Thursday, April 17, 2014

AIA Vitality Challenge - Health is Wealth

Getting myself into an exercise regime has been at the back of my mind for a long time. It's not that I need to lose weight; I need to lose, I don't know - jiggle? Squishyness?

Once upon a time, I was to be fit! I used to be fit! I was part of the school's Track and Field team for a while for crying out loud! Now I just make excuse after excuse for not exercising:

- I live in a 4-storey walk-up : surely that's enough exercise?
- I mop the floor :  that's a good arm work out, right?
- I chase after the kids : certainly I've burnt some calories along the way?
- 2 kids and no maid : where got time!

So when AIA approached me to take up the AIA Vitality Challenge, I knew that this was the push I needed. A wellness programme that rewards me for getting healthier? Why not?

The basis of how AIA Vitality works is simple. First, you have to know how healthy you are by doing the Vitality Health Review online and/or go for your Vitality Health Check at selected Guardian Health and Beauty stores. This is an essential first step to knowing your health so that you can work on improving it.

So that was just what I did. I went for a health check up (how quick? Like 10 minute quick!) at Guardian Pharmacy at Ion Orchard and yippee yay - I'm in good shape!

Blood glucose level : checked!

Blood pressure level : checked!

My results! 19.2 BMI - not bad! Height and weight: normal, blood glucose level: normal, yay!
Here the Pharmacist is explaining my results to me, not handing me a graduation certificate of sorts

The great thing is, as an AIA Vitality member, the Vitality Health Check only costs $15 (including GST) and after completing it, I even got a $10 Guardian Health and Beauty voucher, upon payment (which I promptly used to buy a step counter!). This is how AIA Vitality rewards you for doing your health check!

I'd always known that I walk quite a bit so the step counter was a good thing to get to count exactly how much I actually walk. I bought the Omron pedometer to count the number of steps I take, but the good news for AIA Vitality members is that you can get 33% off the Polar Loop activity tracker or 25% for the fitbug or Adidas miCoach.

This was how many steps I took in 2 hours in the evening. Apparently 10000 steps per day is good.

If you are extremely motivated, you can even pose challenges to your friends who are AIA Vitality members or other members of the community to a 5km walk or run for example. In fact, you can even challenge yourself! 

Upon the completion of each challenge, you get to earn AIA Vitality points. The more points you earn, the greater the rewards. I love it! It's like a game of sorts, where I am not just challenged to get healthier, but also, stand to enjoy the fruits of my labour – score!

In total, there are 5 categories of challenges to choose from: 

- Lifestyle and well-being
Pregnancy and parenting
Nutrition and weight management
Health conditions
Fitness and Exercise

"Say No to Sweets and Soft Drinks for 7 Days"
We seldom order drinks when dining out. At home however, I don't know when the habit started but my husband and I share a can of Coke Zero with almost every meal. Can I go back to having plain ole plain water for seven days in a row? I don't see why not!

I pushed myself to go for my first day-time run since - oh I don't know - Sec 4?

"Work out for 5 Days a Week"
This may sound crazy at first glance but upon closer reading, the challenge simply calls for one workout for 30 minutes or more a day, for 5 days a week. That's not impossible to do; I just have to set aside the time for it. The spirit has always been willing, but I will no longer accept the excuse of the flesh being weak! I'm going to do this!

The AIA Vitality app, available on the Apple store and Google Play,  has a GPS tracker so you can track the amount of calories you’re losing from walking, running, cycling…the works! It’s seamless so you can earn up to 100 points a day for qualifying recorded workouts

"Keep a food diary"
I have to confess - I am guilty of cooking and ordering the same foods over and over. There is little variety in what gets served at home, and the only purpose cook books serve is dust collection. However, ever since joining AIA Vitality, I have become more conscious of what I eat, a first step towards improving my nutritional intake. So I thought, why not refer to those healthy recipes and whip up a hearty meal for myself and my family?  

Examples of other challenges include "Stop Smoking", "Track Your Weight for 4 Weeks", and "Say No to Alcoholic Drinks for a Week", just to name a few.

