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Friday, 29 April 2016

Lunch at Elements & Co Cafe @ Raffles Place

137 Cecil Street #01-02, Singapore 069537
Tel: 6221 6437

Having passed by and read up on Elements & Co Café several times before and wanting to try it out, I was glad that opportunity finally presented itself this afternoon – a semi-business lunch and this venue was chosen because it is relatively quiet / not-crowded even during lunch hours at CBD area. I hope they grow more popular as time goes by, though.

Anyway, what is so special about this hidden find along Cecil Street is that they concentrate a lot on healthy food items – it is easy to spot quinoa, kale and chia seeds etc on the menu even during a cursory glance. Health food items and products are also being retailed on the shelves.

Setting is rustic, relaxing and comfortable – wooden stools and simple tables with potted plants on nearly every table. What really touched us was the heartfelt service of the young service crew who would smile when making suggestions or taking our orders (place order at the front with payment upfront); they even took care to clean up coffee accidentally sloshed onto the saucer upon serving.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I had a Mocha (SGD$4.50) which came with pretty latte art and the aroma of roasted coffee; the chocolate hint was subtle but detectable, making my simple caffeine boost a bittersweet affair.

Green Tea Latte was beautiful in appearance, and had a delicious bittersweet taste - natural, healthy but not overly sweet or creamy.

A packet of Kale Chips (SGD$3.90) to go with coffee while waiting for the lunch companions. This was a unique and exotic snack, something for kale lovers to reckon with.

Fruity Granola (SGD$6.50) - with vanilla bean infused Greek yogurt and fresh berries was a refreshing dessert / meal - a healthy and sweet, cool dish filled with goodness. Photo as above together with Green Tea Latte.

Then we tried the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (SGD$11.00) made up of chickpeas, quinoa, kale, cucumber, cherry tomato, capsicum, carrot slivers, Spanish onion, parsley, mesclun and haloumi. When it arrived I was stunned by the seemingly-huge portion but thankfully when I dug through it, I realised the kale canopy made up most of the top layer and the quinoa at the bottom was not too much. It was a tasty and utterly healthy salad filled with superfood and I loved the “clean” taste of the entire dish, enhanced by the slightly stronger pierce of Spanish onion bits.

The Oven-baked Seabass with Mushroom Risotto (SGD$14.00) consisted of fresh seabass, aborio rice, garlic, shitake mushroom, shimeiji mushroom and coriander. The entire dish looked so pretty in white. He enjoyed the healthy portion and taste, citing it as “unique but good”. Needless to say, the plate was polished clean.

Next, Miso Chicken Wrap (SGD$8.50) was gigantic in portion, made up of chicken breast, eggs, miso paste, Japanese mayonnaise and salad all rolled up into huge flour sheet. Taste was good and strong with miso's unique, umami flavour and chicken was succulent.

Finally, Moroccan Souk Kebabs (SGD$14.00) comprising NZ lamb, quinoa, pumpkin, chickpeas, sultanas, onion, almonds and ras el hanout 10 spices. This was no doubt the most flavourful and tasty of the lot, especially lovely when the  teeth sank into the tender, well-marinated lamb, basking in the aroma of the spices.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Review: Customized Rejuvenation Facial at Fabulous Aesthetics @ Beach Road [Sponsored]

101 Beach Road #01-03 The 101, Singapore 189703
Tel: 6735 5335

Birthday month, so I received a surprise from Sample Store - thank you very much - consisting of a Customized Rejuvenation Facial (worth SGD$380.00) by Fabulous Aesthetics. A little about Fabulous Aesthetics - it is a beauty group with 2 outlets in Singapore (Holland Village and Beach Road), started by Richard Sng since 2006, offering a wide range of high-tech services such as facials, slimming, teeth whitening, eyebrow embroidery, hair removal, indoor tanning etc services. Even the facials comprise of east-meets-west concepts such as GuaSha Facial, and there are also derma-aesthetics services.

Service was very enthusiastic, I guess. One day before - and on the day of appointments, I received reminders through phone calls, SMSes and Whatsapp! Decor was comfortable, modest and organised, with soothing music in the background. When I arrived, the usual Declaration Form filling took place, followed by a male consultant trying to sell me additional facial treatment services in the seating area (no consultation rooms, I noted).

