Mar 5, 2015

Saturday Super Chef: Cooking Classes for Children

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Media Invite

Children love to ask questions and there are lots of ways to feed their curiosity – starting in the kitchen. Because the kitchen can be a fascinating place for children, cooking is a fantastic activity for them to learn and practice a whole range of skills. Plus it gives them an understanding of food and where it all comes from. 

But I know what you are thinking - inviting them into the kitchen to cook is like a recipe for disaster waiting to happen, no?


Well, not if it is a kitchen other than ours!

Camp Asia - the leading Holiday Camps provider in Singapore - is launching its new Saturday Super Chef program where children 6 to 16 years get hands-on cooking and learn the importance of eating healthy food. Run over an 8-week session on Saturdays at Stamford American International School, children in different age groups will learn everything from everyday recipes as well as basic kitchen hygiene and safty which are integral to becoming confident cooks.


After teaching over 1,000 children to whip up recipe after recipe during Camp Asia's Super Chef holiday programs, Head Chef Tim Ong has joined Camp Asia as its resident culinary consultant, so that kids will not have to wait until the next school holiday to enjoy a great cooking experience.


And I was not being patronising when I said great cooking experience. Because having to manage the curiosity - and a barrage of endless questions - of the kids is never easy, I have to say Chef Tim performed admirably when it came to keeping the cooking class well under control as well as keeping the kids' interest piqued at the same time.


The monkies already love helping out in the kitchen at home so you can probably imagine the joy when they found out they were going to whip up four dishes: French Toast, Egg-in-a-hole, Chocolate Fondant and Chocolate Freckles.


Seeing the smiles and joy on the faces of the kids, I guess it isn't difficult to conclude that they all thoroughly enjoyed the cooking experiences.


Especially when it involved the use of a blow-torch!


And the best part of it all? They get to taste whatever they create right after the dishes are done.


I suppose it is nothing less than a 5-star rating then?

But the Saturday Super Chef classes are not all about fun. Not only does cooking teach essential math skills such as measuring and weighing and comprehension skills, letting the kids peel, chop, stir and serve also helps children develop their hand-eye coordination - like separating the yolk from the egg white.


Following a recipe also means focusing on the job in hand and allowing children to develop their concentration skills.


Depending on the age of your child, there are three different age-appropriate 8-week courses: Little Chefs (Ages 6 - 8), Homemade Fast Food (Ages 9 - 11) and Dishes To Save Your Life (Ages 12 - 16). But the same end result holds true for every course - they will be clamouring to try their own creations after the class!


Letting kids learn how to cook gives them an important lifelong skill and one which gives them the opportunity to learn about food and create good eating habits as part of a balanced lifestyle through the growing years. After all, we parents would not want them to solely survive on fast food and instant noodles in future right?


The monkies, along with their friends from EdUnloaded, definitely enjoyed their one-off cooking class with Chef Tim Ong.

But the greatest takeaway from the class was not the chocolate lava cakes they brought home, it was learning a few easy-to-prepare recipes and more importantly, some of the basic rules in the kitchen regarding safety and hygiene.


Besides the weekly Saturday Super Chef classes, check out the Easter Holiday Camps that Camp Asia is running too. In addition to cooking classes, there are science and sports camps to keep kids occupied. View the full schedule HERE.

For more information on the Saturday Super Chef classes, visit www.campasia.asia/saturday-super-chef.



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Mar 3, 2015

Grow Greatness with F&N MAGNOLIA Fresh Milk & Win a Staycation!

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Advertorial

Have you ever wondered how many forests are destroyed due to illegal logging? 

A LOT. 

So in a bid to save the forests and be more ecologically responsible, F&N MAGNOLIA Fresh Milk is switching its packaging to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cartons.

Hang on, what's FSC-certified cartons you ask? 

Simply put, it is a certification that ensures the packaging used in F&N MAGNOLIA Fresh Milk cartons come from responsibly managed forests and other controlled sources where new trees replace the ones that are harvested, either planted or naturally regenerated. What this also means is that choosing FSC–certified cartons supports the conservation of forests and wildlife and help people lead better lives.