I love how each challenge gives very specific information like for my first challenge, "Say No to Sweets and Soft Drinks for 7 Days", I learnt that a low sugar intake can boost energy levels and moods and blood sugar levels will be more stable. Also, a low sugar diet limits the chance of tooth decay. Good to know.

And then what, you say?

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present... the AIA Vitality rewards!

How does saving 50% on Royal Caribbean Cruises, Air Asia and Emirates flights sound to you? Cause they sure sound mighty good to me! That's what I look forward to enjoying, once I hit Platinum status. 

You can also enjoy the following discounts with AIA Vitality's list of quality partners. They include:
-         Discounted movie tickets at Cathay Cineplexes
-         Discounts of up to 65% on membership with True Fitness gym
-         25% off Adidas products
-         Dental maintenance packages at Q&M dental group

For the full list of partners and discounts, see here.  

AIA Vitality membership is available to all existing AIA policy holders and is priced at $108 per year. If you're an AIA Vitality member, or are intending to become one (hey, I don't profit from your signing up, by the way), feel free to look me up for challenges!

For more information on AIA Vitality, check out their website, or Facebook page.

And specially for you, I have 2 X AIA Vitality memberships worth $108 each to give away! (only for AIA Singapore policyholders). Simply follow the steps below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This is part 2 of a 2-part series brought to you by AIA in collaboration with Gingerbreadmum. Existing Terms and Conditions as set by the respective company and / or supporting partners apply. Please check for further details. All information is correct at time of post. AIA reserves all rights to discontinue or amend existing clauses without prior notice, and its sole discretion. In no event shall Gingerbreadmum be held liable or responsible for disputes arising between AIA and any parties. Neither shall I be liable for any indirect, consequential, incidental, special or punitive damages or losses of any kind.

Makan and Massage Mission in Nagoya, Batam

There are some holidays where you just want to kick off your shoes and spend hours lying at the beach. But we were a party of 3 mums of young kids on holiday, sans the kids. So items on the to-do list simply were : "pig out, pig out, pig out! Big seafood dinner! Spicy food! Non child friendly food!!"

This was our 3D2N holiday. No cultural experiences included, no scenic photo opportunities. We didn't even venture far from our hotel. Just 3 mums on a makan and massage mission.

Here we go!

Getting there
Batam is a mere 45-minute ferry ride from Harbourfront Shopping Centre in Singapore. It's SGD$50 for a 2-way ferry ticket. The 1140am (Singapore time) ferry, will allow you to arrive at 1130am (Batam time - Batam is one hour behind Singapore) - just in time to get to your hotel, check in, and head out for lunch. 

Tip: be sure to check which ferry terminal you're headed to. Batam has the reputation of a place where cheeky old men keep their mistresses so I reckon that's not where you want to head to (unless you're a cheeky old man and in that case  you're on the wrong blog). You'll want Harbor Bay terminal - apparently the other ones are the more um, infamous venues.

Getting around
There are more taxis than people. Any time you step out of anywhere, there'll be a throng of taxi drivers calling out to you. There are the standard taxis and private taxis; you'll even find familiar Silver cabs. There are also little vans that pick customers up along the way and possibly drop them off along a pre-destined route. Or not. I don't know. We stayed clear of them. Rule of thumb: trust your instinct.

Tip: Ask for prices before boarding and pay what you're comfortable with. Bargain if you like but remember that you may feel the satisfaction of saving a few cents, but you're affecting someone else's livelihood. 

About as high as you can get in the area
We stayed at Nagoya Mansion in the Nagoya Hills area. It is a fairly new hotel and exceptionally well priced. For a 2-bedroom apartment (1 queen bed and 1 single bed) with a small kitchenette and living area, the three of us each paid about SGD$50 a night. Ok make that amazingly priced. Bed and pillows were super comfortable! 

The location is superb. The view is amazing   Breakfast was so-so. But it's got an egg counter and to me, egg counters are life savers. Pool is a good size and everything's new and clean. 

Tip: order a car to pick you up at the ferry terminal. It costs less than SGD$10 and saves you the hassle at haggling with taxi drivers about fares.
Restoran Sederhana
Windsor Central Blok B No.1 Nagoya

Hands down, our favourite meal of the trip. The plates arrive from the very moment you sit down. Plate after plate after plate they'll come. Curry chicken, satay, sambal fish, vegetables, beef rendang, curry fish head... 