Then I was led to the treatment area consisting of many small rooms, a bed and range of interesting products stripped of brands.  I had to change into one of those baggy tube gowns and then the gentle, professional Vivian tied my hair up while I lay on the bed.

She began with a touch of minty aromatherapy oil - for me to sniff and then a very light, very dainty massage around my head / temples area. It was followed by makeup removal - starting with cleansing milk and then cooling cleansing gel.

Photosource: http://marlimakeup.com/dermalogica-biosurface-peel/

Afterwards, she did the treatment for me using a "micro-peel machine" - it looked something like this - flat and gray. There were these rollers-like thing as she moved the little rectangular device around my face, and while it was conducting it peeling functions, I could feel moisture being "spritzed" onto my face- the effect of the ionizer of this device I guess. It was very soothing and enjoyable feeling.

Before the peel, Vivian showed me a clear lotion - ok, it was crystal clear all right. After the peel was completed, she showed me the water again - this time, it was somewhat murky and tinged with tiny skin flakes (dead cells removed).

After that, a thick white "hydration mask" was spread across my face and my eyes were covered. I was left to rest for about 20 minutes. When Vivian returned to the chamber, she cleaned off the mask and did a another round of gentle facial massage for me before applying toner and moisturizer for me.

I felt refreshed and rejuvenated after that, and enjoyed the combination of facial and massage techniques thoroughly.  Note that because this was a "customised rejuvenation facial",  there was no specific materials or facial menu to refer to, only based on information I gathered from therapist Vivian, so some terminologies of devices / techniques could be subject to correction.

After the session, I was offered a cup of warm water in the main seating area and the male consultant came over to try to sell me services again. His approach was a little annoying, to be frank - no rapport building, just kept harping on the products and services. But that's atypical of many facial establishments - just that most are done behind closed doors, in little "analysis rooms".

Nonetheless, thank you Sample Store and Fabulous Aesthetics for the wonderful birthday treat!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Lunch at Badoque Cafe @ Bedok

298 Bedok Road Singapore 469454
Tel: 6446 6928

Badoque Cafe is primarily an American cafe with a heavy fusion twist incorporating Malay, Indonesian and Mediterranean cusine into the menu. I was here with some friends at the strong recommendation of a fellow food-blogger friend.

Ambience was casual, relaxed yet intimate with the tiny bulbs, dimly-lit concept and brick walls. Menu consists mainly of meat items - very reasonable prices for massive portions, and the service was personable and polite.

We started with a round of drinks - this is a halal cafe so all drinks are non-alcoholic.We had Iced Salted Caramel Milkshake (SGD$8.50), Badoque Mojito (SGD$8.50), Pink Frangipani (SGD$8.50) and Iced Lemon Tea (SGD$5.50).

Kepak Bing Bing (SGD$12.50) - juicy and crispy chicken wings in a blend of chilli padi and spices. Juicy, yes; crispy, yes, and spicy, yes that, too - and a very heavy-handed dose of it too. I loved it though, being a lover of spicy food, and I loved the tenderness of the meat. I was on fire after eating a number of these appetite-whetting wings, but the Salted Caramel Milkshake above pacified my palate. It had a very familiar rojak flavour which I spotted immediately,  and upon checking with the staff, confirmed that there were also shrimp paset and ground peanut tosssed into the mix indeed.

Next, Badoque Ribs (SGD$36.00) - tender beef ribs glazed in homemade BBQ sauce. Tender was almost an understatement as the flesh was so succulent, it slid off the racks easily, basked in nectarous and smokey BBQ sauce that made it very enjoyable.

Then Iga Bakar (SGD$36.00) - Indonesian-style beef ribs glazed in sweet and spicy soy sauce; served with fragrant basmati rice. Don't be fooled by the darkness of this dish - you'll brighten up the moment these ribs touch your palate - tasty. tender amd moistened, with great flavour to boost. The aroma of the rice added a nice control to the heavier flavour.

Finally, for the non-beef eaters - Flounder Fish & Chippies (SGD$24.00) - full flavoured and battered flounder fillets served with crispy fries. Think crackling, non-greasy skin giving way to snowy, flakey flesh with a sweet note to it - definitely not your average fish and chips here.