But that is not all - we can also do our part to conserve the Earth by recycling the F&N MAGNOLIA FSC Fresh Milk cartons as planters for growing our very own urban greeneries at home! Getting started is so ridiculously easy that the monkies wanted to grow their tiny garden all by themselves.


Thanks to F&N MAGNOLIA, we were sent some Starter Kits which came complete with a jiffy pellet (soil) and plant seeds to start the Grow Greatness movement.


After cutting the milk carton in half, we placed the jiffy pellet into the planter box, added 50ml of water and within 10 minutes, it expanded to a height of 50mm! I think the monkies were pretty amazed by its transformation!


Ale then had the honour of placing the seeds onto the surface of the soil.


And that was about it, really. All that was needed was regular watering and a dose of patience.


Over the next few days, the monkies paid the seeds so much attention that I was starting to get jealous. They never once forgot to check on them, water when necessary and Ale even cajoled them into speeding up the growing process.

Well, they must have did something right because, this pretty sight greeted them as the days progressed.


In fact, they had grown so much that we had to transfer the young plants into a bigger pot!


Every kid should know where his/her food comes from, and have at least a basic knowledge of how to plant and nurture a seed to its tasty fruition. PLUS the fact that all of us have a role to play in caring for Mother Nature and cultivating the habit of being ecologically responsible in our future generations.

So not only does the Growing Greatness movement invites families to care for the environment in a fun and interactive manner and support FSC™-certified products at the same time, parents can recycle the new F&N MAGNOLIA FSC Fresh Milk cartons as plant pots for their kids to start an urban garden at home - and bond over a meaningful project in the process.


As an added treat, how about winning a 3D2N stay at Siloso Beach Resort for the family?

Simply take photos of your Grow Greatness plant grown in F&N MAGNOLIA Fresh Milk cartons and upload them on Instagram with hashtags #fnnmagnolia, #magnoliafsc and #growgreatnessSG. THREE lucky winners will each win a 3D2N stay at eco-friendly Siloso Beach Resort! For more information, please visit F&N MAGNOLIA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MagnoliaSG

So... how's this for a superb FOUR-in-ONE: Pledge to protect the environment, create your very own urban garden, get a chance to win a staycation at Sentosa AND enjoy that delicious, smooth and creamy taste of F&N MAGNOLIA fresh milk - simply by choosing F&N MAGNOLIA FSC™-certified Fresh Milk cartons!



F&N MAGNOLIA retails at all supermarkets, hypermarkets and participating retail outlets. Visit www.magnolia.com.sg for more details on the full range of wholesome dairy goodness from F&N MAGNOLIA. 


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Mar 2, 2015

What We Parents Say to our Kids & What They Really Mean

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As children growing up, we have heard them all.

Now as parents, it is our turn to say them - the things we parents say when we actually mean something else. Because quite frankly, we are a terrible bunch at saying what we mean.

Interestingly, there are so many more layers to the common phrases that many of us say to our kids. On the surface, they’re pretty clear and self-explanatory. But surprisingly, the truth is that they are anything but.

Don't believe? How about these examples... which I am guilty of saying every now and then.


What We Say: Not now, see how.
What We Mean: NEVER.

What We Say: Maybe later.
What We Mean: It's a NO, but I can't deal with your emotions now.

What We Say: After you wake up from your nap.
What We Mean: I hope you forget.

What We Say: Go Ask Mum/Dad.
What We Mean: Go away and go irritate Mum/Dad instead!

What We Say: Because I said so.
What We Mean: Look, there is no way I'm going to lose this battle and this is my last resort.

What We Say: I'm not going to say it again.
What We Mean: I'm resigned to repeating it for the next 100 times.

What We Say: You are going to grow so strong and tall by finishing your vegetables.
What We Mean: I paid for that, and you are going to eat it whether you like it or not.