Eat what you want and pay for only what you eat. The rest of it will (guess what) get recycled. As in the next table will eat whatever you've not touched. Or even what you've touched. Like if there are two pieces of chicken on the plate and you take one, the other one gets passed on. If you're ok with that, then Restoran Sederhana is a must. The food is delicious and reasonably priced.

Must try: Sambal fish, satay with kecap manis plus peanut gravy. Heavenly! And the soursop juice! Oh my.

Warung Cobain
Food Street, Level 1, Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre
Sometimes on holiday you do all your research but somehow stumble upon a place that hasn't made it to any list of recommendations but is so good, you feel like you want to tell the whole world. 

Warung Cobain is such a place. It's located at Food Street on level 1.  The prices are fantastic. For 3 hungry Mamas, we each paid only 50,000rp. Which is about SGD6. 

On our menu was duck, grilles catfish, nasi goreng, mie goreng, fried vegetables, and pandan chicken. With drinks. Good? Oh yes. It was our perfect welcome to Batam. Mmmmm... Sedap!

Tip: if you've got a weak tummy, make sure you only drink bottled water and don't take any ice. Because you never know where the water comes from

Caffein Cafe
Komp. Ruko Nagoya Hill blok R3-A3A
Just out of the main entrance of Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre Mall you'll see a block on the right and another on the left. Turn right and keep walking. In about five minutes you'll hit a turn and a slope. Caffein is not far off. 

Prices are not the cheapest but the iced coffees are lovely. The owner speaks wonderful English and is sincerely happy to help when you ask for directions and recommendations. 

2 iced coffees, 1 fresh juice, 3 slices of cake set is back SGD20+. Not horrendously expensive, but remember, we're talking about Batam. In any case, Caffein Cafe is a great place to kick back and rest those tired post shopping legs.

Yong Kee Istimewa Seafood
Komplek Nagoya City Centre Blok E No.8-9 (Nagoya)

There's a lot of hype about Yong Kee Fish Soup on trip Advisor but in my personal opinion, it's reasonably good but not worth the effort getting to. The roads are small and windy and it's quite complicated to get to. But if you insist, hop in a cab instead - it'll cost 30,000rp from Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre to Yong Kee.

The legendary fish soup turned out to be pretty much like what we would get at any regular food court back home. At about the same prices too.


Tip: the regular fish soup tastes better without being influenced by the presence of noodles. 

Wey Wey Seafood
Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal

When we first got off the ferry, we were hit by a strong stench of - don't hold your breath.... actually, do - sewage. So we were hesitant about going back to the harbour area for a meal. Thankfully, Wey Wey Seafood was around the harbour but the smell had somewhat faded. It was late and dark by the time we got there, so no pictures, but it was a lovely place for a seafood dinner with friends : twinkling lights, seated on the boardwalk, cheap and good seafood.

We had a steamed fish, soup, vegetable, cereal prawn, black pepper crab and 3 coconuts all for SGD$51.

Tip: Ask for prices before you order! Prices are not indicated on the menu. Our waitress was lovely - she weighed our fish and crab then came back to check if we were ok with the prices instead of simply sending them to the kitchen to be prepared.

Food Street, Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre

If you're an 80s child and miss root beer floats in big frosted mugs, this is a must do. We had a snack there and were sorely disappointed though. Plus, it was very expensive. 13,000rp for the drink (as compared to 50,000rp per person for a big lunch at Warung Cobain).

Do: shop!
Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre
Just a 15-minute walk away from Nagoya Mansions is the biggest mall in the Nagoya area. Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre pretty much has it all covered: shopping, food, cinema, hypermarket. SGD$4 to watch Captain America on an awesome screen: score! Matahari is the anchor tenant at Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre.

Shopping wasn't on our agenda but Matahari persuaded us. Matahari is a well stocked 2-storey department store within Nagoya Hills Mall. You can uncover lots of treasures if you dig. They were having a bit of a sale over the weekend we were there with 20-50% discounts plus buy-2-get-1-free offers.

Tip: the cinema only opens at 12 noon and movie timings change daily!

