of the nights while we were all still in Phuket.
It's a small world after all :P

Horror faces on my boys #whytheysolikethat

My Ashton doesn't like water but every time go pool also must full body kit including goggles. As if his head ever goes under water LOL.

We didn't stay in Clubmed on the last day.
We checked out and booked a day tour around the area, which includes Go-Karting.
We took the double-seaters so the kids could play too.

phuket tiger zoo
We also went to the Tiger Zoo.
It was expensive, and not really worth it if you ask me.
The tigers were all kept in enclosures alike cages, unlike the Tiger Temple ones, and we had to queue very long just to go into the enclosure for a mere 10 minutes.

The tigers did nothing but lounge around looking pretty.

And soon the little ones got bored, including the furry one as you can see below:

A sleepyhead who was oblivious to everything going on. It just slept and slept!

phuket tiger zoo
We even suspected it was sedated on purpose! though the zoo claimed otherwise. Hmmmmm,

It was a teeny tiny zoo, with only a handful of tigers which visitors can take photos with.
But still, there were other cages with "off limits" tigers like the Siberian tigers.
I kinda felt duped because I had expected a free-range safari-like experience akin to the famous Tiger Temple.

Anyway, I think it is better to take your tourism dollar elsewhere.

We then went to take the buggy rides from the foot of a hill all the way up to the Big Buddha temple.

My virgin experience operating this machine and it was fun!

Andy took Adam while I took Ashton.

When we finally rode back down, the kids wanted to buy a basket of bananas to feed this young elephant.

The elephant roped the Birthday Boy in for a kiss!

Happy Birthday Hon!
Thank you for always being there for the boys and me.
We have been through so many years of ups and downs, challenges and celebrations, failures and victories, and I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with you.
We make a great team if I may say so myself :)

clubmed phuket travelogue singapore
Merry Christmas from the Tan-meisters!

Bye bye Clubmed and Phuket! The kids enjoyed their vacation :)

Phuket trip Day 1 and Day 2 are also up :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

CNY clothes shopping: Traditional Peranakan costumes in Singapore.

In modern Singapore, ehtnic costumes are not easy to find if you don't know the right places.
Afterall, they are not readily sold at shopping centres.
For Chinese New Year in 2016, I have decided to put aside my usual cheongsams and don the Nyonya kebaya instead.

I know it is only January and seems early days yet, but trust me, sometimes you may have to go a few places before settling on something you fancy, and also give and take some alteration etc, you need to give yourself some lead time.
Besides, I like to do my shopping sporadically to avoid the festive crowd and out-of-stock/ out-of-sizes situations.

A little history about Peranakan people: 
Peranakan Chinese are the Chinese descendants who came to the Malay archipelago between the 15th and 17th centuries and settled around Asia, largely in the Straits of Malacca and Eastern part of Singapore.
They were usually the traders and businessmen, who throughout the years became more Malay than Chinese.
My father-in-law is one such Peranakan.
An here's a little more about my family background which I have never talked about:

I am born to a set of Cantonese parents, whose own parents came from Guangdong in China to settle down in Singapore, with some Hong Kong and some still in China.
Back in the day, it was common for same dialect marriages, although now pure dialect Chinese have become "diluted" due to mixed marriages and so on.
I am one such example.
Being a pure Cantonese, I married a half-Peranakan and half-Indonesian Chinese man.
My father-in-law and his family are Nyonya-Babas, my mother-in-law is an Indonesian Chinese.
My FIL is a true Peranakan, in the sense that he still only speaks Malay Bahasa, English, and Hokkien. Ask him to speak Mandarin and he's like a fish out of water.
So come with me as I visit my husband's roots and learn more about the Peranakan culture :)
First stop:
We went to Rumah Bebe, at 113 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428803, just opposite I12 Katong Shopping Mall.
Tel: 62478781
Love the setup and colours of the shop. So colourful!
Did I forget to mention that one of the beauties of Peranakan culture is their love for vibrant colours. There is simply no mismatch to worry about because anything goes, literally!

Check out the fine porcelain vases and tiffins on display. Very exquisite.

Step inside and you will immediately be greeted by very friendly sales staff wearing the nyonya kebaya and a display of their ready-to-wear collection.

Prices for ready-to-wear start from $80 for the kebeya blouse, and $65 for the sarong batik.
They are considered cheap because there are some at the $300-$400 range.

I was very lucky that the lady boss, Mdm Bebe Seet herself, attended to me.
She was very friendly and did not look down on the fact that I have zero knowledge about her culture!

In fact, her interest piqued when Andy explained that he is half-Peranakan that is why his (crazy) wife decided to wear nyonya kebaya for CNY 2016, and she asked about Andy's grandma's culinary skills. LOL... 

There were signages in the shop which said "No photography" but Mdm Bebe was very kind and allowed us since she said I was buying the kebaya for myself.
Andy asked Mdm Bebe to give me a size up so that I have allowance for food........ >_<

Handmade beaded sandals (kasut manek) start from $150 onwards.

Rumah Bebe also sells some Peranakan kuehs.

Thanks Rumah Bebe for the positive experience as a first-time kebaya buyer.
You ladies were so patient with me.
I like that the prices are on the lower side (starting from $80 for blouse and $65 for sarong) because there are many people like me who only wear their traditional costumes once or twice during CNY and times like D&D or Racial Harmony Day, so really no point to spend $300-$400 on a blouse no matter how intricately hand-sewn they are.

Another advantage of setting more affordable prices is that there will be more people willing to part with their money to buy these traditional costumes/ collectors' items and pique their interest in learning the dwindling Peranakan culture.

Next on, I hopped over next door to Rumah Kim Choo, which is the more famous one, according to Trip Advisor.
Address: 109 - 111 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428801 (opposite I12 Katong Mall)
Tel: 67412125

Rumah Kim Choo (Kim Choo House) has a shop front selling Peranakan kueh chang, or delicacies.
But come upstairs and you will be surprised that it is actually a museum of sorts, with some displays of their traditional porcelain and metal tiffin tingkats.

Those of you who like vintage stuff will love this place.

Look at those delicate hand work on the bed linen! How does one sleep on them and not damage them?

Rumah Kim Choo also has made-to-measure as well as ready-to-wear collections.
Prices start from $138 onwards, and are a bit on the pricey side.

They also sell children's Baju lokchuan (for males), and mini nyonya kebayas for your little nyonyas.

The beadwork sandals, aka kasut manek, are all handmade. I cannot imagine how their eyesight must be like! #Iwillcockeye

On a separate day, I went to Toko Aljunied after ending work.
91 Arab Street Singapore 199791.
Tel: 62946897

At Toko Aljunied, the tailor on site will help you alter your kebaya FOC to make it more body-hugging and flattering.
They sell a wider variety of sarongs too.
Prices for kebayas start from $90, and a complete sarong + kebaya set starts from $135.

Tip for caring for your nyonya kebaya:
- Only handwash, and soak the kebaya and sarong separately, because sometimes the batik colours can transfer.

- Never hang the kebaya top when storing as due to the Laws of Gravity, the lacy parts will droop and become longer. Instead, fold them up nicely when keeping in your wardrobe.
- Always try on the clothings and never assume that size S for one sarong is also same measurement for another Sarong in S. Because they are hand sewn and there may be discrepancies in measurements by the different seamstresses.

- Start pinning your kebaya from bottom up after you align the hems. Use the smallest safety pins to pin the hems in place before using the kerosang if you are a newbie like me.