What We Say: No more toys, you already have so many!
What We Mean: Please motivate me with your tears.

What We Say: Goodnight, sweetie.
What We Mean: I AM FREE!

What We Say: You want to play with my smartphone?
What We Mean: You promise to allow me enjoy some peace right?

All we can now hope is our kids will never learn the true meanings behind our words!


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Feb 27, 2015

12 Great Child-Friendly Restaurants in Singapore (REVISED!)

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Fresh from revising my list of Singapore's Top Indoor Playgrounds, I figured another list which could do with some updating is the one which involves some of the most Kids-Friendly Restaurants in Singapore.

Because let's face it - parents are always on the constant lookout for restaurants that satisfy both their palates and their children's with extra activities to keep them occupied. So here is a listing of 12 kid-friendly restaurants that we have been to and hopefully, it will also give you some enjoyable and affordable dining options that will leave everyone in your family feeling full and happy.


1. Eatplaylove Cafe

Kids Like: Where else in Singapore can you find a quaint retro cafe that serves up reasonable food fare, coupled with an awesome crafting corner for kids? EatPlayLove Cafe is such a place - a stylish retro cafe with all things vintage, whimsical and full of nostalgia. An entire crafting corner for kids is THE main highlight for kids here, with loads of crafting materials and ideas abound.

Kids Eat: The eatery serves a mix of Thai-inspired cuisine, Western dishes and sandwiches, and the best thing is that the prices are rather reasonable with each dish averaging $10 to $15. Kids should adore the Pineapple rice and Macaroni & Cheese.


Price Range: $$ per pax | Crafting Corner Costs:  $5/child per 2 hrs on Weekdays & $5/child per for 1st hour on Weekends, Public Holidays and School Holidays. Subsequent charges are at $2.50 per 30-minute block. *Craft Prices correct at time of printing

Address: 28 Aliwal Street, Aliwal Arts Centre,#01-07, Singapore 199918
Opening Hours: 12pm - 10pm daily | Closed on Tues


2. Saizeriya Ristorante E Caffe

Kids Like: If your kids have as a voracious appetite like mine, you can probably empathize how dining outside is getting tougher on the wallet. So thankfully, there is Saizeriya – a Japanese chain of casual, low-priced Italian Restaurant famed for its wallet-friendly jaw-dropping prices. There are no special playrooms or activities for kids here though, but the food prices are enough to turn us into repeat customers, especially with the Free Flow Kids Drink Bar ($1.40 per child)!

Kids Eat: Just how affordable is the food at Saizeriya? Try the half-dozen escargots for $5.90! Or how about the Pineapple & Bacon pizza at $6.40 and Chicken Bolognese Cheese-baked rice at $4.90? Overall, the food is above average and that alone will keep us going back for more.


Price Range: $ per pax (No service charge and GST)

Address:
Liang Court (177 River Valley Road, #02-22, Liang Court Shopping Centre Singapore 179030)
City Square (180 Kitchener Road, #B2-55/56, City Square Mall Singapore 208539)
Bukit Timah (1 Jalan Bukit Anak, #02-24C, Bukit Timah Plaza Singapore 588996)
Toa Payoh Central (HDB Toa Payoh #02-514, 190 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, 310190)
Hougang 1 (1 Hougang Street 91, #01-38 Singapore 538692)
The Cathay (2 Handy Road #B1-25/26/27 Singapore 229233)
Orchard Gateway (277 Orchard Road #B2-11 Orchard Gateway Singapore 238858)
Bukit Batok NS Hometeam (2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7 #01-07 A/B Hometeam NS Bukit Batok Clubhouse Singapore 659003)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm daily

3. Belly View Restaurant

Kids Like: Tucked away in a hidden corner of Changi is this gem of an alfresco dining place that whips up delicious tze-char food. Families can choose to dine on the boardwalk, right beside a kick-ass scenic coastal view and under the rustling palm trees. Kids will be preoccupied with the mini playground, wooden swing, hammock and the vast open space. Or if that isn't enough, there is always the common sightings of aeroplanes which whizz by as they are making their landing at nearby Changi Airport.