Do: Massage!
Sakura Massage and Hotel
Nagoya Hill Block G 12B

Right opposite Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre is a whole string of massage shops. We wanted something not sleazy looking nor too expensive. We settled for Sakura Massage and Hotel, where 325,000rp gave us a heavenly 1.5 hour Bali massage. Tips not necessary but feel free to tip your masseuse if you felt she did a good job.

What's fun is that their room can accommodate up to 4, with curtain dividers that you can draw if you want some privacy when you get dressed, so you can indulge in girly chatter all the way until you float into massaged induced slumber.

Eska Wellness Spa Massage & Salon
Ruko Nagoya Hill Block R4, F3 & F3A

At first glance, Eska with its bright lights and staff clad in luminious green polo tee shirts doesn't strike anyone as a relaxing massage place. But we went in anyway, and thankfully, the luminiousness ended at Level 1. The upper layers were nice and comfortable and very relaxing indeed. My companions enjoyed their foot reflexology but mine was rather hit and miss. 120,000rp for 1 hour.

Tip: Again, like taxis, choose a shop that you're comfortable with. 

I hope this has helped you if you're planning a trip to Batam!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

If You Give a Mum a Cookie

We love "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff (it's a really fun book and suitable for 3+ year olds), and for the longest time, thoughts of putting something together about a mum's version have been floating in my mind. I think it's already been done by another mum, but here's my version anyway.

If You Give a Mum a Cookie, by Gingerbreadmum

If you give a mum a cookie,

 She'll need to make some tough decisions.

And questions will bring about more questions.

She may even falter and fall into temptation.

Finally the internal battle will end and she'll decide to let her inner domestic goddess take over.

She'll feel all good about herself when she breaks the good news to her kids

She'll spend some time searching for the ingredients while her kids entertain themselves not so quietly.

The kids will be very helpful. Not.

And cooperate. Not.

They will remain very interested in the baking process. Not.

But she will plod on like the sucker optimistic mum that she is, just for moments like these

Which only last 2-cookies worth and then she is left with a tray with lots of cookies

And she will have to find a friend to give them to. Preferably the friend who got her into this in the first place.

Happy mid-week! Enjoy your cookies!

And if you've enjoyed these drawings, here are more!

If you're wondering about the drawings: I've so been inspired by this mum. Her writing is hilarious and her drawings sometimes make me pee in my pants. But before you go all copycat-kiss-the-rat on me, you may like to read her FAQ page where she states that she 'is not the first ever human to draw pictures', and that she too was inspired by and accused of copying someone else. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mothers Day Tribute (50 Dads Speak Up!)

This year for Mother's Day, I thought I would try something different.

No, your calendar isn't lying - Mother's Day isn't today. It's exactly ONE MONTH from today: 11th of May 2014 (you're welcome).

This year, instead of focusing on mums, I've decided to throw the spotlight on dads. And so, for two months, I wrote to practically every dad that I knew (and even some that I did not know) to bring you this. If your husband is not in the list, hey, I offer secretarial services but your home is out of my juristiction!

The dads were all given the same instruction: To complete this sentence: "My wife, (name of wife), is a wonderful mother because _________________". I love how all the answers have come back!

So ladies, presenting, 50 dads on why their wifes are absolutely wonderful. Yes ladies, our men do appreciate us! We can stop complaining now! Or well, maybe just for a couple of days.

Dads, you're on your own now. You have one month to think of an appropriate Mother's Day present, starting now. Tick tock, tick tock! (Need some ideas? Check this out).


Adrian: My wife, Charlene, is a wonderful mother, because she’s learnt so many new skills just so she can give our kids the best.

Alvin: My wife, Angeline, is a wonderful mother because she unconditionally gave up her career and precious time to make that big difference to our small ones by staying by them as they grow.

Anthony: My wife, Angeline, is a wonderful mother because she gave up her dream job to clean poop.

Andy: My wife, Meng Choo, is a wonderful mother because she has sacrificed so much for the kids (career,freedom,lifestyle)

Andrew: My wife, Ai, is a wonderful mother because she makes extra effort to hand-make stuff for Lil Pumpkin.

Brian: My wife, Regina, is a wonderful mother because of her unconditional love for Caden and me regardless of how much we piss her off

Brian: My wife, Sue, is a wonderful mother because she ignores her own tiredness and continues to do more and more for the kids.