All in all, food here was really, really excellent and won all our hearts over; coupled with wallet-friendly prices and amicable crew, we knew that we would be back again very soon.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Nuptial Series (xxiii) - The Big Day (grand finale)

After 22 posts on wedding preparations and where to get what, The Nuptial Series has finally come to a close, and this is the grand finale.  After months of research, preparation, meeting with people, fighting, purchasing, handling cancellations and hard work, the day has finally materialized and we are more than happy to get it over and done with.

In the two weeks following the Guo Da Li ceremony, there has been another session of IPL facial, IPL waxing, hair treatment, bridal manicure, meeting with the Bridesmaid, Hen's Drinks sessions (sessions because my many groups of friends do not know each other), shopping for new lingerie and clothes to wear (The Mom said it's mandatory to wear something new following the wedding, so hey, she gave me an excuse to shop and boy, was I elated!) and settling the final coordination with the hotels, solemniser, photographer and videographer etc.

This chapter is a closure and shall showcase everything we have selected for the Wedding. If you are planning for yours currently, I hope you enjoyed the process as much as I did. It is inevitable to feel stressed out, but remember to take one step at a time and things will turn out well eventually.

Something Blue, Something Borrowed, Something New, Something Old, A Sixpence in your Shoe

These are my own essentials and old-fashioned sentiments; they are just items that bring luck, and probably items from loved ones. Something Old represents continuity; Something New signifies optimism for the future; Something Borrowed means borrowed happiness so you usually borrow an item from a relative or friend who has a happy marriage; Something Blue stands for love, purity and fidelity; a Sixpence in Shoe is for fortune and prosperity.


This beautiful dark rose and pearls hand bouquet matches my wedding gown and is from French Wedding. The bridal car is personal. The bears are from a florist at Shaw Tower (Beach Road) and floral decor from French Wedding.


The bridal shoes are from Italian brand Anna Nucci - well known for their beautiful shoes and glitters. I bought the blink blink shoe clip from Shoe Diva to add on so the shoes look like the Guess pair I coveted but sold out in entire of Singapore.


I was and am never in favour of silly or "tough" gatecrash games that hold no meaning - getting through gatecrash symbolises (i) what the Groom is willing to go through for the bride (ii) also may mean that the bride cannot be too easily attained (iii) hordes of "brothers" and "sisters" who are willing to work hard and assist the couple in their union.  So I am more in favour of games that have meanings or test how much the groom understands the bride.

We prepared 5 questions - guessing my lipstick, etc in which he had to do something awful if he failed to get it right (yoga poses, etc). Then there are 9 needles / pins of various sizes and he had to thread through them (meaning "9"  - together for a long time). Lastly, the wonderful treat of eating something "sour, sweet, spicy, bitter and salty", to symbolise that these are what he would have to go through with me.


My solemniser is Dr. Leo Tan, a highly prolific personnel in NUS and who headed the team that brought Gardens by the Bay alive. He is also a marriage counselor currently, on a freelance basis as well as solemniser; I am really grateful for his advice and his assistance.


Another ritual incorporated into our wedding itself, is Hand-Fasting, a very ancient ceremony that dates back centuries back, mainly a Celtic / Neo-Pagan way of marriage. I felt it was important because (i) we are both believers of Greek Deities (ii) I am a Wiccan / Pagan believer  so this is the marriage style (iii) I had a dream of watching / getting involved in a Hand-fasting ceremony before and that was before I have ever watched how one happens, in a circle with the fire in the middle etc.

It is pretty similar to any wedding ceremony, in which the Priest or solemniser performing it asked if we were willing to go through everything together, and we exchanged wedding vows. The only additional step is the binding of our hands with ribbons while I recited the passage (in lieu of someone able to perform this ceremony for us) while our hands were being bound by colored ribbons, to join us together. This took place before the exchange of rings.


We were quite pleased with our montage and coffee table book which were done by Coffee & Tea Dreamcoffeez.  A few friends have used them before - but for cuter images. I requested for something more timeless and elegant, and the results were not bad.  I added another photobook to capture the memories of all planning that led up to this special day, as well as our story.