Kids Eat: Admittedly, the main draw here is the secluded location so while the food wouldn’t win any food awards, the tze-char fare is pretty decent. The dishes that particularly stood out were the Fish Head Curry (their signature dish), Home-made Tofu, Salted Yolk Prawns and Fried Mee Sua. 


Price Range: $$ per pax (No service charge and GST)

Address: 10 Changi Coast Walk, National Service Resort Country Club (beside Constant Wind Sailing Centre), Singapore 499739
Opening Hours: 11am - 10pm daily


4. Nook: D.I.Y. House of Pancakes

Kids Like: If you are looking for a dining place where kids (and the parents) can play with food to their hearts' content, then Nook is it. This is one cool place where you get to make, doodle, flip your own pancakes and eat your own creations! And the best part? The kids polished off every single morsel on their plates without me having to nag.

Kids Eat: Pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes! But in case you are craving for something saltier, the restaurant serves all-day breakfast meals too. But the one must-try item on the menu is Nook’s Awesome Cheese Burger soup – yes, I never knew that slurping the soup form of a cheeseburger could be so addictive!


Price Range: $$ per pax 

Address: Bukit Timah, 21 Lorong Kilat, #01-03, Singapore 598123
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 12pm-9pm | Sat & Sun 10am -10pm |Closed on Tue
Website: http://nook.sg/


5. Marché Mövenpick Suntec City 

Kids Like: At over 1,000 square metres, this newest Marché restaurant – and its third in Singapore - is one absolute winner for families. Of course there are the typical colouring sheets and craft sets to hold the kids’ attention, but what they will really dig is the Windmill-themed play area! Almost twice as large as its counterpart in Marché 313 Somerset, the kids’ double-storey play area comes with a mini-bridge and a stairway leading to a hideout on the second floor.

Kids Eat: Marché takes pride in serving healthy nutritional food. For $10.90+, kids get to choose from homemade pastas, pizzas, rosti and crepes with a drink. For parents with young toddlers, a microwave at the Baby Service Station beside the kids’ corner is available.


Price Range: $$ per pax

Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard #01-612
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm daily
Website: www.marche-restaurants.com/en/marche-moevenpick-suntec


6. The Bank Bar + Bistro

Kids Like: Located in the redeveloped part of the Central Business District (CBD), The Bank Bar + Bistro exudes an old world charm with its dark wood furnishings and leather seats, complete with motifs of Straits Settlement money. But what really endeared me to the place was a separate playroom specially devoted to the kids while the adults tucked into saliva-inducing Weekend Roast and All-Day Breakfast offerings (9am – 6pm on weekends).

Kids Eat: The kids’ menu consists of the usual suspects – ham & cheese sandwich, pancakes, fish & chips and pasta while the adults can take great delight in choosing between Roasted Striploin, Roasted Half-spring Chicken and other All-Day Breakfast items. And here’s something even sweeter - Kids eat FREE all weekend (information correct at press time)! For every main course ordered, your kid will get to enjoy his/her entree FREE-OF-CHARGE.


Price Range: $$$ per pax (No service charge)

Address: #01-01 One Shenton, 1 Shenton Way, Singapore 068803
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11am – 12am | Sat & Sun 9am – 12am
Website: www.thebankbar.com


7. Cafe Melba

Kids Love: Located in the grounds of the Goodman Arts Centre (near Mountbatten MRT), Cafe Melba exudes a laid-back charm, with a rather spacious interior and exterior to match. The café faces an expansive green field,  where footballs and rugby balls are freely available for kids to play with. Come every weekend (or public holidays), two bouncy castles will be set up on the lawns which will no doubt bring joy to every single kid.

Kids Eat: Cafe Melba serves up food inspired from Melbourne and Asia (MELB + A = MELBA). A must-try is the Pancakes, which are fluffy, rather cake-like and non-greasy.