Chris: My wife, May, is a wonderful mother because she rushes home from work everyday just to cook for our children.

Chee Meng: My wife, Susan, is a wonderful mother because she stays up every night to research on activities for our kids.

Daniel: My wife, Shereen, is a wonderful mother because she balances instilling in our children level headedness while cultivating their sense of wonder about the world around them.

Daoyang: My wife, Daphne, is a wonderful mother because I've tried looking after the kids during weekends, and sometimes wished I were back at work, while she can do this mothering thing 24x7.

(This is my Dad!!! Hi Dad!)
David: My wife, Fiona, is a wonderful mother because she cares for the children.

David: My wife Angeline is a wonderful mother because everyday she holds the fort at home, she holds us close during troubled times,she holds our hands to give thanks and holds her breath and puts up with our nonsense… all these while fighting corporate battles and fending off deadlines.

David: My wife, Valerie, is a wonderful mother because she is the sunshine to Grace and family!

Dino: My wife, Marion, is a wonderful mother because she works tirelessly throughout the day for the family despite very little sleep at night.

Edwin: My wife, Germaine, is a wonderful mother because she works her days around the kids.

Gerard: My wife, Michelle, is a wonderful mother because she singlehandedly homeschools 3 boys under the age of 6.

Isaac: My wife, Em, is a wonderful mother because she loves our children unconditionally.

Jason: My wife, Samantha, is a wonderful mother because she has never once raised her voice nor hands at our kids (and we have 3 year old twins).

Jeremy: My wife, Daphne, is a wonderful mother because no matter how tired she is after work she finds the time to ask how my son's day went and how are his friends.

Jeremy: My wife, Ruth is an awesome mother because the love she gives to the family, especially to the children are always unconditional, undivided and their pillar of strength.

Jiawei: My wife, Serene, is a wonderful mother because she’s never complained about carrying our 9 month old plus a diaper bag while holding on to our 4 year old on daily bus rides

Jimmy: My wife, Yann, is a wonderful mother because whatever she does, I know that it is with our child's welfare at heart and she'll do anything for him, even if it meant stretching a muscle in her a**....

Johnson: My wife, Evelyn, is a wonderful mother because she has shown more love, patient and passion to my son Kaeden that I have never experience before when I was young, even though I was already a very loved boy in my family

Josh: My wife, Siew Lee, is a wonderful mother because she always has a ready smile for the kids no matter how tiring her day has been.

Joydin: My wife Priscilla is a wonderful mum because she has shown that nothing is more precious than her children, be it being there for them, educating them, showering them with love just like an angel guarding them all the time.

Kelvin : My wife, Sharon, is a wonderful mother because she makes Motherhood look easier than it really is; she is my hero.

Keith: My wife, Madeline, is a wonderful mother because of her "only-my best" sacrifices for my two beautiful kids. Absolute breastfeeding fanatic n best Mom!

Kenneth: My wife, Lindy, is a wonderful mother because not only does she clean my children's poop in the daytime she has to deal with my farts in bed during the night too.

Leon: My wife, Shuling, is a wonderful mother because she drags herself out of bed every morning to have breakfast and chat with our daughter at 6am before she heads off to school on the ridiculously early school bus.

Marcus: My wife, Delphine, is a wonderful mother because of the things she’s given up for the sake of the kids – her job, her time, her energy, her sleep.

Mark: My wife, Alexis, is a wonderful mother because she slides, swings and runs around the playground with our kids; she’s never on the bench playing with her phone.

(And this is my husband, y'all! I wasn't thinking of asking him for a quote but I told him about this post and he readily said "Ok I'll send you something". Yippee! - But he was the LAST ONE to send me something)
Max: My wife, Adora, is a wonderful mother because she makes sure even non-essentials are ready for the following day before sitting down to watch Game of Thrones.

Melvin: My wife, Pauline, is a wonderful mother because she packs lunch complete with a handwritten note for our daughter everyday before heading off to work.

Michael: My wife, Elizabeth, is a wondeful mother because she chose to stay at home to love and nurture our three lovely children.