I wanted a second montage because I fell in love with a meaningful song and the video. So I incorporated lyrics as well as our photos to it, and had a talented friend Danny Ephraim help to make into a personalised video for the second montage. Check out lyrics for the song "Are You the One" by Beyond Temptation.


We bought a pair from Bvlgari, because they are beautiful, and well-known. Also, because David's service was impeccable. The Polar Bears ring pillow are my own creation, of course :)


These beautiful gowns are all from French Wedding, whose service have delighted us so far. To recap from a previous post, I told Aries I wanted something with "roses"; something "toga"; something "fish-tail" and something "dark blue with gold glitters like the night skies", and she managed to accomplish it beautifully. I loved all my gowns, and so did most guests.


Marina Bay Sands - cocktails area was breathtaking with sunset  and the interior was done in blue-and-white as we'd wanted, with a Venetian touch. We hope the guests enjoyed the food comprising abalone, lobster soup, and other delicacies etc. Thank you Aih Kim for all the coordinating and hard work. Florist decor by June Florist.

The Bridal Suite was gorgeous and comfortable as well; we had a wonderful staycation there-  great views, good food, and all.

The famous "Swarovski crystal pen" that we see whenever we attend a wedding or D&D function at MBS.


Thank you my good-looking and talented emcees for making the night a blast! He is a colleague and friend of the Groom and has impressed at other wedding em-ceeing before; she is a good friend of mine, a model, a talented entrepreneur and is very eloquent in languages.


An assortment of close friends of ours; who have been with us for years and have seen us through different stages of our lives.  My bridesmaids wore lavendar toga dresses while the groomsmen wore light blue shirts. We really appreciate their help with everything that day.


Shortly after the second march-in, I changed into the third outfit of the night. Then I did a Poetry Recital as a surprise for The Beau.  I was proud that this entire production was done by Yours Truly - the creation of poem, the powerpoint slides and insertion of the song into the slide.


In lieu of a live band or pianist, we used songs mostly from High Society albums and other New Age albums - courtesy of my collection. First march-in song was "Lost Soul" by Bliss, a haunting song that never fails to touch my heart for years; second march-in song was "Thank You" by Secret Garden and the song for the surprise was "This Love" by Craig Armstrong featuring Liz Fraser.


The staff at MBS - from the Premier Service to the bellhop , were all awesome - very polite, professional and attentive. They took good care of us from start to finish, and we really enjoyed our stay in the bridal suite tremendously - good facilities, beautiful decor, gorgeous views,  and fantastic in-room meals. What more could I have asked for?

All in all, we thank ALL GUESTS who attended or have given us their blessings - it means alot to have you with us on this special occasion, and it means alot that you set aside precious time to be here. We thank the awesome suppliers, service providers, solemniser, banquet manager, hotel manager etc for making this possible. We also thank our immediate family members, groomsmen and bridesmaids for all the assistance rendered - thank you for being our arms legs on this day, without you we wouldn't have been able to manage and weather so much!

p.s.  some of these photo credits go to my brother Aloy and SIL Vera. Thanks.

Part (i)  - The Proposal
Part (ii) - Solemnisation procedure
Part (iii) - Solemnisation venues
Part (iv) - Finding the right photography studios
Part (v) -  Hunting for the suits and gowns
Part (vi) - Bespoke (tailored gown) - Review on Kelly's Bridal
Part (vii) - Pre-wedding photoshoot in Vancouver, Canada
Part (viii) - Pre-wedding photoshoot in Singapore - Loov Production
Part (xii) - Decorating the Wedding Banquet Ballrooms
Part (xiii) - Guest Lists and Inviting the Guests
Part (xiv) - Dowry and Demands Discussion
Part (xv) - Food Tasting for Banquet Dinner Menu
Part (xvi) - Meeting the Solemniser
Part (xvii) - Shopping for the Bridal Shoes 
Part (xviii) - Other Background Preparation
Part (xix) -  Shopping for Wedding Bands
Part (xx) - Wedding Gown Fitting @ French Wedding
Part (xxi) - Bridesmaids aka "Sisters"
Part (xxii) - Guo Da Li aka Gifts Exchange Ceremony