Price Range: $$ -$$$ per pax

Address: 90 Goodman Road, Block N #01-56, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore 439053
Opening Hours: Weekdays 10am - 10pm | Weekends & PHs 8:30am - 10pm


8. Timbre @ Gillman

Kids Love: Tucked away in a sleepy corner of Gillman Barracks, Timbre @ Gillman is exactly the sort of place where one can afford to kick back and chill the weekend away. Especially if you head down on the first Saturday of every month, where the Saturday Social BBQ will offer lots of craft activities to keep your young ones duly occupied. Or how about the huge open green field to let them just run amok as you sip on your pint of ice cold beer?

Kids Eat: Adults can their their pick from Baby Back Ribs, Pork Sausage, Sirloin Steak, Lamb Leg, Chicken or Squid (between S$12++ to S$18++) and complement with one of Timbre's excellent beer selection. Kids will be able to place their own orders from the Kids Menu via an iPad, which offers the usual suspects like Fish & Chips and Spaghetti Bolognese.


Price Range: $$$ per pax

Address: Block 9A Lock Road, Singapore 108926
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu 4pm - 11.30pm | Fri, Sat & eve of PHs 5pm to 12.30am | Closed on Sun | Saturday Social BBQ Hours - 4pm til late
Website: www.timbregroup.asia/timbresg/main.asp


9. District 10 at UE Square

Kids Like: Who can say no to a hearty brunch on a lazy Sunday morning with the entire family? Especially when a huge bouncy castle is thrown into the mix! That’s right - a Bouncy Castle is specially inflated for the kids every Sunday (11am to 3pm) and it is strategically placed right beside the outdoor dining area, so that parents are able to sneak a peek at what their young-lings are up to via a see-through netting at the side of the bouncy castle.

Kids Eat: We had the Hoegaarden Battered Fish & Chips while the kids tucked into the Eggs Florentine and Pandan-Coconut Pancakes with Gula Melaka Syrup.


Price Range: $$$ per pax

Address: 81 Clemenceau Avenue #01-15/16/17, UE Square Shopping Mall, Singapore 239917
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs 11.30am - 12am | Fri & PH Eve 11.30am - 1am | Sat 9am - 12am | Sun & PHs 9am – 11pm
Weekend Brunch Hours: 11am to 3pm *Bouncy Castle on Sundays only.
Website: www.district10.com.sg/uesquare/


10. Slappy Cakes

Kids Like: Another DIY pancakes eatery where kids need no invitation to play with their food, kids can have their say in choosing the pancake batter and toppings. Squirt, slap and paint the griddle with whatever batter you fancy and then splatter it with your choice of fixings and toppings, before eating it all up like a messed up kid. Who says food can't be fun? And the best part - kids can never complain about the food because they made it themselves!

Kids Eat: Purely pancakes with five batter mixes to choose from – Buttermilk, Wholegrain, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Zucchini. Yes, the latter is a rather refreshing and interesting flavor I have to say.


Price Range: $$ per pax

Address: 
200 Turf Club Road, #01-20/21, The Grandstand, Singapore 287994
26 Sentosa Gateway (next to Universal Studios), #01-29, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore 098269
Opening Hours: 
The Grandstand: Tue - Fri 10am - 9.30pm | Sat, Sun & PHs 8am - 9.30pm | Closed on Mon
Resorts World Sentosa: 8am – 9.30pm daily
Website: www.slappycakes.com.sg


11. Rochester House

Kids Love: Just reopened after an extensive renovation, Rochester House has an outdoor café with a children’s play area that offers both indoor and outdoor fun. No indoor tall spiralling slides here, but The Playhouse is peppered with loads of toys in every corner - a make-believe cooking kitchen play area, an area where dress-up play is encouraged, and even a mini slide with a ball pit. The outdoor area boasts a water play area, garden, trampoline and small cars that kids can drive around the astro turf ‘road’.