Nick: My wife, Ashley , is a wonderful mother because no one can keep a cool head taking care of a pair of 2 year old twin girls and a 4 month old boy; her patience and care for them are undoubtedly second to none.

Paul: My wife, Meiru, is a wonderful mother because she takes great care of both Hubby and son, reads bedtime stories to Ryan without fail, thinks of the most interesting activities to do with Ryan and imparts strong values to him.

Peter: My wife, Diane, is a wonderful mother because she loves our son more than anything.

Philip: My wife, Evelyn, is a wonderful mother because she gave up so many dreams to be our kids’ mother.

Samuel: My wife, Avryl, is a wonderful mother because the look in her eyes when she sees the kids says it all!

Sean: My wife, Bella, is a wonderful mother because she can remember all the names of all the cartoon characters of Ben and Holly, Peppa Pig, Doc McStuffins and Charlie and Lola.

Sean: My wife, Karyn, is a wonderful mother because she loves and nutures our little one unconditionally, and that she has the most wonderful, spontaneous, and infectious attitude to being a good-enough mummy!

Tom: My wife, Rachel, is a wonderful mother because she has converted to ‘patient-nism’ for the sake of the kids. 

Victor: My wife, June, is a wonderful mother because she never gives up being a loving mother to our three little ones no matter how hard it gets.

Vincent: My wife, Joanne, is a wonderful mother because she gives her 100% in taking care of our daughter’s every need and ensuring Maia gets the best that she deserves.

Vincent: My wife, Jasmine, is a wonderful mother because she loves the little ones unconditionally.

Weimin: My wife, Sheila, is a wonderful mother because she’d rather wash a million nappies a day than put our newborn through diaper rash.

William: My wife, Jean, is a wonderful mother because she would rather implode than explode at the kids.

Wilson: My wife, Leonny, is a wonderful mother because she always gives her best time being a mother, kids tutor, blogger, presenter, home manager and a wife, while she could have the option to enjoy all the time for herself; above all she's a wonderful mom because she puts God above everything else.

Winston: My wife, Liza, is a wonderful mother because she has been through 2 deliveries and a grand total of 20 months' worth of body-breaking pregnancy, yet still has so much love to give to her children.

Xavier: My wife, Summer, is a wonderful mother because she dedicates her life to our children, 24/7.

Zack: My wife, Mei, is a wonderful mother because she once said she would only have eyes for me, and now I have been demoted to second place, after a 3 year old.


Disclaimer: Gingerbreadmum is not respsible for the result of any offspring born 9 months from this day. I was not compensated to write this post, and none of these ideas and opinions are my own. I

It's Cool to be Two!

Disclaimer: Don't read this if you're not the kind who likes kangtaos about good party deals ok?

You know the saying, "The minutes pass so slowly but the years just zip by" (or similar)? In the blink of an eye, my baby turned 2. Just like that. In just 2 years, she went from a tiny little thing to a less tiny little thing, but one that now runs and screams and partakes in Frozen performances with her older sister.

This year, we chose to do things very differently: 1) Instead of cooking, we catered food and 2) Instead of planning a million games, we didn't plan entertainment. But, we also did not want to go the conventional way so we sourced for non typical buffet food (found out that Pasta Mania has party packs too!), and were very blessed to be sponsored with a 3-hour party rental of a-wait for it- bouncy castle and ball pit!

It was the most stress-free party ever! And by the looks on the kids' faces, I'd say the party was a success :) Oh it was Entertainment Central, alright.

Ball pit: tall enough to comfortably accomodate adults! (Max is 1.8m tall)

The girls had the bouncy castle and ball pit all to themselves before guests arrived. They made full use of it!

If you're now thinking about adding a bouncy castle to your next party, I almost guarantee you that you will not regret your decision. All the kids enjoyed it so much!

We got the following from the Singapore Toy ClubRainbow Palace Bouncy Castle ($228) and  Jumbo Ball Pit ($119)- it came with 1,600 balls! - plus Qwikfold Maxi Slide ($49).

These guys arrived with a couple of bags and within 15 minutes, hey presto! Bouncy castle and ball pit!

One game - we'd planned one game. Half the kids were 2 years old or younger, the other half were between 4 and 6. So we didn't quite know what to expect. Thankfully, it went well!

Our cake was made by the Domestic Goddess Wannabe - the most worth-it $50+ cake ever! Find out more here (don't look on an empty stomach). Come to think of it, I just told her I needed a cake for X number of people and didn't even ask about fillings or flavours! Anyhow, we got a 6-inch 6-layer Valrhona chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and swiss meringue buttercream. Oh yum.

Oh, let there be cake indeed!
Like our colourful paper fans? They were passed down from fellow blogger Mother Kao who got them from here. And they will be passed on to another fellow blogger for her son's party in September! Yippee! Recycling rocks!

That's 'two' for you.
The party was fun but the party after the party was even funner! We didn't chase anyone off but it just happened that our closest friends stayed the longest, and after the bouncy castle got taken away, we improvised and played Limbo Rock.

Despite cries of "But we don't know how to play!", they all figured it out within 2 seconds. And did awesomely well too, I might add.

Yeah it was a ribbon. From the cake box. Improvisation rocks

For party favours, I made playdough for the little guests. Calla loves playing with home made play dough, so I thought it might be nice to share that with her friends. Every night of the week before the party, I was mixing, measuring, kneading, stirring and rolling! But it was worth it - either the kids really liked it, or their parents were too kind to tell me the truth.

Home made playdough, or also known as "a good biceps workout"
This was probably my favourite moment of all though. I'd set up the buntings earlier and the girls and I were waiting for the delivery people to arrive. We were only there in the empty room for a little while. I'm not sure what they were looking at but it was such a beautiful moment. Just two sisters lost in their own little world.

I had an awesome time but most importantly, the little birthday girl had a blast. Why did I choose to throw a party for a little girl who might not remember it in years to come? Because she gave me smiles like this. That's why.

Welcome to the Terrific Twos, Calla Angel!

Kangtaos, kangtaos!
Toys | Singapore Toy Club Thank you for your kind sponsorship! 
Specially for Gingerbreadmum readers! Singapore Toy Club is offering a 10% discount to readers who quote GMUMROCKS upon placing their orders!

Cake | Domestic Goddess Wannabe

Food | Pasta Mania

Buntings | SKP

Paper fans | Owls Handmade

Playdough | Weelicious

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthy Eating for Vitality

Healthy food need not be boring food. I know of people who would say, "I could never eat a salad!" or "Give me a good steak any time!". I think many have a misconception about the term "healthy food" and think that healthy must definitely mean bland and tasteless. Not true, folks, so not true.

But my challenge this year is to prepare lunch boxes for my daughter to bring to school a couple of times a week which not just have to be healthy, but also visually appealing. Thankfully bentos are making a comeback and Pinterest and Instagram are full of bento ideas to copy! People all around the world are now packing healthy bento boxes, and not just for their kids too. Healthy, yummy food that's also visually appealing, who could say no?

Let me tell you this, folks, I have the utmost respect for Japanese homemakers who make these amazing bento sets for their kids to bring to school everyday! Respect with a capital R. Have you seen any before? You'd be amazed, I promise.  

As part of the AIA Vitality Challenge, I was invited to a "live" Bento Making Challenge last weekend and it gave me the jitters. Having my virtually non existant bento making skills put up for all to see, on stage no less, was scary! But in all things, there is always a silver lining, and for me, it was to spur me to make more visually appealing meals for my kids.

So I experimented:
Attempt #1

Attempt #2

Attempt #3

Search for "bento" anywhere and I guarantee, you won't stop clicking for the next 30 minutesas it's so fun and addictive! The challenge is to get everything done quickly. 

While you're at it, make sure you buy healthy ingredients to start with. With over 6,000 HealthyFood™ items to choose from, including fresh fruits and vegetables, it's easier for you to make healthy choices when you shop at Cold Storage. Simply look out for the HealthyFood™ tag with the letter V on the shelf price tags.

Sometimes the tags are more prominent and easier to spot!

To top it off, as an AIA Vitality member, I enjoy cashbacks when I buy HealthyFood™ items at Cold Storage supermarkets! Here's how to activate your HealthyFood™ Benefit:

- Complete the AIA Vitality Health Review and you'll get 5% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases OR
- Complete the AIA Vitality Health Check and get 15% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases OR
- Complete both the AIA Vitality Health Review and AIA Vitality Health Check and get 15% cashback on HealthyFood™ purchases.