Kids Eat: There is plenty of entertainment to keep the little ones occupied while you relax in the adjoining Rochester Cafe, which offers healthy options such as steamed fish and veggies or meat loaf.


Price Range: $$ - $$$ per pax

Address: 7 Rochester Park, Singapore 139218
Opening Hours: Tues - Fri 11am - 8pm | Sat & Sun 10am - 8pm
*The Playhouse: 1 hour Play-pass $8 | 2 hours Play-pass  @ $10 | Unlimited Play-pass @ $15
Website: www.rochesterhouse.com.sg


12. Treehouse Café

Kids Love: Treehouse Café offers indoor treehouse and play area as well as a dedicated programme of activities for children, ensuring that the little ones are well-entertained in a fun and educational environment. Regular activities are held every Sunday and are a hit with children and adults alike. These activities are free for dine-in customers. Art & craft activities are held on first, third and fifth (if any) Sunday of the month from 11.30am - 2.30pm. Face and hand painting and balloon sculpting take place on every second and fourth Sunday of the month from 12.30pm - 2.30pm.

Kids Eat: Established for families who enjoy its child-friendly facilities as well a variety of European and Asian dishes that cater to three generations of diners, the cafe also serves up a Children's Menu which features Pizza, Pasta and Pancakes.


Price Range: $$ - $$$ per pax

Address: 200 Turf Club Road #01-17 The Grandstand, Singapore 287994
Opening Hours: Mon – Thur 11:30am - 9pm | Fri & Eve of PHs 11:30am - 10pm | Sat 10am - 10pm | Sun & PHs 10am - 9pm
Website: www.treehousecafe.com.sg


Do you have any other child-friendly eateries in Singapore to share? 

Do let us know in the comments below! 


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Feb 26, 2015

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station Open House

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It has been slightly more than three years and a half since the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station bade farewell to the last train.  Although gazetted as a National Monument in 2013, the now silent station is but an empty shell and remains out of bounds to the general public save for special events.

Well not anymore. The second day of the Chinese New Year saw the beginning of the station being made accessible to everyone on public holidays. And when there is a chance to allow my monkies to be exposed to a part of Singapore's history, you can be certain we will be there.


Very cooperative models I have got, no?

The distinctive architectural style of the building is an ornamented Art Deco one - an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. On its exterior are four pillars with large statues, each symbolising one of the then Malaya’s four economic pillars, Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport.


Inside the main public hall, the lobby features batik-styled mosaic mural panels filled with Malayan scenes: rice planting, rubber tapping, shipping activities, bullock cart transport, crop-growing and tin mining.


But there was always only going to be one place that the monkies were going to zoom to.


The railway tracks, of course!


How often can one get to walk - or sit on - an actual railway SAFELY? Heh.

It turned out that there were quite a number of other families and people who took the opportunity to drop by the station and snap photos against the scenic backdrop. The wifey and I, included.


One of the last remaining bits of heritage left in the Tanjong Pagar area, the station is truly a place that offers a serene surrounding that can no longer be found in modern Singapore. Like a place forgotten by time, the silent beauty of the station took us back to a time when Singapore was much simpler as the monkies had a field day exploring the many now-empty control brick rooms.


Personally, I would have loved it more if there were fringe activities such as a guided tour and a photo exhibition depicting the grand contributions of the station, so that families with young kids can learn more and partake in its history. Perhaps for future Open Houses?

But either way, it is definitely a great place to visit the historical monument for a leisurely stroll along the track with the family and obviously, take photos and more photos.


It is always important to allow places of historical significance like the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to remain accessible to the general public, so that not only adults but kids too will be able to know more about its significance to Singapore during its 79 years of operation.


Well, the monkies sure had their fair share of fun.

And if you are thinking of bringing your kids down for a stroll, you do not have to wait until the next public holiday. The station will be open to public again TOMORROW (27 Feb 2015) for a flea market from 6pm to 11pm. Don't miss it!


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