Upon checkout, don't forget to present your AIA Vitality card! You'll earn AIA VItality Points and receive your cashback in the form of vouchers by email. Simply print your vouchers and bring them along for your next grocery run at Cold Storage. For more details, go here.

So here's what I presented at the AIA Vitality Bento-Making Challenge: Creamy salmon pasta with peas and fresh strawberries as dessert. I used buckwheat pasta, and instead of cheese, added potato cubes to thicken the sauce. Peas were added for the meal's greens.

A personal challenge I set for myself was to make sure that I prepared something 'real', something that my own kids would eat, as opposed to something pretty. I mean, pretty is nice, but it's no good if it gets tossed. This is something the kids would typically eat on any given day.

The bento I prepared on stage became Poppy's lunch! It wasn't planned, but the challenge ate into Poppy's usual lunch time and she was starving so as soon as she could, she dug into the bento box

The contenders! Regina, Summer (who won!), Dominique, Shermeen

Ready, steady, bento!!
Did I win? Nope. The lovely Summer from A Happy Mum did. And I'm so happy for her! She did an amazing job, plus suffered a little burn on her hand from the episode! Ouch!

But folks, here's what really mattered to me: I was the first to get called up to receive my prize, and Poppy was really excited. "Did you win! Did you win!" I explained that yes, I did, kinda. I did get a prize. "Did you win the first prize, Mama?!" I explained, "No, I didn't, Auntie Summer did."

Then her lips kinda curved down a little, like she was fighting back tears. She was truly truly disappointed. Not in me, but in the fact that I didn't 'win'. Poor her. She'd been practicing her cheers ("Jia you, Mama! Don't be last, Mama!") for the past week. I almost felt like I'd disappointed her. But then, she said the most amazing thing.

"Mama, in my heart you've won. And your bento is the wonderfulest". I couldn't fight back my own tears. I may not have 'won', but in my heart, and in Poppy's, I certainly have. Thank you AIA for inviting me to take part in this challenge; and for giving me this chance to 'win'.

Ok, so not more tears, guys. Back to business!

If you're thinking of changing your eating habits, I strongly urge you to keep a food log of the things that you eat. Sometimes we need to be aware of the things that we're eating to be able to spot the unhealthy treats. I use the AIA Vitality app food tracker, available for download on Android or Apple devices - it's installed in my phone so I can track my food intake as I go along.

What's good about this app is that it calculates the number of calories I should be consuming in a day based on my weight and height, and then deducts itself according to my recorded intake. Essentially, it tells you if you have remaining calories you can afford to intake such as indulging in an ice-cream or something, you know, stuff that you need to unwind with after a long day of parenting.

I've never been much of a calorie counter, and if you're not either, this app will do it all for you, worry-free.

You can either browse through the categories to find your food and drink (which can sometimes give you an idea of what to eat as well!), or simply do a quick search, which is what I usually do.

I love that this app really makes me conscious about what I eat though the tricky bit is that I really have to be specific about the things I input. For example, this is what I had for lunch today: Baked chicken breasts without skin with tomatoes, served with baked potato strips and peas.

But I couldn't find "baked chicken breast" in the app among the list of foods, so I had to choose the next closest. Which probably affected my day's calorie count a little.

Yes, there is also a 'calories burnt' portion which looks to be reflected at zero. Not to worry, I'm doing my part in burning those calories - more on that in my next post!

To get you started on your healthy eating journey, I have 5 sets of Cold Storage vouchers worth $20 each to give away! To qualify, follow these steps!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
Disclaimer: This is part 1 of a 2-part series brought to you by AIA in collaboration with Gingerbreadmum. Existing Terms and Conditions as set by the respective company and / or supporting partners apply. Please check for further details. All information is correct at time of post. AIA reserves all rights to discontinue or amend existing clauses without prior notice, and its sole discretion. In no event shall Gingerbreadmum be held liable or responsible for disputes arising between AIA and any parties. Neither shall I be liable for any indirect, consequential, incidental, special or punitive damages or losses of any kind.

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